Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sexy Shapeshifters

by Terry Spear

Woohoo, it's my birthday!! So have a piece of chocolate (only chocolate will do) cyber birthday cake on me!!!

Now a word about sexy shapeshifters~~

Years ago, I wrote a futuristic where the heroine shapeshifts into a panther and her brother, a dragon. So that was my first shapeshifter story. But I finally decided on werewolves. In part, because I loved reading mythology and legends when I was growing up, and partly because I loved Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London. The images he created for me about wolves stuck with me all those years, and I didn’t even realize it until I was asked so many times, why werewolves?

Because wolves can see better, hear better, sense smells better, run better…yet in some ways are like our steadfast companion dogs.

Okay, so Little Red Riding Hood comes to mind too. “All the better to see you with, my dear…” Or something to that effect. :)

But when I was creating my werewolf world, I wanted something that was as believable as a shapeshifter novel could get–and sexy. So lupus (Latin for wolves) garou (the French version is loup garou for werewolves) were born. And in this world, the werewolves are sexual creatures, they keep their shapeshifting abilities secret, and they have what I love to create most of all in my stories–a love for their mate that is for all time.

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male"~~ that's my motto for these sexy creatures.

While I'm working on my wolf tales, and since I do that a lot, I think in Wolf Mode, all the time.

So when I came across this news story yesterday, it got me to thinking:

SW Airlines is now charging for on-board pet travel. I was surprised they hadn't charged for it before. But what if packs moved by their wolf form. I had the characters talking about the negative side of airline travel in Legend of the White Wolf, but what if...they took the plane in their wolf form and didn't have to pay full price! They'd probably have to be accompanied by another pack member in human form to get the cheaper rate, but hey, what a deal for a whole pack traveling on an airline! :)

That's the fun of writing fictional stories! Taking a snippet of the news and transforming it into a segment in your story. Never know, but I might just have a frugal wolf taking a trip soon on SW Airlines. :)

So if you are fortunate enough to hook up with one of these sexy characters, what can you expect from a Wolf (Were variety) when you're in his good graces?

1. He let's you rub his belly.

2. He's protective.

3. He lets you run with the pack.

4. He loves to snuggle on cold winter nights.

5. Loves to play, especially tug-of-war and tag. Only beware, he loves to win and and you will most assuredly be the a totally welcome way!

6. He's a little chauvinistic, which goes along with being an alpha male wolf type, which means you have to show you're just as alpha. And he'll love it!

7. Even though he pretends to be this macho guy, you can bowl him over with praise.

8. He likes to think he's always in charge, but suggest what you'd like to do, and later, he'll suggest the same thing, and tell him what a wonderful idea it is! He'll love you for it!

9. He's a little or a lot possessive.

10. And he loves sharing water with tubs, showers, a swim in the lake. :) Fishing, too.

So if you are fortunate enough to find your very own alpha wolf character, you have lots of fun ahead of you!

But now the question is: Are any of you already hooked up with a wolfish guy that sounds an awful lot like this list??? If so, ever find patches of fur around the house that doesn't belong to the household pet???

Terry Spear

Saturday, May 30, 2009

How Fluff and Puff Handle File-Sharing Sites

There’s always talk about file sharing sites where readers find downloads of authors’ books. What they don’t realize, and sadly, some don’t care, is that these sites are illegal since it’s copyright infringement and in the end hurts the author.

I always wondered what Fluff and Puff would do if they wanted to make sure romance writer witch Thea’s books didn’t have that problem. This is why I like having the guys on my side.


“Very cool,” Fluff crooned, using his ears to tap the computer keys. “Think it will work?”

“Krebs did the basics. We’re just making it better.” Puff read off computer code that had more than a smidge of magick to it while Fluff typed away. “Okay, type all and then hit enter.”

“Yes!” The slippers grinned as they slapped high fives with their ears and sat back to enjoy the show.


“Perfect! I love file sharing sites,” the woman crooned as she clicked on the download button.

She looked up at her friend. “This is Thea James’ latest hardcover book, no less. I’ll make a copy for you.”

“Thanks! I found her first book. I haven’t read that one.” Her friend was busy on her laptop as she was on another book file sharing site preparing to download a book file. “I wish I’d known about these sites a long time ago. I sure would have saved a lot of money.”

The first woman frowned and stared at her computer as the screen abruptly turned red.Bad bad bad! Much safer to just buy the book, because then your computer wouldn’t melt. Now to work on the site itself. Love, Fluff and Puff.

“Oh my God!” She shrieked as she jumped away from her computer that slowly and steadily melted into a metallic puddle.

"Eek!” The other woman dropped her laptop onto the floor where it also was dissolving at a rapid rate.

They stood back and stared at what used to be their computers then looked at each other with a combination of shock and horror.

“Who’s Fluff and Puff?’

Friday, May 29, 2009


What a time of year! Not only did Fire Me come out this month, but two of my kids "came out" of college. That's right, two kids graduated at the same time. They're not twins. One entered college a year early and the other took five years to finish a challenging major (electrical engineering coupled with Air Force ROTC training).

It's been a big month of changes in this household as these two chicks of mine launch themselves into the world (or try to -- my daughter is looking for a job in this bleak economy!).

So it's only natural that my thoughts focus on changes and transitions, and the curves in the road that make it difficult to see what's up ahead.

All writers have to grapple with unpredictability, though. This business is filled with tales of authors whose multiple-book careers trickle to a stop when the market shifts or publishers shutter their doors. I know several authors who are in the process of rethinking their writing direction because changes in the industry have left them without contracts--temporarily, we all hope.

As for me, when I first started writing fiction, I thought I'd be writing serious stuff. You know -- Lit.Rah.Chure. But something inside me couldn't resist a chuckle and here I am in romantic comedy/humorous women's fiction. In fact, I have only one "serious" published book to my name--a historical YA (written as Libby Sternberg) that was a joy to write, even if the subject matter was more shadow than light.

I've dabbled in more serious fare and do yearn to see it published. And I'll keep trying. Scratch any comic and you'll probably find an actor longing to play the Brooding Prince. Hey, I can brood with the best of them! :-)

So the question I'm curious about is: if you could change something about your writing/reading life, what would it be -- do you long to write in a different genre, yearn to read other kinds of books but never find the time....or interest? What holds you back from making the changes you'd like to make?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wow- That was quick!

Wow! That was quick!
Last time I blogged here I mentioned that HEALING LUKE ARCs had been sent out to reviewers. Well, last week I received my first review back from Armchair Interviews. Here's part of what the reviewer said:
Reviewed by Heather Durow
It happened in a flash. One small spark changed Luke Morgan’s life forever…almost took it in fact. He had always thought that he was infallible and now here he was, burned and scarred from a boat explosion.
Abby Stanford has scars too. Only hers are on her heart. She is in Florida, on her honeymoon–alone. The tickets were non-refundable and, after finding her fiancé in bed with a buxom blonde, she figured she deserved time away from Texas. Abby’s path crosses Luke’s at his family’s business and she is the first person to get any response from him that wasn’t completely jaded.
Aaron and Bart convince Abby to stay for a few months as Luke’s unofficial therapist, to help get him back on track and back to himself. With her occupational therapy background, she is certain she will be able to at least get him started. What Abby doesn’t expect is that Luke may be just what she needs to heal as well.
Healing Luke is along the lines of a typical romance novel but with a bit more depth and very charming characters. Well written and more than just a light beach read, this story will keep the reader wanting more.
Armchair Interviews agrees.
So yea and yippee skippy! Of course an author is always going to be holding her breath as the reviews start rolling in, but knowing the first one is positive lets me breathe a little easier.
By the way, HEALING LUKE is set in Destin, Florida, and as you read this, that's where I am too! I'm on vacation with the family (plus a friend of my son's), and you can bet that Luke and Abby (Aaron and Bart too) are not far from my thoughts. I love Destin and the Florida Emerald Coast. Is it any wonder I set my story there?
Here's the question for the day- what are YOUR favorite settings for books? Places you've been (so you can picture them in your head) or new exotic locales? Small towns or big cities? Mountains? Beach? I'm curious. Let me hear from you.
Oh, and can you pass the sunscreen? I'm off to the beach! :-)
Beth Cornelison

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is It Too Soon To Party?

In Over Her Head's official release date is June 1, but IOHH sightings are popping up all over the place. Actually, all over the country: Philly, Atlanta, Washington state, California, Massachusetts - and those are the ones I've heard from.

I hightailed it out to my local stores and stood there and didn't make a fool of myself, although I did sell at least one copy. Signed it, too. That was fun.

I also found out In Over Her Head is up for Best Book of the Month for June on Voting runs 'til May 29.

And then there was this review I recently received from :

If you’re looking for a great beach read have I got a book for you! In Over Her Head by Judi Fennell is a witty, funny, fabulous story about Erica Peck, a marina owner that is scared of the sea, and Reel Tritone, a Mer man who, obviously, lives in the sea. What follows is a rip-roaring adventure complete with stolen diamonds, death threats, creatures of the deep, and true love. Honestly, I’m not going to tell you much else about the plot. It sounds utterly silly. And I can’t really believe I bought it. But I did. And I’m telling you Fennell pulls the suspension-of-disbelief off admirably. Whether you’re at the beach, at the pool, or closed up in your comfy ACed house this summer, if you’re looking for a great romance I’d highly recommend In Over Her Head.

Excellent Read

So, does this count as a launch or do I have to wait until Monday?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day!

Remember The Fallen

In the long weekend, take some time to remember all of those who have given their lives to make our freedom possible, and all those who put their lives on the line every day guarding it.

Hi, I’m Robin Kaye, the author of Too Hot to Handle. Today I was looking through the clip art for a Memorial Day picture to post and I saw this one. It's a photo of a Wild Quaker Parrot rising up above the markers of Civil War Graves in Brooklyn's Green Wood Cemetery. For those of you who have read my books, you'll know that I was brought up a block away from the Green Wood Cemetery. The Brooklyn Parrots and are a wonderful part of Brooklyn and Green Wood Cemetery. For more information about the Brooklyn Parrots, you can visit the Brooklyn Parrot Website.

Annabelle Ronaldi is the one of the heroines of the Domestic Gods series and I thought it would be fun to talk with Rose, her nosy, slightly zany, and possibly psychic aunt. I made an appointment to meet Aunt Rose at her favorite place—the bench by the duck pond in the middle of Greenwood Cemetery. Granted it’s an odd place to meet, but since I used to play there as a child and my aunt and uncle got engaged on that very bench, it didn’t seem odd to me until I began writing up the interview.

Aunt Rose was feeding the Brooklyn parrots that live here at Greenwood Cemetery year-round. As I walked over to meet Aunt Rose, I realized she hadn’t notice my arrival so I announced myself. I didn’t want to startle an old lady in a cemetery. “Aunt Rose? Is that you?”

Aunt Rose looked up from the birds she was feeding, “Of course it’s me. You were expecting one of the residents? My husband, Vito, is right over there.” She pointed toward the graves over her left shoulder.

I tried not to laugh as I sat beside her. She took her time sealing the bag of birdseed and placed it in her humongous black pocketbook. “So how are you?”

“Fine, fine. Why did you want to meet with me? You need more material for those books you write?”

“No, I’m writing a blog and thought you’d be an interesting interview.”

She waved her hand. “An old lady? Interesting? You don’t get out much, eh?” She rummaged through her bag and pulled out a thermos. “Demitasse?”

“You have cups?”

She nodded. “Sure, you think I’m a gonna drink out’a the cap? What do I look like? A bum?”

“If you have enough, I’d love a demitasse.”

She poured the steaming liquid into insulated cups and handed me what looked like a homemade biscotti. Just before I took a sip of the coffee, she held up a small silver flask. “Zoom Zoom?”

For those of you who don’t know, Zoom Zoom is usually liqueur, like sambuca. I smiled, “Please.” With that she poured a shot in, just enough to have a kick and add sweetness. I took a bite of biscotti and was in heaven. “Thank you.” I washed it down with some incredible demitasse and waited for her to finish chewing. “Tell me about Annabelle and Mike.”

“Those two, they got a lot of things to work out. Annabelle, she just wasn’t right in the head for the last couple of years. She thinks she hid everything so well.” Aunt Rose tapped her temple. “But I know what I know, and I saw she needed to get past the death of that old boyfriend of hers.”

“Chip, right?”

“What kind of name is that? Chip, it’s a break in a cup, that’sa no name for a man. Not that he was much of one. Better that she ended up with someone who can appreciate her, like her Michael. He’s such a nice boy, and a good doctor too. Annabelle, she needs someone who will take care of her and believe in her. She’s a nice girl, my Annabelle.

“You knew about Chip and didn’t tell the rest of the family?”

“Why? I knew it was a passing phase. It was going to end soon enough. Death can’t be avoided.” She crossed herself. “My Annabelle takes after her mama, she don’t like dealing with the hard things in life. She tried to pretend it never happened. But that don’t work. It took meeting Mike to get her to mind straight again.”

I nodded, not sure what to say to that. “Everyone wants to know if you’re psychic.”

“Me? I’m a’ no gypsy. I just know things. I don’t know how I know, I just do.”

“You’re very close to your nieces and your nephew. How does that affect your relationship with your sister?”

“Me and Maria, we don’t talk about it. She don’t like it so she acts like one of those animals who sticks her head in the sand.”

“An ostrich?”

“Si.” Rose took a sip of her demitasse. “She tries to do right by her children, but she don’t know what they need. Just you wait until she finds she’sa not the only woman in Richie’s life.”

“Oh!” I sat straighter on the bench. News! “Then Richie and Gina will work things out?”

Aunt Rose gave me one of her you’re-too-stupid-to-live looks. “Richie needs a woman who will love him in spite of himself. Gina, she’sa not that woman. But then Richie’s not the man for her, either. You’ll see. It’sa gonna be an interesting fall. You mark my words.”

“That’s all you’re going to tell me?”

“What? You want me to write your next book for you? No, you’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out. Somebody is gonna turn Richie’s life up’a-side-down. He’sa not gonna know what hit him.” Aunt Rose took the last bite of her biscotti and drained her demitasse. “It’sa been nice talking to you, Robin. You come back and visit sometime soon. Maybe after you write Richie’s book, eh?”

I didn’t want to let her go, but she was obviously finished talking to me. She was halfway to the Cemetery gate before I could say, “yes, thanks for meeting me.”

Aunt Rose held her hand up as if to say, “No a’need to thank.” The gesture left me with more questions than when the interview began. So what do you think? Is Rich going to end up with Gina, or is there really another woman? Who is she?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Prince of Charm

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

I LURVE my heroes! Can't help myself. Must be because they are all (at least thus far) Irish hunks. And like all true Celts, they are dark haired and blue-eyed, but there the similarities end.

Donovan O'Shea, my hero of The Wild Sight is a man who tried to escape his painful past. But basically he has a dual nature, and near the climax of the story he actually recognizes this in himself. One side of him is a healer. Though he himself may be wounded (not nearly as much as the hero of my current Work In Progress, but that's a blog for another day), he seeks to fix things that are broken, soothe hurts, and generally set things right. But the other side of him is a warrior. When threatened, he doesn't hesitate to fight back, especially in defense of someone he cares about. Cross him at your peril!

The same can be said for my hero of The Treasures of Venice, Keirnan Fitzgerald. When necessary, this man can be dangerous. In fact, he even tells the heroine fairly early in the story that he is dangerous. She doesn't exactly believe him, of course, because Keirnan Fitzgerald is a typical Irish charmer.

I saw this first hand all over Ireland (in the North and the Republic). From wee little lads to dottering grandpas, Irish men are unparallelled when it comes to charm. Matter of fact, the legend of kissing the Blarney stone to imbue oneself with elequence has a basis in history. The 16th century Earl of Blarney, Cormac McCarthy managed to talk his way out of swearing fealty and surrendering his castle to Queen Elizabeth I.

Talk about a charmer!

I couldn't resist creating a character with some of those same endearing qualities... Or more accurately, as often happens with my characters, Keirnan Fitzgerald appeared on the scene with a charming swagger and a twinkle in his sapphire blue eyes. I'll admit it, I couldn't resist him!

Like his ancestors before him, when faced with the ancient conundrum of "fight or flight," Keirnan picks neither option. First, and foremost, he will try to talk himself out of a situation. Failing that... well, he really can be a warrior. But early in life he learned that old adage about honey and vinegar and he took it to heart, especially with the ladies. However, he's not the only one in the family who can turn on the charm, but again, that's another blog topic.

As I've mentioned before, I like to have physical models in mind when I write my characters. Luckily, fate and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno delivered me the perfect proto-type for Keirnan.

I'd seen the film version of Phantom of the Opera, and it just couldn't compare to my experiences seeing the live performance. I was also one of the few women on the planet who did not understand all the fuss over Gerard Butler. I know, I know... Then one night I saw him promoting his film 300 and Oh. My. Gosh! I truly believe that (like my hero, Keirnan Fitzgerald) that man could charm paint off the wall!

He might have been born and raised in Scotland, but Butler is an Irish name sure as I'm a McGary! And be honest now, ladies... If this man asked you to run away with him to Venice, would you say no?!?!?

What are some of your favorite types of heroes? Warriors? Professors? Any charmers in the bunch? And which celebrities do you find the most charming?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Summer Reading

by Danielle

There’s something about Summer, not sure what it is exactly, that brings on an onslaught of reading. I’ve always found Summer Reading to be a funny concept—libraries and day camps (the artsy kind hahaha) will have reading programs, to which many of the kids in my neighborhood that I used to babysit were like “wait what? School’s OVER.” Then you have the designated “beach reads”—if you ever go on vacation with my family, you’ll find out that there’s rarely time to read pretty quick, with all the relative visiting and site seeing (and if we’re at the beach? Forget it!)!

Nevertheless, I find myself during the long days, especially when there’s a nice breeze, venturing out in my parents’ gazebo and plopping myself down for a leisurely day of reading (something I fully intend to make Z do with me many a time this season [and yes funny ladies, that’s all you’re going to get about that]). I have some old stand-bys and a few new books I plan on jumping into this year:

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien—very much a favorite of mine, and a perennial read. When I’m feeling particularly geeky I also read The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Unfinished Tales (of which some new ones have been found!). Additionally, there’s usually at least one Saturday or Sunday (preferably a rainy one) where I watch all 3 EXTENDED versions of the movies. It’s truly an epic marathon!

The Born In Trilogy by Nora Roberts—ah yes, the reigning queen of romance! Up until last summer I had yet to read anything by dear Nora (other than the saucy bits I’d sneak when I was younger) and my mother FORCED me to read this one first (good woman). I have a feeling these three will be ones I revisit each year.

Anything (and everything) by JD Salinger—we all know him for The Catcher in the Rye, but I prefer his short stories that often revolved around The Glass Family: Franny and Zooey (a book I’m an evangelist for); Nine Stories; Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Seymour: an Introduction. Most of these stories were published in The New Yorker throughout the 50s and 60s. Funny to think that Mr. Salinger is still alive, living as a recluse in New Hampshire. I wonder if he still writes?

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen—I try to rotate through Austen, and this year it’s time for her Gothic Novel! Can you really deny reading the author who gave birth to the romantic comedy?

New this year:

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri—I loved both her Pulizter Prize winning Interpreter of Maladies and the equally as good The Namesake. I bought this when it came out, and now it’s being released in paperback! Where has the time gone? But I think she’s a great writer, totally gorgeous, and I have a strange obsession with India that was rekindled after seeing Slumdog Millionaire.

The Chesapeake Bay Saga by Nora Roberts—this time I’m being forced by a good friend who loves these brothers more than the Concannon sisters of Born In. I don’t know, but I willing to give them a go (There are four I think, right?)!

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith—I couldn't contain myself! How funny and bizarre!! And I've read a bit already; it's scary how seamless zombies fit in to P&P. I wonder what Jane would say or do? I like to think she'd have a good laugh.

OH and I also have these ARCs laying around from this group of authors… I don’t know if you’ve heard of them, but many of them call themselves the Casa Babes. Anyway, I hear they’re a pretty eclectic group of writers with a lot of talent and stuff.

In all seriousness, I could easily spend a full day a week reading your books at work… because well, it is part of my job to be familiar with the books I’m publicizing right?

So you probably figured this out by now, but get out there and start telling everybody that your books are fun and awesome beach reads—even when the only time you might have to read is on the plane ride home! And get excited for Fall 2009, some of you are getting some early feedback, and many of you will start soon!

What are some of your favorite Summer reads, or new books you’re interested in reading this year?


Friday, May 22, 2009

On the Road Again...

By: Marie Force
I’m riding shotgun right now on a family road trip from Rhode Island to Indiana where my husband’s family lives. Since the last time we did this trip by car about five years ago, my children have discovered electronics and we’ve lost both of the dogs who used to ride along with us. So this is a quieter, less intense version of the road trips of yesteryear. The only disruption to the peace in the car is the hourly dust up over feet creeping over “the line.” Remember the sibling line of demarcation in the backseat? The ‘he’s touching me’, ‘she’s looking at me’ line? I’m here to tell you that “the line” is timeless. I’m also enjoying listening to my husband bicker with the Garman, who he has named Lola. She is NOT happy with him and how he continuously defies her by freelancing his way to Indiana.

Being from New England, specifically the Biggest Little State in the Union—Rhode Island—I’m always struck by the vastness of our country when I take to the road. Earlier this year, I had the special joy of driving my father home from South Florida. My brother and I shared the driving duties and were unpleasantly surprised by how long it takes to drive through the Carolinas and Virginia. Today, I’ve got a bone to pick with Ohio. These are some BIG states, people, and a shock to the system of a Rhode Islander who can go from end to end in her state in an hour.

The best part of the road trip is the percolation time. Good music via the iPod, pretty scenery, the pervasive smell of cow manure, the endless golden fields . . . I find it inspiring to see different parts of our country, to see how other people live, where they work, how they talk. Every experience adds to the pool of available material to be used in a future book. On this trip, I’ve made use of the endless time in the car to work out a lot of story details for a new series I’m working on about four brothers. Staring out the window at the passing scenery, I’ve managed to put a lot of the pieces together because my mind is quieter than usual. I’m away from the daily routine of work and school and homework and dinner.

I’ve also used this time to think about the upcoming blog tour for Love at First Flight. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to talk about a book that has meant so much to me since the idea first occurred to me almost a decade ago. L@FF is proof that inspiration is everywhere—whether a gate area in an airport, a soybean field in Indiana or a stretch of highway in Pennsylvania. The secret, I’ve found, is being open to and accepting of the ideas when they present themselves to you.

So back to the reason for this family road trip... My father-in-law passed away Tuesday at the age of 86. As writers we strive to create unforgettable characters, and sometimes we meet people who are so unique, so singular that we realize we could never make up something better than what’s right in front of us. Richard Force was just that kind of person. His life spanned many adventures—including a stint as a carnival worker and service to his country in World War II as a member of the prestigious Flying Tigers, during which he was shot down over occupied China and spent a month hiding in rice fields until he was rescued. He never ate rice again.

After the war that took the life of his older brother, Richard returned home to Indiana, married his childhood sweetheart, fathered six children (mine is the fifth Force of nature), and went to work building bridges for the railroad in the Midwest. He took great joy in his ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He was one of the funniest, most outrageous people I’ve ever met—a true character in every sense of the word. And when I think of him, I’ll remember living near them in Florida and how he came running any time I needed help with my kids when my husband was deployed with the Navy. Our relationship was all about razzing each other on a wide variety of topics, ranging from who was a better Euchre player (definitely him, but I can only admit that now that he’s gone) to whether the Cubs or the Red Sox were baseball’s most cursed team (I finally prevailed on that one thanks the 2004 Sox). I’ll never forget mentioning that I was the only woman in the Force family who can’t sew like a professional. “You,” he said, “have other talents.” I certainly hope he was referring to my writing, but knowing his wicked sense of humor, I was afraid to ask! I loved him, and I’ll miss him.

Do you have memories of “the line” in the backseat of your parents’ car? How do your travels inspire your writing? Who are the true characters in your life?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Second Books--First times

by Mary Margret Daughtridge

Today I'm at my beloved coast--this time at Atlantic Beach across the bridge from Morehead City, NC. Outside, a close to gale force wind thumps the cottage as if it's knocking to get in. The cottage creaks.

For the last twenty-four hours my friend and I have exalted heroes and trashed villains, sought motivations, and ramped up conflict, in other words, we've done what writers do.

With perfect seriousness we discuss the tribulations of people who exist only in our heads, and shyly hiding our eyes, admit how much we love them.

She's writing her first book, I'm at work on my third, SEALed With A Ring--and feeling the hot breath of my June deadline on my neck. My intent focus on the work in progress has almost squeezed from my consciousnes my second book, SEALed With A Promise.

To tell the truth, the response to SEALed With A Kiss so far exceeded my expectations, I wondered more than once if it was a fluke. I approached the release of SEALed With A Promise with more than a little trepidation. Would people like it?

I open my email this morning and find from

I bought Mary Margret Daughtridge’s new book ‘SEALed with a Promise’ and wondered if it would draw me in as her first book had. To be a good judge, I reread my copy of ‘SEALed with a Kiss’. Yes, friends, Mary has brought real men to life. She starts with Caleb Dulaude, a HERO with a capital ‘H’, when we find him hot in the middle of an assassination attempt on a senator in Kandahar, Afghanistan. How he meets Emmie Caddington in North Carolina at the wedding of another SEAL pulls you into a love story with limitations and an undercurrent of revenge. Pulls and tugs on your heart will keep you reading chapter to chapter as Mary weaves characters who come to life amid southern values, old secrets, and normal family problems. ‘SEALed with a Promise’ is filled with people I love to report about the most…HEROES!
Nancy Badger

I'm learning there is no second book, there's only the second book for the first time, and even as I write this, the third book, for the first time. Every book exists inside an eternal present, and for as long as one is reading it, it's not the first or the second or any number.

Romance Junkies

SEALed WITH A PROMISE is the second book in Mary Margret Daughtridge SEALed series – and I have to tell you, this addition is just as delightful as SEALed WITH A KISS. The author infuses humor, realistic characters, emotion filled situations, and in some cases brutal honesty to create a storyline that’s utterly captivating from beginning to end. I believe I fell in love with Caleb before the story even really began when it’s revealed how he came by the nickname Do-Lord. He’s a strong man with a vulnerable nature and a quirky sense of humor that strikes me as very sweet. Emmie has her own vulnerabilities and it’s absolutely delightful to ‘watch’ her come out of her shell and be the woman she was meant to be.

Navy SEALS are the object of many women’s fantasies but through Ms. Daughtridge’s writing we get the opportunity to view these strong praiseworthy military men and understand that they’re individuals with feelings and needs. This story is beautifully written and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more writing from Ms. Daughtridge in the future – and will keep my fingers crossed for stories about some of the other SEALS we’ve gotten to know in these first two stories.
This book was so refreshing - the heroine smart, dry witted, sharp as a tack, and not prone to prolonging misunderstandings as some heroines tend to do. The hero was sensitive, intelligent, strong, and capable.
Short Summary: Caleb was after revenge - he wound up falling in love with a girl. Can’t get any better than that." });
This post was submitted by Keira.
Mary Margret Daughtridge’s descriptions awaken the senses to a level that makes a reader gasp for breath and sigh with satisfactions. Primal and earthy at times, sensual, enchanting, and tender at others, the love scenes simmer, sizzle, and soar. The mirror scene is truly magically and tells so much about both Emmie and Caleb.Some of the secondary characters such as Aunt Lilly Hale, Pickett, Grace, and Vicky add depth to the happenings in Sealed With A Promise. Family values, friends’ unswerving loyalty, and the innocence of children and their need to be protected from the self-serving actions of adults, all create sub-plots that stir the conscience and intensify the story as events force life changing decisions to be made by Emmie and Caleb. Sealed With a Promise is beautifully written and tells a fantastic story that if full of intense emotions. EXCELLENT.

Romance Studio's review underscores the point I'm making that first or second or any other numerical order disappears the second a book comes to life in the reader's (or my) mind.

This was my first book by this author, and I must say I was pleasantly
surprised. [... ]The author spends plenty of time building the
characters of Caleb and Emmie so the reader has a better understanding of their
relationship. The supporting characters were interesting to the point that they
almost overtook the story. However, their strong characterizations are
understandable since their actions and emotions have a huge impact on Emmie.
Overall, I would recommend this story for anyone who likes to read about alpha
men falling in love with unlikely heroines.

Someone has said of writers we are a rock of solid ego surrounded by an ocean of insecurity. It's true.

Still, though I love seeing praise of my work as much as any writer, what makes my day is knowing that the reader "got" the book. I'm all the time saying I think a romance should be thoroughly entertaining and it can also sometimes be about something.

Mary Margret Daughtridge did an excellent job of getting the emotional aspects of SEALED WITH A PROMISE correct. I felt Caleb and Emmie’s passion, laughed at their antics, and cried when their hearts were sad. Most of all, however, SEALED WITH A PROMISE is about acceptance and forgiveness. Both very hard to attain but when it happens, it is glorious.Don’t miss SEALED WITH A PROMISE, I can’t recommend it enough!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Outcast is coming!

Hello, this is Marla Elkhorn reporting from Terra Minor, a recently colonized world on the far side of the Terran Quadrant. Today we have an interview with two of the supporting characters from The Cat Star Chronicles: Outcast, Zuannis and Hatul.

Marla: Zuannis, Nice to meet you—I don't believe I've ever met a Twilanan before.

Hatul: Ugly, aren't they? Tall, bald-headed, and a nose like a rhino—horn and all. *snort* If it wasn't for the earrings, you'd never know she was female. Now, Bonnie, on the other hand makes me want to—

Zuannis: Look who's talking about being ugly! You Norludians are the strangest creatures in the galaxy! (shifting away from him slightly) Don't know why I agreed to do this with you around.

Hatul (waving his sucker-tipped fingers at her suggestively) What's the matter? Afraid I'll taste your essence and not like it?

Zuannis: You just keep your sticky fingers to yourself, you skinny little pop-eyed freak!

Hatul: (turning to Marla) Perhaps you might indulge me?

Marla: (horrified) Thanks, but I think I'll pass. We're here to talk about Outcast, remember? Zuannis, tell me a little bit about Bonnie.

Zuannis: What a sweet girl! She's a good friend of mine, you know—aside from the fact that we trade with each other. She gives me eggs and flour and I give her bread. Works out very well! But she's been in a bad way lately, and she works much too hard.

Marla: How so?

Zuannis: Her damned boyfriend took all the money, the good speeder—and her grandmother's priceless engagement ring—and left her with a farm and vicious animals to look after and a baby on the way. Really! He should have been deported!

Marla: (soothingly) I'm sure you're right, but—

Hatul: I would have helped her. She had only to ask. . .

Zuannis: Humph! Like Lynx wouldn't be more help to her. You'd just creep her out.

Hatul: (indignantly) Bonnie and I get along perfectly well, and I wouldn't have stolen from her!

Zuannis: No, you'd have just sampled her “essence” and that would have creeped her out!

Marla: (attempting to regain control of the interview) Zuannis, would you tell me a little bit about Lynx, please?

Zuannis: Lynx hasn't had it so good, either. He's not like any other Zetithian man I've ever met. I may only know two of them, but believe me, they are nothing like Lynx! Cat and Leo are friendly and charming and just looking at them gives me—well, better not say what!—but Lynx is surly to the point of rudeness. There's a lot of anger in him—and he doesn't like women.

Marla: A Zetithian male who doesn't like women, huh? I've met Cat and Leo, too, and I find it hard to believe—

Zuannis: So did I at first. I told Bonnie there was something wrong with him—turns out I was right, too.

Marla: How so?

Zuannis: (shaking her head) I'd better not tell you. It's rather . . . personal.

Hatul: (eagerly) I know, I know! I'll tell you!

Marla: I'm not sure I want to hear it from you. . .

Hatul: He was a love slave to fifty women for ten years! Imagine the fun he had. . .

Marla: I thought he didn't like women.

Hatul: (slyly) Maybe not, but he probably knows more about pleasing them than any man alive. It'll come back to him. Now, if I had been the love slave of all those women, I'd have—

Marla: I don't think I want to hear this.

Zuannis: (firmly) Trust me, you don't. I'm going to tell your wife, Hatul!

Hatul: (snickering) She would be the recipient of all the knowledge I would have gained, so I don't think she would complain.

Marla: (grudgingly) You may have a point, there, Hatul.

Zuannis: (shuddering) No, he doesn't. Hatul could learn everything there is to know about pleasuring a woman, but no Norludian could ever be as handsome and sexy as a Zetithian—not in a million years!

Marla: Well, you're right about that much . . . they are pretty hot. . .

Hatul: I'd be better than that scrawny little husband of yours, Zuannis. You're just jealous.

Zuannis: I am not! Joachen is a very handsome man!

Hatul: Well, if you want to delude yourself, you go right ahead.

Zuannis: You'd better watch your mouth, Hatul!

Hatul: Interesting choice of words. . . . (sticking out his tongue at her)

Zuannis: And you just keep that tongue in your head! I don't want to see it, let alone—Oh, God, Marla, don't let him touch you!

Marla: (shrieks) I think we need to wrap this up now. This has been Marla Elkhorn reporting on the upcoming release of The Cat Star Chronicles: Outcast, by Cheryl Brooks. Look for it June 1, 2009!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Washington or bust

By Sharon Lathan

I'm a planner. Drives my husband insane, as he is the spontaneous type. You know, one of those get up one day, throw stuff in the car, and go type of guys. That is well and fine, as long as I know we are planning to do it several days in advance! This character trait is one reason why I am already rifling through the information for the RWA National conference in Washington DC that is 2 months from now.

Frankly it is driving me insane that it is still a whole two months away. That is AGES from now! I suppose that means that the other reason I am already studying the scheduled workshops and speakers is because I am impatient. But I can’t help it! I am giddy with excitement. You see, this is my first conference - ever. I always wanted to go to one of the numerous nursing conferences that are held all over the place. I have thought of it for years, but for some reason I never took the plunge. Part of that may be that no matter how much I adore my chosen field, attending 3 or 4 days of 8 hour lectures on neonatal disease processes and new treatment modalities never sounded as exciting as High Octane Heroes and Sex Scene Viagra!

Yep, those are just two of the hundred workshop topics. Oh, some are rather ho-hum, like The 15-minute Synopsis or Love Your Voice. I’m not saying these blah titled workshops may not be riveting and replete with vital information – I know I will be attending a number of them - but how can that compare with How Not to Suck and Smart Women, Short Skirts. But whatever the catchy title, or not, I am blown away by the diversity of topics. What to do, what to do!! So many of them are happening at the same time! Thank the maker for DVD recordings, amen?

Anyone else perused the lengthy list offered at the RWA website? There are even PDF outlines for most of the workshops. My personal must-go-tos are: How to Live in Another Century, Why We Love Mr. Darcy (I am not making this up), The Setting as Character, Sex Throughout History, Prioritizing Life (boy do I need this one), High Octane Heroes (studies popular movies as examples), and the one this self-confessed geek is SO looking forward to – Lessons of Firefly: Learning from the Works of Joss Whedon. No, I have no idea what it has to do with what I write – probably nada – but I LOVED that show so will not be missing this one! Maybe Nathan Fillion will pop in to share his thoughts.... with his shirt off – Hey, a girl can dream, right?

What is really cool is the balance of subjects that deal with the craft of writing, living the writer’s life, understanding the career aspects of the publishing business, researching related, and others that are just for fun. I have nothing to compare it to, but I am fairly impressed with how it is arranged. There is something for everyone, no matter where you are in your career or what type of romance you write.

So I am plotting and figuring out how to work the lectures in with visiting my Casa Sisters, editor and publisher, and meeting new friends. I am looking forward to the luncheons, the librarian networking event, the Sourcebooks spotlight, and “Readers for Life” literary autographing. And, my first real booksigning!!! Oh joy! I will be sitting with my fellow authors and hopefully people will want a signed copy of my novel. I just can’t wait.

But, I must. The plane ticket is bought, the hotel reservation is set, and my conference registration is secure. I already have ideas on how to get my hair done and money is set aside for some new clothes. I am raring to go!

Now I know some of you are veterans of the RWA conference scene. I want to hear your thoughts on past conferences. Tell me which workshops pique your interest this year and what you learned most before. Share insights, words of wisdom, humorous anecdotes, etc. with the admittedly naïve newbie who wishes the plane were taking off tomorrow.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Happy Victoria Day!!

Today is Victoria Day. When I was a kid, Victoria Day (officially the Monday before May 25th) was the start of summer and signalled that school would soon be out. (And that my birthday was coming!) It meant fireworks and hot dogs, a long weekend, nice weather, tulips and freshly mowed lawns.

But we all knew what it meant, too. It was a celebration in honour (using the Canadian spelling today!) of Queen Victoria's birthday.

Today, though we still call it Victoria Day, it is as often called May Two Four, as if it is a case of beer. (It is supposed to be officially held on May 24th, but that never happens!) Canadians are very fond of beer, so a long weekend to celebrate it... it's a natural fit.

But there has always been some agitation to change the idea of the day to something more reflective of our growing multi-culturalism. Many Canadians feel that we should not be celebrating something so very English as the birthday of a long-dead English monarch, given that we are a country that welcomes and celebrates so many cultures, from the First Nations that are the bedrock of our country, through the French and English settlers, past the Irish and Scots heritage that can still be heard in the 'Down East' dialect and accent, the German and Polish roots of much of Ontario, the Ukranian and Scandinavian pioneers that moved steadily west and to our modern day Somali, Vietnamese, Korean, Sudanese, Latin American and Caribbean blends of cultures.

But to me, that is exactly what Canada Day (July 1st) is all about. That is the true celebration of our rich multi-cultural country. So why change the name of Victoria Day?

As Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun says in his May 16th post about the agitation to change the name to something more reflective of our diversity, "And what happens 100 years from now? Change it again to something more chic? Why stop at Victoria Day? Why not change the name of the city, Victoria, B.C., too, since there are people who live there who aren't of British ancestry?" and he goes on to add, "And who gets to decide what is suitable or offensive? Sure changing everything to please certain people is an option but the other option is for us to accept our rich history, which includes our growth and diversity thanks to the generosity of people like Queen Victoria."

I don't know if I would go so far as to say Queen Vickie was 'generous', but I do agree that if we change it, we may as well not name the holdiay at all, because the name would have to change every few years to reflect the changes in our culture. I think it's likely only those of us with British forebears who are even worried about the 'Englishness' of the name. To paraphrase the bard, "For what's in a name? By any other name it would still be a day off work!"

I do apologize for taking up this space today with a subject of such pure Canadian interest, (I reveal my Canadianism by apologizing; we are said to be a very polite people - LOL) but I'd now like to turn it over to you. Memorial Day is coming up next weekend, and I just realized I don't really know what it is about. Is it a veteran's holiday in memory of fallen heroes? I watch the Indy 500 race on the Sunday of Memorial weekend every year, and it seems to me that there is a lot of militaria involved, so am I on the right track? I know, I could Google it and know in 3.5 seconds, but I'm more interested in what it means to Americans. Is it your official start to summer, or something more?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Where Are You in the Pack?

Have you ever thought of how your birth order affected you as a child? Teen? Adult? Were you a middle child? The first born? The baby of the family? An only child? Not sure???

Is the idea of birth order overrated?

I was the eldest of two children and yep, I have the classic symptoms of being the eldest child syndrome--super responsible, often passed down parental instruction to my sister, helped her with a myriad of situations. One of my former friends was a middle child, the lost child syndrome--so he had to get attention by getting into drugs. My mother was an only child, again super responsible, really a friend to her mother when her parents divorced, so more like a miniature grown-up. Another friend of mine was the baby of the family, and on top of that a late in life baby. The combination made for a much doted on "baby," by both parents and older siblings. One friend told me he was the middle child, but only son, so doted on by his parents and sisters, making him the baby of the family. :)

So does birth order effect the outcome of the child's role in life?

I've thought of this on and off for years--my children are not what you call the typical birth order children. One was born three years before the other, so my son should be the older responsible sibling. But my daughter is just as responsible and just as motivated to succeed.

So what happened? It wasn't the birth order, but the way I raised them. I never put my son in charge of my daughter. I treated them as equals. And I gave each special time that was theirs alone. It might have been easier because they are a boy and girl. But I don't think so.

I remember a friend talking baby talk to her child and I wondered when she (my friend) would learn to talk so her child could. :) There's a difference between changing the tone of your voice to communicate in a way that a baby finds appealing, like a puppy would. But it's not the same as trying to teach your baby language by changing it to baby talk that doesn't make sense to anyone but the parent who is perpetuating the language.When my daughter couldn't say her name, and we repeated the way she'd say it, she'd be angry. To her ear, she was saying her name correctly, and she didn't like being told she was saying some other version. But we were trying to show her how her version sounded to us. We finally had to drop it until she could wrap her tongue around the syllables.

For writers, birth order can be a great tool to use in creating characters. It can be just as great showing how people who might act a certain way given their birth order, don't, because of family circumstances.

In my werewolf packs, many of the siblings are multiple births. So that's another birth order situation--twins, triplets, multiple births. My maternal grandmother and her sister were twins. My great aunt was the eldest by five minutes. She was in charge. LOL :) They also had a younger brother, totally the baby of the family, and being a boy, very much doted on by the older sisters and the mother.

So in Destiny of the Wolf, I show three brothers--triplets. The eldest is the pack leader and definitely in charge. His two brothers are sub leaders. But the pecking order's there from the start. The middle brother is in charge whenever the hero isn't, and the youngest is responsible, but still he's the baby of the triplets. :) I had fun setting up their characterizations based on birth order.

Where are you in the family as far as the pecking order goes? Do you ever wish you were born in some other order?

Terry Spear

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gotta Love Author Recommendations

A friend of mine in Michigan was in her Borders last weekend and let me know that an endcap had "if you enjoy Charlaine Harris" with books below and ta da! Wicked by Any Other Name was on the top shelf! She took this picture. And look below me and you'll see fellow Casababe Terry Spear's book.
When my friend went in the other day they had added Hex Appeal to it. Very nice indeed!
I think we all love author recommendations.
I had a book signing Friday night and one reader and I talked about that. Who do we enjoy reading. And the best thing is, she loves Wicked, she'd bought it a few days ago, and plans to track down the first two books.
I know I'm that way. If I find an author I want to find all their books. What about you? Do you do that? Need to read all they've put out?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Researching the Novel

What are you working on now--what author hasn't heard that question? When I first started writing fiction, one of my challenges was forcing myself to focus on finishing one story before beginning another in earnest. It's so easy, when you hit the Dreaded Middle of writing a novel, to want to move on to something different. And, to tell the truth, sometimes it does help to take a break and spend an afternoon playing with a different set of characters and their lives.

I'm currently working on another romantic comedy, hoping to build on Fire Me's following. Another rom com sits with our wonderful editor, Deb, waiting for her insights. Its title right now is (drumroll, please) My Own Personal Soap Opera: Looking for Reality in All the Wrong Places.

I love the fact that the title is "personal," the way Fire Me's title is. And I love that it has a subtitle that parallels Fire Me's (Scheming and Dreaming and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places).

Like Fire Me, My Own Personal Soap Opera involves an off-kilter premise: a head writer for a failing soap opera deals with lots of work and personal problems (including choosing between two men who are crushing on her) while using the show's scripts and story breakdowns to work out her personal "issues."

For both novels, I did research. (Yes, even for Fire Me, I asked friends and relatives what strategies they would use to get laid off, or what behavior had they witnessed in other employees that would lead them to want to lay off that person!)

For My Own Personal Soap Opera, I was fortunate enough to find a former soap opera actor who put me in touch with some wonderful people at As the World Turns, including the head writer there. I also read several autobiographies of soap stars, gathering useful bits of information along the way.

Once I've done this research, though, I always feel like writing a disclaimer at the beginning of my novel: The work you are about to read is fiction and I have taken liberties with reality! LOL!

As a novelist, I'm building a world, and sometimes that world is a little different from actual reality. So in reality, a soap opera scene breakdown might not be as detailed as it is in my story, but the head writer in my story is....different. Once I create her "differentness," I have to hope that it creates, by extension, a different approach to the reality within which her story is told.

Does that make sense? I hope so!

Now that Fire Me is launched, and My Own Personal Soap Opera is in the editor's queue, I'm starting research on a third romantic comedy where the hero is a college professor and the heroine the owner of a car dealership. For the college prof, I'm getting tons of great info from my just-graduating daughter (who used to play a game with her dorm mates: Who Can Make Up theFunniest Dissertation Title?). But I need to talk to some car dealership owners to get the scoop on that I can take the truth and start to bend it to suit my story!

There was a time that I would have felt...funny...about interviewing real people for background material for novels ("I'm a novelist and would like to ask you a few questions about..." "Uh, come I've never heard of you?"). But I've learned to put shyness aside and forge ahead with my questions. I've learned, in fact, that a lot of people are happy to share the details of their work or knowledge--even if they've never heard of you or seen your books!

I'd love to hear stories of how other novelists approach research--whether they rely on books and articles or actually interview people for the stories they tell. And whether they've felt odd, like I have, about talking to real people for the research.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Next Steps in the Journey

Happy Thursday everyone!
Well, the anticipation mounts! (For me at least!) In the past couple of weeks I've taken the next steps in my journey to the publication of HEALING LUKE (coming in September!) I received and read through my page proofs, that last chance to catch little problems before the book goes to print. I have to say, seeing the pages of my story looking so much like...well, a book
was no less a thrill this time than the first time I saw a book go into print. The process never gets old for me. Each part of the journey, though I grumble at times when I get busy, is still apart of a dream come true. My book is going to be published! (Pinching myself!)
Soon after I got the page proofs, I had an email from our wonderful Danielle filling me in on the behind the scenes work she was doing to prepare for the release of HEALING LUKE and getting me up to speed on what was being planned for later in the summer. Already, the most nerve-wracking part of the promotion, the submission to reviewers and waiting for reviews to come back, has begun. I knew a bit of what to expect thanks to the emails and blog posts of the other Casablanca Babes. But somehow knowing that MY book was headed to Publishers Weekly and Booklist made my palms sweat and my heart race.
Then today I received the almost-final cover for the book and my heart went pitty-pat. It's so pretty! I posted it earlier, but it is worth another look.

All together now...Ahhhh, oooohhh!
Next comes, what to me is the hardest part of thejourney. Promotion. I'll be doing a blogging tour in August and early September to introduce HEALING LUKE and stir up excitement before the release. But I must be the world's worst blogger. I'm absolutely sure no one wants to hear anything I have to say (other than in my books!). I really dig every time I post a blog, looking for something worthwhile to write about.
So I need your help! Readers, no lurking allowed today. I need your ideas! Tell me what things you like to read about in author blogs. Be specific. Do you want character interviews? The story of where the idea came from? More info on the setting? Deleted scenes? You tell me. I'll build a list to work from later this summer. Thanks in advance for your blog ideas and happy reading!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Delightful Surprises

If you had the chance to read my Wickedly Romantic post on Monday, you know that I had a wonderfully delightful surprise on Mother's Day when I opened an email from a bookseller:

Dear Judi, I've just finished an ARC of In Over Her Head and had to write to let you know how much I enjoyed the book. It was hilarious and total fun throughout. I'm been telling my cutomers and fellow booksellers how much I loved the book What a great sense of humor you have!!!!!!!! All I have to tell them is that it's a Little mermaid type story but instead of a little mermaid you have a big hunk of Mer man. Please note that I didn't refer to Reel as a merman. Wouldn't want to get him ticked of with me.........LOL. I can see why Sue Grimshaw encouraged you. This is a great story. I'll be sending Sue an email letting her know how mcuh I enjoyed you story and to be sure she sends me enough copies. There's nothing worse than wanting to recommend a book and not having it in stock! Thanks for some wonderful time away from reality.

Today, I had another delightful surprise.

Our hard-working publicist, Danielle, has me lined up for a slew of blog tours starting next week and running through the first month of In Over Her Head's launch, and I'm scheduled for May 27th on I hadn't realized that there would be a posting about my book already. (Thank God for Google Alerts!) So, I found this notice in my email and hopped on over to the blog to check it out.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the post - and watched the comments come in.

As a debut author, I've been thrilled that I found an agent who loves my voice, an editor and publisher who love my story, and as the reviews come in, others who like my "little talking fish story." What has completely blown me away, however, are the people who are anticipating the arrival of this story. People I don't know; not friends, not family - but who are beginning to feel that way as I've started seeing them around the web, talking about my story--something I wrote for fun. With smart-ass talking fish, and sea monsters, and Greek gods, and Mer men. Let us not forget the Mer men. :)

I still shake my head as I wait the 19 more days until it's official release date (though I will get to hold it in my hands on May 30 at BEA where I'll be signing the book, if not sooner, depending on when my author copies arrive) that this story, and all the hours I spent in the First Chapters Romance contest promoting it long before Deb bought it, is generating the interest it is.

So now I'm eagerly awaiting for everyone to read it and let me know if it was worth the wait. If they'll pick up the next ones in the series --

Which, in another delightful surprise, I found available for pre-order today on Amazon, Borders and BooksAMillion.

It's been a good few days!

I just wish June 1 would hurry up and get here!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Writer's Journey

By Robin Kaye

Last weekend I spoke at my local library about writing, my path to publication, my books, and the general state of publishing. I’m told I had a great crowd, which amazed me because there were only about 10 people in attendance, all of whom I knew. Still, it was a lot of fun to have the opportunity to speak to crowd who was actually interested in what I had to say.

The best part was when my favorite librarian got off from work early to join the group. She regaled everyone with the story of how I would come into the library a few days a week, check out a gazillion books and tell her about the book I was writing.

I remembered how much fun I had writing my first book. I had three small children at home and had moved across the country to a place where I had no friends or family. I came to writing through a back door, or so I like to think. I felt as if I needed to write. I needed the creative outlet that writing gave me. It never occurred to me that anyone else would be interested in reading what I had written until someone I respected asked to read my work. I didn’t think much of it, so I emailed my tome to her. She loved my story and urged me to have it published. I’ll never forget my shock. Someone actually seemed to enjoy what I had written as much as I did.

I’ve found that most people, at some time in their lives, want to write a book. I hear it all the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I should write a book about somebody’s life. I usually thank them and explain that no one but them could possibly do it justice. If they have a story to tell, they should be the one to tell it.

Writing a book is a daunting task. You not only have to write a book that you would enjoy reading, but that others would want to read as well. All writers have to be self confident enough to believe that other people would find their thoughts interesting. Then they actually have to sit down and do the work. Facing that blinking cursor every day is usually enough to cure anyone of the need to write. But it that doesn’t get you, then there’s the uphill battle to get the manuscript you’ve poured your heart and soul into published. Putting out there to face rejection, revision if you’re lucky, and finally the reviews.

Speaking at the library Saturday and seeing the pride in my sweet librarian’s eyes when she told my story made me realize, yet again, how lucky I’ve been to achieve my dream of publication. I admit to being an overnight success. I know I’ve yet to hit the Times list, the USA Today list, or any other list for that matter, but the four years in which I worked toward publication is considered an overnight success.

I can’t say if I’d have had the tenacity to write and pursue publication for 25 years, as I know some have before being published. I do know in my heart that I would have never stopped writing. It’s something that is necessary to my life. The fact that I’m lucky enough to have been published is just icing on the cake.

What about you? For those writers out there, how did you come to writing? For those of you who want to write, what’s keeping you going? Or what’s stopping you from telling your story? If I had a wish for all of you, it’s to have a revelation the likes of which I had Saturday. It was a wonderful experience to look at my journey through someone else’s eyes and rediscover my love for what I do, and what I would continue to do, even if I never had reached my goal.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sight Seeing in Venice

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

For years and years, the place that occupied the Number One spot on my "Bucket List" was Venice. Every picture I saw, every guidebook, every travel program that had even a mention of the city nicknamed La Serenissima (the Serene One) made me salivate.

Lucky me! My DH took me there! (maybe he was truly sick and tired of hearing me carry on about wanting to go) And La Serenissima did not disappoint, it truly is one of the most unique places on earth! The city left quite a lasting impression on me. No wonder I chose it for the setting of one of my romantic suspense novels. And because I wanted readers to feel as if they were really in Venice, I decided to include some of the most famous landmarks in the story.

The Bridge of Sighs --This lovely Venetian landmark gets a lot of attention in guide books and virtually every person who travels there or every program that features Venice as a destination mentions this bridge. No surprise then that it plays a pivotal role in The Treasures of Venice, so here it is again. The bridge connects the Doge's Palace with the prison on the other side of the canal.

The Doge's Palace -- Another must-see landmark with a role in The Treasures of Venice! The Doge's Palace was the residence of the elected ruler of the Venetian City-State as well as the seat of government. This huge and ornate building is full of fantastic paintings, most attached to the walls and ceilings.

St. Mark's Cathedral and the Piazza surrounding it are the quintessential image of Venice and are the location of the opening scene of The Treasures of Venice. The Doge's Palace is right next door to St. Mark's and there really are about a million pigeons occupying the piazza at any given time.

The Rialto Bridge -- the largest and definitely the most
unique of the five bridges that cross Venice's Grand Canal. It is lined with very exclusive shops and has been since it was finished in its present incarnation in 1591! Yup, it makes more than one appearance in The Treasures of Venice.

What about you? What kind of sight seeing to you like to do? What are some of your favorite places and things to see?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Go and and enjoy the day--I know many of you are mothers (children and pets alike!) and also, that many of you often look at your books as your children too!

I found this excerpt from one of my favorite books of all time, Little Women, which reminds me of my own Mama J, who gave me very similar advice when I was young:

from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

'Mother, do you have "plans," as Mrs. Moffat said?' asked Meg, bashfully.

'Yes, my dear, I have a great many; all mothers do, but mine differ somewhat from Mrs. Moffat's, I suspect. ...

'I want my daughters to be beautiful, accomplished, and good; to be admired, loved, and respected; to have a happy youth, to be well and wisely married, and to lead useful, pleasant lives, with as little care and sorrow to try them as God sees fit to send. To be loved and chosen by a good man is the best and sweetest thing which can happen to a woman; and I sincerely hope my girls may know this beautiful experience.

It is natural to think of it, Meg; right to hope and wait for it, and wise to prepare for it; so that, when the happy time comes, you may feel ready for the duties, and worthy of the joy.

My dear girls, I am ambitious for you, but not to have you make a dash in the world-marry rich men merely because they are rich, or have splendid houses, which are not homes because love is wanting. Money is a needful and precious thing-and, when well used, a noble thing-but I never want you to think of it as the first or only prize to strive for.

I'd rather see you poor men's wives, if you were happy, beloved, contented, than queens on thrones, without self-respect and peace.

'One thing remember, my girls; mother is always ready to be your confidante, father to be your friend; and both of us trust and hope that our daughters, whether married or single, will be the pride and comfort of our lives.'

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fun Times with a Fan/Friend

by Sharon Lathan

Frequently I have said that one of the BEST by-products to this whole writing thing has been the marvelous people I have become acquainted with. Most of you know by now that I came into my writing and publishing ventures in a roundabout way. I began by freely posting my short-stories and chapters on my website for anyone to read. I suppose there are pros and cons to that approach, but for me the pros so outweigh any cons that I am very happy this was the path fate chose for me. Along the way, as readers from all over the globe found me and read the chapters and commented in the forum, I grew to “know” a few of the regulars. For a long time I was leery of this. I mean, we all hear of the internet dangers and see the exposes on Primetime! But it was a gradually building relationship and in the end there are a dozen or so gals who have stuck with me to this day. All of them are dear to me and precious friends even though I have met few of them face-to-face! We are primarily pen-pals, so to speak, but our friendship is as real as if we lived next door.

Case in point: This past week I was especially blessed to meet one of my original readers. Her name is Elly and she lives far, far away in the magical land called The Netherlands! I no longer recall exactly how Elly and I made the transition from writer/fan to friend/friend, but it has been the latter relationship for well over two years now. Somewhere along the line she began sharing bits and pieces of her life with me. We chatted about all kinds of stuff, as friends do. Naturally she loved my story – I mean, why else would she write to me in the first place? But it was the deeper revelations that touched me.

You see, Elly knows what it is to love a man completely - heart and soul, blood and bone - just as I write it between Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam. She and her husband were together for 42 years. They raised two boys and went through many of the typical trials of marriage. I am sure it wasn’t always blissful. But none of that really mattered because Elly and Paul loved each other with that special kind of love we romance writers create in our stories, all the while hoping it is true and everlasting. Well, it is. Love is a powerful emotion that is meant to grow stronger with passion and devotion not waning but soaring. It can happen, as Elly and Paul proved.

Elly lost her Paul a year ago after a long illness. I was honored and blessed to personally share in her grief; a grief that was tempered by the deep love they possessed. She said that my story comforted and cheered her. I told her that her true-life story gave me strength and conviction to continue writing what I believe in my heart is possible. Frankly, I think I reap the greater benefit!

Knowing all that, imagine how I leapt for joy when she told me that her sons were bringing her to the West Coast of the US for a tour! And imagine how uncontainable my delight when their path toward the Sequoias and Yosemite would bring them to my doorstep! For months I waited with bated breath. Not because I was meeting a “fan” but because I was meeting a friend! AND a whole family of Dutch people! How many of you can say that? LOL!

We only had one long evening together as their touristy schedule was tight. But it was marvelous. We cooked them an American style BBQ of uniquely California Angus beef (the best!) tri-tip. Cooked to perfection as my hubby is an A-Class Q’er. On the Weber with hickory smoked coals and wood chips. Yum! Hungry yet? Valley grown potatoes with the fixins, artichokes from Watsonville, exotic greens salad, and fresh picked San Joaquin strawberries with cream. It was divine! Her “boys” are grown men, twins standing easily 6’4” as they towered over my son, so they devoured the beef. But the highlight was the company. Since I write about another culture than my own, I adore learning how folks from other parts of the world live. One of the advantages of having fans from all over are the intriguing facts I have learned, but that is for another blog day! We ranged from politics to social customs to favorite movies to awesome tasting licorice to European speed limits to so much more. Oh! And we got to see and touch Euros! I know, I’m a geek, but I have never been to Europe so it was really cool. They are so pretty!

It was an experience I will never forget as long as I live. I have the photos to enjoy, the gifts she gave to cherish, and the warmth in my heart that will never dissipate. I can now add Elly to the list of reader/friends I have spent time with that started with Jen from Montana, Kathy from San Francisco, and May from Scotland. I hope someday to add many more to that list.

Thanks for letting me share this with you all. The photos are self explanatory, I imagine, with a note that the blonde girl and “shorter” boy are mine. Now it is your turn to share your reader/fan/friend experiences.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Seasons, Settings and SEALs

The other day in a drug store, I stopped to look at a display of home weather station devices. As I compared wired and wireless thermometers and moisture sensors, another customer, an elderly man with a watermelon of a belly under a forest green shirt wandered over to kibitz.

After we had discussed the merits of the systems offered and their price tags, he asked me, “Why do you want one?”

“Oh, I like weather,” I said.

The answer seemed to puzzle him. “Are you meteorologist?” he persisted.

“No.” I searched for a more complete answer to give him, but I didn’t have one. “I just like weather.”

And I do. Weather is an essential element of setting. Readers won’t sit still for long descriptions of locale. By using weather I can place my reader inside the setting.

One of the fun parts of writing SEALed With a Kiss was that I got to do a hurricane. Not a super dramatic Category Five like you see on TV. I wanted a real, far more common, Category One, depicted as it’s experienced by people who really live on North Carolina’s coast. The film footage of stoplights swinging wildly and waves crashing over seawalls, so beloved by TV cameras, are sights you will never see—if you’ve got a lick of sense. You’ll find shelter and see only the inside of it, until the storm passes.

I like to use weather, not so much to give the characters an obstacle to overcome, as to reveal character, establish mood and even to subtly underscore the theme.

SEALed With a Promise, although also set in Eastern North Carolina, is a different story and required different weather. The story begins about a month after SEALed With A Kiss, which puts it near the end of November.

The likelihood of hurricanes notwithstanding, Fall brings the best, most enjoyable weather to Eastern North Carolina of the whole year.

First of all, Fall is a season which lasts a long, long time—unlike Spring which can come and be gone in a month, or winter which rarely gets serious for more than a couple of months.
In Fall, the energy-sapping heat and humidity relent. Mosquitoes, flies, and gnats abate their annoyance. One miraculously perfect, seventy-eight degree, bright blue-and-gold day follows the next. Without the heat haze, the air is preternaturally clear, bright sun sparkles off every surface, and shadows are so sharp and dense they appear to be cut from midnight blue fabric and draped across lawns and streets and houses.

Everyday, people exclaim at the beautiful weather. And the next day, they exclaim that the perfection has miraculously happened again.

Caleb, called Do-Lord by his SEAL friends, meets Emmie at the wedding of Jax and Pickett on one of those Fall days, so perfect that linen-covered tables for a wedding breakfast have been set out of doors, even though it’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Caleb comes from Alabama trailer trash. For the first time he’s in a place where people are actually living the idyll of Southern hospitality and graciousness. The perfect weather underscores that these people can have anything they want.

He—who has never even been to a wedding before, much less one among the upper crust—is meeting the challenge with a SEAL’s competence and adaptability, but on the inside he’s aware he’s faking it. He isn’t one of them and he doesn’t belong.

But his nemesis, Senator Teague Calhoun, does.

When Emmie, best friend of the bride, comes to him needing his covert operative skills for her cockamamie a scheme to liberate the wedding cake, he suddenly sees beyond her spinsterish exterior. She is one of these people, but she’s not. A fling with her would provide the cover he needs to infiltrate Calhoun’s world. If they’re a couple, he can hide in plain sight while he gathers the intelligence he needs to bring Calhoun down, something he’s waited seventeen years to do.

And it won’t be a hardship duty. The more he sees of Emmie, the prettier she gets, and the more he’s captured by her quirky charm. For the first time in his life, he grants himself a luxury he’s never had before: time.

A season which seems to offer a respite from time’s relentless passage is the perfect setting to underscore themes of time and timelessness I explored in SEALed With A Promise. A romance, though, is most of all about the progress of a relationship. For fun, I enjoyed letting the weather change every time Caleb and Emmie entered a new season in their relationship.

Night before last, channel surfing, I came across a weather station just as the meteorologist said, "In this part of North Carolina, May is the most dangerous month. "

Wouldn't that be a great opening sentence for a book?

So what’s your favorite season, or setting?