Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Trish Morey: The Lighter Side of Romance

What I love about romance is that it comes in so many delicious flavours. From sweet to spicy, angsty to flirty, contemporary to historical to futuristic to paranormal to everything in between. I love the sheer breadth and depth that romance affords both readers and writers.

When I write my Harlequin Presents, the stories generally veer toward the angsty. Big conflicts. Strong alpha heroes and frequently vulnerable, if gutsy on the inside, heroines. I love those stories. But my other love is romantic comedy, and there isn’t a huge amount of scope inside your average Presents for comedy. Wit, yes. A wry smile, absolutely. A cutting retort from your heroine that makes your hero’s ears bleed and your reader punch the air with her fist, sure. But laugh out loud comedy? No. It would be wrong.

So when I was offered the opportunity to write something for Tule publishing, a story where I set the creative boundaries, I jumped at the chance. And so Second Chance Bride was born. And just to really shake things up, I started it in a brothel. Yup. A romance that begins in a brothel :)

And oh my, I had such fun with this story! I took my hapless heroine, Scarlett Buck (yup, why the hell not?) all the way from Marietta, Montana, and dropped her in the outback of Western Australia with no cash and a pressing need to get home. Luckily for her, she meets Mitch, but to find out what happens next, you’ll have to read the book.

But here’s a wee taster - Mitch and Scarlett are in Broome, and Mitch finds something in the closet...

She was just drying off when she heard him yell, “What the hell is that?”
Darn. She had a fair idea where he was and what he’d found and realized that maybe the gown hadn’t been quite as well hidden as she’d hoped. After all, there was at least a hundred yards of tulle in the skirt. But there were at least a dozen yards of closet too. Did he have to go open that particular one? 
Anyhow, no point admitting anything just yet. He was a man after all. Maybe he’d just found the ironing board. 

How do you like your romance? Dramatic? Sweet? Medical? Suspenseful? Or are you like me and like to mix it up a little and throw in a little romantic comedy (or something else) every now and then?

Leave a comment about your reading preferences and two lucky people will receive a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Happy reading,


*** Trish's winners are Mary Preston and Bonnie! Please email with your mailing info.***

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Katherine Garbera: The Reluctant Bride

The Reluctant Bride was one of those stories that just sort of came to me all wrapped up.  I have never been impulsive at all so when I was kicking around ideas for the Great Wedding Giveaway, I thought what about someone who just said yes and got married.  But there’s not much conflict in that and for good fiction there has to be conflict. 

So I thought what if she said yes, got cold feet and ran.  Just that inkling was enough to make me start creating the characters.  Risa loves weddings and brides.  She’s a florist who’s been working in Vegas at a very posh wedding center. 

Monty is the kind of guy who never gives up so it doesn’t matter that Risa isn’t where he left her, he’ll find her and reclaim her. 

From there I had the fun of being in Marietta, MT again.  I just love the stories that have been set there and am always happy as a reader to go back there.  As a writer it’s like coming home.

Here’s a little except:

            She wasn’t sure about herself, but Monty; God knew she wished she had his confidence.  There was a marked difference in their reactions to tragedy.  He wanted to cram in as much life as he could…she wanted to hide and protect those she cared about.  His mouth moved over hers with the confidence and surety that she’d ever only experienced with him, and she knew that she wasn’t going to pull back and walk away.  Instead she slid her hand up his chest and curled her fingers around his warm neck,  burrowing between the warm downy collar and the man. 
            He was here because he wanted to be her man.
            Right now, it felt like he was, as his mouth moved over hers and sent shivers of desire coursing through her body.  It had been a long seven months apart.  She parted her lips and his tongue slipped inside her mouth and she sighed.
            He tasted just like she remembered.  It was silly when she tried to define Monty, but there was something spicy in his kisses and yet, at the same time, something that soothed the restlessness inside of her.  When he wrapped his arms around her, she felt like she’d found the home she’d always wanted.
            A safe place to land. But she wasn’t sure she believed in home any more.
            She’d always been a rambler.  And even this kiss wasn’t going to be enough to help her put all of her doubts and fears aside.  His tongue rubbed over hers, as his hands slipped lower to cup her buttocks and she stopped thinking.
            Stopped trying to analyze this and have it all make sense.
            Kisses weren’t supposed make sense, were they?  They were supposed to transport lovers to someplace magical and distant.
            And for her, his kisses did.
            His hands anchored her to the real world, and his mouth tempted and teased her to follow him.  To leave behind her worries on this dark deserted highway and focus on the one thing that was real: Monty.
            He plunged his tongue deeper into her mouth, and she felt the first stirrings of desire shivering through her nerves and pooling in the center of her body.  She tunneled her fingers through the silky hair at the back of his neck, twisting them to make him move his head the way she wanted.
            He did.  Increasing the pressure on her and deepening the kiss until she was aware only of Monty and his mouth, his arm around her hips which held her to him, and his hand which roamed up and down her back.  His touch was warm, even through the thickness of her coat. 
            She pulled her head back and, from her angle, could look down on his half-closed eyes.  This was the face she’d missed.  The expression that had haunted her dreams.  He was the man she thought she wanted to marry.  The man who she’d taken a leap of faith with  and said yes to.
            But then he opened his eyes and slowly let her slide down his body, before he stepped back, spreading his arms out to his sides.  He rubbed one hand over his jaw and his mouth and turned his back to her.
            She had no idea what he was thinking, but could venture a guess that it wasn’t very nice.
            Why should it be?
            She was playing a game in his eyes.  And she had no way of really making him see that her being lost and confused was just as disheartening from her point of view. 
            “What?”  He glanced back over his shoulder.
            Yeah, what?  Time to take a break.  Run again…
            “Thanks for changing my tire.”

What about you?   Have you ever been impulsive and said yes and then thought better of it?  I’m the kind of gal who is stubborn so I wouldn’t run, I’d stand my ground and pretend that it was working out just the way I wanted it too!

I’m giving away a copy of all four previous Great Wedding Giveaway titles today as well to one lucky commenter.  

*** Katherine's winner is Janine! Please email with your mailing info.***

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sarah Mayberry: Small Moments

As I get older (and hopefully wiser) I have come to the realisation that it’s the small moments in life that make for contentment, joy and happiness, not the big, splashy ones. Weddings, awards, lottery wins…they’re all well and good, but for me it’s the small moments in the days and weeks that make my life rich and full of laughter and love. My husband doing his version of the moonwalk in the kitchen. My dog looking at me from under his eyelashes (yes, he has eyelashes, and they are diabolically long and gorgeous!). My Mum fumbling around with Skype and making me laugh so hard I nearly lose a lung. 

These are all small, insignificant, fleeting moments, but if you string enough of them together, I reckon you have a good chance at happiness. As a writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about the small moments in my hero and heroine’s relationship that will allow them to connect with each other and fall in love. I try to show that they “get” one another. That they enjoy one another. It’s not just about sex and lust and desire. It’s about connecting. Understanding. Kindness. Humour. I want my readers to believe in the relationship between my hero and heroine, to walk in their shoes as they get to know each other, and to yearn for their Happy Ever After.

My recent Super Romance, Her Kind of Trouble, has a small moment where the heroine, Vivian, helps the hero, Seth, blow up pink balloons to celebrate his infant daughter’s homecoming from the hospital. Seth’s gone to the trouble of sourcing the balloons, but he has no idea where to hang them to decorate his home. Fortunately for him, Vivian is a stylist, and she takes him in hand. It’s a small, very domestic moment, but he’s touched and grateful for her interest and skill and she’s moved by all the trouble and effort he’s gone to to celebrate his daughter’s homecoming. 

In my new novella for Montana Born Books, Almost a Bride, I took my hero and heroine paddle boarding on one of Montana’s amazing mountain lakes. The day is warm, and Tara and Reid share a picnic - and heartfelt conversation - on the shore of the lake. There are no flashy gowns, paparazzi, fast cars or billionaires in sight - just two people who like each other, enjoying a summer’s day. 

And in Satisfaction, my recently self published book, Maggie and Rafel lie in his bed after making love and discuss curricles and perch phaetons, inspired by the Georgette Heyer novel the hero has read because it’s one of the heroine’s favourite books. 

As I’m sure you’ll agree, none of these moments are going to set the world on fire - but they might just help two people understand each other. What about you? Do you crave the fireworks and dazzle of big displays? Or are you a small moments person, too, like me? Or do you prefer a mixture of both in your romance novels (and maybe your life?) Do tell! I’d love to hear your stories. 

I’ll be giving away e-book two sets of a copy each of Satisfaction and Almost a Bride  today - all you need to do is comment win. I’ll pop back in after a week to announce the winner, so stay posted!

*** Sarah's winner is Catherine Scott! Please email with your mailing info.***

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lynne Connolly: Born To Be Wild

I went to the kind of school that judged you on your academic prowess. I was okay. Not particularly brilliant, but not bad. I got by. So the school didn’t get excited about me. I wasn’t headed for a brilliant academic career, at least they classed me like that.

I could get by without doing too much work. So I started to play around, sag off, as we called it. I got my essays in on time, parsed whatever Latin they wanted and slipped away. I became adept at being in two places at the same time, playing people off against each other.

Very naughty. But I’ve never been good at obeying the rules.

At night I went to discos, and lots of concerts. I saw bands, and sometimes I was lucky enough to get backstage. In those days it was a bit more chaotic. I made Alice Cooper a cup of tea, or rather, Vince Furnier, who is a completely different person. Honest he is. I met other people, rock stars and then I dated a roadie. He wasn’t the type of roadie with no teeth and baggy, filthy jeans. Even then they were a dying breed. He had several vehicles, equipped with specialist storage equipment for the ultra-expensive instruments. I met some really famous people, who turned out to be, shock, horror, real people.

Who would have thought that my profligate youth would have worked out so well? But my first contemporary romances were about a rock band, who happened to be shape-shifters. The Pure Wildfire series has been a constant seller ever since and now it’s been joined by the Nightstar series. Each book is about a different member of the band, but the background is as authentic as I can make it. The reviews and responses seem to say that it’s worked. Sail to the Moon is getting a fantastic response, and Born To Be Wild, about the band’s Japanese-American keyboard and guitar genius is out next week at Ellora’s Cave.

So now I have to dream up another band. Any ideas? Should I go paranormal again, or straight contemporary? Either way it’s going to be a hell of a ride!

So who says a misspent youth can’t work out?

You can buy Born to be Wild here from Friday

My website is

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Lynn LaFleur: Series: Love Them or Hate Them?

 I’ve written five series so far, plus other books which take place in my fictional town of Lanville, Texas. I have more series planned for the future, and more books that will take place in Lanville. I love revisiting my characters, letting my readers know what those characters are doing ever since they received a happy ending in their own books. A series lets me do that.

I enjoy reading series for the reason I mentioned above—so I can find out what some of my favorite characters are doing once their book reaches the end, or to continue to find out about their lives. I love J.D. Robb’s In Death series. What woman wouldn’t fall in love with Roarke? I feel the same about J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I would gladly steal any one of the Brotherhood from their shellans.

I’ve received so many wonderful emails and comments about my Men With Tools series from readers wanting more of my hunky Coleman triplets. I’ve incorporated Rye, Dax, and Griff into the firefighter books I’m now writing for Kensington Aphrodisia. You’ll find out more about them, plus other characters who live in Lanville, in my upcoming books.

How about you? Do you enjoy reading series, or would you rather the book and characters wrap up in one volume? I’d love your opinion. Anyone who comments will have the chance to win a print copy of my newest Kensington Aphrodisia books, Hot Shots and Smokin’ Hot!


Find out more about all my series by visiting the series page on my website:

*** Lynn's winner is Margie! Please email with your mailing info.***

Friday, April 25, 2014

Debra Holland: Self Publishing: Don't Forget The Basics

In the rush to jump on the self-publishing wagon, many new authors often neglect some basics. The advice to have your book professionally edited is so prevelant on the internet and in books on the topic, that it’s hard for anyone to miss that important tip. A good developmental edit AND a copy edit are important for the quality of the story. But before readers even get to the content of your book, they have to become hooked by your cover and blurb. And when they sample your story, they should see the book is perfectly formatted.

It’s not uncommon for new authors who've only been published for a few months to write to me (or to a Yahoo or Facebook group I’m in) and bewail their lack of sales, in spite of having put time and expense into marketing. When I look at their covers and blurbs, or read a sample of their book, I can immediately see their problem—the book isn't presented in a professional and engaging manner, thus turning away potential readers.

The book cover is often what first catches a reader’s attention. A common mistake I see is either the book cover doesn't look professional (as if it came from a traditional New York publishing house) OR it doesn't do a good job of conveying to the reader the genre or sub-genre of the book.

I recently had someone show me the covers for the first two books in her series and tell me how pretty her friends thought they were. I agreed they they were pretty, but I could also see they didn't match to indicate they were a series, nor did they convey the books were dark paranormal romance.

Spend some time looking at the successful books in your genre or sub-genre to see what the covers are like. Ask experienced self-published friends to give you feedback about your cover before you slap it on a book. Show your cover to readers and ask if they can guess the genre or sub-genre.

The blurb or product description is the next stumbling block for readers. Too often the authors throws in far too many names/characters and details of the story and may not do a good job of conveying the genre. When writing a blurb, the author should stick to describing the goal and conflict, as well as what’s at stake. Typos and mistakes will make your readers think your book will have the same problems.

Avoid using descriptions that will tell the reader what his or her experience will be--for example, words such as fast-paced, gripping tale, tear-jerker, awesome story. The place for those kinds of words are in quotes from reviewers before or after the blurb, i.e., “This book is a fast-paced, gripping tale that made me laugh and cry. An awesome story.” (Make sure to add the reviewer’s name and/or the review site to give the quote legitimacy.)

I once had an author write to me wondering why my books were so successful, and her’s weren't, especially since she was an English teacher with better qualifications than I had. However, when I read her blurb, I saw two errors and had a hard time understanding what the story was about. She obviously hadn't done the research on how to write a compelling product description, nor had anyone proof the blurb.

Once your book is formatted, check how it looks on a Kindle and other e-readers. A sample will show a reader not only the content of the story, but the formatting. Poor formatting makes a story look unprofessional and difficult to read. There have been times when I've downloaded a sample of a book, but the poor quality of the formatting stopped me from reading the content.

I’m sure those of you reading this blog have seen covers or product pages that turned you off to certain books. What are some of the things (besides cost) that keep you from buying a book?  Share your thoughts and I'll give away a digital copy of Sower of Dreams to one random commenter.

Debra Holland is a New York Times bestselling author of the Montana Sky Series, sweet historical Western romance, and The Gods' Dream Trilogy, fantasy romance.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Annie Rayburn: Phantoms & Fantasies

I experienced Zeenie’s nightmare in a dream. The attack. The masked man. The ridiculous cat clock whose tail she watched swinging back and forth as she endured what no woman should. I felt her terror as she struggled against the drug, her panic, her desperate attempts to send pleas of help to her friends.

My heart thrummed in my ears as I jolted awake and slipped from the bed. Two a.m., but the scenes still burned in my mind. It wasn’t until I was halfway through recording the scene, my fingers flying across a keyboard, that I realized Zeenie was humanoid, yet not human. She’d been using telepathy and wasn’t even of Earth, yet she lived in Dallas, Texas and shared a world not unlike my own.

Aliens, paranormal phenomenon and alternate reality, oh my! What was I writing?

The more her world developed under my fingers, the more I realized this was nothing like I’d ever seen myself writing, and the tragic ordeal she’d experienced would have far-reaching consequences. For Zeenie, and for the man she eventually chose and claimed as her life mate. 

Turk. Alpha and sexy as hell, he’d have to love her and hunger for her like no other. He’d have to be emotionally strong to wait for her to recover enough to be ready again, all the while, yearning, dreaming of one day...

Phantoms & Fantasies:
After a devastating trauma, Zeenie attended a college mixer and experienced powerful Crainesian pheromones between herself and Turk. Unprepared for the life-mate call, she panicked and fled. Turk has waited and yearned for Zeenie for years while staying dialed in to her recovery. Finally, rumor says she’s ready to date again, and he’s determined to make her short list, even if it means resorting to a little trickery.

Zeenie’s plan is to ease back into the world of dating, not dive in heart first. Especially not with the hunk who’s supposedly bedded half the women in Dallas since she rejected him. On a blind date, he surprises her with patience and maturity when she fights against their pheromone bond, then shows tenderness and consideration when phantoms of her past arise.

As she learns more about Turk, Zeenie entertains heated fantasies of what could be and makes tentative forays into his sensual world. But her initial rejection broke with Crainesian custom and continues to cast a dark shadow on their future. Can she embrace her sexuality and summon enough courage to claim her man in true Crainesian style, or will their growing love be tainted forever?

“Phantoms and Fantasies is a magical story of love, passion, and healing that will have readers hanging on to every word.” –Tammy, Fallen Angels Reviews, 5 Angels, a Recommended Read!

“This was an breathtaking story. Ms. Rayburn has totally created a world that is both believable and sexy. I could see myself living next door to a Crainesian and am envious of the link the life mates have with each other. I read this story in one sitting, it was that good. I think the author has a definite keeper with this new world and I can't wait to read more.” – Tami Brothers, (Amazon 5-star review)

Annie Rayburn is the pseudonym of Carol Burnside, an award-winning author. Five of her novel length, contemporary romance manuscripts have placed in numerous RWA chapter contests and won five, including the prestigious Maggie Award for Excellence.
Writing as Annie Rayburn, she produces soft sci-fi and lite paranormal erotic romances which have been favorably received. Talk about cross-genre! While Carol/Annie enjoys the adoration she receives from her furbabies, what she really loves is hearing from her readers. Enjoy excerpts, review snippits, and more about her sexy Crainesian characters on her website  or connect with her via Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Goodreads / Pinterest or

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What is your favorite western hero by Cynthia Woolf

I had to think about what I do when I create a hero in one of my westerns.  He has to be bigger than life.  Think, John Wayne in the western movies of a time gone by.  Big.  Strong. 

Think of Tom Selleck in Quigley Down Under or any of the Sackett TV films he did with Sam Elliot (also another portrayer of western heroes to die for) based on Louis L’amour’s series of books.

Who were our real western heroes? How about Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok?  Like them, he must have a strict sense of justice and be a generally upstanding citizen.  Hickok and Earp were lawmen in several different towns, but Abilene, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona come to mine. Their reputations were that they didn’t put up with lawlessness and used their guns to bring order out of chaos.

We wouldn’t want that kind of law and order in today’s world. It wouldn’t work, but in those days, when the justice system as we know it was unavailable, these men did what they had to do.

Also, for my books, although, he and my heroine might make love before marriage, the hero knows there will be a marriage.  And if the heroine doesn’t want to get married, he will do everything in his power to change her mind.

He’s a wonderful father.  Teaching his children, sons or daughters, to ride, rope and shoot with the best of them.

My heroes are also caring and gentle.  They know their strength and make sure to rein it in when dealing with the heroine.  No matter how obstinate or ornery she gets he never physically harms her.  He may intimidate her, he may restrain her, but there is always an innate respect for her.

He is always slow to anger but once riled, look out.  And don’t even think about harming someone he cares for, he’ll always make you sorry you did, assuming you live to make it to the hanging.  He won’t kill you outright or without reason, but you’d better not give him a reason. He won’t hesitate to use his gun if he needs to.

Creating a western hero is not any easier than creating a Regency or Highland hero, or any other kind.  They are as strong and have as great a sense of right and wrong as any of those other heroes.  But I tend to think of them as quieter, more reflective.  The strong but silent type who never toots his own horn.  I think that’s one of the reasons that I love them so much.  

Cynthia Woolf is the author of six historical western romance books and one short story with more books on the way. She was born in Denver, Colorado and raised in the mountains west of Golden. She spent her early years running wild around the mountain side with her friends. Their closest neighbor was one quarter of a mile away, so her little brother was her playmate and her best friend. That fierce friendship lasted until his death in 2006. Cynthia was and is an avid reader. Her mother was a librarian and brought new books home each week. This is where young Cynthia first got the storytelling bug. She wrote her first story at the age of ten. A romance about a little boy she liked at the time. Cynthia loves writing and reading romance. Her first western romance Tame A Wild Heart, was inspired by the story her mother told her of meeting Cynthia’s father on a ranch in Creede, Colorado. Although Tame A Wild Heart takes place in Creede that is the only similiarity between the stories. Her father was a cowboy not a bounty hunter and her mother was a nursemaid (called a nanny now) not the ranch owner. Cynthia credits her wonderfully supportive husband Jim and the great friends she's made at CRW for saving her sanity and allowing her to explore her creativity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Isabel Sharpe: Romancing the Scone

My husband and I just returned from an idyllic trip to Ireland.  I expected the green fields and sheep, but was totally unprepared for the remarkable drama of the western coast and the welcoming charm of the people.  We fell utterly in love with the place—and with having a pint in a pub before dinner every night.

So many favorite moments, but one of the best was on a mid-morning drive (on the left!) on a twisty narrow road around the tip of the Dingle Peninsula, roaring ocean on one side, mountains on the other.  We passed an ancient stone house with a sign, "Home Baking."  The day was damp and cold and we were hungry, so we stopped.  Inside, a low-ceilinged room with two tables and a couple of easy chairs in front of a lovely fire.  The owners, an elderly couple, served us excellent tea and just-baked scones.  We sat there, warm and cozy, feeling part of something foreign and very, very old.  And then, blaring from the kitchen, Neil Young's Southern Man.  A small world after all.

The sad truth is, after such an enchanting time . . . we had to come home.  Thirty-three degrees here in Wisconsin the day we landed, April 15.  We wanted nothing more than to climb back on the plane and return to the bed and breakfast that served scones, brown bread with butter and jam, fresh orange juice, assorted fruits, yoghurt, muesli, amazing cheeses and then an enormous hot breakfast.

Back home, in a somewhat crazed effort to keep the magic going, I scoured the Internet for brown bread recipes and made a worthy version.  I baked scones.  I made muesli, beef and Guinness stew and a dessert called Eton Mess (here I’d like to point out that as of this writing, we have been back for only four days.  I was obsessed).

However, by last night, inevitably, the trip’s magic had faded into all we had to do and catch up on and be responsible for here in our real lives.  Ewww!  So this morning I put down placemats, China and silver, and arranged the leftover scones, muesli, yoghurt and fruit onto and into elegant serving pieces.  I offered our orange juice from a small crystal pitcher and milk from a china one.  My tea and my husband’s coffee I poured out into proper tea cups.  With saucers.

And you know what?  In spite of seven thousand extra dishes to wash afterward (where was that B&B staff?), it was a really lovely escape back into fantasy.  We made a pact to remind ourselves that it only takes a little extra effort to transform the ordinary routine into something more special.  A good lesson learned.  Think how many more there must be!  Clearly we need to visit several more countries to search them out.

If anyone would like the recipe for scones and/or brown bread, please let me know!  And I would love to hear how you keep your lives from sinking too far into the ordinary.  My favorite response gets a copy of my April Harlequin Blaze, Nothing to Hide.

Cheers and happy travels, armchair or otherwise,


*** Isabel's winner is Renee! Please email with your mailing info.***

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Talking About Talking About Writing by Jenny Gardiner

Sheesh! When I started writing novels, it was because I just kept reading books and thinking "I could do that!" After all, I was already a writer; my overwrought Christmas newsletters no doubt kept recipients on the edge of their seats each December (make that February, as I was always late with them). And my grocery lists, well, let's just say I compose a mean grocery list.

In truth, I have long been a little too fascinated with the stories of peoples' lives -- be they the sordid tales of famous people, the unfathomable actions of "what-the-hell-were-they-thinking" criminals, or the simple stories of average peoples' lives (I am so addicted to reading obituaries), I guess I'd stockpiled enough information that I was ready to make up my own characters with their own issues. Throw in a slight obsession with what motivates people, and I guess I needed to become a novelist, or a psychologist.

However, I hadn't bargained for the whole other side of writing a book, which is promoting the thing. This aspect of publishing has eclipsed the mere writing of a book over the past few years, with the growth of the internet and the vast and boundless world of social networking. Sadly, in many ways, promotion efforts by necessity dwarf writing duties. I suspect most writers would far prefer to just get to work on another book, rather than jumping through the many, many hoops of fire in order to sell the previous one. By the time I've finished writing a book, I'm sort of finished with it: I lose perspective on the story and couldn't begin to tell you if it's good, bad or indifferent. Plus I then promptly forget the names of my characters and much of the storyline. I've loved them and left them behind.

But like it or not, promotion happens. And one of the aspects of promotion with which I have a love/hate relationship is public speaking. I hate it because invariably I become slightly terrified. I suppose this is natural -- think Jan Brady having to imagine her audience at a debate in their underwear so she didn't freeze in fear. I worry that I won't say the right things, entertain my audience, and provide them with their money's worth (not that anyone is actually paying for the performance!) all while sporting a fat piece of parsley on my teeth the entire time. I guess it's not fear of public speaking so much as fear of making a fool of yourself in public. And then having it end up on Youtube.

But the reality is, I end up loving speaking to groups. Whether they're book clubs, or at conferences, or civic organizations, book festivals, writing workshops. I am comfortable with my subject matter, which I suppose would mean the contents of my vivid imagination. I could go on for hours about the weird stuff I can fantasize about if given the chance. And if I can fantasize about it, I can write about it. And I've been around long enough to know about the vagaries of the publishing industry.

I think that's the thing: by the time a writer ends up in the position of having to speak publicly, usually said writer has been through the wringer, has suffered the slings and arrows of defeat in this business, and has experienced the great good fortune and joy of being published, which in itself is almost akin to winning the lottery. I enjoy sharing my experiences with the many people who might harbor a secret desire to write and publish a book some day. And I'm thrilled to find people who have enjoyed my writing enough to put on an outfit, hop in the car, and make it to that venue where I'm speaking. It doesn't get more awesome than that. Well, maybe even more awesome when I can elicit laughter. There is something magical about being able to entertain your audience enough that you've made them forget bad things even for a second, long enough to laugh. It's a great feeling.

Ultimately I view public speaking as a real privilege, something that came about as a result of many years of toil to get to where I am professionally, to hone my craft, to learn the business, and to do any and everything required of the world to get me to where I am as a published author. It wasn't easy, but it was so worth it, every step of the way, every mistake, every misfortune that might have befallen me even, because it seasoned me enough to be able to share my experiences and my world with others.

And if I've been able to help even one writer on the path, to pay it forward by easing their way, it's all the more sweet an accomplishment.

  Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Slim to None

Anywhere But Here

Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who's Determined to Kill Me

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)

Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

I'm Not the Biggest Bitch in this Relationship (I'm a contributor)

And these shorts:
Idol Worship: A Lost Week with the Weirdos and Wannabes at American Idol Auditions

The Gall of It All: And None of the Three F's Rhymes with Duck

Naked Man On Main Street
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 find me on my website

Happy Easter!


    I know I am a bit late with my HAPPY EASTER wishes but I do hope that your Easter is a happy, healthy and blessed day for you and your families! 

   It's an easy day for me now that the kids have grown and we have no wee ones who need to hunt for Easter eggs...I even try to avoid getting Easter candy because we (hubby and I) are the only ones who will eat it...LOL! A far cry from the days of multiple Easter baskets filled with cello grass, plastic eggs filled with pennies and lots and lots of chocolate eggs, bunnies and assorted shapes....

    So, I'm off to cook the ham, hashbrown casserole and green beans.... Hope your day is a good one....! 


Terri is thrilled that the last in her MacLerie Clan series - YIELD TO THE HIGHLANDER - came out in print this week and will be released in digital on May 1st! Visit her website for more info! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Vicky Dreiling: Fictional Families and Friends

One of the things I loved best when I first started reading historical romances were the friends and family members in the books I read. I remember how much I liked the wise grandparent or the loyal butler in the books. I especially enjoyed the interaction of family and friends. It’s little wonder that these special characters started showing up in my own books.

In What a Reckless Rogue Needs, Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire and Lady Angeline Brenham have known each other all of their lives, but their relationship turned more than a little frigid years ago after an incident at a ball. In modern terms, we would call them frenemies. But once a year, their close families meet at a house party and neither are able to escape each other.

I had so much fun creating the various members of their families. I especially had fun with Colin’s twin step-sisters who are always into mischief. How could I not adore his sweet stepmother, and Angeline’s shy little sister?

Colin’s wily father, however, is one of my favorites. He’s determined to see his roguish son settle down with a wife. His methods may seem a trifle unreasonable, but his heart is in the right place.

I can’t ignore the furry family members. The twins have a pug puppy named Hercules who is in desperate need of training. Naturally the twins help him create even more havoc.

Not everything is fun and games. Beneath the surface, Angeline’s family is dealing with issues they find difficult to discuss openly. Unbeknownst to the parents, Colin and Angeline band together to help each other. Along the way, they fall madly, deeply in love.

Do you enjoy reading about families in historical romance novels?  Do you have a preference for certain family members such as grandparents, aunts, brothers, and sisters? Do these family members enhance your reading enjoyment?

Leave a comment telling me what you like about fictional families for a chance to win one copy of WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS (US Only please).  

Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the UK allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her “Trouble.” When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and most of all, long lunches with friends. A native Texan, she holds degrees in English literature and marketing.  Visit her at:

*** Vicky's winner is Laurie G! Please email with your mailing info.***

Friday, April 18, 2014

Susan Stephens: The Purest of Diamonds?

There are some wonderful people who can brighten a day and lighten your life. I count myself lucky to have family members, as well a few precious friends just like this, and they - combined into one character - were the inspiration for my heroine Leila Skavanga.

Leila, the third and, apparently, the quietest of my Skavanga Diamonds, is one of these radiant types who makes us smile and feel good while they're around. I guess we root for them to succeed more than most other types, because while they're busy spreading a glow over everyone else's life they don't spare a thought for themselves.  

And of course I had to pick the hardest of my three men for Leila. Raffa Leon, a ruthless Spanish grandee, finds himself hog-tied and mesmerised by someone so forthright and appealing, he just can't sustain his ruthlessness for very long - though he sure as heck tries! Just as Leila decides that for once in her life that she's going to 'let that mouse inside her roar'!

I hope you enjoy reading the result of this combustible pairing as much as I enjoyed writing the book. And now my question for a signed copy from my backlist is this...

 Who in your life 'lights up your life' and why? There's a signed copy of my book waiting for the best answer, and I for one can't wait to get this happy focused chat underway!!

All the very best of luck to all of you
And, Happy Reading!


*** Susan's winner is Laney4! Please email with your mailing info.***

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lilian Darcy - Bridal Showers

Recently, a friend asked on Facebook about life’s little pleasures, and what we loved. We all at once said, “Coffee!” naturally, but then I started thinking about a few others, and came up with showers.

No, not bridal showers. Those are hideous. C’mon.

…Although if you want to read about train-wreck Bridezilla wedding events – where somebody, somehow, manages to pull a happy ending rabbit out of the hat, even if this happiness does not include the original bridal couple  - you cannot go past the new Great Wedding Giveaway mini-series from  

With authors such as Trish Morey, Kelly Hunter, Sarah Mayberry and Megan Crane involved, there are some amazing books to devour.

The covers, alone, I could eat for breakfast, and since I’m not part of the series as a writer, it means I get to enjoy them a reader. Such a treat!

Wait, where was I? Oh, yes, showers.

Real showers.

Hot showers.

I don’t think we appreciate them enough. Of a morning, it’s that damned coffee that gets all the attention.

But, really, is there anything like a good hot shower?

If you’re a parent, think about when your kids were little (maybe they still are) and how sometimes those minutes you spend in the shower are the only ones you truly have to yourself all day.

If you’re the outdoor type, think about coming back from a day on the boat or the ski slopes or with the horses. You’re filthy and smelly and tired. You strip off, step under those steaming needles and the dirt and fatigue just wash away. You put your water-buffed body into clean, comfortable clothes and then fall asleep on the couch watching re-runs of old crime shows and… ahhh!

If you’re a lover, you get to share your shower. Let’s hope it’s big enough. You lather your hands up with soap and run them all over your beloved’s body, and water streams down your faces and drips into your mouth as you kiss.

Hm, I think Casey and Kira, the hero and heroine I’m writing about, right now, in After the Rain could do with a shower scene of their own…

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Michelle Styles: Premise for Return of the Viking Warrior plus giveaway

because I love knowing where authors get their ideas from, I thought I'd explain a bit about mine for Return of the Viking Warrior
The premise for Return of the Viking Warrior came to me several years before I actually wrote it. I wanted to tell a tale of a woman whose husband returns from war, and then the relationship is very different to the one they had previously.
 At first it was going to be a Roman and then a  Regency. Finally it seemed right to be a Viking and the two leads decided to be cast. My heroine, Kara decided that she was tired of waiting around for my hero and in any case, he was supposed to be dead, so she was going to remarry. Ash, my hero responded by showing up on her wedding day. So it is a back from the dead story which is a trope that I happen to love and have done ever since I first read The Return of Martin Guerre in high school. Does anyone else remember the story? It was made into several movies, most recently Somersby, but it was based on a true story. However, in my story, the returning warrior is indeed the husband, rather than someone pretending to be him.
 I also happen to love the true story of one of the dukes of Richmond (I believe the father of the one whose wife gave the ball before Waterloo) where it was a marriage of convenience to pay a gambling debt. After which the Duke took off on a tour of Europe. When he returned than going to see his bride, he went to the theatre and spied an absolutely gorgeous woman. He made enquiries and learnt that the woman in question was in fact the Duchess of Richmond. It is not recorded how he wooed her, but they did remain devoted to each other for the rest of their lives.
Back from the dead stories are easier to write in historical as communication is so much better today. What was plausible once is far less plausible in our social media connected world. But you still do have the problem of readjusting when someone returns from a long absence, particularly if they have been through a life changing experience such as being on a battlefield.
Return of the Viking Warrior is available both print and ebook in the UK. In the US, it is available as print and ebook through Harlequin and ebook everywhere. 
Because   Return of the Viking Warrior is officially publishing in May, I am doing a giveaway for readers of this blog. Please email me  with the answer to this question: In what year does Return of the Viking warrior take place. (hint read the excerpt).  Please put ToteBags contest in the subject line.
I will do the draw on 21 April. Void where prohibited.
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romances in a wide range of time periods. Her latest Return of the Viking Warrior is published in May 2014. You can learn more about Michelle and her books on