2011: My Year in Review

2011 was huge.

I finished my novel THE PARIS GAME, all 82,000 words of it. (Still submitting it, but hopefully someone will bite in the new year!)

I joined the Calgary chapter of RWA in March after meeting some of the members at a library Writers’ Weekend in February. This group has been essential in my writing development. Plus, they’re all awesome people and tons of fun to hang out with. The monthly meetings are great, and the workshops this year have been fantastic. Mary Buckham taught at our spring workshop, and super-agent Deidre Knight, and HQN editor Emily Ohanjanians spoke at the fall workshop.

I met Julian Sands. I don’t make a habit of meeting actors and others I admire. I always worry that they’ll be jerks and I’ll be totally turned off their work from then on, but Julian was sweet. I still look at the photo and grin.

I went to RWA Nationals in NYC. Talk about overwhelming! So many writers, so many workshops, and so much fun. I met my longtime online friend Tiffany Reisz, and got to know lots of others from Twitter. I pitched for the first time. I met Maggie Shayne, and Eileen Dreyer, and heard Diana Gabaldon speak.

I became part of a group of authors, forming the Bandit Creek Books project. Best of all, my novella PROHIBITED PASSION comes out on January 15th, 2012!

I don’t tend to make resolutions, but in the new year, I hope to sell THE PARIS GAME, finish another novel, write a couple of novellas, and improve my writing (as always).

A Boxing Day Treat: An Excerpt from PROHIBITED PASSION

Bandit Creek, Montana
August 1929

Chapter One

Ruth thought her father looked ridiculous, his eyes closed and his hands raised to the heavens. His thinning hair had already gone grey and it fell untidily over his ears. A growing paunch strained the fabric of his clericals. She knew she would have to make him new ones. Just another task she couldn’t escape from.

Escape. She thought of little else. She wanted to leave Bandit Creek behind, but today, she’d satisfy herself by leaving the service. While the congregation followed her father’s lead, she rose silently from the end of the pew and crept from the church.

She had an excuse or two all ready if he asked her over dinner why she’d left the church.

I needed some air. I felt ill.

Not that he’d ask. As long as she had dinner on the table when he wanted it, kept the house in order and washed his clothes, her presence went mostly unnoticed. If she had been a boy, he would have taken her under his wing and taught her to follow in his footsteps. His sycophants hoped she might choose one of them to marry, and thus receive his blessing and the church’s leadership after he was gone. She disappointed them all. The thought of any of those young men – or any man – left her cold. She never understood how the other girls fawned over the attention from boys. She couldn’t feel an ounce of attraction to any of them, even if she tried to convince herself.

Ruth turned at the corner and strolled down to the small rail station, slowing her steps in the hopes of seeing strangers on the platform, hoping for a glimpse of the world outside. The platform was barren and the ticket office shuttered. She continued on to Main Street, where most businesses were closed for the Lord’s Day. She scuffed her toes in the dust as she crossed over in front of the hotel, the only building showing any signs of life.

If only she could go inside, just for a while. If she had money, she could order lemonade and sit at one of the tables in the tiny restaurant, pretending to be a lady on an exciting trip, waiting for her maid to finish packing. She never pictured herself with a husband or a chaperone; she wanted to experience the world on her own.

The lace curtains fluttered in the open window and Ruth lingered outside, carefully peering into the restaurant without seeming to peep. A woman sat alone at a table, a glass and a dirty plate in front of her. A napkin lay crumpled by her elbow and she absently turned her tea cup in its saucer. She seemed lost in thought.

Ruth stared. The woman had her dark hair cut into a stylish bob, with marcelled finger waves, and she wore a dress that left her arms bare to the shoulder and gave little shape to her form. Ruth fingered the end of her long, ginger braid and looked down at her homely and serviceable dress. The women of town would shun her if she dared wear a flapper’s dress or cut her hair, but she couldn’t help her attraction for the delicate and gorgeous woman. Her mouth had gone dry. A tremor went through her. From here, the woman’s skin looked pale and soft and Ruth wanted to touch her hand or run a finger down her bare arm.
Continue reading

Music: Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross – Girl With the Dragon Tattoo soundtrack

I already couldn’t wait to see this movie, and with the soundtrack by TR and AR, I’m even more impatient for release day…

The soundtrack is available for pre-order from the Null Corporation in various formats, and there’s a 6-track sampler available here.

(Also, did I mention that Daniel Craig, Christopher Plummer AND Julian Sands are in this film?….)

The Unabashed Francophile Post, Part 12: My Trip to Paris (4)

Screenshot from Largo Winch

After three busy days I spent the fourth resting. I caught up on some reading (the novel ‘The Outsider’ by Camus) and watched episodes of the television series Largo Winch on M6. In 2003, the second series of the show was just going to air, and I’d already become a fan through seeing the first series on Canadian TV. It was a change seeing the program dubbed into French. (And also strange, as the BD – bande dessinées – was originally published in French in Europe, and is quite popular, yet the TV series was filmed mostly in Canada and in English.)

(taken from Wikipedia)

The fifth day, I went to La Défense, a large business district. My mother and I met my father for lunch and sat on the steps of the Grande Arche.

Part of what I find fascinating about Paris is that the Grande Arche is in line with the Arc de Triomphe, the Champs Élysées, the Place de la Concorde (with its Egyptian obelisk), and the Louvre in what is called the ‘Axe historique‘. How incredible is it that the layout of the city was partly planned around monuments? (If only they did that here…)

After lunch, I met up with another fan of the show Largo Winch, who went by the online handle of ‘Eska’. She had been to the set when the show had filmed in France, and she had lots of goodies to share. It was great to spend some time with another fan. Afterwards I took the RER back to the Charles-de-Gaulle/Etoile station (located under the Arc de Triomphe) and came back to the apartment.

For dinner, we headed to a world-famous jazz club, Le Bilboquet. I’ve already written about my experiences at Le Bilboquet, but I will say that it was my favourite night out. The wait staff were incredibly friendly, the food was excellent, and of course the music was top-notch. I wish I’d been able to spend more time there, but it wasn’t a cheap night out. I note in my journal that our meal was over €300. I had espadon (which I didn’t realize was another word for swordfish – I feel slightly embarrassed that I didn’t know) with potato, my mother had the Chateaubriand, and my father had duck. (I’ve since become quite fond of eating duck,  but at that point it seemed strange.) We stayed till past midnight listening to the music and sitting on the terrace outside, enjoying the warm night.

Quick Links, December 12 2011

Some of what I’ve read this week past:

Do you have any sites or blogs you’d recommend?

A new book!

I get excited over books. A new book by a favourite author? I’m dancing in the aisles of the bookstore (or tapping my fingers eagerly on the keys). So today, when the book has come in the mail (thank you Book Depository!), I can’t wait to get started.

What’s the book? Why, the latest in the Simone de Beauvoir series from the University of Illinois…

I have all the other books in this series (so far), and I can hardly wait to crack this one open!

From the U of Illinois site:

“The Useless Mouths” and Other Literary Writings brings to English-language readers literary writings–several previously unknown–by Simone de Beauvoir. Culled from sources including various American university collections, the works span decades of Beauvoir’s career. Ranging from dramatic works and literary theory to radio broadcasts, they collectively reveal fresh insights into Beauvoir’s writing process, personal life, and the honing of her philosophy.

I’m especially looking forward to reading the radio broadcasts and some of the dramatic works. If I don’t finish it by Christmas, I know exactly what I’ll be doing with my days off…

By the way, if you’re looking for a bit of an introduction to some of Simone de Beauvoir’s work, pick up one of the earlier works from the Beauvoir series, entitled ‘Philosophical Writings.’ It has quite a few of her scholarly essays. If you’re more of a memoir type, snag her ‘Wartime Diary’ or her ‘Diary of a Philosophy Student, Vol 1′. (And if fiction is your thing, ‘The Mandarins’ or ‘She Came to Stay’ are worth every penny.)

Guest Post: There’s Something About a Mask, by Anya Winter

When I read The Mask, I had to have Anya Winter come on to the blog for a chat. Her erotic romances are full of sensuality… and food! Especially chocolate. I love them for their hot storylines and for their recipes.

Leave a comment and one lucky person will snag a free copy of The Mask!

There’s something about a mask that captures the imagination.

Think about it. When you wear a mask, you become someone new. Usually, it’s that person deep down inside that you’ve always wanted to be that comes out. Or maybe its a new persona you want to test. Maybe there’s a secret longing or a hidden desire that needs a mask?

There’s something so sinfully delicious about wearing a mask. The thought excites me. The possibilities are endless about who I can become, or rather – what aspects of ‘me’ can come out. There’s a false sense of security, anonymity when you wear a mask. Which can also be its downfall.

That’s what happens to my characters in book 2 of the Masquerade Series. Eve Manor is a pastry chef with hidden passions. She thinks the anonymity behind her mask has kept her safe while trying to combine her passion for food with her more ‘inner’ passions. But fortunately, Christian Grier sees past the facade and falls in love. Except, he’s wearing a mask as well and the consequences are a tad bit higher if his secret gets out. As the editor-in-chief of a foodie magazine, it wouldn’t be favorable if work go out that he was also part owner of a ‘fetish’ club.

I enjoyed exploring the aspect of wearing a facade and how the protection we seek isn’t always there. The reality is – the mask only does one thing – shows our true character. It’s how we embrace those aspects of ourselves that really matter.

You can find out more about Eve and Christian and The Mask here.

I would love to know your thoughts on wearing masks. Visit me at www.anyawinter.com and share your thoughts. I’ll be giving away a mask made in Venice – the one that I used as my inspiration for this story.