Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Whoohooo - It's Party Time!!

by Tawny

I'm so ready to celebrate the holidays!! I love this time of year. All of it- the baking, the crafts, the gift wrapping, the pretty lights and the fabulous music. I'm a sucker for a holiday movie and a sap over anything wrapped by a kid. I adore the whispered secrets and have been known to get teary eyed over watching my kids decorating cookies with my husband's questionable help.

And this year, I'm celebrating a little bit extra. I am so excited to have a holiday story out, it's like that extra sparkle of tinsel on the tree for me.


A BABE IN TOYLAND Excerpt:

He could barely see her through the crowd. Bikers were shoulder to shoulder with what looked like bankers from the S&L on the corner. Mixed in were a few gals with huge hair that he suspected worked at the beauty salon in the mall.

“What the hell...” He stared, slack jawed, as Rita waved her hand, all game-show-hostess like, over the array of vividly colored items spread across the tailgate of his truck.

“What the hell are these?” she clarified, stepping around two blondes to greet him.

Even knowing he was no better than one of Pavlov’s pups, Tyler’s gaze swept over her face, now pinup girl exotic. Her hair, still in a ponytail, but she’d done something to make it look like all fifties-movie-star flirty. She was still in the same jeans she’d worn earlier, but she’d replaced her red puffy jacket with a black studded leather one.

Tyler’s mouth watered.

“These are toys,” she said. It took him five seconds and the direction of her pointing finger to remember the question.

“Toys.”

“Sex toys.”

“I realize they’re sex toys. Why are they here? Now? On my truck?” He stared, fixated, on a foot long, neon green monstrosity with a head—an actual face—of a dinosaur.

Her laugh was all it took to rip his gaze from the freakish dildo and back to her face. She ran her tongue over her upper teeth, to hide a smirk, he was sure.

“I see you’re interested in the T-Sex. The dinosaur of dildos,” she explained, sounding like a TV commercial hawking a new model car. “Guaranteed to make your woman roar with pleasure.”

“What...”

“What am I doing with them? Selling them, of course,” she said, indicating the little slips of paper she’d tucked underneath each toy. He squinted, seeing she’d not only written up descriptions, but detailed sex and position suggestions along with the asking price.

Tyler was grateful the icy wind was there to cool his cheeks before the heat became apparent.

Didn’t matter, though. Rita, probably having a special radar for that kind of thing, chuckled.

She leaned forward and gave his cheek a soft pat. The smooth touch of her fingers making him want to grab her wrist and nibble his way up her arm.

“Don’t worry, big boy,” she purred. “You can have first dibs. I’ll even give you a good-driver discount.”

The only thing that kept Tyler from grabbing her by that tiny waist, tossing her in the bed of the truck and showing her just exactly how good he could drive was the six-and-a-half-foot biker in studded leather who’d tapped her on the shoulder and asked the price of a set of candy cane styled nipple rings.

And that, my friends, is the beginning of true love :-)

To celebrate the release of A BABE IN TOYLAND and IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MISTLETOE, and because the holiday season just screams for a little extra fun - I'm having a contest trio. One contest on my website, one contest on my Facebook page and another for my newsletter. You can check them out --and enter any and all if you'd like --on my blog December first. But... that's not enough, is it? How about we kick it up even more and I'll give away three copies of IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MISTLETOE to three commenters today! To win, all you have to do is check out NAUGHTY IS NICE, my free read over on eHarlequin, and tell me in the comments which character is your favorite :-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

A VERY SIMPLE CRIME



I had the pleasure of reading a fabulous book this month, A VERY SIMPLE CRIME by Grant Jerkins. Grant explores a few hot topics, including mental illness in a marriage, extreme sibling rivalry, and just how far people will go to get what they desire. I was compelled to reach out to Grant, hoping that he would join us in the lair and share some of his thoughts about these fascinating facets of his novel and I'm thrilled he agreed. Please welcome talented author Grant Jerkins!!!
Thank you all for the opportunity to play a small role in this community you’ve created here. I’ll talk a little bit about the book and answer any questions.
The effect of mental illness on a marriage and the portrayal of sibling rivalry at its most extreme are two aspects of A VERY SIMPLE CRIME that early readers have commented on, so I thought it might be worth exploring those two themes.
To peer into a marriage, I think we have to first look at the two halves that make up the whole. For me, this story started with Adam Lee, and the novel opens with Adam on trial, accused of murdering his wife. I can’t say that Adam is based on me, because he is not, but he did spring out of an incident from my childhood.

My bedroom then was in the basement of our house, and one night I got up to go to the bathroom. I didn’t bother to turn on the light because I knew the way upstairs. I’d made the trip a thousand times before. That night, though, I grew conscious of the pitch darkness and became disoriented. I got lost. I had a little panic attack. A mini melt down. I just stood there and screamed my head off until someone heard me and turned on a light. It was just one of those weird experiences we all have as kids.

Somehow, in thinking about that incident, my mind latched onto the idea of a man who was never able to escape the darkness, that it infected every aspect of his life. And Adam Lee was born.

From there, I got to wondering what it would be like if someone such as Adam got married. Started a family. What kind of woman would he be attracted to? Enter Rachel Lee.
From the start, Rachel is portrayed as someone with mental illness. There is evidence of suicidal gestures, depression, and manipulation of others through self-injurious behavior. If we had to put down a diagnosis, it would probably be Borderline Personality Disorder; so-called because the person straddles the line between neurosis and psychosis, and it is hallmarked by the symptoms described above.

Up front, Adam admits to us that this is what he wants in a wife. “Can I admit it now?” he asks. “Can I acknowledge that on some level, even then, that I was attracted to her mental illness? Certainly it was there, like a badge of achievement for all to see. I saw it, stretched and pink edged across her wrist, and I responded to it. Darkness is drawn to darkness.”
So, what we end up with is a toxic stew of a marriage, because clearly, Adam has his “issues” as well, and what those issues are make up the meat of the story as he is investigated for Rachel’s murder.

One of those issues is Adam’s relationship with his older brother, Monty. One Amazon Vine reviewer said “Adam Lee and his brother Monty are some real tales from the dark side.” and I would have to agree with that. One brother is portrayed as existing in the dark (Adam) while the other is described as being of the light (Monty, right down to his Aryan physical features.) They are flip sides of the same coin. Opposite, but the same. Each wants what the other has, and would seemingly do anything to possess it. Much like his marriage, Adam’s relationship with his brother is far from clear-cut. And it all seems to stem from a boyhood incident, a secret the two brothers covered up. A secret, as James M. Cain once put it, too terrible for two people to share.

And it could be that whatever it was that happened to him as a boy has caused the adult Adam to be drawn to broken women, to women who are “crippled inside”
Is it worth pondering, when we sit down and take inventory of our own lives, of our own relationships--and we find that we are not satisfied with what we have--to ask ourselves to what degree is it our own fault?

If your husband drinks too much and grows violent, were the signs of his alcoholism there from the start? And were you drawn to that? Is that why you picked him?
If your spouse is verbally abusive and uses humiliation to control you, was the seed of that behavior always there? And is it possible you recognized it, and you were drawn to it?
If your wife has slid into a constant state of suspicion and near-paranoid jealousy, could it be that you recognized that potential in her from your very first date? And on some level that is what you wanted for yourself?

Uncomfortable questions, to be sure.

KJ back again. Grant, fascinating thoughts. I'd love to hear how the readers would answer your probing questions. Does anyone know of any real life tales you could share?

If you would like to learn more about Grant, the book, or the upcoming film project based on A VERY SIMPLE CRIME, please visit his website: www.grantjerkins.com

The winner of the Writer’s Network Screenplay and Fiction competition, Grant Jerkins’s first novel, A Very Simple Crime, was selected from well over two thousand entries to take the top honors. The novel has since been optioned for film by the writing/producing team of Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nicholas Kazan (At Close Range, Reversal of Fortune,) and Audrey Kelly, publisher of Fade In: magazine. The film is currently in pre-production with Barbet Schroeder attached to direct. This will mark the first pairing of Schroeder and Kazan since their landmark, Oscar-winning film, Reversal of Fortune.

Grant lives with his wife and son in the Atlanta area where he worked for ten years advocating for adults with developmental disabilities.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Been Experimenting Again

by Suzanne

We just had Thanksgiving so I'm sure a lot of you are tired of cooking. It takes me from Monday to Thursday to wrangle that particular meal for thirty minutes of eating! But the fun and family being togther is soooo worth the effort. And Lyndsey's Caramel Apple Pie is the topper of the evening!

There are two times I experiment in the kitchen. 1. I'm bored. 2. I'm procrastinating. Uhm, this week, it's probably the latter as with Christmas fast approaching boredom is NOT on the agenda! So here's my latest creation:

SUE'S CHEESY CORN BISQUE

4 TBS of butter
½ large red onion diced
½ large red bell pepper diced
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off and
the starch scraped from the cobs
3 TBS of all purpose flour
2 small containers of chicken stock
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese
2 cans whole white corn, drained


1. Melt 2 TBS of butter in soup pot.
2. Add onions and peppers. Add corn and starch scraped from cobs. Salt and Pepper. Cook till tender.
3. Add remaining 2 TBS butter. Add flour and cook several minutes to remove starchy taste from flour. Stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil.
4. Pour in heavy cream then add mixture to blender or food processor until creamy.
5. Return to pot. Add canned corn and cheeses.
6. Stir then taste. Add more salt and pepper to your desired taste.
7. Simmer until ready to serve.

**May add 2cups cubed cooked chicken, shrimp or crab**

Oops! How did HE get in this? (This is my favorite hunky Gerard pic. Talk about beef!! whoohoo!!)



So, I don't know about y'all, but I'm tired of turkey and it's cousin, chicken. So beef has been on my brain. Hey, I write eroticas, as well as sexy romances, so beef is on my brain in more than one way these days, but for today's purpsoes let's talk dinner!

Here's a little recipe I make when I want some romantic time with my hubby! Trust me, this works!!

SEARED BEEF TENDERLOIN MEDALLIONS IN MUSHROOM SAUCE

2-3 Tenderloin Steaks (1 inch thick)
trim fat and cut into medallion sized pieces
salt and pepper
2 Tbs. Butter
½ small onion diced
1 pkg. baby Portabello mushrooms sliced
¼ cup good wine
2 tsp. A-1 sauce
1 small box beef stock
1 pkg. Brown gravy mix

Melt ½ of butter in medium sized pan .
Salt and pepper meat.
Sear medallions on both sides until medium rare.
Remove from pan to platter and cover with foil.
Add remaining butter, onions and mushrooms to pan. Sauté until soft.
Add wine and cook 2-3 minutes.
Add A-1 sauce and broth. Cook 2-3 minutes.
Stir in brown gravy mix, whisk until dissolved.
Return meat to pan and simmer 10 minutes, turning at least once half way through.

I serve with mashed potatoes and some steamed asparagus.



So what's your favorite, get-him-in-the-mood meal? What gets him all hot and bothered? What puts YOU in the mood? Got any good recipes to share?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Passing on Fame

by Jo Robertson
Fame.

It’s such an illusive quality.

Who determines when a person achieves it?

Is notoriety fame? If so, the headlines that screech about Paris and Britney would be blasting the fame of those dubious divas.
This past March Paul Scofield died at the ripe old age of eighty-six. He’s best known for his portrayal of Sir Thomas More, the historical cleric who defied Henry VIII in the classic A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS based on Robert Bolt's play.
Ah, what wonderful lines Scofield had! And Robert Shaw as Henry wasn’t half bad.

My point is that Scofield was offered knighthood as the Brits are wont to do to acknowledge stage and music stars – witness Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir Paul McCartney.

But Scofield turned down knighthood. Wow, not sure I’d be able to resist such an enticement. His comment? “If you want a title, what’s wrong with Mr.?”

Indeed. What’s wrong with Mr.? Or Ms.?

In 1973 Sacheen Littlefeather refused Marlon Brando’s best actor award at the Academy Awards. Brando boycotted the ceremony and refused the award referring to Hollywood’s depiction of Native Americans.

Fame. Not sure I’d have passed up a chance to place an Oscar on my mantle either.

But then, I’m of the generation that collected movie magazines and sent off for signed autographed pictures of said idols. As a teenager, I decorated my walls with those black and white photos.

Fame.

Writers want fame, don't they? Or at least recognition of their writing. What writer doesn’t want to attain NY Times Best Seller status?


So what makes a person famous?

I may feel differently on another day, but right now here’s my list of the four most famous people alive today:

1. Michelle Obama – because she has these amazingly toned arms -- and I like how she bosses the President around sometimes.

2. George Clooney – because he’s the nicest guy in Hollywood – ever!

3. Oprah Winfrey – not only because she owns more shoes than Imelda Marcos, but because she’s likely the most influential woman in the world.

4. Seamus Heaney – one of today’s greatest poets and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for his "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.”


What about you? What do you think makes a person "famous"? Would you ever want international fame? Why?
If you ever became famous, what would you like it to be for?

Who are your top three or four most famous people alive today?
I feel like giving away a gift today -- my "famous" Amazon gift certificate for $10 to the most "interesting" answer. Dr. Big will choose!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Booty!

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by to keep me company today! I have two prizes to give away.

Sea Swept, by Nora Roberts, goes to Dianna.

My extra copy of bandita Jeanne Adams's fabulous Deadly Little Secrets goes to Leni.

Winners should email their snail mail addresses to me via the link at the top of the blog (just under "Bandit News" on the right, where it says "click here to email us") and put "for Nancy" in the subject line of the email. Or you can send the info to romancebandits@gmail.com.

Thanks again to everyone who stopped by.

Other People's Castoffs

by Nancy

"One man's trash is another man's treasure." How often have you heard that? Maybe you know someone--or even are someone--who can go to a yard sale, buy the clunkiest looking bunch of stuff, and turn it into something gorgeous. I suspect such people are related to the ones who actually know what they're doing when they browse the aisles at Michaels.

They're the same people who can go to a flea market or an estate sale, buy a moldy old piece of furniture for a song, and refinish it so that it regains its former beauty. Or buy a fabric remnant and turn it into gorgeous curtains or throw pillows or placemats. Or find something in a consignment shop that not only fits but looks as though it had been made for them.

Some castoffs don't need refurbishing, like the copy of Silver Chief, Dog of the North (picture book edition) I found on the internet and bought because it reminds me of sitting and reading that book with my grandfather. It was someone else's castoff, but it's now my treasure.

Of course things aren't the only castoffs. People and animals also can be. Nora Roberts' Chesapeake Bay Saga is about four castoffs. The heroes of the initial trilogy are three men adopted as abandoned, abused adolescents by a college professor and his wife and molded into a family.

Now their mother is dead, and their father has taken in another abused stray--who may or may not be a blood relative. On his deathbed, he demands that they keep the boy, Seth, and they promise they will. Now these three happily single men with very different goals must remake their lives to provide a suitable home for a troubled, wary boy.

In the story arc of the first three books, they untangle the mystery of Seth's background and, of course, find true love. What starts out as a promise to their father becomes something they want to do for Seth. They come to treasure this boy who so desperately needs a family. (Seth later got his own book, Chesapeake Blue, and dealt with his abusive mother decisively)

Each of our dogs has been someone's castoff, too. As newlyweds, we adopted our first out of an ad in the paper, "Free to good home, 7-year-old golden retriever." We'd thought of going to the pound but realized neither one of us could be happy to come home from there with just one dog, or even just two, but were more likely to end up with a small pack.

This dog's family didn't feel they had time for her since they had a toddler and a newborn. We visited, saw how great she was with the toddler, and figured if they were crazy enough to give her up, we'd take her. She graced our lives for the next nine years and was the boy's much loved companion in his early life.

Anytime he was on the floor as a baby, she was between him and the rest of the room. Walk out of the room with him, and she would heave a mighty sigh, drag her aging bones up, and follow. If he ran a fever as a toddler, he liked to snuggle up against her while he waited for the medicine to bring it down, and they napped together.

Our second dog was a casualty of marriage. His owner's bride didn't feel their small house had room for two goldens, our guy and his mom, so the dogs became yard dogs (never a happy fate for a golden retriever). Then they decided the mom was too old to tolerate the extreme heat outside and brought her in, leaving our big guy outside alone.

He was terrified in thunderstorms, huddling under his doghouse, and bored the rest of the time. So he did what bored goldens do--he escaped. Unfortunately, he also visited a female dog down the street with er, productive results.

So he went up for adoption through a rescue group. Our golden girl had just died, and our house felt horribly empty, as houses do when their resident pets are gone. He quickly settled into our routines and became dh's devoted shadow, my daytime guardian, and the boy's happy playmate.

He was lonely, though, having lived with his mother most of his life, so we got another dog from the rescue group to keep him company when we weren't home. She was a golden retriever/Irish setter mix (we think), a pound rescue who had spent a lot of her time chained in a yard. We had to work on breaking her toilet-drinking habit, but we eventually prevailed.

She was zany while he had the demeanor of an Edwardian gentleman, and they made quite a pair, a true study in contrasts but with sweet, loving hearts.

One of the boy's proudest days in elementary school was when his dad and I walked the dogs up to the school for show and tell and all his classmates adored them. Being retrievers, they reciprocated. The boy's little chest puffed out like a balloon.

Unfortunately, our zany girl died of cancer. We gave her, and received in return, six years of love, but they ended too soon. Not long after that, some friends considered adopting a yellow lab from a teacher who was going back to school and couldn't give the dog the time she needed. Some of you will recognize her picture from earlier blogs.

Our friends decided they couldn't take her because their yard wasn't fenced, but she seemed like she would be a good companion for our lonely, grieving old guy. And she was.

Six months later, she became loving consolation for us when arthritis sent him across the rainbow bridge. She seemed to like being an only dog after he was gone, and so we just had her. This summer, as any of you who saw me the Thursday of National know, she died unexpectedly that morning, after surgery. We were devastated. This time, there was no warm, furry companion to bump up against us and ease the loss. Our house again felt empty and much, much too quiet.

We couldn't understand how anyone could give up such loving, sweet creatures. These dogs were all castoffs but gave us great companionship and joy.

There are, and probably always will be, lots of dogs who need homes. In September, we adopted a golden retriever whose owner had surrendered her to a rescue group. The owner's house had burned down, and she was heartbroken that she had no place she could keep her three beloved goldens. So one of them (along with her stuffed toy) has come to us, and the house doesn't feel so empty anymore.

Yes, we let her on the furniture. The lab had the unfortunate habit when she came to us, and we didn't have the energy to stay on her 24/7 and break her of it, so the precedent was set. With doggie scent on the cushions, merely telling this one to stay off wasn't going to do it, either. So we've become resigned. And have again delayed re-covering the couch.

We're all still getting to know her and vice-versa, but we can tell she's going to be a treasure for us, too. Even if she does have an unfortunate tendency to cruise the kitchen counter and sees trash cans as her toy boxes. *sigh* We're working on that.

Some of you may remember that bandita Donna MacMeans contributed a story to Lori Foster's Tails of Love anthology. All author and agent royalties from the book go to support the Animal Adoption Foundation, a no-kill shelter in Ohio. This seemed like a good book to feature today, considering the theme of this blog. This is a collection of romance novellas featuring animals.

Have you ever taken a castoff and made it a treasure? Ever marveled at how someone else did? Ever tossed something you later wished you hadn't (which is the reason I so rarely toss)? Do you have a favorite story a hero or heroine who was a castoff?

On a different tack, if you hit the Black Friday sales today, what's the coolest thing you found?

I'm giving a copy of Sea Swept to one commenter and a copy of Jeanne Adams's fabulous Deadly Little Secrets, seeing as I happen to have an extra, to one commenter. You have to answer at least one of the questions, though, to qualify.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!

By Kate

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the USA and many of us are looking forward to celebrating the day by cooking, watching football, and eating too much.

Oh, and we also give thanks for that which we've been blessed. ;-)


Now, as some of you may know, I am officially known as the worst cook in the world. No, really. I burn things. All the time. Our smoke alarm gets a real workout whenever I step into the kitchen.

And yet, for my family, I took a chance and cooked several side dishes for the holiday. So what do I have to be thankful for this Thanksgiving?

I didn’t burn anything! Hallelujah!!

Yeah, it was a shock for me, too. :-)

Okay, now let’s talk about what I’m really thankful for this time of year. I’m especially thankful for my dear family and for so many wonderful friends here in the Lair and elsewhere. I’m thankful that I’m able to write books for a living and I’m doubly thankful for all the fabulous readers, booksellers and librarians I’ve met all over the country. Thank you!!

So now, just for fun … here's a snack to enjoy at a holiday party or a small gathering with friends. It’s an old family recipe and so simple to make, even I can do it—without burning anything!

Be careful with these – they’re addictive! They only take 5 minutes to mix, then 20 minutes baking time.

Kate's Crazy Mixed-Up Nuts

¼ cup butter
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp each: seasoned salt, celery salt and garlic powder
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp. each cayenne pepper and pepper
1 c. shelled walnuts
1 cup pecan halves
1 cup whole almonds, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 325 F. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for several minutes for flavors to blend. Stir in nuts and transfer to a shallow baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Makes 3 cups. (Great with cocktails. And they can also be tossed on salads.)

Wishing everyone in the States a very Happy Thanksgiving! And to our friends in other parts of the world, a very Happy Thursday!!

I’m enjoying a cool, sunny day here in Palm Desert, California. Where are you today? How’s the weather? And what are you thankful for today? For sharing with us on Thanksgiving, I’ve got a signed copy of THE LIES THAT BIND and some fun promo goodies for one random commenter!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kieran Kramer Bandit Booty!

posted by Christine Wells

Thank you to Kieran Kramer for a fun day! The winners of Kieran's fabulous prizes are:

Maureen (ARC of Dukes to the Left of me, Princes to the Right)
Helen (ARC of Dukes to the Left of me, Princes to the Right)
Silygoos (Copy of When Harry Met Molly)

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Please email me your address and Kieran will send you these fabulous prizes:
christine @ christine-wells DOT com

Gone With The Print


Please welcome the fabulous Amy Atwell who is sharing her very unique and entertaining perspective on her publication journey! Welcome, Amy!

A huge shout of thanks to all the Bandits for inviting me to blog today. I’ve been on a whirlwind tour celebrating my debut release Lying Eyes from Carina Press.

Today, I want to share my journey to publication and why I think I’m smarter than an iconic fictional heroine.

When I say the name Scarlet O’Hara, what sort of images does it conjure for you?

Spoiled beauty.

Cold-hearted businesswoman.

Hard-working daughter.

Stubborn and blinded by love.

I found Scarlet to be all of those and more when I read the book Gone With The Wind. I shook my head over her tragic flaw: she was so in love with Ashley Wilkes—who didn’t return her affection—that she couldn’t see the potential of a future with Rhett Butler.

Now, I mean, seriously… Ashley over Rhett?

But take a moment and picture Scarlet and Ashley’s world. Plantation owners, families that were household names to one another. Everything was vivid and rich and the future looked, to Scarlet, as if it would follow a predetermined path. Nothing could disturb the life Scarlet pictured for herself. Well…except for a civil war.

Fast forward one hundred fifty years. Leave behind the cotton fields and hoop skirts. Look around instead at the world of publishing.

Like Scarlet, I started my quest for publication with a goal in mind. I wanted to earn the regard of the handsome and wealthy Ashley Wilkes, beloved by all the young debutantes competing against me to win his regard. Yes, in this analogy, Ashley Wilkes represents the big traditional print publishers.

Ten years ago (yes, I’ve been writing toward publication that long…) we didn’t think of print publishing as “traditional.” It was pretty much the only game in town. I remember seeing those digital publishers pop up on the internet—much in the same way Rhett Butler popped up from that sofa when Scarlet all but threw herself at Ashley in the drawing room. But at the time, I didn’t take digital publishing seriously. No, I just had to make those traditional publishers understand how much they loved me!

The first stumbling block I encountered was exactly the snag Scarlet hit: Ashley was already in love with pretty little Melanie. Melanie, who was perfect for Ashley—and indeed, just plain perfect—well, I don’t know about you, but I never could bring myself to hate her. Oh, I wanted to. Just as I’d love to hate the beloved and best selling romance authors who’d attracted the eye of the very publishers I wanted to notice me. Notice me! I’m young and strong and resilient, smart and maybe a bit unconventional. Think of the beautiful future we could have together!

But Ashley stood by Melanie and rejected Scarlet. Oh, I know the sting of that rejection. And there was little I could do except stick as close to the Melanies as I could and try to figure out what they had that I didn’t.

Now, mind you, Rhett Butler continued to appear around Scarlet’s world. Showing flashes of interest in each other, neither was ready to make a firm commitment. As I faced rejections from the traditional print publishers, I studied the growth of digital publishing. I was curious, but not ready to give up my dream. But then, I couldn’t bring myself to throttle or drown Miss Melanie, either.

And then came the civil war. Admittedly, the shake-up we’re experiencing in publishing isn’t as deadly as America’s Civil War. But I do see similarities: an industry split by two very different views of how to bring books to readers, and regardless of who “wins” or “loses,” I think it’s safe to say that the publishing landscape we’ve known for generations will be changing.

This is where Scarlet and I diverge in this analogy. Even while Atlanta burned around her or even when Scarlet agreed to wed Rhett Butler, she was still fixated on Ashley Wilkes. She still clung to the vision of the future she’d held as a debutante, regardless of the harsh reality that the world was changing and, most importantly, that Ashley still didn’t love her.

That’s where I think I’m smart. After writing and submitting a few manuscripts to the big New York publishers, the reality of my situation began to sink in. The print market was getting tighter and harder for a debut author to break into. An author needed to have a story that editors and marketing departments believed they could sell. My stories tended to be big, complex, combining romance with other elements. In short, they were difficult to neatly label.

Meanwhile, publishing continued to transform. Digital publishing numbers increased exponentially while print sales dropped quarter after quarter. Suddenly, Rhett Butler wasn’t lurking down by the warehouses anymore. He was being invited into drawing rooms and attracting the eye of many of the debutantes. Lord have mercy, (fans self) but he was looking good.

I was at a crossroads. I could, like Scarlet, continue blindly on the path I’d been following for years, chasing a static dream even though the publishing world around me was evolving. Or, I could change what I wrote, try to fit more neatly with the unspoken expectations of the New York publishers—in short, try to make myself over more like Melanie to win Ashley.

Or, I could accept the offer of a rather handsome rogue who was quickly gaining recognition in the industry. Carina Press was my Rhett Butler, and I accepted the offer with joy, knowing they loved my unconventional story just the way it was.

This is, of course, the tale of my journey. I don’t share it to convince anyone else to follow my path, your path will be unique. The moral to the story, if any, is to set your writing/publishing goals. Do your best to understand WHY those are your goals. From time to time, review your goals and ask yourself the hard question: is it time to revise the goals?

Best wishes to all on your publishing journey. I’m happy to answer what I can about my experience working with Carina or any other part of my ten-year trek. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Amy Atwell worked in professional theater for 15 years before turning from the stage to the page to write fiction. She now gives her imagination free rein in both contemporary and historical stories that combine adventure and romance with roguish heroes and stubborn (but not too stubborn) heroines. Her debut romantic suspense, Lying Eyes, is available digitally at Carina Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. An Ohio native, Amy has lived all across the country and now resides on a barrier island in Florida with her husband and two Russian Blues. Visit her online at her www.amyatwell.com, What’s The Story? and Magical Musings blogs, Facebook, Twitter and/or GoodReads.


Amy, thanks so much for joining the Bandits today. Your story is inspirational and entertaining! KJ

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bandit Booty!



Thanks to everyone for celebrating the launch of A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS! Congratulations to:




Laurie Faelan




Elizabeth




Pissenlit




You've all won a copy of A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS. Please send your snail mail info to me at: beth@bethandrews.net




Thanks again!

Thankful for...Cancun

by Donna MacMeans

Thanksgiving is a great time to count one's blessings and I can tell you, one of the top items on my list (after health, love and success of family, of course) is ...thank you Cancun!


(Those toes are mine, BTW). This year my husband and I went to Cancun, Mexico to celebrate our 37th anniversary. While the vacation started slow, I think you'll agree it transformed into something out of a romance novel.


When we arrived, it was cold and windy - too cool to comfortably lay out on the beautiful white sand beach, and definitely too cold for the shorts and sleeveless tops in my suitcase. The picture to the left was taken from the balcony of our room, on the day of our anniversary. It's raining hence the lack of people.

My husband and I decided the day would best spent at the spa. We soaked in a jacuzzi with champagne (sorry - no pictures *g*)
and had a couples massage. When we returned to the room, we found the bed decorated to honor the day, and a bouquet of roses and daisies.
Cool, huh? So we went to dinner at an Italian dinner on the resort.
My husband ordered something called Mayan coffee which combines a lot of alcohol, a bit of orange and a little coffee. The waiter put a flame to the alcohol and then poured the concoction from a silver server to a silver server creating an arc of blue flame and fire that flowed like a waterfall until it's combined with the coffee. Amazing. Wish I had thought to take pictures, but I was quite frankly stunned by the process.

Afterward, we went to the disco for a Chippendale show. Much to my shock and amazement, I was pulled from the audience by a hunky Mexican desperado to join him up on stage. My husband took photos with my cell phone. They're a little blurred because he was laughing so hard. That's me in blue. Not the most flattering of photos - but I'm laughing hard as well.


Yes, I'm upon his shoulders. Yes, I ended up flat on the floor. (Aah...the things one must do in the name of research *g*)

The next day, the sun came out and so did everyone in the resort. Now I have to let you in on a secret. It's my secret fantasy to someday discover someone unrelated to me
reading my book at a
beach or at an airport. With the popularity of Kindles, Kobos, and Nooks - this is becoming an increasingly difficult
task. However, I did find two individuals at the resort who had read one of my books before coming to the resort. Even though a couple of weeks have passed since we were in Mexico, I'm still floating on a high from that.

Later in the afternoon, we were invited by some friends to join four couples on a cruise on the resort yacht, "Temptation." Our very own private first mate/cabana boy served drinks and lunch while we were on board. The ladies lounged on the front deck of the yacht as it raced across the Caribbean Sea. I felt like a millionaire (which I most definately am not *g*) - I think we all did. The bathing beauties above are the ladies on board.

As the weather forecast here is for snow flurries on Thanksgiving day, I wanted to leave you with a photo of the populated beach. This was our first foray to Mexico. It won't be our last.

So how about you? Tell me about a memorable vacation or anniversary. Have you been to Mexico? Any other cities/resorts that you could recommend? Any thoughts about being part of the Chippendale show? Any special blessings for which you're grateful that you'd like to share? While cleaning the house in prep for Thanksgiving guests, I discovered a conference tote bag filled with bookmarks and promo material. Now, I've noticed that all candies and pens were removed (grin), but I can replace some of that. If you're interested in receiving a bag of author promo material, let me know and I'll select one person from the comments to receive the goodies.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dum, Dum, Da, Dum

by Anna Sugden

In case you didn't recognise it, that little riff is 'Here Comes the Bride'.

Yes ... you've got it!

You know I couldn't let this week's announcement go without writing about it. Who better? (No, I haven't received my invite yet *g*).

So, unless you've been on another planet, you'll know that the future king of England, Prince William, announced his engagement to the lovely Kate Middleton. You'll have seen the pictures of Princess Diana's engagement ring which Prince William gave his fiancee in a touching gesture.



Speculation has already started about The Dress. The date. The venue. The level of wedding (full state wedding, I suspect). I'm sure tourist operators are already rubbing their hands with glee, as are memorabilia makers.




People have already started discussing previous royal weddings, comparing dresses and talking about where they were at the time.




There is an air of buoyancy - a welcome change after so much doom and gloom.

Which got me thinking.


What is it about royal weddings that lifts our spirits? Why is it different from a celebrity wedding? What makes it special?

Is it the pomp and splendour? Is it a glimpse into a 'fairytale' and 'glamorous' world we can only imagine? Is it the romance of an ordinary girl getting her prince? Is it the ultimate gossip/fly on the wall TV?

And ... which was your first royal wedding? Which was your favourite dress?

Finally ... will you be watching?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When Kieran Kramer Met the Banditas...

posted by Christine Wells

It's my absolute pleasure to introduce Kieran Kramer, who is taking the romance world by storm with her "Impossible Bachelors" series. It's wonderful to have Kieran with us. I'm thrilled to announce that Kieran is offering some very special prizes to our Bandit Buddies today. So get commenting for a chance to win!

1. Kieran, a warm welcome to the bandit lair and congratulations on your debut! Your Regency historical, WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY is out this month, to be followed closely by DUKES TO THE LEFT OF ME, PRINCES TO THE RIGHT. Can you tell us a bit about the books and your inspiration for writing the series?


Hi! I'm so glad to be here! My four-book series, The Impossible Bachelors, is about four super sexy Regency-era bachelors who are convinced they're not destined for the marriage altar. But of course, they're all wrong!

Don't you just love when Cupid's arrow strikes someone who's running away from love? I know I do. It's diabolical of me, perhaps, but I can't help thinking, "YES!" when they realize they can't live without the women who are driving them crazy. :>)

2. You've worked for the CIA and as a freelance journalist, among other things. What drew you to write Regency historicals rather than, say, thrillers or non-fiction?

I like a lot of things. What drew me to the CIA and to working for a newspaper was my sense of adventure. As for my writing life, I find it more exciting to make up stories. I'm into character way more than plot, and thrillers are very plot-heavy for me. And yes, truth is stranger than fiction, but rather than report on real occurrences, I'd rather spin some tall tales!! That's just more fun for me. Of course, everyone's different. Thank goodness we DO have thriller writers and journalists! Let me write my lighthearted fiction stories, and I'll leave them to their sort of writing.

3. We love hearing call stories in the lair! Would you care to tell us yours?

Oh, I love my call story, so I'll be glad to share! I was riding along a narrow country road, heading to jury duty in the small town next to mine, thinking,"Gosh, I'm bored," and yawning and dreading sitting still like a good girl in the court room… when I got a call from my fabulous agent. She proceeded to tell me the series had sold and blahblahblah--I'm sorry. I have NO idea what she said next. All I remember now is that my hands were super sweaty on the wheel of the car, and I was sort of shaking all over, so I told her I had to hang up before I drove off the road into a corn field. And then I threw the cell phone down, drove with TWO hands, and got to the courthouse, where I had to be super quiet and respectful, when I really wanted to shout and dance. And then, when asked my profession, I stood up and told the judge and the lawyers and the jury pool that I was a professional writer. I know I was I grinning from ear to ear! Somehow, I didn't get selected, and I got to drive a whole half hour home and tell my family and neighbors the unbelievable news and went running around on the streets, because I think we should all do that every chance we get--running around on the streets and yelling about how great life is.

4. What are three things you want readers to know about your stories?

a) I want you to laugh and have fun with them.
b) They reflect my honest belief that love is EVERYTHING and that the good guys are always gonna win in the end!
c) They're always about Girl Power, too. I like my heroines to be brave, to be honest, and to put themselves out there--to risk it all!

5. Tell us 5 quirky things that people might not know about you.

Oh, this'll be fun.

1) My favorite breakfast of the year is the morning after Thanksgiving, where I wake up, and before the sleep is even out of my eyes, I cut myself a large piece of pumpkin pie (smothered in Cool Whip) and a slab of pecan pie (I put a dollop of real whipped cream on that) and dig in. Mmm-mmm!

2) I talk to my pets in a sort of weird baby voice that would make you sick if you heard it.

3) I wear the same khaki skort over and over every day in the summer, and I wonder when it's going to wear out from all the washings and when my neighbors are ever going to approach me and ask me why I can't buy a new skort or shorts or skirt or dress or something!

4) I love Raisinettes so much, you'd better hide them if I come to your house.

5) Whenever I'm with people from foreign countries, I start adopting their accent almost immediately. It's so embarrassing!

LOL, I can identify with a couple of those! Thank you so much for being with us today, Kieran! Now, what would you like to ask our readers?

First of all, I want to say I had so much fun answering your questions! Thanks for having me. I'm going to give away TWO ARCs of Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right and ONE final copy of When Harry Met Molly.

And the question I'd like to ask your readers is…(drum roll)…

WHAT HAS MADE YOU LAUGH SO HARD THAT IF YOU WERE DRINKING CHOCOLATE MILK, IT WOULD HAVE COME OUT YOUR NOSE? OR MAYBE DID?

I'll start: It happened when my dad tried to lower my brother via a pulley rope slung around a giant tree branch onto the back of a stubborn mule named Jack who wouldn't let anyone NEAR him! (is my family weird, or what?) Jack won. Brother lost. Jack, who was eating a strategically placed pile of delicious mule treats beneath the tree branch, bucked and kicked as soon as my brother got close to straddling him and then ran as fast as his hooves could carry him away from those rude humans!