Derby Pie and Holiday Lessons

Kentucky Derby Dessert

All Recipe’s will give you more than one option for making this dish. I haven’t made a Derby Pie since I was 17. This was the last year I spent Christmas or any other holiday at home in Kentucky. The following year, I spent Christmas in Okinawa, Japan at Camp Hansen, my first official duty station in the Marine Corps. So why does this pie have any significance to me? Because my Adopted Mom had all of us in the kitchen working on these for gifts that year. Our names were on the outside of the glass pie plates and the greeting was in the center. For me, this was a big deal.

I was the only child in that house not biologically related to either of the parents, but my name was on that pie plate as if I were the product of both of them. I felt like I was the product of both of them, and I realize now that I had a special relationship with this set of parents because I was their child together. The one they had no other parent partner to consult with other then each other. They each had 3 children from a previous marriage. I know right, then me, that made 7. They thought I was heading off to college when I graduated, but I took a different road and left for the military. I haven’t lived in Kentucky since and I left in 94. I do go in to visit from time to time, and I visit other family in other places that I have discovered over the years. My family keeps growing and I keep accepting that, fitting another name on a plate, because they belong there, no matter how they came to be a part of my life. Blood, marriage, choice, I am grateful for the hard lessons, the helpful hands, and the healing I have done because a lot of my youth was more focused on surviving not thriving. Now, I try to balance both. I don’t want to ever forget what it was like to not have, to not be, to not…

Writing was a way for me to cope, a way for me to process the world around me, and a way to escape when I needed to. It was a safe place in a dangerous world. This is about the most personal I’ve written for a public post, but it is the holidays. I think if one family out there is trying to deal with being a bunch of different sizes, shapes, colors, religions, and more, and not sure how that will all come together, I would tell them to make a pie, some kind of cake, something even those with dietary restrictions can enjoy when needed, just come together with something to share and something that says, it’s okay to be unsure where you fit in, just put your name on the plate. And for those struggling to accept people you were unaware of, you might find that some of the family you acquire will be closer to you than those you share common ancestors if you give them a chance. I’m fortunate that I have been given a chance by my siblings. All of them. I know this is a unique blessing, and I am grateful for that, for them.

As an author, I am also grateful for readers! I write in a variety of genres because I like to read a variety of genres and I go where the characters take me. Actually, I am constantly inspired by my Muse, Jake Gyllenhaal. Sometimes I can read or listen to one interview that man does and come out of it with 1-10 ideas for things to write about. If I could send anyone a thank you card, it should be him, but I haven’t.

If you’re interested to see what the man has inspired (and I do mean inspired, I don’t write about HIM, I just turn to him for ideas and for the past 9 years he has not let me down) you can check out my latest releases and my Amazon Author Page

If you are in the mood for some Holiday reads try: This Christmas or Festival of Nights (Hanukkah)And if you have never read my work before, well, I have a holiday bundle of the first book in multiple series at a special price and available only for a limited time called The First Time

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Muah!

Cara North

 

New Releases by Cara North

For the Months of November and December I have 3 books coming out.

First, in November is the Carly Phillips, Dare to Love Kindle World story, When We Dare. When We Dare Link 

You can join the release party on Facebook by clicking this link: D2L Release Party

Then in December I have 2 releases.

The pre-order link is live for Pure Irish, part of the Suit Romance Collection. You can pre-order your copy here Pre-Order Link for Pure Irish

You can also join in the fun by participating in the Facebook group here: Suit Romance Project Party

Finally, later in December my Desiree Holt Omega Team kindle World story, Holiday’s Hostage will be available. More to come on that one!

Look at me, actually using this blog for what it is intended!

A Short Biography About my Best Friend, Miss Brittany

In The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters, there are several writing exercises. This is one of them. I’m sharing mine; you can feel free to share yours.

Miss Brittany is my Cocker Spaniel. When I first brought her home, I was working as a volunteer coordinator for an upstart museum in North Carolina. I was able to bring her to work with me every day and visitors loved holding and snuggling her.  Later, when I had to get a real job, I couldn’t bring her with me anymore and that transition was difficult for me. She didn’t seem as affected. She had two cats at home to play with and they would all be sleeping on the couch when I got in from work.

Miss Brittany is an amazing little creature. She is independent in a lot of ways. I think that is because she was raised by cats. She knows what she wants to do and she will make every attempt to do it. Even now, when her arthritis and other health factors try to keep her down, she insists on getting in the window to watch the squirrels in the trees. I’ve made a series of progressive steps so she can accomplish the task of getting from the floor to the ottoman at the window.

When she was a puppy, she slept right next to me in my bed. Curled up at my side, I used to sleep peacefully. The last two years, she has taken to sleeping on the ottoman at the foot of my bed. Sometimes she will start at the foot of the bed, but she seems to like her space these days. I don’t sleep nearly as well as I used to.

I know that she is fourteen and eventually she will travel over that rainbow bridge. I can’t even think of that day without getting emotional. She is my best friend. She knows me like no one else in this world does. I strive to be the person she thinks I am.

As you can see, she was one of my first editors. As a puppy she liked to steal the TP and run through the house with it. IMG_4511

She still sleeps on the back of the couch like a cat. She has lost most of her hearing and some of her sight, but she gets around well and still chases me, toys, and her 2 year old dog-brother, Thor.

Weekly Planner Pages for Writers

Cnwritingweekly  

I created this document because I am going nuts trying to find a life planner that is working for me. This is my first attempt at this, so it may be useful to you and you may have some ideas. I am not super tech savvy, but I am going to make more of these. maybe some with writing prompts. I don’t know. I just know I like this one better than my regular planner, so it is a start.

Exercise for the Author

The problem with the phrase exercise for authors is simple. It is confusing. Do I mean physical exercise such as stretches, do I mean mental exercises such as meditation, or do I mean writing exercise such as prompts? To simplify it, I mean all of the above.

Physical exercise is a growing concern for me as time just doesn’t seem to have mercy for me as I age. I could once sit down and type for hours on end. I could lose complete track of how long I had been at the keyboard. Now, I feel it when I sit down and start typing a few lines. I have invested in the naturally speaking software that allows me to get through some writing without the physical strain, but I am still best with my hands.

Some tips for physical exercise besides the things doctors always tell us to do: walk, stretch, etc., may include the use of a prop or two. A tennis ball is a great item to have on hand to roll under a foot, or to roll an arm along on the desktop. I also like the inflatable ball that I can stretch my back on. Plus it reminds me that I could still do a back-bend like when I was a child, but without the ball, I don’t.  I did see they make a chair frame for that particular item, but I haven’t used it so I can’t say if it is better than the desk chair I am currently in. I do know the desk chair I am currently in is not one I plan to be in next year. It sucks. Finally, I try to get up every 50-90 minutes and take a 10-20 minute break. On good days that is when I do the stretches, walks, yadayadayada. On most days I use that time to let the dogs out, snack, and daydream of all the things I will never actually make on Pinterest.

Mental exercise such as meditation is something I struggle with, but I do believe it is good for me and when I can get into the pattern of both yoga and meditation, my life runs much more smoothly than when I am not making that practice a priority. I am a much nicer person when I am focused on being positive and peaceful. Since my day job consists of teaching multiple college freshman English courses, I can get evil easier than I would like to admit. Seriously, one class actually estimated my seat at the desk and where my head would be and then drew horns and a tail for me on the board behind it. I’m sure I still have that picture somewhere. I’m the monster until they get a good grade three semesters later and realize they needed all that work. Mental exercise I obviously need is an outlet for the many roles I play in my life and others.

Writing exercises, such as the one I am doing now, are important. At least in my humble opinion, we have to find ways to work on our craft as authors that are not about the next plot. If I only write and focus on romance novels, then specific sub-genres within that, I will never know what else is out there that I may be good at. I try to write in a variety of genres because I have to write for myself, and that means seeking a challenge and improvement. It means finding new ways to express myself. This blog is a major challenge for me which is why it is so neglected. It isn’t fiction. It is non-fiction and that means exposing myself in a more private way than if I posted nudie pics (which I will not be posting). It means being brave and baring my actual thoughts to the reader stumbling upon this post. Which leads me to question: what is this blog all about anyway?

I’ve come up with an answer. It is about me, of course, you, possibly, and us, maybe. I’m looking to add structure to this blog, a purpose (other than just my digital footprint and inexpensive web-site option). Stay tuned to see what theme I come up with. Feel free to weigh in on what you feel is missing in the realm of author blogs and maybe that will help me give it a little more life.

~Cara

Updates

Moving back to NC has proven to be an interesting journey. I finished my PhD and thought I would step back into writing and the author and reader community and find myself right at home. In the two years I had to set writing aside for school and work, I missed out on so much.

This past year of publishing one, maybe two stories, while seeking full-time employment and teaching at three colleges as an adjunct was overwhelming. I am now teaching at one college (online-1 class) and at my local college as an adjunct. I pray every night a full-time job opens up for me there, but I am not setting aside my writing anymore.

It’s not healthy. I am a better person when I write. I’m more creative in my classrooms when I am writing.

Writing was once a big chunk of my income and I had consistent sales. I’m grateful to those readers because moving every 2-3 years with the military meant constantly switching jobs. I don’t regret the time it took or the sacrifice I had to make to finish my doctorate. I think it is making me a better author because I have a greater appreciation for what I once had. Thank you to the readers reaching out and welcoming me back.

I don’t know if anyone reads blogs anymore, but this is pretty much my website for now, so here is what you can expect from me by the end of 2017:

  1. I’m writing for a few Kindle Worlds
  2. I finished Suicidal, it is a YA Paranormal
  3. I am in the process of finishing Veronica Grimm: Don’t Fear the Reaper, a Paranormal Romance
  4. The Marine Officers, I have the rights to those again,  will be released in an anthology with a new story added to it (look for it in November 2017)
  5. I am debating if I am going to republish my Hollywood Nights as stand alone or compile them into an anthology. I would have to compile more than one anthology as the first 3 books are novel length and the others are 20-45K. I hope to have the answer to that by the end of summer and either release them again as they were or in the new format.
  6. In addition, I have a few other books in the works and a couple teen short stories because my nieces and nephews seem to be angry that they can’t read my books and think I should write something they are allowed to read. No pressure there, right?
  7. If things go well, I hope to get to an event or two before the year ends
  8. Finally, I plan to continue to appreciate where I am, what I have, and embrace this opportunity to rebuild my name in this community.

Hugs!

Cara North

amazon.com/author/caranorth

Cara North Spring 2017

I almost forgot I had this blog. I considered deleting it entirely, but decided not to. I am in the process of completely re-booting the Cara North brand. I think this might be an addition to that strategy. I don’t know how many people bother to read blogs anymore, but I suppose I will soon find out. At any rate, it is always a great way to just talk about writing and possibly reach other authors. I don’t mind social media. Facebook is how I remain connected to distant family and people I grew up with. I think it is important to keep those lines of communication open. This blog may be the web presence I am not super interested in paying for as I don’t particularly visit websites unless I am looking for something particular.

Editing. Never ending PITA

I don’t want to use paper needlessly. I really don’t. However, what I realize is that edits do not get completed the same way on screen as they do in print. I mean it. I have had a book edited by 3 different people and I still find mistakes when it is published! How does this happen? Not little ones either, big-glaring-conspiracy theory type editing errors. Is my system haunted? Is the comma monster real?
It just sucks.
I suppose I need to rpint everything and hand edit it. That will take up a lot of paper, but I swear I have fewer moments when I want to scream whn I go through the last draft that way.

Plagiarism and the Industry of Fiction

I felt compelled to write this post regardless of readership due to the amount of current events that have cropped up concerning the issue of plagiarism and fiction. In particular, romance novels. The kind of stuff I write.

                I know the sting of being accused, even in an off-hand way of plagiarizing. On a popular review site, a reader said my book, Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off, was basically ripping off the movie “What Happens In Vegas”. It was pretty upsetting since my book was out well over a year before that movie was even advertised. I realized the person either didn’t read my book, didn’t get past the first chapter of my book, or didn’t watch the movie. I did after that comment because if anyone was being copied, it was me and I wanted to know. Fortunately, the good people of Hollywood had not ripped me off.

                I know the burn of discovering someone has plagiarized, though I encounter that in my life where I go by the name attached to my social security number. I teach at a college and since my students are all old enough to purchase what I write, I use the pseudonym Cara North to keep my worlds somewhat separate. Yes, they do find me, but they seek me out. I don’t push what I write on them. Anyways, when students turn in papers to me they all go through a system called TurnitIn. The program highlights the percentage of the paper that is word for word found elsewhere.

                Now I know that as a contemporary erotic romance author I tend to throw cock around pretty liberally in my books (Not in the BDSM way, in the use it a lot way). I know that there are only so many ways to describe putting a dick in an orifice. Yes, I am sure that if someone ran my book through the plagiarism checker of romance novels (should it exist-hint hint multibillion dollar Amazon) the phrase, “Put his dick in her mouth” or “Put his cock in her ass” will pop up the same as in a bunch of other books.

                I get that. As a professor, I don’t sweat the small stuff. There is only so many ways a student can phrase certain things and yes, someone has likely said it before. I had one student freak out because he discovered his sentence was used on a public blog somewhere two days before he submitted the paper. Yes, they can also see the report if they choose to. I told him I wasn’t concerned and no one else would be either. I look for a high percentage rate. I look for complete paragraphs or passages copied from other papers, websites, etc.  If more than 20% pops up, I know I need to look at this student’s paper closer and possibly have a talk with them to make sure they understand.

                As fiction writers, there is no excuse for it. We are all essentially telling the same story. “Boy meets girl, or boy meets boy, or girl meets boy, or girl meets wolf pack, whatever gender/species/amount of partners you are into in to, said person loses said partner(s), and then gets said partner(s) back. The loss isn’t always a physical one, sometimes it is emotional uncertainty. Any at rate, it is the oldest story and we all draw from it. What makes our books different is our own unique blend of weaving this tale. We draw from the familiar and the unfamiliar.

                I once had a conversation with a beloved author who said she had one of those “oh crap” moments of is this mine or is this someone else’s? She didn’t copy it from that author, but once she re-read her book she remembered a similar scenario in something she had read. She said she spent a good amount of time tracking down that original book to ensure she had not repeated the scene by *gasp* accident! She hadn’t. When she found it the only element that was the same was the scenario regarding the heroine cutting her hair. I am sure some of you who write might be doing the *gasp* right now because you may have written a scene that has a scenario involving someone cutting their hair and someone else reacting to it. Sheesh, that never happens in life, right? We all know there is a time to worry, and a time to realize that some things are going to happen in multiple books just like it happens in multiple real lives.

                If we aren’t talking about these minor issues that make us authors sweat, but go virtually unnoticed by everyone else in the universe, what are we talking about?   Are we talking about the precedent set by fan fiction authors who have been picked up and published by major publishers? How does that work exactly? I don’t know. Is there a percentage of a book that needs to be original? I don’t read fan fiction. I have not read the 50 Shades series because I think it is a dangerous precedent for publishers. I would like more explanation on the reasoning behind it. After all, if anyone remembers the Meg Cabot issue (I kept the article for my classroom purposes; here is a link to it on Wikipedia) that was big news and published in newspapers around the world. Now, what? Are fan fiction books different? I don’t understand.

                Then there are the copy and paste plagiarists. That’s right, copy and paste. These authors don’t have the time or decency to go through and change more than a name. This has been the issue as of late. Within the past month I have read three different bouts of crazy stemming from copy and paste authors. I’m not going to link them, you can Google it, or log in to Twitter or Facebook and read. These are the one we tend to be most concerned with because not all of the plagiarism is happening to “big name” authors with “big name” publishers who can afford “big” lawyers.

                Not that anyone seems to need them. Social Justice is apparently working to get these people to remove the books, and sometimes remove entire websites. Social justice is not always right. There is recently a review posted on Amazon accusing an author of plagiarizing. There is a plagiarism case with concern to the book. However, the author getting the blame was the one being plagiarized. This becomes the problem. Who did what first in the eyes of the reader? I go back to my own example. I am sure that girl saw the movie and then picked up my book. She never looked at the copyright date. Certainly, she didn’t know about the two years prior to that when it was being work-shopped in my critique group or in line at a publishing house prior to release.

                Readers don’t care about copyright dates. I know I didn’t prior to becoming an author. I know I had a student tell me that The Vampire Diaries ripped of Twilight. I asked her to bring both copies of the book to class the next meeting. I showed her the copyright page. She was blown away by the timeline. See, readers are going to read in the same genre. So it doesn’t make sense to me. If these people are ripping off an author and putting it up, who do they think is going to buy the book? Probably the people who read the author they just ripped off because that is the type of book they like to read!

                Fear not! Romance readers tend to read across the genres, so they can’t just change a name, race, or species and copy and paste either. It will come out. The question is, can we prevent it from happening in the first place, or at least reduce the amount of occurrences? I propose Amazon invest some of the money they are making from all of this e-publishing in a program like TurnitIn. They can take my approach, pick a percentage rate for matching words that indicated a pull for review prior to publishing, and then they can spot check minor issues or eliminate them from the search.  With the amount of erotic romance pumping through the electronic veins it might be prudent to eliminate the “Fuck me!” phrase from the da
tabase of matching words and phrases.

                Sure, it might take longer for my books to go up and be available to the public, but I would rather wait a day or two for it to go through that system than to lose sales to people who are not even writing their own work. Yes, it is that serious of an issue. Every time someone pulls this shit, we all pay for it. Readers get anxious about trying new people. Authors get anxious about letting out advance review copies. Consumers of every genre get pissed because they spent their hard earned money on something they already read.

                We can’t copyright ideas. Some things are going to be phrased the same no matter the genre. We can be grateful for those people out there bringing this to light. Reviewers and avid readers are the number one source of policing this phenomenon. It is a heavy burden and does not come without its own cost. Those people who do not believe their author/friend/family would do such a thing retaliate. Social media makes it complicated as we have seen when people have attacked or killed “suspects” because they got the wrong “Jane Doe” with the same name as the real perpetrator. To my knowledge no one has gone that far over romance novels, but there is a fine line between calling someone to the floor for something they did and bullying.  Professionalism is required for anyone to be taken seriously when revealing something like this. It is a legal issue. People cannot control their reader’s behavior, but they should be clear not to endorse the hateful behavior of rabid fan-girls/boys.

                In a society where celebrities have to lobby for years to get to use their own name on social media, is it any surprise we have to deal with copy and paste plagiarists in publishing? Our society has become accustomed to a certain amount of plagiaristic behavior. The publishing industry giants are bringing some of this on all of us in the industry by not clarifying the boundaries of fan fiction being published. This might prevent new authors, often without knowledge of all this, from thinking it is okay to pattern and pull from another book.

                I say inexperienced authors because I struggle with accepting that seasoned authors would do this. From my personal point of view, not endorsed by anyone, some ways a new author can avoid these temptations or coincidences include:

  1. Stop reading within your genre. I don’t care what people tell you! I only read contemporary when I am not writing because I fear the subconscious phase that might leak out. This means I might rad one book a year and it is usually by one of three authors.  
  2. Get a reader group. You don’t have to get a peer group of other authors to edit you. It works best if you have a group of avid readers review your work. They will point this stuff out in a “Simpsons Did It” (courtesy of South Park) way before it gets to an editor to correct commas and spelling.
  3. Remember that every author raking in the big money was once a person starting out and writing an average, okay, or crappy story to get published. You wouldn’t steal from that book, so don’t seal from one they finally made it with either.
  4. Remember that writes are usually unstable, at least I am, and these books are kinda like our word babies. If you wouldn’t want me to come take an arm off your toddler, then I don’t want you to take a paragraph out of my book. It is hard enough when people tell me they don’t like it (aka your child is really ugly). It is so rewarding when they do (aka this child is going to do well in life). I can’t imagine how it must feel to find out someone stole a few parts of a book (aka I took out your child’s heart and kidney while you were sleeping). So don’t do it. It takes nine months to grow a baby and then you have the rest of your life as that child’s parent. It can take weeks to years to grow a book and as long as it is published it will likely outlive you.

Authors After Dark (AAD) 2013 Raffle!

Authors After Dark (AAD) 2013 is just around the corner, and so many people are excited about the event (especially us, the authors)!
We thought we would do something awesome to get one lucky winner to the event while we are also spreading the word about our sexy little books!
 
The six of us, TJ, Amanda, Cara, Stella, Saranna and Eliza decided to do something that has not been done before!
Stella thought, “Why not do a huge raffle with a freaking awesome prize?”
We thought one paid registration and a room free of charge for a lucky winner was a freaking awesome prize.
So we said, “Why not? Let’s pool our resources and make this happen!”
 
Here is the RAFFLE:
From the 17-22nd of JUNE, readers will have the opportunity to win their way into AAD! For that time frame, each author will have ONE SPECIFIC BOOK, normally at 2.99 or higher at 99 cents. All you have to do, is BUY THE BOOKS and send proof of purchase. That’s it. This is how entries work:
 
1. Buy the book (s) between the designated dates.
2. Send your receipt/ confirmation email to everversestella@gmail.com with the words BIG HUGE GIVEAWAY ENTRY in the subject line.
 3. Go to the AAD Website and fill in the raffle copter for each book.
* EACH BOOK WILL GET YOU 1 ENTRY.  That’s 6 entries, and 6 books. All for 6 bucks. NOT BAD. This works exactly like a Raffle does for your local rotary club or the boy scout TV’s… Buying the books is your tickets (only cheaper!)
 
There will be other ways to get extra entries to improve your chances on the raffle copter that will come available once you do the initial entry so be sure to add the everversestella@gmail.com address to your address book so you do not miss out!
 
Winner will be announced on the 24th on the AAD blog and on the AAD FB page, as well as by direct email!
 
NOW… the fine print: Winner pays their own transportation and any gratuities, taxes, and room service on the room. This prize cannot be transferred and MUST be used for the 2013 convention year. This prize has NO CASH VALUE and cannot be turned in for monetary compensation.
 
And guess what else you win on top of the AWESOME Grand Prize?
 
How about entry to a special invite only party? Yep. And some other hotel goodies!
 
Now you probably wanna know what books will be 99 cents right? WellNow you probably wanna know what books will be 99 cents right? Well…

So what are the books you need to buy to get the Max (30)
entries for the books?

Entwined By Fate by S. A. Price http://www.amazon.com/Entwined-Fate-S-A-Price/dp/1607670771
The Blood and the Vow by Saranna DeWylde http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Order-Lazarus-Book-ebook/dp/B00AWJMPW0/
Lucas by Eliza Gayle http://www.amazon.com/paranormal-romance-shapeshifter-fantasy-ebook/dp/B004DL0N9U
Naughty Nibbles Anthology by Cara North http://www.amazon.com/Naughty-Nibbles-Erotic-Stories-ebook/dp/B00BA1EL5S
Sexy Shifters Box Set by Amanda Bonilla http://www.amazon.com/The-Sexy-Shifter-Shorts-ebook/dp/B00D8G5EWC
Jaguar’s Rule by TJ Michaels http://www.amazon.com/Jaguars-Rule-ebook/dp/B006RMR4WM
RULES: All book Receipts must be sent to everversestella@gmail.com With the
Subject: AAD PACKAGE ENTRY (NAME OF BOOK).
All books must be bought between June 17 and June 22nd.
(We cannot accept any previously bought work)
Now the fine Print: Winner pays their own transportation and
any gratuities, taxes and room service on the room. This prize cannot be
transferred and MUST be used for the 2013 convention year. This prize has NO
CASH VALUE and cannot be turned in for monetary compensation. In the event that
the winner cannot use the prize, the prize will be awarded to another name on
the list.

GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!

a Rafflecopter giveaway