Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hello everyone! My name is Dana Nussio, and I would like to introduce myself to the Superromance community. I don’t have a publication date for my first Superromance release yet, but I am so excited to join this talented group of authors as we write stories for this wonderful, eclectic romance line.

I have been asked to answer a few questions in order for us to get to know each other better.

So this is me.

What made you choose Supers?

I was drawn to the Superromance line because it is Harlequin’s “big books” line. I was craving the opportunity to tell stories with more complex plots and characters, and Superromance offered me that chance. 

Tell us a little about your road to publication.

I'd always been a writer. I have a journalism degree and had worked as a newspaper reporter and features editor before leaving the workforce when our first daughter was born. But I'd never written any fiction . . . until that Saturday. I was a few weeks away from delivering our second daughter, and I took a full-day novel-writing class really just to get out of the house. I took in all the information and promptly forgot about the class while we welcomed our child. And then about four weeks later, a plot came to me in a dream. I opened a file on my computer and wrote a 400-page novel. I called it "Come Kiss Me, Liar."

It would be a great story to say I sold that book, but, sadly, it didn’t work out that way. I kept writing new manuscripts, though, and after seven more years (and a third daughter in the middle of that), I sold my first novel. I’ve had sixteen books published now, and my new Supers make books seventeen and eighteen.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

I love reading the work of so many romance authors, but Sandra Brown remains my favorite. I loved The Executive and Envy. Outside of romance, I love reading great storytellers like Jodi Picoult and Pat Conroy. My new favorite women’s fiction author is Kristin Hannah. Winter Garden was amazing.

What has been your biggest surprise about the publication process?

My biggest surprise was that publishing didn’t get any easier after the first sale. I thought it was like some secret handshake that once you knew it, there would be smooth sailing. But in the 14 years since my first sale, I have learned that each book is hard work and that it is important to continually improve your craft as a writer.

Favorite holiday?

Besides my birthday, which even my kids call “the national holiday,” Christmas is my favorite holiday. I have this collection of Christmas ornaments that my Grandma Bowley started for me when I was 10. There are so many amazing pieces in this collection from friends, family and even old boyfriends (shhh!!), but some of my favorites are the ones our three daughters and our nieces and nephews have made. Right after Thanksgiving, I start unwrapping the ornaments, and it's like unwrapping memories. Each one makes me smile.

Tell us one thing about you that no one would ever believe.

I’m double-jointed. Or at least super limber. My index fingers and thumbs bend back against the back of my hands. This made me a winner in third grade when my classmates played a finger-wrestling game called “Mercy.”

If you could live anywhere on the planet, where would you choose?

If I could live anywhere, I would live in Laguna Beach, California. I remember standing on the beach there, looking at the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other, and I was sure I was in Heaven. I called my husband that afternoon and told him I wasn’t coming home to Michigan.


I look forward to getting to know you better. If you’d like to receive updates on my new state police series, True Blue, please Like my Facebook Author Page  or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Dropped Stitches and Plot Lines

by Kris Fletcher

This has been a very VERY cold winter in central New York (as of this writing, it looks like we're going to go the entire month of February without once making it above freezing), so I did the only sensible thing: I sold the house & bought a condo in Vegas.

Kidding! I dug out some soft yarn, found a pattern for an infinity scarf, and cast it on.

I don't get to knit enough these days. My preferred knitting time is while watching TV, and since I don't do that anymore, knitting has been in short supply for quite a while. But this pattern was very simple - a knit 3, purl 3 repeat that alternated every few rows. It also called for three different colors of yarn, which are used and then dropped at regular points in the pattern.

Aha, I thought. I could do this while supervising Tsarina's homework. Piece of cake.

Uh - no.

I have made every possible kind of mistake in this thing, and I am only ten rows in. The yarn is very soft but also very fuzzy. And splitty. I end every row with either too many stitches or too few. That k3 p3 pattern has never yet worked out. If the designer saw what I am doing to her beautiful vision, she would rip the circular needles from the scarf and use them to strangle me. And she would be totally justified.

And yet, despite the dropped stitches and the un-repeated repeats, I find myself rather liking this mess. The fuzziness that makes the yarn so hard to work with also covers a multitude of mistakes. The variations in the colors are combining in a way that makes me grin in anticipation. Despite all my screw-ups, the scarf is turning out to be warm and soft and inviting.

Today, as I ripped back yet another ten-stitch mistake (forgot to change colors at the right place), I thought that knitting this poor scarf is a lot like the way I write a book. I have made every plot mistake possible. My poor editor has had to point out, in her gently insightful manner, that there's lots of conflict in my story but none of it is between my hero and heroine. Or that the story would be stronger without a Big Secret. Or that no, it wouldn't be a good idea to include a subplot that alludes to a certain former mayor of a major Canadian city. (Ahem.)

Even after I make the changes she recommends, I know there are still major mistakes and plot holes big enough to swallow all the Doritos consumed during football season. But at that point, I can deal. Why? Because by the time we get to that stage of the writing, the characters have come to life for me. I know what they would say and how they would sound when they say it. I know how they move and what makes them cry and why they can't say the words I love you even though they feel it in every fiber of their being. They are real, living and breathing inside me, and because they are I can forget everything I first thought should happen and focus on what these people would do in these situations. The conflicts and secrets and subplots aren't coming from me anymore. They're coming from the characters.
And because they come from the characters - flawed and splitty and ragged though they might be - they will carry the story over my mistakes and make it ring true.

At least, I hope that's what happens :-).

So now that I've revealed my knitting and plotting challenges, it's your turn. Are there any areas where you rely on fuzzy yarn (or the equivalent) to carry you through your mistakes? In cooking? Cleaning? Skydiving?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Learning to Draw

I signed up for an introduction to drawing class this winter. It was my birthday present to myself because for as long as I can remember, I have not been able to draw. It was a known thing about me, like that I can’t sing (absolutely true) or that I am tall and have dimples.

But living with an "I can't do this" attitude for my entire life isn't really my jam. More importantly, I had been drawing once a month at a social drawing event a friend hosts and noticed that my drawing was getting better, even with the one a month comic exercises. It was gratifying to see the progress I was making. It was even better to be slowly shedding the I Can't Draw skin that had become constrictive. 

To be honest, the drawing classes have been up and down. First class up. Second class, WAY down. Third class, up again. The fourth class was postponed due to icy weather, so we'll see how that class goes next Monday. The classes are going well enough that I'm willing to post images of my drawings, so you can see my progress.

Last drawing in the first class:

An eraser
Last drawing in the second class:

An amaryllis
Last drawing in the third class:

Pair of wooden clogs

I'm especially happy with that last drawing.

I've been blogging about my classes and the experience on my website,, so if you're curious, head over there and read more.

Have you ever taken on something that you knew you couldn't do? Took dancing lessons or singing lessons or drawing or whatever? How did it go?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Happy Lunar New Year!

The Chinese symbol for luck, hung upside down
It’s the MOST. WONDERFUL. TIME. Of the year!

No, it’s not Christmas, but for me, it might as well be!

Lunar New Year—aka Chinese New Year—is celebrated by people in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia and Tibet. Other cultures celebrate it on different days, but this is the main festival season for many East Asian communities. The holiday, which begins February 19 this year, is all about food, gifts, family and welcoming a bright new year full of health, wealth and good fortune.

It’s my favorite holiday of the year because a) it falls around those horrible winter months after Christmas when everyone really needs a bright, sparkling holiday; b) the food!; c) the wonderful infusion of red pocket monies; d) the food!; e) did I mention the food?

My family’s traditions start with New Year’s Eve dinner—a home-cooked feast that includes every animal that walks, flies and swims the earth. My mother’s preserved plum roast duck and scallion and ginger sauce chicken are the main event, as well as mushrooms and fat choy,a weird black hair-like fungus that’s stewed into a dish. It’s tastier than it sounds. And looks. And smells. But anyhow, everyone has to eat some, as a symbol of good luck for the year. I eat more than my fair share. 

In between, New Year’s snacks are offered over the two-week celebration period. Nuts and seeds, candies, chocolate, fruit, pastries and fried snacks are often presented in large round trays at homes and in some businesses. |Sadly, I couldn’t tell you what half these things were. But they are DELICIOUS.

Red pockets are awesome. Most unmarried younger people (and especially children) are given small envelopes (though they’re not always red) stuffed with cash during the new year. Now that I’m married, I have to give red pockets out to my younger, unmarried relatives and close friends (though I usually only give chocolate coins because I’m not that rich). Important note: if you’re ever handed a red pocket and don’t know what it is, DO NOT OPEN IT IN FRONT OF THE GIVER. It is considered extremely rude, the equivalent of looking a gift horse in the mouth.

It’s bad luck to work on the day of Chinese New Year, so I usually take a vacation day and spend time with my family. Frequently, we go for dim sum, wearing some new clothes that are preferably red, and then spend our red pocket money on buying things that make you happy. Caveat to that: you’re not supposed to buy new shoes on new year’s because the phonetic sound for the word “shoes” sounds the same as the word for “trouble.” And no one wants to invite trouble on New Year’s Day.

If I’m lucky, I’ll get to see a lion dance in Chinatown. Businesses pay a kung fu club, which specially trains their members, to perform this traditional ceremony to scare away bad luck and bless their business. The dance mirrors an old legend of a monster that once terrorized a village annually, but was finally scared off by a brave man who painted the town in red and gold, then used firecrackers and banged on pots and pans and made a huge ruckus to scare the beast away. This, supposedly, is the origin of those traditions, although today, firecrackers are rarely used—it usually requires a permit in most cities.  

Just like Christmas, though, Chinese New Year is all about celebrating with family and wishing each other a prosperous year. This year is the year of the sheep (or goat or ram)—my year! I’m hoping this means my year will be good, but my horoscope says that because this is my year, I have to be careful.

Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it too much and just eat some more good food.

Kung hei fat choy!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Question Of The Month: February 2015

It's question time again, readers! Here we go: February is the month of love, but we should celebrate romance all year long not just on February 14. How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship on a day to day basis?

Joanne Rock: I like to tell stories about my husband! We have extremely different personalities and that can create friction. But all the most interesting things that happen to me happen when he's around--he attracts adventure. So I savor our differences by telling tales from the real life of Dean. They help me remember why he's so much fun.

And--interestingly--some of my favorite romantic moments are hearing *him* talk about me. I guess it's the storyteller in me, but I like seeing myself through his eyes and hearing the way he remembers things. His version is usually funnier, for one thing. But there are also the surprises of finding out what elements of a vacation or event stood out to him most. Sometimes I'm surprised what I missed!

Geri Krowtow: We'll celebrate 29 years of marriage this May. With all of the Navy separations we've endured, it's enough to remember to be grateful we're together and under the same roof!

Nan Dixon: Cups of Tea in the morning!

Kristina Knight: I think it's the little things - holding hands in the car, going on a drive just because, kissing before leaving for work. All those little 'I'm with you' things add up to a long romance I think.

Vicki Essex: Every morning, whether one of us is still asleep, my husband and I hug and kiss before we leave for work.

Every day, we tell each other "I love you."

Every week, we have a date night so that we remember to enjoy our lives and each other's company.

And every night, we touch to make sure we're not dreaming.

Amber Leigh Williams: It seems so simple, but the thing my husband and I do to keep the romance alive day to day is flirt. It keeps things playful and the energy between us alive and consistent. We've been together for over a decade and we still genuinely enjoy each other's company because we still do and say all of those things we did way back when.

Pamela Hearon: In addition to being the love of my life, my husband is also my best friend.  We keep the romance alive by sharing lots of activities.  Of course, we have to get out of each others' hair sometimes, so I write and he fishes.  But I'm always glad when he gets home at the end of one of those days apart.

Cathryn Parry: By trying new things. That's all I'm going to say about that. :-)
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