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I’ve Got Nothing…

I’m blogging at Access Romance today and talking about blogging. What topics do you like to read about when you’re blog hopping?

Seriously, I’d like to know. Comment here or at Access Romance. (You get the pretty pictures at Access Romance)

The Spurned Viscountess Tour: What did they wear?

The Spurned Viscountess

The Spurned Viscountess tour continues today. I’m visiting Night Owl Romances and talking about fashion and what people wore in the eighteenth century. How do we know how people dressed?

Here’s the link to Night Owl Romances

I’m also doing a giveaway – win a copy of The Spurned Viscountess.

I hope to see you there!

Spurned Viscountess Tour at Tia Nevitt’s Blog

The Spurned ViscountessI’m visiting fellow Carina Press author, Tia Nevit today. I’m talking about burnout and inspiration. I’m also doing a giveaway. One person who comments on the post will win a download of The Spurned Viscountess.

Here’s the link to Tia’s blog, Debuts & Reviews

Here, Kitty, Kitty… with Ruth Hartman.

Ruth HartmanMy special guest today is Ruth Hartman. Ruth started out life as a dental hygienist but morphed into a romance writer. She has fun working the dental industry into her romances. While her new release Pillow Talk features a dental hygienist/tooth fairy, her next romance Flossophy of Grace also follows the love life of a dental hygienist. Who knew the dental world was so romantic?

Ruth’s first book was My Life in Chains, a memoir about her struggle with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Ruth, her husband and two very spoiled cats live in rural Indiana where Ruth dreams up new and exciting romances. And flosses regularly. Really!

Maxwell paws at my leg with unsheathed claws. Roxy smacks Maxwell’s skimpy striped tail. Ah yes, it’s the nightly ritual. The time has come for…greenies. Or colors, which is what we whisper when we don’t want to raise suspicion among the cats prematurely.

For those of you not familiar with the tasty kitty treats, greenies are the cat’s meow. Literally. My cats go nuts when we get the package out of the cabinet. Or if we walk near the cabinet. Or even glance in the direction of the kitchen. They can even be sound asleep in a kitty-coma, and if one of us tiptoes into the kitchen, they somehow know.

Cats have always been a huge part of my life. I’m a womb-to-the-tomb feline admirer. Thankfully, I was able to morph my husband into a full-fledged cat person after we got married. At first, he acted as if it bothered him to be around them. He even said, “I just don’t want us to be known as those people at the end of the road with 50 cats.” Although I would see nothing wrong with that, I simply smiled and nodded. But now, he picks the furry creatures up, flips them on their backs, and holds them in his huge arms like babies. And he’s always disappointed if they choose not to sleep with us every night. But no, he’s not a cat-person. Right.

My cats greet me at the door after a tiring day of scraping, polishing, and rinsing teeth. They sit in the bathroom while I’m in the shower, then stare at me when I get out. Disconcerting, yes. But I feel the love, nevertheless. And what could be better at five o’clock in the morning than a freezing wet nose or a fluffy tail in your face? I mean, who wouldn’t want that?

It’s for these reasons that I believe every novel’s main character should have a pet. My heroine, Trixie, has three cats. They keep her company since she lives alone. My hero, Graham, also has three felines. And Trixie and Graham even each have a cat named Cuspid. A shout-out to their respective dental professions, even though Graham doesn’t know about Trixie’s night job as the tooth fairy.

Just as pets add interest and spice to our lives, so do fictional pets of fictional characters. Just because Trixie lives inside the covers of a book, why should she be pet-less? Even figments of our imaginations deserve furry love, right?

CONTEST: Win a copy of Ruth’s book, Pillow Talk. All you need to do to go into the draw is ask Ruth a question or tell us if you like your ficitional characters to have a pet. If so, what type of pet?

(Note – the contest is only available to those who live in America or Canada)

PhotobucketTitle: Pillow Talk
Author: Ruth Hartman
Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Contemporary

Synopsis:

Trixie Trident is much too busy to worry about her love life. Her shop Necklaces, Bracelets and Rings, Oh My! has her up to her elbows in beads; Benson the parrot is hungry; and she just chipped her tooth. Plus she’s seriously sleep deprived—that happens when a tooth fairy hits a busy stretch. That’s right, tooth fairy.

But somehow the ideal man drops into her life. Actually she drops into his office. Is it time for Trixie to give up her night job as tooth fairy? Or should she give up the handsome Dr. Graham Keebler? Of course she won’t have to worry about either if he’s stolen from her! Can a magical tooth fairy find true love with a practical dentist?

Visit Ruth at her blog
Purchase Pillow Talk

Kathy Ivan Says Write What You Love

My special guest today is fellow Carina Press author, Kathy Ivan. Her romantic suspense Desperate Choices is out today! Congrats on your release, Kathy. I’m off shopping at Carina Press…

A good friend once told me write what you love and love what you write. I firmly believe that. She said unless you love your story and what you have written, how can you expect the reader to love it? I sometimes forget that’s my job as a storyteller. It’s the reason I love to write. I want to tell people a story, with a compelling beginning, middle, and an emotionally satisfying ending that they will remember and think about after they have “put down the book.”

TDesperate Choiceshat’s the case with Desperate Choices. I loved the story as I outlined it, figuring out who each of the characters was, what motivated them to make the choices they make throughout the book. If I was in the same situation, would I make the same choices?

Back cover: When psychic Theresa Crawford’s former beau walks into her New Orleans New Age shop, she senses trouble. Big trouble. Max Lamoreaux hasn’t come to discuss their relationship—the private investigator is on a case, and he needs Theresa’s help.

Max’s godson is missing. The police have declared Tommy a runaway, but Max’s gut tells him otherwise. While he’s highly skeptical of Theresa’s abilities, her visions provide the only clue as to who’s taken Tommy. The longer Max works with Theresa, the harder it is to resist his desire for the sexy woman.

As they inch closer to finding Tommy, Max and Theresa also discover that time hasn’t diminished their powerful attraction. But Theresa harbors her own dark secrets from her past. Secrets that broke them up before—and could drive them apart again, unless Theresa can learn to trust Max with everything….

Purchase Desperate Choices from Carina Press

For those of you who are readers, there is an excerpt from Desperate Choices on my website. There’s also a book trailer there for the book.

For those of you who are writers (or interested in writing), here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

WRITING TIPS:

1. Never give up. I know everybody says that, but it’s the truth. I decided it was time to retire Desperate Choices. After making a deal with one of my critique partners that I’d send it out one last time (to Carina Press), I gave it one final shot. That was on March 6, 2010. I got the call on May 11, 2010.

2. Get good critique partners. Have people read your manuscript who will give you honest constructive feedback. It’s easy to find people who will read your work and gush and say how wonderful it is, but that won’t get you one step closer to publication; it’ll just make you feel good for the moment. Having people who aren’t afraid of yielding the dreaded red pen and slashing and hacking at your baby may hurt, but it will ultimately make you a better writer.

3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; be true to what you write and write what you love. If you don’t believe and love the story you’re writing, trust me, the reader will be able to tell that in a minute.

CONTEST: Win a download of Desperate Choices by Kathy Ivan! Ask Kathy a question about her book or tell us what your favorite crime/romantic suspense television show is or about a favorite romantic suspense book you’ve read this year.

BIO: Kathy can’t remember a time when books and reading weren’t a part of her daily life. She was blessed with a mother who instilled in her a love of reading at a young age. This progressed into a passion for the written word in all forms, which led to her writing. Every day new stories and new ideas roam through her head, the characters chomping at the bit for their turn to be front and center and have their stories told. That love of storytelling translates into her desire to write and share her stories with others.

Her day job is about as uncreative as it gets. She does medical transcription, spending numerous hours each day trying to decipher the mumbled, garbled, often unrecognizable words physicians are dictating in an effort to make a complete and comprehensive patient record. It’s almost as bad as trying to read their handwriting!

Born and raised in Miami, Florida, she’s lived in various places, from California to Hawaii and back to Florida before finally settling in Texas. Kathy makes her home outside Dallas, Texas. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Dallas Area Romance Authors (DARA).

Visit Kathy’s website

Visiting Risky Regencies

I’m visiting the wonderful ladies at Risky Regencies today and talking about The Spurned Viscountess. I’m also doing a giveaway.

I hope you’ll come and say hello.

Visiting Naughty Author Chicks

I’m visiting Naughty Author Chicks today, talking about time travel and naughtiness. Hmm, I seem to have a fascination with time travel recently… I’m giving away a download of The Spurned Viscountess.

I hope you’ll come and say hello.

(Today’s post below)

A Little Magic with Michelle Picard

I’d like to welcome author, Michelle Picard to my blog today. She’s talking about her new release, Surviving Eden and giving us a little magic!

Michelle PicardI’m happy to be here today at Taste of Kiwi to talk about my newest release, Surviving Eden, and a bit about one of my favorite subjects being a fantasy romance writer – magic. Surviving Eden is the second in my Eden’s Court series, and the books hinge on the following question: What if a modern woman suddenly learns she is heir to the throne of a magical realm hidden in our world and is the most powerful magical being on the planet? That’s my heroine Rachel. She discovers she’s the leader of seven contentious magical races, which include angels, demons, witches, dragons, faeries, shapeshifters and vampires.

As I began the series, I sought for a driving reason for these paranormal races to come together with a singular purpose. I was tired of stories populating their pages with a combination of these species, but no explanation for their joint existence. The first step was creating a shared creation myth. My solution? A goddess forged these groups to work together as protector races for her precious humanity, but they’ve been lax on the job and fallen into a pattern of isolation.

If my creations had a common origin, then the source of their power must have a common source. I’d placed the majority of my action in this contemporary Earth-set fantasy in an imaginary Eden, my own version of the center of creation where the goddess did her work. I created my heroine to have all the powers of the seven races she ruled. So how did she get the magic? Once I realized how pivotal a role I wanted the garden to play, the next leap was easy. Deciding that the magic comes from the soil itself. Like effervescent bubbles in a carbonated soda, magic streams up and into the body, translated out into the particular powers of the races based on how they were each designed by the goddess. It turns out that magic is a limited resource, buried in the core of our Earth, and the ecosystem has been thrown out of balance, the power slowly diminishing. My Eden series explores the mystery of why this is happening and what normally replenishes it even as Rachel is discovering she can channel the greatest stream of this energy and is scared to death by her powers. Magic in my world building is pivotal to holding the fiber of our planet together. If it disappears, Earth dies. No big consequences there, huh? Just the end of the world as we know it. In Ruling Eden, the first of the series and a recent PRISM finalist, the ticking clock is begun during which Rachel must race to solve this problem before the final BOOM.

The struggle to solve this problem continues in Surviving Eden, as Rachel settles into her new relationships, battles her own internal hang-ups about her sexy angel/demon lover Gabriel, and solves the problem of human vampire hunters targeting the vampires who she now calls her own.

I hope you’ve found my version of magic intriguing. To me, the most important part of solid fantasy world building is consistency and fresh approaches. I aimed to add both to my books. I’ve included an excerpt below that gives you a taste of the magic and the way Rachel discovers the hard facts about that power. It occurs when Rachel is trying to avoid Gabriel, and has retreated into the garden for alone time.

Surviving EdenExcerpt:

My voice whispered out into the falling dark of the garden, calling to the earth with a seductive note I’d not used previously. Eager words of welcome tripped over my lips. The earth responded.

Different this time, no rushing whirl of energy shot up into me from below with vacuum and heat. I panicked, as, instead, a piece of me was violently sucked down into the ground, rushing through grass and dirt and rock to disperse outward into the layers of the planet resting underneath Eden. I joined the earth, burrowing like some giant overeager earthworm. Roots of plants and trees brushed against me, their tendrils bursting full with water and nutrients, all brimming with joyous life force.

The earth embraced me, sought to balance out the overwhelming presence of my female energy by reaching toward the males it sensed in the garden above. I finally understood why the use of my magic caused such intense arousal in the men standing close to me. The planet tried to balance female and male energies in every energy transaction. My magical essence was so much more powerful, the earth compensated by tapping into the men. The arousal was a side effect of that tap. Nice to get a grip on the mechanics.

No way I’d screw up my plan to avoid Gabriel with a stray bolt of lust giving him a clue to my location. A simple thought allowed me to bar the earth from tapping into him or Jet, forcing the probing reach for male energy out further to unsuspecting men elsewhere. With a silent apology to said strangers, I pushed further through the soil, ever downward to enter the tiny pores of rock barriers, passed through molten lava, closer to the slow beat of the heart of earth’s core.

There, frozen in wonder, I tasted the raw magic, the undiluted source of Everything.

Whatever allowed me to watch the process, as I was pretty sure my actual eyes had been left aboveground with my actual body, I observed a minute trickle of magic seeping downward through the layers of rock to settle in the potent stew of energy. This was the decaying essence of mortal remains, slowly, inexorably drifting downward to congregate in the breathtaking ball of power directly beneath me to feed the planet’s magic. The trickle was slow, too slow and after a moment, I felt a sense of wrongness around the core.

Power flowed upward and outward from the core, drawn to the call of other Kesayim above as they commanded their magic to their will and demanded the earth respond. Problem was the drain was faster than the trickle down from mortals. The potency of the magic in mortal remains had been diluted somehow and amounted to a whole lot of nothing. The drain by the Kesayim was greater than the supply and the battery for the planet was on the verge of failure.

The first side effect would be a series of stutters as the heart of the planet weakened. Then, as each stutter grew longer, the beat would stop altogether, thrown into arrest, flat-lining. When the magic dried up, the Kesayim would be powerless and as time passed the bedrock of the planet would crumble apart.

Cataclysms coming like falling dominoes, the tectonic plates would pull themselves apart or crush themselves against one another in rapid speed. We’d be destroyed. Everything would be destroyed.

Visit my website at www.michellepicard.com if you’d like to learn more about my books, click on my links to contact me, or read an additional excerpt from Surviving Eden or one from Ruling Eden.

Purchase Surviving Eden

Have a magical day.

Michelle

Surviving Eden Blog Tour

Margo Candela: Writing about Sex and Romance Without A Punch Line

Margo CandelaMy special guest today is chick lit author, Margo Candela who is celebrating the release of her book Good-bye To All That. According to Margo, her husband owes her six months…preferably on a tropical island sipping margaritas. The deal was, she had three years to write her first novel Underneath It All and find a publisher. She signed the book contract at 2 ½ years so she still has that six months coming to her. She’s been musing over a few brochures for Fiji.

Of course, Underneath It All wasn’t her first novel. Her first was a romance novel spoof she wrote at age 15 on an antique typewriter she paid $20 for—actually her mom paid $20. Sadly, Wenchhead and the Isle of Evil Men was never published. Do you think it was the title?

In between Wenchhead and the Isle of Evil Men and Goodbye to All That, Margo enjoyed a trip to magazine land where she wrote articles on everything from extreme sports to computer hardware to plushies(people who are sexually into stuffed animals). Shhh, don’t tell Margo’s mom about that last one. She might want the $20 or the antique typewriter back!

When not writing, Margo vacuums. It’s her secret solution to writer’s block and when she hits the Times bestseller list Margo dreams of buying a Dyson DC 25 Animal. And shoes. Ask her the about the black heels on the cover of Goodbye to All That.

(Credit for Margo’s photo: Alex Ben Parks)

Welcome, Margo!

Writing About Sex and Romance Without A Punch Line by Margo Candela

While I can be shy, I don’t consider myself a prude. I enjoy a good raunchy joke and can tell one, too. Some of my favorite movies (9½ Weeks, Against All Odds, A Room with a View, Say Anything) are all about sex or unabashed, if unrealistic, romanticism.

Nope, I don’t think I’m a prude at all but it has taken me four novels to finally manage to put some real sex into one of my books. Good-bye To All That (Touchstone, July ’10) is the first time I actually wrote something that made me blush and while I didn’t go all the way (I did the whole fade to black thing), it was a milestone of sorts for me.

My novels are funny and my characters don’t take things too seriously even though there is a lot of serious talk about sex and relationships. I’m not at all opposed to bawdy dialog and it sometimes comes so naturally to me that I have to tone it down to fit my characters. But there is a difference between treating sex and romance as a punch line and exploring it on the page. Sex, especially romantic sex, in a book that isn’t about sex or romance takes a deft writing hand to keep it from veering into either camp or erotica territory.

Sex and romance are serious business in books and real life. And, in books at least, I’m not sure how to fit the funny in there and funny is my default mode. I know my next manuscript will center around relationships, both romantic and familial, and while I don’t know how far I’ll take the boy-meets-girl side of things, I’m hopping my readers will find funny sexy enough not miss any actual sex. And if they do, I have a list of movies and books I can recommend that really deliver on both or either counts.

How about you? Do you ever wish an author would include more or less sex in their work?

Goodbye to All ThatHere’s the blurb:

Raquel Azorian is Hollywood’s invisible woman. She stands in the shining light of young starlets giving their careers nudges, her memos help boss Bert create money-making productions, and her practicality keeps her quirky family co-existing peacefully. Amazingly, no one notices. But then Raquel decides she deserves a chance to be the star. Why can’t she have the gorgeous boyfriend? Why can’t she tell the VPs to deal with their own snafus and grab a little power for herself? Why can’t she stop being the middleman in countless family dramas? When Raquel takes off her invisibility cloak everyone in Hollywood notices! Don’t miss it.

Purchase Good-bye To All That

To learn more about Margo or her books visit her website or blog.

Reflections on Three Weeks as a Published Author by Susanna Fraser

My special guest today is Carina Press author, Susanna Fraser. Her recent release The Sergeant’s Lady is garnering excellent reviews, and it’s easy to see why. It’s a great book – go and buy it now. :smile: Over to Susanna…

The Sergeant's LadyIn the last month or two before The Sergeant’s Lady came out, each Monday I’d count the weeks remaining till my Aug. 23 release date and think, “OK. Five more weeks. As long as Carina stays in business and I don’t die, I’ll be an author in five more weeks.” You see, I’m a bit superstitious about counting chickens before they’re hatched and running around the barnyard on their little chicken legs, clucking merrily away. So I decided I wasn’t REALLY an author until my book was actually out there to buy and read. Merely having a contract and the book’s being available for preorder weren’t enough.

Needless to say, Carina is still here, and I made it to Aug. 23 and beyond without succumbing to a car crash, an earthquake, a tsunami (could’ve happened! we vacationed on the Oregon coast and there were tsunami warning signs everywhere!), a rogue tornado, or a premature encounter with the heart attack or stroke family history suggests has my name on it in another four decades or so.

What have I learned, in my three weeks as Really, Truly An Author?

1) You don’t know how your book is going to be received till it’s out there. To prepare myself for the possibility of negative reviews, I made a mental list of all the issues I could imagine a reviewer having with The Sergeant’s Lady. And I’m not going to tell you what those issues were…because not a single one of them has come up yet. Others have, but not the ones I anticipated.

2) You can’t control the process. My book got a mini-flurry of publicity in the week before it released because the humorous last-minute website my husband designed for me went viral (full story here) and because an author in a different genre who’d released a Sergeant’s Lady of his own in 2003 started a discussion thread at Amazon complaining about my book’s title. I didn’t plan either of those things, and it was a bit overwhelming at the time to have so much discussion AROUND my book rather than ABOUT it. Looking back, I’m glad to have gotten the free publicity–and a reminder to stop being such a control freak.

3) You won’t know what your Amazon sales ranking means. This will not stop you from checking it regularly.

4) As thrilling as good reviews and emails from readers who loved your book are, the greatest joy comes from the book you’re writing now and the one you’re planning next. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to finally have an audience beyond my critique partners. But I don’t want to rest on my laurels. Do you love The Sergeant’s Lady? Thanks! So do I–and wait till you see what story I have to tell you next!

Your turn: Writers, what have been the most surprising lessons you’ve learned at each stage of the process? Readers, have you ever been taken by surprise by the reality of a long-dreamed-for goal? One commenter wins a $10 gift card to your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Books on Board.

Visit Susanna’s website or blog.
Purchase The Sergeant’s Lady