Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Drive By...

I haven't disappeared, though I realized that it's Wednesday and I haven't posted anything new this week. Monday I spent most of the day at the school doing up the hot lunch order for the last 8 weeks of school. It's my last time doing it as we are leaving Elementary school behind. I came home and did a bunch of admin. Then yesterday I spent most of the day at the music festival with my youngest and her Honour Choir. She played a beautiful flute accompaniment to their first piece and then sang with the choir for the second. They came away with a silver standard and she got a nice comment on her playing so it was a good day. And then...I came home and did more admin.

In a way it was good, I think I needed to clear my mind from story for a bit. Today I'm home working and I'm raring to go.

So that's where I'll be. Nose deep in my manuscript. And doing laundry.

Happy Wednesday!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


The lovely Abby Green tagged me with a Sunshine Award - which means I get to share things I particularly love. I would have done this a few days ago, but I was busy finishing the first draft of my current project - which I finished late Friday night was so tired that I actually napped both yesterday and today.

But I'm hopefully better rested now so here are a bunch of things I love:

I love the smell of sheets fresh off the line, when you go to bed at night and it smells like outdoors and laundry detergent.

I also love the smell of wood smoke - particularly an outdoor fire. It makes me think of camping. And one of the best things about camping is sitting around a blazing fire making sticky s'mores or spider dogs and watching the sun go down.

I love a full-bodied red wine, and the smooth taste of dark chocolate.

I love a book that makes me laugh, cry, and turn the last page with a happy sigh.

I love the sound of a baby belly laugh. It is impossible to be grumpy when you hear a baby giggling uncontrollably. And the warm, cosy feel of a baby snuggled in, with their face pressed against your neck as they fall asleep.

I love driving in the yard and seeing my dog's face pop up in the window, waiting for me.

I love girlie days with my girls, watching movies, drinking hot cocoa, and snuggling under a blanket.

I love the very rare moments that the house is quiet and I get to spend time JUST with my husband.

I love floating in the pool with a Pina Colada and worrying about absolutely nothing.

Apple blossoms, fresh strawberries, maple leaves in autumn.

And several other things, but I'm already feeling quite warm and squishy. Oh wait! One more thing! I love RWA National Conference and knowing I get to share a room with the awesome Fiona Harper once more. So consider yourself tagged, Fi my darlin'.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fairy Dust

Sometimes a book happens along that feels like it was sprinkled a bit with fairy dust. HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART was a bit that way. I've said many times how I really wanted to write Clay's story and couldn't find him the right match. And that when I did (clearly it was Megan) it just worked. It was the right time for his HEA.

Maybe it sounds silly because after all these are characters in a book and not real people. But the truth is, you can't just throw two characters into a story and force them to work. So Clay waited, not always patiently.

It was worth the wait both for Clay (lol) and for me as a writer. The book is being very good to me in the contest circuit this year. Today I found out that it is a finalist in the National Reader's Choice Awards - making it a hat trick of nominations this year. It's gratifying and slightly overwhelming in a wonderful way. And it goes to show that a heroine doesn't have to be physically perfect to be awesome.

I also found out that the next Harlequin Romance I write (as soon as I finish my current wip!) will be another Cadence Creek book. I'm excited to dig in as I know what it's about and I think it's going to be great fun. Plus I loved writing the first 2 Cadence Creek books, so going back is lovely!

All in all there's some great Thursday love going around. Including in my #1k1hr group, so I'd better get back to it - I'm so close to THE END it's silly.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Random Thoughts

Today's post is a smorgasbord of randomness because I feel like lately I have such a short attention span...or maybe it's that my head is full of the current book so everything else is in bits and pieces as that's all I can manage. Anyway here we go - my random thoughts:

Waterguns are effective against woodpeckers, particularly the Northern Flicker that insists on drumming on the eavestrough outside our bedroom window at dawn and occasionally throughout the morning. It is more effective later in the morning since getting out of bed to actually go out on the deck and blast the thing is not desireable. I will be very glad when nesting season is over. If it is like last year, enough blasting/diversion will make him go elsewhere to beat his beak.

Blistering lectures DO work. I delivered one yesterday. As a result my kid made cupcakes last night, then cleaned up the entire kitchen (her mess AND the supper mess) and then this morning started laundry, tidied the kitchen and because we had to have her sister to school early, went upstairs and made her sister's bed and tidied her room. I'm a bit afraid to see what she's going to ask for in return.

Random thought number three - sometimes sleep is better than an hour long workout. Yesterday I did 2 dog walks and then 20 min of 10 Minute Trainer with the hubs. I was still going to do my P90X Core workout but at 9:00 realized that what I truly needed was sleep. I needed it more than an hour of working out. So I was in bed by 9:15. Turns out I was right. Don't underestimate the value of sleep.

And finally, and less random, Tanya Michaels, who is also a finalist in the RITA® with me, is holding a contest on her blog for a RITA themed prize pack. Just visit her blog for deets. She's included me which I think is very generous of her. Show her some love.
Now it's time for #1k1hr. I'm outta here. Have a good 'un! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Lucky 7 Meme

I've been tagged by Ally Blake and Michelle Styles for this meme, and I thought it would be fun as I'm deep deep deep into my WIP and I couldn't remember exactly what might be happening on page 77. The idea is to go to page 77 of your current work in progress, skip 7 lines, and give the next 7. Here we go...

Stripping off her gloves, she took Tom’s card out of her pocket and grabbed her cell phone, dialling his number with her thumb. Might as well get it over with. She’d have to take her medicine like a good girl and get the ball rolling.  

     “Arseneault Contracting.”

     “Tom.” The deep voice was clearly his, it shivered along her nerve endings like silk. She swallowed. “It’s Abby Foster.”

     “Well, well.”

It actually does do a good job establishing the tone of their relationship thus far.

I got a lot written yesterday with tons of lightbulb moments and one go-for-the-tissues bit, so there may be hope for it yet.

Have a good weekend - consider yourself tagged if you haven't been already. I know I'm a bit slow in responding, and most of the people I would have tagged have participated already. :-)

Friday, April 13, 2012

A the week

Ok, so bad pun. I admit it. But I'm writing up a storm, it's Friday, and I wanted to wind up the week with something good. And the good is that FALLING FOR MR DARK AND DANGEROUS is out in Finland next month!

Here's the link on the Harlequin Finland page.

And if you're one of those not attending the Romantic Times convention this weekend, there's lot of "Stay At Home" partying going on at The Romance Studio over the next few days  - including LOTS of giveaways.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Goodreads Giveaway for The Rebel Rancher

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Rebel Rancher by Donna Alward

The Rebel Rancher

by Donna Alward

Giveaway ends May 15, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Great, the Good, and the Downright Ugly

This past weekend was a crazy mish mash of eating way too much food, massive amounts of cleaning, doing edits for my August release, and watching a few movies. Today I'm going to chat about the movies because they've been on my mind a lot.

First up is THE HUNGER GAMES! We went on Saturday afternoon and it was everything I hoped it would be. It did feel for a while that they were NEVER going to get to the actual games part, but it didn't matter. I was totally sucked in. I liked Gale, LOVED Katniss, and to my surprise saw Paula Malcomson (DEADWOOD) as Katniss's mom. Josh Hutcherson was great as Peeta, a real blend of innocent boy-next-door and strategist. I liked him better here than in the book, where at times he appeared a bit weak and needy. A key moment to see this was when they arrived in the Capitol and Peeta was waving out the train window. Haymitch made a comment that there was a boy who knew what he was doing.

Speaking of Haymitch - Woody Harrelson was the PERFECT choice IMO. And did I mention Lenny Kravitz as Cinna? AWESOME. I loved him!

And it was brilliant how, after getting to involved with the Peeta/Katniss relationship, at the end we see Katniss see Gale and Prim. I was all...oh yeah. Now I remember why she's torn between Gale and Peeta...

It was just great! Can't wait for the next...

Saturday night the husband and I watched a movie I've wanted to see for some time: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. With a top-notch cast that lists as long as my arm, I thought how could we lose?

It was TERRIBLE. A real snooze fest and it wasn't hard to figure out why. For a spy thriller, it was mostly a bunch of guys sitting around talking about what had happened in the past. Instead of showing things in real time, it was a slow (emphasis on the slow) reveal of something that had already taken place. Nor were there any real stakes for the main character. He didn't stand to lose anything in the end. All that was at stake was the truth. Yawn.

It got a lot of acclaim which I don't quite understand. I've seen it called sharp and intelligent while I found it just...dull. The thing with intellectual films is that I have to actually CARE enough to bother thinking, which I didn't. I didn't give a damn about any character other than Mark Strong's. Which is a shame, because several of the actors are favourites of mine. *prepares for TTSP and LeCarre fan backlash*

Much better believe it or not was PUSS IN BOOTS. Sharp, witty, with a main character out to clear his name AND save the one-liners that had us giggling. We had a blast.

What movies have you watched lately?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cover Love: The Greatest Gift

It's Easter, the girls and I are going to The Hunger Games and I'm also starting some spring cleaning, but I wanted to drop by and share some pretty. :-)

Here's the cover for the Mother's Day anthology coming out digitally on May 1. Lovely, right?

Fitness Friday - Heat it up

I loved this article from my Beachbody newsletter so much I thought I'd repost it here - full credit to the author of  course. Seeing as I do love hot food, this is good news indeed!

Chili Peppers: A Hot Ticket for a Healthy Diet

By Kim Kash

If you're one of those obnoxious, macho types who makes a big show of snacking on hot peppers for the shock value—keep it up! It looks like chili pepper hotheads may be less susceptible to inflammation, diabetes, prostate cancer, and heart disease. Plus, all that spicy hotness chases away congestion, and it even (ironically) helps to prevent stomach ulcers.

Roasting Chili Peppers

Native to Central and South America, chili peppers were introduced to Asia in the 1500s and have been a cornerstone of cuisines in both those parts of the world ever since. In the West, the heat of chili peppers is measured using the Scoville Organoleptic Test, named after Wilbur Scoville, the chemist who devised it in the early 1900s. It sounds very fancy and technical but, in fact, the Scoville method is a subjective process involving subjects who sip diluted solutions of ground chilis and sugar water. In other words, the Scoville Method isn't much more scientific than the Pepsi Challenge®. There are now more scientific ways of measuring chili heat, but the Scoville method is still the one mostly used by the food industry.

The fiery goodness of chili peppers comes from capsaicin, which has been found to inhibit substance P, associated with the inflammatory process. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Researchers are looking at capsaicin as a treatment for arthritis, psoriasis, and diabetic neuropathy. It seems counterintuitive that chili peppers would inhibit the inflammatory process, since handling them in the kitchen can irritate your fingers, and too many of them in the salsa can make your head feel like it's on fire, but there you have it.

Asian countries don't use the Scoville method; instead, they rely on the general rule of thumb that the smaller a chili is, the hotter it is. Again, not so much with the science, but it makes sense when you consider this: the hottest part of a chili pepper actually is not the seeds, but the white membrane where the seed attaches inside the pepper. Larger peppers have proportionately less of this membrane than smaller ones, so they are generally milder. We probably all think the seeds pack the punch in hot peppers because they sit in such close proximity to the membrane and absorb its heat, and then they often remain whole in pepper sauces and condiments.

Some veteran travelers to countries where the freshness of food can be questionable make it a point to eat food as spicy as they possibly can—that spice invariably coming from fresh or dried chilis—in order to ward off illness and boost immunity. Chili peppers have lots of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C, and they kill bacteria you may have ingested.

The capsaicin in chili peppers is also a thermogenic: it causes heat production and heat production burns calories. Even sweet red peppers increase the body's heat production for several minutes after they are consumed. Certainly there are more efficient ways to lose weight than stuffing your face with hot chili peppers! But isn't it nice to know that adding more salsa might help you burn that burrito off slightly faster?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

USA Today Bestseller

In a roundabout way, I can be found on the USA Today Bestseller list today. It's actually Linda Lael Miller who's up there, as THERE AND NOW has made the list debuting at number 85.

But since Marriage at Circle M is included as a bonus book, my name is on the cover in small letters. :-)

It's particularly exciting for me as it means I'm hopefully reaching a whole bunch of new readers. There's also a sneak peek of my May release, THE LAST REAL COWBOY in the back - and a coupon for buying The Last Real Cowboy when it releases in May.

In other news, I think I'm starting to like my book much better, now that I've made some changes. In the last few days I've reworked about 130 pages, with another 110 drafted and needing fixing but not as much as the front end needed.

And now....Happy Easter. We're trying some new recipes this weekend, so expect a full report after Easter dinner. Fingers crossed they turn out.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Books on Audio

I've just had confirmation that 2 of my books will be released on Audio later this year: Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle is showing a release date of July 23, and A Family For The Rugged Rancher is slotted for an October release.

I am SO excited. BEYOND excited. I've never had a book released in audio and as a consequence, even though I've written over 20 books now, my mom has never been able to read one because she's legally blind.

So this summer she will FINALLY be able to read one of my books.

My mom has a audio book "machine" from the CNIB - The Canadian Institute for the Blind. CNIB is fantastic about helping people with visual impairments. My mom still has some of her sight, and she lived alone for many years with some aids to help her with tasks - things like how to mark microwave buttons to know which was which and that sort of thing. She can't read, though - using her magnifier to get through a recipe is about as much as she can take without getting a very sick headache. Being an avid reader, that machine and the CNIB library has been a godsend to her for the past 16 - nearly 17 - years.

How cool is it that I'm going to be able to give her one of mine and she'll be able to hear someone reading MY words on it?

I just hope it meets her approval. :-)

Monday, April 02, 2012

March Book Roundup

I read a whopping four books in March. What can I say - it's been super hectic around here and averaging a book a week was pretty much a miracle.

First up was PUSH by Chalene Johnson - you can read my full review during one of my Fitness Friday posts a few weeks ago.

Then seeing as the Hunger Games movie release was coming soon, I gobbled up CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY. I loved Catching Fire. It was such a page turner, full of action and I finally got the allure of Peeta. In The Hunger Games I felt Gale was the stronger male character and Katniss was always looking after Peeta, but in Catching Fire I thought Peeta really came into his own, looking after Katniss and just in his own very special way. This was carried into Mockingjay, with several people realizing Peeta's importance. But Mockingjay was probably my least favourite of the books. I was still pulled along but if I had to pick one word to describe it, it is BLEAK. I knew what had to come and I knew it wasn't going to be pretty, but Collins REALLY put her characters through the wringer.

The one thing that confuses me is that I keep hearing that people don't want to read it because it doesn't have a happy ending. I thought it did. Maybe it was a hard-fought victory, and no one comes through without scars, but there is still a happy - or at least satsifying - ending. This is one series that I truly believe lived up to all the hype and then some. We're going to the movie this weekend and I can't wait.

And then the last book I read was AFTER THE KISS by Suzanne Enoch, another in the Notorious Gentlemen series. I have Always a Scoundrel waiting on my desk to read next. I had a harder time getting into AFTER THE KISS than I did in Before the Scandal but once I got to about the 1/2 way mark it really picked up. I really enjoy Enoch's writing and spunky heroines and unconventional heroes.

I'm also part way through THE HELP and finding it a slow read. Good, but slow.

What are you reading?