Sunday, December 23, 2012
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Saturday, December 15, 2012
SAUSAGE STUFFED MUSHROOMS
Large White Mushrooms
Italian sausage, mild or hot
Kraft Italian dressing (or any Italian vinaigrette)
Remove the stems from the mushrooms, wipe them clean, and put them in a container. Marinate them in the dressing for at least one hour.
Fry sausage, drain, set aside.
Put foil on a cookie sheet. Place the mushroom caps on the sheet (discard dressing). Put a little sausage in each one, top with a little parmesan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until bubbly.
There are 2 cautions with this recipe. 1) You won't be able to stop at just one and 2) They can be a little slippery. Use a fork. LOL!
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
As the credits rolled after the epi, my husband commented on the strength of the writing. This is big because he NEVER does that. He might say it was a good episode, or how great an actor was, or wonder aloud what might happen next. He even likes The Newsroom which I think is BRILLIANTLY written and has not made that comment. But after last night...yeah. He said the writers really know what they're doing.
I LOVE how Brody is both hero and anti-hero. I just watched a clip from the season finale (a couple of weeks away) where Saul (Carrie's mentor) calls her the smartest and dumbest f* person he's ever met. These are messed up people. And the plot just keeps twisting and turning and twisting...Honestly, I know season 1 took home a boat load of Emmys but season 2 is way better than 1 ever was.
This most recent epi was one of a lot of turning points. I don't want to spoil it, but you KNOW it's going to be one of those...okay, let's give these people a really nice, normal moment before we blow things all to hell. Claire Danes as Carrie is beautifully damaged and she does an awesome job playing the part. And Damian Lewis...well hell, I've loved him since he walked on the screen as Dick Winters. He's madly talented - one moment smart, another sexy, and then he'll do this emotions on the knife edge kind of thing that's sort of uncomfortable.
Not to mention Mandy Patinkin and I find I'm really warming up to Rupert Friend.
I was talking to someone the other day about how The West Wing isn't quite as edgy as The Newsroom and that I think it's part of the "cable" thing happening. Shows like Homeland, The Newsroom, Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad... they're too edgy for network tv. There's more latitude with cable, and that's where the cutting edge shows are showing up. It's well worth the extra $16 a month to get those stations and On Demand. Because while I still watch a few regular network shows, I'm finding the strongest writing, the most intriguing characterization and thought provoking stories are happening on cable.
Any of you watch Homeland? Are you loving it as much as I am?
Friday, December 07, 2012
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Here's a funny thing about rejection. It's a bit of a balancing act, a pro and con list that you have to weigh and decide your next step. On one hand, if the book has been rejected, it's entirely possible that it was rejected because it was substandard and not ready for publication. You have to decide if you believe in the story enough to try again, somewhere else. You have to remind yourself that you need to look at it objectively. That is a very hard thing to do. Because despite the many messages you get from a rejection letter, the one that shouts the loudest is the one that says It's Not Good Enough.
As writers we're genetically programmed to listen to those voices, I think. The Crows of Doubt come cawing the moment they smell disappointment in the air.
But here's something I realized about believing in a story: it's not about thinking that your story is fine. It's about realizing that it might not be perfect but you believe in it enough to work at fixing it, make it better.
I feel that way about Hideaway Hill. Even as I was revising the front end, and trying to ignore the whispers of doubt in my ear, I knew that I believed in this book and that I'm not ready for the journey to be over. Then I hit the last 100 pages and I KNEW it was the right thing. I found myself blinking away tears several times. And when I read the words THE END, I gave a big, happy sigh - totally spontaneously. I believe in this book. I believe in this story and the series and I believe I can do this.
There have been books I've put aside after rejection. There are ones in my R file that I've looked at, wondering if they were worth revising now that I'm further along in my development as a writer. They're not. I don't believe in those stories. I would be far better off writing something new.
But this one? Yeah. I'm still excited about it.
So...it might take a while, and I don't know where the road will lead, but the story isn't over for this one yet. And you can bet I'll keep you posted.
Monday, December 03, 2012
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Thursday, November 29, 2012
The web history of writers is ridiculous, the things we search for are scattered and salacious. The sad part? Hours of resear usually winds up being two sentences in the finished book. (sigh) But, it's fun to know a little about a lot of things.
- Dutch names - I can't start a story without character names. I trip all over myself until I know first and last names.
- Anguilla - I wanted a Caribbean isle with a community feel. And then I fell in love with the idea of a skinny island with unlimited beaches.
- Sailing - Hubba Bubba & I did what we thought was a romantic sail, but we ended up squeezed into a tour with a family with a crying baby. So much for date night away from the kids! After that, all my sailing research was online. And from my kiddo who had a crash course in sailing at Boy Scout camp.
- Crochet - How hard could it be. Well, very. In case you want to try it. You have to have patience and an attention span. I have neither.
- Bikinis - It all started with a crochet overlay bikini from the Victoria Secret catalog. But then I needed a few dozen designs in my head. Halter, monokini, tank...
- Hammoks - I had to figure out how to get two people in and out of one.
- Remodeling - The roof came off the house (literally) so it had to be redone.
- Hurricane Luis - I refer to a hurricane that caused damage and loss on the island. Most tropical storms miss Anguilla, but when they hit the flat island, they can be devestating
- Dutch terms of endearment - I love when foreign languages are woven in. Schatje won out. Mooie was saved for Caribbean Casanova.
- Holland Christmas traditions - Had to get the name of the cookies right ;)
- Teak sailboats - Johannes needed a sexy boat.
- Anguilla Christmas traditions - I want to go to the Christmas village.
- Bookshelves - Partly for the redesign of the house, and partly to make sure they were sturdy enough to...well, you know.
Thirteen already? I didn't even mention sex on the beach or honey lobster! Oh well, next time.
’Tis the season for unwrapping the gift of pleasure.
Under the Caribbean Sun, Book 1
When Saskia snags a last-minute ticket home to the Caribbean isle of Anguilla, she intends to surprise her workaholic father and to reconnect over Christmas. When she finds he’s away on business, there’s still plenty to fill her time while she waits. Sailing, snorkeling…and an unexpected, very adult attraction to her girlhood crush.
Joe Prinsen is certain Saskia has returned to the island only to ask for money. He feels it’s time she learns the truth about her father’s depleted financial situation from the man himself. And he intends to make sure she sticks around long enough to hear it.
Except the girl he remembers has matured into a devastatingly sexy woman. She's taking all his noble intentions and unwrapping them, one by one, until their shared desire is revealed in the warm Caribbean water. Saskia’s only home for Christmas. And once she finds out the secret he’s hiding, she’ll no doubt leave the Caribbean, and him, for good.
Warning :: The only thing hotter than the tropical sun is the sex—in the surf, on the water, against the bookcase… Readers will be wise to monitor electronic devices, and themselves, for overheating.
Barnes & Noble
Monday, November 26, 2012
Friday, November 23, 2012
Yesterday was, of course, Turkey Day in the States. For those of you south of the border, Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you spent/are spending it surrounded by family and friends and/or peace and quiet, whatever your preference. LOL.
Today I explain the shift in my headspace over at The Pink Heart Society in my "On Write Support" column. It's called Flatlining. It had been a crazy month to begin with, but last Friday the bottom kind of fell out (professionally speaking) for a few days. I'm okay now, but you can pop over there and read all about it. Let's just say that nothing every goes perfectly smooth. There are peaks and valleys. And only by experiencing valleys can you truly appreciate the view from the top, I think.
Have a good weekend. I'm spending some time sitting on bleachers again. I was smart and booked an appt at the chiro for Tuesday. :-)
Monday, November 19, 2012
I remember fall and Christmas bazaars put on by the UCW and WI groups in my community and all the baking that went with it, so I'm blogging about those small community types of celebrations today at RomConInc. My heroine in INTO THE FIRE has to make a tough decision - between apple crisp and pumpkin pie. And there's an excerpt so you can see the hero's solution to that particular dilemma.
Today I'm playing catch up after a grueling sports weekend of volleyball, volleyball, badminton, and volleyball again. I find I'm particularly glad that the school season has finished!
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Yesterday I did an interview with Kate Robbins. We talk a bit about the publishing biz and also about the new story - including an excerpt.
Today I'm visiting Nikki Duncan, asking about your thoughts on regrets. Do you have any? The heroine of INTO THE FIRE broke off her engagement to the hero three years before the story begins. Was that a mistake? There's also a copy of INTO THE FIRE up for grabs and during her weekend party I'm giving away a copy of SLEIGH RIDE WITH THE RANCHER - which, if you remember, is also out this month!
And once my pal Jenna is out of bed on the west coast, I'm hanging out with her with a special Thursday 13 post. You can find her blog HERE.
Meanwhile I'm making out a new to-do list so I can try to keep myself organized and on point. I'm starting to think I was crazy to NaNo this month - which reminds me, I need to update my word count meter...
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
And I'm also at The Book Vixen today - what can I say, I get around. I chat a little more about SPCA statistics and how our furry members of our family came to be. There's also a contest to win a kindle copy of INTO THE FIRE, so check it out! (Besides, the Book Vixen site is super pretty. I want to go back over just to look at the headings alone.)
You can check out INTO THE FIRE at Samhain's store or on amazon - as well as most other e-book retailers.
Saturday, November 10, 2012
I sent Jennie a few interview questions so you can get to know her better:
Monday, November 05, 2012
Friday, November 02, 2012
I have a special guest on the blog today! Sara Hubbard is a chaptermate of mine and she is one of the NICEST people I know. I was so thrilled to hear she'd sold her first book! Today is her very first release day and believe me when I say that while it never gets old, there really is NOTHING like your first time. :-)
So please welcome Sara to the blog as she tells you a little more about her debut from Etopia Press, BLOOD, SHE READ.
Thursday, November 01, 2012
I'm putting the finishing touches on a book due TOMORROW (ack!) and also updating my site and doing up my newsletter. Stay tuned over the next few days as I am holding a great contest to celebrate the release of my Holiday Miracles book. There are a LOT of cool things happening this month in that regard and during the second half of the month I'll also be talking about my third FIRST RESPONDERS book, INTO THE FIRE, which releases on the 13th. In the meantime you can catch up with a few blog posts that have been up recently like my Male on Monday at the Pink Heart Society, and an interview I did for USA TODAY's HEA blog.
So now...about NaNo.
I wasn't going to do it this year. In years past I let Nov 1 come and go because rarely did I get to finish a book in a month. STUFF always got in the way. Stuff meaning not even distractions but other parts of my job. Like revisions landing, or copy edits, promo, or being mid-deadline and it just wasn't practical to start a new book when I still had half to write on the last. But in the last year or so I've realized that I CAN write a draft in a month and I do it fairly consistently now (note I said DRAFT). With using #1k1hr, 50,000 words in a month equals 12,500 words in a week, or 2500 words a day (because I don't write on the weekends). That's usually quite doable for me. And, as I'm finishing a project tomorrow, I decided what the heck. I'll NaNo, even if I'm officially starting the new project on the 5th.
My NaNo group is through my RWA chapter, where we keep each other super accountable and have lots of fun.
The thing is, NaNo is great for some people and not for others and that's okay. It certainly wasn't for me for a very long time. If you want to do it, great, but if not, don't sweat it. The most important thing is to get in the habit of writing, whether that's 7 days a week, 5 days, 3 days; 500 words or 1667 or 3000. Forward motion and FINISHING are key things and you don't need NaNo to do it.
But if you want to - groovy. You can even mini-NaNo which is 25000 words - still a good output for a month, by the way.
Anyway look for a new word count meter to show up on my sidebar soon, and stay tuned for details for my upcoming contest. Oh! And tomorrow I have a very special guest taking over the blog...
Monday, October 29, 2012
But it's been getting better since then. I finished my first #1k1hr, and I just had e-mail from my editor that Cooper and Mel's story (title still TBD, but A Cowboy To Come Home To on the sidebar) is approved and will be out in July 2013. This is my 20th project for Harlequin so that's a very nice number.
Now I'm off to change laundry around before doing another #1k1hr. It's grey and breezy and drizzly today, but we're not due to have massive effects from Hurricane Sandy. It looks like Tuesday/Wednesday will be heavier rain and winds, but not the same intensity as in the states. It'll likely put a damper on Halloween, though.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
I started seeing the chiropractor for my hip, which has been good. I had an appt last Friday, one Tuesday, and have another tomorrow. Plus eldest had her monthly orthodontist appt yesterday morning.
I've been working on the novella and also doing other "admin" type things that have eaten up a fair bit of my time...the novella is supposed to go in to my editor next week-ish so I need to keep my butt moving on that! No rest for the wicked that way, and I will confess that waiting to hear back on 2 other projects is starting to play mind games with me and not in a good way.
Monday my eldest had a volleyball game. Tuesday the youngest had choir. Yesterday eldest had a volleyball game and youngest had band after school and then eldest had a dance, so it was a bit of bouncing around. Today youngest has her volleyball practice. There's no school tomorrow, but eldest is babysitting and then Saturday is badminton and more babysitting and a choir concert....followed by Sunday morning badminton.
It is cray cray I tell you!
And yet...I do love watching my kids participate in things they enjoy. Yesterday my youngest was offered a chance to play a second instrument in concert band as they are short and have a surplus of her first instrument. Music is her "thing". She is really excited about trying something new. She'll still be playing flute in her class band and in flute ensemble, so she gets a chance to play both. And my eldest is the sporty one, and the next few weeks are going to be hairy but should let us know what's happening throughout most of the rest of the school year. Mainly if she's going to be playing 2 sports this winter or just one.
The one thing I'm getting very good at? Taking a book with me everywhere I go! It gives me an extra excuse to catch up on my reading!
Thursday, October 18, 2012
But I read it this week, and you GUYS. It is gorgeous. It is one of my favourite books this year (and I've read 43 so far). Definitely my fave category romance. It is a wonderful fairy tale, with 2 great characters, a magical setting, a family mystery, and all set at Christmas. I cried through most of the last 2 chapters, both the happy and the sad kind.
I know I want all of you to read the whole HOLIDAY MIRACLES trilogy, but really, you can't miss out on this one!
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I can't wait to see the cover - they do such a great job with these and it's awesome that I'm in an antho with two people I've known since before I sold my first book!
It's a dreary, grey day here, so I'm off to make a cup of coffee and get stuck in to my manuscript.
Monday, October 15, 2012
After finalling last year, I can tell you that my outlook on the contest is much the same. One always hopes that maybe, if the stars are all aligned correctly, a book will final. It is a Big Deal being a finalist. You kind of feel like a rock star during conference.
But the chances of finalling aren't high. They really aren't. It's kind of like writing. If you look at the numbers, the chances of selling are quite small. If you look at the number of submissions and then number of requests, then number of acceptances it's enough to make you wonder if it's worth it. So why write? Well, there has to be a longer, better reason. For me it's because I kind of have to. I have stories to put down, I love doing it, and I'm grumpy when I don't. That's what kept me going through rejection. So why enter the RITAs if the chances of finalling are so small?
1) Because I can. Because I was blessed to have qualifying books out during 2012.
2) Because each year means I get my book in front of 5 peers who maybe, just maybe haven't read anything of mine before. Maybe they really like it. Maybe they'll go buy more of my work. Maybe they'll tell other people about it. Writers are readers. This is another way to grow my readership!
3) Because I judge. I also find other authors that I love, which is awesome. I found one of my autobuy authors the very first year I was eligible to judge. Also - I learn from judging. I learn from things done really well and things done...not so well.
4) And finally, because maybe the odds are against me but SOMEONE has to final and why not me? You can't win if you don't play. You really just never know, especially in this biz. And in my eyes, the RITA still stands for something.
Anyway my forms are printed and I'm getting my books ready to ship. And crossing my fingers, because it'd be kind of cool to make it to Atlanta next summer.
Friday, October 12, 2012
Do you have a place where everything gets deposited? In our old house that used to be the top of the fridge. In my office it's on top of my printer. I ALWAYS have a pile of papers, magazines, things that need my attention... well, not today! It is GONE! I've cleared out whatever needed looking after, recycled, and organized. My office looks so much better! Then I read all the adverts that came yesterday and noted some sale items on my grocery list. Printed out directions for somewhere I need to go tomorrow, got my things ready to drop off to the library (also tomorrow). I just have to unload the dishwasher and tidy the kitchen a bit and things will be neater. The house still needs the weekly spit and polish, but things look SO much better when they are actually picked up and put away. My inbox is down to FOUR, too! And if I get my stuff done in the next half hour, I have about an hour to read. I'm hoping to finish my book this weekend.
Sunday is our 17th anniversary, but because things are crazy tomorrow, I think we're going to keep it low key at home. Which is fine by me!
Back on Monday - when I get the chance to get back to work on Beneath the Badge. :-)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
She also sent through revisions for Cooper and Mel (A Cowboy to Come Home To, working title) and so that's what I'm going to be doing for the next few days. I had a feeling that as soon as I got stuck in my next story (Beneath The Badge), revisions would hit. But once they are out of the way I'll be back with Matt and Lindsay. I had a lot of fun writing the first chapter.
In the meantime, there's a Spotlight event happening at Harlequin's community - we're launching the Holiday Miracles trilogy with a special thread. This month Fiona is talking about the real life inspiration for the setting of SNOWBOUND IN THE EARL'S CASTLE - and yes, it's a real castle and YES, she's been there! Jealous! Come on over and join the conversation.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
We had turkey, stuffing/dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, carrots, green beans, mashed sweet potatoes (and there was much complaining about having sweet potatoes instead of squash, so we went and picked up a squash and had that too), rolls, cranberry sauce, coleslaw, and pickles. I didn't have the squash or any rolls or pickles, and I was still really full. After we'd mostly cleaned up that mess, we *thought* we had room for dessert which was coffee and my sister had made a gingerbread cheesecake and I made a pumpkin pie for those who just can't imagine Thanksgiving without pie. The pie turned out great which was a relief because I have a history of not-so-good pumpkin pie.
We played cards. I had to take an antacid. I was so full I was really feeling a bit ill. And the funny thing is I didn't clean my plate either with dinner OR dessert. My husband said that I was used to not eating as much so that was why I felt so rotten. I'm going with that. It sounds good.
Yesterday was a much lighter breakfast because we were having hot turkey sandwiches for lunch before everyone left for home. I enjoy this meal almost as much as the turkey dinner. Mmmm. It's one of two times a year that we dig out the deep fryer and make french fries and also buy white bread. Hot turkeys on whole grain just do not taste RIGHT. They were so good but again I wasn't able to finish everything on my plate!
Needless to say last night was a lighter meal - I made a turkey caesar salad and we had warmed up rolls with it.
Tonight we are taking a break and NOT having turkey. But tomorrow I expect it'll be turkey soup day. :-)
Friday, October 05, 2012
Thursday, October 04, 2012
I spent the better part of 2 days updating my site. It was an EPIC update because each page had to be tweaked - and considering I have a page for each of my books, that's a LOT of pages. There are two new spots for you to visit - one is an "Extras" page, which I'm going to work on building over time. Right now it's got a couple of photos on it. I've got some fun games that are going to be posted, and hopefully this month I'm going to add a video message.
While I'm still waiting for a cover for LITTLE COWGIRL ON HIS DOORSTEP, I did take the time to make a page for it and posted an excerpt! I really loved writing the first impression that Avery has of Callum, especially since in my mind Callum looked a little like this:
And one final thing - I added four recipes to the Recipe Corner so you might want to check that out. I plan on adding a few Christmas ornament knitting patterns soon.
That should keep y'all busy for a bit while I tackle what's next on the old to-do list!
Wednesday, October 03, 2012
It's my first book with my new editor, so I'm crossing my fingers that she likes it. And that revisions won't be too painful. :-) I'm sure there will be a few to help iron out some clunky bits or gaps or what not that I didn't see.
In the meantime, congrats to Shannon Grider who won my Newsletter Subscriber contest in September. I'm not holding a contest this month because next month it is going to be crazy - I've got a fab contest that is going to run all month long, and then I'm doing some major blog touring to celebrate BOTH my releases so there will be opportunities for you to win books all month long.
For the next day or two I'm catching up on "stuff" - updating my website should be done today, so be on the lookout for some new recipes and fun stuff there. I sent my monthly newsletter out yesterday and I have a list of the blogs I have left to write for next month's tour.
It all helps to cleanse the palate from the last book before I launch into the new one - the very last First Responders novella called Beneath The Badge. If you want to stay up to date on all the Samhain releases and special events, they do have a newsletter. Actually - they have FOUR! Newsletters for New Releases, Romance, Horror, and Retro Romance are all available. You can sign up using this form.
But first - it's a gorgeously warm fall day and I have laundry ready to hang on the line!
Monday, October 01, 2012
Friday, September 28, 2012
I did write a blog post and sent it off...one more for the blog tour looked after. :-)
It was a busy week. I finished the first draft of my book and promptly realized I have to rewrite a big chunk of the end that just isn't sitting right. I watched the season premieres of NCIS, NCIS LA, Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest. Hands down the best one was Person of Interest. The others were good but not OMG good. So far that title is still held by Castle.
I had two separate curriculum nights which were great and I got to meet all the teachers. I worked out and I read and did laundry. All in all it was busy, and the weekend is going to be too and I think today I just rebelled and decided to NOT be productive.
But I can only do that for so long, so I'm going to maybe iron those shirts. Or something.
Meanwhile, have a fun weekend! There's a trip to Costco and an RWA meeting in my schedule!
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
And yeah, I *may* have watched that final scene from last season on YouTube a few times before last night. :-)
So here's my brief take on last night's epi from a "when they get together it usually kills the show" kind of perspective.
And then when Castle is at HER apartment and they get interrupted? Well, in the words of Sheldon Cooper, it looked like they were never going to have coitus.
So then we're launched into the story again - aka who is out to kill Beckett and who killed her mother. She doesn't want to get involved. She's with Castle because she finally let go of the case. But a renewed sense of danger plunges her right back into the middle again. And she finds out who is behind the whole thing. Meanwhile they nearly get blown up (I was sad to see Tahmoh Penikett die, but dude that's what you get when you play a bad guy!) along with her assassin and Espo and Ryan sorta make up (gotta keep that bromance going).
But here's the big thing and I think maybe a lot of people missed it. And this is HUGE from a conflict POV for Beckett because it's buried in PLOT.
Beckett confronts the man who killed her mother. The man who has been behind this whole thing. Who ordered someone to kill her. This is the person she's hunted for YEARS. She has a gun on him. She's not a cop any longer. She can end it all right here.
And what does she do? She lies and says she has the file. She takes back the power by telling him that if something ever happens to her or someone she cares about, the whole truth will come out and she will ruin him.
Of course she does that. Because she's Kate and she can't kill someone in cold blood.
But there's a better reason and it's in the "someone she cares about" line. And here's the truth behind Kate's decision: she chose protecting Castle over the goal she's been working towards her whole adult life. HE means more to her than justice.
We saw bits of this in the season finale last year when she tells Castle that Maddox got away but all she could think about was him. This time she put her money where her mouth was. She chose him.
And that, my friends, is HUGE. Action, humour, and some real emotion all in one episode. I can't say how this whole relationship is going to play out or what will happen to the show. But I'm sure going to enjoy finding out.