Sunday, February 28, 2010

Men Of Sports!

by Suzanne

Before I go any further, I'd like to announce that the pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training!! Whoohooo! The boys of summer are almost back!

Can you tell I adore baseball? I'm married to a Cleveland Indians fanatic, so I watch 161 games a year. I kid you not! But luckily for me, the scenery isn't too hard on the eyes.

There's Grady Sizemore out in Centerfield. He's beautiful and beautiful to watch, especially when he's stretched out going for a fly ball. They guy simply loves to play the sport and goes all out. And when he scores a run or steals a base, the grin he gives lights up his whole being!

Then there's Travis Hafner, the DH, who hopefully will live up to his potential. I mean the man is a farm boy raised in South Dakota...built like an oak and when he's on can hit the ball a country mile. Every time Travis comes to the plate there is a potential for a game altering swing of the bat! I love his intensity and focus as he eyes the pitcher and waits for the ball. And watching his body move to take it downtown...poetry!

And to my great pleasure, (and any other woman who's stared at the backside of pitchers on the mound) Jake Westbrook, the best looking behind on a pitcher's mound, is returning to the rotation after nearly 2 years. Jake is one of my favorite reasons for watching baseball. That and I consider baseball a thinking man's, or woman's, game.

Another sport I adore is football. American football. Sigh. Being a Cleveland Browns fan long before meeting my hubby, I've suffered many a disappointing season. There have been highlights over the years. Bernie Kosar's throwing. Clay Matthews (#57) 16 years as a fabulous linebacker who knew how to hit and tackle. And now the explosive kickoff and punt returns of Joshua Cribbs (#16) and the power blocking of Joe Thomas, I think there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for my boys. But because I rarely get to root for my Browns in the post season, I also admit to admiring Petyon Manning and the Colts. Peyton is one of the most beautiful passers ever to play this game. And talk about confidence? Mmmm.

Of course, there's always my Buckeyes. Jim Tressel is on the road to greatness as a coach, IMHO. Being an Ohioan transplanted in Texas, well let's just say I've had more than one occasion to boast about my home team!

Now, these are tried and true sports for most Americans. There are those who love basketball. My coach is die-hard Kansas Jay Hawke fan and my husband is ga-ga over LeBron James and the Cavs this year. However, I am not really much of a fan, although I do sit through my fare share of games. (Usually with my nose in a book, or working on the king-sized afghan for my son's bed...a Christmas present it will take me until next winter to make.)

But the other day I was vegging before getting ready to head to work, when my channel surfing came across something unique to TV in America.


OMG!! It was like the heavens had opened up, a beam of light from above shone over me and I swear the choir of angels, (all female) hit a high C in perfect harmony!! (By the way, google rugby players and you won't believe the pictures you get...uh, not for publication on the Bandit blog!)

Have y'all seen this? I mean truly watched the game? It's like soccer, football and ultimate fighting all rolled into one glorious expression of male bonding and testosterone!!!

Super buff men in shorts...god they have great padding, literally beating each other up to get this huge football down the field. And when one of them is passing the ball in from the sidelines 2 guys lift a third way up in the air by his feet to catch it! Bloody noses, bloody lips, bloody eyes, dirt, twisted ankles and knees. (Yes, I'm slightly blood thirsty.) But I think I've found a wonderfully masculine game to watch.

Now, if I could just get the TV people to show more games!!

What does this have to do with books? Hmmm...well, I've read books with sports heroes in them. But I think it's the whole males competing against males that piques my interest and I'd love to see more books with heroes from sports. (And yes I've read all of SEP's books!)

So, what sport do you love to watch or at least don't mind watching the men who play them? (Yes Anna...I know you adore hockey!) Anyone love rugby like me? Which sport would you like to see featured in a series of books?

Go Indians!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bandita Booty!!!
Rebecca Lynn wins for her suggestion of "The Writer's Diet"
Rebecca please send your contact information at and we'll discuss your prize choices.

Cruising Into Spring

by Caren Crane

Regulars here in the Lair know I am a devotee of autumn. I love the crisp air, colorful leaves and "settling in" that happens as the Earth prepares for winter. I also enjoy winter and have made a complete and total fool of myself during the Winter Olympics. (Anyone care to discuss curling? I'm now an expert! I could hardly get this post done for the women's gold medal final. Canada broke my heart!) Okay, gold medalist Apolo Ohno was just here as your daily eye candy. *g*

This year, though, it has been colder and snowier than usual, even here in the (normally) sunny South. I find myself looking forward to the budding trees and warm breezes of spring. I am also getting an itch to travel, much like my friends up north tell me they get when winter drags on too long. My friend Elizabeth says that by March everyone in Chicago is beating a path to the travel agent, begging for tickets to "anywhere the sun is shining" and this year, I can relate.

My husband is at home these days and, despite his curmudgeonly tendencies, has begun to pick up some phone calls he would previously have ignored. I came home a couple of weeks ago to be told by my beloved that we had won a cruise. Huh? Yes, indeed, I had heard correctly. My man said we won a cruise. I have no idea how we (or actually, he) won this cruise, but I took his word for it since he assured me it was real. Then I went to fix dinner or something and promptly forgot about it. Until last week, when the information about our cruise came in the mail. It is real!

We have been on a cruise once before and it was a lovely vacation. We enjoyed many things about cruising during that first trip and also learned some things to avoid - like anything alcoholic, since it costs a fortune to drink onboard! We feel better about this second cruise, armed with knowledge about how to avoid tack-on fees. This cruise is technically free, except for the unavoidable port fees since the trip is to the Bahamas and, apparently, a fuel surcharge of some sort. Hm.

Normally, we would avoid the Bahamas due to the excess of badly-handled tourism there and the likelihood of being hassled and/or pick-pocketed by locals. But did I mention the cruise is free? I have fretted about this "free" trip, knowing it will actually cost us hundreds of dollars to: a) get to the port in Ft. Lauderdale, FL; b) park our car at the port (or take a cab, if we fly or go by train); c) pay the port fees and fuel surcharges; and, d) cover the "incidentals" that always come up. (This picture is me at home, facing the reality of the money we will have spent - so sad!) The money is a real worry for us this year, but vacation - that singular, glorious chance to get away from all our cold, wintry worries for a few days - beckons like a sun-soaked siren.

The prolonged cold weather has made our so-called "free" trip more tempting with every gray, passing day. I know the sun is shining in the Bahamas and, despite the inevitable hassles, surcharges, delays and mix-ups, a patch of warm, welcoming sand is waiting for me. I think it's time to work on trip details. Maybe something around my birthday in May?

Are you longing for spring (or autumn, if you're in the Southern hemisphere)? Have a vacation planned, in mind, or at least in your dreams? If you could get away today, where would you go?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Love in Boom

by Nancy

Anybody else here like a romance with some non-romantic boom in it? Where things blow up apart from the relationship? And somehow all that leads to HEA? Yeah, me, too.

I tried out various titles for this blog, including "boom in love," but Demetrius started snickering at that and other choices, and then Sven joined in. The two of them set aside their sibling-esque rivalry in favor of male bonding, which would've been nice had it not involved mockery of my blog titles. I'm never composing another blog where they can see it in progress. I'll do that from home.

Anyway, I wonder why I like romance with a heavy dose of action-adventure. Maybe it's because all the stuff blowing up and the bullets flying add to the stakes, the jeopardy, the chance that HEA won't happen. When I asked in the Lair for movies or books involving both romance and boom, Christine suggested Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Cassondra came up with True Lies, and Anna Sugden suggested the works of Suz Brockmann. These are all great choices with high stakes. What's at risk is not only true love but life itself.

Plus, I admit, I just like movies where stuff blows up. I prefer that gore not accompany the explosion, as it would in real life, but I do like a movie with some boom. Again, I think it's because of the stakes. In Stargate SG-1, which I so love, the fate of humanity is at stake. In the darker Battlestar Galactica, it's the same thing, but it's humanity versus technology, not just humanity versus evil humanoids, as in the Stargate series.

In Serenity, the stakes usually revolve around the ship's crew, but we care about them, engage on their side, and don't want to see them die.

The fondness for boom also leads to a certain darkness in tone. By the time the hero and heroine find their way to each other, they're scarred and battle-weary. At least times have changed enough that the heroine takes an active part in the battle. Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax and her March have to fight their way to each other time and again, sometimes through foes and sometimes through the scars and pain of other battles, and the struggle gives the relationship depth. These are science fiction novels, not romances, but the romantic thread runs strongly through them.

So what about you? Do you like boom with your romances? Romance with your explosions? Whether you do or don't, why do you think that is?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hot Men of History

by Kate Carlisle

In Scotland and around the world, January 25th was Burns Night. Copious amounts of whiskey are required, but it’s not called “Burns Night” because of the way the whiskey burns your throat. No, it’s named for the man to whom the glasses are raised: the poet Robert Burns. Rabbie Burns was born on that day in 1759 and, in a short 37-year life, he became a Scottish icon. The ploughman’s poet.

We did Burns Night up big in the Carlisle household. We followed almost all of the traditions. We recited our favorite Burns poems, ate cock-a-leekie soup, and toasted the lassies (which would be me, as I’m the only lassie in our house.) One tradition, we neglected. Call me squeamish, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat haggis. Sorry, Rabbie! I’m a bitter disappointment to my Scottish forebears.

I have always been intrigued by Robert Burns and the passion he inspires in the Scots. They are very protective of their Rabbie. He was a man of the people, an everyman who rose to esteem in the eyes of laborers and aristocrats because he could turn a phrase. He worked his father’s fields and then took the time to write an ode to a mouse whose nest he disturbed. Randy Rabbie wrote many a poem to the women he encountered. He even wrote a poem called ‘The Fornicator.’

You can see why I find him so fascinating.

I’m not alone. 250 years later, the Freemasons of the Robert Burns Society consider it their mission to uphold the poet’s good name.

Rich fodder for a fiction writer’s imagination. And I’m all about the fodder. My latest book, If Books Could Kill, is set in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is my favorite city in the world, in large part because of the colorful Scots. They do everything with great passion, so setting a murder mystery there felt like a natural fit. Plus, there’s the whole city-under-a-city mystique. I once visited a modern-day pub that was built right on top of an ancient pub, and the bartender gave us an underground tour. I still get chills when I think of that dark, spooky place.

At the center of my mystery is a rumor about Robert Burns, himself. An 18th Century sex scandal that 21st Century Scots are desperate to squelch, at any cost. This scandal is completely fictional, but is based on the character traits that I learned about Robert Burns during my extensive research. It was great fun to create a fictional history for a real-life character.

If I should go missing, please tell the police to question the members of the Robert Burns Society. I fully expect to be kidnapped as punishment for taking his name in vain.

In your opinion, who are the sexiest men of history? Why? Let's dish about those yummy historical figures! The photos here are Robert Craig Burns and George Craig Washington. Had to give you some eye candy!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


by KJ Howe

In the lair, nothing makes us more excited than a recounting of THE CALL, a new author's dream phone call. Please welcome debut author Skyler White as she shares her fantastic story!

I’ll be at the store …

I was pushing a cart out of the Costco in south Austin when I got The Call. I had my receipt in one hand, held out for the folks with the pink Sharpies, and had to wedge my cell phone between my shoulder and ear to have a hand free for cart-steering. Holly Root – my agent for all of three days at that point – mercifully, isn’t one to drag out good news. She had an offer – a good offer, a two-book offer. She suggested we take it.

Now, I don’t shop without a grocery list, and this is doubly true of Costco, so I had a notebook and pen I could have used for note taking. I could have asked intelligent questions and written down details so that when I got home I had some record of what she said after “two-book deal” and “Leis Pederson.” What I did instead was jump from cart-corral post to cart-corral post, and try to keep the giggles out of my voice.

Holly gave me details I would have to write her and ask for again the next day. My husband was on a plane, so I called my folks long-distance. I drove hands free for mile-long stretches because I was clapping. I don’t remember putting the food away. My family celebrated with me. When I actually signed the contract, we went out to dinner. But the next morning, the kids still need breakfasts and packed lunches. I still had to go to the store.

and Falling, Fly is a dark fable of desire between a fallen angel and a neuroscientist. Olivia is a vampire who feeds on the desire she inspires in mortals. Dominic is radical scientist engaged in secret experimentation on memory, testing new medications on himself. They aren’t the kind of folks who shop at Costco. And writing them, I get to inhabit their world. I spent afternoons at my desk in Ireland’s underground Hotel of the Damned, where the beautiful children of myth, the modern iterations of Persephone and Sirens, mingle with rock stars and snakes. Then I do the laundry.

Still, when Rosanne, my Berkley publicist, called me with the news that the first interest she’d had in setting up book signings for me came from my local grocery store, I was flummoxed. HEB is a classic Texas grocery chain. Their people are friendly, their prices are great, and their foodie-oriented Central Market stores give Whole Foods a run for its yuppie money. But book signings? I had to call Holly. Turns out HEB is a New York Times-reporting chain with a series of ‘Super HEBs’ that hold expansive book sections. So I’ll be doing my first ever book-signing at the grocery store.

I’m also throwing myself a book-launch at our local indie bookstore. My birthday is three days before Christmas, so I’m making up for all the previously rushed birthdays by throwing myself a “Fallen Angels and Flights of Absinthe” themed launch party. There will be a reading and absinthe tasting and I’m looking forward to living, at least for a few hours, in a shadow of the world I created.

The book I wrote as the second of my two-book deal is a dark time-travel horror/romance about the Irish poet WB Yeats. In Dreams Begin is set back and forth between contemporary Portland, Oregon and 1889-1914 Ireland, England and France, as Ida Jameson, heiress to the Dublin whiskey manufacturer and amateur occultist channels the spirit of Laura Armstrong from modern Portland into the body of Maud Gonne, the legendary beauty and Irish revolutionary. Yeats, through his interest in the occult, meets and falls in love with Laura, although neither of them understands the connection they have through time, or the danger they’re in from Ida.

It’s been a tremendously fun project that has allowed me to explore the Irish connection to my story-world in great detail. It also required intense amounts of research, since Maud, Ida and Yeats (and Laura, to an extent) were (or are) all real people with real histories; and the rule I set for myself was that, since the made-up elements are so fantastical, I was allowed to take no liberties with history. In one Yeats biography, I read that he and his wife (not Maud, btw) celebrated the news that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature by cooking sausages, because they were out of champagne. I would have gone to the store.

I have worked hard to rid myself of the capitalist notion that one thing can fix everything. This pill, that diet, the new job, the next house, the perfect moment … but there was a quiet, persistent “never going to happen, not to you,” voice that finally stopped whispering that day at Costco. It did, actually, change my life in a few significant ways. With a deadline for book two, I felt more justified carving out writing time. I bought a new, light-weight netbook with a long-lived battery. The “what if I never sell anything” stomach-roiler was replaced by “what if nobody buys it?” And almost two years later, every time I leave Costco, my tummy tightens up a little, and I grin.

Now, with the official release date of and Falling, Fly, March 2, only days away, I know it’s not too early to start popping into my local Borders or Barnes and Noble hoping for my first time I sight my book in the wild, but we’re out of dish soap and dried mangos. I’ll be at HEB.

Skyler White is author of dark fantasy novels and Falling, Fly (Berkley, March 2010) and In Dreams Begin (Berkley, March 2010).
Thanks so much for joining us, Skyler. I can't wait to read your first novel!!! KJ

The Writer's (fat) Life

by Donna MacMeans

Let's face it. The writer's life is a pretty sedentary one. While my heroine might be dancing away at a ball, or my hero chasing a bad guy down a dark alley, I am seated at a chair, typing away. My fingers get quite a workout, but the rest of me - not so much.

So what's a fat writer to do?

I'm not an expert, but I have managed to shed about 10 pounds in the last month or so. I thought I'd share what I've been doing and I'm hoping you'll share what works for you. Because quite frankly, I can use all the help I can get!

The Food

It's always the culprit. I confess, I like to eat. At one time my daughter decided she wanted to be a pastry chef. I was more than happy to devour her practice desserts, and it shows. Jess never finished her culinary arts program, but she did learn enough to be a highly effective cook. Now, she uses her skills to make healthy dishes for her overweight parents. We're eating lots of fish, beans, chicken - even tofu occasionally. We rid the house of sweet "bad for you" foods, and eat fruit and nuts for snacks.

But even with a healthy diet, you still need...

The Exercise

During the winter, spring and fall, I take an aerobic class three times a week. That class incorporates about 40 minutes of cardio-movement, 8 minutes of crunches, and 12 minutes of weights. It's comfortable. It's doable. But this year we added a new class to the workout - ZUMBA! It's 60 minutes of fast salsa dancing with hip hop and popping moves tossed in. While I'm doing better now, for a while I was gasping for breath after 10 minutes of class. This is a killer - but it's a lot of fun.

The other thing that assists me in the battle of the bulge is my fitbit. Never heard of a fitbit? It's a tiny little lightweight gadget that you clip onto your clothes (I hook mine onto my bra) and it keeps track of steps taken, miles walked, calories burns and sleep cycles. Here's a photo of one in my hand.

Actually, it was the sleep cycle information that inspired my purchase for my husband for Christmas. Then I thought - heck, I'll order one for me too. The fitbit keeps track of all this information and uploads to your personal fitbit site whenever you walk close to the computer. Cool!

You can view the information in the form of graphs and trends on the website, plus you can input what you've eaten for the day. You can only lose weight if you work off more than you consume, and the graphs will tell you if you're accomplishing that. But I haven't been very good about entering all that I eat. I just trust my daughter is only preparing the allowed number of calories for dinner, then it's up to me to make sure I work it off. A click on the fitbit tells me how I'm doing. I can see my calories burned and decide if I need to put in time on the treadmill or if I can cuddle up with a good book.
It also shows a flower that grows according to activity - a little bit of positive reinforcement. Most of the time my fitbit only shows a flower with a couple of leaves, the bane of a sedentary writer - but after Zumba class, that flower is ready to poke right out of the device! Here's a before and after shot. The before to the left is after I'd dashed up and down the steps for something. Looks like there are three leaves on that baby! The flower on the right is after zumba. (eleven leaves!) (The fitbit is on a lightweight band that I can wear on my wrist - which is great for those times when you don't have clothes to clip it onto (grin))

So tell me what you do to fight the battle of the bulge? Checking the prize bin, let's about a book (I'll let you chose one of mine or one from my stack), a fancy bookmark, and a fridge magnet featuring a chocolate dipped strawberry (yum!) to someone posting a comment

Monday, February 22, 2010

Omelettes, redheads and well-hung neatniks ... oh my!

by Anna Sugden

I'm a romance reader. I love them. I will defend them, as well as my right to read one in public without embarrassment, to the death. If there's one hot button I have (okay I have several, but that's not the point!) it's people who diss romance novels with all that stuff about romances being formulaic, cliched, trashy, pornographic, blah, bah, blah. You notice they never talk about things like sales and popularity and being great reads!

As author Sarah Duncan ( wrote in a fab article recently - I'm paraphrasing - just because they're easy to read, doesn't mean they're easy to write or that the writing is less valuable. Just because they're comfort food, doesn't mean they're less acceptable or delicious than a five star meal. Well said, Sarah!

And, I know that if you're a regular in the Lair (even a lurking regular) you probably feel the same.

That said, I'm not blind to certain cliches and I'm all for having a little fun with them (we romance readers/writers have a sense of humour and are able to take the mickey out of ourselves, unlike some ...)

So, today, I thought we could have a giggle and roll our eyes at certain things that seem to crop up in romances.

Let’s take, for example, the omelette.

Have you ever noticed that no matter how little food there is in the house, there is always enough in the refrigerator for an omelette? What’s more, not only does one of the characters know how to make an omelette, but he or she can turn out a perfect, fluffy specimen!

And, how many times do we see a hero and heroine sharing an omelette made with only one egg. Puh-lease! That’s barely enough for one person with the appetite of a mouse, let alone two!

In recent months, I’ve noticed a tendency to have couples share, not an omelette, but a can of soup and one grilled cheese sandwich. Do these people not eat normal size portions?!

Another thing that makes me roll my eyes is the number of red-headed heroines. Clearly, blondes don’t have all the fun any more! Given that (natural) redheads only make up something like 4% of the worldwide population, how come so many of them get to have happy ever afters with our favourite hunky heroes?

For those of you out there still looking for love - maybe it’s time to get out the hair dye!

Now, let’s talk about heroines who cry mistily. Where’s the red nose, the blotchy skin and puffy eyes? And what about the women who can throw up without looking like they’re at death’s door?

We can’t let the heroes get away with it either. The number of heroes who have perfectly neat and clean apartments or houses is staggering. No dishes in the sink, no dirty clothes strewn across the floor, no newspapers left in a heap next to the pizza box and an empty six-pack. Some of them get away with it because they have housekeepers or cleaning services, but how many single men do you know with housekeepers or cleaning services? For those of you old enough to remember The Odd Couple (either the film or the TV series) - there can't be more Felixes than Oscars, can there?

And then, the size thing or, more accurately, the size of 'the thing'. Well-hung (as opposed to normal) men seem to be as common as those natural red-heads. I know, men like to think that's the case (bless them), but really ... *g*

Now, it’s your turn. What makes you giggle or roll your eyes when you see it over and over in a romance? If there was next to no food in your house, would you have enough for an omelette and would you be able to make a perfect, fluffy one?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

An Interview with Janet Mullany

by Christie Kelley

I have to start by saying I've known Janet for about 8 years now. She is one of my critique partners and one of my favorite authors. Because of deadlines, I didn't have the chance to read her February release, IMPROPER RELATIONS, until a week ago. But once I started the book, I couldn't put it down. I ended up reading it in one day. That pretty much never happens for me any more.

Please welcome Janet to the lair!

What can you tell us about your latest book, Improper Relations?

It’s my latest Regency chicklit, the subgenre I may or may not have invented (I think to truly be a subgenre there has to be more than one of us writing it!). I started off with the title and the first line, My story begins with a wedding because I thought that was such a great opening, and I knew I wanted to write about women’s relationships and family ties. It’s not nearly as dreary or as lit-fic
-y as it sounds. There are many inappropriate jokes.

I would consider Improper Relations a bunch of misunderstandings but it truly works in this book. Did you set out to write the misunderstanding, or did it just happen?

Absolutely I meant to, because the misunderstandings result from deep within the characters and create the conflict in the book. Charlotte, the heroine, has tremendous loyalty to her best friend An
n, even when Ann behaves badly; and Shad, the hero, is ruled by duty to his family and honor (he’s a retired naval officer). They’re both shaken by falling in love despite themselves, and unexpectedly great sex—not what your typical Georgian expected to find in a marriage, particularly a marriage of convenience. Yes, there’s sex in this one, sort of. I’ve always thought it funny that people regard my Regency chicklits as being squeaky clean. They have a very strong sexual subtext.

Will be seeing any more of these characters in other books?

I like the idea of visiting couples after the happily ever after, so yes, and I’m playing around with some ideas.

We lov
e call stories in the lair, so could you tell us yours?

My significant writerly phone calls always seem to involve disasters like low batteries, broken phones, and other mishaps. When my agent called me to tell me that Little Black Dress had made me a three-book offer (a call but not The call which happened in 2003) I was at home with a really horrible sinus infection that made me talk like a baritone and my nose looked like a banana (swollen, not yellow), and it was my birthday. The phone was turned off. On my next birthday I was m
ugged on the way home and got a horrendous black eye (nothing was stolen because I screamed obscenities so loudly they ran away). It keeps things in perspective.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

In no particular order and off the top of my head, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Nick Hornby, Hilar
y Mantel, Pam Rosenthal, Anna Maxted, Jasper Fforde, Julie Cohen, Kate Ross, Terry Pratchett.

You have written in both 1st person and 3rd person, which do you prefer? And why?

It depends upon what I’m writing. First person works really well with the funny stuff, I find, because there’s an enormous amount of author dabbling going on behind the scenes and that works well when a certain amount of choreography is required. It’s much easier to orchestrate a half dozen people behaving badly in first person. With third person I tend to be a bit more serious, although I’ve never really that books have to be either funny or serious, and the ones I enjoy usually have both elements.

Do you find writing comedy difficult?

Not at all. I know I should suffer massive amounts of angst and sweat blood and all the rest of it but I don’t. And I can’t tell you how it happens because I really don’t know, although certainly elements of surprise, subversion, and timing are important. I think either you have a facility for comedy or you don’t, and I don’t know whether it can be learned. There is a certain amount of seriousness behind Improper Relations but it would be incredibly pretentious of me to claim it’s anything other than entertainment. There is one scene that made me cry when I wrote it, and I love to balance that turn from comedy to tragedy and back in only a few words; that, for me, is the hard, crafty part of it. Love is a serious business. It deserves the strategically-placed banana peel or whoopee cushion.

What’s next for Janet Mullany?

This year is a huge writing/publishing year for me. I have an e-novella coming out next month from Loose-Id, Reader, I Married Him, which is a dirty riff on Jane Eyre. In October, I have Jane & the Damned, a sort of speculative historical paranormal about Austen, vampires, and a French invasion (HarperCollins) and a novella in an anthology called Bespelling Jane, headlined by Mary Balogh (Harlequin). Mine, Little To Hex Her, is a contemporary based on Emma, about a dating agency for the paranormal population of Washington, DC. So essentially I’ll piss off all the Jane Eyre and Austen fangirls.

Here is the backcover blurb to get you all excited about the book!

ust a lady always put her husband first?

After losing best friend and cousin Ann Welling in marriage to the Earl of Beresford,
sharp-witted Charlotte Hayden is even ruder than usual to potential suitors. Introduced to Beresford’s wayward cousin, Shad, Charlotte may have met her match in witty repartee–but he’s hardly husband material. Caught in a compromising situation, Charlotte and Shad are forced to wed, resigning themselves to a marriage of convenience. And they aren’t the only ones with marital problems… Have both Ann and Charlotte married in haste to repent at leisure? And where do their loyalties really lie? With their husbands, with each other, or somewhere else entirely?

IMPROPER RELATIONS is published by Little Black Dress but is available through The Book Depository

More fun things can be found at Janet's website (there’s a contest and soundbites of Janet reading bits of the books):

Janet's question for the Bandits: What do you find funny? Tell us a joke or share something, a book or experience, that has made you laugh out loud.

Janet is giving away a copy of Improper Relations to one commenter!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Race For Gold

by Beth

Though I live in a Northwestern Pennsylvania, I don't like cold weather. Or snow. Or most activities taking place outside (in the cold *g*) or having to do with snow.

The one time I went downhill skiing many, MANY years ago, I had such a horrible time, I swore I'd never go again (a promise I've gladly kept). I enjoy sled-riding but only to a point - that point usually being the same time all that cold snow blows into my face, down my coat collar and soaks through my mittens. Then I'm more than happy to head back inside and wait another year before getting back on a sled.

Another thing I've never cared for is watching the Olympics. I know, it sounds sort of...well...un-American to say it out loud like that, but it's true. I've always found the Olympics boring.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I realized last night that I've quickly become addicted to watching the Winter Olympics. Heck, Sunday night I was even yelling at the T.V. while an American battled it out for first place in the cross country ski race. (He ended up with the silver medal. Do you think he could hear me cheering him on?)

I haven't caught all the events but I've watched speed skating, the luge, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and snowboarding. I'm not sure what has me hooked this year. The speed? The danger? (I've seen quite a few crashes on the slopes). Or maybe it's the realization that these athletes have trained their entire lives for the chance to win a medal. How heartbreaking it must be when they get so close only to lose their chance on a last second spill. Maybe that's why I always feel so glad for all the winners and bad when an athlete performs badly, no matter what country they're from.

Anyone else watching the winter games? What's your favorite event? Who are your favorite Olympic athletes? Which event do you wish you could participate in? Want to ride down the luge track? Or maybe catch some air on the halfpipe?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Chasing Shadows

posted by Nancy

Today we welcome award-winning romance and urban fantasy author Seressia Glass. Seressia is a voracious reader whose early written works range from an autobiography written on a piece of gum to the first winning essay in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Living the Dream contest. Her books have multiple nominations and several wins in both the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and the Romance in Color Reviewers' Choice Awards. Her newest release, the dynamite urban fantasy Shadow Chase, earned a 5-star review from Affair de Coeur.

Welcome, Seressia! Who are the hero and heroine of Shadow Blade, and what’s their biggest problem?

The heroine is Kira Solomon. She catalogues ancient artifacts by day, but at night she’s a Shadow Chaser—a paranormal bounty hunter sent after the baddest of the bad, the Fallen, who use humans as their Avatars. The hero is Khefar, a 4,000 year-old Nubian warrior who has been tasked to save a life for every life that he took to avenge his family’s death. Kira can’t touch another human being without killing them and Khefar lives for the day he can die for good and be reunited with his family.

You draw on Egyptian culture for this book. Please tell us about that.

Well, I love ancient Egypt. Any documentary I can watch, exhibit I can see, or book I can get my hands on, I do. I’ve wanted an opportunity to write about my obsession for a while. So having my main characters worship Egyptian goddesses (Kira follows Ma’at, Khefar follows Isis) worked well, and fit into the mythos of the world I created. There will be a lot of Egyptian culture to come, and some African mythos will appear in there too. In fact, the spider god Anansi is an indelible part of the books.

What was the most fun part of writing this book, and what was hardest?

The most fun, of course, was getting to write fantasy with just a touch of romance. The hardest part was writing fantasy with just a touch of romance. To be true to the characters, I couldn’t rush them into a relationship or even into intimacy—a woman who has spent her entire life avoiding contact with people isn’t going to easily fall into bed, even if she has found the one person she can touch with impunity. Trying to switch from a romance author used to writing 3-4 love scenes to an urban fantasy author who needs more action of a different sort was a hard switch to make. I think I did the story justice though.

Can we peek inside?

Kira kept her word, not that it mattered much. Lonnie and some of his friends caught her about half a block from the DMZ, their bikes circling hers. Her Buell could outrun their glorified mopeds easily, even though it was built like a tank and weighed nearly as much. But driving all over the city would do nothing but waste time and gas and make her cranky. They were asking for it and she would be happy to give it to them—but she really didn’t have much time to play.

Going to see Demoz had been a gamble that didn’t pay off as she’d hoped it would. Not only had she wound up with minimal information—that an Avatar was in town looking for something, information that might or might not be connected to Bernie and the dagger—the wager had cost her a couple of spells. Worse, it had cost her time. Every moment she didn’t spend chasing Bernie’s killer was another advantage for whoever had killed him. With nothing else to go on, she’d have to return to the alley and hope Gilead was done with the clean up but had still left enough she could pick up a trail. The sooner she got back to the scene of the crime, the more likely the chances she’d find some sort of lead.

The halflings tried to pen her in as she headed towards Peachtree Street. As if. She’d learned a thing or two from some of the best stunt riders in the country and these idiots were totally amateur. Dropping her visor, Kira bent low over her handlebars, calling her power. Blue light flared from her bare hands, spilling onto the handgrips and down through the frame. It was the only warning she intended to give them. Not her fault if they ignored it.

They ignored it. One of Lonnie’s buddies, grinning and whooping and looking eerily like a hyena, made a grab for the clutch when he got close enough. Her power flared. Hyena-boy’s hand flew in one direction while he and his bike went careening into another.

One down, three to go.

At midnight, North Avenue, which ran east to west, was largely deserted. Smart cops gave the DMZ and its clientele a wide berth—it was just safer and saner that way. The closer they got to Peachtree Street the more likely Normal police would be on patrol.

Kira could see the three remaining bikers in her mirrors, too stupid or too mad at her for embarrassing them in the club to go back for their fallen friend. With her extrasense guiding the bike, she dropped her left hand to tap a panel open and pulled out a modified Glock 19. Normal ammunition didn’t down hybrids permanently and despite her irritation she didn’t want to feed her power to the bullets in order to kill them. Killing required too much paperwork. Being shot still hurt like a bitch no matter what you were and she didn’t mind hurting them at all. “Possible wounding” didn’t entail filling out a form and the hybrids would heal soon enough.

Movement in the right mirror caught her eye; Lonnie had decided to make his move. “Time to end this.”

She pulled the clutch in then hit the front brake. Her body rocked forward as the back of the bike lifted. She felt the sweet spot—the balance point—as Lonnie and his buddy zoomed past her. Jamming her knees into the gas tank, she let the bike roll forward balanced on its front wheel and fired off two rounds left-handed. Both hybrids and their rides slid an impressive distance as she dropped the back tire to the pavement.

Three down, one to go.

She circled around to face the final biker. He’d stopped in the middle of the street, jaw hanging as he stared at the speedbumps his friends had become. She pushed up her visor. “You want some?”

His eyes ping-ponged between her and his fallen buddies. “Screw this!”

He burned rubber turning his bike around to head back toward the DMZ—and crashed into the grill of a huge black SUV with blackout windows that couldn’t have been more conspicuous if its license plate read FEDS. Except it wasn’t the FBI.

The SUV’s passenger and driver’s doors opened simultaneously and two tall men in suits exited onto the street. The Gilead Commission’s version of the Men in Black. They even wore sunglasses and it had to be after midnight and the streetlighting didn’t exactly cause a glare. It made her wonder if there were souls specifically destined for bureaucracy or if it was payment for wrongdoing in a previous life.

They paid no attention to the biker now attached to the front of their vehicle as they walked toward Kira.

She pulled back her extrasense as the suits stopped in front of her. “Took you long enough.”

You had an interesting writing journey to this point. Please tell us about and share your call story--we love those!

Way back in 1997, I sent off a proposal for my very first book, No Commitment Required, to Genesis Press. In March of 1998 I got a request for the full, so I sent that in. In June, I was training a bunch of associates for a new store opening in North Augusta, SC. I was on I-20 driving back across the state line when my then boyfriend called and said I got a letter back from Genesis Press. I asked what size it was and how thick was it. He said letter size, and I immediately thought rejection, but then he said it was thick, so I thought rejection with revisions. I asked him to open the letter and read it to me. Mind you, I am still driving on the highway. I hear, “Ms Glass, We are pleased to accept your manuscript for publication…” I started screaming at that point, managed to swerve off the exit an make it to my hotel, still screaming. I remember calling Emily Sewell and telling her. But my first “call” was actually from my boyfriend, telling me that Genesis Press had sent me a contract for No Commitment Required.

My second call story was from some friends starting up a small press, Parker Publishing. It went something like this: “How would you like to be in an anthology with LA Banks?” My response isn’t for tender ears, but went something like this: “Are you %##!@ kidding me? Hellz yeah!” Luckily they were my friends and forgave me. That was my right turn into paranormal romance, writing “Double Down” for the Vegas Bites anthology.

My third call story again highlights the power of networking. I’d had bits and pieces of Shadow Blade lying about, tinkering when I had the chance. A writer I knew online, Stacia Kane, emailed me one day and asked if I had any urban fantasy style stuff I was working on. I told her yeah, and sent her the beginning of SB. She liked it, we tweaked it and then she told me that she’d mentioned the story to her editor and that I should send it in. I did, and got an email back saying Juno was interested in publishing it. Big news followed by the bigger news that Juno became part of Pocket! So “the call” that got me my first NY deal was all done via email, but a lovelier Christmas present I’ve yet to receive!

The second book in this series, Shadow Chase, is due out in July. Can you tell us a little about it?

In book two, we leave Atlanta for a bit and travel to London and to Cairo. There are more surprises in store for Kira and her team, discoveries that make her question who and what she is.

As a Shadowchaser, Kira Solomon has been trained to serve the Light, dispatch the Fallen, and prevent the spread of chaos. It’s a deadly job, and Kira knows the horror of spilling innocent blood. But now she has a new role, as the Hand of Ma’at, the Egyptian Goddess of Truth and Order, and an assignment that might just redeem her.

A fellow Shadowchaser has gone missing, and so has a unique artifact imbued with astonishing magic. Unless the Vessel of Nun is returned, it will cause destruction beyond anything the modern world has seen. Kira’s got a team at her back, including Khefar, a near-immortal Nubian warrior who’s already died for her once. But as complicated as her feelings for him are, they’re nothing compared to the difficulties of the task she faces. And the only way to defeat the enemy is to trust in a power she can barely control, and put her life—and her soul—on the line.

For more about Seressia and her work, visit her website.

Seressia's giving away a copy of Shadow Blade to a commenter today. So tell us, what's your favorite mythology to see in a story or your favorite movie about Egypt? Or tell us your favorite paranormal team or favorite action-adventure or quest story.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Valentines Winner!

And the Valentines winner is: Cathy P, with her wonderfully cheesy Valentines poem:

Roses are red
Violets are colorful
If you aren't my valentine
I'll hold my breath till my face turns purple

Cathy, if you'll drop me an email to with the book you'd like, I'll get that and the truffles right out to you! Congratulations and thanks to every one for playing along.

Hitting the High Points Down Under

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Last Sunday was a very special Valentine's Day for yer olde Aunty. Yes, my DH came through with a lovely bouquet of flowers, and my son even managed to buy me some candy. Both of these gifts were nice but not in comparison to the VERY SPECIAL email I received late that afternoon.

The email was from Margaret Mason, the Awards Coordinator for the Australian Romance Readers Association, congratulating me because "...The Treasures of Venice has reached the final round of the 2nd annual Australian Romance Readers Awards in the Favourite Romantic Suspense category."


I'm sure I let out a squeal heard all around my neighborhood. Then I went to the website ( ), looked at the list of finalists and went into full-blown hyperventilation! I mean, look at the list for just romantic suspense:

Favourite Romantic Suspense
  • Burn / Linda Howard
  • Dark Country / Bronwyn Parry
  • Dark of Night / Suzanne Brockmann
  • Feel the Heat / Cindy Gerard
  • Hidden Fire / Jo Davis
  • Kindred in Death / JD Robb
  • Made to be Broken / Kelley Armstrong
  • Shoot to Thrill / Nina Bruhns
  • Stolen Heat / Elisabeth Naughton
  • The Treasures of Venice / Loucinda McGary
Way back in 2004 when I first started writing the manuscript that eventually became The Treasures of Venice, I never dared to DREAM of being included in such exhaulted company!


Even today, the idea that readers as far away as Australia are reading my books, enjoying my stories and loving my characters stretches the limits of my imagination (and you all know I do NOT lack for imagination)!

Truly, being a finalist for this award is the greatest honor of my writing career thus far. And the fact that I am sharing this honor with my fellow Banditas Anna Campbell and Christine Wells (both finalists in the historical category and Favourite Australian Author) just makes it that much more special!

In 2006 when this same story (then titled Jewels of the Madonna) became a finalist in the Golden Heart contest, I believed it just couldn't get any better!

I was wrong.

Having my book recognized and singled out by readers is THE BEST FEELING EVER! My only regret is that (barring a lottery win) I won't be able to attend the Awards Ceremony and dinner on May 15th in Sydney. But I will definitely be there in spirit, raising my glass of bubbly high, and I know that Fo and Madame and so many of our wonderful BBs and other readers will be there cheering when my name is announced!

And one of these days, I hope in the not-too-distance future, I WILL be there to attend, whether I'm lucky enough to final again or not. After all, I haven't been Down Under since 1999. I think I'm past due for another visit!

My very best and sincere good wishes to ALL the finalists and kudos to the winners!

Okay, Aunty will stop gushing now and let the rest of you have a turn. Let's celebrate some High Points today! Please share some of your greatest honors! Don't be shy, step right up and have some cyber-bubbly.