Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Celebrating Hot Olympic Athletes! (by Catherine Mann)

I was always picked last for teams in gym class. And honestly, I can’t blame my classmates. I am woefully uncoordinated. I daydream and walk into walls, stumble off curbs. I’ve learned to shrug and dust myself off.

However, while I’m comfortable in my clumsy skin, I do enjoy seeing others excel in sports. The Olympic Games in London are playing on my flat screen TV as I type, providing plenty of inspiration for our July theme of all things HOT!

With that in mind, I’m celebrating a few especially hot Olympic athletes!

Nick Symmonds (Runner)

Ryan Lochte (Swimmer)

Jordan Burroughs (Wrestler)

And for you historical fans....

Soren Thompson (Fencer)

Whew! (Fanning myself!) Let the games begin!!

What’s your favorite Olympic sport in the summer or winter games? One winner will be chosen at random from the comments on Monday, August 6, 2012. Winner will receive a copy of my books UNDER FIRE (Sourcebooks) and AN INCONVENIENT AFFAIR (Harlequin Desire.)

USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann writes military romantic suspense for Sourcebooks and Berkley, as well as steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. A RITA Award winner, she lives in Florida with her military flyboy husband, their children and their ever growing menagerie of pets. FMI:
Website: http://catherinemann.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CatherineMannAuthor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/CatherineMann1

Monday, July 30, 2012


I’m sharing some sultry excerpt teasers from the RELICS OF MERLIN series for our ‘hot’ theme on the Casablanca blog this month! The series takes place in a magical Victorian London, where titles are based on magical ability, and shape-shifters are lowly baronets with an immunity to magic that the upper aristocracy fears, and a gift for hunting Merlin’s enchanted relics. Although the books stand alone, I’m showing them in the order they were written. I’m starting with ENCHANTING THE LADY, which Sourcebooks will be re-releasing next month with a fabulous new cover:

   His full lips curved in a smile, the tips of his incisors showing at the corners. His eyes roamed her face, as if suddenly freed of some restraint. “You laugh at my jokes,” he whispered. “You defend my kind to your aunt and uncle’s friends. When my temper flares, you soothe it with a look. When I’m sunk in gloomy thoughts, you tease me until they fade. How can I resist you? How much longer can I fight the impulses of my lion-self?”
   His mouth drew closer to her own. Heaven help her, but her lips ached to be touched by his. “Why must you fight it?”
   “Don’t you know what would happen if I gave in? Shall I give you a glimpse, Felicity? Just a taste of what would happen if I allowed myself to make love to you?”
   Felicity only knew for certain that she wanted him to kiss her the way he had in her dreams. That she wanted his hands on her, making her body feel all of those frightening, exhilarating things.
   Her reply flew from her lips like a sigh. “Oh, yes.”

An excerpt from DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, re-releasing in 2013 with another fabulous new cover. My hero is a were-stallion, and my heroine bumbled a spell and created a twin of herself who has no sense of propriety whatsoever, and gets her into all sorts of delicious trouble.

   Sterling’s resolved crumbled.  He guided her to the bed and hastily removed the rest of his clothes.   
   Jaz lay there and watched him with ferocious intensity. She licked her lips when he stood naked before her, not a hint of shyness in her face.
   Sanity returned to him for a moment.  What did he think he was doing?  A gentleman didn’t tumble with an aristocrat’s daughter without paying the consequences...
   “Take off my clothes,” she demanded, her voice so husky it made him moan.  “The same way you took off yours.”
   Damn him if he would disobey that order.

The third book in the series, ENCHANTING THE BEAST, features a were-wolf, Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, who lives in a haunted castle, and Philomena Radcliff, the spinster ghost-hunter who releases more than just a few spirits.

   “Phil,” he rumbled.
   “Where did you learn the things you did to me?”
   “What things?”
   Nico felt surprised that his wolf hadn’t risen in response to his frustration. And then he realized he hadn’t felt the nature of his beast since she’d… “The things with your fingers and lips and tongue.”
   He felt her shrug. “Oh. That.”
   “Yes, that.”
   She spread her fingers through the hair on his chest, exploring the contours of his muscles. “It’s my house in London, you see. It used to be a brothel.”
   Nico groaned. “And I suppose it’s haunted?”
   “Yes.” Her fingers swirled the fine hair around his nipples. “In the past few years, a certain ghost named Fanny has appeared quite regularly.”

 I wrote a brand new fourth book in the series, EVERLASTING ENCHANTMENT, about a knight trapped in a relic for centuries, and the were-panther who must find her heart in order to release him. Scheduled for release in 2013, this excerpt is from the unedited manuscript still in production.

   He had wanted this woman before. Now it became a burning desire. “There’s freedom in loving too, my lady. Won’t you allow me to show you?”
   She froze and the air became charged between them. Gareth leaned forward to face her, moving slowly, not wanting to frighten either the lady or her beast. But there was no fear in her eyes when he locked gazes with her. Just confusion, and doubt.
   “It’s true,” he assured her, leaning closer, his lips but a breath away from her own. “Freedom…and joy.” He tilted his head and pressed his mouth against hers. She tasted salty sweet and unlike any other woman he had known before. Her lips felt warm and soft—but completely still, as if she feared to move.
   Gareth pulled slightly away from her, studying the sweep of her brow, the cat-shape of her eyes, the golden depths within. “Breathe, my lady.”

I hope you enjoyed these glimpses into my magical worlds of passion and wonder! Do you have a favorite hot teaser you would like to share? It’s already over 110 degrees here in Arizona…might as well turn up the heat!

My Magical Best,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hot, Hot, HOT?

I'm leaving California today after having a terrific time at RWA Nationals. I got to see several old friends and make a few new ones, in addition to learning all kinds of new things that should improve my writing. I'm already looking forward to next year in Atlanta, where I'm sure it'll be a lot hotter there than it was in Anaheim!

I'd always thought the weather in southern California would really be hot, but it's been mostly in the 70's, and after the 100+ temps back home in Indiana, it feels downright chilly here. I can't wait to see my family, but I can do without the heat. A little rain would be a nice touch, too!

One thing that has come out of this conference is that there will be another book in the Cat Star Chronicles series after Wildcat. This one is currently titled Rascal, but you know how that titling process goes. No telling what it'll be called by the time it's released in February 2014. I'm hoping it'll be the best book yet, and it will certainly heat up the chilly winter days for my readers. After all, there's nothing quite as hot as a Zetithian hunk!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

When You Give a Girl a Hot Duke

by Shana Galen

I write about dukes and spies and pirates during the Regency era. The word “hot” as used in terms of sexiness wasn’t in use in my period.But that doesn’t mean I don’t think about what it takes to make my classic heroes hot to modern readers.

Obligatory ab photo

In my upcoming book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond, the Duke of Pelham is not one of my typical hot heroes. He’s not a spy or a pirate or any profession associated with hotness. He’s a duke. He has a lot of responsibilities. He takes them seriously.

Perhaps a bit too seriously.

But I hope that by the end of the book, you’ll see that even a stodgy duke can have some pretty hot qualities.

For starters, he has really nice eyes. They’re blue, and my heroine absolutely cannot look at him without admiring his eyes.

He also has a nice house, and he takes care of it. When I was in college, nothing turned me off faster than a cute guy who had a disgusting apartment or dorm room. Dude, clean the toilet once a year! Yuck!

Lastly, he’s a protector. Yep. There it is. This is the essential hotness requirement in my book. I want a hero who is going to protect my heroine no matter what. Will, the Duke of Pelham, is that kind of guy. He certainly does not want anything to do with Juliette, but she’s also in trouble, and he can’t allow anything to happen to her either.

Do any of my duke’s qualities rank high with you on the hotness scale?

Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm Getting Older! Yikes!

While many of my writer friends are busy networking and buzzing to and from workshops, book signings, and banquets at RWA National in Anaheim, I'm at home having my own celebration.

You see, today is my birthday. I turn [age redacted] years old. Like I'd really tell you all my real age. :) Then again, I've been twenty-nine for let's just say quite a few years. I know the theme this month is heat, but I figured that if I actually put the correct amount of candles on my birthday cake, it'll more than likely get pretty darned hot in here.

In a way, it's kind of cool to celebrate a birthday on the opening day of the Olympics. Even if those Olympics are taking place in London--a place I've dreamt of visiting all my life. Oh well, I'll get that chance some day, I'm sure. Until then, I can live vicariously through the coverage on the telly--Wow! I already have the lingo down.

 Hey, maybe if I blow out all the candles on the cake, I can wish myself there. Then again, my cake more than likely will look like the one pictured above. Better check that fire extinguisher!

So have any of your birthday wishes come true?  One lucky commenter will win a copy of both Demons Like It Hot, Demons Prefer Blondes, and Wings of Desire (a fantasy erotic romance written as Arianna Skye).


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hot weather? Escape with hot writing

I was asked why, with my background as a psychiatric nurse, I decided to write light paranormal romances instead of something grittier, like murder mysteries…

Well, the easy answer is—because writers like to escape as much as readers do. I worked in the psychiatric field for fifteen years. When I left, I was jaded and burned out. It took a while to get back to my old self, but I finally did. Sure, I have stories to tell, but I don’t want to. Simple as that.

I might violate the confidentiality aspect too. I heard intimate secrets that would make your skin crawl…and I was told those things because my patients knew they could trust me. Sure, they might never read one of my books, but can you imagine doing so and recognizing your story? Patients want to forget about grim reality too—especially theirs!

However, all that experience contributed to my writing in one important way. With a degree in behavioral sciences (a psychology-sociology combo) and having observed people for most of my life, I “just know” how my characters are going to behave.

Writing paranormal characters can be a challenge, because you have to put yourself in someone else’s paws, never mind shoes! Or you need to think like a vampire who’s technically dead, only comes out at night, and needs blood to survive. And ghosts! You don’t realize how much writers require body language and facial expressions to communicate until you can’t use it. But, I like a challenge.    

And I love a good laugh—more than anything. I think this world needs more laughter and love. I’m fortunate. I have a wonderful marriage. MR. Amazing makes me laugh regularly, challenges me intellectually, and still—even after eighteen years of marriage (twenty-two years of togetherness) turns me on. Who wouldn’t want that?

Sometimes I think of my writing as a public service. Seriously. I’ve worked hard to hone my craft and put a smile on your face. Since reading works for me when I need a lift, I imagine it works for others.

When both of my parents were terminally ill at the same time, the stress showed. A friend and fellow nurse shoved a book in my hands and said, “Here. Read this.” She didn’t tell me anything about it, and I didn’t recognize it as a romance novel from the cover. It’s a good thing or I might not have read it.

The book was the first in Diana Gabeldon’s Outlander time travel series. I ate it up. While they slept, I was transported to another world. I forgot my sorrows for a time and experienced a mini mental vacation. A desperately needed, healthy escape. 

When I turned to writing I realized that for me, it was more than a job. It was a privilege.
And it still is. I’m grateful to have an audience with whom I can share my creative outlet.
I hope my series Strange Neighbors and the spin-off Flirting with Fangs (coming Spring 2013) transports readers into my wild imagination and allows them to have some fun there—whether they need it or not.      

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Jungle is Heating up with Jaguars! by Terry Spear

First, you have that predatory look. It's time for some action-packed loving--the jungle's hot, but it gets hotter when the jaguars arrive.

A Jaguar at Edinburgh Zoo.  Hmm, maybe there are Highland jaguar shifters in Scotland!

All that golden skin, lovely black rosettes, whiskers that sense even the slightest movement in the air current, and he's watching you sitting up in that tree, intending to join you soon. So be ready. He wants some kitty-cat comfort.

And you're ready.

So here's the first of the jaguar men. He's looking for you. Protective and caring.
Savage Hunger

 Hot and yummy.

Yet comfortable in either of his forms.

And here's the next one, who's just as intrigued with you.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for combining wolves and jaguars on a book mark for conference! They're beautiful! They look so nice with my watermelon red crepe myrtles in full bloom in the Texas heat! You don't have to go to the jungle to get hot here! :)

You see what Sourcebooks did, didn't you? The jaguars were outnumbered. A SEAL and a Highlander wedged the jaguar in between. But then the jaguar appeared from the jungle to keep the wolves in line.

Hmm, I wonder if I should write: Fifty Shades of Gray Wolf next???

Heart of the Wolf--in the beginning there were wolves. And then...there were hot wolves.

 Now it's time for a fairy tale adventure!

The fairy is in front of an oil painting of one of the Greek islands we visited on a short cruise after seeing Athens.

When you take a trip, do you ever feel you're in a fairy tale world? The room gets cleaned and you didn't have to do anything to make it happen?

You get to eat out and not do the dishes?

You get to see places that you normally can't see around home?

Do you make the most of your trips no matter what happens on them?

One couple told my family that they considered a trip an adventure. You never knew what might happen!

When I went to New Orleans and shared a room with Bonnie, we had so much fun. One of the highlights of the trip was the vampire/ghost tour, but also, as she reminded me before conference--the bouncing truck.

Will I see one in Anaheim? I doubt it. Which means I'll have to see something else so that I can share with her. Last time I was in Anaheim, years ago, a man was panhandling doctors at their conference. And some of the doctors were giving him money, because he was dressed nicely and had run out of money for gas on his way home. Only he was there the next day, panhandling again, because hey, it's a lucrative business. Doctors. Lots of money. Some with not enough sense to know they were paying into a scam.

Chalk it up to an adventure!

It is like a fairy tale time. Every trip. Because every trip takes you out of your comfort zone. It takes you to a new world that you don't live in every day.

A couple were talking about another who had taken a cruise. Everyone was like, "Wow, how was it?" It's a dream for many--the idea of taking a cruise.

They hated it. They hated everything about it.

Did they get deathly ill? (I did on a cruise. We had violent storms so bad and one of the stabilizers went out on the ship, and they had to detour way out of our way because the seas were so rough--but I still had loads of fun!)

Did either of them die? (Several do on a trip every cruise, according to ship's staff. They bet on it. Where do they store the bodies? Amongst the flowers and ice sculptures. :) )

Did they get burned to a crisp? (I did snorkeling once. I always wear a T-shirt now, but I still had a blast!)

What was wrong? Everything. People were drinking in the lounges. Raise eyebrows here. A woman was wearing something really provocative who was helping the magic man. Uhm, yeah, so that eyes would be on her instead of the man using slight of hand. And the list goes on.

Take a trip. Take an adventure. Even if not everything works out (I could make several blogs on this alone), make the most of it and have fun.

Have a super day and if it heats up too much for you, think of hanging out with a jaguar shifter and just how hot that can really get!

Happy hump day eve!

Terry Spear
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Baby, It's Hot Outside

by Olivia Cunning

I've been in my new home in Galveston for almost three weeks now. Here's what I've learned so far:

1. Driving down Seawall Boulevard on the weekend is life-threatening. Have you ever seen someone do a U-turn across three lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, so they could parallel park on the opposite side of a four-lane road? I have. More than once.

2. Half of the state of Texas congregates in Galveston Walmart at ten a.m. on Saturday mornings. Not fun. I guess I didn't need ice cream that badly. Lesson learned.

3. It's hot outside, baby. For the entire month, it's been a consistent 90 degrees with 80 percent humidity. It doesn't even cool down at night. There is some relief when it rains, but within half an hour it's back to 90 and then all that rain evaporates and we end up with 90 percent humidity. I don't mind heat. Really, I don't. Humidity doesn't bother me much, either. Yes, my hair currently looks like it had a love child with a poodle, but I'll take a lifetime of bad-hair days over shoveling snow. That humidity does make it miserable when you have to do more than lounge around. I call it "insta-sweat". Go get the mail--insta-sweat. Carry in the groceries--insta-sweat. Walk the dog--insta-sweat and insta-pant for the dog. Chase the cat off the neighbor's balcony--insta-sweat.

Thus far my plans to sit on the beach and write each and every weekend have been thwarted. I'm still trying to figure out where to put all my stuff and trying to get my life back in order. I drive past the beach, which is half a block from my apartment, while running errands. I see other people enjoying the beach. Other people lounging and swimming and having a great time. Next weekend I have more errands to run, so again I'll miss out on the beach. I know eventually things will settle down and I'll get to enjoy my new environment, but right now, everything is in chaos and I'm the type of person who can't take a break when I have a mile-long to-do list hanging over my head.

I had planned to write a post this month with pictures of my new desk which looks over the French doors that open to my balcony. They didn't deliver my new desk on Friday as planned, so instead that space is filled with a stack of boxes I can't unpack until the desk arrives. Doesn't make for nice pictures. I'd also planned to take pictures of my patio furniture on my balcony, where I'll eventually spend time writing in the evenings beneath the shade of a gorgeous palm tree, surrounded by all the pretty flowers in my flower boxes. It got dark outside before I finished assembling the furniture and planting the flowers. I also planned to take pictures of my favorite office space on the beach--in my beach chair with my feet in the surf, writing by hand in a notebook. Yeah, that didn't happen. I'd actually have to go to the beach to take that picture.

So since I can't share my hot new offices, I'll share my hot new book cover.

Double Time will be released this November. And its contents are even hotter than Galveston in July. It's a good thing I like heat. The boys of the rock band Sinners sure know how to turn it up to sweltering.

Are you having a hot summer? I hope it's more relaxing than mine has been. What have you done to unwind?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

What's Hot and What's Not

by Amanda Forester

I am so excited to be going next week to the Romance Writers of America annual conference in Anaheim, CA.  In my excitement to have access to a pool, I decided to take a chance and purchase a bathing suit. Now I have kids, so shopping alone is not always possible. So I ended up trying on bathing suits with two kids "helping" me pick the right suit.

Let's just say if I suffered from false pride, I have been cured. Here's a sample of some of the ever so tactful statements uttered by my loving cherubs.

         "Ewww, is it supposed to look like that?"
         "I see your tummy sticking out."
         "Too much tushy, mommy, too much tushy!"
         "You don't look like the picture on the tag."        
          "Don't you want us to tell you the truth?"

Um, no, I really don't want the truth. So if you need to be grounded (translate: humbled, humiliated, mortified), let me recommend taking my children with you shopping.  I did return with a suit, something with as much fabric as possible and a skirt down to my knees!

Now that we've covered what's NOT hot, let me talk about what is - the RWA annual conference!  One thing I am looking forward to is the 2012 "Readers for Life" Literacy Autographing.  This is a huge, I mean HUGE book signing event with hundreds of romance authors (myself included!).  Proceeds are donated to ProLiteracy Worldwide and local literacy organizations, so you can meet your favorite author, buy some great books, and fight illiteracy all in one event - awesome!

Here are the details:
  • Wednesday, July 25, 2012; 5–8 p.m.
  • Convention Center, Ballroom (third floor)
  • Anaheim, CA 
This event is free to the public so I hope to see everyone there!

So as I get ready for my trip (and recover from the psychological trauma of bathing suit shopping with my now fired personal assistants), let me know your itinerary for this summer.  What are your hot summer plans?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So Hot It Sizzles…

By Robin Kaye

Heat—Lord knows we’ve had enough of it in Maryland lately. When I found out the topic for the month was heat, I wasn’t thrilled. I really not a person who like temperatures to rise above seventy-five degrees unless there’s fifteen percent humidity, and if you’ve ever been to Maryland, you’d know that it’s not known for low humidity. It’s been well over a hundred here for several days and I’ve had just about all the heat I can stand.

Then I thought about my characters and how they feel about heat. Now that’s an entirely different story. They love the heat—and no, I’m not talking about the weather. Heat is the one ingredient that every romance must have. Yes, even the Amish ones. There has to be that attraction, that spark, that threat of internal combustion for two characters to even want to get to know more about each other.

So how do we put that on the page? I haven’t a clue. I just start writing and it happens. Honest.

I know, that’s not helpful. So I went back to look at the first meeting of my hero and heroines in each book, what I found was surprising. In Romeo, Romeo, Nick meets Rosalie on the side of the expressway while she’s kicking her flat tire. He thinks she’s a lunatic, cute but crazy.

Sexual chemistry, in my books at least, comes from a definite mutual attraction and emotion the two spark in each other that wouldn’t happen with anyone else—more likely than not is anger.

In Romeo, Romeo it was more exasperation. Nick accuses Rosalie’s boyfriend of being an idiot for not satisfying her, not being there when she needs him, and allowing someone else to ride to her rescue and come on to her. She can’t believe his nerve—who the hell did he think he was, Dr. Phil? Then he asks her why she puts up with it. She explains it’s to keep her family off her case. Nick keeps pushing all the right buttons. His sexy grin, along with his scarily accurate description of her relationship has her explaining things to him she’d never tell a stranger—like her thoughts on marriage.

In Too Hot to Handle, the first time Mike and Annabelle meet it’s at her sister’s wedding, and she almost passes out because he looks exactly like her deceased fiancé. He comes to the rescue, she drinks way too much and wakes up next to Mike wondering if ghosts have sex. Annabelle’s mortified that she slept with a total stranger who could pass as her dead finance’s double except for a bump on his nose, the color of his eyes, and the size of a certain appendage. Again, there’s strong emotion that another man would not inspire.

In Breakfast in Bed, Becca catches an intruder taking a shower in her new apartment. She’s standing there holding a baseball bat and waiting for him to emerge before attacking, only to see her best friend’s naked brother—a guy that certainly revs her engines but that she doesn’t like. They fight about whose apartment it is, and there are all sorts of sparks flying. Anger is the emotion that gets Becca and Rich together.

In Call Me Wild, Jessie had gone for a run and Fisher Kincaid just happened to be behind her. She did her best to lose him. Fisher had a hard time keeping up with her—something that had never happened before, and that he certainly wouldn’t cop to. He spent five miles staring at her ass, and then an hour later, they run into each other at Starbucks.

There’s sexual attraction but the two of them each hold a grudging respect for the other. Jessie watches Fisher long enough to think he flirts with every woman in the room, and thinks he’s the type of guy who spends half his time tanning, the other half bleaching his teeth, all the while living in his parent’s basement. As Fisher’s leaving, he literally runs into her and then asks her out. Jessie blows him off and Fisher walks out smiling. That’s when she thinks he’s not only gorgeous and in good shape, but not the sharpest tool in the shed. The two keep running into each other, and she wonders if he’s a stalker, but at the same time, almost looks forward to they’re daily meetings. Again, not a feeling any other man would inspire.

So what does it say about heat? Real sexual chemistry can’t exist without an equally strong emotion, and the hero and heroine have a way of drawing the emotion or reaction out of the other almost immediately. Like a flint to a stone, once they strike, you see flames. If you struck a flint to a bar of soap, nothing would happen.

What else do you think is necessary for sexual chemistry, and how hot do you like it?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Red Hot ARC Giveaway!

Happy Friday, everyone! Macy Beckett here, and if you haven't noticed, our topic this month on the Casa Blog is HEAT.

Oh, the possibilities! I could blog about this:

Who doesn't love MAGIC MIKE? (Source: Ew.com)
Or this:

Macy's toes on vacation!

But I'd rather CRANK UP THE HEAT with a giveaway! I have an ARC of Sultry with a Twist in my hot little hands, and I'm giving it to one lucky commenter.

Win me, baby! 
Welcome to Sultry Springs, where first loves find second chances...

When June Augustine hightailed it out of Sultry Springs, Texas, with her heart in pieces, she swore she'd never return. But nine years later, one thing stands between June and her dream of opening an upscale martini bar: a month of community service under the supervision of the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher, her first love and ex-best friend. As lust turns to love, June must decide where she belongs: in the glorious anonymity of Austin or back in Sultry Springs with the man who intoxicates her like no other.

How can you win? It's easy!

1. Be a follower of this blog. (Click the blue button on the upper left-hand side of this page that says "Join this site.")

2. Leave a comment to this post and include your contact information. (yourname (at) email (dot) com). I promise not to use your email for any purpose other than contacting you if you win.

3. Due to the high cost of international shipping, this giveaway is only open to US residents. 

4. That's it! The contest closes Monday, July 23nd, at 5pm EST. At that time, I'll assign each comment a number and use random.org to choose the winner. If the winner doesn't respond within 48 hours, I'll choose another winner, and so on.

Good luck, and stay cool!

Macy Beckett writes hot & humorous small-town romances set in Sultry Springs, Texas, where first loves find second chances. Her debut novel, SULTRY WITH A TWIST, is available for pre-order and releases October 2nd, followed by two more Sultry Springs novels in 2013. Macy loves to keep in touch with readers on Facebook and Twitter, so stop by and say hello!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How to Make the Most of Pitching at RWA

by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager,
Sourcebooks Casablanca

At the upcoming RWA National Conference in Anaheim, I’ll have the privilege of being among the agents and editors who will be holding sessions to hear book pitches from authors. I’m incredibly excited to talk to authors about their books, so know going in that:

          a) I’m really receptive and excited to hear from you
          b) I don’t expect you to be a great pitcher—I’m hoping you’re a great writer
          c) Being nervous won’t take away from your pitch—I’m going to be listening for your book to meet my editorial criteria, not to see if you can deliver a good pitch to me under intense circumstances

Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of your pitch session:
  • Research the editor, agent and house ahead of time and make sure your book is a good fit. (For example, I acquire single title romance and women’s fiction. I’m interested in all sub-genres and currently have a keen interest in contemporary romance. You can see my specific criteria here If you discover too late that the publisher/agent doesn’t publish/represent the kind of book you’ve written, acknowledge that, and ask to practice your pitch and for them to make suggestions or referrals. Don’t NOT show up, because that editor or agent might be able to refer you to the perfect person.
  • Know what subgenre your book is and tell the editor/agent right away. Be very clear about where your book would sit in the bookstore and how it fits into the category—be clear about the subgenre or mix of subgenres (Regency paranormal romance, Scottish Highland time travel romance, etc.). I’ve seen pitches get derailed because I can’t tell whether the book is a mystery (which we don't publish) or romantic suspense (which we do), or whether it's sci-fi/fantasy (which we don't publish) or fantasy romance (which we do).
  • Present a strong hook. The hook is a 2-3 sentence selling tool that positions your book as something unique and desirable and will get a buyer excited about stocking your book and a reader excited to read it. Think of it as your ‘elevator moment’.
  • A quick and concise introduction to the hero and heroine and major conflicts. Don’t aim for a plot summary, but please do hit the high points of the hero/heroine/story arc so I know that it’s a love story.
  • Are you a published author already? If you are previously published, I am going to ask you about your sales history (how many books published, and how many sold to readers, and when was the last one?) What do you see as your career arc? If you’re changing subgenres, let’s talk about it.
  • Be enrolling! Your passion about your own book is the most enrolling thing. And, your passion for working with Sourcebooks shows that you know who we are, what we do, and you’re eager to be part of our team. That’s music to our ears!
  • Try not to push back. I’m trying to help you, no matter what. Think of me as Simon Cowell, except I’m never deliberately mean. Simon gives the best coaching. If you try to explain away my comments or push back immediately, it will appear that you’re not coachable and not interested. I don’t believe that I know everything, but I’ll share with you everything I know.
I’m looking forward to talking to you about your book!

I’m looking for:
  • Single title romance: paranormal, contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, erotic romance
  • 90,000 words
  • A heroine the reader can relate to
  • A hero she can fall in love with
  • A world gets created
  • A hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
  • The author has a career arc—if the first book works in the marketplace, what are we giving readers next and next and next…

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fifty Shades of Surprised

I’ve said this on more than one occasion. I’m often the last one to jump on the hottest new thing. Call me skeptical, but just because something is hot doesn’t mean I’m going to rush headlong into buying it. Apparently all those warnings about not jumping off a bridge just because everyone else is doing it stuck. Thanks, Mom!

Nevertheless, not long ago I caved in and started reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” for two reasons. One, I listened to a podcast on Slate discussing the book, and it piqued my interest. The conversation was an intelligent critique of the story and romance in general. Plus, the podcast made me laugh. Secondly, my husband bought the book for me, so I started reading it.

I know this book is a hot button topic for many authors, so I don’t want to start a discussion about fan fiction, quality of writing, etc. All I’ll say about it is writing is tough and books don’t write themselves. We each do the best we can at different stages in our development. Any work that encourages people to read and opens them up to trying a new genre benefits us all. I’ve had more opportunity to discuss my books with people who never read romance until they picked up “Fifty Shades”, and I’m grateful for that. I was also very excited to have “Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half” suggested to fans of "Fifty Shades of Grey" as a romance that "serves up love like we like it" by B&N. Click here to view the B&N blog

What I would like to discuss is how I went into the experience only halfway open minded and I was pleasantly surprised. From the beginning, I found this book compelling. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what hooked me in those first few pages. I’ve been asking myself this question over and over again. I felt neutral about the heroine. I thought the hero was scary stalker-like and the repeated reference to his long, long fingers and messy hair made me picture Edward Scissorhands.

The dialog made me chuckle. What twenty-seven year old man uses phrases like “beyond the pale” and “press his suit”? Oh, that’s right! MY twenty-seven year old, eighteenth century Regency gentlemen. And granted, I’m out of touch with the twenty something crowd, but even when I was in my twenties, no one used the word smitten. That’s something a grandma would say and her grandchild would roll her eyes—uh, I mean politely listen and “hold her counsel”.

But these are minor things in the grand scheme of the work. They didn’t turn me off and apparently they don’t bother tons of other readers either, which just goes to show perfect writing does not mean a book will speak to readers. So what is it about “Fifty Shades”? For me the answer is I can identify with Ana Steele, especially as the story progressed.

A long time ago I was twenty-one, naïvely hopeful, and eager to find love. I was also very curious, and Christian is a mystery to solve. I felt Ana’s awkwardness and I was embarrassed with her. I wondered if Christian Grey would have taken me in, too. He has moments when he’s playful and tender, which makes it seem like he has the capacity to love. Yet, he also clearly has severe intimacy issues. Watching Ana enter into a relationship with Christian was like watching a speeding train race for a brick wall. I wanted to shout, “No! Trust your instincts. He really is a control freak!”

Ana lacked confidence, but Ms. James showed us flashes of her defiance and in the end, she is much stronger. I believed in her character arc. I know some people don’t like heroines who make ‘stupid mistakes’, but I think it makes a character seem more real. I don’t know how anyone avoids making mistakes in her life. Yes, mistakes are painful, embarrassing, and can make you want to hide under the covers, but they are also opportunities to grow and learn about ourselves.

I’m looking forward to reading the other books, so I guess you can count me in the group of people lined up to jump off the bridge. Sorry, Mom.

When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised by something you didn't expected to like?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Becoming One with the Heat

There's a phrase I read years ago about hiking through a marshland. The author said that you finally just give in and become one with the mud. Heat is like that. I wilt and I melt and I whimper, and then I take a half dozen friends hiking up Breakneck Ridge overlooking the Hudson on a 105-degree day. Okay, I was also much younger and stupider then, but weren't we all. And it was an amazing hike! (And I got a great girlfriend out of it too. )

I often think about that day as I now live in the temperate Pacific NW where going out of doors on those few rare 90-degree days of the year is unimaginable. Of course, on the hottest day so far this year, my wife and I did decide to voyage forth on a 4-mile hill walk through one of Portland's oldest neighborhoods. It was a great hike! Of course any time spent with my wife is. (Yes, there's a reason I'm a guy writing romance.)

Well, this summer I get to double the heat. Book 2 of my Night Stalkers series is launching from Sourcebooks on August 1st, just a measly two weeks away. And I turned the heat way up. Twice as hot? (You'll have to tell me, but I have this whole collision of '2's thing going on in this paragraph, so let's assume so.)

(Is that an amazing pair of covers or what? Thanks SB!)

How do I make a military romantic suspense hot(ter)? I write about the U.S. Army's secret helicopter regiment, the real-life SOAR 160th, the Night Stalkers. They're serving in Afghanistan, engaged in a war that you've never heard of...and never will. But far more importantly, I write about the first women to ever fly for them. And the men they deserve.

Being a guy writer, I find the strong woman to be an endlessly fascinating character. Whether sitting quietly cleaning her rifle on a day that would melt mortals, or setting off on an impossible mission to save us all, I sally forth in an attempt to capture the woman's strength that so amazes me. (My wife astonishes me constantly with her simple, every day strength. Strong enough to think that going hiking on the hottest day of the year is actually fun!)

Of course, the truly great women absolutely deserve a truly great man. (At least that's my theory. See, now I get to be amazing just because of the lady I married. Neat, hunh?) Double the heat and double the fun. (I can't believe I get paid to sit in a corner and have such a good time telling stories.)

Of course, the best part of my day, is when I get to head out the door with my wife and we hold hands as we go off and about exploring somewhere new.

Other than reading romance, what do you do to be come one with the heat?
Is it twice the fun?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Escaping the Heat....

Escaping the heat…..

Isn’t it funny how we always want what we don’t have?  It seems like just yesterday I was shivering and longing for warm weather to come and rescue me from double soaks! Now that it’s here, that summer sunshine, I find myself concocting way to escape to cooler climates.

One of my favorite things to do when it’s hot is go to sea. There is something about being out on the water that cools me off. Okay, maybe it’s just the sight of all those wave caps that does the trick or maybe it’s the sea breeze. I’m not sure it matters.

One of my favorite research materials are logs from people at sea. There is a tranquility out on the water that inspires deep thoughts. The ocean also has a way of reducing a person to their core, stripping away all the things they thought were important and leaving them facing what they really long for. Inside the pages of a seventeenth century sailor’s diary, you’ll find letters to his sweetheart and delicate black and white sketches of marine animals she’s never seen. That same log book will become a grandchild’s favorite bed time story, read to him by his grandfather who he only knows as an old man. The Pilgrims leaving ‘The Old World’ behind for a new life in what would become America wrote down their dreams of freedom and hope. Young men caught in the grip of World War Two scribbled down their deepest feelings and dreams of making it back home to the simple pleasures of life. Today, a hand written letter still brings a lot of joy to a deployed soldier. When there isn’t a power source, those little folded papers light up faces.

In today’s world, we don’t have to wait for a letter anymore but when I go sailing, I discover myself reaching for a pen instead of the lap top. I know, old fashioned of me but there is something about being out on the water that just makes the feeling of a pen…well…right. The wind whips up from the surface of the water and if you’re lucky, a dolphin or two just might make an appearance.

There’s something about those hand written pages that brings the ‘flavor’ of history back. I write a lot of historicals and many times they begin with pen and paper while I’m sitting on the deck of a ship. So who still has some letters tucked away? I know I do. I’d love to hear about some of them and when it’s hot, sitting under a shady tree is a great place to read one of those old letters.


Mary Wine

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Can someone turn up the heat?

While you are all enjoying summer it’s the middle of winter in Oz. Not that Perth gets really cold (I was freezing my butt of at RT in Chicago), but when the temperature drops below 65F we break out the scarves and jackets. I know some of you are now laughing, and I do too as I grew up in Tasmania were anything over 70F was a summer day.

Since the weather isn’t making me feel warm I went looking for some hot heroes.

I’ve just discovered the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearn. It’s urban fantasy and the hero is a two thousand year old tattooed Druid. (If you’ve read ‘Kiss of the Goblin Prince’ you know tattoos and magic are my kind of thing in a fictional hero).

Spartacus: Vengeance DVDs are about to arrive in my mail box any day now (runs out and checks again). I pre-ordered the series as I missed the start of it while I was travelling in the US (for those of you in the US scratching your head and wondering why I’m so far behind we get everything months late in OZ). I love this series: the scheming, the fighting, the very fit guys…I’m feeling warmer already.

DIY hero—he’s the one I have to write myself. New series=new heroes. So. Much. Fun.

Who are your favorite hotties on TV or in fiction?