Sunday, July 22, 2012

Off to Anaheim!

I'm off to Anaheim in less than 48 hours for this year's Romance Writers of America conference. I'm trying to make sure everything is done here at home for the family, thinking about what to pack, struggling to finish revisions, and generally keep my sanity. I will be fine once I get there, but I'm very nervous this year. My schedule is pretty full.

IF you happen to be in the area, you can find me at the LITERACY FOR LIFE signing at the Anaheim Convention Center on Wednesday from 5-8 - along with over 400 other authors, signing books for charity! I'm at table 305, but you can find a complete listing on the RWA website. I've got a little "Canadian flavour" to hand out to those who stop by to say hi!

For conference attendees, I'll also be signing books (and these are FREE) at the Harlequin sponsored signing on Friday morning from 9:45 - 11:15 in the Platinum 6 room.

I have a few receptions to attend, a tea with my fellow Romance authors, an afternoon of workshops and of course the renowned Harlequin Party and the RITA ceremony.

And if you're into crossing fingers and toes, I wouldn't mind the support. HOW A COWBOY STOLE HER HEART is up for the Booksellers' Best, National Reader's Choice and RITA awards.

I don't have a computer on this trip, and I'm one of those silly people who don't have a smartphone, so the blog, facebook and twitter stream will be dark while I'm gone. However you can catch up on what's happening on twitter with the hashtag #RWA12. And when I'm back I'll catch you up on all the shizz.

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Free at Barnes and Noble!

Hired by the Cowboy has finally gone FREE at Barnes and Noble! If you have a Nook and would like to download it, you can find it here.

I'm hoping in the days ahead it will show up free for kindle and Kobo as well.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Things to do before I'm 40....

This year marks that big ol' milestone of forty. To be honest...it's not fizzing me a bit. The thirties were great. I'm cruising right into forty, no worries.

A friend of mine suggested zip lining for my birthday. I told her I wasn't doing anything that required me to sign a waiver. I joked about that this week when the family was at Cape Enrage and we were watching the zip liners go screaming down the cable.

Bad move. Because guess what happened?

Yep. Our whole family - me, husband, and our kids - got strapped up into harnesses and away we went (That's me in the red brain bucket).

You have to understand that I'm terrified of heights. I don't even like being on the stepladder. So by the time I got to the top platform I was shaking. And very nearly crying. When the guy said "Just walk off the edge nice and easy," my comments was "easy for you to say!".

I held my breath, held on for dear life, and stepped.

IT WAS AWESOME!

We got three turns and I loved it! The second time was slightly more scary, I think I got a tail wind because I seemed to be going faster and when I hit the brake to slow me down I got quite a jerk. I also hit a dip in the middle that made my tummy go woozy. But what a rush! I'd totally do it again. The girls had a blast too.

The worst part for me was having to stand on the step ladder (LOL!) to get unhooked at the end - my knees were shaking! Which is silly. I go zooming down a cable no problem, stand on a 3 ft step ladder and feel like I'm going to fall.

Anyway here's some video! Have any of you tried it?




Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Please Welcome Farrah Rochon!


Well, this is the last RITA finalist post before we hit Nationals. Can you believe it's only a week away? Please give a big welcome to my sister finalist, FARRAH ROCHON! I'm really looking forward to meeting her in Anaheim!

When Donna extended the invitation to blog, my first instinct was to talk about football. Yes, football. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Facebook knows that I bring the word fanatic to an entirely new level when it comes to the sport. Furthermore, my RITA nominated book, I’ll Catch You, is the second in a series about a fictional football team. Gearing my post to action on the gridiron just seemed natural. But, unfortunately, football has become a very sore subject these past few months. You see, I’m a New Orleans Saints fan, and if any of you out there follows football even the tiniest bit, you already know that this off-season has been a very hard time for Saints fans.

Instead, I decided to blog about the subject that my fellow RITA Award nominees who have visited Donna’s blog all have in common: the RWA National Conference.

The first time I even learned there was such a thing as Romance Writers of America was back in 2001 when the organization held its annual meeting in New Orleans. There was an article in the local newspaper about some conference coming to town, and all I knew was that Julie Garwood--THE Julie Garwood--would be at a huge book signing that was open to the public. I had to be there!

I was in graduate school at the time, and remember skipping out on my final class of the day so I could make the hour-long drive to downtown New Orleans. I walked into the ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel and was completely overwhelmed by the sea of excited readers and writers.

I stood in line for the better part of an hour, patiently waiting for Ms. Garwood to sign my copy of The Bride (*insert wistful sigh*). I chatted with fellow romance lovers, learned there were more authors out there than Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood, and LaVyrle Spencer, and even bought tickets for a raffle basket.

As I was standing in yet another long line to pay for all the books I picked up, my ticket number was called, and I walked away with a basket donated by a Colorado-based chapter of RWA. I happened to hop on an elevator with two members of that chapter who told me they would see me next year at the conference in Denver. I secretly laughed, thinking Yeah, right! You see, at that time, I had no intention of ever writing a romance novel. I’d just started reading them, for crying out loud.

A year later, I attended my first RWA conference (yes, in Denver) after finishing my very first romance novel several months earlier. Fast forward ten years, to this year, when I will attend my tenth conference in Anaheim.  I guess the joke was on me.

Actually, it is almost comical to see just how much I’ve grown since that first conference in the Mile High City. I remember going back to my hotel to have lunch every day, because I had no idea that the luncheons were included in the price of admission. I also had no idea that publishers gave away free books! I bought a bunch from the amazingly wonderful Tattered Cover bookstore in downtown Denver and stalked my favorite authors in the hallway to get them to sign them. And the RITA Awards? I was back in my room, reading a book, completely oblivious to the fact that there were a couple thousand elegantly dressed romance writers enjoying the conference’s big finale.

I’ve gone from being that wet-behind-the-ears newbie, to a much more polished PRO Member, to wearing my pink First Sale ribbon in 2006. This year, I will have the honor of walking around the Anaheim Marriott with that lovely RITA pin on my badge.

I could never have fathomed back as that graduate student waiting in Julie Garwood’s line that Romance Writers of America and the RWA Conference would become such an integral part of my life. My closest friends are people I’ve met through RWA. My career (much to my father’s chagrin) has been made possible because of what I’ve learned about craft and the publishing industry through countless RWA workshops.  

The course of my life changed forever, and it all started at the RWA National Conference.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shopping

I went shopping on Wednesday, and I can honestly say that I have my wardrobe sorted for Nationals now. I got some major sales!

This kind of fits in with Fitness Friday because I now shop in the regular sized section and not the plus section. I'm not even the largest size most of the time, which means if something is made a bit small I might be able to find it in the larger size. Yay! While I haven't lost much this past year, I'm down a bit which puts me down 40 lbs since I started this journey a few  years ago.

One of the things I bought was another cocktail dress. I couldn't resist. It was $90 marked down to a stupendous $22, then another 30% off of that. FIFTEEN BUCKS. And it's pretty. And it fit. AND it was kid approved, and I do trust her teenage judgment.

Then it was off to the shoe section, where I got these.


I took it with my cell phone which is why it's not the best picture, but they are cute cute cute and just what I wanted to wear with my casual stuff at conference. And yes - 30% off. :-)

I've been thinking a lot about what body part I hate - my midsection. It's the last place to lose the weight and the one thing that makes spanx a necessity. I know I won't lose much more before I leave, but I think I can cut down on some of the puffiness, simply by cutting back (not out) on the amount of gluten and dairy I'm eating for the next while.

Speaking of...it's time to get some groceries in the house, and it's a great time of year for that - all kinds of seasonal fruits and vegetables!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

On my soapbox

It's been a while since I got up on a soapbox, but I've been up since 5:30 this morning, I'm off the codeine and feeling a little feisty.

I came across a discussion today about The Hunger Games. There was talk of it being slightly disturbing, parallels between it and stories like 1984, The Lottery and Lord of the Flies. Also a very sobering mention that in certain parts of the world, some people have to do crazy things just to survive and that this really isn't so very far us after all. Yes, yes, and yes.

I dig that. Even if someone thinks the books weren't particularly well-written - that's okay. That's their opinion. But what I got stuck on was the comment that someone hadn't read them because they were stupid and a waste of time.

I'll be honest and say that this is, in no way, personal. I really like the person who said that, actually, and I've known them for a long time. But I strongly disagree with that statement, and admitted that I'm particularly sensitive to that sentiment because I see it all too often.

How can you possibly judge something if you haven't read it?

How many times has the romance genre taken a beating from someone who calls the books fluff, anti-feminist, a waste of time, and other derogatory terms but then admits that they've never read one? How can you possibly form an opinion about something you know nothing about? And I'm sorry, but reading someone else's opinion doesn't count. That's just someone telling you what to think. 

Let me be transparent here and admit that I haven't read the latest "hot thing", which would be 50 Shades of Grey. I'm not particularly interested in reading it, actually. For one thing, erotica isn't really to my taste (you'll notice I don't call it Mommy Porn, a term that drives me insane), and I have close to 100 books on my shelf that ARE to my taste waiting to be read. I don't want to read it just because everyone else is. It does bug me on some level that these started out as Twilight fan fiction. I think I would go into it with Edward and Bella in my brain. Worse, I think I'd go into it with Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in my brain, and that makes me want to reach for the brain bleach. I would find it hard to separate the two. The majority of people out there don't realize that the books started as fanfic - at least the ones I've talked to. So for most people this probably wouldn't be an issue.

But I can't call these books stupid, a waste of time, or poorly written, because I haven't read them. I'm not qualified to offer that sort of judgment. Neither can I offer a judgment on whether or not they are abusive, denigrating to women or dangerous - all terms I've heard it relation to the stories. I can't say that because I haven't read any of them. In essence - I have no opinion. And I won't offer one until I know what I'm talking about.

It's one thing for someone to say "I don't read Romance because it's not to my taste; I much prefer mysteries/thrillers/scifi/biographies, etc." It's quite another thing to make a judgment statement dismissing an entire genre you've never deigned to read.

This doesn't just relate to reading material either. It's everywhere around us, in ways that scare me to death.

And I'll let you think about that one on your own.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Cough.

Sorry for the absence on the blog - truth be told I've been battling a rather nasty bug for the better part of two weeks, as well as trying to keep up with kids/housework/revisions. It started as a scratchy throat, worsened into the worst sore throat I've ever had + laryngitis, and now I'm down to a dry cough. Last night was only the second night I managed to get through without an hour-long coughing fit in the middle of the night, even with the codeine cough meds. Having close to a full eight hours was amazing!

This week you should pop on over to the Harlequin Romance Authors blog and have a gander at some shoes. We've posted peeks into our shoe closets and there's a great giveaway to be had as well.

I'm also over at Petticoats and Pistols today talking about the yummy food to be found at the fair and rodeo...seeing as this week is Stampede Week in Calgary and it gives me a hankering for Beef on a Bun...

In the meantime I'm carrying on with revising. The fam is busy this week which means a fair bit of quiet time for me - I'm hoping to get to the end by Friday! I've still got three scenes to add though, so it means I've got to keep my nose to the grindstone! Not to mention the forecast is fantastic and I am definitely going to take in some pool time!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Winner!

Tammy Y - you're the winner of Barbara Hannay's prize! She's left you contact info in the comments of her post, or you can e-mail me directly and I'll hook you up.

Congrats!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Around the World in July

It's a gorgeous summer day here, and after an appt this morning I'm guessing it's going to be pool o'clock. Since it's the first of the month, I thought I'd let you know about a few releases happening around the world.


For readers in the UK, THE REBEL RANCHER is out in the Mills and Boon Cherish line. It's available solo as an e-book, or in a 2-in-1 with Argentinian in the Outback by Margaret Way.







You can also grab THE REBEL RANCHER in Australia - and oh my gosh, how much do I love this cover????????? You can grab it in paperback or e-book.








HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER is out in Denmark this month! Check it out via the Harlequin Denmark site.








And finally, on July 15, HONEYMOON WITH THE RANCHER will be releasing in France in a 3-in-1.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Recipe: Easy Summer Dessert

Happy Canada Day! I've been offline quite a bit lately as I ended up with a bout of viral laryngitis, complete with horribly sore throat. I'm on the mend today and just in time as our neighbours are coming over for a holiday barbeque, swim in the pool, and fireworks.

The original plan was to bake a Strawberry Rhubarb pie for dessert, but it was so hot this morning I cringed at the thought of turning on the oven. So instead I made what I call Easy Summer Dessert. My grandmother gave me this recipe, although on my recipe card it says "Lemon Dessert". But it doesn't have to be lemon - you can mix flavours however you want. Here's what you do:

Prepare a graham crumb base and press into a 9x13 pan, or cheat and buy 2 prepared graham crusts. :-)

For the filling: 1 pkg cream cheese, 1 box instant pudding, 1 cup milk.

Mix the filling ingredients in a blender (or with beaters) and spread over graham base. Chill. Serve with whipped cream if you like (and who doesn't like?).

Now, in my Gram's recipe it called for instant lemon pudding. Which these days is hard to find, and a shame because I love lemon. So I bought vanilla, and to give it some jazz I'm going to layer on some fresh strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream. You can also use butterscotch or pistachio (the store didn't have pistachio, either, grrrr!).

If you like chocolate, then use oreo crumbs for the base and chocolate pudding in the filling. I nearly did this with Cookies 'n' Cream pudding but opted for the vanilla with berries instead.

What this ends up tasting like is a no-bake cheesecake, and it takes about 5 minutes to whip up. No oven, and really tasty on a hot day.

Now I'm off, because the pool is beckoning - along with a frosty pina colada!