Thursday, April 17, 2014

Off The Beaten Trail



1. Living Plant Jewelry...how cool is this? Check out Passionflower To Wear shop at Etsy...she has live plant rings, necklaces and bracelets. LOVE THEM!




2. Looking for something new to read? Check out this debut collection of stories by CB Anderson--RIVER TALK. I love this quote, from Monica Wood...

"I adored these stories, every one of which engaged my mind and my heart. Anderson writes with wisdom, generosity, and beauty about people we don't see often enough in contemporary literature. She gives us minimum-wage strivers, doing their best and sometimes their worst, and asks us to see them, hear them, walk with them for a while. Anderson is a marvelous writer, but her best gift is simple and rare: empathy."

I already got my copy, and I can't wait to read this over my spring vacation. You might want to visit Anderson's website, too.



3. There is a giveaway at Goodreads for Heather Rigney's debut novel WAKING THE MERROW. Go enter! This is one of the most amazing books I've read in recent memory. A mixture of New England history, raw yet compelling characters, and horrifying fantasy. It's a must-read! The release date is June 2014.



4.  On Sunday my family is heading down to Sanibel for a week of spring vacation. We'll be doing the regular stuff: collecting shells, paddle-boarding over manatees (my son did that last time...hee hee!), and biking around the island.

But my favorite activity is visiting Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. It is a gorgeous spot to see wildlife of all kinds...mangroves, birds, fish, alligators.



If you are ever in the Fort Myers area, I highly recommend this spot if you get the chance for a visit. It's spectacular.

All right, my little chickadees. Enjoy the spring sunshine. I'll check in after my vacation.

Ciao!
Penny

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

When Setting Comes To Life


There is nothing quite as exciting as reading a book when the setting comes to life.

Suddenly, you are right in the middle of a bitterly cold Canadian street. Where you can feel the icicles on your skin, the numbness in your fingertips, the bleakness and despair of the winter freeze. (Thank you, Louise Penny).

This is one of my favorite things, and I have the utmost respect for authors who are able to bring their settings to life.

Over the past few days, I enjoyed two books with this lovely talent on display, and one amazing film: Babette's Feast.


My mother, sister and I watched the 1987 film together and snacked on a platter of cheese, crackers and dried fruits while enjoying this incredible movie. The story is set in an isolated seaside Danish village in the 19th century.  The austere way of life is reflected by the pale palette of the buildings, clothing, and surroundings. You can hear the wind, feel the cold, and are completely immersed in the loneliness and starkness of this setting. Until Babette brings more than taste buds alive during her decadent meal of turtle soup, blini with caviar, and the spectacular Caille en Sarcophage avec Sauce Perigourdine (quail in puff pastry shell with foie gras and truffle sauce). You feel just as giddy as the devout townspeople who have tasted heaven for the first time in their lives. Such a charming, lovely, and romantic film. I highly recommend it!

Grade: A


Next up, THE CHOCOLATE THIEF by Laura Florand. This was my first book by Ms. Florand, and I must say it will not be my last. She transports the reader to Paris, with all of the quirks and charm and deliciousness of the city. The premise is fabulous...the American chocolate heiress vs. the talented Parisian chocolatier. Sparks fly between these two as a delightful courtship takes place. And it's nestled in tissue paper and dark bitter chocolate, dusted with cinnamon. Florand manages to pack all of my favorite things into one lovely story: amazing writing, laugh-out-loud humor, a charming romance, and a lush setting that brings the sweet simplicity of a perfect piece of chocolate bursting to life. Bravo, Ms. Florand!

Grade: A


Finally, a scrumptious amuse-bouche by Ros Clarke: Island Fling. This is a very fast read, but the gorgeous writing and vibrant setting make it a satisfying experience. Clarke brings the simplicity and beauty of a remote Scottish town to life, along with the layers of paint and regret of the two main characters. Her writing voice is a breath of fresh air, and her painterly writing style is a perfect fit for this art-inspired story. I love short stories like this that are a lush snippet of life. This is one quick bite, but it's satisfying and romantic. 

Grade: A



Happy Spring,
Penny

Friday, March 28, 2014

Heading To The Burgh!



Heading off to the BURGH...aka Pittsburgh, my hometown.

I have a girl's weekend planned with my mom and sister, which hopefully will include watching Pitch Perfect and checking out the spring flower show at Phipps.

My Kindle is fully loaded with...

The Pirate's Secret Baby by Darlene Marshall

Second Chances by PJ Fiala

Bewitching by Jill Barnett

The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand

That should keep me busy!

Hope everyone has a great weekend,
Penny

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Four Seasons Of A Romance Author




There are four seasons in New England...


Spring



Summer


Fall


Winter


There are, however, four very different seasons for the romance author. At least as reflected by social media activity on Twitter and Facebook...



1. BEGGING FOR VOTES SEASON


Forget about book release promotion. The biggest spam-happy, I'm-begging-you-please, all-in-good-fun season of the year is BEGGING FOR VOTES SEASON.

Too bad the winner doesn't get a tiara.



2. TAKING PICTURES WITH HALF-NAKED GUYS SEASON


Coz nothing says "conference" quite like flexing, greasy abdominal muscles!
Yee haw!

The only conference I have attended for comparison was a turfgrass convention. I saw plenty of butt-cracks, but no 6-pack abs. Oh well.



3. PREPARATION FOR NATIONAL CONFERENCE SEASON
(aka SHOE SHOPPING)


As far as I can tell from Twitter and Facebook, the bulk of stress around this event concerns purchasing appropriate footwear, and social anxiety--aka, talking to people.



4. RITA ANXIETY SEASON


RITA anxiety season involves three parts: 

1. book submission
2. reading contest entries by other authors
3. waiting for the finalist announcements

The finalists are a huge surprise every year!

RITA ANXIETY SEASON is a short-term condition that can usually be successfully treated 
with copious amounts of wine.



It's fun to be a romance author 365 days a year!

Happy Monday,
Penny



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How 'Bout Them Apples?



GIVEAWAY, REVIEWS, INTERVIEW!

Go to Swept Away By Romance for an awesome giveaway that includes APPLES SHOULD BE RED, apple lip balm and soap. I also got two fabulous reviews by Dorsey and Karla. My favorite quote:

"62 is the new bad boy."

Yes, yes it is!

And for an extra added bonus, there is an interview that includes a photo of me from college, some new abbreviations for geriatric love stories, and the word "ballsy."

Have fun.


More kick-ass reviews and quotes for APPLES....

"Hilarious and sweet, a delightfully romantic gem of a story." -- Laura Florand, Bestsellling Author of The Chocolate Series

"Gutsy, funny, and bold, APPLES SHOULD BE RED is a delight." -- Theresa Weir, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author

"Romantic...and real and hilarious...5 Stars." -- Penny Reid, Bestselling Author of the Knitting in the City Series

Dear Author: "[APPLES SHOULD BE RED] puts the comic back into romance and the romantic back into comedy. It is absolutely precious."

New York Journal of Books: "A romance between a 59-year-old prissy heroine and a 62-year-old grouchy hero should not be sexy...Wrong. Dead wrong."

Romance Novel News: "Tom and Bev's courtship is an absolute delight."

Babbling About Books: "Penny Watson proves that romance is alive, well and sexy after fifty-five."

Lurv A La Mode: "...a healthy dose of snort-worthy laughter...Watson has a uniquely clever and amusing voice..."

Truth, Beauty, Freedom and Books: "Despite the unconventional set-up, APPLES SHOULD BE RED is actually very traditional in its promotion of community, family, love, and second chances."





Have a great day!
Penny


Thursday, March 13, 2014

99 Cent Sale: Yee Haw!



Trying a little experiment!

APPLES SHOULD BE RED is now on sale for 99 cents.

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo


Have a great weekend!
Penny

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Is Anybody Listening?


Statistics from the national RWA....


6% of romance readers are between the ages of 14-17.

9% of romance readers are between the ages of 18-24.

40% of romance readers are between the ages of 35-54.

If you tack on the 55-64 age bracket, you get...

51% of romance readers are between the ages of 35-64.


So, only 9% of romance readers are 18-24, and yet the "New Adult" category is the hot new trend. What does this mean? Why is NA so hot, why are publishers pushing younger characters and teen angst (YA) when the majority of romance readers are more mature?

Do mature readers want to read about teens and young adults dealing with coming-of-age issues? I asked some friends why older women would want to read about this age group, and they replied "they're nostalgic" "they want to recapture their youth" "for entertainment."

Since I have teens, the last thing I want to read about is teen angst.

I'm living teen angst right now, thank you very much.

And...the very last thing I want to read about is teenagers having sex. *Penny faints*

But I wonder if this is really what mature readers want. Since I recently published my novella APPLES SHOULD BE RED, I've been receiving emails, Twitter messages, and Facebook posts from readers who are thrilled to see a romance with older characters--late 50s, early 60s. The overriding sentiment is "thank you so much for showing that more mature women are capable of love and lust and happy endings" and "I wish this would start a trend and more books with characters in this age group would become available." I've seen discussions on reader message boards expressing this same sentiment.

I, personally, would love to see more books with mature characters who have been around the bend a few times. It seems like a lot of readers feel the same way--readers who make up the majority of the romance-purchasing population.

Is anybody listening?

I sure hope so.

All my best,
Penny

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Inspiration From Around The Globe

Shen Yun


INSPIRATION FROM AROUND THE GLOBE!



1. CHINA: Shen Yun, a fabulous show with Chinese music, dance, acrobatics, history....I highly recommend!

Gorgeous!



2. HOLLYWOOD: The 2014 Oscars, Bette Midler
Proof you're never too old to rock the red carpet!


 She's 69, people! 69! Amazing!



3. GREECE: The Greek's Forced Bride by Michelle Reid

My obsession with Harlequin Presents continues. This book manages to pack in a crazy ex-wife, bitchy sister, horrible parents, asshole ex-fiancee, stolen funds, humiliating newspaper headlines, and even a drink getting flung into the hero's face. So exciting!

Greece: A land of love and alpha tycoons!



4. CANADA: Louise Penny's new Gamache book coming August 2014!

THE LONG WAY HOME....Here's the book blurb!

SQUEEEEEEEE!

Louise Penny!




My new WIP...Bet you can't figure out what it's about!

Hint: It might involve haggis!

 Haggis with potato mash


I hope you enjoyed this quick tour around the world and are now inspired for the day!

Ciao, bambini!

Penelope

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

"Just Because" Gift Idea: A Post by Nico Jaye!



 JUST BECAUSE Gift Idea: A Post by Nico Jaye

On days when I don't want to do much or when reading or writing just don't hold much appeal (yes, they exist – shocking, I know!), I plop in front of the TV with a movie and some yarn. Recently I discovered a new (and super easy) pattern, and a couple days later, I had a couple of new hats. Yay!

Here's the new hat that I made for Nico:

[Note from Penny: OH MY GOD! THIS IS ADORABLE!]


And here's the pattern I used to make it:


For my own hat, I used super chunky yarn (Hometown USA by Lion Brand, to be precise) in neon pink.

[Note from Penny: SQUEEEEE! Matching Hats! I LOVE IT!]


Homemade gifts are pretty nifty, and they're super budget friendly, too. You can give your homemade gift a professional touch by attaching custom name tags that say "Created by" or "Handmade by," which you can whip up on your computer or order online.

This eBay store has a bajillion stamp designs that you can customize. I've had my eye on this design for a while:



The cold days don't seem to be letting go, so maybe this little hat might help keep one of your loved ones (furry or otherwise) warm and toasty! =)

❅❅❅

From Penny: That is the CUTEST THING EVER! I wonder if Lucy and I could wear matching sweaters? Hmmm....

Thanks, Nico, for this great post! 

Ciao!
Penny

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Oh So Very Civilized! Sheikh Books And Afternoon Tea...Pinkies Up!



You might be wondering where the hell I've been recently.

1. Husband had a week off from work.

2. Kids then had a week off from school.

Summary: Penny got nothing done.


On the tail end of all these vacation weeks, I took my daughter to "afternoon tea" at the Boston Public Library. It was lovely! They brought us scones and lemon curd and petit fours and cucumber sandwiches. It was so very civilized and refined!


Cucumber sandwiches! Yipppeeeeee!



Which reminded me of Patrick Star saying "When in doubt, pinky out!"




I had a white wedding tea, that combined Mutan White tea with lemon-vanilla and pink rosebuds and petals. It was ridiculously delicious!

I highly recommend this lovely afternoon ritual, at the Courtyard Restaurant at the Boston Public Library. Here is the link to the menu for anyone interested in checking it out.


So, what would be appropriate reading for a super-civilized vacation? HARLEQUIN PRESENTS!

I started reading some of these and I liked them. And then I made the enormous mistake of telling Lexxi Callahan, who encouraged my unhealthy obsession and kept adding more and more titles onto my TBR list. Damn her!

Here's a list of the books I've read recently...

The Greek's Pregnant Lover
The Billionaire's Pregnant Mistress
The Salvatore Marriage
The De Santis Marriage
The Spanish Husband
The Sheikh's Chose Wife
A Passionate Marriage
The Greek's Marriage Bargain
The Shy Bride
The Prince's Virgin Wife
Pregnant by the Greek Tycoon
The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain
The Italian's Convenient Wife
The Italian's Inexperienced Mistress
The Greek's Innocent Virgin
The Sheikh's Bartered Bride
Hired: The Sheikh's Secretary Mistress
His Royal Love-Child


Hey! I'm Greek! And I'm sexy!


Plot summary for Harlequin Presents:

1. Super alpha arrogant Greek/Italian/Sheikh dude toys with lovely innocent woman.
2. Lovely innocent woman gets knocked up.
3. Alpha guy accuses her of cheating/manipulation and says horrible, nasty things.
4. Lovely innocent woman cries and wishes she didn't love the dumb ass so much.
5. Dumb ass continues to be a dumb ass for 60% of the book.
6. At 61% of the book, dumb ass starts to get an inkling that perhaps, maybe, there might be the slightest chance he was totally wrong about lovely innocent woman, and that yes, indeed, he is a dumb ass.
7. Lovely innocent woman gets talked into marriage with dumb ass.
8. Dumb ass grovels grovels grovels and begs lovely innocent woman to forgive him.
9. Tears! Sob sob sob!
10. Alpha dude professes his undying love, so does innocent woman.
11. Epilogue: Precious baby is born.


If you, too, would like to develop an unhealthy obsession with Harlequin Presents, I recommend starting with The Shy Bride or The Billionaire's Pregnant Mistress.


Finally, my very own book APPLES SHOULD BE RED is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo.

It will be available in print within the next month.

It's currently in the Amazon Top 100 Hot New Releases for both Romantic Comedy and Humorous Fiction.

Yippppppeeeeee!

Here are some review quotes...

"charming, beautiful and funny read"

"I laughed through this whole book"

"The humor was outrageous"

"sweet and sexy romance"

"funny, quirky [story] with vivid characters"

I'm thrilled!



Lastly, if you're pining for spring, and the mounds of snow outside are making you want to cry (sort of like the lovely innocent woman in a Harlequin Presents novel), please check out my new Pinterest board aptly named SUMMER.


Ciao!
Penny

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pushing The Boundaries In Romance



Word on the street is that you need to write a middle-of-the-road story to attract readers. Get a lot of sales. Totally makes sense.

You don't want to lean too far to the right, too far to the left.

You want to make your characters likable, redeemable.

You need to make them relatively attractive. So folks want to read about these characters doing the horizontal lambada and not totally freak out.

You need to color within the lines. The romance lines. Young people, attractive people, dealing with issues like coming-of-age, overcoming trauma, family stuff. This is all perfectly acceptable.

But what if...what if...

You chucked all convention?

What if you decided to do the OPPOSITE? Would you sell any books?

What if you made your characters old. Older than I've ever seen in a traditional romance novel.

In their 60s. Hmm.

What if a character was rude, politically incorrect to an extreme, chain-smoked, was borderline alcoholic, and swore like a drunken sailor?

Would consumers want to read about him?

What if a character was uptight, a busybody, sexually-repressed, a judgmental know-it-all, and had been crushed by a cheating, unappreciative husband for forty years?

I don't know.

That's the real answer.

I don't know what will happen.

I took a big risk and colored WAY outside the lines.

This book is NOT a traditional romance. It's a love story. About real, flawed people.

I don't know what's going to happen.

But I do know that I had a great time writing this book.

It isn't exactly a romance, according to the genre parameters. But it is still a love story. And it's still romantic.

Does that makes sense?


APPLES SHOULD BE RED is now available at Amazon (ebook) for $1.99. It will be available later in the week at B/N and Kobo. And within the month it will be released in print, too.

Here's the purchase link at Amazon: APPLES SHOULD BE RED


If you decide to take a chance and read about Tom and Bev, let me know. I want to hear your feedback, good and bad. Something tells me you'll be cheering for this couple by the end of the story.

Happy Day,
Penelope

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snow Day Hotties


Paul Newman


Since I'm stuck at home with the hubby, kids, and dog during yet another snow storm, I thought I would take this time to post some hot older peeps. Just to show you that folks over the age of twenty  can be sexy, gorgeous, and fascinating. The actors below are in their 50s/60s, just like the characters in my upcoming book APPLES SHOULD BE RED. Yee haw!

Here we go!



Mark Harmon



Ed Harris



Liam Neeson



Pierce Brosnan



Antonio Banderas



Rene Russo



Andie MacDowell



Sela Ward



Julianne Moore



Michelle Pfeiffer

Not too shabby.

Happy Snow Day!

Penny

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Something's Gotta Give

Gorgeous apple soap by Be Greatful!


2014 Experimental Updates:

1. January No Book-Buying Moratorium: I almost made it to the very last day of the month without buying a book. Almost. I bought one, because it was a sequel and I just HAD to read it. But that's pretty darned good.

And I just got my credit card bill and it's FABULOUS (as in fabulously small)! Woo hoo!


2. Finishing a novella: I finished my geriatric love story WIP in about two weeks. After letting it languish for a year. How? I decided that my new 2014 goal was 2-3 hours a day of ONLY WRITING THE BOOK. No blogging. No reading. No surfing the internet and looking at dumb pics of the Kardashians.

No wasting time on Twitter, which is the biggest time-suck in the history of mankind. I toyed with the idea of deleting my Twitter account, but ultimately found that wasn't necessary. What was necessary was just some good old-fashioned discipline. Work first, play a bit later. Huh! THAT WORKS!

Coming Soon! APPLES SHOULD BE RED...check out the gorgeous cover by Penny Reid!


3. Because I have a wee little problem saying "NO" I am usually over-extended. I give talks, I beta read for folks, I help other authors with promo strategies, I read and review. And at the very bottom of the totem pole was MY WRITING.

I made a big decision for 2014.

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE BOOK.

AS IN...MY BOOK.

My book comes first. My 2-3 hours of writing a day. After that, I can read, review, edit, email, tweet, etc. This new selfish approach is something different for me. It does not feel natural, but I'm working on it. This means I'll have less blog posts this year, but more books published. That's the pay-off.

Something has to give.

And hopefully it's not my sanity. (Oops! Too late!)

Crazy eyes.


4. The $1000 Cocktail Party: When I was a newb, "professional" conferences were super-duper helpful. I got to take workshops about POV and conflict, I got to meet other authors and soak up their knowledge, I got to query my books to editors/agents.

(I have the word "professional" in quotes because some of these conferences--which shall remain nameless--include male strippers and bingo games, and although fun and entertaining, those are probably outside the realm of what constitutes a professional conference).

Anyhoo, now that I'm old and haggard and co-hosting my own symposiums, the appeal for these events has come down to more or less one major benefit: the cocktails. I go to conferences with my buds and we drink, laugh, and have a merry old time. The problem? We have to pay for registration, travel, and hotel, and it becomes an expensive proposition with little professional pay-off. I don't query anymore, I self-pub. The majority of workshops I've attended in the last year have been less than stellar. At my last RWA conference, the keynote speakers were horrible, the workshop grid was incomplete, and the food sucked.

And I paid for that.

Since I am trying to focus on THE WRITING, I decided to just cut this stuff right out of my schedule this year. No more conferences, organizations, or workshops. Just...THE WRITING.

If I want to get together with my buds and drink and laugh and critique, we'll rent a house in Vermont--which we are doing....yipppppeeeeeee!

5. Stay tuned for release information about APPLES SHOULD BE RED. I'm expecting a March launch date. And the adorable Etsy shop Be Greatful is designing super cool promo items for me, including apple lip balms and gorgeous apple soaps (see photo at top of post).

Happy Week to all!

Feeling streamlined,
Penny