Monday, June 30, 2008

My Hunka Burnin' Love

By: Christina Harlin

On June 27, 2008, my husband and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary and the 19th anniversary of our first date. Today’s blog is in tribute to him because he’s my big sweetie. I met Bruce in 1989. We both worked in our college textbook department. We were assigned together on an inventory project and we clicked immediately. I was a sucker for those dark bedroom eyes. I was so interested in talking to this funny, cute guy that I made several mistakes while working and it took us twice as long to complete the project as it should have. Duly noted: crushes are bad for the workplace. Real-life romance isn’t the same as it is in the idealized world of romance novels. In some ways it’s a lot simpler (for example, it seldom occurs in the middle of a murder mystery or a heist) but in other ways it’s a lot more complex, because none of us have the beneficial guiding hand of a narrator.

I must have been sending out some powerful ice-queen vibes because Bruce, who later confessed that he really wanted to ask me out, refrained from doing so for fear of rejection. Here is a short dramatization of poor Bruce trying to crack through my cold exterior:

Christina: I see that Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is playing at the theater.

Bruce: Yes, it is.

Christina: Have you seen it yet?

Bruce: No, I haven’t.

Christina: I haven’t, either. I love Indiana Jones movies.

Bruce: Oh, really?

Christina: I am really looking forward to seeing it.

Bruce: Yeah.

Christina: But I’d like for someone to go see it with me.

Bruce: Oh.

Christina: So I don’t have to go alone.

Bruce: Hmm.

Christina: I’d hate to go see it alone. My roommate doesn’t really like adventure movies.

Bruce: Oh, really?

Christina: So . . . I wonder if I’ll go see it, sometime soon.

Bruce: Yeah.

Christina: If someone would go with me.

Bruce: Hmm.

Christina: Is my bludgeoning you over the head with this mallet painful? Should I bludgeon harder?

Men. Though I have paraphrased a bit, that mini-play was an actual conversation that we had. I had never so blatantly and obviously pummeled someone with hints in my life. When I told him about this conversation from my perspective, much later, he admitted that he never picked up on the fact that I was inviting him to ask me out. But we can’t hold Bruce entirely to blame for this. The logical next line for Christina, rather than mallet-bashing (which I admit is the one fictional construct in the mini-play) would have been, “For crying out loud, let’s just go see the movie together.” At the age of twenty, I guess I just wasn’t that practical. Luckily, Bruce and I somehow surmounted our communication barrier, and got around to someone asking someone out. Obviously I don't remember how we managed it because it's more fun to tease Bruce about the first try.

(Little sneak preview here: Next time my turn rolls around, I’m going to let romantic-advice-columnist Eustacia take the blog again. Since her first blog, she has received several letters from romantic heroines in desperate need of her services, and I fear the consequences if these poor women don’t get some help soon.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Author Questions and a Few Answers

posted by Aunty Cindy

Recently I started a delightful email correspondence with a “newbie” fantasy writer. The daughter of one of my former employees, who wanted to ask me some questions about being “a professional writer.” I was thrilled at the chance, and some of my answers to her questions turned out to be as enlightening for me as I hope they were for her. I thought I’d share a few and see if they give you any insight into your own and other writers’ processes.

1)What is the process you use to complete a story?

I'm a very linear writer. I start on page one of Chapter one and I write through to The End. SHEESH! I really hate to think of myself as that inflexible, but when it comes to my first draft, I am. I envy writers who can sit down and write whatever scene occurs to them and then go back and tie them all together (Diana Gabaldon says she does this). Unfortunately, I don't think I'll ever be one of them.

Once I start revising, it's that "whole 'nother story!" I can skip around all over the place, and sometimes I have to. If I change something, like a location or an article, in one chapter then I have to go through and make sure it's consistent every place. I also save hard copies of my critique partners' comments, and I have no problem picking up any of those, going to whatever chapter and reworking based on their suggestions.

2)Do you write every day?

Usually, however, I can't write when I'm on a vacation. Lord knows, I've tried! My CP actually loaned me her Alpha Smart TWICE (both times I was on a cruise) and I never did use the dang thing. I have done revising, critiquing, and contest judging while on vacation. This truly must use another part of the brain, more analytical than creative. As long as I can find a few quiet moments (and they don't even have to be all that quiet) I can read and/or revise.

After the two Alpha Smart episodes, I've pretty much given up on trying to write first draft while traveling. But I always use the opportunity to catch up on my reading. I can't read in a moving car, but have no problem reading on a plane or in the airport.

3)Do you write by hand or type? Why?

Definitely type! My handwriting is so bad that even I can't read it sometimes. Probably the only person who might be able to decipher my chicken scratches is my goddaughter, the pharmacist. I asked her once if they had to take a class on reading doctors' handwriting in pharmacy school. She just laughed.

Plus, it is far easier to delete and cut & paste on the computer than cross out words and write between the lines and in the margins. I'm one of those writers who constantly changes things as I go along. I guess in one respect I'm always revising and rewriting. The computer is perfect for doing that.

4) Are you a character writer or plot writer?

Actually, I think one depends on the other. The plot is going to depend on how the characters act and react to the things that happen to them. And of course, the things that happen deeply influence the characters and how they view themselves and their world.

5) Why do you write?

I guess I'm one of those people who was born a writer, or at least a story teller. I loved books even before I could read them for myself! Once I did learn to read, I devoured every book I could get my hands on, and if I didn't like the way it ended, I made up my own ending. It wasn't a far stretch from there to start writing my own stories. Sharing them wasn't nearly so easy, even though I wanted to.

I've tried "not writing" and even went for several years when I wrote nothing. That was a very unhappy period of my life. Eventually, I discovered I am not a happy person unless I'm doing some kind of writing. And you know the saying, "When mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!" So as difficult and frustrating as writing can be sometimes, it still beats not writing ALL TO HECK!

So if you are a writer, how do you answer some of these questions? And if you are a reader, what other questions would you like to ask your favorite writer?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ryan Sanderson Interviews His Biographer

By: Marie Force

Hey folks,
Ryan Sanderson here, bringing you greetings from the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado, which is still celebrating the Denver Mavericks' third Super Bowl win in five years. I gotta tell you, from my perspective as the Mavs' quarterback, it's just as cool to win the third time as it was the first. They said this was a "rebuilding" year for our team. That cracks me up. We showed them! Anyhow, I digress...

Since we won the Super Bowl—again—a lot has been written about me and the team. People are interested in ALL aspects of my life, even the embarrassing romantic side of me. In fact, there's a book coming out in September called "Line of Scrimmage" that tells the story of how I supposedly "blackmailed" my wife Susie into giving me a second chance. I think "blackmail" is kind of a strong word... All I did was show up ten days before our divorce was to be finalized and tell her we were going to spend the next ten days as Mr. and Mrs. or I'd stop the divorce. Is that technically blackmail? Apparently, she thought so. Since she was already engaged to her dweeby ex-boyfriend from high school and they were getting married in a month, she wasn't too happy to see me—especially since the dweeb and his parents were over for dinner when I got there. I'll let you read the full story in "Line of Scrimmage," but I've seen an advance copy, and I have a few questions for the author, Marie Force.

Ryan: I'm curious as to why you thought our story was compelling enough to write a whole book about us.

Marie: Hi Ryan, it's good to see you again, and I'm glad you've recovered from the bashing you took in the Super Bowl.

Ryan: Yep, my handsome mug is back to normal.

Marie: There's that legendary Sanderson ego on full display! Anyway, the reason I thought your story was so compelling is you don't often read romances involving established couples with a decade worth of history under their belts. I thought it would be fun to write about a couple who had hit a few bumps—

Ryan: A few bumps? She was about to divorce me!

Marie: Okay, a lot of bumps. Potholes, in fact. It was a challenge for me as the writer of your story to tell it in a way that slowly shows how you came to be broken up in the first place.

Ryan: Yeah, we went through some rough stuff, and I didn't handle it as well as I could have.

Marie: But you learned a lot about yourself and Susannah while you were separated, right?

Ryan: I sure did. I found out that the only life I want is the one I had—with her. She's one sexy lady, and she keeps me sane.

Marie: You mean she keeps your ego from taking over your life.

Ryan: What ego?

Marie: (Snorting) Whatever. Anyway, you didn't expect her to be so over you when you got home, did you?

Ryan: How did you end up interviewing me?

Marie: Just answer the question.

Ryan: Okay, you're right, I didn't think it would be very hard to convince her to give me another shot. I mean, she's loved me since she was 18 years old. It was unimaginable to me that she didn't love me anymore, which is why I launched what you like to call the Hail Mary play of a lifetime to win her back.

Marie: I'm very proud of that phrase.

Ryan: Excellent use of football metaphor-ology.

Marie: Thank you! So you discovered that Susannah had changed while you were split up, right?

Ryan: We both grew up a lot, but we'll let people read about that in the book. Back to my list of questions for you... I want to know why you gave me uniform number 18—the same number that wuss Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts wears. Tell me you're not a Colts fan...

Marie: It has nothing to do with Peyton, and I'm NOT a Colts fan. Eighteen happens to be my lucky number. Both my kids were born on the 18th of the month, and I finished my first book on the 18th. That was why.

Ryan: Well, I guess that's kind of cool then. Why purple and yellow for the Mavericks' team colors?

Marie: Purple is my all-time favorite color and yellow seemed like a fun color to put with purple. Nothing more scientific than that behind the decision.

Ryan: Why did you pick Denver as the setting?

Marie: Great question! In November of 2006, I was sent there unexpectedly for work. This was right around the time that my muse showed up with you, and I was looking for a place to set your story. I ended up having a day to kill before my commitments, and since that was my first time in Denver, I used the time to walk all over the city. A lot of details from that day appear in the book. I also stayed at the swanky Brown Palace Hotel where a very important scene in "Line of Scrimmage" occurs.

Ryan: (Lascivious grin) I loved that scene.

Marie: (Laughing) I bet you did! It's my favorite part of the book.

Ryan: Mine, too. (Clears his throat and his dirty mind) Were you a football fan before you wrote my story?

Marie: I'm glad you asked that, because the answer is NO! I actually kind of, um, hated football.

Ryan: WHAT? How can anyone HATE football?

Marie: I know, I know, that's unimaginable to you. But remember, Susie didn't even know what a quarterback was until she met you.

Ryan: That was kind of cute. I liked that she wasn't a football groupie when I met her at the University of Florida. I managed to bring her around, though. What about you? Have you changed your mind about football?

Marie: You've converted me into a fan. I tried to re-make you into a baseball shortstop, but when you refused—

Ryan: Baseball is for wimps.

Marie: Be careful... You know how I love my Boston Red Sox... Anyway, once I realized you were a football player through and through, I forced myself to learn the game and came to appreciate it. Now I am a huge fan of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady.

Ryan: He's the man.

Marie: That's something we agree on.

Ryan: Well, thanks for giving us the behind-the-scenes story of "Line of Scrimmage." When will I see my share of the profits?

Marie: In your multi-millionaire dreams!

Ryan: (Laughing) When does it come out again?

Marie: September 1st in a bookstore near you.

Ryan: I can't wait!

Marie: Believe me, neither can I.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Channeling my inner SEAL

All the time, people want to know how autographical SEALed With a Kiss is. Especially, they ask me if Pickett, the heroine, is me. The question is inevitable from people who know me. I deliberately gave her my therapy background, and some of my characteristics. I had to. With the mountains of research I had to do for my SEAL hero, there was no way I could research a profession for her too.

Nobody asks me if Jax, the SEAL hero, is me.

Which hurts my feelings a bit.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s a stretch to see little Mary Margret hunched over her computer, still in her nightshirt at eleven AM as a totally buff, self-confident to the point of arrogance, SEAL.

But here’s the thing: he is. He is me every bit as much as Pickett is.

It’s a truism that male or female, we all have masculine and feminine traits. It was easy for me to see Pickett as myself. Jax--not so much. However, as the story developed I began to recognize many of Jax’s personality traits in myself. I was forced to realize he was coming from parts of myself—admirable and not—that I often stifle and disavow. I had to research Jax’s background, but I already knew his heart. I was channeling my inner SEAL.

I’ve never jumped out of an airplane, swum seven miles, or exited a submarine while it was underwater. (It’s called a lockout because, once the hatch closes, it can't be opened from their side. They have to stand there, in the dark, in this little, little chamber, while it fills up to the ceiling with frigid sea water. Yes, they have their breathing gear on—but still. E-E-E-E-E!)

However, none of those things are what the story is about.

The story is about people who come to a crossroads in their lives and have to make choices.

They have feelings. They form relationships which improve their lives in some ways but also show them things about themselves they didn’t exactly want to know.

And then they have some more feelings, and they make more choices.

That’s the story of my life.

So how much of Jax in SEALed With a Kiss is autobiographical? I’d say one hundred percent.

Am I claiming to be a SEAL--even an armchair one? No.

Let me explain how both could be true. Remember the submarine lockout? A lot of SEALs feel about it exactly the same way I do. Really. The only difference between us is that they do it anyway.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Writing about Real Life

As writers we are often asked where we get our ideas. This usually refers to the plot, a major event, or the characters. And that is a whole other question. Sometimes we get asked if we have experienced what we write. If asked with a wink and a nudge it means the intimate moments.

I do put things in my books that I have actually experienced or people close to me have experienced. Not whole scenes, just snippets of real life. It makes it so much more personal somehow when I remember the sight, the sound, the feel, the smell.

Like a mother and daughter make a daisy crown in the middle of a field in The Lady Flees her Lord. My mother did it with me, and I did it with my girls. The fact that I am writing about the 1800’s doesn’t make that memory any different now than it would have been then. The scene is not really about the daisy chain they make together, or the buttercup the little girl holds beneath her mother’s chin, but as I was writing it, it brought back some happy feelings and I hope will come through the reader.

In No Regrets, Lucas my hero uses a dock leaf to ease a rash from a stinging nettle. This herbal remedy has been around since the British wore woad, I suspect. (er.. I haven’t checked) But I did it for my sister. Friends did it for me. And in this way tiny little bits of my history get woven into my novels.

At one time, women wrote a lot of letters. They told their correspondents about ordinary things: shopping, the weather, what they ate, what affected them, their hopes. Recently a whole collection of letters and bills and such were found dating back from the 17th century on to the present day. All collected by one family, including a saucy poem. That collection is an amazing window on a by-gone world. A time capsule, if you will.

Our own lives are boring, but peeking in on other people's can be fascinating.

Most of us don’t write those kinds of letters these days. We don’t need to. The world is a phone call away. We shred our bills, blue box our notes, and email our correspondence. My guess is that the emails will disappear, the same as 8 track tapes did and there won’t be much writing from ordinary people 200 years from now.

Of course there will be memoirs and biographies of famous people, but since I have the chance, I will continue to put snippets of my ordinary life into my books, provided it fits the story, and even though I didn’t live during the period I write about. The sky was blue then and the grass was green and we know there were daisies.

Do you keep old letters? Do you put pieces of your own life into your stories? I’d love to know.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Research & Fiction--Too Much Or Just Enough?

To me, research makes a book so much more fun. If I can find something unique to the area, or about some aspect of what I'm writing, I love to include it. But there's nothing worse than reading several pages of how a paddle wheeler works or every detail of the boat's insides and outsides, unless it's important to the characters in the story. And even so, adding too much can make the story drag.

But getting some of the details right is important. So research is necessary. But how much is too much? I was reading a historical romance where the author went into the aspects of how vomit and dog feces were part of a medieval castle's decor, and the same with how unsanitary the streets were. Uhm, okay, yes, it's true. But though it's realistic, I really had a hard time with seeing the hero and heroine in a romantic light when I'm thinking of them wading through such unsanitized conditions. :)

On the other hand, some things are important. We don't have noreasters in Texas. They're called blue northers here. :) And I was just checking on snowmobiles--do they have headlights that stay on for safety sake all of the time? Yes, according to some snowmobilers from up north. We don't have them in Texas. :) So another lady on the loop that I had asked, said be sure you know what they're really called in the area where the story takes place. I had already, but this is like the blue northers we have here. In the Canadian Arctic, the snowmobiles were called skidoos. But since the hero and heroine aren't from there, they call them snowmobiles. The lady that talked to me about this said she works for an insurance company and was insuring a snow machine, but didn't know what it was. :) A snowmobile.

That's like wolves too. Timber, Mexican, Arctic wolves, the Rocky Mountain wolf are all gray wolves. Red wolves are a different species of wolf. Did you know that gray wolves are an Ice Age survivor? :)

So getting the details right can be important--my critique partner asked me if there was any daylight in the Canadian Arctic--5 hours in December on the shortest day, so yes. The details are important. I can't have a really long day at that time of year. And how cold is it? The characters are running around in the wilderness. Hmm, -19.7 C is the high, -27.7 the low. Maybe I'll pick an earlier month! Now if I go with November, I can mention the hero and heroine missing Thanksgiving, or celebrating it in Canada, but Canadians will have already celebrated their Thanksgiving the second Monday in October. So getting the facts straight is important!

As writers, what have you included in your stories that adds to the realism, and what have you left out as interesting tidbits (like my Ice Age surviving wolves) that isn't relevant or necessary to tell the story?

And as readers, what have you learned that you might not have known about while reading a fictional story?
Contest!! Guest blogging at Bitten by Books today, so check out the contest:
Terry Spear
Heart of the Wolf/Don't Cry Wolf/Betrayal of the Wolf/Allure of the Wolf

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Bachelor Auction -- The End

“Condition?” I squeaked.

Calvin nodded. “Dinner at the restaurant of my choice.”

There was too much going on. Candy’s shrill voice in the background as she shrieked for her lawyer while the Feds are telling her the shyster was in custody. Then there’s all these hunky guys in law enforcement that had me visualizing handcuffs and strip searches. And Calvin.

Calvin who didn’t look all that much like the nerd I remembered.

I made the mistake of looking across the room. My mother looked as if she’d died and gone to heaven and for all I know, already planning the wedding. I hoped I could stop her before she latched on to Ramona Hayward, our local wedding planner and town gossip who could put the Internet to shame.

Still, my all time favorite sight was seeing Candy hauled away in handcuffs. No designer wear for where she was going and gee, what a shame, she looks horrible in orange and jumpsuits will only make her look hippy. Yep, a very good day.


I looked up, responding to Calvin’s smile with one of my own. Spock turned Zorro turned into an all around nice guy with gorgeous eyes and a very nice smile.

“If you’d allowed the bidding to go on longer you could have made more than my $500 bid,” I said

“Because so many of the bachelors were off the block?”

I shook my head. Did he always have eyes a woman could just dive into? “Because you’d deserve every penny of it,” I said sincerely.

I wasn’t looking my best, but he stared at me as if I had just stepped out of Glamour magazine. And his hand on my arm had a firm yet gentle grip.

But he wasn’t the one I was aiming for. I wanted Dave the tool guy. – the Highlander, Rick the pirate or Simon AKA Mr. Darcy.

Didn’t I?

“Dinner at a restaurant of your choice,” I murmured, realizing he was guiding me out of the room.

He nodded, as we walked down the hall. The more I looked at him the more I saw Calvin and not Spock or Zorro. Amazing, because I really love Antonio Banderas as Zorro.

“Do you like French food?” He steered me out of the hotel and toward a fire engine red Porsche that screamed speed.

“I love it.” Although the only French food I knew we would find in town were the fries over at the Dairy Queen.

Calvin smiled again as he tucked me into the passenger seat as carefully as if I were made of porcelain.

“Calvin, it’s not even close to dinnertime and I’d like the idea of a shower and change of clothes before we go out,” I said as he revved up an engine that purred like a tiger. I’ve always loved sexy cars and this one was giving me ideas.

He drove out of the parking lot and in no time was on the road out of town.

“A shower sounds good too, but we have some traveling to do.” He pulled his cell phone out of a hidden pocket and spoke quickly into it.

Did he just give the idea of our taking a shower together? Whoa mama!

I thought I’d had my share of surprises today, but no way did I expect to see a sleek private jet sitting on the runway or that Calvin was parking the car nearby.

In no time we were settled inside the jet and I was enjoying a mimosa while Calvin excused himself to go to the rear of the jet.

“I suppose you still carry your passport with you?” Calvin called out.

“Oh sure, for those times I can run off to London or Rome for the weekend,” I joked and then almost choked on my drink when Calvin walked out wearing a polo shirt and jeans that made him look better than all the other bachelors rolled up into one.

He sat in the seat next to mine and secured his seat belt. “Good, because I know this nice little bistro in Paris. If you’d like we can do some shopping first and find something to wear for dinner .”

I was positive I’d suffered a severe blow to the head. I’d gone from wanting to throttle my mother for dragging me to a bachelor auction to being offered a smorgasbord of men that had me drooling all over the place to getting the bachelor who was quickly turning out to be the deal of the century.

Heat covered my skin as Calvin grinned at me and I started to imagine him without the jeans and polo shirt.

“Calvin,” I started even if I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to say.

“Did I ever tell you you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met and since that first time I saw you I imagined taking you to Paris,” he said.

My smile grew so wide I’m amazed my face didn’t double in width.

Not that I’ll thank my mother for dragging me to the bachelor auction. It would just convince her she did the right thing.

Plus, who knows, she might have the chance to plan a wedding.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Writer Sanctuary by Malena Lott

You know the saying - location, location, location. I used to be the same way about my writing. Same seat, same time of day, muse enters. Voila. I fondly remember the days in my mid-twenties where I could write until way past midnight and still feel the creative juices flowing as I put my computer to sleep. Yet the more kids I had (now up to, and stopping at, three) I've learned I have to be able to write anywhere, any time, or well, it just ain't happenin'. My muse, it seems, is now a morning owl. And she requires coffee. Not just Folgers, either. If she doesn't get Starbucks, she just doesn't put out, the wench. 

When my youngest was two, I hammered away in the early morning hours writing Dating da Vinci (Nov. '08) up in the playroom/office on a big Mac. Then my toddler Owen's demands usurped that of my muse's. I was upstairs, he was down, and that doesn't bode well for the whole supervision thing. Big Mac couldn't be lugged around, so I invested in a laptop. Now when people ask m
e "how I do it?", I tell them, have laptop, will travel.  I write on my lanai on a large double chair while my toddler scooters on the driveway. I write on my back patio when he's playing trucks in the backyard. And I write where I am right now, at my kitchen desk throughout the day with the flurry of TV and children's voices all about. This week I'm even writing on a train. We'll see how that one goes. Seems my muse has learned to be flexible because that's the only way we're going to stay in this writing business together. I am a mommy. I am a writer. I am a writer/mommy. I really can't separate the two, at least for the next fifteen years. 

Yet I do have my favorite writing spaces, places that bring me great peace and comfort as I channel 
the story. When I want complete isolation, I go to the closest thing I have to paradise, my friend Cynthia's back yard. She calls it an outdoor room. I call it heaven. See why in this pic.

Where is your favorite place to write? To read? Thanks for reading and sharing! 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part XVIII

Mom beamed. I tried to ignore it. After all, the woman had been trying to get me to take a look at Calvin for years.

It’s so annoying when she’s right.

And wow, I had to admit, was she ever. Calvin didn’t even wait to hear if there were any other bids, just swept toward me wearing that sexy feline grin I was sure I could get used to seeing on a regular basis. The tattered remnants of the wildest bachelor auction in our little town’s history staggered to make way for him. The quarterback was walking with a definite limp, I noticed, and the knight, finally giving up on his malfunctioning costume, tore his helmet off and hurled it away from him with a frustrated growl.

Not bad, I decided, taking in the flowing blond locks that tumbled over his shoulders. But he’s no Calvin. Who would have thought, before today, that I’d be thinking that with a racing pulse and butterflies in my stomach?

Calvin strode to me, stopping only inches away. I barely heard the delighted squeals of the contingent of local nurses as they rushed to the aide of the fireman, who’d just been knocked out cold by a certain flying hunk of medieval metal. All I could hear was the labored sound of my own breathing, and the thunderous beat of my heart.

Well, it could have been the stampede of nurses, I suppose. But still.

Calvin leaned down to talk to me, his lips almost touching my ear. I could smell his cologne, something spicy and thoroughly male, and wondered if maybe my new Vulcan love toy had also discovered Captain Kirk’s secret for attracting bikini-clad alien babes. Because God knew he smelled good enough to eat. Lick. Hell, just take a big damn bite out of…

“Sold,” he murmured, his warm breath sending delicious shivers down my spine. “On one condition.”

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part XVII

It took a moment for my brain to catch up. He had to be kidding! Calvin, nerdy little Calvin, a millionaire? Was this part of the auction or was it real?

The mayor was still staring open-mouthed at him, just like everyone else when Lauri Gruber piped up from the audience: “He’s making that up!”

But I didn’t think so. Anyone who could cough up four thousand dollars for charity had to have plenty of dough stashed away somewhere....

To recap the action, David Delaney was out, the Highlander was an IRS agent—no way was I touching him! Rick was missing a front tooth and would soon be on the run from the Highlander, and Calvin was missing an ear. Regency David was still in—though charmingly disheveled, like Darcy after his dip in the lake—but the knight still couldn’t keep his nose guard up, so it was impossible to tell what he looked like. Speedy was out—no great loss—and the quarterback looked like the loser after a very rough game. The fireman and policeman were the real thing—or were they?

The mayor looked confused but four thousand dollars was nothing to sneeze at.
“Up next, Calvin Seersucker as—” He paused to look Calvin up and down. “What are you?”

“I’m a Trekkie,” Calvin said proudly. “William Shatner once told us all to get a life—so I did.”

“And you did very well, I must say,” the mayor said, beaming at him. “So, ladies! What am I bid for the Trekkie who got a life?”

I had to admit, even after the fight, Calvin looked damn good. Looking at him from one side, he was all tough-guy starship captain, and from the other, a Vulcan diplomat—both of them built like brick shithouses. It was like getting two bachelors for the price of one. Then Calvin looked me right in the eyes and smiled, sending me into mental meltdown mode.

Mother gave me a nudge. “So, bid already!”

Suddenly, my hand was in the air. “Five hundred dollars!”

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part XVI

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

Agent Smith extended his hand to David. “You can go back to your regular duties with the Texas state police, Officer Delany. But rest assured that your undercover work in helping us with this case will be duly noted.” He shook David’s hand and then Speedy’s. “As will yours, Officer Gonzalez. We’d have never cracked this case without your assistance."

“But do we still get to be part of the auction?” Speedy asked, waggling his dark brows in Lauri Gruber’s direction.

“We’re on duty, Speed,” David admonished, but with an unmistakably apologetic look in my direction.

“You’re always such a killjoy, D.D.” Speedy grumbled. “But at least I got to dress like a NASCAR driver. This undercover work is cool!”

“About the four thousand dollars?” the mayor ventured again.

“Sorry sir,” said one of the other agents, whom I realized was dressed as a policeman and had intervened in the fight moments earlier. “But all Mrs. Martinelli’s assets are temporarily frozen, by order of the IRS.”

“That would be me,” chimed in the Highlander, pulling an ID badge from his sporran. “Special agent Robert McCrory, IRS. However, I am staying for the remainder of the auction.” He looked directly at me, green eyes twinkling, as he replaced his badge.


Icy fear raced down my spine as McCrory turned a narrow eyed glare at Rick aka Captain Jack. “There are certain other businesses in town that may require my attention.”

Twitching with terror, or maybe he was still into his Captain Jack persona, Rick backed timidly into line with the other bachelors, while the mayor looked crestfallen.

As the three FBI agents hustled a subdued Candy away, Calvin Seersucker stepped forward, his black cape swirling behind his shoulders. “I’ll gladly donate the four thousand, Mr. Mayor. As long as I’m the next bachelor who goes up for bid.”

The mayor’s jaw dropped and mine did too.

Four thousand??? Calvin?!?!

Calvin tilted his head and smiled like the cat who’d just finished off the canary. “It hasn’t been made public yet, but I recently completed negotiations for the sale of my private internet social network Space World to MacroGross for one point four million.” He swept a half-bow in McCrory’s direction, “After taxes.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What I've Learned Since I Got "The Call"

“Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”
~John Lennon

In my case, life is what happens when I’m trying to meet my deadline. Yesterday, while I was chatting on an author interview, I was asked how life changes after you get ‘The Call.’ It sounded like a good idea for a blog, and since I’d been wracking my brain trying to come up with just that, I made a note of it and enjoyed the rest of the chat.

I awoke this morning, made my 15-foot commute to my office, and sipped my coffee as I sat on the exercise ball I use in lieu of a desk chair, quietly thinking. Okay, all of us who have children home on summer vacation and animals know that quiet is relative. So I hid in my office while I bounced on my ball and thought about how life had changed in the year since I sold Romeo, Romeo. While I was trying to think quietly in between no less than five interruptions, I realized that my best-laid plans for meeting my deadline were blown to smithereens because life happens.

I’ve discovered that every one of life’s trials and tribulations gives me, a newly published author, the opportunity for an invaluable learning experience and perhaps ideas for a new scene or book. For instance, my dogs decided to take a jaunt to our local Wal-Mart and got a one-way ticket to the pound. The hour drive to the pound to spring the dogs from ‘The Pen,’ gave me the uninterrupted time on my cell phone –which, as you can imagine, is at a premium. I was able to discuss the copyedits for Romeo, Romeo with my editor who, unlike me, got a kick out of Sambuca and Jasmine’s shopping spree and subsequent incarceration.
My dogs’ escape taught me that you can get work done just about anywhere and everyone really does shop at Wal-Mart.

At the same time, my sister, whom I love and adore, returned for a two-week stay to recover from her second total knee replacement—barely a month after the weeks she spent with us while recuperating from her first. In the midst of all this, I’m driving my budding ballerina of a daughter to her dance school, a three-hour roundtrip four times a week.

I don’t have a private duty nurse, a chauffeur, a ghostwriter, a shrink on speed dial, or the magical ability necessary to add another eight hours to each day so I’ve learned to cope.

Now, my MacBook Air and I have become fixtures in both my daughter’s dance school and the nearby café. I learned that earplugs do more than allow you to sleep through the snores of your significant other. They are priceless when one finds it necessary to write in the midst of a gaggle of badly behaved children wearing tights, or while Oprah is blaring in the background. Luckily, my daughter has warned the aforementioned badly behaved tight-wearers that I growl if interrupted while writing, and the owner of the café knows that I drink coffee by the gallon. He’s learned from experience that if he has something to say he needs to wave, because when he taps me on the shoulder, I’ll startle and spill my coffee—more likely than not all over him.
Despite my delusional tendencies, I really thought I had a handle on successfully mixing my life and my work. Then I received an email requesting a one-week turn around on copy proofs for Romeo, Romeo that are slated to arrive ten days before If You Can’t Stand The Heat… is due on my editors desk.

Still, even with all the pressure, and the threat to my sanity or perhaps the loss of my sanity, I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Although I’d like to try doing it sailing on a 100-foot yacht in the South Pacific.

Told you I was delusional!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Bachelor Auction - Part XV

Bidding volleyed between me and other hopefuls until we had upped David’s value to five hundred dollars, and I wondered how quickly I could transfer my savings into my checking account.

Then Candy’s cry pierced the air. “Four thousand dollars!”

The room hushed in combined reverence and horror. Lauri Gruber at last said, “God, Candy, that’s not fair!”

“Is this an auction or not?” snapped Candy.

The mayor’s face was alight. Four thousand was a more than the past year’s auction had raised altogether. I closed my eyes in middle-class income misery as the mayor declared, “David Delany, going once, twice, SOLD! For four thousand dollars!”

Candy pointed a deadly fingernail at the rather pale carpenter on stage. “You’re mine now!”

“I’m afraid not,” said a new bachelor, stepping lithely from behind the line of disheveled and doubled-over fantasy men. He pulled a badge from the inner pocket of his austere suit. “Agent Smith, FBI. Mrs. Martinelli, I’m taking you into custody.”

FBI-Agent had not worked as hard on his costume as the others, but his tough-guy impact was hard to ignore. His steely gaze was so determined that a ripple of hormones surged through the already-titillated room of women.

“No, take me into custody!” begged Wendy Marstellars. “Two hundred for Agent Smith!”

“Two-ten!” shouted another voice, and the bidding was on again, fueled by estrogen. I glanced at my mother, who shrugged, then to the mayor, who looked helpless. The auction had spun out of his control. FBI-Agent’s value reached three hundred dollars when Candy shrieked out another astronomical sum of money.

“You already got your bachelor!” several women yelled at Candy.

“There is no bachelor limit!” Candy shouted back, indicating with a flourish of her checkbook that she could afford them all.

“Shut up!” bellowed Agent Smith thunderously. The room silenced once again while the glowering agent made his way off stage and stalked to Candy. Only then did I notice that two other dark-suited men had approached her from behind.

“Candy Martinelli,” announced Agent Smith, “you are under arrest, for conspiracy to commit the murder of Carlo Martinelli.”

As if it held her will to fight, Candy’s checkbook dropped to the floor. While the backup agents cuffed her, she whined in dismay, but Agent Smith ignored her. He found Wendy Marstellars in the crowd and passed her a business card. “Call me,” he said, smiling at Wendy’s profuse blush. “No bid necessary.”

Meekly the mayor asked, “Can we keep the four thousand dollars?” And David Delany asked, "What happens to me now?"

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks Acquiring Editor, Takes Your Questions

We're pleased to welcome our lovely editor, Deb Werksman, back for another spin on the blog. She'd be delighted to field questions about the kinds of books she's buying, but please, no pitching stories. And now, here's Deb!

Dear Authors:

For today's blog, I thought I'd talk a little about book publishing. Then, I'll reiterate what I'm looking for in terms of acquisitions (so you can skip ahead to that part if you wish!), touch on the subject of pitching your book, and then I can't wait to hear your questions.

Did you know that:
*romance fiction is the best selling category in the bookstores, 26.4% of all books sold in 2006?
*trade book publishing grew 5.5% overall in 2007?
*in 2007 there were over 400,000 (count 'em!) books published?
*one of the biggest chain book retailers announced it's reducing inventory this year by 25%?
*the vast majority of books published will sell 1000 or fewer copies?
*all books are currently sold on a returnable basis?
*the publisher pays "co-op" money for placement on tables and endcaps in the stores, or face out on shelf?

What does this mean for you?
*you're in the right category! Fiction and romance fiction are both growing.
*you must position your book with a great "hook"!
*you must be a tireless promoter

What does this mean for Sourcebooks?
*it's tougher than ever to sell your book "in" (to the buyer) and to sell it "through" (to the reader)--so saleability is an absolutely essential part of our acquisitions strategy--that's why sometimes I say in a rejection letter "I don't know how to sell this"

*the package is really, really, really important! It is NOT necessary for the cover to be literal--it has to communicate the subgenre and differentiate the book, and it has to make the reader want to pick it up! It's great if the hair color/eye color/build of the characters is correct, but beyond that, the cover has to be designed with the marketplace in mind--NOT with the content of the book in mind

*we're going to do everything we can to get you opportunities to promote your book, and we're relying on you to take advantage of all those opportunities and to create other opportunities

Finally, a subjective thought--we're in the entertainment industry! So write your books with that in mind--your reader is looking for an experience!

And now, what you all REALLY want to know! What are we looking for?

Single title romance fiction (single title series and trilogies, too) in ALL subgenres--paranormal, historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, erotic romance AND innovative women's fiction (show me something NEW!)

85-110,000 actual words, please!

Criteria for romance fiction are:
1) a heroine the reader can relate to
2) a hero the reader can fall in love with
3) a world is created
4) I can differentiate it in 2 sentences (ok, maybe 3!)

I prefer electronic submissions, as attachments in Word (.doc) files--synopsis and full manuscript are fastest.

I went into this in more depth last time on this blog, so check out my earlier blog, and also more detailed guidelines are on our website:

I'll be at RWA nationals in SF in July/August so if you want to pitch your book to me or meet me in person, contact RWA and slot yourself in! (not necessary if you're already a Sourcebooks author)

So, let me tell you something about pitches:

1) be bright, be brief, and be gone
2) let me know IMMEDIATELY what the subgenre is
3) pitch the "hook" first, then go from there
4) feel free to ask me questions when you're done pitching
5) you may be nervous and that's ok--I'll be able to hear what I'm listening for even if you're nervous!

Ok, what else do you want to know?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bachelor Auction XIV—The Wars Continue

From his place on the floor, the quarterback raised a long, muscled leg and caught Speedy right where he lived. With a howl of righteous indignation, Speedy clutched his, um, junk, and dropped to his knees. Infuriated by the quarterback's audacity, the Highlander got into a screaming fight with the pirate, who took the quarterback's side. The ensuing rumble sucked in everyone except for David Delany, who deftly sidestepped Calvin Seersucker as he jumped into the fray.

The auctioneer banged his gavel on the dais while the audience of stunned women watched the brawl with fascination and, in the case of Candy, titillation. The public safety bachelors, policeman and fireman, blew whistles that caught the attention of the fools on the floor.

"Enough already," policeman said.

Behind me, I heard someone whisper, "Oh, I want him...."

It took a few minutes, but the public safety bachelors managed to restore some semblance of order. The Highlander's fur-covered sporran now sat on his hip, and Rick stood up with an outraged expression on his face. "You busted out my freaking tooth!" he screamed at Calvin.

"Well, you're a dentist," Calvin retorted. "Fix it."

Rick reached up and pulled the fake Vulcan tip off Calvin's ear and threw it at him. It missed Calvin, bounced off the pirate's forehead and sailed into the audience, landing right in my lap.

With his screwdriver still in his hand, David reached for the stray ear tip. "I'll take that, sweetheart," he said with a private smile for me. "I've got some putty in my toolbox that will fix that right up."

The woman behind me sighed. "I've changed my mind," she said. "Get me that one."

"Not so fast," I replied, my eyes locked on David. "I'll start the bidding at two-hundred fifty dollars."

"We have two-fifty," the relieved auctioneer said. "Do I hear two seventy-five?"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bachelor Auction XIII: The Bidding Wars

The mayor explained the bidding rules, while behind him, the bachelors struck manly poses to match their costumes.

Regency David swept a bow, and Captain Jack, the dentist, braced his legs wide on his imaginary deck. David the Carpenter Guy hooked thumbs over his tool belt, an action which—not accidentally—made the wide leather perfectly frame his...uhm,hardware.

Next, the knight drew his heavy broadsword, intending, I think, to pose with it in his mailed fist. But without warning, the nose-guard-thing on his helmet slammed down, blocking his peripheral vision. Carpenter David diagnosed the helmet’s loose screw and triumphantly whipped out a screwdriver. The crowd roared and clapped.

Hearing applause, Calvin thought it was his turn. He extended his fingers in the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” greeting, then remembered his ears and eyebrows were gone.

Nobody could say Calvin wasn’t flexible. He switched to his Zorro alter-ego, drew his sword and slashed a Z into the air. Beside him, the knight was still trying to get his nose-guard back up. He was none too steady on his feet, and he stumbled into the path of Calvin-Zorro’s rapier.

With all that armor the knight wasn’t hurt of course. But just at that moment, he finally got his eyes clear and saw one man slashing at him with a fencing blade, and another brandishing a screwdriver. He hoisted his broadsword in clear challenge.

“Ach, ye braw laddies!” exulted the Highlander as he snatched a claymore from his belt. “That’s muir like it!”

Speedy was more succinct. “Fight!” he yelled. And slugged the quarterback.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Bachelor Auction-- Part XII

Between me and my highlander lay two round tables full of drooling women. Oh, for super powers. A single bound would come in handy about now.

I tripped over a mailed foot—mailed foot? I double-took the knight kneeling at the feet of a seated Gladys Bellyard, big and beautiful, a gorgeous red sequined top clinging to her ample endowments. The blue-eyed, blond-haired, knight could not keep his gaze from her magnificent cleavage as she removed her chiffon scarf and tied it to his...ummm lance.

Orlando Bloom did bachelor auctions? Who knew?

“Excuse me,” I said, one eye on my Highlander. Oh no, boob-girl, Candy, was also making a bee-line for him, her hand still firmly on David’s tool-belt as she dragged him along.

“My lady,” knight-dude said glancing up. “I doth impede your progress.” He
smiled and clanked to his feet, his mail-clad shoulders a solid wall of metal at eye level. He gave a courtly bow as I passed.

Hot. I was hot. He was hot. Could somebody open a window? I fanned my hand in front of my face.

Now where did I put that Highlander? I scanned the room. Regency-man David caught my eye as he peeled a teenager off his chest. He made one of those American idol phone me signs and waggled his brows. Oh Lord, it was all his fault I was in here.

Feedback screeched through the room. I covered my ears. Some bald idiot was tapping the microphone up on stage. The mayor. He mopped his face, then the top of his head.

“Ladies,” he squeaked. Then coughed. “Ladies.” His voice came out two octaves lower. “Time for the catwalk. Bachelors, please line up to the right.”

Disappointed mutters filled the room. I thought I heard sucking sounds, as if octopi were releasing their prey.

I sank into the nearest chair. The sight of so much eye candy in a line was just too much to handle standing on my feet.

Now for the real fun. The bidding.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Bachelor Auction--Part XI

Rick rested his fingers on my arm and leaned in, his lips barely touching my ear as he whispered, “Bid for me and I’ll sail you far away from all this.”

He winked and shivers of expectation stole up my spine. I could just envision sailing in the Gulf with Rick, minus the dreadlocks, making a stop at South Padre Island, wading in the pristine water while colorful fish darted around our legs, where cottony sand beaches awaited us and then…then…I saw him—

Be still my heart, ‘twas none other than Robert McCrory decked out in a blue and green belted plaid kilt, renaissance-looking soft leather boots, and no shirt, wicked man. Only a sash draped across his bronzed, muscular torso, hiding a wee bit o’ his well-sculpted chest. And a gold bracer caressed his bicep, like I wanted to do. Just to see if he was really as strong as he appeared to be. His green eyes captured mine, held me hostage, and challenged me to join him.

“Uhm, Rick, I’ll be right back.” Maybe.

The gold bracer alone that Robert wore would probably break my bank account, but to buy the whole man? I sighed. Now, if he offered to take me to the Highlands—to a castle, better yet—I’d promise him anything.

Wanton woman that I was. Okay, I was so not into bachelor auctions, but the bachelors they were auctioning this year were a feast for the eyes, and could do serious damage to my pocketbook.

My gaze strayed to the fur-covered sporran at his waist, and then to the sword hanging at his side. I closed my gaping mouth and my eyes shifted again to his face. His lips curved up and his eyes sparkled like the devil. Yeah, every bit of him hooked me.

I couldn’t help it. My Scottish ancestry was calling to me—take him, the Highlander laird of Granbury. Take him!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part X

Gulp! Breathe, just breathe. In. Out. In. Out.

I spun around with a big smile on my lips. At least, I think I was smiling and not looking like the idiot I was feeling like more and more.

“Rick!” I thought I’d seen pretty much every fantasy in the ballroom until now. OMG! It was Captain Jack Sparrow without the lack of personal and dental hygiene. Oh no, this one smelled like Old Spice, and when you think about it, it fit. Rick’s surfer blond hair was covered with the black dreads and tri-cornered hat and he even sported the black eye liner, which actually looked very sexy on him. YUM! “Look at you!” And believe me, I did. Even under the heavy clothing you could see what looked like a long and lean runner’s body.

He looked a bit embarrassed. “Your mother.”

I nodded as I wondered how she managed to persuade, or blackmail, the town dentist into dressing up as Johnny Depp although at the moment I was doing a Johnny who? shuffle. “’Nuff said. You look like the real deal.” My fingers were already itching to pop up into the air with “I bid my life’s blood for this pirate!” I already mentally calculated what I could pull from my Visa and MasterCard. I only hoped that Carly didn’t have a Black AmEx. Knowing her, she’d bid big time on every man just because she could.

I have never been a slut, but at the moment, with all these prime men milling around the room, I felt as if I was rapidly moving into Carly’s territory. Take that and your Louis Vuitton purse too! Give me an hour, or three, with makeup and hair and I could give you a run for your implants and liposuction. So many men, so little time was much more than a saying.

Except Rick was looking at me like he was on a diet and I was the biggest hot fudge sundae in the world.

No, wait a minute, that was me!

“Soooo, how’s the town’s favorite dentist?” I mentally winced, convinced I sounded about as perky as a person could sound. I needed coffee … a lot of it. Instead, I snagged a glass of wine from a passing waiter.

“Doing good.” Wait a minute! He was giving me a once over and not the she looks worn out, but the I like what I see. I couldn’t stop smiling.

Rick looked up when someone called his name and he looked genuinely reluctant as he started to move away. I seriously thought about dragging him off to an empty room where I’d be singing Hoist the Colors. What can I say? I’ve seen the movies too many times to count. He rested his fingers on my arm and leaned in, his lips barely touching my ear as he whispered

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Bachelor Auction, Part IX

Oh my God, I did not just say that…I did not just THINK that…

Calvin, not seeming to notice my inner turmoil, just frowned down at me, obviously intrigued.

“Really? What’s wrong with the eyebrows?”

“They look like caterpillars about to mate,” I sighed, and when he looked more affronted than receptive, I took matters into my own hands. “Here,” I said. “If you just did this…” I reached up and pulled off the offending brows as easily as I might have ripped off a couple of band-aids. Fortunately, most of his actual eyebrow hair stayed in place, a miracle with the amount of glue he’d used.

I stepped back and surveyed my handiwork. And despite the bleeding, which really wasn’t very bad, I was even more pleasantly surprised at what I saw. Calvin Seersucker, beneath the layers of costumed geekiness, was definitely not an ugly duckling anymore.

“Now for the ears and cape,” I said, ignoring the mulish expression he gave me in return. “Come on. Hand them over. You can’t be a Vulcan Zorro starship captain.”

“Hey, this is fantasy,” he reminded me, crossing his arms over a chest that I tried really hard not to notice had spent some serious time at the gym lately.

I did my best to look down my nose at him, despite the height difference. It failed miserably, but I think I got the point across.

“What you’re wearing is not fantasy,” I pointed out. “What you’re wearing is some kind of bad Trekkie acid trip. You do want to get bid on, right?”

Calvin cocked his head at me, considering, a question in his eyes. But before he could say anything, another hand gripped my arm, and a warm, familiar voice whispered in my ear.

“You are going to bid on me…aren’t you?”

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part VIII

“Well, umm…good luck with that, sweetie,” Candy cooed, her wide smile about as heartwarming as a barracuda’s bared teeth. “I’m sure you’ll really have to shell out for that one.” She leaned in close, and in a conspiratorial stage whisper that was doubtless heard across half the town, confided, “Good thing Carlo left me set for life.” She patted her enormous Luis Vuitton purse. “I’m sure David’s going to cost me a fortune. But as you and I both know…he’s well worth it.”

I caught David’s wince out of the corner of my eye, and felt a moment of hope that enormous hair, leopard print halters and painted-on jeans weren’t really his thing these days. He opened his mouth to say something, those honey-colored eyes fixed on me, but Candy was having none of it.

“How’ve you…”

“Oh David, look! It’s Wendy Marstellars and Lauri Gruber! You just have to show them your sexy Fantasy Man getup!” With a final venomous smile, Carly hooked her claws into David once again and dragged him off. I sighed as I watched them make their way towards Wendy and Lauri, who, to their credit, were watching Candy’s approach with naked horror. David followed sheepishly. I shook my head, watching his still adorable, yet retreating, backside. Had he always been this wimpy?

I felt Calvin come up beside me, watching them go.

“Apparently they didn’t offer brain implants at the place she got everything else done.” His voice, deep and smooth, was so unlike the pitchy pubescent tones of our youth that I had to remind myself it was shrimpy, nerdy Calvin I was talking to.

“Yeah, well, from the looks of things they would have overcompensated and her head would now be the size of a beach ball,” I laughed, turning to look at him. Look up at him, that was. Since when had Calvin gotten to be over six feet tall? Come to think of it, when was the last time I’d really looked at Calvin, period? His blue eyes were still cool when they gazed down at me from beneath those bizarre Vulcan eyebrows he had going on. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that beneath the weird stage makeup, something very strange had happened to the kid who had once been stuffed into his locker on a regular basis for wearing a Star Trek communicator pin. And my mouth, as always, kicked into gear before I thought better of it.

“You know, if you ditched the Spock brows, you’d actually be kind of hot.”

Kendra Leigh Castle

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Bachelor Auction, part VII

Except that he wasn’t the Calvin I remembered. This Calvin had morphed into some sort of exotic alien being—half Vulcan, and half . . . something. As his expression of surprise turned to one of naked lust, I nearly choked on my own spit.

“C-Calvin?” I stammered. “I didn’t—”

“Recognize me?” he said. “I thought not. After all, you’ve never given me the time of day.” His deep blue eyes were as hot as molten steel as they swept my body up and down. Funny how I’d never noticed them before. Must have been the tantalizing Vulcan eyebrows. Yeah, that was it. It was the eyebrows . . . and the ears—or maybe the cape. Calvin had certainly never affected me this way! I felt the searing heat from his eyes burn me down to ash.

“Don’t be silly!” I said, my voice suddenly high-pitched and girlish. “We’ve always been . . . friends.” I felt like an absolute idiot. This was Calvin Seersucker, for heaven’s sake! Nerdy little Calvin, who would have been much more at home at a Star Trek convention than at a bachelor auction.

“Yes,” he said. Even his voice sounded different—deeper, more masculine and seductive. “We’ve always been friends.” The emphasis he put on the word friends made it sound like an obscenity, which is probably the way most men feel about it when a woman they lust after says they just want to be “friends.”

Wait a minute. Lust after? Impossible! Calvin didn’t feel lust! Not for anyone. Well, maybe for a Romulan princess, but not me—oh, surely not me!

Candy made some sort of noise—which, if I’d been a more catty woman, I’d have said was a snort.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Little Bit of Inspiration

Well, after reading your amazing serial romance, “The Bachelor Auction,” I’m so impressed by how quickly you all were able to create such compact and fully detailed chapters, and connect them in such a way that would showcase all of your writing talents in the best way possible! The characters are all funny, some over the top (but necessarily so) and I cannot wait to see which one of the bachelors our heroine actually ends up with!

All of the quickly created wit and descriptions made me wonder what inspires my authors? And also, what inspires me? In college, I was more of the “creative non-fiction” type, even infusing my 20+ page term papers with some kind of personal voice—which many a professor appreciated! And now, in publicity, writing is a huge part of my job. The first bit of inspiration is of course, from my lovely authors, who so graciously put their books in my hands for proper promotion. But what also inspires me is my personal drive. My brother and I were brought up to always do our best, no matter how small of a task. So when we collaborate on a new angle to send out your books or I’m writing a drop letter, I always think ahead—if someone at People or even a small review blog doesn’t want a review copy, or doesn’t want to feature an author, I immediately think of what I can do differently to change their minds. Creativity is something that can be used on so many different levels (an awesome example is “The Bachelor Auction”), so I’m glad to use mine each and every day.

Of course, when I’m writing a drop letter or press release, I have your beautiful covers to give me something to ponder over…

Where do you find inspiration? Is there a place you like to go (real or in your mind!) when you write? Or do you just wait for the words to come to you, or the characters to speak to you and fervently write it all down then?

OH—and more importantly: if there is ever a publicist auction, how much would you guys pay for me? :-)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Is He A Domesticated Man Or A Domestic God?

Writing a Domestic god hero is difficult because the difference between a Domestic god and a Domesticated man is like the difference between a cougar and a house cat. They both purr when they get their ears scratched, they both dislike water, but you’ll never train a cougar to use a litter box. Cougars are cunning, beautiful and definitely a breed all their own—much like the Domestic god. They might have all the same body parts as a house cat, but that’s where the comparison ends. For example:

The Domesticated man does the dishes because he doesn’t want to fight with you about it. A Domestic god does the dishes to give you just the right amount of time to anticipate his arrival in the bedroom.

A Domesticated man will wash and dry the laundry. A Domestic god will do the laundry—but he’ll also wash and dry your hair.

A Domesticated man will pick up the dry cleaning because you told him to. A Domestic god picks up the dry cleaning because he saw it on your to-do list.

A Domesticated man will take your car out to run errands; a Domestic god will take your car out to run errands and fill up your gas tank so you don’t have to.

Domesticated men will grudgingly pick up feminine products only in the most dire of emergencies. Domestic gods don’t mind picking them up anytime, along with some chocolate to make you feel better.

Domesticated men prefer take-out. Domestic gods prefer slow cooking to microwaves in both the kitchen and the bedroom.

Domesticated men will plan weekend trips for two to get away. Domestic Gods will plan romantic weekend trips for two, but will also surprise you with trips for you and your girlfriends.

Every time I write about a Domestic god, I walk a fine line between the hero being--well, a hero, and the hero being a wimp. But after looking at the differences closely, both in real men and fictional men alike, I’ve come to believe that what makes a Domestic god a Domestic god, and a Cougar a Cougar is all in the delivery.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Bachelor Auction, Part VI

My ire turned to horror when Candy fixed her predatory gaze in my direction. Her voice echoed off the ballroom’s high ceiling. “David, look who came home! We haven’t seen you in years!”

I could hardly refuse her beckoning claw. Everyone was watching. I rose, painfully aware that my clothes were wrinkled from travel, and that I had just fallen out of my car, with no chance to brush my hair or check my makeup. Was I even wearing makeup? I approached them feigning delight.

“Oh, aren’t you a sight?” cried Candy, clutching one of David’s impressively firm-looking biceps as she eyed me. “I admire women with the courage to completely ignore how they look. That takes such confidence! Didn’t I always say I admired her confidence?” The breathtaking David looked apologetic, but I hated the thought that he might say something sympathetic.

I plastered a beaming smile on my face. “Isn’t this fun? I never imagined I’d be surrounded by romantic heroes.”

“Makes me want to be a damsel in distress,” purred Candy, glancing at David. To ensure he couldn’t get a word in edgewise, she blurted at me, “But you would never bid.”

On impulse I said, “Of course I would. It’s for a good cause. I had my eye on. . .” I looked wildly around, seizing the hand of the fantasy bachelor unluckily gliding past. I saw only a black cape, so he must be Zorro, or a vampire. “This one!”

The caped man turned, and I found myself blinking into the surprised face of Calvin Seersucker.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part V

But just when I thought I couldn’t get any sicker, I heard an unmistakable giggle that grated on every last nerve ending in my body. I watched in horror filled fascination along with everyone else, as a woman with Texas-big platinum blonde hair and even bigger, if phony, tatas strolled to the front of the room. My adolescent nemesis, Candy Froedisher Martinelli.

We had been friends in junior high school, but when we got to high school, suddenly Candy was Miss Popularity, head cheerleader, homecoming queen, the works, while I remained behind in my somewhat nerdy corner. Bad enough that I was often the object of her giggling, whispered innuendoes, but her ultimate betrayal came when she lured David Delany- -my David- -away to be her date for the Senior prom.

While the rest of us had gone off to college and studied things like journalism or criminal justice, Candy had gone to Miami Beach to major in Trophy Wife 101. Her first husband, or so I’d heard, was a minor Mafia enforcer. Freddie “The Pistol” Pestorini liked big boobs and gaudy gold jewelry, and he supplied Candy with both, until she cast her eyes on bigger fish in the pond.

Her second husband had children older than Candy, and was a Mafia kingpin who had died under mysterious circumstances six months ago. According to the news report I’d read, Carlo Martinelli’s body washed up on the Jersey shore with his wrists and ankles shackled. The local police and the FBI had made no arrests, but I would bet my mother’s last petunia that the grieving widow was implicated up to her thickly mascaraed eyelashes.

Eyelashes she was now batting flirtatiously at David Delany--my David!

“That brazen hussy!” My mother hissed near my ear, and I realized that she had been watching the whole spectacle too, along with most everyone else in the room.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Bachelor Auction, Part IV

I choked back the urge to throw up in my mouth, muttered “Slow down, Speedy,” and took a seat next to my mother. Pretending to be absorbed in the program, I watched “Speedy” practice his hair over-the-eyes, low-voiced “buy me” spiel with a couple of other twittering fools who would no doubt duke it out over him in the auction.

In need of something to do so I wouldn’t be tempted to watch Speedy work the room, I buried my nose in the program. The Navy guy was kind of cute as was the football dude. I flipped to the next page, and my heart literally staggered in my chest. Carpenter guy—oh my God! David Delany, my mad high school crush, the one who had occupied every single one of my schoolgirl fantasies, the one I had given myself to in the back of his father’s Dodge junior year, my first—and only—love...


Apparently startled by the rough tone of my voice, she turned. “What? Why are you pale and pasty all of a sudden?”

“David Delany?” I croaked.

All innocence, she said, “Oh, did I forget to tell you he’s back in town?”


“Gee, he’s been back three, maybe four months now. I saw his mother the other day, and she said his sister had roped him into this auction deal.” She leaned in for a better look at my program. “He’s aged well, huh?”

That was putting it mildly. His dark hair fell over his forehead in sexy dishevelment that Speedy could only hope to one day achieve. Piercing golden brown eyes captivated me, the same way they had all those years ago. Realizing my conniving mother was at it again, I somehow managed to nod while fighting the sudden urge to be very, very sick.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Bachelor Auction Part III

by Mary Margret Daughtridge

Granbury wasn’t a large town. In years past the auction had always been held in the high school auditorium, where a family atmosphere and lots of good-natured teasing gave the money-raiser the feeling of a Sadie Hawkins Day joke. The town wasn’t long on eligible men, either. A couple of years, some of the bachelors had been teenagers, and once, the ten-year-old grandson of the president of the bank. His two grandmothers bidding against each other had been the highlight of the evening.

I had already guessed that by moving the auction to the hotel ballroom, its sponsors signaled they intended things to be different this year, but a Fantasy Man theme? Come on. Granbury wasn’t the kind of place where people had fantasies. Granbury was middle America at its most middle—a fact that had driven me to the big city as soon as I finished school.

I had wanted the kind of place where people dared to live large. I had wanted excitement, thrills, drama. Men in Armani suits and women in deep décolleté black dresses. Sports cars and limousines, and scintillating conversation with men who had mysterious dark eyes and an aura of danger.

At the door to the ballroom, Millicent Froedisher, in the same taupe suit she’d worn to church for years, took my ticket. Beside her, a man, in a formfitting cobalt jumpsuit emblazoned with racing sponsor logos, flashed me a daredevil grin. When I gasped, audibly, he winked. “My friends call me ‘Speedy’—but I’m not, if you know what I mean.” He dipped his head slightly causing a lock of black hair to fall over his eyes. “Buy me.”

Monday, June 2, 2008

Bachelor Auction - Part II

Mother popped up behind the counter. Her newly frizzed gray hair, fire-engine-red lipstick and a waft of lavender proclaimed she was “going out.”

“Late as usual,” she muttered trotting around the cash desk. She grabbed my arm with red talons and hauled me toward the back exit, the entrance to the Prairie Dog hotel.

The site of the auction.

“I’m not going.” I dragged my feet.

“I did the flowers,” she said. “I need your help.”

There was that long e sound. Like the sound of a baby crying for its mother. It hit me in the gut.

She turned the knob of the baize lined door and pulled me into the burgundy plush of the hotel ballroom lobby.

At the door, broad shoulders filling out his pearl-gray waistcoat and black jacket stood Mr. Darcy, back from the past. He beckoned. Blinded by his white ruffled shirt and cravat, I blinked, then couldn't resist a long slow look at a pair of superb thighs encased tight buckskin breeches which ended in a pair of shiny Hessians.

“What?” I croaked. "Who?"

“Fantasy men,” Mother said. “He’s umm,” she gazed at the program. “Regency. There’s Fireman, Star Trek—”

“Whoa.” I raised a hand. “You made them dress up? There are more like this?”

Regency-man’s cheek dimpled with his smile. He bowed. “Come in, sweet lady.” His voice hit my chest like brandy and warm honey on a cold night. “Buy me. I’m David.”

My insides turned to liquid. “Oh boy,” I murmured to Mother. “You sure know how to hit a girl where it hurts.”

She handed me my ticket. Salivating I held it out.

Michele Ann Young
No Regrets

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Bachelor Auction--Part I

*Photo's tag: The lads before the carnage. This is actually a photo of a group of men who participated in a live male auction--so get ready to bid...
The Bachelor Auction
by the Casablanca Authors

Excited about returning home to Granbury, Texas, I couldn’t wait to get settled until I saw the notices posted all over the historic town. Bachelor Auction.

Inwardly, I groaned.

It was supposed to have been last Saturday, not this Saturday! That’s why I had waited another week before coming home. If I didn’t know any better, I would swear Mom had influenced the City Council to change the date to make sure I was home for the summer event.

Shielded by the sun, I hurried under the striped awnings to Mother’s gift store, the old time shops all connected by wooden walkways. Summer fashions and pansy garden gifts decorated the storefront windows and I could hardly wait to share my marketing experiences from classes I’d taken at the university.

As soon as I stepped out of the heat into the shop, the fragrance of lilac candles and the cooled air welcomed me. The bell over the door jingled, but to my surprise, my mother didn’t call out to greet me. Instead, a large poster displayed smack dab in the center of the counter, proudly announced: Tenth Annual Bachelor Auction!

If my mother bid on Calvin Seersucker again…well, she just better not.

Widowed for six years, Mom should have been looking for someone to keep herself company, but every time I returned home, she was determined to find Mr. Right—for me.

Already, I had a very bad feeling about this.

Terry Spear
Heart of the Wolf