Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is this thing on?
I'm still waiting on the winner of the Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway, Caroline McMaster, to contact me to claim her bookmark.  If I don't hear from her by Friday, I'll pick another winner.

The clock is ticking...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Giveaway Hop Winner!

It's time to wrap this giveaway up, so without further ado...

Congratulations to Caroline McMaster!

Please email me your address and I'll get your bookmark in the mail right away!

Thanks to all who entered, and be sure to come back next month for another giveaway!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Support the Arts edition

Don't make me celebrate all by myself!  Check out VikLit's blog for the other sites involved in this blog hop, and let's spread the gratitude around!

This week, I'm celebrating the fact that I attended a play.  I have season tickets to a local community theatre, and I attended my first show, which was charming.

I love going to plays.  I'm very fortunate to have seen performances all over the world, but there is something special about community theatre. It's such a labor of love for all involved, and while it's not always the most polished show, I always have a great time.  I'm really looking forward to seeing the other plays this year, and I think they're going to be just as enjoyable.

What are you celebrating this week?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Photo Friday - Das Boot edition

No, not a boat (apologies to the Germans) but a boot.  As in, the NTRWA boot o' authors.

You see, my local RWA chapter does this thing where authors receive a giant pencil when they sell a book.  The pencil has your name, your book title, and the publisher's name on it.  You get to stand up and talk about your book when it's awarded, and then the pencils are placed in the boot until December, at which point you get to take them home.

I don't mean to brag, but my chapter is pretty dang awesome.  That boot fills up fast, and my goal when I first joined the chapter last year was to someday get a pencil (or two) of my own.  This month, I did just that.  (It's the dark blue one in front, in case you're wondering)

Are you a member of a writing group?  If so, how does your group celebrate the successes of its members?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Random Acts of Kindness Blog Hop!

This month, I'm excited to participate in the Random Acts of Kindness blog hop, sponsored by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Read For Your Future.

This month, I'm giving away a pretty red suede bookmark, embossed with the Chinese symbol for love.  A fitting token for the month of Valentine's Day, I think. :)

This giveaway is open to US readers, and will run until February 24.  On Monday, February 25, I'll post the name of the winner.  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

Good luck to all! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 15, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Family edition

If you're just joining us, this is a blog hop hosted by VikLit at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author.  The idea is to post about the little things you're celebrating this week, since no positive event is too small.

This week, I'm celebrating the fact that I got to spend time with my brother and sister-in-law.  They live out of state, and I generally only get to see them at Christmas.  They were in town this week, and we spent several hours together over the course of their trip.  It was great to visit with them, even though I wish their trip could have lasted longer.

How was your week?

Photo Friday - For the Love of Office Supplies

I wish I could say that these 2 cups represent the total of my pen collection, but that would be a lie.

I have a weakness for office supplies.  I lose track of time in a Staples or Office Depot, and roam the aisles checking out all the pens, post-its, notebooks, and calendars.  Don't even get me started on the briefcases and desk accessories!

Do I use all these pens?  No, of course not.  Do I need more pens?  No. But I can't help myself from buying more, especially if they're the gel pens that write so smoothly, with a squishy grip that makes for easy holding.  At least I'm happy with cheap(ish) writing utensils--I can't imagine how ridiculous things would be if I preferred expensive fountain pens or something along those lines.

Do you love office supplies, too?  What's your weakness?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Books Go To The Movies - Hansel and Gretel

I took German in college (Sprechen sie Deutsche?  No?  That's okay, I don't either. [g]).  One of our assignments was to translate Hansel and Gretel from German into English.  I spent many hours in the library, poring over my German-to-English dictionary, trying to piece the story together as I identified words.  It gave me a new appreciation for translators, and while it was a lot of work, I did enjoy the project.

I haven't read the story in years, but nevertheless, I feel comfortable in saying that the movie is quite a departure from the original fairy tale.

Hansel and Gretel are all grown up, and they hate witches.  So much so, that they've made destroying witches their lives' work.

As the movie opens, they've come to a village to discover why the local children are going missing.  They immediately suspect witches (I guess when you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail) and set off to find and rid the surrounding area of said creatures.  They're confronted by an evil, powerful witch who thwarts them at every turn, and their past comes back to haunt them as they strive to rescue the children.

I'm not sure what I expected going in to this movie, but I was a bit surprised at how graphic it was.  There were several scenes that were unexpectedly gruesome, and didn't seem to fit in with the overall tone of the film.

I also felt the movie was a bit predictable.  The outcome was never really in doubt, which meant that suspenseful moments weren't all that powerful.

Overall, I was disappointed, despite the fact that Jeremy Renner takes his shirt off.  I guess the best comparison is Van Helsing, another gothic, monster-y type movie that fell flat for me.

Has anyone else seen this one?  What did you think?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Liebster Award!

The lovely and talented J.A. Ward Writes has nominated me for a Liebster Award!  Thanks so much--I really appreciate it!

There are a few rules for this award, so before we get started, let me list them here:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.

2. Answer the 11 questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself and create 11 questions for your nominees;

3. Present the Liebster Blog Award to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen. (No tag backs)
4. Copy and Paste the blog award on your blog.
So without further ado, here are the questions from my nominator:

1. Who is your favorite author and why?  Diana Gabaldon.  She transports you to another time and place, and her characters are so vibrant and real--it always takes me some time to come back to the real world after I stop reading one of her books.  I basically want to be her when I grow up.

2. If you could hang out with one character from a book or TV show for a day, who would it be?  Hmmm...  I have to pick just one? Oh, fine.  Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series.  Or maybe Claire Fraser.  Or Gus from Lonesome Dove.  Or... :)

3. Edward or Jacob? Or neither? Or..both??  Neither, really.  But, if I'm forced to pick, I'll go with Jacob.

4. What was your favorite book series you have ever read that wasn’t Harry Potter?  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  If you haven't read this series yet, you must.

5. Do you have any pets? If so, what do you have?  I have two orange and white kitties.  They are stinkers.

6. What aspect of writing do you find the hardest?  Editing.  It can be difficult to see how to change a scene to make it work.

7. If you could live anywhere else for a year – all expenses paid – where would you live and why?  London.  I love that city--it's one of my favorite places in the world.  So much to see and do, so much history.  Just an amazing place.

8. Who is your favorite band/singer?  Probably The Old 97's.  I've really liked them since college, and I have all their albums.

9. Name a celebrity crush.  Just one?  Jeremy Renner.  And Bradley Cooper.  And Brooks Laich.  And... :)

10. If you could go back and change your name from birth, would you do it? What would you change it to?  Nah.  It's nice to have a unique name, even if no one ever pronounces it correctly.

11. Favorite vice or addiction?  Books!  I can't leave a bookstore without buying one or several books.

And here are my 11 random facts:

1. I grew up in Texas, but have never fired a gun.

2. When I was in high school, my winterguard team won the world championships.  I still have the gold medal packed away in a box.

3. My favorite color is green.  It used to be purple, and I still really like purple, but green has pulled ahead in recent years.  Purple is taking it well.

4. I am a huge Anglophile.  Almost to the point of obsession.

5. I hate to be sticky.  To the point that I will avoid certain foods if there is even a chance I might get sticky.

6. I am one of the few remaining people who has not read 50 Shades of Grey.

7. I can't watch scary/horror movies.  They bother me.  For some reason, scary TV shows don't have this effect.

8. My favorite sport is hockey.  Love to watch it on TV, love going to a game even more.  I can't ice skate to save my life, but I appreciate it when I see it :)

9. I love superhero movies.  This past summer was awesome, with Spiderman, The Avengers, and Batman all coming out in the same year. I was in nerd heaven!

10. If I wasn't a professor, I think I'd be a veterinarian.  Like J.A. Ward wrote in her post, I'm on my way to becoming a crazy cat lady.  I only have 2 right now, but I'm about to move into a new house (rather than an apartment), which means I'll be able to get more!

11. My favorite holiday is Halloween.  I haven't dressed up in years, but I always enjoy seeing other people's costumes.

Enough about me.  Here are 11 questions for my nominees:

1. What's your favorite writing/reading snack?
2. Where have you always wanted to visit?
3. What's your favorite accent?
4. What movie do you always watch when you find it on TV?
5. What's your favorite hobby?
6. Say you can quit your day job and do whatever you want.  What would you do?
7. What made you want to start writing?
8. What is your favorite genre?
9. Where is your writing/reading nook?
10. What book do you wish you had written?
11. Early bird, night owl, or something in between?

And my 11 nominees are... (in no particular order)

All excellent blogs, and I recommend you check them out!

Thanks again, J.A. Ward!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - and the big ones, too!

Yay for Friday!  That means it's time for another blog hop, hosted by VikLit.  Check out her blog for the full list of fellow celebrants!

This week I'm celebrating several rather big events.  In case you missed my original announcement, I got an agent, and I signed a contract with Harlequin Romantic Suspense for my first book!  Champagne all around!

I'm also thrilled to report that a former student of mine was awarded a scholarship!  S/he emailed to tell me the good news, and my heart grew three sizes as I read the message.  I'm so proud of them!

How was your week?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Photo Friday - How do you take your books?

That's a picture of just one of my bookshelves...  As you can see, it's full to bursting.  The others are the same.  I'm surrounded by books. It's fabulous. :)

I am definitely a physical book person.  While I own a Kindle, and do read on it, I just can't let go of my physical books.

What about you?  Are you an e-book reader, or a physical book reader?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IWSG - February edition

Can you believe it's already February?  That means it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post.  Check out the full list of participating blogs on Alex Cavanaugh's blog.

This month, I'd like to talk about how to handle criticism.  I'm a professor, and you may know that there is a website where students rank their professors in terms of easiness, helpfulness, etc.  I recently discovered that my ratings on this website are abysmally bad--these students are essentially doing the digital equivalent of burning me in effigy because I'm apparently too mean, too hard, too uncaring, too whathaveyou.

On the other end of the spectrum are the students who call or email to tell me they think I'm doing a good job.  They're not quite as vocal as the haters, but there is definitely a non-zero number of people who like what I'm doing and want me to continue.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I am not the 'worst professor evah' but neither am I the greatest.  I am human, which means I'm going to have bad days and make mistakes, and that's okay.

I think the same is true for writing.  There are going to be people who absolutely love what you write, and they can't wait for you to put something else out so they can read that, too.  These fans sit on the edge of their seats in breathless anticipation as you spin magic from your keyboard.

Then there are the people who hate your work, who think you're the worst, most untalented hack to ever pick up a pen.  These are the criticisms that are going to stick with you, that will keep you up at night and make you wonder if everyone else feels like that, too.

I'm not saying we need to dismiss our critics.  Far from it--I think it's important to try to parse out the truths in any critique.  There is, however, a nice way to criticize, and a not-so-nice way to criticize.  I most definitely prefer constructive feedback, but not everyone will provide that and sometimes I have to put on my armor and wade through the thicket of snarkiness, looking for the nuggets of truth that I can polish up and put to good use.

It's important not to let the haters get you down though.  There will always be negativity, there will always be snark, there will always be someone who enjoys crushing the dreams of others.  You can get a thousand compliments, but it's always the insult that sticks with you the longest.  The trick is to let it go.

And if you figure out how to do that, I hope you'll share your secret :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This is really happening...


I've been dreaming about this day for a long time, and I'm thrilled to say that I have acquired an agent and signed a contract with Harlequin Romantic Suspense!

I still can't believe it.

Edge of Trust will soon be in print!

I don't know if the title will stay, or when it will come out (late this year, or early next year most likely), but you can be sure I'll keep you all posted every step of the way!

I'm completely over the moon, and it's still sinking in.  I'm finally able to compose sentences instead of sputtering, but just barely.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my family and friends for their support.  I have the best beta readers ever, and I'm a member of some online writing communities who are a constant source of inspiration and encouragement.  Same goes for my local RWA chapter--North Texas RWA.  I leave every meeting fired up about writing, and they are a truly special group of people whom I admire and appreciate more than I can say.

So there you have it.

Some dreams really do come true.

Monday, February 4, 2013

An awesome start to the week...

Fingers crossed he won't do it again anytime soon!

How's your Monday going?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things: Comfort food edition

It's time for the weekly Celebrate the Small Things blog hop!  Head on over to VikLit's blog for a full list of those participating, or to sign yourself up!

This week, I'm celebrating comfort food.  A friend stopped by today with this little gift for me:

Now, I know there are some poor, misguided souls out there who do not appreciate the goodness and wonder that is corned beef hash. Truly, I feel bad for them, but there's no accounting for taste ;)

I can't wait to enjoy this with an egg over-easy on top...

Sorry, had to wipe the drool off the keyboard.

Anyway, what are you celebrating this week?