Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rituals


By Michele Ann Young

I am definitely a creature of habit. And the holiday season kicks me into ritual mode.

First comes the Christmas pudding ritual. I know lots of people don’t like it, but to me it’s a taste of the past and a wish for the future.

At our house the pud ritual starts in November. I go to the closest bulk food store and buy the freshest of dried fruits—which probably sounds a bit of an oxymoron, but there really is a difference. I use the same recipe every year and have the list in my address book ready to go.

My girls usually help with the weighing and chopping of ingredients. Christmas pudding is all about weighing—and steaming, but that comes later. We always add Guinness to our pudding, makes it lovely and dark. My husband loves to drink the rest of the can. That’s his ritual.

Then we stir. Each person goes up to the bowl alone, takes the wooden spoon, and stirs. While stirring they make a wish for the coming year. No telling your wish or it won’t come true.

After spending the night in the fridge, the mix goes into antique chin pudding bowls and is steamed for eight hours fraught with constant checking to make sure I haven’t let the water boil away. Pudding watching is crucial, so no other arrangements can be made for that day. Last Sunday was Christmas pudding stir up day.

On Christmas day, the pudding arrives on the table to a fanfare and blazing. Brandy is wonderful for this. My husband drinks the rest of the bottle. That is his ritual.

After make-the-pudding-day, it is time to write Christmas cards. I always have a glass of sherry when I write my cards. Today is card-writing Sunday.

Cheers.

What rituals do you have when preparing for the holidays?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Next Stop, Christmas!!



Every year, the day after Christmas is not Black Friday and fighting the multitudes of frenzied shoppers to buy, buy, buy for us, but a day of setting up the Christmas tree and decorations, eating leftover turkey, pumpkin pie, and my daughter's birthday cake, and making up our Christmas lists.

How did it get to be this late in the year already?

Next thing we know, it'll be New Years!

But for now, we'll settle for the Christmas holidays--seeing Christmas shows, attending Christmas parties, and the inevitable Christmas shopping.

And since I'm not working this weekend, I'm off to finishing up teaching two online classes, preparing for three for December and writing Plight of the Wolf.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving who celebrate it, and wishing everyone fun-filled and stressless holidays ahead.

So the question is--Do you have any Christmas traditions you'd like to share?

Late breaking news!!! I just got an email from the Toronto Romance Writers of America asking me to present my Happy Hooker's Workshop in Toronto!!! Canada, here I come! :) Woohoo, New Years is already looking great! :) I'll also be giving it in Shreveport in the Spring and can't wait! :)

Terry Spear
http://www.terryspear.com/
Heart of the Wolf----Publishers Weekly BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR!!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday for Fluff and Puff




“Why couldn’t we stay home?” Puff whined from his spot in Jazz’s Marc Jacobs pink leather tote, as she wove her way through the hordes of people that pushed around Jazz.

“Because you might come in handy.” Jazz had the grim determination you only saw one day a year. The day after Thanksgiving when serious shoppers came out to do their holiday shopping.

Jazz was there armed with credit cards, ready to do what it took to get all her shopping out of the way.

Fluff’s ears curved over the top of the bag, then his eyes peeped over, widening at the mob around them. “I’m going back to the car.”

Jazz tightened her hold on the bag. “No, you’re not.” She pushed her way into Nordstrom on the quest for the perfect gifts. It wasn’t long before she found a leather jacket for Nick, an even cuter leather jacket for herself, sweaters for Stasi and Blair, a wrap for Thea and she was still going strong.

“I want a pretzel,” Puff demanded.

“Later.” Jazz’s gaze narrowed as she spied a plum silk top across the store. She made her way there, but someone else saw the top too and there was only the one. “Create a diversion. Trip her,” she muttered, unceremoniously dumping them out of her bag.

“Pretzel,” Puff reminded her.

“Yeah, yeah.” But her mind was on the prize.

The slippers growled their way among the shoppers, who tended to stay out of their way, yet not one screamed or fainted as their magick protected them.

Jazz remained behind them, watching the woman destined to lose the top, because IT WAS JAZZ’S. She started to throw out a freeze spell, but she made a promise not to use magick when shopping. Sigh! She quickened her steps and practically slid across the floor reaching out for the top the same time as the other woman.

“I believe this is mine,” the woman said frostily, practically jerking Jazz off her feet as she pulled on the hanger.

“I was here first.” Jazz was happy to see that Fluff and Puff were on either side of her new enemy. She wanted this top, damn it!

Just then the woman yelped and released the hanger. Puff slid back, looking proud of himself.

“Now I get my pretzel.”

“After I finish my shopping.” Jazz glared at the woman who looked ready to pitch into her. “Not getting this top isn’t the end of the world,” she told her before she walked off.

“Pretzel!” Puff raised his voice.

“You promised!” Fluff added his two cents.

“Give it a rest. I said I’ll get you guys pretzels after I finish here. Oooh, pretty!” She squeaked to a stop by a large rack of silk dresses.

Fluff and Puff didn’t say another word, but sulked big time as Jazz finished her shopping in the store and added more large shopping bags to her arms.

As she exited the store, alarms went off big time.

“What the –“ Jazz looked around to see who’d set off the security alarm when a hulkish type man came up to her.

“If you’d come with me, ma’am,” he said quietly, taking her arm in a hold that said to come with him or else.

“What’s the problem?” She so wanted to zap him good, but she knew it wouldn’t be a good idea.

“We believe you have items you haven’t paid for.” He steered her toward the offices.

“Oh believe me, I paid for everything and have the receipts and depleted charge card to show for it.” If she wasn’t on probation, she would have used a spell to get out of there without any fuss, but she knew the man was wrong and there was nothing she loved more than showing a man he was wrong.

“So what exactly didn’t I pay for?” Once in the office, she set her shopping bags down and looked the part of a disgruntled shopper. After all, she had sales to plunder! More gifts to buy! And there was that gorgeous dress she saw in the paper that she knows would be perfect on her.

The security officer reached into one bag and pulled out two fluffy items.

Jazz stared at Fluff and Puff and laughed. “Are you kidding me? They’re mine. I brought them with me for when my feet get tired.” She gestured with her stiletto boots.

The man’s expression didn’t change as he held them up higher with an obvious price tag attached and a plastic loop that kept them together.

“Sure, lady. We all don’t believe in taking tags off our own items.” He dropped them on the desk, where, damn them, they didn’t move an inch and acted as if they were literal footwear, and picked up a phone. “And we have zero tolerance against shoplifters here.”

Jazz picked them up, gasped at the fifty-dollar price tag and glared at them hard enough to cause steam to come out of her ears. “You little shits,” she gritted. “You reveal yourselves now.”

Nothing.

The guard shook his head and picked up the phone.

Ten minutes later, Jazz was escorted out of the office by a police officer. When she glanced over her shoulder at the slippers still lying on the desk, she saw Puff slowly close one eye in a wink and mouth the word pretzel.


So a word of warning. If you’re at the mall and see bunny slippers, have a pretzel ready. They prefer the cinnamon sugar ones.

Linda

Thursday, November 27, 2008

We Are Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving from the Casa Gals! Here is a brief round up of what we're most thankful for this year!

Christina Harlin
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? My Aunt Cathy’s mashed potatoes
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Pizza and trivia games the night before Thanksgiving
3. What are you thankful for this year? My son’s wonderful adjustment to high school.

Linda Wisdom
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Turkey. I LOVE turkey and enjoy finding new ways to fix it up.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Sadly, our family has shrunk over the years, but just being together is grea.
3. What are you thankful for this year? For my friends and the whole hearted support they've given me.

Michele Anne Young
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving?
In Canada we had our Thanksgiving in October, and in England we don't do it at all. I guess we were the ones the founding fathers left behind lol. But I love turkey, and I make this amazing recipe, chiffonade of brussels sprouts, shredded sprouts fried for 2 mins in the fat from two rashers of bacon, with said bacon crumbled in and mixed with chopped toasted hazelnuts and nutmeg. To die for. I always make traditional English bread sauce. Its quite fattening and gross but we all love it. And of course sage and onion stuffing. I guess its what the English would have done had they done one. Except of course I do exactly the same for Christmas. Only I make xmas pud.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Getting together with my brother and sister in law and their two children, and eating.
3. What are you thankful for this year? Health.

Marie Force
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving?
The stuffing and pumpkin bread I make only once a year from my mother's recipes.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? My sister-in-law Holly long ago introduced the "thankful" game where we each write something serious and something silly we are thankful for and then draw them out of a hat. It's so much fun to try to guess who wrote each answer. Lots of laughs.
3. What are you thankful for this year? My family's good health and a book on the shelves!

Loucinda McGary
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Fruit salad, made with fresh fruit, of course! Also yeasty rolls. My mom wasn't much of a cook, but she made GREAT homemade rolls, very labor intensive so she only made them at holidays.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Going on a cruise during the holidays. We've done it the past 3 years and I hope it's a tradition we continue! This year, however, we are going on a tour, not a cruise.
3. What are you thankful for this year? That I've accomplished my long-time dream of having a book on the book store shelves, and people who don't even know me are actually reading it!

Mary Margaret Daughtridge
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Turkey dressing is my favorite but since I've become sensitive to wheat, making it is more of a production than if used to be. This weekend I plan to drag out the bread machine to make a loaf of wheat-free bread solely for the purpose of stuffing. Truth is, the stuffing won't be as good as that made with wheat-based bread, but it's better than none at all. I also love cranberry relish--the kind with cranberries and a whole orange chopped up together with pecans and sugar. When it's good, it's scrumptious. Unfortunately, it's a total crap shoot as to whether it will be good or not. I would never depend on being able to serve it.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Our family tradition is to go to the Outer Banks for Thanksgiving.
3. What are you thankful for this year? I'm thankful for my new townhouse--I really love living more simply. I'm also grateful for the expansion of my world as the result of being published by Casablanca.

Robin Kaye
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Stuffing - I use my grandmother's recipe and it's awesome.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? The five of us all get together to make the pies Thanksgiving morning. The kids put the apples on the apple peeler and fight over who gets to turn the crank. They all wear their aprons which invariably need to be washed after each use. I have very happy memories of my flour-splattered husband and kids in the kitchen.
3. What are you thankful for this year? My incredible family and friends, my career, and the casababes

Judi Fennell
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Stuffing - This is "my" holiday. I love getting up early and making the stuffing with the ingredients my family helped me chop up the day before.
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Playing Scrabble after the "first" meal is over and all the leftovers are set up on the counter and island. We plunk ourselves at the kitchen table and players come and go as the football games change or "turkey naps" kick in.
3. What are you thankful for this year? My family - always. But especially this year for their love and support while I write and promote my stories. And for an awesome editor, publisher, publicist, agent, cover artist and my Casababe sistas!

Beth Cornelison
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Cracker Barrel's Chocolate Pecan pie!
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Eating and watching football
3. What are you thankful for this year? Family, book contracts, health

Sharon Lathan
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? The easy answer is ALL of it, but more than anything I would have to say pumpkin pie and the dressing passed on from my grandfather. Sorry ladies, but MY dressing recipe is the best in the world!!
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? My daughter and I rent classic movies or past Oscar winners and have a marathon.
3. What are you thankful for this year? Naturally the continued health and safety of my hubby and kids. Without them I would be nowhere in this world. Of course, this year is especially sweet as my dreams of seeing my novel come to life is to be realized!

Cheryl Brooks
1. What food do you most look forward to on Thanksgiving? Turkey gravy!
2. What fun family tradition do you most enjoy? Dinner with the family!
3. What are you thankful for this year? My family: at home, at work, and at SB Casablanca!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Strange, Non-Waterfowl Day Wishes from Chumley Masticar

Hello, everyone! Chumley Masticar here again! I thought I’d pop back in for a bit since my author is In Over Her Head, heavily at work on Rod’s story edits and Angel’s story creation—not to mention getting that strange, non-waterfowl ready for the big day tomorrow.

Thank the gods you Humans go for the winged type for your celebrates. I’ll tell you, those Italians and their Feast of the Seven Fishes have the Undersea World in an uproar every December. But at least in November we can rest somewhat easily—although I did hear of one instance where someone actually brought salmon to a turkey dinner. Can you imagine? How un-American! (Though the salmon was from Alaska, not somewhere out in the Wild Blue Under, so perhaps that counts? And, no, Sarah Palin was not the culprit!) Sadly, too, the salmon was not the guest...

I don’t know. You all have such strange holidays. Crushed cocoa beans mixed with sugar cane that you pass out in plastic wrappers at night, in the dark, in the cold? I don’t get it. Do you know how much damage plastic can do to the environment? Good thing Rod’s working on that for you.

Then there’s that interesting phenomenon of hiding the eggs of other strange, non-waterfowl in springtime. Hate to break it to you, folks, but that’s not how you make new fowl. (Check out Reel and Erica’s story for pointers in that arena.) And I do hope you find all of those eggs. Just sayin’…

The unleavened bread is good, if I do say. Yes, so maybe a few of you hoard it to feed to the ducks, but you have to know bits and pieces make their way out of duck-reach, so I say, keep
'em coming!

I’ve heard your turkey day is the biggest food extravaganza for Humans in your country, full of mashed potatoes (whatever those are), stuffing (I’m not even going to guess!), yams…?, corn—now this I do know. Ducks like to eat corn, so I’ll get a nibble every so often and I have to say the kind in butter sauce is the best. The pies are okay, but I’ll just stick to the crust, if you don’t mind.

Hmm…all this talk of food has made me hungry. I think I’ll go see what’s for lunch—and, no, I won’t tell you what I eat. Trust me, it’s not anywhere near as good as what you’ll be having.




I still don't see how anyone could call this strange bird the Catch of a Lifetime, but whatever floats your boat...




Happy Strange, Non-Waterfowl Day, Humans!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Books Make Great Gifts

By: Deb Werksman,
Casablanca Acquiring Editor

Books make great gifts!

As we go into this holiday season with all the uncertainty in our industry and in the world, what we're saying at Sourcebooks is: BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS!

They have a low price point, a high perceived value, and they're a personal, thoughtful gift. They convey the message, "I think you're intelligent!" and people LOVE books!

So, everyone, enjoy the holidays, and think about how your books, published and future, are a GIFT!!!

Ok, now about getting published...Now more than ever, editors are being careful to acquire what we feel confident will sell, so that "hook" gets more and more important.

What I'm looking for:
Single title romance fiction in all subgenres with:
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero she can fall in love with
*a world gets created
*I can sell it in 2-3 sentences (in other words, it has a great hook!)

Questions? Bring 'em on!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday reading and a title update...



As we enter Thanksgiving week, I'm looking forward to carving a little extra time out of my schedule to treat myself to some holiday reading. Each year I try to wrap up major projects by Thanksgiving, so I will have more free time to enjoy the holiday season and be less stressed. I use some of that free time to catch up on the teetering pile(s) of books in my TBR – to be read– stack. I'm especially looking forward to reading this year, because last year my holiday reading didn't happen. A tremendous writing opportunity was offered to me that I couldn't pass up. But taking advantage of that opportunity meant I was madly writing through Thanksgiving, Christmas and into the New Year to finish a manuscript on a short deadline. Last year the holidays were a blur and a nervous breakdown waiting to happen. Too much to do and no time to do it all.
Never fear. I've learned my lesson. I will be more vigilant in protecting my time in the future. Not that I don't or won't write over the Christmas season... but I cut back and set more reasonable page goals, knowing that I have the fun extras to do: shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, partying, concerting, traveling, worshiping, and eating.
A few of the books I'm hoping to get to this year include Line of Scrimmage, by our own Marie Force (It is football season, too, after all!), The Winter Lodge by Susan Wiggs (I've had this book for over a year and have stubbornly waited until it was winter outside to read it. Silly quirk of mine!), Hot Six by Janet Evanovich (Yes, I am THAT far behind in the Stephanie Plum series! Need I say more?), The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren, and– if I'm lucky and get through all of those (I am a slow reader... part the reason for my teetering TBR stack)– a few Harlan Coben books and Silhouette Romantic Suspense books are calling to me as well.
So what is up next in your TBR pile? Do you take extra time to read during the holidays? Are you as quirky as me about wanting to read (savor favorite authors) books during the right season, in the right order, under the perfect conditions?
And now an update from the news desk... my new title is in! My September 2009 contemporary romance set in Destin, Florida, and formerly know as SECOND CHANCES is now called... HEALING LUKE. Watch for it on a bookstore shelf near you next fall! (More exciting details like cover art to come!)
Happy Thanksgiving and happy reading,
Beth Cornelison
http://www.bethcornelison.com/

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In all things give thanks

Thanksgiving appears to be the theme this month, so I figured it was apropos to carry on! So let’s talk a little about thanksgiving – and Thanksgiving – in a general sense.

We all know the story of the Plymouth Pilgrims of 1621. It is drummed into us from kindergarten on with the endless papier-mâché turkeys and feather Indian hats, but as time goes on does it become repetitious and blasé? Has political correctness skewed the true meaning, and our crazy lives interfered with the joy of the holiday beyond eating ourselves senseless? History cannot be denied and the fact is that the early settlers were not a poor, starving community giving their thanks to the native tribes for saving their butts. Rather, they were a thriving collective fulfilling a century’s old tradition of thanking God for His bounty, mercy, and protection. Cultures throughout time have held harvest festivals and other feast-days as a way to make merry while offering tribute to their gods. In the colonies that would become the USofA, the Pilgrims were not the first settlers to hold a special observance of some kind and drop to their knees in praise for their great fortune. I suppose most of us acknowledge this and are giving thanks to someone or something in our own way, but perhaps we miss a portion of the point by focusing on our wonderful blessings to the exclusion of whatever is going on in our life that isn’t so marvelous.

Think back to the Pilgrims and early settlers again for a moment. Plop my pampered self into their midst and I can assure you I would find nothing to be very thankful for! These folks had it tough with a capitol T. They worked hard in a way that few today can begin to imagine. Their friends and loved ones often did not survive, food was scarce, shelter was poor, droughts were common, the winters were long and harsh, etc. I would venture to guess they had far more to grouse about then to be thankful for. Yet, they were thankful, and not just on one day out of the year but probably every day. The Holy Scripture is filled with the recommendation and commandment to be thankful in ALL things. I readily admit that I am a person who believes God knows what He is talking about, but even those who do not hold my belief know that it is through adversity that we grow stronger. We don’t like it, certainly don’t want to dwell upon it, but it is true! Can we then take the next step and actually be thankful for it? Ooh, that’s a toughie! I am writing this essay yet I am not sure I can fully embrace that one!

But, oddly, I have thought a lot about this lately, specifically in relation to my publishing road. I know I haven’t been walking the path all that long, but have encountered many roadblocks already. You know: the rejection letters, nasty emails, negative reviews, snafus in the publishing process, periods of writer’s block, and so on. At each one I have cried, whined, stomped my foot, and shaken my fist at the sky, before finally shrugging my shoulders in acceptance. I would not wish to repeat some of those problems – and I do know there are assuredly more to come – but each one has taught me a valuable lesson, given me a slightly harder shell, and paved the way for dealing with the next issue. So am I now actually thankful for them? Well, yeah, I guess I am! I am still hopeful that smooth sailing is ahead of me and that I have learned all the life-lessons possible for God to throw my way….LOL….but that is unlikely.

Of course, in the end it is all about how we chose to look at something. The glass-half-full-or-empty idea. While we are raising our glasses to the sky in thanksgiving for our many blessings, we know deep inside that those blessings were not easily bought. Whether it is the horrid labor we suffered to bring our children into the world, the trials of marriage when we wanted to kill that guy, the stupid boss we have to put up with to do our job, or whatever, the negative is always there, lurking behind what we are beamingly praising as a blessing in our life. I may not specifically be thanking God for the 32 hour labor that brought my daughter into the world, but I will never not count her one of the best blessings of my life, no matter the circumstances. There must be a lesson I learned that I would not have if my labor was 5 hours start to finish - like my sister-in-law who I still haven’t forgiven – and maybe it’s just that Demerol is REALLY great stuff! See, the silver lining!

The key, obviously, is to not just be thankful for a rough patch in retrospect, but to be thankful for it while it is happening! Man, oh man….that is probably asking too much. Yet that is the point of true Thanksgiving, is it not? At the least it will help us to mentally and emotionally persevere if we can wholeheartedly believe that there are purposes to everything, that good will come of it in the end, and that Someone is in control. Perhaps I’ll make that my New Year’s resolution – smiling amid the drama!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Notes From A Book Tour


While da Vinci and I have been touring the world (wide web) together, I just couldn't resist parading my hunky 25-year old Italian hero of Dating da Vinci in real life, too. He may be a figment of my imagination, but it's sure been fun talking to people in person about "my guy" and the young widow, Ramona Elise, who adores him.
In the last two weeks I've made six appearances in Oklahoma, and wanted to share some highlights with you.
  • At Full Circle Books, a wonderful independent in Oklahoma City where I had my official launch party, an elderly gentleman who is not related to me or my husband, came up and bought my book. My MIL comes up and says - do you think he knows your book is for women? Me: Um, if he couldn't tell from the title and the cover, then, no I wasn't going to point it out to him.
  • At the fab Girls Night Out La Dolce Vita part at Bravo, forty+ women came, listened to a guest life coach, we drank Flirtinis and I kicked out the male waiters so I could read the gals a saucy shower scene.
  • At Best of Books, a darling independent in Edmond, OK, one of the booksellers told me she had read my book and it made her cry - and said that it's really tough to make her cry. I thanked her. Yes, authors get a thrill from making people cry.
  • At the Weatherford Public Library, I bought some pizza pies and talked to a nice group of women AND men who came out to hear about the book. The mayor and the president of the university both bought signed copies of the novel for their wives. How sweet is that?
  • At the Woodward Public Library, I met several aspiring writers who were thrilled to meet a published author and I was happy to give them a pep talk to keep on writing. And the paper came out and took a photo. Gotta love semi-small towns.
  • At the Oklahoma Ink event at the Harweldon Mansion in Tulsa, 20 authors gathered, including powerhouses like Billie Letts (where the heart is) and crime/lawyer novelist William Bernhardt and amazing YA author Ally Carter. The best part was meeting the other authors and signings lots of books for Christmas gifts and talking guys into getting the book for the "chick" in their life since they came to get one of the manlier novels. Second best part? The free wine.
    The rest of my tour is online - so I'll see you in Cyberspace! Just a few days left to enter to win a Sephora Makeup Kit at www.malenalott.com.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Unruly Characters

People don't generally believe me when I tell them that my characters have minds of their own. I mean, okay, I know that TECHNICALLY they did come out of my head. I'm not completely nutty. But getting to know a character, particularly just as you're beginning a story, can be an interesting experience. Especially if they don't want to be what you want them to be. Think this is impossible? Oh no. No it is not. And a character can make you utterly miserable until you get him or her right.

An example? In my book Dark Highland Fire, my heroine, Rowan, starts out as a stripper at a sleazy joint in Reno. She and I had no issues about also her also being an otherworldly, blood-drinking demigoddess: apparently, that worked for everyone. But the stripper thing, well...honestly, I was not at all sure about it. I tried to make her a more vulnerable refugee without a job. I tried to compromise and make her a bartender at the sleazy strip joint. I tried to work it so she didn't actually take her clothes off in front of a bunch of sweaty men. And in each of those cases, Rowan crossed her arms over her chest, glared at me, and said, "No, I'm a stripper. Deal with it!" She was right, of course...that opening scene with her doing her thing at the Pretty Kitty is probably the best opener I've written. And it ended up revealing a lot about her unconventional attitudes, about what bothered her and what didn't, and about how different her people were from your average human. It worked. So Rowan got to be a stripper. And I got to progress beyond chapter one and keep my sanity.

So I know what you're thinking: yeah, okay, you had an imaginary character glaring at you inside your head telling you what to do. Have you considered medication? Well, no, because that's not really exactly how it is either. It's just an easier way for me to visualize the mental roadblocks I run up against when I'm not getting a character right. Another example (and why this is on my mind today) is the new heroine I'm writing. I was all set to have her be this beautiful tough girl, brash and intimidating on the outside but wounded on the inside. I wrote most of a chapter with her that way, in fact. But as the scene went on, I knew something was wrong. I wasn't connecting with her. Her actions and words felt forced and wooden. Even my hero, who was reluctantly on his way to rescue her, wasn't acting right! There was no fun in the discovery of my heroine, no joy. And there always is for me...even though, later on, there will be days when I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to the computer to work (work, after all, being work and therefore easier at times than others), meeting my characters is always a pleasure. So I thought about it. I gave in to a different vision of her that had been simmering on the back burner of my brain for a few days (insisting, patiently and unflaggingly, "No, do THIS.") I was convinced, of course, that this new version wouldn't work, but maybe trying it and having it fail would just reinforce what I had already done. It happens. But it didn't this time. The character knew what she needed to be. She has a much different job than I'd tried to give her. And she doesn't even live where I thought she did! It's weird, and I don't get quite how it works, but that's the way it is.

One of my very favorite writers, Stephen King, describes writing a story as finding a fossil, buried in the ground, with just enough showing that you notice it. It's already there. The job of the writer is to chip and chisel away at the rock surrounding it and try to get the story out as intact as possible. This, thinking of all stories as found things, and not necessarily entirely in a writer's control, tells me he'd understand my unruly character problems:-) I may actually be a little nutty (ssh, don't tell anyone), but with company like that, you won't hear me complaining!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

-Kendra

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Leaving Las Vegas





















In the struggle for supremacy between me and Vegas, Vegas has won. I am defeated, exhausted, and more footsore than I've been in my life. It is now 1:25 PT, and I'm just getting back from a day that included a run to Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and the old strip downtown.

One of the most fun things we did was a bus tour hosted by this guy, who, interestingly enough has written his autobiography. He gave me his card and told me we should swap books, but I haven't heard back from him yet.







Last night my friend Angela and I went to see the Thunder from Down Under show, (male strippers for those who, like me, had never heard of it) and got my picture taken with six guys who could have posed for any one of our covers. Unfortunately, it isn't digital, so I can't post it.

We've been to all the big casinos, or will have by the time our flight leaves tomorrow night.

Got a few romance novel ideas while I was here, along with about a million pictures, including this one of me with Elvis and Captain Jack Sparrow. One thing for sure, I can honestly say it's been an experience, but even though it's been 70's and sunny this whole time, I'm ready to go home--snow and all!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Internetiquette


by Danielle


The internet is a big place—it’s literally endless. There are countless blogs, websites, webzines, etc. that are easily accessible. Book reviews are quickly making more and more headway on the internet for a variety of reasons, but mainly because it is cheap PR (often FREE) and it’s an easy way to reach a lot of people. So it makes sense that as a publicist I would do whatever I can to get the word out about many of your books on the web—quickly and furiously during the first part of your promotional periods, right?


You’ve all heard my spiels about blog tours and q&a’s and personal blogs and group blogs and reviews, and I’m sure some of you find it a little annoying that the focus is on web and not in a newspaper or a magazine. But I truly believe that this is the future of book reviews. With so many newspapers shutting down their book sections and off the page book reviewers few and far between, this is an awesome way to market your book directly to the people who want to read them the most.


So, since this is a BIG focus of our time and energy, I thought I’d give a little list of some of the best things to do on the web, because let’s face it, sometimes everyone needs some guidelines an rules. And there is such a thing as bad publicity—and on the internet IT NEVER GOES AWAY.


1. IT NEVER GOES AWAY. I’m repeating this because even when you hit delete, somehow, somewhere, there’s more than likely a record of that awful review or that anonymous comment you left telling the blogger off.


2. Please please please THINK ABOUT what you write before you write it. You never know who might have you on a Google Alert and might look a little bit deeper into that snarky comment you said about your high school sweetheart way back when or you expressed frustrations about traveling for your job or you thought your kid’s best friend was a bad influence. These are all obvious extremes, but these are things that can be brought up in jest, but someone might take it the wrong way. And as I said before IT NEVER GOES AWAY, and there’s no stopping a coworker or even a publicist (who gets paid to keep track of where you are on when it comes to your books, tee hee) might see something catty…


3. Be polite. You know in Bambi when Thumper repeats his mother’s advice sheepishly when he makes a rude remark: “If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all”? Take that advice when you’re posting a blog or commenting on a site. I know it is frustrating seeing a negative review posted, but rather than even leaving something anonymously, just ignore it. You probably won’t feel all that much better saying something mean back at the person who gave a negative review, and it doesn’t look good getting defensive.


4. Commenting. It’s always nice to receive comments on your blog posts, but you aren’t going to get very many if you don’t return the favor. (please note that I know I’ve broken this rule as of late…but there are these crazy authors I work with that have all decided to publish a lot of lovely books this Spring and their ARCs are arriving and taking up every minute of my day… not that I’m fishing for groveling or anything like that hahaha) It’s also nice to send a thank you comment on a site or blog post that gives you a great review. It is also important to stick around on the days you guest blog—this is an amazing way for YOU to connect with your readers. And readers get excited when they realize an author is hanging out on the blog throughout the day to respond.


5. HAVE FUN! This is my general rule for promoting in general! I know it’s a lot of work and it seems like there’s a lot of work involved that only lasts for a couple of months, but in the end, it’s all worth it. Something that we as a relatively new romance line that we have THRIVED in is making a web presence for each book. What more could you ask for than an endless forum to shout to the world “This is my book that I’ve worked hard on and now I want to share it with you”?


So, those are a few tips to “internetiquette.” I hope you will all keep them in mind when you’re writing up those guest blogs, author q&as’s and comments to one another and even to reviewers. Any questions about the polite ways of the web? Just let me know!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What I'm Thankful For...

By Robin Kaye

In this time of Thanksgiving, I give thanks for my children, my family, and to the Shriners. When one thinks of the Shriners, one might think of men wearing funny hats, the Shriners Circus, or the fundraisers they hold. What one doesn't ordinarily think of is the Children's Hospitals they support or the many trips these men (wearing their funny fezzes) make, ferrying children to and from the Shriners hospitals from neighboring cities or states, sometimes hours away.

Every day the people of Shriners Hospitals make miracles commonplace. Every day they improve the lives of children from all over the world by treating burns, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic problems, and cleft lips and palates. Every day, they give children the chance to live more normal lives and defy the odds.

One of the Shriners kids is my daughter, Isabelle. With the help of the Shriners, Isabelle has defied all the odds. We were told she'd never walk; now she not only walks but she runs. Thanks to the Shriners and the employees and volunteers at Shriners Hospital, she had the best doctor in the world (for her particular surgery) operate on both arms and perform miracles. Thanks to the Shriners, Isabelle not only has almost full use of both hands, she has the best penmanship in the family; she's an artist, a writer, a dancer, and a living, breathing miracle.

Isabelle has been a patient of the Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago since she was three months old. She's had two major surgeries, spent eight days in their PICU, and has had countless visits. Of all the hospitals in which Isabelle has stayed, she's never received better care than the care she's received at Shriners.

Shriners Hospital is free to any child up to the age of 18 eligible for admission regardless of financial need. To get more information, apply for care, or donate to a very worthy cause, see their website at: www.shrinershq.org/hospitals 

What are you thankful for?


Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Present - Part One

This holiday season, my Casablanca sisters and I thought about presenting stories, some of which may be based on the holiday adventures of characters from our books. Since my own romantic suspense entry is not due to arrive until Spring 2009, I hesitated bringing the characters out to play just yet . . . I admit, I don’t want to give anything away. Therefore for my next three blog dates, I’m submitting this little Christmas story in three parts, with my sincere gratitude to Charles Dickens and his holiday standard, "A Christmas Carol". His tale is endlessly borrowed, but there’s a reason for it: it’s a marvelous story. This is a personal spin on the story of Scrooge, and I hope Mr. Dickens’ own ghost will forgive me for the liberties I’ve taken.

Christmas Present - Part One
By Christina Harlin

“I am the ghost of Christmas Present.”

Blake peered with one half-opened eye at the apparition at the foot of his bed, from which this particularly sultry and provocative voice had emerged. When he got the impression of glowing auburn hair and a breathtaking dip of cleavage visible in the bodice of her shimmering golden gown, he was more inclined to pull his head from under the pillow. “You’re my Christmas Present?”

“That’s very funny, never heard that one before.” She kicked the side of his bed with a gold-slippered foot. “Please get up. Christmas Past’s presentation ran long.”

Blake did as instructed, rising to sit at the edge of his bed in his pajama bottoms. He rubbed a hand over his face to make sure he was clearly seeing this. The ghostly woman was gorgeous. Everything about her looked ripe as a Christmas plum, she sparkled from the rich waves of burning hair to the tips of her angel-spun shoes. She had lovely, evergreen eyes. “Are you really a ghost?”

“Solid enough to you.” She thumped his shoulder a rather painfully with her fist. His voiced displeasure was ignored. “Christmas Past gave me his notes on what you covered.” From an invisible pocket she produced a sheet of parchment and unrolled it. “Lonely childhood, demanding father, shunned by peers because of your intelligence and rather pointed disinterest in social skills,” here she raised one red-gold eyebrow in his direction, “academically successful, lucrative career in real estate, makes loads of money, with which you have done nothing useful whatsoever. One perfectly nice fiancée kicked to the curb. Now age 45, frittering your time away accruing more and more money while your soul curls up and dies.”

She eyed his torso for a few moments; it was lean and tautly defined. “And obviously you spend some time working out.”

“Gotta keep healthy,” said Blake.

“Why don’t you put a shirt on?” asked Christmas Present. “We’ve got a lot of stops to make.”

“Christmas Past didn’t ask me to put a shirt on.” Christmas Past had been an elderly man, unable to see much past his own reach. When Christmas Present pursed her beautiful full lips at him, Blake felt inclined to do whatever she asked. To his bemusement, she seemed extremely familiar to him, as if they had been in close proximity for months now but had never been introduced. “Fine, let me get my robe.”

He rose and went to his closet, which she surveyed from behind him with a snort of derision. The closet was enormous, as was everything in his home, but nearly empty, as was everything in his home. His clothing was of high quality but there wasn’t much of it, barely enough to make it from one laundry pick-up to the next. He owned one velvet robe and he slipped it on. “Something amusing?”

“It’s like you guys all decorate from the same manual,” was her reply.

“So where are we going?” asked Blake.

“You’ve seen the movies, haven’t you?”

“Don’t have a lot of time for movies.”

“Still, you can’t be so culturally ignorant that you don’t know how this story goes. Obviously I’m the one who gets to take you around to see what everyone you know is doing tonight, and how they’re all having quite a bit more fun than you.”

Blake sighed, groaned at the impatience in her face. “Do you have a name, or do I just keep calling you my Christmas Present?”

His lovely ghost grimaced. “Holly.”

“How did you get drafted into this line of work, Holly?”

“I volunteered. My untimely death—an unfortunate incident with a bicycle and a shark—did not extinguish my desire to help others, no matter how thick-headed they may be.”

“You’re wasting your time,” said Blake. “I’m not unhappy.”

“I could check these things off a list. The next thing you’ll say is that you’re too old to change.”

“I’m not old.”

“I admit you are a bit younger than my usual clientele. Anyway, welcome to your wake-up-call, provided by A Christmas Carol, the cultural phenomenon written by Charles Dickens. Thanks to him, thousands have been saved from themselves. You’re next. Let’s go.”

“Christmas Past let me hold his hand,” said Blake.

Archly she waited for him to straighten up. “First we’re going to go have a look at your employees.”

Blake’s bedroom snapped out of focus. There was a beat of blackness, which he had learned to expect from his Christmas-Past visit, and then he was standing in the living room of his secretary, Bonita. Bonita was there with her husband, her two daughters, their husbands, and five grandchildren tumbling wildly around on the floor and begging, insistently, to be allowed to open just one present tonight if they promised to be good until morning. There was not enough space in this cozy living room for the number of people and the enormous Christmas tree, and Blake had to flatten himself against the wall to avoid wheezing with claustrophobia.

“Oh!” cried Holly, throwing herself back against the wall beside him. She smelled like something between powdered sugar and gold dust as her skirts swirled and brushed against him. “What charming little children.”

“You don’t sound convinced,” he shouted over the racket. “So why are we here? I gave Bonita a big bonus and the entire week off. I’m not a Scrooge.”

“Handing out money and paid time off is all well and good,” shouted back Holly as two of the tots skirmished before her in a frenzy of banging Tonka trucks, “but you don’t get any joy from it. Look at her face!”

Blake did. His secretary, though she was nearing retirement age, looked twenty years young tonight, her face alight with pleasure at being surrounded by this substantial racket. While he watched, three different children tumbled onto and then off of her lap again, with declarations that she must look at what they were about to do.

“She looks that happy because she knows they’re going home in three days,” commented Blake dryly.

Holly ignored his comment. “Is there anything in your life that gives you this much pleasure? How many times do you speak to this woman who works fifty hours a week for you? I mean, aside from handing her a stack of filing? You could learn something from her. This is a woman who takes her pleasures seriously.”

“So what am I meant to do, become someone’s granny?”

“If we had time, I’d take you down to their bedroom and show you some of the toys she and her husband play with, you’d see how much of a granny she is.”

“What?”

“It’s time to go,” said Holly.

“What toys?”

“And she takes the money that you pay her and does something with it. Has college funds for these kids. Gives it to her church. Buys herself things that she likes. When was the last time you did something with your money that made you happy?”

The noise in the room had become overwhelming, particularly since now someone had elected to turn on the satellite radio to a station of boisterous Christmas carols. Blake slipped away down the hall of his secretary’s house, glancing room to room as he went. The master bedroom was the last one on the left.

“Hey, this visitation is not an opportunity for you to go snooping,” complained Holly.

“You’re the one who said something about toys.” He saw something glinting under the bed’s lavender dust ruffle and knelt, retrieving what he thought was a vacuum cleaner attachment. “You see, it’s just a . . . oh my god!”

He dropped the device and kicked it under the bed.

“We should probably go,” said Holly quickly. “Let’s review what we’ve learned here. That you are working side-by-side with a woman who has filled her life with things that make her happy. They don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. She is perfectly in tune with what gives her pleasure.” Pointedly Holly did not look at the bed. “Anyway, now we’re going to go see your brother and his family.”

“Naturally.”

Bonita’s bedroom snapped out of existence and in the rush of darkness, instinctively, Blake put out a hand toward the smell of sugar cookies. His fingers touched the bare smooth skin of his Christmas ghost’s arm. “Hey,” he said, but his word may have been lost in the void.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grateful Thanks

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

It's that time of year again, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere. After long months of planting, tending and growing, we're now ready for the harvest. In many ways, this year may not be as bountiful as years past, but there is still much for which I am grateful.

With the recent economic woes, my 401(k) is probably closer to a 200.5 but I still have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my stomach, and thankfully the same can be said for all my friends and family. For too many people in the world this is sadly not the case, and I try to never forget how very fortunate I am in this respect.

In fact, I have even more to be grateful for this year than usual! Just last month I finally saw my long held dream of having a book on store shelves come true! I was in a book store just yesterday, and got tears in my eyes when I walked passed the "M"s and saw three copies of my book sitting there.

Moving from first sale to debut book released has been quite a learning experience and I know I still have a long way to go before I am anywhere near a publishing expert. Still, I'm very grateful and feel fortunate to have had this opportunity.

Timing is so important, not just in the publishing business but in life. I'm grateful I met my editor when I did, and that Sourcebooks decided to start the Casablanca line when they did. I'm so thankful that my Casa Sisters and I have shared our experiences together. And most of all, I'm grateful for the wonderful readers who have embraced our stories and encouraged us with their praise. They truly have made this journey worthwhile and my most sincere and grateful thanks go to them!

Please share some of the things for which you are grateful. Have you had some unexpected things or experiences in the past few months that made you grateful? Someone you would like to thank?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Delayed Gratification

By: Marie Force

Yesterday I had lunch with a new-ish friend who read and loved Line of Scrimmage. The last time we dined together she asked if she could read another of my books. I said sure and sent her my latest, a romantic suspense. Today, she asked if we could talk about the book. She had so many questions about the process and the origins of the story. (She also mentioned that my brain must be a busy place. Personally, I prefer the word chaotic.) Did I want to talk about the book? You betcha!

As writers, we wait FOREVER (or so it seems) for our work to see the light of day. It can take years from when we finish a novel until the day we hold it in our hot little hands as a real, live book. "Same Time Sunday" will be out in the Spring of 2009—only 10 years after I had the idea and three years after I finally wrote it. In many other creative fields, the gratification comes a little sooner. Write a song? Here, let me sing it for you. Complete a painting? Put it up on a wall for all to admire. Finish a book? It's kind of hard to shove 400 pages at your visitors and say, LOOK! I wrote a BOOK! So we wait months, sometimes years, to learn whether the story that touched our hearts will touch others as well. That takes perseverance.

I've been very lucky to have a corps of dedicated, enthusiastic readers who have read every word I've written and who kept me going during the long road to publication. Some writers shudder at the idea of showing their work to readers prior to publication. I'm not one of them. I've been asked if I worry that no one will buy the book when it comes out in print. Every one of my readers bought copies of Line of Scrimmage for themselves and everyone they know. I signed scads of copies for each of them. Most of them re-read it as a book and found the experience—as I did myself—to be entirely different. Their reactions, their comments, their passionate response to my stories and my characters have provided me with my own focus group over the years. Without them, I probably would've given up long before my seventh novel became my debut book. I think it takes a lot more courage to show our work to people we know than to put it out there for the masses. Our writing is a window to our soul, one most keep closed to others their entire lives. We choose to expose ourselves and our innermost thoughts and imagination to the world. This takes courage, and it takes perseverance.

I'm closing in on the end of my twelfth novel. And like a proud mom, I believe in and have high hopes for every one of my dozen "children." Each of them has taught me something new or forced me to go places I'd never been before. I've delved into alcoholism, chronic illness, murder, ethical dilemmas and family dynamics. I've ventured into romantic suspense and learned that while I love the outcome, the process is draining. After I finished the first one, a book I called "The Wreck," I was a wreck! I didn't write a word for three months while I recovered. I've written two series, which taught me a whole other form of storytelling. The first series began with the book of my heart, "Treading Water." This is the one that if and when it is one day published, I will be able to say NOW, now I have achieved the goal of my lifetime (other than raising two healthy, productive human children, of course). Every mother has a special affinity for her firstborn. It is no different for writers. While many may come after it, none are ever again quite the same. As I hope for the opportunity to share more of my stories and characters with readers, these experiences, along with the friends I've met along the way, sustain me.

What sustains you during the long wait from finished novel to printed book? Do you allow non-writers to read your work? If so, why? If not, why not? To the readers out there, do you like reading a book in manuscript format?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking Critique Without Taking It On The Chin


By Mary Margret Daughtridge

I recently finished the copy edits for SEALed With A Promise (coming Spring 2009.) I had to take my own advice more than once. :-)

Criticism—it’s right up there with death and taxes for a writer. Inevitable, and you ignore it at your peril, because the closer you come to being published, the more people there are who tell you exactly what is wrong with your book and expect you to fix it—if you want to be published, that is.


Unfortunately, most of the advice about how to take critique, like don’t take it personally is only useful if you already know how to do that. If you could not take it personally, you wouldn’t have a problem, right? As a Master Practitioner of NLR, for many years I’ve helped people make positive, permanent changes in how they think and react to criticism.


I’m not going to ask you to view a critique of your work unemotionally. That is so not going to happen. However, you can learn to shield yourself from being overwhelmed by hurt and anger.
So let’s talk about how put the skills you already have to work for you.


Let’s start with “don’t take it personally.”


You’re a writer. You live in your imagination. You can change point of view at will. Suppose you were reading a critique of somebody else’s work. Could you do it without taking it personally? Sure. So (step one) imagine you’re writing a scene in which a writer has received a critique. She’s with her best friend. The temptation will be to write the scene in the POV of the writer—after all, you’re already identified with her. But give yourself a challenge. Write the scene from the POV of her best friend who has been asked to read and comment on the critique. She laughs at the idiotic comments, gets mad at the insensitivity, commiserates with the pain of having all that hard work trashed. But remember you are not in the POV of the writer. This is the POV of the friend of the writer, a person absolutely on her side. Someone who feels for the writer. (Stop here and do the exercise now.)


Step two. Now rewrite the scene, nope, still not from the POV of the writer. This time in the scene the writer and her friend are going over the critique when a kindly someone, who doesn’t know the writer, drops in. They invite the visitor to read the critique and the point of view shifts. Now you’re writing what someone completely objective feels and says about the critique. That person feels compassion but also thinks the critique is wrong in some places but right in others. “I mean,” she shrugs apologetically, “that sentence is sort of awkward. And, too bad, but that is a dangling modifier. And maybe if you set the scene earlier, it would be easier for the reader to get into it.” (Do the exercise now.)


Step three. Now write your taking criticism scene from the POV of the writer. You’re identified with her, but she’s not you. She’s unusually honest with herself and also keeps her sense of humor. She admits she’s disappointed. She wanted feedback that her story is the most brilliant, most touching, most exquisite piece of writing since (choose one) Nora Roberts, Harold Robbins, Evelyn Waugh, Samuel Pepys. She wanted someone to express wonder at her gifts! Joy that a new star has appeared in the writing heavens! And to say publication was assured. She really, really wishes the manuscript glowed with accolades. She’s disappointed. But, hey, she knew all the time, it might not happen. Overnight success happens only after years and years of preparation.


You can stop the process here, if you want to. But is there a voice in your head when you read a critique that says things like you’ll never make it, you’re a terrible writer? Turn that voice into a character too, and let the best friend and the kindly observer take her on. She’s not only wrong she’s mean to attack you when you’re vulnerable. Nobody should be allowed to treat you that way. Use as many characters as you need to tie her up, gag her, and lock her in a closet.


For those who like technical terms this whole process is called dissociation. Imagining the POV of the friend who is reacting to the writer is one kind of dissociation, and imagining the POV of the disinterested, but kind, observer reacting to the entire situation is another. Finally, using the POV of a writer who keeps her sense of humor and proportion is another way to dissociate.


You have moved from taking it personally with all the hurt and anger that goes with that position, to having feelings but not taking it personally, to being able to view the critique from the point of view of someone who critiques the critique.


I can hear some of you objecting, “But all this is imaginary. What will happen when it’s a real critique?” College basketball players were divided into two groups. One group was assigned thirty minutes additional practice shooting goals, while the other group was told to mentally shoot goals for thirty minutes. The group who only imagined shooting goals improved as much, and in some cases more than those who physically practiced. Being a writer, you already have the fundamental skill of imagining someone else’s feelings. As with all skills, the more you practice the more you will improve.


Will you eventually become ‘thick-skinned?’ Probably not. You’re a romance writer. Sensitivity to your own and other people’s feelings is built in. But when somebody says “Don’t take it personally,” you’ll know what to do.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Verdicts Are Arriving Thick and Fast.

The Lady Flees Her Lord is hitting bookshelves all over the place and I have had some wonderful messages pop into my inbox, some great reviews and fan mail. Because it is hard to keep up with all of the review sites, I thought I would post a sampling all in one place.

Wendy Hines of Armchair Interviews says:

This is a wonderful book. Beautiful historical background with two characters who just are not perfect. It makes the story so much more real when you can relate to them. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Highly recommended for those who love historical romance.



Bookbinge makes the following comments

I really liked Lucinda. She wasn't a victim. She took her life into her own hands and made a successful go at it.
And Hugo. I really liked him too. Lucinda does draw him out of his shell and gets him interacting with the people around him. And he so dearly wants Lucinda. Of course he doesn't realize at first that he loves her, but oh my was he a sweet bear of a man.
The Lady Flees her Lord is a satisfying read.


I found this one at Bookloons

...her talent for bringing the language, customs and mores of the Regency era to vivid life sets the stage for another entertaining period piece in The Lady Flees Her Lord. Lucinda is definitely the focal point of the story: she's an unconventional heroine who, despite great risk to her reputation, is determined to escape her abusive husband's demands and be true to herself. Young also does a nice job portraying Hugo's character growth as he deals with the physical and emotional aftermath of war and the premature death of his wife and child. The Lady Flees Her Lord is an engaging Regency romance that lovers of the genre will find hard to resist.

Jennifer's Random Musings said: The Lady Flees Her Lord is a touching historical romance that I highly recommend.

I think my favorite were individual letters from readers who took the trouble to write to me personally.

Nancy wrote: I loved "The Lady Flees Her Lord". Both Lucinda and Hugo were so good together.They complemented each other, after she made him see it. All of your secondary characters were wonderful.... (I have to stop here because she went into plot details). Then she asked me to hurry up and write the next book.

And Nancy is right. I am busy writing my next book. Thank you for letting me share these very kind comments.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Publisher's Weekly selected Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear as One of their BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR!!!



When I wrote Heart of the Wolf, it really was a creation from my heart--a story that evolved from my love of Jack London's White Fang and Call of the Wild--the first stories I'd ever read about wolves--of loving mythologies from all over the world, of the love of reading to escape my world while I was growing up.


I wanted to do something different--create a world that was real enough, even though it's an urban fantasy.


So when it won 3rd place out of 7 finalists in the Golden Pen, I was really proud of Heart of the Wolf, my first win ever. Sure, it didn't take 1st place, but I was thrilled. The judge from one of the big publishing houses said she loved the unique twist on a horror story.




Heart of the Wolf is a romantic suspense, a shapeshifter urban fantasy where werewolves live in secret amongst humans who have wolf instincts in their human forms and human sensibilities as wolves.



Publishers Weekly had this to say:


Red werewolf Bella flees her adoptive pack of gray werewolves when the alpha male Volan tries forcibly to claim her as his mate. Her real love, beta male Devlyn, has been out of her life for years, but comes after her when she finds herself accidentally captured by humans. Bella becomes convinced that Devlyn only wants to return her to Volan, but soon realizes that Devlyn loves her as much as she loves him, and is willing to fight Volan to the death to claim her. That problem pales, however, as a pack of red werewolves takes to killing human females in a crazed quest to claim Bella for their own. Bella and Devlyn must defeat the rogue wolves before Devlyn's final confrontation with Volan. The vulpine couple's chemistry crackles off the page, but the real strength of the book lies in Spear's depiction of pack power dynamics, as well as in the details of human−wolf interaction. Her wolf world feels at once palpable and even plausible. (Apr.)(c) 2007 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Fallen Angel Reviews gave it 5 Angels & Recommended Read


Heart of the Wolf by Terry Spear is a fantastic new addition to the popular trend of shape shifter stories. I loved this story, not only does Ms. Spear draw the reader into the lives of Bella and Devlyn and the other people they interact with but she has painstakingly researched the behavior of real wolves in the wild to add realism to the behavior of the werewolves in their wolf form and pack behavior.I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a good paranormal, romantic suspense, and shape shifter story!
Reviewed by: Stephanie B.


Romantic Times gave it a 4 and called it Hot! A solidly crafted werewolf story, this tale centers on pack problems in a refreshingly straightforward way. The characters are well drawn and believable, which makes the contemporary plotline of this story of love and life among the lupus garou seem, well, realistic. ~~ (SOURCEBOOKS, Apr.,417pp.,S6.99) Bunny Callahan


Heart of the Wolf!! "You'll be drawn into the story from the first page to the last, wanting to know how everything will turn out. I love how Ms. Spear has intertwined true attributes of wolves to make the werewolf world come alive. Bella and Devlyn's devotion to each other is endearing. Their love scenes sizzle the pages … definitely hot! I look forward to reading more about this author's werewolf tales.I also recommend Terry Spear's, Winning the Highlander's Heart. If you like Scottish medieval hunks, this is a book for you. "Karen Michelle Nutt, author For ParaNormal Romance Reviews February 2008

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for selecting Heart of the Wolf as one of its BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR in mass market category and giving it such a terrific review, to my Sourcebooks publisher, Dominique Raccah, for creating the Casablanca romance line and proving romance lives, to my Sourcebooks editor, Deb Werksman, for loving Heart of the Wolf enough to give it a chance and for being a dream editor to work with, to my publicist, Danielle Jackson, who is fun and full of great marketing ideas, always there when I need her, to my Rebel Romance Writers, who have critiqued and cheered me along the way, to my fellow Sourcebooks authors who are a supportive family beyond the writing world, to my romance chapter mates who have encouraged and fostered many friendships, to my family, who supports me in every way, and especially my fans, the reason I write each and every day! :)


One of the most fun things I enjoy doing is sending ideas for the covers for the new books--and then it's the anticipation of seeing those ideas turned into gems of book covers. Because Sourcebooks does them right! :) I've just turned in the pictures and thoughts for Betrayal of the Wolf and Allure of the Wolf, and can hardly wait to see what evolves! Oh, and then the next fun thing is using that book cover to create a book trailer! :)


I just finaled last night in the From the Heart Wallflower Contest for Huntress for Hire, a vampire romantic suspense, and was pretty psyched about the judges' super comments. It's comments like those that make me want to write forever.


So now I'm off on another adventure! And I can't wait to fall into a new world and hope that you enjoy reading them as much as I love to create them. Just as I love reading everyone elses' stories and delving into a fictional world of mayhem.


Terry Spear

Heart of the Wolf, PW's BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR!!!






Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day




My mom was in the Marine Corps during WWII, my dad in the Army and my husband was in the Coast Guard, so this is for them too.

And they do say there’s something about a man in uniform. Or out.

So let’s give them all a smile today, shall we?

Linda, who plans to dig out An Officer and A Gentleman to watch today

Monday, November 10, 2008

What’s In A Name?


What's in a name? A lot.
Shakespeare wrote about it and I experienced it. Our wonderful editor, Deb Werksman, let me know that we needed to come up with a new title for Book 2 in the Mer series, formerly Whale of a Tail. So, okay, now what do I do? That name had been around since the book’s inception and it’s kind of stuck with me.

Knowing I was too attached to it to see past the trees, as it were, I sent it out to my online community. Fast and furious, the titles came rolling in. They were great! The Top 10 that went in for final consideration were:

Going Off The Deep End
Going Overboard
Hooked On You
In Too Deep
Off The Hook
Out Of The Blue
Splash And Burn
Swept Away
Tide up in Knots
Wild Blue Under


The winner was……… Wild Blue Under from author, Lisa Brackmann.

I love it and I’m thrilled because it was already in the blurb for this book, so no major changes to that.

Now, for another fun part to this story. Another online friend came to my email too late, but hadn’t realized it. She submitted a whole bunch on my blog that play off the fact that my hero for Wild Blue Under is The Heir to the throne. The titles are hysterical! I’m now thinking of a series to go with those titles because, honestly, I can’t just leave those hanging out there in cyberspace. So, I’m officially claiming them, but feel free to enjoy them!

While I’m on the subject of names, my last name comes up a lot in conversation. You’ll notice that it’s pretty darn close to “fennel,” the herb. (And, no, my husband’s name isn’t Herb.) According to Iowa State University and a quick look at Wiki, it can also be classified as a spice. Where am I going with this, you ask? Thanks for asking.

Fennel, the spice, is pronounced: FEH-nel, with the accent on the first syllable.

My last name is pronounced: feh-NEL, accent on the last syllable. I’ve even got the extra L to remind you.

So, to tie it all together: Fennell: like fennel, but with an extra L for extra spice.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ch-ch-changes...to titles

I had an email earlier this week from Casablanca Editor Deb Werksman saying the title of my September 2009 release (formerly SECOND CHANCES) needed to be changed. She wanted me to brainstorm a new title.
Now, after several years of publishing books, I'm used to the fact that titles frequently get changed. Most of my titles have been. Unseen Dangers became To Love, Honor and Defend. Always There was changed to Danger at Her Door. Hearts on Fire became Enemy at Her Door and then in a last minute move was changed to Duty To Protect. And so on and so on...
I understand fully why titles are changed. It's all about marketing and capturing the attention of readers. Titles convey more than just the subject of the plot. A good title also reflects the mood, the genre, the takeaway message. A great title can become a catch phrase that pumps more marketing power behind the book. How many variations of Who Moved My Cheese? did we see after that book hit the bestsellers list? The movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly has seen numerous reincarnations and variations of that title. Catch-22 entered the English lexicon because of the book of the same name. The first "For Dummies" book spawned a legion of spin-off titles on every imaginable topic. The Joy of Cooking led to The Joy of Sex and later the Joy of just about anything else you can imagine. You get the idea. Why, even the name of the romance line at Sourcebooks took its name from the title of a classic romance movie. Casablanca says romance to millions of potential readers.
But understanding the need to change a title, the desire to give a book a title that will help position it in the marketplace and intrigue and captivate potential book buyers doesn't mean the process doesn't somehow feel ... strange. After all, I picked the title Second Chances many years ago. I've lived with that title, worked with that title, submitted with that title, entered contests with that title. It's almost as if someone came to you and told you that because there were too many Taylors in your child's class, you had to rename your child. You don't rename your children after years with their given name! Taylor is your child's name. It's permanent. (Well, until they become a rap star and change their name to Ice Cube or L'il Willie or something.)
So changing Second Chance to anything else felt awkward to start with. But because I'm bad at titles anyway (and rather picky), I had a hard time coming up with anything. When my very first title was changed, (To Love Honor and Defend), I had a hard time getting used to the new title. Since then I've learned not to get attached to any of my titles. But Second Chances was a title from way back when. The book was one of my first, and I'd had time to grow fond of it.
I haven't heard back from Deb yet what the new title will be, but I'm sure, like with my other changed titles, acceptance and fondness will come with time and familiarity. Stay tuned for a future announcement of my new and improved title!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Unforeseen Consequences

by Sharon Lathan

I am sure that if you lined up a hundred published authors and asked for their testimony, you would receive a hundred different stories. Some began weaving stories in their cradles while others, like me, were bit by the bug later in life. The decision for when to take those secret scribblings and share them with others would be vastly variable. Then there is the search for the elusive agent and publisher. Maybe you got lucky the first time around or it took years and you amassed enough rejection letters to keep a blaze going for a month straight. But in the end, it seems that the one thing all published authors have in common is, well, being published! Where it goes from there – success vs. failure, marketing strategies, further writing, yada yada – will also flow down unpredictable paths, but more than likely you can find someone out there in our world of easy networking who has been through something similar and can commiserate. Thank God for that!

But, I wanted to take a moment to share the consequences, offshoots, by-products of this road that are not directly tied to the publishing game yet never would have happened if we had not set our feet on the pavement. I am going to focus on positive outcomes, but of course all possibilities exist.

Firstly, I have my own website. Maybe that seems like no big deal to this MySpace generation, but I am 99.9% certain that I would NEVER have sat down to blog about my boring life! The very idea not only gave me the willies but seriously baffled me. I still don’t really get the purpose unless you have a reason to do it, i.e.- a book to sell! And although I really have a great time with my website, I still keep it Regency/Publishing focused because I can’t imagine that there is a person alive out in cyber-world who really cares what I ate for breakfast or what music I am listening to! Nonetheless, this little hobby of writing gave me a logical reason to do something that I am discovering is loads of fun.

In my early days after watching the 2005 movie “Pride and Prejudice” I began haunting the various websites devoted to the flick, which lead me to JAFF and eventually to writing my own. The rest is history, as they say. During those frivolous days of chatting about scenes and comparing it to the book, I started becoming intrigued with Matthew Macfadyen, who played Mr. Darcy. Folks from the UK, where he is very popular, would talk about how great an actor he is, and I was curious. Sure, he is hot, but can he act beyond being surly and lost in love? Well, the answer is: Yes! Over time I have seen just about everything he has done and found them all brilliant, have become an active member of the Topix MM forum, and have turned one of my website photo albums into an official repository of images. In a secondary development, I have learned about some terrific UK programs and period dramas that I surely never would have seen otherwise. I have made friends with other fans of his and in two weeks a group of us will be attending the LA premiere of Matthew’s newest film “Frost/Nixon” where we will have the honor of meeting Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Michael Sheen! I grew up outside of LA but have never been to Beverley Hills, Hollywood, or seen a special movie screening, so I am seriously stoked! Doubt if Matthew will fly over from London, but we are keeping our fingers crossed. Yep, I have turned into a geek!

As cool as the others are, the best outcome for me personally are the friends I have made through this endeavor. I began by posting chapters and short stories on various JAFF sites, finally creating my own, and the wealth of positive feedback not only inspired me to keep writing, but introduced me to dozens of really wonderful people from all corners of the globe, literally. The vast majority of the commenters would never be more than a name, but there have been several who I have corresponded to over the years that have become lifelong friends. I have a dear pal in The Netherlands, another in Australia, one in Scotland (Who is coming to the F/N premiere!), a couple in the UK, and many more from our 50 States! It is fabulous!! Every one of them, whether casual acquaintances or eternal buddies, are precious to me. And now I have my Casa Babe sisters to add to that list of special persons who touch my heart and enhance my life in some way. Having a website is cool, reliving my adolescence by being in an unofficial fan club is fun, but nothing beats the joy of personal interactions with living, breathing individuals.

So, what surprising results have you had along your pathway to the big-time of publishing?