Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Psychic Secrets

posted by Nancy
Best-selling author Anna DeStefano returns to the Lair today. She writes classic contemporary romance and contemporary psychic fantasy for Dorchester Publishing. She's won and finalled in numerous national contests, including twice winning RTBook Review's Reviewers Choice Award.

Today we'll talk about her newest release, Secret Legacy.

Welcome, Anna!

Who is the heroine of Secret Legacy, and what's her background?

Sarah Temple and her identical psychic twin share a powerful, supernatural legacy that warring factions are fighting to control--a center of government scientists who want to harness their gifts to weaponize daydreams, and a brotherhood of psychic warriors who have sworn to protect the Psychic Realm and its secrets at all costs.

Sarah's barely escaped with her sanity the Center's attempts (in Book 1, Dark Legacy) to highjack her sister's gifts (by using Sarah' comatose mind to program and control Maddie Temple's dreams). Now the Dream Weaver program they thought they'd defeated is still going strong, only this time it's Sarah's sleeping mind the government is haunting--using her mysterious psychic connection with a lost child no one else believes exists. The only way for Sarah to protect the little girl and her legacy from being manipulated into a long-range, direct strike weapon is to trust her gifts and the warrior who's already betrayed her once.

What's her biggest problem in this book?

Sarah, like many of us, can't see the promise of who she and her twin are destined to be, because the damage and mistakes and potential evil that she so far hasn't been able to keep her legacy from becoming. She doesn't trust her potential to be a warrior for good, capable of protecting not only those she loves, but other legacy families within the psychic realm, too, from suffering at the hands of those who only seek power and profit as they hunt the metaphysically gifted. At it's core, Secret Legacy reflects the same journey of discovery and acceptance we all face, as we search for who we are and what we're meant to become. It's a celebration, when Sarah not only claims be destiny, but valiantly fights to make the same magical promise possible for generations to come.

Your website refers to a psychic warrior who broke the heroine's heart. How do they meet again, and what issues lie between them?

Secret Legacy begins only a month after Dark Legacy's cliff hanger ending that left so many readers panting for more ;0) Dr. Richard Metting was initially one of the "villains" of Dark Legacy. One of the government scientists, we thought, who were weaponizing daydreams by hijacking the mysteries within Temple twins' minds. Except Richard turned out to be the lead watcher for a brotherhood of psychic warriors whose mission is to shut down the Center's Dream Weaver program at all costs--even if it means sacrificing Sarah and her twin's sanity.

Richard breaks from the Brotherhood's mission, though, to protect the Temple Legacy, and in the process becomes deeply attached to Sarah and her fight for survival. We find him at the beginning of Secret Legacy, now within the protection of the Brotherhood's bunker, battling to regain Sarah's trust and to help her control her disintegrating gifts before he loses her for good.

Can we have a peek inside the book?

Sure! The prologue and first chapter are up on my website:

http://issuu.com/annawrites/docs/secret_legacy-excerpt?mode=a_p onclick=

Here's an author interview and book trailer for the Legacy Series:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4OdHP-WPA4&feature=channel_video_title

And a Blog Talk Radio interview that delves deeper into the dream theory and parapsychology behind my Psychic Realm:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/circle-of-seven/2011/05/19/readers-entertainment-radio

This book ties in with an earlier one, Dark Legacy. What's the connection?


That cliff hanger I mentioned above... At the very end of Dark Legacy, a secret child is discovered who holds the key to the heart and future (either good or evil) of the Temple Legacy. No one knew she existed. Secret Legacy begins as no one within the Brotherhood believes the child is real--except Sarah, who hears the little girl in her nightmares, crying for help. Sarah's convinced the Center is experimenting on the innocent child the way they once did Sarah, and she'll stop at nothing until she finds her--putting her family, her legacy and the Psychic Realm at even more risk than ever.

Secret Legacy is a thrilling race in and out of nightmare and deadly psychic visions, to stop the Center and the magical child they've brainwashed from fulfilling the darker promise of the Temple Legacy.

What's next for you?

I'm in love already with the next three books I’m creating for the Legacy Series. Working on that new proposal I a top priority. As is blogging weekly about the Dream Theory, parapsychology, and metaphysics I research to create my Psychic Realm.

I've also submitted a new family drama proposal to Harlequin, so hopefully I'll have something new on the way soon for my contemporary romance fans.

And I'm travelling again, teaching writing craft where folks ask me to ;o) I'll be with the Carolina Romance Writers in June, then at Romance Writers of America's National Conference and ThrillerFest in July. I'm also weekly talking about How We Write and how Publishing Isn't For Sissies on my blog.

It's a lovely life ;o)

For more about Anna and her books, check out her website.

Dark Legacy, Book 1 in the series, is a 2.99 cent download on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc, and starting June 6th Secret Legacy will be a .99 cent download. One commenter today, however, will receive a free electronic download of Secret Legacy.

So tell us, if you could have any paranormal power, what would it be, and why? What's your favorite story of past lovers reunited? What's your favorite movie involving paranormal powers?

Monday, May 30, 2011

GOING HOME

by Jo Robertson

About ten years ago on Fathers Day our seven children picked out individual rose bushes and planted them in a row by the fence in our back yard. At the time my youngest son had distanced himself from the family so the spot for his bush remained empty, a sad reminder that one of the seven was missing.


Recently that son returned, bought a lovely white rose bush with a blush of pink on the petals, dug a hole and planted the flowers near the other six.




Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again," but I'm not sure that's true. I think, as Robert Frost claimed, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."





We live in a complicated world where daily stress and dangerous lures trap many people. It seems fitting on this U.S. Memorial Day, when we traditionally honor those who've died in the service of country, that we also honor those who've traveled hard roads, made difficult journeys, and have returned to their haven of safety.












Whether from war, a troubled marriage, college, incarceration or disenfranchisement, let's welcome home all those who are "going home."


If you could memorialize one person, someone who's meant a lot to you, given you something precious, or influenced your life in some way, who would you choose and why?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cat Schield Meddles with Millionaires

hosted by Susan Sey

Hey, everybody, say hello to my good friend Cat Schield! Some of you may recognize her from her Golden Heart win in Orlando last summer for A Case of Meddling, now titled Meddling With A Millionaire. She's a chapter mate of mine up here in the Frozen Wilds Where Spring Dare Not Bloom (otherwise known as Minnesota) and I'm delighted to have her with us today to talk about her debut Harlequin Desire, Meddling With A Millionaire.


Without any further ado, I give you Cat:

Thanks so much to the Romance Bandits for inviting me to join them today.

When people in my life find out I'm a writer, I'm often asked where I get my ideas. I tell them I borrow a lot from television, movies and songs. Something I see or hear will trigger an idea and I'm off and running.

In my debut book, I saw my hero as a throwback to those wonderful movies from the fifties. Tuxedo wearing, suave and sophisticated, but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, Nathan Case is a cross between Carry Grant and Errol Flynn. Because his mother loved Frank Sinatra, I gave Nathan a great voice and opportunities to use it. I wasn't sure if my heroine was all that impressed with his dashing charm, but it sure made me fall in love with him.

To celebrate the release of Meddling With A Millionaire, I decided to write a novella tie in called Her Secret Millionaire. (Available as a free read on my website. www.catschield.com.)

The story is about Nathan's best friend, Cody, and his journey to happily ever after. For this story, I was inspired by Glee. The opening scene of Her Secret Millionaire is a take on Baby It's Cold Outside, sung on the Christmas show by Kurt and Blaine. I've always been a huge fan of this song. The playfulness of the seduction hints at more serious undertones and provides great sexual tension.

Another Glee inspired scene comes courtesy of Will Schuster. In an episode that focused on teen drinking, he gets intoxicated and calls Emma, pouring his heart out to her. Although I was cringing in sympathy through the entire scene, I knew exactly where something like that would fit in the novella.

So where do you get your inspiration? Don't be shy! One lucky commenter will receive a copy of Cat's debut novel Meddling with a Millionaire!



Cat Schield lives in Minnesota with her daughter and their Burmese cat. Winner of the Romance Writers of America 2010 Golden Heart® for series contemporary romance, when she’s not writing sexy, romantic stories for Harlequin Desire, she can be found sailing with friends on the St. Croix River or more exotic locales like the Caribbean and Europe.

You can find her on Twitter and on Facebook, as well as on her website where you can read both her novella Her Secret Millionaire and a blurb of her debut novel Meddling With A Millionaire.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Prize Hunting in Dixie!

by Anna Campbell

Thanks, everyone, for a fabulous day in the lair yesterday. You certainly gave Lexi and her debut book a great Southern welcome.

Lexi very generously offered our commenters TWO copies of DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE. The winners are:

MODOKKER

DONNAS

Congratulations, girls. Please email Lexi on lexigeorge56 @ gmail.com (no spaces) with your snail mail details and she'll get your prize off to you. Happy reading!

Free Reads

by Suzanne

We've had a new addition to our family. A brand new baby boy! He's as cute as his mother and father, and as bald as his grandfather! (That's him over there--->)

Needless to say, I had to put blogging, writing and reading on hold for a bit. Since I have what my husband calls, "the ultimate Grandma job".

And he's right.

I'm lucky in that I have the ability to chose my daughters' doctors, hospitals, nurses AND I get to be in the delivery room for the birth of everyone of my grandchildren. Now, before you think I get all bossy in there, my coworkers will tell you, I play the role of mom/grandmother and not nurse. I don't get in their way and I don't tell them how to do their jobs. Uhm, I shouldn't have to, I trained all but two of them! :)

So now life is getting a bit more back to normal. I have time to read and visit some of my favorite blogs, like our own Bandit Lair, The Romance Dish, The Romance Writers Revenge, etc...

I've managed to start a new project in my writing. Besides working on my next erotica, revising my western historical mail-order bride story for possible publication, I've started writing some "extras" for my website for people to read. (I had hoped to have them up by now...but that baby came four weeks early!! Impatient boy!) But let me tell you a little about these "extras".

If you've read The Surrender of Lacy Morgan, then you know there are five adopted sons who grew to adulthood on Los Hombres ranch under the guiding hand of their mentor, Anson "Cap" McCarthy. Some tragedy or tragic occurrence left these boys on their own when Cap found them.

So.....I thought it might be fun for my readers to hear each of the boys' stories about how they met Cap. The first three are up today...Quinn, Dakota and Will, with Nico and Ian's stories to follow shortly after. I'd love for y'all to take a look at them, let me know your opinion. You can read them now @ www.suzanneferrell.com

And for those of you who haunt websites, have you found any with extras or free reads you like? What did you like about them? Did they make you want to read the back list of the authors? Did they make you crave more of their series or characters?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Demon Hunting in the Lair!

by Anna Campbell

We love debut authors here in the lair and I'm delighted to introduce a very talented new author who I met for an uproarious lunch a couple of RWAs ago (she's a friend of Louisa's - should be recommendation enough, huh?). Lexi's huge fun in person so I wasn't remotely surprised when I heard she'd translated that funny, snarky humor into a three-book deal with Kensington Brava.

You can find out more about Lexi at her website: www.lexigeorge.com

Here's the blurb for DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE which is out this month:

A warrior, a demon, and the girl next door…

Looking For Trouble...

Addy Corwin is a florist with an attitude. A bad attitude, or so her mama says, ‘cause she’s not looking for a man. Mama’s wrong. Addy has looked. There’s just not much to choose from in Hannah, her small Alabama hometown. Until Brand Dalvahni shows up, a supernaturally sexy, breathtakingly well-built hunk of a warrior from—well, not from around here, that’s for sure. Mama thinks he might be European or maybe even a Yankee. Brand says he’s from another dimension.

Addy couldn’t care less where he’s from. He’s gorgeous. Serious muscles. Disturbing green eyes. Brand really gets her going. Too bad he’s a whack job. Says he’s come to rescue her from a demon. Puh-lease. But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen. Dogs talk and reanimated corpses stalk the quite streets of Hannah. Her mortal enemy Meredith, otherwise known as the Death Starr, breaks out in a severe and inexplicable case of butt boils. Addy might not know what’s going on, but she definitely wants a certain sexy demon hunter by her side when it all goes down…


So without more ado, here's Lexi!

Lexi, welcome to the Bandits and huge congratulations on the release of your debut paranormal romance DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE. Can you tell us about this story?

Small town florist Addy Corwin is out running with her dog one night when she is attacked and left for dead. She is saved by Brand Dalvahni, six-foot-four inches of hard-muscled yummy. Opposites attract and, from the start, Addy is irresistibly drawn to Brand. Says he’s an immortal demon hunter and that he’s come to rescue Addy from the rogue demon that marked her.

Demons and demon hunters in boring little Hannah, Alabama? Pul-leeze!

But right after Brand shows up, strange things start to happen. Dogs talk and reanimated corpses stalk the quiet streets of Hannah. Woo woo is one thing, but what really has Addy rattled is her reaction to Brand. She goes into hormonal meltdown every time the handsome warrior comes near. And that’s not her only problem. Addy's encounter with the demon has changed her, giving her powers of her own, not to mention a startling new hair-do.

Her cosmetological troubles are nothing compared to the extreme make-over Brand gets when he meets Addy, the one female in ten thousand years who can make him forget that he’s a warrior and remember he’s a man. While Brand struggles to protect Addy from the evil creature on her trail, a demon of a different sort stalks the unsuspecting warrior: Addy’s matchmaking mama.


Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE. The scene opens in Addy’s living room where she awakes, dizzy and confused, on her couch after being attacked by a demon. Surely she imagined the whole thing? To her surprise and astonishment, the supernaturally gorgeous guy from the woods is real. And he’s in her house! She tells him to leave and he refuses. Says he’s there to protect her from the djegrali—his word for 'demon'. Addy thinks he’s a total babe. Too bad he’s a whack job.

Addy stepped away from the couch and her knees buckled.

One moment Brand was across the room, his shoulder against the wall, the picture of aloof boredom, and the next she was in his arms. She closed her eyes and swallowed a sigh as she was lifted against his hard chest. The man sure had muscles, she’d give him that.

“You will recline, at once.” His tone was stern.

Okay, muscles and a few control issues.

She opened her eyes as he lowered her to the couch, and saw a grimace of pain flash across his features. It was the first expression of any kind she’d seen on his face, unless you counted the lip twitch thing. The man could give a marble statue lessons in being stoic.

She caught his arm as he started to rise. “That thing hurt you!”

He stilled, his gaze on her fingers wrapped around his wrist. “You are mistaken. The djegrali did not injure me. It is your touch that disturbs me.”

Addy stiffened and drew back.“Well, excuse the hell out of me.”

He caught her by the hand. “You misunderstand. You do not repulse me.”

He knelt down beside her. He put his fingers under her chin and tilted her face with gentle fingers. Addy stifled a gasp. Who was this guy? The merest touch from him and her breasts tingled and she felt all hot and wobbly inside. What was the matter with her?

“Look at me,” he commanded.

Sweet Sister Ruth, he had a voice was like whiskey and smoke. She shivered and raised her eyes to his. He stroked her cheek with his thumb, a rapt expression on his face. His thumb drifted lower to brush her bottom lip. “You must be patient with me, Adara Jean Corwin. The Dalvahni do not experience emotion. It would be superfluous. We exist for one purpose and one purpose alone: to hunt the djegrali. For ten thousand years, that has been my objective, until now.”

“Ten thousand years, huh?” With an effort, she squelched the sudden urge to scrape the pad of his thumb with her teeth. No doubt about it, she was in hormonal meltdown. “Sounds boring. You need to get a new hobby, expand your horizons.”

“Earth is but one of the realms where the Dalvahni hunt the djegrali.”

Oh, brother, too bad. He was paying a visit to schizoid-land again.

Then the impact of his words percolated through the fog of lust that set her brain and her body on fire.

“Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t tell you my name!”

“The animal you call Dooley informed me of many things, including how to find this dwelling.”

“You don’t say? Funny, she’s never said a thing to me in four years.”

He put his hand on her shoulder as she tried to sit up.“You will not rise,” he said with annoying calm.

“Oh, yeah? That’s what you think, bub.”

She pushed at his arm, an exercise in futility. The man was built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

His hand slid over her abdomen and down her running shorts to her legs.His hand felt hot against her bare skin.

“Dooley, come here,” he said.

The dog rose and trotted over to the couch.

Brand traced an intricate pattern with his fingers along the skin of her inner thigh. Addy began to shake. What was happening to her? This was so unlike her. All her life she’d struggled to rein in her reckless nature, the wild streak that made her mama wring her hands in despair. Self-control was her hard-earned mantra. Think first and feel later. But this guy . . . this guy really got her going, made her want to throw caution to the wind. She wanted to arch her hips against his hand, a stranger’s hand.

“Speak, Dooley,” Brand said with his gaze on Addy’s face.

“DOOLEY LOVE ADDY. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE,” the Lab said in the growly voice of a three-pack-a-day smoker. Flinging up a back paw, she scratched her ear. “CAN DOOLEY HAVE CHICKEN LEG IN COLD BOX? CAN DOOLEY?” Her head snapped around. "OH, LOOK, A BUG!"

There was a long moment of silence as Addy gaped at her dog in shock. Slowly, she raised her eyes to Brand’s.

“Who are you?”

A slight crease appeared between Brand’s brows. The expression in his eyes grew puzzled.
“Until tonight, I thought I knew.”

Lowering his dark head, he kissed her.

Whiskey and smoke, huh? Works for me! You’ve got a novella, “The Bride Wore Demon Dust”, in what looks like a really fun anthology called SO I MARRIED A DEMON SLAYER that comes out in August. Please give us the lowdown on this story.

"The Bride Wore Demon Dust” is the story of a runaway bride. Bunny Raines is the librarian in the small town of Hannah—the town that is the setting of the first book. The story opens at a quaint church on a river. It is Bunny’s wedding day and she is blissfully happy to be marrying the man of her dreams—Rafe Dalvahni, six foot four inches of hard muscled, masculine yummy. To Bunny’s horror and dismay, she discovers—after she’s married!—that her boring little hometown is infested with demons, and her husband is an immortal demon slayer. The ‘mugger’ he saved her from the night they met was a demon, and Rafe saved her from certain death by giving her part of his essence.

Not only is she married to a total stranger, she’s changed species! Worse, she’s pregnant . . . although she hasn’t told Rafe about the baby yet.

Distraught and confused, Bunny flees the wedding and Rafe goes after her. Unfortunately, so does the demon that tried to kill her. Having marked her, the demon is irresistibly drawn to her, especially now that she’s a powerful Dalvahni and a worthy receptacle for the demon.


Sounds great! Here in the lair, we love call stories. Will you please share yours?

I’ve been writing for more than 16 years. My first two books were part of a romantic fantasy series. I knew nothing about fiction writing. Never took a class or read a book on writing, just started writing and loved it. So, I’m self-taught. I joined a writer’s group about five years ago and that was a tremendous help. Getting feed-back and constructive criticism is essential, in my opinion. You can’t write in a vacuum, not if you want to get published. There are rules and you have to learn about them before you can break them.

Around the same time that I joined the writer’s group, I started the querying rounds on the first book of the romantic fantasy that I’d been working on for more than ten years. I got rejected. Big time. Something like a hundred ‘no thanks.’ Discouraged, I decided to try my hand at a paranormal romance. The book took a year to write and the result was DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE, my debut book with Kensington. The book was a total surprise. When I started writing it, I thought it was going to be dark. But it quickly morphed into something else. This snarky voice came out of me that I never knew existed. It was amazing and liberating.

I had done well on the contest circuit while writing the book and I was jazzed.
This is it, I thought. This is the one that will make it! In January 2010, I started querying and received a flurry of requests for partials and fulls from agents. I was excited and hopeful . . . and then the rejections started pouring in. Light paranormal doesn’t sell, was the consensus. I was devastated. Another series dead in the water.

I went on my romance writer’s loop and whined and a woman I barely knew at the time sent me an email. There was an interview of Megan Records on line that I needed to check out, she said, and then I needed to query her. I had never thought about querying an editor—too focused on getting an agent. I read the interview and Megan said she saw a lot of dark paranormal. No surprise there, that’s what the agents had said was selling. But then Megan said something that made me sit up and take notice. I don’t see much funny anymore, but I’d like to.

I sent Megan a query letter, referencing her interview and said, I write funny! She sent me back an email and asked for the full. This was in February of 2010.

On March 11, 2010, I was on my way to the doctor for a recheck because I had broken by foot in two places in February. I fell off my shoe. It’s a talent, I know. Anyway, a friend was driving me and my sad, casted foot to the doctor when my cell phone rang. I almost didn’t answer it, because it was an out-of-state call. I figured it was a wrong number or one of those Nigerian bank schemes. I answered the phone and, boy, am I ever glad I did! It was Megan Records calling to offer me a three-book deal! Good thing I wasn’t driving. I would have wrecked the car!


Great story! What’s next for Lexi George?

I am hard at work on book two of the demon hunter series, tentatively entitled DEMON HUNTING IN THE DEEP SOUTH. The deadline on book two is in June and it will be out next year. After that, it’s on to book three, DEMON HUNTING IN A DIVE BAR.

If the series does well, I have three more demon hunter books in mind.

Because my spies have been following you for years, I know you’re an enthusiastic amateur thespian. How do you think your acting experience feeds into your writing?

I think anything creative, whether it be dancing, painting, acting, quilting, etc., gets your juices flowing. I started out writing poetry in elementary, but the words dried up when I went to law school. The thing that freed my inner muse was scrap booking! I started scrap booking when my kids were little. Tapping into my creative side opened me up to other possibilities within myself and, from there, I turned to writing. Acting does the same thing. Being creative fills you with joy, connects you to the divine, and spills over to other things in a positive way.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


Read, read, read, and WRITE! Writing is a craft and it’s a muscle that gets stronger with exercise. Try to write something every day, whether it’s a letter, blog, a short story, an essay, poetry—whatever. Check out some of the wonderful craft books on writing out there. Stephen King’s ON WRITING is an excellent one. Take advantage of the internet. There is a wealth of knowledge available at your fingertips on everything from structure and plot to POV and dialogue tags. Join a writer’s group or start one of your own. Even if you don’t all write the same thing, it is exciting to be around other writers, and you will learn from one another. Brain storming with other writers is great. A writers' group will also teach you to give and accept constructive criticism.

Also, be ready to face rejection. It is part of the process. It sucks. It stings. It hurts. It knocks your feet out from under you and throws you into a spiral of self doubt. Give yourself a day to pout and sing the “I Suck” song, then shake it off and get back on the horse. Remember that writing is subjective. You cannot write a book that will please everyone. Write the book
you want to read. Name an author, classic or otherwise, that everybody loves universally. You can’t, because people have different tastes. You are going to be rejected on the road to being published. After you get published, guess what? You face rejection again! There will be reviewers that love you and those that hate you, as I am already finding out. You will work with editors who want you to revise your manuscript. You may submit a proposal on your next fabulous series idea and get rejected on that too. But, don’t give up. If you give up, you will lose. Believe in yourself and persevere.Writing is not for wimps.

Lexi, do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandit Buddies?

I’d really love to hear about YOUR creative outlet. Writing, scrap booking, painting, sculpting, photography, cooking? What gets you inner muse going?

Lexi is very generously giving away TWO copies of DEMON HUNTING IN DIXIE today to commenters so good luck, people!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Closing a Circle

by Nancy

On the surface, this looks like every other summer vacation. The boy finished school last week and is now upstairs noodling on his guitar, I'm on the computer writing this blog, and the dh is at school, most likely in a meeting. But it isn't like every other summer vacation. Under that placid surface, a seismic shift has occurred.

The boy graduated from high school. He "finished" it in the truest sense of the word.

Many of you have seen your children take that walk across the stage, some of you more than once. You know what it's like. His father and I are coming to terms with the fact that 13 years of dropping him off, picking him up, and packing his lunch are over.

The school calendar has come off the refrigerator instead of staying there until I replace it with the new one in August. The university calendar doesn't have a list of parent conferences, short days, long weekends, or other things we need to pay attention to. So there's a big, blank spot on the freezer compartment door. I'll rearrange the magnets and and fill the space, of course. Just not quite yet.

Come August, we won't just be checking to be sure his calculator still works and he has clothes that fit and his backpack and lunchbox are still holding up. We'll also be buying sheets and towels and boxing his stuff and packing the car. The backpack will go with him. The lunchbox will not. He has carried it since middle school, so it owes him no service, but not seeing it in the kitchen every night will seem strange.

This past Mothers Day and my most recent birthday are the last ones for which the boy will be home. Next year, we won't be able to decide, in a leisurely way, which movie and which showing we're going to see as a celebration and then roll out to do it. Not with the boy far, far away preparing for the end of his semester. The dh and I can pick a movie, of course, and likely will, but it won't be the same.

The guys usually get me flowers for Mothers Day. The boy picks and the dh pays. This was the last time for that, too. Mothers Day without the boy? Not to be contemplated. Yet I have to wrap my head around it. Much as we'll miss him, we wouldn't hold him back for the world.

There's a popular poster that says the two things parents should give their children are roots and wings. The dh and I are about to see how well we did with that.

When the boy was just a baby, he loved country music on the old Nashville Network. That was the year Alan Jackson's "Chattahoochie" was a mega-hit. No matter how sleepy the boy was, the first few bars of that song made his eyelids pop open as though they were spring-loaded.

We danced with him in front of the TV and bought the CD. His fascination with the song extended into toddlerhood though his musical tastes have since changed.

When he was not quite two, we were in a Waldenbooks one night, and the boy was motoring down the aisle by the magazines in that lurching gait toddlers use. Suddenly, he slammed on the brakes. He squatted on his haunches to peer at the music magazines on the bottom rack. One magazine bore Alan Jackson's picture on the cover. "Aljack," the boy announced in that clear, piping voice common to small children. Then he gave a quick nod, as though satisfied with this statement, straightened his little legs, and motored on.

The span of time between that moment and this seems less than a heartbeat, but the munchkin who used to hug me around the knees is taller than I am now, and his voice has dropped to the basement.

His graduation has made me remember my own and reminded me of a photo my father took that night. Daddy supported everything we did. He volunteered for the Girl Scouts and the church youth organization and the marching band boosters. But he was not Ward Cleaver. He treated conversations with emotional overtones much as he might have treated the bubonic plague, as something to be avoided if at all possible.

As I walked up the aisle with my high school diploma in hand, Daddy stepped out to take a picture. It didn't turn out very well by most standards. It was at a crazy angle, and the only part of me that was visible was my face, down in the lower right corner. But it spoke volumes about his feelings at that moment, and so I cherish it.

As the boy's school orchestra played the first bars of "Pomp and Circumstance" and the seniors marched toward us in their caps and gowns, my throat closed. My eyes stung and glazed. I was very much in danger of becoming what our Regency fans would describe as "a watering pot." But I managed to push the sentiment back because I wanted to watch our son during every moment of this wonderful occasion that marked the end of his childhood.

I knew then how my father felt on that long-ago night. What went around has come around. As the late, great Harry Chapin said, "all my life's a circle," and that circle in my life, from me to the boy and my parents to me, is now complete. I wish they had lived to see him walk across the stage looking so very grown up.

I've bought the "Chattahoochie" video for my iPad, to pull the memories close when the boy is so far away.


Do you have graduations or other big occasions in your family this year? What was a watershed moment in your life? How did you feel, and what were you thinking about?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Most Comfortable Bed in the World

by Kate Carlisle

Please don’t think I’m bragging when I tell you this. I’ve traveled a lot, and through my travels I have discovered that The Most Comfortable Bed in the World is at my house. In my bedroom. I don’t mean to rub it in or make you jealous. I’m simply stating proven, scientific fact.

As you all know, I was on book tour recently, promoting MURDER UNDER COVER. I traveled to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and North Carolina, and I had an amazing time. I even got some face-to-face with a couple of Banditas and Buddies. (*waving wildly at Caren and Nancy and Deb*)

I’m a social person and an adventurer, so I love getting out of the house, hitting the road, going places I’ve never been and meeting people I’ve never met. It’s fun, frantic, and exhausting. When the tour is done, I’m thrilled to come home to The Most Comfortable Bed in the World.

You probably wouldn’t recognize it as such if you saw it. It’s not a massive sleigh bed with mattresses you’d need a ladder to climb into. It’s not a four-poster draped with a luxurious canopy of fabrics. It’s just a bed… but it’s my bed. Well, mine and my husband’s, but the fact that he’s in it is part of what makes it The Most Comfortable Bed in the World.

It has exactly the right number of blankets. It’s firm but not too firm, and if there are any lumps, they’re me-shaped lumps. The lamp on my nightstand is precisely an arm-length away, as measured by my arm. And I always have a stack of books waiting to be read.



The sheets – oh, the sheets! Sighhhhhhhhhhhh. Climbing into those sheets instantly releases the tension of the day. If you take only one thing away from this post, let it be this: indulge yourself in the best sheets you can afford. You can get great deals on quality sheets when stores have sales. It makes such a difference to lay your cheek against a soft, tightly woven pillowcase. And my pillow? Oh, my. That’s a whole ‘nuther blog post altogether.



I’ve stayed in some really wonderful hotels while on tour, but no hotel can hope to compete with The Most Comfortable Bed in the World.

It’s good to be home.




Do you think your bed could compete with mine for the title of Most Comfortable Bed in the World? What do you do to make your bedroom comfortable? What do you miss the most when you’re away from home?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Many Genres, One Craft

By KJ Howe

I had the pleasure of attending Seton Hill University while completing my Master's in Popular Fiction, and, recently, a large group of graduates have contributed to a fabulous book about the craft of writing. MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT is a compilation of craft articles from graduates of Seton Hill, and it was edited by the talented Heidi Ruby Miller and Mike Arnzen. I'm proud to be part of such an exciting project, and I thought I'd introduce a few of the romance contributors to our Romance Bandits crew.

First, I'd like to introduce the wonderful Dana Marton who came to the United States from Hungary, learned English and sold her romance novels to Harlequin. She's an absolute inspiration:

Romance is a big part of my books. Usually, with a Harlequin Intrigue, 40% of my plot is romance while 60% is suspense. Romance adds an extra layer of conflict, an extra layer of color and substance to the suspense plot. It brings everything into focus and brings things to another level. A lot of my heroes are commando type or secret agents, etc.—tough and rough. They're not very much in touch with their softer side So it's always interesting to watch them fall in love.

I've only published romantic suspense so far, but I've written in other sub-genres of romance. The romantic element does vary, as does the sensuality level. Ultimately, every element must serve the story itself. The romance must fit the personalities of the main characters. Their feelings and how they react to their feelings should reveal a lot about them. Do they jump in with both feet? Do they resist? Why?

-Dana Marton, author of The Socialite and the Bodyguard and The Spy Who Saved Christmas

LINKS:

Dana Marton - http://www.danamarton.com

The Socialite and the Bodyguard - http://www.amazon.com/Socialite-Bodyguard-ebook/dp/B002WEPF8O/ref=sr_1_cc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306029288&sr=1-1-catcorr

The Spy Who Saved Christmas - http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Who-Saved-Christmas-ebook/dp/B0041KLEWS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1306029355&sr=1-1

--

Next up is Penny Dawn, and this girl writes the best love scenes ever, so if you're looking for some hot romance, check out Penny. Her storytelling abilities, both on paper and in person are unforgettable:

Romance plays a great part in all of my work, even if I'm writing psychological thrillers. I believe characters ought to be written true to life, and I've yet to meet a human not interested in romance. Disinterested in dating? Sure. Disgruntled with marriage? Absolutely. But most people thrive on sharing themselves with another.

In books centered around relationships, obviously, the romance is the main focus. However, if I'm writing criminal suspense (of which I am currently in the throes with the marvelous Patrick W. Picciarelli,) romantic inclinations become subplots, meant to enhance characters. As my work is character-driven, I use romance to flesh out the personas in my head. To my thinking, one finds herself only after a major experience in politics, religion, occupation/economics, or matters of the heart. Once I drive a character through desire, heartache, climax, and fulfillment, she's reached Velveteen Rabbit status--she may as well be alive.

I have never written without romance, and I've rarely written without sensual threads. I hope I never see the day, when I stray from this edict. Love is a pulse within each of us. Ignoring it is detrimental to character development.

-Penny Dawn, author of The Carman Chronicles and Measuring Up

LINKS:

Penny Dawn - http://www.pennydawn.com

The Carman Chronicles - http://www.amazon.com/Bejeweled-Scepter-Carman-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B001QBPM3C/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1306028916&sr=1-4

Measuring Up - http://www.amazon.com/Measuring-Up-Penny-Dawn/dp/1592797555/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1306029188&sr=1-1

--

And please welcome Adina Senft who has written under several names. She amazes me with her ability to be successful in any genre. And, for everyone who knows about our Golden Rooster, you may be interested in asking about Adina's chickens!:

Whether I’m writing a young adult novel, a category romance, or a women’s fiction novel set on an Amish farm, romance always factors into my plots because the courtship story is so important to me. I could be reading a hardboiled David Morrell thriller, but if he puts a romance thread in there, that’s what will hook me rather than the flying bullets. So when I’m writing, romance is inevitable.

It does vary with the type of book I’m working on, though. In category or single title romance, of course, the courtship and building the relationship is the whole plot, and issues and subplots are secondary to it. But in YA and women’s fiction, the core story is about a woman finding herself and her place in a community, so the focus is on the journey of self-discovery. Along the way, in my books at least, part of that self-discovery includes my heroine’s capacity to love someone and build a meaningful, healthy relationship. This can happen in a co-ed boarding school, as in my "All About Us" series of teen books, or in a farm community in the Amish country of Pennsylvania.

It’s almost more challenging for me to write the romance thread in women’s fiction novels, because the reader may not be the core romance reader who is looking for that satisfying conclusion—the happy ending. And in YA, for example, it wouldn’t be appropriate for a 17-year-old looking forward to her high school graduation to find "the one" and get married. But she is looking for an emotional connection as part of her growth as a human being, and my urge to write romance can be satisfied with a first kiss for that character. In my women’s fiction, especially in the Amish setting, that first kiss can pack the punch of an entire love scene. There may not be as much romance in such a story as there is in a single title, but as the writer, I want to make it immensely satisfying—both for myself and for the reader.

-Adina Senft, author of The Wounded Heart

LINKS:

Adina Senft - http://www.adinasenft.com

The Wounded Heart - http://www.amazon.com/Wounded-Heart-Amish-Quilt-Novel/dp/0892968540/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1306029131&sr=1-7

--

And, Heidi Ruby Miller's incredible organizational skills are evident in everything she does, from building unforgettable worlds for readers to reaching out to every student at Seton Hill and making them feel special. A huge thank you to Heidi for her efforts in putting this book together:

The tag line for my latest novel, Ambasadora, says it best: If everyone told you love wasn't real, would you still be willing to die for it?

Of course, we want the characters to say YES, then prove it! And, mine always do.

My brand is strength through a lover, so the relationship is just as important to me as the adventure. The adventure takes many forms—space opera, thrillers, fantasy—but the coming together of one or more couples within that framework is a must for the story. I love reading emotional scenes of intimacy, and for me, they are just as exhilarating to write, so I make consummating the relationship as big of a grail as stopping the bad guy. In my mind, it's the most satisfying ending.

It was only in my recent work that I wasn't afraid to admit how much I loved seeing couples fall in love because as a woman trying to write science fiction and spy thrillers, I felt I had to write for a male audience and feared losing that audience to sentimentality. So I wrote like I thought a man would write and about things I thought a man would write about. It was difficult always holding back what I really wanted to put on the paper, reworking the vision I had for my own work. Then one day I had enough and just started to write for myself—a woman who likes to be titillated by those shy glances and deep kisses as much as she likes the adrenaline rush of two powerful characters coming to blows. I found out that romance makes my stories better, and it certainly makes me happy when I'm writing them.

-Heidi Ruby Miller, author of Ambasadora and co-editor of Many Genres, One Craft

LINKS:

Heidi Ruby Miller - http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com

Ambasadora - http://www.amazon.com/Ambasadora-ebook/dp/B004ZR9WOY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=generic&qid=1306028891&sr=1-1

Many Genres, One Craft – http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1306029060&sr=1-1

Many Genres blog – http://manygenres.blogspot.com

Thanks to all you for coming to visit the lair today. I have such fond memories of my time at Seton Hill and meeting all of you. For anyone looking to find a craft book with many different perspectives and genres, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT could be the right fit for you.

--

To Virgin or not to Virgin



by Donna MacMeans

I have a secret. I have to admit I'm a little bit nervous about my August release.

You see in all my other books, the heroine has been
a virgin. This isn't a shocker as many, if not most, historicals utilize a virginal heroine. There's a reason for this. Sex was a lot riskier in the nineteenth century (and earlier). It came with consequences beyond that of the heart. This was a time when property passed from father to son - and if that son wasn't really his son - well that might prove problematic. While a means of birth control existed, it wasn't necessarily pleasant and reliablel - not like today - and we won't begin to talk about STPs. So a virginal heroine makes sense - but not always. In REDEEMING THE ROGUE, my heroine thought
she was engaged and offered her virtue as proof of her love. Too bad she gave it up to a slug. I can't call her a woman of experience - not after one unsatisfactory experience - but she's not a virgin either. So I'm a bit
nervous about that.

Now in contemporaries and paranormals, the heroines are often very experienced. I'm guessing that the virginal heroine in a contemporary is as unusual as a non-virginal heroine is in a historical. They're out there but their existence requires a little explanation. LOL - I just remembered
that my one and only contemporary romantic suspense, IN A HEARTBEAT, published under the name Donna Richards also had a virgin heroine...but there was a reason for that - and it helped play into a really hot love scene. Thus I've published three historicals and one contemporary - all with virginal heroines...can you see why I'm a little nervous about this new release?

So I'm curious about your preferences, virgin or non-virgin. Do you have a preference? Is it a preference tied to genre? What are your thoughts?

I'll let you in on a secret. I've had to type this blog pretty much one-handed due to our recent new addition, Shadow. We went to the animal shelter looking for a puppy, but didn't see one that would suit - so we brought a kitten home. I picked out a black kitten as Anna Sugden once told me that people tend not to adopt black cats. While there were some really cute striped kitties available - we decided to adopt one that had a strike against it through no fault of her own. I can pretty much guarantee, she's a virgin (grin).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bandit Booty!


by Beth

Thank you all so much for helping me celebrate the release of THE PRODIGAL SON!

ClaudiaGC and Marybelle have both won a copy of TPS!! Congrats, ladies *g* Please send your snail mail info to me at: beth@bethandrews.net and I'll get your books out to you right away :-)

Quick 5 - You know it's a bad day when ...

by Anna Sugden

Hopefully, you're all having a great weekend; the weather is glorious, the flowers are blooming, the kids/furry babies are in good spirits and your sports teams are winning.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it isn't one of THOSE days. You know the ones I mean ... where nothing seems to go right.

There is always a little harbinger of doom to tell you that this is one of THOSE days. As I said to my lovely hubby, the other day, you know it's going to be a bad day when the only yoghurt flavour left is apricot *blech*.

Which got me to thinking ... what clues do I have that it's not going to be a great day? And wouldn't that be a cool topic for a Quick 5?

Since it's a weekend and we're all having great days *g*, I thought I'd ask you to give me five signs that it isn't a good day and one sign that it's going to be a great day.

Here are mine.

You know it's a bad day when ...

1. The only yoghurt flavour left is apricot

2. The little internet icon on your computer says no connection

3. You're woken by a loud thud or crash.

4. You get one of those brown envelopes with a window in the post

5. Your two little feline hunters are camped out by the wine rack, ready to pounce, and growl when you come near.

You know it's a great day when your hubby brings home a bouquet of your favourite flowers for no reason! (check these out!!)

Over to you! What's your Quick 5 for sign it's a bad day? What's your one sign that it's going to be a great day?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cabinet Envy

by Caren Crane


The green-eyed monster has visited me recently. This is something of an "occasion" in my life, for I rarely envy anyone for any reason. In the past few seasons, though, several friends (including our own lovely Susan Sey) have remodeled their kitchens. All the talk of new cabinet facings, countertops and flooring has made me look around at my own kitchen with a disparaging eye. Yes, friends, it happened to me: cabinet envy.



Our house was built in 1979 and I don't think the couple who built it were the cutting-edge types. When we moved in, the kitchen had wallpaper featuring partridges and fruit in shades of brown and mustard. Okay, it wasn't as bad as the wallpaper in this picture, but still very 1970s. The partridges are gone but the faux butcher-block countertops remain. The cabinets are dark-stained wood in a faintly Spanish style (though I changed out the dungeon-door pulls years ago). The vinyl flooring is the original: small squares in shades of brown, showing its 32 years of wear and tear. Everywhere my eyes rest, there is Work To Be Done.


I have daydreams of sparkling new flooring, sleek countertops and blond wood cabinets. The bathrooms need Major Work, as well. To be perfectly honest, I haven't touched the dining room or the guest room since we moved in, though everything else has at least had new paint. When we were younger, my husband and I would regularly take a week of vacation each year just to work on the house. That came to an end when we finally had enough money to take actual vacations, to which we quickly became addicted. Alas, poor house!

Since we will have an Empty Nest after next school year, I have been bitten and bitten hard by the Relocation Bug. We won't be able to sell our house, though, unless we first do some remodeling. So, the remodeling will get done, but then I won't be in the house to enjoy it. It's the most ironic sort of irony ever! Really, though, we are older now and lack the energy to keep up the 1.1-acre yard, the house and the *^%# swimming pool (that I never wanted!). I think it will be worth the money and effort to get rid of the house and buy something a bit smaller with no yard to speak of.

The kids are already whining about us selling the house (which won't happen for a few years, I'm sure), but my husband is on board. I thought he would fight it, but the prospect of not having to be lawn boy and pool boy both seems to have enticed him. (Here's one for the 'Raising Hope' fans - Burt the Flirt!)

What about you? Has the change of seasons made you restless and discontent with the status quo in your living space? Had a friend do a spiffy remodel that has you drooling on her granite countertop? Or have you already done the remodel and are now resting, contented, on your updated laurels? Oh, and I REALLY want to know if anyone has had to do updates in order to sell. I am your captive, so please tell me all!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A New Day, A New Launch Party!



by Beth

It's launch party time again in the lair! THE PRODIGAL SON is out now and I'm thrilled to celebrate its release with my fellow Bandits, our Bandit Buddies and, of course, Sven, the Gladiators and the Hockey Hunks ;-)

THE PRODIGAL SON is the second book in my Diamond Dust trilogy for Harlequin Superromance and tells the story of Matt Sheppard, the youngest of three brothers, and Connie Henkel, who works as the vineyard manager for the Sheppard's winery. Here's what the back cover says:

He always gets what he wants--and that's made Matt Sheppard an international success as a vintner. So he never saw his mother's blackmail coming. She says she'll sell the family's vineyard if he doesn't stay put for exactly one year. But running the Diamond Dust with his brothers was his father's dream, not his. Now he's shackled to the place by familial ties as strong as vines and tight enough to strangle him.

Worse, he's forced to work with a resentful manager, Connie Henkel. Her mile-long legs can't distract him from his goal: to improve the business and get out as soon as he can. Because if the single mom entwines herself around Matt's heart, he'll never be able to leave.

Here's a quick excerpt from when Connie approaches Matt after his brother's bachelor party:

“So,” Connie said, turning slightly in her seat to face him. “How’d the party go? Anything wild happen? Any Hangover moments?”

He grinned, appreciating her reference to the movie. “No tigers or babies have been spotted and as far as I know, everyone still has all of their teeth.”

“As long as the groom does, that’s all that matters.” The bartender set a glass of ice water in front of her and Connie smiled her thanks to him. Took a sip before clearing her throat. “Look, about last night--”

“Are you going to apologize?”

Her pretty mouth thinned. “For putting an arrogant man in his place? Can’t say I’ve ever regretted that,” she told him, reminding him of his words when he’d asked if he should apologize for kissing her.

“So you’re obviously not here to beg my forgiveness. Did you come over expecting me to apologize?”

Brushing her short bangs to the side, she stared down at her water. His own fingers twitched with the need to touch her hair. To see if it was a soft as he imagined.

“I came over because…” She stirred the ice in her glass with her straw then abruptly let go and met his eyes. “I came over because you looked…alone.”

“Hard to be alone when I’m surrounded by people.”

“Okay,” she said slowly. “Maybe alone wasn’t the right word. More like…lonely.”

The muscles in his shoulders tensed but he didn’t move. Couldn’t. Not when his breath was locked in his chest. Not when he was afraid she was right.

Still, he forced a grin. “Not lonely,” he assured her as he deliberately slid his gaze down her figure lazily before holding her gaze. “But glad for the company anyway.”


Enough chit chat...let's get this party started!! Crank up the margarita machine! Dim the lights! Buff the Cabana Boys! And, most importantly, turn up the music! This is a party after all, and what better way to celebrate then by hitting the dance floor?

What song gets you out on the dance floor? What song gets your groove thang shaking when you hear it, no matter if you're at home, in your car or at the store? I'll give away copies of THE PRODIGAL SON to two commenters today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Day I Became A Celebrity

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

The iconoclastic artist Andy Warhol was once quoted as saying, "In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."

Well, I got part of my fifteen minutes, if not exactly fame then a taste of what it is like to be a celebrity. It happened in Thailand, an amazing and beautiful country with some of the nicest people in the world.

DH and I were doing a 'self tour' of the Summer Palace which is a short boat ride up the river from Bangkok. The palace is actually about a dozen different buildings on extensive, beautifully landscaped grounds. I was walking by myself across a pretty little stone bridge over an ornamental pond, when I heard a huge group of school children approaching. There must have been a couple hundred of them, around ten years old and wearing crisp blue and white uniforms. Undoubtedly they were on a field trip.

I scooted out of the way, and stood with my back against the low stone railing of the bridge to let the big noisy group pass. As the first dozen kids walked by me, they all stared (I was probably one of the first if not THE first American they'd ever seen live and in person). Then, one bold youngster shouted out, "Hello!" To which I answered, "Hello!" This brought a gale of nervous giggles, followed by a raucous chorus of hellos.

After a few dozen more kids, all chirping out "hello" like myna birds, scurried past me, one little boy got brave and stuck out his hand while exclaiming, "hello." I obligingly shook his hand and said hello back. Well, that opened the flood gates! Next thing I knew, about a hundred enthusiastic kids were crowded around me, all shouting hello and grabbing for my hands.

YIKES! It was more than a bit scary!

All those eager little bodies pressing around me could have easily sent me over the railing and into the pond. Dozens of them might have fallen with me! Fortunately that didn't happen. I kept smiling, shouting hello, and grabbing as many outstretched hands as I could, while the teachers herded the kids the rest of the way across the bridge. They also smiled and bobbed their heads in thanks to me.

The whole incident lasted maybe ten minutes, but it felt like a lot longer at the time. When I got back to the DH, I collapsed onto the shady bench beside him and said, "Now I know how Michael Jackson feels."

And I can just imagine the discussions in the school yard days later. While one kid brags about his adventure, another kid whines, "No fair! We didn't get to shake hands with an American tourist at the Summer Palace!"

Have you had your fifteen minutes of fame? Maybe five minutes? Please share your exploits as a celebrity with Aunty and the rest of us here in the Lair!