Sunday, July 31, 2011

WHODUNNIT????

posted by Jo Robertson
Our visitors are very clever; many of you pointed your fingers toward the Golden Rooster, and I must admit, he's a likely thief.
But, let's face it (whispering loudly), I don't think the chook's smart enough to pull it off.
After much deliberation, I let my two sons decide and . . . ta dah!!! Tyler and Rand are sure the culprit is . . . WAIT FOR IT!!! . . .
A Conspiracy of the Outside Caterers!!! The e-book download goes to DONNELL
Donnell, send your snail addy to jo.lewisrobertson@yahoo.com and when the download is available, I'll see you receive it.
The winner of a free copy print copy of THE WATCHER by random drawing for those of you who sent me your address is . . .
ELLIE!!! Congratulations. Your book will be going out this week.
Thanks to everyone for playing our CSI game Saturday.
FYI: I'll be blogging at the following sites on the corresponding dates:
Aug 3 -- www.romancewritersrevenge.com with Terri O. and Ms. Hellion
Aug 9 -- www.theromancedish.com with P.J. and the gang
Aug 12 -- www.thoughtsovercoffee.com with Sia M.
Aug 16 -- www.masoncanyon.blogspot.com with Mason's "Thoughts in Progress"
Aug 22 -- www.romanceuniversity.org with Jen T.
Aug 25 -- www.auntycindy.blogspot.com with Aunty Cindy
Aug 31 -- www.fivescribes.com with Donnell

Summertime and the Living Is (Not) Easy!

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

We've reached the end of another GREAT month in the Lair and I'm thrilled to send July out with a BANG (or is that boom?) by welcoming my good friend and Lair favorite Marie Force back for a visit. The third book in Marie's "Fatal" series, Fatal Consequences, was released this month, along with a lot of other stuff. But I'll let Marie tell you all about it:

Greetings to the Banditas! Thank you SO much to my dear friend Aunty Cindy and the gang for having me back again to celebrate the release of my new book, Fatal Consequences. This is book 3 in my Fatal Series, which pairs D.C. homicide detective Lt. Sam Holland with U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano. The Fatal books mix romance with politics and mystery, and book 3 has plenty of all three. Here’s a brief bit about the book:

The murder of two members of the Capitol Cleaning Service might’ve been just another homicide investigation—that is if one of them hadn’t been romantically involved with a married senator from Arizona. Lt. Sam Holland and her team are plunged into another complex case that at first seems open and shut. But as Sam tugs on the threads of the investigation she uncovers a deep, dark Washington secret that threatens the careers of some of the government’s highest-ranking officials. Racing to catch a killer before he can strike again, Sam and her fiancé, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano, attempt to plan a wedding while her colleague Detective Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales faces life-changing news.

It’s fitting that I should end what has been one of the most insane months of my life with my friends at the Romance Bandits. I definitely need to celebrate that July 2011 is coming to an end. Let me give you the rundown… keeping in mind that Fatal book 4, Fatal Flaw, was due yesterday.

July began with the final day of the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City. Fatal Flaw was about half done at this point, and not going well for reasons to be discussed later. After sprinting home to spend the Fourth of July holiday with my family, I had to re-pack for a six-day trip to Atlanta for my day job’s annual meeting. Not a word got written on Flaw while my daughter and I were in Atlanta.

Returning home, we celebrated her 16th birthday and the launch of Fatal Consequences, both on the 18th. That same day, she started driver’s ed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. for ten straight weekdays. Oh the joy of hauling a sixteen-year-old out of bed at 5:20 a.m., in the summer, for driver’s ed. Around that same time, she got her first real job, working as a hostess in a five-star restaurant in downtown Newport, RI, which is about thirty minutes from where we live. And did I mention my son, soon-to-be 13, is attending sailing camp, also in downtown Newport, but during the day. One kid to Newport in the morning, the other kid to Newport in the afternoon and an 11 p.m. pickup for the working girl. My husband helps, but since I work from home, most of it falls on me.

Did I mention that we are gearing up at work to move our company’s website to a new platform? To save some money, we decided to hand move all 800 pages and 10,000 linked files and images ourselves. And that started this week , the same week my book is due and the same week the quarterly magazine I edit for work is on deadline. Calgon, where are you when I need you? Thankfully, (and I never thought I’d say this), our designer is running late on the magazine, and it got bumped to next week. There is a God.

Back to Fatal Flaw, which hung over my head like a shiny, sharp guillotine this entire month. I finished it at 9 p.m. on July 29, the day before it was due. I wrote 18,000 words in three days, and my hands feel like they’re 80 and arthritic. Thankfully, I have three faithful beta readers who were critiquing as I went, which is how we managed to discover. . .wait for it. . . a fatal flaw in the story.

This is my 19th book, so I have somewhat of a routine by now, but nothing was working, and I didn’t have the luxury of time to blame it on the stress and chaos of my life. The writing was like pulling teeth, and I couldn’t figure out why. Then, when I was 70,000 words into the book, my betas helped me identify a major problem (aka the fatal flaw) in the story. Once I fixed that by writing five new opening chapters—something I have never done before—the writing flowed the way it normally does, giving me an ‘ah-ha’ moment: If the writing is like pulling teeth, something is wrong. Figure out what’s wrong and fix it. My editor and I have chatted about watching out what we name future books so as not to bring the bad karma to the writing.

To say I am THRILLED that July 2011 is behind me is putting it mildly. I plan to spend August working on that website migration at work and in my free time, catching up on my TBR, lolling about on the beach and my dad’s boat, hanging with my kids and having a bunch of family and friends visit. I am sooooo ready for a break from the pressure cooker. Later in August, I plan to get to work on my fourth McCarthy book and hopefully a Christmas novella for that series. In addition, I have four other books I am preparing for publication, starting later this year: Georgia on My Mind as well as my beloved Treading Water trilogy: Treading Water, Marking Time and Starting Over, so be on the lookout for all of them soon!

Summertime and the living is easy—or not. Which is it for you? Thanks for coming by and helping me to celebrate the end of the month from hell! I’ll give a copy of Fatal Consequences to one commenter today.

Keep an eye out for the Sept. 5 launch of the FREE Fatal wedding novella, Fatal Destiny, in which Sam and Nick tie the knot. Until then, I’ll be at the beach!

Enjoy the beach, Marie! Sounds like you could use a rest!

Marie Force is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Fatal Series from Harlequin’s Carina Press. The series includes FATAL AFFAIR, FATAL JUSTICE, FATAL CONSEQUENCES and FATAL DESTINY, which is out Sept. 5. FATAL FLAW is coming in February 2012.

Earlier this year, Marie published her popular, bestselling McCarthys of Gansett Island Series: MAID FOR LOVE, FOOL FOR LOVE and READY FOR LOVE, with more books coming soon in the series. Find out more about Marie and her books at her website: www.mariesullivanforce.com, on her blog at http://mariesullivanforce.blogspot.com, where she runs the weekly Romance & Oreos Book Club, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Force/248130827909, and on Twitter @marieforce.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

CSI Launch in the Lair!

by Jo Robertson

We're not exactly having a Launch Party today. Do I hear groans and sighs of disappointment. The Banditas and their BB's are always up for a raucous event.


Never fear! We have the usual finger foods and goodies on hand. Sven's been hard at work in the kitchen making canapes and those little barbecued sausages, as well as caviar and champagne.
Unfortunately he's not getting the usual "help" from Lars, who's promised everyone a foot massage today. It's probably just as well since Lars tends to drop things.



The party preparations are on temporary halt, however, because we have a serious problem in the Lair.
Someone (andI'm not mentioning any names) stole the proof copy of Jo-Mama's debut book "The Watcher."


In case you're confused look to the left for Evidence #1 -- the purloined book!



Missing, MISSING, I tell you! And someone must pay!



You might suspect the Golden Rooster carried the book off to the Land of Oz or even -- shudder -- to the "right coast." Or perhaps a Bandita Buddy from down south "appropriated" the proof prize. Not naming names, again, but I hear some of those southern gals have sticky fingers.



In fact, our famous Chook is NOT the culprit, but the investigator. So line up the usual suspects and let the case begin!



GR:
What? What? Oh, that's right, some naughty visitor to the Lair has stolen Jo-Mama's proof of "The Watcher." Let me see, let me see (dons his Sherlock Holmes hat and whips out his magnifying glass).



Sven:
Not I! I've been slaving in the kitchen for days (looks darkly at Lars). With NO help, I might add.



Lars:
Don't look at me (eyes Aunty Cindy's pretty colored toes greedily). I've been playing with pinkies all day.



[Enter Gladiators Demitrius and Marcus, flashing swords.]



Jo-Mama:
What about those two?



GR:
Not likely. They never learned to read, just a bunch of steroid-pumped hunks (looks jealously at the Gladiators).


JM:
Say it isn't so! Reading is the foundation of civilization!


GR:
Whatever. (Bends over, examining a dusty spot on the end table of the reading room.) Hmmmm, looks like the book was lying here.



JM:
Good grief! How can you tell MY book was there? There are millions of Bandita books around here. (Flings her arms wildly) It IS the Romance Bandits Lair, after all. Books are coming out all the time!



GR:
I see dead people.



JM:
What are you talking about, you crazy chook?



GR:
Dead people! Aren't your books full of dead people?



JM:
Well, sure, "The Watcher" is a romantic thriller, but it's not ALL about murder and mayhem. There's a very sensual love story in it. Kate and Slater have an instant connection between them, and although she's single minded to the point of annoyance, Slater's just the man to, uh . . . distract her.
Take a look at Evidence #2 -- the back cover blurb:



Forensic psychiatrist Kate Myers believes the killer of two teenage girls in Bigler County, California, is the same man who savagely murdered her twin sister over fifteen years ago. Working with a single-minded tenacity, she sets out to prove it.



Deputy Ben Slater hides his personal pain behind the job, but Kate's arrival in his county knocks his world on its axis. He wants to believe her wild theory, but the idea of a serial killer with the kind of pathology she proposes is too bizarre.



Together they work to find a killer whose roots began in a small town in Bigler county, but whose violence spread across the nation. A Janus-like killer, more monster than man, he fixates on Kate. The killer wants nothing more than to kill the "purple-eyed girl again."



[Enter Paolo, Lucius, and the Hockey Hunks, led by Zach, all bearing trays of champagne and bottle of Coke and Pepsi -- perennial rivals in the Lair]



GR:
(shouting at the top of his lungs) Let the festivities begin!



AC:
(Grabbing for the champagne) Give me one of those! (sniffs loudly) I hope that nasty Ermigarde isn't going to eat all the food.



GR:
(Stumbles about, muttering) Clues, clues, must follows the clues.



Readers, join us in the hunt for my proof copy of "The Watcher." Who do YOU think purloined the book? One of the Banditas or Buddies? One of the Lair denizens or guests? Or someone we'd never, ever think of! Heh, heh, who's the main suspect??!!



One clever commenter who convinces me who the guilty culprit is and WHY will receive a free download of "The Watcher" when it becomes available the end of August.



Everyone who emails me a snail mail addy (jo.lewisrobertson@yahoo.com) will receive an autographed postcard of the book cover and will be entered to win a PRINT COPY of "The Watcher."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Just Call Me Auntie

by Susan Sey

My summer has been frantic.

All summers are frantic, I know. They're billed as the height of relaxation--all hammocks & cool lemonades, campfires & fishing--and I seem to remember that experience from when I was a kid. But now that I'm a mom, I'm manufacturing summer rather than experiencing it & it's a hell of a lot busier.

This summer, for example, one of my kids got the theatre bug so next thing I know we're committed to rehearsals from 6-9 p.m. four nights a week.

And then there was Summer Academy for one kid. (It's an extension of the school's Gifted & Talented program, so how can a decent parent say no?) Summer Academy had us at the bus stop at 7:15 a.m. for all of June. So our day started at 6 & wrapped up at 10.

Then there was RWA's national conference backing up to the Fourth of July weekend, and then there were houseguests. Lots and lots of houseguests. Beloved relatives, yes, but...right there in the house.

Then my sister had a baby. And whenever one of my sisters has a baby, I load up the kids in the big green van & we drive twelve hours home to Michigan to greet the new cousin. (It happened twice last year, & once this year. I have a lot of sisters.)

As you might imagine, I was exhausted by the time I rolled into Detroit. Really, honestly, to-the-bone exhausted.

Then I met Lucy Abigail. (This isn't her, btw. Out of respect for my sister's privacy I found a random cute baby on the internets for your viewing pleasure.) But still, there she was. Lucy. All 6 lbs, 10 oz of fresh-out-of-the-oven miracle & I thought, "Why don't I drive home more often?"

Seriously. That is the severity of my weakness for babies. I hadn't slept more than five hours at a pop for a month, I'd left house guests behind & would come home to another set (once more beloved relatives but still) and here I was trying to slot more travel into the schedule.

I'll admit it. This is an addiction. I have an addiction to babies, & I will move heaven & earth to feed it. Especially if they are my sisters' babies. Holding those fragile, precious little bundles of brand new life, inhaling that new baby smell, knowing this is my blood even though I didn't have to do irreparable damage to my own ha-cha-cha to bring it into this world? It's a miracle, & it gets me every single time.

How about you? Do you have any unreasonable addictions you'll go to any lengths to feed? Obviously mine is nieces & nephews, but I'll also cop to Diet Coke & romance novels. Your turn!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Miranda's Winner!

Thanks so much for turning Miranda's visit yesterday into such a party! Wow, we sure rocked the lair!

The winner of Miranda's wonderful THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON is:

LAURIE G!

Congratulations, Laurie. The book sounds delish. Please email Miranda on miranda @ mirandaneville .com (no gaps) with your snail mail details and she'll get your book out to you pronto!

Going Back to Scotland with Sandy Blair!

interview with Suzanne
Dear Banditas and Bandit Buddies, usually the 28th of the month is my day to blog, however today, I am sharing my day and am so excited to be welcoming back my very good friend to the Lair, Sandy Blair, author of witty Highland historicals, to talk about her newest release, THE KING’S MISTRESS.

Suz: Sandy, pull up a seat here at the bar and we’ll have a drink, Merlot for you, a Bellini Martini for me! Can you give us a brief description of THE KING’S MISTRESS?

Sandy: Sure, and it’s so very nice to be here again. Thank you for the invitation!

THE KING'S MISTRESS, featuring captain of the king’s guard Britt MacKinnon and identical twin Geneen Armstrong, begins one week before the real events on which this story are based--when Britt is ordered to fetch back to Edinburgh the king’s favorite paramour. Intent on protecting her pregnant twin, on making the court think she and her sister are one in the same, Geneen doesn’t tell Britt he’s escorting the wrong woman to the king. Lies build upon lies at break neck speed as readers enter the perilous world of Scotland’s early medieval court, where intrigue, murder and deception rule. To a time and place where live and loves were won and lost while Scotland’s destiny hung in the balance.

Suz: How did you come up with the idea for this story?

Sandy: Truthfully, I read non-fiction histories before bed in hopes of triggering my muse into a “What if…?” moment, and happened upon several confusing accounts about Alexander III’s widow following his death, his heir’s sudden (and yet to be explained) death and the resultant political chaos that followed. Thus The King’s Mistress was born.

Suz: How are the sisters Geneen and Greer different?

Sandy: Greer, a graceful beauty and song bird, is all about Greer. Quick to laugh and entertain, she took full advantage of her role as a lady-in-waiting, loving the attention and life found at court, but is now paying a hefty price.

Frank in speech, Geneen’s gifts for husbandry and archery serve her well. She’s been able to keep a roof over their heads and her sister in gowns. Although equal in beauty, she’s never seen herself as such. Being the younger of the two and awkward, she has always idolizes her twin and was content to remain at their holding, tending to their cattle and crops until that dreadful day when her twin came home pregnant with the king’s bastard.

Suz:  How does Britt react when he realizes he doesn’t have the right sister?

Sandy: You sneaky devil. I can’t tell folks that! If I do they’ll have no reason to read the story.

Suz: This is your first foray into e-book publishing, how have you enjoyed the process?

Sandy: Overall, I found the process surprisingly enjoyable. I loved having input into my title and cover art. I’ll admit doing copyedits in e-format was initially intimidating but I eventually figured out the system. Best yet , my editor responds immediately to questions and maintains a Yahoo group just for her authors. Great fun!

Suz: That's a great cover you chose for your book. Is there anything new in your life that you’d like to share your readers?

Sandy: As a matter of fact, there is. We recently moved from hot-as-hell Texas to coastal New Hampshire, where lovely beaches, in-laws and out-laws are now only minutes away. We’re hoping their close proximity will eventually blunt the loneliness we’re experiencing missing our Dallas friends. (I can’t tell you how wonderful it was seeing so many DARA friends—and in particular Suzy--at RWA National.)

Suz: She didn't mention the foot of snowfall every day she had this past winter, did she? Me thinks the hot-as-hell-Texas wasn't looking so bad back in January and February! 

Sandy: Suzie, come a little closer so I can smack you!

We’ve been in the house 4 months now, still have pictures to hang and window treatments to buy, but did manage to put in our first-ever veggie garden. When squash and beans started flowering, I, jubilant, began waxing poetic about 3-bean casseroles, zucchini loaves and stuffed tomatoes. Scott wasn’t so impressed. A dye-in-the-wool carnivore, he immediately took up surf fishing since clamming season is over. Unfortunately for him, the fish have yet to cooperate. Healthy life-style here we come.

Below is the film trailer one of Sandy's good friends and a major fan, made for her:



So, since Sandy has moved, where do you think we should meet for some BFF time? I'd love someplace new, exciting, (Scottish) to go visit. Sandy will be giving away a signed copy of THE KING'S MISTRESS to one commenter.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Billionaire Booty!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the other day to say hello and talk about Moms, billionaires, and books. :-)




The random winner of the first two Duke Brothers books, THE MILLIONAIRE MEETS HIS MATCH and SWEET SURRENDER, BABY SURPRISE, is . . . [drum roll!!] . . .

DEB!!!!!

Congratulations, Deb!



Please send your snail mail address to me at katecarlisle99@yahoo.com and I'll ship your books out ASAP!

Cheers!

Super Celia Seaton!

by Anna Campbell

Miranda Neville is such a favorite in the lair, she hardly needs any introduction - but she'll punch me if I don't say something and while she punches like a girl, it's still not the best look for authors at their professional best (snork!).

Miranda is an international explorer and conservationist who has been known to give Bear Grylls tips. She can whip up a three-course cordon bleu meal from two cans of baked beans, a bottle of Coke and an onion. When she's not advising the CIA on their undercover missions or showing the Queen how to wave, she can be found rescuing puppies from fast-flowing streams and wrapping Christmas presents for local orphans.

If you want to discover more about the wonder that is Miranda, please visit her website: http://www.mirandaneville.com/


Miranda, as you know, I’ve been chomping at the bit to get my hands on THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON. THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT was one of my top handful of reads last year and I feel like it’s been a long while between drinks (impatience is my middle name). Can you tell us about this story?

May I mention how much I love you, Anna? (And thanks for inviting me to schmooze with the Banditas: it’s always a blast).

If you’ve been following the Burgundy Club series, you will have met Tarquin Compton, the snooty dandy. Among the victims of his biting tongue is Celia Seaton, whose suitor was scared off when Tarquin compared her to a cauliflower. After the unfortunate vegetable incident, Celia went through hard times, culminating in the loss of her job as a governess. Then she’s kidnapped, robbed and left in a cottage attic, stripped to her shift. Being an enterprising girl, like any good heroine, she manages to escape.

The door to the humble structure was blocked, by a body. The body of a man lying unconscious, wearing nothing but breeches and a pair of riding boots. It had been some years since Celia had seen the bare torso of a grown man, and never a white man. He was pale, as befit a man who was always dressed up to his neck, but the smattering of dark hair, covering the chest and descending in a vee over his flat stomach, didn’t disguise the fact that the skin covered well-formed muscles. This interesting masculine form distracted her only a few seconds from the astonishing fact that she knew him.


And although he was one of several men who had bedeviled her life, she did not actually wish him dead.

Kneeling on the ground she set her fingers to his temple and found a pulse. “Mr. Compton,” she said. “Mr. Compton, wake up. Are you well?”

Nothing. She rested her head on his chest. Judging by the strength of his heartbeat, Mr. Tarquin Compton would live to cause further distress to awkward arrivals on the London marriage mart. She supposed she’d better try to revive him. And much as she detested the creature, she was curious to discover why the ton’s most fashionable gentleman lay half-naked next to a deserted Yorkshire cottage.

So what is Tarquin doing half-naked in the middle of nowhere? He certainly doesn’t know, because he’s suffering from amnesia. So Celia decides to go for a little payback by claiming that he is her fiancé, glorying in the name of Terence Fish. Together they set off across the moors, pursued by desperate villains.

Terence Fish!!!! I laughed out loud when I read that. You specialize in delicious different heroes. Sebastian in THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT was, shock, horror, a male virgin. And now we have an even rarer bird in Romancelandia, a dandy in the acid-tongued Tarquin Compton. Did you have any difficulties turning a dandy into a hero? What lessons has Tarquin learned by the end of the book? Seriously, he’s so due for his comeuppance! What makes an unusual hero appeal to you?

Since a dandy is all about external appearances, I decided to strip Tarquin of his clothes and his memory so we could see the man underneath the façade. Turns out he’s brave, honorable, affectionate, sexy, and good at catching fish. And then he gets back his memory and reverts to his snooty ways. He has to reconcile his social exterior with the man he was as Terence Fish. And Celia, who hates Tarquin and adores Terence, has to fall in love with him all over again. By the end of the book he has examined what made him a dandy and is no longer wants to be the disdainful leader of the ton.

I’d really love to write an uber-alpha rakish nobleman with an angsty past – I love to read about them – but somehow my heroes don’t turn out that way. Perhaps it’s because when I write I’m always looking for the unusual twist and it takes my characters into unexpected places. I also like to write about very strong, very smart heroines, who don’t take any crap from their men.

What’s next for you? More wonderful Burgundy Club books?

Minerva Montrose, Diana’s little sister from THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT, was a reader favorite. Her book, CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE, will be out in April 2012. Minerva is very smart, very ambitious, and wants to marry an up-and-coming politician whom she can push up the greasy pole to be Prime Minister. Suffice to say, the best laid plans always go wrong.


Ooh, yum! Can't wait. Minerva was one of my favorite characters in THE DANGEROUS VISCOUNT. I always ask you about interesting tidbits of research that turned up when you’re working on your books. Did anything unusual take your fancy when you were researching THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON? Did I see a mention of an erotic manuscript on your website?

Celia’s “amorous education” comes from a bawdy novel (and from Tarquin, of course). I used a real 1796 book that I read in the British Library. Here’s a snippet from where Minerva (remember Minerva? She reappears in THE AMOROUS EDUCATION) has discovered Celia reading the book.

Minerva slid down from the bed, carried The Genuine Amours off in triumph to the far side of the room and settled on the stool next to her dressing table. Celia waited in dread as the girl opened the book to the bookmark and began to read aloud.

"A man who seeks pleasure in casual f… Oh my goodness. I can’t say that word!”

“Then don’t. Stop now.”

“Never! This is fascinating. He can never find it but in the senses, while he who has love on his side, is stretched on the rack of delight, by those able ministers of pleasure, passion and imagination.” She looked up. “That seems a proper sentiment. The author advocates the act of you-know-what only when love is present.”

“Believe me,” Celia said. “He does not practice what he preaches.”

Miranda, a little birdy tells me you’ve set up in competition to the Bandits by joining a group blog! The cheek, I say! Would you like to tell us about this new endeavor? Wanna rooster?

We couldn’t ever hope to emulate the Bandits. A group of Regency authors (Tessa Dare, Katharine Ashe, Gaelen Foley, Sarah MacLean, Sabrina Darby and moi) have started The Ballroom Blog. (www.TheBallroomBlog.com). We don’t need a rooster (and c’mon, you guys would miss him!) because we have a very rude parrot called Albert who belongs to our hostess, Lady Beaufetheringstone (pronounced Batman). We’re posting Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and hope everyone will stop by to join the dance.

I’ll be giving away a copy of THE AMOROUS EDUCATION OF CELIA SEATON to a commenter on the blog. You can say something about my post, ask me a question (I promise to answer anything that won’t totally compromise me) or give me a recipe for a really great summer salad dish. It’s hot times in northern New England and I need cool inspiration!

Sounds great, Miranda! Get commenting, people. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bandit Booty


Is anyone surprised by the fact that I'm behind on giving out my prize from my blog on the 17th? Sadly, I'm not.

Anyway...the winner is Deb! YAY!!! Applause! Deb wins a signed copy of One Night Scandal!

Please me your address at christie @ christiekelley . com

Two Rogues, One Title booty prize.


The winners of Saturday's blog about two surprising similar, but very, very different books that share the same title are:

Nancy Northcott who wins Redeeming the Rogue by Donna MacMeans
And Marybelle who wins Redeeming the Rogue by CJ Chase.

Marybelle is you could send your contact information to me at dmacmeans@gmail.com, I'll forward it on to CJ to send your copy out.

Thanks so much to everyone for visiting.

Techno-Freakia

by Nancy

Last winter, the dh decided one of us had to "join the 21st century." He didn't want to be the one, so he gave me an iPad for Christmas. This was an odd gift, by the way, from a man who views any new form of technology with suspicion and once phoned me at work to ask how he could make his document's pages have numbers.

I was initially not sure what I would use it for. I have a laptop. I have a cellphone. I need this because . . . ?

However, the iPad has grown on me. I can now read ebooks, something that was not previously possible because our Macs run the old Apple hardware (PowerPC chips instead of Intel) and so cannot be updated to run Amazon's Kindle app for Mac. I like carrying a bunch of books around with me in very little space. I've bought new books to read and old favorites for when I'm away from home and just want to read a book I know I like, sort of like talking to an old friend.

I had surgery (nothing for anyone to be concerned about) in the Spring and spent a good bit of time lying down in the next few weeks. Checking email on something I could hold up in front of my face, like a book, was extremely convenient. So was surfing the web. The iPad proved to be very convenient for these purposes as well as for reading. I suspect it will also be a nice alternative to hunting for radio stations when I'm on a long trip. I can just set the iPod function to "shuffle," turn the volume up, and have music I like, without the bother of headphones or hunting around every hundred or so miles.

It has not been an unmixed blessing, though. Contrary to what the people at the store told the dh, it was not "plug and play" because the system file on my Mac was not sufficiently updated. The iPad would not condescend to recognize OS X 10.4.9 The only computer the iPad would talk to was the boy's, and he was not crazy about having my music selections (let alone the books) on his hard drive. Now the boy's computer is dying. It needs replacement capacitors, whatever those are.

So I'm trying to get the laptop updated to the minimum level the iPad will tolerate, which is about as far as the laptop can be updated because the newer system versions require the Intel chip (I also cannot open .docx files with my older version of Word and cannot load the newer version because of the same hardware issues). I was just lucky the Apple online store still had that version of OS X in stock. However, it's possible this version of OS X may not like Word 2004 for Mac. Which happens to be the format for my mss. All of them.

Speaking of mss., typing is also a challenge due to the iPad's compressed keyboard, which is highly sensitive and requires switching among three different keyboards to reach all available keys. But I've adjusted well enough that I can now jot story notes and email them to myself.

Though I have yet to figure out how to make it acknowledge a document downloaded to it. I tried with a book ms., and it sort of went "poof" and vanished. Mail gave me the option to open it in ebooks during the couple of seconds it was purportedly downloading, but why would I want to do that? It's a document. It's not, you know, a book. Yet.

Apple used to be consistently backwards compatible, but that no longer seems to be the case. And I find myself feeling left behind.

And now, of course, there is the iPad2, which some banditas have and love. I have the plain old original model that you have to turn on and off manually instead of just opening or closing the cover, and I do not plan to upgrade it anytime soon. I'm just getting used to this one. Why would I want to start over again?

As some of you know, I worked in my college's radio station and even earned a 3rd Class Radio Operator license (which I think is no longer given). I knew the basics of setting up equipment to record and play back. I can set up DVDs, game systems, and such. Yet the more complex computers get, the more confusing I find them.

My cell phone is just a phone. No camera. No WYSIWYG keyboard because I'd rather talk than text most of the time. I'd like the phone to play the Stargate theme as a ringtone, but I have no idea how to make it do that. When I have time, I'm going to take it to the store and make the clever people there deal with this issue.

Also, it fits my hand comfortably. "Smart" phones, like the iPhone, generally are too wide for me. And my phone has a flip top, sort of like a Star Trek communicator, which automatically makes it preferable to all phones without this feature.

And it works just fine, despite being dropped on the tile floor of a Burger King somewhere in western Virginia, an impact that caused the back to come off. I put the back on again, and the phone worked. Okay, so the green light doesn't consistently stay lit when the phone is turned on, but the phone does everything I need it to.

I'm still ahead of the dh, who calls his cell phone "an accessory for my glove compartment" and resists all of the boy's efforts to teach him how to charge it, but I'm light years behind the boy, who texts, plays online games, surfs the web, and listens to music all at the same time (though not all on his phone, mostly on his computer).

A friend once gave us a very nice food processor for Christmas, thinking the dh, who loves to cook, would find it handy. He found it intimidating, with all its many functions and blades. Since it had to do with cooking, I wasn't especially vulnerable to its lure, either. We finally (discreetly) gave it away, to someone who couldn't wait to start, slicing, dicing, pureeing and whatever else it would do.

I used to sew. My machine would sew forward or backward. With a special attachment, it would make a buttonhole. That's all it did. That was enough.

Some people's machines will zig-zag, bind edges, hem, monogram, and perform assorted other functions. You couldn't pay me to touch one. I might end up with a zig-zagged, monogrammed buttonhole in a hem or some such.



I like technology, in general. I'm grateful for electric lights and running water and air conditioning and waffle irons and washing machines and vacuum cleaners and movie projectors and telephones and automobiles and airplanes (and electric mixers on those rare occasions when I bake) and many other forms of technology.

But technology that needs, but refuses, to talk to other technology makes me think we're coming to the age when machines can be the boss of us. Like in Terminator.

Where's Michael Biehn when you need him?

So how do you feel about technology? Love it? Hate it? Fall somewhere in between? What's the last gadget you tried to use and either loved or loathed? Do you know anyone who's as reluctant to use a cellphone as my dh? Have you ever had your computer refuse to talk to your printer?

I brought home a package of books from RWA, and it's going to one of today's commenters (prize post will go up Sunday, July 31)
.

Monday, July 25, 2011

How to Seduce a Billionaire

By Kate

Today I'm showing off the cover of my upcoming Harlequin Desire, HOW TO SEDUCE A BILLIONAIRE! This is Brandon Duke's story, the third book in my Duke Brothers trilogy, and I'm thrilled that RT Book Reviews gave it 4-1/2 stars, saying: "Laugh-out-loud funny in spots and a consistently entertaining read, the unexpected romance of Brandon Duke and Kelly Meredith will give readers a wholly warm and joyful feeling."

Now, even though HOW TO SEDUCE A BILLIONAIRE won’t be on the shelves for another few weeks, I’m talking about it today because my mother has been on my mind a lot.

Now, you might be asking yourself what my mother has to do with seducing billionaires. My mother is definitely asking herself that question! (Hi, Mom!) So I’ll tell you why.

Beyond the powerful heroes, the beautiful settings, and the hot romances, one of the constants in my Duke Brothers trilogy is their delightful matchmaking mother, Sally. I enjoyed writing about her so much. She’s smart and funny and charming, and she loves her three adopted sons unconditionally. Lately, she’s made it clear that she wants grandchildren and to make that happen, she needs her sons need to hurry up and fall in love and get married. Having overheard Sally talking to a friend about lining up eligible women for them, the three Duke men (who have no interest in marriage, naturally!) realize they now must be on their guard at all times.

I grew up with four brothers. They each had dozens of friends who hung out at our house, and my mother was the person they all went to whenever they had problems with girls, with school, with their own parents. It’s not that my mom was particularly cool or overly permissive—trust me, she wasn’t! But she was friendly and smart and always willing to listen. I based Sally Duke on my own mother, which makes Sally one of my favorite characters ever.

I hope you fall in love with Sally, along with Brandon Duke and Kelly Meredith, my hero and heroine in HOW TO SEDUCE A BILLIONAIRE. You can read an excerpt or buy the book right now (at a reduced price!) on the Harlequin website or find it on bookstore shelves two or three weeks from now.

When you were growing up, was there one mother in your circle of friends who was the “cool mom,” the one who always listened to everyone’s problems and gave common sense advice? Did your mom pressure you and your siblings to marry, or did she have a more hands-off approach? Do any of your friends have a matchmaking mama?

In anticipation of the third book in the Dukes trilogy, I’m giving away a copy of my first two Duke Brothers books, THE MILLIONAIRE MEETS HIS MATCH and SWEET SURRENDER, BABY SURPRISE, to one random commenter today!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Adrienne Giordano in the Lair


hosted by KJ Howe

Please welcome Adrienne Giordano to the lair today so she can establish our favorite legal authority - Man Law!! Adrienne is kind enough to offer a copy of Man Law to one lucky commenter, and a pair of bullet earrings (yes, seriously!) to another commenter, so please ask your questions.

Call me crazy, but I'm entertained by loud-mouthed alpha males. I blame it on my Italian Jersey girl upbringing.

Need I say more?

I love to settle in and listen to a loud-mouthed alpha tell a story. Give me some chocolate covered peanuts while he's telling that story and I 'm in heaven. The thing I love more than a loud-mouthed alpha is finding their weakness.

And exploiting it.

The hero in my debut romantic suspense, Man Law, is Vic Andrews. Vic is an alpha who has no faith in his ability to understand women. To his credit, he does try, but he likes his bachelor life and having no familial strings attached. It keeps his life simple and with his job as a private security contractor—err government assassin—he needs simple.

He's also a rule breaker. Yep, the only rules Vic follows are his own goofy man laws. Man law eighteen? Never touch another guy's grill. That's one of his minor laws. He does have some that are important.

Ones like:

Never mess with your best friend’s sister.

Never leave a man behind.

Never wonder if you should have thrown the asshole off the roof.

That last one just might be my favorite. J Vic has been playing outside the lines so long that he considers the man laws his lifeline, the thing to cling to when the craziness of the world befuddles him. I dare say they anchor him and give him structure when chaos ensues.

Unfortunately for him, they also make him vulnerable. With a little help from me, he winds up obliterating all of his man laws in this book. I'd like to say I feel bad about destroying his lifeline, but really, not so much.

He was a tough one to break, I'll give him that much. He pushed me. At times, he laughed at my attempts to break him. Then I got mean about it and he finally understood what it was I wanted for him.

He finally understood that his man laws alone wouldn't get him through life. Yep, I wanted my loner, loud-mouthed alpha to connect with someone on a deeper level than he'd ever known. Not an easy task. My guy had to hit bottom—hard—before he gave up the fight.

That's the fun of bringing down a loud-mouthed alpha. When they go down, they go down in a big way and no man law is going to save them.

Readers, do you have any loud-mouthed alphas in your life? Have you identified their weakness?

Bio:

Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women's fiction. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaton Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. Adrienne's debut romantic suspense, Man Law, is available from Carina Press. Her second book, A Just Deception, will be available from Carina Press on September 5, 2011. For more information please visit www.AdrienneGiordano.com. Adrienne can be found on Twitter and Facebook

Man Law available at:

Carina Press

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Publishing Coincidence...or...Serendipity


by Donna MacMeans



I imagine everyone by now knows that I have a new release coming out August 2nd. I've certainly posted the cover enough (and will do so again, because I love it! - haha).


But did you know that my REDEEMING THE ROGUE is not the only book of that title being released August 2nd? Yes, Harlequin is releasing a Love Inspired Historical by debut novelist CJ Chase with the exact same title on the exact same day! How cool is that? I've invited CJ to join us to talk about the similarities and differences in our two stories. That's CJ in blue.


First, I'd like to explain the big difference between our stories. Mine is single title which means a larger word count and is written to be "funny, sexy and exciting" (Per Romantic Times review). The sensuality between the hero and heroine is a huge part of the story, and the level is Hot!


My Redeeming the Rogue is dark and probably one of the grittiest books ever published in the

Love Inspired Historicals line. In addition to my hard-drinking hero, there's that little matter of what my heroine does on pages 173-174. (Nope. I'm not going to say what. You'll just have to read the book.) She causes a lot of people pain by her actions. The sensuality level is sweet, but the situations are not.



One of the first similarities I noted between us was not between the books as much as between the authors. CJ has a number of Golden Heart finalist entries to her credit. At the RWA convention in Orlando (2010), she won the Golden Heart for Inspirational Romance. I'm a two time past GH finalist and a one-time winner as well, though in a different category, so we have that in common. (FWIW, I finaled in Romantic Suspense and Long Historical.)


I won the 2010 GH for Inspirational. That was my 6th final. I finaled previously in Short Historical, Long Historical, Romantic Suspense and Historical (twice). The last couple historicals I wrote had a faith thread in them, so I switched to Inspirational. Historical inspirational, of course.


How did our stories manage to have the same titles? Originally, I called my book "Redemption of a Rogue" as its the third in the Chambers trilogy. The previous two books had Education, and Seduction in the titles so Redemption sort of fit right in. However as the time between this book and Seduction lengthened, my editor and I decided to make the title more active by changing the "Redemption" to "Redeeming."


This was the manuscript that won the GH with the title of Unforgiven. My editor suggested the Redeeming the Rogue title. I was uncertain at first, but then I realized that the very first scene is quite different from what one expects from an inspirational. The book starts with the hero drinking himself into oblivion. Inspirational readers should know right from the title and that opening scene that this is going to be an edgier inspirational than many others.


Can I just say here that I read CJ's opening on her website and it's beautiful. This lady can really write! I encourage everyone to hop other there and check out her excerpt!



Donna, your book's sensuality level might not be sweet, but you sure are! Thank you for the kind words.


Based on CJ's cover (and isn't it a beauty?), I'm guessing her book involves an overseas journey, as does mine. The methods of transportation are different. CJ's book is set in 1815 which meant masted frigates were de rigour. My book is set during 1881 so I had a few more options, steamship being one of them. Now to be honest, I originally had my characters traveling in a masted sailing vessel, but my editor early on nixed one scene and that changed everything - including the method of transportation. Currently, my couple travels on a tramp steamer more accustomed to hauling freight than passengers. Of the two, CJ's boat is far more romantic than my little steamer---however both promise close proximity and doesn't

THAT bode well for romance (grin).


Thanks! It is a great cover. I love the colors in the sunset. The ship on my cover is an American clipper ship, but I also have several scenes set on a British frigate, HMS Impatience. The Impatience brought the treaty of Ghent (the treaty that ended American's second war with Britain) to America. At least, in my book that's the name of the ship that transported the treaty. Originally, my Redeeming the Rogue opened with a scene on the Impatience, but that
scene ended up on the cutting room floor when I had to trim the manuscript by 7K words to fit Love Inspired Historicals' length requirements.



Both of our heroines travel great distances to reach their objective. CJ's Mattie Fraser leaves Washington D.C. on a mission that takes her to London, England. My story begins in London and travels to Washington D.C. Arianne Chambers is a sister of a duke, and well accustomed to luxury. Had she her druthers, she'd have chosen a different way to cross the Atlantic than a tramp steamer.


My heroine was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Choosing DC for her background was a no-brainer for me because I lived in the area for a couple of decades. Mattie was in Washington on August 24, 1814, the night the British army burned the city. She met a British officer who offered to help locate her brother, but then he never contacted her afterward. She traveled to London to see if she could find anyone with information about either the officer or her brother. In London, she meets Kit DeChambelle.


Mattie's had a difficult life. After her mother's death when Mattie was 8 (and her brother 6), her father, a Washington shopkeeper, consoled himself with alcohol. Her brother ran away from home. Mattie has always believed if she'd just been a better sister and daughter, she might have been able to save her family.


Both our heroes are in need of a little loving intervention. Both had violence in their pasts that haunt them in the present. I don't think CJ's hero required the sort of makeover my hero endures, he's pretty heroic looking to begin with.


My hero, Michael Rafferty, was born in Ireland but works for the British government. Fenian rebels had detonated a bomb years earlier that killed his parents and younger brother. Now he's on a mission to track down the one responsible. That trail leads him to America where he must play the role of a diplomat to lure the killer into the open. However, an Irish rogue needs a woman's touch to help him play the role convincingly. Who better than a sister of a duke?


Kit (Christopher James Michael -- yes, Michael) DeChambelle is the 3rd son of the Earl of Chambelston. he had a pretty normal childhood for a boy of his social class. Then when he was an 18-year-old Oxford student, the director of clandestine services discovered his facility with languages (he's fluent in 6 languages and can even mimic different French accents) and recruited him for the war effort against Napoleon. It sounded exciting at first, but looking back, he realizes that each compromise he made along the way cost a little piece of him. And now he's not sure what's left. All he wants to do is forget the past.


Romantic Times Bookreviews says this about CJ's REDEEMING THE ROGUE: "A suspenseful mystery highlights this budding wartime romance." Fresh Fiction (just got the review today) says "The story (my REDEEMING THE ROGUE) is witty and mysterious until the last page. Mystery! We have that in common as well. I know CJ's story deals with the Treaty of Ghent. My story concerns the assassination of President James Garfield. So I guess I can add that both of our mysteries have political implications.


Oh, yes. The Treaty of Ghent had an unusual provision that the British government was going to exploit. And Mattie's brother had discovered what it was.

Finally, and maybe most important, CJ has chickens and we have a rooster! Is that coincidence or what? Actually, she has a rooster as well, but I don't think he has the charm of our GR. (grin)

As for prizes:

I'm afraid my publisher didn't send me any arcs for my REDEEMING THE ROGUE, so I can only offer a copy of the published book which won't be available till August 2nd - or you can always request a copy of The Seduction of a Duke - which I can send now. I have my author's copies, and I've even gotten my first fan mail! Harlequin sends out books to their book clubs a few months before the official release date, so I'll offer a copy of the inspirational Redeeming the Rogue as well. It may even arrive before it's available in stores. Very cool! So let's choose two winners. The first can pick the book they want and the second gets the other.


Before I mention today's question for discussion though, I did want to mention that I'm running a new contest through August 15th that has a Kindle for a prize. Details are on my website (which is also new) at www.DonnaMacMeans.com.

And be sure to visit my website www.CJChase.com to read an excerpt.

So my question today is: Do you believe in serendipity? Have you experienced something fueled by a series of coincidences. While I'm not surprised that CJ and I have the same title - that happens - it is sort of unusual that we have both the same title AND the same release date. Anyone know of that happening before? I've seen releases that have had the same stockphoto cover. Anyone have examples? Let's chat about coincidence both personal and in publishing.