Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Community, Conversation, and Life is Great

I'm here at Novelists, Inc. and I'm struck once again by the power of community. We're here to talk about books, authorship, publishing models and the future, and the most exciting thing is that we're here to create the future together.

Every author here has a unique path to success. Every author we publish at Sourcebooks has a unique path. A couple of days ago I read this marvelous blog post from Emma Dryden.

Yes indeed comparison is the killer of joy.

Every quarter at Sourcebooks we have a managers meeting and we all read a book on leadership or about our industry. Some time ago we read Tribal Leadership and what stayed with me all this time is the "five levels" of attitudes in a tribe or group (I'm paraphrasing).

1. Life sucks. (This is where people "go postal")

2. My life sucks. (Well, at least there's some hope.)

3. I'm great. (Implied: uh, you're not)

4. We're great. (And implied: but no one else is)

5. Life is great.

This last is where you're in it for the love of the game, the competition doesn't scare you because you're having such a great time exploring and innovating and learning.

This is where I want to live, don't you?

I'm with Sourcebooks, I'm at NINC this weekend with some of the most brilliant minds in our industry, I'm looking for everything I can bring to being a best-in-class publisher, I adore my authors, life is great.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Not-So-Scary-Movies List by Terri L. Austin

If you’re old enough, cast your mind aaaaallll the way back to the 80’s, when cable came in one variety: basic. We made do with a handful of channels and considered ourselves lucky. My children wonder how I lived through such depravation—no streaming, no interwebz, no cell phones. Somehow, I struggled through and made it all the way to adulthood before texting. Oh, the tragedy of it all.  
Anyhoodles, back in the day, local stations didn’t carry seventeen late night talk shows and were forced to get creative and develop their own programs. Hence the boom of the late night horror fest, with dozens of Elvira knockoffs who introduced scary movies to the kiddos and a few adults who had nothing better to do.
In our market, we had Friday Fright Night, and during my tween years, watching a trio of schlocky movies became a ritual. So every Friday, after the local news, I’d be huddled up with my friends, and with the lights off, we’d watch horrible horror movies that would send delicious shivers of terror up my spine. But I knew all would be well, because after a particularly frightening scene, car commercials broke up the tension and gave us the opportunity to grab handfuls of popcorn and talk about boys.

The movies weren’t very scary, not really. I’ve rewatched some of them as an adult, and boy, are they stinkers. But these cheesetastic favorites take on the warm glow of nostalgia, because I watched them with my childhood pals. So I’m going to give a few that I remember fondly.
Prom Night—the original from 1980. Before Jamie Lee Curtis became the yogurt lady whose concern about our intestinal health got a little obsessive, she was a scream queen. After Halloween, she put out a few more slasher flicks, including this one. Everything about this movie—from the tedious, drawn out flashback at the beginning to the incomparable Leslie Nielsen, in an ironically serious role as high school principal/Jamie Lee’s dad—bears all the hallmarks of a teen slayfest. Kids getting killed while having unprotected sex in the back of a van? Of course! Bizarre weapons used on mean girls wearing prom dresses? Like, duh. But…this movie has the added bonus of Leslie Nielsen disco dancing. Yeah, you read that right. Leslie, performs some seriously smooth moves with Jamie Lee on the lighted dance floor. You’re not going to find that type of entertainment just anywhere.
And speaking of Jamie Lee, we have Terror Train—1980. On board a party train, a sadistic killer is picking off teens, one by one, to right a wrong no else remembers. Isn’t that always the way with these sadistic slashers, always exacting overly complicated revenge? This plot is almost identical to the above mentioned Prom Night. But sadly, no disco dancing. And the teens here are in college, not high school. However, where else are you going to find David Copperfield—yes, that David Copperfield—in riveting role as a magician? Um…

Moving on, we have Satan’s School for Girls—1974. This was originally a made for TV movie directed by Aaron Spelling. Bonus feature: it stars Kate Jackson and Cheryl Ladd. Yes, before they were Charlie’s Angels, they were Satan’s schoolgirls. This movie is bad. I mean bad, bad. Our heroine’s sister is found dead, so even though she’s like, thirty-six, she enrolls in Salem Academy for Women to find out the truth. Our girl should have known something was up when she was issued a gas lamp because the lights often went kaputz for no apparent reason, and, oh yeah, no one wants to talk about all the dead girls piling up like chicken bones at a picnic. On the plus side, we get manly eye candy in the form of a groovy art teacher who says profound things like, “You have to let your mind hang loose.” Word, Professor Good Hair. finally, no awful horror movie list would be complete without Halloween III: Season of the Witch—1982. What makes this movie so bad, you ask? Aren’t the Halloween movies, featuring the recurring hockey-masked Michael Myers, a classic franchise? Yes, I answer, they are. But this movie isn’t connected to the Halloween movies in any way, other than the title. You see, some old dude is making masks and he advertises them incessantly, accompanied by a highly irritating, electronic song counting down the days until Halloween. And some dad figures out the old dude is shady. So he decides, like all good dads would, to head to the parent company and ask a few questions. ??? Along for the ride, is a woman he wants to schtup. ??? But after the schtupping and sleuthing, our duo are taken prisoner by the old dude—Oh Noes!—and have to stop the clock before the chip embedded into all the evil masks makes the kids’ heads turn to mush. Not sure why the old dude is going to all this trouble. All he needs to do is wait a few years for the video game boom, and then their little brains will be mushy in no time. But I digress. So, the dad gets free and saves most of the kids. Whew! What a close call. This movie is laughably bad. Therefore, I bought the DVD and watch it every Halloween.  
And so ends my list…for this year. But I’ll be back. Mwhahahaha. No seriously, if you get the chance to watch any of these movies, you have way too much time on your hands. But they are worth a chuckle.
So, do you have any awful horror movie memories? I’d love to hear all about it!  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Refilling the Well

You might think that Casablanca Authors write all day, every day to give readers more top notch books to read, and because we love it. And we do! But sometimes, we need some down time to refill the well, so to speak. To find new inspiration. What do we do then?

We read, and we watch movies or shows. I just went to see Gone Girl and was delighted to find the movie as good as the book (well, pretty darn close, anyway). Yes, I loved Gone Girl. Two twisted leads, not knowing quite who to cheer on. I admire the way Gillian Flynn made me want to keep reading even when I didn't like any of the characters all that much. Well played, Flynn. And how can we keep writing great books if we don't take the time to read great books? There's nothing quite as inspiring as reading a well-written book. Reading, my favorite way to spend an afternoon. Or an evening. Or a week. Or... yes, I love reading.

We listen to music. Every book I write seems to start with an inspiring soundtrack. My Edwardian romance Thornbrook Park was driven by the White Stripes Seven Nation Army, believe it or not. The relentless beat helped me to craft the unstoppable hero, Marcus Thorne. I also love the Dream Academy for setting a mood. Do you remember the museum scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off? The Dream Academy's cover of the Smith's Please Please Let Me Get What I Want played in the background. What worked for John Hughes also works for me.

We go to writer's conferences and reader events! A great mix of fun and business. The truth is that we love meeting readers, because we are readers too. We know what it's like to meet an author we really love, and to read a book that gets us excited, and to try to keep calm and act natural in front of a beloved author when we just want to gush and sigh in admiration. My most recent brush with fame? I met Susan Mallery and Mariah Stewart at a New Jersey Romance Writers Conference. Just try to keep calm after meeting one of your favorite authors! Not easy.

And we love talking to other writers, because no one understands us quite like our colleagues. I watched my friend Dee Davis get inducted into the NJRW Hall of Fame, which was pretty darn cool. We started writing in the same year and Dee is one of my best friends for over 15 years now. Along with Julia London and Julie Kenner. And... well, I could name drop all night. I have a lot of author friends (one of the perks of being an author-- as long as you don't get caught in the trap of comparing careers).

We travel! Which probably goes hand in hand with going to writers/readers conferences. As you read this, I am on my way to St. Petersburg FL for, yes, another conference. A week of staying at the beach, brainstorming with other authors, discussing industry news... did I mention the beach? By the time I get back, I should be ready to write a bestseller! Hey, I can hope.

My sincere thanks to all of you who gave Thornbrook Park a chance, and who plan to read An Affair Downstairs (A Thornbrook Park romance), too. And to my fellow Casablanca Authors! We're a very supportive bunch, and it warms my heart. Kindle and Nook

What do you do to refill your well? Your favorite books, movies, music, travel experiences? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pre-Order HER LONE WOLF and HER SECRET AGENT, the next books in the X-OPS Series!

Did you know that you can pre-order HER LONE WOLF, Book 2 in the X-OPS Series (Release Date Nov 4th) and HER SECRET AGENT, the FREE X-OPS Novella (Release Date Dec 2nd)?! There's even a bonus excerpt in the novella from HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF, Book 1 of my new SWAT (Special Wolf Alpha Team) Series!

Leaving him was Impossible...
It took everything she had for FBI Special Agent Danica Beckett to walk away from the man she loved. But if she wants to save his life, she has to keep her distance. Now, with a killer on the loose and the stakes higher than ever before, the Department of Covert Ops is forcing these former lovers into an uneasy alliance...whether they like it or not.

Seeing her again is even worse
The last thing Clayne Buchanan wants is to be shackled to the woman who broke his heart. She gets under his skin in a way no one ever has and makes him want things he has no right to anymore. All he has to do is suffer through this case and he can be free of her for good. But when Clayne finds out why Danica left in the first place, everything he's tried to bury comes roaring back-and there's no way this wolf shifter is going to let her get away this time.


John Loughlin, Director of the Department of Covert Ops, is in New York City on a recruiting mission. Cree Forest is a clever fox shifter-and very foxy. John is keen to hire her brilliant mind onto his team.

But Cree isn't what she seems. Just as John has been watching her, Cree has been spying on him. Now John is getting too close-both professionally and personally. On opposite sides of a lethal game, can they trust each other with their hearts?



Hunky Heroes, Kickbutt Heroines, Unforgettable Romance!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Susanna Buys a Book

by Susanna Ives

I needed my smartphone battery replaced.  I knew it but didn’t want to admit it.  Several times in the last month, I would be running up a nasty hill, my muscles straining, lungs burning, only the driving beat of Rick James’ “Super Freak” to keep me going. Then suddenly: silence.  My smartphone screen would go black and the crest of the hill remained a painful quarter of a mile away. 

I dreaded making the appointment with the smartphone store, then fighting city traffic, hunting down a parking spot, and dealing with the barrage of light and loudness in the crowded mall. It would take half a day and much emotional trauma to fix my smartphone. So, I did what I do best: I procrastinated, made excuses, and drifted about in the warm waters of denial. Then the technology gods took mercy on me when I visited my mother. She was overseeing Halloween crafts with the grandkids and sent me, her Martha Stewart-challenged daughter, to the store to pick up more fake cobwebs.  I was driving along when I saw it shimmering in the distance: Barnes and Noble. My heart did little flippy things. (I need to make a note of explanation at this point. There isn’t a bookstore within an easy distance of my home. I buy books online.)

“No, no, no,” my inner accountant counseled my inner drooling Pavlovian dog. “Very dangerous.” (I understand that there is a skyscraper in Dubai that rivals my TBR pile.)

Burj Khalifa or infograph of my TBR pile

But next door to the siren bookstore was the smartphone store, and a minivan was pulling out of the parking spot by the front door.  It was a sign from the cyber heavens.  It was all meant to be. Fifteen minutes later, the hip, brilliant, young smartphone company employees had taken my phone to the magic place in the back to repair. “It will be about thirty minutes,” they told me.

Thirty minutes?
What I would do for that long?
And without my smartphone?

So, you see, I had no choice but to go into the dangerous Barnes and Noble. I swear walking through the doors was like running into a hot, wildly interesting guy you fell in love with years ago, only to find that he is still hot and wildly interesting and you are still in love.

I adored the smell of the pages, coffee and pastries.  I adored the quiet footfalls, whispers, and shush of turning pages. I loved that the books were neatly lined up for me to peruse, to admire the cover, flip the pages, read the words in their lovely serifs. The comfy chairs beckoned to me. Come rest. Come read like all the fascinating people here.  That day I was in the mood for cowboys, and I found a wonderful historical western romance that pulled me in from page one.  No emails popped up in the background as I read, no alerts from social media flashed, no potato chip grease smeared the surfaces, no battery counted down by percentages to a black death, no one needed to shout “Okay, who took my charger!”    

I’m not naysaying electronic reading devices by any means. It’s just a different experience for me.  To me, reading on my numerous reading devices is like a lazy summer day spent in a lounge chair by a shimmering aqua pool and sipping a cool drink, whereas reading a print book in a lovely bookstore is like lazy summer day spent in a lounge chair by a shimmering aqua pool and sipping a cool drink with a hot pool boy holding your straw.

Thirty minutes later I wandered into the smartphone store with a gentle smile lighting up my face and a hot cowboy western in my hand.  I’m happy to report that  I have the battery life to listen to “Super Freak” one hundred times over. But then I can turn it off and pick up my book, which still smells of paper, coffee, and pastries.

Susanna Ives is the author of the Victorian romances Wicked Little Secrets and the upcoming Wicked, My Love.

You can learn more about her work at her Website/Blog  | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest |

Friday, October 17, 2014

Hot Sea Captains and a Give Away

Who doesn't love hot sea captains? I have to admit that I have a soft spot for them, a nautical mile wide and fathoms deep. I think of the British Navy, and I recall the film Master and Commander with Russell Crowe fighting the French in the Pacific, trying valiantly to protect British shipping lanes, the life blood of the Empire.

So with Mr. Crowe's stint as a Naval Captain, we find the qualities of hotness, integrity, and courage. All fine things indeed for a romantic hero. But what other qualities might we seek in a Hot Sea Captain?
I refer now to one of my favorite sea captains of all time, Captain Frederick Wentworth, of His Majesty's Navy, from my all time favorite Jane Austen novel, PERSUASION.

As you can see, this particular captain is especially fine as portrayed by one of my favorite British actors. This character also has the beautiful traits of loyalty and pride, as he waits for the woman he has loved for over ten years.

And last, but far from least, I come to another Hot Sea Captain, Captain James Montgomery from my own Regency romance, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK.  Captain Montgomery has a lot of stellar qualities, the chief of which is, of course, smoldering good looks. This photo speaks for itself.

But James, aka JACK, also has the qualities of loyalty, courage, and a sense of humor. I must admit that as romantic heroes go, Hot Sea Captains are at the top of my Happy List.
If you would like a chance to win a signed copy of MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK, please comment below telling me what your favorite quality in a Hot Sea Captain might be...

The winner will be announced in the comments section on Saturday, October 18th.
After years of acting in Shakespeare’s plays, I’ve been delighted to bring the Bard to Regency England in my historical romances HOW TO TAME A WILLFUL WIFE, a re-telling of The Taming of the Shrew, LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, and my latest, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK. For more from me and my novels, please join me on my blog

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What happened to my summer? by Jade Lee

If you've followed me in the blogosphere, you know that I've had an interesting summer. Mostly it's been...

A. Conference, conference, conference. Oh and a racquetball tournament. Why? Were you thinking I did anything different this summer?
How's that for a pink shirt? And no, neither player is me.

B. My daughter's wedding. Sure it was months ago, but hey...I haven't paid for the pictures yet, so in my mind it's been all I've done all year.
C. Massive ADD from hyper-thyroidism. And btw, this blog so far as taken me three days to piece to--squirrel! Laundry! Which project was I on? Oh yeah. Health insurance form...
D. Writing! Writing! Writing!

Answer: All of the above! Yes, I've done conferences, my daughter's wedding, hyperthyroid ADD, and writing. Because of the ADD, what I wrote wasn't really coherent, but I typed things. I know I did. I was probably brilliant but obviously corrupted by that squirrel I saw.

Since I had to cut back on my travel--well, I will soon, I swear--I thought I'd show you some pictures of what Squidge has been doing in my stead.

Squidge attended Hot Mojave Knights in Las Vegas, NV. 
What happens in Vegas... 

Lit in the Lou pic 

Squidge ran away from this pic. It was a gift on my husband's desk chair left by our cat. 
That's why I work on an exercise ball! 

Squidge decided to try it out!

Looking back it seems like I did a lot, but honestly, it's all a blur to me. And since I don't have a manuscript to show for it, I kinda wonder where my last four months went. Oh well. I do finally have a title for my May 2015 book!

A. The Duke's Cunning Plan
B. The Duke's Cunning Linguist [suggested by Damon Suede]
C. The Duke's Best Idea Ever
D. Fifty Ways to Ruin a Rake

Answer: D!  And now I've got to think of ways to ruin a rake to use as chapter headings. If you've got an idea, leave it in the comments section. Someone will win an e copy of my latest book -- What the Groom Wants by Jade Lee.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Juggle, Plus a Book Giveaway

Oh, dear. I hope you didn't think from the post title that I have the slightest clue how to do anything like this. Or anything else involving more hand-eye coordination than typing.


No, the sort of juggling I'm talking about is of a bookish sort.

See, I write for two publishers. Last week, my newest holiday romance, SEASON FOR DESIRE, was released by Kensington. And in January, my Matchmaker trilogy will wrap up when Sourcebooks releases SECRETS OF A SCANDALOUS HEIRESS.

This means there's a lot going on behind the scenes, as reviews start to come in for one book and advance copies go out for the next. Sourcebooks is already working on promotion for SECRETS OF A SCANDALOUS HEIRESS (let's just call it SOASH for now). Reviewers can find SOASH on NetGalley; readers can enter a Goodreads giveaway for early copies.

And me? I'm writing writing writing, and also popping up in different places online for guest posts and features and interviews. More than any other time, authors get the chance to chat with readers when they have a new book out. I absolutely love getting the opportunity to do that. And I always try to keep things fun for readers, to show my appreciation for you guys! For example--I've written a bonus (secret!) short story that I'll send as a thank-you to anyone who reviews SEASON FOR DESIRE on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Details here.

As you can guess, there's a lot to juggle this time of year, even without considering flaming torches and glowing hoops. If you want tips on that, the guy in the video's probably the one to ask. But if you want a book? That I can help you out with. I'll give two randomly-chosen commenters one of my books. Open internationally; winners can choose print, Kindle, or NOOK editions. To enter, just let me know: which book would you like? SOASH isn't available yet, but you can pick from any of the rest: I'll choose winners tomorrow (10-16) at noon ET.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading (and juggling)!

Find me on: 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy not Included) Launch

Welcome to the sleepy little town of Burnt Boot, Texas!
Located right on the Red River, it only has a church, a bar and a general store, and three schools so one would think it was a quiet little town where the neighbors take care of each other, right?
'Tis the season for...
All he wants for Christmas is peace and quiet... After two tours in Afghanistan, retired Army sniper Finn O'Donnell believes his new ranch outside the sleepy little town of Burnt Boot, Texas, is the perfect place for an undisturbed holiday season. But before he can settle in, an old friend shows up looking for protection and a place where nobody knows her name.
But that's going to take a miracle... Callie Brewster must relocate to protect her young nephew, Martin, and the only person she trusts is her old Army friend, Finn. Burnt Boot seems like the perfect place to be anonymous, but it turns out a small town with big drama is no place to hide...
It's only for a month and Callie hates the ranching business so the

one thing that Callie does not want for Christmas is a pair of cowboy boots, not for her nephew, Martin, and for absolute sure, not for herself. But a few weeks with Finn O'Donnell could change things...
True to Carolyn Brown the story in COWBOY BOOTS FOR CHRISTMAS is deceptively simple after all it is a Christmas story and of course has to have some very basic holiday elements. But COWBOY BOOTS FOR CHRISTMAS is filled with allegories. The boots represent something very basic, necessary and desperately coveted. Each character in this amazing story is looking for their own. But what is so very lovely is that although the boots would make a least one of their dreams come true they would be passed over for what is really important. In the spirit of the season -- giving is truly more important than receiving -- and that message is loud and clear in Carolyn Brown's contribution to this year's Christmas stories. (Sandra Wurman at Fresh Fiction)
One word for COWBOY BOOTS FOR CHRISTMAS (Cowboy Not Included) by Carolyn Brown, INSPIRING... Ok I have more words actually. As in every single one of Miz Brown's books, I come away with sheer elation. happiness and satisfaction. Finn, Callie, Verdie and the rest of the Burnt Boot residents each have their own little quirks, faults and reasons to fall in love with them. Carolyn Brown expertly weaves her tale of the budding romance swiftly growing in the midst of an insane family feud. Trust me, it all fits! I love how I felt like I was part of the insanity and ,in fact, quite happy to be there. I most favorably recommend COWBOY BOOTS FOR CHRISTMAS (Cowboy Not Included) by Carolyn Brown and I hope you love it as much as I have. (Kimberly Rocha, Book Obsessed Chicks)
I've read several of Brown's books in the past and enjoyed this one enormously. I'm still not sure if I cried or laughed the most while reading what has to be Carolyn Brown's crown jewel in her magnificent selection of cowboy romance books. (Lisa Richards)

I seriously adore Carolyn Brown! She writes the most creative and fun stories.. about Cowboys no less. Cowboy Boots for Christmas had me giggling and sighing all the way through!! It's book one for her new series.. Burnt Boot (that's not just the name of the series, it's the name of the town it's set in)...Bodice Rippers
No, I'm not 70 years old...but I do think this deserves a drum roll and maybe a parade down the Main Street of my own sleepy little town...
Cowboy Boots for Christmas (Cowboy not Included)
is my 70th published book.
Finn and Callie are so excited that they are the hero and heroine of this milestone! Joe (the parrot) thinks maybe we should have lots of donuts to celebrate the day, but Callie thinks a couple of signed copies of the book and some swag might work better.

So even though Joe is pouting, Callie and I have won the argument. Tell me about your favorite all-time holiday book and your name will go into the red boot. I will draw out the winners tomorrow morning.