Saturday, March 31, 2012

Join Us! HOD Reader's Luncheon


They say variety is the spice of life. NY Times and USA Today best-selling author Lora Leigh has learned this lesson well, giving readers more than eighty novels in four subgenres and fifteen different series. She has created worlds we long to return to again and again, and enduring characters full of flaws and failures and the strength to rise above. From the formidable undercover agents of her Elite Ops series to the reckless affection of the Nauti Boys and the genetically enhanced drive to mate in her ever-popular Breeds series, Leigh has offered a buffet of searing hot romance that captivates readers from all over the world. And this May, she’ll be here to share it all with us.

Leigh will be the featured speaker at the 15th Annual Readers’ Luncheon hosted by Heart of Dixie, the north Alabama chapter of Romance Writers of America. This annual event celebrates romance and literacy in the north Alabama community.
Registration is now open for the event, held at the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, AL, on May 5, 2012, from 11am until 3pm.

Special guest author Lora Leigh will share tales from her prolific world of writing during the keynote speech. She, along with over twenty other favorite romance authors, will host a table for lucky romance readers and sign books at this year’s event. Other attending authors include Linda Howard, Linda Winstead Jones, Peggy Webb, Rhonda Nelson, Lynn Raye Harris, Kimberly Lang, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Kira Sinclair, and Melanie Dickerson.

HOD's Annual Luncheon includes lunch with guest authors, door prizes, raffles, and much more. A book fair and autograph session with the attending authors following the luncheon is open and free to the public at 2pm. Profits from this year’s book fair will be donated to the Hackleburg School for their library, helping encourage children in this area devastated by last year’s tornados to embrace literacy and the love of reading.

Join us as we celebrate romance in all its various forms! Registration is $25 and must be received by April 21st. Seating is limited, so register today. More information and registration forms can be found at or call 703-861-4271.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Draw... Um... Something

First, I would like to thank Instigator for - being true to her moniker - getting me started on something that can be quite the time suck. Draw Something. It's a free app for my iPhone where you play a sort of Pictionary with your friends to earn coins.

The trick? You have to draw with your finger. Your big, clunky finger. My fingernail won't work. You also only get four colors to start. You have to buy more with coins and I don't have enough yet. So you only get black, red, yellow and blue. And no, blue and yellow don't mix to make green. They just write over the other color. Do you know how hard it is to get someone to guess trees when they have black trunks and blue leaves? You've got to have a broad imagination, that's for sure.

For each round, you're given your choice of three words/things to draw at various coin values. You can choose to draw a 'bone' for 1 coin, a 'turtle' for 2, and 'fencing' for 3. I've gotten everything from meteoroid to airport, fairy to ewok. (I'm fairly certain geeks designed this game because I've also gotten Spock.) You draw and submit it, then continue going back and forth guessing with your friends. Here, for example, is my miserable attempt to get Instigator to guess 'ringtone.' What? No, it's not a jukebox. You mean you can't tell that's an iPhone? What's wrong with you?
Aside from the pictures being hilariously awful, the game is kinda addictive. I find myself checking the app constantly to see if its my turn again. Anything fun sucking up your extra time, lately? Cause, you know, I have time to blow...

PS. Just in case you might have forgotten, MY BOOK COMES OUT TUESDAY!! So crazy.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Would You Buy?

I was perusing one of the news web pages this morning and a story popped up that caught my attention. It was about the extravagant things that wealthy people buy and included a pigeon, a pocket watch and a $1 Billion dollar home.

The only thing I could think was that I'd find a better way to use my money. Really? A pigeon!?! I have enough critters at my house I do not need another one. Especially one that most people consider a nuisance.

So I started thinking about the things I would splurge on. Bigger house and fancier car aside, I settled on some things I think are actually pretty tame in comparison the list given.

A hot air balloon would be my first purchase. I've wanted one for years, ever since I started crewing for a local balloon festival my junior year in high school. I've flown several times and there's just nothing like the peace you can find floating through the air.

I also wanted to take an African safari, but then I realized I was probably thinking a little too small...especially in comparison with a billion dollar house. I upgraded to a trip around the world, visiting all those places of my bucket list that I'll probably only see a handful of - Africa, Ireland, Greece, Switzerland, Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, Hawaii, Alaska... There are so many beautiful places in the world and if given the chance I'd want to experience them all.

So, assuming you win the $500 Mega Millions jackpot tomorrow what would you buy?


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What's Cooking Wednesday

I've been looking at blog memes since I seem to be running out of clever things to blog about and came across a couple of ones that I think I can make work for Wednesdays. With any luck they'll entertain you and maybe impart a little information. First on the list is What's Cooking Wednesday.

What's cooking?

Apricot Chicken


6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 (1 ounce) packages dry onion soup mix
1 (10 fluid ounce) bottle Russian-style salad dressing
1 cup apricot preserves


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2.Place the chicken pieces in a 4 quart casserole dish. Mix the soup mix, dressing and jam together, and pour over the chicken.
3.Cover dish and bake for 1 hour in preheated oven.

The meat juices, dressing, preserves and soup mix will combine to form a great sauce that's terrific served over brown or Basmati rice. Add a green vegetable and voila! Quick and easy meal that will have your guests thinking you slaved all day in the kitchen.

Try it and let me know how you like it. Better yet, do you have any easy peasy recipes to share with me? It's tough cooking for one.

PS. Andrea is blogging today at the Authorial Moms blog. Comment for another entry for her grand prize!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Best of the Bookshelf -- March

Pretend this is the BoB graphic.
I can't seem to find it on my computer today...

Smarty Pants is reading: Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Oxford historian Diana Bishop is a witch by birth, but not by choice. But as hard as she might try to shun that part of her, it manages to get out and set a chain of events in motion that brings other witches, demons and the sexy vampire Matt into her life. An interesting take on the typical mythology, the book is both dark, yet contemporary. I look forward to finishing it.

Angel is reading: Darker After Midnight by Lara Adrian

I actually haven’t had time to read this month, so I thought I’d share the book I plan on being my reward for a month’s worth of hard work! I’ve read all of the Breed series so far, and they are excellent – unique in a plethora of paranormal romances and filled with emotional charge. This is Lara’s first journey into hardback, with the story of Sterling Chase. He’s been a tortured hero throughout the series, and I’m excited to read his book. Chase is looking for redemption after a lifetime as a Breed law enforcer that didn’t allow him to see the war below the surface. Now his addiction is pulling him toward the darkness, and the only thinking keeping him back is Tavia Fairchild. She’s a witness from one of the previous missions, and apparently holds some kind of secret that could make or break the war. Can’t wait to read this!

Instigator is reading: Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones.

This is the third installment in her Charley Davidson Series and I absolutely devoured it. The only thing I don’t like is when each book ends. They never last long enough and I always want more. Wit, sarcasm and an amazing sense of humor combine to make Charley a wonderful main character. Looking forward to the next one!

Playground Monitor is reading: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Everyone’s raved about it. The movie is poised on the brink of release (and parts of it were even filmed in my hometown). I’ve seen the movie trailer and finally took the plunge since several folks suggested it would be best to read the book before seeing the movie. I don’t want to give any spoilers for folks who might still want to read the book or for folks who haven’t read it but will be seeing the movie. I’ll just say it’s an interesting concept and my first dip into dystopian fiction. And there may come the day my granddaughter wants to read it, and I’ll know what she’s talking about when she mentions Katniss and the Capitol and Penam.

Problem Child is reading: Melt by Natalie Anderson

The disclaimer is that Nat is a friend and line-mate of mine, but Melt is a departure from Presents EXTRA norm that still has her flirty, fantastic voice. And who knew that Antarctica could be such a sexy backdrop? This novella is short in length but long on all the important stuff.

Instigators's winners from last week are Mark and Laurie G. Email to claim your prize!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Romance Withdrawal

So many books, so little time… This used to be my mantra as a reader. I read a wide variety of romance sub-genres and even some non-fiction, along with magazines when I felt like buying them. I couldn't get enough of reading, even going so far as to teach myself to hold a book while I was nursing Little Man. After all, if I was gonna have to sit there for 40 minutes several times a day (mine were both slow nursers), I might as well do something for myself while I'm at it, right?

But now… Well, its gotten much harder for me to read as I've grown as a writer. My time is extremely limited at this stage of my life, as I'm sure many of you can relate to (what do people do after work when they aren't scraping out time to write?!?!). As a result, I give up on books much quicker than I did before. I used to push through until the book became really interesting, but now, you'd better hook me in some way during the first chapter, or I'm outta there. Knowledge of writing techniques has made me extremely judgmental (I'll be the first to admit it). With the wealth of online resources, freelance editors, etc., there is no excuse for multiple grammatical or spelling errors.

And I find that a lot of storylines don't appeal to me anymore – for instance, I'm SO not a fan of the bitchy heroine. She seems to be everywhere these days. Strong – yes. Kickass – sure. Bitchy and critical of everyone around her – not so much! It’s a fine line that I'm pickier about that most people. Plus I can't read anything like what I'm plotting or writing at the moment, because I don't want to be unconsciously influenced by it. Sigh.

And the biggest issue? When I do find a really good book, I don't want to stop reading it. I know it may not seem like it, but that is a problem. I feel like I should be writing during that time, rather than reading. During the week, it can take me a couple of evenings to read a single title length, even though I'm a fast reader. After all, dinner has to be cooked and I've often got chores, children to pay attention to, etc., before I fall asleep just from sitting still. Weekends too.

I still read the occasional magazine (usually during dinner or right before bed), and I pick up anthologies once in a while. But I miss the depth of single title length books. So what's a former romance addict to do?

Right now I'm using really good books as a reward for getting large chunks of writing done. I've just spent 3 long months doing a complete rewrite of a previous book, and I've decided there will be no more writing until I finish the 2 books I just bought. One is from an author that I've read before and loved. One is a new to me author, but I read a few of the first pages just to check if I liked her voice – I already knew I liked the story idea.

I'm going to give my brain a few days to recover and rejuvenate (something I affectionately call refilling the well), and hopefully indulge my romance addiction at the same time! If you're a writer, do you find yourself having these same issues? What about you readers? How do you make time for your favorite addiction? :)


PS. Today is stop 4 on Andrea's blog tour. Pop in to read her call story and comment on expecting the unexpected to get another entry for her sea glass locket!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Blog Tour, Stop 3

Today is stop 3 of 10 for my blog tour. I've been writing posts and answering interview questions for days in preparation. I've shared my writing process, my journey to publication, my favorite dessert and what romance character I most identify with. (That one was hard!) I've blogged on facing fears, reality television, call stories and fresh starts. I've also written quite a bit on my current WIP, a twelve page synopsis, and put together a promotional booklet. All this has left me at a loss as to what to talk about today on my normal blog day! I'm all out of words!
So, some fun tidbits. My newsletter is up and ready to send out. The first edition will go out on April 3rd - launch day. To be sure you get the inaugural copy, sign up for the newsletter at : Signing up will earn you a bonus entry in my contest for the sea-glass necklace. You'll get another entry for commenting here and at the other blogs on the tour. Every entry counts. The first issue of the newsletter will include some fun pictures, info on my debut, and even a recipe for a cookie I'm just dying to bake. You don't want to miss out! Nutella, anyone?
Here's something else cool to share - my first international cover. I'm coming out in a 2-in-1 with Heidi Betts in May in Australia. I've heard I'm out in India in April, but I can't find a cover yet. I'll post it when I do.
56+I'm going to be participating in three reader events and book signings in the next month. The first is at the Barbara Vey Readers' Appreciation Luncheon, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Tuesday, April 10th. Right after that is the Romantic Times Convention in Chicago from April 11-15th. Next is the Heart of Dixie Readers' Luncheon in Huntsville, Alabama on May 5. All the events include book signings and opportunities to visit with me and a slew of other authors. All these events should be a lot of fun.
Be sure to pop in over the next month and join me on my blog tour. Of course, I'll always be blogging here on Friday's, but I'll be popping up all over the internet. As a reader, do you enjoy getting to meet your favorite authors in person? What kind of questions do you like to ask? I need to study in advance so I'm prepared for my first events!
Here's the remaining blog tour line up:
03/26/12 - Book Reading Gals
03/28/12 - Authorial Moms
04/02/12 - Get Lost In A Story
04/05/12 - Okay, Listen Here
04/08/12 - Love Cats Down Under Sunday Smooch
04/09 - 04/15 I'm at the Romantic Times Conference in Chicago. If you attend, come find me at the signing for a super bonus entry!
04/18/12 - Minxes of Romance
04/25/12 - Pink Heart Society
04/27/12 - The winner is announced on the Writing Playground!
Blog Tour & Contest! Don't forget my blog tour contest! Receive an entry for commenting (one per blog) and a second for signing up for my newsletter ( The winner will receive a pink sea-glass heart locket pendant and a personalized autographed copy of What Lies Beneath. Small Print: The winner will be chosen at random after the conclusion of the blog tour – Friday, April 27th and announced on the Writing Playground blog ( The winner will have 7 days to contact the author at with her mailing information or the prize will be forfeited and re-awarded.
Our winner Free Book Friday is Lucinda! Email me at author @ andrealaurence (dot) com with your snail mail info to claim your fabulous book. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Release Party

Rub It In, the third book in my Island Nights series, released on Tuesday. Woohoo! :-) Tuesday also marked the first day of Spring, although it feels more like Summer here in North Alabama. Several of the local school systems are out on Spring Break. The sky is blue, my car is covered in a yellow film of pollen and I'm making plans to have a picnic with the girls this weekend.

I think this means we need to celebrate! I'll crank up the music, pass around the mimosas and chocolate croissants and get the disco lights moving.

And what kind of celebration would it be without a little party favor? I'll give a signed copy of Rub It In to one commenter. Join the party or post what you're celebrating.


Rub It In
This decadent adults-only resort is nestled on a secluded island in the heart of the Caribbean. It’s called Escape - and it’s paradise, even for those who live and work here. But could the island’s aphrodisiac-like qualities suddenly affect the owner himself?

Sexy, reclusive resort owner Simon Reeves and his dedicated executive director, Marcy McKinney, have always had a volatile work relationship. But when the resort is closed down for two weeks and Simon intentionally traps Marcy on the island, she snaps - and quits.

Marcy wants to teach Simon a lesson, but she has no idea the tension between them is about to evolve into pure, unadulterated lust. Or that her hot boss has very definite - and exquisitely tantalizing - ideas on exactly how to keep Marcy from leaving the island…and his bed!

Available at Amazon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I'm late to the games

The Hunger Games, that is. While the rest of the world has been talking about this book (and the movie, which opens on Friday) since its publication in 2008, I just read it. I have to say my interest in the book was piqued by the movie trailers and the fact much of the movie was filmed in my home state of North Carolina. Some scenes were even filmed in my hometown of Concord.

For those who might be like I was a couple weeks ago and totally in the dark about this book and film, I give you a short blurb.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen lives with her mother and little sister Primrose in what is left of North America. They reside in District 12, which is the Appalachaian region of the former United States. All twelve districts are run by the Capitol, which is located in the Rocky Mountains (NORAD anyone?). Katniss and Prim's father was killed in a coal mine explosion, and it is Katniss's hunting and foraging skills that keep the family from starving.

To remind the Districts who's in charge, the Capitol holds the Hunger Games each year. The names of all boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are put in large bowls and one boy and one girl are selected at random from each District to compete in the ultimate reality game. These twenty-four children fight to the finish, and the last one standing wins a life of luxury.

The selection process is called the "reaping" and the children selected are called "tributes." After assuring her little sister her odds of being picked are slim because it's her first time in the reaping, Primrose's name is drawn anyway. To spare her sister, Katniss steps up to take her place in the deadly competition.

Dictrict 12's other tribute is a boy named Peeta Mellark whose father is the town baker.

Katniss and Peeta are transported to the Capitol, accompanied by Effie Banks (the pink-haired lady who selected the tributes) and Haymitch Abernathy (their mentor and District 12's only Hunger Games victor). There they are groomed and trained and paraded before not only the Capitol but the Districts as well (the games are televised live and watching is compulsory -- the only time television broadcasts are predictable) before being set out to compete in the games.

This former Phillip Morris cigarette plant in my hometown was used for scenes of the Capitol.

So have you read the book? And the two other books in the trilogy (Catching Fire and Mockingjay)?

And are you going to see the movie? As compelling as the book was, I'm still undecided about seeing the film. If I do decide to go, I'll probably wait for the initial hubbub to wane and the crowds to thin.

PS. Smarty Pants kicks off her blog tour today. Check out her facebook fan page for the schedule and links.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Running out of things to say...

I have three Facebook pages (my personal one for friends and family), my public page (for everyone) and my Fan page. I have a Twitter feed, a blog on my website, and a blog here.

Honestly, I'm running out of things to talk about.

I really don't think I'm that interesting -- or at least not interesting enough to justify all these places where I'm supposed to talk about myself. There's only so much y'all really want to hear about me and my life -- really. It's just not that exciting. Sometimes I feel like I'm really grasping for something to say (and for a writer, that grasping feeling isn't fun.)

I get annoyed at people who really think that I need to see a picture of every meal they eat (an occasional amazing dish, sure. But a Starbucks bagel isn't that exciting.) I won't post pictures of my kid and I don't have any pets to do cute things that might make people go "awwww."

Counselor Shelley refuses to get on Facebook, so I had to explain it to her. (Try to explain Facebook to someone who has never even been to the site. It's fun.) Her response was that it was a narcissist's dream come true. She might be right. I guess the fact that I don't feel the need to post hourly updates about what I'm doing now (and now. And now. And now.) means I'm not a narcissist.

I love the ease of communication of social network sites. I love the info I can glean from good blog posts -- or the laughs I get from funny ones. Sometimes, though, it's overwhelming.

And then I wonder if I'm just adding to the noise. I mean, if I can't come up with anything more interesting to say than, "I'm out of jelly beans!" "There's a spider in the hallway!" or "Wow, it's warm outside," is it really all that interesting or worth your while to follow me on these sites?

The pressure to come up with witty, interesting things to say is really starting to get to me.

So if you are following me on one or more of these sites and my postings seem a little lame, I apologize. I'm working on becoming a more interesting person. I promise.

Now there's a goal: Become more interesting so my FB wall is really cool. ~snort~

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm Behind...

On just about everything. My blog got posted late, several Playfriends are waiting on stuff from me, critique partners are waiting on stuff from me, Luncheon stuff needs doing, and we won't even talk about the house…

But in the midst of all the chaos I accomplished 2 things:

1. I finished the draft for my revise and request. I’m hoping to have that revised asap and out the door. Which is a good thing, because…

2. I placed 2nd in the Great Expectations Contest and received a request for a full from Libby Murphy at Entangled (along with revision notes as well). Woohoo!!!

I think March and April will be busy, busy months!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Free Book Friday - MY Edition

So, I've been doing FBF for about two years now. Given away a lot of books. Good times. But today is probably the bestest version of FBF evah. Why? Because today, I'm giving away a copy of MY book. :)

As you know, a box showed up on my doorstep February 28th. It was filled with these beautiful little copies of the book I wrote. I've sent some to reviewers, some out for basket donations, and one copy is going to one of you lucky commenters today. Win it before you can buy it! :)

by Andrea Laurence
April 2012, Harlequin Desire #2152

She’s Awake. So Why Can’t She Remember?

They say she’s Cynthia Dempsey, fiancĂ©e of media mogul Will Taylor. But try as she might, she can’t recall their high-society life or the man sitting by her hospital bed. Though her body certainly remembers him. Even as she senses the distance between them, the electricity when they touch is undeniable.

Will can hardly believe Cynthia’s transformation. Gone is the ice queen who betrayed him, and in her place is a woman who seems genuine and warm. But can he risk his heart again, not knowing what might happen when her memory returns?

I've been looking forward to this for so long. It's just awesome. To enter, comment with the phrase "You never forget your first" and tell me about the first time you did something that really stuck with you... The first time you saw the ocean? First time you held your baby? The first time you saw your husband?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Yeah, I know the Playfriends are all fainting from surprise at the title for this blog. Cleaning is my least favorite thing to do. Really, I only know a handful of people who like it. I'm a bit of a procrastinator which means if I don't like doing something I'm going to put it off as long as possible until I just can't ignore it anymore.

I can no longer ignore the mountain of clutter that has become my house.

I've gotten spring cleaning fever, an affliction I don't believe I've ever caught before. Zilla has adopted an intelligent 'stay out of her way' policy. I'm organizing. I'm throwing things away. I'm letting things go that I'll never need/use again. It's liberating. And tiring. And damned expensive! Who knew organization could cost so much?

My project this week involves making an organizer for our mail so that I can actually see the end of our kitchen table. Currently, it's the repository for absolutely everything - mail, school papers, shopping bags, my bread-maker. And, frankly, I'd like to use the table for it's intended purpose - eating together as a family.

I've instituted a de-cluttering policy. My plan is to tackle one small area every day and one large project every week. I figure eventually I'll cover the whole house and might avoid becoming overwhelmed. We'll see. I have to admit that I've already missed a couple days this week because of PTO meetings, work, children commitments... But I figure any progress is good progress so I'll keep plugging along.

Do you have any tips for organization that you'd like to share? Any nifty gadgets/gizmos/whatever that streamline your life and help keep you in order?


P.S. Here's a link to the mail organizer I'm going to make (in a smaller version since I can't find the folders she used).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest Blogger - Emmie Dark

The Playground welcomes debut Super Romance author Emmie Dark today. Emmie hails from Australia, where the weather is just opposite ours (and since we've been having unseasonably warm weather here, I wonder what it's like Down Under). Please make room on the swingset for Emmie!

An Affair to Remember

Thank you so much for inviting me to blog with you!

Today I thought I’d talk about one of my favourite old movies – An Affair to Remember. Can you beat the combination of Deborah Kerr and (swoon!) Cary Grant?

Their character names are more than a little confusing: Nickie and Terry – that’s Cary as Nickie and Deborah as Terry! I don’t think those names would work in a book – as a reader I’m sure I’d be far too confused about who was who to keep things straight!

I remember hearing once that Cary Grant was apparently terrible at remembering his lines. In the final scene where Terry is sitting on the couch and Nickie finally realizes why she didn’t meet him on top of the Empire State Building, apparently Deborah Kerr had to keep feeding Cary Grant his lines. I don’t know if that’s true, but even knowing this doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story at all.

Like any good romance story, we go into it with a fair idea of what kind of ending we’re going to get – Nickie and Terry, “happily ever after”. The suspense, the reason we keep watching, or keep turning the pages, is to find out HOW. (Especially after what happens to poor old Terry!)

That’s the trick we have to master as romance authors – getting readers connected to our characters quickly, ensure they care about them (Will Nickie follow his passion and become an artist? Will they both find the courage to end their current relationships so they can be together?), and then we must maintain the tension and drama as the hero and heroine find their way back to each other.

In an Affair to Remember, Nickie and Terry face many obstacles along the way to happiness. And I – like many of you, I’m sure – cry along with them!

What’s your favourite classic romantic movie? Tell me about it for a chance to win a copy of Cassie’s Grand Plan.

Four steps to a brand-new life

Cassie Hartman knows what she needs to do to get her life under control. First, she’ll get herself promoted. Then she’ll update her appearance. Steps three and four—marriage and family—well, those will have to wait.

Then Ronan McGuire shows up. The too-sexy, too-polished business consultant has the power to derail Cassie’s plans before she’s even really started. If he doesn’t approve her promotion, she’ll be back to square one—and that’s not an option. Cassie needs to keep her focus on that first step, no matter how much Ronan tempts her to skip ahead to the third and fourth ones….

After years of writing press releases, employee newsletters and speeches for CEOs and politicians – none of which included any kind of kissing – Emmie Dark finally took to her laptop to write what she wanted to write. She was both amazed and delighted to discover that what came out was sexy, noble heroes who found themselves crossing paths with strong, determined heroines. And plenty of kissing.

Emmie’s overnight success has taken about five years to achieve. She began fiddling around with story ideas when the urge to write fiction became overwhelming. In July 2011 she sold her first book to Harlequin SuperRomance and she’s not looking back, with her second sale in September. Both books will be out in 2012.

Emmie lives in Melbourne, Australia, and she likes red lipstick, chardonnay, sunshine, driving fast, rose-scented soap and a really good cup of tea. Like, a really good cup of tea. She’s particularly fussy about it, and has been known to pack her own teabags when she travels. Most members of her family are too scared to make her a cuppa, in case they get it wrong.

Emmie will be giving away a copy of her book and there's a $50 Amazon gift card for names drawn from people who follow her around her blog tour. More info can be found here.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Writing Essentials

When I hunker down for a serious bout of writing (as in “OMG deadline is looming, I must write like the wind” writing), I try to get all my essential writing tools in place before I start. I’m not sure how all of these things came to be so essential to my writing time and space, but I never argue with process and this is just part of my process.

Drinks: Either Diet Coke (w/Splenda) or hot tea. Sometimes both are on my desk at the same time and I’ll alternate between the two. I go through a lot of Diet Coke and tea. A lot. It’s almost embarrassing. I do switch off to decaf tea after the first couple of cups, but I don’t do any of that herbal stuff. Black tea (English Breakfast, usually), splash of milk, no sugar. The Diet Coke needs to be over heavy ice and in a glass, not a plastic cup.

Snacks: I’m a snacker, and it needs to be something small so I can get them by the handful. Kashi’s TLC crackers are good when I want a savory snack, but usually we’re talking jelly beans. Specifically, Jelly Belly Very Cherry jelly beans. (I don’t eat the cheap, nasty jelly beans. DG learned the hard way not to show up with those.) Every blue moon, I’ll be in the mood for some cinnamon ones, but Very Cherry is my go-to jelly bean for writing.

Music: I usually listen to instrumental music. The “New Age Instrumental” is quite good. I also listen to John Bayless a lot. He does Bach-style interpretations of music by the Beatles and Elton John. It’s very good for my brain to work to. (I know it sounds weird, but click on those links and give it a listen.)

I also listen to Enigma a lot. It’s not instrumental, but it’s very meditative, so it seems to work.

Other essentials:

Lip balm. I have tubes of the stuff everywhere in every imaginable flavor and type. Chapped lips bug me and I can’t think.

Lotion: Brand is not important, but it must be unscented. I have very dry skin, you see.

I think there’s something very meditative and relaxing about the motions of putting on lip balm and/or lotion – plus, it feels good, so there’s instant gratification.

My desk is cluttered with general office debris like staplers and such, and there’s always a notepad and pen in the middle so I can write down ideas that come to me that aren’t immediately useful, but it’s not like I need good luck charms or totems in order to write.

Just the essentials. ~grin~

What are your essentials?


Monday, March 12, 2012

Changing Times

The teenage years have officially arrived at our house. Drama Queen turned 12 last week. As many of you surely know, it’s a precious, frustrating time of extreme moodiness, surprisingly mature choices, lingering childishness, and lots and lots of growing. Like I said, precious and frustrating.

But this birthday, the thing I mourned most was the shopping. You see, I used to go to the store and pick out all these cute things that I thought she'd love – clothes, toys, girlie stuff. And she did. Present opening was one surprise after another. Now, not so much.

She's become extremely picky about her clothes, so I didn't even bother shopping before her birthday. We simply went together and spent 5 frustrating hours picking out 7 shirts (half of those were multiples of a type of shirt in various colors), 2 shorts, 3 tanks, and 1 jacket – and various lip glosses, perfume, and accessories. I'm not allowed to pick out the girlie girl stuff anymore either.

The things that I'm allowed to buy are gift cards, books (she keeps a wish list, so this really doesn't count), and well, that's about it.

Sigh… I'm seriously longing for the good ol' days. But I guess if shopping is our major issue, I should count myself lucky, huh?


Friday, March 09, 2012

Makeover Time

Those of you that have seen my roots or worn out sneakers lately are probably itching to work me over. I'll admit I could use a bit of a style revamp, but alas, that is not the makeover I'm talking about today.

Today I'm talking about my website makeover! I've been working with Laron at Ninth Moon Designs for several weeks. It started out with me wanting a new header. Something a little snazzier than I could do myself. By the time we came up with something I loved... it didn't match anything else I had on the page, so we did a complete site overhaul. I love it. It's purple, gray and black. Its sparkly and kinda moody. DB called it 'washed out' but I respectfully reject his assessment. His idea of a great color palate is the lime green and black on his dirtbike.

Here's a sneak peek.

To get the full effect, you'll need to view the whole thing. Pop on over and tell me what you think!


P.S. Congratulations to pjk, Instigator's winner from last week. Please email her with your snail mail address to claim your prize.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

I Shouldn't Laugh

I shouldn't laugh, but I sorta have to. And share with y'all because this was just too dang funny not to. Just don't tell Zilla I did because he'll kill me.

I was sick at the beginning of the week. I tell y'all this so that you'll understand why Zilla volunteered to take the girls to school on Tuesday morning. I went into work, but only for a couple hours so I wasn't in my normal rush mode and he wanted me to take it easy. Wonderful!

I kissed the girls goodbye, sighed a little as the house went silent and continued to get ready for work. Several minutes after I thought everyone had left Baby Girl came running into the bedroom yelling, "They left me!" I was shocked. But the girls had actually gotten ready early for a change so I just thought maybe Sweet Pea and Zilla had gone to the little house to do something to kill the five or ten extra minutes they had. no big deal. I told her that. She countered with, "Nuh uh. The truck's gone."

I jogged to the other side of the house and verified that indeed, Zilla's truck was gone. Trying desperately not to laugh, I picked up the phone and dialed his cell to ask him if he'd forgotten something. It went to voicemail. For those of you familiar with my life, this shouldn't come as a surprise. Our cell coverage is spotty around the house. I asked Baby Girl if she had everything together for when her daddy showed back up at the house - either because I got ahold of him or because he drove to the school to drop Baby Girl off only to realize that she wasn't in the car. She proceeded to tell me her book bag was already in the car. Which is where this whole thing went wrong.

I called Zilla again, holding my sides because it hurt so hard not to laugh. But Baby Girl was just so affronted that she could be FORGOTTEN that I knew if I laughed it would not end well. About the time Zilla answered his truck pulled back into the driveway. Turns out he made it all the way to the church at the end of the street before realizing Baby Girl wasn't there. What tipped him off? It was too quiet in the car. His exactly comment to me was, "I knew something was wrong, by then she'd normally have been chattering on about something." Oh so true.

Apparently Baby Girl loaded her backpack into the truck and then ran back inside to go potty. Somehow Zilla missed the dash back inside and thinking she was in the truck, closed the door. Good outcome - both girls made it to school on time. What I find the most hilarious is Baby Girl's response when Zilla picked her up from school later that day. Without saying anything else to him, she got into the truck and said, "You forgot me!" I feel sorry for whoever she marries. That girl can hold a grudge.

We did have a nice discussion about what she should have done if I hadn't been there. Wonderful opportunity to go over our emergency procedures. Which was a good thing considering her first response when we asked what she would have done was, "Call 911." Not altogether a bad answer, but probably not the first choice. Especially because Zilla would have eventually figured it out and come back for her. She's old enough (and responsible enough) to leave home alone for a few minutes.

But this did bring up a question. What age do you think is appropriate to leave kids at home alone for short periods of time? Sweet Pea will be 11 in a few months and Baby Girl will be 8 soon. They're both pretty mature and I trust them not to kill each other or burn the house down. My main worry is them being able to handle an emergency should one arise.


Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Might as well face it, I'm addicted to...

For months and months I've seen Facebook posts about it. I had no interest in the least in even seeing what it was all about. Then I got Netflix and there it was in the "Recently Added" section. Still I had no interest. Why watch it when I could catch up on old episodes of Bones and see the golden days of Saturday Night Live with Gilda Radner and Jane Curtin (who is now playing the medical examiner on Unforgettable).

Then a couple weekends ago when the weather was dreadful and I was still in a cast and confined to my recliner, I thought, "Why not take a peek and see what all the hullabaloo is about."

And that's when it happened. I became addicted to...

The show is set in the fictional home of the Earl and Countess of Grantham. It depicts the lives of the Crawley family and their servants -- an upstairs/downstaris view of life. Season one opened with the news of the sinking of the Titanic, an event which affected the inheritance of Downton, and ended with learning Great Britain was at war with Germany. Season two took viewers through the war years and ended in early 1920. Each season has only 7-8 episodes, so there's not a lot to watch really. It's not like the 5 seasons of Bones I watched in a two-and-a-half week period last summer so I'd be caught up when the new season started. Talk about a marathon! But I digress.

The cast is brilliant, and the MOST brilliant is Dame Maggie Smith as Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. The plots involve an entail, world events, aristocratic life, valets, ladies maids and footmen, a dead Turk, a cowardly soldier, cover-ups, scandals, crime, forbidden love and more, more, more.

While I'm not normally a fan of British period pieces, this one captivated me, especially the above-named Dowager Countess. PBS has even compiled a video of great Maggie moments.

Watch Downton Abbey: The Best Maggie Moments on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Sadly, season 3 will not air in the U.S. until next winter. But they've given us something to look forward to: Shirley McLaine as the mother of the American-born Lady Grantham. Woohoo! I can already guess there will be fireworks between her character and the Dowager Countess.

Are you a Downton Abbey addict fan? Who's your favorite character? Your least?

P.S. We're participating in Barbara Vey's 5th Anniversary Party over at Beyond Her Book. There's lots of fun, hunky cabana boys and some great prizes. Pop over and say hi!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Blogger hates me

This was not the topic I planned to blog about.

Then I tried to log in to Blogger to blog.

I entered my password five different times. It wouldn't accept it. Then it started giving me a word verification along with my login info, and I swear I've never seen such difficult captchas in my life. Not only are they nonsensical words -- which are very hard to type because your fingers just don't want to do that -- they twist and color the letters to the extent that it's impossible to decipher. It took me so long to get logged in that I lost all desire to blog. By the time I landed on the Compose page, the only thing I wanted to compose was my letter to the Internet telling it to shove it someplace dark and smelly.

And I had a strong desire for wine.

I suck at technology as a whole. I admit that. I got FaceBook figured out, but Twitter still causes me problems. I refuse to even investigate Google Plus or some of those other social media sites because I have enough hassle in my life without trying to navigate another login/password combo with a capcha and a site-specific set of commands for usage.

Oh, and lets not even talk about password requirements... I have a standard set of passwords (I'm sure you do, too.) All meaningful and easy for me to remember, but nonsense to anyone else. (None of them are "password.") But that's just not good enough for some sites. They put restrictions -- must be 8 characters long, containing at least one number or special character, or no special characters, are , in some cases -- but not all -- case sensitive, etc, etc. Hell, there are sites I can't use because I can't remember my stupid password, because I had to design it to their specifications and now I can't log in. I also can't re-register because the email address already exists in their database. But the minute I try to reset the password, all those restrictions come back into play, meaning there's no way I'll remember it next time. (But yet techie types tell you not to keep a notebook of passwords. How the hell am I supposed to remember them all?)

Sometimes I think it would be easier to just become a luddite. Forswear all online socializing and move into a cave. But, at the same time, the internet has brought some really great people and opportunities into my life. I'd miss it. (I'd probably get a lot more accomplished if I lived off-line, but I'd miss it.)

I wouldn't miss the hassle of logging in, though...


Monday, March 05, 2012

Is Honesty the Best Policy?

I recently read a blog post on Writing Honestly on the Daily Post at that struck me in a vulnerable spot. Erica V. wrote,

"I often feel a lot of anxiety before publishing a post. Why?... I worry about my tone, whether or not what I'm saying could be misunderstood, and if I will offend anyone. It's embarrassing to admit that I can feel that self-conscious when writing, but it's true… Do you ever feel like you're holding yourself back?"

I often think twice before posting most of my blogs, because I reveal a lot about myself over the course of them. Some blogs I've completely scrapped. Not because I have a problem sharing – I'm more likely to open my mouth than to shut it! – but because I fear the reader either couldn't care less, or would judge me for those open, honest moments.

I know I'm not perfect. Anyone reading my blogs for any length of time knows I am moody, picky, uptight, perfectionistic, and pessimistic… on a good day. :P But I like to think all that is countered by the good I try to do for those around me, my commitment to my responsibilities and my belief in love. But you never can tell how others see you.

I've found a similar fear of judgment in my resume clients. They often come to a professional writer because they have difficulty articulating their talents and experience. Many also fear readers will think they're bragging or boasting, rather than simply stating their accomplishments. That's a hard thing to overcome.

The same can be true for my fiction writing. I second-guess myself there too, but I'm getting better about trusting my instincts, setting aside the worry over what others will think and just listening to what my characters are saying to me.

Now I need to learn to do the same for myself with non-fiction.

Have you ever tried to write something about yourself for public viewing, or even just for one special person to see? Was it hard or easy for you to Write Honestly?


Friday, March 02, 2012

Good Things Also Come in Moderately-Sized Packages

They're here! They're here, they're here, they're here. My author copies arrived.

The last few weeks have been agonizing. Knowing they're coming soon, but finding my porch empty night after night. Then I went out of town. Of course they would arrive while I was gone!

Fortunately, they came the day I was driving back, so I only had to wait a few hours to hold my baby in my hand.

Everyone has asked how it was. The answer... weird. I'd nearly worked myself into tears before they arrived, imagining how amazing it would be to hold one for the first time. As I sliced into the tape and pulled out the first copy, it was just kind of surreal. Maybe I got all my excitement out of the way when DB called to say it arrived and I shrieked so loudly, I deafened him, Angel and PM.

When I finally picked it up, there was just a weird curiosity. What blurb did they pick out of the book? Who's advertised in the back? Did my dedication come out right? Does my Dear Reader letter still sound as cool as it did when I wrote it? Flipping through it and noticing how small the margins are... I think it may still be sinking in, days later. I sent a tweet to my editor that said having it in my hand meant Harlequin couldn't change their minds, now. She laughed and told me there was no way they'd change their mind. But a part of me had really held back some of the thrill of selling until now.

It's real. Really real. And it's awesome.

Since everyone got their whine on yesterday, let's swing to the other end of the spectrum. March is here, spring is on it's way. What are you looking forward to? I can't wait for my release day and getting to see my next cover for my July book, More Than He Expected.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

Whine About It Thursday

Ever have the kind of day where you just wish you'd stayed in bed? Yeah, that was my day yesterday. The girls were late for school, I was late for work, I got a speeding ticket, Sweet Pea and Zilla were both sick, I ended up working until 6:30 last night and then witnessed an altercation at Panera Bread when I finally stopped to pick up dinner at 7:30. By the end of the day I couldn't help but just laugh. And be grateful I had on clean underwear for the car accident I just knew was going to happen on the drive home (it didn't).

I'm not telling y'all this just to whine, although I have to admit it does help. At some point yesterday I saw an article on MSN that I thought would make a really great blog (it was about using dogs to 'massage' people by letting them walk across your back). Complete with videos. I thought it looked cute and funny. I clicked on the link so I could read the article and post my blog...but when I went to check the link about forty-five minutes later it hadn't loaded correctly. And the story was no longer up on the main page. And a google search provided me plenty of links to massage techniques to use on dogs...not quite what I was going for. So y'all don't have a blog about animals today. If anyone else read the article feel free to share.

Yeah, I'm hoping today is better. It really has to be. Feel free to whine about whatever's going on in your life. And to make everyone's day better, I'll be giving away a signed copy from my backlist to one commenter.