Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Popping the champagne!

A big CONGRATULATIONS to my beta-reading buddy Scarlett Cole today! Her three book deal with St. Martin's has officially been announced.

*loads cannon with confetti and pie* *fires it despite the mess* *dances maniacally under falling chunks of pie and paper*

I am, of course, so happy for Scarlett, but I'm also quite please for all of you. This means you are that much closer to getting to read THE STRONGEST STEEL. And, trust me, you want to.

After hearing all this great news, I am now in the mood for romance. In case you're feeling the same way, here are a few of my recent favorites:

Romancing the Duke (Tessa Dare)

A charming twist on Beauty & the Beast, complete with fairy tales within fairy tales and some Regency LARPing. What's not to love?

It Happened One Wedding (Julie James)

If you're a fan of banter, this one's for you. More than once did I grin goofily at a section of dialogue - one of the many reasons I try to read out of the public eye.

It's in His Kiss (Jill Shalvis)

This is the tenth installment of the Lucky Harbor books and if it wasn't for my deep devotion to the east coast, I'd be packing my bags to move cross country - fictional town or not. Not to mention, Becca and Sam are currently warring with Chloe and Sawyer for my favorite town couple.

Waiting on You (Kristan Higgins)

A very sweet second chance at first love story. The characters are likable, but not perfect - which is exactly what I'm looking for in someone I'm going to spend 400+ pages with.

Up By Five (Erin Nicholas)

The last in the Counting on Love series. Not only was it great to catch up with the other characters and to see Connor get his happy ending, but Gabby was one of my favorite heroines of the series.

Do you have suggestions for my next reads? I'd love to hear them! Leave them in the comments, then get out of here and go congratulate Scarlett!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Invitations are a go!

That's right! Invitations to the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner & Auction are officially in the mail. *does Running Man dance in celebration*

If you're interested in receiving an invite and think I don't have your address, shoot me an email. Actually email me even if you do think I have it, just in case! Also, my email is the best way to get in touch with me if you have an item or basket that you'd like to donate for auction.

Enormous thank yous to anyone who has/would like to help spread the word by tweeting/blogging/facebook-ing links to the blog or my RAINNmaker page.

If attending the dinner isn't an option, but you'd still like to donate to RAINN (again...big THANK YOUs), you can do so on my RAINNmaker page.

Here's some information on the crimes we're addressing and the organization being helped by your donations:

To learn more about RAINN's great work, visit their website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Alternate Bannings

Happy Banned Books Week, folks!

I hope you're celebrating this always exciting time by reading absolutely whatever the hell floats your boat. But if you're looking for other thematic activities, check out these offered by the American Library Association.

In the meantime, while I've been shaking my head in an exasperated fashion over the very idea of banning books, I have come up with a short list of things of which I would support the prohibition:

  • Wedding receptions with more than two group/line dancing songs.
    • Electric Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha Slide, Cotton Eyed Joe, the YMCA - the list goes on and seems to be getting longer every year. And let's be honest, even two in one night is probably more than anyone needs.

  • Calling it a "funny bone."
    • I mean, I love ironic names as much as the next person who has pain reverberating up and down her arm. But, maybe we should just stop this. 

  • Accidentally stepping in water whilst wearing only socks
    • I don't know what it is about feeling liquid soak into my socks, but it make me want to destroy all the things.

  • The phrase "You know what I'm saying?"
    • If I make a solemn vow that I will ask if I don't, can this stop being inserted into conversation?

  • Saying "I could care less" when you mean "I couldn't care less."
    • This oldie but goodie drives me bug nuts. We could all care less about a whole slew of things, so unless you're confessing that you're closer to a situation than you'd like, it doesn't seem worth mentioning. And it especially shouldn't be said in the same tone as telling someone to shove it. 

And as a bonus:
  • Squirrels
    • Do I really need to say more?

So, those are some of my bannables. What about yours?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fundraiser Update!

Good morning, all!

I'm sure anyone who's been checking out my Twitter feed knows that I've been having a bunch of good mornings, afternoons and evenings lately thanks - once again - to the tremendous generosity of people. Because of this never ending, clown-car-esque line of great people, the fundraiser is coming together beautifully.

*tries to do a cartwheel* *remembers expertise is sadly lacking* *settles for enthusiastic jumping*

As promised, I want to keep people updated, so here are the auction's phenomenal donors thus far:

Last year at this time, I'd just decided to try and come up with some kind of fundraiser, so to have so many donors already this year is beyond exciting. Sending me further over the moon are the prospective donors in the wings. I feel pretty confident in guaranteeing that this year's auction is going to be amazing.

Plus (!!) I'm at 56 ornament favors completed and counting, once again blowing last year's efforts out of the water. By the beginning of last October, I probably could have boasted six.

I don't want to jump the gun, but maybe - MAYBE - this could be my first event ever where I'm not up until dawn the night before working on something crafty. *nods enthusiastically* *shakes head realistically*

In the name of that lofty goal, I should get back to work. Invites go out next week! If you want to get one, shoot me an email. Same goes if you have an item or basket that you're interested in donating.

If you want more info, check out my RAINNmakers page and have a fantastic rest of your week!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: The Scarlett Cole Edition

Good morning, all!

The time has come for another author to spill some secrets! And I am so very, very excited to be
hosting one of my extremely talented beta readers, Ms. Scarlett Cole. Spoiler alert, this woman's writing is the bee's knees. But today isn't about her fantastic stories, but the lovely lady herself. Let's see what she revealed....

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Hi Everybody,

Thanks so much to Kelly for inviting me to swing by her blog. It’s nice to meet you all. Settling on five guilty pleasures was tougher than I thought. So here goes:

Live Music

My husband and I love live music. It’s our date night. They don’t have to be big and fancy. Often, the grungier, seedier, and smaller the venue, the more personal the concert feels. One year, we went to over thirty concerts. There is something about the atmosphere of a concert, feeling your chest reverb from the volume, and sharing that experience with other fans. There’s no judgment about who you are, what you do, or where you come from. You are just there for the music. It’s a great equalizer.

My Christmas Tree

I am a sucker for the holidays and the dysfunctional mayhem that comes with families crashing together in the spirit of goodwill.

My guilty pleasure is a fabulous looking tree. Over fifteen hundred lights, thirty meters of ribbon, and hundreds of hand collected baubles are hung with, shamefully, zero assistance from my children. I won’t let them help because I hate people messing with my tree. I like balance, equally spaced colors, and variety in textures. I buy them their own trees, and we decorate them at the same time but they know better than to touch mine.

Broadway Show Tunes

In an alternate universe, I am convinced I am Idina Menzel. I love singing along to soundtracks from great musicals.

My sister and I used to perform in the school Gilbert and Sullivan productions. She has a way better voice than I do and I was often relegated to singing the harmony when we were younger. To this day, I can only sing Barbara Dickson’s part in I Know Him So Well from Chess.
Unfortunately enthusiasm is not a replacement for talent.

Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits

At 82 calories a pop, these really are the guiltiest of guilty pleasures on my list. I have this timed to perfection. I make my tea and like to get my first dunk within two minutes of the kettle boiling. The dunk can be no less than seven seconds because the biscuit is still too hard but no more than nine seconds or else the dunked bit drops off into the tea, which is gross. I eat half the biscuit in one bite. If the words aren’t coming or I am having a rough day, I allow myself four biscuits in one sitting but then I add fifteen minutes to my workout the next day.

Pens and Notebooks

I love stationary shops. When I discover a new one, I get the closest thing to a legal high. I could spend hours in one trying to find the perfect notebook, notelets and pens. I edit my manuscripts by hand. For some reason, I feel like I pay more attention when I am holding a pen. I use a Pilot Dr. Grip Gel pen in black. Not the fanciest pen out there, but it doesn’t bleed at all and allows me to write in very tiny print. When I am plotting story lines by hand I love color. I use Sharpie fine point pens and assign different colors to the hero, heroine and external threat so I can keep track visually of pacing.

Want to know more about Scarlett Cole? Of course you do!

Now, while you're checking out more of her awesome, I'll be figuring out how to swing a visit to Scarlett's house this holiday season. Three trees!! *swoon*

Friday, September 5, 2014

Places to Visit: Toledo & Madrid

Hello all! I have returned from my visit to sunny Spain. 

It was, of course, amazing, despite some almost comical travel problems - at final count it took 1 delayed flight, 1 missed connection, 20 hours, 3 planes, 2 cabs, 2 buses and 1 train to get to Toledo. 

But it was worth it. If I was ever in the mood for tilting at windmills, Castilla-La Mancha would certainly be a beautiful place to do it. 

In addition to being just simply beautiful, the city also houses the Primate Cathedral of St. Mary of Toledo - one of the three thirteenth century Gothic cathedrals in Spain. 

It's gorgeously overwhelming. 

Though, if I'm being completely honest, those cherubs that are just heads and wings? They creep me out a bit. 

From here, it was off to Madrid, which now holds the distinction of being the first place I've ever seen flamenco or a public proposal. The first was amazing - graceful, sweeping arm movements paired with long, staccato bursts of footwork at an energy level I can't even comprehend - the second was pretty damn adorable. 

Plus, just looking at the palace all lit up at night is reason enough for the trip. 

I will say with all the sight seeing, my vacation reading time wasn't extensive. But that just means that the normal pre-book anticipation is building away and should make my State-side reading all the more fun. 

Also, I found that being stuck on a plane for hours to be conducive to writing daydreams. Meaning that I have work to get started on. 

Have a great weekend!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Suitcase Full of Books...and Other Good Things

I don't know about you, but the end of this summer is turning into happy madness for me. 

First off is Pitch Wars, which is fantastic fun - even in the waiting stages. Regardless of whether or not you're taking part in it, you should definitely check out the hashtag. It's such a great way to get to know other writers. 

Secondly, it's traveling time once again! I'm so intensely excited to be dusting off the old suitcase again. This won't be too long of a trip, but it will be memorable. I mean....Spain! *Breaks into tap dance -- remember I can't tap dance -- settles for enthusiastic jumping.* Plus, I've made sure I have some new books in honor of the occasion:

- Just Like the Movies (Kelly Fiore)
- Gates of Thread and Stone (Lori M. Lee)
- Obsidian (Jennifer L. Armentrout)
- Being Jamie Baker (Kelly Oram)
- Prep School Confidential (Kara Taylor)

There are just wins all over the place. This does, however, mean next week's post will probably be a little late, as I'm not sure what ye olde Internet situation will be like. But when I do post, expect pictures!

Finally, there is the fundraiser. Planning is going awesomely. The list of items to be auctioned is growing and chock full o really fun things. I've mentioned a few on Twitter, but will be sending out more updates over the coming months, so keep an eye out! And, of course, endless thanks to everyone for their generosity thus far!!

Now, I'm off to do my traditional packing ritual - something akin to Supermarket Sweep. Ten minutes to pull clothes from drawers and then no looking in the bag until I reach my destination. Keeps things interesting. 

Have a happy new week, folks! When next we speak, I should be nursing a nice sunburn and the traditional September smell of pumpkin spice everything will be in the air. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

On In the Line Mix Path Not Chosen Double Feature (Bad Movies/Good Party Themes)

Hello all! It's been far too long since we've had a good party theme here. In the spirit of apologizing, I'm making this a double feature event.

What better way, I ask you, to spend an evening of bad movies and good parties that with two gems from the early 2000s. It was a wonderful time. If you were anything like me, you were rocking a boxy school uniform and hair that was far too long, while obsessively taping old episodes of Early Edition on VHS for after you finished your report on Lynne Reid Banks. Or, you know, you were doing other things. Regardless, it was a glorious period of cultural history.

How do I know that for a fact? Because the first five years gave us not only On the Line, starring Lance Bass and Emmanuelle Chriqui, but also In the Mix, starring Usher Raymond and...Emmanuelle Chriqui.

In addition to sharing punchy titles and a leading lady, these movies also have two main characters who both have shades of the actors who play them. Lance Bass' Kevin used to be part of a band, but now works in advertising. Usher's Darrell went from being a success in the music business to a job as a bodyguard.

This is what you'll be asking of your guests. Have everyone show up dressed as themselves had they chosen a different life path, zigged instead of zagged.

Rather than explaining to people who they are now, every attendee should write down on a piece of paper what their new profession is and throw it in a bowl. For the rest of the night, ask each other any question - with the exception of all derivations of "what's your job?" - and see how many can be guessed before the night is over!

In terms of prizes for anyone who manages to figure it all out, may I suggest used copies of the movies' soundtracks? Anyone who's ever felt nostalgia for the early twenty-first century will thank you. Anyone who hasn't....probably won't appreciate being on the invite list for this party. Leave those nice people alone.

Tagline (On the Line): She's one in a million. His chances of finding her again are a million to one.

Tagline (In the Mix): Everyone wants a piece of his action.

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
      - "I just want to be able to walk down the street without a ten woman pileup."
      - "Love may not make the world go round, but it makes the ride worthwhile."
      - "Italian people put red sauce on their macaroni."
      - "You're like the poster boy for the romantically challenged!"

Can you guess which are from which?

For an On In the Line Mix Path Not Chosen Double Feature of your very own, here's what you need:
      - On the Line (2001)
      - In the Mix (2005)
      - Container for guests' career confessions. This is where you get to scoff at everyone who laughed at you for holding on to the tins from your Altoids Tangerine Sours (or whatever early 2000s candy you favored). And they told you that was a waste of space...
      - Prizes for winners. Like I said before, soundtracks work well. Or you could just give them a piece of paper with pictures of Lance Bass, Usher and Emmanuelle Chriqui taped on, for them to doodle hearts around. Your call. (I know I'd appreciate either.)
      - In terms of food, I think pizza is the way to go seeing as the movies take place in Chicago and New York respectively. Plus, this opens up the conversation to which style of pizza is better, and there is really no truer way to know a person than answering that question.
      - A contingent of Emmanuelle Chirqui groupies and/or folks who love to wonder about what could have been and/or anyone who's ever hummed along to N*SYNC or Usher - which means you pretty much have to invite everyone you know. Hope your place is roomy!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Literary Deathmatch: Round 2

I have finished another round of editing, which means it break time. For me, break time means two things:

- Binge watching Haven and Emma Approved.
- Trying to decide which literary character would win in a drag-down, knock-out fight.

On the first topic, all I'm going to say is that if you don't watch those two things, you really should. Two very different tones, both extremely awesome.

It's my second break time activity that I'm focusing on right now. Last time I wrote about one of these (not the last time I thought about it - because I think about these things all. the. time.) it was Ms. Bennet and Ms. Eyre donning their boxing gloves. This time, I'm looking at two women of a slightly different moral caliber.

By Airman 1st Class Kerelin Molina [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

"Okay, I'm going to need a pair of these in snow white and a pair
in cotton candy pink. Yes, the contenders are very serious
about their color choices."

In this corner, in starched and pressed white, we have one Nurse Ratched!

This contender is no stranger to wielding absolute power. Through manipulation, guilt, deprivation of food and the occasional shock therapy, she keeps the inmates of Oregon State Hospital toeing the line. Ratched has been known to drive men to suicide, but when she finds herself unable to successfully push someone's buttons, she is not above lobotomizing her foe.

And in this corner, in a stunning uniform of pink - No, ma'am. Wands must be left at the door. Fight rules. - is Madame Undersecretary Professor Delores Jane Umbridge!

Don't let her constant prim smiling fool you folks, this is no demure lady. This contender is a Slytherin alum who not only embraces her bigotry, but ensures that she is in the appropriate position of power to act on it. She not only undermines the education of children, she actively harms them both emotionally and physically. As for adults, she happily sent them to prison with the soul sucking Dementors if she so much as disapproved of their lineage.

Seeing as there is no magical or pharmaceutical tools allowed in the ring, these women are fairly well matched. As they are both concerned with giving off a composed appearance, this fight might be a little slow starting. I would assume that it would begin first with each trying to exercise her uncanny knack for seeing the emotional weaknesses of others. However, when they find themselves equals on that front, a physical altercation will be all that's left.

While in a twisted way, these two women probably have enough similar interests to be great friends, neither will yield when the fists start flying - both see the public loss of face as too cruel a punishment to bear.

Physically, they're both of similar matronly builds. Both rely heavily on the tools of their trade (whether that be drugs and surgery or wands and blood quills) to reach their goals, however, the nature of Nurse Ratched's work likely gives her an advantage in terms of physical strength. The work of a nurse, in general, requires stamina and one would assume that this would be particularly true in a mental institution. It is not unlikely that she has had physical altercations with some of the patients at one time or another. After all, approaching a patient with a needle or pills requires one to get much closer to the other individual than approaching someone with a wand.

Delores Umbridge is not someone who will go down easily - a person evil enough to feel strengthened by a horcrux is not one to be trifled with. That being said, without the aid of magic, I believe I would bet on Nurse Ratched. Despite ruling the roost over at OSH, Ratched lives her life constantly surrounded by men who hate her and never being presented with the option of a quick Stupefy - or, more likely, Cruciatus - I'm guessing she's more physically prepared for whatever's thrown at her.

What do you guys think?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Let the Planning Commence!

Good morning, ladies and gents!

I am so extremely excited to tell you that the 2nd Annual RAINN Down Hope Dinner & Auction is well in to the planning stages. Not surprisingly, it's all thanks to you. When I first started thinking about doing the dinner auction last year, I was fully prepared to have a wonderful night with whatever lovely family members could make it. Instead, I ended up in a room with 150 people, raising over $11,000 for RAINN. And, still, that wasn't the end of it.

Over the last seven plus months, I've had numerous people ask me about when we're doing the next one. As always, I am floored by the response and generosity of those around me. I am, also, happy to announce that the dinner will be held December 6, 2014 at Woodlands at the Greens in Melville, NY.

I've already started getting donations of items and baskets to be auctioned off. Spoiler alert: There are going to be some pretty awesome prizes to be won.

I'll be letting you know updates here over the next few months and you can also check out my RAINNmakers page for more info. I'm getting ready to send out Save the Dates. If you think you're going to be in the area in December and would like to get one, email me your address and I'll make sure you do!

If you're interested in donating an item for auction (signed books were a big hit last year!), please email me or drop me a note in the comments.

Thank you in advance for any signal boosting you can do! I know that, with your help, we can make this event a true celebration of the 20 years of good work done by RAINN.

On a final note, you're all awesome and I feel consistently lucky when I think of the people whose paths have crossed mine. So, thanks for that too.