Our Pages

Friday, August 31, 2012

Blurring the Lines...


Can I tell you a secret? Come closer...closer...clo...hey! Back up a little, dude. Okay, there, that's good.

I like mix and match stories.

Yup. It's true. 

As much as I enjoy reading clearly defined, particular sub-genres of romance, I do love a good mash-up. Point in case, our own lovely Ava Stone writes with her partner, the talented Tammy Falkner, as Lydia Dare, creating a Regency world in which vampires, witches and werewolves exist. And they do a darn good job of it! 

Tammy also has a new line of Regency paranormals coming out under her own name- the first in the series is titled A Lady and Her Magic

(It's about the Fae! I CANNOT wait.)

So, in keeping with the tradition that I think nothing is considered holy ground anymore, one night Marquita Valentine and I, and a few other people, were joking around on Twitter and we came up with a great idea for a story. Well...maybe not great, I don't know, but it sure is a fun one. I certainly laughed myself stupid writing it. (Don't say a word.) Here's the first little bit, a part I wrote...

June, 1824
London, England

Lord Calford Whitley, the Earl of Gatling, leaned against the terrace balustrade and lit his cheroot. He inhaled deeply and contemplated the muted noise coming from behind the glass doors he had just exited.
Despite the dangers, his mother could not be persuaded to cancel her annual celebration of the close of Season in London. She insisted that hiring fifty armed guards should do the trick and had stubbornly forged ahead with her plans.
As if armed guards had saved Prinny from being savagely attacked by a zombie last month during his sojourn to Bath.  The fool had dismissed his guards from the bathing hall, deeming himself safe within the steam and vapors of the ancient springs.
Who knew zombies could swim?
The result was that Prinny was locked up in his suite—a slavering, flesh eating monster, and the country had fallen into a bit of chaos. The only reason Cal was still in London instead of helping secure his estate against attacks was that what was left of the House of Lords had called an emergency meeting. 
          Of course, most them were inside with his mother, fiddling away as Rome burned down around them.
Throwing down the cheroot and grinding it against the slate with his boot heel, Cal sighed. He really should be getting some sleep, in order to deal with the panic that was sure to infest the House on the morrow. Instead, he was here, dancing and—
A noise, off to his left, brought Cal’s head up sharply.
There it was again. A rustling in the bushes, a low moan. It could be one of the stable lads and his girl, or it could be…
A large zombie crashed out of the trees, not twenty yards from where Cal stood. Its matted hair and ragged clothes were revealed in the bright light of the full moon.
Dash it all.
How did it make it this close to the manor? There would some poor guards who would have to be hunted down and put out of their misery—but that was later. Now, he needed to stop this thing before it forced its way into the house and set upon the unsuspecting revelers.
Had to think of the animated corpse as an it. Couldn't contemplate that it used to be a human, one who had once loved and laughed, and probably never suspected he'd someday be wandering around looking for someone to chew on.
Cal cursed as he fumbled for the knife in his boot and the zombie turned toward him, its milky eyes searching the terrace. It spotted him and groaned, the hungry sound sending a chill racing up Cal’s spine. He had been a fool to let his mother persuade him not to wear his brace of pistols to the ball.
The monster’s shambling walk became quicker and disconcertingly more agile, as it neared the terrace and scented Cal. It lumbered up the steps to where he waited, blocking the glass doors.
“C’mon, you nasty, crumbling git. Come and get it.”
Cal waved his knife slowly in the air, tilting it to catch the moonlight, and the zombie's attention. Better focused it on him, than on the easy prey inside. He may not be sufficiently armed but he wasn’t going down without a fight.
The zombie darted forward, spittle flying, as it stretched its arms out in a grotesque imitation of an embrace. Cal dodged to the side and ducked, circling around and thrusting his knife into the monster’s back. It let out a shriek of thwarted rage and whirled, almost yanking the knife from Cal’s grasp as he pulled it back out with a wet slurp. Blackened liquid coated the shine of the blade, thick and gooey. Cal grimaced, but didn’t wipe it off.
Everyone knew that if a zombie bit you, you were as good as dead, but he wasn’t taking any chances with its blood. It hadn’t been proven out that the blood was not infectious as well and he was not in the mood to experiment.
The zombie lunged forward again and this time Cal used his elbow to smash it in what could barely be called a face, following it up with a powerful stab to the zombie’s throat. Dark blood spurted out the side of its neck, spraying the glass door and pale yellow brick, but the monster didn’t notice.
It kept coming, darting forward with a snarl.
“Shit!” Cal scrambled back, attempting to stay out of reach. The damn thing just wouldn't, well, die, for lack of a better word. He tripped over something unseen behind him and went down. The knife flew out of his grasp and skittered across the terrace. 
He scooted back, knowing he wasn’t going to have enough time to gain his feet. Damn it all to Hell and back. This was not how he wanted to die. Alone, on Mother’s terrace, having his face eaten off by the undead.
The zombie howled and towered over him, what was left of its decomposing muscles bunching in what was sure to be the attack that would end his life. Cal was no coward but he squeezed his eyes shut. He did not want that face, with its milky, rotting eyes and sloughing flesh, to be the last thing he saw.
There was a loud boom, and Cal flinched as he was sprayed with bits of gelatinous goo and liquid. A chunk of something hit his cheek and slid down to land inside his cravat.
Silence rang in his ears. No more moaning or howling. Only the whisper of cloth against stone, and then—
“Well, well, what do we have here?”
Cal’s eyes popped open at the soft, amused feminine drawl.
The hem of a lace trimmed ball gown brushed his bloody boots, and the corpse of the zombie that lay at his feet. His gaze traveled upward, over the slight swell of hips, the shapely bosom, the arms that cradled a large dueling pistol as gently as they would a babe.
A pistol that appeared familiar. In fact, it looked to be one of the two that hung over his late father’s desk, in the library.
Cal’s eyes snapped to the lady’s face, taking in the cupid’s bow mouth that was struggling not to laugh and the dancing, devil-blue eyes. She cocked her head and arched one arrogant brow, shaking back a wealth of honey blond hair.
“I took care of your little zombie problem, Lord Kick-Arse. The least you could do is thank me.”
Oh, he wanted to thank her, all right. All night long and right into next week.

What do you think? CLEARLY a shoo-in for a RITA. (Marquita came up with the hero's rocking nickname, heehee...) We even have our own Twitter hashtag- #RegencyZombies ;) Is anyone else doing Zombies in 19th century England? DIBS!!! Hahaha...

So what are your favorite sub-genres of romance? (Ex: paranormal, contemporary, historical, etc.) Do you like vampires in your historicals or time-traveling in your romantic suspense? Or do you just like to keep everything clean and in its own proscribed place?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just the facts, ma'am.

Hi there. 
Long time no blog. 
I’d like to say I’ve been off doing amazing things like touring the Vatican or Egypt’s pyramids or hiking the Serengeti.

I’ve been teaching middle-schoolers. 
Do you see that glint in her pretty brown eyes? Wickedness on the loose.

If you don’t have one of these at home, you may not realize they’re as dangerous as any predatory cat, but I assure you, this crowd will eat your heart.  
Predatory with a capital KITTY.

Anyway, as a fact loving fool, where better to spread my frivolous information than to hungry little minds? Not that I gave them anything useful, but I started each morning with a fun fact. We’d gossip and giggle over it until the homeroom bell rang and it was time to learn something for real.

Hmm, I see some wide eyes in the crowd as those of you who follow me on Twitter know I find some, uh, interesting facts. Not to worry—I kept them all kosher.
The facts, not the kids. 
Definitely not kosher.

Some of their favorites were:

~Before toilet paper was invented, French royalty wiped their bottoms with fine linen. Not sure why, but this tickled the kids. Probably because it gave them the opportunity to giggle about butts.

~A polar bear's skin is black and its fur is actually clear, not white. Also all polar bears are left handed. Yes, they asked me if I was left-handed. No, I am not. 

And I've been culled from the Sleuth (group of bears) because of it.
~An airplane mechanic invented the Slinky while he was playing with engine parts and realized the possible secondary use for the springs.

~Real diamonds can be made from peanut butter.  Errrrr (screeching tires, ya'll), back up.

Someone fetch me the Jif!

~The average four year-old child asks over four hundred questions a day. Totally unrelated, children laugh 400 times per day, while adults laugh on average 15 times. Couldn’t possibly be because they’re laughing at the psychoses those 400 questions put on their mother. 

If I hold this throbbing vein, my head won't explode. Right? RIGHT?!

~The word 'News' is actually an acronym standing for the 4 cardinal compass points - North, East, West, and South!

~In Cleveland, Ohio it is illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.

Pardon me, Eagle Eye, have you any cheese?

Yep. Fascinating stuff, huh? These are the lessons I taught your kids. Who needs the three R’s when I’m teaching history, zoology, diamond mining and domesticity?

Got any useless information to share?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

School Lunch Nostalgia

My kids are teenagers now--and thus entirely too cool to pack a lunch and take it to school.  But for years I got up every morning and packed their lunches.  Mostly because they are picky eaters--but also because the school lunch menu was truly horrid around here at one time.  I mean, who says nachos and cheese is a healthy main course option?

Luckily--since it's not cool to pack any longer--things have changed a little.  The schools still offer pepperoni pizza and hot dogs every danged week.  Sigh.  But they've ditched the nachos and added some better choices such as yogurt and fruit, quiche and chef salad.  Most of it still comes from a can or bag, though, and that's what makes me nostalgic.

Am I the only one who remembers when lunch ladies actually cooked?  I'm not that old.  But I remember our stomachs growling at the good smells wafting down the hall as the morning wore on.  I remember meat loaf that was mixed by hand and not pulled from the freezer.  The chicken might have been the cheap cuts, but it was seasoned and roasted right there.  I'm guessing the whipped potatoes might have come from a box, but the biscuit dough was from scratch and my favorite lunch was when they wrapped it around roast beef, baked it and poured gravy over the whole thing.  :-)

I know that the same set up is impossible in these days of budget cuts and in the face of so many other school concerns, but indulge me as I exercise my imagination.  Wouldn't it be great if the school lunch rooms were fully staffed with plenty of time and money?  I can see a cafe-topia where the nutritionist has dumped the pizza and hot dogs and everyone regards it as a challenge to come up with fresh, wholesome ways to tempt even the picky eaters.

What about you?  Do you yawn your way through multiple PB&J mornings?  Do your kids eat nachos for lunch?  Did your cafeteria workers cook for you, back in the day?  What was your favorite lunch?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Simple Pleasures - The Perfect Summer Night

This past month on my personal blog I have been focusing on simple pleasures in life. The first week was star-gazing, the second popcorn, and this week my simple pleasure is without doubt, magical summer evenings.

As I write this, I am ensconced on my screened-in back deck, listening to the ancient rhythm of the southern orchestra: crickets, frogs, cicadas, ducks, and just about any other night creature with a voice or a pair of fine-tuned legs. Christmas lights and the glow of my computer are the only brightness—beyond the screen is an inky void stretching to infinity.

I love the whisper soft hint of wind, the sultry southern humidity, and the perfectly comfortable temps that call for little more than a tank top and pajama bottoms. The lack of cars or city sounds is a sort of balm to this country-girl’s soul. I love living out in the boonies, where the night is mine and mine alone as the world seems to sleep around me.

Nights like these are free and plentiful, luring me outside at least a few times a week. They remind me of times gone by—of the times I write about with wistful abandon. When no cars or planes or horns or radios cluttered the earth, and quiet could be had more often than not. Yes, I know—I would never willingly give up any of those things, lol, but that is why my sweet summer nights are so special.

I think often of how lucky I am to be able to experience this sort of solitude and peace. It energizes and relaxes all at once, both filling my heart and draining my worries and anxieties. Mostly, anyway – even the most peaceful of evenings can’t banish a scary deadline ;) And with that, my friends, it's back to work with me.  At least for a while longer, I'll have the very best office in the world :)

So tell me—what are your favorite simple pleasures?

Monday, August 27, 2012


This is not a word that has applied to my family in quite sometime. As the family grows and becomes involved in outside interests the more everyone is going in separate directions.  Sometimes it is exhausting to look at our schedules on one calendar. Busy lives usually equal very little togetherness as a family and before you know it the kids are grown, go off to college, marry and move half way around the country. Okay, that happened to me.  With the school year in session we are now down to one child in the house, of an age to drive, so he is somewhat independent of us.

Having so little togetherness makes you plan time together and this year the family flew to Portland, Oregon to visit my eldest daughter and her husband.  It took me weeks to find a time where we could all be together for a full week.  I was wondering if it would be accomplished and there are only six of us.  We did not even fly together. My middle child had to take care of last minute college things and took a later flight and because that was rescheduled, she was alone when she flew home too. How sad is that?

I was so set on being together as much as possible that I arranged for a van so all of us could be in one vehicle together during this great week filled with adventure.  This must have been the time to visit Portland because look at the line outside of Budget.  My husband is the one in the middle in shorts by the tall brown suitcase.  My son found a shady spot to wait.

And, you can't visit Portland without going to VooDoo Doughnuts. If you have never been there, you must go whenever you are in area.  They have the oddest and best doughnuts. I got the one shaped like a VooDoo doll, filled with red jelly and a pretzel that you can use to stick it. Not that I thought of anyone in particular when I stabbed my little pretzel into the doughnut doll.  How could I feel animosity toward anyone? I was on vacation :).

This trip was filled with fun adventures and experiences and I had to take the tour of the Portland Underground (I previously wrote a post about shanghiing).  This was not what I expected, at all. But, fascinating.  Portland was not always an upstanding community and in 1851 men outnumbered women 14 - 1 and the main drag through town housed saloons and bordellos.  One of the largest saloon was Erickson's who had an all female orchestra. We learned of the Madame who had her brothel on a boat and would go from one side of the river to the other.  And a prostitute would be called a "seamstress". Sailors after long voyages would "need a button sewn on" and "go find a seamstress" to take care of it (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).  I learned about the famous crimps and the ways they used to get sailors onto ships - "shanghiing", which usually involved lots and lots of alcoho). The stories I heard about Portland in the 1800s had my mind spinning with story ideas.  I just hope I can read all the notes I took while walking and writing.

And speaking of alcohol, our visit to Portland also happened to fall during the Oregon Brewers Festival.  I am not a beer drinker, but I sampled a few and have the souvenier mug to prove it.  This was more of an outing for my husband and children (except the youngest of course).  But, there was free root beer for the underage and designated drivers, plus all kinds of food, so he wasn't overly bored.  See how thrilled he is (the one in the white shirt).

And, one cannot got to Portland without going to Powell's bookstore.  I won't mention what I spent in the history section, but this is a very dangerous store for me to be in. Very, very dangerous.  After making my purchases, they boxed the books up and they arrived home about 2 days after I did.  They are still stacked by my desk ready to be read.

But, I would have to say there were three highlights of the trip, besides the togetherness with my family. The first was a trip to Cannon Beach.  The day was overcast, but it was still beautiful.  After walking the beach (free pedicure), we strolled along the main street and visited several shops.  I loved this town. Yes, it is touristy, but I loved it anyway and had the best pizza.  By the way, we ate a lot. I mean, a LOT.  My daughter had a list of restaurants and we hit all but one of them. It is a wonder I still fit into my clothes.

The next would be our trip to Multnomah Falls.  I did not climb to the top.  It isn't that I am that out of shape (even if I am) but my husband and son were ahead of us on the trail.  I had to hang back with one daughter who was once again on the phone clearing up an issue with the university and we were going to catch up. When hubby called and said that there was a drop off on one side of the trail he knew I would freak.  Okay, maybe not that bad, but I do not handle heights well at all.  He knows me and probably feared having to carry me back down.  On his advice, I climbed only as far as my nerves allowed while the rest of my family made the mile high trek to the top.

My eldest had the camera and took this picture. Isn't it gorgeous?

But lastly, the most memorable was rafting down the Clackamas River.  Even though the family on any normal day is going in all kinds of directions, it is nice to know that when necessary, we still work together, as a team. When our guide told us to row, we did, in sync with one another.  And, I am so using this experience in a novel.  In fact, a series came to me while I was out there, beginning that first day when we learned about crimps, saloons and bordellos, and I can't wait to begin writing it.

In the busy world we live in it is hard to have that family togetherness.  And it just isn't when the kids get older, I think it begins when they are young and start doing sports, or taking dance lessons, or whatever your child develops a passion for.  For our family it was double difficult since my husband and I worked different shifts for years.

How do you plan family togetherness? When my kids were younger, and not able to drive, we used to have family game nights. Those went away with driver's licenses and football, basketball, plays, concerts, art shows, etc.  Do you make it a point to schedule family vacations that take you away from the house, television and all those distractions that are coming at us 24/7?  Did you take a family vacation this year?  Tell me about it.

Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency

Friday, August 24, 2012

Titles On The Brain

I've just finished writing my first short story entitled (and I kid you not), Seduction of the Billionaire Playboy Actor. Very Harlequiney, no?

Seriously, I adore everything about titles. Coming up with one, playing around with one and learning my friends latest ones. In fact my fellow Lady Scribes have fabulous titles for their novels and they're not the only ones.

Here are some of my favorites:

When only one word will do.

Perfect, no?

A longer title to give the h/h time to ah..undress.

Since Harlequin inspired this post, here are some of my favorite titles:

  • The Greek's Christmas Baby
  • A Passionate Marriage (Hot-Blooded Husbands, #4)
  • Bought: The Greek's Innocent Virgin
  • The Sheikh's Impatient Virgin
  • Blackmailed by Diamonds, Bound by Marriage (A Mediterranean  Marriage)
  • The Desert King's Pregnant Bride

How could you not want to read those? Really, I lurve those titles. A great title and fabulous cover will make me buy every time. 

So, dear readers, what's your favorite title? And can a title help or hinder while you're browsing?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Home is Where the Heart is

Eden, Texas is the hometown of my heroes in The Devil Ryder series and it’s a figment of my imagination. It came alive for me during the writing The Devil’s Daughter and it’s only seen briefly in the soon-to-be-release sequel The Devil’s Defiance, but I'm very drawn to it.
It’s a small town overtaken and run by a set of feuding cattle barons. As these two families battle it out, the town and its people get sucked into the drama. As a plotter I’m very detail oriented with my writing. I use outlines, maps, and character charts. I’ve got pictures and hand drawn maps of the town, and Eden has turned into its own character. This is the picture I bought to give me a visual of the town from Fotolia. com

I love stories where the setting becomes the focal point in the story. Stories like Gone with the Wind where Tara breathes with a life all its own. Without Tara there is no Scarlet O’Hara. They are, in a sense, one and the same. And it works.
I didn’t plan on Eden, Texas becoming such a driving force in my series but somehow it managed to do just that. Originally, I made the decision to use a fictional town because it would be easier to map out. In the sequel my characters start off in San Antonio and I’ve included much of the research that I came across right down to street names and the town city hall. So I love to do the necessary research to bring a real setting alive, but there was something so invigorating about being able to create a setting from scratch. It was a lot of fun.
Somehow The Devil’s Defiance took an usual turn and I ran across a piece of research that became a part of the story as well. It’s fun to wander off the beaten path sometimes. My characters found a map to the San Saba mines, where legend has it that the Spanish missionary’s buried a cache of silver bars. This piece of lost history went wild in my head and I somehow ended up with a story that is a cross between Indiana Jones and The Wild, Wild West.
But there are parts of the story that return to Eden. The angst between three brothers who love each other, but hate to admit it to anyone, keep bringing them back together again. It’s a compelling thing: This family thing. As much as family drives us crazy we all tend to gravitate back to what we know and love. Family is such a huge part of my life that I’ve somehow ended up with a family theme in all of my stories. After all, home is where the heart is.
I normally use pictures and hand drawn maps to bring my settings to life. I spend entirely too much time house hunting on the web for a home I'll never even see. What about you? Do procrastinate by searching for pictures of your character's home or town? Does it have to fit perfectly for you? 
I love stories about hometowns and small towns, where someone “comes home” after years away. What are your favorite themes in stories and have you recently read a story where the setting came alive for you? For those of you that write, do you like to write about real settings or do you like to create your own little town from your imagination? 
Since I'm releasing The Devil's Defiance next month, I'm revealing my book trailer for the first time here. I hope you enjoy it. 

The Devil's Defiance book two in The Devil Ryder series
Coming in September
New York City Lawyer Garret Ryder takes the law into his own hands when a vicious killer gets away with murdering his family. Nothing will stop him from delivering the justice denied him by the law he vowed to uphold. But when the killer kidnaps a judge’s daughter, his childhood sweetheart, he must decide if any price is too high to exact revenge.
San Antonio socialite Sophia Maria Osbourne doesn’t trust easily. With a dirty politician and a blackmailing judge for a father, she learned not to rely on anyone but herself. But when her father’s shady dealings lead to her kidnapping, she must place her faith in the man who stole her heart long ago, if she hopes to survive. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Interview with Anna Randol

Anna Randol
Hello, it's Samantha here, and I'd love to introduce you to one of my favorite historical romance authors, Anna Randol. I was very happy to have a chance to interview Anna about her second book, Sins of a Virgin. Not only is she a great writer, she's a brave woman. Because let's face it, you never know what questions the Ladies will ask.  

SG: I love that you are an author who has broken out of the norm in the Regency genre. First, there was your debut book, A Secret In Her Kiss, set in the exotic Ottoman Empire, followed by your newest book, Sins of a Virgin, which explores the darker side of London with a courtesan heroine and a Bow Street Runner hero. What type of reception did you receive when you first began submitting your Regency set in such an unusual locale? (As Erin Knightely said, “It just goes to show that if it's a good book, there is always hope!”)

AR: I’ll be brave here…I did get a lot of rejections when my agent began shopping A Secret in Her Kiss. It helped that other authors such as Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas had been successful recently with some exotically set books. I also had a British hero and heroine which I think made the setting slightly less jarring.

But when it came down to it, the most important thing was that Tessa Woodward at Avon read it, loved the story and my voice, and was willing to fight for me. (Thanks, Tessa!)

I totally agree with Erin, if you write a great book, you can eventually find the right home for it!

SG: What inspired you to write non-England Regency?

AR: I certainly didn’t set out to break any molds or fight against the romance establishment. Mari, my exotic spy heroine, popped into my head and I knew she didn’t belong in England. As the story unfolded, I knew the only place she could be was Constantinople.

But the location definitely allowed me play with the expectations my heroine had as well as the freedoms she was allowed.

SG: Have you read any other historicals set in exotic countries that made you want to write yours? What other exotic locations are at the top of your list of potential settings for future stories?

AR: There are definitely fabulous historicals set all around the globe. Everywhere from Alaska to South Africa.

My next novel, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue, will take place both in England and St. Petersburg, Russia (in the middle of winter, no less). There are imperial palaces and fights on icy rivers, domed churches and false princesses. It has been a blast to research and to write!

SG: We like that your heroines are not a typical English rose, but a strong willed woman fighting for what she thinks is right. What are some of your favorite strong or unusual heroines?

AR: Thanks! I really love heroines who are striving for some goal before they ever meet the hero. I think the hero should complete the heroine but not define her.

Besides, I write really strong alpha heroes, so it’s imperative they not be able to bully the heroines around. My favorite heroines are brainy, determined, clever, and perhaps even a bit plain (except to her hero by the end of the book!)

As far as specifics go, I love Disney’s Mulan. She’s tough, loyal to her family, has a dragon, and stares at Shang’s lips before she passes out.

SG: Sins of a Virgin is the start of a trilogy that sounds intriguing and exciting. What can readers expect when they dive into this series?

AR: I’m so excited about this series! So here’s the quick rundown:

At the beginning of the Napoleonic War, three exceptional youth are plucked from the gallows. In exchange for their lives, they agree to hone and employ their chosen skills in the name of His Majesty’s government.

La Petit—a woman so beautiful she can coax any man to her bed in an hour and the secrets from his heart in a night.

The Cipher—a man who remembers every number he’s encountered and unravels patterns and codes at a glance.

The Wraith—a man who discovers the location of something he wants, then retrieves it. The question is not if he will get what he desires, but when.

Throughout the war, the Trio cut an unstoppable swath through England's enemies.

But now the war is over. The Trio is a liability.

With a bluff appreciation and a pat on the back, they are returned to London and cut loose.

But if the government thinks these elite spies will just fade away, they’ll soon learn differently…

SG: One of the Lady Scribes, who shall go unnamed, has a father who loved your first book. She feels certain he would want to ask you if there is a Regency equivalent to a Bowflex, which is what he said when he first saw the cover to A Secret in Her Kiss.

AR: I believe a regimen of fighting wars, trouncing villains, and making passionate love to feisty heroines does the trick. J

SG: Well played, Ms. Randol!!! Have you ever kissed your book?

AR: No, but I may or may not have caressed the cover a time or two. I mean, who can resist those abs?

SG: Yeah, they are pretty amazing. Being a California girl, do you get to Disneyland very often? Are you someone who likes the thrill rides, or are you more of a sidelines type of person?

AR: I go to Disneyland only about once a year, but I definitely love to ride the roller coasters (Space Mountain rocks!). Even if I didn’t, I now have some daredevil kids, I wouldn’t have much choice!

SG: Do you have a question you would like to ask the readers?

AR: How exotic do you like your life? Do you like to stay close to home? Or do you dream of traveling the globe?

Anna, thanks so much for being with us today at Lady Scribes. We wish you the best on your latest release. I can’t wait to read it! One lucky reader is going to be very happy to get her hands on a copy of your book today. 

The Lady Scribes and our guests always look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you would like to be entered into the drawing for a copy of Anna Randol’s Sins of a Virgin, please answer Anna’s question and include your email address. Only relevant comments adding to today’s discussion will be eligible for the drawing. (The contest is open to US and Canada only.)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The view outside my window

The view from our hotel room was amazing!

Hey there, Happy Campers,

I’m just back from the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Queensland (Diamonds are Forever themed) and my head is buzzing with ideas and plans for the future. Conferences are like that. Always. No matter the plans I had set in motion before the conference I’m now trying to work out how to squeeze in one more novel for next year. I’m placing the blame squarely at Eloisa James’ feet.

The agenda - three days of jam packed.  Workshops, dinners and socializing.

Friday’s all day screenwriting tricks workshop with Alexandra Sokoloff was brilliantly timed for brainstorming my next novel. In the afternoon, the Australian Romance Readers Association had organized book-signing for 60+ authors and their fans. Book signings are so much fun and the ARRA committee did another fantastic job with organization of the day. Thank you ladies!

This town smelled really sweet thanks to
the sugar refinery
Ms James was our keynote speaker on Saturday and boy does she know how to make an impression on a room. Her speech really pushed a lot of peoples buttons, mine included. She almost had me in tears. But it was her second session, a ‘Breakfast with Eloisa James’ (at the ungodly hour of 7am) that really made the biggest impression on me. She is one savvy lady. Very astute and very willing to share her thoughts and experiences on publishing. Hence my change of direction for next year. LOL

I’m not sure what prompted me to agree we should drive to Queensland (from north of Sydney) for the conference. It’s only about 800 kms (that’s maybe 500 miles) and there were quicker ways to get there. Flying being the main one. But my hubby wanted the car to see the sights with our youngest son and we did the trip up in two days.

My son and I at Coffs Harbour
(half-way point)
True to form, Queensland weather was beautiful one day and perfect the next. While I caught up with pals, the family hit the pool, theme parks, and that great beach near our hotel. I always feel slightly sad to watch them run off without me. However the pleasure of spending time with peeps like Tamara Gill, Jess Dee, Lexxie Couper, Rhian Cahill and (finally meeting) Sami Lee more than made up for the disappointment of being left behind at the hotel. They're a fantastic and funny group of authors.

The strange thing about conferences though is that when they’re finally over, even if I loved every second, I’m always desperate to get home. So, instead of driving home in two days, and stopping overnight, we came home in just one. Slightly mad decision but after a full three days of sessions and socializing it was fantastic to get home and fall asleep in my own bed. 

The following photos were taken on homeward journey. Here’s a peek at what Australia is like, some at 100km/hr.

Oops, who nicked the bridge!

Many rivers to cross. Lost count actually!

I always manage to find derelict houses

A bright point in the long trip
Now that the view outside my window has returned to my mundane flowerless garden, I'm looking forward to the next RW Australia conference. Next year we are in Perth (wonderful city on the opposite side of Australia than me) and the keynote speaker will be Julia Quinn. I cannot wait! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

To Pack, or Not to Pack...

...THAT is the question. At least recently that's been the question around our house. Why, you ask? Because we're about to embark on the biggest move we've ever made. Not quite as big as the one Catherine Gayle made this week -- I think she might have a few extra hundred miles on us -- but still, NYC to Southeast Florida is a pretty darn big move.

So, obviously, we've been going through the house with a fine-toothed comb, trying to determine what we really need and what we can get rid of. To be honest, if it was up to me, I'd get rid of everything! Okay, maybe not everything, but darn near close to it. It's my husband who's the pack rat, although he'll deny it up and down.

However, I think this little goodie we found in storage yesterday says it all...

That's right. It says exactly what you think it says: Things Dr. Snuggle Peed On. And in case you're wondering who Dr. Snuggle is...that's our cat. Now, we weren't being sentimental about his pee, of course, but rather the things he peed on. All of which we threw away yesterday.

Oh, and then there's this one...

A lovely glass dolphin, who's sole purpose in life is to sit on a shelf or mantle and look pretty. Except...his tail fin broke off about 8 years ago...the primary part of his anatomy that allowed him to stay upright! So instead of being on display, he's been in a box, wrapped in newspaper. Finally, E let me send him to the recycle bin...8 years later.

But okay, okay...let he without sin be the first to condemn, right? I'll admit I've hung on to a few things, no matter how useless or broken. Like this Mary Englebright picture frame...

 I loved this frame, and for the longest time it had a picture of my high school besties and me at our friend's house, playing hookie from the last day of school. But it was falling apart and even when my nanny helped me glue it back together, it didn't hold up.  So, I let it go.

But despite all the arguments hubby and I have had these past few weeks about what deserved to stay and what needed to go, the before and afters of our little girl's toy collection should give you an idea of all the purging that has actually gone on in our house. Seriously, the Salvation Army should mount a plaque in our name after the dozens of carloads we've taken to their donation center! LOL!


 After :)

So, what about you? Are you a pack rat? Do you have 10-year-old useless stuff that you just refuse to let go of? Or are you the type of person I want to be? The one who gets a thank you card and has no qualms about immediately throwing it in the recycle bin once you've read it? (How could you do that?!?!?)

-Jerrica, Her Grace of Grammar

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Check Out Entangled Publishing!!!!!

The New Kid on the Block everyone wants to meet!

Entangled Publishing
For anyone considering making a change or to just shake things up a bit try submitting to Entangled Publishing. I did and I can’t be happier!!

Entangled is a new print and e-book publisher that has had phenomenal success in their first year on the scene.  Several of the authors, editors, publicists and publishers met in Vegas a couple weeks ago for a publishing Pow-Wow that was a blast. I thought I’d share with you what I learned. 

Entangled loves their authors. And their not just saying that! Their contracts are easy to read, author friendly, and negotiable. They assign a publicist to every author--I love love love that!! Their covers are awesome. And they just had their big Pow Wow in Vegas — how fun was that—LOTS!
Entangled is actively pursuing for many of their lines and a big plus for me – you don’t have to wait 2 to 3 years to see your book on sale!

Digital only lines

Indulgence — (45-60k) Very successful (think Desire) These books focus on the romantic journey of the couple. Jennifer Probst just sold books 2 and 3 in her very successful Marriage Bargain series for 7 figures and has hit all the lists. With a digital category. It can and it does happen in Entangled land.

Brazen — (50-60k) Brand new and eagerly accepting submissions (think Blaze) Hot, sexy Alpha hero. Very successful wealthy heroic profession. Fantasy! These books focus on the  sexual journey of the couple. They are topping the lists with titles like - Wrong Bed, Right Guy, and Seducing Cinderella.

Covet — (45k-60k) Brand new and eagerly accepting submissions. While these are romances with a paranormal twist they are not Nocturnes. They do not want extensive world building. These do not have to be dark. They have the romance hooks with a paranormal character. The first three are out now and getting great reviews. Titles like Tall, Dark and Divine, Take it like a Vamp and Deceiving the Witch Next Door.

Dead Sexy — (60k-70k) My favorite of course. This too is a brand new line. But again, not like Intrigue, not like Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense. These are romances with a suspense twist. If it has a dead body it’s a Dead Sexy. If it has a character in severe jeopardy it’s a Dead Sexy. If it’s a Thriller, Cozy, Historical, Suspense with a strong element of danger—it’s a Dead Sexy.

Bliss — (45-60) Sweet and Sassy line. Still very romantic, but leave the strongly worded love scenes at the door. Think Moonlighting before they had sex. Lots of sexual tension, great romance but not a lot if any sex.

Flirts – (10k-15k) Short romantic Novellas

Ever Afters – (20k-40k) Short romantic Novellas

What's really cool about Entangled is they always have special submission calls on their blog, so follow their blog and their tweets - @entangledpub

Print Lines –

Entangled Books, Entangled Select, and Entangled Teen- 60k-120k word romance novels or novels with romantic elements.

These lines are booked through 2013, but if you can wait their covers are beautiful and they have awesome marketing plans.

Check out their website at Entangledpublishing.com and see the covers for yourself.

The Digital lines are Trope heavy. This is a new term for me. I always called them hooks — but apparently their tropes. Think marriage of convenience, boy next door, best friends now lovers. The more tropes the better!! 

So, go ahead, throw your questions at me and I’ll see what I can do to answer them. And if you have any examples of Tropes, throw those out there too.  The more the better!! ;)

Happy writing. It’s a great day to be a writer!!!

Cynthia Cooke
Deadly Secrets, Loving Lies

Excerpt —

Kyle stared in disbelief at the odd, mushroom-shaped
structure rising up from the cracked, dry earth of the
Nevada desert.
“There she is,” the voice of Johnny Garino, his crew
chief and closest friend, buzzed in his earpiece.
Genie stood on the roof of the strange house.  Three
black SUVs were corralled on the ground far below her.
She looked incredible, breathtaking, silhouetted against
the brilliant blue sky.  Kyle sucked in a breath as she
clipped a cable to her belt.
“She’s getting ready to fly!” Johnny called out, his
voice rising in pitch.
“Hold on, baby.  I’m almost there.” Kyle pushed down
on the throttle urging the bird faster, even as he willed
Genie to turn and see him, to hold on until he could sweep
her away from the danger.
And once he did, once he had her safe and secure in
his cockpit, then what?
Then he’d try not to kill her himself.

Connect with Cynthia at:
Cynthia’s Website — www.cynthiacooke.com
Twitter – @Cynthiacooke5
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/cynthia.cooke.authorpage