Sunday, December 23, 2012

See you in 2013!

I'm off for the holidays and recharging in preparation of coming back with a vengeance in January. In the meantime, I leave you with this, and I'll see you all in the New Year. Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 20, 2012

What's Under The Christmas Tree?

Right now there's a fun contest going on at the Harlequin Romance Author blog. We've posted pics of our various Christmas trees and on the 26th we'll be posting a winner to take home the grand prize! You can enter once each day, so why not pop on over! You can find us at www.harlequinromanceauthors.com .

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

Tonight I'm making my favourite stuffed mushrooms for a get-together we're hosting (as well as making a bunch of other stuff). Here's the recipe for the mushrooms, as they are delicious and super easy and best of all you do most of it ahead of time. Apologies for not having exact amounts, but you'll be able to make these in whatever quantity you like. I always have leftover sausage that I save for something else, like pasta sauce or spicy omelets.

SAUSAGE STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Large White Mushrooms
Italian sausage, mild or hot
Kraft Italian dressing (or any Italian vinaigrette)
Fresh parmesan

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

Homeland... The Newsroom...and good tv

Last night the dh and I watched the latest episode of Homeland. For those of you without super channels etc...let me give you a brief rundown. Homeland is about a soldier who was MIA for 8 years, a prisoner of a terrorist called Abu Nazir. He's rescued and brought home to a hero's welcome...but there are questions. It's not all black and white with this guy.

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.

*jaw drop*

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

Weekend viewing...

For your weekend viewing pleasure, I got my latest cover yesterday! Isn't it GORGEOUS? This book will be out in March. They did a really good job on it!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Believing in a Story

The past few weeks I've been working on revising THE HOUSE ON HIDEAWAY HILL. This is the big, single title-length story that was passed on a few weeks ago. There were a few snippets of feedback in the letter to my agent that I paid attention to. So I've been making some changes before we start sending it out again.

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

Getting Ready...


I had a fantastic weekend. I turned down a few invitations, which was disappointing but I felt necessary. I’ve been fairly stressed and got the feeling that I really needed to a) have a weekend without doing a lot of running and b) have a weekend where I got a lot done. Both of the invitations were to things that would have been fun – drinks at a friend’s house on Friday and then a day trip with another friend and her daughter on Saturday, so I kind of miss having done those things. But the end result tells me I made the right choice because the weekend was great.

On Friday my youngest didn’t have school, so we took a list, ran Christmas shopping errands and then treated ourselves to lunch at Moxie’s, which was delicious. On Friday night the girls and I snuggled up on the couch and watched one of my fave chick flicks and one that is somewhat Christmassy – The Holiday. It’s hard to be glum when Jack Black is singing Scroodleydoo.

Saturday I got up and made the family breakfast. Unfortunately that meant trying a new recipe for a shredded hashbrown thing that was, honestly, disgusting. Thankfully the youngest had scrambled some eggs and I made maple sausage patties. They were a new try for us, by a local biz and when they said lean they weren’t kidding. Not a drop of fat ended up in the pan, and they were delicious. So the meal wasn’t a total fail. Just the potatoes. Then the husband and I ran errands while the girls started cleaning. I got a price match on a recent purchase which was awesome, and then we picked up some K-Cups – I tried the Green Mountain Coffee Spicy Eggnog and it is GORGEOUS! Bought more. When we got home we had some lunch, finished cleaning the upstairs, and then spent the afternoon decorating the house and cleaning the downstairs as we went.

After supper the eldest had badminton practice, so youngest and I curled up and watched The Santa Clause.

Sunday was baking day. We made Chinese Chews, Chocolate Peanut Clusters, Gumdrop Cake, Chocolate Truffles (new recipe, TO DIE FOR), and 2 kinds of Chex Mix as well as a ham dinner for supper. There are a few more things to make, but we got a huge start on it. Some decorated shortbread, Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls and War Cake is all that’s required. And we watched White Christmas.

To top it off, my stress kind of melted away. Do you know I haven’t even been able to READ for about three weeks? My usual escape and…it just wasn’t working. But this weekend I finished one book and started another. It felt GOOOD.

Now I’m working this week on getting revisions done on Hideaway Hill so I can send it back to my agent. And doing laundry. And the second volleyball season is kicking off. But Christmas? Heck,  I got this. J

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Tanya Hanson's ANGEL CHILD


Check out this latest from Petticoats and Pistols Filly Tanya Hanson!
 
 
Angel Child, Book Six, Hearts Crossing Ranch series
 

Determined to get her life back on track,  Mary Grace Gibson takes on a substitute-teaching  job, grateful for the room and board offered at Hearts Crossing Ranch. The bustling family life helps her heal after abandonment by her ex. But her little boy’s serious disabilities make her cautious about revealing her secrets to anybody. Even Scott Martin, the handsome cowboy who’s fast stealing her heart.

Her former student now grown up, cowboy and graphic artist Scott Martin is instantly drawn to the beautiful single mom. She’s had some hard luck but never let go of her faith. Their age gap doesn’t fret him, and their kisses ignite his love. But as they fall for each other, Mary Grace’s lack of trust in him shatters his feelings, for he’s been down that broken trail before.

How can he assure her he’s different from the man who hurt her and neglected her son?

 

Buy link:


 

My stuff:




 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday 13: Jenna Bayley-Burke and Caribbean Christmas


Thursday 13 :: Things Jenna researched while writing Caribbean Christmas

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.
 

  1. Dutch names - I can't start a story without character names. I trip all over myself until I know first and last names.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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...
  6. Hammoks - I had to figure out how to get two people in and out of one. 
  7. Remodeling - The roof came off the house (literally) so it had to be redone.
  8. 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
  9. Dutch terms of endearment - I love when foreign languages are woven in. Schatje won out. Mooie was saved for Caribbean Casanova.
  10. Holland Christmas traditions - Had to get the name of the cookies right ;)
  11. Teak sailboats - Johannes needed a sexy boat.
  12. Anguilla Christmas traditions - I want to go to the Christmas village.
  13. 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.

Jenna Bayley-Burke
www.jennabayleyburke.com

Caribbean Christmas

’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.

Samhain Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday Deals

My to-do list is a bit staggering, so I'm keeping the blog short today. However as you know it is Cyber Monday  - aka the Shop At Home equivalent of Black Friday. There are some good deals to be had on my books! You can get 50% off all ebooks at the Samhain Bookstore with coupon code EARLYBIRD. And you can also save 50% off all my books at All Romance Ebooks. Just remember this is a one day only sale so get on it! :-)

Friday, November 23, 2012

In Which I Talk about Disappointment...

The blog has been quiet this week. I've been taking a little time. Not exactly off...I've been working. But I've puttered around the house - wrapped some Christmas pressies I had bought, caught up on laundry, etc. I had a long chat with my agent on Tuesday. I've worked on some revisions, but truth be told...I haven't been pushing myself and that's okay. My brain needed a bit of a break.

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

Apple Crisp or Pumpkin Pie?

While Thanksgiving is long over here in Canada, this is Thanksgiving week in the US. Every family has their own traditions and favourite recipes. I've heard lots of chatter about it during the last week (it seemed that once the election was over, people started talking about the holiday, lol!).

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

Making the Rounds!

I've been making the rounds around cyberspace to celebrate the release of INTO THE FIRE!

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

INTO THE FIRE release day! - and furbabies

It's release day for INTO THE FIRE! To celebrate I'm hanging out at my friend Shawna Romkey's blog talking about animal rescues - this is a cause close to her heart and it plays a big part in the book, so it's a match made in heaven. Come read how It All Started With Marmalade....

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

Shattered - with Jennie Marsland

I'm super thrilled to have Jennie Marsland on my blog today! Jennie is a member of my local RWA chapter and she's here to tell us a bit about SHATTERED - a wonderful book set during the time of the Halifax Explosion. It's really cool to have a book set locally with a historic backdrop, and even more exciting, I think, to be able to share that with the world. The Halifax Explosion was devastating. It basically levelled the city. And it happened in wartime. Let me tell you, this is a rich time period and you totally get swept away with the characters and the setting.

I sent Jennie a few interview questions so you can get to know her better: 

1)      Tell us about you!  

I was born in Montreal but my family roots are in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, and we moved ‘back East’ when I was a teenager. I have a Masters in microbiology and my B.Ed.  Over the years I’ve worked as a research technician, a math and science teacher, and – for one surreal year – an insurance agent.

I’ve been writing since I was very young, with long dry spells here and there. I play guitar, love to cook – and eat! – and have dabbled in watercolours, though that’s something I haven’t done for a few years now. My partner and I have been together for seventeen years. He’s a professional quality musician, and we met when I took guitar lessons from him. When he stopped charging me for the lessons, I knew I was in trouble.

 
2)      Is there something you’ve done or said that would surprise people who know you?

 
A lot of people who know me from the math/science side of my life are very surprised to find out that I write. That always strikes me as a bit strange, since for me the writing came first. I didn’t really take to science until high school. It’s an interest, but writing is my passion.

 
3)      What prompted you to write Shattered?

 

Shattered is set in 1917 at the time of the Halifax Explosion, an accident of war that devastated the city’s North End. It’s a major event in our history, and I taught for ten years in one of the few North End buildings to survive. For me, the neighbourhood has a unique energy - and then a friend of mine told me a story that set my imagination spinning. Her home was built on the foundation of a house that was destroyed in the Explosion. One day she came home from work, glanced in her kitchen window and saw a man in old-fashioned clothes, sitting at her table. While she was looking at him, he vanished. That story perked in my mind for years, and her ‘visitor’ became my inspiration for Liam Cochrane, the hero of Shattered.
 

4)      I find that I often research really interesting things that I just don’t have room to put in a story. What interesting research did you end up leaving out?
 

I’m such a research geek. I found all kinds of interesting factoids about the Explosion that didn’t make it into Shattered. For example, the youngest victim was six days old. Halifax’s first motorized fire engine, the Patricia, was destroyed responding to the emergency. And, in Halifax in 1917, you could get a roast chicken dinner with all the trimmings, plus coffee and dessert, for fifty cents.
 

5)      We both have a huge affection for a breed of dog that isn’t familiar to a lot of people – the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Can you introduce us to Chance and Echo? What led you to the Duck Toller as a breed?
 

I love my Tollers! We’ve had Chance since he was a pup, and we got Echo from the same breeder as a two-year-old a couple of years ago. Here’s a picture of them in their natural element at our family cottage, and another of them hogging the couch. Chance is the larger of the two. 

Tollers were originally bred to look like red foxes, which gave them their sharp faces, coppery coats and white markings. In my biased opinion they’re beautiful, and it’s uncanny how much Echo looks like your Dreamer! When we decided to get a dog, we chose a Toller because friends of mine had one and we liked her. We’ve never regretted it. Tollers are compact, athletic, smart and very strong-willed. Chance will be eleven in March, and he still won’t give up a toy without a tug-of-war. They can be a challenge to train, but we love their spirit. I swear they have a sense of humour. Some people say that as a breed Tollers are a little bit aloof, but my two are lap dogs. (Donna's note: Every time I see Echo I get this jolt. Her face is so much like Dreamer's! My friend calls them "Love Bug Eyes".)
 

6)      What are you working on right now?
 

I’m writing a sequel to Shattered, with the working title Deliverance. It picks up the story of Carl O’Neill, a secondary character. Carl’s a bit of a bad boy. In Shattered, he’s home on recuperative leave after escaping from a German prison camp. He goes AWOL from Halifax to avoid being sent back to the trenches, and ends up in a small town in Saskatchewan, where he’s dumped off the train drunk and ill with pneumonia. He’s taken in by the town doctor, whose daughter, Naomi, spent two years overseas as a Red Cross nurse.

Naomi has her own struggles dealing with her war experience, and she’s also a rape victim. Carl’s hiding his identity and Naomi is hiding the fact that she’s had an abortion, but as they get closer, they both find it harder and harder to lie. I have lots of stones to throw at these two.

Here’s an excerpt from Shattered, where we meet the story’s main couple, Liam and Alice – and Carl as well. The scene is a fundraising social for the war effort. It’s early in the story, when Liam is keeping company with Alice’s sister Georgie. See what happens when a pair of Irish hotheads collide. 

 “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s wonderful to see you all here, supporting our parish’s efforts to ease the suffering of helpless civilians overseas. There is more than one person here tonight who could tell us first-hand just how severe those sufferings have been and what our sons and brothers have sacrificed in the effort to end them. The least we here at home can do is––”

“Shut up. That’s the least you can do.”

The words carried clearly from the corner nearest the O’Neills’ table. Every head swiveled. Georgie blushed deep red. Alice’s face blanched pearl-white. In the shadows just beyond the lighted platform, Carl leaned against the wall, his face flushed with heat and liquor. No one at the table had noticed him come in.

An older, heavier Carl than Liam remembered, with a harder face. The tough kid had grown into a tough man, with an added belligerence. One look at his glazed eyes told Liam Georgie’s brother was a loose cannon.

He and Stephen got up at the same instant and started toward the corner. Stephen got there first and planted himself in front of Carl.

“You’ve said enough. Your sisters are here.”

“I’m not leaving ’til I make my point.” Carl pushed Stephen back and raised his voice again. “That old windbag hasn’t got anyone at the front. She doesn’t have a clue.”

The scathing words on Liam’s tongue died there. Up close, Carl reminded him too much of men he’d seen in hospital, men who woke in the night screaming as he’d done more than once. Men who spent their days looking at the world through vacant eyes. And Mrs. Henneberry annoyed the hell out of him, too.

“You’re right, Carl. She doesn’t. This isn’t the place for either of us. Come outside and get some fresh air.”

Fists clenched, Carl took a step forward. “Don’t bullshit me, Liam. I’m not going anywhere until I’m good and ready. Who do you think you are, anyway? Your little brother isn’t the only one who’s been killed overseas, you know. Just––”

Liam didn’t hear the rest of the sentence. Rage blotted out his compassion, rage and the memory of Michael-John’s wide, sightless dark eyes. His first punch landed hard in Carl’s belly. The second hit his jaw, knocking him backward and throwing Liam off-balance. They hit the floor, fists flying. The next thing he knew, Nolan was dragging him to his feet while his father and Stephen pinioned Carl. Liam shook his brother off and dove at Carl, only to have his bad leg collapse and land him back on the floor. Nolan helped him up again and got a firm grip on his arms.

“What the hell? Liam, stop it!”

Buy Link:

 
Thanks for visiting Jennie - and I'm SO excited for Carl's story. I can't wait!

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 05, 2012

The REAL start to NaNo

Friday I sent BENEATH THE BADGE to my editor. I was a few days later sending it than I hoped, but that’s okay. I wrote somewhere around 2000 words in those two days-  writing the last scene and then layering a bit before sending as I revised. I’d gone over the front end of it so many times that it was pretty complete once I got to the end.  This weekend I did up my art and blurb forms so that I’d be free and clear to start my new book today.

So this is the real start of NaNo for me – on November 5. Which gives me even fewer days to make the 50k mark.

I’m excited to write this one though. It’s the story I THOUGHT I’d be writing in September, until plans took a slight change. And really the timing is perfect now because this is a Christmas story and things are just starting to get warmed up for the holidays! Decorations are showing up in the stores and I’ve started thinking about shopping (especially since I have to ship most of my pressies!). I’m hoping this book goes together in a lovely way because not only do I have CHRISTMAS but I also have a wedding in this book and so it should be wonderfully romantic and atmospheric. At least that is the hope.

I started adding some pics to my Pinterest Christmas board for inspiration. There are a lot of cookies because I’m also participating in the Harlequin community Christmas Cookie Swap. Not only that but I did a special video message for readers about the significance of my cookie recipe (from the book) and there is also a great prize being given away.

My first #1k1hr session is about to start, so I need to blast off. But before I go, there’s a chance to win a copy of Sleigh Ride with the Rancher AND a Holiday Miracles Christmas ornament over at Harlequin Junkie’s blog. I chat about Christmas in Cowtown (Calgary) and the importance of downtowns in our urban landscape. J

Have a great Monday!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Special Guest Sara Hubbard on her DEBUT DAY!


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.

 

Thank you, Donna, for letting me take over your blog today! I am very excited to announce the release of my debut novel, BLOOD, SHE READ, a young adult novel that crosses many genres, including mystery/suspense and paranormal/UF. At the heart of this story is a romance between a damaged teen with trust issues and a boy with secrets that may or may not include murder. Blood, She Read is the first book in a trilogy. I hope to release the second, MAGIC, SHE CAST, next summer.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine this novel would be published. I mean, sure I’d hoped for it, but I never actually thought it would happen. But shortly after submitting BLOOD, SHE READ to publishers, this same novel finaled in one contest and won another. Then I received two offers to publish and a request from a third for more time to consider. I was in shock. Well, after I jumped up and down a million times I went into shock. Could someone not related to me actually enjoy my writing? In the end, I chose to publish with Etopia Press and haven’t looked back since. They’ve been amazing, and my editor, Rhiannon Morgan, is the absolute best. Only Rhiannon could make the tedious process of editing entertaining.

You can read the blurb for this book below:

Blood, She Read

Genre: Young adult paranormal/UF

ISBN: 978-1-937976-50-7

Seventeen-year old Petra Maras lives a charmed life—but only in the magical sense. Her absentee father is a criminal, her mother is emotionally dead, and everyone at her new school knows she comes from a family of witches. All she wants is to be normal, but this is impossible given her family. When a cop approaches her and asks her to use her psychic abilities to help him solve a murder she is unsure if she should say yes. Magic has brought her nothing but grief, but in the end she agrees, thinking it might help make up for all the horrible things she did in her past. She sees the scene of the crime but can’t hear a name or see a face. This proves problematic when the main suspect decides he wants to date her.

BLOOD, SHE READ is available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo (release may be delayed). You can find my website at: www.sara-hubbard.com.

Although I’ve been told not to read reviews I don’t think I’ll be able to help myself. I look forward to hearing what people think of it. Hopefully, they’ll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 
Thanks again, Donna! And happy reading!

Thursday, November 01, 2012

The Start of a New Month - and NaNo

How on EARTH did it get to be November? Seriously? October has been a blur of writing, extra-curricular events, and general craziness. But I'm actually looking forward to a new month and it's starting off with some great things - like today being the release day of Sleigh Ride with the Rancher. And also the day that I get to pick up my new car! I'm pretty tickled about that because we've never had a brand new car before, we've always bought used. I can't wait. Though there's something a little sad about saying goodbye to my old truck. She's been a good girl and has seen us through camping trips and a drive across country when we moved. However I confess I'm looking forward to things like power windows. Power locks. And AWD. :-)

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

Monday Ups and Downs

Monday didn't start well. *Someone* stepped in dog poop this morning and didn't realize. Thankfully they took their shoes off in the entry and then put them on just before work, so any tracking of disgusting stuff was limited to the entry way and *ahem* into my office where *someone* waits for his drive to arrive. Not that we're mentioning any names. But I did have to scrub before 8 a.m. this morning, which is not the most stellar start to the week.

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

Craziness

This week has flown by. Between work and family, it's been pretty steady around here.

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

Snowbound In The Earl's Castle

I'm ashamed to say that until today I had not read Fiona's story, Snowbound In The Earl's Castle, from start to finish. We talked a lot about what was happening in our stories, and intersection points and that kind of stuff, but I hadn't actually read it all the way through. And definitely not after it had been revised and copy edited!

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

Coming in January to Mills and Boon

Just a quick note today as I've got major word count to get down. I found out last week that PROUD RANCHER, PRECIOUS BUNDLE is going to be reprinted in an anthology in the UK called DATE WITH THE SINGLE DAD - along with stories from Ally Blake and Natasha Oakley.

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

RITA Entry Day

Today is RITA entry day! I've managed to make my way through the new form - a bit longer this year but not too confusing.

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

Revisions

Revisions - tweaks, really - have gone back to my editor just in time for the weekend. I was up way too early this morning thanks to a kid with a nightmare, so I've taken it "easy" since hitting send.

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

Little Cowgirl on His Doorstep

My editor sent through the blurb for Little Cowgirl on His Doorstep!


Little cowgirl makes three

For Avery Spencer the sight of rugged, sullen and dangerously sexy Callum Shepard is enough to set her pulse racing. Too bad she’s only on his ranch to tell him that her adorable baby niece is his daughter!

Tortured rancher Callum almost can’t believe he's a father. But now he must learn to believe he does have what it takes to become a dad, and convince Avery that both she and baby Nell belong on the ranch—with him!


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

Turkey Coma

I am full of turkey. My sister and brother in law and their dog came for the weekend and we ate...and ate...and ate. There was the Saturday afternoon "appetizer" of chicken wings - buffalo and salt and pepper and they were AWESOME. Then around 7 p.m. we had homemade pizza. We had bought snacks for playing cards but they stayed in the pantry as we were all too full to eat anything more. Then Sunday morning brought a big breakfast, and a snack around 1 or so to hold us through until Thanksgiving Dinner, which we ate around 5. My niece and nephews came for dinner - they'd been staying at the eldest's apartment for the weekend, so there were 9 of us to sit down and eat.

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

Finland

Today's post is brought to you by HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE, which is out this month in Finland.

Pretty, right?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

How it all started... and a new excerpt

Yesterday a blog went up on the Romantic Times site - a blog that I co-wrote along with the awesome Fiona Harper and Shirley Jump. We talk about how we came up with the idea of the Holiday Miracles trilogy and what it was like working together.  Pop on over for the deets! It was fun!

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

And it's....gone

Yesterday I handed in my latest book. It's actually gone in early, which is awesome. It means I get an earlier start on projects that are upcoming and I feel less pressure when life gets in the way as it is surely apt to do in the next few months. October and the first 2 weeks of November are volleyball season. Then December is Christmas concerts and holiday prep. It's very busy, especially with the concerts as the youngest will have a school band concert and probably about 3 choir performances, and the eldest will also have her high school band concert.

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

Holiday Miracles

While my book won't hit store shelves until November, book 1 in the Holiday Miracles trilogy releases TODAY (SNOWBOUND IN THE EARL'S CASTLE!) and you can get my contribution (SLEIGH RIDE WITH THE RANCHER) too if you shop at www.harlequin.com. The third book, MISTLETOE KISSES WITH THE BILLIONAIRE will be out Dec 1 (and available on Harlequin on November 1).

 
 
If you're in the UK, you can get ALL THREE TITLES in one volume called A CHRISTMAS LETTER. It releases on November 1, but again, if you shop at www.millsandboon.co.uk (It's under "Special Releases"), you can get it now.
 


Friday, September 28, 2012

The week...

It's Friday. I've done next to nothing all day. The kids are home (Professional Development day) and we walked the dog and went to the optometrist to pick up their new glasses. I might make jam. There are some shirts to iron. I probably should have done a lot more stuff, but I'm actually tired today and can't seem to find the gumption.

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

Castle (with spoilers)

I couldn't wait to watch last night's season opener of Castle. The closer it got, the more excited I was. I couldn't BELIEVE how they ended it last season. And I knew from different bits of buzz that it wasn't going to be a "we ended it with it looking like they were going to get together, but something's going to happen to stop it" thing. It had happened. When this season started, it would definitely be THE MORNING AFTER.

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.

We all know that the tension is what sells so when characters get the payoff a lot of the time the tension is just...gone. And a show tanks. But you have to balance that with just enough intimacy to keep readers interested. And did last night ever do that! Beckett in one of Castle's shirts bringing him coffee in bed...nice. The whole "I've got the whole day, what should we do?" thing - lovely. As viewers we are RIGHT THERE. Being interrupted by his mother and hung over daughter? Priceless.

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.