Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Wrap-Up

It's the end of another month. Thank God. August was an awful time for me.

WRITING

~ Barely wrote this month. I was feeling blue and unmotivated. On Thursday I finally opened my WIP and got busy. I only managed to write a couple hundred words that day, but I wrote more on Friday. I'm ready to find my writing groove again. I miss my characters.

~ Added some cute social media icons to my blog. Well, I think they're cute. Decide for yourself. ;)

~ Proposed a business venture to my CP. Nat is interested, so I'm doing a bit of research and writing up a business plan. I'll reveal more details later, when the time is right. *crosses heart*

~ Finished critiquing my friend's WIP.


PERSONAL

Here's why August was so God-awful...

Mid-month I said goodbye to my beloved girl Doxie, Ripley. She had another setback after her back surgery. A second disc higher up on her spine ruptured and a third disc was severely weakened and calcifying. The vet confirmed our worst fear: there was no hope that Ripley would recover. The pain meds weren't enough. She couldn't walk or move. She was in total agony. Therefore, my husband and I decided it was best to have Ripley euthanized. She was three weeks away from turning seven.

I'm still grieving the loss of our girl. She and I were freakishly attached to each other, so it's been very difficult. I miss her like crazy. I think I always will. Ripley was more than a pet, she was my fur baby.

  Ripley

I took this photo weeks after her surgery, the day her month-long kennel rest had finally come to an end. She was thrilled to be outside in the sunshine. I love how her crazy cute ears always stuck out at a funky angle. So did the vet and his staff. They said they'd treated many Dachshunds at the hospital, but never one with such adorable ears and such a sweet personality. Yep, she was something special. 
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Best. Advice. Ever.

I read a lot of articles about authors' paths to publication, just to get an idea of what to expect
if when it happens to me. I've come across pages and pages of good advice, but one article I recently read really stood out. Actually, it's the best advice ever. 

Photo credit: jodimillerphotographyblog.com 
 
The article is "25 Steps to Being a Traditionally Published Author: Lazy Bastard Edition", written by author Delilah S. Dawson. Click here to read the article.  
 
A big thanks to my CP, Nat, for sharing the link to this article on her blog. I've printed it out and intend to read it at least once a month.  
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Friday, August 23, 2013

Inspiring Words


Are you struggling creatively? Do you feel desperate to finish your WIP? Are you in need of a little inspiration?

Then click here and read an inspiring blog post written by my super talented CP, Natalie. Her epiphany is sure to pull you out of your creative rut.

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Photo credit: interaksyon.com/blogspot
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ten Reasons Why Women Love Romance Novels

I came across this post about why women love romance novels, and just had to share.

5 Reasons why the unenlightened think we love romance novels:

 Photo credit: Once Upon a Time courtesy of Fanpop

10. We're bored and have nothing better to do. This explains why a good portion of us read in lines, just before the lights go off in a theater, between meetings, before class, and during our commute... because we have time to spare.

09. We don't have to think when we read romance! Great! Let's leave our brains at home because everybody knows romance novels are right up there with gossip, soap operas, and fashion and celebrity magazines.

08. Secretly, we love the trashy cover art. Clinches and clutches and heaving bosoms really appeal to us. Who doesn't love toting embarrassingly bulging mantitty in her purse?

07. We love romance because it's petticoat porn. (What and men don't like watching poorly filmed flicks off the internet? At least ours is intellectual- it's literature!)

06. Better yet, on top of loving it for porn we also love it because we have no sex life. This is our only way to experience sex... ie vicariously through fictional characters. Right... as if any woman couldn't go into any bar and ask any man if he wanted to go home with her and he wouldn't say yes.

Now for 5 real reasons to love romance novels:



05. Truly, we love romance because it's emotional porn. Two hanky reads anyone? Passes out tissues.

04. Happily Ever Afters. We love a great ending and knowing that no matter how many troubles and problems seem to mount up eventually they're solved and go away.

03. Variety. There's a romance out there for everyone. Many of us develop preferences and seek out stories that cater to them.

02. The heroine. She's everything we want to be or admire in others with the exception of the Too Stupid to Live Heroines.

And the number one reason women love romance novels is:

01. The hero... because we can fall a little bit in love with him every time we open a book to read.

Courtesy of Keira from Love Romance Passion
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Byzantine Scriptures

And so it came to pass in the sixth century after our Lord Jesus Christ was martyred that Theodora, daughter of a bear tamer, whilst dancing in the Hippodrome arena clad in a long, tight tunic of lightest linen and large gold earrings, with ropes of pears twirling around her arms, with eyes dark with kohl and long hair unbraided, did so dance nearest the most revered and just Emperor Justinian and his heart didst stop in its tracks.

 Benjamin Constant - The Empress Theodora at the Colisseum.

Theodora, the most beautiful of women, wouldst dress in large gold collars, filled with emeralds and green as the eye of a cat and pearls as creamy white as goose down, and upon her head she wouldst set a gold and diamond-studded tiara.

Reliquiary Crosses, early Byzantine 5-11th century A.D.


 Byzantine pendant, Egypt, 600 A.D.

And so it came to pass that Justinian and Theodora would beget a legacy of beauty and style that would encompass glittering mosaics, jeweled brocaded gowns, and opulent Oriental pearls, in a court known for its levitating thrones and its political intrigues.

Left: Byzantine inspired jewelry, Chanel 2011.
Right: Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2013


Left: Gold, sapphire and pearl earrings, Byzantine, 6-7th century A.D.
Right: Gold basket earrings, Byzantine, 6th century A.D.

Pair of gold, lapis lazuli, glass and pearl bracelets, Byzantine, circa 5-7th century A.D.
 

And though they might walk through the valley of death, Justinian and Theodora will fear no evil, for their soft leather shoes shall comfort them. They have given the world opulence, grandeur, a love of pearls, exquisite embroidery, and the secret of silk, and they will stay in the house of mosaics forever. Amen.

Images from Pinterest. Text courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: Her Highness and the Highlander

I fairy tales. I ❤ fairy tale inspired cover art even more. All three books in the Princess Brides Trilogy by Tracy Anne Warren look like a fairy tale. And that's why I ❤ them.


What do you think? Do these covers make you swoon?
 
Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fun Fact Saturday: Scottish Heather Flowers

Historical romance starts with research. Getting the period right is so important. In my hunt for history, I uncover a lot of interesting and random facts. Here's what I found when I Googled "what do heather flowers smell like"...


SCOTTISH HEATHER FLOWERS



Heather is a shrubby plant that grows long racemes of tiny bell-like flowers in soft pinks, lavender, copper, green, gold, magenta, red and white. The common heather is Calluna vulgaris and is the only true Scots heather about which poetic Gaelic prose has been penned. The plant is found growing in acidic poor soils in its native Europe and Asia Minor and is a popular landscape plant in the United States. Heather has a long history of uses as an aromatic oil, stuffing for pillows, potpourri ingredient and even as a broom. The fresh scent of heather is hard to describe because of its subtlety, but has few floral notes and is more earthy and herb-like. 

Description
Heather is a low-growing bush or shrub that only grows 4 to 24 inches tall. The plant is hardy to United States Department of Agriculture zones 4 to 6 and is drought resistant once it is established. Heather is evergreen and has several seasons of interest. Its fresh bright green new growth in spring enlivens the plant. Summer escorts in long colorful stems with a multitude of blooms. In fall, the foliage changes hue and deepens and grows richer in tone.


Flowers
Heather flowers are little cup-shaped blooms flanked with more erect sepals and having a darker corona. The flowers can bloom from late spring well into fall and have a soft scent that is almost unnoticeable unless you are in a field of the plant in bloom. 


 Photo source: skybluecampers.co.uk

The stems or racemes may get anywhere from 1 to 12 inches long and new growth arises on the tips of them after the flowers are spent. The tiny flowers are less than 1/4 inch long but their massed characteristic can turn a mountainside into a palette of moving color.

Scent
Heather is described as being woody and mossy by the fragrance marketer, The Good Scents Company. A Scottish fable says God gave heather flowers the scent of honeysuckle. The light fragrance is appealing and fresh and is often blended with other aromatic oils. Heather is a scent that is often included in masculine bath and body care products, which is probably due to its very light floral tones and very heavy musky tones. Heather oil is used as an aromatic in many applications and has centuries of olfactory devotees.

Photo source: heatergems.com 

Uses

Heather has a long history as a building material, tinder, cushioning and bedding, weaving fiber and light source among other uses. In traditional crafts it was used to dye fabric and in paint as well as a component of jewelry. 


Heather is a flavoring agent for both food and drink but it gives many beers and spirits their characteristic taste. Heather wine uses the blooming racemes of the plant in a fermented process to produce the beverage. Teas, honey and a mead-like drink are also commonly still made from heather. The scent industry has its finger on the pulse of the scented. Heather is part of many body care products including shampoos, body washes, soaps, perfumes and lotions.

Courtesy of ehow.com 
 
Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sack It To Me

As early as 1950 American designer Norman Norell introduced the chemise. But it wasn't until seven years later, elegantly presentedif inelegantly re-christened the sackby Balenciaga and Dior that the shape took hold.


Marilyn Monroe in the Potato Sack dress, 1950.

Balenciaga Chemise dress, 1959. 
Image: FIDM Museum blog.


The sack was just what it sounds like and for the first time in over one hundred and fifty years, women didn't have to watch their waistlines.

Left: Wool Sack dress by Givenchy, 1957.
Right: Dior Sack dress, 1957.
Image Sources: Pinterest.

 Yves Saint Laurent "Mondrian" wool jersey Sack dress, 1965.
Image Source: Pinterest


Nevertheless, the style was controversial with the fashion press, unpopular with men, and a year later women themselves sacked it.

Courtesy of Let There Be Clothes by Lynn Schnurnberger.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cover Swoon Sunday: Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard

I just saw the cover for Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard, book 1 of The Renegade Royals series by Vanessa Kelly due from Kensington January 7, 2014. This cover is all kinds of gorgeous! The clinch is smoldering. The hero and heroine are sexy. The gown is divine. The colors are soft and lovely. This is a cover that grabs my attention and makes me swoon.


What do you think? Does this cover make you swoon?
 
Saturday, August 3, 2013

Fun Fact Saturday: The History of Scottish Shortbread

Saturdays are for fun and random facts that I've uncovered through my research. Today I'm throwing the spotlight on the history of Scottish shortbread.

SCOTTISH SHORTBREAD

 
Photo source: offthemeathook.com

At teatime, you may well find no better match for your brew than the appealingly plain, sweet, buttery cookie known as shortbread—a confection with simple charms but a rich history. Since medieval times the term short has been used to describe all things crisp and crumbly, but it wasn't applied to cake and bread until the 1600's, when it came to refer to baked good that contained a lot of butter or shortening. 

Scottish cookery has always differed from culinary endeavors south of the Border. The Romans influenced English cooking but they did not venture far into Scotland, historically Scottish cuisine developed slowly. Scottish cooking methods advanced through the influence of the French at the court of Mary, Queen of Scots and later through the elaborate dishes served to English lords with Scottish estates. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert acquired Balmoral in the 19th century and whilst they brought with them the rich food of the English court, they also liked to serve traditional Scottish dishes to important visitors. Queen Victoria liked her shortbread seasoned with salt.

The story of shortbread begins with the medieval biscuit bread. Any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk: the word biscuit means twice cooked. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.

Shortbread was an expensive luxury and for ordinary people, shortbread was a special treat reserved just for special occasions such as weddings, Christmas and Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year's Eve. In Shetland it was traditional to break a decorated shortbread cake over the head of a new bride on the threshold of her new home. The custom of eating shortbread at Hogmanay has its origins in the ancient pagan Yule cakes which symbolized the sun. In Scotland it is still traditionally offered to first footers at Hogmanay.

 Photo source: armchairanglophile.com 

Shortbread has been attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots, who in the mid-16th century was said to be very fond of Petticoat Tails, a thin, crisp, buttery shortbread originally flavored with caraway seeds. There are two theories regarding the name of these biscuits. It has been suggested that the name Petticoat Tail may be a corruption of the French petites gatelles (little cakes). However these traditional Scottish shortbread biscuits may in fact date back beyond the 12th century. The triangles fit together into a circle and echo the shape of the pieces of fabric used to make a full-gored petticoat during the reign of Elizabeth I. The theory here is that the name may have come from the word for a pattern which was tally, and so the biscuits became known as Petticoat Tallis

Shortbread is traditionally formed into one of three shapes: one large circle divided into segments (Petticoat Tails); individual round biscuits (Shortbread Rounds); or a thick rectangular slab cut into fingers.Today shortbread is a popular souvenir from Scotland. As well as plain shortbread, shortbread containing fruit, nuts and chocolate is now available, beautifully gift-wrapped in tartan boxes.


Courtesy of historic-uk.com and www.saveur.com

Friday, August 2, 2013

My Friday Love (10)

Happy Friday!


 


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

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

The Boyfriend App. I'm two chapters away from finishing The Boyfriend App, the YA novel by Katie Sise. I probably wouldn't have read this book had I not won it in a RT Book Reviews contest. Though I like YA novels, this book seemed a bit too cute.

 
In the story, super-smart, somewhat geeky Audrey McCarthy can't wait to get out of high school. Her father’s death and the transformation of her one-time BFF, Blake Dawkins, into her worst nightmare have her longing for the new start college will bring. But college takes money. So Audrey decides she has to win the competition for the best app designed by a high schooler—and the $200,000 that comes with it. She develops something she calls the Boyfriend App, and suddenly she’s the talk of the school and getting kissed by the hottest boys around. But can the Boyfriend App bring Audrey true love?

Turns out it's not as much fluff as I expected. I like Audrey. The supporting characters are good, and the story is interesting. I look forward to reading more books from this jewelry designer/TV personality/author.


Red Vines. Red licorice lovers tend to fall into one of two camps depending upon which brand they prefer: Red Vines or Twizzlers. I prefer Red Vines over Twizzlers. 

I grew up eating Red Vines. They were my favorite at-the-movies treat. My sister and I loved to eat them whenever our mom allowed it, especially the Red Vines licorice ropes. Eventually I tried Twizzlers. I never really liked them; they tasted too pliable and plastic to me. The other day I indulged in a mini pack of Red Vines. They tasted so good!  

Red Vines photo source: cleveland.com


Never Desire a Duke. This week I received my latest contest win in the mail:  an autographed ARC of Never Desire a Duke, the debut romance from Lily Dalton.

In addition to the book, Lily sent me a lovely note, a bookmark, and some author-themed pens and buttons. A big thanks to Lily for her kindness and generosity. I can't wait to read her book! It's the first in the Regency-set One Scandalous Season series due from Grand Central Publishing September 24, 2013.

What are you loving this week?
Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Releases

 August is a the perfect month for backyard barbeques, vacation getaways, and beach reads.


 Here are the newly released books that I want to read: 

 
HISTORICAL ROMANCE



Highlander Betrayed by Laurin Wittig August 6
Plaid to the Bone by Mia Marlowe
August 27

Highlander Betrayed looks like a promising new Highland series.

Plaid to the Bone is the prequel to Mia Marlowe's Spirit of the Highlands series.



NEW ADULT

E-book

The Redemption of Callie & Kayden by Jessica Sorensen August 6

The first book was fabulous and ended with one heck of a cliffhanger.


YOUNG ADULT


Unfed by Kirsty McKay August 27
The Deepest Night by Shana Ab
é
August13

I'm super exited about this book!!! It's the sequel to Undead, which was A-MAZ-ING. Really. It was one of the best YA zombie novels I've ever read. It was so clever and well written. If this book is anything like that book, it's going to be a keeper for me.

I cannot wait to read The Deepest Night, the second installment in The Sweetest Dark series by my favorite author. 

What's on your must-read list this month?