Friday, December 29, 2017

Pictures from our Cruise

As promised (a little late), here are some pictures from our Southern Caribbean cruise. They are a mixture from my camera and Hubby's. And after looking at them, realized I could have probably taken better pictures. Guess I was just having too much fun BEING there to remember to pull out my phone.

First stop was in Amber Cove, Dominican Republic. Which is actually the port near Puerto Plata (the city we toured).

I believe this building is a business, but I love the architecture and color.

Wasn't sure what he was up to in the plaza, but there were several people who were in costumes.

Next stop was in La Romana, Dominican Republic.

We rode these dune buggies (well, one of them) during our excursion there. Got a little muddy, too. Didn't take many pictures. It was too dusty and muddy, plus the ride was rather rough. The guy in front of us was taking pictures or video of his ride. Made me wonder how many phones he'd lost over time!

Third stop was in Curacao. That's a picture of a rather deserted beach resort of some sort. It was warm out, so maybe it was siesta time!

 Just look at that water, though. Gorgeous!!

One of our tour stops was at a rum factory. They had some really good chocolate rum. If they sold small bottles of that (and the coffee), I would have bought some, but I didn't need a quart (or liter?) of the stuff!

One of the things that kind of amazed me about Curacao was the cactus. You'd have thought it would be all tropical, not a desert. But there was cactus everywhere.

This is Oranjastaad, Curacao (I think I spelled that right). The island is owned by the Netherlands (thus, the orange). Love those colors!

Lookee there! I got a decent selfie of me in Aruba! That was our 4th and final stop.

We took a tour of the island and one of the spots we stopped at was the Natural Bridge. Except the bridge collapsed a few years ago. Just this small part remains.

The part ahead here is the part that collapsed. Luckily when it occurred, it was around 2 in the morning (I guess it was caught on the security cameras), so no one was injured. But people used to swim under the bridge, so it could have been a lot worse.
Here's another view of the collapse.

I snapped this photo of the rocks with little rocks, but had no idea why they were there. Later the tour guide told us that people will stack the rocks, take their picture with it, and make a wish. If the rocks were unmoved by the time they returned, their wish would come true. Seeing how windy it was there (and it was extremely windy), I'm guessing most of the rocks topple.

Hubby and I on top of one of the rock formations. It was windy!!

Another shot from a rock formation. You can see the cruise ships in the distance. The one on the right with the red tail sticking up was ours.

One of the beaches we stopped at. That black stuff is lava rock. Rough on the feet!

Some of the vendors near the port. I actually found a dress here for $20! And yes, I wore it to dinner one night. But no, I don't have a picture.

This pretty sunflower is at the entrance to the Monet Restaurant on the Carnival Conquest. I thought it was pretty.

During one of our visits to Customer Service, we mentioned that we'd turned Platinum on this cruise. The lady who helped us sent us a bottle of wine, congratulating us on making Platinum. Now, I'm not much of a wine drinker, but thought I might as well try it. I almost got a glass down. Hubby, on the other hand, nearly finished the bottle. And he claimed he didn't like it. Sure, he didn't.

We decided to get our portraits done and this is the one we bought. We clean up pretty good, don't we?

You know, if I had thought about it at the time, I would have had an individual portrait done of me for a new author head shot. But I don't think that far in advance (or that quickly), apparently. My loss.

I hope you like what I shared. I refrained from showing you all the towel characters this time (aren't you glad??).

Next time you hear from me, it'll be 2018! If you're planning on partying Sunday, I hope you party safely. We'll be spending the evening at our Columbus friends' house. Surf and turf is on the menu (like it is every year). Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.

Happy Friday and Happy New Year!


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

No Wednesday Reads But I’m Reading

I did finish a book this week, it just happened to be my own. Haha!

I’m reviewing the digital copy of my box set and want to make sure it doesn’t have any annoying characters (those strange symbols that show up every now and then), which means reading it. Or at least scanning it closely. Can’t help it if I get engrossed in my own book, can I? It’d been awhile since I last read My Sunny Vampire. Man, I still enjoyed that story.

If it weren’t for the fact that I reached my reading goal, I would have so added it as a book read this year. Because I may have scanned SOME of the story, but I read MOST of it. I just couldn’t help myself! And now I’m onto Bite Me, I’m Yours. We’ll see how much I scan and how much I read of that one. Although right now I’ve been reading it (and a good thing—already found one of those pesky strange characters).

I’m not letting it interrupt my writing, though. I am now strongly motivated to reach my daily goal of 500 words a day. Starting yesterday. And I reached it. Whoo hoo! I love scratching things off my “To Do” list.

Would you believe I cooked our Christmas dinner? I shocked myself in getting everything ready at one time. Well, except for the biscuits. My oven can only hold so much food! But the meal was yummy: meatloaf, mac & cheese, and green bean casserole (yeah, not healthy, but who cares). It had been awhile since I’ve had the meatloaf and mac & cheese. Of course, I’m used to making them separately, not together. That was more work than I was prepared for. But kind of worth it. It really was good.

I also cooked on Christmas Eve, but that meal was super easy and turned out awesome! I bought a bag of frozen Italian seasoned meatballs and put them in a crock pot. Added a can of regular spaghetti sauce and a can of 4 cheese spaghetti sauce (I used what I had in the pantry—Hunt's) and cooked it on low for about 6 hours. I then cooked the pasta separately. Man, those meatballs were so good and so was the sauce. Definitely a keeper recipe!

Maybe I’ll cook more in 2018. Easy recipes, that is. After we use up all our bonus coupons from the gift cards we bought this month (and we bought a LOT of gift cards). Free money is free money, especially when you eat at that restaurant all the time.

Made it to the theatre on Monday (got smart and bought the tickets early this time) and saw “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” I enjoyed it very much. I don’t get what people didn’t like about it, but then I’m not into the fandom that heavily. I like what I like, but I don't necessarily join clubs about it.

So… How was your Christmas? Was it a white one? Ours was. And much too cold. That warm weather can return any day now.

Happy Reading!



Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

I don't have a picture of my Christmas tree, but thought I'd share the tree that was on the Carnival Conquest during our cruise. It was pretty. And tall!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas! We're spending our day at the theatre to watch the latest Star Wars movie (made sure to buy tickets earlier!!) and then we'll come home for a dinner of meatloaf and macaroni & cheese. Yum yum!

Oh, and in case you were wondering... I DID download my cruise pictures. Should have them posted this Friday.

Merry Christmas!!


Friday, December 22, 2017

Me Bad

Okay, so this is why I only say I MIGHT do something, because I know when my list of things to do is long, that posting pictures from my cruise is gonna be on the bottom of that list. And since I haven't completed everything else on the list...

Yeah, I haven't downloaded my pictures yet.

But the tree is up! It's just not decorated. And I have MOST of the presents I need wrapped by tomorrow, wrapped. Which means I still have some to wrap today. I've managed to sweep the floors, but the vacuum cleaner hasn't moved an inch. And I won't even mention the bathroom.

I can't even blame it on my radiation treatments, either. Those haven't taken so long and after three treatments, I'm not feeling the effects yet. Well, not so much anyway.

So... Maybe NEXT Friday I'll have pictures to post. Because I really doubt I'll download those pictures this weekend. You see...there's this big holiday coming up and I still have lots more presents to wrap.

You all have a great weekend!


Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wednesday Reads and I Reached My Goal!

Since the Internet was so wobbly during my cruise, I wasn’t able to post what I read last week, not that I had much. But I did manage to reach my goal of reading 65 books (shhh… don’t tell anyone I kind of cheated by reading some novellas there at the end). Next year I will NOT make my goal so high (and here I thought I’d cut back THIS year!).

Here’s what I read the past two weeks:

Book #62

Dates read: December 1-8
Title: “Abducted”
Year of publication: 2015
Author: Tarah Scott and Evan Trevane
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Texas Rangers Special Ops #1
# of Pages: 300
Paper or plastic: Trade paperback
How obtained: Free from a convention
Blurb from book: The El Paso gala was slated to be the hottest event of the year and a must do if Liz Monahan, the creative brains behind Nina Bruce Designs, was to vault the company to the big time. Circumstances put Liz at the party in one of her own creations, escorted by a young, handsome model hired to show her off to the well-known and well-established. But Liz didn’t count on her date being an undercover Texas Ranger who is investigating a human trafficking ring. She also didn’t count on being kidnapped and trafficked herself.
    When Texas Ranger Ben Hunter slips away from Liz Monahan at the gala and begins his investigation, he couldn’t be more surprised to arrive in Juarez, Mexico to find her held captive by infamous human trafficker Carols Sanchez. In order to save her, Ben must commit murder. Hers.
My thoughts: I might have enjoyed this book more if I didn’t want to keep editing it. Fallback for being a writer, I suppose. Story kept me turning the pages in any case.

Book #63

Dates read: December 12-13
Title: “Tempted by Midnight”
Year of publication: 2014
Author: Lara Adrian
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Midnight Breed #12.5
# of Pages: 99
Paper or plastic: Nook book
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from Goodreads: Once, they lived in secret alongside mankind. Now, emerged from the shadows, the Breed faces enemies on both sides—human and vampire alike. No one knows that better than Lazaro Archer, one of the eldest, most powerful of his kind. His beloved Breedmate and family massacred by a madman twenty years ago, Lazaro refuses to open his heart again.
    Sworn to his duty as the leader of the Order’s command center in Italy, the last thing the hardened warrior wants is to be tasked with the rescue and safekeeping of an innocent woman in need of his protection. But when a covert mission takes a deadly wrong turn, Lazaro finds himself in the unlikely role of hero with a familiar, intriguing beauty he should not desire, but cannot resist.
    Melena Walsh has never forgotten the dashing Breed male who saved her life as a child. But the chivalrous hero of her past is in hard contrast to the embittered, dangerous man on whom her safety now depends. And with an unwanted—yet undeniable—desire igniting between them, Melena fears that Lazaro’s protection may come at the price of her heart….
My thoughts: I was caught up in the series, but hadn’t read any of the novellas because they were in an anthology I wasn’t interested in buying. I remembered Lazaro from other books in the series (and somehow pictured him way older, but kept forgetting he’s a vampire and doesn’t age—d’oh!), but had to think back to when this storyline occurred. Other than that, I was back into a world I really enjoy.

Book #64

Dates read: December 13-14
Title: “Stroke of Midnight”
Year of publication: 2015
Author: Lara Adrian
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Midnight Breed #13.5
# of Pages: 89
Paper or plastic: Nook book
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from Goodreads: Born to a noble Breed lineage steeped in exotic ritual and familial duty, vampire warrior Jehan walked away from the luxurious trappings of his upbringing in Morocco to join the Order’s command center in Rome.
    But when a generations-old obligation calls Jehan home, the reluctant desert prince finds himself thrust into an unwanted handfasting with Seraphina, an unwilling beauty who’s as determined as he is to resist the antiquated pact between their families.
    Yet as intent as they are to prove their incompatibility, neither can deny the attraction that ignites between them. And as Jehan and Seraphina fight to resist the calling of their blood, a deadly enemy seeks to end their uneasy truce before it even begins…
My thoughts: A minor character I didn’t remember in the series, but still very much enjoyable (although some of the events of this story kind of screamed historical)

Book #65

Dates read: December 14-15
Title: “Midnight Untamed”
Year of publication: 2016
Author: Lara Adrian
Genre: Paranormal romance
Series: Midnight Breed #14.5
# of Pages: 69
Paper or plastic: Nook book
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from Goodreads: The mission was supposed to be simple. Infiltrate an enemy's stronghold outside Rome and eliminate its leader. For a Breed warrior as lethal as Ettore Selvaggio, AKA "Savage", stealth assassinations are only one of his many cold-hearted specialties. But the last thing Savage expects to find behind enemy lines—in his target's bed—is a woman he once adored.
    It's been years since Savage last saw beautiful Arabella Genova. Years he's strived to banish to his past, along with the fierce desire he once felt toward Bella . . . and the irresistible calling of her blood that stirs in him even now, despite the fact that she belongs to another male.
    But when fate throws Savage and Bella together again in a race for their lives, will his long-lost love prove to be the one woman he can't live without, or the perfect weapon to destroy him?
My thoughts: This is the kind of story that works for a novella – second chance at love. The characters already know each other. Although… I would have enjoyed knowing them more.

Book #66

Dates read: December 16-17
Title: “Love’s Portrait”
Year of publication: 2005/2011
Author: Monica Burns
Genre: Historical romance
Series: N/A
# of Pages: 155
Paper or plastic: Nook book
How obtained: Purchased for free at B&N
Blurb from Goodreads: When Julia Westgard commissions a nude portrait of herself, the painting is much more than a rebellious act. It's an attempt to regain her self-worth after years of a loveless, repressive marriage to her late husband. But the private portrait puts her directly in the path of Morgan St. Claire, one of the Marlborough Set's most notorious seducers. A man who doesn't take no for an answer.
    From the first moment Morgan sees Julia's portrait, he's determined to have her. But the woman he meets is a far cry from the image on canvas. What starts out as a simple exercise in seduction quickly evolves into a quest to reveal the true Julia. With each sensual encounter, he employs every erotic weapon at his disposal in hopes of making Julia see she really is the woman in Love's Portrait.
My thoughts: Very entertaining and very, very sexy. Should have read it long before now. But the only reason I read this book now is because I was reading another historical romance that was bugging the you-know-what out of me and I needed to know if it was the genre or author. It wasn’t the genre.

I hope to get pictures from the cruise posted on Friday.

So… Are you all set for Christmas? I got the tree up yesterday. Not sure how much decorating I’ll do, but that is in the plans for today. Then I have to start wrapping some presents. Especially those I’m handing out this Saturday! Oh yeah, guess I better clean the house a little, too.

Happy Reading!


Monday, December 18, 2017

I'm Back...Sort Of

Still driving home from the cruise, but stopped near Macon, GA (on the way to Atlanta) to watch the football games last night, so I had some time to write. Plus, I got INTERNET.

You don’t realize how much you miss it until you’re teased with having it.

Hubby purchased the premium package this time (to get streaming and a faster upload/download/whatever), but the Internet on the Conquest was so much worse than what we got for a standard package on the Miracle back in November! There was no way I was going to be able to post anything to the blog. Heck, I would have been surprised if I got the blog to show up on my laptop to begin with.

When it took me two minutes to just open an e-mail, you can imagine my frustration.

So yeah, I was TEASED with the Internet. I think I would have been better off thinking I couldn’t have it at all. And I tried to think that way. I really did.

Lucky for us, Hubby was able to get a 50% discount for the premium package, but still stay ON the premium package (I’m thinking the standard package had to have been CRAP), and plus his company was paying for it anyway. Thank goodness they didn’t need him for anything important. Not sure he could have helped any if they had.

I expect to be home by dinner time tonight. And you know what? I’m kind of in the mood to decorate for Christmas. Who’d have thought, right?

This cruise was very motivating. I actually got some words written on my WIP and more ideas are starting to come to me. Yay! You don’t know how happy that makes me feel.

As for the football games we watched yesterday… Never would have expected the Rams to CRUSH the Seahawks. Man, what fun that was to see! But the Steelers...Ugh. I was really hoping they would have pulled another win out of their a$$! Especially against the Patriots (I hate them soooo much). I just hope Antonio Brown isn’t hurt too badly.

Happy Monday!


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Wednesday Reads and I'm Almost Ready

Yesterday I had several appointments and still managed to get some Christmas shopping done, because I realized I needed to mail some presents BEFORE I left on the cruise. Like I needed to add MORE stuff to my list of things to do. But I managed to do it all. And I got the Christmas cards mailed. Now I just have to finish the laundry and pack. Piece of cake!

Here’s what I read the past week:

Book #61

Dates read: May 26 – December 1
Title: “Write Naked”
Year of publication: 2017
Author: Jennifer Probst
Genre: Non fiction – writing
Series: N/A
# of Pages: 225
Paper or plastic: Trade paperback
How obtained: Purchased
Blurb from book: Regardless of the genre, every novelist faces a difficult task. Creating authentic characters and an engaging plot are challenging enough. But attempting to break into the hotter-than-ever romance genre, which is constantly flooded with new titles and fresh faces? It can feel impossible. To survive—and thrive—you need the help and wisdom of an expert.
New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Probst reveals her pathway to success, from struggling as a new writer to signing a seven-figure deal. Write Naked intermingles personal essays on craft with down-to-earth advice on writing romance in the digital age.
    Written in Probt’s unmistakable and honest voice,
Write Naked is filled with the lessons and craft advice every writer needs in order to carve out a rewarding career.
My thoughts: A writer friend boasted about this book, so I took a look at it and decided I needed it too. Sure, it’s taken me awhile to read it (between fiction books), but it is the SECOND craft book I’ve read from cover to cover (the first being On Writing by Stephen King). And I can see me reaching for this book again when I get stuck or need encouragement. Now, you don’t have to be writing romance to get some of what she talks about, and you don’t need to read this book in order (although I did). Each chapter talks about different parts of writing or being a writer and ends with an exercise. I haven’t done any of them yet, but I bet I do later on. Because I’m not shelving this book. Nope. It’s staying within sight.

Today’s weather turned nasty. Blowing wind. Cold temperatures. So glad we’re heading south in a couple of days. I shall bask in it all.

I am sad to see about the fires in Ventura County. That’s not too far from Santa Barbara (next county over), but far enough to not affect my mom (or other relatives I have in the area). Thank God!!

So… Do you have a favorite craft book? What is it? It doesn’t have to be about writing.

Happy Reading!


Monday, December 4, 2017

One Busy Week

I think this will be the week from hell. Or pretty darn close. Because it’s no fun unless you wait until the last minute to do anything, ya know? And I’m the great procrastinator.

We leave Thursday night for our trip. I still have to pack. I still have to figure out WHAT to pack. And then there’s laundry to do…

Oh, and Tuesday is full of appointments: the car, me, and a dinner engagement. Okay, so that’s not being a procrastinator, that’s just being a poor planner. Or maybe a good one. I’m getting it all done in one day! Tuesday is also my friend’s birthday and I still haven’t gotten her anything, but then she didn’t give me any ideas, either. So yeah, I’ll blame her.

Maybe I’ll find something for her on the cruise. Yeah, that’s it.

Then there’s decorating for that big holiday that’ll be here in THREE WEEKS! I was going to put up the tree before we left, but I’m not really in the mood to clean and decorate. So I’m hoping that after being on a ship full of Christmas decorations and cheer, I’ll be in the mood when I get home and put up the tree then. If not, well, I guess we’ll just pile the presents where the tree would have gone. I’ve decided I’m not going to stress out about it. I got enough stressing to do, if you know what I mean.

Oh, and in case I forgot to say, I decided against having chemo. Which meant on Saturday I was able to get my hair colored (you didn’t think I’m a natural blonde, did you?). If I had chosen differently, I was going to get quite a bit of hair cut and no color (why bother?). So glad I don’t have to do that now. I kind of like my hair.

Anyway… I start radiation treatments on the 20th. I can’t imagine that’ll be any worse than chemo. But I’ve been known to be wrong. Just ask my husband. He can probably count them all on one hand!

So… Do you like busy weeks? There was a time when I would have said yes, because I liked being busy. It made the day go by faster. But now? Heck no! The week already goes by fast enough. I just hope it slows down a little during our vacation. I just want to relax and chill.

Happy Monday!



Friday, December 1, 2017

38 Years Ago and Goodreads Gouging

Thirty-eight years ago today Hubby and I tied the knot. And it seems just like yesterday.

Okay, maybe not yesterday, but it is a day I remember vividly. More vividly than I remember yesterday. Haha!

We’re not doing anything special tonight. The upcoming cruise will be our special. And that’s how we came to taking cruises in December. They were anniversary presents to ourselves. Then we found out how much cheaper it is to cruise in early December vs. Christmas or summer. Almost half the price!

But unlike last year, Hubby hasn’t booked any cruises for next December. Probably because we have two already booked for 2018 and are still paying for them. Although… he is getting itchy fingers to search for a December cruise.

I should have known this day would come eventually, since Amazon bought Goodreads. I just didn’t think it would affect me so much. Starting in January, Goodreads will finally be able to let authors and publishers give away not only print books, but e-books as well. However, they will start charging for this feature. It’s not a cheap fee, either: $119 for “standard,” $599 for “premium.” And that’s PER giveaway! Talk about gouging an author.

I had planned on holding a giveaway for Ghostly Interlude once I got it all formatted for print. But seeing as I doubt that’ll happen before January 8th, I’ll have to scrap that plan. No way will I pay that much to give away a book. Goodreads isn’t that effective as a sales tool. I know. I’ve tried advertising there.

Not only is this disappointing as an author, it’s disappointing as a reader, too. Those e-book giveaways are for Kindle books only. I don’t own a Kindle. I own a Nook. So therefore, why bother entering the e-book giveaway? I wouldn’t be able to read it anyway.

I kind of wish I had told Goodreads about being disappointed as a reader when I took their survey, but I was too angry and disappointed as an author. I pretty much told them my money would be better spent on a Romantic Times review, and that ain’t cheap, either. But at least I know who my audience is there.

So… For you married folks, what kind of stuff do you do to celebrate your big day? Do you still give presents to each other? We never did that. We used to buy something for the house. Now it’s just the cruises. Which is fine. We don’t need anything else for the house!

Happy Friday!