Tuesday, 26 February 2008

My First ARC!

Today I looked in my mailbox found a cardboard package bearing the return address of Random House. My pen name was emblazoned across the address label.

What? Who? I opened it and to my delight I found an ARC(Advanced Reader's Edition) of Souvenir by Therese Fowler. I remember this book from my travels across the blog world, and I know I requested it on a list a few months ago. I didn't think I'd actually receive one, so the package today was a nice surprise.

Therese is a friend of a few of my blogging buddies. This is her debut novel, and it seems it's attracting a lot of attention already. Today is the official release date.

I scanned the first few pages and I'm hooked already. Excuse me while I read...

I am no longer an ARC virgin!

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Hook, Line and Sinker

I drove my son to the mall today to pick up a PC game. He'd been playing the beta version of World in Conflict for a while, and in his enthusiasm for anything related to the Cold War, he NEEDED this game. In the car, he drew the box out of the bag and marvelled at the genuine piece of the Berlin Wall. (I don't think it's real, but hey, let a kid dream). He began to read aloud the blurb on the package.

"On November 9, 1989, the cold war was supposed to end. It didn't."

I said, "That's the hook."

He read on: "The landmarks, cities and heartland of America are now the battlefields of World War III. Lead the heroic effort to turn back the Soviet invasion and reclaim the homeland – one neighborhood at a time."

I figured that was the cover blurb.

Then he told me the heading at the top: THE WAR IS COMING HOME. I suppose that's the catch phrase that appears on the front cover.

Not only can we troll the bookstore shelves for ideas on cover blurbs, but we can also pop into video game stores or scan our kids' shelves! What a great world we live in, despite the possibility of World War III, of course.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A Tim Hortons Story That Won't Make the Commercials

In spite of the dismal state of Leaf Nation, I'm still in a hockey mood. Maybe it's because my other favourite team, the Habs (Montreal Canadiens to you non-hockey folk) came back from a 5-0 deficit to win in a shootout. So in honour of the winter that will not end, I offer a little story about our first sojourn into the world of Peewee Hockey Tournaments (cross-post from one of my other blogs - The Writers' Vineyard).

We gathered in the blue light of pre-dawn at – you guessed it – Tim Horton's. Parents cradled mugs of coffee and consulted maps while the boys and girls gathered around a Formica table with their inevitable stash of hot chocolate and sticky doughnuts.

After everyone agreed on a route to the tournament, we ushered the kids out to the parking lot. "Everyone who has to pee, pee now. Anyone who doesn't, pee anyway."

"Who's going to follow us?" Mr. Todd was my former Grade Seven teacher, now on his second marriage. He beckoned his son toward his gigantic four-by-four with its chrome roll bars and license plate that said, "Da Bears." His taste in vehicles hadn't changed since I was the same age as his youngest son.

His boy stopped short of the open door. "Hang on a sec, Dad." He doubled over and puked on the pavement.

"Eww!" My son sidestepped the mess and climbed into our ancient Escort wagon.

"You okay?" Mr. Todd bent down and peered at his son through the dim light.

"Yeah, no problem. Let's ride!"

We drove at the tail end of the convoy – not a wise decision since we didn't have a cell phone and had no idea where we were going. We had to make sure we didn't lose sight of our guides. A thin sheen of salty, dirty water coated the roads and our wipers worked overtime.

An hour into the trip through slick secondary roads, Mark said, "Shit!"

"We're out of washer fluid."

"So we stop and refill it."

"We can't. We'll lose them." Mark squinted at the windshield. "We'd better do something quick or I'll be driving by Braille."

We tried waving at the car ahead of us, but no one seemed to notice. I unbuckled my seatbelt, climbed to the back seat and reached for the jug of windshield washer fluid. Scrambling to the front, I grabbed an empty cardboard Timmy's coffee cup. "Good thing you ordered a large double-double." I poured washer fluid into the cup and rolled down the window as we came to a stop sign. Cold air blasted inside.

As I flung the liquid at the windshield, Mark flipped on the wipers. It worked! For about thirty seconds. Every time we came to a reduced speed zone or a stop sign, we fired another cupful of fluid on the windshield.

As we pulled into Lakefield Arena, the last drops of blue gold trickled from the cardboard cup, which had become rather tattered from the hard grip of my frozen fingers.

In some bizarre way, Tim Horton's saved the day.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Valentines, Schmalentines.

Am I the only romance author who hates Valentine's Day?

Don't get me wrong. I love my husband dearly, and I'm a sucker for every chick flick out there. I read romance novels that make me laugh, cry and cause my heart to beat a little faster.

But Valentine's Day has always been, well - blech. Why must we have a special day to prove our love? I don't crave chocolate, meaningless mass-market greeting cards get tucked into the archives with all the others, and flowers start to get that funky smell after a few days, dropping dry leaves all over the credenza.

Jewellery? I lose stuff all the time. Nobody knew (until now) about the missing ring from Algeria or the silver Saudi keychain, or the pin that jumped off my coat lapel and disappeared into a snowbank, never to be seen again. My husband bought me a cute pair of garnet earrings, and one of them went AWOL for six months. I found it under a couch cushion.

I appreciate the sentiment, but diamonds are not my best friend. I'm happy with my little engagement set I received twenty-three years ago. I don't dare take the rings off, in case they fall down the kitchen sink drain, a la Lucy Ricardo.

I don't like the pressure to act romantic. It seems that I'm supposed to instantly become a sizzling siren every February 14th. I'm not. I'm just a regular gal who keeps the hair dye companies from going bankrupt. I prefer sensible cotton instead of lace, and I only wear enough makeup to extinguish the beacon that is my nose. Perfume is nice, but every time I remember to dab some on, someone at work complains that they're allergic.

In the early years, I bowed to the pressure and tried gittin' frisky by lighting candles, locking the bedroom door and wearing something ridiculously frilly. Our kids' sex radar went on high alert on Valentine's Day anyway. I'd have the creepy sense that they'd be listening at the door. Why not save that nonsense for a day they don't expect their parents to go all weird on them? "Ewww, Dad! Stop groping Mom!"

Here's my take on Valentine's Day. Order pizza, have a family chocolate fondue and watch a lighthearted comedy or a shoot 'em up adventure on the tube. That's about all I can handle these days, anyway.

E is for Excellent

Blogger Buddies Stephen Parrish and Wordtryst each offered me a Blog Excellence award for just being me! I feel like Sally Field at the Oscars - "You like me! You really like me!"

My blogging circle is small but intimate, and some of you probably already have this symbol of excellence - so I won't pressure you into passing it to ten bloggers. Just a couple is fine.

Listed below are my nominees. If you already have one; you deserve two anyway. I really enjoy your company, and welcome your comments. You all entertain me and keep me from my writing in the most lovely way:

Josephine Damian
Holly Kennedy
Chris Eldin
Smart Like Streetcar
Easy Writer
Pat Wood
E. Ann Bardawill

And now, for your viewing pleasure, Ridley IS the junk in the box:

Sunday, 10 February 2008

The Three Stupids

My three favourite fellas in the whole wide world:

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

An Uncle Bob Story

Uncle Bob lived next door but he spent most of his life on his father's farm in King County. His pride and joy was a little paint pony. He used the pony to patrol a line of skunk traps on neighbouring farm properties along Highway 9 in King County. Skunk pelts fetched a lot of dough in the 40's, I guess. Did they make coats out of them?

After he harvested the traps, he slung the carcasses over the pony's flanks and headed home.

On wet days, the pony stunk. After all, when you wear skunk, you're gonna smell like Eau de Skunk after a while. Especially when it rained. Maybe Uncle Bob noticed, but perhaps he got used to the funky odour. The pony was still pretty, even if he stunk occasionally.

One sunny (dry) day, Uncle Bob ambled along Highway Nine on his striking steed minus their usual odious cargo. He heard the crunch of tires on gravel behind him, but didn’t take notice.
A large automobile with sleek lines passed him and slowed.

Bob and his pony drew alongside, and a gentleman inquired through the open passenger window, "That's a mighty handsome mount you have there. Is it for sale?"

Bob regarded the stranger and spit tobacco into the ditch. "Nope."

A low murmur of voices drifted from the interior of the vehicle while it rolled languidly beside the ambling horse, and the man in the passenger seat said, "Mr. Elliott here will give you fifty bucks for that pony."

"No thanks. He's my only horse, and he's worth more than that to me." Uncle Bob kicked the pony into a trot.

The long, black automobile appeared beside him again. "A hundred bucks," said the passenger.
Bob simply shook his head and kept his eyes trained ahead.

The car hummed behind him for the full two miles to Bob's father's farm, and it followed them up the long dirt drive. Uncle Bob was someplace between annoyed and amazed at their persistence.

As he unsaddled the pony and prepared to lead it into the barn, the driver slid out of his car and strode up to him. He held a roll of bills and began to unravel them. He waved them around like a fan. "I'll give you two hundred dollars right now, and arrange for my groom to pick him up this afternoon."

Well, Bob was a shrewd businessman – he knew a fantastic price when he heard one, so he said, "You've got yourself a sale."

They picked up the pony within a few hours.

Two weeks later, Uncle Bob strode toward the barn and noticed the sleek black automobile heading up the driveway. The gentleman approached him, his fedora tipped over his eyes. After a few pleasantries, the man said, "Listen, Mr. Jewitt, I noticed something strange about that pinto you sold us. After the rain a couple of days ago, he started to smell a bit. In fact, he stunk to high Heaven."

"Well," said Uncle Bob, taking a pouch of chew from his pocket, "I say, I say... (Bob always talked like that) did you leave him outside at all?"

The gentleman looked at him with narrowed eyes for a moment. "Well," he drawled, "He spent a few days outside."

"Hmm." Bob tucked some chew into his cheek. "Maybe a skunk got 'im. You gotta watch them skunks; they're all over the place. One got my hound last week."

It didn't occur to the man to ask WHEN the skunk got the pinto. "I guess you're right. I should take care of those skunks."

Bob smiled and spat. "For five bucks, I can take care of those skunks for ya."

Friday, 1 February 2008

My First Review

Seven months have passed since the e-release of The Space Between. It's been three months since the print release. Until yesterday, I hadn't received a single review, even though my publisher dutifully sent copies of my book to several review sites.

Don't get me wrong; it's a nice little book and my friends and family assured me that they couldn't put it down once they started reading it. I was certain they were all just being nice.

Promotion of this particular book is difficult for me since I'm in Canada and Amazon.ca doesn't seem to have it in stock any more. Chapters doesn't even have it on their database, and because it was listed incorrectly in the catalogues, it's difficult for local independent bookstores to order it. I buy a half dozen copies at a time and sell them myself, but it's not enough. I'm doing the best I can under the circumstances and I'm grateful to all the people who bought a copy so far.

I tried to concentrate on my WIPs in order to aim for that big New York publisher, but my heart wasn't in it. To keep my mind off my lack of production, I turned to dreaming about the upcoming edits for Bad Ice, anxious to get it off the ground. But one can only dream so much. The real editing still hasn't begun.

I was ready to accept The Space Between's descent into obscurity when I received an email informing me that The Long and Short of It did a review of my book. I had submitted it a few months ago on my own. It's my first real honest to goodness impartial review from someone I don't know.

With trepidation I visited the site, braced for a lukwarm review. I was pleasantly surprised by the result!

Here's an excerpt:

The Space Between is the debut novel of Sandra Cormier, and let me say she is a wonderful addition to romance. Her mature characters are refreshing and well developed and that they can find love later in life gives us hope for the future. And Sandra does a really great job making you feel as though you are right there in that island paradise. This book was a fun, fast paced read, with just enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. I would recommend it to all readers who are looking for a sweet book with just a little bit of spice thrown in.

In spite of the average rating, she had nothing but nice things to say. The complete review is located here.

Also, the cover for The Space Between finished in the Top Ten on the Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll. Maybe the newfound attention will garner some sales.

Still kickin'.

Updated to add: Hey! I'm back in stock on Amazon.ca. Maybe they eavesdropped on my whining. Plus, the shipping is faster. Oh, happy days.