#Giveaway Monday

There’s a big giveaway happening on Wednesday, February 25th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST. Here are the details:

Hook a Book: A Lobster Cove Facebook Party

The Wild Rose Press and the authors of Lobster Cove are hosting a Lobster Cove Facebook party on Wednesday, February 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., EST. Readers can find out all about the Lobster Cove books and “meet” the authors. At the end of the party we will give away a basket of Lobster Cove print books and a Kindle Fire!!  Individual authors will also be doing giveaways throughout the party. There will be lots of prizes!

I hope you’ll stop by “Hook a Book: A Lobster Cove Party.” Enjoy a party at the beach—a fire, friends and a good time. Come party with the authors of Lobster Cove on Facebook.

If you have a Facebook account, just click on that link or copy and paste this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/928761120475937/?ref=br_tf into your browser and then you can RSVP by clicking on the little button near the top that says Going. In the same area, there’s also a button called Invite. You can click on that and invite friends. You can also just click on that link at the time of the party. I will be hosting from 4:30 – 5 Pacific Standard Time. That is 7:30 – 8 Eastern Standard Time.

The day of the party and the day after, the publisher also plans to put all the Lobster Cove e-books on sale on their Website.

Lobster Cove is a fictional small town on the coast of Maine, near Bar Harbor. It is quaint and quirky with a colorful history, a friendly population of charming residents, and a vibrant tourist business. It is home to research scientists and small shop owners, grumpy cops and sassy chefs. Back in the day, it was a bustling fishing town and home to many immigrants, from both the state cabins and the lowest decks.

lobster-Cove-logo

Mendocino, a pileated woodpecker and other birds

The pileated woodpecker is very cautious. He took a long time to come down to the bird feeder.

Here is my left profile
Here is my left profile.
I think I'm pretty handsome from this angle too
I think I’m pretty handsome from this angle too.
Look at my crowning glory.
Look at my crowning glory.
Finally I get to eat, and you get to see my red head.
Finally I get to eat, and you get to see my scarlet crest and shiny black tuxedo.

I think this bird lived up on this branch, but I don’t know what she’s doing now, because there’s a huge storm buffeting the area now.

Mendocino-bird-life-15

Turkeys are beautiful.

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The ravens in Mendocino are huge.

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We had to cut our trip short due to a huge storm hitting today. It’s exciting to be getting some rain and snow in California!

$1000 prize, author interview & book review, When Summer Comes, by Brenda Novak

ALERT: When Summer Comes is on sale for $1.99 (instead of $6.99) across all digital platforms for a limited time only. This is rare for a front-list book. Grab it.

PRIZE: Go to Brendanovak.com for a chance to win. Have some fun too, all you have to do to enter is answer the question: What would you do this summer if you thought it was your last? The winner will receive a $1000 travel voucher to ANYWHERE. Winner will be drawn on April 30th and notified by email on May 1st.

An interview with this New York TImes bestselling author follows the review.

She’s done it again. In this compelling and wonderful installment of the Whiskey Creek series, Levi, the hero, as a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, has unfortunate but realistic motivation for his conflicts. In fact, realism pervades Ms. Novak’s work and, along with naturalness, is one of my favorite things about her writing. It’s a connected series, meaning you get to know the characters and the town, but you don’t have to read them in order.

Since I don’t know how Brenda does her magic, I decided to ask her, and she agreed to answer some questions for this blog.

Before I get to this wonderful interview, I would like to state the obvious: I’m a huge fan of Brenda Novak. Obviously, of her writing, but also of her, as a person. I’ve had the privilege of meeting Brenda a few times, always when she was extending herself to help other writers or readers.

She is a generous person and one who makes a huge difference beyond her writing. Brenda used her success as an author to create, develop and nurture an online auction to fund diabetes research.

She started with an idea, did it, and, over the years has raised $1.6 million (so far!) to help improve the lives of people living with this disease.

How many people do you love have diabetes and how many people do you know have a loved one with this disease? I counted nine for myself, in less than a minute. I’m sure there are more in my life or one or two degrees of separation from me.

Research scientists have made some impressive progress on this disease. I have read about exciting breakthroughs in research, improvements in treatment and glimmers of hope on the horizon for a cure. None of that progress would have happened without funding.

Of course, other people have given generously to the auction, and it has grown so large Brenda has someone helping her with the administration now, but today I want to celebrate the person who not only writes wonderful, uplifting, entertaining books, but who also created this auction and keeps it going year after year.

So, let’s hear some from Brenda:

Brenda, the cover art on When Summer Comes is radiant. It reminds me of you! Were you happy with the cover?

Yes! Of the first three books in this series, this was definitely my favorite. When I look at the cover, I feel the warmth of the sun. I like that.

Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?

I had a very close girlfriend go through something similar to the heroine of this book just after college. She was young, beautiful, healthy—and then diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. We couldn’t believe it when we received the news that she would die without a transplant. She looked and acted as if she was fine. But slowly…the lack of a functioning liver started to take its toll. Luckily, my friend did receive a new liver (many thanks to the donor and the system that made this possible). It’s been ten years since then, and she’s just as beautiful now as she ever was—she’s also thriving, and that makes me so happy. I wanted to give Callie a wake-up call, something that would make her change her outlook on life and also be open to what she does for the hero.

Your natural style is my favorite thing about your books, well… besides how they always touch my heart. From listening to you in the past, I know that you are a “pantser” by which we Romance writers mean you “write by the seat of your pants” rather than “plotting” out every detail in advance. I think this adds to the appeal of your stories, because romance evolves naturally from the characters rather than feeling the author’s hand in the story. Did you ever try plotting everything, in the early days, or were you always a “pantser?”

Thank you! I did try plotting (or my version of it since I’m not even sure how). But I quickly ran into a debilitating problem. Trying to force the story in the direction I thought it should go resulted in a lack of emotional intensity. And if it was a suspense novel, I’d give away too much information (who the killer was, for instance). I guess, at heart, I’m a blabbermouth, because I couldn’t hold back. LOL So I finally realized I needed to let the characters speak for themselves and just go with it. I’m surprised that this method doesn’t require more re-writing than it does. I think my subconscious knows the end of the story before my conscious mind, and that helps direct me.

Brenda, you once told me the conflict is the engine that drives the book. When you come up with an idea for a book, do you think of the conflict first or do the conflicts come from the characters?

I definitely come up with the conflict first. The characters spin off of that (what kind of characters would be most interesting faced with such a problem—it’s usually someone who wouldn’t handle that problem well). And the plot grows out of the character. So it’s…one, two, three for me.

Those of us who participate in your auction know your youngest son, Thad, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was five. When did you have the idea for the auction and what gave you the idea for this particular fund-raising method?

I had the idea for the auction about eighteen months after he was diagnosed. He’s had diabetes for eleven years. I’ve been doing the auction for nine of them. I was a young mother, with a young career and no resources. I was searching for a way to get involved and fight back. But I couldn’t come up with anything that was plausible for me—until I attended a silent auction at his school. Then, as I was standing there looking around, it occurred to me that there had to be an easier way to raise funds than to try and get everyone to come out to a physical location all at once (and to feed them all!). That’s when the light bulb went on and I realized that I could use my website as the destination for a fundraiser where people could shop at their leisure.

Does the auction only offer items interesting to writers?

The auction offers all kinds of items—trips & stays, jewelry, handmade items, autographed items, Coach purses, antique or retro items, etc.

You have raised $1.6 million so far. What is your goal this year?

We are hoping to break the $2 million mark!

How many people help you with the administration of the auction?

I just have one part-time assistant and two wonderful and dedicated volunteers.

Here’s where you can find Brenda, the auction, When Summer Comes and all of the Whiskey Creek series books:

http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com

www.brendanovak.com

Not erotic romance, but… book review Desert Prince, Lynne Graham

Erotic romance is more… well, you know, if you’ve read any. If not, stay tuned. Some reviews are coming soon!

Desert Prince, Bride of Innocence, Harlequin Presents February, 2010

An older book, but still available on Kindle and in large print.

Very sexy and emotional.

Kindle version:

http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Innocence-Harlequin-Presents-ebook/dp/B002WEPG24/ref=sr_1_2_title_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360431338&sr=1-2&keywords=desert+prince

I won’t offer extracts here as their steaminess goes outside the bounds of not adult content, but this is classic romance, folks.

Enjoy.

Can words be invisible? Book review, When Lightning Strikes, Brenda Novak

Yes, when the writer is Brenda Novak.

WhenLightningStrikessmnew

Writing so natural, you’ll be swept along without even realizing you’re reading.

Conflict so gripping, you’ll be flipping through the pages as fast as you can.

Believable characters you’ll love and root for.

An escape into a homey two-bedroom house in the California gold country.

A love story unfolding in a way you’ll feel is happening to you.

Moments like these to touch your heart:

But did he really want to fall back into his old lifestyle? What about the woman who’d made him happy to live in an eight-hundred-square-foot house and work as a carpenter?

When Lightning Strikes by Brenda NovakBN.COM

Good for skiing… New Rules of Lifting for Women by Lou Schuler, book review

This book will take 6 months to a year to thoroughly review. Stay tuned for the results.

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What’s to love?

  1. Learn to cook better.
  2. Eat more!  (And take fish oil pills.)
    Final meal
  3. New home-fitness toys.
  4. Bigger, stronger muscles… hopefully! (Check back in 6 months.)
  5. Less cardio.

What’s not to love?

  1. More calories do not come from alcohol.
    “I suspect you don’t need me to tell you that Kahlua and cream won’t make you sleeker.”
    You can have some, though. Red wine is best. We’re talking 4 ounces here, folks. 4. Four.
    4 ounces
    Not every day. Remember all those beers you saw in the skiing-lunch photos???? Not on the plan.
    Then again:
    “You’d think that the people who drink the most would weigh the most, but studies haven’t shown a connection between weight and calories from alcohol. One study showed that the most indulgent drinkers are more active than those who drink less…”
    Interesting. BUT
    “My overall goal is to make sure one special evening doesn’t extend into two or three special evenings in a row. Inevitably, I can feel it on my waistline.”
    Oh heck, we know this already.
  2. More calories in the right ratios means more cooking.
    more cooking
  3. “More calories” doesn’t refer to chocolate-chip cookies.
  4. If you don’t like to work out, you won’t like this book. But if you do, and you’re a woman, and you’re frustrated about working really hard only to get tiny muscles and a slow metabolism, check this out. I am just beginning but a friend of a friend had fabulous results, and she didn’t even do the eating part.
  5. Getting 30% of your calories from protein is challenging (but kind of fun) and pretty much requires whey powder (not too great tasting, kind of expensive, though Costco has it. Cytosport is a pretty good deal there.)

Note: I have used myfitnesspal.com (MFP) (it’s free) for 18 months. It’s a good foundation with this program so you can eat your own stuff and track whether you are “hitting your macros” (macro nutrients, protein, fat and carbs) instead of following the menu (just use it for ideas). You’ll need to modify the default MFP settings a little to 40 percent carbs, 30 percent fat, 30 percent protein.

Link to book: http://www.amazon.com/New-Rules-Lifting-Women-Goddess/dp/1583333398

5 Reasons I Love Men: Book Review of The New Rules of Lifting for Women, by Lou Schuler

1. Men break the stupid rules. Quote from book:

you’ll see lots of guys pushing themselves out to the edge of acceptable form to get an extra repetition in their final set of an exercise.

I’d never advocate lifting with bad form. But there’s more to strength training than coloring inside the lines.

2. Men don’t put up with baloney. Quote from book:
When women are introduced to the weight room, they’re taught

and that small adjustments to accommodate individual biomechanics will put her in the ER. If anybody tries to instill such fear in a man, the sound magically stops before it reaches his eardrums.

3. Men are straightforward. Quote from book:
I’ve never once walked into the gym thinking, “Today I’m going to try to not get too big.”

4. Men aren’t sweet (unless they’re trying really hard, which is so sweet). Quote from book:
As a guy, I’m constitutionally incapable of being perky.

What I can’t bring myself to do is find a hundred ways to say “You can do it!” You can do it if you want to do it. I know it. You know it. Do I really need to say it over and over?

5. Men rock. Quote from husband:
“Honey, I want to get huge. Would it bother you if I got huge?”
“No.”
“What about if I had really big shoulders, you know, like this.” Shapes Arnold-sized proportions in air over shoulders. “Would that bother you?”
“No.”

Update as of 1/28/14: Taking a break from weightlifting right now as I work on yoga. But this book made me feel good. I bought The New Rules of Lifting for Life witih Christmas Amazon $ and plan to start it in a few months. 

Full title: The New Rules of Lifting for Women, Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess, Lou Schuler with Cassandra Forsythe, M.S. Workout programs by Alwyn Cosgrove.

Do you worry about bulking up too much?