Friday, December 28, 2007

More Good (exciting) News!

Jordan asked that I spill the rest of my good news. I'm savoring. So I'm not going to spill it all at once. (Imagine me stroking a Snidely Whiplash-like moustache. Heh. So evil.)

On Christmas Eve I received an email from a friend congratulating me on the 4 1/2 star review in Romantic Times BOOKreview magazine for EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE!

Two days later, I visited the Romantic Times website and saw (It comes around in the rotation of the main left box) that Everybody Loves Evie is also a February TOP PICK!

This is a HUGE honor. One I do not take lightly. One hopes for a favorable review. This is a great review. A review that pleased my agent and editor and had me doing backflips. Well, not real backflips because I'm not that limber anymore... but you get the picture. My editor (waving to Keyren) reminded me that this is two in a row. ALL ABOUT EVIE received the same honor.

Fourteen years ago, I dreamed of writing books, of entertaining readers, but I never imagined being nominated for awards or garnering TOP PICK reviews, so please indulge my state of awe. In my eyes, my world, this is huge and I hope I never take any accolade of any manner for granted.
So... here it. The heart of the 4 1/2 star TOP PICK review for my second book in the Chameleon Chronicles series for HQN.
"The talented Ciotta's latest Evie book is one that new readers will jump into easily. Likewise, fans will be thrilled to re-enter the engaging world of this spunky, lovable heroine. After all, everybody loves a skillfully characterized, humorously narrated and undeniably well-plotted novel." ~~ 4 1/2 stars-Top Pick, Romantic Times BOOKreviews
Thank you for letting me share!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Let the Good News Roll

Last night I posted that I'd been hit by an avalanche of good news, but I didn't specify the news. I didn't mean to be a tease. I was absorbing the news and recovering from the holidays. As I also mentioned, I have resolved to stop and smell the roses, to celebrate my accomplishments in 2008 rather than go through another entire year with my head buried in work. Seriously. What good is achieving, or in my case, exceeding my dreams if I'm not going to revel in the magic.

My dream was to write entertaining tales, to have them published, and for people to read and enjoy my stories. I would have achieved my dream with one book in print. I am blessed to have several in print and more on the way. Everything else... good reviews, fan letters, awards... is a bonus. The cherry on top. I'm currently rolling in cherries. I'll share them with you over the next couple of days. The first serving is a double dip.
I just learned that both of my 2007 release--ALL ABOUT EVIE and ROMANCING THE WEST--have been nominated for.... drum roll please....

Romantic Times 2007 Reviewers' Choice Awards!

Best Book Reviewers' Choice Awards honor the best books of the year. The winners and nominees are selected by our staff of over 50 reviewers representing the readers' voice in the women's fiction industry.

All About Evie is up for Best Contemporary Romance of 2007!

Romancing the West is up for Best Small Press Book of 2007!

I adore both of these books and I am thrilled that they have both been nominated. It's especially fulfilling as one is contemporary/1st person and the other historical/3rd person. Two different animals. How flattering and exciting that both appealed to the reviewers of Romantic Times! A double honor! I still can't believe my good fortune.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Avalanche of Good News

I don't know where to begin. What to share first. I received an avalanche of good news over a two day period. I'm... overwhelmed. Plus, I had some other exciting news that I've been holding back. Everything falls into that "Is this really happening to me?" category. All related to publishing and, quite frankly, to things I don't dream of or hope for so when they happen... wow.

I'm recovering from a cold and holiday madness. Trying to get my thoughts together. One of my New Year's resolutions is to stop and smell the roses. Maybe I'll get a jump start and share one bit of good news per day. Revel in each joy thoroughly before steamrolling ahead. Yeah. That sounds good.

Stay tuned!

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Magic

I can't believe it's Christmas Eve. You wouldn't know it from the weather. At least not here in New York. I know the Midwest got pummeled with snow. But here it's sunny, dry and 45 degrees. Can you say unseasonably warm?

The last few days have been a mad rush of work, traveling, and shopping. I received edits back from one of my publishers on Saturday, so I've been attacking those in bits in between shopping and visiting with my husband's family. I'm not sure if it's the warm weather or the fact that I'm still working or the mad rush of it all, but I've yet to catch the Christmas spirit. I haven't even watched one Christmas movie yet, and I'm a Christmas movie nut. So sad.

I'd venture that the zany, wondrous feeling one associates with Christmas time is connected to being a child, or having children. But my neighbor, who's single and childless has more Christmas spirit than ten kids put together. So I'm thinking it's just me. Somehow I've lost touch with the magic of Christmas. I think I know the problem. I could write a story about it. Hmmm. Maybe, I will.

Meanwhile, this morning I'm reflecting on what that 'magic' used to feel like and it's all wrapped up in the wonder of one word. BELIEVE.

Wishing you and yours a magical holiday full of wonder and joy!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Candy and Cookies and Snacks--Oh, My!

'Tis the season and many of our loyal patrons at the library are gifting us (the staff) with candy, cookies, and assorted festive snacks--many of the offering homemade. I knew I was in trouble when my boss told me it was safer to eat three of the bakery sugar cookies as opposed to one of the homemade cookies--as the homemade concoction was all sugar and butter and chococolate and toffee and ... well, really fattening. She knew as she had asked for the recipe a few years back. Of course that didn't stop her from making her own batch. Nor did it stop me (or any of us) from eating a couple. Oh, my, God. Heaven.

Then there was the homemade chocolate fudge and the peanut butter cup tucked in a chocolate chip cookie. *drool* I'm trying to practice restraint. A nibble here and there. But, gosh, it's hard! I keep telling myself it's once a year. I don't eat sweets like that year round. Once a year or not, I'm sure I'll regret the nibbling January 2 and ten pound heavier. Time to drag out the exercise bike!

I admire women who toil over homemade sweets. I'm not gifted in the baking area. I'm missing a good many cooking genes, period.

When I was growing up, my Grandma Childers made annual Christmas goodies. Her specialty was popcorn balls and caramels. Even thinking about the taste of those caramels (a very unique taste) makes my mouth water. No doubt it was all butter and sugar and maple syrup and whatnot. You know--pure fat. But it was a delightful treat that I always treasured and that I will always remember.

What about you? Any holiday sweet memories to share?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Guest Blogging Today

I've been invited to be a guest blogger at Romance Junkies. Click here for a dose of inspiration and be sure to chime i with your own thoughts on Living Your Dream!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Riding the Train to Nowhere

I can't believe it's been a week since I blogged. Wait a minute... Yes, I can. Every day, I thought, "I should post something", but, A: I couldn't think of anything interesting to share or, B: I didn't have time. Actually, there's a C: I can't focus.

This extends to my WIP as well as my blog. Oh, and, Christmas shopping and housecleaning. So, basically, I feel like I accomplished very little over the past week. Like I'm go, go, going, but not getting anywhere.

Yesterday, a co-worker at the library mentioned her uncharacteristic inability to focus on work. She blamed the holiday season. Maybe that's my problem. Wanting to enjoy the holiday season versus making major progress in my work. Except... I haven't enjoyed or excelled at anything. I'm just unfocused. Chugging along on a train to nowhere.

Meanwhile...Tomorrow, I'm the guest blogger at the Romance Junkies Blog. Must write that post.

Today is my only day off until the upcoming weekend. Must buy a few gifts. Mary's coming for a visit Saturday. Must clean house. (Or at least the guest room!)

I can think of three writing/promotion deadlines off the top of my head that I must meet this week. Holy cow. Where has the time gone? Why am I rambling, essentially blogging my 'To Do' list instead of attending it?

Must. Focus.

If you don't hear from me for another few days. You'll know why. If anyone else is feeling 'unfocused', please do share. I'd feel a lot better knowing I'm not the only one.

Quote for the day...

"The shorter way to do many things is to do only one thing at a time." ~~Mozart

Sunday, December 9, 2007

And Now For Something Really Special...

It's been a busy week. Work, writing, and various promo projects monopolized my time. But it's all good! Unfortunately, we've hit a glitch uploading the 'flash' (amazing looking) book promo video for EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE (created by artistic tech wizards, Ray Adler and Andy Schlee) onto my website. Target date for the official launch is now next week. However, until then I can post a Yahoo version. Be sure to turn up your sound as this promo vid features a voiceover. Yes, it's me as Evie. Surely you're not surprised.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Snow and Buzz

After a couple of months of freakishly warm weather, winter arrived last night here in New Jersey. This morning we have an inch or two of snow and last I looked the temp was 18 degrees. Brrr. But it sure is pretty.

Last night I also received the final edit of the book video promo created for EVERYBODY LOVES EVIE (coming 2/08 from HQN) by Andy Schlee and Ray Adler (Media Creative Group). These two media and tech wizards came up with something really unique. I'm thrilled with the result and will let you know as soon as it's 'live'.

Ack! Look at the time. I'm off for a day at the library and then a night of writing. Although I enjoy the beauty of snow and ice, can't say I'm looking forward to navagating the roads. I'm not the best of drivers in ideal weather, so you can imagine. What about you? Are you intimidated by snow and ice or are you a gifted all-weather driver?

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Day Off and a Fresh Start

After months of juggling the writing gig, library gig, and once-in-a-blue-moon entertainment gig, yesterday I took an honest to gosh day off. I actually drove off of this tiny island I call home and on to the mainland. There's a whole world out there!

I started by visiting a dear friend who was recently the victim of a freak accident. Actually two of my dearest friends suffered freak accidents in the same week. Fortunately, both will be okay. My one friend lives across the US, making a day visit impossible, but she's in my thoughts like crazy. The other lives a couple of towns over. I took Christmas cookies. She made the coffee. The visit wasn't near long enough, yet it did wonders for my soul. Nothing tops time with friends and family. Life is too short, folks. Always make time for those you love.

After a teary goodbye, I ran some errands then did some shopping. I must admit I made the shopping trip all about me. I've had birthday money burning a hole in my pocket for two months. Two pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans, two funky cardigan sweaters and four t-shirts later, I drove home and cleaned house. Not only that, I rearranged the living room and put up just enough Christmas decorations to give us the holiday spirit. After that I did a little Chistmas shopping on-line and decided that's the way to go this year since I probably won't get another free day in December. But boy did I make the most out of yesterday!

On the work front, as of today I'm working full force on the third book in the HQN series featuring 'Evie'. The deadline's creeping up, so if I'm a little scarce...

Tripped upon author Cherry Adair's website. Um. WOW. Check it out. Impressive, no?
Speaking of cool things, I have something in the works that I hope to share in a couple of days. So be sure to hop back for a visit.

Quote of the day (week).

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining . . . researching . . . talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. -- E. L. Doctorow

Errr. Guess I should get to it.