Balance

The season of Lent is upon us. Although I grew up in a religious home, we did not recognize Lent and it wasn’t something I ever gave much thought to until last year when a friend gave up Facebook for Lent and it struck a chord in me. I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual and I do believe in God. And I’ve found that some of the traditions I spurned as a young person do and can have value if you approach them with the right perspective and attitude.

The purpose of Lent is to set aside a time for self-denial (fasting) and self-reflection. Two weeks ago I attended a writing workshop titled “Writing from Place and Identity” in which we explored how the places we’ve lived have influenced who we are today. It opened a floodgate of memories from my childhood and I’ve been writing consistently about my hometown, Clovis, New Mexico. For the 40 days of Lent, I am going to reflect on specific moments in my life that shaped me in one way or another. Those reflections may come out in poetry or personal essays or journaling, but each day I will focus on a different moment and how or why it changed me. Some of these may get posted down the line, but the purpose is not to create something worthy of sharing; it is to dismantle bits of myself to see how they fit together and how they can help me be a better me.

As for self-denial, I’ve been debating on what to give up. I rarely drink and I’ve been on a diet since December so those are out. We eat vegetarian meals half the time anyway so meat wouldn’t be a sacrifice. My hobbies are reading and writing, but those don’t seem like productive things to set aside. Television and movies are the things I share most often with my family so it would isolate me from them which is also unproductive. I could give up social media, but I don’t spend a ton of time online and I don’t obsessively check my accounts. Not to mention, I have truly meaningful friendships with people I’ve only met on Twitter or Facebook or people I only get to see online because of distance. Isolation from friendships. Again…unproductive.

But, I will be online less. I’ll be making time for phone calls with family and friends, for getting outdoors with my family, for daily meditation and prayer, and for self-reflection. I’ll be sacrificing a little me time for a little more balance.

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Determined

So it’s been awhile since I’ve written. A really long while. I haven’t posted a Friday Flash since May. That’s nine months. I can’t even believe it. I started participating in Friday Flash in 2010 and posted over thirty a year for three years. So why did I stop?

 

Well, it wasn’t just flash fiction, it was short stories and novels, too. I stopped writing. I succumbed to burn-out, depression, and exhaustion, and stopped writing.

 

But it was a good thing.

 

As empty as a part of me felt, the rest of me was replenished. For so long I’d used my writing as an escape. Every negative emotion-fear, rage, pain, sorrow, guilt-was funneled into notebook after notebook. I ran away from it in my real life and gave it to someone else in my stories. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Except that I’d used that escape from everything else to also lock myself away from my family.

 

For three years, I’d been in a desperate race to get something published. I pressured myself and stressed myself out and cried and wrote and rewrote and freaked out and it was ugly.  I was writing from a place of desperation, and that place doesn’t produce anywhere near the same quality of work as writing from a place of determination. I was choking on my own dream of publishing and I had to come up for air.

 

The last nine months have been spent realigning my priorities, focusing on my family, and advancing my career in my day job. I found my smile again. And now I’m ready to start writing again. I’m determined to get something published, but no desperate to do so. I’ll work on it with steady focus, but I won’t let myself lose sight of those around me, the ones that really matter. It will happen for me someday, and that’s fine by me. And even if it doesn’t, at least I won’t miss out on my family along the way.

 

PS – there will be a Friday Flash this week :)

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Unsilenced

So I had a mini-rant on Twitter (and by mini, I mean two tweets) about modern-day misogyny and the blatant disrespect of women as valuable, capable, successful human beings. What set it off was the backlash to Ann Aguierre’s post about sexism that she has personally endured in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Community. Now, the positive support of that post far exceeded the negative replies, but it set me off nonetheless. And my tweets were an over-reaction based on an ever-growing frustration/anger/hatred/disbelief/disgust of the fact that women are STILL being treated as second-class and other. This sometimes gets lost in the commentary on other types of prejudices—race, sexual orientation, religion—but it’s still very much alive and well today and it’s really pissing me off.

A beautiful friend talked me off the ledge of my rage by encouraging me not to “feed the troll” with my own anger. And she’s right. But I feel very strongly that I need to share my two cents for two main reasons:

#1 Because I am a woman who has dealt with sexism in my family, my church, my community, and my workplace. And it’s bullshit.

#2 Because I am a mother and I don’t want my daughter to see me sit silent in the face of so much shameful behavior. Because it’s bullshit.

After the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) backlash over the weekend, the replies to Ann Aguirre’s post that set me off were the proverbial last straw in a long string of recent stories about the mistreatment and degradation of women.

There were the politicians talking about rape like it was a minor hiccup in a woman’s life and that it could sometimes be a blessing! Having never been raped themselves, I’d say their view on the matter is pretty damn slim and, at best, ridiculous.

There were the stories of high school girls being sexually assaulted while passed out then bullied for coming forward—Stubenville, Audrie Pott, Rehtaeh Parsons, to name a few. Should a girl ever get drunk and pass out at a party? No. Does that give people the right to assault her? Never. Had the quarterback woken up bleeding from his backside after being gang raped and videotaped by his teammates, this would have been a very different story. But that would never actually happen would it? But that would never happen would it?

Then the sexual assaults and cover-ups in the U.S. Military came to light. Then Pat Robertson blames women for their partners’ infidelity. And let’s not forget the geniuses at Fox News who blame female breadwinners for the deterioration of the American family.

And those are the publicized stories. A good friend of mine knows a middle-grade girl who was chased down and threatened with rape by boys her age. Where the hell did they learn to use that against a girl? But it’s not just the boys. My own middle-school daughter watched another girl get labeled as a slut in the span of two class periods for getting caught kissing her boyfriend in the bathroom. The kissing story soon became a blow job, which became full-on sex on the sink. It was the girls in the school calling her names and spreading the story like wildfire. The boy didn’t start it, but he sure as hell didn’t deny it. My daughter, who doesn’t even like the girl in question, almost went to blows in class defending her because she knew the truth and knew others were spreading lies. But the damage is done. They go to high school next year and there will be girls who will use that as ammo against that girl anytime she pisses them off. And there will be boys who would have heard only half-truths about that day and think she’s easy. Should she have been making out in the bathroom at school? Hell no. Does that make her a slut and a target for sexual harassment or worse? Fuck no. And another of my daughter’s friends had an anonymous person open an Instagram account called “Jane is a Slut” (I’m using “Jane” to protect the girl’s real name). The account began stalking “Jane” on Instagram and Facebook, commenting on all of her posts and pictures, harassing her daily until her mom found out and reported the anonymous account and made her daughter delete her Facebook. My daughter and her friends believe it’s another girl in their class who started this over an argument between she and “Jane” (and no it wasn’t boy related). But it doesn’t matter. Women are vicious to women, too. And it’s not okay.

On the heels of all of that was the SFWA and Ann Aguirre debacles. And I’d had enough.

Was ranting and name calling on Twitter the best way to handle that? No. It’s important for us to stand up against sexism, but it’s equally important that we do it the right way. Just this morning I received an email from a blog I follow. It’s featuring a new adult book about a female college student who starts a website for girls to rate the sexual ability of the guys they’ve dated on campus. I’m all about equality and I believe women shouldn’t be judged by what they do in the bedroom any more than a man should be. But if this was a book or movie about a guy with a website that ranks girls, there would be outrage. The sexual revolution was about owning our own bodies and our sexuality. It was about gaining the power to be respected as equals, not gaining the power to push others down. I’m sure the book in question has a great life lesson in there, but it’s not something I can or feel I should support. It sends the wrong message. Just like my tweets did.

Misogyny, propagated by men or women, is intolerable. A woman doesn’t have to be either the virgin or the whore. There’s a whole lot of grey area between those two descriptions, but people still lump women into one or the other. We can be beautiful and smart. We can be sexy and tough. We can love the color pink and be rocket scientists.

I personally know several women, myself included, who have been raped or molested by a friend or family member. It is not a joke. It is not a game. It is not a political debate. Just because a woman has boobs, or accentuates her curves, or is flirtatious, or drinks too much, it does not make it okay to harass, stalk, or touch her without permission. She is not asking for it. Just like a gay man walking out of a gay bar isn’t asking to be beaten by homophobic assholes. Just like a black kid walking down the street in a hoodie isn’t asking to be shot by racist assholes.

There’s not all bad news. Ann Aguirre has had an outpouring of support from both male and female writers and readers. The SFWA President and staff have committed to overhauling their publication and making the forums a safe place for all members (and I believe they’ll try). A recent study showed women are FINALLY earning equal pay to men in any many job markets (still, it’s sad that in the 50 years since the Equal Pay Act was signed by JFK, we are still only equal in some markets, not all).  Regardless of salaries or job titles, there is still sexism in every industry across the board, including publishing. We’ve come a long way, but it’s sad that we even have to use that phrase because we still have such a long way to go. And the more issues we bring to light, the more times we stand up and say, “No,” the more pressure it puts on everyone else to change the status quo.

The “weaker sex” has a powerful voice. And we will not be silenced.

 

Edited at 2pm 6/4/13

And I just found this nugget about sexism and misogyny in comedy in my Twitter feed. Thank you Lindy West for NOT shutting the fuck up.

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Finding Cupid’s Arrows Blog Hop

Finding Cupid’s Arrows Bloghop

It’s Valentine’s Day and what better way to celebrate my Cupid’s Conquest novella than with a giveaway! A few Evernight Publishing authors (including my fellow Cupid’s Conquests authors) have joined forces to bring you the Finding Cupid’s Arrows Blog Hop. There are some pretty awesome prizes involved, but first…a little about Valentine’s Day…

I was never a big Valentine’s Day kind of girl. I’m a romantic at heart, but I prefer spontaneous romanticism over forced romanticism. Fortunately, I have an incredible man who understands this completely. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not still a giant girly girl at heart. My first year working at a bank, the entire week of Valentine’s Day my coworkers were receiving giant bouquets and chocolates and bears and what have you. And, I admit, I was a little jealous. But when I got home that night there was a single rose in a vase with a tiny handwritten card from Carlos. Which I still have. And it still makes me a little teary to read. Love truly is about the little things.

Then, a few years ago, he surprised me with a trip to Catalina for the day. We had an ocean-view lunch, walked on the beach, raced around the island in a golf cart, and watched about fifteen couples get married under the gazebo. (It was like a carnival, “Step right up and get your Valentine’s Day Wedding here!”) We had so much fun and I’ll never forget that Valentine’s Day. But I’ll also never forget the handwritten card, either. So I’ll take the little things most days and the big gesture once a decade. I think that’s a fair trade.

Carlos & Danielle Catalina 2009

And now for the prizes! To enter to win a copy of my novella, One Last Shot, all you have to do is leave a comment below.

And there are two Rafflecopter’s listed below to enter to win either an incredibly cool Arrow Lariat or a $25.00 (USD) gift card to Evernight Publishing. You can enter both drawings, but can only win one. (contest ends at midnight, February 15, 2013)

Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs for more fabulous prizes:

Angela Addams
Seleste de Laney
Lola Drake
Ella Grey
Kathleen Grieve

Arrow Lariat

Arrow Lariat

Arrow Lariat Giveaway
a Rafflecopter giveaway

$25(USD) Evernight Publishing Gift Card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Born of Hatred by Steve McHugh

Today I’d like to welcome my fellow Rebel, critique partner, and friend, Steve McHugh, to the blog to help celebrate the release of his second novel, Born of Hatred. Steve’s had amazing success with his first novel, Crimes Against Magic, which he self-published April 2012. Born of Hatred is the second novel in his Hellequin Chronicles series. The novels feature Nate Garrett, a centuries-old sorcerer, who I fell in love with when I beta-read Crimes Against Magic. He’s a gentleman, a warrior, a scholar, and a loyal friend. His flaws make him relatable and his powers make him enviable. It’s an action-packed series with plenty of heart. If you haven’t read Steve’s novels, you’re missing out on a great series.

Steve was nice enough to answer a few questions for me and then I’ve got a prize for one commenter:

Danni: Like so many of us, you have a busy life with work, an amazing wife and three beautiful little girls. How much time are you able to dedicate to writing/editing/promoting a week?

Steve: My wife and kids are amazing, and for the most part pretty understanding of my having to write.

I tend to write every day when the girls have gone to bed. So I get an hour or 2. And then I spend some of the weekend writing too. I can do about a 1000 words an hour, so I can get a fair bit done. Unfortunately, my editing has to cut into the writing time, which has caused me a few frustrations in the past.

As for promoting? I can do that anywhere on my iPad. It’s come in very handy for things like that.

Danni: Promoting is the hardest. The creating comes so much easier than the selling.

This is the second book you’ve self-published. Did you find the process easier this time? Formatting, cover art, promotion, etc?

Steve: Pretty much, yeah. Certainly in the case of formatting and the like, I knew how to get what I wanted. Cover Art wasn’t an issue. I tell Eamon what I want, and he goes away and does it. Promotion is always tricky putting the time in between getting the book ready and doing some publicity for it is never a fun juggling experience. And I’m not sure promoting myself is a natural experience for me.

Danni: With the excellent sales and praise you received for Crimes Against Magic, were you more or less nervous about launching Born of Hatred? Did you feel any pressure to live up to readers’ expectations?

Steve: Oh, I was bricking it. The launch of CAM was nervy because everything was new to me. I had no idea what I was doing. But with BoH ‘s launch people who had read the first had an expectation. That was more pressure than just jumping into the unknown.

Danni: I can imagine. I get nervous posting a flash on my blog, I can only image launching your first and second novels.

Because you’ve spent so much time in Nate’s head, did you find it easier to write the second book? Or because you were tackling a whole new time period (and new country) did you find it more difficult?

Steve: Nate’s been in my head for years, so it’s fairly easy to just switch him on and start writing. The hardest character was Kasey, who’s an 11-year-old girl. For a while, I was either making her sound too young or too old. But I think I got it right in the end.

The new country and time period were difficult as there was a lot of research into what was going on at the time. But I like research, so I wasn’t too fussed.

The hardest thing is to make sure that the flashbacks aren’t jarring; that they still flow nicely without confusing the reader. It takes a lot of work to get it to that place.

Danni: Well, you know me and flashbacks. ;) They can be a tricky thing to blend in for sure, but you always keep the story progressing forward and that’s the key to keeping readers’ interest.

Nate definitely seems to come naturally to you. You said you’ve had him in your head for years. How long did it take you to create Nate’s world? Is it something that had been rolling around your head for years or something that came to suddenly and fleshed itself out as you wrote?

Steve: It’s been in my head in one way or another for the best part of a decade. Nate sort of formed from that. I quite like having ideas that ferment, and swirl around in my head for a while. The world is pretty much set up now though, although there are still new species that pop up from time to time. Which is actually very cool.

Danni: Ooh! New species. I can’t wait to see what else you have coming at Nate in the future. On your blog you mention Book 3, With Silent Screams. Where are you at in the writing process for this next novel? And are there any hints you give us about where it might take Nate next?

Steve: I’m on chapter 3 for about the 8th time. I just wasn’t happy with how it started, so it’s taken a while to get into the flow of things. I’m hoping to have it readable for my crit partners by Feb/March.

The third book takes place in North America, Wisconsin and Ontario to be precise. The flashbacks also take place in the same area, but in the late 1970s.

It’s also going to introduce a few more famous faces from mythology, which I’m quite looking forward to.

Danni: And that’s not all you have coming. You also mention some upcoming short stories featuring Nate. Free reads are a bonus for any reader, so thanks for that! In addition to publishing them on your blog, do you have any intention of offering them for download on ereaders?

Steve: The idea is that I’ll write them and put them up on my blog and then when I get 7 or 8, I’ll put them into a book and publish it. I know, best laid plans and all that, but for the moment that’s where it’s headed.

The first one will be set in Milan in 1709 and the second will be from the PoV of one of the other characters in Born of Hatred. I just need to find a few more hours in the day to write them both.

Danni: Okay, enough business, on to the fun stuff! Nate has some pretty awesome powers. If you could have any super power (not necessarily one of Nate’s) what would it be?

Steve: Control over the weather. If I want rain, it rains, if I’m cold, I just make it hot out. And it could snow when I wanted it to.

Danni: One of my favorite series is The Weather Wardens by Rachel Caine and they do some pretty freaking cool things with their weather powers. But let’s forget having one power for now, if you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

Steve: Spider-man. He’s the greatest superhero of all time. I think that would be a pretty cool way of spending my time.

Danni: Although I know Ian would agree with you whole-heartedly, I have to disagree. Batman rules. But you got to feel like a superhero a few times since Crimes Against Magic came out. What was it like running into someone who had read your book?

Steve: It happened when I was at the pub for a friend’s birthday and someone there asked how the first book was going. I was talking to her about it, when someone next to me said:

“Are you Steve McHugh?”

I said I was.

“The same one who wrote Crimes Against Magic?”

“Yeah.”

“I loved that book, I just finished reading it.”

It was an awesome feeling. I’d like it to happen a lot more now.

Danni: I think that’s something every writer would love to happen to them one day. So, while everyone else has been busy reading your books, what have you been busy reading lately?

Steve: The last three I read were:

Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding. Which is a sort of Steampunk, Firefly-esque pirate story. It’s a lot of fun.

Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb. I don’t know why it took me so long to read this, but I’m glad I did. It’s excellent in every way.

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. Jim’s sort of the man when it comes to Urban Fantasy and I’ve been a fan for a long time so I thought I’d best re-read his last book before getting hold of Cold Days.

Thank you so much for stopping by, Steve! And as a special thank you to all of you for stopping by, I am giving away one e-copy of either Crimes Against Magic or Born of Hatred. All you have to do is leave a comment with the last book you read that you would highly recommend. We’re all here because we love books. So you share your recommendations with us and I’ll share a book with one of you. (contest is open internationally and closes midnight PST, January 9, 2013)

There was a time when Nathan Garrett was feared. When the mention of his name was enough to stop his enemies in their tracks. That time has long since passed.

When Nathan’s friend asks for help investigating a pattern of horrific crimes, he reluctantly agrees. But his investigation leads to a serial killer who is something more, or less, than human, a creature of pure malevolence and hatred.

There are some things that even a 1600-year-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge. But when evil targets those Nathan cares about, his enemies will discover exactly who Nathan used to be. And why they will learn to fear him once more.

Born of Hatred is an action-packed, Urban Fantasy set in modern-day England with historical flashbacks to late nineteenth century Montana. It’s the second book of the Hellequin Chronicles, following the widely praised Crimes Against Magic, which introduced sorcerer Nathan Garrett.

Purchase from:

Kindle

Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com

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Best Reads 2012

Well, it’s that time of year again; time to recap (dissect) my reading habits of the last year and see how they stack up to last year. My goal was 52 books and I hit 56, so I’m pretty pleased about that. Especially considering the last two months have tanked in the reading department.

So, first the recap, then my favorites:

26 Urban Fantasy (down from 27 last year—I assume this means I’m broadening my horizons.)
24 Reviewed on Goodreads (up from 18 last year—It’s been my goal to offer more reviews, especially on books I really enjoyed. It’s good for the authors and it’s good for my friends. )
23 New (to me) Authors (up from 18 last year—I’m particularly proud of this one because in years past I stuck pretty close to authors I was familiar with. 18 was great last year, but almost half of the books I read this year were by someone I’d never read before. That makes me pretty damn happy.)
19 Ebooks (up from 13 last year—I thought this number would have been much higher this year considering I only had my Kindle for about 7 months last year. But, due to my ever dwindling shelf space, I expect this number to rise significantly next year.)
18 YA Novels (up from 14 last year—partly because of novels shared with Monster and partly because I’ve been writing YA this year)
14 Rereads (down from 16 last year—I LOVE rereading books and there are some that I read every year, or just skim through my favorite parts, but I’m glad to see I spent more time on new books this year.)
11 Shared with Monster (down from 12 last year—I’m still proud that Monster and I read 11 of the same novels this year, but I was a little surprised when I first saw that this number was lower than last year’s. I think more than anything it has to do with our varying tastes in fiction. Monster read close to 40 books this year and I’m thrilled that we shared so many…and damn proud to have a kid who loves to read so much.)
8 Small Publishers/Self-published Books (down from 14 last year—I’m really surprised about this one as well and I’m going to seek out more of these in the coming year.)
3 Classics (same as last year—This year I read Jane Eyre and The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the first time, and of course re-read Pride and Prejudice. This is a trend I hope to keep up in the new year as well, reading classics and re-reading Pride and Prejudice.)
2 Non-Fiction (up from 1 last year—I’m not a big fan of non-fiction, but I read one memoir and one book on craft. If anything, I hope to increase the books on craft I read in 2013.)

So that’s the round-up! Now on to the fun stuff….

Here are my favorites of 2012. There is a wide variety of genres and authors represented and I’ve picked each of them for very different reasons. They’re listed in the order I read them, not necessarily in the order I love them. That would be too hard. Five of these are new-to-me authors and two are book club picks.

A Sliver of Shadow by Allison Pang: This is the second Abby Sinclair novel (A Brush of Darkness was on my favorites list last year). This time most of Abby’s adventure takes place in FAIRY. And I have to say, keeping me interested in a non-human world is a major feat. I love Urban Fantasy, but what I love about it is that it takes place in my world, in my time, with a twist. I’m not a fan of historical time periods, alternate universes or books set in space. But this book has such a loveable cast of characters, a vivid world, and a fantastic plot, I couldn’t put the damn thing down. It’s sexy, funny, enchanting, and full of twists. I can’t wait to read the third installment, A Trace of Moonlight, which is on its way to my door as I type.

Croak by Gina Damico: Damico is not only a new author to me, this is her debut novel and it was so freaking good. It was fresh, hilarious, and adventurous with just enough emotion to keep it grounded. The sarcasm is witty, not snarky, and that’s a big thing for me, especially in YA right now. There’s a fine line between making your characters smart-asses and making them completely unlikable. These characters are fun to read, the narration is smooth and entertaining. It is truly an enjoyable read. And it’s got the best book trailer ever. I don’t like book trailers…at all, but this one is so perfect for this book, I can’t not share it with you: Croak Trailer. Oh, and this made Monster’s list of best books this year, too.

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson: I was on a road-trip-books kick when I picked this one up at the library. It’s a great read, with a truly epic adventure that covers everything from death/loss, self-discovery, heartbreak, and, of course, falling in love. But what makes this book truly amazing is the formatting. Not only is it a narration, it’s a scrapbook of their cross-country journey. It’s not written in diary format, but there are pages with receipts from In-N-Out or gas stations and postcards from the little places they stop along the way. The first scrapbook page I came across, I thought, “oh, that’s kind of cool,” but as the novel progressed, what’s purchased at each stop and the souvenirs they pick up become a huge part of the story and I found myself looking forward to the next sneak peek at the scrapbook. So this one landed on the list as much for the story as it did for the unique formatting.

Ghost Story by Peter Straub: This was a book club pick and my first time reading Straub. The story starts slowly, but by the middle of the book I was so sucked in, I stayed up hours at night reading it. It’s one of only three novels that have ever given me nightmares. I literally got goosebumps while reading a few scenes. I can’t remember that ever happening before. The publishing industry is all about starting in the middle of the action these days, but the quiet pace at the beginning of this book is what makes it so fantastic. Straub doesn’t just drop the reader in the middle of a haunted forest, he takes you across the meadow and strolls with you between the trees while leading you deeper and deeper into the woods until you’re surrounded by nothing but shadows and ghosts with no way out. The build-up is what makes the payoff so great.

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong: It’s no secret that Kelley is one of my favorite writers. Her books (especially Bitten) are ones that I reread…a lot. Thirteen is the grand finale to her Women of the Otherworld series. She will have future novellas, but she’s moving on to a new series and new characters, so this was the big wrap to the Otherworld, and she did it so beautifully I had to add it to my list this year. She opens the novel by giving the readers the first chapter of the first book in the series, Bitten, as a reminder of where it all started. Those who read Kelley know that she changes her narrators up throughout the series and it was so perfect that she allowed each of those narrators to come back in this novel and narrate a chapter (or two) of their own. I could gush about the characters and the plot threads she tied up and the ones she left hanging for future adventures, but unless you’ve read the series it will mean nothing to you. I’m just so glad she decided to end it while the fans still love the series. There are several authors I’ve stopped reading because their series became stale and that’s certainly not the case here. Kelley ended it on a high note and she gets major kudos for that.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: Joyce is another debut author (and another book club pick). This is truly one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Harold’s journey was so touching and the writing was so crisp that I couldn’t help but fall in love with this book. There were times I actually slowed down while reading so I could savor each word. That’s a rare thing for me. It’s definitely one I’ll reread in the coming year.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: Good God, I don’t know why the hell I waited so long to read this book. This year I’ve been introducing Monster to some of my favorite movies and The Outsiders was one of them. She instantly fell in love with it and begged for (demanded) the book, which she read twice before I read it once. It’s a short read, but there is not a wasted word or scene or character in this story. This is truly a timeless novel and it tops both my and Monster’s top reads this year.

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Mistletoe Madness Winner 2012

WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!

I’m blown away by the number of comments on the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop 2012 and want to thank you all of you for taking the time to stop by and share your favorite part of the holiday season. I was thrilled to see how many other bakers there are out there. In the month of December, I baked 31 dozen cookies (6 different varieties), 4 loaves of banana bread, 2 loaves of beer bread, 1 loaf of pumpkin bread, and one carrot cake…all from scratch! I loved it, but my oven is tired.

As promised, one very lucky commenter is the winner of BOTH my novella, “One Last Shot”, and the winner’s choice of any other Cupid’s Conquest title.

According to the lovely bots at Random.org our winner is…….

Carol L!!!!

Please email your choice of books and ereader type to me at DanielleLaPaglia (at) yahoo (dot) com.

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Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop 2012

Happy Holidays one and all!

The Christmas Season is filled with crazy shoppers, crazy drivers, and crazy office parties. But in all the madness, my favorite moments are the ones I share with friends and family, giving them something from the heart and seeing them smile. I spent all week baking like a mad woman, but delivering cookie goodness to the ones I love was worth braving the grocery store for one more carton of eggs or one more package of walnuts. Giving truly is better than receiving (of course, as the baker, I do get to test every batch ;) ).

So in the name of holiday madness and in the season of giving, I’m joining with dozens of other authors to bring you the Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop 2012. This year I’m giving away a copy of my novella, “One Last Shot“, AND a copy of one other Cupid’s Conquest novella (winner’s choice – ebooks only, international okay: Contest ends midnight PST December 21, 2012)

All you have to do to enter is a leave a comment below telling me what your favorite part of the holiday season is. Mine is, obviously, baking…and sharing. :)

AND don’t forget to stop by the Contest Page to enter to win the Grand Prize, A KINDLE FIRE!

For a complete list of all participating blogs, click here—> http://www.inlinkz.com/wpview.php?id=211362

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We Have A Winner!

Thank you to everyone for stopping by to check out my new digs and my new novella. The Monster was kind enough to draw a name from the entries and I’m pleased to announce WE HAVE A WINNER!

The deliciously dark and truly talented Anne Michaud has won a free copy of “One Last Shot.”

Congrats, Anne! Let me know what version you’d like it in and I will get it out ASAP.

In the meantime, there is still one more chance to win a copy…

Check out my interview on the Romance Author Hotspot Halloween Bash. All commentors are entered to win prizes including the grand prize of a $50.00 Gift Card to Barnes and Nobles. Contest open through November 7, 2012.

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One Last Shot

First, I want to welcome you all to my new website!

Don’t worry, the flash fiction blog is still alive and well and not going anywhere. This is just a place for me to talk about writing and promote the stuff I’ve got out there.

Speaking of which….

I’m published!

I’m ecstatic to bring you my first novella from Evernight Publishing. It’s part of their Cupid’s Conquests line which was developed by my friend and critique partner, the Rebel Queen herself, Ms. Seleste deLaney. I’m so proud to be included in this series with some great authors and some awesomely sexy stories.

To celebrate the release of One Last Shot, I’m giving away one free copy (ebook only). Since this story is about two characters giving their first loves One Last Shot, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post telling us a little about your first kiss or first crush. The contest will stay open for until midnight on Sunday, November 4, 2012 (PST).

And to be fair, I’ll share my own story. My first kiss was when I was five years old. There was a boy in our church named Wesley (like The Princess Bride!). We were great friends and I even stayed the night at his house a time or two. One day we decided to see what this whole kissing thing was about so we took a walk behind the bushes and he gave me my first kiss. It was short and sweet and I’m pretty sure I took off running afterwards.

So that’s it, leave a comment and you’re in the running to win this:

High school sweethearts, Justin and Shelby, were destined to be together forever. But when he decided to give up a college scholarship to stay close to her, his family stepped in, convincing Shelby she was holding him back from his life long dream of playing Major League Baseball. She took her guilt and ran, and he never knew why.

Ten years later, they find themselves back in the small Texas town they grew up in. Shelby’s come home to run the bar she inherited from her dad and Justin is looking for a safe haven after a career ending injury. With years of buried hurt and regrets, and the secret of his family’s betrayal hanging between them, is Cupid’s arrow enough to help them reignite the passion of first love?

Cupid may have missed in the first round, but he’s willing to give this true love one last shot.

Available Now:

Evernight Publishing

Amazon

Amazon UK

Find the entire Cupid’s Conquests series available from Evernight Publishing

And check out my interview on the Romance Author Hotspot Halloween Bash. All commentors are entered to win prizes including the grand prize of a $50.00 Gift Card to Barnes and Nobles.

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