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Friday, February 28, 2014

High-Five Friday: Our Most Memorable Fictional Meals

Welcome to High-5 Friday, where each week we collect ideas on favorite categories in our books, films, TV shows, or lives.

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is approaching, and among all the other excesses of my favorite holiday in my favorite city is FOOD! The biggest food tradition of the carnival season in my old hometown is the King Cake--sort of like a coffee cake topped with sugar dyed the carnival colors of purple, green, and gold. Inside each ring-shaped cake is a tiny baby made of plastic or china; whoever gets the piece of cake with the baby has to buy the next cake. At my former day-job office, Friday was King Cake day. We'd start on January 6, Twelfth Night, and eat them once a week until the Friday before Mardi Gras day. Fat Tuesday, indeed! My favorite, by the way, comes from Haydel's Bakery, located on Jefferson Highway. And they ship!

So for this week's Top 5, we're asking: what's your favorite fictional meal scene? Our Lady Scribes joined readers from my Preternatura blog and from Facebook this week, and here are the winners so far--but you have to chime in as well, for a chance at a $5 Amazon GC (or Book Depo equivalent). Also, read on for last week's winner!

The question: What's the most memorable scene you recall from a book that involves cooking or eating a meal? We had a couple of good answers that didn't make the top five--the chewing gum scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was author Samantha Grace's favorite ("You could experience a full meal with one gum," she says--"'You're turning scarlet, Scarlet!'"). Also, the chef competition from Rex Stout's Too Many Cooks.

But there was a Top 5. In order of the number of mentions...


No. 5: The disastrous dinner date between wizard DJ and the undead pirate Jean Lafitte in River Road, written by, well, me (awwww.....sweet). They travel back to 1840s New Orleans to eat a meal at Antoine's cooked by Antoine Alciatore himself, which gave me a good excuse to buy a book outlining some of the restaurant's original meals. Of course an elf had to go and ruin the whole dinner date with the undead, but that's what elves do.


No. 4: The meals cooked by Gin Blanco in Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassins series. Gin owns a barbecue joint--a great occupation for an assassin heroine!


No. 3: Anita eats so Jean-Claude can taste it, in Laurell K. Hamilton's Burnt Offerings:  “He ordered food with a childlike glee and watched me eat, tasting it as I did. In private he'd roll on his back like a cat, hands pressed to his mouth as if trying to drain every taste. It was the only thing he did that was cute. He was gorgeous, sensual, but rarely cute."


No. 2: The naked dinner scene (well, the panty dinner that Kate has to cook and Curran doesn't show up for) in Illona Andrews' Magic Burns.


No. 1: Shared by author Jennifer Lohmann and a gaggle of readers...
Any meal at Hogwarts, in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. Pumpkin juice for everyone!

And congrats to VAMPEDCHIK for winning the gift card for commenting on last week's High 5, favorite storm scenes. Please email me at this link with your email address.

Now, for this week's prize, what's your favorite meal scene? It might be one of these, or it might be different!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Party with author Julie Johnstone!



Release day is here!




Does anything quite say happy release day like convincing your husband to read an excerpt from your book?

I think not!

So without further delay here is the Marquess of Johnstone, my husband, reading from my newest A Whisper of Scandal Novel, DANCING WITH A DEVIL!

This is book three in the Scandal series!

Today on Facebook at the Lady Scribes page https://www.facebook.com/events/529298423853974/ I am hosting a release day party! Come on over and help me celebrate the release of my new book! Twelve fantastic authors have gathered to help me party the morning, day and night away. The virtual release party runs from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm tonight. Come by anytime and comment for a chance to win e-books and print books of mine and these fabulous authors!

Writing new books is always an adventure and this book was more adventurous than usual! Just when I thought I was done and had turned in the final version to my editor I sat back on my heels, thinking I had some much needed free time on my hands, only to receive my edits a few weeks later and almost faint!

My editor thought I had started my book in the wrong place! After crying-just joking, denial-not joking-, and finally pulling up my proverbial writer big girl pants, I sat back down at my computer and wrote eight, yes you heard me right, EIGHT new chapters at the beginning of my book! Then I rewrote three chapters and added too many flushed out scenes to count! But in the end, my amazing editor was right and I am very proud of this book.

For a little fun I am giving you the original first line of the book and the first line of the book I ended up with after I rewrote the beginning. You tell me which is which, which you like better and why! One lucky person who comments will win a copy of my new e-book and another lucky person who comments will win an autographed copy of the print version, which will be available in two weeks!


1. Lady Audrey Cringlewood refused to fall victim to the same fate her mother had. This was precisely why when the Marquess of Davenport crooked his long finger at her, she squared her shoulders and followed the notorious rake into the Duchess of Primwitty’s guest bedchamber.

2. It was a rare moment indeed that Lady Audrey Cringlewood allowed herself to succumb to the insecurities constantly trying to besiege her, but as she stole a quick glance at the empty wooden chair beside her self-doubt filled her chest and made her squirm in her seat.

If you would like to purchase this book you can find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords! Simply click on the links! It should be available at Apple, Kobo and Sony in a week!

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's Up, Wednesday?

This week I asked the Lady Scribes to share what they last looked up on Google. Here’s what they had to say:

This morning I Googled "Is Robert Redford gay" because my 88-year-old mom and I were having a debate about it; she insisted he was, and I insisted she was getting him confused with Rock Hudson. Of course his two wives and four children prove nothing for sure, but it won the argument for me!

I usually Google things like "how much rat poison does it take to kill a 200-pound man" or "large-caliber weapons," all for books, of course, so I'm sure the NSA has me on a watch list somewhere.
~Suzanne Johnson

I want a new purse and I like to buy local, so I was Googling Holly Aiken bags (http://hollyaiken.com/). Do I need a new purse? No. I need new blouses (for my day job) and new sheets (because cat claws plus sheets equals tears). But, I'm looking at purses.
~ Jennifer Lohmann

Right now I'm working on a book about a rugby player who's terrified of flying and the sexy pilot who helps him overcome that fear, so my Google search history is full of questions about planes. The most recent search is "How do you start a Piper Warrior?" because that's the type of plane Libby is using to teach Matt how to fly. I took a couple of flying lessons when I was a teenager, but I can't remember details like whether you start small planes with a key or by pushing an ignition button. The internet is a wonderful thing!
~Kat Latham
Iris

Dog potty training specialist in Birmingham, Alabama! Our new dog, Iris, is NOT catching on to the fact that she is supposed to potty outside and NOT on the kitchen floor. #atwitsend
~Julie Johnstone

Poop consistency of formula fed baby vs. breast milk.
~Christi Caldwell

"Water Witching" and divining rods.  Yes, it is for a book. However, I have found the topic interesting since I found water when I was about 13 years old. No, you can't start calling me a witch. By the way, divining rods are also called "dousing rods" which I did not know. 
~Jane Charles

The ladies’ answers were so fun, I decided to ask a few of my fellow Sourcebooks authors what they last Googled. What an eclectic list!

Fenders for 1980 Datsun 210
 ~Brooklyn Ann, Bite Me, Your Grace and Wrenching Fate

Maps of Scotland, for both A Highland Wolf Christmas and The Viking's Highland Lass
~Terry Spear, Silence of the Wolf

How to Throw a Blade
~Victoria Roberts, X Marks the Scot and To Wed a Wicked Highlander

The origin of the phrase: "Speaking truth to power",
because I have a hero who "Speaks truth to beauty" and then decides that 
not being brave, he must be foolhardy. It is for my April 1 release of 
the final book in my Angelo's Hearth contemporary romance series, 
"Melanie's Independence Day."



The answer is a 1955 pamphlet: "Speak Truth to Power: A Quaker Search 
for an Alternative to Violence"

~ML "Matt" Buchman


The difference between Chow fun and Chow mein.
~Cheryl Brooks, The Star Chronicles: Wildcat

I Googled “Barbie Fairytopia Laverna Doll”. Princess Galen loves the villain, Laverna, from the Barbie Fairytopia movies. It's been super hard to find the doll, so I'm always searching.
~Shana Galen, Sapphires Are an Earl's Best Friend

I guess I can’t ask everyone else to share unless I’m willing to do it too. 

The last thing I Googled was “What kinds of things do men do to make a girl break-up with him?” I was looking for ideas for my current wip (work in progress), but the best ideas came from readers when I posted the question on The Lady Scribes FacebookPage
~Samantha Grace

Now it’s your turn. What was the last thing you looked up on Google?









Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Teaser

It is Tuesday again and Lady Scribes has dedicated this day to share with you what we are working on or what has recently been released.  Some will be in the form of a blurb and link, others may post a trailer, and some might post a video of author reading from their current book or WIP.  You never know what we will have so be sure to tune in each Tuesday. 


Coming Soon! GHOSTS FROM THE PAST. The second book in the "Wiggons' School for Elegant Young Ladies" series and due out in March, 2014.  Natalie Pritchard comes face to face with her past. Anton Kazakov seeks revenge. And, the troublesome trio (three imaginative students) are convinced ghosts really do exist and set out to prove it.














A lord chained to his past…
Lord Trent Rutherford’s past has left him guarded and jaded and perfectly content to spend the rest of his life moving from one meaningless affair to the next. Until he meets Lady Audrey Cringlewood, an innocent beauty who makes him question everything he believes. His devilish demeanor guards more than a wounded heart. Behind his swagger lie secrets he’d rather forget than face, but the price of forgetting may be his second chance at life.


A lady determined to shape her future…
Audrey Cringlewood longs to marry for love, not convenience. After several months of flirtatious banter, secret smiles and one very unforgettable kiss, Trent Rutherford, the rake known as Sin, proves himself the man of her dreams. Audrey suspects she understands the pain he hides behind his devil may care attitude, but when the truth comes to light, is her love enough to heal all wounds or will the secrets Trent guarded so carefully tear them apart forever?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Stay on the Path to Learning with Sidney Bristol

When I was in high school, my favorite teacher taught the one thing I couldn’t wrap my head around—economics. I tried very hard to understand it, but it’s just one of those things I never got the knack of. But there were a hundred other life lessons he imparted to me while I was still in school.

The most important lesson ever?

Stay on the path of learning for as long as you can.
I’ve had a love of learning for a long time. I never really enjoyed high school because it didn’t challenge me. College—that’s where I blossomed. I went to my first college because I got a big scholarship and was able to get a degree and two minors before the funds ran out. So what did I do then? Figured out where else I could get more money—and went to a technical college for some hands-on learning.

Eventually, I faced the music and realized…I had to get a job. I’m not a full time writer, but my day job has made me something of a Jack of all Trades. I have a hand in just about every line of business and process that goes on. Why? Because I wanted to learn why we did some things and I found a way to improve the process or a place where I could increase productivity.

As you can imagine, this love of learning has bled into my writing. Last year I went through a Citizen’s Police Academy class so I could write believable cops. What am I learning this year? Drag racing. Yup. I know zip about cars and all I’ve been reading lately are the best stock cars to purchase and upgrade for racing purposes. I can talk about a number of models, the impact of the Fast & Furious franchise on racing and details the differences between European and American styles. You’d almost think I know what I’m talking about—but I’m not kidding myself. I’m still pretty clueless. Which is why I’d really like to take a class in auto motives.

For me—the research isn’t a pain. It’s not something I begrudge doing. I thoroughly enjoy it. But I also get to chose what I want to learn about, which goes a long way in keeping it interesting. I’m not sure reading up on the chemical reaction taking place when you unleash a tank of NOS into the fuel system of a car is what my old teacher had in mind—but it’s kept me on the path of learning.

I often think back about that teacher. He was one of those unique people who are larger than life. Besides being a school teacher, he was an avid diver, a marathon runner, a veteran, he owned a construction company and after several tornado disasters organized relief efforts. Oh—and he only had one hand. He taught us as much about economics and government as he did about life lessons. He was inspiring, and some days I wish I could write him a letter and tell him what a difference he made on my life because I never forgot his urging to stay on the path of learning. It’s what led me to writing after all.

The list of things I’ve pushed myself to learn is a long one, and I don’t know if it would be even a quarter of the length if it weren’t for him, starting with enough to pass my economics class, to the latest tools the police use to diffuse bombs. I’ve picked up knitting, Asian cooking, roller derby and belly dancing—because why not?

What’s something you’ve learned in the last year?

It can never be said that Sidney Bristol has had a ‘normal’ life.  She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict. She grew up in a motor-home on the US highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves, writing, reading and belly dancing.


Officer Odalia Foucheaux is a desperate woman. Incriminating photographs of her after-hours job as a fetish model have been stolen, and she’s willing to break rules to get them back. Standing in her way? The very dominant bounty hunter Jacques Savoy.

Jacques has been watching out for Officer Foucheaux. He wants her safe from harm as much as he desires her body, her soul—and her submission. Odalia’s in trouble and struggling to walk the line of the law. His solution? Work together to find out who stole her pictures, what the thief wants and how to stop him. And if they find a pleasure unlike any other along the way, well, laissez les bons temps rouler.
Let the good times roll.

B&N | AMZ | ARe | SMW 

Friday, February 21, 2014

High-5 Friday: Top 5 Storm Scenes--What's Yours?

Welcome to High-5 Friday, where each week we collect ideas on favorite categories in our books, films, TV shows, or lives.

This week, in honor of all the winter storms this year, we're suggesting favorite scenes (from our own books or one we've read) that involve a weather event of some kind: thunderstorm, flood, drought, tornado, hurricane, take your pick!

Reader input was solicited from blog and Facebook throughout the week, and here's what we came up with. At the end, tell us yours, and you'll be added to those who've made suggestions to win a $5 Amazon GC (or Book Depo equivalent). Also read on for last week's winner.

The question: What's the most memorable scene you recall from a book that involves a weather event or force of nature? In order of the number of mentions...

No. 5: Riding out a hurricane on a floating house (eek) in Barbara Hambly's Benjamin January mystery, Wet Grave.

No. 4: The blizzard that traps Danny and his mom in the Overlook Hotel with crazy daddy Jack from Stephen King's The Shining.

No. 3: A blizzard magically manufactured in Anne Bishop's Written in Red (Others series), that occurs after heroine Meg is injured.

No. 2: A snowstorm traps Lucivar and Marian inside in The Prince of Ebon Rih, a novella in Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series.

No. 1: The snowstorm scene(s) from Laura Kaye's North of Need, first in her Hearts of the Anemoi series:

And congrats to SHARLENE for winning the gift card for commenting on last week's High 5, our favorite couples. Please email me at this link with your email address.

Now, for this week's prize, what's your favorite storm?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Should Romance Come With a Warning?

Recently I was looking at reviews for The Heart of a Duke, the collaborative novel I wrote with Christi Caldwell, Aileen Fish, Robin Delany, and Olivia Kelly when I got sidetracked reading random reviews for other authors' books. One comment that stood out to me was the idea of rating books like we do movies. It made me stop and ask myself a few questions.

As a reader, would I find a rating system helpful in choosing books? Would it provide the right information I would need to make a decision about a book? If a system was put into place, who would be responsible for rating the books? Would it delay books hitting the shelves, or virtual shelves? How would the ratings be defined? Could this lead to censorship and regulation of what is available to readers?

With language like 'contains nothing that would offend parents whose young children view the motion picture' and 'a sterner warning to parents', the movie rating system seems more like a guide for parents rather than adults choosing a movie for themselves.

Doesn't the publishing industry already address that issue? There are children's books, Young Adult, and Adult categories as a general guide.

Here are the basic ratings for movies:
G (General audiences) - Nothing adult themed, no cursing, no sex, no violence, no nudity.

PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) - There may be some breif nudity, profanity, and violence. No drug use.

PG13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May be Inappropriate for Children Under Age 13) - More than brief nudity, but not sexually oriented. Depictions of violence, but not realistic, extreme, or persistent. Single use of sexually-derived expletive. May depict drug use.

R (Restricted. Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian) - Adult themes. Adult activity. Hard language. Intense or persistent violence. Sexually-oriented nudity. Drug abuse.

NC17 (No One 17 and Under Admitted) - Appropriate only for adult audience. Can be based on violence, sex, abberational behavior, drug abuse, or any other element that most parents consider too strong.

I'm not sure a rating system like the one above would be helpful to me as a reader. It seems too general. I don't think a rating would tell me what I really want to know before picking up a book. For example, I don't like violence against women, children, or other vulnerable people, but a fistfight or shootout between a good guy and a bad guy is okay. It's not the level of gore for me either, so much as the level of cruelty inflicted on the helpless. (In fact, it doesn't even have to be physical violence to bother me. It could be mental or emotional abuse.) So a PG13 or R rating wouldn't necessarily help me identify those particular books I might want to avoid, and it could keep me from reading a book I would enjoy.

What about smooching and stuff?

Readers view sexual content in books differently. Some don't want any sexual activity--not even a suggestion. Some are okay with sexual activity, but they only want it to be between married couples. Some are just fine with explicit sex scenes, but they aren't into alternative lifestyles. Some readers are cool with whatever.

Spicey 

Judging a book by its cover is okay! 

Heat levels are often apparent by the cover and seem more helpful than a rating, in my opinion. Blind-folds, handcuffs, and three people on the cover are good signs you might be in for a wilder read. A book with a couple partially undressed in bed is very likely to have steamy love scenes. A Regency with everyone fully dressed in traditional clothing (or an innocent-looking object on the cover) is probably a sweet read with nothing more than a kiss and a romantic declaration at the end.


Sweet

Certain publishing Imprints and Lines can also tell you what to expect, such as Ellora's Cave. EC has anywhere from Cotillion Traditional Regency Romance to very hot. If a publisher doesn't have different lines that gives an idea of what to expect, there are always search categories on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, etc.

Ask the experts.

There are many book blogs to read, and reader reviews online. Even better, visit your local Indie bookstore. They provide great personalized service and can often make recommendations based on what you like or tell you what to avoid if you know something isn't your cup of tea. And there is always your friendly librarian to go to with questions.

Anyway, my view is obviously slanted toward not finding a rating system for books helpful, but that's just my opinion. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Rating system for books? Yes, No, It depends. (If you leave a comment and include your email, I'll draw a name to receive reader's choice of one of my books. Be sure to tell me if you want spicy or sweet. Open internationally. If you would like to view my backlist to see what book you would like to win, here is my website.) 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Welcome, Christy English!

The Lady Scribes are very happy to welcome Christy English, author of smart and funny historical romance novels. Her newest book, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK (Sourcebooks Casablanca), is available now. Be sure to check out her links below to learn more about Christy's wonderful stories. And now I'm turning the blog over to Christy. 

One of the toughest things about being a published writer is the occasional bad review every book gets. I did not know this when I was first starting out. I thought that the hard work I had put into my labor of love, aka the historical novel, THE QUEEN'S PAWN, would be appreciated as every reader was swept away on the brilliance of my words. LOL Well, I know now that my writing style isn't everyone's cup of tea. Some disliked the fact that the book was fiction and not all historical fact. Others could not stand the protagonist, Princess Alais of France. Others hated the second lead character, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Since it was my first book, for the first few months after the novel came out, I read all the reviews, both good and bad. I think that was a mistake. New writers, published and almost published, my advice is not to read bad reviews at all. They will only hurt your feelings, and leave you wondering if the folks who wrote those reviews ever read your book at all. Of course, they did read it. They just didn't like it. And that is ok.

I am on my fifth book now, MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK, an historical Regency romance that romps through the court of the Prince Regent and the wilds of Derbyshire with a nod or two to Shakespeare's play, Much Ado About Nothing. I finally realize that not everyone is going to love my hero and heroine as much as I do. Not everybody is going to be swept away by Captain James "Jack" Montgomery's hotness. Not everyone is going to find the arrogance of my French protagonist Angelique Beauchamp, charming. And that is ok. Because what I always forgot when I read bad reviews in the past is that everybody is entitled to their opinion. None of us all like the same thing. That doesn't mean that the other people who have read my books didn't love them, because sometimes, more often than not, they do.

 So remember, when you see those one or two stars on Amazon, don't look! They can think what they want, but you love your book and your characters. Don't let anyone else's opinions steal the joy you find in your work. On one level, your book is yours alone. Be proud of it, no matter what.

Description of MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK:
How to Become London's Most Notorious Widow:
1. Vow to NEVER remarry

2. Own a ship and become fabulously wealthy

3. Wear the latest risqué fashions in your signature color

4. Do NOT have a liaison at the Prince Regent's palace with a naval captain whose broad shoulders and green eyes make you forget Rule #1

Angelique Beauchamp, the widowed Countess of Devonshire, has been twice burned by love, and she is certain that no man will ever touch her heart again. But that doesn't mean she can't indulge a little—and it would be hard to find a more perfect dalliance than one with the dashing Captain James Montgomery.

After a brief torrid affair, James tries to forget Angelique and his undeniable thirst for more. The luscious lady was quite clear that their liaison was temporary. But for the first time, the lure of the sea isn't powerful enough to keep him away


READER QUESTION: Have you ever read a book where you didn't like one of the main characters or something they did but you still loved the story? 

Christy and Sourcebooks is offering a copy of MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK to a Lady Scribes reader today. Just leave a comment for Christy and your email address so we can contact you if your name is chosen. (Sorry. US and Canada only)

Author Bio:

Christy English is happiest when she is dreaming. Her dreams have taken her to the royal court of Henry II in THE QUEEN’S PAWN, to medieval Paris in TO BE QUEEN, and now to Regency England in MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK, LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, and HOW TO TAME A WILFULL WIFE, where she loves to watch her characters find true love, often in spite of themselves. Please visit her on her blog  http://www.ChristyEnglish.com , on Twitter https://twitter.com/ChristyEnglish , or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/christy.english.779