Happy New Year! (almost)

I know I'm a bit early, but I want to wish everyone a wonderful new year. May you all be happy and healthy in 2010!

For me, there has been some great things happen in 2009. A few of the high points: I signed on with the Spencerhill Agency. I also signed my first contract with Kensington Publishing. I lost 25 lbs. We got a new puppy and she's adorable! Some of the down moments: My mother discovered she had a 20lb tumor on her ovaries. My father had 2 strokes. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Needless to say it's been stressful these last few months. I've been forgetting blog dates, had to ask for extra time to finish my manuscript and I've cried so much I'm about dry. But through it all I've felt extremely thankful for so many things. Those are the things I want to list.

1. I'm thankful my parents are getting better, their health is improving. Thank God, truly.

2. I'm thankful for my husband and my kids. They've let me lean on them a LOT lately and I'd be lost without them.

3. I'm thankful I have an understanding editor. She's the best!

4. My fellow bloggers, authors, friends...you guys know I've been slacking lately, missing emails and just basically taking time away from the computer. None of you have complained. Thank you for that!

So, tell me...what are hoping to find in 2010 and what are you thankful for?

My Favorite Christmas Present

My favorite Christmas present wasn’t anything I received. I’m not bashing the gifts I did get. I loved and appreciated each and every one of them. But I bought my kids something this year that I’d been looking forward to giving them. No way did I think I would get sucked into the awesomeness that is the Wii.

And, people, this system is awesome!

I am a huge Wii advocate now. I think this gaming system is pure genius. I love the way you interact with the games. Not only with the sport games, but regular game games. Take the Harry Potter game I rented for example. I didn’t just sit on my butt with a boring regular remote in my hands. No, my remote was a wand. I had to flick my wrist to cast spells. Point and click on object, then move my arm to position them where I needed them to go. I stirred the potions, I made the fire burn hotter. I was in motion the entire time. It was sooooo cool.

Even cooler…the boxing! If you want a great upper body workout, this will do it. LOL. I was sore for days from this game. I had to share this video. I still laugh when I watch it. It’s Christmas night and my son is playing the boxing game for the first time. The quality of the video isn’t the best, but you get the idea.

Along with regular games, I bought the Wii Fit Plus with the Wii Board. I’m a gym nut anyway, but it is my goal this year to lose the last thirty pounds I haven’t been able to get off. So I thought throwing in an hour a day using the Wii board would result in a few more calories burned and maybe knock my weight loss back into gear. I consider myself a fit person, but these games are NOT easy. I have muscles that are sore I didn’t even know could be sore.

There is this one game called Super Hula Hoop. Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong. Try three full minutes of swinging your hips in large circles to keep the fake hula hoop on the Mii’s hips. Holy crap! I felt that all the way from my knees to my armpit. LOL. Or there is the Segway game where you a squatting and leaning forward on your toes. OUCH!

I got to test out exactly what an hour workout on the Wii would do for me. Monday my van was in the shop (again, sigh) and my husband had to take our other car to work. So I was stranded at home with my two kids and no way to my fitness class. Normally when this happens, I just don’t get a workout in, but this time I did. I spent 45 minutes playing Wii Fit game after Wii Fit game. Yoga, strength training, aerobic, I did everything from juggle to skateboard to run. In those 45 minutes, I burned 250 calories. Not bad. I would have burned more in the gym, of course, but that is so much better than the big fat zero I would have burned if I hadn’t done it. And the most important thing is I had fun while I did it. I’m excited to see what the next few months will bring with me back on tack with my diet and exercise routine, with a little Wii added in. I hoping to see some major improvement for the summer:)

In other news I received a review on The Feline Fugitive. It’s been awhile since I received a review so this was really nice to see.

Autumn’s Review: The Feline Fugitive by Esmerelda Bishop is a cute love story with a taste of suspense. Ms. Bishop entangles you in a story of shifters, sex and murder. Luca is a sexy cat shifter who is in love with Claudette. Even when he's a cat he has a protective streak for his life mate. Claudette is a sassy human woman, who is a bit clueless at first as to her cat’s true nature. Ms. Bishop does a great job keeping you enthralled with twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat.
Rated 5 Delightful Divas by Autumn!
Hope everyone has a happy New Year!!!


Meet Your Goals in the New Year!

I hope all of you have had a happy holiday season with your friends and families! The new year is only a few days away, so I want to wish you a Happy New Year! I hope you reach all your goals in 2010. Speaking of which, I wrote an article for Examiner.com about setting goals in a way that makes you more likely to accomplish them. The article is called How to Write a 400 Page Book or Accomplish Anything. I hope you’ll check it out here.

I’ll be teaching a 4 week workshop starting January 4 called Take Your Writing to the Next Level. My intention with this workshop is to help writers break past whatever is holding them and their writing back so they can improve their writing overall. Sometimes it is difficult or impossible to see our own writing weaknesses or blunders because we are too close to the work. Most of us have a blind spot, and if only someone would shine a light there and reveal things to us from a different perspective, maybe we could make genuine improvements to our writing. That’s what I endeavor to do for writers in this workshop. I also confess, this workshop is a lot of work both for me and for those who participate because we roll up our sleeves and dig in. I like to both encourage and challenge my students. It is a thrill for me to watch writers improve.

Here is a short excerpt from one of the lessons of Take Your Writing to the Next Level.

Openings – Your First Page

Your first page is so important because usually it is the first thing your reader sees, whether your reader is an editor/agent or someone who buys your book off a store shelf. If you’ve submitted a partial, a lot of editors/agents will save the synopsis for later and read page one of your manuscript first.

You will see openings sometimes which are nothing more than long paragraphs of setting description. I don't know about you, but when I open a romance novel, I'm looking for characters I can connect with and fall in love with. If I wanted tons of description of a setting, I'd open a travel book instead. Don’t settle for an average, mediocre opening. Why not make it an incredible opening? Why make the editor wait for the good, interesting parts? Depending on the patience of the editor/agent you've submitted to, you have from one to five pages to capture her interest. After that, who knows? Will she give you the benefit of the doubt and read another couple pages or start writing that rejection letter? Don’t let this happen. You’re completely in control of how your manuscript starts.

Your first page will tell the reader a huge amount about your story: your voice, who the characters are and whether they’re likable, the beginning hints of your plot and the situation the character finds himself or herself in. The opening will likely need pieces of setting and maybe drops of backstory. Your first page needs to act as a hook to the reader. Once they are hooked, they’ll want to read page two, page three, and so on.

You can’t start your story out boring and say, “But it gets good at page 10. Or chapter 2.” That’s too late. Your story must be interesting and grab the reader from the first line of the first paragraph of the first page. And this grabbing the reader must continue throughout the book.

Page one of a novel or novella is similar to a juggling act. You have all these balls (story elements) and you must get them into the air with agile, dexterous skill. It must look effortless and you must entertain the reader.

More about my workshop:

Workshop: Take Your Writing to the Next Level

Instructor: Nicole North

Date: January 4 - 31, 2010

Fee: $25

Make positive improvements to your writing that will help you meet your goals in the New Year! Do contest judges, editors and agents point out problems in your work that you don't understand? Don't know what's holding you back or how to fix the problems? This workshop is designed to teach you how to analyze your own work more objectively and gain valuable insights into how to make genuine improvements to your writing. Pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses and learn what to do about both. This is an interactive workshop which consists of lessons, examples and exercises. You will receive feedback and critiques from the instructor. This workshop is for beginning to intermediate romance writers.

Topics include:

Showing vs. Telling: what's the difference?

Avoid bland, passive writing

What's necessary and what isn't?

Don't bore the reader.

Avoid cliché writing.

What is deep pov?

Active verbs

Word choice

Sentence flow

How to deal with backstory

Writing effective description Setting

Your first page

Avoid wordiness and repetitiveness


Writing guidelines and tips

Turning narrative into dialogue and action

This is an online workshop conducted via private email group.

To Register, click Take Your Writing to the Next Level. Or visit my website and click on Workshops on the menu. You can also read past student testimonials there and see what others have learned in my workshops.
So, what are your goals for 2010? Did you reach some or all of your goals for 2009? If you could take your writing to the next level, what would you want to improve or learn? Have you recently had a writing epiphany where you said, oh, I get it now?



Looking Back at 2009

So in this last week of the old year, I find myself, as always, looking back on the 12 months. I try to be honest with myself and see if I accomplished what I'd hoped to with 365 days of my life. Like always, I find that I probably didn't always make the best use of my time. I should have written more. I should have exercised more. I should have eaten better. Should have been more patient. Should have been a better person.

Yeah, all those "should haves" can really weigh you down.

But then I remind myself of the good things that happened in the past year. The great, unexpected things. Bound by Design was chosen as one of three novellas to be included in Samhain's Binding Ties anthology.

Chains of Desire was released as a download by Ellora's Cave in May and came out in print in September.

My Sapphire jewel novella, Lia's Warrior came out in an Ellora's Cave anthology, Sapphire Sizzle. (And I just found out we received 4 Stars from Romantic Times - the review will be included in the February issue of RT Book Reviews.)

The Ride of Her Life won the New England Reader's Choice Award for best short contemporary in 2009.

Sunrise (included in Jewels of the Nile II)won the Passionate Plume for best erotic novella this year as well.

And the cover for The Better to Eat You With won the weekly Cover Clash at Embrace the Shadows.

I've been blessed with a lot of great reviews, including this new one at Fresh Fiction for Dark Angel which was released by Red Sage last January.

I made a lot of new friends this year in the writing community. I've done my best to keep in contact with old friends too. And the notes I've received from readers always make my day, letting me know I must be doing something right. While I rarely find the time to update them, I'm now on Facebook and Twitter, as well as MySpace.

And since The Better To Eat You With won a weekly Cover Clash, it is up for the 2009 Ultimate Clash at Embrace the Shadows. There are only a few days left to vote, so if you haven't already done so, I'd love your vote. The artist, Kanaxa, did an awesome job on this cover and will win an award as well if we win. You can check it out here.

So now, as I look back, I see that 2009 wasn't so bad after all. I'll just have to work on the exercise and eating better and having more patience...

So how was your 2009???


Merry Christmas from Fierce Romance!

Merry Christmas from Fierce Romance!

As you're enjoying a little time by our fire, here's a few wishes from some of our Fierce Romance authors:

From Kristin Daniels:

May today bring you joy with family and friends and may the New Year be filled with happiness and dreams come true.

From Natasha Moore:

Wishes going out from Natasha Moore to all the Fierce Romance authors and readers and their families for a wonderful holiday season. Looking forward to everything 2010 has in store for us - including more handsome hunks and emotional stories for us to enjoy.

From Carol Ericson:

The light of the Christmas star to you
The warmth of home and hearth to you
The cheer and good will of friends to you
The hope of a childlike heart to you
The joy of a thousand angels to you
The love of the Son and God's peace to you.

From Terry Spear:

Enjoy your family and friends at this special time of year and have a very Merry Christmas!!

From Cameo Brown:

May the new year bring you that one special read that, in your darkest hour, gets you through. In your time of need, when you really need something to make the world seem okay, may you find the book you need. That's what we're here for. Happy Holidays!

From Carly Carlson:

To all of us who blog at Fierce Romance, and to all of our wonderful readers:

I wish each of you a Merry Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year. Most of all, I hope you find your feet on the path leading to your own personal happiness.

And from all of us at Fierce Romance:

Happy Holidays and best wishes for the New Year!