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Cooking with Sophia – for beginners

Hello Hello!

I’m here to share my favorite recipe. It’s very easy, since I am NOT a good cook. I once had the fire department come to my house sirens-blaring because of my cooking. No joke. Don’t worry! There was no fire! Just a lot of smoke from me trying to follow very well written recipe instructions.  *I apologized profusely and also brought the firefighters doughnuts and coffee the next morning.*

Sophia’s Favorite Recipe

Cup or glass–I prefer a Tervis Tumbler. I’m not a fan of condensation.

Ice–or not.

Vodka–as much as you want

Add whatever beverage you like with vodka–or none at all–it’s great both ways

Grab a book. Relax and Enjoy!

*Please do not drive after consuming this beverage.*

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SOPHIA – WHAT BOOK SHOULD I GRAB?

I’m glad you asked. Because my fourth book, UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT released TODAY! And it stars a hot Russian hockey player. So the vodka fits perfectly!!

More Info:

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT

Contemporary Romance.

Random House Loveswept

Sparks fly when a strong-willed Greek girl meets a cocky Russian hockey player on a singles cruise in this story of adventure, forgiveness, and LOVE. Discover why Kelly Jamieson calls the Pilots Hockey series “fun and flirty, warm and sweet.”
 
Kristen Katsaros wants a life full of adventure and laughter. After a difficult childhood, her motto is to live each day like it’s her last—because it just might be. So when Kristen’s parents send her on a post-grad singles cruise in the Caribbean to meet a Greek husband, she promptly hooks up with the hottest guy she’s ever met. Pasha’s decidedly not Greek, but Kristen gives him a pass because he’s got fun written all over his rock-hard abs.

Pavel Gribov, the cocky playboy of the Detroit Pilots hockey team, can score any girl he wants. But when a teammate drags him on a singles cruise, he can’t resist the chance to help out a drop-dead gorgeous damsel in distress by pretending to be her boyfriend. Before long, the fake fling turns intimate, fueled by something much deeper than lust.

Kristen and Pasha both agree to walk away once the cruise is over, but reality hits like a slap shot when Kristen finds out Pasha lied about everything. Just when she’s ready to start living again, the two stubborn survivors must decide if they can bear to lose the best thing that ever happened to either of them.

Also – I donate the first $500 in my royalties (yes, before I pay myself) to a different charity for each book. I’ve chosen the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation for this book, as my heroine has CF. <3

unsportsmanlike-conduct-cover

 

Buy Links:

Amazon // iBooks // Barnes & Noble // Kobo

Books-A-Million // Google Play

 

Thank you for letting me indulge in a NEW RELEASE post instead of a real recipe!! Happy Reading! <3

Sophia Henry writes Heartfelt Flirty Fiction featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. DELAYED PENALTY and POWER PLAY, the first two books in the Pilots Hockey series from Random House Flirt, are available now at all major e-book retailers.

4 Comments

The Ultimate Staycation

I’m neither outdoorsy nor athletic. Shocker, right?

My elementary school offered kids two options—go outside for recess or spend the twenty minutes in the school library. Guess which one I chose? I always thought I got the better end of the deal. While my peers were limited to destinations like the swing set or foursquare court (I’m assuming here—isn’t that the kind of stuff you find on a playground?), I was off on daily journeys to Blackbird Pond, Narnia, and ancient Egypt.

Flash forward to present day. It is summer. Not even my air-conditioning can keep the muggy southern afternoons from being miserable and I feel like I’m being roasted alive if I step a toe outside (unless it’s after sundown, at which point I become an all-you-can-eat buffet for mosquitoes in spite of my efforts with bug-repellent/Citronella candles/hazmat suits). According to some of my friends, summer is the perfect time for travel. Some of them even think it’s a good time for grilling out (what the hell do you need the grill for? I’m pretty sure the zillion degree heat will cook those hot dogs for you) or—shudder—camping.

It’s not that I don’t love the prospect of bugs and sweat and sleeping on the ground. I mean, who wouldn’t want all those things? It’s just that I have more exciting plans this summer, a wide variety of trips using my e-reader as my travel agent. In the event that you don’t have the budget to see the world this summer (or if you’d like to see it from the comfort of your own air-conditioned home), here are a few locales you might want to consider.

Two Rivers mansion, home to food columnist Cranky Agnes and the site of one of the funniest weddings (flamingos! Mobsters! Dognapping!) I’ve ever read. Jennifer Crusie makes me laugh in every book she writes, and I adore the collaboration AGNES AND THE HITMAN Bob Mayer co-authored with her.

London. I eagerly devour historical romances from Sarah MacLean, Eloisa James, Elizabeth Michels, and Lorraine Heath. If you have not yet read any of these wonderful ladies, I highly recommend you start now!

Henry Adams, Kansas. Beverly Jenkins has created a community readers will want to visit again and again, and I can’t wait to read her latest, STEPPING TO A NEW DAY, which includes a 600 lb hog as one of the entertaining secondary characters.

Cupid’s Bow, Texas. Okay, yes, this setting/series belongs to me…and I love writing about the characters and the town. Book 3 will be out in November, which gives you plenty of time to read FALLING FOR THE SHERIFF (a single-parenting romance) and/or FALLING FOR THE RANCHER (about a guilt-ridden cowboy, his temporarily wheelchair bound sister, and the feisty physical therapist who not only adjusts to ranch life but kicks a little ass.)

The Demon Plane of Oblivion. It’s no secret that I love Kresley Cole’s paranormal series Immortals After Dark, and her book DEMON FROM THE DARK is one of my favorites. To save her goddaughter, a witch is sent on a possible suicide mission to capture a demon from a savage dimension. For all his barbaric ways, he has some truly adorable moments. I said “awwww” out loud numerous times reading this book, which—given what prompted my outbursts—may mean I’m a little warped. But it’s an imaginative, sexy read.

Sector Four. If you like super-sexy romance, I would recommend Kresley Cole, Jeanette Grey or even my recently released Blaze TURNING UP THE HEAT (a very seductive, friends-to-lovers foodie romance). But if you like to take the occasional trip past sexy to dirrrty, let me introduce you to Kit Rocha and the post-apocalyptic Beyond series. These futuristic erotic romances (which start with BEYOND SHAME) include graphic sex and the occasional orgy, but they also feature fabulous dialogue, character growth, emotional confessions that make me sigh every time I re-read them and political plots that grow more complex with each book and are beginning to rival Westeros for back-stabbing attempts at power.

Barefoot Bay. This ongoing series by bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire can be your trip to the Florida beach this summer! She even has collections within the overall series so you can choose what you’re in the mood for—wedding-themed romances, books with a little more mystery to them or her “silver fox” books with slightly older than average (but oh so sexy) heroes.

Truthfully, I could talk about ten dozen more places and not even scratch the surface. Have you been to Sally Kilpatrick’s Ellery, Tennessee or Trish Milburn’s Blue Falls, Texas? Have you been to a hockey game with Sophia Henry’s Pilots team or out to the bayou with award-winning Harlequin Desire author Joanne Rock? What about Farrah Rochon’s Maplesville (shorter books that make for excellent daytrips)? (Plug from my teenage daughter–her current favorite world to visit is the alternate reality of Gena Showalter’s ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND books, where high school teenagers fight evil spirits most people can’t see.) There are so many wonderful choices, whether set in another city, another country, another time period, or even another dimension. But if I keep listing all of them, I won’t have time to work (or, worse, read!). So I’ll leave these suggestions here as a starting point and pose the question to all of you, what are some of your favorite fictional vacations? A certain book website recently issued account credit, which I think of as frequent flyer miles I’m eager to spend!

Book staycations–all the glamour and adventure, none of the packing drama or lost luggage.

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How McGovy Wound Up In Writersville

The topic for this round of blogs is what authors or books inspired us to become writers. I have several authors and series that inspired me, making me long to weave tales with even an iota of their skill:

Karen Marie Moning’s HIGHLANDER series

KMM pic

Lisa Kleypas’s WALLFLOWER series

LK pic

and JK Rowling’s HARRY POTTER – duh.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t confess my largest inspiration and motivation toward writing as a career was fan fiction.

Even before the wave of Twilight fan fiction, there were pockets of fans writing about movies, TV shows, and books they loved. I believe I’ve mentioned it here before, but the very first bit of fiction I wrote was a corrected version of the events in X-Men 3. (Gee golly, look at that. For me, it all goes back to Marvel. Who’d’ve thunk it?) From a deep desire to right the wrongs of that movie, came the courage to put pen to paper (literally) and write a different ending.

The resulting narrative was so-so, the dialogue fun, and I shied away from writing any sex (BAH HA HA!), but I’d written a story.

Hands shaking, I hit ‘Post’ – or whatever it was you did to put stories up on Live Journal back in the day – and the comments trickled in. And then they poured. Comments are to FF writers what reviews are to traditional writers, and fandom liked my story! I didn’t suck!!!

After that, I wrote a few more short stories, then a couple of opuses with a co-author. I had regular readers and people encouraging me and, though I didn’t know it at the time, I was learning the basics of my craft.

THEN I discovered J.R. Ward’s BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD series.

<Cue the choir of angels>

JRW pic

Ward’s voice was unique, gritty, the characters larger than life. I read the entire series (6 books long at that time, I think…wait…Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Butch, Vishous, and Phury – no, I’m not even kidding about the heroes’ names)  in a matter of two weeks. Then, about three months later, I re-read them all again. Ward created this world, with vivid characters who I cared about, and I wanted to return again and again. If you’re one of the few people out there who hasn’t tried this series, and you like steamy romance with some paranormal flavor, do yourself a favor and GET THESE BOOKS NOW. If I know you, I’ll even lend you my copies.

Upon my third reading of Rhage’s book, LOVER ETERNAL (*swoooooooooon*), I put the book down and proclaimed, “I want to do THIS! I want to write stories about love and acceptance, healing and redemption. I want to reach a reader who is grieving (like I was at the time) and give them solace and reprieve. I want to provide some happiness, a brief escape. In a world full of doubt and darkness, I want to be…a romance writer!”

And that’s exactly what I did. 🙂

Do you have an author, book or series of books that made you take the leap from dreamer to writer? Who? What titles? Share the names and joy with us – namely with me because I’m in the market for a new addiction! 😉

9 Comments

Do You Season Your Stories?

 

MCL_steaming_stew_100445879_Blaine_Moats
I’ve just finished reading a novel that takes place in Maine, in the wintertime. Food played heavily in its themes, as did the descriptions of simmering soups and other cozy fare (recipes included). I enjoyed the book but found myself wishing I had picked it up at a different time of year—maybe in the fall, rather than at the end of the longest, coldest winter of my life. I’m ready for sun and sand, the sounds of surf and the scent of swimming pool chlorine, and I find myself craving that in my reading, too. Kind of hard to get excited over soup when you’re looking forward to that first margarita of the season, you know?

 

I think we all have a dominant season that we identify with more than the others, when we feel most like ourselves. Even if you’ve never thought about it until now, you probably know what type you are. Is the first blossoms and renewal of spring the thing that gets you going, or the crisp, clear air of
autumn and turning leaves? Do festive holidays and the stark beauty of a snow-covered landscape capture your imagination? Or do long, lazy days and the promise of fresh tomatoes and the beach call to you?

 

I do love the period of change of all the seasons and the spice it brings to my wardrobe, but I’m totally summer, no question. And I find that my reading and writing preferences tend to reflect that. I prefer being hot to cold. Due to my job, I get more writing done and feel more creative in the summer. My novels have boats and beaches in them. And booty, too, if I’m making this into a 3 Bs type gimmick. Maybe it’s a Florida thing, or maybe I’m just a beach read type of person. Either way, summer is my time, and I can’t wait!

 

So, tell me—does your writing or reading have seasonality? What season are you? What books do you recommend that perfectly gel with “your” season?

ormond beach

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The Zen State of Reading

Would you believe this is actually the third topic drafted for my blog post today? The spazziness that has been my mind this week has been, well, uhm, spazzy. Finishing up the last few scenes in a novella, shopping around another, social media, emails, critiquing, and trying to decide on my next project. I love my ADHD medication, but it can only handle so much.

To be the most productive and happiest me that I can be, I want to be like this…

Chakra Agua

[Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender, trying to unblock his chakras.]

No, I don’t mean I want to be an adolescent boy with a giant blue arrow on his head. I mean I want to feel all calm and… zen. Instead I have so much going on inside my brain that I’m more like this…

tumblr_m4y4nynRZ21rxph3eo1_500[Dar’s Brain – Squishy jelly legs and all.]

But before I begin studying up on Mahāyāna Buddhism, I’m going to share what I’ve done the past two days and how it helped clear the mental clutter to give me peace of mind.

First, I took two days off. In these two days I continued to make notes on CP’s manuscripts, answer emails, and scribble down whatever notes came to me. I didn’t fall behind on that and I still did my super fun day job. What I didn’t do was keep up with the 1.5-2k a day pace I’ve been setting for myself since I recovered from two weeks of flu/throat/fever misery.

At first this made me itch. I need to write or I’ll go crazy! But then I went out and foraged for a few good reads, returning home with a nice big bag of books. Bookstore. Used bookstore. Library. All the usual habitat of books. Wonderful, wonderful books. (I was in the mood for paper, but shhhh, don’t tell the iPad!)

Reading on a regular basis is important for writers, but there’s reading and then there’s reading. For lack of a better word, I tend to devour books. Three, four, five, six at a time and I’m a fast reader. I get my reading high on. Yes, I said reading high. This may be kind of judgmental of me, but anyone who doesn’t get ‘ermagerd man pass the doritos and check out that prose man‘ after a reading sprint of epic proportions must be doing it wrong. *wink*

After giving in completely to the need to read, I feel rejuvenated. Refreshed. Clear headed and ready to go.

Have you ever binged on books and come up with the same results? Did you feel better after a day or two of letting yourself go in a book or three?

9 Comments

Reading In Your Genre (and Not Just For Fun)

Confession time: I don’t read in my genre very much. Cross that – I don’t read critically in my genre very much. Let’s face it, it’s not exactly a chore to read a romance novel, but I’m terrible at making the time to really think about what I’m reading, analyze it, and learn from it.

What does it mean to read critically in your genre? First off, it means picking books that are actually in the same market as what you’re writing/querying. So me reading a historical romance when I’m trying to sell a futuristic romance? Not super helpful.

Why is that important? Imagine you’re trying to sell a cookie. The first thing people ask is, “What kind of cookie is it?” Whatever reply you give, your cookie had better have some basic elements if it’s going to be accepted. You can’t advertise something as a chocolate chip cookie unless it has a) chocolate chips, and b) some sort of cookie-like baked product surrounding those chips. Reading in your genre is a way of learning what those fundamental elements of that genre are and making sure you’re being truthful in claiming your book would be positioned correctly there.

Second off, it means thinking before you read, as you read, and after you read.

Before you read: Have some questions in your mind. What kind of conflict drives the book? What archetypes do the characters fall into? How does the author lay out backstory, space out turning points, and wrap up remaining questions? How does she draw you in?

Basically, know ahead of time what you want to learn.

As you read: Take notes—this could be as simple as highlighting passages if you use an e-reader or placing post-it notes if it’s a physical book. Be aware of turns of phrase that catch your eye. Look for all the conventions of your genre and observe how the author uses them or circumvents them. Notice how you feel as you read. When your heart seizes in your chest and your ribs hurt? Take a second to figure out specifically how the author got you to feel that way. When you’re wearing that cheesy grin? Make note of the specific line that evoked that reaction.

After you read: Don’t just put the book away. Look back at the questions you had when you started and see if you answered them all. Decide if you liked the book or not, and more importantly why. Look for the good and the bad. Even a disaster of a novel will probably have a couple redeeming qualities and even a five-star book you will re-read a million times will have a weakness or two. If you hated it, pinpoint a couple of qualities or story-telling elements that made you hate it—and take pains to avoid those in your own work!

In the end, reading critically in your genre doesn’t take all that much more effort, but it means learning in your leisure time and improving your craft while still getting a break from the blinking cursor in the middle of your manuscript. Who wouldn’t want that? Bonus: books you buy to analyze as a writer can be counted as business expenses on your taxes. Score!*

Personally, I’m starting the new year with a fever that’s made it difficult to concentrate on my writing and a brand new Kindle Paperwhite that my hubby got for me for Christmas. I’m taking it as a sign to practice what I preach and do some reading…and some thinking.

Happy reading,
-Jeanette.

* As always, when it comes to your finances, consult a tax professional, not a romance writer who’s hopped up on cold medicine. Seriously.

5 Comments

That Which Has Been Seen Cannot Be Unseen, Or Why Becoming a Better Editor Sometimes Stinks

Like a lot of writers, I was a reader first. I love getting lost in books, love discovering new characters and escaping into different worlds. The problem is, the better I get at writing, the worse I get at reading.

Why?

Because I can’t stop seeing sloppy editing.

Unnecessary ‘that’s! Distancing words! Shallow POV! Head-hopping! Random tense changes! Wandering body parts! Inappropriate epithets! All of them make my skin crawl. Worst of all, they keep me from getting immersed in a poorly edited book.

These days, I spend so much time looking for these nitpicky little problems in my own writing and trying to ferret them out in my critique partners’ manuscripts that I can’t stop seeing them in everything else I read. Amateur writing on the internet? Riddled with errors. Self-published (and not professionally edited) books? Crawling with unnecessary words. Random blog posts? Don’t get me started. Even in beautifully edited books, all I have to see is one questionable bit of wording, and I’m pulled out of the story.

Heck, I cringe watching TV these days. If I had my characters address each other by name in my manuscripts even half as often as TV characters do in a single episode, I’d be red-penned to death. And I actually had to make my husband turn off the last audio book we tried listening to together because the repetitive dialog tags were making me more car-sick than the car was.

No matter what I do, no matter how desperately I need to unwind… When it’s time to relax at the end of my writing day, I try my best to turn my editor brain off, but I just can’t seem to manage it. It’s enough to drive a writer insane!

It’s time to sound off, fellow writers. What are your worst pet peeves when reading others’ writing? How do you make the little editor in the back of your head shut up? Can you even make it be quiet anymore? And if you can’t, how do you cope?

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