Friday, September 30, 2011

Stuff Happened

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

I'd planned to have this post be the Launch Party for my self-published novelette, The Sidhe Princess, but you know what they say about the best laid plans:


I'm sorry to say that STUFF did happen, and I missed my deadline. In this case some of the STUFF included a sojourn to the Big Easy and other destinations south of there across the Gulf of Mexico. But all along the way, Aunty had the Lair and it's inhabitants firmly in mind.

Aunty made several stops on her journey, the first being the Central American nation of Belize, where the DH and I investigated the Mayan ruins at Altun Ha.

Never fear, Aunty was assured by her guides Ed and Tracy that the world really is not going to end in December, 2012 as some claim. That's just as far as the Mayans bothered to calculate their calendar! Sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation to me, considering the ruins at Altun Ha date back a couple of centuries BC. Aunty doesn't feel the need to calculate HER calendar nor even the Lair's for more than the next 23 centuries.

A bit further south, Aunty found herself on the island of Roatan, which belongs to the country of Honduras. This long, narrow island was once the stronghold of pirates, but Aunty didn't see any scalawags she recognized (Ho! Romance Writers Revengers, where were you?) However, this scurvy knave claimed to be kin to our Golden Rooster.

As you can see, Aunty severely questioned the validity of his claim!

Also on Roatan, Aunty's lovely taxi driver, Mario showed her around his hometown of Coxon Bay. He even stopped at the local grocery store and helped Aunty procure an ice cold Diet Pepsi, the perfect pick-me-up on a hot and humid day!

Aunty thinks it's high time we recruited a Honduran cabana boy for the Lair. What do you think?

Back on the ship, Aunty headed for her last port of call in Cozumel, Mexico. But not before she finally located her missing reading glasses in a most unusual place...

And got a great idea for a whole new kind of shape-shifter story!

Back in our home port of New Orleans, Aunty made a quick stop at Cafe Du Monde to sample beignets and pick up a few recipes for Sven. Somehow, I doubt he will serve beignets on a regular basis considering the trails of powdered sugar they leave behind, but perhaps on special occasions...

So now you know Aunty's excuses for missing her deadline and NOT having her novelette up for sale in September as expected. But I promise we will have a SUPER LAUNCH PARTY for Sidhe Princess very soon!

Meanwhile, what do you think:

Is that Pirate Parrot related to the GR?

Should we recruit Mario as the Lair's newest cabana boy?

And would you read a paranormal romance in which the hero or heroine shape-shifted into a manta ray?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Elegant Menace

by Susan Sey

I was listening to NPR the other day. Yeah, I listen to NPR in the car. I'm geeky like that.

Anyway, they were discussing an independent film about the studio musicians of the 50s & 60s, & how there was this prevalent attitude among serious musicians of the time that rock & roll wasn't 'real' music. Many of the established studio musicians of the time simply refused to play it.

Enter the carpet baggers. The profiteers. The soulless capitalists who'll do anything for money.

Enter the hungry studio musician wannabes who said, "Hey, I'll play that." And they did.

One particular set of musicians, the Wrecking Crew, took that ball & ran with it, becoming the power players of the next two to three decades. They played behind everybody from the Beach Boys to Elvis, Sinatra to Sam Cooke.

Charlie Watts, the drummer from the Rolling Stones, was interviewed for this film, & was asked to list his his top ten all-time favorite rock drummers. He was startled to find that five of them were Hal Blaine of the Wrecking Crew.

I feel this way about Alan Rickman.

I sat down with a writer friend the other day & our conversation turned (as it tends to do) to villains we love. I started waxing eloquent about how Alan Rickman utterly saved the movie Robin Hood. How he dripped well-heeled danger in Die Hard. How he oozed disdain so gorgeously as Professor Snape.

I realized in that moment that when it comes to villains, I have a favorite flavor.

Elegant menace.

This is what I like. This makes me happy. I like my bad guys smart, slick, well-funded & exquisitely well-spoken. I like them cool & calculating. I like brains with a side dish of evil.

Who knew?

So what about you? When it comes to bad guys, do you have a favorite flavor? Tell us about the villains you love!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Double Bandit Booty!!

Today I'm posting winners from two of the guests I've interviewed lately.

The winner of a signed copy of MAGICAL LOVER by Karilyn Bently is Sheree!! Congratulations Sheree!!

The winner of a signed copy of LIVER LET DIE by Liz Lipperman is hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna!! Congratulations Dianna!!

Please email me your snail mail addresses to swwelsh2001 AT  Yahoo DOT com (yes there are 2 w's in that addy) and I'll see Karilyn and Liz get the information ASAP!

Winner of Kathleen Eagle's book

The winner of the book from Kathleen Eagle is megganconnors. Please e-mail me at trishmilburn AT yahoo DOT com with the name of the book you'd like and your mailing information.

Surprise! Liz Lipperman's Debuting today!!

interview with Suzanne

Suz: Romance Bandits, all of our Bandit Buddies and readers, I have a surprise guest for y'all. Today I'm chatting with my friend Liz Lipperman. Liz is one of the people who first made me feel welcome in my DARA (Dallas Area Romance Authors) chapter when I first moved to Dallas. Now I get to return the favor by hosting her for the release of her brand new debut, first-ever published book, LIVER LET DIE: A CLUELESS COOK MYSTERY available Oct 4th!

Liz, please pull up a barstool and we'll have the Lair's chief cabana boy, Paolo bring us a pitcher of Margaritas.

Liz: Yum! Margaritas are my favorite. No salt, please. And what's more fun than drinking it with you Suz, and the fabulous line-up of Romance Bandits and their readers? And I can only imagine what Paolo looks like! Thanks to all of you for inviting me here today.

Suz: So Liz, I love the story on how you came to write a cozy mystery series. Can you tell our readers what events led up to you writing LIVER LET DIE?

Liz: First of all, I didn't even know I was a mystery writer until my agent told me. Duh! I had been chasing the romance market for many, many years and never ever finaled in a contest. Guess my dead bodies and big explosions didn't go over with the romance judges.

Anyway, once I realized she was right, I wrote a paranormal mystery, the first in a proposed series. It's about a trash-talking ghost who helps her sisters solve her murder. My agent sent it to a new editor at Berkley Prime Crime who'd just moved from an inspirational publishing house. I thought it would be a resounding "no" since there is a lot of bad language, sex, and gruesome murder scenes.

Turns out you can never tell about people. Not only did she love the story, she read it twice and quoted some of my ghost's best lines. BUT (don't you hate those?) she couldn't buy it since she was acquiring cozies, and she'd have to cut out the best parts. She wanted to know if I could write a cozy, specifically a "foodie." That's when I rushed out to the bookstores and grabbed up a bunch of them to read.

What I found was that most of the foodie cozies were about gourmet food, and there was no way I could pull that one off. I am one of 9 children. We ate casseroles, and to this day, I hate fancy food. So, I said no, I couldn't write it. Fortunately, my agent knows me better than I do, because she said yes, I could and to sleep on it.

I woke up the next morning with this great plot in my head about a wannabe sports reporter who gets dumped in Dallas and ends up in a small town writing personals. When she is offered the culinary column temporarily for a woman who is out with a broken hip, she jumps on it, seeing it as a way to mover closer to her dream job. The problem is, she was raised with four brothers, and although she can throw a great touchdown pass, she can't cook a lick, surviving on fried bologna sandwiches, fast food and Hostess Ho Hos. Three chapters and a synopsis later, I had a three book deal.

Suz: I love that story! LIVER LET DIE is set in a small town in Texas. How did you get the small-town feel for the story? Is there one key element about small towns that you think plays into the way a cozy mystery fits into it?

Liz: You've hit on one of the big requirements for a cozy, Suz. They're all set in small towns with a protagonist who just happens to fall in the middle of a murder. There are usually no cops or private eyes solving the mystery. As for the small town, originally I wrote it with a specific town in Texas. However, I changed it later because a fictional town offered way more options-that and the fact that I called the cops Dumb and Dumber.

Here's an excerpt from LIVER LET DIE:

Jordan dropped her review on Dwayne Egan’s desk and stepped back to await her fate. She’d spent the entire morning researching foie gras on the Internet and had come away outraged and ready to make a stand on the issue. 

That was before Egan grabbed the report and lowered his eyes to read, and all her bravado dissipated. Shifting nervously and second-guessing herself, she tapped out the melody of a rock song along the side of her slacks with her fingers.

Too late to change her mind as Egan motioned for her to sit.

She eased into the chair behind her, eyes fixed on the editor while he finished the first page and flipped to the second. Her nerves were like aliens ready to burst through her skin.

“You actually ate this?” he asked, finally glancing at her over the top of his silver-rimmed reading glasses.

“Yes and no,” she replied. “Mostly, no.”

Egan had already turned back to the report, re-reading the first page. “And this is how they get the duck liver?”

Her eyes lit up. Maybe he wouldn’t scream at her after all. “Yes sir. They force-feed the animals to fatten them up.” She paused, remembering how the pictures had sickened her, how seeing the tubes shoved down their throats had nearly made her gag. “The ducks are kept in tight cages so they can’t exercise or even move around.”

“Geez! And they’re serving this right here in Ranchero?”

“Yes,” she answered quickly. “At a price that would water your eyes.” She stopped, not sure she wanted to remind him how much she’d charged on the company card.

Egan dropped the report on his desk and leaned back in the chair, hands behind his head, making his ears protrude even more. “This is going to ruffle a few feathers at Longhorn Prime Rib.” He grinned, obviously pleased with his play on words.

Jordan shifted in the chair. “I was totally complimentary about the restaurant in general.” She thought about the Chocolate Decadence Cake that had doubled as breakfast that morning. “The desserts were phenomenal and the service – fantastic.”

Egan studied her face, his head tilted as if in deep thought. “I had you pegged for a simple meat and potatoes girl. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why you’d order this when you’re obviously so outraged at how they get it.”

Here it is! This was where she’d have to admit she was clueless when it came to fancy food. This was where he’d realize what a big mistake he’d made giving her the job. “The waiter recommended it. Said it was imported from Canada. Since I knew it was too expensive to ever try on my own, I went with it.”

“I still find it hard to believe you’d even order the dish, knowing how you feel about it.”

“I thought it was chicken,” she blurted, looking away for a moment, imagining the pink slip falling from this week’s pay envelope.

Egan threw back his head and laughed. And continued to laugh until Jordan finally gave in and smiled.

“So, let’s see,” he began when he was finally able to speak. “I have a culinary expert who has no idea what she orders at restaurants.” He slapped the desk. “That’s rich. Loretta would never see the humor in that, of course, nor would she be caught dead ordering anything but a thick, juicy steak.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “And just between you and me, she wouldn’t know foie gras from chicken piccata, either, even if it bit her on her overpaid butt.”

“I’m sorry, sir. Maybe you should give this job to someone else.”

His eyes bored into her. “Are you joking? This is going to grab the attention of every animal lover in Ranchero who probably has never even looked at Loretta’s column before.” He slid the papers across the desk. “Take this down to the copy room ASAP. I want it in tonight’s edition.”

Stunned, Jordan grabbed the report and headed for the door.

“Oh, and McAllister?”

She whirled around, expecting her little bubble of excitement to burst like a piñata at a birthday party with eight year old boys on a sugar high.

“From now on, you’ll do a bi-weekly column with recipes and food information. Fancy food like this. A couple of exposés would be great.” He rubbed his hands together. “If my gut is right, with the exception of the restaurant owner, the good citizens of this fine town are going to love you.”

“What about the Personals?”

He smiled. “Look at this as a freelance opportunity,” he said. “And the Personals as your day job. Now go.”

Jordan wondered how he could say that with a straight face, but she was too excited to care. She hurried out the door, surprised to see Jackie Frazier smiling. She’d obviously been eavesdropping. She imagined her, as Roseanne Roseannadanna saying, “It’s always something,” and she smiled back.

Who knew fatty duck liver could wipe the sarcasm off the secretary’s face and maybe even jump-start her career?

Suz: Your heroine, Jordan McAllister stumbles into more than a new career when she takes over the food critic position at the local paper. Can you give our readers a little hint about the trouble she gets into?

Liz: Her first assignment is to critique a steakhouse on the edge of town that has just reopened after being closed for six months when one of the owners died in a botched robbery. Since Jordan only eats hamburger meat well done, she asks her hunky waiter what on the menu isn't red meat, not seeing chicken anywhere. He tells her the foie gras must be good because the guy across the restaurant ordered the pricey dish every week. After one look at the squashy fatty duck liver, she nearly gags, and the entire entrée ends up in a borrowed purse. Two days later, the hunky waiter is found dead outside her apartment with her name and number in his pocket. And that's when it all starts.

Suz: Alex Moreland is the hero of LIVER LET DIE, how does he fit into the story?

Liz: Did I mention I am a romance writer at heart? Everything I write has a little romance in it. I knew I needed a love interest, but she's just new in the town, and the only friends she has are residents of her apartment. Most cozies are written in first person, but I am more comfortable with 3rd person and asked the editor if she had any problems with that or with multiple POVs. She said no. Later she had me take out a couple of short scenes written in a "he" point of view as the killer, but she liked that we were in Alex's head at times. She felt like the deleted scenes weren't necessary since we found out the info later in Jordan's POV. She was right. Anyway, Alex thinks Jordan is the killer, and she thinks he's been ransacking her apartment.

Suz: In cozy mysteries there are always some whacky secondary characters. Do you have any waiting to help or hinder Jordan and Alex?

Liz: I think the secondary characters are what convinced Berkley to buy the series. The editor loved the wacky residents of Empire Apartments who took Jordan under their wings that first day when she arrived broken and unsure of herself. There's a retired sixtyish cop with his seventyish psychic "lady friend", two gay guys who own the apartments, one of whom is my favorite character of all times to write, and a hippyish fifty year old who has been married four times and does all the cooking for the gang.

Suz: What's next for your series?

Liz: BEEF STOLEN-OFF will release in July, 2012. It's about modern day cattle rustling and has the same cast of characters with a fresh batch of suspects. Here's the down and dirty short blurb.
On an assignment to write a column about the famed Cattleman's Ball in Fort Worth, Texas, Jordan is the guest of wealthy ranch owner, Lucas Santana, who sees her review as a way to increase the sagging beef sales in the county. He's even hand-picked her escort, his right hand man, Rusty Morales, who looks like he just stepped off the cover of GQ, Cowboy Edition. But instead of dancing the night away, Jordan ends up in the emergency room where her date is DOA.

Currently, I am writing the third book of the series, MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT, where I have sent Jordan and her friends on a Caribbean Cruise to judge a cooking competition. (think Bravo's Chopped.)

One last thing before I have to shut up-beginning October 4th through the 31st, you can enter the LLD contest where the prize is a Pandigital Kitchen Technology Center worth $399. I'm also putting up my straight mystery, MORTAL DECEPTION, on Amazon next week as a marketing tool for LLD, kind of a try-me-you-might-like-me thing. For the entire month of October, it will download for $.99. Check out my website for details on both.

Okay, I've done all the talking. Now, it's your turn. Since I had to walk into B & N and pick several books to tutor me about cozies with no knowledge of cozy writers, I made an interesting observation about myself. I made my choices after reading the first line. The cover may catch my eye initially, but ultimately, it has to grab me with the opening line. What about you? What teases you into buying a book from a debut author or one you're not familiar with? The cover? Blurb? Chatting with them on a blog? All of the above? None of the Above?

I have one copy of LIVER LET DIE to give away, thanks to Berkley. To enter, leave a comment with a valid email address. This is open to US residents (publisher's request.) Suz will pick the winner. Before I leave, I want to thank Suz and the Romance Bandits again for having me here today. Answering these questions has been fun.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Heroes on Horseback: My Lifelong Love Affair

I'm very happy to host the fabulous Kathleen Eagle today. She's talking about the wonderful world of horses, cowboys and the American West. Take it away, Kathleen.

Hello, Bandits!

I have a new book for you. And if you bear with me for a bit of book talk, maybe bare your soul a bit in a comment, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a chance to win one of the earlier books in my current series.

ONE BRAVE COWBOY (on sale 9/20 from Harlequin Silhouette) introduces another competitor for Mustang Sally’s Wild Horse Training Competition, a thread I’ve carried through four of the six books connected with my fictitious Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota.

His name is Cougar, and he served in the Army with Mary Tutan (ONCE A FATHER). He’s a wounded warrior, but his worst scars are not visible. Newly released from a VA hospital, this Indian cowboy desperately needs to come to terms with his losses at home and on the battlefield. He came home from his first tour in the Middle East to find his girlfriend—the woman he’d planned to marry—with another man. During his second tour he was involved in an incident in which his best friend and several civilians were killed, and he blames himself. His hope for saving his sanity--the horses his brother was keeping for him--were sold during his absence. His entry into Mustang Sally’s Wild Horse Training Competition is the means he’s using to find his way among the living after pulling himself back from the brink of suicide.

Then he meets Celia Banyon and her young son, who was injured in an accident and whose worst scars are also not visible.

I’ve written lots of stories featuring Indian cowboys. To begin with, I’m married to one. We met during the summer I took off from working in the college library and headed west in search of adventure. I was a summer volunteer on a Dakota (North and South) reservation. I’d always been interested in American Indian culture, always loved Western movies, and always always loved horses. I’m not a natural athlete by any means, but I used part of my summer earnings to pay for riding lessons when I was in college. Horses are majestic and magical, sensitive and strong. From the moment I met the man who was to become my husband—a man whose world was quite different from mine—we had two key things in common. We loved books and horses. And I just love the smell of horse on a man.

My husband has a way with horses, and he’s tamed his share of them over the years. He speaks their language. Because horses are prey animals, they are extremely sensitive. They seem to connect with people who are wounded or hurting. I’ve known many people—particularly women—who find solace in the act of grooming a horse. Horse therapy has come into its own in recent years. Prisoners, troubled teens, abused women, special needs children—so many people turn to horses for renewal and healing. This is a theme that arises time after time in my Double D Wild Horse Sanctuary series. It’s a theme that complements the love story beautifully.

Let’s talk books, writing, or whatever else comes to mind. Have you ever had a moment when you connected in some mystical way with an animal, some kind of communication that surpasses human expectations?

One commenter will win her/his choice of one of these four books from Kathleen's backlist.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bandit Booty from Cassondra, Dianna Love and Feenix!

I apologize for the delay in letting y'all know my winners for this month--I posted this the day after Dianna was here, but apparently blogger ate the post, and I just now clued in with a "where are my winners?" sort of squinty face as I thought about it.

So...trying again, to give away some Bandit Booty..

The winner of the $5 Bath & Body Works gift card from my "Steamy Hot Soak" blog is...


And the winner of ALTERANT, Book 2 in the Belador series, from the "Real friends help friends...Babysit?" blog with guests Dianna Love and Feenix is......


Y'all send an email to our Bandits email listed on the sidebar, with your snail mail address, and I'll get your prizes out to you, pronto!

And thanks for reading and commenting!


The winner of a copy of REDEEMING THE ROGUE is


If you can go to and send me your contact information, I'll get a copy in the mail ASAP.

Thanks for visiting the blog!

On a Bender

by Nancy and Jeanne

N: Jeanne and I both enjoy books that don't fit squarely into a niche, romances or books with strong romantic elements that bend the genre lines. So today we're chatting about those.

J: You know, that always sounds hinky. In a Bend-it-like-Beckham kind of way. (Speaking of Genre Bending)

N: Bwhahaha! I didn't start out reading as much romance as I do now. I discovered science fiction (and comic books) and mystery first. I read YA romances without realizing that's what they were, courtesy of my local library and the Scholastic Book Club, but I didn't read romance as an adult. I did read historical fiction with romance in it, but I didn't pay much attention when the romance genre exploded in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I read a handful of those early sagas, but I was in school, preoccupied with trying to decide where my life was going. I stuck to the genres I'd come to know better.

J: Nancy, you and I kind of followed the same path on this. I too read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, as well as a lot of historical fiction. I also read a lot of biographies when I was younger.

N: Once I started reading romance, however, I was hooked. Even when reading other genres, I now much prefer books that have a strong romantic plot line to those that don't, although I'll settle for a pretty low threshold of romance in a thriller. A couple of years back, I read a debut military science fiction novel with an interesting premise. It was well done but didn't draw me in, and I realized that was because there was no romance in it. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. So I didn't read the next book.

The series is now in hardcover, so it clearly has many avid readers. I just don't happen to be among them.

N: The current market is doing a lot to make me happy. Romance is slowly, sometimes grudgingly, allowing elements from other genres, like action, magic, and suspense, to assume prominent roles. At the same time, romance is establishing a strong presence in science fiction, fantasy and in mystery, bending the genre lines to a degree that wouldn't have been possible several years ago. I love historical and contemporary romances that are pure romance--nothing extra added in, but I also love the extra elements crossing genres. So today's blog is about the line benders.

A couple of books I recently put me in mind of this change. One was Meljean Brook's The Iron Duke, which I read because Barbara Vey recommended it when I interviewed her at Dragon*Con. It's steampunk, with a dark, gritty, distinct world. The worldbuilding and the dark tone are worthy of science fiction, but the romance is the core of the story. The setting seems to be around the turn of the last century, considering the references to King Edward.

The title character saved England from invaders known as The Horde. The heroine is a police inspector on the trail of a killer who dumped a body onto the hero's house. He joins her because, well, it's personal now, doubly so when he learns he knew and respected the victim who drew her to his home. Pursuing the killer drags them into a conspiracy to kill the thousands of English men and women, including the two of them, who carry Horde technology they can't live without.

Conspiracy to commit mass murder is more common in thrillers than in romance. There's the worldbuilding, as I said, and the dark, gritty tone. Oh, and zombies, who technically belong to horror but have begun cropping up in romance.

J: That's another mindbender, isn't it? I mean zombies? In Romance? Seriously? But I've been seeing it too. Since you mentioned it to me, I picked up Iron Duke. haven't had a chance to read it yet though.

N: I know you'll enjoy it. The other book was Bloodlands, by Christine Cody, who also writes the Vampire Babylon series as Chris Marie Green. Now, I'm not a huge fan of vampire books, particularly not of vampire heroes. But I am a big fan of post-apocalyptic stories, and this is a post-apocalyptic vampire romance Western. Yes, really. I debated with myself in the store for some time, fearing this could be truly terrible, but I couldn't resist that combination of elements.

While I found the first quarter a bit slow, it was good enough that I felt it was going to get better. So I kept reading. Once the bad guy appeared, things picked up quickly. The hero is a vampire searching for his lost (human) love in the wreck of civilization. People kill monsters--vampires, shifters, and others--so he doesn't want anyone to know what he is. He has become very good at passing for human. The heroine is part of an isolated community with secrets to keep.

Naturally, his quest and her secrets collide in the midst of the final confrontation against the villain who wants to wipe out the heroine's community. Despite the paranormal elements and the setting, this book reads like a romance. But it's published by ROC--perhaps because HEA isn't guaranteed at the end of the book, and romance requires that.

J: This is another one I'm going to have to read. I mean vampire westerns? Really? But this sounds quite good.

N: I liked it a lot. I'd like to see some continuing couples in romance, romantic arcs that don't tie up with HEA at the end of the book. The popularity of Eve Dallas and Roarke among romance readers implies that's do-able, but it isn't happening so far. Speaking of genre benders, those books are, first and foremost, serial killer police procedurals. The romantic arc, though, is much more intense than is usual in the mystery/suspense genre. It's a line bender. I'm not featuring it here, though, because with the latest book just out, I don't want us to spoil New York to Dallas for anyone who hasn't read it yet.

J: I'd love to see more of this too, Nancy. Her series is also a futuristic, and Nora is known to frequently bring other paranormal elements, like witchcraft and psychic abilities.

N: You know I loved Nora's Sign of Seven trilogy, and that actually had horror elements in it. I don't usually read horror. Jessica Andersen's Nightkeepers are romance with strong, strong fantasy elements. Jon Land's Caitlin Strong series are thrillers with a strong romance element. C. S. Harris's Sebastian St. Cyr novels are mysteries, but Sebastian's love life plays a prominent role.

I'm also seeing a lot of urban fantasy with romance-like plots but romantic arcs that continue beyond the end of the first book. Laura Anne Gilman's Retrievers are a prime example. Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels books (starting with Magic Bites) have become increasingly romantic as the series continued, with the romantic arc being a driving element in the last couple of books.

J: As you know, I love the Retriever Series as well. Katherine Kurtz and Deborah Turner Harris's Adept series (although there hasn't been a book out in that series for several years) has quite the long arc. The ongoing/developing romance in The Adept is subtle, but quite good. The longer arc on the romance seems to actually be more intense in some ways than in a one-book.

N: I just started M. J. Scott's Shadow Kin, which is technically urban fantasy but starts out just like a romance. The heroine is an assassin with paranormal abilities who comes to kill the hero. He has abilities of his own and turns the tables. I'm assuming this couple will stick together in future books, but we'll see. I haven't finished it. The author's website describes a different couple for the next book, so maybe this one ends with HEA. The book is unusual, at least in my experience, in that both characters are written in first person.

N: Anne Aguirre's RITA-nominated Sirantha Jax series (first one is Grimspace) are also prime examples. There's a science fiction primary plot, but the romance between Jax and March is iKathern ntense and often painful. With one more book to go, I'm hoping for a big payoff there.

J: As you know, I love Anne Aguirre's novels. Grimspace was superb. And since you sent it to me, I'm guessing that's why I liked it so much!

So, we'd love to know, what are you reading now? Do you like your romances straight, with no paranormal or other elements? Or do you like a bit of boom or magic or other paranormal elements with your romance?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Cutest Guys of the New TV Season

By Kate

Here in southern California, the average high temperature in August is 85 degrees. In September, it’s 83, and at night it gets down into the mid-sixties. We can’t exactly say “Fall is in the air.” No, here in the motion picture capital of the world, we say “Fall is on the air.” The change of seasons in sunny southern California happens on TV.

It takes a lot to tempt me away from my books. And by “a lot,” I mean “cute guys.” And if there are a lot of cute guys on the show, I’m even more tempted! Here is my take on the Top 10 TV Shows of Fall 2011, based entirely on the cute factor of the male actors on the show:

Hawaii Five-0

Alex O’Loughlin in swim trunks. ‘Nuff said.

While “researching” this article (sighhhhhhhh……), I discovered that there’s a Castle Convention in Los Angeles on November 12. They have a website and everything: Castle Convention. Alas, Nathan Fillion won’t be there!

Blue Bloods
Tom Selleck still curls my toes! This is a man who has aged very well.

Mark Harmon, another example of a man who got better with age.

Covert Affairs
A non-traditional hottie, Christopher Gorham.

White Collar
Matt Bomer. Ohhhhhh, Bomer!
I love you so much,
I want to write a poemer.

Dancing with the Stars
Who cares about the celebrities when we can watch Maksim dance? The man can moooove!

The next three shows are brand new. I haven’t seen them, but I’m tempted to watch because the cute guy factor is off the charts!

A Gifted Man
Doesn’t Patrick Wilson look a *lot* like Paul Newman? I’m a sucker for blue eyes!

David Guintoli looks man enough for the job of capturing or slaying storybook creatures.

Person of Interest
Jim Caviezel in a slick weekly thriller, produced by J.J. Abrams? I’m there!

Best show of the summer: Suits
Gabriel Macht is an honorable lawyer with a slickster veneer. Love him!

Who do you think are the hottest guys on TV today? Let’s play a game. Tell us what book you're reading right now, and what actor you picture in the role of hero. I’m reading Maya Banks’ THE DARKEST HOUR and I picture … mmm … decisions, decisions ... I picture Alex O’Loughlin in the role of the hero, Ethan. (Oh heck, I picture Alex O’Loughlin in almost everything!) Okay, your turn!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Days of the Week

by KJ Howe

Have you ever wondered where the names came from for the days of the week? I find the origins of these accepted standards intriguing, and I hope you will as well. Who decided on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as the names of our 24-hour days of the week--and why?

The names of the days of the week from the Roman period have been both named after the seven planets of astronomy and numbered, with Sunday as the beginning. In Slavic languages, a numbering system was adopted, but it began with Monday. An even older tradition of names in Ancient Indian Astrology could arguably be the origin of all these naming systems. Still, these systems have been accepted in countless languages, with a few exceptions resulting from a number of religious and secular considerations.

In English, we call our days of the week after Saxon gods, apart from Saturday. The French call their days of the week after Roman gods. But the Saxon and Roman gods who look after the same day are the same type of god. The table below shows the various names used in the different languages. The Roman months were the same as ours, but our weeks were not. The Romans had eight days in their week, with a market day instead of a weekend, so they didn't use these names. I'm sure many of us wish we had an eighth day in our week. If so, what would you name it? How would you spend the time? What is your favorite day of the week and why? The best answer to these questions will win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate.



Title of God





The Moon





God of War





The Cunning God





Thunder God





Goddess of Love





God of Time





The Sun



Never Quit Learning!

by Donna MacMeans

I was on the University of Cincinnati campus this weekend to see my two star general (retired) brother receive an award from his alma mater for achieving the highest rank of any UC ROTC graduate. That's him in black accepting a plaque (below) ...guess I needed a zoom attachment on my ipad (grin - you should see the one of him officiating the coin toss at the football game that followed this presentation - talk about tiny!)

Classes start midweek on campus so besides the football game, there was an excitement in the air of moving in, new beginnings, and new challenges.

I loved my college years for the new experiences. A lot of growing up occurred in that environment. One of the reasons I chose
journalism as a major at Ohio State University, was that the program encouraged their students to take a wide variety of courses. After all, you never knew what sort of story you'd be asked to report about. Good to have a broad base of knowledge to draw upon.

Alas, I didn't graduate in journalism, though. Life interfered...and marriage...and moving - you know how it I ended up graduating in Accounting. However, the need to keep learning, to maintain a broad base of knowledge, never went away. Life seems to continually teach us new lessons - especially once children come along (grin) - but even if they don't, we travel, we learn to exist in new environments, we make new friends that challenge us with new skills.

Writing is especially challenging in this regard. Not only do we learn alot about ourselves in terms of sacrifice to create and write a story, but we have to learn about other things in the name of "worldbuilding" as well. It's called research. Such a dry academic name for an exciting challenging passion (grin). I once told a reader that I'd be able to generate books much faster if just once I actually knew what I was writing about. Maybe that's part of the joy of writing, doing the research and learning new things.

For Redeeming the Rogue (sorry, love that cover and so had to post it again - grin), I had to learn about the politics and specifics behind the assassination of President Garfield, the layout of Washington DC in 1881 when it was comprised of a great deal of swampland, the process and utensils of an eleven course meal, something about tramp steamers of the nineteen century, coffins, and the Irish movement for Home Rule.

For Casanova Code, my next book which I believe is to be released June 2012, I studied secret codes and how to break them, Victorian personal ads, Victorian pubs, rifles used by the army in 1890, rifle scopes, and Japanese erotica. (Y'all know I like a sexy book - grin).

I'm currently learning about Scotch whisky, the Highlands, and the temperance movement. I'm still early in the book so I'm sure that list will grow.

What about you? Do you find the process of learning exciting, or a chore? What life lessons have you learned? What research would you like to do (wink, wink). Let's all go back to school for the day to explore learning. I'll give away a copy of Redeeming the Rogue to someone who leaves a comment so they can experience the benefit of my research. (If you already have Redeeming the Rogue - just let me know and I'll send you one of my research books that I no longer use).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Board Games - Quick 5

by Anna Sugden

The other night, we were discussing the fad of playing board games. It used to be that everywhere you went, from family visits to dinner parties with friends, the board games would come out and off everyone would go. [We won't mention the whole wives falling out with husbands, brothers and sisters not on speaking terms thing .]

Though many of us remember the days of Life, Monopoly or Scrabble, and Kerplunk, Mousetrap or Operation, there was also Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary and variations on the Charades theme.

Two of my favourites were Celebrity Taboo and PSI.

In Celebrity Taboo, you had to get people to guess which celebrity you were, but couldn't use certain key words eg how do you get people to guess you're Groucho Marx when you can't use words like cigar, mustache, brothers etc.

In PSI, again people had to guess which celebrity you were but this time it was by answering questions as if you were the celebrity. eg If you were a flower, what would you be?

So, for a bit of fun today, I thought we'd do a Board Games Quick 5.

1. Favourite board game

2. Most detested board game

3. Best and worst Trivial Pursuit category (Geography, Sports & Leisure, Entertainment, Art & Literature, Science & Nature, History)

4. If you were a flower, what would you be? If you were a drink, what would you be? If you were a type of shoe, what would you be?

5. Complete the following sentence: Imagine trying to get people to guess you were (insert name of celebrity) without mentioning the following words ... (insert words)

Here are my answers to start you off:

1. I used to love Mousetrap because it had all those different bits and contraptions!

2. Sorry, but it's Monopoly.

3. I was always terrible at Geography, but really good with Entertainment, Art & Literature or Science & Nature.

4. Flower: Red Gerbera daisy, Drink: Mojito, Shoe: something red, high-heeled, strappy, with zips, studs or a bow.

5. Imagine trying to get people to guess you were "Dolly Parton" without mentioned the following words ... boobs, country music, platinum blonde, high heels.

Over to you!