Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chris Marie Green: Book of the Heart

Hello again to you all! A big thanks to Lee for inviting me here to talk about a term you've probably heard before--"book of the heart."

You've no doubt known some authors who've written a book of the heart. These are novels that inspire great pride and love in a writer, a story that has poked at you for years but, alas, it may not have found a home in traditional markets. Most books of the heart are different from the mainstream, and that's the reason it might not have found an easy place to shine.

But not these days. With indie publishing, the marketplace is full of books of the heart, and I'm happy to say that THE SHE CODE is mine!

A little background: I wrote this story, about a recent college graduate who was trying to find her way in the world, years and years ago. You see, my main character Mandy Halsey wanted more than anything to be a comic book penciler, but besides her attempt to secure her dream job, she was dealing with the trials and tribulations of finding the perfect guy out in the world. There were a couple reasons this book never quite found a home, although it did come close...

#1: Before I put THE SHE CODE under the bed, only to realize that now is the perfect time for publishing it, the pop culture landscape was revolving around stories about women and their close female friendships. But I wanted to explore what happens when you have a long-time friend who suddenly changes, just when your life is undergoing so many alterations during your early 20s. I wanted to tell the story of a girl who gets her heart broken not only by men, but by the childhood best friend who doesn't seem to fit into Mandy's life anymore. This book's main theme was about the *breakup* of a friendship, and that was soooo not SEX IN THE CITY. But I really believe that this kind of breakup is something we've all gone through in our lives. However, even as we see the breakup happening, we cling to those friends; we even have our own ways of staying ultra-loyal to them. That's why I invented a set of rules--Mandy's "She Code"--to describe the lengths females will go to in order to strengthen and preserve our friendships. (By the way, I'll be releasing a short story along with THE SHE CODE next month that revolves around a new She Code "rule," then two more novellas by the end of the year with their own central "rules." There are just so many!)

#2: Mandy was a comic book penciler. It wasn't a glamorous job like fashion design or a travel writer, just more of a quirky, niche career. But more important, because of Mandy's career, I wanted to tell the story in a way that you don't normally see in mainstream books--I wanted to use sketches and actual comic panels to 1) illustrate each She Code rule and 2) tell a subplot story as if Mandy were the one drawing the art. That was a lot of extra work for a publishing house, and I have to say that everyone who has put THE SHE CODE together now has had a few headaches! The end product is so very cool, though, and when I saw it, I couldn't stop glowing. Talk about a dream come true!

Of course, the fictional Mandy Halsey didn't do the artwork. I didn't even do it. An extremely talented artist named Billy Martinez of brought Mandy's art to life, and I was very lucky to hire him!

As luck would have it, THE SHE CODE isn't out quite yet--since this is an indie project, the scheduling is inexact, but we're aiming for August. If you'd like to know the exact date, please come over to my Facebook She Code page at https// for the release announcement. I would also love for you to join me on my Facebook page ( or Twitter (@ChrisMarieGreen) just so we can chat!

Speaking of chatting, I'm giving away a signed copy of NIGHT RISING, Vampire Babylon, Book One, to someone who leaves a comment on this blog about your own friendships. Have you ever had one that went sour like Mandy's? 

THE SHE CODE (New Adult Single Girl)

Featuring sketches and comic panels by Billy Martinez of Neko Press Comics!

“I suspected my friendship with Sheila was doomed on the night she blew my boyfriend....”

Meet Mandy Halsey, fresh out of college and determined to go from being a receptionist at the assembly line comic book house where she works to being a real-live penciler by the end of the year. That’s the plan, anyway.

But life isn’t cooperating. First, her job feels like a dead end. Second, her personal life isn’t exactly on fire, either, especially since her best friend seems to be moving in on every guy who catches Mandy’s eye. Is it just Mandy’s imagination or has Sheila totally changed since graduation, becoming someone who’s almost a stranger?

No way, because the BFFs grew up with The She Code. See, girls have rules with each other, so surely the friend Mandy grew up with wouldn’t ever break the Code—and break Mandy’s heart at the same time...

THE SHE CODE, a new adult/single girl/geek lit hybrid, is all about the bright side of angst—because there definitely is one!

Chris Marie Green is the author of the urban fantasy Vampire Babylon series from Ace Books and the upcoming Ghost for Hire series from Roc (Feb. 2014, Only the Good Die Young), which features a fun-loving spirit from the 80s.
She tries her best to avoid international incidents whenever she takes a break from her first love, writing, and cheats on it with her other true love—traveling. Like Mandy, she has an alter ego, but Chris’ Luka is named Christine Cody, who wrote the dark fantasy Bloodlands trilogy.

You can find her at or hang out with her online at and

***Chris's winner is Gina Conkle!  Gina, please email with your mailing information!***

Monday, July 29, 2013

J. Kenner - Fabulous Men, Strong Women, and Really Hot Sex

One of the best things about writing the Stark Trilogy has been spending time with the characters.  The allure of spending time with Damien goes without saying (I mean, duh, right??) but it’s equally awesome to spend time with Nikki because she’s such a fascinating woman (to me as an author, to Damien, and I hope to readers).

The thing about Nikki is that she’s strong ... and yet she has weaknesses and softness.  She knows what she wants in life—and even though her past often haunts her, and even though she has to fight to keep from cutting when things become emotionally difficult—she still finds the strength to go after her goals.  At the same time, however, she has a decidedly feminine side.  She’s not submissive (either in the traditional or the BDSM sense of the word) and yet she will submit—will give herself completely--to a man she both wants and trusts.  A man, of course, like Damien.

The neat thing is that it’s that combination of soft and hard, control and submissive, determination and softness, yin and yang (whatever you want to call it) that helps make the relationship between Damien and Nikki so incredibly sensual.  Yes, she can submit sexually to Damien, but she can also take control – and since he’s a man willing to let her do that, it adds an extra layer of intimacy and emotional intensity to their sexual relationship.

Nikki is one of my favorite heroines, and I suppose that’s no surprise.  I tend to migrate toward heroines with dual sides.  My own Kate Connor, demon-hunting soccer mom who first appeared in Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom, has hard edges juxtaposed against the softer mom/wife persona.  And my favorite heroine as a reader is Eve Dallas from the J.D. Robb In Death books, who is all kinds of hard, and yet she’s also soft and giving. 

It’s those layers that make characters sing for me – and I hope that Nikki (and Damien!) sing for you, too!

Who’s your favorite multi-layered heroine from a book or a movie?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Complete Me from my publisher!



New York Times  and USA Today bestselling author J. Kenner (aka Julie Kenner) has published over forty novels, novellas and short stories in a variety of genres.  You can find out more about her at her website,, or connect with her through social media on Twitter ( or Facebook as Julie Kenner ( or as J. Kenner (

***J.Kenner's winner is Leni!  Please email with your mailing information!***

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Jacqueline Diamond: What’s So Fascinating About the Regency?

Romance readers and writers are drawn to specific historic places and periods, including the American Civil War and the Scottish struggle for independence. One of the most popular—if not the most popular—is the English Regency.

It was short—formally, the Regency lasted from 1811 to 1820, when King George III became so ill that his son ruled in his stead as Prince Regent. Why is this brief span so dear to readers’ hearts? The reasons expressed here are solely my own.

--Reason #1 is Jane Austen (1775-1817). This beloved author set the tone for the romance genre with her unforgettable characters in Pride and Prejudice, and other novels.

--Reason #2 was the change in fashion. Under Beau Brummell’s influence, male fashions transitioned from the ornate to beautifully tailored, darkly masculine clothing, with trousers replacing knee breeches. Women’s fashions became freer and lighter, as style leaders abandoned brocades and panniers for Grecian simplicity. Their bodies remained free for only a few years until the starchier Victorian era.

--Reason #3—Ideas were also becoming more modern. The common folk of America and France had won their revolutions. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women, with the then-stunning premise that women were equal to men.

--Reason #4—The Regency was packed with fascinating people. In addition to Austen, Napoleon and Brummell, there were poets Lord Byron (described as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”), Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his young wife, Mary Shelley, whose 1918 novel, Frankenstein, launched the science fiction genre.

--Reason #5. The Regency romance is, to me, a fresh take on the Cinderella theme. My Regencies, from Lady in Disguise to A Lady of Letters, play on the theme of the disadvantaged young woman who seizes the initiative and wins the rich, handsome hero, as well as the respect of others.

With Lee’s help, I’ll be giving away two ebook copies of Lady in Disguise (or you can choose one of my other Regencies). Question: Do you read Regencies? Why? Do you prefer the traditional kind, or the sexier variation?

***Jacqueline's winners are Connie and Erin!  Please email with your mailing info!***

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Pros And Cons - Elopements Versus Weddings

With Picture Perfect Wedding, my second novel in my Wedding Fever series about to hit the shelf, I've been thinking about weddings!

Way, way, back in the day, people eloped because they wanted to marry but their relatives opposed the relationship. Today, many people live together for years so why would they then choose to elope rather than have a full on wedding? Why do some couples people want the full on wedding instead of eloping?

Lots of reasons!

*A full on wedding takes a year or more of preparation. Some people are overwhelmed by the thought and a quick trip to the registry office is so much easier.  Of course, Erin, the heroine and wedding photographer in Picture Perfect Wedding wants brides to who are addicted to the planning and get a buzz out of making the million and one decisions that a wedding demands. Although as Erin discovers, some brides are more focussed on the wedding than the groom!

*Money. Rumour on the street is that the average cost of a wedding in 2013 is $27,000. Holey moley! That is a good chunk of a deposit on a house! Practical couples may well choose to elope and save the cash.

*Family. Not all families get along and sometimes getting them all together in the same room and serving alcohol is a recipe for a restraining order. Those couples *should* elope!

*Party, Party, Party! My husband and I had a ball at our wedding. In fact our biggest complaint was that it was over way to fast. We should have had an after party instead of running off to catch a plane and starting our honeymoon. I've now been to weddings where the bride and groom come back the next day for an extended family and out-of-state guest BBQ and extend the fun.

*Surprise!  I've been invited to a 30th birthday, rocked up and had a wedding sprung on me. The couple figured all their friends and family were there for the birthday, why not get married! In fact, I read in the paper just the other day that one couple got married at a family funeral. That may be taking advantage of everyone being together just a bit too far.....
*Vegas. That one goes without saying ;-)

*The vacation wedding. I've had friends decide to get married in Thailand/Hawaii/tropical beach destination and invite friends and family, fully expecting most to say, “no” and then been put in a tail spin when most decide to combine attending the wedding with a vacation. Word to the wise; if you really want to elope, don’t tell anyone.

Of course, the residents in Whitetail, Wisconsin where Picture Perfect Wedding is set are hoping that people want to have the full catastrophe wedding because the economy of Whitetail is dependent on that cash injection.

What would you do if you had your time over? Or if you’re considering getting married in the next little while? Where do you come down on the argument. Would it be an elopement or a wedding?

Picture Perfect Wedding is out on August 12th but up for pre-order now! There is a fabulous $1.99 deal at All Romance Books, a saving of $2 or you can grab it at Kindle, Carina Press, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, Sony and where all eBooks are sold!

Here's the blurb...

Erin Davis will do whatever it takes to be the photographer for high-end brides. So what if capturing the moments of people’s lives means she has no time for her own. Nothing will get between her and the security she craves, not even the gorgeous farmer refusing to let her shoot in his sunflowers.

His family has always been tied to the land, but lately Luke Anderson feels more like he’s chained. While he ponders his future, he still has cows to milk and no time to deal with Erin or Bridezillas in his fields. Yet there’s something about the sexy city girl he can’t say no to. So he says yes: just this once.
With the town in need of a photographer, Erin agrees to spend wedding season in Whitetail. The sparks flying between her and Luke quickly ignite, but just as Erin starts to picture her own happy ending, Luke takes a gamble that could risk it all…

For more weddings in Whitetail, check out Saved by the Bride, available now!
100,000 words.

Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin and Carina Press. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love. When she's not writing stories, she's a weekend wife, mother of two 'ginger' teenage boys, guardian of 80 rose bushes and often found collapsed on the couch with wine. You can find her at her websitefacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Caitlin Crews: A Royal Without Rules

Sometimes I spend months and months coming up with a story idea. 

I’ll think about characters or emotions, and let it all coalesce in my head as I concentrate on other things.  A snippet of a song might point me toward certain connections, little bits of dialogue might come to me here and there, and slowly, slowly, the story begins to surface until I’m ready to sit down and start writing.

Other times, an entire story appears just like that.  Fully grown and wholly shaped, as if out of thin air.

A ROYAL WITHOUT RULES, my August release, is one of the latter.

My editor thought it would be fun for me to write a book that combined the hero of my first playboy book, THE DISGRACED PLAYBOY, and everyone’s favorite royal rogue: Britain’s Prince Harry.

Except, she said, more debauched.

Well, I thought, I can do that.

I said something about threesomes and she laughed and BAM!  There was my story.  

The opening scene practically wrote itself:


His Royal Highness Prince Patricio, the most debauched creature in the kingdom of Kitzinia—if not the entire world—and the bane of Adriana Righetti's existence, lay sprawled across his sumptuous, princely bed in his vast apartments in the Kitzinia Royal Palace, sound asleep despite the fact it was three minutes past noon.

And he was not, Adriana saw as she strode into the room, alone.

According to legend and the European tabloids, Pato, without the pressure of his older brother's responsibilities as heir apparent, and lacking the slightest shred of conscience or propriety, had not slept alone since puberty. Adriana had expected to find him wrapped around the trollop du jour—no doubt the same redhead he'd made such a spectacle of himself with at his brother's engagement celebration the night before.


But as she stared at the great bed before her, the frustration that had propelled her all the way through the palace shifted. She hadn't expected to find the redhead and a brunette, both women naked and draped over what was known as Kitzinia's royal treasure: Prince Pato's lean and golden torso, all smooth muscle and sculpted male beauty, cut off by a sheet riding scandalously low on his narrow hips.

Although "scandalous" in this context was, clearly, relative.

"No need to be so shy." Somehow, Adriana didn't react to the mocking gleam in Prince Pato's gaze when she looked up to find him watching her, his eyes sleepy and a crook to his wicked mouth. "There's always room for one more."

"I'm tempted." Her crisp tone was anything but. "But I'm afraid I must decline."

"This isn't a spectator sport."

Pato shifted the brunette off his chest with a consummate skill that spoke of long practice, and propped himself up on one elbow, not noticing or not caring that the sheet slipped lower as he moved. Adriana held her breath, but the sheet just preserved what little remained of his modesty. The redhead rolled away from him as Pato shoved his thick, too-long tawny hair back from his forehead, amusement gleaming in eyes Adriana knew perfectly well were hazel, yet looked like polished gold.

And then he smiled with challenge and command. "Climb in or get out."


A ROYAL WITHOUT RULES is the story of what happens when the kingdom’s most disreputable playboy, a tabloid staple and general lout, sets his sights on the most notorious woman around—who, through no fault of her own, has an entire history of bad behavior to live down.

Having to deal with a prince like Pato won’t help.

But then again, he’s not quite what he seems…

I loved writing this book.  I love Prince Pato and Adriana.  I hope you will too!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Maisey Yates - Top Ten Reasons to Love A Cowboy Hero

Put your boots on, ladies, because today I’m talking about cowboy heroes. 

Likely, if you know me, you know me for alpha billionaires with dark secrets and darker pasts. But my new love is the cowboy hero. 

Oh, I haven’t forsaken my billionaires. After all, there are some yearnings only a Greek Billionaire can answer! But today I’m talking about your Top Ten Reason to Love a Cowboy. 

10. The outfit. 

I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for a cowboy hat, boots, some tight jeans and a belt buckle. Now, I’m from the country and I spent a lot of years lying to myself about this. After all, we used to call Wranglers ‘Stranglers’ with much disdain, but now that my tastes have matured, I appreciate the ahem...virtues of the gear. 

9. Working Man Hands.

Rough masculine hands courtesy of hard labor. I find I have a weakness for that. Probably goes back to the days when my husband did work around people’s properties and cultivated the working class callouses. ;) 

8. Old-Fashioned Charm.

Is there anything sexier than a well placed “Ma’am” or “Darlin’”? I think not. 

7. Watching them ride.

Because there’s nothing hotter than a man who’s born to ride doing his thing, I tell you. 

6. They usually live in small towns. 

I’m from a small town, so in some ways, I think I had a natural resistance to writing about them. But now that I am, I’m reminded of all the things I truly love about living in one. And why they make a great setting! Small towns aren’t perfect. They aren’t just full of shiny happy people. They’re filled with individuals. Weirdos who just want to be alone, hippies, rednecks, former city people. Nice people, mean people, and yeah, a nosey neighbor or ten. 

But it’s also a place where people still wave at you when they drive past, and where someone will lend a hand when you need it. It makes for a lovely and diverse setting - either to live in or to read about!

5. Practical Uses. 

Life on the ranch is tough, and you have to be self-sufficient. A cowboy has to know how to get things done. From basic home repairs to emergency calf deliveries. Basically, if you need something done, he’s your man. 

4. He knows how to tie a good knot. 

I does a boy scout, but the outfit is not the same. See point number 10. Also...NO REASON might want a guy who knows his way around a rope is all. 

3. Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy. 

It becomes an even more exciting song if you’ve read a few cowboy romances. 

2. A Cowboy is a law unto himself. 

The world has moved on, sure, and a cowboy might even carry an iphone, but he’s still a guy from a different time. A man’s man who opens the door for you and tips his hat, and who can get away with saying some outrageous things. (And I LOVE a hero who says outrageous things!) 

1. He’s the kind of guy you can have your happily ever after with. 

The kind of guy who still believes in marriage, in family, and in keeping marriage vows. In short, he’s a true hero, and he makes for a wonderful fantasy. 

So, what are the reasons you have for loving a cowboy? Got any more to add?

My cowboy series kicked off in June with Unbuttoned, a Silver Creek novella, and continues August 20th with my first full length book in the series, Unexpected. 

Comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Unbuttoned!

***Maisey's winner is Rebe!  Please email with your email address and book format preference!***

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Kathleen O'Brien - Oh, The Cowboys I Never Knew

I have a confession to make. 

I’ve never actually known a real-life cowboy.

I’m strictly a suburban girl with parents who loved books and poetry and antique cut glass, and whose outdoor playtime involved things like sailing and tennis.  I’m a native Floridian.  Beach sand, traffic jams and unruly Irish setters…yes.  I live with these problems.  Mud, mountains, rattlesnakes and wild horses?  Not really.

So why do I love writing about the West, and about cowboys?

Well, for the easy answer, check out Gray Harper on the cover of BETTING ON THE COWBOY, my July Superromance.  Good grief…is that sexy or what? 

But there’s more to my fascination with these rugged men than their beauty.  Seriously.  I promise. J

My interest in cowboys goes way, way back.  Before I became a romance writer.  Even before that boy from Texas, with his drawl and his stories about his hound dog, moved into my subdivision and swept me off my feet and onto his bicycle handlebars.

The cowboy thing goes all the way back to when my parents watched a TV show called Have Gun Will Travel. Richard Boone wore a black hat, and I fell inexplicably in love with his craggy face.  He was far too old for me.  (Okay, I was a pre-schooler, so technically everyone was too old for me.)  Still, I thought he was absolutely swoony, and when I announced I loved him more than Gene Autry, my family howled with laughter.

Later, we watched Bonanza, and I fell in love all over again.  I understood that I was supposed to like Little Joe, but my heart belonged to Adam, the older brother.  Why?  I have no idea.  It was love.  There’s nothing logical about love.

After that, I met James Dean in Giant.  And Butch Cassidy.  The Sundance Kid.  Shane. Maverick. The Virginian.  I don’t remember the order in which I met them.  I don’t even remember whether I saw them in the original shows, or in reruns, or in college film classes or at midnight showings of camp movie classics.  All I remember is that I was endlessly enchanted by their clothes, their hats, their horses, their twinkling eyes, their old-fashioned courtesy, their courage, and their quiet strength.
So when I’m dreaming up a hero, my imagination often returns to those men. I’ve never met a real life cowboy…but I’ve loved some amazing ones in my imagination.

How about you? I hope you’ll share your cowboy stories!  I’ll be giving away signed copies of BETTING ON THE COWBOY to three posters here today.  So tell me, who are your favorite screen cowboys?  Do you know any real ones?  Do they live up to their fictional counterparts? 

One request, though.  If they don’t…please break it to me gently.

***Kathleen's winners are Emily Baucom, Mary Anne Landers, and Yvonne Simpkins!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lies and Time Travel - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Every time I write, I lie to myself. I tell myself, “That character will live forever” just before I kill her off, or “This won’t be hard at all” even though I need a grasp of nuclear physics to figure out the climax. Mostly, though, I tell myself this whopper: “The story will run, maybe, 5,000 words.” In non-writer language, that means “short.” As in, “short story.” As in, “something that won’t take long.”

And the sad thing is I fall for that every single time.

Take Snipers. I read somewhere that most of the bad guys of the 20th century converged on Vienna in 1913, before they were famous for their misdeeds, before they had even committed most of their misdeeds, before they were full-fledged adults. They converged before World War 1 started, for heaven’s sake.

Time traveler’s paradise. Seriously. If you wanted to change the world with one bold stroke, Vienna 1913 is the place do it, provided you’re a bit cold blooded yourself and provided you have a time travel machine.

I do have a time travel machine. It’s that weird brain of mine. The lying brain. The one that says, “This’ll be short.” It wanted to spend some time in 1913, in Vienna. So I got a lot of books (not as easy as you’d think; I don’t read German, so I was stuck with whatever got published in English, which is less than you’d think, at least about 1913.

I researched, I started the story, I realized that the time traveler had to be a bit deranged, and I don’t think deranged people are all that much fun to read about as the protagonist of a novel. So Johann Runge showed up. He was a police detective in 1913 who wanted to know why all these random people were dying.

I wrote his story, and found that it didn’t end the way I wanted it to, which means happily, and besides, Runge’s story was half a novel long, mixed with the story of the time traveler.

And then I read a Jack the Ripper book.  You know the kind: a version comes out every five years, proporting to “prove” who the Ripper was. Sometimes he was a prince; sometimes a painter; sometimes a random bad guy. But the book’s author always claimed to “know.”

That’s when it all came together. I figured that in 2005, my heroine, Sofie Branstadter, decides to write a book about the 1913 deaths, using modern forensic analysis. That analysis is confusing, not in the fact that it points to multiple people, but in the way that it points to…

Well, if I tell you much more I’ll ruin the whole thing. But the book time travels from 1913 to 2005 to 1953 to some vague unknown future. And the book genre-hops, combining romance, time travel, and thriller into something quite unusual. At least, I think it is.

The reviewers are agreeing.   They’re calling it “a fast-moving thriller” (Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine); “an excellent amalgamation of history, thriller, mystery & science fiction (Astroguyz); and “a thought-provoking, entertaining vacation from reality” (RT Book Reviews).

Snipers just appeared this week, and I’m so pleased. The short story that my brain lied about turned into a novel I’m very happy with. It was fun to write, and I hope it’s just as much fun to read.

Just think: you get to time-travel back to Vienna without leaving your house. How great is that?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Christina Hollis - 3 Lifelines For Writers

There are three things every writer needs - a story to tell, a way to tell it and the opportunity.
Everyone has their own ideas about the first two items on this list. Put three writers together and you’ll come up with a dozen different plots.  Each of them will have their preferred way of working, too. That can be dictation and voice-recognition software, typing straight onto the computer screen, good old pencil and paper or a combination of all three.
It’s getting the opportunity to write that causes all the trouble. Here are three tips I found useful when working on Lady Rascal, and my current WIP, Jewel Under Siege.

1. TIMETABLING: When do you do your best writing? If it’s first thing in the morning, set your alarm an hour earlier and use that time just for writing. If it’s after work or the children’s bedtime, lay in plenty of coffee and get writing once it's quiet. DO NOTHING ELSE! Don’t let yourself get distracted by anything at all. Set a kitchen timer, or call on the team at #1k1hr on Twitter to get yourself motivated. 

2. A SPACE OF YOUR OWN: Make sure you've got your own dedicated writing area. No matter how small, it'll be your private territory and that will give you a boost. It also means you don't have to hunt all around the house for your dictionary, thesaurus and other reference books, once they're all concentrated in one place. If your writing space doesn't include access to the Internet, that's better still-unless you're single-minded enough not to go online while you're working. The net is a great help with research, but it can turn into a terrible time-waster.

Mother's Little Helpers
Try to get your family to share the domestic chores so you can write. Make it fun for them, use bribery-anything to make sure you can get your “me time”. You might discover somebody has a hidden talent. When our children were small, we worked our way through The River Cottage Family Cookbook among others. As they've grown in age and experience, they can now take their turn in cooking dinner.

That's a real luxury, as long as you can shut your ears to the racket coming from the kitchen (or the eerie silence, which can be worse...). This spaghetti carbonara and chilled fruit pudding was produced by Son No.1. It was delicious!

That's a real luxury, as long as you can shut your ears to the racket coming from the kitchen (or the eerie silence, which can be worse...). This spaghetti carbonara and chilled fruit pudding was produced by Son No.1. It was delicious!

3. SHORT CUTS: Online shopping is a Godsend for the time-poor. Try your local supermarket delivery services. They're convenient and reduce the amount of impulse-buying, too. The discipline of making out a list to shop just once a week is another time-saver if you usually hit the aisles every day. We use Abel and Cole and Laverstoke Park Farm, too, for those times when there's nothing in the garden.

Of course, all these tips can easily be adapted to other areas of your life, such as reading or hobbies. How do you organise your own "me time"? 

If you'd like to keep up with the latest news about Jewel Under Siege, you can subscribe to Christina’s newsletter by sending her an email at with the word “subscribe” in the subject line. You can also read her blog at, and see a complete list of her published books at

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jenn Bennett: Romance in the Roaring Twenties

I write the Arcadia Bell urban fantasy series for Pocket. My third book recently came out, and the fourth releases next year. Like everything I write, Arcadia is a little bit different, a little off the beaten path. Though Arcadia's subject matter and settings sometimes veer towards dark and gritty, my heroes are good-humored and hopeful. It also features a strong romantic subplot between the two leads, so I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to anyone that I’m crossing the genre pond into full-blown Romancelandia.

On January 7th, the first book in my new Roaring Twenties series from Berkley Sensation goes on sale, and though the series shares a similar tone and wit to my urban fantasy, this time, the subject matter is flat-out sexy, swoon-laden romance. The new books take place—you guessed it!—in the 1920s, when prohibition and the emergence of a new modern ideal transformed the booming, foggy city of San Francisco.

In the first book, BITTER SPIRITS, my hero is a bootlegger—a handsome, scarred brick wall of a Swedish immigrant, who’s painstakingly built a small fortune running booze through the Golden Gate in his father’s fishing boats. My heroine is a fearless, independent spirit medium who performs a public séance act in a local speakeasy. When my hero becomes inexplicably hexed and haunted, he seeks out the spirit medium’s help. And with this light paranormal mystery pulling them together, the pair navigates the city from Chinatown to Pacific Heights, trying—and failing miserably—not to fall in love.

For readers who already like my voice, I hope they’ll make the jump into the 1920s with me. And for new readers who might be in the mood for a unique, sexy romance that’s not the same old paint-by-numbers historical, I hope they’ll give BITTER SPIRITS a shot.

Can you recommend any other unusual historical romances set in different time periods/countries or centered on a H/h who aren’t titled British landowners?

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Please Don’t Wake Me Up… I’m Enjoying this Dream – by Karen Rock

Thank you so much for having me on Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs today! I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all and sharing my new books. With my first book only just now appearing on the shelves, I’m still amazed that it’s all real.

I wanted so much to sell a first book that I have to confess I worked on several ideas at once. I crossed my fingers and wrote a proposal for an adult romance, WISH ME TOMORROW, at the same time that I developed a Young Adult story with my sister-in-law, Joanne Rock. I wrote and wrote, spinning chapters on first one book and the other, hoping that if I put enough effort and words out into the world, I’d find an audience. A publisher. A home for my stories!

My Young Adult book, CAMP BOYFRIEND, made the rounds and we got great feedback but no sales. No sales. Not that I was biting my nails or anything. But then, just want I started to lose all hope, we got a call from a small, new press called Spencer Hill. They loved Camp Boyfriend and couldn’t wait to publish it. They didn’t just want that first book, either. They bought our whole camp series.

Score!! I was beyond thrilled. We had the first book written but couldn’t wait to get to work on books two and three- Camp Payback and Camp Forget-Me-Not.  We also wanted to try writing some free novellas in between books to entice readers to try the series. So we dove right in to a prequel novella, Camp Kiss, available now for free download.

My happy stupor lasted for weeks. I had realized a dream! It was such a great feeling that I never guessed the universe could be so nice as to look my way twice. Because six weeks later, I got a call that Harlequin Heartwarming wanted to buy WISH ME TOMORROW for release in September 2013.

That was a teary-happy moment. If you haven’t read the Harlequin Heartwarming line, it’s a great series that promises tender, deeply romantic stories that mothers are excited to share with their daughters. Some of my sister authors at Heartwarming would include NYT bestselling authors Aimee Thurlo, Roz Denny Fox as well as the fabulous Muriel Jensen and Tara Randel. Wow!

Here’s a love scene excerpt between Christie and Eli from WISH ME TOMORROW, out in September 2013 as an eRead on Amazon and to purchase as a book on eHarlequin

Strong arms encircled her from behind. She breathed in the lemongrass and musky smell of him, her heart thumping.
“You’ve been gone too long.” he breathed in her ear.
She felt as if electricity coursed from her sensitive lobe and sizzled through her body. Her lungs trapped her breath and took it hostage. Was there anything more amazing than being held by the man you loved?
She turned and put her arms around his neck. In an instant, his breath quickened, his blue eyes searing hers before he crushed her against him.
“I’m the luckiest man in the world.” His voice was low, throaty. “Remember what you said earlier, about feeling like a monster?”
She nodded, burying her face in the firm planes of his chest. Why would he bring that up when things felt so romantic?
He tipped her chin and held her gaze. “Please don’t say that again. Don’t even think it. You’re imperfect. Flawed, a little scarred, but stronger now in a way that makes you the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. Inside and out. I wouldn’t want you any other way.”
It was the most incredible thing anyone had ever said to her. Did she deserve it? An image of Bill came to mind. She could almost picture him giving her a thumbs-up.
Before she had another moment to think, he captured her lips with a kiss so intense it was bruising. Her thundering blood deafened her and her shallow breathing rolled out like a low tide. He tasted like salt and fire as his mouth slanted across hers. She buried her hands in his thick hair, drawing him closer still.
His mouth left hers and traveled along her cheekbone. She could feel the erratic beat of his heart against her chest. His arms held her tight, as if he never meant to let her go. She rained kisses on his neck, his jaw and finally on his lips.
Suddenly, an aching tenderness replaced their earlier frenzy. They needed to explore, to know each other. When he returned her kiss, his hand stole into her hair and wound her tresses with his fingers. Their kisses deepened slowly, softly, the intensity growing between them once more…a single match that had ignited a blaze.
She knew he was strong, but it still surprised her how easily he carried her to the living room settee and laid her down gently on the scattered pillows. His body slid over hers in one smooth gesture. She inhaled his breath as their mouths moved against each other, every kiss drawn out now, lingering, exploring. Her hands drifted over his back then rose to his shoulders and the muscles of his arms.
At last, he drew himself up on his elbows. Now he was looking down at her, and his expression had changed in the flickering light, his blue eyes darkened to indigo. The rawness of his open, vulnerable expression undid her.
Warmth overflowed her heart, filling up the cracks and wounds she’d held inside. She sighed and buried her hands in the thick strands at the nape of his neck. How had this miracle happened? It seemed beyond imagining, beyond wishing. Yet here she was, with him, the only person who’d made her feel complete. Whole. As if she deserved this moment with him. 
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek! Wish Me Tomorrow is available for pre-order download at Amazon now or regular download starting September 1st. As for Camp Boyfriend, you can download it now at Amazon or download the prequel novella, Camp Kiss for free at the Spencer Hill Contemporary website.
Please share your thoughts about Harlequin’s new Heartwarming line or your own journey toward publication and you’ll be entered to win my giveaway of an advanced copy of Bella Andre’s I only have Eyes for You (not officially released until October) and K.N. Casper’s Heartwarming novel Roots in Texas. Thanks so much! I look forward to hearing from you J

~Karen Rock

Monday, July 15, 2013

St Swithun's day by Michelle Styles

Today, 15 July is St Swithun's Day. It is best known for predicting British Summer weather. A bit like Groundhog day. If it is fair on St Swithun's day, Britian is generally set for 40 days of sunshine. If it rains, we get 40 days of rain.
There is some truth to rumour as about this time, the weather pattern over Britain does seem to get stuck. And if it pours on 15 July, the rest of the summer is likely to be soggy.
It is beautiful sunshine at the moment (a rarity) and I am hopeful for the first truly pleasant summer Northumberland has had since 2006. We had a horribly cold spring and so fingers crossed.
Certainly it has been roasting for the last few days.
So who was St Swithun?
He was bishop of Winchester from about 852 - 862 which is just at the start of the Dane law. It should come as no surprise then, he is also venerated in Norway but for some reason has a saint's day of 2 July (the supposed date of his death). On his death bed, he asked to be buried outside so the rain could fall on his body.He is supposed to be the patron saint of rain (ie a saint you pray when it is a drought).
But basically he is remembered today because of the proverb. I suspect it also says a lot about the rainy British summer. (I grew up in  California where it rarely rains in the summertime...) It is just one bit of lore that has always intrigued me and as today is 15 July, I thought I'd share it as I like factiods.

I have put an excerpt for my next book --Paying the Viking's Price which takes place in Northumbria at few years after St Swithun's death up on my website.  The blurb reads:

Feared warrior Brand Bjornson has finally got what he's striven for—lands of his own, granted to him by his king. But his new estate, Breckon, holds more than a few surprises—not least the intriguingly beautiful Edith, former Lady of Breckon.

Proud Edith refuses to abandon her lands to the mercy of Viking invaders, and impressed by her courage, Brand agrees she can stay. He has one condition—that she should become his concubine!

You can read the extract here

May your summer be fair with few showers or thumderstorms (unless of course you in a drought in which case may St Swithun intervene on your behalf!)

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. Her next book Paying the Viking's Price will be published in November 2013.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Steamed: A Maid in LA Mystery

Steamed: A Maid in LA Mystery

I've written more than 50 romances for Harlequin, Avalon and now Montlake Romance.  I've written straight up comedies, light humor and heavy emotional stories.  And this month, I've written something that's not quite any of those things.

Steamed isn't really a romance.  It isn't really a mystery.  It's Quincy Mac's story.  Who is Quincy?  She's a mother first and foremost.  She came to LA from Erie, PA (where else? LOL) with dreams of fortune and fame.  Instead she got married and had three sons, all one year apart.  Then she got divorced and she started a cleaning service with her best friend, Tiny.  Yes, being a maid might not be as glamorous as an award winning actress, but Quincy's built a wonderful life.  

Until... (Come on, you know there had to be an until!)
 the day she accidentally cleans a murder scene and a particularly hunky cop questions her.  Now, most people, even if they accidentally cleaned not only the murder scene, but the murder weapon, would sit back and let the cops figure out who the real murderer is.  But not Quincy. You see, she has an uncle who was wrongly accused of a crime and he spent two years in jail before the cops figured out he was innocent.

Quincy can't go to jail.  She has three boys to raise. She's going to be maid-of-honor in her best friend's wedding. And she's absolutely sure she's not someone who's meant to have a tattoo.  

So, she's on the scene.

I'm fortunate...I tend to sell a book, then write it.  But Quincy's story I wrote just for me, because the idea nagged at me.  I wrote her story on weekends around other contract and I'm thrilled to finally send her out in the world.  And I'm thrilled that the first reviews have been so good.  I hope you'll check out her story!  It's available on Amazon right now, and will hopefully be out sometime soon on other eBook platforms!


Witches, demons and vampires, oh my! THE ENTITY WITHIN by Cat Devon

When I first started writing THE ENTITY WITHIN, I knew that the heroine, Zoe Adams, was a witch.  I also knew the hero, Damon Thornheart, would be a vampire Demon Hunter who had recently come to Vamptown to take on the job of Head of Security.

 I realize that vampires and witches do not get along under normal circumstances. In the case of Zoe and Damon, the conflict is even more intense.  Damon hates witches.  One betrayed him with very bad results.  Zoe knows from the opening of the book that Damon is a vampire, just as he knows she is a witch.  But before she arrived in Vamptown, she had no idea that they would be moving to the center of a vampire enclave.  She knew nothing of Vamptown. She thought she and her grandmother were coming to a nice quiet Chicago neighborhood to stay at a friend’s empty rental house.  Her grandmother had left out any reference to the vampire thing.

The relationship between Zoe and Damon really goes downhill when Zoe and her grandmother accidentally unleash demons by opening a mysterious spellbook.   In order to save Vamptown, Zoe has to work with Damon and he with her or all will be lost.

I must say that I really loved writing this story.  The dialogue between the hero and heroine is fast-paced, funny, and intense.  But the big surprise was Bella the cat.  Zoe’s cat.  The role of Bella was inspired by my own cat also named Bella. She demanded to be in the book and so she is, with plenty of attitude.

Yes, I am a cat person.  How about you?  Are you a cat or a dog person? Or both?

Cat Devon is the author of SLEEPING WITH THE ENTITY and THE ENTITY WITHIN. Both books are available now. Next up is the enovella THE ENTITY WHO CAME FOR CHRISTMAS (Oct 15) and LOVE YOUR ENTITY (Dec. 31). For more info please visit her website or Like her Facebook page or follow her on Twitter @catdevonauthor.