Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 for 2013

13 had always been my favorite number and I can safely say that 2013 did not disappoint. I would like to present my top thirteen favorite things that happened in my life this year:



13. Learned how to make Peanut Butter Pie. (Absolutely delicious and probably will be the death of me.)  

12. Managed to pack up my whole apartment and move it to a storage unit without setting anything on fire in a fit of rage.

11. Got to read just a whole of ton of amazing books.

10. Completed the A to Z Challenge here on the blog!

9. Had the pleasure of hosting 9 fantastic authors in the airing of their Not-So-Guilty Pleasures. (Check out the side menu!)

8. Saw a wombat for the first time. Life changing.

7. Tried a bunch of new things (such as going into Manhattan to audition for the Disney cruise line on a whim. Cause, why not? I had a free Tuesday.)

6. Finished my manuscript!!! (The fact that this is coming in at number 6 is just proof of how awesome this year has been.)

5. Got to work with the lovely and talented Cora Carmack on my manuscript (thanks to Pitch Wars.)

4. Did a lot of travel both internationally and domestically.

3. Got to celebrate a bunch of engagements of friends and family (plus one wedding, so far!)

2. Helped raise a bunch of money for RAINN (final total - $11,610! People just kept donating. It was amazing!)

1. My beautiful nephew decided to grace the world with his presence.




I hope that 2013 was just a wonderful for all of you and I look forward to seeing you here next year. Because I have some high hopes for 2014. 

Happy New Year's Eve!

2013 Reads

I can not believe 2013 is almost over. It’s been a crazy year. So many excellent things happened, but more on that tomorrow.

Today let’s focus on books, because we haven’t done that in far too long. I wanted to share some of favorites of the year. As my WIP is YA Fantasy, I will admit that my list is going to be very YA heavy. I’ve been in the zone.

Here they are (in order of release date):



Shrapnel (Stephanie Lawton)

Always been interested in ghosts and the Civil War so this YA paranormal was right up my alley. It was interesting getting to be in the heads of each of the three teens dealing with their psychic abilities in this haunted house. Every time I’d get annoyed at one, I’d find out what they were going through. Also really liked the idea that these teens were brought together by a reality show about psychics.


Asunder (Jodi Meadows)

Absolutely fantastic follow up to Incarnate. Wasn’t sure I could love these characters more, but apparently I could. Go figure.


Hooked (Liz Fichera)

There was so much about this story I enjoyed. Loved getting two different perspectives on the action and was particularly enamored with Fred’s voice. Also, as I don’t have much of a golfing background, I was very interested in that aspect of the story.


Man in the Empty Suit (Sean Ferrell)

A time-traveling murder mystery in which a man tries to solve his own murder despite the only suspects being himself at other ages? Yes, please.


The Nightmare Affair (Mindee Arnett)

Absolutely fell in love with the idea of nightmares as creatures rather than just bad dreams. Throw in a special school for magic folk and a murder mystery and my attention is pretty much guaranteed.


Jilted (Kelly Jamieson)
Bolted (Megan Benjamin)
Busted (Sydney Somers)
Hitched (Erin Nicholas)

These are the four books of the Promise Harbor Wedding series. What originally drew me to this was the idea of four authors writing books about the same event, each from the perspective of a different couple. It ended up being a ton of fun to read and I’d be hard pressed to pick a favorite.


The Best Man (Kristan Higgins)

Fun contemporary romance. It was a great start to a new series. Really liked Faith and Levi and am looking forward to seeing how things for the rest of the quirky Holland family turn out.


OCD Love Story (Corey Ann Haydu) 

So compelling, not to mention beautifully written. It was extremely hard to put this one down, though at times I found I had no choice as I was getting so anxious for the characters. But I could never take too long a break before picking it back up.


Rumor Has It (Jill Shalvis) 

I’ve really loved all of the Animal Magnetism series and Kate and Grif’s story was no exception. Not only were the two of them great, but it’s always nice to catch up with the other characters. Feels like chatting with old friends.




All right, now I want to hear some of yours! Also, what books are you looking forward to in 2014? I'm always looking to add to my TBR list.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Ho, Ho, Horror

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of made-for-TV Christmas movies (See: this insanity). That being said, even with my blinding love of this genre, I can’t help but notice that if it wasn’t for everyone realizing the true meaning of Christmas by the end of them, some of these movies would be straight up horror flicks.

So, today, I offer you a smattering of synopses and you get to guess whether they belong to one of my beloved holiday movies or to one of my hated horror films. Answers are at the bottom. NO PEEKING.

  1. Woman kidnaps man at gunpoint and proceeds to drag him blindfolded to her family’s cabin where they will be completely cut off from any technology. 

  1. Man gets in car accident and wakes up in cabin, cut off from the world, with a woman who has no intention of letting him leave.

  1. On the way to their holiday destination a man and his family take a short cut and pick up a young woman and her baby, a decision which changes their lives forever.

  1. Man tracks woman down through letter that she sent to soldiers for the holidays. He does not tell her of his intentions, but instead slowly ingratiates himself with her family while undermining her romantic relationship.

  1. With her husband away for military duty, a mother learns more about her daughter and herself than she ever expected.

  1. Older man keeps tabs on younger woman, luring her into an employment opportunity before revealing the startling information he has on her.

  1. Single mother and her aging uncle invite a strange man into their home and soon find that he is insinuating himself into every aspect of their lives.

  1. A young couple searching for the woman’s sister find themselves at a strange motel with an even stranger proprietor.

So, how are we feeling? Jolly or jumpy?











ANSWERS:

  1. Christmas: Holiday in Handcuffs
  2. Horror: Misery
  3. Horror: Dead End
  4. Christmas: The Christmas Card
  5. Horror: The Bad Seed
  6. Christmas: Crazy for Christmas
  7. Christmas: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
  8. Horror: Psycho

Friday, December 20, 2013

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: Megan Just

And the hits just keep on coming! We have another Not-So-Guilty Pleasures!

Today, I'm happy to introduce Megan Just, one of my PitchWars sisters (Go Team Cora!). Here are some of things she unabashedly loves: 


Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Newspaper

I subscribe my community’s paper newspaper.  The environmentalist in me screams in protest, but there’s just something I love about a good, old-fashioned newspaper.  Besides, trees are a renewable resource, right?  And I bring the newspaper to work to share with my co-workers.


Coffee Shop at Work

My employer operates an amazing on-site coffee shop.  It’s better than Starbucks, but half the price.  And boy do I indulge!  I did a calculation last week and despite it being cheap, I spend 1/50th of my salary on coffee shop drinks at work.  Yipes!

Displaying DSC_3187 - Version 2.JPG
 
Christmas Cards

Another dilemma for the forest, but in the end, I like snail mail too much to give up on traditional Christmas cards.  A mail box full of photo-cards from friends and family is one of my favorite things about the holidays, and therefore I send them, too.
 
 

Junky Holiday Candy
File:Peeps-Yellow-Pink.jpg
Fancy truffles, ├ęclairs, gourmet dark chocolate bars…I could take them or leave them.  But put a bag of Halloween candy corn in front of me and you’ll bring me to my knees.  Same goes for chocolate-covered marshmallow santas—or even better, yellow sugar-covered marshmallow chicks.  I feel no guilt while binging on any one of these items. They only come around once a year, after all.


Spoilers

I’m the girl who hides under a blanket during a horror movie incessantly asking, “What’s going on now?”  Thanks to online spoilers, husband can enjoy his scary movies in peace.  It’s not just scary movies, though.  I search Twitter when TV shows air on the east coast first.  I flip ahead in books.  I even read book reviews just to find out what happens next in a series.

*********************************************************************************

Displaying MJ_6199.jpg
 
 
 
 
Megan Just recently finished editing her second novel (new adult genre) and is on the hunt for a literary agent.  She lives in California with her husband and toddler.  Twitter: @meganjust

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures: Susanna Ives

Displaying Wicked-Little-Secrets72.jpg
Holiday greetings, everyone! I've got a present for you today....the first Not-So-Guilty Pleasures since the spring!

Today's guest, Susanna Ives. Ms. Ives newest book, Wicked Little Secrets, came out just last week and today she's here to spill her own. And it would just be mean to keep you waiting any longer...



Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Thank you, Kelly, for hosting me on your wonderful blog! What are my not so guilty pleasures? Here are five!

Music. I’m constantly listening to music -- in front of the computer, in the car, cooking dinner, doing dishes, roaming aimlessly around the house.  However, I have lousy taste. It’s not that I like bad music, it’s that I can’t discriminate between what is bad or good. I’m just happy to listen to it all.

Potato chips. If there aren’t potato chips in the house, I get edgy. I’m a pretty wired, easily stressed person. Potato chips are my comfort food.

Starbucks Frappuccino. It could be ten degrees Fahrenheit outside, and I would slip and slide across an ice-crusted parking lot to order that cold, slushy heaven.

Running. I’ve been laid up with an injury these last few weeks. I’m going crazy in a way that no potato chips can cure. Running takes all my tension and releases it, leaving me feeling relaxed and content.

Writing Romances. I read across many genres, but I only desire to write romances. Weird.



Displaying SusannaIves.jpg
Susanna Ives grew up in the rural South, where she spent most of her youth at the local theater, acting in 
productions, working in the lighting booth, and building sets. Eventually she left her small town for the city lights of Atlanta, where she attended college and worked in corporations as a multimedia developer. These days she chases after her two curious, energetic children, designs web pages, and writes.

You can learn more about Susanna Ives’ work at:

Shopping Suggestions

I don’t know about you, but I’m still holiday shopping. Which, to be honest, is a little horrifying to me, as I like to be done by the time the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade kicks off. Of course, I’ve been told this is manic, but those are the same people who tell me that my December movie schedule is a sign of lunacy.

So, they may have a point.

For now, though, let’s just not pay attention to the man behind the curtain, and instead focus on the fact that we still have gifts to figure out. Thankfully, I have a list of truly awesome people and places to give our patronage.

Each one of these made generous donations to the RAINN Down Hope auction. While they asked for nothing in return, I believe kindness should be repaid in kindness, so I offer them up to you as you complete your shopping.

Because I can’t help myself, let’s start with the gift of reading (aka the greatest gift of all):
·        Kristan Higgins
·        Lauren Grimley
·        Laura Eno
·        Mary Pax
·        Barnes and Noble

For anyone interested in art and awesomeness:
·        StoryPeople
·        Kerri Socha

For gift receivers all over the country:
·        TOMS Shoes
·        Target
·        Jenny Craig
·        Build-A-Bear
·        Costco

For the wine lovers (these vineyards are located in New York, but all have online stores):
·        Pindar Vineyards
·        Pugliese Vineyards

Looking for romance on the eastern seaboard?
·        Entertainment Cruises

In Maine and feeling a bit parched?
·        Vena’s Fizz House

For those in the New York area (or those who are interested in traveling this way):
·        Molly Malone’s
·        Harvest Inn
·        Mulberry Street
·        Gemaginations
·        Milk & Sugar
·        Great South Bay YMCA
·        Argyle Grill & Tavern
·        Eagle Golf
·        Bubba’s Burrito Bar
·        The Rinx
·        The Babylon Carriage House
·        Berger Bros.
·        Design Masters
·        Racine Salon & Spa
·        The Long Island Ducks
·        Coquette
·        Drew Patrick Spa
·        Monsoon


Good luck with figuring out your gifties! Hope this helps!

Monday, December 9, 2013

RAINN Down Hope

When I first thought about organizing a fundraiser to benefit the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) back in September, I figured it would be a great way to start the holiday season. I hoped to get maybe 60/65 people to attend and I was determined to go door to door to businesses until I'd gotten twenty donations. If things went really well, then maybe I'd do it again next year and aim to make the event a little bigger.

It's safe to say that I underestimated the massive generosity of people.

Saturday night over 140 people came to Molly Malone's to buy raffles for 69 donated baskets and 22 door prizes. By the end of the night, over $7500 was raised. When combined with the online donations, that is a grand total of $10260 (more than twice my original goal!) raised for RAINN.


Throughout this process I've been truly blown away by the response I've gotten. I've always believed that good outweighs bad in the world, but if I ever needed proof, I've got it.


First, the number of local and national businesses, as well as individuals, who made basket donations was staggering. If you're in the midst of holiday shopping and still looking for ideas, I'll be posting a list later this week. These authors, artists and stores all have wonderful products and are certainly worthy of patronage.


Then, there were the auction's attendees. There were a number of different groups, people from all different stages of my life, as well as some who I was meeting for the first time. They came from a variety of distances, from Maine to Pennsylvania to Virginia. I tried to speak with everyone for at least a little while and every single person who I spent time with expressed constant love and support. I was even stopped by members of the waitstaff, for handshakes and words of comfort.


Despite the darkness of the inciting incident that led to this event, Saturday night was all about the light. People cheered when others won auction baskets, regardless of whether or not they knew the winner. There were no cross words, no grievances. I was privileged to watch all these wonderful people give of their time and money, but even more impressively, of themselves.



 Getting ready for ticket sales! (Photo by Ed Johnson)


First table of baskets (Photo by Ed Johnson)

(Photo by Ed Johnson)

Long rows of generosity (Photo by Donna Schramm)

Mingling guests (Photo by Donna Schramm)

Scariest part of the evening for me. Was terrified I was going to throw up, but made
it through public speaking vomit free! (Photo by Donna Schramm)

Lucky raffle winner! (Photo by Donna Schramm)

I'm finding myself desperately searching for something bigger to say than "thank you," but I don't think the phrase exists. (Yet. I'm working on it, stay tuned.) So, again, thank you, thank you, thank you to all donors and attendees of the first RAINN Down Hope dinner and auction.



I have never been more inspired to truly embrace the spirit of the holidays.

And to answer a question I received many times the other night, we'll definitely all be getting together again next year.