Reading Pet Peeves

So I’m reading away the other night, totally engrossed in a really good book, turning the pages as fast as I can. When suddenly everything comes to a screeching halt and I’m ripped out of the story.

Why?

Because the author didn’t know her stuff. Didn’t do her research. And I caught it. I had to put the book down. Oh, I’ll finish it because I love this author and I love this book. But for right now I need to take a break from it because the mistake was something that shouldn’t have happened if the author had done the research needed. And it’s a simple thing to do. A quick Google search would have netted the correct usage of a word.

Note to contemporary authors: There’s a HUGE difference between jail and prison. The character, who happens to be a cop, would definitely know that difference, yet he used the wrong term and it pulled me completely out of the story.

So what is your reading pet peeve? What will make you throw the book against the wall and walk away from it?

Watcha Readin’?

So what’s everyone reading?

I’m currently reading Linda Howard and Linda Jones romance, Running Wild. I love Howard’s romances and couldn’t wait to get my hand on this one. So far it’s everything I’d hoped it would be.

In book 1 of this steamy new contemporary Western romance series by two blockbuster authors, a cowboy and a woman on the run take a stand and fight for love.
 
Carlin Reed lives in fear, off the grid, moving from place to place. So Battle Ridge, Wyoming, a small town in the middle of nowhere, seems like a good place to lie low for a while. But after becoming cook and housekeeper to cattle rancher Zeke Decker, Carlin suspects that she’s made her first mistake. Rugged, sexy, and too distracting for his own good, Zeke is pure temptation mixed with something deep and primal that makes Carlin feel almost safe. Soon things are getting way too hot in the kitchen.

Zeke doesn’t challenge Carlin’s terms: cash, dead bolts, and no questions. It is easy to see that she’s a woman in trouble. Problem is, he’s so blindsided by his attraction to her he can’t think straight. Zeke tries to stay all business, no complications—but that game plan is sabotaged the second Carlin gets under his skin. And when her terrifying past follows her to the ranch, Carlin faces a heartbreaking choice: run away from the man she loves, or put him in the crosshairs of a madman.

I need to grow my TBR pile. Not. But I do like to hear about great books. Tell me what you’re reading.

 

Guest – Sara Walter Ellwood


gamblingonasecretsmcqCharli’s Chicken and Vegetables Casserole

Today, I’d like to share a recipe I developed for my heroine Charli Monroe in Gambling On A Secret. Charli cooks this casserole for dinner after she and her manager, Dylan Quinn, clean out the stable of her newly purchased ranch.

Dylan doesn’t want to stay, but he really doesn’t want to go home either. So, he helps Charli cut up the chicken, and after it’s finished cooking, they share a simple meal. One of many.

~*~

4 skinless/boneless chicken breasts, cut into ½ inch strips

2 tablespoons of butter

1 14.5 can of chicken broth plus enough water to equal 2 cups of liquid

1 package of long grain and wild rice mix (such as Uncle Bens)

1 package frozen mixed vegetables—Broccoli, Carrots and Cauliflower

1 cup of shredded cheese (Cheddar or Colby)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter in 10 inch frying pan. Add chicken and brown. Pour in broth and bring to a boil.

Add rice and season packet, cook until rice is tender and sauce begins to thicken. Spray 4 quart casserole dish with Pam and spread vegetables on bottom. Pour chicken and rice mixture over the vegetables, and toss together. Sprinkle cheese over top and bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and vegetables are tender. Serves 6.

Blurb:

When Charli bets everything on a secret, will she find the deck stacked against her?

Former runaway-turned heiress Charli Monroe is hiding her sordid past and planning a future in Colton, Texas. Attending the local college for a degree in social work, she intends to raise cattle on her newly purchased ranch, which she plans to open as a home for troubled teens. Only a few glitches—the Victorian mansion is crumbling, the barn needs a roof, and her oilman neighbor wants more than friendship. When she meets Dylan Quinn, Charli is willing to take a chance on the town drunk to help her rebuild the rundown ranch.

Dylan has his demons, too. The former Special Forces commander can’t get past his ex-wife’s betrayal and the botched mission that left him with much more than a bad limp. Certain the greedy oilman next door to Charli wants much more than just her heart, Dylan’s even willing to stop drinking in order to protect her.

When things get dangerous and secrets of the past are revealed, is he only looking out for his new employer, or is she the new start he so desperately needs?

CONTENT WARNING: Details abuse of a minor, drug abuse, alcoholism, swearing, spicy sex, murder.

COVER QUOTE: “Full of intrigue, tangled pasts, and raw emotions, this one is guaranteed to keep you turning pages from start to finish and then wishing for one more chapter!”
Carolyn Brown, New York Times bestselling author of Just a Cowboy and His Baby.

Ms. Brown also named Gambling On A Secret as one of her favorite romance reads in 2012 in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today.

Excerpt:

“Ferguson, what are you doing here?” Dylan barked.

Leon ambled toward them on the stone path. “I’m saving a young maiden from torment. What are you doing here, playing the part of the devil?”

“I’m Miss Monroe’s new manager.” The deadly edge of his voice matched the flintiness of his eyes. “If there’s anyone to save the young maiden from, it’s you.”

“Mr. Quinn, please.” She turned to Leon. “Leon, is there something I can do for you?”

He smiled, showing off perfect white teeth in a face handsome enough to belong to an actor. “I was just passing by on my way home and decided to stop. How are the boys working out?”

Dylan’s stance widened and his hands flexed at his slides. “What boys?”

“Charli and I have entered into a business arrangement.”

She lost the battle with the urge to wrap her arms around herself. As much as she appreciated Leon’s kindness, respected him, and was even a little attracted to him, something about him didn’t sit right with her. He represented her peers in the community. According to Mrs. Pratt, besides the Cartwrights, she and Leon were undoubtedly the wealthiest residents in the county. No one in Colton could learn about her past. It would ruin her, and Leon, no doubt, had the means to dig up the dirt.

“Really?” Dylan stepped closer to her in a protective manner. Whiskey tainted his breath as the warmth of the exhalations tickled her cheek. “What kind of business arrangement?”

She could protect herself. Dylan Quinn wasn’t any safer than Leon Ferguson. Stepping away from him, she forced her arms to her sides. “Mr. Quinn, I can handle this.”

She faced Leon. “I’m amazed by how much the men got done since starting on Monday. The foreman told me last evening they’d be reseeding another fifty acres for hay this morning. And they have the corrals fixed and started on the fencing in the north pasture.”

“Good, good.” He glanced at Dylan. “I’ll be going, unless you need a more reliable exterminator. I couldn’t help but overhear about your snake infestation. I can give you the name of the company that has gotten rid of the snakes in our lakes over on Oak Springs for years.”

Although he presented the perfect solution, she didn’t the like way Leon had looked at Dylan as he said the word exterminator. “No, Mr. Quinn is quite capable of getting rid of the snake.”

“Oh, I’m sure he is.” Leon tipped his hat. “Let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you, Charli.” Dylan’s jaw tightened as his uncle glanced at him. “It’s good to see you up among the living again.”

Leon headed back to his Porsche. With no pretense of lowering his voice, Dylan said, “Now, there’s a snake no one wants in their garden.”

Upon hearing the jibe, Leon’s shoulders jerked in mid-stride.

Rattled by Leon’s attention and the snake fiasco, she turned on Dylan. “You aren’t off the hook. I want those snakes gone.”

“We’ll see.”

“I hate snakes.” She shuddered and put her hands on her hips. “Maybe I should have asked him who the exterminator is.”

Bio:

crop_2279Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia.

She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name Cera duBois.

Buy Links:

Lyrical Press | AmazonBarnes and Noble | BookStrand

Author links:

Website | Blog | Facebook: | Twitter 

Giveaway:

**PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE GIVEAWAY**

~One poster from every stop will win a Gambling On A Secret ebook

~One commenter from each stop will win a piece of custom jewelry.

(The winners of these two prizes will be announced the day after the tour stop.) 

I also have 2 Grand Prizes!

~First Grand Prize is a SWAG PACK, including a signed copy of Carolyn Brown’s Just a Cowboy and His Baby. Also included is a copy of D’Ann Lindun’s Shot Through the Heart, a pen, a notebook, a horse themed mini calendar, a patriotic themed day planner, and more all tucked away in a reusable tote bag at the end of my blog tour.

~Second Grand Prize is a $10 Gift Card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you follow the tour and comment as often as possible, you increase your chances of winning!

(The winners of the Swag Pack and Gift Card will be announced on March 1, 2013.)

(Swag Pack is only eligible for US residents to win. The jewelry and gift card are eligible to US and Canada residents only. The ebook is eligible to anyone, unless prohibited by law.)

GamblingonaSecretTour

My Motto for 2013

Expect ImperfectionI had an ah-ha moment the other day while reading a blog post on a weight loss site I’m on.

Expect imperfection.

It really hit me what that really meant. For some it might mean settling for less, but not for me.

When I expect perfection from myself, I inevitably fail. No one is perfect.

No. One.

So why should we expect it from ourselves? Why do we think we’re so awesome that we don’t make mistakes?

I haven’t blogged about this at all, but in 2012 I lost 22 pounds. I’ve lost weight before. 70 pounds ten years ago. Most of it found me again. When I decided to lose it this time, I promised myself many things.

-I wasn’t going to beat myself up when I fell off the wagon.

-I wasn’t going to quit when I fell off the wagon because I WAS going to fall off the wagon. Many times.

-I wasn’t going to let it stop me.

-I also wasn’t going to stop eating the foods I loved–I just wasn’t going to eat them all the time.

In other words, expect imperfection.

It worked for me and my weight loss. I’m at 23 pounds lost, hoping to lose four more so I’ll finally have a healthy BMI and a “normal” weight. No. Let me rephrase that. I’m not hoping to, I WILL lose four more pounds.

But then I started thinking about this motto, “expect imperfection”, in other aspects of my life. More specifically, in my writing.

As I writer, I expect perfection from myself. On the first draft. How silly is that? But what if I started expecting IMperfection on that first draft? What if I was, if not happy, content, with what I wrote the first time around?

What a freeing concept. And what a weight that’s been lifted from my shoulders, both literally and figuratively.

So my new motto for 2013: Expect imperfection.

The Notorious Lady Anne – Sunday Six

Final Notorious Lady Anne“I’m sorry about . . . Well, about what happened in my office.”

Her eyes flew open and she stared up at the stars. Her face grew hotter. Not with embarrassment, as he would probably assume, but with anger. How dare he take her one good memory and taint it with an apology. Now she felt cheap, when before she felt wanted and cherished and treasured.

 

Blurb | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Random House

Birthdays, Bars and Bathrooms

The other day a friend of mine celebrated her birthday by inviting a bunch of her closest friends to a bar she likes to frequent. I went because I like my friend a lot. The bar, not so much. Even in my heyday (read: college days), I wasn’t into the bar scene. At least not the meat market bar scene.

I like me a quiet bar where I can converse with the bartender and nurse a drink (okay, Diet Coke) all night long.

This was not that sort of place.

This was a meat market.

I was out of my element.

So around midnightish I had to make a trip to the little girl’s room. I enter and there, standing in front of the mirror, putting on her lipstick, is a Snookie wanna-be. Blonde. But a wanna-be nonetheless.

Okay. To each his own.

She looks at me and says, “I washed my hands. You weren’t in here when I did, but I did wash my hands.”

Umm. Okay? Good for you? I’m grateful? What does one say to that? I just smile and go into my stall. Blonde Snookie keeps telling me she washed her hands.

Another girl exits her particular stall and Blonde Snookie squeals. “Oh my GAWD, I LOVE your hair! It’s FAB!”

Fab?

“Um. Thanks,” says the poor other girl who is now cornered by Blonde Snookie. I can hear her washing her hands then she asks Blonde Snookie, “Where do I dry my hands?”

“Oh on that THING over THERE. That THING hanging on the WALL.”

I quickly wash my own hands and side step out of there sending up a silent prayer for the poor girl still cornered by Blonde Snookie.

Yeah. Not my thing.

The House of Germs

drugs_flu_treatmentThe Cullen family has been hit hard by the flu. Normally we sail through the flu season with nary a sniffle nor sneeze but this year is different. I’ve heard that this strain of flu has been particularly bad throughout the country.

Fever. Chills. Cough. Ugh.

Yesterday my son was diagnosed with pneumonia. His flu progressed that quickly. Of course this is the kid who rarely gets sick but when he does, watch out! He doesn’t get a cold, he gets pneumonia. He doesn’t get strep throat, he gets mono.

So all of my plans to write are gone beneath the blanket I’ve been huddled under for two days. Sniffles. Cough. Oh, yeah. Fun times.

People keep asking if we got the flu shot. Nope. Never had before, didn’t feel a need to now. I’m of the opinion that it’s best to use my body’s own immune system to protect itself. Will I get a flu shot next year? Probably not, but I might for my son who can’t seem to get an ordinary cold.

What about you? Do you get a flu shot every year?