Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Wrap-Up

I hope you're all enjoying the Easter weekend!  We've got glorious weather here in the Pacific Northwest.  I'm lovin' it!  The last two days I slathered on the sunscreen -- SPF 50 because I'm as white as an albino cave lizard -- and sat outside to soak up the sunshine.  I managed to finish reading The Sweetest Dark while relaxing on my lawn chair, which brings my total books read this year up to fifteen.

Anyway, I recently saw a month end meme while browsing blogs, and thought it would be a great way to wrap up each month and share news about my life and writing. 

WRITING  

~  I reworked my author bio.

~  I critiqued a friend's manuscript.

~  I wrote a logline, 3-line pitch, and draft blurb for my current work-in-progress (WIP), a Highlander novella.  I truly do not like writing pitches and blurbs.  It's quite challenging trying to condense 40k+ words into a few concise, exciting sentences.  It took me an entire afternoon and lots of revisions to create a decent elevator pitch.  A big thank you goes to my  writer friend Natalie for reading the pitch and sharing her thoughts.  I value her opinion immensely.  I wanted to have my final pitch up on my blog before I posted this wrap-up, but life got in the way.  I'll share it soon on my WIPs page.

~  I didn't reach my monthly word count goal.  Like I said, life got in the way.  I do like what I've written and am pleased with where my story is going.  I'm working very hard on making writing a daily habit.  I need to do that and just keep writing and eventually I'll type "the end".


BOOKS

~  As I mentioned I've read fifteen books so far this year.  I wish I'd managed to read a few more novels this month.  Having said that, I'm still pleased with my progress.


PERSONAL

~  Last week I dealt with a family medical emergency that left me exhausted and completely stressed out.  After a week-long stay in the hospital, my father is now home and doing much better. 

~  My brother-in-law -- my hubby's twin brother -- is here for his annual visit, sans the wife and kiddos.  We're having a marvelous time together. =)

How was your month?   
Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: The Sword Dancer

Every single one of Jeannie Lin's book covers are gorgeous.  The artwork for her upcoming release, The Sword Dancer, is equally stunning.


As with the author's previous books, everything about The Sword Dancer cover -- from the fashion to the sword, and the bold colors -- perfectly evokes the magnificent period of the Tang Dynasty.    I've no doubt this romance novel is going to be just as lovely as the cover.

What to you think about the cover?

Friday, March 22, 2013

My Friday Love (5)

Happy Friday!

 
My Friday Love is a weekly meme, which spotlights the things you loved during the past week.

----------------------------------------------

The Sweetest Dark.  This week I received an ARC of The Sweetest Dark.  I was very happy to find the package in my mailbox, and let out a little squeal of excitement when I tore open the envelope and saw the pretty purple cover.  Shana Abé is my favorite historical romance author.  I love her poetic prose and novels, especially her adult Drákon books.  


"The green of his eyes seemed to shift, growing darker, a summer storm rolling in.  It was pulling me with it, too, spellbinding.  I started up at him and felt a fresh heat wash over me, dry lightening charging the atmosphere.  Everything around us glowed brighter and brighter, as if we ourselves were caught in an electric strand.  I smelled cinnamon and vanilla and rain, a combination so delicious I nearly licked my lips." 
 
 ~ page 70 of The Sweetest Dark by Shana Abé
 

This YA historical / paranormal is the first in a series that continues the Drákon saga.  There's a gothic, turn-of-the-century boarding school.  There's a love triangle, which isn't as annoying as you might think.  There's a realistic heroine, Lora, who is streetwise, smart, and terribly powerful. I adore her immensely, and I'm not even halfway through the book.


Cupcakes.  On Monday my hubby surprised me with a cupcake.  It's the little things -- and buttercream frosting -- that make me smile.


Good Friends.  There are friends and then there are good friends.  A good friend shares your interests.  A good friend is supportive and inspiring.  A good friend is someone you can trust with your secrets. 

Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars (2009)

  My writer friend Natalie is all of these things and more.  I feel lucky to call her a good friend.  ♥


What are you loving this week?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

"St. Patrick's Day is an enchanted time --
a day to begin transforming winter's dream into summer's magic."

~ Adrienne Cook

Source: msbeecusd.blogspot.com


St. Patrick's Day is a fun holiday, even if you're not of Irish descent like me.  You can see a parade.  Wear plaid.  Paint your nails lime green.  I did. 

Now my nails look this bright...  =)

Source: polishorperishblogspot.com
 
You can eat corned beef and cabbage.  Drink a Shamrock Shake or grass-colored beer.  Do a wee jig.  Ask a stranger to kiss you.  Or you can watch a movie set in Ireland. 

If you're a rom-com fan like me, you'll love Leap Year starring Amy Adams and Matthew Goode.  It's a sweet, charming movie with a storybook ending that's sure to make you smile.

LEAP YEAR (2010)



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wave Hello

In 1872 French hairdresser Marcel Grateau introduced a new wavy hairstyle.  

 
The Marcel Wave was achieved by reversing curling tongs to produce a curl, rather than a crimp.

hji.co.uk

 esty.com

 ehow.com

 The style remained in vogue until the permanent wave crimped it's style in the 1920's and '30s.

 -- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Friday, March 15, 2013

My Friday Love (4)

Happy Friday!

My Friday Love is a weekly meme, which spotlights the things you loved during the past week.


Braveheart Soundtrack.  I don't always listen to music when I write.  When I do, the music has to be instrumental.  I especially like to write to movie soundtracks.  This week I cranked up the Braveheart soundtrack while I wrote scenes for my Highlander novella. 


It'd been some time since I last listened to this score composed by James Horner.  I couldn't have selected a more perfect soundtrack to transport me to the Highlands.  The music is powerful, haunting, and beautiful. 


Les Mis Soundtrack.  I've also been listening to the Les Mis soundtrack -- not for inspiration but pure enjoyment.  If you're a fan of this music, you can appreciate my obsession with the score from this movie musical.  


I love every single emotional note -- yes, even those sung by Russell Crowe -- because they take me right back to this amazing movie.  

 
Aaron Trevitt's voice is breathtaking.  The man could sing the dictionary and make it sound gorgeous.


Klaus.  Forget Damon and Stefan, those hot Salvatore brothers.  My favorite character on The Vampire Diaries is Klaus.  He's the sexiest vampire villain ever.  His voice makes me melt.
 


Grimm.  I'm happy Grimm is back on TV.  I really like this fairy tale / mystery / cop show.  It has great relationships and heroic characters.  It has creepy and dark paranormal tales.  It has a fantastic setting. 


Last October my hubby and I (along with our siblings and their spouses) toured the filming locations in Portland.  Now whenever we watch the show and see a place we visited, we shout out "been there!".  It makes the show even more fun to watch.


Spiral Notebooks
.  I'm never without a notebook.  I use them to jot down writing ideas and notes.  No plain paper for me.  I like colorful spiral notebooks with pretty covers.  The whimsical designs make me happy on gloomy Northwest days.


 


The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden.  On Monday I started reading The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden by Jessica Sorensen.  Thanks for the recommend, Natalie!  I love this book!  I'm halfway through it and am having hard time putting it down.  I look forward to reading more New Adult novels from this author.


That's My Friday Love.  What are you loving this week?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Through the Zombie Glass

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...



THROUGH THE ZOMBIE GLASS
White Rabbit Chronicles, Book 2
Author - Gena Showalter
Genre - Young Adult 
Publisher -Harlequin Teen
Expected Pub Date - September 2013
   


Inspired by the childhood classic Alice in Wonderland, this harrowing and romantic story features teen zombie slayer Alice Bell who has lost so much -- family, friends, her home.  After a strange new zombie attack, Alice fears she may be losing her mind as well.  A terrible darkness blooms insider her, urging her to do wicked things.  The whispers of the dead assault her ears and mirrors seem to come frighteningly to life.  She's  never needed her team of zombie slayers more -- including her boyfriend, Cole -- than she does now.  But as Cole strangely withdraws and the zombies gain new strength, Ali knows one false step may doom them all.



I really liked Alice in Zombieland, the first book in this series, even though it has very few similarities to the original Alice in Wonderland story.  I didn't mind that too much -- or the fact that the zombies aren't your typical zombies.  Who cares when the baddest of the bad boys hero, Cole, is so darn swoon-worthy.  ;)

 -- Book blurb courtesy of The Bookish Brunette blog --  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: The Edge of Never

A Facebook friend of mine called my attention to The Edge of Never, a New Adult book by J. A. Redmerski published last year.  I was hooked the moment I saw the cover.  It's absolutely beautiful!  I love the clean, simple look.  I love how the model is posed, her loose braid draped carelessly over her shoulder.  And I love how the white-and-red title pops against the muted background.   


This author is new to me, so I don't know what to expect from this e-book.  If other readers' rave reviews are any indication, this may just be the best 99 cents I ever spent on Amazon.

What do you think about this cover?   

Friday, March 8, 2013

First Line Friday: X Marks the Scot

Happy Friday!  

Whenever I discover a new book, I can't wait to read the first line.  That first sentence tells a reader so much about what's to come in the story. 


This week I finished reading X Marks the Scot, book 2 of the Bad Boys of the Highlands series by Victoria Roberts.  Here's the first line:   



"Get up, ye whoreson."
 

Some of you may not like stories that begin with dialogue, but I do.  If done well, a first line of dialogue can act as a great hook to pull readers in and demand they keep reading.  In this instance, I think the single line of dialogue works very well.  It not only alerted me to the upcoming conflict, but also made me want to learn more about the situation.
   
What do you think?  Does this first line hook you?    
       
Thursday, March 7, 2013

In My Mailbox (35)

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren, and is a way for everyone to show their new books for the week, including those bought, swapped, won or received for review.


WON

THE CHIEFTAIN
The Return of the Highlanders, Book 4
Margaret Mallory
Historical Romance


 I can't wait to read this, the final book in the amazing Return of the Highlanders series. 


SEDUCTION OF A HIGHLAND WARRIOR
Highland Warrior, Book 3

Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Historical Romance

This one is sure to be another great Highlander read!

Contest wins courtesy of Ramblings From This Chick blog.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Waiting On Wednesday: Any Duchess Will Do

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, and is a way to show off the books you can't wait to be released.  This week I choose...


ANY DUCHESS WILL DO
Spindle Cove, Book 4
Author - Tessa Dare
Genre - Historical Romance
Publisher - Avon Books
Release Date - May 28, 2013
  


Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed this season -- or any season -- but his diabolical mother abducts him to "Spinster Cove" and insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence.  Griff decides to teach her a lesson that will end the marriage debate forever.  He chooses the serving girl.

Overworked and struggling, Pauline Simms doesn't dream about dukes.  All she wants is to hang up her barmaid apron and open a bookshop.  That dream becomes a possibility when an arrogant, sinfully attractive duke offers her a small fortune for a week's employment.  Her duties are simple: submit to his mother's "duchess training"...and fail miserably.

But in London, Pauline isn't a miserable failure.  She's a brave, quick-witted, beguiling failure -- a woman who ignites Griff's desire and soothes the darkness in his soul.  Keeping Pauline by his side won't be easy.  Even if Society could accept a serving girl duchess -- can a roguish duke convince a serving girl to trust him with her heart?
 

I adore Tessa Dare's romantic Regency tales.  I love her witty dialogue. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Here She Comes, Miss Byzantium

The Byzantines were such great admirers of female pulchritude that they staged the world's first beauty contests. 

Chanel 2011 Fall Byzantine Collection by Karl Lagerfeld
crazyfashionistas.blogspot.com

One legend has it that the famed Theodora, an exotic dancer and actress in the Hippodrome, met her royal spouse Justinian when she appeared as a beauty contestant.

Empress Theodora (and entourage)
history4kids.org

Around 900 A.D., another empress, Theodosia, assembled twelve lovelies in long embroidered tunics, gold collars, headdresses, and shawls, and paraded them in front of the royal matriarch in the hope of winning a fairy-tale prize -- marriage to her son.
 
valerietan.com

Little is known about the new Miss Byzantium except that she was sixteen years old and wore a double strand of pearls in her hair.

-- Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger --
Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: It Happened One Midnight

The moment I set eyes on It Happened One Midnight by Julie Anne Long, I fell madly in love with the cover art.  Ain't it gorgeous?!?!?!



I'm attracted to the beautiful, eye catching colors in this cover.  The cool shades of green and blue remind me of the sea.  =)

What do you think?  Would this cover make you pick up the book for a closer look?
Friday, March 1, 2013

March Releases

Happy Friday!  Forget March Madness.  Unless you love college basketball.  I do not.  At all.  So instead of wishing your favorite team good luck in the new year, I'll just remind you to "Beware the Ides of March".  Oh, and don't forget to "get thee to a bookstore".  It's a new month, which means new releases.  Yay!  And a new blog design.  Yay!  Yay!

As you can see, I decided to change things a bit.  I was getting tired of the old look and, considering my obsession with Anne Hathaway ever since I saw her in Les Mis, this header seemed fitting.  For now. ;)

Here are the books I want to read this month:


HISTORICAL ROMANCE   


Magic by Moonrise
by Laura Navarre -- March 11


Faeries in Tudor England!  That's one good reason to read Magic by Moonrise, the first e-book in Laura Navarre's Magic Trilogy.


YOUNG ADULT  




Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza -- March 12

A teen discovers she's been living a lie and learns the truth about her identity: She was built in a science lab.  Oooooo!

Which books do you want to read this month?