Saturday, May 31, 2014

Hart Johnson: The Energy Involved

You know, I'm no physicist, but I'm pretty sure energy units are SUPPOSED TO be equivalent across the board. But I'm here to tell you BALDERDASH!

I just finished the LAST first draft in a huge serial project that has taken me two years to finish (26 months by the time the last couple are polished and out there). It has been a major marathon requiring carb loading, constant effort and not a few tears. But I did it. Twelve books, serially released, 100 pages at a time—that is 350,000 words—5 normal books. I just kept swimming and survived.

But if I think about the energy required for ONE query letter? There aren't enough carbs in the WORLD to prepare me for that! It's like you need rocket fuel for that one.

Editing? That is more like a really long boring walk than a run... Not as much effort, but MAN it seems to take a lot of time to go the distance, and it is really hard to keep the focus.

The REAL Challenge, Though?

Changing gears. When your brain is in shape to do one of them, the others just really seem like a lot of effort. And after that MARATHON, what you REALLY want to do is just rest for a while. (don't do this—it's a bad idea—getting going after a break, in whatever form of GO you want to be going, is MUCH harder than changing to a new speed).

I almost think we need to come up with writing energy units.

Last weekend I wrote the most words I've ever written in one day: 7,600. That's a lot of words. Thirty pages of words. But it was probably four hours of writing. I had ALL DAY and that was all I could produce. Between sprints I had to rest, do something different, regroup. I mean I HEAR of people who have managed ten or even twenty thousand words in one day, but I just don't think an ordinary brain can DO that.
People suggest to me all the time that I should get dictation software. You know what? My typing speed isn't my limitation. Sixty words a minute for an hour is 3,600 words. My maximum sprint is probably 2,300. MAKING STUFF UP IS HARD WORK.

But MAN it's a good workout. Is there anything more satisfying than that BRILLIANT scene you've been building too all book? Certainly not much. A rush of writing that drains you? A joyous thing even if you end up sobbing.

So what writing tasks suck the life out of you? Which ones build strength? Endurance?

My dream is to get to a place where an agent thinks about selling it, a publisher thinks about promoting it and I can just alternate the writing and the editing. Those of you more into cross-training, more power to you.
Hart Johnson is the author of The Garden Society Mysteries under the pen name Alyse Carlson and is currently serially publishing A Shot in the Light, the first set of which is a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (and available for 99 cents until she is kicked out of the contest, at which point it will return to $2.99: feasibly this is June 13--the first quarter of it is actually free today). She also blogs as the Watery Tart, because she needs still more names to keep track of.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Carol Burnside: Small Town Romance

There’s an old saying of “write what you know” and I know small southern towns, so when I first began writing, my characters lived in the setting I’m most familiar with. I’m from a small Texas town, but I’ve lived in small towns of Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Georgia and Virginia, as well. You could say “southern” runs through my veins. It’s either that or all the sweet tea I’ve consumed.

As small towns go, Sweetwater Springs is not the tiniest, nor is it spreading into a bustling metropolis, but in my fictitious world, it’s located southeast of Little Rock, the real life capital of Arkansas. There, the Baxter family has lived for decades. John Thomas and Reba raised three kids in a rambling house along the meandering banks of Sweetwater Creek. J.T., Travis and Rosie had largely idyllic childhoods, but events in their adult lives were not all rainbows and roses. Their struggles to find the kind of happiness their parents found are the first three stories of my Sweetwater Springs series:  A Suitable Wife, Her Unexpected Family and His Small Town Princess.

If you like “sizzling romance with heart and humor,” give my Sweetwater Springs series a try. A Suitable Wife is available in ebook and print. Her Unexpected Family is available in ebook (print coming soon) and His Small Town Princess will release by summer.

Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of A Suitable Wife or Her Unexpected Family!  (winner's choice).

Here’s what others are saying about this series:
A Suitable Wife

“From friendship to love . . . a bumpy ride, but so worth it.” – Shirley Buchanan, Romance Book Haven 5/5 stars Goodreads review

“a perfect afternoon read not to be missed.” – Susan May, 5/5 stars Amazon review

“This book was well worth the sleepy morning. A Suitable Wife has it all. Passion, friendship, a villainous ex (or two), picturesque settings, heart touching back-story, dedicated family, and some great love scenes.” – Tami 5/5 stars Goodreads review

“a love story that satisfies in every way. Five enthusiastic stars! Very highly recommended!” Pam Asberry, Amazon review

I loved this book...! can't wait to read more in the series from this author. –Anon, (B&N) 4/5 stars

Author Carol Burnside's beautifully written love story had my heart strings working overtime. – Stephanie Lasley, The Kindle Book Review 5/5 stars

Simply excellent...she brought out the nuances of emotional vulnerabilities so very well. The story tugged the heart and I read it in one go.– Monica, Amazon 5/5 stars 

Her Unexpected Family
“Ms Burnside's books are always fun, always carefully crafted to maintain the readers interest and keep the pages turning.” – S.Weeaks, 5/5 star review, Amazon

“I laughed at the humor, cried with the heartbreaking parts and sympathized with their plight as they tried to find their lasting love. Well written characters meshed with a well developed plot for true reading pleasure. Real page turner. I look forward happily to the next book in the series.” – Shirley Buchanan, Romance Book Haven  5/5 star review

 “I recommend this read for readers that don't mind pulling out the tissues and looking like a fool when crying over a book and if you don't mind laughing out loud in the middle of nowhere whilst reading.” -- Desere 4/5 stars 

“Be prepared to have tissues at hand. This is one roller-coaster of an emotional story. It is tender, heart-warming and at times heart-breaking. But I loved it.” – Laura 5/5 stars

- - - - -
Carol Burnside is an award-winning author of the Sweetwater Springs series of “sizzling romance with heart and humor.” Her personal second-chance-at-love story resulted in a marriage to her high school sweetheart of thirty-plus years. Also published in short stories, Carol’s novel length manuscripts have placed in numerous 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! Enjoy excerpts, review snippits, and more about her sexy Crainesian characters on her website  or connect with her on
Connect with her via: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Newsletter / Goodreads / Pinterest

***Carol's winner is Cindy Hamilton! Please email with your details!***

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Amy Raby: Writing the Nerdy Heroine

As a lifelong geek girl, I’ve always had a soft spot for nerdy heroines in romance novels. Whether she’s a gamer, or a scientist, or a computer programmer, or a fan fiction writer, I identify with the nerdy girl. So when I sat down to write the third book in my epic fantasy romance series, Prince’s Fire, I decided to write one.

The fantasy world in my series is at roughly a late 18th-century level of technology. There are no computers, no gaming conventions, no fan fiction that I’m aware of (but who knows?). There is, at least, a burgeoning science movement. But my stories in the Hearts and Thrones series always have an adventure component to them. What practical skills would a scientist heroine have that would aid her in a fantasy adventure story?

Fortunately, history gave me a lot to work with in solving that problem. Scientists and engineers have played a pivotal role in a number of military conflicts over the last couple of millenia. Consider the engineers of the Roman army, who could break into walled cities. Consider chemical inventions such as Greek fire.  Consider medieval siegecraft, the scientists of the Manhattan Project, the codebreakers at Bletchley Park. All of these are cases of science and ingenuity triumphing over military might.

For my Prince’s Fire heroine, Celeste, I chose code breaking, since that fit my story of adventure and political intrigue. She’s a mathematician and a code breaker, and in order to help her husband-to-be track down the assassins who are after his head, she’ll have to use brains rather than brawn.

Do you identify with nerdy heroines? What are some of your favorite books/movies/TV shows that feature them?

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ann Roth: New Mini-Series

This month marks the release of A Rancher’s Honor, the first book in my new Prosperity, Montana miniseries.

Have you ever done something totally out of character–and ended up with a whole lot more than you ever bargained for?

That’s what happens when Lana Carpenter and Sly Pettit …

But wait–I’m not going to tell you about that. J

What I WILL say is that Lana Carpenter runs a daycare in Prosperity, and that Sly Pettit is a sexy rancher. They don’t know the same people and probably would never have met if they hadn’t … There I go again, wanting to share this story right now, when I’d rather you pick up the book and find out for yourself. J

How about a little background instead? Prosperity, Montana, is a fictitious town not far from Great Falls. This ranching town also features great hiking and camping, and the gorgeous Prosperity Falls, famous not only for their beauty, but for the marriage proposals and weddings that take place within sight of the falls. If that isn’t a great setting for finding true love…

What’s your idea of the perfect place for a marriage proposal? If you’re married or engaged, how did he (or she or you) propose?

Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of A Rancher’s Honor.

For more information about Ann, visit, drop by Ann’s Facebook Author page or check out her tweets at @Ann_Roth.

***Ann's winner is Stephanie Wright! Please email with your details!***

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Lori Wilde: Can Star-Crossed Lovers Live Happily-Ever-After?

I’ve always been a sucker for star-crossed lovers stories. Romeo and Juliet, anyone? When I was trying to come up with a plot idea for the final installment of the Cupid, Texas series Love with a Perfect Cowboy set in the rugged Davis Mountains of the Trans-Pecos region, it dawned on me that I’d never written a book with this particular theme.

But I’m a romance writer, so of course I had to give my Romeo and Juliet a happy ending. And there began the challenge of writing Luke and Melody’s story. How to repair the riff of a hundred-year-old family feud so that my star-crossed lovers could be together forever? How do you take an enemy, and turn him into a lover? How do you overcome generations of hurt and betrayal?

While I was mulling all this over, my husband, and I gone to Pigeon Forge, TN in our RV for a book tour, and as we drove past the Hatfield and McCoy’s dinner theatre, the entire plot started to unfold in my head. (This is what authors mean when they say ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. You never know what’s going to trigger inspiration.)

Still, writing the book was tough. How does a woman, especially in a small, close-knit town, buck family and friends when they hate the man she loves, to get her happily-ever-after? This is the central question I explore in Love with a Perfect Cowboy.

What about you? Ever love someone your family and friends didn’t approve of? If so, how did the romance turn out? If not, do you know any star-crossed lovers who made it work?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a $25.00 gift card from Barnes & Noble or Amazon!  (winner's choice)


***Lori's winner is Ada!  Please contact with your mailing details!***

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Beth Yarnall: Imperfect Heroines

Maggie Mae Castro, the heroine of my Maggie Mae Misadventures series, is not your typical heroine. She has tattoos that document her mistakes and life lessons she’s learned, a criminal record, impulse control issues, and an anger management problem. She gets arrested as often as most people go to the grocery store. And by the end of the first book, Wake Up Maggie, she’s on parole.

She’s definitely not perfect. She messes up and often does the wrong thing for the right reason. Despite all of that, she has a strong sense of right and wrong and a code of ethics that she lives by.

Maggie also recognizes that she’s a work in progress. In You’re Mine, Maggie, she’s trying really hard to change her ways and curb her impulses. But change is a hard and she often takes a step and a half back for every two or three she manages to take forward.

In the third book, Find Me Maggie, her biggest secret is revealed. A secret that continues to impact her life in ways that she never imagined. Maggie is one of the most interesting and unpredictable characters I’ve ever written. I literally never know what she’s going to say or do next. She’s the most real non-real person I’ve ever written.

Can characters be too perfect? Do you as a reader ever long for a character who is less than perfect? 

Best selling author, Beth Yarnall, writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and the occasional hilarious tweet. She lives deep in the heart of Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their rescue dog where she is hard at work on her next novel. For more information about Beth and her novels please visit her

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Fifth Avenue Trilogy Book Two: Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

I’m so excited to be a part of the Fifth Avenue Trilogy, a multi-author series featuring Maisey Yates (who wrote the prequel and the first book in the series, Avenge Me, out next week!), Kate Hewitt and me! 

I won’t spoil the first book for you because really, you need to read it!  My book is the second in the trilogy and it features two very strong, yet very damaged people…

Ten years ago, Hunter Grant failed the woman he loved.

So it seemed like a great plan to make sure he failed at everything else, too—as spectacularly as possible. 

In Scandalize Me, the second book of the Fifth Avenue trilogy, Hunter has finally moved back to New York City after a decade spent fighting his demons and letting them win.  He’s disgustingly wealthy but after his antics on the football field as the worst behaved quarterback in history, he’s also a national disgrace, which works out well—because a disgrace is the only thing he knows how to be.  He doesn’t want to dig deeper into what happened that night ten years ago.  He doesn’t want to help his old friends figure out what really happened or force a showdown with Jason Treffen, the man responsible.  He’s comfortable as he is: estranged from everyone, disgraced and disreputable, and alone.

Enter Zoe Brook.  She spent too long on the wrong side of Jason Treffen and she’s ready to take her revenge.  She just needs Hunter to play along—and she’s willing to do whatever she has to do to make sure he does. 

Neither one of them is ready for the passion that burns between them from the first glance—or the least bit sure what to do about it when each of them is hiding the most important parts of themselves from each other.  And the world.  Or when every touch seems to nudge them closer to the truths they least want to share.

But ghosts and secrets are the least of their problems when they put together a plan that will finally take Jason Treffen down—because a game stakes this high means only that there’s that much more to lose…


It wasn’t the first time a man had propositioned her.  But it was the first time she’d felt a burst of flame lick over her when he did, and she was terribly afraid he knew that, too.  That he felt the same slap of heat.
She couldn’t let that happen, it was impossible, so she shoved it aside.
“Is that caveman code for ‘sleep with me so I can put you back in your proper place?’” she asked, cool and challenging and back on familiar ground, because she knew this routine.  She could handle this.  Jason Treffen had taught her well, one painful lesson at a time.  “Because you should know before you try, dragging me off by my hair somewhere won’t end the way you think it will.  I can promise you that.”
Hunter looked intrigued and his head canted slightly to one side, but that wolfish regard of his never wavered—bright and hot and knowing.  Reaching much too far inside of her, deep into her bones, like an ache. 
It was that last part that made her wonder exactly how much control she was clinging to, after all.
 “I don’t want to drag you off somewhere by your hair and have my way with you, Ms. Brook.”
The smile on her lips turned mocking, but she was more concerned with the sudden low, slow thump of her heart and the heavy, wet heat low in her belly.  “Because you’re not that kind of guy?”
There was something more than predatory in his eyes then, hard and hot, a dark knowing in the curve of his mouth that connected with that deep drumroll inside of her, making it her pulse, her breath, her worst fear come true.
“I’m absolutely that kind of guy.  But I told you.  You have to ask me nicely.” 
He smiled, as if he was the one in control.  And she couldn’t allow it.
“No,” she said, furious that it came out like a whisper, thin and uncertain.  His smile deepened for a moment, like a promise.
“Your loss,” he murmured, and that aching fire swelled inside of her, nearly bursting.
And then he laughed again, dismissing her that easily, and turned to go.  Again.  For good this time, she understood, and she couldn’t let that happen.
Zoe had no choice.  She pulled out her best and biggest gun and aimed it right at him.
“I wouldn’t do that, Mr. Grant.”  She didn’t know why that dryness in her mouth seemed to translate into something like trembling everywhere else, when she’d known before she’d approached him that it would probably come to this.  She waited until he looked back at her, and pretended the blue gleam of his eyes didn’t get to her at all, with all that weary amusement, like he could see right through her when she knew—she knew—he couldn’t.  That no one could.  She made herself smile.  “I know about Sarah.”

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beth Albright: A Deep South Passion

First of all, thank you Lee for having me! Thrilled to connect with your readers today!

I had a little epiphany the other day when a reader wrote to me and asked me why I started writing. It got me thinking. I reached back into the dusty cobweb-filled corners of my mind-- and found my heart. My heart has always been at the center of my writing—and I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. So, “my heart needed to speak”, was the answer to that question—I write to satisfy my heart. To express my heart. To share my heart.

My heart resides way down in the Deep South, where the most hilarious, most passionate, most resilient women I have even known live. Tuscaloosa, Alabama is home for me, although I have lived quite literally all over this country and now live in San Francisco, CA. Still, the college town of Tuscaloosa, with our famous champion football team, The Crimson Tide, The Black Warrior River that runs through town, and the tremendous mouth-watering food all beg me to come home and nestle myself on the banks of the river under the brilliant turquoise and creamsicle sunsets. Moss hanging in lacy shawls across tree-tunneled streets call my name.

But mostly it’s the funny women-- the women who supported my mom and had her back constantly helping her raise my brother and me after my Daddy died in a car accident. My mother was a young widow at Twenty-five with two babies. I was only four years old and my brother was two.  Over my whole life, during tragedy or triumph, we broke out the Krispy Kremes and sat around my grandmother’s yellow 1950s styled kitchen table laughing until we couldn’t. I learned a lot about life from those women and it’s them I love to write about.

My mother was the craziest of them all, carrying a Mary Poppins sized bag for a purse and pulling anything we ever needed out of it—from batteries, to a plate, it was magically in that “purse.” Sometimes I just stood, staring at my mother—my mouth wouldn’t close. My aunt would whisper in my ear, “Beth, your mother is crazy, never ever forget that.”  Then we would all somehow be glad Mother had that extension cord in that purse! Yep. She does to this day. All of them were a tad different. Fun is the way I remember it all. And Happy. Happy in the face of real life that was sometimes tragic.

These women are what I know. They are my passion. That’s why comedy is such a huge part of my stories. In my life, we couldn’t have made it without all the laughter. 

Writing was the way I could be home--home in Tuscaloosa with my circle of hilarious, strong, resilient women. And of course all that delicious food, along with a string of pearls, a little Aquanet, some lipstick and high heels-- cause, honey, even in a crisis, a southern woman has to look good after all! It’s in our raising—part of the tradition that has been carried down from mother to daughter for hundreds of years.

Passion is what a writer, any artist, taps to hit that geyser of truth-- the flow. I know mine lies in the Deep South, in Tuscaloosa, with all that hilarity and sweet sisterhood that calls me home, at least in my heart, every day.

The Perfect Score:

Ginny Bloom Hunnicutt is crawling back home to Cottonwood Cove Alabama-- her promising CNN news-reporting career in shambles when an on-air flub cost her the job and cost CNN a lawsuit. Putting ego aside, she takes a position at the Chatterbox – the local weekly newspaper run by her mother, the town gossip. What’s a southern belle to do in a crisis but run home to her mama?

But when a mysterious hot high school football coach rolls into town, Ginny’s luck begins to change. Seems he has more secrets than a shady politician and Ginny’s determined to dig up the truth, and write the story that will get her career back on track. Everyone knows in a small, southern town, nothing stays private.
But the more she delves into his past, the more she begins to fall for the former college football star.

The coach’s star player has some secrets of his own and when Ginny uncovers it all, she must decide if she should reveal everything or follow her heart and protect the people she has grown to care for.

Author Beth Albright weaves a saucy southern tale filled with intrigue, romance and laugh out-loud comedy. From the bright lights of Friday night football to the darkened bedroom of unexpected lovers, it’s a richly layered story with more twists and turns—and mud, than an Alabama back road.

Also look for Beth's novella, Saved By The Belles, available now!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kim Boykin: Writing Sisters (And a fabulous contest for you and your bestie)

My fabulous author pal, Erika Marks, is my writing sister. We’ve raised our stories in the sweet town of Magnolia Bay, the new of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Although it sounds like heaven, a beautiful historic coastal town full of feisty heroines and hot heroes, don’t go looking for it anywhere on the map. But the cool thing about writing this series with Erika is that it is so very real to us, and while that’s extremely common for authors, having a partner to discuss the new restaurant that just popped up on Bayshore Boulevard or the new hottie who just moved to town is SO much fun.

While love does reign supreme amongst our heroines and hotties, there’s a strong bond of sisterhood in Erika’s story BET THE HOUSE and my story SWEET HOME CAROLINA that runs deeper than the Atlantic Ocean. It is that sisterhood that Erika and I celebrate every day, the same that you and your sisters and best girlfriends know so well. And in honor of all that sisterhood and girlfriend power, Erika and I have a fun contest!

In my novella SWEET HOME CAROLINA, Darcy Vance is in danger of losing Mimosa House, the B&B she’s poured her heart and soul into just because of its sordid past. But her new besties in Magnolia Bay come to her rescue, turning Darcy’s historic Mimosa House into a fabulous haven for girlfriend getaways. To celebrate the spirit of Mimosa House, we’re offering an opportunity for YOU and your BEST FRIEND to join Erika and me for a girlfriend weekend on the Isle of Palms, which is a very real place and a very real jewel of the Lowcountry!

Located just 20 minutes from romantic Charleston, the house is a fabulous beach haven that will house SIX lucky winners and their besties! Like Darcy’s fabulous B&B, breakfast and lodging are included. The trip is based on availability, usually during the fall or spring.

How to enter? Simply send an email to and say enter me, and we’ll also keep you up to date on all the spicy Lowcountry romances coming soon! If you want to get TWO EXTRA ENTRIES, go to Facebook and LIKE our Magnolia Bay page!

Hope you have as much fun reading our Lowcountry romance as much as we writing them!


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Letter to All Millenials by Jenny Gardiner

authors note: 
With it being graduation time, I thought I'd post a recent column I ran as my regular column in my city's newspaper. It elicited a bit of response so I figured I'd re-post it here for your contemplation...

Dear Millenials:
            On behalf of my generation, I'd like to apologize. I know there are those who consider you pampered and fragile and expectant of handouts, desperate for the wub-wub-wub of your helicopter parents to swoop in and save you from failing.
            But I see it differently. I see us as having failed you on far too many levels. And for that I'm most sorry.
            We arrogant Baby Boomers thought we knew it all: how to succeed in business (and life) without really trying. Yet then imposed on our children a set of rigorous expectations, so that they became near-paralyzed in their Herculean efforts to achieve them. To make matters worse, the terms and conditions got changed while they were busy killing themselves to succeed by our skewed definition.
            Yeah, my tribe imposed structure out the wazoo: no more playing outside, for fear of kidnappings. Only organized sports, the earlier and more intense the better. Learn your Beethoven while in utero, by God, all to prepare you for a lifetime of preparing you. For what? That's what a lot of these kids are starting to wonder now that they're young adults. For what?
            They had to overachieve in order to achieve. The one or two AP courses of my era morphed into quintuple that and more. Childhood became a grind, working to the breaking point, whether in academics, sports or work, preparing you for work. Because these kids practically had to know their career path by Kindergarten.
            And in the middle of it all, the bottom dropped out. Even though they did what they were told: work your fingers to the bone to get into the premier college. Don't you dare ever do anything wrong, because it will destroy your permanent record, permanently. Caught with a beer at the age of 18? You'd better hang it up and plan for a lifetime of misery, because You. Will. Pay. Forever.
            And now? With an economy my peers decimated, these young adults carry debilitating college debt, for which they cannot find relief: Congress made sure they could never, ever discharge that debt. And despite that unspoken deal we made with them to abandon their childhoods in order to achieve their adult goals, they can't find jobs, thanks to an economy that still barely chugs along.
            Instead we have bright, productive, ambitious kids inventorying sweaters at The Gap if they're lucky, or floundering for years in unpaid internships, because that's all that's out there. No insurance, can't afford rent, so they live at home, feeling like losers. Type-A-perfect-score-on-the-SAT-attended-UVA-or-Haverford-or-Dennison-invented-the-cure-to-cancer-but-can't-get-hired-losers.
            I want to tell them, "Go. Have fun. Stop worrying about everything." Yet they were brainwashed into a culture of fear. How could you not be afraid, 24/7, when we have CNN broadcasting nothing but "updates" (even when there are none) on a missing and presumed malevolently-downed jet? When Fox News' business model is "scare-the-hell-out-of-you-24/7"? Weaned on war and attacks and uncertainty, it's impossible not to "catch" the fear if you're subjected to it long enough.
            My advice for those soon to enter college is not to amass reams of debt for an undergraduate degree at an overpriced university; stay local and save. Look for scholarships when possible, but ironically, in reality, most super-achievers actually don't qualify for merit money anyhow, so why bother? Better yet? Take a gap year and breathe.
            Try to have fun while you're in college, while trying on lots of hats to see what truly does strike your fancy. And when you graduate? Travel. See the world. Do it on the cheap while cheap doesn't bother you so much: assuming eventually you'll actually earn some money, you'll get soft and grow accustomed to sleeping on beds, and want to eat at nice restaurants and drink good wine. But now? Forego the comforts to burnish the memories of your journey, which will far more imprint on you and your future than would that unpaid internship-to-nowhere that lies in wait regardless of when you get back.
            I wish I had answers for these young adults who doubled down on our rules and were robbed of the intended results. I wish stress and anxiety in young people wasn't at record levels. I wish we weren't drugging these kids up with pharmaceuticals to counter the irrational demands we've placed on them.
            And mostly, I wish we hadn't denied them their childhoods. But I'm encouraged that now that they're adults, these bright people are realizing they can rewrite the rules to suit their needs, and they can find joy in less, and not feel bound by this rewardless, perpetual, nose-to-the-grindstone movement we launched on them. They're eschewing the materialism of my generation in favor of simplicity. Their "failure" is ultimately their greatest success.
            I was inspired recently by a young couple that travel the country, playing music at farmers markets, sleeping in a retrofitted van. Or the young man who took a break from straight-A grades in a premier college to decompress and work on a sailboat instead. And the UVA grad who got tired of a futile job search and instead took her barista act on the road, California-bound.
            Sadly, our cost-cutting, budget-busting, bottom-line society has rendered the finer things in life irrelevant. Music education, arts education, a liberal arts degree? All now viewed by "deciders" as obsolete. Value is only placed on science and technology, so those without such skills are considered professionally irrelevant.
            In the meantime, my generation wanted what we wanted and needed it now. And that means sorry, kids, we've fished out your oceans, drilled out your Earth, squandered your resources, and now, lucky you, we're leaving you to hold the bag and figure out if you can fix the mess we've handed you. Thank goodness we made sure you were the smartest generation ever. You're gonna need it.
            In the meantime, in this graduation season, I wish you all nothing but peace and happiness. And hope the journey to find that is a joyful one. 

  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
find me on Facebook: fan page
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 find me on my website

Historical Accuracy vs Literary License?

Nothing starts arguments on writers' loops and email groups faster than the discussion about whether writers - especially of historicals - can change history or the facts or not? Over the weekend, I presented a workshop to writer about this topic....and the discussion was. . . lively!

   I know when I was only a reader - before the need to tell stories struck - I loved learning historical tidbits and then going off to find out more. An unfamiliar place or king. Something I'd never read before. An intriguing bit about a historical event. All of those would send me looking for more information. And spending hours and hours reading about those bits. And remember, this was mostly before the internet, so it meant going to the library or looking in (shocking!) the encyclopedia! 

   I didn't mind if I discovered the author had changed something, not if the storytelling had kept me turning pages, unable to stop reading. I liked the occasional challenges and the intriguing lure of more facts to learn. 

And then I became a fiction writer and I needed to decide how I would approach all that alluring REAL history when writing my stories. 

My decision -- to know the real history but to change, mold, twist, revise it as needed to make my story work!  BUT - in deference to those who are offended by that approach, I do add an Author's Note to explain any liberties I might have taken....

How about you? Do you get twitchy when an author goes rogue and changes history? Do you care if it's accurate if the story has held you prisoner or only when glaring changes or errors happen? 

Terri is thrilled that her current book is being featured in many retails stores along with bonus content. And, her last book - The Highlander's Dangerous Temptation is being promoted for the next two weeks at a special price - 99¢!! Visit her FB page or profile for more info and links! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Susan Stephens: RT Convention 2014

Why travel so far to convention?

Because this is when I get to meet my readers, feel their enthusiasm, listen to them talk about their lives and the books they love to read - the story lines that have touched them the most, and the characters they have fallen in love with.

I always tell everyone that I have the most wonderful readers in the world, and I mean that. I feel I already know you when we meet, as we have connected through story.

This time has been awesome, with wonderful examples of readers' devotion to the romance genre, and I know that next time will be awesome too. So I have to say to you, why not convention? I would be denying myself the most wonderful experience imaginable, and I'm not going to do that!

Thank you. Thank you all for making me so very welcome yet again. I love sharing my dreams with you, and I love you.

Let me share some marvellous moments with you now.

Here's a picture of my dear friend Carole Mortimer with publisher Diane Moggy, shortly before Carole received a pioneer award from RT.

Carole began writing in 1978 and has brought untold reading pleasure to millions.
Below you can see me with my regular signing buddy (we are seated alphabetically) Shelli Stevens. I was thrilled to learn that Shelli hit the New York Times list since we last met.

That's another good reason to travel to RT or RWA. I count myself lucky to have made some wonderful friends and when we meet up again it's as if we've never been away.

My last shot is an overview of the giant signing, where readers and authors have the chance to meet.

One of my readers explained the joy on her face by telling me, 'This is my Hollywood.'
I can tell you that to me, this is a chance to be with my readers and makes every second I spend in my writing solitude back home MORE than worthwhile.

My question to you is this... What fills your heart with joy when you meet your friends?
Here's to the next time!

My love and thanks to you all,

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Romance in the Outback by Fiona Lowe

Whether you're in the deserts of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or Australia, the heat, the dust and the isolation are the same. Oh and the bugs! Weird and wonderful, annoying bugs ;-)

Standing in a desert, surrounded by the low foliage, you can't help but get a sense that nature is so much stronger than you. The sun is so hot, the place is so dry and as everything looks the same, it's easy to get lost.  

But for all that overwhelms me about the Outback and the desert, there is also so many things that fascinate me and one of them is why these places even got settled back in the 1800s when there was no electricity, no telephone, no permanent water supply and no aircon!

Today there's still a mystical quality to these isolated places and they make the perfect backdrop to a romance novel!  For the first time for my USA readers, Harlequin have bundled four of my books together in an anthology called Fiona Lowe's Weddings.  Three book are set in the Outback...and one in Vietnam! 

The Warragurra Duo, Wedding in WarragurraThe Playboy Doctor's Marriage Proposal are set in the Australian Outback in a town with a Flying Doctor's base. It's a land of blazing summers and bitterly cold winters, populated by people who live on hope and faith and are frequently battered by the elements. 
In Wedding In Warragurrra, Dr. Baden Tremont is committed to raising his tween daughter and never expected love to strike twice. Sarah Lawson thought she'd loved once before but living in a town who blames her for the death of the local sports hero , she's not prepared to love again. Slowly, they find their way forward by honouring the past and embracing the future.
In book two of the Warragurra books, red dust meets city smog. Emily Tippet with her pink hair, baggy clothes and an ability to hot-wire a car or tractor, brand cattle and shoot a mean game of pool, is an enigma to Sydney playboy doctor, Linton Gregory. He's never met anyone like her or her close and loving family. With her four brothers and a father, dating Emily  is like having to deal with five fathers. I had so much fun getting dust on Linton's Italian loafers and forcing Emily out of her comfort clothes and revealing her true self to the world.

The Surgeon's Chosen Wife is set in tropical Queensland, the absolute opposite of the dry inland with its lush bougainvillaea, mango-laden trees, sweltering humidity and massive rainfall. I love the old Queenslander homesteads on their stilts and in this novel, the house became a character in its own right as Ryan Harrison, former surgeon, returns unhappily to Yakkaburra to recuperate from a near-death experience.  His neighbour is Sarah Rigby, single mum and the town's GP who'd gone to school with him. Ryan can't fathom why she didn't run screaming from town years ago like he did. I love this story with the theme of healing both physically and emotionally, plus I got to include a gorgeous dog, a kelpie-bordercollie cross, who was based on the wonderful Meg, who sadly passed away a few weeks ago.

The final book in the anthology is a novel that had the working title, "The Vietnam Book." Now titled, A Woman To Belong To,  it is set all over the beautiful country of Vietnam. Dr Tom Bracken was a 'cardboard box baby, flown out of Vietnam at Saigon fell in 1975. Now he's working in Hanoi and trying to find his birth mother, believing his life cannot start until the missing part of it is found. The arrival of Bec Monahan at his door, offering to 'help the children' starts him on another journey entirely. Bec has been left a lot of money but to her it's tarnished and is a constant reminder of her troubled childhood. Together, she and Tom challenge their beliefs about each other as Vietnam weaves her magic over them both, but is magic enough?

As I said before, these books have never been released in the USA and  I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed writing them. For photos, excerpts and the back ground story behind each of the novels, please pop by my website
These books are set around Australia and around the world and it made me think, which do I prefer... the beach or the desert and why? I've visited Arizona and Nevada as well as the glorious beaches of Florida and the east coast of the USA and I'm torn! They both have their own unique beauty. What about you? Beach or desert?

Fiona Lowe's Weddings can be purchased from AmazonBarnes & NobleHarlequin USA, iBooks, and all  USA eBook retailers.
Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin , Carina Press and in 2015, Berkley USA. 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 website, facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Nadia Lee: Three Reasons Why I Write Romance

1. Romance novels have a happy ending. Some people may call that unrealistic or foolish, and yes, I realize the world is more depressing than upbeat at times. But I don't want to subscribe to that kind of negativity. I want my readers to feel good after they read my books. And how could anyone not be happy when two people find love?

2. Heroes. Romance heroes are fun to write about. One of my readers asked me if I base my characters after people I know in real life. She was most curious about my heroes. :) I don't. My heroes are basically who I think would be the most perfect man for the heroine for any given story. So Ethan Lloyd from Reunited in Love (Hearts on the Line, Book 2) is sophisticated, sexy, rich, employed, patient, cooks like dream and has amazing stamina. Why? Because Kerri needed somebody nurturing and loving to show her she can entrust him with her heart. Meanwhile Blaine Davis from Forever in Love (Hearts on the Line, Book 5) is somewhat rough around the edges, a bit impulsive from time to time, but is very clear on what’s right and wrong because Catherine needed somebody who could make her see that she's an amazing woman, not just flashy trophy-wife material.
3. Heroines. I don't write about heroines I couldn't be friends with in real life. How can I root for a woman I don't like? :) They're generally smart, well-meaning and overcome their past to better their present and future. And I try to give them qualities that would make them perfect for their men. Amandine Monroe Lloyd from Redemption in Love (Hearts on the Line, Book 3) is so patient and loving that her husband Gavin couldn't help but realize it's okay to be emotionally open to her. It’s clear just from her personality that she'll never break his heart or stop loving him.
So now you tell me: why do you READ romance?

Nadia Lee is a contemporary romance author living in Japan with her husband and toddler boy. Her latest series is the Hearts on the Line. The first book, Vengeful in Love, is currently free on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Google Play. The latest book in the series, Forever in Love, was just released on May 12.

Connect with Nadia Lee via her new release alert, blog, Facebook and Twitter.