Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: The Wicked Ways of Alexander Kidd

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE 
 
THE WICKED WAYS OF ALEXANDER KIDD
Highland Heirs, Book Two

By Paula Quinn
October 28, 2014
 
As the sheltered niece of a Highland chief, Caitrina Grant longs for adventure beyond the lush hills of Scotland. So when a pirate ship glides into the loch, tempting her with promises of exotic lands and hidden treasures, Trina sneaks aboard. But she is unprepared for the consequences-and the seductive captain who demands the ultimate price for her deception.

For Alexander Kidd, the sea is no place for a lady. Pursued by deadly enemies from every direction, Alex won't rest until he claims the bounty of riches left to him by his father, the notorious Captain Kidd. A stowaway will not be tolerated-no matter how beautiful. But soon fighting his desire for Trina becomes his toughest battle yet, and he will have to make an agonizing choice: sacrifice his quest-or lose the woman who has stolen his heart.
 


Pirates and Highlanders. Me likey.


Book blurb from author's website.
Friday, August 8, 2014

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week...

Magic Study. Thanks to my nephew's girlfriend, I finally discovered the Study Series by Maria V. Snyder.

Image via Tumblr
I'm currently reading the second book, Magic Study. I'm only half way through but, oh man...I love this series!! I adore Yelena and Ms. Snyder's writing style. I want MORE! Good thing I have four of her books in my NTR pile.

Free Hot Dogs. I attended my neighborhood's Annual National Night Out Against Crime event. I ate a BBQ hot dog. Well, okay, I ate two hot dogs. And a popsicle. Hey, they were free AND tasty. Besides the yummy eats, I saw my Congressman schmoozing, some badass police vehicles, and the sheriff's helicopter land in the park. The rotor wash from the helicopter blew the playground's beauty bark all over the place. *snickers*


Nail Art. I recently ordered some nail decals on Etsy, and they arrived in my mail box this week. Ain't they cute?

All nail images via Etsy
I bought the crab decals.


I can't wait to wear the Seahawk decals on game day!


These are for my nephew's girlfriend. She's an Olaf fangirl.

Day Trips. My BFF, big sis, and I are headed to Oregon tomorrow to meet up with my cousin, who's in Portland on business. I haven't seen him in years, so it'll be a fun visit. Plus, we're going to Powell's bookstore and VooDoo Doughnut, two of my favorite places in Portland. If there's time, I hope to see some GRIMM locations.


What are you loving this week?
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I had the devil of a time opening my WIP and getting down to business last week.


Hey, don't judge me. It happens. I can't say why, exactly, because I don't really know the reason. I just wanted a few lazy days of summer, I guess, and the daunting task of revising a wordy scene made we want to binge watch Finding Carter.


Hey, don't judge me. Finding Carter is a good show. Really!


But, wait. My CP is breathing down my neck, and the girl is a stickler for deadlines. Soooo.


After an encouraging and enjoyable Skype chat with my trusty CP, I gathered my strength and pulled myself out of my mini funk. How? I. Opened. My. WIP.


Once I leapt over that hurdle, it dawned on me that my opening paragraph was the cause of my procrastination. I just didn't like it, to be honest. And so I rewrote the sucker, tightening and cutting and polishing. I'm happy to report that I like the new version much better. Plus, I'm back on track and writing every day. So far, so good.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Polish Your Manuscript


A good writer polishes her manuscript until it shines like a vampire in the sun.


Well, ain't that pretty.


Ooo, even better!

Who wouldn't want to rewrite and tweak her rough draft until it sparkles as beautifully as Edward Cullen. I sure do. I like all things that glitter. And, I'll be the first to admit, I'm a perfectionist. Is there a perfectionist lurking inside of you as well? It's time you let it go a la Elsa in Frozen.


Seriously. There comes a point when enough is enough. It's time to stop fussing and rewriting and complete your book. If you don't, you could very well polish your voice right out of your story.

Author Larissa Ione agrees. In the August issue of RWR, she admits polishing her work was one of her biggest problems before she got published.

"I spent so much time polishing and paying attention to 'the rules' that my voice didn't shine. Once I let that go and learned to leave the story a little rough, a little raw, my voice came through.

Voice is so important to a story, and it's so easily edited out. So to those who have the urge to keep polishing, I suggest going over the story for one polish...and then let that sucker loose into the world. Editors can help you fix your writing...but they can't help you fix your voice."

Well said Larissa. Well said.   
Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: Sex and Sin in Tudor England

Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love and Miranda Richardson in Blackadder make it seem like Tudor women led merry, bawdy lives filled with satin, lace and lasciviousness. The reality was far less frivolous and fun. Sex, politics, position and power were the trials and tribulations negotiated on a daily basis by Tudor women, and losing your head wasn't always the worst thing that could happen...

10 SHOCKING FACTS ABOUT TUDOR WOMEN
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth (1998)
1) Underskirts, not underwear.

Tudor women went unemcumbered by underwear. They wore a multitude of layers with ruffs and partlets and over-gowns covering full-skirted kirtles, with detachable sleeves, attached by tapes or pins.


Stomachers were laced tightly in place and skirts held their shape with the help of hooped farthingales and padded bum-rolls. Beneath all that would be an embroidered linen shift, under which they wore nothing at all -- most convenient for relieving themselves discreetly and, one can only assume, all sorts of other things.

2) Maids weren't always maidenly.

The disgraceful behavior of the young women at the English court was much commented on abroad. In 1581 royal maid Anne Vavasour gave birth, aged 16, in the maids' dormitory at Whitehall Palace, having been seduced by the much older and married Earl of Oxford. They were both thrown into the Tower by a furious Queen Elizabeth.

Clive Owen & Abbie Cornish, Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
In the 1590's the Queen's favorite the Earl of Essex was said to be having carnal relations with no less than four of the maids of the Chamber simultaneously.

3) Contraception was a messy business.

Contraception was illegal as it interfered with God's plan but wealthier men often availed themselves of a quondam or condom fashioned from lamb's gut.

Some women used vinegar soaked wool inserted into their nether regions; others used beeswax plugs and even blocks of wood (which may well have worked by putting them off the act altogether). When all that failed, they might resort to a concoction of rue to induce a miscarriage, rather than suffer the shame of pregnancy.

4) The best kind of woman was a married, pregnant woman.

Tudor women were believed susceptible to temptation and unable to control their base desires. The remedy for this was regular sexual relations -- within the sanctity of marriage, of course.

Unmarried women were regarded with suspicion, leading to many being condemned as witches. As breastfeeding delayed ovulation noblewomen's babies were handed over to wet nurses from birth, to ensure they become pregnant again quickly.

Joseph Fiennes & Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love (1998)

5) The bedroom was no place for experimentation.

Once married, the missionary position was the only sexual mode sanctioned by the church and was thought to be more likely to produce boys. Anything more creative risked the devil getting involved and birth defects.

Anne Bolyen's supposed sixth finger and the belief that she miscarried a deformed baby, was seen as proof she was dealing with dark forces.

6) Childbirth was often fatal.

The pain and danger of childbirth was accepted as women's punishment for having been tempted by the serpent in paradise, causing man's fall, and was faced with little more than prayers, stoicism and amulets.

There was no understanding of the need for cleanliness and the most common cause of maternal death was puerperal fever, a septic infection of the reproductive organs that always resulted in death. Two of Henry VIII's six wives died of it: Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr.

7) It was a man's world.

Married women lived under the rule of their husbands and were expected to be obedient and submissive. If a husband disliked his wife's behavior he was permitted to beat her with a stick no broader than his thumb but not so violently as to kill her.


If a wife was deemed a nag she might be paraded about in public wearing an iron bridle, complete with a tongue piece, to make speech impossible and humiliation certain.

If a man killed his wife he was tried for murder. However, if a woman did the same the charge was treason, as it was a crime against authority.

8) Boiling and burning for breaking the law.

In 1531 Henry VIII reinstated an ancient statue that declared the punishment for poisoning to be death by immersion in hot water. A maidservant Margaret Davy was convicted of poisoning her employer in 1542 and boiled alive in the market place of King's Lynn.

Mary I earned the sobriquet Bloody Mary for the 280 men, women and children who were burned in her reign for refusing the Catholic faith. But, contrary to common belief, her sister Elizabeth was equally ruthless. 600 souls were dispatched in the wake of the Northern Rebellion of 1569 alone.

Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, The Tudors (2007-2010)

9) A life with execution but not torture.

Women could burned or boiled alive but were rarely tortured. Evangelical protestant preacher Anne Askew was the exception.

Towards the end of Henry VIII's reign religious factions at court became dangerously polarised and a powerful Catholic clique attempted to bring down the Queen, Katherine Parr, using her suspected links to Askew.

Askew was tortured on the rack, dislocating her elbows and knees and pulling her shoulders and hips from the sockets. Stoic to the last, she refused to talk. Her injuries were so great that she was unable to stand upright and was chained to a chair when she was burned at the stake.

10) Even Elizabeth I was regarded as suspicious.

During Elizabeth's life her Catholic enemies all over Europe spread salacious stories to discredit her. Whether they were imagined, invented or real, we will never know because she left strict instructions that her body after death was not to be subject to autopsy or inspection.

Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
This extreme secrecy around the royal corpse has led to speculation as to what Elizabeth sought to hide. It even gave rise to the implausible notion that she was in fact a man, having died as a girl and been replaced by a male playmate of similar stature and coloring. This is absurd in the extreme but whether she was indeed the Virgin Queen she purported to be, will ever remain a mystery.

By Elizabeth Fremantle ~ Courtesy of express.co.uk
Friday, August 1, 2014

August Releases

This month is all about books. I must read as many as possible. That's my plan.

I'd love to read the following new releases before summer's end.

  PARANORMAL ROMANCE
   

His Forbidden Lady
by Nicola Davidson 
August 11


I'm anxious to read this debut novella set during the reign of Henry VIII. I love me some Tudors!



  PARANORMAL ROMANCE
   

Crave the Night
by Lara Adrian 
August 4


This is the twelfth book in the Midnight Breed series, my favorite vampire novels.


  NEW ADULT 
   

Upside Down by Lia Riley  August 5

I tend to read more YA and New adult novels in the summer.
This first book in the Off the Map series looks good.


What's on your must-read list this month?
Thursday, July 31, 2014

July Wrap-Up

It's August already?!


How is it possible that summer is almost over?


Oh well. At least it's awhile before I have to pack up my flip flops and pull out my boots. So what have I been up to lately? Not a whole heck of a lot, frankly, but that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. Still, it feels like I haven't accomplished anything this past month.


Writing

1) Edits. That's right, I'm still editing WHB. It may seem like it's taking forevah, and it certainly feels like it at times. BUT I am making progress. Seriously.


2) Critiquing and Brainstorming. I critiqued several of my CP's chapters. We then brainstormed ways to make some story elements less cliché and more unique.

3) Logline. I wrote a logline for WHB. 

4) Blog Revamp. I updated my blog design, if you hadn't noticed. ;) I loved the old look, but wanted a design that better reflects my passions. Hence, the fleur de lis.


5) Pen Name. I came up with an alternate pen name, just in case I need it someday.

6) Story Ideas. I plotted story ideas for the novellas I plan to write. I jotted them all down in my writer's notebook.

Personal

1) Life with Puppy. My puppy, Milla, is growing up fast. She's finally sleeping through the night.


Unfortunately the girl likes to wake up at the crack of dawn and is currently in her stubborn stage. It makes for some interesting and frustrating moments. But every second with Milla is a joy. How could it not be? Just look at that face...

Ain't I cute? ;)
2) Scottish Highland Games. My BFF and I attended the Skagit Valley Highland Games the second weekend in July. It's become an annual tradition -- one we had to skip the past two years. Even though it was hotter than hell during the event, we had a blast listening to the pipes, watching the dancers, roaming the grounds, browsing the booths, eating Scottish meat pies, drinking root beer floats, and ogling the kilted competitors.

  Men in kilts!!!

3) Books. I managed to read a couple of books this month. I want to read more in August *crosses fingers*

4) Kitty Meow Meow
. Last weekend my 3-year-old goddaughter threw a birthday party for her grandmother, my BFF. The theme was Kitty Meow Meow. That's my goddaughter's name for Hello Kitty. That's our name for a stripper. ;)

 
How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lash Back

False eyelashes came on the American scene in 1932, and by 1964 they were big business.

Lucille Ball.
Image: weheartvintage.co

For eighty dollars a pair a woman could have her false eyelashes custom-made in mink, sable, or human hair. Or she could go to her local salon and have her lashes put on one by one for a look that lasted several weeks.

By 1968 a false-eyelashed cutie could pick up a pair for a mere $4.98 in a multitude of styles like "standard spiky" or "medium shaggy". She could even have lashes affixed with glitter or wear them three layers deep.

Jessica Pare as Megan Draper, Mad Men (2007-)

And in 1970 she could even put them on in a flash when she overslept with Helena Rubenstein's "Minute Lash", boxed with its very own plastic applicator and glue.

1970's Disco Diva
Image: beautyboxuk.blogspot.com

By the mid-seventies, as the vogue for the "natural look" intensified, the sale of false lashes declined. By the late '80's, women were dying their natural lashes or using no-color mascara--to separate and lengthen their natural lashes, albeit discreetly.

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Monday, July 14, 2014

Seven Habits of Effective Writers

I want to write effectively. Don't you? But how? 


What are the best ways for writers to work smarter, not harder? Barbara Wallace knows. She wrote an article on it, which appeared in the June issue of Romance Writers Report (RWR). She lists seven habits of effective writers. Here's the short version:


Habit #1 - Write First
Make sure writing remains the number one priority. Get new words on paper.

Habit #2 - Establish Structure

Put writing first. Set daily word counts and/or hours. Maintain strict structure.

Habit #3 - Know Yourself
Understand how you work. Set realistic long- and short-term goals.

Habit #4 - Be Judicious

Do what you can when you can to promote your work. Create authentic relationships with readers.

Habit #5 - Strike a Strong Balance

Don't be a workaholic. Make a concentrated effort to build downtime into your schedule.

Habit #6 - Cultivate Strong Support Systems
Surround yourself with people who support you and your goals. You need friends who understand the struggles and isolation you face as a writer.

Habit #7 - Treat Writing as a Small Business
Treat writing as a job rather than a hobby. Plan and study the market.


I wholeheartedly agree with these habits. I've noticed a marked difference in my production and attitude ever since I:

1) set weekly goals.
2) made the effort to write (or do something writerly) every day.
3) viewed my writing as a job.
4) found a CP who I adore and trust.

Chances are you've heard it the wisdom that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Give it a try. What are you waiting for? You can do it!
Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: Celtic Wedding Traditions

I love writing historical romance for lots of reasons, one of which is the research I get to do. The history nerd in me gets all warm and tingly inside when I uncover interesting facts.

CELTIC WEDDING TRADITIONS


Image: thecelticweddingship.co.uk


Celtic weddings were simple and meaningful. Their weddings often took place outside with nature to bless the union. Nature was very important to the Celts. They believed the soul existed within within and outside of an individual. The soul would manifest in the trees, in the rocks, the waters and the sun. Humans and the world around them were intertwined, the soul tied to the spirit of the earth. Their belief in marriage was that two souls would join together so their strengths would be twice as great and hardships only half as hard. Marriage was an institution not to be entered into lightly. It was the union of two souls, two hearts and two minds.

Bravehart (1995)

The Feast was one of the most important aspects of a Celtic wedding. Unlike today where the ceremony and reception are viewed separately, traditional Celtic weddings incorporated everything into one big ceremony. The family and friends of both the bride and groom where there along with members of the community. The Celtic bride was very important. The term bride is Celtic in origin and refers to Bridgid, an exalted goddess of Celtic lore.

The Veil is a very old tradition. Before the bride is veiled she is a maiden. When she wears her veils he becomes a goddess in her own right, she takes on her mystery and feminine powers. When she is unveiled by her groom, she returns to this world changed as her old life has ended and a new one begins.

Natalie Portman as Padmé Amidala
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clone (2002)

The ceremony itself was a very simple ritual called Handfasting. The bride and groom would stand facing each other holding hands and they were bound by a ceremonial rope, cord, or wrap. This is where the term "tying the knot" comes from.

Image: ansgeulaiche.co.uk

This symbolically signified the unity of the couple. There are many variations on how handfastings were performed. They seem to vary throughout the times and regions. Some involved only one cord or rope, others involved up to six. Scottish weddings used a piece of the family tartan to tie the wedded couple.

Many customs specific to Ireland, Scotland, and Brittany survived and are still used today.

The Claddagh Ring is from Ireland. It was named for one of Ireland's oldest fishing villages.

Image: theirishjewelrycompany.com

The Ring Symbolisms
The two hands clutching a heart = friendship
The crown = loyalty or fidelity
Heart = love.

If you're single, custom says you should wear the ring on the right hand facing out. You wear it facing in if you're spoken for. You wear the ring on your left hand if you're engaged. During the wedding ceremony the ring is turned in then turned inward to signify the final devotion of the heart in marriage.

It was customary in Scottish weddings for the groom to pin a piece of his family tartan on the bride after the exchange of rings.

The Love Spoon is a decorated, hand carved wooden spoon that dates from 17th century Wales. A young man would present the spoon to his sweetheart as a token of affection and/or betrothal. It is thought the love spoon represented an early form of an engagement ring, or the acceptance of a serious courtship. The spoon was carved from a single piece of wood.

Image: barringtonlovespoons.co.uk

Hearts symbolized how the couple felt about each other. A horseshoe was for good luck and happiness. The knot symbolized everlasting love. Leaves and vines symbolized growing love. Double spoons indicated the couple would be together forever, while a triple spoon symbolized family. 
 
  -- Courtesy of The Celtic Highlander --
Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Waiting On Wednesday: I Want it That Way

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...

  NEW ADULT
 
I WANT IT THAT WAY
By Ann Aguirre
Harlequin HQN
August 26, 2014
 
Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local daycare to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question.  The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

I'm super excited about this book. I loved Ann Aguirre's romantic sci-fi Jax series. I bet this New Adult series is just as good.


~ Book blurb courtesy of author's website ~
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

WIP Wednesday

July, you sneaked up on me. Where did you come from? Just last May, I was so proud of myself for making writing my top priority. And then...I got a puppy.


These days, life has been fun but hectic. When I should be writing, I'm power napping. Or cleaning. Or ambling around like the Walking Dead.


I'm determined to create a new writing schedule (and start exercising regularly again) this month--or else. I have a story to finish! ASAP!!


As I dive back into my revisions, there's one thing I need to watch out for: Buried Dialogue.

Wait. What?


In my last chapter I buried some dialogue between narrative. If my CP hadn't pointed it out, I probably wouldn't have noticed that a few of my paragraphs looked like this: narrative, dialogue, narrative. See why it's vital to find yourself a good CP? She'll notice things you miss.

It's always best to eliminate Buried Dialogue because:

1) Buried dialogue slows the pace.
2) Dialogue can lose its oomph when squished between two narratives.

Here's an example of Buried Dialogue (courtesy of Lynettelabelle.com):

She lifted a tissue to her nose and blew. "He's gone." Her voice quivered almost as much as her hand.

This line is stronger when you remove the buried dialogue:
She lifted a tissue to her nose and blew.
"He's gone." Her voice quivered almost as much as her hand.


So how do you eliminate buried dialogue? By moving things around so the dilogue is at the front or end of the narration. Easy peasy, huh.