Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Fairy Tale Comes True

    posted by Aunty Cindy

    Once upon a time, a very very long time ago, there lived a little dark-haired girl of Irish heritage who loved stories. When she didn’t have her nose buried in a book, which was actually most of the time, she made up stories for her own and her best friends’ amusement and/or amazement.

    This little girl secretly thought that the most wonderful thing in the world would be to write a book and have it on the shelf of the library or bookstore where anyone could read and enjoy it. But she knew that this could never happen to her, because authors were very special people who were not at all like the ordinary people all around her. So she kept writing her stories, mostly in secret, and dreaming.

    XX years (insert your favorite number between 20 and 90) passed, and the little girl grew up and had a family and a career. She still loved to read, and she could never quite give up her secret dream of writing. Also, somewhere along the line, the girl (now a woman and not so little) figured out that not all authors were up there on that very special pedestal. Some were real (if not quite ordinary) people just like her!

    Finally, unable to stand her Dreaded Day Job any longer, the not-so-little woman quit! Even though most of her co-workers thought she was crazy, she left her career to do what she had always loved most – WRITE STORIES! It paid far less than the Dreaded Day Job, but was much more fun and healthy.

    Like all good fairy tales, this one has a happy ending! Turns out that the not-so-little woman was pretty good at writing stories. She even finaled in a VERY BIG contest and made some of the most wonderful friends of her life. Eventually, after X years (insert your fave number between 3 and 4), a real live editor called the not-so-little writer and said, “I want to publish your Irish book.”

    The writer screamed, “Yes! YES! OMG YES! (much like her heroine did on page 157)” and then she proceeded to tell friends, family and everyone she knew (and plenty she did not know) that she would soon be A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! It was just a matter of waiting a few hundred days for her book to be on the shelves.

    So our not-so-little author and all her friends (and even some people she didn’t know) waited and waited for the day when the Irish book, now titled The Wild Sight: an Irish tale of deadly deeds and forbidden love to appear on the bookstore shelves.


    The author (that would be ME) and all her friends (that would be all of YOU)


    Dreams and even fairy tales can come true!

    Please help your olde Aunty celebrate the release of her debut novel The Wild Sight. And share with us about one of your dreams that came true.

    One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of The Wild Sight, and another will receive a box of chocolates filled with Bailey’s Irish Crème!

    PARTY HARDY EVERYONE!!!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Monday, September 29, 2008

Coming in October

    by Nancy

    Wow, it's hard to believe we're already moving into October. We have a wonderful month coming up in the Lair! In addition to our usual bandita blogs, we have fabulous guests coming.

    We kick off with a bang and a squee! as our very own Aunty Cindy, known to the reading public as Loucinda McGary, launches her debut romantic suspense novel, The Wild Sight, which earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly. We hope you'll all join the party on October 1.

    Kensington author Delilah Marvelle, whose debut novel, Mistress of Pleasure, was just released, joins Kirsten Scott on October 2.

    Dorchester author Gerri Russell guests with Nancy on October 6. Gerri will discuss her recent trip to Scotland and celebrate the release of her third Scottish historical romance, Warrior's Lady.

    Sourcebooks Casablanca publicist Danielle Jackson guests with Aunty Cindy on October 7. She'll be glad to answer questions from commenters about promotion and pubicity.

    Denise Rosetti, who writes hot romances for Berkley, Avon, and Ellora's Cave, chats with Christine Wells about one of our favorite subjects, heroes, on October 16.

    Medical romance author Fiona Lowe joins Anna Campbell on October 19 to discuss her latest release, The Playboy Doctor's Marriage Proposal.

    Western historical author Tracy Garrett chats about her latest release, Touched by Love, with Suzanne Welsh on October 27.

    We may have one or two other guests. Stay tuned for further developments!

    In addition to all the fun we plan to have here in the lair, we're also spotlighting contests offered on bandita websites. Highlights are:

    **Win an advance review copy of Anna Campbell's January release, Tempt the Devil by visiting Anna's website at website and answer a simple question to be in the running.

    **Nancy Northcott's first contest is open, with three of categories of prizes to be awarded in an end-of-year drawing. To enter, subscribe to Nancy's newsletter at her website and email Nancy with your category preference.

    **Trish Milburn is running a contest, "Where in the World is a Firefighter in the Family," to celebreate her debut release. Information is on Trish's website

    Rules are simple:
    1. Buy a copy of A Firefighter in the Family.
    2. Have someone take your photo digitally with your copy of the book.
    3. E-mail it to Trish at triciamillsbooks AT yahoo DOT com.
    4. Let her know where you bought it.

    She'll be featuring some of the photos on her blog. On Oct. 9, she'll draw at random from the entrants to win the following: A signed advanced reading copy of her first young adult title, Heartbreak River; a box of Godiva chocolates; a $20 gift card to Barnes & Noble; and a day dedicated to you on her blog.Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Websites and blogs and social networks, oh my!

    by Tawny

    Do you spend a lot of time on the net? I do. Probably too much, to be honest. Unless I’m in the writing cave, the first thing I do in the morning –after getting my tea- is check my email. I get my news from the net, socialize on the net and critique via email. I’m pretty well addicted. A few years ago, my husband gave me an Axim (handheld computer) for a gift and I was thrilled!!

    Anywhere that had wireless, I could get the net and check email. Ahhhhh... But then we realized that even traveling to places that say they have wireless, it wasn’t always available. Long road trips were a little shaky, let me tell ya. Then I found the Palm – a phone with internet capability built in. Ahhhhhhh. No more net-less-ness. I’m a happy camper!!!

    So like any good little internet addict who is a promoting author, I have a website. I have a MySpace page (which my daughter and teenage nephew run for me –I’m so clueless) and someone recently told me I HAVE TO Twitter. Then there’s Facebook, Shelfari, Goodreads, etc etc etc. Social networking, ya know? (No, I don’t know. I still don’t understand it *sigh*)

    It made my addicted self go pale and grimace. What on earth does one do with all those things? I mean, I have a basic handle on the website and blogging, but the rest? It makes my head spin thinking about trying to learn how to use all those networks, and even more it makes my stomach hurt thinking of the time investment.

    So... I’m bringing the question here and figured you all could help me out by answering a few questions *g*

    Do you go to author websites – and if so, what keeps you going back?

    Obviously you check out blogs since you’re here in the Lair –but what is it about a blog that keeps you hooked?

    Social networks... Which ones and why? Do you do the social network thing? Which one/s and why that particular choice? And do you Twitter (and can you explain to me what on earth that is?)

    And last but not least... What hooks you on a site/blog/network? What makes it appealing and sticky (ie: keeps you coming back)?

    As thanks for helping me navigate these baffling questions, I’ll draw a name it win a copy of Risque Business.
    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Chaos-self induced or otherwise

    By Suzanne Welsh
    Sometimes, life just gets in our way. Sometimes, we get in the way of life.

    Things have been a little crazy around me lately. Part of it I have no control over, some of it I've done to myself.

    Nine months ago it was winter. People were cold. They snuggled up. Guess what? That leads to more babies born in the months of July-October. (Statistical fact based on three decades of L&D nursing by me!) So I always know I'm going to be working harder and more hours at the night job. Busy!! And on top of that, it's summer to early autumn, which leads to sick moms and sick babies...Extra busy!! (But NOT my fault.)

    A couple of years ago my good friend and CP talked me into running for President-elect of our Dallas Area Romance Authors, (thanks Sandy!). Duh, that meant that I'd have to be chapter president. So, since January of this year, they let me be in charge of a large chapter and all the responsibilities it involves. (Yep, they're crazy...and it's only partially my fault! I only ran for office, THEY elected me!)

    In 2006 I had a "What the hell" moment, something I'm want to do cyclically, and sent three manuscripts to the Golden Heart contest. Dang....two of them finalled. Whoohoo! But even better, I met this core group of fantastic women. Writers who were as determined as me to ride the wave of PR, make a name for ourselves, and start a blog to promote ourselves and our writing. Yep, the josh hasrey were born! I adore reading the blogs, commenting on them, writing them and interviewing guests. But it does take time and thought. (Yep, this one is my fault!)

    Christmas holidays are coming up. I adore fall, but every year I start thinking early about the "special projects" I'd like to do for my kids. One I've decided to do this year involves scrapbooking for one of them. Very time consuming, but in the end, it should be a real tears-rolling-down-the-cheek moment for us. So I'll add that to the pile! Then there's the baking, the parties, the gifts...(Okay, this one is my fault, too...adding more to my plate!)

    In the fall I get the urge to head north to Ohio. Now many of you may think it's because of the season and the fall colors on the trees. Well, sort of. I do enjoy the colors, but it has more to do with the change in temperature, the cool rainy days, heck, I even miss the drizzly days that requires a fire in the fireplace! So in the midst of all this craziness, I plan a trip home to see my parents. (This one is my fault, too...but necessary for my own peace of mind!)

    And then there's the writing. I always write two stories and edit a third at the same time. Crazy? Maybe, but it's MY process. And all three projects have to be different sub genres or time periods. Apparently my brain LOVES to multi-task. (Is this my fault, well, maybe, maybe not.)

    Amidst all this chaos there's hope. A light at the end of the tunnel. (Please God don't let it be a train heading right for me...) October is almost here, which means the baby boom will slow down a bit, hopefully. The moms won't be quite as sick, hopefully. My tenure as chapter president will come to an end. The trip home is planned and will renew my spirits. The holidays, while crazy, are also fun. The writing, it's my sanity, so that's a constant for me.
    So what craziness is going on in your lives? What is self-induced? Projects you've volunteered to do? Family obligations you can't put aside? Is there a light at the end of your tunnel?Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baby It's Cold Outside

    by Susan Seyfarth

    I'm obsessed with insulation.

    I know. Weird, right? I've been living in this house for almost ten years now, & while the heating bills in the deepest, darkest heart of winter can be a little steep, they're not impossible. January always stings but no worse than the year before. We budget for it & we're fine.

    But my husband had a boys night out last weekend & when he arrived home at nearly 3 a.m., I was still sitting in front of the computer googling geothermal heat pumps & pellet stoves. And then I laid awake for the rest of the night fretting about unsealed joist spaces, uninsulated kneewalls (don't ask) & the fact that my bathroom fans apparently vent directly into the insulation in my attic rather than out the roof as god intended.

    But as I said, this is nothing new. My house has been in exactly this condition for the previous nine winters & we have survived handily. Ice does not form in the toilet bowls overnight & we have not yet had to twist hay into sticks to burn in the stove for warmth, a la Laura Ingalls Wilder.

    So what's going on, you ask? Why the obsession with insulation?

    I think it's because I'm in the middle of writing a new book. I'm in the middle & I'm terrified.

    The middle is a scary place . The middle is where the fun beginning is over & the awesome, crackerjack ending hasn't yet begun. It's the part where all those wonderfully inventive seeds you sowed at the beginning have to do the hard work of becoming that incredible ending they have the potential for. Only now you can't remember exactly how all those dots were supposed to connect. You can't see your way anymore, & you're lost & afraid. You think, "This is it. I used up all my talent on my previous books. I'm finished."

    So I'm in that dark place professionally. Then I look outside & see that the world is a dangerous place & the economy is perilously close to the crapper. Is it any wonder that I'm feeling the need to control something? Heck, anything.

    So okay, what are my choices? As a stay at home mom, about the only things in my world that fall under my direct control are my writing (not going well; see above), my kids (who, it should be noted, are not all that controllable) & my house.

    Which explains why I'm obsessed with battening down the hatches for the coming season of hardship. Winter is bearing down on me & I don't feel any more prepared for it than I do to write the rest of this book. So I'm cracking down hard on the only thing under my control. And googling the crap out of alternative energy. And writing into the void on pure faith that something will turn up.

    Something always does.

    So what about you? What do you do when you're afraid? What do you grab hold of when the world seems to be spinning out of control? A bowl of ice cream? The remote control? A romance novel? Insulation? Tell me about your geothermal heat pump & your solar panels! Come on. Somebody's got them, right? Fess up! Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Roads Not Taken

    by Nancy

    This is not actually about Robert Frost, though his poem, with its image of roads diverging "in a snowy wood" has always spoken to me. Life is full of choices. Roads diverge all the time, and each road taken leads into events and possibilities that exclude other events and possibilities.

    My very first career choice, so far as I can remember, was nursing. I was in first grade or so, and this choice endured until I found out about the blood thing. I'm not squeamish about dealing with blood, exactly. I'm just not keen on it. And I hated getting shots, so giving them would be, well, less than cool.

    About the time I was rejecting my first career choice, somewhere around third grade, I discovered Greek mythology. The school library had the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I fell in love with the art and the legends. I also loved their Norse mythology volume. All things Greek fascinated me. When I wasn't mooning over knights in olde England or warriors in medieval Scotland (our family can torturously trace our lineage back to the Bruce), I was thinking about Greeks. Odysseus. Aeneas. Penelope. I did notice that, apart from the Amazons (yay, Wonder Woman!) and the goddesses (yay, Athena and Artemis!), doing cool stuff in Greece was reserved to men. Since that was the way of the world at the time, I shrugged over it and went on, straight into an interest in archaeology. Then I found out about the bones thing--as in, digging up. Ooops, not for me! Another career choice shot down in flames. *sigh*

    I liked to draw. I was also a fairly girly girl, aside from liking superheroes and displaying serious geek tendencies, so I thought perhaps fashion design might be in my future. I sometimes remember this when I watch Project Runway. I'm so incredibly glad not to be in that industry now. My clothing taste is way too conservative for the market trends. However, this interest persisted until I was doing college visits and found out just how much chemistry I'd have to take to major in design. I finally settled on a history major, which fit right in with my geeky interests and ultimately, via a long and winding road, led me to teaching.

    After my freshman year in college, I transferred. I was thinking of waiting a year, but medical problems compounded my general unhappiness, so I made the jump. As a result, I met people whose influence led me to grad school and then law school and then to the man I eventually married, who nudged me into teaching. I also got to study Tudor and Stuart Britain at Oxford for a summer, one of the highlights of my life.

    I sometimes think, what if I hadn't transferred when I did? Or had gone somewhere else? What if I'd pursued archaeology or design? Where would I be? What would my life be like? Is there a me somewhere who actually wore that wide-brimmed white hat with the veil streaming down the back at her wedding? Or do all the me versions wear that white floral wreath veil?

    We make the same sorts of choices in writing. I've moved away from Restoration to medieval, but I may go back. I have lots of ideas for the period. I've also written a contemporary in first person. Will it sell? Will any of them? At this point, I have no idea. I hope so. Do I regret having written things that were not middle of the market? Not really. Sometimes doing something different recharges the batteries in important ways.

    I don't regret any of my choices, but if every choice creates, as some science fiction writers and scientists theorize, an alternate reality in which the choice not taken becomes the choice on which we act, then what kinds of realities have I spun off behind me? Which ones have you created?

    What sorts of choices have you made in life or in writing? Do you ever wonder where the other choice(s) would have led?

    Late Bandit Booty:

    I've been very bad about booty announcements this summer, so here are two that should catch me up. I apologize for the delays!

    The winner of Julie Kenner's prize, a copy of Deja Demon, is Tetewa!

    The winner of Gillian Summers' prize, a choice of either The Tree Shepherd's Daughter or Into the Wildewood, is Rebekah!

    Email me via the link at the top of the blog page, and I'll pass the information to the authors!Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Milan Fashion Week Spring 2009 Highlights

    Let’s take a glimpse on some of the highlights of Milan Fashion Week Spring 2009.

    Missoni Spring 2009 collection was comprised of different shades, tones and styles. The colour palette used in the collection is a combination of pink, gold, blue and yellow. Models walked the runway in palazzo pants, summer dresses, high-waisted straight skirts and silk blouses, accessorized with chunky belts. The evening gowns were embellished with studded detail, to give them added flair.

    Burberry Prorsum's Spring 2009 collection had an autumn/fall feel because it comes with shades of grey, brown, and bronze. The collection was made up of hats, Barbour-style hunting jackets, skinny cardigans, drop-waist dresses. Models were accessorized with oversized statement necklaces which Christopher also presented in his Fall 2008 collection.

    Prada's Spring 2009 collection was like the Fall 2008 lace collection, with cropped tops, bra tops and key hole dresses and crumpled pieces. Shrunken jackets had no fasteners except a tie at the neck. Open backs on cashmere jumpers were tied with cotton strings like hospital gowns. There were also sexy secretary silhouettes and python prints.

    Giorgio Armani Spring 2009 collection was full of luxe fabrics of organza and chiffon, with a color palette of light and pastel shades of sandy beige to sea shell brown. The designer presented a mixed collection of romantic above-the-knee dresses, ankle-length gowns, Bermuda shorts and slim pants. Signature pieces like tuxedo/blazers were given a modern touch, with asymmetrical buttoning. Dresses were either strapless or layered with petals.

    Emporio Armani Spring 2009 collection’s color palette includes navy and white, with shades of grey. The trousers picked up on the trend from New York Fashion Week, and were either cigarette pants or harem-inspired. Blouses and dresses were adorned with large statement necklaces.


    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I Made It Myself!

    By Kate

    I’m probably the least “crafty” person I know. I can’t paint. I can’t knit. I can’t scrapbook. (I’m not even sure what that means!)

    I tried to throw pots once but all I did was…well, threw pots. Like, across the room. Wet clay went everywhere. What a mess.

    I used to sew but I don’t do that anymore. I can’t even bake a pie.

    So when I sat down and tried to come up with a hook for a new mystery series, I knew it couldn’t be anything to do with crafts.

    I was a craft-free zone.

    Or so I thought. But then I remembered that I was actually good at making something crafty. Just one thing.

    I used to make books. Yes, make books. Anyone can write a book, but make a book? Ha!

    When I was a little girl, I used to make books all the time. I’d collect the cardboard inserts from my father’s laundered shirts, then cut them up, line them up with paper and punch holes, and tie it up with a pretty ribbon. I’d draw a picture on the outside cover, then give it to my mom or my grandmother or a girlfriend. I’m sure they rolled their eyes as I walked away. They were probably wondering where the story was, but my work was done. I just made the book. Someone else could write the story!

    Years later, I’d recall those rustic bookbinding skills and used them as a basis for selling my mystery series based on a bookbinder as the protagonist. Coincidence or destiny? You be the judge!

    These are photos of some of the books I've made and a bit of the process involved.

    Each of these books represents a different bookbinding technique.

    This flowery cloth is unusual, and the threads used to sew the paper to the cover are braided to create a natural bookmark.

    These linen strips are sewn to the pages and keep them all together. Then the strips are stuck under the endpapers and glued to the book itself.

    So that's my craft. What's yours? I know there are lots of other amazingly crafty people here in the Lair, so tell me about the arts and crafts you love. Any knitters out there? How about that scrapbooking thing? Or crochet? Photography? Painting? Tell us what gets you crafty. I’ve got a $15 Amazon gift certificate to give away to one random commenter today! Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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The Magic of Fashion with Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) @ Harper’s Bazaar October 2008 Issue

    The U.K.'s top designers show Harry Potter's brightest girl, Emma Watson a.k.a Hermione Granger, how to cast a sartorial spell in the upcoming October 2008 issue of Harper's Bazaar. Check out some of the bewitching spreads as Emma got styled by Alexander McQueen, Christopher Bailey, Viviene Westwood, Marios Schwab, Philip Treacy, Matthew Williamson, and Giles Deacon.


    Source URL: http://castleofrock.blogspot.com/2008/09/
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