Monday, December 31, 2007

Let's Chat Contest

Let's Chat!

To encourage you, dear readers, to leave comments and "Talk to me, please!" I 'm running a contest throughout the month of January. Here's the deal...

Every comment posted will count as one entry in the contest. Doesn't get any easier than that, does it?On February 1st I'll choose one entry completely at random. The winner will receive an autographed copy of my new novel, Vineyard Mambo, which releases on March 1st. I'll send the winner their copy of Vineyard Mambo from my first shipment of books, which will hopefully arrive just a few weeks after the contest ends. If the winner lives outside the U.S. the prize will be the download version of the book.

So, what do you say? Will you chat with me in January?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nominated for "Best Romance of 2007"

Finally, This Season

has been nominated for

"The Best Romance of 2007"

in the short ebook category by

The Long and the Short of It.

Voting begins January 1st.

Cast your vote here.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Come out, come out, wherever you are...

I know you're out there. You give yourselves away. You see, every month or so I stop blogging for a few days. Then, I wait. It doesn't take long before the emails begin to arrive. The "Where have you been?" emails. You know the ones. You write them.

Why do I do it? The no-blog days? Because sometimes I feel like I'm talking to myself here. Admittedly, talking to myself is something I'm...well, familiar with. Let's just leave it at that and move on, though, since my holding conversations with myself (outside of this blog, I mean) is not the topic we're discussing right now. No, the topic is you, and your reading this blog (for which I'm eternally grateful!) but not commenting. That's right, I know you're reading because my random no-blog days clue me right in to that fact. If you weren't reading, you wouldn't know I'm not blogging. See?

Tricky, aren't I?

Anyhow, the point of this random blog-reading experiment has been to see how many of you are actually reading. Quite a few, it turns out, which is something I find amazing but that, too, is the topic for another post.

Now that I know you're out there, I want to encourage you to interact with the rest of us. It's painless, I promise. Simply leave a comment. That's it. Just speak to us, partly so I know I'm not here talking to myself but mostly so others can hear your thoughts. I know you've got great things to say and I'd love it if you began to comment here.

Oh, and for those of you who comment regularly, I send huge cyberhugs. Thank you so much! It's rewarding to hear your thoughts, and I've met quite a few interesting people just through reader/writer interaction. Now, the rest of you need to speak up. I know you're know I'm here...what are you waiting for?

A new year is nearly upon us. January 1st I've got a contest beginning right here on my blog. You'll have a daily chance to enter this contest. How? I'll tell you on Tuesday. But it will be a painless process, I promise. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Big Sigh

Of relief. I can hear it. Can't you? A great big whoosh of air, a collective groan, a settling back into the normalcy of everyday life after the frantic holiday madness.

A welcome sound, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Buon Natale

Buon natale.
Augurandovi tutti gli amore,
laughter e blessings della stagione,
dalla nostra sede ad il vostro.

Merry Christmas.
Wishing you all the love,
laughter and blessings of the season,
from our home to yours.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad

Guess what I'm doing today? Gotta have something for the Big Man to munch on when he visits, don't I?

Sugar Cookies

3 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Stir in lightly beaten egg, vanilla and cream.
4. On a floured surface, roll out dough. Cut into shapes. Place on ungreased baking sheet.
5. Bake 7 minutes, or until lightly brown

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Songs

I love music. Love most holiday songs, even the Chipmunks. Not crazy about country western, but won't turn the radio off if one of those cry-in-the-cowboy's-beer songs comes on. Well, not most of the time, I won't.

But there's one song that bugs me. Always has. I suspect it always will. It's playing constantly, and every time I hear it I cringe. What is it? Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Yeah, I know. I can hear you all screeching, slamming your fists and pulling out your hair. I know, everyone likes that song. But not me. I don't like it. It creeps me out. Has since I was a kid. Sorry to disappoint everyone, but it's the plain unvarnished truth.

Oh. Why don't I like it?

He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake.

Now come on, doesn't that seem creepy to anyone else? Ugh, just thinking of it gives me the shudders.

I don't like it. And don't even get me started on the one holiday movie I absolutely cannot stand. We'll be here for an hour if I even begin to talk about that.

Happy Sunday, everyone. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Buying Books by the Boatload

Say that five times fast.

Yesterday I ran out to pick up some books. A bunch of books. From two lines, all the new titles from each of the two lines. It's research, which any writer will understand. I'm figuring out what makes each of these titles appropriate for these lines. Then, I'm going to make sure what I'm submitting falls into the publishers' criteria for publishing. Just research. To make a long story short, I had a pile of books when I got to the cashier who was a young man. His brows lifted. He looked at me, then the books, then back at me. He smiled, and began to scan.

"Like to read, huh?"

"I do."

"Huh. Never got into that, really. Is this what you read? Romance stuff?"

"Uh huh." I reached for my wallet, swallowing a snort of laughter. "It is."

The guy began to bag the books. "Huh. Wonder who writes this stuff, anyway?" He glanced at the register, which had finally stopped beeping. "That'll be $**."

I handed him the cash, smiling. "I do."

You know, the kid was speechless when he handed me my change. I know it was mean, but I smiled, hefted my bag and walked away, wondering how to adequately describe the wonderful, glowing shade of red he'd turned.

Fire engine? Candly apple? Tongue swallowing crimson? Santa's bloomers scarlet?

Still not giving in

to dismal, gray winter photos.

Feels like spring here to me...

Friday, December 21, 2007

Tying Up

Ha! Got your attention with that title, didn't I? I wonder what you all were thinking I planned to tie up? Hmm?

It's the year end loose ends tie up around here. I'm getting spreadsheets ready for the accountant, filing contracts and making sure my computer files are sorted properly. I'm making room for new work while dealing with the old stuff. Writing is a business, and like any other business I've got lots of threads to tie up if I expect my business to run smoothly. So, instead of writing, I've been busy tying thing up. It's satisfying, if tedious, work that I know will make my New Year begin on a higher note.

Not wonderfully exciting, but that's what I'm doing today. Happy Friday!

Pignoli Cookies

Last year at Thanksgivingtime I shared a recipe for Pignoli Cookies. I've been making these since my husband and I were first married and they've always been a favorite in our house. Recently I've gotten a couple of emails asking if I'd share the recipe again, so here it is. :)

Pignoli Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 3tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup pine nuts

Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg. Add the flour and mix just until blended.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Shape the dough into an 8-inch-long log. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough log crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices. Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets. Press the pine nuts into the tops of the cookies. Bake about 15 minutes, until lightly golden.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Book Utopia's Favorite Heroine of 2007... Elinor Montoya, the character from my debut novel, Snowdance!

Reading that Elinor has been chosen as the heroine who was this reviewer's favorite was a heart-stopping moment for me. Really, truly, an almost fall-off-my-seat moment!

You see, I peek in at Book Utopia every morning. Yesterday (apparently before the Best Heroines of 2007 List was posted) I saw the beautiful covers that had been chosen for the Best Covers of 2007 List. I was pleased for everyone involved in those covers and books, and thought it was great they had been chosen.

This morning when I saw the list focused on heroines, I smiled. I never thought my book would be on the list. I just smiled because I was pleased for those who were chosen and honestly, curious to see who had been picked.

I saw Annie Dean's name, and thought I'd probably want to read that one. No doubt. Then, Karen Welss. I'm not familiar with her work but the cover and what was said about it makes me think I'll want to read that one, too. Then, as I scrolled down to First Runner-Up, I smiled again, thinking about how great it must feel to be on a list like this one. Someday, I thought. Maybe someday one of my books will make a list like this. Then I saw Friday Maxwell in Shadow Vision by Samantha Storm. What a great title! I knew I had to read this one, too, if only to see the spunky heroine for myself and read what comes after a title like that.

And then I scrolled all the way down. And my heart stopped. I swear, I think it did. Really, truly, it stopped, if only for a second.

This is what I saw:

And my favorite heroine of the books I reviewed this year is:

Elinor Montoya
in Snowdance by Sarita Leone
SNOWDANCE by Sarita Leone

Elinor has a slight advantage over other heroines I read this year. I was treated to reading about her entire life, and thus, got to know her far better than I did any other female character I read. I’m okay with the fact that maybe the dialogue wasn’t the most natural-sounding. I was in her head enough, and I got to see so many pivotal moments of her life, that she’s an old friend regardless. Thinking of her simply makes me smile.

Yes, it was a heart-stopping moment! I'm still shaking, but at least I can think again. Almost. I never, ever thought this would happen. Honestly, I'm still overwhelmed by the reader response, reviews and reactions Snowdance is getting. It's all good, and I love it that Elinor is touching the hearts and minds of readers. As a writer, that's all I ever hope to do--touch readers, one word at a time.

Thank you for this honor, Book Utopia. I am overwhelmed, completely thrilled.

Congratulations too, Annie, Karen and Samantha! I look forward to reading these books, and meeting their heroines! It feels great to be in such talented company!

The full post can be found here.

I'm going to see if I can try and make my hands stop shaking. Maybe I'll be able to eventually wipe the grin from my face. Maybe not.

If you see me today, I'll be the scarfless, grinning one. :)

Christmas Round Robin

I got a lovely surprise when I read my email this morning. Marianne, from Long and Short Reviews, wrote to let me know my submission to their December Round Robin story has been selected as this week's installment! How much fun is that?

The first three parts of the story are here. The last installment will come next week, so check back to see how it all ends!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scarves, and the average-sized neck

From The Free Dictionary:

scarf 1 (skärf)
n. pl. scarfs (skärfs) or scarves (skärvz)
1. A long piece of cloth worn about the head, neck, or shoulders.
2. A decorative cloth for covering the top of a piece of furniture; a runner.
3. A sash indicating military rank.
tr.v. scarfed, scarf·ing, scarfs
1. To dress, cover, or decorate with or as if with a scarf.
2. To wrap (an outer garment) around one like a scarf.

There are other meanings, some very surprising (at least to me! Who knew scarf could have a sexual connotation? Live and learn...) and others more ordinary. I won't elaborate further here, but you can follow the link if you're interested. Me, this is the definition I need, the scarf I'm currently contending with. At odds over, actually.

You see, it's cold here in the northeast. We're fully into coat, hat, glove and scarf season. But I confess, I have a problem. My neck isn't long enough to comfortably accomodate a scarf. Now don't get the wrong impression! I assure you, I have an average-sized neck. It's these scarves! Has anyone noticed just how fat they are? How on earth am I supposed to wrap one of these gigantic things around my neck without feeling smothered?

I'm not. I refuse to be consumed by a length of fabric. I must be the only one rebelling against the wide scarf issue, or WSI as I like to call it, because everywhere I go I see people wrapped, bundled, swathed (and probably half-strangled!) by scarves of every color. I can't do it. I just can't do it, I tell you. It'll be a cold day in, well, you know where, before I allow an article of clothing to separate my head from my body or smother me while I walk from house to car. Nope, I can't do it.

If you're in my neck of the woods, I hope you take a moment to say hi. I'll be the one with the frozen, unwrapped neck.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I think writers are some of the most voracious readers around. At least, I know I am. I practically inhale books, especially when I'm taking a little break from my own writing, like I am now. Too, we've had perfect winter reading weather: ice, followed by snow, then some more ice, a wee bit of wet, rainy yuck, then snow again. And now we've got wind. Big, loud, howling wind that blows the snow around and obscures any hope of seeing what's in front of you. Yeah, it's a great time for staying indoors, curling up beside the fireplace and reading. And that's exactly what I've been doing.

What am I reading? Well, the Christmas books, of course. A Christmas Carol, the stack of romantic holiday books I keep stashed in my bedside table, The Autobiography of Santa Claus and How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas, both by Jeff Guinn and a few others that I reread every season. I love holiday stories, even though they're all essentially the same. I mean, really, the Grinch is always saved, isn't he? Still, I like 'em.

Today, after we clear the new snow from our drive (only to watch it thrown back in by the wind, I'm sure) I'm going to deviate from the holiday reading schedule and dive into In Her Bed by Deborah MacGillivray. I was lucky enough to win an autographed copy a while ago and I've been keeping it in my desk drawer. Looks like today will be the perfect sort of day for reading warm, sultry romance. It might be cold outside but I've got a feeling this afternoon will be very warm here, LOL!

Like I said, writers, they love to read. Especially this one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Just stubborn

I know everyone else is talking about the snowstorm in the northeast. They're posting snow pix and the buzzword is blizzard.

Me? I guess I'm just stubborn.
This morning I'm posting photos, too. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

So many words, so little time

I have been taking a short break from writing. Since I finished my NaNo novel I've just been sort of coasting. I did write a short story and I did put the finishing touches on a novella but aside from those little bits, I've avoided writing. Why? Because I know that if I don't steer clear of the keyboard I just may begin working on something new. Something big. Something that requires a commitment of at least a few weeks. Something like, um, another novel. And really, I don't want to do that. No new novels before the end of the year.

No new novels before the end of the year. No new...

My plan is to begin the New Year with an empty plate. Then I'm going to sit back, think long and hard and decide what I'm going to write next. I know, it's not like me to think before I jump but this time that's what I'm going to do. I think. I hope. Um...maybe.

Anyhow, I'm loving this down time. Have been doing oodles of pleasure reading. Very relaxing, with Christmas carols playing, the scent of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air and snow falling outside my window. You know, I think I could get used to this whole avoid-the-computer thing. For a while at least. Like, until January 1st. Then, all bets are off.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

First there was ice

Now there's snow. In a big way. The latest round of wild weather in upstate New York began about an hour ago and we easily have an inch on the roads already. It is gorgeous and makes me feel even more festive that I already feel (which, believe me, is very festive indeed!)

Gotta love winter. My hubby and I are hoping there will be enough snow for us to go nighttime snowshoeing later on. Until then, we're going to be busy setting up the Christmas tree. It's the third tree we're putting up this year, by the way. Yeah, really festive here! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Can't help but wonder

where this little guy is now? Our world is slicked with ice and I just wonder, what happens to the Jiminy Crickets? Anyone know?

Monday, December 10, 2007

The times, they are...


I remember one time when I was six or seven, I came home from school and asked my mother, "Mom, what does *** mean?"

Her eyes widened. Swallowing a grin, she said, "Where did you hear that word?"

"School. What does *** mean?" Yes, I was brash enough to say it twice, even though I knew it was naughty.

"It's not a very nice word. We'll discuss it another time. Just don't say it, and especially not in front of your father."

Well, the two hours between this conversation and dinnertime gave me plenty of time to ponder *** and its implications.

Dinnertime was going smoothly, until I opened my big mouth.

"We had a spelling quiz today."

"How did you do?" Father asked.

"Good. I got 'em all right. *** wasn't on the quiz, though."

Choking down his meatloaf, my father looked at my mother and sputtered, "Did you hear what she said?"

My mother nodded. Then, they both tried to keep straight faces. Finally, my father said, "Don't say that. It's not a nice word."

That was then. This is now.

Yesterday morning I nearly choked during my morning phone conversation with my mother.

"Honey, what does *** mean?"

Struggling not to spew coffee from my nose, I asked, "Where did you hear that word?"

"Shopping. I know its regular meaning, but I think there may be another one. So, what does *** mean?" Yes, she was brash enough to say it twice.

I explained, as delicately as I could, what ***'s slang meaning meant. Then, I said, "It's not a very nice word. I don't think you should say that, and especially not in front of, um, anyone. Just don't say it, Mom."

The times, they are a-changin'.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

What have I been reading?

I've just finished Nora Roberts' Blood Brothers. Yowza! Now that is a side of NR I hadn't seen before. I've got to be honest--I loved it. This book is the first in a trilogy and I can't wait for the second one to come out. Yeah, it was that good.

Now to begin A Christmas Carol. Uh's the season. :)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


I don't know if this happens to other authors or not. I only know it happens to me.

When I finish a big project (like the November NaNo novel) or a couple of shorter things written back-to-back (like the two short stories I wrote and subbed last week) I have an interval directly following that we call the daydreaming phase. It's like my head shuts down. I walk around daydreaming, almost like I'm recharging. No writing, just daydreaming. Random pieces of plots, wisps of new characters, snippets of dialogue...they float in random waves through my head.

Do you think this happens to everyone?, maybe I'm just strange.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Big sigh, it's December... of my favorite months. Oh, who am I kidding? I like 'em all! But December, with its holiday craziness, baking, snow, music and Christmas Carol really makes my heart sing. Yes, I'm reading A Christmas Carol now, and loving it, as always. That Ebeneezer really makes me laugh!

It feels great to have my NaNo novel behind me. I did it, again. No disputing the satisfaction that comes with having accomplished that. But I'm a trifle saddened, as well. No more NaNo novel? Not until next November? Yeah, that's a little sad--but I'll get over it!

Planning on taking some time off from writing until after the holidays. Stop it! Stop it! Right now! I can hear you all laughing! I mean it this time, I'm taking some time off. You'll see.

Happy December. This morning we have ice and snow. I love it. :)