When the Tomie dePaola Award contest was first announced. I was very excited and filled with ideas. The prompt choices were Tom Sawyer, Little Women and The Yearling.
My first go at it was this one for The Yearling. While I liked working on this, Tomie’s words kept ringing in my ear, “I want to see an image, a style, a vision that I’ve never seen before – all in glorious black and white!”
Hmmm… I will add this to my portfolio but I had another idea. So I ended up submitting the one below. This is my take. I love little furry creatures.
To see the other entries and there are so many fantastic entries, follow the link below!
Diandra Mae, a fellow Houston illustrator has been diligently adding entries to the Unofficial Gallery of the Tomie dePaola Award blog. Thank you Diandra for taking the time out of this busy holiday season!
Wow. December already. Well, I’m excited to report December brings a couple book releases. Just released this week:
(Free for your Amazon Kindle thru December 3, 2012)
In this contemporary Christmas tale, baker Drew Little’s past collides with his future when he returns to Boerne, Texas. Once an apprentice at Arnwald Family Bakery, Drew’s attraction to the owner’s young daughter distracted him from his duties and he found himself jobless and disgraced. Now he’s determined to clear his name.
True to their German roots, Arnwald Family Bakery, located in the center of historic Boerne, prepares traditional pastries and holiday goodies for the Dicken’s Event until tragedy strikes and the family bakery is left without their patriarch at the helm. The bakery’s success hangs in the shaky hands of the youngest family member.
Hannah Arnwald knows Drew has returned to Boerne. Armed with the intent to hire him as lead baker, Hannah must face the long held grudge of her family as well as survive the cunning competition of another local baker. Can she save a piece of Texan history without losing her heart in the mix?
From The Adventures of Ally and Cory series…
The Wishing Ring, book 1 (paperback to release later this month)
The King’s Seal, book 2 (ebook and paperback to release later this month)
Meet the Synchronized Sisters of Sunnyvale.
These lovely ladies are known far and wide for their beauty, grace and of course their precision technique!
Never a more friendly gaggle of gals could be found. That is, until Sylvia joined the group!
She was a rare bird indeed!!
Then the feathers flew!!
“Why does she always get to stay above water?”
Sylvia just smiled and let it roll like water off a ducks back
… or should I say swan!
Seven swans a swimming!!!
My great-grandfather, Zone, the Texan communist carpenter and lothario, made this rocking chair a hundred years ago, give or take. It was good to sit in something so solid (and so tailored to short people) while visiting my mom for her birthday over the weekend.
I planned the trip several months back. A few weeks ago, though she did not allow my stepdad to tell me immediately, my mom had a stroke. She wouldn’t want me to dwell on the details, so I’ll just say that it she’s recovered with characteristic speed and finesse — by dint of sheer will, as her people do. When caregivers were dispatched by the hospital to check on her, they couldn’t believe she was the one they were coming to see.
I could. It was hard to leave when the time was up, and yet it seems impossible that there would ever come a day when my mother would cease to exist in this world.
Photo by Max, of course.
Nikki Logan is a veteran Harlequin Romance author. Her latest release, Slow Dance with the Sheriff, is the second book in The Larkville Legacy series. Eight authors collaborated on this continuity, and I thought it would be fun to chat with as many as possible as I make my way through the series. I was thrilled when Nikki dropped by to talk about her book.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Nikki Logan] Writer seeks reader who loves long walks on beach, toasty log cabins deep in forest & plenty of wildlife. GSOH an advantage.#AuthorPersonals
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Slow Dance with the Sheriff?
[Nikki Logan] This story is part of an eight-book series (we call it a ‘continuity’ because each story continues the central thread, adding to it in some way) based in fictional Larkville just outside of Austin, Texas (though they’re not all set there). My book is second in the series and features a never-left-New York ex Ballerina, Ellie, who comes to Larkville to personally check out the truth behind a letter she received from a woman claiming to be her half-sister. Ellie wants to suss out the truth before throwing her whole family into disarray. But, thanks to some hurtful and angry words exchanged with her mother, she leaves New York in an uncharacteristically rash fashion and arrives in Larkville only to find all the Calhouns away from the ranch for a couple of weeks. She has no choice but to accept the reluctant assistance of the town sheriff who cops the brunt of her barely contained anxiety about the downward vortex that is her life. But of course he’s gorgeous and gracious about it and she finds herself falling fast…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Slow Dance with the Sheriff is part of the Larkville Legacy series. Can you share how you and the other authors worked together to write these books?
[Nikki Logan] Getting eight authors from all corners of the globe together to figure out the finer details of such a long and complicated family relationship wasn’t easy. The eight of us primarily used an email loop to communicate and we started with the continuity ‘bible’ which is a number of documents sent to us by our editors which gave us our essential character outlines, descriptions, info about fictional Larkville and some suggestions on what made each character tick. Each of us got that information at roughly the same time and then a few of us launched madly into fleshing it/our characters/the setting out via the loop. But, of course, each of us had a different place in the schedule and different deadlines. Although I was book # 2, my deadline was the first of everyone and so I had to write like a demon once we had locked down the basics and then try and stay across changes and developments as I wrote. But I was well into my next book by the time the authors of the seventh and eighth books were starting to plan theirs. It was staggered.
So that Google group and its archives came in really handy for going back through everything and getting it right.
The most fun (for me) was creating the world of Larkville. I’m responsible for Nan’s Bunk’n’Grill, the Larkville Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Hollis being a woman Then it was up to each of us to insert enough of the ‘world’ into our stories. But of course not everyone got to set their books in Larkville so other authors had to try and extrapolate the ‘world’ and feed enough of it into their stories to make it nest neatly within the series.
The biggest challenge was taking a few-line outline dashed off by the publisher and bending it to fit my voice, my style of story and my interest. I’m really happy with the way the whole story worked out, it’s true to the outline provided but also true to me and characters I would have loved to write anyway.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Eleanor/Ellie?
[Nikki Logan] 3 words: On the cusp.
So much about her life is about to change for the better and she has no idea. But she’s taken her first real risk and it’s going to pay off big time.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Jed would never have in his bedroom?
[Nikki Logan] His firearm (because although he’s security conscious, being a Sheriff, he moved to Larkville to have a different kind of pace in his life, and keeping his gun in his bedroom would dishonour that intent).
His muddy boots (because his Gran raised him right and because he has a loft bedroom so that mud would track all up the stairs)
A phone (Bedrooms are for sleeping or recreation and Jed would think that being contactable wouldn’t fit with either of those things)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Ellie had a theme song, what would it be?
[Nikki Logan] “I Will Survive”. She’s been through a lot, but she’s finding herself in Larkville and every bad thing that has happened to her has only made her stronger.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Nikki Logan] My father was an original ‘MadMen’ advertising exec type and one of the top creative directors/copywriters in his field, so the bulk of my creative genes came from him. His father (my grandfather) told the most spectacularly intricate, engaging stories that he just made up out of his head (or seemed to) and so clearly my father got it from him and his Welsh genes.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Nikki Logan] Tea – refreshing the cup gives my eyes a break from the monitor and sipping a piping hot cup of tea helps me think
Silence – I write best to silence (including internet silence) and edit best to classical music.
My dogs – there’s something about their steady breathing and reassuring presence…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Nikki Logan] Reading is such a rushed and rare thing for me now… and it’s been a while since I read someone new (because when I do read its usually the latest installment from someone who already knocked off my socks a few years ago)… But I was totally blown away by seeing WAR HORSE in New York last year. I picked it randomly when I had a free evening and wanted to see a NY show, and knew virtually nothing about it. It picked me up and transported me, breathless, to another world and I completely bought into every part of that experience. It was so engaging, so immersive so emotional and so visceral. Exactly all the things I enjoy about a good read. Except it wasn’t a read!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Nikki Logan] I find this impossible to answer. I grew up in a house always filled with books, and with a mother always propped up at the kitchen bench with a cuppa and a good book. I don’t remember when I started to read I just know I always have. I used to read whatever the school library had (I loved romance even then and would devour ‘Sweet Dreams’ romantic YA novels and also ‘choose your own ending’ stories) and then as I got older of course Mills & Boon (of which my mother had hundreds) and all my mum’s sci-fi/fantasy books (of which she also had hundreds, tho I was selective in what I read).
But to try and answer this I looked to my bookshelf to see what I still have from when I was very young. Two books stand out – one a book of the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen (the dark versions) which I still go back to even now for story ideas and another called “Gnomes” (Nuygen & Poortvliet) which is an anthropological examination of Gnomes as a different species. This book was such a haven at difficult times and transported me to a wonderful and mysterious place.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Nikki Logan] I’m not very good at refilling the well, I have to say. I work seven-days-a-week between writing and my day job so there isn’t a lot of down time. But I try to spend it with my man and my dogs. We like to all pile into the cruiser and go somewhere that we can all romp free together. Well, they romp and I wander sedately and catch up. Movies, the lazy- (or busy-) woman’s book. And of course reading but there’s just no time…
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Nikki Logan] Through my website/blog (www.nikkilogan.com.au), or on my fanpage on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/NikkiLoganAuthor) predominantly. I try to reply to anyone who contacts me with questions or comments.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can order Slow Dance with the Sheriff in print or digital from the widget below.
Here is a list of the entire Larkville Legacy series, in order by release month. I have enjoyed the first two books in the series, so I plan to try and read all of them. I love continuity series, so Harlequin once again hit my happy button.
The Cowboy Comes Home by Patricia Thayer – JULY
Slow Dance with the Sheriff by Nikki Logan – AUGUST
Taming the Brooding Cattleman by Marion Lennox – SEPTEMBER
The Rancher’s Unexpected Family by Myrna Mackenzie – OCTOBER
His Larkville Cinderella by Melissa McClone – NOVEMBER
The Secret that Changed Everything by Lucy Gordon – DECEMBER
The Soldier’s Sweetheart by Soraya Lane – JANUARY
The Billionaire’s Baby SOS by Susan Meier – FEBRUARY
Here are all of the covers -
Lark Ville Legacy
May Contain Spoilers
Ex-ballerina Eleanor Patterson is the darling of Manhattan society—until she discovers her pedigree background is a lie. So she heads to sleepy Larkville for answers….
Sheriff Jed Jackson never expected to rescue a stunning woman from a herd of cattle, or to be so fascinated by the vulnerability beneath Ellie’s tough city veneer. Yet watching her unwind is irresistible, and as he helps her learn to dance again he wants to give both Ellie and himself a new beginning….
Okay, so I somehow got sucked into the Larkville Legacy series, and after reading the first two books, I am quite eager for the third. I don’t remember reading anything by Nikki Logan before, though I do have a few of her Harlequin Romances that I picked up during the final days of Borders’ going out of business sales. Glad I grabbed them now, because Slow Dance With the Sheriff pushed all of the right buttons with me. It had some humor, some sizzle, and a whole lot of powerful emotional responses from me. Why? There is a dog. He is damaged. There are two people. They are damaged. Because they both find it in themselves to love the dog, they all get a happy ever after. How freakin’ cool is that? There aren’t even any horses in this one, and since it takes place in a small Texas town, I expected at least one or two. Nope, just a bunch of stupid cattle.
Ellie Patterson is seeking a home. She needs someplace where she fits in, and in 30 years, she has yet to find one. It seems that her entire life is one of disappointment. She quit ballet after discovering that her wealthy father was making huge donations to the company. She couldn’t live with the humiliation of knowing that he bought her place with the dance troupe, instead of earning it herself. She is still single and emotionally detached from any man, much to her mother’s dismay. If she won’t keep dancing, she should at least marry in the spotlight. Then, when she discovers her mother’s secret, she’s shocked, but also hopeful. Her mother was already pregnant with Ellie and her twin brother when her mother married, and she is doesn’t share one drop of blood with her father. Even though she has never fit in with her New York family, maybe she will finally find a place to belong in Texas with the Calhouns. Without a second thought, she rents a car and drives to Texas to meet the family she didn’t even know she had.
Problem? First, Jess Calhoun is on her honeymoon, and she be gone for a few weeks. Second, she is ambushed by an errant herd of cattle. Third? The oh-so-sexy sheriff who saves her is just as damaged as she is. He is distanced from everyone and everything but his dog. He likes things that way, too. After making a life altering mistake when he was in charge of the canine unit in a big city, he has sworn off emotional entanglements. He is happy being the sheriff of a small town, patrolling his county and keeping the law and the peace in his little corner of the world. Life is quiet. Life is calm. Life couldn’t get any better. Until he has to save Ellie from that errant mass of bovine stupidity.
What I liked best about this story is how both characters, despite their overwhelming fear of emotional, and in Ellie’s case, physical, contact, both pushed each other to take risks. These were baby steps, but each successful nudge pushed them closer together, until they had developed a strong bond, with trust firmly at the foundation. Jed’s strength allowed Ellie to feel comfortable and content for the first time in her life. Ellie’s wariness and vulnerability, coupled with her unbridled joy at finally discovering the courage to get out there and live, gave Jed a much needed push to start living himself. Even when he takes the overused plot devices to heart and tells Ellie that theirs is just a temporary attachment, you know, to the depths of your soul, that Jed is only fooling himself. Once he and Ellie begin to trust each other, you know that it will only be a matter of time, despite the rages and the denials, before they stop fighting and recognize how perfect they are for each other. Add the unshakable approval of one traumatized police dog, and Jed and Ellie really had no chance to escape from that devious thing known as true love. Their chance of escape? Zero percent.
I immediately connected with the protagonists, and I constantly urged them to overcome their fears, to stop fighting against the inevitable tide that would eventually buffet them together. Plot devices that normally drive me nuts worked here, without question. And interwoven through everything was Deputy Dawg, that poor battered soul who needed nothing other than a warm pat and a kind word. I think that this sliver of the story touched more more deeply than it would have otherwise, because I know how comforting and soothing a dog’s presence can be. Now that it’s not there, I know how devastating it is when it’s not there. At the end of this story, when all Ellie and Jed wanted was love and forgiveness, all they had to do was look to Deputy for an example of how that is done. Nothing can bridge that chasm of unconditional love and forgiveness like a dog.
I was occasionally jarred out of the story by some unfamiliar, and to my ears, awkward turns of phrase. Both Ellie and Jed are supposed to be American, but they didn’t always sound like it. This is my one nitpick. Nikki Logan is Australian, and every now and again, her characters sounded like they were too. I wasn’t expecting this deep in the heart of Texas, so I do feel obligated to mention it.
So, volume two in the Larkville Legacy has kept me engaged in the continuity of the series. Curse you , Harlequin! Check back for my review of the next book in the series, Taming the Brooding Cattleman.
Review was purchased from Amazon
Ruby Rue was beautiful of heart
Though her outward appearance gave town folks a start
Her dreams of a suitor had not yet come true
With just internal beauty, what’s a poor hag to do?
So she consulted her Grimoire and found a grand hex
She enchanted a stone and hung it round her neck
Then she squealed to the mirror “Why Ruby… You’re hot!”
But her stone, it was faulty, for to others… she was not!
The lesson to garner, so you won’t be alone…
Keep your hope in your heart and not in a stone.