Friday, April 24, 2015

Beadaholic: I Know I Have a Problem

I love beads. Shiny, wooden, expensive, cheap. Take me to a bead store—the overhead lights bouncing off rows and rows of colors and hues, blinding me with their brilliance—and I’m in heaven. Do not get me started on gem and mineral shows, because I will have a beadgasm right now.

When I first started beading, my blingtastic friends warned how the beads would take up all of my disposable income. I laughed. But their warnings were true. Beads take up time, money, and lots of space—odd, considering how small they are.
Here’s where those bead merchants gettcha. Say you want buy a blue bead. Do you want Czech glass, Swarovski, acrylic, or gemstone?
For purposes of this little exercise, let’s say you want Swarovski. Once you pick your shade—you can’t go wrong with blue zircon—you need to decide on which coating you’ll want.


 2X AB? 

Ha! I tricked you. A bling whore would never choose. She’d get all three, of course.
Next we need to pick a shape. Bicone, round, flat back, rivoli, rondelle? And size? 3mm, 4, 6, 10? You’ll need them all. Eventually. Because you won’t be able to sleep at night thinking about that 8mm shiny blue bead you decided not to buy. You think I’m kidding?
Do you see the lure here? It’s a never-ending cornucopia of choices.   
And I love it. My husband—not so much. He simply doesn’t understand why I need another blue bead when I have so many. I’ve given up trying to explain it. I think you either have the bling gene or you don’t.
I made this little bracelet a few weeks ago, using glass, Swarovski, Malay Jade, and sodalite. I’ve been playing with asymmetrical stringing.
It’s up for grabs. Leave a comment below to enter. (Continental U.S. only.) I’ll announce the winner on Sunday, April 26th.  Good luck!

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I was looking at data yesterday, and I came across this interesting info from the RWA Romance Reader survey. The top ten tropes that readers love are:
(1) friends to lovers;
(2) soul mate/fate;
(3) second chance at love;
(4) secret romance;
(5) first love;
(6) strong hero/heroine;
(7) reunited lovers;
(8) love triangle;
(9) sexy billionaire/millionaire;
(10) sassy heroine

We also know that some demographics go with this, for example, mature readers like the “second chance at love” trope, while younger readers prefer “first love.” (This seems natural and obvious, doesn’t it?)

So, it occurred to me that, in a subgenre that attracts a particular demographic (for example, romantic suspense and historical tend toward the more mature readership), we could stick with the tropes that this demographic favors OR, we could consciously focus on the tropes that the other demo looks for, thereby cultivating that readership. Either way, we (author and publisher) probably could be conscious about it. I’ll be experimenting with this; I’ll let you know what I discover!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Marie and The Very Bad Interview

I wrote this blog two years ago, but it's so relevant to what I'm doing now that I wanted to share it again. It has to do with research, and since I'm currently researching the heck out of my current characters for my next Sourcebooks series, I wanted to share the laugh. (And for the record, there is A LOT to know about the worlds of automechanics and nurses.) Note: I wrote this post while doing research for How to Handle a Heartbreaker.

I thought I’d talk about research today. I write steamy romance, and one of the most common questions I get from people is how I do my research. My usual instinct is to answer with something sarcastic, like, “Why, I just had a foursome the other day. I can honestly admit  that you can fit many things in places you never thought you could.” Or, “Why yes. I did just enjoy sex with a werewolf in the backseat of my Benz while a vampire watched.”
I mean, really. I’ve had sex. Yes. There. I admit it. I’ve also read a lot and seen sexy movies. I know how things fit together, and it’s not that difficult to write scenes of intimacy in my stories. However, for the more technical aspects of my characters—and I’m not talking breast size—as in, their professions or the cities in which my characters live, I do research.
I wrote about shapeshifters in Cape May, New Jersey—a place I’ve been visiting since I was a kid. My stories have been set in Augusta, GA, Bend, OR, and Seattle, WA, all places where I’ve lived and/or spent time. My Cougar Falls stories set in Montana have grossed hours upon hours of research into the state. At some point I’ll take a trip out there to see Glacier National Park, but until then, I’ve made do with books and the Internet.
In the course of my latest contemporary romance novels, my characters are real people. No psychics or shapeshifters, no monsters, aliens, or fetish enthusiasts. In the first book [The Troublemaker Next Door], an interior designer meets a sexy plumber. And in the book I’m working on now, the plumber’s business partner—also a plumber—falls for a romance writer. (Yes, her job is cliché, but work with me here.) I understand her easily. The plumber I needed more information on.
And now to the funny story…
A great guy referred by my mother worked on my house. The guy owns a landscaping and construction company. Therefore I felt safe asking him for a plumber to get some reference material from. Now the friend knows I write romance, so I figured he’d tell the plumber this. I got a phone number and called said plumber. I wanted to do the interview in person, but this guy wasn’t having it. From what I gathered, he was an older fellow. When he mentioned he was a busy man and would rather do the interview over the phone, because he worked for a living and didn’t “do computers,” I should have taken the hint and run.
Did I? No. I mean, the guy had agreed to answer my questions, so he couldn’t be too against helping me, right?
Uh, no. Not exactly. Not at all.
I called him last Sunday. The “interview” lasted all of three long, painful minutes. It was laughably horrible.
I rang him and cringed when he barked a hello. I reintroduced myself, and he then asked why I needed the information. When I told the older gentleman, who’d been in the plumbing biz for forty years, that I write romance, there was dead silence on the other end. Not to be discouraged, I was my normal cheerful, thankful self and asked my questions. What is common language for what plumbers do? What are the tools they use most? What types of jobs are more common than others? What are some common misconceptions about what he does?
For each question, I received short answers that didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. He wasn’t pleasant—at all—just curt and acting as if he wanted to be anywhere but talking to me on the phone. So after yet another of his one word answers, I again thanked him for speaking to me and told him I had finished. He hung up without another word.
Immediately, several thoughts went through my mind. None of them even remotely polite. That &^%^$$#$@!! What the @!#$!!!!??
But after I settled down, I shared the awful mess with a few friends, laughed at the absurdness of it all, and through another friend, contacted a nicer, younger professional who was more than willing to sit down for coffee and explain the ins and outs of plumbing.Does old equal grumpy? Not at all, but the new guy was a lot more open to romance books and computers in general. LOL
This whole experience has taught me something. Not everyone is happy to share what they do. Of course, I had thought that since the guy had agreed to let me ask questions, the interview would proceed without issue. But I was wrong. However, even terrible events make great stories. I know I’m going to work Mr. Mean in some story of mine in the future. I have to. He was just too awful not to write about.
And hey, he even gave me this blog post. I should thank him. But I won’t.


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Series is Different

 Right now, I’m working away on a five-book series about the brothers of the hero of The Bargain. Five duke’s sons who certainly deserve their own love stories. Nathaniel, Viscount Hightower, the responsible eldest. Sebastian, the dashing cavalry major. Randolph, the ambitious churchman. Robert, the suave town beau. James, the naval officer, back from sailing the South Seas. I’m finding, though, that writing a series is different from crafting a stand-alone story in many ways.

            Keeping track of all the details, for example. When books are connected, I have to make sure I know who said what, when. With The Bargain already out there, setting the scene, I have to make sure I follow through on what it promised. And keep the names and dates straight. And watch for spoilers. I’m up to my ears in charts for the six brothers and their respective love interests, not to mention other family members who enter and exit the plots. Where did I say Sebastian was when Nathaniel went to Brighton? When Robert and James meet up in London, what’s the season? I don’t want to find that I set a scene in July in one book and August in another!
            Of course, there are great advantages to series writing as well. I have a cast of established characters for each book. No need to develop a whole new set, with all their quirks and history. And some events suggested by the first book have been great fun to expand. I also get to revisit couples from previous HEAs and tell everyone how they’re going. Probably my favorite, I can drop hints about what’s going on with absent brothers, which will later be told at length in their books. I’ve been enjoying that!
All in all, I think I like the world of series writing. What’s your favorite thing about series?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Heroes: Early Inspirations

Some women love military men. Others go for the sports heroes. I've always been partial to poets and musicians. My first crushes were on pop stars. David Cassidy, Simon Le Bon.

Later on, I fell for dead poets. Shelley, Byron. Apparently, I took the idea of unrequited love a little too far.

But when I think of the men who have inspired me most romantically, I think of men who appreciate beauty and sadness, love, and art. Brooders. It's no surprise that I still have trouble creating really strong alpha heroes. Alpha men just aren't my thing. But lots of romance readers love a good Alpha hero, so I keep trying my best.

In Thornbrook Park, I introduced the Thorne brothers, Gabriel and Marcus. Marcus, the younger brother, was a poet in the body of a prizefighter. He took on physical challenges to impress his father and brother, but he always preferred settling down with a good book. I tried to make him into a strong Alpha male, but readers, and Eve Kendal, saw him for the Beta he is.

I never give up. Gabriel, the older brother, has his own book coming soon, and he will try to impress you with his Alpha swagger. He hunts. He fishes. He fights. He's big and strong, and rich enough so that he's never had to answer to anyone. What could possibly go wrong for a man like that? You'll find out in Gabriel's story, The Great Estate, coming in August 2015.

Available for preorder:
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Who are your romantic inspirations? Favorite heroes?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Extra(s), Extra(s) at RT!

There are some events I'm taking part in at RT that aren't on the regular agenda I wanted to tell you about.

The first "extra" event is the SOS Military Tribute Event on Thursday, May 14th, 8:30 - 9:45 AM! Tickets are free, but you NEED to have a ticket to get in to the event. :)

As many bases as I lived on.. None of them looked like this... I this this should be a requirement lol

Readers will "deploy" to a military location (themed table) hosted by authors connected to the military. Your mission includes tasting MREs, navigating the coin challenge, and singing the services' songs - The Army Goes Rolling Along", "Wild Blue Yonder", "Anchors Aweigh", "The Halls of Montezuma", and "Semper Paratus".

My table will be 5th Special Forces to give some love to the unit where the heroes from my X-OPS Series come from. I'll have some fun stuff there, along with a couple giveaways, so I hope you'll stop by! :)

To get your tickets, click on the link below!


The other "extra" event I'm taking part is the RT Roundup on Sunday from 10am - 5pm. It's a Meet & Greet/Book Signing featuring over 80 authors. It's an exciting event that adds to the final day of the 32nd RT Booklovers Convention.

Contemporary Authors of all genres will be signing at their tables with outrageous swag. Historical Romance Authors appearing in full costume and serving tea and cookies. 15+ Cover Models are attending to take photos and meet readers. Some will have swag and books to sign.

You can get all the info here!

I'll also be doing a panel, hosting a party, and announcing a special project! I'll be posting my complete RT schedule on my blog and on FB, so you'll know where to find me! :)

See you there!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Giveaway: Winner of Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales

Renee G. has won the giveaway of Pamela Sherwood's short story collection, Awakened and Other Enchanted Tales. Please contact me at with your mailing address so I can send you your book! (I've tried emailing you at the address listed in your profile, but my messages keep getting returned as undeliverable). Thank you for participating, and I hope to hear from you soon!


Tell Me a Story by Shana Galen

I’m in the car a lot. Like A LOT. Driving my daughter to school and to activities takes a big portion of my day. Added to that, I run most mornings. Recently I got a subscription to Audible, and I love it. Love. It.

I can’t read while I’m running or driving, but I can listen to books. I’ve been able to read/listen to so many more books since I got my subscription than I would have without it.

That said, I do not listen to my own books on audio. It’s too weird to hear your own words in your ear. I want to revise what I hear or I want to tell the narrator to say it in a different way. I have a few narrators I really love. For contemporary, I like Julia Whelan, Sandra Burr, and Susan Eriksen. For historical, you can’t beat Rosalyn Landor.

I was thrilled when I found out this week the third book in my Jewels of the Ton series is in production to be made into an audio book. When You Give a Duke a Diamond and If You Give a Rake a Ruby are already available. I wish all my books would be in audio book. I imagine in the future, all books will be.

What about you? Do you listen to audio books?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Romance With Sheep + a Give Away

There are two unrelated facts about me that I should mention before I continue . The first fact: I have been writing Regency romance for a few years now. Second fact: I am endlessly amused by the sheep I pass on various farms as I drive to work each day.

In spite of the amusement and joy I find in watching young lambs leap while their older, steadier parents mow away at the grass, I have yet to work sheep into a novel.

Most of my books take place in London, though my characters always seem to find their way to the country eventually. Once each novel reaches the bucolic splendor of England's countryside, I still don't work sheep into the story line.

I think I need to remedy that.

I am reminded of the movie version of Jane Austen's novel PERSUASION from 1995 when the opening scene shows the beautiful grounds of the Elliott estate, with live sheep eating in the foreground. I mention PERSUASION often on this blog and elsewhere because it is one of Jane Austen's most hopeful books, where true love gets a second chance. But the sheep in the opening sequence of this particular version make me love the movie even more.

But, no doubt by now you ask yourself, why the fascination with sheep?

I just think they're funny.

Now that I am writing not only about Regency England, but about hot Scots who are invading London, looking for an unsuspecting man (preferably a titled man) to marry their wild sister Mary Elizabeth, I still have not worked sheep into the fabric of my tale.

Before you make snide connections between kilt wearing Highlanders and their sheep, please note that my characters do not have love affairs with any of these woolly critters. The gentlemen in my new series THE TERROR OF THE TON would look at a flock of sheep and see only a source of income and perhaps a tasty meal. I see a group of outdoor pets born to make me laugh. Did I also mention that though I live in the country now, I am a city girl at heart?

Now that I am writing Regency romantic comedy, I think I need to make use of the humor I find in these critters. Does anyone have a suggestion of how I might work a woolly lamb or two into the books I write? Perhaps my hero and heroine might meet at a cattle fair?

If by some miracle you have an idea, please leave it in a comment here. I'll choose a winner from among the comments and send a signed copy of my last novel, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK with a smile and a blessing. Sadly, JACK is a seafaring man, so there is no mention of sheep in this book either.

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. Sometimes an actor, always a storyteller, Christy works happily with Sourcebooks Casablanca to bring the knife-throwing women of her novels to life. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in North Carolina. Please join her on her adventures via TwitterFacebook or on her Blog.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It’s a Spring Miracle! w/Jade Lee

It’s a Spring Miracle!

Every once in a while a miracle happens. I write something that is perfect. It is the book to which all my other books aspire: funny, romantic, and most especially fun to write. That book is releasing on my birthday, May 5. But don’t take my word for it. Judge for yourself in this excerpt just for you!

50 Ways to Ruin a Rake by Jade Lee – Teaser Excerpt

“Hit him!” screamed the crowd. “Show ’im what for!”
The sentiment was echoed all around until Mellie actively hated them all. Not just the crowd, but the two combatants. Trevor and Ronnie, fighting like boys in the school yard. Bloody and violent, to be sure, especially since they were grown men. But no one was likely to die. Which is when Trevor stepped in a hole.
He cried out in surprise and pain. Thank God he was wearing boots, otherwise his leg might have snapped in two. As it was, he tumbled down into the mud and Ronnie clearly meant to finish the fight. But he hadn’t reckoned on Melinda. She’d been an unwilling participant in this whole disgusting display. Well, if her cousin wanted a Cheltenham tragedy, she would bloody well give him one.
She surged forward. Stop it! Ronnie, stop it now! And when he didn’t hear her, she said the words she'd never thought she’d utter in her entire life. My love!
That got his attention. Mellie!
She flung herself forward, sliding in the mud to stop right beside Trevor’s head. Ronnie reached for her, but she pushed him away as she wrapped herself around the fallen lord. My love, are you alive? Oh God, someone fetch a doctor!
Trevor's face was a battered mess, but not so unrecognizable that she didn’t see the gleam of appreciation in his eyes or the mischievous smile that pulled at his swollen lip.
Are you an angel? he asked. Have I died?
The man was lying in the mud, his ankle nearly snapped in half. His face oozed from a myriad of cuts, and yet he still had the wherewithall to give the crowd a good show. It was enough to make her contemplate dropping him in the mud.
Meanwhile, Ronnie just stood there poised, his fist still raised as he gaped. I won. This was an affaire d’honor.
Congratulations, she mocked. You beat a man half your weight.
I’m not that small, muttered Trevor.
Shut up. I’m making a point. Then she turned her attention to her cousin. You were right, Ronnie. You have made everything clear. I could never love a brute like you. I love Trevor.
Since when?

Since never. She had a thorough disgust of them both. Especially as Trevor began to speak in a quavering voice.
Oh, to finally hear those words, now in the moments before I expire. Kiss me, my love. Mayhap your love will keep me tethered to this mortal coil.
I will not, she said between clenched teeth.
He pitched his voice to a plaintive wail. Then I shall die for sure!
Damnation on all bloody, arrogant, ridiculous men! One glance about her showed that the crowd was hanging on his every word. She didn’t really care until she looked at Ronnie=s face. He wasn’t stupid. He could see that Trevor wasn’t really hurt. It wouldn’t take him long to remember that she=d never spoken of Trevor with anything but disdain. And from there it was a small step to realizing that this entire display was a sham. So she had to do something quickly. Something that he’d never forget, even if he did suspect the lie.
She kissed Trevor.
She more than kissed him. She lifted him in her arms and gave him the kind of scorching kiss that every woman dreamed she'd receive from the grandson of a duke. And he-horrible roué that he was-wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed her right back.
And he kept kissing her, with tongue and teeth and a growl of hunger so wonderful that she hated him even more. Even as she lost all thought to propriety in this very public place.

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