Contest Extended!

3 11 2009

Good news, everyone!

I’m extending the deadline to enter to win a copy of J.D.’s Christmas Wish. My computer crashed today, so I have no way to send the winner the promised “release-day” copy. (I’m on a borrowed computer now.) I’m soooo sorry! So what I’m going to do is extend the contest deadline to Monday, Nov. 9, at midnight. HOPEFULLY, I’ll have my computer back by then!  *crosses fingers* You can either enter a comment on this post or the “Keeping it Together” post.

Good Luck & Happy Reading!

~Staci Culver

jdschristmaswish_w3033_200x300JD’S Christmas Wish
Staci Culver
Last Rose of Summer Miniature Rose
Release Date: 11-4-2009

JD McAaden is scared. His parents fight all the time. As JD writes his letter to Santa, he realizes that he’ll give up everything if only his family can be saved. With the heart-rending innocence of a child, JD pins his faith on elves and the spirit of Christmas.

A mysterious invitation to visit North Pole Village for the holidays is all that is keeping Faith and Taylor McAaden’s marriage together. Faith has promised to give her son one last special outing before she sues for divorce. But in the magic atmosphere of hope, Faith and Taylor learn that love lurks even in the darkest hours and that with JD’s Christmas Wish their family can be made whole again.

August Winners

31 08 2009

Without further ado, the winners of the August Giveaway by random drawing are:

Christine Colombus……$10.00 Barnes & Noble giftcard

Mary Ricksen…….If You Dare

Judy Cox……….Improper Wife

ALee Drake……..Hers to Command

Congratulations to all our winners! I’ll be in contact with you soon to get your mailing addresses.

Be sure to check back next week on The Write Direction for a new contest!


Wish for the Moon, coming Sept 18–available for pre-order now!!

What Inspires You?

3 08 2009
Sometimes the best view is from high above

Sometimes the best view is from high above

As I wind down the current novel I’m working on—Moonlight Madness, a time travel set in 17th century England—I’m hunting for my next project and looking for inspiration. Which brings me to the question for our blog theme this month: what inspires you?

I made a list of the most common places writers find inspiration (in no particular order):

  1. writing groups: RWA, local chapters, critique groups
  2. reading
  3. browsing bookstore/library shelves
  4. travel, road trips
  5. new experiences (jobs, careers)
  6. observation/people-watching
  7. the news
  8. music
  9. poetry/quotes
  10. celebrities
  11. movies/tv
  12. antique stores/flea markets
  13. museums
  14. parks/gardens/nature
  15. family/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend

In writing a 90,000-100,000, I’ve found all of the above can be useful sources of inspiration!

My favorite kick-in-the-writer’s butt—Travel

This week I’m relaxing on one of my favorite beaches. My family has vacationed in South Carolina almost every year since the early 80’s and it never fails to plant the seeds of a new story in my mind.

The history of Low Country attracts me to this area in the strongest way. First, it’s in my blood. My father’s Welsh/Scot/Irish family settled in South Carolina in the early 1700’s. Second, this is the same area where pirates once roamed, where the Civil War was fought, and it’s the setting for a plethora of great literature including the eerie true story, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Poe’s The Gold Bug.

After I meditate beneath one of the ancient Spanish Moss-covered oaks or on the balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll be blessed with another story to take back home with me. Travel definitely inspires my writing—the settings in particular. I can almost hear the characters’ voices in my head as I listen to the waves on the shore.

Finding island history inside a lighthouse

Finding island history inside a lighthouse

Is there anyplace that makes you want to write? Do you feature places you’ve visited in your stories? If so, where?

This month I’m giving away a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some books from my shelf “to inspire you.” Comment on one post this August and you’ll be entered to win in a drawing to be held at the end of the month. Good luck and be inspired!

When I Fell in Love…

28 07 2009

011213_1221_0017_lsls_thumbI’m one of those writers (probably the only one who can say this actually) who didn’t always like to read. I know, I know…you can start breathing again. Actually, I didn’t truly discover my love of reading until I met the man I love. (And yes, I grant you permission to roll your eyes and say, “How cheesy!”) In fact, I used to tease my now hubby for reading so much. Then one day, he got me back. He gave me a book I couldn’t put down…

It was book one in the Left Behind series. From then it was the Harry Potter Series and so many other books that I can’t remember them all. I read across all genres, trying to find my true reading passion…until one day, I stumbled across an innocent-looking book that changed how I will forever read one author. The book was Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, and I was six months pregnant…

Now, I’m sure anyone who has read the book probably knows where this post is headed right now, and for anyone who doesn’t…*MASSIVE SPOILER WARNINGS AHEAD*…

My sister gave me the book and just raved about how wonderful this “romance author” was and what a wonderful story this was. Now, in her defense, I did enjoy the book…UNTIL THE HERO DIED! I was devastated. It might as well have been my husband that died for all the distinction my emotions seemed to take.

For 40 minutes after I finished reading I was still WEEPING. For the next 2 weeks, every time I thought about the book, I cried. It was TERRIBLE! I was even mad at my husband for days because he let me read the darned thing in the first place! He knew how it ended! He’d seen the movie. (Don’t ask why HE’D seen the movie because I don’t know, lol.) To this day, when I pick up a new Nicholas Sparks book, I have to read the end, just to see if anyone died so I can prepare myself, lol.

Now you know my crazy story, what about you? Got any crazy stories involving books? You know we want to know! 🙂 Even more, you know you want to share…


The Book That Ruined Them All!

19 07 2009

woman_reading_a_book-otherI worked as bookstore manager for nine years—the best hourly-wage job I ever had. (Love those discounts, author’s galleys, and ARC copies!!)  I loved handselling my favorites to my customers. I giddily approached shoppers who appeared to have similar taste in reading as me so I could share the gems I’d recently discovered. But I will never forget one book that changed everything.

It was a novel, not my usual romance. Something about the Scottish plaid on the cover called to the Celtic-lover in me. I picked it up and put it down for weeks, always disregarding it for its size alone—a paperback at least 2 1/2 inches thick.  Finally I gave in, and oh, how my world changed. To me, that book was as close to perfect as I’ll ever read. I finished it in one weekend. Food, sleep, nothing mattered except finishing that novel! (same goes for the sequels—but that’s another story!).

I cried so much while reading the novel that when it came to handselling it, I got misty-eyed just talking about it. I will always remember the reaction of a frequent customer of mine when she returned after reading the book, which I’d heartily recommended to her. With eyes narrowed, she approached me and grasped my arm. She said, “I read Outlander last night and I just wanted you to know what you’ve done. You’ve completely ruined all other romances for me from now on. Nothing, nothing will ever beat that.”

And for me, some have come close but she’s right. One book changed it all.

I love to feel so connected with the characters and their journeys that I experience an emotional bond. I’m sure authors—romance authors in particular—want to tug on our heartstrings as their heroine suffers a setback. Why else would the author “torture” the hero? Do you have a reading experience that “ruined” all other books for you? Or maybe you’re still looking for that pageturner that you just can’t put down. If you’ve ever had a reading experience so real you had to have a box of tissues nearby, tell us about it. You’ll feel better once you get it off your chest.



6 07 2009

book hug

Hello, my name is Estelle and I’m a bibliophile.

Now, all you fellow bookworms out there say, “Hello, Estelle.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a bibliophile as a lover or collector of books. I think “love” might be putting it mildly. For me, it’s more of an obsession.

Years ago (in my former life as an English teacher) I went to a workshop on teaching writing, and the attendees were given the classic paragraph assignment: Describe your bedroom.

The fact that this is a silly assignment for either students or teachers aside, I had a sort of revelation while completing it. I started with the bookshelves—two six foot shelves, and two smaller three foot shelves on either side of the bed, all brimming. Then I moved on to the piles of books on the floor—the mini towers that the cat constantly knocks over. Last, I described the heaps of books on the empty side of my double bed (I was—and still am—single). Yes, I sleep with my books. I realized there was probably something Freudian (and therefore disturbing) in the fact that my bed companion was (and still is) a pile of books. Then the timer went off, ending the exercise, and I happily quit thinking about it.

I do love books though. I love to look at them, smell them, hold them. It’s a comfort to have a book in my hand. If I have extra cash, I want to spend it on books. If I have time to kill in town, I want to spend it at the bookstore. A dream vacation for me would be to travel across the country visiting all the unique and hole-in-the-wall bookstores I could find. Unfortunately, it would be a short vacation because I’d spend all my money after the first few stops.

My biggest pet peeves are book related, too. I don’t dog-ear. Ever. I don’t crack open spines. Chills go down my own spine when I see someone do that. I consider it an accomplishment for the book to look pristine and unread when I’m finished with it. I also have issues with price stickers. If there’s a sticker plastered on the book, I have to remove it as soon as I’m out of the store before the heat can seal it on forever. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t matter, but it does—I want the stickers removed. And if you wait too long to take it off, the residue is there forever and even Goo-Gone won’t truly take care of the problem. I told you—it’s an obsession.

My to-be-read pile resembles a small mountain, and it has a little bit of everything in it—I’ll give you a glimpse.

At the top is Lisa Kleypas’s Smooth Talking Stranger. I recently read Sugar Daddy and Blue Eyed Devil by her and LOVED them. I picked up A Hint of Wicked by fellow Romance Diva, Jennifer Haymore the other day. On the spicier side, I recently discovered Bella Andre’s erotic romances and have Red Hot Reunion in the stack. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Prodigal Summer are there—The Poisonwood Bible was the best piece of literary fiction I’ve read in ages. The Chosen by Chaim Potok is there because a friend recommended it. Amanda Quick’s The Perfect Poison is there because I’m addicted to the Arcane Society books. Toward the end of the month when Suzanne Brockmann’s newest Troubleshooters book comes out, it will go to the top of the pile, although I may have to fight my mother for who gets it first. I have Donald Maas’s The Fire in Fiction in there too. And tons more. I never get ahead of the stack. I wouldn’t want to. Where’s the fun in that?

When people ask me what my favorite book is, I usually can’t give just one answer. I love so many of them. I have lists of favorites on my website, and I have a Shelfari shelf of what I’m currently reading on my blog, but I’m constantly reading new books and gaining new favorites.

It’s so hard to stay committed to just one. (Don’t get all Freudian with that.)

It turns out that I get to pick the theme for July here at The Write Direction, so I hereby officially declare it In Love with Books Month.

Let’s celebrate with a CONTEST! I’ll take a few romance books off my shelves to make room for new ones. I’m gritting my teeth at the thought of parting with them, but it’s a little easier when I know they’re going to someone who will love them like I do. Only bibliophiles need apply.

If you’re a true book lover, then comment on this post and tell me about your love of books. Which are your favorites? What’s in your to be read pile?

Then come back to The Write Direction throughout the month of July and comment on other July posts. At the end of the month, I’ll randomly select four commenters who will each get a new (new to you–and in good condition, though maybe not pristine because some of these may have found their way to me via the used book store) book to love.

I’ll post an additional book for the contest each week.  The first one is Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn.

Make Me Yours