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

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
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:

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...