November 29, 2012

12 days of writing 2.0


Welcome to Change the Word's Second Annual 12 Days of Writing. 

Last year, we covered great writing-related topics, had good discussion and gave away some fabulous prizes. As much fun as that was, I can pretty much guarantee this year will be even better.

I can already hear your surprised voices: I don't know, Laura. Last year was already totally awesome. How could this year be any more fun?

Well, readers, I'm glad you asked. This year the topics and prizes are better, thanks to a little help from some of my favorite authors, bloggers and book reviewers. That's right, instead of having to read 12 posts by me, each of the writing tips will be written from a unique and wonderful voice.

Here's a rundown of this year's 12 Days of Writing line-up:
Dec. 4: Jackie Pilossoph, author of Free Gift With Purchase and Jackpot!
Dec. 5: Lauren Clark, author of Dancing Naked in Dixie and Stay Tuned
Dec. 6: Nancy Scrofano, author of True Love Way
Dec. 7: Laurel Osterkamp, author of November Surprise
Dec. 10: Tracie Banister, author of In Need of Therapy and Blame it on the Fame
Dec. 11: Cynthia Hill, author of What Lies Behind and Idol Hands
Dec. 12: Dina Silver, author of One Pink Line
Dec. 13: Heather Wardell, author of Blank Slate Kate
Dec. 14*: Kathleen Kole, author of Favorable Conditions and Breaking Even
Dec. 19: Kaley Stewart, creator and managing editor of Books, Etc.
Dec. 20: Romi Moondi, author of Last Minute Love and Year of the Chick
Dec. 21: Laura Chapman, creator and managing editor of Change the Word
You can read more about them at their respective websites/blogs/pages to learn more about them, including other titles they have written.

I cannot even begin to tell you how honored and humbled I am to have each of these ladies on board. The past year has been an amazing one for me as a writer and blogger, but being able to call these incredibly talented writers my friends is the highlight.

For serious. This group is fantastic.

As if that was not good enough, some of the guest bloggers have even contributed additional swag for you to win. Like last year, we will give away one prize package on the Friday of each week. Price packages include sweet items, such as books, e-books, bookmarks and more.

How to win:
  • Each 12 Days of Writing post will have a prompt at the end. Follow the directions to be entered into a drawing for that week's prize.
  • Entries must be received Sunday by 12 p.m. CDT.
  • Winners will be announced on the blog at 4 p.m. CDT Sunday.
  • Winners will have 48 hours to contact me at lmchap@gmail.com to provide directions on how I can deliver the prize.
  • Only one entry per person per day. You may enter daily to increase your chances of winning.
  • Open to readers in the U.S. or Canada, only.
  • Note Dec. 14* will be included with the following week's prize group to spread out the love.
With that, I am ready and thrilled to light the torch/cut the ribbon/senselessly and wastefully break a perfectly good bottle of champagne to declare this year's 12 Days of Writing open.

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November 27, 2012

interview with the author of 'falling for you'

Blogger's Note: I'm pleased to welcome Heather Thurmeier to the blog as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour for Falling for You. After sharing an excerpt and reviewing her book, yesterday, I have the opportunity to share an interview with the author, today. Enjoy!

Change the Word: How did you come up with the idea for Falling for You?
Heather Thurmeier: I’ve always enjoyed watching reality TV shows… Okay so I’m a bit of a reality TV junkie. There, I admit it. J But I’ve always wondered what makes a person want to go on one of these shows. I love to watch them, but the thought of going on one as a contestant is terrifying! That initial thought sparked a landslide of questions and then the plot for Falling for You just started coming together.

CTW: How did reality shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” contribute to your telling of the story?
HT: They contributed a lot! I love to watch both of those shows. I’ve always wondered about the contestants and the things that go on behind the scenes. Those shows were definitely a starting point for my story. But I didn’t want to make the reality TV show in Falling for You be exactly like what you see on TV. So my book has some similar aspects — one bachelor and 10 woman to date! — but the format of the show is different. I want readers to feel like the show in my book is familiar, but not a copycat. I want to keep the readers guessing about what will happen next! I hope I succeeded!

CTW: What’s a good tip for keeping romantic relationships in a story realistic?
HT: I think the best thing to remember is that no person in real life is perfect so your characters shouldn’t be either. When you give your character realistic challenges, flaws and personality traits to deal with, you naturally create more drama for your characters. I think when you bring those imperfections to life for your characters, the readers become more deeply invested in them and that helps to make the relationships in the book more meaningful.

CTW: I find writing steamy canoodling scenes difficult, any advice on that front?
HT: I used to find them difficult to write and sometimes still struggle a little. I found the less I try to censor myself, the easier the scene is to write. I have to force myself to stop thinking about how my mom, or my friends—or *blush* my husband’s grandmother!—are going to read this steamy scene I’m writing. If I can forget about who’s going to read my work and just listen to the characters and what they want to do in the moment, it’s so much better for everyone!

CTW: Speaking of advice, what is the best piece of writing advice you ever received?
HT: The best advice I’ve received is to keep writing. Writing a book is difficult, but there is so much more that comes after that. It’s important to not get discouraged if that first book you write doesn’t get picked up by an agent or sold to a big publisher right away. You have to keep writing. Write the next book and the next and the next. Sooner or later, you’ll write the one that really takes off.

CTW: What plotting devices do you use to write a book?
HT: When I get ready to write a book, I start with the idea and then I ask myself a bunch of questions about the plot, characters and setting. Once I think I know where I want the story to go, I write a fairly detailed outline. It doesn’t have every single scene included, but it does give me a very clear idea of how I’m going to get from Chapter One to The End. And it is usually a great tool to help me see where my story is lacking conflict or character development so that I can fix those things before I even start writing.

CTW: How does having more experience as a writer help compared to writing that debut book?
HT: I think you learn something new with each book you read or write. My writing has changed a lot since the very first draft of my very first book. I feel like a different writer in some ways. And I’m excited to see what my 10th book will be like, or my 20th. I can’t even imagine now what my writing will be like by then, but the possibilities for improvement are very exciting.

CTW: What is one thing (snack? Favorite pen? Comfy chair?) you have to have when you write?
HT: I really just need somewhere quiet where I can hear myself think. I have trouble blocking out the noise around me when I’m trying to hear my character’s story in my head. My first choice writing environment is always one that is quiet or at the very least has some kind of white noise. Right now, I’m listening to the dryer. ;) If I can’t get quiet, say because I’m in a coffee shop or the kids are home and watching a movie, then I use my sound machine app to find something soothing to listen to like wind chimes, a thunderstorm, or wind howling. With a quiet environment, the voices in my head get very chatty and usually are eager to share their story with me.

CTW: What is next for your writing career?
HT: Up next, I have the rest of the reality TV romance trilogy coming out. Stuck on You (book 2) will release in Feb 2013 and Lost Without You (book 3) will be released a little later in the year. I also have my first paranormal romance to release in early 2013, which will be the start of a new series! And I’m always plotting a few more stories in development so we’ll have to wait and see which one of those I decide to write next.

CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
HT: I know it can be hard to take the plunge and try a “new-to-you” author, but I hope you will take a chance and read Falling for You. I strive to make each book an entertaining experience for my readers. You will not find anything dark, heavy-hitting or controversial in my books. But you will find humor, sexy heroes, strong heroines, and a bit of steaminess in the bedroom!

Thank you so much for having me here today! I’m happy to answer any other questions people may have for me. Just leave a question in a comment!

Happy reading!

About the Author
Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas, a hater of spiders, and a reality TV junkie. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now lives in upstate New York with her own personal romance Hero (aka her husband) and their two little princesses. When she's not busy taking care of the kids and an adventurous puppy named Indy, Heather's hard at work on her next romance novel.

"Heather Thurmeier's hunky heroes and feisty heroines will have you laughing out loud, falling in love ... and coming back for more!" ~ Carly Phillips, NY Times Bestselling Author

"Heather Thurmeier writes sweet, funny romances that capture your heart!" --NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst

Love and Lattes, Love on Landing, Love or Luxury, Bunny Hills and Bikinis, Falling for You ~ Available now!

Stuck on You, Lost without You ~ Coming Soon!

Contact Heather
Website: http://heatherthurmeier.com
Facebook: HeatherThurmeierAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hthurmeier
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5211580.Heather_Thurmeier

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November 26, 2012

book review: falling for you

Heather Thurmeier delves into a charming and basically adorable romantic trilogy with book No. 1, Falling for You (read an excerpt here).

In Falling for You, our heroine Cassidy Quinn goes on the new reality TV show, The One, after her sister signs her up. Wanting an adventure, and hoping to end the dating dry-spell she has been under since breaking up with her boyfriend, Brad, she figures why not? Finding love on reality TV could happen, right?

Imagine her surprise when she finds the bachelor who's love she must try to win his none other than her ex, Brad. Double that surprise when she finds herself dealing with feelings for one person she is explicitly prohibited from romancing, namely her personal videographer, Evan.

When Cassidy finds herself brought back week after week to date the man who previously broke her heart she ends up finding it harder than she imagined to keep her hands off the hunky cameraman. With a lot at stake should she break the rules, she must decide whether to follow her heart and libido or her mind.

This was a super cute, fast read. As a recovering fan of the Bachelor and Bachelorette franchise (they lost me after Brad's season -- I was too invested), I am a total sucker for books set on dating shows. I read Jane Millionaire a few years ago and most recently Unscripted, and this one more than measured up to the others.

The main character was interesting. Though a good protagonist you could cheer for, she had plenty of flaws. At her heart, though, she is a good sort of person, and someone I could see myself grabbing a slice of pizza with in her home city of NYC. Incidentally, pineapple is my favorite pizza topping, so I'm sure we'd have no trouble splitting a pie.

As for Evan, he was super adorable. With even more baggage than her, he had just enough of a reformed bad boy mixed with the sensitive outdoors man to make him totally irresistible to a sucker like me. I was crushing on this boy big time, and dreamed pleasant dreams of the man behind the camera the night after reading the book.

Add in the drama that comes from a reality dating show and a few bitches for the heroine to battle, and this story flew fast. Written with deep third person, I found myself really getting into the main characters' heads.

I did find the story a little predictable, but frankly, after reading hundreds of romance novels, I can't remember the last time I was truly surprised by a book's twist. However, this story's characters were so enjoyable and their circumstances so entertaining, you have zero complaints coming from me. I liked knowing those two crazy kids were going to work it out in the end. This happily ever after left me satisfied, while still giving some room for my imagination.

This was a cozy and enjoyable way to spend an evening, and I am definitely excited to see Cassidy and Evan make a cameo in book 2.

Rating: 4 of 5

About the Author
Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas, a hater of spiders, and a reality TV junkie. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now lives in upstate New York with her own personal romance Hero (aka her husband) and their two little princesses. When she's not busy taking care of the kids and an adventurous puppy named Indy, Heather's hard at work on her next romance novel.

"Heather Thurmeier's hunky heroes and feisty heroines will have you laughing out loud, falling in love ... and coming back for more!" ~ Carly Phillips, NY Times Bestselling Author

"Heather Thurmeier writes sweet, funny romances that capture your heart!" --NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst

Love and Lattes, Love on Landing, Love or Luxury, Bunny Hills and Bikinis, Falling for You ~ Available now!

Stuck on You, Lost without You ~ Coming Soon!

Contact Heather
Website: http://heatherthurmeier.com
Facebook: HeatherThurmeierAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hthurmeier
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5211580.Heather_Thurmeier

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excerpt: falling for you

Blogger's Note: I'm thrilled to share this excerpt of Heather Thurmeier's Falling For You as she kicks off her Chick Lit Plus blog tour for the steamy novel. Check back later, today, for my review of the book, and tomorrow for an interview with the author.
As Cassidy glanced around the formal living room, the ball of lead in her stomach grew.

What have I done?

How on earth did she end up here in Denver, sitting in a mansion, surrounded by cameras and beautiful women—some of whom had obvious fake boobs and hair extensions? Of course, she knew how she’d ended up here and it had nothing to do with magic or any other Hollywood special effect.

Nope.

It had been her meddling little sister Keira who’d taken it upon herself to apply to be on a new reality dating show—using Cassidy’s name. To Cassidy’s horror, she’d actually been accepted. When she’d gotten the unexpected call from the show’s producer, she’d wanted to kill her sister. Instead, she’d been convinced to go through with the rest of the audition process and screen tests. By the time it was all over and she was asked to be on the show, Cassidy had grown used to the idea of having an opportunity to fall in love with some mystery bachelor.

Her friends told her to forget the show and take a cruise instead, where she could soak in the sun while “Margaritaville” played over the pool speakers. But did she listen?

Not a chance.

Maybe he’ll be the one. Cassidy searched the room for the bachelor of the show, her stomach twisting into a knot at the thought of being forced to date someone new. She hadn’t been with anyone since Brad chose to leave her and New York behind to go back to California to start pro-surfing again. Maybe coming on the show would force her out of her six-month dating hibernation. Or maybe she’d throw up on the bachelor’s shoes when she finally met him. Either was a definite possibility.

Coming on the show sounded like a good idea at the time. But now she was here— now it was real and not some thing she would do in the future someday. She casually wiped her palms across her thighs and prayed she wouldn’t have to shake anyone’s hand anytime soon.

Cassidy nervously scanned the room, checking out the other single girls who had also come on the show in the hopes of finding Mr. Right—or, at least, Mr. Right Now. They all appeared more confident than she felt, chatting and mingling with ease while she sat alone on the couch twisting a napkin between trembling fingers. Every hair color, eye color, height, and personal style was reflected.

She wondered how she would ever stand out in this crowd of glamorous women with her mousy brown hair and eyes the color of pistachio ice cream. No one even likes pistachio ice cream, nor wants to have any part of their body resemble it. She tugged at the hem of her plain white shirt, wishing she’d decided to wear something bright and bold instead. Maybe she should have taken a few more minutes in front of the mirror to touch up her makeup while she’d had the chance.

The Scoop
Newly single Cassidy Quinn is thrilled to be a contestant on the new reality dating show The One. But her excitement turns to horror when the gorgeous bachelor turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. Seeing Brad again makes Cassidy realize she might not be as "over him" as she thought-and then she meets hunky cameraman Evan Burke. After watching his brother lose his wife in a tragic accident, Evan vows never to fall in love. But following Cassidy around as her personal cameraman makes him question his decision, and resisting her gets harder with every sunbathing, bikini-wearing day. Cassidy and Evan begin a forbidden affair while her ex-boyfriend tries to win her heart back one groping, awkward moment at a time. If Cassidy can manage to stop falling off horses (literally), stop falling onto her ex-boyfriend, the bachelor (yes, literally), and stop falling in love with backstage playboy Evan, she might still make it through the show without becoming a tabloid sensation. But soon Cassidy must choose between the ex who broke her heart and the cameraman who might never love her back. For Cassidy, this reality show just got real.

About the Author
Heather Thurmeier is a lover of strawberry margaritas, a hater of spiders, and a reality TV junkie. She was born and raised in the Canadian prairies, but now lives in upstate New York with her own personal romance Hero (aka her husband) and their two little princesses. When she's not busy taking care of the kids and an adventurous puppy named Indy, Heather's hard at work on her next romance novel.

"Heather Thurmeier's hunky heroes and feisty heroines will have you laughing out loud, falling in love ... and coming back for more!" ~ Carly Phillips, NY Times Bestselling Author

"Heather Thurmeier writes sweet, funny romances that capture your heart!" --NYT and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Probst

Love and Lattes, Love on Landing, Love or Luxury, Bunny Hills and Bikinis, Falling for You ~ Available now!

Stuck on You, Lost without You ~ Coming Soon!

Contact Heather
Website: http://heatherthurmeier.com
Facebook: HeatherThurmeierAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hthurmeier
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5211580.Heather_Thurmeier

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November 23, 2012

dream a little dream

A gift from a friend years ago, I now have this hanging on my office wall.
While killing a little time Wednesday, I decided to sort through my various folders and documents on Google Drive. I know. I lead a super exciting and enthralling life. You don't have to tell me. It's my life. I know. Sorting through the files, I found a mixture of old class assignments, works in progress and book ideas. Most of these are backed up on my computer and flash drives, so no big surprises there.

Then I came to the oldest file, dated from Spring 2008, a couple of months before I graduated college. Titled, "Life Plan," I knew what it was before I opened it. One Saturday night while working the cops desk at the newspaper I interned at my senior year, I wrote down a list of goals for my life (at least until I turn 30), breaking them down by years and milestones. I've always been a goal-oriented person who thinks like this, I've mentioned it before here and here. Granted, this was much more freaky and weird, but you get the idea.

Admittedly, I still find myself jotting down my goals (though now I ditch the age). Just last week, I halfheartedly wrote down six goals, again titling them "Life Plan." If you follow me on Twitter you saw it already, but here it is for the rest of you:


Again, I made this one somewhat tongue in cheek, but the one from almost five years ago was serious. In the interest of giving you full-disclosure to my lifelong insanity, and to give you better insight to my point in this ramble-some post, I'm giving you, my virtual besties, a look at the full list as it was when I opened the file.

May 2008 (Age 21)
  • Graduate with bachelor’s degree in news-editorial from University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  • Start internship with the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale.
  • Start writing books again. Be organized and disciplined (goal: finish writing one by July, finish second by September).
August 2008 (Age 22)
  • Get a job at a newspaper, publishing firm or non-profit somewhere outside of Nebraska.
  • Try to find a literary agent to publish completed works (fiction).
  • Continue writing.
  • Find some writing buddies to share my work with.
  • Start saving money for grad school, Europe trip.
July 2009 (Age 23)
  • Start a new, higher-ranking job. Try for another state.
  • Continue writing and endeavor to get published.
Fall 2009 (Age 23)
  • Take tests, start preparation to get into grad school.
Spring 2010 (Age 23)
  • Apply to graduate schools with emphasis in either mass communications or women’s literature.
June 2010 (Age 24)
  • Quit the newspaper business to pursue my studies.
  • See if I can make arrangements with some of my past employers to freelance for pay if the fancy strikes me.
  • Start 8-week travel through Europe for pleasure and research (attempt to get advance to write book, otherwise, store up information).
August 2010 (Age 24)
  • Start graduate school. Take out student loan.
  • Start teaching as a graduate assistant.
  • Start research for non-fiction books about: women's suffrage worldwide (politics), contemporary women feminists (women’s studies), feminism and gender roles in romance novels (English), Disney princesses (media portrayal), historical women writers perhaps with an emphasis in the pioneer times (English). Use one of these topics as my thesis.
May 2011 (Age 24)
  • Spend summer studying abroad in England. Or, have a work exchange for the summer to gain more overseas experience.
May 2012 (Age 25)
  • Graduate with master’s degree in either mass communications or literature. Get an emphasis in gender studies either way and perhaps a minor in the other view.
June 2012 (Age 26)
  • Publish thesis into book. Publish other researched materials into books. If possible, publish some works while still in graduate school. Early is fine.
  • Continue to publish fiction books.
  • MAYBE see if I can get a gig freelance writing for magazines.
  • Find a place to live and be inspired.
Age 28
  • Start work as writing coach. Travel the country (world?) teaching people the art of telling a good story. Work to coach both fiction and non-fiction writers perhaps.
  • Reveal writing identities, if all ventures have been successful.
Age 30
  • Buy my own book shop in a smaller community, perhaps, with emphasis in specialty books. Sell my own books there in Nora Roberts-esque way.
  • Buy and start to build my dream home.
  • If I am so inclined, start making plans to get married and have a family. This could wait.

If you've made it this far, then I can only imagine what you're thinking. "Wow. This bitch is crazy." And you wouldn't be entirely wrong. When I looked at this list, my first thought was, "Dude, I was cray cray." Then, I looked at the post-it note on my computer and realized, I still think like this. Always looking forward and wanting more. Setting huge goals, but not quite reaching them.

Now that we've addressed my complete insanity, let's take a quick moment to look at this list and consider the content. I'm now 26, and what have I done? Truthfully, not much on this list.

My first impulse is to be a little bummed out thinking about all of the dreams younger Laura had and how little (OK, how not at all) my life resembles the one I imagined. But I'm not.

Did I fail at this list? Probably. Have I failed at life, though? Absolutely not.

My life took a different path within the first year outlined on my list. I saw a different world and learned valuable lessons 21-year-old me could not have imagined. The good and the bad from those experiences have inspired countless story ideas, gave me the strength to start writing books again, but never destroyed my ability to dream for bigger and better.

I have a job I'm lucky to have. I have family and friends. I have two completed manuscripts hoping to be published one day. I still have dreams. I see no harm in making the goals. Dreams keep us moving forward, without them we stay put forever, and I'm not one to do that.

But I've learned thing or two. Make those dreams, but be flexible. Take a chance or detour, even if it was unplanned. Be less specific. Don't measure your life by numbers or years. Never spend too much time thinking about the future or bemoaning the past that you can't appreciate the present.

Have dreams. Let them guide you. But don't be afraid to change them.

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November 22, 2012

thank you, thank you, thank you

As always, I am thankful for coffee. I am especially thankful
for having the chance to visit the original Starbucks this
summer. For a coffee addict like me, it's like my Graceland.
It's Thanksgiving in the U.S., and whether you're celebrating or going about a Thursday, I want to thank you for your ongoing support. I am constantly humbled by the amazing readers and writers who continue to join me on this adventure into the written world. So thank you for being here with me.

No matter the origins of the holiday or what it means to some people, for me my favorite part about Thanksgiving is taking a moment once a year to spend with your family and friends and think about your life. All too often -- and I'm guilty as anyone -- we devote a lot of time to what we don't have and want. But on this day, we think about the good in our lives and take a moment to reflect on and appreciate it. It's a beautiful thought. One we should have more often.

In the spirit of all things Thanksgiving, here's a short list of a few of the many things I am thankful for in my life, today:
  • My family. My parents are supportive, my broomies are entertaining, my sister is my best friend and my nephew is perhaps the coolest kid in the world. What more can I say? I also have a small but mighty group of aunts, uncles and cousins.
  • My cats. Though they are ridiculously jealous of each other, we've found a happy balance for living together. Jane sits with me to watch my Tuesday and Thursday comedies (Raising Hope, The Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock) along with my Monday crime shows (Bones and Castle). Bingley gets the British period dramas (TV: Downton Abbey, Movies: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice -- BBC and Knightley -- Emma, Sense and Sensibility). They share joint custody of my writing time. I don't care that it makes me a crazy cat lady, but I love my quirky cats, and they bring me a lot of joy.
  • My new job. The museum came into my life at the perfect moment. After years of looking for new work and becoming discouraged, I was one online bartending course away from working a few part-time jobs while I figured out what to do with my life. Not only has this new job restored a lot of the professional confidence I lost, but I work with an amazing group of people who make me feel valued. I hope everyone can find work like that.
  • My old job. There were days I questioned whether or not I could get out of bed and go to work, but there was still a lot of good. I made some wonderful friends. I saw the country. I met interesting people. I watched the best and worst of the world unfold. I gained insight and experience to life that I would never trade. It's difficult to explain in a short blurb, but I talk about it more here . I also may not have made much money and lived on a tight income for the first couple of years, but I always had a job. I graduated the spring before the markets tanked, and many of my friends lost their jobs or never found them. I never had to worry about that, and I am beyond grateful.
  • My friends. Most of you are spread out across the country, and even a couple abroad, but I value each of you.
  • My iPhone. I feel naked without it. It keeps me connected to the world. It wakes me up every morning. It helps me capture photos, and it provides the soundtrack for my days. I'm thankful I can have one, because it truly helps me through my day.
  • This August. Talk about a life changing month. I interviewed for my new job (by phone and in person). I visited the Pacific Northwest for the first time and fell in love with the area. I had another chance to visit San Antonio, one of my favorite travel destinations for work. I was offered my new job. Around new year, I said 2012 was going to be my year, and in August, I realized it was.
  • My writing career. I may be super far behind on NaNoWriMo, but after being in this same spot the past two years and still making it through, I have every belief I'll cross that finish line a winner. Also, I finished writing my second book earlier this year and finished rewriting my first novel earlier this month. They're not ready to publish just yet, but I'm closer than ever.
  • This blog. Through it, I've connected with amazing people like you. You've changed my life for the better, and I thank you.
I could go on and on, but now I want to know: What are you thankful for this year?

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November 21, 2012

thankful recipes

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States, and if you're like me you've probably volunteered to bring a dish, but haven't done anything about it.

If you're still looking for a last-minute Thanksgiving recipe, here are a few literary-inspired dishes that would go well on a Thanksgiving table.
  • Homemade applesauce: Inspired by Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, this homemade applesauce was delicious and super easy to make. It would also travel well, if that factors into your culinary decisions. I made a small batch, but you could easily throw in a few more apples to accommodate a larger group. This sauce was so tasty, I don't see how anyone would complain if it ended up on your table as a side dish?
  • Apple and goat cheese tart: Hunger Games mania hit big this year when Suzanne Collins' amazing trilogy appeared on the big screen with its first installment. Indulging in my own Hunger Games mania, I set out to make a few dishes and these tarts, inspired by the ones Peeta Mellark's family makes at their bakery, are delicious and pretty pain-free to make. They would go well as an appetizer or a dessert.
  • Pear tarts: Inspired by no book in particular, but made with leftover pears from other recipes, these were an easy recipe and would go well for breakfast or served warm with ice cream for dessert.
  • Pumpkin gingerbread trifle: From Jane Green's Promises to Keep, this recipe is literally spelled out in the book and on the author's website. This dish is a great twist for those of you who love pumpkin pie, but are tired of the same old same old. 
  • Pie crust: Last year I made green pumpkin pie based on the dish mentioned in Laura Ingalls Wilder's The Long Winter. While green pumpkins are out of season, the pie crust I made was delish, and the one I use for all of my baking. So, skip past all the parts about carving a green pumpkin (or read it -- it's your call), and check out the crust. I definitely think Ma Ingalls would approve of it.
If all goes to plan, I will have a new Reading in the Kitchen posted tomorrow or Friday. It involves pumpkins, paint removal  and pie. I know. I just blew your mind.

I'm taking dessert tomorrow, and while I know I can't get around baking pumpkin and pecan pies, I have the urge to make a third dessert for the non pumpkin and pecan enthusiasts in my family.

Do any of you have suggestions? Maybe something with a little literary inspiration?

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November 19, 2012

making history

Blogger's Note: Victoria Vane is here as part of her Goddess Fish blog tour. Victoria will give one randomly chosen commenter a download of her first erotic historical romance A Breach of Promise. Thank you, Victoria, for stopping by to share this great information about the research behind your historical series.

By Victoria Vane
Guest blogger

As a dyed-in-the-wool history geek, I am always looking to history for inspiration in the belief that using real events and people gives my stories added depth and dimension. This is even the case in my erotic romances. When I set out to write A Wild Night's Bride, I was intrigued by a number of salacious tidbits I had read about the bawdiness of the Georgian era.

Often described as a golden age of prostitution, there are several nonfiction books dedicated to this subject (The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold and London's Sinful Secret by Dan Cruishanks are two examples that sit on my research shelf). Both of these volumes dedicate a significant number of pages to a notorious Georgian era bawd named Charlotte Hayes. Once a famed courtesan in her own right, Mrs. Hayes was also a shrewd business woman who came to own a number of high-end London brothels.

The most famous of these was her house at King's Place, St. James, established in the late 1760's. Given her great success, by 1779, virtually every house on this street had become a house of pleasure. Competing for the aristocratic patrons were fellow madams Harriet Lewis who specialized in exotics, and Sarah Prendergast, Sarah Dubery and Catherine Windsor who constantly endeavored to outdo one another by hosting lewd events. Not to be outdone, Mrs. Hayes conceived of her own subscription-only affair, inspired by the recent voyages of Captain Cook to the Antipodes. Calling it the Otaheitian Feast of Venus, she claimed to reenact the (Tahitian) islanders' fertility rites as recorded by eye-witnesses from Cook's HMB Endeavor.

After recruiting more than a dozen beautiful women and as many well-endowed young men for the entertainment, Charlotte had formal invitations printed for her aristocratic guests. It was a tremendous hit with her attendees for the two hour sex-fest including three-and-twenty of the highest ranking men in the land.

A Wild Night's Bride, a romantic and erotic comedy adventure pairs Phoebe Scott, a struggling actress with a bruised heart and Sir Edward "Ned" Chambers, a grieving widower, in an outrageous wager when devil-in- disguise, Viscount Ludovic DeVere, is determined to return his grieving best friend, Ned, to the land of the living.

And what better way could there be to tempt a man out of three years of celibacy than attending a subscription only affair at the most notorious house of pleasure in London?

Although I fudged the date by a few years for the purpose of my story, I believe this event would certainly have appealed to the jaded Viscount DeVere as the perfect solution.

All of the stories in my Devil DeVere series are sprinkled with such real events and characters. In my most recent release, Devil in the Making, I take the readers back in time to meet the youthful viscount-to-be and his best friends, Ned and Simon, in another comedic romp in which we encounter another real life devilish youth, Charles James Fox.

A Momentous Announcement
When I first conceived A Wild Night’s Bride, I had no idea that one devilish secondary character would spawn an entire series, but Ludovic, Viscount DeVere, proved to be a dream come true. This larger than life character has captured the hearts of so many fans who have begged for more DeVere. In response to these requests, I have not only decided to continue the series, but have recently commissioned an amazing artist to render gorgeously detailed full color illustrations for my DeVere stories! My goal is to offer a wonderfully enhanced reading experience to fans of my series.

The first book to be illustrated just in time for all those glorious full color and graphics capable Christmas e-readers, is Devil in the Making, The Illustrated Edition. This book will feature a gorgeous depiction of the key scene in every chapter. If this experiment is successful, I will be illustrating the entire DeVere series (old and new) over the next 12-18 months.

As a holiday greeting, I am attaching a sample of the absolutely stunning photorealistic artwork that will grace the new book cover as well as the inside pages! Now, without further ado…. Here is how it all began...

Devil in the Making: A Devilish Vignette by Victoria Vane
Every devil has a beginning... A rebellious young nobleman's prank with the king's lion goes comically awry, leading to a startling chain of events. A riotous Georgian romp in the tradition of Fielding's Tom Jones and a prequel to the Devil DeVere series.

Excerpt
"But I know that look, DeVere, and it always bodes ill."

"Come now, Ned," DeVere cajoled. "With only weeks until matriculation, we may never get another chance to serve up some revenge on ole' Trasker."

"What have you in mind?" Simon asked.

"Since our dear pedagogue is so fond of bear-leading, why not procure one for him?"

Ned looked stunned. "You wish to buy a bear?"

"Of course not," DeVere answered.

"Thank God," Ned replied with a sigh of relief. "I only wish to borrow one."

"A bear?" Simon repeated.

"Yes. It can be a small one. As to age, size, or gender. I am not particular."

"And how do you propose to find one?" Ned asked warily.

DeVere replied with a look of pure devilment. "I propose a midnight foray to the Royal Menagerie." 

Devil in the Making: The Illustrated Edition will be available in e-book early December 2012. A print anthology will follow later in 2013. For further information and updates, please visit my website at http://authorvictoriavane.com.

About A Wild Night's Bride
What happens when a struggling actress and a grieving widower come together in a night of unbridled debauchery orchestrated by a bored and machinating rake? With the devil in charge — there will surely be hell to pay!

About The Virgin Huntress
Desperate times call for devilish measures…Lady Vesta Chambers is accustomed to getting what she wants, but when the object of her passion has eyes for another, it’s time to take matters in hand!

About The Devil You Know
When dealing with the devil it's easy to be burned…especially when passion ignites the flames…

Beautiful, respectable, and dutiful, Lady Diana Palmerston-Wriothesley has long resigned herself to her loveless marriage …until her husband's gambling pushes them to the brink of ruin. Viscount Ludovic, "The Devil DeVere", is a man accustomed to taking what he wants according to his whim until he encounters a woman who won't be had at any price. But will a single night of heavenly passion damn them both forever?

About The Devil's Match
Once burned twice shy… but when old flames come together…passion reignites...

About the Author
A lover of history and deeply romantic stories, Victoria Vane combines these elements to craft romantic historical novels and novellas for a mature reading audience. Her writing influences are Georgette Heyer for fabulous witty dialogue and over the top characters, Robin Schone , Sylvia Day, and Charlotte Featherstone for beautifully crafted prose in stories with deep sensuality, and Lila DiPasqua for creative vision in melding history with eroticism. Ms. Vane also writes award nominated romantic historical fiction as Emery Lee (http:// authoremerylee.com)

Contact
victoria.vane@hotmail.com
Web: http://authorvictoriavane.com
Blog: http://victoriavane.wordpress.com
Twitter: @authorvictoriav

Book Video
 

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November 15, 2012

all that glitters is gold (or a vampire)

In August I drove through Olympic National
Forest. I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope to see a
Cullen. I know, I know, why would you want to
find a vampire? They could eat you? No need
to worry. These ones are vegetarians, too.
It's here. The day we all knew would arrive is here. I'm talking, of course, about the release of Breaking Dawn: Part Two.

Yes, the saga is coming to an end at last, and if you're like me, you're kind of relieved.

By now, most of you know that I do like me some Twilight. And why is that? I don't particularly care for Bella Swan as a character. I find Jacob one of the most annoying characters in history and can't fathom the idea that anyone would be Team Jacob. The dialogue is sometimes silly. It's by no means a story that teaches a super valuable lesson to our impressionable teens.

But, damn it all, there's something about these stories that grips me.

So why the relief at the end of the saga? Again, it's hard to explain. Maybe it's my desire to see us talking about other books and movies. Maybe it's because I need to kick this Robert Pattinson crush if he's really going back to K-Stew (which has nothing to do with the cheating scandal. I haven't been a fan of hers... ever). Maybe it's because I'm pissed off everyone now seems to think the last book in a series has to be split in two, when it drags out the story and makes for less exciting cinema that negatively affects the story pacing set by previous movies (cough, cough, I'm looking specifically at you The Hunger Games franchise. Please don't make two Mockingjay movies.).

It's hard to know, but it's with a little excitement and relief that I look forward to seeing this final movie.

I'll admit, I did not plan to read the books or watch the movie. Then, I moved to Houston in 2009, and I was lonely. I spent most of my time renting movies from Redbox and reading the stash of Nora Roberts books I purchased before the move.

Then it got to be October. I'm not a fan of slasher movies, and the Redbox spots near my house were filled with scary movies. Twilight was one of the few non-horror movies available, it was October and I figured what the hell? Why not watch a movie about sparkling vampires?

Yeah, I went to Forks. Jealous?
Then, I developed a crush on Robert Pattinson. By this point, all four books were on sale (Breaking Dawn still in hardcover), so I ran out to buy them and spent the next few days lost in a world of wanton girls, dangerous men and annoying second love interests.

From then on I've seen the movies in the theaters, and tonight I'm going to the first screening. It blows my mind a little that it's showing at 10 p.m. instead of midnight, but frankly that just means more sleep for me before work tomorrow.

With that, I'll leave you with this clip show of some of my Twilight-related posts to help you get in the mood to see this series come to an end.

Do I have any other Twi-Hards in the house? Are you going to the movie? What are you most looking forward to seeing?

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November 12, 2012

book review: the bloody mary club

The mystery genre gets a funny makeover with Debbie Dyke's The Bloody Mary Club.

The Scoop
A Fiscal Thriller Set in Historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia Stock market meltdown. United States housing bubble. Global financial crisis. Chief executives cooking the books. Who can you trust for financial advice? Gina Van Story, a savvy 40ish investment advisor to the rescue. She can spot a trend on the market and jump on it like a cat. She dreams of grabbing the bull by the horns and is on the hunt for one final big score. Gina and her three best friends form the Bloody Mary Investment Club and come face-to-face with corruption in a David and Goliath struggle when their stock portfolio turns deadly…literally. Over made-to-order Bloody Mary cocktails at historic Gadsby’s Tavern, Gina takes her friends under her wing and teaches them the ins and outs of the stock market. Trouble begins when, following Gina’s bullish advice, they become majority owners in the local bank and then stubbornly turn down a lucrative buyout offer. Not only will money and greed challenge their friendship, they will have to get smart fast and figure out how to turn the tables on the charmingly seductive, yet evil, banker who wants control of their stock by any means necessary – including murder!
Calling this a fiscal thriller is a perfect and totally unique description. There were times I did find some of the financial talk a little confusing. I know a bit about mutual funds, IRAs and such, but this book went deeper than my knowledge. I imagine for someone who lives and breathes finances, though, this book would be even more enjoyable, because they speak the language.

The story's greatest strengths for the lay reader are Gina and the supporting characters. They add a layer of relatability that makes reading about finances less cumbersome and difficult.

Gina and her friends in the Bloody Mary Club are hysterical. They're brutally honest with each other, believe in giving tough love and have a funny banter that kept me laughing throughout the story. Their presence, as well as the main character's vivacious personality, kept this story moving at a steady pace that had more laughs than cringes as far as mysteries go.

I can only imagine what kind of trouble these ladies can get into in the future.

The men in this book also added to the story's fun. You have the super sweet Johnny, who though a little jealous is a good guy at heart. Then you have Andrew, the new man who seems more exciting, but turns out to be more dangerous.

As an extra bit of fun, this story also has a recipe for a Bloody Mary. While I might not be a big fan of these drinks (tomatoes and tomato juice freak me out), I'm definitely passing it on to my friends who are big fans.

Rating: 4 of 5

About the Author
Debbie Dyke is a novelist and businesswoman from Alexandria, Virginia, and has a background in military intelligence, the stock market, executive recruiting and writing. An Army brat, she’s lived in Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Albania and Holland. She graduated from the American High School in Naples, Italy then attending University of Maryland, Munich Campus. She graduated from Georgetown University and holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters degree in National Security. Debbie has two grown children, Lisa and Jordan and has been married to Michael for more than thirty wonderful years. Debbie has written 5 screenplays, one Wall Street calendar and two novels.

Connect with Debbie
My author website is:  www.debbiedyke.com
Facebook page:  DebbieDykeBooks

Buy the Book
The Bloody Mary Club - NOOK and Print B&N

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excerpt: the bloody mary club

Blogger's Note: Please enjoy this excerpt of Debbie Dyke's The Bloody Mary Club

Note from the Author: Here’s a passage that captures their reaction when Sarah, Vivi and Joanie finally pay attention to their investment account when they have to vote on the purchase of private shares in a bank but then realize that by doing so, they are millionaires.

The Scoop

A Fiscal Thriller Set in Historic Old Town Alexandria, Virginia Stock market meltdown. United States housing bubble. Global financial crisis. Chief executives cooking the books. Who can you trust for financial advice? Gina Van Story, a savvy 40ish investment advisor to the rescue. She can spot a trend on the market and jump on it like a cat. She dreams of grabbing the bull by the horns and is on the hunt for one final big score. Gina and her three best friends form the Bloody Mary Investment Club and come face-to-face with corruption in a David and Goliath struggle when their stock portfolio turns deadly…literally. Over made-to-order Bloody Mary cocktails at historic Gadsby’s Tavern, Gina takes her friends under her wing and teaches them the ins and outs of the stock market. Trouble begins when, following Gina’s bullish advice, they become majority owners in the local bank and then stubbornly turn down a lucrative buyout offer. Not only will money and greed challenge their friendship, they will have to get smart fast and figure out how to turn the tables on the charmingly seductive, yet evil, banker who wants control of their stock by any means necessary – including murder!

Excerpt
“Today’s price is….”Gina’s eyes fell to her lap. Odd that more of the club members had ever asked her this before. Although she’d been reluctant to share this information, she would have if asked…”one thousand dollars a share.”

Sarah tapped in the numbers. Her face lit up, she let out a series of peeps then tossed the calculator to Joanie.

‘Holy shit!” Joanie’s jaw dropped. He held onto the bottom of her chair and rocked forward. “Almost a half a million dollars.”

Cha-cha. Ching. Big Bucks.

“We’re loaded.” Vivi jumped up so fast her boobs almost spilled out of her top. “I’m a rich bitch.”

“Eat my shorts! I should have paid more attention to our account,” Joanie said cracking her knuckles. “I just assumed we had about one hundred thousand together, well, we, I man, with just hat one stock? Flipping amazing.”

“Gina, you stinker.” Sarah squirmed in her seat with both eyes in a tic pattern. “ Attenzione tutti, first time in my career that I’ve been out to lunch on an account and now I’m psyched to the max.”

Vivi beat her chest with her hands. “Hush my puppies. I’m switching to Haagen-Dazs tonight. I’ll get front row tickets to see Jimmy Buffet. I’ll get my lips pumped up and lipo on my ass. Dangit, my list is long”

Gina squeezed Joanie’s shoulder. “Are you in?”

“Do snakes have both sex organs? Does a naval orange have a navel? Does our flag have stars and stripes?” Joanie shot both arms in the air. “Freaking yes!”

Everyone agreed. Unanimous.

With the air around them crackling with electricity, the ladies joined hands and shared a moment of financial rah-rah gal power. 

About the Author
Debbie Dyke is a novelist and businesswoman from Alexandria, Virginia, and has a background in military intelligence, the stock market, executive recruiting and writing. An Army brat, she’s lived in Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Albania and Holland. She graduated from the American High School in Naples, Italy then attending University of Maryland, Munich Campus. She graduated from Georgetown University and holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters degree in National Security. Debbie has two grown children, Lisa and Jordan and has been married to Michael for more than thirty wonderful years. Debbie has written 5 screenplays, one Wall Street calendar and two novels.

Connect with Debbie
My author website is:  www.debbiedyke.com
Facebook page:  DebbieDykeBooks

Buy the Book
The Bloody Mary Club - NOOK and Print B&N

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November 8, 2012

book reviews: october 2012 recap

In the chaos of National Novel Writing Month, it seems I forgot to recap my October reviews. Silly Laura. With that, here's a rundown of the awesome books I reviewed last month, including my Read of the Month.

This last month I read some great books. I know I always say that, but I do. Among those are two books I loved so much, and have not stopped thinking about, that I am going to go ahead and declare not one but TWO reads of the month.

Both books were completely different. One made me laugh out loud a lot while the other made me cry. Both left an impression and are equally deserving.


Sugarfiend by Caroline Burau
Like the author's blog, Sugarfiend was well-written and entertaining. She has a knack for building suspense and keeping interest high. Burau begins the story quickly, dropping us in as action is already in progress, which made this story work.

Burau also has the ability to make difficult and tense reading enjoyable. There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, despite the heavier elements in the story. It takes a solid writer to evoke a mix of emotions like that.
4 of 5
Read more here.

We're Done by Judy Irwin
Age appropriate with an approachable voice for young adults, We're Done was a quick read. Though entertaining, the story's message was what most struck me.

As a central character, Luke offers a unique vessel to relay the anti-bullying message. Though not too likeable at first, over time, as Luke sees himself for who he really is, that perception changes. Initially, he thinks he is the one who is misunderstood and that his punishment is a mistake. Eventually, facing the new adversity forces him to take another look at the way he leads his life and how he treats others.
Read more here.

Picture Perfect by Lucie Simone
God help me, but I always love a good story set in Tinsel Town. Throw in a bit of mystery, and I am a deliciously happy reader. Picture Perfect did not disappoint and had me laughing as I quickly turned the pages on this one.

Accustomed to handling the issues in other people's lives as a producer, it's Lauren's turn to do damage control in her own world, which made for a fun read from the beginning. I found myself connecting with her quickly and cheering for her, even as I sometimes wanted to shake some sense into her. What good protagonist doesn't blow it from time to time, though? Reading would be so boring if a heroine didn't biff it upon occasion, and when Lauren misses a step it made for good reading as she figured out how to get back on the right path.
4 of 5
Read more here.

That Time of the Month by Emily Shaffer
When it comes to characters, Ellie was a delight to read. I instantly connected with her, which is crucial for me when a person tells his or her own story. Within a few pages, I was certain Ellie and I were destined to be good friends, and I could hardly wait to follow her story.

More than wanting to be Ellie's friend, I connected with this story on a personal level, because I related so closely to her. I'll confess, before starting my new job there were moments that I wished I would be fired from my old job so I would have to force myself to make major changes in my life. Though I am glad it did not happen for me -- and I'm sure my parents are relieved to hear me say that -- it was easy for me to slip into this story and pretend that this could have been my life.
4.5 of 5
Read more here.

November Surprise by Laurel Osterkamp *** READ OF THE MONTH ***
  • I cannot express how much I get and love this book. I'm beyond ecstatic to follow her blog update. 
  • What a frigging well-created story?
  • I love how she shows people coming in and out of the MC's life. That's how reality is. It's not always neat with a person being present and important for more than a chapter.
  • This is a beautiful, beyond complicated and ultimately adorable love story. More than a story about boy meets girl, it's about the girl's love, disillusionment and eventual hope in America and democracy. We've all been there, no matter our politics.
  • My big takeaway from this book came from that dick, Reggie. He said apathy blows. Love and hate are better. Doing or feeling nothing ruins life. Being passionate is what it's all about. What a powerful message from a book?
5 of 5
Read more here.

What Lies Behind by Cynthia Hill *** READ OF THE MONTH ***
Told interestingly in a two-string linear format, the bulk of the story follows the life of Lillian Sullivan from her young childhood as the well-raised child of socialites through her ultimate final home in a nursing home. Beginning during the roaring 20s and ending, today, Lily lives through the Great Depression, World War II and a constantly changing world.


Faced with pressures and stigmas that come with the time period and her place in society, Lily makes plenty of wrong decisions, which negatively alter her life. At same time, she faces challenges beyond her control. Raised to always keep her emotions concealed and behave as a lady, Lily's attempts to please her parents by doing so. Ultimately, this creates barriers between herself and romantic relations and with her children and ultimately grandchildren.
5 of 5
Read more here.

The Saint's Devilish Deal by Kristina Knight
Written with similar style to What a Texas Girl Wants, this was a fast read. The story starts quickly in exotic Puerto Vallarta, where the hero and heroine grew up together. After having a fling four years ago while they both lived and worked in Napa, they are thrown together to save a villa.

Of the two, I found Saint's back story the most interesting and well-developed. He is back in Mexico after a nasty surfing accident left him injured. He is at odds with his father and brother, and struggles to help his mother who continues to stay with her abusive husband. Damaged goods are always appealing.
3.5 of 5
Read more here.

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November 7, 2012

the toss-up

I Voted Today!... err... yesterday.
What can I say? You win some, you lose some.

I'm of course talking about my gross under performance for National Novel Writing Month.

Like many of my fellow Americans, I spent most of last night glued to the TV watching election coverage as the results poured in. I even stayed up to watch the candidates' speeches, because (as EVERY commentator said about a million times) it ain't over till it's over. The result was about 25 words written for my novel.

Sigh.

Fortunately, I figured this might happen. I am quietly a big fan of election results, even before I was old enough to vote or worked in a news room. In preparation, I worked extra hard Monday night to bring my word count slightly above where it needed to be last night to stay on pace to reach 50,000 words. Though I hoped for better from myself, what are you going to do?

With the election behind us, the real work begins, but I'm ready for it. Today, I plan to continue the pace I set Monday, calling yesterday a lapse in time. With any luck, I can post some big numbers today, stay on pace Thursday and Friday, then make this weekend, and my lack of serious responsibilities attached to it, count.

How are all of you doing with your NaNoWriMo goals.

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November 6, 2012

sitting pretty thanks to accountability

Mr. Bingley is always lurking over my shoulder to keep me on task, judging
me if I stray. He'll judge you, too, if you don't get back to writing.
It's hard for me to be a lazy writer when I have a creeper for a cat. I swear to you, Mr. Bingley watches my every move, and a lot of the times he judges me. Oh, he loves me. I am his sun, his moon, his alpha, and omega. But the judgement is still there.

Where were you? What were you doing? Have you worked on your novel, today?

My Starbucks office.
Fortunately, this National Novel Writing Month is off to a good start, which means my answers are sure to appease my overlord.

"I was at (the library/coffee shop/cafe/kitchen table). I was writing. And yes. I surpassed my projected word count, thank you very much."

The first weekend of NaNoWriMo is usually the easiest and most exciting for us writers. I'm speaking in generalities of course -- some of you haven't started, but I'm sure your first few days will be the ones you get crazy good word counts on. We are all still excited about our projects and want to keep them alive.

For my part, this year I have decided to spend at least half an hour to two hours writing somewhere outside of my home every day. I tend to stay on task better when I go somewhere with a clear mission, and I want to make my time count. All too often I sit at my computer here at home and look up Ryan Gosling memes.

My Panera office.
This past weekend, I also had a few other projects on my plate. I finished up edits on my first NaNoWriMo book and sent it to an editor. I transcribed notes for a friend. I also had a Halloween party, a friend visiting from out of town and cocktails with another friend who I hadn't seen in a while. Oh, and I also watched the Huskers win last minute and led my Fantasy Football team to victory.

How did I do it? By making the time.

I woke up early Friday morning to do my word count, because I knew I had dinner and drinks with my friend from out of town. Word count met.

Saturday, I woke up early again (6:30!). I gave an hour to my novel then spent two hours editing at Starbucks then another three at the library.

My library office
I took a break for NU football and put together my costume. It was a success. But I also made a decision not to have more than one drink at the Halloween party, and I left by 11 p.m. Knowing I had an extra hour thanks to Daylight's Savings, I wrote for an hour or two before bed.

Sunday, I went to Panera for breakfast and crammed in a bit of writing for two hours. I also had a delicious breakfast and coffee while I did it. I came home to do the transcriptions, watched football, met my friend for a drink and even had time to try on about 20 different outfits my mom brought me from her toss pile.

While I was not able to put up huge word count numbers over the weekend, I stayed alive, and I was happy. It made me motivated enough to wake up early yesterday and today to write before work; to take my notebook and write during lunch; to leave my house after I got home last night and spend a couple of hours in serious writing at the library.

Lady Magnum P.I. says
you can do it.
What I am getting at with all of this is writing a novel is possible if you make the time for it. You have to know what works best for you, which will take some trial and error. Once you know your best practices, use them and find ways to keep them fresh.

With that, I'll leave you with this final thought. Today is Election Day in the U.S., and one of my first thoughts when I woke up was about how excited I am to vote. After that, I thought about the suffragettes who worked hard for years to give me the right to be excited to vote. They gave up personal time, stood their ground and most of all were incredibly brave.

If you want to make your NaNoWriMo books a success, think like the suffragettes. Be willing to give up some of your nap time. Believe in your story and its right to be told. And always be brave.

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November 5, 2012

excerpt of 'to catch a bad guy'

Blogger's Note: I am delighted to share this excerpt of Marie Astor's novel, To Catch a Bad Guy, as part of her Chick Lit Plus blog tour. PLUS: Everyone who leaves a comment on Marie’s tour page will be entered in the giveaway! Anyone who purchases their copy of How To Catch a Bad Guy before November 19 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries! Three individual winners will receive a piece of jewelry shown above and one bonus winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Please note this is open to US residents only.

The Scoop:
Janet Maple's stellar career ended with a layoff and her boyfriend of almost five years told her that he wants to be just friends. When she lands a job at one of New York's premier boutique investment firms, Janet begins to hope that her luck is finally turning for the better. Not only is she happy with her new paycheck, but things also seem to be looking up on the personal front, as the company's handsome attorney expresses keen interest in Janet. However, her euphoria is short-lived, as Janet soon discovers alarming facts about her new employer's business tactics. When her boss dismisses her suspicions as groundless, Janet finds herself confiding to a cute IT engineer, Dean Snider. The closer she gets to Dean, the more Janet is tempted to break her rule of not dating co-workers, but what she doesn't realize is that everything she knows about Dean, including his occupation and even his name, is a lie.

Dennis Walker is a top-notch white collar crime investigator who will stop at nothing to put culprits away. When an opportunity for an undercover assignment at one of New York's premier boutique broker dealers comes up, Dennis jumps at the chance, adopting a persona of geeky IT engineer, Dean Snider. While he may be an ace at his job, years of experience fail him when Dennis meets Janet Maple and finds himself torn between his professional obligations and his personal desires. Will he have to choose between his feelings and duty, or will he find a way to satisfy both?
Excerpt:
Janet Maple took a deep breath while she waited for her train to arrive. She was twenty-nine years old, but this morning she felt like a first-grader. The same sickening feeling churned her stomach that she remembered when she first entered a room full of strangers as a five-year- old. She was much older now – a professional with a law degree to boot, and, until recently, with a successful career at the District Attorney’s office, but today none of these things gave her comfort or confidence.

It was not merely the prospect of starting a new job that gave Janet the heebie-jeebies, but it was the fact that she would be working for Lisa Foley. Talk about stirring up old insecurities… Lisa Foley had been the queen ‘b’ in high school. Come to think of it, Lisa was still the queen ‘b.’ Every time Janet talked to her best friend from high school, Lisa never failed to bring back ‘the old glory days’ as she called them. With friends like Lisa, who needed a time machine? One could always count on Lisa’s sharp memory to recall every embarrassing incident of adolescence.

Well, the past is the past, Janet thought. I should be thankful to Lisa for giving me a job. When your former boss also happens to be your ex-boyfriend, the subject of references becomes dicey to say the least. Regardless of how stellar one’s background looks on paper, employers always want references, but Lisa had hired Janet without any references. In fact, Lisa’s phone call had come with unsettlingly perfect timing. Just as Janet was about to give up all hope of white-collar employment, her old friend had come to the rescue. That was another one of Lisa’s remarkable qualities: for as long as Janet had known her, her friend seemed to have a radar for people’s misfortunes. In high school, Lisa was always the first to know who got dumped, who didn’t make the cut on the football team, and whose parents got laid off. So it was not surprising that Lisa knew about Janet’s being “downsized” by the District Attorney’s office, and when she offered her a job as Assistant General Counsel at Bostoff Securities, Janet literally jumped at the chance.
Remember
Everyone who leaves a comment on Marie’s tour page will be entered in the giveaway! Anyone who purchases their copy of How To Catch a Bad Guy before November 19 and sends their receipt to Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com, will get five bonus entries! Three individual winners will receive a piece of jewelry shown above and one bonus winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card! Please note this is open to US residents only.

About the Author:
Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels This Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm, On the Rim of Love; romantic suspense, To Catch a Bad Guy; and a short story collection, A Dress in a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Over the Mountain and Back.

If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by her website: www.marieastor.com or visit her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection.

Connect with Marie:
Website: http://www.marieastor.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marieastorcollection
GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4665230.Marie_Astor
Twitter: @marieastor

Books by Marie Astor:
  • This Tangled Thing Called Love – a contemporary romance about overcoming one’s inhibitions, learning to tango, and finding one’s true love match.
  • Lucky Charm – a humorous contemporaryromance about love, luck and friendship. 
  • On the Rim of Love – a contemporary romance about the unexpected power of love. 
  • A Dress in a Window – a collection ofshort stories about love, coincidences, and fate. 
  • Over the Mountain and Back – young adult fantasy adventure novel about a boy who takes his snowboard for a ride and finds himself in a magical, hidden world he never knew existed. 
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