Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Of reading, writing and surgery

And in that order....

Reading

Four books to add to the list for this month:
Temptation - Jude Devereaux (I do like her books!)
Irish Hearts (2 stories) - Nora Roberts (It had "Irish" in the title, although they are transplanted Irishwomen and the stories are set in America. )
Destiny Unleashed - Sherryl Woods (read in a day at the cabin. )
The Difference Engine - William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (Steampunk. Apparently I'm not smart enough to understand all the vague references; story is told with snippets from various characters; I finished the book [not sure why] and still can't tell you what it was supposed to be about)

Writing

Has been mostly non-fiction these past two weeks. Lots of scrapbooking - finally getting the pictures put together with the journaling from our trip last summer to Ireland and Scotland. I like scrapbooking. It gives me an opportunity to relive the time. I've been adding in bits and pieces to the scrapbook that weren't in the original journal entries posted on Facebook.

I have, however, also pulled out and begun formatting two releases, one new, one old. The new will be the collection of short stories (the First Friday Fiction series), the old will be a two-book set that includes Love in the Afternoon and Writers Unblocked. Not sure on a release date yet because....

Surgery

When I was a child, I was fearless. I strapped on my skates, tightened them down with the key and sped off down uneven sidewalks and chip-sealed driveways, the wind in my hair, my body young and lithe...often tumbling and skinning my knees and scraping my palms in the process. And each time I fell, I'd hobble my way back home (never bothering to take off the skate that had stayed on. I wasn't going to be inside that long), get patched up, and go back to my skating.

I rode my bike with the same abandon - and walked on stilts my dad made me - and never walked when I could run.

The upshot? Shot knees.

So far, the right knee has needed arthroscopic surgery two separate times. Each time the surgeon removed the growing arthritis and repaired the torn meniscus. Two and a half years after the last surgery on that knee, its doing fine.

The left knee, however, not so much. I fell on the ice a little over ten years ago and tore the meniscus. I consider myself lucky that it hasn't bothered me much since then. Unfortunately, when it decided to act up again, it has done so with a vengeance.

Tried the cortisone. Didn't work.
Tried the gel. Hurt like Hell going in. Didn't work.

Now going for surgery on my son's twenty-fifth birthday. Arthroscopic. Been there, done that. This is old hat. I always get a little nervous - undergoing anesthesia always makes me a tad nervous - but I know the recovery won't be long. I give myself the day of the surgery and the day following to wallow in self-pity. One should always allow a short period of indulgence after surgery.

But by Saturday I'll be up and walking around, unable to sit still a moment longer. Might even talk my hubby into taking me over to Waterloo, NY - the Birthplace of Memorial Day - for cheese fries!

Will post an update before, though. Play safe, everyone!
Diana

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Taking the time to read

One corner of my study where I
write - and read
Every once in a while, I get the urge to follow in the footsteps of both my mom and my mother-in-law, both of whom keep (kept) lists of the books they read, by author, so they would know which titles they'd already consumed and which ones they should BOLO (be on the lookout for). That way, each time they went to a library or rummage sale, they could pull out their notebooks and check so they didn't waste that fifty cents on a book they'd already read.

Now, don't mistake me. Just because they couldn't remember titles didn't mean they didn't remember the plot and the characters - they could tell you all the twists and turns, the who did what to whom, and the Happily Ever After for nearly every book. Neither, however, could necessarily put the title with the story. Author, yes. Title, not so much.

So, in years' past, I've kept logs (I started linking to individual pages but then realized that was too many, since for 2010 at least, I reviewed each individual book as well as posted that I'd read it. Instead, type "book thoughts" into the search bar to see what I've read in the past).

I'm not good at keeping these lists up-to-date, but am truly making an effort this year. Since I last posted my list on March 1st, I've read another fifteen books (!), which I'm thinking is a record for me. At least, the adult me. The kid me would read 15 books in as many days and keep going to the library for more.

So, what am I currently up to?
These pictures were taken from
my desk (comp. screen in bottom
of photo)

In February: 
The Jane Austen Marriage Manual - Kim Izzo (chick lit and funny!)
Hyperion - Dan Simmons (excellent story but no ending - its continued into the next book - which I don't have :( )

In March:
Ready Player One - Ernest Cline (this was a re-read, it's that good)
George Washington's Secret Six - Brian Kilmeade & Dan Yeager (some of the scholarship was slanted to make a point, that I think stretched the facts a bit far)
The Night Circus - Erin Morganstern (Oh, My. Goodness. Go buy this book. NOW!)
How Reading Changed My Life - Anne Quindlen (autobiographical; interesting tidbits)
Starting Over on Blackberry Lane - Sheila Roberts (a Debbie Macomber clone, but that's not necessarily a bad thing)

In April:
The Shack - William Paul Young (wanted to read before I saw the movie)
Walking on Air - Catherine Anderson (probably shouldn't include this - I only read half before I got bored)
Murder at Longbourne - Tracey Kiely (great fun! exactly what the title implies)
Dreams of the Raven - Carmen Carter (a Star Trek novel. Yes, I'm a nerd. But you knew that...)

I love these little bottles. I've collected them since Jr. High -
each room has it's own color. My study has tan walls, green
shelves - and purple highlights!
In May (so far):
Otherwise Engaged - Amanda Quick (okay, so probably everyone knows Jayne Krentz is Amanda Quick. I didn't until I saw the lists of titles at the beginning of the book. No wonder it was so good!)
City of Bones - Cassandra Clare (a library sale find - 1st book of the Mortal Instruments series)
Her Vampire's Promise - Jordan K. Rose (sorry, just not that into vampires. Didn't finish)
Stranger in the Moonlight - Jude Deveraux (it's Jude D - what's not to like?)

All told, since the beginning of the year, that's 33 books in 19 weeks. In that same time, I've written about 10,000 words, editing and then writing further on two different fantasy novels and written another 5,000 or so words on various short stories. Not much, I know. Thank goodness summer's coming and I'll be "stuck" at the cabin with nothing to do but write!

Hope you are all well!
Play safe,
Diana


Monday, April 03, 2017

Big Goals and HOOKED

2017 Big Goals

Yes, I realize this is the first week of April and it's a little late to be making resolutions. I'm thinking that, if I make them now rather than in the heat of the New Year frenzy, I might actually keep them!

So here are my Big Three Big Goals for this year:

BG #1 - Finish one of the two fantasy novels already begun. They are huge already and there is more to be written.

BG #2 - Re-publish my backlist titles, one a month. Now that Ellora's Cave is officially no more, all my books have reverted to me (that means I own all the rights to everything again).

BG #3 - Write more short stories. Again, one a month is the goal. I'll be happy with ten for the year.


Regarding BG #1 - So far I've worked on both. Still not sure which one I want to concentrate on. Will continue to flip between worlds until I make my decision. But both stories will require multiple volumes (two or three at least). Don't worry, each volume WILL stand on its own. I HATE books that don't end!

Regarding BG #2 - This month's re-release is HOOKED and it's now available on both Smashwords and all Amazon markets. Click the title for an excerpt and for Amazon links in countries other than the US.

Regarding BG #3 - Watch for a brand-new story this Friday - part of the First Fiction Friday series of short stories. As always, it goes live at 12:01 Friday morning and will stay up until midnight Friday night. Read it while you can!

If you miss it, don't worry. All FFF stories will be available shortly in a single collection. Watch this space for more info as we get closer to summer!

Play safe, everyone!

Diana

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

An glimpse of life in an Irish Tower Castle

STITCHES IN TIME, an Irish story set around St. Patrick's Day, takes place primarily in Dublin and in the hinterlands of County Limerick. Glenquin Castle sits on R515 (as you can see below, almost literally ON), and I chose it at random for the climax of the story. My husband and I had the opportunity to visit Ireland last summer (May 2016) and made a point of looking for the castle. Thought you might like a glimpse of the castle as it stands today (to get an idea of it from the past, read the story!).


Glenquin Castle (a classic tower castle)
with our rented, manual-transmission
VW Golf parked beside the stone wall and
not nearly far enough off the road!
Steven in the castle doorway.

The placard outside explaining the parts of the castle and its history

The stile to get in. The banners were
there from a celebration recently held in honor
of the centenary of the 1916 Rising, in which,
Glenquin castle played a big part

Standing on the 4th of 6 floors, looking back
at the stairs. We came up the arched set
and the squared-off set continued up.
Steven went to the top.
I didn't push my luck.






The living space on the fourth floor. The roof was no longer in evidence - all the floors to this point had been stone.
The fifth and sixth levels had wooden floors - and they long since rotted away.


Looking up from the 4th level
I love this window, even if it's too
low to the floor.

The view of the Irish countryside from the 4th floor. Cloudy
day, but most of them are, there.
Just a few pictures from Glenquin Castle! Now you'll have a setting in which to place STITCHES IN TIME!

Play safe,
Diana

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Stitches in Time - Now on Amazon and Smashwords



Saint Patrick's Day is only 16 days away - what better way to celebrate than with the re-release of STITCHES IN TIME?

Authors are not supposed to have favorites between and among their characters, but Seamus O'Brien, the leprechaun of this story, holds a soft spot in my heart. He's bold, he's brassy, and he's not above giving love advice to Liam Finnerty, the man he hopes will release him from his magic spell.

When I wrote this book, I needed an out-of-the way castle that wasn't well-known for part of my setting. I chose Glenquin Castle in County Limerick. You can see it on the new cover by Lynn LaFleur. I took that picture! My husband and went to Ireland last summer (2016) and made sure we visited it. The castle itself sits right on the edge of the road and is open to the public. No one guards it and there are no entrance fees. We climbed the spiral staircase (and I didn't fall!) to see the views of the countryside. No one else was there and we had the place to ourselves. What a wonderful visit!

Currently, you can buy STITCHES IN TIME at Smashwords - and Amazon (link is for US store. Click here for all other Amazon stores). Disclaimer: this was originally published in Irish Enchantment, an anthology from Ellora's Cave. They then published it as a stand-alone novella before they went out of business.

On another note:

It's March 1st and I thought to update the list of books I've been reading. Yes, I've also been writing - a fantasy started over a decade ago and set aside. But it's the Book of My Heart and more important than ever that I get it written. Why? That's another blog post for when my blood pressure won't go up discussing the current political climate in America.

What have I been reading? I'm so glad you asked!

The Making of Outlander          by Tara Bennett (non-fiction; filled w/ insights & tidbits)
A Promise of Fire                      by Amanda Bouchet (fantasy w/ romance - does the thing I hate. Book doesn't really end. But I LOVE the heroine, so I bought book 2!)
Falling for the Highlander        by Lynsay Sands (why do I keep falling for these Highlander books?)
To Sir Phillip with Love             by Julia Quinn (I have several of her ebooks. Great escapist reads)
How to Entice and Earl             by Manda Collins (ehhh. Pretty typical)
Breath of Fire                            by Amanda Bouchet (Did I mention that I LOVE the heroine? Sassy and spicy. She's great!)
The Importance of Being Ernie by Barry Livingstone (autobiography; great stories and good writer!)


All told, twenty(!) books read since Christmas and two republished (Stitches in Time and A Devil in Winter). I'm on a roll (that's why there's butter on my pants - ba dum dum!)

As always, if you've read a book of mine, PLEASE go leave a review of it. Positive or not, reviews help books rise in the algorithms of search engines. Thank you!

Play safe,
Diana

edited to add new Amazon links

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Of re-releases, short stories and books...

As many of you know, Ellora's Cave has closed up shop. Some of my titles were returned to me before they closed their doors, A DEVIL IN WINTER among them. Thanks to Lynn LaFleur, it has a new, very sexy cover (who doesn't love half-naked cowboys!?!). I've re-edited it and fixed a few typos (most of them my fault) and it is now available again for your reading pleasure!

If you'd like to purchase a copy or read an excerpt, click here.

If you already bought Winter's Tales, you have this story in that anthology (along with 12 Days of Christmas Bondage and Winter Break. What can I say? I love the holidays!) While you're at it, check out Winter Break's new cover - again by Lynn. She does great work!

I hope you've been enjoying the First Friday Fiction! I've had fun writing these shorter stories and expect I'll keep going for a bit. At least through April (which means only two more stories for this bundle). They will all be released in ebook and print form come May, God willin' and the creek don' rise!

On an entirely different note: I mentioned before that I've been doing a lot of reading lately and thought I should keep track this year. This is something I do every other year or so as I remember. Since this is still the beginning of the year, I figured I'd better make note of what I've read to date. I'll add as the months go by. Yes, I realize some of you put me to shame, but this is still better than I've done in years (read this many books by the 6th week of the year, that is).

So, without further ado, I've read:

Neverwhere       by Neil Gaiman, fantasy (enjoyed)
Red Rising         by Pierce Brown, fantasy (a bit violent for my tastes, but good story)
Golden Sun       by Pierce Brown, fantasy (2nd in the series; same as above)
Morning Star    by Pierce Brown, fantasy (3rd in the series; might as well finish it off!)
Mistborn           by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy (2nd time reading it, so you know I enjoyed it)
Well of Ascension by Brandon Standerson, fantasy (2nd in the series; 2nd time reading)
Hero of Ages    by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy (3rd in the series; 2nd time reading)
Alloy of Law     by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy (this starts the 2nd trilogy in the same universe)
Shadow of Self by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy (book 2 of the Wax and Wayne books)
Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson, fantasy (book 3; liked the Mistborn series better)
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, fantasy (grrrrr. 1st in a series with an unfinished story. I HATE that)
Border Bride    by Amanda Scott, romance (took place in Elizabethan Britain; the author knew a lot about the time period and had to make sure she got in every single detail. Sigh.)


An even dozen. That's two a week, for those of you doing the math. I feel a bit lazy, but boy, am I relaxed! :)

So, go buy A Devil in Winter if you don't yet have it.  Buy 12 Days of Christmas Bondage, buy Winter Break. Buy Winter's Tales to get all three. Aw, heck - go buy all my books! LOL

Play safe,
Diana

Monday, January 23, 2017

To write or not to write

I'm trying to decide if I feel guilty for not writing. For not editing. For not doing diddly-squat on my writing career. I'm trying to decide if that career is also over or if I'm on an extended break.

I certainly haven't sold anything worth talking about for the past year. EC's closing put a huge damper on my income, too. But did I write to sell only? Or did I write because I enjoyed the creative expression?

Both, actually. I liked creative expression, even if I got tired of the genre a long time ago. Seemed I could only sell erotic romance stories and I have more than that in me. I have two fantasy novels begun and one historical that needs some major revision. But I've been putting off even opening those files. Why? Because I don't think I can sell them. Why bother if no one is going to read it?

Yeah, that's defeatist, I know. But that's what the lack of sales does to one. And when you don't publish for a while, people (readers) forget about you and you have to start all over. And that takes energy, energy you can't spend on writing your next novel because you have to be promoting your last one. Again. And your preparing your backlist for publication. Again. And...and...and...

I used to enjoy reading. A lot. I read book after book after book. But once I had kids, I was lucky if I got to read an entire magazine article. And then my husband gave me the time to write and instead of reading the books, I wrote them. Kids grew up and needed me less, I finally retired from my day job and, this past month, I've rediscovered the joy of going from book to book to book. No more, grab a book, read a chapter, go do something else, read a few pages, get interrupted, read a little more, go to the grocery store.

No, I'm talking, the past few weeks of starting a book, reading straight for HOURS, getting up only to use the bathroom and eat. I've gained two pounds (so I walked this morning because, you know, a single three-quarter mile walk around the block to catch Pokemon is going to help so much) and am more relaxed than I have been in two years.

So, should I feel guilty about not writing? About taking time off? Still not sure. The Short Story Challenge started Friday and I have until next Sunday to write a 2000 word story and submit it for the contest. I started it this morning - and remembered how hard it is for me to write openings. I've written 500 words or so and might set it aside and begin again later today.


But for right now...I'm going to go start reading another book.

Play safe, 
Diana