Reader Pat Jass stopped by my piece of turf with a really neat handmade ruffly scarf--I'm sure there's a name for it, but it is so cool! I saw a lot of readers and know I'll never remember everyone's names, but thank you so much to those of you who stopped and introduced yourselves. Best part about a book signing.
Which reminds me--I'm still trying to find Kimber. I signed a book for her and it was lying on my table when I closed up for the night. I bought it and brought it home, so sure hope she checks in with me so I can mail it to her!
I arrived in San Antonio Tuesday night and had dinner with authors Ann Roth and Caroline Fyfe at Maria Mia's--the BEST Margaritas in the whole damned town as far as I'm concerned. Wednesday was a day to get acclimated to the muggy San Antonio weather and explore the River Walk. Definitely gorgeous! Wednesday evening was the signing, and afterwards, dinner at Tony Roma's with my assistant editor from Kensington, Martin Biro. I absolutely love Martin--a terrific editor and a whole lot of fun. We ate WAY too much food, but damn it was good!
Martin is now heading up Kensington's ebook imprint, Lyrical--he's going to be fantastic, and I envy the authors who will have the chance to work with him with either print or digital releases or both. (Susan Lyons, aka Susan Fox, aka Savanna Fox, I'm talking to you!)
Thursday was busy--started out by waking up at 9:45, and realizing I was signing Dark Moon at 9:45! Texted Martin to tell him I'd screwed up, showered, brushed my teeth, threw on some clothes and made it there--without coffee--by 9:50. I learned that adrenaline can take the place of caffeine for only a very short time...
Later in the day, after the BookEnds Agency margarita party, (Photo above--that's Jessica Faust, my agent, on the right) I did a panel with Rebecca Zanetti and Cynthia Eden--they're both absolutely wonderful--and I was pleasantly surprised by all the positive comments afterward. The same with the one titled HOW TO WRITE HOT SEX on Saturday. That one was held in a huge room and we filled it--me, along with Christine D'Abo, Delphine Dryden, and Shoshanna Evers. (photo below)
The conference was wonderful. I got to touch base with a lot of old friends, made new friends, did a couple of panels, attended four cocktail parties, and "taste-tested" a variety of margaritas in San Antonio.
It wasn't all parties, though. I also met my new St. Martin’s editor (Eileen Rothschild, right) who is an absolute doll, met with my agent, the wonderful Jessica Faust of BookEnds Literary Agency (who knows me MUCH too well!) and attended a fascinating marketing panel put on by St. Martin's Press that should help me handle my social networking without losing as much writing time. Of course, I ate too much, and drank too much, and I am so thankful that I’d packed enough pants with elastic waists, but all in all, RWA 2014 was a wonderful experience. For those of us who write--and I know a lot of my readers are among that group, whether published or not--it's wonderful to be surrounded by so many others who "get it." They understand what it's like to live with voices in your head, to be driven to get stories down in black and white, to give our characters a voice. It's such an empowering thing to spend time with our peers and know we're taken seriously, not as nut-cases, but as professionals always trying to learn more about our craft.
And now, I’m finishing up the laundry and preparing to leave next Monday night for Charlotte, NC for the Authors After Dark conference and signing at the Westin Charlotte Hotel. In fact, if you live within driving distance, come to the Westin on Saturday, August 9, 2014, from 2-4 for the AAD book signing. Address is 601 S. College Street, Charlotte, NC. I will have a few print copies of Dark Spirit and Dark Refuge to sign, along with Dark Moon and hopefully Dark Wolf.
On another note, you've heard me talk about "re-reading" my favorites. I had just finished Nalini Singh's SHIELD OF WINTER (after reading it three times!) and ended up taking two of her older psy/changeling books along to read on the plane to Texas. Such a wonderful series, and I got to see Nalini and tell her how much I'm loving her books--again and again!
If you want some swag and miscellaneous books, don't forget to enter this month's contest. And if you're interested in reading some terrific romantic suspense, the five-book bundle I'm in -- Fatal Obsession -- will only be available until around Labor Day (that's September 1) for $4.99. Then it will come down, and those same titles will only be available as single title books once again at their regular price.
And Kimber, if you're out there, leave a comment so I can find you!
This contest will run until Sunday morning, as I'll be busy getting ready to leave on Monday and won't have time to deal with it then. Take care, be safe, and enjoy these last days of summer as we start rolling into Fall. And don't forget--be safe, enjoy life, and save time to read a few good books!
Once again I’m making it in under the wire....barely! Got home from RWA in San Antonio early Sunday morning and have spent the past two days doing laundry and going through stuff. Yes...lots of stuff! Which is why my contest this month will be bags of swag from RWA for two of you, including books from the Rita entries I read to the books that were given out at the conference. I didn’t get as much stuff as I usually do or as many books, so can only award two bags, but there’s definitely stuff...
This is what hits us the opening night of RWA! The Literacy Signing, where readers start lining up a little after noon for the 5:30 signing. This photo was taken looking toward the short side of the room, the wall I was closest to. The next one is the other direction...it was nuts! I have a lot of admiration for the husbands who accompany their women and carry huge bags of books.That's the sign of a really healthy marriage!
There are still a few openings for Authors After Dark.
Yes, folks, this is my June newsletter, and I'm admitting to barely squeaking in under the wire, but it's been crazy busy here. I was almost done with Intimate when my editor asked me to make the story longer, so I've been going back and doing things with it I wanted to do before but didn't have the room with the original word count. It's taking me longer, but there's going to be a lot more meat to the story.
It's been hot and dry here. I'm so glad we don't have a lawn, as the beautiful yards here in town are mostly brown. (You can tell when someone's not being careful with water usage--green and lush is NOT good!) Dirty cars and brown lawns are becoming a symbol around town, though my husband did manage to wash my filthy Subaru with a one gallon bucket of recycled water, and rinsed it with about the same amount, also recycled. I was impressed. Of course, I must drive with a look of shame on my face...
Our yard is mostly drought tolerant plants and everything is on drip. Even so, we've managed to cut our water usage by over 40% compared to last year. It hasn't been that difficult--larger wash loads, saving the water that generally goes down the sink while waiting for hot water in the shower--that sort of thing. Our lives revolve around those big, white, five gallon buckets!
The drought was really brought home to us when we traveled into northern California for a short getaway earlier in the month. The beautiful wetlands up near Tule Lake were bone dry. That's a major rest stop for migrating waterfowl, and there were very few areas with any water at all. It's pretty scary stuff.
Enough doom and gloom--I won't be around much over the next couple of weeks as our son and his family are here for their annual summer vacation. Of course, since they live in Hawaii, it's hard to know what they're vacationing from...too much paradise? We only get all six grandkids together a couple of times a year, so I'm looking forward to seeing everyone.
As soon as I finish writing INTIMATE, I plan to jump right into the next book. Still not sure of a title, but since I'll be writing about a man who is trying to find peace after making some terrible mistakes in his youth, I'm leaning toward the title, REDEMPTION. Not sure if my editor will go for it or not. My agent doesn't think it's sexy enough. Personally, I don't think there's anything more romantic than a strong man brought to his knees by love, one willing to become a better man because he's found a woman who loves him even though he's flawed.
Benjamin Lowell is deeply flawed, but after almost twenty years' worth of penance, it's time for him to find out what life really has to offer.
I've had a chance to read some wonderful stories over the past couple weeks--RIVER'S BEND by JoAnn Ross, a revised, expanded version of her book, Murphy's Law. It's wonderful, a real "feel good" story. That's been my theme over the past few weeks--reading books that make me feel good! Obviously, Robyn Carr's newest, THE PROMISE, was a perfect fit. An excellent story and a wonderful chapter to her Thunder Bay series. One of the gems I read was a novella by Susan Fox, aka Susan Lyons, aka Savanna Fox. STAND BY YOUR MAN is part of her Caribou Crossing series. Susan has the amazing skill to take flawed characters and turn them into perfect romance heroes. She also writes multicultural stories with the characters so perfectly drawn that you can't help but see them as real people.
I've always liked the idea of writing stories with variations of race and ethnicity without bludgeoning the reader OVER the head with the characters' color. I recently received a one star review on Amazon from a reader who bought DARK REFUGE because there's a "black man" on the cover, and then she trashed the book because I didn't talk about Gabe's "blackness." Those of you who read the series know that Gabe is biracial--his father, Anton Cheval, is white. His mother, Keisha Rialto Cheval is black, but all three of them are Chanku. That's the most important racial/species characteristic Gabe--or any of the pack--have, but I guess you can't please everyone.
Okay...rant over. I hope you've all had a good start to the summer. For those of you looking for reading material, I'm offering ebook copies of some of my self-published stories, mainly because it's easier to send an ebook via email than to package and mail a print book.
Choose one of the following titles, and PLEASE note it in your entry. I've been pretty forgiving, but not this month. When you enter the contest, I'll need your name and email address, but instead of your street address, tell me the title of the book you want, and the FORMAT! Be specific--mobi, epub, pdf, or html. You can choose from the following titles:
COWBOY IN MY POCKET
CARVED IN STONE
68 & CLIMBING
(Oops...Unbalanced is already free online! I forgot...)
That's it for now--I won't pick winners until next weekend, so you've got time to enter. There are first chapter excerpts of all those titles on my website, so if you're curious you can check them out. Get your entries in--name, email, title and format.
And don't forget to take time for yourselves. Life's pretty busy--we all need to learn to slow down and enjoy. And if you're curious about the pictures of the lily up above, I was so fascinated by the difference in photos taken in daylight and at night that I wanted to share. And I'll close with a shot of this little guy, cheerfully munching away on my parsley...if you're on Facebook, you may have already seen him! He'll grow up to be a yellow swallowtail butterfly.
Have a wonderful FOURTH of JULY, all of you folks here in the states!
This is totally self-indulgent--that's my spouse and me in the back seat of a 1915 Overland touring car he helped his dad rebuild, taken on our wedding day in 1972. We just celebrated our 42nd anniversary, and I'm still not sure where the time has gone! (though must admit, six grandkids are a pretty effective reminder!)
But, that's only part of the reason I'm so late getting out--at least I've made it before the month of May is over. I hope you appreciate the fact that I spend at least a week or more WORRYING about getting my newsletter written. That's got to count for something.
The hard part is finding the time to write it. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks—but aren’t they all? I finished TANGLED, the novella for St. Martin’s Press, and I was absolutely thrilled when the editor told me she loved the stories and the characters. This is a good thing, because it sets the stage for the rest of the series—as yet unnamed—that I’ll be writing for them.
Currently, I’m down to the last 20,000 words of INTIMATE, which is the first novel, and then I have to dive into the second one, as they're planning a "back to back" release. I’m still not sure what the title for that one will be, though I know the characters, and the toughest job will be making my hero likable enough. He was a real jerk when he was young, and I’m hoping he’s finally enough of an adult that I’ll be able to find something good about him. If not, the series is in deep sh*t!
For those who’ve been asking, my editor assures me that DARK REFUGE should be available in print by the weekend if all goes well, and definitely by next week. I’ll send out a blast as soon as I know for sure.
Other news—I’ve been reading. A lot. I do that when I’m particularly stressed, and trust me, I HAVE BEEN STRESSED!!! (Okay, enough bitching...)
I just finished the most amazing two-book series ever by a long-time friend of mine, Pam Ripling, who writes as Anne Carter. Look for UNMASKING PAULIE BINGHAM, and FOR THE LOVE OF KATRINA BINGHAM. The premise is simple but unconventional—a young make-up artist falls for a gay British pop star, and surprisingly (to Paulie, more than anyone else) he falls in love with her. The story of their romance covering many years is absolutely wonderful. Two flawed people who have something so special that—while it occasionally falters—withstands everything that comes between them. I absolutely loved these books and it took me over a week to give them a spot on my keeper shelf because I read each of them three times, and still wanted to go back to the beginning and read them again! I finally put them away so I could get some work done.
UNMASKING PAULIE BINGHAM is only $2.99 for Kindle, and $1.99 for FOR THE LOVE OF KATRINA BINGHAM.
At Barnes and Noble, same price for Paulie's story and for Kate's.
I don’t usually pimp books quite this seriously, but these are remarkably well done, and they haven’t found their audience. I know a lot of you are willing to read things outside the lines (or you wouldn’t read my books!) and I would love to see these stories find readers who will appreciate them. They’re also available in print at Amazon.com, though I think that’s the only place for now. These are self-published, and really good. And if you do read them, please let me know what you think, leave a review, or whatever. I’m thinking of this like my own Kickstarter campaign.The books are THAT good!
Of course, I had to totally change direction when it was time to read something else, so I pulled out JR Ward’s POSSESSION. The FALLEN ANGELS series is so dark and SO convoluted that they’re like a drug. I know when I start one that nothing else will get done, and I love the way she ties this series in, by location and a couple of crossover characters, to her Black Dagger Brotherhood series. If you haven’t read any of the others in this series, though, I’d really recommend that you start at the beginning. I think each story could stand alone, but they’re so much better with all the background of the first four books.
I’m a huge fan of JR Ward’s, and loved THE KING. One of these days, when life settles down, my goal is to go back and read the entire Black Dagger Brotherhood series in one marathon read. She has an amazing voice as an author.
I also finished reading Savanna Fox’s DARE TO BE DIRTY, and BOUND TO BE DIRTY. They were excellent, the latest two of her DIRTY GIRLS BOOK CLUB. Again, the kind of romances that leave you smiling.
Jayne Ann Krentz’s latest historical by Amanda Quick was really fun—no paranormal elements in OTHERWISE ENGAGED, but it’s a wonderful historical mystery with great characters. She writes people I’d love to get to know in the real world, but since I haven’t been able to find them hanging out here in Healdsburg , I have to satisfy myself with her totally entertaining books. Works for me! Again, highly recommended. Jayne's also got a new Rainshadow novel coming out at the end of August. Watch for THE HOT ZONE.
If any of you—like me—are Dakota Cassidy fans, TALK THIS WAY, a wonderful novella in the same community as her PLUM ORCHARD series, is free right now at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.
I've got a couple of personal appearances coming up this summer. Any of you who live near San Antonio, Texas, I’ll be signing books at the Romance Writers of America Literacy Autographing on July 23. Here’s the info:
The RWA2014 Literacy Autographingwill be held on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at the San Antonio Marriott Rivercenter Hotel in the 3rd floor ballroom.
And if you’re within driving distance of Charlotte, NC, I’ll be signing at the Authors After Dark conference. The signing is free, but there are also a few openings for attendees—this is not an expensive conference to attend (or believe me, I wouldn’t be going because NC is NOT easy to get to from here!) but it’s one of the best times you can have if you’re a romance fan--or a romance author. Just take lots of tote bags to carry home all the free books and swag...not easy on a plane!
Authors After Dark 2014 will have 100 featured authors and 25 Author ambassadors for the YA, NA and crossover genres.
601 S. College Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
And that’s about it! As far as this month's contest, I’m giving away a two-book set of DREAM BOUND and DREAM UNCHAINED, and three copies of DARK MOON. I’m having a terrible time with deliveries of my international mailings, so for now, anyway, I’ll give out ebooks to those winners—copies of either DARK SPIRIT or DARK REFUGE, or if there’s another of my indie pubbed titles, one of those.
I’m sorry to have to do this, but too many books are not getting where I’m sending them, and they take way too much time and effort. I can’t afford doing things that cut into so much of my writing time. When you enter the contest, I think you can just note after your address what book you’d like to win. And my US winners are also free to ask for an ebook for a prize. I have most of the available formats for anything that I’ve published on my own.
I really need to get to work. Sorry to ramble on so much—I’m actually working on my story while writing this, though I wasn’t planning to. BUT, a thought just popped into my rather strange mind that will help me with a part of the chapter I’ve been having trouble with, so I need to finish gabbing and get this sent.
I hope you’ve had a good month of May and you’re ready for summer, though all of you Down Under are gearing up for winter. Let’s hope the coming months aren’t as drastic as the weather we’ve been having. Amazing how you don’t really think of weather until it totally messes with your life, isn’t it?
Take care, all. I’m sorry to have rambled on for so long. This contest will end on Friday, so get your entries in right away. (That way I can still call it my May newsletter and contest, right? )
Be safe, and take time to read a good book. Once in a while, you really need to remember to do something for yourself.
I'm a romance author--I really love those happy endings, though I don't mind putting my characters through pure, unadulterated hell before they get there...
Contests are back! I'm not totally settled, but really miss giving things away, so ready or not, I'm going to start slow. International entries are welcome, though I will have to limit International winners to ebooks. Postage costs are just too high. Your addresses will not be shared or sold--I respect your privacy. I will only collect addresses if I am giving away print books. I won't be doing that as much because I've got very few print books left in my stash, but I do have other things!