Friday, October 28, 2016

Tired Old Plots by Cheryl Bolen

They say there’s no such thing as a new plot. That’s especially true in Regency-set historical romances. I know. I’ve written more than 30 of them, and for about 40 years I’ve been reading them. 

My readers have been clamoring for another Brazen Brides story for the third Birmingham brother, the wealthiest bankers in England. I want to come up with something fresh. Something I haven’t done before. But I’m having a difficult time. 

Unlike in contemporaries, we Regency writers can’t have the occupational “meet.” You know, the hero who needs the services of the heroine to be his nurse, interior decorator, secretary, art restorer, or competitor. Women of the middle and upper classes did not learn trades 200 years ago. 

The most popular plot device in Regency is impoverished nobleman—or noblewoman—who must marry a fortune. I did a spin on that with my His Golden Ring when I had my aristocratic heroine offer herself in marriage to a wealthy banker to get money to ransom her brother from Spanish bandits. Another variation on this was in my His Lordship’s Vow and in my Miss Darcy’s New Companion (both novellas), where the noblemen court an heiress, only to fall in love with a penniless heroine. My Brides of Bath series started when an impoverished noble family accepts help from a nabob in exchange for introducing his sister and him into Bath society. ( Bet you can see where that story was headed!) 

I’ve grown so tired of the same old, same old. I don’t even read Regencies anymore—unless it was written sixty or more years ago by the grand dame of the genre, Georgette Heyer. It got to where every story I read seemed as if I’d read that story before, only the characters had different names. 

So, here I am. Though I’ve written a couple of novellas this year, this is the first year in a very long time that I haven’t written a new novel. I’ve spent weeks pondering plots for Adam Birmingham. To no avail. My last two full-length novels were very well received, and I think that was so because they had fresh plots. One reviewer said of my Countess by Coincidence she’s read many a marriage-of-convenience story before, but had never read a marriage-of-coincidence story. Scores on that book in the Rita judging were almost good enough to final. I believe the judges recognized that it wasn’t same recycled plot. And my Oh What a (Wedding) Night, though a runaway bride story, had lots of other things going for it, including mistaken identity, role switching, and humor.  

I want to write books that have fresh new plots, and I’d rather have no new book than one I’m not proud of. So here I sit, writing blogs instead of books.—Cheryl’s Nov. 15 release is a Christmas novella in her House of Haverstock series. It’s titled Ex-Spinster by Christmas.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Man's Best Friend: 10 Romances for Pet Lovers

Meet Willow.
She is a black and white, semi-long hair cat who has been a member of my family for almost 14 years. Yes, I mean member of the family.
I am an animal lover. I can’t think of any animal I would consider as a lower life form. I just don’t think of them in that way. Just released, the book bundle Man’s Best Friend: 10 Romances for Animal Lovers celebrates out connection with animals. The bundle features stories by 10 authors, and offer bits of paranormal, suspense, and a whole lot of romance.
My book in the bundle, Unstoppable, features veterinarian were-bobcat Lara Monroe and physician were-lynx Booker Chase. Here’s an excerpt from Unstoppable:
“Good morning, Dr. Monroe.” Holly was a rock. Even with the commotion already building in the waiting room, she managed a smile. Patience was one of her virtues.

“Natalie, are we set up for the first surgery?”

Her vet tech nodded. “Kitten number one has been put under anesthesia and is ready for her spaying.”

“Kitten number one?”

“We’re spaying and neutering several cats from Cats Alive. This first one is named Star.”

Back in her office, Lara smiled. Attending to Cats Alive cats was a particular pleasure. The owner of the cat rescue was the colony leader’s finance, Michelle Slade. Her cat rescue was top-notch and she had a big heart.

Lara glanced at the schedule for the day. Busy as usual. She pulled on her surgical gown and did her surgical scrub.

She walked into the operatory and saw the tiny black and white short hair kitten stretched out on the table. Warmth bubbled through Lara. Animals always had held a special place in her heart. She could trust animals. They never lied. If a dog was upset, there was no question that he would bite. Animals wouldn’t sneak in and try to seduce you, then tear out your soul.

She picked up her scalpel and sent her healing touch flowing to Star while she began the removal of her reproductive organs. Every cat in her colony had exceptional hearing, vision, strength, and agility, as well as a unique ability. Hers was a healing touch, which gave her an advantage as a veterinarian in achieving optimum recovery.

Twenty minutes later, Lara prepared to suture the kitten’s surgical site. Her hands had been steady during the surgery, but now she fumbled her way through stitching up the kitten.

“Damn it!” She paused, sucked in a deep breath and relaxed her shoulders. She glanced at Natalie, then attended to her small patient to complete suturing. “Sorry, little one,” she cooed.

The kitten was limp with anesthesia when the tech moved her to a recovery cage. Lara knew no damage had been done. But the little sweetie deserved her best work. Something had happened to Star; she’d undergone spaying. While it was a routine procedure and it was in the kitten’s best interest, the surgery was not nothing. Lara’s beliefs resided not only in her brain, but in her soul, so in all ways she treated animals as individuals, not objects, deserving of respect and care.

While the bundle showcases animals, it also offers plenty of romance. 

Lessons in Magic: Recently unemployed and rudderless, Phoebe agrees to get her late aunt Edna's house ready to put on the market. While cleaning up cobwebs, she unexpectedly discovers her latent family talent for summoning a demon, who arrives disguised as an irresistable puppy. Noah Rossi, wizard in training, comes to the rescue, but can he save her from accidentally destroying the universe?
Text Me: Abigail Jeffries gets a random text from a stranger only to discover the sender, Carter Coben, isn't so strange after all. Soon she's caught up in a game of assumed identities with the same gorgeous guy she got fired from his job. Carter has no idea that "She Hearts Dogs" is the girl who blew his world apart. They'll have to navigate mixed signals, mistaken identities, and misunderstandings to find real love.
All About Charming Alice: Quirky Alice Treemont gives up hope of finding love in rural Blake's Folly, Nevada, where she spends her time rescuing unwanted dogs and protecting the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. That is, until dashing and well-to-do author Jace Constant comes to town to research his new book. Opposites indeed attract, and soon the whole town is determined to make a love match.
Wildflower Redemption: Luz Wilkinson returns to tiny Rose Creek, Texas, to lick her wounds and toughen her resolve against love's sting. She wants nothing more than to spend her days caring for discarded animals. But will Aaron Estes, her riding student's widower dad, spur her to try again?
Atonement: A former marine sniper suffering from PTSD, Deputy Nicolette Rivers hides her own deadly secrets from everyone but detective Con O'Hanlon, who, along with his military dog Cadno, is more than willing to help cover up the fallout. But is he too late to prevent Nic's dark, downward spiral? Or is Con the one man stronger than her demons?
Fated Hearts: Sheriff Carter McAlister and his dog, Dublin, have their lives upended when he offers mysterious newcomer Henley Elliott a job as his assistant. Breaking through her carefully built shell proves to be a near-impossible task, and now a dangerous new presence in the Cove seems to be targeting Henley. To get a second chance at happily ever after, Carter and Henley will need to leave their secrets and scars in the past.
Sweet Texas Kiss: Veterinarian Gavin Cooper can't wrap his mind around why country music superstar Macy Young would end up inheriting his family home. Seeing his childhood memories handed over to his high school rival - the first woman to break his heart - stings. Luckily, Macy can't sell the house for one year - plenty of time for him to find a way to get it back. Can they find a way to bury their animosity and rediscover their first love in the process?
Unstoppable: When veterinarian Lara Monroe's fellow cat shifter - and secret crush - Booker Chase needs help, she's willing to use her special healing touch to help him survive his emotional hell. As a top-notch physician, he's not convinced anything can repair his soul, broken from the loss of his wife and burdened with PTSD from his service in Afghanistan, but Lara is showing him flashes of what might be. But they can't grab this second chance at love unless they can shut down the Nexus Group forever.
Bloom: When L.A.'s charity fundraising maven Ava Bennett heads out to the middle of nowhere to check on a friend for her rock star client, she never expects to tangle with infamous music producer Nate Robinson, nor endanger his dog's health. Can a career woman find love with a virtual hermit?
What a Texas Girl Dreams: They are opposites in so many ways, but the more veterinarian Trickett Samuels gets to know footloose and fancy free Monica Witte, the more he wonders if he can convince this Texas girl that having roots will only help her soar higher.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016


Give in already. Am I right?
Some of us avoid temptation so we won’t have to squirm and wrestle with ourselves. Others resist temptation and find that the abstaining makes us stronger, more noble, and possibly thinner. The rest of us give in.
We eat the cookies, buy the books, sleep late.  We feel good about it, too, unlike poor Eve. How rotten for her that knowledge and evil were combined in the same tasty bite.
Knowledge is still irresistibly appealing, and one of the all time best places to indulge temptation is the public library. Everything’s free! Books, movies, puzzles, music, magazines, ebooks, audiobooks, and computer time are all available there, ready for consumption! Some libraries have public showers. Some have entrance tickets for amusement parks. Some have tai chi classes, ukuleles, and 3-D printers. So many healthy choices abound there.  
Of course, the goodies aren’t actually free because someone pays for them, but we do that collectively with our taxes, like magic, for the good of the people. That’s us!
So if you’re looking to indulge yourself, go to your local library and get tempted. The romance section is a delicious place to start.

Caragh M. O'Brien is the author of The Vault of Dreamers and other YA novels.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

'Tis the Season by Bonnie Edwards

It’s not even Halloween yet and romance authors have already turned their thoughts to Christmas. Some of us already have new Christmas boxed sets available for pre-order!

I’m one of them. And I’m also one of those people who hate seeing Christmas displays in department stores right after Labor Day. So why so early on my Christmas story? Economics.

There’s only so much time for people to be in the mood for talk of turkey and stuffing and good cheer and um…kisses under the mistletoe. (Who even sees that stuff anymore?)
Last year a group of wonderful authors came up with an idea to create a boxed set. We had so much fun and readers loved the set so much we decided to do it again.

Spicy Christmas Kisses 2  For a limited time, this boxed set is available for only 99c.  Release date: November 1, 2016

Spicy Christmas Kisses 2 – Nine MORE Romances to Heat up Your Holidays!

From bestselling, award-winning and multi-published authors come romances that include friends to lovers, doggie matchmakers, single dads, hero-in-hiding, maybe baby, reunited lovers and more!

My novella, Invitation to Christmas is brand new and is the follow up to last year’s book Not-So-Blue Christmas.

Christmas brings family together… 
Jordyn Bailey kissed Tom Fontaine last Christmas.  

But their parents are engaged…  
For Jordyn keeping secrets in a family determined to mesh their lives is all kinds of crazy. Secretly sleeping with her soon-to-be stepbrother could get messy because she’s on the baby track while he’s on the party track. 

If they’re careful and keep their attraction under wraps maybe it will burn out and they can be friends.

Now…It’s Christmas again and Tom wants to unwrap everything, including Jordyn. 

So, for you, how early is too early for Christmas stories?

Friday, October 21, 2016

What's in a Hook?

    I've been reading and writing category (series) romances for most of my life, and I love them. They're my favorites because they're mostly focused on relationships. But the biggest complaint I've heard about the genre over the years is the trite and repetitive titles. Publishing houses often demand what they call a "hook" in the title. Pretty self-explanatory, I guess. They want titles that hook the readers by specific themes or subject matter. Some common examples are virgins, brides, cowboys, secret babies, millionaires, and all manner of royalty. Every reader has preferences and marketing statistics prove that the"hooks" really do sell more books.

   My funniest experience with hooks was with one of my romantic suspense stories, UNDERCOVER VIRGIN. I like to tell people the heroine wasn't a virgin until she went to New York. LOL. The senior editor who bought the book said it needed a hook. She asked me to revise so that my heroine was a virgin. Okay, then. I hadn't addressed the subject in the original story, but I made a (brief) mention of it to secure the contract.

    And, for totally promotional purposes, I'll mention that the ebook format of this story is currently priced at $1.99. Harlequin is having a special October sale. You can check it out at and you can click this link to buy the Kindle version of  UNDERCOVER VIRGIN .

     So, what are your favorite themes? I confess to being a sucker for cowboys and reunion stories. I'm also very fond of marriages-of-convenience. What "hook" gets your attention? Or do the "hooks" just annoy you? Let us know.

Until next time, take care and keep reading!

Hugs, Becky

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Six Weeks of Insanity

Nothing tests an author's meddle more than organizing and executing a promotional plan for a new release. In addition to the day-to-day media posting, tweeting and updating of your website and blog, there are also blog tours to contend with, guest posts to be written. Hectic doesn't begin to cover it.

Now, multiply the insanity by two. Hectic has been the norm for me for the past three weeks and I have three more to go. It's the wonderful price you pay for back-to-back releases.

The fun actually began in mid-September when I took part in a fifteen-blog cover reveal for my upcoming Egyptian-themed time travel, Eye of the Pharaoh. The excitement had barely worn off when an author/friend asked me to "take over" her street team for the day.

What a wonderful experience! And now I have new friends and, even better, new readers!

I began a two-week blog tour for my Halloween-themed novella, Bewitched, on October 3rd and finished up just this past Friday. The tour netted me four blogger reviews, seventeen new Twitter followers and fourteen new Facebook followers. I sent newsletter invitations to everyone and had eight sign up for my newsletter.

In addition to the tour booked through Goddess Fish Promotions,  I also scheduled five blog stops on my own. And, of course, there was also the added work of my personal blog with two weekly features of my own and two posts as a Goddess Fish host. Heaven is for the weak and those without a book release.

All of that ... as crazy-fun as it was ... will dwarf in comparison to the next three weeks.

Eye of the Pharaoh releases on Wednesday, October 19th, and kicks off with a visit to Joyce Lamb's USA Today HEA column. Thursday and Friday each have two personally book guest spots. And then, I think, I have the weekend off! No...wait...I'm hosting a six-author pre-Halloween weekend blog tour.

Monday, October 24th begins another two-week blog tour, this one requiring a guest post or interview for each of the 14 stops. The tour ends on Friday, November 4th. Needless to say, I plan to sleep the entire weekend of the 5th and 6th.

As busy as I've been with mega-promo, I still managed to do a final galley-read through on two upcoming books, one releasing in December and the other in January. Which means, of course, I'll need to schedule blog tours and begin on my media kit for both books. Oh, and somewhere in the middle of it all, there's a holiday or two to contend with.

Even with all this craziness going on, the one day I'm certain to celebrate is going to be Wednesday, November 1st. That just happens to be my 20th anniversary as a published author ... and it all began with a Precious Gem.

For my fellow authors ... may you 'suffer' the same insanity I have for these six weeks. For the readers ... please enjoy the fruits of all our labor and remember to write a review!

Until next time, stay happy, stay healthy, stay well read.


Friday, October 14, 2016

Some books I write I like better than others by Jan Scarbrough

Why is that? Two main factors: the subject matter and the characters.

First of all, the heroine can be who I’d like to be, and the hero can be my idea of “Mr. Right.” For Kentucky Blue Bloods, my heroine was an heiress to a small Kentucky horse farm and the hero a hunky Brit. Talk about a “dream come true” on both accounts!

Secondly, the topic was fun: Thoroughbred-breeding farms in Kentucky. I read a book about one such farm, but the best part was the onsite research.

I booked a horse farm tour in the bluegrass with Unbridled Horse Tours. Early in September my friend Kathy joined me, and we drove to Midway, Kentucky. We met up with tour guide Nancy (Hap) Hapgood. She’d planned the private tour for us based upon what I wanted to see—broodmare farms and Keeneland. Our tour took place a week before the big September sale at Keeneland, but the horses had not arrived. However, I soaked up the atmosphere of the sales pavilion and the barns.

The biggest thrill of the day for me was our stop at Nuckols Farm in Midway, home of the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos, the fastest living Derby winner (1:59.97).

Every year during the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, I think about my private tour of Kentucky horse country and why I love writing romance. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

                                             Confessions of an END READER. 
                                                    By Kathleen Lawless

My secret is out.  I'm an end reader!
It's not something I'm proud of or ashamed of, but I do wonder if I'm alone out there or if there is a secret society of 'us'.

Let me be clear.  I don't start by reading the end of the book.  I start at the beginning like every obedient reader.  I progress along nicely taking note of the first turning point, the pinch, and the next turning point.  And so along I read, through the middle and eventually heading full tilt for the black moment.

Somewhere in there is where I ultimately lapse.  It's not as if I'm not enjoying the book with its clever pacing and multi-dimensional characters.  It's just that I have to know how it ends.  And I have to know now.

I can't even say knowing the end of the book ruins it for me.  In fact it enhances the experience as I am now on the lookout for clever twists and other writerly skills designed to draw the ending to a satisfying conclusion.

Is it part of studying the author's techniques?  Perhaps.  Is it because I'm impatient?  Definitely.  Have I ever been sorry I skipped ahead?  A time or two.  Generally it tends to be the way I read and the way I write, that mad gallop to the finish line. 

As long as people are reading our work, I don't care how they go about it.  The worst scenario would be if someone didn't care enough about the book to read the end.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Free ebook

#PoweredByIndie During the month of October Amazon is celebrating the Indie author. Authors who, for one reason or another, decided to strike out on their own. After publishing with three different traditional publishers, and 20+ books, I decided that I wanted a little more control over my career. Although I loved my time with each publisher and the fabulous editors I was fortunate to work with, I think I just got to a point where I wanted to be more involved with everything from content to pricing to cover design. Hence, all month long I'll have Close Encounters of the Sexy Kind up for free. Click here to download. A sexy romantic comedy that was nominated by Romantic Times for a Reviewers Choice award. I hope everyone enjoys the story.

I discovered going Indie was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Yes, I have a lot more control, but there are a lot of hats an Indie author has to wear from cover design to marketing. I'll admit I'm not that great at marketing. It seems the field is always changing---kind of like Fantasy Football, which I'll stay far away from. I actually dipped my toe into the cover design waters and quickly discovered just how muddy my skills were there. I leave that to others now.

Procrastination is another enemy of the Indie author. It's so much more fun to shop, watch a movie, read a book, scrub the toilet...anything that will keep me from actually working. That's another thing, there's a lot of work writing a book. I could win first prize as a procrastinator. If anyone would like to buy my Guide to Procrastination it'll be on the market next year, maybe, but probably not.

So, with all the work that goes into being an Indie author, I have to say, I've had more fun being my own boss. A great thing about Amazon is that I can actually see how many books I sell in a day. To someone who does their own marketing, that is a tremendous help. The main thing is never be afraid to believe in yourself. Your first steps might be a little wobbly but what have you got to lose?

                                                      Kindle    Nook    Kobo    Apple

Best Wishes,

Karen Kelley

Friday, October 7, 2016

Watching for Matthew

by Liz Flaherty

Places like this one, the dining room in a Hampton Inn, have always been my favorite places to write and work on edits, and second only to airports for people-watching. But this morning, when Matthew is snapping angrily at Cape Canaveral and the TV in here is loud and threatening, I'm having trouble concentrating on writing. I'm thinking about the hurricane.

In my books, the black moment sometimes has to do with something elemental: a fire, a storm, or an avalanche. I've been in Florida when people calmly cover their windows, check their supply of bottled water, and prepare their generators in readiness. I've lived in a tornado-taunted area my whole life and watched more than one blizzard shut me in. I study how these disasters affect the communities that are touched and talk to people who've been through them. I try to capture the fear that goes with the experience.

I remember when my friend's house burned to the ground and she didn't know for a life-changing hour where her elder daughter was. We talked that night and her relief was massive, far greater than I could begin to relate with mere words, but already she was feeling the loss of her family's life-in-pictures--we didn't have cellphones then. I am still haunted years later by the sound of her voice when she said, "I don't have any shoes."

She did. She had the ones she was wearing. Shoes were symbolic, but I knew and understood what they were symbolic of. It is this that I'm wondering and praying about as I listen to CNN's reports on Matthew this morning. About people who will methodically do what they must do and only later, when things are quiet again, will they mourn their losses.

It reminds me, sitting here in this warm and safe place with my pumpkin-spice-flavored coffee at my elbow, of our responsibility as writers. We must research things we write about and make sure we get them right. And then we must show our readers how the people in our stories find a happily-ever-after even when they don't have any shoes.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

This past weekend I traveled to Georgia and attended the Moonlight and Magnolias Writer's Conference.  I haven't been to a con in a very long time and I went for a couple of reasons - not the least of which was to meet with my editor (whom I adore) and also to see one of my very best friends.

The day I arrived, my friend picked me up and we visited her town.  It's south of Atlanta.  Here's the courthouse.

I got to catch up with my friend, her family, and hang out in Newnan, GA.  That night after dinner we went to the conference hotel for the night and met up with another friend for a drink.  The conference started the next day.

One thing that I got from this conference - and which I needed - was the writing energy.  There's something about when you're around a bunch of other writers.  It's a tangible thing and we had write-in's where we sat and wrote without talking (not an easy task!)

I got some writing done.  I also had a lovely meeting with my editor.  We chatted over a nice meal and glass of wine.  I'm lucky to have such a great (and kind) editor who believes in me and my writing.  In fact, one of the things I took away from this conference was a sense of happiness with my life.

The workshops I attended were all positive and I'd say uplifting was the general tone I got.  We exercised by walking in the gym once and the rest of the time outside.  I ate a lot of great meals. Below is a steak salad I had for dinner one night.

All in all, I returned home refreshed and happy (and a bit tired, due to chatting all night with my friend for several nights!)  I'm glad to be where I am, love my family and my dogs, and am happy with my publisher and my stories.   Not a bad thing to take away from a conference.

If you're a writer and reading this - don't be like me and let years go by without attending an event of some sort with other writers.  It's really nice to hang out with people like you, with your tribe.  You might find you return home energized and ready to write more word!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


I read a lot of thrillers and romantic suspense, and watch a lot of crime dramas on TV, and though I’d hesitate to call anything predictable, I’ve determined that there are certain roles you just wouldn’t want to take on.

This idea crystallized for me while reading a James Patterson novel recently. It seems the tougher and more resourceful a man is, if he’s a main character, the more likely he is to be the male equivalent of a Black Widow for any love interest he may develop.

 I’d never want to go home with Stuart Woods’ character Stone Barrington, for instance, because it seems any woman with whom he’s romantically involved will be killed or at the very least kidnapped before the story ends.

 One of the most dangerous positions is a bodyguard.  The good guys may have all sorts of protective technology, not to mention being so clever they can intuitively guess where the bad guys will strike again.  But as soon as the main character, generally a manly man with almost supernatural crime-fighting powers, tells someone they’ll be perfectly safe in a house or apartment because he’s got his best man guarding the person, you can be pretty sure that guard is done for.  Yes, they’re usually former Navy SEALS or members of a clandestine force so elite that no one can even admit it exists.   
But somehow or other the bad guys find a way to overpower even the most highly trained, muscular men in order to take out the person under protection.

You never want to be the first or second person snatched by a serial killer on Criminal Minds.  The bodies pile up while the team analyzes and comes to that ah-ha moment when they figure out where the serial killer is hiding out.  You want to be the person who gets taken during the third act of the show, because even though you may have some unpleasant experiences, at least you know you’re going to live.

So even though the main character may get shot, stabbed, fall off a cliff, leap out a window, or otherwise perform a feat that would make Superman look wimpy, they manage to get up dust themselves off, declare “it’s only a flesh wound,” and carry on.  Not so his trusted childhood friend.

I’d just like to give some advice to those poor souls in those unfortunate parts, namely, don’t go for coffee for just a minute, don’t stop to check your phone, don’t do anything at all that will leave your audience screaming “watch out!”

 Yes, it makes for a suspenseful read, but the demise of a good guy (or gal) is a really, really unpleasant thing.

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