Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bandit Booty

As usual, I'm behind in announcing my winner. But I promise it wasn't because I was playing Angry Birds. The winner of an ARC of ONE NIGHT SCANDAL is:


Kirsten, please email me at christie @ christiekelley . com with your address so I can get the book out to you.


by Jo Robertson

I recently returned from a visit with my brother Fred and his wife Sylvia in North Carolina. Their lovely house looks out toward the Pasquotank River, a gorgeous view. During this visit Fred and I spent a lot of time working on his personal story.

You see, I didn’t know Fred existed until about five years ago. He and I have different mothers, but the same father. But that’s a blog for another day.

Today’s subject is Kentucky Border Bologna! During my North Carolina trip, I discovered this delicious meat product. I use this term because I don't know what they put in it, and I suspect I'm better off remaining ignorant!

To a southern-bred gal like me a fried bologna sandwich is like heaven. I eat the artery-clogging stuff like an addict. I don’t care. Just give me my next fix. If you're wondering what can possibly be so great about bologna, you haven't tasted the really good stuff.

When my brother Fred visits his hometown in Kentucky, he always buys several of these bologna rolls. Sylvia freezes them and they slice off the amount they want as they use it.

Kentucky Border Bologna is sharp and salty, tasty either warm or cold. We had it for breakfast and lunch, and I could've eaten it for dinner, but Sylvia made me go healthy. Party pooper.

However, she packed several sandwiches for my wait at the airport on my way home, and luckily, airport security did not considered Kentucky Border Bologna a homeland security violation. Silly people.

Kentucky Border Bologna is the best bologna I've EVAH tasted. I had no idea where it was manufactured, but I heard a rumor that it isn’t shipped anywhere outside Kentucky.

That alone was enough to intrigue me, so I made a few long-distance phone calls. The meat department manager at Ralph's Food Fair in Grayson, KY -- a very nice gentleman with a lovely southern accent -- assured me that they did indeed sell Kentucky Border Bologna. He even tracked down the writing on the wrapping -- Kp Packing.

A little internet detecting led me to the company, Kp Packing in Erlanger, KY, where another helpful woman told me the product is now called Kentucky Best Bologna, a mistake in naming, in my opinion. There's something wickedly catchy and illegal about Kentucky Border Bologna.

The picture is from their website. Seriously, Kp, you need to get a larger picture!

Unfortunately, they do not ship outside of their region, so we Californians cannot jump on the internet and order some of this delicious spicy meat.

Sigh. I think I'm going into withdrawal.

I suppose my arteries will thank the company, but my taste buds are crying for a huge helping of this salty delight.

So, right now I’m eating my plain old PB&J sandwich and watching the delightful Timothy Olyphant in the latest episode of “Justified.”

Right now that’s the closest I can get to Kentucky and their delicious border bologna.

I’m in the mood for sharing our decadent foods. So, what’s your wicked delight, food-wise? Find any recent recipes or tasty treasures to share?

Here’s a recipe Sylvia gave me, a “healthy” version of Key Lime Pie. We ate about three of them when I visited, which is good because the recipe makes three.

Sylvia’s Key Lime Pie

3 reduced-fat graham cracker crusts
16 oz light Cool Whip
12 oz frozen limeade (or lemonade)
2 cans fat-free condenses milk

Beat together, pour into shells and freeze until firm.

Okay, let's get down and share our favorite decadence!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cocktail Casual

by Susan Sey

Confession time: It's been over eight years since I had a job I needed to dress up for. To be perfectly honestly, it's been eight years since I had a job I needed to get dressed for at all.

See I'm a stay at home mom and a writer. This requires one of two looks: PJ pants & an earflap hat, or shorts & a pony tail, depending on the season. I'm not much of a groomer, so this makes me happy.

However, I recently got invited to a charity event & the invitation arrived with this ominous post-script:

Dress is Cocktail Casual.

Um, what?

Now I'm not a total amateur when it comes to dress codes. I know the difference between black tie & white tie, I know business formal & business casual. I even know casual Friday (Jeans--yes. Flip flops--no.) But Cocktail Casual? I have visions of feathers & I'm pretty sure that's not right.

I implored my husband for help & he rendered this manly opinion: pants & a collared shirt. Which is great advice if I want people to hand me their empty glasses all night & ask for a warm up on their coffee. No help there.

Next came Google. Nearest I can tell, 'cocktail' defines the ballpark--we're talking a bit fancier and/or sparklier than work wear, with dresses around the knee. I'm thinking 'casual' tones down the fancy. Maybe throw on a cardigan to mitigate cleavage & arm flab?

Shoot, this is exhausting. There better be an open bar, that's all I have to say.

So how about you? Have you ever flubbed the dress code? Or witnessed an epic wardrobe fail? Share!

And if you happen to know what cocktail casual is, share that too! And please, be specific. And timely. This shindig kicks off at 6 tonight, so time is of the essence.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Hey, guys, thank you for a FABULOUS launch party in the lair yesterday. The cabana boys are still cleaning up! And finding chocolate in unexpected places! Hard to pick winners - but I had to. So the people who get a signed copy of MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION are:

Kaelee BJ LilMissMolly

Congratulations, girls. Can you please email me on anna @ (no spaces) with your snail mail details and I'll get your book off to you. Happy reading!

Let's Talk TBR Piles!

by Suzanne

Recently, I've been on a reading kick. I love when that happens. I just want to sink into my TBR pile and plow through a dozen or so books. (Okay, I've been busy, so it's only been five.)

Here's what I've read lately:

The Lies That Bind by our own Kate Carlisle! Fabulous read, and oh Derek Stone is just sooooo yummy! Brooklyn is a lucky girl, Kate!

The Ranger by Monica McCarty. Have you started this series? OMG! Like Speical Forces guys for Robert The Bruce. Can't. Wait. For. The Viper. Book #4.

The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry. Steve is sort of like my sorbet. You know, the pallet cleanser between all the courses of romances? Love me some action/adventure/intrigue. This is book #6.

Money, Honey by our Susan Sey. Susan's debut novel is witty, charming, sexy and captivating. Oh wait, Susan is, too! Love this book. Can't wait for the next one, Money Shot!

And I just read Warrior Betrayed arc for my interview with Addison Fox for next month.OH MY GOD. Y'all are gonna LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this hero and the Taurus Warrior!

And I am making a trip to the bookstore this week just to get a copy of  Lover Unleashed! Yummo, love me some BDB books!

So, what have YOU been reading? What are you looking forward to? Any one I need to add to my list?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Midnight's Wild Passion is...WILD!!!!

by Anna Campbell

Good evening, Regency gossip mavens! It's your eagle-eyed editor here from Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy.

Are you ready for your big dose of SCANDAL???!!!!

Yep, we're all getting to play papparazzi for the day. Nikons at twenty paces! Hoist your Olympus!

Because today is the launch party for the honorable Miss Campbell's latest release MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION and there's going to be blood on the Polaroids before we're done, dear readers!

But first a word from our sponsors at MIDNIGHT CENTRAL...

MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION is a classic Regency romance spiced with passion and danger and...SCANDAL (well, you kinda knew that, you're papparazzi, right?).

Here's some secret video from one of our undercover London reporters:

And here's the background to the breaking story that's taken the gossip sheets by storm:

London's most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge…

The dashing, licentious Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister - now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas's vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe's unsuspecting daughter.

Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue-banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie-Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is, and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him.

Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes…

Here's a link to an excerpt:

We even have specific footage for our Aussie scandalmongerers, uh, READERS of Downunder Disgraceful Doings!

You'll notice that Nicholas and Antonia have been caught in a VERY compromising position in this candid photo.

Just goes to show you shouldn't do anything naughty in the summer house at Pelham Place. All those bushes give dedicated papparazzi lots of places to hide out - and let's face it, neither Nicholas nor Antonia was paying much attention to what was going on OUTSIDE the lovely little Greek temple at the time!

Our intrepid reporter told us events reached such a pitch that his camera fell from his sweaty hands and crashed upon the muddy ground, so this is our only photgraphic record of illicit cavortings.

To speak frankly, dear readers - and do we ever do anything else here at Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy? - we're not at all surprised that the Marquess of Ranelaw is currently giving us plenty of material to titilate you. After all, he has always had a terrible reputation as a rake and a libertine.

He looks like a fallen angel and acts like the De-il himself! Many a time, we've had to fan our heaving bosoms and reach for the smelling salts preparing the sealed sections of RRRARP where we've related his numerous and notorious escapades with wanton women both within and without society.

But this Season, the on dit is that Nicholas Challoner is out to catch himself a bride. And he seems to have settled on innocent debutante Cassandra Demarest.

The marquess's attentions to the lovely young woman have been notable. At the Bradham musicale, he sat next to her for the entire evening - apart from a mysterious disappearance onto the terrace. During the house party at Pelham Place which had such a lamentable end, he was rarely away from Miss Demarest's side.

But we at Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy have inside information, dear readers! It's not Cassandra he's pursuing but her dowdy chaperone Miss Antonia Smith who until now has been a model of rectitude.

Previously, Miss Smith was on our radar purely as a dragon of a companion with no dress sense. But rumor now has it that Miss Smith conceals hidden depths.

We wonder what else this lady is concealing!

We have it on good authority that Miss Smith can ride and shoot better than most men - something Ranelaw needs to take into consideration if he's plotting the lady's ruin. Just take a look at this candid shot of Miss Smith toting heat instead of a reticule.

If I were the marquess, I would be VERRRRRRRRRRRY careful! Of his dealings with both Miss Smith and Miss Demarest.

And then, fetch your editor a burnt feather, there was that scandalous evening at the Merriweathers where not only Miss Smith and the marquess danced a waltz together, but the poet and traveler John Benton, once accounting the handsomest man in England, returned to set female hearts a-flutter.

The fellow has been in Italy for years and there is some secret scandal about his absence that we promise to get to the bottom of before we're done. We will leave no stone - or poet - unturned in our search for the truth! Our reporters will scale any cherry trees (oops, gave away a clue to a future edition there!), hide in any retiring room at a ball, eavesdrop on any conversation to keep our readers informed!

There is MUCH more we could say - once our lawyers have cleared us to speak... Ahem, once we have completed our researches.

There are whispers of missing heiresses, elopements, parental disapproval, seductions, abductions, duels. Oh, my, we can hardly contain our censure at the wicked goings on this Season. And we dread to assault our gentle readers' ears with what we know.

Well, all right...

If you insist...

What's that? The lawyers say no?

It seems if you want the full dramatic story, you have to read MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION?

NOOOOOO! Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy resents the implication that we don't have the whole story - even though we don't. One thing we do know, there is much scandal and mayhem before there's a wedding!

OK, you papparazzi in training, let's celebrate the launch of this scandalous memoir with some wild reportings! Tell me the latest scandal in that notorious den of iniquity, the Romance Bandits Lair.

What did Sven do with Madame Christine at the last party? Where did Cindy and the cabana boys disappear to on Thursday? Is the deadline cave only for deadlines?

If you know no scandal of the lair - which this editor finds extremely hard to believe! - tell us some scandal from this momentous Season where the Marquess of Ranelaw seems to have lost his taste for wild women and started to pursue dowdy companions.

Heavens to Betsy, what is the world coming to?

Plenty of champagne and orgeat and warm lemonade to keep you refreshed. We have the second best orchestra in London to keep your toes tapping - that social-climbing Mrs. Jones-Llewellyn-Jones had already booked the best orchestra, bl-st her hide.

And the party favors include THREE signed copies of the document in question. Yes, MIDNIGHT'S WILD PASSION (oh, my, the summer house!) will go to three intrepid reporters today.

GOOD LUCK, PAPPARAZZI! May you do Regency Routs, Rumpus and Rumpy-Pumpy proud!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wild Ride to Love

posted by Nancy
Apologies to everyone for the unfortunate glitch that delayed today's blog. I especially hate it because we have a guest. Kathleen O'Reilly returns to the Lair with her latest Blaze release, Just Surrender. I've read the excerpt on her site, and I can't wait to read the book.

Welcome, Kathleen!

The hero and heroine of Just Surrender meet under less than promising circumstances, and then the hero gets an unpleasant surprise. Tell us about that.

Tyler is a surgeon, flying in for a fellowship in NYC, and he ends up in Edie’s cab, which isn’t really Edie’s cab, but she’s helping out a friend. Not being a real cabbie, she’s in it more for the meeting people than for the actual transportation aspects, and deciding that Tyler needs a friend (his girlfriend just broke up with him in a text message), she begins a night-long-trek through NYC and most of the surrounding boroughs, because she doesn’t think he should be alone. Tyler originally wants to just get back to his hotel and sleep, but he’s attracted to Edie, and uh, things move along from there.

What I like about both the hero and the heroine in this book is how similar their core personalities are. Edie wants to fix the entire world, wants to be everyone’s friend, wants to be the person that everyone goes to for help, and she’s got a big enough ego that she thinks she can. However, deep down, she’s scared of a real emotional bond, and so her actions are all very superficial. Tyler is a heart-surgeon. He wants to fix everyone, too, but he doesn’t think he’s capable of a real emotional bond.

Geez dumping a guy with a text message! After that, just as Ty and Edie are getting along so well (not!), something happens that makes his evening even worse . . .

They get a flat. In Brooklyn. In one of the seedier parts of Brooklyn. And it’s raining. Watching a man who needs to control everything stuck in a situation that is out of his control was a ball to write. In my real world, I know and love a lot of control freaks, and I adore when life whacks them upside the head, because… well, they don’t handle it well. I think God does it, on purpose, only because he thinks it’s funny. So do I.

So one thing leads to another leads to a bar. The excerpt on your website ends there. Is it fair to ask where our hero and heroine proceed after that?

Hehehe…. It’s a Blaze. There’s sex.

LOL! Would you like to share an excerpt here?

Tyler examined his mud-splattered shirt, pulling it free from his pants, ready to burn the damn thing. He looked up into the rear-view mirror and met her eyes. “Why are you smiling?”

“You look good in dirt," she told him, and he noticed the dimple on the right cheek, which was completely free of both dirt or guilt.

“You’re not helping.”

“I’m trying to cheer you up." She sounded sincere and completely comfortable. Not painfully aroused. Not wondering what he looked liked naked.

“Get me to my hotel," he growled, too tired for his clinical voice. "That'll cheer me up.”

“Why don’t you like me?”

“Because you feed on people’s pain.”

“I do not," she insisted.

“Then why are you so intrigued by the fact that I got dumped?” It stung. Yes. Stung. Tyler wasn't used to pain. He cured pain. He prescribed meds for pain. He analyzed pain, and monitored pain, but goddamnit, he did not feel it. It wasn’t even Cynthia so much as the idea that he wasn’t good enough. It was a pain he’d stopped felling a long time ago. Or so he thought.

“Aha, I knew I was right," Edie chirped, pouring salt into the wound. "Not that I'm happy you got dumped. Satisfied, yes? I mean, I do like to be right. Especially on matters of reading people. Don’t you like adventures?”

Adventures were the nation’s number one cause of death..

He blamed Cynthia for his foul mood. She had dragged him into this gutter of embarrassing juvenile behavior. Edie had merely pummeled him until he had no choice but to regress. Such asinine justifications cheered him up.

Almost as much as the cheery idea of dirty, bacteria-infected, saliva-swapping sex. Tyler smiled to himself. "Sorry," he apologized politely.

“Why don’t you let me buy you a drink?” she asked, apparently not sensing the darker trend to his thoughts.

“Why?” he asked, stalling for time, because his first answer that leaped to his brain was 'yes.'

“I owe you. You’re doing a nice thing, and you didn’t say a word when I tooled all over the tri-state region. Tonight you've changed a flat, your girlfriend of some indeterminate amount of time dumped you, all of which happened when you should be getting well laid at the hotel. If there’s anybody in the world that needs a drink, it’s you. Maybe a shot of tequila, or ouzo. I know this Greek bar...”

“I don’t want to go to a Greek bar,” he told her, shifting uncomfortably, finding an exposed spring in the seat, feeling it cut into his thigh. Probably severing the femoral artery, thereby letting him bleed out a quick and painless death. Then Cynthia would feel bad. Because she had dumped him in a text message.

“How about an American bar?” Edie suggested, as if all his immediate pains could be solved with alcohol. A bar was a recipe for disaster, but since Tyler had apparently not severed his femoral artery and was going to live, alcohol now seemed almost plausible.

“If I let you buy me a drink, one drink -- will you drive me back to the hotel?” There was a roughness in his voice that worried him. And now he was creating justifications of extraordinary mental dexterity designed solely to further his own penile agenda. Although to be fair, he didn’t want to have a penile agenda. He wanted to get to the hotel, take a shower, climb into bed. He could visualize it all. Unfortunately, his visuals also included Edie. And she was naked. And limber.

“I’ll drive you straight back to the hotel. I swear,” she promised, but Tyler knew when disaster lurked around the corner, when a surgery was doomed before it started. He didn’t like to think these were premonitions, because that implied his subconscious was guiding his decision -- or worse, his penis.

Tonight Cynthia had dumped him. Texas’ #4 cardio-thoracic surgeon with a net worth of over four million, who had saved her father’s life, not once, but three times, not that anyone was counting. If there was a woman in the world who owed him her undying gratitude, it was Cynthia.

So what if he wanted to be a jackass? If he wanted to have a drink? If he wanted to have limber sex with a woman who felt some deep-seated desire to make him feel better? By God, he should. If he wanted to do something wild, spontaneous, and hair-raising, then by God, he had a premeditated right to go for it.

It was because of such elaborate rationalizations that his father had called him Shit-For-Brains Sophocles, but Tyler always shrugged it off. Although now he did wonder if Sophocles ever created meaningless justifications in pursuit of limber sex. Probably not. Probably Sophocles never had shit for brains. Only Tyler.

“One drink. An American bar,” he agreed, resigned to his decision.

“A friend of mine works in a strip club.”

He smiled at her, mud-splattered and grimy with an agenda that was just as black.

To read more, click here.


What inner conflicts keep Edie and Ty apart?

In this book, it’s Edie who is running from a relationship. Her father is a world-class surgeon who has neglected his family for his career, although he’s still a very good man. Edie resents her father for putting his family second, but gets mad at herself for resenting all the patients who prevent the man from being a real father to her. Tyler’s journey is much shorter. He thinks that he’s not capable of loving anyone, but then he falls in love with Edie and realizes that he’d never met the right woman for him before.

Can you give us a hint of what ultimately brings them together?

Edie’s father, and I think that’s all I can say without spoilers. ☺

Don't you have a book out in May, too? What's that about?

Okay, so this IS the May book, officially. Amazon has been selling it since the 19th, but last night my local Target still had the April books out. And the Kindle edition goes on sale May 1st. Color me confused. But anyway, sometime soon, this book will be out, (unless you order mass-market from Amazon, in which case you can get it now).

I have Austen Hart’s story in July, JUST LET GO, and then in September of 2011, it’s Brooke Hart’s story, JUST GIVE IN.

After that, what's on your horizon?

I’m waiting to hear from my editor on my next trilogy, so we’ll see. And I’ve been working on a single title contemporary as well. No idea about that one, but crossed fingers are appreciated as well.

For more about Kathleen and her books, visit her website.

Kathleen is giving a signed, personalized copy of Just Surrender to one commenter today. So tell us, what's the strangest cab (or other vehicle) ride you ever took? Have you ever had a day where just everything went wrong? Or a chance encounter with a stranger who became a friend or more?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jennifer Lyon's Back in The Lair!!

Posted By Kate

It's a total thrill for me to welcome Jennifer Lyon back to the Lair today! I absolutely love her hot, sexy Wing Slayer Hunters series, which means I'm in heaven right now because the third book in the series, NIGHT MAGIC, came out last month, and SINFUL MAGIC debuts in just a few weeks. Back-to-back Wing Slayer Hunters! You've got to love that! Take it away, Jen!

Thank you to Kate and the Banditas for having me today!

I’m here with a dilemma, and I know the Romance Bandits and readers will be able to help me out. You see, I’m having trouble with my assistant. Meet Bailey.

I hired him because he’s cute, and he works for dog treats. I can actually afford dog treats, so it’s a win-win right?

Not so much. You see Bailey hardly ever shows up for work. He claims the reason is because he lives with my son in another town and can’t drive. Frankly, I think that’s a poor excuse. I mean come on, how far did Lassie travel to save Timmy? Sigh.

Another problem is that Bailey can’t type or answer phones. And he has a weird fascination with squeaky toys. Plus, he often insists on lying in my lap while I work. That makes typing a bit of a challenge.

I think I may have to reconsider Bailey as my assistant. So I’ve been looking around for other candidates and found this one:

Notice, he comes with his own transportation. That’s an obvious bonus right there! Plus he looks a lot like my hero in the third book from my Wing Slayer Hunter series, Phoenix. The book, NIGHT MAGIC was just released on March 22nd. The back cover blurb says about Phoenix: Wing Slayer Hunter Phoenix Torq is sworn to protect earth witches, but he is shaken by Ailish’s fierce independence—and his own forbidden cravings. Dark, impulsive, and haunted by his troubled past… Don’t you think that fits this guy? He could help me promote NIGHT MAGIC!

And then I found this guy:

If we tattooed a dragon on his chest, this man would look just like Key DeMicca from my next book, SINFUL MAGIC, that is coming out May 31st. Key looks like a good looking surfer, but beneath that lurks…well here’s the description from the back cover blur: Wing Slayer Hunter Kieran “Key” DeMicca channels the dark violence that lives inside him into a popular comic book series about an ancient dragon named Dyfyr, but only Key knows that Dyfyr is real. Not only could he help me promote SINFUL MAGIC, but if I sent him out to hand-sell the book, I’m betting female readers would buy more than one copy!

Two really solid candidates! But then I saw this guy:

And I thought; that’s Linc! Or Lincoln Dillinger, another Wing Slayer Hunter whose story I’m just beginning to write. Linc is a charming, sophisticated, and an obscenely rich high-stakes gambler who obviously doesn’t mind getting a little dirty now and again. Talk about inspiration to write!

I don’t know what to do! Who should I chose to be my new assistant? What do you think? Give me your opinion and you’ll be entered into a contest to win a signed copy of the first two books in the Wing Slayer Hunter series; BLOOD MAGIC and SOUL MAGIC.

Jennifer Lyon always wanted to be a witch. When her witch-powers didn't materialize, she turned to creating magic in her books. NIGHT MAGIC and SINFUL MAGIC are the third and fourth books in an enchanting, passionate and supernatural series. Jen also has a super secret alter ego known as Jennifer Apodaca, the author of the award winning Samantha Shaw Mystery Series. Visit Jen at or click here to visit the Wing Slayer Hunter Lair on Facebook.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coffee or Tea?

by KJ Howe

The border in my own home has a lot in common with the way a bookstore is divided up. My library tends to be filled with fiction (and books on how to write) while my husband's is almost exclusively dedicated to non-fiction. Lately, I have been thinking about just why it is when either of us have the spare time to read, we will reach for something completely different, but be equally rewarded. Is there a personality type drawn to either type of reading? Do they serve different needs in our lives? Do the different things we read shape us into different people, or is it the reverse?

Now, the first thing that might pop into your minds is that my husband is more practical than I am, but a brief scan of his bookshelves proves this is not so. His collection of books includes a great deal of science and religion texts (peacefully co-existing side by side), ancient history, medieval history, African history, and books on the law of war, and the rise and development of modern mercenaries. None of this has any practical impact on our lives. In fact, one could reasonably suggest that the things he reads about (ie. the catastrophic extinction of dinosaurs via an interplanetary collision) are as far removed from our reality as a Jackie Collins novel!

The first thing that is usually said about fiction, and romance fiction in particular, is that it is escapist. Now while there is nothing at all wrong with that (escapism is a quite healthy part of our emotional lives), I'm not convinced that reading real history is any less escapist. While doing some research for a novel I am working on, I read about Cicero, the great Roman lawyer/politician who played a role in the two great civil wars that turned Rome from a republic into an empire. His life was filled with domestic turmoil, dramatic speeches, political intrigue, exotic travel, and open war. It would take a combination of what Debbie Macomber, John Grisham, David Morrell, James Michener and Tom Clancy to do a novel that would do justice to his life. The maxim that the truth is stranger than fiction never seems to hold truer than in historical non-fiction, and there is no real excuse to learn about Cicero or the relationship between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin (or Philip II) than the same voyeuristic pleasure one can get from watching an episode of Desperate Housewives.

Perhaps the theme that binds together the reader of fiction and non-fiction is the pure joy of discovery. I can see the same look on my husband's face as he flips through the latest piece by Gould on evolutionary biology as I know I display when I am nearing the crescendo of a Lee Child novel. The rush of learning something new, something that fills us with joy, excitement, and satisfaction at a quality outcome is universal in the reading experience.

Are there similar borders in your house? What do you reach for first when you have the time to read for pleasure? Are fiction and non-fiction readers different species, or are the differences between them paper thin?

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!

It's a Royal Wedding

by Donna MacMeans

Have to say - I'm loving all the hype on the upcoming nuptials of Kate Middleton and Prince William. The momentos are fabulous. Have you purchased any? I'm particularly fond of the bobble heads myself. (I'm hoping Anna will drop in with an update on what's available in England).

So what will you be doing on the big day, Friday, April 29th? Will you be glued to the TV set watching the procession? While the actual event takes
place at 11:00 am in England, that is more like 6 am in Ohio. While I'll admit I watched the 1981 royal wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles, I won't be able to be watch this one. I'll be in a (yawn) accounting seminar that starts at 7:30 am that Friday and then drive an hour or so to present a writing workshop once the seminar is over. No rest for the wicked (grin). I think I read somewhere that the big event will be broadcast on youtube. Isn't youtube just wonderful? If not for them, I couldn't post this:

I do so love a royal wedding! How about you? Any party plans? Maybe just one piece of wedding cake? (Hmmm...I know the accountants wouldn't do it, but I wonder if I can talk the workshop sponsors into some cake for the participants. I say any excuse for a party is good enough for me.) Let's party in the lair.

Friday, April 22, 2011

St George's Day Quick 5*

by Anna Sugden

*Actually, I'm a day early.

Still, as this is my day to blog and I am English *g*, I'm making it a special celebration for tomorrow's official St George's Day.

I'm sure you all know that St George is the patron saint of England and have heard one of the many versions of the tale about him and the dragon.

Some of you will be surprised to know that the flag which represents England is not the Union Jack, but the flag of St George. The Union Jack is the flag of the United Kingdom - each of the countries within, have their own flag.

In recent years, the flag of St George has grown in popularity and you'll often see it associated with sporting events or occasions of national pride.

Also, did you know that while we sing God Save the Queen as our National Anthem, that too is for the United Kingdom. When we want to sing the anthem for England, we sing the rousing hymn Jerusalem.

As for England's national dish, many would say it is either fish & chips or roast beef and Yorkshire pudding ... I'm happy with either choice *g*, though I'd be happy with a Devonshire cream tea too!

And, of course, our national flower is the rose, the national animal is the lion (because we have so many of those roaming our fields!) and I think the national bird is the robin.

So, in honour of St George's Day, here is a Quick Five about where you live:

1. Does your state (for state, you can have province, region or country if that suits better) have a flag and what does it look like?

2. Does your state have a hymn or song?

3. What is your state's flower?

4. What is your state's signature dish?

5. Does your state have a bird and/or animal to represent it?

What's more, I'll throw in some Cadbury's for one lucky commenter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Adventures of an Evil Genius

Bestselling author and fourth-time RITA nominee (for the book we discussed in July, The Wicked Wyckerly) Patricia Rice joins us today with something that's new for her, a direct-to-electronic release, Evil Genius.

To keep the FTC happy, I'll disclose that Patricia sent me a free copy of the book. I finished it yesterday and loved it.

Welcome, Patricia! What made you decide to release this book independently?

This book has been sitting in a desk drawer for years. I love the characters, but even I have to admit that it does not neatly fit any market niche. I never even tried to circulate it in NY. I did spend those years removing it from hiding and paring it down so the mystery threads became stronger, but it's not a cozy and not a thriller. It's a mystery about people. And since NY knows me as a romance writer, I just decided not to fight the system but experiment with e-publishing.

Who is the Evil Genius?

That's completely a matter of opinion! There are several characters who could be tagged with that moniker although none of them are actually evil except the bad guys, and they're no geniuses. But nine-year-old Elizabeth Georgiana, who cynically predicts all the family disasters, is the one everyone calls EG.

Tell us about some of the people in EG’s world.

Ana Devlin is the central character, a self-confessed doormat for her family, an introvert by nature—which means she prefers being alone but is quite capable of emerging from her computer cave to punch the crap out of anyone harming her family. Although, being a genius in her own right, she usually does so creatively and without malice. Then there's Nick, Ana and EG's half brother who ought to be a movie star except he remembers numbers, not words. And then, let us not forget the spy in the attic…

What’s the big problem for the characters in this book?

EG's senator father is accused of killing his aide. That's the inciting incident anyway. After that, one thing leads to another and pretty soon they're not only tracking a killer but an international conspiracy and the man who stole their inheritance. See, I told you it doesn't fit any niches!

Is there a romantic arc?

I would hesitate to call it romantic at this stage, although if I have the opportunity to write future books, it will become so. Ana and the spy begin at a hostility level too high to turn it into romance by the end. Let's just say they learn to respect and appreciate each other.

Can we read an excerpt?

There's a link for downloading a .pdf of the first chapter on my website.

Were there challenges in independently publishing this book that you didn’t expect?

Working with, which produced EVIL GENIUS for me, is pure pleasure, so the only real challenge is figuring out how one does promotion without a bookstore. Until I see a large enough demand for the book, I don't see a good reason to go to print yet, but I'm having a hard time adjusting to a "virtual" book. I can't even autograph it!

What’s next for you?

I'm always up to no good. DEVILISH MONTAGUE, the next of my regency rebellious sons, will be out in July. I believe the next reissue of MUST BE MAGIC will be out in spring 2012, probably about the same time as my first contemporary Malcolm/Ives, THE LURE OF SONG AND MAGIC. And just because I'm having too much fun with weird stuff, I've sold two urban fantasies, but they'll be published under a pseudonym so as not to distract from the romances.

And thank you, Bandits, for letting me stop by and say hi again. It's always a pleasure to be here!

It's always a pleasure to have you!

For more about Patricia Rice and her books, check out her website.

One commenter today will receive a .pdf version of Evil Genius, so tell us--what's your favorite book or that's "offbeat" or didn't strike you as fitting a niche? Or what's your favorite mystery or series featuring a quirky family?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Home Cookin'

by Beth

My son comes home tonight for Easter break and after four months of college living he is very much looking forward to some home cooking *g* He's asked for Cheesy Chicken Pockets and Paninis this go around. Over Thanksgiving it was roasted chicken and Paninis. At Christmas he wanted my mom's goulash and Paninis.

In case you missed it, my boy loves a toasty sandwich! He'd often make one or two of what he called Man-wiches for breakfast, lunch or a snack, piling it high with meat, at least two types of cheese and more often than not, a fried egg *g* Sadly, those days are gone as his dorm doesn't have a stove, only a microwave. Which means I'll have to make sure we're stocked up on bread, deli meats and cheeses and eggs this summer.

Some of my guy's other home cooked favorites include cheeseburger soup, cheeseburger pie, barbecue ribs, twice baked potatoes (his aunt is making these for Easter so he'll be thrilled) steak roll-ups and snickerdoodles.

I also try to have all of his favorite foods and snacks on hand. Funny how my grocery bill goes up significantly when he's home :-)

But that's okay. It's worth it to have him in hugging distance!

What home cooked meal would you ask your mom (or any family member) to make for you?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

One Mom's Encouragement--Dianna Love Passes It On

by Cassondra Murray with Dianna Love

Y'all pull up a bar stool and put in your order for a glass of wine or one of Sven's fabulous cocktails. I've poured myself a glass of California Cabernet, and I want to celebrate a new--and very different--project by lair favorite--and my long-time friend, Dianna Love. She's just launched something that's *cue valley girl squeal* totally awesome, and I want her to share it with you, and the reasons behind it.

If you're a lair regular, you know by now that Dianna's first book won a Rita Award, and she's gone on to co-author two successful series with #1 NYT Bestseller, Sherrilyn Kenyon. The first was Sherrilyn's original BAD Agency series. The lastest is Dianna's brainchild--the rockin' Belador urban fantasy series.

Many of you have read my interviews with Dianna in the past, and been inspired by her drive, determination, and what seems like a bottomless well of energy, which she draws on when pursuing something she cares about. I recently learned that she gives her mom a lot of the credit for encouraging Dianna to go for her dreams and follow her heart--first into art--and later into her newest passion, fiction writing.

As we head into the weeks before Mother's Day, I asked Dianna if she'd share a little about her mom, what that encouragement meant to her, and how that's led to her sponsoring a national art contest based around her latest book.

Welcome Dianna!

Dianna: *lifts her glass of Australian Shiraz* Thanks! It's always great to be back here in the lair!

Cassondra: You’re an inspiration to a lot of people because you’ve basically had two very successful careers. Many of the Bandits and Buddies know that you were an artist before you were a writer. But that's key to your latest project, so for those new to the lair, will you tell us briefly about your “past life?”

Dianna: Sure. My life revolved around art pretty much from the first time I picked up a crayon. I was blessed with the ability to draw photo-realistic art and by the time I was in middle school, I was selling detailed pencil portraits for $5 each to earn money for art supplies. My parents had five kids and no extra money for frivolous use of school supplies like paper and pencils. I have never forgotten an uncle who worked in a paper mill and brought me a ream of paper once when he came to visit. The memory of that gift has stayed with me since grade school.

Cassondra: What a great gift for a budding artist.

Dianna: *nods* Over the next few years as I grew into my teens and on into adulthood, I went from drawing portraits on 18” paper to painting them 20 feet tall way up above the ground. When I was first living alone at seventeen, I used my art to do side jobs between three “regular” jobs I held during the week. By age twenty, I was building a business in painting signs and murals. Over the next thirty years, I expanded to creating massive three-dimensional objects for unusual marketing projects and eventually created unusual high-tech advertising pieces for events like the Olympics and companies such as Coca-Cola.

(Cassondra interjects: That Coca Cola sign on the left is in downtown Atlanta--it's an example of the kind of projects Dianna's company built.)

Cassondra: I’ve known you for a long time, but only
recently came to understand the roles your mom, and her encouragement, played in your art career. We’re coming up on Mother’s Day, and we've got a lot of moms in the lair with us today. I think they'd love to hear a little about your childhood and your mom. I especially love the story about the tv station interview. Will you tell that one?

Dianna: *takes a sip of Shiraz* Yes. My mother was no wallflower, but she was a wife during an era when the man had the last say in a house. With five children, there was no doting on any one, but I remember my mom coming to first grade just to see something I’d drawn. I thought I was in big trouble *grin* – that was the only reason a parent was asked to come to the school back then -- but I’d used my newsprint sheet of paper--anyone remember drawing on newsprint?--(*cassondra raises hand*) to draw an involved series of the Billy Goat’s Gruff cartoon, and I guess my teacher was impressed, because she called my mom in to see it.

By the time I reached sixth grade, my mom had gone through years of having me draw at the kitchen table and on anything I could get my hands on, plus I’d won some art contests by then.

Cassondra: But in sixth grade something pivotal happened?

Dianna: Yes. We had two six-week sessions of art that year. I was in heaven. Free art materials and time to draw--but more about that later.

My art teacher entered a batik I created in a national contest, which I knew nothing about until they announced in home room that I’d placed 3rd…and that I was to be interviewed on television. They might as well have said I was expected to travel on the next moon flight.

Now back to that "time to draw" in class thing....My dad had grown up during hard times and expected us to only study in school—and that didn’t mean drawing or painting. Art was a waste of time and money to him, so when I told them about the television interview, he said no.

I had never heard my mom naysay him, but she said yes. She dressed me up and drove me to that interview. The first and second place winners were seniors who t
hey also interviewed. Everyone was very nice, going over questions with me before they started rolling.
That was a memorable experience to be sure.

But more than anything it made me realize that my art did count because my mom said so. Never underestimate the power of believing in your child.

Cassondra: How did you use that belief and encouragement—how did you transfer it into something concrete as you moved through your teens and into y
our adult life?

Dianna: My mom would do anything for her children for the short time we had her (she had a heart attack and died when I was seventeen). She patiently listened to every story, helped with everyone’s homewor
k and cut no one slack when it came to being a good person and the best you could be at anything.

Because of her encouragement and pride in what I’d created, I never considered giving
up my art. But my father told me I couldn’t depend on it to make a living. I believed that as a teen, and took mechanical drawing in school to appease him. Being a strange right brain/left brain artist who loves math, I aced the class, but one thing it did was show me that I hated the idea of engineering or architecture.

I never walked around thinking I’d be the next Rembrandt painting portraits all day, but neither did I enjoy working in an office, so I gravitated to painting signs and murals. Living alone at seventeen is a two-sided blade of positive and negative. Every day was a struggle to survive back then, but the positive is that the only voice I heard was my own and that one told me to follow my heart.

I have always felt as though my mom is nearby watching over me and I still feel her spirit with me in everything I accomplish.

Cassondra: *swirls wine in glass* I want to talk for a minute about passing on the encouragement your m
om gave you. I’ve seen you sit down with new writers and help them through tough spots in the writing--or in the business--more times than I can count. But your encouragement of others didn’t start when you started writing. Once you had your own sign business and your own shop, you helped other young artists get started and taught them how to do what you did. Your consistent willingness to teach others and share the work and success might seem counter-intuitive to some people. Will you talk about why doing that fits your basic philosophy of encouraging others?

Dianna: It goes back to my mom's influence. She would stop to help any child anywhere. I remember her saying that she hoped someone would help her children when they needed it if she wasn’t around to do it at some point. She was the original “pass it up the line” person who helped others because that’s who she was.

I’ve never thought about how often I do it, because helping others is just a natural part of my being. I never considered my competitors in business or art to be my opponents or enemies, and I feel the same way about writing.

My philosophy is that the better job we all do in whatever field we’re in,
the more successful we all will be and when it's writing, that’s good for readers and the business. On top of all that, it makes me very happy to see others succeed, so I benefit too.

Cassondra: When you made the switch from painting to writing, did it feel as though you were giving up one dream to pursue another? Did you have any moments when you wondered if it was the right thing to do? If so, how did you make your decision?

Dianna: I loved painting, but I’d spent so many years away from home working, in everything from cold to suffocating heat, that my urge to write came at a good time for me. I’d been making up stories in my head, so when I reduced the amount of time I was climbing to paint and build, I started writing these stories down in between times I spent painting in my home studio.

But the writing really captured me. My husband kept telling me I couldn’t continue to paint huge walls and write books, because the schedule was killing me. I work every day, but my writing was demanding so much I couldn’t keep up the pace. So I finally made the decision to go full time into writing. It was a difficult decision because I’d spent my life building a business in art, but this is where I refer back to the question about helping others--back to what I le
arned from my mom.

I had so many friends in the sign business by that point that I was able to place all my clients in good hands and h
elp my friends at the same time. My husband still oversees two large sign maintenance contracts we have, but I’m rarely involved in that now.

Cassondra: You've shared how art competitions played a role in your development as a young artist. When did you first get the idea of sponsoring a national art contest, and what’s your purpose in doing that? And why the focus on high schools in particular?

I kept thinking I wanted to create an image of Feenix, our sweetheart gargoyle in the Belador series, and started sketching on it when it hit me that this would make a fun art contest.

I had the opportunity to enter art contests from 3rd grade on, and those played a part in building my confidence in a field everyone considered a waste of time. I can’t tell you how often you hear that you can’t make a living in that field – I proved them all wrong. *grin* I think confidence-building is especially important for young artists who might let naysayers talk them o
ut of pursuing a dream.

When I came up with the My Feenix Art Contest, I wanted everyone to be invited whether they hand -drew pictures, created on the computer or made stuffed animals, so the contest has three categories-- Flat Art
, 3-D and Digital-- for each of the two division--the High School Student division and the Adult division.

Cassondra: You’ve spoken before, here in the lair, about your dogged determination to remain true to whatever you’re passionate about. I’ve heard you say “A bad day painting was better than a good day doing anything else.” How does this art contest play into that, and how do you see it encouraging others to follow their passion?

Dianna: I do believe following your passion should be at the core of what you do if you want to be happy in life. I think just entering an art contest is a big step for many artists who are timid about submitting their art to a professional group.

The contest has no entry fee and all of the initial submissions are sent as jpgs. There’s a category for digital art, but even the hand-drawn and three-dimensional art is submitted as photos for the first round. We did this to make it as easy as possible for anyone to submit.

Sometimes just the act of doing one thing to move your craft forward is all it takes to get you thi
nking more seriously about your art--and that's true of writing too--of whatever your art is.

Cassondra: Our Bandit Buddies run the gamut from late teens to parents to grandmothers, and everything in between. What would you say to our visitors in the lair today about pursuing their dreams at any age, and how would you suggest they encourage others in their lives to do the same?

Dianna: That’s a great question, and I have a story about how important that is.

Years back, I attended a social event at the home of a female business associate. I commented on the beautiful still life and landscape paintings in her home by one particular artist whose name I couldn’t decipher.

Her mother, who had come to live with her that year, was from Puerto Rico and spoke no English, but the woman loved to watch Bob Ross’s Joy of Painting television shows where he gave art classes. Her mother was in her mid 80s when she picked up a paintbrush for the first time in her life and shocked everyone with her talent. It been a secret passion of hers forever, but she never had the opportunity to try. Now her family has these amazing paintings to remember her by.

A lot of people have t
hose secret yearnings.

I think we have to stop once in a while and ask the people closest to us, “Is there anything you’ve ever wanted to do that you haven’t and you’d like to do now?” Or just listen—pay attention-- when we hear that new or different sound in their voice when they’re telling us about something that has caught their attention.

Have an open mind about listening. That’s all it takes sometimes to encourage someone to pursue a dream.

*Bandits and Buddies shift to make room as Sven and Paulo set trays of snacks on the tables and bar*

If someone is an artist—or KNOWS an artist—who might like to enter the My Feenix Art Contest, how do they get more info?

You can
go to and find out everything you need to know. The instructions and entry forms are there on the site. Top prize in each adult category is $1000. Top prize for students is an iPad, plus money for school art departments and books for school libraries.

Help me spread the w
ord--and pass on the encouragement. It's never too early--or too late--to go for your dream.

Feenix first appeared in BLOOD TRINITY, first book in the Belador series, which was released last October. The second book in the series, ALTERANT is scheduled for release September 27th. You can read an excerpt of BLOOD TRINITY, see the blurb for ALTERANT, and meet the Beladors at

What about you Bandits and Buddies?

It’s not always a mom who plays the role of encourager. Has anyone ever encouraged you at a low moment? What did they say?

Have you gone for something that scared you, and been encouraged in doing so by either watching someone
else, or having someone tell you to go for it?

What have you gone for “against the odds,” or what are you going for right now?

Have you taken a moment to encourage someone else in the pursuit of an important dream or goal? Who was it? Your child? Brother or sister? Critique Partner? Friend?

Who has made a difference in your life with a touch, a card or phone call or a word when you most needed it?

Sven is passing another round of drinks, so eat, drink, and tell us how you've helped spread the encouragement, or been encouraged at just the right moment.

Oh...and tell us what drink Sven is mixing/pouring for you. *grin*

Dianna is giving away two signed copies of BLOOD TRINITY
and one of the coveted Belador t-shirts!