Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"The Soldier" Marches Out Smartly! by Grace Burrowes

This is a wonderful, delightful, awesome, very good day for me because the second book in The Duke’s Obsession Trilogy heads for the shelves. “The Soldier” is the story of not one but three wounded and weary hearts who find their way to a happily ever after, and of all the manuscripts I’ve completed, this is one of the ones I’ve enjoyed writing the most.

Devlin St. Just is the first born illegitimate son of the Duke of Moreland, tossed into his father’s household at a young age in order that he might have “every advantage.” What he ended up with was a bewildering adjustment and nine younger half siblings, toward whom he adopted a role closer to bodyguard than brother.

With the Napoleonic wars finally at an end, Devlin musters out of the cavalry and drags himself home to find his enterprising family has prevailed on the Regent to dump an impoverished Yorkshire earldom in his lap—and the estate comes complete with the former owner’s very young child loose upon the premises without much in the way of supervision.

Winnie does, however, have a cousin named Emmaline Farnum who is making some effort to civilize her. St. Just proposes that Emmie serve as a temporary governess for Winnie while the adults involved attempt to sort the situation out.

Emmie and St. Just sort themselves out only after a lot of stumbling and falling (into each others’ arms) and gathering their courage and risking their hearts. This book includes supporting appearances by Douglas, Lord Amery, whom we met in the first book, “The Heir,” and by Lord Valentine Windham, St. Just’s youngest brother (and hero of the next book, “The Virtuoso,” to be launched on a wonderful, delightful, awesome, very good day in November).

An excerpt, wherein we find Our Hero pontificating to Our Heroine:

“I do not comprehend yet all the local nuances of manners and etiquette, Miss Farnum, but I am not about to let a young lady walk home alone in the dark.” The earl angled his free elbow out to her and gestured toward the door held open by the footman.

Barbarian. Emmie wanted to stomp her foot hard—on his—and march off into the darkness. She’d capitulated—albeit grudgingly and perhaps only temporarily—to his idea of sharing responsibility for Bronwyn. She’d put up with his sniping and probing and serving her tea. She’d agreed to move her business activities to his kitchens, but she would not be bullied.

“I know the way, my lord,” she said, glaring at him. “There is no need for this display.”

“You are going to be responsible for Winnie’s first efforts to acquire a sense of decorum and reserve, Miss Farnum.” He picked up her hand and deposited it back on his forearm, then led her down the steps. “You must begin as you intend to go on and set a sincere example for the child. She’ll spot fraud at fifty paces, and even my authority won’t be able to salvage your efforts then. A lady graciously accepts appropriate escort.”

“Is this how you trained recruits when you were soldiering?” She stomped along beside him, ignoring the beauty of the full moon and the fragrances of the summer night. “You box them in, reason with them, tease, argue, taunt, and twist until you get what you want?”

“You are upset. If I have given offense, I apologize.” His voice was even, not the snippy, non-apology of a man humoring a woman’s snit. She hauled him through the darkness for another twenty yards or so before she stopped and heaved a sigh.

“I am sorry,” Emmie said, dropping his arm. “I suppose I am jealous.”

He made no move to recapture her hand but put his own on the small of her back and guided her steps forward again. “You are jealous of what?”

“Of your ease with Bronwyn. Of the wealth allowing you to provide so easily for her. Of your connections, enabling you to present her a much better future than I could. Of your ability to wave a hand and order all as you wish it.”

“Are we being pursued by bandits, Miss Farnum?” the earl asked, his voice a velvety baritone in the soft, summery darkness.

“We are not.”

“Then perhaps we could proceed at less than forced march? It is a beautiful night, the air is lovely, and I’ve always found darkness soothing when I took the time to appreciate it.”

“And from what would the Earl of Rosecroft need soothing?”

Oh, if dear Emmie only knew now what she learns about St. Just’s troubles in the ensuing 300 pages… I hope you enjoy reading this book as much I enjoyed writing it.

Glass Half Empty or Half Full? (By Catherine Mann)

Our Casablanca blog theme for the month: Hope. This made me think of the age old question: Is your glass half empty or half full?



Yes, you are seeing a blinged-out, be-dazzled, monogrammed wine glass. It started out as a joke at a neighborhood picnic and now has become a cute tradition when we gather for cook outs. Stick on jewels are courtesy of the local craft store. :) Diet coke, straight from my fridge.

But I digress. I like to think I'm a glass-half-full kind of person. Although like most folks, I have my days when it seems the glass it mighty darn empty. So, on one of those days, I posted the "glass" question on my facebook page, hoping to find either commiseration or inspiration. I actually found both in the witty answers of my facebook friends. Here are a few of the highlights. I hope they bring a smile to your face as well!

Is your glass half empty or half full?

*Neither. Mine is overflowing.

*Depends on whether I'm drinking.

*What glass???

* It's just too da** large.

*Depends what's in it...lol cough syrup, then half empty but chocolate milk would be full.

*Always half full, as long as I have the wine bottle.

* I don't have a glass. I used to have a glass then puppies took over and now my glass is gone. I need to find a new glass! :)

*Empty.

*I use small glasses so it doesn't take much to fill them. :-)

*It's in the dishwasher.

And finally, since I had just given a dear friend a be-dazzled, monogrammed wine glass of her own, she replied...

*My NEW glass is going to be half to three quarters full tonight! :)

***

So, as I drink my half full, blinged glass of diet Coke, I celebrate the joys in my life and hopes for the summer, some of which have to do with my books on the horizon. As you're packing your bag or e-reader with summers reads, I hope you'll check out my June book: ACQUIRED: CEO'S SMALL TOWN BRIDE.


http://www.catherinemann.com/acquired-ceos-small-town-bride/

And in July, my Sourcebooks Casablanca debut: COVER ME


http://www.catherinemann.com/cover-me/

And here's a link to a video book trailer for COVER ME!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i35LHkTypM

If you're looking for more books to fill your summer beach bag, check out the 6 book contest I'm currently running on my website. www.CatherineMann.com Contest ends today, May 31. Good luck!

What are your hopes for the summertime?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day...Pause and Remember


Memorial Day...


Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U. S. soldiers who died while in military service.
Memorial Day began as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the Civil War, but by the early 20th century, it was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people visited the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not.


Today, I would like to take a minute to thank all the women and men who are serving our country, who have served our country in the past and most of all those who are away from their families today as they protect my family and its freedom. You all have my utmost admiration and appreciation and deserve respect and honor beyond words to describe and beyond what is possible to imagine. The flag in our front yard is flying at half mast until noon to remember the more than one million men and women who have given their lives in service to our country. At noon, Husband, who is a veteran, will raise it to full-staff to let everyone know that those who have sacrificed didn't do so in vain, but their service will continue in the hearts of those living who fight for liberty and justice.


The theme for the Casablanca blogs in June, which is only a couple of days away, is amazing women, both fictional and real. Those women that we have known or would have liked to know that have touched our lives in some way. Since today is Memorial Day I'd like to recognize Sharlene Waverly, the heroine of Honky Tonk Christmas.


Sharlene came to the Honky Tonk in the days when Larissa was the owner. She started working part time and then lost her job at the Dallas Morning News and moved to Mingus. Larissa didn't ask many questions but it was evident that Sharlene had secrets. I wasn't even totally sure what she was hiding until I started writing Honky Tonk Christmas. In the first few pages of the book it is revealed that Sharlene was a sniper in Iraq and her job didn't stay in the sand or the bombed out buildings but came right back to Oklahoma and Texas with her.


The Army does not train women to be snipers. It's not in the job description anywhere on her records but Sharlene was secretly in black ops missions during two tours in Iraq. And when she came home she was afraid to tell anyone about what she'd done for fear of the repercussions that it would bring. What man would want a relationship with a former sniper? Commitment to her job at the Honky Tonk wasn't hard (she'd made up her mind to be the last owner); commitment to a relationship was near impossible, even though nothing did but sleeping in Holt Jackson’s arms erased the nightmares.


But a relationship with Holt was impossible. He was raising his niece and nephew and Waylon and Judd kept him way too busy to think about the spicy little red head who owned the Honky Tonk. Besides she was his boss since he was working for her adding an addition to the Honky Tonk. There was no way a relationship could even get off the ground with Holt, and if it did he'd be gone from Mingus as quick as he could gather up his kids and get the hell away from Sharlene if he found out she had been a sniper.
In the opening paragraph of the book Sharlene was having horrible nightmares about the day her spotter was killed right beside her. The more I wrote about her and the more that I understood the effect that being a sniper has on those who are trained for it, the more I began to appreciate those who serve our country .


When it came time to dedicate the book, I thought the best way to honor Sharlene's fabulous character was with the following:


Thank you to all the women who have served or are serving in any branch of the United States Armed Forces.



Today Sharlene Waverly, the spicy red haired heroine from Honky Tonk Christmas, is my candidate for awesome woman of the day. I'm forever grateful for those in real life who serve like she did in my book to keep us safe and I hope that they really do come home to their own Happy-Ever-After in their lives!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Glamorous Life

Before I was an author I used to dream about the good life. Working from home, setting my own hours, sleeping in, writing when I want to write and never again being tied to a bell (yes, I was a teacher in my previous life). And let's not forget the payoff...money. Lots of it. From all my sales I'd buy a bigger house, take lavish vacations. Write the next bestseller from the shores of Hawaii.

Talk to any of my friends and they think this is my life. I'm an author, right? And all authors live like Danielle Steel, don't they?

Ah, the glamour...

That fantasy trickled through my mind today as I was sitting in the library, working on revisions for my April 2012 release, ENRAPTURED. Why was I at the public library? Because it's free to work there. A dollar in parking pays for free Internet and a relatively quiet place where I can get away from my screaming kids (all three of whom had the day off from school...thank you, budget reductions). Of course, free comes with a catch. Homeless people in serious need of baths. Teenagers who chat too loudly. Security guards who give you the evil eye when you smuggle in a Frappucino to keep you going. And then today...oh, today was the best of the best. A moment when I realized just how glamorous this writing life really is.

I'd parked myself at a table near an electrical outlet, in a wide aisle between stacks. Tables around me were empty. The closest person was a good three rows away. I had my earbuds in, was rocking out to the Gladiator soundtrack, when a gentleman in a turban walked by and dropped his coat on the other chair at my table.

Now, my table was small, round, maybe 5 feet across, with two chairs. There were three other empty tables around me. At least six other chairs. But this man had to sit next to me. He walked behind me, browsed the shelf, picked a book, came back and dropped it on my table with a crack. Then he sat down. Heaved out a sigh...loudly...one that was easily discernible over my music. Braced his arms on the table. And as the uneven legs of my table knocked my laptop into my hands, the overpowering stench of his cologne hit me and made me want to gag.

I ignored him. (Though in my head you know I was thinking, What the hell?) He finally got the hint and left. I watched him stalk across the library and head toward the children's section. *shudder* I went back to work. Ten minutes later he was back, dropping his coat on the same chair and settling down to watch me write.

Would it have made a difference if he looked like Brad Pitt? Ah, no. Creepy is creepy no matter the outer packaging. I routinely work at the library, and I've learned to avoid certain people. This was the first time I ever had to stop working and close my screen. Never mind the fact I was revising a very sexy love scene. When you can't write because someone who smells like a cross between bad body odor and Brut cologne is buzzing around you, you know you've hit the big time.

What was the topic this month? Oh yeah, hope. I still have hope that one day my fantasy of "the good life" might just come true.


***

Quick Addition:

This is release week for BODYGUARDS IN BED, my romantic suspense anthology with Lucy Monroe and Jamie Denton. All week long I'm promoing great authors and giving away books and goodies over on my blog. Stop by and leave a comment for the prizes you want to be entered to win!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

HOPE…AND THE POWER OF LOVE, By Kathryne Kennedy

When I read the theme for this month’s blog, I was working on my first round of edits for book 3 in THE ELVEN LORDS series, THE LORD OF ILLUSION, and came across a passage that fit perfectly into our theme. One of those serendipitous moments. :}

I think all writers deal with the concept of hope in their stories. No matter how bad things get, no matter how dispirited our characters are by the sometimes cruel situations we put them in, we always leave them hope.

Although, you, as the reader, know there’s going to be a happy ending because you are reading a romance, our characters don’t and we must give them the strength to keep fighting…or a little help in continuing to do so, as shown in the excerpt below from THE LORD OF ILLUSION. My heroine is strong on the outside, but inside she is broken. When her growing love for my hero allows her to open up, to allow the one part of her that she has been able to protect to become vulnerable, she is given the strength to work towards becoming whole again.


Could she be his love? She did not know. But he deserved an answer, and she tried to gather her thoughts to express her feelings…something she had never tried to do before. Something no one had ever asked of her. It had been long and long since anyone cared.

“How can I explain to you what it is like to be a slave?” Camille closed her eyes. “I remember when I was little I used to fight against the way my captors treated me. As if I had no rights…as if I had become a lesser person than anyone else. It enraged me and I would fight back. I would demand to be treated as if my opinions—my life—still mattered. And then the men would take what they wanted anyway. If I made too many of them angry or tried to run, I would be beaten. And after days, after months, after years…I fought for so long to be strong that I lost pieces of myself--of my heart--along the way.”

Camille opened her eyes, gazed at his handsome face, at the sympathy etched across his perfect features. She did not want him to feel sorry for her; she just wanted him to understand. She lifted her chin and leveled her voice. “I do not know if I will ever be able to get those parts of me back—to regain what I have lost. No matter how hard I try, no matter how hard you try…I am cursed…I am not a whole woman…there are so many reasons why I cannot ever offer what you are asking for.”

He picked up her hand and kissed it, his lips warm against her skin. “But you will allow me to try?”

An odd feeling swelled in her heart. Hope. He offered her hope, and she could not deny him.

She nodded.

His golden eyes darkened to brown. “In the meantime, I shall just have to love you enough for the both of us.”



Just as in real life, our characters must have hope that their situations will get better. That their dark moments will pass; that they can and will overcome whatever obstacles we throw at them. Hope gives courage and faith, and allows our characters to overcome incredible odds. Just like in real life. And just as in real life, our characters may need support from someone who loves them.

And so we get to the reason I love writing romance. There will always be someone to love them.

Wishing you Happy Reading,
Kathryne

Friday, May 27, 2011

Black Ops and Men in Black


by Mary Margret Daughtridge.

The other day, out making an errand run, on the spur of the moment I decided to detour to a friend’s house.

I paid little attention when the shiny lime green car behind me made the same turns I did, until it turned into the driveway of my friend’s next door neighbor, just as I pulled into her drive. A man got out and walked toward me flashing a badge.

That’s the beginning of the story I was going to introduce this blog with. Sorry, I can’t tell you more. I realized even if I disguised as many details as I could, anyone who knew just a few public facts about me would be able to interpolate what the real story was. And you never know, you just never know who will read a blog.

So I dumped the whole idea.

But thinking about how easily any disguise of a true story could unravel made me appreciate the extreme secrecy under which SEALs operate. Fundamentally, everything about everything they do is secret.

Which is why I was surprised to hear on national media that SEALs specifically rather than “a Special Operations team” were responsible for ending bin Laden’s career.

I was surprised because the media proceeded to do exactly what they do—which is dig for more facts.

“When are we going to see pictures of these men?”

Never. You’d might as well sign their death certificates. The photos would go viral in under three minutes and terrorist organizations would be using them for target practice. If you had a face you were looking for, it wouldn’t be all that hard to learn where an off-duty SEAL might be.

“When will their names be released?”

Never. They have families, children. They could become targets too.

SEALs succeed by appearing where nobody expects them to be and doing what no one knows they can do. I’ve become fairly skillful at reading between the lines of news reports. Imagine what someone with real intelligence at their disposal could do.

I know how much can be put together from seemingly unrelated facts. Tom Clancy author of Hunt for Red October came this close to being accused of breeching national security for his mix of great research and spot on conjecture.

SEALed Forever, my May release, is the result of odds and ends I’ve picked up. An opinion expressed here, facts about the phenomenal increase of more of less off –the-books intelligence gathering, mentions of SEALs being employed in various capacities—it all adds up.

At some point it jelled into a story. Every word is fiction. But then, being a writer chased by my own imagination, I wonder , “What if all that stuff I made up—what if it’s true?”

What if some morning the men in black are on my doorstep wanting to know how I learned about the baby who was smuggled into the country aboard a spy plane?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hope?

You wanna talk about hope? I'm hoping for a lot of things right now, but mainly I'm just hoping I can get through the month of June.

Virgin's release is June 1, and Double Desire, my contribution to Sharing, the first Sextet Anthology for Siren, will be released June 3rd.

I'm going to the Lori Foster Get Together the first weekend in June. My hope there is that I arrive without having gotten lost. (Mapquest, don't fail me now!) Then I have an INRWA meeting the second Saturday in June.

I have revisions to Stud due June 20th. Then there are the guest blogs for Virgin throughout the month of June. To date, I've written one. Usually I'm done with them the month prior, but several are interviews. Don't have the questions yet, so I can't write them. Guess I'll move on to write the later ones first. At least I'll be ahead on something.

Then there's RWA the last week of June. I'll be missing both of my son's birthdays because they moved the event up to the end of June instead of the end of July. But they're big boys now, so I hope they'll forgive me.

I'm also hoping there aren't any bedbugs in the hotel in New York. Everyone assures me that this is a classy hotel and there won't be. Everyone but my husband, that is. He's worried that I'll bring them home with me. We're on vacation in Myrtle Beach right now, and I'd ask him for a bedbug update, but I don't want to get him started.

Anyway, I'm still writing blogs, still working on revisions. But at least I have an ocean view. Budley rigged up an office for me on the balcony so I could enjoy the sea breeze. And yes, that's an ironing board.





















I'm also on the eighteenth floor.





















I'm hoping I don't feel the need to jump before I leave tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Still Believe in a Place Called Hope (Arkansas, that is) by Shana Galen




This month we’re blogging about hope. I’ve been to Hope. I stayed in a Holiday Inn there. And I met the future President of the United States too.

In 1984 my family moved from Michigan to Texas. The economy in Michigan was struggling (kind of like now), and my dad got a job offer in Houston. He accepted the offer, bought a house, then called my mom and told her to sell the house in Michigan and pack up the car.

She did. She packed the whole house, arranged the move, then drove three days with two little kids and a cat. She’d never even seen the house my dad bought. I know she was operating on hope alone.

I hope the house he bought doesn’t have orange shag carpet (it did).

I hope the kids don’t get sick on the drive (my sister threw up the first day).

I hope we can sneak the cat into the motel (I told the friendly manager who said hi to me all about the cat in our room and we were asked to leave).

We did eventually make it to Houston, but not before that stop in Hope, Arkansas. It was the last stop on our trip, and things were going well. I resisted mentioning the cat to the friendly manager at the Holiday Inn. My little sister was over her car sickness. And the orange shag carpet had not yet been discovered.

We were excited about seeing my dad the next day, moving into a new house, and starting a new life. We all had high hopes for what the future held. Perhaps Hope was the perfect place for us to stop for the night. We were tired and trudged into the small hotel restaurant for a late dinner. The restaurant was really crowded, and when my mom asked why, the waiter told us the governor was there meeting with advisors that night.

Photos of Birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton, Hope
This photo of Birthplace of William Jefferson Clinton is courtesy of TripAdvisor

My mom was mildly interested, but my sister and I could have cared less. Still, we smiled and waved when Bill Clinton walked through the dining room and said hi to everyone. Nine years later my mom reminded me of that meeting when Clinton ran for President.

I think someone who runs for President must have an unlimited supply of hope. Anyone who decides to become an author must have even more. But that’s the wonderful thing about hope—it’s free, in unlimited supply, and available to everyone. And if you’re ever passing through Arkansas, you can visit it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hope, Faith, and the Rules of Romance

by Joanne Kennedy

Hope is at the heart of every romance novel. The heroine hopes for love and a better life. The hero hopes he can be the one who helps her realize her dreams. The reader hopes for a happy ending. And the author hopes the whole thing works out, too.

Hope is a big part of my writing process. When I begin a book, I have an idea of how my story's going to go -- but so much depends on something beyond myself. Maybe it's inspiration, maybe it's a muse, but I think it's a kind of magic contained in stories themselves, something that brings them alive and makes all the pieces fit together like blocks in a Rubik's Cube sliding into place.

When I start a story, I hope the magic works. I hope my characters grow and develop in my mind until they become fully real. I hope my plot works as well in practice as it does in theory, with all those pieces sliding together to make a cohesive whole. I hope the themes I'm dealing with come to mean more and more to me as I'm writing, so they'll mean something to the reader when I'm done.

I once tried to write a novel without hope. I decided that leaving anything to chance was just too risky, so I created a massive, detailed outline before I started. I calculated every character's goal, motivation and conflict, and wrote little biographies for every single person who appeared in the story. I put each plot point on a sticky note, using different colors for the different types of scenes. I organized the notes on the wall of my little office in the attic, putting high-tension scenes toward the top, less exciting ones lower down (see picture). I used every technique I'd ever read about or learned in a workshop to make darn sure my novel would work.

It sounded like a sensible, productive way to work. If I had the story all worked out in every detail, I wouldn't have to count on inspiration or muses or magic, right? I'd know exactly what scene I had to write and what elements needed to be included.

But all that planning took the spontaneity out of the process, and it felt like I'd killed the poor story before it even started. The characters were boring. The plot felt flat and dull. Everything was pre-ordained, and there was nothing left to hope for.

So I tossed the outline along with what I'd written, set my characters loose to do what they wanted, and hoped for the best. It turned out the characters weren't the people I'd planned on, and the plot didn't go where I expected -- but the book, which turned out to be One Fine Cowboy, was just nominated for a RITA Award (yeah, I had to mention that somehow!). I've received lots of e-mails from readers saying they felt like I was telling their personal story in the book, so who knows where the magic came from?

Not that outlining is a bad thing. Doing it in that detailed way was still an education, and the various methods helped me understand the skeleton that lies under a story. And of course, different things work for different writers. I know a guy who writes an eighty-page outline for his novels, and he consistently makes the bestseller lists. So obviously, it works for some people!

But what works for me is outlining just enough to write a proposal and synopsis that bear some resemblance to the finished book. Then I let the story unfold as I go, and I love the way characters create themselves and determine their destinies as various parts of the story weave together in unexpected ways. In the end, hope is a big part of my writing process -- hope, and a little faith in magic.

Casababes, how does your writing process work? Do you outline, or set off on your adventure without much planning? Readers, are you planners or pantsers? Do you plan every moment of your day, or just fly by the seat of your pants?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friends through the romance community


Hi all,

I have friends from Australia coming to visit! We'll host them for a week, and I'm so looking forward to seeing them again.

Does this tie in with our theme of hope? Oh, it most certainly does. I never would have met Rebecca if not for writing romance. We started with the same e-publisher many years ago. Liking her immediately through her posts on the author's forum, I started corresponding with her via email. I read one of her books and was impressed by her talent of handling vivid description without bogging down the pace.

I asked her to critique for me, because I was working on this skill. She did, and then allowed me to critique for her too. It was not only an honor, but a pleasure. Who wouldn't want an early peek at a wonderful story written by one of their favorite authors?

We critiqued for each other many times after that and still do on occasion. At one point, I wrote an Aussie heroine and a Rom hero who met on a cruise ship. She couldn't have been more perfect as a critiquer for that one. She has fond memories of her Rom grandparents.

Most recently, I sent her the book that will be coming out in August...the Vampire Next Door. There was something missing, and no one could put a finger on it. I sent it to her and she spotted the problem immediately. As soon as I knew what to fix, I happily revised.

You might not think an Aussie who writes YA and contemporary erotic romance would jive with an American who writes light paranormal romance, but we do...just like I jive with my local critique partner who writes historical romance. If not for the romance community, I wouldn't have met either of these wonderful women.

So, where does the hope come in? Well, in 2001 I lost my parents. I won't go into the traumatic events, just the aftermath. I quit my nursing job, because I felt like I needed to do something for me for a while. I took a job in a garden center. Taking care of plants was infinitely easier than taking care of people. Meanwhile, I began writing a novel. I just drifted along for a year, not knowing what I was doing, just knowing I had to do it. In Feb of 2002, I discovered Romance Writers of America. They gave me focus, taught me how to write a publishable manuscript, and guided me along the writer's journey.

I didn't know it then, but the family I lost made way for a whole new family. The romance community is a world-wide family I might never have heard of otherwise. I didn't read romance novels until my parents got sick. A fellow nurse stuck one in my hands and said, "Here. Read this." I didn't know it was a romance until I was well into the sequel! I just knew it was a well-written, wonderful, healthy escape when I needed it most.

I saw this nurse a few months ago and told her she changed my life. To my surprise, she said I'd changed hers too. What a remarkable world we live in when we allow ourselves to connect through something as affirming and hopeful as love.

So, I'm looking forward to seeing one of my best friends in the world--someone I'd never have known without joining and embracing the romance community. Do you have someone special you've met by sharing a love of the romance genre?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hoping for Laughter

With the release of my debut novel nearing, I've been in the clouds the last couple of weeks. I still can't believe it. Even after receiving my author copies, I am still in shock. I knew the cover was beautiful, but actually being able to see it in person and hold it in my hands makes it even more awesome.

And here is the obligatory photo of my books with posing kitty, which is an event in itself. Have you ever tried to get a cat to pose?


I was planning on writing a long, inspiring post about hope. However, I am the last person who should do that. I'm way too irreverent--and at times devilishly wicked. But there's one thing that I've discovered in my thirty-something years. Laughter, itself, inspires hope. Even in times of sadness, a little laughter can help lighten the mood. I think that's why my books tend to spring into the off-the-wall and wacky. I want to inspire people with humor. After all, laughter is the best medicine.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Have to Blog about Which Book???



It's nearly time for the release of HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF, and all that gorgeous wolf and Highland combination that makes a body want to visit a castle in Scotland and stay there!



But even though this is the current book to release, what am I thinking about??? Jaguars!!! Or, jaguar shifters. It's hard when writing the current work in progress, to remember what I wrote nearly four books ago!!!

So when readers ask me how do I keep track of all my characters? I don't. :)

And that's the truth. But I love to reread the stories to get a feel of the characters again anyway, so it's fine with me that way. I don't make lists or anything. I used to years ago--a To Do List, and was so wrapped up in it, I had to just give it up.

So, being the pantser that I am, I just reread. If ONLY the books came in audio books. Yes! Then I could listen to a Highlander's burr all night long. Who really needs sleep? And then I'd recall all the details of the story I had forgotten after writing 4 more books.

A book ago, I was writing about another Highlander, the youngest quadruplet's brother from HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF, and he's in paradise. Well, kind of. And before that, I was writing about Navy SEALS and wolves to catch up on what happened to Hunter and his sister from TO TEMPT THE WOLF in THE SEAL IN WOLF CLOTHING. And before this, Jake was getting himself into a whole lot of trouble with a woman. Women troubles seem to be par for the course for alpha males, by the way. He's the middle brother from DESTINY OF THE WOLF, in the upcoming December release, DREAMING OF THE WOLF.

And to think that this handsome devil of a wolf is one of the triplets. Yes, that makes three hunks that look this good.



Which brings me to the book I should be talking about: HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF.

I've got to write 20 other guest blogs about the book and so, you'd think by now I'd have my mind wrapped around THIS story again.

Nope. With trying to get a weekly word count in on Heart of the Jaguar, the current work in progress is always the freshest in mind, especially while I'm dying in the muggy heat of the Amazon rainforest.

http://joycebastinadopts.webs.com/wildlife/thirsty-jaguar.gif

I take a deep breath, drink another swig of mandarin green tea, and put on my Highland bonnet and gaze at one sexy as sin Highland wolf on the cover of my author copies. It's the most beautiful cover yet and needs to be blown up and framed!

From his intricately embossed sword, to his accurately portrayed blue and green MacNeill kilt, the castle looming in the background, the wolf's eyes overhead like the sun, the book is just gorgeous. And this is the final copy! I love it.



Woohoo, my first review!!!

Heart of the Highland Wolf by Terry Spear



Heart of the Highland Wolf by Terry Spear
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (383 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum
It’s a matter of pride…

Modern day werewolf laird Ian MacNeill reluctantly allows a film production company to use his castle, but he knows his secretive clan has a big problem when a beautiful red werewolf female who insists she’s working on the film keeps showing up in the wrong places… and a matter of pleasure…

Julia Wildthorn is not who she says she is—she’s sneaking into Argent Castle to steal an ancient relic for her grandfather and to do research for her next werewolf romance novel. When she catches a glimpse of Ian, she realizes he’s the perfect hero…

What if a Highland warrior of old could fight with swords just like they used to but in modern times and women could ogle all they wanted?

Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself. Those kilted action heroes do their thing in this story and it was exciting and full of daring do, and I got a kick out of how Ms. Spear wrote it with such passion and intensity. It’s what lead up to those well written and high powered few chapters that made it all worthwhile.

Julia is the heroine and she’s delightful. In fact I had a ton of fun reading her point of view, mostly because she’s a romance writer. What made it so fun? Ms. Spear had the heroine experiencing a scene, a place or dialogue and she’d zone out into writer land and start plotting in her head. I never knew when she’d do it or where she’d take it but it never failed to get me to smile or chuckle. Julia is unusual for a wolf and she has a few secrets. I adored that fact that the author had the heroine, when the time was right; communicating when things needed to be said to the person it needed to be said to. The author refused to fall into that old tired out ploy and rut of angst filled suspicions and mistrust. Sure some was there, it had to be but it was in a natural amount that I could accept and believe in. It wasn’t the sole focus of the story or the conflict and I really appreciated that. I like Julia’s sense of adventure, her stubbornness and her enthusiasm for all things Ian.

Ian is the hero and, wow, did Ms. Spear create a man to drool over. He shoulders a lot of responsibility yet is fair and hard working. He also was like a laser, zeroed in on Julia and his pursuit was delicious and quite swoon inspiring. When she wasn’t’ driving him nuts, that is. Ms. Spear did a wonderful job of describing Ian in all his emotional states, from anger to lust, from wariness to ardent alpha – there was nothing about Ian that I didn’t enjoy. And when growl came to bite, Ian was everything a woman needs in a man and more. Plus, a reader gets to enjoy some rollicking good descriptions of Highlanders and their kilted plaids. That pulled giggles from me as well as a few wishful sighs.

What I didn’t expect was the helpful cold in the tunnel. That was a really cool addition. Not to mention the fact that Ian and clan have been around for a long time and that presented some rather fascinating discussions and dialogue for readers to enjoy and ponder. And I have to wonder about his cousin. Can someone like Flynn ever have a happily ever after? Only readers will know why that is such a challenge. But if a man is judged by his actions it makes me wonder if Ms. Spear might have something up her sleeve for his character sometime in the future. Sure, Ian’s brothers all rocked and were developed enough to get me curious about how’d they’d fair in future books. Ms. Spear seems to be good at hooking future readers with the personalities and quirks of her characters and I couldn’t be happier.

The secondary characters sure helped give the environment solid ground for the hero and heroine to work with. Maria is Julia’s best friend and she’s a hot ticket. I wonder who is going to ruffle her fur in the future. I like Ian’s other family members although I really wished I could have met Julia’s. I was sort of hoping that her family would have actually met Ian’s at some point but I guess it wasn’t relevant to the story line. Everyone who showed up had a role to play in the tale and the writing was awesome.

Heart of the Highland Wolf embraces the best of what romance has to offer with characters that jump off the pages and into a reader’s heart. The writing is crisp, fast paced with dialogue that brings to life the personalities and quirks of its main players. There is humor, drama and a bit of a mystery to spice up the reading experience. When Ian and Julia finally consummate their relationship it’s spirited, enthusiastic and though very spicy, also incredibly romantic, just what a reader expects from the talented Ms. Spear.

I absolutely recommend Heart of the Highland Wolf to new and old fans of Ms. Spear. The author has once again delivered a high powered romance that satisfies on every level. It entertained me and made the hours fly. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time; except maybe to find my own personal Ian.



So who all's ready for some hunky Highland loving? Or, any kind of loving???

Have a great Saturday! I'm off to find me some pirates at the Renn Faire today!!! Maybe find me a wolfish pirate or two while I'm at it!

Terry
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male."
www.terryspear.com