Sunday, June 30, 2013

Luanne Rice: The Lemon Orchard

        I wrote THE LEMON ORCHARD after moving to California, after a lifetime on the east coast.  The move shocked me—I needed to do it but am still not 100% sure why.  Nature, a sort of wilderness missing in my life, summoned me.  I left New York City and settled on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains.  I have one lemon tree in my yard, but a whole orchard grew in my imagination.

        The deck at the new house needed repairing, so I hired someone who wound up inspiring the character of Roberto.  He is from Mexico, an undocumented worker who crossed the border through the desert.  What strikes me most is how much he misses his family back home.  His grandmother raised him, and he calls her “Mom,” and now she is old and getting sick, but he can’t visit her because he doesn’t have papers.

        I am touched by that fact.  My ancestors were Irish immigrants.  They traveled here by ship—a long, arduous journey—and never returned home again.  I’m interested in how we all make our way, what we leave behind, what we sacrifice for a better life.  People throughout time and place share feelings of loss, love, desire, hope.  The characters in THE LEMON ORCHARD are from “different worlds”—but not really.  The landscape of the human heart is the same everywhere.

        Life is funny, and never one thing or the other.  I came to this part of the California coast in search wilderness, and I found it.  Yet within the wild place I discovered peace, love, common ground.  Like many migrants before me, I moved very far away to arrive at home.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Jacqueline Diamond: What’s So Fascinating About the Regency?

Romance readers and writers are drawn to specific historic places and periods, including the American Civil War and the Scottish struggle for independence. One of the most popular—if not the most popular—is the English Regency.

It was short—formally, the Regency lasted from 1811 to 1820, when King George III became so ill that his son ruled in his stead as Prince Regent. Why is this brief span so dear to readers’ hearts? The reasons expressed here are solely my own.

--Reason #1 is Jane Austen (1775-1817). This beloved author set the tone for the romance genre with her unforgettable characters in Pride and Prejudice, and other novels.

--Reason #2 was the change in fashion. Under Beau Brummell’s influence, male fashions transitioned from the ornate to beautifully tailored, darkly masculine clothing, with trousers replacing knee breeches. Women’s fashions became freer and lighter, as style leaders abandoned brocades and panniers for Grecian simplicity. Their bodies remained free for only a few years until the starchier Victorian era.

--Reason #3—Ideas were also becoming more modern. The common folk of America and France had won their revolutions. In 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women, with the then-stunning premise that women were equal to men.

--Reason #4—The Regency was packed with fascinating people. In addition to Austen, Napoleon and Brummell, there were poets Lord Byron (described as “mad, bad and dangerous to know”), Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his young wife, Mary Shelley, whose 1918 novel, Frankenstein, launched the science fiction genre.

--Reason #5. The Regency romance is, to me, a fresh take on the Cinderella theme. My Regencies, from Lady in Disguise to A Lady of Letters, play on the theme of the disadvantaged young woman who seizes the initiative and wins the rich, handsome hero, as well as the respect of others.

With Lee’s help, I’ll be giving away two ebook copies of Lady in Disguise (or you can choose one of my other Regencies). Question: Do you read Regencies? Why? Do you prefer the traditional kind, or the sexier variation?


Jacqueline Diamond’s 97 published novels include romantic comedy, medical romances, mysteries and half a dozen Regency romances. One of these, The Forgetful Lady, was a finalist for the Rita Award. A former reporter and TV columnist for the Associated Press, Jackie received a Career Achievement Award from Romantic Times. You can learn about all her Regencies at

***Jackie's winners are Pat Cochran and Barbara E!  Please email so we can get the ebooks to you!***

Friday, June 28, 2013

Megan Hart: Tear Yourself Apart

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I don’t think there’s an author who ever existed who doesn’t get that question. My usual answer is “I buy them in bulk from Costco.” But here’s a little secret, between you and me…I don’t, actually. The truth is, I steal them.

Yep. I’m a thief. All my story ideas come from life. Things I see or hear, stories other people tell me about what they’ve seen and heard or done. Everything goes into the vast compost heap of my brain and gets stirred around until something pops out.

“Do you do everything you write about?”

As an author of erotic fiction, perhaps I get this question more than someone who writes mystery or science fiction, but it always makes me laugh and shake my head. “Yes,” I say. “Sometimes twice or upside down.” But of course I don’t do everything I write about! Who’d have time? My goodness, it’s hard enough to write books and do all the other stuff my life requires like eat, sleep and talk to other human beings — how on earth would I find the time to do everything I write about?

“How do you decide what to write about?”

“Write what you know” is another of those bits of advice authors get (or like to give to newbie writers!) — and I’ll argue that’s not entirely accurate. I’d say that I don’t always write what I know, but I always write what I can imagine. I write what I wish would happen to me, or what I fear happening to me. Sometimes those are the same things. I write what I have experienced and what I hope I never have to face.

Those are the top three questions I get asked, and the truth is, all three are sort of the same question. HOW DO YOU WRITE? And really, there is no simple answer to that. Every writer does it differently, and there’s no magic potion, there is no special club or secret handshake, there is no One True Way. Oh, sure, you’ll get those who want to convince you that there is (usually their way = the OTW) or that if you just manage to do everything on a specific check list, you too can write your very! Own! Novel!

Believe me, it ain’t that easy. Most things that are worthwhile aren’t. Writing my September release, Tear You Apart, was a hideous experience. Compared to other books in which every single word had to be dragged up, hand over hand, from the mind-well, you’d imagine that being able to type for an hour and realize I’d written an entire chapter would’ve been gratifying. In many ways, much of the novel came out without effort, in that when I sat down to work on it, the words flew out. But each of those words felt like a dagger piercing me all over in my soft and tender places. I was emotionally drained. Satisfied, yes, but shredded. Tear You Apart is perhaps some of my darkest work, emotionally, and yet I feel like it’s also maybe some of my best.

In my experience, the only way to write a novel is to tear yourself apart. Dig deep and find all those things you’d rather were kept in the dark. Mine your emotions and strip yourself, layer by layer, to get at all the stuff that makes great books great. Because at the heart of it, all great fiction springs from emotion. Fear, love, hate, joy. The genre doesn’t matter.

In the end, it’s all about how it makes us feel.

Excerpt from Tear Yourself Apart:
The piece is simple. Carved, polished wood. There's no real form or figure, though the piece is evocative of a woman's body. The smooth curve of hip and thigh and belly and breasts, the curl and twist of hair. It's not a woman, but it feels like one. Without thinking, I touch it. She feels like a woman. My fingers curl against my palm as I take my hand away. I shouldn't have touched it. Oils from my fingers could harm the finish. It's not a museum piece, but even so, it's not right to ruin it.
And Will is right. I like this one. I have no place for something like that in my home, but suddenly, I want it.
"Do you know who did it?" I'm already looking for the artist's card.
Will says nothing. I look at him, thinking he'll be smiling, but he's not. He's studying me.
"I knew you'd like that one."
My body tenses. I'm not sure if I don't like the way he says it, or if I like it too much. Either way, I frown. "You sound so proud."
Will looks at the piece of carved wood that shouldn't look like anything but looks like a woman. "I like to figure out what people like. I mean, it's important, you know? For an artist who wants to sell his shit."
"Is that what it's about, for you? Selling things? I thought real artists wanted know. Make art."
He laughs, low. "Sure. But I'm also into paying my rent and eating. Not many people can live on art."
Not many of the people displaying here in Naveen's gallery tonight, anyway. New York city has galleries like this all over the place. Competition's fierce. I told him to keep his Philly gallery, but he insisted on branching out. I'm still not sure this one's going to make it.
" like to know what people like, so you can sell them things."
"Sure." Will's grin is a little sly. "And I was right about you. Wasn't I?"
"Yes." For some reason, I'm reluctant to admit it.
He nods like I just revealed a secret. Maybe I have. "You like things smooth."
I take a step away from him. How could he know that? Hell. Until a few minutes ago, I'm not sure I knew it.
Will nods again. "Yeah. Smooth. And curved. You don't like sharp things. Angles and shit. You don't like it when there are points."
"Who does?" My voice is anything but smooth.
"Some people do." Will looks again at the carved wood. "You should buy it. It would make you happy."
My laugh snags, like a burr. "Who says I need to be happy?"
"Everyone needs to be happy, Elisabeth," Will says.
Oh, my name.
When he says my name, I see it in shimmering shades of blue and green and gray. Those are not my colors. I'm red and orange and yellow. Brown. My name is autumn moving on toward winter darkness, but not the way Will says it. When he says my name, I see summer. I see the ocean.
Blinking hard, I have to look away from him. My breath catches in my throat. I'm sure I can't speak, not even one word.

I was born and then I lived awhile. Then I did some stuff and other things. Now, I mostly write books. Some of them use a lot of bad words, but most of the other words are okay.  I can’t live without music, the internet, the ocean or Coke Zero. I can’t stand the feeling of corduroy or velvet, and modern art leaves me cold. I write a little bit of everything from horror to romance, and I don’t answer to the name “Meg.”
Read in bed!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bottle Trees and Public Gardens

When I was a child, I remember seeing pictures of "bottle trees" and I was very taken with both the shape and the name. They came from Western Australia (WA) and Queensland, which was a very long way from where I lived in the east coast; in fact I live closer to New Zealand than I do to WA.

So imagine my surprise when I visited the botanical gardens in the town near to where I live and I find that the "Australian" garden section has the Boab trees! These trees are unique and their shape is why they were nicknamed, "bottle trees."

They store water in their 'bottle" trunk.For more information about these trees click here at .

Back in the day, in 1851 to be precise, when the botanical gardens were created, not one single native Australian plant was planted. Back then, it was set out to be very British. Fast forward 180 years and times have changed. Now there is a 'heritage' garden, which recognises the origins of the gardens and the entrance is now the '21st Century' garden. This garden celebrates 'arid' plants from around the world.

These metal 'trees' are pretty crazy!Public gardens are a lovely and peaceful place to visit. I have visited the Singapore Botanical gardens, the Butchart Gardens in Vancouver, Central Park in New York, Hyde Park in London and loved them all.

Do you visit gardens when you are on vacation or do you visit gardens in your home town? I'd love to hear about them!

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 websitefacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

Saved By The Bride is the first novel in the Wedding Fever trilogy. To follow the story of Annika and Finn, Bridey and Hank and the quirky folk of Whitetail, head to AmazonKobo, Nook, Carina Press and all other places eBooks are sold. Picture Perfect Wedding is available for pre-order and is out August 2013. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Susan Crandall: Fear of Flying? Or Fear of Failing?

Why is it when something really thrilling happens to us (or maybe it’s just me?), it evokes two opposite (thankfully not equal) reactions?  When dreams come true and prayers are answered, why do we not simply embrace the upside and ignore completely the possible downside?  I think of myself as an optimist, I really do.  But right now I feel a bit as if I’m skating on thin ice … flying along, doing amazing figures and leaps, but with an eye to the dark water lurking beneath the ice.

I’ve been writing for, well, I’ll admit it, 20 years now.  I’ve been published regularly for the past 10.  See, there’s the proof.  If I wasn’t a certifiable optimist, I never would have made it through to the second ten.  During those first 10, I’d thought if only someone would publish my book, it would be totally amazing.  No downside.  I thought all writers’ careers went forward, tortoise or hare, but forward.  But after my first book was published (BACK ROADS, mass market paperback), I learned more about the realities of publishing.  I did embrace the good and wonderful, certainly; but now I understood that beneath that ice was some darn chilly water.  What if everyone hates my book?  What if it doesn’t sell?  What if, what if, whatif, whatif whatifwhatif…?  The book got awards.  It did sell.  So all of that what-iffing was so unnecessary.  And totally unproductive.  It’s certain, the what-iffing didn’t bring the awards, or the sales.

So, I’ve learned my lesson.  Or have I? WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD, my “breakout” novel, is due to be released on July 2nd.  What is happening right now is beyond my wildest dreams.  I wrote a book that stepped outside genre fiction, so far out I wasn’t sure any publisher would buy it.  But at that point, I was having so much fun writing the story of fiery nine-year-old Starla Claudelle that I was able to ignore that particular what if.  Gallery Books/Simon and Schuster bought it on proposal—see it’s good I didn’t waste my energy on that particular what if.  Once it was finished, they loved it too (hooray!).  So much, they decided to change the publication format from trade paperback to hardcover.  Hardcover!  Oh, my.  What if the cover is bad?  What if it doesn’t get good publisher support?  What if nobody likes it?  (This is an echo from my first published book that comes around every time I have a new release.)  What if it languishes on the now-discounted tables, sad and unread?  What if it is successful and my next book can’t live up to it?

Here’s the reality.  It has a fantastic cover.  The publisher has given it phenomenal support, amazing support.  It was a success with advanced readers.  It’s on IndieBound’s Indie Next List for July.  It’s a SIBA Okra pick.  My cousin just called to tell me she saw it in Southern Living Magazine.  I’m skating!  I’m flying!  Did I just hear the ice crack?  It’s still possible that it could languish on the now-discounted tables.  It’s still possible that my next book will pale in comparison.  But has my worry about the possible downside changed anything thus far?  No, but it has given me a raging case of heartburn.

Well, here’s a what if:  What if I’d listened to those fears and decided it wasn’t worth the possibility of failure?  What if I’d let those what ifs paralyze me to the point that I wouldn’t take the chance?  Dreams are risky.  But where would we be without them?  So now, today, I pledge to close my eyes to the possible downside.  I know it sounds easy right now, since things have turned out well thus far … in truth, that can make it even scarier, the disappointment more stinging should it come. 

My fears do me no earthly good.  All that worry didn’t make this book what it is; it was my love of writing and dedication to my craft that was responsible for that—and a good dose of luck, which, of course, no amount of worry can produce.  So when I close this file, I’m throwing the possible downsides away.  I am going to enjoy whatever comes with Starla and WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD.  The truth is, I love this book for reasons that have nothing at all to do with circumstances outside my control.  And that’s what I’ll embrace as I begin writing my next book, the pure love of writing, and I will not look for a possible downside.

Dreams and fears go hand in hand.  Don’t let the former be stifled by the latter.  ’Nuff said.

WHISTLING PAST THE GRAVEYARD: A coming of age story set in 1963 Mississippi.  Spunky, impetuous nine-year-old Starla is being raised by a strict paternal grandmother.  Starla’s daddy works on an oil rig in the Gulf, and she hasn’t seen her momma since she was three—when Momma went to Nashville to become a famous singer.  She’s waiting for the day Momma’s promise will come true; Starla and her daddy will move to Nashville and live in a big house and her family once again be whole and perfect.  But Starla can’t stay out of trouble, when the threat of reform school inches closer to reality, Starla runs away to Nashville with no preparation.  She’s picked up on the road by Eula Littleton, a black woman she’s never met.  The two set off on a road trip packed with both adventure and danger.  Starla’s eyes are opened to the wider world as she discovers something unexpected inside her own heart.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Marin Thomas: The Cash Brothers: Sibling Rivalry

I love writing for Harlequin American Romance because I get to write about cowboys, kids and family drama! It wasn't until I wrote Dexter: Honorable Cowboy (July 2010) that I realized just how much fun sibling rivalry is to write.  Dexter was a twin and he and Dusty got into it a few times over a girl and not just with words…fists, too!  So you know all about sibling rivalry—right?  My brother, who’s only a year older than me was a big tease and our poor mother broke up more fights between us than you can imagine.  Ever been snapped by a wet dish towel? My brother drew blood one night and we ended up on the kitchen floor wrestling and my mother had to wedge a broom stick between our bodies to separate us!  Thank goodness we outgrew the fighting and now we have a great time telling “remember when” stories when we get together.

The Cash Brothers series is about six brothers all named after Country-and-western legends by their eccentric mother whose lifelong search for her soul mate left each of her sons with different fathers. The brothers are as follows in order of their books….Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty Cash, Willie (Will) Nelson Cash, Buck Owens Cash, Merle (Mack) Haggard Cash and Porter Wagoner Cash.

The idea to give the six Cash brothers their own series came to me when I wrote a scene in their sister's book, A Cowboy's Duty (Aug 2012) In this scene the over-protective brothers return home to find their little sister Dixie in the shower with the hero, Gavin Tucker.

  "Dixie?"  Johnny pounded on the bathroom door.
Gavin wrapped Dixie in a towel then tied one around his waist before opening the door.  She peeked over Gavin's shoulder.  Johnny stood in the hallway holding Gavin's clothes.  Before anyone had a chance to speak the rest of her brothers skidded to a stop in the doorway. 
"Well, now.  That's a cozy sight."  Willie expelled a grunt after Buck jabbed an elbow into his stomach.
Poor Buck.  Finding his baby sister almost naked with a man was more than his prudish brain could process.  "I didn't expect you until later tonight," she said.
"Obviously."  Porter snickered.
Gavin raised his hand.  "Before you interrogate your sister, give us some privacy to—"
"The last thing you two need is more privacy."  Johnny shoved Gavin's clothes at him.  "You're supposed to save that stuff for the honeymoon."
Conway came to Dixie's defense.  "She's twenty-three, Johnny.  Old enough to have sex.  Hell, you were poking Ilene back in ninth grade.  She was only—"
"Shut up, Conway."
"No you shut up, Johnny.  Just because you’re the oldest doesn’t mean you can—"
"Hey," Willie interrupted.  "Is that why Ilene wouldn’t go to the school dance with me when I asked her?  Because you were banging her in Grandpa's truck?"
Buck interrupted before Johnny had a chance to defend himself.  "Didn’t Grandpa find a condom on the floor of the backseat of his truck?"
"Shoot.  Grandpa accused me of having sex with a girl.  All along it was you."  Willie shoved his finger in Johnny's chest.
"That was years ago.  Besides, you never liked Ilene because she had small…you know."  Johnny's face turned red.
"I wouldn’t have cared if her boobs were no bigger than pecan nuts if she'd have let me under her skirt," Will said.
"I thought you were in love with Marsha, Will?"  Merle joined the conversation.  "You said Marsha was your first love?"
"When did I say that?" Willie argued.
"When you got drunk two years ago and Merle had to haul your ass out of the bar," Johnny said.  "You were foaming at the mouth about some girl named Marsha in your high school class." 
Dixie chanced a peek at Gavin and found him staring at her brothers in fascination.  She supposed he'd never seen anything the likes of a Cash brothers' argument.  Growing up an only child Gavin had missed out on all the action Dixie had seen in her younger years.
"Are we talking about Marsha Bugler?" Buck asked.
It amazed Dixie that no matter how loud or raucous her brothers became Buck's quiet voice always caught their attention. 
"Yeah, that's the Marsha we're talking about.  Why?" Johnny asked.
"Marsha and I were friends," Buck said.
"Friends?"  Willie scoffed.  "She never mentioned you when we were together."  Willie's eyes narrowed.  "Just how good of friends were you?"
"Good enough that she told me you’d gotten her pregnant."
Dixie gasped and her brothers' jaws dropped. 


The Cowboy Next Door (Johnny Cash) will be released July 1st and we're celebrating all week long through an online event at The Triple D Ranch in Stagecoach, Arizona.  You can sign up for the event HERE.  For those of you who love Pinterest… #TheCashBrothersJohnnyCash Pin It To Win It Contest is going on right now.  Visit Marin Thomas on Pinterest to see the Contest Board or Visit The Cash Brothers FB Page for details on what to pin to your board. It's not too late to enter so name your board #TheCashBrothersJohnnyCash and start pinning! M-F b(July 1-5) Amazon Gift Cards will be given out for most creative board in each category with a grand prize on Friday for most creative board over all. 

Speaking of prizes…I'm giving away a signed copy of The Cowboy Next Door to one lucky winner.  Comment on the following question and your name will be entered into the drawing… Do you have a sibling-rivalry memory—if so, what did you and your brother or sister fight about?  I’ll be back on Sunday  June 30th  to announce the winner!    

Hope to see you all at the Triple D Ranch!
Best Wishes,

Find Marin on the Internet

Monday, June 24, 2013

Roxann Delaney: The Heart of Small Towns

Each reader has his or her own favorite setting for stories.  For me, it’s small towns, and I love writing about them.
I was born and raised (to the age of twelve) in a city with a population of around 200,000, although it’s much larger now.  Soon after turning twelve, my parents and I moved to a small town, where my mother’s family had settled in 1886.  I lived there until I married, twelve years later, and then lived on a farm for twenty-four years.  I’m back in the city again, but let’s face it, those years between twelve and twenty-four are the most memorable of my growing-up years.  When we moved there, the population was approximately 1200.  Definitely small town America.
So what’s so great about small towns?  It’s easy to know nearly everyone.  Or at least have an idea of who someone is.  Community events are attended by many, and school events are the most popular.  Most children can walk to school, although I’ll be honest and say that by the time I was in high school, friends who had cars would take me to school.  And I lived across the street from the football field!  A five-minute walk. ;)  In the summer, I would walk to the swimming pool or the park to watch a Little League baseball game, and later wander to a friend’s house or downtown to grab a soda.  It was safe.  It was comfortable.  And in many places, it still is.
As kids growing up in a small town, we knew not only our classmates, but their siblings and parents, too.  The small, local newspaper at that time had a column about friends visiting friends, a trip to visit relatives, visitors to their homes and all kinds of fun tidbits aka town gossip.  People in the town—the community—were part of our lives.  People married, babies were born and people died, and we all knew about it quickly.  It had that close-knit feeling of family.
Of course there’s the downside of a small town.  Gossip can spread like wildfire, and people can sometimes know too much about your life.  There’s also the problem of not being able to get away with something as a child or teen (or even an adult!), because someone is going to know the truth.  There’s one grocery store in town, no big clothing store (definitely not a Walmart), a couple of taverns, and two, maybe three small cafes.  Class sizes in the schools are small, so teachers know who your parents are and aren’t afraid to tell them how good or bad you’re doing, even when they meet on the street.
Good or bad, these are the things that become inspiration for stories.  For me, the result is a series of eight books set in Desperation, a fictional town in Oklahoma.  Five years of writing about the characters who live there gives me the feeling of being back in that small town where I grew to adulthood.  I hope I’ve been able to share with readers the warmth that I once felt.
Yes, I do know a little about small towns.  Will I write a story set in a big city?  Someday.  But small town charm has claimed my heart.
I’d love to learn your favorite settings and why, so feel free to share them, whether big cities, small towns, foreign countries or even the past or future.  One winner of an autographed copy of DESIGNS ON THE COWBOY (June 2013) will be chosen from the comments.

Learn more about Desperation and me on my website, my blog-Diary of a Mad Romance Writer, or visit me on Facebook or Facebook Page, and sometimes even Twitter @roxdelaney.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Boone Brux: Skin Deep

I don’t know how many times over the years I’ve been asked or thought about the question ‘If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be?’

It’s a question that boggles my mind. Of course my first thought is instantly about my weight. I’m a fluffy girl and the thought of never having to watch what I eat gives me the same rush I get when I’m in a craft store. So many choices. On the other hand the thought of not having to watch what I eat scares the crap out of me. The sheer fact that I have a bit of girth is the same reason I try and eat healthy. If I could eat a box of glazed donuts and not gain a pound, I’d probably be dead in two years from clogged arteries.

Next idea is firmer boobs. Wow, no need for a Wonderbra, Boob Glue, or no-stretch straps. But then I wonder, wouldn’t that look weird when I’m eighty-six? Maybe I’m old fashioned, but geriatric boobs should show a little sag. It’s like putting the front end of a Jaguar on the back end of an old station wagon. I could hear the comments now. “Nice headlights, but the back end needs some serious body work.

So many choices. A smaller butt ? Then my thighs would look huge. Shapelier calves, smaller feet, blue eyes, straighter teeth, thicker hair. Who can decide?

Nikki, my heroine in Suddenly Beautiful was lucky enough not to have to. For six years she’s been hiding her beauty under sensible jackets and no-nonsense hairstyles. Thanks to a night of sweet lovin’ with her billionaire boss, Nikki’s demi-goddess mojo kicks in. One of the perks? Head-turning beauty.

It would have been easy to go overboard with her looks. We’re talking Greek gods and goddesses after all. But no, I stayed away from the glowing eyes or hair that sparkled like diamonds and simply wrote more of what she already had.

So since I’m not Nikki, or a demi-goddess, and if I had to pick one thing I would physically change, it would be to have flawless skin. Weight I can lose. Boobs I can buy, but these crow’s feet and sun damage are really cramping my mojo.

So how about you? Tell me what’s the one thing you would physically change about yourself, because we already know you’re wonderful inside, for the chance to win an e-copy of Suddenly Beautiful.

The contest will run for a week, so you have plenty of time to wow me with your answers.

Thanks so much for stopping in and remember, beauty is skin deep, but goddess is to the bone.

Happy Reading!


Blurb for Suddenly Beautiful:
Being the son of Aphrodite isn’t a walk in the clouds. Rebelling against his demi-god status, billionaire make-up mogul Toraos Stephanos fights to separate his personal life and the immortal world by swearing off demi-god girlfriends forever. Too bad his newest employee can't take the hint.

Though Nikki secretly pines for her smoking hot boss, no way will she jeopardize her job and independence professing her love to a guy so clearly out of her league. Too bad that leaves her with only imagining him naked and thinking evil thoughts about the new girl. 

After a single bottle of Ambrosia and one night of passion... Nikki finally thinks she has a chance with the man of her dreams. But the next morning, Tor pretends like nothing happened, leaving Nikki with an emerging drive for combat—after all, turns out she is the daughter of Ares and she's about to make her mama proud.

All is fair in love and war... and Nikki's not about to let anyone forget it.

Boone Brux is the author of several books ranging from high fantasy to humorous paranormal.

A former nanny, Boone has lived all over the world, finally settling in the icy region of Alaska, where she writes full time. Always looking for the next adventure, it’s not unusual to find her traversing the remotest parts of the Alaskan bush. No person or escapade is off limits when it comes to weaving real life experiences into her books or blogs.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Laura Drake: Cowboys, Motorcycles, and Forgiveness

As you might guess from the above, I’m a bit eclectic (a term I prefer over ‘eccentric,’ or worse yet, ‘odd.’) My Sweet on a Cowboy series is set in a world I know a lot about – professional bull riding. Which makes little sense for a city girl from Detroit.  But when my Texan husband took me to my first rodeo years ago, I fell in love.

I was entranced by the bull riding, which seemed to me a combination of danger and ballet. I’m in awe of the courage of men who try to stay on a ton of attitude that wants to throw them in the dirt, and dance on their bones. And then there’s wrangler-clad cowboy butt in chaps – whew.  I mean, seriously, what woman doesn’t love a cowboy? I’ve even joined the PBR fan club, and the last fan club I was a member of was for a cartoon mouse, for cripes sakes!

But The Sweet Spot is more than a cowboy romance.  It’s an emotional story first, about two people dealing with real-life problems, and rediscovering love at the end of a long dirt road. Charla Rae Denny’s role as a traditional ranch wife and mother fits her like custom-tailored Wranglers. But when her only son is killed in a tragic accident, Char retreats to a world of grief and Valium. Her reeling husband takes up with a blonde buckle bunny half his age. Their ranch, which supplies bucking bulls to the Pro Bull Riding circuit, is split up in the divorce.

All her county fair ribbons won’t help Charla now. She’s alone, addicted, ill-equipped, and has no one to blame but herself. In spite of her fear of horses and smelly cows, she stands up, takes off her apron, and learns to run a ranch. She and Jimmy have lost their way. But through months of hard work, tears, and some hard knocks, they both learn to forgive — themselves and each other. They work to find their way back to the sweet spot.

Oh, and speaking of odd – er – eclectic, the other obsession I write about is motorcycling. Only this in one, I’m an active participant! I own two motorcycles, Elvis, and Sting, and have put over 100,000 miles on them, traveling the back roads of the west. My ‘biker-chick’ romance, Her Road Home, is due out from Harlequin’s Superromance line in August.

Me on Elvis
Okay, so your turn. Tell me I’m not the only one out there with different tastes! What do you like that’s ‘off the beaten path?’

Have you ever tried something you were afraid to do? Did you like it? Would you do it again?

Me on the Yamaha

Friday, June 21, 2013

Zoe Archer: Book Series

Book series.  They’re pretty much everywhere nowadays.  Almost every romance novel is part of a series.  Sometimes the series centers around a group of paranormal warriors.  Sometimes the central idea is a workplace, like a bakery.  Sometimes, the books are about a group of siblings.  But it’s nearly impossible now to find books that aren’t part of an ongoing series.

Standalone romances used to be the norm, but at some point, they became more and more rare.  How did this happen? 

I can’t cite specific statistics or point to a particular year and say “This is when series began to dominate romance,” but I do remember as far back as Jude Devereaux’s Montgomery novels, and Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels series that they already had a foothold in the ‘80s and ‘90s.  but why did they become so popular?

We can be cynical and say that book series are just marketing ploys to get readers invested, and compel them to pick up the next novel.  Part of that is true—books in series seem more effective in prolonging an author’s readership. 

But that’s not the whole story.  Readers really do seem to enjoy books that feature characters who show up in later novels to have their own story.  They like the continuity, and how a world (even a historical world) can be developed over many books instead of just one.  And then there’s the anticipation of waiting for the next book, which can be a mixed blessing if you just can’t wait! 

SWEET REVENGE is the first book in my new Nemesis, Unlimited historical romance series.  The premise for the series is fairly straightforward: Nemesis is a secret organization that metes out justice for those who can’t get it for themselves.  And in Victorian England, where the rich and powerful rule, there are a lot of people left without recourse when they are wronged.  I have to admit that part of my inspiration for these books came from television series, including Burn Notice, Leverage, and the original A-Team (with George Peppard and Mr. T!).  So I was already thinking in terms of a group of people who worked for the cause of justice, and each of them would eventually get their own book.

Of course, because these are romance novels, each Nemesis operative finds love in the midst of the action and adventure.  Even two characters as dissimilar as Eva Warrick, a missionary’s daughter turned tutor turned Nemesis agent, and Jack Dalton, a street-raised bare knuckle brawler who’s also an escaped convict, can discover explosive attraction.  And if you just so happen to be intrigued by the other members of Nemesis, well…so much the better. *wink*

So, my question to you is this: do you prefer books in series, or do you miss the days of stand-alone novels?  One commenter will win a copy of SWEET REVENGE (US and Canada only).

Sweet Revenge: A Nemesis, Unlimited Novel
Book 1
The first in a breathtaking new series about the dangerous business of undercover revenge—and the undeniable pleasure of passion…
In the business of vengeance
When Jack Dalton escapes from Dunmoor Prison, he has only one thing in mind—finding the nobleman who murdered his sister and making him pay. But when he reaches the inn where the Lord Rockley is rumored to be staying, three well-dressed strangers are there to meet him instead. And the pretty blonde is aiming a pistol right at his head …
Desire is always dangerous
Joining Nemesis, Unlimited has made Eva Warrick much more than the well-mannered lady she appears to be—one who can shoot, fight, and outsmart any man in the quest to right the injustices so often suffered by the innocent. She’s not afraid of the burly escaped convict, but she is startled by their shared attraction. She and her partners need Jack’s help to get to Rockley, but Eva finds she wants Jack for scandalous reasons all her own…
Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master's degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her new gritty Victorian romance series, NEMESIS, UNLIMITED, launches this Spring.  Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.

To buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Chapters Indigo, Books A Million

***Zoe's winner is Nancy Fields!  Please email with your mailing address!***

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dianne Duvall: Immortal Guardians: It’s Family Thing

I’m a longtime paranormal romance fan with numerous PNR books packed into my keeper shelves.  And, whether the stories are light and funny or dark and intense, almost every paranormal romance I’ve read contained a common theme:  that living forever isn’t such a great thing if one has no one with whom to share the experience.  Seth, the eldest and leader of my Immortal Guardians, agrees.  So he and the second eldest immortal — David — have gone to great lengths to cultivate a familial atmosphere among the immortals they oversee. 

Almost every Immortal Guardian, each of whom spends his or her nights hunting and destroying psychotic vampires, is assigned a human assistant (Second), not just for practicality’s sake — even in today’s society, there are still a number of tasks and business transactions that can only be taken care of during daylight hours — but also for companionship.  Seth and David also both open their homes to all immortals and their Seconds, so they can gather together any time they wish to and have a family that will always be there for them.

And they are like a family.  There’s Roland, hero of Darkness Dawns, whom I suppose some might consider the grumpy uncle:

“I’m not antisocial.  I just want to be left alone.”

Roland was betrayed so many times in the past by those he trusted that he shut himself off and kept his distance from others for centuries . . . until Sarah charged into his life and utterly entranced him with the love and laughter she brought with her.

“My life was so barren before we met, Sarah.  I couldn’t feel anything anymore.  Didn’t let myself feel anything.”  Reaching up, he stroked her lovely face.  “Then you came along with your courage and teasing and passion and woke me up.”

Ami, the heroine of Night Reigns, would be the heartbreaker of the group.  Having barely survived a torturous past, she still strives to overcome the fear it instilled in her.  Quiet and shy, she’s nevertheless ferocious on the battlefield . . . and affects Marcus, who is battling his own demons, is unexpected ways when she is named his Second.

“I know what it is to grieve.”

And there was something in her voice, as she continued, that made his steps slow, then halt altogether.  Something that seemed to resonate in the dark, hollow void that now resided deep inside him.

“I know what it is to lose your compass.  To suddenly find yourself floundering without direction, far from the path you were treading.  How . . . exhausting it can be, knowing you’ll never find that path again, to just trudge forward anyway, forcing one foot in front of the other again and again in what feels like an utterly useless endeavor.  I know what it is to live without hope.”

Then there’s Bastien, hero of Phantom Shadows

The black sheep of the immortal family.  The weird cousin no one wanted to invite to Thanksgiving dinner, but did anyway out of some grudging sense of obligation, hoping all the while that he wouldn’t come or that his flight would be cancelled.

Bastien is indeed the black sheep.  In fact, when the series began, Bastien was the villain.  He actually raised an army of vicious vampires and pitted them against the Immortal Guardians, intending to defeat them, so . . . his entrance into the immortals’ ranks has not gone smoothly.

Seth and David, as the eldest, are naturally the father figures.  And, while they’re both incredibly powerful and can be quite terrifying when angered, both are subjected to the same teasing the rest enjoy as in Darkness Rises:

Admit it,” Chris said.  “You’re both just a couple of old farts who are technologically challenged.”


“Admitted without shame.”

My Immortal Guardians have their ups.  They have their downs.  They razz and tease each other.  They lift each other up if one falters.  Sometimes they do both at once as Seth did to Marcus in Night Reigns:

Seth shook his head.  “One should never only feel alive when one is faced with the possibility of death.”

Damn.  How did Seth read him so well?  “I’m fine,” he insisted once more, not knowing why he still pushed the lie.  He hadn’t felt fine in a long time.

“You are not fine.  But you will be.  Even if I have to kick your ass every night to get you there.”

“How is kicking my ass going to help?” Marcus grouched.

Seth shrugged.  “Makes me feel better.”

Tempers flare.  They bicker and get snippy with each other, something that was bound to occur when Bastien began to play a more prominent role in the group in Phantom Shadows:

“You’re just pissed because he managed to get past you and all of your men and kidnap Sarah, taking her right out from under your noses.”

Heavy silence took the room.

Really?  Was that it?  Was that the bug, so to speak?

Melanie studied Chris’s reddening face and decided, yes, that was definitely the bug.

“Actually,” Bastien said slowly, “he’s pissed because, while I stole Sarah right out from under his nose, I broke that nose and shattered several bones in his face, knocking him unconscious before he could get off a single shot or give a shout out to warn the rest of his men.”

Ooh.  That was . . .  That was not good. 

Chris’s face turned positively purple.

Sarah cleared her throat.  “If it helps, I didn’t see Bastien coming either.”

Darnell grinned.  “Yeah, but you managed to shoot him twice and stab him in the ass.”

Laughter erupted.

Seth held his hands up.  “All right.  All right.  Settle down.  We’re all glad Sarah stabbed Bastien in the ass.”

Young or old.  Social or antisocial.  Taciturn or jovial.  Beloved or barely tolerated.  All of my Immortal Guardians thrive in the family setting they’ve created.  I hope you’ll enjoy the love and laughter they share while they meet the many challenges that arise.  :-)


One winner will receive a signed copy of my latest release — Predatory, an anthology that includes my Immortal Guardians novella In Still Darkness — plus some Immortal Guardians swag. 

Find Me on the Internet


Four of today's most exciting paranormal authors take readers into the thrilling realm of vampires, immortals, and other supernatural beings with a thirst for illicit desire...

Out Of Control by Alexandra Ivy

Ph.D student Angela Locke has a crush on her sexy professor, Dr. Nikolo Bartrev. When she learns he's actually a Sentinel with extraordinary powers, she joins forces with him to catch a psychopath. But soon, their hottest pursuit is of each other...

Ties That Bind by Nina Bangs

Cassie Tyler agrees to sub for her friend at the funeral home where she works. But she gets more than she bargained for when a group of men attack her and a vampire comes to her rescue. . .

In Still Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Immortal Richart d'Alençon can't forget the woman who rewarded him with a sensuous kiss after he saved her from a trio of vampires. While Richart knows that loving a human can only bring trouble, the taste of forbidden lust is too great to resist. . .

High Stakes by Hannah Jayne

When vampire fashionista Nina LaShay's design contest rival is found dead, she's the prime suspect. Sexy photographer Pike is number two. He's the kind of man who makes Nina salivate. But will she have to reveal herself to have him--and to save them both? Or does Pike have a secret of his own?

***Dianne's winner is Sonia Christina!  Please email with your full mailing address.***