Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pink Heart Picks and yippee!

So I don't know if it's been the time away from writing, or the extra sleep, or what, but last night just before nodding off I figured out how to tackle the scene that's had me stalled. Yippee! So that's what I'm about today, in between laundry and turkey soup making and whatever else pops up. I really need to get moving on this story. That deadline that looked so comfortable is starting to poke and prod with annoying insistence.

Otherwise I'm at the Pink Heart Society today with the final Pink Heart Picks Book Club review of the year. Come on over to see what I thought of The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle and find out what our first pick of the new year is!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holidays

I will confess I have been totally lazy over the past few days! Sleep! Christmas Eve we were in bed shortly after 10 and slept until 7. I have nodded off reading twice. Yesterday I didn't get out of bed until nearly 9. Today I was awake at 8. I have been getting 8 hours plus and it feels WONDERFUL! My husband says it is because I ran and ran and ran before Christmas and now I have stopped and am getting caught up.

Housework has consisted of the odd load of laundry, cooking and washing up. The most intense activity (other than workouts) has been playing Guitar Hero/Band Hero. :-)

My other confession of sorts is that I LOVE that my husband is off and not on call. This is the benefit of his new job. It has been so great having him around. I willingly do his ironing because it is so much nicer than knowing he's going to be packing his suitcase for business trips. :-)

So...I'm off to make a salad with turkey (naturally) and then hopefully get some writing done. I really need to - though it's been fantastic having a break.

How are you spending your holidays?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well, all the craziness comes to a head tonight with the arrival of Santa, to be followed by massive turkey eating tomorrow.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and I'm going to be working over the holidays so the blog won't be abandoned. For the next few days, though, you can find me at the Romance Author Hotspot Christmas Bash. There are lots of authors and some great prizes, so feel free to pop on over!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Goodreads Giveaway of Sold to the Highest Bidder

There's another Goodreads Giveaway going on! :-)


Goodreads Book Giveaway





Sold to the Highest Bidder (Paperback) by Donna Alward



Sold to the Highest Bidder


by Donna Alward



Giveaway ends February 15, 2011.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.



Enter to win



Thanks to a suggestion by my CP to change the last scene of Chapter 2 to hero POV, it now reads FAR better I think! I'm 8000 words into the story now and hoping to get chapter 3 down before Christmas. It does make for a rather hectic January, but I can do it. I still don't have a working title - right now my files are saved as Clay&Megan...

In the meantime I have to pick up my husband from a work Christmas lunch and I still seem to have scads to do! Why does Christmas seem so hectic this year????

Monday, December 20, 2010

And the days rush on...

The weekend was fab - we left Saturday morning for Moncton and a wedding. For me it meant a chance for someone else to take on the household duties as we stayed in a hotel and ate out. :-) The kids played in the pool, the wedding was great, food was good. We had breakfast with my sister in law yesterday morning, stopped at Costco, and were back home by 2 p.m. The dog and cat were very happy to see us.  Last night I watched ELF with the kids and finished a knitting project I began TWO years ago!

The forecast is looking rather crappy here too, so it means we don't have to go to Costco tonight which we were originally planning - but I do need to run a few errands shortly before it starts snowing. I have pies to bake and a handful of presents to wrap. And my CP liked chapter 2 so it's on to chapter 3 for me! Yippee! At this rate, nailing the partial before the Big Day is sounding like a very positive thing.

Have a good one - I need to get a move on!

Friday, December 17, 2010

To Do List

Eat breakfast/walk the dog.
Finish chapter 2 - send to CP
Load a PHS post
Get 2 parcels ready to mail + 2 cards and go to post office (and bank)
2 loads laundry (one down, one to go)
Groceries
3 pressies
Take eldest shopping for present for her sister and dad after school
Bring home supper
Collapse

Looking at that I feel distinctly Scrooge-ish today. I haven't even completed number 1 yet.

However the weekend is looking much more fun - I hope!

**edit: It is making me feel better to cross stuff off the list.

DONE! And knackered. Busy day, but a LOT got accomplished. And the best news? Heard from my editor and all systems are go. Monday it is back at this baby with a vengeance!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday

It's another crazy day here with work and laundry (the never ending mountain) and the last school concert of the season.

My Goodreads contest for Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage has ended and the books mailed to the winners. Look for a new contest on Goodreads in the next day or so (as soon as it's been approved).

I also ended up thinking about the started-over-WIP last night and sorted a lot of things in my mind about Clay and Meg and where things need to go. Everything is still very fluid - I find that the more I plan for certain scenes to happen the more of a mess I make - so I'm letting each scene guide me naturally into the next with a general idea of how things need to work for pacing and conflict. I found the perfect song this morning which also helps. So fingers crossed this all goes according to plan since there are only 6 weeks left until deadline...

In other news, send speedy thoughts to my one present that hasn't been delivered yet. I ordered it on Dec 1 and the store said it had shipped last week. Fingers crossed it arrives in the next few days....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Open House and the Delete Key

Today is Harlequin's annual Holiday Open House! Tons and tons of authors and prizes and general silliness- it's great! You can see the Open House Home Page for links to each of the post parties/chats, and click on this link to visit the Harlequin Romance Authors specifically.

In other news, I am not sure if I feel better or worse for the exercise my delete key got yesterday. I deleted approx. 7000 words from my single title and then a further 2300 from the first chapter of my WIP - which now has to be retitled (Not the Cowgirl's Convenient Groom anymore) and the word count meter reset as I've had to start again. That makes...right around 30 000 words that got the axe in the last week.

If that doesn't make me want to break out the Baileys, I don't know what will. I do think this went beyond killing my darlings.

Now - go enjoy the party while I brandish my sword and head back into the fray.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two-week Roundup!

It's been two weeks since I had a regular blog post, so I thought I'd take a day to get you caught up on what's been going on around here!


Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is out in Australia and New Zealand in January, but you can get it now via the Mills and Boon Australia site.  Their covers are so pretty, don't you think?

Wanna know about my Christmas preferences? Check out this short but fun interview with me at Still Moments Magazine.





The Long and Short Reviews reviewed BREATHE, giving it 4.5/5.  Hooray!  You can read the whole review here. I particularly liked the last part of the review which said "...what these two are hiding and how they work through their problems make Breathe different and well worth reading. Alward packs this short book with great emotional depth."  It was also up for their Book of the Week, which is pretty darned cool.

I didn't do so great during NaNo, but it doesn't mean I didn't get a lot of work done! I had galleys to work through, finished my online read and the following revisions and I'm so excited for Remember Me, Cowboy to go up on eharlequin in February! Then it was on to the new story, sending a new partial off to my editor, continuing on with the story (I'm just over half through) and also hosting the Christmas potluck for my local RWA chapter. Unfortunately I missed the mark with the partial, so it's back to the drawing board and hopefully taking a different approach will work this time.

I chatted about Sleigh Rides at Petticoats and Pistols, about using vacations as setting research at SingleTitles.com, and about Wives and Daughters at the Pink Heart Society. Today I'm at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs talking about Christmas Parties and Weddings.

Last night was a horrible storm. No flooding here like there is in my hometown in New Brunswick, but we had high winds and rain and no power throughout most of the night. My brother was here and supposed to fly out this morning. Unfortunately nothing was going in and out of Chicago yesterday which meant his flight was cancelled this morning. He's here until tomorrow when he takes a totally different route home to Utah.

I'm working away as he managed to schedule a few meetings during his extra day and tomorrow is the big Christmas Open House at eharlequin.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS WINNER!

First of all, let me say a huge thank you to the authors who participated and to all the lovely blog readers, new and old, who popped by during the contest to see what the fuss was about. I had lots of entries from some new faces and others more familiar!

I responded to some of your entries - thanks to all for the lovely comments you sent along. Our authors shared memories and some of you did too and it helped me get to know you a little bit better. If I didn't send a note - well, I did have hundreds of entries! But I read each and every one. Merry Christmas to all!

I know, I know, let's get on to the good stuff, right?

Well thanks to the random number generator, the lucky entry was number 98 and the 98th entry was SUZANNE MUNN of Fredericton, New Brunswick!

So Suzanne gets the prize box, which currently contains:

A Tote Bag
A mousepad
Bookmarks, a magnet, keychain, pen
A Christmas ornament
Chocolate (naturally!)
And the following books:

When a Stranger Loves Me - Julianne MacLean
Damaged - Pamela Callow
The Miracle of a Family Christmas - Susan Meier
The Diamond Bride - Lucy Gordon
A Question of Impropriety - Michelle Styles
Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto - Liz Fielding
The Cinderella Bride - Barbara Wallace
The Magnificent Seven, Child of Her Heart, Western Winter Wedding Bells - Cheryl St. John
Mistletoe Kisses Anthology, Married: The Virgin Widow - Deborah Hale
Compromising Positions - Jenna Bayley-Burke
Impulsive - Cathryn Fox
Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage and The Rancher's Runaway Princess - Donna Alward

SIXTEEN books.

Thanks to all of you for sharing the holiday season with me! Regular blog service resumes tomorrow!

Friday, December 10, 2010

On The Twelfth Day of Christmas

It is hard to believe the contest is over for another year and here I am winding things up! Many thanks to all the participating authors who have shared their memories and donated books etc. to the prize. I'm going to be drawing on Monday, the 13th, so stay tuned for the announcement. :-)

I suppose it's only right that I share a favourite Christmas memory too. And this one comes from 1998 - and my first baby's first Christmas.

Christmas changes when you have children - even if the children aren't yet old enough to understand any of what it means. My daughter was nine months old and so the colourful lights on the tree were enchanting to her, and we began traditions that year - like picking out an ornament with her name on it and buying her special pyjamas. We uphold those traditions still as she and her sister get older.

My mom got her a white stuffed kitten that year and she still has it - now it's grey, threadbare, and looking generally abused. But she loved that kitten from the first moment. She sat on the floor in her holly-berry sleepers Christmas morning and squeezed it so tightly she nearly vibrated.

And though it was just the three of us for dinner, we cooked a full turkey dinner and I mashed everything and she gobbled up mashed potatoes, carrots, squash and turkey!

To this day, she never does anything half-way.

Anyway, thanks for joining me for another year - I look forward to this contest in a big way!  I'm adding some fun stuff to the prize - a mousepad, pen, tote bag, and of course, BOOKS! A copy of Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage is going in the box as well as a copy of my first Larch Valley book - The Rancher's Runaway Princess. And don't forget a Christmas ornament!

And now, today's CLUE is JOY - because that's what I wish for you all this holiday season.

Drop me an e-mail with the clue as the subject line - one entry only please. And come back on Monday when I announce the winner.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas - Jenna Bayley-Burke

Like most Jewish kids, I love Christmas. The glitz, the glamour, the made-for-TV movies. Chanukah is a minor holiday and the gifts tended to disappoint. Sometimes we’d wind up with nothing after losing our stash of chocolate coins in a heated game of dreidel.

But Christmas meant gawdy ornaments and long wish lists to the mysterious Santa Claus (Hanukkah Harry is a recent invention…and yes, he would totally beat up Kris Kringle). We had to sing about Christmas in music class, read about it in school, and Christmas specials peppered the television. I loved that sparkling, snow globe idea of Christmas.

With our kids, we’ve opted for an ‘any-excuse-for-a-present-or-cake’ approach. This means they have to suffer through a nearly carb-free Passover week, yet the month of December can turn into a festival of gifts. This year, Hanukkah kicked off the month, and with the lead-up to Christmas filled with family events, my kids won’t see three days in a row without being handed some kind of new form of entertainment.

We’ve made a tradition of having family gifts for Hanukkah – one year was a Wii and games, other years have been board games, craft/cooking projects, or restaurant dinners. Relatives bestow what they will, and Santa delivers stockings for Christmas morning.

I think my best holiday memories are the ones I am making right now with my cherubs. There’s nothing quite like candlelight bathtime, baking cookies, or handing out Happy Meals as we drive through the neighborhood looking at the Christmas lights.

Jenna writes classic and contemporary romance with a fun, sexy twist. She spends far too much time on Facebook and promises to blog and tweet regularly next year. (A resolution already!) Look for Private Scandal next spring.


Jenna's contributing her book Compromising Positions to the prize box!  To be entered, please send me an e-mail with the clue of DREIDEL!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

On The Tenth Day of Christmas - Lucy Gordon

I’m really thrilled to have a book coming out at Christmas. That wonderful season adds something special to every word.

Christmas plays a large part in A Mistletoe Proposal because Pippa, the heroine, was once jilted in a by-gone December and now the memory of her pain makes her draw away from the celebrations. Writing about that time of year made me remember Christmasses in my own life.

One of the best was spent in Venice. My husband comes from that magical city. It was where we met, and where we lived for a couple of years.

Think of Venice and you probably see it thronged with people; the tourist city. But by December it is far less crowded. Now the streets are quieter, there is room to stroll peacefully, and rediscover what I think of as ‘the real Venice’, the one the rest of the world seldom sees, but which the Venetians treasure.

Wander by the canals at this time of year and you will see gondolas covered in snow. Pause in the little darkened alleyways and listen to the carols floating out from the churches. Stand by the Grand Canal and you’ll see the Christmas procession of boats, filled with dozens of Santas rowing and distributing sweets. And in St Mark’s Square a huge tree, glowing with lights, rises up to the sky.

The only thing a Venetian Christmas lacks is the presents, for these are given at Epiphany, on January 6th, which has the delightful effect of making the season last longer.

Another Christmas that comes to mind is when we’d returned to England, and went shopping for Christmas groceries in our local supermarket. My husband was in a wheelchair, having had a minor operation on his foot, and I had to wheel him around. I made a mess of it, partly because I hadn’t realised that you have to take the brake off the wheelchair first.

It was quite a journey with me pushing the wheelchair and him pushing the trolley. I lost track on the collisions. We ended up bickering, to the amusement of everyone else. I’m reliably informed that nothing on television that year equalled the entertainment we provided.

Luckily my husband is very sweet-tempered. As we approached the check-out he beamed up at me, saying, “Well, we made it. AND WE’RE STILL MARRIED!”

And years later we still are!!!!!

* * *

My Christmas book, A MISTLETOE PROPOSAL opens in an unusual way, with Pippa, the heroine, visiting the graves of her grandparents, Mark and Dee, and talking to them. In her heart they still live, their love story an inspiration.

Roscoe, the hero, a severe man with natural authority, sees only her great beauty, thinking he can use her to beguile his younger brother away from the crowd he’s with, who are leading him down dangerous paths. When he finds that he’s the one beguiled he has a problem on his hands. That just wasn’t meant to happen, and none of his business experience helps him cope.

Pippa also struggles against her growing attraction to him. Since her heart was broken she’s turned against love and romance. Although Dee is no longer there it is her haunting influence that helps Pippa find the answer.

That’s why the next book follows so closely. HIS DIAMOND BRIDE comes out in January and is the story and Dee and Mark, how they fell in love during World War II, and how their love triumphed in a marriage that lasted for sixty years and finally guided Pippa onto the right path. My greatest hope is that people will read the two books close together.

In England that will be easy as they’re published in one volume in January. A MISTLETOE PROPOSAL is re-named A WINTER PROPOSAL, but it’s the same book.

* * *

A final point. The story I told earlier about my husband illustrates what I firmly believe, that the most successful marriages often occur when people can share a joke. He and I have shared many, and it’s almost as great a bond as passion. (Almost!)

I love writing the emotional scenes that go to the heart and soul of what makes life worth living. But it’s sometimes nice to inject a touch of ironic humour. A Mistletoe Proposal contains one of my favourite examples of this.

Pippa is visiting Roscoe’s home, and while she’s there, this happens.

………………………………..

But then she saw something that made her stare, and gasp with delight.

“Wow!” she breathed. “How about that? I’ve never seen such a big one before. Let me look at it. Can you just – ? Yes, that’s right. Do it again – and again. Oh, it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever – yes – yes – yes – ”

Her hands were clasped in sheer ecstasy, her voice full of joy, her eyes glowing with blissful satisfaction.

Roscoe regarded her, fascinated. It wasn’t his first sight of a beautiful woman in transports, in his arms, sometimes in his bed.
But this one was looking at his computer.

…………………………………

I really enjoyed writing that. I hope you enjoy reading it.

Lucy has generously donated His Diamond Bride to the now-getting-full-to-overflowing prize box! Today's clue is MISTLETOE - send it to me in an email to be entered!  Only one entry per day please!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

On The Ninth Day of Christmas - Pamela Callow

Christmas celebrations in my family always revolved around food. We are foodies, us Callows. My mother was born in Germany, and my father is British. Thus, our Christmas meals involved the best of both those cultures: German treats and English meats.

My favorite Christmas memory is baking traditional German Christmas stollen with my mother. The recipe we used was typed out on an old index card, smeared with flour and buttery fingerprints. I don’t even know where it came from. But what I do know was that Christmas stollen was the most highly-prized baked good in our house.

The making of our stollen took two days. One day to shop for the ingredients, one day to mix and bake. The ingredient shopping was fraught with uncertainty: Would we find the suet? Would we find the marzipan? It usually involved trips to several stores to round up everything we needed. Halifax now has a lovely assortment of specialty stores, but when I was a child, these things weren’t as readily found.

Now to the actual act of stollen creation. The kitchen table was cleared and a clean vinyl tablecloth was laid on it. Then we weighed the flour, the ground almonds, the butter on our old stainless steel kitchen scale. The flour was then dumped into the middle of the tablecloth, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients. I would shape this fine white mountain into a large mound, then hollow out a hole in the middle. A dozen eggs were added to this creation. Butter was cut into small cubes, suet was added (my nose would usually crinkle in happy disgust at this stage.) We’d roll up our sleeves and start kneading.

Eventually, from the goo and flour dust, a dough would form. We’d shape it into long ovals. And then the final, most crucial ingredient: marzipan. We’d roll the marzipan between our palms and lay it down the middle of the oval. Then one side of the dough was laid over the marzipan, and the other side was pulled over to seal the deal.

The loaves were laid on baking sheets, two to a sheet and put in the oven for an hour. The recipe usually yielded about a dozen stollens. Some were given as gifts to our most cherished friends, and the rest were for us, carefully wrapped in foil and put in the freezer.

Every Advent Sunday, my mother would light a candle on the Advent wreath and we would eat stollen. Christmas Day would not be Christmas Day without it.

And thus, my favourite Christmas memory has become a cherished Christmas tradition.

What is your favourite Christmas treat?

Pam has kindly donated a copy of her MIRA debut, DAMAGED, to the prize box! You aren't going to want to miss this, especially as the follow up, INDEFENSIBLE, is due out in January.

The clue for today is MARZIPAN. Drop me an e-mail with today's clue to be entered in the draw!  One entry per day, please!

Monday, December 06, 2010

On the Eighth Day of Christmas - Michelle Styles

One Christmas in my childhood, my mother purchased an olive wood Nativity scene carved in Bethlehem through our church.. At first I am sorry to say that I didn’t appreciate it as I preferred the more ornate Italian style cribs. But it did look right when it was set up. And I looked forward to seeing it. It helped to make Christmas Christmas.

When I married and had my first child, my mother sent the figures over to me in England as reminder of Christmases past. I duly set it up. It reminded me of home and had sentimental value but I still toyed with the idea of some day getting something proper as the little scene never seemed to be quite right.

Then we moved to our present house the day after Thanksgiving and everything was new and different. There was a lot wrong with the house and every day seemed to bring a new disaster. There were reasons why the house had been on the market so long...The children who were quite little at the time kept complaining of the cold and things not being.

On 1 December I started decorating the house for Christmas. My heart sank as I picked up the box containing the Nativity set. Where to put it? Would it look as out of place as I felt? The second shelf of the Edwardian piece seemed to be the obvious answer. The pieces suddenly instead of being lost looked just right. The positively glowed In that instant I knew it didn’t matter about the various things falling apart or the mammoth task in front of us. We had reached the place where my children were going to grow up and that this was going to be a Home instead of a house. And so it has proved.


Michelle's contribution to the prize box is her latest Harlequin Historical release - A Question of Impropriety.
 
To enter to win ALL the books and goodies, send me an e-mail with the following clue: NATIVITY.  One entry per person per day, please!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

On the Seventh Day of Christmas - Julianne MacLean

Every Christmas Eve since I was young, my mother has cooked her famously delicious seafood casserole – a creamy concoction of comfort and joy with a healthy dash of bliss – served over a bed of rice, with a side serving of fresh green salad, and rolls with real butter.


We still gather at my parents’ house each year and enjoy this decadent meal. First we eat, then we sing and play music until it’s time to exchange gifts and finally go home to wait for Santa.

As my Christmas gift to you, I’m giving away a signed copy of my latest book, When a Stranger Loves Me, and I’m also going to share my mom’s recipe, which is sure to make you sigh with delight this Christmas season. Happy Holidays to all!

Noel’s Christmas Seafood Casserole

½ cup melted butter
½ cup flour
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
7 dashes tobasco sauce
1 cup homogenized milk
2 cup blend
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup sherry
1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
small can lobster paste
1 can frozen cooked lobster
frozen cooked scallops
frozen cooked shrimp
1 cup rice

Melt butter in large pot. Stir in flour, mustard and salt. Add tobasco, stir in milk and cook until smooth. Stir in blend until thickened. (Stir constantly. Don’t let it burn!) Add cheese, stir until melted. Add Worcestershire sauce, sherry and seafood. Cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes. Serve over a bed of rice and enjoy!




To be entered into the draw for the Prize box, including Julianne's WHEN A STRANGER LOVES ME, send me an e-mail with the clue CHRISTMAS EVE. One entry per day please!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

On The Sixth Day of Christmas - Cheryl St. John

One of the things I really love doing is group blogging and Cheryl and I both belong to the Petticoats and Pistols site. She's here today to share a memory and add a little something (actually, a lot!) to the prize box!



We didn’t have much when I was a child. Our trees were small and scrawny, and the ornaments were the same from year to year, but my parents always bought me a few gifts, some of which I remember well. I got a set of bells once, with a music book, and oh how I enjoyed playing those bells. I got a little record player with red and yellow vinyl records, and I still remember the songs I played over and over. In subsequent years I sang them to all my babies and my grandbabies.



A couple of those Christmas gifts were what started me on a lifelong love of dolls. I had a crawling Bonnie Braids, a Raggedy Ann, a Ginny and a Miss Revlon. I still have my Betsy McCalls, my Patti Playpal and my Toodles. None of my kids or grandkids are interested—yet. I look at similar dolls on ebay and think I could make a handsome sale, but nostalgia takes over. So I wash their clothes and freshen them up and keep on loving them.




Christmas in Red Willow is my novella in Western Winter Wedding Bells anthology. I’ve included a copy for the prize drawings, as well as autographed copies of Child of Her Heart and The Magnificent Seven.

Visit my website: http://www.cherylstjohn.net/

And check out The Annual Great Christmas Tree Tour on my blog:


Today's clue is CHRISTMAS TREE. Send me an e-mail with the clue as the subject line to be entered in the draw! One entry per day please!

Friday, December 03, 2010

On The Fifth Day of Christmas - Cathryn Fox

Today another RWA chaptermate Cathryn Fox shares a favourite Christmas memory!

My fondest Christmas memory was when I was eight years old. I was a bit of a tom-boy and while my sisters asked for new bikes, I wanted a big-wheel. I wrote Santa numerous letters, sat on his lap at the mall, and shook with excitement on Christmas Eve praying there’d be a cool, yellow and black big wheel under the tree.

I woke up the next morning and found two new bicycles in front of our silver, artificial tree, but behind those banana seats sat the gift I’d been longing for. Unfortunately, it was snowing outside so I wasn’t able to try out my new wheels. But my dad came to the rescue. He cleared a path from the living room, to the kitchen, through the dining room and back to the living room. I spent the entire day wearing the floors down, driving that big-wheel through the house and driving everyone else crazy!

Cathryn writes erotic romance under the name Cathryn Fox http://www.cathrynfox.com/ and co-writes paranormal romance under the name Taylor Keating- http://www.taylorkeating.com/

Cathryn's contribution to the awesome prize is IMPULSIVE - book two in the Eternal Pleasure series.

He is the hunter.


She's fled her alpha wolf—and the entire paranormal community of Serene. Now a free woman—wolf, Sunray returns to Chicago, full of bittersweet memories. The last thing she expects to find there is her reincarnated lover, who died at her feet the night she was changed into a lycan a century ago. Still, Sunray knows they can never revive their intense passion. Because now he's a lycan hunter—and she is his prey...


She is the hunted.


Not for a minute does Kane believe this beautiful lycan's story, that they were once lovers. Still, he recognizes Sunray as the woman who's been seducing him in his dreams. For now, prey and predator have forged an uneasy, temporary truce as they join forces to capture a rogue shifter. But after their work is done, will either of them be able to resist a passion that could be dangerously all-consuming?
 
TO ENTER: Send me an e-mail with today's clue as the subject line. Today's clue is SANTA.
 
One entry per day please!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

On The Fourth Day of Christmas - Deborah Hale

One of the true pleasures of living back in the Maritimes is having a great RWA chapter. The first person to greet me back in 2008 was Deb Hale, and I'm so pleased she's here to share a Christmas memory with us today!

One of my favourite Christmas seasons was the first we celebrated as a family of four. My eldest son was in his first year of school, my daughter was a busy little toddler and the twins were sweet, pudgy babies. For me the best part of Christmas has always been the lead-up, the preparation, the anticipation, so I made that a big part of my children’s Christmas too.


We had an advent wreath I’d made out of stuffed felt with Velcro holly berries by which we attached a new little stuffed embroidered ornament every day. We also had a big cardboard Christmas tree advent calendar. Each day the kids would lift an ornament to reveal an activity we’d do that day – bake cookies, mail Christmas cards, go for a walk to see the neighbourhood lights, visit Santa at the mall. That year, we video-recorded a lot of our Christmas activities and sent tapes to the grandparents. Later years got busier as the twins became mobile and my writing career took off, so we were never again able to capture so much of those special preparations.

Now that my eldest two are in university and the twins in their last year of high school, I love to watch those old recordings and recapture the joy of the season with my little ones!

As my Christmas gift to some lucky winner, I’ll be sending a copy of my 2006 Christmas anthology, Mistletoe Kisses as well as the first book (Married: The Virgin Widow) of my new Gentlemen of Fortune series that will be coming out from February to April 2011. With six releases in the first six months of next year, I think I’ll ask Santa for a new book signing pen!

To enter, send me an e-mail with today's clue in the subject line. Today's clue is ADVENT.

One entry per day please!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

On the Third Day of Christmas - Liz Fielding

Christmas, when I was a child, always started with the cake. My mother was the world’s best cook and each year, despite the fact that she had a full time job, she used to take orders for her Christmas cake. The kind of cake she baked, heavy with fruit, nuts and spices, took all day to make and for weeks before the big day every Friday evening I used to help her weigh and wash the dried fruit that had to be perfectly dry before being added to the creamed mixture. On Saturday morning I was back on the scales and she creamed the butter and sugar by hand using a wooden spoon – no snappy hand held electric whisks back then. I used to spell her with that, too and I can still remember how it made my arm ache, but I loved that whole “being with Mum” thing. Helping. Years later my daughter used to do the same with me (although I had the electric whisk!).


The other memory is of my Dad sitting on the living room floor wrapping Christmas gifts for the aunts and uncles – I had loads of both. I was in charge of the tape and scissors, delivering the perfect length at the right time. He was meticulous. Neat corners, a double fold along the edge of the paper, fancy ribbons. Everything I know about wrapping a parcel I learned by watching him.

Shared moments. Magic memories.

Liz writes fun, flirty and deeply emotional books for Harlequin Romance. You’ll find her at http://www.lizfielding.com, on Facebook and tweeting @lizfielding. Look out for Tempted by Trouble, “the one with ice cream”, next summer.
Liz has kindly sent Mistletoe and the Lost Stiletto for the prize box - hooray! To enter, send me an e-mail with the clue CHRISTMAS CAKE in the subject line.  One entry per day, please. I'll be drawing on the 13 December.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

On The Second Day of Christmas: Susan Meier

Favorite Christmas memory? Wow that’s a tough one. I come from a family with eleven kids. Christmas mornings were chaos! Christmas Eves, however, were quieter with all of us sitting in front of a newly decorated tree, speculating about whether or not we’d get the gifts we’d wanted.


Of course, not all Christmas Eves were quiet and calm. One Christmas Eve, we had to travel twenty miles into the city. We were smart kids so we knew we were being taken Christmas shopping. One of my parents would lead us through the store and the other would follow behind, secretly buying the gifts we ooohed and ahhed over. (If it sounds fun, that’s because it was!)

But something happened. As we were driving along, the car’s water pump broke or maybe it was the fuel pump. My dad found the part and luckily had a brother who only lived a mile or so away from the junkyard (we bought secondhand in those days) and he drove into my uncle’s garage to fix it.

As my dad worked feverishly to get it installed, we sat in the backseat of the car, talking amongst ourselves. There were at least six of us at the time, maybe even eight. In the days before 24-hour Walmarts and credit cards, the older kids knew the stores closed at nine and it was after eight. The clock was ticking.

We also knew our parents weren’t made of money. Had the part cost too much? Was all their money gone? Would we even get presents?

It was after nine by the time Dad got the car fixed and we drove home in silence. We went to bed even more silent. Our parents hadn’t even driven by the local department store. No point. Time had run out.

The next morning, we awoke bleak. But my brother, the first one downstairs, yelped with joy. Santa been there!

We raced downstairs and under the tree were tons of gifts. It was a miracle…or maybe there really was a Santa.

Years later, we recognized the gifts we got were all little things bought at the local drug store that stayed open until eleven. My dad had probably gone out after we went to bed.


But, though small, some of those gifts were my absolute favorites. I remember the pop beads and the medical bag with candy pills. Yet I can’t remember things I got in years when my parents had tons more money to spend and more time to shop. It was the joy of the miracle of it all that made everything more memorable.

It’s that kind of Christmas joy that I tried to capture in the Christmas story I wrote last year – and the book I sent for the 12 Days of Christmas basket – THE MAGIC OF A FAMILY CHRISTMAS. The heroine’s a widow. The hero’s a rich guy who doesn’t realize how alone he is. They come together when she gets temporary custody of her deceased neighbor’s son, Harry. She desperately wants to prove herself so she’ll get permanent custody, but she’s never had a child…or a difficult past…and she really isn’t sure how to handle Harry. But the hero was a boy himself…and he also had an unexpectedly difficult past. She turns to him for help with Harry and Harry makes a few wishes of his own. Not just for Christmas treats, but for real parents and a real home.
I think Christmas is all about magic. And love. But if you think about it, real love is magic of a sort, isn’t it?

Happy Holidays! And good luck to you all in the basket drawing!

You can catch up with Susan at her website: http://www.susanmeier.com/

To enter the contest, send an e-mail with the subject line of MIRACLE. One entry per person per day, please!

Monday, November 29, 2010

On The First Day of Christmas - Barbara Wallace!

On The First Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me....a debut author! Say hello to Barbara Wallace, who has her first Harlequin Romance out this month! 

I’m probably slightly warped, because my favorite childhood Christmas memories aren’t the heartwarming, magical memories, but rather the ones that made us laugh. For example, there was the year my father told me Santa was tired of getting milk and cookies and would prefer I left him a ham salad sandwich and a cold beer. Or the year I got my first portable tape player, complete with a tape of my parents singing their Christmas favorites. Or the year my cousin convinced my older brother the red Mustang parked in his driveway was my brother’s Christmas surprise. My poor brother spent all Christmas day waiting for the car to appear. Even after my parents told him the car wasn’t his, he held out – hoping their denial was simply to keep the surprise alive.


There were other moments as well. The year my father “surprised” my mother with a centerpiece for the kitchen table - a huge monstrosity of plastic fruit complete with an oversized reddish-brown pineapple and plastic walnuts on sticks. The year the Christmas tree thawed and we discovered there were no branches on one side. And of course, the year we almost packed the cat in with the Christmas decorations because she fell asleep in the tissue paper. The one thing linking all of these memories was the laughter. Christmas was one of the few times when my family could relax and simply enjoy each other’s company. School problems, job stresses, and other issues were set aside in favor of laughing and having fun.

So today, let’s talk about those moments that made you laugh at Christmas. What’s your funniest memory?

Thanks to Donna for inviting me to be part of the Twelve Days of Christmas. As my Christmas gift to you, I’m donating a copy of my debut Harlequin Romance, The Cinderella Bride. In it, the heroine, Emma O’Rourke, is so caught up in being efficient; she’s forgotten how to relax. Cue Gideon Kent, a man determined to remind her.

Since Barbara's post reminded me just a little of Christmas Vacation, today's clue is GRISWOLD. Send it to me in an e-mail to be entered!

And remember - one entry per day, please.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

If I weren't a writer...

I'd be a musician. Or at least a mediocre struggling one.

I always thought I'd like to compose - a writer of a different sort. Many times I sit down at the piano and leave the sheet music behind and just let my fingers talk - like freewriting but with music.

Every now and again I think about it - why I chose an English Lit degree over Music. I especially think about it when I listen to certain composers or performers (or both). The latest to make me think a lot is Stephan Moccio - if you watched any of the Olympics you probably heard the song Believe - that's Stephan.

I have his new album Color thanks to itunes and it is fabulous to write to. I can hear shades of David Foster in some of the harmonies and key changes and shifts. I can hear similarities to Jim Brickman in some of the melodies and syncopated timing. I hear reminiscences of Ennio Morricone in some of the supporting orchestration. I hear emotion in all of it.




This is from an earlier album - Exposure.

What music do you listen to that inspires you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to my neighbours to the South...

Even though I'm Canadian , I confess I can't help but have Thanksgiving fever listening to so many friends chat about pecan pies, brining turkeys, and family get togethers.

Of course Thanksgiving also means full steam ahead into Christmas, so I thought giving stuff away sounded like a good idea.

I'm currently holding a Goodreads book giveaway - here's the info. If you didn't get a chance to read my holiday story from 2009 this might be your chance.


Goodreads Book Giveaway





Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage: Snowbound Cowboy\A Bride for Rocki... by Donna Alward



Montana, Mistletoe, Marriage


by Donna Alward



Giveaway ends December 15, 2010.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.



Enter to win


As well, it is less than a week until the return of...drum roll please....

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS!

We're starting up on November 29 - 12 authors sharing Christmas memories and one big prize pack at the end!  You can enter for a chance to win once each day so come back often. The winner is guaranteed a minimum of 12 books (there are usually closer to 15-20) and other random goodies the authors feel like sharing.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Totally Forgot - Book Blog

I totally forgot to post the latest book reviews. My reading lately has been next to nothing sadly - just so much going on. But here are the latest:

A FAIRYTALE CHRISTMAS - Barbara Wallace and Susan Meier

An enchanting duo of holiday stories featuring two sisters, Gwen and Gill.


In Meier's Baby Beneath the Christmas Tree, we meet young single mum Gwen, hot hero Drew and his teenage son, Brody. Instantly likeable characters and a unique, whimsical setting made this a page-turning, enjoyable read.

Wallace's debut Magic Under the Mistletoe blends a gorgeous Boston setting, a driven heroine (Gwen's sister Gill) and a hard-headed hero (Oliver) in a heart-warming read. If this is how Barbara Wallace begins her career, she's got great things ahead of her.

GAME OVER - Taylor Keating

This is the TOR debut for the writing duo of Taylor Keating. I can honestly say that it is different from anything I have ever read before - blending the paranormal elements of Fae and Guardians with a post-apocalyptic world and the setting of INSIDE a video game.


River is a wonderful heroine - strong and kickass but with a feminine side too - is that the Fae element coming out? She's the game's designer, and goes inside the game to test/develop it. She has a sidekick while inside, but this time the sidekick is Hawk, placed in the game by the Dark Lord/Soul Man - who is after River and is holding Hawk's soul captive. To complicate matters, there's a whole military/conspiracy element on the OUTSIDE. The Soul Man/Dark Lord has to be defeated - or else he claims River and Hawk's souls forever and uses River's magic to get himself out of the prison he's in - and if he does that, look out world. The stakes are far higher than a simple game.

If you're reading this and thinking this isn't for you, think again. Add me to the list of people who have said this is not their usual reading fare but came out loving it. It's a fantastic story, complicated and sexy and funny by turns, and with a twist at the end that I didn't see coming at all. It's also the first in a series by this writing team - I can't wait to see what trouble they throw River and Hawk into next.

Teens and Cats

This morning was not a happy bye honey have a nice day morning for the eldest. Since she hasn't returned, I'm assuming she managed to catch the bus, but we didn't get off to a good start. And I hate that, because it sets a negative tone for the rest of the day. I suspect she put off an assignment, and then worked like mad to get it done, but also had a meeting last night. Normally I would have driven her to the bus stop or even to school, but we had snow and freezing rain last night and there is a nice sheen of ice on the road - at least in our subdivision and the truck is also covered in crusty snow.

I shouldn't let stuff like that bother me, and I should probably get used to it considering the upcoming years, but saying goodbye on a sour note is a lot like going to bed angry. I don't like doing it and it makes me unsettled.

Anyway my cat has also been tormenting. He has a revived fascination with pencils and I do not know where he finds them all but he does. And bats them around the floor - which is ceramic tile. I think it's his revenge for me airing his dirty linen in an interview with Meankitty at Writer and Cat. Pop on over and find out exactly what my cat thinks of me.

In the meantime, I'm going to work on my WIP and see if I can get the third chapter tidied slightly and off to my CP before launching in to chapter four.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Feeling squidgy

I am not sure if the eldest and I are coming down with something or not, but I am feeling a bit squidgy this morning. Headache, runny nose, general blah. I met eldest at the bus stop as I was walking the dog and realized she has substantial bags under her eyes...she's not feeling 100% either. And she has a packed day so hopefully she feels better as the day goes on.

I had a hugely productive weekend, though. I did up my accounts, did the filing, laundry, ran errands, finished a few books, did the mending, tidied the house, supervised some holiday baking that the girls did. Oh and I handed in the revisions on my online read as well. Now it's back to the WIP for me. My CP sent chapter 2 back and I have started Chapter Three. I am aiming to get the partial off to my editor for a quick read this week.

I don't think I've mentioned a few movies I've watched lately so I'm going to do that today - I like talking about movies because I often look at them with an eye for character and story (you can't turn a writer's brain off). I'm often inspired - either because I've truly enjoyed something, or because something really worked, or even because of something that perhaps didn't work and provided insight.

So

I watched The Jane Austen Book Club. I enjoyed it, but there was not enough Jane to satisfy me. Still, on a story level I liked most of the storylines and characters - not sure Hugh Dancy was the right casting (and it pains me to say that because I really do love HD). The one storyline I didn't like? Emily Blunt's character (and a shame because I also really like Emily Blunt). For one, it seemed a little skeevy for her to be crushing on a student. Ick. And if someone knows WHICH heroine she represented can you enlighten me? The closest I can come to is that the student is Willoughby and her husband is Col Brandon but she is the least like Marianne of any character I've ever seen. And I believe the book associated with her was Persuasion - anyway at the breaking point when she got her husband to read one page aloud (a la Brandon reading the poetry) and then OMG he turns into a total Austen lover...after a whole movie of abstract references we're smacked in the face with something I just couldn't buy into.  So yeah, I had problems with it.

Not to say I didn't enjoy it, because I did. But it was not what I expected. Austen is fab and deserved a better homage in my opinion.

And

After several people telling me what a great production the latest Wuthering Heights was, I watched it. I hadn't when it broadcasted initially because I watched the latest production of Tess of the D'Urbervilles and thought it horribly miscast. Eddie Redmayne was great in Pillars of the Earth but as Angel Clare...no. Neither did I like Gemma Arterton as Tess. So when WH came on the next week with Tom Hardy as Heathcliff, I was like...are you serious?  He looked NOTHING like Heathcliff to me. He looked like a plump-lipped boy with bad hair.

So this is me eating my words. I have seen Hardy in shows since and he is a brilliant actor. He truly is.  His portrayal of Dudley in The Virgin Queen is fantastic. I was assured by reliable sources that he was splendid in this role and guess what? HE WAS. Tortured, angry, charming when it suited him. When he arrived at the Grange and asked for Isabella, I could see how any woman would fall for him.  Hardy was splendid.

But that was not the true Heathcliff and so watching this version made me realize why I don't have any lasting affection for Wuthering Heights.

WH is not a Romance novel. It has a romance in it, but it is not a Romance. There is no happily ever after, and I like happily ever afters (which is probably why I have always preferred Jane Eyre).  Heathcliff and Cathy love each other, but love should always make a person MORE - and their love for each other brought out the worst in them rather than the best. I never liked Cathy - and I didn't particularly like her in this version either. She married Edgar, and yet kept her claim in Heathcliff - maybe she couldn't have him, but neither could anyone else.  She is selfish and self-absorbed. And Heathcliff LET her marry Edgar - before he ever left he knew that was in the cards so it is his own fault. For years they love each other and punish each other. There is so much passion between them, but I'm not sure it's love...if it is, it's a twisted version of it, and I think perhaps that's the point. It consumes to the point of death and madness, and I'd rather be uplifted.

Anyway, it is a superb production and I enjoyed it very much, even if WH isn't my favourite classic on the planet. LOL.  Actually once I realized exactly why it didn't work for me, I was able to enjoy it that much more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Squeaking in a great deal before the weekend...

TOTALLY forgot to post this earlier - but you have time to take advantage of a deal at Mills and Boon. It's particularly timely for me because the reprint of A Bride For Rocking H Ranch is available this month on the Mills and Boon site in the anthology Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses.

Here's the deal:

At this chilly time of year it's definitely time to get the heating on and snuggle up with a good book.



We're giving you one less reason to step out into the cold this November by offering you 30% OFF on all orders at millsandboon.co.uk for 7 days only!


Enter the code SAVE19 into the promotion code box as you check out and your discount will automatically be applied to your order.



If you click on the Mills and Boon box on the right sidebar, it'll take you right to the shopping page!

Foreign Editions

Yesterday there was a box in the post box and lo and behold both One Dance With The Cowboy AND Her Lone Cowboy were out in Russia recently. I had no idea, and it's the first Russian copies I've had. Very cool - add another language to the tally.

So I thought hey, let's look for anything else that's out this month.



Hired: The Italian's Bride is out in Greece.









One Dance With The Cowboy is in Mexico.


And Argentina.











A Bride For Rocking H Ranch is out in an holiday antho in Denmark - and Finland.








Isn't that neat?

It's Friday, which means pay the bill day, grocery shopping day, and squeeze in some writing day. :-) I'm enjoying working on the new book, so that is good! And once my revisions for my online read go back, I *should* be able to really kick some butt on the word count. :-)