Cowboys and babies and SO much more

Image.ashxI’m thrilled to be able to say I read a great book today: Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek.

I’m thrilled to say this on a couple levels. Reading a great book is always a thrill, but Roxanne is also a friend of mine. We “met” via an online voice  course taught by the amazing Barbara Samuel and then hooked up in person at the Surrey International Writers Conference a couple years running. Roxanne even did some (excellent) work for my copywriting business.

Naturally, I was happy and excited for her when I heard she’d signed a two-book deal with Entangled Publishing. I promised to read and review her book when it released last fall.

Only I didn’t.

Life happened. Work and family obligations. I read a grand total of three book between September and December. Shameful I know. All were choices for my book club. I felt terrible for not supporting my friend. And you know how it goes. The more time goes by, the more sheepish you feel. The harder it is to get in touch.

Come the New Year and I finally got my reading groove back on. A two week holiday in Mexico helped enormously. I didn’t dive into Three River Ranch, first I confess. I was still feeling guilty, and now, after all this time what if I didn’t like it? TRR was getting smashing reviews on Amazon and Roxanne really didn’t really need me. And to be honest, short form contemporary romance isn’t really my thing.

So I read a couple big, meaty historicals– my usual metier, along with thrillers. Poked into a couple of post-apoc novels because I’ve had an idea of my own in that genre nagging at me and wanted to see what’s been done.

But today I was ready for something new, and there was Three River Ranch on my Kindle.

I started this morning and couldn’t stop until I was done. I’m VERY sorry I waited so long to read it.

This is a terrific book. Roxanne took familiar romance tropes–the cowboy romance and the marriage of convenience–and turned them on their ear.The writing was tight with some wonderful turns of phrase and laugh-out-loud moments. The developing relationship between the two, strong main characters is totally believable as are the obstacles between them.

I was so happy to be able to post an honest four star review for it here .

Even more delighted to see a follow-up book is out now, His Reluctant Rancher.

I won’t wait so long this time to read it!


“Watch this” Wednesday: Gay Talese

Have you seen the New Yorker’s wonderful profile of journalist Gay Talese and his “underground think tank?” I loved hearing about his writing process and seeing how he collects and collages the memories of a lifetime.

Friday Five

Five random things that helped make this a good week . . .

Jordan DaneAuthor Jordan Dane posted yesterday at The Kill Zone authors blog on five key ways to make your  characters memorable. It came at the perfect time for me (or the girls in the basement, at least) as I struggle with a flat opening to my latest WIP (a revision of last year’s Nanowrimo novel). The comments are just as valuable as her post, and she was kind enough to follow-up with more advice on Twitter. That’s some good author karma there, and you know she just made my TBR pile.

I watched this and laughed my ass off:

I love P!nk and I love you, Mr. Hart. Here’s to another 24 years!

Grooms see their brides for the first time...hanky required. (Photo Album - Imgur)And then I saw this photo album of grooms (thanks to a Twitter-tip from author Barbara O’Neal) at the first moment they see their brides. Awwww. That’s enough to crack even my hard shell. I think I’ll make Mr. Hart something that doesn’t come out of a box tonight in honor of our anniversary two weeks ago.

Reached new levels of cooperation with the wonderful Ms. G who teaches my equally wonderful six-year-old son, who has Asperger’s syndrome. Nice to have an ally in the endless battles with the school bureaucrats and policy-makers who grow further out of touch every day with the needs of kids and those trying to teach them.

One or two . . .  or three . . .  of these are in my near future. Tonight, after the little demons ones are nestled snug in their beds,  it’ll be me in my basement office, marg in hand, spilling ink and having fun. Ah, the zany life of a writer.

TGIF, my friends.

“Watch this” Wednesday: Kelly Clarkson slays No Doubt classic

Okay, so I know it’s really lame to ignore the blog for a month and then come back with a post that has nothing to do with writing. But you won’t be able to stay mad at me if you watch this video all the way to the end.

Watch Idol-winner Kelly Clarkson totally slay No Doubt’s classic breakup anthem “Don’t Speak”. She starts off kind of slow and, amazing as she is, I wasn’t sure she could outdo Gwen on this one, but holy cow she nails it in the last minute. Girl can sing her ass off!

Kelly is doing fan requests sent via Twitter on all the stops on her current tour. Watch some of her other covers here. And if that’s not enough for you, watch my other favorite Kelly cover of Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain” (accompanied by Jeff Beck):

PS: I was listening to this while working on a revision of my NaNo novel–so it’ s kinda writing related.

Bad-ass ninjas can save your town

I curl up every night with picture books and early reader tales, thanks to the offspring. But I’m one of the seemingly tiny minority of people on the planet who hasn’t been swept up in the YA fiction craze. Never read the Twilight saga or Hunger Games or . . . even (gasp) past the first 50 pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Author Amy KingA few YA titles have made it to my TBR pile, mostly after being recommended by other writers I admire, but until today I confess I’d never heard of A.S. King.

You must go and read her guest post at Writer Unboxed. It’ll only take a few minutes and will put a big smile on your face. You won’t believe me when you see the headline. Another indie bookstore post… yawn, right?

Wrong. Amy King is funny, engaging, and has a ton of wisdom to share about bad-ass ninjas saving your town, why indie bookstores are all about Power to the People, and why you should never pass a solo greens purveyor in Ireland to buy Spanish iceberg lettuce at the big box grocery. (You’ll have to watch the video to find out why that’s funny.)

After reading a string of e-books, I’ve been longing to hold a real book in my hand again. King’s book Please Ignore Vera Dietz will be just the ticket.

I’ll look for it at Pulp Fiction, my local indie bookstore/bad-ass ninja lair. If you’re also in BC and looking for an independent bookseller in your community, check this great list from The Tyee.

“Watch this” Wednesday: author Dan Wells on story structure

This week’s “watch this” is part one in an engaging five-part series on story structure by horror novelist Dan Wells.

Dan is one of the talented quartet behind the brilliant podcast Writing Excuses, which also features Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal and Howard Tayler.

Bonus:  Brandon Sanderson has posted the complete video footage of his 2012 creative writing class at Brigham Young University online. Check it out.

How to use your iPad to get unstuck

Today’s post is via the amazing Daphne Gray-Grant (aka The Publication Coach).

Sorry to mention this to my readers who don’t have iPads, but here’s a fabulous free app if you do. It’s called Unstuck. It’s easy to use if you have a problem (a “stuck moment”) and it gives you a positive way of reframing the trouble.

Once you’ve registered (at no charge) here’s how it works . . .

Read the rest of this post on Daphne’s blog. Linger awhile–you’ll find lots of other terrific tips there.