Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sarah Morgan


I first met Sarah last year in New York when she was a RITA finalist. And now she's shortlisted again! Clearly she's doing a lot of things right. And despite only having met her ever so briefly, I can definitely say that Sarah has an energy about her that is just fabulous.

So here she is today  - chatting about everything she's looking forward to this summer. And may I just say Sarah - I agree wholeheartedly!

Hi Donna, thanks for inviting me here to your RITA finalists’ party! As the weather heats up (finally!) I thought I’d talk about the things I’m looking forward to this summer…..



1.      No school! Summer gives my family a break from early mornings, school runs and homework. Instead we’ll be chilling out and spending time together without constantly watching the clock.

2.      Sunshine. Here in the UK we had the wettest April on record so now that the sun is finally shining all I want to do is lie on my back in the grass and feel the sun on my face.

3.      Cycling. I love my mountain bike and cycling is a perfect way to get fit and enjoy the countryside after being stuck indoors all winter.

4.      Picnics. There is nothing better than food eaten outdoors so I’ll be packing up chicken wings, strawberries and homemade lemonade and heading to the nearest lake or forest to dine al fresco (no doubt in the company of all the lovely insects that are currently lying in wait).

5.      Seeing friends. Summer is a perfect time to slow down and catch up with people you haven’t seen for a while. I’m looking forward to too much talking and lots of laughter.

6.      Reading. All right, I agree this isn’t exclusively a summer activity but because everything is less frantic in the summer, I have more time to read. And I can read outdoors in the sun.

7.      Going to the beach. No summer would be complete without a trip to the beach. My favorite beaches in the UK are in Cornwall – the coastline is stunning (see my photograph!).

8.      RWA in California! That has to be right there at the top of the most exciting things I’m going to be doing this summer and not just because, like Donna, I have a RITA nomination (yay, Donna, we’ll meet for a drink in the bar and a dance at the Harlequin party!) but because I can’t wait to see old friends and make new ones. If you’re there too, I hope you’ll say hello!



So those are the things I’m looking forward to this summer. What about you? What are you looking forward to?



Love Sarah
xx

Psst - you can also check out her website at www.sarahmorgan.com !

Monday, May 28, 2012

Nothing makes me happier than saving money

So the big news for me today is that I finally bought my plane tickets for Anaheim. I discovered a seat sale that saved me a couple hundred bucks - which is enough to pay for the extra night I'll be there. Going the day earlier means I can also fly into Orange County airport, which will also save me a bundle on cab fare.  Those two things mean that the extra day isn't really going to cost me anything extra at all - except another day away from the family.

The weekend was good and today I was ready to hit word count with a vengeance and boy did I! Over 4600 words today! Last week I'd done a jump cut to chapter four but this morning I realized that I needed to insert a few scenes and I ended up writing a whole NEW chapter four as well as a good portion of five. Go me! If I have a good writing week this week, it'll put me ahead of schedule on this book. Which is a good thing because I have edits on my last First Responders novella that could arrive any time in the next 2 months, as well as galleys for Sleigh Ride With The Rancher that I expect any day - and revisions on the Big Project from my agent in there too. The more I have done now, the less I'll be panicking towards the end of June.

In the meantime, I'm shifting gears into mom duties which include feeding the masses dinner in a few hours as well as some chauffeur duties.

Make sure you pop by on Wednesday too - there's another RITA finalist dropping by to say hi!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Writing through a crisis...

I'm in the midst of making sauce for homemade lasagna (yum!) but wanted to pass on a few links.

Today I'm at Fresh Fiction talking about writing The Rebel Rancher during a difficult time in our family. You can win a copy of The Rebel Rancher, too.

And yesterday was my monthly round up at The Pink Heart Society where I chat about taking time to breathe and refill the well to avoid burnout.

Have a great Saturday! Hope you all get some precious downtime this weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

And the prize goes to.....

Like the title? Considering the books up for grabs are nominated for the RITA, I thought it was appropriate. LOL

So drum roll please....the prize goes to......

FELICIA!

Felicia, I left you a note in the comments of Christine's post on how to get in touch with me. Once I have your info I'll pass it along to her and she'll get your books in the mail.

Thanks again to Christine for joining me this week!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Christine Rimmer

One of the things I'm trying to do over the next several weeks is give you a chance to meet the RITA finalists in the Short Contemporary Category. :-) It's an awe-inspiring list and I'm pleased as punch to introduce my first RITA guest to the blog today - DOUBLE finalist Christine Rimmer.

And you're going to want to read on, because there are books up for grabs...


Kids Say the Darnedest Things…and You Can Win!


--by Christine Rimmer

Hi everyone.  So great to be here on the fabulous Donna’s blog!

And as far as kids saying the darnedest things…

They do, they do.  Art Linkletter knew it, back in the ‘50s.   He had a “Kids Say the Darndest Things” segment of his daily show, Art Linkletter’s House Party.  And Bill Cosby had a whole show dedicated to the cute things kids will say back at the turn of the Millennium.

My own kids?  A total laugh-riot.  What I love about what kids will say is the way they will nail what’s really going on.  They’re so literal, and a whole lot smarter than grownups often realize.

When older son was very small—this was before I became his stepmom—DH and older son and the rest of the family went on a trip to San Francisco.  They stayed at a nice hotel.  Older son, seven or so, was entranced by the upscale amenities: the high, frescoed ceilings, the dramatic light fixtures, the fruit basket in the sitting room of their suite, the chocolates on the pillow.  When DH tucked him into bed, he snuggled down with a wide grin.  “Dad. This place is ‘spensive.”  When DH said yes, it was, he beamed wider.  “Look at us,” he declared.  “Aren’t we fancy cows!?”  Thus, in our family, whenever anyone gets an overblown idea of himself, we say, “Well, aren’t you a fancy cow?”

Once, when younger son was small, he and I were in the car together.  His carseat was in back, but we were waiting for DH and older son to accomplish some task long forgotten.  I let younger son get up in front to listen to the radio with me.  I believe I was playing something by Jimi Hendrix.  For a while, he rocked out, bouncing in the seat, snapping his fingers.  Then, out of nowhere, he reached out and turned off the radio.  He sat back in the seat and folded his little hands in his lap.  “Mom.  Let’s have a little piece of quiet.”

Sometimes kids say the hardest things.  In my books, the children often play important roles.  In a book I wrote a few years back, Having Tanner Bravo’s Baby, the hero’s niece, DeDe, who never knew her dad until she was nine, cries, “My dad came back and it ruined my life!”

And when DH and I first got together, younger son was 18 months old, walking—and talking nonstop.  In fact, the kid in the sunglasses?  That would be younger son at about a year old.  He loved those glasses.  They were Harlequin glasses, given to each and every lucky author at a fabulous Harlequin party way back when.

And where was I?  Ah, yes.  Younger son’s clever remarks.  Once when I took him over to DH’s for an evening, DH knelt when were leaving and said to younger son, “Come back soon. And bring your mom.”  Younger son’s eyes got wide as dinner plates. “Oh, no.  She’s much too heavy.  I could never carry her.”

I could tell you a thousand more brilliant and insightful things uttered by the amazing children I have known.  But I’m curious.  What about you?

Any great quotes from kids you have known?  Share, share!

Oh.  And did I mention a prize?  I’m thinking the two books of mine that made the RITA finals this year: Donovan’s Child and A Bravo Homecoming.  Leave a comment for a chance to win both books, signed by yours truly.  And thanks for stopping in!  Come visit me any time at www.christinerimmer.com




Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sorry for radio silence...

Sorry the blog has been so quiet! Last week was crazy but the good news is I finally sent my single title manuscript and proposal to my agent. It's exciting - I've wanted to do this for a very long time - but also terrifying because I don't want it to suck. Currently I have another book to finish so I can't angst about it too much. What will be will be.

THEN we had a gorgeous long weekend. I mean seriously gorgeous - temps in the 20's (celcius of course) and brilliant sunshine. We mowed grass, weeded, planted raspberries and strawberries and hung hanging baskets and did up an herb planter, 2 urns for the front step and deck planters for the back deck. Our pool is nearly ready for the new season, and I sanded and spray painted the fire pit with high temp paint. I also read a book, watched a movie with the girls, sat on the deck and barbequed.

Now it's raining which is lovely as the dh fertilized the lawn last night. And I'm getting down to work. I have a few blog posts to write, used books to deliver to the school for their spring fundraiser, some word count, and a massive and shocking amount of filing to do.

So I'll leave you for now. But be sure to come back tomorrow as I have a very special guest appearing on the blog!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

More Than Words


The nomination phase for the Harlequin More Than Words Award is now open. Harlequin is committed to honoring women for their good works, celebrating their accomplishments and supporting causes that are meaningful to them.


Currently, we are soliciting inspiring stories of women who have made extraordinary contributions to their communities.  Five finalists, selected by the Harlequin employee committee, will be up for a public vote on October 18th, 2012. The three recipients with the highest number of votes will be awarded the 2013 Harlequin More Than Words award, and the announcement will take place in January 2013. Harlequin will also make a donation of $15,000 to each of their causes. Their stories will be the inspiration for fictional short stories written by our Harlequin authors and distributed for free as eBooks—all with the aim of inspiring readers to turn awareness into action by encouraging them to become engaged and make a difference.

The nomination form is due before July 6th, 2012. For more information, visit

PS Did you know that Carly Phillips's novella contribution to the 2011 MORE THAN WORDS anthology is nominated for a RITA Award?



Monday, May 14, 2012

Refilling the well

First up - a few links to see where I am around the web. Today is Male on Monday day at The Pink Heart Society and I'm there with some visual treats in the form of the heroes from my Cadence Creek Cowboys series!

You can also get a glimpse of the genesis of THE LAST REAL COWBOY on the Harlequin Romance Author site.

And finally-  Nas Dean asked me to share what it was like to be a RITA finalist at Romance Book Paradise.

Ok - so back to the title of today's blog which is refilling the well. This past weekend my husband and I took off for a weekend away - something we've never done. Nearly 2 years ago we zipped off to a bed and breakfast for a single night for our 15th anniversary, but we've never gone AWAY away. My awesome niece and her husband came to stay with the kids and pets and on Friday afternoon the mister and I hopped on a plane and jetted off to Niagara Falls!

Neither of us had ever been. It was lovely - the falls are magnificent and the weather was gorgeous. Seasonally the area is a few weeks ahead of us, so the grass is green, the leaves are fully out and the flowers are blooming. It was like summer (in fact the mister wore shorts and a golf shirt and I wore capris and a top and we both got a teensy bit too much sun on our faces)! While the city is very touristy and crowded, the actual falls area is beautiful. Queen Victoria park is across from the walkway and since we ventured out in the morning, there wasn't much traffic and the birds were singing. We got some pictures, wandered from the top of Horseshoe Falls down to catch the Maid of the Mist boat by the US falls. When we were making our way to the boat I couldn't help think of the pictures of Diana with Will and Harry doing this very same tour.


The boat ride is SO worth the $20. You do get very wet. My hair looked like I'd just got out of the shower. Even with the huge ponchos on, you get wet spots (my jacket sleeves were soaked). The views are great and even the husband - who can be a bit curmudgeonly - loved it. :-)

After that we walked back up through Clifton Hill to the hotel. Clifton Hill is...interesting. It reminded me a bit of Times Square in that it is touristy and with tons of souvenir shops. There are haunted houses, Ripley's Believe it or Not, the Guinness Book of Records thing...in Times Square those would be theatres but the overall impression was similar though of course on a smaller scale. A little too bright and noisy for me.

Then we hopped into our rental car and drove out to Niagara on the Lake. Seriously, this is possibly the most beautiful drive I've ever been on. Gorgeous trees and flowers and stately houses. Signs for wineries EVERYWHERE. We went right into the town and had lunch at a little bistro and then drove to Peller Estates for a wine tour and tasting. After that we went to a smaller winery for more tasting and purshasing (I did the tasting, the dh did the driving, he's good like that).  On the way back we stopped by the Centennial Lilac Garden - gorgeous.

After the wine, sun, and wind, we ended up having a nap before going to supper. After supper we walked back to Clifton Hill and took a ride on the SkyWheel, which is sort of like the London Eye only smaller. It was fun, and though it had clouded over the pics aren't bad. My fave might be this one, because as my friend Jenna says, I got photobombed by a t-rex. The mister said it looks like he's getting ready to eat my head.

We took a leisurely drive back to Hamilton in the morning to catch our flight home, and when we got here supper was ready and the girls had made a delicious cake for Mother's Day!

It was good to refill the well. And nice for the two of us to finally get away. And it's equally nice to be home where we belong. :-)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

IN THE LINE OF DUTY


I just finished going over the proofs for IN THE LINE OF DUTY, and now I can share the cover with you!

I think the cover is great. It has great continuity with the first cover in the series, OFF THE CLOCK. I have really enjoyed working on this story again - love how I got to set it in my home province of Nova Scotia.

It'll be out in e-book on August 28th.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Learning to Fly Again, and Cake.

Hey all - just popping in to share where you can find me this week.

Yesterday I blogged at Petticoats and Pistols about Learning to Fly Again - and writing my latest stories with a women's shelter at the fore.

Today is all about cake - mainly the cake I made Sunday night and which is now already gone. When I was growing up my mom used to make Daffodil Cake and when the fabulous Susan Mallery asked if I'd care to share a recipe on her blog this week, I thought what could be more springy? Note though that I bought the daisies that I decorated with because I'm not quite that talented when it comes to making flowers. And I would have bought daffodils if they'd had any, but they didn't, so daisies it is. Anyway, you can check out the recipe and pictures at Susan Mallery Cooks.  One of the neat things about this recipe is that there is no milk or butter in it. But it is very eggy. :-)

And tomorrow I will be at Romance Book Haven - this is the link to the site as I don't have the actual post link yet.

And in other good news, I heard on Sunday that HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART has won the Colorado Award of Excellence. Yay!
The fog has burned off so I'm off to hang out clothes and then cross some stuff off my to-do list!

Monday, May 07, 2012

May Contest

I have a contest running this month that I forgot to announce on the first - blame release day and starting a new book for my forgetfulness! But there's still scads of time to get your entry in.


Just send me an e-mail (please use the link) and put Ebook Contest in the subject line. That's it. At the end of the month I'll give away a kindle edition of THE GREATEST GIFT: A MOTHER'S DAY COLLECTION which features stories by me, fellow RITA finalist Tanya Michaels, Katherine Garbera and Kathleen O'Brien.

Good luck!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Fitness Friday: Adjust when you need to

Today's Fitness Friday post is about making adjustments in your workout when something just isn't working.

I have mentioned before that P90X is my "soul-mate" workout. I love it. But lately I've had trouble being consistent. The problem is time. My work day is short, so taking an hour to an hour and a half in the morning really cuts into the hours I have available for work. I find it increasingly hard to take that time late in the afternoon like I used to, because this year it seems kids are busier than ever and that's when I'm doing the most chauffeuring around - and usually running errands like going to the post office and grocery store at the same time (so as to not cut into my writing time). That block of time is really difficult. The time that was freeing up most for me was after 8:30 at night. Which meant that I was finishing a workout at 9:30 or 10, and then staying up until 11.

And that meant there were days that I simply ended up skipping workouts, which is NOT GOOD.

I also kind of missed working out with my husband.

Something had to give.

What we've done is, for the time being, gone back to doing Power 90 at 4:30 - I'm usually home from carting kids around by then and he's home from work. This workout is 45 minutes max, and that extra 15-30 minutes makes a HUGE difference. It's the difference between working out before having to make supper or doing it much later (with the potential of skipping). I haven't missed a single day and now after dinner we quite often take the dog for a walk. I love knowing that when we get back I have a little tidying to do but otherwise I can decompress and enjoy my evening.

As far as the workout goes, I am surprisingly stiff, which tells me that even with the "muscle confusion" principle in P90X, you still do get accustomed to doing the same moves and that changing it up can be GOOD! Am I finding Power 90 challenging? Not necessarily, but I am sweating a lot, I often do a faster pace than Tony does in some of the cardio, and I'm really working on form like going super deep into lunges and squats. I'm also probably a bit stiff because I HAVEN'T MISSED A DAY since we started.

That's the big key for me here. I'm hoping that on the weekends when time isn't so pressed, I'll still do a couple of my favourite P90X workouts for an extra burn. Like KenPo, Plyo, Fountain of Youth yoga, or even stretch to keep things long and limber.

It's okay to mix it up and adjust things as your life changes. What worked last year might not work so well this year. Heck, maybe we'll do Power 90 until school is out and then P90X in the summer when schedules are looser. If you're finding it increasingly difficult to find time or you're plateauing, try something different, like a different program, a different time of day, whatever. Because the goal is to keep going, and sometimes a simple adjustment can make all the difference.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

An embarrassment of riches

I got a call from Detroit last night. My first thought when my friend Patti said she had news was that she'd sold a manuscript she's been waiting on for a long time. My heart gave a little jump as I asked. But that wasn't the news (and I'll confess I was a little disappointed! I've been keeping my fingers crossed for a long time!). Turns out it was good news for me instead.

HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART is also a Booksellers' Best Award finalist.

I am so blown away by the response this book has had on the contest circuit this year - a Reviewer's Choice award and four nominations. I always enter about a half dozen contests, and each year I hope that somehow, between the various contests and entries, I end up making a shortlist. I think contests are a great way to introduce readers, booksellers and peers to your books who maybe haven't tried them before, and if they like them you may gain a new reader. If they really like them, they might spread the word. And if you're fortunate enough to shortlist - wonderful! It's a fantastic thing!

But this year...this book...I'm just overwhelmed. And obviously pleased.

I've been asked a few times why I think THIS particular book has stood out for me. I truly don't know, except that I was willing to take a few emotional risks with this story and maybe those risks have resonated with judges. I do know that I loved Clay and Meg a lot, and hopefully that shone through.

Whatever the reason, I'm thankful and feeling very, very blessed. And a big thank you to all those readers who have taken the time to judge the various contests this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Hope to see lots of you in California.

Donna xx

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sugar and Spice

I started a new book today. Opened up a fresh new document, double spaced it, and typed the words CHAPTER ONE.

I've got a very sweet but slightly uptight cupcake baker as a heroine. Her name is Avery Spencer and she's also legal guardian to her sister's infant daughter. As the story starts, she goes to tell the baby's father that, well, that he is a father!

Callum Shepard is an ex-soldier who has become a bit of a recluse. He's bought a small farm just southwest of Cadence Creek and for the most part he just wants to be left alone. He's gruff and a bit rude and more than a little cynical. He doesn't care much about keeping house or getting hair cuts at the moment. And he's not sure he believes that the baby is his.

And I added a picture because, well, can you really get too much of Anson Mount shirtless in Hell On Wheels? (note: he's going to be a little more clean cut by the end of the story. More's the pity).

Because the characters seem so incredible opposite to each other, I jokingly referred to this story on facebook the other day as "Sweet and Sour" but a reader suggested "Sugar and Spice" and I love that. I know it's not the kind of title that will stay through publication, but it certainly matches the cupcake idea (and my daughter has been coming up with all sorts of ideas for cupcakes that are sure to sabotage any weight loss efforts). And considering the baby is a sweet little girl named Nell, of course she's made of what all little girls are made of: sugar and spice and everything nice.

Besides, Avery is sweet but she's no pushover (the spicy part). So as a working title it actually suits very well.

I've already written most of the first chapter and I've had great fun with it. It's going to be fun seeing both of them grow and change throughout this story.

And the cupcakes are going to be good, too.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Double (kind of triple!) Release Day!

Today is a big day - it marks the release of 2 new stories, and the release of an older story in a new format.

First of all, the first book in my Cadence Creek Cowboys duet, THE LAST REAL COWBOY, is officially on sale! You can read a blurb on my site, pick it up at eharlequin, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, or, well, wherever you buy your books. And just as a note: you can also order the next in the duet (THE REBEL RANCHER) if you get it from eharlequin - because they put the books up for sale a month early.





Then - a Digital Only anthology releases today just in time for Mother's Day! THE GREATEST GIFT: A MOTHER'S DAY COLLECTION from Harlequin is out in e-book and has my story SECOND-CHANCE MOTHER in it. Like my duet, it also takes place in Cadence Creek. :-) My fellow RITA finalist pal Tanya Michaels is also in it, so check it out. Here are links to the book on eharlequin and Amazon and Barnes and Noble for Nook.



And my very first audio book is available through Whole Story Audio beginning today. :-) Proud Rancher, Precious Bundle can be found on the Whole Story site and on Audible.com.

To help me celebrate all this good news, pop on over to Taryn Blackthorne's Blog. She did a fun interview with me a while back and she's helping me launch these books in style.