Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shona Husk: Making Time

I’ve always done crafty things. I love cross-stitch and sewing, while on maternity leave I started sewing and selling cloth nappies as well as going back to writing—something I hadn’t done since high school. I love to be busy.

But juggling the hobbies with the day job and the writing has become increasingly hard. There just aren’t enough hours in a day. While I can cross-stitch as I catch up on Supernatural and Spartacus and I can read on my lunch break the other things have fallen away. Which is unfortunate.

A couple of years ago I discovered cloth doll making. I made three in about three months…and haven’t made any since. About 6 months ago I had an idea, went and bought the fabric, felt and lace and I haven’t touched it. Yes, there have been deadlines, and books to edit and books to turn in. Then there are the self-imposed deadlines for writing the next novella.

Every time I go into the guest room (where all the sewing stuff is kept) I see the pile of cloth and think I should start that doll. I know at some point in the past I used to think about writing like that. That I’d get to it one day... My first novel took me 18 months to complete.

When my kids were very small and I was juggling lots of things I had my 30 minutes rule. That was for 30 minutes every day I’d do what I really wanted. I’d carve out the time in the evening and just get it done. At that time it was writing (which is why it took me 18 months to write that very first draft).

Later when I went back to work part-time I found I was writing but not reading. So I added a 30 min reading block to my list. As long as I blocked out that time it happened. I now listen to the kids read and then read my book for 30 mins after dinner.

The kids have seen me doing cross-stitch and sewing and have asked how to do it, so I’ve shown them and they have started their own projects—expanding their knowledge and skill set. Learning to sew on a button is important :) They have also seen me reading for pleasure and copy, which is rewarding as I believe reading for enjoyment is one of those simple things in life that is often forgotten in favour of TV and games.

I’m going to have to do carve out some time to make the cloth doll. Maybe 1hr on the weekend. Since I’m writing this at the start of January I’m hoping that I’ll be able to add in a photo of what I’ve achieved.

I think for many women what they really want to do often gets pushed to the side because of family and work commitments, but it’s important to fulfil yourself. And 30 minutes a day isn’t much to find for yourself when you think about how much time you spend running around for other people.


In a Faraway Land...
There lived a man who was trapped—his only companions a horde of goblins consumed by their lust for gold. He thought he was lost forever, thought that no one would ever remember he'd been noble.

A Fearless Warrior…
Now he has been thrust into the human world once again, but so much has changed. How can he ever be rid of the darkness after so long in the Shadowlands?

It Starts with Dreams of a Castle...
And a woman who takes his breath away and makes him forget the pain of his past. He knows he must protect her at all costs. And perhaps in saving her, he can finally learn to love again.

Praise for The Goblin King:
"Steamy, sensual, and dangerous...Dark and delicious." —Fresh Fiction
"Shona Husk put together an amazing story about loss, love, redemption, and discovery." —Night Owl Reviews Top Pick
"A wonderfully dark and sensual fairy tale." —Jessa Slade, author of Seduced by Shadows

A civil designer by day and an author by night, Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Drawing on history, myth, and imagination, she writes about heroes who are armed and dangerous but have a heart of gold–sometimes literally. Look for the other books in the Shadowlands Series, The Goblin King and Kiss of the Goblin Prince, available now. In July 2013, Shona will begin another dark paranormal series with The Outcast Prince! For more information, please visit

To purchase For the Love of a Goblin Warrior:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Edie Ramer: Love, Life and Fiction in a Small Town

Now that I have a series about a small Wisconsin village, I know why so many other authors set series in a small town. A small town is like a large extended family, with all the weirdness and craziness that comes with that.

When you think of Mayberry, you probably first think of Andy Griffiths walking with a really cute Ron Howard carrying fishing poles... But then don’t you think of Barney Fife, the bumbling deputy? Or Aunt Bea’s apple pie? And the way that Andy helps everyone who comes into Mayberry?

Author Misty Evans recently said, “My hometown has less than 4,000 people. There are some great folks here, but gossip is rampant. The saying is, you can’t do a cartwheel in your front yard at 8 a.m. without everyone knowing about it by dinner time.

I used to be a huge mystery buff, and cozy mysteries have a lot of small town series. My favorite series have a romantic interest to go along with the murder. Here are a few small towns and villages you might recognize from TV and fiction:

Murder She Writes (Cabot Cove)
Debbie Macomber (Blossom Street and Cedar Cove)
Brenda Novak (Dundee, Idaho)
Tonya Kappes (Grandberry Falls)
Lisa Kleypas (Friday Harbor series, which I love because there are magical elements in this contemporary romance, so now I can compare my Miracle Interrupted books to her series)
Stacey Joy Netzel (Romancing Wisconsin – and how smart is that? Her stories are set in a small town, but for the series title, she uses a whole state!)
In “Famous in a Small Town,” Miranda Lambert sings:
“Every last one, route one, rural hearts got a story to tell
Every grandma, in law, ex girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey words gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town.”

In the short story, “The Thumb Mark of St. Peter” by Agatha Christie, Miss Marple, a spinster who lives in the English village of St. Mary Mead, says, “...human nature is much the same everywhere, and, of course, one has opportunities of observing it at closer quarters in a village.”

Like Miranda Lambert says, “rural hearts got a story to tell,” and that’s what I do. Tell the stories that happen in the village of Miracle, Wisconsin: a place where a miracle has been prophesied and even cats and dogs have stories to tell.
I’m giving away an e-copy of any of the books from my Miracle Interrupted series, winner’s choice! All my books stand alone, so it’s not necessary to read them in order. Do you have a favorite small town series from TV or a book? And if you live in a small town, does gossip travel that fast by you?

Edie Ramer

***Edie's winner is Melissa!  Please email with your mailing information!***

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Roni Loren: Looking for Inspiration Everywhere

One of the most common questions I get as a writer is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Now, because of what I write (erotic/BDSM romance), sometimes that’s just a veiled question for what they really want to know--are you swinging from the chandeliers/wielding floggers/wearing leather in your personal time? Lol. But most others are really just curious as to where the ideas stem from. And for me, the answer is--everywhere. And usually I’m not looking for it. The idea fairy sneaks up on me most when I’m not *trying* to come up with new story ideas.

For my latest novel, FALL INTO YOU, I found inspiration from a few unexpected places. First, my heroine is a sports reporter who is trying to get an on-air position as a sidelines reporter. I got that idea because two years ago I went to Atlanta with my husband for the SEC College Football Championship (we’re huge LSU fans). Our hotel happened to be right near the spot that ESPN was hosting Game Day, so we were able to get there early and be right on the front row for the live broadcast. That’s when Erin Andrews was still a reporter for them. And so, seeing Erin report right there in front of me gave me the idea for Charli, my heroine, and her motivation. The story questions that popped into my head: What if a woman who was more tomboy than Erin Andrews model-gorgeous wanted this job? Would she be able to get it?

Also, in the story, Charli is investigating a big football scandal story. She thinks one of the big universities is cheating and paying players to go there. There are people in high places who do not want this story coming out, and now she’s put her life in danger. (And, of course, my sexy, dominant, cowboy hero is who she’ll have to turn to for protection. Don’t you hate when that happens? *evil grin*) What’s funny is that I had a comment from someone who said something to the effect of “no one’s life would get threatened over a football cheating scandal.” My thought--she must not live in Texas, lol. 

I actually based that part of the story on something that happened with SMU here in Texas in the 80s. I had seen the 30 for 30 special on ESPN about it, and that’s where I got the inspiration. There was a huge cheating scandal exposed, and it revealed a lot of very important, very prominent people who were involved (eventually it came out that even the governor had kept information hidden.) The university was given the “death penalty” for its football program, and it left their program in ruin. It was a huge deal. It’s rumored that it even shut down a newspaper because all the advertising from SMU alum was pulled when they ran the story. So, it didn’t seem like that far a stretch in my story to imagine that some of those prominent people would go pretty far to keep from getting exposed.

So I guess for this book, I’m really glad I’m a sports-loving girl because so much of the inspiration came from ESPN, lol. Now it’s time to start writing a new book. I wonder where the story will come from this time. : )  

I'm giving away one signed print copy of FALL INTO YOU  (U.S./Canada only). Leave a comment with your email for a chance to win!  What inspires you day to day? And if you’re a writer, where’s the strangest place you’ve found a story idea?

Book Blurb:
When tomboy sports reporter Charli Beaumonde loses a dream TV job because she’s not girly enough for primetime, she’s determined to land a big scoop and prove her boss made a mistake. But when she gets too close to a football scandal and finds her life threatened, Charli accepts an offer from family friend Grant Waters to hide out at his place—even if Grant predicts nothing but trouble from his buddy’s hard-headed, uncompromising, irrepressible, younger sister. There’s one more problem…
Grant’s “place” is The Ranch, a BDSM resort in Texas, and he’s used to being in charge —even if that means trying to keep Charli in line. But much to Grant’s surprise, she’s intrigued—even envious—of his trainees. They’re the epitome of what she’s never been: sexy, beguiling, and totally irresistible to a man. Still, Grant doesn’t believe for a minute that the sharp-tongued Charli has it in her to be anyone’s submissive. But Charli’s already on her knees vying for the chance to prove that even the Master can be wrong sometimes.

Roni wrote her first romance novel at age fifteen when she discovered writing about boys was way easier than actually talking to them. Since then, her flirting skills haven’t improved, but she likes to think her storytelling ability has. Though she’ll forever be a New Orleans girl at heart, she now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. 
If she’s not working on her latest sexy story, you can find her reading, watching reality television, or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to rockstars, er, rock concerts. Yeah, that's it. She is the National Bestselling Author of The Loving on the Edge series from Berkley Heat.
Find her: Website: | Twitter: | Facebook: | Goodreads:

***Roni's winner is Regina!  Please email with your mailing information!***

Monday, January 28, 2013

Debra Mullins: Changing Directions

It seems like only yesterday I was writing one of my favorite books, DONOVAN’S BED. It was my second book, a funny western historical that got nominated for the RITA from Romance Writers of America, the premier award of romance writing. It was a small town historical western about a man with a secret and lady newspaper editor who was determined to ferret it out. When our hero declared the heroine lacking in the qualities he sought in a wife, she decided to help him out by advertising his marital search in the newspaper. Needless to say, dozens of women from miles around showed up in town trying to become the woman in Donovan’s bed. I love that book and still chuckle when I read parts of it out loud.

DONOVAN’S BED and its sequel, THE LAWMAN’S SURRENDER, were both re-released in ebook format a few months ago. Besides being delighted that these two favorites might find new readers, I found the timing perfect because I won’t have a brand new book out until November 2013. I didn’t want my readers to think I’d fallen off the earth!

The new book coming out in November is completely different from my other work. I have thirteen historical romances in print, and now I can add a contemporary paranormal trilogy to my bookshelf. It’s not easy changing directions when writing popular fiction. Fans tend to want more of what the author has written before, and when the author needs to change directions, whether due to publisher request or for creative reasons, it’s always a risk.

When Lee asked me to write this blog post, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get some reader opinions about the new book. Here’s the setup, and below that is a short excerpt from the first book of my Atlantis trilogy, PRODIGAL SON.

SETUP: Rafe Montana is a descendent of a survivor of Atlantis and has inherited her powers. He is a Seer, with the gift to see the truth in a human’s eyes and the ability to use a side of him called the Hunter to find anyone, anywhere. Sometimes he gets extra visions that give him knowledge he needs. He works as a bounty hunter in Las Vegas. The heroine, Cara McGaffigan, has come to Vegas from NJ in search of her missing stepbrother, Danny. Rafe has taken the case because for some reason, his powers don’t work when he tries to find Danny and he wants to know why. Rafe has gone to Danny’s apartment looking for clues and finds Cara there.


“If I wanted to do something to you, Cara, I could have done it at any time. The pepper spray wouldn’t have stopped me.”
His voice lowered at the end, almost sexy, triggering a curling warmth between her legs. Holy Hannah, was she getting turned on by the bad guy?
Unnerved by the unexpected—unwanted—attraction, she jerked her head backwards and connected with what felt like his chin. She saw stars but was rewarded when he grunted, and his grip around her arms loosened for a second. She jerked free, but he grabbed her shirt and they both went down.
As soon as she hit the carpet, she scrambled forward on her hands and knees. Where was the pepper spray? Had it slid under the coffee table? But he caught her ankle and yanked her flat on her belly. Before she could right herself, he was looming over her on all fours, trapping her. For an instant his hips pressed against her rear. Her stomach did a little flip at the intimate position, muscles trembling with a sudden burst of arousal. He flipped her onto her back, then pinned her down in a primitive move that male had used on female since the beginning of time.
His face looked like stone, his body a cage of lean, hard muscle. He smelled of citrus and sandalwood and fabric softener. Heat swept through her limbs, warmed her belly.
No way. She wasn’t going there. She didn’t care how good he smelled.
“Let me up.” She bucked her hips, trying to dislodge him, and shoved at his shoulders. Her palms tingled at the contact.
“No.” He grabbed her hands and pinned them to the floor above her head, then shifted to manacle one hand around both her wrists. “You’re not playing nice, Cara.”
“Miss McGaffigan to you.” The position arched her back, giving her way more cleavage than she had ever intended in her yellow V-neck shirt. He didn’t even glance down.
“You can call me Rafe.” He yanked off the sunglasses that sat crookedly on her face and tossed them aside. “Let’s see what’s going on with you.”

Rafe tried to ignore the soft female body beneath his. Tried to pretend he didn’t notice how her hips cradled him. Or the way the neckline of her shirt pulled down to reveal a glimpse of really nice breasts and a peek of white lace bra . How her feminine scents called to him, cinnamon and vanilla and something elusive—something her—that teased him with possibilities.
The Hunter stirred, lured by the presence of female. Hungry after the most recent burnout. Curious after the vision he’d had of her at Sal’s office.
No. This is business.
He shoved the beast back. Once he had regained control, he tilted up her chin with one hand and gazed long and hard into her face.
Her eyes were amber brown and full of annoyance and fear. For a moment he got lost there, lured into warm, sweet caramel. The promise of sex shimmered on the edges of his mind.  Then the vision slammed into him like a bullet.
Murder. Death.
Cara’s broken body lying at the side of a desert road, her eyes staring sightlessly at the sky as a vehicle burned nearby—he couldn’t tell what make or color. There was too much smoke, too much destruction. And the vision was in black and white.
The pain, the grief, slammed him in the gut as the emotions of the future rushed over him. Death. Murder. No, no, no. Not Cara. An innocent pawn in an evil game. Used and discarded. A bright light extinguished for greed and power.
The tinny notes of  her cell phone broke the spell.

Please let me know what you think of PRODIGAL SON! 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Australia Day by Fiona Lowe

Yesterday, January 26th was Australia Day, our national day. Unlike the USA, where the national day is held on a day when independence was granted, Australia Day is celebrated on the day the first fleet from Britain landed filled to the brim with convicts, making us a penal 
colony ;-) 

As an aside, it turns out that really the Brits were after Norfolk Island not Australia. They used the penal colony as a decoy so the French didn't realise what they were up too. You see, they needed a new supply of masts and flax to make sails for their navy and they thought Norfolk Island was the key. Sadly, they were disappointed as Norfolk Island pines are very weak wood and the flax didn't make good sails either. So they were stuck with a penal colony and all the on-costs of that. Ah, irony!

It took until January 1st 1901 until Australia became a united Federation and the Queen of England a figurehead only. Today there is still a push toward becoming a republic but every time there is a Royal tour that idea seems to fade somewhat. 

On Australia Day we come together as a nation to celebrate what's great about Australia and being Australian. It's the day to reflect on what we have achieved and what we can be proud of in our great nation. It's the day for us to re-commit to making Australia an even better place for the future.

There are also those in the wider community who share these mixed emotions about our national day, and they appreciate the efforts of event organisers to acknowledge that Australia Day evokes a variety of emotions. For the First Australians. the indigenous Australians, 26 January is an occasion to reflect on past loss and suffering.

There are Australia Day awards recognising service in all shapes and forms and it is also a day many migrants decide to adopt Australia as their country and they take up citizenship. They are given a certificate and a small native plant to mark this significant occasion.

For about 150 years, many Australians were embarrassed to say they were descended from convicts but in 1988, our 200th birthday, all that changed. People were out and proud about their heritage. Sadly, my family history is pretty boring...I am descended from Cornish miners who came to Australia for a new life.  Probably to compensate for my lack of interesting heritage, I gave Matilda in Boomerang Bride some convict relatives who came out in 1788! 

Boomerang Bride is now in print on the shelf in books shops all over the USA! To read more about the story head to my website.

Yesterday,  my family attended a family day by the sea where there was  a parade, free rides, fire works and community groups spruiking their activities. The smell of onions, sausages, falafels, souvlaki and ice cream filled the air....a true representation of our multicultural society.

I'd love to hear what you do in your neighbourhood on your national day! 

Fiona Lowe is a RITA® and R*BY award-winning, multi-published author with Harlequin and Carina Press. Whether her books are set in outback Australia or in the mid-west of the USA, they feature small towns with big hearts, and warm, likeable characters that make you fall in love. When she's not writing stories, she's a weekend wife, mother of two 'ginger' teenage boys, guardian of 80 rose bushes and often found collapsed on the couch with wine. You can find her at her website, facebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

CJ Carmichael: The Pen is Mightier Than … Well, it’s pretty mighty. Take my word for it.

Authors are considered powerful because of our ability to create using words. We create characters. And worlds. Problems. And solutions. At the beginning of a new multi-book series, I like to start by creating the setting. This process begins with choosing a state (or a province) that has a “feeling” that suits the kind of stories I want to write. Stories about single dads trying to create a home for their children (my Three Good Men trilogy)? Easy…New England. 

Stories about a private detective agency with three single, smart, stylish women (my Fox and Fisher Detective Agency trilogy)? Where else but…New York City. 

Stories about a ranching family with a controlling matriarch (my new American Romance 4-book series)? One of the most beautiful places on earth…Montana. (Okay, this is my opinion. But I’ve driven through a lot of Montana and it’s got it all…mountains, lakes, rivers, rolling hills, canyons etc., ect.)

Once I’ve chosen the state, I pull out a map--the old fashioned kind that’s impossible to fold back to the original size. I study this map. I look for a name that inspires me. For me, this time, that name was Coffee Creek. I did some research on the web and then my long suffering spouse and I went on a road trip. Destination: Coffee Creek, Montana. 

My hopes were high as we drove hundreds of miles through ranching and farming territory only to arrive here:  
This is pretty much the highlight of the town. My heart sank. Then rose again. After all, I’m a fiction writer. I could fix Coffee Creek!

And that’s what I did. I totally re-imagined it, and even shifted it a little, moving it closer to the mountains and ranching country. The new Coffee Creek is awesome. It has a topaz-colored creek running through it, a charming café called the Cinnamon Stick and a librarian and postmaster who used to be married, but now avoid one another completely.

photo credit: Rolf Stengl

I’d like to officially invite you to Coffee Creek, Montana, and to the first of my 4-book series: Remember Me, Cowboy.  

To celebrate the launch, I’m giving away my Three Good Men trilogy (The Dad Next Door, Matthew’s Children and Christmas With Daddy) to one random winner. To be entered, all you need to do is tell me the name of your favorite fictional story setting. Tell me why you love it. (Hint: my favorite is Stars Hollow, the setting of the Gilmore Girls. Who wouldn’t want to live there? Seriously. Who?) 

CJ Carmichael

***CJ's winner is Silvia!  Please email with your mailing information!***

Friday, January 25, 2013

Amy Andrews: The Vibrator – does it have a place in category romance?

So, I’m thinking of doing something wild and out there in my next book and I think I need to be talked off the ledge.

I’m thinking of writing a scene where the hero walks in on the heroine whilst she’s….enjoying herself with a little mechanical aid. Then it becomes this whole loaded situation where he just stands and watches her torn between the urge to join in and the illicit thrill of a private show and she knows he’s watching her and she knows he knows she knows. So it becomes sexy and raunchy instead of brief and squalid.

But is that just too, too much? Does that cross a line? I mean, I’m generally known as an author who writes the hotter end of the spectrum and I have in my earlier writing days even written and sold erotica but still – I haven’t gone this far in a category romance before.

Is that too far for category?

Would/should a hero be okay with that? I’ve been weaned on (and loved) romances where it’s only the hero who can ring the heroine’s bell. Where other men pale into insignificance in the face of his mastery of the female body. And, I have to admit, I love that whole only one guy for me thing. But I am rather titillated by the hero being turned on by a woman having a little private time and even more so by the heroine knowing the hero is watching her, knowing the hero is turned on.

Hmm, maybe that says more about my kinks than I’d like….

I’ve written scenes where heroines have threatened to use their vibrator.  Thrown a vibrator’s prowess in the hero’s face. The Devil and the Deep is a good example! I’ve even written a scene where the heroine had bought one and taken it home with the express purpose of putting that twelve inch baby to good use.
I’ve just never followed through. I’ve always chickened out.

So, the question remains - should I or shouldn’t I?

Would that shock you in a category romance? Would it turn you off? Would it be a wallbanger if the heroine is seeking sexual pleasure with something big and hard that is not the hero? Or would it, in this day and age of BDSM and about a hundred other kinks, be pretty damn vanilla? Would it not even raise an eyebrow?
Because, I gotta tell you, inside my head, that scene just won’t let up :-/

Talk me off the ledge people, I beg you….
And for your troubles I will be giving away a signed copy of my #dirtysexypirate aka The Devil and the Deep (complete with vibrator talk) to one lucky person who takes the time to comment!

Amy Andrews is an award-winning author who has written thirty +romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon in both the Medical and RIVA/Presents lines. To date she's sold over a million books and been translated into over a dozen different languages. In 2010 she took out the sexy category in the prestigious Romantic Book of the Year Award affectionately known as the Ruby and this year she is a finalist in three categories of the Australian Romance Reader Awards.
She's recently launched a couple of separate writing ventures with the release of Sister Pact a contemporary women's fiction novel that she co-wrote under her real name Ali with her sister Ros and was published by Harper Collins Australia in May 2012, as well as the very exciting release of her first category romance, Taming the Tycoon, with Entangled Publishing. This was followed by her anthology contribution in Baby, It’s Cold Outside, also by Entangled.
In what she euphemistically likes to call her spare time, Amy works part time as a paediatric intensive care nurse and was on the national executive for Romance Writers Of Australia for six years during which time she organised two national conferences and undertook a two year term as president.  She's been married for twenty-two years and has two teenagers She lives on acreage on the outskirts of Brisbane with a gorgeous mountain view but secretly wishes it was the hillsides of Tuscany.

***Amy's winner is Erin!  Please email with your mailing information!***

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Molly O'Keefe: Casting The Heroes of Crooked Creek

I never used look at pictures of people to find inspiration for my characters. Because in my head every hero looked like either Matt Damon or Ben Affleck. But with my hockey heroes for the Crooked Creek books, I started to need inspiration.  For Luc in Can't Buy  Me Love - it was easy. Steve Yzerman. Those sharp features, elegant but masculine. Shoe-in for Luc.

Eli, the hero of Can't Hurry Love, isn't a hockey player, he's a cowboy. Surly and broody. I couldn't use Ben Affleck, he's too pretty. So I decided on Russell Crowe. Younger Russell Crowe.

Now, Billy, the hero of Crazy Thing Called Love, posed a huge problem. Billy has a scar from the corner of his lip down to his chin, that distorts his smile. And let me tell you, looking up pictures of men with facial scars is not a good time. Originally, he was modeled after David Semenko, who was basically Gretzky's bodyguard on The Oilers. Gretzy got to be great, in large part because Semenko protected him. This mirrored the dynamic between Luc and Billy. But Semenko is not handsome. In any photo.

So, I went with pretty boy Mike Fisher. Because honestly, he's so pretty. Now, imagine a scar at his lip and you've got Billy. What do you think? Should I have picked a prettier hockey player? Is there one?

I am giving away one set of the Crooked Creek books to a commenter. You have to be over 18 and in North America.  Come check out my facebook page and website for more very cool contests:


***Molly's winner is Jets Fan!  Please email with your mailing information.  Thanks!***

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Opal Carew - What's New?

It’s a new year and that’s always a good time to try something new.    I’m jumping right in on that one.  First up, I have a serial novel, called His To Command, that started on January 8th—one of the newest trends.  (Yeah, I know they were popular years ago, but they’re back.)  The fourth part is released today.

A serial novel is a book that comes out in pieces.  His To Command is coming out in six parts.  Part 1 and 2, The Chase and The Capture, both came out on January 8th then the other parts come out a week at a time.  Each part is equivalent to about 2-3 chapters.  (I write short chapters, so for mine it would be three chapters.)

People tend to love them or hate them.  I’ve watched the reviews on some of the other novels that have come out in serial form over the past few months and many readers seem unhappy about the format.  I find it funny, though, that many readers still complain about the format on later parts.  You’d think they would have stopped buying them once they realized the nature of the serialization.  (At least that must mean that they are enjoying the story!

For any of my readers who feel they may not like a serial novel, the entire novel will be released in book form in April, in both print and eBook.  I wish it could be sooner, but the publisher can produce an ebook much faster than a full length book that is going to print.

The other new thing I’m trying with respect to publishing is being acquiring editor of an anthology.  I’m a Canadian author and I was asked by a Canadian literary publisher if I would be interested in working on an anthology of Canadian erotic romance.  I’ve never been an editor before, but I love trying new things, and I really liked the idea of being involved in a project working with other Canadians.  I love the fact that a literary publisher—who has worked with authors like Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro—wants to feature Canadian genre authors.

The anthology is called Northern Heat and you’ll probably recognize many of the authors, even though you probably didn’t realize (why would you even think about it?) that they are Canadian.  Authors like Sharon Page and Kayla Perrin.  And me!  The publisher wanted me to include a story, too!

The anthology will be coming out in time for Valentine’s Day, so I hope you’ll watch for it!

The publisher asked me to suggest some images for the cover and I did a couple of mockups and they chose one of them for the book.  They had their artist streamline it and make it more artistic, but it’s fun that they used my idea.  Doing cover art isn’t brand new for me, since I’ve done several of the covers for my self-published works, but it was inspiring that a publisher and their art department felt my idea was good enough to use!

Well, I’m not all work and no play—though I have to work at that (lol).  In my private life, I’ve launched a blog about nail polish.  “What’s so interesting about nail polish?” you might ask.  I just love combining colours and textures and nails are such easy little canvases on which to express myself.  Also, the special nail polishes available today are awe inspiring (to me, anyway).

I am obsessive about my hobbies and I’ve had to put them all on hold because writing consumes most of my time, but with nail polish, I can do a quick coat, write a bit, put on another coat, write, etc.  Sometimes I take an hour out to do something special, like water marbling or stamping, but in general, I can indulge without losing much writing time, thus it’s a guilt-free hobby.  Also, I find I love the flash of a duochrome polish (shows multiple colours) or of a fabulous glitter while I’m typing.  It feeds my artistic soul!

Speaking of hobbies, now that I’ve opened the door to allow myself some, I’ve just started a new artistic endeavour: zentangle.  These are a meditative form of ink drawing done on a 3.5 inch square piece of paper with repetitive patterns.  It allows the mind to focus, thus the meditative aspect.
I bought a book that teaches Zentangles and these are my first two exercises..

There are lots of other new things in my life, too.  Both my sons have moved out, so now it’s just me and my husband at home.  It’s taking a little time to adapt, but it does mean I’ll have more time to write (and do my new hobbies!)

What new things do you have going on in your life now, or do you plan to try soon?

His To Command, #1: The Chase
Strong, independent, smart, Kate is a modern business woman who knows exactly how to run her well organized world. But underneath her professional exterior lurks a secret she's been running from for years...a secret desire to be dominated that both exhilarates her and terrifies her. When an old lover, Matt Pearce, unexpectedly shows up, Kate is bombarded by sensual memories of their affair. Matt was the first and only man to give her a taste of domination, and she's never been able to forget. But though she's spent years trying to forget him, this time she may not be able to get away.

 Ever since the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy started topping the bestseller charts, people have taken an interest in this new phenomenon of erotic romance books.  Only it’s not new.  There are many of us who have been writing in this genre for years.
Featuring some of the best examples of Canadian erotic romance, this anthology includes authors such as Sharon Page (USA Today bestselling author) and Kayla Perrin (USA Today and Essence bestselling author, and one of the inaugural authors of the Harlequin Spice line).
These delightful stories show the broad range of eroticism and romance in stories that publishers label as "erotic romance". Some focus on the burgeoning romance between a couple, whereas others focus more on the erotic situation that hints at a romance to build in the future. Yet others are simply a celebration of sexual intimacy. In all, however, the characters are challenged by some aspect of their sexual desire for each other.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Karen Chance: Postcards from Fantasyland

People always ask me what my favorite thing about writing is, and I never know what to tell them. The truth is, I love all of it: the plotting, the character design, the name it, and I enjoy it. But if I absolutely had to pick one thing that I like better than all the rest, I'd have to say world-building.

After all, what could be more satisfying than getting to design an entire world for your characters to play in? It's like the SIMS on steroids! And it's also hugely important, since the world of any fantasy series serves as a foundation for everything else. Get it wrong and, like a house of cards, the story that depends on it will likely fall apart, too. So, how do you get it right?

The old adage is to write what you know. But that wouldn't seem to apply to fantasy, since none of us have experienced hunting with a werewolf or partying with the Fey or riding a dragon (more's the pity). But experience doesn't have to be exact to be useful, and mine certainly played a large part in crafting my world. Of course, it helped that those experiences were partly in fantasyland. Literally.

Like a lot of people in Orlando, Florida, I worked my way through college at Walt Disney World. I was also part of the crew selected to help open Disneyland, Paris, mainly because of my appalling, lousy, no good, very bad French, which amazingly enough was still better than what the average Disney employee possessed--AKA none. French is not a language spoken frequently in Central Florida. Anyway, that gave me a chance to experience a theme park being built from the ground up. And while there are no theme parks in my novels, my experiences with Disney probably had a lot to do with why there is a magical casino named Dante's.

Dante's is a glowering heap on the Vegas Strip designed to look like a haunted house on the outside and various ideas of the underworld on the inside. It's a functioning hotel and casino, but it is also a way for the supernatural community of Vegas to gamble, drink and hide in plain sight, since the humans they encounter take them to be merely part of the ambiance. And since the eruption of a war in the magical community, it also serves as the headquarters of one of the factions in the fight.

It may seem like a stretch from Disney, the squeaky clean family vacation capital of the world, to Dante's, a den of supernatural vice, villainy and intrigue. But in fact, they have a lot in common. And I don't mean just the basic day-to-day workings of a massive entertainment complex, although knowledge of that sort of thing does help from time to time. But mostly I mean in its air of barely restrained chaos.

What, you say? Disney chaotic? But it always looks so organized. So calm. So perfect. And in many ways, it is. The fact that that tens of thousands of people are fed, entertained and subtly but effectively herded where Disney wants them to go each and every day is little short of miraculous. But behind the scenes, at least when I worked there, things were a lot less polished. Not to mention frequently more than a little...surreal.

Things like walking into a break room in Epcot Center and seeing Michael Jackson in the back, playing Ms. Packman. It took me a second to recognize him, since he was in normal clothes and sans bodyguards, entourage or anybody at all. Disney just kind of let him...wander around. I had to ask him to move so I could get into the ladies' room.

Or the time the parking attendants at Walt Disney World had a scheduling snafu that resulted in too many showing up for work on the same day. And that then resulted in them getting bored. Which they alleviated by parking all of the incoming cars in the huge Disney color. It worked great until the park closed and thousands of tourists who only knew that they had rented a white Buick--or a tan Honda or a blue Accord--emerged from the trams to discover themselves faced with row upon row of the exact same car. The old timer who told me that story said it took into the wee hours of the morning to sort it all out, since, of course, many of the tourists hadn't memorized their rental car's license number.

Or the time a bunch of drunk frat boys decided to celebrate graduation by dumping Pooh Bear into the moat around Cinderella's castle. Which, let's face it, would have been pretty damn funny. If Pooh wasn't wearing a giant and very heavy Pooh head that acted like an anchor. And if he'd known how to swim. (Don't worry, security fished him out before he went to the great theme park in the sky. And seriously, you haven't lived until you've seen Pooh bear soaking wet and cussing up a storm).

Or the time at Disneyland Paris, when another disgruntled character actor decided he'd had enough. And let Disney know about it by taking off everything but his giant Mickey head and then streaking down Main Street. At noon.

Ah, fun times.

So when people ask me how I come up with the talking shrunken heads at Dante's tiki bar, or the cocktail waitresses who get pinched by the animated, severed limbs that make up their skirts, or the famous but very dead performers in the lounge (zombie Hendricks or Elvis anyone?) I just smile. And say that it really doesn't take that much imagination at all.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Great Rescue of Carlos the Cow by Jenny Gardiner

There are a few truisms in the world that are often glossed over by the media's fixation on gloom and doom. Take, for example, this latest fiscal cliff nonsense, which occupied far too much mental space in people's brains for the past umpteen months. Believe it or not, Congress was always going to get it done. Just not in a reasonable time frame.

Long ago, in my blissful youth, I worked in the U.S. Senate. And I saw firsthand how even then, when Congress actually occasionally accomplished things, that they did it in the manner of a knuckle-dragging ape that had been hit with a tranquilizer dart: veerrrrryyyy slowly, and only after a period of complete paralysis. And usually with very little grace or good spirit.

I cannot tell you how often my life plans were thwarted by an annoyingly prickly group of cranky old farts (i.e. our elected officials), who waited till the eleventh-and-a-half hour to do the meager work for which they were voted into the office to do. Mostly they were too busy flying all over the world (yes, world) attending fundraisers to ensure their perpetual reelection, making it impossible to get any of them in one place long enough to agree on anything. Who knows? But I do know that dinnertime, holidays, summer vacation plans, you name it, were often kiboshed because Congress failed to do something they had to do on time.

Thus I never once worried that this fiscal cliff thing would lead to the end of the world as we know it. I knew that eventually those ne'er-do-wells in Washington would have to do halfway-well. Or at least act, a crazy notion for them. So in the upcoming now tritely-named "March Madness", i.e. Stage II version of the fiscal cliff, please, all, just turn of the news and ignore the gloom and doom. It'll get figured out.

The other thing the media loves to do is reinforce the concept that we live in a dark and distressful place in which bad is lurking around every corner. Okay, I'll grant you, there's plenty bad out there. But there's also plenty good. We just never hear about it. Because good does not successfully sell cars or Viagra or tax preparation services or Geico insurance, during the nightly news. Scary stuff does. So I'm here to regale you with a tale of good folks.

My college freshman daughter had a pillow in the shape of a cow with which she often traveled. It was compact, making it perfect for sleeping in cars, airplanes and busses. Plus, it held sentimental value, as it was a gift from a good friend years ago. Carlos, as this Pillow Pet had come to be known, joined us on a Thanksgiving trip to Turkey. It wasn't until we were at the airport to return home that my daughter realized she'd left Carlos at the hotel, which of course made her a bit sad, as she'd had Carlos for years, and it was, after all, a gift from a good friend.

Assuming Carlos was a goner, we nevertheless emailed the lovely manager at the small hotel in which we'd stayed, and tried to figure out a way to get Carlos home. At first he couldn't find him, but persisted in searching, until he unearthed the thing. But then we learned it would cost $100 to ship a $15 stuffed animal back to the States, which was out of the question, and naturally a bummer for our daughter, but she could deal with that.

But we got to thinking: we'd been visiting our other daughter who'd been studying in Europe, and surely there were American students studying in Turkey, and it was soon to be Christmas which meant students would return home, so maybe we could find an American in Turkey willing to courier Carlos back to the U.S.

At first we were unable to find any schools that had students in Istanbul at the time. I then considered the U.S. Consulate. After all, I'd had great success with them in Peru while trying to figure out my son's voting dilemma back in the fall. So I emailed the Consulate in Istanbul, assuming there'd be no way they'd retrieve some random person's stuffed animal: surely they'd seen Midnight Express and didn't want to end up on the wrong end of Turkish prison for smuggling drugs some bogus person might stuff into Carlos the Cow. I get that.

Amazingly, I got an email back from them, asking what hotel Carlos was being held in. Now this was an encouraging start. It wasn't an offer of assistance, per se, but certainly they were putting out feelers. Meantime, I contacted my other daughter's college, explaining the dilemma. I failed to mention the stuffed animal belonged to a college freshman, figuring that would kill any chances. Alas, they had no one in Istanbul. But then someone called back 10 minutes later to tell me after relaying the sweet tale of the girl's stuffed animal being stuck in Turkey, she learned students would be there for January term. At least Carlos had a (delayed) way back! Hallelujah! And then I started getting responses from other colleges who were also willing to help in the Carlos Retrieval Project. We had a host of helpers, willing to do a kind deed to help out a girl (albeit a grown one, a small detail I might have omitted) reunite with her Pillow Pet!

So I was happily orchestrating the least circuitous return route for Carlos, hoping to surprise our daughter for Christmas, when we found out some friends were taking a vacation over the holidays. To Turkey, believe it or not. Our lovely hotel manager volunteered to escort Carlos to our friends' hotel in another part of sprawling Istanbul, where he would enjoy a holiday with another family, soon to be reunited with his owner any day now.

In the end we had people kindly collaborating for the return of Carlos from several universities, a possible government hook-up, a sweet hotelier who spoke no English willing to go the extra mile to help out, and ultimately, friends willing to jam a stuffed pillow into their no-doubt overflowing 44-pound limit luggage, just to do a kind thing for someone. Granted some of them might have thought it was for a much younger someone, but we'll keep that our secret. While shouting from the rooftops that you know what? People are pretty darned awesome.

When not orchestrating overseas trips for wayward stuffed animals, Jenny Gardiner attempts to write books. She can be found at
  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
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