What I Did on My Summer Vacation – Vegas Anyone?

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And FABULOUS it is!

I was attending the Romance Novel Convention put on by male model Jimmy Thomas.

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Hundreds of romance writers…a few male models…

http://romancenovelconvention.com/rncasanova/mr-casanova-suitors/

I was lucky enough to have lunch with the hunky men pictured in the url above.  Check it out as there is some true eye candy there.  Although they ate with their shirts on.  What’s the deal with that?

Workshops filled the days and amusement filled the evenings.

What else could a girl want on a vacation?

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A Quiet Summer

Joan Reeves wrote about working in the garden during her long hot summers. I felt for her as I read how much she and her siblings missed out on summer-fun. Even with the small garden I planted this year, the weeding, etc., never ended. We’re still gathering hot and banana peppers, but the remainder of the garden is all but gone. Great veggies while they lasted.

I thought about a hot summer weekend when my husband and I visited with my father and his family. My husband wasn’t raised on a farm. 🙂

I’d stuck my head around the door to let him know we were going to get a few items for dinner. Like a good husband, he asked me if I needed money. I laughed. You don’t need money on a farm! We gathered potatoes, corn, okra, squash, tomatoes, several types of peppers, and whatever else I don’t remember. But, our baskets were loaded and ready for the stove. There was even a roast in the oven, that was raised on the farm. The one thing I can’t bring myself to do is drink fresh milk…ever again! Never, never, never.

A story my mother tells of my grandfather is, he used to walk up his property in the North Georgia Mountains to gather Sourwood Honey. That’s quite a walk for a sweet tooth. Nevertheless, there isn’t a tastier honey around. Later, my grandfather built his own Beehives. At my father’s house, I recall having freshly gathered honey for breakfast, or whenever, hot buttered biscuits, country ham, eggs and gravy,  every morning. Can I say Yum? Good thing they worked the calories, because that’s a huge breakfast. Delicious though.

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Last week I stopped by a produce market near my home and found a quart jar of Sourwood Honey, which I’d searched all summer for. Who knew it would practically be in my own backyard? My mother was thrilled. I grinned when I saw where the honey came from. Of course I passed the proprietor one of my cards of A Smoky Mountain Christmas cover and where to find my books.

If you’re interested in honey, check out this site:
http://www.smokeymountainhoneyhouse.com located in Asheville, North Carolina. Their site is currently under construction and you’ll be rerouted to http://www.choochoocoffee.com/Welcome-Smokey-Mountain-Honey-House-Customer.html

I found these interesting facts on honey. Fascinating. http://www.choochoocoffee.com/Honey-FAQs.html

So much for what I did this summer! We had a quiet summer, gardening and taking care of my mom. Normally I have my grandson a lot during school break. He stayed so busy, we only had him a few days. I really missed him, but he’s growing up and has other projects and people to do fun things with. He kept his parents engaged!

I was able to spend five days in Panama City, Fl. with him and his parents. A fast and furious five days. We had a wonderful time walking the beach searching for sea shells, and my grandson found a sand dollar. At dinner, Shrimp was my choice – every night. Now, Shrimp sounds good for dinner tonight!

I hope your summer was exciting!

A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website, here. http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books

A fast summer

This summer whizzed by faster than I could ever imagine. It seems that I haven’t accomplished anything. Yet I entertained many guests.

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Young guests like my precious grandchildren, adorable kids way too active and noisy, had me collapse on my bed by nine o’clock, delighted and exhausted after a day at the beach and the pool.

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Older guests wanted to hit the stores and take advantage of special sales. With them I discovered interesting places and new bargains. Believe me, shopping with a nineteen-year-old teenager was a lovely experience. Nice memories of long hours spent in fitting rooms with my daughter when she prepared for college brought smiles and tears to my eyes.

So that was my summer: two weeks with one set of grandchildren, two weeks with my cousin and family, two weeks with the other set of grandchildren.
Side effect: I am very nicely tanned.
But I didn’t write a single line.

However I boxed three of my best sellers: Babies in the Bargain; Right Name, Wrong Man; and No More Lies, in an anthology titled DOCTOR’S ORDERS.

BoxedSetFMD-DoctorsOrdersA boxed set of three Amazon bestsellers contemporary romance novels, with medical theme, sizzling passion, emotion and humor.

BABIES in the BARGAIN: Problems separated them seven years ago. Can an orphan baby bring them back together? “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” in the NICU.

RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN: What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms? A comedy novel set in France.

NO MORE LIES: A lie that brings a smile or a truth drawing tears? Secrets and second chances with humor.

Awards: BEST ROMANCE NOVEL at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2009.
2009 BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE NOVEL at Readers Favorite.
2011 EPPIE Award Finalist.
2010 BEST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE NOVEL at Readers Favorite.

Festivals, Fishing & Fun…Summer 2013

Summer and early fall are my favorite times of the year. When winter hits hard in Wisconsin, usually between December 15th and March 1st, I dream about Spring daffodils, summer festivals, and Scottish Highland Games. Every year we spend four days at Irish Fest in Milwaukee, the largest Celtic festival in the world. We have a team for the Run/Walk on the Saturday morning of the fest. All proceeds go to finding a cure for arthritis, something one if four Americans suffer from. It feels good to help fund research while communing with wonderful people and the greatest festival I’ve ever attended.

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This year has been a little nuts for me. I tested for my 5th degree black-belt in karate this Spring and then for 5th degree in weapons on June 1st, which also happened to be the day of the Spring Highland Games.  Talk about a whirlwind entry into the season. I literally blinked and now it’s the last week before my daughter goes back to UW in Madison. That fast, and the chaos of a new school year is quickly upon us; my son starts High School the day after Labor Day.

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We try to pack as much wonderfulness into our summers as we can. This summer has been no exception. One of my favorite parts of it we spent in the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. I love fishing and we never get to do enough of it. Last month I posted about the brown and cutthroat trout we caught at the dam in the Tetons and cooking them on the camp stove. Yum!

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The summer isn’t over…thank the goddess…and there’s still so much to do. We haven’t taken the bikes out yet and are set to this week. This is the first time we’ll have our daughter on her own motorcycle, she’s so excited and so are we.

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This year I’m running the dog tent at the end of summer Wisconsin Highland Games over Labor Day. Cian, our son, is helping with ax and knife throwing and my daughter will be taking a turn in the St. Andrews Society (the oldest charity group in Wisconsin) tent. It’s our last summer weekend and one we look forward to all year. It’s too bad it coincides with Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary celebration which is bound to be a fantastic event! So if you’re up for a trip to Milwaukee, check it out. If you’re not going to be here this year, come see us the third weekend in August next year for Irish Fest. I’d love to have you on our MACSKI’s Highland Food Team for the run/walk to Irish Fest, then stick around for one of the biggest and best cultural festivals in the world. A walk through the Milwaukee Art Museum after is definitely in order :). Bristol Wisconsin, right over the Illinois border, is also worth a stop for the largest Renaissance Fair in the country.

I sound like a walking advertisement for my state :). I guess I am. Summer and fall in Wisconsin are magical. Which leads me to my WIP (work-in-progress) part 1 of my Scottish Historical Damselfly series which takes place during the Viking age in Scotland, circa 900 AD. Merlin, from books 2 & 3 of my contemporary Warrior Chronicle series plays a leading role and I get to explore the beginnings of my Scottish secret society dedicated to preserving and sharing Celtic artifacts. It’s been fun exploring this imaginary world of myth and magic interwoven with bits of Clan Donald history. For any of you who have read FIGHTING FATE or DEFENDING DESTINY (just published last month and soon to be free on Amazon) if you’d like to see something special in the Damselfly Society lore, let me know and I’ll see if I can incorporate it. Could be fun  🙂

2013 Defending Destiny Fighting Fate Warrior

By far, the best moments of this summer have been the quiet ones spent with my family. The second best have been the moments writing a world I’d love to visit in this new series. Going to each and every festival along the way is like collecting bits of inspiration, some of which even make it into my books!

So I raise an imaginary glass and say, “Slainte” friends! Here’s to living every summer moment while the sun is long and high to the fullest whether your journeys take you across the continent or just outside your front door, may every step bring joy.

Groovy Times by Susan R. Hughes

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Me, Mom & my sister, fall 1972, at the old Britannia Park streetcar platform (where scenes from Someone Like You were set.)

This summer I’ve been working on the third book in my Music Box Series. This one takes place in 1977, when Ethan (a baby in the second book, Someone Like You) has grown up and decides to search for the birth mother he’s never known. Along the way he meets the irresistible Tess.

Writing about the 1970s has been fun. Researching earlier decades was a challenge, but I have many fond memories of growing up in the 1970s, so it’s not hard to put together an accurate picture of what life was like then. Sometimes I long for the days when everyone wasn’t glued to their cell phones, and we played board games rather than video games.

Some things I remember from the 1970s:

    • sh1970s-1ag carpeting
    • orange, brown and avocado everywhere
    • macramé wall hangings & god’s eyes
    • a profusion of houseplants
    • rotary-dial phones with coiled cords
    • my dad’s plaid pants
    • my mom’s blouse with a print of a centaur being stabbed with a spear (what was she thinking?)
    • collecting Smurf figurines
    • flipping through card catalogues at the library
    • beef fondue, of course!
    • Yahtzee
    • Shaun Cassidy
    • Grease and Star Wars at the movies
    • imagesLots of great TV shows (Three’s Company, Alice, Dukes of Hazzard, Starsky & Hutch, Wonder Woman, Bionic Woman, Donnie & Marie) and having to get up off the couch and turn the dial to change the channel!

1970_farrah_fawcettWhat are your favourite memories of the era?

Hot Fun in the Summertime by Joan Reeves

The Trouble With Love by Joan Reeves

The Trouble With Love: a Romantic Comedy set in a hot Texas summer.

Today’s post has a soundtrack: that classic rock song Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly and the Family Stone. Feel free to hum along.

I went to school in the “write a theme” era. I liked to write so that didn’t bother me.

Except the first week of every school year.

Every year, it was always the same. That dreaded command from the teacher: “Write a theme about how you spent your summer vacation.”

You see, my parents worked hard just to make ends meet. There was nothing in the family budget for vacations of any sort. My summers were always spent the same way: working at the farm in the kitchen garden. Our kitchen garden was humongous because it provided food for the entire year.

In the spring, we kids helped plant the garden. Then came the weekends we spent attacking the weeds with the sharp blade of a hoe. When school was out, every day was spent at the garden, keeping the weeds away from the plants, picking the peas — 2 or 3 varieties, beans — string beans and 2 varieties of butterbeans, squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, corn, and eggplant plus other veggies.

Of course, everything that was picked had to be: washed, shelled or cut up, then canned and/or frozen. The days were endless, and the work never ending. All these years later, just writing about it makes me remember how exhausted I was at the end of each day.

There may have been hot fun in the summertime somewhere in the world, but it wasn’t in the rural area where I grew up. A theme about how I spent my summer? Why not just copy the paper I wrote the year before or the year before that?

Imagination Training Camp

I think working those endless days were a training camp for my imagination. When you’re moving from squash plant to squash plant, picking the vegetables that seemed to grow larger before your very eyes, there was nothing to do but think. That was when I started making up stories in my head and letting them play like a movie.

Summer Heat

I’ve set several of my books in the summertime. I guess because I grew up in Louisiana where the summers offered blistering days, spectacular sunsets, and sultry nights. Heat is almost like a character in that it can affect the mood, the temper, and even affect how one dresses which can lead to all sorts of problems. Just take a look at my romantic comedy The Trouble With Love when by-the-book Deputy Susannah Quinn dons a bikini!

Bet You’re Wondering

My summers did get better as I grew up. There were summers when I traveled to other countries like the Philippines, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Italy, France — oh, and Disney World. *g* Perhaps the lack of vacations when I was growing up prompted my love of travel.

This Summer

Then there’s this summer when I traveled a lot — on the road from the house I sold to our weekend home where I moved my office. Back and forth from the Houston-area to the Texas Hill Country. Now, I’m ensconced up on the hill, watching the grass grow — when there’s rain — and watching it burn to a crisp when there’s not a drop of precipitation in sight.

Grab A Free Book

Whatever you do this summer, enjoy it. For everyone who comments on this post, from now through Sunday midnight, I’m offering a free copy of The Trouble With Love from Smashwords. Just make a comment and leave your email address if you want a copy of this romantic comedy that’s hotter than a bowl of Texas chili.

Post Script

Joan Reeves writes sassy, sexy Romantic Comedy. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit SlingWords or Joan’s Website.

Summertime, and the Living is Easy…

Well, I can dream, right? While this summer has been anything but easy, it has been fun. During June and July, my husband and I drove 7000 miles, visited 19 states, and took thousands of pictures. We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway (for book research and stock photos), Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park (more pictures), up through the Smoky Mountains and down to the Indian village (more book research), and back home to Texas on the first trip in June.

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On this first trip, we hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail, hiked down (and back up, OMG) to waterfalls, saw black bears, and fell in love with the Smokies.

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We thought that was it until Fall, until our daughter decided she’d had all she could take of Boston and needed us to come get her (and her third floor walk up full of boxes). So we took off again, this time taking a different route that took us through the Ohio Amish country, past two Great Lakes, through the Allegheny and Adirondack mountains, across Lake Champlain, and through the White Mountains, to the Maine coast.

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On this trip, we fell in love with the Amish country (and the food!), swam in a waterfall pool in Ithaca, NY, took the ferry from New York to Vermont, and photographed the Portland Head Light (the world’s most photographed lighthouse.)

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I’ve now visited 39 of the 50 states, and hubby has visited 48. So, of course, we now have a goal to visit all 50. And Canada. We’ve been to Mexico, so once we visit Canada, we’ll have the North American continent covered.

We’re hoping, finances willing, to travel this fall to California, up the west coast to Washington, and across the northern states as far as the Great Lakes, and back down, catching a few more states we haven’t visited along the way. Then next summer, we’ll finish off the lower 48 we haven’t seen, and make that trip to Alaska and across Canada.

I love traveling with the hubby. He’s extremely knowledgeable about so many things, so every trip is a learning experience. And more fodder for the books yet to be written.

Have you ever taken a major trip? What’s your favorite destination and favorites stops along the way?

Page One, Once Again

I’m rewriting the first novel I ever wrote and I can just say, AURGH. I decided to resurrect it when I was asked to participate in a boxed Christmas set with the awesome writers Authors of Main Street. I didn’t have a Christmas story, and to be included I have to have one by October. After some dithering, I decided I could turn the first novel I ever wrote into a Christmas feel good sort of thing. Shouldn’t take too long, I thought. Won’t be too hard, I thought.
AURGH.
It’s not a horrible story. But just to illustrate the difference from when I started to16 years of daily writing and countless workshops, classes and writers’ groups, here’s page one, before and after.
 
A Light in the Attic
(about 1997)
At the end of Elm Street, on the edge of a grove of orange trees, there stood a stately California Craftsman home. Surrounding the home was a curved path that wandered through gardens of azaleas gardenias, and roses and other flowers so pungent that their fragrance could brings fits of dizziness.
 
The sweetness of the evening was punctuated by the words tumbling out of the open window. “On a wing of frosty air, I hear thy prayer and my soul delights in the reverence. I feel thy presence and your longing for love and whisper peace to thy bosom. I will answer thee with a kiss.” The poet’s words circled the room, tickling the imagination of those seated on the heavy mahogany chairs and those perched on the velvet sofas.
 
A coyote on the edge of the arroyo cocked his head to the unfamiliar rhythmic voice, and a bunny enjoying a late night snack in the kitchen garden paused to listen, but Claude, sitting in the warmth of the café, close enough to touch the poet, Clavell, was oblivious.
 
Deirdre was his only thought, his only desire. He leaned forward, his muscles taut as if he were preparing to leap or flee.
 
(Notice there isn’t a point of view character for almost the entire first page.)
 
Christmas Lights in the Attic (still working on title)
2013

 

His only thought, his only desire—Deidre. Claude leaned forward, his muscles taut as if preparing to leap or flee. Sweat beaded under his oily bangs and he swiped it away, hoping his beloved wouldn’t notice. Claude shifted in his chair, fondled his tea cup, fingered his cookie and picked it to tiny crumbs while his gaze lovingly caressed Deidre’s slim figure. Mentally, he toyed with her dangly earrings and he tasted the sweet skin behind her ear.
                “On a wing of frosty air, I hear thy prayer—” Clavell, the man at microphone, droned on.
                What could such a person know of love? Claude wondered. The poet was handsome, in a slick, shallow sort of way. He probably didn’t know, hadn’t experienced, the pain of unrequited love—a love measured in decades, not mere years or months. Clavell perched on a stool near the great stone fireplace, a microphone in his hand. He didn’t read, but recited his memorized poetry.
                Grudgingly, Claude admired Clavell’s to share his feelings because Claude’s own emotions raged in his chest and he feared that soon his love would burst, and that his proclamations would spill out of him and interrupt the poetry reading. He imagined all his fine and tender words lying in front of him, sullied by exposure. The café patrons would lift their feet as his passion poured from him, staining the hard wood floor with his love.
Feeling desperate, Claude rooted through his postal sack until he found a pen and a flier with printing on only one side. He flipped over the flier—an advertisement from an air-conditioning company addressed to Mrs. Blanchard. Knowing old Mrs. Blanchard would never pay to air-condition her tiny condo, Claude began to write.
                In the soft moonlight I will whisper my love and you will answer with a kiss. His mind grappled for a word that rhymed with kiss while his gaze slid back to the poet. Maybe the poetry thing was harder than he had imagined.
 
(Look for this untitled story sometime in November.)
 
When I first started the rewrite/revision/overhaul I was tweaking every single sentence, obliterating clichés, passive verbs and run on sentences. I think at page 50 I decided that it would be easier to write something totally new. But after some thought I came up with a working strategy. I now read a scene and rewrite it. I don’t try to save anything except the gist of the story. It’s a rare and lucky sentence that survives. I’m still tweaking, so when I finally publish the book, the first page will probably read very differently. 
 
I’m so glad that this first book didn’t sell. If I had published then I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t have taken all the classes and workshops. I wouldn’t have learned to work so hard at tweaking and obliterating.
 
My yoga instructor is fond of saying, “Let go of everything you don’t need.” This is a good philosophy for writing, yoga and life.

 

 
What do you think of the two versions of my page one?

Lazy Summer Days? Not! by Jill James

This was supposed to be a lazy summer. No kids. No grandchild. Just lazy fun for Mr. and Mrs. James. A trip to Vegas. Some day trips to the Wine Country. Nope. Didn’t happen.

It started when we realized this was a milestone year. My husband would turn 50 in June. Our 25th anniversary was in June. He would retire after 29 years as a police officer in July. I would turn 50 in August. So the DH (dear husband) decided we needed to celebrate big. So we sent out postcards and invited 50 of our nearest and dearest to a luxury box at the Oakland Coliseum. Of course, it is now O.co park but I refuse to call it that. LOL

ballgame 1So, we picked a game that was during the day, was against another of DH’s favorite teams (the Angels) and we set the date. July 28th. My brother even made it up from San Diego with his family for the game and to help celebrate.

It was an amazing day at the park. Not too hot. Not too cold. In a luxury box with tons of hot dogs, sliders, popcorn, peanuts, Caesar salad, and cookies. Yum!

ballgame 2Icing on the cake? The A’s won!shed for blog

Then we decided we needed a shed in the backyard for all the extra stuff with DIL (daughter-in-law) living with us. That has become a big project too. It is almost done. But it needed a cement pad first. Oh wait! First, the old swing set had to go. Then the pad. Then (finally!!!!) delivery of shed parts. (It is build it yourself) Then two days for DH and me to build floor and two days plus for DH and buddies to build the rest. It is still not done, but it is close. It is enormous in our yard. 10′ x 12′ and 8 feet tall.

So that has been my summer vacation so far. How about you? 🙂

Jill James, writer of contemporary and paranormal romance
Coming Soon! Love in the Time of Zombies. (what else I’ve been doing this summer)

My Summer Vacation…Not Quite

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Technically, summer vacation is when schools are closed. But emotionally, mentally, summer vacation evokes aspirations and memories of camp-outs, sunburns, young romance, and not doing a whole heck of a lot. The only real expectations were fun and relaxation.

The last time I had a true summer vacation was 11th grade.

That summer was the last time I slept in, lazed my days away, toodled around with friends (the word ‘toodled’ may reveal my generation), and in general had an ab-fab, refreshing time with find memories to take me through the winter.

Grown up summers are somehow busier than non-summers. Something is wrong with that! 🙂 The camping and road trips with my kids are somehow more work than regular life, but of course the memories are priceless.

This summer has been no different. The illusion of slowing down and smelling the roses has evaporated once again, and extra busyness prevails. But it’s mostly a good busyness…son home from the Navy, getting to know the daughter’s new beau, watching homemade fireworks manufactured by one of my kiddos…and waiting for someone to call the cops on us…

Good times! Just without the restful part. Maybe it should be called something other than ‘vacation’, the antonyms for which include: labor, exertion, occupation, and toil. That about sums it up for me!

I have squeezed in some writing time (never enough time for that) and will have a new time travel romance novel released in the next month, so that’s fun too.

ImageWhen the jilted Sophie Bowen stumbles drunkenly into a stone circle filled with fireflies, she wakes up in a very different world—and time.

Beaten down by Lincoln’s War and personal tragedy, Gabriel Merritt has lost all hope. But when he finds Sophie in his field, a spark fans back to life.

In the post-war South still licking its wounds, Sophie and Gabriel find they have more in common than they think—but it takes a mysterious child to lead them to each other.

It’s the second book in my Tennessee Waltz series (the first is Kiss Me, I’m Irish), and there will be a third to complete it. Guess when that needs to get written?

Looks like I won’t see a fall vacation either. But there is blessing in the busyness, and I am ever grateful.

So tell me, is your summer restful or crazier than ever?