Pages

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Alissa Callen's Cherish Me, Cowboy


Even though I’m an Australian country girl, after living in the Rocky Mountains of America, a part of me will forever remain in the States. I loved seeing elk in my garden instead of kangaroos. I loved riding through groves of golden-leaved aspens and past old log cabins that had a rich and vivid history as colourful as any Aussie high-county hut. The accents might have been different, the cowboys and cowgirls might have driven pickup trucks and not utes but the small town values that unified and enriched isolated communities remained the same. So when I put fingers to the keyboard and entered the fictional world of Marietta, Montana, it was like I was coming home.


Cherish Me, Cowboy is part of Tule Publishing’s Copper Mountain Rodeo series and is the first book in my own novella series based around ranches named after wildflowers. The second book, titled Her Mistletoe Cowboy, will be out before Christmas. In Cherish Me, Cowboy, the heroine, cowgirl Payton Hollis, embodies the cowboy code. She is resilient, courageous and honourable. It will take a special type of man to match her strength and her spirit. Cordell Morgan is such a man. The only problem is that his childhood demons never allow him to stay in one place for very long.


So please come and visit rural Montana with me and see what happens when a sassy cowgirl lowers her guard and a man, who believes emotions are nothing but a liability, takes the ultimate risk.

In keeping with the wildflower theme of my ranch series I’d love to hear what everyone’s favorite wildflower might be. A comment will be picked at random and the contributor will win a kindle eBook copy of Cherish Me, Cowboy

Monday, September 01, 2014

When is a Secret Baby Story Not a Secret Baby Story? Annie West

When it's not a secret, of course!

 Welcome to the world of Princess Marisa of Bengaria whose unexpected pregnancy to an almost-stranger has to be one of the worst-kept secrets in the world. After a one-night stand that left her hurt and embittered, she learns of her unplanned pregnancy at the very same time as does Damaso Pires, the man who walked out on her just a month before. There's no private time for digesting the news and how it's going to affect her. And Damaso is determined to be part of his child's life, even if it means sharing his world with Marisa, a woman who unsettled him so much he had to walk away from her once rather than deal with the complications she created in his neatly organised life. What does a tycoon do when he wants something? He takes immediate action to get it, in this case, demanding marriage to the woman carrying his child. And just to put the pressure on even more, the paparazzi discovers the news and broadcasts it to the world. Soon Marisa's royal relatives try to step in and force her to hush up the scandal. What's a woman to do?
 
I loved writing this book to find out exactly that: what will Marisa do and how will Damaso react?
 
I'd originally thought this might be a secret baby story, when I pictured this volatile pair having a brief but passionate affair at a luxury jungle hideaway for the ultra wealthy. But it didn't turn out like that as Marisa and Damao took control and proceeded to live out their dramatic story in front of the world's press, even while keeping their most precious secrets hidden not just from the press but from each other.
 
So instead of being a secret baby book this one is an oh-so-public pregnancy and scandal story. It's about two people who've learned never to trust and as a result carry the immense weight of emotional burdens both in public and in private. I loved watching them find their happy ever after.
 
When opposites attract!
 
The sexy North American cover
Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.

But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.

Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!

To snaffle a copy of DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR try your favourite bookstore. Here are a couple of links to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the Book Depository and Harlequin. To read more detail Behind the Book, or to find out about Annie's other stories, visit her website.

Do you have any stories to share on the best/worst way to share the news of a pregnancy? What would be your worst nightmare or your idea of the perfect way to break such news?

Annie will give away a signed copy of DAMASO CLAIMS HIS HEIR to one person who leaves a comment.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Robin Perini: Game of Fear - A Heroine's Inspiration


In my new novel, Game of Fear, the heroine is Deborah Lansing, a ex-Army helicopter pilot who left her career to watch over her younger sister. Deb has survived some dark times and made difficult choices during her life and career. A Search and Rescue pilot, Deb takes risks no one else will. She will NEVER leave anyone behind. Not again. So when her sister vanishes, Deb will move heaven and earth to find her. No matter what it takes. I love Deb’s strength. I really like writing strong heroines, so today I thought I might share a bit of insight into my inspiration for Deb.

To prepare to write Game of Fear I researched women in the military. My heroine didn’t have a name yet…then I came across Deborah Samson. You may not have heard of her. Not surprising. Her story isn’t well known.


Taller than average, rigorous farm work broadened Deborah Samson’s shoulders and strengthened her muscles. From Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1781 Deborah enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment under the name of her deceased brother, Robert Shurtliff. She became a seasoned combat veteran and served for seventeen months during the Revolutionary War where she was wounded twice in raids along the Hudson. She even cut a musket ball out of her own thigh so no one would discover her deceit.


Finally, a doctor discovered her true identity after she came down with a severe fever. Despite her deception, she received an honorable discharge and later she became America’s “first woman lecturer.”

Deborah Samson is a heroine. She fought for what she believed, she took risks and she never gave up. I try to instill my heroines with just those characteristics. So, tell me, dear reader, who are your most beloved and favorite heroines? From the world of fiction, or from real life. I’d love to know the woman or women you would call a hero!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Making Up A Country – by Dani Collins


The Ultimate Seduction, 21st Century Gentlemen’s Club

A big thanks to Lee for inviting me to return today! And a big hello to all of you. I’m finally home from my Big Trip which took me to my old hometown for a high school reunion, San Antonio for the RWA Conference, Brisbane Australia to spend three weeks with my sister, and a quick jaunt to Sydney in the middle for the Romance Writers of Australia conference.

All that travel really got me thinking about the variety of wonderful places in this wide world of ours. With so many amazing real places to set a book, why would an author feel the need to make up a country? And how do you squeeze it onto a map with the ones that genuinely exist?

Well, I’ll tell ya.

The Ultimate Seduction is the second in a three book series that I wrote with Maya Blake and Victoria Parker. The editors wanted a modern on an old-fashioned Gentlemen’s Club. It’s very exclusive and only the richest of the rich are members. It’s where they go to play, network, and get into trouble away from the flashing eye of the paparazzi.

I wanted my hero to be powerful, obscenely rich (goes without saying) and in need of cutting a deal with the heroine. I could have made him a playboy prince, but I wanted someone who appeared more dissolute. The club was a place that, if you have enough money, you could pretty much buy your way in. I chose to make Ryzard an elected President who has ousted a dictator and taken over his fictional country.

In fact, his country is so new he’s seeking recognition from the UN. To understand how this is done, I referred to this handy article (among others): How To Start Your Own Country In Four Easy Steps. This put Ryzard in a position of playing politics and having to campaign for recognition, which happen to be two things my heroine, Tiffany, hates beyond measure. (Conflict, the mountainscape of every story.)

In terms of its place in the world, I didn’t want him caught up in too volatile a place, like the Middle East. If you Google images of the Black Sea coast, you’ll see why I fell in love with the region. Since the fall of communism, there’s been enough unrest to make it believable that yet another sovereign country has emerged there so I stuck a pin between Bulgaria and Romania and called it.

Then I got to the fun part. Anyone who follows my blogs knows I’ve plugged 30 Days Of World Building about a million times and I will never stop because, for writers, it’s invaluable. I first did this exercise as I was preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) The 30 Days focus on building a magical world, but so much is taken from our real world that I still referred to it to create Ryzard’s country.

This forced me to consider what his resources are. What’s the landscape? What’s the political climate historically and today? Obviously not all of that goes into the book, but it gave me the notion to make Ryzard’s residence a palace that was originally built for a Russian Tzar then used (and thus maintained) by communist leaders. It sustained damage in the recent civil war, but the grandeur remains and he’s rebuilding it, which is a metaphor for his country as a whole.

The last touch, of course, is to search the fictional name, to ensure it isn’t actually in use. Voila! Bregnovia. Coming to a map near you. (If that map is in your head.)

How do you feel about stories with fictional countries? Or towns? Where would you set a country and why? I’d love to send a signed copy of The Ultimate Seduction to one lucky winner drawn from your responses.


"I'm about to make you an offer you can't refuse."

Tiffany Davis takes her first delicious step into the exclusive masquerade ball hosted by the secretive Q Virtus gentleman's club. Here, behind the mask, Tiffany can hide her scars and reveal her true self—a powerful businesswoman with an offer for the president of Bregnovia, Ryzard Vrbancic.

Astounded by her audacity, only the fire in Tiffany's eyes makes Ryzard look twice. He has no interest in her business deal, but the promise of a woman who can match his ruthless determination makes him eager to seduce from her the one thing she's not offering….

Here's an excerpt:

Ryzard followed the man’s gaze and his entire being crackled to attention.

Well beyond the pool’s light, in a corner mostly blocked by a buffet table and ice sculpture, a woman undulated like a cobra, utterly fascinating in her hypnotic movements timed perfectly with the music. Her splayed hands slid down her body with sexy knowledge, her hips popped in time to the beat, and her feet kick-stepped into motion.

She twirled. The motion lifted her brassy curls like a skirt before she planted her feet wide and swayed her weight between them. The flex of her spine gave way to a roll of her hips, and she was back into motion again.

Setting down his drink, Ryzard beelined toward her. He couldn’t tell if the woman had a partner, but it didn’t matter. He was cutting in.

She was alone, lifting her arms to gather her hair, eyes closed as she felt the music as much as heard it. She arched and stretched—

He caught her around the waist and used the shocked press of her hands at his shoulders to push her into accepting his lead, stepping into her space, then retreating, bringing her with him. As he moved her into a side step, she recovered, matching his move while her gaze pinned to his.

He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were. The light was too low, her feathery mask shadowing her gaze into twin glinting lights, but he reacted to the fixation in them. She was deciding whether to accept him.

A rush of excitement for the challenge ran through him. After a few more quick steps, he swung her into half pivots, catching each of her wrists in turn, one bare, one clad in silk, enjoying the flash of her bare knee through the slit of her skirt.

How had she been overlooked by every man here? She was exquisite.

Lifting her hand over her head, he spun her around then clasped her shoulder blades into his chest. Her buttocks—fine, firm, round globes as if heaven had sent him a valentine—pressed into his lap. Bending her before him, he buried his nose in her hair and inhaled, then followed her push to straighten and matched the sway of her hips with his own.

Tiffany’s heart pounded so hard she thought it would escape her chest. One second she’d been slightly drunk, lost in the joy of letting the salsa rhythm control her muscles. Now a stranger was doing it. And doing it well. He pulled her around into a waltz stance that he quickly shifted so they grazed each other’s sides, left, right, left.

She kicked each time, surprised how easily the movements came back to her. It had been years, but this man knew what he was doing, sliding her slowly behind his back, then catching her hand on the other side. He pushed her to back up a step, bringing one of her arms behind his head, the other behind her own. A few backward steps and they were connected by only one hand, arms outstretched, then he spun her back into him, catching her into his chest.

He stopped.

The conga beat pulsed through her as he ran his hands down her sides. Her own flew to cover his knuckles, but she didn’t stop him. It felt too amazing. His fingertips grazed the sides of her breasts, flexed into the taut muscles of her waist and clasped her hips to push them in a hula circle that he followed with his own, his crotch pressed tight to her buttocks.

Sensual pleasure electrified her. No one touched her anymore. After being a genderless automaton for so long, she was a woman again, alive, capable of captivating and enticing a man. She nudged her hips into his and flashed a cheeky glance back at him.

Dani’s first Harlequin Presents, Proof Of Their Sin, won the 2013 Reviewer’s Choice by Romantic Times Book Reviews for Best First In Series. While her focus remains on Presents, Dani has also published a romantic comedy, a medieval fantasy, a pair of erotic romances, and coming September 2014, will offer small-town rancher novellas with Tule Publishing’s Montana Born series. Whatever the genre, Dani always delivers sexy alpha heroes, witty, spirited heroines, complex emotions and loads of passion.
Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:

PURCHASE LINKS
Amazon: US | Canada | UK 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Quotable Quotes from Redeeming the CEO Cowboy AND A GIVEWAY! by Charlene Sands.



Redeeming The Ceo Cowboy is a stand alone book AND part of The Slades of Sunset Ranch series.  I've always wanted to write a story about a pastry/cupcake chef.  And Susanna Hart is that and much more.   And if you like yummy Cupcakes, sexy Cowboys and adorable Kids, this book is for you!!  Amazon has dropped the price to $2.99 for a short time.






Here's some quotable quotes from the story:

"You're still mad at me, aren't you?" Casey asked quietly.

"No."
The sound of his footfalls approaching tightened her stomach. "Either that or you don't like me at all."
This conversation was headed nowhere good. "I...like you, Casey."
The warmth of his hands seeped into her shoulders. He applied enough pressure to gently turn her around. She faced him now, but kept her eyes trained on his shirt collar. 
"Prove it," he said softly. 
                                                                     

He grabbed his cup and took a hasty gulp. Hot liquid singed his tongue and he sputtered, "Ouch, damn it!"

Susanna's eyes rounded. "Did you burn your tongue?"
Her focus on his mouth didn't help the scorching pain. "You could say that," he snapped.
Her lips twitched. "I'm sorry, but I thought you knew how hot the coffee was."
"I wasn't paying attention."  He was too busy noticing how hot she was. And it burned him. Literally. Susanna wasn't what he'd expected. And now he had the memory of kissing her to deal with too.
"Want a glass of water?"
"No thanks, I'll live."
                                                                        


"Very nice meeting you, too," Susanna said. Still in dreamland, she watched superstar Zane Williams walk away. "I should knock you to the moon for not telling me he would be here," she whispered to Casey.

"Didn't seem to matter. You charmed him silly," Casey said, his voice rough as gravel.
She blinked. "Did I? I wasn't trying to...I..."
"Yeah, well, that's the thing about you...you don't have to try."


                                                                  



His eyes finally met hers. "You're pretty, Susie"

"I didn't think you'd ever noticed me."
"Hell...I've noticed. But your my sister's..."
She put her finger to his lips.  "Shhh...don't say it. Don't think about anything but this."

                                                                     


Casey snatched up Susie's wrap. "Time to go, Cinderella."

Susie rose from her seat and snickered. "If I'm Cinderella, that would make you the handsome prince."
He had more than princely thoughts about her right now.
He laced their fingers. "If the shoe fits."
The sound of Susie's laughter stayed with him all the way to the limousine.



GIVEAWAY:   Tell me what your favorite cupcake or muffin is and one lucky blogger will win the first three books in the series!   Mine is CHOCOLATE ROCKY ROAD!  (note: the winner will be randomly picked and notified over the weekend.  Be sure to post your email addy in the comment section!)

Thanks for blogging with me today! 
Charlene 

www.charlenesands.com

Visit me on Facebook and Twitter too!





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Debra Salonen: When the music moves you


I used to be the kind of writer had to have absolute silence when I worked. I would hear other writers talk about playing their favorite symphonies to get them in the mood to write or, maybe, they'd listen to sexy music when they were writing a love scene. This wasn't me.

Then, a few months ago, something odd happened. I was writing Cowgirl Come Home, my July "Big Marietta Fair" release.

The story was moving along fine. I felt like I knew my characters well and had a firm grip on how the story would unfold. Then, I went to the gym one morning.

The instructor of my workout class (my daughter) shared a new song that she really liked. I hadn't heard it before. I didn't know the singer. I wasn't really paying that much attention, to be honest. But, suddenly, the music got in my head. You know that feeling, right? The song is there and the words start to connect. The lyrics started telling a story that somehow blended with my story. I could see a scene between my hero and heroine start to unfold in my mind.

Honestly, it took all my self-control not to run to my phone and start jotting down notes. But I realized that the song was a key.

I asked my daughter for the name of the song and the singer. She said, "Forgiveness by Toby Mac."

I managed to finish class before dashing to my car. I pulled out my phone and downloaded the song. Once I got home, I sat down at my computer, turned on the music and listened to the scene that I began to imagine in the gym.

It was just one song but it changed my process.

I decided to try listening to music while I wrote. I began with instrumentals and then branched out to indie singer/songwriters on iTunes radio. Every once in a while a song would catch my attention and I'd realize it sounded like something my characters would be listening to. Gradually, those songs became part of my book's playlist.

Now, I do this automatically. I enjoy being able to see--and hear-- what my characters are listening to. And I've enjoyed being able to share the music of their lives with my readers.

Below, you'll find a link to the playlist for Nobody's Cowboy, my new book that is releasing on Friday. Nobody's Cowboy Playlist

Warning: this playlist is an eclectic hodgepodge.

Why? Because Austen and Serena, my hero and heroine, arrived fully formed in my world (or I arrived in theirs). They're strong-willed, unique individuals with clearly defined tastes.

Some of the songs reflect Serena's independent thinking (The Kongos Come With Me Now) and some her parent's influence (Nina Simone's Feeling Good). Her herd of alpacas seem to favor Country music, so you'll see a Keith Urban and Lady Antebellum on the list. Austen always has his ear open for new artists and likes to know what his nieces and nephews are listening to, so Bruno Mars and Sam Smith popped up.

But, Serena and Austen both have a sentimental side, too. Dance Me To The End of Love will definitely be playing at their...well, you know. This is romance novel. And these two truly deserve a happy ending.


Do you make playlists? Does music figure prominently in your life? What are you listening to now? I would love to gift a $10 gift card to either Amazon or iTunes to one lucky winner this week. And, I hope you'll remember to look for Nobody's Cowboy, releasing Friday.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Elizabeth Beacon: A Season For Scandal?

My latest book, The Viscount’s Frozen Heart, is published this month by Harlequin Historical. (Sorry, but I still love saying that, can’t get over the fact even after seven years that there’s a book out with my name on it).

Now let’s talk about the weather. It’s what the British do. All the time. When we see friends, meet someone new or just can’t think of anything else to say. We claim to be the only country to have four seasons in one day (probably untrue, but it keeps us happy) and that phrase gave me a light-bulb moment one day. I stared out of the window at snow in June or a heatwave in March or whatever it was that sparked us off, and wondered what if? Mainly what if I could persuade my lovely and very patient editor to let me write four books, each set in a different season of the year? Then my editor and the Harlequin Historical series editor both said yes! Once I’d finished cheering and dancing round the room there was that awful, panic-stricken moment when I realised, oh, no, I’ll actually have to write them all now, won’t I? After lots of false starts, rewrites and doubts, The Viscount’s Frozen Heart is out in the big world as the first of the four and is set in winter.

I wanted to start this series at the coldest and darkest time of year and try to show my hero and heroine finding out that warmth and passion and hope can grow irresistibly at a time of year many of us dread. So why publish it in August, I can almost hear you asking? It could be an international scheme to save on air-conditioning and ice cream; read this book and shiver, or use it as a fan if you prefer paper to digital. It just happened that way is the real answer, but it certainly didn’t feel as odd to me as the time I had to write a Christmas book with birds nesting and spring a-springing all around me, but that’s another story.

Next in the series is set in spring and is called The Marquis’s Awakening. It will be published as part of Harlequin’s December 2014 release and I’m currently having a wonderful time working on summer, during the right season for once, which makes my writing life feel so much easier somehow.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cynthia Eden: Writing For the Holidays

Hi, everyone! It’s a pleasure to be hanging out with you. (And a big thanks to Lee for inviting me over!)

Today, I thought I’d talk a bit about holiday writing. I really enjoy writing books that are geared for holidays (like for Halloween, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day…I bet you get the picture!). Stories of this sort can majorly put me in the holiday spirit. My fingers can fly fast and hard over the keyboard. 

But what if the writer has to pen a holiday story during a very-much-NOT-holiday time of the year? For example, what if the writer has to create a Christmas novella during the month of June?  With the way production schedules work, this situation is pretty much the standard in the writing world.  After all, you need enough time to write the book, edit it, promo it, then get that sweet baby out to readers. So if you’re hoping to create a holiday tale, the odds are high that you will be writing that book during the off-season. (So to speak!)

I use a few tricks to help me when I have to pen a holiday tale during the off-season, and I thought I’d share those tricks with you.

1.       Music, please.  If you’re writing a Christmas tale, play some Christmas music! Music is a great way to set the mood. And so what if you find yourself humming Jingle Bells during the sweltering heat of summer? At least your mind will be in the right place for your story!

2.       Decorations.  Not too big, of course!  If you’re creating a Halloween story, I’m not saying you need to hang spider web and skeletons all over your house.  But if you’ve got a small Halloween figurine that you like (a ghost, a witch, a miniature vampire), then put that little baby out on your desk.  When you see it, you will be inspired.

3.       Movie magic. Want to feel some holiday spirit? Then sit down and watch your favorite holiday movie.  By the time the movie is over, you’ll be itching to get back to your story.

Above all, just remember to have fun!  Many readers look forward to holiday tales and many authors can’t wait to write them.  Explore your world, be merry, and make those words flow!

Now…are you ready for a giveaway? Because I’d love to give a $10 Amazon.com gift card away to one commenter. To enter the giveaway, just tell me…what is your favorite holiday story? The winner will be randomly selected.  Good luck!

Best,

Cynthia Eden
NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY Best-selling author

PLAYING WITH FIRE –Available 8/26/14 from Kensington Publishing 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Louise Allen: Truth and Fiction

 
Truth and fiction – where do they meet for a writer of fiction, especially someone who writes historical novels? For me historical fact is often the spark that ignites my imagination and sets me off on a new story, as well as being indispensable in the writing – I may bend the facts a bit, but I try really hard to make sure what I write is historically accurate.
That research led to a serious reference book collecting habit (and to having to build a library in the garden to house them) and it has also spun over into writing non-fiction books – Walks Through Regency London, Walking Jane Austen’s London and Stagecoach Travel (the latest) so far. The Great North Road, the Georgian seaside and walks in Samuel Pepys’s London are next on the list to be done.
But I love that moment when I see or hear or touch something and I know it has dug into my subconscious and sooner or later it will become a story that I can weave around a hero and heroine of my own creating.
My new novel, Beguiled By Her Betrayer, is out this month and is set in Egypt. One of the joys of holidays for me is the opportunity for research and this book was inspired by a trip down the who used it as a pleasure steamer. Amongst his guests on board one winter was Agatha Christie, making notes for Death on the Nile. The boat that novel was filmed on is still operating on the Nile too.
I first got the idea for my Egyptian plot when we were in the temple of Philae and I saw graffiti in French, high up on the walls. I puzzled over why it was so high up and why it was in French? The more we looked in other temples, the more high-level French graffiti we found.


 A bit of research revealed that the height was because many of the temples at the time were filled almost to the roof with sand. No archaeology as we understand it had been carried out and what lay under the sand was a mystery so anyone visiting would find themselves standing metres above the present floor level. The graffiti was in French because these were marks left by Napoleon’s scholars – Les Savants – who came to Egypt along with the army in 1798. They were stranded there, along with the troops, when Napoleon went back to France in August 1799 to seize power as Emperor and they continued with their researches which were eventually published as the first scholarly work on ancient Egypt.


They, and the army, were left in a dreadful position by Napoleon – the country was plague-ridden, they had virtually no supplies and when they wrote for help the Emperor promised to send them a shipload of clowns, comedians and actors to cheer them up!
This example of graffiti is at the temple of Philae. At the top it reads R F (République Française ) An. 7. This is the date in the Republican Calendar and translates to 1798. Below are names of some the French scholars and, possibly, their army escort.
I was so intrigued by what I found out about les savants that I knew I was gong to have to write about Egypt at this time. I wanted an English hero and heroine, and it took some thought before I discovered what Cleo Woodward was doing, deep in the desert, and why Quin Bredon, the man she is very right not to trust, is in Egypt  tracking down Cleo and her scholarly father who may, or may not, be a spy.
I’d love to hear which places or historic events inspire you most and whether there are any you would love to read about as the setting for a novel. The author of one comment will win a signed copy of Beguiled By Her Betrayer.


Twitter: @LouiseRegency

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Time to Learn How to Knit with Fur by Jenny Gardiner

            I’d like to start a grassroots campaign to make fur fashionable.
No, no, no, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean stylish in the form of skinning unlucky animals that happen to be born with lovely coats so that I can wear their pelts in the mistaken belief the fur looks better on me than the creature that started out with it. Rather the profusion of fur that I deal with on a daily basis. I’d like to change it from my nemesis to my ally, something I don’t have to do battle with on a minute-by-minute basis. And the only way I can see achieving this is by persuading the rest of the population that a fur-filled home--and fur-coated clothing--is actually a good thing, and not a sign that you’ve given up on battling the stuff.
Fur, you see, plays a huge part in my life. I wear it (against my will) on most every article of clothing I don. It decorates every quadrant of my house in the form of gargantuan tumbleweeds that take on a life of their own when the furnace or air conditioner blows. The rugs of my car are coated in dog fur simply from being continually tracked from the house via the soles of our shoes. It gets in every nook and cranny of our furniture. Fur, it seems is inevitable. So why not make it enjoyable?
For years I’d been inured to the fur problem. With two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and now a rabbit, fur (and feathers) just seemed a fait accomplis, like leaves falling from the trees each autumn. Only instead of seasonally, daily. And indoors. And tainting everything you own with it. But then my kids hit middle school age and image mattered and all of a sudden everyone in my house was scrambling for a lint brush (none of which can ever be found when you need them).
Still, I’d resigned myself to fur being a reality of life, something you just have to accept and move on with. I continued to not bother with the lint-brush ritual. Why bother? You spend ten minutes un-sticking it from your black pants only to have the white dog come up and walk between your legs, applying a new layer anyhow. After all, I enjoy the upside of the stuff, when it’s still on the animal. Who doesn’t love to pet a soft, happy dog, or scratch an obliging cat despite the fur flying while you do so?
I grew up with Black Labradors. I’d go away to college for months at a time and still find black fur on articles of clothing. So when my family chose our first dog, we opted for yellow lab, thinking the fur would blend better. Not so much. Then we ended up with a blends-with-nature mutt in varying shades of beige, brown and red. While her fur hides quite nicely with our hardwood floors, it shows on anything we wear. Don’t let me even rant about the parrot feathers and parrot dust that cling to everything, including my white dog’s wet black nose, the telltale sign that she’s been scarfing up dropped food and, er, droppings, from around the parrot’s zone. Not a day goes by that my white Labrador doesn’t have a feather stuck to her nose.
When you think about it, after your pet shih-tzu passes, then you sorta want the fur to linger. Like the smell of a familiar loved one who has gone away, you retreat to the comfort of their presence, however you may find it.
So why can’t we designate those clumps of shed fur gathering momentum on your hardwood floors as decorative puff balls rather than nuisance filth accruing and showing proof of your housekeeping neglect?
            I sometimes wonder why an older person invests in a new pet after theirs pass on. A new kitten, for instance, is potentially a 20+ year commitment. When you’re 80, can you plan to be there for that cat for two decades? But overriding that is the pleasure that pets provide. The unconditional love, the camaraderie. It’s hard to turn your back on that, no matter your age. With our kids older and some in college, downsizing is likely on the horizon in the next couple of years for us. When pets become the main demand in your life might make sense to be the time to not include more pets once the older ones pass on.
Yet despite their mess, their hole-digging and their less-than-choice selections of what they ingest, a pet-free life is unfathomable to me. Because despite their one-sided needs and their sometimes impetuous demands, they provide so much love, so much understanding, so much unconditionality, it's impossible to conceptualize life without my furry friends.
Now if only I can figure out how to make their byproduct more desirable, I’d be good to go.
  Sleeping with Ward Cleaver










Slim to None













Anywhere But Here
















Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me










Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)


















Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)



















I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (I'm a contributor)



















And these shorts:
Idol Worship: A Lost Week with the Weirdos and Wannabes at American Idol Auditions


















The Gall of It All: And None of the Three F's Rhymes with Duck


















Naked Man On Main Street
find me on Facebook: fan page
 find me on twitter here
 find me on my website

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ripping It Apart!

In most any DIY project, mistakes are made. You step back, look closely and realize that you missed something or overdid something or something just isn't right. And in that moment, people (ahem...me!) take one of three approaches -- they look away and continue DIY-ing, they go back and try to fix it or they rip it out and start over. 


I've been crocheting and sewing since I was a girl and I've had teachers of both taking different approaches. Some were flexible -- oh, that's not too bad, just do ___ to compensate). Some were rigid -- that's wrong, take it/rip it/pull it out. Some were more critical - and not in a bad way. They could assess how the mistake or misstep would affect the overall finished project and recommend which path to take whether to rip or to ignore or a mix of both.

And I grumbled and complained my way through it all! But I learned as I went. . . or so I thought! Fast-forward from sewing and crocheting to now - writing.....



Over the 34 books I've written and are working with almost a dozen different editors at 5 publishers, each of my editors has taken a different approach to the writing version of rip/pull, ignore or that mix - revisions. Now, I'd love to tell you that I am the bestest writer you've ever read, but sadly, that is not the situation. And, from what I can tell about the publishing and writing industry, there just aren't any? many? authors who don't need to revise their work at some point. 


Some editors love to pull things apart - to move scenes, reimagine characters and plot, to tear it all apart and piece it back together in a completely different way. Some delicately apply their skills, creating a new thing out of the old with a light touch. Some do both, depending on the story and the writer. 

And I've worked with them all! And yes, it's painful. And yes, I complain. 



But, it's a critical part of the process of a writer putting their words and story into a readable form. An editor cleans things up. A good editor picks up on errors and issues. A great editor clarifies the writer's vision of their story and helps mold it into a great book. 

Right now, I'm in the middle of revising not one, but TWO different manuscripts with two different editors from two different publishers and I'm writhing in pain! LOL! 

BUT - I know it will all work out. I know the finished projects AKA the books coming out next Spring will be stronger and better for the pain. I know I'm learning more about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer in working with great editors.

So, how about you? What's your latest DIY project? Do you rip it out when you've made a mistake in your DIY projects? Do you ignore it and move on, hoping for the best? C'mon - be honest - we're all friends here! 




Terri's next book, RISING FIRE, will be the first book in her new WARRIORS OF DESTINY series from NAL/Signet in March 2015! Visit her website or her FB profile or page for lots more info about everything! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Susan Stephens: The Acostas


The Mills & Boon UK site has been running a special offer on these bad boys, and created this special banner, which I absolutely love and wanted to share with you!

I don't know when I have enjoyed writing a series of books more, or when I have received a more enthusiastic response from my fantastic readers for this Acosta series.



In this box set you can find all four Acosta brothers - each very different - and one wayward sister, as well as a Christmas book that sees them all reunited, and gives us a little bit of insight into what they've been getting up to since the last time we. Also in the Christmas book we meet a new couple, which is a lead into my new 4 book polo series HOT BRAZILIAN NIGHTS, which will be a 2015 release.


 And if you haven't seen the book trailer for Christmas Nights With The Polo Player, here's the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv3je22Gw1c




And if you would like to learn more about the Acostas and my inspiration for this series, here's a link to the dedicated ACOSTA pages on my web site: http://www.susanstephens.com/acostas/index.html
Release date 1st September - pre-order available now!


I would love to know which book cover you prefer, and why. Do share your thoughts. I would really love to hear from you, and I know everyone else would too. You can make us laugh if you want to - any take you have on this is good for me :)

And there will be a gift for a winner chosen at random, so get eyeing up those bad boys and let us know what you think!

All my very best to you
Susan

***Susan's winner is Mary Kirkland!  Please email totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your mailing details!***

Monday, August 18, 2014

10 Things You Didn't Know About Kaira Rouda

1.    
  I moved around a lot when I was young. My parents are both from Northern California, but I never lived there. I was born in Evanston, Illinois, where my dad got his PhD at Northwestern; my sister came along next, when my dad was a professor at University of Southern California. When my dad became a professor at University of Texas, Austin, my brother was born. We moved on from there to Boston when my dad became a professor at Harvard. The final stop was Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. That’s where I went to middle school and high school.  I raised my kids in the same suburb until the first one went off to college at Chapman University in Southern California. We all followed him.

2.      My first book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs was one of the first business books for women. It was based on my experience working with my husband to build the first national residential real estate brand acknowledging that women are the key decision makers in all real estate purchases – influencing of making 91 percent of all home purchases. Until Real Living Real Estate was launched, all advertising was directed toward men. Not kidding. I’m proud of that accomplishment – and the fact we stayed married after working together closely for seven years!

3.      My husband and I went to the same high school in Upper Arlington, Ohio, but didn’t meet until I was a reporter for Business First , a business newspaper, and he was an attorney at a law firm in town. I have three boys and one girl, and she is number 2. Coffee: black. I love lavender and I make a killer Kale salad! I’m vegetarian and gluten free.

4.      I was the society columnist for Columbus, Ohio, for more than 10 years.

5.      When I laugh, I honk. Yes, like a goose at times. I laugh a lot with friends. Friends mean the world to me.

6.      I’m almost always smiling. I feel very blessed to be living the life of my dreams.

7.      I don’t like math, or budgets but I love painting, and photography.

8.      I’m only as happy as my saddest kid. I am 1/8 Cherokee, a member of Daughter’s of the America Revolution. My ancestor, John Sturdivant landed in Jamestown in 1623. I love doing ancestry research.

9.      My dream, since as long as I could remember, was to be a novelist. It took awhile, so I tell people to never give up! My first novel, Here, Home, Hope was published in my 40s! Things happen for a reason, when they’re supposed to, as long as you keep believing in yourself.

10.  I almost always wear the “e” key off of my computers. I am confident I can win a hula hoop contest. I love to paddleboard as long as the waves are tiny and the sun is shining. I am finally living at the beach – a place I’ve dreamed of living since I was little. 



I’m thrilled Lines in the Sand is out today! I am having so much fun writing romance and learning from Jane Porter and her team at Tule Publishing. I hope you enjoy your visit to Indigo Island, too. Please let me know! Sign up for my newsletter at http://www.kairarouda.com and find me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/KairaRoudaBooks

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mallory Kane: Unsung Hero

Do you have a favorite secondary character in a book you've read or written who has never gotten his own book? I have several. One secondary character I always wanted to read about is Will Scarlett, Robin Hood's right-hand man. Luckily for me, author Diane Carey gave Will his own book, called Under The Wild Moon, written in 1986. I was delighted when I found that book. It's an exceptionally good book, by the way.

But he wasn't my only favorite secondary character. I wanted Dr. Watson in SHERLOCK HOLMES and Mr. Hastings in Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories to have their own books. When I read Little Women, I wanted to have a book in Laurie's point of view, mostly because I couldn't understand why he decided he was in love with Amy, not Jo. I wanted to see, from his viewpoint, how that change happened.

My own favorite secondary character is Detective Devereux Gautier, Cody Maxwell's partner from my very first Intrigue, The Lawman Who Loved Her, published in 2001. 



Dev has always gotten lots of fan mail. Over the years I've thought about him and fleshed out his story. If you're a writer or a voracious reader, you know how a character can live and grow inside your head.

Dev finally has his own book, and he deserves it. The book is called No Hero and is due for release from Tule Publishing in August, 2014.



Police Detective Devereux Gautier knows he's no hero. He's seen too much, failed too many times. And now the homeless kids he mentors are dying and the only person who can help him find the killer is the one woman who can destroy him. It doesn't help that she's also the sexiest, most interesting woman he's ever met.

Journalist Reghan Connor knows there are no heroes and she's out to prove it on the air for all of New Orleans to see. Her latest debunked hero is Detective Dev Gautier, who hates her for exposing the truth about him. Now Reghan has been given the key to the murders of Dev's homeless teens. But she's got to convince Dev that she's not setting him up for another fall. The more she's around him the more she learns that being a hero is complicated and loving a hero can be downright deadly.

Check out my website and facebook page for the latest information about Dev and Reghan and watch for No Hero, coming soon.

What about you? Who is your favorite secondary character in a book and did he or she ever test their own story? Please tell me in the comments below. I have a pretty and really handy 'reader's necklace,' which is an embellished magnifier necklace I'd love to give away in a random drawing of commenter names.




Please check out my Harlequin Intrigues too. I have a July and an August, 2014, release, which very possibly could still be on store shelves and are definitely still available online.

Thanks!
Mallory Kane
mallorykane.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMalloryKane?ref=hl


***Mallory's winner is traveler!  Please email totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your mailing details!***