Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Winter Wedding Launch Party and Giveaway!!

by Amanda Forester

I am excited to announce the release of the third and final book in the Marriage Mart - A Love For All Seasons trilogy, A Winter Wedding! Penelope Rose and the Duke of Marchford have been waiting, their attraction sizzling through the first two books of the series, and now it is finally their turn to step onto center stage.

Miss Penelope Rose, the notorious Madame X, exclusive matchmaker to London's elite, has made a modest fortune creating love matches for everyone but herself. Her toughest client yet, the Duke of Marchford, has commissioned her to find him a bride, but he is more interested in tracking down a spy than in interviewing potential mates. Marchford is willing to do anything to find that spy, including announcing an impromptu engagement to force Penelope to stay close and help him catch the traitor. When Penelope refuses to play along, Marchford takes to wooing her to stay, including embracing that most perilous of holidays--Christmas! As Penelope and Marchford work together to uncover a deadly plot, they find falling in love is the most dangerous adventure of all.

I am thrilled that Winter Wedding has received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly. Now all three of the books in the trilogy have received Starred Reviews!!

"Forester's third wedding-themed Regency-era novel (after A Midsummer Bride) is pure ambrosia. James Lockton, the Duke of Marchford and an accomplished spy, dreads the prospect of contending with giggling maids and conniving mothers in the upcoming debutante season. He would rather settle for a sensible marriage to his grandmother’s companion, Miss Penelope Rose, and get it all over with as quickly as possible. Despite her unsettling attraction to Marchford, Pen declines his proposal, yearning for a marriage born of love rather than convenience. As it happens, she and the duke’s grandmother operate a secret matchmaker service, and she unenthusiastically agrees to help Marchford find a bride. Alongside the duo’s tender game of cat-and-mouse there are delicious distractions such as murder, international intrigue, and, of course, Christmas—a holiday whose customs Marchford ham-handedly adopts in order to woo the strong-willed and adorable Pen. Readers will delight in one of Forester’s happiest offerings to date."

I hope you will enjoy reading more about Penelope and Marchford, in A Winter Wedding now available. To get you started in the series, the first book in the trilogy, Wedding in Springtime is being offered FREE for a limited time, and Midsummer Bride is currently only $1.99. I love to hear from readers so come visit me at my website, facebook, or twitter.

What do you think of matchmakers? Have you ever used a modern day version such as an online dating website? Why or why not? Comment for a chance at winning a copy of A Winter Wedding!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jade's New Life Challenges

Jade's New Life Challenges


Hello everyone! Guess what? 

A. Jade has won the lottery and made a zillion dollars!
B. Jade has had a summer melt down that involved bourbon and strippers, and is now writing from jail.
+


C. Had a baby!
D. Has developed a medical condition that makes her insane.

Answer: D.  I suppose C and D could be true and I really wish A was true, but sadly, no. What happened? I've been diagnosed with a hyper-active thyroid.

Now before you start thinking "poor Jade," let me express that this condition is fully treatable, is genetic (my mom and aunts all have it as well as my sisters), and will really not cause more than a minor adjustment in my life once we get things under control.

Now you get to guess what my reaction was when we finally got the diagnosis.

A. OMG I'm going to DIE!
B. OMG I can't tell anyone! I've been bragging about how healthy I am. No one can know!
C. OMG, it's so damned hot in here! Did someone change the thermostat? I'm sweating to death!
D. So is that why I'm so distractible? Just this morning, while I was starting laundry, making breakfast, answering emails, and cleaning up the family room while making a list on eight different sheets of paper, I...oh look. I think it's time to paint the living room. I'll do that later this afternoon.
E. Squirrel!

Answer: All of the above.


I have alternately sulked, whined, and stomped around the house after this diagnosis. It's a childish reaction. Yes, I know that! But it still didn't prevent me from throwing myself many hyperactive pity parties. What's that you ask? Well, it's normal sulking that gets interrupted by a thousand other thoughts and so (A) never really gets going and (B) never really ends either.

In short, I suddenly have massive ADD. I can't sit still, I can't complete a normal conversation because my mind won't stay still for long (and it's not like I had a quiet mind to begin with), and I can't write coherent sentences. Don't even mention full paragraphs or more.

So what's the plan?

A. I plan to sulk right after I finish any one of the hundreds of half started projects about the house.
B. There are drug therapies and the like which will be started probably by the time your read this blog. But in the meantime, would you like to try this burned brownie I made while making pot holders and nailing together this artistic wood statue of random boards?
C. Coffee. Espresso. Ridilin? For the first time ever, I understand why speed seems to help ADD patients. Caffeine seems to settle my thyroid down (because something else is revving me up, so it doesn't have to). The only reason I can write this blog is because I'm on my second pot of coffee (after a latte).

D. Plan? Plan? I've got a million of them. WTF do you want from me?

Answer: All of the above. But have no fear, I'm learning how to manage my life. (I'm so glad there's a cafe within a mile of my house. I'm giving them lots of business!) And on the upside, I've lost seven pounds so far. And I have no trouble getting out of bed in the morning. It's the sleeping part that isn't happening.


In short, I'm doing good. I'm spazzy to the extreme, but that's okay. It gives me good insight into my hyperactive characters. Of which I will probably write a few. Actually, I've already written one in WEDDED IN SIN by Jade Lee. Samuel just can't stop thinking, thinking, thinking...until he meets Penny, of course. Then lots of cool things happen as he settles into a new norm. I'd give tantalizing examples, but I've been sitting down for almost five minutes. My thighs have begun to twitch. 
So buy the book and find out exactly what amazingly fun things happen while I go dig a garden or run a marathon or something...

Don't forge to visit my website: www.jadeleeauthor.com 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Historical Romance Writer Confessions: What It's REALLY Like to Write with a Quill Pen

In many historical romances, there's a point at which characters write. We all know the drill: ink, paper, quill, sand. The process of writing usually isn't as significant as what's written.

But what if it were? Based on my experience using a metal calligraphy pen (since I'm left-handed, it went about this well), I wrote the following passage in my first Matchmaker romance, IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE. In this scene, the hero, Henry, is attempting to write left-handed after an injury to his right arm.
He sat at the desk, and with his left hand, he wrenched open the inkwell. Ink spattered onto the painted wood of the desk and speckled his hand.
“Damn it,” he muttered. This blunder slightly damped the pleasure of answering Caro’s letter. Ink was the devil to clean up.
He dipped a quill that felt shaped wrongly against the curve of his hand. His unpracticed fingers shivered once the pen took on its load of ink, and black blobbed onto the page.
No matter. He was just writing a short note; he could cut off the damaged section of the paper. But his fingers slipped, dropping more spatters of ink, and filling the D he’d tried to write—just Dear, that was all—in a misshapen circle. And he’d gotten ink on his shirtsleeve too.
He glared at the paper for a moment, as if the force of his gaze would move the particles of ink where they ought to belong. But the few letters he’d scrawled stayed stubbornly malformed, impossibly childish. Illegible, really. And his sleeve was still ruined.
He scratched away determinedly for half an hour, shaping letters until he had managed to write “Dear Caro” in handwriting at least as good as that of a five-year-old child. It took seven full sheets of writing paper, and his cuffs were completely ruined.
Of course, they were really Jem’s cuffs, as he had borrowed this shirt from his brother.
The thought cheered him at once.
Writing left-handed with a quill pen--basically a sharpened feather--is even more challenging than writing with a modern metal calligraphy pen. Or so I figured, though I didn't have the chance to test it.

Until now. Because a friend of mine (you know who you are) gave me a quill pen and ink set. I knew I was in trouble right away, because I had to mix the ink myself from a powder and hot water. This is much simpler than the way ink was made 200 years ago, but even so, I got it EVERYWHERE. This picture shows the end result, after much cleanup. Not too bad. The color was nice and dark.


The came the challenging part: actually writing with the quill. I seemed always to have too much ink or not enough, since the quill is basically just a tube. The more ink it takes up, the more it's going to drop in a blob as soon as you touch it to paper. And yes, it needs to be dipped again every two or three letters--or at least it did the way I was writing. 


Rough as this heading looks, it's not too bad compared to what happened when I tried to write in a regular line. There followed a phenomenon familiar to all left-handers, known by the scientific name of "dragging your hand through everything you just wrote." My deepest apologies to Jane Austen for the mess I made of one of her immortal lines.

By this point, the quill's nib was already starting to split. This is when a Regency hero or heroine would have taken up a pen-knife and whittled it back into shape. Since I don't have a pen-knife, I did just what you'd expect. I tried to draw a self-portrait. 

Honestly, this is about as well as I could do with any writing implement. We have here a recognizable picture of a human with crazy hair, which is all I could ask for in a self-portrait.

So, what did I learn? I think I gave Henry an accurately difficult time using a quill with his off hand. And also, if any of you want to borrow a pen and ink set, I can hook you up. The quill is nearly torn up, but there's still enough ink powder to go EVERYWHERE.

Ever tried a bygone way of doing something--writing, maybe, or cooking, or dressing? What did you think? How did it go for you? (If you got ink powder everywhere, please do tell so I don't feel like I'm the only one.) 

*     *     *

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book. 
Twitter: @TheresaRomain

Thursday, August 28, 2014

IT’S THURSDAY, DO YOU KNOW WHO YOUR READER IS?

Just came out of Sales Conference, a full two days of talking about our books, our authors, our PR/marketing plans, our cover designs and looking at lots of data

As I think about the data, it reminds me of  conversations I’ve had lately with authors, both Sourcebooks' authors and many others I meet at conferences, along the lines of “you are not your reader.”

Now, it’s probably obvious that authors are also voracious readers. But authors are not necessarily the demographic of their readership.


So here’s a quiz, and as I look at your posts and answers (feel free to pose questions too) today, I’m going to share some of the data I have about who the romance reader is, and what I know about her (yes, she’s predominantly a “she”).

PLEASE ALSO POSE QUESTIONS—I THINK THIS IS A REALLY USEFUL CONVERSATION FOR AUTHORS TO HAVE, AND QUESTIONS ARE AS IMPORTANT AS ANSWERS SOMETIMES.

1  (Yes or NO) Do you think you and your core readership match in:
a        Age within 10 years? YES or NO
b       Household income within $5K? YES or NO
c        National Region? (South, Midwest, Northeast, Southwest, Northwest) YES or NO
d       Regional type? (Urban, Suburban, Rural) YES or NO
e       Education level? (Nongraduate, High school graduate, College graduate, Advanced degree) YES or NO

2   Have you ever asked your readers for their demographic information?



3  (Multiple choice—one answer only—your main answer to this question) Would you say you are writing:
a      the books you want to read?
b     Books you believe the majority of romance readers want to read?
c     The books you want to write (the book of your heart)?
d     I’ve never thought about it this way                                                                                                           
        I don’t know

4 What is the median age of the romance reader?

5 What is the household income of the majority of romance readers?

6 What is the education level of the majority of romance readers?

7 In what region does the highest percentage of romance readers live?

8 In what region does the second highest percentage of romance readers live?

9 Where do the majority of romance readers buy their books?

1 Where do the majority of romance readers discover new authors?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WHO NEEDS A HERO?


Part of the fun in writing romances is in creating a multitude of different heroes. I mean, seriously, I get to spend my days staring out the window, trying to work out what makes these sexy men tick. It doesn't hurt to seek some inspiration from Pinterest either...


Now this is what I call work...

Whether they are Alpha or Beta, delving into the depths of these men is fascinating - especially working out why they are the way they are. I love the fact that each hero I write is so completely different to the others... and I enjoy hearing from readers who fall in love with that one special hero in the series and why.

But then I started thinking, maybe I could give those readers a helping hand when it comes to working out who their perfect match is in the London Steampunk series. So I decided to create a fun little quiz.

Who's your perfect hero? Is it Blade, the seductive Devil of Whitechapel? Or Sir Jasper Lynch, with that cool, rational intellect that protects a heart just waiting for the right woman? What about Will Carver, a man who hides a wounded soul beneath his gruff exterior?

And although readers haven't yet met him - there's also Garrett, the charming, rakish hero of my soon-to-be-released, Forged By Desire. He thinks he knows women through-and-through - he just hasn't  realised that the one woman he's been waiting for is right under his nose...

So want to find out who your perfect match would be?

Check out my blog for this fun quiz - and a chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card, or a signed copy of Kiss of Steel and Heart of Iron (shipped internationally). Make sure you comment at my blog in order to enter!

Enjoy!

FORGED BY DESIRE BY BEC MCMASTER – IN STORES SEPTEMBER 2014

You're my breath when I feel like I can't catch my own."

Captain Garrett Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner, Perry, in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap.

Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship—especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped...






Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Aspiring Author

Have you ever met someone who said they were an "aspiring author"? Well, duh, who hasn't? It's a pretty common dream to have, after all. Books are awesome, and everyone thinks it would be incredibly cool to write one of their own. But not many people actually achieve that dream, do they?

Before I was published, when all I did was glom every available book all day long, writing a book seemed like an impossible task. It was Mount Everest, and I was a pudgy teenager with acne and zero clue how to strap on a pair of hiking boots. I appreciated the effort of every person who scaled that peak, after all, they brought stories back with them. It was something I didn't think would ever be possible, so I didn't even aspire to do it then. 
By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I skipped the aspiring part and just started writing for fun. For my own entertainment. It turned into a novel. So I started mentally calling myself an aspiring author when I realized that the mountain wasn't as unreachable as I'd presumed. But I was wrong. I wasn't an aspiring author, at that point I had become an author. I'd written the book. I didn't just want to be someone who had written a book, I had actually become that person. I aspired to be a published author, sure, but even though all I had was an unedited manuscript without a decent plot, I was an author. 

Of course, I wasn't a good author. I had a lot to learn. That first mountain peak of finishing something wasn't the end. Actually, in retrospect, that was just a decent-sized foothill. A writing career is a mountain range full of tremendous peaks and perilous valleys. Writing a book is one thing, but making it good? Crafting a compelling plot? Navigating the pitfalls of the industry, from agents to publishing houses to the jungle of Amazon? That's a swath of earth that isn't for the faint of heart. 

But if you've written "the end" on a creation of your own, be proud of that accomplishment. Those people that you talk with about the book they "someday" want to write, THOSE are the aspiring authors. But you? You're just an author. And you should be very, very proud of that. Stand tall on the mountain peak of your first accomplishment, and don't be afraid to forge ahead. There are stories that only you can write. Claim your authorship, and I'll see you in the frosty peaks!




Gina Lamm is the author of THE GEEK GIRL AND THE SCANDALOUS EARL and GEEK GIRLS DON'T DATE DUKES. She also writes erotic romance as Regina Cole. For time travel Regency fun, and the spiciest of erotic encounters, check out her links below!

Regina's  Twitterz, and the Facebook

Gina's Twitter
 
Gina's Facebook
 
Gina's Pinterest
 

Gina's Goodreads
  




Monday, August 25, 2014

A Close Encounter of the Pinniped Kind

You can find many things in Pismo Beach: breathtaking ocean views, brisk winds and bracing, salty air, cliffs ablaze with flowering shrubs, and gorgeous sunsets.


You can also find all kinds of engaging fauna, of both the domesticated and wild variety. Pismo is doggie heaven, without question, and at any given time you can find dogs running ecstatically along the beach, sniffing eagerly over every inch of the pier and boardwalk, or being fed and watered outside the most popular local eateries. Like this Golden Retriever, whom I first spotted licking out the remains of a bowl of clam chowder that its owner was holding.  A little unhygienic, perhaps, but who could resist this face?




Cats are harder to spot, but the hotel we stayed at used to have a colony of semi-feral cats who lived in the bushes lining the clifftops and who emerged every morning to be fed on the outside deck of the hotel restaurant. And one of the used bookstores boasts a sweet-natured Maine coon cat who strolls out to meet the customers and puts up with endless amounts of petting. Even from small children who descend upon her with enthusiastic shrieks of "Kitty!"

On the wild side, you have an abundance of waterfowl to study--sassy, well-fed white seagulls, tiny grey sandpipers, and elegant, solitary wading birds. One summer I saw a cormorant pacing majestically up the beach, opening and closing its impressive wings to dry in the sun (they lack the oils that give other seabirds their natural buoyancy).  And brown pelicans are plentiful, perching on the rails of the pier, drinking from the faucets set up for washing the day's catch, and so accustomed to people that they don't twitch a single feather when tourists pause to snap pictures of them.

And then there are sea lions, native to California, who can sometimes be spotted (or heard) swimming around the pier, or occasionally seen sunning themselves on rocks--or life rafts--a safe distance from shore. I certainly didn't expect to view one much closer than that . . . until the afternoon I walked on the beach with my sister and saw this.

I broke into a run, unable to believe my eyes at first.  But there it was, sitting right on the sand in front of us, in the midst of a fascinated circle of spectators snapping away with their cell phone cameras! For a crazy moment or two, I thought about selkies--those mythical seal people who come ashore to breed with humans--but our visitor showed no inclination to doff his or her skin, so that clearly wasn't the reason it was on the beach. The sea lion showed no aggression, no barking or growling, though it swung its head around to stare at all the people taking its picture and flopped about on the sand, blinking its big dark eyes at us.


Delight soon gave way to concern because the sea lion seemed disoriented and, worse, prone to severe tremors. The crowd agreed that this situation was not normal and our guest was definitely unwell. The lifeguards were contacted, and they, in turn, called Marine Mammal Rescue who came out in their truck to oversee the matter. The culprit, apparently, was domoic acid that caused seizures in sea lions after they ate fish that had consumed the phytoplankton that had fed on the algae that produced the acid. In other words, major damage all the way up the food chain.  There had been nine cases of this kind of poisoning the previous weekend. Fortunately, the condition was treatable, and our sea lion was put in a crate and loaded into the truck, to be taken to a local animal clinic. After its recovery, it would be released back into the wild, which relieved us all because sea lions deserve happy endings too. Feel better soon, little guy (or gal)!



Did you ever have a close encounter with a wild animal? And how did it turn out?