Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Give Me A Beta Hero Every Time by Jane Ashford

Oh, I used to love the alpha guys – like Robert Beaumaris in Georgette Heyer’s Arabella – the ones who are good at everything and know everything. And you’re riding in the carriage thinking you’ve risked it all on a crazy elopement, and then find out he’s actually taking you on a visit to his grandmother and all your agonizing problems have already been solved. (Wait, why don’t I like that?)

I’ve created some alpha heroes in my time. But something happened to me along life’s way, and I shifted my allegiance to men like Freddy in Cotillion and Adam in The Civil Contract. These beta guys get things wrong, and they worry. They aren’t completely sure of themselves. In fact, they’re the opposite of arrogant; they don’t know how competent and charming they actually are. And when the heroine tells them, they’re often surprised. How endearing is that? 



So, these days, I like writing about a hero who has a few problems, as well as the (eventual) willingness and courage to try to deal with them. He may not know how. He may be kind of (or very) annoying as he figures it out. But when he does, he’s well worth the angst. And his personal journey is interesting and moving.

Times change; people change. Give me an endearing beta guy and let the alphas do their thing someplace else.

You can see what I mean in my book The Bargain, out in re-issue next Tuesday. The Romance Reader said: “If, as I do, you love historicals set in the Regency era, filled with great wit, funny family relations, and a beta hero to die for, you will simply want to devour this book.”

Visit me on Facebook http://goo.gl/GvPJVm  

Jane Ashford

Find The Bargain at:

Barnes and Noble http://goo.gl/Gfhqbb


Books a Million http://goo.gl/8bLQq1


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Twenty-One!

My youngest child turns 21 today. Which is no excuse for my forgetting that it's my turn to blog (oops). She's working in New York City and I won't get to see her on her special day. Bummer! But I am thinking of her. And not much else since my brain is still in a fog following the annual Romance Writer's of America conference.
Elissa, then.

Elissa, now.
The sweet girl actually called me at her time of birth. "Hooray, I'm really 21!" And I remembered holding her for the first time all those years ago.

And I remembered turning 21. It was the year I graduated from college. And got married. Same year. Which seems kind of crazy looking back, but it worked for me then. I'll celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary next year. For my daughter, it's also the year she will graduate from college-- and she wants to work in publishing! She's currently an editorial intern, a job she loves, and I hope she lands her dream job following her graduation.

But back to RWA! It was in San Antonio, TX, and we all had a great time. At the Sourcebooks Spotlight, you would have learned that Sourcebooks is looking for extraordinary writing. Paranormal, contemporary, historical... it doesn't matter. Trends don't matter. Great writing, that's what matters. Write the story you want to write, the one only you can tell, and the rest will fall into place.
With one of my BFFs, author Julia London. She was up for two RITAs! ( But Jane Porter and Grace O'Keefe won her categories- maybe next time).

At the Readers for Life Literacy Autographing

Wonderful dinner here with the Sourcebooks team.

Sourcebooks treats us like princesses. We went home in horse-drawn carriages.

Do you remember what you were doing at 21? Were you at RWA? What are some highlights from your conference experience? 



Monday, July 28, 2014

Cover Reveal - HER SECRET AGENT (an X-OPS Novella)!

Literary Escapism is doing an exclusive cover reveal of HER SECRET AGENT, an X-OPS Novella releasing Dec 2nd from Sourcebooks!  The story takes place in 2003 when the Department of Covert Operations (DCO) was still new. The hero is John Loughlin, the Director of the DCO, and the heroine is a beautiful shifter he's trying to recruit for the organization named Cree Forest  It’s a sexy action-packed story that gives readers inside info on the DCO, as well as gives them the skinny on some very important stuff that the other characters in the novels aren’t privy to...yet. So, yeah, there are lots of OMG moments ahead for the X-OPS crew. It's also my first interracial romance.  I'm very excited about it!

You can check out the cover reveal and get a sneak peek here!


*hugs*
Paige

"Hunky Heroes, Kickbutt Heroines, Unforgettable Romance!"




Saturday, July 26, 2014

DIY Website Projects with Susanna Ives


Less geeky people than I gaze about their home and think, “What if the walls were a cool sand color, and I bought that plush modern carpet at Ikea with the overlapping circles…?” I don’t do that. Instead, I gaze at my website and think “What if the background were a faded montage and I used that cool plugin to…?” Unfortunately my pie-in-the-sky website designs are hardly reflected in my current site design due to these horrible constraints called time and energy.



However, these last few weeks, I’ve made baby steps towards solving a web problem that’s been plaguing me for months. I have collected a massive library of primary source book and journal resources across the web. (I’m a junkie for old illustrations and house plans.) However, my cyber library’s organization is akin to a closet with no shelves that I’ve been tossing books in willynilly for years. Needless to say, all the research in the world is worthless if you can’t find anything.

To remedy the problem, I desired to create a grand library in Wordpress. Unfortunately, the plugins I found were too complicated for someone as lazy as myself, or only worked for certain sources such as Google Drive or Open Library, or were tiny, useless widgets. I already had a link library on my website, and to be honest, looking at links is boring, boring, boring. I want fashion and photographs! Color and pizazz!

One day, I was searching on Googlebooks, and I noticed the Pinterest “Pin It” button hovering on the taskbar. A tiny light lit in the bug zapper of my brain. I could build the library on Pinterest boards and then embed a preview of the boards on my web site! I admit, this made my geeky day.




So for the last weeks, while everyone else is pinning Italian villas, recipes, sexy heels, backless dresses, and shirtless men, I’ve been pinning the covers and inside illustrations of such page-turning classics as: The Lady's Country Companion; or, How to Enjoy a Country Life Rationally from 1852 (This title kills me. I suppose one should never irrationally enjoy a country life.) or The Eighteenth Century Architecture of Bath (the butler did it) from 1904.




If you have a moment (Who am I kidding? If you have several hours to get sucked into the Pinterest vortex) stop by my website and see my progress. Please mind the cyber dust, this is a reading room in progress. Oh, and please subscribe to my newsletter when you visit!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bunny Rabbits and Romance Writing by Christy English

I have to admit, in my mind at least, rabbits and romance have little to do with one another. Though a romance-minded boy bunny did approach his lady friend while they were eating my backyard clover one evening this spring. 
 
 
 
She rejected him out of hand, as so many of the ladies in my novels reject their heroes. At least at first, before they realize that love is worth taking a second look at.
 
While I write my new Regency series Terror of the Ton for Casablanca, I spend a lot of time on my back porch, enjoying the cool mountain breezes while I am transported by my characters to 1820's London. The people in my books keep me busy, and make me laugh, but as much as I love watching their stories unfold in front of me, I must admit to daydreaming, too. Surrounded by beauty, I spend a lot of time looking up at the verdant green and drinking in the lush peace.
 
 
 
So far, no bunnies have worked their way into my novels, though I do have a favorite rabbit who comes by daily for clover.
 
 
 
 




I've named him Bitty Bunny.

Though I talk to him, he has yet to respond, other than occasionally to leave his clover behind as he runs away.
 
While I write, I get to listen to the flow of the waterfall farther up the ridge behind my house.
 
 
 
In winter, I can see the falls, but in the summer when the green covers them from view, I can still hear them.
 
 
 
Looking into the green of my backyard, with all its rabbits, birds, and flowing water, I wonder how on earth I ever get any writing done at all. Happily for me, I always do. But it is nice to look up from Regency England, and have all this beauty to come home to.

If you could pick your perfect writing spot, where would it be?

 
Christy English is happiest when she is dreaming. Her dreams have taken her to the royal court of Henry II in THE QUEEN’S PAWN, to medieval Paris in TO BE QUEEN, and now to Regency England in MUCH ADO ABOUT JACK, LOVE ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT, and HOW TO TAME A WILFULL WIFE, where she loves to watch her characters find true love, often in spite of themselves. Please visit her on her blog  http://www.ChristyEnglish.com , on Twitter https://twitter.com/ChristyEnglish , or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/christy.english.779


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Excerpt TWO WEEK SEDUCTION by Kathy Lyons


            So most everyone here knows me as Jade Lee. I write steamy, funny regency era historicals. But every once in a while, I just want to cut lose with a fun contemporary with lots of young sweaty sex. I'm not talking 50 Shades or any kink. Just a hero and heroine who are both at a turning point in their lives. And while they're dealing with all the life challenges, they end up discovering love and passion with each other.
            That's where Kathy Lyons comes in. She's my contemporary alter ego who just let's fly in quick, fun, sexy books. Her latest Two Week Seduction is out now in ebook. [insert cover] Buy links and the first chapter can be found here. [Insert link to my webpage] It's gotten great reviews, so buy it now and enjoy!
            And for those who want a little more, here’s an excerpt of a pool game for pretty high stakes.


Two Week Seduction by Kathy Lyons – Excerpt Pool Game

            John grabbed the pool cue and tried to remember how to play. The old guy had wisely stepped back though it had taken a nod from Alea for him to give in. Another time, he’d be grateful for the guy’s level-headed advice. Right now? He was determined to beat Alea’s leather-clad, ginger ale ass.
            She was a good pool player, but she’d learned most of her moves from him. Sure it had been a while since he’d held a cue stick in his hands, but this was one game that came back quickly.
            “Rack ’em,” he ordered.
            “Sure I’ve got enough to stack?” she taunted.
            Was that a crack at his attention to the waitress? He grinned, already seeing the way to win. All he had to do was unsettle her.
            So he let his gaze drop to her breasts. Alea’s were firm, the perfect size, and under his steady gaze, the nipples perked up. “Your rack is just fine,” he said slowly, letting just enough of his lust through to roughen his voice.
            Then he got the pleasure of seeing her blush. Anyone else might have thought it was from the scotch, but now he knew she hadn’t been slamming back booze. That meant her reaction was all for him.
            He grabbed his stick and stroked it. Not obviously. Just enough and at just the right moment. He caught her gaze, slid his thumb slowly down the pole, and then winked. She arched a brow, letting him know with a roll of her eyes that more than one man had tried that on her. But all he had to do was glance at her pert tits to know she wasn’t as blasé as she pretended. And with that thought bolstering his ego, he leaned over and shot.
            Damn, he was rusty. Who screwed up a break? Him. Not a single ball dropped. Worse, he’d just given her about ten easy shots.
            She chuckled as she sauntered around the table, her swagger practically screaming “sucker.” “Looks like your hype is a little overinflated.”
            “Maybe. And maybe I like it slow and thorough.”
            “Sometimes slow is just boring.” Then she set down her stick, leaned over enough to give him a full view of her gorgeous ass, and shot. Perfect. Her ass, not her shot. The ball actually spun a little wide, but it still made it in.
            “Careful,” he said. “Looks like you’re heavy-handed on the stick.”
            “Some guys like it firm,” she said as she moved around the table.
            “And sometimes thrust is powerful enough.”
            She shot him a surprised look. Really? If she thought to trade stick double-entendres, she was far outclassed. He worked on a military base.
            “Let’s just see who comes out on top, shall we?” Then she sank another ball. And another. And another.
            Fuck, this game was going to end much too fast. And while he was still trying to think of some way to throw her, she slipped behind him as she moved around the table. She didn’t exactly rub up against him, but with their overpacked audience, she had no choice but to touch him. And as her arm hit his shoulder and her hip connected with his butt, her scent slid into his soul. Hot woman, slight citrus, and the bizarrest hint of lavender. God knew how he recognized that scent, but he did. And it meant ALEA to him in all caps. His rock-hard dick started to throb. If she touched him again, he might just explode.

            “You’re not going to end up on top,” he said through a clenched jaw. “At least not the first time.”


 Buy at Amazon | Buy at Barnes & Noble | ITunes | Kobo | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Google Books 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Longest Night



A little over a year and a half ago, I was writing for fun, looking for work, and wondering how to break into the writing world. It was November, 2012, the middle of NaNoWriMo, and I was determined to be a winner. And then I got the most wonderful, unexpected Tweet ever. Sourcebooks wanted to me to turn one of my stories into a novel.
Fast-forward through the most wonderful twenty months of my life. I got to watch my story grow up into The Longest Night — a book I’m proud to share, with cover I’d love to frame and hang on the wall. Even better, I finished my second book, The Deepest Night, set in the same world as the first, with equally awesome cover art.
Want to know the funny thing? I’m actually not a big romance reader. I love sci-fi, fantasy, and Cold War and espionage thrillers. I enjoy paranormal romance for the paranormal, rather than the romance.
So maybe that’s what makes The Longest Night different. It’s not love or even lust at first sight. Instead, it’s the story of two people who go from strangers to friends, building trust and intimacy in a slow burn that turns into a long-lasting foundation for their love.
Ian and Cecily aren’t your typical hero and heroine, either.  Ian Fairchild is a smart, sexy criminal attorney — more Sherlock Holmes than the Terminator. He spends his days in the courtroom and his nights in bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. He’s a city boy, perfectly suited for life in Manhattan... and not at all for spending even a couple of days with Cecily Knight, much less a couple of months.
Cecily’s the one who’s built a life in a cabin in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. She hunts her own food, chops her own firewood, and flies her own small plane whenever she needs to go to town for groceries. For fun, she uses an old manual typewriter to write children’s fantasy novels.
At first glance, you’d think they’re not suited for each other at all. Cecily’s not a rich, glamorous city girl with an executive job by day and invitations to all the best parties, and Ian’s not a tough, self-sufficient survivalist. But love goes deeper than that surface impression. Cecily and Ian are both strong, resilient, and intelligent.
To complicate matters, Ian’s fighting an addiction to painkillers after a car crash, and Cecily’s PTSD has driven her to live in isolation for the last seven years. But while it’s a long road for both of them to heal, if they can learn to trust one another, they won’t have to walk that road alone.


Photo by Stephanie Cole
Kara Braden makes her debut in modern romance with a story of love in isolation. She believes that engaging, romantic fantasy can be found everywhere in the world, even in the most unlikely places. With the support of her wonderful husband, cats, and dogs, she writes from her home office outside Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her time hiding from the sunlight and heat.
 
Available for purchase now:

Author Website: http://karabraden.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaraBraden @KaraBraden


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On the Road to RWA

This year, for the first time, I'm attending the national Romance Writers of America conference.

But I'm not going to talk today about how excited I am to meet my editors and agent in person (for the first time ever!). Or how many authors I'll be fangirling over. Or the workshops, or the chance to talk with author friends, or the books galore.

Nope, today I'm just going to talk about getting there.

I live in the Midwest, but not near any travel hubs. So flying can take quite a while, especially since I can make flights get canceled with my mere presence. (It's a gift.) But with relatives at each coast and to the far north and south, travel is a necessity. I just prefer to go by car when I can.

So I'm road-tripping to RWA--today, actually. I've scheduled this post ahead of time, because when you read it, I'll be cutting my way southward to San Antonio. I'm bringing music, snacks, and--courtesy of my library--a few audiobooks. My hope is that the travel will become part of the conference itself: a chance to recharge, to think about the books I love to read and write.


Last week, I asked the good people of my Facebook page to share some of their essentials for a road trip. Their answers included the practical (a GPS or printed directions, an emergency kit), the fun (music and snacks), and the leisurely (pillows and books for those who aren't driving). 

Now I'm wondering, what do you think? What would you most like to bring on a road trip--and where would you like to go? Since I'm traveling today, I might not be able to see your answers right away, but I'll check in as soon as I can!

*     *     *

Historical romance author Theresa Romain pursued an impractical education that allowed her to read everything she could get her hands on. She then worked for universities and libraries, where she got to read even more. Eventually she started writing, too. She lives with her family in the Midwest, where she is working on her next book. 
Twitter: @TheresaRomain

Monday, July 21, 2014

Favourite Scenes...

Feeling like death warmed up today and in bed with the flu, so in lieu of the post I had planned, here's one of my favourite scenes from Forged By Desire (available September 2014).

Here's the blurb:

Captain Garrett Reed of the Nighthawk guard has a deadly mission: capture a steel-jawed monster preying on women. He hates to put his partner, Perry, in jeopardy, but she’s the best bait he has. Little does he realize, he’s about to be caught in his own trap.

Perry has been half in love with Garrett for years, but this is not exactly the best time to start a relationship—especially when their investigation leads them directly into the clutches of the madman she thought she’d escaped...


“I knew you grew up somewhere in the East End, but Bethnal?”
“Why not?” Garrett challenged.
Perry tugged on his coat. “With all your cologne, fancy waistcoats, and polished boots, who would ever expect it?”
“People see what you present to them. I learned that early enough. I was sixteen when I found the Nighthawks,” he replied. “My grandmother was a weaver with a bit of book-learning; enough to teach me some words. I used to mimic her finer speech as a lad, and when her and me mam died I became one of the swell mob. When you’re born on the streets, you soon realize the only way out is up. And the only way to stay up is get rid of any trace of where you were born.” Like his speech. He often silently repeated the things blue blood lords or merchants said, trying them out for himself. It was rare that he slipped up these days, usually only when he was angry.
“That was almost frightening, the way you started dropping your ‘g’s’. You sounded fit to join one of the slum gangs.”
“Aye, well when I was first infected, I actually considered it. The Devil of Whitechapel and his gang are the only ones  who dare defy the Echelon. He’s got a certain swagger a street lad tends to admire.” And Garrett had been full of anger then; at the man who’d cut his mother’s throat and stolen her purse; at the Echelon; and most especially the Prince Consort, whose crushing taxes had forced his mother to disreputable work.
“What happened?”
“I tried to pick Lynch’s pocket instead,” Garrett admitted with a wince at the half-remembered thrashing he’d received from the Guild Master. “He made an impression. So I followed him home and sat outside the Guild for a week. Lynch finally took me in. Anything to stop me from freezing to death on his stoop.” The smile on his face slipped slowly.
Perry saw it. “I’ve never asked,” she said hurriedly. “How you were infected?”
“Three months before I dipped Lynch’s pocket, I may have had a slight altercation with a set of young blue blood lads. Practically dripping lace, they were, which in my neck of town, is worth a fortune. I ended up with three fat coin purses, a handkerchief or two, a pair of broken ribs, slash across my face, black eye and a split lip.”
“And the craving virus, I presume.”
“A somewhat unwanted side effect. Obviously one of them was bleeding - and so was I.”
“You seem to have acquired somewhat of a nasty habit in your youth,” she said dryly.
“I’m completely reformed.” He slid a hand over the small of her back as he helped her around a semi-frozen puddle. Even through the smooth leather of her coat and corset he could feel the muscles working along her spine. What would it be like to run his hands all over her body? She wasn’t soft like most women - except in those places deemed desirable by a man - and the thought intrigued him. Strong, sleek limbs, meant to wrap around a man’s hips...
“You wouldn’t know what reformed meant.” Perry shot him a smoky look that burned right through him.
Garrett’s fingers danced over her waist, a smile lighting his lips. He liked her like this; warm and teasing. For a moment he managed to slip beneath the careful guard she held in place and see within. And she was letting him touch her, which was a secret delight he’d never have thought he’d own. How had he not been aware of this side of her?
Perhaps because she didn’t want you to see...
“True,” he said, holding up her coin purse.
Perry’s hand shot to her hip. “How did you...?”
He tossed her the coin purse and she snatched it out of the air. “I was a fingersmith, a good one too. Only man as ever caught me was Lynch.”
A trio of objects slipped from his sleeve and he juggled them in front of her. Perry’s jaw dropped lower as she snatched a small gold lump out of mid-air. “That’s my ring!” She grabbed again. “And my pocket watch.” The moment she saw the last object he held in his hands, the color washed out of her cheeks. “Give that back!”
He caught a glimpse of a small round coin with a falcon’s head stamped on it, like one of the sigils the Echelon used. Fist closing around it, he held his arm high. “What’s wrong? Something personal?”
She grabbed his arm and spun him directly into the wall of an alleyway, yanking his elbow up behind his back. A knee dug into the back of his, rendering him incapable of moving. Not that he wanted to. Perry’s entire body pressed against his, her breath in his ear. “Give it back.”
She dug his fingers open but the object was gone. Snatching at his other hand, she opened it too and snarled in frustration. “Where did you put it?”
One last sleight of the hand as she’d manhandled him. “You’re a Nighthawk,” he replied, swallowing tightly as he lowered his arm and pressed his fingertips against the rough brick. “Why don’t you find it?”
I dare you.
The silence practically blistered his ears. Then one of her thighs wedged between his and spread his legs. The shock of it stirred hot fingers of need through him and Garrett turned his face to the side as she ran her slender fingers up his flanks. They darted into his pockets, coming away empty. Rough hands, jerking against his hips. Up his sides.
“You’re enjoying this,” she growled, her hands growing reckless with frustration.
“Of course I am. A man’d pay more than five quid to get a touch up like this elsewhere.”
He sensed the moment she realized what she was doing. One palm curled over his hip lightly, the pressure almost negligent. The sudden pounding of her heartbeat echoed in his ears. Tension vibrated through him and she felt it, he knew. How could she not? Every muscle in his body was locked steel, tight with desire.
Damn you. Do it.
The pressure of her hand against his hip increased, a languid touch that almost became a stroke.
As if something had been decided.
Garrett almost lost his breath, his brain slowing to a crawl as everything inside him went molten. There was a tremor in his fingers, echoing through his whole body.
“You’ll owe me more than five quid then,” Perry replied, in a voice that had turned to liquid smoke.


Hope you enjoyed! If you want to read more, keep an eye out for Forged By Desire, which is available in September 2014.

Cheers, 
Bec McMaster