Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review - Destiny's Captive, Kate Lyon

Last night I finished reading a book I got last spring while at the MERWA conference. I don't know why I didn't read it earlier! Ms. Lyons has the knack of combining suspense, romance and paranormal elements in a pleasing cocktail. It was an easy read that went down smoothly and left a pleasing aftertaste. So yeah, I'm thirsty. What of it?

I think this is actually the third book in a series, but still stood on it's own rather well. There were references to other stories but they only served to wet my desire to read them as well. The story is about a man who has lived with the Comanche Indians since he was a young boy, who survived a horrific attack in which his entire family, friends and neighbors were killed. He decides it's time to discover the truth about the attack and returns to where it happened. There he finds a man whose suspicious actions raise red flags all over the place, especially when an attempt is made on his life when he leaves after a short visit. The man's daughter finds the white warrior on death's door and with the help of some friends manages to save his life. The sexual tension through the story is great and the twists and turns of the plot keep you guessing as you read. Just when you think you've figured out how the story is going to go it changes direction.

I highly recommend this entertaining and enjoyable read. Be sure you don't have much to do when you start the book because you may find yourself forgetting anything but the story. The best kind of reading, the kind that makes you lose yourself in the book.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Feeding the Birds

This past spring my parakeet 'Petey' died after living with me for 14 years. He was a beautiful blue and I've had him since he was 2 months old. When the weather started to get cooler I thought about all the birds that don't have someone to care for them and decided to start feeding the birds. I've considered starting in the past, but something always stopped me. So I bought a couple of inexpensive feeders and placed a nice flat board on the tree beside my deck, filled them with bird feed and waited for them to show up.

The website I had gone to for guidance said it could take up to a week for the birds to find the new feeder. They found mine in about 4 hours. I attribute that to the fact that my next door neighbor, who used to feed the birds, had moved over the summer.
When the weather started to get colder again the birds started hunting for a their old feeders and found them, just in a different spot.

Early on I even had a couple of hummingbirds looking for food, but I didn't get a feeder for them because I knew they wouldn't be sticking around for the winter. The Chickadees were the first to really flock to the feeder, followed by Nuthatches and little black and white woodpeckers and even a couple of Cardinals. Then it was discovered by an industrious little red squirrel who also found a warm place to live under the hot tub and has moved right in for the winter. Not that I blame him. The bluejays discovered me and have decided that they liked my feeder so I'll have anywhere from two to ten bluejays at a time surrounding the feeder. But when the gray squirrels come they clean me out. Luckily I have a couple of dogs to discourage them.

The feeder creates an interesting drama all of it's own. My toy poodle has taken up the charge to guard against gray squirrel invasions and given the chance chases them off with enthusiastic barks as he bounds across the lawn. Those gray squirrels run every time, despite the fence that he can't get through surrounding the bird feeder. The really funny part is that the red squirrel refuses to be chased away from his food. He simply climbs the tree and hides, the dog never the wiser. If I needed more proof that he considers this his kitchen, I got it today when I observed him chasing the bluejays off.

The bluejays perch all around on the tree and take turns coming down to the feeder, sometimes two or three at a time. This morning I watched with some amusement as the red squirrel chased the bluejays off their respective branches. They didn't go far but it was funny to see his frustration as he tried to discourage them. It almost looked like a game of tag.
Bluejays are not easily discouraged.

After some observation I think the best squirrel deterrent, for gray squirrels as the red seems to know the dog can't get him, is to leave the husky dog outside sleeping on the deck. They observe from a tree away but won't come any closer until he's been inside for a while. It is discouraging to come home after work and find the feeders on the ground with little chew marks around the openings and seed gone completely.

Feeding the birds has quickly turned into a passion. All the pictures on this post are from my bird feeder. We've had one freak snowstorm so far but the weather has turned very cold and more snow is on it's way. I know that while it might not be hard to find food right now, that will change when the snow comes. It's an inexpensive way to help the small birds and animals in my area and has given me some satisfaction to see their enjoyment. I think Petey would approve.   

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fairy Tale Romance!

I have to admit that the story of Prince William and Kate Middleton is one that has my imagination stirring. I mean really, how often do you see a true royal romance? It's obvious from the way they look at each other and their easy manner together that they are truly in love and ready for marriage.

A sweet touch was using his mother's engagement ring to propose. I loved how Kate chose a dress for the formal announcement that complemented the ring. She obviously knows how much it meant to William. She may not have royal blood, but she has class and dignity. She will make a beautiful and dignified wife for William. In a way by making her part of the family William is honoring his mother's wishes by choosing a woman who is not royal. I'm sure Princess Diana wouldn't have wanted him to choose a woman simply because of who her family was. He chose a woman he loves, and has taken the time to have a lasting relationship with before taking the leap of marriage. It's hard not to admire that. He claims to have hopefully learned from the mistakes of his parents and so far it looks like he has. Princess Diana would be so proud.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lazy Summer

What can I say? It's been a lazy summer. I spent the summer with my daughter, going to birthday parties and the beach. That's her, pictured on the left picking wildflowers in our yard. And I found out that we will be adding to our family sometime in February. So I have two new arrivals due next spring! My book and my baby.

I've been working (and I use the term loosely here) on my next book but distractions have kept me off course. My goal is to finish it before the end of the year so I can spend the spring concentrating on the new arrivals. I've also just been informed of a change in my editor. That made me a little nervous because I want my editor to love my book as much as I do. She has said that she likes what she's seen so far and I will hear more when she's finished reading it. Since I'm not scheduled to be edited until late December or January I guess I shouldn't be too worried if she doesn't get to me right away.

I will say that this baby is kicking my butt and my energy has been severely lacking for the past few months. I've finally started to get a bit back but then I went back to work at a "real" job. That has not done my energy levels any good at all! I have managed to read a few books over the summer but have been too lazy to post my reviews. I promise to get those up soon. Happy reading everyone!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jumping for Joy!

A few weeks ago I blogged about the Maine RWA retreat in Portland. What I didn't reveal then was that I had met with Cynthia Brayden-Thomas, and editor with Lyrical Press, to pitch her my book "Past Destinies". She requested a full manuscript and 2 page synopsis, which I was happy to provide. 

A couple of weeks ago she emailed to ask if I wanted to write for Lyrical Press! I am so excited to say that I said YES and am currently working to get "Past Destinies" ready for release, if all goes well for May 2011. So that's the news - I SOLD my book! Happy Dancing shall now commence! 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Book Review: "The Next Best Thing" by Kristen Higgins

When I attended the Connecticut RWA Fiction Fest about a month ago I had the pleasure of meeting Kristan Higgans, attending a workshop she gave and getting a signed copy of her book,"the next best thing." I loved it from start to finish. Thank you Kristan for agreeing to let me review your book on my blog.

Spoiler alert for those who haven't yet read it! Don't read the rest of this post if you don't want to spoil the book!

Kristan has a style of writing that is funny and endearing. She makes you fall in love with her characters from the first page. I loved her descriptions of the bakery and the Black Widows who owned it. As a secondary character her quirky sister who worries about her husband dying when he's as healthy as a horse simply because men die young in their family makes you both laugh and cry.

In the end when you find out that hero Ethan has actually been in love with our heroine before she met and married the husband she lost it makes you melt. And the best hook from the start of the book? "I'm ready to start dating again . . . . so I guess we should stop sleeping together." Ahem. Quite the hook Kristan!!

Reading this book had me so distracted I found myself standing in the kitchen, leaning over the counter reading when I should have been a. cooking dinner, b. washing dishes, and c. whatever else I was supposed to be doing that I forgot about because I was too into the story to notice my surroundings until I realized I was STANDING IN THE KITCHEN reading! Thats when you know the story's good. I hope you like this book as much as I did. Take it from me this book is "The next best thing."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Fabulous Time Was Had By All

Yesterday I attended the 4th Annual Maine Chapter of RWA Writers' Retreat. It was an unexpected delight. I suppose by now I should expect to get along so well with fellow writers and realize that considering how much we all have in common there are really no strangers and such conferences, there are only unmet friends. I was a late entry to the retreat and truly knew no one when I arrived. When I left it was quite the opposite.

Author Terry McLaughlin spoke first about first kiss scenes and building the moment. She had several clips from movies to illustrate her point and I must say they did the job well. She talked about creating imagery  for your reader to increase the suspense of that first kiss and how much of an impact that can have on your story. After showing a short clip from  Woody Allen film "Annie Hall" about how NOT to write a kiss scene, "Let's kiss now so we get it over with," she showed great examples from movies like "When Harry Met Sally" and "Baby Boom." Sometimes seeing is better then hearing. I must say Terry definately practices what she preaches as shown from this exerpt from her book "A Small Town Temptation" which can be read here. 

She also spoke about writing love scenes confidently and without blushing. Personally I've always been one to jump right into those types of scenes with both feet. I often end up going back to it though wondering if I've written enough or too much. My mother, being rather old fashioned, questions the need for such scenes at all. Over all I feel that Terry gave a wonderful workshop with a lot of valuable information for me as a writer.

Our next presenter was Author Joyce Lamb.  She was witty and entertaining as she spoke about mixing paranormal with other genres in romance. She drew a handy chart listing different types of romance genres and then listed different types of paranormal elements and showed us that we could mix/match pretty much anything and still make it work. It was a great visual.

I loved her 'recipe' for blending paranormal. Deciding how much to add, if you want paranormal to be your 'main' ingredient or another element and using paranormal elements to enhance your plot. Then she explained different ideas of how to pitch your story with the paranormal elements to an agent or editor. Since figuring out how to explain my story is a challenge for me this was particularly helpful.
You can find more information about Joyce and her books here.

After a delicious lunch we all met back for a brainstorming session which if you've never had the privilege of participating in you've definitely missed out. Those of us who were having difficulties with parts of our current stories in progress told the rest of the room the basics of the story and then everyone threw around ideas to help get those creative juices flowing. It was wonderful to pick all those talented brains and easily one of my favorite moments of the Retreat.

Terry spoke again about using your voice and writing from your point of view, which again was very valuable information. She went so far as to tell us that our 'voice' as a writer is what will make or break us in our career and to never try to write a 'voice' that wasn't our own because it would never be natural and then instead of coming easily, writing would be a chore. We watched a short skit and then were asked to write about the scene in 5 minutes. Some wrote strict dialog, some combined dialog with what they saw and some of us set up the scene first. She said that your first instinct was your 'voice' and to recognize and use it well.

When the official business of the conference was over we all retreated to the lobby of the hotel to chat since they were using the room for a wedding later that evening. Getting to know the other members of the Maine Chapter of RWA as well as visiting with the speakers and other authors who had attended was great fun. By the time we all went out to dinner at the Macaroni Grill we were like old friends. We continued our conversation of great food and were even treated to an impromptu Italian Opera performance by one of  our waiters.

Thank you again to all the wonderful ladies who made this retreat possible.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hunky Hump Day!

Today my hunky inspiration is the very handsome and talented Hrithrik Roshan, one of Bollywoods top male actors. I've been watching him for about eight years now and he is an impressive actor, playing everything from an action star to a mentally challenged boy. The only complaint I've ever had about his movies was that they weren't in English - well that has changed with the release of his new movie, Kites. It was filmed in both Bollywood style and Hollywood style - meaning one version is in Hindi and the other in English! Also the Hindi version will have more singing and dancing, typical of Bollywood films. That's probably why I love them so. And Hrithrik can DANCE!! 

Aside from doing what he does, he has been an inspiration to me as a romance writer in depicting smokey scenes between my story lovers. When I'm not sure how to describe the male role I think of Hrithrik or watch one of his movies and I get inspired! I hope he inspires you too! Just because I think it's cool and I can't wait to see it, I've included the trailer for Kites here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Book Review: One Enchanted Evening by Lynn Kurland

As usual Lynn Kurland did not disappoint with her wonderful book 'One Enchanted Evening'. I picked it up yesterday at my local Walmart, almost drooling with glee when I saw it. There is something magical about the stories Lynn weaves through time. I love all her characters and reading another story about a character that was introduced to us in prior books makes the world shes created come alive. The more I read the more I crave. Okay well enough of my fawning, on to the story. 

Montgomery de Piaget is the youngest son of Rhys de Piaget, whose children seem to attract time traveling spouses. I've always loved Montgomery for his innocent belief in fairies and when he sees one through a time gate as a teenager, somewhere down deep his belief is verified. Now he is all grown up and ready to man the Keep his father left him. Trouble is there are a bunch of nasty cousins who don't want to leave and would rather kill him then give up their unkept home. 

Enter Pippa Alexander a fashion designer whose tastes runs mid-evil. She's designed costumes for a fairy themed party at her sister's castle in England. Sometime during the party she falls into the moat and instead of the clear water it had been when she fell it is a cesspool of unmentionable nastiness. And of course Montgomery pulls her out. 

While the story does have a few tried and true themes, like Pippa thinking that he's engaged to someone else, the charm of the story overcomes that. I wasn't a big fan of her sister being lost in the past with her - that seemed a bit much to me and left a lot of questions about the sister that the book doesn't answer completely. 

As with all Lynn Kurland books I found myself reading when I should have been doing other things. Like working. All in all a most enjoyable read that was fun to read from beginning to end. I was disappointed when I got to the last page, not because the story wasn't finished but because there are more stories waiting to be told. Thank you Lynn for another jewel to put in my book treasury.

Monday, May 10, 2010

'Researching' at Bar Harbor

My husband surprised me with a lovely trip to Bar Harbor this weekend for Mother's Day and my birthday which is today. We stayed at the beautiful Bar Harbor Inn which is located right on the ocean and our room had a small balcony that looked out over the water. The picture to the left was taken at low tide.

We enjoyed a leisurely romantic stroll down the shore path, a well maintained walking path that goes along the rocky shore above the ocean. Hence the name. The tide was out and the weather was a bit misty but we enjoyed our walk all the more since there was no one else on the path and it seemed we had the world to ourselves. The islands rising offshore in the mist were beautiful and the sounds of the ocean and seagulls was so relaxing. We felt like newlyweds!

While enjoying some pampering in the form of a manicure, I managed to dream up another book that takes place on the coast. (Okay who didn't see that coming?) I actually think it's a good story for the 'Destinies' series, giving Agatha yet another challenge so that will be the next book I work on. I may need to return to Bar Harbor for more research. (ahem) Do you think I can write off the cost of the manicure when I sell the book?

That evening we dined at the elegant Reading Room at the Bar Harbor Inn. The food was fabulous and the view spectacular. Our waiter was charming and very prompt. I decided to live a little and ordered a Blueberry Martini. Yum! I highly recommend it. It was served in a darling little martini glass with real blueberries. 
After a weekend such as this I know for sure I married the right man! Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Agent Requested to see more!!!!!

Okay the picture on the left isn't exactly a real book cover - yet - but I had to share the news. Today I spent a lovely day at the CTRWA Fiction Fest and somehow managed to finally get my pitch right! The agent I pitched to asked for 50-60 pages and loves the concept and story of my book Past Destinies. I hope she loves it as much as I do when she actually gets a chance to read the book.

I was such a dork at the conference. I actually had printed out synopsis & writing samples from the three books that I think could go together in a series or stand alone. As it was I still have all nine! Apparently agents and editors today prefer emailed submissions, especially when they have limited luggage space. I'm glad I brought them anyway though because at least I was prepared for anything.

I was horribly proactive, shocking even myself, when I asked the morning speaker (who happened to be an editor) if she was bored and wanted something to do. I was only half joking, but imagine my shock and pleasure when she said she'd love to look at my synopsis and she took it with her and said she'd get back to me later. I expected perhaps an email in 6 months but again surprise, she handed it too me with even some of my story edited and commented on. I guess it never hurts to ask and sometimes pays off. Thank you Sandy.

All in all I'd do it over again, allergy headache and all. It was wonderful making so many new friends and just being in a group of people who understood what it was like to have conversations with or be led around by characters in your books. Realizing I have finally found a group of people that I completely relate to and who relate to me was a wonderful thing. I suspected all along that I might be a writer but after my very first conference I know for sure that I am.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pulling my hair out!

As I'm getting ready for the conference this weekend I've been working on the synopsis for the three books I'm going to pitch while there. So I thought I'd post them here too and any comments/suggestions would be welcome! I've decided to put Destinies in the name of the three books. They can all stand alone or be part of a series using Agatha as the catalyst to bring them together. Past Destinies is the first book, both in the series and that I've finished. Then comes Unexpected Destinies and last is Forbidden Destinies. I'm going to add the synopsis and perhaps a chapter to hook you in as a link on this blog. 
Because I've been working so hard to get ready for this weekend I haven't had a chance to do any editing or critiquing for my CP's. Next week I start working for the 2010 Census but hopefully I'll get a chance to catch up somewhere! 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Great Big Thank You!

Yum! I'll take that package. 

Next weekend I'm planning to attend my very first Romance Writers of America's Fiction Fest in Connecticut. I'm really looking forward to meeting others who are as passionate about writing as I am. 

I've got three manuscripts ready to pitch and have a week left to polish them so they shine to impress. Its not easy to finish a book let alone feel like its ready to present to an agent or publisher. So I'd like to take a moment to say thank you to the ones who have really helped encourage my writing and who have read and re-read my manuscripts, helping me edit and find mistakes and inconsistencies that I missed. My lovely Critique Partners. Angela,Casse and Darcee. Thanks to you guys I feel more like a writer and less like a bumbling wannabe. When someone else falls in love with your characters and starts talking to you like they're real people and helping you decide their lives, maybe in a tiny way they are real. As a writer you introduce a character but the readers are the ones who actually give them life. Jane, Nick, Anne, Tom, Doug and Liz all thank you too! Now let's go sell this thing!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Contest Entry - News

I've received my first ever contest feedback. I entered the Great Beginnings Contest held by the Utah RWA Chapter. I'm so excited to say how happy I was with the kind comments and suggestions given by the judges, but I must say that what meant the most to me was the reader judge. She gave me the highest marks and said she really enjoyed the story!

So I've entered another contest, this time taking into account what I've learned. I hope to do better this time around. This contest is supposed to be about the darkest moment in your book. A fight between your main characters or something horrible that happens. I've got that covered! The question is will it be good enough to impress the judges? I hope they at least get kudos for originality because I don't believe I've ever heard of another romance novel that has the heroine putting her horse out of his misery. I think the scene really pulls you in and grabs you. Every time I read it I forget to edit because I get so caught up in the story, and I wrote it! I did manage to edit it and hope its good enough to place. Either way I'll just be happy to get the feedback on that difficult to write scene.

In other news I'm planning to attend the Connecticut Romance Writers of America Conference in a few weeks. I'm really looking forward to meeting people in the business of writing and publishing romance. My husband reminded me recently that I have just as much right to be there as anyone and that I'll be among my peers so I shouldn't be intimidated by them. The next couple of weeks are going to be busy while I polish up my finished manuscript and work on the synopsis. Ugh, I hate writing a synopsis! Trying to cram a whole book into a few paragraphs isn't easy. Wish me luck!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I'm officially a PRO

Aren't they beautiful? Congratulations to me! Earlier this month I joined Romance Writers of America. I feel honored to be a part of that great organization. It has helped so many aspiring authors like myself achieve credibility and helped jump start their careers. It's a many layered organization and one part is the PRO section. That is the part where unpublished authors who have submitted and been rejected by RWA approved publishing houses can go for a little more help moving toward being a published author. Since I've been honored with an official form rejection letter from Avon Publishing I am now PRO. I'll be happier when I can be PAN! That would be a published author.

I've finally put away my first book while I wait for my agent to figure out what she likes (or doesn't like) about it. Time to start working on the second book. It would be great if I remembered to post in my blog more then once a month! Now I need to figure out what conflict will make a great story and get back to work.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Springtime Wishes

I love flowers. The other day I couldn't resist a bouquet of tulips from the market. They were this shade of purple pictured on the left. Maybe it's because I'm a spring baby born in May but I love tulips and crocus'. Especially purple. Normally I wait for my husband to buy the flowers but he's been lacking in that department lately so I bought them for myself and every time I look at them I smile. My husband bought me roses two days later. I guess sometimes men need a strong hint!

I've been working on perfecting my pitch for my book. It's been rather frustrating since I can't seem to get the wording just right. Not to mention that I have nightmares now that my book is just not what people are looking for. By people I mean editors and publishers of course. It just isn't all that dark and dark paranormal seem to be what is selling right now. Or those brooding tortured heros.

I recently picked up the latest Johanna Lindsey book, "Captive Bride." I've enjoyed her writing in the past and figured she was a sure thing when it came to an enjoyable read. Quite honestly her book annoys me. I like the heroine, she's a strong independent female but I don't care that much for the hero. First he decides he wants her and proposes the night after meeting her. Then when she tells him no he has her brother shipped to Cairo a month early. She joins her brother and the first night there he kidnaps her and takes her to his desert tent. Then he pretty much forces her into sex that she doesn't want but can't help but enjoy. It makes her hate herself for liking it and him for touching her. I mean it goes on and on.

Now if you like that kind of hero, great. He sounds way too controlling and too much like my husband for me. I am so sick of men taking charge in my life. So I just want to smack the heroine for falling in love with him after all that. What's wrong with a hero who is understanding and loving and supports his woman while being strong? I hate these heroes who think they know what's best for the heroine and don't ask her, they tell her. I was reading another author's blog recently and in her 'about me' section she'd posted that one night after arguing with her husband she decided to write about the perfect man and that's how she became a romance author. That pretty much sums it up for me I guess. I have the controlling know it all hero at home. I want to write about another type of man.

So is there a market for the gentler man? I hope so! And I hope that writing paranormal doesn't mean I have to write another vampire book. God, aren't there enough of those? I don't mind reading them but I just can't get excited about writing one. The trouble is I'm not the one deciding who will publish my work. And I'm not the one who decides what type of book publishers are looking for right now. My only hope is to make my pitch interesting enough that someone will ask to see more. That is nerve wracking enough!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Just because your book is finished doesn't mean it's done!

I thought the hard part was over. Apparently it's just begun! Now that I've written my book I have to get it published. Who wouldn't want to grab my masterpiece and send me a check for $50,000? I'm sure they'll be lining up at my door and overwhelming my email any second now. any second now. any . . . . oh you mean I have to actually hunt them down? They don't just know I exist? (in case you didn't get it that was extreme sarcasm)

So I've officially received three rejection letters. One was directed to me personally, the others were those form letters that you know mean they hardly glanced at your work. They don't' know what they're missing. Not to fear, I have plenty of publishers to contact still.

I've decided to keep a writing blog for several reasons. First I wanted to show anyone who cared that I am serious about my craft and provide a way to get to know me better. It's simple so far, but it will do.

I'd like to introduce one of the main characters of my book, Past Destinies, pictured above. His name, quite aptly, is Black. My heroine had better things to do then think up a name for her prize stallion, but that doesn't mean he isn't important to the story. He is the reason the romantic leads meet and meet again. And he puts his life on the line to save the heroine. In some ways he is the hero of the story, but I'm getting ahead of myself!