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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

The last time I blogged, we were bracing for Hurricane Sandy, and some people, who shall remain nameless, thought I was going a little overboard in my preparations.  I’ll say this–they later thanked me for stocking up on canned goods and water!   Anyway, I hope everyone fared well during the storm.  Aside from no power, minor damage, and a household of sick people, we made out okay.

Since I had been so prepared, my Nook was fully charged, and I had batteries in my book-light.   I read several books and I’m here to reveal some of my favorites.  First, I read The Witness by Nora Roberts.  It’s a romantic suspense of four hundred and eighty-eight pages.  The heroine witnesses an event that changes her life forever.  I have never read a book of Nora’s that I didn’t like, and this one was no exception.   Then I read a couple of more books that were mediocre until I dived into Lisa Scottoline’s Daddy’s Girl.  Lisa spoke at a New Jersey Romance Writers Conference a few years back and I had bought this book.  Since then, I have read others of hers that I truly enjoyed, but I must have forgotten about this one.  Anyway, Daddy’s Girl was the best thriller I’ve read in ages.  The main character, Nat, is a law professor who happens to visit a prison on the day a riot breaks out and someone dies.  She becomes suspect number one and spends most of the book trying to prove her innocence.  Loved it!

After the storm and all the devastation, I’m not sure what possessed me, but I started to purge and organize my house.  Maybe because so people lost everything, I decided my family has entire too much stuff.  So I attacked my To-Be-Read piles of books.  First, I pulled out several I knew I would probably never read.  In addition to some books I had already decided needed to be donated, I made a separate bag of other books and gave them to a friend.  She is an avid and quick reader, so I asked her to return to me any books that she designated spectacular-must-reads.

Next, I searched for holiday themed books and found three.  I read Holiday Hideout, a collection of novellas, the common thread being a rental cabin that seems to spark romances between couples.  Vicki Lewis Thompson wrote about Thanksgiving, Jill Shalvis, about Christmas, and Julie Kenner about New Year’s.  All were enjoyable, cute and sexy stories.

Now my immediate reading list plan includes the two holiday romances I found buried in my piles, Robin Carr’s Bring Me Home for Christmas and Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs, and newer titles Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom for my bookclub, Take Me Home by Nancy Herkness, and Jane Porter’s The Good Woman.  This novel is part of the Brennan Sisters Trilogy.

I’m so looking forward to reading all these selections under the twinkling lights of my Christmas tree.

Happy Holidays,

Elizabeth

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This week we welcome guest blogger Nancy Herkness! A multi-published author from New Jersey who grew up in West Virginia, Nancy has a new release hot off the press–“Take Me Home.” I personally can’t wait to read this book since I’ve read all her others and really loved them. Reading, Writing and Ruminations sat down with Nancy and asked her some questions. If you have others, let us know and she’ll answer them!
What kind of romances do you write?
I write mostly contemporary romances with one foray into romantic suspense (Music of the Night). My first three books were set in the New York metro area, but I’ve gone back to my roots in the mountains of West Virginia with my new series. (I love saying “series” since Montlake Romance bought all three of my “whisper horse” novels. It’s my first series ever!)
Do you plot out your novel or write by the seat of your pants?
How I wish I plotted out my novel! But no, I have to noodle around, go off in wrong directions, change characters’ motivations mid-book, etc. I tried very hard to plot a book once but it killed all the joy for me and I never got past the fifth chapter. It has to be a voyage of discovery or I get bored.
So I start with the two main characters, often developing the hero first for some reason. I build in at least one conflict as I flesh out those characters and add other obstacles as I write. Generally, I have an ending in mind and I write toward that.
What I love about my method are the moments of revelation. In my current WIP (nearly finished now), my heroine has led a very sheltered life before she arrives in Sanctuary, WV. I had some superficial reasons why but I was missing something profound. One day I was working on chapter seven or thereabouts when it just burst into my brain. I jumped out of my chair, leapt around my office a few times, crowing at my cleverness, then sat down to rework the prior six chapters to include it.


You have a done a lot of research for your novels—for example, researching meteorites for “Shower of Stars.” Do you do research before writing or while writing or both? Do you enjoy this aspect of the writing process?
Doesn’t every writer love to do research? It’s the best kind of procrastination because you can justify the time you spend on it by saying it’s necessary for the book. I’ve done such fun things in the name of adding authenticity to my books: walking the George Washington Bridge, spending two days in the Smithsonian’s meteorite exhibit, sitting on stage for a rehearsal at Carnegie Hall.
My West Virginia series is a different kind of research: I’m mining my memories of my childhood in the mountains—and layering in a few new additions, of course.
I also do research on the fly when I’m writing. When I decide to introduce a new element into my story, I instantly check it for accuracy before I get too far down the road in the plot. Google is my friend.
Tell us a little bit about your new series—how you got the idea, what you’re most excited about, and your plans for the series!
Oh, thank you for bringing up that word again…and I didn’t even have to pay you! My new series is set in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia where I grew up. The town of Sanctuary is fictional but it strongly resembles my real hometown of Lewisburg.
In addition, I came up with the concept of a whisper horse. A whisper horse is the special creature you can tell all your troubles to so you don’t have to carry the burden alone. You can’t talk to just any horse; there’s one meant for you. A character in each of the books finds her/his whisper horse in Sanctuary at Healing Springs Stables.
The idea came from my real pony Papoose who was my constant companion all through my younger years. When I was upset or angsty, I would pour my problems into his ears. If you know horses, you’ll know their ears are very eloquent, so I felt I had a sympathetic listener.
Right now the series is three books long: Take Me Home (Nov. 2012), Country Roads (nearly finished), and The Place I Belong (merely a germ of an idea). I hope it will continue on past those three, although I’ve nearly run out of John Denver lyrics for my titles.
I’m having a blast revisiting characters from the first book in the second book. As I reader, I’ve always enjoyed that, but I’m finding it even more exciting as a writer. I was delighted when one of my critique partners read a scene from Country Roads in which the lead characters from Take Me Home appeared and commented, “It is so great to see Claire and Tim again! Now I understand why readers get hooked on a series.” Music to my ears!
THANK YOU Nancy!

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Contests

When I was not yet a published romance writer, I didn’t enter many contests. I felt I had to spend my limited time on writing and submitting books to editors.
But that changed once I became published. I started sending my novels to contests sponsored by different Romance Writers of America chapters. I had several reasons: to see how my books did; to garner some new readers, who, if they liked the book they judged, might purchase some of my others; and to hopefully win a few contests.
In the eleven years since my first romance novel (“Lights of Love”) was published, I have entered each book in several contests–usually 3 or 4.
I have been fortunate to have finalled in both the National Readers’ Choice Awards and the New Jersey Romance Writers’ Golden Leaf awards several times. And I won the Golden Leaf in 2007 for Best Regency (for “Marquis in a Minute”).
Last week, I was rushing around doing some housework when I got a call saying my newest romance, “Borrowing the Bride” was a finalist for the NJ Golden Leaf contest!  My thoughts hadn’t been on the contest and I was astonished to get the call.
I was really  thrilled!  Not only because this is such a prestigious contest; but because, having been chairman of the contest years ago, I know how much competition there is.
The winners will be announced on Oct. 12 at the N J Romance Writers’ conference.
But whether I win or not I feel like a winner already. Because to final in this contest is truly very special!

Happily,

Roni Denholtz

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I have many old books in my house.
Some are the Nancy Drews, Judy Boltons, Cherry Ames and other girls’ series books I grew up reading.  These books introduced me to young women solving mysteries and having adventures. They whisked me away to exciting places where the villains were always caught. They actually sparked my desire to become a writer, and I will always keep and treasure these books. They are in a special glass-doored bookcase and although I rarely reread them now, I often look at them fondly.
Then there are the adult books I grew up with–especially the “gothic” romances by Phyllis A. Whitney, Mary Stewart, and Victoria Holt. I can even remember the first books I read by each author (in order: Black Amber, Thunder on the Right and Mistress of Mellyn). These books are treasured as well.
And of course there are plenty of books in my home by favorite authors–new and old. favorites for many years like Heather Graham, Nora Roberts, Julia Quinn, and Barbara Michaels/Elizabteh Peters; new favs like Sandra Hill, Beth Ciotta and Judi Fennell. And tons of other books I’ve enjoyed!
When I was younger I reread my favorites, but I don’t often reread books anymore. There are so many new ones to try.
My bookshelves are overflowing but I have a lot of trouble getting rid of books. I never throw them away–I give them to friends or the library if I didn’t care for them or just know there’s no chance of reading them again. I actually find it easier to give away books I haven’t read.  The one time I actually threw out a book, was a text book from grad school that was almost impossible to read it was so confusing!
With so many books overflowing on my bookshelves, I am considering getting a Kindle or Nook. I have put it off because I do so love holding a book. I can’t imagine that holding an electronic device, even with the same words, would be quite as satisfactory. But I suppose I will bow to the inevitable at some point and buy one.
For those of you who have one, what do you think? Do you still buy actual print books? And do you find reading from a device detracts from the reading experience? And do you ever go back and reread old favorites?

Read on!

Roni Denholotz

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This weekend, I did an event with my kids that I LOVE doing each year: The Annual Book Buying!
It started when they were in first and fifth grades. A new Barnes and Noble had opened in the next town, Ledgewood, NJ. Since I love to read (and as a former teacher have always tried to instill that love in our kid)s, we wanted to explore this store. So, the day after school ended, I took the kids there and told them they could each pick out 4 or 5 books. They did–and so did I. We went out to lunch afterwards, and then we could start our summer reading! Those first few years, they read books like the American Girl books, Animorphs, etc. Then they graduated to books on winning at video games (my son) and Caroline Cooney mysteries (my daughter). Later they both discovered novels by Michael Crichton and others.
This favorite tradition–which I anticpate every year!–continued as they went through middle school, high school, and college. They both went on to graduate school after college, and we always did The Annual Book Buying in May or June, when school was over.
Last year was the final year I had someone in grad school.  But I told both of them that, even though no one was left in school, this was a tradition I wanted to continue!
So we figured out what a convenient day was, and on Saturday, we met at the Barnes and Noble in Edison, and continued our tradition.  My daughter’s boyfriend joined us.
Our daughter bought a few books on running and some romantic suspense novels by Lisa Gardner. Her boyfriend bought a humorous novel.  Our son bought a few Marvel and DC graphic novels and a book about innovative ideas.
What did I buy? The latest books by Heather Graham, Julia Quinn, and Sandra Hill plus a book by Elizabeth Boyle from a couple of years ago.
It was so much fun! And they took me to lunch since it was also my birthday!
This is a tradition I just love and hope will continue for years to come.
So what books have you bought for summer reading pleasure?
Happy Reading!
Roni Denholtz

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Yesterday was Memorial Day. My thoughts turned to those who are serving in our Armed Forces; and especially those who have served in wars and lost their lives.
My dad served in the Army during World War II. He didnt’ speak much about those times, but I know he was proud of his service. My father-in-law also served–in the Navy, also during WWII. Both men were lucky to come back, but they knew others who lost their lives. Yet they were proud to be a part of the war effort.
On Memorial Day I reflected on how glad I am to be an American, and how grateful I am to those who fought for our rights.  I too am proud to be an American.
We are so lucky to live in a country where we can enjoy freedom and democracy, and have the right to vote.
We also have the right to read what we want. While there are certain books I’ll never pick up (I’m not a fan of horror or sad stories) I believe anyone who wants to read something has that right. Censorship is a terrible thing, and in some countries, for example, women would not be able to read erotic books like “Fifty Shades of Gray.” I don’t know whether I will read that book in the future or not; but I am sure glad I have the right to determine what my reading material will be!
With thankfulness for our veterans and that we live in a free country,
Roni Denholtz

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How many times have you heard this? If you’re a writer, probably often enough that your head bobs along as the words are uttered by someone who is trying to guide or mentor us into the next step of our writer’s journey. If you are not a writer, but someone who just loves books…you’ve also probably heard this adage. It’s kind of one of those “universal truths” that get passed around as fact, but has very little practical application while writing fiction.

Yes, notice I said fiction.

I don’t believe anyone in their right mind would disregard this golden writing rule for non-fiction, and I don’t suggest it be attempted. But I digress. But before I upset anyone reading this, let me explain where I’m coming from when I say to throw that old saw out the window.

By profession, I work in the health care industry. I’ve done so for about 20 years. There has been a lot of things I’ve seen in my time at the bedside that have blown my mind, made me scratch my head, renewed my faith and left me speechless. It’s an interesting and rewarding career to say the least. Helping people is both noble and affirming. Though some of the nights I’ve worked have been stress-inducing walks through hell, I wouldn’t change a moment of it. It’s taught me so much about the world and my place in it.

There are many people who write about what it is to work so closely with the sick or infirm. Hats off to you, folks, but I could never do it for an entire book. That’s not to say my characters do not end up in hospital, or have catastrophic injuries to overcome during their time on the page, but it is usually not the entire plot.

I’ve had many friends and family members, even patient families ask me over the years why it is I don’t write medical-inspired novels and the answer is simple: I live it I don’t want to write about it. Writing for me is as much as any escape as picking up another author’s book and reading. I get to become my characters as I write and live their profession, see into their worlds and do things I normally would not attempt here on earth.

My other pseudonyms write sci-fi, futuristic, fantasy, and paranormal. If I only stuck to writing what I knew, there would be no FTL drives, alien worlds, dragons, or alchemists in my life. And it would be a much sadder existence for it.

Not writing what I know allows me the opportunity to explore areas I’m interested in, to break out of my mold as healer and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. To me writing what I don’t know opens more doors than it closes windows. It gives me the opportunity to exploit the details of a profession that I might have chosen had my life gone differently.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Next time you hear someone suggest to write what you know…tell them thanks, but no…you’d rather go exploring.

-Kate

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