Monday, September 1, 2014

September Releases

I heart Fall. The air is brisk. The nights are cool. Fingerless gloves are in fashion. It's not even the first official day of Fall, and I already have the urge to eat soup, drink hot apple cider, watch football, wear a cardigan, carve a pumpkin, crunch dried leaves under my booted feet.

And read a new book or two, of course. ;)


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE
 
MY HIGHLAND SPY
Highland Spies, Book One
By Victoria Roberts
September 2, 2014


Laird Ruairi Sutherland refuses to send his only son away to be educated by the English. And he most definitely will not appear in Edinburgh to pay homage to a liege who has no respect for Scotland. So he does what any laird would do-he lies to the king. The last thing Ruairi expects is a beautiful English governess to appear on his doorstep.


Lady Ravenna Walsingham is a seasoned spy who is sent to the savage Highlands to uncover a nefarious plot against the Crown. Playing the part of an English governess-a job easier said than done-she infiltrates the home of Laird Sutherland, a suspected conspirator.

Ravenna soon discovers that the only real threat Sutherland poses is to her heart. But will the proud Highland laird ever forgive her when he discovers the woman he loves in an English spy?

Gosh, this cover is gorgeous. I love all that purple. *slobbers*



  YOUNG ADULT
 
ILLUSIONS OF FATE
By Kiersten White
September 9, 2014


Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets the gorgeous, enigmatic Finn, who introduces her to the secret world of Albion's nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn't -- power, money, status...and magic.

But Finn has secrets of his own, and the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess them. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits, can stop him.

I love a hero named Finn -- especially a gorgeous, enigmatic one from a secret world. ;)



WINTERSPELL
By Claire Legrand
September 30, 2014

The clock chimes midnight, a curse breaks, and a girl meets a prince . . . but what follows is not all sweetness and sugarplums.

New York City, 1899. Clara Stole, the mayor’s ever-proper daughter, leads a double life. Since her mother’s murder, she has secretly trained in self-defense with the mysterious Drosselmeyer.

Then, on Christmas Eve, disaster strikes.

Her home is destroyed, her father abducted–by beings distinctly not human. To find him, Clara journeys to the war-ravaged land of Cane. Her only companion is the dethroned prince Nicholas, bound by a wicked curse. If they’re to survive, Clara has no choice but to trust him, but his haunted eyes burn with secrets–and a need she can’t define. With the dangerous, seductive faery queen Anise hunting them, Clara soon realizes she won’t leave Cane unscathed–if she leaves at all.

OMG. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this book, inspired by
The Nutcracker.


OF MONSTERS AND MADNESS

By Jessica Verday
September 9, 2014

Summoned to Philadelphia after her mother's death, seventeen-year old Annabel Lee hopes this new start will be her chance to make her dream of  becoming a surgeon a reality.

But there are dark secrets in Annabel's new home: whispers of strange activity, unsavory characters making deliveries in the dead of night, and a wave of murders sweeping the city. And when her father deems her interest in medicine unseemly and forbids her from practicing, she's determined to prove him wrong.

With the help of handsome laboratory assistant Allan Poe and his unsettling cousin, Edgar, Annabel probes into her father's research. But the links she discovers between the experiments being conducted, the stories Allan writes late into the night, and her new city's gruesome crimes can be no coincidence. And she'll sacrifice everything to stop them.

Ooo. So dark and gothic. Yes, please!


DOLLS
By Kiki Sullivan
September 2, 2014

Eveny Cheval has just moved back to Louisiana after spending her childhood in New York with her aunt Bea. Eveny hasn’t seen her hometown since her mother’s suicide fourteen years ago, and her memories couldn’t have prepared her for what she encounters. Because pristine, perfectly manicured Carrefour has a dark side full of intrigue, betrayal, and lies—and Eveny quickly finds herself at the center of it all.
Enter Peregrine Marceau, Chloe St. Pierre, and their group of rich, sexy friends collectively known as the Dolls. From sipping champagne at lunch to hooking up with the hottest guys, Peregrine and Chloe have everything—including an explanation for what’s going on in this town. They want to bring Eveny into their circle, share their darkest truths with her, introduce her to handsome, enigmatic Caleb Shaw. And Eveny doesn’t trust them one bit.

But after murder strikes in Carrefour and Eveny discovers that everything she believes about herself, her family, and her life is a lie, she’s forced to turn to the Dolls for answers. Something’s wrong in paradise, and it’s up to Eveny, Chloe, and Peregrine to save Carrefour and make it right.

Pretty Little Liars meets Beautiful Creatures. Cool.



What's on your must-read list? 

Book blurbs from authors' websites.
Sunday, August 31, 2014

August Wrap-Up

I'm sad that summer is over. I don't feel like I did enough summery things this month. And now it's time to put my flip flops and beach chair in storage.


Oh well. *shrugs* August wasn't a total waste.

Writing

1) Revisions. I edited more chapters of WHB. I'm halfway through my revisions. If I work hard in September, I'll meet my deadline. *fingers crossed*


2) Updated Images. I updated my Twitter and Facebook cover images. I also updated all of the photos on this blog's WIP pages with royalty free images.

3) Blog Posts. I wrote and scheduled some blog posts for September.

4) Research Books
. I discovered a few research books that I want to buy.

5) Pinterest. I add new inspiration boards to my Pinterest account. I adore Pinterest. I know some people view it as a huge time suck.


I agree that it can be a bad thing if you don't monitor your usage closely. For me, Pinterest is a just-before-bed activity that both relaxes and inspires me. 
 

Personal

1) Portland. My BFF and I took a day trip to Portland, Oregon on the second weekend of the month. We met up with my big sis and BIL for a fun-filled afternoon. We went to the Farmer's Market, to VooDoo doughnut, and to Powell's bookstore. We had dinner with my cousin, who'd just flown in from Texas for business meeting.

GRIMM set sighting!
Me at the Governor Hotel
Pocket Jamie got in on the fun, too. He looked verra braw in Portland. ;)

Feeling spicy in Portland with my BFF and Pocket Jamie.

2) Vet Visit
. I took my puppy Milla to the vet for her second round of vaccinations. She did very well. She only piddled a wee bit (right on my hubby) when she was confronted by a big dog in the waiting room.


Milla got on the scale at the vet, and we discovered that she weighs 8.6 pounds. My hubby and I weren't surprised. Milla is a big girl. She's twice the size of our other Mini Doxies at that age.

She's still learning how to walk on a leash without pulling. It's a slow process. Good thing my hubby has the patience of a saint.

3) Outlander
. I am (like half the women I know) addicted to Outlander. I've waited a loooong time for this book to become a mini series, and the wait has been worth it. Sam and Caitriona are perfect as Jamie and Claire.


God, this scene was SO HOT. I can't wait until they smooch and more!!!



4) Books. I haven't read enough books this month.


IKR! Sad, sad news. I've simply been too focused on my writing lately. I have 20 novellas loaded on my Kindle, and I intend to read all of them in September (along with a couple of novels).


How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!
Friday, August 29, 2014

My Friday Love

Things I loved this past week...

Social Networking. I love Facebook and Twitter. But only on days ending in the letter "y".


These social networking sites keep me connected with other writers, most of whom live far away from me (like my CP). It's so convenient and fun to go on Facebook and Twitter to stay in touch with good friends, especially the ones who share my passion for books and writing.

Doris Day. I'm a big fan of movies, old and new. This week I watched The Thrill of It All (1963) starring James Garner and Doris Day. I adore her.


1) Her wardrobe is amazing. 2) Her voice is stunning. 3) Her characters are all smart and strong-willed but also sweet and sexy. 4) She throws the best stompy tantrums. 5) She's classy and brilliant. 6) She's a cultural icon.  

Red Pens. I used to dislike red pens. What kid wouldn't after she gets a report back from her school teacher all covered in comments and red marks? These days, I love my red pens. I use them all the time.

Image: reganleigh.com
Red pens are nice to use when I edit my own work or cross out stuff in my writer's notebook.

Long Weekends. Oh long weekends how I love thee, let me count the ways.

I love staying up late. I love sleeping in on lazy mornings. I love afternoons spent reading a good book. I love long walks in the sunshine. I love lunch dates. I love spending extra time with my hubby. I love visiting my parents.

I love long weekends!


What are you loving this week?
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Adjust. Revise. Rewrite. Step by step. Page by page.


Check. Check. Check. I'm getting my revisions on. But it's taking for-evah. Gah!


I'm in Revision Hell. *deep breaths*

 

Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration. Things aren't that bad. Really. I enjoy revisions. Seriously. Unfortunately, it's taking me a lot longer to whip this chapter into shape than I expected. First, I struggled with some dialogue. Then I realized I needed more details -- just a wee bit more movement to ground the characters in the scene. That took more days than I wanted. I wasn't trying to make the words perfect. Honest. I just needed to put them where they belonged. Once I did that, I moved on.

 

The biggest challenge has been the opening for my heroine's POV. It took me a whole lot of brain power and several drafts before I finally wrote an opening I could live with. That happened Monday. 

I had hoped to surprise my CP with two completed chapters when she returns from her beach vacation this weekend. Yeah, that's not going to happen. 

 
Revisions are hard. I need chocolate. STAT.


On the bright side, I'm satisfied with everything I've written so far. And I feel a sense of accomplishment because I pushed myself to keep revising when I felt like giving up. Yay me. ;)

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