To-do

I love lists. But they can be tricky. It’s easy to put items on a list; it’s a lot harder to tick them off. I’ve had the same to-do list for the last two months. In the last three days, I’ve put my head down, worked my butt off, and accomplished the first five things, including sending two books out on submission. Resort Romances # 2 and Hollywood to Olympus # 2 have been submitted for consideration to my respective publishers. That is two books down in each series, two more to go.

Two is an important number this month. I have two more multi-part projects and that list will be clear. Ideally, this will happen by the end of the month. (It had better – one of those things is filing my income tax.)

Then I can start May fresh, with a brand new list.

I can tell you now… it’s a doozy.

Beyond Romance

I love my romances. I should hope so – I write them. But truthfully, I only started reading them about 12 years ago. Before that, I was all about mysteries and only mysteries. I think it’s Nancy Drew’s fault. I moved from Bobbsey Twins adventures, to Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden. Then I grew up a little and found the classic Ellery Queen and Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie shelves.  I branched out a little after being introduced to Tom Clancy but I was pretty happy haunting my two little mystery aisles in the book store.

Romances were what my mother read. She had stacks of Harlequin Presents. I snuck a couple into my room and read them as a teenager but they weren’t nearly as exciting as murder.

Then, about 12 years ago, I was heading out on my first tropical holiday ever and I panicked. I didn’t have enough to read! I went to the grocery store (since it was the only thing open that I could get to the night before I left) and there was a book stand in front of the cashier. Kresley Cole. I grabbed her newest release, and one of her other books that looked interesting, and headed south.

Instant addiction.  Kresley Cole writes paranormal romance. From there, I found Lora Leigh and Christine Feehan. And then the floodgates opened. I had years of reading to make up for because these were NOT my mamma’s romances.

Now about two-thirds of my library consists of romance novels, primarily paranormal and contemporary. (I’ve discovered I can read historicals but I’m super picky about them). I have found my people. I haven’t forgotten about my first loves though. Tom Clancy is gone but I have one more of his co-written Jack Ryan Jr books left in my TBR (to be read) pile. The latest JD Robb, Alexander McCall Smith, and Matthew Reilly (as well as newly reprinted Mickey Spillane) have all been added lately to my bookshelf as well.  I’ve even started to branch out into fantasy and sci-fi (I’m slowly getting into Frank Herbert’s Dune, Robert J Sawyer and Jasper Fforde).

One of the best things about loving romance is that it leads you to all of these genres. It’s not all smoochies, all the time. There is action and adventure and murder and space travel. It’s also nice to give yourself a break from your favourite genre so you can come back to it refreshed and ready to dive in. All roads may not lead to romance, but romance leads to all places under the sun. That’s pretty impressive for what a lot of people dismiss as a simple ”oh, it’s a romance” book.

Disney California Adventure

DSCF1107So right across the plaza at Disneyland is Disney California Adventure. Unfortunately, I spent most of the day at Disneyland proper and I didn’t know what to expect when I checked it out. People, give yourself extra time to check it out! It turns out DCA is very much about the new animated movies. In fact, the thing based on a live-action movie I saw was when the Newsies appeared during the parade.

By the way, it was totally cool that I caught a parade. The actors really know how to interact with the crowd, hence the picture of Woody taking a picture of me while I took a  picture of him. Jessie was on a trapeze-type bar on a moving float and looked like she was about to take flight.

DSCF1073Two rides I didn’t do were Paradise Park (a monster rollercoaster) and monster ferris wheel (where the cages are on tracks and slide around as the wheel revolves!). I did do a mini-rollercoaster called Goofy’s Flight School. It was precisely my speed. Other rides that were my speed were “The Little Mermaid Ride” and the ”A Bug’s Life” show.  I’m not super-adventurous and with all the goodies there, I could say at almost any time “I just ate.”

DSCF1080There was also a really cool animation section. They even had a person drawing cartoons in the store, as well as technical displays that were very interesting. I mentioned the forced perspective in Disneyland. In DCA we had the street where the hero and heroine walk off into the sunset.

DSCF1079Looks pretty normal, right. Look again. It looks fine until you see that the sky changes colour. In the first picture, two of the buildings have pieces that stick out to give it three dimensions. The rest is all paint. These people are soooo talented, especially when you consider how recently computers came into filmmaking. It all used to be done by hand. It boggles the mind.

DSCF1114One of the reasons I went to DCA second is because in the evening they have something called the World of Water light show. Basically, there are a series of fountains in the huge lagoon in the middle of the park, and they are set up to continually have a wall of water up. Scenes from pretty much every Disney classic are projected onto the water screen and a soundtrack is played along with it. Before it starts, the ferris wheel is shut down so it can be part of the show. The show is stunning and highly recommended; you have to stay for it.

Well, that ends day one of my time in Los Angeles. I only had 3 full days there so I motored. Next time, Universal Studios…

PUERTO VALLARTA SUNSETS available exclusively at Amazon

Puerto Vallarta SunsetsPUERTO VALLARTA SUNSETS is now available exclusively on Amazon. It will be coming to other e-tailers soon.

When tourist extraordinaire Dena Thompson spots Curtis Schuster in the airport, she picks him as her vacation project. The poor guy is wearing a button-down shirt on the flight to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; the uptight geek obviously needs her help to loosen up.

All Curtis wants is a quiet week on the resort. Although the nutty blonde keeps inviting him on her outings – to a tequila factory, on a dinner cruise – he keeps turning her down. However his refusals have a cost and every time he stays behind, disaster strikes.

When he does finally go out with her, Curtis discovers that having adventures is fun when Dena is involved. But since they only have a couple days left, the couple doesn’t know if their holiday romance will last once they get home.

 

Puerto Vallarta Sunsets – It’s coming!

Puerto Vallarta Sunsets Well this steamy, tropical cover ought to melt the frost off your cold, frostbitten heart!

Books To Go Now and I are proud to present the cover of my new short romantic comedy “Puerto Vallarta Sunsets”, coming to you very soon on Kindle (and on other e-readers after that.)

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When tourist extraordinaire Dena Thompson spots Curtis Schuster in the airport, she picks him as her vacation project. The poor guy is wearing a button-down shirt on the flight to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; the uptight geek obviously needs her help to loosen up.

All Curtis wants is a quiet week on the resort. Although the nutty blonde keeps inviting him on her outings – to a tequila factory, on a dinner cruise – he keeps turning her down. However his refusals have a cost and every time he stays behind, disaster strikes.

When he does finally go out with her, Curtis discovers that having adventures is fun when Dena is involved. But since they only have a couple days left, the couple doesn’t know if their holiday romance will last once they get home.

TSTL

TSTL is an acronym often found in book and movie reviews. It stands for “Too Stupid To Live”. More often than not, it’s applied to female characters who take action against all common sense and thoughts of self-preservation. You know the dumb one who goes downstairs to check on the noise in the basement when a serial killer is on the loose? Or the moron who opens the door to the flower delivery guy when she’s in a safe house and has been told specifically not to let anybody in? Or the kind-hearted ingénue who wants to believe the best in everyone and sends her banking information to the nice man in Nigeria so he can access his grandfather’s estate?

Yeah, her.

I met a TSTL character in a book I just read. At the 10% mark, she was a little annoying. At the 25% mark, I was waiting for the author to reveal the “got ya!” to show she was smarter than she was acting. And, honest to God, at the 50% mark I was rooting for the men hunting her ex-boyfriend to find her and shoot her to put me out of my misery. (She did eventually get shot. Unfortunately, she lived.)  I even started hating the hero for falling in love with a woman who was dumber than a rock. Dude, you could do better with Barbie.

The author did offer some kind of explanation at about the 65% mark but it was too little, too late. While I might have bought the heroine’s weak rationale for her actions earlier in the story, by the time it was revealed I simply didn’t care anymore. The worst part was that supposedly this woman was smart enough to own her own business – with staff, so it wasn’t a one person operation! – but she was utterly useless in the rest of her life.  If she were trapped in a situation, fine. If she knew she was making a mistake but couldn’t see another way out, that’s okay. If she asked for help and got bad advice, I can live with that. But just plain stupid pisses me off.

Relatedly, I read an interview/review for a completely different book (whose title I can’t remember at the moment) where the author said that she purposely made her heroine TSTL to show her growth to just “mostly stupid” by the end of the book.  Can I tell you how very quickly I didn’t mark that book “to read”?

Some people may find this type of character cute. Personally, I have a low tolerance for stupid people. I avoid them whenever possible in real life; I hate wasting my reading time on them even more. I’m a firm believer in the Darwin theory. If you create a character who is too dumb to keep themselves alive on their own, then I’m going to be rooting for them to die. Painfully. It’s nothing personal. Intelligence is a survival trait; I expect the books I read to show some.

Magic Kingdom

DSCF0999I don’t read a lot of fantasy but I know they often involve magical kingdoms and princesses. I was in the most famous of all magical kingdoms last week. Yup, this girl got to go to Disneyland.  The original one in Anaheim, California. The happiest place on earth. (And I’ll have you know that the earthquake off the coast in northern California AND the one in LA on Monday happened after I left the state. So there.)

DSCF1005I’ve been to Disneyland before. I was five. I am now… considerably older than five but it was still amazing.  This time around, I actually enjoyed Main Street USA. Quite unrelatedly, it has a disproportionate amount of candy shops. I’m just saying. Another interesting tidbit is that the designers used something called “forced perspective” when they built it.  The main floor is 7/8th scale, so you really don’t notice the height difference from a regular building. The second floor is 5/8th scale, and the third floor is 1/2 scale. Pretty cool, huh.

DSCF1007Disneyland is broken into four main areas. Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, and Tomorrowland. That’s in addition to New Orleans Square, Main Street USA and Toon Town. The funniest thing is Tomorrowland, which I believe was originally set in the distant future of 1985 when the park originally opened. Now Tomorrowland is the home of the Star Wars ride. Which I went on. Beside that was the Jedi Academy, which was adorable but ageist since they only let little kids go through Jedi training. Us big kids only get to watch from the sidelines. Across from the Star Wars attractions is the Buzz Lightyear ride, where I performed abysmally in defending Earth against evil aliens.

DSCF1011Disney, of course, was the dream of Walt Disney. He invented Mortimer Mouse, the precursor to Mickey Mouse. I’ve heard that the latest movie about him – “Saving Mr. Banks” was both really good – the story of Walt – and really bad – the portrayal of PL Travers, who created Mary Poppins – but I still want to see it. For one thing, it has Tom Hanks AND Emma Thompson, both of whom cannot put out a bad movie. But mostly I want to see it because “Mary Poppins” is my most favourite of all the Disney movies. It has the most sing-along-able songs and a chimney sweep and dancing penguins. Name another movie that offers all that – I dare you.

DSCF1055There have been some changes since the last time I was there. The Country Bear Jamboree is gone. Toon Town is there now. Captain Nemo’s Submarine Ride has turned into the Finding Nemo ride (no relation.) (Well, I assume there’s no relation. Do you think that the Pixar people named a clownfish on an adventure after the greatest underwater adventurer ever? I guess it’s possible but I never considered it before. Food for though, people.)  I boycotted Tarzan’s Treehouse because it used to be the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse and Tarzan evicted them. Nice one, Tarzan.

I did hit some of the classics – Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean (now with added Johnny Depp). It’s a Small World was closed, which probably saved me months of earworms. And, as always, the characters were out and about and available for pictures.

I’ll say this. Disney knows how to do it. That place runs like a Swiss clock. Even the lines go quickly because ones you are in the building, the sets around the lines are part of the entertainment. I’m glad I got to go but next time I’m taking at least two days so I can do it all – twice.

Winter reading list

Today in Winnipeg the temperature was above freezing. Spring is coming. I don’t know how long this thaw is going to last but it definitely signifies the beginning of the end of winter.

Since it’s been so cold, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Here’s what I found:

Darn you, Roxie Rivera!!!  I’ve been reading all of your Russian protector books for the last week non-stop! I’m currently on #4 – Nikolai (and yes, I read the Christmas book.) People, you must read these immediately. And the evil authoress has a second series out with carried-over characters that I’m diving into next called the Fighting Connollys – and I don’t even like boxing. Here, Roxie, just take all of my book money, why don’t you?

Dana Marie Bell (paranormal) – Bear Naked was a book that popped up over and over in the romance threads I haunt so I gave this new-to-me author I try. She’s getting the rest of my money. I have a soft-spot for shape-shifting bears and Dana provided the humour to go along with the sexy. It’s actually book 3 in the Halle series so I have to go back to the beginning, now, right? It’s a rule or something.

Kelley Armstrong (paranormal) – Spellbound. This is the last book in the Women of the Otherworld series and wraps up Savannah the formerly teenaged-witch’s story. I was pleased that Adam finally got his happily-ever-after but I’m going to miss the world she created. (Since Bitten came out, I’ve been rereading the series – next up, Frostbitten.)

Maddy Barone (paranormal) – Wolf’s Glory. This is book 2 in Maddy’s “After the Crash” series. I actually bought 1,2 and 4 but I’m mentioning this one because I loved the various layers it had beyond the initial romance.  She has some great characters that appear in later books. I know this because I met her in person (and she’s awesome!) and she told me so.

Mariana Zapata (contemporary) – Under Locke. If you like Kristen Ashley’s books, give MZ a try. It’s kind of motorcycle-y and definitely tattoo-y if that does it for you. Her book has a slow build but it was good enough for me to keep an eye out for whatever she does next.

I made it through JD Robb’s “In Death” books to #7 and I’m working on #8. I’m hesitant to buy past that because there are a lot of books in that series and they aren’t cheap. What is cheap, however, is the Children’s Hospital Book Market and I know they have lots there so I will take my list and fill in as many blanks as I can.  I also pulled out some old Lora Leigh (Mercury’s War and Coyote’s Mate are my two favourites of hers) and read Kristen Ashley’s latest Kaleidoscope (Colorado Mountain Series.)

Bitten

The wolf pack: Logan (Michael Xavier), Clay (Greyston Holt), Elena (Laura Vandervoort), Jeremy (Greg Bryk), Nick (Steve Lund)

The wolf pack: Logan (Michael Xavier), Clay (Greyston Holt), Elena (Laura Vandervoort), Jeremy (Greg Bryk), Nick (Steve Lund)

I have a new obsession, or rather a new version of an old obsession.

Several years ago I found the “Women of the Otherworld” series by Kelley Armstrong. The women are everything: werewolves, psychics, demons, witches.  But I have a soft spot for werewolves and those are the books I like best. Fortunately for me, some very wise people in TV-land agree with me.

The book: I reread it for the first time in years and rediscovered a pet peeve – it’s written in the first person. Aside from that, it was all the wonderful things I remembered. Elena Michaels was in love with her fiancé Clayton Danvers and he took her home to New York state to meet his family. Then he bit her and turned her into a werewolf without her knowledge or permission. She spent the next ten years in a love/hate relationship with him because of her struggles with her new furry side until she was called back from Toronto and her new fiancé to deal with a threat to the pack, at which time she made her final decision on her feelings for and future with Clay.

Read the book. It’s fantastic.

The show: We are halfway through the season, which is based on the book. They’ve made some casting changes. Clay is twelve years younger than in the book, Jeremy isn’t half-Japanese, and certain characters haven’t died and other ones have. They’ve also incorporated Elena’s life in Toronto into a whole new subplot (I have my theories that would set up a really amazing second season but that’s all they are: theories. Please note this requires a second season.) The core of the story is there: Clayton and Elena’s history, the choice she has to make, and the threat against the pack.

I’m loving the show. Tune in on Saturdays on Space and Mondays on SyFy.

I knew Greg Bryk would rock as Jeremy; he has the quietly bad-ass thing going on (not to mention I’ve been a big fan since his ReGenesis days.) I wasn’t sure of how Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) would handle Elena but she has the intensity down. Greyston Holt was a new face for me but he is doing a fantastic job as lovelorn werewolf enforcer Clay. Steve Lund is new to me as well to but he is very much the book Nicholas (and that’s a good thing.) I can’t say too much about Michael Xavier without spoilers but he’s doing great things as Logan.  Even the big bad wolves are a lot of fun.

I’ll probably post again about the show once it’s finished its current run (we are halfway through the first season) but if the networks are paying attention, I’d like season 2 immediately if not sooner please.

So, read the book and watch the show. You’ll be sorry if you miss them.