Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ta-ta for now!

by Libby Malin Sternberg

Well, ladies, the time has come . . . to bid you all adieu.

As many of you know, I am dropping off the Casablanca Authors blog. I don't have another book coming out with Sourcebooks in the near future, so I'm going to exit stage right, leaving the spotlight to the many other wonderful authors who have lots to share with Casablanca book readers. I've had a blast being in your company and wish you all well!

I've summarized in a previous post what my future holds. But here's a quick recap for those who've missed it:

I have a historical women's fiction novel being released in the fall. Titled Sloane Hall (and written as Libby Sternberg, my married name), this book tells the tale of a chauffeur who falls in love with his Hollywood starlet employer just as she's about to make her first talking picture. Just when he thinks she's returning his affection, his heart is broken by secrets she hides from the camera and the world. Inspired by Jane Eyre, Sloane Hall tells a fresh tale of obsession and forgiveness.

I have high hopes for this novel because it's a real "book of my heart," one of those stories an author can't seem to shake off, no matter how many times people (agents, editors) tell her that it's not marketable. I blogged about how it came to sell over at my own blog -- it's worth a look for all you who struggle with rejection. Rejection made this manuscript stronger, and the advice of a rejecting editor eventually pointed me in the direction of a sale.

I also blog about its parallels to and differences from Jane Eyre, the classic Charlotte Bronte romance. If you're a Jane Eyre fan, you might enjoy this post here. And there's a lively discussion going on about favorite scenes from Bronte's novel and whether Jane was a feminist at this blog post.

In addition to Sloane Hall, I'm still learning how to market my Kindle exclusive mystery novella, Death Is the Cool Night. I've blogged about this experience as well -- why I came to put a book on Kindle myself, what I learned about the process, what other authors can accomplish in that new market.

As I work on these various promotional efforts, I continue to edit manuscripts for two publishing houses and write the occasional freelance article.

Oh, and I'm also excited to be helping my daughter, Hannah Sternberg, as she gets ready for the publication of her first novel, a YA, titled Queens of All the Earth.

So, although I'll be gone from this particular spot, you can probably find me around the internet somewhere. Stay in touch! Friend me on Facebook at Libby Malin Sternberg. I give away free books there occasionally!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Camping Mama

by Amanda Forester

Some of my favorite memories as a kid are the many times we went camping as a family. It was great fun! I remember playing in lakes, swimming in ice cold glacier water, or catching frogs in muddy ponds. Sleeping in a tent outside was always a thrill (except for the time we forgot the rain fly and it started to pour in the middle of the night and the tent filled up with water).

Camping food is the best too. Somehow anything cooked over an open flame is delicious! Hot dogs roasted over the fire, “dirty” eggs in the morning, and of course s’mores at night. My brother and I had different strategies for roasting marshmallows. He would carefully roast his over red coals until each side was golden brown. I was too impatient and would plunge mine into the fire until it burst into flame. I’d wait a few second for the flames to melt the insides, then blow it out and eat the charred thing. With chocolate and graham cracker I swear the black ashen husk of the marshmallow was barely noticeable!

So it was with eager anticipation that I planned my own family’s first camping trip last year. We were going to have so much fun! My first task was packing for the trip. When I was a kid I would just throw some stuff in a bag, which my mom would then double check and add the things I forgot. Now that I was the mom, this task fell to me.

Packing was my first clue that camping for moms is different than camping for kids.

It took me weeks to prepare. I made lists, I read books, and I planned for every possible weather contingency. There was a lot of equipment to buy. Have you wandered around a camping store? So many gadgets! And all of them collapse down into itty bitty packages. Me, a credit card, and a camping store is a dangerous combination. After spending as much on “roughing it” as a trip to Disneyland, I moved on to meal planning. I made careful estimations as to how long food would last in the cooler. Making a detailed list is key because you must bring everything you need for that meal. Want to eat a can of baked beans? You better be packing a can opener!

Finally the day of the trip arrived. We arrived at the campsite and the kids ran off the play. I spent the afternoon running around trying to set up camp and at the same time make sure junior didn’t fall into the stream and juniorette didn’t fall out of a tree.

Finally the campsite was up and ready. Now it was time to play… wait, no I needed to start cooking dinner. I got the fire started and put on the grill. Getting the fire right, with the coals just perfect is a bit of a challenge. Mom did it, easy—at least that’s how it appeared to me as a kid. I was coming to realize Mom did a lot of stuff… and maybe it wasn’t so easy.

Dinner was finally a success. Now to search out fireflies and frogs by the creek… or I could do the dishes instead. After the dishes it’s time for my favorite – s’mores! I get the kids sticks to roast the marshmellows and show them the proper technique. Suddenly, one of the marshmallows catches on fire and my kid screams, waving around the blazing torch. Argghhh! In a panic I grab for the flaming ball of death.

Crisis averted, I finally get the kids their s’mores prepared and now it’s time for mine. Except no, I need to take juniorette to the potty – which when camping is an experience best forgotten as soon as possible.

The rest of the trip pretty much went along the same lines. My kids had a fabulous time, just like I used to have. I worked my butt off, just like my mom used to do. Afterwards I called my mom to thank her.

We are planning on going camping this summer again. The kids are totally looking forward to it, and this time I know what I’m in for!

So here’s to all the moms who work hard so their kids can have a great time! Have you ever had to fill a role your mom did and realized just how hard that lady worked for you? Love ya Mom!

Oh and if anyone wants my camping packing list, e-mail me at I’m happy to share!

Monday, June 28, 2010

'Tis The Season

No, I have not been afflicted with brain-melt due to the San Joaquin Valley heat and projected my mind forward 6 months in a desperate attempt to cool down! I know it is summertime and that is our theme. But for me, since I do live a good portion of my time in a world 200 years in the past, I began thinking about what summertime meant for the English elite of the Regency Era. And that boils down to one common phrase: The Season.

The English custom of the elite in society passing months in London rather than their country homes began somewhere in the 17th century and continued to dominate the culture until well after WWI. Roughly coinciding with the sitting of Parliament, the official Season launched in earnest after Easter and ran until August when Parliament adjourned. The purpose was originally a time for the aristocracy and landed gentry to gather in Town to discuss politics and workings of State, but quickly evolved into a period of socialization and entertainment.

Events such as The Derby and the Royal Ascot horse races were essential to attend. Strolling or riding along the promenade Rotten Row in Hyde Park was on every agenda during the cooler afternoon. Balls and private parties occurred nightly at dozens of places and invitations were coveted. Salons sprung up, those intimate gatherings hosted by certain glittering members of the ton where the elite mingled with artists and scientists in lively discussions. If not at one of those, then it was a concert or opera or stage play. The point was to see and be seen! Not a day or night was wasted, especially if you were young and/or unmarried.
And that, my friends, was the real reason for The Season. Each social engagement was designed to advance a family’s prestige and how better to do that than through marriage? Class structure ruled and no one forgot the importance of connections. While dancing and dining, impressions were made that had generational effects so that even if without children anywhere near marriageable age, a family was thinking ahead. Business affairs handled by gentlemen over brandy and cigars at White’s and Boodle’s were at least partially about ascending the social ladder while hopefully increasing one’s wealth. Ladies’ gossip while shopping and sipping tea displayed one’s refinement, character, and knowledge of the world. Picking a partner was typically not as much about romance and love as it was about which family offered a son or daughter with the highest standards.

Ask yourself – If I were a debutante of the ton and it was the first decade of the 19th century, how would my summer proceed?

Before you could attend any of the numerous society events scheduled you would be presented, by appointment, to the reigning monarch, in this case His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. Male or female, being presented to the Court of St. James was an elaborate affair with every movement, word, and garment strictly dictated. Heaven forbid you messed up in the tiniest way or your future as a member of the elite, and most importantly in the marriage market, could be destroyed or severely impacted!

Naturally there would be fun with a plethora of soirees, operas and plays, museum exhibits, sporting events, horse races, and at the top of the list, dances. For the latter, Almack’s Assembly was the crème de la crème. Acceptance into Almack’s was all-important. Being denied admission by the Lady Patronesses who controlled every aspect of social life for the unmarried, down to setting the fashion styles and rules of conduct, truly was the death knell for an appropriate marriage.

The weeks from April to July or August were an exhausting but exhilarating whirl of activity. On a typical day luncheon would be taken with guests followed by the entire afternoon spend “calling” for brief 10-30 minute visits to as many friends as possible. Shopping, tours to museums or daytime sporting events filled other hours. From 4pm to 7pm it was the “fashionable hour” – that period to flirt, greet friends, and show off one’s wardrobe and equipage at Hyde Park’s Rotten Row. Then it was home to dress for dinner, that lasting up to 3 hours. Afterwards, it was the opera or perhaps a ball. Maybe both! Do not expect to lay your head down until 2 or 3am, and then get up and do it all again.
Ah! To be young! Not sure about you, but our modern way of lazy summer fun by the pool sounds better to me. Until I think of a handsome man in tight breeches with courtly manners asking me to dance. Hmmm……

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Summer Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate – William Shakespeare

Hmm. I'm not quite sure the bard was a fan of summer considering that quote.

I was surprised when the subject of summer pursuits came up in my critique group the other day. Well, not surprised by the topic, since I brought it up, knowing I needed to write a “summer” themed blog soon. No, I was surprised by the range of emotions this particular season seemed to evoke amongst our members. So I thought I’d share some of those thoughts with you today.

For starters, Heather Boyd lives in Australia. So for her, summertime activities include drinking ginger beer and celebrating Christmas. I have to give her credit, that was not the sort of summer fun I was expecting to hear. But as realtors always say – Location, location, location. Her best summer memory is something I don’t imagine I’ll ever get the opportunity to see. Her parents were driving across Australia and she’d fallen asleep. Heather said, “I woke up at sunset to find kangaroos keeping pace with the car.” That just sounds magical to me.

Stateside, however, the excitement for the season was embraced by some, but not by all.

Julie Johnstone loves lazy swims in the ocean and searching for seashells on the beach. She said, “Summer is my favorite season because life slows down and I don’t feel rushed to do anything.”

The idea of lazy swims in the ocean gave me heart palpitations, however. For me there’s nothing lazy about swimming in the ocean, it’s more of a panicked rush back to the shore. I always think I’m fine and then an image of Spielberg’s Jaws flashes in my mind and I can’t get back to land soon enough before I hyperventilate.

Erin Kelly says she
lives for summer. “
We live on the lake, and every day we swim with the dogs, go wake boarding or wake surfing, putter around on the pontoon, or simply relax on the dock and tend to my container veggie garden.

I don’t know if I’m coordinated enough for the wake surfing, but she makes the rest of it sound nice. Then again, I can usually be talked into trying something once.

Melissa Dawn Harte loves the relaxing and lazy days of summer so much she never wants it to end. While drinking a large pink lemonade, she vowed, “Someday I plan to retire to the coast and buy a sailboat.” She is always the adventuress.

Still, I don't know if that's the life for me. I like the coast, don't get me wrong, but I think I when it's time for me to retire, I'll want to be pampered 24/7.

Contrarily, Catherine Gayle’s rant on the season had me in stitches. “I hate summer. I hate summer with a passion. I hate it because summer is miserably hot and humid in Texas, and all I want to do is go to Antarctica or North Pole, Alaska to cool off for a minute. I hate it because the sun comes up so much earlier than I want to get out of bed, but my cats have decided that sunrise also means it is time for them to be fed. I hate it because I have extremely fair skin that burns at the drop of a hat, and so I have to not only slather on SPF 1,000,000 sunscreen all the time, but stay covered up with as much clothing as I can bear--which isn't much, since it is hotter than Hades.” She also said her favorite summer pastime was standing in a walk-in refrigerator.

For a more traditional and perhaps more nostalgic sentiment, Jerrica Knight-Catania says she remembers “catching fireflies at dusk when I was little".

I am sure she has plans to share that activity with her little princess as soon as she’s old enough. I know I enjoyed doing so with my son when he was younger. What is it about fireflies that make them fun? As a rule, I hate bugs; but there's something magical about fireflies (or lightning bugs depending on where you live and what you call them.)

So, I’ll pose to you a question I asked my critique partners. What is your favorite summertime memory? Or if summer isn't your thing, how do you plan to escape it?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

An Exciting Time of Year!

By Robin Kaye

Summer is always an exciting time of year. This summer especially because I just sold a new series to Sourcebooks – The Domestic Gods Gone Wild! Series. You’ll get to meet the heroes and heroines in my next book, Yours For the Taking. It will be released in January.

If signing my new contract wasn’t exciting enough, the same day I signed on the dotted line, I received a phone call telling me that my book Too Hot to Handle won the Holt Medallion for Best Romantic Comedy! The thing I love most about the Holt Medallion is that it is judged by readers, the very people I write for, not the publishing elite. I’m completely over-the-top because Romeo, Romeo won last year too, so this year’s win completely shatters my concern that it was all a big fluke. Well, almost.

The Romance Writers of America’s National Conference takes place every July. This is something I look forward to all year. For those who don’t know me, I’m a bit of an extrovert. (okay, you in the peanut gallery, keep it down) I love being around people so keeping myself locked in an office staring at my computer, writing 40 hours a week is difficult. Conferences are my saving grace. Nationals is a wonderful time to go on a road trip with my critique partners, get together with writing friends, meet with my agent and editor, go to parties, dinners, and generally do everything I haven’t done since the last conference.

The best things happen to me at Conferences. I sold my first book, Romeo, Romeo at the 2007 National Conference, I won the Golden Heart that same year, and this year, Breakfast in Bed is a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best Awards. The Booksellers’ Best Awards Banquet is at Nationals so I’m really hoping my luck holds out.

If you live in the Orlando, Florida area, I hope you will come out for the 2010 “Readers For Life” Literacy Autographing at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort on Wednesday, July 28th from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. More than 500 authors participate in the signing, including most of the Casa Babes and me. Stop by and say hi! Admission is free and all the money raised from the sales of our books will go to local literacy charities.

Thankfully, after a whirlwind week at Nationals, my husband and two of my three kids will meet me at Disney for the beginning of a much-needed vacation. We’ll spend a few days with the big-guy, Mickey Mouse and then head down to the West Coast to spend time with my family. I can’t wait!

So what is the most exciting thing about summer to you? Ahem…please remember this is a PG rated blog.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer is for Concerts!

When I think of summer, I think of concerts. It seems like every summer, I’d go to numerous concerts. I lived in Houston as a teenager, so my friends and I would go see all our favorite groups at Southern Star Amphitheater in Astroworld. Sadly, Astroworld in no longer. It’s just a field on the side of the freeway.

The first concert I saw was when I was in sixth grade. I went with my dad to see REO Speedwagon and Cheap Trick. Remember “Can’t Fight This Feeling”? I loved that song, and I’m sure all the other sixth graders did.

One of the first concerts I saw without parents was Depeche Mode. That was in 1988. Let me tell you, the guys from DM made an impression. I thought they were the coolest thing ever. I went out the next day (or rather had my mom drive me to the mall) and bought their Black Celebration album on cassette. No CDs back then.

I started dressing in all black and listening to bands like The Cure, New Order, and The Smiths. I remember one summer I saw Heart, New Order, and Erasure at Southern Star. At fifteen, I was a little surprised to see a man in a pink tutu on stage (Erasure), but for me, anything could happen at Astroworld. It was a place of discoveries.

I never did see The Smiths. I guess they didn’t come to Southern Star or maybe Morrissey was on his own by then. I would have liked to hear “Meat is Murder” live. That was my favorite song and one reason I became a lifetime vegetarian.

My musical tastes now run more toward the newsboys, TobyMac, and Chris Tomlin, and if you were to peek in my CD player in my car it would probably have a Baby Einstein lullaby CD in it. But that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten those days of black lipstick and Depeche Mode.

What about you? Any concerts you wish you’d seen?

Thursday, June 24, 2010


To my complete surprise and delight, I have been named Editor of the Year and Sourcebooks has been named Publisher of the Year by the New York City chapter of RWA. Thank you so, so much for this recognition. I feel very honored.

Ok, that was 10 seconds of glory and celebration, now back to work!

Last month on this blog I took pitches and had a GREAT time, and I'm going to do it again today! HOWEVER, please read these directions carefully because this month's event is a PITCH CONTEST--you must follow the rules (unlike your heroine, ok?).

*I will choose ONE WINNER from the pitches sent to the blog by midnight tonight (Thursday 6/24/10).

*The winner will be announced by midnight tomorrow night (Friday 6/25/10).

*The PRIZE is--a critique from MOI!!!! The winner will be invited to send me their synopsis and three chapters for a critique and will get their critique within 4 weeks of me receiving their materials.

*IF YOU WANT YOUR PITCH CRITIQUED, you should send it to me directly at as well as posting it on the blog. Pitch critiques will be done within 6-8 weeks.

*If you are too shy to post your pitch, send it to me directly at and I will critique it. Please note that only pitches posted on the blog will be considered as entries in the contest.

Here's the gist of what I'm looking for in a pitch:

Please be sure to include:

*Your publishing/sales history (how many books and how many copies sold to readers). This is where, if you're a debut author, you say so. If you're introducing a new pen name, please share your publishing/sales history of your previous name(s).

*The category and subgenre of the book

*A hook!! (The hook is a 2-3 sentence selling tool that gets a buyer excited about stocking your book and a reader excited to buy and then read it. It positions your book as something unique and desirable.)

*A quick introduction to the main characters and the major conflicts

My criteria--what I'm looking for:
*single title romance in any subgenre, 90,000 words minimum generally
*a heroine the reader can relate to
*a hero she can fall in love with
*a world gets created
*a hook I can sell the book with in 2-3 sentences
*the author has a career arc--this book is the beginning of a series or of a set in the same subgenre with a theme I can use to build the author's readership

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Oh shoot! No, don't!

It was my day to blog and I forgot (until just now when I peeked at my other calendar.) Have I mentioned I have a new book out?

I have no excuse...except for gobs of promo to announce my first mass market paperback release, whirlwind blog/book signing tour and keeping dates in two different places. I apologize profusly.

Okay, so summer is the theme. Is it summer? I've put everything on hold until after June. Which is a bummer since June is probably my favorite month. I like September too, except it heralds the end of summer and I get bummed out. No, really. I think I have a touch of S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder.)

I'm such a summer girl that I convinced my husband to take me someplace warm every winter. He knows I need something to look forward to to get me through the lengthening darkness. He can see for himself how much happier and more mobile I am in the sun. This year I signed myself up for the 'Cruise with your Muse' conference in January and I'll be going to RT in April. Now to find someplace to escape to in Feb or March. That ought to do it.

I'm brainstorming my next series, which takes place in New Orleans. Perfect! I see a research trip in my future! Meanwhile, let me recommend my current series! Strange Neighbors. It's getting all kinds of positive reviews, so it's not just me who loves it. (grin) And I've been getting reader emails too. That's almost more precious since they don't have to write about it to anyone--but they choose to! Now, don't get upset, reviewers. You're positive feedback is precious to me too. You have no idea how much I need that affirmation!

So, what do you think? Where would you set a book as an excuse to visit...for research, of course! And maybe to get away from your Strange Neighbors!

(I've heard people need to see an ad 7 times before it sticks. There's another one on this page somewhere and if (when) you go to Amazon, you'll find one there too! (wink)

Strange Neighbors
When star pitcher and shapeshifter Jason Falco buys a small apartment building, he sees it not only as an investment but as a place to escape the demands of major league baseball.

That is, until he meets his tenants--a sarcastic unemployed vigilante vampire; a wereraven with a morbid sense of humor; a werewolf thief who sells security systems; and two witches with an owl who work as phone sex actresses. Not to mention a beautiful, all too human nurse. But with all the hooting, howling, and hollering going on, how's an all-American shapershifter supposed to sweep a girl off her feet?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

School's Out For Summer!

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

No more pencils,
No more books,

No more teacher's dirty looks!

That's the rhyme my classmates and I used to chant every year during the last few days of school.

C'mon, I know you said it too! SOME of you, anyway. And even if you didn't, I know you were just like me and every other school kid and could not wait for summer vacation!

Oh, how I longed for those lazy warm summer days with nothing to do but sprawl out in the shade, reading a book or just relaxing. Doing NOTHING was so great! And I had almost three glorious months of it.

Of course, the reality of summer vacation was that usually by the middle of July, I was bored to tears, missing my friends, and running out of books to read (that were at my maturity level) at the library. If we got to go on a trip, it was usually the long car ride back to Texas to visit Grandpa and the other relatives and we were only gone ten or twelve days at the most. So even though I would never have admitted it, by the end of August, I was more than ready to go back to school.

But what about my teachers? More often than not, they were grumpy the first week or so of school. However, it never occurred to my childish self that maybe THEY weren't ready for their summer vacation to end!

And MAYBE the teachers were just as happy to see the last day of school as I was... WOW! That was a revelation. When I sat down to write The Wild Irish Sea, I decided to make my heroine Amber and her twin brother Parker both teachers. Amber teaches second and third grade and Parker teaches junior high school science and they are both THRILLED to be on their summer vacation.

Of course, being the dirty rotten romantic suspense writer that I am, I couldn't just let them laze around doing nothing like I did all those years ago. What fun would that be for me (and my readers)? If my characters aren't being tortured, then I'm falling down on my job as a d.r.r.s. writer!

So I sent Parker off to the auld sod to do a little research into his family tree and study a bit of marine biology. He's out on the ocean in a rowboat in a rain storm. And then... heh heh heh (Aunty laughs maliciously)!

...The unmistakable crack of a pistol tore across the waves. Parker flinched and lost his grip on the oars. Momentarily transfixed in horror, he watched one man slump forward. The other caught him and heaved him over the back of the boat...

A murder!

Holy sh*t!

He’d just witnessed a murder!

A mega dose of adrenaline rocketed through him, and Parker grabbed the oars and rowed for all he was worth. Unfortunately the pair in the sailboat must have heard him. Another shout echoed through the downpour, followed swiftly by another pistol retort.

Parker put his head down and kept rowing, puffing his cheeks with his rapid breaths.

Two more shots rang out. The second splintered the wood in front of the right oarlock...

The next bullet ripped through the wood close to his ankle. Seawater spewed into the opening. Instinctively, he lurched forward and another bullet tore through the side of his mackintosh, grazing a fiery trail across the flesh over his ribs.

He fell from the bench seat into the rising water in the bottom of the boat. The little vessel dipped drunkenly with the sudden shift in weight while yet another bullet lacerated the hull.

More water gushed in.

Oh God, I am seriously scr*wed!

Parker tried to pull himself back onto the seat, but slipped and banged his forehead against the oarlock.

...He was a thirty-year-old man about to die if he didn’t do something quick.

He knew what he had to do. He was a sitting duck in this tub. His only hope was to swim for it.

He crawled to the opposite side of the boat, sloshing up water all around him. His ribs burned like the salt water was a red-hot poker and he hissed in a sharp breath.

As the curragh dipped toward the sea, Parker risked a quick glance toward the shore, but he couldn’t tell if the bluffs were any closer. At least he was a good swimmer, though he didn’t really like swimming in the ocean. But he liked being shot a whole lot less.

With that morbid thought to cheer him, he launched himself over the side into the cold, black waves.

Poor Parker! About now, I'll bet he's wishing his summer vacation was over and he was back home lecturing to his students!

And I'm afraid if you want to find out what happens to Parker, you'll have to wait a couple more weeks. Heh! Heh! Heh! (Aunty's malicious laugh is not reserved for only her characters!) July 6th to be precise, for that is the day The Wild Irish Sea is scheduled to hit the book store shelves.

How did you spend your summer vacations as a child? Were you ready to return to school before the summer was over? Please share some of your summer vacation memories with us.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Vacation's All I Ever Wanted

Yes, I'm a child of the 80s and The Go-Go's song was a big part of my high school/college summers. And, funny, enough, I heard it today when I went to my neighbor's house (with the pool) after I got Genie Knows Best to my beta readers. The book is due at the end of the month, so you can see I'll be pretty busy the last few days once I get their feedback.

And then it'll be on to copy edits of I Dream of Genies, which are due the 6th. And then, on the 9th, I leave for RomCon in Denver, and THEN, I FINALLY get to go on vacation, and let me tell you, I'm going to need it! We're heading to Mt. Rushmore, Mt. Crazy Horse, Devil's Tower, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, so it's not going to be the normal relaxing beach vacation where I lay around and play Scrabble and read books (that I didn't write). I'm kind of bummed about that, but I do want my kids to see these sights while we're still the main family unit, so I'm sucking up my beach-withdrawal and doing this.

But at least I won't have a deadline breathing down my back. Leave It To Genie isn't due for several months, so you can believe I'm going to take a bit of a breather for the month of July. Considering I'm travelling 17 days out of the 31, I think that's a good idea--for my sanity and my family's. And the scary dustballs that have taken up residence around the house in the last month that I've been on this deadline.

And, I'm actually able to relax because I just received a fantabulous quote by author, Kate Douglas, for I Dream of Genies, and thought I'd share. It's always nerve-wracking when you're waiting for your editor to get back to you with that revision letter, and a HUGE relief when she accepts the story, but you're still wondering what will the reading public say. What will the reviews be like? I have to really thank Kate for how quickly she read this (I think I sent it to her a week ago?) and also for her kind words. So, here you go, along with the back cover copy for the book. And, if you want to see the cover for Genie Knows Best, check out the Wickedly Romantic blog at :

What song brings back summer memories for you?

He needs to change his luck, and fast!

Matt Ewing would gladly hunt down a fortune in lucky pennies if he thought it would save his business. But for all his hoping, Matt's clueless when his long-awaited lucky charm falls in his lap in the form of a beguiling genie. He just can't believe that this beautiful woman could be the answer to his prayers...

She's been bottle up for far too long!
Spending 2,000 years in a bottle would make any woman go a little stir crazy. So when Matt releases Eden from her luxurious captivity, she's thrilled to repay him by giving him the magical boost he needs... But for all her good intentions, Eden's magical prowess is a little rusty and her magical mistakes become more than embarrassing. And though Eden knows falling in love will end her magic and immortality, she can't help but be drawn to the one man who wants her just for herself.

"I Dream of Jeannie meets Indiana Jones, and the action is on! Judi Fennell's I Dream of Genies, is a rip-roaring fun from the very first page--filled with magic, mayhem and mystery, with two of the most engaging lead characters ever written. When dreamy contractor Matt and homeless, on-the-run genie Eden aren't setting off sparks--or butterflies--they're dodging magic, fending off the evil Faruq or feeding one of the magical critters Eden accidentally conjures up with magic gone haywire. Filled with laughs, action, and an absolutely magical romance, this book is one for the keeper shelf!"

~Kate Douglas, bestselling author of Wolf Tales and The DemonSlayers

Go-Go's image:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Surf Bunnies

As someone who grew up in Huntington Beach, AKA, Surfing Capital of the World, surfing was more than a sport in our town. It was a way of life.

And only appropriate that Fluff and Puff would catch the surfing bug.

“Cowabunga, dude!” Fluff and Puff shouted as they pushed their bunny surfboards through the rolling waves.

Naturally, the boards’ surfaces were decorated with Happy Bunny’s motto ‘Pscyho but cute’. Their bunny RayBans were clipped to their heads and colorful board shorts covered the lower half of their bunny slipper bodies.

“Tell me again why we brought them here?” Jazz grumbled, adjusting her large brimmed hat and the towel protecting her long legs from the morning sun since she only had to look at the bright orb to get burned.

Krebs shook his head. “Isn’t there some spell that would give you ultra sun block? You look like a mummy and frankly, you’re scaring the kids.”

“The spell is used in a special cream and it gives me a rash.” She reached for the bottle of 300SPF sunblock and slathered it on her hands and arms. “This stuff only works for a short time before I have to reapply it.”

Krebs grinned as he watched Fluff and Puff turn their boards around and paddle to shore, eventually bouncing up on their tails, riding the waves with magick slipper aplomb.

“Krebs! Come surf with us!” The slippers shouted as they smoothly made their way onto the sand. A puff of magick and the boards instantly turned themselves around, ready to go back out.

“Next time hexy babe you’re staying home.” Krebs jumped to his feet and retrieved his board, running down to the bunnies. “Cuz you’re acting like a real downer.”

“”Next time you’re staying home”,” she mocked his words with a hint of snarl as she pulled away the towel and rubbed the thick cream on her legs and along the top of her feet. Even as she did it she was positive she could feel the sun’s rays burning their way through to turn her skin just out of the pot lobster red.

"'Let’s take the guys to the beach, Jazz. They can try out the surfboards I gave them for their birthday. We’ll have fun.' Yeah, real fun,” she snarled. “I’ve got sand where sand shouldn’t be. My Coke has sand in it. My hot dog had sand in it. My – oooh pretty!” Her gaze was diverted down the beach toward two gorgeous hunks of male playing Frisbee. She lifted her sunglasses a notch to get a full color view then dropped them back down as she shifted her position on the towel just a bit.
Jazz lost track of time, ignoring Fluff and Puff’s shouts of glee and Krebs’ yells as she concentrated on the volleyball game with the same fascination she gave any Hugh Jackman film.

“Augh!” She threw up her hands, ready to blast whoever splattered water on her only to find it was Fluff, Puff and Krebs shaking themselves over her like wet dogs. Her formerly perky ponytail drooped down between her shoulders.

“Busted,” Krebs sang out in unison with the bunnies. “You were checking out those guys.”

“Was not.”

“Was so.”

She sighed, knowing denial wasn’t going to get her anywhere with her tormenters. “It was a better show than you guys out there like Frankie and the gang.”

“What? You date him too? Annette was pretty hot back then.” Krebs picked up his towel and rubbed his bare chest. “What would Nick think of you staring at some buff guys?”

“What would Nick think of you using the term buff? Have you guys had enough surfing? Can we go home now?”

“One more wave,” Puff demanded.

“Yeah!” Fluff danced up and down. “This is way cool.”

Jazz stared at their faces, brighter than she’d seen them in a long time. They were wet, smelled like salty bunny and sand coated their tails, but that didn’t matter to them.

She realized there were going to be a lot more beach days in her future since she couldn’t trust them to behave with Krebs. She glanced over at the Frisbee match still going on.

“Go ahead, have all the fun you want. I’ll be fine.”
I'll be guest blogging at on the 23rd and giving away one of my Hex novels. Come by and say hi!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I Looked for Him...

These are my woods---the cornfields. I love them when they're green like this. When they're golden, I wish they were green again. :) But I looked for him, hidden in the stalks, waiting.

All I could find was corn. The golden tassels glistened in the late night sun; the green leaves protecting the buttery yellow kernels from hungry predators--like me.

And sunflowers edging the corn-their sunny faces turned this way and that--a clinging beige grasshopper on one, a moth on the other--the signs of summer.

But he wasn't there--or maybe, he was. Only he wouldn't come out to play.

I went on a hike through a serene park then. He was there, I'm sure. Waiting for the dark to come, to show himself.

He wasn't riding this bike though. He was running in his wolf form. Birds were singing throughout the woods, the sound of highway traffic drifted in the intermittent breeze. But without a wolf's hearing, I couldn't hear the river flowing down below. A sweet scent wafted in the air. I tried to conjure up what it could be.

It reminded me of the sweet scent of jasmine--the last two hold outs in my garden.

It didn't matter. It perfumed the air and made the hike even better.

Except for Alaskan-sized mosquitoes--luckily only ran into them at two points on the trail, managed to escape one, not the other although she won't be biting another soul--it was bugless.

But this is who I was looking for, up and down the trails. He wouldn't come out to play though. Not when I had a pack of she-wolves with me. :)
Sigh. Next time, maybe I'll catch him.

And he'll come out to play.

The good part of walking through those woods last night was they made me forget about the hectic week. :) Woods and wolves will do that.

And this is something else that is coming this summer!

And here is my upcoming blog schedule for the release!
8/2 Open
8/3 My Overstuffed Bookshelf
8/4 Martha’s Bookshelf

8/5 Anna’s Book Blog
8/6 Poisoned Rationality
8/7 Sat Mona's Blog
8/8 Sun
8/9 Open
8/10 Fumbling With Fiction
8/11 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee
8/12 Books 4 Moms
8/13 Love Romance Passion
8/14 Sat
8/15 Sun
8/16 Star-Crossed Romance
8/17 A Simple Love of Reading
8/18 Thoughts in Progress
8/19 Open
8/20 My Book Addiction and More
8/21 Sat
8/22 Sun
8/23 Fresh Fiction
8/24 Debbie’s Book Bag
8/25 Book Junkie
8/26 Fang-tastic Books
8/27 Larissa's Life
8/28 Sat
8/29 Sun
8/30 A Journey of Books
8/31 Night Owl Romance
And here's beautiful Portland where the story takes place. :)

Hope you all have a delightful Saturday!!! And find the wolves of your dreams!

I'm off to write on Dreaming of the Wolf on this very hot Saturday! What are you doing to make your dreams come true?

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."

Friday, June 18, 2010


by Libby Malin

I am a Kindle owner! I love it. I blogged about it over at me very own wee blog--click here for edifying post on historical context of ereaders and communications changes throughout the centuries.

Now I need to get Kindle accessories. Perhaps a red velvet Kindle cover, hmm? Perhaps something diamond-encrusted and pearl-handled, hmm?

Or maybe just a plain leather zip case. Oh yeah.

High summer is nearly here. What's that phrase from Gatsby, where Daisy says she always waits for the longest day of the year and then misses it? That's the way I feel about summer--I eagerly wait for it, and then poof, it's gone in a firecracker burst of wonder. Dog days march in, and I'm thinking, "Autumn, autumn. . . are you out there? Will you please come back? I didn't mean those nasty things I said. . ."

When I was young (you know, just a few years ago - ahem), summer was my favorite season (okay, maybe behind spring). Summer was special. School was out! Summer meant lazy days sitting under trees reading or watching I Love Lucy reruns in the air-conditioned family room, or sleeping late, or getting snow cones, or going to the pool or the beach. Summer was a big, fat, juicy ball of goodness.

Now summer is sitting on the patio sipping coffee in the morning, listening to the birds chatter, wondering if they're talking about us. It's sitting there in the evening admiring flowers just in bloom and wondering when the next blossoms will open. It's even mowing the lawn and enjoying the exercise. It's planning the Fourth of July barbecue when my eldest will return from Hong Kong for a visit. So yes, summer is still a big, fat, juicy ball of goodness.

I've been writing a little, but mostly doing freelance editing, some article writing, and promoting my books. I'm lucky that my office window overlooks our backyard where I can see the garden and the birds when they zoom in for a quick splash in the birdbath. Summer is always just a glance away.

Summer makes an appearance in one of my favorite Samuel Barber songs, Sure on this Shining Night (poem by James Agee). Here are the lyrics, and here is a choral version (you might need to turn up the volume).


Sure on this shining night
Of star-made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand'ring far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

High summer does hold the earth, and I often do feel that kindness does watch for me this side the ground.

With that, I'll throw it out to you -- is there a song, book, poem, movie that you associate with summer? (I have some extra copies of My Own Personal Soap Opera, so if you comment on this post, I'll throw your name in a lottery and choose a winner of the book by the end of the upcoming weekend. Put your email address in the post if it's not part of your profile.)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beaching It

by Amanda Forester

What do you associate with the word “beach”? Smooth white sand? Palm trees? How about barnacles?! My family loves going to the beach, but for us in the Pacific Northwest it’s not exactly tropical. One of our favorite things to do is explore the tide pools at low tide.

With nothing more than a pail and shovel my kids can be amused for hours. That’s free entertainment! Exploring the rocky shore line can lead to many exciting discoveries: shells, starfish, snails, sea anemones, sand dollars, crabs, jellyfish, seaweed, limpets, and eels. My son is fearless, picking up huge crabs and catching slickery eels. We also learn a lot by observing how these creatures live. Did you know sand dollars are actually purple and live sticking up in the sand?

We have even found an octopus. For my son who is a great lover of cephalopods this was a huge treat, second only to attending a squid dissection at the zoo. Do you see the red octopus in this picture? If red is an indication of his emotional state, the octopus was showing that he was really irritated we found him under a rock. Octopuses can actually change color to blend in to their surroundings and even become multiple colors. Clever creatures. Random question – can you name all four types of cephalopods? My son surprised a zookeeper by knowing the answer. He also knew how many hearts a squid has (three) and how an octopus moves (jet propulsion). I sense marine biology might be in his future.

One thing I particularly enjoy about going to the beach is taking my little mini laptop. Writing can be a very solitary and indoor activity. My mini notebook has opened up some doors for me (literally) and I have been able to get out to write in the sunshine and fresh air. I find this has revitalized my writing. Especially since I write about the medieval period, it is helpful for me to connect with a mindset of people who spent a good deal of time outside. Sitting on the beach connects me to the sensations of nature- the warmth of the sun on my arms, the smell of the ocean, the cool breeze playing with my hair. Much better than sitting in my plain old office.

Writing outside also allows me to be with my family and still get some work done. A few weeks ago we went to the beach and I sat in a folding chair on the sand and my kids happily explored the low tide (with my husband of course, so they didn’t get carried off by a hungry seagull when I wasn’t watching). I enjoyed writing outside on a beautiful day and still got to interact with my kids when they ran up to show me a newly found treasure. It’s hard to do it all, but writing on the beach is as close to perfect as I get.

What are your favorite places to go where you feel connected, but still can get some work done?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summer Songs!

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you to

Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama

Key Largo Montego, baby why don't we go

Ooh I wanna take you down to Kokomo,

we'll get there fast and then we'll take it slow

That's where we wanna go, way down in Kokomo.
I imagine it would be a unanimous vote if asked which band throughout all time and every type of music wrote the best/most summertime songs: The Beach Boys.

I heard "Kokomo" on the radio recently and immediately thought of summer and music. A dozen songs instantly popped into my head, some by The Beach Boys, but lots of others. Yet when I did a Google search for “summertime songs” I was amazed at the lists!

I have narrowed down some of my favorites, ones that either specifically extol fun in the sun or are just so bouncy that they feel like summertime! Enjoy the videos I scrounged up and then share some of your favorite songs of summer.

Does it make you want to watch Grease again for the hundredth time? It does me! I was playing the clip last night and my daughter dashed out of her room sure I was watching Grease! She was quite disappointed.

Best Summer Songs according to numerous lists that are also my favorites—
“Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful
“California Girls” by The beach Boys
“School’s Out” by Alice Cooper
“Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas
“Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters
“Dancing in the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas
“Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly & the Family Stone
“California Sun” by the Rivieras
“Summer Breeze” by Seals & Croft

This was the best video I could find for this song originally recorded by Martha and the Vandellas. David Bowie and Mick Jagger do it well, but I have to admit I am an 80's rocker child and partial to Van Halen’s version with David Lee Roth strutting his stuff. *sigh… Alas, I could not find a decent video version. Bummer.

Every single list included Eddie Cochran's classic "Summertime Blues." Fantastic song so I can totally understand. I found a few clips of Cochran, fuzzy and in black & white, but could not resist Alan Jackson's wonderful rock-a-billy rendition.

'Cause it's summer

Summer time is here

Yes it's summer

My time of year

Yes it's summer

My time of year

Stretched out on a blanket in the sand

Kids of all ages diggin' Disneyland

Rappin' on the C.B. radio in your van

We'll give a big "ten four" to the truckin' man

Young boys playin' stick ball in the street

Fire hydrants help to beat the heat

Old man feeding pigeons in the square

Nighttime finds young lovers walking there

In Atlantic City or out in Malibu

Or any where between, I'm telling you

When you feel those balmy breezes on your face

Summer time is the best time any place
Recognize the song? It wasn’t familiar to me until I played the clip. Guesses?

“Summer” by War YouTube Link

Guess the summer song and artist by the lyrics---

1. Saturday in the park,
I think it was the Fourth of July 

People dancing, people laughing 

A man selling ice cream

Singing Italian songs

2. I feel alive

I feel the love

I feel the love

That's really real

I feel alive

I feel the love

I feel the love

That's really real
I’m on sunshine!

3. If everybody had an ocean

Across the U.S.A. 

Then everybody'd be surfin'

Like Californi-a 

You'd seem 'em wearing their baggies 

Huarachi sandals too

4. But I can see you, your brown skin shinin' in the sun

You got your hair combed back and your sunglasses on, baby

And I can tell you my love for you will still be strong

5. Oh when I look back now

That summer seemed to last forever

And if I had the choice 

Ya - I'd always wanna be there

Those were the best days of my life

I left a whole bunch out so I could hear from all of you. Dig deep! Share your summer songs and why they appeal to you. Link to audio/video clips so we can enjoy. And while you are thinking of that, I leave you with this old clip and dare you to not start bobbing in your seat…..

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ah, Summer Vacation

I am a night person. I am the most creative at night, when everyone else is asleep and the house is quiet. The phone doesn’t ring. They neighbors aren’t loud in the court. It’s just me and the slight hum and glow of my laptop. It’s heaven.

Until middle school began…

(And I do have to say ‘middle school’ or my middle schooler will get persnickety about the whole thing. It was junior high when I was that age; but I would dissuade anyone from saying ‘junior high’ to a middle schooler. Or do so at your own risk, in any event. Or maybe it’s just my middle schooler.)

Anyway, this past year my son had to be at his desk before 7:30 am. I should probably repeat the first line again – I am a night person. Getting someone somewhere before 7:30 am is a special kind of torture for a night person. For the last nine months, I have risen at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am to shower, dress, fix breakfast, pack a lunch for my son, make sure he’s showered and dressed, and leave the house just in time to make sure he is just in time for school. Then I have an hour before I have to be at my day job. One would think I could use that hour to be creative, but it doesn’t work that way. There are too many things to think about at that early hour for me to stop and try to create anything.

I remember being my son’s age. Waiting anxiously for that last bell of the school year to ring. Lugging my yearbook home for the last time. Stepping from the odiferous school bus to the freedom of summer break. The freedom of making my own fun for three glorious months. Hanging out with friends at the mall. Taking various trips here or there. Sleeping in late. Lazy days, tanning by the side of the neighborhood pool. Or just nothing at all. Ah, the memories.
That all changes once you’re an adult. Oh, there is still that special time of the year when you get to sleep in late and do chores at your leisure. It’s called the weekend. And it’s only two measly days at a time. How nice would it be to have three months of freedom like that again! It would be heaven.

Of course, I’m getting my own little bit of heaven this summer, and I’m not sure which one of us is more excited for summer vacation – my son or me. But I think it’s me. For the next three months, I can sleep in again, if you call 7:00 am sleeping in. But it’s light years away from 5:00 am, trust me. Now that summer is here, I can return to my most creative, late night evenings spent with only my laptop and my imagination.

How do you plan to spend your summer?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Those Lazy Days of Summer

When I was a kid, I loved summer. No school, no schedule, no worries. I would sleep late, stay up late, ride my bike everywhere, eat popsicles on the front lawn, and go swimming at the neighborhood pool.

Do kids still do that today? Do they still ride their bikes everywhere? I lived in a small town—Flushing, Michigan. Even at the age of 8, my friends and I could ride our bikes to Main Street and go into A&W and get a root beer float. We would ride around all day, stopping home for Kool-Aid or to retrieve something we’d forgotten (Star Wars action figures, water guns, or pom poms—all the necessities). We didn’t have cell phones. We hadn’t even heard of cell phones. My mom didn’t know where we were, and I don’t think she worried.

Maybe it’s just because I lived in a small town. In Houston, I don’t see kids going anywhere without parents. I do take my little one to the YMCA, but there are lots of parents there—sometimes more parents than kids. It’s pretty hot, so maybe that’s why kids don’t ride their bikes. And they all have cell phones.

I used to teach the book Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury to sophomores. It was one of their summer reading books. Or sometimes we would read it at the end of the year, as summer was approaching. For me, that book is the quintessential in summer nostalgia. If you’ve read it, you know just what I mean. If not, give it a try. It’s a collection of short stories with interwoven characters. The protagonist is a young boy enjoying all the things I loved about summer when I was a kid.

So what do you love about summer? What are you nostalgic for?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Do's and Don'ts of Summer

I see that this blog now has almost 100 followers, which makes me wonder how that translates into the number of people who actually visit this site every day and read the posts.

No, wait. Perhaps it's best not to dwell on that. It's scary enough to think about the total number of books sold versus the number of people who've actually read them. Think about that. One library book can be read by hundreds of people before it finally goes into the recycling bin, and an ebook posted on the internet could be read by millions! Now, that's REALLY scary!

But I digress. We're doing the summer theme thing this month, and since I just got back from Myrtle Beach at a little after 1 am on Saturday morning, the whole vacation is fresh in my mind.

Or is it? It's funny how quickly we forget things. I know I could probably recall most of it if I put my mind to it, perhaps even tell you hour by hour what we did, but that would be boring. What I mean is, to truly enjoy anyone's vacation, you pretty much have to be there.

I could tell you how lovely the weather was in Myrtle Beach (hot, but not too humid), describe the feel of the sand between my toes (if I'd actually put my toes in the sand), or the soft sea breezes (the kind that make trees bend sideways), or the (fishy) scent of the sea air, but like I said, you have to be there. However, since this is a blog about summer, here are a few pics of what I like to do on my summer vacation, along with a few things I should never do again. . . .

Gaze out at the ocean and pray that the oil spill in the Gulf doesn't get any bigger, never happens again, never makes it to the Grand Strand (or anywhere else), and gets cleaned up real soon.

Eat way too much at places like this, and then develop amnesia when trying to remember why all-you-can-eat buffets that include really good crab legs should be avoided for the rest of my life.

Visit places where the art, flora, and fauna of South Carolina can be enjoyed.

Ever, under any circumstances, relinquish possession of the camera when there is a chance that pictures (no matter how distant!) may be taken of me from behind.

Go to Medieval Times so often that the knights (this one in particular) remember me from year to year.

Forget that receiving enthusiastic hugs from men in armor can be painful.

Remember that while you're off having fun, someone is waiting patiently for you to return.

Forget that there's no place like home, even if the humidity level in Indiana right now is roughly equivalent to that of the Amazon rain forest and that, after being left untended for over a week, my yard now looks like a jungle!