Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summer Giveaway Hop!

I can't believe it's August!  When did that happen?

I'm delighted to participate in the Summer Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and BookHounds.

Up for grabs is Simply Irresistible, the first book in the Lucky Harbor series by Jill Shalvis.  Here's the back cover blurb:

Maddie Moore's whole life needs a makeover.
In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother-a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.
Starting over won't be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career-if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.
The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes-and mouth-are making it hard for her to remember that she's sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie's struggles to overcome the past, though she's about to discover that there's no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.
Doesn't that sound like a nice cool read for the last hot days of summer?
The giveaway will run until August 7, and is open to US residents.  On Thursday, August 8, I'll post the name of the winner.  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.
Good luck! :-)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What's in a name?

I've been thinking a lot about names lately, as I'm in the beginning phase of writing Book 3 (working title: DEADLY DECEPTIONS).  Characters pop up as I go, and they expect to have a name.  Funny how that works.

I tend to use more traditional names for my characters: Kelly and James are the heroine and hero in DEADLY CONTACT (out in November!) and Thomas and Claire are the couple at the heart of Book 2 (titled FATAL FALLOUT, for now).  In DEADLY DECEPTIONS, you'll meet Alex and Jillian.

Does it still smell sweet?
Naming characters is one of my favorite parts of writing.  I gravitate toward names that are fairly standard because I want the reader to be able to connect with the characters.  One of the things that bugs me as a reader is a name I can't figure out how to pronounce.  I stumble every time I read it, which takes me right out of the story.  I'm a little more forgiving if I'm reading a paranormal or sci-fi/fantasy novel, but I still find it distracting.

I generally don't consider the meaning of a name when I use it, as I'm more interested in how the sound of the name fits the character.  I do have a few quirks when it comes to naming characters though--I love comics and I love the books of Diana Gabaldon, so in every book I've written so far, one character has a name inspired by comic books, and one character has a name from the Outlander saga.  I'll leave it to you guys to find the references. :-)

What about you?  How do you name your characters?  And readers, do you prefer traditional or more creative character names?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Beta edition

It's time for another edition of Celebrate the Small Things, a blog hop hosted by the lovely VikLit.  Join us, and take a few minutes to read all the little things we're celebrating this week.  It's always an enjoyable experience.

Image credit
This week, I'm celebrating the fact that 2 of my author friends have trusted me to do beta reads on their books.  I am abysmally slow in getting back to them, but I am diligently working every day, and I love their stories. These are some truly talented ladies, and I cannot wait for their stories to be released into the world so that other people can enjoy them.  I've learned so much about writing from them, and their books have really re-awakened my love of historical romance. No lie--these books are great, and they deserve a huge audience!

What are you celebrating this week?

Photo Friday - Think cold thoughts...

It's. So. Hot.  Like, melt your shoes to the sidewalk hot.  And although we are promised a 'cold' front that will drop temperatures into the 90's (ha!), I don't know how much more I can take.

A few years ago, I lived in the D.C. area.  Winter was a brutal thing for this Texan girl, and I was not sorry to leave the snow.

Until now.

Ahh... I feel cooler already!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Author Assistants

I know some authors out there have assistants to help with social media stuff, mailings, and other ancillary duties, freeing up time for writing.

My assistants are not nearly as helpful.

Meet Josh.  Josh is my alarm clock--he enjoys waking me in the middle of the night to let me know his food bowl is empty.  If I don't respond in a timely manner, he starts chewing on my books.  Sometimes, he likes to supervise my writing, and his contribution generally involves pawing at me or rubbing against the monitor.  Very inspiring.

You've met Toby  before.  He has decided that he needs to sleep right next to me on the couch, pinning me into one position and giving me a hurt look if I decide, for the sake of my circulation, to move.  Very thoughtful of him.

So those are my furry little helpers.  I get a kick out of them, even though they are high-maintenance goofballs.  Do you have any four-legged assistants?  How do they 'help' you write?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DEADLY CONTACT back cover!

Please indulge my self-promo post today, as I'm so excited to share the back cover blurb for my debut book, DEADLY CONTACT, coming out in November!
It's a race against time—and a fatal outbreak—in this thriller of a debut! 
In one passionate night Special Agent James Reynolds and scientist Kelly Jarvis went from friends to lovers. Then Kelly walked away with only an apology. Now James is charged with solving a bioterrorist attack—and Dr. Jarvis works at the suspected lab. 
Is Kelly an accomplice or a victim? Just what are her secrets that drove her from James's bed? Soon one thing becomes clear: The ghosts of her past have nothing on the terrorists targeting her and Washington, D.C. Another threat bathes the city in red alert, and now there are lives at stake, in addition to hearts….
Does that make you want to read the book?  You can pre-order it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Book Depository, or wherever you buy books.  Squee!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Motivation - It's back!

I've decided to bring back Monday Motivation, which used to be one of my favorite things to post.  I stopped, because I was worried about finding images I could legally share.  Thanks to our RWA guest speaker this month (a local librarian) I'm now a lot more savvy about finding pictures to post. So without further ado, here's your motivation for this week!

Image credit

Friday, July 19, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Nerd edition

Time to celebrate!  This hop is the wonderful idea of VikLit, and I encourage you to visit her blog and sign up to join us!
A medieval doctor

As I write this, I'm watching a documentary on the plague.  My degree is in infectious diseases, so this warms my nerdy little heart.  I'm trying to figure out if I can rent the show for my micro students to watch.  I think they'd enjoy it, and it would be a good way to keep them busy while I'm out of town in October, attending the Surrey International Writers' Conference. Sounds like a win-win situation to me!

What are you celebrating this week?

Photo Friday - Sunset edition

I just love the colors of sunset.  I'm told sunrise has an amazing palette as well, but I'm not up early enough to know. :-)

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Know what I mean?

The Bookworm's Table
Claude Raguet Hirst
Why I love being a bookworm, reason #48,762:

That delicious sense of anticipation that comes before you pick your next book.  Will it be an obscure travelogue?  A classic you missed?  A mystery?  A love story?  Who knows?  The possibilities are endless.  It's like a blank canvas, a limitless number, all the books in the universe existing for you until you choose one, and then the infinite literary dimensions collapse into the book in your hand.  And then you finish it and the cycle repeats.

I'm sure there is a word for this sensation, but I don't know it.  What do you call it?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lazy days of summer...
It's the middle of July, which means the summer is about halfway over. I've been spending my time writing and getting a bit of reading done--it's been wonderful.  To top it off, we've had some unseasonable rain the past few days, which has helped to cool things down a bit.  All in all, I can't complain.

What have you been up to this summer?  Any big vacation plans?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Amazon Author Page!

Image Credit
I'm excited to report that I now have an Amazon Author Page!  Please stop by, and let me know what you think!

P.S. You may notice while you're there that DEADLY CONTACT is available for pre-order.  Prefer to read on a Nook?  Barnes and Noble has it up as well :-)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things - Writing progress edition

It's time to Celebrate the Small Things!  Be sure to stop by VikLit's blog to sign up for this great hop!

This week, I'm celebrating my progress on book 3.  I started writing on Monday at a friend's house, and was able to make quite a bit of progress--5000 words in 2 days.  I don't think I'll be able to sustain that pace, but it was nice while it lasted. :-)

How was your week?

Photo Friday - Dessert edition

I think we've all seen the recipes making the rounds on Facebook lately. You know that I am not a chef, but when I saw this 3-ingredient berry cobbler, I decided to give it a shot.

The prep work was astonishingly simple.  I put frozen berries into a 9 x 13 pan, sprinkled white cake mix on top, and added 12 oz of diet 7-Up.  It looked a little something like this:

I have to admit, I was concerned.  It doesn't exactly look appealing, and since you're not supposed to stir the ingredients, I was worried about the liquid making it throughout the dish.  Nevertheless, I followed the recipe, and after baking at 350 for 45 minutes, it looked like this:

A bit more edible-looking now.  After letting it cool, it was time for the final test.

Survey says: tasty! :-)

Have you tried any of the recipes that are trending right now?  What did you think?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

More cover love!

'Tis the season for cover reveals, and I'm delighted to share another gorgeous cover with you all!  This is for friend of the blog S.K. Anthony's debut novel, which will be released in September.  Without further ado, let me share her cover with you!

Title: Kinetic
Genre: NA Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 2013
Cover Design: Mae I Design & Photography

Being strong is one thing. Being an unlimited source of power is quite another.

Genetically altered by the Organization, Annie Fox takes down criminals CIA-style with her luminary strength. With nothing to mend but her broken heart, she is relentlessly pursued by her boss Derek Lake. Just when Annie is about to give him a chance, her ex-husband unexpectedly comes out of hiding. 

A wanted man, Nick Logan is a cold-hearted murderer who is considered enemy number one, and orders are clear: kill on contact. He is more powerful than ever and threatens the lives of those she holds most dear. His plan? Get his hands on Annie and use her Kinetic energy to destroy them all. When Annie finds herself with an opportunity to end him, she pauses, horrified by the scars covering the face she once loved. A split second that will cost her everything…

Want to learn more about the fabulous S.K.?  Be sure to check out the links below!


S. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders…she is convinced they are out to get her!

I'm so happy for you, S.K.!  Your cover is great, and the synopsis makes me want to read the book right now.  Is it September yet? :-)  

Thanks for stopping by the blog, and I hope many, many readers find you!

Freedom To Read Giveaway Winner!

It's time to announce the winner of the Freedom To Read giveaway hop. Congratulations go to...

Mary Bearden

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

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

Monday, July 8, 2013

Everything in its time...
I've realized something about myself: if I don't have a lot of things to do, nothing gets done.

It's not that I like the drama of deadlines, or the pressure that comes from knowing I have a lot of tasks on my to-do list.  It's more the fact that I make it a point to organize my time when I am busy, and when I'm not, I don't.

It's so easy to push off doing something when my schedule is open.  "Oh, yeah.  I'll get to that later."  Except I don't, and I look back at the end of day with the sinking realization that I wasted time that could have been spent doing something productive.

Don't get me wrong--I know it's important to take breaks, and to spend a day or two relaxing and decompressing.  But do I really need to play Bejeweled all afternoon?  I think not.

My biggest fear is that I'll reach the end of my summer break with nothing to show for it, writing-wise.  That's why I'm making it a point to prioritize my writing every day, even it I only get a few sentences down.  I would dearly love to have a draft of book 3 complete by the time I go back to work, but I know it will only happen if I make it happen.  If that means tricking myself into being busy, so be it.

What about you?  Do you work better when you're already busy, or are you more disciplined than me? :-)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Photo Friday - Covers, covers, and more covers!

This Friday, I'm excited to share some fabulous covers with you all.  Friend of the blog Yolanda Renee has two upcoming releases, and not only do they sound really good, the covers are amazing!  Check them out!

A killer plays cat and mouse with a young widow against the snowy backdrop of an Alaskan winter. Branded a black widow after the suspicious death of her millionaire husband, Sarah Palmer flees Seattle for Anchorage. But the peace and quiet she hoped to enjoy in her hometown is soon shattered. The killer is murdering Sarah look-alikes on the 14th of each month, taunting Sarah with a valentine of evidence. After her experiences in Seattle, Sarah is slow to go to the police. When she finally does, she finds Detective Steven Quaid, who is called on to protect the beautiful widow from a stalker intent on her destruction. Steven is not entirely sure she is not behind the scheme herself, and before long Sarah has him wound up tighter than barbed wire. Is Sarah a victim or a very skilled manipulator? With a killer on the loose and a climbing body count, Steven can't afford to hedge his bets-or his life.

After transferring to Seattle to repair his professional reputation, Detective Steven Quaid is unexpectedly demoted to the cold case squad. While helping a fellow officer he stumbles upon an unusual case–and an even more extraordinary foe. Unraveling the mystery gives him the case he is sure will right his stalled career, and brings him face to face with Luke Williams, aka Lucifer. An insidious man who delivers Quaid the ultimate choice: save his fiancée from an assassin’s bullet or stop the sacrifice of a young girl. Suddenly the effort to salvage his reputation pales in comparison to the loss of a future with the girl of his dreams.

And here's a little more about Yolanda herself: 

Although a native Pennsylvanian, Yolanda Renée chose to follow her adventurous spirit, which led her to Alaska where the Detective Quaid Series is set. Renée loves books, reading them, writing them, owning them – they are 'her precious'! She is all about mystery, murder, and romance . . . writing it! She is adventurous, shy, and creative. She is a wife, a mother, and a dreamer with an unquenchable desire for knowledge and an idealistic belief in good - yet she writes evil - but that's only because she loves defeating it!

A former controller who still loves numbers and now works hard to tell her stories in as few words as possible. Winning Flash Fiction challenges is her hobby and publishing her Detective Quaid mystery series her quest! She currently resides in Central Pennsylvania, with her husband, two sons, and the boss, Patches, her Boston terrier. You can learn more about Renée at her websites:

Congrats on your upcoming releases!  Thanks for sharing your covers with us today!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July!

To my fellow Americans, have a happy and safe 4th of July holiday!

To everyone else, have a happy and safe day! :-)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

IWSG - July edition

Hard to believe it's already the first Wednesday of a new month--where does the time go?  If you're just joining us, IWSG stands for Insecure Writers' Support Group, and it's a blog hop hosted by the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh.  Visit his blog to sign up and participate as we share our worries and stresses about this writing life.

Clark Kent puppy
I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a secret identity.  I write under a pen name, which is not that unusual.  The thing is, I've generally kept my writing life separate from my day job life, but lately the line of demarcation has grown thin.

I'm not ashamed of the fact that I write, or ashamed of what I write.  I just haven't wanted to talk about it much at work because of an irrational fear that I will no longer be seen as a professional.  My co-workers have in no way contributed to this fear, but it exists, nonetheless.  I really dread the day my students find out, because I imagine (again, irrationally) that the news will only serve as a distraction. I hope I'm wrong.

Most of my family and friends know that I'm a writer, but there is still a sizable contingent of people who have no idea.  I've always been a fairly private person, so it is not out of character for me to keep things close to the vest.  I guess I'm still trying to figure out how to talk about this part of my life with people who have already slotted me into a defined category.

What about you?  Do you have a separate 'writer identity,' or are you an open book?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop!

I'm excited to participate in this hop, hosted by BookHounds.  Be sure to check out her blog for a full list of participants!

Up for grabs is a copy of How to Ravish a Rake by Vicky Dreiling!  Here's the back cover blurb:

Amy Hardwick has one last Season to shake off her wallflower image and make a love match. If she can't, she'll set aside her dreams of romance and return home to a suitor who can provide security-if little else. What she doesn't count on is the inappropriate-and irresistible-attention lavished on her in a darkened library by rake extraordinaire Will "The Devil" Darcett . . .
When Will is caught in a tryst with the ton's shyest miss, he knows he must offer for her hand. Yet Amy is not the shrinking violet she seems to be. Passion lies beneath her prim exterior and Will is eager to release it. But winning Amy isn't simply a matter of seduction; first, Will must convince her that he's mended his wicked ways . . .
I always enjoy Vicky's books, and I think you will, too!
This giveaway will run through July 9, and is open to US residents.  On Wednesday, July 10, I'll post the winner's name.  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter, and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer camp!

Hooray for the first day of camp!

Now, I know what you're thinking: didn't you just do Camp NaNo in April? Why yes, yes I did.  While I didn't meet my word count goal that month, I did get a massive amount of work done, which is why I've signed up for another session of camp.  And besides, what summer would be complete without a stint at camp? (Incidentally, I never went as a child, so I guess I'm making up for that now.  Also, I'm trying to see how many times I can use the word camp in one blog post.)

My goal for this month is 40,000 words on book 3, and hopefully a working title as well.  It's an ambitious, but not impossible, task, and I think it will be a lot of fun.

Is anyone else out there doing the July Camp NaNo session?  Let me know so we can cheer each other on!