Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day! By Grace Burrowes

No, I have not gotten a little too cozy with my bottle of The Macallan 18. I know what day it is: “The Virtuoso” hits the shelves today, featuring the youngest son of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland, Lord Valentine Windham.

This should have been an easy book to write because I’d had both “The Heir,” and “The Soldier” to get to know my hero. Lord Val is a younger loyal brother, intelligent without being academic, and tall, dark and handsome (of course). He’s also, as the Windham series readers know, a virtuoso pianist.

In fact, that’s about all he is, at least in his own estimation. According to the Rules of Romance, it thus became imperative that I take Lord Valentine’s music away from him. This did not sit at all well with Lord Val, and it positively tortured me. There was a time long ago when I was defined by my devotion to the keyboard, so I had more than theoretical empathy for my hero. My friends were musicians, my hobby was music, my profession was music, my academic focus was music…

And my sore back was a function of music too, as is Lord Valentine’s aching, swollen, miserable left hand. Fortunately for Lord Val, when he nips off to the wilds of Oxfordshire to distract himself with renovating a manor house he’s won in a card game, he ends up right next door to a lovely widow.

Ellen Markham neither knows nor cares about Val’s musical abilities. His ability to kiss, however, and to do battle with her various demons and dragons, interests her greatly. Oddly enough, these undertakings interest Lord Val greatly as well, to the extent that losing his music talent comes to feel less like grief, and more like an opportunity.

This too, resonated with my own experience, because when I turned away from music, I turned toward many other opportunities and blessings, including a back that didn’t hurt every waking minute of the day.

What about you? Was there a crossroads in your life when what you thought was a loss turned out to be a wonderful blessing?

For an excerpt from “The Virtuoso” click here. To THREE of today’s commenters, I’ll be giving away signed copies of “The Virtuoso.”

Things That Go Bump in the Day or Where For Art Thou, Mrs. Romeo?

Happy Halloween, everyone!

To tell you the truth, the whole Halloween thing is kind of lost on me. I've never been much for dressing up and going trick-or-treating. I've always had a great fondness for very good chocolate, the kind you won't find given out when going door to door, freezing your tush off (in my neck of the woods at least) and wearing a costume designed by your mother to get back at you for the pain of childbirth. Yeah, I got over the whole Halloween thing young. I believe it was in the first grade when my mother dressed me up as the toothless fairy, but I digress. Just because I'm not a huge fan of Halloween does not mean I don't believe in things that go bump in the night...or in my case, broad daylight.

My grandparents lived next door to Mrs. Romeo in Brooklyn for forever and Mrs. Romeo and my grandmother were best friends. My mother and Mrs. Romeo’s daughter, Janet, were born six months apart and grew up together. They too were best friends. They were each other’s maids of honor, and they’ve always been like sisters. So, I guess it’s not surprising that Janet’s daughter Leslie and I are cousins of the heart if not blood.

When Mrs. Romeo moved to Florida, my grandparents followed, and then the rest of Minna Street in Brooklyn tagged along—even the mail man and the UPS guy (no joke). I’d known Mrs. Romeo all my life, and after she died, Mrs. Romeo would visit Janet and Leslie’s house and cause trouble. For instance, Mrs. Romeo’s tax papers disappeared until the day before her death tax return was due. The metal box reappeared just where everyone knew Aunt Janet had left it. Mrs. Romeo was also known to swipe the lazy Susan, which was kept on the top shelf of the pantry for our frequent Scrabble games. Mrs. Romeo never did anything horrible (although I have to say, swiping the tax papers was close) and we’d often laugh about her antics. Since my aunt and cousin are the most organized women in the world, this was a great way for Mrs. Romeo to drive them crazy.

One year I received a bunch of Mass cards from one of the Catholic charities my grandmother was fond of that I support in her memory. One was a Christmas card that you could send, remembering the recipient’s loved one in a Mass every day for a year. I thought since Mrs. Romeo hadn’t already found her way to the big Italian kitchen in the sky, she might just need a little extra push, and maybe having people pray for her every day would help. I remember sitting at my kitchen table and addressing my holiday cards right after I put my three kids down for a nap. I had my address book right where I always kept it, on top of the microwave and under the telephone, beside the basket of napkins.

I had made cheese quesadillas for lunch before the kids went down for their naps. I always made quesadillas in a frying pan, so I hadn’t used my toaster oven all day. Imagine my surprise when, about an hour after the kids were tucked into their beds, while I was sitting at the table, addressing my holiday cards, the toaster oven dinged to tell me my toast was ready. Hmm…I got up from the table and checked. Sure enough, the darn thing was hot. “Mrs. Romeo,” I said, “I’m really just trying to help.” I swear I smelled her perfume. I smiled thinking it was nice of her to visit. I wasn’t afraid because, after all, Mrs. Romeo always loved me. I finished addressing my Christmas and Hanukkah cards, put my address book back next to the basket of napkins, and ran them out to the mailbox. Now mind you, this was the one year I got my cards out early, I think it was even before Thanksgiving.

Later that day I needed to make a phone call, I don’t remember to whom, but I went to get my address book, and it was missing. So was the basket I kept my napkins in. I looked behind the microwave, thinking maybe they fell. Nope. I searched the kitchen, the family room, and the entire house to no avail—they were gone. Mrs. Romeo had struck again.

I was living in Idaho at the time, and everyone I knew was on the east coast. While I had many phone numbers memorized, I didn’t have everyone’s numbers in my tiny little brain. Can you imagine being unable to call your friends and family through the entire holiday season?

Shortly after Christmas, my phone book and napkins reappeared in the right spot. The basket was perched on top of the new napkin holder I’d purchased—just as if they’d never been gone. I haven’t heard from Mrs. Romeo since, {Robin says as she looks over her shoulder} but everyone got a laugh when I finally was able to call and tell them all what happened.

Anyone have a Mrs. Romeo in their lives?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tricks and a Treat!

I know the theme is “Things that go bump in the night,” but I can’t do it. I can’t write about dark, scary things. I’ve been told it’s because I have such an active imagination. Great for a writer, but bad for a woman whose husband loves Stephen King and horror movies. Speaking of Stephen King, I quote him when I want to explain why I’m not a horror fan. He said, “The innocent must suffer.”

A writer should experience the emotions of her characters, and I actually suffer for the poor stupid girl who goes down to the basement in her bra and panties with only a baseball bat to protect her. We all know the thing that’s going to go bump in her night will be her head hitting the cold, hard floor. Ouch.

However, an active imagination is why I’m getting great reviews and loads of fan mail. People like my books because they’re different. I’ve been told I don’t think like other people. At first I was a bit offended, but after mulling it over, I’ve decided I’m okay with that. A lot of writers don’t think like other people, and writers are my favorite people to hang out with. As fellow writer Arianna Hart put it, “Toss a bunch of authors into a box of rocks, and a good time will be had by all.”

So, without further delay, I’d like to share a bit of my screwy imagination with you. This is from my latest release The Vampire Next Door.

Morgaine opened her door the moment Sly knocked. She might have been standing there because she’d sensed someone coming to see her. Psychics were fun that way.

“Hi, Morgaine, uh…”

His throbbing fang distracted him so much that Sly hadn’t looked up to see her face yet. When he did, he was met with an intriguing surprise. The woman he thought would be dressed in black with long, black hair, and wearing heavy black eye makeup and red lipstick, almost looked like a different person. He had to blink and look again to be sure she was indeed the witch he was looking for.

She smiled. Her face seemed softer with glowing skin, pink lips, and golden hair falling around her shoulders. Her dress was a dark shade of purple. Maybe something called plum.
A few moments passed before he realized he hadn’t finished his sentence and was staring at her.
“Sly? Is there something I can do for you?”

He recovered and said, “Uh, yeah. There ith. Can I come in?”

She tipped her head. “I invited you in years ago, didn’t I?”

“Yeth. But if you’d rather not—”
“Don’t be silly. Of course you can come in. I was just wondering if you thought vampires needed to be invited in again after a certain amount of time passed.”

“Like an ecthperathion date? No. Even if there wath one, I’d knock and athk.

Her lips twitched in a smirk. He realized she’d noticed his lisp and she too was trying not to be rude.

“Please come in.” She stepped aside.

He strolled in and admired her apartment. A far cry from his secret lair in the basement, hers was a bright and cozy place with a slipcovered couch, a rocking chair, and a trunk for a coffee table. Its only decoration was a glass dish holding some colorful rocks and crystals.
Lit candles graced the fireplace, making the lavender room glow. Wind chimes he’d heard during summer months hung silent in the window, which was closed against the chilly night air.
“You mutht like thith color.” He indicated her dress and the walls.

“Yes, plum is my favorite shade of purple, and purple is my favorite color.”

“Plum, huh? Ith pretty on you.” He meant it.

He didn’t often compliment people, not that he didn’t appreciate a good-looking woman, but ever since his wife had died and left him a widower twenty-six years earlier, he’d had no interest in starting up a relationship with somebody else. It wouldn’t be fair to let a woman think she’d be able to replace his late wife, so he avoided giving anyone the wrong idea. Morgaine had no such illusions though, so he felt safe telling her he’d noticed her attractive change.

“I had a makeover. Roz took me to a school for aspiring cosmetologists. It took them all evening to get the black dye out of my hair and recolor it to match my natural shade.”

“Tho you’re a natural blonde?”

“I guess so. My hair hasn’t been natural for about thirteen years, but I don’t notice a big difference at the roots now that it’s growing out.”

He wandered around the apartment, scanning the new-age books on her shelves and noticing how neat she kept the place. “You mutht have gotten into the goth thing a long time ago.”

“Yeah, you could say I was the high-school weirdo.”

He smiled. “We were all weird in high thchool.”

She grinned back. “Have a seat. Can I get you some tea?”

“No, thanks. I came to athk you for thum magical help.”

“You want me to heal your fang?”

“Yeth.” He sat on the comfortable flowered sofa. “Did your thycic ability tell you what happened?”

“No, your lisp did.” She giggled and sat next to him.

Man, she’s pretty when she smiles.

“Let me see.” She scooted closer, and he opened his mouth.

Her gentle, warm fingers pushed his upper lip out of the way as she examined his mouth. Her own lips were slightly parted as she studied his injured fang thoroughly. Her breath was pleasant. Minty, as if she’d just brushed her teeth. He could lean in and capture those sweet pink lips in his and… Whoa. What was happening?

“Does it hurt?”

“Like a mutha. I have a metallic tasthte in my mouth too.”

“I can see why you wouldn’t be able to go to a dentist. It looks like the fang that isn’t healing well won’t retract, and I guess they’re not able to work independently, so the other one won’t retract either.”


“It’s not the fang that’s broken—or if it was, it’s healed.”

“Yeth. The fang grew back, but the pain won’t go away. I bit into a thick thilver necklath.”

“Ohhh… You were poisoned. Okay, I’ll have to make a healing poultice so I can apply it directly to your gum. It will draw out the silver poison in your system. I’ll reinforce its power with a healing spell if you like.”

“Thankth. Will I ever be the thame?”

“Of course you will. Unless you’re talking about your pre-vampire days. That I can’t heal.”
He hung his head. “I know. I remember athking you that when I learned you were Wiccan. You thed there wath no thpell to cure vampirithm.”

“I’m afraid not. I’m sorry.” She rested her hand on his knee.

When he looked up, she had a soft, sad expression on her face. It wasn’t pity—not exactly. Empathy. That’s what it was. He knew she had a kind heart, but there was more to it than just that. She was a nurturer. Much like his daughter, Merry, the pediatric nurse. An innate healer.
“Pardon my curiothity, but… the makeover? Are you dating?”

Her face colored. “I—well, no. I wouldn’t mind meeting someone, but it’s just not in me to go out to bars or anything.”

“Thumthing tellth me you wouldn’t meet the right kind of guy there anyway. Have you tried the Internet?”

“Not yet.” She hesitated as if there was more to say, but instead she placed her hands on her knees and pushed herself up to a standing position. “Well, I’ll go whip up that poultice. You try to relax.”

And now for your treat…
Between now and November 3rd, book 1 in the Strange Neighbors series is only 99 cents. Oh! And book 2 The Werewolf Upstairs is only $2.99. Add the Vampire Next Door and you have an entire single title series for under ten bucks! WooHoo! Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 29, 2011



When I chose to write romantic historical fiction, one thing became eminently clear to me - my desire not only to craft emotionally compelling romantic stories but to bring my chosen historical era to vivid life.

While as a reader I love to lose myself in any well-written historical romance, I am most gratified when a novel is able to answer the cravings of both sides of my brain, by using people and events relative to the historical setting to take me well beyond the romance and deep into the era itself.

As an author, I want to truly immerse the reader in another time and place, not only by the characters’ dress, manners, and speech, but with the setting itself by interweaving real historical elements so seamlessly with the fiction that it becomes virtually impossible to distinguish the difference. In so doing, the setting becomes so much more than just a colorful backdrop but is almost equal to the characters in telling the story.

I find that fact and fiction can be effectively combined in many ways.  In my debut, THE HIGHEST STAKES, I used real historical events as well as many real horses and actual races to tell the fictional love story of Charlotte and Robert. In FORTUNE’S SON (to be released November 1, 2011), I delighted in bringing to life a large cast of true historical characters to grace the Georgian gaming rooms. Some of these characters making cameo appearances are the Duchess of Yarmouth (George II’s favorite mistress), future Prime Minister William Pitt whose grandfather smuggled a 410 karat diamond out of India (a story that is recounted in full), Frederick Prince of Wales, and Lord March who was one of the most notorious gamblers and rakes of the Georgian age.

While this required a great deal of research, I found it to be a fabulous challenge to take what history has left us of people long dead, and to fill in the blanks with conjecture and imaginative speculation in order to create flesh and blood characters.  My favorite example of this in FORTUNE’S SON is Philip Drake’s sidekick, George Selwyn, a man who left behind a large correspondence for posterity.

By reading Selwyn’s letters, I gleaned a great deal about his family, friendships, gambling habits, and even more about his personality. George was an extremely popular man and a noted wit of his time. He was born to a prominent though not aristocratic family. His parents and siblings were all courtiers and George himself had a long career as a Member of the House of Commons but is notable for never making a single speech in his forty-year political career. This told me that George played it safe and didn’t like to ruffle feathers. He was guilty of a number of shenanigans as a young man that got him expelled from university. His nickname was “Bosky” due to his weakness for drink. He was generous to his friends and liked to gamble to excess. He was also inordinately fond of public executions. Curiously, George Selwyn never married nor is there any mention of mistresses other than the vaguest hint of an affair with the Countess of Coventry.  

Using all of this I created Philip Drake’s sidekick, an amiable man who was everyone’s friend, who shared Philip’s gaming passion but with lesser skill, and one who didn’t much care for romantic entanglements. I endeavored to do justice to George’s true character and like to think that he would have approved of my efforts!

Emery Lee

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our Favorite Chuckle, and The Perfect Topic For Anne Elizabeth

When I first learned that this month’s CASA Blog theme is Things That Go Bump In The Night, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about: men and their camouflage applications.  Yes, that’s right – make-up!  For centuries, warriors (the Celts immediately spring to mind) have worn face coverings – masks and various feature-obliterating paints – over their visages to assist them in battle.  Oftentimes, using mud, clay, leaves, and a mixture of wines, dyes, and berries to aid their mission, they draw on their faces or don a covering before they set forth on their journey.

Now, several of us – Navy SEAL wives – love to tease our husbands about wearing makeup; yes, the gooey stuff that comes in a multitude of hues.  No matter whether it's mud browns or tans, leaf greens or flat black, this camo cover can be a major benefit for our men on their sensitive military Ops.  In my opinion, this is a helpful way for Navy SEAL men to keep things from going RAT-TAT-TAT or rather 'bump in the night.'

Many branches of our military, including our SEALs, wear no-glare camo cover to mask the color of their skin, to absorb light so it doesn’t bounce off their faces or unintentionally give away their position, and to help them hide in the shadows or darkness away from their enemies' sight. Among the types used are: black/olive drab jungle stick for night or with lightened hues for daytime such as light green/loam; green, grey, brown, and tan face paint for desert; brown/black crème in a tube for night; olive, black, grey, and brown for the woodlands are often in a compact. According to my husband, the sticks are easier to carry, because the tubes can leak, ooze, or create other problems.  The compacts carry a lot of color options, but they have a mirror and this can create a disadvantage if you need to reapply in a tricky place because a momentary flash can be created by any reflective surface if it picks up ambient light.  So, it is individual preference as to which type of camo to use.  Afterward, though, it washes off with soap and water or there is always the make-up/handy wipe.
Although it might be a favorite topic of laughter, I am grateful they use it.  This little trick hides their presence so they can do their jobs: slipping in efficiently and undetected, performing the necessary operation, and then getting out again safely, quietly, and effectively with none the wiser.  

The only individuals we want walking in the shadows is them – our military men – until their work is done...and then it is time for them to come home safely to our arms.  We love them, and this is one of our favorite ways to lighten the load and bring humor to their very dangerous lives.  What do you tease your loved ones about to make a hurdle or situation easier?  Does it take the scariness out of the night?

A Joyful, Safe, and Happy Halloween to all!  Hooyah & Hugs!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Editorial Notes That I Find I'm Requesting Again and Again

By Deb Werksman
 Editorial Manager
Sourcebooks Casablanca

There are some editorial notes that I find I’m requesting again and again, from authors both experienced and new. If you are one of my Fall 2012 authors, you will have received this email directly a while ago. I thought of another one, so check it out at the end of the list.

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE EXCEPTIONS! This is a craft we practice, not a science, so please don’t think this is all written in stone. 

Now, without further ado, here is the list of Editorial notes:

1)      The love story must be the primary focus of the book. Your book is being published in the romance category—the love story is what your reader is buying the book for, so please make sure all the other elements revolve around the love story. Make sure the action/adventure elements of your plot are NOT swamping the love story. 

2)      Start the love story as fast as possible. Don’t start with backstory, jump right into the love story. Hero and heroine should be on the page together no later than p. 10, and p. 1-5 is better. I’m not a fan of prologues (THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS)—find a way to tell the reader what they need to know as the love story unfolds.

3)      Not enough sexual/sensual tension or the pacing of the love story is too slow. The benchmark I like to use is: aim for first kiss by p. 50-60 and first sex scene by p. 100-120. If your characters aren’t moving that quickly, then you’re going to have to find a way to sustain the sexual/sensual tension between them in other ways, and that’s difficult to do. Fantasies and dream sequences are often not as strong as real encounters.

4)      Pacing in general. If you’re coming in at over 100,000 words, your pacing may be too slow. It’s worth considering and seeing what you can do to tighten up. The 90,000 words range is usually just about right.

5)      Hero and heroine apart for too many pages. Sometimes plot will require a physical separation of hero/heroine. Make sure it’s short in terms of pages. It’s very difficult to sustain tension if h/h are apart for too many pages – probably no more than one chapter at a time.

 6)      Time has passed indicators. Example: Three months later… This is a pet peeve of mine, I’m sorry. I hate these. Find a way to let the reader know in the course of the storytelling that time has passed.

7)      Do not design a series so the books must be read in order. Every book in your series must stand on its own. If your readership is expanding—and this is what you want to have happening—then new readers will be entering the series with each book. You’ll want them to be able to enter the series at any point. In addition, once you have multiple books on the market, you will have no control over where readers enter the series.

8)      Do not carry a secondary love story across more than one book. [Possible exceptions] If you’re working to set up the next hero and heroine in the current book, great. However, then they must be the hero and heroine of the next book. Do not set up a series so that one hero and/or heroine’s story unfolds over multiple books. You will likely run into two issues when you do that: one, you’re reprising a plot element; two, you’re frustrating your reader’s expectations.

9)      Too much setup of the next book. Focus on getting the job done in this book—if you do, readers will want the next book without you having to work so hard to set i up.

10)   Reprising. Try not to reprise—you need a new hero and heroine, new conflict elements, new secondary characters in every book. You must repopulate your world. This doesn’t mean you can’t keep your key secondary characters, just make sure you’re introducing enough new ones. What  you want to avoid is the reader having the experience that she’s read this book already.

11)   Keep your heat level, level of darkness/lightness and action consistent. Remember you are building your brand and your readers want the reading experience they’re buying you for. It’s like going to MacDonald’s and getting a different amount of pickles every time you go. The brand becomes unreliable. 

NEW! 12) Don’t injure your character so much that you preclude a romantic/sexy/sensual ending. Often at the end of a story there will be a rescue scene and one of the characters (hero or heroine) gets injured. Please make sure either enough time passes for sufficient recovery before the ending or that the injuries are not severe. A love scene/sex scene is often called for at the end and if your character has a concussion or a broken bone, it’s not likely they’ll be “in the mood.”

Thank you! I welcome questions about any and all of this! Here’s what I’m looking for:

*single title romance in all subgenres (paranormal, historical, contemporary, romantic suspense, erotic romance)
*90,000 words please
*send full manuscript (partial ok if you’re a published author already), synopsis, your sales history
*editorial criteria:
--a heroine the reader can relate to
--a hero she can fall in love with
--a world gets created that the reader can escape into
--a hook I can sell within 2-3 sentences
--a career arc for the author—what’s coming next, and next and next if your readers love this book

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I Saw a Ghost!

Yep, I'm one of those weird ones who likes to find adventures of the dangerous sort. I absolutely love shows like Storm Chasers and Ghost Hunters. The people in those shows brave some rather wicked foes, be it a tornado or some sort of malevolent spirit.

So when I was in Philadelphia back in August, it was only appropriate that I would venture off for the ghost hunting tour offered on the first night of my stay in Philly. The inner skeptic in me laughed and said, "Yeah right. It'll be all smoke and mirrors." However, the inner adventurer in me shrugged. Even if it was all staged, at least I'll learn some history. Most of the places on the tour were famous historical buildings, after all.

The tour guide passed out EMF readers. My inner skeptic rolled his eyes. My inner adventurer said, "Oh! I'm an official Ghost Hunter!" We were encouraged to take pictures. I eagerly turned my camera on, ready to catch a ghost in action. The tour started off at Washington Square Park that just happened to be a colonial cemetery where they buried unknown people. It is here that you can find the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. There is a flame, similar to the one at John F. Kennedy's grave, that stays lit all year long. The tour guide gave us a creepy story about people who used to steal bodies for the nearby hospital. Free cadavers, after all? She told us about a mysterious woman who used to watch over the cemetery to make sure no bodies were snatched. Her ghost can sometimes be found wandering the park.

The only interesting sight here was of a homeless man who decided he needed to light his cigarette with the flame from the soldier's tomb. I was mortified. I half expected the mysterious ghost woman to appear and give the man a scare. Alas, it was not to be. And then we moved off to our next tour destination.

I took many pictures. I saw a few orbs pop up in a few of them. I've posted some of the images above. My internal skeptic assured me it was probably moisture on my lens. Darn him. He always ruins my fun. But then I snapped the mother of all pictures. My internal skeptic has yet to reply.

What do you think? Truth or Fiction? One lucky commenter will win a free ARC of Demons Like It Hot.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Things that Go Bump in Your Dreams

from Mia Marlowe...

I won't say I actually saw a ghost when I was a kid, but I did see something. I blogged about it at Brava Authors so I won't repeat myself here. But as an adult, I do definitely feel as if I had a visitation from a departed loved one.

It came in the form of a vivid dream. A few months after my grandfather died, I dreamed of him. Instead of looking haggard and wasted as he had when I saw him near the end of his life, he was robust and happy. He winked at me and said, "Tell your grandma I love her."

So, of course, I had to call my grandma and tell her about my dream. She was so relieved. You see, she'd been catching glimpses of my grandfather around their house. From the corner of her eye, she'd seen him standing in a doorway, but when she'd turn her head, he'd disappear. She feared she was going crazy.

Fortunately, I was able to reassure her. I'd just read an article about how people often see departed loved ones in familiar places because of a trick of embedded memory. So she could choose to believe she was seeing a memory, or based on the strength of my dream, she could decide that my grandfather was still close by and trying to tell her the message he eventually sent through me.

He loved her.

And not even death could change that.

Have you been visited by a departed loved one? Seen a ghost? I'd love to hear from YOU!
Visit for all the latest on Mia's books, contests, and active blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Bump to My Heart, by Tracey Devlyn

For the last couple months, I’ve been working on some big projects at my day job, which has required me to adjust my schedule to meet deadlines. Rather than my normal Monday through Friday, I’ve been working Tuesday through Saturday. No big deal. I actually like coming into the office on Saturday when it’s quiet. It’s amazing how much work one can accomplish when not being interrupted every ten minutes. :)

Well, this past Monday, I was working at home, having a really good writing day. Then at 12:16 pm, an email pops up from my editor. Up to this point, I had been diligently ignoring those handy, albeit annoying, email notifications. But this was my editor. No way could I ignore her message.

So I clicked it open and read the subject line. And that’s when anticipation bumped into my heart. To be perfectly honest, the bump was more like a slam, but I had to fit the occasion to this month’s theme. :)

Wanna know what sent anticipation slamming into my heart?

My debut’s cover.

Isn’t it striking? The orange is bold, yet soft and sensual. Definitely romantic. Subtly suspenseful.

The throwing knife in Cora’s hand figures prominently in the story, so I was really happy the cover artist included it in the design.

Okay, I’ll stop gushing. If you’d like to know more about my April 2012 release, A Lady’s Revenge, please stop by my website. Sign up for my newsletter while you’re there. Subscribers will receive exclusive content and first dibs on giveaways!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Childhood Memory of Things That Go Bump In The Night by C.H. Admirand

Growing up on Cedar Hill, life was just a bit different because our neighborhood was so small and everyone knew everyone else. Best of all,  my brother, sisters, and I were lucky enough to have friends right around our own age.

Naturally, I followed my big brother EVERYWHERE! Which would explain why one time he left me halfway up a pine tree while he and his friend ran away—then there was that time we were playing Army, and I was the soldier with a head wound and that needing cleaning—and they got soapy water in my eyes. There is definitely a pattern here…which leads me to one of the scariest moments from childhood—following my brother and his friend to Trenchert’s House—it was haunted. 

We all knew it and were forbidden to go there by our parents. Naturally as kids, we didn’t listen, we were kids!  As I snuck through the woods—close behind my brother and his friend—but not too close, I realized they were headed toward Trenchert’s…and then the screaming started! 

Horrified by the sound, I froze and watched my best friend coming out of Trenchert’s screaming with her arms outstretched and no hands! To this day I will never forget the sound of her pain-filled screams—or the laughter that followed when they found me cowering in the woods.  For some reason it was my turn to play a prank on and my friend had worn her older sister’s jacket and pulled her hands inside. Even though it had all been one great joke to them, it had scared me spitless, and I never went near Trenchert’s again. 

As I got older, I realized the real reason all of the parents forbid their kids to go there was that the house was literally falling down. It had been a hunting retreat in the 1920s that had caught fire. Because Cedar Hill’s roads were all dirt at the time, with no fire hydrants or water supply nearby, the house burned, leaving only the fieldstone foundations, patio and a small corner of the house intact.

Maybe that’s why I’m not a big fan of scary movies or things that go bump in the night—I prefer the holidays filled with home-baked pies, cookies and cakes!

What was the scariest moment of your childhood—and was it because of a friend or sibling?

Friday, October 21, 2011

The best way to read about things that go bump in the night -- by winning a NOOK

Hi all! I'm celebrating THE STORM THAT IS STERLING with a fun contest to win a NOOK! That's right -- a NOOK! And if you check out my website I am doing an early blog tour with all kinds of prizes as well! Including in November a HONEY BAKED HAM AND GODIVA!

So go HERE to win a Nook -- good luck!
Go HERE to see what other great prizes I am giving away

And I don't know about you guys but as much as I like a scary story its always better with a hot hero nearby that you can snuggle close to.

And I have a feeling I'll be doing that when I go see Paranormal Activity 3 out today ! Tell me this preview isn't scarier than some of the entire movies you've seen!

Happy Paranormal Activity Day everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Giveaway: Great Books for Writers

By Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor

As I was planning the post, I didn't realize we'd have our own bump in the night--lots of rain led to a bit a ceiling leak in the apartment. Which meant moving bookshelves, mopping up, draping everything we own with towels, and all kinds of fun.

This morning, though, it's all blue skies and sunshine and the perfect time to announce a Twitter contest that can help writers smooth out any bumps in your path.

Sourcebooks will celebrate the National Day on Writing on Thursday, October 20th, with a “Name Your Favorite Author” Twitter contest and giveaway.

Every two hours (between 9amEDT and 7pmEDT) Sourcebooks will give away a collection of writing and publishing titles to a randomly selected winner who Tweets the name of their favorite author using the hashtags (#dayonwriting #favwriter. The winning package includes copies of Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents 2012, Writing Great Books for Young Adults, and 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected.

Established in 2009 by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the National Day on Writing celebrates composition in all forms—from stories, poems, and letters to text messages, videos, and audio recordings—and demonstrates how writing is a vital part of our everyday lives.

Tips for writers, writing resources for educators, and more information on the National Day on Writing and the National Gallery of Writing, an online gallery that showcases submissions from writers of all ages and talents, can be found on the NCTE website.

For more info about the giveaway click here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Growing up as a child of the night by Stephanie Julian

My mom is a huge horror fan and created me in her image.

As a kid, the first movie I remember watching with her was "The Wolfman" staring Lon Chaney Jr. I have a very vivid memory of sitting on the couch next to my mom and watching a man turn into a hairy creature who died a tragic death. From then on, I was hooked.

We watched Dr. Shock together on Saturday afternoons. We went to see Jaws, The Thing, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Alien, and every slasher/monster/alien movie you could imagine. My mom braved the midnight movies to take me to see Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Eraserhead and Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We swooned over Frank Langella as Dracula and, later, at Gary Oldman. We laughingly cringed at out-there films like Re-animator and The Toxic Avenger. We've kept the tradition alive with movies like Paranormal Activity.

My mom bought me my first Fangoria and Heavy Metal magazines. She gave me her copies of Stephen King's Carrie and Salem's Lot then proceeded to buy me every Stephen King book I ever wanted.

Then I had kids of my own. My youngest (like my younger brother before him) doesn't like scary movies. Not the way my oldest and I do. When Paranormal Activity came out, my mom, my son and I went together. We had a great time. And when Super 8 opened, we were at the first showing.

Bring on those children of the night. My mom and I will be there to greet them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Home Alone by Tamara Hogan

My imagination...
 Mark and I live out in the country, where the chances of anyone approaching our house - for any reason whatsoever, regardless of the time of day - are pretty much zero. Our driveway is hundreds of yards long. Even our closest neighbors call before coming over, and we do the same.  All that's introvert heaven.

Usually. Because when Mark's gone for the weekend and I'm home know where my imagination goes. My hearing, always very acute, ratchets into overdrive. I hear every scratch or thump, inside and outside - especially when that thump occurs in the middle of the night.

There are a lot of animals, both wild and domesticated, on the loose in the area, and they don't particularly care that humans are trying to sleep. Coyotes howl at the moon in eerie harmony. Racoons ruckus and rumble as they cross the road. The deer play Chicken with cars on the county highway, rabbits hop the fence to nibble in the garden, and roaming barn cats yowl and mate. The next door neighbor's horses occasionally kick their stall walls well before the sun comes up, thinking it's time for breakfast, and her goat's neck bell clanks at all hours. Our own indoor cats have decided that 4:00 a.m. is "Fight Club" time, with Round One usually being fought on my legs. 

We are fortunate that we can primarily read the local Police Report for entertainment. That said...have you ever thought about what you'd do if someone broke into your house and you were home alone? How long it would take for the cops to show up, even if you could get to a phone and make a call? I have. Let's just say that I feel better having our next door neighbor, Pistol Packin' Patty, on speed dial.

So of course all this was going through my head when I heard a loud thump in the lower level of the house last month, when I was home alone. I knew I'd checked the doors and windows, and all were closed and locked. None of the outside motion lights had flipped on. I sat up tensely, turned on the bedroom light, put the phone in my lap, and then...I read. Yup, you read that right: I picked up our own Grace Burrowes' THE SOLDIER off my so-tall-it-tips TBR, and read. (Being small and weaponless, I wasn't about to go downstairs and actually, you know, check it out!)

...and the reality. Still scary.
Five minutes passed. Ten. Fifteen. And as I 99.9% suspected would be the case, I didn't hear the noise again. At the half hour point, the cats galloped upstairs from the basement. Maybe Fight Club had been relocated to the first level; who knows why cats do what they do? I relaxed, laughing at myself for having such a vivid, girly imagination, and kept reading until my alarm went off a couple of hours later, when it was time to drive to the coffeeshop and write.

When I opened the door leading to the attached garage, my jaw dropped. The garage door was yawning wide open, and had been all night long.

So much for those locked doors and windows.

If you're home alone and hear a bump in the night, are you more likely to wait it out, or check it out? Why?

Tamara Hogan’s debut urban fantasy romance, TASTE ME, was released earlier this year by Sourcebooks Casablanca. Underbelly Chronicles Book Two, CHASE ME, will be published in June, 2012.