Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wrangling Frogs

The ducks were easier.

But only because they're finished. It's while you're rounding them up that they seem so difficult. Now I sit back and think, "Ducks? Get 'em in a row? Easy. Piece of cake."

Frogs? Different story.

The chapter eight frog -- who took his own sweet time showing up -- was an absolute angel when he got here. It's chapter nine who is cutting up rough and making me nuts. So I've taken him to task and we've had a long chat.

I even brought in a frog counselor to discuss his errant ways with him. Now we've figured out his issues -- he has to learn to trust -- and I am hoping we can go on from here.

Actually I'm confident we can go on from here. I have my airline ticket to prove it. So excuse me while I go finish the book. I'll be back when I have.

In the meantime, think positive things about frogs on the march.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Not quite Missing-in-Action

He's here!

Chapter Eight has put in appearance and I know why he was gone. He's The Love Scene. And of course he was a little embarrassed to be doing his thing in public, as it were.

So he very circumspectly waiting until I, too, discovered what was going to happen in Chapter Eight -- and then he deigned to show up.

Today we've been finishing up Chapter Eight and both the frog and Seb and Neely are pleased. Little do they know that Chapter Nine will send everything sliding right downhill again. As it does, of course, when the Black Moment arrives.

Chapter Nine, eager to be of help, turned up early to prove to me that all was not well that seemed well (provided S&N actually got that far). And justified, he's now gone out to lunch while Eight and I get things sorted and polished up. Ten, of course, is rubbing his flippers together and saying, "All's well that end's well," and other such platitudes.

Except I'm inclined to agree. Not only that, but it looks like they'll be packing their bags and heading off to Richmond right on time. Bless their amphibious little hearts.

I'm packing my bags, too. Though I must say that I was a bit annoyed today when the airline sent me an email telling me that if I wanted to take a second bag it was going to cost me $25 extra dollars.

What's up with that? First they take away food. And now they charge us more for luggage? Not that I was planning on taking two bags anyway -- I'm only going for four days -- but it's the principle of the thing.

These are the same people who, when we were coming home from our son's wedding, couldn't see fit to send a second crew to our departure airport when they knew the first crew who'd arrived the night before were required to have eight hours off before they could fly again and that all of us would miss our connections.

Remind me again why I'm flying with them? Oh, yeah. Cheap airfares. Well, not so cheap apparently.

Or maybe I'm just testy because of my almost but not quite finished book which is in the throes of The Love Scene (and while Chapter Eight did his bit by showing up, now I have to do my bit and write the blinkin' thing). Ah, but there is the granddaughter at the end of it.

Definitely at that point all will be well.

# # # #

If you haven't already been to The Pink Heart blog for Temptation Tuesday, stop by. I'm blogging there (it's already up because it's Tuesday in half the world already). Post a comment (you guys know how to do that). Win a copy of Spence and Sadie's book.

Or just say hi and tell me where you'd go to "get away from it all."

You all know where I'm going!

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

GBGA -- This Week's Winner

This week's winner of the Great Book Give-Away is Lidia!

Congratulations, Lidia! And thanks to all the rest of you who commented this week!

Lidia gets the five books promised, but if Dina, Ellen, KimW, Mads, Mags, and Christa will also go to my website, hit the "contact Anne" tab and send me a mailing address, I'll send along a book for each of you as well. Some of you have won earlier, but all of you have been faithful in the extreme. Thank you for that.

So, send me your address and I'll send you a book from the GBGA bag.

Today I went to my genealogical conference which was excellent. Colleen Fitzpatrick spoke on "forensic genealogy." It's fascinating and she has a really interesting website if you're interesting in taking investigative skills and such to the genealogical and local history front.

I'm blown away by some of the information she can get out of a photograph or a database.

In life on the writing front, tomorrow the MIA Chapter Eight frog will be making his appearance at last.

I know now why he's been missing so long. I don't want to spook him, though, so I'm not commenting until he's here and things are under control.

Gunnar says thanks for the treats to everyone who entered. He hopes we'll do it again -- soon.

And I hope you'll keep coming back and commenting anyway because it's not as much fun talking to myself.

They're predicting a 50% chance of snow tonight. Good grief!

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Friday, April 25, 2008

The Last of GBGA IV

We're most of the way through the bag of books now. I have some that will be more appropriate come Christmas, and a few others that I'll give away as time goes on, but this will be our last week of the Great Book Give-Away for now.

In June I'll be away for a week, so maybe I can do my posts ahead of time and give away books that week.

Anyway, for now, the last, but certainly not the least of the Great Books is Ginna Gray's In Search of Dreams, a Silhouette Special Edition. I tend, you may have noticed, not to read a lot of category series books.

Well, I read some, but mostly I try to read outside the field I write in. But I have long made an exception for Ginna Gray. Ginna writes from the heart. Her characters always touch an emotional chord for me. Plus she writes about the west, and that's always a draw.

In Search of Dreams tells the tale of J. T. Conway and Kate Mahoney. It's been so long since I read it that I can't tell you the details at all. But I know it touched me because I've hung onto it for nearly eight years!

So there you have this week's group:
  • Morrigan's Cross by Nora Roberts
  • Charming Grace by Deborah Smith
  • Four In Hand by Stephanie Laurens
  • Promise Me Tomorrow by Candace Camp
  • In Search of Dreams by Ginna Gray
Make a comment sometime this week and Gunnar will find a treat with your name on it. If you are the first one he picks, you get the books.

He thinks we should keep this going indefinitely. He says there are still waaaaaay too many books in this house and he'd be happy to find them new homes -- particularly if treats are involved.

I say, enough. For now.

I need to focus on Seb and Neely's frogs this week. The missing in action Chapter Eight is about to hop into view (I hope). And tomorrow I'm going to a genealogical conference which should be fun -- and instructive. So I need to focus.

Stay tuned. Gunnar will be back tomorrow night with the winner.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Long Time Favorite

Back in the dark ages -- well, the 1980s -- when I was first getting started reading -- and writing -- romances, I found a few authors whose books were automatic reads.

One of the earliest among them was Candace Camp, who at the time was writing historicals as Lisa Gregory and contemporaries as Kristen James. It didn't matter what she wrote, I read it. And I loved them all.

To my way of thinking her Kristen James book, The Sapphire Sky, is one of the best contemporary single title romances of all time. I read it often, and it never loses its intensity or its charm. And Nick, ne'er-do-well that he is, is one of my favorite heroes.

And her Rainbow Season, written as Lisa Gregory, is probably in my top three all-time favorite historicals.

Dynamite books, emotional blockbusters, both of them. She's well worth watching out for. And she's now written fifty or so more terrific books.

One of them is Promise Me Tomorrow. Writing now under her own name, Candace Camp, she tells the story of beautiful thief, Marianne Cotterwood, and Justin, Lord Lambeth, the man who is trying to figure her out.
Promise Me Tomorrow is a delightful book of engaging characters and secrets galore.

Do you have favorites from years ago that you go back to? Which are they?

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Regency Romp

I love regency novels. Of course Jane Austen is a favorite -- particularly Persuasion and, of course, Pride and Prejudice, though I've never felt the same warmth for Emma.

I'm also extremely fond of Georgette Heyer and have a collection of the new Arrow editions of her books (which are not in my bag of 'finding new homes for'). Sorry about that.

But today's book is a delightful regency romp by talented, clever, witty NYT-Bestselling author, Stephanie Laurens, called Four In Hand.

And no, she's not referring to horses.

The title refers to the four stunningly attractive, perfectly delightful Twinning sisters -- including the irresistible Caroline -- whose guardianship it befalls Max Rotherbridge, the Duke of Twyford, to inherit.

Max, a regency rake of the first order, is not given to "guarding" women's virtue. He would very much like to bed, not wed, the delectable Caroline. But even a rake like Max knows that isn't in the cards.

On the contrary, it's his duty to protect her from men such as himself. It's his duty to protect all the Twinning sisters from unprincipled men and bad alliances. Max has his work cut out for him.

I found Four in Hand to be absolutely delightful. If you like regency romps, I'll bet you like this one.

# # # #
Lovely HM&B medical author Margaret McDonogh has just sent me a picture of a frog she stumbled across.

She says that, given the look on his face, he could be my Missing In Action Frog #8.

Margaret has a good eye for resemblances. It is my frog indeed. Though why he also reminds me of Jack Nicholson, I'm hard pressed to say.

Oh, and IF I get my book done by May 1, I get to go to visit youngest grandchild who is now crawling like a Marine from room to room. Such a talented girl.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Brick Walls and Mazes

No, I'm not talking about writing novels, though I could be.

There are times when writing Sebastian and Neely's story has felt like I've been wandering around in a maze, and that the only way out is to scale over a brick wall, but someone keeps moving it!

Fortunately it wasn't like that today. Today Seb and Neely and I had a very good day, and I've left them happily liplocked for the moment while I come over here to announce that today's book is a hardcover copy of Charming Grace by the talented amazing Deborah Smith.

If you have read Deborah's books, you already know how great she is and you need no introduction. If you haven't, you should. And Gunnar will try to see that you win this week because Deborah is an amazing writer. Charming Grace is an amazing book.

Grace is dealing with enough pain in her life for any ten women -- most of it suffered when her dearly beloved husband Harp was killed in the line of duty as a member of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation while protecting a hospital's patients from a killer. Harp is a hero -- and someone wants to make a movie of his life.

Grace is not thrilled. And she's even less thrilled when she comes face to face with the man making the film and his bodyguard/sidekick/enforcer ex-con buddy, Boone. Grace has issues. Boone has issues.

And Deborah Smith does inter-personal "issues" better than anyone. She never skims the surface of her characters. They are real and flesh and blood, and if you look closely you can see them bleed on the page.

I love her books because she doesn't shy away from tough stuff. Smith's characters never get to take the easy way out. You will laugh with them, cry with them, and cheer for them to find their happy ending. And chances are it won't be exactly the ending you expect.

Great book. Comment this week and get in the drawing.

I spent the day when I wasn't with Seb and Neely preparing and then giving a talk on Brick Wall Ancestors and various ways to trick them into telling you what you need to know about them. It's surprisingly like writing, really. You have to sneak up on them, come at them from where they least expect it. And never give up.

It works lots of the time -- for both genealogy and writing books.

And thanks to all who asked, the frogs are mustering. Making great efforts to get themselves properly aligned before send-off. Of course frog # 8 is still MIA, but I have hopes he'll turn up shortly.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Here We Go Again!

For the fourth week (and we're about halfway through the book bag) I've got books to give away to a lucky reader -- or someone willing to bribe Gunnar with treats.

This week starts off with the inimitable Nora Roberts and the first book of her Circle Trilogy, Morrigan's Cross.

As more books of Nora's have become part myth, part legend, part relationship and romance, so it is with Morrigan's Cross, which begins with the hero Hoyt on a quest. His quest takes him from 12th century Ireland to present day New York City. It involves all manner of mythic and legendary events.

I have enjoyed Nora's books for a lot of years -- and my favorites are the ones with less supernatural elements and greater emphasis on the characterization of 'regular people'. They are the ones I go back to over and over. Particularly, in this vein, I like Chesapeake Blue.

Morrigan's Cross
is a little more supernatural than I usually read, but it has many of the hallmark features of the best Nora Roberts books.

It might be exactly your cup of tea. Certainly the interplay between the characters is vintage Nora and not to be missed.

If you are this week's winner, let me know what you think.

To get entered in the drawing, just make a comment this week. Gunnar has rumpled all the comment papers so much that I'm starting anew. So if you are interested in being part of his treats ritual and having a chance for this book and four others, including one by the fabulous Deborah Smith, jump in.

Ellen mentioned frogs and Michelle wanted to know how they are going -- pretty well, thank you. But some are still Missing In Action and they'd better show up in their dress greens by the end of the month.

That's when they board the email for Richmond and the editor. I'd hate to leave any of them out! The ed would probably hate it, too. I am having trouble imagining what she'd say if I sent in a book with no chapter eight because number 8 frog had declined to appear.

# # # #

And for the reader from Venezuela who asked about Sentimientos Equivocados, Lo siento pero no se come se llama este libro en ingles. Y no tengo el libro aqui para mirarlo y descubrir quienes son los caracteres. Si lo supiera, podia decirle algo sobre ello, but hasta que aprenda cual es, no puedo ayudarle. Lo siento. (Siento tambien que no hay accentos que puedo usar en escribir este blog. Y favor de disculparme los errores en espanol.)

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gunnar's Pick!

Gunnar and The Prof have come up with another winner.

Of course you're all winners in my book, but this week's winner of the five book give-away is Patricia!

Congratulations, Patricia. Now you'll have more multi-tasking to do while you read all the books as well as do all the other stuff you have in your life!

Go to my website and hit the Contact Anne tab to send me your snail mail address and I'll post your books as soon as I can. Hope you enjoy them!

Gunnar says he wants to pick more winners because having to wait for Saturdays for his treats is getting old. But I like going to the post office once a week, so we shall see who persuades whom.

Anyway, starting on Monday there will be a new set of books for this week (while Gunnar and I negotiate)

In the meantime I'm trying to get Seb and Neely out of the gate. They have less than two weeks to get all their frogs in a row (we've gone off ducks this year. It's the year of the frog hereabouts -- which is appropriate seeing as how the back yard has been a swamp since the snow cleared off). So wish them luck. The frogs are hopping every which way at the moment.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

GBGA -- end of week III

I feel like I'm writing sequels here with these acronymns and roman numerals. But that's shorthand for Great Book Give-Away and, obviously, the last of week three.

As I had trouble getting to my books this week I've been slacking and haven't given you daily updates. Sorry. Next week more of the furniture will be back in the bedroom and out of my office, presumably allowing me to actually get at the books.

In the meantime, the last two books for this week's give-away are Scandal's Daughter, the terrific first novel by yet another fabulous Australian writer, Christine Wells, and the inimitable Stephanie Bond's mystery/comedy/romance/whatever, I Think I Love You.

In Scandal's Daughter, Sebastian Laidley, is your rather typical regency rake, but he's no stereotype. He's complex and layered and in a quandary when he discovers that the girl he's known forever has somehow grown into a very appealing woman -- and her dying grandfather who is his godfather, expects him to find her a husband.

This is not as easy as it might be since Gemma is the daughter of a scandalous woman -- and since Sebastian discovers, to his consternation, that no potential husband measures up and he would prefer to have her to himself.

The relationship between Sebastian and Gemma is great fun. Christine's dialogue is witty and her characters' dilemmas worth reading about. I loved this book and am waiting with bated breath for Christine's next title.

What can I say about Stephanie Bond? She is a writer of so many voices and so much talent. And I never quite know what to expect from her books, so opening on is always a bit like getting a present from a favorite aunt on Christmas morning. I never know what it's going to be, but I'm always pleased.
I Think I Love You is the story of three sisters, Justine, Regina and Mica -- and the chaos that is their life -- or lives. Or something. Add in a local bad boy, a pair of squabbling parents, a lifetime of sisterly battles and resentments, an unsolved murder and you have a story with more twists and turns than a bowl of rotini.

So that's the week's books:
  • Odd Mom Out by Jane Porter
  • Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts
  • Untouched by Anna Campbell
  • Scandal's Daughter by Christine Wells
  • I Think I Love You by Stephanie Bond
And a pretty appealing bunch of books they are, if I do say so myself.

If you've commented in the last three weeks, you're in the drawing -- not that I wouldn't like to hear from you again and often -- but once you're in the drawing, you're in the drawing.

Gunnar will choose on Saturday morning (he's sending me out for more treats this afternoon). And I'll post the winner as soon as he and The Prof have done the ritual and Gunnar has made his choice. (postscript to Byron: he has not yet seen any bribes . . .er, treats from across the pond).

If you win, please let me hear from you by Tuesday or Gunnar will have to go through the whole terrible ritual again (unless he picks a backup, which he probably won't because, um, well, there will be treats involved, won't there?).

# # # #

Seb and Neely are getting down to business, I'm happy to report. They seem to have been inspired by my jaunt off to see Miss Pettigrew. Neely has been muttering things about "living for a day" too. I wonder if they saw it, too.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Books and Miss Pettigrew

I said on Tuesday that I couldn't get to my bag of books to give you titles for the give-away. Well, I still can't, so I'm going to have to just tell you what the top two books in the bag are, and they can be the next two books, though I can't give you much of a rundown on them because it's been a while since I've read either one of them.

Suffice to say, they're good books or I wouldn't have bothered to hang onto them.

First, Nora Roberts's Midnight Bayou which I've had for a long time, but I'm weeding out hardcovers and it's a hardcover. It's set in New Orleans. There's some spooky stuff going on, I do remember that much. And it's one of those Nora books that I often went back and dipped in when I was wanting a little deep south atmosphere without having to get on a plane and go there.

The other I do that with is Tami Hoag's Lucky's Lady, but I can't give you that because I've lent it to someone. Maybe later.

And the second give-away today is one of two Anna Campbell's RITA finalist books, Untouched. It's the story of Grace Paget, who is kidnapped and taken to a remote country manor surrounded by a high unscalable wall, and told she must give herself to a madman -- satisfy his every desire -- or lose her life.

Talk about high stakes. The story of Grace and her 'madman' is intense indeed. Read it and you'll see why Australian Anna Campbell has taken the world of historical romance by storm.

# # # #

Seb and Neely and I have been having long days and nights and I'm happy to report that we're getting somewhere. Can't exactly tell you where without giving away the book, but rest assured it's moving. And keep your fingers crossed that we don't hit any doldrums between now and the end of the month.

# # # #

I went to a movie today -- because Seb and Neely had cooperated so well I thought I'd do them a favor and leave them to their own devices for a while (no, it's not that time of the book yet, but they had a good time anyway).

So I went to see Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day -- and loved it. I went because of Lee Pace, who I first discovered in Wonderfalls and have now seen in a lot of stuff. And I make it a point to watch what he does because he makes interesting choices in the roles he picks, and he's grown up to be quite a hunk. And even if he is a month or so younger than my youngest son (argh!), he's very appealing!

And then I discovered Ciaran Hinds was in it, too. And if I've got to get old, the fact that Ciaran Hinds is around for 'older women' certainly takes the sting out of it!

Not only that, there were Frances McDormand and Amy Adams and Shirley Henderson to delight in, and a wonderful late 1930s period piece that was beautifully shot and brought to life.

It was a pure delight all the way around. Couldn't have found a better way to spend the afternoon. Thank you to everyone involved in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. It would be worth paying evening prices for. And I don't say that often.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

In Limbo . . . or chaos reigns

If you were here a couple of weeks ago or more, you may remember the "dusting" and the "home improvement" blogs. Well, since then we have been living in increasing chaos.

First the mattresses left, then the new ones arrived. But they couldn't come upstairs because we had to strip wallpaper and then paint and then carpet and THEN the beds could come up.

So for the last three weeks, they've been in the living room. Having three big dogs is enough of a movable suite of furniture. Add to them the mattresses and box springs and frames, plus the furniture that actually belongs there, and you've got a mess.

So . . . we got rid of the wallpaper and George the painter did come and paint. He actually painted three times before we got the right shade of blue. It's not that I'm picky (well, not very). It's that little strips of blue never look the same when you get them on the wall when they look BLUE!!!!!

From now on, when I paint, remind me that I want to buy a gallon of white and then a quart of whatever color we think we want the walls. And then we're going to very carefully and sparingly add the tiniest bit of color to the white. Because if we don't, yikes, it's like living in an Easter basket. Which is why George had to paint it three times.

And now the carpet is arriving. So tonight we moved the last of the furniture out. So my office is full of furniture and the hall is full of furniture, and there is just barely room enough to turn around everywhere upstairs, EXCEPT in the bedroom, which actually echoes.

Tomorrow the carpet is being laid. Then we can start moving stuff back in. And throwing other stuff out. LOTS of stuff is going to get thrown out. Or maybe I'll give it away on my blog -- though other than the books, I don't think you would want any of it.

Sadly, the bag of books from which I am picking give-aways is on the far side of all the furniture and I can't climb over it to get to the books. So I will be adding two books on Wednesday to make up for today's missing book.

In the meantime, it's National Library Week, so go to the library and check out books while you're waiting for me to come up with more give-aways. I love libraries. All the books I'm not giving you guys I'm going to give the library.

Does anyone want books about writing? If so, say so. I've got some of them, too, that are looking for a good home.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Great Book Give-Away III

One side of Jane Porter writes great intense, emotional rollercoastery books for Harlequin Presents.

Another side of Jane writes quirky lively chick lit/mom lit books like Odd Mom Out, which is this week's number one give-away book.

I love Jane's quirky single title books. I love her characters, like Marta, who is so not what her conformist daughter Eva wants her mother to be, and Eva, who is so not what Marta expected in a daughter.

This is a wonderful book about expectations -- about our own and the ones that others have for us. It's all about discovering who you really are -- and that whoever you are, it's okay. Jane does a brilliant job with vulnerable people trying to be tough enough to survive. She knows them inside and out.

I loved the book. And apparently the preliminary RITA judges did, too, because Odd Mom Out is a RITA finalist this year. I'm crossing my fingers for it.

Drop by and comment and you could be the lucky winner of Jane's Odd Mom Out and four more terrific books this week.

* * * *

All the grandsons were here for the basketball tournament. That was fun. I even got some pictures. Now I won't have to scrabble around at the last minute for photos for the Christmas letter come December!

How nice to get something done ahead of a deadline for once.

* * * *

Seb is discussing life with a bloodhound and a litter of kittens. Neely has stood him up. Oh, dear.
What is it about middles that reminds me of knitting? Badly.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

And the winner is . . .

Gunnar and The Prof went down to the basement and did their complicated treat ritual again. Gunnar now looks stuffed to the gills with treats. And he has made his choice.

This week's winner of The Great Book Give-Away is Ellen!

Congratulations, Ellen! I hope you enjoy all six of the books that will be coming your way next week.

Please go to my website, click on the "contact Anne" label on the left hand sidebar and send me your mailing address. Then I can post your books.

Hope to hear from you by Wednesday. If not, I'll have Gunnar pick an alternate winner. Many thanks to everyone who commented this week and last. You were all in the drawing this week.

You will all be in next week's drawing as well. On Monday I'll announce the first of the books to be given away this coming week.

In the meantime The Prof and I are off to watch oldest grandson play in a basketball tournament this weekend.

And, of course, I have Seb and Neely to deal with, too. Right now we're looking for a transition. Sometimes those are easy. Sometimes sitting and staring at a blank page is the order of the day. I fear it's one of those days. Let's hope it's not one of them again tomorrow.

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Friday, April 11, 2008


Over on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs yesterday I had a post about sitting down and getting things done, not just thinking about it.

In the blog I quoted a couple of bits of great advice: If you build it, they will come, from the movie, Field of Dreams (which I was actually IN) and "Just take it bird by bird, buddy," from Anne LaMott's terrific book Bird By Bird.

And then I asked for other bits of great advice -- and I certainly got some. It's a set of comments well worth printing out. In fact that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I said I would choose a winner from among the commenters, and she would get a copy of Flynn's book.

It was difficult to choose -- and I couldn't leave it up to Gunnar because he's working on tomorrow's winner here of the great pile of give-away books, and I didn't want to overload him with treats. Plus, I really wanted to choose the best.

Well, you can't really choose "the best," can you, from so many bits of good advice? So I had to choose the one that I though spoke the most to me. And that was from Dina, who said she was always reminded to "smile at least once a day."

Well, yes.

And as one who sometimes looks less than thrilled even when I'm feeling perfectly happy, I find that Dina's advice resonates with me not because I do it, but because I NEED to do it.

So, thank you, Dina, for the reminder!

Go to my website and click on the "contact Anne" link on the left hand sidebar. There you can send me an email giving me your address and I'll post a copy of One-Night Love Child to you on Monday.

Many thanks to everyone who entered their best bits of advice. I loved reading it. You are all winners in my book.

If you want another chance to win One-Night Love Child (is anyone going to have to buy this book?), go to Kate Walker's Launch Party and make a comment there.

Mitch and Micah are going to pick the winner from that bunch on Sunday.

Tomorrow Gunnar is picking the winner of the 2nd week's Great Book Give-Away. The last book in this week's give-away is by no means least. It's a spectacular historical romance by Julia Ross called Clandestine.

Guy Devoran is Sarah Calloway's only hope for finding her missing cousin. So she goes after him, becomes a part of his life and, heaven help him, he falls in love with her.

The last person Guy wants to fall in love with is Sarah. There are things in his past he's not proud of. One thing in particular, he is sure, will destroy Sarah's love for him if she ever finds out.

But not telling her is as bad as telling her, for if he doesn't, she will never understand why they cannot be together.

The moral dilemmas in Clandestine abound. It's a book of secrets and passion and, above all, it's a book about honor. I loved it. I hope the lucky winner will, too.

So there you have it. This week's give away books are:
  • A Wife On Paper by Liz Fielding
  • Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly
  • Miranda's Big Mistake by Jill Mansell
  • Hot by Julia Harper
  • Clandestine by Julia Ross
and last week's Tempting by Susan Mallery because last week's winner had already read it.

Six super books. And tomorrow morning Gunnar is picking a winner from the blog commenters, so check back to see if you've won!

By the way, Neely's favorite advice from the Tote Bags blog was "Look for the silver linings."

As she is presently painting the houseboat a lovely soft gray called "Silver Linings" she totally agrees with that sentiment. It is the core of her character. Thanks to Michelle Douglas for reminding me of that!

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance

Kate Walker wrote a book a few years back called The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. As she has been published by Harlequin Mills & Boon as long as I have, she's been around the block a few times and she knows what she's talking about.

Lots of people besides me think so. Kate's book was an enormous success. It sold out pretty much everywhere it was on sale. And recently her publisher came to her and wanted to reprint.

Kate had a better idea. She knew that some writing advice is timeless, but some depends on publishers and the market. In order to give fledgling writers the best chance possible, she was determined to make the book as timely as possible. So she rewrote and updated the book.

The new revised second edition of The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance is launching this month. In fact it's making its official debut at the London Book Fair, which is pretty impressive.

Kate is off to London to hobnob with the bigwigs next week and promote her book. I haven't seen it yet, though I offered some "timely" advice for it. I have no doubt, though, that it's every bit as good as the first edition. Probably it's even better.

Check it out via Kate's blog. And if you are a writer, especially a romance writer, looking for a lot of good advice by someone who knows what she's talking about, pick up your own copy of The 12 Point Guide. It's like being walked through the process of writing by a cheerful, knowledgeable expert who understands what you need to know and tells you before you even think to ask.

There is a blog party launch celebration going on over at Kate's right now. So if you hie yourself over there, you might win a copy of it or of any number of terrific books.

If I had a copy, I'd give it away here.

I don't. So I'll just have to add another of my recent reads to the pile of Give-Aways for this week.

It's Julia Harper's novel Hot. I think it may be her first novel. It was a fun read. Turner Hastings, small town Wisconsin librarian turned criminal-on-the-run, and John MacKinnon, the FBI Special Agent who, the longer he chases Turner, loses sight of exactly what his priorities are officially supposed to be, are fun to spend time with.

A veteran of lots of upper midwest summers -- and the ticks, bugs, sweat, and heat that go with them -- I had no trouble putting myself right in Turner's shoes. That isn't the only thing that makes it hot, by the way.

Parenthetically, I'm blogging today over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs about writing. Stop by and leave a comment there and you could win Flynn's book. And you can read my 'wisdom' too, of course! It's about writing (and if I didn't say it for Kate's book, I should have. It's good advice).

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Miranda's Big Mistake

Here's another book I wouldn't be parting with if I didn't have another one on my shelves.

A friend visiting London brought it back to me, without realizing I'd already ordered my own from an online bookseller the instant it came out.

Miranda's Big Mistake by the wonderful witty Jill Mansell is a BIG book. 506 pages of delight in which to wallow as you watch kind-hearted, mistake-prone hairdresser Miranda make a mess of her life.

There are, as there always is in every Jill Mansell book -- great characters, joy, humor, pain, wisdom and, of course, a satisfying ending when Miranda, bless her heart, finally gets it right.

When I was writing The Great Montana Cowboy Auction, I read a lot of Jill's books because they're fun and humorous and because she handles legions of characters and more plot twists than I could write in 50 books with great aplomb.

I did my best to figure out how she did it.

I don't do it nearly as well, but I learned a lot. But even if I weren't reading it to learn, I'd read any Jill Mansell book that came my way.

In fact, I have them all on standing order so that I get them almost before they even hit the shelves.

Leave a comment if you haven't already and you could be the one who gets Miranda as well as Carla Kelly's book, Liz Fielding's book and Tempting by Susan Mallery.

Gunnar says that he is susceptible to bribes, too, but I probably shouldn't be telling you that!

As for me, I wish Jill would write a book about an architect with a leaky houseboat. Seb and I could use some advice.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Shipwreck! Scandal!

And all that good stuff . . .

Today's addition to the growing Give-Away pile is Carla Kelly's wonderful Regency romance, Beau Crusoe.

If you've never read a Carla Kelly book, you should. I started with Summer Campaign, which is still my absolute favorite and no one is EVER going to get that one away from me. But there have been many absolutely excellent Carla Kelly books since then, and I probably shouldn't be playing favorites at all.
Beau Crusoe is the last one I read. I think it may be her newest. And it was a special and distinct and memorable as the others. Different than the others, different than everyone else's regencies -- that's one of the things that makes Carla's books special.

She isn't afraid to push the boundaries of the genre. She pushes the envelope. Sometimes she goes outside the envelope all together. She does that in Beau Crusoe, the story of James Trevenen, shipwrecked sailor rescued and returned, feted as a hero and yet -- James is barely holding himself together because of what happened on that island.

And the heroine determined to help him lay those ghosts is Susannah Park, a woman who knows very well what it's like to be an outcast.

If you like your romances a little bit different, if you like your characters a little more complex, you will love Carla Kelly.

Have you read her earlier books? If so, which was your favorite?

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Monday, April 07, 2008

Great Books Give-Away II -- Liz Fielding

I hate giving this book away.

I loved it. But I want someone else to love it, too.

It's A Wife On Paper by the incomparable, stupendous, absolutely spectacular (can you tell I like her books?) Liz Fielding.

Liz writes terrific books. She's done 50 of them. And this is, in my estimation, one of the best.

Certainly it's one of my favorites.

What I like best about it is all the repressed emotion. Guy Dymoke has had feelings for Francesca for a long, long time. But she belonged to his brother. And Guy -- being a hero you understand -- wasn't the sort of man who poached. He bottled everything up, buttoned it down, got on with life, and survived without her.

But he didn't forget her.

And when Francesca is widowed and circumstances throw them together again, well, you can guess what happens. But it's best to let Liz tell you.
A Wife On Paper is the first of this week's give-away books. But the pile already has a head-start because Tempting by Susan Mallery (from last week) is still here as Chris, who won it, has read it already and said she would leave it for someone else to enjoy.

She's getting my own In McGillivray's Bed instead. Thanks for asking for Hugh and Sydney's story, Chris. I hope you enjoy it.

* * * *
Seb's past the halfway point. It's all downhill from here, I told him. He thinks I need to make sure I know what I'm doing so we don't back slide. He might be right. But I'm not telling him so.

After all, who's the author here?

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Gunnar's Choice

I sent Gunnar off with The Prof and a jar full of treats and little slips of paper with names on of everyone who commented this past week.

It was their job to decide on a winner. I gather that they went through some complicated ritual that allowed Gunnar as many treats as possible while still remaining upright. And they returned with a winner of this past week's five books.

So . . .

Chris, if you are out there -- you are the winner!

Congratulations! Gunnar seems to think you're the perfect choice. (It's possible he had to eat through all the treats to get to your name. I don't know the means they used to make the decision.)

I realize from reading your comment that you have already read Tempting, so if you would rather have another book from my bag, I'll substitute another one for that and hope you haven't read it. If you do want a substitute, I'll include Tempting with next week's books.

Please go to my webpage and click on the contact link and send me your mailing address and I will send the books out to you on Monday.

Thanks to everyone who commented this week. I'll be putting up more books in the week to come and Gunnar will pick a new winner next weekend. So keep on commenting!

* * * *
Seb says to tell you that he's cooperating and that we're getting the details and he had no idea 'scratching' could be so interesting.

I'm not precisely sure what he's referring to.

As he's being particularly close-mouthed at the moment, I wonder what he knows that I don't know -- yet.

I wish he'd get his nose out of the newspaper and hurry up and tell me.

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Friday, April 04, 2008


That's the name of Friday's book by Susan Mallery.

And tempting it is, too.

In this year of political campaigns, if you can't get enough of them, you'll have a blast with Tempting, which is the story of restauranteur Dani Buchanan who discovers she's the biological child of Senator Canfield -- who just happens to be running for president!

Unaccustomed to being someone's 'secret' Dani makes the acquaintance of the Senator and his wife and their family -- all children they've adopted and one, in particular, extremely suspicious of her. That would be Alex, the oldest, his father's campaign manager, who has his suspicions about whether Dani's story is true or if she's trying to stir up trouble.

That would be bad enough, but the attraction that springs up between them is worse.

Dani has been around in several of Mallery's other books about the Buchanan family. And they get back in here to form Dani's support group and prove to her that being family isn't a matter of blood. Not that she ever thought it was.

Tempting is far more tempting than reading about the real political scene, if you ask me. Someone (Gunnar hasn't picked yet) will get to enjoy it next week.

So, there you have it -- this week's 5 Give-Aways:
  • Dark Lover by J R Ward
  • The Education of Mrs Brimley by Donna MacMeans
  • Spellbound by Nora Roberts
  • Brighter Than the Sun by Julia Quinn
  • Tempting by Susan Mallery
Gunnar will be picking a winner of this week's books from among those who have commented on the blog this week.

* * *

I'm back in Twyla Tharp mode and "scratching" for bits and pieces of Seb's book.

It's what she calls the part where you go looking for those bits of inspiration that will give you something to build on to get the finished book.

The idea is there, lots of the story arc is there. It's the concrete details I need now to hang the story on -- or the handholds I will be scratching out of the mountain this month as I work my way to the top.

Right now, though, I'm thinking a space break looks appealing!

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Thursday's Book

One of my favorite historical regency period writers is Julia Quinn. She's written some of the most delightful books of that period. I like her so much I have TWO copies of Brighter Than the Sun.

So Brighter Than the Sun is Thursday's book to be added to the Great Book Give-Away. If you know Julia's work, you know that all her books have a certain sparkle. And Brighter Than the Sun is certainly no exception.

You know that as soon as Charles Wycombe, Earl of Billington, falls out of a tree at Ellie Lyndon's feet! But like all Julia's books, it isn't just a romp. The relationship between Charles and Ellie might start out with a "cute meet," but coming to terms with what is really required of them as a couple once they marry is much more complex.

I hope whoever wins enjoys it as much as I did.

By the way, Gunnar thinks this Great Book Give-Away is a fantastic idea because he gets treats for everyone who enters. I'm surprised he's not out on the highways and byways telling people to come sign up.

Oh, and Kate tells me that One-Night Love-Child has made it into the shops in UK now. (Did you notice the British version has an extra hyphen?)

So if you have been waiting for Flynn and Sara and you live on the other side of the pond, check your local stockists.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Great Book Give-Away again

Because yesterday I was posting about Roy, I didn't clutter up the post with the next book in my Great Book Give-Away. So today I'm posting two.

Along with J.R. Ward's Dark Lover in this week's bunch, there will be Donna McMeans' fun first novel, the regency romance, The Education of Mrs. Brimley.

When Emma Brimley tells one small fib to win a teaching job at the Pettibone School for Young Ladies, she is only doing it to get the job. And what difference will it make if they think she's a widow and not a single woman.

Big difference! Because the Powers That Be at Pettibone's expect that a widow will be able to prepare the Young Ladies for the "intimacies of marriage." Ooops. And when Emma meets Lord Nicholas Chambers --- who could certainly enlighten her about exactly what those intimacies entail -- what happens next is a great deal of fun.

And today's book is a novella, really, by the incomparable Nora Roberts. Spellbound is all the best of Nora's romance with a tiny bit of 'fantasy' thrown in -- the blend she does so well. I enjoyed it and, if you're a Nora fan, I imagine you will, too.

So, if you want copies of these three books, plus the two that will be coming up tomorrow and Friday, post a comment. I'd love for them to have a happy home.

If you've already commented for this week, you don't have to again to be entered in the drawing -- but I'd love to hear from you anyway. And if you have read any of these books and want to add your two cents, by all means, do so.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Remembering Roy

In honor of Gunnar, the Proust-reading Flatcoat Retriever, I got involved in "Flatcoat Rescue" a number of years ago.

Flatcoats are fabulous dogs, but they aren't, say, Golden Retrievers. Flatcoats tend to have an agenda, an attitude, and generally, in their opinion at least, a better way of doing almost anything you want them to do.

This makes them occasionally 'a challenge' to unsuspecting dog owners who may think they are getting a Golden Retriever in a black fur coat.


So, in order to make sure any rescued Flatcoats from our area went to homes which would understand them, I ended up dealing with a fair number of long-haired black dogs. Most of them weren't Flatcoats, but we found them good homes, anyway.

One of them found a home with my oldest son. His name was Roy.

Roy could jump a four to five foot high fence just by standing and looking at it, then bunching his muscles and springing straight over.

He could dance. He did the most amazing four-footed shuffle and hip wiggle you ever saw.

He was incredibly strong. He could pull me off my feet when he was a youngster without even trying. He weighed around 100 pounds. And it wasn't all fur. It was solid dog. Solid Roy.

Suffice to say, Roy wasn't a flatcoat.

He was part Newfoundland, according to a vet and Newfoundland breeder, and part something else. Maybe Golden. Maybe elephant. Maybe small house.

No matter. He was the sweetest-natured dog in the world.

My son loved him dearly, but after three years his living circumstances changed and there wasn't room in his tiny house for all his family and Roy The Big Black Dog.

Also, they were gone a lot and Roy needed companionship. So, as a stop-gap, he came to live with us. But we had four dogs (three Goldens and Gunnar) at the time and they were all, if not as big as Roy, pretty close. It was like having an entire suite of living room furniture that rearranged itself at will.

And while I would have loved to keep Roy here, there wasn't space (particularly in our bed during thunderstorms when Roy thought that if he lay on top of you, that still wasn't anywhere close enough, and could he just get inside your skin, please?).

We had friends who had recently lost their beloved Golden Retriever, Chase, and we knew they would be fabulous parents for Roy. So Roy went to live with them.

Going to live with Chuck and Susan at The Hancock House Bed and Breakfast in Dubuque was the best of all possible worlds. For Roy. For Chuck and Susan. And for the many many people whose lives Roy touched. Let's face it, there are some dogs meant to be 'public ambassadors.' That was Roy.

Despite the fact that he could shed for Newfoundland, Roy was a perfect B&B dog. He never met a person he didn't like. He was unfailingly friendly, cheerful, and always willing to be hugged. He thrived on the attention. And Susan and Chuck's guests thrived on knowing that this great big black dog thought they were absolutely special because they had come to visit him.

It was a perfect match.

Every time I went to visit, I got to be Roy's Grandma and he always came and leaned against me and butted his big head into my knees or laid his head in my lap and looked up adoringly, as if to say, "You found me the best home with the best people in the whole world."

I know they would say he made their lives as wonderful and rich as they made his.

Yesterday Roy crossed the rainbow bridge. We wish he could have stayed here forever. But we're glad we had him in our lives as long as we did.

He had ten and a half years in which he made the world a better place.

God speed, Roy. Thank you for loving all the people in your life as much as you did.