Monday, October 05, 2015


I'm lucky enough to have a little piece of heaven on the Isle of Palms in the famed South Carolina Lowcountry just twenty minutes from Charleston. I'm also a midlist author trying to grow my readership. Two years ago, I told my agent I was going to do a giveaway of sorts to reach out to book clubs. The idea was to hold a drawing form entrants online and from events that I did for a weekend, bed and breakfast style, for one lucky book club. She told me I was either the smartest author on the planet or the stupidest.

But I figured book club members know each other, and for the most part actually like each other, so
how bad could it be right? The winning club was a group of six women from NYC who wanted to wait until one of their members who was very sick got better to claim their prize. The date rolled around for the trip and they forfeited, and the Read Between the Wines book club came that weekend. We had such an amazing time, I wanted to try this year's giveaway with six winners who did not know each other, each of whom would bring their bestie.

It was risky to be sure, but on a beautiful spring weekend this past April, twelve women invaded my house. All different ages, all from different socioeconomic levels, all of them bonding over their love for books. It was truly the most amazing weekend, and it was also a testament to the power of books and the kindness of women.

We were pretty far from the presidential elections when I hosted the first girlfriend weekend, but after being bombarded with candidates who want to rule our world, I can't help but think if everyone just got out of the way and let those women figure things out, this world would be much better off. And they'd probably convert a slew of readers in the process.

So, I'm doing it again, the Great Girlfriend Beach Getaway. If you'd like to enter just click here. Travel IS NOT included, lodging, breakfast and a fabulous time are guaranteed. Y'all come!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

CJ Carmichael: How Long Does It Take To Write A Book?

This is one of the questions people most frequently ask me when they hear that I’m an author. I’m not sure why. Maybe they’re hoping it doesn’t take much time and they might be able to squeeze “writing a book” into their calendar next month?

The answer, of course, is complicated. Many factors come into play. How long is the book? (My books range from short novellas of 35,000 words, to longer novels upwards of 80,000 words.) Also, how much research is required to write the book? And what else is going on in my life—are there going to be interruptions for holidays, family-stuff or other writing-related tasks.

Here is a photo of me, starting a new book in June of this year. I had the title (A Bramble House Christmas), and the picture that would be on the cover of the book, and not much else. At the time, I had planned the book to be 40,000 words and I hoped it would be ready at the end of October.

What actually happened, is that despite tons of fun distractions (lake and hiking stuff) the book turned out to be 45,000 words and I just finished the first draft a week ago. I guess I got lucky this time…once I really had time to focus, the story just sort of flowed. Some books are like that. Others are like English Assignments from Hell. But maybe I shouldn’t get too smug. I haven’t had comments back from my editor yet, which means I still don’t know how much time I’ll be spending on revisions.

And that’s the other tricky thing. When people ask how long to write a book, do they mean including revisions, copy edits, etc? Since there can be time lags of weeks or even months between these stages, you can see why it’s a hard question to answer.

So next time you ask an author a question, ask her something easy like… “Where Do You Get Your Ideas?”

C. J.’s A Bramble House Christmas will be available October 26 from Tule Publishing. While you’re waiting why not pre-order A Montana Born Christmas—this boxed set of 8 stories is a special holiday price of just 99 cents. And it took about a gazillion combined author hours to write.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Lucy Monroe Recommends: A Perfect Time for a Gothic Wedding

The month of October has thoughts of gothic romance and weddings swirling through my head because my son is getting married on the 25th! And you guessed it, he and his bride have picked a gothic theme. It has been so much fun to work with, especially for my party planner daughter who doesn't mind skulls on the bride's skirt and in the centerpieces. LOL My house has been filled with ravens, black glitter and table cloths in red hues galore. So, it only seemed natural to give you an offering of gothic romance with maybe a little schmaltzy wedding tossed in for good measure.

If you are looking for a gothic tale of romance and love, you couldn't do much better than now in mass market paperback DARK GHOST by one of my all-time faves, Christine Feehan. It should in fact, be exactly what you are searching for. From the back cover: Geologist and woman on the run, Teagan Joanes, comes across a wounded bounty hunter and vampire slayer named Andre. That fateful meeting intertwines their destinies and ignites a passion they cannot ignore.

“The Dark series has always been some of my favorites. This one was one I thoroughly enjoyed. The love scenes are great! Sexy, HOT and drool worthy. Loved the connection between the Teagan and Andre. One of the sexiest Dark ones I have read in a long time.”-Amazon Reader Review

Jennifer Hayward’s new release of the second book in her The Tenacious Tycoon series (from Harlequin Presents) is REUNITED FOR THE BILLIONAIRE’S LEGACY and it features a wedding gone wrong with a modern day twist on the gothic romance, mixing my two themes perfectly if you ask me. From the back cover: After a short but passion filled matrimony, Diana Taylor spends years trying to get her husband, Coburn Grant, to agree to a divorce. She succeeds in her request but one last night of pleasure changes plans when she finds out she is going to have a baby.

“Ms. Hayward has done an incredible job penning this story. With the right words the author brings out the raw emotions her characters feel, giving readers a clear perspective to the renewed romance is edgy and the chemistry just catches fire between the pages…” Goodreads Reader Review

Now for some pure schmaltzy, tear jerker romance with a wedding thrown in for good measure. It's an oldie but goodie. We are going to go back to February of 2002 to look at Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel THIS HEART OF MINE. From the back cover: Molly Somerville’s not-so-perfect life is turned upside down by her long time crush, quarterback Kevin Tucker. The pair battles each other and their attraction as they face life together.

“…a fabulous read. Humor, poignancy, creative plotting, wonderful characters, and superb sexual tension make this book an all-around winner.” - All About Romance Review

Another interesting spin mixing that gothic flavor (BDSM included) with the lovely flavor of weddings and honeymoons from one of my other publishers and new to me author. Meredith Wild’s new release HARD LOVE introduces us to Blake and Erica Landon right as they embark on their honeymoon. Soon, Blake finds himself in the center of controversy and Erica will stop at nothing to clear his name. (From the back cover.)

"Hard Love is suspenseful, sensual and spectacular. The combustible sexual chemistry left me in need of an ice bath and some oxygen, while the emotional twists and turns ruined my manicure. Not that I am complaining, I would gladly beg for another round." - Bookalicious Babes Blog

For those of you who have not yet read my 3 Brides for 3 Bad Boys series: RAND, COLTON, and CARTER, they are going to be on a fall flash sale for two weeks in October. Visit my social media pages for more information on this opportunity to get to know these bad boys.

“These three novellas
star the Denning "bad boy" brothers and a trio of delightful females who heat more than just their blood. Each tale is distinct because the lead couples contain differing personalities and albeit divergent relationships. Though Phoebe trade raises eyebrows even if her motives are pure, fans of erotic romantic anthologies will enjoy Lucy Monroe's passionate love stories due to a fine cast.” – Amazon Reader Review

With more than 7 million copies of her books in print worldwide, award winning and USA Today bestseller  Lucy Monroe has published over 60 books and had her stories translated for sale all over the world.  While she writes multiple subgenres of romance, all of her books are sexy, deeply emotional and adhere to the concept that love will conquer all.  A passionate devotee of romance, she adores sharing her love for the genre with her readers.

Visit her on the web:
Personal Blog
Book Blog

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Susan Sands: Busy Times

There's always something shaking around here at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs. I love all the fun topics and favorite authors who appear almost daily!      

Hopefully, I can keep up.

My debut novel, AGAIN, ALABAMA, was released back in June from Tule Publishing Group, and let me tell you, it's been a wild ride. Wild for me, anyway. I used to be a stay-at-home-waiting-to-be-published mom. I'm still a mom, and I still stay at home--a lot. But now it seems like I'm constantly begging someone to buy my book. Between Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, etc., it feels like a hamster wheel of non-stop self-promotion. It isn't for the faint of heart. I miss just writing. But I'm not ungrateful--just busy.

My oldest son recently graduated from college and moved home, the other is a senior in high school, and the girl just started driving--alone. And I'm supervising home improvements in preparation for putting the house on the market. Granite, tile, plumbing. Today I called 9-1-1 because the gas line we ran to the new stove was leaking. Yeah, that's the kind of fun we're having at my house.

I hope y'all are having a better kind of fun today.

I'm looking forward to connecting with new readers here now that I'll be a regular contributor!

(Here's a little more shameless self-promo) Great news!! AGAIN, ALABAMA will be on sale for only .99 beginning Saturday, October 3rd for a week on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and iBooks.

You can find me at all the fun places on social media:

Twitter:  @susannoelsands

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hobbies with Kate Hewitt

Recently, when talking to a new acquaintance at the local playground, we exchanged the usual information: how many children and their ages, whether we worked and what we did, what our husbands did. And then came the surprising question: “Do you do anything else?” Anything else? I have 5 kids, a full-time job, and a dog. What else can I do? The woman kindly clarified.: “Do you have any hobbies?” “Reading,” I said, rather lamely. “I like to read.”

The question got me thinking, though. For years—decades—writing was my hobby. It was the thing I did to relax, how I used my down time. And then, over the course of the last seven years, it became my job. Having it as my job is a huge privilege and blessing—but it’s also brought the pressure of deadlines and providing income. So what do I do now for my downtime? What is my hobby?

Part of me rebels against the whole idea of hobbies. Doing something for the sheer (and mere) enjoyment of the thing seems… wasteful. Another part of me recognizes how useful hobbies are. We can’t be working all the time. Having something to help you unwind is a valuable (and enjoyable) tool. And what’s wrong with doing something just for pleasure? A lot of my heroes and heroines have hobbies, funnily enough, from piano playing to Sudoku to reading cozy mysteries. So what can my hobby be? I like to cook and bake, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a hobby. I’m not taking sugar craft classes or learning how to make my own chutney. I like to garden, but my thumb is merely greenish and I usually run out steam. It’s not entirely relaxing. As for exercise… best not to go there.

I’m not, I confess, craft-oriented at all. Anything involving sewing machines, following a pattern, or a glue gun usually has me trembling in fear. I did learn to knit a long time ago, and made precisely two scarves. So what can my hobby be?

Do you have a hobby, something you love to do, whether it is create or collect or something else entirely? What helps you unwind. Please share with me and give me some ideas!

Happy Reading (& Hobbying!),


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Lauri Robinson: Bit-O-Honey

Recently, I’ve had a series of book signings at a local Barnes and Noble stores for my Daughters of the Roaring Twenties series, and I bring along a candy dish full of Bit-O-Honey candies for the table each time.
Why? Because Bit-O-Honey candy bars—I can only ever find the individual pieces—were one of the most popular candies in the 1920’s. Invented in 1924 by the Schutter-Johnson Company out of Chicago, the ‘candy bar’ was a ‘brick’ of six individual pieces wrapped together in wax paper and then covered with a candy bar wrapper. The long chewing honey-flavored taffy with its bits of almond quickly became a hit from coast to coast.

The recipe for Bit-O-Honey candies has not changed over the years, but the company making them has a couple times. The last time was in 2013 when the Pearson’s Candy Company of St. Paul, Minnesota bought the brand.

I was excited a couple of years ago when I found a bag of Bit-O-Honey candies because I hadn’t seen them in years, and I’ve kept them in my candy jar ever since. It’s amazing the amount of people who are thrilled to see them. The same thing has happened at the book signings. The candy dish full of them certainly has been a conversation starter.

Other popular candy from the 1920’s includes Charleston Chews (named after the dance of course!), the Baby Ruth candy bar (yes, named after the old grand-slammer himself, Babe Ruth), Slo Pokes, and Teaberry Chewing Gum. This is also the era that brought us Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers, and Milk Duds. So, in other words, candy lovers have a lot to appreciate about the 20’s!

Are any of these favorites of yours?

For me (beside the Bit-O-Honey) it’s the Butterfinger, and I have a fun recipe that tastes remarkable close to them. Just take two Cheez-It crackers, put a dab of peanut butter between them and dip the mini-sandwich in melted chocolate almond bark. (Try it, you’ll be amazed!)

The Forgotten Daughter, the last book in this series, will be released October 1st. RT reviews had this to say about it--Robinson completes her Daughters of the Roaring Twenties series by exploring a dark problem of the era: human trafficking. With a courageous heroine and stalwart hero, the story moves quickly, losing nothing of the ‘20s atmosphere Robinson infuses into these stories. The addition of characters from past novels, Babe Ruth, a few gangsters and revealing secrets add to the fans’ pleasure.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Bringing Romance to Life

by Joanne Rock

I'm looking forward to a new release from Harlequin Superromance this Thursday. Dances Under the Harvest Moon is my third book in my Heartache, TN series, and writing this one brought me as much joy as the first two in the series. Some of that, I realized recently, had to do with the beautiful titles for these stories. Call me crazy... how can a title shape my whole experience writing an eighty-thousand word story? But for me, it really does. Allow me to explain.
My October release

I find it hard to work on a story without a title. It doesn't matter if it's not the title that goes on the cover in the end. I need a working title before I can begin a single word of a synopsis or chapter. While I certainly have book ideas that begin with characters, plot concepts, conflicts, or themes, I never really have a story take shape in my head until I've attached some kind of title to the idea. Only then does a book really start to grow for me.

With the first Heartache, TN book, I really felt from the start that I wasn't just creating a story. I was creating a world. It seemed important for a small town romance that I be intimately acquainted with the town. For me, that meant collecting photos, creating a map and sketching out some of the town's key figures. But the town itself wasn't the story world. That didn't really crystallize for me until we called this one Promises Under the Peach Tree.

Such an evocative title! Now the world wasn't just a place... it was a place with heart. A place I could breath in and feel the grass under my feet. Not only did Heartache become real for me, it became a place I enjoyed visiting each time I returned to the manuscript. I knew these people. They were friends.

With each return to Heartache, the titles have helped solidify moods and feelings. Nights Under the Tennessee Stars brought to mind drive in movies, midnight tailgating parties and drinks on the back porch. And this most recent story, Dances Under the Harvest Moon, well that just oozes romance! Hearing the title and seeing that book cover takes me to a romantic dance in the moonlight. Anyone else a fan of the Neil Young song Harvest Moon?

Like any romance reader knows, of course, a romance book is not just full of moonlit dances. We read romance to see how real characters combat the same kinds of conflicts we face in our lives, and to root for love to conquer all. But it makes me happy to give my characters those beautiful moments in the course of their journey that help make the battle for love all the more worthwhile. And in this book, a slow dance in the driveway helped remind me why this was a romance worth fighting for.

We all need our own moonlit dances, or nights under the stars or peach tree promises to get us through our own romances, I think. Those memories within our relationships pull us through real life battles and make us smile through hard times. It never hurts to think up your title-- to give yourself that memory or the lens through which to view your love-- and let it shape how you think about your romance. Our words mean so much. They shape how we think and articulate how we feel. Use yours kindly and christen your own romance with something to make you smile, too.
A giveaway for you!

***When you need a good, happy memory to make you smile, do you envision a shared romantic memory or a shared laugh? The times I love my husband the most are when he makes me smile at the moments when I'm discouraged. When he's at his best, he can tease a smile from my worst mood, and that's a special gift! Share with me this week and I'll give one random poster a little everyday romance to make YOU smile! A copy of Promises Under the Peach Tree and some decadent bath products to bring back the scent of warm summer days.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Eve Gaddy: Confessions of an Office Supply Junkie

There. I've admitted it. I love office supplies. I've written more than one blog about them because, well, it's an addiction.:) I was going to the office supply store the other day to buy mailing envelopes for a weekly giveaway on my Facebook page-- --Marvelous Mondays, if you're interested. Anyway, I needed size #2 bubble mailing envelopes. That. Is. All. I. Needed.

The first temptation, other than computers, of course, were the jump drives of various cartoon figures. Loony Toons, Superheroes, dinosaurs, turtles, penguins, you name it, there's probably a jump drive shaped like it. I have approximately 437 jump drives. I like to keep separate ones for each book, for other business related stuff, for old projects in case I need them. But my drives are not by any means full.

Sometimes I have a reason for choosing which drive goes with which book. Often I do not, or at least, not one I know of. 

For the Billionaire's Charade, Amalfi Night Billionaires Book 5, which just came out, I used the little spaceman. I don't know why. Perhaps because it's set on an exotic island?

For several of the Whiskey River books I used the fish. I have no idea why. Because I liked it?

And for Cry Love, my interracial, reincarnation, romantic suspense book, I used Bugs Bunny. Since it deals with heavy topics I must have thought I needed some levity. I love Bugs. He makes me laugh. But back to the store, I managed to avoid putting any jump drives in my basket, even though they had some new-to-me ones that were only $9.99!  Then I went down the notebook aisle.

These are just a sampling of my hundreds of notebooks. Some are pristine, having never been used. Some have very few pages because I try to rip out the old, unnecessary pages. Some are important. They are not organized by book, though I try. But again, I do not need notebooks. Of any size. Yet I had to drag myself away from the notebook aisle.

After swinging back by the jump drives and resisting temptation again, I narrowly avoided the pens and calendars. I looked at the doo-dads for the office, organizer files, pen holders, and the like. I looked at the office furniture, and no, I don't need that either. Eventually I made it out of the store with a box of the envelopes I went to buy and a three-tier small desk organizer to use for the SWAG I send with my weekly giveaways. Yes, I actually needed what I bought. But I felt like I'd run a marathon. I was totally exhausted from forcing myself to be practical! Next time I'm buying something I want that I don't need.

I have just discovered that there are writers out there who DO NOT have an addiction to office supplies. I didn't think such a thing was possible. But one of my friends, a wonderful writer, said that office supplies are necessary but why would I be addicted to them?

To say I was shocked is putting it mildly. I don't know whether to pity her because she'll never know the joy of having 8,000 pens, 427 jump drives, 952 notebooks, countless labels, sticky notes, stickers and other various and sundry items, or to ask her what her secret is.

How about you? Are you a "I can take them or leave them" or someone who likes nothing better than to browse office supply stores and lust over the goodies inside?

One lucky commenter will win one of my giveaway packages. A signed copy of Cry Love, a Tule Book Girls book bag, and lots of SWAG. Visit Eve at her newly revamped website, @evegaddy on Twitter or on Facebook at

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kristina Knight: Behind the Book: The Rockers Series

I'll let you in on a little secret: I can't write without music. Seriously. My brain stops sending messages to my fingers and I freeze. Sounds crazy, doesn't it? A writer should be able to write from anywhere...and I can, as long as there is music, too.

I know several writers who listen to a specific playlist from the start of a project all the way through edits. I don't do that. My writing process requires different types of music for different areas: when I'm drafting, it's light classical or jazz. No Muzak and no instrumentals of popular songs because I'll wind up singing and not writing. Once the draft is in the can and I'm on to edits, my playlist comes into play, and it will have a little bit of everything from pop and rock to country and even some oldies thrown in for good measure. While I'm editing, the songs on  my playlist will help me remember the mood of a scene or the crux of my hero's or heroine's problem...or the song will remind me of the book in general.

Here's a sampling of the playlist behind my Rockers series: Light My Fire, Start Me Up and Call Me.

1985 by Bowling for Soup
Springsteen by Eric Church
Raise Your Glass by Pink
Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash
Light My Fire by The Doors
Dance Forever by Allstar Weekend
Daylight by Maroon 5
Cruisin' by Smokey Robinson
Come Over by Kenny Chesney
(Kissed You) Goodnight by Gloriana
Here Comes Goodbye by Rascall Flats

An Excerpt from Light My Fire:
“Don’t.” Her words were a whisper, but still loud in the back of the limo.
            “Don’t, what?”
            Finally she looked at him, her deep brown eyes molten in the darkness. “Don’t be my brother’s best friend tonight. Don’t be my cheerleader. Just…” Her hand trembled against his on the cool leather seat. “I’m not America’s favorite sixteen-year-old any longer. I don’t need to pretend I’m still sixteen, and the magazines are already burning me at Trey’s sacrificial altar, so why not send that old image up in flames all the way?”
            She leaned across the seat, brushed her sweet lips across his cheek, and Nate nearly lost it. He was holding on by a thread. This was Lily.
            The same girl he’d grown up with. The Lily who’d brought him home after school because she noticed he hadn’t eaten lunch for three days. The Lily who cheered for him at the high school talent show. The Lily who couldn’t really want him, because if she did…he would ruin her.
            Nate groaned when her lips brushed against his. A bit of her hair had come loose from the sleek updo and brushed against his neck, fanning that trickle of flame even hotter.
            Her hand traced the line of his jaw, and Nate’s resistance burned to the ground. He pushed her back into the corner and dug his hands into her hair. “You don’t know what you’re asking for.”
            She panted. “I know exactly what I want, Nate Lansford, and what I want is you.”
            Nate lowered his lips to hers, tasting the sweetness of her lips for the first time. Her tongue tangled with his, pushing him further, asking him for more. And Nate gave it.
            When Lily arched her back, Nate reached for her breast, feeling her nipple pucker beneath the fine silk of her dress. She moaned, a tiny sound, but it was enough to pull him back into the present.
            What was he doing? This was Lily. The girl who made him want to be more than the kid from the wrong side of Malibu’s tracks. His friend.
            He couldn’t mess that up.
            Nate pushed away from her, fisting his hands in his hair as he tried to put a few more inches between them. The back of the limo was too tight. He was too close to Lily. He needed air. Space.
            “I’m sorry.” His voice was rough. “That shouldn’t have happened.”

Nate smiled at her. “Still putting on a show?”
            She could only shake her head.
            “Because I’m about through watching it.”
            Her belly twisted at the innuendo. “Sometimes you have to be part of the sh—”
            He put his index finger over her lips. “No quippity-quips. Not now, Lil. Let’s just dance, okay?”
            Her lips burned under his finger, but she nodded and slid into his arms as the DJ switched from bass-thumping fun to guitar-sensitive slow.
            Nate slid his hands beneath her coat and reached under the camisole to play with the sensitive skin at the small of her back. And she melted into him. Lily rested her head below his shoulder and twined her fingers with his. She sighed at the rightness of being in his arms, even in the middle of a crowd and fully clothed.
            He played his fingers along her sides like a piano and then worked his way around to the small of her back again, burning her from the outside in. Lily swallowed. She might want Nate, but she wasn’t ready for him.
            Wasn’t ready for whatever this was building between them.
            A small part of her still wanted the Nate she remembered—the boy who stood up to school-yard bullies for her, who smiled at her and only her while he performed before the rest of the student body in talent shows. The boy she shared her lunch with, the boy who took her to the senior prom when Bailey Yeardley stood her up at the last minute. She had so many memories with Nate, and almost all of them also involved her brother. What if whatever this was messed up not only her friendship with Nate, but also Chase’s?
            Her waking up a year ago and realizing the boy she’d grown up with had become a heart-stoppingly attractive man didn’t mean a thing . He was still her brother's best friend. He might be the guy who would give the reporter's something to talk about besides her show being cancelled, but that wasn't a good enough reason to act. Not if they couldn’t salvage their friendship when this lust train arrived at the next station.

Amazon   BN   iBooks   Kobo

An Excerpt from Start Me Up:
She sat back, crossing her arms over her chest. "You can't be serious."
            His posture was the exact opposite of hers. Everything about him was opposite. Where she wore a pretty Stella McCartney blouse and prim pencil skirt, he wore ripped jeans and a tight black tee. Her strappy Manolos hadn't a single scratch. His Dr. Martens had to be from 1999 and looked like they'd cleaned up after one too many groupies in the green room.
            You're in control here, Nina. You're the professional. He's the client. Shoo him away like the ass he really is.
            Oh, but what a fine ass he has, the part of her brain she was definitely not listening to today said.
            "I assure you I'm serious. I need a non-clingy, well-proportioned date for a gala fundraiser in two days and I'd prefer she have no illusions as to what this is about." He sat forward in his chair and Nina was sure she saw his abs ripple. She caught her breath and then forced her gaze from the spectacle and back to those blue-blue eyes. And promptly forgot to breathe again. "The money raised will keep music programs in at least fifteen local schools. To keep the cash coming I need the headlines to be about the event, not my social life."
"Then you should go alone."
"Going alone will keep the gossip rags talking. What I need is a pretty date for a one- night-only performance."
            Nina blew out the breath she'd been holding. She didn't believe for a second this was a mercy date situation. More like a mercy hookup. She didn't do hookups. Her business set up marriage minded people who were matched based on an algorithm her aunt developed ten years before. An algorithm that had made the company a go-to in Los Angeles.
            She shot a glance out the window at the press corps on the sidewalk below her window.
            Well, until this morning, anyway.
"I think you've got my firm confused with…something else entirely, but for future reference—" she typed a few words into the search engine on her computer and flipped the screen to face him "—I am a matchmaker. A noun, meaning one who arranges relationships or marriages." She opened the next tab and gestured to the computer screen. "I am not a madam, although madams are also nouns. There is a very large, very cavernous area between matchmaking and houses of prostitution."

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An Excerpt from CALL ME:
“Hello, Josh,” she said, echoing his tone from a few minutes before.
            He blinked and then sat up straight. “What the hell are you doing in my car, Kat?” His smooth baritone slid over her senses and, just like that, she was pulling herself back from the abyss she’d been in five years before. This was just a one-night stand. Nothing to get excited about.
            Okay, one thing to get excited about. He knew all her secret places. She knew how to push him to the edge. And in the past few years, they’d probably both learned a few new things.
            “What do you think I’m doing here?” she countered, crossing her legs and spreading her arms over the back of the seat. “You practically invited me.”
            The car began moving. Well, at least he hadn’t kicked her out of the limo.
            “I said hello.”
            “You told me not to leave on your account.”
            “And then you did.”
            “I thought you might want a little more privacy.” She slid across the side bench to Josh’s seat, bent her leg to sit sideways and rested her head against her elbow. “This is pretty private, I’d say.”
            He watched her for a long moment. “You’re here for sex.”
            Kat nodded. “I don’t usually go for casual, but since we have a history, this isn’t your typical one-night stand.”
            “This isn’t what I expected when I came down here tonight.”
            “This isn’t what I expected when I showed up for work tonight.” She reached out to trace her finger along his jaw. That contact zinged along her nerve endings straight to the butterflies flapping around in her belly, electrifying their beat.
            “I’m headed straight to the airport.” He leaned toward her.
            “LA traffic’s a bitch no matter what time of day it is.”
            “You’re not the girl I remember.” This time he reached for her, his hand drawing a path of fire down her arm. “The girl I remember—”
            She cut him off before he could get started on the girl she used to be. The girl who was of so little importance he felt no qualms about walking away from without a single word. Well, she’d grown up since then. Had other relationships. Sure, none of them as serious or deep as what she thought she’d had with him.
But then, she’d never really had him, had she?

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Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police--no, she wasn't a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer's capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she's living her own happily ever after.
Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!  Website  Facebook

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Black Hole of Researching a Novel by Jenny Gardiner

We were talking about research on another blog this week so I thought I'd talk a little bit about things I've had to learn while writing my books.
Yeesh! Research! Nearly as big a time-suck as Facebook is...but at least with research, I'm learning something. Maybe it'll help me get on Jeopardy some day.
If I want to distract myself and not do the writing I need to do, all I need to do is knock on the door of my good friend Mr. Google under the guise of researching for my book, and off we go on a little educational adventure...
I find in researching royalty for my It's Reigning Men series, it can get super complicated, so many lords and dukes and marquesses and then if you change countries it's a marquis and don't even get me started on emperors and dowagers. If I want to adhere to strict rules of royalty as per Burke's Peerage, well, forget it. It gets far too complicated, and well, my characters aren't British. They're more like British-ish. With a soup├žon of Italian, and maybe un peu de fran├žais. With a little Scandinavian royal wedding-wear thrown in for good measure. Which has made it more fun yet occasionally more time-consuming, and more easy for me to just chuck the rules out the window and make up my own royal dictates. Sometimes you just gotta love fiction because it lets you just make it all up.
That said, I had worked for a long time on a book I had hoped would be a fantastic novel. It is, unfortunately, not that at all, and is in fact never going to see the light of a publishing day, so all that time and effort and gnashing of teeth was for nought. Although maybe not entirely because I did learn plenty from it--i.e. I learned not to waste my time on a lousy book. But I had to do some interesting research for that one because my characters needed to die in a car accident but be resuscitated in the emergency department (and yes, they are now called emergency departments, not emergency rooms). The resuscitation idea came up when I was reading Sam Parnia's Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death. Fascinating book, by the way. I was so intrigued with the universality about what happens with people who have died and been revived, so I decided to give my characters a chance to walk that path.
My town is a big hospital town, so it's easy to find medical types who are willing to help out. I reached out to someone I know who knew someone who was a nurse in the ED and happy to let me pick her brain. And she was amazing, gave me the grand tour, we sat in the trauma bays and she went over minute details about every piece of equipment in there and what would happen with a car accident and what might kill someone but leave room for resuscitation, then what would happen if the medical team was able to get their hearts working again. She gave me the names of a number of medical conditions that could fit into this category, which I then went down the rabbit hole of the internet to research more deeply.
A family friend is an EMT and she helped me to understand what would happen when they arrived on the scene of an MVA (motor vehicle accident, natch).
For the same book I needed my protagonist to develop a deep friendship with a man who'd been a cattle rancher in Australia. Oh they're not ranches in Australia, they're stations. So I reached out to some Australian friends for details about all things Oz I'd need to know for this. And the protagonist was a wedding photographer who was flown by a wealthy client to shoot their wedding on the Amalfi Coast (I actually have a photographer friend who had such luck!), so had to drill down for more information on where you'd marry there. I decided I didn't want it to be on Capri, so turned my sights to Positano, a town I love.
So while the book is dead, may it rest in peace (oh wait, maybe it was a cardiac tamponade that killed the book and can actually be revived with a needle precariously inserted into its pericardial sac!), I learned all sorts of interesting things and wasted much time that could have been spent on another book that might see the light of day. But I'm all the wiser for it, on a number of levels. At least that's what I tell myself.
Such is the day-to-day working of a writer, I guess! And I'm ever so grateful we have the internet to rely upon rather than having to stir up my allergies by delving into dusty, dark rooms full of old books I'd need to read cover-to-cover in order to glean the needed information.
Speaking of publishing books, today book four of It's Reigning Men, Love is in the Heir is being released--hope you'll check it out!
And I just re-released Anywhere But Here, with a brand spanking new cover. It's a book I've always enjoyed, and if you've not read it, feel free to mosey on over to see what you think!
Lastly, book 5 of the It's Reigning Men series, Shame of Thrones, is available for pre-order!

JennyGardiner_SomethingintheHeir200   JennyGardiner_HeirTodayGoneTommorrow200
JennyGardiner_BadtotheThrone200  JennyGardiner_LoveIsInTheHeir_200    AnywhereButHere1_200
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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Susan Stephens: The Ladies Club

Hello again!

So excited to announce that my first Box Set of The Ladies Club novellas will be out tomorrow the 18th.

To celebrate the first three stories and  the bonus of my Christmas story, which is included in this set, I am going crazy with giveaways, so please don't miss out!
Sign up to my Newsletter to be included in that draw, and if you would like to review The Bride Wore Red at the Ladies Club, I have 5 free copies to giveaway in return for an honest review on any one of your favourite sites.

Here on the Yorkshire moors we're enjoying the last few days of sunshine before the soft autumn days turn into the harsh winter we expect here each year. I just have to share this lovely photo with you. I'm always relieved when the weather is kind to the farmers around here and they can get their hay in safely.

Wishing you all the happiness and good fortune in the world :)

Your friend and author,