#amreading16 Summer Reading Challenge (with prizes!)

Featured

Summer Reading ChallengeWe’re opening the Summer Reading Scavenger Hunt with the announcement of the categories. The graphic to the left is the “official” version of the list. I’ll try to keep this posted regularly, so you can see what the categories are. Here’s how to play.

You can participate via the Becca Nation Facebook group (or the R.L. Syme / Becca Boyd Facebook page), you can use the Twitter hashtag #amreading16. You can join via email, or in the comments of the #amreading16 posts on this blog (rlsyme.com).

Prizes are: a $100 gift card, an assorted paperback book package, and a full set of Becca Boyd’s Line of Fire paperbacks. Each of these prizes will be awarded to a different person.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Read at least one book from as many categories as you can between May 1st and August 31st, 2016.
  2. Tag Becca on Twitter (@beck_a_tron) or use the #amreading16 hashtag, send us an email with a link to your Goodreads review of the book, or post in the Becca Nation Facebook group with the title of the book and the category it fulfills.

Here’s how to win:

  1. A $100 gift card will be awarded to one random participant (every entry counts)
  2. A giant paperback book package will be awarded either to the person who reads the most categories, or to a randomly selected winner among the people with the most categories read.
  3. If you read seventeen books, and have fulfilled all seventeen categories between May 1st and August 31st, and notify us as you read each book, you will automatically win a full set of Becca Boyd’s Line of Fire paperbacks.

We reserve the right to add more prizes as the summer goes on. You can participate live with us on Twitter or on Facebook, or email me your books (assistant at rlsyme dot com) and categories and Goodreads links as you read them! Can’t wait to see what everyone is reading!

CATEGORIES:

  • a book released before I was born
  • a book with a number in the title
  • a novel by a woman of color
  • a biography or memoir
  • a novel set in my state
  • a book about spies
  • a foodie book
  • a nonfiction book
  • any genre fiction book
  • a librarian’s choice book
  • a Newberry award winner
  • a book that was also a movie
  • a book by or about a Veteran
  • a book on the @BailysPrize list
  • a book with a disabled main character
  • a novel I have started an not finished
  • a novel from someone else’s “Must-Read” list

Happy reading!


Making the Series Bible

After listening to Jaci Burton and Jill Shalvis’ workshop from #RWA16 about making a series Bible, I’ve decided to try the “analog” version of a Series Bible, myself. So I started with the character sheets, and I’m going to do a little bit more on new layouts every time I get some free time.

FullSizeRender 3I’ve got the version of the character sheets that I think I want. The one thing I think I might try to add is a specific place to focus on their Flaw. But otherwise, I feel like I have everything I need, so far, on this page.

I’m using a couple of different systems for character development. One is the Deb Dixon GMC piece, the Outer Journey. (Goal, Motivation, Conflict) The other is Michael Hauge’s six-part character development system that he’s been working on, for the Inner Journey. (Sounds like he might be writing a new book–he did the workshop at RWA16, and it was fantastic.) That’s the Longing, Wound, Belief, etc. And that informs some of the rest of the character development.

Then, of course, the vital statistics (which I condensed down from a few different longer lists–and these might change, depending on the genre/character). I also use the Hero/Heroine Archetype system, so there’s a box for that and the traits. And then, I have a personality section. Myers-Briggs, DISC, Color System, and Strengthsfinder. This is something that probably not everyone will need. Because of my background using psychometrics, I’m really familiar with these things and it’s a short-hand for values and actions. It’s like knowing the core of a person. That helps me. But not everyone would need those things.

Then, there’s a backstory section because I’ve found that breaking down their backstory into 5-year increments really helps me to get to know them fully. This will force me to condense them down into highlights, which was the whole point in the first place.

Right now, I’m using a Moleskine notebook, which also houses my BuJo spreads, for right now. But I’m not totally sure how that’s going to work for the long term. Right now, I’m just getting the spreads the way I want them. I haven’t actually started filling them out.

Next, I think I’ll start doing chapter outlines for each book. Maybe this can replace my Scapple planning. Or enhance it. We shall see. But for right now, I’m definitely enjoying using the BuJo as a way to think about the Series Bible. I like that the layouts can be changed and amended, and there’s nothing set in stone until I put it there. I like that I can use the pretty colored pens (even though I’m not drawing anything, really) to make it interesting. And I really like the idea of having one series bible for each series. I think that would be really nice.

Plus, I can slip them in and out of my Traveler’s Notebook.

So. Who knew! Who knew I would be that person who does analog series bibles. 🙂 In a BuJo notebook, even. 🙂 I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes from here, and how it works. I’ll keep posting about the layouts I develop, just in case they will help anyone else.


The Seventh Son: Latest From Bestselling Author Ashley York

This week’s edition of Medieval Monday features bestselling author Ashley York. Ashley writes historical romance full of passion and intrigue set in 11th and 12th century Ireland, Scotland, and England “where life was wild and survival was never guaranteed.” She also has a Facebook page if you’d like to get better acquainted as well: https://www.facebook.com/ashley1066york/.

Seventh Son YorkAshley just released the newest book in her Norman Conquest series called The Seventh Son. Here’s a peek at the story:

Drogheda, Ireland 1076

 

The sixth son bears a curse as certain as the seventh son bears a blessing. When Tadhg MacNaughton’s betrothed is ripped from his arms and married to another, he believes the legend is true.

 

Tisa O’Brien’s life slams into a downward spiral at the news she is no longer betrothed to the love of her life but married to the tanist of a warring, prideful clan with dangerous political aspirations—the Meic Lochlainn. She faces her destiny with all the strength and dignity of her Irish heritage despite dealing with a husband who resents her, fighting off the lustful advances of her father-in-law, Aodh, and longing for the husband of her heart.

 

Tadhg MacNaughton makes a deal with the devil to ensure the survival of his clan as he is commanded to fight with Aodh who envisions himself the new Brian Boru, High King of Eire. Up close and personal, Tadhg must witness his true love’s marriage and remain silent even as it rips him apart. When a sinister plot to over throw King William of England led by the exiled Leofrid Godwin and Clan Meic Lochlainn comes to light, Tadhg is faced with saving his clan or endangering his sister and her Norman husband.

 

An Irish beauty and a warrior betrayed—doomed in love from the start or does fate have something else in store for them?

You can read an excerpt from her newest book below, but be sure and grab a copy on Amazon by clicking here.

Excerpt:

“Tisa. Yer betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed. Ye’ll marry into the Meic Lochlainn clan of Inishowen. They’ll be here in two days time.”

The pain in her chest intensified with every word he spoke, like nails hammering into her heart, but her brain refused to understand his meaning beyond his first statement.

Your betrothal to the MacNaughton has been severed.

Her betrothal to Tadhg? They’d been betrothed forever. They grew up knowing they would one day be wed. Tadhg was all she wanted in a husband.

Her father’s eyes never wavered from her face. Surely he measured her reaction as if he cared.

“Ronan came here to make the agreement on their behalf. He has been a great help to our clan.”

The kind eyes seemed familiar but no. Those would have been the eyes of her father that loved her. A father that wanted her to be happy. A father that wanted her settled nearby. This? This was a man that cared nothing for her. A man that would rip away her future dreams of happiness. A man that would send her away from him. A man that would give her to strangers. Strangers that saw her as nothing more than…breeding stock.

No. She was more than that. She would not stand here and be handed off to a stranger and not even a word of protest.

“Why?” Damn her eyes. The tears swelled and her father became a blurry figure. “How?”

He looked away. “The MacNaughton broke our agreement.”

Her jaw dropped. A slap to the face would have hurt less. “No!”

“After Moira died, Padraig sent word he would not see his son married to an O’Brien.”

“And ye did not think to tell me this?”

Her head reeled with the implications.

“And Moira? Tadhg’s mother is dead?” Her breath hitched. Moira had been like a mother to her. “When was she buried? I wish to pay my resp—”

“Ye will not! Padraig would not allow us to come. None of us.” Her father finally faced her. “We are no longer welcome on his land. He wants nothing to do with us.”

“Nothing to do with us? They are our kinsmen.”

“No longer.”

“Ye canna just let him cut us off like this.”

“I was given little choice in the matter.”

“Then go to him! Beg his forgiveness for whatever you have done!”

“I have done nothing wrong! ‘Twas Padraig’s doing. He chose to give me no reason. I will abide by his decree.”

Tisa’s mind struggled to make sense of what her father was saying. There must be something he was not saying. “Why would Padraig treat us like this?”

He looked past her. “It matters not. What does matter is that the O’Neill threatens us to the west.”

“When will Seamus and Ian return?” Her only unwed brothers had been away going on two years now.

Her father’s eyes rounded in pain. “I dinna wish to upset ye but yer brothers will not be returning. They died in battle against the O’Neill.”

Tisa cried out. “When?”

“We received the news spring last.”

“Again ye decide to keep this from me? Do ye think I am a child? If that is the way of it, ’tis because my own father kept me from the truths in life, shielding me as if I would break.”

“Ye brothers went against my wishes. My anger was at them, not ye.”

“Be angry then. Be sad. Be devastated! But dunna keep me from the truth.”

“A great loss.” Her father closed his eyes against the pain.

Her own heart cried out. They were much older than her as were her sisters. The MacNaughton’s were closer in age and felt more like family. Brighit was like her own little sister.

“I must make decisions that ye may not wish to abide by—but ye will. The O’Neill will not back down. We need an alliance with a strong clan. I need men I can count on, who will fight with me against them.”

“The MacNau—”

“They will not fight for us now. ‘Tis not their land that is threatened.” He shouted the words, his nostrils flaring. “They have broken our agreement, daughter. We are defenseless. Ronan was good enough to make a new alliance for us.”

“At what cost to us?” Tisa knew the answer as soon as she asked the question. The way Ronan had looked at her, assessing her worth as a mate.

“You will marry their tanist.”

“So I am to be exchanged for the promise of protection?”

“Ye will have a place of prominence in their clan.”

“I do not care about prominence! I want the life I had always been promised. The life I was raised for.”

“That life is gone, Tisa. This is the life ye will have.”

“I do not accept this…betrayal.”

“Ye have no choice.”


#ListifyLife Words I Always Spell Wrong

SONY DSCIt’s that time again… #ListifyLife time. This week, we’re talking about words we always spell wrong. I had to go to the spell-check to make sure they were right this time… 🙂

  1. Exercise (Excercise)
  2. Ceiling (Cieling)
  3. Carabiner (Caribeener)
  4. Playwright (Playwrite)
  5. Calendar (Calander)
  6. Independence (Independance)
  7. Camaraderie (Cameraderie)

UGH. Just writing those words out gives me hives. I have inherited that “must be right at all times” gene from… well, somewhere… and I don’t even spell things wrong in my notes to myself. I hate mis-spelling. But for some reason, I just can’t figure out how to remember these seven words.

What about you? Do you have words that you consistently spell wrong?


Highway To Health: #deathtosugar

HealthMy name is Becca and I am addicted to sugar.

#hiBecca

I was listening to an interview with JJ Reddick this morning on sports radio and the hosts of the show were razzing him a little about how controlled and meticulous he is. He said something that made me stop and think hard about my life. He basically said, “I control every one of my choices. If there’s something that’s not going to aid in me being a better basketball player, I’m not going to do it.”

Food is fuel, he said.

Deep down inside, every one of us knows that food is fuel, of course. We understand the basic concept. But for many of us, food is more than fuel. Somewhere along the line, some wires got crossed in our head, and food became primarily about comfort or love or pleasure, instead of just fuel.

I have long known the dangers of over-consumption of white sugar, and I did do Whole30 last year (during which time there were several near-misses in the homicide department), but I went back to sugar after the 30 days was up.

You see, for me, sugar is about more than just good tasting food. Sugar is comfort. Sweets, specifically, are comfort. I have some wiring crossed in my brain somewhere, because when I was a kid, I learned that food was the best way to seek comfort. I’ve known this about myself for a long time. I went through a couple of years of therapy trying to unravel and re-program all those wires in my brain. I learned how to be gentle with myself, because that’s what I had learned about life as a kid.

But it’s time to start saying no. On some level, that gentleness is leading me back down the sugar path over and over again, and I need to learn some new habits.

So my friend Krystal and I are going to be doing a #deathtosugar challenge. We’re committing to two things:

  • Walk 20 minutes a day
  • Don’t eat refined sugars

Baby steps. What I don’t want is to make some giant, huge, over-arching commitment that I’m not going to be able to keep. I can tackle other health issues later. But for right now, I need to get moving and I need to get off sugar. So this is my commitment.

Krystal and I are going to report to each other every day. We’re going to tweet and blog our way through this. I know I’m going to HULK-OUT and be short-tempered, because I’ve done a sugar fast before, and I know I’m addicted. But I’ve got to do this.

I am going to walk every day. I am going to cut out refined sugars. I’m going to learn how to live a healthier life, and apply the things I know to be true.

I’m choosing the Highway to Health.

This is my first exit…. will you take it with me?


#amreading16 Summer Reading Scavenger Hunt

Stephen King is famous for telling writers to read more. As I was flipping through my rapidly growing TBR pile, I realized just how little I read now, compared to how much I used to read. Not only that, but I’m always reading the same things. So I’m going to challenge myself this year to a Summer Reading Challenge. I’m going to start on May 1st and go through the end of August.

But I’m not just going to read things I already know I want to read. This year, I really want to challenge myself. I want to read books that I might not have “run across” without going and looking for them. So this is going to be my summer reading Scavenger Hunt.

If you would like to participate with me, I will be issuing a challenge next week. If you meet that challenge, you will be entered to win our Summer Reading Scavenger Hunt giveaway.

What about you? What kinds of books do you want to challenge yourself to read?


Medieval Monday: Meet The Gods of the Highlands Series

SironaIt’s Monday again and time to showcase the books of authors who write in the wonderful world of Medieval romance. This week I’d like to introduce you to Bambi Lynn and her intriguing series of historical romance books with a twist of paranormal. This second book in her Gods of the Highlands series is called Sirona, and it features a heroine with unholy healing powers and a tortured hero.  Here’s a peek at the story:

Sirona Cleary tries to hide her unholy healing powers from everyone around her, denying her divine heritage even as she saves those who would see her punished. When she is kidnapped by a rival clan, she is sure her execution is near. Rhain Comyn is dying from a mysterious disease, and he couldn’t be more glad of it. After the atrocities he has committed, Rhain believes he has no right to a decent life and welcomes the ailment that leaves him with unquenchable thirst and hunger, extreme fatigue, blurred vision and ultimately drives him into a deep slumber from which no healer can awaken him. Can a witch from the clan of his enemy save him?

You can find out more about Bambi’s books on here Amazon author page here. Grab a copy of Sirona and step in the mystical world of the Gods of the Highlands series today:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Sirona-Gods-Highlands-Novella-Book-ebook/dp/B0113S6RA4/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sirona-Gods-Highlands-Novella-Book-ebook/dp/B0113S6RA4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1455037893&sr=8-2&keywords=bambi+lynn

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/sirona/id1076588155?mt=11

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sirona-bambi-lynn/1123276720?ean=2940152815764

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/sirona-1

Happy reading!

 

 


Little Things That Make Me Happy #ListifyLife

IMG_5785It’s that time again… ListifyLife time. This week, we’re talking about the little things. There are a lot of little things that make me happy. Here are a few of mine. What are yours?

  1. Open spaces
  2. Whole leaf white tea, properly brewed
  3. My Plum Paper Planner
  4. Word Count stickers
  5. Watching old movies with my family
  6. Perfectly baked bread
  7. A really good sandwich
  8. The Montana night sky

Medieval Monday: The Druid Knight Tales

It’s Medieval Monday again and time to meet another fabulous author, Ruth Casie. This collection of short stories is a wonderful blend of romance, fantasy and time travel—and you can get it free right now for a limited time.

Here’s a peek at the story: 

druid knight talesAfter a year of searching, Maximilian, the druid Grand Master, finds the sacred mistletoe destined for his soul mate shriveled and dead. He must journey to the Otherworld and tell the Ancestors of his failure.

Ellyn of Brodgar is an exceptional healer. But each healing kiss depletes her energy and brings her closer to death. Ellyn needs to find her own healing power before it’s too late.

Max and Ellyn are tossed into the Otherworld and have until the third sunset to appeal to the Ancestors or be lost forever. Together they find love, and as the last rays of the third sunset slip away, both are willing to sacrifice their hopes, dreams, and lives for the other. Do they have what it takes to escape the Otherworld and begin their life together?

Amazon: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTales

BN: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTalesBN

iBook: http://bit.ly/DruidKnightTalesiBook

KOBO: http://bit.ly/KOBO_DruidKnightTales

Here’s an excerpt from the collection:

He stood by the stone altar. The mist thickened in deep pools and drifted to the bottom of the great sarsen stones. Churning like a phantom stew, fingers of mist crept up the stones, leaving a shimmering outline in its wake. The silhouette thickened, revealing the hooded forms of the Ancestors.

“Grand Master, who do you bring to the sacred circle?”

“The healer—” his voice boomed.

“Only you, the Grand Master, are permitted to approach us for our guidance.” The angry voice of an Ancestor reached his ears. “But we are forgiving.”

“I come to seek—”

“Before you tell us what you seek, tell us of your quest.”

A flicker of apprehension pulsed through him. He was certain Ellyn didn’t have much time and the full red moon hung large in the sky. Only a thin arc of sun remained on the horizon.

He removed the wrapped cloth from his pouch and laid the package on the altar stone. “I have passed your test.” He did not expose the mistletoe. He didn’t want the Ancestors to see the dead plant, not until he had Ellyn safely back to Avebury. After that he didn’t care.

“You have found your mate?”

Max hesitated. “Perhaps. I have much to tell you, but before I begin I ask for a boon.” He glanced over his shoulder. She waited for him.

“What do you seek?” the Ancestors rumbled with a cold, hard voice.

“Ellyn of Brodgar is ill. I ask you to help her. She is honorable and has served the people well and denies no one at her own expense.”

“You are the people’s Grand Master. She is your responsibility. We can only guide and help those who have passed on to our world.”

“No,” he insisted, pounding his fist on the stone altar. How could this be? For the first time in his life he felt helpless. He could not lose her. He knew if he did he would lose a part of himself. “She has done everything—”

“It is not for us to interfere.” The voice was calm and without empathy.

“You do not interfere? You demanded I find a mate.”

There was no response.

He tried to keep his control. “She told me she was compelled to come here. Why?”

Still they did not respond.

Anger surged through him. “You brought her here. She needs your help. She’s dying.” He pointed to where he left her.

“Only you can help her, Grand Master.”

“Me?” He stopped short. “How? If I could she’d already be cured.”

“Why do you care what happens to her? She is just a simple Orkney witch. Nothing else.”

Ideas flashed across Max’s mind. If he was the only one that could help her the answer must lie in his greatest gift. His magick. He must get her back to Avebury, back to his magick, before the sun set.

“Here.” He unrolled the mistletoe. “Here is your talisman. Send us back to Avebury,” he demanded.

“So, you found your mate,” the Ancestor said with a satisfied voice.

Max looked at the healthy mistletoe and gaped in astonishment. The plant was dead when he’d last looked. How could it now be alive? Icy fear raced up his back. He glanced at Ellyn on the far side of the circle. Her kisses. He had teased her and it was her kiss all along.

“You hold her destiny in your hands.”

Be sure and pick up your free copy today in one of the links above!


Medieval Monday: Introducing Cathy MacRae

TheHighlandersFrenchBride_high+resIt’s Medieval Monday again and  I’d like to introduce you to author Cathy MacRae. Her stories feature strong heroes and feisty heroines in pursuit of their happy-ever-afters in medieval Scotland. Let’s start off with an excerpt from her book, The Highlander’s French Bride.

Melisende’s arms fell to her sides. “Why would you go back to such a life?”

“To the parties,” Lucienne answered, “and the gowns of fabrics so fantastic they make you cry from the sheer pleasure of them. Laces so delicate they can scarcely withstand the needle. Embroidery so fine it takes four seamstresses a week just to produce one sleeve.” Her eyes closed and rapture lit her face. “The men so courteous, so eager to woo me. Dancing, stealing kisses behind the fountain. They tell me how beautiful I am, how much they desire me.” She opened her eyes, settling her gaze on Melisende’s shocked face.

“Once Raul began annulment proceedings, their interest increased a hundredfold. I will have no lack of sponsors once I return.”

“That is a shameful way to live, and you know it, Lucienne.” Tears burned in Melisende’s eyes. “How can you do this to yourself?” She swept a hand toward the bed. “To her?”

The scorn returned to Lucienne’s face, casting ugly shadows beneath her high cheeks. “You think you know what is right for me. That I should be exactly like you, drowning behind your polite façade. You believe everything is perfect in your little world with your adorable new husband who loves you?” Her eyes narrowed as she slid her gaze to Arielle. “Have you not wondered why she looks like him?”

Melisende immediately looked at the child asleep on the bed. Her dark hair spilled across the pillow like a shadow in the dimly lit room. She glanced back at her sister. “Why do you say that? I think she looks just like you.”

“She has my nose and eyes, oui. But her dark hair comes from her father.”

“Raul.”

“Non. From your oh-so-sweet husband.”

Melisende’s gaze bounced from Lucienne back to the child. Lucienne’s parting words so many years ago loosed themselves from the depths of her mind. What do you think went on whilst he slept in our house—only me and him? He would be unable to look you in the eye if you knew everything that happened.

She shook her head. Non! It is impossible to think of it!He has already assured me there was nothing between himself and Lucienne. But her heart grew cold in her breast.

Lucienne strolled to the bed and stroked her daughter’s hair. “She looks so much like me. But she has Kinnon’s hair.” Her smile set an arrow in Melisende’s heart.

Brushing aside her doubts, Melisende stepped forward. “Do not be absurd, Lucienne. Her hair is much like mine, and Raul’s is dark as well.”

Lucienne tossed her head. “You do not seem to recall Arielle was born early—or so I told Raul.”

“Lucienne, did you have relations with someone whilst we lived in Randon?” Melisende demanded. “Did you marry Raul knowing you were already enceinte?”

Lucienne sent her a mocking look. “You would love to believe that, wouldn’t you? To keep your lover innocent of the deed.

“I do not believe you,” Melisende replied firmly, against the reservations that gnawed at her.

Lucienne’s eyebrows raised, a lofty smile taunting Melisende. “Yet you see the resemblance, non? No matter what you tell yourself, you will always know there is the possibility. We spent an entire week together, unchaperoned. You know how insatiable he is, n’ai-je pas raison?” Her eyes glittered. “No matter what you try to believe, you will always wonder if he shared his body with me first.”

A Peek Into the Story:

Heir to a lairdship, Kinnon Macrory is driven to prove his worth by fighting the English on the battlefields of France. His dreams of heroic valor are destroyed by the realities of war—the atrocities visited by fellow soldiers on the very people he is sworn to protect. Three years in a French prison for a crime he did not commit leave Kinnon longing for the one thing of beauty in his war-torn life—a young woman of great kindness and wisdom named Melisende.

Melisende de la Roche struggles to stay one step ahead of soldiers who would imprison her for helping an injured Scotsman wrongly accused of treason. She finds refuge in her uncle’s shop—until a chance encounter sends her fleeing into the unknown once again, haunted by the beguiling friendship with the troubled young Scotsman she is certain she will never see again.

Determined to find the woman of his dreams, Kinnon returns to France, only to discover a trail of clues to Melisende’s whereabouts. Their reunion will open the doors to passion, but half-truths and lies from the past could destroy the one thing they both are willing to fight for—each other.

You can grab Cathy’s book on Amazon right here: https://www.amzn.com/B018OHXKHK

Happy reading!