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Showing posts from July, 2008

Hobbies Anyone?

Since so many are goofing off at!!! And I'm, I thought I'd post something not writing related. Besides writing, what kind of hobbies do we have? For me, I make award-winning teddy bears that have been featured in magazines including Texas Monthly, Texas Co-Op Monthly, The MacNeill Galley, Teddy Bear & Friends, Teddy Bear Review and numerous newspapers. The bears have sold all across the states, Canada, Russia, China, Switzerland, and as far away as Australia! 1950's Poodle Skirt Bear with pink sweater and felt skirt. Like creating stories, each bear is unique, having its own personality. And when someone buys it, it's the bear's face that draws them in. :) these were 16th Century German dressed bears created for an author's new book release. I make everything from Celtic Clan Bears, vampire bears and wizards to birth bears with names and birth dates embroidered on the paws. But one bear I've

RWA: Feast for Writers

Like bees to honey, RWA members (Romance Writers of America) travel to the hive each summer. This year the hive is San Francisco, and for me, the national conference feels like coming home - wherever home happens to be that summer. I, along with all the other writer bees, arrive for the big festivities beginning Wednesday. This is my fourth conference - I missed one so as not to leave my newborn. Otherwise, it's a Must Attend event. Now my only new babies are books. My first conference was in 2004. For new-bees, the conference experience is quite different than for pub-bees. I recall running into an Oklahoma author at the time who was a long-time pub-bee, and I asked her what workshops she was attending. She laughed and said, "Oh, I don't come for the workshops. It's a huge networking conference for me." I smiled, my huge highlighted workshop schedule in my bag, thinking, "when will it become a big networking event for me?" At the time, I had so much to

My TBR Pile...Of Doom!

Okay, so it's not exactly as scary as the Temple of Doom, but if my To Be Read pile gets a whole lot higher, it's going to do some serious damage if and when it finally topples and crushes me. I was thinking today (longingly) about what I'm going to do with my days once I'm off deadline and actually have free time again. I don't really remember what that's like right now (as I plug away at my computer at roughly 1 a.m.), but I'm sure I'll adjust. Anyway, one of the things I really want to do is tackle my towering pile of books and actually enjoy a story instead of trying to drag one, kicking and screaming, out my head to wrestle onto paper. I'm fairly fried on blogging ideas right now, for obvious reasons, but I did work up a little list of some of the books I plan on curling up with in fairly short order. Here are a few: 1. Goddess of the Rose, by P.C. Cast 2. Jewel of Atlantis by Gena Showalter (I've read the rest of the series, but not the fir

Revisions, Revisions, REVISIONS!!!!

Someone asked me the other day how long it takes to write a book, and I realized that I had absolutely no idea! What I did tell him was that, while I write pretty fast, a book is never written just once, but about ten or fifteen times! I just finished going through what I sincerely hope is the last version of Warrior and emailed the changes to Sourcebooks. It's a good thing I write what I enjoy reading, or by this time, I'd be sending my novels into cyberspace rather than publishing them. Our editor seemed to think it was better than Slave when I first sent it to her, but it's gone through so many changes since then, I'm not sure anymore. However, what I can tell you is that even after having read through it a million times, it didn't get boring. There are still parts that make me smile, some that make my heart beat a little faster, and others that give me goose bumps, so from my perspective, it's still a good story. Of course, what really matters is what th

I Read What?

by Danielle Jackson I’m going to make a confession right here on this blog—before I worked with romance authors, I never read romance books . EVER. I’m not even joking. Ok, actually I am joking (in the tiniest of wa ys). My mother, a lovely woman and quite possibly my favorite person on the PLANET, is OBSESSED with romance. Mainly contemporary, but she’s got quite a few historicals on her overflowing bookshelf. Little does she know, ever since I was about 12-years-old, I’ve been secretly stealing them and reading the saucy bits. So for all of the times I made fun of walkin g into her room while she was tearing up over a happy ending, I suppose I should bite my tongue and stop because I was more than li kely doing the same. I’m a reader—I read all the time and I am thrilled to have a job in publishing. And for the longest time, I read just about anything (all types of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essay s, critiques, you name it, I read it), but I steered clear of romance

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

This morning while I was trying to work toward the end of If You Can’t Stand The Heat… I remembered a conversation I had with a friend right after I finished Romeo, Romeo . We went to see a romantic comedy and after the movie, as the credits rolled, we dissected it. My friend thought the movie should have ended well before it did. He said that dragging out the ending was a fault he found in many books and movies, and then asked me, as a writer, why I thought that happened. I knew exactly why writers have a hard time ending their stories. We don’t want to lose the characters we’ve created, nurtured, and loved. Our characters become a huge part of a writer’s life. If we were to keep a relationship with our characters after the book was finished, we’d be considered insane. It’s as simple and as difficult as that. I’m closing in on the end of If You Can’t Stand The Heat… and I’m getting that familiar sense of loss that I get every time I end a book. I’ve spent the last six months in my

A Colorado Circus Kitten Comes to Kansas City

By Christina Harlin, with creative assistance from Jake C. Harlin We’ve had many special guest bloggers this month in the form of our beloved animal companions. In that spirit I did a virtual unearthing of this story I wrote for my son when he was eight. We adopted our cat Magic from the local shelter and made a game of wondering what adventures he’d experienced before he came into our lives. This story was the result of our combined imaginations. Forgive me this little bit of schmaltz. There are two important things to know about cats. The first is that all cats are gossips. They talk to each other about everything and everykitty, passing stories along so every cat in the world knows what’s happening to every other cat. The second is that each cat knows at least one magic trick. I know one orange tabby who makes people laugh, one white Persian who makes cookies disappear, and a very slinky Siamese who causes books to fall from shelves. Our kitten was born in Colorado, to a fam

The Quest for Readers

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy Writing is meant to be read. Whether by one pair of eyes or millions, the sheer act of committing words to paper (or cyberspace) demands the existence of someone to read them. Perhaps the only reader will be the same person who wrote the words, but a reader exists all the same. From an early age, I felt the compulsion to write, to give my thoughts form by transcribing them into words. To prove the existence of my thoughts by written expression was in fact, proving my own existence. I indulged in this private form of self-expression for years, and still do by keeping a journal. For now, it is enough that only I read the pages and pages of my thoughts, but maybe someday, long after I’m gone, some distant relative will read some of those pages. Or maybe not. However, somewhere along the line (I think it was in my teen years), I discovered the unique and wonderful concept of writing for an audience. Writing to entertain gave a whole new purpose to

The Surreal and The Sublime

Forty days from today, a book I wrote, a book that bears my name will hit the shelves of bookstores across the country. For a debut author, these last weeks before the launch date are filled with the surreal and the sublime. In the surreal category, thanks to a Google alert this morning, I found out I already have a fan in Australia. She won an IOU copy of "Line of Scrimmage" on the Romance Bandits Blog and wrote about how thrilled she was to have won that particular book, how she had checked out the except on my website, and can't wait to settle in with her copy. A fan in Australia! Surreal. Fellow Sourcebooks debut author Loucinda McGary and I recently had a chat about how crazy it is to imagine people we don't know reading our books. Up until now, no one has read our stuff unless we chose to give it to them. Now comes the phase where we have to accept that hopefully most of those unknown readers will love our books, and those who don't, well, we hope they stay

Chrystal Blue

Everyone has been bragging about their pets. Well, this is Chrystal. She's a blue tortoiseshell. She's not especially bright. She has no extraordinary talents or degree of charm. At night she comes into my bedroom to make sure I'm in bed. In the morning, she comes in for the same purpose. She can't do two things at once. Sometimes, she can't do one thing at once. She is, however, an excellent painting cat. Someday, when my back isn't to the deadline wall, I'll tell you how I came by her. For now, I'm hoping a painting is worth a thousand words.

Special People who Read Romance

First I want to announce a contest for readers. You will find it at the Toronto Romance Writer's website,, if the link doesn't work. There are books from amazing authors, including my new one The Lady Flees Her Lord , to be had for a very small effort. The contest will run for several months and the winner announced. Now back to why I love readers. Not just because they read books, or my books in particular, but because they are wonderful people. I want you to meet one of them. Her name is Kim Lowe and I met her on-line before I attended the Romantic Times Convention and in person at the Convention. She is a great supporter of the romance genre. She also loves to travel. And when she sent me an email about her trip to the West of Britain earlier this month, I asked her if I could put it on our blog. Kim is not only a reader and avid supporter of romance writers. She comes from a family with a military history and Kim does lots of work for the veter

What is in a Name?

John Wayne. Actor playing rough and tough cowboys, Army hero. Real name: Marion Morrison. Now how can anyone see him as a rough and tough anything with a name like Marion? Sickly, small Tiny Tim was perfect in Dicken's A Christmas Carol . Tim or Timothy gives the impression of being timid so having a hulking werewolf hero by that name wouldn't seem quite right. Or how about a smooth-talking vampire by the name of Harry? Oliver Twist seemed perfect for the little orphaned boy in the story because by a twist of fate his role is changed from one situation to another. So what is in a name? Quite a lot really. Some names have carried throughout the ages. I hadn't realized how early the name Jane was used...from Biblical times even. I was thinking more Regency era. But some names, like Terry, are definitely not old world. So using them in a historical would be strange, unless that individual was a time traveler to the past! Of course some names we might have an aversion to becaus

How Settings Enrich Our Books

I feel that setting is very important in a book. It gives it that extra bit of life when the right setting surrounds the characters.Many of my books have been set in real places, others I created a town just because it’s more fun that way and I can do whatever I want with it. Or I’ll use a general area for my own purposes. I love small town settings with eccentric characters, a place with history and an old feel to it. I wrote one Harlequin American Romance, Mommy Heiress, set it in a small Kansas town and created a town that had a little of everything. Here we have a wealthy Southern California debutante who’s been stripped of her credit cards and stuck in a small town. Total fish out of water and turned into a lot of fun to write. I also wrote a book set in Salem, MA where magic is hinted at and the heroine had an accused witch in her family history. It's also fun to make the setting out of a character's element and I've done that many times. I like to think the settings

The Mind of Your Story

Style & Voice: Markers of Greatness I recently reviewed The Mind of Your Story by Lisa Lenard-Cook, a hardcover writing craft book detailing how the brain creates Story for my book review site , and fortunately, you can teach an old dog new tricks. I may be a relatively new author, but I’ve been branding and marketing since big hair was in vogue. The book reminded me what’s so special about great writing and the mystery of creativity, whether that’s coming up with an idea for an ad campaign, a solution to a household problem or writing a novel. Basically Right Brain is the creative side while Left Brain tries to come up with all the logical reasons you aren’t creative. (Probably in annoying bullets.) Which is why a lot of editing takes place in Left Brain. The “new trick” or greater understanding I got from the book was the author’s view that stories come from three seeds: Direct personal impression (what you saw) + imagination (obsession) + writer’s resource of experiences (your

Bruno, Sitting In For Kendra

Hey, human playthings. What's up? I'm Bruno, and I'll be your guest blogger for today. Yeah, that's me in the picture. Don't hate me because I'm beautiful, okay? It takes long hours of relaxation to get a belly like mine. I know, I know. You wanna touch it, right? Everyone does. Lucky you, I'm into belly rubs. No poking, though. I still have my claws. The pet human chose wisely and let me keep those. Unlike some other things that I'd rather not talk about. So normally I don't blog, being that cat humor is a little too refined for you human types. Well, and also that my claws stick in the keyboard. But I took mercy on my pet, because she's starting to look a little rough these days, muttering about something called a deadline and writing in her pajamas all day. I mean, the leopard print pajamas show very good taste, don't get me wrong, but I really need her in top condition to feed me and rub my belly and hang out with me and,

A Dog's Life

Hi! My name is Chewbacca, aka Chewie. I’m guest blogging this week because my mom is busy working on a book. She puts lots of animals in her stories, and I’ve been in several of them myself. I was also a consultant on the one called Warrior . She says dog bloggers are very popular, but I wouldn't know. I’m a yellow Labrador of uncertain parentage who got thrown out of a car on a country road as a youngster. Guess my other family decided they didn’t want me anymore, though I’ve never really figured out why. Anyway, after getting run over by a car—which only smeared grease on my back—I decided the highway was not the best place to hang out, so I headed for the woods. It was fun at first, but it was hot and the bugs were biting, and I was so hungry! I roamed for a few weeks, having no idea where I was going. Most places I went, I got chased away. Nobody fed me. I found some food another dog had left, and he chased me off, too. I’d been a house dog and wasn’t used to fending for mysel

Literature Goes Hollywood!

By Danielle Jackson Have you ever thought about what makes certain books movie material? There are so many different adaptations of literature into film that convey so mething that was written into something visual—and you have to hand it to directors, producer and actors for their interpretations of various literary figures! There’s something about Jane Austen that has translated very well into film. Something we all know and love—romance—rings loud and clear both in her books and on the big screen. There are some great versions of Sense & Sensibility, Emma , and of course, Pride & Prejudice (don’t make me choose between the BBC/Colin Firth or the newer on with Keira Knightley!!). I wonder if it’s the fact that all of Austen’s beloved novels have witty banter, unforgettable characters, and an undeniably happy ending! Even most adventure films have some element of romance driving the core message. The Princess Bride , in my opinion, is a perfect blend between comedy (first an

Animals Are Real Characters…or is it Characters Are Real Animals?

The other day my three-legged Bengal cat Raja decided my desk was the purr-fect place to spend the afternoon, despite the clutter. While removing the cup of coffee, the previous night’s water, the laptop he thought was in his way, and the flotsam and jetsam that accumulates on the desk of a messy yet creative person, I thought about how much our pets add to our lives and the lives of our characters. Years ago, I had a dog named Clancy. She was a hundred fifty pound Black Lab/St. Bernard mix with a St. Bernard head and a Black Lab coat. Clancy was my baby before I had children, and when we did have kids, she was convinced they were her puppies. Every night she would check on each of the children, and sleep outside their bedrooms doors to make sure they stayed where they belonged. When my youngest was a baby and very ill, my four-year-old would beg to go across the street and play at the neighborhood park. I allowed him to go as long as Clancy was with him. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wat

Eustacia's Romance Corner

Eustacia’s Romance Corner is a column for romantic heroines of all genres, wishing to seek romantic, compassionate and practical advice for their problems. This week’s letters express similar conundrums, with which many romantic heroines may identify. Dear Eustacia: I am a maiden from a medieval world. My father is giving me in marriage to man old enough to be my grandfather to increase his land holdings. I am strong willed and want to choose a husband of my own, to love a knight in shining armor. Can you give me some advice? Helen Dear Helen: Marriage as real estate transaction is common to your time. Take heart. You may have recently noticed an extremely attractive, mysterious, brooding man enter your life. He may be associated with your father or with your betrothed. There is a good chance he will end up either escorting your caravan as you journey to your wedding, or kidnapping you from it (in an honorable way). Try to play it coy, but remember that he will evoke feelings y

And The Winner Is...

Pat! Congratulations! You have won an autographed copy of Beth Andrews' debut release Not Without Her Family ! Please email Beth with your mailing address info: Thank you Beth for sharing your story of your journey to publication. And thanks to everyone who stopped by and made Beth's visit so much fun!

Expect The Unexpected

by special guest blogger Beth Andrews Please join me in welcoming my friend and Romance Bandita Beth Andrews to our blog today as she shares a bit of her writing journey. Beth's debut release for Harlequin SuperRomance, Not Without Her Family hit the shelves in June and received a four star review from Romantic Times magazine! Beth will also have three more upcoming releases from SuperRomance in the coming months. Hello Casablanca Authors! I love dropping by your wonderful blog and not just because of your super sexy covers  (Although, I have to admit, the covers are a definite lure - they are gorgeous *g*) Thank you so much for having me here today and a special thanks to my fellow Romance Bandit, Aunty Cindy for the invitation. Although I’ve always loved to read, I didn’t always want to be an author. To be honest, the thought never crossed my mind until I had my first child. I really don’t remember what triggered my desire to write (Hormones? Lack of sleep? The extra 75--

And Now a Word from Susannah

By: Marie Force I'm pleased to welcome my guest today, Susannah Sanderson, wife of NFL superstar Ryan Sanderson— Susannah: Ex-wife . Don't forget the ex. My fiancé might be reading this. He hates when the media refers to me as Ryan's wife. Marie: My apologies. Ex-wife. Although, you're not technically his ex yet, are you? Susannah: No, ten more days and then I'm FREE! Marie: And that's what you really want? Susannah: It sure is. I've put up with a lot for more than ten years. I finally have the peaceful, calm life that I craved while living in the fishbowl with him. Marie: Isn't your new life kind of boring after all that excitement? Susannah: (thinks for a moment) I guess some days it is, but I prefer predictable to the roller coaster. Marie: Hmmm, I'd think it would be pretty hard to find a guy as magnetic—and let's face it, downright sexy—as Ryan. Susannah: Oh my God! You're a fan of his! I should've known. Marie: Not a fan, per se. L


Sometimes I don't have anything to say. Today is one of those days. These are some of my paintings. Mary Margret

Throwing Rocks

Laugh and the world laughs with you. Cry and you cry alone. That's true, right? It should be. After all none of us like listing to someone who whines all the time. We all just talked about needing a happy ending. But isn't bad news that sells newspapers? It's the same for novels. Bad news, or conflict on every page according to Donald Maas, is a must. It is what keeps a reader turning the pages. It is boring if everyone is happy, sad to say. I learned very early as a writer, as soon as everyone is happy, the story is over, epilogues excepted of course. Is it perhaps that other old truism. Misery loves company? That we are happy to see that other people have troubles worse than ours? I think it is that only more. We want to know that our hero and heroine deserve their happy ending, that it didn't just fall into their laps, but that they, like most of us, had to work for their success, whether defeating a villain or an earthquake or a bad decision. We want to know that

The End--Happily Ever After

Though I love posting my Sinfully Sexy Saturdays on Wickedly Romantic with hot hunks to feast your eyes on, the truth is, it's the hero and heroine coupled together that make the story!! Throughout the grueling conflict, throughout the heartaches and difficulty, it's the hero and heroine's struggle that makes the story worth reading. Their growth, their love for one another, and resolving the conflicts to give us that happily ever after--that after glow is what I love to read about. There's nothing better than finishing the story, and wishing I had another one of the author's books to jump into and begin delving through all the troubles that a new delicious hero and heroine manage to get themselves into. So yeah, it's fun having a sexy hero to drool over, but it's the heroine and hero's relationship that make it even sexier and the happily ever after that makes it a winner

The Countdown Begins

I realized this past week that Hex Appeal will be out in four months. Seems like quite a time, doesn’t it? But that comes down to about 16 weeks, 123 days. Wow! When I finished 50 Ways to Hex Your Lover I had planned on moving on to one of the other witches. Except Jazz let me know I wasn’t finished with her yet. That there was more to say. And who am I to argue with a 700+-year-old witch? So I took the story forward a few months and more problems popped up for her. You’d think after all her years in the mortal realm she’d know better, wouldn’t you? But Jazz being Jazz, it just doesn’t work that way. So now Jazz has nightmares. Nick’s sleep isn’t all that pleasant either. Irma’s making new demands just because she wants to. And Fluff and Puff? Well, they’re accused of the unthinkable. There Wereweasel that operates the Ferris wheel is missing and one of the bunny slippers coughed up one of his shirt buttons. They’re in magick bunny slipper jail and if they’re found guilty of this heino

Fireworks: The Secret of Sexual Tension

By Kendra Leigh Castle Happy Fourth of July, everyone! I hope you're all enjoying the day with friends and family and gorging yourselves on good barbecue. Freedom is always worth celebrating (speaking as someone who is making a living thanks to free speech!). And though it isn't perfect, America is a pretty amazing place to call home. So par-tay, people! Even though I've got a limited audience today, I thought I'd post about something both writing and July-Fourth-related: fireworks. Except I'm not talking about the kind that will singe your eyebrows off if you get too close. I'm talking about that main ingredient of romance novels everywhere: sexual tension. You know how it goes. Boy meets girl, boy and girl talk, girl thinks boy is an idiot (because boy does stupid things), boy and girl each secretly want to rip one another's clothes off and refuse to act on it so by the time they finally do it you are just DYING and possibly yelling at the characte