Saturday, January 31, 2009

Book Review: The Rancher's Runaway Princess


The Rancher’s Runaway Princess by Donna Alward Harlequin Romance 4074 – Jan 09

This is another excellent book from Donna Alward and it’s going on my 2009 Top 10 list! Using the majestic Rockies as a backdrop, Donna Alward weaves lonely despair and heartbreak together into an emotion-packed story that had me crying on pg 46 no less.

In the past few months, Lucy Farnsworth’s world has been ripped apart upon the death of her mother and she’s been expected to settle half a world away with strangers. The only thing that Lucy finds familiar are the palace horses where she shines in her knowledge. Not knowing what to do with his newfound daughter, the king sends her on a business trip to an Alberta ranch. Lucy wants to hide out and doesn’t tell anyone she’s really a princess. And there, in the stable, Lucy finds the daughter of a familiar horse from when her mother was alive and it threatens to be her undoing.

And who happens to witness the scene but the ranch owner, Brody Hamilton who believes Lucy is not who she seems. He thinks she’s out to sabotage his current set-up although he can’t figure out why. There’s just something...shady...about Ms Farnsworth. Not only that, Brody is physically drawn to the woman even though she reminds him too much of his ex-wife.

It’s just as well Lucy and Brody are trying to act nonchalant towards each other because if they ever did step up to a physical as well as emotional relationship, what would Brody do when he finds out her royal status?

Heat Level: Sensual

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (Top 10 list)

The Rancher's Runaway Princess is Book 1 in the Larch Valley Series.

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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 7 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 7, Others: 0
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Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Sparked My Fire...

I'm blogging over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance today about the books in my childhood that sparked my love of reading as well as my writing journey.



But if you don't have time, I'll tell you here:

1. The Poky Little Puppy (A Little Golden Book)

2. An Early Americana book that I describe but can't remember the title. Sorry.

I also ask if a certain book sparked your love of reading or writing.
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I Want to Write and I Want to Do it Now!

Yesterday, I took my weekly trip into the city to chauffeur my daughter to her music lesson. It’s an hour’s drive each way. I use the time for plotting and characterizing which I dictate into my digital voice recorder.

But yesterday, not only did I have all these fantastic ideas floating through my mind...I had an insatiable craving to write. That is to actually put my little fingers to my keyboard and tap away. Because I’m still playing catch-up with all the things that piled up while I worked on Translucent Trust during BIAW, I haven’t been able to get back to TT since midnight Fri, 19th.

And, I miss it.

I loved it when the high priority of the day was to sit down and write.

No, I can’t write as if it were BIAW every week because, my family would disown me. My eFriends would forget me. And, my CP’s would fire me.

You know what...you’ll have to excuse me...I have something I have to do...

Have you ever had the urge to write when there was no physical way you could? When was the most inopportune time you thought of a brilliant idea for a story? (Ah...keep it clean, eh...)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book Review: Family Ever After


Family Ever After (Fostered by Love) by Margaret Daley Love Inspired #444 – May 08

This great story is the 3rd book in the Fostered by Love series. It brings together a wealthy confirmed bachelor, a single mother and 3 abandoned kids. Margaret Daley is an expert at emotional development and showed us the hero’s growth from a man who doesn't want kids to a caring foster father. It’s a poignant story where you see the characters wanting the same thing but running in the opposite direction because they can’t believe such a thing as a family is actually meant for them.

We first met Cara Winters as the long-distance friend of the heroine in Book 1 of this series. Her husband has since died leaving her medical bills instead of insurance money. She’s trying to make a new life for herself and her child but first she has to find a job and a place to live. But she has faith that God has led her to Cimarron City, Oklahoma.

Noah Maxwell is foster brother to the heroes in the first 2 books in the series. Maxwell is the wealthy one. He lives in a mansion with a heated pool. He owns a slew of restaurants. He’s only seen dating beautiful women and never more than 3 months at a time. And, he has a policy of not dating single mothers. His life is perfect and he doesn’t need the hassle of kids. Mind you, he thinks he doesn’t need the hassle of God, either.

Enter 3 children who’ve been abandoned by their father. Normally Noah wouldn’t bother with them but the oldest teen brother works in one of Max’s restaurants. When he’s injured, Max goes to tell his siblings and finds them living in a rat trap and faced with eviction. They’re just kids and they have nowhere to go. Facing separation in the foster system, Max feels responsible for the trio and takes them into his home until they can be placed together.

He hires Cara as his housekeeper to help him with the kids. But, he tells her point blank not to get any ideas about a family and happily ever after because that’s not for him.

Don't you just love it when God moves His hand and creates a miracle.

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)

For the rest of the Fostered by Love series, please see here:
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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 6 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 6, Others: 0
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wanna be a Prairie Chick?

I’m trying to play catch up with all the stuff that waited while I wrote the first half of Translucent Trust during Book in a Week. So, if I missed your email, please be patient and I should get to you soon.

I’m also trying to find guest bloggers for the Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog to fill the Sat time slot at www.prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com

Guest bloggers can be published or non-published or people in the industry. If published, we’d like the post to be something about your journey to publication, like your ‘The Call’ story, or something about the writing craft. Unpublished writers can also post an essay of interest to writers.

As most authors know, a good time to be a guest blogger is just prior to or when your new release hits the shelves. This can be a good promotional tool.

So, if you’d like to guest blog and be an Honorary Prairie Chick, let me know and I'll get our guidelines out to you.

Would you like to be a guest blogger?
Or, is there someone you’d like to see as a guest blogger?
Come on, talk to me and I'll see what we can do...
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

You Know It's Cold Out When...

Picture this:

You're snug in your warm house but you want to walk to the end of the lane for your mail. You get your winter socks, hat, mitts...etc on until you feel like you're a penguin, then you step outside a few feet from the house.

You breathe in and the sharpness bites your nostrils. The wind brings tears to your eyes which is scary because your eyeballs feel like they're freezing. You pool a gob of spit in the bottom of your mouth then spew it out in a ball. It crackles and shatters into hundreds of slivers halfway to the ground.

You know it's cold outside. So, you take those few steps back to the house, go inside and close the door. And by the time you've unbundled yourself, you bow your head and thank God that you didn't get locked out.

But, you feel more alive than you ever thought possible. Now, that's cold.
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Donna Alward Comes to Visit

This Saturday, Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward becomes our first Honorary Prairie Chick when she stops in for a visit at my Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog.

Donna will be sharing her memories of her 2007 visit to Saskatoon where she presented a workshop entitled, ‘The Business of Writing’ which was hosted by the Saskatchewan Romance Writers (SRW).
Donna will also be telling us about the contest she’s running for writers on her blog right now until the end of January.
So come on over on Saturday to http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/ and let Donna know you're there.

BIAW – Final Day

It’s over for another year.

BIAW 2009 officially ended at midnight.

My totals for the week:

Final day word count – 5130 words

Total BIAW count – 27,557 words

Total page count – 105 pages

Translucent Trust is now 50.1% complete. Yeeee hawww!!!

Storywise – I killed somebody off. Didn’t want to do it, and it wasn’t like I had one too many characters or anything, but it just seemed natural. Wait – I should rephrase that – the villain killed somebody. There, that’s better.

Just prior to finding the body, Dyler and Hayley finally started trusting each other enough to share information and personal suspicions. They now believe they are being stalked by either the person who murdered her brother 5 yrs ago, or by someone who knows who the murderer is and is protecting him.

They are beginning to communicate more on an emotional level and the reader is starting to understand why Dyler and Hayley broke up after her brother’s death. I had skimmed the surface before, but now that I hope I have the reader hooked and liking Dyler and Hayley, I’m letting them have more time for retrospection.

I’ve mentioned before about sending out my contest entries, and I find it exasperating when one judge will say they want to know more in the first few chapters and other judges say give a sentence here and another sentence later until the reader is craving for the complete story. But, that's only natural since the judges are just humans who like to read.

Do you like to bare it all at the beginning so that the reader has the big picture? Or do you like doling it out a bit of info at a time so that the complete story isn’t realized until the last half?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 6 – BIAW

I had a hard time concentrating on Translucent Trust today since I was also blogging at Prairie Chicks Write Romance. My post, Trolling for an Agent, showed my take on the agent issue. I was very curious to see what everyone thought and so, I kept going over and checking. It’s hard to write one thing when you’re thinking on another.

Storywise – Some animals died in my wip today. It wasn’t Dyler nor Hayley’s doing...or was it? If they hadn’t been investigating the cold case, then the villain wouldn’t be stalking them. He only killed the animals because he could. He wanted to show Dyler and Hayley that he could get close enough to hurt them. And, Dyler definitely suffered when he saw what had happened to his herd.

But, now I’m wondering about my readers – the animal lovers in the crowd.

You see, in one of my other stories, the heroine isn’t crazy about dogs. So, when a smallish dog is thrust in her arms she just holds it awkwardly. In her POV, she refers to the dog as ‘it’. Someone who read my wip said I can’t do that. She said my heroine has to cuddle the dog and refer to it as ‘he’ or ‘she’ or I was going to ‘turn off’ all my dog lover readers. But, it was in my heroine's POV and she wasn't crazy about the dog.

I know today’s readers are a fickle bunch, but do you think if they read a book where animals are hurt, they’ll put down the book permanently? Would you? What about a certain type of animal? Like...it’s fine if the cat falls out of the tree but I’d better catch the dog? Do people really think like this? Come on, talk to me....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I’m Blogging at Prairie Chicks Write Romance Today

Come visit me at http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com today where we’re talking about Trolling for an Agent?

In particular, I’m curious about answers to the following questions:

Am I missing the point?

Do you have an agent, or wished you had one?

How long does an agent/client partnership usually last in your opinion anyway?

Have you used one of the methods in the blog post to find an agent?

Which method do you think works best most of the time?

Come on over and let’s talk...

Day 5 – Book in a Week

So finally, after 4 productive days of writing, LIFE got in my way.

I awoke with my fingers itching to get at my story – but I made the mistake of checking my inbox and yes, there were 3 emails that required answers.

With that out of the way, I opened my word doc for Translucent Trust – and my iPod Touch chimed. It was time to leave for an appt.

I arrived back home near noon, checked my email and some blogs while eating my veggies, read what I wrote yesterday – and my iPod Touch reminded me I still had to write Thursday’s post for the Prairie Chicks Write Romance blog.

After writing, revising and tweaking my post entitled Trolling for an Agent? – my iPod Touch said it was time to pick up the kids from school and head into the city for a music lesson.

It was 9:30 pm when we arrived back home. I left the teen to put away the groceries and zipped over to my writing corner where I flicked my laptop off power saver and – I wrote. Ahh. What a relief. By the time midnight crept up, my word count stood at 1235 for the day. Peanuts compared to the previous 4 days, but man, did it feel good.

The jury is still out on whether the iPod Touch I received for Christmas will be able to handle the workload. Or, will it accidently get smashed against a wall for its efficiency. Only time will tell.

How do you manage your time? Do you use your computer calendar? A timer? An iPod or similar device like mine? Please tell me I’m not the only one with these kinds of days. Come on, talk to me...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 4 – Book in a Week

Today was a good writing day. I awoke this morning refreshed, knowing what would happen next in my inspirational suspense story, Translucent Trust.

As usual, I spent a bit of time in research but only for 15 mins or so. The 2 or 3 other times I needed answers and could have surfed the web, I just placed an inch of dashes in the spot and highlighted them. I then copied the relevant sentence and pasted it in my ‘Research Needed’ document along with the page nbr. I’ll have no problem finding it later when I do have time to go surfing.

Storywise – The villain – who really doesn’t like Dyler and Hayley – takes a shot at them. I tried to set the scene where taking a shot was a possibility but not a certainty. Dyler and Hayley are away from the city crowds and she starts reminiscing. I tried to lull the reader into the peaceful scene she’s describing – sort of a false sense of security - and then, zing! The bullet just misses Hayley but only because she bent over to pick up her cola. Dyler doesn’t know if it actually was a shot or even if another one’s coming but chivalry isn’t dead. He does what a man’s supposed to do and pushes her facedown in the mud and lays on top of her. Hmm...

In the scene I wrote just before midnight, Dyler enters Hayley’s motel room to plan tomorrow’s strategy. Since men don’t usually run through an open door at night, by the time he closes the door, a moth is flitting around the ceiling. I’ve introduced a secondary character by this time and she’s in the room with Hayley. So while the 2 ladies are going over the days adventures, guess what tall, muscular Dyler’s doing? Yup, you guessed it – he’s got his running shoe in hand and he’s scooting all over the room and across the beds trying to smack the little moth. Isn’t that a picture.

Do you try to inject humor in your stories? Can humor be added to all genres? I’m adding small nuggets of entertainment to this suspense novel but, does humor even belong in a suspense novel?

Since this is my first attempt at Susense, I’d really like to know what you think. Come on, talk to me...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 3 - Book in a Week

Day 3 was a bit frustrating. I had to re-type 3 pages due to a faulty/corrupt flash drive - long story, please don't ask. Anyway, I got those retyped and kept going.

Then I had to stop for some research. Yeah, I know what you're thinking...that I wasted time on Facebook or surfing the net, checking and reading blogs. Well, I might have checked a couple, BUT I really did have to do some research. I spent about an hour or so on it before getting back to writing.

Storywise I have to tell you things did not go as planned. My writing style is a cross between a plotter and a pantser - like a hybrid. I know how the story will play out but I don't know all the twists and turns to get there.

When I started writing this morning, I planned to have the villain shoot at Dyler and Hayley today. It didn't happen. That's where the research came in. I used a different venue to bring them to a nerve shattering moment which ends with Dyler's arms around Hayley in comfort.

You see, I figured if someone shot at them now, only a quarter of the way into the book, it would bring the cops into the picture and Dyler and Hayley would have to hand over their findings to local authorities. As a cop herself, Hayley would be warned to stay away from the re-opened case due to conflict of interest. That's no fun. But the way it stands now, Dyler and Hayley are the only ones with suspicions and can do their investigations without giving themselves away. Or so they think.

As I was writing, I kept hearing the villain make these smart remarks as he covertly watched Dyler and Hayley follow the 5 yr old trail. Finally this afternoon, I got so tired of hearing the villain's voice, that I went back to my story and at the appropriate places, I wrote the villain's POV and left it there in red letters so I can find it quickly. This was new for me. I don't usually write the part of the villain and yet the words, thoughts and actions just flowed across the page. I don't know where they came from and I'm cringing to think they're actually my thoughts, but they're on paper. And do you know something? He's kind of creepy. In a maniacal sort of way. (shudder)

Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a hybrid? Do you hear the voices of your characters nagging at you until you commit them to paper? Or do you ignore them and stay the plot?

Come on...talk to me...

Day 2 - Book in a Week


Okay, so Day 2 of Book in a Week has just ended and I thought I'd pass on how I'm doing.

Wordwise I'm doing great at 15% completed. Of course if you add it up, you'll know I have to pick up the pace if I want to actually complete Translucent Trust by midnight Friday night.

And I'm aiming for that goal, but I won't be disappointed if I don't make it. 55,000 is an awful lot of words to shoot for in a week and at the end of the day, any number over 1 is more than I started the day with.

Storywise, it's going great. It's a reunion story since my characters, Hayley and Dyler used to be a hot item but they broke apart 5 yrs ago. I'm a bit worried because the first contact they have with each other in Translucent Trust isn't until page 9 but the preceeding 8 pages set the stage for why Hayley's calling Dyler up after all these years. I could write a prologue I suppose...

And since it’s a suspense, I have to garner some excitement. So far the 'bad guy' has tried to kill Hayley once in a parking lot. She doesn't know what to think because no one is after her - that she knows - yet somehow it didn't seem like an accident.

I've also introduced a couple secondary characters and some baby goats. We'll have to see how they play out.

Okay, I'm off to dream of my story.

If this was your story, would you have Hayley and Dyler meet on the first page? Would you add a prologue? Or would you weave the bad story in throughout the first few chapters?

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Book Review: Heart of the Family


Heart of the Family (Fostered by Love) by Margaret Daley Love Inspired #425 – Dec 07

This is a story of forgiveness given for a wrong done years ago but not forgotten. This is Book 2 in the Fostered by Love series. In this great book, we get a glimpse of what a group foster home looks like from the inside and some of the problems the manager encounters because yes, the manger is our heroine, Hannah Smith. But when Hannah took the job, she didn’t expect to find her arch enemy on the Board of Directors. And when she did find out that little bit of info she figured she’d be able to steer clear of him...but not if he keeps coming to the home.

At first Hannah doesn’t know what to do. She brings a child in for medical care and comes face-to-face with the man who killed her brother over 20 yrs before. Since she was only 7 yrs old at the time of the incident and she’s using her married name, the pediatrician has no idea who she is and she’s not telling. Because she loves her job, she’ll just have to work with him...but she’s not going to like it. And, she’s not going to forgive him either! Her family fell apart when her brother died and it was all because of Dr. Jacob Hartman.

Jacob has no idea why the new manager of Stone’s Refuge seems to have a personality conflict with him. He tries to draw it out of Hannah but she’s not volunteering any info. Because they have to work together in peace, he starts spending more of his time at the home, playing with the kids, and eating meals with them. However, his nights are filled with torment as he relives the moment he crashed a vehicle and killed a friend when he was 14 yrs old. For over 20 yrs, the accident has been foremost in his mind. He doesn’t understand why he lived and his friend didn’t. His friend left a loving mother behind whereas Jacob’s mother wasn’t worthy to even be called one.

As the story reads, Hannah sees what a loving man Jacob is toward children and animals but forgiving him will mean betraying her brother’s memory and her family and she just can’t do that.

And how will Jacob react if he finds out the woman he’s slowly falling in love with is the little sister of the man he killed? Can be bear to watch her face turn ashen with pain followed by betrayal? The best thing would be for him to just stay away.

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)

Go here for the complete Fostered by Love series list:


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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 5 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 5, Others: 0

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Fostered by Love Series by Margaret Daley


Here's an update on the Fostered by Love series by Margaret Daley.

In an email, I was telling Margaret how eager I am to read Book 3 - Family Ever After - since I'd hoped Cara and Noah would get together since they were first mentioned in separate instances in Book 1 - Once Upon A Family.

In her responding email, Margaret mentioned there are more books in this series so I asked her what they were since they're not on her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com/books.htm yet.

She emailed back the info so here is the new Fostered by Love series list:

1 – Once Upon a Family – Apr 07 – Peter Stone and Laura Williams

2 – Heart of the Family – Dec 07 – Dr. Jacob Hartman and Hannah Smith

3 – Family Ever After – May 08 – Noah Maxwell and Cara Winters

4 – Second Chance Family – Jul 09 – Whitney Maxwell's story (Noah's sister)

5 – Together for the Holidays – Nov 09 – Lisa Morgan's Story (Andy's mother)

About Book 5, Margaret said, 'As you're reading she has a long way to go to be a heroine but then the Lord works miracles in us. Both Whitney and Lisa's stories are grittier and deal with very timely issues.'

I know what she means because I've just been introduced to Andy's mom in Book 2 (which I'll review shortly) and yes, the lady does have problems...major ones, too. So it will be interesting to see how Margaret develops her character over the next couple books.

Margaret also said, 'I will say it can be hard writing the Fostered by Love series (or any series over the long haul). You are sure it was one way--after all, you created the story and place--but later you discover it was another way. I write down notes but occasionally some things will slip through. Just a heads up as a writer who might tackle her own series one day. This one has grown beyond my original plans. I have two more I hope they will buy. We'll see what the future holds.'

That would be great if there are more books in this series. I'm a sucker for abandoned kids and animals and Margaret writes about them with an affinity I could never hope to reach.

And I think she's just given me fodder for another Prairie Chicks Write Romance post: no matter how much plotting you put into your story, sometimes it takes on a life of its own...

Thanks, Margaret.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

I'm a Prairie Chick Today

It's Thursday and that means I'm blogging over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance today.

In my post, I talk about my historical book An Outlaw for the Lady and show how one simple plot criteria turned into a whole lot of research.

You know, I've never been called a Chick before.

I kinda like it.

Makes me feel young.

Have a good day now, ya hear!

Book Review: Once Upon a Family


Once Upon a Family (Fostered by Love) by Margaret Daley Love Inspired #393 – Apr 07

This was a great book to start the Fostered by Love series (see below). This author has an affinity for people and animals that are in any way disadvantaged whether physically, mentally or emotionally. It shines through her books like no other author I’ve read. She uses this first book in the series to set the stage for the other 2 which all centre around the need for good loving foster homes for kids that need shelter for whatever the reason.

In Once Upon a Family, Laura Williams is trying to get her life back together after a traumatic experience just prior to her husband’s death. Abused and disillusioned by a man she thought would protect her, she arrives in Cimarron City, Oklahoma with her 4 kids and accepts her aunt’s offer of a rent-free duplex. Laura doesn’t want to accept her aunt’s charity, but her children need a home and her aunt needs care so it’s more like an exchange, anyway.

It doesn’t help that within 2 wks of hitting town, Laura’s heading to the high school principal’s office in response to some trouble her son has been involved with. It also doesn’t help that Principal Stone is one good looking man who seems to want to get to know her and her kids better. But wait – he’s mentioned he’ll never marry again but he wants kids – that’s couldn’t be the real reason he’s paying her attention...could it?

Peter Stone is still hurting after his ex-wife’s betrayal 3 yrs ago. He doesn’t think he can ever trust a woman again – even one that he really likes being around. But her twins make him laugh and her son is crying out for help. Peter has the skills to relate to Laura’s troubled teen on a level she can’t. Peter also has a farm with a bunch of abandoned animals that Laura’s son has an affinity toward.

It seems like the animals might be the key to break down the walls her son is hiding behind. Will Peter be able to do the same for Laura?

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)

Fostered by Love:

1 – Once Upon a Family – Apr 07 – Peter Stone and Laura Williams
2 – Heart of the Family – Dec 07 – Dr. Jacob Hartman and Hannah Smith
3 – Family Ever After – May 08 – Noah Maxwell and Cara Winters
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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 4 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 4, Others: 0
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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Write a Book in a Week?

Last November, I attempted to write a novel during National Novel Writing Month but had to pull out because of prior writing commitments that just wouldn't go away.

Well, next week is Book in a Week (BIAW) with my local group, the Saskatchewan Romance Writers (SRW). It starts this Friday at midnight and it's only a week long. Basically, you write like mad for a week and try to accomplish your goal.

My 2009 BIAW goal will be to complete Translucent Trust - the inspirational suspense novel I started last Nov. This novel has been on my mind since last Sept and it just won't go away so I might as well write it.

In a day or so I'll put my word counter up and then you'll all be able to watch my progress.

The only thing I ask is that you don't get ticked off at me next week if I don't answer your emails, etc. I'm hoping to do a bit of email and blog checking with my morning coffee, but otherwise, I'll be writing.

In fact, I'll go so far as to say that if you catch me on FaceBook or on a blog anywhere between Jan 17 and 23, please tell me to stop procrastinating and get back to work. I might not like it, but I'll thank you later.

Have you ever had a story stay with you until you wrote it down? What about a memory or a dream that's evolving into a story? Did it leave you once it was written?

Book Review: Snowbound in Dry Creek


Snowbound in Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad Love Inspired #465 Oct 08

This is an excellent read. It’s the 3rd book I’ve read this year and already the 2nd one to go to my Top Ten list – and the year just started! It’s also the 2nd book in a row to hit the top ten by the same author. I’ve read over a dozen of this author’s books and these last 2 seem to portray an emotional level above any of her earlier works.

Jenny Collins is a widow with 2 kids. Almost penniless, she moved her young family to her only possession of worth – a small house on an acreage outside of Dry Creek, Montana. Barely any furniture and no job, Jenny has a tough time providing what they need but they have a roof over their heads and lots of love.

Unfortunately there isn’t any money for a Christmas tree or decorations or even for the items on their Santa’s wish list but she’ll hope they’ll understand, young as they are.

They won’t be spending Christmas alone, however. Rodeo champion Zach Lightning drives through town 2 days before Christmas looking for a vet for his horse. The part-time vet takes the horse and in exchange Zach must deliver the last mail run before Christmas. His last stop is Jenny’s house. He’s a bit worried when he sees her lack of furniture and there’s a storm coming but she reassures him she has someone to call if she needs help. Zach gets in the postal truck and heads to town, determined to get his horse and head out to Las Vegas where a willing showgirl is waiting with open arms.

But Zach has a stowaway. Jenny’s daughter has decided to go to the North Pole and she’s hidden in the postal truck. Zach brings the girl back to a frantic Jenny but by then the storm has hit and he’s stuck at her place. He thinks that maybe being snowbound with a gorgeous widow won’t be so bad if he can get her away from the kids for some snuggles and cuddles, but he soon realizes that Jenny is a church-goer who doesn’t fool around.

Over the next couple days, Zach sees Christmas not only through a child’s eyes, but through the eyes of people who love each other – something he missed in his own childhood. So, he’ll have a nice Christmas and then split because he doesn’t do the church thing and this isn’t the life for him.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; Top 10 list)
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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 3 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 3, Others: 0
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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Book Review: A Dry Creek Courtship


A Dry Creek Courtship by Janet Tronstad Love Inspired #459 Sep 08

This excellent book is the first book on my 2009 Top 10 list. I read it a week ago and I still get a warm, fuzzy feeling thinking about it. The author’s compassion shines through the pages. I’ve always liked her humor, and here she uses it to full advantage as Edith and Charley start to spread their arms in this, their freedom years.

Actually, my hubby decided he didn’t want to read it before he even started and just skimmed through it, reading, ‘here and there’. And why didn’t he like it? Because he said it’s about ‘old people’. I looked at him and said they were just a couple years older than us and we still have love and have passion for each other – at least if last night was any indication...er...never mind that...what I wanted to say was - what does age have to do with love?

It’s all in the storytelling and this author writes with just as much feeling, tension and conflict as any other LI book on the market. The year before last, I read an LI book with the H/h in their late 40’s and I was bored out of my mind. Thank goodness I wasn’t doing reviews then!

In this book, the author weaved a sweet love story and pulled me along by my heartstrings. I ached when the normally assertive Edith realizes that she loves her best friend, Charley but how can she tell him? You just don’t look across the table at a man who’s been your platonic friend for over 30 yrs and in between sips of tea announce you’d like to up the level of affection in your relationship because if you do and he doesn’t feel the same, sure as rain he won’t be coming to sip tea in your kitchen any longer. Men get kind of weird when they get emotionally uncomfortable, you know?

But lately Charley hasn’t been coming around for meals anyway. And Edith has the feeling he was trying to get up the nerve to tell her something important. It’s traditional for Charley to pick a bucket of chokecherries and bring it to her to turn into jelly but when he doesn’t show up and the season’s almost over, she begins to think that maybe his mind is occupied with some other woman and he’s already fading from her life.

And what about Charley? He’s a widower and when Edith’s husband died, it was a natural progression to become her handyman and do the jobs around the house that a husband would do. That’s what friends do.

Charley has a secret, however. He doesn’t just want to take care of her house, he wants to live with her inside it.

But, Edith is a very determined woman who knows her own mind. She doesn’t take guff from anyone. If he confesses that he wants to up their relationship level, she just might break off their friendship. It wouldn’t be hard to find some other willing man to help her.

And actually, Edith went and got her hair cut. First time since he’s known her, she doesn’t wear it in a bun any longer. It kind of frames her face now in a soft feminine way. Why would she get a new hairstyle unless...she was sprucing up for a man?

Charley doesn’t mind change. After all, he’s been trying to convince Edith to trade in her old car which was a gift from her husband for a newer model. But when he sees her driving down the street in a convertible with the top down, Charley starts to get nervous. And it doesn’t help that the guys down at the hardware store are talking about her. When one of the guys goes to Charley for advice on courting Edith, Charley has to decide if he thinks Edith would be happier with him or someone else. It sure would help if she gave him some indication...

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; Top 10 list)

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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 2 books read

Harlequin Imprint: 2, Others: 0
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Saturday, January 10, 2009

She Will Always Be My Child


My 2nd child turns 18 today.

Of course, I knew today would come for quite some time, but I don't feel ready for it.

My child was born 5 wks premature. After my water broke, we had to drive an hour through a blizzard to get to the hospital. She was welcomed into the world with her dad holding my right hand while her 12 yr old sister held my left.

My child went on strike when she was 4 yrs old because she wanted to go to kindergarten in Sept but had to have been born prior to Dec 31st of that year. The sign she carried said, 'Age discrimination - Born 10 days too late!' (Although I made the sign, going on strike was her idea after she saw a strike on the news and asked why the people were carrying signs. I told her the people wanted to make a change and that's how they protested. The next day, she told me she wanted to go on strike.)

My child is a confident public speaker and has attended many Youth Leadership Forums.

My child is a Worship Leader in church and uses her beautiful gift of music to lead the congregation in praise and worship.

My child is President of her school's student body, yet still has time in her curriculum to volunteer at the local senior's home.

My child is an honour student with educational plans laid out for years to come.

My child is now an adult.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I'm Blogging at Prairie Chicks Today

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Today I'm blogging over at Prairie Chicks Write Romance.

My post is about using words out of their time-line and how it could affect your reader.

Please join our discussion at http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/

Book Review: Dry Creek Sweethearts


Dry Creek Sweethearts by Janet Tronstad Love Inspired #439 Apr 08

I love this author’s sense of humour. This great book has a fun plot where a singing star who used to be the town bad boy, gets his bus mired in mud and ends up in the only café in town which happens to be a 50’s style replica. But the author doesn’t just stop there...the singer and the café owner used to be a hot item and that makes for a very interesting story when the rest of the Dry Creek residents decide to protect their own.

Linda Morgan fell in love with the town bad boy. It was only because of Duane’s financial support that she was able to buy the café that supported herself and her younger sister these past years. After Duane left town, a heartbroken Linda even went after him but when she realized he expected her to live on a bus with him, she came back to Dry Creek to run the café. Life on a tour bus was no life at all for her seven year old sister. Over the 7 yrs he’s been gone, Linda has come to realize Duane loved his career more than he ever loved her.

Duane has women following him all over the place, but he’s only proposed to one woman – Linda Morgan – and she turned him down. They could’ve gone so many places together but she chose to live in the hick town of Dry Creek, Montana rather than share his life.

Duane is physically sick and can barely talk. When he drives his tour bus into Dry Creek after a 7 yr absence, he doesn’t have re-acquainting himself with Linda on his mind. All he wants is peace and quiet and what better place than sleepy Dry Creek. Too bad he brought his manager along because the guy’s already talking about singing in the local church, press conferences and renewing an acquaintance with the girl he left behind – all for the tabloids, of course.

This was a fun book to read. Is it really true that stars don’t read their own fan mail? Gosh...

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)

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2009 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge: 1 book read

Harlequin Imprint: 1, Others: 0

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My Name in a Lucy Clark Book!!!

Oops - I forgot to add something neat that happened to me in December:

I don't know how I could have forgotten this, but I was reading the Harlequin Medical Romance blog before Christmas and they were talking about the different versions of The 12 Days of Christmas. In the comment section of their post, I sent them the Ukrainian version I used to hear on the radio while posted to CFB Cold Lake, Alberta. I wasn't thinking of a contest, I just wanted to let those international authors hear the version I like the best.

But, Lucy had a contest going and the process of picking my name as the winner is a phenomenal piece of writing the likes of which had me and my family getting twitches from laughing so hard. You can read it here: http://medicalromance.blogspot.com/2008/12/time-has-come.html

I'll quote Lucy here to tell you what my prize was:

"...I slowly unfold the tiny bit of paper and squint to focus my gaze on what has been written there... the person's name... the person whose name shall appear in one of Lucy Clark's Medical Romance novels is... Anita Mae Draper... congratulations Anita. If you'd like to email me privately...we can discuss this further."
Yippee!!!

I've since emailed Lucy and we'll have to see what happens. I'll keep you informed.

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My Blessed December

I’m eager to start 2009 but have one more thing to do before I part with the old year and that’s to let you know all the blessings I received in December.

I made a conscious decision not to do any writing in Dec other than blog posts so that I could devote more time to my family. During the year, I tend to ignore their needs for my own especially when my head’s wrapped around a plot and I need to get it down before it’s gone. Once I’m pubbed I won’t have the luxury due to deadlines but I didn’t have that added stress this year.

I did manage to enter a few contests and things and I was blessed to win some books and things:

On Dec 11, http://www.eharlequin.com/ hosted their annual open house. It was a wild day of surfing the boards and visiting with over 100 authors. I won a couple of their fantastic prize giveaways:




A trio of Shelley Galloway’s Harlequin American books plus a $10 Starbucks gift card.





A 3 book pak by Dana Mentick including Love Inspired Suspense and Barbour Publishing books.





In the beginning of Dec, I played Donna Alward’s 12 Days of Christmas at http://www.donnaalward.blogspot.com/. On Dec 13, Donna sent me an email with the unbelievable news that I’d won her contest with a total prize pkg of 19 books from a variety of authors plus extras. You can read all about it here: http://anitamaedraper.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-won-donnas-contest-you-are-not-going.html


On Dec 16th I attended Brenda Novak’s Virtual Christmas Party and even though I didn’t win anything, I had so much fun I’m going to make sure I get an invite next year. For all the particulars look here: http://anitamaedraper.blogspot.com/2008/12/i-was-invited-to-brenda-novaks-virtual.html

On Dec 22nd, my family enjoyed being a part of our church’s play. A couple photos can be seen here http://anitamaedraper.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-pics-of-cookies-and-play.html and oodles of them here http://newsfromthepews.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-play.html

Then on Dec 21st, I was honored to have our Christmas tree featured on the blog of one of my favourite historical and contemporary authors. Cheryl St. John has 35 Harlequin and Silhouette books published so far and posted special Christmas pics here http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/2008/12/christmas-tree-tour-anita-mae-draper.htmlr.html

As a mother, I had the best month possible because I was surrounded by sweet hubby and all my kids including the wanderer (waving at Crystal). We had visits with relatives, exchanged gifts, ate lots and thanked God for sending the wonderful gift of His Son. Even though I write inspy, sometimes I get caught up in my own publishing dreams and forget the real goal is for us all to see each other in heaven. Spreading the gospel is the only way we can accomplish that.

Having said that, it’s now January and time for me to get back to writing...

Friday, January 2, 2009

My 2008 Top 10 List

Out of the 115 books I read in 2008, these are my top 10...uh...top 16 choices.

These excellent books had that special something – often indefinable – that really struck a chord. Long after I finished reading them, something about the story still resonated with me.

Sometimes it was in the way it was written – like Radical Cure by Olivia Gates. Just thinking about this book is an incredible adrenaline rush. The pacing is tremendous and I literally heard my heart pound against my chest when I finally put it down for a breather.

Many of these books had such a depth of emotion I found myself in tears just reading the words.

Some of them hid their emotions behind humour or brusqueness and I cried for them as well.

I waited for a couple of them for so many months and then when I finally held them in my hands, was afraid to read them in case the book didn’t live up to my expectations.

I notice my reviews on Amazon don’t always match what other reviewers think but, that’s okay because this is my list after all. These books are listed in the order that I read them:

Heaven Can Wait by Cheryl St John Harlequin Historical #240 – 1994

Buried Secrets by Margaret Daley Love Inspired Suspense #72 – Oct 07

The Marriage Wish by Dee Henderson - Steeple Hill – 1998

Radical Cure by Olivia Gates Silhouette Bombshell #80 – Feb 06

Frontier Courtship by Valerie Hansen – Love Inspired Historical #4 – Mar 08

Abbie’s Outlaw by Victoria Bylin - Harlequin Historical #750 – Apr 05

Of Men and Angels
by Victoria Bylin – Harlequin Historical #664 – Jul 03

High Country Bride (McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart – Love Inspired Historical #11 – Jul 08

Masked by Moonlight by Allie Pleiter – Love Inspired Historical #9 – Jun 08

A Cowboy’s Honor by Lois Richer – Love Inspired #441 – Apr 08

A Soldier’s Promise by Cheryl Wyatt – Love Inspired #430 - Jan 08

A Soldier’s Family (Wings of Refuge) by Cheryl Wyatt Love Inspired #438 – Mar 08

A Passion Most Pure (Daughters of Boston) by Julie Lessman Revell Books 2008

Falling for Mr. Dark & Dangerous by Donna Alward Harlequin Romance #4044 – Aug 08

Her Wedding Wish (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 447 Jun 08

His Holiday Heart (The McKaslin Clan) by Jillian Hart Love Inspired 469 Nov 08

And to the authors who poured their hearts into these books, I thank you.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

I'm Blogging at Prairie Chicks Write Romance Today

Let me introduce my latest writing venture:

Four writing friends and I have started a new blog entitled:

Prairie Chicks Write Romance

We'll discuss everything to do with writing and our personal publication journeys.

Please join our discussion on New Year's Day for my inaugural post ‘Bring Your Novel to Life’ where I’ll blog about some of the problems I found bringing a historical novel to life.

Come check us Chicks out at:

http://prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/

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