Friday, December 19, 2014

My Friday Love


Things I loved this past week...


Hart of Dixie.
Good news Bluebell fans...Hart of Dixie returned on Tuesday. Squeeee! This is the best early Christmas gift ever! I adore this show, it's cast, and Zade (aka Zoey and Wade).


I can't wait to see what's in store for these kooky characters. They make me smile, laugh, cry, ooo, and aww every week.

Gift Wrapping.
I spent all Sunday morning wrapping Christmas gifts. It put me in a holiday mood.



A Sweet Treat.
My hubby bought me a Christmas cupcake from our favorite bakery.



Blue Labyrinth.
I'm currently reading Blue Labyrinth, the fourteenth book in the Special Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I don't usually read a lot of thrillers, but I never miss a Pendergast novel. I love this series and the entire cast of characters. The plots are always engaging, and Pendergast is one of my all-time favorite characters.

The first book, Relic, was made into a movie sans Pendergast. I'd love to see all of the books made into a TV mini series. I've always thought Paul Bettany would make the perfect Pendergast.

Hallmark Christmas Movies. I serious have a problem. I'm addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies. I've been watching them since Halloween.


Sure, the plots and characters in these movies are predictable and formulaic, but I don't care. I love 'em. The guys are adorable. The girlfriends are cool. The stories are all about hope, love, romance, second chances, and new beginnings. And they put me in the holiday mood. What's not to love?

What are you loving this week? Do share!
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I've been so caught up in the Christmas crunch, I forgot to do a writing update these past two weeks.


Needless to say, it's a busy time of the year. I may have become a blog slacker, but I'm still working on my WIP and trying to write every day. The latter has been a challenge, given all of the holiday events on my calendar. However, I've done quite well. I've only taken four days off from writing this month.


All is going well with my story. I'm over halfway through and nearly finished with my revisions, my CP seems to like my chapters, and only minor revisions have been required. As of yesterday, my revised word count is at 24,610 -- only 15,390 shy of my projected length. I'm very pleased. I love my story and my characters.

I'm neck deep in a file folder full of notes as I tackle my next chapter. It's slow going, but it's going.

 

I plan to work hard all the way up until Christmas Eve. I want to finish this book!
Monday, December 1, 2014

December Releases



  HISTORICAL ROMANCE
 
TO KISS A KILTED WARRIOR
Claimed by the Highlander, Book 3
By Rowan Keats
December 2, 2014


Shunned by her village, weaver Morag Cameron lives a solitary existence in the woods—until the night she finds a sorely wounded Highlander by the loch. Under her care, the handsome warrior slowly recovers his strength, but his memories have disappeared. Morag is torn. For if she helps him regain his past, she may sacrifice a life with the man she has come to love...

Wulf MacCurran wants nothing more than to claim Morag as his own, but his past holds too many dangerous secrets—secrets that put them both in mortal danger. He must discover who attacked him and left him for dead. Traveling to Edinburgh, Wulf and Morag find themselves swept into a mystery with the power to determine the fate of their passions—and change Scotland forever... . 


I liked the first book in this series.  


AN OATH TAKENAn Oath Trilogy, Book 1
By Diana Cosby
December 8, 2014


As the new castellan, Sir Nicholas Beringar has the daunting task of rebuilding Ravenmoor Castle on the Scottish borderlands and gaining the trust of the locals—one of whom wastes no time in trying to rob him. But instead of punishing the boy, Nicholas decides to make him his squire. Little does he know the thieving young lad is really…a lady.

Lady Elizabet Armstrong had donned a disguise in an attempt to free her brother from Ravenmoor’s dungeons. And though intimidated by the confident Englishman with his well-honed muscles and beguiling eyes, she cannot refuse his offer.

Nicholas senses that his new squire is not what he seems. His gentle attempts to break through the boy’s defenses leave Elizabet powerless to stem the desire that engulfs her. And when the truth is laid bare, she’ll have to trust in Nicholas’s honor to help her people—and to surrender to his touch…


Hooray for medievals!
 



  NEW ADULT

WICKED
Wicked Trilogy, Book 1

By Jennifer L. Armentrout
December 8, 2014


Twenty-two year old Ivy Morgan isn’t your average college student. She, and others like her, know humans aren’t the only thing trolling the French Quarter for fun… and for food. Her duty to the Order is her life. After all, four years ago, she lost everything at the hands of the creatures she’d sworn to hunt, tearing her world and her heart apart.

Ren Owens is the last person Ivy expected to enter her rigidly controlled life. He’s six feet and three inches of temptation and swoon-inducing charm. With forest-green eyes and a smile that’s surely left a stream of broken hearts in its wake, he has an uncanny, almost unnatural ability to make her yearn for everything he has to offer. But letting him in is as dangerous as hunting the cold-blooded killers stalking the streets. Losing the boy she loved once before had nearly destroyed her, but the sparking tension that grows between them becomes impossible for Ivy to deny. Deep down, she wants… she needs more than what her duty demands of her, what her past has shaped for her.

But as Ivy grows closer to Ren, she realizes she’s not the only one carrying secrets that could shatter the frail bond between them. There’s something he’s not telling her, and one thing is for certain. She’s no longer sure what is more dangerous to her—the ancient beings threatening to take over the town or the man demanding to lay claim to her heart and her soul.

I love this author's voice. I also love that this New Adult trilogy is set in New Orleans.

What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.
Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Wrap-Up


Only one more day until December! Only 24 days left until Christmas Eve!
 

Christmas always been my favorite holiday. Not just my favorite holiday, actually, but my favorite time of the year. So I'm in good spirits, despite the fact that I couldn't attend the annual Christmas Tree Cutting Adventure with my BFFs this year. Here's what I did do...

Writing


1) Write Every Day Challenge. I wrote every single day during the month of November.


It wasn't always easy, especially on the weekends, but I was determined to meet the challenge head on. And I did. In fact, I exceeded my goal. I started my challenge a little early, which added four extra days to my total count. To date, I've written 34 days straight. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to sit down at the computer and write over the Thanksgiving weekend, as I was out of town. On those days, I wrote in my writer's notebook instead.

2) Pep Talk. Not even halfway through my Write Every Day Challenge, I got discouraged.


 Not about the task itself, but by a tough round of revisions. My CP, Natalie Murphy, pulled me back from the dark side with a much-needed pep talk.



Of course, Natalie said exactly what I needed to hear.


By the end of our conversation I was pumped and ready to tackle my revisions.

3) Night Owl No More
. I'm a night owl. I don't like getting up early. Never have, never will. I like to stay up late to write, when the house is dark and quiet. Unfortunately, I can't do it anymore. Why? Well, this month I stayed up late writing too many days in a row, and the lack of sleep took it's toll on me. 



I looked like The Walking Dead. So did my revised chapter. If I didn't know better, I'd swear I was drunk writing that week.



All the new words I added to my chapter were just plain awful. And I was...



I was not happy. So I decided I will be a night owl no more. Apparently my brain doesn't function well on five hours of sleep. Go figure. ;)

4) Critiques Galore. I critiqued several of my CP's chapters. Her story is such a joy to work on. I can't wait until it's out in the world for everyone to read.

Personal

1) Puppy Drama. My puppy, Milla, was spayed this month. The surgery and recovery went well. Milla didn't have to wear the Cone of Shame, because she didn't lick her incision -- not even once!


Yep, she's a good girl. She's also very hyper. It wasn't easy to keep her calm while she recovered. All Milla wanted to do was run and romp around with her squeaky toy. Oy!

I'm still working on training her to walk on a leash. It's not easy. Milla is one stubborn Doxie.

2) Fall Back in Time. The Historical Romance Network hosted a social media event on November 1st called Fall Back in Time with Historical Romance. Readers were asked to post selfies while reading a historical romance novel. Such a fun idea, huh. I had a great time taking photos and posting them on Facebook and Twitter. Here are a couple of my favorites...

Milla knows every girl needs romance.
Shhh! Sawyer is reading a historical romance.

Forget hammers and heater parts! I want to read romance!
3) Books. I finished a few books this month, though not as many as I'd hoped to read. I'm 18 books short of reaching my yearly goal. There's no way I can read that many books by the end of December, soooo... Maybe next year.

4) Thanksgiving.
Today my hubby, the Doxies, and I are on our way home from Oregon, where we spent Thanksgiving with my big sister and her family. We had a wonderful time together. I can't wait to see them all again.

How was your month? Did you do anything fun or noteworthy? Do share!
Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WIP Wednesday

It's been nineteen days since my Write Every Day Challenge began, and mission accomplished! I'm done.


I wish I could report that I've finished my revisions. But no. I have, however, worked on my WIP for 24 days in a row.


And I've learned something: the published authors who say you should write every day are not fools.


Writing every day has made a huge difference in my progress and my focus. I feel more connected to my characters and my story, and more determined to finish my revisions. It's a great feeling.



So I will do my damndest to keep writing every day for the rest of the year. And perhaps in 2015, too.
Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Releases


  HISTORICAL ROMANCE
 
ROGUE SPY 
By Joanna Bourne
November 4, 2014


Ten years ago, he was a boy, given the name 'Thomas Paxton' and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service.  Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he's given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.
 
Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he's holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.
Old friendship turns to new love and Pax and Camille's dark secrets loom up from the past. Pax is left with the choice — go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever. 

I've yet to read a Joanna Bourne romance. I need to read this one! 



LADY ELINOR'S WICKED ADVENTURES
Victorian Adventures, Book One
By Lillian Marek
November 4, 2014

Lady Elinor is searching for treasure
The intrepid Lady Elinor Tremaine is caught up in the Victorian fervor for exploring distant lands. Her travels throw her back in the company of an old friend-this time, far from the security of polite society.

And uncovering the secrets of her own heart
Harry de Vaux, Viscount Tunbury, has loved Lady Elinor for as long as he can remember- but his family's sordid background put her completely out of his reach. Prowling through Etruscan ruins in Italy with Elinor is exquisite torture. She is so close, and so forbidden...

I'm intrigued by any romance that has the H/H prowling through ruins in Italy.



  NEW ADULT
 
CAGED IN WINTER
By Brighton Walsh
November 4, 2014
 

Aspiring chef Cade Maxwell is immediately, viscerally attracted to Winter Jacobson. But it’s not her mouth-watering curves he’s drawn to—it’s the strange emptiness in her eyes. When Cade saves her from a drunken customer with grabby-hands, he’s shocked at her response…

Winter doesn’t need Cade’s help. After a lifetime of getting by on her own, she’s happy to rely on herself. She’s exactly seventy-six days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt.

But now, every time she turns around Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up—especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want…

I like a good New Adult novel.

 

  THRILLER
 
BLUE LABYRINTH
Special Agent Pendergast Series #14
By Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
November 11, 2014


A long-buried family secret resurfaces when one of Aloysius Pendergast’s most implacable enemies shows up on his doorstep as a murdered corpse. The mystery has all the hallmarks of the perfect murder, save for an enigmatic clue: a piece of turquoise lodged in the stomach of the deceased. The gem leads Pendergast to an abandoned mine on the shore of California’s desolate Salton Sea, which in turn propels him on a journey of discovery deep into his family’s sinister past.

But Pendergast learns there is more at work than a ghastly episode of family history: he is soon stalked by a subtle killer bent on vengeance over an ancient transgression. In short order, Pendergast is caught in a wickedly clever plot, which will leave him stricken in mind and body…and may well end with his death.

I already have this book on hold at the library. I love this series!



What's on your must-read list this month? Do share!

Book blurbs from authors' website.
Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Matchmaking Traditions


Happy Halloween!

Many ancient Halloween traditions focused on the future instead of the past and the living instead of the dead. In particular, many had to do with helping young women identify their future husbands and reassuring them that they would someday–with luck, by next Halloween!–be married.


In 18th-century Ireland, a matchmaking cook might bury a ring in her mashed potatoes on Halloween night, hoping to bring true love to the diner who found it. In Scotland, fortune-tellers recommended that an eligible young woman name a hazelnut for each of her suitors and then toss the nuts into the fireplace. The nut that burned to ashes rather than popping or exploding, the story went, represented the girl’s future husband. (In some versions of this legend, confusingly, the opposite was true: The nut that burned away symbolized a love that would not last.)


Another tale had it that if a young woman ate a sugary concoction made out of walnuts, hazelnuts and nutmeg before bed on Halloween night, she would dream about her future husband. Young women tossed apple-peels over their shoulders, hoping that the peels would fall on the floor in the shape of their future husbands’ initials; tried to learn about their futures by peering at egg yolks floating in a bowl of water; and stood in front of mirrors in darkened rooms, holding candles and looking over their shoulders for their husbands’ faces.


Other rituals were more competitive. At some Halloween parties, the first guest to find a burr on a chestnut-hunt would be the first to marry; at others, the first successful apple-bobber would be the first down the aisle.


To find out of your lover is true, select one of the letters which you have received from your sweetheart, especially one which contains a particularly passionate and important declaration; lay it wide open upon a table and then fold it nine times. Pin the folds together, place the letter in your left-hand glove, and slip it under your pillow. If on that night you dream of silver, gems, glass, castles or clear water, your lover is true and his declarations are genuine; if you dream of linen, storms, fire, wood, flowers, or he is saluting you, he is false and has been deceiving you.

Courtesy of superstitionsonline.com
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WIP Wednesday


My writerly challenge for November is to write every single day, no excuses. I want need to finish my revisions on Wild Highland Bride by mid-December. I want need this story to be done! I know I can do it.

 

The one exception is Thanksgiving weekend, since I'll be out of town visiting family. I wish I could bring my laptop along and sequester myself in my nephew's bedroom, where I'd find some much-needed peace and quiet. However, that's not possible. For one thing, it's anti-social. Plus, I want to hang with my big sis and her family. I miss them. 

So, except for those few days, I'll be writing, writing, writing until my fingers just can't type. #challengeaccepted
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WIP Wednesday


NaNoWriMo officially beings on November 1st? Are you writing a novel in a month? I'm not.


I never do. Why? Well, 50k words in a month is a big commitment. Do I want to put myself under that kind of pressure during a busy holiday month?



It's not that I don't like goals or daily word counts. I'm just not the type of writer who wants to rush wildly through my first draft under a time crunch like NaNo. It's a great tool, though. If it's right for you then...


Next month I will be focused on editing my current WIP.
Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fun Fact Saturday: Five Things You Probably Didn't Know About Swear Words


Four-letter words have been around since the days of our forebears—and their forebears, too.


In Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing (Oxford University Press, 2013), medieval literature expert Melissa Mohr traces humans’ use of naughty language back to Roman times. Here are five talking points from her opus for your next (presumably, pretty edgy) cocktail hour.  


Some of today’s most popular swear words have been around for more than a thousand years.
“S— is an extremely old word that’s found in Anglo-Saxon texts,” Mohr says. What English-speakers now call asses and farts can also be traced back to the Anglo-Saxons, she adds, though in those times the terms wouldn’t have been considered as impolite as they are today.

The ancient Romans laid the groundwork for modern day f-bombs.
There are two main kinds of swear words, says Mohr: oaths—like taking the Lord’s name in vain—and obscene words, like sexual and racial slurs. The Romans gave us a model for the obscene words, she says, because their swearing was similarly based on sexual taboos, though with a different spin.


“The Romans didn’t divide people up [by being heterosexual and homosexual],” she says. “They divided people into active and passive. So what was important was to be the active partner.” Hence, sexual slurs were more along the lines words like pathicus, a rather graphic term which basically means receiver.


In the Medieval era, oaths were believed to physically injure Jesus Christ.
In the Middle Ages, Mohr says, certain vain oaths were believed to actually tear apart the ascended body of Christ, as he sat next to his Father in heaven. Phrases that incorporated body parts, like swearing “by God’s bones” or “by God’s nails,” were looked upon as a kind of opposite to the Catholic eucharist—the ceremony in which a priest is said to conjure Christ’s physical body in a wafer and his blood in wine.


 However, obscene words were no big deal.
“The sexual and excremental words were not charged, basically because people in the Middle Ages had much less privacy than we do,” Mohr explains, “so they had a much less advanced sense of shame.” Multiple people slept in the same beds or used privies at the same time, so people observed each other in the throes of their, er, natural functions much more frequently—which made the mention of them less scandalous.

People in the “rising middle class” use less profanity.
“Bourgeois people” typically swear the least, Mohr says. “This goes back to the Victorian era idea that you get control over your language and your deportment, which indicates that you are a proper, good person and this is a sign of your morality and awareness of social rules,” she explains.


The upper classes, she says, have been shown to swear more, however: while “social strivers” mind their tongues, aristocrats have a secure position in society, so they can say whatever they want — and may even make a show of doing so.


Courtesy of newsfeed.time.com
Friday, October 17, 2014

My Friday Love


Things I loved this past week...

The Walking Dead
. After months and months of waiting, The Walking Dead finally premiered on Sunday night, and it was fantastic!!! There were so many nail-biting moments!


First the trough and then the explosion, followed by a badass rescue, Walkers galore, and the most amazing reunion ever. I screamed. I cheered. I cried.


And then the episode ended with a surprising sneak peek. Bye, bye Terminus. Hello God-only-knows what. Gah! I can't wait until next week's episode!!


The Talking Dead. Sunday nights wouldn't be the same without The Talking Dead, the live talk show in which awesome host Chris Hardwick discusses the newest Walking Dead episode. 
Could they have Conan O'Brien on every week, pleeease? He was hilarious.



The Lone Warrior
. I picked up my latest library hold last week. I couldn't wait to crack open The Lone Warrior, the third book in the Once Upon a Time in the West series by Lori Austin.


I've been wanting to read this book all year. I don't know what took me so long to pick it up. I thoroughly enjoyed the other books in the series. Just like them, The Lone Warrior is terrific. I can't put it down. It's such a strong story with the right mix of western grit, history, adventure, and romance.

Mulled Cider Candles. I love the scent of hot mulled cider. It smells just like the holidays.


I found the perfect mulled cider scented candles at my town's local hardware store. Yep, hardware store. They recently remodeled the store and added a lovely gift section. I can't remember the brand of candles, but they're my favorite. They make my house smell wonderful.

What are you loving this week? Do share!