Saturday, June 18, 2011
Writer's bottom is a constant struggle a lot of us deal with. It comes from working in a job - as most of us do - that requires your butt in the chair. And things spread in some really ugly ways.
After having the kids I lost weight and kept it off for quite a while, but it began creeping on again after I got The Call in July of 2006. A year later I'd added 10 lbs. By spring of 08 I'd added 20 more. And by February 2010, yet another 20. Fifty pounds in total.
Last year I lost 14 of it, put 7 back on, and then finally in December I got my crap together and I've been slowly losing ever since. Slowly because I plateau a lot. Slowly because I am making changes that hopefully will last FOREVER rather than being a drastic "diet" that will result in me putting it all back on again. Dietary wise it is about ensuring I get enough protein and cutting back on starchy carbs and watching my fruit. I let myself eat all sorts of non starchy veggies. When I signed up for RWA Nationals in New York, I had extra motivation. Because at RWA 09 I saw pics of myself and was decimated. I don't want that to happen again.
Has it come off as fast as I'd like? No. I wanted to reach my goal weight and truthfully I still have 1 week and several pounds to go. BUT I have had results. I got to "shop" for conference clothing in my closet and some clothes that I haven't been able to get into in several years.
www.beachbody.com and you will find it there. It's labelled "Extreme Fitness" and it is intense.
It comes with a food guide too, though I have no idea how I'm going to eat all that I'm supposed to by phase 3. A cool discovery? I sometimes have to eat more to lose weight. Each workout is an hour except for Cardio X which is 45 minutes. Yoga is a long 90 minutes, and at the end of each resistance workout you add Ab Ripper X which is another 16. It is a big commitment and you burn mucho calories and build muscle.
My fave workouts so far are Shoulders and Arms and Kenpo X which is martial arts and a blast! I have seen results already, and when I finish a workout I feel AWESOME.
But you know, it's still hard because I'm still large. Even after losing as much as I have, even after fitting into clothes I haven't for a while, I'm still much bigger than I should be. I can feel tall and strong and then see myself reflected in a window and feel - just for a few minutes - discouraged and, as one weight loss buddy put it last year - blobular. It doesn't add up sometimes - how the number on the scale and the size of my jeans seems so BIG and then I look at what I'm capable of physically. In some ways I'm in the best "shape" or fitness level that I've been since first year university. Hmph.
I have 8 weeks of P90X left (I'm doing the lean program) and then I think I'm going to try the Classic version which is 1 workout lighter on the cardio and heavier on the resistance training.
And when I'm in New York in a little over a week, I'm going to NOT look at myself in windows but instead enjoy every moment.
Donna's latest release is A FAMILY FOR THE RUGGED RANCHER, out in the UK and India this month. She's signing books at RWA Nationals in New York and also giving a workshop, How to Write Sizzle Without Sex and Emotion Without Tragedy with pal Fiona Harper and Sr Editor, Romance, Bryony Green.
Friday, June 17, 2011
It’s the same with that all important ‘emotional intensity’ that editors are looking for in a story and that seems, from so many discussions I’ve had at courses and workshops I’ve taught, to give so many would-be writers – and some published ones – so much trouble to deliver. Editors constantly say they are looking for emotional punch and it’s up to the author to deliver it. But so often the author thinks she has delivered it – because she has piled on that emotion, there’s lots of heartache, an unhappy childhood, perhaps some family cruelty, poverty, misery and desolation . . . . But all this doesn’t actually equal that ‘punch’.
Remember the ‘misery memoirs’ that were - strangely, to me – so very popular last year? It seemed that every second person was bringing out a book about the way they were beaten abused, used, derided . . . It got so that I almost felt that I had failed my son, who wants to be a writer and has a lot of talent, by giving him a happy family background with lots of enjoyable days and no abuse. What would he find to write about? Anyway, those books dragged on and on about the unhappy lives these people had lived – and some of them inspired emotions and sympathy, but then as more and more of them appeared, the emotions became numbed, the impact of the feelings that were written about stopped hitting home. Or think of a horror film where the first appearence of a monster is scary, the next has less impact, the next . . . .
Kate is delighted and honoured to learn that her most recent title - The Proud Wife is the Pink Heart's Book Club Pick for June 30th. This book was out in the UK in March and in Presents Extra in April.
Coming up is the 'Wuthering Heights' book - The Return of the Stranger and as she's hust been sent a copy of the great cover, she can't resist sharing it here.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Romantic Suspense and Nocturne Author Karen Whiddon reveals what is in her reading pile and offers a giveaway.
Well, these days I do most of my reading on my Kindle. Though I write romance (and read it), often I like to read completely outside of my genre. Science Fiction and Fantasy, Horror, and Young Adult books are among those I've delved into recently.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
I do a lot of teaching, especially online. And one of the greatest tricks I have found to help myself and other writers get to the heart of our stories is a core story question.
Like it or not, every time a reader picks up a romance, she expects certain things. Every time a reader picks up a thriller, she expects other things. Every time a reader picks up a sci-fi, she expects a totally different set of things.
Because that's what makes your book unique. If you’re writing a thriller, the way you twist or turn or enhance YOUR version of the “how will the hero save the world” question is the way you make your book great, or different, or unique.
Find out more about Susan and her books on her website. http://www.susanmeier.com/ Her latest book for Harlequin Romance is Baby on the Ranch ( May 2011)
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I hope this recipe works for you as it does for me. It's been a great standby when I'm faced with a hungry family on the prowl for food when I'm busy trying to finish a book. It's one of those recipes that you can alter to your own taste. In fact there is no written recipe - it's one I devised over the years when I realised I really didn't like soup that tasted like boiled pumpkin, yet still wanted something quick and easy that would keep everyone quiet.
It's closing in for winter here now and I just made an enormous pot of this about 4 days ago. It went down a treat. I usually include:
a pumpkin (butternut for preference but it doesn't matter),
vegetable stock (I buy the vacuum packed containers),
an onion or two,
bacon or, if you prefer, chorizo
tinned chopped tomatoes (optional)
You can make this soup with a big chunk of pumpkin or with a whole pumpkin - just vary the amounts to suit. The instructions below suit a whole pumpkin.
Peel the pumpkin and chop into big pieces. I make slices between 1/2 - 3/4" thick. Lay the pieces on baking paper (optional but it cuts down the cleaning) on an oven tray or 2. Add a couple of peeled, whole cloves of garlic (I used 5 big cloves last time but my family adores garlic. If you don't enjoy it don't include).
Bake or grill in a moderate oven till a sharp knife goes in easily and remove from the oven. If I remember I turn the pumpkin over once during cooking but it doesn't matter. The aim is to get that nice, roast rather than boiled flavour. If you're likely to forget, set a timer for 20 mins then check again 10 mins later.
While the pumpkin is cooking, take your biggest saucepan and fry a couple of rashers of bacon (roughly chopped) and 2 large onions (roughly chopped) for 5-10 minutes. Add a handful or two of pecans and stir.
Add the pumpkin and garlic to the saucepan with 2 litres (approx 4US pints/3.5 UK pints) of stock. You can add a tin of chopped tomatoes if that appeals. Stir and heat through.
Blend the soup and season to taste. I find if I've used bought stock there's no need for extra salt.
Eat immediately or store in fridge or freezer for future use. If you've got a particularly thick soup just add a little extra water when you heat it. We serve it with hot buttered toast.
Enjoy! And of course, if you have a fave soup recipe of your own to share, I've love to hear about it!
Annie is celebrating winter in Australia with the news her new release PRINCE OF SCANDAL is Harlequin's Book of the Month! It's available from all the usual stores and you can read an excerpt or go in a contest to win a copy on her website.
She's thrilled that RAFE'S REDEMPTION is available now to North American readers (only from the eHarlequin site). This book was previously released elswhere as 'The Billionaire's Bought Mistress'. Here is the link to read more or buy it.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Harlequin Romance author Nina Harington celebrates Canadian Ryan Gosling
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Alone and scared on the dark streets of Moscow, staid, bespectacled Paige Barnes has no choice but to comply with the handsome stranger’s command…
Little does Paige know she’s been rescued by Alexei Voronov—a Russian prince and her boss’s deadliest rival. Now he has Paige unexpectedly in his sights, Alexei is prepared to play emotional Russian roulette to keep her close and discover her true motives. But in his splendid gilded palace his game of chance spins out of control and passion takes over…
It’s only when she’s back home that Paige realises she’s pregnant with the Prince’s baby…
As a teenager, Mirandi Summers was a preacher’s daughter straight-laced and virginal. Joe Sinclair was the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who led Mirandi deliciously astray.
Now a CEO, Joe hires Mirandi as his Executive Assistant. But on a business trip to the French Riviera, Mirandi discovers Joe’s devilish side isn’t far beneath his new, polished exterior. Especially when Joe pulls her into his hotel room and locks the door.
‘You don’t know me, but I’m having your baby.’
Dominic Pirelli’s carefully ordered world falls apart when a female stranger phones with staggering news: an IVF mix-up means she is carrying the baby that he and his late wife dreamed of having!
Though he distrusts her motives, Dominic is determined to keep waif-like Angelina Cameron close. Taking her to his luxury home, reluctantly the hardened tycoon begins to admire Angie’s strength and gentle beauty as her body swells with the precious life inside her.
But when their baby is born, who will have custody of the Pirelli heir?
World-famous racing driver Cristiano Maresca always spent the night before a race in the arms of a beautiful woman…
One night three years ago that woman was Kate Edwards, and her time with Cristiano awakened her to unimaginable pleasure. But the following day the untamable Cristiano had a near-fatal crash…and then Kate discovered she was expecting his baby….
After her mother died, Ashley Jones spent her childhood in care and foster homes. Alone in the world, she desperately needs her new live-in job as an author's assistant. But she is filled with trepidation when she arrives at isolated Blackwood Manor and meets the formidable Jack Marchant.
Ashley thinks she is just a drab nobody…but her heart goes out to handsome but arrogant, tortured Jack, though she has no idea what troubles him. What is the secret that he keeps hidden? It is only after Jack proposes marriage and Ashley joyfully accepts that she finds out…and, for this innocent bride-to-be, the truth is shocking….
She committed a sin...and hides a shocking secret...
Ramon Velaquez, heir to the Velaquez winery, clearly stated his cardinal rule to Lauren Maitland – he can’t promise her more than a red-hot affair. Whilst she heard the words, her heart wasn’t listening, and her punishment for falling in love was to be sent away. Two years later, and Ramon still can’t escape the memories of the woman he banished. But when he finds Lauren again she’s independent, strong, and harbouring a shocking secret...
Vittorio Ralfino, the Count of Cazlevara, is back in
Ana is stunned that Vittorio is offering her—an ugly duckling!—marriage. She'd stoically resigned herself to a career and singledom.
But Vittorio is persuasive and Ana would like a child of her own. Although she's under no illusion that this is anything but a convenient marriage—Vittorio will never offer her love. So when the time comes for him to claim her as his bride, she's surprised—and amazed—at the strength of his passion….
Angele has longed for her betrothal to Crown Prince Zahir to be consummated within wedlock. She naively hoped her promised husband would wait for her, as she would him—but compromising paparazzi photos have dashed those youthful dreams….
She cannot become Zahir's wife out of duty and endure a loveless union; she must let him go free…but on one condition. Without taking Angele's hand in marriage, will the proud sheikh agree to give her the wedding night she has long dreamed of?