Sunday, October 31, 2010

Revolution Giveaway! - Lee Hyat

Random House Children’s Books is publishing Jennifer Donnelly’s first young adult novel in six years since her L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult literature recipient, A Northern Light. Contemporary Brooklyn and the brutality of Revolutionary Paris converge seamlessly in her new novel, REVOLUTION (Delacorte Press / on sale October 12, 2010 / $17.99)—a breathtaking novel that weaves two girls’ stories into one remarkable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Donnelly’s passion for history and hands-on research shine brightly from the pages of REVOLUTION. Through Andi and Alexandrine, Donnelly explores the importance and power of art and music, takes on families in crisis, mental illness, and racial and class inequality.
REVOLUTION is a critical hit!

In a starred review, School Library Journal said, “Revolution is a sumptuous feast of a novel, rich in mood, character, and emotion.” In another starred review, Kirkus Reviews raved, “The novel is rich with detail, and both the Brooklyn and Paris settings provide important grounding for the haunting and beautifully told story.”

REVOLUTION is a hit with booksellers The novel has received incredible support from all channels!

REVOLUTION was #1 on the Autumn 2010 Kids' Indie Next List—"Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers.”

JENNIFER DONNELLY is the author of two adult novels, The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose, as well as well as the widely acclaimed, award-winning young adult novel A Northern Light, winner of Britain’s prestigious Carnegie Medal, the L.A. Times Book Prize for Young Adult literature, and a Michael L. Printz Honor Award.

We're giving away 3 ARCS for this fantastic novel!  For a chance to win, please send your full name and mailing address to and please mark the subject as 'Revolution'.  Winners will be contacted shortly after November 7th!  Good luck!

***Winners for the ARCS are as follows:
-- Git B. of OR
-- Margay R. of MA
-- Pamela P. of GA
Congratulations!  Your package will be in the mail ASAP!!***

Friday, October 29, 2010

Wearing Masks - Dara Girard

With Halloween just around the corner in the States I’m having fun promoting my new release PAGES OF PASSION because it’s premise fits into the theme of the season—dressing up and pretending to be someone else.

I’ve always enjoyed false identity stories:

Viola dressing like the twin brother Sebastian in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

The Pauper pretending to be the prince in Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.

Rosalind pretending to be a male in Shakespeare’s As You Like It

In The Comedie of Errors Shakespeare has two sets of twins cause havoc (hmmm seems The Bard liked that premise to)

I could go on and on. Changing identities can be a thrill but can also cause trouble.

That’s exactly what Noreen and Michael find out in my latest release. Originally, the story was called “Midnight Masquerade” because they meet at a party where Michael is dressed as a pirate and Noreen as a witch. Their disguises suit them more than they’d like to admit. They met on a cruise under false pretenses. Noreen thinks Michaels is just a casual traveler like her, when he’s really on a covert operation. Michael thinks Noreen’s involved in a smuggling ring.

I really enjoyed playing with their identities how people perceived them and how they saw themselves. It was lots of fun and thoroughly enjoyable for me.

So, have you ever found yourself playing someone else? Or, what was one of your favorite costumes you dared to wear on Halloween?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Electricity Question - Jessica Barksdale Inclán

I have been given and have purchased for my mother a product that has had two serious gaffes. My GPS and hers have generated a couple of emails from the company, and now comes news that the battery might burst into flame. Whoo-wee, that's something to think about while lost. Not only can't you find Cousin Robert's house but your car is on fire.

There is some kind of metaphor here, but I'm not sure what it was. Maybe it's about technology, but I love so many technological things, I don't even want to go there. there's no way (bad battery or not) that I can do without them. Maybe the metaphor about the journey--it's the journey not the destination? Maybe it's about how everything ends in flames, but I don't like that either.

So the bottom line is--my GPS is okay, hers is not. Her machine is going on a journey home, the post office guiding its way. Ironic, that. Maybe no metaphor, but we can have irony.

When Michael and I were in Spain and France for our honeymoon earlier this month, we rented a car and drove around. In order to do so without a map the size of the car, I downloaded Europe. Who knew that one could download Europe? It was a very long download, and the good news is that it worked. We navigated small Spanish towns, the French boarder, and the South of French coast, British-accented GPS telling us where to go the entire time.

We also brought with us several adpaters and converters for our stay. I needed my computer, thus, I needed a block that was like a brick. Of course, I also needed such things as phone and iPod chargers. My suitcase weighed a ton because of converters and such, but at least I was able to blow dry my hair.

I find it interesting that electricity speaks in different languages. Why the inability to communicate? Isn't electricity electricity? In any case, I was prepared for the language difficulty and nothing exploded during our stay.

My older son is here visiting, and all sorts of electrical appliances have popped up on the counter from their hiding spots. The tea kettle. The waffle iron. the blender. Who knew he needed so many things to exist? Also slightly involved was the microwave, though that's in the wall. He also plugs in his phone all over the place, and I find chargers in various locations.

The question is--can we live without juice? The answer is we need the right amount. Not too much (or things explode) and not too little (no tea or smooth hair). We need it when we travel and we need it when we have lost our way. We need it at night or when the skies turn dark and rain falls.

Just pray for no recalls.

(As a PS--I'm going to give away some books this month as I have another temporary overflow. Please write to me through my web site--click on my name below--and I'll send you a copy of Being With Him, the mass market version. Or, if you have a request, I can see if I can did up one of those. For US residents and the first ten respondants only.

I also have eight coupons for eight copies of my ebooks--Where I am Now, The Magic of Longing, The Tables of Joy, and The Perfect Lover. These I can offer to any reader, amnywhere. Please look at my ebooks on my site, tell me which you are interested, and if you write early and one is availabel--it's yours.)

Jessica Barksdale Inclan

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fangirl Weekend Coming Up! - Terri Brisbin

I just read Jennifer's post about seeking her inner zen and finding a middle-schooler there instead and it reminded me about this coming weekend. Oh, I am going to be the glamorous romance author, attending my local romance writers' conference, facilitating the published authors' retreat and meeting editors and agents, too. I'll be wearing my black pants and shoes (clearly a sign of being in professional mode!) and I'm even hunting down my missing lipstick to wear for the weekend.

But the real high point of this conference is when I can be a fangirl and gush over meeting some of my favorite authors! There's a bookfair at the end of the event that's open to the public and I have a list of must-see authors and must-have books. You see, a fact my husband has yet to grasp, authors don't stop being avid readers just because we begin writing. We love books, we love romances and we love reading them.

So, who am I going to try to this weekend? Well, there are going to be more than 60 authors signing at Saturday's bookfair and there throughout the weekend, so here's my plan:

First, I have to stop by and see fellow Harlequin Historical authors Jeannie Lin and Deb Marlowe and cheer on Jeannie on her debut book, BUTTERFLY SWORDS.

Then I have to find the others authors who I blog with over at Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills. I'm excited because 6 of us will be there -- can't wait to see Cindy Kirk, Katherine Garbera, Emily McKay, Robyn DeHart and Kathryn Smith.

And I have to make sure to chat with Brava Authors HelenKay Dimon, Diane Whiteside and Heidi Betts, too. Heidi is new to Brava after being named 'Queen of the Universe' in Harlequin land so it will be great to see her.

And, how could I resist all my favorite authors, especially when I have their books in my TBR pile? Madeline Hunter will be there, Miranda Neville, Pam Rosenthal, Claudia Dain, Julianne MacLean, Deborah Cooke (who is also Claire Delacroix!) and many more....I haven't even mentioned all my
NJRW author friends yet!

So, I am going to let my inner fangirl out this weekend -- what are you going to do to have some fun? I'll choose 2 people who comment and they'll each receive a copy of my brand new Brava release, A STORM OF PLEASURE, and another surprise book I'll pick up from one of my favorites at the bookfair.

Terri is thrilled to see her latest Brava book hit the shelves and to be seen on the B&N Nook's new 'More in Store' feature.
Please stop by my website for more info about my books, events and more at

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grandma and the Prince - Part 22 - Barbara Bretton

ATTENTION: We have a winner! PETITE, I need your mailing address ASAP so I can ship out your prizes. Email me by clicking here or writing to barbarabretton AT gmail DOT com and I'll get right on it.

And one more thing: SPUN BY SORCERY will hit the shelves right around Halloween and I can't think of a better book to curl up with in between trick or treaters. I hope you'll check it out.
I'm running a BIG contest at my website: the lucky winner will receive a shiny new Kindle! Click on contest, and make sure you enter.

Now let's get back to my grandfather's story. Last month he met Teddy Roosevelt.

This month he meets the love of his life. Enjoy!

* * * *

It was the lowest part of the Lower East Side. Two buildings face each other across
the narrow city street. They are mirror images. A small apartment in a brick
building with fire escapes at the living room windows.

They didn’t call it the Big Apple back in the early 1930s. It was just simply the
hub of the known universe. Certainly the hub of Grandpa’s.

Sometimes I think the term “long hot summer” was invented to describe the hell that is Manhattan in August. It’s a dangerous time. Tempers are short. Grievances multiply. Desires hide close to the surface. The orphan boy from Kansas, the World War I sailor, is now a New York City cop. He’s with the mounted force. He always knew his riding skills would come in handy someday.

He sits at the window late at night and watches life on the streets, counts the
windows of the apartment building across the way, notices the patterns of light and dark, the shadowy shapes behind the filmy curtains and wonders. He wonders about the small, dark-haired woman in the third floor apartment. He sees her moving about each night, back and forth, graceful movements in the warm night air.

That night he is sitting there in the darkness, watching the way the lit end of his
cigarette glows metallic red in the dark. He draws a circle in the air then
notices with a start that the dark-haired woman across the way is mimicking his
movements with her own glowing cigarette. He draws an X. She draws an X.
Squares. Figure 8s. Elongated ovals.

She is there the next night and the next. The fourth night he takes the plunge.
He climbs down his fire escape, strides across the street, and walks into her
building. He finds her apartment on the first try. She opens the door and smiles
up at him. I’m Larry, he says. She holds out her hand. I’m Margie. She invites
him in for a cold drink and the rest, as they say, is history.

Margie was the second of Grandpa’s five wives. She was also his favorite, the
one he lost to death and not divorce. My mother often said she believed their
lives would have been very different if Margie had been able to beat cancer.
This is Margie at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, not long before she died.

(Grandpa’s fifth and last wife, Bess, looked enough like Margie to be her twin sister.)

Margie was an interior decorator for the big department stores of the day. She
also decorated the homes of the big department store owners. Her career took off
not long after she met Grandpa and they soon found themselves living on the snooty upper East Side in a fancy one-step-below-the-penthouse apartment. Imagine how it felt for my mother, a child of divorce back in the days when divorce carried a terrible stigma for all concerned, to leave behind the farm and outhouse in Maryland and arrive a few hours later in Manhattan where she was met by a liveried driver in a big black limousine. “You’ll be living here now,” my grandfather said to her at the train station. “You won’t be going back to Maryland.”

My mother told me she cried when she heard that and Grandpa grew very angry with her. Why wasn’t she happy to live in splendor instead of poverty? What was the matter with his ten year old daughter? My mother didn’t care about the splendor. She missed her mother and her friends and the pets she’d left behind. She missed her old life.

Margie understood that, however, and she set out to shower my mother with what she really needed: love. Margie welcomed Grandpa’s only daughter and his two sons into her life with a full heart. She was everything you could have wished for in a mother.

I wish I could find my notes about Margie and Grandpa’s apartment. My
mother to
ld me about the lacquered hunter green walls and the sleek furniture. She remembered every candlestick, every sconce, every vase, and throw pillow. She said Margie always wrapped her presents in shiny white paper and tied them with red satin ribbons. One Christmas Mrs. Saks (of Saks Fifth Avenue) sent her driver to the apartment with a back seat filled with presents for Margie and her family. My mother would come home from school to find a stack of dresses piled high on her four-poster and a note from Margie: “Pick whatever you like! You can model for me when I come home from work.”
Which my mother went on to do for awhile before I was born.

This is a photo of Uncle Budd and Uncle Jimmy. You can see Grandpa reflected in
the mirror. Margie was the photographer. Notice the clock suspended from a heavy cord. That clock hangs today in my living room. The dragon candlesticks rest on my mantel. The samovar inspired my 2003 book, SHORE LIGHTS.

See this picture of their dining room? Notice the table if you will. That table
is upstairs right now in my office. You might not recognize it with the copier and stacks of paper on top of it, but it’s there. That table came into my life in 1971 and has supported sewing machines, typewriters, computers, printers, fax machines, and copiers. Not a day goes by when I don’t look at that table and think of the woman it first belonged to.

Margie was dead more than fifty years when my mother shared her story but the pain of loss was still evident on her face and in her voice. I listened to her talk about Margie with Grandpa in those months before his death and I thought I knew the depth of her love for her stepmother. Truth is, I hadn’t a clue. It wasn’t until Grandpa died that I learned just how much Mom loved Margie.

She loved her enough to keep her secrets.

Margie’s death from cancer was long and heartbreaking and it coincided with the darkest period in my grandfather's life. He was recovering from a terrible riding accident when Margie was diagnosed and was caught up in his own pain and loss. (His horse fell on him, crushing his pelvis and causing catastrophic damage.) The stress on both of them must have been unbearable and near the end Margie made a terrible mistake. My mother was around sixteen at the time. She came home from school early one day and found a man in Margie’s bed. The bed she shared with Grandpa. The man was Margie’s first husband. My mother was shocked and she ran crying to her room. Margie slipped into a robe and followed her. I don’t know
exactly what she said to my mother but I do know she shouldered the blame herself.

She never asked my mother to lie for her. She never asked anything at all of my
mother except for love. Whatever you do, Margie said, I’ll understand.

Grandpa never knew of the incident. My mother held onto that secret until his

And now you know too.

* * *

How about another contest? Leave a comment below and you'll be automatically entered to win signed books and maybe a surprise or two. The winner will be announced next month.

And don't forget to visit my website and enter the Kindle contest. Good luck!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Relax Your What?! - Jenny Gardiner

Sometimes I’m startled that I am as old as I am. Because despite the maturity that comes with age, I can’t help but occasionally revert back to juvenile middle-school behavior that I’d thought I’d outgrown.

In my attempt to be mature and worldly, I enrolled a few years ago in my first yoga class. I needed to learn how to chill out a little bit, and figured being in touch with my inner Zen would help to center my balance, achieve yin-yang, and maybe I’d get a little feng-shui thrown in for good measure.

It was great. First class, I learned my sun salutation, stretched limbs so tight from lack of use that they deserved to snap like tree branches. My instructor, a former type-A New Yorker-turned-Yogaville devotee whose chosen Yoga name, Suraya, more closely resembled that of an Indian guru than someone from the Bronx, was very serene. His soothing voice tranquilized even the tensest of class members: me. In his calm coaxing tone, he encouraged us to rid our minds of any pollutants, to focus on our center, and be at peace within. Fine, I was on the same page at this point. I’d really started feeling that I could change, become a woman unfettered by the stresses of life.

The final fifteen minutes of class were devoted to complete relaxation. Cool, I thought. That is right up my Type-A alley. We all lay on the floor, eyes closed, focused on our own inner universe. The mesmerizing music on the boom box washed over me as Suraya talked us through letting go of whatever tensions remained. He began with the toes, worked his way up ever so gradually to calves, knees, thighs.

And then came the clincher.

“Relax your anal sphincter,” he said, as serious as an executioner, not even remotely cracking a smile.

What? That’s impossible. First of all, It defies the laws of nature. And secondly, even if we could, just think how nasty that would be! We can’t do that, I thought. Like a naughty kindergartener whose head is supposed to be face down on the desk during naptime, I snuck glances all around me. No one but me thought that was the funniest line ever uttered.

I could feel my laughter erupting, and from my unrelaxed belly it rose. I tried desperately to suppress it, but it was of no use. I cackled so loudly that the entire class opened their once-relaxed eyelids and glared directly at me. Even Suraya looked a bit uptight.

As the class drew to a close, the peaceful silence destroyed, I slunk from the room, somewhat embarrassed at my level of immaturity. But I actually felt more relaxed, having belted out a good chuckle.

Yes, I realize I have gone from middle school to middle age, but isn’t it nice to know that you don’t always have to totally grow up?

I read recently about a new yoga craze: hot nude yoga. Please, dear Lord, let's hope Suraya's not teaching that one.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tick, tick, tick goes the clock... - Natalie Anderson

October is a fantastic month in our house - of the six of us, four have our birthdays. We're halfway through - two down, two to go (including mine). I'm in the midst of organising my eldest daughter's first sleepover party - it's going to be such fun!

Added to that bunch of excitement, it is four years ago this week that I got the 'Call' from my editor saying she wanted to buy my book. I can't believe it's four years already - and somehow I've written 16 books. I look back on this time and to be honest it's all a bit of a blur. But the one thing I do know is that these anniversaries and birthdays just seem to be coming faster and faster. Uh oh - time really does speed up the older you get doesn't it?!

Knowing that makes me want to seize what time I do have and make the most of it. As my little twins are now 'big' preschoolers I want it to slow a little ... and I am so grateful to my husband for taking a zillion one-minute-movies with our camera so I can be reminded of so many little things that are so easy to forget. And I simply must write down all the funny little things they say (like the 'I Spy' game we played the other day and one of my just-turned-four year olds said "I spy with my little eye something beginning with two letters: three and four...").

Much of my time is spent looking forwards - I'm always planning or organising, every so often it's good to stop, turn around and look back and say 'well hey, wasn't that fun?' (And occasionally, 'phew, I'm glad that bit is over'). I don't think we take those reflective moments often enough, especially when life is mad, frantic busy and you're running just to keep up. So birthdays and anniversaries are great things to make us stop and celebrate :)
Of course, I'm such an addictive planner, here I am planning to pause!

Is time speeding up for you too? Got any tricks to start to slow it down? Do you like to use birthdays or other special occasions to have those 'hooray and yay' remembrance moments?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teaming Up - Annie West

This month something exciting happens. My story FOR THE SHEIKH'S PLEASURE is released again in an anthology edition with stories by Sue Swift and Meredith Weber. Yay! The collection is called CAPTIVATED BY THE SHEIKH (love that title).

For an author who spends most of her days alone with her imagination and whose books come out usually as stand alone books, being 'between the covers' with others is something out of the norm and rather exciting. It's happened a few times now and it's always fun to see my stories paired with writers I know and love, or when it's writers I'm not familiar with, to discover their work via our shared publication. For instance this time I know Meredith Webber and her work (she's an Aussie romance icon) but I've yet to discover Sue's writing.

I've just learnt that next year one of my sheikh stories will be rereleased with one by Jane Porter (grinning from ear to ear at that news) in an edition called 'The Desert Sheikh's Defiant Queen'.

This got me thinking about pairing up. About what it is about certain stories that make them work in combination, and, since I'm a writer and I love to explore further, what makes other teams work so well.

There's a chemistry in great teams, don't you think? An indefinable something that makes you smile when you think of them together. So, being frivolous, I gathered a couple of pics of the teams that came to mind instantly.

Bogart and Bacall - of course! Though I have to admit Bogart and Hepburn in 'The African Queen' came a close second. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. OK, they were as famous for when they weren't together as when they were, but in lots of minds they were a pair and there was no denying the simmering tension bubbling under the surface there.

Ginger Rodgers and Fred Astaire. I love the way they made the most impossible dances look easy and graceful and never lost their smiles. Even to people who've never seen their work they're synonymous with dance.

Then of course there are the comedians. Laurel and Hardy were irresistable as a pair who have stuck in our minds for generations. It's difficult to think of one without the other, which was probably a bit of a nuisance to them, but so good for the box office. Abbot and Costello. Even Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in the 'Road to...' movies. Can you tell I spent wet weekends as a child watching old movies?

And of course it doesn't stop with people. How about peaches and cream or champagne and strawberries?

Do you have a favourite pair? A combination that makes you smile when you think of it? Or is there someone you'd love to be teamed with? (Now, that gets the mind working...).

By the way, if you're interested in finding out more about CAPTIVATED BY THE SHEIKH, go to my webpage to read an excerpt of FOR THE SHEIKH'S PLEASURE. Arik is a born seducer in that story and I think, very appealing, though so much better when teamed with Rosalie. You can also buy the book from Mills and Boon UK or Amazon UK or The Book Depository (no charge for postage anywhere in the world).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Girl's Night Ins by Michelle Styles

Last night I chaired another successful Girl's Night In. A group of women's fiction writers have banded together and basically put on a road show that we take to different libraries in the area. They have proved hugely popular so far.
The format is that the authors have a panel discussion about how we work, and in the background, various beauty treatments are offered. Last night,  there was enough interest in the beauty treatments to keep three manicurists going for the full two hours! The library puts on wine and nibbles. Once a library even had cupcakes with flowers and pink champagne. My publisher Mills & Boon has been wonderful in providing books (and in the last two cases -- pink pens!) for the occasion. Each woman leaves with a goodie bag that includes a voucher for money off from the nail person and the books. The books I should add are not mine, but rather a selection so that the people can try something new. My daughter who goes likes to trawl through and has found several new to her authors. Apparently Amy Andrews is excellent in medicals and then there is Caitlin Crewes and Kate Hewitt in Modern whose books captured her attention. She is still trying to figure out a way to sneak home a Blaze or two...
The age range goes from high school up to pensioner and often times the people attending are not regular library goers. But everyone seems to have a good time. And that is the aim to show people that you can have a fun night out in the library!
It is so good to see people really begin to understand what a wide range of books we do. From the My Weekly Story novellas and ebooks through to romantic suspense, a romantic comedy writer who talks very candidly about her struggles with writer's block and who has made me understand the sheer nature of determination to best selling saga writer and then there is me with my historical romance.
So has anyone else been to any good libraries events lately?

In my own news:
Starting on 15 November, eharlequin will be doing a free online weekly serial of mine -- His Stand In Bride. It is loosely linked to my two North American releases A Question of Impropriety (Dec 2010) and Impoverished Miss Convenient Wife.
If you want to learn more about my books, please visit my website

Note: BLogger is not letting upload pictures from the event...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dreaming of Weddings - Lisa Dale

As many of you know, I’m getting married in July. I still haven’t found a dress yet, but will be dress shopping next week with my mother and future mother-in-law. I think it’s going to be fun!

But in the meantime, I’ve been having some crazy dreams about getting married!

One morning, I dreamed I was getting married in parachute pants—but everyone else was dressed formally! Another morning, I dreamed that the baker forgot to bring the cake, and instead loaded the party up with Entenmanns, still in their boxes.

It cracks me up—I can’t wait to see what crazy thing I dream next! When I wake in the morning, I turn to Matt and tell him “what happened at our wedding last night.” Normally, the dreams are about logisitics; I’ve never had a bad dream about marrying him—which is probably a good sign. :-)

Anyway, last night, I found a fun website and I figured I’d share a few pictures from it. It’s a sort of “funny wedding pictures” website that, frankly, could have come right out of one of my dreams. But if you’re sensitive, queasy, or easily offended, don’t head over there, as some of the pix are a little risqué.

Here’s a few that I hope will make you smile (or maybe just go “whaaaa?”)!

Funny Wedding Photos - I Want to Believe He's Wearing a Speedo

Funny Wedding Photos - STAY HERE!!! Forever!!!!

Funny Wedding Photos - His and Hers
see more Wedinator
Funny Wedding Photos - Mighty Morphin' Groomsman

Hope you have a great day!

PS—We’re giving away a copy of Wild, Wicked, and Wonton on my blog today. Go leave a comment to win!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Real Life Heroes : : Anne McAllister

cminers1It isn’t often you get to watch real life heroism in action, but as I sat mesmerized on Wednesday and watched the rescued Chilean miners reach the surface one by one, I was conscious of doing exactly that.

Every one of them had a story and, of course, the stories could go in all directions from here. But I was tempted to take notes because some were so compelling. Fiction couldn’t compcminers2are.

And it wasn’t only the miners who qualified as heroes.

There was the president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, who laid his political career on the line to do what he considered it his duty. There were experts from all over the globe who offered their expertise and their wisdom and their equipment to help people who were not exactly next door.

There are not that many really feel-good news stories theses days (or maybe ever) where you can have an unqualified happy ending. The story was, I heard one newscaster say, watched by over 1.2 billion people – twice as many as watched the moon landing 41 cminers3years ago. It was, he said, a drama that had captured almost as much attention as the last US presidential election, the Wimbledon final and the World Cup.

The difference, as I see it, is that each of these other events had a winner and a loser. Close to half the people watching any of those events would have gone away disappointed.

I didn’t see disappointment Wednesday night.

I saw elation, I saw jubilation, Icminers5 saw tears of joy and warm embraces. I saw people all over Chile and, indeed, all over the world celebrating heroism and perseverance and competence and the absolute determination in the face of awful daunting odds, not to give up.

Those are the people we write about. They are the people we fantasize about. They are the epitome of what we hope for – examples of what we want life to be like.

And sometimes, glory be, it is.

jefeI have to go write my own book’s happy ending tomorrow. I will – and, as always, I will be glad to do so. At the end I will feel satisfaction and the knowledge that I have created a world which celebrates honor and compassion and duty and love.

But in the light of what I saw on in real-life heroism on Wednesday --and during the sixty-nine days previous -- I’m afraid that for once a fictional happy ending may feel like an anti-climax.

Anne's book about George Savas, sexy physicist who some years and several books ago was locked in his laboratory and not coming out, has finally come out! It's called Hired By Her Husband and is out in UK now and will be out in US as a Harlequin Presents in January.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Reading different genres - Kathleen O'Brien

I've been reading some strange books recently.

Blood, guts, werewolves, zombies, mutant monster spiders...not my usual choices by a long shot!

I'm definitely a romance, historical, women's fiction kind of lady. Ordinarily, the furthest I wander outside my comfort zone is a nice murder mystery, and even there I prefer books written by women and cozies. Character-driven stuff with a decided absence of gore.

Truth is, I'm…well, I’ve got a very vivid imagination, and after reading a scary book I sometimes have to ask His Highness to escort me from one room to another so that the boogeymen don't get me. He is not amused.

So why am I suddenly spending my free time reading Stephen King, Clive Barker, Jonathan Maberry and other shock masters? Only one possible reason. Because I am enrolled in an MFA program that requires me to. We're studying all forms of genre fiction, and this term it's horror for me.

Actually, the class is kind of fun. I'm meeting a lot of crazy, icky creatures. I marvel at the writers' inventive genius. But the most important thing I'm learning is that, at heart, all good books have one thing in common: characters we can love.

Think about it. There's a big, disgusting monster rampaging across the lunar landscape, eating every pebble and rock in its path. He's unique, fascinating, dangerous and vivid.

Okay.... But so what? What's scary about that? No matter how hideous his little mud-colored eyes are, or how sharp his boulder-crunching teeth, we're safe on Earth in our La-Z-Boys, eating cashew Poppycock and watching “Castle.” (Or whatever your version of the perfect Monday night is.) Old Mud Eye is up there, a zillion miles away, bothering only rocks.

But add this to the equation: a stolen space capsule carrying three brave but terrified teens is about to land just a mile from Old Mud Eye's moon cave. The kids have gone rogue for this trip, because moon dust has been found to have cancer-curing properties, and their adored grandmother, who brought them up, is dying.

Now the monster has a chance to scare us. And if the author can make us care about those teenagers, to know their fears, their dreams, what makes them smile, cry or yawn, then the drooling approach of Old Mud Eye can bring us to the edge of our seats.

I'd love to hear from you guys. Do you read other genres, too? Which ones do you love? I'm always looking for a great book recommendation! Can reading more widely can teach us anything about writing romance? Are good characters at the heart of the best novels, no matter what?

The first three people to offer a suggestion will win a copy of any one of my books you like. Just make sure you give me an email address so that I can get in touch.

Meanwhile, happy reading! And remember, when you're sending those suggestions, nothing that stirs up the boogeymen!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ingredients for a Perfect Night - Donna Alward

It's not often that opportunities arise for perfect indulgences, but as a Romance writer I'm always thinking of perfect nights. I write home and hearth type books, so my "perfect" night often consists of maybe a dance in the living room after the kids are in bed, or capturing a sunset by know, understated. For me, life's like that. But every now and again it's nice to pull out all the stops and that's what I've done for our anniversary this year. Here are my ingredients for a perfect night:

1. No kids allowed. Kids must be pawned off to lovely neighbours who will feed them junk and let them stay up too late on a school night.

2. Room booked somewhere that is not in a 50 km radius - and not just any room. A NICE room. A suite with a fireplace and jacuzzi and antiques. YES.

3. Dinner out. Nothing pretentious, please. A cozy corner in a pub with a glass of wine and good food will do nicely. The fact that we can walk to and from is a nice bonus as the fall colours should be stunning.

4. Flowers, champagne, and chocolate. The first 2 are guaranteed to be in the room and the last I'll handle.

5. No alarm clock...or dog needing let out...or kids thumping down the stairs. There is a MASSIVE difference between "waking up" and "getting up".

6. Breakfast cooked by someone other than me.

I suppose you could fill in some other blanks but I do believe this is a PG blog.

I'm looking forward to it lots - it's not often we get a chance to get away. And as this is our fifteenth, I thought we deserved it.

What's your idea of a perfect night with your special someone?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spring Is Sprung! - Anna Campbell

by Anna Campbell

I'd hoped to put this up last month but my scanner died so I couldn't share the pictures which really are the whole point of this blog!

As my Northern Hemisphere friends edge towards winter, spring broke out in a big way here in late August. Since then, we've had a few cold days, but basically the Aussie year is on its way to its hotter part.

Summer where I live (on Queensland's Sunshine Coast about an hour north of Brisbane) is awful. Hot, sticky, humid, exhausting. But spring is lovely. Clear days and crisp nights.

Because we've had a wet winter, my garden burst into flower in a big way with arrival of the warmer weather. And it all seemed to happen overnight. I thought you might like to see some of the photos I took!

Look at these two spectacular azaleas! They definitely appreciated both the arrival of spring and the recent wet weather. I love the massing of color. They spend most of their time looking really scraggy so it was lovely to get a good showing this year.

The native shrubs have gone wild too. Where I live, grevilleas do really well. It's something about the sandy soil, I think.

I'm sure a lot of people overseas wouldn't be familiar with these beautiful plants but I just love them. The flowers are delicate and spidery and come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. They scent the air with a sweet honey fragrance and the birds go crazy for the nectar.

I love to sit in my office and watch the parrots and the wattle birds fight over the blossoms which come in an extravagant array of colors from creamy white through to brilliant red.

It's extremely colorful to watch the red, green and yellow lorikeets or the more subtly colored rosellas fluttering around these lovely flowers. And with the hotter weather, the nectar ferments - so you can see where the phrase "p*ssed as a parrot" comes from in vivid detail!

Oh, and parrots drinking the hard stuff are amazingly noisy!!!

By the way, check out the lovely blue skies in these shots! Wouldn't you love to come to Australia right now? It really is lovely!

It's also wattle season so the air is heavy with the sweet scent of yellow flowers. They're our national flower and they grow pretty much everywhere. Well, not in my garden, but on road verges and in the bush, they're omnipresent.

A shrub of mine that has never been particularly spectacular has decided to show off this year. This beautiful red calistemon is usually cut back so harshly, it doesn't get the chance to flower. But this year, because I've been away so much and neglecting my pruning, it's finally shown me how beautiful it is.

The red is so strong, it almost burns your eyes! This is a plant where I often find my friends the bearded dragons.

It's not quite warm enough yet for them to appear but it won't be long. They always make me smile, these lovely little miniature dinosaurs. We have generations of them living in the yard. They're quite shy and you don't always see them but they're definitely around. I've got photos of the hearded dragons on my Facebook page if you want to check them out:

If you go to the Facebook page, you'll also see some shots of my backyard. All these flowering bushes are in the front yard.

By the way, if you're on Facebook, why not join my Fan Page?

So what's happening in your neck of the woods right now?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

There Goes The Neighbourhood... - Christina Hollis

As a teen I lived on the wrong side of town, in a flat above a laundry. It was a great community on the outside, but the walls of our maisonettes were paper thin.  I soon knew all about the things Charlie Rich didn’t explain about what goes on ‘Behind Closed Doors’!  
I lived in Flat 71. Next door, in Number 72, a respectable shopkeeper made his family’s life misery - but only after hours. The whole place shook with his rages, and you could hear every word. One night, he threw his family out, locked up and went to bed.  It was during a very hot summer, so all the windows were wide open. We took the family in until they could hear their father snoring, then the youngest son climbed out of our window, crept along a narrow ledge twenty feet above the ground, clambered into their own flat and  unlocked the door from the inside. 
The nice twentysomethings living on our other side in Flat 70 worked from home. They kept themselves to themselves, and the only thing anybody knew for sure was that they must feel the cold really badly. Why else would our party wall be warm to the touch all year round? That was in the days before the police got thermal imaging cameras. It wasn’t until that lovely couple did a moonlit flit leaving behind an enormous unpaid electricity bill that we all found out what their cottage industry was - growing tropical plants of the smokable kind.
In my latest book The Italian’s Blushing Gardener, Kira has escaped a disastrous affair and has found her perfect home - a tiny cottage in the beautiful Italian countryside. The last thing she wants is rich, self-made Stefano moving into the neighbouring villa. He promises to be the neighbour from hell - but there are surprises in store for both Kira and Stefano.
The Italian’s Blushing Gardener is a November Modern Romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon.  It will be released in the USA after Christmas, as a Harlequin Presents Extra called  The Master of Bella Terra, but if you visit  my website, right now I’m running a competition with signed copies and other goodies as prizes. Click on the ‘My Books’ link and you can get a sneak preview of the book and its lovely new style cover, too.

Have you ever had trouble with the people next door?

Christina Hollis writes Modern Romance/Presents Extra for Harlequin Mills and Boon. Since moving out of town her human neighbours are all from heaven, but the squirrel, deer and wild boar  in the surrounding forest can be demons if they break into her garden! You can follow her on Twitter at and Facebook at

Friday, October 08, 2010

Three cheers for comfort food - Kandy Shepherd

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What’s your favorite comfort food? I’m writing a story where comfort food plays an important role in the plot.
In talking with friends, I’m finding one person’s comfort food can be another person’s gross out—peanuts smothered in mayonnaise, anyone?
To me, there’s a distinction between “binge food” (did anyone say CHOCOLATE?) and nostalgic “comfort food”. My notion of comfort food is one where the taste evokes memories of happy times past and the special person who made it for you.
It’s not just any old comfort food we crave—it’s mom’s cookies, grandma’s soup, dad’s mac ’n’ cheese, pop’s spaghetti sauce. It’s all about nostalgia—the serving and the sharing.
As I child I seemed to spend quite a lot of time sick in bed. To cheer me up, my mother used to twine my hair with flowers from the garden and tell me endless happy-ever-after stories. To tempt my appetite she cut triangles of fresh white bread spread with butter and honey. Is it any wonder that the smell of honey conjures up a world of love and comfort for me? (Or that I became a romance writer!)
Have I created special memories for my daughter? She’s studying for her final high school exams and I asked was there anything I could cook to help ease the stress.
“Those little cupcakes you always made for my birthday parties,” she replied, “and please let me lick the bowl.” Cupcakes coming up…
My English husband loves it when I bake him his own little jam “roly-poly” from scraps of pastry—just like his mother used to make. The best thing? His initial on the top.
I’d love to hear about the foods that are special to you. Leave a comment for a
chance to win a signed copy of my latest book from Berkley Sensation HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. (It features a particularly delicious lasagna that stirs up all sorts of sensations in the hero…)

Please include your email in your comment if you would like to win the