Monday, December 30, 2013

My Favorite Reads of 2013 - Kathryn Knight

Reading is my absolute favorite pastime, and I'm absolutely never, ever without a book.  Before I got my Kindle, I was highly dependent on some type of reading light...and often amazed at how many friends' and family members' guest rooms were missing this necessary feature.  Cut to me in my p.j.s, creeping through houses late at night, stealing lamps from other rooms.  But how can I possibly go to sleep without reading a chapter or two?  Or ten?  Inconceivable.  To me, waiting for an appointment or a doctor running late is enjoyable...because I have my book.

Last year, I listed my favorite books of 2012 by their genre.  I'll do the same this year, pulling my favorite 2013 reads from my Goodreads list:

Historical Romance:  The Bronze Horseman series by Paullina Simons

The Bronze Horseman showed up on my Goodreads page as a suggestion based on my love for Outlander, Gone with the Wind, Pillars of the Earth, and The Winter Rose.  I had a few doubts when I started--WWII-era Leningrad does not have the same romantic flair as the Scottish highlands of the 18th century--but I am so, so glad I pushed through the opening scene as we meet the family and the Stalin regime announces the Soviet Union is at war.  I was literally captivated by this book.  Entranced.  Obsessed, even...I have found myself talking about it at parties on more than one occasion.  Every romance author knows conflict is key...and for a series, there needs to be multiple, believable conflicts.  Simons delivers this brilliantly, if painfully.  My heart aches for the characters and what they have to go through, and the horrors of war are brought to life by the author's attention to detail and meticulous research.  And yet throughout it all, a beautiful and poignant love between two amazing characters endures.  I'm almost finished with the second in the series, Tatiana and Alexander, and as soon as I'm done with this post, I'm headed anxiously back into their adventure. 

Psychological Suspense/Thrillers: Lexicon by Max Barry

This novel was recommended by several people I trust--otherwise, I'm not sure I would have tried it, based on the blurb describing a school that teaches the 'art of persuasion'.  But, these readers share my passion for certain other books, and their excitement had me interested.  And then the first page of Lexicon had me hooked.  This book is so much more than the description can even attempt to cover.  It's a page-turning thriller with dark humor, crisp dialog, powerful romance, ancient mystery, and a frightening look at the possibilities that arise from a dependence on technology and the ease of data collection.

Young Adult: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

I spent most of 2013 writing a YA paranormal romance manuscript.  So I tried to read a lot of YA romance novels along the way, to help keep me in the right frame of mind.  This one stood out for me by leaps and bounds.  The Sea of Tranquility was a stunning debut novel.  The usual "insta-love" cliché was deftly avoided, and the reader is allowed to enjoy the anticipation and tension between two compelling characters.  While this could result in slow pacing, Millay inserts enough hints at complicated backstories (and trickles the information in as the relationship grows) to keep the suspense level up.  These characters were highly developed and believable, the story original and brilliant, and the emotions were raw and authentic. A must-read for romance lovers.

Historical Fiction: Winter of the World by Ken Follett

This is the second book in the amazing Century Trilogy (Fall of Giants, set during WWI, came first).  Descendants of the families portrayed in Fall of Giants give the reader a look into the dramatic turmoil and destruction of WWII.  Winter of the World is historical fiction at its best, with no departure from the amazing level of intrigue and pacing that I've come to anticipate from Ken Follett. I learn more about history from his books than I ever did in school thanks to his exciting plot twists, interesting details, and character interactions. 

These novels are, of course, a fraction of what I read in 2013...but the books listed above are the ones that kept me glued to the pages late into the night...and thinking about the characters when I couldn't be with them.  Those are the hallmarks of a great read for me.  What were your favorite reads of 2013?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

New #Kindle? Fill it with #romance with a gift card #giveaway!

Did you get a Kindle for Christmas?  I did!  I'm so excited, I'd been using the free Kindle application for my laptop, and that method of reading e-books was getting cumbersome, to say the least.  I can't wait to fill it with my TBR list.  And I'm hoping my ghost story/romance novels SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR will land on some new Kindles this week as well!
SILVER LAKE was a 2013
Finalist in Paranormal
Romance at RomCon!

To celebrate the season and promote new reads, I'm giving away a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner.  You can enter no matter what your reading preference is by commenting below.  Earn EXTRA entries into the drawing by doing one or all of the following things (each gets an additional entry into my sophisticated paper-slip-out-of-a-hat selection system):

1.  Join this blog:  easy, just click the blue button over in the right hand column.
2.  LIKE my Facebook page:  Kathryn Knight books
3.  Follow me on Twitter:  @k_knightbooks
GULL HARBOR - a Kindle
Bestseller for 19 consecutive weeks!

If you do any or all of these (or have done in the past), make sure you let me know in the comment section below!  Visitors with Nook or iPad, I believe you can convert Kindle books into any format (or use the gc for anything from Amazon).  I'll draw a name on New Year's Day.  Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Get your #Kindle a Christmas gift! #romance & gift card #giveaway

My publisher is hosting a fun event on The Wild Rose Press blog.  Each day brings one or two holiday posts from our authors, with chances to win prizes.  In addition, an entry into the Rafflecopter on the main blog page gives you the chance to win one of 25- $25 gift cards for books!

My post is called "Christmas in Paradise"... last year, our gift to ourselves was just that, a trip to literal Paradise Island in the Bahamas to finally see the famous Atlantis resort.  We spent the holiday there, with our very best friends. 

To enter the Rafflecopter drawings, click this link:  The Wild Rose Press blog

To enter the Kindle (or Nook or pdf) SILVER LAKE giveaway, leave a comment below!

To receive more than one entry into the SILVER LAKE giveaway, you can LIKE my FB page  
and/or Join This Site (the blue button over to the right in the side column).

Good luck and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Our disastrous skiing weekend - Vacations gone wrong

I'm writing this blog post from the safety of our hotel room, because I refuse to go back out there.  Typing is a little difficult, since the fingertips of my right hand are numb with frostbite blisters.  And I can't move my upper body much, since my neck and shoulders have locked up.

Last night, as my friend cried in my arms in the hotel lobby, she said, "why do I think this is going to end up in your next book?"  I had to laugh, but so far both my novels take place in the sultry summertime, not at a freezing ski resort in Vermont on the coldest weekend of the year thus far.  But maybe if I set one in the winter in the future, I'll bring in some of the events of this past weekend. 

I'm not a huge fan of skiing to begin with.  My perfect vacation involves a great book, a warm beach, and a blender drink.  But I live in New England, and my husband and sons like to ski.  My husband and younger son are especially good.  We are friends with a ski-loving mom with two boys, and she suggested we all go together to their favorite ski resort.

Our first indication of trouble was the weather report.  A huge storm was predicted for Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning.  But we'd purchased lift tickets and rentals in advance, and it was too late to cancel our reservations without a fee.  We decided to just go.

We had to leave home on Friday evening, somewhat late since my husband's work scheduled a Christmas get-together for the afternoon.  I frantically packed, telling my 15-year-old son to make sure he had his winter coat.  Most of the time, he refuses to wear one.  But he found it (after pulling out a windbreaker and saying "is this it?") and I told him it was his job to bring it.

Four and a half hours later, we're unpacking the car at 10:30 at night.  My teenager is not wearing a coat, and it's negative 4 degrees outside.  When we tell him to go get it, he returns looking very upset.  He's forgotten it.  For a ski weekend.

My sons, after the borrowed gray coat arrived, before
the frost nip on the cheek appeared
Luckily our friend was leaving early in the morning, and she brought him an extra coat.  We could all laugh.  For a while.  The ski conditions were not good - icy and absolutely frigid.  The temperature at the top of the mountain was negative ten degrees.  After each run, we had to get inside to warm up.  My younger son had a suspicious-looking ribbon of red across his cheek which the medic deemed "frost nip".  We told him he was done for the day.

Why I didn't decide I was done for the day was beyond me.  I don't really like skiing.  It was bitter cold.  But I'd only had one run at that point (because I gave up my jacket for my son until the extra one arrived), and I wanted to get my money's worth.  I also wanted to do better, since my first run had been somewhat out of control.  Jokingly, I said I needed to "conquer the mountain" (from a green circle standpoint).

Me, still believing I was covered up enough
to head back to the top one more time

The ride on the ski lift was pure torture.  The biting wind cut through every layer of protection we had on.  We stopped at the halfway point and skied down.  Success - much better on my part.

Did I end it there?  Oh, no.  Because I wanted to take a picture from the very top.  A flipping picture.  One more run, I said.  My husband accompanied me all the way up, and I could barely feel my fingers, even inside my gloves, with hand warmers, by the time we got to the top.  I was so cold I had trouble grasping my poles.  At least that's what I'm going with, since what happened next was so absurd.  Somehow, I missed actually exiting the lift.  My husband pushed off, skied away, and I was still sitting on the lift, now looking at several feet between me and the snow below.  I only knew I didn't want to stay on that lift one more minute.  I panicked and jumped.  Yes, that's right, I threw myself off the lift, into the packed snow, and I faceplanted in what must have been hilarious from anyone else's viewpoint.  (This probably explains my locked neck muscles today).

Once I was up and my skis were back on, I said this is it, picture, down the hill, done with this.  Possibly forever.  My hand were already so cold, and what do I do?  I take off my glove to snap the picture.  My flesh froze so quickly I couldn't move my fingers.  I had trouble putting my phone back away, and I honestly couldn't close my fingers around the zipper of my pocket to zip it up.  My fingers simply didn't work.  Somehow I got my glove back on, got to my husband, and together we got the zipper up.  But the damage was done.  My hand was immobile, and I still had to get down the mountain.  Somehow I made it with no further spills.

Here's the picture that cost me my fingertips.  Worth it?

At the bottom, I raced right into the lounge and practically pushed everyone out of the way of the fire.  I tried to warm my hand, which is probably not the right thing to do.  My fingers burned with searing pain as blood tried to return to the damaged tissue.  We put in yet another call to the medic, but left before he got there.  Why, you ask?

Because my phone started ringing--it was my friend, calling from the mountain.  With the ski patrol.  Because her son had fallen off his snowboard and broken his arm.

She took him to the ER, we took her other son and went to dinner.  There was only one restaurant open in the resort, and it was very, very cold.  The manager came over and apologized profusely; it seemed the boiler had broken down.  Outside, the wind was whipping itself into a frenzy as the storm bore down on us.

Back in our room, I googled frostbite.  It seems I had a first degree case, blisters on my fingertips.  Reversible, thankfully.  I waited to hear from my friend, on her way back from the hospital to the resort.  She sent me a picture of her son, wearing a cast up to his shoulder.  He's a trooper, he was in good spirits.

However, her car is not 4-wheel-drive, and she began slipping along the back roads to the hotel due to the storm conditions.  She was getting very scared, and then she came upon a flipped SUV on the other side of the road.  Another car had stopped to help already.  Somehow she managed to keep her young son from seeing it, since he'd once seen an accident occur and had been traumatized for quite some time.  But once she got here safely and got him into their room, she called and asked me to meet her in the lobby.  There, she was free to cry without scaring her sons.  She's one of the strongest women I know, but the events of the day had taken their toll.

Aside from injuries, we were all safe and alive, though.  The emotions needed to come out so we could eventually try to laugh.  Which we did, over a glass of wine.  We don't know what happened with the flipped SUV, but someone had already stopped to help, and those cars are tough.  I'm praying everyone was belted in and that airbags deployed.

This morning, the storm is over, and conditions are perfect.  Lots of powder, no ice, and the temperature is up to a balmy 20 degrees above zero.  But I refuse to go back out there.  So here I sit, happy to have warm coffee in my damaged hand and a hot shower in my future.  Our friend's son with the cast is of course confined to his room as well, but he has his phone and a tv, and he's okay. 

I'm at my computer, working on the very last chapter of my third manuscript.  Which, ironically, I started last February on a ski vacation in Canada.  I'll probably finish ten months of hard work today.  So, in addition from some crazy incidents that will become funny memories, I'll have a completed Young Adult Paranormal Romance manuscript.  I'll take the good with the bad, and be grateful that our two families emerged with minor injuries that will heal, as well as some hilarious shared stories to eventually look back on.

Have you ever had a vacation turn into a disaster?  Feel free to share!

Monday, December 9, 2013

25 x $25 Gift Cards, #Free Cookbook, & 25% off #Sale - #Romance

Big things are happening on my publisher's website this month!  You can download our FREE 2013 "Holiday Garden Gourmet" Cookbook HERE...all you need to do is create a free account and download to your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or laptop (pdf file).  A bunch of the authors of The Wild Rose Press contributed to the cookbook, including yours truly.  My recipe, "Gull Harbor Diner Meatloaf", is really my mom's recipe, which everyone in our family loves.  Our theme this year was different regions, so you'll find author recipes grouped by country or culture.

Our The Wild Rose Press blog is hopping with holiday-themed posts going up twice a day.  There's a rafflecopter on our BLOG PAGE, so when you visit, you can enter to win one of 25 $25 gift cards to The Wild Rose Press website.  Those are pretty good odds, and since you'll already have your account from the cookbook download, you'll be able to start shopping for new romance reads immediately if you win!

Finally, all our digital titles are 25% off this month!  Load up your e-reader for the holidays HERE.  And of course, I'll suggest my suspenseful ghost stories/steamy romances - SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR.  You can click directly on the highlighted titles to take you to our TWRP website, and you'll see the blurbs and excerpts as well.

Happy holidays!  Take time out from the hustle to enjoy the season and treat yourself!

Monday, December 2, 2013

25 Days of Christmas - 25 x $25 gift card #giveaway #romance #TWRP

December is here!  To celebrate the upcoming holidays, my publishing house, The Wild Rose Press, is giving away twenty-five $25 gift cards to our online store, where you can purchase all genres of romance in any format you choose - print or e books.  Plus, each day in December leading up to Christmas, our TWRP blog will feature a holiday-themed post by one of our authors, some of which also offer additional prizes.  I've entered the link below, and the Rafflecopter entry can be found right at the end of the day's featured post:

With 25 winners, the odds are pretty good!  Enter to win, and remember to grab copies of SILVER LAKE and GULL HARBOR with your gift card if you enjoy paranormal romance and romantic suspense - both novels are suspenseful ghost stories spiked with steamy romance.  Good luck!