Friday, October 31, 2008

Romeo Romeo Launch Party!

By: Robin Kaye

Fall is my favorite time of the year and the perfect time to launch Romeo, Romeo! So join the fun and have a cyber-toast with me.

Everyone who comments today and tomorrow will be entered into a drawing for two autographed copies of Romeo, Romeo and two Barnes & Noble gift cards. There will be four winners. The contest ends at 11:59 PM Eastern Daylight Time November 1st.

Independent businesswoman, Rosalie Ronaldi’s life would be perfect if she could just figure out how to keep her nosy, pushy, Italian family from trying to marry her off.

Nick Romeo, Brooklyn’s Donald Trump without the comb over, thinks independent women are an urban myth, until he meets Rosalie and realizes they’re no myth, just a pain in the ass. He’s finally met a woman who is looking for the same thing he is, a commitment free relationship and is shocked to discover that all he wants to do is take care of her... Before too long, he's moved in, cleaned her apartment, stocked her refrigerator, and adopted her dog.

Romeo, Romeo is the first in my Domestic Gods series so I thought I’d share the Top 10 Reasons Women Love Domestic Gods.

10. Domestic gods know how to separate laundry and are man enough to buy and care for fine washables.
9. Domestic gods like more their women, their cars, their vacuums, and their household cleaners.
8. Domestic gods do manly things - like lift the couch with one hand to vacuum under it.
7. Domestic gods don't question their sexuality -- being a good cook and knowing how to clean doesn't make them effeminate. It makes them independent.
6. A domestic god knows the way to a woman's heart is to show he's capable of killing bugs, scrubbing toilets, washing windows, keeping her well fed and satisfied in bed.
5. A domestic god knows there's nothing sexier than a man cleaning the bathtub for the woman in his life and then joining her in it.
4. Domestic gods don't expect their woman to be a maid unless said woman is into playing dress-up. Then, they prefer the French variety--feather duster included.
3. Domestic gods can bring home the bacon and cook it for you too.
2. Domestic gods not only respect women, they care for and about them.

And the number one reason women love 
domestic gods is...

Domestic gods are as good in the kitchen as they are in the bedroom.

And that's saying something!

The review

I picked up Romeo, Romeo by Robin Kaye on Monday. This was a mistake because as soon as I started reading I couldn’t put the book down. I didn’t want to and I literally tried to multitask while reading and that didn’t work out so well so I just went back to reading. I took breaks for food, sleep, and unavoidable errands. Reading Romeo, Romeo was like finding a new best friend.

Kaye’s writing style is so engaging you are hooked before you finish the first page. I guarantee you will be as engrossed as I was. Kaye writes romance like Janet Evanovich writes serial mystery comedies. I haven’t been so pleased with a contemporary romance as I was with Romeo, Romeo in a good long while. I can see why this book won the Golden Heart Award for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance Manuscript in 2007 at RWA. A Golden Heart Award as you know is given out to unpublished authors and manuscripts.

The cast of characters Kaye created are as fabulous and as endearing as any of the Stephanie Plum characters. Rosalie, the heroine can cuss in four languages, but three don’t count in her mind and will give her bonus points with God. Rosalie’s a turn around CFO with a tough as nails assistant named Gina who can also add loyal and kindhearted to her resume. Rosalie is as Italian in her looks as Gina is Latino. The two women are best friends.

Dominick Romeo is the owner of a string of car dealerships. He was a bad boy Morelli type of character in his youth and got into a spot of trouble that turned his life around. He’s now the Italian version of Donald Trump in New York and has surrounded himself with shallow Barbie doll type girls until he got tired of them and of the game.

They meet cute: Dominick has had a terrible weekend. Everything that could go bad in his opinion has. He thinks he’s gotten a double dose of the saying ‘trouble always comes in threes.’ Throwing the towel in on figuring out the mess that was his Viper, Nick grabs the keys to the wrecker and hauls himself home. On the way home he spots number six by the road kicking and cussing at her car.

Rosalie is livid. Her stupid brother took her money and her car and never once put the money to good use. Now she’s stranded without a donut-sized spare let alone the full one she paid her brother to get. Seeing Nick pull over to help, she wonders if the bonus points she’d been earning over the last little while were about to be cashed in for the help she needed. Of course something is weird about Nick. Since when has a wrecker just happened by and pull over– especially after she’s called around and nobody was open or available? And since when has a lowly mechanic had an expensive haircut and dress shoes?

Dominick convinces her to get in the wrecker after proving he’s not some whacked-out psychopath and drives her home. He finds himself incredibly attracted to her and wonders how to get a date. There are only two things wrong with the situation in his mind. One she’s got a boyfriend and he doesn’t poach, even though he thinks the guy is an idiot. Two, Rosalie turned out to be the younger sister of the boy he got in trouble with in his youth which was sure to cause bad blood. What’s a guy to do? Wait for her to dump the first boyfriend that’s what, and to speed her along to that end he tantalizes her with almost kisses.
Rating: 5 Stars for Hot, Steamy, and Hilarious! I am definitely keeping an eye out for Kaye’s next novel!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some Halloween Fun...

Since I'm a big kid at heart, and also because I'm in the throes of trying to potty train an obstinate three-year-old and need a little more laughter and a little less screeching in my life at present, I thought I'd do something fun and festive today. I love Halloween...every year, I wish I could turn into a seven-year-old kid again, just for the night, so I could get away with trick-or-treating while wearing an awesome costume. And in case you're wondering, yes, I was one of those kids who trick-or-treated even as an obnoxious teenager. I have a friendly and very well-developed "Gimmie candy!" smile. It all worked out.
Anyway, today, in honor of the impending sugar-filled holiday, I'd like to present my Top 5 Halloween Specials and Must-Watch Movies (how's that for a mouthful?). So without further adieu...
1. Garfield's Halloween Adventure
I watched this every Haloween, growing up, and even though cable now stinks and they don't play Halloween specials actually ON Halloween anymore, some wise person had the idea to put out all of the Garfield holiday programs on DVD. So now my kids enjoy the fat orange cat and his scary adventure with Odie and the pirate ghosts as much as I do! There's nothing like a spooky story featuring the irreplacable Garfield snark...this one's a keeper.
2. Disney's Halloween Treat
Don't know if anyone will remember this one with me, but it's another one I always caught while sorting through my Plastic Pumpkin Bucket O' Booty on Halloween night. It's a "best of" of scary Disney cartoon moments, with such gems as Ichabod Crane's encounter with the Headless Horseman and the incredibly awesome Night on Bald Mountain. I still get the theme song from it stuck in my head at random times. Which isn't actually weird, considering what a wasteland of pop culture trivia my brain is.
3. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Oh, come didn't think I was going to leave it out, did you? I just DVRed this for my kids, like I do every year. It's kind of a bummer...I mean, who gave Charlie Brown a rock in his sack? You know he grew up and needed therapy. But it's cute, regardless, and something I hate to miss.
4. Hocus Pocus
Don't tell me this movie's just for kids...I will have to stick my fingers in my ears and hum loudly. I must watch this movie a dozen times every year with my daughter, and we both love it every time. There's nothing like watching Bette, SJP, and Kathy cast spells, chew scenery, and sing "I Put A Spell On You" for a couple of hours...puts me in a Halloween mood every time!
5. The Nightmare Before Christmas
I love this movie! And last Halloween it was released in 3-D, which was a lot of fun to take my two older kids to. Tim Burton's twisted little tale of Jack, a Pumpkin King with delusions of grandeur, and his misadventure trying to steal another holiday to spice up his life a little, won my heart immediately. The love story woven through the movie (with Sally, of course, the rag doll with nimble fingers and a heart of gold) is a joy to watch, and the songs...well, I annoy the universe with my renditions of "This is Halloween" and "Jack's Lament" every year.
So those are my favorites...I'd love it if you'd share some of yours! Happy Haunting, everyone!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Are We Having Fun Yet?

By: Marie Force
This past weekend, I attended the NJ Romance Writer's annual conference for the first time. The conference was really well done and full of great info. I enjoyed keynote speakers Eloisa James and Lisa Scottoline, who both encouraged us to write from our hearts and our lives, to write what we know and believe to be true. I think that's really important advice, and while we can't always experience what our characters do (hello, never been married to an NFL star my own self), it's essential that we tap into our own wealth of life adventures to bring life to our characters. Last year I wrote a book about a woman who was dealing with the aftermath of her mother's death. I don't think I could've done that story justice before I lost my own mother. I knew exactly how my character felt, what chores she had to deal with, the logistics of probate court and cleaning out her mother's belongings. I still choke up when I read certain parts of that book because it's taken right from real life. Deb and I have been talking about that book, Georgia on My Mind, so I'll keep you posted.

I also attended the editor and agent panels where I learned that contemporary is, in fact, making a comeback in the romance genre. Yay! Hot genres continue to be paranormal and romantic suspense—no surprise there. By far the best part of the conference was visiting with my Casa sisters Robin Kaye, Michele Ann Young and Judi Fennell. Here are Michele, myself and Robin with our books right before the book signing on Saturday:

Judi will be in that picture next year with her mermaid book, In Over Her Head, due out in June. Judi was a true sister and sent a lot of people my way to buy Line of Scrimmage. You're the best, Judi! I'm also the proud recipient of a signed copy of Romeo Romeo, which I positively DEVOURED when I got home on Sunday. I even got up early on Monday (unHEARD of in my world) to read more before work. It's a fantastic book, and I highly recommend it. I wish Robin and I had thought to take a photo with our lovely agent Kevan Lyon, with whom we had a very fun dinner on Saturday night.

During the book signing, a woman approached me to tell me that she had loved Line of Scrimmage so much she read it twice in a row! She even had a gift to thank ME for writing the book. Talk about a pinch me moment. I should've given HER a gift for such a wonderful compliment. Here I am with my new favorite reader, Elise:

As I was downloading the pictures from this weekend, I discovered a few others I'd like to share with you from the LOS whirlwind. Here I am with my BFF Lisa, who also has the distinction of being my daughter's third grade teacher, at my signing at Barnes & Noble, the same store that used to inspire me to wonder why just ONE of those thousands of books couldn't be mine. Well, now one is and another one is on the way! Lisa is wearing the LOS t-shirt I had made for my most ardent supporters so they would stand out at my launch party. She was sick that night and was determined to get to wear that shirt in public, so she came out to be my wing woman at my signing.

Here I am with my father and brother at the signing. My brother even wore his Tom Brady shirt for the occasion! (Oh and if you want to continue to be my friends, don't tell me how cute my brother is! LOL)

Finally, I had to show you the display my new buddy Elena at B&N did for me in the romance section. She is amazing and so supportive. I'm delighted that we have become friends since the book came out.

How awesome is that? Someone asked me this weekend if having my book out has been as cool as I thought it would be. I have to say honestly that it is WAY cooler than I ever imagined. Are we having fun yet? HELL YES!

What do you think of Eloisa and Lisa's advice to write from the heart? To invoke your own life experiences? Can you think of an example of that from your own work?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How I found magic at Barnes and Noble

by Mary Margret Daughtridge

It was the last week in March and I hadn’t received my author’s copies yet, but I figured I would any day because SEALed With A Kiss was slated to be released around April 14.

I was in the local Barnes and Noble. I’m a great believer in the power of visualization so my intention was to go to the romance section and visualize my book there under the D’s. But first I swung by the new release shelf, because I like to see what’s just come in.

When I saw the new release shelf, I was overcome with the weirdest, most swimmy-headed, what’s wrong with this picture feeling I’ve ever had. Finally I realized what was odd was that one of the books on the shelf had a cover all in blue with a hunky guy--just like the cover of my book. Shocked, I read the author’s name. Mary Margret Daughtridge. Same as mine too. Finally the truth dawned. It wasn’t just like my book. It was my book.

But I didn’t think it had been released. Now, I wasn’t sure if I was really seeing it, or if I had finally succumbed to self-induced delusion.

After a while, I got up the courage to touch it, and run my finger over the embossing, and open it and inhale new-book-fresh-ink, and let the truth sink in: my hands were holding my published book. The magic was real.

In the Spring, another SEALed book, SEALed With A Promise, will appear. I will go to Barnes and Noble and there it will be.

I know more about what to visualize these days. Now I don’t only imagine SEALed With A Promise there, I imagine hands picking it up. I visualize a center aisle display. In my mind's eye, I see readers laughing and crying, and feeling so good as they read the last sentence.

But when I try to imagine how I'll feel when I see it on display for the first time...a big grin spreads across my face and once again the only thing I'm sure of is that I'm witnessing magic.

Monday, October 27, 2008


By: Deb Werksman

We had our quarterly meeting at Sourcebooks last week, and I came back with some very interesting data.

Did you know that 93% of books published in 2005 sold fewer than 1000 copies?

And 98% sold fewer than 5000 copies.

At Sourcebooks, we acquire with an eye to selling significantly more than that--10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and above.

Looking at readers, among "heavy users" there's a lot of exploration, so if you are just starting out and have a great "hook" that can get their attention, you can begin to build readership. "Light users" will tend to rely on bestsellers, because they want what's tried and true and they're relying on tastemakers to point them in the right direction. So while there's a "long tail" of many, many titles that sell just a few copies, the bestsellers are still going to outsell the aggregate of the "long tail."

All this argues, once again (my favorite subject) for the strong "hook." It's the hook that's going to sell your book!

Ok, here's what I'm looking for:
*single title romance (includes single title series and trilogies) in all subgenres
*90,000 to 120,000 words
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero she can fall in love with
*a world gets created
*I can sell it in about 2 sentences

Questions? Bring 'em on!!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Vampires, and Werewolves, and Beasties, Oh My!!

Ever since I was young, I loved Dracula. He was suave, sexy, handsome, and …did I mention sexy? When he swept the lady in her beautiful gowns off her feet and made her swoon, when he kissed her and …well, all right, the original story was not enough of a romance story. So now, authors from all over the world have united and brought us the REAL vampire…the one with foibles, a dark hero, not the fiend as portrayed in the original version. With happily ever afters. Sigh… And he’s sexy.
I love vampires, but then I took a turn at writing a sexy werewolf romance. What's not to like about a hunky hero who is protective of the heroine and his friends in either of his forms, from hard and lean to furry and cuddly? Forget the: "I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house down" scenario, unless you're the villain and the werewolf hero is after you. :) Loyal, dependable, wary, independent, strong, and sensitive...and sexy. Yep, gone is the ferocious tyrant of a werewolf who shifts from a human into a hideous-looking wolf-like creature. And now we can enjoy the werewolf romance every bit as much. I can't wait for Don't Cry Wolf to hit the shelves! :) In this story, the gray lupus garous run the town--Silver Town, Colorado and the little red wolf heroine shakes the whole place up as soon as she arrives. :)

I’m looking forward to All Hallows Eve and dressing up for the occasion. Not sure what I’m going to be. Since I work at a library…probably something like the Mad Hatter. So here’s to werewolves, vampires, witches, and other interesting creatures that go bump in the night!

What is your favorite "bedtime" story???

Terry Spear
Heart of the Wolf, Don't Cry Wolf (Mar 1), Betrayal of the Wolf, Allure of the Wolf

Who Would You Want on Your Island?

By: Marie Force

I'm on my way home today from the RWA conference in New Jersey, so I'll check in when I get home late this afternoon. Based on what went on in San Francisco this summer, I'm sure my sides will be aching from spending time with Robin and Judi! I'll be sure to report on the many ways that Robin is sure to misbehave...

Anyway, I was recently interviewed by a blog site and one of the questions they asked really made me think: If you were stranded on a desert island and could choose six heroes from literature and film to be stranded with, who would they be?

Here is my answer: No. 1 would definitely be Roarke from the In Death books! Sigh… the hair, the money, the bod. Yum. If I knew that Richard Gere’s Edward Lewis in Pretty Woman would pick me up in a Lotus I might be tempted to give prostitution a whirl (just kidding). Fr. Ralph from The Thorn Birds movie used to make my heart pound as did Captain Von Trapp from The Sound of Music. Also, get me Kevin Costner from Bull Durham and Dr. McDreamy. I may be shallow, but I’ll be well tended on my island, and it’s always good to have a couple of billionaires, a priest, a naval officer, a baseball player, and a neurosurgeon in the stable since you just never know when you might need one of them.

Who would you want on your island?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jazz and Nick Hang out at the Full Moon Cafe

The ageless woman was the picture of pure goth in her black velvet gown that fit her like a glove, black lace fingerless mitts covering her hands that ended in blood red nails that matched her lipstick. Her dark eyes were lined with kohl pencil and appeared mysterious with their soul-stealing gaze. She sat in the chair as if it was a throne and fingered the tiny microphone clipped to the deep v neckline of her gown. She made a small gesture toward the vampire holding a camera and immediately smiled wide enough to display gleaming white fangs.

“Good evening, my dark of the night viewers. This is Drusilla with After Midnight Broadcasting and tonight we’re at the Full Moon Café with two special guests.

“As you know, we love to hit the nightspots popular with the preternatural community and tonight we were lucky enough to connect with popular witch (a hint of sneer appeared on her perfect features since vampires aren’t too fond of witches no matter how popular they are) and curse eliminator, Jazz Tremaine and private investigator Nick Gregory. The two have been an item for the last 300 odd years. Hopefully, we’ll pick up some tasty tidbits from this couple as we talk to them about their unlives.”

Jazz, muttering – “Tasty tidbits, cute, Dru. And I have a life, thank you very much. Plus I don’t think Coby would appreciate being referred to as having an unlife.”

Dru flashed a hint of fang. “We all are grateful for Coby’s efforts to keep a neutral territory for our communities.”

Nick subtly nudged Jazz with the toe of his boot. She glared back then turned to the television celebrity with a snarky smile that outshone the vampire’s fangy beam.

Drusilla -- “Good evening, Jazz and Nick. It’s so nice to have this chance to talk to you two. Both of you have been so busy lately with adventures that rival anything you might read in a book, that I am truly amazed you’re both in one piece.” She stared at Jazz as if she’d hoped to see disfiguring scars while offering Nick a dazzling smile.

Jazz smiled back, definitely more venom showing. “Thanks for asking us, Dru.” She inwardly cheered at the vampire’s slightly pained expression since Drusilla preferred her full name used. Jazz looked warily at Nick’s coffee mug – “There’s no AB-neg in there, is there? Because I’m not even going to sit at the same table with you if you added something to it.”

Nick – looking a trifle pained – “No, just straight coffee and I’m not sharing. If you want more coffee, ask Coby for a refill.”

Jazz – looking put upon – “He’ll come over here faster for you.”

Nick – raises voice – “Coby? Could Jazz have some more coffee please?”

The Were owner of the café, along with being a powerful pack leader for the area, walks over with the pot and tops off both mugs, but topping off Nick’s first. He ignored Drusilla’s wine glass that held a ruby red liquid that was more O-Pos than a nice Bordeaux.

Jazz – “Uh, ladies first?”

Coby – “Only when I see a lady.” He walks away.

Jazz – “Everyone picks on the witches.” Raises voice. “You wouldn’t have wards around this place if it wasn’t for us.”

Coby – calling back – “Wizards set them up, sweetheart.”

Nick – chuckles – “No, they just pick on you because you’re so much fun to pick on.”

Drusilla, determines to keep control of the interview. “You two have been together for the last 300 years. Exactly sow did you two meet?”

Nick – “I worked for the Protectorate at the time and was chasing down a Comte in Venice that was a rogue vampire. Jazz was working for him as a personal maid for his wife.”

Jazz – “The woman was a major slob.”

Nick – “Jazz was also accused of stealing the Comte’s wife’s jewels and was to be tortured as punishment. He loved to inflict major pain on his servants for the least infraction. Jazz was very lucky since I saved her from his whip.”

Jazz, shaking her head and rolling her eyes – “He called it a whip. I called it a speck of thread that a woman wouldn’t look at twice. Not to mention if he’d tried burying his fangs in me he would have been in for a big surprise. A witch’s blood being poisonous to a vampire is a definite plus.”

Nick – Then perhaps I should have let him bite you. It would have saved me having to destroy him.”

Jazz – coos – “Ah, but then you couldn’t have saved the poor innocent little maid, could you?”

Nick shot her a look that indicated he didn’t view her all that innocent.

Drusilla cut in before she lost total control of the interview – “Tell me something, Nick. What do you feel is Jazz’s best quality? After all, witches and vampires don’t get along for many good reasons. Why would you have a relationship with her this long when it’s known vampires are the far superior race.”

Jazz – hackles now up – “Hey!”

Nick – ignoring the mini tantrum -- “One thing you have to say about Jazz is that she’s loyal to her friends to the extreme. She’s there to help out no matter what. But if you cross her, watch out, because she cannot only eliminate curses she can call up some doozies. And one of her closest friends specializes in revenge curse. Not to mention Fluff and Puff, her magick bunny slippers are good at getting even on her behalf.”

Jazz points her finger at him. “One time. Just the one.”

Nick – “They were my favorite boots and they turned them into leather jerky!”

Drusilla automatically checked out her black satin Christian Louboutin pumps. If her lungs worked she would have drawn a breath of relief there were no fuzzy bunny slippers near her toes.

Jazz frowns at Nick. “You could have said I’m gorgeous, sexy, even smell good.”

Nick – “That’s a given.”

Drusilla – “And Jazz, what do you see as Nick’s best quality?”

Jazz – sipping her coffee and nibbling on a piece of chocolate cream pie Coby left for her – “It’ll sound schmaltzy, but he really is an all around good guy. I know for a fact he was an excellent enforced for the Protectorate, but as far as I’m concerned, he’s an even better private investigator for preternaturals. Creatures know they can count on him to get the job done.”

Nick chuckles – “She’s such a romantic.”

Jazz chimes in -- “Don’t ask me what he doesn’t like about me.”

Drusilla – very interested in that statement -- “Why not?”

Jazz – “I probably wouldn’t like what he’d have to say.”

Nick ignores her – without hesitation – “Stubborn, tends to act without thinking, she inserts fashionably shod foot in mouth on a regular basis, has pissed off at least one member in every community, … “

Coby speaks up -- “You got that right.”

Jazz – “Hey! Our interview, not yours. You want to be interviewed flash those pearly fangs at Drusilla and maybe she’ll slot in you at the next full moon.”

Nick – nods – “’Nuff said about her attitude. But her good qualities do overtake the bad.”

Jazz, outraged – “I don’t have any bad qualities!”

Nick – burying his nose in his coffee – “And the witch’s nose grows yet again.”

Jazz automatically touches her nose and finds it the same pert size it was before.

Jazz – “Fine, I love you because you do what’s right, you refuse to allow anyone, even me, to push you around, you are sexy as Hades, you look out for the little guy whether he’s vamp or even a troll, which, by the way, I wouldn’t assist for all the gold in the world. Nasty little guys.” She forks up a bite of pie and stuffs her mouth. “But there are times I wish you’d talk more.”

Nick – “About what?”

Jazz – “Everything.” She gives him THE LOOK as in you know very well what I mean. “Everything’s going so well for us now.”

Drusilla, still struggling to control the interview and seeing it swept out of her hands. “Lately, the two of you have been in the supernatural news for destroying a serial killer of vampires and later on for killing a powerful wizard along with working to protect Fluff and Puff.” She glances around with a wary look as if saying their names would conjure them up. “They’re not here with you, are they?”

Jazz – “No, they’re home. Or at least, they should be.”

Drusilla continues to look around, just in case. Her shoes were new and she meant to keep them that way for as long as possible. “Do you really believe it’s safe for you to go against such powerful beings? You’re just one witch and while Nick is very strong, is it all right to expect his assistance so much?”

Jazz – “We’re here and they’re not. That’s good enough for me.” She stared at her now empty plate, obviously considering a second piece.

Nick – “We do make a good team.” He made eye contact with Coby and the Were brought over another helping of pie. Jazz flashed him a dazzling smile, but Coby didn’t smile back.

Jazz – digging into her pie – “Still, you’d think after 300 years we’d be, well, more together.”

Drusilla, looking at them both – “Together how?”

Nick – “Hard to do when you threaten to stake me.”

Jazz – ready to defend herself – “I only do that when you state you’d rather I was on the other side of the universe.”

Nick – “If you wouldn’t get into trouble so much I wouldn’t have to bail you out.”

Jazz – “Excuse me? You never bail me out! You’re always having me thrown in jail instead on some trumped up charge!”

Nick – “It’s the only way I can keep your cute little ass safe!”

Jazz opens her mouth then closes it again – “So you do think it’s cute and little.”

Nick – sighs – “Yes, even when you’re a pain in mine. Maybe there’s a story there. I’m meant to keep you out of trouble.”

Jazz – “I never get into trouble! Well, okay a few times. All right, more than a few, but I can get myself out of it without any help.”

Nick – shakes head as he gets up – “You keep that up and pretty soon your nose will be dragging on the ground.”

Jazz makes sure there’s no pie left on the plate as she hops to her feet. “What is this with my nose! Sure, I’ve had my bad days, but I’ve never been a wooden puppet!” She waits while Nick pays the bill then they head to the door as if they’d forgotten that a stunned Drusilla still sat in her chair.

Nick -- could be heard to say -- “Maybe you should have been a puppet. Then when need be you could be locked in a box.”

Jazz – hot on his heels – “You keep thinking that way and you’ll be sleeping alone for a couple centuries!”

Nick – flashes her a hot look that even includes a hint of fang – “I love it when you threaten me.” He hooks his arm around her neck and pulled her toward him for a kiss that heated up the whole area.

Drusilla stands up, adjusting her gown and saunters over to Coby. – “Jazz and Nick are very definitely an odd couple. What about you, Coby? Is it really true that the Full Moon Café is neutral territory?”

Coby shrugs as he idly wipes off the counter – “Most of the time.”

What about you? What would you ask Jazz and Nick? Could you keep control of the interview better than Drusilla did or would you just let them go on in hopes of hearing way more than they might want to let on?

And since the Hex books have been optioned for pitching to TV and feature films, would you ask how they feel about that?


Friday, October 24, 2008


How’s that for a hook? (And, yes, I do giggle every time I use the word “hook” in a context other than sea-related, why do you ask?)

As you can see, I got my book cover, and, to celebrate, I just had to put it on my NEW website. And of course, you can’t launch a new website AND a new cover without something stupendous, so….

Go to and see all about my promotional contest for my Mer books. You can win one of THREE romantic getaways at Bed & Breakfasts in the areas where my stories are set.

The Atlantis Inn ( in Ocean City, NJ and the Hibiscus House ( in West Palm Beach, FL have joined with me to offer you a two-night stay at their beautiful resorts. You can see all the rules and beautiful pictures, as well as be able to register at ( . We’re working on having local restaurants chime in, maybe a spa or two…one never knows. And, who knows, I might just pull a few names here and there for some other “sea” themed things.

And for the requisite blog question – I’ll take all opinions about Reel and the rest of the cover. But let me answer my friend Joanne’s right up front: No I don’t know him and what would your husband say if you met him?

Thursday, October 23, 2008


One of the questions I get asked the most about my writing is "Where do you get your ideas?"
I wish I could answer, "I stock up when they put them on sale at Wal-mart." Wouldn't that be great? A ready supply of fresh ideas available on your pantry shelf whenever you needed one?
Unfortunately, creativity doesn't work that way. In fact the question of how the seeds of stories develop into fleshed out characters and plots is a pretty big mystery even to me. How do I do it? It just comes– or not, as the case may be– at unexpected moments.
Where inspiration comes from is an easier question. Ideas are everywhere, and I never know when I'll cross paths with one and plant it in my brain to nurture and take root.
I feed my ideas with music. Sometimes it is just the melody or mood of a song that will stir the creative juices. Other times a line of lyrics will trigger an onslaught of story ideas or character history. I think music, being another media born of the right side of the brain, serves as a prime to the creative well. Just the mood of Evanescence's Bring Me To Life helped me write the climax scene of TO LOVE, HONOR AND DEFEND. A tense, bass-driving version of Carol of the Bells conjured ideas for a new book I'm working on.
But while I can coax ideas out of hiding with a movie soundtrack, other ideas spring out of the shadows and yell "Surprise!" when I'm not paying attention. Many times while I'm driving, I'll see something on the side of the road that triggers a "what if..." series of questions to roll through my mind. Whole novels have started for me from a single sighting. A hitchhiker spurred CHASING A DREAM, and an inmate transport van evolved into IN PROTECTIVE CUSTODY, even though the transport van never made it to the final incarnation of that story.
I've had dreams that stayed with me and elements of those dreams later became the basis for a book. I've sat down and pulled ideas out of the air, structuring a story around characters that intrigued me. I developed the plot line for DUTY TO PROTECT and my upcoming release TALL DARK DEFENDER because I wanted to craft a story for characters that I felt deserved a happy end. Necessity was the mother of invention for those books.
I really can't remember the inspiration for my upcoming Sourcebooks release SECOND CHANCES (September 2009). It probably had something to do with my love of the Florida Gulf coast, my fondness for Beauty and the Beast plots, and the appeal of writing about a family of hunky men. (Wink) I do remember my heroine Abby wanted nothing to do with my original concept for her character. She had her own ideas about who she was and what her temperament would be. She quickly showed me her true sassy colors and changed the tone of the book I'd intended to write. Turns out she was right. Luke needed a woman with plenty of grit and cheek to stand up to him and fire his desire.
So while I know inspiration can come from anywhere or anything, how those ideas evolve and change is a process I can't explain. But then I don't want to explain it. Understanding the process might just ruin the magic and break the spell....
Have a great day! Beth Cornelison

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interview with a Regency Lady

by Michele Ann Young

I thought I might ask my heroine, Lucinda Graham, to talk to us today. Graham is not her real last name, but since there a couple of people who she would prefer not to find her, I don't want give her real identity away.

Michèle: Welcome to the Casablanca blog, Lucinda. I understand your story will be in stores any day now and then the whole truth will come out, but in the meantime, perhaps you could tell us a bit about your story?

Lucinda: Who is this us? And why are you wearing, (peeks at the interviewers legs) pantaloons?

Michèle: Actually these are called jeans or pants.

Lucinda: They certainly look very comfortable. But doesn’t your husband get all hot and bothered seeing your legs, like that?

Michèle: Well yes they do look rather good.... Can we please get back on topic? The us I spoke of are your readers. People who care about you.

Lucinda: And they won’t tell my husband where I am?

Michèle: Believe me, women today are very good at helping other women flee men who think they are lords.

Lucinda: What did you want to know?

Michèle: Well, you are what some people call today a plus-sized woman, you know ample, generously curved. Did you get teased growing up?

Lucinda: I’d like to see anyone tease me, when I have four enormous brothers. And besides my whole family is large. Tall and handsomely proportioned. No, all my troubles started after I got married. For some reason, it was then my husband started complaining about my weight and wanting me to change. I think part of the problem came when he saw people looking at us, because he is rather skinny and I am an inch or too taller than he is. (sigh) Why he couldn’t have discovered that before we were married I don’t know. Too busy counting my money, I think.

Michèle: So you left him?

Lucinda: It was a bit of a risk, really. I had the small fund my father settled on me when I married, and I’d invested it, pretending to be a widow. I did quite well. When D- my husband indicated he wanted me to be his hostess at a horrid country house party with all his dissipated friends and hinted there would be fun and games behind closed doors, other people’s closed doors, I decided enough was enough. I found this nice little house in Kent and here I am, quiet as a mouse.

Michèle: And who is this? (Looks down at a little blonde-haired blue-eyed girl tugging on Lucinda’s skirt).

Lucinda: This is my daughter, Sophia.

Michèle: Gasps. You took your child with you? I bet your husband isn’t pleased about that.

Lucinda: (Blinks moisture from her eyes.) Oh, no. Sadly I can’t have children of my own. Another reason I was out of favor. I found Sophia on the street in London on my way here. We’ve been together ever since. (She puts her arm around the child’s thin shoulders and gives her a hug.) Haven’t we pet?

Sophia: (Pops her finger in her mouth and nods.)

Michèle: I hear your landlord is back from the wars.

Lucinda: (Looking worried.) Yes. He’s a big bear of a man. Taller than me and very handsome in a rugged sort of way. Every time he looks at me I get this funny feeling in my stomach. But he’s a sad case. Very unsociable. I keep trying to get him involved in the community. Get him out of his shell, as it were, but he’s not cooperating at all. He keeps trying to get me alone with him. (Shakes her head.) He seems very taken with my figure. (blush) I really must go. Sophia needs her tea. And I promised the vicar I would help him organize the village fête. (She bobs a little curtsey takes the child by the hand and strides away through the forest, her skirts swaying to the movement of her hips.)

Michèle: Well there you have it, readers. She might have fled. But she seems to have found a new life here deep in the Kent countryside. I have the feeling, she shouldn’t get too complacent. That husband of hers is not a man to take her disappearance lightly.

If you want to know how it all works out, the book should be in a store near you very soon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fantasy Favorites

By Sharon Lathan

I have long since accepted the twist of fate that brought me to the world of romance and have learned to laugh at the irony that this life-long reader of fantasy and sci-fi is now writing sappy stories of happily-ever-after! Vague twinges of guilt remain when folks mention popular romance authors with an awed respect that I could only honestly muster if suddenly face-to-face with JRR Tolkien or Isaac Asimov, but gradually I am being educated. Still, I can’t deny that when I curl up with a good book, I grab for something more in the sword-and-sorcery genre – after I finish reading all of the Casablanca novels that is. To honor my first love - and figuring some of you weirdoes who write about sexy alien-cats, vampire and witch affairs, and time traveling dragons might just know a little about what I am saying – I shall pay homage to my fav fantasy writers.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Yep, the grandpa and master of all modern fantasy. No debate. I read The Hobbit when I was 12 and never looked back. I fell in love with fantasy while trekking through Middle Earth with Bilbo and those dwarves, and have read everything Tolkien wrote more times than I can count. And don’t even get me started on my obsession with the movies! Truly scary stuff and my house eerily resembles an LOTR shrine. Tolkien created the most amazing fantasy world with history, poetry, characters, and mythology that is beyond compare.

David Eddings: After the good Professor, Eddings’ world and characters are the best around, IMHO. The 10 novels that comprise The Belgariad and The Mallorean are a sumptuous treat. The world is wildly diverse, the magic unique, the wealth of characters phenomenal, the mythology complex, the quests exciting, and the reigning sorcerer (Belgarath) one of the best ever created. Yes, he gives Gandalf a run for his money! Serious story, but also extremely humorous and entertaining. A must-read for anyone who loves fantasy.

Anne McCaffrey: Her Pern series seems to be never-ending, but her created dragons are the very best. The later novels gradually mix in larger and larger doses of sci-fi to the pure fantasy of the original books, but everything written is great. Start with Dragonflight, then Dragonquest, and then The White Dragon. Plus, tinges of romance in these books with more than a few folks gettin’ lucky!

Mary Stewart: Right after I read The Hobbit my sister turned me on to what would become a long passionate affair with all things Arthurian. Over time I would read dozens of novels about those chivalrous knights of merry old England with Merlin the Wizard pulling the strings, including Geoffrey of Monmouth and Sir Thomas Mallory. But, Stewart’s version – The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment – remain my favorites.

Raymond Feist: Begin with The Riftwar Saga trilogy and move on from there. All of them are fabulous and it is a huge saga that is still ongoing. Another terrific wizard, Pug/Milambar, and a well-developed world. In fact, two worlds as we are dealing with rifts between universes here. Honorable mention to Feist’s only non-Midkemia novel, Faerie Tale – you will never think of fairies in the same way!

Terry Brooks: Between the Shannara books (including the Word & Void series) and the Landover series, Brooks will keep one busy for years. All are truly excellent, even if the first Shannara (The Sword of...) treads a bit close to Tolkien’s heels.

Barbara Hambly: Way too many to mention, but some of the best time-travel/multi-universe stuff out there. Tends to be very dark, but really great. Along with the requisite wizards and warriors, she also writes vampires and dragons. Frequently blends sci-fi and modern technology in with her fantasy in unique ways, and has even contributed to the Star Wars and Star Trek mythos.

Terry Pratchett: Insane! His Discworld is the oddest place ever envisioned and inhabited with the most bizarre collection of misfits created. I challenge you not to laugh, and to not fall in love with Death. Can’t happen.

More-than-honorable mentions: Terry Goodkind, JK Rowling, Stephen King (the Gunslinger series), Robin Hobb, Katherine Kurtz, and Fred Saberhagen. Anybody else read fantasy or sci-fi? Who are your favorite writers?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Love of Language

By Malena Lott
Ramona, my protagonist in Dating da Vinci introduced herself to me in waves. First, as a grieving widow. I felt empathy for her immediately. And raising two boys on her own? As a mother of three who depends on her hubby mightily to share the load, I admired her courage just to get out of bed each day. Yet, as we moms know, that’s what we do: whatever it takes.

Her passion for teaching English to immigrants at the Panchal Center for Diversity was a pleasant surprise. I loved that she held on to her passion for teaching and language when her world had crumbled around her. In fact, her teaching was the one place where she felt comfortable. She was now like them – outsiders desperately wanting in. She was as lost as they were.

Yet I wanted her reaching for something more and I liked the idea of her being a student at the University of Texas, too. She had put her dissertation on the “Language of Love” on hold after her husband Joel died, for obvious reasons. In searching for joy again, she resumes the dissertation to get her doctorate in linguistics.

I don’t recall consciously deciding that this should be her occupation, but when a character lives within you, the ideas almost “appear” when you aren’t expecting them. The pieces began to fit, and I liked the idea of someone who can speak so many languages and have such a love of language and yet not feel that she can – or should- express herself anymore. What happens when words lose their meaning? And when it comes to love, are words meaningless? She explores these questions and more on her search for la vita allegro, joyful living.

In the book, Ramona shares her favorite words. As a writer and/or reader, what are your very favorite words? What words do you dislike? Share yours and I’ll share mine…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Small Wonders

It's been an interesting few weeks for me. I've been across the country and back, lived in a couple different houses, driven up and down the Eastern Seaboard (not for fun, sadly), uprooted the kids, and now, finally, have gotten my husband and myself and the kids and pets all in one place, in one state, and am settling in. It's not perfect yet, but with every box unpacked, every beloved knicknack placed, I can feel myself relaxing. Getting comfy. Every laugh from the kids, every precious item appearing in a place that it will come to inhabit, is a small wonder for me, letting me know we're headed the right way. That everything is going to be just fine.

It's been like that with writing, at least for me. My path to publication, in the great scheme of things, was pretty fast. So there's been a lot of learning along the way for me, and with the rush of three books in two years, it's taken some time for me to start settling in. You get comfy. Though the dizzying excitement of that first sale, the first cover, the first sighting on a bookshelf, has faded to warm pride and pleasure, and though it would be (and sometimes is) easy to get more focused on the stress of production and deadlines than on just enjoying being creative, I still find that my journey into writerdom, if that's actually a word, is marked with the occasional shining gem of a thing that reminds me how cool this all is. Just when I need it, it always seems like some small wonder or other will turn up, either teaching me something new, or helping a little of that Brand New Author glow return...or both.

As you might have guessed, I had one of those moments today. I was combing through my email, entering my newsletter subscriptions into my contacts, smiling over a sweet email that a reader had sent me, when I realized two things: since Dark Highland Fire was released just a few weeks ago, I've been flooded with newsletter subscriptions. And every last one of my reader emails this months has been asking what's next in the series, and when they'll be able to get it.

Stupid though it sounds, it dawned on me, all of a sudden, that I am developing a readership. Not just a few people picking up the book on a whim, actual readership. People who look for books with my name on them. People who might like to know what I'm doing. Like...with that newsletter I hadn't quite figured out what to do with yet! So I spent the afternoon fussing and fiddling, and came up with a nice newsletter to send to this groups of lovely people who enjoy my writing, and who sometimes send me notes letting me know. I made plans to update my website AGAIN with more review quotes and a new blurb for the upcoming book, even though I just updated a few weeks ago. And I let myself bask a little in that small wonder that these have become necessary things...because now there are readers out there who actually notice.

It's just a little thing, I suppose, but for me, some of the most wonderful moments in my career thus far have been when the abstract becomes real: a letter from a fan, an awesome review, and of course, just picking up my own book in a bookstore and holding it in my hands. Today's simple realization of a nicely growing career let me catch a little of my New Author Glow back once again. I think I'm headed the right way...and everything is going to be just fine:-)

What are some of your own small wonders, the little things that have meant a lot to you?


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blogger's Block

Ah, another blank blog page to fill. You wouldn't think it would be that hard for a writer, but perhaps what I'm experiencing is blogger's block! Whoa! think I just coined a phrase there.... but perhaps I'm not the first. This blog will ramble, because that's what I do when I'm blocked. I just keep writing. You're seeing the process right here in black and white, I think. See, now I've changed the color! Might stimulate some brain cells. Though, as it happens, I prefer blue. Songs have been known to help when I'm writing romance novels, but blogging is another story altogether! A good, sexy man might help, let's see...whoops! There he is!!!! He turned me rather green with envy for whoever gets ANYTHING with him! I found him a while back and have been looking for a place to use him. Helps to have a stable of studs to help you out, don't you think? My hero!!!!
I think I'll use this nice lavender for a while. Sort of romantic, don't you think?
You see, there's a spot on a man that just DOES something to me. That place just above his belt loop. Don't know why, just like it for some reason. He has other good qualities, too, and I think he would make a good Zetithian--he's already almost got the eyebrows. Not too beefy, more cat-like. Yeah, he's perfect. Cover of Lover, here we come!
As it happens, I'm in the process of rewriting Lover. Lynx, the main character, needs a friend, I think. Perhaps a Norludian, or a Twilanan. I just love coming up with weird species names. That's one of the fun things about SciFi, you can do anything you want. If I want a woman with a snout like a rhino, I can do that. The only limit is my imagination, which sometimes seems to have no limits. It's the best mental exercise there is, and so many people don't use theirs. Very sad, I think, but I guess that's part of my job as a writer: I stimulate the imagination for them.

See, not blocked anymore at all!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Budgeting your Books

by Danielle Jackson

On Tuesday, The New York Observer posted this article about the current economic struggles and publishing—what does this mean for romance publishing in particular? It’s something I’ve been thinking about and that Sourcebooks has been thinking about, as we head into the winter months and begin pushing for holiday sales.

While “budget” has become a buzz word in almost every workplace, and even in the home, Romance Fiction continues to be a booming industry. People are searching for an escape from these hard time and many turn to romance fiction—in particular mass market romance fiction—to lift their spirits. RWA reports that Romance fiction generated $1.375 billion in sales in 2007, so people are out there, eagerly reading!

I know you are all committed to doing whatever it takes to make your books be as successful as they possibly can. We’re a great team, with an awesome and dynamic new romance line bringing fresh voices, new ideas and interesting books that don’t follow the rules to an audience searching for something truly entertaining.

As many of you know, I’ve been guest blogging up a storm at a few places, and answering as many questions as I can along with them (the lovely Romance Bandits asked so many! And they were such good questions, too!)—but one question that came up quite a bit was what should author money be spent on. I would love to be able to say that Sourcebooks can pay for EVERYTHING—but, alas! I cannot. Here’s a short list of things to consider:

1) WEBSITE: Other than your books, I think this is the next thing that readers associate with you and your work. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your site professionally done (unless you have a family member who does this professionally and will do it for free) and pay them. I’m not totally current on the prices for such things, but I do think by doing some research on other author sites and seeing who they used and making numerous inquiries, you’ll be able to find a great person to put together an lovely site for you!

2) PROMOTIONAL MATERIALS: This is something that Sourcebooks will pay for, but within reason. I think postcards are a great tool, whether you mail them or you hand them out or you stick them on grocery store bulletin boards, etc.—they have more room for information, praise, etc. However, some people like bookmarks, some people like business cards, some people like fliers… To each her own! I know many of you have business cards already, and the beauty of this is that there are sometimes programs on computers that can help you do this—you just need the right kind of card stock and a printer! However, there are businesses that print these materials, and if you buy in bulk, they are quite economical.

3) TRAVEL: Now, I know you all are waiting for me to call you up and say “We’re sending you on a 10 city book tour!” but that might not happen just yet. I do encourage reaching out to your local bookstores, specifically independent bookstores, to do events (but Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. are also great!). Store managers are the nicest people, and if you simply walk in and say, I’m a local author and I’m interested in setting up a signing, the managers will generally know the right way to go about doing things. The worst thing they can do is say no, and then you just move on to the next store! Another idea that I know some of the Casa ladies are discussing is having group signings—whether it’s with fellow Casablanca authors or authors in your same genre or authors in your RWA Chapter, many stores are impressed to see a group of 3 or 4 authors come together to promote their books at the same time. If a store needs to contact someone at your publisher, you can give them my email and office phone number!

Any other questions that you have when it comes to budget? I might not be a money managing expert (I have bought far too many new pairs of shoes in the last month), but I do know a great team of publicists that will help in any way!

Better yet—what are some interesting ideas you’ve had while promoting that really worked (or didn’t) to reach a broader audience?

Happy weekend!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How I Write

People have often asked how I write. I tell them I usually use a computer. Although, when I get stuck, I’ve been known to pick up a notebook and write longhand. But that’s not what they meant when they asked. When I thought about it, I realized I use a soundtrack in my writing and my life.

I’ve always been a total music junkie. I have over 10,000 songs on iTunes and am never without my iPod. I’d sooner forget my phone than my iPod. I can live without the phone, but I don’t think I could live without my music.

Music and literature have made more of an impact on my life than anything else. Maybe it’s because I moved around so much as a kid. Music and literature were my only constants. As long as I had my books and my albums with me, I was home. Yeah, I know, I’m showing my age.

Music has given my life a timeline—I can tell you in which of my 30+ childhood homes I lived when a particular song was popular. For instance, I know I lived on Minna Street in Brooklyn when my uncle used to hang out with me and play the 5th Dimension album with “Up, Up, and Away” on it over and over. I was in the Hamptons for the summer with my father when Captain and Tenille came out with “Love Will Keep Us Together” the most annoying song I can remember. Hearing the name alone insures it will be running through my head for hours. I apologize to anyone who has the same problem. I could give you an million more examples, but you get the picture.

My obsession with music grew. In high school I picked up the guitar, wrote depressing songs, and dated musicians. Eventually, I began working in the music industry, managing a singer/songwriter and his band. He’s since written number one songs for several heavy-hitting country singers and has a few platinum records to his name.

Is it any surprise, then, that each of my books has its own soundtrack? It serves as a timeline of sorts. It keeps me in my story. I still listen to the soundtrack of my first book and when I do, I’m pulled back into my story. With each song, I know where in the story it fits. The soundtrack is fabulous. Unfortunately, the book, like most first books, will probably never see the light of day.
Romeo, Romeo has a soundtrack that’s eclectic, to say the least. Death Cab For Cutie’s “Coney Island” rolls into Lou Monte’s “Please Mr. Columbus (turn the ship around).” The Pussycat Dolls’ “Sway,” Kristy MacColl’s “Fairytale of New York,” Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That A Kick In The Head,” Avi Vinocur’s “L-Train,” The Cranberries, James Taylor, Norah Jones, Landon Pigg, Ben Taylor…the list goes on.

All the songs have one thing in common—they remind me of Brooklyn and Manhattan. They bring me back to my Sicilian grandparent’s dining room table. I listen, and it’s as if I’m magically transported to Park Slope, into my characters’ heads. I can see touch, feel, hear, smell, and absorb the energy of the city. It comes alive. And then I write.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Romantic Horrors

Posted by Christina Harlin

My favorite holiday is coming! Each Halloween I indulge one of my great weaknesses: the horror movie. Looking over my list of possible rentals for this year, I noticed that romance and horror don’t often mix. Of all the scary movies I’ve seen, very few of them contain a memorable love story. Horror movies are typically anti-romantic, as scares come from people being estranged, alone, or betrayed. After all, it’s kind of hard to make an audience feel terrified when there is a sexy romance cooking up. And these days, as often as not, a movie-couple’s romance can be destroyed by that perpetual deal-breaker: one of them ends up trying to kill the other. Ah well.

To celebrate Halloween, horror and romance, I’ve made another list! These are some scary-movie romances I have found memorable.

Poltergeist (1982). Now considered a classic, this haunted-house-in-suburbia movie is famous for the snow-screened tv set, the diminutive psychic, the scary-as-hell clown doll and little Carol Ann’s “They’re heee-eeere.” Easy to forget that the parents of the household, played by Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams, are a loving, happily married couple who never stoop to blaming or bickering when their lives are turned upside down. They support each other to the end, fight for the safety of their children, and act as a unit in all things. One of the best portrayed movie marriages I have ever seen, and done effortlessly.

Tremors (1990). A horror/comedy masterpiece, and one of my favorite movies, Tremors’ simple plot isolates a small town of lovable oddballs with some underground maneating monsters and lets the fun happen. The aimless slacker Val, played so nicely by Kevin Bacon, has a stereotypical image of the perfect girl and it ain’t grad-student Rhonda, who is brainy and brave, and keeps up with the guys step-for-step in saving their necks. What these two have in common, I’m not sure, but their chemistry is a delight, and the movie knows it. You can tell by the ending shot.

The Frighteners (1996). An early effort by Peter Jackson, this movie has some mixed reviews. I liked it a lot because it is imaginative and entertaining. Michael J. Fox plays a man who can “see dead people” thanks to his own near-death experience when he lost his wife. Now a grief-stricken, guilt-ridden con artist, he plays at exorcisms until an afterlife threat strikes his home town. He becomes tentatively involved with a beautiful widow whose own husband was a victim. Their romance is underplayed, but each strikes a chord in the other, and she can obviously heal his broken heart.

Near Dark (1987). A cult classic, this is a modern-day vampire tale. A young man, played by Adrian Pasdar, is smitten with and then bitten by a lovely sweet vampire who runs with a very tough crowd through the skanky bars of the southwest. He must gain acceptance by her murderous group and then he must find a way to rescue them both; understandably he is not thrilled about the notion of taking lives. Fun and gory, worth watching for the appearances of Lance Henrikson and Bill Paxton.

The Company of Wolves (1984). Another love-it-or-hate it movie, this early Neil Jordan film is one of the best fairy-tales I’ve ever seen filmed. It’s a hodgepodge of werewolf stories, with a great Little Red Riding Hood retelling at its core. There is no specific romance, or maybe there is, if you like your coming-of-age tales to be extremely Freudian. The atmosphere is really the most romantic thing about it, highly charged with the sexual curiosity of a young woman faced with a very, very dangerous man.

Dracula (1979). Frank Langella. Is. The. Hottest. Dracula. Ever. Nuff said.

Wolf (1994). Another imperfect movie, but Jack Nicholson and Michele Pfeiffer have a powerful love story in the midst of the hoopla: she’s an ice princess, he’s a nice guy who is also a werewolf, and you can totally believe that they would find each other irresistible.

Tale of a Vampire (1992). Some folks find this vampire romance starring the prettier-than-his-costar Julian Sands to be dull, but I liked its centuries-spanning love story. Julian is a lonely vampire who once had his true love stolen from him; now in modern days he finds her lookalike and does his best to win her—though his seduction skills are a bit on the toothy and unpracticed side. Enter into the picture a mysterious troublemaker who is determined to thwart their odd romance. Very atmospheric and sexy, and a good bet for anglophiles.

Let me know what you think. Let me know of any I have forgotten. Then, go out and rent some scary movies!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Secret Writers' Creed and Other Tall Tales

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

Not long ago, Aunty Cindy and Marie were sharing a cyber-cup of tea and discussing The Wild Sight (Marie enthusiastically holds two thumbs up in endorsement). Just about the time the discussion got lively, a couple of the characters from TWS also happened by. Thought you might like to listen in:

Marie: In The Wild Sight, you have two things you don't often see in a romance: a hero and heroine who, for a while, think they might be brother and sister, and a man with "the Sight." Tell me how you decided to take these risks with your story and if you think they made the book easier or more difficult to sell.

AC: Well, technically the hero never believes she's his sister since he is instantly attracted to her. She suffers some real angst for awhile, however. (evil grin) I knew this possible siblings angle would be a make or break issue for the book. Luckily my critique partners were very supportive and told me, "Can't wait to see how you get around this obstacle."

Giving a male character "the Sight" was the concept that started the whole story! I couldn't recall seeing any books or stories with a male character who was clairvoyant and I thought the idea intriguing enough to write an entire book with that character. Did it make the book easier or more difficult to sell? I honestly don't know.

Marie: You said that your critique partners said of the possible sibling conflict in TWS: "Can't wait to see how you get around this obstacle." I love those challenges presented to us as writers! Is there anything more fun than a big, hairy pickle with no way out? Ahem, realizing there's any number of ways you could answer that question (evil grin) and knowing how my Aunty's evil, twisted mind works, we will move on from big, hairy pickles...

(Aunty snaps her riding crop and frowns imperiously) AC: DECORUM PLEASE! Obviously Aunty only likes big hairy pickles when they happen to her characters. As for Aunty's evil, twisted mind, need I remind you of my sub-genre? I dare say, evil and twisted are requirements for romantic suspense.

Marie: Okay Aunty, your character, Donovan O'Shea (a YUMMY name for a YUMMY guy) has a few questions for you, so I hope you don't mind putting down that intimidating crop and giving the lad a few minutes of your time.

Donovan: Hello, Loucinda. I hear our book is out for everyone to read. Rylie and I are looking forward to hearing what people think of our story. So here's a question for you. I love being a swashbuckling Irishman taking on the evil lurking in the fens. That's definitely "me." What I can't picture is my life as an accountant in New Jersey. (Marie interjects to say: That career made me snort a little snort as our fearless Donovan tried to convince Rylie that accounting is in fact sexy) So I ask you, dear Loucinda, how did you decide to make me an accountant?

AC: Need I remind you of Irish guilt, m'dear? When you moved to America at the ripe old age of 17, you didn't have so much as a punt to your name. Remember? And remember who took you in, gave you a bed to sleep in, and food to eat? Your Aunt Fiona and her husband Uncle Isadore. (Donovan looks thoughtful and squirms a little.)

You were a struggling college student who was studying art, of all the guaranteed to result in a "Do you want fries with that?" career! Then along about the end of your second year, when your uncle gave you a summer job in his accounting firm, you got smart. That plus your uncle telling you that you were the closest to a son he would ever have led to a change in your major. (Donovan squirms a bit more.)

Aunty can understand how being twitter-pated with a beautiful girl might lead to memory loss, but is any of this starting to sound familiar to you? Besides, I happen to think accountants can be very sexy! Don't you agree, Rylie?

Rylie chimes in... Yes, Aunty, I agree that some accountants can be very sexy! Whenever Donovan gets out his calculator and spreadsheets, I get all, um, hot and bothered. And he has these glasses....sigh.... (Aunty and Marie's eyes start to glaze over.)
Anyway, I have to say, Aunty, I was a little worried when you taunted me with the possibility that Donovan might be my brother. I was reallllly relieved when I could jump him guilt-free! (She gives Donovan The Look.)

When you were writing our story, what came first for you, the plot or the characters?

AC: Plot? There was a plot? Sorry, but Aunty tends not to notice such superficial things when there's a hunk with a brogue on the scene.

Marie (fans self): Did someone mention hot and bothered?

Donovan: Yes, Aunty, Rylie and I spent a lot of time HOT and BOTHERED in The Wild Sight. That was a pretty hot scene in the car the night we spent broken down by the side of the road... although I was seriously frustrated after that near miss. (He gives Rylie The Look.) Why do you writers feel so compelled to torture your characters the way you do?

AC: Donovan, dear boy, it is all part of the Secret Writers' Creed, Thou Shalt Torture Thy Characters at every available opportunity. At least in a romance you know (as does the reader) that you will eventually get your happily ever after. Feel free to thank me for that at any time!

D&R in unison: Thank you, Aunty!

AC: Ah, it’s nice to know they appreciate some of the things I do for them.

What about you? Do you have any questions for Aunty, Donovan or Rylie?

And be sure to check in tomorrow at Jennifer’s Random Musings, when Jennifer interviews Donovan’s sister Doreen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What's Next?

By: Marie Force
I'm being asked "what's next?" a lot now that "Line of Scrimmage" has been out for more than a month. It reminds me of when I got married and people started asking when we planned to have kids. Then we had our daughter and they asked if we'd be having another one. Once we had a daughter and a son, a few asked if we were going for number three, but that tapered off once they took a good look at the glazed look in our eyes from a baby who didn't sleep for the first 18 months of his life. Now that my first published "baby" is out in stores, the question becomes what's next?

I'm very excited about my second book, "Same Time Sunday," which is based on a conversation I overheard in an airport ten years ago. A young man and woman waiting with me for a delayed flight were talking about the difficulties of their long-distance relationships and both were worried about the weekend ahead. They discovered they were on the same flight home on Sunday night, and I imagined them falling in love with each other. I carried the idea around for about seven years before I finally wrote it, and three years after I finished the book it will be published! Set in Baltimore, MD, Jacksonville, FL, and Newport, RI, "Same Time Sunday" encompasses three of the four places I've lived in my life (the other is Rota, Spain), and I was thrilled to be able to tap into the locations and experiences I encountered during my ten years as a Navy wife.

This book offers a little bit of everything: a sizzling romance, a contentious murder trial, and a love "square" as opposed to the more common triangle. My hero and heroine, Michael and Juliana, are involved with other people when we first meet them, which is not something I've often seen in the romance genre. As their relationship progresses from friendship to love, they're grappling with the demise of long-term relationships with other people. I was intrigued by the notion of the right one coming along at the worst possible time. This book breaks the mold in a number of ways, and I love the way it ends. I hope you will, too. Watch for it in the spring!

What do you think of books that step outside the romance formula? How do you feel about seeing your hero and heroine with other people before they come together as a couple? And do you participate in the sport of eavesdropping? :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How to write a sex scene

by Mary Margret Daughtridge

In less than two weeks I have to give a talk on how to write a sex scene. The more I thought about it, the less I could think of anything noteworthy to say. I’m no expert, but I thought a scene in which my characters have sex would have the same requirements, craft-wise, as any other.

I did some research. After I read twenty or thirty articles, I realized how to write a sex scene was code for how to write sex that turns readers on and doesn’t turn them off—or if one fancies oneself to be among the literati, how to include the sex that will get my book published but not open it to charges of pandering or titillation. One sage grudgingly admitted one could hone one’s craft by reading a few “tawdry bodice-rippers.”

After several hours perusing the net on the subject, I found only one tidbit of advice all agree on: don’t use gratuitous sex. Yes. Whether the wise ones were romance writers or imagined themselves a superior breed, they all used the exact, same word—gratuitous.

Any advice so universally handed out--not about the craft of story-making, but about how to deal with a topic-- must be wrong.

This isn't guidance about how to write about sex. A rule like "no gratuitous sex" only hamstrings and stifles creativity. Here is my rule in two parts: (a.) no scene of any kind should be gratuitous. And (b.) there’s no point at which the inventive romance writer couldn’t insert some sex if she wanted to--as long as she followed the same rules for inclusion as for any other scene.

Shortly after I turned in SEALed With a Kiss, our editor, Deb Werksman informed me that it was under the 90,000 word minumum. She asked me to please send her 4,000 words, ASAP—preferably a sex scene.

I went back to my first draft and found a sex scene—that I had a lot of fun writing—but that seemed superfluous in the final analysis, so I had cut it. Looking at it again, I realized that with only a little tweaking it could show my heroine Pickett changing (she steps out of her comfort zone) while meeting the first purpose of a romance which is to entertain.

I polished it and sent it to Deb. She loved it, and so do my readers. They comment on the sex in the swing more than any other scene in the book.

So here’s how to write a sex scene: scr** the rules. ( I couldn’t resist.) Make every sex scene about the characters, not about the sex, and have fun.

What advice would you add?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bringing the Regency to Life

by Michele Ann Young

One of the things a historical author has to do, apart from providing and entertaining story, is to bring something from history to life for the reader. In The Lady Flees Her Lord, most of the story is set in the English countryside in an imaginary village in Kent near Maidstone. Because I have amazingly fond memories of English country fairs all across the country, I decided that it might make a good form of entertainment for my characters, seeing as they would be spending little time in London.

Fairs were originally set up by royal charter for trade. They also involved an element of entertainment and over time villages held their own small fairs on the village green as an annual event.

So I went looking for descriptions of what might be going on at such a fair. The picture at the top is of Bartholomews fair in London. This was a huge event and a country fair would be very much smaller and more intimate and the games much more hokey.

Roundabouts were popular, but as you can see from this image, not the kind of fancy carousel you might think of today. Games like ducking for apples, (bobbing) were considered great fun, and the lucky dip in a bran barrel was always the height of the day.

There would be competitive games, archery, the greasy pig, and a form of tug of war. I had lots of fun researching what kinds of games one might find at a fair during the Regency and of course giving my characters lots of grief in the process. So here is just a little of what went into my research.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Cry Wolf Video Trailer

There's something to be said about any species who truly care about one another--not that there's this primal urge to mate with another and that's the extent of the relationship--like in so many kinds of animals. Procreation of the species, a biological urge, nothing more. But like with wolves that for the most part mate for life, it's really nice to know that some species feel so close to one another when they choose a mate, it's forever. :)

So I dedicate the Don't Cry Wolf video book trailer to any species of animal that takes their mate relationship seriously--and loves them forever. :)

Terry, who is still taking care of a sick mother, who is getting better though, because she's demanding lots more...LOL......

Heart of the Wolf, Don't Cry Wolf, Betrayal of the Wolf, Allure of the Wolf

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Fluff and Puff's Reading Hour

Puff – “Hey Fluff, Linda’s new book, Hex Appeal, is out!”

Fluff (yawning while nibbling on a bit of licorice root) -- “I saw it when I went to Target with Jazz. She picked up a copy.”

Puff (outraged) “You went to Target without me?”

Fluff – “You were attacking that vacuum thingy Krebs had made up to zap our poop, remember? Jazz wasn't going to wait around while you killed it.”

Puff – “Oh yeah. Dumb thing didn’t even squawk when I pounced on it. But I can’t believe you went without me! Did you get anything for us?”

Fluff – “Jazz bought us some MilkBones.” Both bunny slippers brighten up since they love the crunchy dog bones “I tried to talk her into some Hershey Kisses, but she said no way. And she rearranged Linda’s book on the shelves and even put a few copies back in the Halloween section. They really should have put us on the cover.”

Both bunny slippers do their best bunny slipper pout.

Puff heads for the distinctive red and white bags and rummages through the contents. “A t-shirt that reads spooky,” his voice is muffled from the interior of the bag, “Pepperidge Farm Milanos, Halloween Oreos, some DVDs and CDs.” He backs out of the bag, pulling the bag of Oreos with his teeth. Tearing the bag open is a snap for his sharp teeth and the cookies scatter. Fluff immediately moves in for his share. Two minutes later, two slippers lay on their backs with bloated bellies pointing upward. Each discreetly belched.

Fluff, with a soft groan – “Jazz is going to be royally pissed we ate all her cookies.”

Puff – “We’re saving her from herself.” He managed to roll over and return to the bag. “Let’s see what Linda said about us.”

Fluff, refusing to move – “It’s all about us being accused of eating Willie, the Wereweasel at the boardwalk.” He makes a gagging sound.

Puff nods as he pulls out the bag of Milano cookies along with a brightly covered book. “Yeah, like we’d eat a Wereweasel. We do have our standards.” He noses the book open. “We would have been fine if you hadn’t coughed up that button from Willie’s shirt.”

Fluff vigorously defends himself. – “If I’d known it was his, I wouldn’t have gone near it.” He sidled over closer. Pretty soon the bunny slippers were engrossed in the story of witches, vampires, ghosts and bunny slippers.

Fluff – “Hey look! She even spelled our name right!”

Puff smacked him with the tip of his ear. “Of course she did! We told her what to write, didn’t we?”

Fluff shrugged. “Then you’d think we’d be the authors, not her.”

“You’d think so, but Jazz said no way.” Puff looked around. “Let’s go to Linda’s house. Maybe she’s got cookies too.”

"Okay, then let's go to Target and change the author name from Linda to ours!"