Saturday, September 29, 2012

Year in the Life of an Author - September

I've always thought of September more like New Years than the waning days of the year. So many beginnings seem to happen this time of year.

For me it was beginning a new book. Having turned in my March book, And the Miss Ran Away with the Rake, it was time to get together the proposal and start writing my next book.

I just love starting a new book.

Of course, there are so many decisions to be made--and not the obvious ones you might think. I have to come up with a playlist--the songs I want to use while writing. These become like my own personal inspiration each day. When those first notes come out of my computer, my mind turns immediately to the story at hand. So the songs need to fit the mood of the story.

My favorite kind of notebooks, the Circa Notebook from Levenger
Then I need to build my working notebook for the story. If I am continuing in a series, I pull from previous notebooks the needed parts that I might need to reference: family trees, character notes, story notes that I've been compiling while writing previous books, outlines and pictures. This becomes my right-hand help as I write, my portable version of the book when I have to run the kids around.

And I usually make a Staples run to get new office supplies. Uni-ball pens, good pencils, pads of paper, and whatever notecard or organizing thingy-ma-bob that catches my eye as "necessary" for writing the new book.

Like I said, none of it is what you think--more like getting all the ducks in a row to dig in and do the work.

Because I'll tell you a secret: When I start writing a book, I don't pluck the story from thin air.

I've been mulling that book, writing it if you will, for at least two years before I ever sit down in front of the keyboard. The characters, their story, the challenges before them, the crux of the story is all there, waiting to pour out on the pages. That story has been mulling around on the backburner, simmering for months.

So over the past month, what I've been doing, besides clearing the decks, is also getting that all down. Writing the backstory, writing character notes, scene notes, outlining, and information dumping all that has been stewing.

And now comes the fun part: the story telling.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Scarlet Wilson: Are you a Medical Romance Virgin?

Did I capture your attention?  Well, I was trying to.

What kind of series books do you normally read?  Presents, with its high glamour settings and alpha heroes? Romance with its variety of settings and deep emotional stories?  Suspense or Intrigue stories where romance mixes with danger? Paranormal with its supernatural stories, or Historicals with their range from Vikings, to Romans, to Regencies?

Have you ever tried a Medical Romance?

Maybe now is the time to try!

Medical Romances can vary in settings from city hospitals, to rural outposts.  The characters vary too – sexy surgeons, dashing doctors (both male and female!), no-nonsense nurses and a whole range of other professionals.  It isn’t unknown for firemen, ambulance crew – both road and air, police and even vets to make an appearance.

The other variety in medicals is the HOT factor.  Some medicals are along the romance range, with the bedroom door closed.  Others have sexy scenes where the characters dictate it.  And others are in the steaming hot range!!

The variety in medicals is fantastic, as is my range of fellow medical authors – many of whom also write for other lines.  Two of our medical authors won the illustrious RITA award this year – Fiona Lowe and Sarah Morgan.

So, if you haven’t already, come and try of a medical romance.  You can buy them in the shops and online in the UK, and in the US, they might not be on the shelves but can be ordered from Harlequin, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Leave a comment for a chance to win my latest, a 2 in 1 with Anne Fraser.  I’ll come back in a few days and announce the winner in the comments.  Good luck!

A Bond Between Strangers
The mistake that changed their lives… 
Yesterday John Carter and Lily Grayson were strangers. Now, following an IVF mix-up, their genes are bound together for ever—only someone else is carrying their child! John's only thought is to get his baby back...until he realises that Lily is the person he truly needs to complete his life…
The Most Precious Bundle of All
Tears, triumphs and a tiny miracle

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Karen White: Gone With The Deadline

I’m on deadline.  Besides meaning that I’ve got about 200 more pages to write in a little over a month, it also means that I haven’t showered since yesterday, I’m dressing like a homeless woman, and if I don’t wash my hair soon my dog will start complaining.  Welcome to the glamorous life of an author.

 How did this happen?  Well, I was on book tour this summer for 7 weeks in addition to having a son graduate from high school, start college, and getting my daughter ready to head to Scotland for the first semester of her Junior year.  I also finished a book in January (SEA CHANGE—which came out in June), reworked another book (AFTER THE RAIN—December 2012), wrote three chapters and a synopsis for the final book in my Charleston mystery series (RETURN TO TRADD STREET—January 2014), AND had to come up with a brand spanking new story idea and write the whole book by November 1st.  This book will be my first hardcover—THE TIME BETWEEN—and will be out in June 2013.  I’m ecstatic that readers are clamoring for my books and reading them and telling me how much they’re enjoying them.  It really is a dream come true.  I’m also very, very tired.

My daily routine consists of wake up, feed dog, caffeinate self, then write at least three pages before I allow myself to eat.  Then I spend about an hour answering email and dealing with the business side of my writing career.  Then I write a few more pages before I get to eat lunch.  Then I take dog for walk (hoping I won’t run into any neighbors because I’m still wearing the homeless person outfit I threw on—or slept in—when I heaved myself out of bed) take 20 minute nap and write more pages before husband comes home for work.

We’ve been married 25 years so he’s learned diplomacy.  He knows better than to say, “Hey, Karen, weren’t you wearing that same thing last night when you went to bed?” or “Do you think you might shower today?  The dog’s starting to complain.”  And he especially knows not to ask, “Aren’t you done yet?”  Instead, he just quickly walks past me with a brief greeting, not wanting to see my head start spinning in a 360.  Kinda like in The Exorcist.  Thank goodness my kids are away at school---because that would mean two more people who have to tiptoe around me in my Deadline Dementia state.  My husband says he’s going to enroll in college in time for the next deadline so he can live elsewhere for a while, too.

After a dinner that my husband has graciously prepared (and after my evening workout—either Pilates of Zumba), I write a few more pages before heading back to my computer for more business-related emails, blogging, Facebook, etc.  I normally collapse into bed around 11:30 at night, nearly comatose, but need a fix of Jay Leno before I can go to sleep.  It’s the only time during the day where I’m not compelled to do anything for anybody, and nobody expects me to email or call them at that hour, either.  I sleep like a dead person and am up with the sun the next morning to do it all over again.

I am very, very fried.  I hope I can survive to celebrate the completion and publication of this book—and not from the inside of an asylum.

In October, I’m going to the beach for the entire month.  I don’t expect it will be relaxing seeing as how my book is due November 1st.  I imagine my routine will be similar to the one I have here at home, but I’m hoping that the change in scenery will give me the necessary mental boost I need to power through until I reach the end.

I’ve got to end this blog now.  I’ve got at least two more pages to write before I can go to sleep.  I love to write, I really do, but deadlines are different. Staring at my laptop each morning is a bit like staring at the freezing cold water of a pool. You know it's going to hurt when you dive in, and be horribly uncomfortable for a long stretch, but after a while you'll warm up and remember why you like to swim.
Giveaway: Karen White is giving away two copies of FALLING HOME (the prequel to AFTER THE RAIN) to two lucky commenters!

***Karen's winners are Louise and Jackie!  Please email with your mailing details.  Thanks!***

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Karen Whiddon: Books on the Keeper Shelf

As a writer, I often ponder the books I've kept over the years.  Of course, now that I have a Kindle, I can keep a ton of e-books, but these are paperbacks and hard covers, taking up space on my bookshelves.

I keep them organized by author. Just glancing at them as I write this, I know what makes a story something I want to read over and over again.  It's not just an author's ability to spin a good tale; it's not just awesome description, or world building.  Yes, all of those things factor in, but for me it's all about emotion.

I read and re-read books where I care about the characters.  Bottom line.  For beginning writers, sometimes I think that's the hardest thing for them to learn.  No matter the genre - historical or suspense, paranormal or western - it's the people who matter. 

 I love reading a book where I'm cheering for the character.  I adore an author who can make my heart ache as I read about the hero and heroine's love story, or problems.  This, more than anything else, makes me keep a book rather than giving it away or trading it in at the used book store.  And I know there are certain authors who will deliver this consistently with every story.

Some examples of my auto-buy authors:  Kristin Hannah, Kristin Higgins, Barbara Samuel, and Lisa Kleypas.

What about you?  What element of a story makes you want to keep the book and re-read it?  Who are your auto-buy authors?  Don't be shy.  I might find a new author this way! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Katie Reus: Primal Possession

Thank you so much to Lee for having me here today!

People often ask me questions about my writing process including how I come up with character names or I how I keep everything straight in a series. Coming up with character names is one of my favorite things to do in the writing process. I have a couple baby books I’ll browse and there are three or four baby naming websites I like to check out for inspiration. Usually I know my character’s heritage so if they’re Irish, Greek, Native American, Jamaican, etc. it’s much easier to narrow down names and their meanings as there are also genealogy sites I can utilize.

In my Moon Shifter series the Cordona females in the pack are all originally from Spain. Most were actually born there, but some of them were born in the States. So when picking names I took into account their heritage, which is very important to their pack. It was a lot of fun naming so many people and after a while I realized I needed to create something to keep track of things. So, I created my ‘character keeper’. It helps me stay organized and keep track of who’s mated/married to whom, names of parents, siblings, children, and what the individual looks like in human and wolf form, etc. Right now I’m working on the fourth book in the series and I’m afraid I would have gone mad a long time ago without my ‘bible’ to keep me on track.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little about what goes on during my writing process! Do you know what the meaning of your name is? If so please share and be entered to win a print copy of Primal Possession (US only), the second book in my Moon Shifter series. If you’d just like to leave a comment, that works too, you’ll still be entered. The contest will remain open until Thursday, August 27th at midnight Central.

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

To protect her, he will unleash the beast within…

As his pack’s second-in-command, lupine shifter Liam Armstrong gives orders and takes what he wants—until he meets red-headed, blue-eyed December McIntyre. Liam knows the human beauty is his intended mate the moment he sees her, but December is far too strong-willed to accept his protection.

December, whose brother is the town sheriff, has every reason to mistrust shifters after one killed her youngest sibling. But the forceful and handsome Liam has gotten under her skin in a way she hadn’t thought possible, and the desire she feels for him is almost too much to bear.

When a radical hate group targets all humans known to sympathize with paranormal beings, December is attacked in her bookstore. Reluctantly, she turns to the only one who can help her: Liam. And he is going to take her to places within herself she never knew existed.

A little about Katie: I’ve been reading romance since a young age—ever since I discovered my mom’s hidden stash. Luckily the addiction stayed with me into adulthood. I write paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense for Carina Press, Harlequin Nocturne, and NAL/Signet Eclipse. To learn more about me please visit my website, my blog, facebook or find me on twitter @katiereus.

***Katie's winner is BarbaraE!  Please email with your mailing info!***

Monday, September 24, 2012

Jamie Quaid Has Arrived

Haven’t you always wanted to be announced like that? Walk into a party or a tavern and have someone happily shout your name as if the party couldn’t start until you were there? I haven’t. I’m an introvert who prefers to slip into the shadows.
But now I’m in the awkward position of having to shout out for myself. Hey, folks, I know you don’t know Jamie Quaid, but you know me!  I’ve been writing as Patricia Rice for decades. I’ve probably met you at conferences and booksignings. But today, I’m someone new.

It’s pretty weird, but I did it to myself. I wanted a name less common than my own to see if I could build recognition in this digital age. I deliberately chose a gender neutral name for my urban fantasy persona because my Saturn’s Daughters series isn’t romance, and I don’t want anyone to expect it. But I’m also writing with the same wry humor and quirky characters (far quirkier than romance allows!) my romance readers expect of me.

Which is why I’m shouting, It’s me, it’s really me!  But it’s me with an edge. In urban fantasy, I can kill people without blood, if I like. I can create characters who suffer more than bad hair days. I can let my cynicism loose and take cracks at government and corporations and boyfriends. Oh yeah, boyfriends—there are a few of those around for my protagonist to ponder. Of course, she inadvertently sends one to hell, so they’re kind of wary of her right now. But in BOYFRIEND FROM HELL, Justine Clancy is just learning what it means to wield justice as Saturn’s Daughter. Give her time. She’ll learn to go after the real bad guys, if she can avoid serial killer shape-shifting chimps. And society matrons from hell. And somewhere in there, she still has to earn her law degree.

If you’ve enjoyed my romances and want to explore my new home, I’d love you to take a look at what I’m doing now:

My evil new persona even has a website and blog:
My Facebook and Twitter connections are on the bottom of the website front page, so if you like what you see, let me know!

And if the next time you see me and you yell Jamie Quaid has arrived, I’ll try to remember who I am and not duck out the door!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Helene Young: Color of the land

Every landscape has its own color palette. Where I live in North Queensland – that’s the top right hand corner of Australia with the pointy bit called Cape York  – the colors are vibrant and deep. As an airline pilot I have a unique perspective from my tiny office with a spectacular view looking down on those colors. Being able to share my world with readers is very special and something I love to do.

The Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, guards our coastline with its white atolls and azure sea.  In Burning Lies one of my characters describes the reef as ‘a rope of freshwater pearls resting on French navy satin.’  I constantly marvel that Captain Cook ever successfully navigated a sailing ship through the reef to discover the great southern continent that became Australia! No satellite navigation in 1770 to help him out J

The dark green of the ancient Daintree Rainforest slides down the flanks of the imposing Great Dividing Range, the mountains that separate the fertile coastal plains from the drier cattle country of the west.  The roads are unsealed red dirt, with deep stretches of shifting bull dust ready to trap unwary drivers. The grasses grow golden in the summer and turn silver with the cold in June. That heralds the start of fire season when the earth becomes charred and black.
On the Tablelands the eucalypts forests turn the silvery undersides of their leaves to the hot sun to help retain water. Looking down on them the forests seem to glisten in the midday heat, a shimmering khaki.

I never grow tired of those colours and love watching the seasons change – although we really only have a wet and dry season in northern Australia. What are the colors of your landscape? Do you recognize them instantly in a photograph? Do they change with the seasons? What are your favourites?

I’d love to hear about your part of the world. Join in the discussion to win a copy of my new release, BURNING LIES. 


“Lies, all lies. It didn't matter how attractive he might be. She didn't really know this man . . . He was living a lie and she didn't know why.

Kaitlyn Scott is searching for the truth about her husband's death, even if that means revisiting the most painful day of her life. But what she uncovers is a criminal willing to stop at nothing to keep his secret.

Ryan O'Donnell, an enigmatic undercover cop, is investigating arson attacks when he is drawn into Kaitlyn's world. He tries to fight his attraction for her, hoping the case might put his own demons to rest, but it only threatens to push him over the edge.

With Kaitlyn and Ryan on a collision course, the arsonist seizes the chance to settle some old scores. As the Atherton Tableland burns, the three of them are caught in a fiery dance of danger and desire, and not everyone will come out alive.

Set in Australia's tropical far north, this is an explosive story of peril and passion by the author voted by the Romance Writers of Australia as the most popular novelist of the year, and by the Australian Romance Readers Association as the most popular romantic suspense novelist two years running.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Michele Sinclair: What I want my books to be

Mostly I write what I would like to read.  So generally it is not complex, it is not gruesome, and it is not strife with a page or two of happiness at the end.  (Oh how I hate it when I watch a movie or read a book and I get only two minutes or two pages of the characters finally being together and happy).   Generally, my books are written in two parts—getting together and then staying together.  I enjoy seeing the evolution of two souls and giving the reader a good juicy picture of how their life turns out.  This way we get to explore how the feisty personalities will work!  My characters tend to be strong, intelligent and independent with a dash of stubborn.  In my series, characters from previous books play a significant secondary role in the plot.  This way the reader can see how their life turns out. 

Critics often claim that I write historicals with modern dialogue.  It’s true!  It’s on purpose! I like my books to be funny and for my characters to interact in an easy to read fashion.  But mostly, I want them relatable.  Usually there is a meaningful theme that although set in the past is relevant to us women today.  In my different series, I have explored faith, how one sees themselves vs how other sees them, pride, how the past can affect daily activities of today, etc. 

I try to balance between that need and desire to have perfection in our characters with reality.  Aye, the women are beautiful, but not necessarily follow traditional beauty definitions.  Sometimes it is their inner strength and determination what makes them so desirable.  Some have bad burns, missing eyes, stuttering, etc. but in my mind, they are truly all gems. 

I once heard Will Smith on an interview talk about the game golf.  He said it was the one game in which you can experience every known emotion to man in a single round.  Sheer joy, frustration, anger, jealousy, sad, contentment, arrogance, etc.  Maybe I try to aim for the same thing in my books.

I am curious to know from my readers what really bothers them in a book and what really makes them fall in love with a book.  For example, I hate short happy endings and love follow on stories where I get to hear more about my favorite people from past stories.  Share your thoughts here.  I'll pick two winners.  One will receive a book from my Highlander series and the second winner will receive a book from my A Woman Made For... series!

***Michele's winners are June M. and Stephanie!  Please drop an email to with your mailing info!***

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes by Jenny Gardiner

I've been thinking a lot about transitions lately, mostly because my own life has been riddled with transitions, the biggest being my recently becoming an empty-nester. Now, I long dreaded this particular transition; I had no idea how I could morph from living a life that has been all about my kids to releasing control for the most part and letting them take over the reins and having no one for whom to be accountable on a daily basis. But it's a part of life and we all have to go through it, like it or not. I've tried to tell myself this will result in plenty of freedom in my life, though I guess with that comes the potential to simply become unmoored, adrift while you try to figure out how to redefine your life.

Perhaps it was a little more dramatic how this unfolded, because not only did we send our youngest off to college a few weeks ago, but a week before that we sent our middle one off to study abroad in Europe, and then just last week bade farewell to my oldest (who graduated from college in May), who left for a year-long adventure in which he'll be off-the-grid, incommunicado, in remote stretches of the world. So not only are my kids gone, but two of them are essentially unreachable, and sadly I can't just pick up the phone and call, or text or email just to touch base with them. I've sort of gone from immersion in my kids' lives to extrication, in one fell swoop.

As an avowed extrovert, I have been wholly unprepared for this screeching halt to my world of a perpetual buzz of activity. As a mom first, writer second, I learned long ago to pick up and go with my laptop and write when I could, be it soccer practice or pick-up line at school or roadtrips to soccer matches in different cities. At home I worked at my desk in the middle of all the activity, with homework and friends of the kids dropping by and the television blaring. I became used to operating in "putting out fires" mode, jumping from one urgent, pressing situation with the kids to another, squeezing my writing in when I could. On top of that, I never quite realized how much of my social life centered around being at school-related functions, where you're around parents of kids your kids' ages. When all of a sudden you don't have that outlet, you realize you have no one with whom to hang. My close friends either have school-aged kids so are still very involved with their kids at home, or have already departed for the post-empty nest world and aren't even around. Or else they're now stuck in jobs and are completely unavailable. I'm thinking I might soon have to chat up the mailman just to have companionship by day. I was thrilled to have had all the kids (and their respective girlfriends/boyfriends) around much of the summer, so this meant we had much going on, with little free time for writing. Truth be told my life hasn't allowed for much writing at all since last winter, what with my youngest child's travel sports schedule and trekking all over the east coast while deciding colleges for her, and in between that road-tripping to my other kids' schools for various awards and events.

So all of a sudden this week I was faced with the deafening silence of being virtually alone. Now, I'm not completely alone because I have this menagerie of demanding pets (two dogs, a parrot, a bunny and a cat). So it's not silent like a normal person's house, but rather silent with a lot of barking, squawking, and still a huge mess even though no one is leaving a trail of dirty dishes and laundry about the place. Instead it's mounds of feather, fur and animal poo, thanks. To top it off my husband went out of town. And I was left to be alone with myself. And I hated it. It's sad because I vividly recall times when my children were young when I probably would have paid to be alone at a Greyhound bus station for a few hours, I craved solitude so much. But now that I've found solitude, I don't particularly like it, and I am anxious to be around people. Which doesn't happen as easily when your office is the desk in your kitchen and the only ones around with whom to converse have fur or feathers. I fear I'll turn into a cat lady.The unfortunate hallmark of my weekend alone were bouts with unbidden eruptions of tears and a half-hearted pity party thrown in for good measure. I guess it's a good thing I didn't resort to watching home videos of my children as babies. I blubbered enough without that, thanks.
As if this week during which loneliness seemed to be defining my life wasn't bad enough, with my husband away I decided to have the dogs sleep with me in the bedroom. Nothing worse than being home alone with a dog barking in the middle of the night downstairs to unnerve you. So I figured I'd keep them nearby to avoid that. So instead, at 3 a.m. Saturday night, I was awoken abruptly by the unmistakable sound of a dog throwing up. I hastened the dog into the bathroom to keep the mess at bay, but she followed me back to the room only for me to realize she was about to have a seizure. Knowing what that would entail, I scooped up my nearly 80-pound dog and lugged her, completely deadweight but for the onset of her seizure starting to overtake her, and laid her on the bathroom floor, trying to settle her in as best I could. Carrying her resulted in my being accidentally scraped up by her claws, and yeah, covered in dog wee wee, which I'd been trying to avoid by sticking her in the bathroom in the first place. Just as her seizure finally ended, I heard my other dog start to throw up. Seriously. So while I have tried to tell myself "Hey, the upside of the empty nest is no kids to wake me in the middle of the night!", the reality is I have animals who somehow can't help but do so. I was up cleaning the dogs and their mess till after 5 a.m. and couldn't fall asleep till 7 a.m. Yep, my first week as an empty-nester left me too tired to even do the one thing I now have all sorts of time to do: write.

I'm hoping week two of my transition will result in a much more productive week. The stress of the past month of preparing my kids for their various departures left me in a state of inertia, just sort of treading water as I clear my head and try to get a grip on my new life.

I know at some point I will relish this newfound "freedom" (bound though I am with these crazy pets, one of whom is a talking parrot who has repeated "Goodnight, I love you" ten times in the past fifteen minutes). I'll be happy to be able to settle down and focus on my writing again, once I actually learn how to focus with no distractions (wish me luck). In the meantime, I guess I just have to ride this wave, see where it takes me, expect to feel sad and at odds with myself and allow myself to be unmoored, adrift in a new world I don't quite know how to navigate. This happens when life is in transition.

  Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

Slim to None

Anywhere But Here

Where the Heart Is

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

Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)

Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)

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

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

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

Naked Man On Main Street
find me on Facebook: fan page
 find me on twitter here
 find me on my website

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cathy and Joanne’s Pets Tell All!

Critique partners Catherine Mann and Joanne Rock team up for a blog tour this month to celebrate their September releases, both featuring military heroes! Today, we thought we’d take a totally different approach to blogging.

Want to know the real truth about what happens in a writer’s life? Facebook doesn’t scratch the service. If you want a unique peek into the world of the working writer, you can hear all the details from the inside observers with a front row seat. Er, pet bed. For the first time, writer pets reveal all…

From the Files of Duchess, Norwegian Forest Cat Extraordinaire - Writing? Do not let Joanne Rock fool you. I often lounge at the side of this so-called author while she taps on her computer keys, and I can tell you that more often than not, this time is spent smiling vapidly at other cat pictures on Facebook. Today she “Likes” a dopey kitten clinging to life by a tree branch who announces “I can’t hang in there ‘til Friday,” while yesterday she “Liked” a similarly inane photo of a scrawny fluffball climbing a pillow like it’s Everest with a caption of “Don’t Stop Until You Get to the Top.”

When Joanne is done liking things on the computer for the day, she also seems to like the coffeepot. Numerous trips to this device ensue, occasionally disturbing me from a nap to do so. I deliver a variety of incensed meows and indignant looks, but I have had little success curbing this disruptive behavior pattern.

Some actual writing may take place between noon and three p.m. Relaxing music is played during this time and the house –often full of stomping, rough-housing males- is blissfully quiet. Therefore, I have a hard time keeping my eyes open to monitor events. There is an occasional tapping of keys, but I notice there is some occasional nodding off for her, as well. I have awoken more than once from my own slumbers to see Joanne’s eyes closed, head slumped to one side. When phone calls from other humans occur at this time, Joanne explains that she’s “thinking” about her story. It is a cover story I know well. When I am caught napping and wish to hide it, I lick my paw as if I’ve been busy cleaning all day.


My name is Sadie and I live with Cathy Mann and her family – or rather, they live with me because I am the center of the universe!  I look like a Boston terrier/beagle/pug mutt, but don’t let the snaggle tooth grin fool you.  I am truly the smartest of the canines in the Mann house.  (Technically, the cat is smarter, but he says he’s too good to be put to work writing a blog or anything for that matter.) Therefore, I’ve elected myself to share the story of Cathy’s workday as a writer.

The other dogs here – and there are many – have been tricked into going into the backyard.  See, I’m faster, muuuuuuch faster, so when the back door opens, we all charge out but I sprint back in, slipping past just as the door closes.
Victory.  I have Cathy all to myself.  For a while anyway.

Cathy’s a writer who also fosters puppies for the Humane Society, so her day goes something like this:

Wake up.  Let dogs outside (I pee fast so I can sprint back inside to watch her clean the puppy crate – silly puppies!)

All come inside to eat – I claim a sofa for a nap.  Silly foster puppies walk on Cathy’s feet while she writes on her laptop – puppy knocks over her diet Coke and wakes me up.  We’re all outside again and she shuts the door FAST.

I watch through the window as Cathy cleans up the diet Coke.  Then she lets us all inside, puts puppies in a playpen, tosses raw hides to us three dogs that live here all the time, and then she goes back to writing.

Oops – did I fall asleep? – hmmm – time for trip to the vet, groomer, dog park – car ride, car ride, car ride.  I loooove the van!

But wait, this is supposed to be about Cathy, even though we all know the world revolves around moi!

We’re home already?  Darn.

Cathy’s sitting on the porch talking on the phone or with papers in her hand.  Manuscript? Whatever.  She writes notes on them, types on the computer then either a puppy eats the papers or they become crate liners.

Nap time in the sun until kids are home from school.
Annnnnd she’s writing again.  There’s usually a food smell coming out of something called a crock pot.  I call it torture since all I get to do is smell it then watch the family at the table eat it.

And that wraps up a day in the life of my favorite person in the whole, whole, whole wide world.  The end. (Love, Sadie)

Pets can be such a special part of our lives.  Did you have a pet as a child?  If so, what was its name?  One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to win a copy of FULL SURRENDER by Joanne Rock and GUARDIAN by Catherine Mann.

FMI, they can be found online at:

Catherine Mann

Joanne Rock

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Heather Barbieri: Starting Again

“Does it get easier?” That’s a question that often comes up at author appearances, in reference to writing a new book. But it could just as well apply to any aspect of our lives. Change isn’t always easy, on or off the page, is it?

Sometimes, we’re prepared for changes and challenges—or think we are—sometimes not. When I was writing my latest (third) novel, The Cottage at Glass Beach, I found myself navigating without a map, much as my main character, Nora, was. I’d been blindsided by the sudden loss of my 73-year-old mother to an insidious, untreatable condition called cerebral amyloidosis. While struggling to make sense of what had happened and support family and friends, I was also working to meet the agreed-upon deadline for Cottage.  (The book deal and her death came within two weeks of each other.) Those months brought other unforeseen challenges, and there were days I wasn’t sure I could write the book, days of plodding along, putting one word in front of another, one foot in front of another. And yet I came to realize the grief process and the creative process are intertwined, springing, as they do, from the depths of our subconscious. The most difficult paths can bring the greatest rewards, if we’re willing to follow them.

Now, I’m home from the summer book tour, that heady, busy interlude meeting readers and booksellers, a writer’s public time, a welcome respite from what can be a solitary profession. Another autumn approaches. It’s time to start writing again, a daunting task, at least at the outset. It’s like jumping off a high dive, really, in the early going. We stand on the edge of the board and think it looks like a long way down (though it isn’t really; heights can be deceptive, viewed from above). And yet once we push off, it’s exhilarating, and we wonder what we were afraid of. Even if we flop—and it can sting, yes—we can pick ourselves up and give it another go, not so much starting over, but starting again. The important thing is the willingness to fully, compassionately experience whatever life brings and learn from it, to take the plunge, as writers, as readers, as human beings.

I’m not sure exactly where the new book will take me, but with a little help from the imagination and a good deal of determination, I’m excited to find out. It’s time to take a deep breath and dive in, meeting whatever the next year will bring.

What challenge(s) have you met this year? Where has your journey taken you, and where would you like to go? Let’s put some positive energy out there and cheer each other on! I'm giving away two copies of my book to two lucky winners!

The Cottage at Glass Beach (Harper) is the story of a political wife who, fleeing scandal, retreats to a remote island off the coast of Maine to protect her young daughters and come to terms with the childhood tragedy that still haunts her. “A wonderful, subtle, transporting story.” (Booklist, starred review.)

Heather Barbieri is the author of two previous acclaimed novels, The Lace Makers of Glenmara (Harper) and Snow in July (Soho). She lives in Seattle with her family and is at work on her fourth novel.  V
isit Heather on facebook or at

***Heather's winner is Lory Lee!  Congrats, Lory!  Please an email with your mailing info to  Thanks!***

Monday, September 17, 2012

Past, Present and Future...

For the past few years I've been writing contemporary romance for the Harlequin Presents/Extra Mills and Boon Modern Romance lines, but that hasn't always been the case. For many years I wrote factual articles for magazines. Then I branched out into historical fiction. This was in the days before the Internet - and although that makes me sound ancient, it wasn't really so long ago! Instead of using a word processor I wrote all my articles and stories out in longhand. Research meant a forty-mile round trip by car to the county library, with the children. There was no pushchair access in those days, so I had to leave the buggy outside and cart babies and notebooks upstairs. While I worked, they played under the table. They spent so much of their formative years surrounded by books it's no wonder they both grew up with a love of reading. After tagging all the way home again, I incorporated my research into the final draft of my manuscript then typed it up (duplicated with the help of reams of carbon paper) and sent it off to the publisher. After time spent first in the postal system and then under editorial consideration, my editor would ring to discuss any revisions then the original manuscript would be sent back for alteration and resubmission. The whole process took forever, and cost a fortune in paper and postage. Things are so much easier now, with on-line research and virtual documents flying backwards and forwards via email.
Recently, I wrote some pieces on my blog about how things have changed and the revolution of epublishing. I had so many interesting comments and emails, I decided to experiment with the situation myself. The result is the re-issue in ebook form of "Lady Rascal", an historical romance which was originally published only in the UK  and Europe by Harlequin in their Masquerade line. It opens in Paris during the summer riots of 1789. That's a bit early to be called a Regency Romance, but publishers love their categories and 'Revolutionary Romance' doesn't strike quite the right note! Madeleine is a chancer with nothing to lose, who dresses up in "borrowed" clothes. When English gentleman Philip Adamson mistakes her for an aristocrat in danger, Maddy plays along. She hopes to benefit from his good nature, but soon finds his sense of honour has put his future in grave doubt. He needs her streetwise determination as much as she wants his sophisticated charm...
I can remember gazing out of my window at falling snow while I was working on the summer night seduction scene of Lady Rascal. Warm starlit evenings in the arms of my handsome OH seemed an awfully long way away. He was working in New York at the time and the baby was tormented with chickenpox. Writing helped me escape to a time when the countryside was green and lush, with a happy ever after guaranteed. I'm really excited to be bringing Lady Rascal to a worldwide audience, and I hope you get as much pleasure from reading it as I did from writing it. 
Do you have an ereader? Do you think it will ever replace "real" books in your affections? One of the very last signed author copies of the original Lady Rascal paperback is on offer for a comment picked at random.

Christina Hollis is a best-selling writer of romance, who lives her dream life with her family in the middle of an English bluebell wood. You can visit her website at, and read her blog at

*UPDATE*: Lory's name was first out of the hat in the draw for a signed copy of the original paperback version of "Lady Rascal"!
Congratulations, Lory! If you could mail me at with your snail mail address, I'll get your prize into the post asap.

Thanks to everyone who posted. I really enjoyed our "chat" and your good wishes for the success of Lady Rascal. I hope you can all get to enjoy it, whether by way of ereader, or a good old printed book!
Best wishes
Christina x

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Karen Kelley: The Power of Words

In Where There's a Will Haley has been slowly brainwashed over the years by family and friends. They're all well-meaning suggestions and they only tell her where she can improve because they love her. By the time she's an adult Haley has low self-esteem and believes she's a frump. She's also become a people pleaser which only makes her situation worse.

Ouch! I remember growing up with some of the same problems. By the time I reached my teens I was so insecure! I think to a certain extent we've all been in some of the same situations Haley goes through. Don't you just hate being made to feel like you're not as good as everyone else?

Haley's situation is pretty bad. She does all this work for a coworker that she has a crush on. When he tells her that he owes her dinner, she gathers her courage and accepts. The night he's to take her out he calls and cancels. She's devastated and as she cries herself to sleep she prays for a miracle.

Have you ever waited on anyone to show up and they're really late or worse, they don't show? I have and I hate the feeling. More battle scars. I swear, I should be unrecognizable from all the nicks I've gotten over the years!

Haley's prayer is answered though when her doorbell rings the next morning and on her porch stands Ryder, a nephilim (half angel/half man), and he tells her that he's there to answer her prayer. She promptly slams the door in his face. But Ryder doesn't follow all the rules. He's only half angel.

I had so much fun writing this book. I loved watching Haley grow and the romance develop between her and Ryder. And I couldn't, just absolutely couldn't, leave out the coworker who stood her up. I also believe something my grandmother always told me: what goes around, comes around.

I hope you enjoy Where There's a Will. If you leave a comment I'll put your name in a drawing for a chance to win one copy of Where There's a Will. Be warned--this series is erotic romance so this story is very explicit. I won't send to anyone under 18 years of age. 

Karen Kelley

***Karen's winner is CathyP!  Please send an email with your mailing info to  Thanks!***

Saturday, September 15, 2012

AMBA 2012 by Michelle Styles

Apologies for the slightly late posting but I just got back home.

Friday saw the annual Association of Mills and Boon Authors lunch with the Toast to the Authors following in the evening.

It is always a glamorous occasion and this year was no exception. In fact, this year, Mills and Boon gave each of attending authors a small goodie bag which included a small bottle of champagne, chocolate (Kir Royale), a pink notebook, pen and a candle which helped to make it more special. The authors also had a photo shoot with a professional photographer.

As ever the event was well attended. I ended up sitting next to Tim Cooper who is the Director of Digital and Dirct for Mills and Boon and Historical author Barbara Monajem. Both very charming lunch companions. Also on the table was Kate Hardy who is celebrating her 50th book (in ten years!) I met the lovely Lynne Grahame for the first time.

Among other things we were treated to a sneak peak of the covers for the new KISS line (debuting in the US in Feburary 2013).

Kate Hardy gets her 50 books (in 10 years!) pin
After the lunch, and photo, I had tea with Kate Hardy, Caroline Anderson and several other medical authors before going to the toast. We were met with champagne.

My editor was already there and looking beautiful in white with these fantastic candy floss pink shoes. I was also able to meet several of the newer editorial assistants including Katharyn Carlisle who started two days ago. She is primarily working with the Riva/KISS team. Sadly, a number of editors are leaving – for a variety of reasons, including 2 pregnancies and moving over to the single title section of M&B UK. All departing editors were given flowers.

The highlight of the evening happened when an American author (who shall remain nameless but writes for the relaunched Riva) slipped outside for a cigarette break and ended up literally slipping on the cobblestones. These things happen to authors particularly authors of fun flirty romances.

 An off duty policeman who also had just married at the hotel that afternoon rescued her and escorted her back to the party.  Truly a hero. It turned out that his bride is a HUGE Mills and Boon reader. Once he learnt who we were, he went back for his bride as she'd never believe this.

The bride approached the dying embers of the party with some scepticism as she thought her new husband was teasing her which quickly turned to unbridled joy when she realised that we were indeed Mills and Boon. Her dress was utterly gorgeous.  She claimed to be near 50 but looked far younger. She was given a goodie bag (or two – to make sure she had enough champagne). She confided that she kept her M&B books in shoeboxes, read all sorts but had a real fondness for the more steamy ones.

It was an utterly surreal moment.

And a fitting end to the 2012 AMBA lunch and party. Sometimes you can’t make these things up!
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. Her next release is Hattie Wilkinson Meets Her Match (November 2012) You can read more about Michelle and her books on

Friday, September 14, 2012

Roz Denny Fox - Duke: Deputy Cowboy

Writing a book within a continuity is fun, yet challenging.  The challenge is for a group of authors to take a cast of  characters and mesh them together using a common setting.  The Harts of Rodeo held great appeal for me as I knew it would be a family saga populated with ranchers, rodeo cowboys, cowgirls and people who would become their life partners.  As well, I knew and admired the storytelling of the other 5 writers.  

The fun began as we met online and endeavored to tell our stories while keeping each other’s characters consistent.  People have said to me, wouldn’t it be easier to write the first or last book?  I don’t think so.  

In book 1, Aiden-Loyal Cowboy by Cathy McDavid, introduces the entire family, establishes the ranch setting and tells Aiden (Ace) Hart’s love story.  Book 2, Colton: Rodeo Cowboy by C.J. Carmichael builds on Cathy’s story, throws in a bit of drama between Colt and Aiden, and brings in new characters that carry into book 3, Duke: Deputy Cowboy (my story).  

In book 2, C.J. shows thefts at the ranch and around town that gives my deputy hero, a family cousin, enough trouble to keep him busy for a whole book.  To say nothing of him going off to ride bulls at rodeos even after he falls for a woman who runs an animal rescue ranch.  She has no love for rodeos or rodeo cowboys. (well—she doesn’t to start) Duke’s boss, Sheriff Dinah Hart is prominent in book 4 Austin: Second Chance Cowboy by Shelley Galloway, along with Austin Wright, cowboy and family friend.  

I’m afraid I left Dinah a bit of an unsolved mess which causes her greater grief with the man she comes to love.  Book 5’s hero, Beau Adams is Duke’s twin.  In Beau: Cowboy Protector, author, Marin Thomas not only deals with a new, troubled love for Beau, but also a former love of the twin’s father.  

So by now you can begin to see what pitfalls we’ve all tossed out for the author of book 6, Linda Warren.  In Tomas: Cowboy Homecoming, she must masterfully weave in all characters, plus bring home the youngest Hart son, Tomas, Tuf, show him and the family at the last big rodeo, and find him a lady love—oh, and tie up any loose ends.

Interestingly I saw Lionel Riche interviewed recently and he said his songs have such lasting appeal because they all center around love which is something every person in the world seeks or yearns for.  I think those of us lucky enough to write love stories feel the same way.

By now I’m sure you can see the fun and the challenge in writing connected stories, however.  So which book in a continuity do you believe would be easiest to write and why?  Share your thoughts and one lucky reader will receive a copy of my book along with a mystery prize!

***Roz's winner is Ellen Too!  Please email your mailing info to***

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lucy Monroe: Writing about Dragons

One of the things I love most about writing my Children of the Moon series is the fact that I get to create my own mythology, my own world.  That doesn’t mean I completely disregard commonly held beliefs or story avenues, but that I build on them.   

When the idea for my shape changing Chrechte first came to me, it was the result of asking, "What if the Picts (a mysterious people of Northern Scotland who disappeared from written history) were actually werewolves who integrated with the clans for survival?"

That grew into a world that had bird, wolf and cat shifters and ultimately...the Prince of the Éan, a dragon shifter.  As protector of his people, Eirik is the most fearsome of living beasts.  A huge, red dragon who can cast fire and fly undetected through the night sky.  Pretty cool, right?

Dragon mythology has commonality in most cultural oral and written histories.  The Western dragon isn't only found in European storytelling, but Native American (albeit a different type of dragon) as well.  And the Eastern dragon is popular throughout Asia.  The concept of the dragon has always and continues to fascinate us all.  Is it any wonder we are seeing a resurgence of them in current fiction?

In Dragon's Moon, my dragon shifter is a solitary one, a man who can do what no other Chrechte living can.  Eirik is both dragon and raven, Prince and clan member.  He is a conflicted hero whose ability to cast fire is as much a burden as a strength.  When he meets his mate for the first time and realizes his fire killed Ciara's brother, he knows their journey to happiness is not assured.

That does not stop him claiming her, or insisting their paths are entwined.  Ciara is no shrinking Medieval maiden, frightened of the only living drakon.  She is a strong woman more adept at hiding emotions than giving into them.

The future of the entire Chrechte race depends on these two finding their way to each other and the trust and love they will need to succeed at their quest.

What about you?  Are you as fascinated by dragons as me?  What aspect to dragonology do you find most intriguing?


ISBN-10: 0425246620 - ISBN-13: 978-0425246627
Children of the Moon Novel #4, Berkley Sensation - September 2012

—#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Lora Leigh

Bestselling author Lucy Monroe returns to her “stunningly sexy”* paranormal world where one woman has but one choice for her people’s salvation—her sworn enemy...

When Eirik, the only living dragon shifter, and prince of the Ean, killed her brother, Ciara was left alone to face her prophetic dreams. Now, in order to find the wolves’ sacred stone and save all the Chrechte from destruction, she needs her enemy’s help.

Eirik was only protecting the children of his people, but that day in the forest left a mark on him as well. Controlling his dragon’s fire is the most difficult thing he’s ever done—until he and Ciara are forced to face not only their shared tumultuous past, but a hallowed bond stronger than they realize. As avowed enemies and predestined mates, their quest ushers them into a world of great danger, and a passion hotter than the dragon’s fire.