Sunday, December 30, 2012

Penultimate Day of 2012

I'm always sad when December 30th-ish gets here. The football season is (almost) officially over (not counting the playoffs, and the last game is being played right now). I have one more "extra" day off with New Year's Day, and then no holidays until MAY. That's always freaking depressing.

It's also a long, dark stretch with no good movies most years. And then, of course, there's the weather.

This has been a good weekend, though. A nice snowfall yesterday, enough to look great but not require TOO much shoveling. The Patriots won and Houston lost, so my guys get a much-needed week of rest on wild-card weekend. I got some writing done, and we went to the movies Friday night.

I wasn't that excited about seeing The Hobbit. I loved Lord of the Rings SO much, and The Hobbit felt like a weak second act. Plus, it's been so long since Return of the King, and my obsession was completely cured. But I also felt like I had to see it, and Number One and her father really wanted to, so we went while Number Two was at a sleepover.

And it was really great! I loved the ties to Lord of the Rings (which were really ties from LotR to The Hobbit) and since I hadn't been reading much about the film, I was surprised by a couple of the cameos. I came home and had to watch Fellowship again. Which was great, except that I can no longer watch the council scene without thinking of Jack Black and his "special" ring at the MTV movie awards...

On Tuesday I might go see Silver Linings Playbook. I'd wanted to go on my birthday, but it wasn't playing here yet. Part of me doesn't want to see it, because of the mental illness storyline and the Philadelphia Eagles. But I love Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and I hear it's got a lot of humor. So I'll probably go.

There are other things to look forward to. Some way off (Star Trek and my writing retreat in May, various book releases spread out over the next six months or more), some very close (I'll reveal the cover of Heavy Metal this week!). And of course, there's the year-end round up and preparation for the new year. Spreadsheets galore! LOL

What are you looking forward to most in 2013?

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Thanks to Misty Simon for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog hop, way back on December 3rd. I'm late, but I had to get through the previous two blog hops first! :) So go see what Misty had to say about her WIP, and here's mine:
What is your working title of your book?
Shattered Glass

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to do some novellas to fit in between the books in my Goddesses Rising trilogy. Alana and Chloe, two secondary characters who appear or are mentioned in each book of the trilogy, were logical choices to find their own happy endings.

What genre does your book fall under?
It's a paranormal romance, though the paranormal element has a smaller impact on the story than it does in the full-length books.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I really suck at casting my characters. I never picture anyone in particular for them. They're completely unique people, most of the time. Who's a quiet, pretty, average-looking actress and a smooth, yet sincere lawyer type actor? :)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
It's been a long time since Alana was so attracted to a guy, and the attorney for the Society for Goddess Education and Defense is hard to turn down—a huge mistake, when she discovers there's no way to keep her dangerous secret and have a healthy relationship.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?It's not contracted yet, but I hope it will be published by Entangled Publishing sometime next year.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Still working on it! Due to other deadlines, it's already been way too long.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Comparisons give me almost as much trouble as character casting does!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?Originally, I was inspired by the writers of the TV show Supernatural and the relationship between the brothers on that show. Shattered Glass doesn't have anything to do with that direct inspiration, but is an extension of it through the series. Credit has to go to my editors, Kerri-Leigh and Liz, who suggested filling in the gaps between novels with short pieces.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
Sports fans might appreciate their first date, at a pro football game. The heart of Alana and Shane's conflict is her fear that he can't care about her the way she is, rather than the way he perceives her.

The writers I'm tagging are:
Paula Altenburg
Michele de Winton
Decca Price
Patrice Luneski

Look for their posts the week of December 31!

Rules of The Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Today is My Last Day Being 41

First, thank you to EVERYONE who participated in the holiday blog hops for the last two weeks. Congratulations to Carla H. and Kimberly H., the winners from this blog. Stay tuned, opportunities always arise.

NEXT! In case you didn't see my social media blitz on Thursday, I have a new book out! If You Believe in Me is a Christmas short story from Entangled Flirts.

Three years ago, Amber Benedict fell in love with Kale Riker and pledged to wait for him to return from military service. Even though she rarely hears from him, she’s steadfast in her belief: he’s coming home to her, and soon. Then the government tells Kale’s family that he’s missing in action, and the Rikers have given him up for dead. Now the entire town is set on convincing Amber to let go of a dead man and move on.

Amber is certain Kale is still alive and on his way home, but can she hold out against an entire town pushing her to give up on love?

If You Believe in Me
by Natalie J. Damschroder
Contemporary Romance Short Story
Entangled Publishing, 2012
ISBN 13: 978-1-62266-869-4

Purchase From:
Barnes & Noble

Tomorrow I turn 42, and I can't wait. I'm really tired of the number 41. I never felt "old" until I read a local newspaper article about my writer's group back in April. They quoted me with "...says Natalie J. Damschroder, 41, who..." That number looked ugly in print.

But 42! Is not ugly! In fact, it's the answer to life, the universe, and everything, is it not? I know they never figured out the question, but maybe *I'm* the question!

Okay, that's getting too deep. In more ways than one. Moving on.

Forty-one was not a bad year for me. I just like even numbers better, I guess. Since my birthday is so close to the end of December, my personal year coincides with the calendar year. It's a nice way to keep things organized. I skipped my annual round-up post for 2011, so prepare to be bored out of your mind, as I gather TWO sets of data in a week or two. You've been warned!

We celebrate birthdays seriously around here. Not flamboyantly, but with intent. Tonight we went to dinner, because tomorrow my husband's NFL team plays a late game and his family always comes over to watch. My game is at 1:00, and so is the kids' soccer game. So they're getting me pecan pancakes from Cracker Barrel for breakfast, then I'll open presents, then they'll clean for the guests, then we'll do soccer, then I'll watch my football game in the bedroom while they cook dinner for the inlaws, then I'll probably do some writing* while their game finishes, and if I'm lucky, we'll get to watch more Firefly**! Sounds pretty good, right?

*Who am I kidding? If I get the bookstore gift cards that I ASKED FOR, I'll be shopping, not writing! LOL)

**We have indoctrinated Number Two into the cult of Firefly. We forced her to watch the first episode, and she liked it. So she said okay when we asked her to watch the next two. Then she asked to watch an episode on a school night! She didn't like Shindig as much, so she's resisting my push to make her watch Safe tonight. I think once we get to Jaynestown, there will be no more coercion necessary.

On Monday, I have The Next Big thing posting, thanks to being tagged by Misty Simon before my blog hops. Then it's CHRISTMAS! For all of my readers who celebrate, please have a very happy, safe, fun holiday.

For everyone else, keep the non-apocalypse party going!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mistletoe Madness Blog Hop

I love giving and getting gifts, but the older I get, the harder it seems. Especially for my family and friends who live far away. I don't know what they already have, what they want, or what kind of gift would just be lame.

So I fall back on gift cards a lot. A LOT. Amazon, iTunes, VISA, a grocery store near my loved one, Target or WalMart, specialty websites, even gas cards for the new car owners. It never feels personal or exciting enough. So why do I keep doing it?

Because I love getting them! It's not just the joy of possibility that's opened up when you tear off the wrapping. It's also the joy of shopping without guilt! Getting something I might never have bought for myself, or at least not right now. Bookstore gift cards are the best. I always have a long wish list, so those get eaten up pretty fast.

More general cards are good, too. I rarely shop for clothes, but give me a department store or mall gift card for my birthday, and I can't wait to get to the after-holiday sales. :) A gift card for our local grocery store means I might get stuff that doesn't have coupons, or fill my entire tank of gas without getting depressed by the number on the screen.

So I figure if I love gift cards this much, they must be a pretty good gift, right? What do you think?

I'm giving one lucky winner a copy of both books that have been released in my Soul series of paranormal romance, Soul of the Dragon and Souflight. Once the giveaway is over, I'll contact the winner to determine preferred format. Go to the bottom of this post for entry information, and
click the image at the top of the post to go to the main giveaway page, where you can register for the Kindle Fire giveaway. Use the link(s) below to visit other hop participants, all of whom are offering prizes! :)

Thanks for participating

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Friday, December 07, 2012

Entangled Under the Mistletoe Blog Hop

Don’t forget to check out what the other authors participating in the hop are giving away!

I'm so excited to have my first holiday story coming out this week. If You Believe in Me is an Entangled Flirt, the first short story I've had released in a couple of years.

This is also the first story I've done in a very long time that's a straight contemporary romance. Usually, I have some kind of adventure or suspense plot, heroes and heroines chasing bad guys, the risk of death.

Well, okay, this one doesn't escape that completely. Kale Riker is deep in black ops, struggling to get through one final mission in time to get home for Christmas. The guns and heat and sand and bad guys aren't typical Christmas scenery.

But back home, we've got a small-town heroine immersing herself in the spirit of Christmas, helping run the Breakfast with Santa for underprivileged kids and taking elderly friends for last-minute shopping, not to mention cooking, donating, and preparing every minute of the day. Not that it's helping keep her mind off Kale, the love of her life, who's been missing for six months and whose parents have given up on ever seeing him again...

(Don't worry. What would a reunion romance be without the happy ending? Especially at Christmas!)

Check back here for more information! In the meantime, you can enter my giveaway for a free copy of the story! And don't forget to click the link above to see the other posts and giveaways! Have fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

More (Probably Way Too Many) Thoughts on Change

I just read a great blog post by Laura Drake, and equally great comments, over at Writer Unboxed. As often happens, it sparked a lot of thoughts and rather than hijack the comments with my own opinions, I decided to bring them home. After all, that's why I have this blog in the first place! So I can listen to myself talk! LOL

Here's the background:

RWA is Romance Writers of America, a national organization that is exactly what its name suggests: an organization created for writers of romance in the United States of America. It has a very specific charter defining the purpose of the organization, and is obligated to stay close to that charter in order to maintain its nonprofit status with the IRS. RWA chapters are also required to stick to the purpose of the umbrella organization, because RWA's nonprofit status extends to us—and trust me, we want to keep it that way! :)

RWA is one of the very few writers organizations that allows unpublished members and doesn't (currently) require us to prove anything. A group of 12,000 people tends to evolve in certain ways, and periodically, RWA is forced to haul its policies and practices back in line, almost always in response to adjustments in IRS regulations or attention.

Several years ago, the romance genre burst out in different directions. Chick lit, adventure, fantasy, and urban fantasy all took off. But the more you add to a story, the less "focused" it might become. All of those stories had romance in them but stretched certain conventions of the genre. The heroine might have multiple romantic interests over time, or the romance may be a smaller part of the story. RWA members found homes for these books by creating chapters focused on certain subgenres (like the Women's Fiction chapter discussed in the post linked above) and by adding categories to the genre's top contests.

This year, RWA's board decided to remove the Novel with Romantic Elements categories from those contests and eventually notified chapters that their bylaws must match RWA's: "To advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy . . .”

Laura's description of the WF chapter's decision made me very happy. (I really encourage you to read that post, but essentially, they've elected to disband under RWA's umbrella but continue in a new incarnation outside of it.) So often when something like this occurs, the response is purely negative, even acrimonious. When we heard that the young adult category of the contests would require the entered books to contain a romance, many comments were along the lines of "how dare RWA dictate what I can put in my books!"

But that's the thing. RWA doesn't dictate anything. The organization doesn't tell readers what to read or publishers what they can publish, and it doesn't tell writers what to write. There is nothing wrong with an author or group of authors deciding RWA doesn't meet their needs. I just don't understand why, when that happens, there's so much hostility toward the organization for being what it is instead of what the individual or group of individuals wants it to be.

Look at it this way. Chiropractors and nurses work in the medical field and serve a similar purpose to medical doctors in keeping people healthy. But do they attack the American Medical Association, calling them names and accusing them of nefarious intentions because they aren't allowed to join? No! They created their own organizations to meet their own needs, instead!

I think RWA makes it too easy for us. They do their job—providing opportunities for networking and advocacy—so well that we get lazy. We "find our people" and don't want to let go of them, so when our personal needs deviate from the boundaries of the organization, we want to change them to fit us instead of clearing our own place in the world.

It takes very special people with unique traits to be able to do that kind of clearing. To have the strength and dedication and passion to work that hard and face the challenges that come with it. The founding members of RWA had that. Perhaps the members of the Women's Fiction chapter and their leadership have it, too. I think the publishing world can only benefit from having more organizations dedicated to specific groups of writers and the genres in which they write. Let's use RWA as a template instead of a target. It can only strengthen us all!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Christmas Season May Now Officially Begin

Two things happened this weekend that allow me to finally get in the holiday mood!

I say "finally," but really, with this year's calendar, everything is earlier than usual. I refused to let my husband play Christmas music in the car on Thanksgiving, and I steadfastly ignored all references until this weekend.

So what happened that "allows" me to feel it?

The first Saturday of December is always my Central PA Romance Writers holiday party. It forces one member (this year the fantastic Misty Simon) to decorate and clean so she can host us all. She did a fantastic job, especially considering she's got to travel in two days! Then 20-25 of us come and hang out, mingle, talk, and eat great food. We also do a small gift exchange. I'm sooo happy with the one I got! It was like Delynn Royer put it together specifically for me. It's everything I need for a cozy night of writing: two pairs of really warm, fuzzy socks, truffles, hot cocoa, and a tiny bottle of Kalhua, my favorite liqueur. Tiny so I can't get too drunk to write. :)

The other event was cutting down our Christmas tree.

Sticker Shock!
We've been going to one tree farm since shortly after Number One was born. Once in a while we'll get a pre-cut tree from the Boy Scouts or the local fire department, but this was likely the last year that Number One would be with us to choose it, and she wanted to cut it.

We take a hay ride out into the tree fields, hiking up and down muddy hills until we find a great tree. It didn't take us long this year, once we stopped searching for lower price tags and started looking at the actual trees.

At least this one wasn't $84!
Our final choice—nice shape!

Evidence of Number Two's hard "work" cutting the trunk.

Her father's evidence of REAL work.

Number One tries to cut off excess limbs.

Hauling the tree back down the hill.

After a very comical session of "tie the tree to the roof and climb in through the windows" and hot sausages, hot dogs, and hot cocoa from the catering truck, we drove verrrry slowwwwly back home. Success! Tree stayed on the car!

Now our house smells wonderful. We haven't decorated yet, but that's part of the fun of the early weeks of the season. That, and getting serious about shopping!

Do you have a real or artificial tree? Take the ornaments down, or store the tree in a bag and stick it back in the corner every year? :)