Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jekyll Island, Day 2

Scenes from Jekyll Island -- Freakishly huge waves rolling ashore. (I have other photos, but they have both my Monster #2 and other people's monsters in them -- I don't post the Monsters' pics on the Internet.)

One thing about being on this trip -- you were busy from the time you got up until the time your head hit the pillow. That's actually really good: it's hard for kids to get into trouble if they're occupied (although some still managed).

We began day 2 with dock study, where the kids learned about barnacles and different types of motion sea animals use. Then, we went to the marina so they could use the nets off the dock and try to catch/identify small sea creatures.

After fish dissection (um, ick, although I've done it before) and lunch, we went out for marsh study. Would you believe that there are one million hermit crabs per acre in the marshes around Jekyll Island? They actually eat the detritus (dark, dark mud), which is 95% decaying plant material. The kids got to taste sea pickles and we walked through the different levels of the marsh. Our guide had them play Migratory Bird Hopscotch, which drove home the impact we have when we develop marshlands.

On the way back from the marsh, we had the infamous van incident with the windshield.

Afternoon classes included beach study (it was windy and therefore cold!). I love the sand and ocean, so I was happy, even if I was freezing. We learned a lot about how sand builds up on the island and the importance of grasses in keeping protective dunes intact.

We played ocean bingo after supper and then I thought we were going to the beach for a night walk. Oh, no. We went in the forest! I was kinda/sorta okay with that, even though I don't have the best night vision. The kids played bat and moth to show how bats use sound to locate their food and we cracked wintergreen LifeSavers to watch them spark. I was okay with the walking without a flashlight, right up until I figured out that the path I could suddenly see in the moonlight was rectangular and very, very narrow.

Not to mention a bridge over water. Did I mention it was a footbride with no rails?

We crossed two of those things in the dark! I was terrified someone's kid (namely mine) was going to end up in the water in the dark. I got ragged unmercifully by the chaperones for being a worrier.

Overall, the night walk was interesting -- one of those things that's better once it's over.

I'm off to work on Chris's book. Will be back tomorrow with the abbreviated day three . . .

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

HOLD ON TO ME Now in Print!

Book Signing Event – Tuesday, October 28, 2008, 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
The Bookstore, 29 W. Broad Street, Camilla, Georgia – (229)336-3852

Please join us for an evening of fun and festivities as Linda Winfree, bestselling author of Southern romantic suspense, mingles with readers and celebrates the release of her latest novel, Hold On to Me.

Linda’s previous releases will be available as well; complimentary gift-wrapping provided. Come meet the author and do a little early Christmas shopping!


“…a thrilling journey through danger and suspense.” – Sheryl, Sensual Ecataromance

She keeps a secret buried in the past. He wants the truth—now. But an unknown killer could destroy their future.

Hold On to Me by Linda Winfree
Book Three in the Hearts of the South series.

For FBI profiler Caitlin Falconetti, immersing herself in her job is the only way to quell the memories of a vicious, near-fatal attack and what it cost her, including the only man she ever loved. Better to let him think she simply rejected him, rather than reveal a painful secret that she's certain would have destroyed his feelings for her.

Investigator Lamar “Tick” Calvert is determined to clean out the corruption-riddled sheriff’s department in his hometown. While he understands Caitlin's drive to excel at her job, that doesn’t mean he's happy about the prospect of working with his former lover, the one woman he tried and failed to hold onto.

A rash of unsolved murders, including a politician's daughter, brings them together to find the murderer before another woman dies. Daily contact re-ignites the lingering attraction between them, but Caitlin won't risk opening herself and revealing her secret. She plans to complete the killer's profile, make an arrest and get out of town for good.

Tick plans to solve this case, too, but now that Caitlin's back in his life, he also plans to finally dig up the truth about why she left him.

But there's an added complication—the killer isn't done, and Caitlin could be the next target.

Praise for Hold On to Me

“…a welcome addition to Ms. Winfree's HEARTS OF THE SOUTH engaging and gritty as its predecessors and has a depth that is undeniable…Tick' s ability to forgive and his innate sexiness are hard to resist and when Caitlin finally surrenders the sex is explosive and caring in one brilliantly written love story.” – Jenn, Romance Junkies

“Tick is everything you’d want in a wounded hero…Spectacular, handsome, just the right amount of Alpha male…Caitlin is a pro and she’s out to prove it, but she can’t quite shut the door firmly and permanently on Tick…If you like romantic suspense with as much romance as suspense…it’s more than well worth your time and money.” – Shara, My Book Cravings

Unable to Attend? Find More Info At These Links:

Linda’s Author Page at Samhain Publishing:

Hold On to Me at Amazon

Hold On to Me at Barnes & Noble

Monday, October 27, 2008

Interview with Guest Author Jeff Rivera

"Once homeless and living in his car, award-winning novelist Jeff Rivera writes passionate stories of those often forgotten and neglected by society. He believes even in the eyes of a gang member, even beneath the soiled clothes of a bag lady or behind the tears of a lonely kid in the back of the class, there lies a common thread that links us all, the universal human story. He has made it his personal mission to help change the way the world thinks in a positive way through his stories. Mr. Rivera currently lives in Miami, Florida. Adopted by his Filipino stepfather when he was seven years old, his ethnic background is Black American and Native American." --

Forever My Lady is a lot like an Officer and a Gentleman in some ways. Was that on purpose?
I didn't set out to make it like An Officer and a Gentleman but I can see the similarities. I think if you're a big fan of that story you'll like Forever My Lady. It does have a similar story in terms of a rough and tough guy who learns to become a better man through boot camp for the love of his life.

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since I was 6 years old. But I had never written a novel before I wrote Forever My Lady. I did though think it would be really cool when I was little to have a book one day to have my book in the library. Now it's happening and for a someone who grow up a poor black kid in Hillsboro, Oregon I just want to pinch myself sometimes.

You used some interesting techniques to move the plot forward with a lot of twists. Why?
I wrote the type of story I'd like to read. I can't stand books where you know exactly what's going to happen. I fought against then when writing Forever My Lady.

How did you make sure each of the letters sounded so different as if they came from two different characters?
I actually wrote the letters first, then I wrote the rest of the novels. So for example I wrote Dio's letters first -- all of them from beginning to the end then I wrote Jennifer's responses to the letters and adapted where necessary.

Forever My Lady can be found where?
Bookstores everywhere (don't forget to support your indie bookstores too), or check out my website:

Thanks, Jeff, for stopping by to talk with us about Forever My Lady! Readers, don't forget if you comment on this post, you have a chance to win a copy of Forever My Lady.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Coming Tomorrow -- Interview with Jeff Rivera

Check back tomorrow for an intriguing interview with guest author Jeff Rivera, who'll share with us about his exciting new release, Forever My Lady.

Come by Monday and read more about Jeff and his latest release. Comment and you may win a copy!

Jekyll Island, Day 1

Scenes from Jekyll Island -- the beach on a very windy, very chilly day with winds from the northeast. The swells and waves were huge, which is very unusual for this area. Normally, the Atlantic here is lake-smooth.

We arrived Wednesday around 12:30. Ate lunch in the cafeteria -- the food was pretty good and it was nice not to have to cook for the days we were there.

After lunch, Milton took us to the slough. We learned about dunes and swales and sloughs and dissolved oxygen. The first slough we visited was in a park, and Monster #2 saw deer tracks (hunting is outlawed on the island and there are tons of deer). We trekked through the woods to slough number two. Here, the chaperones' job was to watch the alligators, which wasn't reassuring since one alligator wasn't visible. Monster #2 proceeds to slip and almost fall face first into the slimy duckweed-covered part of the slough.

Later, the kids painted T-shirts with rubbery, scale fish models. We created canvases for each homeroom. I so want to do that, for the living room maybe?

As soon as we arrived at the 4-H center, my cell phone stopped working. Everybody but me had cell coverage. That meant no email, no texting, no calls. Talk about being forced not to worry, meddle, etc. On some levels, that was really nice because it forced me to focus solely on what was going on around me, not four hours away.

Coming up next -- day two, with the dock study, fish dissection, marsh trip, ocean study, and the night walk.

Friday, October 24, 2008

We're Back!

Scenes from Jekyll Island -- the bridge between the causeway and the island. (FYI -- I didn't take this photo. I lifted it from Flicker).

I did, however, take these two photos:

Inside the van.

Outside the van.
I think this had to be our most exciting yet most frightening experience on the entire trip. We'd visited the marsh area around the causeway (this was fascinating -- more to come in the next few days) and were headed back to the 4-H center. As we topped the bridge (see first photo), I heard this large "bang" and shattering glass. I turned from the child I was talking to (there were nine children, two chaperones, our guide and me on the van) to see the shattered windshield. At first, I thought something had flown off the roadway and hit the windshield (like a "gator" from a blownout tire). Then I realized our guide couldn't see -- something was blocking the windshield.
Remember, we're atop the bridge. I spun to the children, who are all frightened and big-eyed at this time and said, "Y'all, put your heads down." I was afraid the shattered safety glass would hit someone's eye (we've already had one eye injury in the Winfree household -- didn't want to go through that again!).
Want to know the difference between fifth graders and high schoolers? The fifth graders immediately put their heads down and stayed there. The high schoolers would still be asking, "Why do we have to put our heads down? We don't want to...whine, whine, whine, ad nauseum."
Our intrepid guide (I was already impressed with her skills at the marsh; this closed the deal for me) calmly rolls down the window, sticks her head out, and drives us to safety off the bridge. Kudos to Elise!
Once stopped, we get the kids out and inspect the van. The hood latch had come undone (it was corroded and the winds were incredible that day) and the hood had flown up, slamming into the windshield and shattering it. Luckily, other than a few scratches on Elise and Chad, one of our chaperones, no one was hurt.
I, for one, am glad to be home. I'll share more pics and stories over the next few days.
What have y'all been up to in my absence?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm desperately trying to get packed for Monster #2's three-day field trip. Yes, I'm going. Don't know what I was thinking . . .

Today is the parental units' 46th wedding anniversary.

And . . .

Red Rock Pass #1

Keith Winston is tired of fighting. The war between werewolves and wizards rages on in Europe, but he's come home to Red Rock, Montana in hopes of finding a bit of peace. Instead he finds more strife as he struggles against the pack's dictates that he resume his place as the alpha's right hand man.

When he rescues a new wolf on the run, he knows his instant attraction to her could cause trouble. What he doesn't expect is to find himself embroiled in another battle that goes against all his instincts--and his heart.

Abigail Adler learned about the existence of werewolves only when she became one. With her life threatened by a corrupt alpha, she flees to the only sanctuary she knows: Red Rock. While she's grateful for the pack's protection, she chafes under its unbreakable rules of conduct--except when it comes to submitting to the passion Keith stirs in her.

Then her tormentor kidnaps her sister in an attempt to lure her out of hiding. To save her, Abby and Keith must be willing to do the very thing that could get them all killed--break all of the rules.

Read an Excerpt Online for Free

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cover Art Goodness: FALL INTO ME

She’s finally falling for the right man…at the worst possible time.

After two back-to-back romantic disappointments, bar owner Angel Henderson isn’t looking for love. In the past month, she’s been passed over twice by men she’d pinned her hopes on, both times in favor of a younger woman. She’s ready to swear off men for life. The only problem? A certain younger man determined to prove he can be her right man.

Sheriff’s deputy Troy Lee Farr is tired of being the department screw-up. The harder he tries to prove himself, the worse it gets. The only thing that’s gone right recently is getting a second chance with Angel. Except she’d rather jam on the brakes than rush into a new relationship. Now he has to work hard to prove his worth as a romantic prospect.

Troy Lee is a patient man, and it isn’t long before Angel is falling into him as hard as he’s fallen for her. Just as Angel begins to think of him as more than a fun date, her past—and Troy’s dangerous reality—threatens the tentative happiness they’ve found in one another.

Reminding them both that security is tenuous…and unconditional love is the biggest challenge of all.

Warning: Cops who talk like cops, explicit older woman-younger man lovin’, and two-boxes-of-tissues emotion.

Releasing January 27, 2009 from Samhain Publishing.


Note to Rhiann -- I'm pretty sure I mailed it when I sent out the last batch. Will dig through postal reciepts. May just send another copy, just in case. If both turn up then, you can give one away. ;-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

So I Came Home From Work Today . . .

And there was a box on my front porch. So I took it inside. Here it is on my bed:

I decided to open the box. Here it is with the flaps open:

I wonder what's inside? Hmmm. Oh! It's Tick and Caitlin! Glee commences.

Look how pretty it is. I refrained from pulling a Maya Banks and licking the cover . . . barely. (I may have kissed it once or twice).

See? Glee.

I am so excited, I can't stand it. I think I'll go run around the yard now.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Monday Musings

Scenes from Winfree's life: LaRoix, le kitteh. Originally, when Monster #2 brought her home from the flea market (don't ask), she thought "she" was a "he" and the name was Leroy. By the time we realized said skittish kitten was a girl, she was already named Leroy. So a French bastardization and her name is now LaRoix. She is the best cat ever!

The rough draft of my review of literature is turned in and approved by my professor with very few comments! Whoo!

Now, I'm working on updating grades, then I need to focus on revisions on Chris's book. I have preliminary cover art for Fall Into Me, Troy Lee's book, and it's incredibly beautiful. I can't wait until it's official so I can share it.

Fall Break is this weekend, and I'm very glad. I'm so tired, and I need this break.

How's everyone's week going?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Hmmm . . .

Can I just be an ostrich and put my head in the sand?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Good, The Bad and the Down-Right-Ugly

Scenes from St. Augustine -- Graffiti from a window front at St. George Street. I snapped it for the allusion. I'm planning to make a big copy for my classroom as the seniors are beginning 1984.

I am fortunate enough to have a career I love. I can't imagine not teaching, even on the days when I'm tired and frustrated and grumbling aloud about finding something else to do with my degree. Today was one of those weird blends of what I love and hate about what I do for a living.

The bad. Oh, and it was bad. For about six weeks, I've been teaching the concepts of what makes up Post-Modern literature to my American Lit classes. In Georgia, American Lit is the only required English for all high school students and it has a high-stakes test attached to it. The standard relating to literary time periods, their context, etc. is hugely important and shows up on the EOCT and the graduation test. So when I'm teaching those concepts, it's crucial that kids get them. For some reason, this standard is hard for them to master.

So, for six weeks, I've been teaching my heart out. I could see them beginning to get the ideas. I had kids who were coming in for extra help on their Post-Modern paper (part of their culminating activity). I had them write rough drafts and peer critique and all the stuff that usually leads to successful essays. I had 99% of them turn in a paper, on time. I was thrilled.

Then I started grading.

By the tenth paper (about one-third through the kids), I knew we were in trouble. The knowledge was there. Not perfect, but there. The application of knowledge was there -- again, not perfect, but there. But they were failing. I went back to the rubric, checked it against the unit, against the standards. No faultiness in the rubric.

Finally, after I was braindead from grading (and ready to cry because I'd promised these kids that I'd set them up for success and give them what they needed to succeed and they were failing), it occurred to me that the problem lay in the fact that the rubric assessed multiple standards. Yes, they had the literary period context standard. They were missing points on the writing/grammar and the providing-sufficient evidence standards. Lightbulb! I can work with that.

However, that still left me with the task of returning papers with failing grades on them to a group of kids who'd been working really, really hard. And I was going to say, "Hey, you worked hard, but it wasn't good enough. Sorry, better luck next time."? Uh, no. Not in my world.

So they have papers. They were devastated and that was probably the most uncomfortable class period I've ever had. I have no problem laying down a failing grade where the kid has blown off the work or just slacked or whatever. But this killed me, because I felt like the failure (and in some ways I was). We're in that classroom together, and when they don't do well, that means we've not done well.

In the end, we came to an agreement. If the grade was less than an "A," they are required to revise and resubmit. I'm going to do targeted instruction and small group conferencing with them. Then I'll regrade. Hopefully, the results will be . . .

The Good. I *heart* my students. Some days, I want to smack them, but I do adore them (and unfortunately for me, a certain group of fifteen know that a little too well and will attempt shamelessly to turn it to their advantage). Anyway, this afternoon, two juniors came in to see if I'd graded their essays yet (I still had ten or so from one class to go). There were seniors milling around. The conversation went a little like this:

Junior 1, rolling his eyes playfully: I have to go home and read this boring book you're making us read.

Me: Boring? It's Gatsby, only the best American novel ever--

Junior 1: No, that would be To Kill a Mockingbird.

Me: No comparison--

Senior 1: Y'all are reading Gatsby. I love that book.

Senior 2: You have to get to the end, but it's worth it. The movie is pretty good, but it doesn't stand up to the book.

(I'm looking between them, wondering if they're being sarcastic, then picking up my jaw when I realize they're sincere.)

Can you say English teacher's dream?!

Anyway, it's midnight, I'm tired and I still have a ton of stuff to do this week. I'm pondering how I can have the seniors turn my classroom into a representation of the Orwellian society in 1984 . . .