Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Golden Rooster Family Reunion

Ah! What’s this? A postmark from St. Poulet? A missive from my sainted maman, no doubt. The poor chicken. She worries so. I am the only of her chicks to pursue life on such a—how shall we say?—grand scale. Dancing along the knife edge of danger is not for everyone, oui? But it must come as a particular shock when held against the lives chosen by that clutch of spectacular dullards with whom I was hatched. So, alors, I shall read her little letter then compose a reply which shall put her pretty head at ease.

My dearest son,

Ah, you see? Dearest? I am her favorite still!

I hope this note finds you well.

If you consider lying in wait on the decks of a private yacht anchored near St. Tropez well, then yes, I am. Indeed.

I know that you are very busy in your international business.

Business which I shall endeavor to wrap up as soon as a certain wily adversary shows himself above deck. Any minute, I expect. Any minute….

Oh yes, yes. I know there are many roads to cross to be as successful as you are but it is a mother’s hope that you will spare some time for your maman and…many of your other relatives.

Ah, my quarry appears! I crouch and….I spring! And karate CHOP and jujitsu KICK and a slash-slash-slash of the…

Un moment. Relatives?

Yes my boy, it is that time once more. Time for our family reunion.

Sacred bleu!

Cousin Delta is hosting it at the old family homestead in St. Poulet, LA. Ah my, the flock has spread far from the coop but all are making an extraordinary effort to attend.

But of course. My ne’er-do-well relations would sooner surrender to the Colonel himself than forsake the chance to importune me for favors, money, liquor and women.

I know you will not disappoint, ma petite.

I shall not, maman! Though it shall try my patience exceedingly to rub feathers with my déclassé brood-mates for even that short time.

It will be June 30th well before the celebration of Independence when all poultry of worth seclude themselves away from the dangers of deep fryers.

You will attend and make this mother proud.

With all my love, my little hatchling,


And so I begin the long journey back to the broken shell of my youth. To St. Poulet.

Two weeks later…..

A lone vehicle maneuvers its way down SunnySide Up lane, past rows of rice fields to a dilapidated brick mansion.
Bypassing the house, the driver steers down a dirt road to the rear of the property.

Oh, these cursed country two-tracks with their paint-eating gravel! What it is doing to my new coupe!

Aghast, I look at the rusted wire fence beneath spreading oak trees. The din is already more than my nerves can stand.
“Yoohoo! Cousin!”

The squawk makes me cringe. With the fortitude for which I am renowned I step out of the vehicle and (dear Lord) am enveloped in the wings of Cousin Delta.

Normally I have not the slightest objection to being seized to a woman’s breast but merde, ma cousine, a little air? A minor application of pressure at the wing-joint and, ah, sweet oxygen!

“Bonjour, Delta. You have not changed a bit, my dear.” A most unfortunate circumstance, that.

Why mess with perfection?” she laughs, with a saucy twitch of her considerable tail feathers.

“Why, indeed?”

“You ain’t changed much, either, cuz.” She jabs a wing tip into my chest. “No more meat on your breastbone than when you left.”

“Yes, well, an excellent diet and a dedication to the martial arts—“

“And your coxcomb still does that weird thing. Har! Har!”

My wings fly up to my head and….sacred bleu! Ah, this accursed humidity! I have not suffered this particular indignity since my late and unlamented youth here on the family compound. I have done well to shake the dust of this place from my feed scratchers years ago. Perhaps my impressive physique and accomplishments will distract the flock from this most unfortunate nod to history? A rooster can hope, can he not?

But duty first. “Delta, my beauty. Where is Maman?”

“Oh! Your sister’s here. Yoohoo! Junebug! Over here!”

Ahhh, my sister. Elder by two eggs. The pecking order always took on a new meaning when she was around. “Bonjour, Junebug.”

"Oh, sweetie, I'm so glad you came! When Mama said you might, I almost busted a gut, I was so excited. I can't wait for you to tell me about your world travels.”

“Vraiment? Shall I begin with Paris or Prague?”

“I always dreamed of getting out of this stuffy old coop.”

“Budapest is lovely this time of year.”

But...well.. .you know, along came Spur.”

Spur? That bow-legged, self-styled, one-rooster Elvis tribute? She married him?

“Now I have Cogburn and Auspice and Augustus (you remember, the twins?) and Octavia, Sebastian and Putt Putt to chase around."

Good heavens.

*sigh* "I don't suppose I'll ever get off the farm now..." *sniff*

Zut alors! Not to be uncharitable but have you considered keeping your drumsticks together once in a while? I pat her wing sympathetically and scan the yard for the nearest exit. Or at least something shiny. Junebug’s attention span is not her most formidable trait.

Suddenly a long silver limo pulls up outside the hen house. The driver, complete in uniform hurries around to open the door, and who should step out, but cousin Delilah, the madame of the best little henhouse in Texas, dressed in her Coco Channel suit, dark glasses and big hat, she kisses her driver and joins us.

"Hey, y'all, it's been ages since I've been back to see y'all! Hey Junebug, how're all those little chicks? And Delta, lovely as evah!"

Delilah lifts one brow, shakes her tail feathers and saunters toward me...

"Well, well, well, I do declare, if it isn't the Golden One himself.”

I incline my coxcomb graciously. I have a small fondness for Delilah as her hen house is the site of some of the—how to put it delicately—more memorable incidents in an otherwise unremarkable youth. “In the flesh, madame.”

“So, what have you been up to these days, ya old fake frenchie you!"

Fake frenchie, indeed! It seems my original plan—doing my familial duty with as much haste as decent manners allow—is a sound one. But as the finest tail feathers in the entire parish fall under Delilah’s purview, I muster the strength to do the pretty. “Nothing of note,” I say. “But I feel certain you’ve been leading life a merry chase.” She brays out that rough, two-packs-a-day laugh of hers.

“Ain’t I just! I got this new girl—prime bit of thigh-meat, see? Lord, she’s a pistol…”

I lean in, intrigued for the first time all day, but then a dilapidated yellow bus rolls into the yard. It sputters to a stop, belching exhaust fumes from its rear. The antiquated bus driver down the steps and holds out a hand to an elderly hen.

"Git yer cotton-pickin' paw offen me, you smarmy fella," she snarls, leaping to the ground with surprising grace for one so ancient.

I freeze. I am terrified of Great Granny Henster, and rooster enough to admit it. GG is tiny, fierce and extraordinarily rude. She has been, in the lamentable past, particularly cruel about my coxcomb situation. I remain still and pray her eyesight has faded with time.

Immediately GG whirls around and opens the luggage facility beneath the bus.

"Where's my stuff," she demands. "I need my Depends, dammit! I need 'em right now!"

Oh. Mon Dieu.

A sporty Italian roadster roars up the drive to the lair, pulling in behind the school bus. A svelte hen steps out, unwrapping the Hermes scarf and tips down her elegant designer sunglasses.

"Where is that reprobate brother of mine?" Dominique D'Or drawls. "I've flown in from Paris for this, he better have done what he SAID he was going to do."

Pardone? I implied I would perform some…service? For my poseur of a soeur? Ridicule!

She scans the various family members scattered about.

"Interesting digs big brother's found, and such an interesting group of people to attach himself too. Oh, Lord, he invited GG. How does she get around in that bus?"

Dominique thinks I called this meeting? Heavens. She’s delusional. Either that or she’s been drinking breakfast again.

One of the hired cockerels hurries over and asks after her luggage.

"Well, aren't you johnny on the spot," she says, with a throaty laugh. "Of course you can carry my bags. You can polish my eggs too, rrrrrrrrowwww!"

Rrrrrrowwww? Perhaps lunch was of the liquid variety as well.
Leaving the roosterling staring after her, she struts up to the front of the coop and calls, "GOLDIE! Come say hello!"

Seeing no better choice, I trudge after her. S’il vous plait, I pray to whatever diety will have me. Please let it be brief. And if it cannot be brief, at least let it be amusing. I march forward to meet my fate, whatever—or whomever—it may entail….

Monday, June 29, 2009

Book Binge

by Susan Sey

I recently tried to read Little Women to my 6 year old. She's a precocious reader, & while completely capable of reading the book herself, I didn't want to hand over the hard-backed copy my mom gave me when I was a girl. As my daughter routinely loves the covers right off books, I didn't want her grubby little paws on my beloved copy just yet. I decided to read it to her myself.

As it turns out, Little Women--while a wonderful story--is really....dense. The story telling is old-fashioned & detailed. The author doesn't just mention that the girls write a weekly newspaper for their secret society, she gives you the newspaper in its entirety. By the time the story picks up again--three pages later--my six year old is like, "Wait, what's going on again? Who are these people now?"

So I decided to table it for a few more years. I started reading her All Of A Kind Family instead. But I couldn't put down Little Women. I finished it myself, then I went for Little Men. Then I ate up Jo's Boys. Then I devoured Eight Cousins & Rose in Bloom in quick succession, & just finished up with An Old-Fashioned Girl.

I binged on Louisa May Alcott.

And you know what? I feel GREAT. I'd forgotten how beautifully uplifting those stories are. I love the way the people in her books are poor but find happiness. They have flaws but work so hard to overcome them. Their goodness and talent aren't always rewarded with money or fame, but they're always rewarded. And that satisfies me on such a fundamental level. Happy endings always do. (I'll bet there are a LOT of romance writers/readers who cut their teeth on Louisa May Alcott.)

I find so much of children's literature--at least the more modern stuff--so heavily laced with sarcasm, irony, clueless adults & poor grammar/bad language. I love reading with my kids but I'm so tired of books that disparage childhood. Little Women reminded me that it's possible to find really great books for actual children, not the adults who buy their books. Books where patience, self-sacrifice & charity are worth more than fashion, money & popularity. Books that celebrate childhood's inocence instead of trying to hurry them out of it. Where girls are taught to love goodness rather than clothes or looks, both in themselves as well as in others.

Have you revisited any children's or YA books that really touched you lately? I have a voracious reader at home & I need a summer reading list, so don't be shy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

This Is Your Life...

by Suzanne

It's amazing the things we can learn from other people's lives. That's probably one of the reasons I love to read biographies. Not the flashy, tell all, ghost-writer books many celebs get paid outrageous amounts for doing little work. No, I prefer the old kind of biographies that look at the total life of a person, the good, the bad, the ugly...(oh wait, that was a movie). But you know what I mean, the kind of book that lets me see how this person lived and how they triumphed or failed in adversity, maybe how they fit into history.

As a young reader I was fascinated by the written word, as most of us readers are. But not only did reading take me to another world, it often let me be another person. So I'm going to share with you some of my favorite people and what I learned from reading their biographies...

Wyatt Earp. The story of Wyatt and his brothers started my love of westerns. To this day I can see the battle of the OK Coral, with Frank and Virgil getting shot, and Doc Holliday standing toe-to-toe with his only friend, Wyatt as the dastardly Ike Clanton turns tail and runs. Western justice!

Clara Barton. Clara was the first real life nurse I read about. (Florence Nightingale came later.) She was dear to my heart because she organized women to go into the battlefields of the Civil War to tend the wounded. Later, she also started the American Red Cross. Yep, she had a bit of an impact on my future career. Compassion.

Amelia Earhardt. Boy did she inspire me. Now, I've not taken up flying, but she captured the romantic hearts of the nation by flying all over the world, in a time when women rarely left the house to work. The mystery and tragedy of her last flight still puzzles the world to this day. Pioneering.

Helen Keller & Annie Sullivan. I first read Helen's story in about the sixth grade. Since I have a cousin, (Hazel), who is my age and also deaf, I'd learned a little sign language by this time. Knowing Helen had blindness to overcome, too, amazed me. Not long after that, I picked up Annie's story. She not only was an orphan, but had diminished eyesight, too. And yet, she was able to reach into Helen's silent, dark world and bring her out of it, into a world where she traveled and visited with some of the greatest minds of her time. Inspiring!

Harriett Tubman. I have a bit of a fascination with the American Civil War, and the periods just before and after. Harriett was one of those people who fascinated me. The idea that she managed to escape slavery into the North, then turned around not once, but many times to lead others out...what courage!

Robert E. Lee. Of all the generals in the war, Robert E. Lee demonstrated loyalty. While a graduate of West Point, when it came time to choose sides, he couldn't "lift a musket against my home state of Virginia."

Abraham Lincoln. A witty man who lead our nation probably though its most trying time. He believed the strength of the country lay in the union of the states. He had dissenters among his cabinet members, a wife who quite possibly suffered from bipolar tendencies, a frail son and it was rumored that he had premonitions of his own death, yet he weathered it all. Strength of character.

Eleanor Roosevelt. She wanted to live a simple life, not in the lime light like her cousins, including the dynamic, Franklin. Despite his numerous affairs, she nursed him through polio and his recuperation, stood by his side as he became the governor of New York, then the president. Her intelligence and career as a social worker before she married Franklin gave her the ability to see the state of the people around her, (the poor, women, homeless). Despite their marital situation, she became one of her husband's biggest advisers. After World War II ended, Eleanor served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly and was the first chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission. Perseverance.

Abigail and John Adams...okay this was reading their letters to each other, but wow! Talk about love and respect.

So I've been thinking. If I were to write an autobiography, what interesting things would I like the world to know about me?

1. A good mother. Mind you I didn't say the best. I know many of the mistakes I made, but I think my kids know they were loved. They've grown up to be productive members of society, and since they're busy giving me grand babies, they must've decided they had a good role model.

2. A good nurse. This could be interpreted in many different ways. I'd like to think I showed compassion when needed, strength when appropriate and taught many people over the years. I'd like to be remembered for catching babies when the doctor couldn't make it, especially the one in the front seat of the Grand Marquis!

3. A good writer. I'm still working on this one. To me one of the parameters for measuring this will be to have a published book on my shelves. But with practice comes skills...so I keep working on it!

4. A good friend. Well you guys will have to answer that one!

So, dear readers and Banditas....what would you like people to remember you for? What cool thing will be in your biography? Whose biography do you want to read? Which did you read that changed your life?

For one reader, I have a signed copy of Jo Davis' new firefighter book, UNDER FIRE.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bandita Booty!!

by Anna Sugden
Time to announce the prize winner from our visit with the fabulous Anna Louise Lucia. This is for a copy of Dangerous Lies and some Moroccan Rose goodies from The Body Shop.

So, without further ado

Congratulations ...


Please send Anna your snail mail information at Anna@annalouiselucia.com

Please welcome Karin Tabke to the Lair

by Tawny Weber

Karin Tabke's got a gift for rocking the alpha heroes. Whether it's a cop or a knight, she has a solid handle on writing strong, sexy men who take charge - and women who are strong enough to go toe-to-toe with them.

Her latest release, Master of Craving, is the third book of the Blood Sword Legacy - and talk about a legacy... is that one hot cover or what?

The Blood Sword Legacy
Eight knights bound by a brotherhood forged in hell claim their legacies the only way they can: by right of arms, by right of victory, by right of conquest.

Most of England has submitted to King William, but Wales refuses to yield. The King's trusted Blood Swords are unable to prevail, and while Stefan de Valrey is left unconscious on the battlefield, his sworn brothers are captured. Despite terribile injuries, Stefan vows to liberate them. Even rescuing a delicately beautiful -- and naked -- maiden from peril cannot deter him, for the silver-eyed Arianrhod is a Welsh princess, a hostage Stefan can exchange for his brothers...so long as Arian remains as pure as when he met her. But that is a constraint Stefan finds harder to honor with every passing day.

When the scowling knight slings her across his saddle, Arian knows she should fix all her thoughts on escape. But Arian has never before experienced the deep, soul-changing desire that Stefan arouses with merely a glance. Breaking their vows could set two kingdoms ablaze -- can they control the sweet, terrible burning between them?

*sigh* Now doesn't that sound like a fab story? A fairy tale for sure. I was a huge fan of fairy tales as a kid, and still am for that matter. As a child, I think one of my favorites was Snow White and Rose Red. The contrasts, the love story, the flowers (hey, I'm a gardening fiend, what can I say?) I know my love of fairy tales factored into why I write, and why I continue to read voraciously. Which makes it always that much sweeter to find an author who tells a story about a powerful knight, a strong princess and a great tale of love. Did I mention Karin writes great stories?

So I'm curious - what was your favorite fairy tale, then and now?

And speaking of... here's Karin!!!

I’m Late, I’m Late, For A Very Important Date!!

Ah, my constant companion, procrastination.

I want to dump the son of a bitch, but he’s so cute, and cozy and makes me feel so good—for the moment. Then he becomes a royal pain in the ass. Tonight I can blame my lateness in getting Tawny my blog on Lisa Rinna. I was up until 2:30 this a.m. reading her book RINNAVATION. I don’t usually go for this type of book, I mean, I don’t need no freakin’ help!

I lurve me. Seriously, I don’t have any hang ups (well, no serious ones…). I’ve got a good healthy outlook on life. Yeah, I need to lose a few pounds, okay more than a few, but I just wake up each morning and think, Bottecelli, you rock, I am Venus of the new millennia! I love my husband, he loves me, my kids are great, tho’ not perfect, and I’m doing what I am most passionate about: I write romance!! So why would I get anything from a self-help book?

Because I needed the reminder! I needed the spark, because quite frankly, I have been trying to dig myself out of a few ruts. Lisa’s book was like exfoliating my skin. It brought out my glow again. I love to glow! I loved this book! I think--I love her!

I feel RINNAVATED Hah! Seriously, I need to remind myself that I am not an island unto myself. Sometimes, when things get a wee bit stale I need to rejuvenate, and reading a good self-help book that doesn’t preach but brings out the glow is just right for me.

So, what brings out your glow? What do you do when you need to add some pizzzaz or some umph back into your daily grind?

And before I let you go, don’t think I won’t remind you about my hot cops and hunky knights. Those boys will get any girls’ juices flowing and give you one hell of an after-glow! So, you like free stuff? Check out A KNIGHT TO REMEMBER, a free short story. The hunky knight in this free short story is also a character in MASTER OF CRAVING, book three in my Blood Sword Legacy series, out now! Click here for an excerpt and scroll down. And you can always find me blathering away on my blog The Write Life or tweeting on Twitter under Karin Tabke or blathering more on Facebook. friend me.

Ciao, girls! My glowing self will be hanging out today to glow with you all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

His Forever Love

by Nancy

Today we welcome back Bellebooks and Steeple Hill author Missy Tippens. Her second release, His Forever Love, is out this month! She's here to celebrate and to tell us a little about the book. Welcome back, Missy!

Many authors wrestle with that second book. Was His Forever Love a struggle for you?

I didn’t so much wrestle with the book, but wrestle with myself to produce another book. It took me a while to make the second sale. I highly recommend writing and writing before selling (don’t keep working on the same old book). That way you have something ready to go. I had 16 months between books 1 and 2 and really hated to wait that long.

What gave you the idea for this book?

Well, this book started out very different! It’s had about three or four totally different versions. But the part that has remained the same through most versions is that it’s about unrequited love. The hero had a crush on the heroine when they were growing up. They were best friends and study partners. But right before graduation, when he had finally gotten the nerve to share that he loved her, she showed up with a ring on her finger. As soon as they graduated, he took off for Boston and never looked back. And of course, she was devastated that her best friend deserted her.

I wanted to bring these two back together and write about the nerdy guy finally getting the popular girl. :)

I love stories about friends. I've just started this one and am enjoying it. Tell us about the hero and heroine of His Forever Love.

Bill is a brilliant physicist who lives in Boston and pours himself into his work. He’s finally found the place he really fits in and is accepted—with his peers and coworkers.

Lindsay is a caregiver for Bill’s grandmother in a small town in Georgia, and together they run a community center for kids. She has poured herself into taking care of her nephews (whose mother deserted them) and pretty much taking care of everyone else in her family.

Tell us about the story.

Here’s the back cover blurb: In Magnolia, Georgia, local legend says that a couple who holds hands around the “forever” tree will have an unending love. Even so, Bill Wellington held Lindsay Jones’s hands around that tree years ago...and then left her behind. He chose the big city, and now he wants to bring his grandmother there. But to his amazement, he finds that Granny has a boyfriend—and a vibrant life. A life that includes Lindsay, Granny’s caregiver. Bill never thought he’d want to come home, yet Magnolia clearly has its charms. As does Lindsay, who makes him long for a second chance at forever love.

And I’d love to share an excerpt from where they first see each other. Granny has taken a fall, and he comes to the hospital to see her:

A man cleared his throat in the doorway, then rapped on the door. "Granny?"

She'd know that voice anywhere. Had she really thought she could prepare for this moment?

She was afraid to turn around. Afraid of the hurt that might still show on her face even after so many years.

Lindsay pasted a half-smile on her face, then swiveled around to see him.

Oh, my. She couldn't believe what she was seeing. She absolutely could not believe this was Bill Wellington. Tall, skinny, nerdy, bookworm Bill had been transformed during his years away.
Tall. Yes, he was still tall. But that's where the similarities ended. He had filled out. And had turned into an attractive man. How could that have happened?

He hurried to his granny's side, then hugged her. "How are you feeling?" He was so careful, so concerned, that it gave Lindsay's heartstrings a big, ol' yank.

"I'm fine, son."

He looked up from Granny Bea and smiled in Lindsay's direction. "Hi, Lindsay."

After several seconds of staring at this near stranger, she realized she hadn't acknowledged his greeting. "Oh, hi. Good to see you again. Wow. You're all grown-up." Way to go, Lindsay. Stating the obvious.

"Yes, fifteen years have a way of doing that. But you look exactly the same. I would have recognized you anywhere."

And she couldn't have picked him out of a police lineup if her life depended on it. His dark brown, shaggy hair was now short and layered and looked as if it had lightened in the sun. His gaunt, pale face was now tanned, angular, masculine. And his beanpole body was now muscle-bound.

"Broken wrist, huh?" He touched Granny Bea's cast. Then he craned his neck, trying to read the signatures. Once he completed reading the circle of permanent marker, he smiled at Lindsay.
Her traitorous heart galloped underneath her rib cage. Stop it! I will not let my heart race over this man. This supposed friend.

"Lindsay, I appreciate you bringing her to the hospital. I'm sure you're worn out. I'll stay with her tonight."

She bristled. He'd marched in and was going to try to take over Granny Bea's care.
He's her grandson. He has every right to.

Still, it made her mad that he lived his life way up there in Boston and barely ever spent time with his granny.

"I can stay," she said. "I imagine you're tired from traveling."

"I dozed a little on the flight. Go on home. I'll call you if she needs anything."

"He's right, dear. You've been here all day."

What could she do? "Okay. I'll come back tomorrow morning with some fresh clothes for her."

"Thanks." He started to hold out a hand, as if he were going to shake her hand, but then the gesture ended up as a little wave. A somewhat dorky wave, more like the Bill she remembered.
She was comforted by the fact that he was still Bill. Yet that little wave reminded her of the friend she'd lost.

Bill wasn't sure he'd be able to catch his breath until Lindsay was gone. He had to get a grip or she might think she needed to rush him down to the E.R.

Her eyes were still as violet-blue, her hair as deep red, thick and smooth as it had been when she was eighteen.

He was a complete sap. A thirty-three-year-old acting like a lovesick teenager.

He walked to the other side of Granny's bed, putting distance between him and Lindsay. She's only a woman like any other. Nothing special. Just happens to have been blessed with gorgeous eyes and hair. And just happens to be the girl I fell in love with ages ago.

"Well, Granny Bea, I'll see you bright and early." Lindsay kissed Granny's head. "Make Bill take good care of you."

"Thanks for everything, dear. Get some rest, and we'll see you tomorrow."

Lindsay smiled fondly at Granny, which didn't help his composure a bit. She stepped toward the door. "Good night." She made brief eye contact with Bill, but then turned and left.

What about the writing process do you most or least enjoy?

I love writing the first draft! I love the freshness and discovery. I do plan ahead and plot, but it’s still a joy to find out what’s going to happen. And I love it when themes come together or when ideas come during the writing that I know have to be God-given. I feel so blessed to be able to work at something that I enjoy so much!

Have you become heavily involved with marketing and promotion?

With Steeple Hill (as with all Harlequin lines), there’s a built-in readership from the book club. You can’t get better marketing than that! But I do have a website, hold contests, do a blog tour, and do signings if they’re convenient. I also enjoy doing workshops and speaking, and I think that helps to promote. The hardest part for me is promoting myself at other times—like to people I know or people here in town! But I’m trying to learn to hand out book marks and talk about my books more in one-on-one settings.

What's next for you?

I have another LI coming out in November, A Forever Christmas. It’s a story about Lindsay’s single brother with the two little boys. I LOVE the cover on this book! I keep going to CBD to stare at it! LOL Here’s a link:.
Be sure to click to enlarge it! :)

Thanks so much for having me, Banditas!! And thanks, Nancy, for the great interview. I’ll be giving away a copy of His Forever Love today from among those who comment. You can email me at missytippens [at] aol.com to enter. Just put Romance Bandits in the subject line.

Missy, I enjoyed having you!

What about everyone else--do you have an old friend who "might have been?" What do you like about stories where the hero and heroine have a past? What's your favorite one?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm in The Zone!

By Kate

In exactly 17 days, I’ll be flying off to Washington D.C. to attend the Romance Writers of America conference. I’m very excited and looking forward to seeing lots of Banditas and Buddies there! So why am I not smiling, you ask? Are you kidding? Because I'm in a PANIC!! I have too much to do! I'm freaking out!! I have officially entered the Pre-Conference PANIC ZONE!!

Don't pretend you're not in The Zone, too! Frantically shopping? Desperately trying to lose eighteen more pounds in two weeks? Come on, admit it. You've got a To-Do List a mile long, right? Hey, me too! Just for laughs, let's share a few items from our Pre-Conference To Do List. I'll start!

Shopping – I still need two new pairs of shoes. Now, here’s a little secret: I think I’m tall. Then conference time rolls around and I remember ... I’m not so tall. The reason it only hits me this time of year is because my two BFF’s are both taller than me and one of their favorite pastimes is ridiculing me for being the short person. Yes, it's good to hear them laugh, but come on! So anyway, I need to find a cute pair of heels—but they have to be comfortable. I can take the ridicule but I can’t take the pain. But I ask you, have you ever found a pair of comfortable—yet pretty—high heels? I fear it’s an impossible quest.

Schedule – I must find an open spot on my calendar to have a drink with an old friend, but I have no time to spare! How did my schedule get so filled up? I’m just not that important! But alas, I don’t have one free minute available – unless she wants to meet for coffee at 5:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

5:45 a.m.??? Ack! Nobody is THAT good a friend. I’ll miss you, Marla.

MapQuest – yes, I scope out everything in advance. It’s not that I don’t trust taxi drivers (even though I don't—hello, BONE COLLECTOR, anyone?), I just want to pretend I'm in control of the situation. For instance, I need to get from the conference hotel to the Barnes & Noble in Reston, Virginia, for a book signing at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday night, July 14. (Hey, blatant self-promotional moment! If you’re in the area, please come to my book signing and say hello! Details to come on my blog! End BSP moment.). I’ll also need to figure out the time it takes to get from the hotel to Capital Hill to a bunch of other places, too. It seems that over the years, I’ve become the map girl for my little group. And if I don’t know where I’m going, it provides another opportunity for ridicule. I prefer to be prepared. I’m also planning to walk from the hotel to the National Cathedral (it looks very cool!)—unless it’s swelteringly hot (which seems to be the norm for Washington DC in the summer), in which case ... Taxi!! And that reminds me ...

Weather – must check http://www.weather.com/ every twenty minutes from now until time of departure for latest reports. Need to rearrange wardrobe accordingly.

Hair – help!

Lose weight – Oh, shoot. I forgot to lose weight. Just like last year. And the year before. Snork!!

Packing – I’ve already started. And stopped. And restarted. And then I started over. Am I the only one who does this?

My first Silhouette Desire – Yay! I'm writing it right now! And I must finish it before conference! Am I close? No! Am I panicking??? YES!

Deep cleansing breaths. So ... are you going to the Conference? What’s on your Conference TO-DO List? Have you entered THE ZONE yet?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Everywhere Debra Webb Turns She Finds Success!

By KJ Howe

Please welcome talented author Debra Webb to the lair. We're very lucky today to get the inside scoop on Deb's career decisions and what shaped her incredible publishing career thus far. One of the most talented and prolific authors I've met, Deb has been on a fascinating road with many twists and turns, just like her RS heroines!


I can’t believe it has been so long since I was here with the fabulous Bandits! But, as the title of this blog reflects there are so very many decisions about time, career, every-darned-thing and most of them are hard! Not to mention seriously time consuming. When we first begin our journey as writers the decisions are a little easier—just write and keep on writing no matter how many rejections show up in the mail. For me, there really weren't any other decisions at the time. I just wanted to keep writing and one day be published by ANYONE. And, of course, I wanted an agent eventually. Again, the decision wasn’t a difficult one. The hardest thing I had to do was remain persistent through the rejections. Eventually I obtained both. My goal had been reached. I was a published author and had an agent. As far as I was concerned it didn't get any better. I spent the first few years of my publishing career writing all over the place. Kensington Precious Gems, Harlequin Intrigues, Harlequin Americans, Silhouette Bombshells, Harlequin Next and Signatures, and also NASCAR romances.

Then came the first really hard decision: where should I focus? Romantic Suspense/Thrillers appeared to be my strongest niche. So, I jumped in with both feet. I rarely allowed my focus to deviate from that genre. Time passed and all appeared well until I realized it was probably time to move to the next level—single title romantic suspense. Second BIG decision: what publishing house would be home for my single title romantic suspense novels? After much biting of nails and pulling of hair, I landed at St. Martin's Press. It was glorious! I got to write those big books with scarcely any boundaries. Then came a bevy of additional decisions I hadn’t anticipated: cover art; branding; and the most terrifying of all decisions—marketing. These new, very difficult decisions forced me to see that moving to a new agent was necessary to accomplish certain goals. That part was very difficult. I’m not very good at ending relationships in real life. By this time I fully understood what I needed to do was to give the readers what they really wanted from Debra Webb (stand-alone novels but connected sort of like my Colby Agency series at Harlequin Intrigue). This, my fellow writers and readers, was the mother of all decisions. Did I keep writing big stand-alone novels with absolutely no connection/direction or did I do what I knew I did best—a long running series of loosely connected novels like the Colby Agency? After all, this year installment number 36 of the Colby Agency series will hit the shelves. No other author series in the history of Harlequin books has lasted this many installments (at least that's what I'm told by the powers-that-be).

The latter was a truth I could not deny. So, for my next two St. Martin's Press releases (EVERYWHERE SHE TURNS and ANYWHERE SHE RUNS) I loosely connected the stories with characters. And now I'm once again shopping for a publisher who has the same vision as me. At this stage in my career, it simply has to be about what's best for the books and the forward/upward path of my future publications. It can no longer be just about being published…it has to be about a purpose. The purpose of my career. The path. When readers spend their hard-earned money on my books, I want them to not only thoroughly enjoy the story but to look forward to the next book. A book where old characters are revisited along with the new...where a family of sorts is established. I want the excitement to build…and the anticipation for my next release to show increasing momentum.

So, while I struggle with yet another hard decision, I hope you’ll enjoy my upcoming summer releases. First, coming on June 30th, is EVERYWHERE SHE TURNS. This story is very close to my heart because it is set in my hometown in the very village where my family and I live in a house more than a century old (which we are restoring and alternately love and hate). It is loosely based on events I have watched unfold all around me. For those of you who read the book, never fear the village is slowly but surely being restored to a place where families thrive and neighbors look out for each other. There has only been one shooting in the past month and no one was killed—only a minor injury. Then later in July, look for the first in my Colby Agency trilogy from Harlequin Intrigue (Small Town Secrets in July; The Bride's Secret in August; and then His Secret Life in September). Read and enjoy and please know how very, very much it means to me each time you spend that hard-earned cash on one of my stories.

Thanks, Deb, for visiting us again. You're not only one of my favourite authors, you're one of my favourite people...I love the way you approach the writing world with such integrity, like a real world heroine. Wishing you all the best with your new ventures! Be sure to check out all of Deb's books coming out...

Debra Webb wrote her first story at age nine and her first romance at thirteen. It wasn't until she spent three years working for the military behind the Iron Curtain and within the confining political Walls of Berlin, Germany, that she realized her true calling. A five-year stint with NASA on the Space Shuttle Program reinforced her love of the endless possibilities within her grasp as a storyteller. A collision course between suspense and romance was set. Debra has been writing romantic suspense and action packed romantic thrillers since.

More Booty!

I owe a copy of Every Time We Kiss to someone....

and the winner is....

Gillian Layne!!!

Gillian, please contact me at christie @ christiekelley.com

On the Road with the GR

by Donna MacMeans
Ah Spring - also known as conference season. The Golden Rooster and I took to the road to travel the opposite ends of Ohio in pursuit of writer and reader events. No plane this time, just an open window with the GR's red comb flapping in the wind.

Our first stop was the Cleveland Rocks conference., sponsored by the Northeast Ohio chapter of Romance Writers of America (NEORWA). Lori Wilde led an intimate discussion about developing high concept - undoubtably inspired by the rooster's high flirtacious antics. Everyone wanted to pose with the rooster!

Here's a few photos for the GR's scrapbook: posing with Harlequin and Warner author, Lori Wilde

...and Jamie Denton

We had a great time in Cleveland, but had to turn the SUV around to head down to Cincinnati for Lori Foster's & Dianne Castell's fabulous Reader Get-together. This was a much larger venue and the GR didn't hesitate to make the rounds.

The GR so engaged NYT's Bestseller Stella Cameron in conversation, she missed her photo shoot with the rest of the Tails of Love authors (below).

From left to right, back row - that's Marcia James, Sue-Ellen Welfonder, Patricia Sargeant, Kate Angell, Diane Castell. Front Row: Lori Foster, Me (in the hat), and Anne Christopher.

Even Michelle Buonfiglio from Romance: B(u)y the Book fell victim to the rooster's charms.

Of course, all reader's events feature lots and lots of raffle baskets. The get-together was no exception. The raffles baskets brought $6,616 to benefit One Way Farm Children's Home.

The Romance Bandits contributed a basket that was won by Jodi Minton. That cream colored curve is really another rooster. The GR was capitivated.

All was not fun and games though. In the course of the event the rooster was KIDNAPPED! Horrors! The ransom note demanded I go to the bar if I ever wanted to see the GR alive again. Fortunately, I was already in the bar, so the nefarious plot was unraveled before it began (grin). As I discovered a Bad Agency button pinned to his feathers, I suspect bandita buddy Dianna Love was behind the scheme. But the rooster's not talking. The two may be in cahoots.

Thanks to the intervention of Sarah Parr (debut author of Renegade), we found a way to keep the GR in line. Sarah provided fuzzy red handcuffs! (Okay - so we won't ask WHY Sarah happened to have fuzzy red handcuffs.) That's Marjorie Liu looking on.

Now that the GR was back, he could participate in the Saturday night luau. Truly a party bird.

Thanks to Treethyme, the GR was reunited with a much younger brother. Here the GR takes the youngster under his wing.

The two went outside to discuss expectations in the lair. I'm thinking we might be seeing the little guy again.

Darn that bird flirts with anything with wings. At least he recognizes the lure of a good book.

So tell me, are any reader or writer events in your plans this year? Want to tell me about a good road trip? Any suggestions where the GR should venture next? Someone will win a copy of TAILS OF LOVE for some fun summer reading. Let's chat.