Laura Drake is a fabulous author who is leaving So Cal for Texas. (WHY? One of those totally unanswerable questions, lol.) Those of us here will miss her terribly, but wish her bon voyage.
Laura Drake, Author
Laura Drake is a city girl who never grew out of her tomboy ways, or a serious cowboy crush. She writes both Women’s Fiction and Romance. Her, ‘Sweet on a Cowboy’ Series, set in the world of professional bull riding, is published by Grand Central: The Sweet Spot (May 13), Nothing Sweeter (Jan 14), and Sweet on You (Sept 14). Her Road Home, the first book in her Widow’s Grove series, is published by Harlequin’s Superromance.
Laura resides in Southern California, though she aspires to retirement in Texas. She gave up the corporate CFO gig to write full time. She’s a wife, grandmother, and motorcycle chick in the remaining waking hours.
Nothing Sweeter, book 2 in the Sweet on a Cowboy series.
Aubrey Madison is starting over. Leaving Los Angeles and everything behind except the scars of her ruined past, Bree sets out for cowboy country. Now she has a new home, a new job-and a new worry: the ruggedly sexy rancher who makes her long for things she shouldn’t . . .
Rough and tumble cattleman Max Jameson has broken wild stallions and faced angry bulls. Yet the redheaded city cupcake who turned up at the High Heather Ranch might be his undoing. Bree has a plan to rescue the ranch from foreclosure that’s just crazy enough to work. But will Max gamble his future on a beautiful stranger?
As those of you who read this feature regularly know, I rarely review the books I showcase here. Not because I don’t love what I read, but because I run out of time! This time around, though, I
read devoured the book in one sitting after picking up an ARC from the author herself. Plus featuring Laura was a last-minute decision (that she’s totally unaware of, by the way).
After reading just the first page of Nothing Sweeter, it became a book I was more than happy to sink into. Not a cliche to be found. This is my favorite type of romance; complicated, slow-moving, without a real nasty protagonist (just a guy desperate for some respect). It has a woman running from a past she’d love to forget, a man struggling to keep his ranch and feed his hands, a “bull” market and the color pink, found in the most unlikely place.
The characters are real people; the situation is all-too-believable in this day and age. The way these two rise to the challenges set before them kept me spellbound. I’m so glad this is a series, as now I get to go back and read the first one (The Sweet Spot).
Laura is just bursting in on the romance scene. Do yourself a favor and pick up her books, for this is one writer who will undoubtedly get better and better.
I visited my dad on Saturday. Our visits tend to be short – not because we run out of things to say to each other (two writers talking? Never short of words!) but rather that he gets tired and I’m way sensitive to it, even when he’d rather I wasn’t. At 84, though, he’s allowed to get tired.
We did the usual things. Took a garden tour and liberated several Meyer lemons from his famous tree, and also got quite a few white grapefruit. I had printed a couple family photos, so I helped him put those into frames. And then came picture time.
late 1800’s photo album
My Great Grandma Mary Eva (Meva) Burritt Jones Cunningham and Walter Jones, her first son by her first husband. Up in the corner is Sanford Jones, her first husband.
He’s been having me go through boxes of photos, to see what I’d like to keep. I found several, and then I found the big box. Full of one book and several journals. My Grandmother Hazel’s journals. That just added to all the memories I’d collected that day.
My Aunt Amy Zedicher Whitmore, me, and Grandma Hazel Zedicher Cunningham. Amy and Hazel were sisters. 1988, Los Angeles, CA
With total permission, I lugged the box to my car and panted, doing so. (I’d added my photos from the batch I’d gone through earlier.) So many photos. So many memories.
Then I came across some photos of Scott. Here are two of my favorites.
Scott Cunningham, at the piano – 1975 or 1976 – not sure (photo undated). Sorry it’s blurry – it’s a photo of a photo. =(
And this one…
Scott and me, when I’m about 5 or 6 months pregnant = May or June, 1990
Carrying the box to my car, I strained under the load. It was a long, old fashioned cardboard file box, and it was full. My dad hovered as I carried it.
“You okay? You don’t need help? Looks heavy,” he said.
I smiled at him. “Memories carry weight,” I answered.
He nodded. “There must be at least fifty years of memories in there.” He was referring to his mother’s daily journals, I know. In those, she poured out everything but in such sparing details, which is a blog post for another day.
But as I loaded the box in the car, I noticed he stood a little taller. “You’re officially the family historian,” he said to me.
And it looked like a bit of weight had come off his shoulders.
Happy to help, Daddy. Any time.
Dad’s first computer, a Trash 80 (TRS 80) 1983. He was definitely an early adopter.
Happy Monday, my friends. What memories do you carry, that have more weight than maybe you want?
It’s a slow journey. This month started out well – the first two weeks, I only took Monday off. The next two weeks were intermittent – sickness in the house. Nothing major for me except weariness and a determination to sleep as long as I could. Difficult when I need to get up and out the door by 6 in order to get my workout in (AND breakfast, AND shower/dress) before I had to leave for work.
Difficult, also, when I’m changing my eating habits. Trying to eat before seven at night (difficult when there are times I don’t get home until seven). Cutting out sugar (this was surprisingly easy – yes, even the alcohol, though I make allowances now and then). Cutting out dairy (not so easy) and wheat for a couple of weeks (this was interesting – I don’t miss it, but I realize now how much I reach for the pasta when I don’t know what else to make for dinner). Oh yeah, and getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
I’m hoping I’ll look like this again soon.
Christine, at the “new” house in 1985. Photo by Tom Ashworth
But I’m pretty sure I’ll never look like this again. (See second photo, below. I can’t get the formatting right, sigh…)
Christine Ashworth, publicity still, 1978 – Photo by Chet Cunningham
I loved this tutu, though for the life of me I can’t remember which ballet this was from…this photo is from a shoot that my dad did for me, with California Ballet Company costumes and backdrop. I was bound and determined to audition for companies across the country, and in New Haven, Connecticut, I got my chance. I like to think this is one of the photos that helped me get my audition.
So, this journey I’m on is a see-saw. Back and forth, back and forth. But I’m happy to say I’m sleeping better, feeling better when I wake in the morning, and I’m slowly losing the pounds. I’m determined to go out of this life (years and years from now, mind you) still standing on my own two feet, dressing myself, caring for myself and my family. Not dependent on anyone but those I love, and them only for love and laughter, friendship and squishy hugs.
How’s your journey going?
Today I have the FABULOUS Nikki Prince on my blog. She and I became Facebook friends, then met at the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America – and it’s been a love-fest ever since. Sit back, and get to know the woman behind the books.
CA: What made you decide to write a novel?
NP: Sheer craziness in wanting to finish NaNoWriMo. It was a challenge to myself. Swagger came about as a challenge to me to see if I could write a New Adult novel in first person.
CA: OMG I totally know what you mean. Wow! To have that as your first push – good for you! So what genre do you write in, and why?
NP: I write interracial erotic romances in contemporary and paranormal currently, and plan to expand into other genres. Why? I love the heroine to look like me and to be in a relationship that represents my relationships. I’m a black woman married to a white man and I love to see different cultures together. Beyond that I like to see the world as not just skin tones. That everyone has something in common.
CA: I SO agree! I love the mixture of skin tones, especially in love scenes. So tell me, is your latest book part of a series or standalone book? If a series, what is the name of this series, and how many books/short stories do you have planned?
NP: This at the moment is just a standalone, although a thought of another book has been in the back of my mind.
CA: Keep thinking, girl! So, if you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
NP: Wow, that’s hard to answer. I love to travel. Anywhere I lay my head could be home honestly. I miss traveling. Maybe one day soon.
CA: I’m SO with you. Love traveling, especially with my hubby. Okay, name me 3 simple joys in your life. (Though I think I’ve got this one pegged!)
NP: My kids, writing and reading.
CA: Yep! Knew it! That’s mainly what you put on your FB feed, lol. Okay, next question. If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead or fictional, who would it be and where would you go to eat?
NP: I would love to have dinner with Edgar Allan Poe and Martin Luther King…wherever greatness like that would want to eat, that’s where we would go.
CA: Wow! Great answers. I wonder where they’d like to eat in today’s world, lol?! So,if you could give just one piece of advice to a writer starting out, what would it be?
NP: To keep trying and don’t listen to negative talk. Follow your dreams, this is your life, this is your book…dream it and write it.
CA: What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have a Day Job?
NP: I work in a police station on a Community College in Parking Services.
CA: Really? Do you ever put stuff you learn from work into your books? Never mind, we’ll talk later, lol! Name one thing your fans would be surprised to learn about you.
NP: I am really, really shy until I get to know you.
CA: Seriously? OKay, maybe that first time you were a bit hesitant to hug me when I came running up to you…Is there anything else you’d like to talk about?
NP: I’d like to say thank you so much for having me here Christine. It’s an honor and a pleasure.
CA: Oh Nikki, it’s entirely my pleasure!
Swagger, by Nikki PrinceS
Nine years, two lives, one love.
We all have dreams. Mine were filled with college and the boy I loved, Cruz Montoya. But all that went up with smoke when he got sent to Juvenile Hall, my sister killed herself, and Dad up and left. My mother, and I use that terminology loosely, became a monster transferring her pains and disappointment, and I became trapped.
Honorably discharged, I’m back in Arlington Heights, the small town that only remembers the black sheep persona of my youth. I could list a dozen reasons for my return, but the only one that matters is Roxanne Waters. I should probably leave her be. I’m not much of a catch, with PTSD and the childhood memories rattling around in my brain. Yet, I can’t walk away. There’s a darkness that surrounds the death of her sister, a secret that’s slowly killing her. I’m going to find out everything. This is the moment of truth: to see if we can make it, or if I’m nine years too late.
Nikki Prince is a mother of two, who’s always had a dream to be a published author in the romance genre. Her passion lies in raising her children as readers, gaming, cooking, reading and her writing. Her mother can now breathe easy about the child who used to get in trouble because she was hiding books everywhere and reading when it wasn’t appropriate.
Nikki’s a multi-published author with several epublishing houses. She loves to write Interracial romances in all genres, but wants to let everyone know to not box her in, because there is always room for growth.
Nikki’s also a member of Romance Writers of America National chapter (http://www.rwa.org) and OCC/RWA local chapter (http://www.occrwa.org) and is a member of the board as Co-Programs Director. She is also a member of the online chapter Passionate Ink RWA, The Beaumonde RWA, and the Rainbow Romance Writers (RRW).
Questions for Nikki? Leave them below!
Every January for the last couple of years, it seems that I speed up. Weekends are gone in writer’s meetings or trips to San Diego to see my dad. Weekdays are filled with the Day Job and writing and cooking and nagging the kids (I say kids, but they’re both in their 20s, so…).
Planning the year (books to write, vacations, and such), taxes, FAFSA forms for the kids, it all seems to hit in January, and I start to say to myself “I can relax when…” The only problem with it is that “when” never seems to arrive. Or I hit one deadline, but three more loom up at me. Plus the state of my office after the holidays stresses me out but there’s NO TIME to clean!
The mess that is my desk. And this is after a day of cleaning earlier this month.
Illness is one way your body slows you down. Forces you to rest. After a couple of years of being forced to go slow due to health issues, I now very much enjoy the whirl of lots to do. But I’m finding I also need to plan down time. Slam my hand on that “slow down” button and force myself to just be. (Last night that took the form of being so tired I was asleep by 8pm. Yum…9 hours of sleep!)
I realized, not too long ago, that since I started my job with the wacksters in the summer of 2011, I’ve taken my five days of vacation and used them for writer’s conferences. As all writers know, conferences are NOT vacation. They are working meetings; fun, yes, but not a vacation. (How I could have done that two years in a row and not figure it out, I do not know.) So not only have I planned a mini-vacation in February with the hubs, but I’ve asked for a second week of vacation from the boss. And it was granted!
Now I am looking forward to using one week of my vacation time for conferences, and the other week for basking in the mountains up at Mammoth Lakes with my family. Nothing but bears and catching fish in the streams and maybe hikes if we feel like moving our bodies. If not, then it’s hammock time. There is nothing better than reading in a hammock in the mountains, and slowly falling asleep and dreaming.
Lazing in the hammock, August 2011 – my last “real” vacation. I can tell because that’s the first time I broke my leg, three weeks before our vacation. When I got back from this one, I started at the new job.
I shall watch myself this year, and see if some parts of the year are automatically more “deadline oriented” than others. I can tell you that a part of me relaxes automatically when I think of the mini-vacation to come in February; four days in Cambria, renting a house on the coast, just me and the hubby.
What do you do, when you realize you’re overbooked and need a break? I’d love to know!
Until next time, be good to yourself.