Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Getting out of the Slush Pile

What am I reading now?  Glimmer of Hope (Sarah M. Eden)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? I loved this and sat with tears at the ends of my lashes while reading this most of this story. This is not a usual romance or a usual Sarah Eden romance. Usually, I expect witty dialogue and fun misunderstandings, but this book doesn't follow that pattern. It is tender and heartfelt. I hope you enjoy it!

Miranda Harford was young, carefree, and desperately in love. But when her new husband left for London without her, her world fell apart. Devastated by his abandonment, Miranda fled their home, taking residence for three years at her husband’s rarely visited countryside estate. 

Carter Alexander Harford, Seventh Viscount Devereaux, is a man driven to succeed. His work is his life, and the position of Prime Minister of England is within reach. But in truth, Carter is a man haunted by lost love. Estranged from his beautiful wife, Carter is shocked to find Miranda—the woman he’d loved and who he believes has left him—in residence at his country home.

Storymakers 2014 Conference

The first session I attended this year was a slush pile simulation. Agents sat on a panel and listened to the first page of a story. They were to hold their hand up as soon as they thought they'd stop reading. It seem to me that this year the agents gave really insightful comments that could be applied beyond the pieces they were listening to. This seemed like great list of ideas for checking my manuscripts. Here are some of my favorite comments from that session.

Too internal for me. I'd like to know where the character is, if it is male or female and an approximate age. Too vague, more physical details.
Two typos in the first couple of paragraphs--I'd stop there.
Too many adjectives, and they are standard and not unique.
Change the sense you are using (then reread 5 sentences which all described sight).
There's no drama in the opening.
What is the era, when in time?
Missed opportunity for humor early on.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love to Create

What am I reading now? The Pirate's Desire (Jennette Green)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? This story is set in England, 1812. Seventeen-year-old Lady Lucinda wants her freedom back. But an orphaned young woman has no property rights in regency England; indeed, she has few rights at all. . .

After Lucinda’s father is killed in action, he leaves her under the guardianship of a former pirate, the devastatingly handsome Captain Riel Montclair. Riel is a barbaric rogue, however, as he demonstrates the very first evening he arrives. Montclair clearly has a will of iron, which frustrates Lucinda beyond measure. But how could her tender-hearted father have come to trust such a dangerous man? Lucinda must protect Ravensbrook, and her future, at all costs. And how far is she willing to go to get Riel out of her life, and ensure her freedom?

Doing Something you Love

What are your hobbies? Why do you do them?

Obviously I love to write. But another thing I like to do is make beautiful dresses. When I consider why that became a hobby of mine, I remembered watching my mom sew. It seemed like magic to me. You start out with something flat and end up with clothing to create memories with. So I learned. I cut and measured. I pinned and sewed. And all too often I pulled the stitches out and tried again. 

Year after year, dress after dress, gradually I got better. It was many, many years before I realized I could do what my mother did--take a sleeve from this pattern, a bodice from that, and design a new skirt that all together would make the new dress, a unique creation. 

During those hours of sewing, I learned that the creative process is hard but will improve with practice. I also learned that creating carries with it it's own worth.

Now I apply those lessons learned to a new creative project--learning to tell stories--and hope for a beautiful result. I know it will take hours and hours, and that it will improve. I just have to keep working at it.

Here's a recent dress I made for a granddaughter. I cut the fabric from my own wedding gown. Not only was the dress sewn with love, but the very fabric was a witness to long ago beautiful memories.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Let's Party!

What am I reading now? Tinker King (Tiffany Trent)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Just started, but I loved the first one in the series, The Unnaturals.
Here's the back cover blurb:
After Vespa, Syrus and Bayne defeated the Grue and restored order to their world, they thought their future was secure. Empress Olivia, committed to peace and equality for humans and Elementals alike, was a fair and just ruler. And the Creeping Waste had vanished for good, giving them hope for the first time.

But rebellion is brewing in the far-off city of Scientia, and dark Elementals are plotting war in the ruins of New London. When a wave of unimaginable terror threatens to destroy everything in its path, Vespa, Syrus and their friends are plunged into a new swamp of intrigue, deception and magic---and the cost of survival may be more than any of them are willing to pay.

I'm posting late, and I'm going to blame it on spring break.
Here's the fun that's been going on:

We weeded the flower beds where these little pretties were growing.
Went to my granddaughter's horse riding lesson to watch as she learned to post and trot. (She had a very sore butt later. :)
Visited the zoo.
And the museum.

Hope your party is fun too!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


What am I reading now?  These Broken Stars (Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Lilac meets Major Tarver Merendsen by accident. But knowing that her father would ruin the young officer if caught in her company, she humiliates him and turns away. Shortly after their encounter, the Icarus, the largest luxury space ship Lilac's father owns, begins vibrating violently, sending passengers stampeding to the escape pods. When she is pushed over a railing in the confusion, Tarver follows to save her. They enter a pod and blast away from the listing ship.
          Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. 

The fact that the book I read this week was co-authored increased my interest in it. When ever I see that a book is co-authored, I wonder what their writing process was. Deanna and I have been through a few permutations and will probably end out changing things up again in the near future.

At first, we just outlined together, and then one of us wrote the book while constantly consulting with the other about needed changes. The next change came when we decided to switch manuscripts every now and again (read--when we were sick of the book we were writing) for variety. Lately though, we write side-by-side. We sit together when we outline and when we compose or revise. I absolutely love it. Because we are mother-daughter, I not only appreciate her as a writer, but I love building the relationship too.

That will change, as all things are bound to, and we'll have to find a new writing process. This quote makes me think about how we will find a way to be close whether or not we can sit side-by-side and share our love of writing and stories.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Best Sunday Potatoes Ever

What am I reading now?  As You Are (Sarah M. Eden)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? So far, every book Sarah Eden has written is sitting on my "Favorites" shelf. Recently, I had to start of new bookshelf for books I want to reread, and all of Sarah's books made it to that shelf too!

A horse breeder by trade, Corbin Jonquil is more at home in the stables than in the ballroom of his sprawling estate. Corbin is the quietest of the Jonquil brothers and has always faded into the background, contentedly unnoticed. When a mysterious young widow, Mrs. Clara Bentford, moves into the neighborhood, however, Corbin quickly comes to realize that being noticed has its advantages. But how to catch the eye of the lady?

I love how awkward Corbin is and the mistaken motives Clara assigns to him--a trademark of Sarah Eden's romances :)

We had the Best Sunday Potatoes Ever!

Here's how to make them:
Slice potatoes into quarter-inch slices and place in salted water overnight

Mix together 3/4 jar of Ranch dip
Can Campbell's Nacho Cheese Soup
1 package Lipton's Onion Soup (the box is called Recipe Secrets)
1 pound crispy bacon cut in 1-inch pieces

Spray the pan with Pam
mix potatoes with the soup mixture and put half of it in the pan
sprinkle with half the bacon
cover with half-pound of grated colby-jack cheese

REPEAT all layers

(Here's a picture as I was layering it.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes (Until potatoes break apart when stabbed with a fork)