Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

GUEST BLOG: SUSAN EDWARDS

"What made you decide to write Native American Historical books?"

This question always makes me smile because I never wanted to write anything but chatty letters to friends or my great-grandmother (who loved receiving letters).

Okay, I know I just dated myself here because I grew up without computers, emails, social media or text messages! I also disliked English in high school and history? Blech!!

But I had two things going for me that led to my current writing career. First and foremost, I am an avid reader of romance (write what you know). Second, I am a natural storyteller.

I can still recall stories I told as a child, a teen, and even a young adult. However, they were not written on paper or told to others. They were in my mind and I lived them. I created them, rewrote them, went back to scenes and rewrote them. Once a "story" was perfected, I went on to a new story. Sometimes, I went back to revisit favorite past “stories”.

As I grew into adulthood, I figured I was just an incurable daydreamer. It wasn't until I was in my 40's and had already sold my first book that I discovered that my daydreaming was actually storytelling! All the elements we writers require in our books were in my dream worlds.

Does all that sound like a writer? Yep. So this little story starts when I was married with two young children in the late 80's. My current passion during that time was Native American Historical genre. I consumed these books about strong heroines and handsome warriors like an ocean swallowing a beach! One day, in my typical "daydreaming" or "story creation mode", I came up with a heroine who meets a young, virile hero at stream. Hero was Native American and this "story" kept intruding on my thoughts--more so than normal.

I could see these two characters so clearly: she was running away from an evil uncle, and my hero was a troubled young warrior. Before I knew it I had a nice little scene going of these two people so in love and so right for each other. And so insistent that I do something I’d never done before: take them out of my head and give them life on paper (good thing I had a computer by this time). Okay, I thought. I’ll write a nice, steamy love scene. I could see it, feel it, so no problem, right?

Wrong! Before I could write about these two people, I had to know more about them.

• Why was my heroine alone in the wilderness?
• Why was she fleeing her uncle? What did he want and how bad did he want it?
• What troubled my warrior and why was he in the same vicinity as my heroine?
• Why was he drawn to my heroine aside from her blonde hair? Why her and only her?
• Was he willing to risk it all for her?

Before I knew it, I had back story, and four chapters! Several people read it and told me I had to finish the story. The rest they say is history! The writer within was born!

I choose this topic for my first blog here because I never, ever considered writing to be a hidden talent. I figure my old English teachers if they ever found out I became a published author had to have been shocked to their core! It was only when I listened to that inner voice telling me to step out of my comfort zone that I made an amazing discover about myself.

The path from that first time of committing a story to paper has not been easy. It took 7 years of writing and rewriting and learning the craft of writing and submitting and rejections before an editor asked for a full manuscript. Add another year before I had my first offer, then yet another year before that first book, White Wind was on the bookshelves in 1996. Nine years total!

15 years later and once again I’m anticipating seeing White Wind and the rest of my backlist with brand new covers as they are re-released in digital E-Book format through Carina Press. The excitement and anticipation is the same, as is the worry–will readers like my baby! Some things do not change!

So in retelling this story, it is my hope that someone reading this makes a self-discover of their own. Are you harboring a writer within? If so, what are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your "writer within" stories.

Coming November 21, 2011, look for White Dawn, White Dusk, White Shadows and White Wind. Check out my website at http://SusanEdwards.com for updated news and excerpts along with a member only area for my readers. You can also sign up for my newsletter. Note: New covers should be available for view during September!


Original White Covers

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

GUEST BLOG: CAROLYN BROWN

Hello everyone! I’m delighted to be here today to talk about Red’s Hot Cowboy. You can tell by the cover that it’s a cowboy romance. Look at those boots! You can almost hear his Texas drawl and see him strutting right there on the cover, can’t you?

You asked me if country music inspires all my writing and if there are any songs that hold a special place in Red’s Hot Cowboy?

Yes, ma’am and yes ma’am!

Country music is my muse. If I can’t get my mojo going then George Strait, Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson, Highway 101, Miranda Lambert and Sara Evans (and that only names a few) help slap me right back on the writing track.

And since cowboys, boots, a slow drawl, pickup trucks and country music all go together, it stands to reason that there’s going to be some country music in my cowboy books.

Music can define a mood without a single word spoken between two people. The first time Pearl crawled up in Wil’s truck after they’d argued for all night and then most of the day and turned the key he had a Blake Shelton CD in the player:

She hopped inside and started up the truck only to have her ear drums rattled by a CD turned up to the highest volume with Blake Shelton singing “Kiss my Country Ass.” She quickly twisted the knob to decrease the noise and looked across at Wil who shrugged and smiled.

Music can get a couple over an awkward speed bump in their journey toward that HEA…

“You like Blake Shelton?” he asked.
She nodded.
He touched a button and “Hillbilly Bone” rocked the inside of the truck cab. He quickly adjusted the volume to a lower level.
“So which are you? Blake with his hillbilly bone or the New York City friend?” Pearl asked.
“Oh, I’m Blake for sure. I’m not a city man. Been to the big places with the rodeo rounds. Las Vegas is nice. New York City has its own pulse beat, kind of like that thing about listening to a different drummer, and Los Angeles is the same, different drummer, different beat. But Texas is where my hillbilly bone brought me back to every time I wandered. And I like little towns. They have a heartbeat all of their own,” he said. “How about you?”
“I’m a mixture. Momma’s from Savannah, Georgia, and I could recite a litany about southern girls for a couple of hours. Maybe even a couple of days. Daddy is pure Texan. He’s an executive at Texas Instruments, but he’s a rancher on the side. I went to college, got a master’s eventually, and worked in a bank over in Durant. Taught a few adjunct classes at the school and liked it, but I still like a rodeo, country music, and beer.”
“So what are you going to grow up to be, Red?”
“What makes you think I’m not already grown up?” she said with an edge to her tone. Dammit! He hadn’t even kissed her and he kept both hands on the steering wheel.


And music can make a person stop and think about things:

The next song was called “Delilah” and she’d never heard it. Blake said that Delilah couldn’t blame anyone but herself because there was someone right beside her that would never let her down. When she looked at Wil the soft expression in his brown eyes verified that Blake was singing about them. Wil reached across the space and laced his fingers through hers and squeezed.
“You should’ve been Delilah.”
“That mean you’re wearin’ forty-dollar jeans?” She finally smiled.
“Yes, ma’am, packed down with hillbilly bones.”


And then there’s the time Wil was singing in the shower and Pearl’s mother called. Oh, dear, now that would have caused a major uproar if the Belle of Savannah, Georgia knew Pearl had a man in a motel room at that time of morning:

The shower started. Wil began singing an old Willie Nelson song. Pearl fished the remote from under the edge of the bed and quickly turned on the television.
“Who is that I hear?” her mother asked.
“Television. I turned it on to see what the weather is going to be today. Looks like rain all morning. I guess I’d best get up and help Lucy check out the guests. Tell Daddy Happy New Year’s for me. I’ve got to run now,” Pearl said.


Music is my muse. I’m not so sure I could write a cowboy romance without it. What would those hunky cowboys and sassy cowgirls dance to? Nothing else quite says, “Let’s two step,” like George Jones singing, “I Always Get Lucky With You.”

And yes, ma’am, that song has a very special place in Red’s Hot Cowboy.

So do you listen to country music? Does it make you want to put on a pair of red cowboy boots and find a cowboy like Wil to look deep into your eyes and two step around the floor with?




RED’S HOT COWBOY BY CAROLYN BROWN – IN STORES AUGUST 2011
He wasn’t looking for trouble…
But when the cops are knocking on your door, trouble’s definitely found you. And this is where Wil Marshal finds himself after checking into the Longhorn Inn. It could be all a big mistake, but Wil’s not getting much sleep. Then the motel owner—who is drop dead gorgeous and feisty to boot—saves him from an even worse night behind bars. Now he owes her one, bit time…

But trouble comes in all shapes and sizes…
Pearl never wanted that run-down motel, but her aunt didn’t leave her much choice. And then this steaming hot cowboy shows up looking for a place to rest. Next thing she knows, she wants to offer him more than just room service. But if he calls her Red one more time, he won’t be the only one accused of murder…

Sparks are definitely flying and before long, the Do Not Disturb sign might be swinging from the door…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Brown is an award-winning author who has published 36 bestselling romances for the library market. She now writes bestselling single title cowboy and country music mass market romances. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. Carolyn’s next book, Darn Good Cowboy Christmas will be in stores in October 2011, followed by One Hot Cowboy Wedding in April 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.carolynlbrown.com/.

Leave a comment for the chance to win one of two copies of Red’s Hot Cowboy. Open to US and Canada readers only please.

Monday, August 29, 2011

GUEST BLOG: JENNIFER WILCK





I’m sitting at my dining room table with my laptop. My screen is blank. The phone is next to me, and I’ve just hung up from a 20-minute conversation with the Director of Congregational Education at my temple. I’m the Religious School chair and we spent time discussing setting up committee meetings and discussing the upcoming first day of school. In between the “business” side of the conversation, we chatted about camp, our kids and life in general, because we’re also friends. I really like her and love talking to her, but my screen is still blank.

My older daughter is in the kitchen baking cookies. She’s really into baking this summer and asked if she could be in charge of baking cookies. Since that’s usually my job, I was happy to relinquish the task. She’s pretty independent, but not an experienced baker, so she comes over at every step to ask me questions. They’re easy questions and need simple answers and really don’t take up much time, but my screen is still blank.

My younger daughter is at the computer writing a play. She’s creative and loves to write and act and is very good at it. She also loves me to read what she’s written, every step of the way. I love reading what she’s written, and find myself a little jealous that her screen is filled with words. My screen is still blank.

The dog is banging against my leg. She doesn’t bark and rarely whines, and this is her way of telling me to pet her. She’s fairly insistent, and unless I want bruised shins, I’d best comply. I pet and rub her and pay her some attention, and then turn away. She scratches me to try to get me to continue, but I resist. My screen is still blank.

Balancing life and writing, as you can see, is a challenge. It’s challenging for everyone, because very few of us can devote our entire day to writing, at the exclusion of everything else. What makes it most challenging for me is balancing the needs of my family with my need to write. When I first started writing A Heart of Little Faith, balancing writing and family wasn’t as much of an issue, because I did the majority of my writing at night, while my husband watched TV and my kids slept. By the time I’d finished writing it (92,000+ words later), both kids were in school part of the day at least, so I had time to query authors and agents in peace. The school schedule also enabled me to write synopses and requested partials. Requested edits and changes could be done at night. This is a breeze, I thought, with visions of me in a Superwoman cape flitted through my head. Ha!

When I finally got “THE CALL” from Whiskey Creek press, I floated on a cloud for days. My family would try to talk to me and I wouldn’t hear them. My volunteer responsibilities at my temple and everywhere else collected dust as I daydreamed about being a famous author. The laundry piled up, my family consumed frozen food and my clean house was not-so-clean for a good long time.

The situation only worsened when I was given galleys to edit and cover art to approve. My family was wonderful and gave me all the time I needed to make the necessary edits and provide approvals. No problems there, except my editing time ate up my writing time and my WIP sat on my computer, untouched.

When A Heart of Little Faith came out in June, I had plenty of time to market the book and write, because my kids were at camp and I had 12 hours of “me time” before my husband came home. But now they’re home, and while that’s not a bad thing, it’s very difficult to get anything done (especially since my youngest has declared August her “birthday month!”).

So, for the time being, until the kids go back to school, my screen will remain blank, marketing will occur in fits and starts around their schedule, and we’ll spend my “me time” together, swimming, baking and enjoying the freedom of summer. School’s around the corner, and although only two of us will be boarding that school bus, we’ll all be returning to the “school schedule” soon enough.

A Heart of Little Faith can be purchased from the following:
Whiskey Creek

Amazon
Fictionwise

Jennifer Wilck can be contacted at the following:
Website: http://www.jenniferwilck.com/
Blog—Fried Oreos: http://www.jenniferwilck.wordpress.com/
Blog—Heroines With Hearts (contributor): http://www.heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When I was a little girl and couldn’t fall asleep, my mother would tell me to make up a story. Pretty soon, my head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Each character had a specific personality, a list of likes and dislikes, and sometimes, even a specific accent or dialect. Even as an adult, I think about the characters and stories at night before I fall asleep, or in the car on my way to or from one of my daughters’ numerous activities (hey, anything that will drown out their music is a good thing).

One day, I started writing them down (it was either that or checking into the local mental hospital—the computer was way less scary) and five years later, I’ve gotten two book contracts from Whiskey Creek Press. A Heart of Little Faith came out in June; Skin Deep is coming out in November.

In the real world, I’m the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men I know. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, traveling and watching TV. In between chauffeuring my daughters to after-school activities that require an Excel spreadsheet to be kept straight, I serve on our Temple Board, train the dog we adopted from a local shelter, and cook dinners that fit the needs of four very different appetites. I also write freelance articles for magazines, newspapers, and edit newsletters.

When all of that gets overwhelming, I retreat to my computer, where I write stories that let me escape from reality. In my made-up world, the heroines are always smart, sassy and independent. The heroes are handsome and strong with just a touch of vulnerability. If I don’t like a character, I can delete him or her; if something doesn’t work, I can rewrite it. It’s very satisfying to be in control of at least one part of my life. My inspiration comes from watching the people around me and fantasizing about how I’d do things differently.

I can be reached at http://www.jenniferwilck.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jennifer-Wilck/201342863240160.


ADDENDUM: After this blog post was submitted, Ms. Wilck was given the exciting news that she is Whiskey Creek Press's #1 selling author this month with her book, A Heart of Little Faith.

Friday, August 26, 2011

GUEST INTERVIEW: LEANNA ELLIS

Leanna Ellis is the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award. She has written numerous books for Harlequin/Silhouette and has published four books with B&H Publishing. With her husband, two children, and wide assortment of pets, she lives in Texas. Plain Fear: Forbidden, the next book in the Plain Fear Series, will be in stores in Spring 2012. For more information, please visit www.LeannaEllis.com. We are pleased to welcome her to The Long and the Short of It.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Hi! First, thanks for having me here! Advice for a newbie, huh? Well, I’m reading some contest entries at the moment and some of the entries are obviously beginners but that’s okay! We all have to start somewhere. So I will tell you what I would like to be able to say to them: keep writing. Write, write, write. And read, read, read. Read the kind of books you want to write and the kind of books you don’t. Tear those books apart and study them. What makes them powerful? What makes them not? Read everything. And write. Read books about the craft of writing. And write. Practice what you’re learning. Read articles and blogs about writing. And write. Join writer organizations and local groups. And write. Join a critique group. And write. Go to conferences and meet other writers, editors and agents. And write. Writing is not a quick fix to your problems or an easy way to make a living; it’s a journey. Surgeons don’t become surgeons over night. And writers don’t become writers over night. So if you have a dream of being a writer, get started writing…and then don’t quit.

Are you working on anything at the present you’d like to share with us?

I’m working on book #2 of the Plain Fear series and getting very close to the end. It’s always an exciting time for me as a writer. The words are coming fast and furious and I usually have a hard time getting them down fast enough. I’m anxious to get to the end just so I can say I reached the end. That there is a book there. And then I will take a tiny break before I begin the really long, arduous part of editing, which will take me months to shape up the book before I send it to my editor. But if you hear a “whoohoooo” or feel a shudder in the earth, then you will know I reached ‘the end’ and I’m celebrating. Because getting to that point is a huge victory for a writer. Then it’s time to roll up the sleeves and get to work again.

What are you reading now?

I’m actually in the middle of reading several different books right now. When I’m close to the end of the first draft of one of my own books it’s hard to concentrate on any other characters or plots. I’m also listening to Alas, Babylon in the car with my kids. I haven’t read that book since I was in 9th grade, and we’re loving it. Before that we listened to To Kill a Mockingbird, and hearing Sissy Spacek read one of my favorite books was a real treat. It’s also a lot of fun for me to share books I’ve loved with my children. We have great discussions about them!

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

I come up with titles all sorts of different ways. Sometimes that is the first thing that comes to me. I knew at one time I wanted to write a story about the Wizard of Oz and one day the title just came to me: Ruby’s Slippers, from there I came up with the story. Then with Elvis Takes a Back Seat, I had several titles along the road to publication with that book. My critique buddy kept telling me I needed Elvis in the title, so I doodled around one day and played with different ideas and finally I hit on the title. I usually like my titles to have double meanings, and that one certainly does. Lookin’ Back, Texas came to me during the revision process. The story takes place in Luckenbach, Texas and one of the names locals call their town is Lookin’ Back, Texas. It fit the story well because my main character is looking back into her past. See, double meaning. :-) With Forsaken, I originally named it Plain Fear until my agent said it needed to be a series. So then I thought the series title should be Plain Fear. I brainstormed with my best friend, who is also a writer, and she helped me come up with the titles. Forsaken fits so many of the characters and how they feel about their different situation.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

During my first writing class, I asked my teacher when we could call ourselves writers and she said, “Do you write every day?” “Yes.” “Then you are a writer.” Powerful words.

Describe your writing space.

This is almost laughable because I have such a crazy life of taking kids to and from all of their activities that I have to write where and when I can. So, I write at the kitchen table or sitting on the floor so I can entertain our kitten at the same time. If I can find a Starbucks or Barnes and Noble, then you’ll find me typing away and trying not to eavesdrop on the conversations around me. I’ve written a lot sitting in my car while my kids are at their music lessons or math tutor. I’ve written during rehearsals of Annie and other shows my daughter is in, trying not to sing along with the music. I’ve also written during fencing practice, but all the beeps as fencers hit their targets can be annoying and hard to ignore so sometimes I have to only edit or read galleys while there.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Sometimes every part of writing seems difficult. This book was a lot of fun to write, but often just putting those first words on the page are the hardest part for me. With Forsaken, I hadn’t written in third person in a while so it took me a while to get back in the groove of that. I had originally started the book in first person but I quickly realized I needed to get into so many other characters’ point of view that I switched to third person. But when I got stuck, I went back to first person and then changed it to third.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

Chaotic and crazy, mostly because my kids are at that age when they are super busy with all of their activities and they cannot yet drive. But I also love being very involved in their lives, so I like to take them places and I love to watch rehearsals of shows my daughter is in and fencing tournaments my son competes in. So I have to squeeze in writing when I can. I like to get up really early in the morning before anyone else is awake (although I can’t seem to beat the kitten as he wakes REALLY early) and get my writing in for the day. I’m just happier and nicer when I’ve gotten my writing done for the day.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to spend time with my husband and children. We love to travel, and we’re very involved in the kids' activities. We go on a lot of weekend trips for my son’s fencing or we take research trips together for my books. In fact, I’m getting ready to take my son to Nationals in Reno next week for fencing. But I’m also taking my daughter to New York next week to a writing conference, so we can go to a couple of Broadway shows. She and I love musicals and are often going to local shows. I also love to walk my crazy Hilo Monster (my 2 year old labradoodle). And of course, I love to read.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Plain Fear: Forsaken is my eighteenth published novel, although I’ve written more than that. Some will never see the light of day but I hope a couple I’ll be able to revamp some day when I have time. Choosing a favorite is like choosing your favorite child, and I don’t like to play favorites. But like with children, the one that is behaving at the moment is usually the favorite. And that usually means the book that is finally completed, edits finished, galleys read and the book is ready to be released. It’s like watching your child who you struggled with during the teen years and through algebra finally walk across the stage and get their diploma. That moment helps you forget all the pain and struggles, very much like as soon as you hold a newborn you forget the labor pains…well, almost.

Tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is PLAIN FEAR: FORSAKEN, the first in a series. Hannah Schmidt, a young Amish woman mourning the mysterious death of her beloved Jacob, must decide between two brothers, between good and evil. When she learns her first love is now the vampire Akiva, she must forsake him and cling to a new love, a lasting love, one that will save her soul.

What is the one question you wish an interviewer would ask you?

I’d love an interviewer to ask: so how do you manage to write while living in Hawaii? Doesn’t all that time at the beach make it difficult to find time to write? Obviously, no interviewer is going to ask me that yet because I live in Texas, not Hawaii, but I can dream. ;)

Do you really, really want a dog?

I would LOVE to have another dog. I’m a huge dog lover. But right now, my ‘barn’ (aka my house) is full. We have an old lab named Liberty. We have a crazy labradoodle named Hilo (after a place we love in Hawaii). We have a cat named Miracle, named so because it was a miracle she lived as she was born 10 days early and her litter mates did not survive and also because we are not allergic to her. And our most recent addition is a little orange tabby (more blond than orange though) named Sawyer. My father–in-law had nine cats when he passed away this past spring, and one of those cats had kittens right before he went into the hospital. So when he passed away, my husband wanted to bring a kitten home. Our sweet Belle (a 15 year old llasa) passed away two days after Christmas this past year and we have really missed her, so we were all eager for another pet, although I didn’t think I’d have another cat because my husband and I are allergic. Still, little Sawyer came to live with us and he is the sweetest kitten ever. Really. He purrs almost constantly and just loves to be loved. He will wake me in the middle of the night, purring and rubbing his little face against mine. He knows when not to use his claws and is truly the sweetest tempered cat I’ve ever known. Can you tell I love him dearly? So yeah, we’d take another dog but we’ll probably wait for a while.

Do you hate how you look in pictures?

Definitely. I’m usually so busy that I barely have time to look at myself in the mirror in the morning. So when I get a picture taken then I notice all the imperfections (aka aging) that have crept up on me. In my head I’m still in my twenties but a picture is proof that I’m not.

When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

ACK! No, I’m just kidding. I probably didn’t get a chance to look in the mirror for a while. And when I did, I didn’t have my contacts in so I was just a blur. Which is probably good.

What were you doing at midnight last night?

Thankfully I was sleeping.

What is your favorite animal?

Lions and polar bears are my favorite. But my favorite to live with are dogs and cats. I would have just said dogs but Sawyer (our kitten) has won me over.

What is your favorite pizza?

Veggie, no olives, no jalapenos, thin crust. I think I have the pizza delivery phone number memorized.

Are you a morning person or a night person?

Both. Normally, I’m a night person and so easily I slip back into that mode. But out of necessity with young kids (well, they’re 11 and 13 so not so little anymore), I’ve had to change into a morning person. I do like early morning quiet. Ahhhh. I like writing early in the morning, on a lanai with the rumble of the ocean in the distance is my favorite but I digress. After a rush, rush day, it’s harder for me to write at night. So I’ve adjusted to morning, and getting my writing done in the morning just makes the day happier.

Do you like thunderstorms?

I love thunderstorms. Great reading weather. Great sleeping weather. Two things I never get to often enough. We had two huge thunderstorms this week. Thankfully we didn’t have to go into the closet for a tornado warning. We had a couple of those this spring.

Can you multitask?

If I couldn’t then you’d have to lock me up and throw away the key. It is the only way I can survive at the moment.

Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke? If so, which do you prefer?

I can tell the difference and I prefer Diet Coke, thank you very much.

Thanks so much for having me here! It was great fun!

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of two copies of Forsaken. US and Canada readers only, please.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GUEST BLOG: ROSALIE LARIO

On Tortured Heroes

What is it that’s so hot about tortured heroes in romance? Is it that we get to watch them grow and cast of the chains of their past? That we enjoy seeing them fall in love? Or maybe the idea that someone so flawed can be ‘cured’ by love?

A tortured hero can be the product of many things, but I’m going to talk about just a few of those:
  • The Broken Home: His parents divorced when he was young and the psychological trauma of that is so deep that he’s sworn never to have a family of his own, or sworn off women altogether.
  • An Abusive Childhood: The product of sustained physical abuse from a family member, commonly the father, this man grows up to become the tough guy. He doesn’t want a long-term relationship, because look what marriage and family did to his father. He’s got a chip on his shoulder.
  • Sexual Abuse: This hero is so damaged that he believes he can never have a normal relationship. Worse, he doesn’t believe he’s good enough for one.
I think readers automatically tend to empathize more with a hero who has had a difficult past and who must go through a lot to find his HEA. Seeing him overcome all obstacles to find true love is very emotionally satisfying. What about the heroine’s role in all of this? Maybe she senses a certain vulnerability in the hero that she can’t walk away from, or perhaps she faced many of the same issues in her past. Something about the hero will draw her to him, will make her want to help him heal the invisible wounds from his past.

Whatever your personal reason for liking tortured heroes, they are wildly popular in romance. They’re also my favorite kind of hero to write about! In my paranormal romance, BLOOD OF THE DEMON, my hero Keegan is a half-demon from a dark, hellish dimension called Infernum. His father is one of the worst demons around, a man who gets off on torturing others, and who tried to raise his sons in his own image. Notice I say “tried”, because he failed miserably. Keegan and his younger brothers swore they would never be anything like their father, no matter how many times he tried to convince them otherwise (usually with his fists). They escaped him, but they still live with the emotional scars of their upbringing.

After Mammon devises a way to bring on the apocalypse on Earth, Keegan and his brothers, now working as inter-dimensional bounty hunters for the Elden Council, are charged with stopping him. To do so, Keegan may be ordered to destroy Brynn Meyers, the key to the apocalypse. But something about her arouses his protective instincts. And so the torture continues (LOL).

I’d love to share a brief excerpt from BLOOD OF THE DEMON. This scene takes place after Keegan has taken Brynn into his safekeeping.

She truly believed he was a good man, and trusted him now. And if he’d correctly read the lust etched onto her face, she desired him. How could he betray her? Keegan paused outside her room, his forehead to the door, as if by that simple act he could forge an unbreakable connection with her. For the first time since he’d broken free of his father, he wished he were somewhere else, living someone else’s life. He didn’t want to bear this responsibility. Didn’t want to have to make a choice between this vibrant, engaging woman and the rest of this world. Maybe all of the worlds. He hadn’t expected Brynn to be such a shining beacon of hope and life, and hadn’t expected to connect with her so deeply. If he was charged with ending her existence, if he went through with it, would he really be any better than his monster of a father? His heart told him no. But what were his options? One life or many? There was no winning choice here.

Like I said: tortured! I truly enjoyed writing Keegan’s story. He has quite an emotional journey, and I hope you love reading about it as much as I loved writing it! So tell me, who’s your favorite tortured hero in a book, movie, or television series (Zsadist, anyone)?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rosalie Lario practiced law for five years before finally admitting to herself that negotiating contracts wasn’t nearly as fun as dreaming up stories. The first book in her Demons of Infernum series, Blood of the Demon, will be released August 2011.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GUEST BLOG: KATHRYNE KENNEDY

A Few of my Favorite Things about Writing

Thank you so much, LASR, for having me here today! I’m looking forward to talking with your readers!

I am so glad you asked me to talk about my favorite things about writing. I’ll get in to some of my challenges as well, but first, I’ll start with my favorite thing of all: building worlds. In order for me to write, I have to be in the scene. Be a part of the world. And so I have to work out the details, large and small, to make the world real for me. And hopefully, to make it come alive for the reader, as well. I love working out the magic and its rules. I love creating the characters that would result from this world, and starting them on their path to discovery. I love creating a place of wonder, and experiencing it as I write.


And therein lies my challenges. I have to make sure the world can reasonably exist. (For example, if I create enormous meat-eating monsters, I have to have a food source.) With magic, I can pretty much create what I want, but there has to be rules, and I have to stick to those rules when writing if I want to hold on to my belief. There has to be limits to the magic, and a cost, and it cannot be all-powerful, because then the conflict within the story would be moot. (If the hero can wave a magic wand and win the battle, what’s the point in having it in the first place?) For my characters, it’s easy to create their personalities, but not so easy to control their decisions. Although their basic values stay the same, they have the darndest way of evolving and changing and completely altering the path I set them on.

In The Lady of the Storm, my heroine, Lady Cecily, and my hero, Giles Beaumont, travel through an England altered by elven enchantments. I wove the magic of the world within the natural landscape to keep it believable, and one challenge I can remember is researching the geology of parts of England in order to create the crystal mountains of Stonehame. (I discovered that quartz is the most common stone in England…and around the world.)

I had different levels of power, based on how much elven blood a human inherited, whether the scepters were involved (tools of power the elven lords used), and natural gifts that my half-breeds inherited. I used notes to keep it all straight, but even then, I made some inconsistencies that required some rewriting.

Giles was cursed with an enchanted sword, and is a bit vain, a bit arrogant. I had no idea his vanity would set him on a course to get cursed once again. Lady Cecily wants nothing more than to be an ordinary human living a peaceful life. I knew I would set her on a path that would challenge her courage, but I didn’t realize she would find a way to not only accept a life of adventure, but to embrace it as well.

Do you find that the things you love the most often create the biggest challenges for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!

My Magical Best,
Kathryne

THE LADY OF THE STORM BY KATHRYNE KENNEDY—IN STORES AUGUST 2011





Giles is bound to protect her...

In a kingdom viciously ruled by warlike elven lords, village blacksmith Giles Beaumont reluctantly swears to protect the half-elf, half-human Cecily Sutton, never dreaming that he will fall under her enchanting spell.

But duty soon turns to desire...

When Cecily's father disappears, Cecily and Giles set out to find him. But, as their journey unfolds, duty is quickly replaced by desire—and the search for Cecily's father leads to a magical destiny that could end the rule of the elven lords forever...

“Fantastical creatures, magical spells, lengthy quests, angst, and passion will satisfy readers looking for a romance plot in a well-developed fantasy setting.”


—Publishers Weekly


“Kennedy’s exquisite world building and terrific plotting make this a must-read.”

—Booklist Starred Review







ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kathryne Kennedy is an acclaimed, best-selling, award-winning author of magical romances. She welcomes readers to visit her website where she has ongoing contests at http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/. She’s lived in Guam, Okinawa, and several states in the U.S., and currently lives with her wonderful family in Arizona, where she is working on the next book in The Elven Lords series, The Lord of Illusion (February 2012).


Leave a comment for the chance to win one of two copies of The Lady of the Storm. Open to US and Canada readers only please

Monday, August 22, 2011

GUEST BLOG: WENDY S. MARCUS


Finally Home Alone and then It Happened…

Hello LASR Fans! I am thrilled to be here on the thirtieth stop on my blog tour to promote my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, When One Night Isn’t Enough. At each stop I try to write something a little unique. As you can imagine, after writing dozens and dozens of blog posts over the past three months, coming up with new topics can get a little tricky.

Today I’ve chosen to share something personal.

I have an all-consuming, panic-inducing, terrifying fear of moths. I can’t explain it. They don’t sting or bite. I know that. But they are so ugly (in my opinion). And the way they flap wildly around the light above my desk, against the wall, off the floor. Go Back! Well let’s just say I am literally cringing as I type.

I have three children, a husband and a dog. I have worked full time from my home office for over fifteen years, long before I became a published author. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished to have the house all to myself. So I can work at my computer, uninterrupted, for as long as I want.

Then, finally, after years of waiting, I had my chance. My older daughter away at college, my younger daughter away at sleep away camp, and my husband and son journeying to California. I had an entire weekend to myself, to do whatever I chose, for the first time in my married life. I learned a very valuable lesson that weekend…I don’t like to be alone in my house when it’s dark. Partly because of what happened late Saturday night.

I’d just come in from walking the dog. It must have come in with me. Like the soon-to-be-victim in a grade B horror flick, I went about the business of wiping off my dog’s paws and giving him a treat, completely unaware of the horrific encounter that awaited me. I was on the cell phone with my daughter at the time. (She accompanied me to walk the dog. Refer back to big baby home alone at night.)

I was on my way down the darkened hallway when I saw its fluttering shadow. It was angry, crazed, flapping furiously to find its way to the light.

Above my desk.

Of course I screamed like someone was coming at me with an ax. I vaguely registered my daughter yelling she was going to dial 911 if I didn’t tell her what was going on.

“There’s a moth,” I cried out, my voice quivering. It was no joke. I was petrified. “And Daddy’s not here to kill it.”

She laughed. Well she’s not terrified of moths. (On her next visit home I plan to arrange a little spider-in-her bed get-together as payback for the fun she made of me on that terrible night.)

Clutching the phone, my heart beating wildly, I peered around the corner to my office and saw…..

Mothra.

Okay. I’m exaggerating. But this thing had a mutant gene somewhere. And vertebrae. I’m sure of it. He came at me. I ran.

“Kill it with a fly swatter,” my daughter suggested.

“That’d be like trying to squish a tarantula with a tissue,” I replied.

She laughed. (I thought spider in her bed and let it slide.)

I crept back down the hall to my office. I had work to do. I was under deadline. And even if I wasn’t, no way I’d get to sleep knowing that beast was on the loose on the floor below, capable of dive-bombing me or tangling in my hair if I fell into a restless slumber. (Still cringing at the thought.)

I had to do something. So I returned to my office. There was no sign of him except for my dog sniffing under my desk.

I thought to myself: I will never, ever, put my legs under there again.

Did I mention deadline? Lots of work to do? Home alone with no interruptions for the first time in years?

It came down to him or me. I chose me.

I kicked the box of folders under my desk. Nothing. Moved my chair. Nothing. Got down on my hands and knees to look. Nothing.

“What am I going to do?” I asked my daughter, close to tears. “Oh. My. God.,” I screamed. “It’s on the floor in the dining room.” It had morphed into a gigantic beetle looking thing.“The dog’s going after it. No, Buddy. Stop.” Because if my dog ate that disgusting – whatever the heck it was - I swear I’d never let him lick me again.

“Grab the phone book,” my daughter’s words speared through my hysteria.

Phone book. Good. Big. Heavy. But I’d need to get close. Too close. “I’m putting down the phone,” I told my daughter. I needed two hands to protect myself. Just in case.

“It’s so big,” I yelled to the phone in the kitchen. “I can’t do it.” I anticipated the crunch – assuming I actually hit it and didn’t piss him off with a botched attempt.”

He was scampering toward a cabinet. If he made it, I’d be worried about him coming after me for weeks on end.

Him or me.

I ran, threw down the phone book, and jumped on top of it. “I got him,” I yelled to the phone in the kitchen. “Now what?” I asked my daughter because visions of stepping off the phone book and Mothra pushing it away like a mere inconvenience, flexing his muscled wings and coming after me had me paralyzed in fear.

My daughter’s laughter echoed through the kitchen. (Spider in the bed. Spider in the bed.) “You can’t stand there all night,” she said.

She had a point.

With the utmost care, I stepped off the phone book. When I didn’t see movement I ran for the paper towels, pulled off about ten sheets, and ran back. With shaky hands I lifted the phone book. “It’s still moving,” I screamed, dropping it back down and jumping – about twenty times – on top of it. With a deep breath I tried again. Do it quick, I told myself. Get it over with. I did. Scooped his massive, squirming body up and squeezed. Hard. I put the remains in the sink and just in case any hint of life remained I ran water over the paper towels and flattened the ball with a cup.

“Flush it down the toilet,” my daughter suggested.

Luckily I’d regained some semblance of sanity at that point and knew enough not to risk my septic. Instead I put the wet, mashed, mummified Mothra in a cheese doodle bag, curled over the edges, and stuffed it to the bottom of the trash.

“Overnight he’s going to drink the water from the paper towel and eat the cheese doodle crumbs and come back to life.” My daughter laughed.

“Nah,” I said. (But I did suffer a moment of trepidation the next morning when I needed to throw away my oatmeal wrapper.)

Anyway, after my ordeal, I was too overwrought to write, and too skeezed at the memory of that vile, hideous creature defiling my office to return there. A full night of writing lost. Because of a moth.

I’m happy to say, I got up extra early the next morning and was able to meet the writing goals I’d set out to achieve during my weekend alone by the time my husband and son came home.

The lesson here – and there is one: As writers, we need to find a way to write. Life, family, responsibilities, and inconveniences (such as moths) get in the way, but we can’t let them derail us from meeting our goals.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out an excerpt from my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, When One Night Isn’t Enough, at: http://wendysmarcus.com/books/. Or visit my website: http://wendysmarcus.com/ to learn more about me and the other books I have coming soon.

If you’re a writer, I hope you’ll set a goal to finish and polish up a first chapter of one of one of your stories for entry in Mills and Boon’s New Voices competition, coming in September. You can find more information here: http://www.romanceisnotdead.com/

So what about you? What keeps you from writing and how do you work around it to meet your daily word count? Or if you’re a reader and would like to discuss medical romance, I’m happy to do that, too. Have you ever read one? Do you watch medical drama on television? One lucky commenter will win a copy of the UK 2 in 1 edition of my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, which includes a complete novel by author Janice Lynn.

Visit me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Wendy-S-Marcus-Author-Page/184507031577429
Visit me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/WendySMarcus
Visit me on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4823224.Wendy_S_Marcus

Wendy S. Marcus lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, two of her three children, and a much loved Bichon Frise named Buddy. A nurse by trade, Wendy has her master’s degree in health care administration. After years of working in the medical profession, Wendy has taken a radical turn to writing hot contemporary romance with strong heroes, feisty heroines, and lots of laughs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting with her online friends. To learn more about Wendy visit her website, http://www.wendysmarcus.com/.

Friday, August 19, 2011

GUEST BLOG: TAWNA FENSKE

I’ve been tasked with sharing what’s surprised me most since I became published.

Since smart-ass responses are always first to arrive on scene when my brain is asked a question, I’m inclined to tell you how shocked I am that I don’t yet have a butler, a private plane, a pool, a pool boy, or even one of those really nice bird baths.

In reality, there hasn’t been much that’s surprised me. I’ve been delighted by some really great response to the story, including a 4 ½ star from RT Book Reviews, a listing as one of ten “notable debuts” in Writers Digest, and a declaration from Booklist magazine that “Fenske’s off-the-wall plotting is reminiscent of a tame Carl Hiaasen on Cupid juice.”

Incidentally, I think “Cupid juice” sounds deliciously filthy.

But I while I’ve been thrilled with the great reviews, I wouldn’t say “surprised” describes my reaction.

I could give you some dorky answer about how I didn’t expect to be so dizzyingly, terrifyingly, nauseatingly busy with book promotions and signings and guest blogging and my own daily blog and all the usual stuff like maintaining a day job and a house and an impressive belly button lint collection.

That’s true, but it’s a dumb answer because of course this was going to be a busy month. Duh. But when you sign the book contract, you also sign a fine print clause that says, “I hereby surrender my right to complain about anything related to being a published author because I JUST GOT EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN DREAMING OF FOR YEARS!”

So that’s not my answer, either.

I guess the one, solid response I can give you to the question of what’s surprised me most about being published is that people are reading my book.

I know this sounds like a terribly moronic concept. You would think it might have occurred to me at some point during the last 17 months that one or two people might stumble upon Making Waves on the shelves at WalMart or Barnes & Noble.

But deep down, I don’t think it ever registered that anyone besides my agent, my editor, and my mom might read the book. In the back of my mind, we were going through these exercises in selecting cover art and choosing titles just so we could all pat ourselves on the back before tucking the manuscript in a drawer and calling it a day. My brain never wrapped itself around the idea that anyone might actually read the book.

But they have been, and I’m glad about it, and I’m trying hard not to be too terrified by the notion that oodles of strangers are reading words I’ve written and thinking, “wow, that chick is a pervert.”

Or something like that.

If you’re one of the people who has read the book, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you aren’t, I still thank you for reading this blog post without leaping to the conclusion that I have some sort of serious mental health issue.

Wait – you are thinking that, aren’t you?


MAKING WAVES BY TAWNA FENSKE – IN STORES AUGUST 2011


She always wanted to belong… Just not to a dysfunctional pirate crew…
Juli has trouble fitting in, though she’d prefer to keep the reasons to herself. But when she mistakenly stows away on a ship of misfit corporate castoffs, her own secrets become the least of her concerns…

He knows plotting a diamond heist may be considered unusual behavior…
But Alex isn’t feeling very normal when his unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb. Meeting Juli doesn’t do much to restore normalcy to Alex’s life either, but it sure is exhilarating!

As Alex and Juli bare their secrets—and a whole lot more—they find that while normal is nice, weird can be wonderful…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tawna Fenske traveled a career path that took her from newspaper reporter to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek. An avid globetrotter with a fondness for the sea, she shares her heroine’s violent allergy to seasickness medication (though, sadly, has never stowed away on a pirate ship). Tawna is the author of the popular daily blog “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing” and lives in Central Oregon, where she is working on her next novel, Believe It or Not, in stores March 2012. For more information, please visit http://www.tawnafenske.com/ or follow her on Twitter @tawnafenske.

Leave a comment for the chance to win one of 2 copies of Making Waves. Open to US and Canada readers only please.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

GUEST BLOG: PATRICIA EIMER

Keeping it Real in the City of Bridges


Poking around here a few months ago I saw a post on the importance of location in stories by historical writer Jacquie Rogers and I have to agree with her. In a historical, location is everything. Nothing gets on my nerves worse than an author who hasn’t done their research on a historical book and its locations.

Which is probably why I write contemporary paranormals. I love to read historical but I’ve got to say all the research causes me to flash back to graduate school.

Once I got over the craving for sludgy coffee thinking about graduate school caused I started to think about locations in paranormals and contemporary romances. Stephen King’s stories wouldn’t work in Southern California. I don’t think anyone could argue that Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie Fraser wouldn’t be nearly as compelling anywhere else besides the wilds of Scotland and North Carolina. Somewhere like Edinburgh he’d lose his sparkle.

My new series (Luck of the Devil is the first of 3 books) is set in Pittsburgh. The beautiful City of Bridges. Didn’t know that didya? Yep, we’ve got more bloody bridges here than anywhere else besides Venice Italy. And every single one of them is congested at rush hour. That’s not all we have here though. We have the Carnegie Museums which are world class, an amazing library system, and all sorts of amazing things to see. We also have more historical sites than you can shake a stick at. Which brings up the question – why hasn’t someone set a historical here?
Now you may ask: why would I have the Devil’s youngest daughter living in Pittsburgh? Besides, the obvious fact that I live here and it make location scouting a lot easier?
Well first, have you seen our winters? Hell. Frozen. Over. About 4 months out of the year.
Second, I always thought the Devil would be a sports fan. And let’s be serious – he’s not going to be rooting for a group of losers. And that means he’s going to be a fan of the Steelers and the Penguins. Most importantly though is that the people of Pittsburgh have a live and let live sort of mindset. Paranormal creatures could live here and no one would even notice as long as they didn’t suddenly announce they were a Cleveland Browns fan.
Besides, setting my books in Pittsburgh allows me to show all the wonderful people and places who really call this city home. Primanti Brothers and the Church Brewworks in this book both exist. So does Soloman Brother’s Seafood and the charming town of Washington, PA which are locations in the second book of this series.
So while location may not be as critical to my books as they are to Diana Gabaldon’s, I couldn’t imagine Luck of the Devil being the same anywhere but here. Pittsburgh is as much a character in Luck of the Devil as anyone else. It lives and breathes like every location should in a novel. And it’s a character I’m lucky enough to spend time with every day.
Now if it would just clear up the damn traffic, we’d be the best of friends.

After a stint of “practical thinking” in her twenties where she earned degrees in Business and Economics, Patricia Eimer gave in and followed her passion for books. Her first novel, Luck of the Devil, is coming out August 2011 from Entangled Publishing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

GUEST BLOG: MARY ELLEN DENNIS


JUGGLING WRITING IN MULTIPLE GENRES


I’ve always written in multiple genres because I like to write what I like to read and I read in multiple genres. I can’t even imagine an author writing in a genre she or he doesn’t read.

Once upon a long time ago, I decided I wanted to be a full-time novelist and I’d give myself 3 months to see if I could write a book. I took a hiatus from my job as a journalist and lived off my meager savings—hooray for Happy Hour free buffets and saltine crackers from Wendy’s (along with an enormous jar of generic peanut butter). For my first book, I thought (optimistically), I’d write a women’s fiction, somewhat modeled after Judith Krantz (Scruples) and Susan Isaacs (Almost Paradise) along with a wee bit of John Steinbeck (East of Eden), and I’d tell my story from the first-person POV (Point of View) of three different women.

Everything was fine until I brought my three women together! Today I’d continue writing the story from one woman’s POV. Back then, I tried to write the same chapter (over and over and over again) from each woman’s POV:-). The book started to grow. And GROW. Until, halfway through, it was longer than Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

Obviously, my book was a disaster. But the silver lining was that I knew I wanted, with all my heart and soul, to be a novelist. I wanted to experience the “high” I felt when I expressed my thoughts through words. All I had to do was learn my craft! So rather than go back to my newspaper, I wrote during the day and waited tables at night.

Having lost 55 (and a half!) lbs on Weight Watchers, I took a part-time job as a WW lecturer and, watching members weight in, I thought: “Wouldn't it be funny if some maniac was killing off diet club member when they reached their goal weight? What if people were eating as if their lives depended on it?” Using that concept, I wrote Throw Darts at a Cheesecake, starring diet club leader Ellie Bernstein, then 3 other Ellie Bernstein Mysteries: Beat Up a Cookie, Chain a Lamb Chop to the Bed, and Strangle a Loaf of Italian Bread, under the name Denise Dietz.

My diet club series was very popular, but I hit the bestseller lists with Footprints in the Butter– an Ingrid Beaumont Mystery co-starring Hitchcock the Dog – now available as a full-cast “romantic mystery” audio book (http://www.sirenaudiostudios.com/). The diet club mysteries and “Footprints” were written by my alter-ego, Denise Dietz.

I still wanted to write romance, my first love, so I began working on a saga (Heaven’s Thunder) that would consume 10 years of my life. At the same time I wrote more mysteries, and I finally wrote my women’s fiction novel, Soap Bubbles, about three women affiliated with a popular soap opera. I also wrote a mystery/horror novel, Fifty Cents for Your Soul, about an uptight actress possessed by a randy doppelganger. “Fifty Cents”—which sold out and is now available as an ebook—was inspired by events that occurred during the filming of The Exorcist. My sister, Eileen Dietz, played The Demon, plus many of the possession sequences, and she allowed me to use her journal with all the technical details (the rising bed and rotating head, the pea-soup whoops) if I killed off the film director J.

The seed for my circus historical romance, The Greatest Love on Earth, was planted when I researched Heaven's Thunder and learned that the circus had visited Colorado in the early 1900s. A big circus. With elephants! And what was then called a cameleopard (giraffe). Curiosity piqued, I ferreted out background data, read dozens of books, and although no one circus is the basis for The Greatest Love on Earth, P.T. Barnum's comes close.

I wrote a contemporary, paranormal romance, Hallie’s Comet, and I can’t begin to tell you the thrill I experienced when that book was published. Having sworn on a stack of Stephen Kings that someday I’d write an historical romance inspired by the poem “The Highwayman,” I wrote The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter, and despite my track record as a best-selling author, that book was difficult to market because publishers were “concerned” about a couple of 13th Century ghosts in a 1790s time period. One publisher didn’t shy away from the ghosts, thank goodness. First published as a hardcover in 2007, “Landlord” received starred reviews and went into four printings, and I’m extremely grateful to Sourcebooks (www.sourcebooks.com/author/mary-ellen-dennis.html) for making it available in paperback.

No matter what the genre, I always remember that the name of the game is emotions. If the sad bits don’t make me shed a tear, I’ve likely done it wrong. If the sexy bits don’t turn me on, they likely will fail to do it for my readers. Therefore, no matter what the genre—romance or mystery, women’s fiction or horror, erotica or generational saga—I need to create believable characters in believable situations, with REAL emotions my readers can share.

All of my (multiple genre) books, including my Kindle ebooks, are at my website (http://www.denisedietz.com/), and most include excerpts.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Former singer/actress and perennial rule-breaker Mary Ellen Dennis is the author of several award-winning historical romance novels and culinary mysteries and is growing her audience for both. She is married to novelist Gordon Aalborg (aka Victoria Gordon), whom she met online through a writer's group; they live on Vancouver Island. She has two books in stores this month, released by Sourcebooks Casablanca: The Greatest Love on Earth—set in the exotic world of a 19th century circus and sweeps readers into death-defying feats, dangerous rivalries, and a love that has all the thrills and romance of the greatest show on earth., and a reissue of The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter: A fast-paced and passionate retelling of the story of two timeless lovers who would die for each other. If only they didn’t have to. This gorgeous romance gives the poem a whole new depth and a happy ending. For more information, please visit http://www.maryellendennis.com/.

Leave a comment for the chance to win one of 2 copies of The Greatest Love on Earth. Open to US and Canada readers only please.

Friday, August 12, 2011

GUEST BLOG: DEE TENORIO

"Making Pineapple Upside Down Cake"

You probably are wondering if I misunderstood which blog I was writing on today. Or, maybe, you thought you were about to get an awesome baking tip. Alas, I'm here to talk to you about...the dreaded "Pineapple" book. And how it's possible to come out of one with something more delicious than you imagined.

Which leads to the first question you must be asking—What on EARTH is a pineapple book?

That, my friends, is what writers call the painful experience of writing a book that insists on being difficult. Like giving birth to a pineapple—and trust me, that's what it feels like. Like some hard, oddly shaped thing with spiky things all over it is trying to come out of your mind, leaving the author only one option—push through the discomfort and try to get out of the book alive.

See, you go into it with the best of intentions. You think you have it planned. The synopsis is great, the plot works wonderfully and your characters are perfect for the story. You're gonna knock this book out and go about your life in the meantime.

And at first, it's going along fine. Pineapple books are like that. But then you get to know your characters a little bit and you realize, this hero or heroine would never do what you have planned. But, you're not daunted yet, every story needs a little adjustment. You can tweak this. You can tweak that. And ok, that, too. And...and...annnnnd....annnnnnnd....

This is that part where you look at your synopsis and say, "Uh oh, I think I'm off the grid, folks." (And possibly other, bluer things. I usually do, anyway.)

Then it turns into decision time. You can go back, look for where you made your wrong turn and head back to the safety of your well-planned, if slightly altered, synopsis. Or you can follow the characters and this new story and maybe unearth something better than you ever imagined.

Personally, I cling desperately to the synopsis even as my characters wildly drive me into the arms of insanity. Deadlines are not the place to go traipsing willy-nilly through the forest, I always remind myself, but I'm also a huge proponent for going where the story leads. In the end, it's never really a contest. Because one thing I've learned is that pineapple books are often the ones where I grow as a writer. I stretch and push against my mental envelope and get deeper into my own emotional responses. 

When the book hurts, you're doing something right.

There is a price for this, though. You're going to pull out some hair. You are going to lose some sleep—probably a lot. And you're going to burn dinner. OFTEN. In my case, I usually come out sick and sleepless, too. But you're also going to come out the other side with more confidence, a stronger sense of what you can achieve and a decided militance concerning synopses, lol.

So how do you get your Pineapple Upside Down Cake? Well, the pineapple comes of it's own accord. The upside-down, well, that's the state of your life for a little while as you push out the pineapple. The cake? That's what you get from facing the challenge and working through it. It's one of those rare times when you can have your cake and eat it too.

So, who out there has faced a pineapple of your own (doesn't have to be writing)? Share your pineapple in the comments and be entered to win an ecopy of both "Tempting The Enemy" (Book 1 of the Resurrection series) and the soon to be released Book 2, "Deceiving The Protector"! 1 winner, international is just fine. 

Just to give you a taste of what you'll be getting into, here's a quick excerpt!

EXCERPT:

The scent was finally clear.

And it went straight to his head.

Female. Apples. Cool water. Rich earth. Rain. Sunshine.

He almost couldn’t separate the impressions, but the discordant thread of fear kept him from running forward after it. Wherever she was, she was aware she’d been followed. If there was one thing he knew about strays, forewarned meant forearmed.

He followed the scent trail slowly, stepping carefully down the embankment, not needing to draw in a full breath to sense her anymore. To taste her. Soft, almost floral but not quite. Cool, like a fresh stream, crisp, laced with…mint. For some reason, the bouquet reminded him of his childhood back in South Dakota, when spring had just begun to melt the snows. Fresh, untouched…promising.

He stilled at the unexpected memory, blinking a few times to clear it from his head. This wasn’t South Dakota and this female might still turn out to be feral. A clouded head could get him killed.

He searched around, but there was still no trace of anyone on the ground.

He nearly missed the bag lying almost under the root of an apple tree. The beaten tan backpack with a sleeping roll tightly tied beneath it blended almost perfectly with the dirt. Almost as if it had been chosen for that specific purpose. But that wasn’t what had him freezing in place.

Crouched on one thick upper limb, nearly hidden by fat, healthy foliage, a woman waited, not even breathing. Green eyes watched him, almost the same color as the light-speckled leaves obscuring her face. Focused. Unblinking. A predator’s stare, waiting for him to walk into her trap.

Attraction kicked him in the gut hard, his body responding to that even glare so fast he just stopped himself from sucking a breath in through his teeth. Difficult not to like a woman smart enough to nearly get the jump on him.

He came closer, keeping his posture relaxed. Loose-limbed. Unthreatening. A human would probably think he was just strolling, but the woman in the tree wasn’t human. She had to have scented what he was as well because she didn’t seem to be lowering her guard. Had yet to blink even. Cautious.

That was fair. In this day and age, a female alone had to be paranoid to survive, period. But her guard seemed a little higher than most, the grip of her fingers on the tree strung extra tight, especially for a shifter with sheathed claws. As if taking the wrong step might turn her from cornered to kamikaze. He stopped moving, taking stock of her once more from this closer position.

Full pink lips that reminded him of lush roses were drawn into an implacable line. Seemed wrong, to see a mouth that inviting pulled into such a stark, emotionless shape. A thick sheaf of wheat-colored hair hung over one shoulder in a fat braid, the tail of which curled around the pleasant hint of a breast. Inexplicably for early August, a dark red winter scarf—looped loosely a few times around her neck—obscured those possible curves more than the fluttering leaves. A smudge of dust smeared one flushed cheek while thick bangs, unevenly cut and wet with sweat, put the bits of her face that he could see into that tiniest bit more shadow. Except for those eyes. They glowed—rebellious, apprehensive, ready for an attack.

Did she have as many knives on her body as he did? The look she was giving him had him guessing she might be packing more. And a few more teeth, too.

The kick in his gut turned into a battering ram.

Screw his assigned agenda, this had just gotten interesting. He bit back the smile that tugged his lips. He already knew it wouldn’t help him lure her closer. The instinctive pleasure of a chasing Wolf never gave the prey much comfort.

“Hello up there,” he said, still a few feet from the foot of the tree, looking at her from under the brim of his hat. His heel made a scuffing sound on the ground as he kicked a pebble out from under his boot.

Her lip moved, just as a soft, feminine snarl rumbled from her throat.

“You wouldn’t be planning to take those apples without paying for them, now, would you?” His aw-shucks voice had gotten him in with the most nervous strays in Resurrection like a magic wand. If she wasn’t feral, she should calm right down.

Another step closer and he could see a bit more of her. Her shirt was bigger on her than he’d first thought. Her arm where she braced herself to the trunk of the tree was wiry. Small, over-defined muscles rippled under golden skin, no trace of softness to them at all. The same to her throat. She was all hard angles and sinews. Her bones stood out too far from her flesh, hollowed cheeks leaving her full features sharp and forbidding.

The absolute wrongness of that had him forgetting his plan for a crucial half second and losing his practiced expression for one that did nothing to hide his scowl. Like a shot, she bolted up a branch, behind more leaves, so fast he almost missed the movement, and he swallowed a bitter curse at his own stupidity. This wasn’t his first stray. He knew better than to spook them, especially the half-starved ones.

As shifters, they were stronger than humans, could survive harsher conditions for longer, but it also made them more instinctive. A hell of a lot less reasonable. This one looked like she’d gone damn close to the outside of what even a shifter could endure.

The protector in him couldn’t let that go. He circled around until he could get a bead on her again through the coverage. “How long has it been since you ate?”

They were supposed to have fed her at the last safe house on the Underground, but that would have been at least two days ago.

“I have protein bars in my pack if you’re hungry.”

Her mouth pressed tighter together, her gaze icy as hell, before she moved to another branch.

Shit, this wasn’t going well at all. He raised his hands, letting her see that his claws were sheathed. “You don’t have to worry, okay? My name is Jensen Tate. I’m from the Underground and I’ve been looking for you. I’m here to help.”

“I don’t need help.” She might smell like spring, and all that golden skin and hair might look like summer, but the cold hiss of her voice was pure winter. Deep winter.

Well, he’d never liked acting charming anyway. He put his hands down to his hips. “You don’t know what’s going on out there. You’re not safe.”

Her chin dipped ever so slightly, and damn if she didn’t smirk at him as if that was obvious.

This time his boot scuffed the ground with frustration. “Look, lady, I’ve been tracking you all day on zero sleep and double time, don’t you think the least you could do is come down here and talk to me?”

“No.” Just that. No. As if she could stay in that tree all damn day.

Given the stubborn cut of her jaw and mouth, he grudgingly accepted that she could stay there all damn year. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

“I’ve heard that one before.”

She probably had. Tate ground his teeth, wishing for once his sense of smell wasn’t so strong. This close, his senses were clouded by her. Heat or no Heat, she was intoxicating. Distracting. Arousing…

He twisted his head until he felt the relieving crack of the joint, then the other way until it did the same for that side. There wasn’t going to be any of that kind of thinking, even if she wasn’t looking at him as if he were some kind of creature. He was there to do a job. A Sibile job. If that didn’t kill a hard-on in zero-point-two seconds flat, nothing would.

They stared at each other for another soundless second.

Nope. She still smelled good enough to eat. To drink and let the flavor of her stay on his tongue to savor before dipping down again for more.

Damn it.

“You have to get down here so we can get moving. I need to get you somewhere safer. Now.” Before he got it in his head to unwrap her from that scarf and find out for himself exactly where her soft spots might be. “This part of the Underground is shutting down.”

A flicker in those leaf-colored eyes. “You’re taking me to my next safe house?”

The one she was supposed to have already gotten to, except the woman seemed to travel slower than molasses on a frigid day when she wasn’t up in a fucking tree. He ground his teeth in an effort to speak calmly. “Yes.”

“Then I’ll make sure to get there on my own by sunup.”

His glare didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest. “That’s not acceptable to the Alpha.” Not to mention physically impossible. Her assigned safe house was more than two full days’ travel.

One of her shoulders hitched disinterestedly. Nothing else on her moved.

Goddamn it. “Might as well get down here, I’m not going anywhere until you do.”

“I’m not the one in a hurry.”

“You should be.” He allowed the darkest aspects of his Wolf to rumble through his voice. 

She might not be interested in what he had to say, but there wasn’t a Wolf born who didn’t respond to dominance.

An eyebrow raised on her face, but that was it.

Well, shit. That just left him with the truth. “There’s a killer out there, lady. Targeting shifters.”

“Everyone’s targeting shifters. That’s not new.”

“This one’s hunting travelers on the Underground.”

She wasn’t so glib this time, her cool-toned voice dropping to a softer rumble. One his ears liked much better. Smoky, rough. The kind of voice he liked waking up to in the predawn hours. “If I’m dead, it won’t matter to me, will it?”

Until he registered what she was saying.

Something dark snaked though his gut. The low, menacing growl couldn’t be kept in. “It matters to the Alpha. You’re a traveler, you’re under his protection.”

She blew her bangs out of her face, fluttering the leaf in front of her face in the process. Here he was, hot, tired, uncomfortably aware of her, and all the while she looked as if he was ruining her Saturday afternoon by coming along to save her life. Worse, those damn full lips looked absolutely suckable when pursed. “Protection is just a fancy word for control.”

Well, she might be annoying, but she wasn’t stupid.

At least he finally had something he could use to get her on the ground. “You’re always free to leave the Underground and try your luck with the humans. Maybe we should start with the owner of this orchard. Think he’ll shoot first or second when I tell him I spotted a shifter stealing from his trees?”

The straight line of her mouth turned into a mutinous little rainbow-shape. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“Oh, honey, you wouldn’t believe the things I dare.” Neither could he, not with her strangely compelling scent taking his imagination places the little cutthroat up there probably wouldn’t appreciate. “Now get your ass out of the tree or I’ll help the farmer load the gun.”

“That’s supposed to inspire me to trust you?”

“Who said anything about trust?” He bent to pick up her bag from under the root when she suddenly jumped down, nearly landing on his arm. Tate glanced up, counting a good eight feet from where she’d climbed to where she now crouched, her eyes hard as frozen emeralds, guarding the pack as if it were the gateway to the Holy Land. If he didn’t know better, he’d expect a hiss and a scratch. “You sure you’re not a cat?”

Jumps like that on weak bones tended to cause breaks, but she hadn’t so much as flinched, not even as she stood to her full height. “Don’t touch my stuff. Never touch me or anything of mine. Ever.

Tate straightened, his frown a hard thing against his teeth. She was even thinner than he thought. Taller, too. The top of her head actually came all the way to his chin. But that height didn’t work in her favor. She looked as though a hard Santa Ana breeze could knock her over. Old, worn boy-jeans hung on her hips, rolled cuffs too wide around her calves. True anger, flash-burn hot and fluid, coursed through him. How long had she been running on empty before she found the Underground? And why hadn’t their people tied her up and poured food down her throat? Shit, he might have to do that himself. A few more days like this and she’d be too weak to eat. His jaws ground together. Not acceptable.

“You deaf or you just like people yelling at you?”

He lifted his hand in mock surrender, stepping back. She wanted to carry her bag, fine. Hard as it was to fight the urge to protect, he did it. Because something else bothered him even more than the clear marks of starvation. The look in her eyes as she’d stopped him.
For a half a second, she’d looked…scared. Terrified. And not of him.

No doubt about it. This assignment had Aw, fuck written all over it.

Twice.

But it didn’t matter how bad his instincts said this was. What mattered was that she was alive, still strong enough to recover. He’d deal with the rest later.


____________________________________

Author Bio:
Dee Tenorio has a few reality issues. After much therapy for the problem—if one can call being awakened in the night by visions of hot able-bodied men a problem—she has proved incurable. It turns out she enjoys tormenting herself by writing sizzling, steamy romances of various genres spanning paranormal mystery dramas, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Preferably starring the sexy, somewhat grumpy heroes described above and smart-mouthed heroines who have much better hair than she does.
 
The best part is, no more therapy bills!

Well, not for Dee, anyway. Her husband and kids, on the other hand...

If you would like to learn more about Dee and her work, please visit her website at www.deetenorio.com or her blog at www.deetenorio.com/Blog/.