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Showing posts from May, 2008

The Vacation I'll Never Forget

It was only four days, three nights, but when you win an all expenses paid vacation to a mountain lodge and spa, you’re sure not going to turn it down, are you? And my friends thought I was crazy for entering so many contests. Ha! It was in the hills above Los Angeles, a lovely four-story building that looked so warm and welcoming that I practically skipped as I followed the bellman to the front desk. I was treated like royalty being told I would have the Royalty Suite on the top floor and everything I required was included in my prize. The suite was of an elegance of a time gone by, but with the comfort not known back then. I ignored the large flat screen TV for the view from the room that showed the lights starting to twinkle in the city below. I stood on my balcony inhaling the fresh scents of the surrounding forest. Dinner was room service, food so succulent I moaned with delight and when my chocolate orgasm cake was served, well, let’s just say the cake was well named! When I was


Well, it’s my turn to blog, and I’m sitting here, staring at a blank page, not having the slightest idea what to write about. All writers face this problem from time to time, but sometimes you must produce even when you aren’t feeling romantic, witty, or even murderous. The truth is, I’m just plain tired! I’m writing this at the hospital because I don’t have time to do it at home this week, and I’ll be here again tomorrow night, probably checking vital signs on someone with a new pacemaker at the time this blog posts. These past few weeks have been a flurry of activity for me, some of it wonderful—for that, see last Sunday’s blog post on Wickedly Romantic—and some of it frustrating enough to drive anyone to drink. But on Saturday, my yearly vacation begins, and when my blog on Wickedly Romantic posts, I’ll be somewhere in Tennessee on my way to Myrtle Beach. Thank goodness I can post these things in advance! I’ve got a friend who fusses at me regularly for going back to the same

RWA for Lovers

I’m obsessed with the fact that I’m going to RWA at the end of July. OBSESSED. Just ask anyone in the PR department at Sourcebooks and they’ll tell you it’s all I can talk about. Traveling to San Francisco at the most idyllic time of year—check! Meeting some of my LOVELY authors?—yes please! Possible Fabio (or other cover model) sightings—you better believe it! But then I sat down one evening and took a gander at the conference schedule ( ) and oh my goodness—there’s so much stuff going on! Workshops for authors (including one all about breaking the rules—something I know all of you love to do!), “speed dating” with agents and publishers, spotlights on authors and publishers (Sourcebooks Casablanca will be spotlighted on Saturday, August 2nd) and so much more. I hope I can fit in as much as possible and let you all know what’s going on. I’ll be finalizing what I’ll be going to over the next few weeks, so I’m sure I’ll

Best Friends

In my books, my secondary characters are either family or best friends. Families are a hoot and a great way to exorcise your demons—but I’ll leave that little nugget for another blog. Today, I want to talk about best friends—my favorite characters to write. If a woman, in real life or in fiction, is interesting, she has an amazing best friend. You should know because you have one yourself. She’s the one who'll tell you when you’re acting stupid, threaten your boyfriend with castration if he hurts you, and call your big brother to beat up your ex after he hurts you. A true best friend won’t give you any undeserved poor babys. She’s your sounding board with a bullshit meter, and she’s the one person who will throw your past in your face and enjoy it. The problem with the heroine’s best friend, who  by definition is interesting and fun, is that she tends to take over the book because, like all best friends, she knows all our heroine’s secrets and isn’t afraid to use them. And, like an

Eustacia's Romance Corner

Eustacia’s Romance Corner is an advice column for heroines of all genres, wishing to seek romantic, compassionate and practical advice for their problems. This week’s letters express common enough conundrums, with which many romantic heroines may identify. Dear Eustacia: I am a romantic heroine of the regency era. Because my stunningly beautiful sister and I were orphaned years ago, I have devoted all my time and energy to ensuring that she marries well. Though I am also quite beautiful but in a more quiet and introspective way, I am cursed with wit, courage, and intelligence and an almost pathological dislike of every handsome man I’ve ever met. Thus, I have reached the horrifying age of 25 without marrying and am fated to spinsterhood. I am casually resigned, because of the aforementioned pathological dislike of handsome men and my spirited desire to retain my independence. Nevertheless I am shyly curious about sex. Are there support groups for women like me? Spi

Character Building

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy No, this isn’t a post about moral fortitude, increased spiritual awareness, or over-coming bad habits. I’m going to blog about something we fiction writers do all the time – build characters. Story and characters are like the old chicken and egg conundrum. Hard to say which comes first, but can’t have one without the other. And just like story lines, there are probably as many ways to create fictional characters as there are writers of them. I know some writers who do extensive character interviews. They have long lists of questions that ask everything from favorite color and mother’s maiden name, to first kiss, and they complete these for every main character before they ever write a word of story. Some use astrology or ennegrams or archetypes to zero in on characters’ personality traits (my heroine Rylie Powell is a Sagittarius, just like me). Still others “borrow” qualities from movies or real life. Quite a few writers have told me that the

Predicaments, Pickles, and Coitus Interruptus

By: Marie Force Anaphylactic shock, broken bones, bombings, hideous bridesmaid dresses, comas, car accidents, and love triangles. These are just a few of the predicaments I've created for my characters since I began writing fiction. However, with every character predicament comes a writer predicament—I got myself into this, now how do I get out? The (often sick) twists and turns of the writer's mind make our stories compelling and—hopefully—fun to read. Once I have a character firmly settled in a pickle, I feel guilty about leaving them stranded until I have time to tend to them. I'll wake up in the middle of the night, telling myself that I really MUST get character X out of the bushes she was blown into when her ex-husband bombed her car. Or character Y has to be getting a rash from that horrifying bridesmaid dress her cousin insisted she wear. But my all-time favorite predicament is one I refer to as coitus interruptus. With a full-time day job and two kids, I rarely hav

A Picture is Worth a 100,000 Words

By: Mary Margaret Daughtridge The art department at Sourcebooks is ready to start work on the cover of my next book, so they emailed me the other day to get my input. Fact is, until the last couple of years, I never paid much attention to covers. Now that I do, I’m noticing there’s a language in what is pictured. Like the metallic half-tones in which photographic images of a man and a woman seem to swim under the surface. That’s romantic suspense. Two Adirondack chairs in pale watercolor washes? Mainstream with romantic elements—likely to be sad. White on white or beige on white with tasteful gold accents—best selling writer. Could be lots of sex but if there are flowers in addition—well, it depends on the size of the flowers, and if they are embossed. Regardless, the story is about the crème de la crème. Dukes and suchlike. Then there are the clinch covers. The woman’s bountiful bosoms, the man’s rippling torso, clutched together in a position that looks as unlikely as it looks uncomf

Favorite Villains

The fun part of being a writer is that we get to write about bad guys. At first glance it would seem pretty simple. We just need a bad hat, as Madeline would say. Actually, to have a really good villain, you need to think just as much about his character, his background, his goals, and his motivations as you do about your hero and heroine. It is very important that your villain be a worthy opponent. Even their desire is bad for other people, they should believe that they are right and be able to justify it to themselves, otherwise they become two dimensional. You know the landlord tying the beautiful girl to the railway track and laughing. I think the scariest villains are those who outwardly seem the nicest, someone just like us except for that one little flaw that tips them over the edge. Who are some scary villains in movies? Norman Bates. I kinda felt sorry for the guy. What about Hannibal Lechter? He was pretty scary, but he was also clever and witty. And I hate to admit it, I

Wolves in Peril

I thought Linda's post about folks contacting her concerning story ideas was a pretty neat blog, so I wanted to share that I've had several emails from fans who wanted me to know about the fact wolves are being delisted--hunters can now shoot them because they're no longer on the endangered list in areas such as the Rocky Mountains, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana. Of course this impacts on my stories, because before this, wolves were protected in some areas, so my werewolves had immunity also, as long as hunters just didn't shoot them anyway for sport. But now in some areas, during hunting season, or not , werewolves can be targeted in their wolf suits. Oregon still hasn't delisted them, though hunters have shot and killed wolves there. When I lived in Oklahoma, hunters had exterminated the black bear. Then hunting of bear wasn't permitted. Arkansas didn't permit the hunting of bear so when their numbers increased, the bears got smart and moved to Oklahoma. We

How Does She Do That?

I have a t-shirt that reads "I live in my own little world, but that's okay, they know me here." Writers do live in a world of their own. It's how we create. How our characters pop up either whispering, or sometimes screaming "tell my story NOW!" Trust me, there's nothing crazier than your character telling you what to do. Over the years I keep getting asked, "where do your ideas come from?" A lot of them are "what ifs?" Some come from something that happened to a friend, reading an article or seeing something on TV. And sometimes, a character pops up and insists I tell their story. Sometimes they oblige and tell me their story outright, sometimes, they make me work for it. Not that all ideas work. It's easy to do the "what if" and sit down and draft the story, but that doesn't mean everything falls together. Jazz, my witch in 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover and Hex Appeal is such a case. I started her out one way, but I w

Deb Werksman, Casablanca Acquiring Editor

We are pleased today to welcome our acquiring editor, Deb Werksman, to the blog. Deb has agreed to answer your questions throughout the day, so fire away! She will answer as time permits. I LOVE MY AUTHORS! As an acquiring editor, I never have to face a blank piece of paper, so I have enormous admiration for what authors do. You create whole worlds in your imagination and then hone your craft to bring those worlds to fruition. And THEN! After all that writing, taking critiques, rewriting, editing, polishing, and against all odds we get together to get you published, THEN you have to do everything our PR and marketing departments ask for and everything you can think of to promote and sell your books. A more dedicated, devoted and committed group of people can't be found and it is my privilege to be your editor. The rest of this blog is going to be directed to authors who aren't "my" authors yet--how do you find me or how do I find you so that Sourcebooks Casablanca can

Honor, Courage, Commitment

I just had probably the most annoying trip in my history of taking trips—a delayed departure, a turbulent flight, rainy weather, the worst sinus infection EVER, my luggage on the return flight was searched through and about $40 of toiletries were confiscated…the last few days have been trying to say the very least (hence the delayed post). All of that complaining aside, I should explain where I went and why: my younger brother graduated from the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island. Next year he will begin his first year at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. My parents, my grandparents and I all took time out of our busy schedules to celebrate my brother’s honor, courage and commitment to his higher education and ultimately, to his country. If you can’t already tell, I’m extremely proud! Our homes are full of Navy Pride right now, and I’ve had some time to think about these three words that signify the Navy: honor, courage and commitment —and how they apply to my own lif

Growing Up Italian.

ROMEO, ROMEO and my next book, IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE HEAT... both take place in  Brooklyn, New York, and all but one of my characters are Italian so I thought I'd share what growing up Italian was like. I was the kind of Italian who didn't know I was American because I was born in America, I thought I was an Italian who was born in America--after all, my Great, Great Uncle, Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, was once the Prime Minister of Italy. I didn't know I was any different from any other kid because, like most Brooklyn Italians, I lived in an Italian neighborhood. We lived next door to Mrs. Romeo, across the street from Mr. & Mrs. Mistretta, and the love of my young life, Binny Chivoni, lived a couple of doors down. Everyone I knew was Italian. Once a week, my Nana would take me by the hand, drag her shopping cart behind her, and we'd walk to the outdoor market. I didn't step into a supermarket until I moved to New Jersey. Nanny and I would make the rounds v

Let Us Write of the Smooch

Love scenes are trickier to write than you might think! Sure, it seems like it should be a snap to write a passionate interlude. After all, you just spent all afternoon fantasizing about sex while you were supposed to be typing your boss’s dictation . . . or, um, some women might do that, anyway . . .the point is that some mysterious woman might have been fantasizing about sex when she was supposed to be working, and Dirk, if you’re reading this, keep in mind that those letters don’t actually have to be posted until Tuesday. Anyway, writing down these pervasive sexy thoughts should be easy for me. Her, I mean. But it takes a little finesse, which is why I have developed a how-to guide: “Writing the Serious Romantic Love Scene.” Part One. The Smooch Read the following sentence. Kiss A: “They French-kissed with enthusiasm, because they liked each other and it was enjoyable to do so.” Technically this sentence is correct, yet it does not assure us of the dead serious nature of romantic-no

Rule Bending and Other Feats

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy One of the things my Sourcebooks sisters and I quickly learned about each other is that when it comes to our writing, we don't always "play by the rules." Sometimes we've done it unintentionally, sometimes not. But we all agree that a wee bit of rule bending is what sets our Casablanca books apart and makes them memorable reads! When I started writing The Wild Sight , I purposefully decided to bend some "rules" just a little. One of the first decisions I made, even before I had a clue about my plot or characters was the setting. I had set my previous two romantic suspense stories in Italy, but this time I wanted to set the book in Ireland. Hmmm... I've seen and read lots of books set in Ireland, but I couldn't think of a single contemporary story set in Northern Ireland. They're all set in the Republic of Ireland. But the Ireland I am most familiar with is Northern Ireland. So I huffed and puffed and b

Adventures in Writing

By: Marie Force Writing is fun. Seriously. Sure, there's some suffering when the words won't come the way we wish they would. There are aspects of the business of writing that most writers don't enjoy—particularly the endless amounts of time we spend waiting. For something to happen. Anything to happen. I spend far more time worrying about the business side than I ever do about the writing. The writing is the bliss, the joy, the endless adventure. Since I started writing with the goal of publication four years ago, I've gotten to do some some fun things and met some great people as the result of this journey. My most recent adventure was a ride along with a police officer on a cold 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift in downtown Newport, RI, this past March. Now, Newport isn't New York City, but I found out that night that we have more than our share of crazies. I got to fly through town with the siren blaring and lights flashing, I participated in a car chase, and busted up a

Hurricanes Happen

Many readers love the little bits of SEAL lore that are dropped all the way through SEALed With A Kiss, and frequently ask about my research. Much credit for the authentic feel of SEALed With A Kiss goes to John Roat, and another former SEAL he introduced me to, Martin Strong. These two men gave me hours and hours of their time—without asking for anything in return. I checked and rechecked facts. I had nightmares that some missed factoid would trip me up, and ruin the reading experience for a reader. At one point I fretted to John that I just didn’t know enough. He replied, “Stop worrying. You already know more about SEALs than most people in the Navy do.” Because I had so much new information to keep track of in regard to SEALs, I decided to make the heroine and the setting something I could draw on my own experience for. Hence the teacher/therapist background for the heroine, Pickett, and a coastal North Carolina setting. I also thought, “Why not have a hurricane?” I’ve been through

Michele says, Put History in its Place

Because I write historicals, mostly Regencies, I am often asked about the amount of research I have to do for my books. I have heard other writers will say that they would love to write a historical, but they are scared off by the research or worse, by the thought of getting something wrong. I guess I have to own up to being a history geek. I mean I have even gone so far as to try to figure out if it is raining on a particular day. It is very tempting to sit surrounded by books looking for the answer to a question like, did men wear colored cravats? The answer is - yes. The most important thing is the story. The history is merely the setting. And we all know how much we like long paragraphs of description! So while knowing your setting is important, it is their everyday world. As a writer, you have to put yourself in their heads. If walking into your kitchen do you always take note of the brand and color of your toaster? Not. Then what would you notice when walking into a ballroom

The Best Laid Plans

Okay, ever have one of those days, which, since it's Monday, that accounts for some of it? The painters were supposed to be here this morning and last night, my daughter and I had to move my computer out of the dining room where I create all my great masterpieces. But, we couldn't get the Internet connection in the kitchen, or anywhere. First thing I do every morning is check my emails. But also, if I'm blogging, which I'm scheduled for the next 3 days, I do that also. But no Internet. Can we say WITHDRAWEL? So, I'm frantically calling the painters becuase I'm having this premonition that no one is coming. And I was right. I call both the head honcho's home phone number and his mobile. No answer. Finally get a hold of him and he says he sent me an email telling me that they were coming Wed instead. Which I never got. Is that all right? Noooo that is not all right! I've got stuff all over my kitchen from the laundry room and dining room including my compu

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

My poor mom. I went from an incredibly shy kid who’d jump if you said boo to a daughter who writes about things that go bump in the night and hauls out huge books about supernatural creatures. What I remember growing up was my mom encouraging me to use my imagination. On our fishing vacations, Dad and I would be out there with our poles and Mom would sit nearby with a book. She might not be in to fishing, but she was always hanging out with us oohing and ahhing over our catches. Mom is the oldest o f three girls and when World War II broke out, she enlisted in the marines, just barely squeaking by the height requirement and when the doctor told her a slightly curved spine would keep her out, she told him her father had no sons and she felt it was up to her. She got in and went to Cherry Point, NC where she worked in the motor pool. There’s my tiny red-haired mom getting all greasy and dirty and also on the bowling team. And to this day, she hears from friends she made there. She was on

I found him in the slave market on Orpheseus Prime....

Danielle's bird poop story is a tough act to follow, but here goes! For those who haven't met us yet, I'm Cheryl Brooks, a new author with Sourcebooks Casablanca, and that totally hot dude to the left is Cat! My first published novel is The Cat Star Chronicles: Slave. A native of Louisville, KY, I was transplanted to Indiana nineteen years ago and live on a farm with my husband, two sons, a dog, five cats, and five horses. I didn't start out as a writer—unless you count charting on patients or writing term papers in nursing school! I've been a critical care nurse since 1976 and an avid reader all my life, and romances have always interested me more than any other genre. I've always been a bit of a dreamer, and at the age of twelve, saw Star Trek and fell for Mr. Spock at first sight! Several years later, I went to see Star Wars and knew that the combination of romance and science fiction was something I wanted to see more of. However, if there was such a

Blisters, Bike Messengers and Bird Poop—Oh My!

It’s a little intimidating being the only non-author regular contributor—you all have such great stories about your inspiration and what made you start writing! But I do have a funny story about how my journey at Sourcebooks began. On the day I received the call to come in for my interview with Sourcebooks Publicity, I had quite the adventure… That morning, I had an interview for another job. I got ready, making sure I looked cute and professional. I decided to take the train because the job was downtown Chicago, so it wouldn’t be a far walk from the station. Well, I have no sense of direction and ended up walking about 6 blocks (6 city blocks = 1 mile) in the opposite direction. Like any distraught young lady, I called my dad and he told me to just catch a cab; there was no way I’d make it on time. I quickly found a cab and could feel the huge blisters forming on my feet. Enter my strangely talkative cab driver—he was incredibly jolly and had a lovely African accent. He wasn’t giving

Domestic gods...

Top Ten Reasons Why Women Love Domestic gods... 10.  Domestic gods know how to separate laundry and are man enough to buy and care for fine washables. 9.  Domestic gods like more their women, their cars, their vacuums, and their household cleaners. 8.  Domestic gods do manly things - like lift the couch with one hand to vacuum under it. 7.  Domestic gods don't question their sexuality - being a good cook and knowing how to clean doesn't make them effeminate. It makes them independent. 6.  A domestic god knows the way to a woman's heart is to show he's capable of killing bugs, scrubbing toilets, washing windows, keeping her well-fed and satisfied in bed. 5.  A domestic god knows there's nothing sexier than a man cleaning the bathtub for the woman in his life and then joining her in it. 4. Domestic gods don't expect their women to be a maid unless said woman is into playing dress-up. Then, they prefer the French variety - feather duster included.