Monday, September 30, 2013

Three Realizations and an Event!

Realization 1: I’m not getting any younger. Okay, so that’s an obvious one, but it’s important! You see, the horrible realization is that I may actually never be in better shape than I am now. OUCH! I mean, I’m not 5000 lbs or anything, but I’m not exactly in skinny jeans either. I work out regularly–even have a trainer/sadist–but the truth is, I’m 50 years old and very active. Odds are that I’m never going to get MORE active. I’ll never put in the effort to become a lean, mean, fighting machine. I’m more of a chunky, happy, occasionally aggressive middle aged woman.

Realization 2: I should never put off a dream if I can do it now. Well, that’s not exactly true. If I’m picking between two dreams, well then I have to prioritize, right? (Do I hang out with Joss Whedon or Johnny Depp? Hmmm) Sadly, that’s not today’s choice. Today’s dream goes like this: I’ve always wanted to compete on the national stage in racquetball. For those of you who don’t know, I was a pro racquetball player for 2 weeks (over a decade ago) when my knees gave up the ghost. I didn’t even finish the paperwork when I was sidelined. I was two years rehabbing and by the end, I’d gained 40 lbs, filled in all that empty training time with writing, and had sold my first book. So, I gave up pro athletics to become a novelist (and mother) and have never regretted that decision. But a little part of me wishes I’d played in a really, really big event.

By the way, if any of you want to look at the humorous side of suddenly losing athletics, check out my e-novella as Kathy Lyons One Night in the Spa. The heroine’s experience is based on my own. No, I didn’t do THAT in a spa, but I did experience the sudden surge of, um, hormones when suddenly sidelined. 

Realization 3: I can drive to Minneapolis, MN for the US Open this week. And I just turned in a manuscript, so I can take a week to celebrate! So you guessed it...

THE EVENT! I’m going to play in the US Open – Racquetball – in the 50+ women event. I’ll also be playing doubles with my friend who started this whole slide of realizations by pointing out realization number 1. Don’t bother looking for how I’m doing. First off, it doesn’t start until Tuesday, and second, I’ll be using my real name. And frankly, I want to hide how I’m doing because I’m afraid I’ll collapse in the first round. But I’ll make sure to tell you if it goes well!

Anyway, here’s my point: DON’T PUT IT OFF! It doesn’t matter if I’m going to feel like a waddling duck on the court, I’m going to go play. And damn it, I’m going to love it! So what dream have you been putting off until you feel better, until you lose weight, until something else happens? Can you do it now? Because you’re not getting any younger!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

My Favorite Unconventional Romance

Later this evening I'm going to watch HAROLD AND MAUDE with two friends who haven't seen it yet. I think it's one of the greatest films ever made and definitely made brilliant use of the "mis-matched couple" trope.

Here's the storyline from IMDB: "Self-destructive and needy but wealthy teenager Harold is obsessed with death and spends his leisure time attending funerals, watching the demolition of buildings, visiting junkyards, simulating suicides trying to get the attention of his indifferent, snobbish and egocentric mother, and having sessions with his psychologist. When Harold meets the anarchic seventy-nine-year-old Maude at a funeral, they become friends and the old lady discloses other perspectives of the cycle of life for him. Meanwhile, his mother enlists him in a dating service and tries to force him to join the army. On the day of Maude's eightieth birthday, Harold proposes to her but he finds the truth about life at the end of hers."

An older woman hooking up with a younger man is still generally seen as unconventional and in this case, Maude is MUCH older than Harold. However, it's not icky and actually works very well. Not only because they become the best of friends, but because Maude teaches him-and the audience- so much.

And that is what makes this love story so incredible, and believable. When two people share knowledge and experience, the emotional impact increases. 

Anyway, I highly recommend this movie to everyone. 

What are some of your favorite unconventional romances?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

No Christmas idea

Every year I set goals. For the past couple of years one of them has been to come up with a Christmas themed story. After three years I still have nothing. Zip. Nada. Not a hint of an idea.

I can get ideas from the weirdest of places. I was talking to a friend about good names for heroes and she mentioned her grandfather’s unusual name. I got a whole story in about 10 seconds. Mad scribbling ensued and the idea is pinned to my board.

The most recent ads for the Western Australian Opera were very inspirational (not that I’ve written that story yet either).

A conversation on a plane about ménages and what made them work or not (in our opinion) triggered another story (which is now on my pile to polish up).

However Christmas is eluding me. I see all the Christmas stories and the novella anthologies coming out. I like reading them. I love A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I loved the Doctor Who version with the flying fish in the fog (it’s awesome even if you don’t like Doctor Who). I love seeing my kids opening their presents, and I want to keep the magic alive for them for just one more year (I don’t like sweating through 100+ heat on Christmas day but that’s another blog).

I think I must have the Grinch in my imagination. That secretly inside I’m all bah humbug as I cannot think of a Christmas story.

But I’m stubborn. I refuse to take it off my list of goals. Maybe I just haven’t built the right paranormal world yet.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Let's Talk Casting!

by Julie Ann Walker

Admit it.  As readers we like to imagine we'd be called to take on the job of casting agent if the books we  devour were ever to be turned into movies.  We have a "vision" of the characters, and can't help but wonder which actor/actress would play them best. 

Well... with all the recent hubbub surrounding the revelations of who snagged the lead roles for the movie version of Fifty Shades of Grey, I couldn't help but do my own bit of what-iffing, wondering who I'd pick to play Wild Bill and Eve, the hero and heroine of my latest title, BORN WILD - due to hit shelves November 5th.  But as the author, I have strict requirements.  Of course, right?  These are the characters living inside MY head.  I must do them justice! *victorious arm raise* 

So, though my list of must-haves is small - only two items - it's precise.  Number one: they must have acting chops.  I like to think my characters are wonderfully deep and fantastically flawed, as, indeed, we all are, and my choice of actors must be able to adequately portray this depth on the big screen.  Number two: they must be an approximate physical match for the players I envisioned in my head while writing.  Make her a blonde instead of brunette, or make him short and muscular instead of long and lean and I'll never be able to watch the show.  

So, without further ado, I give you my choices for Wild Bill and Eve.

First off, Billy would be played by the ever-lovely, and incredibly sexy Francois Arnaud.  If you haven't been tuning in to Showtime's The Borgias, you're missing out. is delectation on two legs.  The hair.  The eyes.  The scruffy stubble.  *sigh*  He'd look good sporting leather and riding on the back of a tricked-out bike, wouldn't he?

As for Eve?  Well, look no further than the stunning Olivia Wilde.  Not only does her delicate beauty exemplify Eve Edens in my mind, but the woman can act.  Cowboys and Aliens, anybody?  Or how about the TV show House M.D.?  I think Olivia could bring just the right amount of sensitivity and kick-assedness (If that's not a word, it should be!) to the role to do Eve's character justice.         

Now it's your turn, dear readers.  Pick a character from one of your favorite novels and tell me which actor/actress you'd choose to play him/her!  

BORN WILD is available for pre-order through all major retailers!

Buy BORN WILD at Barnes&Noble

Buy BORN WILD at Amazon

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times bestselling author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission.  Visit her at  On Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.  Or Facebook at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Writing Romance (Or Anything Else) by Christy English

Many of the people who read this blog, and who read our novels, are also romance writers. Some Indie, some published traditionally, others still fighting to finish their first draft.I thought would put together some thoughts on how I do it, how I keep my work fresh, and how I fight to make romance come to life on the page.

So I ask the eternal question: How do you write a novel that you, and someday your readers, will love? It’s a tough question, especially in the early days when you’re still fighting just to get the words down on paper, when your characters are beginning to visit you and to take over your life.

Here are five rules I try to keep in mind when I am working on a romance. These five ideas help at every step of the way: first draft, third draft, even after I’ve gotten notes from my editor. These rules  keep the work fresh for me even after the sixth draft.

1)      Have fun

I know this sounds overly simple. But like so many simple things, it can actually be hard to do. Sometimes when you’re crafting a novel, you get so involved in building your plot and your characters that it starts to feel like work. That’s when it is best to take a break, take a step back, and ask yourself, what do I love about this book?

Joy in the writer= joy in the reader.

Image Courtesy of  Danilo Rizzuti /

2)      Love your characters

Your characters are some the best friends you’ll have as you work on the first draft of this book. When you’re in the trench of writing a novel, it’s just you and them, alone in a room (or at a table in a coffee shop.) No book gets written without your characters agreeing to talk to you. So let them talk, and take notes when they do. Trust yourself. If you can’t trust yourself at first, trust them. They know what they’re doing.

3)      Let your characters do what they want

Characters may do things you never expect. Correction: they will always do things you never expect. So let them do those things. Don’t edit them or judge them, at least not at first. Sit back, watch their antics, and keep typing. Their unexpected antics are the gifts our characters give to us. So, when in doubt, refer to the golden rule: if you’re having fun watching what your characters are doing, it’s very likely that your readers will, too.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images/

4)      When in doubt, make their lives hard.

Give your characters obstacles, and watch what they do to climb over them. Then write that down. I love my characters and I hate to watch them suffer. But to make a book good, they have to climb over those mountains to get to the man/woman they love. Build those mountains high.

5)      Stay in the chair

Ultimately, you have to stay in the chair. Even on those days when you don’t feel like working. Even on those days when the kids need sixteen things before breakfast, you owe it to yourself and to your work to sit down and write, even if only for ten minutes. Take what time you can. Even if it’s at dawn, or while the laundry is in the washer. Stay in the chair, and don’t give up. Your story, your voice is unique in the world. No one can tell your story but you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Merry Christmas Early! Ready for Some Hot Christmas Loving?

Who wouldn't want to have Christmas early??? Don't think of the shopping and all that entails, but about the holiday spirit and being wrapped up in the arms of a really hot guy!

The greatest thing is we have hot cowboys,  hot artists of a bygone era, hot sledding, and hot SEAL wolves to do it with. :) I mean, to share that special holiday with.

So yep, it's time for Christmas!!! Let's start with Carolyn Brown's The Cowboy's Christmas Baby. What couldn't be more special than having a baby at Christmas? Unless you hadn't expected to have one! :) A little extra cheer there!

A tough rancher who doesn't believe in miracles.
A pistol-totin' woman who's no angel.

Love that warms the coldest night.
After a year in Kuwait, Lucas Allen can't wait to get back to his ranch for Christmas and meet his gorgeous Internet pal in person.
When he pulls in, there's Natalie Clark right in his front yard with a pink pistol in her hand and a dead coyote at her feet.
Lucas is unfazed. But that a BABY in her arms?

 Buy links:

And then we have Grace Burrowes's lovely Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait! Now who wouldn't want to curl up in front of a fire with Elijah Harrison, a successful artist, and wait--they have to give up love or their dreams??? No, no, it's Christmas... and that means we have to find a happily ever after, right??? Yes! So check it out and discover how they can work this out, because they just HAVE to!

Lady Jenny's Christmas Portrait:

For Christmas, soft-spoken Lady Jenny Windham craves the freedom to pursue her artistic ambitions, though it will mean scandalizing her ducal parents and abandoning all hope of a family of her own. She confides her plans to successful artist Elijah Harrison when he's commissioned to paint a portrait of her small nephews, because assisting Elijah will bring Jenny that much closer to her heart's desire--won't it?
Elijah Harrison finds in his unlikely assistant not only an inspiring muse and unappreciated talent, but also a lovely and passionate woman. If Elijah supports Jenny's career, his own professional interests will suffer, but more significantly, he will lose Jenny forever. Both Jenny and Elijah must choose between true love and a lifelong dream.

Buy links:

Barnes and Noble


And we have  Juliana Stone's THE CHRISTMAS HE LOVED HER!

All he wants this Christmas is her.

In the small town of Crystal Lake, Christmas is a time for sledding, hot chocolate, and cozying up to the fire with those you love. For Jake Edwards, it’s also time to come home and face his past. He thought there would never be anything harder than losing his brother. Turns out there is: falling in love with his brother’s widow, Raine.

Ever since they were little, Jesse was the Edwards brother who was always there for her, and Jake was the one who knew just how to push her buttons. Raine can’t imagine a life without them, which is why it was doubly decimating when Jake left town after his brother’s sudden death. Now he’s back and she doesn’t know whether to be mad or thrilled. Maybe both. Maybe it will be the perfect chance for both of them to finally find happiness again

Finally, those hot SEALs are back with Terry Spear's A SEAL Wolf Christmas. First, they're running around in the jaguars' territory in the hot Amazon jungle, but once they've done their SEAL kind of mission, Bjornolf and Anna have another mystery to solve--A Christmas tree farm murder mystery. They don't have to deal with babies--not yet--but wolf teens, yes! And that can mean really big trouble as Silver Bells are ringing and the aroma of wassail and cinnamon is scenting the air during this special Christmas season.  

Can an Alpha Wolf Who's Met His Match...

Navy SEAL Bjornolf Jorgenson has had tough missions before, but going undercover with feisty gray wolf Anna Johnson could top the list. She drives him crazy—in more ways than one. Now he has to investigate a murder, supervise a wild teenage wolf—and handle Christmas with Anna.

Survive the Holidays with Her?

For Anna, the only thing worse than staging the perfect family Christmas is having to do it with Bjornolf posing as her husband. Anna is a serious undercover operative who isn't afraid of a fight, even with a hunky SEAL shifter. With a killer on the loose, Anna just wants to focus on their mission, but the one thing she can't fight is her sizzling chemistry with Bjornolf.

Buy links:
Barnes and Noble
Indie Bound
Powell's Books

So get comfy, it's time to read some sexy Christmas stories and dream of sugar plum heroes holding us tight. Are you ready?

Merry Christmas!!! A little early. Who says we can't have our dessert before the meal?

Photos taken by Terry Spear in Salado, Texas at Christmas last year. (Except for the covers, of course! And the revised photo of the romance reader who is loving her new gifts for Christmas, early!)


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Time Travel -while writing contemporaries

by M.L. "Matt" Buchman

One of the funny things that happened to me as a writer this last week is the amount of time travel I did. Now understand, that outside of the occasional science fiction and fantasy as Matthew Lieber Buchman, I only write tales set in the present day. I even try to make it as realistic as possible, other than changing President's names and so on.

Just to keep it more fun, I like my series to evolve in real time, or as close as I can get. So, I have to constantly keep track of not only my characters, but when the book will be released. And, I'm a hybrid author, which means some of my books enter the Sourcebooks production cycle for a year between authorship and release. The books I indie-publish are often available within days of being completed.

Therefore, as an author, I'm constantly time-traveling so that I'm in the correct time with each book. Sometimes that gets interesting, for example when one plot is planned, then a previously written but not yet released book is unexpectedly delayed. Keeping track of the timelines can be a jumble. Doing them all at once... Well, that was my last week.

In a single seven-day I:
1) Finished writing a Night Stalkers novel that will be coming out later next year, number 5 in the series. (occurs and releases 1 year in the future)
2) Had to write marketing information for the two books after that, which means I first had to think up their characters and then their stories. And they were in two different, but connected series, which keeps life interesting. (occurs 18 months and 2 years into the future)
3) I spent a few days on editor's notes, for the launch of my new Firehawk series, Pure Heat, due out in May. It is a world of heli-aviation wildfire fighters and is just too much fun. (occurs 7 months into the future)
4) Finished and published a Night Stalkers Christmas Romance, (just released, but occurs two months in the future, at the same time as the December 1 release of Take Over at Midnight which was originally planned for release and occurring in September. The delay of that book, drastically changed Peter's book.)
5) Just published my first audiobook, Frank's Independence Day (occurred 3 months ago, but was originally written and published 6 months ago)
Unabridged and read by the author in my new studio (a fixed up closet and a good microphone)
 6) just finished my next audiobook Daniel's Christmas which should be out next week. (occurred 9 months ago, but written 12 months ago)
7) I just started recording Peter's Christmas which is due out in audio by mid-October

Now, the real problem I'm facing as a widely time-traveling author? I'm starting on my next book, in my "Angelo's Hearth" contemporary romance series, and I have no idea when the heck I am! Anyone have any ideas? LOL!

Merry early Christmas!
M.L. "Matt"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Shine On, Harvest Moon: by Pamela Sherwood

September 19 marks this year's Mid-Autumn Festival. Held on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, during the full moon, this traditional Chinese festival celebrates a successful harvest, close family ties, and hopes for the future. Friends and family gather together to express thanks for their good fortune and (being only human) to pray for a little bit more, whether in conceptual or material form (wealth,  health, longevity, a spouse, children, a book contract . . . well, you get the idea!)

Lotus Seed Mooncake with Egg Yolk, photo by avlxyz

Chinese culture being what it is, food is, of course, involved. Particularly mooncakes--rich, dense pastries boasting a variety of fillings, including lotus paste, red bean paste, taro, nuts and seeds, ham, and candied melon. Some also contain yolks of salted duck eggs for additional richness, though those are something of an acquired taste! Insanely caloric, mooncakes are traditionally cut into pieces, distributed among a gathering of family and friends, and consumed while watching the full moon.  Quite a nice ritual as rituals go!

My family tends to celebrate the Moon Festival a bit sporadically.  Some years we remember, others we find ourselves so busy that the occasion slips our mind until it's past. The fact that it's a floating celebration that can occur in either September or October only adds to the confusion. This year, however, we remembered. So we set out over Labor Day weekend for the valley ranch market, where mooncakes could be found in great profusion. We bought two boxes, one with lotus paste filling, the other with 5-Ren--or kernel--filling.

But that wasn't all the ranch market had to offer. Its fish department boasted a wide selection of sushi-grade seafood--almost odorless, I noticed, which is generally a good sign. Tanks filled with live tilapia, catfish, lobsters, and crabs provided further evidence of freshness. Customers jonesing for seafood had their choice of frozen, fresh . . .

  . . . and very fresh!

Call me squeamish, but I prefer my fish to have stopped wriggling when I buy it! So I passed on the live crustaceans in favor of some dim sum, little Chinese dumplings with sweet or savory fillings.

No trip to the ranch market would be complete without a stop at Sam Woo's--the Chinese barbecue place a few doors down. Here you can find succulent spareribs and chashu (barbecued pork), golden soy-sauce chicken, roast duck, and even a side of roast pig, covered in rich brown crackling!

The moon festival might have been almost three weeks away, but why pass up the opportunity for a feast? Laden with groceries, including the all-important mooncakes, we headed back towards the west side, thrilled to have enough food to get us through the week.

So, now it lacks only twenty-four hours to make it official. Wishing all of you a happy,  harmonious, and prosperous Mid-Autumn Festival! May the moon smile upon you!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hang the covers...

I'm fortunate enough to have an office in my house. I'm lucky enough that I can call myself a full time writer which means I don't have to get dressed, do my hair and wear shoes every day.
And today I stand here before you all in my pajama bottoms, an oversized tee shirt and no shoes with a confession!
My name is Carolyn Brown. I have an addiction. I LOVE BOOK COVERS!

I love them in the bookstores. I love looking at them, touching them, drooling over them. It's the first thing that draws me to a book.

And I really get excited when the cover is one of my very own books. It's the icing on the cupcake for parking my butt in the chair and working long hours. It's a tough job dealing with all those sexy cowboys but I'm up to the task most days and when I get a cover for approval, it's worth every hour.

I remember the first time I got a book cover (in the snail mail in those days) for approval. I was in absolute awe, couldn't take my eyes off it, put it in a folder and showed it to anyone who'd stand still and look at it. Okay, okay, so I did chase a few people down Main Street in Davis, Oklahoma and held them at gunpoint. I didn't have bullets in my pistol so the deputy didn't take me to jail.

In those days I was writing under Abby Gray. I chose that name because Gray was my maiden name. I changed colors not names...and Abby was my one eyed black and white cat. It seemed a fitting name for a writer who planned to never let the public know that she was writing. But alas, my sister was so proud of my accomplishments and the fact that she didn't have to post bail money that she put a wonderful article about me and the book in three newspapers. The secret was out so when that line died and I went to another publishing house I just wrote under Carolyn Brown. And I still squealed every time I got a new cover in the mail.

Nowadays the covers come through email and I do I hold my breath while I wait for the mail to open? Hell, yeah, I do!

And as the cowboys keep arriving, do I swoon over some of them? Oh, yes, ma'am!

And do some of them look just like the cowboy that lived in my head for weeks and weeks? You betcha, they do!

 When I converted a bedroom into my office, I saw all those lovely blank walls and knew exactly what I'd do with them.

My office now had a is my Ego Room...and I've stopped chasing people down the street to make them look at my new covers. It's where all my cowboys, heroes and heroines and I have daily conversations. Yep, I hear voices in my head as well as have a cover addiction and I understand antibiotics will not cure either one!

And Sister was tickled pink because now she could spend those dollars she had tucked back inside her purse to bail me out of jail.

I won't hold a gun to your head but welcome to my Ego Room where sexy cowboys and fabulous heroes and sassy heroines, both historical and contemporary keep me company as I write.

A couple of weeks ago I got two covers in one day. The roof folks are coming next week to fix the damage but it was worth it. I'll share...drum roll please...not for the roof...for the new covers...matter of fact, I'll line them all up together since they're my women's fiction books!

Now that is enough to make an addict like me do the happy stomp dance no matter what the roof damage is! And I got new cowboy covers a few days after was Christmas in August, I'm here to tell you!
Do any of you have book cover addiction? Would you even care if there was a cure for it? Is the book cover the first thing that catches your eye in a book store? Comment and I'll put your name in the famous red boot for a chance at a signed copy of Billion Dollar Cowboy plus a lovely hand made bookmark that matches the book...Mr. Random will chose a name at ten o'clock tonight! Until then I'm back in my office working hard on another cowboy book...can't wait to see the cover!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Life is All About Change + Giveaway by C.H. Admirand

Life is all about change… and how we either adapt to change, or resist and be bulldozed in the process. Hmmm…not a very comforting opening to my blog, but well, there you have it. This has been a year of big changes for me both in my writing career and on the home-front. 

In February—maybe even on my birthday—I’m going to be a grandma again.  For those of you who follow me and have seen the adorable pics I’ve posted of our darling grandbaby, Jack (aka Jackie-boy or Handsome Jack) is going to be a big brother!

Here's Jackie-Boy watching his favorite movie--A Hard Day's Night--and yes he has a favorite song that he knows most of the words to. He calls it "Can't You See" aka "I Should Have Known Better." :)

Family always comes first with me, so my current writing projects were all put on the back burner while I spent my time between two houses, taking care of the mother-to-be and our darling grandbaby.  Now that she is in her second trimester, her vertigo and morning sickness have disappeared. Thank goodness! :)

While I was unable to write anything new, I was able to polish and re-edit my backlist and publish it for the first time in e-book and trade paperback format. It has been a whirlwind and so fabulous to still have this series in the top 20 Bestsellers at Amazon in Historical Western Romance. Fingers crossed that Readers who have enjoyed my historical western series will check out my contemporary western and small town romances with Sourcebooks. :)

I’m working on a new proposal for Sourcebooks, and yes, it is going to be a historical western. Please keep your fingers crossed, because it is a time period I have missed and love to write. :)

In December, WELCOME BACK TO APPLE GROVE—the last book in my Apple Grove series—will release. It’s my favorite so far, with firefighter Patrick Garahan (of the NYC Garahans, cousins to those Texas Garahans) falling for Grace Mulcahy.  I loved watching the big guy fall. *sigh*

Here’s the blurb:
She is about to discover just how hot it is to take things slow

Grace Mulcahy left her small hometown of Apple Grove to accept an offer for her dream job in Columbus, OH, but it isn't quite what she hoped. Maybe her family's handyman business wasn't so bad. On a quick trip back home, Grace sees an auburn-haired, broad-shouldered man laughing with her brothers-in-law. When her eyes lock with firefighter Pat Garahan, everything and everyone else blurs into the background. She could swear she sees her future reflected in his whiskey-colored eyes, but what about the new life she's trying to make on her own terms?

I have one ARC for WELCOME BACK TO APPLE GROVE left and will let pick a winner tonight. 

How do you find new authors? The recommendation of your friends, romance blogs, browsing on-line, reviews? 

Remember to leave your email address to be entered to win…

Happy Reading!