Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Romance is in the air...

Today is the day that romance is in the air. Nope, it's not Valentine's Day! That was earlier this month. It's LEAP YEAR so there's an extra day in the month of February and that is today.

Now to us modern gals, that don't mean a whole lot but to Sadie Hawkins it was her lifeline to a husband. Folk lore has it that she was "the homeliest gal in the hills" and grew almighty tired of waiting for the fellows to come a courtin'. I can just imagine how she must've felt with gals like Daisy Mae in competition. Hekzebiah Hawkins, her father and a prominent resident of Dogpatch, didn't want to see his baby girl unhappy plus there was the fact that he sure didn't want her to be living at home forever. So in the 1930's he declared a Sadie Hawkin's Day. It involved a footrace in which the unmarried gals pursued the town's bachelors, with matrimony the consequence.

Back in my grandmother's younger days, leap year and spring fever joined forces. The two of them together took a lot of self-proclaimed bachelors right up to the altar to face the preacher. Leap year was more important than Christmas or Valentine's Day back then and it did not slip past the general public so easily as it does now.

It was the year of reckoning. The only day on the calendar when it was considered socially acceptable for a girl to propose to a boy. Any good old boy who'd been lackadaisical about proposing, or the ones who just flat out didn't have any intention of ever saying "I do", dreaded leap year. For months they practiced racing up hills, down hills, dodging gopher holes on flat land, and clothes lines in back yards so they could outrun any long-legged girl who set her sights on him. I really think that's how the Olympics got their start.

The girls, whether skinny or slightly on the plus side, loved it. It was the big day that they'd worked toward for four long years. They'd worked out faithfully until they could run the mile in two minutes, jump hurdles in long skirts, corsets and some even in wedding dresses, without breaking a sweat. Their guerilla training included ambushing a mean grizzly bear and leading him to the altar before he even knew he was captured. I'm wondering if that's where the new wave of Boot Camp came from.

Preachers loved February 29. They made more money that day marrying folks than they could collect all week during a tent revival in July during a heat wave.

If those men had been truly wise, they would have run five steps, pretended to fall and gotten caught right there at the beginning. Then they wouldn't have had to worry about remembering to buy an anniversary present but once every four years.

In reality, it is claimed that leap year actually started in 1288 by Queen Margaret of Scotland, who required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to money to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. (Now that, ladies, is a sure fire way to spruce up the spring wardrobe.)

In Denmark, the tradition is that women may propose on the bissextile leap day, Feb. 24, and that refusal must be compensated with 12 pairs of gloves. (I'm wondering if those can be gardening gloves?)

In Finland, if a man refuses, he must buy the woman the fabric for a skirt. (I bet the men over there were real happy to see mini-skirts take over the world!)

In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. (Wonder if that is grounds for divorce?)

I don't know that Sadie ever caught a husband and Hekzebiah might still be listenin' to her whine about not having one. But by the late 30's the event had swept the nation and had a life of its own. Life magazine reported over 200 colleges holding Sadie Hawkins Day events in 1939. It became a woman empowering rite at high schools and college campuses, long before the modern feminist movement gained prominence.

So whether we write contemporary, historical, paranormal, romantic suspense, regency or any other romance genre, we owe some of our heroines' sassy spunk to the women who went before us...those who took matters into their own hands and took care of business.

Anyone out there have a Feb. 29 anniversary? Did you have to chase down your husband? I've got an ARC of One Hot Cowboy Wedding (release date, April 3) to give away today to one lucky person who leaves a comment... USA and Canada only, please. Will draw a name out of the Stetson this evening and post it tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fall in Love with JESSE & Giveaway by C.H. Admirand

I fall in love with all of the heroes I write about and Jesse Garahan is no exception. To celebrate the month of love, I will be giving away and ARC of JESSE to one lucky winner, picked at random, tonight. But first, let me tell you a little bit about why I write about good-looking Irishmen.
February is almost over and the most changeable of months is almost upon us...March...a month that is forever tied with my Celtic ancestors. But to tell you the truth, I celebrate my Irish pride 365 days of the year. One of my writing quirks is that I love to include bits and pieces of my ancestors and Celtic ancestry in all of my books and the Secret Life of Cowboys trilogy does just that!

I love writing about family and when Tyler Garahan first started talking to me, I just knew he'd have to have brothers. Before I had settled on the fact that he wasn't going to be an only child, Dylan and Jesse started arguing to get my attention. And so the dark haired, dark eyed, Irish cowboys came to be.

The Garahan brothers are named in honor of my great, great-grandmother Anna Garahan--who had the good sense to fall in love with and marry Patrick Henry Flaherty. I'm lucky enough to have a few generations of my ancestors sitting on my mantlepiece...here are Anna and Patrick. I'm not sure why Anna's photo is so fragile or in sepia tones, both photos are originals. My mom is the oldest living relative left and she doesn't remember. But at least I have this link to part of my heritage. 




Just as we have more than one photo of a loved one, sometimes books will have more than one cover before the final is chosen. JESSE had two covers. In case you missed seeing it the first time around, here's the first cover for JESSE:

Lord doesn't that just get your heart started? 

But then I received the final cover, and I do have to say that I love this one. There's a lot to be said for wondering just what deliciously taut and toned muscles are waiting to be uncovered...

Could you fall in love with this hero? Maybe I should warn you that he's going to fall hard and fast for two females...yep that's right two...the lovely Danielle Brockway and her three-year old daughter Lacy who likes to dress up as a cowgirl--a pink cowgirl from the top of her tiny little cowgirl hat to the tips of her itty-bitty boots.

So for those of you who would like to enter to win a signed ARC for JESSE, tell me which you prefer, the covered up cowboy...or the one wearing only his ummm....Stetson? LOL! Don't forget to include your email address!

JESSE, Book 3 in the Secret Life of Cowboys series releases in July 2012.




Sunday, February 26, 2012

Perhaps Love .... by Grace Burrowes

I am forever indebted to Eloisa James for giving me the words, “Love heals the shame… love heals everything.” These phrases were muttered asides during her luncheon speech at RWA National a few years ago, meaning she gave them to a couple thousand other people at the same time. They about made me cry (National is enough to make anybody cry, but that’s a different post).

We all have ideas about what love is—love is patient, love is kind, love never ends. Love is steadfast and honest. Some say love is holding on, some say letting go (apologies to Placido Domingo and John Denver, though it’s a beautiful tune.)

But as for what love does, EJ hit it on the head. She might also have said, “Love makes us braver than we ever thought we could be, brave enough to be the best, most true-to-ourselves we can be.”

Sex has nothing, specifically, to do with this. What propels a good romance novel forward is a dance between fear—he/she’ll walk if I start to let him in, he/she’ll try to take over if I let down my guard—and courage: He/she could be the one who stays, the one who accepts me as I am, the one. The more fear is met with love, the more courage grows to the point where it becomes trust.

It amazes me that we can pull this off in 400 pages, because some people never once travel that arc in 104 years of living, which is sadness of a magnitude that defies description.

I can recall a moment when I knew my sister loved me, and I knew I loved her. I had turned up pregnant without benefit of matrimony and the child’s father was not a candidate for a committed relationship with me (did I put that carefully enough?). My older sister, a conservative, devout woman, who will not be caught dead reading one of my novels said something to me at the time like, “We all have regrets. You’re going to be a mom now, and babies have a way of making everything special. The important thing is that you get the support you need to be the best parent you can be.”

There wasn’t a hint of condescension or veiled judgment in her sentiment. She was carrying her fourth child at the time and knew exactly what lay before me. She could have lectured me, scared me, shamed me or rejected me… and all I got was kindness and acceptance.

There is no greater sustenance than such love.

For the rest of my life, I will recall that moment, a time when I was poised to emotionally skedaddle or at the very least, get the deflector shields up in a hurry, and Wham! Somebody offered me compassion, humor, acceptance, commiseration—they offered me love. If I can write such moments for my characters, the scenes sing their way into the reader’s heart.

To give and receive those moments, to treasure them, is what life is for.

Tell us about a moment when you knew you were loved.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In Love with Music by Sara Humphreys

I love music. It can bring me out of the deepest funk, make me smile through tears or take me back to a breathtaking moment in time. Music has the innate ability to call up a plethora of emotions and memories but it can also spark my muse to life.

I drive quite a bit for my gig with The College of Westchester and while I'm doing my road warrior thing, music is constantly flowing through the speakers of my bad-ass mini-van. (I know...a mini-van isn't bad ass but I have to think of it that way in order to tolerate driving it.)


I use this drive time to do much of the plotting for my books and the songs inevitably help me along.  As I plot, certain songs are more helpful than others and these songs end up compiling a soundtrack for each book. Within each soundtrack, there is a theme song that I end up using as the music for the book trailers. Amy Petty, whom I've blogged about before, is my primary musical muse for the Amoveo Legend series. She and her record label Red Pill Entertainment have allowed me to use Amy's music for the trailers-how cool are they? The answer: Way cool.

I just finished the edits for Untamed and the theme song for that one is Promise's Demise. It captured the heroine's personality completely and sparked some great ideas for Layla and William. I'm currently writing Undone, the fourth book in the AL series, and the theme song for Pete and Marianna is Long Way Down, also by Amy Petty.


Here's the soundtrack for Untouched which is Kerry and Dante's story. Their theme song is Honey on the Skin and when I heard it for the first time, it blew the plot wide open and their story flowed freely.

"Honey on the Skin"--Amy Petty *song used in the book trailer for Untouched
"Hurts So Good"--John Cougar Mellencamp
"Teenage Dream"--Katy Perry
"November Rain"--Guns-n-Roses
"Fire Down Below"--Bob Seger
"Lay All Your Love on Me"--Mama Mia Soundtrack
"I'm So into You"--The Strike Nineteens
"Tipitina"--Professor Longhair *this gave me the Louisiana flavor when I needed it






So how about you? What's the theme song for your life right now?
Post it here and I'll select one lucky commenter to win some bookmarks, temporary tattoos of the book cover of Untouched and Amoveo m&m candy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I’m in Love with… Romance Cover Photo Shoots!


As a publicist, there are parts of the book process that I have no part in—acquisitions meetings, copyediting and proofreading, page corrections… but I’ll be honest, all of those things make my head spin. However, I’ve ALWAYS been interesting in the whole cover process. I love getting called into a cover meeting and give my opinion—“I like that color and that image, but it should be cropped”—like I’m secretly an art director or something. So when our senior managing editor asked me if I wanted to go on a photo shoot, I said yes without hesitation! One snowy Friday morning, I made my way to the studio of Izui Photography, Inc., and met our great photographer, Dick Izui!

I was surprised how professional everything was—no matter that people were half-naked and barely knew one another in passionate poses. A few of the models hadn’t done romance covers before, so it was a pretty cool learning experience for everyone.

Between the photographer and his assistants, the models, the wadrobe director, the hair and make up artist, our creative service managers, an in-house Sourcebooks designer, our editor Deb Werksman and myself, it was a full house! But it was so much fun to be a part of it all, suggesting poses and helping everyone understand the motivation behind the characters being portrayed on the cover. We were able to get some great photo options for a bunch of our covers for late Fall 2012!

Now, I do have photos but please be forewarned—they are blurry... I could not use my flash because it would have interfered with the photographers lighting, and I didn't want to get in the way! But I hope you get a behind the scenes look at the romance novel cover process, and look for these books in late 2012 and early 2013! We'll even have a behind the scenes video and much better photos soon to share with everyone!

Bright and early, our very own Deb Werksman was on set helping the model, Todd, understand the story behind Terry Spear's Savage Hunger.
 
 
Next, it was on to another Terry Spear title, A Howl for a Highlander--complete with kilt and sword!


Donovan, the former Scottish werewolf, became a proper English Gentleman and joined Lindsey for A Waltz with a Stranger (by Pamela Sherwood)...



Ok, how pretty is this dress on the model, Crystal? You'll see it soon on A Lady and her Magic, Tammy Falkner's upcoming paranormal historical romance!

Finally, these last two are concepts for Royal Strings Attached, a women's fiction novel by Megan Mulry. The studio was able to find a real milliner: Jenny Pfanenstiel, Couture Milliner of Formé Millinery, Haus of Formé.
 She had so many amazing hats--check out the site for more!




There were some other covers shot as well, so get excited to see some really fabulous covers coming from us soon. We'll have more behind the scenese photos (better quality!) and video coming soon; I can't wait to share it all with you!

All photos credited to Dick Izui, http://www.izui.com/, because even though I took these, he and his team set them up and made them look wonderful!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened While Reading a Love Scene by Tamara Hogan


A number of months ago, I was the guest speaker at my college roommate's book club. While we talked about the book, one of the members - the cutest little thing, with punky platinum hair that took me back in time [mumble mumble] years - revealed that while reading TASTE ME, she and husband had... a lot of sex. An unusual amount of sex, most of which she'd initiated. "I'd read a chapter or two, turn over and tap him on the shoulder, and...whoa, Lordy, it was ON." 

After the group finished laughing, she continued her story. One night, when she and her husband were getting ready for bed, he gestured to the book, lying on her bedside table. "Aren't you going to - you know - um, read?" he asked. Instead of doing so, she paged to the book's first love scene, and passed the book to him. "Why don't you?"

So, he read. When he finished the scene, he closed the book, turned off his light, and settled down to sleep. "And...nothing!" she told us, throwing up her hands. Finally, she had to ask him. "Isn't that about the hottest thing you've read in your life?"

He shrugged. "It was okay, but there was hardly any sex."

After we refilled the wine glasses - again - we had a very interesting discussion about sex scenes and love scenes, and the degree to which gender might account for the differences in expectations, perceptions, and reactions while reading them. Punky Reader opined that she'd responded to the ramp-up, to the slow build in sexual and emotional tension. "But he seemed to be looking for..."  She made a lewd hand gesture. "Tab A/Slot B." 

One thing this conversation drove home for me is that, for all the sexual tension I try to convey in my work (even Romantic Times described TASTE ME's heat level as "Hot") there's really not a lot of explicit sex in my love scenes. As a writer, erotica's outside my comfort zone, but as a reader? Definitely not. Sometimes Tab A/Slot B (or, um, Tab A/Tab B/Slot C) really hits the spot.   

Tell us about your favorite love scene(s). What is it about the scene that appeals to you?  

And speaking of heat!  Here's a peek at the drool-worthy cover of my June 2012 release, CHASE ME. If werewolf geologist Gabe Lupinsky were to pose in his employer's parking lot wearing a leather jacket and no shirt, I'm sure he'd choose a classic style like this. ;-)

Huge thanks to Aleta Rafton for another fabulous cover.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

“The Love of a Forever Family” (By Catherine Mann)

Puppy love is universal! Every time I foster puppies for my local Humane Society, I lose a piece of my heart all over again. But to be truthful, I lose a much larger part of my heart to the adult shelter dogs who have a tougher time finding a new home.

American poet Joaquin Miller once wrote, “The biggest dog has been a pup.”

When I walk through my local shelter, my eye is drawn to the older overlooked dogs who were once cute puppies too. Back in December, one dog in particular caught my eye and tugged at my heart. His name is Big Daddy, a gray muzzled beagle. He’d been brought in with a female beagle who was pregnant and ready to deliver.

I’m a realist. I knew what my role would be as a shelter foster mom. Big Daddy needed to stay at the shelter so he had a better chance at being adopted. Mama Dog needed to come with me to finish delivering her litter in a home environment.

Mama Dog had four beautiful puppies four days before Christmas.



We named her Noelle and named her puppies after reindeer. I delighted in them all – how could I not?! – but I kept checking in at the shelter regularly, praying that older dog Big Daddy had been adopted. Luckily for Mama Noelle – only 2 years old – she already had a wonderful family to go to as soon as her puppies finished weaning.

January faded into February and still Big Daddy stayed in adoptions at the shelter. Waiting in a kennel run. I started second guessing myself. Should I have brought him home too even though I have three dogs of my own in addition to the foster mama and four puppies?

Finally the time arrived for the puppies to get a second round of vaccinations in preparation of going up for adoption and Mama Noelle going to her new home. I took the puppies and Mama to the shelter clinic, my heart heavy as I thought about saying goodbye to them all.

We walked inside- and there was none other than BIG DADDY! He had just been neutered and was waking up. He’d been adopted and was on his way to his forever family!



Mama Noelle remembered him. She ignored all the other dogs in the clinic and greeted her old friend. The shelter vet joked that she laughing and whispering in Big Daddy’s ear how he wouldn’t be able to knock her up again.

She may have been doing just that. But I knew she was also saying goodbye and good luck.

How cyclical that they would all be together just then. And what were the odds of us being there at exactly the right window of time? Especially since I’d had to cancel appointments at the clinic the two days prior.

No more second guessing. We were exactly where we were supposed to be. All had played out to a heart tugging, perfect conclusion. I got tears in my eyes knowing this whole little family that had been homeless at Christmas would now each know the love of a forever home of their own.



I lost a big piece of my heart to that beagle family. And I’m so very, very grateful to have been a part of their Christmas miracle that turned into a lifetime of Valentine’s family love.
***
Pets are a beloved part of our family. Did you have a treasured pet as a child? One commenter will be chosen at random to win an autographed copy of my December book HOT ZONE and my March book PROTECTOR. Winner will be announced on Saturday, Feb. 25.
***
USA Today Catherine Mann writes military romantic suspense for Sourcebooks and Berkley, as well as steamy romances for Harlequin Desire. A RITA Award winner, she has over forty books on the shelves, in more than twenty languages. She has a packed release schedule this spring with PROTECTOR (March), HONORABLE INTENTIONS (April), UNDER FIRE (May), and "Dog Tags" in LOVE BITES (June). FMI on her upcoming books, check out her website.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Love Is In The Air

I have to admit to not being a huge Valentines Day fan. List me among those who don't believe you need just one day out of the year to "feel the love". My husband always gets me flowers on Valentines Day, and sometimes we go out for dinner, sometimes we stay in and make a nice meal (steak and lobster were on the menu this year), but it's really not a "big" day for either of us.

Our daughter is about to turn 13 and she's just getting into the whole puberty/hormones/falling in love thing. This year a boy gave her her first real Valentines Day gift and she's been struggling with how to react to it. On one hand she feels funny and unsure about the whole thing. She likes him, but now she knows he likes her too so she's nervous. On the other, she's giddy and excited as any middle school girl would be. And as we've been talking to her about relationships and boys and what to expect/look for, I've been reminded of how unimportant Valentines Day is in the grand scheme of things.

For me, it's the little things my husband does throughout the year that make me love him. Not because he went out of his way one day a year to do something special for me. It's the fact that after twenty years he still opens the doors for me, that when we're sitting on a plane about to take off, he always reaches over and tugs on my seatbelt to make sure I'm secure. It's the fact he brings me tea every morning, gets up with the kids and the dogs on Saturdays so I can sleep in, and makes sure he calls every night when he's traveling on business to tell me he loves me, no matter what else he's doing. And then there are the things he does for me that I know he hates--like sitting through yet another Lord of the Rings movie marathon because I want to watch it (again), or going shopping on a Saturday during college football season.

My husband is very open with our daughter, and he's working hard to make sure she understands that how a boy treats a girl every day of the year is more important than what he does for her on one holiday. Candy and cards, flowers and dinner out are nice, but they're not what matters most. Those of us who read (and write) romance novels already know this. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone did.

What are the little things that matter most for you?




Sunday, February 19, 2012

Bee Mine

I love Valentine's Day.
I know a lot of people hate this "Hallmark Holiday," and I can understand that. But it's the Hallmark part that I love! Remember those tacky little Valentine cards we handed out to all our classmates? Nobody got their feelings hurt, because the teachers insisted that we give a card to every single member of the class. So everybody got some love.
The cards came in boxes of twenty or thirty and featured all kinds of images and terrible, terrible puns. In a fit of nostalgia, I went hunting on the internet for some of these little masterpieces, and I found a few that are appropriate for some of our Casababes. I know I should have sent one to everyone in the class, but it was a challenge finding sufficiently groan-worthy puns for everyone!
Here's one with a wolf, for Terry Spear:
And a mermaid, for Judi Fennell:
A kilted Scotsman, for Amanda Forester:
A "Domestic God" for Robin Kaye:
And a kitty cat for Cheryl Brooks:
But of course, the best Valentine cards had cowboys on them, and I found a nice selection of those for Carolyn Brown!
On Valentine's day, we'd put our specially decorated shoeboxes on our desks, with a slot cut in the top, and everyone would slip their cards inside. Once in a while I'd get a special handmade one from a "secret admirer" with a construction-paper heart pasted to a white doily. I'd spend weeks watching the boys, trying to figure out who sent it.
Do you have any special memories of elementary school Valentines? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Love according to ancient Greece


I'm working away on my second series for Sourcebooks. It's a spin-off of the Strange Neighbors series. What does that have to do with ancient Greece?
Only a smidgeon, but a smidgeon is all a writer needs for inspiration.

In my new cast of characters, I've included Gaia, a major Greek Goddess who we know as Mother Nature. For the fun of it, I'm including the occasional Greek God who fits with the story. No...I'm not writing historicals. Hopefully, I'm writing an hysterical!

Anyway, in my research, I came upon some interesting information. At least it's interesting to me. Maybe you'll find it dry, but I'm going to share it in the hope that maybe you, like me, have heard these words bandied about, but didn't really know the difference between them.

Greek distinguishes several different senses in which the word love is used. For example, Ancient Greek has the words philia , eros , agape , storge and xenia . However, with Greek as with many other languages, it has been historically difficult to separate the meanings of these words totally. At the same time the Ancient Greek text of the Bible has examples of the verb agapo being used with the same meaning as phileo .

Agape (ἀγάπη agápē ) means love in modern day Greek. The term s'agapo means I love you in Greek. The word agapo is the verb I love . It generally refers to a "pure", ideal type of love rather than the physical attraction suggested by eros . However, there are some examples of agape used to mean the same as eros . It has also been translated as "love of the soul".

Eros (ἔρως érōs ) is passionate love, with sensual desire and longing. The Greek word erota means in love . Plato refined his own definition. Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros. Some translations list it as "love of the body".

Philia (φιλία philía ), a dispassionate virtuous love, was a concept developed by Aristotle. It includes loyalty to friends, family, and community, and requires virtue, equality and familiarity. Philia is motivated by practical reasons; one or both of the parties benefit from the relationship. Can also mean "love of the mind".
Storge (στοργή storgē ) is natural affection, like that felt by parents for offspring.

Xenia (ξενία xenía ), hospitality, was an extremely important practice in Ancient Greece. It was an almost ritualized friendship formed between a host and their guest, who could previously be strangers. The host fed and provided quarters for the guest, who was only expected to repay with gratitude. The importance of this can be seen throughout Greek mythology, in particular Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.

With that, I give you all much philia and wish you eros and/or agape…whichever fits with your story.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Valentine's Day Isn't The Only Day for Lovers by, Judi Fennell

I know this will post on February 17, but as I write it, it's February 16, a very important date in my life.

It's my parents' anniversary. And, as I write this, they're out to dinner, celebrating, just the two of them. It's #49 for them. I cannot believe it's that many years (though, given that I just turned 47 and can do the math, I shouldn't be soooo surprised, but still...).

I've been around for all but 2 of those years. And when I was in college, of course, and then 3 hours away for the first few years of my marriage, but still, I've been here for those 49 years. And I'll tell you, one thing that has stuck with me is a saying my mom has always said, "It's a commitment to the commitment."

She and Dad haven't always agreed on everything (which would be why I got to live in Spain when she was dead set against it). They've had their share of "disagreements." (She'd kill me if I had written "fights.") They haven't always done everything right (no, Dad, it's not a good idea to keep driving out of the driveway when your youngest opens the car door and puts her foot on the ground so that said Child's foot ends up dragged under the tire just enough to necessitate a trip to the ER, or No, Mom, don't clean out a closet when you're angry at all the mess and accidentally toss out all the photos of your children sitting on Santa's lap when they were toddlers). They've sometimes hit the nail on the head: Dad planning the surprise anniversary trip to Puerto Rico and Mom for arranging for that limo ride (wink, wink) on another...

They've been there for us kids, taken us places, come to our events, gave us good advice--some bad advice as well, but they've given each of us the comfort and security of knowing they loved not only us but each other.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! (Where are you taking us for #50?)

And if you all would care to "share the love" my parents would be THRILLED for I Dream of Genies to win Best Book of 2011 at:

Long and Short Reviews: http://www.LongAndShortReviews.com/promo.htm

Thursday, February 16, 2012

And the Winners Are...

by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager,
Sourcebooks Casablanca


Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey on romance reading habits posted on the blog last month. Five responders have been randomly selected to win a FREE Sourcebooks book. Here are the winners! Congratulations!

Chris S

Sophia Rose

Gayle Cochrane

Allison Edney

Constance Martin


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hunky WOLF SEALs....by Terry Spear

US Navy SEALs are hot! Just as Rangers and Special Forces men I met in the Army were. But what happens when they're also a lot WOLF?

Hunter Greymere's SEAL team comes to mind.

When I wrote that Hunter was a US Navy SEAL in book 3, To Tempt the Wolf, I hadn't thought of him as being a part of a whole wolfish SEAL team. That was our editor, Deb Werksman's gem of an idea! And that was the beginning of my thinking of how I could come back to the pack someday and write another story about another member of the wolf SEAL team.

Now fans also helped because many wanted me to write Hunter's sister's story. In the original Oregon coast wolf pack story, Meara was looking for a mate. And fans wanted her to find one!!!




So in A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing,  book 9, she's at it again.

The she-wolf will play when the alpha male is away. That's Hunter, the pack leader, not her mate. Wolves mate for life, so she's just thrilled he's off on a honeymoon with his mate Tessa, and Meara's got free reign of the cabin resort rentals. So what does she do? Packs them with alpha males, one of which might just be the mate for her.

Until Finn Emerson comes along and spoils her whole plan! He's one of Hunter's SEAL team members and there to protect Hunter and Meara from a threat. But the threat is to the team, not her! So, to her way of thinking, Finn is bringing the trouble to her doorstep, not keeping her safe. But most of all he is NOT on her list of prospective mates and is totally in the way.



Finn Emerson is way over qualified to babysit one sexy she-wolf, but protect her he will. It's either that, or she stays with her brother on his honeymoon, and she's not about to do that. But first, her planned mate-hunting show is over and she's not happy about it at all.

When a shooter fires into her house and Finn tackles her to the floor to protect that sexy body of hers, he loses the towel he's wearing, and why he's "dressed" like that is a whole other story.

He really isn't interested in settling down right now, though Meara's definitely making him rethink his lifestyle. Maybe it's the notion he doesn't believe ANY alpha male would be right for her. Not that he's on the mate mart. But still...

Here's what one reviewer said: 
Why Readers Will Love A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing

  • The Humor - Terry Spear has a unique talent for infusing her novels with wit and humor that is all her own. Specific scenes could cause a rare laugh-out-loud moment and if they don't do that they will at least put a grin right on your face. I personally loved the scene in which Finn is checking Meara over for listening 'bugs' and the two begin playing out a love scene for anyone who 'may' be listening. There is also the fantastic scene in which Meara comes home to find a very unexpected naked SEAL in her bedroom, the reactions are priceless.
  • Pack Loyalty - I am one of those readers who gets all gooey inside when a group of people come together for the sake of one. Werewolves, in most books, are usually like that but throw in a team of SEAL's and you have people literally willing to face a bullet for one another. That kind of loyalty always makes for some dramatic, heartfelt scenes, but in this crew that sort of connection also provides a strong base for a lot of the humorous moments.
  • An Exciting Storyline - The book begins with Finn bugging Meara's place because an unknown assassin is after her brother's SEAL team. He seeks to protect her while Hunter is away, doing whatever it takes, even going so far as to pretend to be her lover. Hilarity ensues, which is expected when you put such larger than life characters together and high-action drama follows the two as they avoid killers and their own emotions.
  • Love, Lust and Everything in Between - Meara and Finn are beautiful together; their chemistry is sizzling and their reactions to one another are instant and explosive. The automatic physical attraction between the two is intense right from the beginning and their animosity only a sign of their hidden feelings. The characters really play upon each others personality, bringing out the softer side of their hard-edged persona. The author writes sensual scenes for the characters to explore their emotions in, without taking them too far too soon, making that climactic moment all the more anticipated.  Read more at Suite101: Book Review of A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing | Suite101.com http://jessicahastings.suite101.com/book-review-of-a-seal-in-wolfs-clothing-a402755#ixzz1lkVOwsgJ
~~Romance Fiction, Suite 101, Jennifer Hastings

So you see, A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing definitely could be a mate, even if he doesn't think so. 

I have to say that when I edit my books, I do have particular favorite scenes I LOVE to edit a lot. I mean, I'm  not really editing as much as REREADING them a lot. :) One is the opening where, like Ms. Hastings said, Meara finds Finn naked in her bedroom, which is his plan to let a renter/prospective mate know he's a little too late in arriving, and the scene where Finn is checking Meara over for bugs. Not that I didn't have fun revising to make the scenes all that more memorable while I reread them, but I have to admit, I reread them a lot more than I revised them.

There's also a scene between the first renter and Finn where he shows him just what he thinks of the "renter," who breaks into the safe house and makes himself a cup of coffee while Finn and Meara are sleeping. And the scene where Anna, an undercover operative, takes Finn to task over his dealings with Meara. He tells her to not say a word about his relationship with Meara, but does she listen?

I have to say that I just had plain fun writing the book. The humor was just there between the characters from the get-go. Mystery, adventure, hot and sexy alpha males and females and prerequisite getting rid of bad guys are all part of the story. But returning to the Oregon coast wolf pack was a lot of fun!

Next up is a hunky jaguar shifter in Savage Hunger. And Howling for the Highlander, the next in the Highland wolf series, this one about Duncan, who is off to get their money back in the Grand Cayman Islands. His name means dark warrior, and that's his whole persona...

But when he arrives at the island and sees a lone she-wolf at the airport, he's more than a little distracted in his mission. Going to the island wasn't meant to be fun. But all that changes when the man who's stolen the clan's money hits on the female wolf, and Duncan is all wolfish warrior and more.

I'm currently working on his older brother, Cearnach's story as readers will get to return to the Highland wolf pack again in their native Scotland, in A Highland Wolf Wedding.

But back to this month's release!!!

All month long Sourcebooks will be giving away 2 copies of A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing. Here's the schedule!


Guest Blog Schedule for A SEAL in Wolf's Clothing for March and Beyond

3/1 You Gotta Read Reviews & Love Romance Passion
3/2 Book Savvy Babe
3/3 Weekend No Blogs--Teaching Workshops New Orleans
3/4 No Blogs/book signing New Orleans

3/5 No Blogs

3/6 Rom Fan Reviews
3/7 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee
3/8 Night Owl Reviews & Literal Addiction

3/9 Urban Girl Reader

3/10 Weekend
3/11
3/12 SOS Aloha
3/13 SciFiGuy
3/14 Sizzling Hot Books
3/15 Speculative Salon

3/16 Fresh Fiction & 7 Scribes
3/17 Weekend
3/18
3/19 Reading Between the Wines
3/20 Cindy Loves to Read
3/21 Open
3/22 Reviews by Molly
3/23 Book Boost
3/24 Weekend
3/25
3/26 Star-Crossed Romance
3/27 Open

3/28 Mrs Papillion's Bookworm Reviews 
3/29 Long and Short Reviews
3/30Paranormal Addicts

3/31 Weekend

Additional Dates:


April: ARRA
July 4: Petit Fours and Hot Tamales

I have to say that when I mentioned the title of this book, I had people raising their brows. She's flipped out! She's writing about seal shifters that mate with wolf shifters?

Shocking!

Until I explain I'm writing about US NAVY SEALs, who are wolf shifters. LOL

What about you? Are you ready for a wolfish kind of SEAL?

Terry
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."
www.terryspear.com


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day, I Guess

by Olivia Cunning

Valentine's Day is not my favorite holiday.



I know, I know. A romance author should probably keep such things to herself. The idea behind the holiday is nice, but shouldn't we be celebrating love everyday, not just one day out of the year?

I don't hate Valentine's Day, but it has seldom been kind to me. It started in elementary school.

Was I the only one who didn't want to give a Valentine to every jerk in my elementary class?

Of course, there was the secret crush whose card I carefully selected (from a box of 32 similar cards). That Super-Friends card  was so heartfelt. And will you just look at the darling heart-shape I used to dot the "i" in my secret crush's name. sigh... Finally, he will know my true feelings. We will live happily ever after. (Yes, I was nine, so what?) But what about the mean kid who eats his boogers and pushed me off the monkey bars? Why did I have to give him a card? I sure didn't want him to be my valentine and there isn't a card in my Super-Friends box that says "Stay away from me, jerk.", though I'm pretty sure that's exactly what Wonder Woman would have said in this situation. Then came the heartbreak of discovering the card I received from my secret crush wasn't nearly as carefully selected and heartfelt as the one I delivered to the "mailbox/paper bag" on his desk, but was, in fact, the same GI Joe card he gave to the booger-eating meanie. And my name was written on the envelope in his mother's handwriting! Does that mean he didn't even select the card recipients himself? Ah, the emotional scars of childhood.

In high school, everyone scrambled to find a boyfriend before V-day. And he better buy a rose from the student council and have it delivered during class or he was in big trouble. This was a great way to make the girls without boyfriends feel like total losers. Cheerleaders-3 roses each. The rest of us-0. The only thing that could possibly be worse is if your parents took pity on you and sent you flowers at school. The horror! I did have a boyfriend in high school, but he went to a different school, so I was stuck in loser-dom on Valentine's Day with no rose.

When I was married, Valentine's Day was expected and more of a chore than a joy and now that I'm single again, it's a big reminder that I'm well... single. I'm convinced that this day was invented to torture me. I have had some nice Valentine's Days. They haven't all been bad. I'm sure some people love this holiday. I'm not one of them.

So Happy Valentine's Day, I guess. What's your favorite thing about this holiday?

Mine's the chocolate that goes on sale for half-price tomorrow. I am not too proud to eat chocolate out of a gaudy red heart that I bought for myself at a discount. No, I am not.



I did promise my fans a Valentine's Day short story, which I posted this morning. It's called Be Mine<--click here to read it for free.
Warning: If you haven't read this book,

the short story has some spoilers.
And if you have... well, these two always make me teary-eyed, so I needed tissue when I wrote it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Panic!

by Amanda Forester

*Note - after comment I have removed spoilers just in case you didn't watch Downton last night.

I'm late posting a blog today, but I got so caught up in Downton Abbey I could not tear myself away to write it. I've found clips of future episodes on you tube, but I will refrain! Ok, I will mostly refrain. Mostly I said!

Anyway, the point of this blog is not to talk of star crossed lovers, but of acknowledged ones. Married people. People in relationships. You see it is Valentine's Day Eve. In other words, time to PANIC!

If you have made your reservations, arranged the babysitter, and composed a sonnet to your love, you can stop reading now. I have nothing to offer you, now go away with your smug self. If, however, you are, like me, just opening your eyes to the grey light of a Monday morning with the hope that coffee, let's make that a double, will somehow chase away grogginess, only to find that tomorrow is Valentine's Day and you've done nothing to prepare, then read on!

If you are just now beginning to plan for Valentine's Day, you have every reason to be concerned. Hate to break it to you but you're not going to get a reservation now, not at any place that doesn't ask you if you want fries with your meal. Below are some ideas of last minute gifts that hopefully won't look like you stopped off at the gas and sip on the way home (beef jerky and a slurpy are not acceptable Valentine's Day offerings).

Confession: these are mainly targeted what men can do for the women in their lives, in particular what my husband can do for me (are you reading, honey?), but perhaps they can help you too:

1) Make a picnic at home. Let's face it... you dropped the ball on the whole reservation thing, and don't even start looking for a babysitter now. Even a 12-year-old will tell you she's been booked for a month. So you need to cover your mistake by making it appear that it was all part of your master plan. Of course she will be on to you, but she'll appreciate that you tried. Whether you make something at home or bring take out, put a little effort into the ambience. Put down a table cloth (it's kept on the second shelf in the linen closet) and light a candle (kept in that drawer you never open).

2) Give a card, but for heaven's sake don't just sign it. Write something in it. Say something about the vastness of your love, the beauty of her eyes, how you hope to wake up next to her every morning of your life, etc. If you draw a blank, pick up another card and copy the sentiment from it into your card. She will think you clever and I doubt you can go to jail for plagiarism (if I'm wrong I will deny all knowledge of this piece of advice).

3) Clean the house. Seriously. Start now. Dishes, laundry, vacuuming - it's all very sexy let me assure you. If she comes home to find you on your hands and knees buffing the floor, well let's just say you are well on your way to getting what you really want for Valentine's Day.

4) A boxed set of Downton Abbey. Ok, ok, maybe I'm being a little too specific. Well, can't hurt to put it out there. But now that I've mentioned it, a gift of something your love would like, something that tells your love that you know them will always be appreciated. My man in particular likes things that require extension cords and has warning labels.

5) Give the perfect gift: chocolate. You can buy it from an expensive chocolatier if you like, just make sure you bring home sufficinet quantities. Chocolate goes with everything and nothing is more likely to bring a smile to my... ahem I mean her face.

Hope this helps with the Valentine's Day conundrum. I hope your love life is not as complicated as the twisted (but oh so addictive) plot lines of Downton Abbey. I will not cheat and watch it on you tube, I will not cheat... um yeah, gotta go!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Better than Chocolate….

By Robin Kaye


I love Chocolate, coffee, and my husband not necessarily in that order. I love coffee in the same way I love air—I need it to live, but I can enjoy it—who doesn’t love the first whiff of the ocean when they’re headed to the beach, or that scent of home after a long trip? Coffee for me is necessary for life but also something I look forward to every morning, afternoon, and most nights too.

Loving my husband is easy because like most men, what you see is what you get. The morning he proposed, he didn’t have a ring, a speech, or, it seemed, a plan. He just looked over and said, “So, you want to get married?” We’d only been dating four months; I think his proposal was as much a shock to him as it was to me. After I said, yes, he went right out (without my knowledge, mind you) and sold his motorcycle, his most prized possession, to buy me a ring. He might not be the hearts and flowers type, but with him, I never wonder if I’m loved. Over the years, he’s given up much more than just his motorcycle to keep our family and me happy. He’s supported my writing, believed in me before I ever believed in myself, and given so much never asking for anything in return. That says more to me than all the hearts, flowers, and chocolate ever could.

Now don’t get me wrong—I adore chocolate, and he buys chocolate for me whenever he deems it necessary for my mental health—he’s a smart man. Chocolate is much like men when it comes to what you see is what you get… unless the box doesn’t label the contents. A sampler without a map of what’s what is a disaster for me since I’ve kissed enough frogs and bitten into enough chocolate to realize I’m not interested in experimentation. I want to know what’s inside before I take a bite of either, and I’ve been that way long before I met my dear husband.

Still, I believe that certain men, and chocolate are addictive. Here’s a scene from Wild Thing that covers my theory about men and chocolate. I hope you enjoy it!

Toni shrugged. “Hunter, you’re like exceptionally good dark chocolate. What’s not to love, right? So I get a huge box of Belgian dark chocolate.” She stuck her hands out to show him the size, which would weigh in at twenty-five pounds easy—obviously an exaggeration.

“Okay. I’m the chocolate?” He was confused. Since all the women he knew couldn’t resist anything chocolate, that couldn’t be a bad thing. But with Toni, one never knew.

“You’re the chocolate, but not just any chocolate. You’re Belgian chocolate. It’s the best chocolate on earth.”

“So that’s a good thing?”

“Yes, I just love Belgian chocolate. So much so, I unwrap the huge box, and I eat and eat. It’s so good I can’t stop. I make a total pig of myself. The next thing I know, I feel sick, I’ve gained ten pounds, and I have a zit the size of Governors Island on my forehead.”

This was a ridiculous comparison, but she obviously didn’t think so. She was serious.

“Don’t you see? Nothing that decadent can be good for me. You’re my Belgian dark chocolate, and I suck at resisting you. I have no willpower.”

“Thank God.” He kissed the crease above her nose that showed up every time she was confused then kissed the tip of her nose. “Chocolate has been proven to be very good for you.”

Her lips parted, and her eyes darkened.

“High in antioxidants.”

She looked more stunned and turned on than confused now.

He leaned in and teased her lips. “It stimulates endorphins.” His nose rubbed hers before he kissed the corner of her mouth. “It gives you a feeling of pleasure.” He nibbled her bottom lip. “It’s a natural antidepressant.”

Her fingers tunneled into his hair and gripped his head as she kissed him with promise and desperation.

Hunter groaned, leaning into her, pinning her against the wall. Need like none he’d felt before grabbed him in a stranglehold. If she kept kissing him like that, they’d get enough exercise to keep from gaining weight for sure. Hell, they’d have to guard against withering away to nothing.

Someone cleared his throat. Toni stilled, and her eyes shot wide open.

“Sorry to interrupt, but Toni’s dinner is on the table.”

“Fisher.” Hunter didn’t turn around. “She’ll be there in a minute.”

He closed his eyes and rested his forehead against hers until his brother’s footsteps faded. “Resistance is futile. Let’s just give up trying to avoid this and enjoy our time together.”

“Okay. But not at work. Work is work, and this is… well, whatever it is.”


What do you prefer, dark chocolate, milk chocolate or all of the above? And when it comes to men, do you look for grand gestures, or just a man who gets the job done?

Happy early Valentine’s Day!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

BIGGER THAN THE TWO OF US by Emery Lee

As a romance writer there is one (alright maybe many) hard and fast rule that one must live by—at the end of the 80-100,000 tirelessly scribed words which might involve any combination of hero and heroine archetypes in myriad plot devices, there MUST be a happy ever after. This is as carved in stone as the tablets of Moses.  End. Of. Story.


However, as a reader, I am never more stirred to depths of my being than by the sheer poignancy of sacrificial and even tragic love stories. You know, the kind that make you ransack the entire house for a box of Kleenex. And while my poor little heart can only stand this much emotion once in a blue moon, here is my own list of five of the most tragically romantic couples in history and mythology. 

I.                    MARC ANTONY and CLEOPATRA


Immortalized by "the bard" is the true love story of Antony and Cleopatra derived from  Plutarch's "Life of Mark Antony"  We join his story as Cleopatra receives Antony's summons to join him:

"She had faith in her own attractions, which, having formerly recommended her to Caesar and the young Pompey, she did not doubt might prove yet more successful with Antony... she was to meet Antony in the time of life when women's beauty is most splendid, and their intellects are in full maturity. She made great preparations for her journey, of money, gifts, and ornaments of value, such as so wealthy a kingdom might afford, but she brought with her surest hopes in her own magic arts and charms. ...she came sailing up the river Cydnus in a barge with gilded stern and outspread sails of purple, while oars of silver beat time to the music of flutes and fifes and harps. She herself lay all along, under a canopy of cloth of gold, dressed as Venus in a picture, and beautiful young boys, like painted Cupids, stood on each side to fan her. "


In a case of love at first site, the couple was inseparable: "She played at dice with him, drank with him, hunted with him; and when he exercised in arms, she was there to see." 

The relationship between these two powerful people put the country of Egypt in a powerful position and their love affair outraged the Romans. Despite all, Anthony and Cleopatra wed. In the most popular version, while fighting against the Romans, Antony is led to believe Cleopatra has betrayed him and he falls on his sword. When Cleopatra learns of his death, she commits suicide believing they will be reunited in the afterlife.

II.  TRISTAN and ISOLDE  


This tragic love story has been told and retold through various stories and manuscripts and served as inspiration for the Arthur/ Lancelot/Guinevere love triangle in Thomas Mallory's Morte D'Arthur. 

Isolde (also Iseult) was the daughter of the King of Ireland and betrothed to King Mark of Cornwall.  When King Mark sends his nephew, Tristan to escort his bride, the young couple falls helplessly in love. Though her marriage to the king  proceeds, the love affair continues.  Upon King Mark's discovery of the betrayal there are a number of variations on the lover's fates, but all end with Tristan dying of grief, thinking Isolde betrayed him, and Isolde dying in a swoon over his corpse.


III. ORPHEUS and  EURYDICE

Orpheus and Eurydice story is an ancient Greek tale of desperate love. Orpheus was the son of one of the Muses and a Thracian prince whose mother gave him the gift of music. Although the Thracians were the most musical of all Greeks, Orpheus had no rival but the gods alone. No one and nothing could resist him. Everything animate and inanimate followed him. He moved the rocks on the hillside and turned the courses of the rivers....  

In the deep still woods upon the Thracian mountains
Orpheus with his singing lyre led the trees,
Led the wild beasts of the wilderness.
 

Orpheus falls deeply in love with Eurydice, a beautiful nymph but the god  Aristaeus also desires her.  While fleeing from Aristaeus, Eurydice runs into a nest of snakes and is fatally bitten. In an anguish of grief, Orpheus is determined to retrieve her back from death and undertakes a perilous journey to the underworld. "with my song I will charm Demeter's daughter, I will charm the Lord of the Dead, Moving their hearts with my melody. I will bear her away from Hades." Upon striking his lyre : "He Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek, and made Hell grant what Love did seek."

Charmed by his music, Hades and Persephone summon Eurydice and give her back to him upon the condition that he not look back at her as she follows him into the upper world. As he steps joyfully into the daylight, he looks back to ensure she still follows but it is too soon. She fades back into the darkness with the faint word, "Farewell." In utter desolation Orpheus forsakes all men to wander the wild solitudes of Thrace, comfortless except for his lyre.

 IV. PAOLO and FRANCESCA


This true tale of ill-fated lovers was made famous by Dante's "Divine Comedy."
Francesca da Rimini or Francesca da Polenta (1255–1285) was the daughter of Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna who had been at war with the Malatesta family.  As part of a peace negotiation, Guido offers his daughter Francesca to the Malatestan heir, Giovanni Malatesta(Gianciotto), son of Malatesta da Verucchio, lord of Rimini. Giovanni was brave but deformed and knowing his daughter would refuse, the nuptials proceed by proxy through Giovanni's handsome brother, Paolo.

Francesca falls in love with Paolo, unaware of the deception until the morning after the wedding. According to Dante, Francesca and Paolo became lovers after reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere. When the two lovers are discovered they are murdered by Gianciotto.


V.  ABELARD and HELOISE


"You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you." -Heloise to Abelard 

Peter Abelard (1079-1142) was a French philosopher, considered one of the greatest thinkers of the 12th century. Heloise (1101-1164) was the niece and pride of Canon Fulbert. She was well-educated by her uncle in Paris.

"Her uncle's love for her was equaled only by his desire that she should have the best education which he could possibly procure for her. Of no mean beauty, she stood out above all by reason of her abundant knowledge of letters." -Abelarde speaking of Heloise

In twelfth century Paris, the intellectually gifted young Heloise, the niece of Notre Dame’s Canon Fulbert, strives for knowledge, truth and the answer to the question of human existence. Abelard is deemed the only teacher in Paris to provide the education that she seeks. Though twenty years her senior, Abelard is completely enamored by Heloise for she is not only beautiful but his intellectual equal. Theirs is a passion impossible to resist. They become so spiritually and intellectually entwined that neither can defy their physical desires.  

When Heloise becomes pregnant, they flee for Brittany, Abelard’s place of birth.  Though the couple are secretly wed, they discover Fulbert’s plot to ruin Abelard and keep Heloise for himself.  Heloise escapes to the convent at Argenteuil but Fulbert has his servants castrate Abelard while he sleeps. Knowing they can never again be together, Abelard becomes a monk and devotes his life to learning. The heartbroken Heloise becomes a nun. Despite their separations and tribulations, Abelard and Heloise remain in love. Six hundred years later Josephine Bonaparte was so moved by their story that she ordered their remains to be entombed together at Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Although they were forever parted in life, their poignant love letters survive the centuries.