Archive for March, 2010

It’s April 1 (almost)
by Sharon Ashwood on March 31st, 2010

My human is out of service. I am her cat, also known as the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness. I have no idea why she calls me that. Not one.


Today, I am blogging on her behalf, which means typing on the silly black box on her desk. I wasn’t very happy about it until I figured out that there are other things this black box does, too. I went to eBay and bought 5,000 pounds of fresh mackerel on my human’s credit card account. I hope she doesn’t mind. The fish should be lovely and smelly by the time it’s delivered—just right.

But I’m supposed to talk about her writing. What do I know about that? She comes home, throws food in a bowl for me, and sits at the black box. And sits. And sits. Sometimes she makes faces at the screen, or laughs hysterically. That’s really disturbing to watch.

Human plots are stupid.

“He’s a hero,” I say. “Make him pounce on something. He’s probably hungry by now.”

Instead, she makes her hero strut around in tight leather. No pouncing there, unless he does himself an injury. Like, get a fur suit. It’s comfortable and looks good in all seasons.

If that’s not bad enough, half the book is talk. No wonder it takes 400 pages to tell a story. It would be two sentences if a cat wrote it. Whack the villain on the head; jump on the girl. What’s left to do? They talk about beastly Alpha males, but a real beast would have the whole business wrapped up by the end of the prologue: Whack. Girl. Fish dinner. The end.

I guess that’s why cats aren’t writers.

The human will be back soon.

by Annette McCleave on March 30th, 2010

I’m pleased to announce that the title of my third book will be . . .

Saran-Wrapped in Darkness.

And I can go one better—I can already share the cover. Squee! This is one of the best covers ever, if you ask me. Smokin’ hot, and yet subtle and artistic. The model (who I never got to meet, sigh) has abs of steel. Not an ounce of spare flesh on the guy. I heard the cover shoot had to be done on a closed set. When you think about the title, I guess that makes sense, but I sure wish I could have been there. Sadly, authors don’t get out much. We stay at home and write.

But, I digress.

Without further ado, here’s the cover:


I don’t know about you, but this really works for me. The dark color is consistent with the dark undertones of the book. Black is totally apocalyptic, and although I’m reluctant to give spoilers this far ahead of the release, I will say that’s appropriate.

Okay, yeah. You really have to squint to even see a suggestion of the Saran-Wrapped hero, whose name is Ridge Alloway, btw. But don’t worry, I saw the pre-edit of the model shot, and believe me, he’s ALL there. My editor says they intend to do some strategic embossing, so the final cover will be to die for. :-) Frankly, I’m happy enough with the un-embossed version. It’s in keeping with an urban fantasy novel to focus more on the setting and less on the hero. And this story takes place entirely in an abyss, so the cover stays true to what the reader will find inside. Besides, all that black really makes my name stand out. Grin.

I can’t wait for this book to hit the shelves. What about you?

Giving up chocolate for Lent
by Jessa Slade on March 29th, 2010

Currently working on: Freedom from cocoa tyranny
Mood: Libre!

So I’m giving up chocolate for Lent.  As I’ve mentioned on this blog once or twice before, I’m addicted to buckets of double chocolate cookie dough. 


Eight pounds of cookie dough every month was starting to seem a little… excessive, which is not to say OBSESSIVE.  And, really, what better time of year to give up chocolate than the Easter season?


I mean, I have a perfectly fine imagination on my own.  It’s not like romance writers NEED chocolate to be inspired.


There are lots of ways to say “I love you” that don’t include theobromine.


Sure, Godiva has furnite made of chocolate.  But I didn’t make that bed, so I won’t lie in it.  Even if it would be awfully convenient from a snacking standpoint.


Think of all the time I’ll save not mixing up incredibly difficult desserts that are huge hits at picnics like the following:

  • Cheap box of brownie mix (recommend Duncan Hines family size prepared to “fudgy” directions in 13×9 pan)
  • Minty middle: Beat together 3 Tbl soft butter, 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar, 1/2 tsp pure mint extract, 2 Tbl milk
  • Chocolate top: 2 Tbl butter & 3/4 cup decent chocolate (recommend Trader Joe’s 1 pound bittersweet block — did I mention that buying chocolate by the pound is probably an indication of a problem?)

Nope, instead, I can sleep well knowing I’ve beaten my chocolate addiction.  Maybe it’ll be a bed of chocolate.  Yum….



Brain exertion
by KimLenox on March 28th, 2010

STATUS: Turned in new proposal to agent. Yippee!
MOOD: Hopeful

My kiddo had a birthday this weekend, and so we went to see HOW TO FEED YOUR DRAGON. I don’t usually love kids’ movies, but this one was fantastic - I highly recommend it, even if you don’t have kids!

So this week our “theme” is to ask you, Dear Reader, a question we’d like you to answer.

Most romance writers, and many authors who don’t even write romance, belong to Romance Writers of America. It’s a great organization with great leadership and participation, and lots of resources and benefits for its members. They also put on the RITA and GOLDEN HEART CONTESTS. This week the finalists were announced. We’ll learn who the winners are at our annual conference in Nashville in July. Congratulations to all the finalists!

If you have a moment, look over the list and see if any of your favorite authors are there! You’ll see that the names and titles represent many different types of writing, even within the more specific sub categories.

My question to you as readers would be: What do you prefer - an easy comfort read? or a complex, make-you-think read? And as an added or alternate question, what’s your put-down-the-book button? The thing you read on a book blurb or see on a cover or in the pages of a book that makes you put a book down and not pick it back up again?

Nerds that rock (and fight, fly, investigate, and do other very cool things)
by Sharon Ashwood on March 25th, 2010

Mayan lore and modern science warn that 12/21/2012 could bring a global cataclysm … a threat that is far more real than we imagine. Dark forces stand poised to overrun the earth and crush humanity beneath a vicious rule of terror and blood sacrifice. Our only hope rests with a group of saviors living in secret among us: modern magic-wielding warriors called the Nightkeepers.

Now, in the last few years before the 2012 doomsday, these magi must find and win their destined mates in order to protect the barrier of psi energy that forms humanity’s last line of defense against an ancient and powerful enemy.


Hi all!

(Waves to Sharon, Jessa and the gang.) Thanks for joining me today as I start getting the word out about my new release, Demonkeepers!

This book is particularly close to my heart because at its core, it’s the story of a pair of nerds coming into themselves and realizing that they’re really only limited by their own self images. Since I’m a nerd with occasional delusions of coolness, Jade and Lucius’s story really speaks to me.

Lucius has been one of my two favorite characters to write throughout the series—he’s an expert in Mayan hieroglyphics, regularly gets himself into academic trouble for believing in the Nightkeepers and the 2012 doomsday, and wants to be somebody’s hero.

pyramidIt was a real pleasure to finally get to his book—Especially since I was pretty hard on the guy in the first three books, what with the whole possessed-by-a-Mayan-demon thing and his habit of doing Very Bad Things whilst under the demon’s influence.

Jade, too, has been locked into librarian mode. Even though she’s a Nightkeeper by birth, and has some magical skills, she’s a member of a non-warrior bloodline and to her disgust is most useful playing support staff to the other magi.

Read an excerpt here at

Book ‘em
by Sharon Ashwood on March 24th, 2010

First of all, congratulations to Doreen R, who was the winner of a copy of SCORCHED, last week’s prize for commenting! Check out Jessa’s Monday post for her fabulous hot-off-the-press (and hot on the cover!) giveaway.

This week’s topic is “what one question would we want to ask readers.” I pondered this at some length. I have a lot of questions (about everything), but none seemed particularly bloggable. And then I landed on this head-scratcher:

One of the truisms of the romance writing community is “don’t write romance if you aren’t a fan of the genre, because Readers Will Know.”

The statement brings to mind a small, cramped room with a metal chair and an overhead spotlight. The room is hot, and the captive author is handcuffed to a table, which is in turn bolted to the floor. There’s a one-way mirror. A disembodied voice booms through a hidden speaker: “Are you, or have you ever been in possession of a book with an unhappy ending?”

And the only way the poor author can escape is by naming Nora Robert’s backlist in chronological order.


Yes, I’m a strange person.

Paranoid fantasies aside, it’s an interesting issue. I can’t imagine writing ANY genre unless you absolutely loved, loved, loved it. Writing a book is A LOT OF WORK. Writing one means living in that milieu 24/7 for a long, long time. If I went in with anything less than a burning passion to create my romance, I’d never make it past chapter three.

In other words, I think the effort involved would be a fairly effective gatekeeper against folks who really weren’t romance fans. The next barrier would be the fact that writing romance (or anything, for that matter) sucks as a get-rich-quick scheme. However, if the warning against masquerading as a romantic is to be believed, imposters do slip through the cracks.

Okay, readers, here’s my burning question: when you pick up a book that has been sold as a romance, how do you know if the author didn’t actually like what they were writing? In your opinion, what would be the telltale signs?

On the Lighter Side of Wallets
by Annette McCleave on March 23rd, 2010

Sorry to be posting so late. I’m deep in the final days of finishing off a manuscript and when I’m writing I lose all track of time.

The other day, I went to the bookstore and parted with forty-one dollars to buy a handful of mass market paperbacks. As I handed the cashier my money, I felt a momentary twinge of guilt. This reading habit of mine keeps getting more and more expensive. Forty bucks is a fair chunk of change. But then I thought about the last time I went to see a movie at the theater. Thirteen dollars for the ticket, another ten for the drink and popcorn (I CANNOT go to the movies without buying popcorn, even if I’ve just had dinner). That’s twenty-six dollars for two hours of entertainment.

The books I bought will keep me contented for at least six times that amount of time. And I get the added value of using my brain.

If I go to a hockey game (Go Sens!), it costs me $42 to sit in the nosebleed section up near the roof. And that’s without food. If I go to a concert, I can double that price at a minimum.

Hardcover books aside, aren’t books a great value? What do you think? If you mostly pick up your books at the library, what motivates to actually lay down the cash for a book?

Cover lovin’
by Jessa Slade on March 22nd, 2010

Currently working on: Organizing a writing challenge for my Romance Writers of America chapter
Mood: Inspiring

Writing can be a lonely endeavor.  The stereotypical writer (okay, ME) spends a lot of time at her keyboard, mumbling to herself.  On rare occasions, she is booted — blinking mustily — into the sun to confront other people.  People like… readers.  Oh noes!  What to say?!  (This is especially terrifying to some writers — okay, ME — who will be attending in the next four months three booksignings, two conventions and a conference where there will be LOTS of readers to talk to — yikes!)

So we decided (barricaded safely behind the interwebz) that this week’s topic is “Questions we’d like to ask readers.”

And my question is “Does Liam have a great butt, or what?”


This is my second cover for the second book in The Marked Souls series.  And it was every bit as nail-gnawing exciting as waiting for the first cover.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, with the Marked Souls caught in the middle, but the new girl doesn’t play by old rules…


Liam Niall never meant to be a leader.  Barely surviving the horrors of the Irish Potato Famine with body and soul intact, he escaped to Chicago…where he lost half his soul and gained a wayward band of demon-possessed warriors.  Now, as the talyan face a morphing evil, Liam grows weary and plagued by doubt.


Then a new weapon falls into his hands.  Her name is Jilly Chan.  To save his talyan and her demon-ridden soul, Liam must win her to his battle and his bed. 


Waging a one-woman war against the threats to the street kids she mentors, Jilly stands her ground against danger in all its guises.  She won’t be any man’s woman…or weapon.  But Liam—with his hard eyes, soft brogue and compelling hands—is a danger to her rebellious independence…and her heart.


These two halved souls sharing one fierce passion will sear a fresh scar across the city.  Who’s in danger now?

Book 1 had Archer’s chest.  Book 2 has Liam’s butt.  My goodness, what will Book 3 show? ;)

That was a rhetorical question.  My real question to readers was going to be something along the lines of “How important is a great butt cover when you decide whether to pick up a book?”  But I decided that’s a dumb question (and yes, there are dumb questions) because OF COURSE a great cover is important.  Maybe not the deciding factor, but a beautiful, intriguing or shocking cover can inspire the hand to reach for it.

And most writers have zero control over the cover.  Actually, there’s a lot that the writer doesn’t have control over, like — for a completely random, not-desperately-whorish-at-all example, ahem – the importance of preording FORGED OF SHADOWS at major bookstores…


But I do have some alleged, nominal control over me, myself and I.  And I since I will have to inspire readers IN PERSON (did I mention terrifying?) my question to readers is this: 

“What do you want from authors in real life?  What makes a great author/reader interaction?”

Besides chocolate, I mean.

To sweeten the pot in a non-caloric way, I have a signed ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of FORGED OF SHADOWS to give away.  It comes with a Pepto-pink cover similar to this font color, not Liam’s handsome butt, sorry.  Comment on any post this week for a chance to win.  Heck, comment on EVERY post this week for more chances!

And finally, a parting shot…


Me, but better
by KimLenox on March 21st, 2010

I’ve never really lived in a place where we have a real winter. I can see why people who live in the Great White North or even the Sort-of Great White North would go crazy over the first signs of spring. Here in the South, we’ve seen some snow this winter, and it’s actually very chilly and windy at my place today, but beautiful and sunny. Flowers are starting to pop! But we do enjoy balmier weather all year round.

I don’t usually diet when spring comes around, but I do get myself back on the health wagon. One reason is because I know the sure terror of bathing suit weather is just around the corner. By May we’ll be visiting the beach and yes, I’ll be blighting eyeballs, young and old. It’s a horrible thought, but that’s why I’m starting now!

Here is my frienemy, Treadmill.

If you look closely, you can see the fine layer of dust all over him. Time to get my walking groove on. I do feel more clear of mind and creative when I exercise regularly and eat more healthfully. One cannot live on chips and salsa alone. Or that’s what I tell myself.

Spring is also time to get out of the house and the normal routine and do something new! I just returned last night from New Orleans. I have been there before, but not since I was a teenager.

Thank you New Orleans! I had a fantastic time. Great food, great music, great things to see. I loved riding the street car all over and seeing the city and houses of the Garden District. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can swing buying Anne Rice’s old house, which is currently on the market. I’m also determined to make some gumbo. Not just gumbo, but fantastic, awe-inspiring gumbo. Give me time. I will conquer and cook it as well as a local.

Do you plan to go on any trips soon, readers, or will you be doing all of your upcoming travel by reading books?

by Sharon Ashwood on March 20th, 2010

Enjoying the posts? Comment on our blog this week or next (and don’t forget our fabulous guests, Addison Fox or Sherrill Quinn!) and you’re entered to win an autographed copy of SCORCHED.

Please reply on one of the individual posts!