Friday, April 30, 2010

Take Me Away by Kimberly Fisk

Recently, I received an email from a reader named Cindy. Like so many of us, Cindy is facing some life challenges. In her email, she explained how reading romances provided her with a couple hours of escapism. How books helped to “take her away.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done this exact same thing. How, when life gets hard, I reach for a romance novel knowing the characters and story will take me somewhere else. Take me to a place where good always triumphs over evil. Where love really does conquer all. And a happily ever after is guaranteed (after a bit of work on our hero & heroine’s part, of course!!)

::sigh: It doesn’t get any better than that.

But it’s not only when life throws me a curveball that I reach for a romance novel. Quite the opposite, in fact. I read all the time. When life is good…bad…and anywhere in between. I love discovering new authors, reading current releases from established favorites, and revisiting those treasured books that hold a special place on my Keeper Shelf. For me, romances are not only timeless…they are for all times.

How about you? Are you a voracious reader like me? Someone who reads through all of life’s highs and lows? Or, are you like Cindy? Someone who has a stack of romances waiting for them when they need that “take me away” read? What books have you read lately that you really enjoyed? Or, is there a special romance sitting on your nightstand, waiting for you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!! And for those of you who leave a comment, you will be entered to win an autographed copy of my debut release, Lake Magic, and a bookstore gift card. But wait, that’s not your only chance to win! If you visit my website (www.KimberlyFisk.com) and sign up for my newsletter, you will be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of Lake Magic and a $20.00 Starbucks gift card.

Warmly,
~Kimberly



INTERVIEW WITH KAYLIN MCFARREN

1. Hi Kaylin. Thanks for coming today. Can you give us a brief bio?
Although I wasn't born with a pen in hand like so many of my talented fellow authors, I've been actively involved in both business and personal writing projects for many years. As the director of a fine art gallery, I assisted in furthering the careers of numerous visual artists who under my guidance gained recognition through promotional opportunities and in national publications. After a seven-year commitment, I was eager to spread my own creative wings and chose to direct my energy toward writing novels. To my delight I earned more than a dozen literary awards and was a 2008 finalist in the prestigious RWA® Golden Heart contest.

2. Where do you believe your interest in writing comes from?

Actually, I’ve always had an active imagination, probably my Irish roots burrowing into my brain. For most of my life, I was an avid romance reader, longing to slip into Jane Austen’s corset.
I tried my hand at poetry and writing short stories…anything to express my love of the written word. In high school and college, a few of my short stories actually ended up in school publications, but for the most part, they were tucked away in various drawers. As time went by, I married and was fortunate enough to travel to exotic places, meeting remarkable people, each with a unique story to tell. And along the way, I found inspiration and plenty of ideas to now channel into what I hope will be a long series of entertaining books.

3. Could you tell us about your writing process?
Strangely enough, I dream up my stories – literally from beginning to end. I make notes, create a rough draft, and set to work on developing my characters. I actually design a notebook for them with photos, habits, flaws, birthdays, backgrounds, the works. Then it’s a matter of putting them into my scenes and turning them loose. The more challenges they face, the more fun it is to write about them. And before I know it, they’ve fell in love, overcome obstacles, and are preparing for the next hurdle – perhaps a little stronger and wiser and definitely more intriguing.

4. I understand you have a debut novel which was recently released. Where did you find the inspiration for this story?

Flaherty's Crossing was originally inspired by my father who passed away on July 15, 1991 with the love of his life at his side. His Irish wit, stubbornness, and the bravery he exuded during his relentless battle with terminal cancer sparked the idea for a novel. Not only does this faith-seeking tale delve into the complex emotions of bidding a final farewell to an estranged parent, but it also explores the strain placed on a marital relationship when childhood issues go unresolved.

5. Thanks for dropping by today, Kaylin. Can you tell us where we can find more information about your books?

I actually have two websites which provide book summaries, a video trailer, excerpts, reviews, direct buy links, photos, and lots of other goodies including information about Kaylin's Cause – a cancer research project that my book proceeds is funding. Just visit http://www.kaylinmcfarren.com/ and http://www.flahertyscrossing.com/
Thank you!
Kaylin McFarren

www.twitter.com/4kaylin
www.facebook.com/kaylin.mcfarren
www.myspace.com/kaylinmcfarren
kaylinmcfarren.wordpress.com

Leave Me Breathless by HelenKay Dimon

LEAVE ME BREATHLESS
by HelenKay Dimon
Kensington Brava
March 2010
ISBN 9780758229076

PERMISSION TO APPROACH

According to Judge Bennett Walker, trying to kill him is a dumb idea. They might make him wear a big black nightgown to work, but it covers a lot of muscles, and he’s definitely packing beneath it. He’s also an ex-prosecutor and an ex-GI Joe. So when his brother brings in Callie Robbins to protect him, Ben has a few issues. First, he doesn’t need a bodyguard. Second, she’s a 130-pound girl—more smoking hot than smoking gun. And third, what if his body wants her guarding the night shift?

Callie has no problem brushing aside Ben’s disbelief. She left the FBI to escape the boys’ club, but she can be deeper undercover and twice as lethal as any beefy John Doe. As for whether someone’s after Bennett or not, the death threats and car bombs look pretty convincing to Callie. Of course, she might get distracted, sitting inches from the sexiest judge in DC for ten hours a day. Keeping him safe is no picnic. Keeping it professional—that might be impossible.

This title is sure to be a surprise favorite with fans of Janet Evanovich and readers of light suspense." -Romantic Times

"...great dialog, sexy heros and an interesting plot keeps readers engaged. This isn't one to miss." -Roni, Romance Book Scene

"If this continues, HelenKay Dimon is going to become one of my favorite authors...With Leave Me Breathless there’s not only a fantastic main story, but a terrific secondary romance as well." -The Good, The Bad and the Unread


Do you buy books based on back cover copy, the cover, reviews, or on the recommendation of friends? Inquiring minds *really* want to know. :)


HelenKay Dimon is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. Her first single title, Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine in August '07 and spotlighted at E! Online. She made Cosmopolitan a second time in December 2009 with her novella "It's Hotter At Christmas" from the Kissing Santa Claus anthology. Her books also have been published by Doubleday Book Club and Rhapsody Book Club and translated into several languages. After twelve years as a divorce lawyer specializing in unhappy endings, HelenKay now writes romance for a living. She thinks of herself as a "recovering lawyer" and is grateful every day for the ability to write full time.

Guest Blogger - Tricia Jones

Men in Black

It seems I’m addicted to dark-clothed heroes. Okay, not much of a problem you might say, but when an editor pops a little note alongside the manuscript she’s editing and asks “doesn’t he have shirts in any other colour?” it might be time to revaluate my heroes’ wardrobe choices.

My current heroine is into colour. She categorises the heroes personality and mood through an analysis of the colours he chooses to wear—something which irritates the hell out of him J. According to her, his choice of dark colours (yep, some habits are hard to break) indicates his need to dominate and control and his craving for power.

Dark clothing on a man certainly makes a bold statement. It hints at mystery, danger, strength, authority and an untouchable quality that warns “approach me if you dare, but brace yourself for the consequences”. It’s sexy and sophisticated—formal, elegant, and prestigious—think dinner suit/black tie a la James Bond, especially in the guise of Timothy Dalton. Yum.

In movies the bad guy wears black, but so does the sexy bad boy. One of the first men to set my teenage heart a-flutter was Yul Brynner in The Magnificent Seven, while more recently I’ve palpitated to the likes of Gerard Butler as the black cloaked Phantom of the Opera, Christian Bale as Batman and, of course, there’s Dracula in his many screen guises. The vampire is perhaps the quintessential man in black—sexy, smouldering, dangerous. Here in the UK, we have a feast of dark clothed bad boys on TV. Aidan Turner as the vampire Mitchell in Being Human, Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood…the feast goes on. As for my addiction? I’d rather give up chocolate than my dark-clothed guys. And that’s saying something.

How about you? Who’s your favourite Man in Black?

http://www.tricia-jones.com
http://www.tricia-jones.blogspot.com
http://twitter.com/Tricia_Jones

Short Bio:

I love writing contemporary romance with sexy alpha males and the strong women who bring them to their knees. I've got one of those alphas at home, at least he likes to think he is :) It’s the best fun writing romantic fiction and letting all that passion flow from my fingers via the keyboard and onto the page. It's a tough job but I'm woman enough to handle it J

Writers in their "Downtime" by Susan Meier

One of the newbees on a published-author loop recently asked us what we do in our downtime. She’d been “bought” the year before and in that time had written another book and an anthology. Now she had a proposal in and she wondered what she should do. She wanted to know what we did in our downtime.

The answers from the authors on the loop were great! Two authors traveled. Seriously traveled. LOL One had planned a trip to Thailand! Now that sounds like fun.

One author wrote books and articles for other companies. Still another wrote things she didn’t think would ever get published. They were works she used to stretch her creativity and her imagination.

But most of us did promo work.

While waiting to hear from my editor one DAY, I wrote my ezine (which comes out during the months in which I have a book being released), I updated my website, wrote blogs, wrote ads for two books to be released this summer. I posted excerpts of my books and recipes on two other blogs I run in conjunction with my website, and posted replies to other peoples’ blogs! I practiced a workshop I’m giving live next weekend. Wrote a workshop. And put up 2 lessons of a workshop I’m teaching online.

I did all this while calling my doctor, finalizing my taxes, picking out new siding for my house, programming my GPS unit for a trip on Sunday to my son’s new house, paying the monthly bills, taking the online health survey for my insurance company, doing laundry and dishes, cooking, and cleaning up after the holiday.

I don’t get a lot of downtime between books. So when I get a day, even if I think that day might stretch into two or three, I have to get done absolutely everything that I can.

Lots of people gasp when they see my to-do list. Others shake their heads in awe. But the truth is most working women do this much work in a day, if not more! Especially if they have kids.
This is why I’m proud to be a romance novelist. The books we write typically end up in the hands of frazzled females, desperate for a few minutes of piece and quiet. Maybe some excitement. Maybe a little romance. I’m happy to provide it.

I understand what it’s like to be that frazzled mom. Even though my kids are grown, it wasn’t so long ago I was shuttling little ones to Little League or gymnastics.

And I’m not alone. Most authors understand what it’s like to be at the end of a very short rope.

That’s probably why so many readers love romance novels. Readers click with the books because they were written by women very much like them.


Susan Meier





MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, Har. Romance 7/10



MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, Har Romance 8/10



A BABY BENEATH HIS CHRISTMAS TREE, Har Romance anthology with Barbara Wallace!



Follow me on Twitter! http://twitter.com/susanmeier1

Cover Models & Hero Inspiration

I've got a little story for this cover model. Not all of you probably realize it, but I've got a shy bone. I don't like to travel alone and meeting strangers who are not readers (somehow people who read my books never feel like total strangers) can discombobulate me.

So, for my first ever RT Conference a few years ago, I roped my oldest sister into joining me. We went to sit down at our table during one of the lunches and CJ was already there. (The cover models had been asked to sit at different tables throughout the room.) I made my big sister sit next to him 'cuz I was too shy. He was a little wary at first; I think cover models get some pretty intense fans at the big romance dos. Anyway, by the end of lunch, my sister had us all chatting amicably. She'd got him convinced I wasn't a rabid middle-aged cover-bunny and she had me convinced I could talk to him even though he was something of a celebrity in my world. Go, big sisters!


While CJ is the last cover model for our Readers at Home Conference, don't despair. If you like a little bit of eye candy during your week. Tune in on Wednesday's for my Humpday Hotties, a Lucy Monroe blog favorite. :)

Friday's Contest Prizes & Special Guests

Friday's Special Guests:

Friday's Door Prize:
(Drawn from Registered Conference Attendees)
Signed copy of Marked by Elizabeth Naughton

Friday's Blog Post Prizes:
(Drawn from all comments made on Friday's blog posts.)
*Each prize listed below is a separate gift, which means there will be as many winners for today as prizes listed.
RAH Conference Swag Bag X 2
Totebag filled with books & goodies donated by Becke Martin (B&N.com, RBTB)
The Captain’s Wench (digital book) by Patti Shenberger
Signed copy of Suddenly One Summer by Barbara Freethy
Signed copy of For Business...or Marriage? by Jules Bennett
Signed copy of Bulletproof Bodyguard by Kay Thomas
Signed copy of Divorced, Desperate & Deceived by Christie Craig
Signed I’ll Be Slaying You ARC by Cynthia Eden
Signed copy of In the Warrior's Bed by Mary Wine
Signed copy of Kismet by Monica Burns
Signed copy of Watch Over Me by Lucy Monroe
Readers Choice (digital book) donated by Black Velvet Seductions
Signed Copy of Redeemed in Darkness by Alexis Morgan
Signed copy of Simon Says Mommy by Kay Stockham
Copy of Kincaid's Call (Digital Book) by Leigh D'Ansey

*All prize winners will be announced in a single post on Sunday!*
No attendee shall be awarded more than 1 Blog Post Prize

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Writing Gay; On Living Gay by Rick Reed

"Years ago it would have caused me great pain to even write the word gay on paper to describe myself... Writing has allowed me to change my self-hatred and doubt into true self-esteem and self-love." --The late E. Lynn Harris in his 2003 memoir, What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

Wow. I was just having a little breakfast, a copy of Entertainment Weekly devoted to celebrities who has passed during 2009 open before me on the table when I came across that quote. To say it resounded would be putting it mildly. It was like someone had stepped into my own mind and eloquently sorted the emotions, memories, fears, joys, and hopes brewing there and instilled them into a few spare, eloquent words.

I am like E. Lynn Harris. Beyond being gay men and writers, I don't know how much else we have in common. But I have traveled that same territory of self-loathing Harris describes. For so many years, I wore a mask and hid my true self in a closet. For most of my young adulthood, I was a married man, associated only with other straight people, and did not know what the inside of a gay bar looked like. I pondered checking out those vile groups that profess to change gay people into straight. I saw therapists, one of whom told me I could change and that my attraction to my own sex was simply my longing for the loving father I never had. My journey told self-acceptance was long and rough, and it pains me to think I was not the only one hurt on that journey. It now either makes me shake my head, laugh, or cry, when I hear people talk about the gay "lifestyle" or that being gay is a choice or a preference. When I think of how hard I struggled not to be gay, it's hard for me to fathom how someone could view this as a choice. These narrow-minded souls have only themselves to ask the question: when did you make the decision to be straight?

Harris's quote made me think about all of the above and why, today, my stories revolve almost exclusively around gay characters. And, with one exception, most of those stories show gay characters for whom sexuality is simply a part of their lives and not their exclusive reason for being. I try, with my work, to affirm my gay characters and to give them lives worthy of respect. It is only my gay villains--twisted, tortured souls--do I demonstrate not that being gay is unhealthy or wicked, but that not loving oneself can be incredibly damaging. I think that's why some of my gay antiheroes, such as serial killer Timothy Bright in IM, want so much to be understood because they are beyond understanding themselves.

In my ebook short, Through the Closet Door, I write about a young man who was, very much like myself, in a straight marriage with a woman he loves (emphasis here is important) who struggles to accept something he doesn't want but can't escape. Toward the end of that story, he begins, just barely, to love himself for who he is and not who he thinks he should be.

It's been about twenty years since I was a young man similar to the one in that story, and I think the reason the quote I began this blog with resounds so much with me is that I never realized until today how much the things I write have enabled me to grow and develop not only as writer, but as a gay man. I can see how my increasingly turning to gay themes and characters has mirrored my own self-acceptance. I am lately writing a lot about love, and romance has taken a huge role even in my horror/suspense stories. That, I think, is more of a statement than I realized.

I have finally cast aside the chains of self-loathing that once bound me. I no longer hide that I am a gay man. And maybe, just as important, I can stand proud and say, "I write gay fiction...exclusively. Because these are my people..."

---------------------
In their October 2006 issue, Unzipped magazine said: "You could call Rick Reed the Stephen King of gay horror." And Dark Scribe magazine said: "Reed is an established brand - perhaps the most reliable contemporary author for thrillers that cross over between the gay fiction market and speculative fiction." To date, Reed has twelve published novels to his credit, and his short fiction has appeared in more than 20 anthologies. His novel, ORIENATION, won the EPPIE Award for best LGBT novel of 2008. He lives in Seattle, WA.

Rick's Homepage
Rick's Blog
Check out Rick's latest book, the heart-pounding child abduction thriller, MUTE WITNESS.

A New Publishing Venture by Karen Van der Zee

READERS, HARK! Here’s good news: A group of multi-published authors recently launched AWritersWork.com, an authors-owned site that offers books in e-book format at relative low prices.

AWritersWork.com publishes books in various genres and categories – romance, suspense, women’s fiction, short-story anthologies, non-fiction and more. You’ll find newly released back-lists, as well as original fiction and non-fiction.

It’s a jungle out there in the book publishing world and it’s becoming ever more difficult to navigate for writers and readers alike. Readers are often frustrated because they can’t find back-list titles of their favorite authors, and authors often have no way to get them to their readers other than placing them on commercial e-book sites and leaving behind a large percentage of the sales price.

Writers love to write stories. They also need to make a living. Like other mortals, they have to eat a meal now and then. They have mortgages and kids to put through college. So a group of professional authors got together and came up with the idea of launching their own site to sell their books, out-of-print titles as well as new work.

The AWW site itself is designed to be self-sustaining, not to make profit like commercial e-publishers. After expenses for the website and costs associated with selling, income from sales goes to the author. This is good for the author, obviously. It’s good for the reader because we can now keep prices lower than the ones on the sites of commercial e-book publishers. To keep the quality of the books high, participation in the site is by invitation only, and only commercially published authors are considered for participation. All authors retain the rights to their work. All works are protected by copyright laws.

Getting the site off the ground was quite a safari and the leader of our launching tribe, Patricia McLinn deserves laud and praise for all her efforts.

AWritersWork.com is a work in progress. More authors have expressed their interest and the site will grow and more books will be offered as time goes on. So have a look around and see if there’s something of interest for you there. And come back often!

And to add a little shameless self-promotion, here are my two titles for sale on the site: THE PRICE OF A MAN, a light-hearted contemporary romance, an original AWW publication & You’re Moving WHERE?!, a humorous non-fiction book about the authors (mis)adventures living in foreign countries, an original AWW publication.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Karen van der Zee is the globetrotting author of 34 romance novels published by Harlequin Books, many of them set in exotic locations. As Miss Footloose she writes about her (mis)adventures living in foreign countries on her blog LIFE IN THE EXPAT LANE.

Behind the Scenes of Angel's Bay by Barbara Freethy

The idea for my new ongoing contemporary Angel's Bay Series came from a beautiful drive down the Pacific Coast Highway of California. Driving along the wild, rugged Central Coast, I learned about shipwrecks and deep ocean canyons where wrecks could literally disappear for centuries until the tides shifted. I thought how fun it would be to create a fictional town along the coast that was tied to a shipwreck ...

I went on to create a history for the town. The ship, which was called The Gabriella, was traveling south from San Francisco, overloaded with people fleeing the ebbing California Gold Rush in the 1850's. On board were a mix of cultures, families, single men who had been mining for gold, as well as the sailors themselves. When a horrific storm broke the boat apart, there weren't enough lifeboats, so many were lost in the ocean, some just yards from sanctuary. Tales of heroism and selfishness and other intriguing events play out in legends that continue today.

Those who made it to this beautiful protected bay founded a town called Angel's Bay in honor of their loved ones. Some of the women created a story quilt with each block telling the story of one of the survivor's or one of the lost families. These blocks and those stories are connected to the present day stories, echoing themes and decisions, made by some of my current heroes and heroines.

Once I had the history of the town, I started populating it with interesting people and places. As I went along I started seeing the community as a bit like Carmel on the California coast, which is a mix of small town charm and upscale sophistication. The people of Angel's Bay celebrate every holiday and event, so there's always something going on in town and once in awhile the angels that allegedly watch over people in the bay have something to do with one of the stories.

Each of my books is stand alone with a new central story line, although some of the secondary characters continue. But I worked very hard to make sure no one would feel like they couldn't enjoy a book without reading the one before. Of course, if you want to read them all - I'd love it! The first book, SUDDENLY ONE SUMMER, came out last July. I have two books out this spring, ON SHADOW BEACH came out March 30th and IN SHELTER COVE arrives in stores on April 27th. AT WHISPER FALLS will be out next year.

What are some of your favorite small town series are and what do you like most about reading ongoing series set in one community?

Barbara Freethy is a RITA Award Winning and Bestselling Author of 27 novels. Excerpts, contests and more info can be found on her website at http://www.barbarafreethy.com/

Guest Blogger - Helen Scott Taylor

Celtic Mythology

My current series is contemporary fantasy and one of my favorite parts about writing fantasy is creating the world and especially the characters who populate the world.

Living in the UK, I concentrate on Celtic mythology as I have so much real Celtic history right on my doorstep. In each book of my series, I take my characters to different parts of the UK where they get involved with different types of fairy beings.

The home base for the characters in my stories has so far been Cornwall, mainly because I live in South Western England near Cornwall, which has long been my favorite part of the UK. When I searched the local folk law for a unique Cornish fairy race, the Cornish piskies stood out as the most fascinating. Existing stories describe piskies as small, but I used some creative license and made them human sized.

In the Magic Knot, the first book in the series, my characters had to face the cantankerous Irish Fairy Queen, who is Tuatha dè Danaan. These noble Irish fairies are trooping fairies who live in a group, and are described as tall and beautiful, descended from Greek gods—an ideal bloodline for my heroes! But I couldn’t visit Ireland without including leprechauns. So just to make sure the heroes of the first two books in my series aren’t too cocky, I gave them some leprechaun blood to deal with.

In The Phoenix Charm, I sent my hero and heroine to the beautiful rural corner of the UK called Wales. Welsh myth and legend contains tales of a Welsh Fairy King called Gwyn ap Nudd, who as well as being a fairy king, is also the King of the Underworld. The Welsh fairies called the Tylwyth Teg are tall with pale blonde hair and a nasty reputation. People believe they steal human children from their beds and replace them with changelings.

I also introduce an Arabian djinn character into The Phoenix Charm to add another element of mythology. I love layering in different types of mythology to enrich my fairy world.

For more details or to read an excerpt of The Phoenix Charm or The Magic Knot go to http://www.helenscotttaylor.com/

Magic by Gabi Stevens

Have you ever wished you could solve your problems with a wave of a wand?

Sounds simple, right? But have you considered what having powers would mean? Would you want to advertise your abilities and then be swamped with requests from your neighbors? Or worse, maybe be taken by the government for use in experiments (that is if you believe in conspiracy theories--hey, it’s something to consider)?

That’s why the magic in my book, The Wish List, comes with rules. When Kristin Montgomery discovers her three aunts are fairy godmothers and she’s next in line for the job, her orderly life as a CPA disappears like magic. No, not like magic; it is magic. Moreover, her sudden magic powers come with a reluctant arbiter who will judge if she’s qualified to be the next godmother. That’s pressure she didn’t need.

The Arcani (those are the humans with magic) live among the Groundlings (the humans without magic) and try to keep their abilities and society secret. Let’s face it; you wouldn’t want your neighbor stopping by at the first sign of spring to zap their lawn ready for the season as a favor. But in my world, nothing comes without a cost. I can’t picture magic being as easy as, say, breathing. Even walking, which we do everyday, does require energy and calories (Speaking as someone who just recently started walking to work, one mile in each direction, I’m huffing and puffing by the time I get home, but hey, it’s all uphill, and I haven’t exercised in a couple of years. I have other excuses. You want to hear them?). And while walking can become easy, what happens if you have to run? Or swim? Or play basketball? In my world, you have to build up your magical muscles as well as your regular ones, and the bigger the spell, the more energy it takes. And if you’re a beginner, you won’t be able to do much. Even if you’re a Rare One. Like Kristin.

But the idea of having powers is something I can totally relate to. No, I’m not claiming magical powers, but when I was a child I always played games where I had powers. And I always read books where magic played a role. Those were my favorites. Books like the Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, Half Magic and its series by Edward Eager, Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key, The Phoenix and the Carpet and all the other books by E. Nesbitt, the entire Oz series by L Frank Baum, and so many more. When I turned to writing paranormal, those are the books I remembered. While I love the darker paranormals--the vampires and werewolves--my heart lies in another direction.

Although my books are fiction, I have to share with you magic I have witnessed and experienced in the real world. When I'm writing, I always doubt that I can fill one page much less the thirteen through twenty that constitute a chapter. Even when I know what's going to happen, I doubt that the finished product will have enough pages to complete a novel, especially since I am a short writer to begin with (And that has nothing to do with height). And then I start writing. Basically I'm just describing the pictures in my head and transcribing the dialogue I hear there. Not that it's a smooth and easy process. Sometimes the "film" breaks, or the projectionist takes a break, or the film is fed into the machine (Yes, this is old fashioned stuff here--no DVD's) incorrectly so the film isn't clear or runs ratchety. But the pages grow, and I am always amazed by how much I get on paper. Soon I worry that I'm going to overrun the chapter by five or six pages, because there's always so much more to tell. But eventually it always works out and my novel is complete and just the right length.

I call this the Magic. The story keeps playing in my head and all I have to do is get it on paper. Or computer if we're trying to modernize the process here. Especially when the words flow, or neat new twists appear on the pages, twists that I had no idea would happen. My husband scoffs at my calling this magic, but I believe. And when I read a book filled with events and characters I know could never happen in real life, yet I believe, this too is Magic.

I hope my novel, The Wish List, can make you believe in Magic as well.


--Gabi Stevens
http://www.gabistevens.com/

Cover Models & Hero Inspiration

We readers and authors love our hero inspiration. Here's another gorgeous male for Day 4 of our Readers at Home Conference!


This man looks like a Sicilian billionaire, doesn't he? He's the hero inspiration for Luciano in The Sicilian's Marriage Arrangement, released as a single title Harlequin Showcase with Julia James' The Greek's Virging Bride May 11, 2010!

Thursday's Contest Prizes & Special Guests

Thursday's Special Guests:

Thursday's Door Prize:
(Drawn from Registered Conference Attendees)

Signed copy of In Bed With a Stranger by Mary Wine

Thursday's Blog Post Prizes:
(Drawn from all comments made on Thursday's blog posts.)
*Each prize listed below is a separate gift, which means there will be as many winners for today as prizes listed.
RAH Conference Swag Bag X 2
Flaherty's Crossing T-shirt donated by Kaylin McFarren
Signed copy of Lake Magic by Kimberly Fisk with a B&N Gift Card
$15 online gift certificate to Lush & Just Right (digital book) by Erin Nicholas
Signed copy of The Laird's Lady by Patti Shenberger
Signed copy of Love, Unexpectedly by Susan Lyons
Readers Choice (digital book) donated by Black Velvet Seductions
Signed copy of Nowhere to Run by JL Wilson
The Gift Horse (digital book) by Jami Davenport
French Kiss by Cherie Le Clare (digital book) donated by Leigh D'Ansey
Signed copy of Knight of Pleasure by Margaret Mallory
Signed copy of The Power of Love anth donated by Lucy Monroe

*All prize winners will be announced in a single post on Sunday!*
No attendee shall be awarded more than 1 Blog Post Prize

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Decisions, decisions by Jenna Bayley-Burke

What would you do if you had to pack up all your books? All of them. Jenna Bayley-Burke faced down this unmentionable terror, and has come up with an action plan for future unspeakable horrors...

We spent our summer selling a house, looking for a house, and moving. The sale and the move did not line up. To the kids, I played our temporary homelessness off as a big adventure, a vacation even. But what terrified me was my lack of books.

Reading is my comfort, my escape...OK, maybe my addiction. A bookshelf (or three) crammed full of titles to be read and already loved brings a peaceful contentment to my life. A world where the only thing to read is the room service menu and the obligatory King James made me itch.

So, I managed to sneak a few books into our cramped suitcases and hotel room. I couldn't stop myself. But it got me thinking, there has to be a better way. (Insert head thwack here.) Ebooks!

I'll always crave a cup of tea, a cozy chair, and a paperback whose pages turn. But it's not exactly on par with my life right now. I'm on the go, toting kiddos here, there, and anywhere, and my books get ruined more than they get read. (Yes, I'm one of THOSE who doesn't like to bend the spine or curl the corners of pages) What if I had something I could leave in my purse (or diaperbag, or minivan) that had a virtual library at my fingertips?

I've been shopping, trying to decide exactly what will work best for me.

Kindle? Great features, no versatility.

iPod Touch? This one has me hooked, but the small screen isn't reeling me in just yet. It can do so many things, plus it has a touch screen...and it fits in your pocket...and it has wifi, internet, email, games, calendar, weather, calculator, music, photos...not sure I could read a whole book on that screen, though...

iPad? Ay, carrumba! The price! But I did get to tinker with one and I love that you can turn it sideways and read two pages at a time. Yes, the device does thousands of things, and that’s the one that impressed me.

Nook? I think these are the cutest of all the e-reading devices. Plus, it would read ebooks I can check out from my library. Can’t do that with the Kindle or iPad/iPod.

Sony Reader? This seems to react best to multiple formats for ebooks, but it doesn't have a touch screen...

Sony Touch? Adds in the touch screen, but not all the apps of the Apple models.

Sony Daily? Sony's answer to Kindle...with a Kindle sized price...

Decisions, decisions...


Any ebook reader owners out there care to chime in?

Jenna is typing away on a sexy reunion story. In the meantime, Compromising Positions is available with chocolate, Kama Sutra yoga, a decade old crush and a steady addiction to sugar. To find out what Jenna is up to now...check out her website or blog.

THE ALLURE OF FOREIGN SHORES by Nicola Marsh

I’m an avid reader. I devour books; have ever since I was a kid.
I read widely, across genres and could happily spend a day/week/month curled up with my nose in a book. For me, part of the appeal of reading is getting engrossed in another world, being so absorbed in the characters’ lives that I’m almost there alongside them, laughing and crying and feeling their pain.
It’s sheer pleasure to be swept up in the fantasy as I turn the pages, eager to reach the end yet reluctant to do so because I love the story so much.

So what helps sweep me along?

The setting.

I’m a sucker for an exotic setting, a place that brings the book alive.

How many of you have read a book set in Paris and can see the Eiffel Tower? A Roman book with the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps? Venice with its charming waterways and gondolas? Mention a city in the world and someone will have an instant mental image of what that place is like.

That’s what I hoped to evoke with my Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award finalist for Best Harlequin Romance, A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON.

Set in India, I wove the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of this magical country through the book and by the feedback, readers loved it! Whether it wins or not (Lucy, you’re on the spot so we want instant updates please!) I hope I brought a little piece of India alive for those who delved into the book.

Do you have any favourite settings around the world?

I’m giving away a signed copy of this RT finalist book, A TRIP WITH THE TYCOON, to a commenter chosen at random.

Want to know more about where I set my books? Visit my website at www.nicolamarsh.com

Happy armchair travels!
Nicola

Nicola is a USA TODAY, Waldenbooks and Bookscan bestseller, has published 24 books with Harlequin Romance & Modern Heat/Presents series and sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide.
A physiotherapist for 13 years, she gladly traded in manipulating patients’ backs for manipulating the intriguing characters she loves to create!
She blogs daily at http://www.nicolamarsh.blogspot.com and can be found networking on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace way too often!

Her upcoming releases are:

THREE TIMES A BRIDESMAID...(Harlequin Romance) UK May, USA June
OVERTIME IN THE BOSS'S BED (Harl. Modern Heat) UK May, USA June
DESERTED ISLAND, DREAMY EX! (Harlequin Romance) UK & USA September




Guest Blogger - Mary Wine

Hello Everyone!

Spring is in the air and that means that I am off to renaissance fair with my family. I met my husband during one and we spent a lot of effort getting ready every spring for the event that happens near our home. But I find that I get some of my best ideas for historical romance during these days. I make my own costumes, studying portraits and historical tailoring notes. It fascinates me...the way people lived and loved during the ages past. We've even camped all weekend long 'period' style and it was quite a learning experience.

I hope the flowers are blooming everywhere and that you get the chance to indulge your passions! My latest book was 'In the Warrior's Bed' and it was a follow up to 'In Bed With A Stranger'. These are scottish romance set in 1600.
Hugs!

In The Warrior's Bed-

He was, too. It stunned her, such caring from a man her father called enemy. There was honest sincerity in his eyes and it made him far more attractive than she’d already decided he was. It was so tempting to sink into that feeling and allow it to wrap around her. But how did she trust this man who had hauled her away from her family? She was his prize, nothing more.
“I won’t marry ye.” It was the only threat she held. His eyes narrowed when her words hit him.
“Then ye’ll watch our first child be baptized a bastard.”
Bronwyn gasped. She reached out before her stunned mind started working again, her hand delivering a sharp slap to his arrogant face. The sound was startling in the quiet room, but Cullen grinned at her, sending her temper into a full blaze again.
“That is a mean-hearted thing to say to a woman. It’s the mother that is called slut when a babe is born out of marriage.”
“Is that so?” His expression was guarded.
“It is.”
“And yet I am the one saying that we should marry now, afore our child is conceived.” He paused, running his eyes down her length to pause on her flat belly. “If ye refuse me, ye’ll have no one save yerself to blame when the gossips call ye a scarlet woman.”
Her eyes narrowed. The man was far too cunning, but she refused to be trapped by his scheme. “I am no planning on having yer child. Why do ye think I refused to tell ye my name? I am no interested in ye. Not a bit.” She propped her hands on her hips, making a stand that she couldn’t truly back up. If the man was of the mind to force himself on her, there was little she might do to stop him. A twinge of something that felt like disappointment pierced her heart. She didn’t want to think of Cullen as a man who would rape her.
Which was ridiculous. The man had kidnapped her. She had no reason to think highly of him. Better to expect the worst; it would hurt less that way.
“No a bit?” His lips twitched, rising into another grin that annoyed her. “Well now, it seems to me that ye were blushing back on that hillside. Just like ye are now.”
She covered her cheeks with her hands and they were hot. “It is nae more than my temper.”
“’Tis much more.”
He reached out in a motion so fast she stumbled trying to avoid his hand. She straightened up against the wall, any further retreat impossible, and his arms plenty long enough to span the distance between their bodies. His hand pushed her loose, flowing chemise flush against her body. But he did it with absolute control. There was no bite of his superior strength, only perfectly applied pressure. He cupped one breast, his thumb gliding across the hard point of her nipple.
“If ye are nae interested, why is yer nipple hard?”
His opposite hand pressed flat against the wall behind her, caging her between his arms. The knowledge that he could handle her more roughly held her in place to preserve the small distance he granted her. She stiffened as his thumb rubbed her nipple. Never once had she believed that so small a touch, so tiny a contact between two people, might spark such a torrent of sensation. It flooded her, shaking her with its intensity.
“I am cold, ye daft man. Ye stole me in my chemise.”
And she was a liar, god forgive her.
“I’ve noticed that, fair Bronwyn. ‘Tis the truth that I’ve enjoyed the sight of ye.” His lips formed a sensuous expression that was sinfully carnal. “It kept me alert all night long knowing how bare ye were beneath that McJames kilt.”
“Exactly the sort of thing a blackard would say. Have ye no decency?” She sounded too desperate for her taste but she was running short on reasons to deny him. Her life at Red Stone was nothing so wonderful. A ragged breath shook her, warm delight flowing through her. It was for sure that no man wearing her father’s colors had ever made her blush.
“I’m not the one refusing to wed. I believe most would say that I’m behaving correctly by insisting that we go to church and marry. Before temptation gets the better of us both.”
He chuckled, leaning closer. She felt the brush of his breath against her lips now and her mouth went dry. His lower lip quivered in anticipation, her gaze lowering to his mouth as she wondered what his kiss would be like.
“It will be my pleasure to help ye warm up.” His voice was husky and dark with promise. His thumb moved once more across the top of her nipple. The hand on the wall moved, capturing the back of her head, his fingers threading through the strands of her unbound hair. Her hands sprang up between them, pushing against the hard wall of his chest.
He took her mouth, sealing her gasp inside. He tasted her lower lip with the tip of his tongue before invading her mouth. The hand on the back of her head held her in place while he tilted his to the side so that their lips met. She jerked in his embrace, out of sheer surprise. There were too many signals rushing through her, too many sensations to understand. When her back left the wall, his hand slid smoothly around her body. Her skin hummed with enjoyment, everywhere he held her. Beneath her hands, she felt the steady beat of his heart. Her fingertips joined her lips in discovering a bounty of pleasurable sensations that she’d never experienced before. His lips pressed hers open, demanding a deeper intimacy while he pulled her up against his body. Heat flared through her. She twisted, attempting to understand why she liked his kiss so much. Her body urged her to return it, move her mouth in unison, to taste him.
A soft moan got past their joined lips.
She was leaning back against the wall again a moment later. Cullen’s hands pressed flat on either side of her head, imprisoning her without touching her. A dangerous look flickered in his eyes, one that reminded her of a predator that needed only one move from her to trigger the instinct to pounce.
But he was breathing as hard as she was. She placed a hand on his chest before thinking about it, acting on the impulse. Her fingertips pressing against his warm skin and feeling the hard beat of his heart.
His blue eyes captured her gaze, locking and searching her eyes for a long time. Her heart slowed down from its frantic pace, but not all the way to normal. Excitement still pulsed through her, triggered by the scent of his skin.
She liked it…the way he smelled. Shocking, mysterious, and slightly overwhelming, but there was no denying that she found it attractive. The flare of hunger in his gaze mesmerized her. Her pride enjoyed knowing that she aroused him.
“Will ye marry me, Bronwyn McQuade?”
His voice was husky and rough. It tempted her with that edginess because the part of her that had lamented never having a husband, wanted to say yes.
But she refused to be another blow in a feud. It would be nothing but a way to strike at her sire, and her father would use it as an excuse to shed blood.
Possibly Cullen’s blood.
Pain nipped at her heart. The frustration of her entire life ripping and tearing at her conscience. There were no good choices, only ones that would hurt others.
“Ye have stolen me, and that is no way to begin a marriage.”
He snarled softly at her, his fingers curling. But she refused to take back her words.

The Story Behind the Book by Kay Stockham

I'm always amazed (even though I shouldn't be) at the generosity and willingness to help that can be found in the romance community. That goes for the readers as well.

Last year when I was researching Alaska, I found myself clicking away on the internet and shaking my head. While there was overwhelming amounts of information, I wasn't finding what I was looking for. I wanted an insider's look at Alaska, at bush planes and remote lodges and all the other 'stuff' that makes Alaska such an appealing destination for so many. So I sent out a few emails explaining who I was and what I wanted and once again I was overwhelmed by someone's generosity. A wonderful lady named Marlie not only returned my email, she answered dozens of emails, each with dozens of questions. She also sent photos and went above and beyond to help with my research for She's the One, my latest release with Harlequin Superromance and the fifth and final book in my Tulanes of Tennessee series.

RT gave She's the One 4 stars and praised the 'bird's-eye view of Alaska.' But I?ll readily admit it was a view Marlie provided with every answer and every photo she gave me permission to share with all of you.

When I asked for a photo of the type of planes flown into the bush, Marlie sent this:

One look at this picture and my heroine immediately developed a fear of flying in small planes.

Lake photos? Lodges? What did Alaska look like in the bush? Photo after photo arrived in my inbox. And when I asked about bears, well... Here's a photo Marlie simply titled "Lunch."

The bears are snacking on a whale that had beached itself.

Marlie was so gracious about sharing her experiences living and working in Alaska, and She's the One became richer and more detailed as a result. (Thank you, Marlie!)

I hope you'll take a moment to venture to my website at http://www.kaystockham.com/ and read the excerpt from She's the One.But before you do, I hope you'll tell me about someone who has gone above and beyond for you. A family member, a stranger.Your mechanic? Doctor? Friend?

Tell us about them. I'll choose a winner from those who post and they'll win an autographed copy of She's the One.

KayKay StockhamThe Tulanes of Tennessee Series-Five stories...five ways to fall in love.SHE'S THE ONE, March, 2010Look for a NEW Montana series coming soon!Want to win fabulous prizes? Check out http://www.kaystockham.com/ Friend me on Myspace & Facebook!

~ ~ ~ ~

Kay Stockham has always wanted to be a writer, ever since the age of seven or eight when she copied the pictures out of a Charlie Brown book and rewrote the story because she didn't like the plot. Through the years her stories have changed but one characteristic stayed true--they were all romances. Each and every one of her manuscripts included a love story. Published in 2005 with Harlequin Superromance, Kay's first release was a Waldenbooks Bestseller. Kay has also been a HOLT Medallion, Book Buyers Best and RITA Award finalist who has contracted fourteen books with Harlequin Superromance and a novella with Berkley Publishing. Born and raised in Kentucky, she now calls southern Ohio home. She shares her life with her husband and two teens, as well as two dogs who think they're human--and in charge.

Deadly Fear by Cynthia Eden

I Like To Be Scared

Hi, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying Lucy’s fantastic RAH Conference! I have to admit, I love a conference that I can attend in my PJs.

Today, I thought I’d talk a little bit about fear. Ah, yes…fear. I enjoy reading books that keep me on the edge of my seat. I love watching movies that scare me. I guess I’m a fear junkie. I just like to be scared.

So, when it came time for me to write my books, I incorporated that fear. I wrote about “real” monsters—vampires, demons, and shifters. I made my hero and heroine fear, and I enjoyed it. Hmmm…is that wrong?

But, then I decided that, quite often, the things that truly scare me aren’t vampires and demons (I rather enjoy them). Instead, is the normal guys who turn into serial killers—the neighbor next door who has his wife’s body in the freezer—it’s those guys who really scare me. I took that fear, and I used it to write a new romantic suspense series. And, since I am such a fear addict, the very first book in that series is DEADLY FEAR.

In DEADLY FEAR, the killer forces his victims to face their worst fears. Now, when it comes to fear, I do fear lots of things. Snakes, wolves, being buried alive. I incorporated a few of my big fears into the story. Maybe it was even semi-therapeutic for me (or maybe not).

It seems that many people fear snakes. Tons of people fear flying (me!), and many, many people are afraid that something will happen to the people they love. Do you fall into any of these fear areas? Or do you have more unusual fears?

Because I’d love to know what scares you. J

Hope you enjoy the rest of the RAH Conference!

Cynthia Eden
http://www.cynthiaeden.com/
I'LL BE SLAYING YOU--Available 06/29/10 from Kensington Brava
DEADLY FEAR--Available 08/1/10 from Grand Central Publishing (Forever)

Cover Models & Hero Inspiration

You wanted more cover models? More behind the man insights? We've got 'em!


Sly Bowden, gorgeous cover model and man with a big heart...find out why he calls himself SEASONED here on Borders True Romance blog. Did I mention, he's perfect inspiration for Captain Drew Peterson, a member of the Atrati (my new series from Brava) and introduced in Close Quarters, the final book (for now) in my Goddard Project series out in September?




Jason Santiago - Mr. Romance 2007 and an all around really nice guy. Read his interview on Borders True Romance Blog. Yum in every way! :)

Wednesday's Contest Prizes & Special Guests


Wednesday's Door Prize:
(Drawn from Registered Conference Attendees)
Signed Copy of Seducing the Enemy's Daughter by Jules Bennett

Wednesday's Blog Post Prizes:
(Drawn from all comments made on Wednesday's blog posts.)
*Each prize listed below is a separate gift, which means there will be as many winners for today as prizes listed.
RAH Conference Swag Bag X 2
Totebag filled with books & goodies donated by Sue Grimshaw
(Borders True Romance Blog)
Signed copy of Beyond the Rain by Jess Granger
Signed copy of Redeemed in Darkness by Alexis Morgan
A Signed Book by Nicola Marsh
(name drawn from comments on her blog today)
The Captain’s Wench (digital book) by Patti Shenberger
Signed copy of Stolen Seduction by Elizabeth Naughton
Signed copy of The Phoenix Charm by Helen Scott Taylor
Signed copy of Tease Me, Please Me by Kate Davies
Signed copy of Desert Nectar by Adele Dubois
Signed copy of Mistress by Mistake by Maggie Robinson
Signed copy of Kismet by Monica Burns
Readers Choice (digital book) donated by Black Velvet Seductions
Signed copy of Suddenly One Summer by Barbara Freethy
Signed copy of Tempt Me by Lucy Monroe

*All prize winners will be announced in a single post on Sunday!*
No attendee shall be awarded more than 1 Blog Post Prize

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Guest Blogger - Elisabeth Naughton

Thanks so much to Lucy for hosting the Reader At Home Conference this week! As an author who was supposed to be at RT but couldn’t make it due to a scheduling conflict (sob!!!) I for one appreciate this fun, interactive week she’s put together for all of us. I hope you’re enjoying it as well!

Someone asked me recently how I came up with the idea for my new paranormal series, The Eternal Guardians. The answer is simple – I love Greek mythology. Always have, probably always will. When I was writing STOLEN FURY – my debut book (and 2010 Double Rita® finalist!) – I immersed myself in the stories from ancient Greece because my main characters were on the hunt for three priceless relics of the Three Furies. At the end of that book, I knew I wanted to write something else that was Greek myth centered, and an off-hand comment on the Bradford Bunch blog about the heroes – you know, those sexy guys who were half god, half man - ignited an entire series.

Today, the first book in that series hits store shelves. MARKED is a dark, sexy paranormal about an Argonaut hero who has to find the one woman who unknowingly fulfills an ancient prophecy that will save his people from extinction. The catch? My bad boy hero falls for that woman. Big time. Even knowing she’s marked for sacrifice. What better conflict could there be? If you love paranormals, I hope you give MARKED a chance. And if you love my romantic suspense books, I hope you enjoy this one as well. Same voice, same fast-paced adventure style, whole new world.

Since today is release day and I’m giddy, excited and nervous as hell, please help take my mind off what’s happening in the book stores. Do you read paranormals? Who are some of your favorite authors in the genre? And what cross-over genre authors have you fallen in love with lately?

Behind or rather Beside the Writing by Erin Nicholas

Obviously, as a romance writer, I typically blog about writing… my writing, other people’s writing… but, there are things that go into my writing that aren’t just fingers on the keyboard, character sketches, and plot notes. There are some important things that make my writing work.

My imagination? No. My impressive vocabulary? Nah. My incredible grasp of story structure and character development? Nope.

Coffee. Definitely.

I always have a cup sitting beside my computer as I write. I love it. I love how it smells, how it looks (coffee mixed with just the right amount of cream is my favorite shade of brown), how it tastes.

Now, my father would tell you that what I drink shouldn’t be called coffee. It’s true that I like to add things in. Cream of many flavors (hazelnut is one of my faves), chocolate, caramel, cinnamon… not all at once but… though come to think of it maybe I should try that!

I grew up in a coffee house. Not a coffeehouse, as in Central Perk from Friends, but a house where nobody above the age of eighteen left the house without visiting the coffee pot at least once. But my mom and dad both drink it straight up, black, full caffeine, no watering it down.

I got my love of sweet coffee from my grandpa. Grandpa always stirred some sugar into his and he didn’t mind pouring a bit into our little teacups. I believed for years that coffee was naturally sweet! (imagine my surprise when I tried to sneak a sip of my mom’s one day… )

Well, now I’ve grown up and moved beyond just a teaspoon of sugar. Bring on the whipped cream, the marshmallows, the white chocolate! I’ve really tried to cut back due to the caffeine and calories, but cutting back and cutting out entirely are different things! Coffee is an essential part of my writing process.

So, rather than the writing, let’s talk coffee. Tell me about yours. Do you love it? Hate it? If you hate it, what do you drink instead? If you love it, is it straight up, loaded with goodies, somewhere in between? If you’re a soul-sister (or brother) and you like it loaded up like me, what’s the best you’ve ever had?
~Erin


Erin Nicholas has been reading and writing romantic fiction since her mother gave her a romance novel in high school and she discovered happily-ever-after suddenly went a little beyond glass slippers and fairy godmothers! She lives in the Midwest with her husband who only wants to read the sex scenes in her books, her kids who will never read the sex scenes in her books, and family and friends who say they’re shocked by the sex scenes in her books (yeah, right!).
For more information about Erin and her books, visit:
www.ErinNicholas.com
http://ninenaughtynovelists.blogspot.com/
http://samhainpublishing.com/authors/erin-nicholas

Gotta love an HEA by Elizabeth Amber

Why do so many of the famous romances in mythology and Shakespeare end tragically? Think Arthur and Guinevere or Romeo and Juliet. I write HEAs and I want to read them. I get really invested in characters and terrifically upset when things don’t work out well for them. When I was thirteen, I cried to the point of embarrassing myself in the theater over Romeo and Juliet. I do enjoy the occasional sad ending within a meaningful story. Time Traveler’s Wife, for instance. But I’ll read a book with an unhappy ending once and never again because I can’t take the sadness I know is coming. An exception to this is Gone with the Wind, which I read over and over. I think I convinced myself Scarlett and Rhett would get together later, beyond the final pages. So that was a hopeful ending, if not an HEA.

I don’t need unhappy endings. I’ve got enough tragedies in my life. They’re small ones, mostly. Things like the dentist telling me I need a crown, my cat deciding to barf on my bedspread, or walking out on my back patio and getting stung by a wasp. And the overall economic picture is pretty disturbing.

In real life, the economy happens. Small annoyances happen, and we roll with them. In real life, the initial thrill-ride of new love sometimes ends in divorce. Sometimes it evolves into relationship that lasts a lifetime. As time goes by, through the ups and downs of real life, these lasting loves usually become something warm and companionable, and a husband or partner isn’t so focused on us as they once were in those initial thrilling weeks when our love was new.

But every time I open a romance novel, the initial thrill of a new love is always there, all fresh and shiny. Waiting to be experienced and enjoyed.

My desire for an HEA is such that, before I buy a book, I check its final pages to see that the couple does wind up together. Authors gasp in horror when I reveal this, and my bf does as well. In fact, my bf contends that tragic endings are cathartic. But once I know all will be well, I’m mollified and am ready to start at a book’s beginning to find out how the story unfolds.

How about you? Are you a fanatic about HEAs, or will hopeful endings do just as well? Or do you relish tragic endings?


Elizabeth Amber is an archeology buff and a museum junkie. She’s the author of The Lords of Satyr erotic historical paranormal romances for Kensington Aphrodisia, about brothers who guard ancient secrets in their Tuscany vineyard, circa 1800s. Romantic Times Book Reviews said this about Nicholas: “The leading man is the sexiest one this reader has seen in a long time!” Her June release is Dane, The Lords of Satyr.
Read an excerpt at: http://www.elizabethamber.com/
E-newsletter group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ElizabethAmber/

THE GOOD STUFF By Diana Duncan

Starting out as a newbie writer, I gleaned my most valuable piece of advice from an online “how to” article. I wish I could remember who the author was, but I’ll never forget what she said: “Don’t hoard the good stuff.”

Taking that to heart, I have poured every emotion, every twist, every creative spark into every single story…as if it were my only book. My final book.

Because you just never know.

When my best friend’s mother-in-law “Mary” died, it fell to my friend to clean out Mary’s house. What she found was shocking, and sad. Literally hundreds of Christmas, birthday and Mother’s Day gifts – new appliances, brightly-colored quilts, soft sweaters…all untouched. For decades, Mary had been “making do,” using faded bedding and tablecloths, half-broken appliances, and wearing ragged clothing.

She’d been hoarding the good stuff.

And after Mary died, all her lovely things were given away for others to use.

That was a huge wake-up call. Because while I never hesitated to pour my best into my writing, I’d been short-changing myself in many other ways.

My mom’s emergency open-heart surgery hammered home the point. It was a scary time and we nearly lost her, but thanks to God’s grace and an amazing surgical team, she pulled through.

I was done waiting for “someday.”

I now use my best dishes, tablecloths and flatware any time I feel like it, even for mac & cheese. I scrunch up “decorative” pillows and lay on ‘em to play video games with my daughter. I wear my prettiest outfits to the grocery store. I try not to obsess over a few extra pounds, instead focusing on health and a positive image. I crank up the music and dance in the middle of the day. Vacuuming can wait until I finish that new bestseller I’ve been looking forward to.

But even more, every day I now tell my mom – and my entire family – I love them. I call my sisters more often. I tell my best friend how smart and talented she is and how much I admire her. I stop writing and go to lunch with my husband on his day off, pause while cooking dinner to give my kids random hugs or kiss my hubby. I strive to be slow to take offense and quick to forgive.

I don’t hold back the good stuff, in any area of my life. Not anymore.

Six months ago, I got the phone call from the ER that nobody ever wants to receive. The car that my husband and daughter were riding in was slammed – hard – by a drunk driver. Again, thanks be to God, they’re both okay. Even thinking about the horrible realization that I could have lost them both still makes me physically sick.

But I also had the peace of knowing that I’d freely given them everything in my heart. I wouldn’t have regrets about love left unsaid, hugs not given, forgiveness not granted.

What’s hidden in the back of your closet, tucked away, carefully wrapped in tissue? What are you saving for “someday?”

What are you depriving yourself of – special things you could be using, wonderful feelings you could be experiencing, right here, right now?

Fling open that door! Liberate your dreams, your hopes, your love, and yeah, even your grudges and your fears. Make today your own personal Independence Day.

Get out your good stuff. Live every moment. And enjoy it to the fullest.

Mistress by Mistake by Maggie Robinson

So it’s release day, April 27. My debut book, Mistress by Mistake, the first of the Courtesan Court Trilogy from Kensington Brava, will be hitting shelves and postboxes. For someone who writes a lot of words every day, I can’t come up with the right ones to describe how I feel. Every step of this journey has been a wonder, from “the call” (I was in a library and couldn’t scream) to opening the box of REAL books. I cried. It’s been almost seven years of writing, although I’ll admit I did not know what I was doing for most of them. J

2010 is even more special because my edgier alter ego Margaret Rowe is also debuting with Tempting Eden on June 1 from Berkley Heat. Yup. 2 of me. 2 books. 2 months. Since I’m well past the debutante age, I pinch myself every day.
Award-winning Anna Campbell says Mistress by Mistake “sizzles off the page. A marvelously sexy romp.”Here’s the back cover blurb:

Scandal is only the beginning…
Charlotte Fallon let her guarded virtue fall once—and she’s paid dearly for it ever since. She swore she’d never succumb to a man again. But even a village spinster’s life miles from temptation can’t save her from a sister with no shame whatsoever. Or a heart that longs for more, whatever the cost…
Sir Michael Bayard found more than he expected in his bed when he finally joined his new mistress. He’d fantasized about her dewy skin and luscious curves, assured her understanding that what passed between them was mere dalliance. But he didn’t expect the innocence and heat of her response in his arms. Nor her surprisingly sharp tongue once she was out of them…
A few days of abandon cannot undo the hard-learned lessons of a lifetime. Nor can an honest passion burn away the restraints of society’s judgments. Unless, of course, one believes in nonsense like true love…


For more information, visit both of me at http://www.maggierobinson.net/ and http://www.margaretrowe.net/

Happy reading and happy endings!



Maggie Robinson is a former teacher, library clerk and mother of four who woke up in the middle of the night, absolutely compelled to create the perfect man and use as many adverbs as possible doing so. A transplanted New Yorker, she lives with her not-quite perfect husband in Maine, where the cold winters are ideal for staying inside and writing hot historical romances.

Cover Models & Hero Inspiration


After seeing this hero, how could I not write a story about him? He's the inspiration for Zephyr Nikos in The Greek's Pregnant Lover (Aug - Harlequin Presents), the 2nd book in my Traditional Greek Husbands duo and my 25th Harlequin release! I think's he's just delish and such a Presents kind of guy!

Tuesday's Contest Prizes and Special Guests

Hey, isn't DQ doing a great job as the "Hostess on Site"? She's always been so supportive of my work and I love seeing her interact with other authors the same way. She's my baby, but she's all grown up now. ;-)
Yesterday was fabulous! So many great author posts and so many readers stopping by. :) Today is a another winner with 5 more terrific guest author posts and lots and lots of prizes to give away!
Tuesday's Special Guests:
Tuesday's Door Prize:
(Drawn from Registered Conference Attendees)
Signed copy of The Laird's Lady by Patti Shenberger
Tuesday's Blog Post Prizes:
(Drawn from all comments made on Tuesday's blog posts.)
*Each prize listed below is a separate gift, which means there will be as many winners for today as prizes listed.
RAH Conference Swag Bag X 2
Totebag filled with books, etc. donated by Becke Martin (B&N.com, RBTB)
Signed copy of Dangerous Highlander by Donna Grant
Signed copy of Another Man's Baby by Kay Stockham
Signed copy of Divorced, Desperate & Deceived by Christie Craig
Readers Choice (digital book) donated by Black Velvet Seductions
Signed copy of The Magic Knot by Helen Scott Taylor
Signed copy of Leave Me Breathless by HelenKay Dimon
Signed copy of In the Warrior's Bed by Mary Wine
Book of Choice (digital book) by Jenna Bayley-Burke
Signed copy of Knight of Desire by Margaret Mallory
Play Me (digital book) by Tricia Jones
Signed copy of Valentino's Love-Child by Lucy Monroe
Copy of Kincaid's Call (Digital Book) by Leigh D'Ansey

*All prize winners will be announced in a single post on Sunday!*
No attendee shall be awarded more than 1 Blog Post Prize

Monday, April 26, 2010

Guest Blogger - Patti Shenberger

The Book of Your Heart.

Every book I write IS the Book of My Heart. It all comes from your heart. You created that book out of your love for the craft. But it’s the Book of My Heart while I’m writing it. My next book will again be the current Book of My Heart until it’s finished. Now you’re probably saying “Every book can’t be THE Book of Her Heart.
”Yes, they can. The Laird’s Lady from The Wild Rose Press, was a Book of My Heart. It evolved from the song, How Do I Live Without You by Trisha Yearwood. When I first heard it, I envisioned a woman on a cliff mourning the loss of the man she’d love the rest of her life. I poured my heart & soul into creating Lady Devin and Laird Kyle. When I wrote the last page of the book, I was crying again, but for a good reason. The book was finished and it was a Happily Ever After.
Or The Captain’s Wench, from Devine Destinies. I love the old black & white movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Now my version is a sexy, spicier version, but nonetheless has a handsome sea captain Alexander who’s died and romance novelist Meg who starts out wanting him to go away and ends up wanting him to stay. I gave them a Happily Ever After, but as my readers know, I tend to put a spin on things so that you get to the end of the book and go “Whoa, that is so cool.”
Patti Shenberger
Who doesn’t need a little romance in their life? http://www.pattishenberger.com/
Bio – Patti Shenberger has loved writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her first sale was to a children’s magazine for an article on potato jewelry, but after sitting down with a romance novel thought “I can write something like this” and so she did. That was 15 years ago and she is still going strong with magazine length articles, romance novels, novellas and short stories.
You can visit Patti at http://www.pattishenberger.com/ to learn more about her books or drop her an email at pattishenberger@comcast.net.