Posted by Donna MacMeans Dec 5 2014, 11:45 pm in Christmas windows, Donna MacMeans, Victoria Alexander
Thanks everyone for visiting the blog on Tuesday. Funny how those Christmas themed windows from our childhood made such an impression! The winner of the prize of an ebook of Bound By Moonlight, or Whisky Laird’s Bed or an autographed copy of Victoria Alexander’s latest goes to ….
Congratulations! Now I need you to go to my website www.DonnaMacMeans.com and tell me your choice and leave your contact information.
Merry Christmas Y’all!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Dec 2 2014, 12:15 am in Christmas windows, Donna MacMeans, Victoria Alexander
I remember when department stores would decorate their windows for Christmas…not to sell the latest fashion or piece of jewelry…but to remind children of the magic of Christmas. Yeah – I’m that old
They don’t do that anymore in Columbus, Ohio. Do they do that in your town?
Recently I was in New York City, the marketing mecca of the east coast, and was thrilled to discover that some stores still carry on that tradition. Even though I was there in the middle of November – a whole two weeks past Halloween which has become the equivalent of cutting the starting line for holiday decorating – some of the windows were still covered. But a few were open to the public. You might notice a theme.
Now that I’m back home, I wish I’d taken pictures all of the windows but at the time I just took this one of the library at Macy’s. The ladder moved from side to side and the kids heads moved.
The next one comes from Lord and Taylor – lots of movement here though you can’t tell from the picture. I gather the mice are doing some decorating. The evergreen swag in the center of the picture twirled around in a circle carrying the mice along for the ride. The pages in the books in the top right corner and also on the left (not sure that one showed up in this pic) flipped through the pages. The little swordfish on the upper left would pop out occasionally. Fun window. One problem with photographing windows is that you get some of the reflection of the background in the shot. You can see a couple of street vendor umbrellas (hot dogs!) and some of the building across the street.
This is also from Lord and Taylor. No movement. Just one window in a series about cardinals I like the “Silent Night” quality.
Finally, thought I’d include this window from Lord and Taylor. The ballerinas dashed up and floated down. It was a smaller window than the others but fun.
As we walked around the city, I saw several stores had decorated the entire outside of their building. Wreaths hung in every window, or each window was outlined with lights and topped with a lighted bow – making each window look like a gift.
I happened to bump into Victoria Alexander while in NYC and now have an autographed copy of her latest, The Shocking Secret of a Guest at the Wedding, which I’m happy to send to someone leaving a comment. So, tell me, do the stores decorate in a non-comercial way in your neck of the woods? If not, what’s your favorite decoration this time of year. I’m ready for some Christmas magic!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Nov 30 2014, 11:45 pm in Donna MacMeans, Pardons, turkeys
LOUISA CORNELL – Come on down!
You’re the winner of the November 23rd blog. You have your choice of the LAIRD by Grace Burrowes or one of my ebooks. Let me know your preference by going to www.DonnaMacMeans.com.
Thanks everyone for stopping by!
Posted by Donna MacMeans Nov 23 2014, 12:01 am in Donna MacMeans, Grace Burrowes, Holiday Treats, Thanksgiving, turkeys, writing
One thing I’ve learned in this fiction writing journey is that the simplest things are often the most difficult. Why? Because a lot of work went into making that item look simple. When I started writing, I thought one sat at a computer and just told the story. Then I learned about pacing and how to keep the story moving forward. I learned about where to place the power words to allow the sentence to make the most impact. i learned dialogue could be more than dialogue – it could be banter with insight to character and subtext. The simplest things require prep work and skill, otherwise they fall flat.
The same is true with turkeys!
Here in the states, every year about this time, the President pardons a turkey and thus saves it from becoming a roasted turkey. It’s a good public relations move which allows for some joking and a nod to the National Turkey Federation. The cute event will most likely be on television, so the turkeys have to be on their best behavior.
Now turkeys are a pretty exciteable lot, and not too bright as my acquiantance who once had a turkey farm told me. They have to be trained to stand quietly on a table and be photographed. I read an article about a man who does just that. He chooses his pardon candidates from a selection of 80 turkeys and narrows them down to just two. He trains them by lifting them from the ground to the table and then lifts them from the table to the ground, twice a day for two hours each session. They are isolated in a small training shed where loud music and sports (crowd noises) are played to get them used to strange ambient noises. The trainer also introduces the turkeys to his dogs as the turkey cages will be checked by the Secret Service dogs when they approach the White House. He doesn’t want the turkeys to get rattled by that check. The trainer takes flash photographs of the birds while they’re up on the table so they’ll get used to the flashes and he invites school kids in to pet the turkeys so they’ll become adept at strangers handling them.
It’s a lot of work for 15 minutes of fame! I have to say, I’ll be watching the film clip of the official pardoning with a better appreciation of the work involved.
And, if nothing else, I read these days looking at how authors make complicated emotions and plot transitions look so easy. Nothing is ever simple, is it?
So tell me, dear readers, what have you found that looked easy at first but proved difficult on execution? Was it creating a yule log, or a gingerbread house? (I find the best cooking disasters involve chocolate. Even if the project fails, it’s good to eat ) Was it putting together a “some-assembly-required” project? Or how about learning to drive a car? It does get easy eventually, but seems impossible at the beginning.
Let’s share accomplishments and I’ll send someone who leaves a comment one of my ebooks – your choice – OR – I have an autographed copy of “LAIRD” by Grace Burrowes. But we’ll work that out later.
For a really treat, don’t forget to download your FREE copy of Holiday Treats today!
Thank you Morguefile free photos for providing the photographs for this blog.
Posted by Donna MacMeans Sep 5 2014, 3:58 pm in Donna MacMeans, Library Journal, reviews, The Whisky Laird's Bed
Just received this from the Library Journal:
Verdict The beauty of Scotland comes alive in the words of MacMeans (The Casanova Code) as if through the eyes of a talented photographer. The temperance movement, its history, and the difficulty faced by both sides are masterfully revealed. Finally, the developing friendship between our protagonists holds the perfect blend of steam and romance to please the most discriminating readers.—
Loved that “masterfully revealed” line.
Posted by Anna Sugden Sep 1 2014, 12:05 am in Anna Campbell, Anna Sugden, Annie West, Barbara Lohr, Caren Crane, Caroline Warfield, Christie Kellie, coming attractions, Donna MacMeans, Julie Benson, Nancy Northcott, Pam Mantovani, Patience Griffin, September Coming Attractions, Suzanne Ferrell, Tiara Wars, Trish Milburn
I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t believe it’s September already. Before you know it, shops will be stocking up for Christmas! At least those of you in North America have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep those retailers occupied. Here in England, we’ve seen tinsel and twinkling lights as early as the beginning of October. *shakes head*
Anyway, the weather may be cooling in the northern hemisphere, as summer fades into fall, but here in the Lair, the fun is heating up – rather like the weather for our friends Down Under! As usual, we have a month packed with great Bandita books and lots of fabulous guests. I can hear my TBR mountain groaning already!
Tawny Weber’s latest Sexy SEAL hits the shelves this month with A SEAL’s Fantasy. The title really says it all.
Also, don’t forget Caren Crane’s Tiara Wars (launch party coming on September 21!) and Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares.
We kick off the month in style tomorrow, with the return of a Lair favourite, as the lovely Annie West stops by to talk about her latest book, Damaso Claims his Heir. Damaso garnered a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and it’s a doozy of a read so check it out.
Donna will be interviewing Caroline Warfield about her debut historical novel, Dangeorous Works, on Sept 4.
On September 5th, debut author Patience Griffin makes her first visit to the Bandit Lair with her book To Scotland With Love, the first in her Quilts & Kilts series.
More fun on Sept 7th, when Nancy and Trish report on this year’s Dragon*Con adventures.
*Launch party alert* On 10th September, the fabulous Anna Campbell is holding one of the lair’s infamous launch parties to send her What a Duke Dares, book 3 in her Sons of Sin series, into the world with a bang. Swing by for a glass of ducal champagne and giveaways!
On Sept 12th, Barbara Lohr joins Donna to talk about her new release, Her Favorite Honeymoon. Barbara will be comparing a warmly familiar setting such as a small town series to a pulse-speeding read in faraway places or times, and asking which you prefer.
A familiar and beloved face returns to the Lair on Sept 16th, as Christie Kelley joins Nancy to talk about her latest releases, Vexing the Viscount.
On Sept 17 Trish hosts Pam Mantovani to discuss The Cowboy on her Doorstep, her debut novel.
More cowboys on September 18th, when Julie Benson returns to chat with Suz about her latest Harlequin American book, A Cowboy In The Making!
Don’t forget to check out this month’s Bandita contests!
Anna Campbell’s RT Book Reviews Top Pick, What a Duke Dares, is out in the UK at the end of October so she’s celebrating this momentous occasion by having a cup of tea and giving two entrants in her current website contest a chance to win a signed print edition of the beautiful Mills and Boon edition of the book. To enter just email her on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) with the names of the other full-length novels in the Sons of Sin series. There are two of them and you might find the answer here. The contest closes 31st October, 2014, and entry is open internationally.
Tawny’s giving away a free digital compilation of Hot Kisses to anyone joining her newsletter this month. To join and get your copy, just click here.
Do you have anything special that you’re looking forward to this September?
By the way, don’t forget you can buy most of these books quickly and easily by clicking on the covers!
Posted by Jeanne Adams Aug 12 2014, 9:16 am in Agnes Jayne, Dennis Frye, Donna MacMeans, Gail Barrett, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Jeanne Adams, Jeanne Ford, John King, Robert Savitt, Susan Donovan, Sylvia Day
Women, as Rudyard Kipling once observed in his poem The Female of the Species, can be deadly. They can be mean (a la Mean Girls), they can be just as much bullies as boys or men.
But, most of the time, they aren’t.
Most of the time, they will breathe their last breath before they let someone else go hungry, ill-clothed, ill-shod or unloved. Women will literally take the shirt off their backs and run around, embarassed, in their underwear, if it means they helped someone, as many did in the aftermath of the Boston bombing. Humans, men and women, have a generosity of spirit that overarches the petty concerns of the everyday.
Now, that’s not just in grandiose, flowery prose that comes with tradgedy and loss. It’s in the everyday.
Writers are this way too. Especially romance writers. Now, I started to say women writers, but I don’t personally know many women writers who AREN’T romance writers so I realized I shouldn’t say that. Most of the writers I know either are Romance Writers now, or they were before they branched into mystery or horror or thrillers.
Now, why the heck am I rattling on, and on, and on about this?
Well, this last weekend was the annual Nora Roberts Writing Institute at Hagerstown Community College in Hagerstown, MD. The “official” theme – if you could call it that – was COME LEARN TO WRITE! The unofficial one was HEY, YOU’RE NOT ALONE!!
People from all over the country come to the lovely small town of Hagerstown for this. From Washington State and Colorado, from Philadelphia (2 hours away) and North Carolina (6 hours away). To learn. To get the basics. To hear authors who’ve “made it” say, “You can do this!!” And they do say that.
Authors like Jana DeLeon talked about how they made it, and how “making it” is an everyday job. Yes, there are things you can do to enhance your progress – if you ever get a chance to take a class about promotion with Jana DeLeon, regardless of your business, DO IT! The woman is brilliant. But Jana shared more than the nuts and bolts of writing and promoting what you’ve written. She shared her time. Her precious writing time (because when you write, time is the one thing you always feel you don’t have). She shared her experience and more than anything, she encouraged.
The guys did too, don’t get me wrong. I’ll say the same thing about John King, former faculty member at Hagerstown CC. If you can get him to do a class on police procedurals for you? OH. MY. GOSH. DO IT!! He was born to teach, and to teach about how the police/cops/mounties/etc. work, think, hurt, believe. And he too was incredibly generous with his time and energy and knowledge. And he came all the way from Provo, UT, back to Hagerstown, to teach us.
Then there were the very well known and highly thought of and totally cool Keynote Speakers. That would be the internationally bestsellers, Sylvia Day and Hank Phillipi Ryan. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been to conferences where the keynote whisked in, spoke, shook hands with folks who were brave enough to come down to the stage, then whisked off again, into the ethers, never to be seen.
Not these ladies. Sylvia and Hank were present and answering questions throughout the weekend. They took the time to talk to these beginning writers, to encourage at every step, to hug, to mug for the camera, and to share. To generously share their journey. They shared their trials and tribulations. They shared that the work STILL has to get done, by you, the writer, even when your last book was on top of the bestseller list in 40 countries and translated into 41 languages. :>
Sylvia still has to sit down and write the next book. Every writer does. Hank does. Susan Donovan does. All the Romance Bandits do. These writers reminded us all that glamorous as others think our job may be, we STILL have to sit down, grumpy and rumpled or coiffed and heeled, and WRITE THE NEXT BOOK.
Hank Phillipi Ryan, who’s been a guest on the blog several times, is one who’s usually still in her work suit from her job as an investigative reporter, when she snags some writing time. Hank is funny, delightful, insightful and yes, generous. I’m diving into her latest THE WRONG GIRL and already anticipating her next book, TRUTH BE TOLD. (October)
Our own Bandita Donna MacMeans was a speaker, as were NYT Bestseller Susan Donovan, Gail Barrett, Agnes Jayne, screenwriter Jeanne Ford, historical writer Dennis Frye, media savvy Leigh-Anne Lawrence and Laura Reeth, and military historical writer Dr. Robert Savitt.
Every single one of them were wonderful, took the time to talk to and encourage new writers and pay it forward. They talked about how to stay in the chair with your hands on the keyboard and just DO IT. They talked about their own struggles and foibles. The audience learned that some are strictly regimented, and some take time to play. Some write at night, some early in the morning, and some whenever they can fit it in around their day job.
Some plot the whole book out before they begin to write. Some just fly by the seat of their pants. Some “brew and spew” as PC Cast would say.
All of them, as writers, remember what it was like to be one of the audience at a program like this, and so they share what the journey is like going forward. Time, energy, stories about editors and agents, about going solo, about when a story stopped on them, or fell flat in the middle. They shared it all.
That’s a generosity of spirit, of time and energy and life, that I’ve seldom seen outside the writing world.
What about you, Banditas and Buddies? In your field of work, do people share information?
Are your colleagues and co-workers generous with their time and energy and ideas? (And what field do you work in?)
If you’re a writer, what successful writer would you like to hear talk about their journey? Who do you want to hear? (Living or dead)
If you’re a reader, whose journey would you like to learn about?
Which of your favorite authors would you like to hear speak?
If you had your fav author in front of you, besides “When is the next book out!?!?”, what question would you like to ask? (And no, I didn’t learn when the next Crossfire book will be out…sorry!)
As a last note, I’ll say you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Bandita Donna read from The Whisky Laird’s Bed. Grins.
Posted by Jeanne Adams Aug 4 2014, 12:08 am in Anna Campbell, Barbara Devlin, Donna MacMeans, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jaws, Jeanne Adams, Stan Lee, Steel Magnolias, Thomas Crowne Affaire
“I do not think that means what you think it means!” (Princess Bride)
“Stop rhyming and I mean it!” “Anybody want a peanut?” (Viceni to the Giant – Princess Bride)
“Say hello to my little friend!” (Scarface)
“My Captain! My Captain!” (Dead Poets Society)
“I’m not angry, I’ve just been in a bad mood for 40 years!” (Steel Magnolias…I’m not sure I’ve got the quote exactly right on this one…)
“I’m pretty sure the answer to that one is going to be “I Am Groot”” (Guardians of the Galaxy)
“Take off the shiny suit and what are you, huh?” “Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist.” (Capt. America & Iron Man – The Avengers)
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (Gone With the Wind)
“Buehler? Buehler?” (Ferris Buehlers Day Off)
Ah! The snappy, witty come back. The throw-away, one liner that ends up being the quote of the month/year/decade. I love it!!
I saw Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend and I have to say that I immediately wanted to queue up and see it again. It’s fun, it’s funny and OMGosh, the witty repartee!! It was fabulous!! And, OH!, the one-liners!! There are so many, I’m going to have to see it again just to catch them all.
One of the things I adore most in a book or a movie is wit. Seriously, don’t you love it? The snappy comebacks, the clever banter. Great writing that translates on the page as brilliant back-and-forth between characters on the screen? Fabulous! I know I’ve mentioned before that we still snicker and snork over so many lines from The Princess Bride that it’s almost cultish. (I’m not saying I want to build a summer home here…) Same with a friend of mine and the unscripted line from Jaws, “I think we’re going to need a bigger boat!” And with a college friend, it’s Monty Python. (“Fechez la Vache!)
Sometimes they become a part of the lexicon. A generation’s language, a shorthand of global proportions, comes from movies that become iconic and nearly universal. “Life is like a box of chocolates.” “Run! Forrest, Run!” (Forrest Gump); “Yo, Adrian!” (Rocky)’ “Stella!” (On the Waterfront); “Heeeeeres Johnny!” (The Shining/Johnny Carson show)
And some are just between you and the person with whom you saw the movie like my sister and I, when things get heavy duty and more expansive than expected: “Muah-dib, we have worm-sign the likes of which even God has never seen!” (Dune – terrible version of the book, but oh! Patrick Stewart!)
Guardians of the Galaxy is, I can tell, going to be one of those movies. The quotable ones. The one-liner-becomes-lexicon ones. Yep, it’s that good.
It’s also really, really fun. There are elements of the serious hero movies like Superman and the Avengers, Iron Man and Capt. America – hey there’s even the usual cameo by Stan Lee – but the flat out, don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously humor of it is just impossible not to love. The moment you expect to be poignant is cracked by a joke. The moment you expect to be a joke, suddenly becomes poignant.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY who are already panning the movie. “Too slow!” “Too flippant!” “Too cerebral!” (Seriously? This movie couldn’t be cerebral if you spanked it with a spinal column!!) But, for me, it’s so incredibly well done, and so carefully “timed” in terms of action vs. repartee, pathos vs. blatant laughs, and seriously clever humor (“Metaphor!”) that as I said, I want to see it again. Grins.
What about you, Bandits and Buddies? Answer a few or answer them all….
Do you love a good wit in your movies? That humorous banter that just calls out to be used in everyday conversation? (“Amok! Amok! Amok!” – Hocus Pocus)
Or do you like that more subtle insult wit like Cap and Tony Stark? (“I’ll draw your blood for that sir!” “Tis I am the leech, yet you would draw my blood? I think not!” – Colonial Gov to Capt. Blood – Capt. Blood)
Have you seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet? (No spoilers!) Or are you going to see it?
Do you like your humor mixed with other things – humorous action movies like Marvel – or straight up, as in Austin Powers, or Robin Hood Men in Tights?
Do you like the witty in those fab English Historicals? Having recently read Donna’s Whisky Laird, and Christina Brooke’s Wickedest Lord Alive, I’m REALLY enjoying the wit of the English. My pal Barbara Devlin is also a past-master at the witty repartee in her heroes and heroines. I have laughed so much at some of the things Lady Rebecca managed to say without being “caught” at it in her My Lady the Spy! Ha! And our own Anna C’s books are packed with wit and sly innuendo. I must confess that I have sometimes not even caught the best of them on the first read, they’re so clever. Go, Anna! Ha!
(While I focused on the historical here, each of the Bandits has that wit – sharp and pointy! I love it! – in and of themselves and in their various characters. I ADORE blogging with them for that, much less reading their books. Ha!)
What’s the wittiest book you’ve enjoyed? What book can you think of that has that great back and forth repartee in the dialogue?
What’s your favorite movie for great innuendo and wit in the dialogue? (Thomas Crown Affaire!! The whole movie is a study in repartee between the Renee Russo character and the Thomas Crowne character!)
What’s your favorite movie and book for one-liners? (Movie – Princess Bride; Book – Elizabeth Peters’ Crocodile on the Sandbank where Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson verbally spar whilst running for their lives!) )
So….what about YOU???
Posted by Donna MacMeans Jul 29 2014, 11:45 pm in Donna MacMeans, The Whiskey Laird's Bed, Unexpected Pleasures
Thanks for sharing your unexpected pleasures with me last week.
The winner for a download of The Whiskey Laird’s Bed is….
Kathy Heare Watts!!!!
Kathy, please contact me at www.DonnaMacMeans.com with your contact infomation and the device you use to read on. I’ll get a download out to you ASAP.
Posted by Jeanne Adams Jul 23 2014, 12:18 am in Barbara Vey, Donna MacMeans, Gail Barrett, Hank Phillipi Ryan, Jana DeLeon, Jeanne Adams, Nancy Northcott, Nora Roberts, Nora Roberts Writing Institute, Sylvia Day
It’s here! Conference season!
Today (Wednesday) is the start of the huge RWA Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Many of the Banditas are there, promoting their books at tonight’s Open-to-the-Public Literacy Signing! They’ll be meeting up with old friends, new fans, and getting a start on learning what’s new in the writing biz. Yay, Banditas!! (That’s me and Nancy from last year’s Rita night….aren’t we snazzy?)
Virtually every field has a conference. Most have one or two, depending on their size or location. Miners have conferences, dentists and dental hygienists have conferences (Right Terry Brisbin?), doctors, morticians, romance writers, rodeo riders, cops, and probably robbers too.
Most fields have a group get-together to network, share new ideas, educate members on tried-and-true knowledge and, of course, to have a little fun.
I love conferences. I feed on all that people energy and adore meeting new writers, new readers, and people of all walks, talks and ilks. Grins.
I’m not in San Antonio this year as we were on vacation last week for Eldest Son’s last baseball tournament before he becomes a high school player. It was huge fun, but I didn’t see how I could manage going to Myrtle Beach for a week, then turn around and head to the hottest corner of He…I mean San Antonio, for RWA. Isn’t that a gorgeous view from our balcony?
Now that doesn’t mean that I’m not conferencing! Oh, no! I most assuredly AM! As many of you know, I had a blast at Barbara Vey’s annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon in April. If you’re anywhere near Milwaukee, you would LOVE this event! It’s in April. Check out the website here: http://barbaravey.com/readerluncheon/ 2015’s keynote speaker is the fabulous Tess Gerritson.
The pictures of me with Sylvia Day – could we have picked worse tops to put together for a photo? – and with the lady herself, Barbara Vey below, were from the 2014 event. Yes, I DO have alien head bobbers on my head. Your eyes do not decieve you. :>
This year’s Nora Roberts Writing Institute (Aug 8-10) is coming up as well. This amazing weekend event is a brilliant way to give your writing a kickstart, especially if you’re new to writing, or you’ve been away from it for a while. The keynotes at NRWI this year are the AMAZING Sylvia Day and the equally AMAZING Hank Phillipi Ryan. Hank’s been on the blog with us a number of times and she has a new book out too! Bandita Donna and I will both be presenting at the NRWI as well as the fabulous Jana DeLeon, Susan Donovan, Gail Barrett, Jeanne Ford, and Agnes Jayne (also a fab blog guest!!)
I’m really looking forward to NRWI this year, even more than last year, because I’ll be in the company of fabulous writers and great creative energy. You should come, it’s going to be great, great FUN. (Check it out at http://nrwi.org/ )
Since I won’t be at RWA (*sniffle*) I’m going to milk NRWI for all the energy and booksigning mojo I can get. Ha!
(Nora’s bookstore, TURN THE PAGE BOOKS www.ttpbooks.com is doing the signing on Sunday if you’re in the area of Hagerstown MD on August 10!)
I know Banditas Nancy and Trish will head, along with my WRW Pal, Jean Marie Ward, to Atlanta for DragonCon here before too long, and Comicon, Balticon and others will be rolling around in the fall.
What about you, Buddies and Banditas?
Do you love conferences, or do they just wear you out?
Is there a major conference in YOUR field? Do you go?
What about regional ones?
I know our Bandit Buddies Helen and Barb are fixtures at the Aus Romance Writers conference, and Banditas Christina and both Anna’s have been….Anyone else?
Ever had a conference romance? (Harder at Romance conferences, since there’s so few men…hahah!!)
What’s your favorite “It happened at a conference…” story? Mine’s about a logging demo….me, 300 loggers, some Caterpillar heavy logging equipment, jello….yeah, that was fun.