A to Z of Authors

2011bookstoreadApril is the A to Z Challenge … for those who dare.

I don’t dare, LOL.

Instead, I’ll share an A to Z list of authors!

  • Ann Mayburn
  • Angela Brown
  • Ciara Knight
  • Diana Castle
  • Eve Berlin/Eden Bradley
  • Liz Fichera
  • Stacy Green
  • Heather Blackwood
  • Larissa Ione
  • Joely Sue Burkhart
  • Kelly Jamieson
  • Lindsay Buroker
  • Melanie Macek
  • Kait Nolan
  • Olga Bicos
  • Kate Poole
  • Susan Kaye Quinn *
  • Jodi Redford
  • Sloan Parker
  • Tracy Cooper-Posey
  • Ursula Sinclair *
  • Viola Rivard *
  • Angela Wallace
  • Xondra Day
  • Samantha Young *
  • Maria Zannini

* I haven’t actually read these authors…yet.

How many of these authors have you read?

Have you done an A to Z reading challenge?

That’s a Wrap

ROW80LogoFor Round 4 of 2013…well, this week it is. Since I’m taking Tuesday and Thursday off for the holiday this will be my wrap-up post.

Writing/Editing:

  • Morning Pages for a minimum of 250 words or half hour, whichever comes first, 6 days per week. ~ Nope.
  • Fiction, at least an hour each week. It can be brainstorming, plotting, writing, or editing. ~ Nope.
  • Not a goal but rather a note to self: maintain 3 blog posts per week. With the Meet the Cards series at an end this may be more of a challenge. ~ Done.

Summary: This one is harder to sum up. I had weeks of great success unfortunately consistency was not achieved.

Reading:

  • A minimum of 12 books to stay on track for 100 books this year. ~ 16 completed. Finished up More and How to Save a Life by Sloan Parker this week.
  • Update Goodreads at least every other week. ~ Done, including the widget in the sidebar.

Summary: This goal was blown out of the water. My Goodreads total is 98 as of scheduling this post and that doesn’t count the beta reads I’ve done this year. I hope to continue this next year.

Support/Social Media:

  • Visit and comment on at least 12 blogs per week, 3 of which HAVE to be ROW80 blogs. ~ 10 total/2 ROW80
  • One non-blog related post per week on Facebook and Twitter. ~ No, on both.
  • One share, re-tweet, whatnot per week on Facebook and Twitter. ~ Facebook, yes. Twitter, no.

Summary: This area continues to be a struggle. I haven’t been able to find that happy medium of being present on Social Media without it being a detriment to other areas.

Non-Writery Stuff:

  • Exercise three times per week. ~ Nope.
  • Allow myself an hour each week for me time. ~ Nope.
  • Not a goal but a note to self: maintain family day, one day each week. ~ Done.

Summary: Two of the three feel fairly well established. I must work on fitting exercise into my life and this must be a priority in 2014.

You can find and support other ROWers HERE

I definitely plan to be back in January for Round 1 of 2014. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday!

Are Trains Romantic?

I’ve been thinking about that question since I posted the video of my father’s outdoor railroad on Sunday.

Train Tracks

There’s something about trains.

The visual of seeing things, going places you can’t by car. Of simply being able to enjoy that scenery without the responsibility of driving. The clickity-clack of the wheels. The gentle sway of the train cars like a rocking chair or hammock set in motion.

Maybe it’s in my blood.

My grandfather worked for the railroad in Canada. My father even put in his time back when he was in school. And I grow up on tales of the family taking vacations on the trains. Day trips mostly. My grandfather would pack up the family, along with their bikes, and take the train a town or two away. They’d spend the day touring the town on their bikes, stop at a park for a picnic lunch my grandmother prepared, and take the train home again.

Sounds like a fun way to spend a day.

My mother recalls a family trip where they took the train coast to coast. She talks about racing alongside rivers and through mountains, barreling through towns and plunging into canyons. She remembers sharing a bunk with a sister and of NOT fighting over the lack of space.

Something I hope to do before the passenger aspect of trains is completely lost.

Is it the nostalgia?

Living on the Oregon Trail, we even tried to take a train from Portland to Astoria. Disappointingly, the train broke down about half an hour into the trip.

There are the Christmas trains. In Oregon you could take one up into the mountains, chop down your tree, and ride the train home again. There’s one here in Boulder City but we haven’t been coordinated enough to do it yet. Maybe this will be the year.

And boys…I’ve yet to meet one who wasn’t fascinated by trains on some level. All my boys had a love affair with trains. Thomas in particular. At one time we had five different versions of Thomas train sets! We were able to take each of them to “Day Out With Thomas” events while in Oregon including a ride on a steam powered train.

Boy and Train

You would have thought their birthday and Christmas came all at once when Grandpa trusted them, each in turn, to run his trains for the first time.

Is it the chance meeting?

You’d think, with all these fond memories, finding books set on a train would be easy. Not so much.

Outside of classics like Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express or Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, both thrillers, I can’t think of many stories that take place on trains. And other than Sloan Parker’s romantic suspense story Take Me Home I couldn’t come up with a romance.

So I went hunting on Amazon.

Midnight Train to Paris by Juliette Sobanet sounds like a romantic time-travel story.

Bess McBride has a Train Through Time series: A Train Through Time, Together Forever Across Time, and A Smile in Time.

Of course, both those authors had me at time-travel, but that’s only five titles with any bit of romance. Why is that?

Can you think of any books set on a train?

When Characters Cross the Line

I want to pitch that book across the room. Not the best practice these days with over half my reading being done on an eReader, LOL. However, it does result in my not finishing the book more often than not. It also makes me less likely to buy that author again.

Is it subject?

An established author, one I trust to see me to the end of the journey, can and has escorted me across many a line I thought firmly drawn. I’m looking at you Joely and Sloan :D

For example, I generally have zero tolerance for cheating spouses. Yet, Elena Aiken has a character do just that in Drawing Free. Did I agree with the character’s decision? No. Did I understand it? Yes. I know a little harmless flirting has uplifted my self-confidence, made me walk a little taller, feel a little sexier. I suspect most of us can relate to that.

On the other hand, another author, a first time read for me, has lost me. Her hero gets amnesia and ends up having an affair. I’m not even sure I can call it an affair, LOL. Anyway, amnesia…I should be able to forgive him, right?

Does that mean gender makes a difference?

Well, I do like my heroes to be perfect, or perfectly flawed with the ability to become more with the heroine’s love. But, no, I don’t think the sex of the character has much to do with it, as long as the character STAYS in character.

Back to the amnesic hero, if the ‘affair’ happened off the page, I probably would have forgiven him. I mean, he didn’t remember much beyond his name, didn’t know he had a wife waiting for him, or that the villain of the story was making her life miserable as only a great bad guy can do.

As it was, it felt like the author tried to fit some erotica into a mainstream historical romance. Those scenes were not needed to move the story forward. We have the heroine’s POV. Readers felt the tension build the longer the hero was missing, feared dead.

So is it craft?

Kait Nolan has a wonderful scene questionnaire. Type A that she is (hey, she admits this), she completes it before writing a word. Me, I like to use it for revisions/edits. In it she says every scene must do three things.

Which of the following does the scene accomplish?

____ (G) Dramatically illustrate a character’s progress toward the goal or provide an experience which changes a character’s goal.

____ (M) Provide a character with an experience that strengthens his motivation or changes his motivation.

____ (C) Bring a character into conflict with opposing forces.

It can, of course accomplish all three, but minimally must accomplish at least one. This point gives me the broad goal of the scene.

What are the three reasons for the scene?

Now one of my three reasons for the scene can be answering the GMC *** question above. But I must have at least 3 total reasons for the scene to be included and make the cut. Why three? Well, if I remember correctly, I think Dixon says something about it in her book, but mostly it’s because I think of something having three points as being stable. If I can come up with three reasons, then more than likely I won’t have to axe the scene later.

I think she has a point about three points being stable. It’s no wonder three-legged stools have been around forever. (And the image analogies using them…wow.)

But I digress.

Do you have a hard limit where characters are concerned? What do you do when characters cross the line?

*** Kait references: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon, one of my recommended reads.

Sunday Summary & #ROW80

  1. Oh where, oh where, has the time gone? Right. Wee beasties were out of school for two days this last week.
  2. Then Friday was a wasted day with repair people in and out. Really, from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm! Poor Roxy got way too much sun as I needed to keep her outside much of the day. Do they make sunscreen for dogs?
  3. The writing: still working my way through notes from betas, revamping the MC, solidifying the SF elements, and nailing down conflict. It’s very doubtful this will be ready for the sub call. But I’m okay with that. The sub call pushed some limits. The betas pushed craft. I’m learning and growing so it is all good. I want to keep pushing those deadlines and limits so I’m continuing to work on this as if I’m going to submit it for the call.
  4. I have a love/hate relationship with deadlines and August McLaughlin had a great post, Deadlines: Lifelines for Writers. How are you with deadlines?
  5. The blogging: still holding to a week cushion by the skin of my teeth. Seriously, can there be an odder saying?
  6. I loved Roni Loren’s Author Websites: Layering Yours with Sticky Extras post. What makes you return to a website or blog?
  7. The social media: still failing miserably with commenting and taking part on the different sites. However, I AM getting around to them all every day without killing myself. I have no idea what switched and that is my social media goal for this week. Once I have that figured, get the commenting back up to par.
  8. And of course, Marcia Richards had to go point out 16 Reasons Pinterest is Worth Your Time. Evil Brilliant.
  9. The health: I am back on the wagon completely with the water and slowly working in those dog walks. The Beastie Girl and I got out twice this last week. Additionally, for March I’m cutting out some of the extra sugars. I started implementing that by substituting Truvia for sugar in my morning coffee. My goal is to slowly reduce the Truvia until I’m down to just taking cream in said morning coffee. I’m such a tea person, LOL.
  10. Angela Wallace really hit the nail on the head with her Squeezing Time post!
  11. The reading: yep, been doing some of that too. Sloan Parker highlighted a number of free reads Don’t Read in the Closet Collections that can be download from Goodreads. A little M/M romance in the evening :)
  12. To support the awesomeness that is ROW80 go HERE

Tuesday Book Talk

Let’s talk books!

This is my version of Lynn Viehl’s 3 Books feature.

Just Read


Take Me Home by Sloan Parker

Why I picked it up: Actually, I won this one but it’s been on my to-buy list since she first started talking about it on her blog. Sloan was my intro into the M/M world and I probably measure all others by the standard she set.

What I liked: This is a friends to lovers story which has to be one of my favorite romance devises. Both characters are well developed, a good chunk of the story takes place on a train (which I thoroughly enjoyed as both my grandfather and father, for a bit in high school, worked for the railroad), and she wove in a neat little mystery.

What I disliked: One aspect of the mystery seemed extreme even as it was believable. It made for exciting passages but felt a little over the top for a contemporary setting.

Reading (Actually, we’ll have two Just Read this time.)


Somnium (Halos #1) by Keri Lake
You can also check out my interview with Keri Lake.

Why I picked it up: Again, it was on my to-buy list radar but I won this from Keri’s site.

What I liked: This has a strong first person point of view. It satisfied my POV junkie habit beautifully :) Keri has built a fascinating world of angels and demons locked in the classic good vs. evil battle. There’s bit of mystery and enough questions at the end that I’m looking forward to the next book.

What I disliked: There’s a bit of a “love triangle.” Normally I’m all for it, love the tension. This one started out well but ended up too one-sided too soon. And I think the story could have had the same level of suspense and tension without it.

Will Read

That’s a really good question. I’m in the middle of revisions so reading right now isn’t high on the ol’ list. I did just get this in the mail…


The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman

Why I picked this up: I’d seen it recommended. It sounded worth a try if I could get my hands on a used copy…which I did.

What I expect to like: The way this book is broken down. Seriously, there’s Characterization: the Outer Life; Characterization: the Inner Life; Applied Characterization; The Journey; Suspense; Conflict; Context; and Transcendency. And in a quick thumb-through, sections within on romance.

What I expect to dislike: Hard to say. I’ve never read anything by Mr. Lukeman before so am coming to this with fresh eyes.

What are you reading and loving at the moment?

What’s on Your Keeper Shelf? Part 3: Fiction

In Part 1, I shared my non-fiction shelf. In Part 2, I shared my physical fiction shelf. Today, for Part 3, I’ll share my digital fiction “shelf” on the trusty Nook.

Now, this list is on the short side, just because I haven’t had my Nook all that long, and I haven’t got around to reading everything on it yet.

Without further ado, alphabetically, my digital Top 10 List:

  1. Lisa T Bergren (Her River of Time series anyway.)
  2. Joely Sue Burkhart
  3. Lindsay Buroker
  4. Liz Fichara
  5. Larissa Ione (Actually, this is kind of a cheat because I have one series on the physical shelf and one on the Nook.)
  6. Marjorie M Liu
  7. Kait Nolan
  8. Sloan Parker (Psst, Take Me Home, a friends to lovers story, released today.)
  9. Sasha White
  10. Maria Zannini

Sunday Summary, #ROW80, & #NaNoWriMo

  1. Okay, I’m not sure how to rate this, so watcher beware ;) I found this over on Sloan Parker’sblog earlier in the week.
  2. Coming December 1st, Ciara Knightis turning her weekly “Did I Notice Your Book?” feature into a blog hop.
    Be sure to stop by to see what book I choose.
  3. The Bayard/Lamb 2012 Campaign Tour will be stopping here next month. Stay tuned for the details.
  4. Congrats to Louisa Bacio for her Romance Reviews NominationThe Vampire, the Witch and the Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome is steamy deliciousness :)
  5. We had a bit of the sad this week. Our long-haired piggy, aka the Mountaineering Guinea Pig, passed away. It came as a shock. One morning he’s scurrying around in the cage with his pal and by afternoon he was gone. We had an appropriate funeral. We’re undecided if we’ll try to find another one with our smooth coat piggy being so established.
  6. Had a fantastic #1k1hr with @Zakillian, @MaxineDuckworth, @mohio73, @Adam_Ortyl, @MMMReader, @KarenStivali, and @JuliaLizzBeth on Thursday, putting me 1113 words closer to being caught up with NaNo.
  7. This week’s word count:
    • Sunday: 1698
    • Monday: 1728
    • Tuesday: 2254
    • Wednesday: 1101
    • Thursday: 2912
    • Friday: 1341
    • Saturday: 349

    Definitely closer to NaNo standards :)

  8. I’ve continued to be good about writing and scheduling blog posts ahead. Wasn’t a ROW80 goal but I’m glad it has worked itself into one. I’ve maintained my goal of commenting on three blogs (usually more) per day and I’ve tried to make at least one of those not a regular.
  9. Twitter and Facebook…still struggling to find my groove. I’ll have a good day then a lot of bad, if not complete avoid, days. Definitely must find a balance here. So another update where I’m not sure I made my goal of three updates (not including blog posts) per week.
  10. The turkey is thawing in the fridge for Thursday :) If you want to try a new recipe, or two, Tiffany White has a delicious Thanksgiving Mash-Up.

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