Monday, June 30, 2014

Sarah Morgan: The Scents of Summer

Here in the UK we have had the wettest winter I can remember in a long time. Yes, I know people joke about rainy London but generally we have plenty of sunshine (just not the week you’re visiting probably!) but not this winter. I’ve never been so ready to fling open the windows of my house and let the sunshine in. And we finally have sunshine!

I love the summer months. Every year my family and I have a big gathering at the beach and we do all the same things we’ve done since the children were small. Although my boys are long past the toddling stage, my youngest made an excellent yacht out of sand last summer, proving you’re never too old for sand sculpture. There is something uplifting about being by the sea, feeling the salty breeze and hearing the shriek of the gulls.

When I was pondering what I love most about summer, I realized much of it involves scent and sound. The smell of new mown grass, the clink of ice in a long cool drink, the sound of waves as they crash against rocks or lap against a sandy beach (take me there now!). There’s something about sunshine that encourages you to take life a little slower and savor the small things. The heroine of my latest release, Suddenly Last Summer, discovers that for herself when she is forced to move from the city to a pretty beach house.

Suddenly Last Summer is a warm, sexy contemporary romance designed to create that holiday feeling when you don’t have time to take a holiday.

For a chance to win a copy, leave a comment telling me what you love most about summer.

Happy reading!


***Sarah's winner is Dstoutholcomb! Please email with your mailing details!***

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chelsea Fine: My Inspiration for Perfect Kind of Trouble

My idea for Perfect Kind of Trouble came about after watching the movie Fool’s Gold (starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey).  The movie is about two ex-lovers who go on a treasure hunt for lost gold, and during their search they fall back in love. It was fun and humorous, and I was immediately inspired to write something in that same vein: Lost gold, a reassure hunt, two people who love/hate each other. So I came up with the storyline for Perfect Kind of Trouble.

Originally, PKoT was going to be a lengthy, stand-alone thriller. Don’t get me wrong, it was going to be funny and have silly antics and whatnot, but my original premise had a lot more suspense. It was a race against time—and a murderous enemy—to find a hidden treasure with some romance along the way. But once I started writing Perfect Kind of Trouble, I realized my characters were too young and broken to endure such drama. Haha.

Daren was a pretty bad boy with abandonment issues, while Kayla was a misunderstood city girl with no family. And both were homeless and broke. These two characters had enough problems without throwing in an epic do-or-die treasure hunt. So I tweaked the storyline, making the novel more character-driven and turning the hidden treasure into a scavenger hunt—a hunt they could only embark on if they agreed to handcuff themselves together.

The lighter, sillier tone of the storyline helped off-play the seriousness of Daren and Kayla’s rough circumstances, and it was a total blast to write! In the end, I think it worked out perfectly. Here’s to handcuffs! ;) 

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of FIVE digital copies of Perfect Kind of Trouble (via NetGalley)! 

***Chelsea's winners is Anovel Love, Heidi, Kristy, Stephanie, and Elisabeth!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Friday, June 27, 2014

Christine MacKenzie: Ideas are everywhere!

One of the things authors are asked over and over again is, "Where  do you get your ideas?" And our response is always the same, "Everywhere."

Let me give you an example of everywhere. Four years ago I was sitting in the spring sunshine, outside a smart French café, chilling out and people watching with my daughters. I have two daughters of marriageable age. They're beautiful (they'd kill me if they read that, but I'm their mother so I get to say it) independent, career-oriented, super-smart... and ruthlessly... single.

And as a contemporary romance writer having my girls and their life-long besties in my life is literary 'gold-dust'.  You would not believe the dramas about body issues, clothes, the heartbreaks, the falling madly in love with the wrong man, I've witnessed over the years. Anyway, we were revelling in the vibe; listening to a language spoken faster than a speeding bullet, savouring chocolate pastries, drinking coffee shots, eyeing immaculately turned out women, beautifully dressed man candy - when my eldest daughter decided to spill all about a blind date. To say we were surprised is an understatement, because she tends to keep pretty tight-lipped about this sort of thing (probably because her mother writes romance).

Apparently, one of her work colleagues had 'the perfect man' for her and set-up a date. Now my daughter is nobody's fool. She knew nothing about him, but he sounded, in her own words, 'normal', so she thought she'd give him a chance. However, she also decided on the venue and the time, just in case the whole thing went pear-shaped.

Meanwhile, her sister and I were sitting wide-eyed listening to the tale. I was wondering if they'd put something in her coffee because she never, ever, discusses boyfriends with me. Can't think why.

So after work, at the appointed time on the appointed day, she arrived at the busy bar of an upmarket hotel to meet her date. First impressions were not great, apparently his hair was at least one day overdue for a wash and his fingernails were not exactly clean and bitten to the quick (she has a thing about nice hands). But she soldiered on, deciding to have one drink before she let him down gently and left. He very kindly bought her a drink, a soft drink because she was driving.

And then he sat back, gave her the once-over, his eyes lingering on her breasts, and said,
"Dontcha think the rooms in this place are too expensive for a quickie?"

She blinked, opened her mouth to speak, but he beat her to it.

"You're obviously gagging for it, love. Why don't we drink up and find somewhere cheaper."

It's not often my daughter is rendered speechless, she takes after me in that respect. But she kept her cool, placed her drink on the table, and excused herself to visit the restrooms.

Once there, she took off her shoes, used a stool to step onto a big glass sink to open the window, tossed out her shoes, her handbag, climbed out (she's bendy, she does yoga and pilates), ran to her car, and left.

By this time her sister and I, visualising the creep waiting and waiting for her to return and maybe even asking bar staff to check the toilet, were howling with laughter.

Wiping my eyes, I said, 'Good for you, baby.'

Then, looking at us with big blue eyes, she gave us the kicker.

"That's the second time I've done it. I always meet my first dates there. Last time the bar staff let me leave through the kitchens in case I broke my neck climbing out of the window."

And right there Reckless Nights In Rome was born - download it free at stores listed below.

Now it's your turn to spill the beans.

What's the worst/best/funniest first date you or your bestie have had.

The world demands to know.

And the lovely Lee, thank you for having me.  

Leave a comment for a chance to win an eBook copy of my latest release, Desert Orchid.
CC was fourteen when she read her first romance - 'The Grand Sophy' by Georgette Heyer. And right there her future as a romance author was born. Of course, it took a while. Writing romance, she was told by her teachers, does not an income make. In order to write about the lives of others, she needed to live a very full one of her own. And she did.
Fast forward a few decades later: a husband and three children and a couple of careers, she found her fourteen year old self again. And decided to follow her dream and write a contemporary romance. Five years later and Reckless Nights In Rome, book one of The Ludlow Hall series, was published. CC loves to write about deliciously handsome men and strong women. Since then Reckless has been downloaded over 450,000 times and hit the best seller lists across thirty countries. There are now five books in the series published with two more coming very soon.
CC is also working on a paranormal romance series, The Vampyre Legal Chronicles. She loves those suckers, so watch this space!
CLICK HERE To Receive News of CC’s Latest Releases
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

***Christine's winner is Liz Flaherty!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ally Blake: My Best Ideas Ought To Come With a Towel

Most of my best ideas in life come to me when I'm in the shower.

I've heard it said I'm not alone there.  (Well, I am alone in the shower  - most of the time :) - but not in the idea getting stakes).  It has something to do with having nothing else to do (bar wash yourself, of course) leaving one's mind free to roam.  Some people get their best ideas when on walks or when washing the dishes for the same reason.

My theory is it's the only time I don't have access to pen and paper and my muse is a cheeky little rotter.

Most of my book ideas come to me there as well.  Much of the time in a single vision; like a photo, or a still from a movie.

One was the image of a woman standing in a lift holding a wedding dress.   She looks wet and miserable because it's been raining, (and probably because I was in the shower, remember) and the  lift doors are about to close when they are stopped by a stranger...aka the hero.  (That image became The Secret Wedding Dress,  Harlequin Kiss)

Another was a vision of a woman swimming leisurely laps in a stunningly elegant pool.  (Again with the water - I see a theme here!)   The pool resides in a beautiful but near-dilapidated pool house and the heroine is trespassing as the pool is not hers.  No two guesses as to whose pool it is :).  (Falling for the Rebel Heir, Harlequin Romance)

This is from an email I sent my editor:  "I see a heroine standing on the deck of a cruise ship the moment she realizes she is in fact on a "Second Honeymoon Cruise" filled with lots of old folk celebrating their silver anniversaries and the like and she's the only singleton.  Well she and the hunky-games-director-ex-sports-pro-in-hiding."

And that, folks, is my latest offering, Second Chance Honeymoon.  A story about a woman who's spent her life running only to find herself surrounded by water on all sides the moment she finds herself looking down the barrel of something utterly terrifying to her - true love.

So, do you have one special place where you seem to have all your best ideas? In the shower?  On a walk?  Paris?  Leave a comment for a chance to win ebook (epub) copies of THE SECRET WEDDING DRESS and FAKING IT TO MAKING IT (The Boys of Bonaventure duet, #HarlequinKiss 

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Amy Andrews: What’s a Girl to Do When Her Eggs Start Talking To Her?

When I was first putting Risky Business out there amongst publishers my blurb told them it was a cross between When Harry Met Sally and Look Who’s Talking.

I wanted them to know in one pithy sentence it was an urban, friend’s-to-lovers story and I needed to get across the concept of a book where the heroine’s eggs are talking to her in the kind of shorthand I thought most people would understand.

Anybody who’s ever seen Look Who’s Talking will know the funny inutero scenes where the baby (voiced brilliantly by Bruce Willis) is talking. That’s kind of what happens in Risky Business. The eggs don’t get their own lines per se but Samantha the heroine is very aware of their cheeping, their judgement, their disapproval of her childless existence and their eagerness to divide and multiply. They’re bossy and insistent and poor Sam (driven, organised, career-woman, Sam) is totally gazumped by their strident demands.

Which is kind of how it happens in real life for a lot of women, I think. I certainly know, as I think a lot of us would, women who suddenly, quite out of the blue, are desperate to have a baby. They’re completely hijacked by their biological clock.  Now of course, there are many women (myself included) who have never felt this urge and in fact this book got rejected out of hand by one agent who said as she’d never been through it, she couldn’t relate to Sam at all.

Fair enough. We’re all shaped by our own experiences.

But. That doesn’t, nor should it, negate the fact that for many women, their fertility and having babies is an important issue. 

For Sam, the catalyst for her eggs going all defcon on her is running into her ex and his pregnant wife. An ex who’d never been interested in marriage and babies.

‘Sounds to me that running into Gary tripped your clock. Your eggs have decided it's time to fulfil their biological purpose.’
‘Sure. If you listen closely, I bet you'll hear them cheeping.’
Cheeping? Crap. That was all she needed — noisy eggs. ‘I don’t have time in my life for cheeping eggs, Bec. How do I make it go away?’
Bec chuckled. ‘Find a man and have some babies.’
‘Impossible. I'm overseeing the Adams account until 2016.’

What follows is, I hope, a light-hearted look at sex, love and the biological demands on a woman’s body.  Of course it’s not all about talking eggs. There’s also a sexy injured extreme sports star hero, a second hand romance bookshop, a quirky urban family and gratuitous lamington scoffing.

Something for everyone really J

For a chance to win a digital copy of Risky Business tell me if a book about a woman desperate for a baby would be a must-read or a rather-gouge-my-eyes out prospect for you? Have you ever been a slave to your biological clock or know any stories from anyone who has?  

***Amy's winner is girlygirlhoosier52!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Monday, June 23, 2014

Beth Albright - There's Magic in Dixie

Thank you so much for having me as your guest today, Lee. So very excited to be with you and your readers!

I was so thrilled when this new series, IN DIXIE popped into my head. I was in the strangest of all places. I was sitting in the car waiting for my husband and son to run around crazy for three hours playing paintball. I know, I know. I was nuts to go in the first place. It was over Christmas and it was a cloudy frigid day. Yet still I wanted to go for the very long ride to the spot where I had chosen to go—just along for the ride, never intending to get out of the car.

Instead I knew, as was in the past, sitting in the car alone, waiting on my hubby, was a very good place to think and come up with the epiphany of a new series. See, it had worked once before. I happened to be sitting in a car one rainy November night when the idea for The Sassy Belles hit me.

Oh, I had been writing Rhonda’s story for a while but had no idea what to do with her until that fateful day at Paintball. I was flooded with ideas—I could barely write fast enough on my little yellow legal pad to keep up with the stream of thoughts flowing out. I plotted out six books, six fabulous stories to tell. All of them will have as the supporting characters from my other books. So readers who loved the first series will find familiar faces within the pages of my new IN DIXIE series.

The entire series is about each of these women discovering themselves, their passions, their hearts and souls. And then making the difficult decision to embrace that—or not. Of course part of that journey will always be finding true love and learning just who your southern sisters are when things get tough. And my novels will NEVER be without laughter and hilarious situations. It’s the southern way—laughter in the face of adversity. And to simply believe in the magic of tomorrow--as our favorite southern heroine, Scarlett O’Hara always said, “ I’ll worry ‘bout that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.”

Honestly, I have been planning this first story, MAGIC IN DIXIE, for a long time. I knew this book would have all the fun, comedy, sarcasm and romance of all of my previous books but what was tugging at me with this one was this huge secret this family had been hiding. So it’s like peeling back an onion; layers upon layers, unfolding.

And I take my readers on this mysterious adventure through an old antebellum mansion that my heroine inherits from her estranged father. Secrets are so imbedded in this very crazy family with possibly the most dysfunctional mother I have ever written! I LOVE her!

 The central heroines are my new Belles, and their stories, a little deeper and richer but still steeped in the ways and attitudes and language of the Deep South. Of course all will be heady sexy romance with a shot of mystery and filled with laugh out loud moments. The next book will be out in December, called STARDUST IN DIXIE

These books are so near and dear to my heart! All of these women have a story to tell. They are funny and sexy, sophisticated but very genuinely southern!

I love writing about the Deep South. My passion to write was born there and to this day, I still find there’s MAGIC IN DIXIE. Leave a comment for a chance to win three Starbucks gift cards and a signed book... one winner gets the book and a card and two others get a card!   

***Beth's winner is Melanie Reed!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Katherine Garbera: In The Heat Of The Night

Hello, readers!  Sunday mornings always remind me of a big breakfast cooked by my mom and dad, classical music or opera on the radio and long lazy days after we got home from church.  This small town upbringing is at the heart of my upcoming release IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT. 

Meg Sterling made a huge deal out of leaving her small town of Twin Palms, Florida.  She threw herself a party, said ‘Goodbye, Losers!’ and left.  Now five years later she’s back to regroup and figure out her next move.  Fame didn’t come for her but she still hasn’t let go of her dreams.  This time though she knows that the spotlight isn’t necessarily what she wants.

I’m a little bit like Meg because I started out in a small town.  For IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT I modeled my fictional Twin Palms after Auburndale.  I also wanted something bigger than I thought I could find there.  But I’m not ballsy at all.  So while privately I might have thought someday I’m going to make it big, outwardly I never said a word.

There’s just something about small town’s that is appealing and Meg had forgotten that because she was so caught up in her own agenda.  Trying to do what she wanted and get that illusive shot at fame.  But now that she’s back and older…isn’t it funny how turning thirty makes you take stock in your life?  That was the case for me and it is for Meg as well.

She finds she really likes her hometown especially the hot new firefighter.  Only he’s distracting and making her question her dreams and if she really wants to get back to the big city lights.

Rory O’Roarke is a firefighter like all the O’Roarkes.  He gave it up for love and that went sour.  So now he’s returned to the one thing that he’s always known—firefighter, but he’s not as sure of himself as he was before.  He’s thirty-three and sort of figured he’d have life sorted out by now. 

Here’s a little blurb from IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT

All it takes is a spark!
Meg Starling has come back to her small Florida hometown to start over.  After spending five years in New York fighting to get her own TV show, she almost ready to admit defeat. Then a call from a producer changes everything.  Now she’s got one last chance to make it big……and nobody’s going to get in her way.  Not even a hunky, drop-dead sexy, absolutely irresistible firefighter…
Rory O’Roarke is new in town, but it hasn’t taken the new guy at the firehouse long to scope out what he wants – Meg, the gorgeous girl next door. But Rory has his own issues--an incident at his last fire has left him struggling with doubts. Can he still do the job?  All he wants is to settle down and have a normal life.  Unfortunately, the only woman he wants has no intention of staying….
 It was the worst possible time for either of them to fall in love. Then again, it’s hard to stop a wildfire once it’s burning out of control….

What about you?  Most days I’m still not sure I have life figured out.  I’m still making plans and dreaming big though.
I’m giving away the e-book version of BODY HEAT to three lucky commenters. 

***Katherine's winner is Martha Lawson!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Saturday, June 21, 2014

When Hook-Ups Go Bad...Sorta ;-) by Jenny Gardiner

            A few weeks ago my son lost his phone. Which is not such an unusual thing; people lose phones all the time. But one minute he had it at work, the next, it seemingly evaporated.
            Now, normally, we'd have left it at that and not bothered to intervene in attempts to unearth the missing device Kyle's a grown man, he could figure it out himself. But soon after the thing went AWOL, we realized this meant we were incommunicado with our son at a time in which we needed to figure out complicated scheduling details. With three kids returning from school and moving out of dorms and apartments, we had a lot of logistics to map out in a short period of time. Which meant many calls and texts between all kids to reach consensus. Orchestrating five people to settle on mutually agreed-upon dates is hard enough without one basically being cut out of all means of communications.
            Worse still, the battery hadn't been holding a charge on the phone, so its findability was dwindling with the passing hours. Oh, and that Find My iPhone app, designed to, uh, find your iPhone when it disappears? He hadn't remembered to download it. Oops.
            About a day or so after its mysterious disappearance, one of Kyle's friends came up with the clever idea to try to see if "he" showed up on the Tinder app. [Tinder, for the uninitiated, is a widely-used dating app that uses Facebook profiles to match compatible participants based on geographic location, mutual friends and shared interests. The app allows users to anonymously "like" or skip others, and if two users "like" each other, Tinder introduces enables to "chat", or, if things really go your way, hook up.]
             So his friend decided to check Tinder to see if my son's phone was beaming out its location, and sure enough, it emitted weak signals indicating it was within two miles of where they were.
            The problem was Kyle was in the midst of finals, with no time to embark on a wild goose chase hunting this thing down.
            But then I had what seemed like a brilliant idea: if indeed the phone was within two miles, that meant it was likely somewhere still at work, downtown. Which meant if someone closer to downtown logged onto Tinder and tried to locate my son's profile, it might confirm the phone's general location, greatly narrowing down the hunt. A no-brainer, if you ask me. And as the life-span of the dying battery was withering away, I knew we had to act fast.
            So I called my husband, who was, conveniently enough, downtown.
            "You've got to join Tinder, fast!" I urged him. And yeah, he had no idea what it was either, so I gave him a two-minute primer and pressed him to download the app and get to work.
            Five minutes later I got a phone call.
            "Man. My friends and I were single in the wrong century," he lamented, noting that Tinder seemed like a veritable free-for-all that would have meant nary a night alone back in the day. "But forget about that. Right now I'm having a big problem."
            Seems as soon as he entered his information and linked it to Facebook, he started being bombarded with "likes" from women nearby interested in "chatting" with him. It was like the slot machine bells pinging when you get three cherries on the jackpot, coins spilling out onto the floor. Which meant that in small-town-everyone-knows-everyone Charlottesville, soon someone would start wondering why my husband was seeking dates online. Bad enough. But worse still because he soon realized that he'd never find our son while looking for women on Tinder, so he had to change his preference. Which would have been even more provocative for the cognoscenti in this town, wondering why my husband was suddenly in search of men. Not only men, but substantially younger ones, because he had to narrow it down to Kyle's age in order to connect (never mind that little detail that Kyle would have had to stipulate that he was interested in not just men but those more than twice his age, so it was all a moot point, we realized too late). Names and pictures were popping up all over the place and it was all tied to my spouse's Facebook account, which was no doubt a rather amusing place to watch as this unfolded.
            "Help!" he said, stymied by the app. "I can't seem to stop all these people from connecting with me!"
            Of course by then I had tears streaming down my face, laughing as I was. "Call one of the kids to find out what to do. Meantime, I have to call my friend, who is going to love this story."
            Alas, said friend wasn't available, so I relayed the story to her husband. Who then decided to play a trick on my spouse and contacted him.
            "What in the world is going on?" he texted. "I'm getting calls from women asking if I know you because they saw your picture on some dating thing on Facebook and want to go on a date."
            My husband was mortified. All he was trying to do was locate the darned phone before the battery died forever. And now he was going to be seen as a serial creeper. He hemmed and hawed, tried to explain what was going on, when our friend burst out laughing. In the background was his wife, cracking up loudly over his quandary.
            At last my husband figured out how to delete his existence on the app, my dubious idea having backfired, albeit not without a large dose of entertainment. And a short while later, a co-worker found Kyle's phone, which had slipped behind a drink cooler, none the worse for its wear and tear. Giving us just enough time to figure out our kids' collective moves, while making sure no strange women would be making their own unwanted moves on my unwitting spouse.

  Sleeping with Ward Cleaver

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
find me on Facebook: fan page
 find me on twitter here
 find me on my website

Friday, June 20, 2014

Summer is Coming! No! Winter is Coming!

Tomorrow brings the longest day of the year for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. . . the solstice arrives at 6:51am on Saturday morning. At Stonehenge and other neolithic sites, many will gather to greet the sun as it is reaches it farthest point in the northern sky. 

   So, if tomorrow brings Summer, why am I thinking Winter?  

Well, I'm looking ahead six months, to the Christmas/Holiday season because I'm planning to publish a Christmas novella connected to my MacKendimen Clan series! As the days grow longer and brighter, I'm thinking about the dark, short days of winter. Swirling snow storms in the mountains of the Highlands instead of scorching sands of summer's beaches. Christmas and holiday traditions rather than lazy days, reading in the sunshine. 

    As a reader in the print publishing world, I could always depend on wonderful collections of themed novellas or short stories for each new season -- Christmas/Holiday, Valentine's Day, Spring/June Brides, Halloween, etc. They were really convenient because I could read one in a sitting and when busy with the various holiday tasks. And there were/are themes-within-themes, too, like Regency Christmas, Western, vampires and more. 
  Now, with digital publishing, novellas and short stories aren't restricted to collections. Novellas and shorts are stand-alones and lots more seem to be available now all through the year. Some introduce readers to connected series. Some fill-in-the-blanks between longer length releases. And some authors are publishing multi-author collections, too. 

    How about you? Do you like to read novellas and anthologies? Do you watch for collections or just read the stand-alones? Or both? What's your favorite?  

    Post a comment and I'll choose someone to  receive a print or digital copy of a recent collection -- Royal Weddings bundle - 7 stories about historical royal weddings -- or Royal Weddings Through The Ages - a special print edition of the collection. 

Terri is working on her new historical fantasy series - Warriors of Desting - for NAL and her new Highlanders series - The Feuding - for Harlequin Historicals. Visit her website for lots more info!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Amelia Grey: In the Middle of It

I have a fondness for the middle—of anything.   I love the gooey sweet middle of a piece of milk chocolate and the delicious, chewy center of a brownie.   I love the soft, warm middle of a piece of bread when it’s hot from the oven and the hard crust has been removed.   I have to be in the middle of a ship on a cruise because there is less rocking and motion at the center, which means less chance for that dreaded seasickness.   If I ride in the back seat of a car with two other people, I want to be in the middle and not by the door.   And, I will happily mention that I love being in the middle of an argument or at the center of anyone’s attention.

This fondness I have for the middle must come from being the true middle child of seven children.  I have two sisters and a brother older than me and two sisters and a brother younger.  And yes, I was always in the middle of whatever was going on between the other six.

And, though some authors and readers might think it odd, I love it when I’m writing a book and I get to the middle.   By the time I’m half way through the story the plot has been set in motion and the pacing has evened out.  All the characters have been developed, and we know what’s at stake for the hero and heroine.  By the middle of the book I know what has to be accomplished before I give my hero and heroine their happily-ever-after ending.

Many times I’ve heard authors talk that difficult “sagging middle”.  I always say, “The middle is one of my favorite parts of a book.”   It’s usually where the first love scene occurs, too.   I enjoy putting the hero and heroine in the middle of the bed, in the middle of a book.  But, I also like to put them in the middle of an argument, and the middle of a spot of intrigue.

In fact, I just finished the middle book of my new trilogy The Heirs’ Club of Scoundrels and I loved it!  Unfortunately, it’s too soon to talk about that book, so let me tell you about the first book in the series which will be out January 2015.  It’s titled:

The Duke in my Bed

    As a notorious member of the Heirs’ Club, Bray Drakestone can’t resist a challenge from one of his well-heeled colleagues—especially when it involves money and horses.  But the friendly wager takes an unexpected and deadly turn.  Bray is forced to agree to marry one of his challenger’s five sisters—sight unseen.  Now gamblers all over London are placing bets on whether Bray will actually go through with it.
    Miss Louisa Prim, the eldest of five girls, doesn’t care a whit what the reckless rogue at the Heirs’ Club promised her brother—she has no intention of marrying the future Duke of Drakestone.  Bray, however, sees her rejection as another challenge.  He bets that the fiery Miss Prim will not only agree to marry him, she will propose to him!  With four sisters behind her, Louisa knows she can’t lose.  But why does her opponent have to be a divinely handsome scoundrel?  And so sweetly, irresistibly seductive…

   You can go to Amazon, B&N or any other e-retailer and preorder The Duke in My Bed right now, or make a note of the release date of January 1, 2015.         

For a chance to win a copy of one of my backlist tell me what you would like to be in the middle of today?  A good book?  A shopping spree?  A spa treatment? Or your choice?

To stay in touch with Amelia Grey please like her at, visit her at, or contact her at

***Amelia's winner is Laurie G!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Soldier Prince by Kate Hardy

They say all the girls love a soldier, and all the girls love a Prince Charming – so what happens when one man is both at the same time?

That’s what my June 2014 release is about. The Soldier Prince is part of the 200: Harley Street continuity series, set in a clinic of plastic surgeons in London.

Working on a continuity is great fun– it means you get to bounce ideas off other authors working on the same series, and you can have a lot of fun with their characters. Amy Andrews and I had particular fun with my hero and hers – two Alpha males locking horns.

I think my editor had a lot of fun choosing the pictures for my story of the continuity – because she sent me a picture of Antonio Banderas as inspiration for my hero! She knows I’ve had a crush on Antonio for years and years, and the amount of times I’ve begged for him as my cover model (she always just laughs and says no).

It meant I had a little bit of fun, too, in giving my hero attributes from various Banderas films – and for once my ed let me get away with it. So you have the guitar-playing from Desperado; the fencing from Zorro (and I pinched his nickname from there, too); the ballroom dancing from Take the Lead; and the semi-secret nature of his job from My Spy and Spy Kids (have I mentioned that I have a *lot* of Banderas films to choose from?).

Add in a totally gorgeous house at the edge of Regent’s Park (the one I used as a basis was for sale for something like £35 million!), a feisty heroine with a seriously dark past, and you have glamour and emotion a-plenty.

I’m giving away a signed copy of The Soldier Prince to one commentator. To be in with the chance to win, tell me your favourite Banderas film!

You can find out more about Kate Hardy and her books at her blog ( and her website ( Follow her on Twitter at @katehardyauthor or find her on Facebook at

***Kate's winner is Indigo Dragonfly!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Monday, June 16, 2014

AC Arthur: How diverse is a shapeshifter?

Recently there has been a lot of talk about needing more diverse books in the publishing arena. I’ve read articles that support this movement and some that claim there are already enough diverse books being published. So which side do I take?

Well, since I’ve been writing professionally since 2003 and have published almost 50 books in that time, I have to say that I focus on writing good characters first and foremost. Lately, when I begin to think of my next story, the race of the characters do not immediately come to mind, unless that race happens to be shapeshifter.

In the world of the Shadow Shifters, because these beings originate from the Amazon rainforest, they already have a rich cultural background. This, for me, meant that there would be characters that were of Hispanic origin, as well as some from a more blended bi-racial origin such as, African American and Caucasian, Hispanic and African American, or Hispanic and Caucasian. I even have a character that’s being introduced in the upcoming release, SHIFTER’S CLAIM, that is not only a jaguar shapeshifter, but a mixture of African American and French parents. When I wrote this character, his name is Jacques, I only knew that I wanted a strong, yet emotionally distant man who was loyal to his tribe. I thought about what type of mate he would find and what would be the obstacles to finding that mate. And then, I considered his origin and how I could best tell his story with all these aspects in mind.
I don’t think I need to tell anyone that we live in a very culturally diverse world. You can look around at any point and time and see that for yourself. More importantly, however, is the fact that I believe there are some very talented authors out there with really good stories that include interesting and well-written diverse characters that should definitely have the opportunity to share their work with the world. There should be representatives of what we see in daily life captured in stories that share rich cultures that some may not have any other opportunity to explore.

As for me, I’ll continue writing about shapeshifters even though I’m not sure if the person walking next to me on the street is one or not. J

Would you like to read about these wonderfully diverse shapeshifters? No problem, just post a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing to win signed copies of the first three books in the Shadow Shifters series.

***AC's winner is Leni!  Please email with your mailing details!***

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Christina Hollis - Creative Writing, Chapter and....Prose

Hard at Work...(with biscuits)
Last year, the Romantic Novelists' Association awarded each of its local chapters £100 (around $168) to be spent on a constructive writing project of their choice. I'm a member of the RNA's Marcher Chapter, which covers the border country between England and Wales. We put our heads together, and decided to use our windfall to fund a day-long, fully catered creative writing workshop for our members.

We held Be A Fool For Love For A Day on the day closest to April Fool's Day that we could book at our favourite venue, the slick Hereford Courtyard arts venue.  The photo shows (clockwise, from bottom left) Fay Wentworth, Georgia Hill, Christina Courtenay, Joanna Maitland, Marilyn Rodwell and organizer, Ann Ankers, in mid-session.
My Current Release
A month in advance, we each submitted up to ten pages of a current project to our organizer, Ann Ankers. You can read part of my extract on my blog, by clicking here. Ann collated the entries into one document, removing our names and giving each entry a unique identifier. Members then read and critiqued every entry (including their own) before reading out their thoughts on each piece in turn during the day of the workshop. We then discussed them individually, in depth. This system worked really well, especially as everyone stuck to the ratio of three stars to one strike. That means, three good points were highlighted for every piece of constructive criticism given. The whole day was a really positive experience, and everyone went away full of ideas.

Last Tuesday, 10th June, we had a follow-up meeting. Everyone's made great progress with their projects and several (including me!) had completed their featured projects and submitted them to publishers.  Our first workshop proved such a success we're now planning a second one, to be held later this year. That's given us all a big incentive to start work on new projects.

Are you a member of a critique group? What's the most useful piece of advice you've been given?

Christina Hollis writes both contemporary and historical fiction - when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. You can catch up with her at, on Twitter and Facebook, and see a full list of her published books at

Friday, June 13, 2014

Just One Thing

As of Tuesday, Just One Thing is out!

I got my start in straight up romantic comedy with books like I Waxed My Legs for This? and Not Precisely Pregnant.  I slowly moved into sweet humorous romance, like my Perry Square series for Silhouette Romance, and my Everything But…Series for Avalon/Montlake.  Over the last few years, I've added comedic mysteries with my Maid in LA Mystery series and emotional dramas for SuperRomance.

Just One Thing is the most emotional of all the stories I've ever told.

Someone asked me if it was hard moving between comedy and drama.  I said, no.  To be honest, in many ways, comedy and drama are mirrors of one another.  I wrote a book, Ready, Willing and…Abel? that opened with a woman staring at a catalog of potential sperm donors, trying to pick out a father for her someday baby because she wasn't in a relationship and was tired of waiting for true love in order to have the baby she longed for.  That was a story that could have been written as a comedy (which is how I wrote it) or a drama.  I mean, that kind of longing pulls at the heart strings.  Yet, I set the tone for the whole book with the opening line, "Sperm 'R Us."  LOL  Heinlein wrote a book about a Martian trying to 'grok' human behavior with Stranger in a Strange Land.  The character mastered pretty much everything about being human except for humor until one day at the zoo he finally starts to laugh so hard he can't stop.  When he finally gets himself under control he explains, “I've found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much . . . because it's the only thing that'll make it stop hurting.”  I think that's why I love writing both comedy and drama…for me, it's just two sides of the same coin, the same emotions.

But back to Just One Thing…I never even considered comedy with this story.  From the moment it started tugging at me, I knew how it needed to be told.  The heroine over a period of years, suffered a series of heartbreaking tragedies.  She's withdrawn from everything and everyone…except on Mondays, when she goes to the local bar, has exactly one beer and then walks home.  For weeks, she doesn't say a word to anyone, but then one Monday, the bartender says the words, "One thing?"  Those two words end up being her salvation.  Monday after Monday, Lexie's story unfolds, and she begins to heal.

I could have chosen any day of the week, but all my online friends know about my strange love of Mondays.  As someone who works from home, weekends are loud and busy and not overly conducive to work.  But Mondays…ah, Mondays.  The family goes to work, or school and the house is…silent.  So on Mondays I share my Glee with all my online friends, and it seemed like the perfect day for Lexie to share bits of herself with Sam.

I'm so grateful for the positive feedback so far.  And I'm equally thankful that readers seem to be willing to follow my writing whether I'm writing comedy or drama.

Do you have a favorite type of story…comedy or drama?


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Books in my Past - And Present with Kate Walker

If you were to take a look at my (overcrowded ) bookshelves, you’d find, in amongst all the  romance novels, the detective stories, thrillers, historical novels,  there’s a very small separate section  that has  three – no four books all on the same subject.

There’s A E W Mason’s   Clementina  ( A grand Tale of Loyalty and Betrayal).  Then there’s The  Escape of The Princess by Jane Lane.  These two are fiction. There are two other, factual titles. One is The Life of Chevalier  Charles  Wogan ,A Soldier of Fortune [1922] by  J.M.Flood and another, reproduced in a modern paperback but that is a copy of the original  dating from  1719. It’s called  The Rescue of Princess Clementina (Stuart): A 1719 Adventure of the Irish Brigades – and this one was written by Charles Wogan himself.  I’ve collected these books over the years and I keep them on my ‘specials’ shelves.


  Well, the answer to that is that the Charles Wogan that these books are written about – or who writes his own version of the story in The Rescue of Princess Clementina (Stuart)  -  is a long ago ancestor of mine. My mother’s family is descended from the Wogan family and I’ve grown up with the story of this Irish soldier  whose tale is something of a delight for any romantic novelist – here is a brief summary.

"The Chevalier" (Knight) Charles Wogan was born in Rathcoffey.   Wogan was a staunch supporter of the Stuarts. He initiated the alliance which led to the marriage of James Edward Francis Stuart (the Old Pretender), son of Charles II, to Clementina Sobieski, daughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland. She was apprehended, however, on her way to marry the Prince in Bologna. She was held captive in Innsbruck in the Tyrol. Wogan arranged false passports with the Austrian Ambassador and along with a small group feigning to be a Count, Countess, the Countess’ brother (Wogan) and her maidservant, managed to gain access to the princess. Following a quick exchange of clothing between the princess and the maidservant, the party escaped in high winds and blinding snow through the Alpine passes into Austria.

It’s rumoured that in fact Charles Wogan and Clementina fell in love on their journey but that his loyalty to his king meant that he didn’t press his own claim for marriage.   

I always felt it was sad that if Charles and Clementina did fall in love, that his loyalty and sense of honour meant that they had to be separated so that he could fulfil his duty to his king. For a long time I’ve wanted to rewrite the story so that Clementina and Charles could have that happy ending.  

Charles Wogan
This is the story that was at the back of my mind when I wrote my current release for Harlequin Presents -  A Question of Honor.  Instead of Charles, I have Karim who is sent to bring Clementina home to go through with the marriage that has been arranged for her  ever since she was  a child.   Karim thinks that this will be an easy  and quick job  - until he meets Clemmie.   That’s when sparks start to fly.  And things get a whole lot more complicated.

But I was determined that Karim and  Clemmie had their happy ending – so if you want to know how that happened, you’ll need to read the book.

The trouble is that  now I’ve been talking about this past story, it’s made me want to go back a reread all the historical stories I have about my great – great- great ..  (I don’t know how many greats!)   long ago
Clementina Sobieska

Do you have any interesting stories from your family’s past?

PS I’m so glad that the designers of the cover of A Question of Honor didn’t ask me for a picture of the original Charles Wogan. He might have been a hero, but neither he nor his Princess Clementina were exactly lookers!

A Question of  Honor  is on sale in Harlequin Presents  this month.

You can find out more details about it on my web site   and read all my more up to date news about my books and what I'm doing on my blog   or my Facebook page.