Saturday, March 31, 2012

Why I Love Romance

by Josie Malone

Hi Maggie,
Thanks for inviting me. I’m glad to be here and talk about why I love romance.

When I graduated from high school, I was determined to be a writer. My creative writing teacher had told me I had talent and suggested college. I came from a poor, single-parent household, and higher education wasn’t possible. No one in our extended family had ever attended college. The girls got married and the boys went to work.

I was the first girl in the family to graduate from high school and the last thing I wanted was a husband. I went to work for a temporary office service and washed dishes at night in a restaurant. I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream of joining the Army because I was needed at home to raise my younger sisters and work the family farm. I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve instead. When the wolf was at the door with a litter of pups, as my grandfather used to say, or when times were even harder, the civilian liaison of my Army Reserve unit, Ed Matthews would put me “on orders.”

At nearly eighteen, I was fascinated with romance. I had read tons of them growing up and they were my favorite fantasy. I always wanted a hero on a white horse to rescue me although I knew it would never happen. Life in a single-parent household taught reality. Men came with baggage and they always expected women to buy the suitcases, so while I taught myself how to type during my office job, I also worked on my first book.

My orders ran out about the time I finished the novel, so I bundled up my baby and shipped it off to Harlequin Books in Canada. I didn’t know anything about the publishing business, so I mailed the only copy I had. In addition to this no-no, I also didn’t have a clue about setting up a manuscript. I finished each chapter and began the next one on the same page, a fatal flaw. I also used up every scrap of paper and didn’t worry about such things as margins, or double spacing the lines of text.

Worst of all, while the man my heroine thought she loved was dashing, romantic and charming – he was also unfaithful, dishonest and nasty, a little too much like the real life I knew about. She ended up with her nice, quiet, dull best friend, Toby – the kind of guy a woman could spend a lifetime loving, but he wasn’t a traditional romance hero. Eventually, I received a letter. Harlequin liked my book. However, all the purchases at the time were made in England, so my book was going somewhere I HAD NEVER BEEN, LONDON!

It took a few more months for the book to finally be rejected, but by then I was hard at work on my next romance novel. At eighteen, I had almost made it and I was determined to become a successful novelist. College still wasn’t an option. I could only learn so much from books and magazines, so I began to attend talks by published authors. I saved every extra cent to pay for conferences and workshops, usually by riding the bus and not driving the car to work.

From these published authors who were paid to write, I started to learn the mechanics behind the mysteries of creating saleable work. They taught the requirements of specific genres, good novel proposals, effective synopsis writing, enticing query letters and even the proper use of adverbs as well as so-called “being” words, i.e. “try to cut as many of those as possible.” I joined Romance Writers of America. I also submitted my work to editors and literary agents and began to collect rejection letters. And I kept reading romance, learning from the best.

It still provided an escape from every day responsibilities. While I didn’t know that it would take years before I sold my first romance, I wasn’t going to give up on the genre. Now, I write mainstream western romance. The horse knowledge comes from what I learned on the family farm and now I create heroes who help my heroines save the day. And yes, sometimes the baggage from fifty years of living plays a big part in my stories.



My newest book was a lot of fun to write because it’s a spin-off of the first western romance I did for BookStrand, A Man’s World. In that historical western romance, Trace Burdette masqueraded as a man, fooling everyone but new neighbor, ruggedly handsome Zebadiah Prescott. With their love on the line, they had to deal with the past and the outlaw who killed her grandfather and stalked her. By the time that A Woman’s Place begins, Trace and Zeb have been married for just over six months when renegades rob the bank she owns in the town of Junction City.

So, our hero, Rad Morgan, the marshal of Junction City sets off to capture the miscreants. Along the way, he meets his match, and Iraqi War veteran/homicide detective Beth Chambers takes no prisoners. She’ll fit right into 1888 Washington Territory. Of course, I had to figure out how to get a woman from 2012 to the Old West and why she was even there, but that was part of the adventure and the paranormal elements kept escalating. Much to Rad’s initial dismay, Beth and Trace become fast friends.



A WOMAN’S PLACE BLURB:
Trailing a serial killer, Homicide Detective Beth Chambers is thrust into 1888 Washington Territory where she encounters injured Rad Morgan, a ruggedly handsome marshal who believes A Woman’s Place is behind her man. Now, Beth must save Rad’s life, apprehend the killer, and prove herself capable as a law officer.

Former soldier and survivor of Andersonville Prison Camp, Marshal Rad Morgan faces his toughest challenge in Beth Chambers, a determined woman from the future who’s never learned “her place.” But when he is shot and left for dead, he must put himself in Beth’s hands if they both want to survive.

Can these two headstrong people put their pride aside and work together to find the deadly killer and stop him before he destroys this world and their future? As they fight for justice, love helps them discover A Woman’s Place is what and where she chooses to make it.

JOSIE MALONE BIOGRAPHY: 

Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State in what was once a summer vacation cabin. It’s been modernized and even has indoor plumbing – woo-hoo! I share the cabin with my two cats or maybe, they share it with me. I usually write at night after a long day on the ranch. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 36 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals. With all the critters on the ranch, I don’t have time for a husband. As for kids, I have to give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and in my next 50 years, I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I write romance…

By Joanne Pibworth



I'm a self-confessed romance junkie - I love to read it, watch it and write it. I've been writing now for around four years, and was lucky enough to be chosen as joint runner up along with Maggie in the Mills & Boon 2009 writing competition. That heralded the start of a busy year, getting the call from M&B to say i'd been chosen was a complete dream come true. Hot on its heels came an email from one lovely Maggie Marr, fellow runner up in the comp.

Hi Jo,
Shall we read for each other as we are in the same boat?

Hell yeah! It really did make the experience all the more special to have someone to share it with, and I'm thrilled that Maggie's winning manuscript is now available to buy as Can't Buy Me Love. Cole and Meg's story touched me, and I'm sure it will touch the hearts of everyone who reads it.

Over the years I've gone from being not particularly media savvy, to falling totally in love with blogging, twitter, facebook - social media rocks. I get to have my favorite authors in my living room courtesy of twitter, have lost hours creating manuscript mood boards on Pinterest, and and I’ve joined a terrific group of romance writers on the Minxes of Romance blog. I honestly don't know what I did with my down time before writing - it fills every nook and cranny of my day to day life, and I go to sleep each night mulling over what might happen next.

The big, stand out discovery for me since I started to write has definitely been the romance writing community itself. Has there ever been a more welcoming bunch of women? Everyone has been so welcoming and supportive, and unbelievably free with advice and tips. The lack of rivalry is lovely, there really is room for everyone.

Right now i've veered away from series romance and am in the scary process of approaching agents with my first completed full-length romantic comedy manuscript. I’m as wobbly as jell-o with nerves, but i'm trying hard to develop a protective armour so the rejections don't sting too much. They are a necessary evil, aren't they? I'm trying to view them as badges of honour. Every one is a step forward, and truth told I kind of love the adrenalin of it. It's exhilarating. It's nail biting. It’s life changing. It's totally addictive, and I truly love it.

Can I take a moment to wish Maggie the absolute best of luck with Can’t Buy Me Love – as someone who is lucky enough to have read it, I can whole heartedly recommend it.

You can follow Joanne on her website and at Minxes of Romance.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Into Romance with Julie James

I am a big fan of Julie James books and she was kind enough to answer some of my questions about her latest book and her process. She is also giving away a copy of her upcoming book About That Night to one lucky commenter.



Tell us about your latest book.

My upcoming release, About That Night, is a contemporary romance that hits bookstores on April 3rd. It's about an ex-con, Kyle Rhodes, (who also happens to be a billionaire heir) who has just been released from prison after being convicted for hacking into Twitter. After being dubbed the "Twitter Terrorist,'" he wants to put the past--and his mistakes--behind him. He's therefore quite irked when the U.S. Attorney's office, the very prosecutors who threw him in prison, want his help in a high-profile homicide investigation involving a corrupt prison guard. But the Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case just so happens to be a woman from Kyle's past, and may be the one person Kyle can't say no to…

More information about the book, and an excerpt, can be found here.

What pulled you into this story, and as a writer made you think ‘I have to write this’?

About That Night is a follow-up to my current release, A Lot Like Love. (I should mention, however, that each book can easily be read as a standalone.) In A Lot Like Love, the heroine, Jordan Rhodes, is a wealthy store owner and she agrees to pose as the girlfriend of an undercover FBI agent (as part of a sting operation) in exchange for her twin brother's release from prison. So About That Night is the story of what happens to that twin brother once he gets out of prison.

In A Lot Like Love, there's a scene early in the book where Jordan goes to visit her brother in prison. And I knew from the moment Kyle stepped on to the page that he was going to get his own book. Despite the orange prison jumpsuit he was wearing (ha!), he seemed like hero material--or at least a hero in progress. So I had a lot of fun redeeming him in About That Night.


Tell us about your writing process. Do you outline or are you more organic?

I'm a plotter, so yes--I do outline. I generally draft a 10-15 page outline for the book before I start writing. But once I begin actually writing the book, I rarely, if ever, go back and look at the outline. By then, the story is familiar enough in my head, but I also want the freedom to be able to deviate from that outline if inspiration takes me in a different direction.

What do you love about being an author?

Being able to interact with readers! Truly, one of the best compliments that someone can give me is that my book made him or her laugh. When that happens, I know I've done my job.



After graduating from the University of Illinois College of Law, Julie James clerked for the United States Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, Florida. She then practiced law with one of the nation’s largest law firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of her scripts, she decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time. Her books have been translated into thirteen languages and Julie’s most recent novel, A LOT LIKE LOVE, is a national bestseller.

Julie James lives with her husband and two children in Chicago. Her next novel, About That Night, will be available in April 2012.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My First Romance

by Maggie Marr

Today my first romance publishes. Can't Buy Me Love arrives into the world. This book was a labor of love (bad pun intended). My good friend and author Ally Carter was the person who originally suggested that I try my hand at writing a contemporary romance. I mean--I loved reading them so why not write one?

Can't Buy Me Love began as an entry to the Harlequin Presents contest over 2 years ago. I was a runner up in that contest. I then wrote, rewrote, and rewrote (yes again) the manuscript under the guidance of Bryony Green at Modern Heat. While Bryony didn't buy the book she left me with a pretty solid manuscript.

Then throw in a couple other writing gigs, a tv pilot, a film and now you get to about 6 months ago. That is when I dug out Can't Buy Me Love and decided to rewrite (yes again) and then edit (yes again) the manuscript. Then I hired the fabulous Kim Killion to design the cover, the amazing Anne Victory to edit, and finally the remarkable Lori Bennett to format. And voila here is my very first contemporary romance Can't Buy Me Love!



I think she's beautiful. I love this book inside and out and hope you do too.

Leave a comment about your favorite moment of romance--anything will do--a rose, a card, a romantic dinner and you'll be entered to win a copy of Can't Buy Me Love!

Spring Into Romance

by Sarah Wendell



When Maggie asked me to guest blog for her "Spring Into Romance" event, it wasn't spring. It was December - and boy, let me tell you, planning ahead is a powerful thing. The minute she started talking about spring, I thought about daffodils and crocus and forsythia and all the signs that mean it's finally warming up, and they seemed a long way off. Sure, I'll guest blog, I said. Spring is never going to get here anyway, it's so cold outside now. She might as well have been asking me to write something for 10 years into the future, that's how far off spring seemed to me at that moment.

Now it's definitely spring. March showed up whether I was ready or not, and all the planning ahead I'd done last fall is showing up now. I made the mistake of buying not one but THREE bags of bulbs at Costco. If you know Costco, you know most of what they sell is huge - and a bag of bulbs at Costco is about 50 bulbs. So I had 150 tulip and daffodil bulbs to plant, and somehow I got it done one random Saturday afternoon last fall.

Then I promptly forgot about them. Spring was 10 years off, you know?

Now there's green things popping up all over, and the flowers are nearly ready to bloom. It's a lot warmer, and even though taking too deep a breath might make me sneeze, I want to breathe in as much as possible outside.

While spring for some people means gardening and sports and more activity, spring for me is moving outside to sit and read. I do more to the patio each year so that while I sit outside covered in bugspray, it's green and colorful, it smells good, and I have a perfect place to sit and read.

Reading romance is my oasis from stress. I've said before that at any given moment, women do seven or more things at once. If you catch me in the evening, I'm packing lunches, feeding the dog, feeding my kids, overseeing homework, starting dinner, sorting the mail and planning for tomorrow in the same minute. Most women I know do seven things at once. When I'm reading, especially when I take time to read a romance, it's the only time I do just one thing.

Watching the flowers I planted last fall showing up six months later reminds me that I have to slow down and not miss what's happening now. If I took the time to plant all those bulbs then, I can take the time to enjoy them now. Last fall I planted squat onion looking things in the dirt and it was a chore I had to get done since I'd bought giant huge bags of bulbs (clearly I was out of my mind).

Now I think I was clearly a genius to buy so many because it's about to be beautiful in my yard. If I go outside to sit and read a romance, all activity stops. That's the only thing I'm doing at that moment, and I find myself recharged a bit when I'm done. Knowing that I planned to make my reading spot more beautiful last fall reminds me that I need to take advantage of what I did and stop and read. The dishes can wait, and if I pack lunches in a half hour, there's no harm done. Winter is definitely a season for staying inside and reading under a blanket. Spring and summer bring the encouragement to go do many things outside - and clearly last fall I sent myself a message that I should stop and smell the flowers, and go read outside.

It's finally warm enough that I can go and read. And since there's no shortage of really awesome romances being published this spring, I have plenty to choose from - including Maggie's new book, Can't Buy Me Love. I've even organized my reading for the next few months so I've got a schedule of anticipated books.

I hope this spring you stop for a moment, appreciate the growing warmth and color of spring, and read as much as possible!

Sarah is the co-founder of Smart Bitches, and the author of the book Everything I Know About Love, I Learned from Romance Novels, from Sourcebooks. Sarah is also the co-author of Beyond Heaving Bosoms: the Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels, published in April 2009 by Touchstone Fireside. Yes, Sarah really does seem to like Really Long Titles for things!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Yes, It Really Is Research

by Megan Crane



Sometimes we all need a little help getting into the mood. It’s okay to admit it. We’re among friends here at Maggie’s blog. There’s no shame in admitting you need some outside help to get there now and then.

I’m talking about writing, of course.

Writing romance, specifically, which I do quite a lot of using both of my writerly personalities—Megan Crane, who is a critically acclaimed author of women’s fiction and Caitlin Crews, who is a USA Today Bestselling author of Harlequin Presents. I recently finished my twenty-third book, meaning I’ve written twenty-three love stories in my near-decade of being published. I love it. But. There are some mornings when everything is wrong and I’m cranky and I’m just not feeling the love, fictional or real. What’s a writer to do? Light candles? Cast spells? You can do that, sure. Let’s not rule anything out.

But when all else fails, I turn to Pinterest.

I find that the purely academic study of the male form, for research purposes, is remarkably inspiring. Take this series of pictures of model David Gandy, which I found on Pinterest and which I used as a jumping off point for my most recent hero:







Looking at a lot of pictures of the hero I’m supposed to be writing about really helps fire up my writing. It helps me set the tone, and maintain the intensity as I go. But it’s not all staring at pretty men. I gather pictures of possible settings. Perfect moments. So much in romance novels is, really, the prelude to a kiss. So why not look at some beautifully captured moments of ALMOST (all that yearning and longing and tension) to help keep the words flowing?







Feeling inspired? I know I always am. I’ve found Pinterest to be as much of a writing tool as it can be a procrastination method—which is not always the case! There are so many images that spark new directions and new ideas, things I might not have thought of in quite that way on my own. Sound good? Feel free to look me up: Megan Crane Pinterest And join in the (daily) inspirational conversation! Who knows? Whole books could come from the next image you see, or if you’re not a writer, well, maybe your next really great daydream…

Speaking of daydreams, I’d love yours to feature one of my stories. I have an advance copy of my June release from Harlequin Presents to give away. Here’s a blurb:



Becca Whitney has always lived with the knowledge that her blue-blooded family disowned her as a baby. So when she receives a summons to return to her family's ancestral mansion, she's intrigued.

Theo Markou Garcia needs a wife — or at least someone who looks strikingly similar to his infamous fiancée — and Becca would be the perfect replacement.

The deal he proposes is for Becca to masquerade as the Whitney heiress in exchange for her own true fortune! But then she begins to fall for Theo...

Tell me what romance novel rocked your world recently in the comments and I’ll pick a winner. And come say hello on Pinterest, too!

You can find Megan Crane and her alter ego Caitlin Crews on all social media. Megan Crane Website Megan Crane Facebook Megan Crane Twitter Megan Crane Goodreads and Megan Crane's Blog Caitlin Crews website Caitlin's Facebook Caitlin's Goodreads

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Into Romance

By Laura Spinella



I straddle the line. Since we’re here to promote romance, and aside from being the truth, I thought the word lent itself to the occasion. My novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, lives on the edge between women’s fiction and romance. Though, sometimes, I do feel lost in my own middle-earth. The hope, agent, editor and author alike, is that the book finds a cross section, readers who crave a love story, as well as those who seek the more grounded concept of women’s fiction. I was even given an elevator pitch when it debuted: BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, women’s fiction with a heavy thread of romance. In theory, the novel caters to both book clubs and beach reads.

I suppose your next question is, “So how’s that workin’ for you?”

So far, so good—to a point. Our wonderful host, Maggie Marr, initially thought my book too women’s fiction oriented to be part of a dedicated romance blog. Hmm, therein lies a little of the problem. Romance readers, who tend to stick with tradition, don’t naturally gravitate toward my novel, or my half of the bookstore. I can, however, promise lovers of romance that there is plenty to be had in BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Writing Mia and Flynn’s love scenes was a knack I stumbled upon, never having written one before they took to the page… bed. Suddenly, there I was, a bit of a voyeur, hovering in their moment. Some readers have suggested this is why it works; I put a different spin on the customary bedroom vernacular and vision. In my own head, I think it works because I never set out to write a love scene. It (they) grew organically out of the moment, and in my experience that’s where the best writing comes alive.

On the other hand, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER will take women’s fiction purists on a journey they may not have anticipated. During visits with book clubs, I found gentle shock to be a common reaction. After we get past the throat-clearing angst, generally facilitated by a glass of wine, come the questions: “Was it difficult to write those scenes?” “Have your kids read the book?” “I admit, I happily read them twice.” I thought the last comment was high praise, considering it came from a woman with PhD in a church-run book club. With Fifty Shades of Gray currently crashing through the glass ceiling, those may seem like tame observations. Admittedly, I have not read that book, though I feel the need to pay homage as it appears to be resetting the bar.

Interestingly, the blushing responses I’ve received are exactly what drove me to write BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Why couldn’t romance be a serious part of women’s fiction? I couldn’t find what I wanted on the bookstore shelf, so I wrote it myself. I’d tired of books where the first chapter was an ode to motherhood, starting off with the main character reflecting on the joys of breastfeeding. While I might be able to relate, I wasn’t interested in stories that could be happening across the street. For me, the various concepts had exhausted themselves, relying on the husband who died, vanished or otherwise fell from favor, thereby challenging the woman/mother to reinvent her life. The alternate women’s fiction scenario seemed to center on the deliriously depressed female character, the narrative dissecting the minutia of their lives. What I wanted was a deliciously layered plot with exciting but relatable characters who stepped slightly beyond the boundaries of everyday life or even suburban disaster. I didn’t want love scenes whittled down to a cursory mention. And, I don’t mind saying, I wanted a happy ending.



So my novel is a departure. It’s not traditional romance in the sense that more is at stake than the fate of the hero and heroine, though their story certainly drives the plot. It also cannot be defined as true women’s fiction, as it steps too far from the themes so prominently associated with the genre. I like to think it’s a hybrid, a book that strives to satisfy the widest range of readers, sharing in the single idea that we all love a good book.



Beautiful Disaster is women’s fiction with a heavy thread of romance (see above) that asks this of the reader: What would you risk for a love that is greater than honor or friendship or the passing of time? Beautiful Disaster was voted Best First Book, 2011 by New Jersey Romance Writers of America. It was also named A Favorite Book of 2011 at SheKnows.com. For more information on Beautiful Disaster, visit Laura’s site, www.lauraspinella.net

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

WHAT INSPIRES CAN ALSO THRILL YOU!

by Charlene Sands



As a multi-published author, the second question I’m often asked is “What inspires you?” Can you guess what the first question I’m asked is? You’ve probably heard this before. “Where do you get your ideas?” The idea question and the inspiration question are one in the same, for me. What inspires me, also gives me my ideas. And when I get an idea for a story, I’m thrilled.

Books and Music – A Given

I have learned to fill my world with inspiration. One of the greatest inspirations for me is simply reading a good book. I won’t lie. My favorite author in the universe is Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I love her zany, but well-thought out characters, I love her voice, her sense of humor and the way her subplots are often as engaging as the main story. I look forward to each of her new releases and she’s one author whose books I re-read for inspiration.

I love country music, a given for an author who writes primarily cowboys and country life. When I listen to the lyrics in a country tune, I live the love story in my mind. I’m a fan of Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Lady Antebellum, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Ronnie Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill and so many more. Their songs not only make me tap my toes and clap my hands, but they move me in other ways as well.


My Office of Dreams

Another source of inspiration for me is my workspace. I’d waited for years to have an office to call my own. I spend the greatest part of my day in there. Every time I look at the walls, I see my friends, my family and my sweet husband’s love come through.



One of my few indulgences was a gift I gave myself. When I had achieved a writing goal I’d been seeking for a long time, I rewarded myself with this piece of metal art that is one of a kind. As you can see, the horses that stampede over my computer every day, tell me to sit down and write. They are the true focal point in the room.



The Wall of Frames, as my husband jokingly calls it, is an ongoing gift from him. Every time I get a new cover, he frames it and positions it on the wall. Little did I know, when I was first published in 1998, that I would run out of wall space for all of my cover art! When I look up there, I see achievement, but I am also reminded of hard work and perseverance. But mostly, I’m reminded that I have a wonderful, supportive husband who believes in me and that inspires me.



Oh, and Tim McGraw comes to visit every now and then. Yes, it’s a life-sized poster of Tim given to me by a dear friend who knew how much I loved going to Tim concerts.



The cowboy shelf and mirror, the trinkets, the racing horses, red roses in a leather boot- one rose for each book I have written -- the western candles and lamps, are gifts given to me by my sweet, supportive friends and family. When I step foot in my office THAT is what inspires me. It’s not the objects themselves, but the love behind them that makes me smile every day as I sit down at the computer. And it reminds me, when I’m on a deadline, or struggling with a plot, or having a difficult time focusing on my story, that I have the support and faith of my friends and family. I have love in my life and as romantic a notion as it seems, that shared love is the impetus and motivation that inspires me, more than anything else.



A Big Thank You to Maggie for inviting me today!! Be sure to pick up her new release-- Can’t Buy Me Love!! It’s already on my TBR list!

Charlene Sands is a USA Today Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels. Her books have won the prestigious Readers’ Choice Award, the Bookseller’s Best Award and the Cataromance Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is presently working on a story for Harlequin’s new Rich, Rugged Rancher series. Charlene has a Brand NEW-sletter Contest. Simply join her mailing list at www.charlenesands.com and automatically be entered for Gift Cards, free books and beautiful bling!
What gives you inspiration during your day, whether at work or at play? One commenter will win a copy of Charlene’s book today!!




Cowboy Chance Worth gets more than he bargains for when he saves damsel in distress Lizzie Mitchell. He has come to Red Ridge, Arizona, to rescue her family's failing ranch and find Lizzie a suitable husband. Too bad it wouldn't be honorable to keep the little spitfire for himself!

Lizzie may be innocent, but she's not naive. Fully determined to find her own way in life, she doesn't welcome Chance's intrusion. But when he plans to leave she realizes she may not be ready to see the back of him just yet!

Amazon
Eharlequin
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Into Romance

By Susan Crandall

What is it about Spring that brings out the romantic in all of us? Is it the increase of daylight—after all scientists have proven that increased daylight affects our hormones and mood, even our fertility? Is it the emergence of color after a long gray winter? The feeling of lightness and freedom as we shed bulky sweaters and wool socks? The proliferation of adorable baby animals? Whatever the cause it seems to be true, the arrival of spring melts not only the ice and snow of winter, but our hearts as well. Even the most jaded of us weaken to the idea of romance in the spring.



I myself am an old married lady and, while my husband is a romantic at heart, the beauty of that first blush of love now comes to me only vicariously. Normally at this time of year, I’m getting my romantic “fix” by writing a novel that in part devotes itself to true love. I’m busy building the foundation for my characters’ enduring loves, orchestrating hurdles for them to overcome (because we all know that something hard-won is infinitely more dear to us than that which comes easily), giving them the strength to open themselves to the truth that they are better together than either of them are alone. It’s a tremendously satisfying job.



Alas, this year, I’m having to look outside my own work for that always-exciting journey toward true love. I’m reading other writers’ romantic fiction because my current work in progress doesn’t have a shred of romance in it. Shocking, but true. This is a first for me, this creation of a story without romance. Why do it, you ask? Why create a story without the infinite satisfaction of bringing two human beings together in a bond that denies bounds? The answer is, “Because I must.” As writers of fiction, we do a whole lot of “living” inside our own heads. Usually we have some control over the lives we lead there, but occasionally a seed for a story gets embedded that just doesn’t conform to our chosen genre. Such is the case with my current heroine, Starla Claudelle, a nine year old girl whose romantic life is somewhere off in the distant future. But Starla demands her story be told, romantic or not.



I always refrain from reading the genre in which I am writing during the concentrated writing process. And usually that means I’m not reading stories with strong romantic elements. But this spring, when my desire for a delicious love story arises, I will be reading romantic stories on which I can simply ride along and enjoy, I can anticipate the unknown on the next page and in the next chapter in a way that isn’t possible when I’m the one creating the story. It’s a very different pleasure for me. One I’m taking every advantage of this spring as I indulge in one of life’s greatest pleasures, a romantic novel. I urge all of you to do the same!

Susan grew up in a small Indiana town, married a guy from that town, and then moved to Chicago for a while. She is pleased to say that she has been back in her hometown for many years and plans to stay. She and her husband have two grown children. "They make me proud every day," Susan glows. "My son, who has the heart of a poet, is also a writer. My daughter, who is both beautiful and brilliant, is about to take her first steps into the working world of science."



Susan has deliciously offered to give away one out of print copy of On Blue Falls Pond and one paperback copy of Sleep No More. Two fabulous books! Leave a comment on why you love Spring and you are entered to win one of these great books.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Does My Preggo Belly Turn You On?

by Malena Lott



Right up front, let me say I'm talking about my character's baby bump, not mine. I have three kids that feels more like thirty some days and the hubenaro got the snip-snip to ensure we don't have baby thirty-one.

But Taylor Montgomery, the protag in my first-becometh-fourth novel is preggers and she's sure that romance - and the sexy sex life she and her husband have - will go out the window with it. What is sexy sex? You know - MOVIE SEX variety- ask Hollywood Maggie and she'll give you the lowdown.

But what happens to all that hot sex when you get knocked up? Taylor and Jake had never planned on having kids, and who knows, they may have been frisky DINKS (Double Income No Kids) way into their silver fox period. Of course, she's most worried about how the surprise commitment will upturn their lives.

In a slice from the girls' night in scene, Taylor's girlfriends share what they think is romantic:

Gretchen dished out brisket on plates. “Fine. I’m sure all of your men are perfect, with your tantric sex and your surprise trips to Hawaii and London and all. Maybe someday I’ll get that lucky.”

“Hey, there’s a big difference between perfect and sucks,” Jackie said. “These days Mark taking out poopy diapers is romantic.”

“Taking thirty minutes away from watching baseball to help me fold laundry,” Kelly added, fluttering her eyelashes.

“Taking Max to the park while I take a nap,” Jackie added. “I hadn’t loved him so much in months. Basically, enjoy the sex while you can,” she said in Gretchen and Kelly’s direction. “Once you get married and have kids, sex becomes more obligatory. It’s guilt sex. Thinking, has it really been a month since we’ve made love? I sure as hell don’t feel like it, but I know Mark wants it every day. Why should he have to sacrifice because I’m not feeling frisky?”

Just because we're exhausted from our personal human garden doesn't mean our other half want to give it up, even in the most mundane situations, like crawling around the house to search for safety hazards:

“This feels pretty good on all fours though,” I said. “She’s like a little hammock under me. No pressure.”

“I think that will be our new position,” he said, sidling up behind me.

“How can you even think about sex when we’re doing this?”

“When do I not? I’m a guy.”



Wishing you lots of spring romance!

About the Book:

What to expect when you’re expecting? For a career-driven couple that didn’t plan on having children, it’s a nine-month roller coaster ride.

Creative director Taylor Montgomery gets the surprise of her life when she finds out she’s pregnant the same day her best friend, Hilarie, finds out she’s not. Taylor never wanted to be a mom, but it’s all Hilarie has dreamed about. The Stork Reality: Secrets from the Underbelly updates the original novel about the journey to motherhood and how pregnancy changes marriage, work, and even close friendships. The Stork Reality: Secrets from the Underbelly is the Second Edition of Lott's first novel, now in trade paperback and the first time as an ebook.

Malena Lott is a married mom-of-three in the Midwest. She's a brand strategist, the executive editor at Buzz Books USA and the author of three novels. She's celebrating motherhood at StorkRealityBook.com where 40 guest mamas are blogging about pregnancy and motherhood. Her author site is www.malenalott.com.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Perks of Writing Romance

by Aimee Carson



Thanks to Maggie for having me here today. And I can’t wait for her upcoming release, Can’t Buy Me Love!

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Spring Into Romance extravaganza, and with every post I read I found myself nodding my head in agreement. Yes, I love reading romance because I firmly believe that love conquers all. And yes, I love writing romance because I enjoy creating interesting characters and running them through the torture chamber to ensure that they deserve their HEA. Honestly, I don’t have anything new to add to all the fabulous posts so far except, perhaps, a big fat ditto!

So what are a few of the other reasons I like to write romance? I’m so glad you asked!

First off, I get to mutter to myself and exist as alternate personalities without my family staring at me like I need medication. I get to travel to faraway lands without experiencing jet lag, lost luggage, and cancelled flights. And trust me, as someone who spends a lot of time at the mercy of the airlines, this is a biggie. I get to engage in sassy banter where I always have a good retort, even if it takes me days to figure out what that comeback is. And if, as one of my characters, I say something stupid—and I do, regularly—well, I have access to the very handy backspace button.

Real life needs a backspace button. And seeing how I travel six thousand miles a month for my day job, a ‘home’ button would be handy too.

And because I wisely choose to write romance, I’m allowed the luxury of using hot men as inspiration, plastering their pictures on my office wall. Even more importantly I get to experience that first tug of sexual attraction, all within the relative safety of my own mind. The angst. The sizzling excitement. The anxiety producing does-he or doesn’t- he find me attractive, too. The sex is earth shattering, I’m always in the mood, and there are no fears about getting pregnant, unless it’s convenient for me.

In my writing world I’m God. In real life, at best I’m the Greek chorus, commenting about the lunacy of the World Stage. And if everything starts looking really wonky on my computer I can give it all the Control-Alt-Delete.

Problem solved.

But do you want to know my favorite perk about writing romance? In essence, I get to experience as many lifetimes as I can dream up, with no limits or boundaries, and a happily-ever-after is always guaranteed.

Now it’s your turn! We all love to live vicariously through fiction, but who is the one character you’d most like to be? Elizabeth Bennet? Bridget Jones? It can be either someone you wrote or from your favorite read. Leave a comment below and I’ll choose one winner to receive a copy of my debut Harlequin Presents Extra book, Secret History of a Good Girl, available now.



Play with fire…
Miami hotel tycoon Paulo Domingues knows that beneath his events planner’s southern priss, Alyssa Hunt is all sass. Little Miss Prim has Paulo’s inner rebel roaring to life – and he’s determined to seduce the fire out from behind it!

And you might get burned!…
Tough-cookie Alyssa hasn’t fought tooth and nail to shake off her past to be blindsided by one smooth-talking boss. Until, punch-drunk with desire, she succumbs to temptation and realizes what she’s been missing out on! But will Miami’s most wanted bachelor run when he discovers the real reason behind her good-girl façade?

Aimee Carson’s life in a nutshell:
Harlequin M&B romance author. Part-time Alaskan bush doctor. Wife. Mom. Dog owner. Curiously, it's the dog that gives her the most trouble.
You can find my website and blog here.
Twitter Me! aimeecarsonmb
Facebook Me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Looking for Love in all the Weird Places

By Hank Phillippi Ryan



Can you find romance at the dentist’s office? I did. Twice.

The first time, many years, ago—and I mean, MANY--I fell madly in love with my very cute dentist. We squirted each other with the little air hoses—me in the chair, him standing over me—I will pause a moment while you imagine that. The fun with air hoses evolved into other fun, and we got engaged. And then, unengaged. But romance at the dentist. Who’d a thought.

Then, about a year ago, it happened again. This time, after my first four romantic suspense/mystery novels were out, and I was scouting for a new plot for book five.

You know what that’s like.

So in one of the worst of all possible events, on one level at least, I had to go to the dentist for a root canal. What romance can come of that? And, since I’m happily married now, the dentist, no matter how adorable, would not be a love-connection candidate.

But this time, romance—in the form of my new plot!—arrived in the dentist’s waiting room.

I was reading People magazine, one of the few joys of the dentist’s office, and there was on article about Jenny Sanford. You know her, right? The former first lady of South Carolina.

Her husband, Mark Sanford—well, you’ve certainly heard of him. He’s the one who told his family, and his staff, and the public in general that he was going off to hike the Appalachian Trail. When actually, he was off with his Argentinean mistress.

Remember that? Didn’t you think, at the time—how silly is THAT? And a pretty poor cover story. But anyway.



So the article in People was about how Jenny Sanford’s life had been yanked out of wack by this event. And I began to think about why someone would become the “other woman.” And in SUCH a public way.

I mean—you’re ruining your life, right? And especially in the case of a public figure, you’re certainly ruining the life of the man you ostensibly love. You’re ruining the lives of his kids, and his family, and your family, and, in the case of the Governor, everyone who works for him, since he’s clearly going to get caught at some point, and his political life would be over, and all his staff will be out of work. Not to mention all the voters who trusted him.

Why would the woman do that, I wonder? And why would the man? Lust, love, power? The thought that the rules don’t apply to them? The thrill of romance? Illicit romance?

And then, like all good mystery writers must, I started thinking—what if…what if there were another way to look at it. I wondered, might there be a good, acceptable, even, admirable reason to become the other woman? Hmm. Might there be?

Sitting on the tweedy couch at the dentist, waiting for a root canal, I kept thinking about this, about love, and sex, and relationships--and power, and manipulation, and ethics, and desire. And family, and responsibility, and consequences.

I got to the end of the story, and Jenny Sanford had one last quote. She said “You can choose your sin, but you cannot choose your consequences.”

I got goose bumps then. And I get goosebumps again as I tell you about it—because at that moment, sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, I thought—that’s my book. That’s my new book!

And it is.



THE OTHER WOMAN, coming this September from Forge.

A taut, tense thriller—where, just two weeks before an important senatorial election, a reporter suspects one of the candidates is having an affair—and she goes on the trail of an ex-governor’s secret mistress. At the same time, a Boston cop is on the trail of a possible serial killer. What happens—if it turns out they’re tracking the same person?

As the back cover says: Seduction, betrayal, and murder--its going to take more than votes to win this election.

And who is The Other Woman? I promise you—it’ll be a surprise.

But now, when readers ask “where do you get your ideas” and “where do you find romance” do you think they’ll believe me if I say “at the dentist”?

Where is the strangest place you’ve found romance? An ARC of THE OTHER WOMAN for one lucky commenter!

***************************
Award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is on the air at Boston's NBC affiliate. Her work has resulted in new laws, people sent to prison, homes removed from foreclosure, and millions of dollars in restitution. Along with her 27 EMMYs, Hank’s won dozens of other journalism honors. She's been a radio reporter, a legislative aide in the United States Senate and an editorial assistant at Rolling Stone Magazine.

A best-selling author of five mystery novels, Ryan has won the Agatha, Anthony and Macavity awards for her crime fiction—her newest book is DRIVE TIME, which earned a starred review from Library Journal. She’s on the board of Lyric Stage Company of Boston, as well as the national board of directors of Mystery Writers of America and vice-president of national Sisters in Crime. Her newest suspense thriller, THE OTHER WOMAN, is the first in a new series beginning in 2012 from Forge Books.

THE OTHER WOMAN is now available for pre-order on Amazon (and soon, at all your favorite bookstores and websites!)


Visit Hank's website
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Into Romance with Maisey Yates




Hi Maggie! Thank you so much for having me on the blog today.

I'm excited to be Springing into Romance, but, as a romance writer that's something I do every day. I love romance. I love to read it, I love to write it. The thrill of falling in love never gets old. But for me, it's about so much more than that.

A predominant theme in my books has been that love is the most powerful force in the world. Love conquers all. I like to take too people who are badly in need of healing, and let the power of love intervene in their lives.

For me, romance is about the characters. It's what makes it interesting. Having characters who, aren't necessarily perfect, but who I can root for, who I can relate to. Which is another great thing about romance. Love is universal, it crosses socioeconomic boundaries, borders, race, color and creed.

I think one thing people may not understand about the romance genre, and category romance specifically, is how much freedom there is within the 'promises' of the genre. Yes, a romance must always have a happy ending in order to be a romance. But that makes the journey you take to that ending even more important. It's not relying on the element of surprise to keep the reader invested. It's relying on character, emotion, and a darn good story .

Within category romance, you have the general promise of the romance genre, but you have the promise of each individual line as well. I write for Harlequin Presents, which promises glamor, passion, high octane emotion and unforgettable men. But withing that promise...there is so much room to play!

I've had the chance to write about a very driven business woman who proposes marriage to a stranger to secure the job she wants. An ordinary woman who, thanks to an IVF clinic mix-up, finds herself expecting a prince's heir. A cupcake baker who falls in love with her best friend. An event planner who falls in love with her widower boss. A rebellious princess who falls for her (very sexy and masculine, mind you!) virgin bodyguard.

I've had the chance to explore themes of redemption, loss, revenge..and cupcakes.

And all with a happy ending.

Speaking of cupcakes, my cupcake baker heroine just landed on my doorstep yesterday, and I'd like to give a copy away! Tell me what you like about romance in the comments, or ask me a question, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a copy of One Night in Paradise!



Here's the blurb...

All her most exotic fantasies are about to bubble over into reality!
Clara Davis knows the moment yes slips from her lips that she’s in way over her head. Just how is she supposed to pretend to be her boss’s fiancée on his luxury honeymoon?

Zack Parsons’s Don’t date the staff rule has prevented him from ever seeing beyond Clara’s baker’s apron. But now he’s looking at her in a completely different, rather more tempting light. Giving in to one night of wickedness should be enough to satisfy their new-found cravings…

Shouldn’t it?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring Into Romance with Jenny Gardiner

It’s so nice to be here to help Maggie launch the release of her fabulous novel Can’t Buy Me Love! I had to laugh when Maggie asked me to be featured as part of her “Spring Into Romance” theme, because I’ve found myself as a novelist to be at times adrift somewhere in that multiple-personality world that straddles commercial women’s fiction, chick lit and romance. And while my novels often get slotted as romance, I don’t regard myself as a romance writer in the same way that someone who writes category romances, for instance, does, perhaps because I don’t exactly write uber super steamy romance scenes (I’m too much of a weenie, because I think my teen kids would about kill me if I did). My nomadic genre-straddling was a problem for me when I published books with New York publishing houses-- I think the conundrum of where to shelve my books in a bookstore occasionally confounded the powers that be.

Over the past two years I’ve been able to enjoy a career as an indie author, publishing my work digitally direct to Kindle, Barnes and Noble, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and such, and have grown to love the freedom this provides me. For instance, there was a time when you really had to focus on one specific genre to “brand” yourself, which makes sense on many levels--find readers who like you as an author of historical romances, for instance, and they’ll follow you far and wide and buy/read all of your historical romances. But I tended to be all over the map, with non-fiction memoir, creative non-fiction, women’s fiction, chick lit, I even pitched a self-help book which I was told I could only sell to a New York house if I had a profile on a national level as an expert in that field. Natch. Oh well. And yeah, lurking in my laptop were a couple of straight-out romances as well, books I figured at some point I’d publish but only once I’d gotten my brand established enough to be able to veer away from it and not leave the “professionals” in New York to wonder what to do with my books.



But with indie publishing, I’ve been able to publish my novels and get them to readers. With the beauty of digital, I can categorize them to reach various audiences, and leave it up to the reader to decide if they like this book enough, maybe they’d like to try another of my novels as well. So that meant I was able to dust off those lurking romances and bring them out into the light of day (and, um, er, yeah, my kids might not be too thrilled, but more on that in a minute). And the thing about my romances is they’re a little too edgy usually to fit in the normal confines of “romance”, so all the better that I can publish them myself and let my audience figure it out! The first romance I published, ACCIDENTALLY ON PURPOSE, is a lighthearted story of a woman tired of waiting for Mr. Right to come along. She wants kids, so she takes matters into her own hands (turkey baster, anyone?!). Unbeknownst to her, she’s then hired to be the photographer for her “donor’s” high society wedding. Mayhem ensues, etc.



My next romance, COMPROMISING POSITIONS, could almost be accused of being romantic suspense, but not really. It’s about a woman determined to get hired for a public relations job on Capitol Hill despite rampant sexism working against her. When she lands her dream job against her boss, the press secretary’s, wishes, it’s only because her other boss, a Viagra-sated Senator, wants to add her as another notch on his bed board. Sparks fly as my heroine falls fast for her press secretary (yeah, he falls for her as well) while having to dodge the aggressive moves of the horny Senator. Embezzlement, corruption and yet more mayhem ensue ;-). Oh, and those steamy sex scenes? Yep, I sucked it up and tried my hand at it (I’d originally written this book to enter into a contest sponsored by a New York Times bestselling author in which hot sex scenes were a must). I just decided to not tell my kids it’s out there. Oh, and I published these two novels under the pseudonym Erin Delany. Well, sort of. Jenny Gardiner writing as Erin Delany is more like it. Everyone asks me why I did it this way and I figured it made sense. Readers of women’s fiction are not always interested in migrating to romance, so I didn’t want to confuse those readers into thinking these were straight-out women’s fiction, but romance readers are often happy to straddle those lines, so I wanted them to be able to find my other books if they enjoyed these two romances. Make sense?

Anyhow, so I guess I am a romance writer. Well, sort of. I am definitely still a crazy mixed-up kid in publishing. But the great thing nowadays is that this confusion can work in my favor, rather than being a detriment. I hope you’ll go check out these books, as well as my others: #1 Kindle Bestseller SLIM TO NONE, American Title III winner SLEEPING WITH WARD CLEAVER, WHERE THE HEART IS, ANYWHERE BUT HERE, WINGING IT: A MEMOIR OF CARING FOR A VENGEFUL PARROT WHO’S DETERMINED TO KILL ME, and I’M NOT THE BIGGEST BITCH IN THIS RELATIONSHIP (a humorous anthology of dog stories in which I’m a contributor).
Thanks so much!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Into Romance With Marilyn Brant

Thanks so much to Maggie for inviting me to her blog today! I’m very excited about her upcoming release, Can’t Buy Me Love. It’ll be here soon!!

I’ve always loved romance…even when I didn’t realize that was what I was reading.

When I was in junior high, I discovered gothic romances, which, in our tiny public library, were shelved in the “mystery” section. Classic works by Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney were my favorites. I read every single one of them there—mesmerized by these beautiful heroines in far-flung lands, often with amnesia or a dreadful case of curiosity about those strange noises coming from the attic… The heroes were consistently handsome, mysterious and a little bit dangerous. I distinctly remember longing to go skiing in the Swiss Alps after reading one such story, never mind that I couldn’t even ski down the puny bunny hill at Devil’s Head in Wisconsin without falling half a dozen times.

When I was in high school, I was introduced to my greatest literary love—Jane Austen. I didn’t realize I was reading “A Master of Romance” then either or, in some circles, the “Grandmother of Chick Lit.” LOL. (I’m never quite sure what Jane would make of that title, but I hope she’d be honored or, at the very least, amused.) No. I just thought Pride and Prejudice was a “literary classic”…and, also, the best, most insightful novel in the entire world with a love story for the ages.

So, I guess it was natural for me, when I finally began writing fiction, to want to focus on similar themes. To want to have a romance as a major plot element in my story. To write about heroes who were handsome, mysterious and a little bit dangerous. I like to think that’s true of most of the men I’ve created for my very curious (albeit non-amnesiac) heroines. Like “Sam” for Ellie in According to Jane. Or “Garrett” for Cait in Double Dipping. And definitely “Emerson” for Gwen in A Summer in Europe. Sometimes these men even hang out in the Alps…although they do not, I confess, ski.

I love the self-discovery that comes along with a developing romance. The sexual tension whenever the hero and heroine are in the room together. And especially the subtext in a love story—how everything they say has an undercurrent of hidden meaning—like Darcy and Elizabeth’s veiled barbs in Pride and Prejudice. I can read those delicious scenes again and again and never tire of their delights.

What about you? Do you have a favorite romance where you particularly love the sexual tension between the main characters? Please share! I’ll give away two books today: to one commenter (who lives in the U.S. or Canada) a signed print copy of my latest novel, A Summer in Europe, and to one commenter (who lives anywhere else in the world) a PDF ebook copy of my bestselling romantic comedy, On Any Given Sundae.




Best wishes to all of you! ~Marilyn Brant

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Into Romance

with Christine Ashworth

I am thrilled to be here in anticipation of Maggie Marr’s book release, Can’t Buy Me Love, on March 28th!

Okay, so - my name is Christine Ashworth, and I’m a confirmed, life-long, romance-novel-a-holic. I picked up my first Rosemary Rogers book, Sweet, Savage Love (where my mom had stuck it, under the cushion of her chair) at the age of 12, finished it in three days, and I haven’t looked back.

Soon after that, Mom introduced me to Harlequin Romances (she didn’t read these – she preferred the longer books). These were fairly chaste back then (the mid-1970’s) and cost under a dollar. With my two dollar allowance, I would buy myself a romance novel and two boxes of Junior Mints. Saturdays were spent sprawled on my bed, reading and munching.

As time went on, I got brave enough to take a book or two (or five) with me wherever I went. My dad could be counted on at Christmas and my birthday to go to our local used bookstores, and buy me Harlequin Presents novels by the yard. (No, I’m not kidding. I spent many a Christmas Day on my bed, reading. I could go through 3 Presents novels before Christmas Dinner, lol!) I had a few duplicates, but not many. This happy state of affairs continued for a long time…until…

One day, I was sprawled out in center splits at my ballet studio, elbows on the floor and reading a Presents, stretching and waiting for rehearsal to start. One of our (straight) male dancers walked by – seeing a ballet dancer reading was, in our company anyway, a novelty – so he asked me what I was reading. When I showed him, he frowned at me and told me I was reading brain candy.

I was seventeen, a junior in high school. He was twenty-four and fresh out of graduate school. I made a face at him and said it was my form of relaxation, to read happy-ever-after stories, and it was none of his business anyway. He shrugged and moved away.

The next day, he tossed a copy of Mary Renault’s THE PERSIAN BOY to me. Definitely not a romance; but the novel swept me away and I remember staying up late that night, trying to read as much of it as I could before I fell asleep. I soon devoured as much of Mary Renault as I could find in my high school library.

Ever since then, my reading has broadened. I didn’t want people to think I was shallow; so I read widely (since I didn’t go to college with any regularity). Dostoyevski, D.H. Lawrence, Herman Hesse (guess who was suggesting these books?), Marcus Aurelius, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen; I veered into poetry with Donne and Keats, Shakespeare and Longfellow. I also continued to read my Harlequins – though not at the ballet studio.

As I moved into my twenties, I moved away from the series romance and into mysteries with romance, the bigger romance novels, and Crime and Punishment. (Never did finish that one.) It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I re-discovered series romance; only now there were all sorts of categories to choose from.

Since I come from a family of writers, writing series romance was definitely something that has always been in my wheelhouse. I just needed time to get there, I told myself. When I did finally start writing, I found the short format to be frustrating.

Jill Marie Landis had come to my local RWA chapter to speak, and I remember crying on her shoulder about my frustrations. She mentioned to me that perhaps I needed to write longer books for a while. To write what I wanted to write, instead of what I thought I should write. Plus, she very kindly wrote me a card, telling me the same thing, only in writing – which made a huge difference!

That’s my roundabout way of telling you why I write longer paranormal romance, instead of category romance. I would love to write category, believe me – and I hope at some point to go back to writing category, and see if, this time, I have what it takes to get Harlequin to bite. But in the meantime, I’m happy writing in my own world of gorgeous tribred men (demon, human and Fae bloodlines) and the women who love them.

Oh – and that straight ballet dancer that first made faces at me for reading Harlequin Romances? We got married 3 years later, and are still living “happily ever after”. Now whenever I read a romance and he makes faces, I just blow him a kiss – and tell him I’m doing research.



…to retrieve his soul, she’ll become fire… Gabriel Caine stands on the edge of the abyss. A vampire has stolen his soul and if he doesn’t get it back soon, his next step will be into hell.

Rose Walters has been sent back from the dead to complete one task – save Gabriel Caine. But this muscled guy in leather, black jeans and a dangerous aura didn’t look like he needed anyone’s help.

Rose has touched the whole of Gabriel, making him yearn for a love he believes he can never have. Her willingness to put her human life on the line for him forces him to bring all three parts of himself – demon, human and Fae bloodlines, and the traps and gifts of each – into harmony, and into the fight that will decide their fate.

Following is an excerpt of DEMON SOUL…enjoy!

Gabriel knew her frustration as he knew his own. His original plan dissolved as he vaulted up to catch himself on the railing of the balcony. Joy and need both pulsed through him as he caught her scent.
Rose gasped and whirled about, pressed her hands to her mouth. Finally registering Gabriel, she wrapped her arms around the robe she wore, her eyes flashing in the dim light.
"Took you long enough. I’m going crazy here. Aren’t you?”
"I stayed away longer than I’d meant." Gabriel grimaced as her shoulders tensed up. Sighing, he dropped from the railing to the balcony and held out a hand to her. "I’m not used to needing anyone. Not for years."
She twined her fingers with his. "I’m beginning to understand that." Her words were quiet in the pre-dawn. "You meant to push me away. But it doesn't matter." She turned her face up to his, her blue eyes like lasers, pinning him to the spot. "Apparently this need thing works both ways. Your soul has been aching for you. It’s kept me awake and edgy. I’ve needed you. I’ve been calling you for hours.”
“I’m here now.”
Rose moved toward him and put one small hand on his broad chest.
He felt that touch clear to his missing soul. Almost holding his breath, his gaze met hers. Flinched from what he saw in her eyes, even as it warmed him.
"Gabriel, I can't do anything else than protect you. I feel this is the reason I'm here, and everything that went before brought me to this place, this time. Everything else brought me to you. Whether or not we have a future together? I don’t know. But I don’t want to rule it out, either, just because you’re scared."
"I don't want this." He searched, but words were beyond him. A helpless little sound escaped from his lips. "Rose."
She smiled a little, her eyes finally warming. "It's okay. I'm scared, too. You do what you need to do. Whatever happens with Satine, I'll be here waiting for you. We’ll figure out what comes next together, okay?"
His arms came around her then, lifting her off her feet to bring their faces to the same level. Gabriel searched her eyes. They were clear, holding no secrets. Her heart shone freely, and it took his breath away.
She wrapped her legs around his waist, took his face into her hands as he adjusted his hold. "Kiss me," she whispered. "While we have this time together."
He obeyed. Her lips were like satin beneath his, warm and alive and opening to him. His senses spun and his grip on her tightened. His control wavered.
Gabriel broke their kiss and leaned his forehead against hers, taking a deep breath. Drawing in her scent, the delicious fragrance made him yearn. Every part of him grew hard as stone.
This sprite, with her flaming red hair and Soul Chalice abilities had captured his heart like no other. Enticed him like no other. Her hands urged him to take her mouth again, and he forgot the reasons to deny her.
Her body grew warm against him. Her scent rose up to wreathe his brain, turning his thoughts muddy. He needed.
Urgency thrummed through him. Gabriel turned, pressed her back against the wall and, as his mouth ravaged hers, slid his hand down the front of her robe. Her skin was heated silk against the roughness of his fingers, her body wonderfully responsive.
Rose's hands spread across his chest, those strong, capable hands hot against his cool skin, sparking fires of need wherever they landed. Gods.
"Rose?" The door beside them opened. "Oops. Sorry." It shut. Maggie went away.
Gabriel stilled, one of his hands curved on her bottom, the other on her breast, his mouth a whisper from hers. His eyes opened and he looked into the smiling blue eyes of the woman who had captured him.
"Now there's timing for you," she said, her voice husky with need and laughter.
***
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Books of Love

by Lynne Marshall

I confess, I used to look down my nose at Romance…before I was enlightened.
I used to read a lot of heavy literary books, because it was good for my mind, and when I’d finished and scratched my head over the non-ending, well, I felt heavy, the way everyday life often made me feel. So then I’d follow the rule of word and read what everyone else was reading, the popular books. These books might have a torrid love affair in them though it wasn’t the main focus, but that love would get the life beat out of it as the story moved on. Again, depressing.

I noticed how swept along with the story I got when I read The Valley of the Horses by Jean Auel, and The Thorn Birds by Colleen Mccullough. How I couldn’t wait to pick up those books at night and read on. My heart clutched at the slow and growing off-limits love that formed between the characters.

As I read other mass market books, I realized the part that always drew me into the story was the romance. But often, the love was unrequited, or the couple gave it a go but couldn’t pull it off, and that was the book. I found myself re-writing the ending in my head when I’d finished. In other words, I wanted the characters to work through their problems and find a way to come together instead of giving up and walking away.

Then I discovered (someone recommended) Barbara Delinsky, Tami Hoag, Elizabeth Lowell, and Nora Roberts. They introduced me to romance—books that ended upbeat, where the hero and heroine solved their issues and made it work between them. Uplifting. Hopeful. Enjoyable. This was good. From there I spring boarded to Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Suzanne Brockman and Linda Howard and I was hooked. I’d found romance in my books, or should I say, romance found me! I’ve never looked back. Yes I still read the word of mouth books, the bestselling popular books, and I definitely read outside of the genre, but I often need renewal and when I do, I go back to the well of love, hope, and happily ever after.

Thank you, Romance Genre, for finding me!

Courting His Favorite Nurse by Lynne Marshall
Harlequin Special Edition – March 2012 – in stores now!



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Anne Grady knew better than anyone that love was complicated. When she’d left her hometown, she thought she was leaving her past heartbreak behind for good, as well. But practically the moment she returned to care for her injured parents, she stumbled headlong into their confidant—her first love, Jack Lightfoot.

Jack had been unable to deny his feelings for Annie when he was a teenager dating her best friend, and he certainly couldn’t muffle the spark twisting between them now—even if memories of the past kept threatening to push them apart. This time Jack wasn’t going to let history repeat itself—he was going to show Annie that the two of them were meant to be much more than best friends.

Lynne Marshall writes contemporary and Medical Romance for Harlequin and The Wild Rose Press. The first book in the Grady family trilogy, Courting His Favorite Nurse, is a March 2012 Harlequin Special Edition. Also coming in March in e-book only is, An Indiscretion, a contemporary romance with strong medical elements, from The Wild Rose Press.

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