Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Winner of Jeannie Watt's Crossing Nevada

The winner of Crossing Nevada is Eli Yanti! Please send your mailing address to jeanniewrites@gmail.com and I'll get a copy of Crossing Nevada in the mail.

Thanks to everyone who posted!

Jeannie

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Random Gratefulness and a Give Away


By Jeannie Watt

I'm grateful for Chili Cheese Fries!
As the year edges to a close, it’s a time of reflection, and I try to concentration on thankfulness.  I have a long list of things I’m hugely grateful for—blessings of family, health and a career I love. But there are smaller things that enrich my life that I am also thankful for, so here is my list of random gratefulness:

I’m grateful for Spanx—finally a foundation garment that doesn’t try to slowly murder you while you wear it.

I’m grateful that low rider jeans are no longer the only choice available and that I can finally tuck my shirt in. Low rider pants also led to more thong sightings than I care to think about, so all I can say is hurray from “sits one inch below natural waistline” jeans.

I’m grateful that the big stiff hair from the 80s hasn’t made a comeback. Ditto for spandex bike shorts.

I’m grateful that I discovered small batch gin—not in large quantities, mind you.

I’m grateful that colorized movies didn’t catch on.

I’m grateful that the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. 

I’m grateful that eBay makes it possible to find random stuff to replace things I've lost or broken--like the power cord on my old sewing machine.

I’m grateful for texting so that when I have the choice of two different video/audio cables to hook up my new DVD player, I can ask my son which one I need and get an answer before I leave the store.

I’m just flat out grateful for the internet. Such a resource.  I asked my husband the other day how we used to plan trips without it. He said we used to drive and hope we found a motel. Funny how I’ve blocked that from my mind.

I’m grateful for all the many men who serve as inspiration for the heroes in my books.

What are you grateful for? I’m looking forward to hearing your responses and will give away a copy of Crossing Nevada to a randomly chosen respondent..

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Love Looks Like ....


This morning, I folded a load of my son's laundry.

This may not strike you as a big thing, and in truth, it's not. But in our family, once you hit grade 6 and have completed the laundry unit in Family & Consumer Sciences, you become responsible for your own clothing. You watch the dirty pile grow higher, you lug the clothes to the washer and dryer, you fold your own stuff and put it away. It's a small lesson in Life 101, which I consider to be one of the most important gifts I can give to my kids. By the time my offspring leave home they are competent in laundry, groceries, cooking, mending, cleaning, scheduling, and all those other essential tasks that make up regular life. Here at Casa Chaos you need to be either sick or physically not present to get out of doing your chores. Or both :-)

But sometimes, in addition to prepping the kids for the big world that awaits them in the future, a mom needs  to let her kids know that they are cherished right now. Maybe the child accomplished something he or she never believed possible. Maybe the homework and the college applications and the volunteer work have started to press in. Maybe the son or daughter took younger siblings to the playground so mom could have a few minutes of peace to sip a cup of coffee and wrap Christmas gifts without little eyes trying to catch a peek.

And sometimes, sometimes a mom needs to do something small but still special for her kids just because she loves them. And because it has been brought home to her, and the world, that the chance to offer up those silent gestures of love can be ripped away without warning.

Love is all around us, especially at this time of year. It's in the songs and the gatherings, the efforts we make to be together, the way we make sure to pick up a box of fruit-flavored candy canes along with the peppermint stripes because one of the kids doesn't like mint and every kid should be able to enjoy a candy cane at Christmas. In a season of miracles, love still shines bright in the littlest things: A dishwasher unloaded without request or complaint. A hug, not just on walking in the door, but once the boots are off and there's no coats to get in the way. A phone call that says, "I just heard this song on the radio and it made me think of you, so let's sing it together."

Sometimes love looks like shooting stars and fireworks and roses in winter.

Sometimes it looks like this:


How does love look to you these days?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Favorite Christmas Movies

Merry Christmas!
 


We've been making a habit of watching holiday movies in my house, and rediscovering some great, old favorites along the way. 

Do you remember these classics:


- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

- Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

- A Christmas Carol (1938, 1984)

- White Christmas (1954)

- It's a Wonderful Life (1946)


Some of these we hadn't watched in years, but we enjoyed them all.  Then, there are these more recent favorites:

- The Holiday (2006)

- A Christmas Story (1983)

- Love, Actually (2003)

I'm looking for more titles.  Any suggestions?  What are your favorite Christmas movies?


Cathryn Parry is the author of two Harlequin Superromances.  Her second, THE LONG WAY HOME, is in stores now.  You may find out more about Cathryn at www.CathrynParry.com.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Winner of a copy of Back to the Good Fortune Diner

Congratulations, Eli Yanti

You've won a copy of my latest book, Back to the Good Fortune Diner.

Thanks for commenting on my blog post, Christmas Gifts for Writers.

Please contact me at vicki@vickiessex.com to claim your prize!

Happy holidays, everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Alphabeta soup


One of the problems of writing hero point of view is keeping your guy a guy. He’s looking out into the world, and any introspection is a brief lifting of the lid rather than the full rummage into the bottom of the psychic suitcase that women (okay, this woman) enjoys.
There’s no, ‘Hey, there’s where I left that old guilt…if I let out the seams I think it’ll still fit me.”
I’m a very hero-centric writer. Most of my story ideas start with an idea around a hero and as a reader he’s the most important element in a romance for me.
So I’m always interested in the ongoing discussion about alpha versus beta heroes on reader/writer blogs and boards. Is he a tough warrior alphahole or an affable, easygoing friend?
I read an interesting comment by Ruthie Knox here where she described alphas as having the tendency to lead and betas the tendency to nurture.
My hero preference as a reader is alpha with a sense of humour
I think the stereotypical “alpha male” is a leader who has to learn to nurture the heroine — or perhaps who doesn’t instinctively nurture, but is compelled to care for the heroine. Whereas my idea of a stereotypical “beta male” is someone who’s more of a follower, who nurtures instinctively."
Recently I came across a blog that talked about delta’s (‘normal’ guys) and gamma’s (introspective, socially unskilled) and omega’s (social losers).
But the category that intrigued me as a romance reader and writer was sigmas.

“The outsider who doesn't play the social game and manages to win at it anyhow. The sigma is hated by alphas because sigmas are the only men who don't accept or at least acknowledge, however grudgingly, their social dominance.
In a social situation, the sigma is the man who stops in briefly to say hello to a few friends accompanied by a Tier 1 girl that no one has ever seen before. Sigmas like women, but tend to be contemptuous of them. They are usually considered to be strange. They are at the top of the social hierarchy despite their refusal to play by its rules. Sigmas usually acquired their outsider status the hard way; one seldom becomes immune to the social hierarchy by virtue of mass popularity in one's childhood.”

Sounds like our archetypical bad boy doesn’t it? James Dean, Dirty Harry, Wolverine. Except the description applies equally well to Sherlock Holmes as played by Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC series.

So who’s your favorite fictional hero, movie or books? Is he alpha, beta, sigma or in a class of his own?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Gifts for Writers


Over the past couple of years, my family has donated money to charity rather than spend money on unwanted gifts for each other. This has saved out wallets and our sanity—no more Snuggies for the aunt who has everything!—but I admit I still enjoy the occasional gift. As a writer, I’ve discovered there are things I love that I will never turn away. If you’re stuck for ideas, consider these for the writer in your life:

Notebooks, paper paraphernalia: I love notebooks. I have tons of different kinds to jot in and travel with. For me, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as getting a blank notebook to fill. While I’m partial to a bouquet of multicolored spiral bound 8.5”x11” workbooks from the dollar store, I’m told Moleskine is the Lexus of notebooks. 

Pens: Studies have shown that holding a pen in hand actually stimulates nerves in the fingers that trigger creative energy. Pens come in all kinds of wonderful varieties, too, so if you feel like spoiling a writer, get a nice pen engraved. It’ll come in handy the day they sign a book for you. Personally, I’m coveting a Tiffany rollerball pen.

USB thumb drives: A writer can never have enough backups or ways to cart around files. USB keys make great stocking stuffers, or, if you shell out for a USB 3.0 (which has a higher speed) it’s a great gift on its own. For added value, load it up with a playlist of MP3s, photos to inspire them or free ebooks you can download from any number of websites.

Typing gloves: Writers are notorious for getting cold hands and developing wrist problems while pounding on the keyboard. Help keep their hands warm and healthy with special typing gloves. There are tons of different types out there, from wrist-supporting gloves to USB plug-in warming gloves. www.usbgeek.com/products/usb-heating-gloves

Gift cards for books: A writer can never have too many books. Never. Instead of trying to figure out what book they don’t own yet or what they might like to read, give them the gift of choice and the chance to splurge on boxing week deals at their favorite book nook. This goes for ebooks, as well. If you’d rather be more personal, see if they have a wish list available on their favorite website.

Booze, chocolate, food for thought:
Writers love to relax with their favorite vices. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Writer’s Tears Irish whiskey: For the days they get their first rejections...or revisions. 
  •  A bottle of good champagne: For the day they hit the New York Times bestselling list. I’m a fan of Veuve Clicquot myself. 
  •  Nonalcoholic beverages: A selection of good coffee beans, tea bags, gourmet hot chocolate...the writer in your life could always use a hot drink while working.
  • Snacks: While it’s easy to stock up on chocolates, baked goods and candy during the holidays, many writers worry about their waistlines and health. If you want to help them make their new year’s health goals, put together a basket of healthy snacks: banana chips, roasted soy beans, rice crackers, dried fruit, etc. Ask your local health food store for suggestions.


Membership fees and subscriptions: There are all kinds of organizations out there for the aspiring writer, and they all charge membership dues. Do your writer a favor and pitch in for them!

Services: A writer’s most valuable asset is time, which means priorities get shuffled and chores don’t get done. Why not purchase a gift certificate for a housekeeper, gardener, babysitter, dog-walker, or in-home chef? Or, if you’re on a budget, make a coupon book and do the services yourself.

Time, silence and solitude: If your significant other is working hard to make a publishing dream come true, do them a favor and respect their writing time. Take the kids and pets out of the house for the afternoon. Don’t disturb them if they say they’re on deadline. If you show them you understand how important their goals are, they will love you all year round.

A chance to relax: Writers work hard. Too hard, sometimes. Remind them that you appreciate all they do and force them to leave their computers for a few hours. Offer to take them out to dinner. Or plan a spa day, a trip to the salon, a mani/pedi, a massage or a night at the movies.


What’s on your wish list? Do you have suggestions to add? Leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of my latest book, Back to the Good Fortune Diner. Contest closes Friday, December 14th 11:59 p.m. EST.

Vicki Essex is an author for Harlequin Superromance. Back to the Good Fortune Diner is her second book. For more information, visit www.vickiessex.com. You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vickiessexauthor and on Twitter @vickiessex.




Sunday, December 2, 2012

December 2012

The Spirit of Christmas
by Liz Talley
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718184 (#1818)

Brennan Henry doesn't have time for holly and jolly. He's been too busy boosting the bottom line for the family business. That is, until his eccentric grandfather hands over a lot of money to a stranger on the street. Some nonsense about her being the true spirit of Christmas. Yeah, right. All Brennan can see is he's now got a situation on his hands with one Mary Paige Gentry.

Then he meets Mary Paige. And no matter how deep he searches, it seems she's the real deal. Kind, compassionate and just enough sass to keep him very intrigued. The spark of attraction between them could land him on the naughty list! But his is still a dollars-and-cents world…unless she can prove there's more to the season—more to life—than money.


The Time of Her Life
by Jeanie London
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718191 (#1819)

Susanna Adams is too young to be a widow. She's still in her thirties! There will be no sitting around trying to fill empty days for her. Instead, she's accepted a big promotion, moved states and is embracing her own dreams again. She might even be open to a little romance.

The new plan doesn't unfold quite as smoothly as she expected. The job is a lot tougher thanks to Jay Canady, the man she'll eventually replace. Working with him and his high standards definitely tests her resolve. Not to mention all the sparks igniting between them. Office affairs have never factored on her radar, but Jay is so…hot, she might make an exception. After all, this time it's all about her.


The Long Way Home
by Cathryn Parry
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718207 (#1820)

Life on the road suits Bruce Cole just fine. And after what he went through back in the day, he's in no hurry to face his hometown again. Until his little sister asks him to return for her wedding. One brief visit can't hurt, right? Especially when he meets a beautiful stranger at the reception.

Except Natalie Kimball isn't a stranger. In fact, she knows more about Bruce than anyone else in Wallis Point—including the secret he's been running from all these years. The woman Natalie has become is fascinating…and so different from the girl he remembers. If anyone can change his mind about what home really means, it could be her.


Crossing Nevada
by Jeannie Watt
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718214 (#1821)

After the attack that ended her modeling career, Tess O'Neil wants only to feel safe. She thinks she's found a sanctuary on a Nevada ranch, where she can live in solitude. Too bad rancher Zach Nolan isn't getting the message. The single dad wants to lease her land, and he won't quit until she says yes. That means he's always around!

Letting the cowboy with the see-right-through-her baby blues into her life is too dangerous. Almost as dangerous as the wild hope and yearning Zach and his three daughters are awakening in Tess. She's already risked so much. Maybe it's time to take the biggest gamble of all on the one thing she never dreamed she'd find—a home.


Wish Upon a Christmas Star
by Darlene Gardner
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718221 (#1822)

The odds are about a million to one. But after eleven years, P.I. Maria DiMarco jumps at the possibility that her brother might still be alive. And when she makes a wish on a rare pre-Christmas shooting star, well, it could be a sign. Logan Collier doesn't think so. Not that Maria should put her trust—or hope—in her ex-love, who long ago left her heart in pieces.

Yet here Logan is in Key West, helping Maria chase down leads and, like her, trying—and failing—to ignore the attraction heating up between them. Even if her search takes her nowhere, Maria isn't giving up. Not on finding her brother…or on a second chance with Logan.


Espresso in the Morning
by Dorie Graham
Harlequin Superromance
ISBN: 9780373718238 (#1823)

The last thing Claire Murphy wants is a man in her life. Things work best with just her and her son, Grey, a solid team of two. Yes, some days are chaotic, but she's confident Grey doesn't know why she needs that chaos—until he brings home the local cafĂ© owner, Lucas Williams, to help. How could Grey? Having someone as good-looking as Lucas around doesn't feel right.


Or does it? It turns out there's more to Lucas than the ability to brew a great cup of coffee. And sure, she knows she's benefiting from his knowledge about recovering from trauma. But she also knows that she's falling for Lucas and she's not sure she's ready for that!
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