Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Taking the Dress for a Walk by Mary Wine

Yes, it’s a bit of an odd blog title but the resent Oscars have me thinking about the lengths we often go to when dressing for public events. As a historical writer, I often describe the gowns worn at various royal courts. These dresses were ornate, cumbersome and very often, the key to being noticed. Career courtiers often went into financial crisis just to outfit themselves. Walter Raleigh, one of Elizabeth Tudors favorites was rumored to never be seen in the same outfit twice. Considering there were no sewing machines, this entailed a huge amount of expense. So much so, he was adopted as a full grown man so that someone else might pay his tailor bills.

But being noticed was the most important thing. I adore my historical gowns but there is an art to wearing them. To the left is a picture of me dancing in one styled after a painting from 1560. You might notice my hand position. Girls were schooled from very early age on how to appear in public. The dress weights about thirty five pounds and must be kept balanced. Not an easy task when you are dancing or trying to go up stairs. I’ve ended up grateful that I wore knickers a time or two. You can also see the gentleman in blue holding onto his sword pommel. Since we were dancing, men had to pay close attention to their weapons or they would whip around.
This fascination with extreme fashion continued on through the Victorian era. The bustle at one time, was large enough to support an entire tea service. Ensuring you didn’t look like a dog wagging its tail took a great deal of practice. The idea was to appear like a peacock, graceful and confident. Little ladies-to-be were laced into training corsets which taught them proper posture by age three. Often, a wood slat was attached to the corset and a tie went around the girls head to teach her proper placement of the neck and chin. This is where ‘looking down your nose’ comes from. Girls schooled in this way did not lower their chins. They looked down with their eyes only.

I still enjoy the red carpet walk. Those celebrities put in a lot of work to look that good. I love the sparkle and shine of the Oscars. Next time you want to read a book with a little of that glamor, pick up one of my historical romances!

Mary Wine

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Challenging yourself

It is official. I have signed up to do Tough Mudder when it comes to Perth later this year. For those of you who don’t know what it is here’s a clip.

My friends’ reactions have ranged from “OMG you’re crazy” to “I’m doing it with you.” It’s so nice to have friends who’ll do a 15+km obstacle course with you :)…and hopefully we’ll still be friends afterwards.

When I first heard about the event I thought it sounded fun—as in the do it once in your life type fun (you know how some people jump out of a plane etc). And I’m sure I’ll get something useful out of it for my writing. I’m thinking it will probably involve pain and pushing past it…maybe trying to ignore my fear of heights too. And please let there be no snakes/spiders/other poisonous wildlife (this is Oz after all).

On the plus side the idea of entering got me running last year. I can now run 5km and I’m fitter than have been since having kids (seriously where did that decade go?).

Has anybody done the course? Any tips? Or is anyone thinking about doing Tough Mudder this year?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ever Feel Like This?

Just...lazy? Want to procrastinate when work needs to be done? I'll think of it tomorrow mentality?

I'll do something about it next week.

And then all of a sudden the time has come and you're like what happened to the time?

Do you have stuff you like to do and so that gets priority over the stuff you don't like to do? Or don't want to do?

Taxes come to mind....every year I say I'll get better organized, and every year it's the same old thing. :) Though I have to admit part of it is that statements don't come in on time like they're supposed to. I did have the urge to do them one day, but didn't have all my statements in.

You know what? That makes us human.

See, the guy in the tree, he can afford to do what he wants because he doesn't have to do anything else.

Procrastination can lead to stress and more problems--so I'm not advocating to do it--hint to self: Get to work on taxes.

But on the other hand, give yourself a break. We are only human. And for Duncan, that means wolfishly human. Does he get sidetracked sometimes. Sure. We all do. Even if you're a hunky hero.

Howl for a Highlander
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Werewolf Series, Book 10
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Formats Available: Mass Market Paperback, Kindle, Nook
Purchasing Info:Author’s Website, Publisher, Amazon, BAM, IndieBound, Book Depository, Chapters/Indigo, Powell’s, Goodreads, Kindle, Barnes & Noble, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, Books On Board, Discover New Love.

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"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"    

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Good. The Bad. The Downright Nasty!

There will soon be 62 books published written by Carolyn Brown or Abby Gray (my pen name on the first four)  so you’d think I would be used to the whole process, right?

But here I am chewing my fingernails (thank goodness they don’t have calories or fat grams), waiting eleven more days until my first woman’s fiction book hits the book stores. I’ve got a virtual launch party all ready and the blog dates are set. The cover is awesome. Everything has been completed. Nothing left to chance. So what on earth do I have to worry about?


I remember my first review very well. 

The review was one of those downright nasty, folks! I still shudder just thinking about it. The machete the reviewer used to cut up the story and the author who wrote it was covered plumb up in red sticky stuff and it didn’t smell like cherries or strawberries. No editor was ever going to buy another book from me. I was doomed to be a has-been when I'd barely gotten a good runnin' start at being an author.

I called the funeral director who was a friend of mine, told him to go on and order that gorgeous red casket with gold plated handles. I told him that I was getting pretty close to being ready to crawl up in it, cross my hands over my…chest…and stop breathing.

Two weeks later, a very reputable reviewer gave the same book a good review. I called the funeral director and canceled the order for the red casket and my editor called to offer a contract on the next three books in the series.

And I’d learned a lesson.

Reviews were the opinion of one person, not the whole world.

Since then I’ve danced jigs over the good…starred reviews, RITA nomination, NYT and USA lists, books of the week, the month and the whole nine yards.

I’ve chewed my nails over the bad…one star, two star, no star.

I’ve worried about the nasty…minus six stars, bless their hearts!

I figured out that some folks were going to like my books.

Some weren’t.

Simple as that.

I needed to grow a thicker skin and learn not to wear my heart on my sleeve.

These past couple of weeks I get up every morning, look in the mirror and give myself that same pep talk. I even throw in that old adage about not pleasing all of the people all of the time.

And then I eat chocolate.

Chocolate sales were up 28% in 2012 and topped $17.3 billion in sales. And about 32 million books, across all genres and formats, were sold in 2012. That’s a heck of a lot of reviews, folks! A lot of chewing nails. A lot of happy dances. A lot of eyeballing that red casket.

A lot of chocolate!

Chocolate helps us celebrate the good reviews.

Chocolate helps us endure the bad reviews.

Chocolate keeps us away from red caskets when there are downright nasty reviews.

It’s a wonder drug!

We really should at least be recognized with our picture on the advertising or maybe a picture of the cover art of our upcoming book. We deserve recognition because with those stats, I’m sure authors buy more chocolate than any other group of folks out there.

Tell me, as authors do you worry about reviews? As readers do you base your whole reading experience on reviews? Am I the only one out here keeping the chocolate companies in business?



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

30 Days 'Til Spring, 6 'Til the Daytona 500 and 14 Days 'Til Edits for Bk 3 are Due by C.H. Admirand

OK...I know, heck of a blog post title, but in case those of you are fans of any of those big events coming up, I thought I'd throw them in there. I can't wait for Spring--ever! Same thing happens every year, I'm not a big winter person, but will admit to enjoying the sight of snow (2" or less) blanketing the ground. The quiet while it is snowing is so utterly peaceful. I am a HUGE NASCAR fan and my driver's chances of getting into the Chase again this year are excellent. So far, I'm not impressed with the way the Gen6 cars race, but hey, they're new so it's a learning curve for everyone...but the Chevy's look amazing!

I'm supposed to be working on said edits for book 3 right now, but am writing a blog instead...I'm definitely sensing a pattern here. Life happens, I react and then life happens again... LOL! Maybe I should think of it as rolling with the punches.

I'm delighted to have edits to work on and a wip! Then there are books that I've gotten the rights back to that I'm going to be releasing in e-book format for the first time. That's exciting for me. Maybe now would be the time to invest in an e-reader :) It's been on my Christmas list for the last few years--refer back to paragraph two for explanation of why it's still on my list. LOL!

I have an ARC for ONE DAY IN APPLE GROVE in my hot little hands and on standby waiting for me to input names. Sooooo, get ready to comment and be sure to leave your email address so I can get in touch with you.

Question: What's coming up in your life that has you counting the days??

Remember to comment and include your email address so I can get in touch with the winner.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

How About Some Videos & A Giveaway? by Sara Humphreys

I am on serious deadline and my four boys are home this week on February break. Awesome. To make it even more interesting, my oldest boy is leaving for England on Wednesday as part of a 10 day student exchange program for select seniors. I'm excited for him but moderately terrified as well. He's been diabetic since he was 2 1/2 and this is the first time he's really going away. Needless to say, this week I'm on major overload so instead of a loooonnnnggg wordy post, how about some videos and a giveaway?

I'm giving away this 2013 wall poster. 

To be entered to win all you have to do is leave a comment and tell me which video you liked the best. Post by Sunday, February 25th at 11:59pm to qualify.

I made all of the video trailers for my books and had a blast doing it. Enjoy!

Amoveo Legend Series

Tall, Dark, & Vampire 
(Book 1 Dead in the City)

Dream on....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Love Fest Monday

By Samantha Grace

It’s not often I hear couples say they never have a disagreement, but when I do I wonder how that’s possible. I can’t even agree with myself all the time. But let’s say there really are couples that always have the same ideas, the same opinions, the same likes. I’m sure they exist. I just don’t want to be the other half of a Brain Twin Couple. I mean, I like myself, but why would I want to marry my clone?

My husband and I like a lot of the same things. Neither of us ever have a clue who’s playing in the Super bowl or the World Series year to year. He’s content to forego hunting to help me find a great pair of boots. We have the same goofy sense of humor. And we’re equally enthusiastic about the newest Star Trek movie coming to a theater near us soon. (He couldn’t believe I liked Star Trek, The Next Generation when we started dating. He’d hit the jackpot, but so did I. Any man willing to devote his Saturday to helping me find homes for the kittens the stray I took in had is a keeper.)

Mondays call for kitty photos

But no matter how much we have in common, we are also different. Sometimes those differences get on each other’s nerves. I’m always running late. He drives like a maniac. There really is no causal relationship between the two. I swear, he’s a reckless driver all the time. Other times, I love our differences. He’s much more adventurous than I am, which is the reason I saw Oahu by motorcycle rather than a tour bus, rode bicycles across the Golden Gate Bridge, and explored NYC with no itinerary. 
Favorite find in NYC. I saw the masts from the Brooklyn Bridge and said, "Ooh! I want to go there!"
And he’s definitely the reason I felt safe taking the plunge into writing. He’s my safety net, because I know he will catch me if I fall or else we’ll crash together. As far as what I’ve given to him, he once told me I taught him how to love. My heart melted.

I try to remember the things I appreciate about him when we’re slipping into a rerun of The Bickertons. Yeah, sometimes we bicker. To me, that’s what being part of a couple that doesn’t share one brain entails. But having disagreements doesn’t mean we aren’t perfect for each other. Plus, arguing is within our control really. The last time we were on the verge of a fight, I looked at him and said, “You know, we can choose to skip the fighting part and just make up.” For two busy working parents, it just made sense.

I’m happy to have people in my life that bring something different to the relationship, whether it’s a romantic relationship, friendship, working partnership, etc. Last week I was reading an article in the magazine Mayo Health Systems publishes. (No, the sandwich spread doesn’t have a magazine. Come on, someone thought that’s what I meant. Admit it.)

The article was about how positive thinking makes us healthier, because we manage stress levels better. Dr. Sood, a Mayo MD, shared a few techniques to help us focus on the positives in our lives. One that resonated with me was starting the day by silently thanking 5 people who have enhanced our lives. I love that idea!

So in honor of February, the Month of Love, I'm taking a moment to not-so silently thank some of the people who have made this month easier or better for me.  

Thank you for making my life better!

Hubby – He was an amazing help Sunday shopping with our daughter for a birthday present for a friend and taking her to the party, then coming home to help me make dinner. What a guy!

Aileen Fish, Julie Johnstone, & Robin Delany – Three invaluable critique partners, and lovely authors, that have been helping me with my latest book.

Misty Helm – As a bookseller, she has been on the front lines getting my books into the hands of readers since my debut a year ago, but she went above and beyond this past week. She created this great cover photo for my Facebook Page showcasing all four historical hotties from my regency series.

Jake Hillary, Captain Daniel Hillary, Lord Andrew & the Duke of Foxhaven

BFF at work – She always makes me laugh, and she was willing to change her work schedule last week so I could have the week off to write. Love that girl.

Teenage son – For getting me hooked on The Walking Dead and giving us something we can both enjoy. It’s guaranteed time together. What more could a mom want?

So, now it’s your turn. Just name 5 people you appreciate and let the love fest begin!  


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sexy or Sexist? by Tamara Hogan

Like many millions of other people, I spent at least some of the day in front of the television on Super Bowl Sunday. Yeah, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a huge football fan. I'm more about The Puppy Bowl (Eli pooped on the field, bringing a new definition to the word "Foul!"), the halftime show (Destiny's Child reunion! Didn't Kelly Rowland look fierce?) and yes, the commercials.

Critical opinion for several of the commercials was pretty unanimous. On the positive side, a baby Clydesdale? **squee** ovaries explode **  AWESOME. Overwhelmingly panned was the commercial in which supermodel Bar Rafaeli very audibly kissed GoDaddy's website guru, Walter.

Some commercials received mixed reviews, and have catalyzed some unexpected and interesting online discussions. Consider the following commercial, for Audi:

Is this commercial cute and sexy, or is it sexist? Did she consent to the kiss, or not? Is the kiss romantic, or is it sexual battery?

Maybe this is an occupational hazard, but I immediately started crafting a back story for these characters - one that factored in where, exactly, a high school boy who doesn't have a date for the prom learned how to kiss like that.

What do you think? Sexy or sexist? Do these characters have a back story? What do you think happened at school the following Monday?

Award-winning author Tamara Hogan loathes cold and snow, but nonetheless lives in Minnesota with her partner Mark and two naughty cats. When she’s not telecommuting to Silicon Valley, she enjoys writing edgy urban fantasy romance with a sci-fi twist. A feral reader with an unapologetic television addiction, Tammy is forever on the lookout for the perfect black boots. Visit her on the web at

CHASE ME Buy Links: (Amz | BN | Sourcebooks | Powell’s | BAM | Sony |  Kobo | iBooks)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Top Ten Reasons to Read DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT By Kathryne Kennedy

Next month Sourcebooks will be re-releasing the second book in the Relics of Merlin series, Double Enchantment. It will be thrilling to see the new, gorgeous cover on the bookshelves! For a bit of fun, I’ve compiled a list of reasons you might want to read this historical fantasy romance story.

Top Ten Reasons to Read DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT

 Reason Number 10:
You enjoy historical romances sent in the Victorian era, and are looking for a bit of a magical twist on Merry Old England.

Reason Number 9: You enjoyed fairy tales as a child. Now it’s time to enjoy one written especially for grown-ups.

Reason Number 8: You’ve always longed to let the bad girl inside of you loose! And if not, you can at least enjoy the antics of the bad girl in my heroine.

Reason Number 7: You’ve always wondered what it would be like to live with a gnome. No? Well, now that I mention it, you just might be curious…

Reason Number 6: You’ve always longed to see London by moonlight. In DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, you'd have to add riding on the back of an enchanted stallion, walking through a garden of magical night-blooming flowers.

Reason Number 5: You’ve always thought it might be fun to have magical powers, but beware; you could be in for a surprise or two.

Reason Number 4: You’ve wondered what it would be like to make love in a Victorian bathtub. No? Hmm, perhaps you should.

Reason Number 3: You’ve always wanted to be rescued by a handsome man. Perhaps one with black hair and wicked blue eyes…

Reason Number 2: You thought it would be fun to attend an English flower show, with one of those frilly white hats and a lovely lace gown. Although in this magical London, the flowers are likely to be enchanted, and garden gnomes might run rampant, and if you’re not careful, the earth might open up and try to swallow you.

And the Number One Reason you should read Double Enchantment: Because you’re worth it! It’s time to treat yourself to an enchanting story, with a cup of hot chocolate in front of a warm fire, snuggled up in your favorite jammies, wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket, preferably while it rains or snows outside.

As Always,
Wishing You My Magical Best,

 PS. What's your favorite reading situation? Would you be in a warm bath instead of a comfy sofa? Do you enjoy hot tea instead of chocolate? Would it be on a tropical beach or a hammock in your back garden? I'd love to hear!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day + a Giveaway!

by Danielle Jackson

Happy Valentine’s Day! I thought I'd share some quotes about love from one of our favorite authors, Jane Austen! Be sure to read through to the end, enjoying the passages, and to enter our giveaway!

Sense and Sensibility – when Elinor finds out Edward isn’t married, and she can’t keep her emotions hidden any longer.
Elinor could sit it no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease. Edward, who had till then looked any where, rather than at her, saw her hurry away, and perhaps saw—or even heard—her emotion; for immediately afterwards he fell into a reverie, which no remarks, no inquiries, no affectionate address of Mrs. Dashwood could penetrate, and at last, without saying a word, quitted the room, and walked out towards the village, leaving the others in the greatest astonishment and perplexity on a change in his situation, so wonderful and so sudden—a perplexity which they had no means of lessening but by their own conjectures

Pride and Prejudice – Elizabeth asks Darcy when he first fell in love with her… and corrects him :)
“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.'”

“My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners–my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?'”

“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.”

“You may as well call it impertinence at once. It was very little less. The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them. Had you not been really amiable, you would have hated me for it; but in spite of the pains you took to disguise yourself, your feelings were always noble and just; and in your heart, you thoroughly despised the persons who so assiduously courted you. There–I have saved you the trouble of accounting for it; and really, all things considered, I begin to think it perfectly reasonable. To be sure, you knew no actual good of me—but nobody thinks of that when they fall in love.”

Mansfield Park – when Edmund finally realizes Fanny is the only one for him, and perhaps too good for him.
Even in the midst of his late infatuation, he had acknowledged Fanny’s mental superiority. What must be his sense of it now, therefore? She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing, and it was not possible that encouragement from her should be long wanting. Timid, anxious, doubting as she was, it was still impossible that such tenderness as hers should not, at times, hold out the strongest hope of success, though it remained for a later period to tell him the whole delightful and astonishing truth. His happiness in knowing himself to have been so long the beloved of such a heart, must have been great enough to warrant any strength of language in which he could clothe it to her or to himself; it must have been a delightful happiness. But there was happiness elsewhere which no description can reach. Let no one presume to give the feelings of a young woman on receiving the assurance of that affection of which she has scarcely allowed herself to entertain a hope.

Emma – when Mr. Knightley is jealous of Frank Churchill, and Emma doesn’t know why.
“You seem determined to think ill of him.”

“Me! Not at all,” replied Mr. Knightley, rather displeased; “I do not want to think ill of him. I should be as ready to acknowledge his merits as any other man; but I hear of none, except what are merely personal - that he is well-grown and good-looking, with smooth, plausible manners.”
“I will say no more about him,” cried Emma – “you turn everything to evil. We are both prejudiced! you against, I for him; and we have no chance of agreeing till he is really here.”

“Prejudiced! I am not prejudiced!”

“But I am very much, and without being at all ashamed of it. My love for Mr. and Mrs. Weston gives me a decided prejudice in his favor.”

“He is a person I never think of from one month’s end to another,” said Mr. Knightley, with a degree of vexation, which made Emma immediately talk of something else, though she could not comprehend why he should be angry.

Northanger Abbey – when Henry talks about Catherine’s brother’s relationship, only he’s really kind of outlining what he wants for theirs.
“My dear Miss Morland,” said Henry, “in this amiable solicitude for your brother’s comfort, may you not be a little mistaken? Are you not carried a little too far? Would he thank you, either on his own account or Miss Thorpe’s, for supposing that her affection, or at least her good behaviour, is only to be secured by her seeing nothing of Captain Tilney? Is he safe only in solitude? Or is her heart constant to him only when unsolicited by anyone else? He cannot think this — and you may be sure that he would not have you think it. I will not say, ‘Do not be uneasy,’ because I know that you are so, at this moment; but be as little uneasy as you can. You have no doubt of the mutual attachment of your brother and your friend; depend upon it, therefore, that real jealousy never can exist between them; depend upon it that no disagreement between them can be of any duration. Their hearts are open to each other, as neither heart can be to you; they know exactly what is required and what can be borne; and you may be certain that one will never tease the other beyond what is known to be pleasant.”

Persuasion – Captain Wentworth’s Letter… need I say more?
You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
F. W.

I have three copies of The Jane Austen Companion to Love (a book of quotations) up for grabs today! Just tell me in the comments who your favorite Austen couple is and why, and you’ll be entered to win. Authors, this one is open to you, too J US and Canada addresses only, and please leave an email address so I can reach you easily. Winners will be announced tomorrow, 2/15!