Friday, May 26, 2017

Harlequin Line Closings Painful

Like a lot of us authors, I'm still on email groups with other authors at other house and other lines. I am a member of the Montlake authors loop, the Love Inspired Historical authors group, the Zebra authors group, and of course, the Precious Gems authors who started this Gems in the Attic blog.

Last week there was a disturbing announcement sent from Harlequin to the Love Inspired Historical authors, as well as authors who write for Harlequin Super Romance, Harlequin Western, Kimini, and Nocturn. Those lines will be closing in 2018. So many authors on the Love Inspired Historical loop were devastated. Their careers--many of them very successful--were being destroyed. 
My Love Inspired Historical

We former Precious Gems authors can understand that angst because we went through something similar when Kensington ceased to publish our beloved Precious Gems books. Many of us, though, could publish the same kind of book elsewhere. Another advantage we had over these unfortunate Harlequin authors is that we got back our rights. Now that all of Harlequin's books are available digitally, they can't be out of print, so Harlequin's pretty stingy about giving back rights. Another whammy to these reeling Harlequin authors is that some of them have been writing solely for this line for many years. (At least Precious Gems was short lived.) It's a lot harder for them to transition into typical romance publishing.

I've heard the inspirational market is shrinking. If that's the case, some of these authors may want to write straight romances. I believe there will always be a market for sweet romances.

After 23 years as a member of RWA, one thing I've learned about publishing is that it's always changing. Most of us have been affected by changes. I once had a six-year drought, but I now believe it's the best thing that's ever happened to me. I kept on writing, and when indie publishing came along I was able to launch my indie career with those books, along with five backlist titles. I've been blessed to make six figures each year for the past six years. I never made anything like that when I was writing for New York publishing lines. 
A rejected book that won
Best Historical in the
International Digital Awards


Changes can be painful. But, as I said on the Love Inspired Historical loop, when one door closes, another opens. Sometimes it just takes a while.--By Cheryl Bolen, whose next release is Miss Hastings' Excellent London Adventure

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Soul Mates @lcrandallwriter

Soul Mates

by 
Glenys O'Connell, Lynn Crandall, Rachel James, 
Kathleen Shaputis, Clarissa Ross, and Bea Moon

Releases May 29
$1.99



Cursed wedding gowns, haunted houses, and mischievous ghosts wreak havoc as romance brews in this value-priced digital bundle.

The Bride’s Curse: Three brides in a row return a gorgeous vintage wedding dress to Kelly Andrews’s Wedding Bliss store, claiming it’s cursed. Kelly thinks it’s nonsense, but these returns are bad for business, so she’d better get to the bottom of the problem. Researching the gown, she meets Brett Atwell, the handsome nephew of the dress’s original owner, and a mischievous spirit sends the two of them on a goose chase for a groom who went missing decades ago. Will love get its due at long last?

Always and Forever Love: Lacy Aegar is comfortable living with her husband’s ghost as they raise their son and run her PI business. That is, until Jackson Carter, the son of powerful and influential business tycoon, starts siphoning her business. But he has an ulterior motive along with his sexy smile, and soon Lacy will have to come to grips not only with her business plans but her feelings about love as well.

The Kindred: When it comes to being psychic, Janice Kelly is the best of the best. But she didn’t foresee falling in love with Adrian while fleeing the anger of thwarted ghosts in a haunted house.

His Lass Wears Tartan: Independent Rogue Bruce enjoys running a Scottish bed-and-breakfast with the ghosts that walk the halls. Then Bruce MacKenzie, the local heartthrob, suddenly begins hanging around while roguish Jonathan Olson arrives at the castle to teach a writing seminar. With two men after the heart she’d thought safely locked away, Rogue is torn. But when things start to take a sinister turn, only true love can save the day.

Jennifer by Moonlight: Lucy Dorset came to Moorgate as the happy bride of a dedicated young doctor. But she soon discovers that the old stone house is inhabited by a pale and lovely ghost, a victim of a fatal romantic triangle long ago. It’s possible the unhappy spirits of Moorgate are pushing Lucy toward a reenactment of a violent, century-old tragedy—and she alone must rid the house of the menacing presence threatening her marriage.

That Ol’ Team Spirit: Someone’s haunting the Sharks’s stadium and creating some major league mischief. So psychic Peg Noonan and her granddaughter Trish are determined to discover who’s menacing their concessions stand. With the help of Trish’s high school love, sportswriter Rob Hanks, they just might have a ghost of a (second) chance.

Excerpt from Always and Forever Love:

     Walking into the master bath, Lacey stopped short. “Geez! Now, that’s a bathtub,” she exclaimed. Her voice echoed slightly against the marble tile walls and gray slate floor. Jason waited patiently at the doorway while her gaze moved from one opulent element to another. A large white and gold marble whirlpool tub, deep enough to disappear in, was framed on three sides by frosted glass windows and a small garden of palms and feathery ferns. On another wall stood a shower stall sporting a gold rain-head showerhead and etched glass doors.
     “Hi, Uncle Jake.”
     Jason’s greeting jolted Lacey out of her skin. Retreat was impossible. She turned to face the square shoulders, tall frame, and solid jaw of a dark-haired man. “Uncle Jake, I presume?” She wasn’t doing anything wrong, so why did she feel her as though Brad Pitt had just caught her picking her nose?
     “I know who I am. Who are you and what are you doing in my bathroom?” The man’s voice was clipped velvet. His arm circled Jason protectively.
     She stuck out her hand. “I’m Lacey Aegar. And as for what I’m doing here…”
     “I hired her, Uncle Jake. She’s going to find Snickers.”
     She looked from Jason’s cherubic face and up into the glistening brown eyes of his uncle and felt her composure melt into the cold slate beneath her feet. “Umm…I’m a private investigator. And your nephew has asked me to…”
     “I think you’ve seen enough, Ms. Private Investigator or gossip columnist or whoever you are.” The man grabbed Lacey’s elbow and began to usher her briskly out of the room.
     “But Uncle Jake—”
     “If you’ll just hold on a minute I can explain.” Lacey’s face burned at the man’s insinuation.
     With Jason at his heels, the man swept Lacey down the stairs and was heading toward the front door, where she spread out her hands and planted them against the hard wood. "Stop,” she demanded, whirling around to face him head-on. “I’m not leaving until I finish what I came here for, and that’s to help Jason find his dog.”

Buy Links:

Amazon

Simon & Schuster

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Luck of the Draw Sample - Nikki Lynn Barrett @BonnieEdwards

I’m sharing samples from the books in the “good fortune changes lives” box set Luck of the Draw – 13 Lucky Romance and Suspense novellas. This set contains brand new eclectic stories revolving around taking chances and winning!

Luck of the Draw is an Amazon exclusive that contains all new stories and was released May 11. For a very limited time this set is selling for only 99c.


Today I offer a lovely sample from USA Today Bestselling Author Nikki Lynn Barrett:

            Chapter 1

             “You signed me up for what?”  Lizette Monroe pinned her twin sister Nola with a furious, deadly look
            “I didn't sign you up. I signed me up, and now I've chickened out. Why not switch with me?”
            “Why not-” Lizette sputtered. “For one, I have tons of things I could be doing. Two, we're way too old to be pulling the twin switch. Three, you and your damn sweepstakes! Four-”
            “Okay, okay. You don't need to list everything.” Nola's voice quieted to a low mutter. “It would be good for you. You know, get away from the press over Chip's-”
            “Don't speak that name,” she seethed. Lizette's ex-fiancé was a hot topic lately, especially in the last few months when he threw her life in complete and utter uproar.  A breakup was bad enough. He had to add public humiliation, lies, and slander to the list. Because Lizette and Nola were well known heiresses, of course the break up was in the spotlight. The unwanted attention forced her to keep her head low to figure things out. It came out of nowhere. One day, she'd been contemplating wedding things, wondering when Chip would commit to a date. He wanted it sooner, and didn't like the idea that he had to sign a prenup, forced upon Lizette by her parents' will. It made her question his motives, because if he'd loved her for the person she was and not what she represented, wouldn't he have been okay with it?
            Why did things have to become so complicated?
            That and Chip pulled it off on national TV.  Some stupid reality dating show, Rebound, if she recalled correctly, where they go on and talk about all the things their exes did to hurt them. Then all season, the hosts would help them find a rebound date.
            Can we say train wreck?
            But back to her sister and the crazy twin switch idea. “Nola...”
            “Come on, Lizette! You know I enter all of these things. The last thing I expected was to win. I was going to try, I really was.” Her twin trailed behind her when Lizette strode off to the kitchen, eager for a cup of coffee to process the whole thing. “This is perfect. It gets you out of here for a while, and you can play as me. Enjoy yourself.”
            “Enjoy myself. Right,” Lizette muttered, mulling over the idea. Damn it, she didn't want to admit quite yet that her sister had a decent idea. Getting out of California could be exactly the cure she needed.
            “I am right! You've been avoiding everyone and everything! Get out there and live again. Throw your happiness up in Chip's face! You know it'll only be a matter of time before the Rebound crew comes looking for you to find out your side. They'll ask you to face Chip and what he says, especially when he has his rebound date. You know how that show goes.”
            “I don't, actually. I'm not the one who sits around the house watching stupid reality TV and entering sweepstakes.” At Nola's surprised gaze, Lizette clamped her lips shut.
            Big mistake. Bad, bad, bad move. Nola's eyes watered.
            “I'm sorry, Nola. My mouth got ahead of me.” Nola had become agoraphobic over the past year and a half, and nothing Lizette said or did helped so far. Her sister was so embarrassed by this that she'd begged Lizette to go out in her place if Nola was to appear anywhere. No one aside from the two of them and their late father's right hand man, Travis, knew the truth about Nola.  “If I did this, what would you do for a week?”
            “I have Travis. He comes by and helps,” Nola replied. “I didn't expect to win.”
            Yeah, she said that already.
            “Where's the vacation location?” Lizette treaded carefully. Nola would find any way she could to con her into saying yes, even when Lizette wasn't certain about any of this.
            A twinkle lit up her twin's eyes. “Get this. Paris!”
            “Seriously?” She whistled. Okay, this might be worth considering.
            “We've got our passports already!”
            Reality hit her hard in the gut.“Yeah, but taking your place going somewhere international is not the smartest move.”
            “Well, don't get arrested, killed, or kidnapped. Simple.” Nola chuckled, crossing her arms.
            “Be serious! You know how much trouble we could get into?”
            “A week in Paris. A week away from the media. A-” Oh, she planned to lay it on thick. Damn her!
            “Nola!” Lizette cut her off. Her sister could be so reckless at times.
            “It would be such a shame to let it go to waste,” Nola tsked.  “All they'll do is check your- my passport. We've both got a clean record. Nothing could go wrong. I'll try when something is a little closer to home.”
            Lizette sighed. How did her sister always manage to get into these situations? But damn it, Paris was tempting! And she could post photos all over her social media accounts and make Chip jealous.
            Strike that, no she couldn't. Not as Nola. Okay, so that part was out, but Paris? Turning that trip down would be a mistake.
            How am I seriously even considering this crazy scheme?

*****

            “So people actually entered the sweepstakes, huh?   You think twenty winners are going to be satisfied by coming here?” Dirk Ramsey folded his large frame onto the chair across the table from his uncle Max. Dirk had actually helped sponsor the sweepstakes, not because he thought it would pan out, but because his uncle was the only good family member he had left, and the soft-hearted guy he was couldn't say no when Uncle Max's desperation put his health in jeopardy. Instead of taking the offer to help with storm damages, Uncle Max had this insane idea about a sweepstakes to bring in out of towners, showing them the best of the town during an annual event. 
            “Last ditch effort.” His uncle, the mayor of Paris, Tennessee, gritted his teeth. “I need something to put this town on the map.”
            “Discover a singer and keep 'em away from Nashville.” Dirk chuckled, warranting a warning glare from his uncle.
            “You aren't very funny, kid.  We've got the Fish Fry coming up. Why not introduce new people to our town? Sure, they may go visit Nashville's highlights, but they're staying here. In our inn. It's all about the local attractions. The flood didn't help our situation any.” Max eyed him warily. “I thought you were on board with this. If you didn't believe in it...”
            “I think you could have found a different way about it, but you know damn well I'm on board.” Dirk sat up straight. “All right. You tell me what you need, and I'll help. After this though, I'm gonna have to go home.”
            His uncle nodded. “I know. I can't keep ya here forever. I appreciate all the help you've given me the last few months. This time, I promise to take it easy. Your cousin Arthur can't be bothered to help. His mother says he keeps getting into trouble, but he doesn't want to talk to me about it.”
            “You'd better. I don't want to hear in the middle of the night that my only family had a heart attack due to stress. Let's just hope this works.” Dirk shifted positions again.
            “We've got a good lineup this year for singers, too. Some well known, some not. If it fails, we know not to do a sweepstakes. Is Maria waiting for you at home? How come she hasn't come to visit?”
            “Because when she realized I wasn't coming back right away, she left me,” Dirk replied, thinking of the woman he'd almost proposed to. Go figure. When he put his heart out on the line, he got the raw end of the deal. It had taken a long time to decide, and he wondered now if he'd only thought about proposing because he'd been comfortable with her. When it came down to it, Dirk didn't love her the way he thought he should. That was almost a month ago, and he'd been quiet about it. He wasn't about to lie to his uncle, even though Max would feel guilty for keeping Dirk away from home and his life for so long.
            Just as he suspected, his uncle's face fell. “Sorry about that, Dirk.”
            “It's her loss.” Her loss, and his realization that it was better this way. Being comfortable with a woman wasn't enough to last a lifetime.
            “Yes it is, but I know how you felt about her.”
            “Yeah, well...” Dirk shrugged. Time to change the subject. “Which artists have you lined up that are noteworthy?”
            “Try Kyra Sanders for our country act, and rock band Zinger.” Max pumped a fist in the air. “Think they're big enough to draw a crowd?”
            Dirk whistled. “Impressive. Both acts have a huge following, and I love the diversity in music.”
            “See? Your old uncle can still produce a few good moves.” Uncle Max winked, running a hand through his thinning silver hair.
            “Never said you couldn't, old man, but I bet I could still kick your butt in a good old-fashioned game of bowling.”
            “Is that a challenge, boy? Because if that's the case, game on!”
            Dirk laughed. “Tonight? Best of three?”
            “You're on.”
            “Hey, how soon until the sweepstakes winners get here, anyway?”
            “A week.” The look of panic reappeared on Uncle Max's face. As suspected, he wasn't fully ready. Or maybe he was, and just had a case of perfectionism.
            Damn. Not a lot of time. “Is the inn okay after that last storm?” Too many deadly and costly storms rolled through here recently, leaving Paris and surrounding communities on high alert.
            “Just about. I have a small list of things needing to be done before they get here. You win bowling tonight, and I won't ask anymore of you. You lose, and the list is yours. Feeling the pressure?” Uncle Max let out a wicked cackle.
            “I always feel the pressure. You know what would be hilarious? What if someone didn't read the fine print on the sweepstakes and thought they were going to Paris, France?” Dirk laughed at the image flashing in his mind of an angry person discovering how far off the mark they were. He wasn't one to mock people, but if someone didn't read all of the details, that was on them.
            Paris, Tennessee was a far cry from Paris, France. Despite how much  effort and money he'd invested into this whole plan, Dirk wasn't convinced it would turn out as well as Uncle Max hoped it would.



From the Author

No matter where she goes, USA Today Bestselling author Nikki Lynn Barrett hears voices in her head. Instead of calling her crazy and locking her up, her family realizes it's just a product of being an author and allows her to write the stories so that the voices shut up.
But they don't. And probably never will. There's no need to lock her up, Nikki knows she'll never escape the voices, not until each and every last story is written. And for every story she writes, about ten or more ideas pop up.

When she isn't slaving away at her computer writing books that will probably make you cry and keep you in suspense, Nikki plots to take over the world one book at a time. What? It's a sickness. One she can't escape!

Books aren't her only addiction, though. Nikki can be found making up parodies to drive her son crazy, and bantering back and forth with her husband, who somehow manages to steal her away from the fictional world she lives in all the time.

Nikki lives in Arizona with her husband and son, where she can be found using every creativity outlet she can find through music, photography, handcrafted things, and random interests that she may pick up from time to time.

If you want to learn more about the author who makes people cry for a living, check her out at www.nikkilynnbarrett.com


Places to find me on the web:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Name calling @Liz Flaherty

My apologies. I forgot to blog here this morning, my first fourth Monday ever. However, it's been a different kind of day. I also blog at Word Wranglers on Mondays. In my post today--see if you can keep up here--I mentioned my Gems in the Attic post from last week. My post was also on a controversial subject--ghostwriting. Feel free to check in there.

A commenter over there, frustrated with my slant on the subject, called me a "fame-whore." As a member of the political persuasion I am, I should be used to being called certain names. So far today I've seen whiner, snowflake, baby, crybaby, etc. and I barely blinked. "Fame-whore" threw me a little, but, hey, I'll get used to it.

But I won't like it. I think it's unnecessary and mean. It is something my kids saw go-to-your-room time for when they were young enough to not know how much pain it caused. So today my post is Author's Anonymous.

Hi, my name's Liz.

And that's all you need to call me.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lucky 7 With Karen Kelley by @JoanReeves


Please give a round of applause to USA Today Bestselling author Karen Kelley, the Lucky 7 interview for this month.

About Karen Kelley

Apparently, Karen has always had a secret desire to live the life of a Gypsy. She and her husband quit their jobs, sold their house, de-cluttered their lives, and moved into their 5th wheel RV.

Now they're traveling the United States. She works full time on her writing and spends her downtime walking on the beach or hiking in the mountains. Her motto has always been: Who says you can't have it all?

You can find Karen online at: Her website * Facebook * Twitter.

Forbidden Magic: Forbidden Series Book One by Karen Kelley

Forbidden Magic is the first book in USA Today Bestselling author Karen Kelley's Forbidden series, a world of witches and vampires, dark secrets, a kick-ass heroine and an irresistible hero.

The thirst for revenge has no time limit and Dominique has waited over one hundred years for hers.

Dominique was created from the love of her vampire mother and her witch father and a vision that foretold a demon uprising. She doesn't believe in legends but she'll use the Shadow Moon to exact her revenge on Theron, the vampire leader who destroyed her parents and forced her into hiding. But when she returns to New Orleans and the sultry French Quarter, she's forced to face the seductive lure of a past love that could ruin her well-laid plans.

Blaine vows to protect Dominique from his vengeful brother. He failed her once, never again, but memories of the love they once shared threaten to cloud his judgment. He wonders if he's put her in even more danger.

With the dawning of the Shadow Moon, Dominique's powers grow stronger. Secrets long buried are unearthed, and the dark forces surrounding Dominique and Blaine threaten to destroy them both.


Karen Kelley and the Lucky 7

1. When you were 18, what did you want to do with your life?
At that age, I felt as if I was already doing exactly what I wanted. I was married to Karl, and we had a little girl. A lot of people would say we married way too young, but we also grew up way too fast. Life isn't always easy. You learn from it, and try not to take everything too seriously.

2. When you hit 40, what did you want most in life?
We had two children, and we were both active with their school activities. By then, I had gotten my nursing license and was working as an LVN, then went on to get my EMT-Intermediate. I worked in a hospital, and then for an ambulance service. I thought my life was complete.

Then I discovered romance books. New doors were opened. I could travel to places and do things I'd only dreamed about. One day I told myself I could even write a book. Six years later, along with one fantastic critique group, I snail-mailed (it was 1999) Bachelor Party to Hilary Sares at Kensington. Three days later she called and made an offer. This was probably my fifth or sixth book. All the others had been rejected. I think Karl was more excited than I was. Well, at least as excited.

3. What genre would you like to try but haven't?
I actually have a Young Adult book that needs more polishing. I would love to try my hand at that. It's funny, after we sold the house and retired from the medical field (Karl was a licensed paramedic for 33 years), our friends asked where our first stop was going to be. That was easy, Disney World. Sometimes I think we're living our lives in reverse.

4. What's your writing day like now that you're living the RV lifestyle?
I usually try to answer all my emails. Well, most of them. My email box is overflowing! I drink my coffee as I plow through them. We'll go walking. Then I quickly clean my office--which means we make the bed. I'll prop pillows all around me, put in my ear buds, and get lost in the music. I usually write for a couple of hours. Take a break, then write some more after lunch. I aim for 4,000 words every day but I'm closer to 2,000-3,000. I have to add, now that I've gone Indie, Karl does all my covers, formatting etc. We've always worked as a team and, a lot of the time we were partners when we worked for the ambulance service, so why change a good thing?

5. What's the biggest drawback and the biggest plus about writing while traveling?
We usually move every couple of weeks during late spring and up until December/January. On our travel days we're busy taking down, driving, then setting up again. That usually doesn't take all day. We travel between 4-6 hours. On those days I usually focus more on the business side of writing. I guess the drawback would be losing writing time.

But the plus is so rewarding. Karl and I had traveled some, but never like this. Wow! Our United States are beautiful! And the people we meet have all been so nice. Right now, I'm writing this sitting at the desk in the living room (I only write books in the bedroom because it's quieter there) but I can see all these beautiful trees and there are birds everywhere. Oklahoma is a beautiful state. Friday we'll be in Missouri.


6. Let's visit Fantasy Land where anything is possible. Since you're constantly traveling from one scenic campground to the next, who would you pick to travel with you?
I thought about this long and hard. Maybe a history buff who could point out things we miss or maybe a marketing guru. Karl and I could always use help in that area. A tour guide might be fun since we sort of slid into the side of a mountain last year in Tennessee when our GPS took us up a horrible road. We had to stay in Chattanooga six weeks waiting on repairs. No, I think we'll just stumble along on our own making mistakes. Most of the time they're not as bad as the mountain incident, and we discover a beautiful waterfall, or a strange looking bird, or, like the other night, a river otter.

7. Last question before we leave Fantasy Land. Who would you cast as the heroine and hero to star in the movie version of the book?
The second book in my Forbidden series will be later this month so I'll focus on the first book, Forbidden Magic, which can be read for free in Kindle Unlimited. My heroine is half witch/half vampire. I think Jennifer Lawrence would make a great Dominique because she's tough and definitely Ian Somerhalder for my vampire hero, Blaine.

Thanks, Karen, for showing us what a writer's life on the road is all about.

Readers, add Forbidden Magic: Forbidden Series Book One by Karen Kelley to your Romance Library. You'll find it at Amazon.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She'd be delighted if you’d follow her on Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter.

Sign up for WordPlay, Joan's mailing list/readers newsletter, and receive a free book.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When are you going to write a real book? @Liz Flaherty

Because I have overextended myself severely on the blogging front lately, I've been digging out old posts. Old memories. I hope you enjoy this one. I wrote it in 2002, when Tam Gray from the Senior Women Web asked me to talk about writing romance.




I was fifteen, and I spent seven days of lunch periods, study halls and geometry class-times reading Gone With the Wind. I read it in bed at night, on the school bus and while the rest of the family watched Ed Sullivan and Bonanza. A teacher, the one who thought learning geometry might be a good idea, looked over my shoulder and said, “So. When are you going to read a real book?”

How insulting! At least I was reading, for heaven’s sake. I had classmates who hadn’t read a complete book since the first grade adventures of Dick and Jane, and I wasn’t sure they’d finished those.

In spite of insults and never mastering the world of theorems and angles and whatever else geometry had to offer, I grew up. I found out the “happily ever after” promised by the books of my choosing was, while not impossible to attain, difficult to keep. You don’t just get to sit around the fire and be happy; you have to chop the wood and stack it neatly and let it dry for a while before you toss it onto a little pile of kindling where the flame may or may not catch the first time. And even after it starts burning well, you have to continue puffing at it to keep it alive.

When I decided I needed to write a book, it didn’t require a lot of thought to know what kind of book I would write. It would have a heroine, a hero, and a happy ending complete with lust and fire—but the flame wouldn’t catch the first time. It would almost burn, then a gust of wind would come along, and then just when I thought it would take off for sure, rain would hit it by the bucketful. I knew I needed to write a romance. I’d read hundreds of them, after all. How hard could it be?

Several unsold manuscripts and two frustrated agents later, I was forced to concede that it could be pretty hard. I joined Romance Writers of America (RWA®) to learn what I was doing wrong and discovered there were at least 8000 of us trying to fill what seemed to be about four publisher slots per month. I also found out I was doing everything wrong. Did I mention that this business of writing a romance was really, really hard?

Finally, however, all the stars were evidently in the right place, or else I was just holding my mouth right that day, and I sold a book. Always Annie was released in June of 1999. Oh, my goodness, what fun it was. There were newspaper articles, reviews—all good but one—and even some fan mail. I had my 15 minutes of fame, and I loved every second.

Well, maybe not every second. There were book-signings, which I didn’t love at all. They were never the way they are on television, where the author wears a designer outfit that costs more than my advance, signs so many books her hand gets cramped, and “her people” are standing by to whisk her into a limousine when she gets tired.

I drove myself in my Chevy, wearing a little black dress I bought on sale (“little” being relative—it was smaller than the tent in the sporting goods department), and signed anywhere from six books (the people in the store kept walking around my table saying, “Liz Who?” and “Where’s the bathroom?”) to 65.

And at every book-signing, someone picked up my 174 pages of pride, sniffed, and said, “So. Why don’t you write a real book?”

I wanted to say, “As opposed to the artificial one in your hands?” though I never did. Writing romance means doing research. If your protagonist is a teacher without extraneous means of wealth, you probably shouldn’t have her driving a Mercedes and wearing cashmere. I remember reading a book in which the desperately poor heroine drove an old, rusty Corvette. Not only do old Corvettes not rust (they’re fiberglass), they’re never really old—just classic and something baby-boomer males yearn to own and brag about. If she’d sold it, she wouldn’t have been desperately poor anymore.

Writing romance means paying attention to trends but not becoming enslaved by them, because by the time your book’s finished so will be the trend. You must learn all the rules and play by some of them and you must know the difference.

Writing romance is like parenthood. You see all those pretty book covers, hear about all those six-figure advances, and go to one of those conferences where everyone’s thin and you think, Oh, this is what I want to do. It’s just like when your best friend has her first baby and you don’t and it is just so cute with the curls and the neat little outfits and the sweet little shoes with miniature swooshes on their sides.

Well.

When you get into romance writing, you find out the pretty covers are only as good as what’s between them, most writers don’t earn a living wage, and sitting at a computer eating candy bars because you can’t think of a thing to write won’t make you thin. It’s just exactly like when you have your own baby and he’s bald as an egg and wears a diaper and an undershirt everywhere except church (and maybe then if he kept you awake all night), and changes shoe sizes on the way home from the store. Yup, just like it.

Addictive as all get out.

My sister-in-law once said motherhood was the only job she ever had that she never wanted to quit. I said she was crazy, because I only had one more child than she did and I wanted to quit at least once every single day. But there was that benefit package that kept me punching the motherhood clock: sticky kisses, “I love you thiiiiiissss much,” and someone who always thinks you’re wonderful. I know romance writers who never want to quit writing. I, however, want to quit with each rejection letter that comes my way. But it’s those benefits again: my husband showing off my published book, my daughter keeping me company at book-signings, fan letters saying, “I loved your book. It made my day.”

So, for better or worse, with writer’s block or with the words flowing faster than my fingers can type them, I’m a romance writer. Over my shoulder, academics are saying scornfully, “So. When are you going to write a real book?”

I’m not. Bald babies in undershirts and diapers are as lovely as those in cute little outfits. You get to see their fat little feet, their dimpled knees, and the palm-fitting shape of their heads. You spend years and years researching them, lighting the fires of their souls and imaginations and puffing to keep the fires going, making sure their insides are full and healthy. Teaching them about rules and pain and joy. Crossing your fingers and praying and doing whatever else you can to get them a happy ending.

Just like writing romance. What could be better?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

FOOD OF THE GODS @kathleenlawless

I always think of wine as the nectar of the gods, so was thrilled recently to discover chocolate, from its botanical name theobrana cacao, means literally 'food of the gods', or 'gods food'.  What could be more perfect than pairing my two favorite food groups?

Since romance novels speak to all aspects of sensuality; how about a meal, dessert, or bottle of wine shared between hero and heroine as they get to know each other?  A type of foreplay, if you will.

Chocolate boosts serotonin levels, the 'feel good' hormone, and wine relaxes us; a perfect prelude for what is sure to follow.  With that in mind I selflessly concocted some perfect pairings, which entailed hours of painstaking research.

Champagne goes with everything, but for the sinful taste sensation experience sip it while nibbling chocolate-dipped berries.  The combination of bittersweet chocolate and tangy berries highlights the subtle fruitiness of the Champagne.  Those bubbles will literally dance across your tongue.

Cabernet Savuvignon, with its big bursts of currrants and black cherrry marries beautifully with the nutty, fudgy flavors of a chocolate brownie.

Pinot Grigio, with its punch acidity and crisp finis, complements the creamy sweetness of white chocolate where the tangy lemon and honeysuckle notes of the wine enhance the aromatic flavors found in the chocolate.

Pinot Noir, always my go-to wine, is excellent with both sweet and savory dishes.  Its versatility and fruit-forward flavor will heighten the creamy notes of a chocolate cream pie and send your taste buds soaring.

Shiraz, with its hints of clove and pepper, performs excellently alongside a Mexican chocolate pudding with hints of chili powder and lingering creamy finish.

Light-bodied and aromatic Reisling is the perfect companion to chocolate cheesecake.  The wine's acidity cuts through the richness of the dessert and brings out its fudgy flavors.

These are just a few of the grape varieties lovingly tended by my hero and heroine in GRACE'S FOLLY, set in California wine country and on sale this week only for $1.99.

Go ahead.  Indulge your senses with a great romance novel, a glass of wine, a sweet treat, and discover how things really do come in 3's.  Better yet sign up for my newsletter and receive a free erotic novella, THE PLEASURE CLUB, which reads best with a glass of port and a square of pure dark chocolate.  Yummmmmm!




Monday, May 15, 2017

The Things Authors Say

As authors, we often look to other writers for inspiration. I thought I’d share some of my favorite writing-related quotes.

Writers on Writing:

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. - Douglas Adams

I love being a writer. What I can't stand is the paperwork. - Peter de Vries

If you start with a bang, you won't end with a whimper. - T.S. Eliot

There are three rules for writing. Unfortunately, no one can agree what they are. - Somerset Maugham

The first chapter sells the book; the last chapter sells the next book. - Mickey Spillane

If the sex scene doesn't make you want to do it - whatever it is they're doing - it hasn't been written right. - Sloan Wilson


Writers on Editing:

Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good. - William Faulkner

It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly. - C. J. Cherryh

Never throw up on an editor. - Ellen Datlow


Writers on Critics/Reviews:

Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs. - Christopher Hampton

It's none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way. - Ernest Hemingway



Writing Self-Deprecation:

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous. - Robert Benchley

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within. - Gustave Flaubert

Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for book publication. - Fran Lebowitz


A Writer’s Obsession:

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to. - Somerset Maugham

When writing a novel, that’s pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.' - Neil Gaiman

A writer never has a vacation. For a writer life consists of either writing or thinking about writing. - Eugene Ionesco


Just for Fun:

He was such a bad writer, they revoked his poetic license. - Milton Berle

~ ~ ~

Now it’s back to the galley edits on my upcoming, June 16th, release, The Vessel. A sci-fi romance, this book is quite a change for me. I hope you’ll come back next month to take a closer look. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek meme!



Until next month, stay happy, healthy and well read!

Nancy



Friday, May 12, 2017

Research takes many forms by Jan Scarbrough

When I look back at the twenty-three novels and novellas I’ve written, I see I’ve done a variety of research.

First-hand research is always fun. Take the trips to Professional Bull Rider events that translated into scenes in Kentucky Cowboy, Brody, and Mercer. Oh, and last summer’s after-the-fact trip to a Montana dude ranch has given me more inspiration for upcoming books.

Kentucky Blue Bloods took me on a trip to horse country in the Bluegrass where I fed peppermints to the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

For my two novellas set in Christmas 1968 and Christmas 1969, I used the Internet to refresh my memory about that time. Bottom line, although I remembered those years as a high school student, I’d forgotten how hard they were. We think we have it tough today. It’s always been that way, I think.


And of course, for books like Kentucky Flame, I do research every week when I take my riding lesson and get a horse fix riding an American Saddlebred.

My Lord Raven has certainly been my most researched book. It took me many years of research into the medieval time period. I put the manuscript away (five chapters) but eventually took it out and finished it. Currently, I’m researching a sequel that I call Raven’s Vow.

So, what books do I currently have in my research pile? Here are a few, and you can see they are varied:


Even contemporary romance requires a little research. It’s part of the process.

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