Monday, March 31, 2014

Christine D'Abo: Twisting History

I love history. I love discovering not only about significant events and the people who impacted them, but the day to day lives of the people who lived there. When I first started out as a writer, I tried to turn my hand at historical romances. While I loved reading these stories, I quickly discovered that I wasn’t the right voice for writing them. My career took me in a different direction, but I never lost my love for historicals.

Fast forward to me picking up a copy of Meljean Book’s The Iron Duke and my introduction to the world of steampunk romance. This was the perfect blend of history and romance, mixed with paranormal and science fiction elements. I devoured the book, and many others that were out there. I realized that this was the perfect opportunity for me as a writer. I’d written a number of futuristic stories, honed my skills on contemporary romances and was ready to branch out and try something new.

When I was planning out my steampunk world, I wanted to do something a bit different from some of the other books I’d read. I wanted to take actual historical figures and twist them around to fit into my universe. I started in book one, GILDED HEARTS, by using Jack the Ripper. In book two, I wanted to go down a slightly different road. Using the rivalry between Tesla and Edison I thought would be the perfect backdrop for a steampunk story. My twist? I made Tesla a woman and the heroine of my book.

As an author, it’s fun to ask what if and play around with the possibilities. That’s what I did in this book. What if Tesla was a woman? What if the Hudson Bay Company wasn’t simply an outpost in Canada, but rather a haven for inventors and engineers? What if Edison’s competitive edge and business drive was pushed too far by tragedy? I had a lot of fun coming up with those answers.

Christine is giving away one copy of QUICKSILVER SOUL to a lucky winner!

QUICKSILVER SOUL, Book 2 of the Shadow Guild series


Nicola Tesla has never needed a man to complete her life. A gifted engineer, she has always had her experiments to keep her company-or she did, before her vile boss stole them. Now she's working at the Archives in New London, where the memories of the dead are stored. But it isn't long before Nicola discovers she's being watched . . . by a most intriguing, sinfully sexy man.

Archivist Emmet Dennison should be busy extracting memories from the dead. Instead he's been asked to keep an eye on the brazen, strikingly beautiful Nicola Tesla. Soon Emmet and Nicola are shaken by an attraction neither of them wants. Yet when a nefarious man takes them hostage, Nicola and Emmet will need to rely on their attraction, and the growing bond between them, to stop a madman hellbent on destroying New London forever.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Michelle Lynn: Love Me Back

I’m sitting in front of my computer, thinking about what to share with you all. I’ve decided to give you a glimpse into my journey into self-publishing. When I sat down to write my first book, I had no idea about this underworld of blogging and Facebook. Love Me Back, my first novel, was released April 22nd
I pressed that published button without a clue of what would happen. My mom actually said, “Hey, if you get really bad reviews, just release a second book under a different name.” Oddly enough, that comment put me at ease. I told no one that knew me except for my husband and my immediate family. I let the book take its course and I was shocked to find a small amount of people buying it. When I finally confided in a good friend, she told me to look into groups on Facebook. I shared on a few sites, expecting nothing. I would check my Amazon sales every five minutes, just to see the number sold remain the same. Then I got busy at my “paying” job that afternoon. When I got in my car to drive home, I was shocked to see I sold sixty copies in those few hours. I was shocked and quickly called my husband and told him how I wanted to bottle up that feeling and never forget it. The thought that sixty people who didn’t know me, bought my book, thrilled me beyond belief.

Unfortunately, I had lessons to learn. The most important being hiring a professional editor. Even though, my reviews were good, there were a few referencing typos or grammar errors. I ended up taking it off sale June 1st and hiring an editor. I re-released Love Me Back on July 8th and by then I had learned a little more about this self-publishing business. I lined up a blog tour with a blogger and found groups and fellow authors to converse with. In the last seven months, my knowledge has increased but there will always be more to learn.

So, even with five books under my belt, the nervous knot still resides in my stomach and the fear of what the public will think still terrifies me every time I hit the publish button. However, on the flip side, I’ve never enjoyed what I do more and if only a few readers can lose themselves in my stories, I’m happy with that.

Michelle Lynn

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Marata Eros: Billionaires Guys... that's Right: Rich, Alpha Males with Green Charisma

How'd you like my title? Did I, or didn't I?

Nah, it just might seem like it. Maybe readers would really like to read about two poor people starving together that fall in love (I'm sure there's a boatload of authors who can do that too!). Authors writing about Big Buckaroos have been given a hard time of late because we're all writing about millionaires.

But that's simply not rich enough. Why be constrained by any figure? Billions are not easily quantifiable. A billion bucks is big:

Really? Yeah!
There is something so primal and hot about being in that infinitesimal percentage of peeps who actually fall under that fiscal rarity, that writing about it is intriguing. Just the sheer lack of concern about money as a concept is a perspective shift from our normal mindset that we just have to vicariously know what it'd be like.

THE TOKEN, my newest dark romance series, falls under this. Though my hot dude actually invented something so fundamentally cool and important that he made his money from his innovation. However, it did change him. He meets my heroine and sees something of what he used to hold precious inside her—and he wants it. But she can't be bought.

She wants him for different reasons. And—surprise! It's not his money. Some readers might get angry that we're using the “rich” formula. It works. It's been fun to write it because I'm not, and [most] readers like to read about being rich because they're not either.

What's really cool about this win-win formula? Besides researching amazing transport, loft penthouses and designer clothing (that's the really sucky part, let me tell you), is the woman gets to experience it all. The heroine gets to be treated to the unimaginable... the exquisite. And my heroines are hard-working, smart, disadvantaged and artistically gifted (for the most part).

So here's the run-down on a “formula” with heart: billionaire Alpha hunk with porcupine exterior meets fragile, gifted and underprivileged girl, who has been self-reliant and now has a chance at the reward she always deserved, with the man of her dreams.

Cue the white knight with more muscles than a Spartan, the looks of a Greek god, who possesses the eternal river of money. Toss in danger, intrigue and chemistry that sears our eyes when we read it and—that—is the formula that works. Want a few examples? FIFITY SHADES of GREY and TWILIGHT (though the latter were only millionaires), follow the “formula.”

Some of the above precepts have been used over and over again after these successful publications with new stories and done very well, because this formula is buried inside. Nobody can copy—our voices are too unique. It's actually fun to see all the unique ways authors have repurposed this theme into something different. I have not read many of the “billionaire” reads. I have seen the glut of them in the top 100. As I write this, EX GAMES, an erotic romantic novella trilogy just reached the NYT bestseller list, thanks (in my opinion) to the “softening” of the audience by HM Ward for shorter works. Ward gave us THE ARRANGMENT and with each subsequent installment The Formula was employed, enjoyed and remains successful. Hugely successful. Writers like Cooper and Ward knew that they could release enough of a story sequence, quickly enough, to engage the reader.
And they have.

My first novella serial was 8 volumes deep. Volume one pubbed in September of 2011, with the final installment released in November of 2012. The Druid Series is what gave me the confidence to branch out from my dark paranormal erotics into just “plain” dark romance. I have incorporated some of TF into my own work, but voice, narrative and just regular story telling make it whatever it has become now. These series are organic and morph into something more along the way.

As long as it has our HEA....

What's not to love?


Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books and some swag!

Marata Eros (a pseudonym for Tamara Rose Blodgett), is the NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author of dark, romantic new adult novels, including A Terrible Love and its companion novel A Brutal Tenderness. A passionate writer who loves interacting with her readers, Marata lives in South Dakota with her husband. She is currently writing volume six of her serial new adult dark romance, THE TOKEN.


***Marata's winner is Mary Preston!  Please email with your details!***

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lauri Robinson: What’s your favorite thing about writing?

I’m asked that question regularly, and in truth, there is nothing about writing I don’t enjoy. My mother must have been born with a book in her hand, and she passed that down to me. I’ve been an avid reader my entire life, and continue to be. Anymore, a lot of my reading is in the form of research—don’t get me wrong, I still read for pleasure every night. I just can’t fall to sleep without getting in a chapter to two.

So…if I had to name one thing I love about writing, it would be the things I’ve learned while researching. For Badland Bride, book two of the Quinter Bride series, I learned about the Bone Wars—set in place by men in the late 1800’s sabotaging each other’s search efforts to uncover dinosaur bones in the mid-west.  While writing An April to Remember I was amazed by the Sultana—a riverboat that blew up at the end of the Civil War. More people perished when the Sultana sank just outside of Memphis than on the Titanic. For The Major’s Wife, my latest release, I loved learning about the days of Oklahoma being known as Indian Territory and life at Fort Sill during that time.

Currently, I’m writing a series of four sisters set during the roaring 20’s. Cars, women, and whiskey changed the world during that era. My home state of Minnesota boomed with the creation of Minnesota Thirteen, a home-brewed bootlegged whiskey that became known world-wide. The series will be released the summer of 2015 from Harlequin.

Recently one of my sons started researching our family genealogy and discovered my eighth great grandmother was jailed as a witch during the Salem Witch Hunt—oh, yes, there is a book there.

Now, the question has became, which is my favorite era to write about? That’s as impossible to answer as the first one.  

What about you? Do you have a favorite thing about writing, or a favorite era to write/read about?
Any one leaving a comment will be entered into a drawing for a print copy of The Major’s Wife, so be sure to leave an email address in your comment.

For updates on my writing, feel free to stop by my blog.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Giving myself a birthday present by Megan Hart

Hello, everyone! Today is a special day for me, because it’s my birthday. And I don’t know about any of you, but I celebrate my birthday like…well…like it’s the day I came into the world! Because if that’s not a reason to be joyful, I don’t know what is.

I’m a big believer in presents, too. One of the presents I try to give myself every year is to schedule my deadlines so that I can have enough time “off” to write something just for me. Or to try something new. The best part is when something I’m writing something new is also something I’m writing for the love of it!

I enjoy writing in different genres, lengths and even styles, while at the same time, I believe that no matter what I’m writing, my voice remains the same. Whether I’m writing full-length erotic fiction or short horror, my approach to story telling and characterization doesn’t change. Within the framework of my specific tone and voice and the themes I tend to visit, I still try to find stories that are different and tell them in ways that keep the work exciting for me (and, I hope, for readers, too!)

One of the treats I’m giving myself this year is to work on a sequel to a short paranormal story I wrote last year called Ride with the Devil. The sequel, Dance with the Devil, picks up in the point of view of the first story’s non POV character and takes her story along a different journey. I’m not sure where it’s going yet, but the dance is delightful.

I’ve also ventured in serial writing. Digital serials, published at regular intervals, each piece telling a portion of the story but all of them together maintaining an overall story arc. My first venture into serial writing was with my horror serial, The Resurrected. A mixture of horror, science fiction and a little bit of romance, it features ten pieces that follow multiple characters and viewpoints through the events of a world gone to pieces in the aftermath of series of weird storms that turns people into the undead.

I also visited serialized storytelling in my current release, Every Part of You, which features five short pieces released two weeks apart. Unlike The Resurrected, which features many characters in their own storylines, Every Part of You is an erotic romance about Simone and Elliott, who discover they have more in common than either of them first believes.

So what’s next for me, this year? What new thing do I hope to try as a treat to myself? Well, I have some YA science fiction burning a hole in my brain, and I’m eager to give that a go! After all, the best part of writing is the ability to tell the stories that won’t stay quiet.

As a Happy Birthday celebration, I’m giving away gifts! Please comment here with what sorts of different stories you’ve tried – whether they worked for you or didn’t. I’ll be giving away a digital copy of the Resurrected Compendium (which includes all ten parts in one volume), Ride with the Devil or part one of Every Part of You(Tempts Me) Because of the digital nature of the giveaway, winners must be able to access Amazon, iTunes, Barnes and Noble in the US.

Thanks, everyone!

***Megan's winner is Mary Ann Milkowski!  Please email with your details!***

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Melinda Hammond : Pseudonyms and split personalities

Okay, I'm going to come clean.  I am more than one person. That is, I write under different names, but does this mean I have different personas inside, each fighting for supremacy?  I suppose it might do, a bit, but you'd have to ask my friends about that!

When I started writing I thought Melinda Hammond was a great name – glamorous, romantic but dignified enough for an author of, ahem, Historical Novels.  Then as I progressed my writing style developed and I found myself writing historical romances that were in the vein of Heyer's Regencies, light-hearted fun but stopping at the bedroom door. Novels like  DANCE FOR A DIAMOND, which I have just published as an e-book.  It is a comedy of manners set in the Regency, which would these days be called a "sweet" romance. I also wrote a couple of dual time stories (Moonshadows and Casting Samson) set partly in the present and partly in the past and I am currently working on an historical series. So Melinda Hammond writes both historical novels and Regency Romances, quite different types of books.

Then, to complicate things,  I began to write for Harlequin Historicals and I wanted the stories to be a bit hotter, a bit more passionate, so I chose another name: Sarah Mallory.  Of course the sensuality rating does depend on the context of the story, but all my Sarah Mallory books definitely have scenes inside the bedroom (or on the moors, or in a carriage, or over a desk, etc etc). I think Sarah Mallory is now a "brand" name for the kind of sensual romantic historicals that I write for Harlequin.

So which is the real me?  Well, it depends on the story I am currently writing. I love a good adventure romance but I also like the comedy of manners scenario. The main thing for both is that the history in the stories is very important for me, whether it is a sizzling Regency as Sarah Mallory or a Georgian mystery as Melinda Hammond. So I am always a serious historical novelist, even if I do have my lighter moments!
And what about you? Do you prefer the sexy romance or the sweeter kind, or are you like me and enjoy a wide range of stories, as long as they are well written and entertaining.  And what about author names, do you think it helps for writers to choose different names for different genres? I'd love to know, so please leave a comment.

Giveaway: one person leaving a comment will receive a copy of either the hardback version of Dance for a Diamond, or my latest Sarah Mallory novel – At the Highwayman's Pleasure, so do, please make sure you let me know which you would prefer! 

***Melinda's winner is Petite!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rebecca York/Ruth Glick: Vicarious Adventure and Weight Loss

As a writer of romantic suspense, I spend a lot of time sitting in front of my computer dreaming up dangerous adventures for my heroes and heroines.  Which means I spend a lot of time SITTING.  And even though I am pretty faithful about exercising, putting on extra pounds is always a hazard.

Which was why I got excited when some of my writing buddies at Novelists Inc. started discussing a new diet called the Fast Diet or the 5-2 Diet.

You eat normally five days a week; and on each of two non-consecutive days, you restrict yourself to 500 calories. (Guys get 600.)  It’s not complicated or elaborate.  You just have to keep those calories low two days a week. 

Maybe it was too good to be true. Why not give it a shot? 

Losing four pounds on the first try got me was hooked.  But unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of interesting food to eat on diet days. After a couple of boring weeks, I set out to remedy that failing.

In addition to writing romantic suspense novels as Rebecca York, I’ve also written sixteen cookbooks under my own name, Ruth Glick, most with low-cal recipes, so I was pretty sure I could come up with good diet-day selections.  And after my initial successes, my next thought was—this diet needs a good cookbook.

Because I knew it would be more fun to work on the project with a friend, I asked my longtime cookbook co-author to join me.  And in January, Nancy Baggett and I published The 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook, since we think the concept of a 2 Day a Week Diet is easier to understand than a “Fast Diet.”

Nancy and I have written nutrition-oriented cookbooks for Rodale, Surrey Books, and the American Diabetes Association. And Nancy also writes for Eating Well Magazine.  Both of us firmly believe that no one will eat low-cal meals unless they taste good.  For the book, we worked on over 100 recipes and put in the best 75, along with 50 color photographs.  All are 200 calories or fewer per serving, so they fit easily into the 2-day diet.  And with the selection of tempting dishes available, we persuaded our husbands to join us on the new lifestyle adventure. We’ve all lost weight.  I’ve lost seventeen pounds, Nancy (who never loses on any diet) has lost six, and I had to punch another hole in my husband’s belt so his pants would stay up.

Here’s one of my recipes.

Manhattan Clam Chowder          
Canned clams and fresh vegetables team up to make a hearty main-dish soup. This classic recipe is low in calories, high in flavor, and quick and easy to prepare.
 Makes 3 170-calorie servings, about 1 2/3 cups each--
1 6.5-oz can minced clams, including juice
2 1/2 cups 99 percent fat-free chicken broth or bouillon
3/4 cup chopped celery                             
1/2 cup diced sweet green pepper
1 cup cubed red-skin potatoes                                     
1 cup chopped green cabbage
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 15.2-oz can tomato sauce
2 to 3 drops hot pepper sauce, or to taste
Salt to taste
1. Drain clam liquid into a large, heavy saucepan or small Dutch oven, reserving the clams in a small bowl. To the pot, add chicken broth, celery, green pepper, potatoes, cabbage, and Italian seasoning.
2. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat and simmer 12 to 16 minutes, until potatoes are very tender when tested with a fork.
3. Add clams, tomato sauce, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer about 5 minutes longer until flavors are well blended.

The 2 Day a Week Diet Cookbook is available for Amazon Kindle.
Rebecca York’s latest romantic suspense novel is Diagnosis Attraction, out this month from Harlequin Intrigue.

Ruth/Rebecca will give away a copy of her Intrigue, Carrie’s Protector, to one U.S. resident who comments.

***Ruth's winner is Traveler! Please email with your details!***

Monday, March 24, 2014

Michelle Conder: Words of Wisdom

Great things, words of wisdom. Not that I have that many of my own. I still feel too much like a newbie in this business and am bogged down in the middle of my seventh book. I know where I want to go with it but right now I think I’d have more fun prying my fingernails away from their fleshy beds than getting on with it. That said, once I sit down and immerse myself in the story and turn off my supersonic (I’m sure I could hear it from the moon) critical voice then the magic takes over. And that’s why I write. Apart from having a head full of character’s who love to talk and who make me want to daydream for hours on end, I love that process of losing myself in the story. Of feeling as if I’ve lost time when I raise my head hours after I started. The buzz is incredible and the adrenaline rush makes me feel like I could scale Mt Everest singlehandedly.

But when my supersonic voice gets a little loud I think of all the words of wisdom other authors and artists have given me and I always feel better.

So here’s a few I have stuck on my magnetic board.

1. Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it. (Salvador Dali, I think)
2. At some point in the process of writing your novel you will hate it and want to throw it away. (Alexandra Sokoloff)
3. The first draft is meant to be crap and up to 70% will get tossed in the bin (Can’t remember who said it but this is definitely me!)
4. Not knowing doesn’t hurt anyone except those who get hurt because nobody knows (Erich Fried)
5. Come up with 5 things your hero/ione would hate to have happen to them and make it happen (Nalini Singh)
6. To succeed in life is to be able to transform. (Hmmm, not sure…)
7. Athletes play hurt. Warriors fight scared. (Steven Pressfield in his book Turning Pro)

I also really like what Woody Allen said on a documentary TV show about his work – and I’m paraphrasing like mad here – but essentially he said that he makes a film and sometimes at the end when he watches it he finds that it’s not the film he had intended to make when he set out at the beginning. Knowing that such a prolific artist feels that way about his work was very freeing for me because I often feel the same way about my first drafts.

Initially I used to feel like I had failed when this happened but over the years I have learned to be kinder to myself and to go with what is in my heart to write and let the work be what it will be. I think my characters are much happier with this personal insight – as are my family!

And when I really feel bunched I read over my collection of words of wisdom and feel comforted that if I push forward the story will come.

Below I have included an extract from my next Harlequin Presents novel, Socialite’s Gamble, due out in June this year. I hope you like it.  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book!

AIDAN SAW A flash of pink hair and one long slim leg before the limousine pulled away from the kerb, its taillights blinking in the gloomy night.
Amazing. The woman he had thought a cheap tourist at best could afford a limousine. Or perhaps she’d had a rich lover waiting outside.
With legs like hers it was probably the more likely scenario. Long and golden brown. He had no doubt they’d be smooth to the touch and his hand would have no trouble sliding all the way up to those tiny shorts. He imagined her breathless little gasp as he slid one finger inside the leg of those shorts and teased—what the…?
He pulled himself up short as he realised he was turning himself on.
Rubbing at the space between his eyes he shook his head. He must be going mad to fantasise about a woman like that.
A woman who wore clothes that revealed more than they hid. Well, okay, her purple blouse had been loose and only hinted at the small, high breasts beneath, but it had been designed to make a man think about exactly what they would look like underneath. And those shoes? If they hadn’t been created with sex in mind, he didn’t know what was.
Oh, she had been advertising, all right, and although his body had perked up with interest at her wares he’d had no intention of taking the bait. He was in Vegas for one night and one purpose and it had nothing to do with bedding a woman.
He buttoned his jacket against the cold and glanced around for his limousine. His HR manager had assured him that it would be waiting at the kerb as soon as he exited the main terminal and he was a man who knew how to do his job.
Noticing a white sign on the damp pavement he walked closer and saw that it had his name printed on it.
His gaze narrowed. Why would a piece of cardboard with—? Son of a… She’d stolen his limousine!

***Michelle's winner is Cindy Hamilton! Please email with your mailing details!***

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Christine Merrill - I Hate Perfect People

Probably because I am an accident waiting to happen. If I eat, I spill.  Usually on myself, but I am also the person at the table most likely to break a wine glass.  Like Jennifer Lawrence, if I wear heels, I trip and fall.  Actually, not like J-Law at all. When she does it, it’s cute. If you put me in an evening gown, there is a chance I will blow out a spaghetti strap and walk through a hotel lobby with one lace covered boob hanging out, until one of my friends can pull out a safety pin and rescued me.

And then, there was the time I wore my dress inside out for a two hour book signing. That time, I didn’t notice until I got back to my room.

It should not be a surprise to anyone that I write deeply flawed characters. When I introduced the Duke of St Aldric in THE GREATEST OF SINS, he was beloved by all.   He was rich, handsome, intelligent, and good humored. Everyone called him ‘The Saint” (although he was far too modest, to encourage the use the word to describe himself). He gave the heroine a kitten.  He got mumps from tending to sick orphans.

The hero of the book hated him for being so damned perfect. He had good reason. I got reviews that said, ‘Didn’t care for the hero. But when will Saint Aldric get a book?’

In THE FALL OF A SAINT, he gets his book. To readers who expected continued perfection, I’m sorry.  Truly, I am. But according to dramatic principals that go all the way back to the Greeks inventing hubris, someone as good and kind as Michael Poole falls hard when he finally makes a mistake.

Michaels’s story begins a few months after he drank himself insensible, wandered into the wrong room, and had sex with the woman in bed. There was no force or coercion. He stopped when she said “No”. He had no intent to hurt anyone.

But sometimes good intentions don’t matter. Now, Maddie Cranston is pregnant, and the duke is going to marry the only woman in England with a reason to hate him.

I think everyone deserves a second chance. At least, everyone fictional does.  Real men are much harder to change than the ones in my imagination. If I’m making them up, I prefer bad boy heroes. I cannot help but try to redeem rakes. But in poor St Aldric is the first time I had to ruin a perfectly good hero, so he could fall in love and find redemption.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Kathie DeNosky: Something You Probably Didn’t Know About Me…

…I’m a fairly decent poker player.  Oh, I’m not saying I’m ready to chuck my writing career to join the World Poker Tour or anything like that.  Believe me, I’d starve to death if I had to make a living at it.  LOL  But I have won my share of games, as well as several small stakes tournaments.  My game of choice is Texas Hold ‘Em.  It’s a game I understand and enjoy.  That’s why I knew one day I would have to write about a professional poker playing hero.

In the 3rd installment of my The Good, The Bad and The Texan mini-series from Harlequin Desire, Lane Donaldson is a highly successful professional poker player who wins half of the Lucky Ace Ranch.  Sparks fly when fiery red-head, Taylor Scott shows up claiming that he had to have cheated her grandfather to win and she’s determined to win it back.  The only problem is, Taylor doesn’t know the first thing about playing poker.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading about these two as they face off in a game of winner take all in YOUR RANCH…OR MINE?, coming out in May from Harlequin Desire.

Know when to hold 'em…  

One winning hand of poker and the Lucky Ace ranch was his—half his, at least. The only thing standing in the way of Lane Donaldson making it his permanent home is the ranch's other owner.  

Taylor Scott sure is something fine to look at, but she's adamant about running the ranch herself. And then she moves in—with him! So Lane challenges Taylor to another game of poker for the ultimate prize—winner takes all.  

But who's to say they can't have a little fun while they wait for fate to deal their hand….

Friday, March 21, 2014

For Your Viewing Pleasure by Jenny Gardiner

            Warning: spoiler alert.

            No, there's no actual spoiling going on here. Rather this is about spoiler alerts. And the downsides of how modern TV viewing, in which — unless you're hermetically sealed à la Bubble Boy — it's nigh impossible to either avoid finding out what happened or spill the beans to others, risking their wrath, ire and permanent reminders for all eternity about what a horrid person you are because you can't keep secrets about what happened to X, Y or Z on show A, B or C.

            We had to reluctantly watch a movie on VCR the other night. VCR? Surely you remember that relic, a cutting edge electronic device that kicked Betamax's butt in the dinosaur days of television accessories. But with all of the viewing pleasure options out there, those many devices that make our HD it's very HD-iest, it seemed nuts to have to regress from walking upright with spine erect to dragging knuckles along the dry river bed. Yet videotape became our only option if we wanted to watch something without being gouged out the wazoo, so drag them we did.

            We have an extensive VCR tape collection, all deteriorating due to the inevitable half-life of celluloid (or plastic, or whatever they're composed of). If the tapes even work, they’re practically unviewable, thanks to glitches, snags and blurred images (or is that my failing eyesight?). So incompatible with HD, in which you can detect the presence of a zit that hasn't even begun to form on the face of the most beautiful actress in the world, if you look closely enough.

            When we decide to watch something on TV, invariably, despite several hundred channels on cable, there's nothing on worth watching. Which means you go to the go-to sites in search of more options. Nine times out of ten we already have the thing on tape but who wants to compromise quality when there's much better high definition, hifalutin' options out there? Then we start the rounds, to find somewhere, anywhere, where we aren't gouged into paying for something we could watch for free if only we could remember how to operate the VCR with the seven plus remotes we juggle (and of course the volume never seems to be controllable but for actually standing up and physically managing it — ditto the pause button — a real nuisance for couch potatoes).

            We visit Netflix first, considering we're paying for a subscription to watch all sorts of things for "free" (despite that subscription price), yet it seems whatever we want to watch is never free. It could be a lousy B-movie from the 70's, say, John Travolta's compellingly-acted The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, or maybe Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster, and yet for some reason it still costs money, even though we are likely the only viewers on the planet left wanting to watch it.

            Next it's Amazon Prime, because hey, we belong, dammit. We're supposed to get something for nothing! But never is it free there, either. Nowhere is that lame, lone movie available for free. Even though that VHS tape for which we likely paid thirty bucks twenty years ago is lying in wait in my dusty closet, offering up its retired services for absolutely nothing! But no, we want quality (besides which, I feel like if you ponied up that much for the original there ought to be some quid pro quo for use of the improved version of such). It's on to Blu-ray, Roku, Apple TV, Hulu, Hulu Plus (paying yet more), even Youtube, god forbid (but we've done it, when all that's available is a bootleg version of something unavailable even for purchase elsewhere).

            The film we wanted for free? Revenge of the Pink Panther, from circa before fire was invented I think. I would bet that not one other person in this universe had the need to watch that movie that night, yet all sources were demanding blood ransom for it, for something that ought to by now be considered part of the public domain. If my books are free on Google without my permission, then why isn't Peter Sellers? In fact I would think if there is even a star alive left from that film, he or she would be grateful we were resurrecting it from the grave (for which, by the way, it is imminently worth resurrecting). Does free TV exist anymore, except if you have to sacrifice your eyesight — and viewing pleasure — by watching the old timey low-fi versions, with quality so lacking you might want to watch with magnifying glasses?

            Now there are other downsides to all these newfangled viewing options: take for example binge-watching, and all those pay programs to which too many of us get addicted but are watching on entirely different schedules. Used to be various nights of the week were "must see TV" nights. Collectively we all watched to see who shot that annoying JR. Together we bade farewell to Hawkeye and the gang, and if we missed it, well, be sure you plan your summer vacation around the re-run, which would air in mid-July when there was quite nothing worth watching on TV and the airwaves were taken up with a lot of very boring golf programming on weekends, and embarrassingly bad movies-of-the-week starring Burt Reynolds or worse still Karen Black, on weeknights. Daytime was the domain of lousy soap operas and game shows starring flamboyant-yet-washed-up-celebrities.
            But now, you watch it, you don't dare discuss it, for fear of being The Spoiler. Everyone hates The Spoiler, the one who ruins it by disclosing the denouement, rendering it purposeless for the rest of us to bother watching the show, even if we do pay too damned much for that HBO subscription and want to maximize our expenditure by watching every episode of everything on that network come hell or high water.

            In my house, we have the compounded problem of kids coming home over break and binge-watching a show we've not seen entirely, so it's blasting on the screen in the living room by day, sending those who aren't caught up on season five to another section of the house to avoid spoilage. Worse still it's a show I wouldn't dream of watching — some kitschy drama or a gory zombie series — and I'm stuck with it blaring in the background while I try to write. If you want to be around your kids at all during their brief respites home, potentially lousy TV programming comes with the territory. Oh and then you have each kid watching it at a different time while you're there, so you have to avoid repeated episodes. The flip side of them being away is that sometimes we've seen the show, and they've not. If we dare let slip the outcomes, well, we'll have to live with the consequences. Tougher still was our own binging of Breaking Bad, the crystal meth of TV shows. With but a few remaining episodes to watch, the kids returned for a lengthy holiday break, which meant no Breaking Bad for over a week. I practically needed rehab to break my addiction.

            I am troubled that better television is becoming the venue of the haves, versus the have-nots. If you can pay for it, you get to see the great award-winning program series, otherwise you're stuck with reruns of What's Happenin' on TNT. That's if you can afford cable. If not, you're totally at the mercy of network re-runs of Two and a Half Men, for which I collectively apologize.

            It's enough to send me to a movie theater. But then again, once you tally up the cost of tickets and popcorn, maybe I should just head out to my favorite restaurant and find my entertainment there instead — no doubt it'll be cheaper.

Slim to None

Anywhere But Here

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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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The OUTLANDER Craze - You In?

Back in 1991, while I was busy with a new baby, Diana Gabaldon published her first novel - OUTLANDER. I'd only recently returned to reading romance (during that pregnancy!) and ignored it because it was written in the first-person perspective. I've always found books written that way difficult to enjoy or read. So, I was happily reading lots of historical romances by Julie Garwood and Johanna Lindsey and many others even while I kept hearing about OUTLANDER. 

It took more than a year of buzz about it before I gave it a try - and I fell into this story about a woman who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland and her struggles to survive and adapt in that time period...with the help of an extraordinary younger man named Jamie Fraser. By the end of it, I was well-and-truly hooked and waited for each next book in the series - not patiently nor well since it took quite a while for Diana to write each one. 

Now, fast forward through more than 20 years to media and romance readers all over the place are buzzing about the tv series adaptation of OUTLANDER coming this summer. After years of speculating and 'casting' the series in case it was made into a movie or tv show, the casting is set - and I have to say - their choices are spectacular! Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe are perfect for the roles! And Tobias Menzies (who I've watched in many roles) has the dubious honor of playing the dual role of Frank Randall and Black Jack Randall....can't wait to see that! 

So - take a look: (this one is my favorite so far because you can hear Sam's wonderful voice and accent): 
 Visit here to learn some Gaelic phrases and words!

  I confess - I am falling in love...with Jamie Fraser...and can't wait for late Summer 2014 to get here. To make my wait a bit easier, I've made myself a Pocket Jamie.... Starz gave them out at a couple of fan events (already!) and you can print and cut them out yourself if you want one... He'll stay on my desk, serving as inspiration to me....

 But today, he came out to lunch with me and my friends and made quite an appearance! LOL! You can get your own Jamie here.

So - how about you? Have you read the series? Heard about the tv show coming in the summer? Plan to read it?  Or just like hot, Scottish highlanders in kilts with fabulous accents? (it's okay to be shallow....!)

 Speaking of shallow....isn't that <<<>>>

I'm thrilled to let you know that YIELD TO THE HIGHLANDER (the final book in my MacLerie Clan series from Harlequin Historical) is the Featured Author selection for May! So, you'll find a very special edition of it in many retailers...with the first print edition of my HH UNDONE short story - TAMING THE HIGHLAND ROGUE...
I hope you'll look for it on the shelves on April 17th and in digital formats on May 1st! FMI - visit my website.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Monica Murphy: The Hard Stuff: Why I Write Dark

No, I’m not talking about booze. Though I have touched on that topic in my books, dealing with an alcoholic (hello Fable and Owen Maguire’s mother from the ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND series. Notice how I never give her a first name? I did that on purpose. She doesn’t deserve one).

That’s something I’m drawn to as a writer—secret shame. We all have them in varying degrees. Some are too overwhelming to face, and some could be considered minor, but they all mean something to us. They leave us feeling embarrassed, shameful.

These feelings bring us together as humans. We all experience various levels of shame and horror. We’ve all had something bad happen to us or we know someone who’s experienced *insert horrific thing*. We can relate.

And that’s what I’m going for when I write about the hard, ugly things in my books. I don’t want to bring the reader down and fill them with despair but I do want to make them feel. I want to touch their emotions and make them laugh and cry and get angry or sigh with happiness. I want it all because I guess I’m greedy like that.

I truly feel the way to do get readers to feel so much is to force them to face the hard stuff but then give them—and the characters they’re reading about—a glimmer of hope. This world is ugly enough when you deal with the day-to-day reality of it. Who needs to read books that are nothing but major downers? Not me. We read to escape.

But we also read to learn things. To feel things. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if what we’re reading is all glossed over happy stuff that rarely delves deep…that can get boring. Don’t get me wrong, I love a fun, feel-good story (and I’ve written more than my share) but I also like the gritty subject matter that makes me think. That even makes me feel uncomfortable.

While writing ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND, I worried over what I was doing to my characters, especially Drew. Yes, I’m personally responsible for putting him through so much because after all, I’m the one who created him and Adele and his clueless father and his sister and Fable and Owen and their horrible mother. There were points as I was writing where I would pause and think, Should I go there? Should I do that? Oh man, should I do THAT?!

When your writing is rooted in romance (as mine is), yes you must create conflict for your characters and you must put them through some hard times before they get to their happily ever after. But never before have I put a cast of characters through so much grief. Ever. I felt bad. I considered easing up on Drew specifically. But then…

I decided screw it. I’m going for it.

Sometimes we have to face the ugly truths early on to get to the good stuff. Sometimes we have to struggle and fight and suffer before we can conquer. I’m talking both in real life and in fiction. Hopefully the struggle makes the end result that much sweeter.

Hopefully reading about the hard stuff makes reaching the end and the happily ever after worth so much more. That’s all I want to do as a writer. Make that HEA worth it.

Because every last one of us deserve one.

FOUR YEARS LATER is the final book in the ONE WEEK GIRLFRIEND series and is available now:
New Adult bestselling author Monica Murphy winds up her sensational series with this sexy story of two college kids with nothing in common but a bunch of baggage and a burning attraction.

Over. That about sums up everything in my life. Suspended from my college football team and forced to cut back my hours at The District bar because of my crappy grades, I can’t keep turning to my sister, Fable, and her pro-football playing husband, Drew, to bail me out. I just can’t seem to find my own way. Weed and sex are irresistible temptations—and it’s messed up that I secretly hand over money to our junkie mom. A tutor is the last thing I want right now—until I get a look at her.

Chelsea is not my type at all. She’s smart and totally shy. I’m pretty sure she’s even a virgin. But when she gives me the once over with those piercing blue eyes, I’m really over. But in a different way. I won’t deny her ass is killer, but it’s her brain and the way she seems to crave love—like no one’s ever given her any—that make me want her more than any girl I’ve ever met. But what would someone as seemingly together as her ever see in a screwed up guy like me?