Thursday, May 30, 2013

Should Stella Have Thrown Out Her Wine-Stained Clothes?

Just a few chapters into the book, my three main characters are enjoying a lovely dinner when the unthinkable happens. An entire glass of red wine is spilled right down the front of Stella's expensive white blouse.

From the book...
[A little later, Stella put down her fork unable to eat another bite. She was listening to JB tell Federico a story about his latest fishing trip. JB raised his arm in a mock casting of a line, and in doing so, hit the wine bottle with his arm causing it to strike Stella's full glass. The contents of both poured all over the front of her clothes.

Stella gasped when the chilled liquid came in contact with her body as it soaked through her white blouse and bra. JB jumped up, grabbed a cloth napkin and began dabbing at the rapidly spreading red stain. Then the inevitable happened. First one button then another popped from Stella's blouse and landed in the middle of the table.] (unedited)
Then later...
[Stella stepped into the warm shower to finish washing off the sticky wine. She had left her ruined clothes in the trashcan at the restaurant. She knew red wine would leave a permanent stain once it dried.] (unedited)

It turns out to be the perfect icebreaker for Stella and her love interest, but instead of treating the stain, Stella tosses the ruined blouse and bra in the trash. If only she had known a few of these tricks she might have been able to salvage them both.

For the most part, red wine stains can be removed, but it’s important that they be kept wet. Club soda or white wine helps dilute a red-wine stain. The garment should be blotted (never rubbed) from the outer edges to prevent the stain from spreading. If you don’t have white wine or club soda handy, mix dish soap and hydrogen peroxide in equal amounts. Using a clean cloth, blot the mixture on the material until the stain is removed. Wash the garment, but be sure the stain is completely gone before using a dryer. The heat would permanently set the stain.

Red wine spilled on a carpet is an emergency.  Sprinkle a layer of salt on it to halt the spread. Mix one tablespoon of dish soap, one tablespoon of white vinegar, and two cups of warm water and blot the stain until it’s gone. Be sure to vacuum up the salt first. Dish soap mixed with hydrogen peroxide works well also.

And red wine isn't just the nemesis of well-dressed business women. My friend Kevin has a funny story about the staining power of red wine and I just had to share it with you.

"This being the first night of our time together I reached into a suitably gentle and respectful embrace.Unfortunately, forgotten in the passion of the moment was a glass of Merlot, sat innocently on the floor between us. As our teenage excitement overcame us, the vessel tipped upon the carpet of her parents, who were absent on their weekend break.

She screamed, I recoiled, thinking, am I that bad a kisser? Then, upon the immaculate floor covering I beheld the true reason for her dismay.In panic I searched her Pater's spotless (until then) apartment for cleansing agent.

I could find no salt, apparently they were averse to this blood-toxic condiment (made me wonder why they kept wine though). All I could find in their dust free, well organised cupboards was a canister of lighter fuel. Petrol! A universal solvent, this would do the trick.

Normally used to fill the tool for lighting their beeswax candles, I found for it the perfect use, under the unfortunate nature of our predicament. As quickly as I could I applied this magic liquid.

Sure enough in moments was the stain of vino gone.Unfortunately, the nylon carpet was - Unspun"

Kevin assured me, the parents were not angry. After all, said the father, ‘That’s what we have insurance for’. (Believe it or not)

And yes, I think Stella did the right thing.

(Kevin is a musician and a writer. Check out his site:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Welcome, Mysti Parker

Hi Mysti, thank you for agreeing to be my first guinea p…er…guest on my new blog. I was just told by a seasoned interviewer/blogger that we all had our number one hurdles. So with shaky fingers, I’m going to probe your mind and ask you to share with my readers.

1) Have you always been a writer?
Leona, I’m proud to be your guinea pig!! So, let’s begin, shall we? I’ve been a writer probably since before I could read, which I started doing at three years old. My mom said I toddled around with a pencil and paper as soon as I could hold them and scribbled all the time.

2) How did you feel, what did you do when you were offered your first contract?
That was for my first novelette, accepted back in 2009 by what was then Midnight Showcase. I literally jumped up and down and called my husband, squealing about it. After that, I realized the REAL work began!

3) I know your books are in the romantic/fantasy genre. Can you see yourself switching genres to straight romance or even (gasp) erotica?
LOL. Erotica, no, though there are a few who think that’s what I write now. Obviously they’ve never actually READ erotica, or they’d realize how tame my stories are. I like to leave some things to the imagination. For me, it takes the romance out of it when there’s too much description, though I can appreciate a well-written erotic story. I’m in awe of authors who can do that without sounding too repetitious. Jessa Callaver does well with this, writing short erotic fiction in very literary, lyrical ways.

As far as switching to other genres, sure! I write what I’m inspired to write. I have a historical romance on the back burner, a slightly romantic contemporary flash fiction series I’m working on now, and even a children’s picture book in the works. I love trying new things.

4) What genre(s) does your reading preference fall into? Name four favorite authors?
I’m a sucker for romance. Even if the genre is something else, I get disappointed if there’s not at least a strong element of romance in the story.

Some of my favorite authors from earlier years: Victoria Holt, Lillian Jackson Braun, Stephen King, Charlotte Bronte, Tolkien, Mercedes Lackey.

More recently: Jenny Twist, Ruth J Hartman, Deborah Harkness, Suzanne Collins, and honestly, there are just too many to name. I love something about pretty much every author’s book I read, as you can see from my Goodreads reviews page.

5) What are you working on right now?
Also I’ve got what I hope to be a novella in the works that I hope to publish between books three and four. It stars the paladin Sir Francis, who you’ll remember as Sir Robert’s best friend from books two and three. o, I am succumbing to the latest inspiration and working on a series of flash fiction stories involving a run-down hotel that’s full of quirky characters. It’s been fun so far! Otherwise, this summer while the kids are out of school, I’ll be focusing mostly on marketing, because that’s the other half of the writing biz.

6) What percentage would you rate the ease of writing book three compared to book one?
If anything, it was probably harder, not in the sense of HOW to write, but in the challenge of making an even better book than the first two. I think every author or artist constantly wants to improve their product, and it does put the pressure on. But, all in all, it’s good for us and keeps us striving to improve our craft.

7) Did you set out to write a series or did it just happen?
No, I didn’t really. But as soon as that first novelette was accepted and the publisher wanted more, I already had the first makings of A Ranger’s Tale written. Luckily, I found Critique Circle, where I collected enough honest critiques to whip my story into shape. It was during that process that I knew Jayden Ravenwing, one of the prominent male characters from that book, HAD to have his own story. So, that was when Serenya’s Song was born and from then on, I knew I had to keep going. I needed to keep building the world of Tallenmere for as long as the ideas kept coming.

8) One word answers:

a) Writing area neat or cluttered? Cluttered

b) Coffee, tea or soft drink? Coffee

c) Cereal or omelet? Cereal

d) Winter or summer? Summer

e) Hosting or guesting? Hosting

f) Jayden or Galadin? Jayden

9) How do you juggle writing and family?
Very carefully! It really is a constant balancing act. I have to be at least slightly organized to keep track of what needs to be done when. I have to let go of some things like having a tidy house if a writing project needs to be done. And I have to take breaks from writing if family needs arise. Family does come first, so I make sure everyone’s fed and clothed and has what they need before I sit down to write.

10) What makes Mysti Parker tick? Keeps her writing? Makes her happy?
Being a full-time mom for the last decade has given me this need to express myself, and the best way I’ve found to do that is with writing. That, combined with quality chocolate, copious amounts of coffee, and a nice glass of red wine late at night makes me a happy camper.

11) Can you give us an excerpt of your new book?
I’d love to! Here’s an excerpt from Chapter Three, where Sir Robert’s just woken up in a strange place after having almost died in a shipwreck. He finds someone he never expected to see again…

I awoke someplace soft, afraid to move. My head swam like I was still at sea, but when I opened my stinging eyes and blinked past the blurriness, there were rafters above me. Like those in the Temple, but without the ivy.

I studied what I could of my surroundings. It looked like the interior of a small, but pretty cottage. Vases of wildflowers on every surface and a hand-woven tapestry on the wall beside the bed suggested a feminine touch. I breathed in scents of lavender, mint, and seaweed.

Is this heaven?

Dishes cluttered a small table beneath a window. Various pieces of clothing were scattered on the floor. Gritty sand crunched between my teeth. I grimaced at the lamp oil coating my tongue.

Ugh. Maybe it’s hell.

A quilt was tucked around me. I pulled it up to peer underneath. Naked—that was certainly unexpected.

My head throbbed. I sat up slowly, raising a hand to inspect the wound I’d gotten from that piece of wreckage, but my fingertips discovered stitches. Small, neat ones, too, not the rough patch job we got out in the field.

Sunlight poured through an octagonal window in a door, but I had no idea if it was morning or afternoon. Days may have passed, for all I knew. Vivid memories manifested themselves. My fingers flexed as I remembered trying to reach Francis. My chest ached as I recalled the desperate breaths when my head broke above the surface. It was still hard to breathe. Every muscle between my ribs protested with stubborn soreness, but I was alive! W0as it possible Francis had survived, too? If this was some sort of infirmary, I didn’t see any other patients.

Soft splashes of water caught my attention in an alcove past the foot of the bed. I wrapped the quilt around me and stood. Legs weak and aching, I crept toward the sound. Behind a sheer curtain, more sunlight illuminated the enticing silhouette of a naked woman.

I averted my eyes, knowing I shouldn’t be leering, but I had to know who or what I was dealing with. I didn’t detect any unpleasant auras around her, so I doubted she was a vampire or necromancer. But, she could have been something else entirely, like those reptile-like Alkaryans we battled in Summerwind. A paladin never knew what they might face from one day to the next.

Gritting my teeth, I drew on my shielding, and it bloomed around my hand. At least Omri hadn’t taken that from me. Though wary, curiosity pulled me forward. I peered over the chin-high barrier and admired the stranger’s wavy red hair, freckled shoulders, and lean back.

But there was something about the curve of her hips, the way she moved the sponge along her arms, how her head tilted to her right as though she were lost in thought.

I clenched my eyes shut. I’m dreaming again. Wake up, damn it!

One at a time, I opened my eyes only to meet hers in the mirror in front of her. She screamed.

I took a step back, my legs gave out, and I fell to the floor. “Loralee?”

Thank you, Mysti. I love the excerpt.


Mysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger's Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya's Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind's 'Sword of Truth' series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.

Mysti's other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University's six week free course, F2K.

Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder's Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.

Contact the Author:

Facebook Page:
Twitter @MystiParker

A Ranger's Tale, Tallenmere #1
Serenya's Song, Tallenmere #2
Hearts in Exile, Tallenmere #3 (Coming June 3)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's in Her Closet?

The three main characters of Hemphill Towers, Stella, Riley, and Birdie are all young, successful business women. And if we took a peek into their closets, you might be impressed with how well put together they are. In an earlier post, I created a cast of characters for my book, now we're calling in the costume department.

Here are a few snippets from the book and the outfits inspired by each of the characters.

First up, a pretty suit from Stella's closet.

 [Dragging herself out of bed, Stella went through her morning rituals.She dressed in a stylish lilac skirt, white blouse and a snug-fitting lilac jacket. Tan shoes and a matching hand bag completed the ensemble.

She headed off to work, her mind still filled with events of the night before and dreams that lingered. She dreaded seeing JB today, and prayed he’d be out of the office.]


Another from Stella's closet.

[The more Stella saw of JB, the more certain she was of her love for him. She concentrated on her work and finished ten minutes before the hour was up. She locked up her office and made it home in plenty of time for a quick shower and change of clothes. She chose a pair of off-white slacks topped by a pale blue blouse with an open collar design. Then dabbed on her favorite perfume, applied lip gloss, and raced out the door in record time.]

Riley wore it, but I'm pretty sure she borrowed it from Stella!

[Riley yawned and stretched, surprised that she had slept so well with nary a dream or nightmare about her upcoming luncheon. She quickly showered and dressed, choosing her outfit with care, lest Dierk Rosenthal think that she dressed to impress him. She stood before her mirror in a powder blue skirt, white blouse, a matching jacket with navy trim and finished off with stylish navy pumps. Shades of Stella, but very businesslike and the look she wanted.]

Here's something that is all Riley.

[She glanced at her watch and saw that it was time for her to turn off the computer and hop in the shower if she wanted to look her best when Trent came for her.

He arrived promptly at seven-thirty. She could see the admiration in his eyes as he took in her appearance. She had chosen a midi length skirt with green accents and a short sleeved blouse cut just low enough to show off an emerald pendant that nestled between the soft contours of her breasts.]

And last but not least, a little something from Birdie's closet.

[Federico had made dinner reservations at a quaint out-of-the-way ristorante. Birdie showered and dressed with care in a blue silk Armani dress she had bought today. Her hair, thick and shiny, cascaded down her bare back. Birdie stepped back from the mirror to appraise herself. The elegant, shiny material swished about her legs as she turned from side to side. Gold bangle earrings caressed her cheeks and complimented the tiny locket that hung between the swell of her breasts.] 

So what do you think? Which one of these would you steal from their closets if you could?

Check out all the parts to these great looks on Pinterest:

Friday, May 17, 2013

My Story on Muse Blog Link

I was a guest on the MuseItUp Blog May 16 2013.  I told a bit more about how my novel came to be.

Here is the link to my post:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stalking is a Crime

“Renni! He’s found you.”

Blood pounded in her head threatening to drown out her mother’s voice.

“John across the street said a strange man watched our house for two hours this morning. He pulled away when John came outside to go to work. He described the man, the car, and even copied the plate number. It’s him, Renni.” (unedited excerpt 
from Hemphill Towers)

By the time stalking by a predator reaches this level, it has usually been going on for some time. Many women miss the subtle hints or choose to ignore them as just an annoyance. In Renni’s case, she realized her boyfriend had become controlling. She also knew he’d rather see her dead than let her go.

If a woman sees the same man wherever she goes, notices him repeatedly driving past her house, or receives unwanted phone calls or gifts, she very likely has a stalker.  The word ‘unwanted’ sets apart a stalker from an admirer. It is better to contact the police at this point and err on the side of caution.

One should keep a journal of harassing phone calls, gifts (good ones or bad), times and dates a person watches your house, and of those chance encounters.

Online stalking has risen due to ease of internet access. The ability to switch from one ID to another makes online stalking difficult to prove. It can come in the form of email, chat room conversations, stealing personal info and posting it on the net for others to see, and just anything to harass or intimidate. If possible, get the person's IP address.

Don’t be paranoid about stalking, but never ignore that small inner voice that tells you something isn’t quite right about a person’s actions. Protect your private information, and in this day and age of online hackers, that’s not an easy task. Thankfully, most states now have anti-stalking laws making it easier to go after a perpetrator. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Cast of Characters

As writers, we all do it. We secretly imagine what it would be like to see our book turned into a major motion picture. And then we start to imagine who would play each role. Which actors embody the physical and emotional characteristics of the characters we painstakingly created in our writing?

So, I’m going to pretend that Hemphill Towers is already published and making its way up the best seller’s list. And that I'm lucky enough to be helping Leona manage her new-found fame. I get a phone call from a Hollywood producer asking if we’d be interested in seeing the book turned into a screenplay.

I try to keep my cool, I don’t want this guy knowing that under my extremely calm and professional exterior I’m jumping up and down like I would if I held a winning lotto ticket in my hand. “Of course we would be interested, but I have one stipulation.”

He gets a little quiet, but then clears his throat. I can hear the wheels in his head spinning. He thinks I’m going to ask to play the lead, but I’m not quite that vain...or that brave.

“I want to cast the actors who play the parts of the characters.”

He smothers a chuckle but manages to get out a reply. “Tell you what, send me your list of recommendations and I’ll see what I can do.”

He says he’ll be in touch and I race off to my computer to email Leona about the pending movie deal and to hammer out my casting list. Which I imagine would look a little something like this:

Played by Alexis Bledel

Talented, career-focused, and a bit of a romantic, Stella is a dark-haired, classic beauty who has no idea how attractive she really is. She’s got curves in all the right places, but is a little shy about flaunting them. She’s the kind of woman you want as your best friend -a great listener, loyal to a fault, and if she can’t help you solve a problem, she knows someone who can.

(Photo source: )

Played by Amy Adams

Gorgeous, confident, with a great flair for drama and a great eye for art, Riley knows how to use her long auburn locks and creative talents to her advantage. She’s also not afraid to stand up for herself, but hates to be a burden to her friends. She has a taste for the finer things, but only because she appreciates beauty and quality in all things…including men.

(Photo source: )
Played by Rachel Weisz

Quiet, but adventurous, raven-haired Birdie isn’t afraid to go where life or love leads her. She’s good at her job, is quick to laugh, and is thankful for every opportunity to experience life to the fullest. If you are lucky enough to call her a friend, no matter how bad it seems, she always knows exactly what to say or what to do to make it all seem a little better.

(Photo source:

Played by Gerard Butler

As head of a successful advertising company, JB has the life most of us dream of. His success, his bank account, and his rugged good looks make him a magnet for women who want him for what he has and not who he is. If only he could find one woman who wanted to share his life, not just his money, he might be ready to settle down.

(Photo source: )

Played by Antonio Cupo

Fiercely protective of his family and his business, he is the classic tall, dark, and handsome Italian dreamboat. He could tell you the exact number of vines in his vineyard, the best vintage in his cellar, but has had little time to focus on any kind of real relationship...that is until he sees Birdie. He wants to trust his heart, but only if his family approves.

(Photo source:

Played by Jake Gyllenhaal

Son of a world-famous artist mother and fine art purveyor father, he has both a keen eye for art and a sharp mind for business. His world is full of beautiful things and beautiful people so it will take a woman with more than just pretty looks to catch his eye. He’s not afraid to take chances, but he’s in no hurry to settle down...or is he?

(Photo source: )

Played by Emerson Smith

A wolf in blue-eyed-blond-haired sheep’s clothing, he looks like a catch, but beauty is only skin deep. He believes he is entitled to the good life, no matter who he has to trample or threaten to get there. If he decides a woman is worthy of his attention, then she is expected to accept his affection, and God help her if she doesn’t. Greed and deceit are part of who he is, and ego will be his undoing.

(Photo source: )