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! 


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.


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.


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,

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!


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!


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.



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,