Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear CW

Dear CW,

Not to be too blunt about it but...what the hell were you thinking?!

In good faith, thousands and thousands of viewers waited for TWO MONTHS while Supernatural was on hiatus. That was a long time to patiently wonder if Sam Winchester's soul could be restored without destroying him. That was an even longer time not to see Dean Winchester's black-leather-jacket-wearing torso and smoldering and/or smirking facial expressions. Yet, most of us did not whine on message boards or complain openly on blogs or do other such things that would be proof of our geekdom and over-obsessiveness because, hey, we're adults. We can wait and look forward to -- with great anticipation -- getting to see the climactic last few months of the final season.

We were told January 28th was the return date. We believed you. We turned on our televisions Friday night at 8pm, gleefully awaiting the next battle between angels and demons...the next road trip in the black '67 Chevy Impala with classic metal rock blaring...the next possible occasion for one of the Winchester brothers to take his shirt off...and, instead, we got: a Nikita rerun.

Not. A. Smart. Move. CW.

Now, I understand the desire to promote a new show. I understand that it's difficult to turn viewers on to something that's debuting this season rather than see them reach reflexively for an old favorite that's been on for SIX seasons (of which I have not yet missed an episode) and is now winding down. In the writing world, though, this would be an unforgiveable bait and switch. Imagine thinking you were downloading the latest New York Times bestselling thriller onto your Kindle or Nook and, instead, you got the debut suspense release of a newbie. Does that mean the newbie's book is bad and/or not worth reading? NO. It is not, however, what you thought you were getting and what you'd planned to invest your time in. And, what's worse, it smacks of Big Brother manipulation in the "I know what you need better than you do" vein.

For the record, I kinda hate that.

I don't forgive you for doing this, CW, because it was premeditated trickery. I won't go so far as to rant about how you have no respect for your fans or, more personally, about how you deprived me of an anticipated night of fun watching Castiel say absurdly delightful one-liners or make out with hapless mortal women in imitation of "adult" movies viewed in a motel room (taking a deep breath here), but your ploy backfired big time. I will not be watching Nikita just because you want me to -- no offense to the writers or the cast -- and to add an Austenesque exclamation of horror to this grievous affair, "I am most seriously displeased."


p.s. I understand your Smallville fans share my sentiment as well...

Dear Everyone Else,
Aside from this regrettable television-network incident, I had a great weekend and hope you all did, too. What d'ya do??
~M. ;)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Unexpected Gifts

This is a REAL picture!

Although I keep having a Magritte moment whenever I look at it (and saying "This is not a pipe" as in The Treachery of Images), I was assured of its authenticity by its photographer, suspense author Shawn Grady. Shawn's faith-based thrillers have been praised by Booklist and his upcoming third novel, Falls Like Lightning (Bethany House, July 2011), showed up on Amazon's Christian Mystery bestseller list this week -- congrats! He's a real-life firefighter and paramedic in Reno, NV and, while I don't know him at all beyond our Facebook connection, he comes across online as a very kind and genuine guy...

Which was why I was (eventually) persuaded to believe him when he told me he'd seen my book on this shelf at a Raley's grocery store in northern Nevada. That, no, he didn't Photoshop the image of my book cover onto someone else's novel. That he didn't even physically prop it up on the shelf (putting it in the same vicinity as Dickens, no less!) before pulling out his camera phone. Thing is, even when I thought Shawn had somehow crafted the picture, I considered it an awesomely cool gesture that a fellow author I'd never met, writing in a genre quite different from mine, would take the time to send it to me.

Gift 1: The surprising and sometimes heartwarming sense of connectedness that can happen between strangers thanks to social networks.

I've been blogging regularly for nearly 4 years, on Facebook for 2 years and struggling to figure out Twitter for a little over 1 year. (Someday, I'll really get it...maybe. ;) Understanding, intellectually, why it's a good idea for an author to have a Web presence is one thing; feeling an overwhelming sense of gratitude at making wonderful friends online is altogether another. I've now had the pleasure of meeting in person many of the friends who visit me here, but I haven't forgotten that it was Blogger or FB that first introduced us.

Of course, because you all know me, you also know the truth: I am not a New York Times bestseller. (Not yet, anyway...trust me, if that ever happens, I'll make a point of announcing it, enthusiastically, and with MUCH celebratory chocolate.) Not being on that list right now, though, is a stone-cold fact -- verifiable in black-and-white newsprint -- even if the definition of "Famous Author" is a bit squishier and more of a judgment call. From my point of view, however, I can say with certainty that even our nearest neighbors wouldn't consider me famous for anything other than not being able to keep the hanging plants on our front porch alive for more than a week. But, hey, if some kindly (though misguided) store clerk across the country wants to put me in the "famous" category, who am I to object?!

Gift 2: Knowing that some truths are purely subjective.

My reality is that, no matter what my age, I'll always feel about 16. No matter how mature I (supposedly) am, I'll still squeal like a fangirl if I ever get to go to a U2 or Bon Jovi concert. (Pamela Cayne, you know it's true. ;) I seriously doubt I'll ever stop thinking of pizza and brownies as a perfect -- albeit high-carb -- meal. And, regardless of where my books rank on the sales spectrum, I suspect it would take J.K. Rowling- or Stephenie Meyer-like levels of success before I could ever keep a straight face at being called famous. Which is not to say that I didn't get a little giddy when seeing that bookshelf header this week. Not only because my second novel was placed just beneath it, but because of something far simpler: My book is in Nevada! It's a thousand miles away! It exists even when I can't see or touch it...

Gift 3: Never getting over that sense of amazement that people other than my family members and critique partners are reading my novels.

You'd think after finishing three publishable books that I'd be used to the routine and even a little bored by it these days. Blah, blah, blah, blah, copy edits...blah, blah...page proofs...and then ARCs, ho hum...and final printed copies. But, actually, no. It's still crazy-exciting just knowing my stories are Out There. Knowing someone out grocery shopping -- in another time zone -- might just pick it up, put it in her cart and take it home to read. Priceless.

So, thanks, Shawn, for the picture. And thanks to everyone else for letting me share it. Wishing you all a fabulous weekend! I know we're still a full week away from Super Bowl XLV, but I'm curious -- who are you all cheering for? Packers or Steelers? (I was born and raised in Wisconsin, so I'm trying to find my Cheesehead hat...)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Malena Lott Shares Thoughts on Being In Between

I'm thrilled to have one of my Girlfriends Book Club pals, Malena Lott, visiting here today and guest blogging for us! Malena is an award-winning writer and the author of three novels. Her latest release, FIXER UPPER, is available in the Kindle store and other digital formats. She writes on how to "verbinize" your life all year long at www.malenalott.com and lives in Oklahoma with her husband, three kids, and dog.

Welcome, Malena! We're delighted to have you here today ;).

Are You In Between? by Malena Lott

Life can be a bitch for a while if you're in between. I'm not talking anything as drastic as a sex change operation (though that would qualify), but about becoming who you want to be. Sometimes we fight it for a long while. Sometimes the Universe throws us for a loop - an unexpected divorce or death in the family or unplanned pregnancy. Other times our awakening is a quiet whisper.

In my third novel, FIXER UPPER, Macy Baxter has the third type - a niggling feeling that her husband no longer loves her though he's the king of catches: handsome, well-bred, charming, a rising star in his political party. Macy married young, had two girls, and became a stay-at-home mom in a wealthy suburb, happily playing the politician's wife - wearing what she was supposed to wear, saying what she was supposed to say, attending all the right functions with all the right people.

Although it sounds logical that "playing" someone will eventually catch up with us, it can be hard to identify it in ourselves. We are so caught up with our "busy-ness" that we often don't connect the dots to why we are depressed or smile less or feel fulfilled.

As an author, I do allow myself "me time" because how else could I write this post? How else could I sit down and write an entire book? It doesn't happen all at once, but with a hell-or-high-water attitude, we can get our goal accomplished. I'll admit that the in-between stage is the toughest. If you are in between projects or on submission or waiting for any sort of big news is your life, it can make you feel restless and agitated. But when we realize that we are ALWAYS in between something and that it's not the goal line we're after but enjoying the ride (even if it's a bumpy one), it can really help with nerves.

Thanks so much, Malena! I think it's easy, especially with the demands of life, work and family, to get caught up on all the details that we forget to take time for ourselves. Time to take stock and figure out what we really want and need. Thanks for the reminder... And, everyone, if you have a chance, take a peek at Malena's contest page before 1/31/11 to find out how to win her January prize package. Lots of good stuff there!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blog Visits & Awards

Good Morning! Happy Monday! Just a quick note that I'm over at the Chick Lit Writers of the World blog today, thanks to the kind invitation of Melina Kantor! But I'll be back here tomorrow to host a guest visit with the lovely Malena Lott, and I'm still visiting Spirited Woman for a few more days and talking about romance novels vs. real life.

Also, special thanks to Brittany Roshelle of The Write Stuff for bestowing this lovely award on my blog! As per the rules, I'm supposed to tell the world 7 things about me and pass it along to my fellow bloggers. (I'm sharing it with any of you who would like to participate. ;)

So, 7 things:
1. I'm 5'3" (almost). One time when I went to a book-club meeting as the visiting author, some woman I'd just met looked at me strangely and said, "I thought you'd be taller." I looked at her strangely in return and said, "Yeah, I thought so, too."
2. I make up book titles when I dream.
3. I find the smell of pickled herring to be revolting. Yet, my husband eats it in front of me anyway.
4. I only studied Russian for one semester in college -- they didn't offer it at my university until my last year -- but I loved it and still remember how to sing this one drinking song. I do not, however, remember what the words mean.
5. I'm fascinated by hockey players fighting on the ice. How do they keep their balance?
6. I am NEVER in the mood for dusting.
7. When I look at a digital clock, I immediately check to see if it's a workable equation (i.e., 2:36pm is 2x3=6, but 1:09am is just an imbalanced set of numbers, and I'm annoyed with them until it's 1:10, or 1-1=0). My brother -- the statistics guy! -- claims this is an odd reaction to telling time and he would like me to get over it. Is he right? (So far I haven't listened, LOL.)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Giveaway Winners & a Magical Visit

First and foremost, CONGRATS to the two winners of Laura Moore's drawing for Believe in Me: Debra St. John and Robin Bielman!! I'll confirm address details with you both via email and send along the info to Laura so she can mail the books out to you. I know you'll enjoy the story!

Today, I'm over at Magical Musings daydreaming about warm-weather travel adventures. My heart is most certainly in somewhere subtropical today...sigh...particularly as the thermometer keeps dropping and I have to keep adding layers of clothing to stay warm. (I look like a maroon marshmallow at the moment with my warm maroon sweatshirt, second pair of fuzzy maroon socks and maroon cut-off fingertip gloves.) So, if you have a sec, please join me over there and let me know where YOU would like to jet off to for the weekend, if you could!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Release Day Celebration: Laura Moore's Believe in Me!

As some of you surely remember, when the jpeg first arrived, I shared with you all the image of the hunky man -- with abs to rival Ryan Reynolds -- on the cover of Laura Moore's 2nd book in her Rosewood Trilogy... But the day has finally come when the whole novel is out!! YAY!

In celebration, I have Laura visiting today to talk about Believe in Me, and she's offered to give away 2 copies of this great book (which has been chosen as a featured alternate for both the Doubleday and Rhapsody Book Clubs!) to commenters on this post.

Welcome, Laura!!

Q: Can you tell us the premise of your new novel?
A: Believe in Me is the second book in my Rosewood Trilogy and tells the story of Jordan, the eldest Radcliffe sister. The book begins with Jordan struggling to save her marriage after discovering that her husband, Richard, was unfaithful while she was pregnant with their third child (she learned of his infidelity in Remember Me, the first book in the Rosewood Trilogy).

Unfortunately her efforts are in vain — I don’t want to say more for fear of spoiling the plot — and a devastated Jordan returns to her family home, Rosewood, with her three young children, where she attempts to rebuild her life. It’s not an easy task, as anyone who remotely connected with divorce knows. Slowly, Jordan creates a life for her children at Rosewood. She also creates a mask of calm serenity for herself that effectively hides the heartache she still suffers.

Determined to be productive, Jordan revitalizes the career as an interior designer that she’d set aside when she became pregnant with Kate, her first child. She hangs out her shingle, offering her services to the residents of Warburg, her hometown. At the house of her first potential client, she meets Owen Gage, an architect and designer, who specializes in restoring historical homes.

Naturally Jordan, who loves architecture and old homes, has heard of Owen. And if he were a stooped, seventy year-old fogey, she’d probably like him just fine. But Owen Gage happens to be handsome, urbane, and charming…exactly what Jordan most dislikes in a man these days. Unfortunately she feels an undeniable attraction for Owen. Given the fragile state of her heart, she does her best to ignore it.

Yet when Owen, who himself is wary of any romantic involvement, offers her an interior decorating job that she badly wants, she accepts the commission even though it will entail working alongside him every day. Very soon Jordan is forced to recognize that Owen may be the one man who can heal her broken heart — if she has the courage to open it to love again.

Q: What's one scene from this story you loved writing and why?
A: That’s tough. I enjoyed writing so many of the scenes in Believe in Me. I guess if I had to pick only one it would have to be the scene where Jordan has just discovered that Owen Gage has apparently not only stolen her commission for a guest cottage that she’d been hoping to decorate but he’s also ripped off her ideas. Ideas that are so good, one of her acquaintances wants to hire him, too. Like her marriage, Jordan sees her dream of establishing herself as an interior designer threatened by yet another handsome and carelessly selfish man. Jordan, always so mild and proper, erupts. On the receiving end of her anger, Owen has no idea what’s hit him.

I especially loved writing the aftermath of their encounter. Still furious, Jordan stalks down one of Warburg’s pretty streets, when a bouquet in a florist window catches her eye. It’s a wedding bouquet. Her anger evaporates as quickly as it exploded, as her mind is flooded with memories of her own wedding bouquet. With this poignant memory, Jordan finds herself wondering if she’ll ever have a man in her life again, if she’ll ever receive a truly magnificent bouquet from a lover or husband again. It’s one of those moments of heart-wrenching insecurity a woman recovering from a broken marriage suffers.

Q: Do you have a favorite kind of food? Anything you really won't eat?
A: Got chocolate? It’s really the one food I cannot resist. Luckily I also like vegetables and fruits and good-for-you-proteins, so at least there’s some balance in my diet — except, that is, when I’m nearing the deadline for a book. Then it’s chocolate all the way.

There are only a few things I won’t eat: I can’t stand liver. Or brains. Or tripe (I believe that’s the glorified term for intestines). I’m really not crazy about sea urchins, either. In my family there are some seriously adventurous eaters, so I’ve been offered these ‘delicacies’ far more often than you might suppose. (LOL, Laura! Sea urchins?! Oh, no...)

Q: Who was the first person you told when you got The Call announcing you'd sold your first novel?
A: My husband. He was great about encouraging me to write in the first place, which was pretty generous considering that we were raising two small children at the time and so his encouragement translated into an awful lot of extra work for him. Unfazed, he bought me my first laptop as a birthday present so that I could transfer what I’d scribbled in the back of a notebook into a kind of formatted manuscript (I knew nothing about formatting and industry standards back then). That story ended up being Ride a Dark Horse, the first novel I published. My husband’s support continues unabated. He does whatever he can to help with my writing and my career and is there to bolster my spirits when my insecurities and doubts are in full force. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Q: What's one piece of writing advice you've found valuable on your journey to publication?
A: The one I remind myself of repeatedly comes from Nora Roberts: You can’t fix a blank page. It’s simple and true. These days I say it a lot, even more than the other Nora Roberts’ gem about keeping your butt in the chair. The problem with the internet era is that my butt may very well be in the chair for hours but if instead of using them to fill that blank page, I’m wasting them surfing the net, then that novel isn’t getting written.

Q: What's a personality trait you love about one of the characters in your novel and why?
A: I really like Jordan Radcliffe’s quiet inner strength. Having always seen herself as kind of a pushover, especially when compared to her two dynamo sisters, Margot and Jade, Jordan’s never suspected she has such resilience. I also admire her for the lengths she’ll go to keep her children as happy and untroubled as possible while they adjust to the troubling fact that their mom and dad no longer live in the same house.

Q: What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
A: I cry at movies; I cry reading books; I even cry at TV commercials. It’s pretty pathetic. And it’s probably why I feel compelled to write happy endings for my heroines and heroes (although even happy endings make me cry).

Q: What’s next for you? Is there a new book in the pipeline?
A: I’m wrapping up Trouble Me, Jade Radcliffe’s story and the last book in my Rosewood Trilogy. It’s wild, but because I’ve been writing about her for so long, I almost feel as if Jade is part of my family. She’s gone from a troubled and unhappy teen to a young woman who’s pretty much gotten her act together. Now a college grad, she’s determined to shake the wild reputation she earned as a teen and take her place alongside her sisters training horses at Rosewood Farm and teaching at the local elementary school. Jade plans to be a model citizen, a real paragon. The only hitch in her plan is that on her way home a terrible lightning storm forces her to spend the night in a hotel near Norfolk, Virginia. And when she meets a handsome stranger in a bar she learns that the summer lightning storm raging outside is nothing compared to the electricity that sizzles when they touch. Though Jade thinks she’s just indulging in a final one night stand before assuming an ultra respectable persona, it turns out that her handsome stranger is not such a stranger after all...Trouble Me will be released in January 2012.

Thanks so much for being here today, Laura, and HUGE congrats on this book and the reissue of Remember Me, too! I had the privilege of reading both novels early and they are SO good!! Two commenters will be randomly drawn to win a copy of Believe in Me hot off the presses, and their names will be posted on Monday. Good luck!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Around the Blogosphere

I'm out playing with friends today... And, unlike what's possible in real life, one of the great delights of the blogosphere is that I can be in 2 places at once! Today, I have the pleasure of being interviewed by the lovely Babs on The World of Book Reviews. And I'm also the blogger of the day on the Girlfriends Book Club on Learning to Follow a Passion. Please join me at either place or both -- I'd love to see you!!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yours for the Taking -- out now!

Happy Friday, all!!

All week long, I've been wanting to do a shout out for Robin Kaye's latest contemporary romantic comedy release from Sourcebooks -- YOURS FOR THE TAKING -- especially after reading this fab review by Eloisa James in her B&N romance column!

I really love Robin's writing style, and she's just as funny and warm off the page as she is on it. Yours for the Taking is book #4 in her "Domestic Gods" series (the delightful Romeo, Romeo was her first, and it won the GH in 2007, too!) but you don't need to read the first three to enjoy this new one. You'll WANT to, though!! (You can check out excerpts for all of them here.)

I've had a bit of a wacky week trying to readjust to routine again, and I've been offline somewhat getting work done on a new draft... But I'm feeling more excited about this New Year, and all that's ahead, with each day. Here's hoping you've had a wonderful start to 2011! Anyone with special weekend plans?? (Me? Got to go workout -- again. ;)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Frosty's Chocolate Center

Okay, I had to post pictures of this cake that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law brought to our house on Christmas Day -- it was just too creative not to share. On the left is the "before" shot...and, well, I'll bet you can figure out the "after" photo. (Who knew Frosty would be so VERY tasty?! :)

Hope you all had a delicious holiday, too! What was the most memorable thing you ate over the past few weeks?

And, now, Happy New Year! Hope the start of 2011 has been going well for you all. Today, I'm visiting my lovely blog pals at Get Lost in a Story, and the ever-awesome Maureen McGowan is hosting the interview there. Please jump on over and join us, if you have a chance!