Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
(cross-posted with slight adaptation on ANWAFounder&Friends)
Last Sunday, as I was getting dressed for an early morning Church meeting, I had cranked up the sound to a BYU Devotional on TV to listen to while I dressed. Now, you must understand that the TV is some distance from my bedroom and bathroom where the bulk of my “getting ready for Church” takes place, so between running water for such things as brushing my teeth and the A/C cycling on and off (yes, even at that hour of the morning, for you non-Arizonans who may be blinking in dismay), I don’t generally catch a lot of words from these early morning devotionals. But I do remember that the speaker last week was a woman, and during one interim of relative silence on my and the house’s part, one comment broke through that caught my attention. Speaking to a college age audience, she was warning them about spending too much time in cyberspace. The comment went something like this (paraphrasing): “I’ve heard many students say that they feel closer to their cyberspace friends than they do to actual people they know on campus.”
What she said in follow-up escaped me, as the A/C cycled on again, but from her tone of voice, I suspected this was not something she particularly approved of.
Her words struck both a chord of guilt and justification in me. I freely admit that I spend a lot of time with “virtual friends” on the internet. Not all of them are completely “virtual” anymore, as many of them are members of the American Night Writers Association whom I have now met at writing conferences and retreats, so I can count many them as “real people”, rather than the “virtual friends” they were to me for so many years. Yet some of them I still have never met, and there are other writers I have connected with in cyberspace that have become good friends, as well. Why have I bonded with these people in cyberspace? Because we share a common interest—writing!—and to be honest, because of where I live, except for that annual conference and writers retreat, I don’t get a chance to associate with other writers outside of cyberspace. And so I admit, on many levels, I feel closer to many of them through cyberspace than I do to non-writer acquaintances within my town.
Keep in mind that I am also single, so I have no husband and children to associate with on a consistent basis. Even my siblings live in different states, reducing our contacts to phone calls and—yes—cyberspace exchanges!
Hence, my “justification” for the time I spend with my “virtual friends”.
When I found myself invited last week to a Stampin’ Up! party with some other women in my church, my initial reaction was hesitance, even though the party was being sponsored by a friend of mine who lives some distance away who was coming to town just to instruct us in the art of paper crafting—a very non-virtual friend whom I continue to love very much. But I’m also quite shy (though you might question that self-description if you get me started talking about writing ;-) ) and have never particularly felt comfortable in large social groups. Even though I wanted to see this friend of mine very much, it still was a struggle to convince myself to go. But the words of that BYU Devotional kept coming back to haunt (or more likely, prompt) me. “You need to go have a non-virtual experience, Joyce. You need to go be around some living, breathing people, even if just for a few hours.”
Don’t you hate it when you know you should go do something “because it’ll be good for you”, when you really don’t want to do it? But I couldn’t get that voice out of my head. “You need to go have a non-virtual experience.” And so I pushed myself into my car and drove down to the hostess’s house to learn how to Stamp Up some Christmas cards. If you knew what a complete craft klutz I am, even having been craft-humiliated to the point of tears on more than one occasion, you would understand why this non-virtual experience was a double challenge for me.
But you know what? I went, I was not humiliated (Stampin’ Up! must have been designed especially for craft klutzes like me—it’s like I couldn’t make this stuff look bad even if I tried!), and
This takes nothing away from my love for my writer friends, even if most of them remain “virtual” over most of the year. I’ll still spend time with them, because they nourish me and my writing in a way only other writers can do. But I will also try to remain more open to non-virtual experiences closer to home after this.
Hey! When is that next Stampin’ Up! party scheduled?
Monday, September 28, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Back Cover Blurb for The Sister Pact:
Savanna Compton is devastated when her sister and best friend, Allison, falls into a coma after a tragic accident. Or was it an accident? Even with a charming and handsome detective at her side, it seems Savannah may never discover the truth. But if she doesn’t her family could be in even more danger. And Savannah’s past holds its own secrets that could change everything.
Now she must prove her innocence to the one person who is beginning to matter most. Join Savannah as she struggles to summon hope and rely on faith even in the darkest of circumstances, and learn how the bond between sisters can overcome anything.
Okay, the first thing I realized when I began reading The Sister Pact is that I watch entirely too much Law & Order. (I’m speaking of the “original series” here.) As soon as the handsome, hunky, and entirely WOWSOME police detective, Noah Shumway, stepped onto the scene, I couldn’t stop my subconscious mind from asking: Is this what Lenny Brisco would do? Nahhh, just can’t see it! How about Detective Green? Well…maybe, but it’d be a stretch for me to buy. What about going back all the way to the “early days” of Detective Mike Logan? Ah, now there we have a possibility! Mike was undoubtedly impulsive and hot headed enough to potentially allow himself to get emotionally caught up with a suspect. Not that I’m advising you to picture Detective Shumway as a Mike Logan. Noah is older and much hunkier and built like a ROCK. Which I mean in the very best of romantic ways. And he doesn’t particularly have a challenge with his temper (except perhaps towards the end, when he is justifiably motivated by extreme circumstances). Nor is he particularly impulsive…except for falling head-over-heels in love with the beautiful Savannah Compton, his prime suspect in a possible murder attempt against her sister.
The Sister Pact is billed as a “romantic mystery”, but there is little mystery in it, since we know who the perpetrator is and how and why the crime was committed from the very first pages. “Romantic suspense” would be a more accurate description, with heavy on the “romance” theme. The “suspense” part does kick into high gear during the last 70 pages of the book. And once the action starts, it comes on slam-bang non-stop. Well done, Cami!
On second thought, I might be wrong about the mystery angle. Just not the way the book billing suggests. The mysteries that are teased out through the course of the book are more of a personal nature. What experiences in Savannah’s and Noah’s pasts have made them afraid to trust each other with their hearts, or even to trust in their own basic self-worth? I liked the way the characters were revealed to the reader a layer at a time, rather than splashing their entire life histories upfront. These were the mysteries that kept me reading, wanting to find out who these people really were, why they had become who they had become, and whether each could overcome the hurts of their pasts to find love in one another’s arms.
If you’re looking for a well told story about fierce family loyalty (the “sister pact” made as children between Savannah and her sister drives Savannah to uncover the truth behind her sister’s “accident”), as well as a satisfying romance (and don’t forget that slam-bang action ending!), then check out The Sister Pact by Cami Checketts.
You can win a copy of The Sister Pact by doing one or more of the following. Each one will count as one entry in the drawing, for a potential total of 3 entries per person!
(1) Leave a comment on this review, then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org WITH YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS, telling me you left a comment.
(2) If you're a Law & Order original series fan, send me the name of your favorite (regular) character to email@example.com, and please include your NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS.
(3) Subscribe to JDP NEWS posts by clicking on the "SUBSCRIBE TO POSTS" box in my left hand side bar (right under my list of "FOLLOWERS") OR become a Goodreads follower of me (Joyce DiPastena) on Goodreads.com, then send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org (WITH YOUR NAME AND MAILING ADDRESS) telling me which you have done: subscribed to my blog or become a Goodreads follower. (If you're already a subscriber or Goodreads follower, email me to let me know that, too, and I'll count that as an entry.)
Deadline for this giveaway is midnight PST, Sunday, October 4. Good luck to one and all!
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Girdle: a belt worn around the waist
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
- Jaimey Grant at Into the Mind of Jaimey Grant (even though she comments on my medieval research blog, more than this one :-) )
- Nchole Giles at Random-Ish by Nichole
- Miss Mae at Pure Southern Genteel
- Cathy Galloway at My Own Opinion
Instead of picking 8 bloggers I have chosen 4, and I will follow Laura's example by letting anyone who reads my blog take the award and link back to me.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Every fourth Thursday of the month (this month, September 24), The Sweetest Romance Authors group sponsors a special chat on their Sweetest Romance Authors Chat Blog. This chat is open to EVERYONE, readers and writers alike. You do not have to join any organization or group, just show up on the blogsite on time, type in your name into the "login" box and dive into our chat.
These fourth Thursday chats focus more on “education” in the writing and publishing field, than on promoting our personal writing. This Thursday’s “guest speaker” will be Rachel Starr Thomson, author of Worlds Unseen and Burning Light. If you’d like to read more about Rachel before the chat you can visit the following links:
Following the chat will be held a scavanger hunt. The winner will be honored with “the highly coveted Sweetie award”, which the winner will be free to display on her/his website, blog, and other cyber space realms you may have.
This chat is a great chance to learn all about the guest and their niche in the world of writing and publishing. Ms Thomson will be sharing information beyond what you can find on her website and blog, and will be open to answering questions from all who attend the chat.
We hope you will mark your calendars and take the time to join us at this week’s Thursday chat!
Time: 8:00-9:00 PM EST/5:00-6:00 PM PST, September 24
We’d love to see you there!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Set in the Middle Ages, there are roving bandits, palace intriques, court politics and rare chivalry aplenty. The plot twists had me wondering how Siriol was going to manage avoiding marrying the churlish knaves calling themselves knights or how she could persuade the brooding Triston to let go of his past and to see her for herself and not as the ghost of his late wife. It was hard to put the book down.
I was so excited to get my hands on Joyce DiPastena's second novel, Illuminations of the Heart. I throughly enjoyed reading her first, Loyalty's Web, and had high expectations that not only did she match, but exceeded. The first line "Donna Siri, cover your head" drew me in and I found myself just devouring the pages. What originally started out as an hour before bedtime read turned into a "I have to finish this before I can sleep read." Somewhere in the early morning I did, only to begin it the next day. I will only read books I love a second time. In fact I would put this book in the top ten of books I've read this year.
I love a good historical romance. I love them even better when I don't have to worry about steamy bedroom scenes. Joyce Di Pastena's second historical Illuminations of the Heart has it all: fevered kisses, sword fights, betrayal, kidnapping, rescues, death-defying feats and bandits. . . . Joyce's writing is vivid, her characters likeable and realistic, her dialogue fresh, and her descriptions make the scenes breathe.
Rachelle's Writing Spot
Joyce definitely knows how to write a good romance to keep you on the edge of your seat. . . . If the book would’ve been 200 pages longer, I would’ve kept reading—yes it was that good.
I don't remember the last time I've enjoyed a book so much. . . . From the first scene I was sucked in and cheering for the heroine, Siri. Siri is one of those heroines who you'd want for a best friend. She's warm, beautiful, and loyal. And she's not afraid to pull a knife and force a man to back off. Loving the tough girl! . . . Speaking of the plot, it was extremely well-done. I loved all the twists. I never wanted to put the book down. . . . I would definitely recommend Illuminations of the Heart to anyone who enjoys clean romance, riveting suspense, and a story that will touch your heart.
Searching for a great historical fictional romance? I've got just the book for you. Joyce DiPastena's book Illumination of the Heart is the perfect blend of mystery, action, and above all, romance. I totally loved this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and portrayed the heroine perfectly. . . . This story definitely left me with a sigh:-)
Of Writerly Things
First, can I say, Joyce DiPastena knows her medieval stuff. She majored in it in college no less, receiving a degree from the University of Arizona. She is true to the time frame throughout her story, introducing the reader to terms like "crenellated," "portcullis," and "primogeniture." You may have thought "mail" was something that showed up in a box outside your home or on your computer, as in You've got it but no, it's "a flexible armor made of small, overlapping metal rings." (I got that from a glossary in the back of the book.) . . . I highly recommend it.
DePastena weaves a thrilling tale of swashbuckling sword fights, sweet love scenes, and political intrigue. An understanding that could have been a satisfying ending occurs a hundred or more pages before Triston and Siri finally battle their way through several challenging complications to more complete fruition. . . . This is a very good read, to which I give my highest praise of five stars.
Of Good Report
I do love a good romance, and I mean a good romance novel. Illuminations of the Heart is clean . . . What makes it even better is that it is a historical romance novel which, in my opinion, is the best kind. . . . Through many twists and turns and thrilling chase scenes and, of course, romantic scenes, the book ends in an exciting and unexpected way. Appropriate for adults and teens, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romantic novel!
If you love a good romance book, this book is clean and beautifully written. The characters come alive on the page as the vivid images of the summer 1179 are brought to life. Joyce has done a stunning job at weaving a masterful tale and sharing it with the world. . . . If you loved Loyalty's Web, you will love this too!
Musing from an LDS Writing Mom
Joyce has a way of bringing the locations to life with her descriptions and deep research. . . . The characters draw you into the story and make you want to read to the end so that you can figure out how everyone gets out of this impossible situation. grin. I don't want to give it all away...but you got to read it. Especially if historical romance is your cup of tea. Really!
Queen of the Clan
My very, very favorite part of Joyce's new book, is the romance. OK - I know you were all waiting for me to say that! . . . Joyce weaves a wonderful story, creates an attraction and tension between Triston and Siri, and never once do I have to skip sentences or flip pages. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that I can read such a powerful romance book and never cringe. I can safely keep reading and enjoy every single one of those melt-my-knees kisses without worry it's going to lead somewhere my eyes, mind, and imagination don't want to go. I have so many friends and teenagers who raid my library of books and am so grateful I don't have to give any "disclaimers" before lending out of Joyce's books. THANK YOU, JOYCE! I highly, highly, highly (I can add about a dozen of those!) recommend both of Joyce's books for the romance addict in your life.
This story is filled with rich characters and setting. As Tristan learns to cope with his anger and his guilt, the depth of his personality shines through. Siri was likeable and I found myself rooting for her. What really impressed me was the complexity of the plot and how there would always be one more twist even when I Thought everything had been figured out. . . . I couldn't put the book down. If you love clean romance with lots of excitement read this book.
Dreams of Quill and Ink
Illuminations of the Heart is a historical romance set during the middle ages. Lest you think it’s all swooning and kisses, let me illuminate (pun intended) some things I particularly enjoyed about this book. The story is woven seamlessly with the time period. It is so organically done that one almost doesn’t notice—though the attention to detail and fact is there. I learned things about history that I didn’t know but in such a way that it didn’t feel like it intruded on the story. As if that wasn’t enough, this romance is blended with mystery, suspense, and action. The plot doesn’t just move forward, it propels. I couldn’t stop reading. The characterization is rich and satisfying. The characters live and breath from the page. Their histories, individual stories, and interactions blend in such a way that one would not be surprised to discover that they actually lived long ago.
Joyce DiPastenahas a vast amount of knowledge about all things medieval and she paints pictures in the minds of her readers. You see the clothes, you imagine yourself walking along the stone corridors, and you can smell the feasts that are offered up in the kitchens. You feel as though you have truly stepped into her story. If you're looking for a really romantic, truly authentic medieval tale of love, treachery, and intrigue, well - what are you waiting for?
Rating: A+ I didn't pass it on to my teen (he wasn't interested), but I did pass it on to my mother and sisters who also loved it. It was my pleasure to be drawn in by ILLUMINATIONS OF THE HEART and once I started Siri's journey, I couldn't put it down until I reached the last page . . . and then I still wanted more. While this is an adult title, I believe it's appropriate for teens as well.
Tangled Words and Dreams
Well, what can I say? Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena is one amazing book. . . . I couldn’t get enough of it. . . . you’ll find plenty of excellent smoochies, damsels in distress, trickery, and sword fighting, to satisfy just about any historical romance reader.
Random-ish by Nichole
This one is definitely worth the read!! Once again, Joyce DiPastena has outdone herself. I absolutely loved her first book, Loyalty’s Web, and wondered how she would ever write another one with so much depth, so many plot twists and turns, and let’s not forget the heart-melting love story (the kind that doesn’t make you cringe). But how could I have thought such a thing? Of course, Illuminations was up to par! I absolutely loved it. Okay, first I have to warn you. I’m a sucker for a good romance. Really. But I’m also extremely picky about what I read, especially since I started writing myself. Other than Loyalty’s Web, it’s been quite a while since I found a sweet romance that I just couldn’t put down. But this one was definitely packed full of heart-pounding romance. The downside is that I’m going to have to wait for probably a year or more to read another book by Joyce. (Frown. That’s a long time!) The point is, Illuminations of the Heart has sealed the deal. I'm a fan for life!
Lu Ann's Book Review
Okay, I'll admit, I'm a sucker for a well-written romance. Throw in the fact that it's a well-researched and historically accurate romance and it makes me even happier. But, give me a well-written, historically accurate romance that remains clean, yet maintains just the right balance of romantic tension between the characters, and I am thrilled. This is exactly how I felt with Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena.
Reading for Sanity
You are pulled into Illuminations of the Heart in the first few pages by an attempted kidnapping and . . . are not let go until the end of the book. I found the story of Siri (Siriol di Calendri) and Triston to be a sweet, tender romance. . . . Siri was young, vibrant and beautiful. She was also of the same moral character as Triston, so their relationship was not something I was embarrassed to read about.The action in Illuminatons just kept coming and coming. There was plenty of sword and fist fighting, racing off on horses, and falling down stairs to keep anybody reading. -Chris
if you are in the mood for a scorchingly romantic (yet fairly clean) book with a lot of twists and turns rescues and then even more twists and turns rescues, then you will likely find happiness within the pages of this book.
Joyce delivers another great romance set in an entirely different time period from. And you know what? I learn new words from those time periods every time I read her books! In this book, the reader will learn what an 'illuminator' is and no, it's not someone who lights fires. I enjoyed this story from the beginning, especially Siri; she's feisty and smart. I rooted for her through the book and really wanted her to get her man. And dang it Triston! I can't say any more about that person... Joyce's book is smart and full of 'clean' romance, sword fights, bad guys, mystery and castles.
The Write Blocks
Her characters in her recently released, medieval romance, "Illuminations of the Heart" are fully "rounded" and maintain clear motivations.
Check out her interview with Illuminations heroin, Siri.
Why Not? Because I Said So! and LDSWomensBookReview
has sealed the deal. I’m a fan for life!I enjoy reading Joyce DiPastena's books. They are known for being "clean" romances. Now days, the idea of a clean romance is a very rare thing. This is not to say that you won't be swept away in the growing romance between Triston and Siri and the heat felt between them. They are clearly attracted to each other and their shared kisses made me yearn for a "Triston" in my life. You can safely read this book, as well as your teen-age daughter, and know that no sex will be spattered throughout the pages. . . . This sweet romance from Joyce is 425 pages long. It is well worth your time to read it. Hide away in a room, pull out the chocolate or popcorn, get comfortable and escape to the medieval times. I enjoyed getting lost in the romance and suspense that is interwoven in Illuminations of the Heart.
For me to really recommend a historical romance like Illuminations, it absolutely must meet certain criteria:
- A believable, self-assured, strong-spirited heroine, who is likely to take matters into her own hands—Siri definitely fits the bill.
- A hero/love interest that is compelling for reasons other than his good looks—it took a while for me to warm up to Triston, but he won me over.
- A plot line that is more than just falling in love—there's some mystery, mistaken identity, some politics. Plenty more than just two people trying to get together.
- Well-written, well-researched and historically accurate—this was amazing. I felt like I was actually there.
- Some twists and turns that I didn't see coming-- it was great to be surprised.
- I must get lost in the story and forget what time it is in my real-life—uhm, yes. I was late for a doctor's appointment because of this book.
- Clean—no details from the bedroom—I could recommend this to my mother and my daughters with no hesitation.
Romance Old School
Illuminations of the Heart is an exciting tale of love and political intrigue. . . . The characters, I felt, were believable, likable, and well-developed. We got a sense of Triston's feelings of guilt, his regret and his frustration. Siri's personality was strong without being the overbearing female so many authors seem to think a strong woman should be. She knew what she wanted almost from the start and when faced with opposition, she did what most people do: she made rash decisions. I found her to be quite realistically portrayed. . . . Overall, I think this book was entertaining, well-researched, and a definite keeper. I am particularly pleased that the love scenes are not detailed and the main characters do not hop into bed together at the first opportunity. In fact, if you are looking for a book with sex, this is not the book for you. Everyone who enjoys the romance for the romance, give Joyce's books a chance. She does not disappoint.
Blog the Day Away
I really, really like this book. It’s set back in the day when people still lived in castles and knights were the coveted profession of the day. . . . Twists and turns and more twists and turns. Illuminations is a really exciting read. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out you get pulled in another exciting direction. All of it plausible and a whole lot of fun. . . . I highly recommend Illuminations of the Heart by Joyce DiPastena. A really fun read.
I was hooked by the second chapter. It’s a fun, simple, enjoyable read. It’s definitely a romance, full of sexual tension and forbidden love. But there’s also friendship, knighthood, thieves, and a little bit of mystery. . . . I couldn’t put the book down. I would definitely recommend it.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Okay, now that you know what mail is, take a look at this knight. See the armor that covers the upper part of his body? That's called the hauberk: a long tunic made of chain mail.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Over on my Medieval Research with Joyce blog, I have been discussing some of the source books I used to research the subject of illuminated manuscripts for my medieval romance, Illuminations of the Heart. But there was one book I forgot to mention until tonight, and I thought some of you JDP NEWS readers might be interested in it, too.
The books I cited previously on my research blog told me much about the art of medieval illumination. But this JEWEL of a children’s picture book shows, as well as tells. That’s the wonderful thing about using children’s picture books for research. They’re all about showing, as well as telling, which for the visually minded writer, can be a priceless gift.
Marguerite Makes a Book is just such a gift. Written by Bruce Robertson, with illustrations by Kathryn Hewitt, this book was published by the J. Paul Getty Museum to give museum goers, children and adults alike, a greater appreciation of some of the treasures contained in that museum.
Marguerite Makes a Book is a story of a young girl, the daughter of a medieval illuminator named Jacques, who is commissioned to create an illuminated prayer book for a beautiful noblewoman. But Papa Jacques is growing old, his hands now shake, his eyes are growing dim, and furthermore, he is injured in an unexpected accident. His family needs the money this book will bring, but how will the prayer book ever be finished in time?
Enter his daughter, Marguerite, who has grown up learning much of her father’s craft. Determined to save both the family income and her father’s reputation, Marguerite sets out to gather the materials necessary to finish “illuminating” the prayer book. We follow her, in both word and picture, as she travels into town to buy some necessary parchment; gathers feathers from which to make pens; purchases herbs and minerals to make paints, and even some sheets of gold leaf. Armed with all these ingredients, she returns to her father’s workshop and finishes the paintings her father is unable to complete. And we get to watch her along every step, thanks to Ms Hewitt’s beautiful illustrations! There is even a page pull-out section where Marguerite demonstrates how she makes each of the four paint colors she needs for her task: red, yellow, green, and blue (the latter made from that precious lapis lazuli mentioned in one of my Medieval Words of the Day).
The visuals in Marguerite Makes a Book are absolutely gorgeous. Many of the pages are bordered with designs similar to what one might find in an actual illuminated manuscript, with scrolling flowers, nesting birds, and little touches of shimmering gold paint (or an excellent imitation thereof) that gave the “illumination” to the “illuminated manuscript”.
This book should delight any child. But it should also delight any adult who would like to “see” as well as “read” about how books were illuminated in the Middle Ages.