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!


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.

Stocking the Kindle

I’m way behind in my goal to read 52 books this year. Back in the day, I’d read three times that number. (Oh to have that pre-offspring time back again.)

In a couple of weeks, I’m hitting the road with my mother-in-law’s ancient, but serviceable, trailer for our first-ever family camping trip. (Yes I know purists say camping=tenting. I say tenting=dirt.) I plan to curl up on the roomy sofa in the old rig and catch up on my quota.

So I’ve been stocking up my Kindle. Here are my latest additions:

CRAZY PEOPLEThe stories in this collection were the impetus for bestseller Jennifer Crusie’s novel Crazy For You (2000). I loved Crusie’s earliest romances best, so I can’t wait to read this.

Writers will also be interested in the appendices. In A, Crusie shares how 26 sentences become a full short story. B is a 50% shorter version of one of the stories that ran in Redbook Magazine. C and D show the proposal version of Chapter One that St. Martin’s bought the book on and the version that made it into print.

Sure to be a good writing lesson as well as a good read.

I also picked up two freebies this month* that I’m excited to read.

TRIAL JUNKIESTrial Junkies is a mystery/thriller by Robert Gregory Browne, a writer who first hit my radar via the Murderati author blog. This is his first foray into self-publishing after five thrillers with publishers like Dutton and St. Martin’s.

The Bro-Magnet (A Nice Guy Romance) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted is one I read some buzz about online and decided to try. The premise sounds fun. Baratz-Logsted is another author venturing into self-publishing after 22 books on the traditional path.

I also paid $18.13 for The Measure of A Man. A literary novel! I felt strong-armed. It’s too much. (I hardly ever bought hardcovers either.) But it’s my book club’s selection and the wait for this Governor General Award nominee at the library is lengthy. Hope it’s worth it. The first chapter excerpt won me over against my will.

What’s new on your e-reader or bookshelf?

* I feel vaguely guilty for downloading freebies. The truth is, I think I’m spending less on books since getting my Kindle. Which is good in one way, but not so good from my perspective as a writer. I enjoy supporting authors. Do you find all the freebies are making you spend less on books, too?

RIP Maurice Sendak

Beloved children’s author/illustrator Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are et al, died today at the age of 83.

Sendak was one of the first children’s authors of his time to tap into the darker elements of children’s imaginations and to portray children who weren’t sweetness and light all of the time. My kids love his stories. RIP Mr. Sendak.

You can read Sendak’s full obituary in the New York Times.

This sketch is a self-potrait by Sendak.

Inspiring words from author Chuck Wendig

Today’s kick in the ass is brought to you by popular blogger and “penmonkey” Chuck Wendig, who is celebrating the debut of his novel Blackbirds this week.

Another can’t-miss for my towering to-be-read list. The premise is right up my alley, and I’m eager to see how Chuck’s vigorous voice from his Terrible Minds blog translates in novel form.

If you haven’t yet explored the goldmine of writing advice and insight into the writing life that is Chuck’s blog, go there and do that now.

A River Runs Through It

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.”

― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It

A quickie: PayPal backs down on erotica censorship

Power to the people! It’s truly amazing to watch, and be part of, the effect social media can have on corporate policy.

In the wake of the furor over its big brother tactics, PayPal is backing down on its attempted censorship of erotic fiction.

Read the good news here and more at Smashwords.

For more on PayPal’s clarified terms of service, click here.

Thanks to all the bloggers, writers, and anti-censorship groups who joined the battle against PayPal. Huzzah’s all around!

But the war is not yet won, judging by the comments on PayPal’s blog. Many feel PayPal hasn’t retreated far enough.

What’s your view?