Saturday, February 28, 2009

Get Your Happily Ever Afters Here!


Yeah, I know the economy is looking sad right now. Let's face it, everytime you turn on the television you're bombarded with more doom and gloom. Jobs are down, debt is up and there's no shining rainbow out there--

Or is there??

Romance, folks. Romance is where you can find Happily Ever After. We never disappoint. In a romance novel, good always triumphs. The bad guy always gets his just desserts. And Love is that shining rainbow you're looking for!

Books are still the cheapest form of entertainment there is. And we 've got it all. Hardbacks, paperbacks, ebooks, audio. There's something for everyone. We've got historicals, contemporaries, paranormals and romantic suspense! And at the end of every story, the promised rainbow.

The cover picture there is of my own most recent release, VANISHED from Silhouette Nocturne. It's a paranormal, set in County Mayo, Ireland. And if I do say so myself, it's pretty good! With that happily ever after I've been talking about!

So don't let the news fool you. Sure things are tough, but they'll bounce back. I think it was Abraham Lincoln (and if I'm wrong, feel free to correct me!) who said, 'People are generally as happy as they choose to be'. Well, I've made the decision to be happy anyway. Keep smiling and it'll eventually feel real. Keep moving forward and you'll eventually get where you're going.

And keep reading romances and you'll never be disappointed!

I'm going to draw one name from the posters here today........and that person will get a signed copy of come on. Step right up. Tell me what your favorite romances are. And show the world you're ready for the rainbow!
***Maureen's winner is KARA!! Congratulations! Kara, please email me at with your full name and mailing address so we can get your prize in the mail. :) Thanks to everyone who shared about their favorite romances!***

Friday, February 27, 2009

Confessions of a Bookaholic - Susan Gable

All right everyone, step away from the refreshment table. It's time to get the meeting started, so find a seat.

I'll go first.

Hi, my name is Susan, and I'm a Bookaholic. It's been three days since my last read. If you were to search my house, you'd find books stashed everywhere. Not just on the bookshelves in the office, but also on my nighttable. And on the floor next to my bed. And under my bed. There's another whole shelf in the exercise room. Some are stashed in the bathroom, on the back of the toilet. On the vanity. In the kitchen on the table and the counters.

I even keep them stashed on my cell phone now so I'm never caught without a "fix."

I blame my parents. They were bookaholics, too. Still are. I grew up watching them guzzle one book after another. You could find books scattered all over the house I grew up in. My father actually read during dinner. Right out there in the open, at the table. Scandalous!

They haven't found the gene that causes bookaholism yet, but I think it's just a matter of time. Because if it was learned behavior, then my sister would be a bookaholic, too, but she's not. She just has one from time to time. I must have been the lucky one who inherited the book gene.

All kidding aside (well, mostly ) books truly are my vice. I'm thrilled that I inherited the "disease" from my parents. Hey, it doesn't cause cancer or kill your liver or lungs. It doesn't make you fat, and books are legal. As far as vices go, I think it's the best one to have. And given what a pack of cigarettes costs these days, it's not too bad as far as cost.

I love books. Love, love, love! I still have some the books I owned as a kid - and if I hadn't moved some many times, and faced critical space issues, I'd still have more of them. I have numerous copies of The Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, and The Three Investigators. I've got a couple of the first Heinleins I ever read, and my Star Trek book collection is massive. Then there are the newer books – the Nora Roberts/JD Robbs, the Janet Evanovich, the Julia Quinns, Susan Wiggs, Susan Anderson, Susan Grant (notice how many Susans there are that write books? Hmmm...I wonder if there's some sort of genetic predisposition that goes with the name, too.) There are the numerous series romance novels, too. And mysteries.

There's just something special about a book. It can take you anywhere, from historical America to a far-off world called Pern, or a magical place called Xanth.

I don't think I'll ever recover from this addiction – nor do I want to.

So who's next? Are you a bookaholic, too? What's your "drug" of choice when it comes to books? How long have you had this addiction? Do you want to overcome it, or do you think it's okay to just live with it?

Susan Gable has sold five books to Harlequin's Superromance line. Her books have been Rita and Golden Heart Finalists, she's been a Waldenbooks Bestseller, been twice nominated for Romantic Time's Best Superromance of the Year, and she's won numerous other awards, including the National Readers' Choice Award. Her next book, A Kid to the Rescue, got 4.5 Stars and a Top Pick from RT. It hit shelves on Feb. 10th, and is the story of a heroine who assumes custody of her nephew after the little boy witnesses his father murder his mother. The hero, a comic book artist who's also an art therapist, brings hope and laughter to their lives, along with love. And he teaches both aunt and child to fight for what they love. Visit Susan's website:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Law of Cosmic Laziness

Before I was in seventh grade--the year I began to awaken to an alarm clock--time seemed to literally be slower. Everything was slow. The minute, the hour, the day, the week, the year. Time was like soup, oatmeal, or Cream of Wheat--thick and hearty. Time took effort to get through, the hours of every day piling into a mountain I felt I had to push. A weekend day was like a lifetime, the events occurring with eons of space between them. Breakfast. Chores. Lunch. Play. Television. Dinner.

Summer felt like ten years, the days hot and gooey.

Then, all at once, time went on a diet, slipping out under my bedroom door like a river, pulling me into a day that never seemed to stop. The next thing I knew, I was the mother of two children. Then a teacher. And here I am, now, writing to you about 40 years later.
I like the theory of general relativity, the idea that time and the experience of it is relative to the space it "occurs" in. I am no science major and the only scientific experiments I conduct are in the kitchen, but I like this notion. I can't really explain it to you better than that (it involves the curvature of space-time and gravity, and if I write longer about those things, I will begin to quote from Star Trek), but it know that someone else's childhood, a person born in 1961 like me, might have taken first breath and then zipped through to adulthood faster than I did. Or my slow childhood was like a race track compared to someone else's.

But now, time is like a Boeing 767 over Canada, headed for Rome. Whoosh, it's gone. Where is it going? Who knows? I'm scared that I will look up from typing and find myself an 80-year-old woman, and I won't have even finished my coffee. I want to cherish even the icky moments these days, and it's so easy to wish them away. Even the "bad" moments are our moments, the moments that we have. Enjoy their badness, I guess. Or at least pay attention.

One element of the theory of general relativity that I like is called "the law of cosmic laziness." This law suggests that bodies left to themselves take as long as they can to their destination.

We so often are not left to ourselves, demands and people pulling us through time faster than we want. Maybe this law comes into force on a vacation, when one is bobbing, say, in the emerald green water off of Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. No wonder I go there each year, a place where time does stand still, at least in long, hot, sandy chunks.

Jessica Barksdale Inclan

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Impact of a Book Cover - Carla Neggers

Thanks for inviting me to guest blog! We’re in sunny south Florida for a break from the Vermont snow and cold. Yesterday my mother, sister and I headed to the beautiful Borders at the Galleria Mall in Ft. Lauderdale for some beach reads. My romantic thriller BETRAYALS is due out today after being out of print for some time. It has a fabulous new cover, and I found myself talking to my sister about covers while Mother wandered off to the mystery/suspense section.

The cover is our first clue as readers as to what a book’s about. For me, the art for BETRAYALS is both suspenseful and romantic...the path and the gate invite the reader into the garden and the story itself. There are, however, other aspects of a cover that give books and authors “presence” on the shelves. As an author, I’m very aware of what they are. I wondered about my sister, an avid reader. So I dragged her through the store and showed her various mass market paperback covers.

First we looked at step-back covers. They’re more expensive for a publisher to produce, and many are gorgeous and/or high-impact. My sister nodded and said, “I never noticed.”

Is the impact, then, of a step-back cover more subliminal? Might we otherwise walk past that book in our rush through the store? Might a step-back tell us, on some level, this is an important author?

We moved on to author photos. Color or black-and-white? On the back cover or on the inside cover? What about color thumbnails of covers of upcoming books on the inside cover? Does any of that make a difference?

My sister looked at me and said, again, “I never noticed.”

We checked out embossing and foiling. I showed her the cover of a book by a debut thriller writer that has neither and put it next to the cover of a book by a major thriller writer that has both. She could easily see the difference, but she wasn’t sure it affected her book-buying. The debut author’s book -- the story itself -- intrigued her. But would she have picked it up if I hadn’t shown it to her?

Meanwhile, Mother emerged with a book in hand. Simple cover -- no step-back, no foil, some embossing, black-and-white author photo. She’d heard of the author but had never reader her and was attracted to “cat” in the title.

My sister grabbed a book by a major bestselling thriller writer. Oversize paperback. Step-back cover. Lots of foil and embossing, and a big color photo of the author on the back. An expensive cover with “presence.” But she was drawn to the author’s name -- she’s a fan who’s read most of his books and had missed this one when it was out in hardcover.

I grabbed several books by author friends, and off we went to the cash register.

Are you aware of what attracts you to a particular author, a particular book -- especially if it’s a new-to-you author or genre?

In other words, what can you tell about a book by its cover?

Have a great day, and thanks again!

Carla Neggers photograph - photo credit to Nina Subin

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Appreciating every day - Wendy Toliver

Photo: "Wendy (right) hanging out with her girlfriend Christina (left)"

Today my oldest boy turns 9. It's truly mind boggling to realize how fast time goes by. As writers, we sometimes get so wrapped up in our WIP, or stress about our futures in the publishing industry, we forget to enjoy day-to-day life. I think a very important part of being a good writer is experiencing life to the fullest.

This year, I've made some changes in my routine to help me appreciate each and every day. I've become more healthy, taking yoga classes, working out at the gym, and cutting out a certin diet soda that I was borderline addicted to. I take time to read to my little boys, which not only nurtures their growing minds; it's great bonding time. I've taken up snowboarding, which is another great connection with my boys. My husband and I have movie nights, where we get the kids to bed and watch a DVD together with a glass of wine. And every now and then, I make it a point to have a Girls' Night Out, whether we go to a film festival, shopping, or just a nice dinner.

Some writers might think that doing these sorts of things (in addition to one's day job, if applicable) doesn't leave much time for writing. But I've found that when I do sit down at my computer and start working, my ideas flow more freely and I am more satifisfied with the results. I feel more inspired and creative. My yoga teacher recently gave me a book called The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron and I look forward to reading it.

Before life passes us by, we need to reevaluate what really counts. For me, it's a balance between my family, friends, career, and alone ("me") time. What really counts for you?

Wendy Toliver

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dark or Light - - - Or Maybe Not!

I grew up in a family where no one ever raised their voice. I’m sure my parents disagreed on lots of things, but my sister and brother and I never heard them do it. As a result, when I became an adult I had to fight my natural inclination to avoid controversy. Life is never all peaches and cream and sometimes the world just smells and sounds bad. I can’t simply hide my head and run from strong opinions or snark forever. (stay with me, I’m telling you all this for a reason)

My newest release from the Silhouette Romantic Suspense line is the second book in my Safekeeper series called SAFE BY HIS SIDE and is out now. For those of you who read the first book in the series, SAFE WITH A STRANGER, this is Ethan’s book, the one you’ve been waiting for! Cool cover, don’t you think?

The Safekeepers trilogy is what I call ‘light paranormal’ suspense. The three Ryan children have been cursed by their great-grandmother who is a Mexican black witch. The three Ryans know some white witchcraft themselves, but each uses that knowledge in a different way in their everyday lives. Behind the scenes, a battle rages in Mexico to have the Ryan curse reversed before the great-grandmother dies. In the Safekeeper series, the witchcraft is mostly in the background of the three stories, but the curse plays a big part in the Ryans’ lives.

Last week I was talking to my editor about the light paranormal aspects in the books I’ve been writing. We were trying to decide whether I would be better off to take them out of my books, leave them in, or go darker and move to the Nocturne line with a new series. I’m still considering. It depends on my next story line. But in the meantime, I sent out a newsletter last weekend. By the way, do you get my newsletter? If you want to sign up, go to this link:
I asked everyone for their opinions on light paranormal.

Here is what I said:
“Recently I’ve been including a little light paranormal in my own mini-series books. (but not in The Sheriff’s Amnesiac Bride) I’ve been having a terrific time learning more about Mexican witchcraft for The Safekeepers stories. By the way, if you want to find out more, I have articles on my website about healing with crystals and a new one on the healing powers of colors. See:

So, I could use a favor. How do you feel about ‘light’ paranormal? I know lots of readers love vampire books and that shape-shifters have become quite popular. But do you also like to read books with just a dash of magic? Or a touch of the fairies? Or with a heroine with some psychic ability? Either way I need to know how you really feel.”

Boy have I been hearing how people feel! For a moment there, I felt like hiding. I know, I know. Don’t ask unless you want to hear about it. But I’m all grown up now and I can take it. Yikes! So many people seem to have extremely strong feelings one way or the other. The biggest surprise for me, I guess, was how many people have grown tired of vampire and shapeshifter stories. Interesting.

So… at the risk of “getting what I ask for”, I’d like to get your opinions too.

How do you feel about ‘light’ paranormal? Do you love vampire books and shape-shifters? Or are you tired of them? Do you also like to read books with just a dash of magic? Or a touch of the fairies? Or with a heroine with some psychic ability? Either way I need to know how you really feel.

Leave me a comment and I’ll pick two winners from all the comments left before Tuesday February 24TH to win autographed copies of SAFE BY HIS SIDE.

Linda’s Silhouette Romantic Suspense series, The Safekeepers, continues in March with SAFE BY HIS SIDE and in April with IN SAFE HANDS. Don’t forget to drop by Linda’s website to find out what’s Behind the Book for the series, and register to enter her ongoing contest to win books and gift certificates!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Promotion? Or Peer Pressure?

by Tawny Weber

There is so much promotion being done on the Internet, it's hard to keep up with what's what. Even harder to keep up with what actually works!
Remember a half-dozen or so years ago when the biggest ‘have to’ was having a website. All the cool writers were getting them. Some were flashy and expensive, with lots of bling. Others were clearly homemade, often with their own flash such as kisses that glittered behind the cursor as it moved across the screen. Peer pressure didn’t win out instantly, but after a few years, author websites were the norm.

Then there was blogging. Remember the start of blogging? Only a few people were comfortable enough to dive in at first. A lot watched from the sidelines, calculating and figuring out what was involved while they measured the promotional benefits and time commitment. But now? Personal blogs, group blogs, publisher blogs, agent blogs. They’re everywhere! Blogging is the norm.

How about video trailers? Flash in the pan or here to stay? From pricey actor portraying characters to homemade Windows Media player slideshows, they hit the net with with a bang. But did they sell books? Did it matter? Soon a lot of authors were jumping on the wagon, either because the trailers looked like wild fun or out of fear of missing a promotional tool that might work.

Aaaaand now there are the social networks. MySpace and Facebook and Twitter. Bulletins and walls and tweets. You know the drill. We’re going ‘huh’ and wondering how and why. But at the same time, everyone who’s anyone is doing it. It’s all the rage. Heck, even politicians are twittering and my parents are on MySpace. It’s everywhere. But does it work? Does it promote authors? Does it connect readers with books they love? That’s the question, isn’t it?

As I gear up for the back-to-back releases of my next two Harlequin Blaze's in April and May, all these options tend to make my mind spin in circles as I wonder what works, what doesn't and what's just for fun. What's the right promotion, and what falls into the category of just wanting to have the same cool toys as the other kids?

So what do you think? Is it promotion or peer pressure? Is there a difference and does it matter? What do you think? As a reader (even if you write as well) do you check out websites? How about blogs? Video trailers? What about those ubiquitous social networks. And if you do the social network thing, since it’s our latest form of peer-pressured promotion, which network do you hang out on (and do you really understand how to use it?)

Kindles and eReaders

If you've been anywhere near the writing blogs lately, then you've seen the buzz about the lastest version of Kindle. I have to admit, I haven't paid much attention to e-readers. I'd assumed most of them were tiny little devices the size of my cell phone, and insisting that I see more than two sentences of a book at a time, I figured I'd stick with my old standards.

But then I saw a Kindle demonstration and realized it was more like a real book than I realized. From what I've seen, the device is about the size of a paperback, can be read in the sun (no screen glare like a computer or TV), you can flip around to different pages, read the ending if you want then come back to the spot you bookmarked. And the Kindle even allows you to highlight text, make comments, and read Word documents, apparently.

As a Harlequin author, I have to admit that e-books are something I should be rooting for. The print versions of my books have a shelf life of 4 weeks. After that, you can buy them new from or for another 5 months or so. At that point, you can only get them used, and authors don't get royalties off used book sales. Conversely, the e-book format stays around forever, endlessly paying royalties and giving readers full access to all my backlisted titles. As an author, that's a big win.

But as a reader, can I really make that leap to e-book? One of my greatest joys is going to Borders and perusing the bargain book table. It's where I've found a number of new-to-me authors. On the flipside, all those books take up space in my house, and I've found myself having to give away lots of paperbacks because I don't have room to keep them. As a hoarder of books, the idea of holding onto all of them in the space of a little chip is pretty intriguing.

So here I am, seriously pondering e-book readers and wondering which one I should be setting my sights on. There's Kindle, which offers the most titles, and I can get them wirelessly from just about anywhere I happen to be standing. But if Kindle books go the way of Beta Video in the race for e-book technology, I don't want to be stuck with a bunch of books I can't read. Therefore, something that reads PDF, such as the Sony e-Reader, has merit. But I hear the makers of Ipod are coming out with something that could blow the lid off everything that's out right now, which leaves me thinking I should wait it out and see what floats to the surface.

I'm curious to know what you all think about the new e-reader technology. Do any of you have e-readers, and if so how did you end up with the one you've got? And if you don't, are you considering getting one? Pros and cons, anyone?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lost and Found Treasures

I met a man recently who was looking for a copy of Jane Eyre. As we spoke, he told me a sad story involving his family, the long and the short being that several members of his family had decided their mother didn’t need her books anymore because she could no longer read like she used to, nor could she remember what she’d read anyway, so they gave them all away.

The man told me he didn’t care if she only read one word a day, or if she never remembered reading that single word. All he cared about was finding her a copy of Jane Eyre because that had always been her favourite book. How wonderful is this man?!

It made me think of all the old books I have on my shelves at home that I have found over the years, either at garage sales or in second hand stores, and how they all must have meant something to someone. The one I treasure most is an old tattered copy of The Swiss Family Robinson.
There is no publication date in it, but inside the cover was written: To Jack From Grandpa – 1932. That alone would be reason enough for me to want it, but then I turned the page and read this: (I’ve changed the child’s name)

To Peter - Christmas 1994

This wonderful book was given to me by my grandfather when I was 10 years old. I think it is a privilege for me to give it to you from your grandfather. It’s my pleasure. I read it many times and I hope you will too. I fervently hope you will treasure this book and keep it and look after it as well as I have, all these many years. It is, indeed, a book every boy should read. Best of all, it is the original text by Wyss.

Love Grandpa

Now don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that there are people out there who don’t go all ga-ga over books, but this one broke my heart. I truly hope this book was not just thrown out like last week’s meatloaf, but perhaps was lost or put in the wrong box when the family moved or something. The thought of anyone (book lover or not) giving it away after what Grandpa wrote in it just seems incredibly wrong to me, so I’m honoured to be the one who will treasure this book and keep it and look after it as well as Grandpa did for many years to come.

Do you have old treasures on your shelves? Anything you’ve given away that you regret? (like my Shaun Cassidy and Donny Osmond records)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grandma and the Prince - Part 4 (Barbara Bretton)

I'm going to jump forward in time this month and give you a preview of things to come. Next month we'll head back into the early 20th century and visit New Zealand and New York City.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


Once upon a time my Grandma El and her daughter, my Aunt Mona, dated the same man.

Unfortunately that man was my grandfather.

I thought that would get your attention. I didn't cut my teeth writing confession stories for nothing. If you want to sell your story to an overworked, underpaid editor, you've got to hit her right between the eyes with a left hook she's not likely to forget.

For a brief moment in time and space, my maternal grandmother and paternal grandfather were simultaneously spouseless. (Which was pretty much of a miracle, if you consider the fact that my Grandpa Larry had five of them and Grandma El had three.)

My grandfather Bert died on June 1, 1950. My grandmother El and Grandpa Larry both remarried in 1954. I did the math. Somewhere between 1950 and 1954 they got up close and personal and damn near turned the Fuller/McNutt family on its ear.

For such a tiny family, mine seemed to generate enough sturm und drang to rival any fictional clan Tennessee Williams ever dreamed up. My husband likes to say we're small but volatile. And that's about as good a way to put it as any other I've heard. This, however, was more than any of them could handle.

Grandma El in NYC around 1952

I don't remember anything about that time. I was too young and families were much better at keeping secrets in the 50s than they are now. However, the knowledge that El and Larry had been briefly engaged seemed to become part of my particular universe when I was around six or seven years old. I loved my new grandparents (Les and Bess. Who could make that up?) but it always seemed a shame to me that El and Larry hadn't been able to make a go of it. Being around them was like going on vacation. They loved to dance and laugh and travel. They were both social creatures who enjoyed nothing more than being around other people, a trait I most definitely did not inherit. Put me in a crowd of strangers and I clam up and scuttle toward the nearest exit. Put either one of them in a crowd of strangers and--well, let's just say they didn't stay strangers long.

When El and Larry walked into a room, they brought their own built-in spotlights. Star quality? Absolutely. They both had it in spades. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with looks. It was something else, something that went so deep that my grandfather still had it--whatever it might be--when he died at 100 years of age. Oh yes, they were a match made in romantic heaven and, for a time, it looked like they'd have the happy ending I've spent many years writing about.

So where does El's daughter Mona enter into it? She's the one who told me she'd dated Larry while he was dating her mother. Sex or movies? I don't have the answer to that one. I'm not even sure I want the answer.

Still, although it was more than fifty years after the fact, the look of triumph in her eyes was unsettling. Picture the teenage girl with the dying father and high-stepping mother. Picture the rebellious young woman with the Ava Gardner looks who finds a way she can hurt her mother and shake up the family at the same time.

Mona at 16

It's Christmas 1952. The middle-aged mother is widowed and unsure of herself as a woman. The daughter is twenty-six and in her prime.

The man? Well, he just might be in over his head.

Grandma El and Grandpa Larry

My parents took sides. My mother's sympathies were with El. My father's were with Larry. As my mother once told me, "I had no childhood baggage with El, the way your father did. It was easier for me to love her."Same as my dad loved Larry. There was a connection between the two men that was easily as close as the connection between a father and his natural child. My grandfather's five marriages didn't turn my dad's childhood into chaos.

But, in the end none of that mattered, because the whole affair was already barreling toward the finish line, thanks to a pair of birthday earrings from Larry that El decided to have appraised. For insurance purposes, she said, but I have my doubts. My grandmother was appalled to discover that her beautiful earrings were courtesy of Macy's and Monet. My grandfather was appalled to discover that it mattered so much to her.

They broke up and before the year was out both had married other people.

Grandma El's wedding to Grandpa Les - she looks so sad, doesn't she?

The rivalry between El and Mona, however, intensified.

El & Larry at my 1968 wedding; Bess refused to attend

Grandma in her 70s; her life force comes right through, doesn't it?

In 1982 my grandfather took a mutually agreed-upon hiatus from his fifth marriage. He was 86 years old and living a comfortable life in Rossmoor, a retirement village south of Princeton. Unfortunately he and Bess were rubbing each other the wrong way and they decided that a separation was the way to go. In typical fashion, my grandfather took nothing but the clothes on his back, his NY Mets baseball cap, his books and photographs. He moved back to Elmhurst, about four blocks awayfrom his daughter and son-in-law.

And about ten blocks away from El and Mona.

You know that old saying, too close for comfort? This situation defined it and it brought out the worst in everyone. What should have been z happy time of reunion and re-discovery turned into an utter disaster.

Grandma Bess called me two and three times a week. "What's your grandfather doing?" she would ask me, sounding angry and fearful and all shades of emotion in between. "Has he seen THAT WOMAN?" THAT WOMAN, of course, was my eighty-two year old Grandma El. God only knows what she would have done if she'd known about Mona.

Mona seemed indifferent, but Grandma El glowed like a schoolgirl every time she saw my grandfather. I'll admit that I once again entertained fantasies of seeing the two of them walk off into the sunset together. But life was just too complicated for such a simple, satisfying ending. There was too much history between them. Too much history between the lot of them.

Now picture a dinner table in Elmhurst, Queens. Picture a celebration. I'd sold my first book. I was thirty-one years old and flying high. My small-but-volatile family had gathered to toast my success and the champagne was flowing. There's a photo of El and Larry sitting next to each other at the table. They're in the same pose they'd been in thirteen years earlier at my wedding, huge smiles and twinkling eyes and a sense of rightness about them that maybe only I could see. (I've been tearing the house apart looking for it. I promise to post it when it shows up.)

Mona was at this dinner too. Maybe it was the champagne. Maybe it was a lot of other things.. Whatever it was, she began to talk. She pitched her voice low so only I could hear. "He wanted to make sure she was taken care of," she said, referring to her father Bert. "He told Larry to take care of Mother. She was still young and he wanted her to be happy."

"I don't get it," I remember saying to her. "He wanted Grandpa Larry to find someone for Grandma?"

"Find someone for her?" I can still hear Mona's bitter laugh. "He wanted him to sleep with her."

According to my aunt, in 1948, the year my parents were married-- four years before I thought anything had happened between them-- my Grandpa Bert called his wife and his son's father-in-law into his sick room to give them his blessing. "Take care of her," he told Larry. "I don't want her to be alone." Did he suspect something had already developed between them and he was trying to tell them it was okay? Or was it wishful thinking on his part, a last-ditch effort to keep the two sides of the family together after he was gone?

Either way, Grandpa Bert's time was almost past, while Grandma's was just beginning.

PS: I'm Barbara Bretton, author of CASTING SPELLS, and you can also find me here and here and here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why I Love My Agent – by Julianne MacLean

The second most common question I get asked as a writer is: “Do you have an agent?”

Yes, I do. I’m with Paige Wheeler at Folio Literary Management, and I’ve been with her for 10 years. She took me on as a client in 1999 when I was still unpublished. I had been submitting my work to publishers on my own before that, and had a full manuscript at Harlequin, which had been sitting in the slush pile for 6 months. The first thing she did was call the editor to inform her that she was now representing me, and viola, my manuscript was pulled out of the pile. That was PRAIRIE BRIDE, my first published historical romance, and Paige negotiated that contract for me and ushered me into the world of royalties and deadlines.

Most of the time, everything rolls along smoothly, and not much happens except for royalty checks coming in and regular stuff like that. I work away at home, and I just focus on writing the current work-in-progress.

Other times, however, I will hit a speed bump, and she is always there for me when I do. She has taken me to three different publishers over these ten years. The first was Harlequin, where I wrote my first 4 books. My fifth book, however, was rejected there, and I was disappointed because I really wanted to write it. So Paige shopped it around, and within 3 weeks, we had an offer from Avon. That book was TO MARRY THE DUKE, my first single title.

What I remember most about that experience was getting the initial call from Paige that the book had been rejected. As an author, it’s not the call you want to get from your agent. But by the time we were finished talking, and I hung up the phone, I felt positive and excited – also not how you’d expect to feel after getting a rejection. It’s always been that way with Paige. Even in the darkest moments, I hang up the phone, and the world seems brighter.

More recently, I had begun to feel like I was stuck in a rut, and Paige was again there for me in ways I cannot even describe. She always kept me grounded during our phone calls, talked me off the ledge a few times, and every time I hung up the phone after talking to her, I felt hopeful again.

We eventually decided that a move to a new publisher would be a good thing to freshen up my career. I wrote a proposal that was different from my Victorian romances – it was set in the Scottish Highlands, and had a very savage and rugged hero. Paige helped me polish it and make it the very best it could be, then she shopped that around, too. To make a long story short, there was an auction and two houses bidding besides Avon, and it ended with St. Martins Press winning the day.

Interestingly, I had met the St. Martins editor at a cocktail party that Paige hosted at a national conference about five years ago. Little did I know then that Paige’s party would have a big influence over a future career move – because I never forgot the conversation I had with that lovely editor.

So now I am feeling good about my new home at St. Martins Press, and I am very thankful to have an agent I can always trust to support my long-term career goals, and to always listen and hear me. I have always felt like she “gets” what I want and need, and does her best to try and make it happen.

And I listen to her, too. Often her advice is to be patient, think long-term, even when the short term seems hopeless, and that advice has always turned out to be the right thing. And that’s why I love my agent.

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 Things about Shiloh Walker

Hey everybody...thanks for dropping by today. My brain is on overdrive from deadlines and instead of trying to think up something witty, unique and captivating, I'm just going to do one of those infamous memes...these are kind of fun, though. I've had a blast reading some on the web and learning things I never would have guessed about people.

Now I'm not going to tag anybody to follow this up, but feel free to do it if you want to!

And now here's 25 things you probably don't know about me:
1. When I was five months pregnant with my son, the DH and I went to Ireland.
2. I got to see the Blarney Stone.
3. I did NOT kiss the Blarney Stone...and I doubt you could convince me to do it unless it was cleaned with Clorox first. LOTS of Clorox.
4. I grew up listening to my mom tell me and my brothers ghost stories...they are true, accordingly to my mom and her side of the family...they are hauntable, I guess.
5. The reason I write so many different kinds of romance is because I have a wicked short attention span.
6. I think I'm a lousy writer... (hmmmm...maybe I should keep that one quiet...oh well.)
7. The site of blood doesn't bother me, but I hate spiders.
8. I was about a year away from getting my black belt when I found out I was pregnant. Morning sickness made me stop taekwondo and it took me 7 years to start back.
9. In September, God willing, I'm finally going to test for my black belt.
10. I have a katana hanging over the door of my office.
11. I love romance, but I have a die-hard passion for fantasy and urban fantasy.
12. My favorite urban fantasies have romance aspects to them.
13. My husband knows a guy that is related to country/gospel music singer, Charlie Daniels.
14. I've been to see Gallagher three times.
15. I've seen Ron White twice.
16. I've seen Bill Engvall twice.
17. I'd rather go to a comedy or magic show than a concert.
18. I love music, but I can rarely remember who sings a song, or the title, unless it's a favorite of mine.
19. I'm dying to take my kids and husband to Scotland, Ireland and England.
20. I'm getting addicted to the gourmet chocolates found in New York City.
21. I've never been to New York City.
22. I married my high school sweetheart.
23. We got married in the church I've to since childhood.
24. I had a crush on him in middle school and used to kick him to show him my affection.
25. I kidnapped him for a getaway this Valentine's Day.

So there ya go...a sneak peek into the mind of Shiloh Walker, arachnophobic, die hard romantic, and author extraordinaire. If you're so inclined and would like to check out any of my books, you can find me at

Thanks for dropping by and if you do a twenty-five things, let us know so we can check YOURS out.

Shiloh Walker

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What to Do if You’re Dateless on Valentine’s Day - Lisa Daily

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day again. (Otherwise known as Singles Awareness Day) Even if Cupid (and the flower delivery man) overlook you this year, there’s lots of fun to be had if you know where to look. Here are seven fun dateless options that will make even your most blissfully-coupled friends envious of your Valentine’s Day plans.

1) Throw a Trade-Your-Ex party
She squeaks when she blows her nose. He eats like a rabid warthog. It’s just didn’t work out. But hey, who’s to say your warty frog of an ex isn’t somebody else’s Prince (or Princess) Charming? Throw a singles-only party where everybody brings an ex boyfriend or girlfriend who was nice but just wasn’t “The One.” (Sort of a “people potluck.”) Just add snacks, maybe a few mixed drinks, and you’ve got yourself a Valentine’s Day blast. You might even meet someone fabulous. At the very least, you’ll unload your ex.

2) Vegas, baby
Get some friends together, take a long weekend (and a cheap flight) and head to the most singles-friendly destination on the planet. Yes, it’s fabulous Las Vegas. You can dress to the nines (or even wear the same clothes for 48 hours straight,) gorge yourself on 99-cent lobster, and drink all the dwarf-sized rum and Cokes you can wheedle from the casino waitresses. Try a little indoor skydiving, flirt with a showgirl or Elvis himself, and blow a month’s worth of laundry money on the slots. If you do it right, you won’t even remember it’s February 14.

3) Book a spa day
Don’t wait for someone else to pamper you, do it yourself! Spend a day at the spa, listening to that groovy new-age music and padding around in a borrowed bathrobe. Go ahead, have yourself kneaded, buffed and polished until you’re positively blissful. Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday this year, so be sure to book your appointment early. Most day spas are uber-quiet, so at you can look forward to not having any have nosy co-workers grilling you about your lovelife. When you finally emerge from your herbal bodywrap cocoon you’ll look and feel completely fantastic. Like a butterfly.

4) Do your taxes
Okay, so this one isn’t really going to be that much fun, but think of it this way: every restaurant in town is going to be booked anyway, Saturday night TV sucks, and you’ll have a HUGE weight off your shoulders for the next two months. Plus, filing early can shorten your refund time by weeks!

5) Babysit for some married friends or a single parent with a hot date
Finding a babysitter on a Saturday night Valentine’s Day is about as complicated as determining the molecular formula of SPAM. Take the pressure off somebody who really needs a little romance in their lives by offering to babysit while they head out for a night on the town. It’s not exactly glamorous, but the good karma will follow you around for the rest of the year. (Besides, if you’re not having sex tonight, at least somebody should…)

6) Throw a Pajama Party or Poker Night
Invite the girls over for a night of junk food, amateur pedicures and girl talk. Do each other’s hair and stay up all night giggling. Or, break out the cards, the beer and the salty snacks and reminisce about your wildest times.
Either way, you’re sure to be reminded that romance may come and go, but good friends are with you for the long haul.

7) Buy a copy of my brand new book How to Date Like a Grown-Up: All You Need to Know to Get Out There, Get Lucky or Even Get Married in Your 40s, 50s and Beyond at TODAY, and get $800 worth of free bonus gifts.
Who says you have to be in a relationship to get a fabulous Valentine’s Day present?

For today only, you can get an online goodie bag worth $800 when you purchase How To Date Like a Grown-Up: Everything You Need To Know To Get Out There, Get Lucky, or Even Get Married in Your 40s, 50s and Beyond. (It’s about $12 at

How to Date Like a Grown-Up offers realistic, counterintuitive advice that will help you finally find the relationship you deserve, including: where and how to meet better men, 5 easy tips to chat up any stranger, what you may be doing to make yourself a magnet for losers, little-known secrets to dramatically improve your dating odds, and the one simple thing you can do in the bedroom to make a man speed up his marriage proposal. (It's not what you think!)

For details and a complete listing of all the free bonus items, which includes a free T-Tapp exercise video download (lose 2 sizes in 30 days!), free dating site membership, a collection of fantastic audio downloads, sneak peek chapters of not-yet-released books and lots of other goodies, check out

To get the free $800 in online bonuses, purchase How to Date Like a Grown-Up before 12 midnight PST TODAY at (where it’s currently bargain-priced under $12) and email your receipt to

Wishing you much love, and a very happy Valentine’s Day,

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th...

Friday the 13th...I've never had a problem with the day.  I've never noticed it was particularly more unlucky than any other day of the week.  I sort of feel bad for it.  I mean, in China the number 4 is unlucky, and I've never had a particular problem with fours, either.  


When I sold my first book to Harlequin 9 years ago this March, I think there was an element of luck to it.  It landed on the right desk of the right editor on the right day.  But I also had been working hard towards that goal.  I'd written books, received rejections, taken the comments to heart, written more books, got more rejections...  I worked at it.  I didn't give up.  I stuck to it.  So, though there was an element of luck, there was a lot more to the sale.

Maybe we make our own luck?

So what about you?  Do you worry about Friday the 13th?  Do you believe in luck?


ONCE UPON A VALENTINE'S...on the shelves now!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winter Heat by Megan Crane

It's cold-- even here in California-- and there's nothing I like better than curling up with a good book. Unless it's curling up with a good television show featuring a delicious man.

Lately I've been catching up on old episodes of NCIS. There is only one thing anyone needs to know about NCIS, aside from the fact that it's really good and kind of addictive: Mark Harmon.

Right? Yum. (Also, his character, Gibbs, is fantastic.)

I've also been watching the British show Wire in the Blood, which features fantastic crime stories and the lovely Robson Green:

He's an excellent choice if you prefer your eye candy absolutely brilliant and able to think rings around whoever he meets.

Then, of course, there's Damian Lewis from one of my favorite shows, Life:

His Detective Charlie Crews is one of the most fascinating characters on TV. It doesn't hurt that he's easy on the eyes, either.

I'm prepared to be desperately in love with Tahmoh Penikett's brand new character on Joss Whedon's brand new show Dollhouse, which starts tomorrow night:

I don't even think I know what role he's playing. But I'm sure you'll agree, it doesn't really matter, does it?

Who's keeping you warm throughout this long, cold winter?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Hazy, Lazy, Crazy Days of Summer

by Anna Campbell

It seems crazy to think a lot of my American friends are suffering horrible ice storms and snow and plummeting temperatures and gray skies. You know, the whole miserable winter drill. My sympathies and good wishes go out to those people who are suffering more than mere discomfort in what sounds like a really rotten winter over there!

Down here in Australia, a lot of the country is suffering record heatwaves with many of the same results as your cold snap, paradoxically. They include an increase in sudden deaths and power outages which are terrible when you've got food to store in this shocking heat.

I live in south-east Queensland which is the humid, subtropical part of Australia about halfway up the east coast. Our temperatures haven't been nearly as dramatic as further south in Victoria and Adelaide but it's been terrifically humid. I get up well before the sun does and believe me, it's ridiculous to be sweating at 4am! It just shouldn't be allowed!

Like a lot of Australians, I have a pool and believe me, it's been getting a workout this summer. Those who don't have their own pool use public ones or take off for the beach. Australia has some of the loveliest beaches in the world although at this time of year, they tend to be obscured by millions of sunbathing bodies. The beach in summer is a national tradition.
Another national tradition is sitting around for hours on end watching the cricket. Sadly, after several years as top dog in the cricket world, we seem to be going through a bit of an eclipse. The South African team is touring at the moment and has just officially been named best one-day side in the world. Sigh. What is the world coming to? Australians as a whole tend to be much more passionate about sport than politics!

Another summer tradition is watching the tennis, particularly the Australian Open. As I write this on 31st January, we're heading towards the finals which is so exciting. I don't know how those poor players have kept going through Melbourne's record temperatures! It's turned into a real test of endurance and strength this year.

Other summer traditions include complaining about the heat (yeah, that one never loses its fascination), having barbecues and the post-Christmas sales. The day after Christmas, Boxing Day, is the day when the shops are full of ridiculous bargains and people fight to get the best buys.

Here in Queensland, after about ten years of unusual weather patterns, we've got the monsoon back this year. Which means sweltering humidity and then sudden downpours which at least cool things down momentarily. We've also had a series of violent electrical storms this year which can be spectacular and also VERY scary!

Because we've had rain and heat and because I've been busy promoting my latest release TEMPT THE DEVIL, the garden has become a tangled, overgrown mess. Seriously I think the Abominable Snowman, Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster and Elvis are all out there in the garden somewhere. Not that I'll ever have a chance to find them. They could hide in the undergrowth and never be seen!

By the way, this isn't a picture of my garden but I think it very soon could pass for one! Hey, I just saw Tarzan swinging from a grevillea. He looked rather hot and sweaty in his leopardskin loincloth. I must tell him he's allowed to use the pool.

Actually, something really cool (smooth segue, huh?) is my current website contest. The major prize is five great books by Aussie authors, Annie West, Paula Roe, Bronwyn Jameson, Christine Wells - oh, and TEMPT THE DEVIL. There are two consolation prizes of signed copies of TEMPT THE DEVIL. It's a really easy question so why not check it out?

Anyway, what's the weather like in your neck of the woods?

Sadly, I wrote this post last week before the tragic bushfires that have killed so many people and left thousands homeless, not to mention the toll on wildlife and their habitat. If you'd like to make a donation to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, please visit this site:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Safety in Numbers

I've got an event coming up this weekend that I'm very excited about. I am doing a booksigning for my latest release The Rancher's Runaway Princess, and on Valentine's Day, no less.

But I'm not doing it alone. No sirree.

I did my first book signing solo. I kept my girls close by for moral support - they were all of 9 and 7 at the time. I did have an okay crowd, but during the lulls, when customers went by, it felt a little awkward being at that table all by myself. And while I'm personable, I just don't have it in me to get in someone's face and ask them to buy my book. I smile in a friendly way and offer a hello. And feel stupid. Thank goodness for friends that came and kept me company - like my good friend Joyce here who might be the coolest person ever.

There really is safety in numbers though. The next signing I did was five months later as a part of a workshop that the Calgary RWA was putting on. We did a group signing - me, Vivi Anna, Pamela Yaye and Brenda Novak. We laughed our butts off. Had a great time. We all had peeps come and then shifted them over to other authors. It was a BLAST. I knew then I never wanted to do another solo signing.

Fast forward to this past October when I was in Calgary again - this time with Vivi Anna, Pamela Yaye, Cara Colter, CJ Carmichael and Rebecca York! A whole gaggle of authors! Don't we look like we're having fun?

My determination not to do solo signings is working out well, because quite unexpectedly I ended up with a signing this Saturday! I can't wait, because the other author is one whose work I really admire...Julianne MacLean. I'm really looking forward to being able to chat with her and with readers!

Now I don't know how many of you are in the Halifax, NS area, but if you are we'd love to see you at the Sunnyside Indigo from 12-2. Rumour has it there may be chocolate!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Yours for the Night

Here’s a special sneak peak of my new cover for Yours for the Night. It just went up on the website this weekend. This one is out in November 2009. I turned in the manuscript to my editor on Friday, Jan 23rd and she read it in one week. Those of you who are writers will know that’s unheard of. This is a trio of stories about ladies of the night, and I really think the cover fits the tone of these modern-day “courtesan” tales, which are fantasy erotic romances to be published under Berkley’s HEAT line. When I came up with the concept, I wanted to write about women’s fantasies. Now none of us want to be a “mistress of the night” but I do think that some women have the fantasy of being paid to make love. Of course, I’ve written very romanticized versions, no street corners, the settings are rich, luxurious, the men are all very sexy, and the women are always in control of what happens. Nothing is forced upon them. But this is also a controversial topic.

So what are your thoughts on the subject matter? I’d also love to hear what you think of the cover for Yours for the Night. BTW, this is the first book, there will be at least one more (no title or cover or release date yet, but I’m working on the concepts), and hopefully more to come!

On the website, you can also see the cover for Fair Game, my June book, #3 in The Fortune Hunter trilogy. I really do love what Berkley is doing with my HEAT covers.

If you leave a post on this blog, I’ll enter you in the drawing for an autographed copy of Show and Tell, book 2 in The Fortune Hunter trilogy. Please leave your email so I know how to contact you.

Jasmine, Jennifer and JB!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Work and the White Stuff - Christina Hollis

The first week of February has hardly ended, but the year has already been a busy one. I put the finishing touches to my latest Modern Romance, The Count of Castelfino. While that was under consideration, I asked my writing mentor, the poet Paul Groves, to take a look at the short story I’m entering for the 2009 Bridport Prize. He came up with some useful suggestions, so I’ve made a couple of minor adjustments to my story and its now almost ready for despatch. Then I got some really good news: The Count of Castelfino was accepted and will be published as a Mills and Boon Modern Romance in the autumn. I’m already hard at work on my next book, but it’s quite a task fitting any writing time in at the moment. February 1st saw the publication of Her Ruthless Italian Boss as a Harlequin Presents title, and February 2nd brought five inches of snow! That meant the local schools were closed, and we were busy doing a lot of digging to reach the hens and the bird tables. The van delivering our groceries couldn’t get within a couple of miles of us, so it’s a good job we keep a supply of essentials like dried milk, flour and cereals! Keeping the children amused with snowballs and sledging takes up quite a bit of time – then there was a piece for the February authorsoundrelations newsletter and extract to produce and various other blogs to write. Not to mention updating my own website! I’m running a competition throughout this month, with prizes including signed copies of Her Ruthless Italian Boss. Find out how to enter by visiting

It looks like we might get snowed in again before long. What’s your favourite tip for keeping cabin fever at bay?

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Six Degrees of Charlotte Bronte

I blame Nicola Cornick for my procrastination thoughts. She has introduced me to the Six Degrees of Francis Bacon game. Basically, you take two seemingly unrelated figures in history or literature and see if you can make a connection in six or less steps, using famous/celebrity figures. I chose Charlotte Bronte to go back to because I think she holds more appeal than Francis Bacon. Nicola likes to use either Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer. Every new person counts as a degree. For example to get from David Bowie to Charlotte Bronte in 3 degrees, David Bowie>Philip Glenister>Elizabeth Gaskell>Charlotte Bronte. David Bowie wrote the song Life on Mars which served as the title of the tv series that Philip Glenister starred in. Philip Glenister was also in the production of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford. Elizabeth Gaskell wrote the first biography of Charlotte Bronte.
Catherine Cookson to Charlotte Bronte is one degree. Catherine Cookson>John Martin>Charlotte Bronte. Catherine Cookson lived in the landscape that inspired Victorian/Regency painter John Martin’s painting. One of John Martin’s painting hung in the dining room where Charlotte Bronte and her sisters wrote.
To get from James Bond to Charlotte Bronte is 5 degrees: James Bond>Ian Fleming>John Buchan>Rupert Penry Jones>Richard Armitage>Mrs Gaskell>Charlotte Bronte. James Bond was created by Ian Fleming who lists as one of his influences John Buchan who wrote 39 Steps. Rupert Penry Jones starred recently in 39 Steps but he also starred in the UK drama Spooks which now stars Richard Armitage. Richard Armitage starred in Mrs Gaskell’s North & South and Mrs Gaskell was a good friend and biographer to Charlotte Bronte.
UK prime minister Gordon Brown is one degree from Charlotte Bronte. Brown>Emily Bronte>Charlotte Bronte. Gordon Brown famously referred to himself as a Heathcliff figure. Heathcliff was created by Emily Bronte who was the sister of Charlotte.
Personally I like doing this sort of thing as writing is all about making connections and seeing how jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together. I also enjoy trivia but that is another story. Whether the author works out all the twists beforehand, or writes as award winning crime novelist Ian Rankin does by putting in bold writing I think this girl could play a part at the end, it does not matter. The important thing is that the author has had to make connections between two seemingly unrelated people. How do these things fit together and why.
So does anyone else play this game? Or does anyone else have a figure they prefer to use?

This month's contest:

My next book Impoverished Miss Convenient Wife is published in hardback this month and in paperback in April. The hero Simon Clare was inspired by Richard Armitage. So on that basis how many degrees of separation is there between me and Charlotte Bronte? (hint:Richard Armitage is used in an example above) Please send the answer to for a chance to win a paperback copy of Impoverished Miss, Convienent Wife. Please put February Totebags Contest in the title. I will be drawing the winner on 13 February.
Jane A was the first out of the hat and so she will get a copy of Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife.