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!

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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? :)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Time to Crack the Whip

Get back to work!
This is my second favorite time of year. Yeah, it's colder, and drearier. We have to rake and clean the gutters (again and again) and after that everything just looks a little bleak.

But it's still football season, and rivalries are heating up. Sundays are exciting. The girls are starting indoor soccer this weekend, which is always fun to watch. And, of course, we have the holidays.

This year, I didn't do NaNoWriMo (could have, but not in a position to start a new book). My freelance work slowed down, and the stream at my day job slowed a little, too, for various reasons. I've drifted through the month, doing what needed to be done but not as much of the non-urgent stuff as I intended.

That's got to change.

I did start Christmas shopping early, so that part isn't going to be heavy pressure, as long as I don't get cocky. :) After losing 17 pounds I got lazy and stopped counting calories, but I've still paid attention and haven't gained back even a tenth of a pound. I'm going to be vigilant over the holidays but won't worry about budgeting until we get through the difficult period. Difficult meaning I don't want to go to author lunches and family meals and parties and spend the whole time going, "do you know how many calories are in this dip?" Moderation is the rule, with a focus on not eating when I'm not hungry. More challenging with patients keep bringing in cookies, so there's one whip to be cracked.

Another is productivity. I'm struggling with my time management. Like yesterday, we had a staff meeting after work, so by the time I got home I had just enough time to do the dishes and put away my laundry before I had to go pick up Number Two at school. Then I went to the gym with Number One, came home, took a quick shower, made dinner, ate, had to go back to the school to pick up Market Day (a grocery fundraiser for the schools). By the time I got my client work done, it was after 9:00 p.m. I have to figure out what I'm going to do with that. Get up earlier, force myself to work later and hope it's not dreck because of temporary brain death, or push myself to do one page here, a paragraph there. That's always easier when you're writing fresh and can take it anywhere, though. When you're editing, you have to keep details straight, and get into the world of the story, and be locked to your computer. Minutes at a time aren't very efficient.

But where I really need to crack the whip is in the story itself. I'm working on two. In one, I don't think the big breach is serious enough. I keep going back, but until this very second haven't hit on the solution. It just hit me that I have the problem occurring too early. I just need to move it to a little later, and I think it will work out perfectly. I can stop struggling to create conflict and it will happen more naturally. Yay!

The other project is Soulflight, which was written and set aside long ago. Unlike book 1 in The Soul Series, Soul of the Dragon, I haven't updated this book several times over the years. So it needs a lot of updating.

I thought going into it that it would just mean tweaking technology references and stuff, and that's how I started. But I'm not going far enough. The fact that YouTube didn't exist then and plays such a huge role in our lives now means it is integral to the plot.

So I need to get tough and not take the easy way out, trying to fit the pieces that are there into the new reality. No, I have to dig in there and put a lot more pressure on my heroine. She has to be more afraid, more in danger, more desperate. I've always struggled with making things challenging for my characters, but now that I know what I have to do, it feels better.

So I'd better get back to it!

Is there anything you need to be harder on yourself about right now?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fall TV 2012

I haven't picked up too many new shows this season, and I've already dropped a couple that I started.

1. The Failures
I watched the first episode of Partners. It was eh. I like the actors, but it just wasn't fresh enough. Also tried The New Normal, and got a few weeks into that one. But I got tired of the "issue of the week" preaching. I don't watch sitcoms to have a message pounded into my head, especially one ("everyone has valid points, even, or especially, if they don't think the way you do") that I already hold. We tried Last Resort, which had potential but would get kind of weird at odd moments. We watched 2 episodes of that, I think, and had 4 or 5 recorded when we heard they'd canceled it. So I dropped that off our season pass.

We also dropped The Mentalist this year. Bored. Tired of Red John. The end of last season was compelling, but what we loved best about Patrick Jane in early seasons was gone. We've had conflicts timing-wise with other shows, so we just deleted it.

2. The Successes
Arrow has to top the list. It's not super-fantastic, but somehow, it's the show that I think about most during the week. I love the potential I see in it, for all the people around him to join his crusade. I do want it to expand beyond the list in his book, which it seems like it's already doing. Flashbacks have been all the rage since Lost, but these are intriguing. I want to know how he got the way he is, especially from such a ridiculously opposite extreme.

I'm also enjoying Revolution. Number Two is loving it, too. It's her replacement for Terra Nova. :) Charlie's forehead does a lot of independent acting, but either I'm getting used to it, or she's getting a little more subtle. It's not her fault, really, that she has fifty more muscles in that section of her face than the rest of us do. :) Billy Burke has been a revelation for me. I wasn't excited to hear about his casting, but he's been tremendous as Miles. And if I hadn't already been hooked, they'd have had me with Colin Ford a couple of weeks ago, as the second-in-command to a group of kids left on their own after the militia murdered all their parents. Yes, this is a dark show.

So it's good that Go On is not! I mean, yeah, it's about a guy whose wife died, who's so depressed he was forced to join a support group, but it's FUNNY! I think the cast has good chemistry, and the characters are just quirky enough to keep us entertained without being silly or unreal. You've got to love Matthew Perry, of course, to love the show, and luckily, I do. :)

The other new show I just picked up is Wedding Band on TBS. Gabe Tigerman, who played Andy on Supernatural, had tweeted that his wife is in the show. I have a soft spot for him after he sat with us for hours in the hotel bar at the first NJ Salute to Supernatural convention, and as an author seeking an audience, I get how hard it is for a show like that to get a toehold. Still, I didn't get serious about watching it until I saw that Brian Austin Green was the lead. Yeah, there's nostalgia for my young adult days with Beverly Hills 90210, but really, I fell for BAG when he was on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. His character is MUCH different, which makes me sad (I miss the moody, intense man of action), but I enjoyed the pilot and think it's a keeper.

3. The Rest
So many returning shows! I won't blah blah blah about all of them. The older ones I'm routinely enjoying, if not dying to get to every week, are How I Met Your Mother, Bones, Hawaii 5-O, New Girl, Fringe, Glee, Covert Affairs, Once Upon a Time and Big Bang Theory. Nothing revelatory in any of those.

Revenge isn't quite as tight and satisfying as last season, but my boss and I are still eager to discuss it every week. It's fun to try to figure out motivations, and I'm enjoying Emily's new softness, her recognition that she can be merciful and compassionate. Of course, then she makes a guy confess to murder and go to jail, but no one changes overnight.

Haven is probably my most compelling show right now. The ticking clock has definitely upped the suspense. The look on Nathan's face every time Audrey touches him still kills me—but I admit, with not a small amount of guilt, that Duke's "friendship" with her has me by the throat. Gotta love a delicious love triangle. I like Jordan (but not too much) and the shrink (love her!), too. Nice to have some balance, gender-wise.

Nikita and Castle top my list, too. They've twisted everything up and made it fresh, which means both are still very compelling. On Nikita, the turnaround on Division has given them some new kinds of cases and new relationships, while on Castle, having Rick and Kate together has been fantastic. It's so awesome to see her *happy*, and him in love. And the secondary cast is as great as always. 

Then there's Supernatural, of course. I'm on the fence about it. There's a lot that I love—Cas, Benny, Mrs. Tran, Crowley, Garth, the Big New Goal—but I'm disappointed in the writers for slapping on a conflict that makes no sense, just to keep "tension" between the brothers. Having them acting out of character to give them something to be mad about is SOOOOOOOOOOOO tedious compared to previous seasons' tension due to their deep, disastrous brotherly love and mutual drive to save the world. After 7 years, can't they just be brothers? Can't they start to heal?

We're on Doctor Who hiatus, but I thought they did a fantastic job with Rory and Amy's exit, as much as it broke my heart. I LOVED the actress/character from the season opener, so I'm sure I'll love the new companion, too, even though she's a different character. I don't know if the big storyline that they've only teased will be as huge and fantastic as in the previous two seasons, but it's got me hooked.

I'm probably forgetting something somewhere. What shows are top of your list this season?

Monday, November 19, 2012

News and More News!

So things have been (still, despite my best intentions) very quiet around here. We had some good guest blog posts (check them out below) with more to come. But *I* haven't had very much to say, have I?

But it's not like I haven't been up to anything! There's so much neeeewwwwwsssss!

1. Trip to Boston
Part of the reason for no new posts is travel and the pressure that puts on your work schedule. I took Number One to Boston for a couple of college visits. Very successful trip! On the way home, we stopped at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. Partly because I can't go to eastern Massachusetts without stopping. Partly because she's never been. So we peeked through the gate and shopped in the pro shop and ate in CBS Scene. Of course, the Patriots were in London, so there was no chance of a glimpse of anyone. *sigh*

2. New Website
I have been in dire need of a new website for a long time. What I had was clean and could be navigated without too much confusion, but it was also dull and had become cumbersome over the years. I had to change my hosting to a WordPress-friendly product, which took down my old site, so I've had to rebuild fairly quickly. I'm taking a class while I do it, and I keep finding myself tweaking links and HTML and CSS and looking up an hour later. See what you think!

3. The Soul Series
I've also started self-publishing the "series of my heart." Many of you have heard the term "book of your heart." That's something they tell new authors to write. Not to write to trends, or what you think you should, but the book that's residing deep in your heart. All of my books have been that, but Soul of the Dragon was my first one. There were problems that kept it from being acquired by a publisher. I've revised it over the years to address some of those, but some of the things that keep it from fitting a rigid definition of romance are still there. I hope that doesn't keep people from liking it, but I'd love to hear from anyone who gives it a try. The second book in the series, Soulflight, I hope to have out in a couple of weeks, with the other two books to follow on an undetermined schedule.

4. EPIC's eBook Awards
I was very excited to find out that Acceptable Risks, my most recent romantic adventure from Carina Press, was a finalist in the 2013 EPIC eBook awards. I have stiff competition in the romantic suspense category, and can't wait to see who wins. Check out the full list of finalists here. The winners will be announced in March 2013, at EPICon.

So that's it for now! Tell me what you've been up to, help me catch up!

Speaking of catching up, in a couple of days I'll post my long-overdue thoughts on the new fall TV season. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

On the Funny Side of the Moon

Please welcome one of my best friends, Misty Simon, as my guest blogger today!

Several years ago, I remember being at a Romance Writers of America conference and feeling hopeless about the current market. Would I ever sell again? Everything I was reading, from industry news to current releases, seemed to be dark and angsty – dark paranormal, angsty women’s fiction, dark and angsty contemporaries. While I love reading these things, writing them was never and will never be my forte. I know life isn’t all about sunshine and rainbows and happy unicorns, but it seemed that readers wanted to be driven to the depths of despair and I just was not built to write that.

Poor Natalie had to read my attempt at writing a dark paranormal and let’s just say that it is still hidden somewhere on my hard drive and leave it at that, shall we?

But I persevered. I told a group of authors at that conference that I wanted to still be writing when we got back to the light side of the moon. And here I am, happy as a clam. I find that more and more readers want to laugh, they want to snicker, and they want to guffaw. I try hard to provide all that and a good story.

What’s Life Without the Sprinkles? was actually the first book I ever wrote. Believe me when I say it looks and reads nothing like it did in its first draft almost ten years ago. At that point I think I had seven points of view and a totally clichéd story line. But I wrote and rewrote and wrote other things in between. I published many things, too, but this story will always have a special place in my heart. 

Claudia and Nate are two people who I always wanted to find on the street someday and invite them to dinner. My hope is that you’ll come away at least wanting to have coffee if you can’t spring for lasagna.

So now that I’m still standing on the light side of the moon, I also find myself on the funny side of the moon. Laughter and humor is so subjective but I think I hit a funny bone or two.

Buy Now at Amazon | All other formats and retailers on 1/25/13

Cake maker and single mom Claudia Bradley thinks she has life all figured out—until her best friend Nate starts looking like a mouth-watering dessert and her son’s father comes strolling back into the picture as if he’d never left ten years ago. Throw in a case of preteen angst and a family with lots of well-meant advice, and, well, she’s whipping up a recipe for chaos!

Nate West has always been there for Claudia, a basic ingredient in her life, but suddenly she is flirting outrageously with him when she’s never looked that way at him before — despite his dreams. With her ex-lover back in town, Nate isn’t about to renege on his years-old promise to always be the friend Claudia needs, but does she want more?

She’s as tempting as butter cream frosting with sprinkles, and he’s mighty tempted…

Misty Simon loves a good story and decided one day that she would try her hand at it. Eventually she got it right. There's nothing better in the world than making someone laugh, and she hopes everyone at least snickers in the right places when reading her books. She lives with her husband, daughter and two insane dogs in Central Pennsylvania where she is hard at work on her next novel or three. She loves to hear from readers, and you can check out her website at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anniversaries, the Baltimore Book Festival, and Taking a Break

First, I have to say please enter this giveaway. At the time I'm writing this, there are 666 entries, and that gives me the heebie-jeebies. You have a few more days!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Under the Moon by Natalie J. Damschroder

Under the Moon

by Natalie J. Damschroder

Giveaway ends September 30, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
Next up, Baltimore!

On Friday and Sunday I will be participating in the Baltimore Book Festival in Baltimore, Maryland. (See the link in the sidebar to the right -------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>). I don't know what's more exciting: being able to meet SO many readers, or being able to meet SO many authors! :) There are many authors from both of my publishers attending. If you're in the area, stop by!

It's the biggest event I've ever done as an author. I'm going to be at the Maryland Romance Writers tent. There are author panels all weekend long. I'm going to be doing "Trends and Readings in Romantic Suspense" with Joya Fields, Caridad Pineiro and Rebecca York (not too intimidating!!!) on Friday at 5:00 p.m. Then on Sunday, I'm joining Kate Dolan, Stephanie Draven, Laura Kaye, Alethea Kontis and Catherine Asaro for "Making Old Stories New." I'll have a giveaway each day, as well most of the other authors. Can't wait!

After that, Wednesday is...the season premiere of Supernatural! No, wait, that's not it. Wednesday is my 20th wedding anniversary! My husband can't believe it. Alternately, he feels every minute of those 20 years. :) Because of work and stuff, we're going out on Friday. We talked about doing a trip, but with all the overnight visits to colleges and the awesome but not-cheap vacation we took this summer, we're keeping it casual. Dinner and maybe a movie. Whooo, we're party animals! But it will be nice to have some time that's focused on just each other.

Speaking of time...

I've been taking a much-needed break over the past couple of weeks. Not a complete break. I still have my day job and my freelance work and promotional obligations carrying over from last week's release of Under the Moon, but I've actually gone almost all of a weekend without working. Almost! LOL

I'm finding it difficult to get back to work, though. The summer really burned me out, and having no pressure, no "OMGthishastogetdoneNOWeventhoughit'smidnight" feels really good. Too good. I spent a lot of evenings re-watching Doctor Who (only up to middle of season 4) or reading instead of working. It's necessary, but at some point I have to kick myself in the a$$ and get back to it.

After Baltimore! :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stereotypes in Sci fi (And How I Tried to Avoid Them) by Guest Blogger Aubrie Dionne

A great big welcome to the fantastic sci-fi author Aubrie Dionne!
Be sure to read all the way through and enter her giveaway at the bottom.

We’ve all seen the gray, scary aliens trying to dissect people, the clunky robots with little or no emotion, and the evil galactic empires ruling the universe with an iron fist. As a sci fi writer, I tried to avoid these common plot lines in my New Dawn series, and go against the associations people have with science fiction in general.

1. Scary/Evil Aliens 
Thanks to movies like The Thing, Alien, Mars Attacks, Predator, and others, aliens are evil power-hungry creatures that eat/dissect/kill people and take over the world.

Without giving too much away, the aliens in Haven 6 actually coexist with people. Called the Guardians, they live much longer than people and are able to keep the society’s long-term goals in mind from generation to generation. They are peaceful, intelligent creatures that often marvel at humanity's ability to feel and express emotion.

2. Robots 

Star Trek broke the mold with this one. Data wasn’t clunky at all, and he endeavored to understand emotions and develop his own. In Star Wars, C-3PO and R2-D2 have personalities and emotions, but they are reserved for comic relief.

In the New Dawn series, I play around with the idea of people connected to machines. They aren’t robots, because they are real living people, but they are not normal once they are connected to the machines. Each colony ship has people in varying stages of connection to the central processor on the ship. In Haven 6, the commander is a brain in a glass aquarium of pinkish liquid. She controls the ship, and the mission objectives. Some people whisper that being connected to the computer for so long without a body has made her crazy.

3. Evil Galactic Empires

This one, perhaps, is the most fun to write. You have instant bad guys. However, if you do create your own evil galactic empire, it has to be original, and very different from the one in Star Wars. Or that’s what people will think of. In the New Dawn series, the colony ships have lost contact with each other, so each ship has its own laws dictated by a book called the Guide. There is no evil ruler of them all, per se. But the commander of each ship does not favor democracy.

Are there some sci fi stereo types that I’ve left out? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you so much!

Haven 6

A product of an illegal pairing, Eridani is the only woman without a lifemate aboard the colonization ship, the Heritage, and she is determined her less than perfect DNA will not get in the way of finding love. As the ship nears it's final destination of Haven 6 after five hundred years of travel, images of the surface show evidence of intelligent life on a planet that's supposed to be uninhabited.

Commander Grier assigns Eri to the exploratory team to spy on the alien society and return with information on how to defeat them. When Eri's team lands, tribes of humans attack and Eri is saved by Striver, the descendant of a colonist and a pirate from Old Earth's colonization efforts in other parts of the galaxy. Striver helps Eri rescue her team and they are drawn to each other despite their different allegiances. While Striver battles with trusting Eri, Eri must decide whether to warn him and his people about the commander's intentions, or follow orders and complete her mission.

Available soon on Amazon

Available Soon on Barnes and Noble

About the Author

Aubrie grew up watching the original Star Wars movies over and over again until she could recite and reenact every single scene in her backyard. She also loved The Goonies, Star Trek the Next Generation-favorite character was Data by far-, and Indiana Jones. But, her all time favorite movie was The Last Unicorn. She still wonders why the unicorn decided to change back to a unicorn in the end.

Aubrie wrote in her junior high yearbook that she wanted to be "A concert flutist" when she grew up. When she made that happen, she decided one career was not enough and embarked as a fantasy, sci fi author. Two careers seems to keep her busy. For now.

Now for the professional bio:

Aubrie Dionne is an author and flutist in New England. Her writings have appeared in Mindflights, Niteblade, Silver Blade, Emerald Tales, Hazard Cat, Moon Drenched Fables, A Fly in Amber, and Aurora Wolf. Her books are published by Entangled Publishing, Lyrical Press, and Gypsy Shadow Publishing. She recently signed her YA sci fi novel with Inkspell Publishing titled: Colonization: Paradise Reclaimed, which will release in November 2012. When she's not writing, Aubrie teaches flute and plays in orchestras. She's a big Star Trek TNG fan, as well as Star Wars and Serenity.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Barbara DeLeo Debuts as a Guest Blogger—from Cyprus!

Please give a hearty welcome to Barbara DeLeo, who has honored me with her first guest blog post! Her book, Contract for Marriage, is burning up the lists! Welcome, Barb!

Hi Natalie!

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog and huge congratulations on the release of Under the Moon. It looks fantastic and is ready on my e-Reader!

I’m lucky enough to have a book out this week, too. Contract for Marriage is my debut novel and I couldn’t be more excited!

This week’s been a bit crazy in other ways too. My family and I have traveled from the Greek Island of Lesvos to the city of Athens, and now we’re on the island of Cyprus! By family, I mean my husband and his parents, my twin girls who are 11 and my twin boys who are 8. And we’re travelling through Greece and Cyprus together for a total of 3 months.

If you think that’s a recipe for insanity, then you’d be right! But it’s also an amazing cultural experience (my husband’s parents are from here), a unique opportunity to have 24/7 time together as a family, oh...and a huge amount of fun.

We started planning the trip pretty much when the girls were born. For us all to go back to the countries where my in-laws were born, and where my husband and I had lived in our twenties, would be incredible. The birth of another set of twins kind of put the brakes on things a little, but we kept the goal in our sights.

There were many things that we compromised on to save enough money to be able to take three months off work, pay airfares for eight people, and have enough for living expenses while we were away. No new car in nine years, no snazzy house renovations, none of the latest gadgets—it was sometimes hard to keep the dream in sight but we all believed in it enough to see it through. And now it’s paying off daily.

Writing with a view to getting published’s a bit like that. You need to keep your eye on your goal and stick with it through all the tough times, the crows of doubt, and the people who can sometimes put obstacles in your way.

If I leave one thing behind from pursuing a career as an author, I hope that my kids learn that if you want something enough, believe in it for all the right reasons, then the sacrifices will be worth it in the long run. They’ve seen the results this week with the release of my first book, and the amazing time they’re having on this trip.

So, what’s the goal that you have for yourself, and how are you putting things in place in your life to meet it and avoid the distractions that could make you stray off your path?

 I’m sitting here with my piece of baklava and a Greek coffee, dying to hear from you!

Contract for Marriage

Pregnant and alone after her ex-lover’s death, magazine editor Ruby Fleming’s not about to give up her home to the man who broke her heart—until she discovers her mother left half of the estate to somebody else, and she realizes she’s trapped.

Property tycoon Christo Mantazis wants the one thing his riches can’t buy—the villa where his mother has lived and worked as housekeeper for forty years. That it’s the same house he was banished from after being caught making love to the owner’s irresistible daughter stirs up old memories and now he wants her more than ever.

When Christo offers a marriage of convenience, Ruby knows it’s the only way for them to get what they want. Ruby needs her baby to have the link to its past, Christo needs his mother to retain her home, and for him to have the child he could never father.

But it’s another need—to have Christo again—that Ruby must resist at all costs.

Learn more about Barbara DeLeo at her website.