Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope you and your loved ones have 
a wonderful holiday. 

I'll be taking a short break from posting to spend time with family from out 
town and will be back to a normal posting schedule on Monday, 1/6/14.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Annoyances

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.

Friday, December 20, 2013

This I know for sure...

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.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Please Welcome My Guest

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.

Today 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 writing related.

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 much!

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 that clipboard.

Why do you write in the genre/sub-genre that you do?  Any plans in the future to write in a different one?

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!

How 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.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done in the name of research?

Other than spend HOURS pouring over books in the library, nothing.

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

Get a rejection? Sub again, and again. Don’t give up.

What do you like to do in your leisure time?

Leisure 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.

You can get in touch with Terri at any of these links:
Website  Blog  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads

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 happiness.

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.

When 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.

Buy Links:
Amazon  The Wild Rose Press 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Goal Review

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.

Friday, December 13, 2013

This I know for sure...

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.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

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 severe weather.

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.

The 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.

I 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 you'd react.

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 Beth's.

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.

There 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.

Rating: 4 Stars

Monday, December 9, 2013

Please Welcome My Guest

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 England.

Tell us something about yourself both writing and not writing related.

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 different one?

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?

Not 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!

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given? 

To 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:  

Friday, December 6, 2013

This I know for sure...

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?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

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 egg
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.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Best of Intentions

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.