Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals for 2013

It's that time of year again, when folks start asking (or getting asked) about resolutions for the new year. I don't have resolutions so much as goals, so here are my goals for 2013 (not in any particular order):

Finish the current work-in-progress by the end of February. Actually, this one is a pretty top priority. It's been awhile since I've written a book, for various reasons and it's time to get back in the game.

Finish at least one more manuscript before Dec. 2013. See above re getting back in the game.

Book a trip (and go to) somewhere in Europe. We have many, many aeroplan miles we must use, or lose. Nice problem to have but only the air fare is free. Which is why we haven't used them already.

Lose ten pounds by May 4 (aka Daughter's Wedding Day). Although the dress I'm wearing is forgiving (empire waist, jersey knit), I need to lose at least 10 lbs. anyway.

Eat less junk food. See above.

Get back to walking either outside or on the treadmill EVERY DAY. And not just because I need to lose 10 lbs. I feel better and sleep much better if I exercise.

Spend more time in the hammock at the cottage. How can I say that after the above? Because last summer I spent a lot of time doing necessary yard work. The year before that, it was painting. I don't want to have it ingrained in my brain that cottage = work. That kinda defeats the purpose of having a cottage, doesn't it?

Finish making the small front yard at the cottage all garden.Again, this seems to go against what I just said, but I think it can be done without becoming a Major Project. I can hopefully get the bulk of the work done in a weekend, or maybe a week.

Be more positive. I've been finding myself seeing negatives before positives far too much lately, and that's got to stop. To be honest, I think this may be the most difficult goal of all. Thinking optimistically, though, it may also yield the best results for a happier me.

Whatever your goals are, and whether we reach them or not, I wish all of you a happy, healthy, safe and wonderful New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays!

This is our Christmas tree.

On the top is the angel my sister made. This year, my husband insisted the Gordie Howe ornament have prominence. Also, the Three Stooges. We have more than one set of Three Stooges ornaments because they've been part of our family humor since the kids were born. My mom is giving me Wizard of Oz ornaments yearly, and you'll also see several cardinals because I love cardinals. You can also see the cotton ornament we got in Georgia, and several strands of Mardi Gras beads strung together. Indeed, every ornament and decoration on the tree means something special to us, whether it was a gift, or homemade, or picked up on our travels.

However your tree is decorated, I hope you all have a lovely holiday, with lots of good times and good cheer, and a wonderful New Year, too!

I'll be back to the blog in January.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Decluttering Challenge and Other Projects

I'm still working on the decluttering and re-storing of items, with this week's task being to box up some of my good china and put it in a cupboard in the basement. Here's what the cupboards are starting to look like - full but organized.

I've also been busy with Christmas sewing projects, including two dresses for my nieces that I finished last night.

I'm still trying to work on my manuscript as well, but at this time of year, that has to take a back seat for a bit. Once New Year's is past, though, it's full steam ahead on writing, because I hope to have a lot of the packing up for the new floors done by then.

I have a few more things to buy and finish making, then let the wrapping commence!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Weekly Clutter Challenge - So many books...

So the Flooring Dude shows up on Saturday as scheduled with the samples, sees all the empty boxes in the living room and gets a shocked look on his face. I explained I wanted to take my time with the packing, a little bit a day. He was relieved - the poor guy thought he'd misunderstood the start date. Like maybe I thought it'd be next week, not the end of January. Nope, I just try to avoid stress by getting things done ahead of time if possible.

What have I tackled with all those boxes this week?

I've written a lot of books for Harlequin, which means I've had a lot of books translated and published all over the world. And I do mean all over - Japan, Germany, Korea, Australia, Italy, Scandinavia, Estonia, Spain, Brazil...and more. I have a copy of every translation I've received, plus an original edition, in the wall unit in the office/den upstairs. I boxed them up, and even I was shocked by how many there were. Sadly, I didn't count them, but I can tell you they are in several boxes.

That also meant some empty shelves, which looks a little odd, so I took some mugs that I have on display on top of the kitchen cupboards and put them on the book shelves. Those mugs can go back to the kitchen when it's time to do the floors, so I thought that would be a good substitute.

This week, I'm working on the bottom cupboards of the wall units in the dining room, where we keep all sorts of albums, pictures, etc. Talk about a trip down memory lane! I also plan to pack up the clock I got from my parents, which was a wedding present they received. I'll be doing that very carefully, and making sure it's well marked so nothing gets put on top of it.

I've also learned what should NOT be kept in a box - fabric. If I can't see it, I forget I have it. Not everything that can be put in a box should be put in a box, even if it's labeled.

While I'm packing things up, I'm also unpacking Christmas decorations and getting them up. And realizing that I've got a lot of sewing to do NOW if I'm going to get things in the mail. I'll have some serious tidying of the sewing cupboard to do after Christmas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Weekly Clutter Challenge, now with even more motivation

When I started my challenge to declutter my house, my goal was a simple one: to make things neater, tidier and more pleasant, as well as make better use of the existing storage space.

We've recently made a big decision that's given me even more motivation to declutter and better utilize our storage space: we're getting new hardwood floors. Since we live in a bungalow, that means packing up and moving everything in the living room, dining room, front hall and three bedrooms.

That's a lot of stuff.

Some will get thrown out, some will get boxed up and stored, perhaps not to see the light of day for a long time, and some will be temporarily boxed and stored for the duration of the work.

This week, I moved some of my late mother-in-law's papers/cards/notes from the rec room shelves to under the stairs, pending my husband's culling. This is a job he's put off for months, but it's not something I can do.

With my son's permission, I'm recycling his university notes. His textbooks are now in a box with my husband's university textbooks and high school Latin textbooks, which I have not yet been able to convince him to part with. Will he suddenly need to decline a Latin verb? I don't think so, but apparently he lives in hope.

Later this week, I'll be dealing with videos. Some are forever keepers (the family's in them), but I suspect there are many others that can go. The rest will be in the big basket that will be moved downstairs nearer Floor Day (since I still use the VCR), or boxed up and shelved.

So I've got a new motivation along with my goal. Motivation is always good, in life and in writing. I've also got a tentative deadline and there's nothing like a deadline to make one focus. In life or in writing.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Making the tough calls

If you follow me on Twitter, you'll know I recently decided to cut a secondary character out of my current work-in-progress. Believe me, this is not something I do lightly, because it means I'm going to have to lose several pages of material, including action and dialogue intended to reveal more about the main characters.

However, as the story progressed, this character was more often troublesome than helpful. I kept having to remember he existed and thinking that he should be in the scene, or have more to do.

If I had to keep reminding myself that character existed, how important was he to the main plot? Yet if I cut him out, all that material I'd already written would have to go.

Also in that character's favor: My hero would very likely have such a character in his employ. On the other hand, given other elements of my hero's background, I could offer a valid explanation for that lack.

I liked the guy. He had some good lines, too, lines that won't work in any other character's dialogue. You can't just take lines from one character and put them in another's mouth, not unless you intend to change the latter character's personality, so they'd be gone, too.

I had a vague notion he could eventually become the hero of a sequel. But I had no clear ideas for specific story for him yet.

So despite the points in his favor, I made the tough decision to take him out of the story. Now I have to delete all references to him, all his dialogue, all his activity, all reactions to him. This is not particularly easy, nor is it enjoyable, but by taking him out, I'll have a tighter story with more emphasis on the main characters.

This is the sort of decision that makes writing difficult, even painful at times. But it's also part of what separates writing from typing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekly Clutter Challenge, Week 5

First up, I've finished decluttering the first draft of my current work-in-progress. One of the more major casualties was an entire scene in the last chapter. That's the bad news. The good news is that it may be suitable for a sequel, should I decide to write one. I'm not throwing it away, I'm putting it in a better place.

Which brings me to my latest decluttering challenge.

I've been sewing since I was a teenager, and I've been saving patterns for years, storing them in a large wooden chest (one of the first things I ever bought for myself). As you can see from the picture below, there was a lot of wasted space in that chest.

The other problem was that the top of the chest doubles as a coffee table, so I'd often have to clear it off to get to the patterns.

I decided that not only would I cull the patterns, I'd put toys that my kids haven't played with for years (but which I have no intention of getting rid of) in the chest, freeing up other, more useful storage space on shelves elsewhere.

I now have fewer patterns in a more accessible space, while keeping things I don't use, but don't want to part with, in a place where they aren't a nuisance.

(Bonus points if you can identify some of the items in the chest!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekly Clutter Challenge - Week 4

As I set about decluttering my house, it's occurred to me I'm doing something very similar to the book-in-progress. I'm cutting out what is no longer necessary, or repetitive, or just plain dull. Not always easy, but I'll be happy when it's done - sort of like the Weekly Clutter Challenge.

How am I doing so far? Pretty good on the book and not too bad on the house, although I found myself leaving too many things lying around in Daughter's Room after clearing space for the Insulation Dudes to get to the attic. The kitchen counter is still clutter-free, and so are most of the other spaces I've worked on. The desk in the office/den continues to be the most difficult to keep tidy, in no small part because I'm working on a book. I tend to spread out hard copy pages. Still, it's tidier than usual, and that's a good thing.

This week's challenge is an area that has been cluttered for months - the laundry room counter. It's been the depository for things like packages of paper towels and cleaning products.

I have now reached the point where in order to tidy up one area, I need to find space in a cupboard or other area. Fortunately, there are many areas of under-used storage real estate in the house, like a shelf in the rec room closet and a drawer in the downstairs office. The items on the shelf, which were mostly papers, are now in the drawer, and the paper towels are on the shelf. I found more under-utilized space for the cleaning supplies and a small compost container in a cupboard in the laundry room (we have another dedicated container for compost in the kitchen). The container isn't easily visible in the laundry room cupboard, though, so I'm writing a reminder note and taping it to the inside of the door of the cupboard under the sink in the kitchen.* One of these days, when I declutter that cupboard, I'll move that container there, as it does occasionally** get pressed into service. But that's a project for another week.

* Could I have used more prepositions in a single sentence?

** Do you have words you can NEVER remember how to spell correctly? "Occasionally" is one of mine.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Notes on the page

I've mentioned a few times that I'm an "old school" sort of writer. I find it very difficult to revise solely on the computer. For one thing, I move scenes and parts of scenes not just within the same chapter, but sometimes many chapters sooner or later. The easiest way for me to keep track of those changes is to do a literal cut and paste. I cut the pages apart (noting the chapter and page number), paste parts of pages on scrape paper so everything is 8 1/2 by 11, then put them into the new spot.

I also make a lot of notes on the pages. Here's an example of the notes on one page of the manuscript I'm currently revising. (R is the hero, T is the heroine.)

How does he look? (refers to the hero)

clarify/expand a bit

Where is he? (meaning, in the room)

How does he look now? Same?

See next page.


No change until T. orders her?


Speaking as if R isn't there - T still baffled

Imagine this times about 300 or more for a full manuscript. So you can probably also imagine that by the time I'm done, I've got quite the marked-up, cut and pasted, mangled-looking manuscript.

Then, of course, comes making the noted changes on the computer, until I have a completed second draft.

Then I print the entire manuscript again and go through it from start to finish again. At this point, I'm hoping all I have to do is polish and expand. (My initial drafts are always lean and light on description.) But I'm not surprised if I discover that I have more major fixes and adjustments to make, so I wind up printing and going through the manuscript from start to finish a fourth time, possibly a fifth before I feel it's ready to go.

Then, and only then, does anybody else get to see it, and that's my editor. Who will probably want more changes made, so the process starts all over again.

So to all those folks who think writing is easy, I say, typing is easy. Writing is work.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Weekly Clutter Challenge, Week 3

First, a check-in on previous decluttering challenges, and so far, so...pretty good. The kitchen peninsula is still clutter-free, and I've done well with keeping the bedrooms tidy. The biggest challenge has been the office/den, with files and papers on my desk. I'm doing my best to keep that sort of clutter from moving to other areas, but it's a challenge.

This week, I have two goals.

1. Put away the laundry as soon as it's folded. This is something I can put off for days, in part because there doesn't seem to be enough room in the necessary drawers, or the items aren't required right away. But that's just an excuse. As of now, all the clean laundry is in its proper place, and I hope to keep it that way.

2. Delete emails and files I no longer require, like responses to social events held literally years ago. This is one of those tasks that isn't important and it doesn't really bother me often. On the other hand, who needs that sort of thing taking up real estate? So over the course of the next week, I'm going to start the winnowing.

Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to delete I go!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Weekly Clutter Challenge, Week 2

So far, so good with my first de-cluttering challenge, keeping the kitchen peninsula clear. It's been a week, and it's still clear. Even better, it hasn't been difficult at all.

This week, I decided to tackle the upstairs office/den. As you can see from the "before" picture below, it's one of those places that often has little piles of paper, like files for books I'm working on, or magazines. It's not outrageously messy. On the other hand, I tend to leave those piles unsorted for weeks.

I know why, as I rediscovered as I tackled it on Monday. It's a pain trying to find new homes for those things I think should be kept. I confess that some of those papers wound up on my desk in the downstairs office. That office is going to be the biggest challenge, so I'm saving it for last, when I can take a weekend, or at least a full day, to tackle it.

However, I also made some calls to get some estimates for work on the house, like more insulation and either refinishing or replacing the floors. That means I've had to tackle de-cluttering my daughter's room and my bedroom this week. As with the other challenges, the goal will be to keep those areas clutter-free.

This is the "after" picture of the office/den. Fingers crossed I can be ruthless with the magazines!

Next up, I'm thinking it's time to de-clutter my email.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The First Draft's Done. Now What?

This weekend, I finished the first draft of a novel. First, YEAH! Because this is the hardest part of the process for me. Writing a novel is like going on a long journey. I've got some general directions, but only a few signposts on a very dimly lit path. Sometimes there may be a burst of light and I can see for several feet. Other times, I go the wrong way entirely and wind up in a swamp. In general, though, I'm inching my way along until I finally get to "the end."

And heave a big sigh of relief.

So now what?

Now I start the second draft. I print up the entire manuscript and begin re-reading, revising and editing as I go.

What do I think about? What am I looking for? Here are the main things:

Does what I call the emotional plot make sense? Is is believable that the main couple fall in love and have a lasting relationship by the end of the book, one that goes beyond mutual lust? Have I made it clear that they've come to respect and trust each other and that I've done so in a believable way?

Have I made every character's motivation clear? Are the motives believable?

Have I used the best point of view in every scene? My goal is to make every scene dramatic, exciting and interesting, so have I chosen the character whose POV ensures that? If not, I'll often strip the scene of all internal monologue, keeping the same dialogue and activity, and write it from another character's POV.

Are there plot dead ends? Have I started down a path that I later abandoned?

Do I have character dead ends, characters who started out to be somewhat important, only to become less so? Do I need them at all?

Do I have characters whose importance grew as I wrote the first draft? Do I need to flesh them out more, literally with description and figuratively with motive and personality traits?

Setting will always need work. My first drafts are, basically, plays - heavy on dialogue, some blocking, not much description. Should I keep the scene where it is and add more description, or is there a more fitting or more dramatic spot I could put my characters?

I look out for anachronisms. If a bit of dialogue or description sounds too modern to me, out it goes. When it comes to similies and metaphors, I try to use comparisons that would make sense to my characters. I'm also careful when it comes to time. My characters don't generally have watches or clocks, so I try to avoid using minutes or hours.

I'm always trying to make sure I've said things in the best, clearest way.

Once I've worked my way through the second draft, is the book done? Oh, heck no. It's on to the third draft for more polishing, and sometimes four or five, until I'm satisfied that the story is the best I can possibly make it.

This week, I'm taking some time off between drafts to get some other chores done. Taking a break can also help give me some necessary distance, so I'm approaching the work more as a reader. That way, hopefully, what would confuse the reader will be more obvious.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Clutter Challenge Check-in

So far, so good with keeping the kitchen counter clutter-free. However, the real test will come this weekend, with the hubby back from his business trip and shopping to do.

Next up, I think I'll tackle my office/den upstairs, formerly my son's room. I was thinking I'd go with my daughter's bedroom, which has become a sort of storage facility now that she's moved out, but given that I spend more time in the office/den, I think that'd have more impact on a daily basis.

I'll confirm my choice for the second Clutter Challenge next week. And I think I'll add a Writing Challenge, too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Clutter Conquering Challenge

Ever watched Hoarders on A&E? Or Hoarders: Buried Alive on TLC? I confess to a morbid fascination with those shows. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the way a hoarder will refer to all the things in their homes as "clutter." Usually it's more like trash than just a "disorderly heap."

I, however, do have a few "disorderly heaps" in my house, like piles of magazines neatly stacked in various places that I occasionally go through and discard, or various papers that need to be filed.

I've decided the time has come to try to get rid of clutter, so I'm giving myself a Clutter Conquering Challenge. I'm going to try to come up with a weekly goal to reduce clutter - and prevent it.

First up: I have areas of the house that seem to collect clutter, like the kitchen pennisula. Things come into the house or get dropped there and stay there for, well, too long. So this week's challenge is to keep the pennisula clutter-free. I cleared it off this morning, and my goal is to keep it looking like this not just for one week, but from now on. Wish me luck!

(See that the tall object on the mantle in the background? It's a Shakespeare nutcracker.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Where have I been?


Both on a book proposal and the cottage yard, which was seriously neglected for over two years. That makes for a lot of weeds that need to be dug out. And then there are the violets the former owner planted. Do you know how much they spread and how hard they are to get rid of? Ay yi yi! Then there was soil to put down, seeding and watering to be done. To say I've spent hours and hours on that yard is no exaggeration. I'm hoping all the work this year means much less next summer.

I've also been working on a couple of writing projects. One didn't get the green light. Another was tentative and I decided to put it aside. I'm waiting to hear about another, but in the meantime, I've continued working on it. I want to get back in the writing groove.

Since I'm Mother of the Bride next year, I'm also trying to get my diet and exercise groove back. So far, I haven't been as successful as I'd like. I don't have as far to go to reach my goal as I did when I was Mother of the Groom, but I've left it late to get started. In my own defense, all I can say is, I find it more difficult to lose weight in the summer. After hours of weeding in the broiling sun, the beverage I really craved (aside from water) was cola. I know, I know - they're bad! They're evil! I'm trying to give up on the cola! I've switched to decaf coffee in the afternoons. (Teeth whitening is now on the wedding agenda, too, I might add.)

I've been doing a few craft projects, as well. Most recently, I made fleece pillowcases. Fast and easy and I'm going to make more. (Anybody in my family reading this, if I got your name in the draw, well, maybe you know what you're getting and maybe you don't!)

There have been a few other projects and social events on the calendar, too. But now the main cottage season is over for the year, and we're in a nice lull after Canadian Thanksgiving and before Christmas, so I'm hoping to both finish a manuscript and blog more regularly, too.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's new?

It's been awhile since I've blogged, hasn't it? Time surely does fly. This month, our son is having a milestone birthday that has me wondering where in the heck the time has gone. He didn't sleep much as an infant, and there were days then I thought would never end. People told me he'd grow up before I knew it, and I thought, "HA! I bet that's what you tell all the new moms."

Well, guess what? They were right. He grew up before I knew it. Now he's a fine young married man and really, it seems to have happened in the blink of an eye now.

It seems this summer is going to be over before I know it, too. That's what having a cottage does, I think - the lazy, hazy days get busy when you have two lawns to mow, two gardens to tend and two houses to try to keep in some semblance of order. Not that it's been all work and no play. Lake Erie has been warm and there's a nice sandbar this year.

I've also been trying to keep to a walking and writing schedule. On the writing front, things haven't been going as smoothly as I'd hoped, but I'm managing to stay pretty much on my schedule. I've been doing okay with the walking, too. Unfortunately, cottage time still tends to equal treat time in my head. I really need to get over that. You'd think, after two years of cottage ownership, I'd have done that I'm trying to ignore the siren call of ice cream and Coke, but some days, it's tough.

Now it's time to get to hang out some laundry (yessiree, this writer's life is full of that kind of excitement) and get to the writing.

But first, some pictures from the cottage life.

The Count is feelin' the cottage vibe. In other words, he's sound asleep.

One of the bunnies who lives nearby. (Our cats are indoor cats, so the bunnies are safe from our pets.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Digital Reissues!

I'm delighted to announce that Harlequin has reissued two more of my older books in digital format. They are


Set in Dark Age Britain
From the back cover:


Endredi haunted his every waking thought...a sun-burnished Valkyrie with a beauty as wild as the open sea. But Adelar's deepest passion was also his darkest secret. For the woman who held his heart belonged to his lord....


Always would Endredi remember the boy who had awakened her to love. Yet she cursed the fates who brought her face-to-face with Adelar the man, for she was now nothing more than a bartered bride in a Saxon stronghold rife with danger and deceit.

Read An Excerpt

Inside scoop about THE SAXON: The heroine is obviously pregnant on the back cover, not something you tend to see a lot. It's also the sequel to THE VIKING.


Book Four in my Warrior Series
From the back cover:

Reluctant Bride

Never the docile, obedient maid, Madeline de Montmorency railed against her fate, proclaiming she'd not go willingly to the marriage bed of a stranger. Especially since her heart had chosen another alliance -- with a man branded as an outlaw, and a thief!

Rebel Outlaw

Dafydd ap Iolo was weary of the fight until he laid eyes upon the fiery Lady Madeline. For here was the first Norman he'd no desire to call an enemy, and his longing for the green hills of Wales dimmed against the burning flame of their mutual desire.

Read An Excerpt

Inside scoop about THE WELSHMAN'S WAY: This is the book that also introduces Sir Roger de Montmorency, hero of THE NORMAN'S HEART. The heroine of THE WELSHMAN'S WAY is his sister, and at the start of the novel, she turns around and there he is. And there he was to me, too. Fully formed, complete. So fully formed, in fact, I was afraid he was going to take over the book. Fortunately, I found a way to prevent him from being too domineering until he could get his own story.

Haven't read THE VIKING or any of my other Warrior books? Not to worry! I always write each book to "stand alone."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Two Excellent Writing Guidelines

Like many authors, I've gone to several writing workshops, and I have many how-to writing books. Some things I remember easily, some don't seem to apply. The really good points, I never forget and they are in my mind every time I start a new project.

Here are my two most memorable writing guidelines.

"What does your character do at the end of the story that he or she would never do at the beginning?"

There's the climax to your novel, folks - as well as giving you a way to show how much your character has changed over the course of the story.

The second memorable lesson:

"The beginning of your story should ask questions, not give answers."

That's not only a great guide to what the opening of your story should do, but it also tells you what it shouldn't do. If you follow this piece of advice, you'll likely avoid the dreaded info dump.

I believe I heard the first guideline from Gayle Wilson. It's been years since I first heard it, though, so I could be wrong.

The second came from Molly O'Keefe. She may have been quoting someone, though.

Whatever the original source of these pithy statements, they are both well worth remembering when it's time to plot and write a novel.

Monday, July 09, 2012

And...we're back!

We've just been visiting the fabulous Pacific Northwest. The weather wasn't great until the fourth of July, which was sunny and warm. However, clouds and chilly temperatures didn't stop us from driving through the spectacular Olympic Mountains, seeing flora and fauna, the temperate rain forest and sampling some of the fabulous food of Seattle.

First up today - the fauna, starting with an inquisitive deer that approached our car.

This deer lives on Hurricane Ridge, where, as you can see, there was still snow.

We didn't see any mountain goats, and judging by this warning, good thing!

For all you Twilight fans, we went to Forks and the temperate rain forest, where a family of elk browsed the verge. The temperate rain forest is fascinating, beautiful and yep, really creepy.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Last Day of Digital Sale

Just briefly, because I'm visiting family this week - This is the last day the digital editions of my Avon books will be on sale. The previous blog post lists the titles and links to more information about the books.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Only one week left....

To get digital editions of my books published by Avon for 99 cents!

Like medievals? Try -

More Info

More Info

More Info

Ever read a historical romance set in Restoration England? No? Here are mine -

More Info

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And last but not least, the two Regencies I wrote for Avon -

More Info

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Happy summer reading!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Books for 99 cents!

ETA: Now all my Avon books are on sale for 99 cents. The recent additions are

More Info

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I've just found out that digital editions of several of my Avon books are on sale for 99 cents ($1.09 on Kindle).

The books are:

More Info

More Info

More Info

More Info

More Info

More Info

The books will be available at this price until July 2.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Take on Fifty Shades of Grey

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you'll have heard about FIFTY SHADES OF GREY and the other two books in the series.

Here's what I know or have heard about them:

They're about a young woman and a powerful man who have a bondage/S & M relationship.

Sales of the series have gone through the roof.

The story started out as fan fiction based on Twilight.

The movie rights have been sold.

It's basically a romance.

They're not very well written.

The last two points really bug some people. If those aspects are true, what's the big deal?

Well, folks, I've been in this business long enough to know that some books just take off, and it doesn't matter if they're spectacular or flawed.

Sometimes, it only takes one unique element to lift a book to the best-seller lists. For instance, the plot in THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO wasn't anything that I haven't seen on Law & Order: SVU. But it had one of the most interesting and unique female characters to come along in a long time.

Sometimes savvy and/or persistent and/or effective marketing by the author or publisher or both get a book noticed. A large print run helps.

But sometimes it's just timing. A book hits the market at a certain point and touches a nerve. It gets "buzz" and word of mouth. Then the media get hold of it, and the social pundits start weighing in. People feel they have to read it, or they'll be missing something. THE DA VINCI CODE, anyone?

So I'm not getting my knickers in a twist about whether it's "fair" that a book that may be "unworthy" is a best-seller.

For whatever reason or reasons, it just is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Cabinet of Margaret Moore

I have finished my latest Craft Project - painting a china cabinet. I had some basic steel shelves in the mudroom at the cottage, used for extra beach towels, beach toys, sports equipment and laundry supplies. However, this is the most used entrance to the cottage, so I wanted something a little more attractive. I bought a used china cabinet for $80, which was certainly a tad nicer. But as the picture illustrates, it was not in the greatest condition.
The door stuck and the legs were in really sad shape.
Since it was pretty clearly not an antique and so not worth refinishing, I decided to paint it. I've seen many a decorating show where the designer advocates getting furniture sprayed. Fine, if you want to spend the money. I'm sure it's a harder, more durable finish. But I didn't want to spend very much money on my cabinet, and I already had left-over paint. I had two different colors and decided to use both.

First, though, I had to sand it. I hate sanding. It's hard on the hands, it's dusty, it doesn't show. Well, it shows if you don't sand, but it's not often you hear anybody say, "Wow, was that thing well sanded!"

Here it is sanded. I took the door off and took the glass and decorative bit out. I took off the handles of the drawer, too.

Next came the primer. I have become an old hand at painting paneling now, and let me tell you, any primer I've used really doesn't cover dark wood all that well. I knew that going in, though, so I wasn't disappointed when the first coat came out like this.
I did a second coat, always sanding between coats.
Now came the more interesting part, painting with the two different colors. Both paints were Behr's Premium Plus Ultra, white for most of the cabinet and light green for the decorative bits, door and drawer. As I said, these were left over - from the paneling in the sunroom and the kitchen. I love this paint - it goes on well and it has almost no odor. I didn't have to buy any brushes, either, as I had some unused from other paint jobs.
In the interest of full disclosure (because I like it when the pros admit their mistakes) - I made a major error at this point. When painting the decorative bit from the door, I used too large a brush and didn't realize the paint was seriously dripping on the reverse side until I turned it to paint after letting the first side dry a bit. This piece of the cabinet was very thin - no more than an eighth of an inch - so I found it nearly impossible to sand. I've discovered the hard way that trying to fix a mistake can make it infinitely worse, so I decided to carry on, using a smaller brush the next coats, and putting the least drippy side showing. Upon completion, however, I discovered that by painting the decorative door bit, I had made it thicker and I simply couldn't get it back in the door without risking breaking the glass, or the door.

Which brings me to another slight disaster. As I was painting the door frame, it shifted and came, quite literally, unglued. I managed to bang it back together. Since it already had issues with sticking, it's a bit dodgy. I may wind up removing it completely. The cabinet will look a little strange, but still a lot nicer than steel shelving or the old, chipped wood.

I also forgot to paint the wooden knobs for the drawer. Since the paint was "free", I bought new porcelain knobs. Total cost: about $5.

Here is the cabinet, all finished and put back together. I'm quite pleased with it, despite the dodgy door.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Some Thoughts on Motherhood

I've been a mother for just about thirty years now, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and observations about motherhood, based on my own experience but also observations of other mothers over the years.

When your children are small and people tell you the time will fly by, believe them. Even on those days when the house is a wreck, the kids are running wild and you would kill for a coffee break, believe them. One day, you will look back and wonder how those days passed so swiftly.

Say yes, say no, but use "maybe" sparingly and only when you really do mean "maybe." Otherwise, kids may think "Maybe means yes if I whine enough."

You are always teaching by example.

Occasional silliness will not mean your kids don't respect you.

Follow your instincts. Somewhere, there will be a parenting book that says you're doing the right thing.

Of course every family and family situation is different. Not everyone has been as fortunate as I to have parents to teach by excellent example, or to have as wonderful a partner to share child-raising responsibilities. Nor am I a perfect mother - far from it. I've made mistakes, many of them. In spite of that, my kids are happy, successful adults, and my family is, without doubt, the greatest joy of my life.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Looking back

Recently my son was involved in job interviews. He wasn't being interviewed. He was doing the interviews.

My maternal mind was boggled. How did he get so...grown up?

I was told many times when my kids were small that the time would fly by. There were many days I thought that was a crock. I yearned for just a simple coffee break or one night of uninterrupted sleep.

But you know what? I was wrong.

The time flew by. And now I'd love to be able to turn back the clock for just one day, with no time for a coffee or a full night's sleep.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a movie...

Happy Star Wars Day! I was in university when Star Wars was first released. I remember lining up around the block at one of the largest movie theaters in Toronto, now defunct, to see it. I also remember my reaction to the movie and it wasn't just "Wow, that was good!"

I felt not just excited and happy when the movie ended, but relieved. Star Wars was, in many respects, a throw-back to classic story-telling and characters I enjoyed so much when watching old movies on TV, the ones that often starred Errol Flynn. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. It had good guys and bad guys.

This may not sound so fantastic in the era of blockbuster "popcorn" movies, but back in the '70's era of films, "films" were the thing, movies that were arty and, much of the time, depressing. Apparently many film fans consider the 70's a Golden Age of film, but if you were like me and longed for old-school stories and characters and feeling happy at the end of a movie, not so much.

Then, like both a blast of the past and into the future, came Star Wars, with its classic story elements, like the hero of mysterious origins, and excellent characters. And I'm not just talking about the main characters but the outstanding sidekicks and villains, too.

But those weren't the only things Star Wars had going for it. It was, in many ways, new. The moment I realized that opening shot was from underneath a spaceship, I knew I was in for something different and, well, neat! The other scene that amazed me was the bar scene, especially the band. It was funny AND cool.

Star Wars amazed me because it combined classic, old school elements with what was then new and unexpected. It came at a time when other movies were trying hard to be artistic and deep and so often ended on a "down" note.

For me, Star Wars was like a feast after wandering in the desert.

Have a great Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My garden's gone wild!

This is what I found when I arrived at the cottage on Sunday - a garden gone wild! I'm sure it's because the weather's been unseasonably warm, so I'm not really complaining. Just...egad, I've got a lot of weeding to do! And I don't even know what those purple plants are.
I spent nearly three hours weeding yesterday, and this is all I got done. I'm also writing and painting an old china cabinet. I haven't been for any walks yet, because it was so windy yesterday, I thought I'd blow out to sea (or lake, as the case may be). I hope to do that today, although I have the grass to tackle. With a push mower.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A writer writes every day...or maybe not

I wish I had a buck for every time I've heard "a writer writes every day."

Or to put it another way, a truly committed, professional (or potentially professional) writer proves his or her dedication by writing every single day. Otherwise, you're just a hobby writer. A wanna-be. One of the thousands who say, "I'd love to write a book some day," but never do.

Let me confess this here and now: I have been a published author for twenty years AND I DO NOT WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

There. I've said it.

In fact, I've just taken a few days off from working on my manuscript. I had a lot of things to do last week and (if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know this already) I was stuck with my story. I felt absolutely bogged down, not sure if what I was writing was what was needed at that particular point, as well as trying to figure out how to add time into the tale.

So I gave myself permission to take time off from writing. I had some appointments and meetings and I took care of some administrative and household tasks I'd been putting off. I did all those things without guilt and it felt great. I stopped fretting about the manuscript. That felt great, too.

And best of all, when I got back to the writing yesterday, I was refreshed, I was energized, I had ideas about what to do at the sticky bits, and I wasn't haunted by all those other obligations and tasks that had been in the back of my mind.

Now, I do understand the basic notion behind people saying "a writer writes every day." Writing is not easy. If you're not dedicated, you might take a break that winds up being permanent.

Writing every day keeps your story and characters fresh in your mind, and keeps those writing muscles honed.

However, taking a complete break was what I needed to do, to give my full attention to what else was going on in my life, to clear those decks so I could get back to the writing without guilt and with fresh eyes.

So I say if you can't or don't write every single day, that doesn't necessarily make you any less of a "real" or dedicated writer. It simply makes you a writer who doesn't write every day.

Like me.

Monday, April 02, 2012

My Publishing Anniversary

It was 21 years ago today that Tracy Farrell of Harlequin Historicals phoned me and said the words all authors want to hear: We love your book and we want to buy it.

It was a life-changing moment. I think that's easy enough to imagine. However, I really had no idea of just how much of a roller-coaster ride I was embarking on. There have been some tremendous highs and some very definite lows.

One of the highs? When THE UNWILLING BRIDE made the USA Today best-seller list.

The lows? Bad reviews can be like lashes of a whip and no, I do not and never will have the hide of a rhino when it comes to such things. Why would I? I agonized and sweated over my book and I care passionately about my work. Of course it's going to hurt if somebody doesn't like it.

Would I do things differently knowing what I know now? Oh, heck yes. There are many decisions I could have and probably should have made differently - but that's the virtue of hind-sight, isn't it?

That said, I've have had a career that thousands of unpublished writers would envy and I've made some great friends over the years, from both sides of the publishing aisle.

So, thanks, Tracy and Harlequin, for giving me my start as a published author on April 2, 1991. I am forever grateful.

That first book was A WARRIOR'S HEART. No revisions required, and they even used my title. Little did any of us know at the time, but it was also the start of a 14 book and one novella series.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More Moore Medievals

I'm delighted to announce that Avon has just issued the second and third books in the medieval romance trilogy I wrote for them in digital format.


Everyone knows that red-haired women are nothing but trouble, so when enchanting, flame-haired Fiona MacDougal rides into his castle courtyard announcing that she is willing to become his bride, Caradoc of Wales knows to be wary -- even of such a beautiful Scottish lass bearing gifts. He has no desire to take himself a wife, but her kisses are so tempting that the idea of an intimate -- and permanent -- union becomes most appealing indeed.

The thought of marrying this bold, handsome warrior sends shivers of delight down Fiona's spine. She wants nothing more than to tell him the entire truth -- that in his strong embrace she is certain to be safe from the despicable blackguard who would marry her for his own selfish gain. Fiona loves Caradoc dearly, but can she ever win her passionate husband's trust -- or gain his love -- if he discovers the real reason she sought him out?

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His Every Desire

Seeking vengeance on the lord who robbed him of his birthright, Sir Alexander DeFrouchette set out to steal his enemy's bride...and, in his haste,carried of the wrong lady! Now it would be far too dangerous to release the exquisite Lady Isabelle -- whose sister was the true captive he sought. The bold, spirited hellion has enchanted him, and Alexander longs to tame her and taste the sweetness of her kiss. But she is related to his hated foe, and the noble knight will never know Isabelle's love until she offers it willingly -- and this she dares never do.

All Her Dreams

Gallant knights are supposed to protect fair maidens -- not kidnap them! Yet here is Lady Isabelle, a prisoner of Sir Alexander, who is strong, virile, handsome, everything she ever dreamed of in a man. But proud, fiery Isabelle will never succumb to force -- no matter how powerfully he inflames her passion...or how quickly her heart beats when he's near...

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The first book in the trilogy, THE MAIDEN AND HER KNIGHT, is still on sale for the low, low price of $1.99 (until April 2).

Lady Allis nearly swoons when she first sees the tall, tempting knight at her father's jousting tournament. As the eldest daughter of the family, she is duty-bound to wed someone of wealth and privilege -- and Sir Connor, though mesmerizing, is not only penniless but in disgrace. To Connor, this fiery, untouchable maiden is a prize worth fighting for. The onetime hero has little save his pride and his skill -- as a warrior and a lover. But will that be enough to survive castle treacheries, to know the rapturous passion the lady's hungering gaze promises -- and to win her heart?

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