Beginning January 1, 2013

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

Friday, June 29, 2012

GUEST BLOG: SUSAN HIGGINBOTHAM

Photobucket



When I am asked what my favorite historical period is, I have to give the extremely unoriginal answer of “Tudor England.” What’s not to like? It’s full of larger-than-life characters—Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Sir Thomas More, Elizabeth I—and a host of fascinating supporting characters, with an endless supply of plots for a historical novelist.


Her Highness, the Traitor is the first novel I’ve written set in Tudor England, and it was also the easiest to research, thanks to the sheer volume of material available on the Internet. I rely heavily on primary sources (contemporary letters, wills, chronicles, Acts of Parliament, royal decrees, and so forth) in writing my novels, and most of the ones I needed were readily available online. Without ever having to leave the house or even to change out of my bathrobe, I found such items as the last wills of both my heroines, letters written by the various people in my novels, the scaffold speeches of my more unfortunate characters, and a list of the food consumed by the imprisoned Duchess of Somerset. I found a description of the remains of John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and a photograph of the carving his imprisoned son did in the Tower of London.


I also rely on secondary sources—modern biographies, histories, and journal articles—in doing my research too, of course. The references in these sources lead me to further sources, and often back to the primary sources I mentioned above. Because so much has been published about the Tudors, the trick is sometimes to learn when to stop researching and start writing! Even after I start writing, however, I never quit researching entirely, but remain alert for any new publication which relates to my novel.


When writing Her Highness, the Traitor, my ongoing research gave me an unpleasant surprise—the wedding date of one of my characters. I had read that the date was 1555, but a look at an inquisition postmortem—a proceeding where it was determined what lands a deceased person had held at the time of this death—made me realize that the date more likely was 1554. Unfortunately, at this point my book was in the revision stage, and the ending had been drafted with the 1555 date. After discussion with some of my fellow history buffs and some teeth-gnashing, I finally revised the last couple of chapters of my book to accommodate the 1554 date.


Research can turn up some pleasant surprises too, however. Early in writing my novel, I came across a letter written by Jane Dudley, Duchess of Northumberland. The letter was so moving, I knew that I had to give Jane a prominent part in the novel. She and Frances Grey, Duchess of Suffolk, ended up narrating the book in alternating chapters. I think Jane’s intrusion made for a better novel, although perhaps Frances, who had to end up sharing the spotlight with a Dudley, wouldn’t agree!

www.SusanHigginbotham.com

Thursday, June 28, 2012

GUEST BLOG: JULIE EBERHART PAINTER

Photobucket



Childhood and young adulthood traumas are pivotal times, when our life view is altered permanently or our values and purpose are challenged. That is when we take our pain to the writers’ table and do our most creative bleeding. And so it was for a good friend.


After reading his account of a fire that killed his co-workers following a carefree teen summer working together, I realized the camaraderie established in close quarters at that age has a tremendous affect on us.


My first summer job was not traumatic but an introduction to the world of work, office politics—although there was no office, just open fields.


It was 1954, my first 40-hour a week job, completely removed from parental supervision. I applied for and received my Social Security card. Unlike my driver’s license that the examiner warned me not to use for driving because I was so uncoordinated, my Social Security card came with no strings except not to lose it. I didn’t.


The job included pollinating and emasculating tomatoes at the Burpee Seed trial gardens at Fordhook Farms in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. The property was not far from what was known locally as Farm School, but officially as the National Agricultural College, where Jonas Salk discovered the vaccine to eradicate polio. Yes, that Fordhook family farm, as in the Lima beans. Among my fellow “farm workers,” college students, one botanist and several European students studying America’s version of crop rotation and modern agriculture, were old church friends and a few new faces.


My day began before seven, not a big strain as my dad and I were early risers year-round. Each morning, he went to the kitchen ahead of me and had breakfast ready. We shared burnt toast and eggs and a pot of coffee. He even packed my lunch, then dropped me off to work in the sun until five. No one knew about ozone layers, but determined not to burn, I had spent two weeks in early June at the local pool accumulating a tan of protection. I dressed for work in my uncle’s old long-sleeved dress shirt, shorts and penny loafers. Twenty of us carried our box crates to the tiered field, turned them upside down and sat. As we moved from row to row, we pulled the boxes after us.


Naturally, for such a well-educated group boredom was a given. After all, how much mental energy does it take to pull off three green leaves from a tomato blossom and dab the pistil with a paintbrush of pollen, meant to create the newest variety: Big Boy tomatoes.


Long before the advent of Trivial Pursuit, we played word games such as Guess This and What would you do if?. As the heat rose, each person made up a set of 20 questions. Mine centered on ballet and period furniture. But of all the games the most fun was “My Aunt Bessie likes…?” Eventually, even the new people figured out what Aunt Bessie liked. She liked Mississippi but hated Ohio. She liked cuddling, but hated sex, and so on. As each person figured it out, they’d shout, “I got it.” Later, they’d whisper the code to our supervisor. Despite the fact we played every day, shouting our answers from field to field, when we added a new employee, we acted out the game until they understood the trick of uncovering Aunt Bessie’s preferences.


The days went swiftly. Hot as we were, dark skinned as we became, wet as the irrigation system turned on us when the temperature reached 95-degrees made us, we had fun. Arriving home, our cleanup ringed our parent’s bathtubs green, oily with chlorophyll, and hard to scour. It was a magical summer.


When I remember it with such pleasure and hear how my friend’s summer ended with his being the only survivor of a horrible hotel fire in the Catskills—he lost 14 of his comrades—it amazes me that I never mentioned this period of my life in my writings. Those bonds are forever. His were turned to ashes. He’s a brilliant writer because of it, but he’s still grieving and asking in everything he writes “Why me? Why did I survive?”


About the Author: Julie Eberhart Painter is the Champagne Books author of Mortal Coil, Tangled Web and the 2011 Book of the Year, Kill Fee. The sequel, Medium Rare releases in December 2012.


January 2013, Daughters of the Sea releases from MuseItUp Publishing. Visit Julie’s Web site at www.books-jepainter.com



A cosy fast-paced romp through the world of duplicate bridge as played by the senior citizens in a retirement village in central Florida. While the club faces murder and reality, Penny survives threats, a complete change in lifestyle, and a secret that breaks her heart

Half page teaser:



When Penny walked into the law offices of Hewett, Martin and Smythe, she was especially glad that she’d dressed up. The odour of leather was strong. The lobby had high ceilings and carpet so soft she almost turned her ankle. It was as if soundproofing were a priority. Somehow it put her at ease—slowed her down.


She gave her name to the secretary-receptionist and sat on a nearby leather chair. A few minutes later, a nice looking gentleman, early thirties, light brown hair—five foot-seven or so—walked into the room and held out his hand. “Ms. Olsen, I'm Cole Martin, your uncle's attorney. Please step this way.”


Penny followed along the hallway behind him. She couldn’t help noticing that he moved like a dancer with a marble in his sock. This gave a hitch to his otherwise graceful gait. Penny watched, fascinated by the rhythm. She wouldn't mind dancing with him. Most men were too tall for her. She'd always ended an evening of dancing with a “broken” neck. Ashamed, she thought, my uncle hasn’t been dead two days and I'm thinking carnal thoughts about his attorney.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GUEST BLOG: MARIANNE WILLIS

Photobucket



Writing Save Me Sinfully



When I began writing Save Me Sinfully, which was titled My Guardian Demon at the time, I was considering a story about a demon wishing to redeem himself. I started researching about angels and demons and found some useful information from online sites like Wikipedia. Then I came across this interesting image.




This picture made me question what it would be like for a man who was half angel and half demon. How tormented would he be by his demon half, how considerate would his angel side allow him to be?


So, I worked on a draft. Honestly, I had no idea where the story was going at the time. I was trying to make my hero a dark, depressing man, but as I typed him, he was the opposite. Yes, Deacon Samuels is still dark, but he’s witty, and charming, and downright devious. It was then I decided he doesn’t want to redeem himself. He simply wants to be who he is.


I still needed something to make the plot work. I had to give him motive, a drive to make him feel complete; immortality. What else would a womanizing half-breed want?


So I had my hilarious hero, and his motive…it was now time for the heroine. She had to be honest, had to be pure at heart and the complete opposite to my hero. I believe I managed to make Angela all those things and more.


These characters were so much fun to write. The journey with them is something I will never forget. I love that they are not perfect, I love how they clash, and I love how it’s the two of them against the world. As their story progressed, I learned a lot about my own characters and like a puzzle, every piece fell into place. This is my first time being published. I’m enjoying the experience and can’t wait to get more of my work out there.





Alluring as an angel and devious as a demon, he is Deacon Samuels...a Deprecari.


The righteous archangels are finally prepared to give him immortality. About damn time! But nothing comes easy and Deacon must work for it. Protect church-loving librarian Angela Corbett from the demons chasing her and immortality is his. Simple? Not really…


Unlike Deacon, who has accepted both his angelic and demonic instincts, Angela wants no part of evil. She may be a Deprecari, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to the darkness.


Together, they encounter a desire so hot not even Hell can handle the heat. But just how far will Deacon go to protect Angela, and in doing so could he ultimately risk his chance at immortality?


Watch the video:




Save Me Sinfully is available through The Wild Rose Press as an ebook on July 6.


Paperback available at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.


Find the Author online at:


Blog http://marianne-willis.blogspot.com.au

Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/WillisMarianne

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marianne-Willis/41356790865559

Monday, June 25, 2012

GUEST BLOG: JAYNE FRESINA

Photobucket



Leave a comment on today's post and you may win a copy of The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine. U.S. and Canada only please.


Getting The Call - or Are You Kidding?



Since I first confessed, out loud, that I am —you know (hunches shoulders and whispers sheepishly) —a writer, I've had a lot of people ask me how I got my first book published. What did I do that got my manuscript noticed? Frankly, I have no idea. I wish I had clear answers.


Some people tell me all about software they've got that helps them write a book. I stare blankly, hoping I don't look stupid. Others tell me about spreadsheets they use to track their plots and characters. I reach for a glass of wine and nod solemnly. Truth is, I don't know much about the right way to write a book. I can tell you this with confidence - being a writer isn't nearly as easy as they make it seem in movies.


But I love writing. It's relaxing and wonderfully freeing for a mind that's always spinning—like a tumble-dryer, but with plots and characters instead of socks and t-shirts.


When I first wrote my stories down I never expected to show another living soul the outpourings of my imagination. However, one day, I plucked up the courage to show a friend. She persuaded me to try publication. I chased every agent taking on clients and I wrote a gazillion query letters. Most received form rejections. Some returned simply marked with a big "NO". They might as well have added a big red stamp that said "Are You Kidding?"


When an agent asked to review my first three chapters I was so thrilled —and naive—I thought that was as good as a publishing contract. Then she wanted my entire manuscript. Hard copy. I printed it off and sent it. Can't remember what it cost, but it couldn't have been cheap for about 700 double-spaced pages. I told everyone at work that a fabulous literary agent was interested in my book. People stared in awe. Well, it might have been carelessness, sheer hatred, or simply hunger if they hadn't had breakfast yet. I chose to believe it was awe. Weeks later this literary agent sent me a three-line rejection letter that reduced me to tears. For a week.


Mortified, I packed my writing away. No more of that humiliation. Fancy thinking I could get published!


But the stories still worked their evil magic inside me. I moved house, changed jobs, kept writing. With another manuscript finished, the bug was gnawing away at me again. What did I have to lose? Give it another try. The devilish addiction resumed. I sent queries to hundreds of agents. Few responded. Even fewer wanted samples. They quickly, or not so quickly, rejected me. It was a roller-coaster of emotion. Not just any roller-coaster. It was that one in Final Destination 3.


Then I signed with an agent. Excited about my manuscript she sent it off to the top list of publishers. I thought about my dress for the first red carpet appearance. What on earth would I do with my hair? Should I wear dangly earrings? I didn't want to look like a trollop, did I?


One by one the "love it, but..." emails rolled in. I stared to think Love It But was my name in a former life.


The agent continued valiantly on to the next set of publishers, but soon our options were dwindling as, I could tell, was her interest in my manuscript. After all, she had other writers and I was clearly not a hot property. This is a business after all. So we parted company and I was back to square one, clutching my manuscript in my bruised, sweaty hands, saddened but stronger. I kept writing.


Then, suddenly, I got an email from an editor at Sourcebooks. She loved my manuscript and my "voice". Would I be willing to make changes?


Would I? Are you kidding?


For several weeks I worked on revisions. Then I returned my edited manuscript and waited. On one surprisingly sunny afternoon in early March I had an email from Aubrey. She was taking my manuscript to the acquisitions board. Could I come up with some ideas for future books?


Could I? Are you kidding?


I tried not to get excited. After all, I'd been close before and had the Axminster pulled out from under me. So I stayed as calm as I could. The next day Aubrey wanted to know if she could call me.


Could she? Was she kidding me?


I vividly remember sitting on my bed, talking to her on the phone, staring at the sun shining on my feet. I'm not sure I took it all in. I know she offered me a contract for three books. I know she told me to take my time, take the contract to a lawyer if I needed and think about it. I know I tried very hard to be cool and not shout down the phone, "Are you kidding me?"


After we hung up, she sent me a "deal memo" with all the terms written out, so a blathering idiot like me could understand. Thankfully. Because I might have woken up the next day and figured it was a dream. I printed out that email. I still have it today and cherish it.


Oddly enough I didn't burst into tears. I always imagined I would, but I think I'd cried so many tears over all the bad news and crushed hopes I had none left when it came to that sunny spring day. I was simply thrilled, relieved, excited, terrified. Then I went back to my computer and kept writing. I thought - now I have a reason. Now when I say, I must write, people will nod sagely. They won't look at me with pity or amusement. Because now they'll know, I really do have to write. I have a contract that says it.


I'm a writer. See? There's my name. No, really. I'm not kidding.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Visit www.JayneFresina.com for more information.





THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE BY JAYNE FRESINA – IN STORES JUNE 2012

"Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentleman without other attachments need not apply."—Miss Sophie Valentine



A SCANDALOUS LADY…


Sophie Valentine knew placing an ad for a husband in the Farmers Gazette would bring her trouble-and she was right. When the darkly handsome, arrogantly charming Lazarus Kane shows up on her doorstep, the nosy residents of Sydney Dovedale are thrown into a gossiping tizzy. After all, it's common knowledge that Sophie is a young lady In Need of Firmer Direction. But even Sophie isn't so scandalous as to marry a complete stranger. .. is she?


SEEKS HANDSOME STRANGER…


Lazarus Kane has been searching for Sophie half of his life. She may not remember him, but he could never forget her. But the past is a dangerous thing, and it's best if his remains secret if he wants to tempt Sophie with ...


A MOST IMPROPER PROPOSAL…





Monday, June 18, 2012

GIVEAWAY: THE LAST ROMANOV by Dora Levy Mossanen

Photobucket

Today would have been the 111th birthday of Her Imperial Highness Anastasia Romanov, and mystery and questions still abound about her death. Is it possible she survived? Scientists say not--but the romance surrounding the mystery still remains a popular topic.


In honor of her birthday, Sourcebooks is giving away a copy of The Last Romanov to one lucky commenter. Leave a comment and let us know what you think about Anastasia and her disappearance. Because of shipping considerations, this giveaway is limited to US and Canada only, please.



About the Author:Dora Levy Mossanen was born in Israel as the country was gaining its independence and moved to Iran with her family when she was nine years old. After living in Israel, where female soldiers wore shorts and carried Uzis, she had a difficult time adjusting to Iranian culture, which required women to conceal themselves under chadors. The first days of her arrival coincided with the 1953 coup of Dr. Mossadegh when the Shah fled to Italy. Streets brimmed with demonstrators, supporting Dr. Mossadegh and dragging down statues of Mohammad Reza Shah. And the very next day, portraits of the Shah were displayed again and blaring microphones announced his return. These were her first experiences in a country of contradictions, a culture rich in legend, mythology, folklore, and superstition.


Her family’s roots go back 2,500 years in Persia, where her first inspiration and invaluable source of history was her grandfather, Doctor Habib Levy, a renowned historian. Dr. Levy introduced Dora to life in Mahaleh, the Jewish ghetto, to the horrors of anti-Semitism, and to the challenges of being Jewish in a Moslem country. The Islamic Revolution of 1979, the fall of the Shah, and arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini forced Mossanen and her family to leave Iran. They settled in Los Angeles, California and became part of what is now the largest Iranian community in the United States.


Despite being married, raising two daughters, and facing great opposition, Ms. Mossanen went back to school, causing another mini revolution—this one in her own home. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the University of California Los Angeles and a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Southern California.


Dora is the bestselling author of the widely acclaimed novels Harem and Courtesan, which have been translated into numerous languages, and is the recipient of the prestigious San Diego Editor’s Choice Award. She blogs for Huffington Post, reviews fiction for the Jewish Journal, and has been featured in various publications.





IN A TIME OF RASPUTIN'S MAGIC AND ROMANOV MYSTERY, A YOUNG GIRL FINDS HERSELF AT THE HEART OF THE ROYAL FAMILY


She was an orphan, ushered into the royal palace on the prayers of her majesty. Yet, decades later, her time spent in the embrace of the Romanovs haunts her still. Is she responsible for those murderous events that changed everything?


If only she can find the heir, maybe she can put together the broken pieces of her own past-maybe she can hold on to the love she found. Bursting to life with the rich and glorious marvels of Imperial Russia, The Last Romanov is a magical tale of second chances and royal blood.

Friday, June 15, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KRISTINE GRAYSON

Photobucket




Putting on an Editor’s Hat

Kristine Grayson



The kind folks here at The Long and Short Reviews know one of my secrets: I am very well known in the science fiction and fantasy fields under my real name, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. One hundred years ago, give or take, I spent a decade editing books and short stories, and most folks in the sf/f field still remember that.
So they ask: What’s the most common mistake new writers make?


Let’s weed out the writers who aren’t serious, the ones who write only one short story or one novel and then never write anything else. Those folks used to mail that single item to publisher after publisher, wondering why no one saw the brilliance of it. Today, those folks publish it electronically and wonder why they’re not earning Amanda Hocking numbers on their book. Those folks aren’t really trying very hard. They want to get rich quick and not do any work.


But the folks who really want to be writers? The ones who practice and do their best? What’s the most common mistake they make?


Their work is boring. Mediocre. Mundane. Unoriginal. Beautifully crafted, maybe, with lovely sentences, but predictable and not very entertaining.


New writers forget that they’re storytellers, not writers. Who cares if a sentence is perfect? Care that a story entertains. A story should surprise, bring enjoyment, and be memorable. It shouldn’t be like everything else.


And honestly, what makes a story like everything else? Peer workshops. Bootstrapping with other people who haven’t published and don’t know anything except how to rip the voice out of someone’s work and to make it like everything else. As an editor, I could always tell when a story had been workshopped to death. As an occasional teacher, I see it and wean the writer from a workshop format by showing that writer how to trust her own instincts.


One of my writing professors said something that stuck with me all these years. He said, “There are seven plots. Shakespeare wrote them better than anyone else. If that scares you, leave this class now.”


What’s original about writers is the way they tell those seven plots, the voice they use, and the amount of themselves they bring to the work. A workshop weeds out voice (it’s uncomfortable to read in a workshop setting—like this parenthetical phrase is for some overly critical readers), it neutralizes surprise (no one would believe that plot element could happen!), and it makes everyone sound like everyone else.


So be exciting! Trust your own instincts! Write something no one else would write!


And enjoy yourself.


That’s the advice I give to my students (these days), the advice I used to give on the convention circuit when I was an editor, and the advice I take myself. If I hadn’t taken this advice, I never would have written any of my Kristine Grayson novels. Fantasy? With sweet romance? Fairy tales and Greek myths? A strange voice in a genre that doesn’t always like voice? I shouldn’t do it. Workshops would hate it.


Fortunately, real readers disagree. And I have a blast writing the Grayson books. I hope you enjoy reading them.


About the Author:Before turning to romance writing, award-winning author Kristine Grayson edited the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and ran Pulphouse Publishing (which won her a World Fantasy Award). She has won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and, under her real name, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the prestigious Hugo award. She lives with her own Prince Charming, writer Dean Wesley Smith, in Portland, Oregon.



Kristine Grayson’s bestselling fairy tale romances bring the classic stories into the present day, where fairy tale characters must grapple with the complexities of modern life as well as their own destinies. Emma (Sleeping Beauty) fell into a magical coma that lasted for a thousand years when a boy she didn’t even liked kissed her. Now that Emma’s awake, she’s determined to be a normal girl…a normal girl who is deathly afraid of kissing. When she meets history professor Michael Found, Emma has to choose between her fear of kissing and her potential Prince Charming.


Monday, June 11, 2012

GUEST BLOG: ERIN NICHOLAS

Photobucket





This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Erin will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and choice of an eBook from her backlist to one commenter at every stop. Click on the tour banner above to see the rest of the stops on the tour.



What I've Learned from My Characters



Does it sound strange that an author can learn something from the characters she or he creates? Maybe a little. They’re fictional characters. The author is coming up with the words, putting them on the page in a specific order. Anything that shows up is from his or her own mind, right? So how can you learn something while writing a book?


Ah, well, turns out it’s not so strange after all.


As you create these characters you have to really think about people, and their experiences, what makes them tick, what matters to them. And yes, my characters do sometimes surprise me and even teach me things.


For instance, this scene came together as I was writing it. I didn’t plan a lot of this out ahead of time. But it’s a moment when my hero, Marc, realizes—and kind-of admits— that he cares about the heroine, Sabrina, in spite of knowing about her mistakes and bad decisions. Not to mention that he challenges the “other guy” who thinks he’s in love with her about his feelings. (By the way, Sabrina is a singer/songwriter who has just come home after four years on the road chasing her dream. She thinks it’s time to settle down, even though her heart’s not in it).


“You were in love with a very specific idea of who you wanted. And you thought you could turn Sabrina into that. But that’s what she wanted to be.” He pointed at the stage. “She wanted to travel and live in the big city and let virtual strangers sleep on her pull-out couch so she could learn French and Zumba and other miscellaneous interesting things.” He took a deep breath. “If you love her, you would want her to be happy and be herself. Instead, you get jealous and pissed because she isn’t what you want. That’s not love, Luke.”


Luke was staring at him as he finished what had turned into a rant.


“You done?” he finally asked.


“I think so. For now.”


“You’re a love expert now?”


Marc tried not to react. Luke knew him well, could read his expressions and body language extremely easily. He didn’t want to be in love and refused to admit that he might be. There was a baby to think about, and that was still enough to freak him out more than he wanted to admit.


“I don’t have to be an expert. It’s obvious.” He looked at his friend. “Isn’t it? How can you resent something that makes her look like that?” He gestured at the stage again. They’d finished the song and Sabrina was flushed and breathing harder. She took a bow and smiled a smile of pure happiness. She was gorgeous. “How can you not want her to look and feel like that every day for the rest of her life?”


“I hated that something could make her look like that when I was pretty sure I never would,” Luke said quietly. Marc turned to stare at him.


“But you still want to marry her? Knowing that you can’t do that for her and knowing that you can’t let her be herself?”


“I was hoping she’d gotten all of that out of her system.” Luke sounded pissed.


Marc looked at the stage. “Does it look like she’s gotten it out of her system?”


“No. But it’s time for her to settle down.”


Marc swallowed hard. Maybe what he was about to say was overkill but… “She shouldn’t have to settle for less than everything she wants.”


Sabrina, isn’t perfect. Far from it. She’s made some bad choices and she hasn’t always been the nicest person. However, Marc, the hero, sees beneath that. He sees her vulnerability, her desire to do the right thing now. And he loves her because of that. That love leads him to want her to be who she really wants to be, instead of who everyone thinks she should be.


That’s the best lesson any of my characters have taught me: true love is knowing someone’s flaws and mistakes, and loving them anyway.


I really love that message and hope readers see that in Anything You Want.


About the Author:Erin Nicholas is the author of sexy contemporary romances. Her stories have been described as toe-curling, enchanting, steamy and fun. She loves to write about reluctant heroes, flawed heroines, sex with food and happily ever afters. She does not like to write dark moments, synopses or bios. You can find Erin on the web at www.ErinNicholas.com, www.ninenaughtynovelists.blogspot.com, on Twitter and even on Facebook (when necessary).





Suppose the solution to all your problems is the one thing you never wanted…


It figures the one time Sabrina Cassidy is determined to do the responsible thing, karma kicks in. After four years on the road chasing her musical dream, she’s stranded six hours from home with no money, a ruined credit history—and morning sickness.


Out of options, she swallows her legendary independent streak and calls the only person who won’t hang up on her. Luke, the man she left behind.


Marc Sterling’s first instinct is to protect his business partner and best friend from another broken heart. That means letting her think she’s talking to Luke, then finding a way to send her in the opposite direction.


When he shows up at her hotel room, there’s something in the air beside their customary insults. Sure, her rebellious attitude, smart mouth—and purple panties—still drive him crazy, but now it’s a different kind of crazy. The kind that has him driving her home instead of to the nearest airport.


And when Luke offers to solve all her problems if she’ll only say “I do”, Marc realizes he’s just crazy enough—about her—to forget whose heart he wanted to protect.


Warning: Contains two people who don’t like each other very much, a Toyota that can’t quite handle the road trip home, and a spontaneous proposal. Or two. Or three. And foreplay with—what else—pie filling.






Friday, June 8, 2012

GUEST BLOG: SAMANTHA GRACE

Photobucket



What is it about the Regency time period that most appeals to you?


Reading Regency historical romance is an escape for me. The times were very different then, so there isn’t a lot that reminds me of everyday life. There’s no mention of grocery shopping, dishes to wash, errands to run, or phone calls to make. There are no parent-teacher-student conferences the characters are rushing to after a long day at the office. It’s a nice break from the hectic, modern world. It’s like an adult fairytale in a way.


What I enjoy most about writing Regency is the challenge of building my own world while still trying to make it fit in with what most Regency readers expect. There’s a balancing act of trying to interest readers new to the subgenre without alienating longtime readers of Regency romance. I also enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out how something in the plot can happen given the social, medical, and technological limits of the time period.


What is the hardest part of writing for you?


There are many parts that can be hard: writing under a deadline, keeping up with an accelerated release schedule, juggling being a mom/wife/employee/author, revising again and again in a short amount of time, not allowing criticism to get me down, staying healthy when a lot of my day can be spent sitting. But the truth is I still love writing more than any other job I’ve ever had. I know how lucky I am to be able to follow my dream. I don’t take it for granted.


The biggest challenge for me, however, is getting the first draft written. I feel confident I can make a story that’s at least halfway cohesive if I have something to work with, but a blank page is no help at all. The best thing for me to do is keep going unless I get a strong sense the story has veered off in the wrong direction. Then I may need to take a day or two—no longer—to hash it out in my mind before picking the story up again.


About the Author:
Samantha enjoys life in Wisconsin with her husband, two kids, and a multitude of characters which spring from her imagination. When she isn’t working as a clinical social worker, writing, or slowly hammering away at her long to-do list, she likes attending pilates classes, getting manicures and pedicures with her daughter, and being in the great outdoors.


Her debut book Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. To learn more about Samantha’s bachelors, visit www.samanthagraceauthor.com. You may also find her on Facebook and Twitter, or blogging with fellow authors at www.ladyscribes.blogspot.com.


Jake broke her heart by leaving for the country after sharing a passionate kiss.
Lady Amelia broke his by marrying his best friend.


When she returns to town a widow – pursued by an infamous rake, Jake’s debauched brother, and just maybe by Jake himself – Lady Amelia will have a mess and a half on her hands.


A sparkling romp through the ton, Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half delivers a witty Regency romance in which misunderstandings abound, reputations are put on the line, and the only thing more exciting than scandal is true love.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KATHRYN MEYER GRIFFITH

Photobucket



Why I Wrote Evil Stalks the Night

…and also The Heart of the Rose



Evil Stalks the Night-Revised Author’s Edition is special to me for many reasons. It was my first published novel in 1984 and as it came out again on June 1, 2012, rereleased from Damnation Books for the first time in nearly thirty years, it brought my over forty year writing career full circle. With its publication all fourteen of my old books are out again for the first time in decades. Sure, it’s been a grueling, tedious two-and- a-half year job rewriting and editing these new versions but I’m thrilled it’s over. I have my babies reborn and out in the world again…and all in e books for the first time ever. Now, perfectionist that I am, I can finally move forward and write new stories.


I’ll start at the very beginning because, though Evil Stalks the Night was my first published novel, it wasn’t my first written one.


That first book was The Heart of the Rose. I began writing it after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, no longer going to college, not yet working full time, and was bored out of my skin. I read an historical romance one day I believed was horrible and thought I can do better than that!
So I got out my borrowed typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I’d tentatively called that first book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer who was falsely believed to be a witch but who was loved by Edward the Fourth. At the library, no computers or Internet back then, I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty, the civil and political strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the infamous Earl of Warwick and Edward the Fourth. Edward’s brother Richard the Third. A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league, though. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote page after page, emotions high believing I could create a whole book. So na├»ve of me. Reading that old version now (a 1985 Leisure Books paperback) I have to laugh. Ironically, like that historical novel I’d thought in 1971 was so bad, it was pretty awful. That archaic language I’d used–all the rage back in the 80’s–sounds so stilted now. Yikes! Yet people, mainly women, had loved it.


And so my writing career began. Over 40 years ago now. Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? Flown away like some wild bird. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, getting a real job and finding the true love of my life and marrying him. Life, as it always seemed to do and still does, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a time.


Then years later I rediscovered it and decided to rewrite it; try again. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, shipping it here and there to publishers, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that’d make suggestions or comments on how it could be better. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive. But eventually it sold.


In the meantime, as I waited for the mail, I’d written another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky ambiance to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the story into a horror novel…like Stephen King was doing? Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would sell easily, she said.


Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood and my young adult life–my heartbreaking divorce, raising my young son alone, my new love–as hers. It was more of a romantic horror when I’d finished, than a horror novel. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and began sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly to a mass market paperback publisher called Towers Publishing.


But right in the middle of editing Towers went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! What terrible luck, I remember brooding. The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract, didn’t know what to do and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a new husband, my son and my minimum-wage assistant billing job was one step above poverty at times. In those days, too, I was so clueless how to deal with the publishing industry.


That was 1983, but luckily that take-over publisher was Leisure Books, now also known as Dorchester Publishing. A publisher that quickly became huge. Talk about karma.


As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate stepped in and the Tower’s editor, before she left, who’d bought my book told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to give it a read. She believed in it that much.


Out of the blue, in 1984, when I’d completely given up on Evil Stalks the Night, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy it! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and, liking it, too, she also bought it in 1985; asking me to sex it up some, so they could release it as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?). It wasn’t a lot of money. A thousand dollar advance each and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But in those days the publishers had a huge distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, sent to bookstores and warehoused. So 4% of all those books over the next couple of years did add up.


Thus my career began. I slowly sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years–as I was working full time, raising a family and living my hard-scramble life. Some did well and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.


And twenty-seven years later, when publisher Kim Richards Gilchrist at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons, an apocalyptic end-of-days-novel, and The Woman in Crimson, a vampire book, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course–and all in ebooks for the first time ever) my 7 out-of-print paperbacks, including Evil Stalks the Night–I gave her a resounding yes!


Of course, I had to totally rewrite Evil Stalks the Night for the resurrected edition, as well as my other early novels, because I discovered my writing when I was twenty-something had been immature and unpolished; and not having a computer and the Internet had made the original writing so much harder. Also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. There were so many mistakes in those early books. Typos. Grammar. Lost plot and detail threads. In the rewrite I also decided to keep the time frame (1960-1984) the same. The book’s essence would have lost too much if I’d updated it.


As I finished the final editing I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the life changes I’ve had since I’d first began writing it so many years ago. Though it was actually published in 1984, I’d started writing it many years before; closer to 1978 or 1979. I’m as old as my Grandmother Fehrt, my mother’s mother and who the grandmother in the story was loosely based on, was back then. While I was first writing it so long ago, I was a young married woman with a small child holding down my first real job and trying to do it all. Now…my grandmother, mother and father have all passed to the other side. Many other family and friends I’ve left behind, too. I miss them all, especially my mom and dad. It’s strange how revising my old books reminded me of certain times of my life. Some of the memories I hid from and some of them made me laugh or cry. This book, though, is the most autobiographical of all my novels as it contains details of my childhood, my devastating divorce, and what my life was like when I first met my second husband, Russell, who’s turned out to be my true love. We’ve been happily married for thirty-four years and counting. Ah, but how quickly the years have clicked by. Too quickly. I want to reach out, at times, and stop time. I want more. I have so much more life to live and many more stories to write.


About the Author:
A writer for over 40 years I’ve had 14 novels, 1 novella and 7 short stories published with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, the Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press since 1984. And my romantic end-of-the-world horror novel THE LAST VAMPIRE-Revised Author's Edition was a 2012 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS FINALIST NOMINEE.


You can keep up with me on Facebook , Author’s Den , or My Space.




Twenty years ago psychic Sarah Summers fled from the evil that lurked in the woods behind her childhood home after it killed most of her family, but a nasty divorce and financial hardships forced her back when nothing else could have. With her son, Jeremy, she returns to her grandmother’s dilapidated house and tries to begin a new life. She meets a police detective, Ben, who falls for her, and she prays her fresh visions of bloodshed and death deep among the dark trees are not true.


Then the murders begin again and Sarah is hurtled back into the familiar nightmare that has haunted her her whole life. The evil in the woods is awake again…and this time it wants her last remaining brother, Jim; her son…and her. With Ben and Jim’s help can she defeat it this time…and live?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Guest Blog: Mingmei Yip

Photobucket



I’ve always been fascinated by women who use their beauty, talent, and especially intelligence to achieve impossible deeds. My novels are about such strong, diligent, unflinching women who worked against all odds and succeeded.


I like happy endings because life, as Buddhism says, is already full of suffering, so why add to it with an unhappy ending? How we can navigate our way across the sea of suffering to the other shore of happiness, is what I am interested to write about. I want my readers feel uplifted after they read my books, to know that in life, struggles are unavoidable but it is usually in our power to make them end well. There are happy outcomes in life, too, not just in fiction. Nevertheless, getting to the happy outcome requires that we use our judgment in deciding when to strive and when to just go with the flow.


In doing so, we can learn compassion and wisdom.


Camilla, the protagonist in my new novel Skeleton Women, is an orphan rescued by a gangster head only to be trained to ingratiate herself with another gangster so as to be able to assassinate him. Camilla began life as an orphan, possessing nothing, and as a spy, all she was allowed to possess is only the “four nothings,” no friends, no identity, no emotion, no scruples.


So Camilla cannot allow herself to open to her feelings for other people, let alone feel compassion. But because of her love of books, she has gained wisdom -- from her years of studying the Art of War, the Thirty-Six Stratagems, and other ancient guides to survival amidst adversity. She knows that to have a chance at a happy life, she must somehow escape her bondage to gangsters and the violence that surrounds her. So she uses the wisdom of the ancient Chinese sages to plan her escape – and in the process learns compassion.


Writing about strong women who never give up, I feel that they become my teachers. We are all on journeys, but theirs are tougher and more miserable. Like my character in my earlier novel, Petals from the Sky, I had a father who was a compulsive gambler and a mother who was lost in the modern world. As a graduate student, I had to use some of my scholarship money to pay my father’s gambling debts and support my mother. Of course, I also followed the tradition of so many Chinese and waitressed in a Chinese restaurant – for less than minimum wage. Fortunately, in those days rent and food in Hong Kong were cheap.


Now I have a comfortable life, but getting there was a long journey. I hope that along the way, like my heroines, I acquired some wisdom and even compassion.


What are some things you have overcome in your life? One commenter will win an autographed copy of Skeleton Women.


About the Author:
Mingmei Yip published her first essay in a Hong Kong magazine when she was fourteen years old; now she has eleven books to her credit. Besides writing novels, Mingmei also frequently performs the qin (an ancient Chinese instrument), does storytelling, and teaches calligraphy workshops.


Mingmei’s new novel is Skeleton Women (Kensington 2012), the story of three femmes fatales.


Mingmei’s debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion (Kensington, 2008), story of the last musician courtesan of China, has received numerous favorable reviews and is now in its fifth printing. Her second novel is Petals from the Sky, (Kensington, 2010) a Buddhist love story. Her third novel Song of the Silk Road, (Kensington, April 2011) is a romantic adventure on China’s fabled route with the lure of a three million dollar reward. Publisher’s Weekly describes it as “filled with unique companions, unforeseen dangers, unexpected joys, and bitter sorrows…part epic, part coming-of-age story, part modern fairy tale…”


Mingmei’s other work in English is Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories (Tuttle Publishing), which she both wrote and illustrated. Her second children’s book, also by Tuttle, will come out 2013.


In Hong Kong, Mingmei was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US.


Please visit Mingmei at: www.mingmeiyip.com.


Camilla is a young orphan when she is adopted by a master crime lord and turned into the singing sensation of Shanghai. She lives in luxury but knows none of the wealth is really hers. She is one of the skeleton women, who lure men to their ruin and death. In her case, it’s literal, since she is also trained in knife-throwing and contortion.


Her assignment: attract the attention of another crime lord and help see he is assassinated. But can she stay in his good graces with competition from Shadow, a famed magician, and Rainbow Chang, the ambiguously sexed gossip columnist? And will she be able to resist falling for either the gang lord’s son or his hunky bodyguard?

Monday, June 4, 2012

GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Patricia Yager Delagrange

Photobucket





This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be giving away a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during her tour. Click on the tour banner to see the rest of her stops and go comment...remember, the more you comment, the better your chances!



Five Things My Heroine Taught Me
by
Patricia Yager Delagrange




In my book, Moon Over Alcatraz, the main character is Brandy. She loses her baby at birth and falls into a deep depression. Five things I’ve learned from her are:


1. When you’re feeling so low that you cannot imagine things changing or ever getting better, believe in yourself. Know that you’re strong enough to get through anything. It’s all in your attitude.


2. Don’t blame yourself for things that happen that are out of your control. We cannot always explain why something terrible happens to us, like losing your baby. But, as you can see in the movie Forrest Gump when Jenny’s left him and Forrest is so in love with her and wants to marry her, he literally runs across the U.S. and back. During his journey he discovers that “**it happens”. There’s nothing we can do but keep going forward.


3. If someone lets you down (and in Brandy’s case, it’s her husband Weston), know there are others out there who will help you through tough times. Brandy had her closest friend and next-door neighbor, Cecilia, who always gave her good advice and had her back through the thick of it.


4. Stick to your beliefs. They will keep you on track through the worst times of your life. Brandy believes in “kharma” -- what goes around, comes around. She always tried to be the best person she could be, and when she messed up, she tried to get back on track and be a better person, learning from her mistakes.


5. First, trust in yourself, then you’ll have the strength to trust in others. Brandy had to find her inner strength in order to extricate herself from a bad marriage. Her high school friend, Edward, helped her see that she could trust him, but that only happened after she started trusting herself.


About the Author:
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, I attended St. Mary’s College, studied my junior year at the University of Madrid, received my B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get my Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. I live with my husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with our two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack.


My horse lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.


Find the author online:


http://www.patriciayagerdelagrange.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Patricia-Yager-Delagrange/204510679568596

http://twitter.com/#!/PattiYager


Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty. But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return..







Friday, June 1, 2012

GUEST BLOG: JOANNE KENNEDY

Photobucket





What makes a cowboy so appealing?



What is it we love about cowboys? Is it the hat? The boots? The jeans? Or is it the man himself?


I think we have to admit the clothes help. A lot. Although most of us love naked cowboys at least as much as we love clothed cowboys.


But rodeo is the only macho sport I can think of where a guy gets to wear the uniform casually on the street. Football players, for example, don’t go to bars in their helmets and pads. If hockey goalies wore their masks into a shopping mall, you can bet the girls would be screaming for all the wrong reasons. And I think baseball players look downright silly if they wear those high socks and tight pants anywhere off the diamond.


But cowboys can stroll the streets in full rodeo regalia and draw nothing but admiring glances. The jeans fit just right, the shirt emphasizes his broad shoulders, and the boots add some swagger. That big belt buckle doesn’t hurt either. The outfit just hollers he-man, and if you hit the Outlaw Bar in Cheyenne on a Friday night, you’ll find lots of women who get the message.


But clothes aren’t everything. Go to any cowboy bar, east or west, and you’ll find plenty of barstool cowboys. Their jeans fit fine too, and sometimes they’re worn white at the thighs and seat as if the guy’s spent his life in the saddle. Their hat brims are tilted just so, and if they’re smart, they’ve let a day’s stubble grow in so it looks like they just rode in from the Goodnight trail. Their boots are slouched at the ankles, and their sleeves are rolled to the elbow like they’ve put in a good day’s work.


But even a tenderfoot can spot the fakes a mile away. There are subtle signals that mark a real cowboy, and I’m betting anybody reading this blog would recognize them, even if you live in Boston or L.A.


Mostly, it’s the walk. Frankly, riding makes a man a little bow-legged and pigeon-toed, so it doesn’t make sense that the cowboy walk defines masculine grace. But that easy, rolling gait is as unmistakable as the smooth stride of a Tennessee Walker. And its lupine, predatory ease is impossible to imitate. I’ve seen romance writers describe it as rolling, hipshot, and loose-hipped. However you describe it, it defines the cowboy mystique.


Then there’s the unique build of a cowboy. Riding develops all the right muscles, and their bodies are lean and natural—not artificially built up in a gym. I don’t have much to say to a guy who’s willing to spend hours on end in the mind-numbing boredom of a weight room, so I don’t get the appeal of those beefcake photos where they slap a Stetson on some shirtless Chippendale model and call him a cowboy.


Give me a real rodeo cowboy any day.


What kind of athlete do you love the most? Football players? Hockey players? Or rodeo cowboys, like me? Tell us and you'll be entered into a drawing for a copy of Cowboy Crazy, US and Canada only please. Make sure we have your email address.


About the author:
Joanne Kennedy is the author of four contemporary Western romances for Sourcebooks: Cowboy Trouble, One Fine Cowboy, Cowboy Fever, andTall, Dark and Cowboy. She brings a wide variety of experience, ranging from chicken farming to horse training, to her sexy, spicy cowboy stories. She is a 2011 finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of American RITA© Awards, for One Fine Cowboy. Joanne lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where she is working on her next book, Cowboy Tough (Fall 2012). For more information, please visithttp://joannekennedybooks.com/".


COWBOY CRAZY BY JOANNE KENNEDY – IN STORES JUNE 2012


Sparks fly when sexy cowboys collide with determined heroines in a West filled with quirky characters and sizzling romance. Acclaimed for delivering “a fresh take on the traditional contemporary Western“ Joanne Kennedy’s books might just be your next great discovery!


From stable to boardroom…


Sarah Landon’s Ivy League scholarship transforms her from a wide-eyed country girl into a poised professional. Until she’s assigned to do damage control with the boss’s rebellious brother Lane, who’s the burr in everybody’s saddle. He’s determined to save his community from oil drilling, and she’s not going back to the ranch she left forever. Spurs will shine in this saucy romp about ranchers and roots, redemption and second chances.