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The very generous and enterprising TJ Bennett is giving away totes and baskets full of RITA -nominated books and audios. You can enter by posting a comment on her blog here. My contribution is below.  Also note the question at the bottom of this post. Need your input!

[Ed. note (from TJ): We continue our RITA® giveaway with our final tote bag. Be sure to leave your comments on the posts for a chance to win. One tote per winner will be awarded, but you can comment on any post throughout the contest period, which ends July 18, 2009. Remember this week, there are four totes up for grabs: #7, 8, 9, and 10.]

Susan Wiggs, Snowfall at Willow Lake
[NOTE: Book in tote is audio (MP3-CD) version]
2009 RITA® Finalist for Contemporary Single Title Romance 

“Every writer I know started out as a reader. She was like me–voracious, insatiable, reading anything and everything she could get her hands on. Eventually she fell in love with genre fiction, and found a special affinity with romance novels. Like me, she probably cut her teeth on the big, juicy historicals of Kathleen Woodiwiss, Laurie McBain, Jennifer Wilde, Laura London. She stayed up late with A Woman of Substance, fantasized along with Princess Daisy and wept over The Thornbirds. She dreamed of Turtle MoonHoney Moon and Carolina Moon. She developed a taste for Like Water for Chocolate and maybe even started her own knitting and reading club. All this reading made her a better writer, and an incredibly savvy reader. Along the way, she joined RWA® and volunteered to judge the RITA®.

That’s why being a finalist is such an incredible honor. The judges are the pickiest readers in the world, and this year, they picked Snowfall at Willow Lake. This was extra-special for me because of the content of the book. Sophie Bellamy, the main character, was one of the most reviled and misunderstood protagonists I’ve ever created–chilly, competitive, deeply self-absorbed, a woman who had the audacity to be unhappy in her marriage–and to finally do something about it. Her journey from the international courts of The Hague to the storybook shores of Willow Lake was more than a plot, it was a quest for redemption. Landing in the finals was an affirmation that her journey was a success.

The competition is incredibly tough; I know, I’m always reading and I read a ton of terrific novels last year. So I’m deeply grateful and honored to be a finalist this year. I’m also thrilled to be slogging it out with some of my favorite writers for the final prize, the Queen of All Knickknacks. Because as soon as the list of finalists came out, I read all the others and was wildly entertained for days! There’s a reason the RITA® is the gold standard of prizes in our genre. I’m proud to be in the game. To read more about Snowfall at Willow Lake, and to find out more than even my husband knows about me, please check out my web site at http://www.susanwiggs.com and blog at http://www.susanwiggs.wordpress.com.”

About Snowfall at Willow Lake:

Can a single moment change your entire life?

International lawyer Sophie Bellamy has dedicated her life to helping people in war-torn countries. But when she survives a hostage situation, she remembers what matters most—the children she loves back home. Haunted by regrets, she returns to the idyllic Catskills village of Avalon on the shores of Willow Lake, determined to repair the bonds with her family.

There Sophie discovers the surprising rewards of small-town life—including an unexpected passion for Noah Shepherd, the local veterinarian. Noah has a healing touch for anything with four legs, but he’s never had any luck with women—until Sophie.

Snowfall at Willow Lake speaks from the heart about all the loves that fill a woman’s life, and all the ways that love is tested and made to grow. It’s the story of what comes after a woman survives an unspeakable horror and finds her way home, to healing and redemption and a new chance at happiness.

********

I need your advice! Last year I “won” a pair of Camper Twins when I didn’t bag the RITA. Should I fail to bring home the Queen of All Knicknacks this year, what should my consolation prize be? (I have an idea or two…)

honored

honored

…paid me a visit this morning! Snowfall at Willow Lake  is up for a RITA Award.

goddess of knicknacks

goddess of knicknacks

The call came from the lovely and talented Lorraine Heath, who is also up for the award for her historical romance.

Winners will be announced this summer at the RWA National Conference.

Wish us luck in the RITA smackdown!

One of the most-asked questions of a writer: Where do you get your ideas?

I rarely know; my novels are stitched together with bits and pieces like a crazy quilt. By the time I finish, the inciting idea has morphed and changed so much that it’s virtually disappeared into the fabric of the story.

Not so Isadora. She appeared full-fledged before me, demanded her story be told and refused to morph. I don’t recall why I was paging through an ancient book about Boston, but I came across this illustration:

And…voila! Isadora was born. I knew she was miserable and smart and repressed, and had a fine story to tell. When I finished writing The Charm School, I sent a copy of this portrait to the publisher because in their art questionnaire, they wanted to know what the main character looked like. >>sound of art director howling with laughter<<

Here is Isadora in the illustrator’s imagination, along with a toothsome Ryan. It’s a before-and-after Extreme Makeover. Also note the butterfly, mentioned in yesterday’s post. It’s visible through the die-cut window.

 

And finally, in stores now, is the 2008 Isadora. She’s looking very fit indeed, Ryan is as flamboyant as ever, and I kind of like that their facees are left up to the imagination.

 What about you? Which cover do you prefer?

Win a trip to Willow Lake! I’m not kidding. Check it out here: http://www.eharlequin.com/swinvitation.html?swid=100006

Win a trip to Willow Lake!

I have a banner ad! Go look–it’s a first for me. Thanks to my publisher and to Authorbuzz for this very cool gizmo on my web site.

Lakeshore banner

Writing is a solitary pursuit, so it’s important to remember to take time to celebrate. Lori & Susan, 1963I’m blessed with the best writing buddies in the world, and we’re really good at recognizing the good things when they come along–a first sale, an award, a placement on the bestseller list. Sheila's cake for Christmas in CarolHere’s a slide show of the fun side of writing and publishing.

And here’s one of my favorite cakes–an olive oil cake, also known as Ladi Tourta. Bon appetit!

What are the things you celebrate? What cements the good memories in your heart? Chocolate, flowers, champagne, wearing funny clothes, a spa day, shopping for new books, calling your friends and screaming, doing the Snoopy Dance with your sister? I’m always open to new ideas in this department.

That Summer at Willow Lake is a finalist for the 2007 RITA Award. BOO YAH. (For an interesting discussion of this award, check this out.)

RITA statue

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I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

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