The “Write” Place

2 12 2009

Otherwise known as "Starvation Plantation"

Three years ago, my husband and I were lamenting over how much money we were wasting spending on our family vacations and weekend getaways. We decided to purchase a riverfront lot and build a cabin near our favorite fishing spot and start paying for a retreat that would be ours to keep. Just this week we spent our first holiday in our newly built cabin.

Scott and I argue over what to call it: a vacation home, a fishing cabin, a writer’s retreat. Whatever you call it, it’s an excellent place to clear your mind. No cell phone signal in these woods. No DSL Internet access. The only sounds around the home are the occasional fishing boats humming past and the wildlife after dark. If you don’t think wildlife can be distracting, let me tell ya, you just need to step onto our deck after sunset. Coyote fights, shrieking owls, running deer, whistling foxes, and screeching herons–the woods come alive!

I’m expecting to get lots of writing done here and reading too. I pull up a chair on the deck, my laptop balanced on my lap, and a cup of coffee at my side, and let ‘er rip as the sun rises over the river. My morning view is what you see in the picture to the left. It’s not hard to think romance when you’ve got a 360 degree view. Now if I could keep my hubs from watching satelite TV football games inside the cabin…but that’s another post!!

That’s my favorite new writing place. I don’t get to visit it as often as I’d like, but when I do, it should be magic. Estelle wrote in an earlier post about her retreat. I’d love to hear what retreats you’ve been to or about ones you’d like to visit. Where is your “write” place?





Winners Galore

3 11 2009

The blur that is Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is racing toward us while several of us push forward toward a NaNoWriMo deadline.

We have three winners from the October contest.

WidowsPeak_w1019_680

The winner of  Widow’s Peak is Beth C

GotWolf_w4352_300bunnyb will get a copy of Got Wolf Volume 1

WishForTheMoon_w2712_680

And the copy of Wish for the Moon goes to Judy Cox

 

 

 

We’ll be in touch shortly to get your prizes out to you.





Cursed Love

25 10 2009

Misty Overgrown CemetarySandra loves Halloween!!!!!!!!!!!!

For me, Halloween means costumes and horror movies, popcorn and creepy decorations. But what I love best are the stories that come out of the woodworks during this time of year: Gothic romances.

Whether it’s Wuthering Heights or Tim Burton movies I’ve seen a hundred times, I adore spending time in haunted castles and listening to the wind howling on the moors.

Wales, the setting for Wish for the Moon, is home to many Gothic stories, probably because it has more castles than any other region of the UK. Many of our Halloween traditions originated with the Welsh, and ghost stories abound.
One such tragic tale of romance and superstition is the story of Nant Gwrtheyrn. Nant Gwrtheyrn is a valley in North Wales near the sea. As legend has it, three monks from a nearby monastery were driven out of the village by stones, and they cursed the valley with three curses: no two lovers from there would ever marry, not one of the inhabitants would be buried in consecrated ground, and the village itself would die. Eventually, a couple named Rhys and Meinir became engaged. On their wedding day Meinir, the bride-to-be, followed an old custom by pretending reluctance and going off to hide; Rhys and the other young men couldn’t find her though they searched all day, and Rhys stayed searching all night and the next day, wandering up and down the valley calling out her name. And he continued to do so all his life until one day when he was an old man. A Welsh rain forced him to take shelter under an old oak tree; at the height of the storm the tree was struck by lightening and split open, and the skeleton of his beloved Meinir fell out before him, still in her wedding dress. Rhys died soon afterwards of a broken heart, and the two lovers were placed in the same coffin, but even there they were not to rest in peace. As the cart carrying the coffin was climbing the hill out of the valley, it hit a rock and the coffin was shaken off and tumbled down the cliff to sink into the sea, doomed by the second curse. As for the third curse, the demand for the local quarry ceased and the village was abandoned as predicted.

So what are your favorite tales of cursed love? Share and you’ll be entered in this month’s contest!

Sandra

–author of Wish for the Moon, available now from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon

www.sandrajonesromance.com





Part two–Taming the Beast

18 09 2009
The healing powers of nature

The healing powers of nature

When thinking about what makes the perfect hero, the following comes to my mind: intelligence, courage, compassion, sex appeal, etc.  But for a Beauty & the Beast-themed story, where would the Beast be without Belle? Her influence over him helps him make the change from a miserable creature to a man–complete in every sense of the word.

Belle is a hero in her own right. Much like the heroine in my time-travel romance, Wish for the Moon.  Optimistic, buoyant, and friendly, Carrie Greer is the complementary opposite to Matthias Thorne’s reclusive beast. She’s an expert herbalist and small business entrepreneur. But her biggest obstacle in life is the only thing she can’t change: her health.

Carrie is an epileptic.

My sister-in-law Jennifer was a helpful source of inspiration for writing about Carrie. No shrinking violet herself, she has battled and endured her disability her entire life. Her multiple treatments and their side-effects have caused Jennifer setbacks but never changed her positive attitude.

Southern “belle” Carrie is determined to find the rare herb chronicled by medieval monks as a cure for seizures–an herb long-thought extinct until its rebirth during archeological excavations on Matthias’s property in Wales.  Little does she know the fearsome welcome that awaits behind the crumbling ancient walls.

Her physical appearance contradicts her attitude. Though she may appear frail, she has the stubbornness and heart of a Celtic warrior, herself!

Wish for the Moon

Wish for the Moon

Read an excerpt below:

With his hands on his hips, Matthias gave the attendants a sour look, and they scampered out immediately.

“Matthias,” Carrie crooned softly, “you know you’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean, Miss Scarlett?” he drawled mockingly.

She grabbed his hand and pulled him down to the bed, grinning. “It means, if you’re nice to people, they’ll be nice to you.”

He lifted a brow. “And how many men have you commanded?” His hands closed around her waist as he lowered a kiss to her neck.

Dying to touch him, she loosened his tunic and ran her fingers underneath the fabric, skimming

across his skin. “One.”

Win a Soothing Lavender Spa Basket plus a signed copy of Wish for the Moon!!!

Win a Soothing Lavender Spa Basket plus a signed copy of Wish for the Moon!!!

As today is the Official Release Day of Wish for the Moon, I am giving away a fantastic basket of lavender spa products which Carrie would heartily approve of, along with a signed copy of Wish for the Moon in a drawing. All you have to do to get your name in the drawing is to answer the following questions and/or post a  comment:  What characteristics do you like to see in a heroine/hero? In your opinion, do their imperfections make them less heroic or more? If you read last Monday’s post, Taming the Beast pt 1, and commented on both parts, you’ll get two entries in the contest today! Double the chance of winning!!

I’ll post the winners this Saturday at midnight.  Good luck!

Sandra

–author of Wish for the Moon, available now at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.





Taming the Beast

13 09 2009
Wish for the Moon

Wish for the Moon

Our month-long discussion about heroes continues….Plus, a MAJOR new contest!!!!

Beauty & the Beast is my all-time favorite fairy tale. In real life, it’s a common fantasy–a girl who hopes her love will be the thing that tames a beast. I admit I love a great brooding hero with lots of faults–a character who’s perfectly imperfect! But hey–let’s face it, some men are hopeless, unchangeable, and all the love in the world won’t make them turn from their bad ways. Their women are left frustrated and brokenhearted.

I thank goodness for the world of romance novels where we can escape the hard reality of life and embrace a fantasy where the hero can begin as  a cold, stubborn cad–who melts like snow in July on the hood of a black Corvette for the lady who holds his heart. Take the hero of my new time-travel romance, for example.

Let me introduce you to Matthias Thorne. As far as looks go, he originated completely from my imagination. Sorry, there’s no single actor for me to thank for his creation. Let’s just say in real life he would look a little like Gerard Butler meets Johnny Depp and have a clipped accent like Alan Rickman.  Once a young romantic knight, Matthias became dry, reserved, and miserable over the course of time–due to the circumstances that drove him from his home and his family, and into a life of solitude. Now you tell me, is he unworthy of love? Or does the heart of chivalry beat deep within the warrior, waiting for the right woman to warm his cold exterior?

Read an excerpt below, leave a comment, and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of the book which is being released this Friday. Come back that day when I blog about heroines, leave another comment, and you’ll receive 2 entries to win a prize basket containing some lovely soothing lavendar spa products!!

Silhouetted by lamplight, Matthias Thorne stood with his back to them, bracing his hands on the stone mantel of the hearth. His dark hair fell in waves to his shoulders. Beneath the tight white fabric of a damp dress shirt, the muscles of his broad back were plainly visible. As if a dark sorcerer contemplating the fate of the world, he stared into the black pit. Finally, he spoke, “What is it, Nigel?”

The caretaker turned the stereo volume down. A lump formed in Carrie’s throat. “I found this lady on the grounds, sir. She says she knows you.”

Thorne glanced sharply over his shoulder. His eyes glinted. “What the hell are you doing here?”  The room echoed under the weight of his barked demand. He rounded on them, his mercurial glare passing over Carrie.

The gatekeeper answered, “I found her near the gatehouse. Her bicycle is parked by the road, sir. She says all she wants is to see the grounds. I can show her around and let her straight out, if you like…”

Thorne waved a dismissive hand in the air, silencing poor Nigel. The man could do more communicating without talking than anyone she’d ever met. He strode toward them, a gothic nightmare. Light and shadow fell across his face as he drew near, and his eyes gleamed with outrage. He obviously wasn’t used to people challenging his orders.

Thorne stopped in front of them. “That’s exactly what Miss Greer came for, Nigel. I’d rather not give her the satisfaction,” he replied smoothly.

Is this man truly incorrigible…or a beast about to be tamed?

iStock_000007219253Small

Best Wishes,

Sandra

Wish for the Moon available in print and ebook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press.





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!

Sandra

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

http://www.sandrajonesromance.com





August Contest Update

22 08 2009

In addition to the Barnes & Noble giftcard for $10.00, I’m also giving away some gently-used books from my shelves. Comment on one post during the month of August and at the end of the month I’ll randomly draw from the comments for four lucky winners!

Good luck!

–Sandra Jones

author of the September release, Wish for the Moon, a time travel romance set in Medieval Wales

Up for grabs:

If You Dare by Kresley Cole

If You Dare by Kresley Cole

The Improper Wife by Diane Perkins

The Improper Wife by Diane Perkins

Hers to Command by Margaret Moore

Hers to Command by Margaret Moore





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!





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.

Sandra





Sun Worship

22 06 2009

The Coppertone Kids Grow Up

celtic-sun-moon-tattoo-2

Yesterday, June 21, was celebrated around the world as the Longest Day of the Year, or summer solstice. Since the beginning of recorded human history, people have worshipped the sun on this day. Modern-day Druids still trek to Stonehenge in England to welcome the sun in a festival. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Celts were just a few of the cultures who revered the sun, creating myths about solar deities. Gods and goddesses became the central characters in stories explaining the natural phenomena of the season. These deities were idolized in statues and paintings.

Sekhmet

If you’re not visiting Stonehenge or you aren’t a practicing Druid, chances are you probably worship the sun anyway. Like cultures of ancient times, today’s families gather during the summer for an event known as the family reunion, grilling food outdoors and sharing memories while the daylight stretches late into the evening. Hey, the energy you’re saving is helping the environment! We still celebrate the sun today through idol worship. We gather together on the shores of lakes and beaches, stretched long across beach towels in supplication to the almighty orb in the sky. And the deities? Just think about the last time you gave that tan guy at the beach a second look. Or maybe you paid for a month of tanning bed visits. Afraid of getting skin cancer? I doubt I’m the only girl who doesn’t care if I look like an Oompa Lompa–I’m slathering on the self-tanner when I go to the beach to sun worship next month. With my latest tattoo and snow-white stomach I’m looking a little too much like Amy Winehouse right now. I know I’ll feel more like a sun goddess when I have nice mocha-colored skin. And ya never know, a sun god might give me a second look when I’m sunkissed.

Sun God

Sun God

The traditional flower for the month of June is the rose. In honor of this most lovely of flowers, I’m adding the book Night’s Rose to the beach bag.  The fabulous fairy tale retelling is just perfect for time spent poolside, at the beach, or even in the lawn chair.  Everytime you comment this month, you get a chance to win our goody bag full of summertime treats. Enjoy!

Nights Rose

Night's Rose

Sandra Jones is the author of Wish for the Moon, a time travel romance set in medieval Wales coming this September from The Wild Rose Press.