Friday, December 31, 2010

My holiday idol is....drum roll..........my dentist




Yes, dentist. I have to apologize for being so absent the past two weeks. What started as a dull ache in my tooth turned into a horrible tooth ache that spread to my bone and cheek. It was painful and my aunt who was visiting insisted on taking all kinds of pictures to document just how bad I felt and LOOKED. Gotta LOVE family. Here is the closest thing to one of those shots I ever want to go public.



If nothing else, it did prevent my holiday indulging. Finally, now though, I am human again, and just in time to ring in the New Year. And how am I going to ring in the New Year? At Home. We have snow and -10 degree temps right now. Home might sound boring, but I LOVE the fireplace and snuggling up with a blanket. Besides, Rick Springfield is performing in Time Square so I have to be glued to the television to watch that. I saw him him in Vegas years ago and loved him just as much as I did at 16. Yes. Now you know my holiday idol AND my teen idol.





Despite my tame New Years Eve I am very excited about 2011. I have a busy release year.

January -- Jump Start Blaze
March-High Octane Blaze
May - Breathless Descent Blaze
MAY- THE LEGEND OF MICHAEL SOURCEBOOKS YAY! My first in the Zodius series!
June-Enemy Submission Spice Brief
July -Sweet Submission Spice Brief
August - Daring Submission spice Brief
NOVEMBER - RENEGADE CONQUEST - 2nd in the Zodius series!

So, needless to say, 2011 is all about promotion. I am planning to attend quite a few conventions this year and hope to meet many of the Sourcebooks authors and staff, and the readers!So far I'm planning to go to RomCon, RT, RWA, Lori Foster's convention, and I'm contemplating the Author's After Dark convention. I've also considered Heather Graham's New Orlean's convention. I'd love to hear what conventions everyone is going to and which ones they like the most, and why. Any suggestions for great conventions would be wonderful.

Happy New Years everyone!
And don't forget those New Years Resolutions!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Knot at the End of the Rope

"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on."--Thomas Jefferson


At the beginning of 2010 I was at the end of my proverbial publishing rope. I had been searching for an agent to help me get my Amoveo Series picked up by a new publisher. I needed to find a home for my shifters. Bottom line... I needed help. Big time. I needed an agent to help me navigate the intricate world of publishing. I had discovered (the hard way) that I couldn't do it on my own.

I had come so- close-so-many-times to getting signed, but ultimately nada. I'd climb that rope and just before I'd reach the top--BAM--they'd say, "No thanks." Time after time, I'd climb up only to slide back down the rope--but I never let go. That knot at the bottom was big enough to keep me hanging on. I'm certain it's a story that's familiar to many authors. I had heard from so many other writers that it was incredibly important to find the right agent-- not just any agent.

Then in February of 2010 I got THE CALL from Jeanne Dube of Forte Associates here in NYC. Jeanne and I hit it off and I signed with her in March of 2010. It has been an excellent partnership. Jeanne sold my series to Sourcebooks Casablanca in a five book deal and I couldn't be more thrilled.

2010 marked the END of hanging onto the END of my rope. However, as with all endings there are new beginnings as well. I am looking forward to 2011 and all it will bring. The editing process, book covers, more editing, blog tours, RWA 2011 (can't wait by the way) and finally the release of Book 1 in my shifter series. Most of all, I'm looking forward to the growing partnership with Sourcebooks.

So to any aspiring authors out there--or to anyone chasing a dream--just remember to tie a knot at the end of your rope and keep hanging on.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

After the Holidays

My debut year has ended in December with publication of “The Heir,” a Regency romance involving—who would have thought?—a damsel, a swain, some struggles, some lovin’, some more struggles, some more lovin’, and a happily ever after. And I confess, though it’s lovely and a Wish Come True to see the book in print, there’s an element of post-partum depression about the whole experience.

You write for several years, hoping, hoping, hoping, and cadging whatever wisdom and guidance you can from wherever you can find it.

You sink money into conferences, craft books, workshops, paraphernalia, a decent computer, and another decent computer when the first one goes up in smoke at the exact worst moment.

You make writing connections, maybe even writing buddies (yo, Robin).

You scrape together all your courage (or in my case, a couple of White Russians) and tackle the much dreaded Pitch.

You send off queries, queries, more queries, and a few partials and lecture yourself sternly about all those Big Names who were roundly rejected by the Big Editors—and aren’t those Editors feeling pret-ty silly when the rejected writer becomes the next bestselling author?

And then!—this is the easy part, the fun part—The Call, some revisions you’re gleefully happy to make (and to talk about to all who will listen). A cover for Your Book, quotes for Your Book, reviews for Your Book—hopefully, glowing reviews because at this point, Your Book has become an aspect of Your Identity, or certainly a piece of Your Ego, and a Key To Your Happiness.

And then! The day comes when Your Book goes into Your Local Bookstore!

On that wonderful day, I strutted into my local bookstore; accosted some hapless, overworked fellow sporting the company polo; and announced, “You’re carrying a book I wrote and I’d like to sign my stock.”

How sweet it is. I should have spoken more slowly, more loudly, I should have found a way to gather a crowd before I made this Big Pronouncement.

“What kind of book is it?”

“A romance novel.”

“Romance is over there, help yourself.” And away I did strut, to sign the one, single, spine-out copy they had.

Huh? That should have clued me in, but it has taken a few weeks to comprehend a simple fact: Last month, some other debut author was lurking in bookstores, pen at the ready. Next month, yet another will have the same privilege, and the month after that, and the month after that. Commercial fiction depends on consumers who consume, enthusiastically and often, and one book cannot meet that need more than once.

So I pouted a little, stared at my lovely book a little, sighed and scowled and watched the sales ranking dip—a little, then a little more. Why doesn’t anybody tell you being a published author means being a post-published author?

Except… I’m kind of relieved the blog tour is behind me. I’m having a great time beavering away on my WIP. I really enjoyed giving book number three a final polish over the holidays, and I love, love, love hearing from readers, a comfort and joy that only befalls a writer after she’s given up her book into the hand of an editor and publisher.

So maybe, being a post-published author isn’t so bad after all. Maybe not making the NYT list from Jump Street is not the end of the world. I’m thinking it doesn’t matter, not at this point, not any more than a few mopey days after coming home from the hospital matters in the grand scheme of parenting.

In the grand scheme, if your priorities are right and some grace befalls you, those few days soon cease to matter at all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The End....

So I end 2010 the same way I started...

Running as fast as I can and still managing not to reach the end of the line.

You'll notice this blog is late. Yes, I forgot. When the reminder came through, I thought it must be the other Stephanie's day to blog. Did you notice any other Stephanie on the sidebar of this blog? No, because there are none.

My mother's favorite saying when I was growing up: "You'd lose your head if it wasn't attached." I'm embarrassed to say she's absolutely right. But I do have an excuse. I've been really freaking busy.

This month has been hectic. I've worked on copy edits for WHAT A GODDESS WANTS (Forgotten Goddess Book 1), revisions for MOONLIGHT TEMPTATION (Lucani Lovers Book 4) and the first draft of WHAT A GODDESS NEED (Forgotten Goddess Book 2).

Add in Christmas and I'm pretty sure I forgot not only my name but there are probably a few Christmas gifts still somewhere in the house. Luckily, my husband's and children's birthdays aren't in December. (I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit I forgot my husband's birthday several years ago. Yes, I'm that bad.)

This December signals the end of my busiest year ever. I wrote four books, saw three published and sold another three that will be out in 2011 and 2012. See, I have an excuse. And I'm proud to say I've not fudged a deadline yet. My kids have eaten a lot of pizza and cereal. We've gone without milk because I forgot to get to the store. And my son has worn the same pair of jeans two or three days in a row because the wash wasn't done. Hey, I've got my priorities.

I'm looking forward to the end of the year but I know that not much will change in January. I'll still be really busy, my kids will eat a lot of cereal and there will occasionally be no clean pants.

And you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way.

Monday, December 27, 2010

THE END of 2010

By Tamara Hogan

Like so many other Casablanca authors who've blogged about THE END this month, I have to agree that the end of one thing very often hastens the beginning of something else.  This is particularly true of authors, books, and the calendar year.

After a shell-shocking 2009, during which my first manuscript was named a Golden Heart finalist, won a paranormal Daphne, and <gulp> sold to Sourcebooks in a three-book deal, 2010 has continued in the same vein. Looking back, my primary impression of 2010 is one of great learning:

  • working with Deb on developmental edits, and chopping over 30k words from the manuscript in the process
  • starting to write TASTE ME's follow-up, CHASE ME - and feeling such relief when my writing process started to fall into place
  • cover design - happily, Deb and I both had the same scene in mind for TASTE ME's cover.
  • learning about the publishing process
  • turning around page proofs and layout pages 
  • blogging with the Casablanca authors and The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood
  • navigating the briar patch of social networking
  • promo planning, ad buys and blog touring

As someone who works in technology for my day job, I'm a big fan of analyzing lessons learned. Here are some of mine:  
  • Do NOT underestimate the learning curve
  • A year between book releases sounds like a more leisurely pace than it actually feels
  • Get away from the keyboard occasionally and enjoy the ride!   

How do you like my cover?  ;-)

3/2011 - a dream comes true

CSI meets True Blood in a new urban fantasy romance series with a supernatural crimes unit...

Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award for Mystery and Suspense, and a 2009 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® finalist, TASTE ME is the first book in a gritty, fast-paced, sexy urban fantasy romance series set in a world where incubi, sirens, valkyries, vampires, werewolves and faeries live undetected alongside humankind. 





He wants her so badly he can taste it…

Ever since their tempestuous fling years ago, incubus Lukas Sebastiani has known that siren Scarlett Fontaine was meant to be his. But when you’re a sex demon with an insatiable desire, relationships are…complicated.

Her siren song brings men to their knees…

Rock star Scarlett Fontaine desperately needs a break after a grueling tour. But with murder and mayhem surrounding her band, and Lukas guarding her body, life is going to be anything but peaceful. With danger everywhere, and their feelings for each other in turmoil, Scarlett and Lukas may be destroyed by deceit and mistrust if they don’t find their way back into each other’s arms…

~~~~~~~

Happy Holidays, everyone!




Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day After Christmas - an ending or a beginning? (by Catherine Mann)

Although our December blog theme is about endings, I can't help but see beginnings all around me!

My amazing kids are growing up and starting exciting, new phases of their lives...


My husband and I are enjoying more time together....


And a most poignant sign of beginnings? We foster for the Humane Society and currently have a mama dachshund and her three puppies in our home for the holidays. (Peanut and her babies - Cheyenne, Buckaroo, and Cowboy.)


Our foster dogs this holiday season make me think of this poem by Elise Lewis.... Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

"A Puppy's 12 Days of Christmas"

On the first day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
The Santa topper from the Christmas tree.
On the second day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the third day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Ten Christmas cards I shoulda mailed
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
Eleven unwrapped presents
Ten Christmas cards I shoulda mailed
My wreath in nine pieces
Eight tiny reindeer fragments
Seven scraps of wrapping paper
Six yards of soggy ribbon
Five chewed-up stockings
Four broken window candles
Three punctured ornaments
Two leaking bubble lights
And the Santa topper from the Christmas tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my puppy gave to me
A dozen puppy kisses And I forgot all about the other eleven days.



Wishing you all a magical New Year!

Holiday Hugs,
Catherine Mann
www.catherinemann.com
****

Winter months are especially tough for shelter animals, between the cold and less outdoor time. If you have old towels and blankets, I hope you'll consider donating them to your local animal shelter. And perhaps stay for an extra hour to volunteer to walk some dogs in need of extra exercise. The time you share will mean the world to an animal waiting for its new beginning in a forever home!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Endings



By: Anita Clenney

Christmas is upon us and the end of the year is fast approaching. What a year it's been for me. Making my first sale, achieving my dream. I've gone through revisions, edits, copy edits, and now it's in the capable hands of my publisher. I'm finished with my part of the creation so it feels like I've reached an end, but it really isn't. As all of you know, probably even better than me, there is still a lot of work to do. In fact, some would stay the work has just begun. Promotion, more writing, more promotion.

Endings are usually just a starting point for something else. Death is the beginning of eternity. Fall is the just the earth resting so it can blossom bigger and brighter next year. One day's end starts another. When I finish a book, I know it isn't the end for those characters. They'll be back, helping the current hero and heroine solve their dilemmas, so I can move on to the next hero and heroine.

I'm finishing the second book now,and it's great to see the characters from the first book alive and well, but the frightening thing is that each new book needs to be better than the one before. Exciting and fresh, but with a touch of familiarity.

One show that does this well is True Blood. The series has stayed brilliantly fresh. From season to season, I wonder what they can possibly do to top the last, and then they go and do it. They go in a different direction, same characters, add in some new ones, and it's fresh, exciting, shocking, but familiar at the same time. This is what I want to achieve in my writing. Fresh with a bit of familiar.

Tomorrow is Christmas. Many celebrate the birth of Christ, and we try to think of others a little more during this season of giving. But when Christmas is officially over, it doesn't really end. Christ is still alive and well. We still care and we still give. The holiday decorations just go the attic for storage, and if the Christmas tree is real, it goes off to be reincarnated as mulch or decompose and give nutrients to the ground. Nothing really ends. It only changes. Whether it's in our lives or in our books. For me, I want both to be fresh and yet familiar.

I hope this was a wonderful year for you all, and that next year is even better!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The End...For My Last Blog of the Year...

By Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager
Sourcebooks Casablanca

For my last blog of the year, I want to take the time to acknowledge and appreciate every single one of my authors (in completely random order:) ). Your hard work and passion make every success I have possible.

C.H. Admirand—I wanted to work with you from the moment I met you—yay! Dreams come true!

Mary Wine—a pleasure to work with, always something new up your (magnificent) sleeve :)

Tamara Hogan—world-building ooh la la—I never wanted to come to the end of the story—hurray for trilogies! Something to look forward to.

Lydia Dare—wicked sense of humor, brilliant characters, two wonderful women to talk to! You go grrrrllllls!

Jill Mansell—you make me laugh and cry at the same time—it’s kind of like the sun shining through a rain shower—rainbows!

Leigh Michaels—gorgeous writing, really committed to your craft, a pleasure to spend time with you at RWA

Jane Odiwe—elegant, artistic sensibility, and not afraid to go where no Jane Austenite has gone before

Laurie McBain—beloved by millions, and all one has to do is read you to know why!

Marie Force—huge commitment, great fun to read, does a love triangle like nobody else, my crystal ball says much success coming your way

Patricia Rice—you gave me a huge opportunity, for which I will always be grateful

Kara Louise—brilliantly established all on your own—brava! So happy to be working with you!

Linda Wisdom—a true original! You make us laugh and pant every time. Your imagination knows no boundaries--you rock, girlfriend!

Shana Galen—fast-paced and beautiful fun—every book is an adventure!

Elaine Coffman—working with you is a privilege—so excited when I read your voice!

Karen Wasylowski—you really get it about doing something new and different—brava!

Joanne Kennedy—you’re always willing to do whatever it takes—thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mary Margret Daughtridge—I’ve loved your writing from the very start, and it just keeps getting better and better!

Mary Ellen Dennis—it’s kismet! I’d share a coffee with you any time—not only are you a great writer, but you’re a lot of fun to be with

Olivia Cunning—girlfriend, I had to stop reading your books on the airplane—it was getting way too hot in there—we’re ALL in love with the Sinners

Ciji Ware—the consummate pro! Every book is a gem. And, thank you for making your deadline every single time :)

Sharon Lathan—passionate, enthusiastic, you care more than anyone—we ALL love working with you!

Amanda Grange—our star across the pond—congratulations on everything—you’re brilliant!

Abigail Reynolds—a pioneer and a genius—brilliant work, Abigail, every time

Lisa Renee Jones—woohoo! Fast pace, hot heroes, lots of action, couldn’t put it down. Losing a lot of sleep over here!

Kristine Grayson—you have me charmed! Love every concept of yours—can’t wait to do more (and more)!

Judi Fennell—award winner, brilliant mind, I’ve never seen anyone so unstoppable. Love you!

Anita Clenney—what a brilliant imagination you have my dear! (The better to keep you up reading late into the night ;-)

Carolyn Brown—punch drunk in love with your cowboys, and our conversations are just the best!

Maria Hamilton—fresh and original, and always true to yourself—deeply respected

Susan Adriani—a fresh spin in a tried and true world—brava!

Cheryl Brooks—you win the imagination award, hands down. Meow!

Sidney Ayers—unleashed! Let it rip! Great fun and never a dull moment!

Terry Spear—You really did come up with something new under the sun.

Amelia Grey—you’re sunny, funny, and a radiant storyteller—you’re a gem, and I’m so happy to be working with you!

Phillipa Ashley—sassy, witty, your stories are transporting!

Belinda Roberts—your Mr. Darcy in a Speedo is forever etched into my imagination—likewise the lifeguards. Dazzling work!

Grace Burrowes—heart and soul. If you write 1000 books I’ll look forward to every single one.

Stephanie Rowe—wicked, wicked funny and fun—ingenious twists, hot characters, a wild ride every time.

Catherine Mann—gracious, professional, a dream come true to work with you, and I love our conversations from different points of view—it just goes to show you, we’re all in this together

Stephanie Julian—is it hot in here? Or is it my own personal summer? No, I’m reading a Stephanie Julian—leave me alone, I’ll let you know when I’m available again…

Mary Simonsen—you weave a story like nobody else—history and imagination in a perfect dance—brava!

Victoria Connelly—can I please have my own personal Mr. Darcy for Christmas, please? From your pages, please? With you, anything is possible…

Jennifer Blake—you are elegance and graciousness personified and every one of your books is a dream to read. Thank you for the opportunity.

Ashlyn Chase—fabulous world-building and characters your readers just can’t get enough of. So much fun to work with you!

Kathryne Kennedy—you are truth, beauty and magic, all rolled into one.

Beth Cornelison—I love your storytelling—your heroes are delicious. I’m a big fan.

Rebecca Ann Collins—my dear author on the other side of the world—how are your roses blooming while we’re freezing? You have a devoted following, as you should—we’re so excited about your new work.

Laura Kinsale—working with you is a dream come true. I am one lucky editor.

Kendra Leigh Castle—you create amazing worlds and awesome characters to inhabit them—I’m a fan forever

Tawna Fenske—aside from the fact that your book made me laugh so hard my iced tea came out my nose, I am forever impressed by your tenaciousness

Diana Birchall—lovely writing and a lovely person—I wish I could see you more often

Amanda Forester—endlessly entertaining to read, easy to work with, and the future is bright

Jack Caldwell—a truly fresh take whenever you pick up your pen (or should I say keyboard?) A pleasure to work with, always.

Linda Berdoll—your books will outlast us all. When I think of authorship I think of you.

Kathryn Nelson—terrific reading, wonderful world-building, a very special book

Carolyn Eberhardt—your story inspired a whole book—thank you for your wonderful imagination!

Judith James—we still have “Jamie” moments—your writing is truly a cut above

Elizabeth Newark—your book is a gem, and so are you

Sara Angelini—one of my hottest—really transporting—well done!

Malena Lott—a beautiful story, beautifully told, with a yummy hero and a surprise perfect ending

M.L. Buchman—one of my fastest, easiest, most coachable authors—killer writing—1000 thanks!

Jane Dawkins—elegant, graceful writing with depth and precision—you are an original

Wayne Josephson—a sparkling rendition, brilliantly executed—clever, smart and funny. Well done!

Holly Denham—a total pageturner—very smart! And I hear from my colleagues who met you across the pond that you are gorgeous :)

Heather Lynn Rigaud—you opened up a whole new world of excitement, sexiness and fun! Rock on!

Loucinda McGary—I’m such a big fan of yours—amazing stories, the best heroes, and exotic locations I get lost in! And, I know you’ll never really use that whip on me.

Rachel Billington—a wonderful voice and well done world make for such a delightful read

Monica Fairview—thank you for expanding the Darcy family to our distant shores—we can’t get enough of your writing!

Robin Kaye—a gift, a joy, a pleasure to be with—a big mouth and a really big voice—here’s to success!

Nina Bennetton—you are taking Mr. Darcy to a whole new place. A true original. And when I say compulsively readable, I mean that literally :)

Susanna Kearsley—your books are compelling, enthralling and wonderful—lucky me!

Sr. Eucharista Ward—you did such a beautiful job with Mary Bennet—it opened new worlds for me

Donna Simpson—I’m such a fan—I wish you all success, and asap, too

Samantha Grace—fluid, witty writing and a positioning that I just love—bring on the ruination!

Marsha Altman—going places fearlessly and with clarity and commitment to your own vision—I honor you

Elizabeth Aston Edmondson—so excited to be your editor over here—what a joy!

Sara Taney Humphreys—your storytelling is special, truly—something original and refreshing--I’m so excited to be working with you!

Libby Malin—you are a wonderful writer, with a wonderful vision and a sparkling sense of humor

C. Allyn Pierson—a gem in Jane Austen fiction—so well done, so much reading enjoyment

Emery Lee—a fresh view of history—very welcome and great fun to read

Michele Ann Young—you add a new level of depth to your Regencies—they truly resonate with me

Laurie Brown—your long ago vote of confidence meant everything—I couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with you, and I can’t wait for the next book

Tracey Devlyn—you’ve really put a new twist into Regency—I couldn’t be more excited!

Wishing all of you and yours a blessed, beautiful and wonderful holiday, and looking forward to 2011 full of success and joy for all of us!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

That Realistic Ending (Romance Style, Of Course)

I love a good happy ending. Probably why I return to romance time and again as a reader. I love being left with that optimistic feeling that good can triumph evil, that even a broken heart can be healed, that true love conquers all. Is it realistic in real life? Maybe not always, but our world is depressing enough. A little hope at the end of a book isn't too much to ask.

Realism is something readers will call an author on, though. The romance, that happily ever after, has to be believable or the reader walks away feeling cheated. A long lasting love is believable if a book spans a year or more, but what about when a book only covers a week? Or how about less than a week? Can two people fall in love for the long haul in such a short amount of time?

Let's look at the science.

Researchers have shown it takes between 90 seconds and four minutes to decide if you're interested in someone. This interest has little to do with what someone says but rather,

55% is through body language
38% is the tone and speed of the other person's voice
and only 7% is through what is said.

Four minutes tops. That's it. That's the same time it takes to watch someone board a train and find a seat or listen to them order a coffee or drop their laundry off at the cleaners.

From there, according to Helen Fisher, an anthropology professor at Rutgers University, there are three stages of love:

Stage 1: Lust - the sex drive or libidio, driven by the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen - in both men and women - that make people want to have sex.

Stage 2: Attraction - the time when a person is love struck and can think of nothing else. Scientists believe three main neurotransmitters play a role in this stage:
  • adrenaline - which causes the heart to race, the body to sweat and the mouth to go dry

  • dopamine - which stimulates 'desire and reward' by triggering a rush of pleasure, not unlike a cocaine high

  • and serotonin - which keeps the brain focused on one thing: that other person.
Stage 3: Attachment - the bond that keeps couples together. Scientists think there are two major hormones involved in attachment between people:
  • oxytocin - released by both men and women during orgasm. The more orgasms a couple experiences together, the more oxytocin is released and thereby the more connected they feel to each other. (By the way...oxytocin is also the same hormone released between a mother and child during childbirth and it's the same hormone that stimulates a mother's breast to release milk at the mere sight or sound of her child.)

  • and vasopressin - a hormone released during sex. The more sex a couple engages in, the more vasopressin is released in the brain, which deepens their connection and in some cases triggers males to become aggressive toward other males who show interest in their females.

Is there a time frame on each of these stages of love? Not specifically. Some couples go through them quickly, others take longer. A lot depends on how each person was raised, their previous experiences and their attitude toward relationships.

So what happens when two people are placed in a life or death situation? This happens in romance novels quite a bit. Someone's out to get the hero or heroine. They're on the run. Danger lurks around every corner. It is believable that two people can fall in love during extreme situations especially when their time together spans only a few days, and more importantly...is it believable that they can sustain that love once once the danger has passed?

Well, let's look at what happens to the body when you're in danger. When the body is under extreme duress, the autonomic nervous system signals the adrenal gland that it's time to release adrenaline. Adrenaline, remember, is an important hormone during the attraction phase of falling in love. When you're attracted to someone, your heart races, your body sweats, and your mouth may feel dry. When your body is threatened, these same symptoms result, often triggering the fight or flight response. And when that threat happens to both you and the person you're insanely attracted to, those fight or flight responses are magnified. A lot.

Couples who fall in love during extreme situations tend to experience a deeper and often faster attraction stage than those who fall in love under normal circumstances. That "will we live through this?" mindset triggers the release of even more adrenaline, which then often leads to more sex (after all, if you're going to die, you might as well die happy, right?). More sex results in more oxytocin and vasopressin being released into the body, therefore deepening a couple's attachment. Will it last? That depends on the couple, their level of attachment and, in our case, the author.

The author's job is to get you, the reader, to believe, yes, these two can make it work even when the danger is gone and life returns to normal. This is why sex in a romance is so very important. Without sex, that attachment, especially between two people who have only spent a few days together, can't happen. There's not enough time. If the author has shown the lust, the deep attraction and, ultimately, the attachment in such a way that the reader believes the couple is going to make it, then the ending, no matter how it's written, will be one the reader won't soon forget.

And an ending a reader doesn't forget - especially in a romance novel - is what it's all about, isn't it? That happily ever after that says...hope remains, good DOES triumph evil, a broken heart WILL be healed and true love ALWAYS conquers all.

How about you? What makes a short time-frame romance realistic for you?