Monday, October 31, 2011

The Problem With Magic - Judi Fennell

You know, the idea sounds great, doesn’t it? To have a genie make all your wishes come true; who wouldn’t want that? You want millions? Poof! You can out-shop Paris Hilton. Travel your thing? Shazam! Paris, London, Rome, Venice, Hong Kong, NYC… it’s a round-the-world tour (and you can REALLY out-shop Paris Hilton!) House cleaned, dinner made, laundry done? *snaps. There you go! That Porsche you’ve always wanted? Check the 10 car garage. J All yours for the asking.
But every wish can come with complications if you ask the wrong thing. Case in point: what if you wish that you couldn’t say “I wish” around your genie? What then? Sure, you might have just been saying that off the cuff because you goofed with a wish, but the problem is, once you say it, you’re out of luck. How do you undo it so you can have the magic back?

Well, if you’re Samantha Blaine, the heroine of my latest release, Genie Knows Best, you try some pretty interesting ways. Here’s an excerpt with Samantha, Kal the genie, Dirham, his sidekick fennec fox who might take things a little too literally, and Lexy Dirham’s dream-girl fennec who could put Einstein to shame:

“Kal, should I wish—”

Kal leaned over and kissed her. Short and sweet—and definitely to the point. There would be no more wishing. Semantics. Right.

Somehow she had to figure out another way to get Kal to grant her wishes. If only she hadn’t wished to stop saying “I wish” in the first place.

She braced herself for another kiss, but, apparently, he couldn’t read her mind. Pity. Right now that would be a welcome trait. Maybe if she phrased it a different way… “Kal, I want you to—”

“I want you, too, Sam.”

“Yes, but I desire you to—”

“I desire you, too.”

She puffed out a breath. “Kal. I’m trying to get you to bring Albert here.”

“You need to wish it, Sam.”

“I was trying to.”

“Oh.” He touched her cheek, his gaze intense but inscrutable, and Mortification and Guilt started being eclipsed by always capricious, never logical Lust.

Well, the Oracle did say the mistakes of the past were destined to be repeated unless one learned from them. Samantha might have been slow on the uptake when it came to Albert, but those days were behind her—and so was last night.

She took a step back.

Kal looked at her a moment longer, then tugged on the knot he’d tied in the sheet and tossed the excess over his shoulder like a kilt. “Actually, we don’t want you wishing him here. If he has the amulet, he’ll bring it with him and it has properties above and beyond genie magic.”

“Yeah, I heard of a guy once who wanted to go to the moon,” said Dirham, taking a seat next to Lexy on the bed. “Unfortunately, he didn’t specify which moon, and let me tell you, he did not end up on a rock in outer space.” Both foxes shuddered. “It wasn’t pretty, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

“Yes, that was a lesson to all regarding the use of a goddess’s power,” said Lexy.

But to Samantha, the idea of Albert with his face pressed against someone’s moon was extremely satisfying. “So what do we do? Should I wish—”

Kal kissed her again. Half as short, and still as sweet.

But not productive.

“Kal, I think you might want to hold off on all the kissing. We have more important things to do now,” said Dirham. “No offense, Samantha. I mean, you’re pretty and all, but this is Kal’s future we’re talking about.”

Hers, too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jacquelyn Frank - ADAM

Hey all! Guess what happened recently? Yeah, okay, so you don’t have to guess. ADAM RELEASED!! WOOT!!!! ADAM!! Book six in the Nightwalkers series, came out on October 25th! YAY! Okay, so I am a little overexcited. What can I say? These past few months have been incredibly hard on me, so I am taking my excitement where I can get it. And here is definitely where I get it…

Oh don’t tell me you haven’t heard about ADAM! The next installment in the NIGHTWALKERS series? Come on people, get with it! You’ve been dying for this release for almost three years! Look, I’m not teasing this time! I have the cover to prove it.

Ain’t he purty? I love his chesticles. They are my favorite.

But in case you’re a newbie and haven’t read my work here is a little insight into my Nightwalker world…

There have always been people who live on the fringes of society, but what if there were entire species living on the fringe of human existence? We tell the tales of vampires and other things that go bump in the night, but imagine if there were entire cultures living alternate lives and life cycles to day-worshiping humans. This is part of the premise of my Nightwalkers series. Demons, Vampires, Lycanthropes and more, each its on race, its own society, living outside of human discovery. (For the most part. Apparently we’ve crossed paths enough to create our monstrous perceptions of them.) The series starts with the Demon race and slowly blossoms out into others, both known and unknown. They are complex cultures with histories they champion and histories they regret just as we do. When their existence begins to bleed into ours, it makes for some very intriguing discoveries about how very similar we all can be at our core…and how sometimes fate has plans for us we have absolutely no control over…wouldn’t you agree? So with that being said I hope you enjoy this small taste of what’s to come when fate decides she’s in the mood to play


He changed form in the blink of an eye, morphing from man to a deluge of water that dashed against her face and body. But unlike normal water he did not cascade off of her and fall to the ground. Instead, he flowed over her supple body, slowly washing over and around her, covering her inch by inch. He felt the smoothness of her skin beneath his touch, the weight of her breasts…tasted the hard points of her nipples.

She gasped in shock when he first hit her, but that shock quickly changed to something deeper and far sultrier. The sound that erupted from her as he flowed over her was nothing short of purest sin. He took satisfaction in it.

And even as he covered the most intimate inches of her skin with his exploration, he knew he was going too far. It had gone too far the moment he had sat in the brush to stare at her as she bathed. But this, what he was doing now, it was a whole other level of perversion, and as glorious as she felt, he knew he was stepping way over the line.

Did you enjoy that? Now rush out and buy the book!

I’d like to take this opportunity to give you all cyber hugs, answer a few questions and say thank you SO much for your devotion to this series. That has allowed it to be translated into over half a dozen foreign languages including German, Thai, Portuguese an now the entire set is available in audio format by Tantor Media! (The fabulous Xe Sands does our gang of men and their ladies proud!) Anyway, I have wondrous things planned for you and this world in the future. Follow my on my website, Facebook, Twitter and blog and I’ll keep you up to date on me, my books, my life, my peeves, my cats, my kid…basically all the floatsam of my life. Oh, and on Facebook we have a neat roleplaying page you ought to join called Jacquelyn Frank’s Nightwalker World official role-play page. You get to watch actors play your favorite NIGHTWALKER characters, get to oogle the Hump Day Hunks on Wednesdays and a variety of other things as well. Oh, and the person who plays Ruth (cough) is sick and twisted and does a FABULOUS job, if I do say so myself. Hehehe. So…on to all the juicy details my avid and diehard readers have been waiting patiently to know…

*Yes, I do have plans for Tristan from the Shadowdwellers to get his HEA eventually. What form and time this takes shape in is a grey area at present, but there is an intention.

*Yes, I do have plans for the next installment in the Nightwalkers universe, and it is going to be spectacular! And as soon as it’s in writing you all will be the first to know because I will be shouting it from the mountaintops

*My original intent when I finished Drink of Me was for it to be a stand-alone title. However, after massive amounts of fan mail begging me to continue, I have decided to give the idea some careful consideration.  

If you haven’t heard of me or tried me before, I hope you will. A good place to start is either Book One of the Nightwalkers series, JACOB, or my stand alone title DRINK OF ME! I hope you pick up ADAM. It definitely stands on its own even if you have not read the first. (But I, personally, am a stickler for reading things in their correct order)  

Here is a sample of JACOB on audio, ENJOY!   (Insert Adam audio cover)

Also don’t forget SUPERNATURAL, an anthology that gives my devoted readers a long-awaited insight into what exactly transpires between Kane and Corrine that very first Samhain night. Remember, Corrine was near death that night, and Demon instincts don’t make leeway for fragility in a mate. (Especially since Demon mates are not usually fragile humans!) So what’s a Demon obsessed with mating to do? Check it out and see, In Stores Now!!

Thank you so much for having me, It’s been a blast!

Hugs & Kitties,

Jacki Frank

Jacquelyn lives in the Western North Carolina mountain area around Asheville with her ten male cats (no, that isn’t a typo) and about ten thousand voices in her head. Rather than take heavy meds to chase them away, (the voices, not the cats) she indulges them and brings their stories to life. She’s lived in many places and worked many jobs, which she says makes her ‘colorful, not inconstant.’ She is always rescuing one stray or another, be they animal or human, and thinks the invention of electronic reading devices could only be improved if they could just manage to make them smell like ink and paper. A self-admitted techno-geek, she loves all kinds of gadgetry.
She believes every romance should have a happily ever after.
You can often find her on Facebook. Join her fan page at: or visit her website at

Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Happens After Dark by Jasmine Haynes

Wow! Isn’t that a great cover! Thanks to the Berkley art department! What Happens After Dark comes out on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011! The second book in my sexy and emotional DeKnight trilogy, the series continues with the characters from Past Midnight. In What Happens After Dark I give you Bree Mason’s tale (the accountant), a dark story seething with emotion, about life, death, illness, tragedy, and of course, love. Yeah, yeah, I know the stereotype about accountants, but really, they aren’t all boring!! But they certainly aren’t all nice either!

As with all fiction books, it’s make-believe; still, a writer can’t help but put bits and pieces from his or her own experience. That’s what makes every story different despite common themes, because we bring pieces of ourselves into everything we write. In this book, you’ll meet a character named Marbury, an awful man. And here’s where I blended fiction with personal experience. Marbury is patterned after a boss I had several years ago. The incident I remember most from my brief time working for my personal “Marbury” concerned a raise. I felt I deserved one. Don’t we all!? So I practiced what I wanted to say, enumerating all the reasons why I deserved it. I, of course, thought they were all very valid. I was as polite as could be, too, when I sat in the chair opposite him. Oh my God! He went ballistic. He called me a prostitute and some other names which I can’t repeat because this is a G-rated blog. It was traumatic. But despite his blustering, I stuck to my guns, so to speak. And I did get that raise. I was quite proud of myself for remaining steady in the face of his tirade. It had an added benefit, too! That experience helped me create Denton Marbury in Bree’s story. I hope you hate him as much as I did, LOL!

Here’s a blurb on What Happens After Dark, A DeKnight Novel, Book 2.

By day she’s a mild-mannered accountant.
After dark, she’s a willing slave to his wildest fantasies.

Bree Mason longs to be a successful career woman, but secrets keep her chained to the past, afraid to take that next step. And at night, her frustrations are released by the domineering Luke Raven, who gives her what she asks for and more in a sensuous game of master and slave…

But to take control of her life, Bree will have to look within and face the demons of her past. Luke knows the ins and outs of Bree’s body, knows what makes her gasp and sigh and beg. But now he’s willing to push their relationship to the limit—to stand by her side in the light of day and take the greatest risk of all…for love.

You can find an excerpt of the prologue on my website. But I also invite you to visit my blog starting Mon 10/31, where I will give readers an excerpt featuring the above-mentioned Denton Marbury! And don’t forget that through the end of November, I’m offering a free erotic on the blog, too, Beauty or the Bitch.

Here’s a complete list of The DeKnight Novels in order:

Past Midnight
May 2011

What Happens After Dark
Nov 2011

The Principal's Office
February 2012

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Man with the Money - Lynn Raye Harris

Winner: Hey, y'all! I totally got sidetracked with trip recovery and revisions to my latest book (which went in today, yay!) and forgot to pick a winner! Hope you will forgive me. The Random Number Generator has chosen Desere! Yay, Desere, you finally did it! The RNG loved you today!

I love this trailer! It's so moody and sexy and I think Harlequin did a fabulous job with it. I'm thrilled to be a part of the series! The fifth book in the series, The Man with the Money, is in stores now! This book is about Jack Wolfe, the hot loner who gets his thrills from high-stakes games, whether it's cards or the financial markets. Jack has cut himself off from his family for the most part -- and he's definitely not ready to forgive his eldest brother, Jacob, who returns in the first book, A Night of Scandal, that kicks the whole series off.

Cara Taylor is a heroine I could relate to. She's not wealthy like Jack, and she works hard for everything she has. She's also from New Orleans, which holds a special place in my heart as I have family who live there. I've visited the city several times, and I've always loved the distinctly European vibe.

But, as cool as I think New Orleans is, Cara wants to escape her hometown. She's always wanted to see the big wide world, so when she ends up dealing cards in a casino on the French Riviera, life should be perfect. Of course it isn't--and then she meets Jack.

Oh, she doesn't think life is perfect then either. But she will, just as soon as she realizes how utterly addictive a man like Jack can be.

I hope you enjoy reading about Jack and Cara! For a red-hot excerpt, click here. RT Book Reviews magazine gave this story 4 Stars and said it has, "intense emotional turmoil, a tortured hero and toe-curling intimate encounters." Rawr!

Jack…Red-Hot. Renegade. Restless.

Notorious gambler Jack no longer gets a buzz from the risks he takes at the card table. In fact it bores him. Until one night he wins more than he ever bargained for…

His prize is stunning Cara Taylor – she might be down on her luck but she certainly doesn’t need rescuing by a card-shark like Jack! Now she’s stuck with him she doesn’t know whether to love him or loathe him.

For a chance to win a signed copy, tell me where you'd choose to visit if you could go anyplace you wanted. (I may have trouble commenting today, as I'm on vacation and might not have internet access. But leave me comments anyway, and I'll catch up when I get home!)

Lynn Raye Harris is a USA Today bestselling author who writes glamorous, sexy romance for Harlequin Presents. You can learn more about Lynn and her books at You can also follow Lynn on Twitter @LynnRayeHarris or visit her author page on Facebook,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Grouchy Shopper

Every time I go into a certain store, I want to grab a shopping bag before I begin shopping (if I'm shopping green and wisely, I could use my canvas bag). The reason I want this bag is so that I can put it on my head in order to avoid looking at the employees stocking cans and boxes or working behind the meat counter or sweeping the floor. I don't want to say "Hi." I don't want to answer the question, "Are you finding everything okay?"

Trust me, if I don't find what I need, I'll hunt someone down until I do, but I don't want to be asked the same question five times while in the store. And I don't want to smile and say "Hi." I'm busy, I'm an isolated, 21st C person in her rushed life trying to find ketchup and milk, so just let me be.

And no. No thank you very much. I don't need help out to the car with my toothbrush. I think I can make it. If I fall when halfway there, I'll let you know. You'll hear me screaming! But for today, I think I'm going to give it a go. Yes, it's brave of me, but I'm strong.

Stop being so damn nice, okay?

Once when I went into the back of one of the stores, I saw a sign posted above the door that said "Smile!"

It's worth frowning to think that people needed to be reminded to smile.

At my gym, the young people at the desk have been instructed to greet us warmly and to tell us all upon leaving to have a great day. To "Take Care." Or to at least say "Goodnight" or "Goodbye."

Once in a while, I wish someone would just say "Ciao." Or what about "Don't ever darken this doorstep again." More interesting would be, "Get the heck out of here, varmint!"

It is sad that manners and niceties such as greetings have gone by the wayside, but to bring them back (business in social clothes) for the sake of customer retention is slightly sick. Does anyone believe that the stock people at the store give a rat's rear about the people rushing down the aisles? If you do, I'm sorry to bust your bubble. The kid with the acne and the bright blue eyes will get reprimanded if a supervisor doesn't hear him him say hello to you. In fact, a couple of my students have told me that there are "secret shoppers" who come into the store to seek out those employees who don't ask all the nice questions.

So the employees aren't saying hi to us--they are trying to keep their jobs.

So let's just go back to our normal, unobtrusive rudeness. It's a lot easier to take, and I can get out of the store much more quickly that way.

Jessica Barksdale

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time Out With Brenda Novak

With INSIDE and IN SECONDS just out, and IN CLOSE and a historical romance called THE BASTARD just about to be released, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. There’s so much to do! Which brings up issues of time management. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Why? Because one thing I don’t plan into my day is time to relax and just “hang,” and that’s so important to relationships. Just being available to people is a great way to build stronger ties, but being available requires flexibility which is difficult for me and other workaholics to manage. If my kids want to go somewhere or create something, I can put it on the calendar and make it happen. But what about those times when certain subjects wouldn’t come up if you weren’t just puttering around the house together, cooking or cleaning or shooting the breeze? My weakness in this area is why I don’t consider myself an expert on this subject. I think I’m great at getting stuff done. People ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?” But time management shouldn’t be about accomplishing the most in the least amount of time. It should be about balance, about nurturing those around us while we accomplish a reasonable amount.

So now that you know my greatest weakness (I’ve actually had to set goals to stop what I’m doing and let the rest go until tomorrow—LOL), I’ll tell you how I manage to write three books (and one novella) a year, travel, speak and promote my books, run a major charity fundraiser and raise five kids. First of all, I do it by taking care of myself. Sometimes the hour I take out of my day for exercise seems like a waste. There are so many other things I want to do with that time. But I remind myself that if I’m healthy and have energy, I will be able to accomplish more in less time. And it’s true. If I get enough rest and exercise, I feel strong and capable, and it makes a big difference in my daily output.

Another sure-fire trick is to prioritize what must be done each day and to do the most important things first. That may sounds like a no-brainer, and yet it’s so easy to get diverted. If exercising every day is your goal, do it first thing in the morning. But if it’s more important for you to write ten pages a day, start with that instead. That way, when the unexpected intrudes as the hours progress, and the day begins to get away from you, you’ll still accomplish those things that are most important to you.
Keeping myself on an even emotional keel is another thing that really increases my productivity. This isn’t always easy, of course. Problems crop up, sorrows intrude, accidents happen. But developing some type of inner peace helps you withstand the emotional buffeting that goes along with the bumps of life. Some people use meditation. Others read an inspiring story. Still others keep a gratitude journal. All of these are great techniques. A few minutes of meditation is what I do. It brings me right back to my center. And if it doesn’t, I begin counting my blessings—taking a look at what I’ve got instead of what I don’t have.

And who doesn’t like killing two birds with one stone? I print out pages from my current WIP and edit while I ride my Exercycle. I listen to research programs on True Crime TV while I clean house. I read my latest manuscript to my husband whenever he has to drive somewhere for work. And, probably the best thing I’ve done to date, I’ve hired an assistant. I thought this was something I shouldn’t allow myself—being raised by a frugal mother I felt as if I couldn’t justify such a luxury—but I’ve been able to extend my reach on so many fronts, thanks to this decision.

How do you increase your productivity? Do you agree that time management is more about balance than it is about working every minute? How do you make yourself take time out?


Excerpt from In Close:

Relieved to think she’d be leaving, she closed the files. But just as she slid them into the accordion holder, a noise from below brought her head up.
What was that?
Movement? If so, whoever or whatever made that noise was definitely bigger than a rat.
She’d thought she heard footsteps when she first arrived—and there’d been no one here.
Irritated that she kept spooking herself, she climbed down the ladder. She’d just set foot on the stairs heading to the first floor when a draught of cool air, smelling distinctly of smoke from the fireworks, swept up to meet her.
Fresh air. From outside...
“Hello?” she called.
No answer. No corresponding rustle, either.
She angled her flashlight in as many directions as she could to illuminate the dark recesses below, but the beam would only reach so far. “Anybody there?”
Her mind conjured the gruesome images that sometimes came to her in nightmares, images of her mother being tortured and strangled by some crazed psychopath. Most people were killed by someone in their circle of family and friends. But not all. Murders committed by strangers were some of the most difficult to solve.
Is that why no one had been able to figure out what happened? Was her mother’s killer lurking in the shadows, waiting for her to move closer?
Half-expecting the truth she’d been chasing for so long to become apparent in the worst possible way, she stood as if her feet were encased in concrete. The possibility of a violent ending didn’t escape her.
But there were no footsteps, no madman rushing toward her, no more movement.
Had she imagined the change in temperature? The noise? In such an old structure, even a slight wind caused creaks and groans.
She wasn’t convinced it was the wind, but she didn’t see how remaining on the landing, holding her breath was going to help. She needed to get out.
Tightening her grip on the files, she crept down the stairs, using her flashlight to scout for trouble—until she reached the living room. Then she aimed the beam straight ahead, right where she wanted to go, and ran for the door. But just as she reached it, she couldn’t help twisting around to take a look behind her.
And that was when she saw it.
A man’s booted foot.
Someone crouched behind her mother’s old piano.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sharon Ashwood: Crave the Night – bet you can’t read just one!

Crave the Night is a collection of novellas recently released from the Swell Cat Press. There are four contributors to this new release: me, Michele Hauf, Lori Devoti, and Patti O’Shea. The title of this anthology makes me chuckle, because I keep wanting to substitute other words, like “Crave the Chocolate” or “Cave the Hunkman.” Not exactly helpful for marketing, I know, but it leads me to the question of why get involved in an indie anthology? What are we “craving” that makes us—all traditionally published authors—get together and put out a self-published book?

Well, it’s not because it’s a low-effort process. Authors are twice as hard on themselves as any editor could be. We passed our stories to each other and went through them line by line. I was actually kind of nervous! These are writers I’ve read and admired, and I wanted to impress!

So why bother, if it’s not quick and easy? A book like this is a chance to write something a bit special and unique. It’s an opportunity to give life to one of those sparks close to an author’s heart. I think this shows in the fact that, although these are all vampire stories, they are all very different.

What was great for me was that I could offer a story that comes from my Dark Forgotten universe but involves a location and characters that don’t fit into the plot arc of my novels. When tied to a series, authors rarely get the chance to chase the butterflies that flit through their imaginations. This gave me the opportunity to take advantage of at least one!

I love the characters of Rafe and Lila and was hugely pleased to bring them to life. Like all my protagonists, they surprised me. Lila is very good at keeping secrets. I had no idea who the gargoyles really were . . .

HIDDEN by Sharon Ashwood

Rafe returns to the Devries werewolf pack to rescue his people from a scheming fey beauty. Pitting his will against her wits, he plans to seduce his way free of the ice queen's trap. But surrender means death for the fey, and little does Rafe know that he's gambling with more than hearts...

For buy links and excerpts of all four stories visit the Swell Cat website here.

So, if you were going to see a short story in the world of one of your favorite authors, what would it be and who would it be about? Leave a comment and enter to win a copy!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Melanie Milburne: Fan etiquette

One of the nicest things about being a published writer is fan mail ( mostly email these days) from readers. I remember when one of my sons was about ten and he wrote to his favourite author Graeme Base via his publisher. It was so lovely when Mr Base wrote back. I remember thinking that if I ever got to live my dream and become a writer I would be just like that and personally respond to fans.

I have some lovely messages from fans from all over the world. Those messages have nearly always come at just the right moment. Usually on a day when my writing has stalled for some reason or I'm having back troubles and wonder why I put myself through the torture of long hours of sitting. And then in my inbox comes a gorgeous message that lifts my spirits and reminds me that someone out there loves what I do.

But there is a downside. Yes, there always is in life. It doesn't happen often but occasionally I get an email from an unhappy reader. Something has upset them in one of my books. Perhaps they didn't like the way a certain character behaved or they thought the heroine was too weak or too strong, or the hero too alpha or not alpha enough.
When this happens I remind myself that reading is a subjective enterprise. No two readers read a book in the same way. We all come to a book (or a movie) and view or read it through the lens of our life and experiences. That lens colours how we interpret things and make sense of our world. We have expectations when we come to a book or an author and we feel let down if they don't deliver. I've experienced it myself, but I would never dream of contacting the author and telling him or her I hated their book.

It is a reviewer's job to offer an opinion of a book and they usually do it without any sense of malice. I appreciate the time and effort it takes to read a book and then write a review. They have to really understand the controlling idea of the story and the nature of the conflict between the characters.

But what is the etiquette for fans in this digital age when everyone has an opinion on everything at the click of a mouse?
I have five suggestions on this and I would love to hear yours. I will send a signed copy of my latest release His Poor Little Rich Girl to a random poster.

 1. Be polite
 2. Tell the author what you liked about the book/s or their writing. If you can't think of anything then perhaps you shouldn't be reading their work at all.
 3. Remember that your opinion is just your opinion. Many authors have huge fan bases and you might be the only one who doesn't like their book.
 4. Give the author another chance. The publisher/editor or both might have pushed for a particular story line and the author did the best they could do with it.
 5. Try writing your own story. Often when a reader is increasingly frustrated within a genre they are reading in it is a sign (in my opinion) that they are developing a writer's mindset. That's what happened to me and the rest as they say is history!

Happy reading,
Melanie Milburne

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Last Monday despite a couple of important meetings I simply could not miss, I stayed home, sick in bed. Lucky me!
I slept the morning away, woke up a few times just to turn over and cover my head with a pillow. It wasn't till 1:30 in the afternoon, when one of my dogs got tired of being stuck in my dark bedroom with me and kept nudging me with her nose that I finally dragged myself out of bed and went downstairs.

I went to my computer to check on what happened at the meetings I missed, and saw a slew of emails with multiple exclamation points. Always a good thing! (!!!!)

And that's when I found out that Amazon had selected my novel SLIM TO NONE as the Kindle Daily Deal, and that my novel had shot up to #1 on the Kindle Bestsellers list! What a perfect day to be home sick, right?! I mean no way to still feel awful when such a great thing happens. It's been a nice boost for all of my novels on Amazon, and I'm so grateful to Amazon for giving me such a fabulous opportunity. And am especially grateful to so many readers who have continued to support me! So I just wanted to share my fun news and say thank you!

Quick reminders of some new releases, these two both romances I've written under the name Erin Delany:
In Accidentally on Purpose, Washington, DC, photographer Lucy McSweeney has given up on men. Her timeclock ticking, she's decided there's no point in waiting for the man of her dreams when she's perfectly capable of starting that family without him---all she needs is a turkey-baster. Well, sort of. Doesn't it figure she finally stumbles upon that perfect guy in Andrew Madigan, only by then she's months into her turkey-baster pregnancy. And, she's just been hired to be the photographer at his upcoming society nuptials to the shrew of all shrews...

In Compromising Positions, Mercedes Fortunato just wanted the Capitol Hill job she was totally qualified for. Except the snooty press secretary refused to hire her, clearly objecting to hiring a woman for the position. That is until his boss, a horny Viagra-addicted U.S. Senator who's never met a woman he didn't want to bed, sets his sites on Mercedes as she's leaving the interview, and forces Mike Garrity to have to swallow his pride and hire Mercedes against his better judgment. Soon Mercedes finds she's fending off the advances of her boss, the Senator, while encouraging the advances of her boss, the press secretary, and finding that she is neck-deep in scandal and danger that could spell trouble for all.

Don't forget to check out Wade Rouse's humorous dog anthology I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship, in which I am a contributor and which features a top-notch list of contributing authors (Jen Lancaster, Jane Green, Jill Connor Browne, Sarah Pekkanen, Caprice Crane, W. Bruce Cameron, Rita Mae Brown, and many more, with a foreword by Chelsea Handler's dog Chunk). Half the royalties go to the Humane Society of the United States. It got a nice mention in this week!

Also Sleeping with Ward Cleaver is enjoying a wonderful revival as an e-book, so if you haven't read that, please do! And while you're at it, check out House of Cards and Over the Falls.
Jenny Gardiner is the author of the award-winning novel Sleeping with Ward Cleaver, as well as the novels Slim to None and Over the Falls, the novel House of Cards, and the humorous memoir Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me. She also has a story in Wade Rouse's upcoming humorous dog anthology I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in This Relationship (NAL/Sept '11), a fundraiser for the Humane Society of the US and selected animal charities.

Monday, October 17, 2011

So Bite Me - by Laura Resnick

Everything you think you know about vampires is wrong...

...Which is precisely what Esther Diamond, the protagonist of my urban fantasy series, learns in her latest misadventure, Vamparazzi, when she is marauded by vampire groupies, paparazzi, real vampires, fake vampires, and homicide cops, all while doing eight performances per week of The Vampyre, an off-Broadway play in which Esther (a struggling actress) has a supporting role. She also wrestles with the unwise desire to rekindle her erratic romance with a skeptical cop who's trying to prevent her from becoming a mysterious vampire's next murder victim.

To be candid, I initially didn't want to write a vampire novel. It was more a case of feeling I "should" write one, because I'm writing an urban fantasy series in an era when another hundred vampires swoop off the bandwagon every five minutes or so. I went from thinking, "No, yet another vampire novel would just get lost in the shuffle, so I won't bother," to thinking, "Crap, if I don't write one, then I will die forgotten, alone, poor, and unloved."

Or I would at least die without getting to write what I think about vampires—which is: Eeeuw!

Also: Yawn.
Apart from the fact that vampires have become so ubiquitous that the thrill is gone, gone, gone... I never actually understood what the thrill was in the first place.

Yes, of course, I recognize the less-than-subtle sexual metaphors of vampirism—piercing, sucking, biting, predation, dominance, darkness, feeding on one's partner, draining one's lover, and so on. And, sure, I swooned over Frank Langella as Dracula when I was a teenager, and I had the hots for the black-clad vampire anti-heroes of the Buffyverse. I would also not kick True Blood's tormented vampire Bill (based on the novels of Charlene Harris) out of bed for eating crackers...

Though I would kick him out for gnawing on my neck until he pierced a blood vessel.

Speaking from not-inconsiderable experience with members of the animal kingdom, when sharp fangs break my skin and draw blood, the pain is mind-numbing rather than erotic. And if you think about it logistically (as Vamparazzi's Esther Diamond does), lustily piercing a lover's jugular vein is far more likely to lead to a 911 call than to an orgasm. As Esther points out to vampire groupies in the novel, piercing a major artery would also involve throwing out the gory bed sheets, replacing the ruined mattress, and scrubbing down the bedroom. Seriously, how often does anyone want to do that? On top of which, wouldn't an undead lover have, you know... cold genitals? Gack.

As you may have guessed by now, no, Esther doesn't wind up swooning in the arms of a sultry vampire suitor in Vamparazzi. She does meet vampires in the book, as well as vampire poseurs, anti-vampire obsessives, and an ancient cult of ruthless vampire hunters. She also learns that there's a little more sex appeal in certain aspects of vampirism than she realized.

But a writer—even one who's got bills to pay—has to be true to her vision... and there was no way my vision could come up with a scenario in which Esther would enjoy someone sinking his fangs into her neck to draw blood (though someone in the book certainly gives it the old college try). Undead may be the new black, but it just doesn't suit me. And although I've written many characters whose tastes and views are wholly unlike my own... I felt if I was going to write a book about vampires, then I should go with my iconoclastic inclinations. Lots of writers who find vampires sexy have already presented that view of them—and, by virtue of actually feeling that way about the subject, have done it much better than I could, certainly.
On the other hand, once I started researching my subject, I was pleased to discover that vampires are much more interesting than I had supposed. For example, did you know that there were vampire epidemics in the Balkans in the 18th century? These outbreaks were so severe that the Austrian Empire (which then governed the region) sent in government investigators who wrote detailed official reports (still available) about what they encountered there. Lest you think such things are merely the eccentricities of the Old World, I should add that there was a well-documented vampire scare in New England in the late 19th century. Are you aware (I certainly wasn't) that the first-ever portrayal of a vampire as sophisticated, aristocratic, and seductive was in a popular story written by a doctor in 1819? His work influenced writers for generations—including Bram Stoker, author of the most influential vampire novel of all time, Dracula.
And speaking of writers, they (as well as film-makers) are the source of much of what you think you know about vampires. For example, folkloric vampires don't have fangs; vampires' conveniently sharp incisors are an invention of Western fiction and film, not of Slavic legend. Nor does vampire folklore claim that you can dispatch one by driving a wooden stake through its heart. This popular trope, which appears in Dracula, is an invention of Stoker's—probably extrapolated from a real Eastern European practice (Stoker was a dedicated researcher): It was customary in some regions to drive a wooden stake into the torso of a suspected vampire in order to pin the undead corpse into its grave and thus prevent it from rising to prey on the living.

Nonetheless, despite having learned a lot of interesting things about vampirism (some of which became part of the fabric of Vamparazzi), my attitude about this highly popular iconic creature remains pretty much what it always was. That is to say: Considering his diet (so to speak), there are no circumstances under which I will be willing to kiss him.

Laura Resnick is the author of the popular Esther Diamond series, whose releases include Vamparazzi, Unsympathetic Magic, and Doppelgangster. She has also written traditional fantasy novels such as In Legend Born, The Destroyer Goddess, and The White Dragon, which made the "Year's Best" lists of Publishers Weekly  and Voya. An opinion columnist, award-winning former romance novelist, frequent public speaker, and the Campbell Award-winning author of many short stories, she is on the Web at

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lisa Dale: Hedgehog Day!

Hi All!

It's a fun weekend here at my house. There's a new member of the family! Her name is Cleopatra and she's an African pygmy hedgehog. She's also the cutest thing in Bergen County NJ.

So far, she's just been sleeping (she is nocturnal) and adjusting to her new home (which is to say, when she isn't sleeping she's an angry, spiked ball of death). I'm looking forward to the day she turns back into the adorable, playful, sweet little girl she was when I met her at the breeders. One must be patient with these babies!

I got interested in hedgehogs when, funny enough, the main character in a new book that I'm putting together had a cat who--in a later draft--turned into a hedgehog. A hedgehog fit the character's personality better than a cat: quirky, adorable, and a little protective of herself. I thought: If my character can have a hedgehog for a pet, why can't I?

So I started looking into it and found out that I could. Hedgies aren't really easy pets, but they're cute as all get out. And they can be quite sweet.

Cleo's pretty much the highlight of my weekend. So rather than blog about her twice, I'll ask you to pop over to my blog to see more cute pix of her!

And if you leave a comment you'll be entered to win my LOVE TO READERS prize.

Good things,

Lisa Dale

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Second-Hand Dogs : : Anne McAllister

AJ No 3When our youngest son knew he was about to become an ‘only child’ – when his next elder brother went off to college – he basked in anticipation of his ‘onliness’ for about two days and then said, “We need a dog.”

My husband, The Prof, no push-over, said, “Take care of the cat for a year and we’ll think about it,” believing firmly that Son Number Three would do no such thing.  In fact, though, he did.

So when Son Number Two departed for university the next fall, I said, “We need to find a dog.”

Not a puppy because Son Number Three didn’t think he wanted a puppy. He was eleven, and he wanted a dog to “do things with.” 

So I got a book about second-hand dogs which was very informative about social adjustment and how to fit a ‘pre-owned’ canine into an already established family.  It gave good advice. It also helped us settle on the sort of dog we wanted – big, cheerful, easy-going, unhyper, not given to barking needlessly, able to keep up with an energetic eleven-year-old, capable of dealing with small children if required to do so – a perfect dog, in other words.

And we found one.

A three-year-old golden retriever, he had spent his first years in the kennel of a breeder. He was a stud dog, very handsome, but more than that – he was all of the long list of things we had been looking for. And he was delighted to have a boy of his own.

GradHe had a long high-falutin’ name that we never remembered.  He was called AJ.  He should have been called The Most Perfect Dog Who Ever Lived.

He gave us – and especially Number Three Son – six wonderful years. He died much too soon, at age nine, the week after ‘his boy’ graduated from high school. 

We had, because of him, already become a three dog family – two rescued golden girls had joined us by that time.  But even with them already in our family, we knew we would continue to make a home for other second-hand dogs. We owed AJ that for the joy he’d given us.

gunnarNot many months after AJ died, Gunnar, a flatcoat retriever of sorts, came to stay.  Our vet tech said, “He reminds me of AJ. And he needs a home.”  All he really had in common with AJ was four feet and an ability to worm his way into our hearts.  A more hyper, moody, temperamental, barking, opinionated dog would have been hard to find. 

But his fur, a glossy boot black, felt like AJ’s when I stroked it.  And after he jumped through the dining room window (which was closed, by the way) the first day he came “to visit,” I realized he wasn’t going to immediately endear himself to anyone else. So yes, he did need a home.  He brought as much joy to our lives, in his way, as AJ and the golden girls did.

And when he found the girls boring (they were LOTS older and not given to rough-housing. It was like a teenage boy living with two elderly aunts), we ended up adopting Jake – an eight year old golden who also needed a home. Jake kept Gunnar in line. He charmed Kate Walker.  He charmed everyonejake1 dfd who came his way from crawling babies to my unhappy-to-be-in-Iowa mother.  He never met a sentient being – dog, cat, rabbit, skunk (don’t ask), frog or person – he didn’t like.  The feeling was mutual (except for the skunk).

And now there are Micah and Mitch – the trouble twins. More goldens.  Mitch came to us a three months – the youngest dog we’ve ever had – because his breeder who had intended to keep him, couldn’t.  Micah was fourteen months when his owner had to move into a multi-story apartment building and could no longer get him out to play. 

Today – this very day – there will be Duke. He’s Number One Son’s dog right now, rescued from a home that no longer wanted him.  Number One Son struggles to make time for him.  So this week he will be ours. And Dukenext week, if everything goes well, he will be on his way to Montana to become the forever dog for Number Three Son’s family who recently lost a beloved golden far too young.

There have been others – dogs we’ve rescued and taken into our homes and into our hearts – since the day AJ came into our lives. They have all been distinct personalities.  They’ve all had baggage of one kind or another.  But they have made our lives infinitely richer.  They have given us furry bodies to hug, enthusiastic friends to walk and run with, cheerful grins to make us smile, empty plates where the chicken we intended to cook for dinner had cookiebeen left too close to the counter’s edge (thanks for that, Jake!), and more joy than we ever believed possible.

Puppies are great. Puppies can bring love into lives from the very start. But I wouldn’t trade the second-hand dogs we’ve known and loved for anything on earth. 

If you’ve never considered  bringing a ‘grown-up’ dog into your life, think about it. There are dogs beyond counting who need forever homes.  AJ – and Number Three Son and I – would be happy to tell you that it’s a simply superb idea. 

Wherever you live there is likely an animal rescue shelter near you.  If you are interested in a particular breed, check the internet for “rescue” and then add the breed of dog you’re looking for. These rescue programs are usually staffed by prinnyvolunteers who work very very hard to make sure that the dogs in their charge are people-friendly and that the homes they let them go to are a good fit.

Have you opened your home and heart to a ‘rescue dog?’  I’d love to hear about it.  I’ll bet others would, too. 

AJ thanks you!  I do, too.