Saturday, August 29, 2015

Lauri Robinson: The Roaring Twenties

When my editor gave me the go-ahead to write a mini-series set during the roaring twenties, I was elated. That era implemented so many changes—technology advancements in transportation, radio, and movies; cultural changes with more people living in cities than on farms; and social changes, especially for women. And, yes, Prohibition. The Volstead Act instituted a time where most every American broke the law, and paved a way for the outlaws of the Wild West to become highly motivated and well-organized associations of gangs and mobsters.

But not all who ‘dabbled’ in the bootlegging business were hard-core criminals.

I chose to set my stories in my home state of Minnesota because of the local history. The growing season here is short, and in the late 1800’s the University of Minnesota had created a corn derivative that did extremely well in the area. They named it Minnesota 13 and during World War l, farmers bought up surrounding properties as the demand for corn grew. However, once the war ended, so did the demand. Searching for ways to feed their families, many of those hardworking farmers discovered Minnesota 13—the corn—created a smooth whiskey that soon took on the same name. It could be brewed in barns, sheds, basements, and in many cases, the kitchen. Minnesota 13—the whiskey—became so popular that during prohibition it was shipped around the world much like the corn had years before. I used that bit of information to create the Nightingale family, consisting of four daughters, and their powerful father, Roger Nightingale, who had amassed wealth bootlegging Minnesota 13 whiskey.

A bit more local history I chose to focus on was about the gangs and mobsters out of Chicago who had summer homes and hide outs in Minnesota. Researching for these books was as fun as writing them. A friend and I took a field trip to the White Bear Lake area. The curator of the historical society there had maps, pictures, newspaper articles, and an abundance of other information she readily shared, confirming that was the perfect place for Nightingale’s Resort.

My husband and I visited an old car museum where the owner pulled aside the ropes and let me climb in cars of the era to substantiate just how small they were back then, and we took a weekend trip to a resort on the North Shore that claimed Al Capone had hid out in a fish house on Lake Superior an entire winter. My favorite part of research for these books was the exhibit put on by the Minnesota Historical Society. Their feature included a Bootlegger’s Ball. Dressed as flappers and gangsters, several family members joined me in a night of fun and learning. There were reconstructed Speakeasies, cocktails that had been designed during the Twenties to disguise the taste of homebrew alcohol, and a Charleston dance off among the many exhibits. 

Of course you can’t have bootleggers without Prohibition Agents, and I read numerous books and websites concerning the increase in government to combat the somewhat ‘racy’ environment and conflicts brought on by the Volstead Act—which was named after the Minnesota Congressman Andrew Volstead who was ousted shortly after the act was implemented.

All in all, I had a tremendous amount of fun researching and writing The Daughter’s of the Roaring Twenties stories, which include, The Runaway Daughter, The Bootlegger’sDaughter, The Rebel Daughter, and The Forgotten Daughter.

I’ll give away an Epub or PDF ebook version of The Runaway Daughter next Monday to a commenter who tells me what they love most about that era!  

Connect with Lauri: 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Eve Gaddy: The Allure of Notes

I have an endless fascination with notes. I write them. Everywhere. On stickies, in notebooks, on magazines and random pieces of paper. On napkins, paper towels and tissues. I even use the notes in my phone sometimes, or the note function on my computer.

I write notes about my books. Notes out the ying-yang. I have attempted (note the word attempted) to organize my note taking by buying several hundred different notebooks. Okay, that's an exaggeration... Maybe. But I do have a lot. I try to have one for each book or series I'm working on or will be working on. I have one for songs because I have a song of the day I put on social media, as well as a playlist for every book. I have one labeled Miscellaneous. I have another labeled social media, computer stuff and Scrivener.

You know what they have in common? They could all be labeled miscellaneous. The song notebook comes closest to have nothing but songs in it. But even that one has some random notes about something completely unrelated to music. Just a few pages, though.

The problem is that I never seem to have the correct notebook when I need it. And if I can't find the notebook immediately, I grab the nearest one. Or the nearest available writing surface. Consequently, when I go looking for notes say, on my newest Whiskey River book, One Night With The Bad Boy:

I have to look through nearly every one of my notebooks to find what I'm looking for. Not to mention, the loose pieces of paper with notes on them. Often, when and if I do find what I'm looking for, I can't read my handwriting. It's very frustrating. Every few weeks (months?) I go through and try to reorganize my notes. That lasts for a day or two.

Some of you might say, "Eve, why don't you look for the correct notebook until you find it and then write down whatever you need to?" That's a great idea. Unfortunately, I've learned from experience that if I wait, even long enough to find the proper notebook, I risk losing the thought completely. And that's even worse than finding a note about One Night With the Bad Boy in the notebook about The Billionaire's Charade:

Do you do what I do? Or are you far more organized? And if you are, can you help me?

The Billionaire's Charade will be available September 21. Look for all the Amalfi Nights Billionaire's Books:

Amalfi Night Billionaires Series
Book 1: The Billionaire's Temptation by Katherine Garbera out now!
Book 2: The Billionaire's Deception by Mimi Wells out now!
Book 3: The Billionaire's Betrayal by Nancy Robards Thompson 8/31
Book 4: The Billionaire's Secret by Kathleen O'Brien 9/14
Book 5: The Billionaire's Charade by Eve Gaddy 9/21

One Night With The Bad Boy is available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ibooks and Google Play.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Victoria Purman: The Best Review I've Ever Had

So there’s an author thing. You may or many not have heard of it.

And no, it’s not about how much coffee we need when we’re writing a book (one cup a day for me).

Or about the amount of chocolate it takes to write a book (not admitting to ANYTHING on that one).

And no, it’s not about how hard it is to stare at pictures of gorgeous men for inspiration (you’re right, the only problem with that is that it’s terribly distracting).

It’s the to-read-or-not-to-read thing.

The to-read-or-not-to-read-our-reviews thing.

I read all my reviews. Every single one. I can take it – the good and the bad. The meh and the marvelous.

And why do I do it? Do I have some kind of sado-masochistic streak or something? Nah, it’s nothing like that.

I spend a lot of time in front of my Mac staring out the window and talking to my dog. Oh shoot, that should have said, I spend a lot of time pounding a keyboard and writing books.

And after I’ve thought and written and rewritten and edited and edited again and the book is finally out there in the world, hell yeah I want to know what people think of it!

I really like knowing that I’ve made people laugh or cry or sigh or that I’ve taken them to places they may one day like to visit. (Australia, anyone?) I like to know if readers liked my characters and my stories, if they found their dilemmas real. I love knowing that I made someone’s lady parts tingle for the first time in a long time (yes, someone actually told me this!)

And – yes – I can cop it on the chin when someone says they didn’t like one of my books. As Forrest Gump said, life is like a box of chocolates (See how I brought this back around to chocolate?) Some people like hard centres. Some like fudge. Some like peppermint creams and some like nuts. Some people don’t even like chocolate, although I find this impossible to comprehend.

And all of that’s okay. Maybe I’m a glass half full kinda gal. I know some authors find it very difficult to read their reviews. Some reviewers and readers can be blunt – or more – and that’s hard.

But, you know what? If I didn’t read my reviews I wouldn’t have seen this one for my first book in the Millionaire Malones series, The Millionaire.

This from Sue on Goodreads:

The Millionaire really did it for me! I loved it! Victoria managed to pull me in and make me feel everything from laughter to heart ache to joy for Ellie and Chris. The Millionaire is a great, catchy story that took me on an emotional journey.

And I wouldn’t have discovered this lovely one from Shelagh about The CEO:

Reading Victoria Purman is like snuggling into a warm and familiar blanket ... so comfortable that you feel right at home from the first page.

If I didn’t read my reviews, I would have missed out on hearing how much enjoyment my books have brought to people.

And that is better than all the coffee and chocolate and gorgeous men in the world combined.

What will reviews be like for the third and final in the Millionaire Malones series, The Rebel?

I honestly can’t wait to find out!

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Little Sneak Peek of LOVE IS IN THE HEIR

In less than a month I'll be releasing book four of my IT'S REIGNING MEN series, LOVE IS IN THE HEIR. So I thought I'd give you a preview. And I'm excited to be well into writing book 5, SHAME OF THRONES (thanks to my husband for that great title!). Hope you enjoy this sample of LOVE IS IN THE HEIR--it's available for pre-order now: Amazon, Apple, Kobo. And pre-order for Shame of Thrones will be available in a few weeks!
Chapter One
Pippa Grimaldi, a decidedly modern Monafortian duchess and all-around life of the party, didn’t normally ogle men. It just wasn’t her style. And she’d certainly never held up any man in the royal family as anything but friend material. That is, until she ran into His Royal Highness Prince Christopher, Duke of Esmeralda—Topher, for short—for the first time in many years.
Pippa and Topher, third in line to the throne of Monaforte, had a history, and not such a great one. Back when he was fourteen, Pippa, best friends with Topher’s brother Zander and a regular at the palace, wandered in on Topher with his pants down, in mid, uh, self-service mode.
Mortified, Pippa burst into a nervous laughter, then hightailed it out of his room to Zander’s room so fast that her friend immediately noticed something was wrong. And once Zander—long the bad boy prince in the family—latched onto what she’d encountered, he never let it go. Poor Topher was dubbed “The Wanker” by his older brother and teased mercilessly by his siblings for years.
Over the years, it was obvious that Topher took great pains to avoid Pippa’s presence, because aside from his continued embarrassment over The Episode, whenever the two of them were together, invariably the whole thing was dredged up yet again, much to his deep chagrin.
And so when Topher encountered Pippa at the reception following the royal wedding of his brother Adrian, he could only hope that royal decorum would trump his siblings’ propensity for jocularity. The last thing he needed while suited up in his regal princely military garb for this shindig was to be reduced to that shamed teenager of years earlier, with a round of guffaws and elbows to the side while the siblings all referenced Topher’s manual dexterity. Sometimes, even his usually sweet sister Isabella got in on the act. And it would only make matters worse if his new sister-in-law Emma joined the fray.
He really just hoped that after being gone for so long, maybe at last the event had been tucked away in the cobwebbed attic of family lore, finally forgotten, laid to merciful rest. It always amazed him that no matter how old you got or how accomplished you became, you were always brought to your knees by some stupid happening in your life you wish you’d never committed. Or at least wished you’d locked the door for.
Of course one thing he always, always, always held close to him about that day was this: the only reason he was in the midst of the deed at that particular moment was that Pippa had showed up at the palace in a particularly skimpy skirt and tight tee that highlighted her burgeoning assets. And what gangly, awkward teenage boy could resist that? As the two-years-younger brother, Topher always had a little bit of a crush on his brother’s friend, but he also never confided this to a soul. And so in deference to her dignity, he realized all the more it needed to remain tucked away in his mind only, as it would merely serve to humiliate Pippa.
But from then on, he forever associated Pippa with his shame from that event, and rarely did he ever dare to entertain thoughts of Pippa as anything but a family friend.
Topher, his gentle gray eyes and wavy dark hair highlighted by the bright blue royal military uniform he wore, had just finished his drink at the wedding reception when his brother Zander pulled him into a conversation unwittingly.
“Plus,” Zander said to his beautiful blonde, blue-eyed girlfriend Andi, extending his arm as his younger brother came toward them. “Soon this strapping young man will find himself a woman and the paps will latch onto him instead. Even though I am the much better looking brother.” Andi had seemingly pulled off the impossible, taming the womanizing Zander, known for his scampish good looks, with his scruffy dark hair, perpetual five o’clock shadow, and mesmerizing green eyes.
Apparently Andi was fearful of the paparazzi, which had caused her to flee her blossoming romance with Zander, and Zander had only somehow lured her back to Monaforte just in time for the wedding.
Topher looked at him with wide eyes like he was crazy. “Yeah, right. Besides, don’t hold your breath on that,” he said. “The chances of my marrying any time in the next millennium are slim to none.”
“That’s what I said, and look at me now,” Adrian said as he walked up to the group. The oldest of the siblings, Adrian was devastatingly handsome, and on this, his wedding day, his brilliant sapphire eyes were alight with happiness. “Zander, looks like finally your invisible girlfriend here took pity on you?” He nodded toward Andi, who blushed.
Topher was thrilled the conversation was focusing on Zander’s romance, but only then did he notice that Pippa was lurking on the fringe of the conversation. Pippa—looking so damned hot in the halter gown Topher tried desperately not to stare at because it highlighted her breasts and her shapely waist—was the last thing he needed to think of right now. Those thoughts could get him into a lot of trouble. Her hazel eyes seemed to sparkle against the warm melon color of her chiffon gown.
Two times two is four, four times four is sixteen, sixteen times sixteen is two hundred and fifty-six, he repeated in his head, tamping down all potentially damning sexual thoughts involving the woman, including the time he’d seen her naked when she came out of the shower of the palace pool house when she was seventeen. Two times two is four, four times four is sixteen, sixteen times sixteen is two hundred and fifty-six,
Topher could feel the front of his dress blues getting just a little bit snug, and he continued distracting himself with simple mathematical equations until he could extricate himself from present company. He glanced out of the corner of his gray eyes to see that Pippa’s cascading brown curls—which as a teenager looked so sexy on her, tumbling over her shoulders like a riotous waterfall—had been pulled up in a loose chignon, her hair topped with the obligatory tiara that most women of royalty wore to such events. Hers was interlaced with tiny flowers, and soft strands of curls framed her face, which had grown only more beautiful with age. He thought she looked like quite the princess herself, even if she was actually a duchess. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but in the pecking order of royalty, she wasn’t a princess. Even if she looked like the fairytale version of one.
“Don’t worry, Andi,” Pippa said, piping into the conversation. “We all take care of each other here. You won’t be bombarded by anyone trying to get at you. Just a little here and there. Otherwise we cut ‘em off at the knees.” She made a slicing motion across the throat, jokingly.
Topher knew only too well how everyone took care of each other around here, even when it involved totally dicking on your brothers. Slicing across the throat indeed. That might have been easier for him if they had just slit his throat. Lost in thought, he rejoined the conversation as Pippa continued talking.
“I must say, most intriguing of all is little Topher here,” Pippa said, turning to him. “I don’t think I’ve seen you since you were a scrawny kid. You’re looking awfully filled out.” She eyed him up and down with a look of hunger on her face.
“Down, boy,” Zander said, tapping on Pippa’s head. “I think Topher is allergic to girls.”
His brother discreetly flipped him the finger.
Awfully filled out?
If he didn’t know better, he’d have thought he was perhaps a baby wildebeest and Pippa a very hungry leopard about to pounce.
Topher said a mental prayer that this was not the segue he’d been dreading and breathed a sigh of relief when, not a half a minute later, he was saved by the arrival of Adrian’s new bride, Emma, ravishingly beautiful with her chestnut curls loosely pinned up and tucked behind a dazzling tiara. Her hazel eyes were wet with tears of happiness. Thank goodness for all of this wedding nonsense as a distraction.
This time he was spared.
Pippa tried to concentrate on the conversation at hand. Something to do with Adrian and Emma’s wedding and then something more about Emma’s good friend Caroline and Adrian’s best friend Darcy showing up to the wedding engaged, of all things. Which apparently happened after Darcy’s sister Clementine orchestrated a fabulous fake-out at a party at Pippa’s family estate, which left Darcy thinking Zander was hitting on Caroline. At this very party, Zander then ended up hooking up with Andi, with whom Pippa had worked at a refugee camp in Africa months earlier.
Pippa couldn’t help but wonder why everyone around her seemed to be finding soul mates, while she only seemed to find another excuse to host a party or play cupid with her friends’ relationships. Not that she was looking or anything; she was too busy to really worry about dealing with a boyfriend. But sometimes it seemed like it would be nice to have someone to maybe just go on a date with. Or make out with. Or more. She hadn’t scratched that itch in as long as she could remember. The opportunity didn’t present itself when Pippa was working overseas in various philanthropic capacities, which she did as manager of Zander’s Prince’s Trust foundation.
Her thoughts migrated to Topher, standing several feet from her—though she knew if he’d had his way, there’d be several hundred feet separating the two of them. It had always been that way. Well, not quite always. But certainly since The Episode. Honestly, to this day Pippa could still close her eyes and conjure up the image of Topher in that compromising position. It had always left her feeling conflicted—embarrassed, no doubt, but kind of hot and bothered, too.
She’d never seen such a thing before, and it was the first time she’d ever seen one of those things live and in action. God, she still felt like a rookie in the sex department. She’d had a handful of less-than-compelling relationships in college and since, but nothing that aroused much, well, arousal. Most of the guys she’d dated were kind of boring, often trying to rub shoulders with royalty and rarely interested in Pippa as a person.
She tried to discreetly check out Topher from the corner of her eyes. He looked so damned handsome garbed in full military regalia: the crisp blue uniform, the sheathed sword, the sash, and all the medals. For the first time in forever, she felt her heart almost skip a beat over a guy. But could it be a worse guy? Thanks to Pippa, Topher was pegged with that embarrassing nickname by his brothers and could never live down something that undoubtedly the whole lot of them did daily under that palace roof. Poor Topher had the grave misfortune of being caught red-handed. Literally.
She burst out laughing at her own mental joke, so loudly that everyone in the conversation turned to look at her. She tried to cover up her laughter by pretending to be choking on a sip of champagne. But her eyes met Topher’s and in that brief exchange, they both knew they were each revisiting that moment yet again.
Pippa felt horrible: the poor guy could never live down such an isolated instance in his life. No thanks to her.
 Chapter Two
Topher spent dinner engaged in conversation with some princess from Sweden or Denmark or another very blonde country. She was absolutely stunning: deep blue eyes, natural blonde hair (he assumed), perfect skin, knockout figure. Who could complain? In the days of his ancestors, no doubt he’d have been seated by the woman someone else had deigned it necessary for him to marry to forge a union with another country. Which made him quite happy this was not the culture nowadays. Because while this blonde princess was incredibly hot, she was a bit boring. And her breath smelled. Besides, the last thing he wanted was a) to get married, and b) to be told he had to get married.
He was perfectly happy pursuing an advanced degree in marine biology and traveling to tropical climates in pursuit of that pursuit. What he didn’t need was an anchor in the form of a woman to tie him down. Nope, the type of anchor he preferred got lowered by a chain into sand at the bottom of the ocean, when whatever boat he was sailing in was stopping for the night.
Nothing thrilled him more than being on the water, maybe kicking back with a steak fired up on the tiny grill on the back of the boat, a cold beer in his hand, and Bob Marley blasting on the speakers as the horizon swallowed the last of the day’s sun in a spectacular show of color.
It’s not that he didn’t get into the whole dog and pony show of royalty, it’s just that as third in line to the crown, he didn’t have to bow to it quite so often, and he really did enjoy his freedom.
After dinner, the orchestra resumed playing, and he made a point to avoid his dinner companion before having to take it to the dance floor with her halitosis. But soon everyone was coupled up, and while he stood discreetly to the side, trying to not be seen and making small talk with people he really couldn’t have cared less to talk to, he noticed Pippa stood, not far away, perhaps also avoiding being seen. But she had a little bit of a sad look in her eyes, and it made his heart ache just a touch. Enough so he decided to approach her.
“You’re looking somber for such a happy occasion,” he said, handing her a flute of champagne he’d grabbed from a passing waiter.
Pippa shook her head. “Really?” she said. “I didn’t mean to look so disconnected. I guess I’m just lost in thought.”
Topher shook his head. “Please, don’t tell me it’s that thought.” He decided it was high time to just make light of the damned thing, at least face-to-face with her.
She blushed and stammered her reply. “Oh, God, no! I mean, what thought?”
He lowered his head and arched his brow. “I think it goes without saying which thought.”
“You mean that? Heavens no! I thought about that hours ago.” She covered her mouth with her hands. “I mean no! I haven’t been thinking about that! I haven’t thought about that in ages. Actually I’ve never thought about that.” Pippa placed her hand over her eyes, mortified at her stupid remarks.
Topher repeated his dubious look. “I’m pretty sure if I thought about it when we first ran into each other, then you did.”
Pippa cringed. “Oh Toph. It was so long ago. I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean to resurrect that dead issue.”
He laughed. “Not to worry. It never died, so you can’t be accused of bringing it back to life. Like it or not, it’s part of me now.”
Pippa snorted. “Were it not for me, it wouldn’t have remained in you long enough to be an issue.”
She burst out laughing.
Topher smiled. “Yep, talk about wank-us interruptus.” They both laughed. “I think it’s time we let bygones be bygones with this one, what do you say?”
She nodded and looked down, blushing, which surprised Topher because he’d never known her to be one to wither at the first sign of awkward conversation. Of course if any topic would make her cringe, this one certainly would  be it.
“Yeah, sure.”
Topher reached out his hand in invitation. “Would you like to dance?”
She smiled and nodded, and he pulled Pippa toward him to escort her to the dance floor as they joined the hundreds of guests around them. For several minutes they just enjoyed each other’s company, not saying a word.
When the orchestra started playing “Beyond the Sea,” Topher pulled her closer, his hand around hers, pressed to his chest.
“This is my song,” he said to her.
“You have your own anthem?”
Topher smiled. “Smart-ass,” he said, tapping her on the nose with the tip of his finger. “No. But it makes me think of what makes me happiest: being out on the ocean.”
Pippa cocked her head. “Oh really? You’re a seagoing creature, are you?”
He nodded. “Something about the water calls to me. I’ve been pursuing my studies in marine biology, which takes me there often. I feel most at home when I’m bobbing on a boat in azure waters.”
She nodded. “I understand what you’re saying. It’s like how I feel when I’m helping others. It’s almost like I’m home, too, in a way.”
“Helping others?”
“I work for Zander’s charity,” she said. “I often travel all over the world, whether I’m trying to enlist financial support or simply helping out with a project myself.”
Topher had no idea that’s what Pippa did. He was relieved she wasn’t one of those trustafarian royals who rested on her daddy’s bank account and shopped till she dropped. Though to be fair, he could easily be of the same ilk. Except that his parents would kill him if he tried that.
He found himself leaning in and whispering into her ear, “Wow, you’re quite the international woman of mystery, now.”
Pippa shook her head. “Not so much. Just doing my job is all. But I’d love to hear about your travels.”
Topher’s eyes lit up. “I’ve been doing research on global warming and its impact on coral reefs. Which means I get to sail in beautiful locations all in the name of work.”
“Not too shabby,” she said. “I could almost be jealous about that.”
“Maybe you could figure out a way to incorporate your charitable work with it and come sailing with me some time.” Topher lifted his brow.
Pippa caught her breath. “Me? Sailing with you?”
Topher leaned back to take in her demeanor. “If it’s something you might enjoy.”
“Who doesn’t love to sail?” she said. “But I’ve only sailed in the Mediterranean. What’s it like in the Caribbean?”
He took a breath as he thought about it. “The water is so clear and comes in so many intoxicating shades of blue and green.”
She smiled dreamily. “I never thought of those colors as intoxicating.”
“Oh, but they are,” he said. “Imagine, looking at water the color of the finest turquoise stones. So pure and so inviting. It warms the soul.”
“But what about sharks?”
Topher shook his head. “The biggest sharks you have to worry about there are of the male variety,” he said. “Some of those beach bars, you just never know what type of disreputable men you’ll encounter.”
They both laughed.
“Disreputable, eh?” she said, cocking her eyebrow. “But surely you’d protect me from these shark men, right?”
Topher pulled her in tighter, thinking of how he’d always fantasized about being that man to take care of Pippa.
“That goes without saying,” he said, his voice warm and rumbly in her ear.
“So what do you do with yourself when you’re all the way out there in the ocean? How do you while away those long, lonely nights?”
He laughed. “To be honest, I’ve never had to concern myself with whiling away the hours. After a long day of work, the best I can muster is kicking back with a rum drink, grilling a steak, and blasting some music while absorbing yet another perfect sunset.”
“By yourself?”
“There’s always the skipper,” he said.
“Now that’s not exactly romantic,” Pippa said. “You, a romantic sunset, and the captain.”
Topher cracked up. “Unless the skipper’s a woman,” he said with a wink. “But seriously, you’ve got a point. Though I suppose some might find it romantic to be with the captain.”
“What about companionship?” she asked. “Don’t you find it lonely being out to sea so long?”
To be truthful, he occasionally did. It wasn’t like you could pick up a one-night stand so easily when you were out to sea. Nor did you want to pick up someone you’d regret being stuck with. He tended to keep his philandering shore-side. Not that he philandered much, but still.
“You ask funny questions, you know that?” he said. “For someone who would barely talk to me for all those years, now you’re concerned about my love life?”
Pippa paused as if to think for a minute, then broke into a wide grin. She glanced up into his face, and he knew exactly what triggered her reaction.
“Oh, my God,” he said. “Surely you’re not asking me that?”
She shook her head. “I wasn’t at first,” she said. “But then I started to think about it. I mean what else does one do when one is away from members of the opposite sex and the need is there?”
Topher grinned. “That might depend upon whom you’re talking about. I am a man, after all,” he said. “Let’s leave it at that.”
Pippa’s mind flashed to The Episode, where the boy Topher was deeply engrossed in that very activity. Her face flushed as she recalled it.
“But,” he added, “If you really want to discuss this, then what about you? What would you do all alone on a boat?”
She pursed her lips and thought about it. “Depends if the boat has thin walls.”
He laughed some more. “I’m starting to think I’d love to be your skipper. I’d tell you the walls were fortified, if that’s what it took.”
Pippa fake-slapped him. “Why, how dare you, Prince Christopher!”
“Oh, so we’re going to do it on a dare, then?” he asked, pulling her in closer, whispering into her ear.
Her breathing got heavier as she thought about him all alone on a boat. “I could be persuaded,” she whispered back into his ear.
It was Topher’s turn for heavy breathing as he pressed himself up against her, leaving no question about where this discussion was going in his mind. “It’s gotten so crowded in here. Perhaps we should continue this discussion somewhere a little more…private.”
Pippa locked her hazel eyes onto his soulful gray ones. “But everyone would know we’d disappeared together.”
He shook his head. “We’ll slip off discreetly. You go first and I’ll follow in a minute. I think you know the way to my apartment.”
She took a deep breath. “Our secret?”
He nodded. “No one will be the wiser.”

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Writers Who Lunch

   Writing can be an isolated profession. Most of what we need to do happens somewhere between our heads and our fingers and most of the talking we do is with the characters who inhabit our heads and our stories.We can spend hours, days, even weeks in our writing spaces creating our works and never actually speaking to another human being. Sometimes, when we do interact, it's hard to remember we must speak our words to them and not just think them! LOL! 

   To combat this separation from reality and people, many writers I know have little support groups, or even critique groups with whom they can talk - about writing or stories or just about life. Since most people in real life don't understand the emotional process of creativity, sometimes it's just nice to have peeps who do. 

  I'm part of a little group that we call simply 'Writers Who Lunch'. We meet up - some or all of us - monthly and have a nice visit -- talking about writings, publishing, editing, children, grandchildren and lots of other things. But, for us the focus is on writing and the issues of a writer's life and work. It is so great to breathe the same air as the wonderfully talented authors in my little group. Oh, we're a mixed bunch - from actively published authors to former writers to indie authors and all in between. The common ground, it turns out, is not the writing, but the struggle to continue to write and create among all of our other worldly challenges and commitments. 

I know we're not alone in this need. I know hundreds of other authors who do the same kind of thing. But I also know there are lots of these little groups in every walk of life -- my coworker's husband has a group called the ROMEOs -- retired old men eating out! It may sound silly but those men are each facing the same challenges of dealing with the changes in their lives because they've retired. So, I understand how these 'eating out' men are getting more out of their encounters than just food.

 I've heard of crocheting/knitting groups, women CEO groups, mothers-of-twins groups and more. How about you? Do you have a 'writers-who-lunch' group in your life? Who's in it? And, more importantly, what do you get from it?  Please share it with me -- and I've got a little trinket/giftie from my trip to Ireland for one commentor! 

Terri is currently working on book 3 - BLAZING EARTH - in her new Novels of the Stone Circles series from Signet. She'll be doing some events and signings to celebrate book 2's - RAGING SEA - release in October. Stop by her website for lots of info! Or friend her on FB or her FB page to keep up-to-date!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Julie Benson: Ideas

People often ask where I get my ideas. Frequently they fly at me from left field, many of them arriving while I’m driving. At those times it seems I pray for a red light to write down the idea, and of course, rarely hit one. Panicked I’ll lose the brilliant gem, I end up talking to myself to remember the idea until I can jot down the thoughts ping ponging around my brain.

That’s exactly what happened with my Wishing Texas Series. I was driving home from my office (Starbucks), and I wondered when my son Alex was leaving for east Texas to meet his friends at the lake/ranch. I remember thinking I was glad he still got together with his college buddies. Then I gasped, and actually said out loud, “What if friends from the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M still got together every year at one of their ranches?”

A giddy rush of excitement burst through me as I thought about creating a story for each of these friends.

For me, the ideas start out that simple. That small.

As I nurture and grow the tiny seed idea starting with a character or core group of characters a theme forms in my mind, usually with a basic idea such as forgiveness, starting over, self-discovery, or whatever. But the journey always takes a different path than I plan because whatever’s going on in my life crawls into my stories.

This probably sounds like a “well, duh” moment, but the fact took me by surprise. I knew my world view and experiences would color my stories, but I didn’t expect my books to mirror my life to the degree they have. After all, my characters have their own back-story, their own history, their own baggage. But how much of mine they carry with them shocked me.

Lately my characters have wrestled with finding their purpose in life, and carving out a new path. Cassie, the heroine in To Love A Texas Cowboy, moves from New York to Wishing, Texas to raise her orphaned niece. My next heroine, Grace Henry in To Catch A Texas Cowboy, moves to Wishing to run Cassie’s bed and breakfast when she loses her job and no one will hire her. Both women have to reinvent themselves. Both must decide what to keep of their past and how to move forward.

Now here’s my duh moment. I’m facing the issue myself. The youngest of my three sons goes to college in a year. For twenty-five years my prime identity has revolved around being a mom, and now my life is undergoing a serious shift. I shouldn’t have been surprised the theme crept into my stories, but I was. 

Not that I set out to create character back-stories that highlight an issue I’m dealing with, I don’t. I think subconsciously my mind does that. Writers are always told to write what we know. Whether I mean to or not, good or bad, I guess I do write what I know. Or rather what I’m living.



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kathleen O'Brien: Amalfi Night Billionaires

I’m up late tonight, because I’m in the middle of revisions for my upcoming Tule novella, THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET.  It’s part of a really exciting new series, HOT AMALFI NIGHTS, which kicks off today with Katherine Garbera’s hot and fabulous novella, THE BILLIONAIRE’S TEMPTATION. Go check it out…you won’t regret it! J

My book won’t be available until September 14th, and I’m glad, because I want that time to polish the story.  Believe it or not, I really love doing revisions.  When I write the first draft of a book, I’m always stressed and anxious.  Is my planned plot going to work?  Are the people likeable?  Will the story be long enough, short enough, correctly paced, satisfying in its happily-ever-after?

Then, when I reach The End, I turn the manuscript over to the editor and take a step back.  Over the next few days or weeks, depending on the schedule, I work on another project, or refill my creative well by doing the non-writing things I love, while the editor does the thinking.

By the time she returns the manuscript to me with her comments and suggestions, I’m feeling renewed, and far less frazzled, because now it’s not just me sitting here worrying myself to death.  Now I’m part of a team, and for all of us the only goal is to make my book as good as it can be.

I’ve written about forty-five books, over many years, and every single editor I’ve been lucky enough to work with, both at Harlequin and at Tule, has been fantastic.  These professionals have, every one, been warm, sensitive, brilliantly analytical and wholeheartedly in my corner. 

People often ask me whether it’s hard to be edited.  One friend even wondered whether it might “hurt.”  I understand the question, but the answer is unequivocally NO. 

Sure, it can be disappointing to roll up your sleeves and go back to work when you would have liked to binge-watch Downton Abbey instead.  And occasionally it’s embarrassing, sometimes, if I have to face that I’ve missed the mark, that something I imagined would be funny simply wasn’t, or that something I hoped would be sexy was actually kind of blah. 

But it never hurts. 

How could it?  We’re all on the same team, remember, all shooting for the same goal.  And knowing the editor is there to catch me if I fall gives me the confidence and freedom to try those high-wire tricks I might not dare alone.

The truth is, no writer can ever possibly tell how her words will come across to someone else.  I know what I meant to communicate.  But did I?  Only a fresh pair of eyes can tell me what actually came across to the reader.  And only a seasoned professional editor can tell me how to bridge that gap, how to flesh out the conflict or pick up the pace, how to build sympathy for my hero or recover those little plot points I misplaced along the way.

So as I return to polishing THE BILLIONAIRE’S SECRET, a big, sloppy thank you kiss goes out to my editors for helping me be the best writer I can be.  And a big thank you to my readers, too.  Because you’re the goal we’re shooting for.  If you like it, we all win!

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift certificate to one randomly chosen poster today, so I hope you’ll stop by and tell me how you feel about getting feedback and notes on your work.  Do you love it?  Hate it?  What makes the difference for you?