Friday, July 27, 2007

Okay, it's my turn and I'm running a contest


August 31 is the day both LOVE WITH A PROPER RANCHER and CUTTER’S LAW hit the stands . RANCHER will available through Amazon and CUTTER makes his debut at The Wild Rose Press.
So I’m celebrating with a Texas contest. Yee haw!!!!!!!
How do you enter?
1. Answer the following questions:
Who was the first president of The Republic of Texas
What is the state flower?
In what year did Texas become a republic?
2. Email me your answers at and put Contest in the subject line.
On September 2 I’ll draw three winners from my husband’s famous Stetson.
First prize: a nifty Texas gift basket
Third Prize: A signed copy of LOVE WITH A PROPER RANCHER and a download of CUTTER’S LAW.
The contest will run the entire month of August. Hope to hear from a lot of you. And oh yes, be sure to let me know if you want to be included on my mailing list.

And don't forget, you can now order REDEMPTION at Amazon.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Threat of Darkness and Letting Go

So I had a book release yesterday - Threat of Darkness.

Mei is a Warrior for the Balance. She stands between good and evil. So when her boss tells her she's got to head to Tir na nOg to help the Fae she is most displeased. Mei's mother Aine, the queen of the Fae, betrayed and exiled her millennia ago. Or so she's been led to believe.

But Aine was misled by her own sister, and suddenly everything Mei has thought was true for thousands of years falls down around her ears as she looks up to see the face of her husband. Her first husband, a man she'd thought was dead.

Jayce MacTavish is surprised to find that his wife, thought millennia dead, is alive, but his joy is tempered by the realization that she's got another mate.

Mei, Card and Jayce must find a way to be together as three while a threat from the Dark Fae and a new enemy darkens the horizon.

TOD taught me a few things - most importantly, you have to let go and write the book that wants to be written.

I started with an idea of this female warrior who met Jayce by accident. She was half human and half Fae, bad Dark Fae, blah blah blah.

But it wasn't working. I'd get like 15K in and it wouldn't go. So I changed Mei a bit because Aine, the queen of the Fae wanted to be in the story more. I re-wrote from scratch but this guy, Mei's partner, kept not wanting to leave when he was supposed to. He was in love with Mei and wasn't having me just give her to Jayce.

At the same time, a minor character I had, the warden of the demon prison Mei was in for a thousand years, wouldn't go either. I had a full blown riot on my hands because my damned characters and story wouldn't behave.

So. I gave in. I wrote a menage so Card and Jayce could share the page, I realized Aine was Mei's mother not her aunt and the bad guy wasn't so much the Dark Fae but this other dude, Xethan. Once I gave in and wrote the story as it wanted to be written, the book was finished in just a few weeks.

Sometimes as a writer, I have an idea and the book follows that pretty closely - Stripped, Triad, etc.. Other times, I start off with one thing and end up with something else - Enforcer was this way too, Tri Mates, etc. I love that. I have to say I love it when I just let go and write.

It's a balance, finding the place where you need to whip your idea into submission and when you need to just let the idea take over and allow the book to meander. Each book I write enables me to recognize the difference a bit more. It's like magic sometimes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

REDEMPTION now available

My romantic suspense, REDEMPTION, is nowe available in print. Order it at Amazon, The Wild Rose Press and soon, Barnes & Noble. Ethan Caine, my flawed hero, is based on an actual person, a friend of my son's.

Lisa Mallory’s marriage from hell ended with Charles’s still unsolved murder. Now, four years later, her life finally back on track, her eight-year-old son is kidnapped and not returned, despite the ransom payment. Her only option is Ethan Caine, a burned-out Special Ops warrior for whom she has nothing but contempt. But when passion explodes between them in the exotic environment of the lush Quintana Roo jungle, they wonder if it’s possible to dare to hope for the future.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Firsts and Favorites

Thought that picture might get your attention!! It's from a movie staring Hugh Jackman and since I'm mentioning one of his movies in this blog I figured I'd post the photo, too. :)

Today is my blog day and I have to admit I had a hell of a time coming up with a topic. Brain freeze! So I decided to do the lazy thing and try something I’ve done before on other blogs to introduce myself more to readers. I’m calling this a “firsts” list and a “favorites” list. So here goes!

1) My favorite spooky movie of all time The Exorcist

2) My favorite actress of all time is Katherine Hepburn.

3) My favorite actor of all time is Lawrence Olivier.

4) Favorite romance movie of all time (now this one is really hard, but I made a decision) Paperback Hero staring Hugh Jackman.

5) First limo ride in ’86. Second and the best limo ride in ’91.

6) I never went to a prom or a homecoming! Boo. Hiss. I'll bet there are a few of us out there like this.

7) My first date was two days after my high school graduation. No joke. And it was a blind date to boot!

8) Worst thunerstorm I’ve ever experienced was when I was twelve. It rained torents for two hours. For an hour of that time the lightning was so bad that it was continuous, non stop, and with no wait between flash and thunder. I’ll never forget that storm as long as I live.

9) My first Perrier water was on the first date I ever had. ☺

10) Weirest snowstorm I ever experienced was in Colorado one July. No joke.

11) Longest walk at one pop that I ever did while doing archaeology in order to see sites was seven miles one way.

12) Scariest place on earth for me? The South Bridge Tunnels in Edinburgh, Scotland.

So there are some more weird firsts and facts from the chronicals of Denise A. Agnew. Do you have some intriguing firsts to share? I'll pick a winner later this evening. Winner gets two decks of Ellora's Cave playing from '06 and one from '07.

Denise A. Agnew

Monday, July 23, 2007

Torc's Salvation Win

My co-written author ego, Melany Logen, shared with Mechele Armstrong won 3rd place in the futuristic/sci-fi/fantasy category of the 2006 Passionate Plume for Torc's Salvation.

Congrats to all the winners and finalists in the 2006 Passionate Plume! *Tosses colored confetti*

Until later~

Friday, July 20, 2007

Authors taking a chance versus reader expectations

In the past few days there's been a lot of discussion about a mystery/romance author who did something in her latest book that outraged many loyal fans of her series. Read about it here and here. I haven't read the books so I don't know what it is, but just from the rants and commments, I can take a guess, and I know I'd be pretty furious about it, too, if I had invested the time and emotional energy in reading the series.

It got me to thinking about what authors owe their readers, aside from the very best story they can create. The issue is particularly pressing on me right now because I'm working on a story that is very different from anything I've done before. It's a story that's important to me. As I've written it I've come to care for the hero and heroine very much. The story celebrates a kind of heroism that is very relevant right now.

But... I've built a reputation for doing certain kinds of books and while I've written in multiple genres, there are things all my stories have in common. This story doesn't have some of those things, although it will have a HEA. Since my books are erotic romance and I take the romance part seriously, it would be breaking a covenant with readers if I didn't have that.

Still, readers looking for the sort of elements my stories normally have may be disappointed. When and if the story is completed and contracted I will try very hard to be sure potential buyers know that this story is different and why I felt the need to write it.

But I also have plans for an entire new series that I think will seriously please the people who've bought my other books.

-- Katherine Kingston

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - GRUMP!

Thirteen Things I'd Rather Be Doing
by Author, TJ Michaels

You know, I think I'm in the grumpiest mood I've been in for a long time. Bottom line is I haven't had any time off from the day job since February while other folks in the office are taking weeks at a time. Why? I'm actually not sure. So, I'm tired, physically and mentally tired. Sitting at my desk with vertigo, feeling like I've got the blow chunks is most unpleasant.

However, it did get me to thinking of other things I'd rather be doing. Of course writing is at the top of the list, but that's a given. So here are a few other things I'd like to be doing right now:

1. Looking out over the Grand Canyon (minus the heat, of course ;D)
2. Napping curled up with a teddy bear
3. Winning the lottery!
4. Playing golf (and doing it rather badly)
5. Packing for a trip to Seattle
6. Interviewing for another job
7. Better yet, accepting an offer for another job!
8. Kissing a hunky guy that's actually MINE
9. Enjoying my daughter's cinnamon rolls with my feet kicked up
10. Enjoying my daughter's iced green tea with ginger drink (feet still kicked up)
11. Playing WarCraft III with my son
12. Working on a new book with my writing partner, Grey Sinclaire
13. Relaxing while reading a book by any of the Ladies

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The cowboys are coming, the cowboys are coming

Finally, after hiding behind those corral fences and mixing it up in the barns, the cowboys of White Tail, Texas willl be making their appearances. First up is Ryan Cutter, hero of Love with a Proper Rancher. Watch for the print edition coing in august. When Paieg Cavanaugh runs out on a wedding gone bad and ends up in a tiny West texas town, the first eprsobn she emets is gorgeous, sexy Ryan Cutter, and they can't stand the sight of each other. But love and hate are two asides of teh same coin, and with a lotta hot sex thrown in, Paige and Ryan are soon making incendiary music together. Until,. that is, the evil jilted fiance shows up determined to make as much trouble as possible.

The comes Morgan Cutter, White Tail's chief of police, refugee from a bad marriage and determined never to fall prey to a woman again. Until he meet's his sister-in-law's best friend, Allison Moore, and skyrockets go off between the two of them. But they have a lot of roadblocks to get through before this story ahs a happy ending, including Allie's job in "the city," Morgan's ex-wife and the stupidest thugs this side of the moon.

And then there's sexy Tate Donovan, hero of One Hot Texas Night. He's locked in battle over opwnership of The Yellow Rose, one of the biggest ranches in West Texas, with Abby Culhane, his stepsister. King Donovan's will is pretty ironclad no matter how hard the two principals try to break it. But while they fight over who owns what, the temprature between them heats up, until it explodes One Hot Texas Night.

Watch for the release dates.


Hear ye! Hear ye! A huge, honkin' contest in celebration of my paranormal August releases from Ellora's Cave and Samhain Publishing! Serati's Flame, Vampire Council of Ethics Book 2 hits the wires on August 21st, and Egyptian Voyage - A Torrid Tarot Novel breaks out from EC on the 29th.

Whaddaya playing for? For the chance to get some of these awesome books from all of these authors! If we get three winners, you'll split the books. If you're the only winner...YOU GET 'EM ALL! The Night Whispers Authors and the Dynamic Trio are all fabulous multi-published writers, the hottest and most innovative in the industry. Wooo! Way to go, ladies!

  • Kate Hill's Savage Amusement from Changeling Press
  • Mechele Armstrongs Blood Lines 4: Night's Journey from Loose Id
  • Anna J. Evans' Fang Shui from Lady Aibell Publishing
  • Ashlyn Chase's Vampire Vintage from Ellora's Cave
  • Mary Winter's Polar Heat from Ellora's Cave
  • And one of my new releases, of course!

Along with books from Shelley Munro, Lauren Dane, and Denise Agnew 'ta boot!

So what do you have to do to get in on this madness? The authors named in next month's newsletter will place a special logo (I like to call him the Flaming Tut) somewhere on their website. Simply tell us where you found it. In the case an author has put forth a trivia question, just give the answer. The trivia questions will be in August's TJ On A Tangent, which we'll post at midnight on July 31st.

Now for the rules:
1) Contest starts August 1st and ends with the release of my Torrid Tarot novel, Egyptian Voyage, on August 29th. You have a whole month to play and enjoy the goodies from the authors who so graciously offered to be a part of this event. Some have free chapters up on their sites, other have awesome excerpts.

2) You must find ALL the logos and correctly answer ALL the trivia questions for ALL the authors. Yeah, it sounds like a lot but you have a month and this is a LOT of books, which means a lot of hard work, brain wracking, and creative energy went into these books (and it's royalties these generous authors won't receive).

3) Send all contest entries to Put all information in ONE e-mail. To make it a little easier, simply copy and paste the info below and use it for your entry.

a) Author name: (put author's name)
b) I found a logo: (put where you found it)
c) The trivia question is: (put the question here)
The trivia answer is: (put the answer here)
d) If I win, I'd like my books in the following format: (put .pdf, .html, .rb, etc.., here)

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Feeding My Wild Side

J.C., why are you laughing? [squinting in J.C.'s direction]

I have a wild side. I really do! With two kids, a couple of part-time jobs, and a husband who stresses out if every detail isn't planned down to the millisecond, my wild woman just doesn't get out very often anymore.

Except in my books.

It's actually fun to see the looks on my friends' and loved ones' faces after they've read one of my books. It's that little cock of the head, the raised eyebrow and the hesitation when they comment, "But you were always so quiet," (Note the past tense.)

And you know, the books of mine they've read so far aren't all that hot. They're dark, bloody, gory, and have maybe one hot sex scene, but nothing drastic.

I'm working on the drastic. Heh heh heh.

My take on it is, when you grow up like I did, with a chronic disease, you find some way to indulge your wild side. You have to. You must.

Or you will go insane. Period.

Dylan Thomas said, "A born writer is born scrofulous. His career is an accident dictated by physical or circumstantial disabilities."

I started out lying awake in bed at night, spinning stories in my head to entertain myself. With little else to do during the day, I read like a demon.

Then, I started to write.

My elementary school teachers would send my essays and artwork home with notes attached to them. Kind, delicately worded notes, but expressing enough concern for my welfare (dare I say, "mental stability?") that I remember at least once or twice getting the proverbial "talking to" from my parents. In high school, I was given an assignment to write an essay from Holden Caulfield's point of view.

Ya think I scored an A on that one? You bet your ass I did.

Although at the time my Mom scolded me for the foul language I used in it, I recently found out that she has kept it carefully stored in her files all these years along with other early samples of my writing.

So yeah, I guess she felt it was her moral duty as a parent to figuratively wash my mouth out with soap, but secretly, Mom and Dad were (and are) proud of me. I can easily picture her closing her bedroom door, filing the paper away, then pumping the air with her fist in a silent "YESSSS!"

Lately I've been restless to go back and find that fearless girl who held nothing back in her writing, who had nothing to lose. After years of marriage and parenting, I can easily see, now, how a woman can lose her sense of self.

With my upcoming novella WILDISH THINGS, I've plunged back in.

Okay, okay. I'm knee deep.

But honey, the water's risin'.


ABHAINN'S KISS, available now from
Nov. 1: WILDISH THINGS, Love and Lore anthology,

Photo: Gordon Thye

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Are we having fun yet?

I just got back last night from RWA National Conference. Yes, I skipped the 'big' award ceremony. I usually do, even if I stay in town. I hate getting dressed up. I usually wear black jeans and something glittery for a blouse. That's it. Plus I don't care who wins. Well, I do care about GH people. They get such a charge out of it. But the RITAs aren't very meaningful for me. I mean, how many times can you watch the same people get the same award?

Of course, the big Talk at conference was all the proposed changes. I don't know if the BOD is truly ignorant of how bad their wording is or if they're incredibly smart. I know some folks who advise the board, and I've come to the conclusion that the Board is not very smart but that those who advise them are cognizant of the implications of what they're proposing, especially if chapters are required to follow National bylaws. I won't get into the details here -- if you're a writer, you may care about it. If you're a reader, you don't.

And I think that's what most writers forget about ... readers really don't care if an author is with an "RWA-recognized publisher" or if a book is available from site A or site B. A reader wants a Damn Good Book, and if they can't find it in one spot, they'll look for it in another. They don't care who publishes it or if it won a particular award.

They want a good book.

So if any writer is reading this, don't waste energy on angst. Use the energy to write the Good Book. Your (supposed) professional organization may not recognize your accomplishments but your readers will thank you.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Friday The Thirteenth!

Friday the 13th

Friggatriskaidekaphobia, or the fear of Friday the 13th is alive and well in today’s society. Why is Friday the 13th considered unlucky? When did it first start? No one can say for sure, but the fact remains that many cultures consider the day to be a very unlucky one.

There are, however, many popular theories about the origin of the Friday the 13th jinx. Most common is the bible story of the Last Supper. It is thought that Judas was the 13th at supper and he betrayed Jesus. Many refute this tale, saying that Judas wasn’t there as he had left in order to betray Jesus, leaving only 12 dinner guests.

There is a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla and the uninvited 13th guest, Loki, who causes havoc with his arrival.

On Friday 13th, 1306, King Phillip of France arrested the Knight Templar and began torturing and executing them.

In Britain, public hangings traditionally took place on Fridays and there were supposedly 13 steps leading up to the gallows.

Some people believe that Eve tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday. But that’s a whole other story.

However it came about, the fact remains that the Friday the 13th superstition is alive and well in the world today. Most high-rises lack a 13th floor. Airplanes have no 13th aisle. Hospitals, hotels and apartment buildings regularly have no number 13, and many cities don’t have a 13th Avenue or Street.

Whatever you believe, or don’t believe, I hope you have a fabulous Friday the 13th, free from all troubles and fears.

Check out:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cowboys and Firefighters and Mini-donuts... Oh, my!

Every year in July, my beloved city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada demonstrates why it’s nicknamed “Cowtown.” (My buddies in Houston like to call Calgary “Little Houston,” but I don’t think we’re at that level.)

The Calgary Stampede bills itself as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” and is ten days of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo competition, midway rides, stage shows, concerts, agricultural competitions, chuck wagon races, First Nations exhibitions, and FREE pancake breakfasts around the city. Last year, 1.2 million people attended the Calgary Stampede, which is pretty impressive since Calgary’s population is just shy of 1 million.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Calgary Stampede. On the one hand, work grinds to a halt because everyone’s out Stampeding…on company time, no less. On the other hand, out come the Western shirts, Wranglers, cowboy boots, 10-gallon hats, and belt buckles that can deflect bullets. Really, I kid you not. And not to mention the fringe. Fringe, fringe, fringe…everywhere fringe! Ugh!

So, the thirteen reasons for my love/hate relationship:
  1. Cowboys. Long, lean, and they work with their hands. *sigh*

  2. Hy’s Steakhouse hosts a barbeque lunch with AAA beef tenderloin as the feature to benefit the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Centre. Naturally, a fire truck loaded with firefighters, some of whom pose for the Hotstuff calendar, drops by the event. Yeah, I occasionally drool.

  3. Jeans at work. Actually, it’s supposed to be Western wear, but I loosely translate that into blue jeans all week. Oh, the money I save on dry cleaning.

  4. Mini-donuts. They’re small, they’re deep-fried right in front of your eyes, they’re sugar-powdered, and there’s a reason why 2 million mini-donuts are consumed every Stampede.

  5. Deep-fried sweet potato fries. Better than regular fries. I guarantee it.

  6. Fazackerley’s Fudge & Candy Inc. The first time I saw this, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

  7. Free food! For the entire ten days, there are free pancake (and bacon and eggs and sausage) breakfasts throughout the city. No brown bagging for this gal during Stampede.

  8. Vendor lunches. Open bar, ribs, wings, corn on the cob, steak. I have at least two of these every Stampede.

  9. With all this food, I say to hell with the exercise regime because it’s only for ten days out of the year. Thus, by the end of Stampede, I have to wear dresses because the jeans can no longer button up.

  10. The bands: Finger Eleven, Three Days Grace, Jann Arden, Keisha Chanté, Hinder, Good Charlotte, Live, Sloan, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, Blue October. And it’s all FREE with admission to the fair grounds.

  11. I get an extra day off in July because of the Stampede Parade. (Not that I go and watch it, but I do enjoy that extra day to sleep in.) And most bosses will look the other way if your lunch stretches into two, three, sometimes four hours…if you come back at all.

  12. Fireworks. Every night. Who doesn’t love fireworks?

  13. The MBAs come out in droves during Stampede because the unofficial motto is “Drink triple, see double, think single.”

Another Trivia Contest!

The trivia question for this post: According to my usage, what does MBA stand for?

I'll pull a name from all the correct entries and send a prize package consisting of a print copy of my current release, bookmarks, and an Ellora's Cave RT cowboy card deck. Once again, you can post the answer in the Comments section or email me directly. Good luck!

The winner will be announced at my next regularly scheduled blog day, Thursday, August 9, 2007.

Ann Bruce

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tranformers Trivia Contest Winner!

So, there are apparently a lot of Transformers fans out there (or y'all have great Googling skills), but everyone who entered got it right.

The Academy Award-winning American citizen whose final movie is Transformers was Orson Welles, who provided the voice of Unicron. Welles was also the director and star of Citizen Kane, the movie acknowledged in 2007 as the number one greatest US movie of all time.

And the winner is...(drum roll, please) Leah of Wilkesboro, NC! Leah, please send your snail mail addy to ann @ annbruce . net (no spaces).

Thanks to everyone for entering!

Ann Bruce

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Settler's Mine: The Rivals has released!

Orion and Balt, rival bounty hunters, unexpectedly meet up on Settler's Mine to bring in a woman, Layla, whose retrieval will set up the finder for life. It's a race to see who will find her first.

Layla, who's not what she appears, is hiding in plain sight, but it takes a while for them to recognize her. When they do, they are stunned to find their heartstones glowing, marking them all as mates. All three of them.

Now Orion and Balt must learn to work together if there is any hope of saving Layla from both a rich, ruthless man and their government. They must also learn to accept each other as the threesome they were always meant to be.

Welcome to Settler's Mine, where rivals become mates...

Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Male/male sexual practices, m/m/f ménage.

Mechele Armstrong aka Lany of Melany Logen

Winner of copy of Destiny's Slaves

Jane is the winner of a copy of Destiny's Slaves.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my rant and respond.

Jane, please email me at to give me your mailing address.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Wineries and book signings

My brother and his girlfriend came out to visit this past weekend, and because she's a real oenophile, we decided to take them up to the Finger Lakes and do the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, stopping at various wineries along the west side of the lake, for wine tastings and shopping in the winery gift stores.

As we were coming home, and as the designated driver who'd been drinking grape juice, I was the only one awake in the car, I started thinking about the similarities between wine tastings and book signings. In both cases, you're offering a fun experience for someone (a wine tasting, versus meeting an author or listening to an author's talk) that will hopefully encourage them to buy something (a bottle of wine or a copy of your book).

So, what did I learn?

1 - Talk about more than just the book. The winery where we purchased the most had a friendly staff member who talked about the history of the area, the various types of grapes used, how wine was produced, etc. The second-most had a friendly staff member who offered gossipy information on how the wine names and label art were created. The winery that got the least business from us limited their discussion to the qualities of the wine, and what foods it went with best.

2 - Customize your message. All the wineries offered a standard selection of wines to taste, but gave you the list of all available wines, and would pour you anything you wanted to try. So, if you have multiple books, slant your discussion to the ones that most suit your audience.

3 - Advertising and name recognition. One of the wineries was uniformly agreed to have the worst wines, by all attendees. (Not *bad* wine, I point out...just not as good as the others.) However, they also had huge signs up and down the lakeshore road, and made a big deal out of what honors they had received. So if you knew nothing else about wine, you'd know they were a local winery offering tours, and might want to stop in, where you wouldn't stop in at some of the others unless you were doing the whole wine trail. Usually book stores are responsible for advertising, but you can bring blow-ups of your book covers, or a poster saying "Author signing today" to put out at your table. And mention your awards. Readers might not know what the specific awards are or what they mean, but they'll be impressed that your books have won awards.

4 - Offer something for the non-reader. I mentioned I was the designated driver, so didn't actually sample any of the wines. One winery had a fudge tasting in addition to the wine. One poured me "samples" of grape juice, so I could sip along with everyone else. One offered cheese tastings. I bought fudge, and their consideration in offering me juice inspired other members of my party to buy more wine than they otherwise would have. So, offering something to occupy the non-reading members of a shopping party will encourage the shopper to stay longer, and buy more of your books.

5 - Tastes vary. Finally, remember that, like wine, reading tastes vary. Some members of our party wanted dry wine, some wanted sweet, some wanted red, some wanted white. Offering a dry red wine to someone looking for a sweet white does no good, no matter how fantastic the wine is. It's not what they want. Some people want erotic romance, some want fantasy, some want paranormal, some want something you might not write. It's not a reflection on you or the quality of your books -- it's simply a matter of matching what you write with what they want to read.

Monday, July 9, 2007


On July 6th, Kathleen Woodiwiss passed away. And romance lost one of its pioneers.

Love her or hate her, Woodiwiss is considered a founder of the modern romance genre. She actually *gasp* followed the hero and heroine into the bedroom.

Quite a number of people who talk about romance say, "The first romance book I read was by Kathleen Woodiwiss...and I was hooked!" I've heard that over and over again throughout my time spent discussing and writing romance.

I myself grew up on a steady of Woodiwiss (along with other genres). I can still remember a relative not wanting to lend me one of her books because she didn't feel I was old enough to read it. Luckily Mom did, and she took me to the library to check the book out.

I became hooked on the happily ever after in Woodiwiss and in the books that came after her. It's why I read and write a lot of romance.

Thank you, Mrs. Woodiwiss for sharing your stories with the world and influencing a generation of people. Like me.

Mechele Armstrong aka Lany of Melany Logen

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Contest Winner!

Is Jaynie R!! Please email me at wilder @ jcwilder . com to get your book. :) Next contest begins today - post a comment on any entry between today and next Saturday to win a free ebook download.

The Fine Art of Procrastination...

The title of this post may be deceiving. I'm not a big procrastinator. In fact, my best friend lovingly calls me a hopeless overachiever. Which, I suppose I am, and have always been. I'm the type of person who finds her edits when she gets home at 8 pm one night and stays up until 1am just to get them done and off her plate. (Yeah, it would've bugged me just sitting out there in the living room, knowing I had to get them done...sigh!)

That same best friend and my husband also call me a hopeless planner. I can go with the flow when needed, but the planning saves me from stressing. A good example - two RT's ago I pulled out my little Excel spreadsheet that listed all the things I HAD to be at (along with location and any other needed info), as well as things I MIGHT want to attend. Needless to say, my go with the flow roomie

Now, in my own defense, she soon found out that I didn't need that schedule glued to my hand, and I certainly didn't follow it like the gospel. But having everything in one spot where I could refer to it IF I needed to, took the stress out of it for me. (Although she still likes to tease me about it!) Also, I hate to be late - to anywhere - so I have a tendency to be early. Again - less stress for me.

So, why am I sharing my quirks with the world today, on the eve of my plane trip to RWA Nationals? Because I haven't done a damn thing to get ready - EEK! And my stress has begun.

Normally, I would already have a list of items I need to take, a list of To Do's that have to be done before I leave and most everything packed and ready to go, so the last day before the trip would be blessedly stress free. Well... Uh... What in the freaking hell happened?!?

That's the problem - I'm not quite sure. And in my true overachiever fashion, it would bug me until I tried to figure it out. So, here goes...

- I'm on a deadline - Vision of Seduction, my 2nd book for Kensington, writing as Cassie Ryan is due on August 15th, and I still have a good chunk to write. I've been writing every day, trying for at least 2K so I can make headway on that.
- My son just got back from band camp, and my house has been overrun by 13-year-olds swimming, spending the night and generally being, well... 13-year-olds, not to mention wading through his mound of laundry I found still freshly wadded inside his suitcase. Don't get me wrong, they are all good kids, but the noise and activity level in my house has increased exponentially.
- To avoid having to get a part time job which would eat into my writing time, I signed up to be a Pampered Chef consultant and held my first show a few days ago. I don't cook, which I was pleasantly surprised that you DON'T have to do for this. I can make the recipes during the show, and I love talking to people, and I really do like their products - so it's a really good fit. But still - it does take time.
- I did have my nails done yesterday in preparation for Nationals, and I meant to do sooo much more, but it just never happened. I was dragging a bit yesterday, so I just ended up hanging out with the kiddo and the hubby (and the other various and sundry 13-year-olds hanging around our
- I sent out my monthly Tina Gerow newsletter earlier this week. That thing always takes me a minimum of four hours.
- I'm having both my Tina Gerow website and my Cassie Ryan website redone by Stonecreek Media, so I've been talking to them on both of those.
- I just had my book video for Ceremony of Seduction made (you can go see it at It's wonderful :) ScrapFairy designs did a great job!

A thousand other things I've done over the past few weeks are flitting through my mind, but they are just making me more tired, so I'm not going to list them and exhaust you too! :) But I think I at least have my answer. I think I need a freaking vacation!! LOL.

Anyway, here I am, in stressville, with too much to do to stop for a nice butterscotch martini or even a glass of wine. To try and manage my impending coronary, I did sit down this morning and make my To Do list and my packing list and take stock of what laundry was done and what was still in huge piles on my laundry room floor. I also have a list of shopping and errands I need to do today - on a freaking Sunday! What was I thinking?!? And I have less than 24 hours to get it all done!

Do you know what the very first thing was on my list? It was, in fact, the alarm that pinged on my cell phone and woke me up at 7am this morning. LADIES OF THE CLUB BLOG We all chose days to blog, and several weeks ago, I chose today because I knew I would have everything done and it would be a blessedly stress-free day. NOT! So instead of some insightful blog on writing HOT or fighting with my characters or even on belly button lint (that one still cracks me up, JC!), you get a glimpse of my stress meltdown, and the reason behind my above-listed neuroses.

On the bright side - I now have one thing crossed off my list. Woo Hoo! I'm on my way...

So, on that note - now that you realize a writer's life is probably more neurotic and boring than the so-called "normal" people, I'm off. Hope to see tons of you in Dallas!

Tina Gerow/Cassie Ryan
Overachiever/Planner/Stress Monster :)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Bad boys--we love them. Why?

Bad boys—we love them. Period.

I have a theory about women in general. We love men—a lot. So much that we are far more forgiving of them than we are of our own sex. How did I arrive at this conclusion? Am I just opinionated? Well, yes, actually I am. J HOWEVER, I do have some basis for forming that theory/opinion.

Have you ever noticed how much we love bad boys? We make allowances for them. We lust over them. Weave daydream and fantasies around them. So why is that a bad thing? Shrugs. Maybe it’s not—except that we, as a whole, do NOT love bad women. We don’t make any allowances or excuses for them. Them we kick to the curb and dismiss.

I first noticed this after I created a bad boy vamp and a bad girl vamp. Now that bad boy vamp was very bad. He had a hot temper and a rep for being mean and vicious to women in general. He’d met very few women he didn’t feel the need to trample. Talk about rough loving. That’s what Vladimir Madison, my bad boy vamp from my Bloodlust series was sure to give any woman he met. I created him expecting to kill him off after he’d served his purpose at the end of a book or two.

To my surprise, readers rallied around him. They wanted to hug and cuddle him. Make excuses for his behavior…forgive him. He was just misunderstood and needed the love and understanding of a good woman…or man. J

Contrast that with how my bad girl vamp, Doctra, or D-girl as my not so lovingly call her. She’d been hurt in love—badly. Had her heart and hopes for a happily ever after with her bloodlust, Mikhel destroyed. To my vamps bloodlust is a far more powerful force than love. To fool with a vampire’s bloodlust hopes is to invite death and send them on an endless and vicious quest for vengeance.

D-girl took measures to reclaim what was hers. She set out to reclaim Mikhel and like Vladimir, she didn’t particularly care how she accomplished her goal or who got hurt or even killed in the process.

Now most of us know how painful lost love can be. How did readers react to D-girl whose hopes and goals for a happily ever after with her bloodlust were so expectedly destroyed? Did they embrace or cuddle her? Say she was misunderstood? Make allowances and excuses for her? Absolutely not. Although she had a few hearty readers that defended her, the overwhelming majority HATED her.

My bloodlust series has a number of elements which make it controversial to some readers. Readers have had so very heated debates about these characters. They have very strong opinions about their favorite or least favorite characters from the series. Some absolutely adore the series and can’t wait for the next book. Others hate it and write to tell me I’ve destroyed their lives. In addition to the differences in how readers treat/receive Vladimir and D-girl, there’s also the way they react to a triangular relationship between Mikhel and the two women in his life, Erica and Derri that’s resulted in my opinion about women and bad boys/girls.

Although Mikhel and Derri both have much stronger feelings for each other than they should (given that they both have other mates), only Derri is vilified. She’s a greedy, selfish home wrecker who wants it all—at Erica’s expense. How do readers react to Mikhel? He’s forgiven and given a walk. Nothing bad is said about him.

Those are only two examples of the difference in how women respond to bad boys and bad girls. The boys we forgive. The women we are not inclined to forgive—regardless of their reason for being bad.

Is my opinion fair? I think so. If you don’t agree, post and tell me why. Or if you just want to tell me my we’re so fond of bad boys and so unforgiving of bad girls, do that too. Let’s make a contest of it. I’ll choose a reader from the comments to win a copy of Destiny’s Slaves, which includes the Bloodlust—Conquering Mikhel Dumont and The Talisman. I’ll announce the winner on Wednesday.

In the meantime, have a great weekend.


Friday, July 6, 2007

Geek Out of Disguise

Be warned! This is a long post. And it has nothing to do with romance novels. Just me letting out my inner geek. (Actually, the geek’s right on the surface.)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007. Me. My significant other. A packed theatre. And on the giant screen in front of us, Transformers.

I waited a long time for this film—and it was so worth it.

Yes, I know there’s no plot. Yes, I know it’s long and loud and overblown and, as one pithy reviewer put it, “less than meets the eye.” Yes, I know it’s the most expensive toy commercial ever made.

But it’s so much fun! Explosions, laughs, eye candy, cool-looking robots from outer space…what more can I ask for?

Before I go anything further, I need to make three things clear:

  1. I love Transformers. As a child, I thought Transformers were the coolest things evah! Over twenty years later, I still do. I spent hundreds of dollars on eBay buying the entire series and Transformers: The Movie (1986) on VHS. When Hasbro and Rhino decided they needed an influx of cash and released the series on DVD, I went out and bought all 4 volumes. When they released Transformers: The Movie (1986) on DVD in 2006 to take advantage of the live-action movie hype, I placed my pre-order for three copies on Amazon six months before the release date. I love Transformers.

  2. I love Michael Bay’s action flicks. The Rock. Bad Boys I and II. Armageddon. The Island. (Not so much Pearl Harbor.) The man knows how to shoot an action sequence. I pop The Rock into my PS2 about once a month and that car chase through San Francisco never fails to get my heart pumping a little faster. Hey, I never claimed to have highbrow tastes—and I think I enjoy life a lot more because of it.

  3. And I’m 27 going on 13. But that’s pretty obvious. Right?

The Bad
Now, let’s get the bad out of the way before I gush like an wide-eyed fangirl about my favorite movie of all time.

TOO MUCH PRODUCT PLACEMENT! I hated it in Shrek 2 and 3 and I hate it here. Enough said.

The plot, or lack thereof. Good versus evil. Good wins. Really, that’s it. Okay, the Autobots and the Decepticons are racing to get to the Energon Cube Matrix of Leadership Vector Sigma Allspark, currently lost on Earth, because it can do really cool things. As an added bonus, the US defense secretary (Jon Voight) actually decides to gather intelligence BEFORE declaring war on these powerful, unknown threats. Wow.

Oh, the cheesy music. I alternated between laughs and groans at the song choices Bumblebee, the Transformer who disguises himself as a yellow Chevrolet Camaro, made when he was in matchmaking mode for the boy he was secretly protecting, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). “Drive” by the Cars. “Baby, Come Back” by Player. “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. Subtle is not in Bay’s vocabulary. None of those songs, thankfully, are on the soundtrack. On the other hand, Linkin Park’s “What I’ve Done” is on the soundtrack and it rocks.

Megan Fox, the not-very-interesting love interest. She lives up to her name and is definitely hot enough to grace the cover of Maxim. Too bad she studied acting in the School of Tara Reid. (Okay, Tara Reid and Megan Fox fans can flame me now. I can take it.) I don’t think it helped that her character was TSTL several times throughout the movie. If this film is supposed to be a boys’ only kind of flick, do what Ocean’s Thirteen did and leave the women at home.

Not enough time with the Transformers themselves. At one point, the girl sitting next to me in the movie theatre said, “I don’t remember their names anymore.” I know this is not a character-driven movie, but the first generation cartoons and comics gave each Transformer a distinct personality (and worthy storylines). Megatron is so maniacally, unapologetically evil that sometimes you want to root for him. Bumblebee is the wise-cracking little brother who wants to prove he’s capable of playing with the big boys. Starscream is the second-in-command whose ambitions are greater than his intelligence. Ironhide is the Southern boy who’s still a little rough around the edges. Sadly, however, you don’t get any sense of that in the movie.

There are other things I took issue with, but I won’t bore this audience with the petty details (e.g. Bumblebee transforming into a Camaro instead of a Bug, removing Optimus Prime’s half-mask every time he spoke, Devastator being only one Transformer instead of the five Constructicons merged together, etc., etc.) that drove some die-hard Transformers fans to send death threats to Bay. (No, I wasn’t one of them. My buddies and I just went out for drinks and vented among ourselves because none of us look good in Day-Glo orange.)

The Good
After all that, you’d think I’d abhor the movie and would be demanding Bay’s head on a platter. But not so. And why? Because of the good. And, oh, where do I start?

The visual effects. In a year of spectacular CGI from Hollywood (e.g. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Spider-Man 3, 300, etc.), Transformers blasted them away. Over a year ago, when I heard the rumors of a live-action Transformers movie were indeed true, I was worried that Hollywood would make the animation obvious (e.g. The Hulk) and something inside me would wither and die. However, I needn’t have worried. The Transformers’ transformations were seamless with the live action and they themselves were visually stunning, if a little too exoskeletony. But still bloody good, especially Megatron, who’s so ugly it’s awesome.

Shia LaBeouf. He can act. He can do drama. And can he ever do funny. I don’t know if he was playing himself or channeling Tom Hanks and Ray Romano, but this Mickey Mouse actor thoroughly impressed me with his skill and flawless timing. The audience wouldn’t have been drawn into this movie nearly as much without him.

Oh God, the humor. Anthony Anderson, John Turturro, Shia LaBeouf, and the Transformers. The laughs were constant—and not because of Rob Schneider-like-slapstick. For instance:

Captain Lennox: I need a credit card! Epps, where's your wallet?

USAF Master Sgt. Epps: Pocket!

Captain Lennox: Which pocket?

USAF Master Sgt. Epps: MY BACK POCKET!

Captain Lennox: You got ten back pockets!


Michael Bay’s movies. Drama-challenged, but great tension-relieving humor.

And, ooh, the eye candy. For those women whose pulses don’t race when they see amazing CGIs of sentient alien robots, there are Josh Duhamel (Captain Lennox) looking all scruffy and enticing and making me want to run me fingers over his stubble and through his hair and Tyrese Gibson (USAF Master Sgt. Epps) making me imagine what it would feel like to drape myself all over that well-toned body.


Now, see the lines of dialogue above. See Josh and Tyrese shouting them at each other. See Josh groping Tyrese’s left-cheek pocket. Oh, yeah. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.

The Grade

The Teaser
Wait! I’m not finished!

And neither is Bay. Transformers 2 will be out in 2009 (I’m already counting the days). If Bay decides to bring in Galvatron to replace Megatron, I hope he can talk Leonard Nimoy into providing the voice once more for old times’ sake.

And if Grimlock can be written into the script, I’ll never ask for anything ever again. Well, Grimlock and the other four Dinobots.

And maybe more Starscream.

But no Rodimus Prime, please. I can’t watch Optimus die a second time. It’s been twenty-one years and I still cry when I watch the 1986 animated movie. Yes, I know I’m sad.

The Contest
I love Transformers.

Did I mention that?

And since I love them so much, I'll send a prize package (print copy of my current release, bookmarks, and Ellora's Cave RT Cowboy card deck) to a name drawn from the people who can answer the following trivia question:

Transformers: The Movie (1986) was this Academy Award-winning American citizen's final movie. Who is he?

You can either post the answer in the comments or send it to me directly.

Start Googling, ladies. Or get those geeks you know to help you out. Trust me, we're everywhere.

Forgot to mention that I'll be announcing the winner Thursday, July 12, 2007.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Calling all Ladies!

Back in the old days, a Lady was thought of as fragile, well mannered, and unfortunately sexless woman who was not expected to fulfill her husbands sexual needs - hence along came the mistress. But these days, Ladies are strong, solid individuals with a bit of classy, sexy and attitude stirred in, in the correct amounts at the perfect time.

Today's Ladies make sure their mates have no misinterpretations of who will satisfy their needs. In fact, Ladies, in a nurturing way, may even take it upon ourselves to teach their mates a thing or two about what's sexy and receive a bit of 'tutoring' in return. And may even dress the part *wink*

Ladies are secure in themselves, know who they are, and roll with the punches. They remember what life was like in their early years, but wouldn't trade 40 for 20 any day of the week.

Judith Martin says, "Miss Manners cannot think of a more succinct definition of a lady than someone who wants to punch someone in the nose...but doesn't."

Lillian Day says, "A lady is one who never shows her underwear unintentionally."

So, in addition to yourself, who are some of your favorite "Ladies" ?

Some of mine...are right here on this blog!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Meet the characters of CLANDESTINE!

Happy July 4th. everyone!

Since this is promo day I'm jumpin' right on here while everyone else is eatin' grilled burgers and hot dogs. I've already had mine and we're about ready to take in a movie. At the end of June I had a new release out called CLANDESTINE, which is another book in my Special Investigations Agency series (SIA). I thought I'd give you a blurb and a snippet of an excerpt just to wet your appetite. :)

Clandestine (adj.) Concealed, usually for some secret or illicit purpose.

Dorcas "Dorky" Shannigan has spent most of her unique life closed off from others. A secret keeps her from showing her face to the world, including Grey O'Toole, an operative who stirs her blood with only the sound of his husky voice. Enclosed in her underground library, she keeps agents informed about evil paranormal forces. But part of her aches to connect more closely with the other agents, although to do so would shatter their understanding of the natural world and possibly put them in peril.

Grey O'Toole loves the silky, seductive sound of Dorky's voice, and many years of chatting with the elusive woman has driven him to the edge of his tolerance. He savors the opportunity to finally meet the woman who has fueled a thousand of his fantasies. One night his dream comes true, and she must ask him for help. For a prehistoric malevolence has found her after years of searching and will stop at nothing to destroy her.
And now, an excerpt just for you.

As the wall to Dorky’s office dematerialized and Grey stood in the opening, her mouth fell open in complete astonishment. Her heart thumped anxiously in her chest and her blood raced in her veins. Grey stood in front of her, alive and kicking.

She knew what he looked like, but faced with the real man, her heart and body reacted with soul-searing attraction. Experiencing the full force of six-foot three-inches of bristling, ready-to-kick-serious-ass male sent her into a strange fright.

May all the gods and goddesses help me.

Without a doubt, she had never seen a more intriguing, gorgeous man in her life. Considering how many men she’d seen, that said quite a bit.

He dragged a hand through his burnished dark copper hair, the tousled, collar-length strands shiny, wavy and thick. Strands fell over his forehead. His Roman nose was classically shaped, his jawline a rugged cut. His skin didn’t have the typical pale hue of a redhead. He’d managed to maintain a light tan from his frequent jaunts to hotter climates, or perhaps his ancestry was more than Irish. His body held the bristling, tight masculinity of a highly conditioned man. Broad shoulders and arms filled his navy shirt to perfection. One shirtsleeve was torn at the shoulder and the open throat of the shirt arrowed down all the way to his belly. Her attention pinpointed his chest and the generous sprinkling of russet hair over muscled pectorals and a six-pack stomach. Female appreciation darted deep into her belly and she licked her lips.
His pewter and dusk gaze, shadowed by thick russet brows, captured hers and held it.

Fire brimmed in those eyes, mixed with purpose and irritation. “Dorky?”

His husky voice, so familiar, sent curls of answering excitement all along her body. Almost afraid to answer, she opened her mouth and nothing came out.

He frowned and stalked toward her. The open area behind him rematerialized into solid matter. He swung around to look and when he turned back to look at her, his glower remained.
Her heart felt like it might pound out of her chest. She took one step back. Two. “I didn’t know you were out there. Then I heard a commotion and I opened the…the door.”

She continued retreating until she bumped into a desk behind her. When Grey stood less then a foot from her, he stopped. His heat seemed to sear into her, making her even more aware of his masculine energy. At five-foot eight-inches tall, she rarely felt intimidated by a man’s height. His presence managed to alarm her in a completely new way.

“You’ve got to be Dorky,” he said, his voice amazingly soft considering the ire in his expression. Then his voice went deeper and huskier. “You’re as beautiful as I imagined.”

A flash fire ignited inside her. Ages had passed since an attractive male had been this close to her, much less complimented her. Dorky’s body went on overload. Her breasts prickled with heat. In her belly, an answering tug sent new waves of incredible attraction moving inside her.

“Thank you,” she said, a little bewildered.

He looked down at her, weighty emotion flashing in those incredible eyes. Her breathing quickened as his body heat warmed her. The man was danger on two legs, an exceedingly difficult person to ignore. His lips parted, his chest heaved in and out with one deep breath. For a second she thought he would follow through on his earlier threat to kiss her. She expected it. Had imagined it many days and many nights over the years.

She craved it.

Hope you enjoyed the snippet! You can get your own copy of this novel at Ellora's Cave

Read more excerpts and learn about my other SIA books at my website

Until next time, live, love and dream.

Denise A. Agnew

Promo day: Your Saving Grace

Hope I'm not breaking any rules -- this book released last Thursday, so I think I'm in under the one week timeframe (insert questioning look here).

"Grace" is the second book I sold and the second book that's released. The fourth book I sold released first. The first book I sold isn't going to be released because the publisher is no longer in business. Confused? I sure was for about four months this year. I turned in the edits on "Grace" early in the year, moved on to other books, sold another one to another publisher and all of a sudden ... Grace released. It sort of took me by surprise because my first book released two weeks before Grace.

Anyway ... here's the thing about Grace ... like all my stories, the hero and heroine are older (40s and 50s). "Grace" is really Hannah Paxton, a single woman who lives alone on a hobby farm about 40 miles from the nearest big city. She works from home most of the time (high tech job), and she's asked to serve on a jury trial in the big city. During the course of the trial it comes out that she was a witness, 30 years ago, on a murder case. After the high profile trial wraps up, Hannah starts getting threatening phone calls.

Enter Jude Brenner, the detective who assisted the D.A. in selecting the original jury. Jude's been on medical leave from the police department and is just starting to get back into active duty. He sees the investigation of Hannah's threats as a way to achieve full active status.

Neither one of these people really wants to fall in love. They're both pretty content with their life as it is and don't want to make room for another person in their life. It's only when the threats escalate to something more that they realize how they feel about each other. Luckily Hannah and SpongeBob (yep, that SpongeBob) are able to save the day.

I wrote this book because I saw someone brutally beaten in front of me when I was 18 years old, just like Hannah did in this book. I was standing at a bar -- typical college bar, not rowdy or anything -- and getting refill on a pitcher of beer. A guy walked up to the guy who was sitting at the bar about a foot away from me, picked up my empty beer pitcher, and proceeded to beat the crap out of the sitting guy. All kinds of bodily things splattered me before my friend grabbed me and hustled me out of there.

The victim lived, believe it or not. The attacker was high on drugs and got time in jail, where he later died. I didn't have to testify. There were about forty other witnesses. But I always wondered, 'what would have happened ... if?'

Thirty years later I wrote a book about it all ... I exaggerated some details, added a few others, and finally sold it to Cerridwen Press where it came out in e-format last week. And you know, it's really weird. Whenever I read that opening scene, I can still see that bar in my mind and the people and hear the music ...

The power of memory is a marvelous and scary thing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My first blog entry

Yup, it’s my very first. That’s ironic, too, because in addition to being an author, I’m also a web site designer/developer. I’ve set up plenty of blogs and done troubleshooting on many more. But I’ve never written a blog entry before myself.

I’ve spent the past few days trying to decide what I would write about. Tomorrow’s U.S. Independence Day holiday led me to consider an essay on my feelings about my country. But that risks getting too political. I'm not ready to go there.

Instead I decided to tackle a topic I’ve been thinking about for the last week or so. What makes a character in a book memorable?

I’m especially interested in memorable heroes. Literary fiction is full of them…Ishmael, Heathcliff, Cyrano, etc. But then part of the purpose of literary fiction is to illuminate character, so it’s hardly surprising.

What about heroes in the genres I read: fantasy, science fiction, mystery and romance? Certainly I've read some memorable ones. In fantasy, Aragorn, Frodo, Harry Dresden and Harry Potter come quickly to mind. Science fiction gives use Miles Vorkosigan and Paul Atreides. In mystery you have Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot, Nero Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin.

And in romance? I’ve tried to quickly think of memorable heroes from romance or romantic novels I’ve read in the last couple of years. I have to admit, first of all, that I don’t read a lot of romance novels, and the ones that I do tend to cross over into other genres. But I do pick up the occasional historical romance and I’ve recently been on a bit of a Lisa Kleypas glom, mostly because she writes some really wonderful heroes. My favorites so fare are Derek Craven and St. Vincent. Then there's Loretta Chase’s Mr. Impossible, Rupert Carsington. In futuristic romance, Linnea Sinclair has contributed two memorable heroes in Gabriel “Sully” Sullivan and Branden Kel Paten. And in the urban fantasy dept. Kelley Armstrong’s werewolf hero, Clayton Danvers, and all of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood guys have stuck with me.

So… What do they all have in common? I’m still working on that.

One thing that strikes me is that they all have multiple layers and unexpected depths or sides to their personalities. None of them is a stock romantic hero. Craven is not an aristocrat and not even a gentleman in any sense of the word when we first meet him. St. Vincent is one in name only. Both have the seeds of heroism within them, though it’s not obvious right away. But they grow into it and the author convincingly shows them developing it.

None of the men I’ve listed above are heroes from the central casting hero mold as are too many of the characters I’ve read about. Sully and Kel Paten aren’t obviously heroes at the beginning of their books either. It’s even possible that they’re the villains, and it takes a while for the heroine and the reader to discover the worth of the men they are.

And then there’s Clay Danvers. It’s hard to even call him a hero, yet in some ways he fills the bill better than many others I’ve listed here. He’s movie-star handsome, brilliant, protective of his family and devoted to Elena. Of course, he’s also mean, ruthless and even vicious. Prince Charming? Not exactly.

Neither are J.R. Ward’s heroes, except maybe Rhage. Or he might be--if it weren’t for that little demon problem of his. Certainly Zsadist, Butch and Wrath wouldn’t qualify. Butch is an alcoholic, Wrath is blind and--at least initially—running away from his responsibilities, and Zsadist is…a mess.

It’s not just that these are wounded heroes, either. It’s not obvious at first glance that any of them really are heroes. What really grabs me, I think, is watching how the heroines discover the hero within the men that attract them, especially when it's not obvious it's even there. And how the men grow to become true heroes.

I’m nowhere near finished with this topic, but I’ve gone on long enough. So… if anyone’s out there and interested… Who are your most memorable heroes? Why?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Three Million Words For Process

Last week, I was chatting with Megan Hart about process and writing and how authors spoke about writing. Some authors talk about it in that "one true way" sense, like their process is "THE" process. Others are more of the "this is what works for me" school and still more find it hard to put what they do into a frame of reference. Me? I tend to be in the "I don't know if it makes sense but this is what works for me, try your own thing though because your mileage may vary."

Talking about writing is an odd thing because it's like a unique language for every writer. How many words are there for writing or process as they're seen through the lens of different authors? They're just words and they hold meaning to me with regard to process but not so much to other people. I don't think about writing in technical terms at all. I just write.

I have notebooks in stacks in and on my desk. Each notebook is for a different book or story idea. Some of them have detailed notes about characters, snippets of dialog or other text, research notations, and others have the story kernel - the whatever it was that tickled my fancy to give me the idea - just a line, a picture from a magazine, etc.

I'm working on being more organized with this, we'll see if that happens or not. Right now, I'm writing on a deadline. Reading Between the Lines is due by August 1 and I'm pretty sure, given my current pace, I'll be finished with the first draft by this time next week. This gives me plenty of time then, to leave it for a few days and then to come back and edit, revise and turn in.

This is my process when I work on timelines. I used to just plow through, draft, edit, revise and turn in but now I like to have a bit to let the book sit when I finish so when I come back to it later. For me, I can see it through more objective eyes with a little bit of distance.

Inevitably, when I'm working on a book, more book ideas come to me. Right now I've got two other books in progress but I forced myself to stop working on them until I finish with RBTL. Sometimes though, I have to get stuff down so I treat myself like I do my kids, I set a goal (pages or words) before I can stop and work on anything else. (I don't normally do page or word counts unless I'm hard on deadline or something like this happens)

Anyway, a little illustration of how that works for me:

Last night I'm on the exercise bike (where I read and sometimes plot, etc) and I'm listening to The Prodigy. Suddenly, an image comes to me and as I'm pedaling away, sweating, more of the scene begins to unfold. And the line of dialog, just one.

Bang. My new story unfolds just like that. I finish my 45 minutes and jump off, write that line of dialog down and after I shower and get my goal met for the day, I wrote it. I now have to figure out the rest, the length, the meat of the story, etc, but essentially, that's how this works for me. An image, a lyric, a smell, a sound, someone's voice - little triggers and a bizarre movie begins in my head and a book is born.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Grand Opening, First Contest!

Greetings and welcome readers, writers and everyone else who happens to be reading this. :) Welcome to the brand new blog!

So who are we?

A diverse group of romance-minded writers and we cover the gamut of our genre from the super-sexy reads to the sweet ones. We have historical authors as well as paranormal, fantasy, contemporary and everything in between.

So how is our blog different?

Because anything goes. Our topics will not solely focus on our work or our genre - posts could be anything from the trials of being a new mother to politics, dealing with daily life, rants and contemplation of belly button of my favorite topics, of course.

We also welcome input on our posts - SOUND OFF and you might be asked to be a guest blogger! Have something you want to get off your chest? Here's your chance...

Which brings us to our first contest. Post a response to any of the entries between now and Saturday, (July 7, 2007) and be eligible to win a free ebook download from one of the Ladies. You must be eighteen to enter, one entry per household.

So kick back, grab your favorite drink and as they say in New Orleans, Laissez les bon temps rouler or Let The Good Times Roll!