Aphrodisia Authors

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm at Conference

By the time this post goes up, I'll be at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference.

This year will be a lot different for me than last year. In my very first post on this blog, I talked about how I sold to Kensington Aphrodisia while at conference last year. It was exciting and scary to be the total newbie on the block.



I mean, at the time, I didn't have an agent, had no idea what I was doing, and spent the entire conference running around like a chicken with its head cut off. It was, in a word, in-freaking-sane.

I thought this year would be mellow. Relaxing. Easy-peasy compared to last. Since I wrote this before I left for conference, I'll have to check back in to tell you if I was wrong or not, but looking over my schedule, I'm thinking this is not going to be a relaxing conference.

On Thursday alone, I have--count 'em--five parties or meetings to go to. Chapter meetings, agent meetings, publisher parties, agency parties. It's pretty crazy. Friday morning, I'm holding my critique partner's hand before she pitches, Friday night is another publisher party, Saturday is just...packed solid again.

It's good because it means I've had a successful year--I have places to go and people to see (who would ave ever imagined that? Not me!). It's bad because I'm still doing the headless chicken routine.

Wish me luck!



~Crystal Jordan
http://www.crystaljordan.com

"In Ice" SEXY BEAST V - Aug 08
CARNAL DESIRES - Nov 08

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Posted by Crystal Jordan :: 12:20 AM :: 4 comments

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Is Erotic Romance here to stay?

Hi everyone!

Erotic romance is relatively new. It’s hot, just like chick lit was before it. Is it just a fad? Will it go the way of chick lit? Will there be a slump in readership? Will the economy be a factor in beheading it?

When chick lit became hot, publishers wanted it. Readers wanted it. More authors began writing it. There was an understandable rush to catch the wave. A lot of great chick lit was written, but there was also “me, too” chick lit and “not that great” chick lit. There was a glut. Sales slumped.

Is that going to happen to erotic romance? Maybe. I know I’ll never stop reading it, but I’m being more selective now that there are so many choices. I’m always looking for 3 things if I’m going to buy: great non-boring sex, believable romance and sexual tension between a believable hero and heroine, and an intriguing storyline. (And setting and character development and an overarching storyline… the list goes on.)

At my first RWA national convention last year, a NYT best-selling author said she thinks erotic romance will stick around as a sub-genre of the romance category. I agree. Chick lit did not go away. The great and the good chick lit novels are still being published and read. I think the same will be true of erotic romance.

What 3 things top your list of “gotta be in the book” before you’ll take an erotic romance home with you?

Elizabeth Amber
LYON, THE LORDS OF SATYR (August 2008!)
www.elizabethamber.com/excerptLyon.html

Posted by Elizabeth Amber :: 1:02 PM :: 6 comments

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cinderella should've worn flats

So I'm heading out to San Francisco in less than 48 hours. I'm so excited. I'm going to this great, big, massive romance writers conference. Where everywhere you look there're women. Some decked out to the hilt. Manicures, pedicures, trendy clothes and shoes (jeez, you'd think I was typing up an add for single men!) And count me in as one of them. Oh, except for that shoes part.

No I didn't type that wrong. I'm not a shoe gal. Or at least I should say, I don't do the killer heels. Last year I gave it up. I said, "I surrender, you win!" to my feet that threatened to go on strike. And I know that's half the fun and nature of the beast. All the women will check out each others outfits, handbags and--of course--the shoes.

So, yeah, I gave them up last year, but I have to confess: I was never one of the girls who would be strolling down the sreet--pause in front of the designer shoe store and have a heel induced orgasm over something like this blue thing. Though I will admit that while browsing online for an image of a fashionable shoe this did have me saying oh I likey!--I'd just never wear it! I mean I'd like to try out an entire football team in the bedroom too, but some things just work better in your head. I mean, seriously, look at that pic and tell me that wouldn't kill your feet.

Since I don't want to show up at these conferences with the most comfortable and undoubtably fugly shoes ever, I've found a happy medium. I do comfy (yet cute!) flats and such. Though I am braving a couple pairs of 'comfy' heels so to speak.

Is anyone else in my boat? Being done with the sexy shoes (IMHO they have their place and it's called the bedroom--and at least there you're not on your feet!)

Or are you one of those die hard my-feet-will-look-sexy-come-hell-or-Plantar Fasciitis gals?

Shelli :)

http://www.shellistevens.com

Posted by Shelli Stevens :: 12:00 AM :: 34 comments

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Writing: From Experience or Fantasy?

Since this is my first post, I suppose I ought to begin by introducing myself. I'm Jackie Barbosa, and Kensington will be releasing my single author anthology (currently titled BEHIND THE RED DOOR, but we'll see if that sticks) in the summer of 2009. I have a few ebooks out with Cobblestone Press and a couple more coming out later this year, but my Aphrodisia release is my first sale to be "big" New York print publisher, and I couldn't be more thrilled (or daunted, lol) by the opportunity.

So, since my debut is being published in the Aphrodisia line, I probably don't have to tell you that my book contains numerous explicit sex scenes. I love writing these scenes of intimacy, discovery, and, most especially, vulnerability and consider them an essential element of a good love story, but I do sometimes wonder what readers think about the sex lives of the writers who craft such scenes. How much of what we write do they attribute to experience and how much to fantasy?

Of course, it would be crossing well beyond the boundaries of TMI for me to actually tell you my personal answer to that question. You don't really want to know about my sex life, and I don't have any intention of actually telling you. But as I was chatting the other day with my friend and critique partner, Emma Petersen, the subject of a particular sexual variation that I've included in more than one story came up, and I had to admit that it's something I don't care for in real life.

That led me to ask myself why I enjoy writing about this particular activity (and I do!) when I don't enjoy doing it? The answer, I think, what draws me to writing about sex (and, honestly, nearly everything else that goes into a story) is the opportunity to experience things I either can't or won't do in real life. Whether it's engaging in a threesome or attending a Regency era ball or committing a murder, what makes writing fun for me is also what makes reading fun: the fantasy that we are living someone else's life. And when it comes to sex, I find that the less likely I am to experience something myself, the more likely I am to find it thrilling to read or write about.

What about you? Do your tastes in reading/writing fall more toward experience or fantasy? Or is that just TMI?

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Posted by Jackie Barbosa :: 5:00 AM :: 7 comments

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Too much to do!



The RWA conference in San Francisco is approaching and normally I'm fretting about getting all my stuff together for that. But this year, its in my own back yard, so to speak, so I don't have to worry about working out how to pack too many things in one easy-to-manage bag. If the worst happens and I need something desperately I can always hop on the BART and be home in an hour or so!

It's also a good thing because I have a book to finish for Aphrodisia-the third in the series which will be called SIMPLY SHAMELESS. (May 09) It's slightly different for me because the main character is definitely the heroine rather than one of the dark angst-ridden Regency Rakes I usually write about. (Okay there is an angst-ridden hero but its definitely the heroine's story.) Madame Helene Delornay has been in the other books and I've been dying to explore her past and present, so it was great to get the opportunity!

The only problem is that this book is due in less than a month with the RWA conference smack bang in the middle of that time period. In a fit of madness, I decided it would be best to finish the book by the end of July and then have the time after the conference to revise it for the last and final time. What was I thinking? So I've had to give up my normal rush around looking for clothes and the ultimate diet to lose those ten pounds and focus on the book.

I'm beginning to think that it might be a good thing. Usually I get so caught up in the preparations that I almost forget to enjoy myself at the conference. This year I have no choice. I'll just have to turn up, wearing last years clothes, a big smile and hopefully, I'll also have a finished book :)

So does anyone else drive themselves into a tizzy getting ready for the conference? Ot is it just me?

Don't forget the literacy signing is open to everyone, so come to the Marriott in San Francisco on Wednesday July 30th 5:30-7:30 and meet all your favorite Aphrodisia authors!

Posted by Kate Pearce :: 12:43 PM :: 4 comments

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Paths Taken


Yesterday was my youngest son's birthday, but that's not why my thoughts are going in the

direction they are today. He's an adult, a teacher, the father of the world's most awesome grandson, in short a man I'm incredibly proud of. He's also the most independent cuss I've ever known. He truly does his own thing.

As an example of his independence and self-confidence, he decided to celebrate his birthday by climbing an area mountain. This on top of participating in a race the day before. (You don't want to see the blisters on his heels) He's climbed this mountain before so is familiar with the terrain. What he wanted was the physical challenge and the chance to spend time close to nature--something that resonates with the whole family. We finished the day by all of us going out to dinner so his day's adventure was sharp in his mind, and because he's articulate, I have clear images of what he saw while alone on the backside of that peak.

One day this spring a fierce windstorm hit the mountains. As a consequence, the opening of some area campgrounds have been delayed as cleanup of tree blowdowns takes place. What those of us down in civilization didn't know was the devistation that had taken place on that mountain. As Ryan explained, his eyes wide and somber, a half-mile wide swatch of old growth pine trees had been leveled. Literally thousands of massive trees were twisted in all directions, piled on top of each other. Nature's strength at its most impressive. My son, who works summers firefighting and recently returned from two weeks in California, understands the danger inherent in those blowdowns. As he explained, salvaging the timber may be more trouble than its worth. Not only is the area inaccessible to machinery, the trees are piled on top of each other, pinned in places, pinning other trees at the same time. Cutting through one tree can result in a massive and deadly shifting of weight throughout the pile.

My point here: I sit here in my office describing what my son experienced. He goes out and embraces the wilderness, often taking his son with him. In contrast, Grandma relies on her imagination, safe in her calm environment. My imagination is one of my greatest joys. I love mentally and emotionally placing myself in uncounted situations. In my mind I take canoes down raging rivers, fight forest fires, hunt buffalo (as I did when I was writing historicals) and have the kind of sex I can only lust after. But those grand adventures and experiences and people exist only in my mind while my son climbs onto a felled giant of a tree and looks out at a half-mile swath example of a force beyond our comprehension.

I love the path I've taken in life but oh do I envy him.

Vonna

www.VonnaHarper.com


Posted by Vonna Harper :: 10:56 AM :: 2 comments

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where do babies come from?

No, not those babies but the other babies we love: our manuscripts. Where do those babies come from? How are they born? Blood, sweat, and tears--just like the other ones. But the conception takes place in many ways.

My female motocross driver heroine phase started by attending a motocross event with a boyfriend. I couldn’t think of anything more lame than watching motorcycles going round in circles. I was wrong. I had a blast and several stories were born.

An Ann Rule true crime book started my romantic suspense phase. Her depth of research and the twists and turns fascinated me and inspired many tales of love amid a riveting mystery.

A computer game, Gabriel Knight the Beast Within, set me on the road to writing novels set during the German medieval period because part of the game was set in Bavaria. Also, there was this delicious Baron von Glower (played by Peter Lucas) who just set my hormones and my writer instincts on fire.

My futuristic/fantasy phase started a long time ago with Larry Niven’s novel Ringworld, then got stronger with Susan Grant’s novel Contact, but then really got going with Joss Whedon’s Firefly. I developed a whole social structure, new planets, and new technologies. I’m still working on several novels for that particular series since the possibilities are endless.

I always wonder what will inspire me next but whatever it is I’ll happily go along for the ride. So what are the novels, movies, or television shows that have inspired an entire shift in what you write? Or have you always felt comfortable in your chosen niche with no desire to explore?

Anitra Lynn McLeod

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Posted by Anitra Lynn McLeod :: 6:00 AM :: 2 comments

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

When is Sex Just Sex, and When Is It Porn?

Here’s a bit of good news for those of us who like to read the steamy stuff.

Did you know that Indiana passed a law (which was to take effect July 1, 2008) requiring sellers of “sexually explicit materials” to register with the secretary of state, pay a $250 fee, and provide details about the material they were selling? Hmm, can anyone say “censorship”?

Yes! On July 1 a U.S. District Judge (Sarah Evans Barker, bless her heart) struck down the law. Several bookstores, the Museum of Art, and the Indiana ACLU challenged the law in court, and they won.

The now-defunct law was supposedly targeted toward businesses that specialized in pornography (you know, that’s the stuff that no-one can define but you’ll supposedly recognize when you see it). However, the wording of the law was so general that it would arguably have included countless works of art as well as many romance novels – and no doubt every single title published in our Aphrodisia line.

For more information, check out stories in IndyStar.com (http://tinyurl.com/4nvage) and Publishers Weekly (http://tinyurl.com/5747tu).

The State is reportedly still trying to find a way to deal with “pornographic businesses.”

In this day and age, when so many romance novels (even ones in traditional lines) are sizzling hot, where heroines and heroes are having sex with vampires and werewolves, where ménages have expanded from trois to quatre and show no signs of stopping, where masturbation, sex toys, anal sex, nipple clamps, and bondage are increasingly the norm, where women are writing and reading male-male sex, I have to ask, What on earth is pornography, and what’s a pornographic business? Does the concept of “porn” have meaning any more?

Is there some kind of line that should be drawn somewhere? And if so, how?

I do notice that most publishers of erotica and erotic romance have drawn their own lines. Such as, no sex with a minor – even if it would be historically correct (like in the days when most girls were married by the time they reached the age of majority), and even if it’s perfectly acceptable in young adult fiction. Then there’s the issue of sex with shapeshifters. I’ve heard some people say, it’s fine as long as the shifter is in human form. Others say, a shapeshifter romance is kind of like Beauty and the Beast: the human has to accept “the beast” in beast form, which means making love with him/her in that form.

Is this complicated or what? Quite honestly, I don’t know what to think. The idea of kiddie porn appals me. But so does the slippery slope of censorship. What’s the solution? How do we protect the innocent but still honor freedom of expression?

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Posted by Susan Lyons :: 9:35 AM :: 9 comments

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Silky...

Hi everyone,
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I always have good intentions, but with two little kids and deadlines, months just go by in the blink of an eye. I’m sure everyone has that problem.
First off, I want to give a Contest Alert:
This month I’m doing a cross contest with fellow Aphrodisia author Elizabeth Amber, who writes the sexy, historical paranormal Lords of Satyr series.
For details, check the contest page at my site http://www.sharonpage.com/contest.htm for a chance to win a copy of Elizabeth’s latest book, LYON, THE LORDS OF SATYR.
And for a chance to win my latest, BLACK SILK, check out Elizabeth’s newsletter group http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ElizabethAmber

I’m also thrilled to announce that Blood Red and Blood Rose, my erotic vampire menage stories, are finalists for seven contests, which has been very exciting. Currently, I’m working on Blood Deep, the third book in the series. In this one, my heroes are the villains from the first two stories, so I’m exploring the question—Can the darkest vampires be redeemed by love?

My book currently on the shelves is Black Silk, and I’ve included an excerpt below. Enjoy!

Maryanne watched her raven-haired Lancelot elegantly climb into the basket. Of course, he could do it easily—he had endless legs and wore trousers. Just as she stared helplessly at it, he scooped her effortlessly into his arms. In a froth of hems and petticoats, she was hoisted over the wicker wall and into the basket. As her feet touched the floor of the basket, it came up to meet her. "Ooh!"

The flame illuminated the sculpted planes of his face, his wicked grin as the balloon went up. The basket tilted to the right. She clutched the side. "Goodness."

Swansborough laughed. "But as you each take on orgasmic flight, you must remember to hold on tight," he quoted. He wrapped a hand around the stays that secured their small basket to the enormous balloon and kept the other near the fire box and the ropes that worked the vents.

Below, illuminated by the torches, she saw the men gripping the tether ropes, feeding them through gloved hands.

A lurch to the left, and she tumbled back against his lordship. His large body pressed against her, his arm locked around her waist, and she felt safe—though if the basket tipped, they’d both fall. Why should the thought of falling to their deaths together, sharing disaster, make her feel better?

"Magnificent, isn’t it?"

With her hands gripping the basket, she stared down.

Far below, the torches looked like tiny candle flames, and she could no longer see the men. Men who thought she was going to rut with a viscount here. Men who thought her a courtesan.
Don’t think of that.

The Serpentine caught the moonlight, water rippling in the sweet breeze. Dark trees bobbed and swayed, the leaves silver, and the park was a stretch of dark velvet.

She gazed up. Stars dotted the violet skies above the park. And London’s lights were spread out before her. "It’s beautiful." The basket swayed. "And terrifying."

Excerpt from Black Silk © Sharon Page

Posted by Sharon Page :: 9:43 PM :: 5 comments

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Double Dipping

Yeah, I know by the title it sounds like this should be a really interesting blog. Sadly, it is not so interesting. I am simply double dipping with this blog post. I somehow managed to forget that it was my day to blog not only here with the Aphrodisia ladies, but also at The Bradford Bunch, so if you happen to read both and they sound rather similar... it could be your imagination. Or me being lazy because it's now so late on Friday afternoon my brain has turned to mush.

Given the mushy state of my mind and no strapping or virile topic popping right out at me (funny both topics and men fit those words, eh?), how about an update on the happenings in my writing life?


First off, this week brought a new contract from Kensington. Nothing too huge, but I will be writing a novella for the next firefighter anthology. I love the Club Fantasy anthologies out of Aphrodisia, so very excited to be in one! I don’t know my second anth mate yet, but my first one is Susan Lyons, whose work I adore. I also don’t know a publication date, but I am guessing either late summer or early winter of 09.


Second, well I guess that is really all the new contract news. I am finally back on the writing horse, though, and am wrapping up a Spice Brief to send to my editor at Spice. I have been trying to think of a short, hot, fun idea for Brief and finally it came to me. Here’s hoping my editor loves it as much as I do!! Next up, is finishing a paranormal single title proposal for my agent, the wonderful Laura Bradford, to shop around and then, if I have time before I start the firefighter novella, I owe a friend a short story for a smaller press.


Third--and no this doesn't really pertain to me, but close enough--I had the pleasure of interviewing the awesomely talented Devyn Quinn earlier this week. Check out that post tomorrow at The Bradford Bunch.


Lastly, want to win a signed copy of Sweet and Sinful? Tell me either what you've been up to lately OR if you think Sweet and Sinful's cover is hot or cheesy (I am still up in the air on that one), and I will select a winner at random from all those who respond.


Wishing a relaxing and sunny weekend to all! :)

~ jodi



Posted by Jodi Lynn Copeland :: 5:15 PM :: 15 comments

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Addictions


After Melissa MacNeal posted her blog here yesterday about caffeine and sugar, I started to think about my own addictions. Here's my secret vice, the one I wish I could kick. I love reading romance blogs. SmartBitches and DearAuthor kick off my day, and I generally look at them two or three times during the day. And I hate myself for it.

Yesterday Sarah at Smartbitches wrote a short piece pleading with authors to not use tortured children as cheap ploys in romance books. Yesterday Jia at DearAuthor hammered Marjorie Liu for choppy prose at the beginning of her new book, the IRON HUNT.

I hate reading these things as an author. Not that I want to use tortured children in my books, but I have used children. (Gage in Moonshadow saved a street urchin from orcs, for instance.) Not that I want to use choppy prose, but Jia stated that Liu might have been aiming for something artistic.

The next time I'm considering artistic in a novel, I might think twice. In fact, I can promise I'll think twice. And the next time I have a kid in a book I'll think twice. And that's just from reading yesterday's blog! If I go back through the years I've been reading these blogs, the list of things I should avoid as an author grows like the ants in my kitchen. And like the ants, it doesn't stop. A quick scan of this morning's DearAuthor tells me there are 10 things authors shouldn't do at Amazon. I don't want to read it. I sincerely hope they're 10 things I don't already do at Amazon. (I suspect that the advice will be 10 ways not to abuse your readers, which means I'm safe.)

But I will read SmartBitches and DearAuthor two or three times today and tomorrow and the next day. I can't help myself. That's the mad genius of these sites. It's like the mad genius or Red Bull and real coffee with real cream and real sugar, and breaking the addiction is just as hard. Sometimes it hurts, but the sweet parts are oh so sweet. Like did you see the contest to win a copy of Ann Aguirre's WANDERLUST at SmartBitches? Can you say madgenius? And did you see that review of VICTORY OF EAGLES over at DearAuthor? I'd never have picked that book up, but I will now. It sounds fantastic. Congrats Naomi Novik.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that SmartBitches or DearAuthor change anything about what they do. In shrink speak, I know this is my issue and not theirs. I'll simply keep reading the sites and making mental notes of what not to do and what not to write... and then try to forget them when I sit down to work on my next book. Bring on the children and the artistic prose! (And hopefully my cp will catch the most egregious offenses and bring me to my senses.)

And speaking of my next book... Kensington gives me lots of copies of books to give away, and my stacks of SHE and EROS ISLAND are filling up my office. If you'd like to win a copy, leave a comment. Two random comments will win a book.

Posted by Lucinda Betts :: 9:19 AM :: 25 comments

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Chemical-Dependent Creativity

By the time you read this, I will have been caffeine-free for 10 days.

And for a lifelong tea-aholic, this is big stuff!


While I've never liked coffee, and I don't like Diet Coke anymore except as a fountain drink (so I don't even keep any at home) it's been a rare, rare thing for me not to have hot or iced tea, prepped with SweetNLow, pretty much within arm's reach until about 3 every afternoon. I

quit on the spur of the moment this past Saturday, after hearing a guy at my Weight Watchers meeting say that giving up the caffeine and the constant sweetener broke his longtime weight plateau. Desperate times call for desperate measures! On the way home from the meeting, I decided to try it--again.


I've tried this before and went flying (or rather creeping, bleary-eyed) back to my tea fixes in a couple of days, tired of having a headache. But I am REALLY pleased that this time--don't know why--I've had not  a HINT of bad head. I think I'm gonna make it! As I write this, I'm on my 5th day!  But of course the other question is, how well will I be able to write if I'm not wired???


Have you done this? Given up the coffee--or the smokes--or whatever your drug of choice may be? How has it worked for you? While I noticed a couple of lethargic days over the weekend, I'm feeling pretty much normal (whatever THAT is!) now. And I've been OK while I've been writing, although I haven't quite met my daily page quota on my current cowboy wip.


I can't answer your comments, coz I'm leaving town (tonight, July 2) for my Queen Niece's graduation party in PA. But I'd love to hear from anyone about how they think caffeine, nicotine, or whatever, affects their writing. Or is this all in our heads??

The true test for me will be how alert I remain while I help us drive this week--and how
committed I stay to pounding out more pages on my AlphaSmart to make my deadline
for LONG HARD RIDE....hoping that doesn't become the story of my life without tea!


Melissa MacNeal

Posted by Melissa MacNeal :: 5:00 PM :: 4 comments

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

For readers. . .

Here's to you!
The other day I found myself checking email and fell into a mid-day I.M. session with a reader. It was cool. I don't use instant messaging for anything, but there I was...chatting. The next day, I did it again with a different person.
So, in two days I talked with two different readers in a way I haven't before. The first reader has a blog where I've been interviewed and she's excited about the traffic she's been getting lately. Other readers are finding her blog and enjoying the interviews with writers she puts up there.

Pretty cool! She hosts readers connecting with writers connecting with readers. Readers connecting with other readers who like the same books...passing along author names and titles to be read.

It's all a circle which begins with a writer getting an idea. If writers didn't sit at their computers and work that idea into a story, the circle wouldn't begin.

The second reader is simply a fan of romance who loves to spread the word about her favorite authors and stories. We talked about family, we talked about the stuff of life, about other sites where I've seen her kind comments and we talked about what I'm working on.

While I'd been fretting that I'm not busy enough, that maybe other writers are more prolific, she pointed out that I've got a lot of work to do with two publishers and multiple contracts.

Being entirely focused on the story at hand tends to blur the big picture for me. I worry so much about what's happening in the moment for my characters, that I forget I'm also working toward larger career goals. Weird, but then, what writer isn't?

It was a lovely conversation and I was reminded of the circle again. Writing can be isolating. There are days my phone doesn't ring...my voice is actually rusty at the end of the day because I've only used it for brief comments to the pets. "Wanna go pee?" doesn't quite exercise the vocal cords.

The brief break I took for these conversations energized me. I went back to my WIP and looked at it with fresh eyes. It isn't a flat story with flat characters that everyone has seen before. It's the start of a circle of contact between strangers.

So, here's to our readers! They cheer us on, they love our stories as much as we do and they happily join our circles to talk and share.

What a fabulous way to spend my time! Thanks so much to every one of you!

Posted by Bonnie Edwards :: 11:35 AM :: 10 comments

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Friday, July 04, 2008

This great, big, fantastic, amazing country...and making new friends











It's Independence Day, the perfect time to think about this amazing country we Americans call home. I'm still digging out after taking a most amazing trip around a lot of it last month--my husband and I loaded up the dog and way too much stuff in our little motorhome and took off for Lori Foster and Dianne Castell's fantastic conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'd scheduled stops at book stores along the way in order to meet a few of my readers, and we also visited a small museum in Central City, Nebraska, where some artifacts out of my husband's family's past are on display, which was a really cool part of our trip. The map at the top has the entire 6300 mile route drawn out--we were gone exactly three weeks and I still haven't assimilated everything we saw. This country is huge, it's beautiful, and it's got everything.

We headed out with plans to see as much of the West and Midwest as we possibly could, and believe me, we saw a LOT! We also dodged a few thunderstorms, missed most of the floods and tried to sleep through more than one night of tornado warnings. (Those nights were generally in hotels, not the RV. We figured it wouldn't offer much protection, and I didn't want to end up like Dorothy headed to Oz in a whirl of wind and dust!)

The best part of the trip--beyond the trip itself--was meeting readers, both at my stops along the way as well as the conference. Once again I'm reminded just how terrific my readers are. Every single person I met on this trip was someone I'd love to just hang out with if life weren't so hectic or they didn't live a thousand miles away! I'm still on a high from all the neat things we saw and the people we met--I think one of the things that surprised me the most was the common ground we seemed to find the minute we got together. I'd go into the bookstore, we'd meet up and find a table in the coffee shop and IMMEDIATELY start gabbing like we'd known each other for years. It's got to be the fact we're all readers of romance. Is it like that for you? You meet someone at a book signing or a conference, or maybe just standing beside them in a book store perusing the titles, and suddenly you're chatting away like old friends. Is it just romance readers? What is it that gives us that instant connection? I'd love to know what you think.

And, if you're at all interested in some of the pictures of people and stuff, I've got quite a few photos up on our trip "diary" at www.katedouglas.com/june2008

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Posted by Kate Douglas :: 12:18 AM :: 13 comments

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Appeal of the Cowboy


What's the appeal of the cowboy?

I wonder about that. As a reader, I love a variety of the archetypal heroes. I love the vampire--who wouldn't love a man who needs you for more than company. So, he's got to take a little blood and offers a trade of sensual pleasure while he fills both his appetites. Sexy, right?

There's the wealthy business man who can provide a woman all the luxuries she'd ever want, who can be selective of a mate, but chooses you over all the women fawning over his wealth and handsome face. I could dig living in the lap of luxury with a man willing to shower me with gifts.

What does the cowboy offer in exchange for the pleasure he provides? As a woman, I like the idea that's he's self-sufficient, that he really doesn't need me to survive. Then his interest, his needs become all about what that one particular woman gives him to fill a void in his life that he didn't know was there until he met her.

A cowboy leads a very physical life. Fixing fences, delivering hay to the herd, wrestling a calf to the ground to brand it--you know that takes some muscle. Am I being shallow if I admit I love me some muscle?

I love the idea he's prepared to risk his own neck to protect his interests--his cattle, his woman, his homestead. He's worked damn hard to build his life, so he's not letting snakes, or weather, or rustlers take it from him. And he knows how to fight, knows how to use a gun--he can protect what's his, and if I'm his (at least, I'm the heroine in all my stories!), I appreciate that he makes me feel safe and cherished because his constant watch over all the things he owns (and don't let a cowboy tell you he doesn't feel possessive of a woman!) fills a void in me that loves the thought of a man who's willing to put himself at risk to protect me.

I lived in south Texas for nine years, surrounded by ranches and men in Wranglers, and they don't act like city boys. They're respectful of a woman's strength and polite (I melted into a gooey puddle whenever they tipped their hats in passing). Most of them aren't big talkers. They don't waste words and prefer to show you rather than tell you what they feel. I'm okay with that.

And I'll admit to being shallow when I say I love a cowboy's body--all wiry muscles, filling a pair of jeans with chaps emphasizing the size of their thick thighs, the mystery of their glances hidden in the shadow of their cowboy hats--all those external qualities give me a thrill.

What do cowboys do for you?

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Posted by Delilah Devlin :: 11:18 AM :: 10 comments

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