Saturday, August 31, 2013

I'm sharing some historical photographs today! By Kathryne Kennedy

My family and I visited the Phoenix Art Museum last weekend, and of course I headed for the European/American History exhibit right away. To my surprise, they had changed the rules to allow photographs of many of their displays, so I'm sharing the best of them with you all today. The art museum has a miniatures room, with glass cases of historically accurate rooms as they would appear in the nineteenth century (1800's), which of course includes my favorite Victorian era. Although the miniatures are such fun to study in person, the rooms actually look real in a photograph. I have a difficult time getting royalty-free pics for my blog and website, so I thought I'd share these with you all in case you'd like to use some yourself. You'll see some French designs, many European scenes, and some that are American. Enjoy!

And here's some photographs I took of some remarkable paintings:

Feel free to copy and paste! If you need better quality, email me at:, and I'll send you the jpeg of the photo. Even if you weren't looking for some website photos, I hope you enjoyed looking at all these great historical pictures just for the sheer pleasure of it!
My Magical Best,

Friday, August 30, 2013

The party's over... By Cheryl Brooks

Oh, wow... summer's just about gone. The kids are back in school and some leaves are already starting to fall. Book ten of my Cat Star Chronicle series, Rebel, won't be out until next July, and though I'm still getting reviews of book nine, Wildcat, which was released this past February, that's a long, long time between books.

Not that I haven't been busy this summer. I self-published a four-book contemporary erotic romance series called Unlikely Lovers, and I've done some traveling, including attendance at a few writer's conferences. As a result of those conferences, I'm suffering from goodie bag overload. I've already given away two of them, but I have one left, so flex your fingers and get ready to post a comment for your chance to win!

I put the bags together from the stuff you see here, and I included two of my Cat Star Chronicles books in each bag.

This bag filled with predominately contemporary books has yet to be won, so here are the rules!

For your chance to win, post a comment below. The winner will be chosen at random from comments on this and two other blogs, but you get extra chances for "liking" my Facebook Author Page and for signing up for my mailing list. To join the mailing list, send an email to and put Mailing List in the subject line. You also get an extra chance to win by following my personal blog: Cheryl Brooks Blog or by following me on Twitter.

Please include whether you "liked" my author page, signed up for the mailing list, or followed my blog or my tweets in your comment. If you've already done any of those things, that counts too, so please include that information in your comment.

The contest closes at 9PM EDT on Sunday, September 1st, and I'll announce the winner on Monday, September 2nd. Due to the size and weight of these bags, this contest is limited to US residents only.

Good luck and enjoy your Labor Day weekend!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fun with Research on GEEK GIRLS DON'T DATE DUKES

In only 5 days, GEEK GIRLS DON'T DATE DUKES will release. It seems unreal. I don't know if it was crazy fast or impossibly slow, but somehow, the time has passed and Leah and Avery will go out into the world to share their story with everyone!

It's definitely a trippy thing. I thought it was weird when I had one book in paperback, but now? You may as well toss me in the loony bin. ;)

I wanted to do something a little different with this book. I ADORE Regency romances, but sometimes they can be a bit predictable. Of course the beautiful young lady is going to fall for a handsome, titled gentleman, right? That's just how these things work! I know this, you guys know this, fans of Regencies all over the world know this.

Leah Ramsey knows this, so when she goes back in time, that's who she's convinced she's going to find.

Hurray for the unexpected!

I definitely got to delve a little deeper into the time period in this book than its' predecessor, THE GEEK GIRL AND THE SCANDALOUS EARL. Don't get me wrong, I still did tons of research, but this was into areas that I hadn't previously thought a lot about before. Two of them in particular - the day-to-day life of servants in the Regency period, and the history of boxing.

Servants had it pretty rough back then. Of course, since the advent of the wonderful Downton Abbey, there's been a lot more interest in historical servant life, but there still weren't a heck of a lot of resources to go by. I ended up finding a wonderful little book that detailed all the ins and outs of a servant's day, from the butler down to the scullery maid. Of course, since it was written in the 1800s, it was a bit tough and dry, but hey, the research is the research, right? From this book I recreated what I imagined would be the job of a brand new Under House Parlor Maid, and Leah had a brand new occupation. I will admit to watching an inordinate number of episodes of Upstairs Downstairs, more for the feeling than anything else.

Another supercool area I got to research for this book was the history of boxing. Pugilism was a very popular sport in this era (Gentleman Jackson's Saloon, anyone?) so having a hero who doubled as a fighter was an unexplored territory for me, and I ate it up.
I wove some of the history throughout Avery's pugilistic scenes, meshing fiction and fact together in a weird fries-with-that sort of combination. After all, I wanted the scenes to be authentic. So now I can tell you what the Fancy is, a knee man and a bottle man, and give you more about Regency boxing than  you ever wanted to know. 

Of course I'll come entertain at your dinner party!

I'll be honest, research intimidated me when I thought about having to write historical. I always swore I'd never write historical, and then I wrote a time travel, which I excused to myself by saying it was only HALF historical. And then I wrote another. And now I'm doing another, while mentally planning about six straight historicals in my head. 

Never say never, kids. Research is fun! 

Anybody done any interesting research lately? Let me know below! Oh, and make sure you enter the contest on Goodreads to win a signed ARC of GEEK GIRLS DON'T DATE DUKES. Time is running out! :)

And in case you're not a gambler, you can go ahead and pre-order GEEK GIRLS DON'T DATE DUKES on any of these fine sites:

Barnes &Noble
Discover a New Love

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Come to the Light Side

The paranormal genre doesn’t have to be dark. There are a myriad of zany opportunities for fun if you look at comedy the way I do. My #1 rule? Nothing is off limits. ANYthing …The crazier, the better…can be utilized to add comic relief or create downright laugh-out-loud humorous reads. That said, I’ll admit that editors don’t have the same rule. Yes, they’ll pull me back when I step out over the edge, but they do appreciate my skirting right along that edge. As Brenda Chin once said in a humor workshop, “I can take it out, but I can’t put it in.”
My best piece of advice for lightening the mood in a paranormal story? Don’t overlook the obvious!
Let’s take a moment to embrace the clichés. Think about Vampires. What does everyone “know” about vampires? A) They have fangs and drink blood, usually by puncturing the victim’s carotid artery. B) They’re nocturnal and sunlight burns them. C) They’re immortal until staked, beheaded or burned to a crisp. 

How about Shapeshifters? A) If they shift while fully dressed, their clothes won’t fit their new shape. They'll either explode out of them or get lost inside. B) When they shift back, they’ll be naked. C. They're long lived and hard to kill, but not immortal (at least in my mythology.

Ghosts are disembodied. They can see the physical world and comment on it like a fly on the wall, but unless they’ve learned telekinesis all they can do is talk smack.
And witches? A) They cast spells and can manipulate people or circumstances with magic. B) Some think they can fly on broomsticks. (That makes bicycle seats look comfortable!)
Greek and Roman Gods can manipulate people or circumstances with no more than a command. Apparently most are oversexed and none of them seem to get along.
Don’t be afraid to embarrass your characters! We find it hilarious because it’s not happening to us. We’re a little warped that way.
Are you seeing the possibilities here?
In my two Sourcebooks series, Strange Neighbors and its spin-off Flirting with Fangs, I have shapeshifters, vampires and witches—oh my! And who was everyone’s favorite character? The snarky ones who had opinions on everything, but nothing could be done to shut them up. In the Strange Neighbors trilogy, it was Chad the Ghost. In Flirting with Fangs, it’s Mother Nature. It’s even funnier if that character, who is either omnipotent or so powerful everyone’s afraid of them, has no filter.
Book 2 in the second series comes out this Tuesday, Sept 3rd. How to Date a Dragon is the first of my covers that looks totally serious, but don’t let it fool you. It’s probably the funniest of the three books in the Flirting with Fangs series.

The series I’m writing now is called the Cupcake Coven. I just finished book 1 and I have another book about 85% finished. The third book is already writing itself in my head, and if I don’t start jotting down some notes…well, you know how it is. I wouldn’t want you to miss any funny bits, so I’d better get to it.

You may be tempted by the dark, after all, they have cookies. But…come to the light. We have cupcakes!

Monday, August 26, 2013

10 Reasons to Date an MMA Fighter by Sarah Castille

MMA fighters are hot.

Don't believe me? Check out a few MMA websites, maybe watch a live event, drool over Georges St-Pierre's Facebook page (I do!). You will discover man candy abounds in the rings and cages of the MMA world.

And what better way to celebrate the September 3 release of my erotic MMA fighter romance, Against the Ropes, than by convincing you that fighters are not all hot, sweaty bodies and tight little shorts over toned **ahem** bottoms. They are serious professional athletes, consummate performers, and definitely worth a shot on the dating front.

So, without further adieu...

10 Reasons to Date an MMA Fighter

Warning: not for the faint of heart, persons under the age of 18 or anyone expecting a gratuitous reference to the infamous "rear naked choke hold".

1. For an MMA fighter, it's all about technique.

2. They know how to score from many positions.

3. MMA fighters always use the best protection.

4. "My boyfriend is an MMA fighter" works better than any other deterrent. 

5. MMA fighters are always happy to diet with you.

6. If he says he's in your corner, he means it.

7. A submission expert will have you tied up in no time.

8. MMA fighters will keep going until they are told to stop.

9. They don't mind performing in front of a mirror...or an audience.

10. They will mount and take the dominant position without being asked.

And your bonus reason: MMA fighters like nothing better than a good long ground and pound.

But wait! Don't run away to your local MMA gym yet. Just in case you can't find your own MMA hottie to warm your bed, may I suggest...Torment.

He scared me. He thrilled me. And after one touch, all I could think about was getting more...

Makayla never thought she'd set foot in an elite mixed martial arts club. But if anyone needs a medic on hand, it's these guys. Then again, at her first sight of the club's owner, she's the one feeling breathless.

The man they call Torment is all sleek muscle and restrained power. Whether it's in the ring or in the bedroom, he knows exactly when a soft touch is required and when to launch a full-on assault. He always knows just how far he can push. And he's about to tempt Makayla in ways she never imagined...

Against the Ropes will be released by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 3 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Test your creativity and share your own (PG-13) reason for dating an MMA fighter below.

Happy hunting (er...I mean reading).

Sarah Castille
Twitter @sarah_castille

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mixing Sam & Dean Winchester into a historical novel

Sometimes books flow easily, others are dragged from me thanks to massive doses of caffeine and chocolate. Mostly, my books come with a mixture of both with some scenes arriving fully formed, others being written and rewritten until my fingers bleed. (Actually, they usually become chocolate stained, but I digress...) What the Bride Wore was of the hard-fought variety. Perversely, I think it makes it one of my best books just because of the struggle. At the very beginning, the book's core had little to do with romance. I've been watching a lot of Supernatural and was very intrigued by the two brothers. Sam and Dean anyone?

So I wanted to write two brothers with a simple but profound difference in perspective. Will, the younger brother (and the hero of Winning the Bride) is like Dean in that it's all about doing the work. He doesn't say much, but his actions speak volumes.

Grant is the older brother (hero of What the Bride Wore) and is more cerebral. He thinks about appearances. He believes the populace must have a reason to respect the ruling aristocracy. His title means something to him even if he's spending more effort maintaining the illusion of nobility as he is in doing work to support the title. It's a delicate and frustrating balance for him.

Then life intervenes and these two brothers lose each other for five years. The results of that separation lead to the two stories I've written.

Notice I haven't even spoken about the romance? Yeah, that was the hard fought part of the books. The women not only had to challenge and compliment their heroes, but they also had to guide their heroes back toward each other. It was like writing three love stories in two books. Each couple, plus the brothers.

Quite the challenge, but I think I did it. Publisher's Weekly named What the Bride Wore one of their top 10 picks for the fall, so that gives me hope!

I should tell you about Irene and Grant. Naturally, Irene is the one woman who challenges all of Grant's more obnoxious aristocratic thoughts, but that's way too pat an answer. After I build the layered brotherly relationship, I found I needed an equally mature and textured romantic relationship. That's one of the reasons Irene is a widow who truly did love her now-dead husband. (Is anyone else tired of the abusive ex story line?) Grant has to work all the harder to convince her to give up the life she's built to join him in a new life. Change, after all, is one of the hardest things to do especially if life is rather comfortable where one is.

So there you go. Quite the departure from my usually flip and funny blogs, but I wanted to give you a taste of what these two books are like. Sure there's humor and hot sex too, but these books are surprisingly smart (even if I do say so myself!) I hope you enjoy them!

Friday, August 23, 2013

One Sweet Weekend

Last weekend I had a birthday.

This in itself wasn’t a surprise. My birthday, like that of most people, happens every year around pretty much the same time.

No, what surprised me—in an amazed and delighted way—was the variety of sweets involved. And my threshold for being surprised by sweets is pretty high, being descended as I am from a father who invented his own praline recipe and a grandfather who liked to consume four cookies with his midmorning coffee each day.

Here, take a look at the weekend’s bounty:

A friend and I escaped our kids for an afternoon and sampled these French macarons, made with almond flour and filled with ganache. The flavors, clockwise from top, are chocolate hazelnut (like Nutella, but handmade), chocolate orange, cherry lime, and coconut caramel. Being a fan of coconut, this last one was my favorite. That buttery dark caramel was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

These are Indian ladoo, made with besan (chickpea flour) and sugar syrup. Sort of like candied hush puppies, if you can imagine such a magical thing. Mr. R and I had a group of friends over last weekend, and several people who had never tried ladoo got to taste it for the first time.

You guys know what these are. We had these around when our friends were over, and what didn’t get eaten that evening was sent home with them as “party favors.”

Everything was delicious—and everything was shared with some of my favorite people in the world. That, more than any dessert, was the sweetest part of all.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate your birthday? And which would you choose out of the treats above?

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book. On September 3, she’ll begin a new historical romance trilogy with IT TAKES TWO TO TANGLE.

Twitter: @TheresaRomain

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Some Thoughts about Geography

by Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager
Sourcebooks Casablanca

Several times in the last few weeks I’ve found myself quoting a particular set of statistics to my authors, so I thought I would share the info here.

This comes from RWA’s website, from their data about romance readers.

38% of romance readers are located in the South

26% are in the Midwest

19% are in the West

17% are in the Northeast

This is really, really important to think about as you think about reaching your readers. The old saw “it won’t play in Peoria” has to be expanded to include maybe Savannah, Little Rock, and Louisville.

This doesn’t mean you have to locate your contemporary romances in the South or the Midwest, but it does mean you’ll want to be sensitive to your readers’ locations, local cultures, and sensibilities.


All best,
Deb Werksman

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Only the Best by Shana Galen

Have you ever watched that channel that shows nothing but movie trailers? Sometimes I catch my husband watching it between sporting events. It’s so funny to see trailers for movies five or even ten years old. The thing I love about trailers are that they tend to pull some of the best parts of the movie to reel us into wanting to see it. I thought I’d try that with this blog. I’ll show you my favorite lines from five chapters of The Spy Wore Blue: A Lord and Lady Spy novella and reel you in! And in breaking news, THE SPY WORE BLUE is only 99 cents right now. That's a matinee price!

Chapter One
But something went wrong. A sound startled her or the wind knocked her cloak in front of her eyes, and the pistol went off before she was ready. She swore, watching as the man fled. She was usually a much better shot. She did not know how she could have missed him. Blue would certainly have some criticism or other. But when she looked for him, he was gone. She heard a moan and looked down, then gasped when she saw Blue in a dark heap on the scarlet-stained snow.

Chapter Two
She’d really shot him, and bloody hell but it hurt. Blue had always thought Helena would be the death of him, but he thought she would hit him over the head with a wine bottle or stab him in the back. This—this—felt like a betrayal

Chapter Three
He was looking about her room, studying it, seeing God knew what in every little crevice. He turned, and she studied his broad back and slim waist. While her mind screamed that he was dangerous to her, her body screamed desire. Her lips tingled as she imagined tracing a light path down that muscled back with her mouth and tongue. She clutched the arm of the chair and made herself focus.

Chapter Four
And then his mouth was on hers, and it was as though the spark from a fire had leapt onto dry hay and ignited. Her whole body roared to life, consumed by heat and yearning and voracious desire. She dug her hands into his hair and pulled his mouth hard against hers. She felt as though she would die if he didn’t kiss her deeply, thoroughly, completely.

Chapter Five
Blue was never hasty. Never impulsive.
Except once.
He looked at Helena now, studying her furrowed brow as they sat over steaming bowls of soup at her table. He didn’t like that she was a target any more than she liked it, and judging from the worried look on her face, she hated her new position.

Which line is your favorite? One person who comments will win a copy of either Lord and Lady Spy or the upcoming True Spies. Winner’s choice!