Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Many Thanks to All! by Anne Elizabeth

I am deeply honored to be a member of this a nation, a place where we willingly share and provide gratitude. This month we celebrated Thanksgiving and I must admit that it is one of my favorite holidays.  The unique spirit that is heralded throughout these United States as we stop our ordinary daily tasks to gather together and express our heartfelt messages of joy.  The time of sharing gratitude may be long or short, but together – as one people – we embrace this basic principle with our family, friends, community, and even more wonderfully strangers.  In my heart, this essence of kindness and morality is a precious time and worth relating to the military path for it makes me think of those who sacrifice for this nation.  Thus, when I talked to my husband about this month’s blog, my favorite retired Navy SEAL suggested I share the U.S. Navy SEAL Ethos.  This is an ethical belief, too, born out of courage, dedication, and a singular spirit — in the same way, we as a nation celebrate a cultural or spiritual oneness.

Here is the ethos, taken directly from the Naval Special Warfare Command Public Website (http://www.public.navy.mil/nsw/pages/EthosCreed.aspx):

In times of war or uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call. A common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country, the American people, and protect their way of life. I am that man.

My Trident is a symbol of honor and heritage. Bestowed upon me by the heroes that have gone before, it embodies the trust of those I have sworn to protect. By wearing the Trident I accept the responsibility of my chosen profession and way of life. It is a privilege that I must earn every day.
 

My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own.

I serve with honor on and off the battlefield. The ability to control my emotions and my actions, regardless of circumstance, sets me apart from other men. Uncompromising integrity is my standard. My character and honor are steadfast. My word is my bond.

We expect to lead and be led. In the absence of orders I will take charge, lead my teammates and accomplish the mission. I lead by example in all situations.

I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.

We demand discipline. We expect innovation. The lives of my teammates and the success of our mission depend on me - my technical skill, tactical proficiency, and attention to detail. My training is never complete.

We train for war and fight to win. I stand ready to bring the full spectrum of combat power to bear in order to achieve my mission and the goals established by my country. The execution of my duties will be swift and violent when required yet guided by the very principles that I serve to defend.

Brave men have fought and died building the proud tradition and feared reputation that I am bound to uphold. In the worst of conditions, the legacy of my teammates steadies my resolve and silently guides my every deed. I will not fail.”
 

Every time I read these words, a lump of emotion forms in my throat.  The faces of men who have passed from this earth surface in my mind, those who are fighting today, and those that will fight in the future. I have to force myself not to let the tears fall.  It is such an extraordinary role to be a warrior.  I am in awe of our servicemen and women!  Their sacrifice is great and I hope they feel the love and respect we hold for them.  HOOYAH!  To ALL OF YOU!  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!  As we continue to celebrate the spirit of Thanksgiving, may these rare individuals know how tremendously they are thought of, thanked, and appreciated.

What are you grateful for, or what do you think of the Navy SEAL Ethos?  What would your own personal creed be about?  Mine would begin with the following words:  I bring the best of myself to...

Monday, November 28, 2011

I’m Thankful for Cover Artists

Who said goblins can't be hot!
I will never forget the first time I had to fill out a cover art form. I was both excited and terrified—what if I got it wrong somehow?

Like every author I had dreamed of that moment when I first saw my name on a cover, and I wanted that cover to be awesome, one that made the reader pick up the book. Because covers are the first thing the reader sees it has to be eye catching and convey a sense of the book. A cover has a lot of work to do.

But I had (and still have) no idea what makes a good cover, all I know is, I know what I like when I see it. Even after seven novellas and a couple of novels I still struggle when it comes to cover art descriptions.
I love this one :)

So this is heartfelt thank you to all the cover artists who have seen my notes and have come up with something that captures the book and is beautiful/hot/intriguing/enticing and awesome!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful for Laughter, of Course!

I'm thankful for a lot of things, so it was really hard to narrow it down to just one. This week was full of ups and downs. One thing that helps us is the ability to laugh. There's just something about laughter that helps sooth our souls. Whether you're watching a Mel Brooks Film (Spaceballs is still my favorite) or reading the Sunday comics, those giggles just work their magic. This got my curiosity piqued, so I decided to do a little research. Why exactly is laughter the best medicine? I mean really? Are there really health benefits to laughter?

And the answer is YES! There are tons of physical, as well as mental, benefits to laughter. Some of the physical include cardiovascular, blood sugar, pain relief and even immunity. It improves your mood and can help relieve stress and anxiety. The main reason is that laughter helps release endorphins, neurotransmitters that when released act as an analgesic which can help lower pain and increase someone's feeling of well being. Endorphins occure naturally in the body and are usually stimulated by physical exercise, excitement, being in love, and even eating spicy food. Did I mention they're non-addictive, yet some have been proven to be up to 500 times more powerful than any man-made opiate. Wow.

So the next time someone asks you why you're laughing, just tell them you're laughing at your health. Heck, laughter is free and Xanax requires a prescription.

PS: I am not a doctor, merely reporting information I've discovered in my quest to defend laughter.

To help spread the laughter, health and love, I'll give away one shiny new copy of Demons Like it Hot (My December release), along with Demons Prefer Blondes. Please leave your email in the comments so you can claim your prize.

Also, Demons Like It Hot is up for Book of the Week at Long and Short Reviews. Voting ends today, so feel free to cast your vote!

Cheers!
Sid

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Minor Joys

from Mia Marlowe...

Update: Thanks to everyone who left a comment or question. I love hearing from you. My random winner is Betty Hamilton! If you didn't win, don't despair. I hope you'll pop over to my website for a chance to win a whole box of books just in time for Christmas!

It's easy to list off the big things for which we're thankful. It requires a little more thought to recognize the small joys of our daily lives. We have to pay attention. We have to be intentional about noticing that glow of warmth that steals over us.

When I was a child, I had a little book of verse called The Cheerful Cherub by Rebecca McCann. I love this collection of optimistic rhymes and many of the ones I committed to memory as a girl are with me still. Here's one that really describes what I'm talking about today:



One minor joy I have in fall
Almost too small to speak about--
It's after rain to step on leaves
And see the water spurting out.


Now that's a very small joy. But acknowledging those little things that give us pleasure fosters a spirit of gratitude that'll make every day brighter. Trust me. It really works.

Think for a moment about the things that make you smile--the way a mug of coffee warms your hands on a chilly day, the feel of worn denim on your legs, the laughter of a child...
Be thankful for those little things, whatever they may be. Each one is a treasure that is yours alone.

So what are your minor joys?
_____________________________

Leave a comment or question for Mia and you'll be entered in a random drawing for one of her new eNovellas.

A Duke for All Seasons
or
My Lady Below Stairs

For more about Mia and her books, find her on Facebook, Twitter and MiaMarlowe.com.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Big Three That Keeps Every Writer Going, by Tracey Devlyn


Like the other Casababes, I’m going to share areas of my life that bring me happiness, surround me in comfort, and keep me hopeful.

HAPPINESS

My husband. I’ve mentioned before on this blog about my supportive and loving hubby. He listens to my fears with patience and encouragement and celebrates my accomplishments with love and homemade spaghetti sauce.
My hero

My stepdaughter. For being the daughter of my heart and for always asking me how my day went. Without her, there would be no Mother’s Day for me.

My rescue Doberman. Without fail, he enthusiastically greets me at the door every day when I come home from work. His wagging nubbin’ and silly antics make the day’s difficulties fade away.

COMFORT

My home. After many years of dreaming and planning, my husband and I have finally created a little oasis in the suburbs of Chicago. Hubby got his koi pond and I got my fireplace. Now, if we could move it all to a spot near the Gulf, life would be perfect-o!

Someone is having fun!
My job. I know, I know. I bellyache about working a full-time job while writing on deadline. But who could blame me? That’s at least 50 hours—every week—spent away from writing! Sigh. I’ll stop now, because I shouldn’t complain. My job is great. I work with wonderful people and I don’t have a boss breathing down my neck every ten minutes. Through my day job, I have great benefits and a good salary that gives us a bit of discretionary money every year to do something fun. Yeah, I can’t complain, but 50 HOURS a week!

HOPE

My writing. It’s a nice segue from my day job into my writing. Because darn it, I hope to be successful enough one day to write full-time, to build a career around my craft. To live the dream.

How about you? What’s your dream?

Hugs,
Tracey

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter. Starting in January, I’ll be giving away fabulous prizes every month in anticipation of my debut April release A LADY’S REVENGE! Exclusive content for my newsletter pals. :)

Connect with Me!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'm thankful for...memories!

I love Thanksgiving.

There's not the hassle of presents or too much worry (in our part of the country) about the weather. There's food and family and friends and it's a loud noisy zoo and when it's over I'm ready for a nice padded cell but I love it. Thus, it's officially my holiday and the door is open. That means our kids, their in-laws and their friends are all invited, along with anyone else who doesn't have a family.


Tomorrow is the big day! I'm in the kitchen making pecan pies (for both my daughters), pumpkin pies (for my middle grandson), lemon pies (for Husband) and pumpkin cheesecakes (for both my sons-in-law and one granddaughter). And hot yeast bread from Husband's grandmother's recipe for the whole bunch of them. We'll probably say grace with thirty or more people holding hands in a circle and then it's feasting the rest of the day.

And sometime in the middle of the afternoon we'll sing happy birthday to our middle child, Amy, who was born on Thanksgiving morning, which was November 25 that year! I wanted a daughter with pretty blue eyes and that's exactly what I got and she was nice enough to arrive before the hospital served Thanksgiving dinner so I didn't miss that. There's only been one Thanksgiving that she wasn't home in her whole life. Believe me we have made some wonderful memories in the past forty years.


I'm thankful for family, friends, health, fans, time to write and the list goes on to be longer than Santa's of naughty and nice children. But today I'm most thankful for memories. When the days are tough and there are some really big speed bumps in this journey of life, it's those wonderful memories that keep me from sitting in dark places. So I'm glad for them.


I'm thankful for the memory of my grandmother. She was my anchor in a tough world. She lived right next door to us and I stayed with her at night because she was blind and needed someone to lead her to church, across the yard to the neighbors or down town to visit with her old Aunties. Helen Keller said "The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be touched with the heart." That was my Granny. She taught me to close my eyes and see a person for who they really were and not judge by appearances. A kind heart and a gentle spirit doesn't have to be housed in a temple of gold. It can survive in a grass hut. And she made the most amazing jello salad and bean salad for Thanksgiving. It tasted wonderful but you had to shut your eyes because it sure was not a pretty sight.


I'm thankful for memories of Momma. She was a single mother at a time when society did not accept that as well as it does now. I could go play with all the little girls in my classroom but they couldn't come to my house. I thought d-i-v-o-r-c-e meant we had cooties in our house for a long time! Granny gave me roots. Momma gave me strong wings and courage to fly. I've never known a more fearless woman. If she faced off with the devil, he'd have run whimpering back to hell's back forty. And she always, always made a banana nut layer cake for Thanksgiving. It had to age for at least three days and it was beautiful. We counted the days!


I'm thankful for the few memories I have of my Granny and Grandpa Gray. I never went to their house on Thanksgiving but when we did Granny would head for the kitchen and start cooking. It didn't matter if we had eaten ten minutes before she was determined to cook for us. And since I got to go to the kitchen with her, she entertained me with the most amazing stories. When Lemar, my son was two, I remember Grandpa showing him how to hold the fiddle and pull the bow across it and saying with a gleam in his eyes, "He's going to be a fiddle player for sure. Look how he takes to the instrument."


I'm thankful for all the memories my wonderful sister and I've made through the years. We both have affadavits signed in blood in our bank vaults stating that what we know about the other one will go to the grave with us. There was that Thanksgiving when Momma made her sit between both the boys she'd invited to dinner. Oops! One of them wasn't supposed to show up!


For memories that Husband and I've made through forty five years of marriage (you do understand that I was a baby when we married, right?). We started out on our very rocky pathway too young to know straight up from backwards on a sunny day, but we've survived and become best friends.

For memories I've made with all you Casa-Authors and for all the good times we've had. For being there to support me when I've whined and cheer with me when wonderful things happened.


Now it's time to get back to the kitchen. My granddaughters are here to help with the preliminary work and we're going to make some more memories. I heard someone say we should have banana layer cake...sorry guys, it's too late for this Thanksgiving. Maybe Christmas since Momma said it had to sit at least three days to be fit to eat. For anyone who'd like the recipe it's on my website!





HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!


If you have time to take a break tell me what your favorite Thanksgiving memory is!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Thankful For Our Faithful Dog, Chickens, and Deadlines by C.H. Admirand


I’m so thankful our dog wakes me up between midnight and one o’clock every morning—if she didn’t I wouldn’t have a blog written for today—which reminds me of chickens! Whenever I get distracted halfway through a thought, our oldest just looks at me, smiles and says,  “There goes another chicken.” I guess you’d have to have met my fabulously supportive and wonderful family to understand them. I’d be lost without them…even if I have to put up with a lot of good-natured ribbing.

I’m thankful for deadlines, opportunities, and a fabulous editor, Deb Werksman. This has been a whirlwind year for me. I’ve been given the opportunity to write for an editor who understands where I am coming from, but more, has taught me to dig even deeper to write stories that a year ago would not have been possible. I loved every minute I spent in Pleasure, Texas with the Garahan brothers: TYLER, DYLAN and JESSE. With Deb’s guidance, I have reached another milestone in my career: Receiving 4 ½ Stars from RT Book Reviews for DYLAN, the second book in my Secret Life of Cowboys trilogy. Pinch me!



I’m so thankful for the readers and reviewers that I have connected with over the years, I’d be lost without you. Sourcebooks has opened other doors for me, allowing me to meet new readers and reviewers. Kimberly Rocha is one of those readers. Kim invited me to visit with her Book Obsessed Chicks Book Club out in Long Island. I had a wonderful time chatting with the diverse group of ladies who are all my heroines—they love to read romance! Here is a picture with these totally FAB ladies and one of Kim and I by the awesome cowboy boot cupcake Katie Whelean baked!


Because the darling man I married recently gave me a precious gift—the opportunity to write full time—I don’t have to worry about taking time off from my day job anymore and was able to attend Lora Leigh’s RAW and meet readers face-to-face in an informal atmosphere. Lora Leigh is an amazing author who gives back to readers with a wonderful event designed with the reader in mind. Without readers where would we be?  Those of you who know me know I’m a huge race fan—when Lora Leigh announced that our names would be on the side of the dirt track car she sponsors—I was in heaven! Even though the driver, Transton Stoner, and I did not agree on who would win The Chase…we agreed on who should NOT win The Chase! BTW, his favorite NASCAR driver did win! Here’s a picture of the car and our names.



It’s also been a whirlwind year on a personal level as well—our daughter and her husband became parents—I’m a now a Romance-Writing Grandma! At every opportunity I have been bragging about our handsome grandbaby to whoever will listen and wait for me to find the latest picture of him on my phone. Isn’t he just precious?

OK…it’s three o'clock now and my brain just shut off. Time to go to bed and recharge so I can get up in a few hours and get back to Purity, Ohio and the first book in my new Small Town USA trilogy: A WEDDING IN PURITY –Meg and Daniel are well on their way toward their HEA—on schedule so that I will be meeting my deadline! I don’t have the cover yet, but here are two images I found a few months ago that remind me of small towns and made me smile…Enjoy!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Gratitude List & Giveaway, by Sara Humphreys

I'm thankful for many things and I try to be mindful of it every day. Sometimes, when life throws me a curve ball or I'm having a crappy day, it can be challenging to remember that. So I decided to write up a list (in no particular order) that I could refer to in case I decide to have a momentary pity-party. A list that would shout at me... Stop feeling sorry for yourself, quit your bitching and get back to business.

Good Health--I'm over 40 and everything still works the way it should...so far. I may have more wrinkles on my face but I've earned each laugh line and loved every minute of it. Bring it on. I don't mind getting older since it's more appealing than the alternative.





Girlfriends--They are directly repsonsible for a signficant portion of my laugh lines and I love them for it. Nothing cures the ills better than a long convo with a true girlfriend, a bottle of shiraz and lots of laughs.

Our Home: It's a crooked little house on a crooked little street but it's all ours. It leaks in various places and as soon as we fix one thing, something else breaks. However, nothing beats the cozy feeling of snuggling up on the couch with my family after a long hard day.



The Farkels: My parents, siblings and I refer to our goofy family as The Farkels. I'm not sure exactly where the nickname came from but it suits us well. The older I get, the more I see how blessed I am to have them in my life. My parents created a safe, loving, stable home for us growing up and that has translated to a safe haven for us as adults as well. I just hope I can provide the same thing for my boys throughout their childhood and into adulthood.



My Husband: He knows me better than I care to admit. He drives me crazier than anyone on the planet and still has the hots for me after twenty years. He's simply the best.

My Four Sons: They are wild, loving, protective, devoted, creative, smart and fiercely loyal boys. They make me laugh, scratch my head in confusion, or cry in frustration from time to time but more often than not I'm beaming with pride. I can't wait to see what fantastic husbands and fathers they evolve into.


Being Published: I still pinch myself sometimes because I can't quite believe that it really happened. The Amoveo Legend series is off to a nice start. Unleashed came out in October and so far it's been well received. Untouched and Undone will be released in 2012, followed by the last two books in the series in 2013. As if that's not enough to be grateful for, I've got a second series on the way. I'm so excited! Sourcebooks just contracted me for a 5 book urban fantasy series! Dead in the City is about a coven of vampires who live and work in NYC. It's kind of like Sex in the City with vampire chicks but there'll be more murder and mayhem as opposed to cosmos and shoes. Olivia Hollingsworth, the head of the coven, will be making an appearance in Undone (#4 Amoveo Legend) so the two series will dovetail. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months.





To celebrate all that I'm thankful for, I'm giving away a signed copy of Unleashed today on the blog. Just leave a comment and tell me what you're most thankful for.

Dream on....

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm thankful that WHAT A GODDESS WANTS is on sale now!

If you haven't yet read WHAT A GODDESS WANTS, the first book in the Forgotten Goddesses series, you might want to think about getting it now. 

WHAT A GODDESS WANTS, the story of Tessa, the Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn, and Caligo, the hot Cimmerian warrior who loves her, is on sale at Amazon for $3.28 and at B&N for $3.99 right now.

IN HIS ARMS, HER MAGIC POWERS ARE ON THE RISE...

Tessa, Etruscan Goddess of the Dawn, is losing her powers and now there's an Underworld god determined to run her down. She needs a hero and fast, because only sexual energy can give her power. So she seeks out Caligo, whose sexual prowess is legendary...
AND SHE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN BRING HIM INTO THE LIGHT...
Caligo is a fabled Cimmerian warrior determined to stay away from spoiled goddesses who trample hearts after they've had their fun. But there's something irresistibly hot and inviting about Tessa and he knows he's her only change to escape the encroaching darkness...

Be sure to return Dec. 6 when I'll be giving away two copies of HOW TO WORSHIP A GODDESS, the second book in the series. 

You can preorder at B&N and Amazon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gratitude by Tamara Hogan

Thanksgiving is, of course, the time of year where the concept of thankfulness is visibly front and center. Here is where I must admit that, by personality and profession, I'm a problem-solver, more immediately attuned to recognizing and then correcting exceptions, deviations and negatives.

Sometimes I need a reminder to break out of problem-solving mode, and consciously acknowledge the things I'm thankful for. Thanksgiving gives me that reminder.

In no particular order:

Good health:  For those of us living with chronic illness, the concept of good health is a relative, sometimes day to day, thing, but all things considered, 2011 was a pretty great year health-wise. My metric? I barely met my insurance deductible!

Modern medicine:  Every time I grumble about how many sticks it takes for me to have blood taken, I try to remember that had I been born even a decade earlier than I was, I likely would have died during my teen years. I'm thankful for butterfly syringes, with their small needles!

Employment:  In this economic climate, I feel so fortunate to have a job that challenges me, and a regular paycheck when so many capable people don't.  

Family and Friends: They may not always understand me, but they always have my back.


Democracy:  I feel so fortunate to have been born to parents who live in a democratic society, where, within the scope of the laws of the land, I can say anything, do anything, be anything. As someone who lives life outside some the prevailing cultural norms, this is not a thing I take lightly.

Last but not least...

Creativity:  Four years ago, writing the first halting words of my debut, Taste Me, in a spiral notebook, with a pen in one hand and Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict in the other, I never would have dreamed that I'd publish one book, much less be copy editing a second and drafting a third. Thank you to everyone at Sourcebooks who helped make my dream a reality! 

Chronic illness has provided me with some unexpected gifts. Is there anything in your life you're thankful for that people may find surprising or difficult to understand?  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful For...Puppy Breath! (By Catherine Mann)

My youngest son says that puppy breath is the most special, innocent scent in the world – and the one scent that cannot be replicated. I completely agree. In this month of Thanksgiving, I’m so grateful that I have the privilege of puppy breath in my life! (Photo: Banjo)



For those of you who don’t know, I’m active in animal rescue. I foster puppies and special needs dogs for my local Humane Society (PAWS http://www.paws-shelter.com/index.html ) and also just started my first term on their board of directors. Currently, I have three bulldog mix puppies. (Photo: Finn/tan puppy and Buster/black & white pup)



Puppies cannot be legally adopted out in Florida until they are at least 8 weeks old, but a shelter environment can be particularly dangerous with their immature immune systems. That’s where fostering kicks in. While in my care, the puppies will have had two rounds of puppy vaccinations - provided by the shelter vet clinic. And lots of socialization - provided by my family! (Photo: Me with Buster)



All three of my current fosters are ready to be adopted into their forever homes. The awesome staff at PAWS will be handling the adoption process.

Their sister was adopted last week! Soon, they will all have loving homes of their own as well. (Photo: Roxy, on her way to her new home!)



So this November, I’m treasuring up my last days with the remaining three foster pups, grateful for these precious little faces and their puppy breath. They remind me of my favorite quote: "Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies." ~Mother Teresa

***
What are some of the everyday or little things in life that you’re thankful for? One commenter will be chosen at random to receive a copy of my December book HOT ZONE!
****


Wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving! I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to celebrate the December launch of my next “Elite Force” novel - HOT ZONE! FMI on HOT ZONE and my other books check my website: http://catherinemann.com and if you haven’t already signed up for my newsletter, you can do so with the link at the bottom of any page on my website. I have a packed 2012, with 7 books coming out! And believe me, I’m VERY thankful for that!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Feast of Gratitude

By Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor

A little shout-out of gratitude to my romance folks who makes doing a job I love even more awesome:

Macy Beckett – I fall into your books and it’s a like a big welcome home (and I’m not even from Texas!). Can’t wait for more from Sultry Springs!

Isabel Cooper – The most amazing hook ever: Terminator meets My Fair Lady. And next up, Victorian X-Men. You take everything I love and make it wonderfully new and fresh.

Christy English – Talk about sparks a-flyin’! And yet you have the historical detail down to a T. In How to Tame a Willful Wife, Shakespeare never looked so good.

Jayne Fresina – from Aubrey: Your books are the total package: funny and sweet, witty and sexy. I want to go to a ball with Sophie and Ellie, sneak away for a little spiked punch and hit on the hot footmen.

Leigh Greenwood – A gentleman of the highest sense. No wonder everyone adores your heroes!

Shona Husk – Your imagination enthralls me, and the number of people you’ve convinced that goblins can be sexy is awesome. Even though we know romance is going to end with a happily-ever-after, you write some of the best.

Mia Marlowe & Connie Mason – Every book is a treat of wit and rollicking adventure. And I love that they also help me answer questions on Jeopardy!

Bec McMaster – I can’t wait for this whole adventure and to hear readers start to squee when they fall in love with Blade, master of the rookeries, just as much as I did. You are fascinating.

Elisabeth Naughton – The guys are hot, the world is amazing. I could read 8 books in a row and still be reaching for the next one…especially Nick. Besides, some people just know…

Pam Sherwood – I would waltz with your dashing stranger any day. So excited to be with you right from the start on this really exciting journey.

Tes St. Hilaire – A little True Blood, a little Batman and then mix that with angels and pulse-pounding action and romance. What’s not to love?

Amanda Usen – Your words are just as delicious as your food. Thanks for the treats, the fun, and for always being up for more. ;-)

Julie Ann Walker – Talk about explosive high-energy! I’d love to live in your head for a little bit and hang out with Black Knights Inc.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Deadline Thanks

I'm in buckle-down deadline mode for ENSLAVED, the fifth book in my Eternal Guardians series, so instead of a rambling post about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday (which I can't even think about yet) I'm going to share my I'm So Freakin' Thankful For These Things During Deadline Days list with you:

1. My husband. During deadline crunch time he turns into Mr. Mom on crack. He does all the cooking, all the cleaning, all the laundry (doesn't even shrink my clothes) all the kid-duty AND he kicks me out of the house to get away and write. Of course he's number-obsessed..."How many words did you get done today?"...and doesn't quite understand that a book isn't necessarily done at 100K words, but I'm willing to cut him some slack. (So long as he keeps making me breakfast.)

2. Wine. Lots of it. Nothing knocks me out and makes me sleep better after a full day of writing than a bottle, er...GLASS of wine. (Yeah, glass. That's what I said.)

3. My CP. Who interrupts me in the middle of writing a love scene to IM random things like:
This is why I can't fill out a simple questionnaire at work: Under "length of experience" I want to write: 'At least nine inches.' And under "hobbies": 'Is this an R or X rated audience?'

4. Bacon lube! Okay, seriously, I have ZERO experience with this, but someone tweeted it last night after I got done writing and I'm now seriously obsessed. I must know more about this product. Very thankful for things like this that take my mind off what the heck is happening next in the manuscript. And come on, you can't look at those flashing images and NOT laugh your butt off.

5. Twitter. Because in addition to the above amazing things you can learn on Twitter, you can also discover bits of wisdom like this:
@TheFakeCNN: SEX NEWS: There are 3 sizes of condoms: Small, Medium, and Damn Liar.
and...
Eating equal amounts of dark chocolate & white chocolate is a balanced diet; they counteract each other to equal 0 calories. #chocolate

6. Wine. Did I mention wine already? I particularly like reds. Pinot noir is especially nice.

7. School. Gets the gremlins out of my hair. I just wish the school day lasted longer. Like until 9 PM or so would be perfect.

8. Quick grab-on-the-go meals. Like cottage cheese, Hershey kisses and diet coke. Of course you have to chase that combo with a bottle of Pepto, but, hey, Pepto helps with the stress.

9. The Alcohol Fairy. Think she's a myth? I'm here to tell you she's not! She left vodka and whiskey on my porch the other morning. (Oh yes, I'm very thankful...someone knows me well.)

And finally, the last thing I'm faithful for during this particular deadline:

10. Breaking Benjamin. Particularly:


Which I have listened to a gazillion times to get into my hero's head. So thankful for awesome music.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program while I slink back into my deadline cave...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

THANK YOU, DEAR READER by Kathryne Kennedy

This is the month where we all count our blessings, and although I have many things to be grateful for, I would like to pay homage to those at the top of my list: my readers. I have the best in the world. They reach out to me in so many ways, and make writing a much more rewarding experience for me. There's something special about romance readers in general. They are an incredibly loyal group of people, dedicated to particular stories and authors. So I put together a list of characteristics that I've observed over my years of writing that they seem to share as a group:

You know you’re an avid romance reader if…

Walking into a room covered in flowers and candles makes you weak in your knees.

You have sex more often with your partner (I can’t recall the percentage, but it’s been documented that women who read romances have more encounters than those who don’t.)

The sight of the New Romance Releases shelf in the bookstore makes your heart pitter-patter.

Your library card is frayed about the edges, worn in the middle, and frequently needs to be replaced.

You have a tender heart (you wouldn’t be reading romances otherwise).

You start to write your own books. (There can never be too many.)

You start a blog where you share your love of romance books, because you are too excited to keep your thoughts on the books you’ve read only limited to just close family and friends.

You recoil at the phrase, ‘bodice-rippers’, because romances have evolved so beyond that archaic term, that whoever uses it obviously hasn’t read any.

Even if you haven’t read all the classics yet, you recognize the names: Austen, Heyer, Bronte…and you’re itching to add to this list.

Moonlight is for stolen kisses, a quiet pond is for a boat for two, a rainstorm is for taking shelter in a gazebo, a tree-lined path is for walking hand-in-hand, satin sheets are for…well you know.

You love animals. Not sure why this is a general trait…I think it has something to do with the tender heart.

You firmly believe that without love, life isn’t worth living.

Chocolate is high on your list of favorite foods.

As long as they have a good heart, you remain fond of men, even when they are behaving badly.

You are kind to authors, and other romance readers, because you know that they share your passion.


Of course, the only reason I could put this list together is because I’m an avid romance reader myself. It takes one to know one. :} If you would like to add to my list, please feel free to share!

Wishing my Fellow Romance Readers all of my Best! And a very big thank you to all my special readers!

Kathryne

PS. I reward my readers with contests on my website...be sure to check out my new one for THE LORD OF ILLUSION, where you can win a 1.32 carat citrine pendant: http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/contest.html

Monday, November 14, 2011

Changing times

by Cheryl Brooks
Wow! Can you believe it's already November 14th???? Thanksgiving is only ten days away. My turkey is in the freezer, and I've already bought stuffing mix. All I have left to get are the crescent rolls, the ingredients for my traditional cheesy potato casserole, and the pumpkin pie. I baked a pumpkin this year, so I'll have lots and lots of pumpkin to make pumpkin bread with. I'm going to have to wait until after Thanksgiving to bake it though, because I have to work Sunday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights that week. That's one of the downsides to working in a hospital. Someone always has to work the holiday.

Which brings me to a bittersweet decision I made recently. Last year, our hospital was purchased by a large healthcare corporation that led us to believe conditions would improve and that the hospital would grow. However, to our collective dismay, we have found that rather than growing, our hospital is now shrinking. About the only good thing to come of it is that we now stock full-size boxes of Kleenex for our patients instead of the tiny little boxes of sandpaper we used to supply. Staffing has been cut to the point of being unsafe, patient numbers are dwindling, and many services are now outsourced. They're also talking about cutting the ICU to two beds and shipping the more critical patients to their larger facilities, which makes my 35 years of ICU experience superfluous. We're getting put on call so often that full time nurses, many of whom are the sole support of their families, aren't getting a full paycheck. 

However, with a writing career in the wings, a husband who earns more than I do, virtually no debt, and a son who is almost finished with college and another son who actually has a job, I feel that it's time for me to make a change. Therefore, I'm cutting back to four nights a month starting the first week in December. This will enable my coworkers to be more assured of their hours and give me more time to write. I'm hoping to self-publish more books and possibly sell a few to Siren in addition to the books I have published with Sourcebooks.

Like most decisions in our lives, this one was made for me, or rather, conditions have changed to the point that this is simply the best option for all. I would quit entirely if it weren't for the fact that I'd be leaving behind friends that are more like family than mere coworkers. We've been through so much together--marriages, divorces, grandchildren, vacations, life, death, and sickness--I'm just not ready to cut the ties completely. 

The support and encouragement of the truly wonderful people in the Indiana chapter of RWA has also helped me to make this decision. Judie Aitken, a long-time chapter member emailed me not long after Slave was published and invited me to join the chapter, a gesture for which I will be eternally grateful. My critique partner Sandy James, also a member, has helped my writing in so many ways I simply can't thank her enough. Critiquing her work and the work of others in the chapter has been a tremendous learning experience, as well as being a judge in our chapter's Indiana Golden Opportunity writing contest.

I attended our IRWA writer's retreat this past weekend, and, as always, I learned a great deal and had a wonderful time on top of that. Each year, I'm thankful for good health, a loving family, and good friends. But I'm also thankful for all of the wonderful people I've met since I embarked on a career as a romance writer. Family and friends can be very supportive, but fellow authors are the ones who truly understand what it means to be a part of this business. We share our joys and our sorrows and are stronger for it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I’m So Thankful by Shana Galen

There are so many things I’m thankful for this time of year—my family, my friends, good health, toddlers who sleep through the night, and much, much more.

When I think about my life as a writer, I’m glad to be writing for Sourcebooks, glad to be writing stories I love, glad to be working with a great editor, publicist, marketing people, and the Casababes.

But right now I am exceedingly grateful for the new title and cover of my February book, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. Here it is! What do you think?



This book has been through several covers and three or four titles (I lost count), but I think we’ve finally found the perfect one. And even though it’s not related to Lord and Lady Spy, I love how the two covers complement one another.



You know what else I’m thankful for? Fabulous author friends who donate books for me to giveaway on my Facebook page. Every week I give away copies of awesome books, and when I reach 2000 LIKES, I’m giving away Julie Quinn’s complete signed backlist! I feel like this is one way I can give back to all my readers who have supported me for so long.

The one thing I am not thankful for is ebook piracy. It seems I spend increasing amounts of time sending take down notices to people illegally selling my ebooks.




Is there anything you are not thankful for this Season?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Thankful for our veteran's love stories

Some of the best love stories involve military backdrops. My own family of origin wouldn't exist without the military. My brother and sister-in-law met in the Navy. My mom and dad met in the Army, and their love story could come straight from the pages of...Playboy? LOL. Yes. It's one of THOSE stories. So, let's go straight to that one. (grin)

My mom was a remarkable woman. I want to give you some of her backstory first. She was raised Quaker on a farm with 11 brothers and sisters. As you probably know, Quakers don't join the Army. Because passivity is part of their core belief system, they're considered conscientious objectors. So, how on earth was my mother in line on the first day women were allowed to enlist in the military? Simple answer, World War II. Complicated answer...or maybe it's simple too, she was a rebel from the get go. Apparently her family was so used to her defying convention, they just threw their hands up and said, "Oh well...that's Nellie." She was in love with flying and got her pilot's license even before the war. I know...nuts for a woman at that time, right? Well, she was a regular Amelia. As soon as she graduated from high school, she got a job in "the big city," Muncie Indiana, to support her dream of flying. So she had a valuable skill when the Army needed it. Unfortunately, she only had a high school diploma, so she was trained to be a cook. Hiding inside that farm girl was a brilliant mind as well as an adventurous spirit. Fortunately, her mess sergeant recognized her wasted talent and recommended her for OCS.

Now...I'm getting to the love story. My dad was an officer in the Army. He went to a military college and graduated 6 months early when the war broke out on Dec. 7th 1941. He had his own path that landed him at Ft. Reilly Kansas, but it was a little more predicable. Kind of...he was stationed in Texas, and because he was in the cavalry, it wasn't unusual to go for a ride in one's free time. Unfortunately, he saddled up the wrong horse. Unbeknownst to him (a rule follower) he rode the general's horse that day.
The man was so furious, he transferred my dad to Kansas. Turns out it was a lucky break...not just because that's where he met my mother, but also because his whole group from Texas was sent overseas and every last man was killed. Isn't it interesting to ponder how one change can result in many ripples? Anyway, back to our story...

Now, from the way they described it, the single officers' barracks sounded like my dormitory in nursing school. Two floors with men on the first and women on the second. A lot more men and many less women, for sure.

My mother, a lieutenant now, was just returning from a short leave, and in typical rebel fashion, she was smuggling a couple bottles of booze in for friends who'd asked for the favor. My dad, a captain by that time, caught her as she was about to go upstairs and asked to see what was in the bag. He said he wouldn't turn her in if she'd come into his room and share it with him. And there the romance began. Sweet, huh? LOL

I guess that's where I get my love for quirky romance. My characters are almost never completely "normal." Even in my contemporary romances (which are few and far between) my characters are far from typical. I think the more unusual they are, the more interesting they are. That's why I was a little frustrated with the heroine in my wip. She was too "normal." Instead of calling her Brandee, in my head, I was calling her Blandee. Anyway, I finally came up with a couple great quirks and now I love her.

How about you? Do you like quirky characters? Or do you prefer more typical girl-next-door types?

Friday, November 11, 2011

FORTUNE'S SON BOOK LAUNCH


FORTUNE'S SON BOOK LAUNCH PARTY!!

Love is the ultimate gamble…

Seasoned gambler Philip Drake knows every trick and uses most of them. After years of infamy, he’s ready to accept the mantle of respectability with his earldom— until a devastating racing loss and the threat of debtors’ prison force Philip right back into his gaming ways…

Susannah, Lady Messingham, is a woman with a past who refuses to belong to any man again. But Philip’s skill catches her eye and she persuades him to teach her how to win at the tables. Their new partnership turns into an exhilarating high-stakes game that entangles them in terrifying risk and unimaginable rewards…

Immerse yourself in the risky side of Georgian England with a pair of lovers who aren’t afraid to risk it all on a toss of the dice...


~

When I began writing FORTUNE’S SON,  I was obsessed with capturing the tone and excitement of the Georgian gaming world.  Second only to creating an intense chemistry between Philip and Lady Susannah, my greatest desire was to completely immerse the reader in their world.

                                   What would it look like?
                                   Sound like?
                                   Feel like? 

You cannot even imagine how I shook when I read my first review:
 “Lee brings the atmosphere of the Georgian era to life with lush descriptions that beg the reader to see, hear, feel and touch it all....with a lively cast of characters and surprising twists and turns that are reminiscent of Fielding’s Tom Jones or Defoe’s Moll Flanders."  -RT Book Reviews


Now, I bid you all welcome to the Georgian gaming world of FORTUNE’S SON:
~
The Rose of Normandy Tavern, Marylebone Pleasure Gardens, 1739

“Seven’s the main!” the young gentleman called out in a voice pitched with anticipation. The vibrantly hued flock of velvet-clad gentlemen and silk-draped ladies surrounding the table watched with rapt eyes glazed and breath bated as, with a long-practiced flick of a hand, he cast the ivory cubes from the wooden box onto the round, bevel-edged table. The dice clat­tered to a halt, rolling up six and one.

“Damme, nicked again!” The central hazard table resounded with the low curses and shrill cries of dismay from its punters. Others at surrounding tables hovered with solemn concentration over their cards, while the proprietor, Daniel Gogh, surveyed the scene with pride and satisfaction. Surely the  ridotto al fresco to open the new Marylebone Pleasure Gardens would be touted the event of the season. The varied diversions of the evening had included an organ concerto by Mr. Handel, a performance by the noted violinist Knerler, and illuminations at midnight, topped  off with a late supper inside the Rose of Normandy tavern.

Hours later, the gaming rooms still buzzed with activity: the resonating clink of champagne glasses, the echo of gay laughter, and cries of anguish and triumph interspersed with the spinning E-O wheel and rattling of dice boxes.

At one of the tables, a young gent of no more than twenty, with all of the affectations of a town beau, remarked to his equally raffish companion, who had cast the dice, “You’ve the devil’s own luck tonight, Drake.”

“Don’t I though?” his cohort replied with a wolfish grin as he raked in his winnings. “I should advise you, Bosky, that your money would be better placed on the next cast, rather than trying to set me.”

“Will you never drop that infernal sobriquet? Moreover, that’s the third nick in a row! What were the odds of that?” He lowered his voice and added a pointed look. “Might I warn you that I am not the first to wonder about those dice of yours?”

Philip Drake’s sharp eyes narrowed, losing all trace of good humor. “What are you implying, my friend?”

“Simply to take care if you are up to any tricks. You might take particular heed of that burly fellow with the broken nose.” George Selwyn slanted a warning look across the table. “He looks like a bruiser, and none too pleased that you have so singularly defied the odds this evening.”

“Don’t tease yourself further, Bosky. I doubt my good fortune will continue. The odds, as you so succinctly stated, are against it.”

“Nevertheless, I think you’re up to some mischief to which I won’t be a party.”

“I’ve heard that before, but suit yourself.” Philip tossed another five guineas onto the table, doubling his stake. The groom-porter announced the new odds, but as he reached for the dice, a low and husky feminine voice stayed Philip’s hand.

“Might I yet place my stakes, gentlemen?” she asked. “I’d like to wager with the caster. He appears an uncommonly lucky young gentleman.”

“The rules permit you to wager on or against the caster, madam,” answered the groom-porter.

Philip looked sharply up from the dice, meeting a pair of eyes as deep and brilliant as the emeralds she wore. Though much of her face was concealed behind a domino, her mouth was well-formed and as lush as her figure, which was generously displayed by the low-cut gown. The sum effect would cause any but a blind man to stumble.

Philip wasn’t blind, but he was for a moment stunned. Who the devil was she?

***
She had watched him with fascination from across the room. He was a cool one, indeed. While others at the tables cursed and shouted with every cast of the dice or unlucky turn of the card, the only trace of emotion displayed by the young man at the center of the hazard table was a slight upward tilt of his lips as the croupier paid out his winnings. His movements were always deft and self-assured, as if the dice were his to command.

After a time, she nudged Lady Hamilton to ask, “Jane, who is that young gentleman over there at the hazard table?” 

Jane, Lady Hamilton, squinted. “That would be George Selwyn.” 

“No, it’s not George, but his companion, the one pres­ently holding the dice box, whom I inquire after.”

Jane’s eyes narrowed again, raking the young gent appraisingly. He was taller than average and uncom­monly well-proportioned. His complexion was dark and his features strong rather than regular, with a determined set to his jaw and a sensuous mouth, but the intensity of his dark eyes was most arresting.

“Hmm. I know him not, but he cuts quite a dashing figure. I think I now comprehend the nature of your curiosity. Surely a cut above a hot brick to warm a young widow’s bed. But don’t you think him a bit… fresh… for a woman of your years?”

“I’m hardly in my dotage!” the younger woman protested. “Besides, you misapprehend my interest. I only observe his uncommon skill at the tables. It appears he never loses.”“It is purely his skill you admire?” Jane’s indulgent smile bespoke her utter disbelief.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

So Many Things to Be Thankful For + A Giveaway!


By Danielle Jackson

I don’t know about all of you, but I know that once Halloween is over, my mind goes straight into Christmas mode, and I basically forget about Thanksgiving until the night before when I’m up to my elbows in flour and sprinkles for various baked goods. But seriously, how could I overlook a day of good food, family and most importantly, giving thanks for the wonderful things that have happened during the past year. And let me tell you—there have been a lot of things for all of the Casablanca Authors to celebrate!

BESTSELLERS
This year, we had MULITPLE romance and women’s fiction bestsellers on both the New York Times and USA Today lists. What an incredible accomplishment on the part of our authors—I know how hard all of you work, and it is so gratifying to see all of it come to fruition by that lovely bestseller status:

Grace Burrowes: New York Times and USA Today for The Heir and The Soldier
Carolyn Brown: New York Times and USA Today for Love Drunk Cowboy
Anita Clenney: New York Times and USA Today for Awaken the Highland Warrior
Georgette Heyer: New York Times for The Grand Sophy
Susanna Kearsley: New York Times and USA Today for The Winter Sea
Jill Mansell: New York Times and USA Today for Miranda’s Big Mistake and Perfect Timing

RECENT AWARD NOMINATIONS
Around this time of year, a lot of “best of” lists and award nominations are announced—and of course we have many to share, and I know there are many more to come!

Booklist Top 10 Romance of 2011—TWO SOURCEBOOKS CASA AUTHORS!
Kathryne Kennedy: The Lady of the Storm
Elaine Coffman: The Return of Black Douglas

Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year—TWO SOURCEBOOKS AUTHORS in the Romance Category!
Isabel Cooper: No Proper Lady
Heather Lynn Rigaud: Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star

RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Awards—SIX SOURCEBOOKS AUTHORS are nominated!
Jennifer Blake: Career Achievement Award Nominee (a Casablanca Classics Author)
Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes: Historical Romance of the Year
No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper: Seal of Excellence Nominee AND First Historical Romance Nominee
The Landlord’s Black-Eyed Daughter by Mary Ellen Dennis: First Historical Romance
Making Waves by Tawna Fenske: Contemporary Romance Nominee
The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley: Historical/Fantasy-Paranormal

NEW “THINGS”
Between eBooks and self-publishing, the publishing world as we know it is ever-changing, and in the coming months, Sourcebooks Casablanca has some VERY exciting new “things” in the works. Deb and Leah launched our Fall 2012 list last month, and there are some really good books. Additionally, there's something I can’t tell you much about just yet, but there will be an announcement made soon—something we are all VERY excited aboutso get ready!
 
AND… ANOTHER CASABLANCA PUBLICIST!
Many of you know this already, but this Fall, we welcomed my fabulous colleague, Beth Pehlke, to the Casablanca family! She’s been working on our historical and women’s fiction, but as the romance list has grown, we’ve moved her over to romance. I’m so excited to work with Beth, and I know between her and all of us, we’ll make great strides as we continue to grow and develop and thrive. We’ll do a joint post next month, so everyone can get to know her better! In the meantime, you can follow her on our fiction imprint Twitter account: @sbkslandmark.

I know there’s a lot of things to celebrate that aren’t on my list above, so share them in the comments! What’s happened this year that you are thankful for, and want to give a shout out about?

And just for funsies, I’ll giveaway two Casablanca Surprise Packs—one historical and one paranormal, both with a bunch of books by Casa authors. Because if there’s one thing we should all be thankful for, it’s books!! US and Canada only, and leave an email address so I can contact you. I’ll announce winners in the comments on Monday.