Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goals and Reflections

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

First of all: HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE!!!

It's that time of year again, and just WHERE did the past year go?!?! In fact we're almost into a brand new DECADE!


Anyway, it's the time of year when most of us look back at the months gone by and reflect on what we did and didn't do. Then, reorganize and set ourselves some new goals for the coming year.

In the past, I've found it far too easy to concentrate on the negative aspects of the previous year. Things I didn't accomplish, opportunities I missed, goals that were beyond my control to achieve... So this year, I've made a vow to focus on the POSITIVE things that happened in 2009. As for my goals, I'm going to concentrate on things I can actually accomplish.

Right at the top of that list will be: Stop worrying about things over which I have no control! Accomplishing that one will be a challenge, but I know with the help of the CasaBabes and our readers and their (AHEM!) gentle reminders, I can do it!

So what were some of my POSITIVE things that happened in 2009? Here are a few off the top of my head:
  • I participated in my first-ever booksigning on Feb. 14th
  • The Wild Sight won first place in the Best First Book category in the More Than Magic contest, and was named a Debut Title that Rocks by Romance Junkies
  • I finished writing my third romantic suspense for Casablanca, and the FIRST I'd written completely under contract -- Oh, and I met all my deadlines too!
  • I became a multi-published author when The Treasures of Venice was released in late August!
As for my goals for the New Year:
  • I want to live a more healthy lifestyle in terms of eating and exercising
  • Continue to grow as a writer and refine my writing process
  • Interact more and continue to "give back" to my readers and other writers
  • Oh yeah, and STOP worrying about those pesky things I can't control!
What about you? Have you set any goals or made any resolutions for the New Year? Will you be out celebrating tonight? DO TELL!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Legend of the White Wolf Coming Up Next!

I can't believe it's nearly 2010. Just another day and a wake up. Where in the world did 2009 go?

A lot of sadness in my life this year, but a lot of good things too, like contracting four more wolf tales, and finishing up three of the eight this year. Any day now Wolf Fever will be done, and I have two more contracted books to write, which I'm chomping on the bit to get to also!

Every book is a new adventure, some with earlier characters, some with new ones, new places, new dilemmas--and it's kind of like the new year. New goals, new problems, but new good things to look forward to also in each of the books.

Like Nationals! I haven't gone in a number of years and look forward to doing so and seeing so many of you. And the Ritas! I'm so hoping someone will final.

And I'm looking forward to guest blogging for Legend of the White Wolf and Seduced by the Wolf after that.

My son even got me a stuffed wolf, and my daughter gave me a montage of my hunky wolf book cover photos framed to take to book signings.

So I'm all set to tackle the new year with a whole new slew of wolfish hunks and tenacious heroines!

What do you plan to do for the New Year?

Here are some first reviews for Legend of the White Wolf.

The fourth werewolf romantic suspense thriller (see To Tempt a Wolf, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf) is a super entry as two dedicated individuals combine their mission only to fall in love at first bite. The pristine descriptions of Maine and elsewhere add to the feeling that a werewolf pack runs free in the tundra. Fans will relish this strong paranormal entry as no one does tales of the wolf better than Terry Spear does.

Harriet Klausner

This is the fourth book of Ms Spear's werewolf series. I have read
everyone of them and in my opinion they just keep getting better and better. Ms. Spear puts a different spin on the werewolf
story. With this series you have romance, adventure and a paranormal twist. If you like your werewolf stories with a bit of a bite, then pick this series
up now.

Reviewer: Robin, Night Owl Romance Top Pick!

Legend of the White Wolf is the forth werewolf book I've read by Terry Spear. Each can be read stand alone and each tale is very entertaining. Ms. Spear has a knack for making her characters believable and the wolves seem very realistic.

So this story is a werewolf tale, a mystery, and a romance all rolled up into one. I loved it. If you have never read a werewolf tale by Terry Spear, this is a good one to start with.

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Very sensual

Reviewer: Steph B

Have a super hump day, and wishing everyone a safe and fun-filled New Year's Eve and


Years Day!

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2010 Wish List

by Deb Werksman

Or, what the heck should I blog about 3 days before New Year's?

I started with the idea of New Year's Resolutions, but I only have one: get to the bookstore more often. Since bookstores are among my favorite places on earth, this isn't even a sacrifice.

Then I thought, perhaps I should make some predictions. But I have really very little idea what's going to happen in 2010 and since no one else does either, suffice it to say we're in the midst of a cultural revolution and NOBODY knows what's going to happen next!

Scary? yes.

Exciting? you betcha!

Here's what I wish for in 2010

*All our retailers to make it through the year--books are such an important, vital, essential, meaningful part of our culture that any further contraction in books being available to readers would be bad for our whole society

*All my authors to grow as authors--each book better than the last, each pitch more compelling, each hook more and more exciting!

*All deadlines met!

*To meet tons of new people--authors, librarians, bloggers, reviewers, booksellers, aspiring authors, industry leaders. Part of this is also traveling to conferences and local RWA chapter meetings, where I can get my finger on the pulse of what's happening in different parts of the country. It's fascinating and I love it.

*To grow and expand Casablanca fiction--this means my authors reach new levels--more stars in their reviews, more promotions, more sales, more awards, more bestsellers lists! BIG books from my existing authors, BIG books from BIG authors to add to my list, and BIG books from debut authors whom I can have the privilege of launching!

*I'd love to see our industry take on some of the legacy practices that make publishing so difficult--returns, excessive advances, short selling cycles

*I'm excited to see what emerges in the area of digital publishing, and this year I want the perfect e-book reader to come onto the scene (preferably in time for my birthday)!

FINALLY, I wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy, prosperous and expansive New Year--I look forward to hearing from you, reading your work, and working with you!

What do
YOU wish for?

And, I'm of course looking for:
  • single title romance fiction in all subgenres (historical, paranormal, contemporary, erotic romance, romantic suspense)
  • 90,000 words or thereabouts, please
  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created
  • a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
  • a career arc for the author
email me!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Happy New Year From Horace!

"You are so taking me to the party!" Horace hopped up and down on the polished wood surface of Stasi's dresser as she rummaged through her closet.

"No." Her word was muffled but that didn't stop the power she exuded.

The six-inch grayish stone gargoyle snarled as he absently chewed on a razor sharp claw. "It's New Year's Eve."

"And your point is?" Stasi pulled out a cobalt silk strapless dress with a flirty hem that revealed more than it covered. She hung the dress on a nearby hook and returned to the closet to find shoes.

"I don't want to be alone."The 700-year plus witch ignored his mock-sorrowful tone. "You won't be alone. Bogie isn't going either." She looked over her shoulder and smiled at her beloved and magickal Yorkie/Chihuahua that tended to float along the floor instead of walking and disappeared if he thought he was in trouble. At the moment, the dog was sleeping peacefully in the middle of her bed and looked as if he could care less the New Year would ring in in a few short hours.

"You're going off to have champagne and all sorts of fun food while I have to stay here and dogsit?"

This time Bogie did raise his head with a curled upper lip and snarl sounding.

'Yeah, well, you'll probably go out and find yourself a dog to hump while I'm stuck here listening to everyone shout "Happy New Year" and doing the kissy face thing. What've I got?" Horace marched across the dresser surface, only barely avoiding kicking perfume bottles into the air but aware the consequences weren't worth the crime. Not when Stasi's best friend was an expert in revenge spells and Stasi would let Blair loose on him. He may be a gargoyle, but he wasn't stupid.

Stasi ignored his mutterings and stuck him in a drawer while she dressed. He was still complaining as she and Blair swept out the door to their party.

"You'll be sorry!" he shouted after them."There's pretzels in the cupboard!" Stasi called back to him."Pretzels. Big friggin' deal. I get crunchy salty twists while all over the place midnight madness is going on." Horace skidded to a stop and ran back to the back door. He smiled as he watched Stasi and Blair drive off. No way he'd allow them to have all the fun.


"Some guys don't understand boundaries and a New Year's kiss doesn't mean a tonsillectomy," Stasi grumbled as she drove the SUV down Moonstone Lake's main street leading to the building that housed her and Blair's shops and second floor apartment. "What is this?" She slowed down at the cars lining the road and lights flaring from the building on the corner. A building that shouldn't be that lit up.

Blair leaned forward. "Your shop is open!"Stasi ended up stopping her vehicle in the middle of the road and jumped out, running over to her lingerie boutique's front door that stood open while women roamed in and out.

"Great sales in there and they're even serving champagne!" One woman walked out with an armful of bags. "75% off!"

Stasi's voice strangled inside her throat as she stared at her shop sadly depleted of stock while women, obviously coming back from parties elsewhere on the mountain, had stopped for a midnight madness sale.

A smiling Horace sauntered out of the dressing room behind a shapely brunette. He didn't look the least bit guilty as Stasi loomed over him.

"What have you done?" Magick flew around her like a tornado.

He shrugged. "I told you not to leave me alone."

Happy New Year from the Hexy Witches!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Sharon Lathan

Indeed, this is the most wonderful time of the year! I adore Christmas. It is my absolute favorite holiday for a host of reasons. The entire period from Thanksgiving through New Years is always a treasured time for me and I relish every crazed moment of it. This year the excitement of the season is increased by the upcoming release of my third novel – My Dearest Mr. Darcy. Of course that also adds to the workload, and both my well-laid plans and delight were dimmed slightly by the killer mutant flu from Hades that knocked me flat for 2 solid weeks. Nevertheless I managed to get most everything done before Christmas and I stayed in the holiday spirit!

Our highlight and big family gift was a trip to Disneyland! I wrote about this on my Dec.16 blog, extolling our enthusiasm to see the Magic Kingdom all decked out for the holidays, and talking about our planned adventures. Every last moment was as magical and special as we anticipated. Dinner at the Blue Bayou was phenomenal. The Holiday Tour was excellent. Riverside seating for Fantasmic was amazing. The atmosphere and decor throughout the park was utterly divine. I have rarely felt so immersed in the spirit of Christmas as I did after 4 days in Disneyland. It was perfect. I’ll let these photos speak for themselves…..

On top of all that fun, I was blessed to meet up with 2 longtime fans of my Saga who live in the area and took time out of their busy lives and family fun to connect with me AND have me sign their copies of my novels! Kerry and Sheila, it was amazing, an honor, and far too short. Thanks, again, a million times over.

Back home the advent of Christmas itself came upon us fast. We were ready for it! All presents were wrapped and under the tree. Lazy days of eating, watching TV with the fire blazing, and enjoying our new gifts. No one was wanting and Santa took very good care of us! I was thrilled, I think, to receive a Kindle from my hubby. Still not too sure I can part with my bound books, but I am willing to accept the many positives to a downloadable e-reader. Don’t tell my DH, but my best gift was the throw blanket my daughter gave me. A gorgeous cover with images of our family woven into the fabric, and the message, “The love of family is a blessing” intertwined. Wow! Too lovely to use, but I will anyway with a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart each time.

Now I can turn my attention to January 1. Not due to the calendar turning to 2010, but because My Dearest Mr. Darcy will be officially released!! Whoo Hoo! I am gearing up for the excitement of another launch, having learned that it never gets old. Maybe it does get slightly easier and not so frantic, but the delight is overflowing as much with my third novel in the Darcy Saga series as it was for the first. I am very proud of this installment as Darcy and Lizzy continue their adventures, grow in their love, welcome their first child, and happily complete one year of marriage. My virtual blog tour officially begins on January 3, my day to share another successful Sourcebooks novel with my Casablanca sisters and our readers. I do hope you will mark your calendars and return for my launch on the 3rd - as well as Robin Kaye’s and Cheryl Brook’s on the 2nd and 4th - for the high jinks and giveaways. We gals know how to party!

Amazon links to all our great novels are attached to our covers shown on the right, including mine. More information about my romantic sequel series to “Pride & Prejudice,” the My Dearest Mr. Darcy Launch Fete that I am hosting over at my website, along with links to where I will be for my blog tour, can be found at: The Darcy Saga

For now, share with us your wonderful holiday memories and gifts from Santa. And on behalf of all the Casablanca Authors – have a very Happy New Year!!!

And the Winners Are...


to everyone who commented and shared a bit of their holiday with us here on the Casa blog!

The random number generator selected the following winners:

Ana -- a copy of The Treasures of Venice from Aunty Cindy

Jane -- a copy of Breakfast in Bed from Robin

Helen -- a copy of Love At First Flight from Marie

-- a much sought-after copy of Cheryl's Fugitive

Diva Donna -- the last minute addition and eargerly awaited copy of My Dearest Mr. Darcy by Sharon

Ladies, please send your snail mail addresses to our group email accound: casablancaauthors AT gmail DOT com and your gifts will be arriving very soon after the New Year!

Once again, all us CasaBabes want to thank all our wonderful readers and blog supporters! May 2010 be another fantastic year for all of us!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa had a sense of humor this year

My husband and I usually have a lot of fun together. When my mother-in-law joins us, we have a giggle-fest. Christmas is no different, but this one seemed especially funny since hubby received some new technology that went array at just the right (wrong) moment.

We live near a town with a world-famous boarding/prep school. Smart, rich kids from all over the world attend. (Mel Gibson's kids went to school there.) We have a holiday tradition of brunch at the local Inn, right across the street from the campus. This year was no different...well, sort of.

We had had a lovely holiday feast of lobster bisque, fresh shrimp and crab, swordfish with a butter and herb garnish, boneless ribs, Caesar salad, goose with a cherry reduction sauce, potatoes Lyonaisse, glazed turnips, curried cauliflower, and mimosas. Well, that's what I had. There was more I couldn't fit on my plate or in my stomach! They put on an all you can eat buffet and after we had all we could eat plus two or three deserts, we leaned back in our chairs and patted our full bellies. Then my husband's alarm went off.

I should explain that his alarm sounds like a rooster crowing. Loudly! And he couldn't shut it off!!! As the very dignified guests glanced around the restaurant looking for the crazed rooster, his mother and I sat there giggling until we had tears in our eyes.

My husband had to eventually get up and bolt out of the restaurant until he could shush his new toy--and reprogram it! If you thought the new Droid phone was funny when it received a message, you've got to hear the alarm clock!


Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

All of us CasaBabes wish all of our readers a joyous holiday season!

May your day be filled with peace, love and happiness. Oh yes, and LOTS of holiday goodies!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gifts Galore!

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

It's Christmas Eve! The holiday season is in full swing and another year is drawing to a close.


It has been quite a year for all us CasaBabes! We've celebrated lots of wonderful new releases, shared good news and challenges, and revealed some things about our personal and writing lives.

Mostly we've had lots of fun here on the blog with all our fantastic readers! We really do appreciate everyone who stops by to read our blog (whether you comment or not). And we want to wish all of you a HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON and GREAT NEW YEAR!

My family has had a lot of ups and downs this year, but I wanted to share with everyone here at the Casa blog a particularly wonderful gift my niece and her husband received this past June.

My niece and her hubby have been married eleven years and after ten years of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby on their own, at the beginning of 2009 they decided to try the adoption route. Knowing how difficult it can be for find an infant (their hearts' desire), they settled in for a long wait... Happily, instead of the many months they expected, they received a call in the middle of June that a newborn baby boy was waiting for them! Everyone in the family has been positively ecstatic over this truly blessed 'gift.' This picture is of my niece (yes, she is 4' 10"), her hubby (6'2") and baby Aiden taken last month at his first Thanksgiving.

Since the holiday season is all about gifts, the CasaBabes have decided to give away some special treats for a few of our commenters today. BOOKS OF COURSE! And lots of 'em! We'll send out autographed copies of The Treasures of Venice, Breakfast in Bed, Love At First Flight, and Fugitive to four lucky people!

Don't be shy! Just tell us about a memorable holiday gift you received or gave (past or present).
And also, are you on Santa's NAUGHTY or NICE list this year?!?! (I'm pretty sure you can guess which list Aunty is on.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

I think all of my preparations are done, in fact, most of my presents are already underneath the tree. All I have left to do is to fill the stockings. . . and about fifteen other things, like decide what to have for Christmas dinner! The Christmas Eve menu (our traditional potato soup) is all set to go--I even posted the recipe on my blog yesterday--but Christmas dinner has to be something easy because I have to work that night. I'm thinking something with biscuits or crescent rolls because that way Sam will have something he likes, but the entree remains a mystery.

This will be my last post here on Casablanca Authors before Fugitive's launch party on January 4th. I still haven't received my author's copies of the book, but I did get the new bookmarks Danielle had made in honor of my first ever booksignings in my local bookstores. The first will be January 2nd at the Bloomington, IN Borders from 1-3 pm and the second will be January 16th at the Bloomington Barnes & Noble from 2-4 pm.

I don't mind telling you how nervous I am about this. I have visions of sitting there all alone while droves of post-holiday shoppers completely ignore me. I've thought that perhaps leaving a trail of truffles leading to my table might help, but it's just as likely that they'll only be smashed underfoot while everyone stampedes past me to purchase the latest bestsellers with the gift cards they got for Christmas. Barnes & Noble promised me posters, but the Borders manager told me to "self-promote" which is something I'm really rotten at.

I did as he asked, however, and emailed the local newspaper, telling them about the new release. So far, I have heard nothing from them whatsoever. Not being a pushy person, I doubt if I'll try to contact them again. Well, maybe I will. Who knows how gutsy I might get in the next week or so.

Having read a couple of terrific reviews of Fugitive hasn't hurt my confidence any. The first is on Whipped Cream Reviews, where it got five cherries! And the second, Veiled Secrets gave it five silver dragons. One other reviewer liked it a lot, but was hoping she'd find out who the ultimate bad guy was in this book. LOL! She'll have to wait for Hero for that. After all, I couldn't very well let the cat out of the bag before the end of the series, now, could I?

Anyway, what I'd like to know is if any of you have some tried and true booksigning tricks up your sleeve that you'd be willing to share. And you readers, too: have you ever bought a book at such an event, and if so, what drew you to the table? Was it a long line of people waiting impatiently for their copy (not likely in my case!), or was it the promise of free candy and bookmarks? Suggestions? Comments? Please????

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

by Libby Malin

It's "st" time--best, worst, funniest, sweetest Christmas gifts, experiences--I want to hear them, so 'fess up!

Most annoying experience this year--finding out that my square Christmas cards would require extra postage--after I'd already put them in the mail. Grrr. . . and I really liked those cards, too. I got some back from the helpful-ahem-post office, telling me I needed to smack on more stamps. But I don't know about the rest.

Best Christmas gifts-- well, that's a toughie. I'd have to say that getting a Chanel perfume I adore every year is a big upper. A lovely Italian shawl last year was wonderful--I wore it around the house during the bleak and cold midwinter.

Almost worst gift -- when I suspected my husband had bought me an exercise bike (do I even need to go into how that would have made me feel?), when in reality he'd purchased a more comfortable desk chair for me. Now, that was a thoughtful gift, considering how much time I spend at the computer.

Funniest gift -- the big fat rubber frog my sister- and brother-in-law sent me last year. I had fun putting him in different places, snapping photos on my phone, and sending the pix to them.

Worst recipe -- a fig, sausage, cornbread stuffing I tried two years ago. Yuck, ick, ack! Run, do not walk, away from this concoction!

Best recipe -- a pumpkin cheesecake pie in graham cracker crust. Yum. want some now.

Sweetest Christmas moments -- there are many, but here's one this past week: hearing my son on the phone, telling me he was in New York after traveling from Hong Kong.

Funniest moment -- playing charades several years ago after Christmas dinner and having my beloved sister-in-law try to act out "the whole thing" for Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot. (This still brings a smile to my face, and will live in family lore for decades.)

Most-loved Christmas song -- Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, sung by Rosemary Clooney.

Most-loved Christmas hymn -- O Come, All Ye Faithful, with the soaring descant on the "Sing, choirs of angels" verse, and the pull-out-all-the-stops organ harmonization on the last verse.

Most-loathed Christmas task -- wrapping gifts. I'm a horrible wrapper. Really bad. Can never fold the corners neatly enough. Too impatient.

Best Christmas movies -- The Christmas Story, of course (love the dinner in the Chinese restaurant!) as well as the Bing Crosby classic White Christmas (favorite number: Choreography with Danny Kaye).

Happy Holidays to All!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Breakfast in Bed is Out!!!!

And the reviews are rolling in. Here are a few of the reviews and quotes that have come my way:

"A fun and spicy story. Robin Kaye is a fresh new voice in romance fiction."
~Susan Donovan, New York Times bestselling author of Ain't Too Proud to Beg

"With snappy dialogue, complex characters, and an intricate web of relationships, Kaye has created an extended family that's both honest and enjoyable."
~Whitney Kate Sullivan, Romantic Times Magazine - 4-Star Review

"Robin Kaye's books are vacations for the soul. Indulge yourself."
~Maureen Child, USA Today bestselling author of Conquering King's Heart

Breakfast in Bed is a fun and sexy romp from beginning to end. The characters are ones you would love to call friend. Author Robin Kaye has a knack for reaching right into the reader's heart and giving them a story to match their deepest desires. Becca and Rich are perfect for each other. The chemistry leaps off the page whenever they are together. I laughed, I cried, and I cheered them on as they frolicked their way to a happily ever after. Bravo, Ms Kaye!
~Lettetia Elsasser, Affair de Coeur 4 ½ Stars

“If you're in the mood for a light breezy read with a happy ending, but enough twists and turns to make it interesting, don't miss this book.”
~Bellas Novella

Breakfast in Bed is another fascinating look at the Ronaldi family and their friends that provided me with hours of enjoyment. I can’t wait to see who the next god Ms. Kaye decides to grace with their own book.
Hibiscus, Long and Short Reviews 4 ½ Books

I hope you'll enjoy Breakfast in Bed. I know I had a great time writing it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Came Early

And Santa brought me my gift.


I love snow. Love, love, love it. I love how it covers all the landscapes imperfections, blanketing everything in a soft white cover. The air is so crisp, the sounds muted, and it epitomizes the feeling of the season.

Honestly, it's all I wanted for Christmas. And, yes, Christmas is still 5 days away, but I'm hopeful it'll stick. The weather is supposed to stay cold, so no melting. I don't need snow to fall on Christmas - actually I'd prefer if it didn't since we go to my mom's house Christmas afternoon, but I like having it on the ground.

And so do my dogs. They keep begging to be let out. So, we indulge. Vixen is the red one, Raven the black. I gave Vixen to the kids for Christmas six years ago, and Raven came to us the following February for my birthday. We love our girls. Poor Pagan wants to go out, but with all the feral cats right next to the house, it's really not an option. But she loves looking out the window, as you can tell.

So, I'm all set for the holidays. My shopping is done, my book signings are done, and I've already gotten my present.

All I have to do is finish editing I Dream of Genies to get it to Deb by the 31st.

Next contract (God, Deb and Dominique willing), no more end of year deadlines. LOL.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Since this is my last post before the holidays, I wanted to extend my warmest wishes for a Merry Christmas, and my hope that Santa is good to you. :}

I have resolved this year to take some time during the hustle and bustle to gather calm around myself, to sit back and watch my loved ones that surround me, to memorize their faces and this one moment in time, to preserve it as a precious memory, because life is about change and nothing will ever be the same again as it is at this one moment.

It's not something I ever thought to do before, at least, not purposefully.

But I've realized that it's so very easy to take for granted those that surround you; the friends and family whose love and caring make life worth living.

Christmas can sometimes be peaceful or just plain bonkers. The little ones can get cranky from lack of sleep and all the excitement, the older ones just as cranky from last minute shopping, baking, and just plain trying to factor in Christmas when there's already not enough hours in the day to meet the demands of normal life. And you know what? This year I'm going to sit back and enjoy every crazy minute of it.

And thank God for this precious moment.

And for those of you who celebrate other faiths, I wish you the same indelible memory of your own peaceful or crazy, wonderful moment with your friends and family.

All My Very Best,

Friday, December 18, 2009

Running Out of Time????

Sorry the post is late. I didn't get word until I was on my lunch break! So in an impromptu blog--best kind, right?--here's Santa teddy bear, my own creation, although I still need to make a shapeshifter wolf Santa!

Speaking of shapeshifter wolf Santas, we had one at story time yesterday at the library. Yep. One minute he was Santa, and the next, his red suit was resting on a chair in the staff lounge and no Santa. He had shapeshifted, you see, and taken off for the hills. :)

Here's my tree, finally got a picture taken. Hmmm, it looks like I took it at an angle. Or the tree and house are leaning over. :) Oh, well, drink some of the good egg nog and it'll tilt back right side up! {I swear I wasn't drinking anything when I took this picture!}

This weekend I HAVE to finish Christmas shopping and try to finish up Wolf Fever. And then? It's time to just try and relax, well clean, and then relax for Christmas. Well, after I finish working the rest of the week!

Remember what it was like when you were a kid and didn't have anything to worry about but whether Santa would bring you what you wanted most in the world?

Ahh, those were the days!!!

Are YOU ready for Christmas?

Here is Penny Bear dressed in her Christmas hat--she is one of my curved arm and leg bears, decked out in Santa's hat for the holidays that I create when I'm not writing, promoting, and working!!! :) And note, she's sitting beside her favorite books, Destiny of the Wolf and To Tempt the Wolf. She gave all her copies of Heart of the Wolf away, she's waiting to hoard copies of Legend of the White Wolf soon, to try to make up for it. :)

Have a very Merry Christmas, all ye good ladies and gentlemen wherever you may reside! Wishing you good tidings through the holidays and to the new year beyond!


"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

30 Years and Still Hexy!

The title is thanks to our awesome publicist, Danielle. Thank you Danielle!!!

Thirty years ago today I managed a personnel office where I placed executives in the accounting field. I also had written two romance novels that I hoped to find a home for.

I’d begun reading romances and tended to say, “I could write one of these!” After all, I had wanted to be a writer since the day I could pick up a crayon. They say write what you know, but I’m not entirely sure I did that since I chose a ballerina heroine and we won’t even talk about my time in ballet class. And I even based the heroine’s looks on my best friend, who was also my first beta reader.

What I thought would take a short time to write actually took close to nine months and after I finished that book, I wrote another.

Now it was time to find out if my efforts could find a home. Silhouette Books was brand spanking new, not even on the shelves yet, and looking for authors. What a great place for my books!

A month after they were submitted to the publisher, I got THE CALL. And what a day for that. It was my wedding anniversary and I had a gorgeous silk plant arrangement in my office courtesy of my husband, good boy for remembering, and I had lunch with a client who, for some reason I talked about my writing, and he was genuinely interested!

Who knew I’d return to my office and be there for barely five minutes when my agent called to say Silhouette wanted to buy both books? I’m sure the entire building heard my screams. What a beginning for me.

A month later, I was writing full time. Ironic thing about that was because my boss fired me accusing me of writing my books on company time. Considering all that I did, there was no way that happened, but that was fine. It meant I had to see if I could make it as a writer. So what do you think? I’m still writing 30 years later. And an easy way for my husband to never forget my anniversary!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We're going to Disneyland!!

That’s right, folks. In just three days the Lathan family will be entering through the gates into the Magic Kingdom for four fun-filled days! We are so excited! More so than ever before and here is why:

I grew up in the general southern California area, so have been going to Disneyland since I was a toddler. I remember when there were individual tickets for each attraction. Anyone else remember the days of divvying up the lettered tickets to make sure you got to ride the best attractions? I remember when there wasn’t a California Adventures, when Space Mountain was built, when the Isle of Monsanto was the coolest experience, when Critter Country did not exist, and…. OK, I am old and you get the idea.

My point is that over the, ahem, decades, I have tromped the streets of the Happiest Place On Earth more times than I can recollect. BUT, I have NEVER visited during the Christmas holiday season! Gasp! I know! It truly is a tragedy that needed to be remedied. So, with this idea in mind, we sat down and voted as a family. The loudly unanimous decision was to take our Christmas celebration (and money), and do it up right at Disneyland.

OK! With that agreement I purchased annual passes and booked a family suite at the Camelot Hotel (Not fancy, I know, but the history & King Arthur lover in me has always wanted to stay there, and it is directly across the boulevard!) On top of that, we made reservations for dinner at the Blue Bayou inside the Pirates of the Caribbean – never eaten there! – booked the 3-hour Holiday Tour, and purchased riverside seating for Fantasmic. Whoo Hoo!! I really can’t type enough exclamation points to convey how ecstatic we all are.

Happy dancing aside, deciding to leave home during the holidays, even for something this exciting, was a little tough to do for 2 reasons. Never, in all my life have I spent Christmas away from our house. Nor have we ever not had a massive pile of presents to unwrap on Christmas morning. But, we all agreed that it was worth it to see Sleeping Beauty’s castle draped in snow and feel the fake-snow falling on our faces. It will be a family memory treasured forever. My other concern was the responsibilities and events surrounding the release of my third novel, “My Dearest Mr. Darcy” on January 1. Family comes first, so sacrifices would be willingly made, but it certainly was a relief when Danielle announced that due to the upcoming holidays the blog tour would commence in January. Whew! I’ll be blogging again on Dec. 27 to share my scheduled appearances with you all… and probably sharing a few Disneyland photos!

Today, as I am running about getting packed and finishing the Christmas shopping and baking cookies, here is a fun Christmas quiz. I’ll post the answers tomorrow. Have fun!

1. What were the first tree ornaments?
a. Apples and fruit
b. Glass balls
c. Tinsel
d. Strings of lights

2. Advent is traditionally symbolized by what icon of ongoing life?

a. poinsettia

b. evergreen wreath and candles 

c. fireplace 

d. Christmas tree

3. Now a Christmas custom, what plant did the Druids first hang in hopes of peace and good fortune?

a. mistletoe 

b. poinsettia

c. holly

d. evergreen

4. What is the shape of the candy cane modeled after?

a. fish hook

b. constellation of stars

c. cane St. Nicholas used

d. shepherd’s crook

5. What was the name of the dog that belonged to the Grinch in Dr. Seuss' book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"?

a. Rudolph

b. Toto

c. Max

d. Cerberus

6. What was the name of Scrooges' dead business partner in "A Christmas Carol"?

a. Jacob Marley

b. Bob Cratchit

c. Tiny Tim

d. Bill Sykes

7. What was pictured on the first stamp printed for the Christmas season?

a. Santa Claus

b. An Angel

c. A Star

d. A Rose

8. The poem commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas" was originally titled:

a. The Night Before Christmas

b. Santa Claus is Coming to Town

c. A Visit From Saint Nicholas

d. The Night Visitor


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's all happening!

People are thinking about what they want Santa to bring them this year. I just received a gift I've been eagerly anticipating! My cover art!

There's nothing like glimpsing your name on a book cover to make it all real. The process of producing a book is such a long one that every milestone is thrilling.

I love this cover. It's exactly the style I asked for, and it's as if the artist could see inside my head. But if we do a good job of describing our characters and our fictional world, getting inside our heads shouldn't be that difficult.

Please see my brand new website to see my cover. I made it myself, so it's basic!

And I'd love to hear what you think of the cover!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Tell Santa what you want....

Today I changed my Google blogger profile picture from Outcast to Fugitive. This is something I've been meaning to do for a while now, but you know how it is around Christmastime; you just can't remember to do everything you would wish. Something always gets forgotten, and hopefully it's not your sweetie's present, which brings me to the subject of today's blog: What do you want for Christmas?

I ask a lot of people this question, mainly because I can't think of anything, and when I do, it's either one of the tried and true gifts that I've given many times before, or it's something no one wants. I've considered not getting into the family gift exchange, primarily because I usually wind up with the gift that I contributed. I mean, I thought the Demotivator's Calendar was funny, but the family just didn't get it. I thought a gallon of Quervo Gold was a great gift--took me an entire year to drink all of it--and how many gifts can keep on giving like that?

Part of my problem with gift buying is that browsing the aisles for the perfect gift is not my style. I'm more what you'd call an efficient shopper; if I know what I want, I go straight to the source, get it, and get out. The rest of the time, I'm in a fog.

So, what about you? Do you want diamonds for Christmas, or something more practical? Are you a casual browser or more of a commando when it comes to shopping? A mall rat or an online master of the point and click? C'mon, give Santa a clue. . . .

Sunday, December 13, 2009

As the World . . . Went

by Libby Malin

Sad news for those who love storytelling-- the soap opera As the World Turns, on the air for more than half a century, will go dark next September, one more soap opera fading into history. (Guiding Light ended its 72 year run on the airwaves in September of this year.)

ATWT's head writer, Jean Passanante, helped me a great deal as I wrote my 2010 release, My Own Personal Soap Opera. A writing acquaintance put me in touch with Ms. Passanante, and she patiently and thoroughly answered my questions about how stories are put together on daytime dramas and who actually writes the scripts.

My story, like most fiction, uses reality as a springboard, not a cage, so I deviate from the real-life world of soap writing, stretching the truth to suit my own tale. Ironically, My Own Personal Soap Opera is a story about a failing New York-based daytime drama and the machinations the head writer goes through to keep it on the air.

I know a bunch of folks still look down their noses at soap operas, but I've been a loyal soap fan for years, dating back to my college days when my schedule allowed me to catch Another World (alas, another soap lost to broadcasting history), following the sagas of Rachel and Mac and Iris and Steve.

I still watch Days of Our Lives and recently have been in awe of how the writers keep a cliched story of baby-switching fresh as well as engaging, pulling the story out like taffy to stretch over months.

When I first started watching soaps, I just wanted to know who was going to end up with whom and what secrets would come out, what characters would be spared from jeopardy.

Now I'm more likely to be thinking: "Now, how on earth will the writers resolve this story without completely stepping over the boundaries of incredulity?"

In fact, I think it's the writers' challenges that keep me entranced as much as the stories they actually tell.

Soaps regularly dance around that line between awe-inspiring and, well, awful. Characters come back from the dead. Children who were toddlers one year are teens the next. Villains have phenomenal powers to control their prey, while "good guys" have just as much power in order to combat them. Characters are spirited off to secret islands, to dungeons, to foreign countries resembling the Emerald City. Couples split and remarry. . . and split and remarry again. Family ties become so complicated that a fellow's best friend might also be his uncle. On Days, a major character even underwent an excorism after being possessed by the devil.

Are you smiling? I am when I think of all these fantastic plots. But skillful soap writers keep their audiences enthralled by knowing precisely where the line is between character-driven story and caricature-led plot. If you ever start to think, "That character would never do that," the story doesn't work, and the audience feels manipulated rather than entertained. Good soap writers know this.

As a writer, I've learned a lot while watching soap operas. The news about ATWT is sad. I hope it's the last of soap cancellations for a long, long time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Holidays?

By Robin Kaye

Crazy Holidays is more like it. My third book, Breakfast in Bed will be out by New Year’s Day, and my blog tour is heating up--check my website calendar for all the stops and giveaways on my Virtual Blog Tour. My next book, As Good as He Gets is due in a few days and isn’t quite finished yet. Twinkle Toes, my ballerina daughter, is dancing in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker for the next two weeks, so her normal dance schedule has made the jump from crazy to certifiable. My son is down with pneumonia and has had to go back and forth to the doctors three times this week alone. My mother-in-law is visiting next week to see Twinkle Toes’ performance. My husband is working to finish the drywall in the living room (one of the four rooms currently under construction) so we can put up our tree. And I have yet to buy one Christmas/Hanukkah present.

I’ve either become very Zen about the holiday stress, or I’ve completely gone off the deep end and just haven’t noticed. In either case, I’m working under the assumption that if I just keep going I’ll eventually get through it. If I’ve learned anything throughout my life, it’s that stopping or giving up is the only sure way to fail. No matter how crazy life has gotten in the past, my family and I have always survived the insanity. I doubt this Holiday Season will be any different.

My plan is simple. Deadlines first, Christmas presents second, and I’m resting the whole Mother-in-law visit (cooking and cleaning included) squarely on my husband’s shoulders. I warned him I’d be living in Deadline Hell and it was sooo not a good time, but he agreed to it anyway so he can live with the consequences. I’ll see a couple of my daughter’s performances and continue to drive her back and forth to dance. When I’m not driving, I’ll be in my office or at Starbucks working until I finish my blog tour and type those lovely words, The End.

I’ve already made peace with the fact that my kids will most likely make out like bandits and get IOUs for Christmas. For those of you not in the know, IOUs are the mother of all Christmas presents. The bearer ends up receiving much nicer presents than they normally would due to parental guilt, not to mention a gift that will last a lifetime—something really juicy to talk to their shrink about and torture said parent with for the rest of her natural life. And knowing my children, they’ll use it to the nth degree.

Now that you’ve heard my game plan, please tell me I’m not the only one out there wondering how I’ll survive the Holiday Season. How do you deal with Holiday Stress?

Friday, December 11, 2009

My town's little secret

You know, not only is my husband a Domestic Hero, but he's a good writing-spot-finder, too.

He found a coffee shop for me to write in when I need to get out of the house/office/mommy role.

Now, I know this doesn't sound like a momentous discovery, but you have to understand about where I live. It's suburban Philly, but it's one of the moral rural areas, just what we wanted. In our old house I felt as if I couldn't breathe, with all the traffic. Remember, I went to Penn State. Back in the day, State College was the biggest town in that area, with the Nittany Mall considered huge. (Since I grew up going to the King of Prussia Mall, Nittany was NOT impressive, but for the area, it was big.)

Anyhow, I digress. So, I went to Penn State, home of the student-friendly squirrels who knew there were other kinds of nuts on that campus that could keep a squirrel fed through the winter. It was rural. Then we moved back to suburban Philly, and the suburban sprawl started. A big shopping complex was going to go up across the street from our neighborhood, which would only increase the traffic headache. I'd had enough.

So I scoured area maps, found a nice township with less roads and more open space than the surrounding areas, a good school district and off we moved.

I love where I live. I love hearing cows--even smelling them isn't so bad. I tell my kids "cow exhaust is better than car exhaust." It sums up the move from one home to the next. I love the peregrine falcons who roost nearby and would make a meal of our kitten if I let her outside. I love the feral cats who live on the farm across the road, the red tailed hawk that landed in the tree outside my front window, the occasional horseback rider riding just outside the neighborhood, the churchbell that rings at 8 am on Sundays and wakes me up... It's very peaceful where I live, even though we're not that far from major roadways.

The one thing about where we live, however, is that it's 20 minutes from the nearest shopping center. The local farmers' market doesn't count as a shopping center, and neither does the tiny strip mall two miles away. I'm talking places where you can buy food, then clothing, maybe some automotive parts, pick up a dog collar, visit a bookstore, etc. You have to go 20 minutes to get to the closest one of those, which also means 20 minutes back, which means 40 minutes of writing time.

So, okay 40 minutes out of my day might not seem like a lot, but when you're cramming it in between kids' schedules, it can be.

Well, Hubs found a coffee shop less than a mile from my house. And I'm typing this from that location. And just as soon as I finish, I'm going back to drinking my wonderful peppermint hot chocolate and enjoying the homebaked chocolate chip cookie she sells here, and get back to writing.

I just wished she didn't close at 5 pm. But then, that's life in the burbs. And I'm not trading it!

So, any little secrets in your town?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Let’s Take a Walk Down Memory Lane…

By Danielle

Have you ever had one of those days where the world is spinning—you have too much to do and if it all doesn’t get done you’re going to go insane… and to top it all of, you’ve got the worst sinus infection in history?

I’m having that kind of a WEEK let a lone a day (hence my recent absence from the comments). So here’s my favorite blog post, which also happens to be the first one I ever posted, back on May 9, 2008. I’ve edited it down a bit, but it’s the funny story about how I came to be publicist I am today. Enjoy!

It’s a little intimidating being the only non-author regular contributor—you all have such great stories about your inspiration and what made you start writing! But I do have a funny story about how my journey at Sourcebooks began. On the day I received the call to come in for my interview with Sourcebooks Publicity, I had quite the adventure…

That morning, I had an interview for another job. I got ready, making sure I looked cute and professional. I decided to take the train because the job was downtown Chicago, so it wouldn’t be a far walk from the station. Well, I have no sense of direction and ended up walking about 6 blocks (6 city blocks = 1 mile) in the opposite direction. In heels. Like any distraught young lady, I called my dad and he told me to just catch a cab; there was no way I’d make it on time. I quickly found a cab and could feel the huge blisters forming on my feet.

Enter my strangely talkative cab driver; he was incredibly jolly and had a lovely African accent. Instead of the normal cab chit-chat, he was really interested in what I was doing downtown. He asked me why “such a little lady is going to such a big building,” and I told him I had a job interview. Then he asked where I had gone to school and what I studied. When I told him I had an English degree from Bradley University, he immediately asked “What does one do with an English Degree?” I’m sure I said something smart, but indulged the rest of his questions, which began to take on a much more spiritual nature…

When we pulled up to my destination, he said to me “Because you are so nice, I will not make you pay, but I want you to have something to give you direction in your life journey,” and hands me a copy of the Qu’ran with pamphlets on why I should consider Islam as my religious path. I was caught off guard, but happy for the free cab ride!

So, I go up to my interview, and probably would have done wonderfully, but all I could think about was how embarrassed I was to have a random copy of the Qu’ran sticking out of my bag, blisters forming on my feet, and by that point of the morning, it was already sweltering in Chicago—so I was sweaty. Great first impression.

Once my horrible interview was over I quickly changed into the cheap flip flops I threw in my purse that morning and limped to do some shopping. The blistered agony took hold, and I decided to go sit in the garden at the Art Institute of Chicago. I bought a sandwich from a deli and sat down to read when I noticed the most beautiful bike messenger I had ever seen sitting across from me. He smiled my way, I smiled his, trying to look somewhat cool balancing my sandwich and my book on my knees.

Here’s where Sourcebooks comes into the picture—my phone rang and saw a number I didn’t recognize. I answered and to my delight, it was Sourcebooks; they wanted me to come in for an interview! I was beyond excited, trying to pull out my small day planner and a pen, fishing through a purse full of high heels, lip gloss and gum wrappers. The entire time I noticed the bike messenger snickering to himself at my awkward display…

Finally, I found a pen, situated my sandwich on one knee, my planner on another and pen in hand, looking to the week ahead when I was available—when all of a sudden a BIRD POOPED ON MY KNEE. Inches away from my sandwich, leaving a mess on my skirt. So here I am, on the phone with my future employer trying to stay collected when I have bird crap on my favorite skirt and a hot bike messenger watching the whole thing. And laughing. And I don’t mean chuckling, I mean full on LAUGHING.

But somehow I persevered, kept my cool on the phone and made a date for the interview. When I was off the phone, I had an audible freak out, making a few of the people near me move away for disturbing their lunch. And the bike messenger would not stop laughing or staring at me while I tried to wash away the bird mess on my skirt.

However, I read somewhere that bird poop is a sign of good luck—and it must hold some truth, because a week later I had a fabulous interview, and a week after that I had a job with Sourcebooks, and it eventually led to a lead publicist position for Sourcebooks Casablanca. I’m happy to be a part of your blog, getting to know all of you and offering what I’m discovering about romance PR!

Now if I see this strange “job interview interlude” show up in any of your books, I expect some sort of recognition! So here’s my question—a lot of you have or have had various jobs before or during your writing careers. Do you have any horror stories? On the job, on an interview, or anything? I can’t wait to hear what you all have to say.

I’ll do my best to be around today! Happy Holidays to everyone!