Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When Music or Movies Make Everything Brighter by Michelle Monkou

We can all acknowledge that writing is a solitary venture. Short of co-authoring, only one person will sit in front of the computer and type the story. But once there, in front of the blank screen, we tend to need things like snacks, maybe music, or even TV. Of course, quite a number of people may need absolute quiet.

I will often write the first draft to music. I have an eclectic taste that ranges from R&B to Pop to Rock, Korean Pop, to classical, and Big Band music. But lately, I found that I’ve been reaching for my favorite movie series to accompany those writing marathons.

My go to selection is J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings directed by Peter Jackson. How can I go wrong with an epic series that is over a gazillion hours long combined. The soundtrack alone is the perfect accompaniment for those long haul moments in front of the keyboard.

Then I move on to Harry Potter series. Now this isn’t really about music, but nostalgia. I know a lot of the key lines and can’t wait for the scenes so that I can repeat them with matching feeling.

Then there’s the Outlander series on Starz, but that is so visually distracting, along with the beautiful lines spoken between the characters that I end up pausing to watch entire scenes. No, I really shouldn’t include this one LOL

Occasionally I will pull out my Twilight series, which I do love. I also have the soundtracks that are just wickedly great compilations.

This last go-round when I had to complete my latest project, Netflix, my new writer’s companion, provided Grease and Dirty Dancing for my viewing pleasure. Not only can I really really go down memory lane, but I can sing at the top of my lungs to every song. And I have no problem stepping away from the computer to do a couple of the dance moves from Grease.

As you can see, my writing can be quite active depending on the playlist or movie list. If you can make writing fun, then why not entertain the other parts of the brain and body.

I hope you’re tapping your foot to a fun beat to make the mundane go by easier or faster, or just to fill the air with beautiful sounds.

All the best,

Michelle Monkou

Michelle Monkou ( is a multi-published author with over 20 books in print and digital. She’s also a weekly contributor on USA TODAY’s Happy Ever Blog providing commentary on romance fiction. She resides in Maryland writing many more stories to fill the hands and e-readers of romantic bookaholics. Michelle's One to Love is available.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Talk to Me, I'm Listening

by Joanne Rock

One of my favorite things about being a writer is the ability to live multiple lives. Readers, of course, know what this feels like. Movie goers and actors experience it too. We step into another character’s shoes in a story and get to be someone else for a while.

It’s a gift I enjoy, whether or not I’m ever quite as good at it as I want to be. I’m perpetually in pursuit of my “best” story, continually trying to write a perfect book. Or at least, a wonderful book that readers everywhere love. But I always enjoy the fact that each book touches someone. Hopefully a lot of someones. I receive letters from readers on most everything I write, and I’m deeply touched to think a story of mine has inspired someone – usually someone who is not a writer by nature—to pick up a pen and put their thoughts on paper to communicate with me.

And while I’m fortunate in that I’m able to craft a story into words on paper, the harder part for me is finding the right story to tell. Choosing the right details for the right characters. Being honest to those characters and letting their story be about them and not what I think it’s supposed to about.
As I get older, I think that the secret of this craft –the deepest secret of the storyteller—is the ability to listen. I can read books on the art of storytelling all day long and it only improves what I do by small degrees. The most important thing that I can do to improve my storytelling is to listen to the people and the world around me, to absorb the stories and the minor details of day to day life and filter them in a way that readers can identify with.

It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Loaf around in my artist’s beret, order coffee at the café, read the paper and chat it up with the locals. Except that there’s more to being a writer than just retelling a tale. It’s the little things that make it come alive. The man at the coffee counter can tell me he’s a world-class fisherman and travels around the world on his boat, but it’s his habit of scratching his nose that lets me know he’s lying through his teeth to impress me.  The woman next to me on the plane can tell me about her three successful adult children, but I know it’s that fourth one she skips over who worries her most. Our stories are in what we don’t say as much as what we do, and that’s where storytelling is most interesting.

Being quiet lets me see those things. In my youth, I was occasionally accused of being aloof or stand offish and I know that’s because I was simply a writer in the making—listening more often than speaking. I try to be cognizant of that because it’s also important to be and not to just live in my head all the time. But I also don’t try to be the life of the party when well-meaning people suggest I be more social. I have made peace with the fact that observing life is not only a pleasure for me, but also a gift for an artist. A decade ago, I would have felt presumptuous saying as much. These days, I’m really proud.

If I’m quiet, it doesn’t mean I’m not having fun. I’m just taking it all in. Making sense of the world in my head. And, with any luck, writing about it in a way that is authentic and yields stories that are meaningful. If I’m quiet, I’m just preparing for my next role, my next character, and hoping that you’ll be able to seamlessly slide into someone else’s shoes for a while as a reader because I got my story just right.

**I know you all love to step into a character's shoes as much as me! What character are you loving lately? Someone on television, a film, or in a book? Share with me on the boards today and I'll give on random poster a copy of my upcoming Harlequin Superromance, NIGHTS UNDER THE TENNESSEE STARS. And don't forget to keep an eye out for my upcoming co-authored release with Catherine Mann, THE WEDDING AUDITION!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Eve Gaddy: Yes, No, Maybe. No Way!

I was talking about writing to my daughter Diana (a non-writer) the other day. I commented that it was funny to me that one day I'll be writing something thinking the entire time, "This is crap. This is awful. Why did I ever think I could write? This is the most boring thing ever written in the history of the world." Nevertheless, I keep at it, then shut down the computer--or more likely, the program--without looking at it again.

The next day I force myself to read over it and I think, "This is pretty good. Not bad at all. Wonder why I thought the same piece of writing was so bad yesterday?"

It also can happen that I'm writing what I'm sure is a masterpiece, sniffling or laughing or just pleased that the words are flowing like magic from my fingers. The next day I might think the same piece of writing is merely decent. (If I thought it was great the first time I usually don't hate it the next day, but I don't always see the brilliance.:)

My question is, why do I do that? What changes overnight? It's not the writing. I fairly certain a gremlin doesn't come in there and change crap to magic. Although that's an intriguing idea for a book. Hmm.

Where was I? Oh, yes, what changes? Attitude? Mood? I suspect that has a lot to do with it. Or is it just the complexities of the writer mind?

It's not just writers. I don't know about men, but I know for a fact women do this about clothes. You put on jeans and a new top. "I look good. Yeah, this shirt is flattering. I feel great." Then the next day, you put on the same outfit and think, "Ugh. Hide the mirror. Why did I buy this thing? What in the world possessed me to think this looked good?"

Attitude? Mood? Beats the heck out of me. In the words of Shakespeare in Love, "It's a mystery."

Have you had this happen to you? What do you think is the answer? 
One commenter will win an e-book of my brand new romantic suspense, Last Shot, which will be out any day now. (It will be on Amazon first and then some time later the other platforms, so if you want it quickly it will need to be Kindle.)  

**Please add your email address to your comment so we can get in touch with you soon!

Thanks for having me, Lee!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Food Travel! Annie West

I've recently returned from a short overseas trip. It was an absolute treat even if it was work-related. Because, of course, even when you're meeting editors and authors or researching locations for stories, you have to eat, right? And after all, travel is meant to broaden the mind (and the waistline if I'm not too careful) and you learn a lot about other cultures from their food, don't you? So of course you have to try some of the local specialities along the way, don't you? That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. 
Actually this is one of the joys of travel for me - exploring new tastes in a place as well as sights and sounds and talking to the people. Flavour is often a shortcut for me to remembering a place I've been and so useful when I'm writing about a far away location. If I think about the food, I can place myself there instantly!

So here are just a few of my recent food adventures from my flying visit to London and Venice a couple of months ago. At the top of the page is the top tier (of three) from high tea at a very nice London hotel. The cake on the left is beetroot and orange (and surprisingly yummy). The citrus macaron was fantastic and yes, that is a coffee bean covered in gold leaf on top of the coffee slice! Who'd have thought afternoon tea could be so decadent? Next time I want to have a hero seduce a heroine in full public view I'll have him take her to high tea!

 Of course with food, it's not just the tasting, is it? I came across so many ornate displays that must have taken hours to perfect. The one above is in a room full of sweets in Harrods in London.

And then there was Venice. Fantastic food, especially the seafood. But here are some sweet treats that caught my eye. You probably can't tell from this photo but these were enormous! Too much, in fact for one person. A great excuse to share with a friend.

And the food doesn't even have to be ready prepared for eating. I love wandering around markets and seeing what the fresh produce is like, even if I'm staying somewhere without a kitchen. Naturally I gravitated to the markets in Venice to see what was on offer.

And just to prove that simple foods can be scrumptious, I ended my Italian stay with a tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza at Marco Polo Airport, expecting airport food to be less than appealing. Instead it was packed with flavour and had me eager to return.

How about you? Do you find yourself trying new foods when you're away from home? Or do you always order the same foods? What's the nicest new food you've tried lately?

Right now I'm celebrating the release of THE SHEIKH'S PRINCESS BRIDE, the second of my Desert Vows stories. Though the book starts in Paris, much of it is set in the Middle East and I spent a lot of time drooling over thoughts of delicious skewered meats, pilaf rice, gorgeous vegetable dishes, syrupy desserts and Turkish delight. Sigh. It's a wonder I didn't put on lots of weight as I wrote.
Here's a taste: royal bride and mother 
For Sheikh Tariq of Al-Sarath, one miserable marriage was enough. With a kingdom to rule, he has no time—or wish—to find a bride, but his children need a mother.  
Could Princess Samira of Jazeer be the answer? Samira has sampled passion, and it left a bad taste. With the knowledge she can't have the children she's always wanted, Samira steps into Tariq's ready-made family. Her only condition? No sex! 
Samira thought royal duties and her love for Tariq's children would fill the hole in her heart, but a craving is building that only the sheikh's touch can cure…

You can buy THE SHEIKH'S PRINCESS BRIDE wherever romances are sold. Here are links to it at Amazon, Barnes and NobleHarlequin and the Book Depository.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Cat Has a Facebook Page

There are some days when I simply can't ignore the fact that my cat has a personality. I'm not talking personality the way "everybody" has a personality. I'm talking big personality. If Sophie could talk, I'm sure she would have said, "Go big or go home," before anybody else even thought of it.

My niece found Sophie in the woods about a week after I'd had to put my big black cat Basil to sleep. I was mourning, and the last thing I wanted was a kitten. An abandoned kitten no less. A scruffy, flea-covered kitten with a virus. But she looked at me with big yellow eyes in a tiny black and gold face and I was hooked.

Not even as big as my husband's hand, Sophie managed to get out of her first bath almost dry, while my husband was soaking wet. Though she lives inside, she's not a house cat. She believes squirrels and chipmunks were invented for her pleasure and took great pride in chasing hundreds of each into my kitchen over the years. She'd get mad when I'd chase them back outside with a broom.

She's proud of her hunting skills and her still girlish figure, and while Fat Fluff was alive she'd give him looks as if to say, Get off your butt and chase something, Lazybones!

Now that she's our only cat and she's getting up in age, she's adopted a Princess Grace mentality. Her water bowl has to be in  a certain place, filled to the exact point she wants it and if it's even slightly out of place, we get...The Look. She stands by the spot the bowl should be and waits for us to move it to her.

She also watches us as we play with cat toys. I'm not sure how she programmed us to do that, but we all look pretty silly batting that fake bird around.

I wish I had half her management skills!

Here's the link to her facebook page...

Happy Reading!

susan meier

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Amateur Night at the Grocery Store! by Jenny Gardiner

My patience runs thin when the depletion of my food pantry accidentally coincides with the impending death-threat of a light dusting of snow, which sends people into paroxysms of fear that they will be housebound and famine-stricken if they can’t access a loaf of bread and a half-gallon of milk for a day or two.
This happened a few weeks ago when a fleeting snow squall was in the forecast. We swung into the grocery store before the movies to quickly grab some fruit and cold cuts, oblivious to the forecast of a dangerous imminent storm (which left one thirty-second of an inch of snow on the ground, while we were inside the grocery store; go figure), and were met with the nightmarish shopping frenzy of desperate food hoarders.
I leaned over to my husband and muttered in dismay, “Amateur night at the grocery store.”
He laughed.
Some people love to grocery shop. I was one of them, back in, oh, 1975, when my mother wisely capitalized on my ’tween-aged naïveté and dropped me off at a succession of grocery stores in order to do her food-procurement bidding. For years, while my mother earned graduate degrees and focused on homework and classes, I was the workhorse of my family’s food supply needs. I actually enjoyed making lists, collecting coupons, and manning my overflowing shopping cart.
Each week, Mom dropped me off first at the grocery store, then the produce store, then the butcher shop to acquire the food needs of a busy family of six. In my later teen years, as I drove myself to grocery stores, I even picked up a hot guy! Make that, I engaged in a casual flirtation with a very good-looking butcher, who I eventually dated briefly, until his Greek parents got wind of it and put an end to his seeing a non-Greek girl.
Those were the days of triple coupons. And for fun—for fun!—I clipped coupons, because it thrilled me that I could earn triple the value for them. Nowadays, burned out, I opt instead to spare myself the hassle and lose out on the money and not be bothered, shame on me.
Years ago my sister-in-law joined a coupon club. She had a frighteningly massive assemblage of ravaged coupons, piled high in a box that got passed amongst her club cohorts. I never understood the idea of purchasing excessive supplies for which your house has no storage, just to save a few cents. Back then, any time she invited us over, she fed us freezer-burned ice cream, because her deep freeze was jam-packed with gallons of stale Bryers she’d gotten on discount. Hardly worth the savings when the food becomes inedible.
As we shopped during the seven-minute snow squall a few weeks ago, after navigating clogged aisles filled with shoppers and carts while trying to grab the few items we sought, we arrived to find a check-out that was easily eight people-deep in each lane.
Anyone who’s been grocery shopping for forty-odd years can tell you that choosing the grocery lane in the we’re-all-gonna-die pre-storm frenzy is a fine art. You could eenie-meenie-miney-moe it, but that’s for newbies. It’s best to apply critical thinking skills, which I unfortunately failed to employ that night. At first I attempted the savvy shopper plan: me in one lane, my husband in another, and whoever gets there first you jump over with the spouse.
But he’s all about fairness and even-stevenness, so didn’t want to play that game, insisting we stick to one lane. Yawn….Which is what I ended up doing, because I chose totally wrong in my forced-haste decision. Not only did I pick the lane with no bag-packer helping out—critical for dire shopping times—but I ended up in the mucho-painful “Hi! I’m new but I’m learning” aisle, even worse.
This means a cashier who doesn’t know produce codes and thus takes quintuple the amount of time to ring through items, with the man in front of us having a cart overflowing with, yes, you guessed it: produce. All with the clock ticking on the movie we needed to get to. An unforgiveable grocery shopping rookie mistake for which we paid by missing the movie previews and getting lousy seats. When you’ve been shopping since the Carter Administration, you should know better. Clearly I foolishly yielded to his non-grocery shopping ignorance at a critical time. Never again.
I’m still scarred from being stuck in a legitimate snowstorm frenzy at grocery store, after back-to-back-to-back blizzards when my kids were under the age of four. I stressed in line for two hours as my three children attempted ENT-threatening gymnastics on every facet of my cart, filled with what meager unwanted groceries remained in the store (no doubt repulsive Vienna sausages and pickled eggs in a jar amongst them).
Nowadays to gain control over my shopping experience, I always do the self check-out. And bag my own food. And just to add some spice to the mundanity of grocery shopping, I opt to check out in Spanish. Nothing like multi-tasking and learning grocery store Spanish while doing the chore that bores me to tears. The clerks always think I’m a ninny who accidentally got stuck in Spanish mode, and come running to save me. Which can be necessary, if you have no idea what celery or asparagus is called in Spanish. But when I tell them I did so voluntarily, they look at me like I’m nuts, shrug, and walk away.
Actually I do “get” this primal need to feed, just in case. Something about being potentially snowbound makes me want to cook all sorts of things I certainly don’t need to ingest. And reinforces some survival-of-the-species demand to provide, to be warm, to gather ’round and enjoy Mother Nature-induced chillin’. And chillin’, I’m all in favor of. Especially if it’s not while cooling my heels in line at the grocery store.
Next time you’ll find Jenny Gardiner buying groceries online. Or at

In the meantime, great news! Book 2 of my IT'S REIGNING MEN series, HEIR TODAY GONE TOMORROW will be released in the next week or two--please keep an eye out for it.

Also if you sign up for my newsletter here you get a free copy of my novel WHERE THE HEART IS!

Book one is available: SOMETHING IN THE HEIR.

JennyGardiner_SomethingintheHeir200 JennyGardiner_HeirTodayGoneTommorrow200JennyGardiner_BadtotheThrone200
and some time soon I'm going to reissue Anywhere but Here---I'll keep you posted.
Accidentally on Purpose (written as Erin Delany)
Compromising Positions (written as Erin Delany)
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Friday, March 20, 2015

This and That and Another Thing, Too!

Did you ever feel as though you've fallen off the face of the earth? LOL - it's been a crazy time in the Brisbin house and world since December. I realized that I never posted a blog in January or February!

In my defense, January was a lost month -- I barely had time to welcome and enjoy the new grandbaby and, boom!, I was deep into a deadline-binge-o-writing, finally finishing the book that will come out in October. As I've said before, pulling overnighters is really only for the young and it takes this old person a loooong time to recover from that! And gosh, I really appreciate the efforts of my hairstylist in helping to cover all the gray hairs that seem to pop out from all that stress! The good news is that I simply LOVE the story I created -- Raging Sea is a fast-paced, magical, mystical romance set in Orkney and I can't wait until you all can read it.... Take a look at this stunning cover >>>>

February? Gosh, I can't even remember February at all! I think I spent it working on revisions and trying to catch up with everything I had put aside until after my deadline.... I think....? OH, and I read romances -- I judge the RWA RITA contest so I had a bunch of romances to read and judge in February.  This is THE prestigious romance novel contest and the finalists are announced next week - I can't wait to see if any of the books I read make it into that final round or possibly win!

Oh, February! Now I remember!

Since I had two romances scheduled for release THIS month, I spent lots of time getting ready for those releases, re-energizing my newsletter (why, yes, I do have one!), setting up signings and events and writing....blogs. And running contests. And preparing blogs. And chat visits.

THAT'S where February went!

   Now it's March. . . heck, it's already halfway through March and Spring begins tomorrow at 6:45pm EDT. In my area, a snowstorm is sweeping it in to greet it! And, I'm about to start heavy writing on the next book. And about to get out of town to some dental board assignments (a Spring tradition) and to some romance reader events (another Spring tradition).

And somewhere in the continuing craziness, I'll find time to spend with my little grandbaby girl -- she's growing and changing with every day and is developing a lovely laugh. You know the kind -- it begins in a baby's toes, ripples through their body and comes out of their mouth...And it changes her whole body and makes everyone smile...!

So -- what have you been up to lately? Doing anything fun? Reading anything good you can suggest? Celebrating Spring in any particular way? Or are you lamenting winter's departure?  Share a tidbit or suggestion with me please!!

Terri IS busy writing and chatting and signing and running around like a madwomen through March! Visit her website for more info on all that or to sign up for her newsletter (which keeps you up-to-date with everything Terri Brisbin!). Happy Spring, everyone!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Melissa McClone: A Real Life HEA

When I first started writing—back in the days when Silhouette existed and Amazon didn’t—I thought a happily ever after (HEA) ending meant a declaration of love from the hero and heroine followed by a marriage proposal. Then a wonderful editor told me that my HEA needs more. She said when a reader reaches “The End” they should believe the couple is in it for the long haul no matter what happens after the story ends.

Talk about a light bulb moment for this newbie romance author! I’ve tried to take the advice to heart on my subsequent titles. As I have, I've also noticed my personal view of HEAs has changed as I've gone from a single-twentysomething aspiring writer to a married-with-three-kids published author.

When I heard the song Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran a few months ago, I tried imagining the hero and heroine of my then work-in-progress saying similar words to each other. At first I couldn't. Oops, but during rewrites I finally got to the point where they could, and I knew I had the HEA I needed. For those who haven’t heard the song, here’s the video:

Today at the funeral for my sister’s mother-in-law, I saw a real life HEA. Two people who made a seventy-three year marriage work. Seventy-three years! Talk about the long haul! Ed Sheeran sings about seventy. This couple was in their nineties. I asked my brother-in-law if I could blog about his parents who I first met in 1991, and he said yes. He thought his mom would have loved that.

Wilma graduated from college in 1943. That same year she married Herald. They had four children. Her youngest (my brother-in-law) was born when she was forty-two. Herald was a minister so Wilma kept busy as his wife and raising children. She taught speech. She loved singing and playing instruments, too. Once the grandbabies, then the great grandbabies arrived, well, let’s just say, they were her joys, and I looked forward to the pictures she sent with her Christmas cards!

When I arrived at the funeral home with my oldest daughter, my sister greeted us. She mentioned the photos set out on a nearby table and how one of them amazed her—a black and white photo of a much younger Wilma and Herald in a passionate embrace. By the time my sister got married, her in-laws were in their seventies so this was a new way of seeing them. I found the photo, and it was a romance cover worthy embrace.

During the service, Wilma’s children spoke about the last few months of her life. Wilma couldn’t always remember things or people, including Herald. Once as she was sitting next to him on the loveseat, she asked if he was really her husband. Upon being told yes, she said then it was okay for them to hold hands. Another story was how Herald had described Wilma shuffling across the floor, but how she used to run and play. When Herald said goodbye to her at the casket, I had tears running down my face. I can’t remember his exact words, but he mentioned he’d be seeing her sometime.

Was Wilma and Herald’s life perfect? No life is, but through seventy-three years of good times and bad times (including the loss of a son and a grandson), their faith and love stayed strong.

For me, HEA means no matter what life throws at you, you and your beloved will get through it together. And in the case of Wilma and Herald, now separated by death, their love will remain until the "sometime" Herald mentioned when they'll be together again.

What does a “happily ever after” mean to you when you read a romance novel? I’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a mystery swag pack that includes an autographed book and other fun stuff.

If you want to know more about Melissa and the books she writes, check out her website. Be sure to sign up for her newsletter there, if you want to know about new releases and sales.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Carole Mortimer: Self Interview on the Alpha Series!

Carole Mortimer is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author, is an Entertainment Weekly Top 10 of Romance Authors, was Recipient of a Pioneer of Romance award by Romantic Times in 2014. In 2012 she was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her ‘outstanding service to literature’.

Carole has been writing romance novels since 1978, and has now written 200 books in contemporary and Regency romance. She continues to write for Harlequin Mills and Boon, but also began publishing her own series, Alpha, in November 2014, a series described as being Hot, Dark and Dangerous. Shadow Alpha, the 3rd book in the Alpha series is Carole’s 200th book, published March 15th 2015.

1  200 books, Carole? How did you ever write so many?
It snuck up on me too! One minute it seemed I had written 175 books, and then suddenly there it was, my 200th book. I am so glad it’s Shadow Alpha, because Dair Grayson, the hero of Shadow, is one of my all all-time favourite heroes. But be warned, the Alpha series really is hot, and Dair Grayson is very hot indeed!

2  Where do you get your ideas from?
I have no idea! I really don’t. I just have all these ideas for plots and storylines running around inside my head. That’s where Alpha came from. At the moment I have 10 books planned in the series, but if the heroes just keep asking to have their story told, there may be more. The storylines are completely different from my Presents and Regencies for HMB, with crime bosses, kidnappings, murder. The language is stronger, and more earthy too. And did I mention lots of really, really hot sex?

3  But you are still writing for HMB?
Oh yes. I love writing my Presents and Regencies. I had a Presents duo out February/March this year, and the second three Dangerous Dukes Regencies, will be published in July/ August/ September. My next project is a Presents trilogy, to be published next year.

4  Where did the idea for the ALPHA series come from?
Again, I have no idea. It just popped into my head, and I knew I just had to write it. But I knew from the onset that it didn’t fit into the two series I already write for HMB, so I decided to publish it myself. And I’m having so much fun doing it. It’s amazing to take a book from the concept of the idea, through writing it, having it edited, formatted, the cover designed, and choosing my own publishing date too.

5  What writing projects do you have in 2015
Well there are the three HMB books I’ve already mentioned. I also have an Alpha book being published every 2 months, plus a contemporary novella I’m writing for another publisher coming out in August, and I also intend to start a Regency novella series of my own, first one to be published in November 2015. But again, be warned, this Regency novella series will be hotter than hot too.

All links to the ebooks in the Alpha series are on my Website.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Susan Stephens: First Sign of Spring

Hello again!

There is nothing more exciting to me than the first sign of Spring—I get out more with the children, clean the house and rush around the garden, doing all the things we’re supposed to do as soon as it’s warm enough to get outside and get busy!

It’s also a time when my best ideas come to me. I’m approaching my 50th book for Harlequin Mills & Boon, and maybe it’s those precious rays of sunshine, but the idea has come to me... I see blue sea, blue skies, golden beaches, and sultry warmth—or maybe it’s those grey clouds rolling back over Yorkshire as I write this to you, that’s inspiring me to transport us somewhere warm!

Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the snow for a while, anyway!

To keep us warm and happy while we wait for spring to properly assert itself over winter, here are some hot books for those cold evenings.  :) 

This is book 1 in my Hot Brazilian Nights gaucho polo series, featuring a very bad man and a woman who sets out to tame him.

Book 2 features another alpha male who thinks he can have any woman he wants—until he comes up against the one woman he can’t have.

I just love writing about these hot polo guys!

Catch Book 3 in November. The Brazilian’s Nine-Month Notice is one of my favourite books ever, and this will be followed by Book 4, as yet untitled, in December, when the grand finale to the series will be celebrated on the pages of a book, with a Christmas party you’re all invited to!

And if you don’t have much time to spare for reading and just want a quick fix, how about the short that became a novella, because I love the heroine so much... Miranda’s story, is the 3rd in my series of Hot Cosmic Shorts. Hot Spring Nights At The Ladies Club, is up for pre-order now, and is an April 3rd release.

I just love this cover! Yep, he’s a cowboy. And she’s a doctor. And they’re destined for love.

Wishing you all a toasty warm spring, full of good books, good friendship, and as much of the love stuff as you can handle.

With my best from me to you,

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Have You Bid On Your Bachelor? - by Dani Collins

Have you seen the Bachelors being auctioned off in Marietta, Montana?

Who would you bid on in real life? Being the author, I should vote for Linc, in The Bachelor's Baby, but I have to admit Kate's Ryan is my fave.

Just like anyone participating in a Bachelor Auction, I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this series, but it was so much fun to write this novella and work with all these authors--and meet all these bachelors! Even though a few of them showed up very reluctantly. Linc, for instance, but as he was told repeatedly, It's for a good cause.

You see, Kat's heroine, Molly, has a son, Josh, who was injured and is now in a wheelchair. She needs help so Sarah's heroine, Lily, organizes this fabulous fundraiser. My heroine, Meg, ropes Linc in and he's really not happy. Here's a snippet of his reaction when he catches up to her at the hardware store:

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Excerpt from The Bachelor's Baby:

“Not funny,” a male voice growled behind her as Meg reached for a small box off a shelf in the hardware store.

Linc’s voice really was a turn on, all heavy and faintly abrasive, yet warm and rounded. Like good scotch, or an heirloom quilt.

He’d still been talking to Lily when Meg had left the grocery store, his neck red, his scowl a firmly fixed mask.

Meg didn’t know Lily that well, but had met her through Andie Bennet, who was made of awesome. She trusted Andie’s judgment, even though Lily was rumored to have been a stripper in another life and had only been in town a few years. Meg hadn’t lived here full-time since leaving for college and took all such gossip with a grain of salt.

Besides, despite Lily’s sometimes acerbic sense of humor, she struck Meg as the biggest heart of gold walking, especially given the fundraiser she was spearheading for Molly Dekker. Molly was another sweetheart—a kindergarten teacher and single mom whose only son had been injured last fall. Meg had genuinely wanted to help once she heard what Lily was trying to do for Molly.

The fact it had allowed her to lob another snowball in Linc’s direction was icing on the cake.

“What do you mean?” Meg asked with an innocent glance at him that actually made her heart skip as she took in his folded arms and planted feet. He was genuinely mad.

She cleared her throat and made herself face him, even though her blood stung a warning through her veins. At the same time, the worst of her girlish hormones fluttered, filling her with nervous excitement and giddy warmth.

“Why did you set that woman on me?” he asked.

“Lily? She asked me about Blake. She was disappointed to hear he’s engaged. She asked if I could think of any other eligible bachelors in town. I said I had just met a perfect one-date wonder.” Blink. Blink. Blink.

These baby blues had pulled Meg from basement cable interviews of small time activists to a relief position with a syndicated station. She wasn’t afraid to use them.

Linc was really tall. And had perfected his glower of intimidation. She privately admitted he worked that like a hot damn, but she’d made a career for herself in what was still a world heavily seeded to men. Outwardly, she didn’t falter.

“Can you tell me if these are self-screwing?” She held up the box in her hand.

His scruffed beard seemed to bristle as his jaw hardened. “Oh, you’ve got a handful of screw yourself,” he assured her.

She swallowed back a laugh, pretty sure that would get her into more trouble than she already stood in. Instead, she turned the box over in her hands. She hadn’t had this much fun in ages. “Maybe one nail would be simpler?”

“Why are you so angry?” he demanded.

“I’m not, I’m really not,” she insisted. “I think it’s funny.”

“You think tricking me into standing on a stage and have women bid on me like a stud bull is funny?”

“I didn’t think you’d agree,” she defended. “It was an impulse to mention you, since you walked right by us and you’re, I assume, single?”

He narrowed his eyes.

Seriously? He didn’t see the humor in this?

“Look, I just...” She couldn’t explain it. Not without getting into how she’d let go of something today. Found herself again. She felt cheerful and sassy. She wanted to flirt. He drew her.

But she’d made him mad.

“Come on,” she cajoled. “It’s not my fault you didn’t say no. It’s a good cause,” she tried.

“You don’t even know me.”

She had to look away. Her cheeks began to sting. She suddenly felt very gauche and juvenile. Rejection was always a tough one for her and all she’d wanted was to keep playing with him. Now he hated her.

“I’m out of practice,” she allowed quietly, genuinely sorry. “Honestly, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Practice?” he repeated. “Doing what?”

Seriously? She lifted a gaze that let him see how uncomfortable she was, while scolding him for being obtuse.

He let out a choke of disbelieving laughter. “This is you trying to get a man’s attention? Are you twelve?”

She looked away, frowning, trying to hide that her eyes began to burn along with the back of her throat. Pointing Lily at him had been meant in fun, but it was becoming personal and hurtful. She felt twelve. Hell, she felt seven, realizing for the first time what it really meant to be adopted: that your ‘real’ mom and dad hadn’t wanted you.

“Look—” she started to say, ready to apologize, but only saw his back. He was walking away.

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Makes you wonder how The Bachelor's Baby happens, doesn't it? You can find out by clicking your preferred retailer below:

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My fourth Montana Born novella, His Blushing Bride, will come out in May. If you'd like to be notified when it does, join my newsletter or visit me here:

Thanks for visiting!
~ Dani