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Showing posts from February, 2009

United We Stand!

In praise of wolves and their fantasy counterpart, werewolves, here's a family of wolves howling for unity, for a pack gathering, for hunting, or comraderie. In Destiny of the Wolf , I wanted to show a pack together, just like the old rallying words, united we stand, divided we fall. And for wolf packs, they must work together to survive. The same with werewolf packs if they are to remain anynomous. So in Destiny of the Wolf, the gray wolf pack actually runs a town, although the human inhabitants don't know about the true nature of those who are in charge. In Heart of the Wolf , the werewolves lived amongst the humans, running their own businesses, but humans run the cities and towns. So I wanted to show what would happen if a lupus garou pack was in charge. Darien Silver is getting over the loss of his mate, when her near clone arrives on the scene, looking to find some answers as to why her sister died. One little red wolf's appearance turns Darien's life and his pa

Too Hot To Handle

My first book, Romeo, Romeo ended with a wedding but as you might remember, Nick and Rosalie, the happy couple, weren't the ones who planned to be married on that day. So when I wrote the second book in my Domestic Gods Series, naturally, I thought the poor, recently disengaged, Annabelle Ronalid. In Too Hot To Handle we find out that Annabelle Ronaldi doesn't have luck with men or marriage. Her first fiancé died and the second was almost murdered. Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, though if Annabelle had attempted to kill him, no jury of her peers would have convicted her. After all, she did catch her fiancé, Johnny the mortician, with the make-up lady’s skirt up doing the nasty next to the dead body of Mrs. Nunzio, God rest her soul. As you can imagine, Annabelle realized Johnny wasn’t much of a loss and probably would have thanked him if she hadn’t so busy putting a curse on a particularly small and soon-to-be useless body part. Everything worked out for the best,

Chumley Masticar’s 10 Rules for Dating

Hello, everyone! You may remember me (and how could you possibly forget me, I ask you) from my previous post where I introduced Reel and Erica from Judi Fennell’s debut novel, In Over Her Head , which is soon to hit stores and is available for pre-order with all fine internet vendors. I’ve been asked (by whom shall remain confidential) to share my tips on Mer dating. Specifically male Mer dating, or as you Humans like to call them: mermen. (Psst! They prefer Mer men. And birds are now asking to be called avians , of all things. Sheesh. Just don’t call me Late For Dinner and I’m a happy swimmer.) But I digress. Below I’ve listed my Top 10 Rules for dating. Learn them, live them, love them. 1) Stick to your own species. I’m not saying race, but s-p-e-c-i-e-s. That means, if you’ve got a dorsal fin, she better have a dorsal fin. If she’s got eight tentacles, you should at least be in the ballpark with six. Same thing for a Mer with legs. Being that there aren’t that many of you, go for a


By: Deb Werksman, Casablanca Acquiring Editor Hello, everyone. The pitch contest was FANTASTIC, I loved it! Thank you to all who participated and all who didn't. An extended list of winners was posted, so if you didn't see your name on the short list, please go back and check again (I believe the extended list was posted on 2/17). Of course, I have an open submissions policy, so if you're not on any winner's list, you can still submit to me (and some of you already have!) However, the value of the contest is to see: *which pitches caught my eye *which ones didn't For the most part, the ones that did had something unusual that grabbed me (think "HOOK!!!!!!!") and the ones that didn't either weren't clear, sharp and fresh in the writing, or seemed like something I've read before. Here's a quick update on the state of the category, subgenre by subgenre, very subjective in some ways, but hopefully informative. PARANORMAL: still the hottes

The Supreme Joy of Writing

There are at least a dozen reasons I could think of right off the top of my head for why I so love writing. And, more specifically, why I love writing this particular story: my saga of happily-ever-after revolving around the Darcys and their friends. I love the adventure of crafting words into paragraphs into chapters. I love the research into history. I love the thrill of inspiration and epiphany as scenes appear by magic into my head. I love the rush of pride when I read those scenes perfectly conveyed on paper. I love the challenge of overcoming the hurdles. I love dwelling with these characters I have created and given life. I love what they teach me about love and life and history. I love the professional accolades and confirmation for a job well done. And that is just scratching the surface. Yet, for me there is no doubt that the best part is when my written words touch someone. When I hear from a reader and they relate to me with great thankfulness how my story brought them joy

Dancing Queen

by Malena Lott You know the advice to never save your china for special occasions? And to not wait until your house is clean to have a party? And the one about not waiting 'til tomorrow to do what can be done today? Yeah...I'm workin' on that. As many of you know, I've been working on a Create Your Own Renaissance series over on my blog at The whole gist is that we'll not wait for great things to happen to us - we'll go for it. NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT.  So that got me to thinking about the lil things in life that I love to do, but don't do enough. Like dancing. Anytime, any place. And apparently, any music. My kids have started attending one of those big, high-tech, non-denom churches with the Christian rock music, big screens, donuts and prizes for things like learning your Bible verse. A far cry from the shhhh, let's be quiet and not shake your foot in church I grew up in. Thing is, I LET MY KIDS PICK THEIR CHURCH. In my own spiri

Happy Birthday, Mom!

My mom's birthday is always a special day in the Castle family. It should be, considering the number of years she spent making her three kids eat vegetables, driving us to various school activities in lousy weather, taking her life into her hands to wake me up on school days, and generally taking excellent care of her unruly brood. That includes Dad, by the way:-) I wanted to share her day with all of you today, though, not only because she's an awesome person who deserves it, but because I probably wouldn't be writing what I do if it weren't for her. See, my mom is the Original Romance Junkie. And I don't only owe her my existence...I probably owe her my career. Oh my God, I can already her her gloating out there somewhere. Yeah Mom, you were right. You always said I should write a book. Annoying, but you were right:-) My house was chock full o' romance for as long as I can remember. I know I've already told the story of my early reading revelation around h

My third novel is out???? Really???

Yep, there they are on the shelf at the Barnes & Noble in Fresno. Never been to Fresno, but my friend Sharon Lathan sent me this picture. She was amazed that I'd never taken a picture myself, but it's true. I never have. It isn't that I didn't have the opportunity; I just never thought of it. One of my favorite pictures of Marie Force is the one of her grinning from ear to ear next to Line of Scrimmage, so you'd think I'd have one of my own, but I don't. Perhaps it's because the idea of my books being on the shelf with all the others is still something I haven't quite grasped yet. I know they're there; I've seen them, signed them--even bought them--but it still seems like something that is happening to someone else. My friends are all great for publicity, which is a good thing, because I'm not much use as a self-promoter. By the time we left Nashville this past Wednesday morning, salesladies, guitar pickers, hotel employees, and a wai

Internetiquette Part Two

by Danielle Jackson So before I begin, I just want to say I have recently become OBSESSED with American ad artist JC Leyendecker. He’s often called “ America ’s Other Artist,” because he did many of the covers for the Saturday Evening Post , of which most associate with Normal Rockwell. Anyway, expect to see his art popping up in my posts for a bit. Now on with the post: A HUMONGOUS part of posting things to the internet included comments—whether it’s in a blog’s designate comment section, through a forum, a chatroom or in an email, comments is the most direct way that you, the authors, interact with us, the readers. Any guest blogs end with open ended questions for this purpose, and it is important to check back in on the guest blogs, to see what readers are saying, if they’ve asked any questions, and really, it’s a courteous and polite way to create relationships around the book blogging/reviewing community. However, what do you do when someone posts a negative revi

More Turkish Delight

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy Back in November, just before I left on my vacation to Turkey, I posted a picture of the hot springs at Pamukkale and promised to give an update when I returned. Well, the picture I found on the web didn't begin to give an impression of how vast and beautiful this site is! Here's one of the many picture's I took. Over thousands of years, the mineral content in the hot springs (large amounts of calcium) have left the entire mountainside covered in a sparkling white crust many feet thick. From a distance it looks like snow, or salt, or cotton. Pamukkale means "cotton castle" in Turkish. The hot springs have been used for thousands of years. The foundations of the ruined city now on the site were built by the Greeks in the time of Alexander the Great. The last city was Roman and constructed around 135 AD. The extensive baths those Romans built are still there and still in use today! Here's a piccie of Aunty standing by

Breaking the Rules

By: Marie Force One of the things I wanted to do with Love at First Flight was to give the expected romance formula a gentle shake. In the early chapters, you will see my hero and heroine with *gasp* other people. When I say with, I mean with . Are you with me? Good. ;-) When Michael and Juliana meet in the airport on their way to a weekend in Florida, he's engaged to Paige, and Juliana has been living with Jeremy for four of the ten years they've been together. Michael and Juliana are in committed relationships that they expect will go the distance. Neither can imagine on that Friday night how dramatically their lives are about to change. Over the course of the weekend, both relationships hit major speed bumps. So when Michael and Juliana meet up again on the flight back to Baltimore on Sunday evening, both are reeling and trying to process what's happened. As I was writing the book, I thought it was important that the two existing relationships end not because Michael and

I've been SEALed

by Mary Margret Daughtridge When I'm asked how I came to write SEALed With a Promise , I have to admit the first person who got “SEALed” with a promise was me. Like a true bad-boy hero, Caleb aka “Do-Lord” Dulaude did not behave well in our first encounters. He was only supposed to be Jax’s perceptive sidekick. Instead, he took SEALed With a Kiss hostage, and wouldn’t give it back!— until I wrote down the story of what he was before he was a SEAL. A trailer-trash kid who faked his IQ down, hid out in libraries between bootleg deliveries, and had only one moral yardstick—whatever took care of his mother. It took two weeks but when I was done, he still wouldn’t let me finish Jax’s story—not until I promised this SEAL his own HEA. Promising wasn’t hard. Do-Lord had touched my heart. Delivering on the promise was. I understood why he longed for a relationship like Jax had found, but a sweet-to-the-bone heroine like Pickett would be a disaster. I had in mind someone bright, sassy, sa

In My Judgement

by Mary Margret Daughtridge As the other Casababes and I have already discussed in this blog, the need to pitch, and pitch well, doesn’t go away once you’re published. In fact, it intensifies. It behooves us all to keep polishing our skills. As soon as she's approved one manuscript for publication, do you know what Deb wants? A pitch and synopsis for another book. Thank God she doesn't demand I cram it into 50 words or less, but trust me, she'll judge it by exactly the same standards as she judged the Casablanca Pitch contest. All my life I've been a teacher of one kind or another. I tend to view every experience as a lesson. I saw the contest as a wonderful teaching/learning opportunity for myself and everyone involved. I don't know about you, but I learn best by studying examples. Everyone got to see every entry, form their own opinion about how successful it was, and then to see which ones Deb picked. And for those of a competitive nature (and I’ll be the first t

Pitch Perfect!

Hi everyone and happy President’s Day! First, congratulations to the author of IN THE RED , Kelsey Browning , for winning the critique by Deb, and to the authors of DECODING DECEPTION (Julie J.) and HELLION’S HIGHLANDER (Renee) for their full requests from Deb. Please send your synopsis and full manuscript to . Because the contest rules said Deb would pick three, three names were announced, BUT, Deb couldn’t stop there. She was THRILLED with the pitches—so much that she wants to do this again—and she’d like to see MORE from the pitches we got. Yes, more!! We are thrilled for all our visitors who worked so hard to get their pitches down to 50 words and have won the chance to have their stories looked at. Deb would like a synopsis and full manuscript from the following people as well (send to ): A POCKET FULL OF ASHES , by Pat Shaw THE LIST: CAN PERFECT BE PUT ON PAPER?, by Carmen Shirkey She would also like the following peopl

Horace Sits Down With Stasi

Horace – “I really should be the one interviewed here because I’m totally hot. Oh yeah, who’s the gargoyle?” Sighs heavily and throws up his claws when more than one set of eyes glare at him. “Okay, okay.” The eight-inch gargoyle coughed into his claw and waved off the sheaf of papers held out to him. “I’ll just wing it.” Stasi – “Horace.” He ignored her warning. “Who’s the interviewer and who’s the interviewee here?” He looked around, frowned at the lack of cameras and returned to Stasi who lounged in a chair across from him. “Stasi, my love. We all know you’re one of the thirteen witches expelled from the Witches Academy in 1313 and now you own a lingerie boutique that also features romance novels.” He raised a stony eyebrow. “Very nice reading on those long winter nights, I might add. But you’re also in the middle of a lawsuit filed in Wizards Court and we all know those guys have no sense of humor. What are you going to do about that?” “What can I do but fight it?” Stasi groaned. “

My Funny Valentine

By Robin Kaye I’m a romance writer. I live, eat and breathe romance—especially when I’m on deadline. But in my life, I can’t say that Valentine’s Day has been anything but anti-climactical. (Is that a word? If it’s not, I choose to make it one. That’s one of the perks of being a writer.) When I was single, Valentine’s Day was the equivalent of a ticking time bomb. I felt extreme pressure to get a date, a boyfriend, and/or a love life. Once I did get one of the above, then I felt pressure to buy just the right gift and/or card. This was always tricky because it was dependent upon what stage the relationship was in on February 14th. Now, I don’t know about you, but my relationship stage knowledge was invariably flawed. Should I buy a card with the ‘L’ word on it? Should I get one about sex? Friendship? Or just go with the funny card to be safe? Then there was the whole gift question. How would he feel about a pair of white silk boxers with red lips all over them? Would he like flowers? C

It's My Party and I'll Laugh If I Want To

Today’s a special day for me. It’s my birthday. And for those who know me, you know that my birthday takes on National Holiday status. I start celebrating it a week in advance. I’ll tell anyone how old I am (44). I plan special things, like the mani/pedi just for me this morning and the Chinese food I’m having tonight for dinner. It’s all about me. But it’s not a selfish, look-at-me thing, though I do tend to pretend it is. I’ve always liked celebrating my birthday, in the days before the big 2-9. Back then you want to celebrate it – you’re young, probably haven’t had kids do a number on your figure yet, still have the rest of your life ahead of you. Then 2-9 hits, which is, of course, the precursor to The Big 3-0. All in caps. Everyone dreads 30. Why? I don’t know. I loved turning 30 – as much as I loved turning 15. And 22. And 44. Here’s why. Fourteen years ago a very good friend of mine who I worked with was diagnosed with lung cancer. She never smoked a day in her life, didn’t live

Things A Romance Needs

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy My local branch of the California Writers' Club (an organization founded in 1909 by Jack London) has asked me to speak at their February meeting. My topic? Why, writing a romance novel, of course! So as I was working on my presentation, I knew I'd need to distill a lot of information into a short timeframe for this group who write non-fiction and fiction in all lengths and genres. They want me to give them guidelines or a recipe for what to include in a romance novel. So here is my list of ingredients, things a romance novel needs: Three dimensional characters with believable goals and motivations. Not everyone has to be beautiful/handsome (in spite of what most covers show). Many romance novels have a less-than-perfect hero or heroine with any number of “undesirable” traits, and this can actually be a good thing. The reader needs to identify with the characters, feel sympathy/empathy for them, which might no

My Real-life Hero

by Malena Lott I'll admit I've always been in love with love. Crushes. First dates. First kisses. I love you's. What not to love about love, however fleeting?  I've been blessed in real-life with a really romantic guy. When we met at the University of Oklahoma, he was shy and charming and I was really caught up in my social life - particularly all that my sorority had to offer. My heart had been broken many, many times, which is an unfortunate side effect of dating a lot and falling in love probably too easily. When Rod and I became an item at the end of my junior year in college, I wasn't ready to settle down, but I was hopeful. When two guys from my past called me for a 4th of July dates that summer, I was thrilled I could tell them that I was dating someone new - someone I really liked.  We went to the Grand Canyon that summer and slept in a tent, something we haven't done since. But it was a great test of our relationship - all those hours in the car togethe

Unforgettable Characters

We've all met a few of them along the way: those characters who live on in our thoughts long after the story has ended, prompting us to wonder, however irrationally, what happened to them. As a reader, I've encountered a number, and going back to read their tales is like meeting up with old friends. For instance, I'm re-reading Stephen King's masterpiece The Stand right now, a book I've revisited every couple of years since discovering it in the sixth grade. His particular gift as an author, and one that has always inspired me, is to create characters who leap off the page and truly breathe. I have wondered about the eventual fates of Frannie, Stu Redman, and Tom Cullen for a long time, wishing I could check in on them. There's no way to know, of course. Stephen King himself probably doesn't even know. So I re-read their story and try to content myself with revisiting the places I, and they, have already been. And "Don't Fear the Reaper&quo

The Cat Star Chronicles: Rogue!

It's no secret now that the March releases have been released in February, and since I received my author's copies at about the same time, many of my friends are now in possession of a signed copy of Rogue . When my friend Natalie got hers, she read through half of it in one night, and last night, another quiet one in the ICU, she finished the other half. She was a big fan of Slave , but had a little trouble getting into Warrior , but this one, she really enjoyed. That's the odd thing about this series, when books are written in first person, either you like that person's voice and personality or you don't. My sisters both preferred Warrior to Slave , while other readers have devoured every installment. While this is just one more example of the old axiom that you can't please 'em all, Rogue offers something a bit more risky than that initial foray into erotic science fiction romance; it has a threesome. Only one scene, but while some people absolutely love

Note from Deb Werksman

For a few months now, I've been telling authors that I wasn't sure what the future will be of the Jane Austen sequel phenomenon. Therefore, I have been acquiring more carefully. While this is still true, it has come to my attention that people believe I think the phenomenon is ending, and it is absolutely NOT ending. I am still acquiring Jane Austen sequels, with great excitement. Please, if you have one and have been hesitating to send it to me, SEND IT! And, if you know someone who has one, same thing! Spread the word! Thank you!

What I Do...

Believe it or not, sometimes people do not believe I do what I do for a living. This is a subject I know I’ve brought up before with similar convo outlines: So what do you do? I’m a publicist for an independent book publisher… Actually I focus on romance novels. Like the ones at the grocery store? Or Borders and Barnes & Noble. Really? But what do you actually do? It’s always sort of a struggle when I get to this point in the conversation because it sounds kind of weird to say “I email people all day seeing if they want to review a book I’m the lead publicist for. And I also spend a good portion of my day researching new websites, new pitching ideas. Oh and I also schedule some interviews. And I also email back and forth with many of the authors all day—usually it has nothing to do with their books. Oh, and sometimes, I blog.” I could go on about all the things I do. Don’t even get me started about when people ask about the types of books I publicize. Take a recent convo I had wi

Romance in the Regency

Valentine’s Day and the celebration of lovers inherent within has been in existence in some form or another since the mid-1300s. I wrote an extensive research essay on the Saint and his ‘holiday’ on my website and here is the link if interested in dazzling someone with your superior intelligence: Who was St. Valentine? Valentine’s Day is so popular now that it is hard to imagine it wasn’t always around, but the truth is that the Victorians of the mid-1800s deserve the credit for launching a full-fledged card holiday. Therefore, since I write in the Regency Era, I didn’t make a big deal out of special romance between Darcy and Lizzy in February – at least not as reference to an obscure Catholic saint! But, since romance is fairly rampant throughout my historical novel, it wasn’t difficult to find a passage that was appropriately sentimental for the occasion. So, here is a small sample of how I approach the relationship between the Darcys…… Two days later Lizzy was awoken by the sen