Monday, June 29, 2009

Vacation is for catching up...

Vacation is for catching up - on odd jobs, with friends, on reading....

I am almost done A Weaver Wedding - last night i managed two whole chapters. I haven't read in a week. Scandalous. But life got totally insane in preparation for vacation. Today is "officially" my first day off. We have company arriving tomorrow night for 10 days of fun (go away, rain!). Since Friday, I've been puttering at odd jobs around the house, reading through a few magazines, a critiquing commitment, as well as drafting my July newsletter and updating my website (not much news this month). And damn if it doesn't feel GOOD, getting that stuff out of the way.

The kids finished school an hour ago and came home with straight A's. They immediately asked for a grading present. The dh gave them a stick of gum and told them not to chew it all in one place. So funny! We said we are planning lots of fun while company is here, so job well done and suck it up. LOL.

This afternoon, I am going to work on touching up the woodwork in the foyer, kitchen, and the risers on the stairs (we have white risers and cherry hardwood treads). I only started in it November. I think it's about time.

After "vacation", I'm off to Nationals.

What are you doing for your vacation?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Love Summer

Today is overcast and we are expecting rain, but yesterday was lovely. It was foggy in the morning - frequently is here - and so we did some odd jobs and ran errands. I picked up a ring I'd had for repair at the jewellers, did my latest mail out, went to Walmart....we came home and had lunch and our next door neighbour stopped in for a few minutes. Then we dropped the girls off for an afternoon with a friend and the dh and I went to the local garden centre and loaded up the back of the truck with mulch.

The sun had come out and we spent the entire afternoon outside. I trimmed a couple of shrubs, then set to work weeding while he planted the new clematis plants along our backyard fence. Then he went behind me, adding mulch to the weeded beds. It took me until 4:15 to get it all done, and I left to go to our local fresh veggie/fruit market before picking up the kids.

We'd stopped in earlier in the day and they had tons of fresh stuff from the Annapolis Valley - much of it pesticide free. I had picked up asparagus, strawberries, and new potatoes, when I heard the words "peas". Sure enough, peas were coming in a few hours so we picked up fresh beans. When I went back, I got the peas, as well as a half-pint of light cream and a dozen bakery rolls - I'd been a little too busy to make bread and the bakery that sells their stuff there is outstanding.

When we got home, the dh had finished with the mulch and was mowing the grass. Our yard looks amazing, I think. Some of the shrubs are blossoming, the grass is thick and green, and the new mulch looks so clean and neat. The girls and I came inside and snapped beans, shelled peas, and scrubbed potatoes for "Hodge Podge". It is one of our favourite meals in the summer when fresh ingredients are available. My youngest made me laugh. She should do voice overs when she's grown. She was shelling peas and said "The best meals start with the freshest ingredients." What a character. After the vegetables are cooked, you put the cream on, along with butter and salt and pepper. The half pint of cream wasn't quite enough so I added some 1% milk. I don't need to have all cream, but to do it with all milk just doesn't taste as good. The rolls, by the way, were nearly as good as my grandmother's milk rolls. Delicious.

For dessert we had fresh strawberries with sugar and milk.

So - sun, gardening, fresh veggies. Then we had a swim in the pool...and our friends walked over for a drink and we sat out on the deck until after 10 p.m.

Yesterday was everything summer should be.

Friday, June 26, 2009

IT'S DONE!!!!!!!!!!

The first draft is done. I wrote over 5000 words today. Which means I wrote over 13k this week. Dear LORD. And the word count will rise as I get the last 2 chapters back from my CP later. But for now, the first draft is done. There is layering to do on revision and one scene to add. All in all - I'm guessing I'll be closer to 60k than 50 when I'm done.

I feel good now, but I bet my brain will be absolute mush tomorrow. Oh and the title is likely going back to Sold To The Highest Bidder. There's a reason, I promise.

I have to finish critiquing a manuscript over the weekend, but otherwise, I'm done until after vacation.

Pushing through

Working on - ending of OLT
Listening to - nada - at the height of concentration, I like silence
Reading - don't ask. What's reading?

Ok, so now that my WHINE of yesterday is over, today I am going to push through. Sometimes one just feels overwhelmed and this frequently happens when I get close to the end. Knowing there are things to be done before company arrives hasn't helped, and I don't know about you, but I don't work during vacation. That's why it's vacation. I've earned the time off, and I'm going to take it. If I have to turn myself inside out the week before, so be it, but when vacation starts...that's it.

Yesterday afternoon I couldn't imagine finding the time to go in the pool either, but after mowing grass for the better part of an hour and a half in the heat and humidity, it was sounding Pretty Darn Good. After supper we did hop in for about a half hour - and when I took the dog for her evening constitutional, my back felt so much better. Go pool!

Anyway I'm refreshed and ready to tackle it.

Also, I'm in blogland today, first at The Pink Heart Society with a Must Watch Friday post. Then I'm over at Romance Reviews Today's blog with a post that made me laugh when I re-read it in light of yesterday's slight panic.

Also - we have a winner for the Name The EEE contest!!!!!!!!!

The winner is Nina In Ohio - and her suggestion of Darceee! I do think that when you're that important, though, you should be called Mr. So my sleek, efficient, sexy eee will be known as Mr. Darceee!

Nina, drop me a line at donna@donnaalward.com so I know where to e-mail your gift certificate. :-)

Hopefully the next report will be of a huge jump in the word count meter.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I knew it had to happen...

After 7500 words in three days, I hit a bit of a block. The words definitely came MUCH slower today- and I managed about 1000.

I will freely admit to feeling some pressure right now. The first draft NEEDS to be done tomorrow...otherwise this week's insanity will follow me through holidays, always lurking behind me, reminding me it isn't done but is SO CLOSE. I have to finish. We had a week of rain and today was sunny in the afternoon so by 3 p.m. I was out mowing... there is still dinner to cook and a floor that needs swiffering desperately...

The problem with writing as opposed to other day jobs (not all, but bear with me here) is that when I go on vacation or take time off for whatever reason, I can't hand off that week's work to someone else. No one covers my shifts for me. This isn't of course isolated to writing but I think you can see what I mean. It means 2 things. I either have to get ends tied up before I leave, or...and this is the yucky part...it is all waiting for me when I get back. In this case, it's the better part of three weeks (because of National Conference) and I already had minimal working time when we had family etc. with us not long ago.

Anyway I have been attempting to simply accomplish one task at a time and check it off the list.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Identities revealed - the models on my latest cover

Working on: Chapter 11 of OLT
Listening to: nada. Dh is working from home today and does not appreciate my writing music choices
Reading: A Weaver Wedding - reading time is practically nil this week, :-(


I heart google alerts. Sometimes the coolest things pop up in my inbox and today was one of those days.



One of the questions I get a lot is about book covers. I've had a few that I am "meh" about and a few I love, and Hired: The Italian's Bride is one that I am particularly fond of. I have to admit, in my head I had a picture of Luca and Mari in formal dress on a lovely staircase, but when I saw the cover I was pleased. Especially with Luca. I also loved the mountains in the background.


I've received e-mail asking if I knew who the hero was on the cover, and I have had to answer not a clue - until today. Did I mention I heart google alerts? His name is Robert Nuzzie and he's put the cover up on his blog today! Go on over and have a peek! He does lots of covers - I had fun scrolling through and seeing some of the latest ones he's been on and how his look changes for each one...


I also know who the heroine is - and while her hair is a bit lighter than in the book (which was more of a sable colour) her look works for this cover. Not sure if she has a blog or not, but you can see her profile HERE. Her name is Kyli Knaack and she contacted me some time ago on myspace - cool beans!

Oh and my blog is up at My Friend Amy - all about trading in my jeans and boots for heels and glamour!


In other news, I'm closing in on a decision for naming my eee pc. Some of the ideas have been so funny and inspired. Here are some favourites:


Darcee - need I say more?


In light of my PHS Male on Monday choices - Facinelleee and Danceee (snicker)


My CP suggested Jamieee for Jamie Bamber (man, I could have my hands on him every day)


There was also Manlee and Studlee (another snicker) and one of my Perfect Pitch finalists suggested 9-inch Hoteee (which might take a bit of explaining, hmmm)


Then there's Dobbeee (my own personal slave a la Harry Potter)


And this one made me chuckle: Fabeeeo


You guys were far more inspired than I was, because at first I was tempted to stick with Georgeee (George is so stable and reliable).


Now - decisions decisions!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Name my eee, bargains and blogs

Working on: Critiques and chapter ten of OLT
Listening to: nothing - working in silence today
Reading: A Weaver Wedding (not much reading time)


Three points today:

Number one keep sending me eee names. I have had such a great laugh at some of them and some are truly inspired. I'll probably pick tomorrow.


Two: I'm at the Pink Heart Society today talking about my tbr. The post would have been too long if I'd mentioned the 40 books left in my tbr not to mention the 40 I've already read, so I've hit a few highlights of what I've read this year and what I'm looking forward to.


Three: Mills and Boon are having a sale and it only goes until the end of the month. Online is the most likely place to find HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE in the UK, and now you can get it on sale.


To celebrate the summer and (hopefully) the chance for some relaxing reading in the sun we'd like to give you an exclusive offer of 30% OFF at www.millsandboon.co.uk. This offer runs until 30th June so hurry and place your order NOW!To claim your discount go to www.millsandboon.co.uk and start shopping. Enter the code SUNSCREEN79 into the promotion code box as you check out and your discount will automatically be applied to your order.
Off to get to work - my day will slow at about 1 p.m. as the dh is having dental surgery today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Name my eee....win an e-prize!


Ok, so I took my eee pc to the doc office today and got about 400 words done in the 20 min wait. AWESOME. But I was feeling a little disconnected from my new best friend - it occurred to me that he doesn't even have a name.


Yes, my eee is a boy. A man really, the best kind of man. He does what I want on command, he helps me work, he doesn't talk back, he's always ready. Oh baby. He's slim, sleek, and highly efficient. Need I say more? How can such a paragon remain nameless?


I have to admit the girls had fun trying - how about "Frankeee?" "Joe-eee?" So this is your chance. Drop me a line at donna@donnaalward.com with your name suggestion and the winning entry will win an amazon gift certificate delivered right to your inbox.


Have fun! I'm off to play with...um...my eee.

Lots 'o stuff

Working on: last third of OLT
Listening to: Battlestar Galactica Season 1 Soundtrack
Reading: A Weaver Wedding, SSE

This week is already getting ahead of me, and I have about 12 k to write. Holy crapsticks.

I have to do a critique today, load a blog, and make headway on word count. I have a hair appt this afternoon that I probably shouldn't have made, but it takes 6 weeks to 2 months to get in to see my hairdresser and with Nationals coming up, I bit the bullet.

This week also sees me at My Friend Amy on Wednesday and at Romance Reviews Today on Friday.

The weekend was nuts. Saturday morning, we ran errands and re-stocked the larder...and by the time we got home and had lunch it was 2 p.m. I was bagged and spent the afternoon with the kids. After supper the girls and I watched Josh Groban in CHESS - fantastic. They both really enjoyed it as did I. They like musical theatre a lot and this production was great as well as being at the Royal Albert Hall (gorgeous). It was on PBS's Great Performances so if you get a chance to watch, do it.

I also finished reading The Family He Wanted by Karen Sandler, making it my 40th read of the year.

Yesterday was cleaning day. After giving dh his Father's Day presents and making him breakfast in bed, we started on the house. (Note: The woodpecker doesn't enjoy the rain so for the last 2 days we've been spared the 5:30 a.m. wake up drumming.) The house is clean as well as the office and family room being housecleaned. I also did the foyer and hall and the back hall and parts of the kitchen. All that is left is the small half bath downstairs and some of the kitchen cupboards. Hooray! But I was tired last night. :-)

Also I think dd1 has developed a sinus infection thanks to the pool (and not plugging her nose when she does flips and handstands). She has been so congested since Thursday and her dip. SO a trip to the doc this week hopefully - which will also eat at my writing time. But we need to get her straightened away - and while at the drugstore I'll be picking up nose plugs for her. We can't go through THIS all summer.

And dh has dental surgery tomorrow afternoon and it means I have to be there to get instructions and to drive him home. Did I mention there is no school on Friday? And that I have about 12k to write this week before company arrives for holidays?

Gulp.

Anyway, off I go, to check the first thing off my list....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Best Husband in the World

Working on: Chapter 10 of OLT
Listening to: nothing - dh is sleeping after flying the red eye
Reading: The Family He Wanted, Karen Sandler

I have the best husband in the world.

For a few months i have been drooling over Acer Aspires and Asus Eee PC's. Our old laptop is cracked and slow and with a battery life of approx 30 seconds, and I would love to be able to work on the deck, or on the move. We had thought I would buy myself one after royalties came through, but then I decided not to spend the money at the moment. I figured I'd take the old girl to DC with me for nationals so I could send e-mail at least to the husband, and to the kids at camp.

The last few weeks have been rough. Not necessarily for me - but for the family in general. My father in law had an aneurism repaired with open heart surgery - a four hour procedure that ended up much closer to eight (The discussion with the surgeon was very enlightening as to the tricky nature of the surgery). He and my mother in law arrived three days prior for his pre-op testing. The day before the operation, my sister in law arrived. The day of the surgery was one of the most stressful things I have been through. I couldn't focus, I read a book to keep my mind off things and carried the phone with me everywhere. More family arrived last weekend, and I taught a workshop as well as carting kids around. Still - easier for me than it was for my husband and his siblings and mum. I'm pleased to say the old guy's doing well and the mother in law is still here until he is discharged - hopefully in a few more days.


ANYWAY where this is all going is that my husband had to fly to Calgary yesterday for a meeting, and he flew back on the red eye rather than stay all night and fly home today (which is why he's sleeping now). He came in this morning, had some raisin bran and a chat with his mum and me, and then brought a box over and put it in my lap.

It was the eee pc.

Once I got my mouth closed again he told me it was as a thanks for all I'd done over the last few weeks and now I could take it to DC and be portable. No excuse for not e-mailing now! :-) I fired it up, loaded antivirus, updated xp, and gushed. It is so cute, so light, so SMALL! I can't believe he did it. Well actually, I can, because that's the kind of guy he is. But I totally wasn't expecting it. What a guy!


Now - I am off to try to make a dent in word count - if I can hit 40k by the end of this week it will be a real accomplishment and I might be able to finish this baby before the end of the month. Right after I pick up the pup from the groomer's and drop my MIL at the hospital...


And one more thing - pop over to the PHS today as Executive Editor Marsha Zinberg is blogging about Harlequin's Famous Firsts program! Reading her post, it is so cool to realize that these bestselling authors started out submitting, getting rejected, and making that first Harlequin sale. So inspiring! I wonder if they look back and think "Who knew when I signed on for that first book, that this is where I'd end up?" Anyway go read. There's a fabulous prize from Harlequin up for grabs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hired: The Italian's Bride review

Working on: OLT - I HOPE!
Listening to: Il Divo, the Promise
Reading: The Pact, Jodi Picoult

Oh, a good night's sleep. Bliss. Although the Northern Flicker jackhammering at the eavestrough outside our window at 5:30 was annoying. I shooed it twice. Just got back in bed and I heard this click, click, click. I wondered if one of the girls was up and trying to sneak into our room. I finally got up and stuck my head out my bedroom door and here was MIL's yorkie - Roxy - three steps from the top of the stairs. I laughed and tucked her into bed with the dh and me. She snuggled for a while and then went back downstairs around 6:30. What a character.

I was so tired last night the dh was playing with my hair while we were all watching tv and I nodded off. The phone rang and nearly gave me a heart attack!

Anyway it's a nice sunny day here so I am hoping to get some work done. I am dropping the MIL off at the hospital and then later this afternoon we are all going in to visit and then out to dinner.

There's a new review for Hired: The Italian's Bride as well. I have to say first though that my sister called last night and said it was her favourite yet. Anyway - Kay James over at Romance Reader at Heart has reviewed and given HIB four roses. She called it "True escapist romance, well-written and with wonderfully realistic characters, it is the perfect way to spend an idle afternoon."

She said some other nice things as well - you can see the whole review at their site.


Now - curse that Julie Cohen for starting this for her Girl On Mars release. I have done it now as well and knew the moment I saw the guns that they were my weapon of choice - I can't resist the leg holster (if you remember my Nate in Falling for Mr. Dark and Dangerous - he had a leg holster too).


Monday, June 15, 2009

Pants found

The capris are found - they had been put with my mother in law's clean stuff. Phew!

And the sun bleached out the purple. WEIRD. Anyway the day is running away with me so I'm leaving this short and sweet....

Hope to be back tomorrow. :-)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Arrrrrgh!!!!!!!!!!!

It all started with one drop of watermelon juice.

It really and truly did. One drop, on my new white shirt. No biggie, right? I'll just use my tide-to-go pen and it will be right as rain.

Used tide to go pen.

Ten minutes later realized the spot where I'd used the pen was yellow. Nice, round, yellowy splotch. Take off shirt and put on Shout and scrub by hand.

Still yellow.

Mother in law suggests baking soda and vinegar - rinse after it stops bubbling. I do this and hang it on the line.

Normally the sun is a fantastic bleacher. Not today. STILL YELLOW.

Ok. White shirt plus bleach. Which should really equal blindingly white shirt at the end of it.

End result:

White shirt with LAVENDER SPLOTCHES, completely ruined. How does a white shirt suddenly manufacture PURPLE? The mind boggles.

All from 1 drop of watermelon juice.

Did I mention it was the FIRST time I wore the shirt?

ARRRRRGH!

When I bought it, I also bought a pair of beige capri pants. They have disappeared after one wearing. Not in any of the hampers, nor in my closet or drawers - I've checked three times.

Sometimes I just wonder. Sigh. If there is a silver lining it is that I now have a completely sparkling, santized SINK.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A sigh of relief

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes to the family this week. It was a rough day yesterday - things a little more complicated than anticipated with the surgery and it was very, very long. At the end of it though, things had smoothed out and today my FIL is actually doing better than expected. What a rollercoaster - from yesterday's worry to last night's relief to the MIL calling me with excitement at his progress today.

The house will be a bit of revolving door this weekend and I made a stop at the grocery store. I am debating sleep or write. Sleep might just win and word count be damned.

Back on Monday - with more about HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Digging into the vault....



Working on: Chapter nine of OLT, waiting for news from the hospital
Listening to: Il Divo The Promise
Reading: Guernsey book - time at a premium, but very enjoyable

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the blog posts I wrote while writing HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE. Back then my working title was The Italian's Surprise Proposal. So here we go - I've dug back in the vault - or archives - and pulled out this!

I'm getting really excited now. I set up an empty word count meter for the new WIP and I've picked a suitably buzz-wordish working title - The Italian's Surprise Proposal. Which will probably change once I get going but oh well.

I did my character sheets this morning and it was SO much fun. With the focus on internal conflict, I really let loose and tried to get to what makes these characters tick. And let me just say...my hero is scrumptious and he is going to drive the heroine crazy. He's going to threaten everything she believes and tries to accomplish whilst being charm and gorgeousness itself....or at least that's the hope.

The hard part was finding casting and maybe I don't need to do it but it grounds me when I start. As things go on, my vision sometimes gets tweaked. And it should because they take on lives of their own.


For a heroine I wanted someone pretty, dainty, someone I could make uptight and rigid at the beginning and then blossom at the end. I ended up with Rebecca Herbst from General Hospital. This picture encapsulates the whole "blossom" idea:



Then there was my Italian. Coincidentally, this guy ISN'T Italian but the look is right. I wanted someone who is fun, who really knows how to enjoy life...but who is also focused and works hard, a real competitor.

If any of you watch the US Dancing with the Stars, you'll recognize Maksim. I love watching him dance because it really looks like he does it for the love of it and that's something I needed in my hero.It's a long weekend here so I won't start any writing until Tuesday of next week, but I don't remember when I was so primed to start a new story. I'm falling for the characters already, and can't wait to see them fall in love.


I actually like the cover of HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE a lot and I think their pic of the hero ended up being more like Luca than my original casting.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff about H:IB.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Doggie Politics

Am having difficulty typing. Small doggie on lap, with paws and very cute chin resting on my wrist pad. Big doggie pretending we don't exist.

It all started like this: we went out this morning and I was afraid to give both dogs run of the house while I was at the hospital, so I kennelled Dreamer and left Roxy to her own devices. She's too short to even jump on the furniture - what harm can she do?

Came home to doggies very excited to see me, one in particular that forgave me for putting her in a crate while leaving Guest Doggie with run of the house.

However Roxy - that's Guest Doggie - decided Dreamer's mat by the window was THE place to be and claimed it - she only takes up about an eighth of the mat but Dreamer was quite put out. Stared at her for a while which had no effect. Slept on the floor. Then Roxy got up and Dreamer immediately reclaimed the mat.

Roxy then went and sniffed at the crate with the puffy blanket and decided that no, my lap would be a much better revenge. She came over, gave a bark, and presented me with her backside which is Roxy speak for "I'm ready to be picked up now."

I couldn't resist. I picked her up. She is now sleeping with her paws and head on my wrist pad and Dreamer is ignoring us very pointedly.

I'm enjoying myself immensely. Now if I could only reach my camera....

When it makes me laugh...

Working on: Chapter nine OLT
Listening to: The Most Relaxing Classical Album in the World Ever
Reading: The Guernsey book and LOVING it

I started the Guernsey book last night and I adore it already. Juliet is the kind of girl you'd like to go to the pub with, have one too many G&T's and then hope what you did afterwards didn't make the morning papers. I am looking forward to digging in further. Several times I sputtered out a laugh as I read.


This morning I went with the dh and MIL to the hospital to visit the FIL. One more test today and then hopefully everything is a go for tomorrow. Other than working a bit, I'm on food and bedding duty. :-) Oh and puppies. The MIL's yorkie has settled in completely and when the visit is over she will need to learn to walk again as my girls get a kick out of carrying her everywhere. I took her for a walk with Dreamer this morning and she met the neighbour Westie (named, appropriately, Fergus). She sniffed, gave a growl, and he laid his head on his paws and looked up at her with adoring eyes. It was a hoot. A while ago I had a dog on each side of my office chair keeping me company. The order of things was established immediately and now they are the best of friends. Dreamer was a mummy's girl last night though and was keeping very close for pats and rubs of reassurance that I hadn't become fickle.


I'm off to put some dough in the breadmaker for buns and then hopefully adding to word count the slightest bit.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE release day!

Working on: Chapter nine of OLT
Listening to: Damn, I need to put on a CD
Reading: Guernsey book (yesterday was a false start)


Today is the official release day for HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE! When I am waiting for a book to come out, sometimes it seems to take so long (has it really been 5 months since the last?) but then it is here and I wonder where the time went.


To celebrate release day, I'm blogging at Moody Muses about writing hot button topics, and I'm also over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs about having a full house this week.


My inlaws have arrived and we have a second doggie in the house. She is a teeny yorkie, about 9 lbs best guess. She trotted in, gave my inquisitive Dreamer a snarl, and established pecking order. It was so comical. Dreamer's nose is slightly out of joint but she is pouting and trying not to show it. Roxy is a fabulous dog with personality plus and I knew there would be no trouble having her. She simply demands to be treated like the queen she is. The only problem is with food. Dreamer thinks anything put on the floor in a bowl should be hers. So I can't leave Roxy's food out. It is a small thing and we work around it.


Anyway everything seems to be in order and I will be working when I can. Some days will be busier than others, so I will just make the most of the hours I squeeze in. It is nice to have people in the house.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Little bits

Working on: critiquing and tidying chap 8 of OLT
Listening to: Paul Potts, and wondering what I've done with my Band of Brothers CD
Reading: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (here on out named Guernsey book)

It is Monday and time to launch back in to things. Michelle tells me gardens cannot be tamed but I beg to differ, at least until the next time it gets out of control. I spent most of yesterday afternoon outside working in the garden and then helping the dh put together our firepit. We are looking forward to friends visiting at the end of the month. As I put the grates in for the last step, I looked at the dh and said it was just asking for s'mores. Fingers crossed for good weather when they are here.

I finished reading Home Again by Jules Bennett as well - making it my 38th read of the year. I'm hoping to make 42 by the end of the month. To be on track with 100 for the year, it should be 50. But a lot of my reading has been single title length so I'm not too worried.

We do have a meeting later today, and the girls have their Girl Guide end of the year do, and the inlaws are arriving at suppertime. My FIL is having major surgery this week, and so my MIL will be staying with us until he is discharged from the hospital. She is bringing her very cute Yorkie so our puplet will have company. Also my sister in law will be here for part of that time. But they are easy company, and to be honest it feels good to be able to DO something as when we lived in Alberta we often felt helpless in these situations.

I have a chapter to crit for Michelle, and I need to get cracking on my own story. A few other work-type things have caused distraction but I really do need to focus.

Tomorrow, Hired: The Italian's Bride releases, so I'm going to be doing some posts about that, about writing the book, excerpts, that sort of thing. It should be fun! To kick things off, I'm over at the Harlequin Romance Author Blog today.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Book Blog and Reel Review

The next book to blog is Love According To Lily by Julianne MacLean.

I only have one more JM book on my shelf, and it's the third of the Mistress Diaries trilogy so I have three of hers on the wish list for my next book order (and then I will have all her books except her early HH's). I zoomed through this book pretty fast for me - reading the bulk of it on Friday night and staying up until midnight to do so.

There are moments in every Julianne book that just make me go "WOW" and this one was no exception. In this book, the sexual tension is so intense I was on the edge of my seat. He is so determined to think of Lily as a sister and when she kisses up his arm and he tells her she has to stop doing that, oh MY. Whitby is lovely. I had his disease figured out fairly quickly and so it was neat watching all that unfold. As well, I love it when secondary relationships hit me right in the heart, and Lily's longing for acceptance from her mother was heartbreaking. Insert many sniffs.

I will say that out of the 5 American Heiress books I've read, I've loved them all but my favourite has got to be Her Own Private Hero followed closely by Surrender to a Scoundrel.

And we watched Wall-E with the kids this weekend. I wasn't sure what to make of it when it started, but in the end it really makes a powerful statement about humanity and what we're doing to our planet and ourselves. Also the non-verbal communication and making robotic protagonists sympathetic is brilliant.

Off to take doggie for a swim at the lake.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday

Working on: Chapter 8 of OLT
Listening to: washer's spin cycle
Reading: Love According to Lily, Julianne MacLean

It's Friday - banking day, grocery day, writing day. It's also lovely and sunny so I'm washing up the darks and hanging them out, and probably working in the yard later this afternoon.

Last night a friend and I went for dinner. We do this every few months and our husbands graciously offer to chauffeur so we can share a bottle of wine if we choose. Since her husband is away at the moment, mine pulled double duty, so we stayed close to home - we went to the pub at the local inn.

We commented during the meal that we have yet to be disappointed in any menu item during any visit. When we walked in, the manager took our drink orders and was friendliness personified. Our waitress was fantastic. I initially thought I'd order more of a pub-type meal, but the menu in the evening is a combination of the pub and dining room menus and the orange and ginger pork tenderloin was too tasty-looking to refuse. It was delicious, with rice and perfectly cooked, lightly gingered veggies on the side. We had started with bruschetta which was great and perfectly warm and not soggy on the bread as sometimes happens.

But by far the best for me was dessert. My friend didn't order any but I couldn't resist. Not when there was creme brulee to be had. Creme brulee can go either way IMO. I've had very bland, plain ones before and so I knew I was taking a chance. But oh my. The brown sugar crust was perfect and the custard beneath rich and creamy. LOVELY. Oh, and my friend did have a few bites.

So I had a great meal and lots and lots of laughs as usual.

Today the dh and I are meeting for lunch. I somehow think it will be much simpler than last night, but the company will be just as good.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Non Negotiables and Word Count Killers

Today I'm blogging over at Love is an Exploding Cigar about my non-negotiable values. It's a strong post, and one that I think says a lot about how I think and live and view others. There's also a copy of HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE up for grabs, so come on over, log in or register to comment for a chance to win.


And before I forget - there is another copy of the book for giveaway this week at Ingela Hyatt's ASK AN AUTHOR event...come see what funky question all the authors answered this week!

Now about this word count killer part. The blame is laid squarely at the feet of Julianne MacLean, chapter-mate and historical author extraordinaire. When I look at my favourite romance authors of all time, there is LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Julianne. I love her books THAT much. And often wish I could read faster (although I am getting caught up as I think I only have one more of hers on the shelf yet to read).

Last night I had to turn out the light at a most delicious part and it was TORTURE. There was no question that I had to finish the book this morning. I HAD to. There would have been no possible way to concentrate. So I checked my e-mail, got the kids off to school, put my feet up and started reading.


The book is MY OWN PRIVATE HERO and it might just have usurped SURRENDER TO A SCOUNDREL as my favourite. It is brilliantly crafted, evocative, passionate, emotional....I fell absolutely in love with Damien and Adele and felt their pain knowing that their feelings for each other were forbidden.

Here's the skinny. Adele is engaged to Harold, a really good man whom she likes very much. But along the way, she's kidnapped, and it's Harold's cousin Damien that he sends to rescue her. Damien, for all accounts and purposes, is a scoundrel. But he's really not. There is so much honour and depth to him combined with that sweeping in like, as Adele calls him, a dark knight. It is impossible not to love him.

But what a situation. She is highly moral and does not want to be unfaithful. Harold is not only Damien's cousin but best friend. They fight the attraction...deliciously. And it is this consideration for Harold that really redeems the relationship. They both want to do the right thing. And falling for each other is definitely not the right thing.

What makes this book even better is the seriously brilliant crafting of the character arcs. Being with Damien shows Adele her true self and it is beautiful watching her come into her own. As well, being with Adele makes Damien a better man - or at least brings out all the good parts hidden deep down inside.

I always have a little laugh in Julianne's books - she's got great wit - but this time boy-o I was wiping my eyes in the last half so much. A few minutes ago, I dropped her an e-mail that said I was done - with a sniff and a happy sigh.

Just. Utterly. Gorgeous. If you like historicals - particularly the ton with a twist - pick up one of Julianne's.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Stop complaining - A reminder

I just read this fab essay, the link of which was sent to my chapter loop by the fantastic Carolyne Aarsen whom I adore. If you read it you will also see why so many writers love Jenny Crusie. It's not a new essay, but it's timely. Because after my earlier rant and the general blukkiness of the last few days, it was very grounding.

It's odd how losing your grip on reality can be grounding, but there you go. We writers are a funny bunch.

Here's what it reinforces for me though.

a) I've been focusing a little too much on reality, and definitely not enough time in dream world. And that makes me cranky.

b) It's actually okay to not be on close terms with reality. In fact, it's discouraged.

and c) I really do believe there is an island. If there weren't, I wouldn't be a swimming rat. My island is out there.

And if that is confusing, just go here and read the essay.

Eye on the donut, not the hole.

Crossing the line...

Working on: finishing workshop prep, last teensy revision to HLC, and writing on OLT.
Listening to: Paul Potts. I need big sweeping music today.
Reading: Her Own Private Hero - Julianne MacLean

Ok, so the hopes that I would not cross the line into insanity were in vain. I think the breaking point came when the dh came home and pointed out things that were not done that I said would get done yesterday afternoon. Considering that lunch was a PB sandwich at my desk, it was not the right thing to say. The dig about time management (until I can manage to add an extra 3 hours to the day, don't talk to me about time management) clearly was not well thought out either.

But it all made sense later as I was going to pick up dd1 from her Girl Guide meeting. My remote starter kept clunking on the steering column. It was more than aggravating. It was either my head exploding, or me ripping the remote off the key ring in a fit of rage. Which was a pretty good indicator of PMS. As I told a friend...the dh should either stay away or call an exorcist.

I am, however, still behind on my list and still tired, though somewhat mellowed.

Part of the problem is that working from home has its advantages but it certainly has its disadvantages too. Working from home means that you don't go to an office off-site where home life no longer intrudes. Working from home means a work day that starts at 8:30 or 9, it includes the possibility of laundry, errands, or other housework that is essential (like swiffering the floors yesterday, dear GOD). Working from home means phone calls (could you follow up on this please dear?) and field trips and kids that are home at 2:30.

I write approximately four books a year (that's one every 12 weeks) while at the same time cooking, laundering, and cleaning up for four; gardening and some yard work (the dh and I share in this, and I should be fair and also say he pitches in with the weekly big clean by doing bathrooms, bless him), chauffering kids to and from activities and/or friend's houses, walking the dog, helping with homework, volunteering and secretary duties when it comes to any household calls that must be made such has appointments, hair cuts, or issues with the utility company. I am also our vacation planner, financial officer and Christmas shopper/wrapper for everyone except for what the dh and kids get me.

I know I'm among millions of women who do this every blessed day so in no way do I think I'm special. But lately, even going to the bathroom seems an inefficient use of my time.

I cannot imagine writing this much AND having a full time day job (and hats off to you writers who manage that, when do you sleep?). I feel run ragged as it is.

Wow. You know blogging might not be an efficient use of my time either...but the rant sure felt good.

Lacey, is my lipstick on right?

Catch you on the flip side, gang.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Tackling the To-Do List

Working on: Workshop prep for June 13, critiquing a chapter, and word count. Hah.
Listening to: I forgot to put on music. Will do that after walking pup.
Reading: What reading? (See blog title for today)

I am tackling the to-do list today. I crossed nine things off yesterday which wasn't too shabby. Was talking to CP this morning about working under pressure. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's too stressful. Hopefully I'm at the "productive but not insane" stage at the mo.

Today I have to make a quick trip to the PO to mail out my May prize winner and also dd1's hair as I haven't posted it yet for lack of a proper envelope. I also am putting together workshop notes as I'm doing a workshop during our chapter's day-long event a week from Saturday. I have most of my handout done and just needs copying. I have a chapter to critique for Michelle and then I have to hit word count.

Plus the MIL brought me some hostas and blazing stars that I didn't get planted yesterday, so this afternoon I must garden. The weatherman mentioned sun in the forecast but it hasn't put in an appearance yet.

Still, the more things I can get done, the better.

Now I'm off to get a bit more accomplished before going to walk puplet. :-)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Book Blog, Reel Review, and a brand new month!

Working on: Odd jobs and possibly chapter seven
Listening to: company chatting in the living room
Reading: Her Own Private Hero, Julianne MacLean

On Friday night the girls and I finished reading Prince Caspian. I enjoyed it but it seemed a bit slower than other of the books. However the timing was good as the movie was showing on On Demand and we watched. I did like the movie, not as well as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but it was fairly good and not too much creative license was taken thank goodness. Right now we are moving on to another Madeleine L'Engle.

It's June 1 which means a brand new month and updates! My newsletter has gone out and I'm going to update my website later this morning. Congrats to Minna Puustinen who has won my May contest!

June's, by the way, is for my newsletter subscribers only. You can sign up for my newsletter on the sidebar or on the homepage of my website.

Right now though, my inlaws are here for the morning and I'm off to enjoy a coffee.