Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Going Old School - Dara Girard

When I was working on my latest release, ROUND THE CLOCK, I decided to go a little old school—way old school. I wrote some chapters by hand. Yes, not even by typewriter, by long hand. It was fun (laborious yes, but fun). Instead of the sound of keys clacking like hail against a window, I heard the smooth sound of a pen gliding across the page. If I didn’t like a word I just crossed it out. If I wanted to move a passage, I circled it and put an arrow to where I wanted it instead. I scribbled notes in the margins and sometimes drew pictures. The end results were mostly messy, (I have never been known for my penmanship), but it made writing like play again. It also allowed me to write a ‘draft’. I have discovered that sometimes computers can trick us into thinking that what you’ve just typed is the final product because everything looks so pristine and ready to go to publication. But seeing one’s own handwriting can help you feel and see the ‘draft’ of your creation: like sketching a scene.

Of course I can only indulge in this kind of free-wheeling activity when I’m not on a tight deadline because transferring pages to the computer takes up time. But, at a leisurely pace, writing long hand takes me back to when I was first learning to write —like writing a note in a card, a postcard or airmail letter instead of sending an email. And it seemed fitting to write ROUND THE CLOCK in this format because it’s about memories and dealing with the past. Sometimes going old school can take you to another place. Some twentysomethings are starting to bring back the vinyl record. I recently read in Poets &Writers about a man who collects typewriters. Our past is rich. And while I’m not against progress (trust me I have no need to know how it feels to write an entire manuscript long hand nor have my novel typeset by hand) sometimes going back can open new worlds.

What old school things do you sometimes go back to?

Dara Girard’s latest release, ROUND THE CLOCK, is the fourth and final book in The Black Stockings Society series about four women, one club and a secret that will make all their fantasies come true. Find out more on her website:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Taking The Bull By the Horns -- Michelle Monkou

They say that in her 40's, women tend to reflect on their lives. "...she can choose to work at being: 1) physically fit (have regular medical check-ups, reduce stress, eat the right food, exercise regularly, stay upbeat); 2) emotionally competent (continue to know and develop herself, consider her limitations, maintain meaningful relationships); and 3) intellectually engaged (read, work, volunteer, remain socially active)"-- Five Questions on Women In Their 40s.

I chose to be a fulltime writer. In other words, where I used to say that my day job is ?? and my real job is an author. Now, it's plain and simple. I'm an author. Basically I'm self-employed.

Now I had some taste of that when my husband had his engineering consulting company. I would compare the ride to one of the loopy roller coasters-- up, down, tail spin, soaring at great heights, smiling and nauseous all at the same time.

What are my advantages: no more Sunday afternoon blues about the next day, no more staring at my closet trying to figure out what to wear...or what will fit, a reversion to kindergarten days when afternoon naps were a good thing.
Disadvantages: I'll limit myself to three. No one pays me for doing nothing, or as I call it, coasting until motivated to do something. You don't stop thinking about your job, no such thing as 9-5. Going flat out broke!

But I have never been the type to sit on the sidelines and let life pass me by. I enjoy jumping into the melee and fake it 'til I make it. It reminds of when I ran the Marine Corp marathon and instead of getting in the back with the slow folks, my friend and I thought we'd found a good spot to start. When the race started, the scene of us running for our lives was akin to the running of the bulls. Leg cramps, tears, and thoughts of quitting plagued me throughout the race. But I kept going and I have the pictures and participant's medal for my efforts.
It takes fortitude, a healthy dose of common sense, tenacity and passion to stay the course. I'm looking forward to every day and counting my blessings along the way.

What is one thing that you would like to do in life?

A lucky winner will receive a copy of my latest book - Only In Paradise and a $10 Starbuck card.

Michelle Monkou
Trail of Kisses--February 2010

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tell Me A Story

I can tell that school is back in session because I'm not reading a novel. I'm reading Newsweek, O, The New Yorker, and the Sunday newspaper. I'm reading small things that float across my desk--mail, advertisements, and bills. I'm reading student work, essays and short stories. I'm gearing up to read novel sections and some editing projects coming my way. I'm also trying to write my new novel, and that takes up "story" time, too.

This is why I love books on CD. During all the hours that I drive, I can "read," or, at least, I can imagine. I can fall into that tribal pattern of listening, that older than reading mode of hearing story. I've been listening to books for years, back in the olden days when they were on tape. I listened to children's books with my children as we drove around town, and I listened to adult stories with them, too.

Once, my youngest son got in the car after school, turned to me and said, "Can we listen to the novel?"

We did, listening on the way home, taking in the story together. We did this often, and he would ask me what he missed. Sometimes, we would rewind and listen to it again, just so we were both on the "same page."

Michael and I now share our CDs, both of us listening to the same stories, talking not only about the plot and characters but the readers of the tales. The readers--their voices, their acting skills--can make a book I would not normally read palatable. Long tomes of history suddenly come alive. Slightly "thin" novels full of mostly plot become interesting and rich, the reader's voice deep and thrilling.

Tell me a story and I'll lay it all down. Tell me a story, and I'll drive anywhere to get to the end.


My latest novel The Beautiful Being comes out on Wednesday. To anyone wanting a free copy, please write to me by 7 pm today at and I'll send the first five who write a copy.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Armchair International Travel by Caitlin Crews

Fall is here (not that you can tell this from the 90-plus degree weather we are having here in southern California) and that always gets me in the mood to travel.

Not that I am traveling anywhere outside my computer screen, mind you.

When I was a graduate student in England, fall was when I took most of my trips. Prague. Paris (more than once). Italy. My husband and I have been to Hawaii several times in the fall, and have taken a few trips up and down the California coast, too.

These days I must rely on my imagination. Not only because our travel budget is not as robust as it might once have been, but because our work schedules are far too demanding. I've talked before about using the books I write and read to transport me to exotic locales. But I also like to do the same thing with food and drink.

There's an Indian restaurant just down the street from us that makes curry the way they did where I lived in England. It's two degrees of separation, but it tastes like those nights out in York, UK, so long ago now: naan and a curry and a casual conversation about great literature with rain all around.

I've been searching for the perfect fish & chips in every faintly British-inspired pub in southern California, to no avail: none of it tastes as good as the fish & chips I got at least once a week from the chip shop just over the road from my flat. I would smell the scent of it on the evening breeze and sooner or later, head over. Nothing in California comes close to the vinegar and salt rush, the newspaper print staining my fingertips.

There's a French place nearby that feels as if you're really in France. Pastries and strong coffee. Actual French-speaking staff and a Nicoise salad that could make you weep. It attracts a European clientele, complete with strong, imported cigarettes and that careless elegance that American men just don't possess.

I drink a lot of tea. Jasmine. Roasted rice. Yorkshire teas from Harrogate. PG Tips. Every sip takes me somewhere else.

I remember the first time I found a bottle of Amarula outside of Zimbabwe, where I'd first tasted it. Every sip was another adventure under wide African stars, even so far away.

What takes you far, far away, like Alice through the looking glass? Or even Calgon?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grandma and the Prince - Part 11

My brother Cass was a beautiful boy. We grew up together, were thick as thieves we were. Edith . . . she wasn't like us. She was raised in England. There was nothing of the child about my sister. Cass and I could run and jump. Edith was clumsy and slow.

I didn't see her from the time I was four until I was -- oh, sixteen or so. We were all strangers. Not like family at all.

Did I ever tell you about the time she walked into a tree? [wicked laughter] She was so busy looking at the sights she didn't pay attention where she was walking. [more wicked laughter]

But we were sisters and we both left the glove factory together. She found another job somewhere. I don't remember what.

So one day I was walking with Mother on the Concourse and I saw a "Saleslady Wanted" sign. Mother waited outside and I went in. Dresses. Coats. Nothing difficult. I could try, you know? And that's what the owner said. "I'll give you a try. When do you want to start?

"Whenever you want me," I said. "Tomorrow morning?"

"Ten o'clock," he said.

I was there early the next day. Mr. Wheeling's window was all full of signs for sales. "Everything must go." And there I was alone with no other saleslady in the shop! He says "I'm having a big sale. Everything's marked on the tickets. You charge whatever's on the tickets. You know American money, right? There's the dressing room. They can try it on but after they buy, there's no exchange and no returns." He reached for his coat.

"Oh no!" I said. "You're leaving?"

"I have to go to the bank downtown. I'll be back at lunchtime. Don't worry, princess. Nothing happens in the morning."

"Oh, you're not going to leave me!" I said. I was still just a kid. A teenager.

"I'll be back soon as I can. Don't worry. Just do what you can."

I started praying as soon as the door closed behind him. Please, dear God, please, don't let any customers come in! All those coats and dresses on sale and me, still a greenhorn. Around eleven one lady comes into the shop. "Oh," she says, "you've got a sale. Mind if I look around?"

And I'm thinking, "Please don't buy anything!"

But she tried on a coat – they were dear then, like now. A coat in those days cost sixty or seventy dollars. Things were very high during the war. [note: World War i] One dress was sixty dollars alone! Anyway, she tried on a coat and it looked very nice on her and I told her that. I was always honest as a saleslady. I never lied—not even in New Jersey. And, not to flatter myself, but Edith and mother and I dressed very well. My dear, it made a difference.

Anyway she woman gives me the money. They didn't have fancy machines back then, just a simple cash register. You put the money in the file and you made change. I wrote out he bill.. My first sale of my life! I was so proud! She said, "You're new here, aren't you?" And I laughed. She didn't know how new I was!

From then on that first day I had one customer after another and Mr. Wheeling didn't show up until 4 or 5 in the afternoon. I forgot all about him! I didn't even have lunch, I was so busy. I had so many customer and, thank God, no trouble with American money.

And here he came in and the stack of money is getting higher and higher! He didn't expect it. "Well, Elsie," he said. "how did things go today?"

"Oh, " I said so casually, "I had some sales."

"You did?" he asked. "Really?" He thought I was making a joke so he nearly fell on the floor when I showed him the receipts. "You did all of that alone?"

"Yes," I said.

"And where's the money?"

I showed him two boxes full that I'd pushed under the counter. He nearly fell off his feet! He couldn't believe it. "Well, I'll be damned!" he said. "On your first day."

He gave me my first raise then and there.

From then on I had steady raises and a commission. I didn't want to work nights and I told him. He liked me so much that he said, "Would you work one night a week?" So I said yes, until nine o'clock.

I stayed with him for three years until he went out of business.

Oh, dearie, I was quite the saleswoman! My mother was that way too. Mother could sell you the paint off the walls. My father and Cass had it as well but not Edith. Poor thing. Edith just wasn't like the rest of us. . .

# # #

Which probably explains why Dede eloped with a handsome Irish cop from Detroit and left them all behind.

At least until tragedy struck.

PS: I'm Barbara Bretton and you can find me here and here. Laced With Magic is on the stands now. It was recently named one one of Booklist's Top Ten Romances of 2009. I hope you'll look for it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some Call It Research : : Anne McAllister

It's a treat to be back at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs! I've stopped by and read plenty of other writers' blogs here this year, but I haven't written one myself because life has just grabbed me and pulled me in other directions (mostly out west to see new grandchildren, but I've been writing, too)

Anyway, I've missed you, and I'm glad to be back. I expect to be here once a month now -- and I hope life cooperates. I'm counting on it.

I've just started a new book -- and I'm deep into the best part which, trust me, is not the writing.

The best part for me is always the research. It's what Twyla Tharp calls 'scratching' in her wonderful inspiring book, The Creative Habit. It's also a bit of 'hunting and gathering' as far as I'm concerned.

Someone says something which leads to an idea, which leads to a bit of reading which leads to talking to someone which leads to another idea, which leads to maybe a trip some place or a bunch of inter-library loans or an interview with a physicist or a weekend at bull-riding school or an afternoon at a trendy Upper East Side beauty salon.

The impetus for this particular trip began eleven or twelve years ago when I was casting about for a hero for one of my cowboy books for Silhouette.

My friend Lucy Gordon and I were having dinner in Bath, England and discussing this difficult problem -- which guy was most appealing -- and she said thoughtfully, "You ought to have a look at that Australian playing in Oklahoma in London right now."

And I said, "Uh-huh," or words to that effect.

Mostly what I thought was, "Yeah, right," in the time-honored tone reserved for double-positives that equal negatives.

My dad was born in Oklahoma. So was his dad. So was his grandmother. I know Oklahoma. Aussies don't do Oklahoma, even when it's a musical, not a state.

But this one did.

His name, in case you don't remember back that far, is Hugh Jackman.

And he played Curly very well indeed. He jumped right up to the top of my hero list. Then Kate Walker got me a copy of that wonderful Australian film Paperback Hero in which Mr Jackman plays a romance writer who can't bring himself to admit he's doing any such thing -- and I never looked back.

Hugh has, as those who attended the Romance Writers of New Zealand and the Romance Writers of Australia conferences in 2004 know, evolved into a serious research object.

And the thing is, of course, you can never do too much research.

Which is why I'm going to New York tomorrow. And on Thursday it's why I'll be heading down to Broadway to attend the play A Steady Rain -- a two man production starring Hugh Jackman and that blond guy -- you know the one -- Daniel Craig. As Chicago cops.

How tortuous the path has been. And twelve years in process. Can research get any tougher?

Don't answer that.

Just think good thoughts -- and hope for no stand-ins and lots of, um, inspiration.

My friend Nancy the cat slayer (just kidding, she doesn't really, but Kate Walker and I have an incriminating photo that makes it looks as if she does) is coming along with me. The Prof (that would be the man I'm married to) is teaching (yes, he retired, but it lasted only about seven hours) and he can't go. So Nancy and I double-dating with Hugh and Dan.

Well, perhaps not. I write fiction, after all.

But I'm looking forward to the play -- er, research -- as you can imagine. I think I could even learn to appreciate blonds.

Equally -- well, almost equally -- I'm looking forward to my interview with the physicist and my prowl around Columbia University and my dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant and whatever else happens over the next week.

It's all going to bring my new book to life. I'm not sure exactly how yet -- but it will come to me. It always does.

If you write, what's your favorite part of the process?

If you're a reader, what have you read that made you want to broaden your horizons and go somewhere or do something you've never done before? What was it -- and did you do it?

Did it involve Hugh and Dan?????

Monday, September 21, 2009

The march of time ... a return to Strathlochan and to Cornwall

I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown by and that we are in the second half of September already. If I didn't know better, I'd suspect someone of taking a couple of months out of the calendar! I also find it impossible to believe that I am currently in the process of writing my thirteenth Medical Romance when it seems only yesterday that I was bouncing with excitement on hearing the news that my first had been accepted! That excitement has never gone away and I feel so blessed to have been able to continue to grow and expand my loosely-linked books set in and around my fictional town of Strathlochan in rural Scotland.

My ninth Strathlochan story is out now in the new duo format and sharing space with a story from the excellent Emily Forbes. Italian Doctor, Dream Proposal brings Rico & Ruth to the fore. Both have been secondary characters in past stories and now it is their turn to shine. As the second of a trio of friends, Ruth was always destined to have her own book. Staff nurse Gina McNaught came first in An Italian Affair, meeting her scrumptiously sexy doctor, Seb Adriani, on the magical island of Elba off Italy's Tuscan coastline. Specialist immunologist and allergist, Rico Linardi, also featured in An Italian Affair because he is Seb's cousin and close confidant. I'd never intended Rico to be more, but it soon became obvious that not only did he need his own story but that he was the perfect hero for over-achieving and emotionally repressed GP Ruth Baxter.

Both Rico & Ruth are bright, intelligent and professionally successful. Not to mention gorgeous! Both are focused on their careers and have not allowed anything to distract them from achieving their goals. So both are shocked at the intense connection when they first set eyes on each other ... a meeting that changes both their lives forever. Neither has any idea at the beginning of the wider links between them through their relationships with Seb & Gina. The reality of that unexpected coincidence comes later! After Ruth, overwhelmed by the instant blaze of passion between them, scared at being so out of control, and fearing Rico has nothing more to offer her than a temporary fling, has run away. Rico has reluctantly granted her time to think. But he is not going to let her go. The men in his family fall once and fall hard when they meet their soul mate. It happened to his father over thirty years ago. It happened to Seb when he met Gina the previous year. Now it has happened to Rico, and he is determined to win Ruth's trust and her heart ... and make her his wife.

All characters are different and some are easier to write than others. I love Rico & Ruth to bits, but they were very independent, and determined all along to do things their own way, so I ended up with a very different book to the one I had envisaged when I started! Not that I'm a plotter. Far from it. I fly by the seat of my pants when I write and I invest totally in my characters, so there are often surprises along the way, but I usually have at least some idea where I want get to by the end, even if quite how I'm going to get there is often somewhat fuzzy!

For those who fell in love with the wonderful Medical Romance series, The Brides Of Penhally Bay which ran one a month throughout Mills & Boon's centenary year in 2008, I'm delighted to say that the first of the 4 new books that continue the story threads on from those first 12 books, is also out now. The Rebel Of Penhally Bay, by Caroline Anderson, is a terrific read and gets the continuing mini series off to a great start. In November comes Anne Fraser's Spanish Doctor, Pregnant Midwife while in December we have Falling For The Playboy Millionaire by the wonderful Kate Hardy. The latest mini series comes to a close in January 2010 with my own book, A Mother For The Italian's Twins, (by Margaret McDonagh). All 16 stories from Penhally Bay are now available as e-books to download from the Mills & Boon website.

Thank you for sharing some time with me. I hope you will enjoy the new Penhally Bay books and also a return to Strathlochan with Rico & Ruth's story.

Best wishes,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Whatever Happened to Summer Vacation?

I can't believe that autumn is upon us!

After awaiting the entire lazy summer to get my edits for my upcoming memoir, WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO'S DETERMINED TO KILL ME (Simon Spotlight Entertainment/March 2010), (think Jen Lancaster meets Marley and Me with a deadly beak), my lovely editor sent them to me. With precisely one week in which to turn them in. Just as my languid, sleep-in-and-worry-about-responsibilities-later summer kicked into full-on school-year frenzy.

And so the week during which I should have been focusing exclusively on my revisions, I instead dealt with the following "It's School Again!" schedule (including a few additional challenges): help to pack/drive son back to college (a full day+); drive 15-y/o daughter to haircut, doctor, dentist & physical therapy (soccer injury) appointments, two soccer practices and a scrimmage; attend senior picture shoot for 17-y/o daughter (at her behest); devote much time to soothing same teary-eyed child, whose boyfriend departed for college, far, far away; wrangle major last-minute overhaul of her school schedule (over which I am still being machine-gunned with complaining text messages from her as I write this); tour two colleges with her; host empty-nester dinner party for all teary friends whose kids also left for college; drive to Pittsburgh and back in one day for funeral (13 hours in car); oh, and help my husband prepare to open a retail store, which I will be running, and still haven't staffed.

That schedule, besides nearly paralyzing me with things-to-do anxiety, reminded me that I like summer. Wait, make that love summer. And I really enjoy having my kids home, without the pressing demands of the school year, the field trips, homework, parent/teacher meetings, PTAs, volunteering out the wazoo, sports practices and games, and schedules that could vie with the President's when it comes to wretched excess.

Even though sometimes I welcome summer vacation with a little too much amnesiac-like zeal, only to wonder "What the hell was I thinking?!" when the house is strewn with the detritus of kids-at-home a few weeks later. Because come late July--when the kids are bored--the bickering ratchets up, the dirty dishes are piled eye-high on the counter, and the mere presence of the kids underfoot can become overbearing.

And then, well then, sure, I fantasize a bit about their return to school, knowing as I do that school was invented for a very good reason. But as I wish summer away, I’m dope-slapped into the truth: Fall brings with it managerial stresses that might not be quite worth the hassles. Give me a leisurely pool day with the kids any time over a crazy schedule that has me racing from 5:30 a.m. (to the gym) till 8:30 p.m. (back from soccer practice, in time to have to prepare a "continental-style" —i.e. one that's obscenely late--dinner).

While there is an element of needed regimentation and conversely some freedom that comes with kids returning to school, there is also an element of, um, the doo-doo hitting the fan.

So instead of actually cheering the kids return to school, I now wave a fond farewell to carefree summertime, and instead look back wistfully on our days at the beach playing in the waves, or sprawled on the couch, reading books, or plugged into Chopped or Ace of Cakes on the Food Network. Now, back to my edits.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Association of Mills & Boon Authors Lunch 2009

A small confession: I meant to take pictures but got busy.

Thursday saw the annual Association of Mills & Boon Author lunch followed by the Mills & Boon Toast to the Authors. It is an event eagerly looked forward to by the authors and is one of the few days of the year that I feel like I am a glamorous author, rather than a middle aged mother of three. This year was no exception.

The lunch and toast were held in the private dining rooms of Tuttons in Covent Garden. You go down the stairs into this lovely candlelit cavern. The food was super and the staff very professional. Several authors were heard to comment that it was the first time they had chicken at a large do and for the chicken not to be rubber! Tuttons outdid themselves particularly with the pudding -- a marvellous vanilla and strawberry creme brulee. If you ever happen to be in Covent Garden -- do go as it is a great place to eat.

The authors were lovely to see and represented fantastic galaxy of talent from mega stars like Penny Jordan to newly signed authors like Lucy King (Modern Heat) whose first book Bought Damsel in Distress is out next month. 36 authors attended in total.

Added to the excitement, Julie Moggan did some filming for her forth coming documentary on Mills & Boon (current anticipated date of showing July 2010). So various authors were whisked away at the start of the proceedings for quick vox pox interviews. I still can not say vox pox very fast at all. Various people who were wandering about Covent Garden kept looking with interest at the camera and no doubt wondering what the fuss was about as author after author was interviewed.

After lunch, we were filled about some of last year success stories and the upcoming events. In the UK, Mills & Boon are really streets ahead with their digital ebook programme. One of the things they are doing is offering a free book sample -- one representative book from each of their lines. You can find the books on Everybody's Reading. These are different from the Harlequin 6oth anniversary celebrations. Also new is the first ebook bundle of the hugely successful Penhally Bay. This is out now because the new Penhally Bay books have just been released. It is a wonderful heart warming series from the Medical authors and well worth a read.

One upcoming thing is the increase of the Historical Undone series to two books per month. Undone has proved very popular with readers.

Several authors like Carole Mortimer (150 books) and Margaret Mayo (75 books) were honoured in a small presentation. The champagne flowed and authors mingled with the editors basically discussing writing and books. The editors as ever looked lovely and poised.

In the end, I lost my voice from talking way too much. It is really a special day in the calender for me. No doubt other authors who were bettter with their camera will have actual pictures...

Michelle Styles writes historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon and her next book The Viking's Captive Princess is out in North America in December.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Things men could actually learn by attending my school - Delilah Marvelle

My dearest Readers,

The following is what men would actually learn if they attended the School of Gallantry. By the by -- for those of you that are curious -- the School of Gallantry was founded in 1830 in London, by Madame de Maitenon who sought to educate men in the topic of love and seduction. (Mind you, the school and all the characters in my books are fictional but hey, a woman can dream)

*Instead of relying on giving a lady more flowers and more gifts, try to rely on giving more of yourself.
*The art of pleasure involves more than just that stick between your legs.
*As a side note to number 2, most women's delicate little pearls cannot be reached by said stick, no matter how long or how large. Which leaves a woman quite wanting. It is up to you to ensure that little pearl is properly tended to.
*Lust can be quite a terrible predicament. Learn to control it, lest it control you.
*A dildo is a fun little accessory every man should keep at his bedside. Not for himself, mind you (although if it strikes your fancy...), but rather, for his lady.
*You cannot thoroughly pleasure a woman you do not know. Take the time to understand who she is. Not just what she looks like.
*Men are peacocks. With much emphasis on the cocks.
*Love isn't something meant to be understood. But felt.
*No, not all men are created equal. Because some of you possess qualities that go beyond a woman's wildest dreams. You just have to learn what those qualities are.
*If you are enrolled in this school, you are already taking your first step toward pleasuring your lady. Be proud of it.
*Though earlier it was mentioned you should give more of yourself than flowers or gifts, expenseive gifts, such as jewelry, do come in handy when words simply elude you. But I do suggest you start reading the dictionary on a more frequent basis to help you build your vocabulary as words are necessary to maintaining a relationship.
*Ask your lady what it is she wants most from you. Then try not to run.
*You cannot become the Lord of Pleasure until your lady dubs you as such.

The question of the day? Would you enroll your gentleman in a school that would educate him in the topic of love and seduction? And if so, why? (And don't worry, we won't tell him what you posted!)

If you're curious about naughty history (and I know you are...), I invite you to not only pick up my latest release, LORD OF PLEASURE but to visit my blog, A BIT O'MUSLIN at where every first of the month I post a new topic relating to the history of sex.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Latin Lover is coming soon – in Stereo! - Trish Morey

It’s true! Just when you think it’s safe to pick up one book and get one fantabulous Presents read, now you’re going to be able to pick up one book and get two!

The Latin Lover is an October Harlequin Presents release and features two great novellas, The Greek Tycoon’s Inherited Wife, by bestselling author Lucy Monroe and Back in the Spaniard’s Bed, by Trish Morey, winner of the 2009 Short Sexy Romantic Book of the Year Award.

Here are the blurbs, just to whet your appetite...

The Greek Tycoon’s Inherited Bride

Phoebe’s betrothal to Spiros Petronides’ brother meant she was forbidden, and honor was the code the Greek billionaire lived by. But with one kiss, Spiros knew he had to claim her as his!

Back in the Spaniard’s Bed

Leah left Alejandro Rodriguez because she’d overstepped the boundaries of a mistress and fallen in love! The Spaniard’s arrogance angered her, but his touch ignited her. So when Alejandro storms back into her life, how can Leah deny him?

And here’s a brief excerpt from Back in the Spaniard’s Bed, in case you’re still not convinced...

Nobody walked out on Alejandro Rodriguez. Not business tycoons or CEO’s or poker-faced politicians. And definitely not women. Leah Mitchell was just going to have to get that through her head.
He watched her working through the window of her small dressmaking shop from his vantage point across the narrow street, her head down, totally focused on the task at hand, her fingers nimble and quick as they worked the fabric through the machine.
He remembered those fingers, long and slender like the woman herself, and he remembered how they’d once worked their skilful magic on him...
He missed them.
He growled, low in his throat, a familiar thumping demand building below. Soon, he knew, soon he would feel her hands weave their magic upon him once again.
All of a sudden those same fingers stilled and she looked up, her eyes alert, searching the streetscape outside, the passing pedestrians and traffic, almost as if she’d sensed his presence. He smiled as he flipped the collar of his coat up against the unseasonable November cold. So she wasn’t over him? He’d suspected as much.
And he’d enjoy proving it to her.
He’d make her wish she’d never left him, make her beg for more.
And then he’d unceremoniously dump her.
The peak hour Sydney traffic was bumper to bumper along the narrow one-way street but somehow Alejandro forged a path through, parting the sea of cars like he had a god-given right, the tails of his long black coat swirling in his wake like the wings of a manta ray.
He was oblivious to the sound of car horns, oblivious to the calls from irate drivers to get off the road. Because right now his focus was on one thing and one thing only – Leah Mitchell, and how he was going to get her back into his bed.

I loved writing this story, it was challenging to deliver the full Presents experience in the shorter format but I’m really happy with the result and delighted it’s being released in North America in partnership with Lucy Monroe’s fabulous novella. Two great reads for the price of one – what could be better than that?

What do you think of the Presents 2-in-1 format? One lucky person will be drawn from the comments to win a copy of The Latin Lover, personally signed by Trish!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Bookshelves. Let Me Show You Them - Alison Kent

I own a lot of books. A lot. I don't know how many exactly, but the number runs into the hundreds. It could be the thousands. And most of these are books I've never read. I rarely keep ones I have. I have a small keeper shelf (and only for sentimental value) because I don't reread. I know. Heresy. But once I know how a story plays out and there's no longer any surprise, I don't want to revisit the characters.

Part of my not rereading is because I have too many new books waiting for me. Another part is that I don't want my writer's eye to ruin the memory of a book I loved. Trust me. It happens. And this is why I primarily read thrillers. I don't write thrillers, so I go into those books strictly as a reader. I don't mentally rewrite things my way as I do when reading romance.

That doesn't mean I don't have auto-buy authors in every genre. Well, pretty much every genre. I buy the literary works of Dennis Lehane, Ann Packer and Lisa Tucker having heard nothing but that they have a new release. I buy the historical romances of Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory and Penelope Williamson without knowing a thing about their books.

Arianna Franklin and Elizabeth Chadwick write amazing historical (non-romance) novels. I can't say I buy any horror authors, and I don't read much paranormal beyond Lynn Viehl's Darkyn series, but I buy women's fiction by Barbara O'Neal (Samuel), Patricia Gaffney and Jodi Picoult without looking. My contemporary romance auto-buys are Deborah Smith, Kristan Higgins, Robyn Carr; there are no doubt more I'm blanking on.Thrillers, though. Don't get me started. Chelsea Cain, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, Michael Connelly, Greg Rucka, Greg Iles, Tami Hoag, Robert Gregory Browne, Harlan Coben. The list goes on. And, yes, I read Dan Brown. I read him before he was a household name.

Did I mention my favorite format is hardcover? Ouch!

What's the weirdest thing about my book addiction? I don't always scarf down what comes in the mail (because I buy everything online). I'm a hoarder, saving my favorites for rainy days. I want to know I have a whole shelf of Robyn Carr to curl up with; I've been saving the last three of her Virgin River books. I want to read them this fall. I have to make sure I have nothing on my schedule when I sit down with Tess Gerritsen for a day, but when do I never have nothing on my schedule? And the new Barbara O'Neal coming out at the end of the year? I can't wait.

My problem comes when I buy because I see a blogger or reviewer raving about a book and I follow like a lemming without thinking about my own tastes and habits. This is where the author's Website is the best selling tool in the world. When I'm smart and not a lemming, I visit the site and read the excerpt. I know within a few pages if the writing is going to work for me.

And that's a big one. If I don't connect with the voice, no story in the world will hook me. So what happens when I visit an author's site and she has buying information, a cover and blurb, but no excerpt? No excerpt = no sale because I'm all about instant gratification. I may try and remember the title and check it out should I go into a bookstore, but more than likely, the buzz isn't going to result in a sale if the author doesn't give me a taste online.

Anyone else buy more than they’ll ever be able to read in a lifetime?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to School

As a student, I was never much of a fan of school, per se. But I've always been a MAJOR fan of back-to-school. AKA, shopping time *g*

There is, of course, all kinds of shopping. And I'm a fan of most. There's holiday shopping. There's summer shopping. There's scrapbook shopping. There's the ever-blessed shoe shopping. There's... well, the list could go on and on, couldn't it?

But there's nothing quite like back-to-school shopping. The fun of hitting the stores, scouring the sales for just the right shoes and the perfect skirt to go with that hot new blouse. Then there's the actual school supplies. I'm not sure if its the subtle kick of combining office supplies with the purchasers high. Or the crafty angle of finding so many ways to use office supplies when I scrapbook (like a two-fer deal). Or if its because they bring out all the good stuff in late August, filling the stores with cool new colors, toys and 'stuff'. But I love back-to-school shopping for sure.

Maybe its a writers thing? I've yet to meet a writer who doesn't go a little giddy when walking up and down the aisles of Office Depot, cruising the bright notebooks, the fun accessories and the always-necessary pen varieties.

A few back-to-school goodies are definitely in the nostalgia category. I seriously doubt I'll ever be in the market for a lunchbox again. But if I was, what'd be more fun than Retro Barbie?

And shoes. Oh man, the idea of combining my all-time favorite shopping delight, shoes, with the thrill of back-to-school just got better. Check out these sneakers that look like one of those old fashioned composition books!! Right down to the lined paper design LOL. Gotta love it!

I think the back-t0-school shopping craze might have leaked over just a smidge in my recent Blaze, FEELS LIKE THE FIRST TIME. Its a class reunion story, so there's a huge hit of school nostalgia. Plus, there's that whole 'going back to see your old classmates and make a big impression' thing my heroine had going on. She didn't shop for the perfect binder, but she was all about finding the perfect outfit (which didn't quite work out the way she'd planned, since she ended up dressed as a dominatrix).

How about you? Do you still get a happy tingle when you hit the office supply aisle? Does finding the perfect mechanical pencil fill you with joy, and do you have a specific brand of purple pens that always rocks your writing (or is that just me?) Does September bring Back-To-School memories for you? And are they good ones? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and I'll choose one random name to win a copy of any book in my backlist!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Laughs for Book Nerds

It’s been a great week—with lots of good news all around. My first book, Simple Wishes, hit the number two spot for Sony’s E-reader recently, thanks to a promotion from my publisher! You can imagine that’s kept me going for a while!

I just put a post together over on my personal blog about why readers rock (so stop over and join the conversation if you like--all comments automatically enter you to win my LOVE TO READERS prize).

In the meantime, I wanted to add some good cheer to your day by posting some of my favorite pictures from failblog, which is always good for a laugh. One little warning though--the last time I was on their site I almost got a virus. So be cautious if you go exploring over there.

I hope you word nerds out there enjoy these funny picts! Have a great day!

fail owned pwned pictures

fail owned pwned pictures

fail owned pwned pictures

fail owned pwned pictures

fail owned pwned pictures
see more Fail Blog

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Late Summer Dreaming... by Christina Hollis

I began reading Mills and Boon Modern Romances (published as ‘Harlequin Presents’ in the USA) as a form of escape. It was a time when I didn’t know which way my life was heading. My head was crammed with conflicting ideas of what I should do. It is always a real relief to take a few hours off and relax with a good book, and they came to my rescue in those days. I could lose myself in a world where nothing was impossible. ‘Presents’ heroines could do and say all the things I could only dream about, and the heroes could always be relied on. Over the years, my life sorted itself out. I lost the job at the laundry that had caused me so much grief: I gained a wonderful husband and family. The one constant through all that change was my love of romance, and an inability to stop day-dreaming.

My latest Harlequin release, The Tuscan Tycoon’s Pregnant Housekeeper, is all about dreams. Michelle wanted to be an artist, but real life got in her way. She started off working as a cleaner, but managed to land the job of housekeeper at a luxurious villa in the south of France.

Alessandro arrived there to unwind, and they discover a shared love of art – and a lot more besides! When Alessandro finds out Michelle has become pregnant, his instant reaction is to take complete control of the situation. He whisks her off to his Tuscan villa. Michelle is determined to give her baby a better childhood than she had, but there is a high price to pay for Alessandro’s help. His heavy-handed arrogance destroys her dreams. In desperation she tries to escape his regime, with near tragic results. Almost too late, she discovers the reason why Alessandro is so protective.

I felt particularly close to Michelle as I was writing this story, as I love painting and drawing. Unfortunately, I lack her talent! It was great fun to imagine having the skill to convey a scene in a simple sketch. Early on in the story, Michelle achieves her dream of running an art gallery. I like to think she would put some of her own work on display.

What skill would you like to put to good use in your own life?

When Christina Hollis isn’t writing romances like The Tuscan Tycoon’s Pregnant Housekeeper, she is kept busy raising a family, wrangling a garden, some hens and anything up to a quarter of a million honey bees. The only time left for dreaming is in bed – or in the bath, with a good book and maybe some scented beeswax candles…

Friday, September 11, 2009

Three's Company!

by Anna Campbell

I've got a new book out at the end of next month (CAPTIVE OF SIN, excerpt and blurb here) which means soon I'll be spending an awful lot of time talking about me and my writing process and the new story. So I thought this month, it might be fun to talk about books by other writers that I've recently enjoyed.

I got my latest manuscript in to my editor last week and immediately went on a bit of a Harlequin kick. These are three I really liked.

The first is SHE'S GOT IT BAD by Sarah Mayberry. Sarah is an Aussie who writes absolutely brilliant books for Harlequin Blaze. She's a fairly recent discovery for me - Sharon Archer who writes great Medical romance for Mills and Boon put me onto her - and I've devoured most of her backlist in the last year or so. This is her latest and it's riveting.

The theme of this story is lovers reunited which is one I'm a complete sucker for. I love it when a couple gets a second chance to put things right.

When she's fifteen, Zoe Ford is madly in love with Liam Masters, a boy her family has taken in temporarily after his mother's death. When Liam rejects her because of her youth and innocence, Zoe's life takes a dark turn. They meet again twelve years later and the spark is still there but there's so much heartache and history between Zoe and Liam, the reunion goes anything but smoothly.

This is such a sexy, emotional, compelling read, I stayed up way too late to finish it. And given how little sleep I'd had getting my manuscript ready to go, that's one serious compliment to Sarah's writing skills. Sarah has a wonderful ability to convey the texture of real life amongst all the emotion and drama of her stories. I think she's great!

The next one is Tote Bags regular Annie West's latest. THE SAVAKIS MISTRESS is the perfect Harlequin Presents. Brave, intelligent, spirited heroine up against it through no fault of her own? Check. Sexy, dark, brooding alpha hero who can't resist our heroine although he'd dearly love to? Check. Exotic, beautifully described setting that makes me want to buy a plane ticket? Check. Or perhaps I should say 'check in' there. Dramatic, emotional plot with oodles of sexual tension and lots of really passionate love scenes? Check, check, check!

Callie Manolis meets gorgeous Greek-Australian hunk Damon Savakis under false pretenses and then discovers he's the ruthless tycoon who's about to take control of her family's business and her future. The heat sizzles from the first page of this story and doesn't let you go until the ending. Yum!

The last of my terrific trio is another Blaze. It's HOT UNDER PRESSURE by the brilliant Kathleen O'Reilly who is rapidly turning into one of my favorite writers EVAH!

Like Sarah's writing, Kathleen's books have that same quality of vivid life and deep emotion. Ashley Taylor and David McLean are both three-dimensional people who leap off the page and into your heart. You SOOOO want things to work out for these two. And the things threatening their future are real too - which doesn't lessen the dramatic emotional intensity one whit. They have families and careers to deal with and bruised hearts from previous relationships.

The story starts when plane-phobic Ashley from Chicago sits next to David from New York in crowded cattle class (see what I mean about real life?). When the plane is delayed overnight, both surrender to the desire crackling between them and take a hotel room. But where do they go after that one perfect, smokin' hot night?

Believe me, you want to find out!

So that's the pick of my recent reading. What have you read lately that's made you stay up way too late just so you can find out what happens?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Book Covers - Opal Carew

I think every author loves receiving their newest book cover. I look forward to that moment with great anticipation. After all, this is the face of your book… it’s what readers will see when they go to the bookstore or shop on-line. It’s the first impression!

I’ve been blessed with great book covers at St. Martin’s Press. My editor, Rose Hilliard, is a wonderful lady who goes to great effort to watch the market, see what covers are hot, and ensure that my books have fabulous covers… along with the art department and the powers-that-be who give insight and final approval.

I’m a strong believer in leaving the decisions to those who know best and, as far as the marketing of a book is concerned, that’s not me! I do appreciate the fact that Rose always asks my opinion before the cover is designed, and afterward when we see the final results. She wants me to be happy with the covers and that makes an already great relationship even better.

Anyway, why am I talking about book covers? I think it’s because I’m so in love with the really hot covers for my next two books. I’ve recently switched from writing two books a year to writing three book a year and in August I had the interesting experience of receiving the cover for BLISS, my spring 2010 release, before I handed the book in. Partly, that’s because I had some unforeseen delays and had to hand the book in a month later than anticipated. Rose asked me for an updated outline before they started on the cover so they could design something appropriate, and wow, did they ever succeed! Whew, make sure you have a fan because you’ll need it when viewing this cover!

The cover for FORBIDDEN HEAT, my January 2010 release is sizzling, too!

Take a look at both covers!

I don’t have blurbs for either book yet, so please watch my website for updates (, or sign up for my newsletter. You’ll automatically be entered in a draw for a gorgeous necklace. (It’s a tiny, sexy high-heel shoe on a silver chain. So cute!)

Okay, so here’s where I ask your opinion. I’d love to know what you like in a book cover. Please post here to let us know your favourite book cover(s) or what you like to see on a book cover, especially for erotic romance.

I’d like to thank Lee for inviting me to blog. I’d also like to thank all of you by doing a draw for a copy of my latest release SECRET TIES.

To enter the draw, just send me an email at and mark the subject as AuthorSoundRelations Draw. If you post a comment about your favourite book cover here, then I’ll add an extra entry in the draw for you. Just let me know in your email that you posted a comment and provide your blog name. I’ll accept entries until September 30th, then I’ll do the draw shortly thereafter.

Thanks all!
Opal Carew

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Perspective by Megan Crane

Perspective is a funny thing.

I just went on vacation to the desert, which, to many people, doesn't sound like a vacation at all. And it really was hot and dusty and HOT and all the things deserts can be--but it was also a little bit magical and incredibly relaxing. It made me think about the way everyone sees everything differently, depending on where they're looking from.

Books are a lot like this.

I have friends who won't read historical romance novels because they don't like it when something is anachronistic, and they are on the hunt for that anachronistic something from page one, and it ruins their enjoyment of the novel. I have friends who won't read category romances because they think they are too formulaic and noticing the formula makes them so angry they can't enjoy the novel. I have friends who don't like author A because she head-hops, and it doesn't matter if she does it well, they hate head-hopping. I have friends who won't read anything violent or suspenseful because they think that has no place in a romance. I have friends who won't read Inspirational because they think faith has no place in a romance. We all have so many reasons why we won't read this or we won't read that, and usually this is based on a set criteria that might or might not have anything to do with the book in our hands.

The anachronistic historical could have the hottest, sweetest romance of the year. The formulaic category might use that very formula to tell the most powerful story imaginable. All the things we tell ourselves we hate in a book can, in the hands of a skillful author, make us fall deeply in love with a book we would have sworn we'd hate.

I had this happen to me with JR Ward. I was over vampires. And I was definitely not interested in all those silly names.

Cut to me, hundreds and hundreds of pages later, completely addicted.

What about you? What book did you swear you'd never read for this or that reason, only to accidentally find yourself up until the wee hours, frantically flipping pages?

What book do you think we all should give a chance, even though it hits some hot buttons?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Long Distance!

I’m not going to talk about new releases or writing or publishing or any of that stuff today! I’m going to talk about Vonage! Well, not Vonage, as in advertising for them or anything, but the fact that I now have unlimited calling to 60 countries outside the US. And why is this significant, you ask! (Well, you probably don’t ask, but I’m going to tell you anyway). My husband and I have relatives in England and Norway. In fact, all my relatives are over there. My parents emigrated (or is that immigrated?) from England in the early fifties and my DH’s parents came over in the late fifties. All the aunts, uncles, cousins are all in the “old country.” When I was young, it was hellaciously expensive to call abroad. That was done only for special occasions. And in the back of my mind, it’s continued to feel that way (plus there was that one $700 bill we had for calling Norway which I’ve never truly gotten over; they charged us as if we were making a naughty 900 call!). I know most of my aunts very well because they visit at least every other year, or rather they used to, but as they get older, well, the traveling gets more and more difficult. But now, I can call them for free! I realize they aren’t going to be here forever, that one day I’ll turn around and they’ll be gone. Then I’ll wish I had taken the time to keep in touch. It’s the same with going down to visit my mom every other week. We have a great time, I love the evenings I spend with her, and one day I won’t be able to do that anymore. So I'm going to do it now while I can!

So, that’s my commitment to myself, to check in with my relatives once a month, see how they’re doing, and let them know they are loved. Anyone else have a commitment they want to make to themselves, something you’d like to share?

For those of you who want to leave a comment (please leave your email address so I can contact you), I’ll put you in for a drawing of an autographed copy of The Fortune Hunter (which just sold to a Japanese publisher, whoohoo!). I’ll also add you to my newsletter for updates on new releases Yours for the Night, Hers for the Evening, Laced with Desire.

Please be sure to stop by my new website

Jasmine, Jennifer and JB!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Magazine Tips -- Susanna Carr

In The Year of Living Shamelessly, my October 2009 release, the heroine transforms herself by following all the advice she can get from women’s magazines. She studies the articles as if she was going to be tested and then puts them to good use. She follows these magazines because she feels like she needs expert advice when she reinvents herself into a bold and sexy woman. Sometimes the advice backfires, sometimes the fashion tips aren’t what she hopes for, but every once in a while the magazines inspire her to act like the woman she wants to become.

If you had to follow every tip in one magazine, which publication would you choose?

As for me, I know that I wouldn’t pick the Martha Stewart magazine. Art class was a form of torture for me, so forget that. House Beautiful would be nice—if I had unlimited funds. I think I would go for something like Cosmopolitan which has articles like “30 Things to do with a Naked Man”. Now that I could do.

So what about you? If you had to follow every tip in one magazine, which magazine would it be?

Susanna Carr

Happy New (School) Year! from Kate Walker

At this time of year I get a sort of ‘New Year’ feeling, with a sense of being ready to sort things out, reorganise and plan the next stage of the year. I suppose it comes from all those years of being at school, then university – and then having my son and my husband (as a teacher) starting new academic years at the beginning of September. I love the idea of new terms with all the new notebooks, pens and pencils that go along with them.

Of course these days I’m far more likely to be using a new file on the computer but I still love those new notebooks and pens to scribble down my ideas and an ‘academic year’ diary works wonderfully to help me plan out all the plans and commitments I have for the next twelve months coming up.

So it seems appropriate that I’m working on a brand new book at this time of year. A new story with a fabulous Greek hero – a man who’s scarred in more ways than one. This is a book that I was specially asked to write by my editor with plans for it fitting in to a special mini series that’s coming out next year. I’ll be able to tell you more about that when it is finalised and ready to come out but for now I’m really enjoying working on this and meeting the challenge of the special series it’s in.

And I've been reorganising and updating my web site ready for the upcoming months. I've slightly scared myself when I realised just how many workshops/talks/courses and other events I have ahead of me - and this week I just had two more enquiries. So I'm obviously going to be very busy. (If you're in the UK and able to come to any of these, they're listed on my Events page.)

And in the 'new' spirit, I also have a couple of new books coming up. Well, one of them isn't exactly 'new' - more a new edition. But I wanted to let my American readers know that there is some great news about my How To Write book, the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. This has just come out in a USA edition to make it easier for you to get hold of it. And at first the published wanted to bring it out at the price that Amazon had been charging for it - $27.50. But that was the cost of the import edition and it didn't seem right to have to pay that much for an American edition that is much more easily available. So I discussed it with them and managed to arrange for the price to be brought down to $19.99. If you're interested in this new edition, the details are on my web site too.

And then I have a brand-new novel coming out. Kept For Her Baby is out in Presents EXTRA in October. It's already out in the UK in Mills & Boon Modern and on sale on eHarlequin (in the ebook edition and in print). And it's always a thrill to have a brand-new copy in my hands for the first time. I love walking into a bookshop and seeing my title on the shelves - specially when this book has such a fabulous cover.

And now I'm trying to get the next book finished and off to my editor, while preparing for the next workshop, the next talk. I've even (I'd better whisper this!) started planning and even buying a couple of things for Christmas! My excuse is that I have friends and family in many corners of the world and I have to be ready to post thinngs off to them well in advance - and it is only three months away!

You see, that's what this 'New Term, New Year' feeling does - it makes you start looking ahead and planning.

So what about you? Do you wait till New Year to start making resolutions and plans? Or like me do you decide you can do this at any time of the year - and the start of the new school year just seems to fit?

And what are your very best 'getting organised' tips to help me?

I have a signed copy of my brand new book Kept For Her Baby to give away to someone who comes up with the best and most inspiring idea.
I finally got organised enough to find Sid the Cat and get him to pick a winner from the comments - and the winner he picked is MARY.
So Mary please email me here and I'll organise sending your signed copy of Kept For Her Baby to you.

Thank you to everyone who commented there are some really great ideas there!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Where Did Summer Go?

I live in Texas, so it’s still 103 degrees here most days, so I find it absolutely lamentable that I have to ask, where did summer go? I swear, it was just yesterday that my oldest two sons ran into the house screaming excitedly about school being out. Just a few short weeks ago when I myself rejoiced that my classes were done and that I would not be teaching for three long months.
Now suddenly, all that’s changed and I’m not sure what happened. I remember June—filled with trips to the swimming pool, the guy, a few forays to the lake and park before temperatures went from blistering to hot.
I have a vague recollection of July—shopping for RWA, enjoying a visit from my mom, going to D.C. for RWA and then flying to Egypt for vacations.
August, however, does not exist. I don’t remember August 1st dawning and I barely remember it ending. Admittedly, I spent the first three weeks of the month in Egypt climbing pyramids and swimming in Cleopatra’s bath, so much of the month is a blur. And what I do remember involves playing catch up as I tried to ready the boys—and myself— for school in four days.
So now I’m teaching three college classes, getting up at 5 a.m. to make sure my 7th grader gets to football practice by 6, working until 2 a.m. on a book I have due in ten days and basically trying to juggle everything two parents do for three kids and a house by myself as my husband has been in New Jersey, L.A., Dallas, Paris and San Francisco since we got back from Egypt—basically every place but here.

So as I sit here, half asleep and desperately craving a cup of coffee, I have to ask once more: Where did summer go? Did your summer fly by, as mine did, or are you more than ready for fall? And please excuse the whining—like Genevieve, the main character of my new release, Tie Me Down, I’ve got the it’s-too-hot-to-not-be-summer blues!

Oh, and one more thing—I’ve included an excerpt of Tie Me Down here, as part of my Tie Me Down Contest Extravaganza. So head on over to my blog, to get the scoop on the contest. There are daily prizes and the Grand Prize (given away next Tuesday) is a $100 gift card to the winner’s choice of bookstore.

Excerpt #4: Please be aware this excerpt is meant for those over 18.

“You don’t want to screw with me on this, Genevieve. Why’d you sneak out like that, without even telling me where to find you?” Cole’s voice was lower now, more animal than human as he took advantage of her predicament, closing in until she was utterly surrounded. The wall at her back, his hard, unyielding body hovering only inches from her front. His powerful biceps caging her in from the sides.

His black-magic eyes demanding that she tell him what he wanted to know.
The wind picked up, made her shudder as it whipped around them, as wild and fierce as the attraction she couldn’t fight. It lashed the rain against her, against him, as it streamed down their bodies.

He pulled back, looked at her with wicked eyes that proclaimed just how much he wanted her—and just how far he would go to have her—and she became aware, for the first time, of how she must look to him. Her clothes were stuck to her and practically transparent, her nipples showing clearly through the thin lace of her bra, the even thinner cotton of her T-shirt.
Maybe she should have been frightened, with the storm raging around her and Cole burning beside her. But ten years on a male-dominated force had ensured she was not easily cowed.
Resolving to give as good as she got, Genevieve pressed her head back against the wall and glared at him with eyes she knew reflected her own fury, as the storm raged around them.
“Answer my question and I’ll answer yours.”
“Fuck that.” He grabbed her wrists with one hand, his long fingers spanning both with ease. Yanked her arms above her head. Moved the last few inches until his body was pressed against hers from chest to thigh.

His breath was coming in short, hot pants against her ear, his heart racing crazily against her breasts. And his erection, his infinitely arousing, unbelievably sexy erection, rested hot and heavy against her stomach. The rain made the barrier of their clothes nearly nonexistent, and she felt his heat against the very heart of her.

Shock raced through her as her brain demanded that she refuse to yield. But her body was firmly in control, the pleasure it took from Cole’s unprecedented dominance more than she could fight.

She loved every second of it. Loved the vulnerability of being spread for him. Loved the little frissons of fear working their way down her spine. Loved the idea of being helpless in the face of all this bristling male aggression.

She should have felt vulnerable, but she knew she was safe—she’d trained for years to handle herself against men twice her size. She should have felt uncomfortable, but everything about Cole felt right despite his obvious interest in her case. She should have felt anything—everything—but this overwhelming need to give him whatever he wanted to take. And to take even more for herself.

His grip was firm as he stretched her wrists higher, forcing her to arch her back to relieve the pressure. But as they skimmed down her throat his lips were more gentle than she would have dreamed possible.

“Tell me why,” he whispered, running his tongue over her collarbone.
“You already—” Her voice broke and she had to start again. “You already knew where to find me.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I found your file.” She pushed against him with all the strength she could muster, but he just snarled and pushed back.

“You should have stuck around—I would have explained everything. It would have saved me the trouble of hauling you back.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
His chuckle was low, wicked. “You don’t have a clue what I’ll dare.”