Saturday, September 27, 2014

For the Love of Cooking Cookbook

I was honored to be invited to participate in an author cookbook to benefit a lovely organization, and the cookbook is ready for preorder! If you buy now, you will receive a free e-book version as well as your printed copy.

Here's the press release by Snap4kids:

Today’s bestselling authors have shared their tastiest tried-and-true recipes with us and we have compiled them into a single book that will be treasured for generations to come. This mouth-watering cookbook contains over 110 recipes—everything you need from appetizers to desserts. Each recipe includes the contributor’s name, so it’s easy to find the recipes of your favorite authors. And with over 90 authors (many are USA Today and New York Times bestsellers), you’re sure to find several of your favorites.

Special features include:

  • Receive a free e-book copy when you order a printed copy. 
  • Many recipes include a personal story telling how the recipe came about. 
  • Each recipe contains a blurb about the author.


This year’s net proceeds will go toward three programs:

  1. The new weekly bowling program 
  2. Pizza for the weekly youth meetings 
  3. Scholarships for summer camp

Cookbooks are $10 plus shipping and are available at www.snap4kids.org.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cynthia D'Alba's Texas Twist Book Tour, with Giveaway!



Enter to Win
TONS of TEXAS TWIST Goodies
Gift Card, Mugs, T-Shirts, Etc




Real bad boys can grow up to be real
good men.

Hit hard by the death of her parents, Paige Ryan needs to figure out what to do with her life. She moves to Whispering Springs, Texas, to be near her step-brother. But just as she starts to get her life on track, the last man she ever wanted to see again sends it right back off the rails.

Cash Montgomery was on the cusp of having it all. Three bull riding titles, fame, fortune and respect from his family. Until a bad bull leaves him injured, angry and searching for comfort at the bottom of a bottle. With nowhere to go, he moves into his sister-in-law’s old ranch house in Whispering Springs—which he’s surprised to find already occupied.

As Cash rebuilds the dilapidated home and Paige starts out on her medical career, their old friendship begins to reemerge and sparks are ignited. Paige knows that Cash is nothing but a heartache waiting to happen. But maybe this bad boy has grown up to be a real good man?

Warning: Watch out for falling lumber, falling in holes, and falling for the wrong guy…again. You can leave your hard hat on.








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Award-winning author Cynthia D’Alba was born and raised in Arkansas. After being gone for 17 years, she’s thrilled to be back home living on the banks of an 8,000-acre lake. When she’s not reading, writing or plotting, she’s doorman for her two dogs, cook, housekeeper and chief bottle washer for her husband, and slave to a noisy, messy parrot. She loves to chat online with friends and fans.







Sunday, September 07, 2014

Adventures in Car Shopping

I got my first car 22 years ago, a Honda Civic hatchback coupe. Seven years after that, my husband got a company car and we traded in my Civic and I started driving his Corolla.

Fifteen years later, that Corolla is finally worn out enough that it makes more sense to buy a new car. Yay!

I spent many hours doing research online and narrowing down my options based on budget, safety ratings, reliability, and appeal. My top option was a Scion xD, in part because it was different. I hate that every car looks the same, and they're all silver, white, gray, red, or black. My entire life, I have not wanted to be one of the crowd.

So I went over to the Scion dealership and they had no xDs. He had none coming in, and none closer than 45 minutes away. There were no used ones. I reluctantly said I'd test drive the new Corolla while I was there. Instead of talking to me about the car, he used his phone to confirm that Scion is apparently discontinuing the xD. *sad face*

The Corolla didn't excite me at all. It's what I currently have, and I didn't want the same thing. They also made the steering wheel fatter with these big bumps at 10 and 2, and that just didn't fit my hands. So I was off to a discouraging start.

I stopped at dealerships to look at the Chevy Sonic (could NOT see myself in a Chevy), Mazda3 (a bit higher than I wanted to spend because you have to go up a trim to get cruise control!), and Hyundai Elantra. The Elantra might have still been on my "look at" list, but it was lower down for safety and reliability. But the most discouraging thing was that no one came out of any of the dealerships to talk to me. Apparently I wasn't worth braving the heat or something. So to hell with them.

Yesterday we went over to look at the Honda Civic and Insight. I liked the Insight okay, and it felt fine until I got into the Civic. It had firmer seats and a more "economy" feel, and since I keep my cars for over a decade, I want to be comfortable. :)

The Civic felt good, has some great features for a base model, and is top rated in safety and reliability, so I bought one! I even liked the color they put me in. The sales manager said he looked at the gray and the red (crimson pearl, which is a deep red) and decided I was more of the red. He was right! So I'm scheduled to pick it up Thursday.

Last night, I had annoying dreams. I kept rotating cars in my brain, researching and setting up test drives that I didn't go on. Then I had a real dream, with other people and events and stuff. We were going on a writing retreat, and I drove my new car that I had JUST picked up that day. I went to open the hatch (apparently I had a different car in the dream than the one I bought) and someone had backed up RIGHT against my tail. When I came around the car he pulled forward so I had room, but he had crunched my paint job and chipped a fist-sized hole right down to the metal.

The dream is probably because we were talking about whether or not to get the gap insurance, which covers the difference if your car gets totaled shortly after you bought it and the insurance company takes a few thousand off the replacement value. I still can't get the images out of my head.

Off to work, so I can earn my car payment. And then, today is FOOTBALL! *does a happy dance* What's making you happy today?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ice Bucket Awesomeness

A lot of things go viral. Some of them are silly, like dogs stealing frankfurters or Sweet Brown spawning a new catchphrase. Some are awful, showing the darker side of life or human nature. But some are pure awesomeness.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, a campaign to raise donations for and awareness of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease), has been around for a few months. But then friends and family of Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player, took up the challenge, and it moved like that virus on the new TV show The Last Ship.

I saw football player Julian Edelman accept the challenge—in the short video, you explain what you're doing and why, dump a bucket of ice over your head (he used a Gatorade sideline "bucket"), and challenge other people. Those people are required by the challenge to comply in 24 hours or make a donation to ALS. Then I heard that the owner of the New York Giants challenged Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, and Bill Belichick, the head coach (who had been challenged by others, too). The other day at practice, the whole team took the challenge and passed it along to the Jets (as did Jimmy Fallon; the Patriots also challenged the Dolphins and Bills). The Jets of course had to one-up them and used a fire hose.

The Kennedys took the challenge as a family, including 86-year-old Ethel Kennedy, who is just awesome. She challenged President Obama, got irritated at her granddaughter for helping her raise the bucket, and dumped it all over herself while wearing a white outfit.


This morning I found out my father-in-law also took it with a couple of his employees, challenging a fellow Gulf terminal.

So this is all fun and stuff, one of those things that penetrates the collective consciousness, brings us all together, and is just amusing to watch, right? Plus, of course, we're all saying "ALS" on a regular basis, because luckily the point of the game hasn't been buried under the friendly competition.

But it turns out to be so much more. According to the ALS Association, they have received—in two weeks!—over $4 million. That's almost four times as much as the same period last year, with three times as many donors. ALS is a 100% fatal disease with little treatment available, so the importance of this awareness and research money can't be underestimated.

[Edited 8/24/24: An article posted 8/19 stated that $15 million had been raised, and then on 8/22 was updated to $53 million. !!! The article also talks about whether the ALSA stands up to scrutiny as a charity.]

So I'll take ubiquitous food pictures and the occasional moronic uproar on social media, because the technology and societal factors that make stupid things possible also help make awesomeness possible, too.

[Edited to go along with the above edit: It is irrelevant if this is "episodic" giving that won't result in repeat donations. That doesn't negate they money and awareness that has been raised already, and I doubt the decline will be to baseline. Also, people DID give to other/additional charities during this viral challenge, and always will. Disasters and fun awareness campaigns help us focus our giving when otherwise it's a blur of noise and desperation making us feel that what we do is never enough. So I'm still all for it! :) ]

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Adrenalizing

What do you think of the new look?

If you subscribe to the blog (or are viewing it elsewhere), you have no idea what I'm talking about. Click here and check it out, if you're so inclined. :)

I started blogging originally on LiveJournal, mainly because I thought blogs were a cool way to say what I was thinking without having to bore the people around me. I'm kind of an opinionated person.

*pause for the fake incredulity and sarcasm*

I added a Blogger blog somewhere along the line, because people had their preferred formats. I posted the same thing in both places. Then eventually I let LiveJournal go, mainly because I'd outgrown a lot of the communities I'd kind of become part of. Except one person. Hi, Gail! :) (Gail is awesome, and I will always think of LiveJournal fondly because it made our friendship possible.)

As time went on, "author branding" grew more and more important. Everyone lives online now, and Internet real estate is vital. My writing has coalesced, so that all of my books, however different they may seem on the surface, are similar at their core.

My paranormal romances (Goddesses Rising and the Soul Series) have kick-ass heroes and heroines who are trying to save their world and each other, and some of those people have otherworldly abilities.

My romantic adventures feature kick-ass heroes and heroines who are trying to save their world and each other, but there's nothing paranormal or otherworldly about them.

My YA books are going to be slightly different, in that the same heroine will be the protagonist of many books, and the romance will be stretched out through them. But they're still about teenagers kicking ass and saving the world—while they figure out who the hell they are and how they fit into the world they're saving, of course.

I don't want to import this massive blog to my website, smart as that would be, but the time had come to tie it a little more closely to the rest of my online property. So I renamed it using my author tagline, Love with a Shot of Adrenaline, and changed the template. Climbing a mountain in the rain generates adrenaline, I bet. And the colors tie in to everything else.

You know what else generates adrenaline? Being overworked. It's not something I want to complain about. I'm very happy to have the amount of work I'm doing, and it's of a type I enjoy. But when Monday kicks you hard in the face, and you're like me, that nonstop adrenaline has bad side effects. Like dreaming about work when you're not checking the clock every half hour. And getting your heart flutter back.

My problem is that I care too much. It's not okay that I left work on my desk yesterday, even though I got all the urgent stuff done. It's not okay that I had three client projects in my inbox when I went to bed, even though I have to, you know, at least try to get half a night's sleep. It's definitely not okay when my daily word count doesn't get done, and it's especially not okay when work takes me away from my kids and husband—even if they're doing their own thing and wouldn't be hanging with me even if I wasn't working.

I'm a crusader for pushing my friends to be good to themselves and not beat themselves up for what they don't do, and to be happy with whatever balance they achieve. It's stuff I believe with my entire being.

Except, apparently, for myself. :/

Over on Everybody Needs a Little Romance, we had a recent guest who pulled soul cards (kind of like tarot) for all the commenters. I was floored by what mine said. I taped it over my desk:

Flow

It's time to let go. You're entering a period of gracious ease and flow. All is unfolding perfectly and with good timing. Everything is falling into place because you aren't resisting the drift of the great river of life.

When you're in a state of flow, you aren't pushing the river to go faster, and you aren't swimming against it. You just let go of the shore and enjoy the ride. If you aren't feeling the smooth currents of life, it might mean that you're trying to control situations in your life, or your'e being self-critical or judgmental. The way to move into the flow is through gratitude and appreciation, and by allowing others to support and help you.

I'm trying. Failing more than half the time, but trying!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Movie Lust


I don't know what it is. Maybe I'm a bit bored by TV right now. (Though Franklin and Bash comes back this week, yay! And then the Doctor!) Maybe I need inspiration for my writing. I don't know. But I've been watching and rewatching movies a lot lately. Old favorites like Galaxy Quest, stuff I never saw like Gravity, and more recent loves like Iron Man 3...and today I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy for the second time.

I give it a solid A. I'm getting tired of criticism that things aren't "unique." Nothing is, especially superhero/comics-inspired movies. All I want from film nowadays is enjoyment, and GotG gave that to me. It's all about the characters, and these are some great ones. I loved the writing that tweaked tropes, too. The speech that pulls everyone together, the self-sacrifice leading to a special moment between two people—they got turned very lightly on their heads. There were some fantastic lines that have already joined the common quotables in our house. It was just all very satisfying. (Though I will say I didn't find Ronan intimidating because all I could see was The Piemaker. Sorry, Lee Pace. :) )

Gravity sucked. One of my friends hated it, and everyone else seemed to be completely wowed, so I thought I'd be somewhere in the middle. Okay, the zero-g effects were great. Totally sold that she was in space the whole time. But everything else...ugh. No character development save a couple of slapped-on motivations that did not support at all the whole "rebirth" thing at the end. Heavy-handed symbolism does not add depth to a film that's pretty much all one big special effect. I was able to shrug off most of the illogic, but when Clooney unclipped himself—when he was at a complete standstill—because he was going to pull them both away and doom her, well, that did it for me. I watched the rest of the movie with a curl of my lip. (See this article that backs me up.) And while Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses, I got soooo tired of her panting cries as she spiraled or bounced. I can't even give this one a grade.

While at GotG I saw some really good trailers, too. The next Hobbit movie looks tremendous, and they overlaid the trailer with Pippin's heartbreaking song from Return of the King, which always brings a sting to my eyes. Big Hero 6 looks like great fun, and even the remake of Annie looks decent. I'd watch that on TV, probably, if I came across it. I'm not sure I'd seek it out. I swear there were more trailers when we saw GotG the first time (Number Two was like, "get to the movie already!") but I can't remember what they were. :(

What movie did you like best this summer? What are you looking forward to coming up?

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Making that Connection

I'm so happy to have Misty Simon back here today! Ivy is probably my favorite mystery series, and if you try one, you'll understand why! Take it away, Misty!

Thanks to Natalie for having me here today!

I love getting sucked into a story. It doesn’t matter what the vehicle is. It can be a book, a movie, a television show, a chat with a friend over coffee. I’m an avid listener and watcher, and as I listen and watch I can’t help but be drawn into the emotions and the vividness of what is being told.

I especially love getting lost in a book, though. What can be better than using your own imagination to see the characters, the rooms they inhabit, the dangers and struggles they go through? You can step into their world for a just a little bit (or three hours later you surface and realize it’s midnight and you have to go to work in the morning). Great storytellers are my heroes as they weave words and images into a tapestry that makes me laugh, cry, sigh, and cringe.

I adore stepping into someone’s world, a world they’ve lovingly created, one they’ve inhabited for weeks or months or years while they wrote this book. The characters become important to me and their struggles real to me (emotional or physical) when it’s done right.

And I always feel a little like I’ve awoken from a Rip Van Winkle sleep when it’s done. The happily ever after is just the beginning, the loose ends are tied up, justice is served. And I’m left to close the book with a smile, wishing there was some way to find those people and have a drink while we squee over the good parts.

Have you ever felt like you’ve known a character so well that you wished you could go find them and buy them a beer (or other beverage of choice)?

About the Author

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 so drop her a line.


The Wrong Drawers – An Ivy Morris Mystery

Ivy Morris is back, and this time she’s determined to stay out of trouble. She’s comfortably ensconced in her costume shop, happy as a clam. Happy as a clam can be, anyway, when her father has moved in with her for an indefinite amount of time, putting her love life frustratingly on hold.

So when her best friend asks for help with an in-home demonstration party, Ivy jumps at the chance to get out of the house and away from Dad. She has no idea of the subject until she gets a look at the cookies. But that becomes the least of her troubles when she walks straight into another murder scene. One where she’s the prime suspect.

What else could go wrong? When you’re Ivy Morris, the only right answer is “everything.” With the help of hunky Ben Fallon, this girl will try to figure out why she’s being framed and what it has to do with her getting The Wrong Drawers.

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