Friday, February 28, 2014

What Did You Get For Valentine's Day? By Kathryne Kennedy

It's not the cost of the gift that counts, it's the thought. And my dear husband knocked it out of the ball park this year. I have some favorite things: most anything sparkly, or sweet (especially chocolate) pink roses, peacocks, hummingbirds, velvet, lace and fairies. My passion for pink roses even made it onto my Christmas tree this year:


And I'm working on a light garden right outside my sliding glass door in my bedroom, which includes a hummingbird and fairy:


I have a ridiculous amount of peacocks decorating my vanity, and roses are starting to bloom all over my house (although I keep them mostly limited to the bedroom, and just a few other places around the house. I live with two other males, and try not to inundate them with my girlie stuff. I. Really. Do. Try.)

I'll do another blog post later about my favorite things, with some more photos. But in the meantime, given that you now know my tastes, can you guess what my husband gave me for Valentine's Day this year? It didn't cost much, and it was absolutely perfect:


That's right. A chocolate cupcake with an enormous pink rose on top! Am I a lucky girl, or what? And although it was almost too beautiful to eat...well, it was delicious. So what did you get for Valentine's Day this year? Or what was your most favorite gift, and who did you receive it from?

Hoping your day was as magical as mine,
Kathryne

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fun Facts about Wicked Little Secrets


Happy Thursday! We just have to hang in for one more day until the weekend.

Today I’m recycling a blog post that I wrote for the blog tour of my book Wicked Little Secrets. Unfortunately, it was never posted, so I’m putting it here. It’s just a listing of fun facts about Wicked Little Secrets. Enjoy!

1.The hero, Lord Dashiell, has a penchant for collecting ancient Greek and Roman goddesses.

Dashiell wasn’t concerned with Lily’s threatened throat, but the bust of his precious gray-eyed goddess Athena that Lily held over her head. “Lily, take several deep breaths and think about what you are doing. Three thousand years ago, some craftsman put his soul into creating Athena. The soil of Greece has preserved her all this time. Her history is far greater than this tiny misunderstanding.”
“How philosophical of you,” Lily said, a wicked grin spread over her mouth and she dropped Athena, letting the goddess of wisdom shatter on the floor.



2. The heroine’s name “Vivienne” appeared when MS Word auto-corrected my mistype of “Vivian.”

3. The story features many animals, including a disgruntled pug and a cockatoo that only says “I love you” and dislikes men. 

4.  I did a great deal of research on the names of Victorian medicines to come up with historically accurate names such as

Dr. Philpot’s Wonderful Nerve Tonic for Ailing and Suffering Ladies. Soothing Menses, Hysteria, and Other Female Complaints."



 5. I researched that Zulu shields were made from cowhide.

He snatched a black and white spotted Zulu shield from the stairwell and covered himself. “I… I didn’t know you were coming.” He tried to sound casual.
Meanwhile, Lily had seized a porcelain clock from the Chinese writing desk and hurled it at his temple. He raised his shield, and the timepiece bounced off cowhide and smashed on the railing, raining tiny metal parts onto the floor.

 6. The physical description of Angelica Fontaine, a villainous madam, was inspired by old theatrical and black and white movie photographs.


Gloria Swanson






7.  My friend read aloud the lines of cockney dialogue while I transcribed them. I read aloud the Irish dialogue.

8. The lewd caricatures in the book were based on illustrations by Regency artist Thomas Rowlandson.



9. I despise gun research, so I made my husband research all the guns and ancient weaponry in the story.

“Do you think I’m afraid of your gun? Woman, I’ve had a kris, zhanmadao, blunderbuss, basilisk, scimitar, and 24-barrel Belgian mariette pointed at me.”

10.     I had a blast tracking down old slang terms to write an amusing trial record for Old Bailey. 

Maxwell Cain: So Mrs. STONEGATE comes out and tells yon prisoner to hop the twig. Yon prisoner lugs the su-pouch’s strummel real hard. I tries to tip, but the dimber–mort gives me a floorer in the twiddle-dwiddles, and when I was down she wallups me in me lobb. So I—
Judge Bertis: Enough of this low, thievish cant.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------



It's Not Easy Being Good...
Vivacious Vivienne Taylor has finally won her family's approval by getting engaged to the wealthy and upright John Vandergrift. But when threatened by a vicious blackmail scheme, it is to her childhood friend that Vivienne turns; the deliciously wicked Viscount Dashiell.

When Being Wicked is so Much More Exciting...

Lord Dashiell promised himself long ago that his friendship with Vivienne would be the one relationship with a woman that he wouldn't ruin. He agrees to help her just to keep the little hothead safe, but soon finds that Vivienne has grown up to be very, very dangerous to all of Dash's best intentions.


You can learn more about Susanna Ives’ work at:





Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Two More Days...

By Cheryl Brooks

There was a time when saying the "B word" would get me yelled at by my fellow nurses. But I'm not working in a hospital anymore, so perhaps it's safe to say it now.

I'm bored. 

This condition is undoubtedly due to Seasonal Affective Disorder. I get it every year, but all the freakin' (feel free to substitute a different spelling of that word) snow and ice this winter has compounded the problem with worry about my youngest son as he drives back and forth to work and unholy levels of cabin fever to the point that I, like so many others, am about to lose what's left of my mind.


Not that I don't have books to write, but there are only so many hours I can spend at my desk without freezing solidly into that position. Season 3 of Sherlock was MUCH too brief and even Downton Abbey is finished for another year. The Olympics provided a momentary respite, but except for the occasional bobsledder in a skin-tight suit or a graceful lady in a sparkly skating costume, all the snow and ice in Sochi didn't take me very far from what's outside my window. Thank heaven for the start of the new season of The Voice earlier this week, which is the only sign of spring I've seen thus far. Unfortunately, with a predicted high of only 25 here today, there still aren't any crocuses coming up.

I tried a slightly different cure for the winter blues this year. Having paid the bills incurred during the Christmas season, I felt free to purchase some of the little things I've been thinking of buying for some time. Unfortunately, although I didn't buy anything terribly expensive (unless you count a new stove, the saga of which is chronicled here), those little things do tend to add up. As a result, getting the next round of credit card bills and bank statements canceled out what little joy there was in buying this lovely set of shelves to help diminish the clutter on my overcrowded kitchen counters. Although its assembly did help me kill an hour or so.


I designed and ordered bookmarks and business cards. I cleaned places in my house that hadn't been touched in years. I went through stacks of old books and weeded out the throwaways from the keepers. I formatted the remaining three books in my Unlikely Lovers series for CreateSpace, even though the cover art won't be ready for weeks. I made reservations for conferences (Hope to see everyone at the RAGT and RWA Nationals!) and decided in favor of Gatlinburg over Chicago for this summer's family vacation and made reservations for that. I cleaned out a drawer in an old desk that contained twenty-five-year-old pay stubs and burned them after being momentarily amazed that I took home roughly $350 a pay period back then and considered myself rich.

I cleaned out the refrigerator and then tried cooking my way out of the blues. Since I got my new stove, I've made bread and several other time-consuming recipes. But like the hours in a day, there are only so many cubic centimeters of space in my stomach. Tending the fire in the woodstove kept me busy until we ran out of firewood and had to rely solely on the furnace. I felt a momentary surge of hope as I watched the snow melt slightly, only to have those hopes dashed as more of it fell.

And still February lingered on.

But the end is finally in sight. In two more days, March will be here at last, along with the deadline for the first of my upcoming erotic contemporary cowboy series. Unless the power goes out due to an ice storm or one of the other horrors the winter of 2013-2014 has thrown at us, I should be sending it in on time.

If there's any snow or ice in the forecast for March, please don't tell me. I really don't want to know.

To celebrate the end (we hope!) of winter, I'm giving a free copy of Wildcat to one lucky commenter! 


For your chance to win, tell us what signs of spring you're most looking forward to!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's a Tough Job...

I've written more than a dozen books set during the Regency period, but each book poses different questions. Each book requires a bit of research. Some books require a lot of research. Fortunately, Sapphires Are an Earl's Best Friend didn't require the sort of tedious research some books do. I can't even complain too much because a lot of my research involved looking at sparkly jewels. Like this necklace I sent to the cover designers, hoping they'd use it on the cover.


As you can see, I think it did inspire the artists. The one they used is even prettier and more interesting, in my opinion.

At one point, I had to do a bit of research on sapphires themselves. I found out they come in many different colors, including pink!
And then there were the pretty people. Sometimes I like an image of my characters in my head, and I'd had these images of Lily and Darlington in my head from the very first book in the series. This is how I pictured Lily, who's a redhead and called The Countess of Charm.


But this picture of Darlington was my absolute favorite. I think the cover designers did a great job of capturing the idea I had of him in my mind. Tell me he doesn't look like a debauched Regency gentleman.
Of course, I had to do some real research. The series was inspired by a real life courtesan, who was actually an English spy during the French Revolution. Grace Dalrymple Elliott was a very famous courtesan in her day, who birthed an illegitimate daughter rumored to be the daughter of the Prince of Wales himself.


I had to do a bit of research on clothing, as I always do for each novel. At one point, Lily and Andrew go riding and I did look at a few riding habits in order to describe hers for the reader. Here's one illustration I consulted.


And another.
And if you're interested in how all of this research plays out in the novel? Pre-order it before February 28 (hurry!) and receive a free gift PLUS the exclusive, not-in-the-book epilogue.







 

Monday, February 24, 2014

"The end" (Or is it?)

Hey there, bibliophiles,

I'm in a great mood as I write this. I was just offered a contract for another book in the Flirting with Fangs series! And I thought the series was finished with my March release: Kissing with Fangs.


The reviewers have been very kind, and one of the more consistent comments is: "I'm sorry to see this series end." The same comments were made about the Strange Neighbors series. Well, apparently Sourcebooks was listening.

 But how do you 'unend' a series?

Well, here's what I did with the first one...I made a spin-off series. Fortunately, one of the original heroes had a twin brother. So, I started the new series with werewolf Nick in Flirting Under a Full Moon. I shifted the setting slightly (to keep it fresh) and introduced a whole new cast of characters.

 
I like to make all my books able to stand alone. I don't know about you, but picking up a book in the middle of a series has always driven me nuts. Cliffhangers drive me nuts. Yes, it probably makes readers buy more books to get the whole story, but I like to play nice with my readers.
 
Okay, so book two's hero is a shapeshifting dragon named Drake, who we meet briefly in book one. My editor loved How to Date a Dragon, and that may be why my new editor asked for more dragons.
 

Despite the serious looking cover, this is the same light paranormal romance that has become my brand. And, yes, it can stand alone. It flows into book three (see above--Kissing with Fangs.) If you, like me, must read a series in order, you won't be sorry you did.

So...I had the whole series all tied up in a neat bow. All the main characters were ready to live happily ever after. The end. Nope. Let's call book three the endish.

The plan is to bring both series full circle. New characters meet up with old, and they're back in the original setting...a Boston Brownstone on Beacon Street. I like that. By Sourcebooks calling in their option on a fourth book, I get to do this. I also get to change something in an earlier book that upset one reader enough that she wrote to me about it. Color me tickled pink that I can give her what she wanted.

Do we always listen to readers? When they take the time to write to me personally, I certainly do. One other request I heard from readers was "We want more covers like the Strange Neighbors series."


Well, I'm delighted to announce the upcoming release of my first Indie venture, The Cupcake Coven.
Tentative release date, May 5th.



It should be available at most online stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Trade paperback versions will be made available too.

Because I have more creative control going that way, I overcame my extreme fear and decided to become what's now called a "hybrid author." Part traditionally published, and part self-published. Self-publishing is a misnomer if you're like me and want to put out the very best product possible. You'll need lots of help. The only difference is you have to pay for it. I have help. Professional editing, cover design (to my specifications,) proofreading, formatting and distribution by people who know how to do that...basically everything my publisher would do--almost. I just have to promote it by myself. Not a problem. I did that when I was with an e-publisher.

So...wish me luck with all the writing and promoting, sweating and worrying... I hope readers respond to my funny witches as fervently as they've responded to my humorous vampires, werewolves and dragons. However, if they do I might never see the end of that series!

Have you ever had to 'unend' a series?

 
 
  



  

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Silence of the Wolf--Blog Tour

Tom's story is here!

Are you the baby of the family? A middle child who's just in the middle? The firstborn and in charge?
Even if the age differences are only by a few minutes?

Tom is the youngest of the triplet Silver brothers and fans have been waiting for his story forever.

The question was raised in the first two books, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf, as to which came first: red wolves or gray wolves. And so, I did some research to answer this question. I think that's one of the most fun things I get to do when I'm writing a book--research.

It's also fun for me to write about characters based on birth order. In the Heart of the Highland Wolf series, Duncan MacNeill is the baby, so he makes up for this by being a rough and gruff warrior. When he's on a mission, that's all he thinks about. In A Howl for a Highland Wolf, no way does he think a pretty she-wolf, sassy enough to wear a lot of silver, and single, is going to sidetrack him. His oldest brother, Ian, is ready to send Cearnach, the second oldest brother, to Grand Cayman Island to help him out. But he doesn't want that help. He can manage. He has to always prove himself to his older brothers. Guthrie, the third oldest brother is the typical middle brother--who does his job and gets a little lost in the dynamics of all the other brothers. But his turn is coming in A Highland Wolf Christmas, coming Oct 2014.

So now we have the triplet Silver brothers in Destiny of the Wolf pack fame. Darien is the eldest, pack leader and very much in charge. Jake is the next eldest brother and he's second in charge, though he mostly defers to the pack leader and is  the middle child in that respect. Tom does his job, is quieter, a bit like Guthrie, and yet he's stubborn too. He's a peacekeeper in the family, but when a she-wolf gets under his skin, his usual doing what his pack leader brother wants, turns into doing what the she-wolf wants.

Now... doesn't that make him the hottest and sweetest guy ever?  

Any alpha male that will do that is worth claiming. Tom. *sigh*

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7 Mar Book Hounds
10 Mar What’s on the Book Shelf
12 Mar Ramblings from This Chick
14 Mar Books n Kisses
17 Mar The Reading Cafe
18 Mar Maniac Manga’s Cafe
20 Mar Fresh Fiction
25 Mar Redheads Do it Better
27 Mar Bitten by Books
28 Mar Sia McKye’s Thoughts over Coffee
31 Mar Joyfully Reviewed


SILENCE OF THE WOLF BY TERRY SPEAR – IN STORES MARCH 2014

Life For the Silver Pack Just Got Wilder...
Elizabeth Wildwood has been a longer all her life, ostracized because of her "mixed" half-wolf, half-coyote blood. When she ventures into gray wolf territory on a dangerous quest of her own and his thrown together with the sexiest shifter she's ever met she begins to wish for the first time that she could be part of a family.

When this unusual shifter female comes into his pack's territory, it's Tom Silver's job to protect her—if only she would let him.

Praise for Silence of the Wolf:
“The outstanding and gripping plot of Spear’s latest installment in the Heart of the Wolf series will appeal to paranormal fans, and romance junkies will take delight in the red-hot love story embedded within.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and five medieval Highland historical romances. Her 2008 novel, Heart of the Wolf, was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year (romance category). A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Texas. For more information, please visit http://terryspear.com/

To purchase Silence of the Wolf:

  And more fun is on the horizon with the Silver Wolf pack.

Another book sale

This makes #16 in the popular werewolf series and we’re back to Silver Town and the Silver wolf pack in the Christmas adventure!

So are you ready for Tom's story? I have an autographed ARC copy for one lucky winner!

Just answer me this--which wolf do you think would be your choice? The oldest? A middle? The youngest? Or one of those "only" child wolves? And why?

Terry
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male!”
www.terryspear.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

Olympic Junkie

 
by Amanda Forester

I confess.  I'm addicted to the Olympics.  Even as I write this blog I'm watching the ladies' free skate.  Has anyone had that 'wish I was an Olympic figure skater' dream?  Or perhaps its near cousin, 'I wish I looked like an Olympic figure skater' dream! But alas, I will never jump or spin or pull my leg up over my head (so painful even to watch!).  And as for the skin-tight bedazzled outfits, that's just never going to happen.  (Pic: Yuna Kim by David Carmichael)

Despite my utter lack of athletic prowess, or perhaps because of it, I find myself glued to the television watching the games.  Lately, I have been fascinated by sports I only watch every four years when the Olympics come around.  From the skeleton to the downhill, ski jumping to freestyle, I am transfixed watching athletes do things that would kill the average mortal. 

I have tried to infect my family with Olympics fever, but they are stubbornly immune.  I get blank stares at the bobsled, yawns at the giant slalom, and outright snores at cross country skiing. And yet, I am undeterred. The only member of my family I have convinced to enjoy the games with me is kitten, who has a new game of attacking the skiers as they race down the hill.  Watch out Maze - fuzzy kitten is after you!

I am always amazed at the dedication is takes to be an Olympian.  Let's face it, I will never march in an opening ceremonies or compete for my country.  Yet I am still inspired by these athletes' amazing abilities and the years of hard work it took to get there.  The determination the athletes show makes me wonder what I could achieve if I put that same dedication into my writing? 

I'm not sure what being an Olympic writer would look like (I'm am very grateful writing does not require me to wear a skin-tight jumpsuit!), but I'm sure if I approached this endeavor with similar discipline, I could only improve.  So here's to doing what you love like an Olympian!  What are your 'go for the gold' passions in life?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Best Days

I don't have nearly enough of these!
What are you reading next?

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Good (and Sexy) Hero by Sarah Castille

What is a hero?

The dictionary definition suggests a hero (or heroine) is a person admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. By and large, the hero's status is achieved through outward facing actions, capable of being judged by others.

In other words, heroes don't always look like this (although it is nice when they do):



Heroes abound at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Canadian speed skater Gimore Junio gave up his spot in the 1000 metres to his team mate who had a better chance at winning a medal for the team. Canadian cross-country ski coach, Justin Wadsworth, himself a three-time Olympian, replaced the broken ski of a Russian skier he had never met because, as he put it, "I wanted him to have dignity as he crossed the finish line." US hockey player T.J. Oshie cemented his role as a hero when he modestly said, "The American heroes are wearing camo. That's not me."

By contrast, romantic heroes face an inward journey, a quest for self-fulfilment and an understanding of the emotional value of their experiences. They are mysterious and  unconventional, sometimes dangerous, and attractive to women who are drawn by their struggle with hidden conflicts or an unresolved secret in the past. But above all the romantic hero embodies the qualities of the traditional hero. He is prepared to put everything on the line for the heroine.

Ahhhhhh. Isn't that why we read romance after all?

In Your Corner, the second book in my sexy MMA erotic romance Against the Ropes series, features a hero on an inward journey. Jake is a fighter who has loved the same girl for two years, even though she broke his heart. When chance gives him the opportunity to rekindle his relationship, he must make the heroic journey of confronting his past and facing his fears to find the happiness he has been seeking all his life. He is a hero in the fight ring and a hero of the heart.

Also, he's pretty hot.


"You have to go. I won't be able to control myself. I've wanted you so bad for so long and after I've been in the cage...I can't think straight." 

He gives a guttural groan and his fist clenches on my hip. Primitive. Primal. His need speaks to me. I tighten my grip on his neck and rock up to kiss him. He takes over. His kiss is hard and demanding. 

"Mine." His voice is raw, savage and for a moment I truly believe he may lose control. 

He rules in the ring.

Two years ago, Jake and Amanda were going hot and heavy. But when Jake wanted more, Amanda walked away. Jake immersed himself in mixed martial arts, living life on the edge. But that didn't dull the pain of Amanda's rejection-until a chance encounter throws them together.

A high-powered lawyer, Amanda was a no-strings-attached kind of girl. But two years after her breakup with Jake, she still hasn't found anyone who gets her heart pumping the way he did. And then he shows up in her boardroom, hot as sin and needing help...

But can he rule her heart?

Jake is darker, sexier, and impossible to resist. As their chemistry builds, Amanda's not sure if she can stay in control, or if she's finally willing to let him claim her body and soul.

What are your ideal characteristics for a good romance hero?

Sarah xx

In Your Corner is now available for pre-order for Kindle or Nook or you can add it to your Goodreads TBR

If you would like to be informed of Sarah’s new releases and special offers sign up for her Newsletter

Connect with Sarah online: 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If Reading Were an Olympic Sport…Plus ARC Giveaway


For the first time, my young daughter (known online as Little Miss R) is old enough to follow and enjoy the Olympics. She has already told me she wants to learn luge, ice hockey, and "fancy skating"--her word for the figure skating and ice dancing.

Poor kid; she's got a klutz of a mother who can't identify at all with the desire to zoom down an ice track at 80 miles per hour. But if reading were an Olympic sport--now, that I might have a chance at. Imagine how this could go:

Short-track speed reading: when you pull out a book while you’re waiting in line at the post office.

Relay reading: loaning a favorite book to a friend.

Cross-country reading: taking books on the road. Always the best part of traveling!

What other book-related versions of Olympic sports can you think up? To one random commenter, I'll give a signed advance copy of my May historical romance, TO CHARM A NAUGHTY COUNTESS (which doesn’t include much reading, but does have a significant game of billiards). 

US mailing addresses only, please. I'll choose the winner at noon ET on Thursday, so check back!

*    *    *

CAN A RECLUSIVE DUKE…

Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause–after first refusing his suit.

WIN LONDON’S MOST POWERFUL COUNTESS?

Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael–her counterpart in an old scandal–returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart . But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.

*    *    *
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. 
Twitter: @TheresaRomain