I listen to the radio while I'm at the day job. Every day the radio station gives a trivia question where you can call in and win something. Friday's question was "What's the most annoying thing about Christmas shopping?"
Of course people called in and guessed standing in long lines, fighting the crowds, trying to find a parking spot, being unable to find an item listed in a sales ad, dealing with rude people, etc. The answer was being asked for your phone number and/or email address. Really? That's what a survey of people found most annoying?
Personally, there are two things I find equally annoying. One is trying to find a parking spot anywhere in any type of mall or plaza at this time of the year. Even the grocery store parking lot is a nightmare. What drives me absolutely crazy is when you're waiting with your turn signal on for a person to leave their spot and some "person" pulls through from the other side so, heaven forbid, they don't have to back out of a spot when they're done shopping.
The second thing that annoys me beyond words is how horrible people can be. This is supposed to be a joyous time of year yet some people are so outright rude, it ruins the mood of anyone they come in contact with. I was shopping in Target with my mother a few days ago and woman ran her cart into my heel. It wasn't just a bump, but a hard shove that caused me to stumble forward and that hurt so much, it still hurt to walk two days later. When I turned around to look at who had rammed their cart into me, a young woman glared at me and said, "You're in my way. Move." Not a word of apology or remorse. The worst part was the store wasn't very crowded and she could have easily gone around us. Needless to say that killed any Christmas spirit I might have been feeling that day.
Most everyone I know has some sort of holiday tradition they take part in every year. My holiday tradition is to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I missed it when it was broadcast on television this year. Actually, I think I was out Christmas shopping that evening. I have it on DVD so I wasn't too upset.
Christmas Eve is less than a week away and I still haven't had a chance to sit down and watch it. Along with all the daily life responsibilities, I have mounds of presents to wrap. (That's a subject for another post, maybe Monday's.) I still have baking to do, and yes, a tiny bit of shopping left. I'll have the last couple of gifts bought this weekend. I know what they are, I just need to get to the store and purchase them.
One thing is for certain -- It just doesn't seem like Christmas without a viewing of Rudolph. I'm determined to find the time to watch my favorite holiday cartoon even if I end up watching it late Christmas Eve.
Please welcome my guest, Romance Author Terri Rochenski. Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome
whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best
seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling.
she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her
two young daughters allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up,
or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book
or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.
Tell us something about yourself both writing and not
I write my scenes with a pen & clipboard loaded with
lined paper – strange, I know, but if I can’t hit ‘back space’ and ‘delete’ I
tend to get more done in one sitting.
Gardening is my second passion – self-sustainability is the
ultimate goal, but unfortunately I live on less than ¼ acre. I can only do so
Do you have a writing routine?Where do you usually do your writing?
I have no writing routine to speak of. As a stay-at-home mom
of 3, it’s write when I can, wherever I can. Napkin. Notebook. Coloring book
edges. :o) When I AM able to sit
& write in silence (rare event right there!) it’s usually on the couch with
Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?Any plans in the future to write in a
I’ve adored fantasy since I was a child & first picked up Chronicles
of Narnia. As for romance, what woman DOESN’T want to read about Prince
Charming? For now, I’m sticking with those genres. Not sure I have the brain
cells or time left for anything else!
do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?
Motivated … ha! Some days it’s
like pulling teeth for me to focus on the next scene that needs written. If I
don’t write down those ideas and notes immediately, the mommy brain often gets
distracted and that scene is doomed.
the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?
than spend HOURS pouring over books in the library, nothing.
the best writing advice you were ever given?
a rejection? Sub again, and again. Don’t give up.
do you like to do in your leisure time?
time? What’s that? When I DO have a quiet moment, it’s reading, cooking,
gardening, or just breathing in the silence.
Tell us about your current
release in a couple of sentences.
Cara’s story is born out of love
badly placed, desperation, and the resulting lies that keep her from ruin. The
truth could very well ruin her second chance at love.
Can you tell us a little about
your next project?
I’m contemplating dusting off
the first manuscript I ever wrote, an historical romance set in Victorian
England and the wild wild west. We’ll see.
Blurb: Dismissed from her job as a scullery maid and cast aside by her lover,
pregnant Cara Morland has no choice but to return to her father’s farm.
While lies of widowhood keep her from disgrace, Cara is faced with a
local landowner’s unwanted attentions. Without the social status to do
much more than avoid the vile man, she loses hope of ever finding
A friendship based on mutual loneliness blossoms
between Cara and James Elliot, a young farm hand hired by her father. He
offers his protection, and one shared kiss reveals his heart, but
propriety and her feigned grieving period hinders what they both desire.
Cara’s stalker learns the truth of her circumstances, he gives her an
ultimatum—submit to his possession or he’ll ruin her second chance at
love with James.
I suppose I'm a bit early with the topic of this post being that it's only the 3rd week of December but...
I bought a nice new day planner for 2014 the other day and started writing down the dates of guests I'll be hosting here and dates I'll be visiting other blogs. As I was flipping through the pages of the first couple of months, I couldn't help but reflect on what I have and what I haven't accomplished this year.
Did I meet all the goals I set for myself for 2013? No, unfortunately, I wasn't even close. This caused me to take a look at those goals. Were they too far reaching? Too much out of my control (such as hitting the best seller list - no, this wasn't one of my goals, just an example)? Did I utilize my time outside of the day job to the best advantage? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding No.
This led me to ask the question "Why?" I'm not sure I have an answer to that. Perhaps because my goals while concrete, weren't broken down into specific deadlines such I'll have X done by Y date. Perhaps while I thought my goals were reasonable, I always found myself feeling as though I was behind in one thing or another so maybe they weren't as reasonable as I thought way back in January 2013. And sometimes, life and family responsibilities came first.
As I start to think about goal setting for 2014 and what I'd like to accomplish in the coming year, these are some of things I'll be keeping in mind. Are my goals truly reasonable? Have I built in time for unplanned events/responsibilities that may crop up? Would it help me stay on track if instead of concrete final goals, to break them down a bit more with specific deadline dates?
I'd be interested in hearing about your goal setting methods and what works for you.
It's not even officially winter yet and I'm already tired of the snow. I've never been a big fan of winter or snow even as a kid. As I grow older, I like it even less.
Let me qualify that - I love watching the snow fall especially when it's the big fluffy flakes that seems to float slowly from the sky. I love how beautiful everything looks after a freshly fallen snow. I love being outside at night when it's that slow type snow and just listening to the silence of it as it falls to the earth.
Unfortunately, having to work outside the home makes me hate the snow more than if I didn't have to go out in it every day, didn't have to risk life and limb driving to work while people race down an icy road as though it was mid-summer with clean, dry pavement, or be expected to be at work even though there's a travel advisory stating no unnecessary travel and to stay off the roads.
I can't wait for the days when I don't have to watch the weather forecasts and worry about the next incoming winter storm because I'll just have to travel down the hall instead down the road. Until then, I'll be dreaming of spring.
This week's review is Hurricane Crimes by Chrys Fey.
Blurb: After her car breaks down, Beth Kennedy is forced to stay in Florida,
the target of Hurricane Sabrina. She stocks up supplies, boards up
windows, and hunkers down to wait out the storm, but her plan unravels
when she witnesses a car accident. Risking her life, she braves the
winds to save the driver. Just when she believes they are safe, she
finds out the man she saved could possibly be more dangerous than the
Donovan Goldwyn only wanted to hide from the police, but the
hurricane shoved his car into a tree. Now he's trapped with a beautiful
woman while the evidence that can prove his innocence to a brutal crime
is out there for anyone to find.
As Hurricane Sabrina wreaks havoc, Beth has no other choice but to
trust Donovan to stay alive. But will she survive, or will she become
another hurricane crime?
Review: Before I
start the review, I want to point out this is a novella, approximately
50 pages long. I point this out because some readers buy a work and don't
realize that it's of short length and then give a terrible review
because they didn't realize it was not a full-length novel.
author did an amazing job of depicting a hurricane. Having never lived
through one (thankfully), I would have had no real reference to draw
from if the author had glossed over the fury and strength of a
hurricane. That wasn't necessary, because the scenes were written so
well, I felt the power of the wind, heard it battering the house, saw
the aftermath as though I was there.
liked Beth Kennedy immensely. She was strong and feisty and did what
needed to be done, no matter how scared she was. I admired her most for
her bravery. I don't know if I would
have gone out during a raging hurricane to help an accident victim. I
hope I would but until one is in the situation, it's hard to say how
I liked Donovan Goldwyn as
well. He's a little harder to get a feel for as the story is
predominately written in Beth's point of view. This isn't a negative,
just that we didn't get to know his thoughts and feelings like we did
The author does a wonderful job
handling who and what Donovan might be as well as making the
explanation believable. Sorry if this seems convoluted, but I don't want
to give away any spoilers. She handles the chemistry between Beth and
Donovan with a deft hand within the length of the story.
were a couple of things that kept me from giving this 5 stars. There
were a couple of occasions of strange phrasing such as referring to
tears as salt drops. Also, I'm a stickler
for point of view and there were a few places where there were issues
with it. Most non-writers probably wouldn't notice these, but they stuck
out for me.
That being said, I wish
Hurricane Crimes was longer because I enjoyed Beth and Donovan's story
and wanted to spend a bit more time with them.
Please welcome my guest, Romance Author Rachel Brimble.
Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town
near Bath in the UK.After having
several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation
in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further
three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington--her debut was
released in April 2013 and she has since signed for three more.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance
Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in
a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved
black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West
Tell us something about yourself both writing and not
Writing related - I often wonder how I manage to keep
getting published when the biggest writing challenge for me is plotting. How do
I keep writing books when I can’t plot??
Not writing related – my favorite waste of time is sitting
in front of the TV watching endless US crime dramas and knitting my
latest project…badly ;)
That's funny I can't plot either. Do you have a writing routine?Where do you usually do your writing?
Even though I’m a stay at home mum, I treat my writing as a
job and work the entire time the kids are at school – once they’re home, I pop
back and forth to the laptop until about 7pm and then it’s family time. I
usually write sitting on the sofa with my huge black Lab fast asleep beside me.
Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?Any plans in the future to write in a
I currently write mainstream romance and romantic suspense
for Harlequin Superromance and Victorian romance for eKensington. As much as
possible, I like to write alternately for the two publishers as it keeps me
fresh and excited about what I’m writing. I ALWAYS want to try different
subgenres, but as I am currently contracted to write three more novels by June
2015, I’m not sure if or when this will happen. If I could, I’d like to try a
medical or cowboy romance in the future.
Hmm. A cowboy romance. There's just something about a cowboy, isn't there? How
do you stay motivated when writer’s block hits or your muse won’t cooperate?
very easily! With every book, I hit about 40,000 words and come to an abrupt
halt. It’s painful. I panic every time and doubt my ability and the story. The
only way to stay motivated (or should I said productive), is to write through
it. A full page is a hell of a lot easier to revise than a blank one!
the best writing advice you were ever given?
allow yourself permission to write a ‘crappy’ first draft – amazing how much
more you write if you know the opportunity is there to change it!
I couldn't agree with you more. It took me a long time to accept that the first draft doesn't have to be perfect, just the final draft does. Tell us about your current
release in a couple of sentences.
The Seduction of Emily is set in
Bath and is
very much a story of revenge and the chase for liberty.
When two very different
people, from very different backgrounds come together for a unified goal, the
results can be life changing…
Can you tell us a little about
your next project?
My next book is the sequel to
The Seduction of Emily. The Temptation of Laura is set in Bath’s theater world
and is about a prostitute striving for a better life, and a star of the stage
who wants to help her get there. This is a story of love, trust, possibility
and true happiness.
After that, my third Harlequin
Superromance is released in March 2014. What Belongs To Her is book three in
the Templeton Cove series.
As for my next writing project,
I have just started my fourteenth novel. With the working title of The Passion
of Monica, it’s another Victorian romance for eKensington, featuring a
secondary character from The Temptation of Laura as the heroine. This is
Monica’s story :o)
The Seduction of Emily is available to buy now from
eKensington. Here is the blurb and buy links:
Seduction is a wicked game, and no one plays it better than the
devilish Will Samson in Rachel Brimble's captivating new novel. . .
Since girlhood, Emily Darson has accepted that she will marry Nicholas,
the son of her father's trusted business partner. The marriage contract
safeguards her family legacy, Emily's fortune, and everything she
values--except her independence. Only when a sinfully handsome scoundrel enters
her life does Emily realize quite how much a loveless match will cost her.
Will Samson has advanced from expert pickpocket to confidence
trickster of the highest caliber. Now he has come to Bath to exact vengeance on
the man who destroyed his mother--the man Emily will soon marry. But from his
first glimpse of the enemy's bewitching, spirited fiancée, Will's plan changes.
Amid the ballrooms and salons of elegant society, heated glances
explode into scandalous kisses. Revenge is sweet, but surrender will be
irresistible. . .
Just wanted to pop in and say if you haven't read one of Rachel's books, you don't know what you're missing. On a side note, she likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers
and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you! You can contact her at any of these links:
When we were young adults in those last years of high school (and sometimes when we were in college), we couldn't wait to be done with school so we could do what we wanted when we wanted and not be tied down with homework, term papers, and having to sit through another boring class on a subject we hated.
Then we graduated and got a job and found out how misinformed we were. While there may be no more homework, our time is still not our own to do with what we please, now we answer to managers and supervisors and have even less time off than we did while in school. (And we thought that wasn't enough time.)
The reasoning behind this posting is so many of us who are struggling writers and hold down a job outside the home would love to have more time to write, promote, and perhaps have a little bit of leisure time to just be, to just sit and breathe for a bit without having to worry what or who is being neglected during those few stolen moments.
I would love to write full time and not have to hold down a job outside the home but, right now, that's not feasible. The only income I have is mine so I can't rely on a spouse or partner to pay the bills while I try to earn a living from writing. More than just wanting to devote more than a couple of hours per day to my writing, I want to be able to spend as much time as I want with my mom. She's essentially been my only parent my entire life and though I've seen 40 come and go, I'm still very attached to her. Thankfully, she's in great health given her age, but I don't want to miss a single minute I could be spending with her by having to sit at a desk in an office for 8 hours a day doing a job I don't hate, but I certainly don't love either.
So my dilemma is much like other struggling writers, other than writing the best books I can, how do I maximize sales so I can write full time?
Sorry, no review again this week. I thought I would have time to read a complete book before today, but no such luck. I spent too much time visiting with family over the Thanksgiving weekend. No regrets though.
For those of you who bake cookies for the Christmas holiday, here's a recipe a friend gave me a couple of years ago. I can attest that they are delicious.
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup butter softened
1/2 cup shortening (I use Crisco)
1 8ounce package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the flour, baking power, salt, and nutmeg in a bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and shortening together in a large mixing bowl. Add the cream cheese and sugar, beating until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Divide the dough in half. Cover and chill for at least 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough until 1/8 inch thick (You can leave them a bit thicker. This will make them almost cake like and just as tasty.) Cut with desired cookie cutter shapes. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool on wire racks. You can frost them with your favorite frosting type or leave them plain. They are great either way.
Back in September, I decided I wanted to revamp my blog. At the time I was under a self-imposed deadline to finish the first draft of my WIP (Work In Progress) which had already taken much longer than it should have to get the point I was at in the story. Knowing my deadline was October 12th, I planned on taking time to sit down and decide what I wanted to change about my blog and how I would go about it after that date.
I planned on making the changes gradually so that everything would be done by the middle of November. Well you know what they say about the best laid plans. Yep, they went out the window. Just about the time I met my writing deadline, chaos erupted at work. The person who did the payroll walked out in the middle of the day one day and never came back. Being her back up, I had to find the time to process the payroll and the responsibilities that go along with that, do my own regular duties and find the time to pay the quarterly taxes due to multiple states all by the end of October. This of course necessitated lots of overtime which left little time to do anything extra (such as revamping a blog) when I got home at night. Thankfully, a new payroll person was hired in the last week of October and was easy to train. So I spent November training the new person and trying to catch up on my own stuff that had to be set aside and keeping everything else current.
Now here it is December 2nd and I haven't made a single change to the layout or look of the blog. I did start doing book reviews on "What I'm Reading Wednesdays" instead of just posting what I'm reading at that time, so I guess I could say I made a tiny change to the format. Unfortunately, with the Christmas season now upon us and all the additional responsibilities that come with that, I don't see any free time for updates or changes to this poor blog until after December 25th.
So now my plan, or should I say goal, is to make the changes to the layout the week between Christmas and New Year's day when everything isn't quite so hectic so that I can start the new year with a fresh, new blog so to speak. Wish me luck.
Sorry, no review this week. I've been preparing for guests on Thursday and have been making homemade jams, cookies after work to give as take home gifts for the dinner guests. Today, I'm making the pies and rolls for tomorrow's dinner/dessert.
In honor of the holiday, here's a favorite recipe that never fails to please.
Raspberry Chiffon Pie
Pastry for a single-crust pie (recipe below or you can buy a pre-made pastry crust.)
1 10 oz package of frozen red raspberries, thawed
1 3 oz package raspberry flavored Jello
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Prepare and roll out the pastry (if necessary) and line a 9 inch pie plate with it. Trim the pastry to 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pie plate. Flute the edges, then prick the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.
Drain the thawed raspberries, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the reserved raspberry syrup to measure 1 1/2 cups of liquid.
In a small saucepan, combine the raspberry Jello and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Stir in the 1 1/2 cups of raspberry liquid and lemon juice. Heat mixture, stirring constantly, until the sugar and Jello have completely dissolved. Cool.
Stir the cooled Jello mixture into the drained raspberries. Chill the mixture to the consistency of corn syrup, stirring occasionally.
Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 1/4 cup of sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. When the Jello is partially set, fold in the stiff-beaten egg whites. Whip the cream until soft peaks form, then fold into the Jello mixture. Chill in the refrigerator until the mixture mounds up when spooned.
Turn the Jello-whipped cream mixture into the baked pie crust. Chill for several hours or overnight till set. Serves 8. Cover and keep refrigerated to store.
Pie Crust Recipe
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening (I use Butter Crisco)
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until the pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water over part of the mixture and toss with a fork. Push to the side of the bowl and repeat the process until all of the mixture is moistened. Form the dough into a ball.
On a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough with your hands. Using a rolling pin, form a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin and then unroll it into the 9 inch pie plate. Continue as directed above.
As the Thanksgiving holiday grows closer, I've found myself noticing things that I'm thankful/grateful for that I normally take for granted. I was surfing the internet the other day doing research and checking sites that caught my attention for one reason or the other when I came upon the following link. I watched the video and read the accompanying text.
It reminded me that when change happens and it's not something I wanted to change, how I react to that change, good or bad, affects my attitude whether I realize it or not. Watching the video reminded me that having a positive attitude makes all the difference when dealing with change whether it be something minor or an event that will affect the rest of my life and how I live it.
As I gather with my family this Thursday, I'll take a few extra moments to say thanks for all those changes that have made me a better and stronger person whether I knew it at the time or not.
Please welcome my guest, award winning historical romance author Barbara Bettis.
Once in a while the kernel of a story slips into our minds
and stays there. We might push it to the corner while we work on something
else, but that idea persists. Although we try to ignore it, it rubs
occasionally, reminding us it’s there.
That’s what happened with Giles and Emelin’s tale. It came
while I was working on something else that I had to finish, so I tucked it away
for later. But at the strangest moments, it pushed into my consciousness—the
image of a knight astride a black horse, standing in the center of a village
green, avoided by everyone. The people whispered and pointed and went out of
their way to keep from passing too closely. He really captured my imagination.
The idea of a famous mercenary who was alone and lonely. He
was searching for something. He needed someone—a heroine—who could accept him
for what he was and care enough to give up what she thought was the most
important thing in her life.
I don’t even recall planning a ‘heroine’, either. Emelin was
just there, as if she knew she was the one Giles needed. All I had to do was
get them together. Through other stories that I love, other heroes I adore,
this one has been so special. I feel as if I know these people as well as I
know some of my best friends. And when the story ended, I missed them! I wanted
to go visit them.
I’m really touched when readers say they think about them
for days after finishing the book. And they ask about the other characters—when
are their stories coming? Soon, I hope :)
Do you feel the same about books
you’ve read? What characters remain in your mind after a book is put away? How do your stories come to you?
He’s everything a proper lady should never want;
she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
Sir Giles has come to England to kill his
father, who seduced and betrayed his mother. First, however, he’ll seek sweet
revenge—kidnap the old lord’s new betrothed. But when
Giles uncovers a plot against King Richard, he faces a dilemma: take the lady
or track the traitors. What’s a good mercenary to do? Both, of course.
Lady Emelin has had enough.
Abandoned in a convent by her brother, she finally has a chance for home and
family. Yet now she’s been abducted. Her kidnapper may be the image of her
dream knight, but she won’t allow him to spoil this betrothal. Her only
Rescuing the intrepid lady—while hunting
traitors—is a challenge Giles couldn’t anticipate.But the greatest challenge to Giles and
Emelin is the fire blazing between them. For he’s everything a proper lady
should never want, and she’s everything a bastard mercenary can never have.
Excerpt: His gaze sought his little warrior-nun.
Her wide eyes focused on him,
and again the invisible connection
thrummed. The space between them seemed to compress along their odd connection.
Was it possible she experienced it, as well? Then she shook her head.
Yes, he must be a grim sight. His gaze
lingered. He fought an urge to feel her lips again. He recalled that kiss, and
his left hand brushed the cheek where her slap had landed. He winced. Damn, it
hurt to smile.
A shame about her. She was too good for
Langley. At least the marriage wouldn’t last long, just until he delivered the
blasted missive. Then that wrinkle of uncertainty would ease from her smooth
brow. She would be free to tilt her chin and defy whomever she chose.
But it wouldn’t be Sir Giles of Cambrai. He was a mercenary, a soldier for hire. Ladies were not his
Not even maidens with eyes as bright as
spring and lips as sweet as rose honey.
As the holiday season draws closer with Thanksgiving only two weeks away, we all get busier trying to do all of our normal every day things plus all the additional things the holidays bring.
Lately, I've been so busy my To Do lists have To Do lists. The thought of all the cooking, baking, shopping both for food and gifts coming up leaves me exhausted. Yet at the same time, I'm looking forward to it. Every year my mom and I make different kinds of cookies to give away. It's time with her I cherish each year as we both grow older.
One thing I hope to do this weekend is sit down and look at all those To Do lists and decide what actually is a "to do" and what is an "I'd like to do" item. My goal is to pare down the lists to what really needs to be done within the next 6 weeks so I have time to enjoy the special moments the holidays bring.
This week's review is A Song For Sophie by Mackenzie Crowne.
Blurb: Jobless, practically homeless, and tired of being manless, Sophie Taylor
jumps at the chance to be Beaumont Walker's personal assistant. Six
weeks on the road with country music's bad boy--and, more importantly,
his all-male crew--is the perfect opportunity to change her life.
Walker doesn't need any more distractions. Sophie, with her butt-ugly
suits and balls-to-the-wall attitude, shouldn't be one, but she proves
to be distracting and more--even, surprisingly, a friend. So when he
discovers her plan to snag a man from his worldly wise crew, he's
determined to protect her from herself.
When Sophie realizes Beau
is behind her failure to attract even one member of his crew, the last
place she expects to find herself is in his bed. But will one night of
passion convince her she's woman enough for him? Or will it destroy
their friendship and his budding belief in true love?
Review: First I'd like to point out this is a novella. It's approximately 119 pages long. I want to bring that to everyone's attention because there's nothing more heartbreaking to an author than to receive a terrible review on Amazon or elsewhere where the only reason the reader didn't like the book is because it was only X number of pages and they didn't realize/know it before they purchased it.
I enjoyed going on Sophie's journey with her. Not just her physical journey from one city to another as the tour moved across the US, but her emotional journey as she realized she was more than just an afterthought. Throughout the book, she gained confidence, bravery, and more patience when dealing with Beau during his mania periods than I ever would have had. I liked how she outmaneuvered him by using his own words and/or foibles against him.
At first, I thought Beau was your stereotypical music star. I'm happy to say I was wrong about him. He genuinely cares about the road crew and is appreciative of everyone involved in making the things he needs done happen including Sophie, no matter how much she makes him grit his teeth in frustration at times. The song he wrote and sings at the end just made me like him even more.
I do have to point out one thing that bothered me. Beau often refers to Sophie as a little sergeant because he thinks she's so bossy. It was cute and gave them a sense of camaraderie. What bothered me is when he would call her "Serge." The first time, I thought it was a typo, but it's like that throughout the story. The informal address of Sergeant is "Sarge." Coming from a family where for generations nearly all of the male members have served in the military, it just was very jarring for me and pulled me out of the story each time. Also, I work with two men from the Ukraine who are named Sergey and Sergei, same name, different spelling. Guess what we call them -- Serge (pronounced surge). Given both of these reasons, the use of "Serge" in the book may have stood out to me more than it would someone else.
There's nothing like a good book to take your mind off the stresses of your day or the worries you may have. I read a quote somewhere when I was a kid that said, "Most of the time, I'd rather be with a book than people." I'm paraphrasing of course, but something about that quote stuck with me all these years.
Maybe that quote resonated with me because I'm an introvert and prefer small gatherings of two to three people over large crowds of hundreds. Or maybe because reading has always been a pleasure and being able to sit down and spend time getting lost in another time/place/or world has always been something to look forward to.
My apologies for not posting the last couple of weeks. One good thing about that unexpected development, I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms so I have a book review to post this week.
This week's review is:
Two of a Kind by Susan Mallery
Blurb: Felicia Swift never dreamed she'd hear a deep, sexy voice from her past
in tiny Fool's Gold, California. The last time Gideon Boylan whispered
in her ear was half a world away…on the morning after the hottest night
of her life. Her freaky smarts have limited her close friendships, and
romance, but she came to Fool's Gold looking for ordinary. Gorgeous,
brooding Gideon is anything but that.
Black Ops taught Gideon
that love could be deadly. Now he pretends to fit in while keeping
everyone at arm's length. Felicia wants more than he can give—a home,
family, love—but she has a lot to learn about men…and Gideon needs to be
the man to teach her.
As these two misfits discover that passion
isn't the only thing they have in common, they just might figure out
that two of a kind should never be split apart.
Review: While this book is part of the Fool's Gold series, it can easily be enjoyed without having read any of the other books in the series. Odds are though that after reading this one, you'll want to go back and read all of the others.
I loved the character of Felicia. She is scary smart and was sent to live at a university at a very young age to both be studied, but also to learn. Because of her unconventional upbringing, she longs for a normal life and a normal family. Also because of her upbringing, she's socially awkward and wants to fit in. While I'm not scary smart, and I don't think socially awkward, I am very introverted and tend to be very reticent around people I'm unfamiliar with so I found myself identifying with her in certain situations. I also loved that she spoke exactly what she thought even if it sometimes created embarrassing situations for her.
Gideon Boylan is a great character and more than worthy of Felicia. A former Black Ops team member who suffered months of torture, Gideon feels the only reason he survived is because he didn't care for anyone back home. He feels broken not only because of what he endured but because he doesn't feel capable of forming loving relationships. The unexpected appearance of someone in his life and his relationship with Felicia proves otherwise.
This is a wonderful story about two people who believe they are too damaged to be "normal" but due to circumstances end up living together to provide a "normal" life and finding their HEA with each other. I just can't say enough about this heart-warming story.
My apologies for not posting the last couple of weeks. An unexpected event occurred that took up every available moment outside of my day job. Things are under control now and I'm back on track.
It's strange how something that seems so innocuous at the time suddenly becomes much more than that, eating into your time and energy. I've missed posting here and reading the blogs of others, not to mention being able to keep up with email from the loops I belong to. And of course, spending time on Facebook. It's amazing how much occurs in just a few days and how quickly I started to feel out of touch.
Welcome to newly revamped "What I'm Reading Wednesday" post and the first review of what I hope will be many posted here on Wednesdays.
The Last Kiss Goodbye by Karen Robards (2nd in the Charlotte Stone series)
Blurb: Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone has dedicated her career as a psychiatrist
to exploring the darkest territory of all: the hearts and minds of
serial killers. It’s a job she’s uniquely suited for, thanks to the
secret talent that gives her an uncanny edge—Charlie can see dead
people, whose tormented spirits cry out to her for the justice only she
can provide. This blessing—or curse—gives Charlie the power to hunt down
and catch madmen and murderers. It’s also turned her love life upside
down by drawing her into a hopelessly passionate relationship with the
lingering ghost of charismatic bad boy Michael Garland.
there’s little time for romance with her supernatural suitor when murder
comes pounding at Charlie’s door in the form of a terrified young woman
fleeing a homicidal maniac. Saving her life places Charlie squarely in
the cross-hairs of a sadistic predator nicknamed “the Gingerbread Man,”
notorious for manipulating his victims like pawns in a deadly chess
game. And now the queen this psychopath’s bent on capturing is Charlie.
Refusal to play will only put more innocent lives in danger. Matching
wits with this cunningly twisted opponent will require all of Charlie’s
training and expert skills. But even with her devilish “guardian
angel”—not to mention her favorite flesh-and-blood Fed, Tony
Bartoli—watching her beautiful back, the Gingerbread Man’s horrifying
grin might be the last thing Charlie ever sees.
Review: This is a great follow up to the first book in the series, The Last Victim. It actually takes place a few days after the end of The Last Victim. From the very first page to the last, this book is a page turner. I stayed up too late because I couldn't put the book down and got up too early just so I could read it before I went to work.
I was captivated by the relationship between Charlie and Michael. They are perfect foils for each other. Michael keeps Charlie from burying herself in her work. Charlie brings out the best in Michael, though he resists when he realizes what she's doing. Michael may be a convicted serial killer, but things he says and does makes Charlie start to question the verdict that found him guilty. Michael has always maintained his innocence but the evidence was overwhelming, resulting in him being sent to jail.
I also enjoyed the budding relationship between Charlie and FBI agent, Tony Bartoli. Tony is a dedicated agent who cares a great deal for Charlie. Charlie feels Tony is someone she could love, if only Michael would stop interfering in her love life and telling her Tony isn't for her.
The serial killer storyline was fantastic, carefully plotted and very believable. I was sure I knew who the killer was and was completely surprised (not in a bad way) when the killer was revealed.
Please welcome my guest, romance author Brenda Whiteside.
having me on your Thought of the Day, Katherine. I’ve been asked where I got my
idea for Amanda in the Summer. Sometimes, a story comes as a thought…
Three generations of
women…and the secret that strengthens their love.
day, a couple of years ago, I opened an envelope I’d received in the mail. Mail
nowadays usually consists of advertisements, bills, credit card offers and
coupons. How fun to receive something personal. This envelope contained a
wedding invitation printed on 8 ½ by 11 inch stationery. The way it was folded
crunched together words from different sentences and the phrase “Amanda in the
Summer” jumped out at me. I had the title for a story.
came to mind of a young woman, sitting on a beach writing a letter to a dear
friend. She was pregnant. Don’t ask me why. Sometimes those details are just
there. Letters are a form of communication rarely used today. It seemed perfect
to set my young woman in the 1940’s when the art of the handwritten letter
still existed. Once she wrote that letter and spoke of her unborn child, the
story took off. Amanda would give birth to Amanda who would give birth to yet
another Amanda and the letters would tell their stories.
I hate research but for this story which spans fifty-seven years and three
generations, I had a bit of fun with it. The first letter is written in 1947
and the last in 2004. My research covered a wide range of topics: astrology
events, the G.I. Bill, when sunscreen was invented, the Beat Generation,
Columbia University protests of 1968, 1960’s shopping and eating in New York to name a few.
Getting the right tone to the letters and using the correct slang for the era
was a challenge I enjoyed.
Blurb: A line of women, all
named Amanda, stretches back for generations. Each with her hopes, her joys,
her pain—each pouring out her heart in correspondence with a dear family friend
who shares their lives, understands their loves, and joins in their sorrows.
But within the
correspondence lies a secret. And as the youngest of the Amandas retraces the
journey through the years—beginning in post-war America and following through to
modern day—the letters reveal, layer by layer, the Amandas who came before her.
Soon, the truths and lies hidden in the
letters lead her down a path of self-discovery that forges a bond between her
past and future.
August 24, 1968
A few days of bliss with no one to talk to but the
seagulls. I have you to thank for this. I’m so glad you
popped back after Amanda, Robert, and Mother left. The
strain I put on all of us while you were here would’ve
dragged on for who knows how long if you hadn’t
returned. Once again, Tilly, you read the tea leaves and
My moods have been so ragged of late. Jealousy of
all things. Jealous that you could talk to my daughter,
get along so lovely with her, which I’ve had difficulty
doing these last few months. Jealous of your longer
running friendship with Robert than with me. I’m not
sure if I was jealous of him or you. You’re both mine.
And angry that the two of you are uncomfortable around
each other after so many years and not making sense of
that. When Robert left, I tried to give him the blue
swimsuit you had left behind and asked him to drop in
on you to return it. He said no, I could do it when I got
back. This was so unlike him and did more to unsettle
the Summer is exclusively at Amazon until December.
Today I'm being interviewed on the Romance Lives Forever blog. I hope you'll stop by and perhaps learn something about me and/or my writing that you never knew before. Link: http://romancelivesforever.blogspot.com/
Starting next Wednesday, 10/16/13, I'm making a change to my "What I'm Reading Wednesday" posts. Instead of telling you what I'm reading currently and including the blurb and in most cases, the book cover, I'll be posting a review of the book I read in the previous week.
I'll be using the following rating system:
5 Stars -- Fantastic book. Definitely a keeper.
4 Stars -- Great book. A page turner.
3 Stars -- Good book. An enjoyable way to spend some time.
I will not be posting any reviews below a 3 star rating. The reason I decided to start posting reviews is to help spread the news about books worth reading, not to criticize an author's work. That being said, I will give the reason(s) why I gave a book a certain number of stars.
If for some reason, I'm unable to read an entire book in the previous week, I'll be posting some of my family's favorite recipes instead. I will also continue to host guests on Wednesdays as they occur.
Barring any unexpected items that creep into my writing time, I should have the first draft of my current work in progress (WIP) finished by the end of this week. It's a long time coming. I've been working on this manuscript for approximately eight months, though not consistently which is why it's taken so long to complete.
Yet I know when I finally type "The End," it still isn't really completed. The revision/rewriting process begins. It usually takes me two, sometimes three, revisions/rewriting passes of the whole manuscript to get it ready for a beta reader to look at it. Then there is another round of edits cleaning up things the beta reader(s) remarked on.
Some people prefer the initial writing process over doing revisions, but I'm the opposite. An author is quoted as saying, "You can't revise a blank page." I'm paraphrasing here because I don't know the exact quote or the author. But in any case, I completely agree. It's easier to change what's already been written than it is to get the words down on paper in the first place.
Some of my favorite authors have said they write really crappy first drafts. It makes me wonder how much revision/rewriting they do once they finish that first draft because their books are so well written, so engrossing that I get lost in the story and usually hate to see it end. (Or we have vastly different definitions of what a crappy first draft is. :o) )
One thing is for certain, anyone who writes for publication whether it be a novel, short story, essay, poetry etc. knows that revision and rewriting is a huge part of the process. Some people look at as a necessary evil, something to be dreaded but done. I look at it as an opportunity to make a good story a great story. And when you finish a book I've written, I hope you'll think "great book" as you close the back cover.
"The antidote to a thousand enemies is one good friend." ~ Aristotle
I came across the above quote a few days ago and thought how true those words still are today. I know if I'm having a bad day, I have a friend who will let me vent, complain, or just whine about that bad day. She always listens. Sometimes she'll offer words of advice, but most of the time, she does what I need her to most. She commiserates with me. Of course, she's there in the good and fun times as well.
Here's to good friends. I can't imagine my life without mine.
This week I'm reading Fifth Grave Past The Light by Darynda Jones. It's the fifth book in the Charley Davidson series. I enjoy this series and wish the books came out more than about one a year sometimes a little less.
Charley Davidson isn’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper. She’s
more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire. However,
she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow,
moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main
suspect in an arson case. Charley has vowed to stay away from him until
she can find out the truth…but then dead women start appearing in her
apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond
reason. When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma, is the
serial killer’s next target, Charley has no choice but to ask for
Reyes’s help. Arsonist or not, he’s the one man alive who could protect
Gemma no matter who or what comes at her. But he wants something in
return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe,
it is a price she is willing to pay.
I've been so focused on meeting my self-imposed deadline for completing my manuscript, I didn't give any thought to what I would write about for this post. I usually start thinking of ideas at the end of the prior week for each Monday's post. And now it's time to write the post and I have no idea what to write about.
I could tell you I'm about 60 to 70 pages out from completing the first draft of my manuscript. It's taken much longer than it should have to get the first draft down on paper.
I could tell you how I met friends for dinner last Wednesday. Though we keep in touch through email, I don't actually see these friends except when we meet for dinner every 6 months or so. The strange thing is when we do get together, it seems no time has passed at all since we last had dinner. Is it because we keep in touch with weekly emails in the intervening time? Or is because we know each other so well?
I could tell you about the book I'm dying to read but am not sure I'll have time to start it this week. Maybe I'll tell you more about it on this week's What I'm Reading Wednesday post.
I thing I can tell you is it seems Sundays are the fastest day of the week. I never seem to accomplish everything I set out to do on a Sunday. I've tried whittling the day's "To Do" list down so I have a better chance of getting everything crossed off by the end of the day but I always seem to have one or two items left on the list at the end of the day.
Oh and one last thing I can tell you. It's hard to write a blog when you have no idea what to write about. :o)
I'm a list maker. Lists of things I need to do on a daily basis, weekly basis and sometimes, if it's going to be a busy month, a monthly list as well. I also make lists of books I want to read, books I want to buy, things I need to buy at the grocery store, and around the holidays, gifts I need to purchase just to name a few types of my lists.
I tried giving up my to do lists for a couple of weeks and felt like I was doing the things that needed to be done at the last minute and that they weren't done as well as they could have been. I even forgot to do a couple of items and when I remembered, it was days after the thing should have been taken care of such as returning library books. I believe in supporting my local library, but I hate paying overdue fines.
The lists help keep me organized so I'm back to making my lists. My name is Katherine and I'm a list maker.
This week I'm reading the contemporary romance Somebody to Love by Kristan Higgins. My sister picked it up at the library for me. I'm only about 90 pages in and I'm really enjoying it.
Here's the blurb:
After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme,
single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order
of business: go to Gideon's Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now
owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her
father's wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she's not
thrilled…even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a
Having to fend for herself financially for the first
time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist's assistant and starts to
find out who she really is. Maybe James isn't the glib lawyer she
always thought he was. And maybe the house isn't the only thing that
needs a little TLC….
This post was inspired by a conversation with an old friend whom I call Sally. Sally remarked that one of our mutual friends would never be a success in life because she spent too much time volunteering instead of putting all that effort into doing things that would bring her more money. Our friend works a full time job making a pretty good wage as well as volunteering a couple of nights a week and on weekends so it surprised me that Sally had written her off as being unsuccessful. It also left me feeling sad that our friend is living a wonderful, fulfilling life and yet others consider her to be less successful than she could be.
It left me wondering how other people define success. I realize everyone has their own definition of what being successful means. And that for
some it can mean making millions of dollars, or winning an Oscar or Emmy
or Grammy or any other type of industry award that brings a measure of
prestige, or hitting the bestseller list, or even having raised a great kid
who's become a productive member of society.
So I ask...What does being successful mean to you?
I've had a busy few days since I posted last Wednesday so I'm still reading When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel by Dixie Lee Brown. Since I don't have a new book to post about, I thought I'd share a breakfast recipe I make for the holidays or if I need to serve brunch. I hope you enjoy it.
Egg and Bacon Pie
6 slices bacon (I've used turkey bacon)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 of a small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
5 large eggs
5 large egg whites
1 cup milk (I use 1% milk)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10 inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned. Remove from the skillet. Allow to cool.
Add the olive oil to the same skillet, then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft. Transfer to a large bowl. Add eggs, egg whites, milk, flour, dill, salt, and pepper to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Crumble bacon into the bowl and stir in mozzarella. Pour into the prepared pie plate. Top with the tomato slices. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over tomato slices.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
*Makes 8 servings
*I serve it with fresh fruit salad and toast. If you're going to serve it alone, cut it into larger pieces, but it will serve fewer people.
The other day I was bemoaning my lack of consistent exercise to a friend. Having her own busy life and responsibilities, she commiserated with me and then told me about a trick she just learned from her new personal trainer. (Her husband bought her 10 sessions with a personal trainer as a birthday gift per her request. She's hoping it will jump start her exercise plan.)
Amy, the trainer, said a lot of people think they don't have time to exercise because they think they have to do it for 45 minutes or more to get any results. That's not necessarily true. On the days my friend doesn't have a training session, Amy suggested she exercise 15 minutes a day every day with the goal being to exercise 100 consecutive days. Surely, she could squeeze out 15 minutes a day without too much of a problem.
Three weeks later, my friend has exercised every day so far. The first couple of days she watched the clock like a hawk and as soon as she hit the 15 minute mark, she was done but then she noticed she started going a little longer - 17 minutes, then 21 minutes. She's up to 25 minutes and she says she doesn't feel like she's sacrificing anything else to exercise a little longer than the original 15 minutes.
She marks each day that she's exercised with a little smiley face on her calendar and says she likes being able to see all those happy faces lined up in a row at the end of the week. It gives her a sense of accomplishment.
Needing to exercise on a regular basis as an attempt to stall having knee surgery, I'm taking the advice of Amy. Starting today, I've scheduled 15 minutes to walk on the treadmill every day this week. I don't know if I'll make it 100 days in a row, but I'm certainly going to try. I even went out and bought little smiley face stickers to put on my calendar.
A person's health is one of the most important, yet neglected aspects of every day life. I have really bad knees - 4 knee surgeries within 4 years and 3 of those were within a 16 month time span. Between yesterday and today, we've had a couple of cooler rainy days and I've been hobbling around because the dampness is making my one knee ache miserably.
While I try to eat healthy 80% of the time, I don't exercise on a
regular basis. It's more here and there if I can fit into my day. I know if I exercised on a more regular basis, it would help with the pain and stiffness. Like the commercial for Celebrex says, "a joint in motion, stays in motion."
I need to make exercise a priority, now just to find the time.
After reading a non-fiction book for the last 3 weeks or so for research purposes, this week I'm back to fiction. I'm now reading When I Find You: A Trust No One Novel by Dixie Lee Brown.
As a former Marine, Walker could find a needle in a haystack. But
when he's asked by the U.S. Marshals to track down a nanny fleeing from
the mafia, he's sure she'll be more trouble than she's worth. Especially
after the sexy little thing clubs him and leaves him for dead. Walker's
stunned by her courage—and her curves—and can't help feeling drawn to
this damsel trying to dig her way out of distress. He'll find her, and
when he does, it'll take more than the mafia to tear him away.
Maddox never expected to be running for her life. But when it suddenly
looks like foe may become friend, Darcy's faced with a choice: Go it
alone or trust a man she just met—never mind the way his touch gets her
heart pounding. The choice seems simple enough until she realizes it's
not just her life at stake—it's her heart.
I've never read anything by Ms. Brown but I have to say I started it last night and had a hard time putting it down so I could go to bed. Even only being a few chapters into the story, I'd say if you're looking for a good romantic suspense, go get a copy of this book.