Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Admit It...I'm an Addict by Shana Galen

I have a problem. Admitting it is the first step, right? Okay, so I'm addicted to news and photos of the Duchess of Cambridge (that's Kate Middleton to those of you who aren't royal watchers). This grand tour of New Zealand and Australia has been a boon for those of us who get jittery when we go too long without any photos or news of Kate.

Obviously, this letter in the Times indicates that not everyone is eating up all the media attention the duchess receives.


Have to love that dry British wit. The Brits are better known for humor than style, but Kate Middleton may very well be changing that image. Take a look at a few of the outfits she wore on the tour.

These two make me want to buy a few dozen hats.



This Diane von Furstenberg dress was so popular it sold out 8 seconds after Kate was pictured wearing it.

This photo proves that hats and puppies are the ultimate accessories.

Seriously, furry animals are always in style, even a bilby (who had ever heard of them before this trip?).


Kids are pretty cute accessories too.





Whose style do you most admire?





Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Gearing up for RT!



This year I get to fulfill TWO big dreams that I've had for many years. First, I finally get to attend the RT Booklover's convention this coming May!! I finally get to meet authors I've admired forever. I finally get to participate in the always amusing RT twitter feed. I get to meet some of my readers and sign books, attend useful workshops and fun parties.
 
Second, I get to visit New Orleans, a place I've been dying to see since I read my first Anne Rice novel.

My excitement knows no bounds.

Since this will be my first convention and first time travelling alone, I'm going to try to take it as easy as possible. I'll attend plenty of worshops and author events and parties, but I really want to focus my attention on the 2 main purposes I have for attending this convention. Getting to know people, and exploring NOLA. I'm going to stuff my face with Cajun and Creole food. A few authors and I are planning a mini tourist expedition.
If there is karaoke at the bar, I'll probably sing some classic rock and metal.

But mostly, I hope to be flitting around the lobby and bar and quiet corners taking it all in and making new friends who also like talking about books.

I will have a few copies of BITE ME, YOUR GRACE, and maybe even a couple ARCs for ONE BITE PER NIGHT. Since I'm not doing any official author events this time around, some of you will get your hands on these at the most unexpected moment. Mwah-hah-hah!!! 

Who else is going to RT? What do you plan to do?

For those who aren't attending, What is your dream convention and why?

Comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of any of my current books.

Here's a link to my Amazon page

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A TASTE OF SPRING(Recipe) by Pamela Sherwood

Lemon Tree...and Feline Guardian!
Just as there are certain colors and smells that you automatically associate with specific seasons, so are there particular flavors. So if autumn tastes like pumpkin, ginger, and cranberries, winter like peppermint and chocolate, and summer like strawberries and peaches, spring--at least to me--tastes like lemons. And right now, with the warmer weather coming in, Southern California's lemon trees are putting out bumper crops of sunny yellow fruit!

And enthusiastic cooks like me eye the laden branches with mingled speculation--and acquisitiveness! Because lemons are among the most versatile of ingredients, finding their way into all kinds of dishes: hot, cold, savory, sweet, liquid or solid. Whether it's avgolemono soup or lemon cream pasta or lemon meringue pie, lemon enlivens any springtime menu.

Today I'm sharing a recipe for madeleines, those pretty scallop-shaped cakes that you can now find as overpriced three-packs at your local Starbucks or Trader Joe's. Previously, your best bet was a French bakery--or between the pages of Proust's In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past), in which the narrator relives his childhood while snacking on a madeleine dipped in tea.

I bought my madeleine tray some years ago and inflicted madeleines of various flavors on my family: lemon, almond, chocolate (the last a little dry, I regret to say--the recipe needed refining). After a certain point, though, I fell out of the habit of madeleine-making--a book contract may have had something to do with that--and my tray languished half-forgotten in the kitchen cupboard.
Madeleine Tray, Buttered, Floured, and Ready for Action

Until last Christmas, when I uncovered it while searching for something else--and promptly succumbed to a Proustian-level fit of nostalgia for these treats! And as it happens, the hero of my current WIP turned out to be very fond of madeleines himself, especially the almond ones. But in keeping with the season, it's lemon madeleines this time around!


LEMON MADELEINES

5 tablespoons of butter or margarine (melted)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Juice and finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt (if using unsalted butter--otherwise you can omit)

Combine the last 3 ingredients in a bowl, mix well until blended.

Beat eggs and sugar together in mixing bowl, add melted butter (after cooling slightly), beat until blended. Add by turns the dry ingredients, the lemon juice and zest, and vanilla. Batter should be smooth and spreadable.

Cover bowl with clean towel and let batter stand for an hour. Grease and flour madeleine molds.

Madeleine Batter 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees about 10 minutes before baking. Stir batter until fluid again and fill madeleine molds about 2/3 to 3/4 full. You can use a butter knife to spread the batter closer to the edges of the mold.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Texture should be tender and slightly spongy, like little cakes. Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes before loosening madeleines from their molds. A butter knife is a good tool for this. Put madeleines on plate, dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Makes about 18-24 depending on the size of the molds.

The Finished Product...Yum!

They're actually very easy to make. It's the prep work that's the most time-consuming aspect, but the results are worth the hassle.  If you have any left over, wrap in foil and reheat in a conventional oven before eating. Or pop them in a microwave for a few seconds. They taste much better warm--the texture turns rubbery when they're cold. (I also don't recommend dunking them in your tea--unless you have a passion for all things Proust. But these are moist enough without immersion!)

Enjoy!  What are some of your favorite springtime dishes?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Everybody's Got Their Something

New here! Hi, this is my first Casablanca Authors blog. I'm Sherri Browning. The official bio:

Sherri Browning Erwin, best known for classic mash-ups Jane Slayre and Grave Expectations, also writes paranormal romance and historical romance as Sherri Browning. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, Sherri has lived in Massachusetts and Michigan, but is now settled with her family in Connecticut. Watch for her return to historical romance with the upcoming Thornbrook Park series (Coming June 3! Preorder now! ).
 Unofficially? I like food and wine (I'll try anything once). The New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox (did I mention Massachusetts?). I spend far too much of my valuable vacation time in Walt Disney World (slightly obsessed). And. I write in zebra pants.


Zebra pants. Yep. It started out innocently enough. I happened to mention on Facebook (please follow me on Facebook!) that I got a funny look from my neighbor when I was out checking the mail in my zebra pants (and a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, coincidentally). And suddenly, zebra pants were my thing.

I have winter weight, summer weight, in between, and also zebra other things, because why stop at pants? People get me zebra gifts. People send me zebra stuff! It's all kind of awesome, really. (Awesome, we use that word a lot growing up in Massachusetts).

Symbolically, zebras represent individuality, grace, beauty, honesty, and freedom. Also, balance. Power. And magic (all those stripes make predators dizzy and confused). I like to think that wearing the pants translates to magic on the page (fingers crossed).

Do you have a special thing? Something that people think of when they think of you, or maybe something you collect, or can't live without? Tell me about you! 

Prize alert! Leave a comment with your email and I'll randomly choose one of you to receive a very special zebra gift plus an advance review copy of
Thornbrook Park. 
Fans of Downton Abbey will adore this brand-new Edwardian-period romance series set at the grand estate of Thornbrook Park, seat of the Earl of Averford.

And the winner is... Catslady5@aol.com. Thank you all for the warm welcome!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mia's Winner!


Thank you to everyone who weighed in on their favorite heroines for my April 16th post. The winner is Steph! She gets her choice from  my backlist in either Kindle or Nook format.


Now if you didn’t win today, do not despair! You can still win your choice from my backlist in my monthly drawing. All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter! And if you want special access and the opportunity to score ARCs of my upcoming novels when they become available, be sure to become one of Mia’s Muses.

Happy Reading!
Mia

Saturday, April 19, 2014

X Marks the Scot Wins Big + Giveaway by Victoria Roberts

Aye! That's my Highland hero!

Imagine my surprise when Declan MacGregor and Lady Liadain Campbell's story was nominated for a 2013 RT Reviewers' Choice award for Best Medieval Romance. Yep, I was thrilled. I had already planned on traveling to New Orleans, LA in May to attend the RT Booklovers' Convention so this nomination was clearly an added bonus. 

Funny story about that...

My sister is coming with me to the convention, and she was thrilled when she heard that X Marks the Scot was nominated. However, when my 13 year old daughter found out, she wasn't too happy. She was ticked off at mom because she wanted to travel to New Orleans, too. Not wanting to hear the sob stories of a teenager, I did what any mom would do. I told her that if I win, she could come along. Who would've thought in a million years... And that was the end of it. Nothing more, nothing less. I thought I was the smartest mom in the world.

And then I won...

I was so excited to hear the news. Declan and Liadain won the RT Reviewers' Choice award! Apparently, I wasn't the only one elated. When my daughter found out that I'd won the award, she jumped up and down, gave me a hug, and she was so happy.

"We're going to have so much fun in New Orleans! When are you going to buy my ticket?"

Och, aye. Need I say more? Little did I realize that wee slip of the tongue would cost me plenty. First, I booked her flight, and then I realized said teenager had no clothes for New Orleans. She also kindly reminded me of that fact, many times. 

"How can I go to the awards ceremony without the perfect dress and shoes? I'm your daughter." 

I think you get the picture, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm so honored that my sister and my daughter will be able to share this moment with me. I was even more thrilled to discover that my daughter decided to bail on me at the Giant Book Fair, only to stalk Charlaine Harris. *shakes head*   

If anyone is going to the RT Convention, please make sure you stop by and say hello. I hope you'll attend the awards ceremony and will be there to cheer me on! I'm a wee bit nervous.

GIVEAWAY: How long can one possibly clothes shop before they go completely mad? 

Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy of X Marks the Scot, a Bad Boys of the Highlands t-shirt (Declan) and an autographed postcard. US/Canada only, please. The contest is open until Tuesday, April 22nd.


He was a Highland Rogue—Wicked with a Bow and Just as Wicked with the Ladies.
Declan MacGregor hadn't a care in the world beyond finding a soft bed and a willing woman...until he had to escort Lady Liadain Campbell to the English court. The woman needles him at every turn, but he can't just abandon her to that vipers' nest without protection.

She Never Asked for a Bodyguard... 
Liadain wasn't thrilled to be left in the care of her clan's archrival. It was as if the man never had a lady tell him no before! And yet as whispers of treason swirl through the court and the threat of danger grows even sharper, her bitter enemy soon becomes the only one she can trust...

Amazon
Barnes and Noble

Friday, April 18, 2014

Starting from Scratch

by M.L. Buchman

Some things, I find, get easier with practice.
The sailboat I rebuilt in the early 1980s and learned to sail solo
Riding my bicycle at the northernmost tip of Japan
-in the 34 degree driving rains of May 1993
Other things don't get easier with practice. I have written 25 novels and a dozen short stories. I was talking with a friend who has a hundred novels and passed a thousand short stories a long time ago. And he remarked how no one believes how hard it is to start from scratch. In his case, he went on a three-year hiatus for a number of reasons and was once again staring at a blank page. In my case, I just finished my Angelo's Hearth series and I'm looking at the blank page of a whole new series.

You would think that it would be easier because I just launched a new romantic suspense series called Firehawks, or will on May 6th with the release of Pure Heat. The problem with that theory is that Pure Heat started as a pitch to my traditional publisher Sourcebooks two years ago. After the contract was done, I finished the novel and turned it in a year ago. I'm now working on #3 in the series which won't be released until Summer 2015. Actually #4 as I have a short novel coming out in the series in June.

But my new series is a puzzlement (to quote the King and I). I  remember back when I was starting my second novel. It was perhaps the scariest event of my young writing career. I had sold the first one, written, polished, and published. And then the blank page confronted me! I knew anything I wrote would be utter crap. And it was by comparison to what I had just done because it was first-draft quality writing.

Well, I am here to tell you that a new series, even after 25 books, feels just the same way. I have an idea. I think it is good, funny, romantic, and exciting. I'm eager to start.

And I have no idea where to begin. As my friend and I observed to each other, we have enough experience now to have faith that it will work out. Just not how that is ever going to be possible. So, we return to our prospective blank pages and begin typing. "Call me Ishmael." (Wait, I think that one has been used already.)

And I have proof that it works, because two years ago this was just an idea. On May 6th, it will be out in the world!
Now if I could just figure out how to start this next one.

So go out there and begin it. Whether it is your first book or your hundredth, start now. What's your current project, writing or not, and what's stopping you from just starting it?

Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.mlbuchman.com so that you don't miss any new releases.
Thanks

Thursday, April 17, 2014

All in the name of research

I take my research seriously. And while I can never interview a vampire, a goblin or a fairy I do read up on the mythology.

Sometimes research is more practical. I've been doing martial arts since I was ten and have done several different styles to get a feel for different techniques. I've done archery and the Tough Mudder (because you never know when a character will need to get over a 9 foot high wall--it’s not easy, nor is moving quickly over rocky/muddy/steep terrain for 20km).

My latest bit of research involved knitting. I know, you’re all thinking I've gone soft all of a sudden, but how else was my hero going to make socks? There are no department stores on the new colony of Solitaire*.

My Nana taught me to knit and over the years I've knitted bits and pieces but I have always shied away from socks, I mean there’s a toe and a heel and they look tricky. Reading the pattern makes them seem even trickier!

So in the name of research I bought wool and some double pointed needles and took a stab.

While juggling 4 needles was only slightly less tricky than trying to give my boy cat, Sarsen, his worming pill there was also less blood (the cat doesn't like tablets and has attempted to carve out my veins more than once).

I am now pleased to say I have two thigh high socks, and they were way easier than I expected. Now when my hero talks about making socks I know what I'm talking about.

Check out how unimpressed Sarsen is with my socks. He’s comatose with delight!

*Solitaire is the planet ES Siren is travelling to. ES Siren is a multi-author sexy sci-fi romance series being written by myself, Mel Teshco and Denise Rossetti. The first books will be out later this year :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Over the Rainbow...

from Mia Marlowe...

I was fascinated by Gina Conkle's blog from yesterday about heroes and our favorite archetypes. (I confess a weakness for both the Arrogant Alpha and the Wounded Soldier.) Her post made me think about what usually happens when I give my Meat on the Bones characterization workshop to writers' groups. The function of the protagonist in fiction is to give readers a character to care about and pull for and we've been blessed with lots of terrific heroes. I always invite attendees to call out their favorite heroes from books, TV and the big screen. The names fly fast and furious and I finally have to cut them off so the workshop can move forward. Then I ask for favorite heroines.

Cue the crickets.

Finally, someone will sheepishly raise a hand and ask with a questioning lilt, "How about Dorothy?" 

This worries me. It makes me think we writers are not doing our job if we can't create more memorable heroines. If my readers don't want to slip into my heroine's ruby slippers, why will they spend any time at all following her around in my fictional world?

So here's what I try to give to my leading ladies each time:

1. Intelligence--She may not always have an extensive education. In fact, since I write historicals and women didn't always have the opportunity for education we take for granted today, that's almost a given, but my heroine had better be smart. None of that going alone into the creepy basement because she hears something. The noise she hears had better be a child in peril or my heroine isn't going down there.

2. Not obsessed with her appearance--My heroine may be pretty, but she doesn't spend an inordinate amount of time on her looks. In my upcoming A Rake by Any Other Name (November 2014), Sophie Goodnight declares "If anyone doesn't like my looks, he can look the other way!"

3. A goal beyond snagging a man--Whether it's solving a mystery, crossing items off a list of secret pleasures, or just learning to make the best cream puffs in Christendom, I want a heroine who passionately needs to excel at something.  Of course, she'll get the guy, but I'd sure like to see her catch the killer, do something outrageous, or outrageously well too!

4. A code of ethics that will be challenged.--Heroes are put to the test all the time and we are riveted by their choices.Why shouldn't heroines have their sense of "oughtness" tried as well?

THE PRIZE
Who is your favorite heroine? 

Share your most memorable female protagonist for a chance to win a digital copy of one of my backlist titles (Winner's Choice). You can check them all out here.  Be sure to leave your email address in your response or check back on Sunday, April 20th, when I'll post the winner here. 
Good luck!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

How Do You Want Your Hero?

Romance readers love men. I sure do. They come in all shapes and sizes. And, when it comes to our books, as a reader or a writer, we like our heroes a certain way. We gravitate toward comfortable archetypes, each man showing a dash of unique flaws and character traits...enough to make our latest hero the same but different.

And, going by the state of romance covers these days, our taste in certain other traits has changed from ginormous Fabio pecs to ubiquitous sleeked out abs.


Shameless Man Abs Image
                                       

Of course, that would be the outer man, and we're all about the inner man today.

I'm having fun as I type this, but isn't it true that we women want to know what makes a man tick? We want to understand our in the flesh heroes the same as the men we explore in a book. To do that, some classification is required.

My theory: We have a basic archetype we like to read.

Oh, we might stray now and then, dallying with another kind of hero. Eventually, we go back to our admired alphas, beloved brooders, or darling debauchers. Have you taken a good look at your keeper shelf? Is there a common thread among the men you stick with as a reader?



I went through an alpha and lone wolf phase with my Vikings, but this other man kept showing up in my head. I had to write him down, and boy was I surprised to find a brilliant recluse. He was mysterious and whip smart with a dose of snarky and bossy.

His name? Lord Edward, Earl of Greenwich. The funny thing is I don't tend to write dukes and earls (but I love to read them!). I prefer men in the trenches and all of a sudden there was this...man.



Better than me trying to explain, meet him in this "Why not come here" excerpt from Meet the Earl at Midnight:


She cleared her throat. “Let me assure you, my lord, today’s behavior is most unusual for me. I am not a snoop.” She emphasized the not with all starch.
“Words, Miss Montgomery, mere words. You’ve been full of assurances and light on action since I met you last night.” He crossed his arms over his chest; pale sunlight filtered through clouds, touching him everywhere.
Not toying…flirting? At least his version of flirtation.
“I’m in your home, aren’t I? Awaiting your pleasure.” The prim fold of her hands knocked any salaciousness from her words.
“True.” He nodded. “But there is an axiom in science, a law of nature if you will that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I think that applies here…call it a consequence to one’s behavior.” Then, his gaze flicked over her head to toe. His eyebrows pressed together as if something bothersome came to mind.
“Is something wrong, milord?”
“Come here.” He spoke with his lordly, commanding tone.
Warning bells went off in her head. 
          Lydia rooted to the spot. “I…what do you want?” 
          “For you to come here.” One side of his mouth slid up. “In fact, I’d find it refreshing if you did whatever I asked the first time I issued a command.”
          “Wha…” Eyes rounding, Lydia couldn’t finish the word in her indignation.
          “Please.” He added, tipping his head in gentleman’s fashion.
          His high and mighty lordliness had the upper hand, but he softened the advantage with that please.
           “What are you going to do?”
           “Why not come here and find out?” 
                                                   *          *          *

Over a year ago, I organized a fun survey asking "What's your favorite kind of hero?"

I'd like to do the same here today. Here are the choices:
A) Arrogant Alpha
B) Brooding Ruffian
C) Brilliant Recluse
D) Debauched Rogue
E) Wounded Soldier
F) Lone Wolf
G) Tender Beta

Please share your latest favorite kind of man (and if you think I've left an archetype out, feel free to add your flavor). Tell me why you like him, and next week I'll draw a winner from the comments. The prize?

A $25 B&N gift card for anyone in the US or Canada.


I'll give this a week and draw a name April 23rd (be sure and leave your email). Please tell a friend! Share this link.

And speaking of links, if you're interested in more Meet the Earl at Midnight, click this MEET THE EARL AT MIDNIGHT or find the book here:

                 AMAZON US            B & N          iTUNES          GOOGLE PLAY





Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm Getting BOOKED in England by Sara Humphreys

I have some really exciting news! I've been invited to be one of the Headlining Authors at the BOOKED Convention in Bristol, England this November. I am beyond excited!

When they first asked me, my response was, "Are you sure you have the right person?"

After they assured me that I was indeed the person they were looking for, I happily said YES!


Aside from the fact that this will be my first trip to the U.K., it's also my first non-romance centric convention. BOOKED will feature authors and celebrities from the comic book and wrestling world as well. It is sure to be a fun and exciting event. Check out the fun stuff they have planned for us!

Friday 21st November 2014

For all weekend pass holders we will be having a very special Friday night. This will include the following:
  • Early access to the dealers room from 4pm
  • Welcome Seminar - with a complimentary welcome drink
  • A very special weekend pass holders only photoshoot with our four wrestlers that will be in attendance!
  • Drinks Reception - With buffet and chances to network

Saturday 22nd November 2014

With the Saturday open to all from 10am (Weekend Pass holder's from 9.30am) we will be including the following throughout the day:
  • Official cutting of the BOOKED! ribbon by Joe E. Legend (9.30am) (Weekend Pass holder's only)
  • Autograph sessions 
  • Professional photo-shoot sessions 
  • Guest Encounters
  • Panels 
  • Workshops
  • Book launches
  • Readings 
  • Dealers room 
  • And much more!!

The convention is taking place at the Mercure Holland House Hotel & Spa in Bristol and it looks absolutely lovely. Bristol is a port town and located about two hours outside of London. The convention events are finished Saturday night, so you can bet I'll be extending my trip by a few days so I can have a peek at London.

I. Am. Pumped.

The best part?? I will finally get to meet some of the girls on my street team who live in the U.K.!!!
I'm honored and humbled that the convention organizers asked me to be a part of this fun event. Tickets can be purchased now and be sure to book your room because they're sure to sell out quickly.
I don't know about you but I'll definitely be taking part of the spa services!

See you in England this Fall!

Royal Style

You might not know this about me, but I'm a bit of an Anglophile. My favorite Brit right now is the Duchess of Cambridge. I love her style. The royal tour of New Zealand and Australia has given me lots of drool over. Here are a few of my favorite outfits.

Arriving with Prince George


Playdate. Not what I wear on playdates, FYI.

Lovely in blue
And teal. I need that hat!
And back in red today.
Whose style do you most admire?
For more of Kate, check out my Facebook page!