Monthly Archives: January 2012

What’s YOUR guilty pleasure?

Do you have a guilty pleasure? As for myself, naming only one may prove difficult. Or perhaps I could rationalize this one away and say there are NO guilty pleasures. I’m an adult. Everything is fair game. (So long as I’m calling my mother and paying attention to hubby and the kids, right?)

Oh, but I do love fantasy play! Alright, my number one guilty pleasure…

Does flirting count?  It’s not chocolate cake (that I so desperately yearn for), but it is equally as fulfilling. I am a living breathing woman with needs and, eh-hem, ego. I am getting older, wider—er, I mean, wiser.  Yes, older and wiser is what I’m getting and when the bag boy at my local supermarket smiles bright and asks, “Are these your kids?”

As though he’s surprised that a woman of my youthful appearance could have produced elementary-aged children—upper elementary-aged children, to be exact. Well, it’s an easy mistake to make (a lie I’ll continue to tell myself) so I smile in reply and say, “Why yes, they are.”

“Wow…” he utters in shock.

Sweet child.  Of course he must be younger than he looks because if he had a lick of worldly sense about him, he would know that no woman in her right mind would take another person’s child to the grocery store, let alone two. Shoot—it’s not even wise to take your own kids to the store let alone someone else’s!

And to think I had grown older and wiser.  (Perhaps I have a few years to go before that particular feature kicks in.) Yes, well, can we get back to chocolate?  At least I’ve grown wise enough to distinguish between good chocolate and bad chocolate.  You know, as in:  I only eat dark chocolate. 

Okay, that’s a lie.  The best chocolate pudding cake is not made from dark chocolate but my ever so favorite milk chocolate with caramel between the layers, topped with milk chocolate frosting…

Speaking of frosting, I believe I’m plum out.  I think it’s time I head to the grocery store right now—without the kids.  Heaven knows they’ll want some of my cake if they see me buy it!  (Told you it wasn’t a good idea to shop with children.)  Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time I practice my “innocent” look—before the kids and hubby get home.

How about you?  Any guilty pleasures you want to share?

Why Can’t We Be More Like Animals?

If any of you have read my personal blog, you already know I’m an animal lover.  I enjoy reading stories about animals and their behavior.  I am an avid contributor and reader of anything “Humane Society of the United States” and cannot pass up a stray dog in any city without picking it up and trying to find its owner.  All the jokes and cartoons you see about animals and humans, in my opinion, a majority of them are true.

I’ve never been let down by one of my dogs.  Annabella and Jack are always excited to see me when I come home.  They go “maniac” when I open the front door.  They jump all over the place, wag their tales so hard they knock over glasses and magazines.  They lick my face and Jack is so jealous of me, he will not allow me to give any attention to his mother, Annabella, so he barks like a freakazoid until I pay 100% attention to him.

Enough said.  I wish my family and friends thought I was so cool.

When I saw an article in StumbleUpon (my newest find and muse for my blogs!) I felt compelled to share it with you.  I will never forget the time I was eight months pregnant and sitting in my car at a stop light in the small city of Alameda where I live.  In the middle of the intersection was a blind man.  He had a white cane and was tap-tapping in the middle of the intersection, trying to find his way from one side to the other.  No one, not ONE individual, got out of their car to help him.  I was about three cars back from the stop light, so I got out of my car, and ran to help him.  I asked him if he wanted me to guide him to the other side and he was very grateful for that.  But the insensitivity of humans sometimes (not all the time.  I’m not a pessimist.) can be appalling.

Lily is a Great Dane that has been blind since a bizarre medical condition required she have both eyes removed. For the last 5 years, Maddison, another Great Dane, has been her sight. The two are, of course, inseparable.

Why can’t we be more like animals?

PATIENCE, GRASSHOPPER

I interrupt my writing time to take my 92 year old father-in-law (FIL) and 83 year old mother-in-law (MIL) shopping. My FIL uses a walker and shuffles at a snail’s pace. My MIL moves almost as slow.

I must constantly remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.

We start at the bank, where my FIL and I chat in the car until my MIL returns. Then we drive to the health food store and wait some more. Every time I have to help one of them in and out of the vehicle, it’s pure agony. We’ve only been gone an hour, and we still haven’t reached our main destination.

At Wal-Mart, I park beside the front entrance so my in-laws won’t have so far to walk. I almost – almost – leave the car running and the keys in the ignition. At the very last moment, something tells me to grab the keys and I pocket them. By the time I get around to the passenger side, my FIL has locked himself in the vehicle and can’t figure out how to get out.

After unloading my passengers, I park the vehicle and hurry inside. My MIL is watching for me and the moment she sees me, she races off at a surprisingly fast clip. My FIL decides this is the perfect opportunity to do his own grocery shopping. Soon my arms are filled with cereal and wagon wheels and bananas and bread.

I find a cart and dump the groceries in, but by now my FIL misses his wife. We spot her snow white hair on the opposite side of the store and we start our long journey toward her – shuffling forward inch by inch. Half way to our destination, my MIL disappears up an aisle. By the time we reach the spot where we’ve last seen her, she’s gone.

We search the aisles and finally find her, only to have her race off again. By the time we’ve made a complete circle around the store, we’re both exhausted and agree that it’s time to sit down at the nearby fast food joint.

But the moment we have our coffee and juice in hand, my MIL appears. Strangely, the items in her cart are not bagged, but since she’s headed off to buy herself a coffee, I assume she’s finished shopping and has run her items through the cash register.

We finish our refreshments, which means I’m nearly home-free, and now all we have left is one quick stop at the pharmacy. Then my MIL remembers a few more items she has to pick up. And oh yeah, she still needs to pay for her purchases.

It takes us three and a half hours to do what would normally take me less than an hour. I smile, silently thank my Dad for sharing his patience gene with me, and sit back to wait.

Three and a half precious hours. As far as time goes, it’s a drop in the bucket of my life. My in-laws won’t be here forever. I remind myself Patience, Grasshopper, for one day you will need assistance, too.

Welcome Chicki Brown!

Please welcome our very first guest to Women Unplugged, the fabulous author, Chicki Brown. Chicki and I met several years ago through Georgia Romance Writers. We reconnected through the Writer’s Guide to ePublishing and, along

Author Chicki Brown

with Sheila Seabrook, are some of the authors featured in WG2E’s Valentine’s Anthology.

Chicki was kind enough to answer some questions for me and I hope you enjoy finding out more about this talented author!

Are you a full time writer? How did you get into writing and why?

Yes, I started writing prior to a job layoff back in 2002. I was bored to tears because the job was so slow, and started writing what was originally supposed to be a short story kept me from losing my mind. That short story eventually morphed into my first full-length manuscript. Thankfully, it was never published, but it clicked a switch that I haven’t been able to turn off. I always loved reading, but I never thought I had what it took to be a writer.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. I outline, complete personal profiles for each of my characters and do online research into the setting, character professions, and anything else on which I need details.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

There are little parts of me in every book I write. For instance, in Have You Seen Her? Dani Reynolds reflects on her days visiting Atlantic City, New Jersey as a child. Atlantic City was one of my parents’ favorite day trip spots, and those days are some of my fondest memories. In Hot Fun in the Summertime and Hollywood Swinging, Shontae Nichols is a romance author. J Dee Reese in Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing is an interior designer, a field I was certified in back in the late 90’s.

How do you come up with titles?

All of my titles are taken from old school R&B songs, my favorite style of music. Thankfully, you are allowed to use song titles without legal repercussions.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

“I bought Hot Fun for Kindle because it has a good review and was cheap! When I started reading it, I realized that it was about black characters and I thought I wouldn’t be able to get into it or enjoy it at all. I was SO wrong! I am a
very white, Mid-Western, woman. I live in an all-white town, never have had a relationship with any black people and graduated from an all-white school in Iowa and both my colleges were 99% white. You can see why I felt out of my comfort zone. There were a lot of things in the first book that I had to just figure out from context, but that wasn’t a distraction and it never hurt the flow of the story. As soon as I finished the book, I immediately bought Hollywood Swinging and have just finished it. Loved the second book, too and hope you continue those character’s stories in another book.”

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate, of course. LOL!

Do you set writing goals for yourself? If so, are they daily, weekly or monthly?

I did when I first started writing. Now I just work all day, every day and am satisfied with whatever I accomplish.

What do you do when you get stuck while writing a book?

I stop writing and read for a few days. That usually loosens up my creative muscles.

Tell us about your upcoming book or new release.

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing is the inspirational story of Michael and Dee Reese. Dee and Michael Reese have been married for two years. They have a loving, passionate marriage, are raising a beautiful toddler, are actively involved in their church and are successfully managing two businesses.

But their perfect life is unraveling at the seams.

Can Dee’s marriage survive the ultimate betrayal? And will Michael pay for this betrayal with his life?

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The Bible. It’s the only book with all of the answers I need to live out the rest of my life.

Dogs or cats?

Neither!

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?

Not what, who – Oprah Winfrey!

What advice would you give to authors considering self-publishing?

Learn everything you can about the industry before you publish anything. Whether you go all electronic or POD, there’s a tremendous amount you need to know in order to be successful.

The industry is changing so fast, it’s crazy. Newbie authors need to understand that writing is a business, and every day there is some new facet of the business pops up. Writing is the easy part. Learning the technology and planning marketing and promotion are major undertakings. Stepping into the electronic publishing arena isn’t something you decide one day and do the next. At least you shouldn’t!

I advise new authors to devote time to daily reading of the best web sites and blog on e-publishing. There is a wealth of free instruction out there, and these people know what they are talking about. Don’t think you can skip steps in order to get your book out quickly and expect to succeed. Follow in the footsteps of those who’ve gone before you.

Contemporary women’s fiction/romance author Chicki Brown has published five Kindle novels, four of which had made different Kindle bestseller lists.

An avid reader, her favorite authors are Beverly Jenkins, Eric Jerome Dickey, Lisa Kleypas, J.R. Ward and Suzanne Brockmann.

A New Jersey native, Brown and her family relocated to suburban Atlanta, Georgia in 1994, and she now proudly calls herself a “Georgia peach.”

Her many homes in cyberspace include:

Website:  http://www.chicki663.webs.com
Personal Blog: http://sisterscribbler.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/@Chicki663
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/chicki.brown

Is There An App For That?

Ahh, finally I’ve caught up to my children and am now the proud owner of a smart phone.  Santa was generous and brought me an iPhone for Christmas.  It looks really sleek and relevant in its purple, plastic case.  Now I can read my email messages wherever I am because, you know, my emails are of such an urgent nature that I need them in real time. (Not!)  I can also update my Facebook page with annoying—I mean entertaining—vignettes about my day.  With pictures, too, because my phone has an amazing camera.   Thanks to the Emoji app, I can decorate all my text messages with a variety of cute pictures because why shouldn’t my texts look like they we written by a teenage girl?

And that’s about it because, truth be told, I got a smart phone that’s smarter than me.  Seriously, it talks back.  What do I need that for?  I have teenagers!

I’ve loaded some apps on it, but not many.  When I enter the App Store (how funny does that sound?) I get a little overwhelmed with all the crazy and amazing things I can put at my fingertips.  I have dipped my toes in, picking up a few of the thousands of apps available.  My first one?  The Flashlight.  Now, if I have to change a flat tire in the dark, I have a light right there on my phone to do it by.  Of course, a better use of my phone might be to call AAA, but a gal’s gotta have options, right?

Since it was the New Year, the second app I loaded on my phone was the Weight Watcher’s app.  Yep, I live and die by the points.  Now that I think about it, though, a better app might be one that yells at me to “put down that chocolate!”  Is there an app for that?

Music is very important to my everyday existence, so I’ve had a lot of fun with iTunes and Slacker Radio.  My task for this week is to figure out how to load one of my existing songs to use as a ringtone.  Not as easy as it sounds.  If I’m lucky, my fourteen-year-old will take pity on her out-of-touch mother and help.

I haven’t loaded any games, yet.  No Angry Birds or Words With Friends or—the favorite in the Solheim house—Temple Run.  Okay, I did load Magic8Ball, but that was because Jill Shalvis makes mention of it in her latest release Head Over Heels.  It sounded fun, just like the book.

My son is addicted to FourSquare and I’ll probably load that one, too, if only to ensure he doesn’t become the mayor of our neighborhood!  I do like ShopSavvy, though.  How cool is it that you can compare prices of anything from you phone?

I’m sure there are a million things I can do with this wonderful little gadget.  I need a copy of iPhones for Dummies because a mother can only bear so many exasperated sighs and eye rolls from her children when asking for help.  With time, I’m sure I’ll be a pro.  But you know what the best thing about my iPhone is?  The one reason I consented that Santa could go over budget and get me one?  FaceTime.   Because when your child is lying in a hospital room three hours away, all you want to do is see his face.  Hopefully I’ll never have to use it for that, but just knowing I can makes me sleep better.  Isn’t technology great?

What are some of your favorite apps?

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