Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Thursday 13: Getting Ready for RT

I realized that in less than a week, RT is starting. It completely snuck up on me--I think I was in time-crunch denial. I know there are more than thirteen things to do before then, but here's my list:

1. Finish my Steampunk costume: I didn't order my accessories from Amazon (*facepalm*) so I'm getting creative and heading to Goodwill and Michael's tomorrow. I'm going for a kind of explorer-ish look; I have my boots, pants, and awesome velvet jacket so far. What kind of accessories should I bring, other than my "ray gun" (Phin's nerf gun spray painted silver...maybe I should have asked before appropriating it :P)

2. Find a mask and wings for the Venetian Faerie ball: Hello craft and year-round Halloween stores!

3. Pack: Lordy, deciding what to wear for the parties is hard enough, and now I have to dress myself for the rest of the day? The Nine have talked about this, and we're torn on whether or not to wear jeans. I'm currently in favor of them, mostly because I really don't want to go clothes shopping this weekend :)

4. Gather promo items: Since I'm in the LA area, a lot of our promo items have been sent to me--and they're beautiful! You should definitely be jealous of our Romance Trading Cards, but lucky for you, they're easy to get into your hot little hands. Work a little email magic, pray the USPS doesn't lose them, and--voila!--all yours. Just ask!

5. Go to the salon: Haircut, nails, etc. Gotta look pretty for the other writers! And by "other writers," I really mean "hawt cover models."

6. Whittle down the shoes I'm bringing: monumental task, I gotta tell you. I love shoes, and they just won't all fit in my suitcase. Anyone else have this problem?

7. Write: Oh, the world doesn't stop because of an impending conference? Damn. Work still needs to be done.

8. If we're talking about work...I have editing to do!: When I'm not writing or reading, I'm editing. My own work, others'...I freakin' love this part of my life. And as the new managing editor at AudioLark audiobooks (or a-books, though I'm still waiting for that one to catch on, lol) I do a lot of written and sound editing, the latter of which is new and shiny for me.

9. Write some more: ah, the pressures of being a writer. Woe is me? Never.

10. Create a "honey-do" list: Enough said. Does anyone else live by these?

11. Decide whether to bring my netbook: Would I like to write while I'm there? Of course! Will it happen? Not likely...And traveling light is the name of this game, as much as humanly possible (No, I'm not looking at you, PG, I swear!)

12. Run to Costo: Must. Have. Wine!

And finally...

13. SLEEP: Five days of author-reader craziness? I'm stocking up on the shut-eye now.

Are you all ready? I won't be (too) jealous, I swear! Or if you're going to another conference, what is the one thing you have to bring with you?

Pack(ing) Rat

 Travelin' light is the only way to fly.
Travelin' light, just you and i.
We can go to paradise,
Maybe once, maybe twice.
Travelin' light is the only way to fly. 

J.J. Cale

I used to know how to travel light. Really light. Three weeks, three changes, one pair of shoes light. But those days are long gone. Now, instead of asking myself, "what can I leave out?" I'm more likely to find myself thinking, "what else can I bring?" I've been packing for next week's trip to LA. Today, after filling a suitcase with probably more clothes then I can wear in one week, I went shopping to fill in the gaps.

The thing is, however, I don't really enjoy traveling that way. I miss the backpack days. I don't want to feel like I should be changing two or three times a day, or wearing a completely different ensemble each and every night simply because I can. Or simply because I feel like justifying all the stuff I packed.

Tomorrow, I think I might take everything out and start over again from scratch.

But, in the meantime...I think I'll put on some classic travelin' music to help me relax.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Blogger Nikki Duncan - An Escort's Insider Scoop

With us today is Nikki Duncan and the heroine from her upcoming print release SCENT OF PERSUASION with an interview on how she became an escort and a little hint of how it turned out for her.

Thanks for having us here, ladies. It’s always a good time, though I have to say Kami’s interview is nowhere near as naughty as her fellow escort Ava’s would be. She’s simply too refined for such bawdiness. Mostly. ;)

Nikki: Kami, thanks for spending time with me today. I’ll try not to ask anything too embarrassing.

Kami: No worries, Nikki. I’ve gotten over any shame or embarrassment.

Nikki: Well, in that case…

Kami: (laughing) I could be in trouble now.

Nikki: Maybe. I know your story, but tell us why you decided to leave the comfort of your life to be an escort. It’s not exactly a traditional transition.

Kami: Traditional is definitely NOT how I would define it.

Nikki: So why the change?

Kami: I needed answers. When I found Channing, my step brother who meant everything to me… (shuddering visibly as the memory clearly snaps back with clarity) Well, sparing the details, when I found him dead, I knew it wasn’t the suicide it looked like. When the cops wouldn’t listen, I decided to find the truth myself.

Nikki: That must have been tough, but how did you know it wasn’t a suicide?

Kami: I knew Channing. He stood by me, helped me through a rough time in my life. He was my best friend. Besides, people intending to kill themselves don’t plan their future hours before taking their life.

Nikki: No, I guess they wouldn’t. So, you gave up on the cops and started your own investigation. How did that lead you to Elegant Entertainment?

Kami: A few things. First, there was a contract by him he’d signed that I knew he was against. And the subject of the contract has proven to be worth killing over.

Nikki: Can you tell us about that?

Kami: Sorry, I promised not to talk about it. The FBI is still trying to tie up all the loose ends there.

Nikki: Understandable. So what else led you to EE?

Kami: The last person Channing had seen was a woman I tracked to EE. She was an escort he’d seen a few times, but by the time I got in at EE she was gone.

Nikki: She left?

Kami: To hear them tell it. I say they vanished her.

Nikki: Why? What could an escort get into that she’d need to disappear?

Kami: (smiling a knowing smile) A lot at Elegant Entertainment. I almost fell into the same sort of trouble.

Nikki: Tell us about that.

Kami: It was my first job. They sent me in as a date for a CEO during some fundraiser he was doing. Two things I avoid at all costs.

Nikki: But we’ll do amazing things for those we love.

Kami: Yeah, and Channing was worth it. Anyway, on that first night I was ordered to return with my date’s hair brush. Weird, but okay. As if there weren’t enough issues that stemmed from that, I actually liked this guy. A lot.

Nikki: I’d think that would make the job easier. I mean, you were essentially being paid to have sex with him, right?

Kami: I was, and thinking that would follow. But it wasn’t true for me. I wasn’t kidding when I said I avoided CEO types at all costs. Breck was the embodiment of that, and somehow, enjoying his touches made the act… I don’t know. It was easier, but not.

Nikki: Did the complications change as you spent more time with him? How did he handle it when you were assigned to other men?

Kami: I’m still waiting for the complications to get easier. The other men… They were never an issue because for Breck I embodied everything he wanted. No strings.

Nikki: I guess things weren’t what either of you expected.

Kami: That would be accurate.

Nikki: So when did you know he was different than the other CEO types you’ve known. He is different, isn’t he?

Kami: Oh yeah. I saw glimpses of differences from the beginning, but the defining moment was when I met his closest friend. He says that’s also the moment I shattered his hopes of no strings.

Nikki: And you guys worked together to find answers about Channing’s death?

Kami: Not that he really let me in on his plans, but I ended up with some closure. That’s the most important thing.

Nikki: Some closure?

Kami: Yeah. There’s still the bit about that contract that still lingers. I may never have those answers.

Nikki: You don’t sound upset by that.

Kami: I walked away from being an escort with answers, new best friends and a man to love. What’s to be upset about? Though, I am still holding out hope Breck’s team will find those answers before anyone else is hurt or killed.

Nikki: I wish them the best of luck. And thank you for spending your time with us.

Kami: Anytime.

To read all about Kami’s time as an escort, pre-order SCENT OF PERSUASION in print for $9.80, regularly $14.00 at Samhain Publishing. More buy links, including those for the eBook, can be found on Nikki’s website at along with information on all her other books. Check them out!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The End Of the Affair

I just recently saw the final episode of Saving Grace. I know, I’m late—it was broadcast last year. But I was watching it on DVD and this is when I finally got around to the last one. I have to say, although I sort of liked Saving Grace, I hated the ending.

I wasn’t alone on this—a lot of other people were either mystified or annoyed by the way the series came to a close. SPOILER ALERT—DON’T READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW HOW THE SERIES ENDED.

So they killed Grace. She blew herself up in order to destroy a demon who might actually have been the devil himself. Now I know Buffy did something similar in the Dawn season, but when she did it, you understood why it would work and why she went through with it. With Grace, the reaction was more along the lines of “Huh?” The problem can be described as “The dude was supposed to be Satan—you think an explosion is gonna take care of him?”

The whole last season of Grace seemed somewhat chaotic to me, with some good episodes and some totally confusing ones. As a viewer, I got the feeling the writers were floundering, trying to figure out what to do (the series wasn’t cancelled until late in the season, but its fate was in question for quite a while). Ultimately, they came up with an ending nobody liked much.

But after my initial annoyance with the way the series ended, I started wondering—has any final episode actually worked? We all know the disasters: the Seinfeld ending, for example. But which ones have gone right?

In a lot of cases, the ending becomes a frantic tying up of loose ends, like the last episode of Friends. Or it’s a chance for lots of forgotten characters to reappear for a brief encore. Neither one of these is a great idea, IMHO.

I can think of a few final episodes that worked for me: MASH is a classic. The final episode of Life didn’t do anything extraordinary, but it did wrap up the villain who’d been a problem for two years. The final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was okay, but the final season itself was sort of lame. (Okay, I know somebody is going to think about the last episode of Lost, but I never could get into the series so I didn’t see the final episode).

In fact, a lot of series have lousy final seasons. The Wire is probably my favorite series of all time, but its final season wasn’t nearly as good as the four that went before (and I’ll never forgive them for killing off Omar). The Sopranos limped out of sight. I have to admit that by the time ER was finished, I was no longer watching. Again, I’m not sure why things should be this way. Maybe the problem is that some series go on much longer than they should and by the time they’re finally finished, the series itself has long since run out of steam.

Anyway, I wonder if maybe the best way for a series to end is to just go on doing what they’ve done all along, sort of like the ending of Cheers. I don’t think I’d have been nearly as annoyed if Saving Grace had ended with Grace solving yet another case while screwing up her private life. That’s pretty much the way she behaved for most of the series, and I’d have preferred to see her go on doing it. Maybe what I want is the illusion that the series is still continuing somewhere in an alternate universe where Grace is still stumbling, Ross and Rachel are still making up and breaking up, Angel and his gang are still fighting demons, and Omar is still slouching down the street whistling “Farmer In the Dell”. Yeah, that probably says a lot about my own psychology, but I think it’s preferable to trying to blow up the devil with a load of fertilizer.

So what do you think? Which series went out with a bang (pun not intended), and which with a whimper? And which do you think really got it right?

Friday, March 25, 2011


The title pretty much says it all, right? On April 6, two weeks from yesterday, I’ll fly to LA for Romantic Times Magazine’s BookLovers Convention. I’ll be meeting five of the other Naughties in person for the first time. Kate and Sydney can’t be there, unfortunately, but we’ll make them feel included by drunk dialing them at 2:00 a.m. our time.

I can’t wait to see if the Naughties’ in-person personalities match their online personalities. I expect PG to be sarcastic and to laugh a lot. Kelly will be very sweet in person. Meg will be nice, but not sweet and she won’t put up with a lot of shit. Juniper will be very laid back, low key and relaxed, as befits someone who splits their time between Alaska and Hawaii. Erin will be a lot of fun and we’ll share my-kids-are-nuts stories.

I will be...I don’t know. Me, but sweeter in person than online. I’m from Texas, where girls of my generation were taught to be Sweet Above All Else.

I don’t think all the Naughties plan to make all the parties, but I will definitely be attending Samhain’s steampunk soiree, the Venetian Masquerade Faery Ball and the Vampire Ball. I love dressing up in costumes – oddly enough I never do it for Halloween but for stuff like this, heck yeah. I have my steampunk outfit together, and my Fairey Ball – I won’t have a mask but I will have a wand and wings. I think we’re planning something special for the Vampire Ball but I’m not going to give it away (i.e., I’m not sure what I’m wearing yet).

I’ve already started pulling out clothes and making lists, because I’m obsessively organized like that. My best friend flies all over the world with her job, and one of my brothers in law flies so much for business that he has his very own British Airways customer service person. He used his frequent flyer miles to get me and Diva to London and back, and he didn’t even miss them. So they can throw clothes in a suitcase, hop on an international flight and be all ho-hum. Me, I don’t travel much, so several days away from home sends me into a tizzy of preparation.

I do look forward to meeting people I’ve talked to for a long time. Angie James, who bought and edited my first book, will be there, as will Jane from Dear Author and Sarah from Smart Bitches (I don’t know if Candy will there, since she’s still in law school, I think). I want to bump into Victoria Dahl in the bar. And I have to meet up with Vivian Arend and Amber, aka @buriedbybooks, because they’re good Twitter buddies of mine.

The Hub used to think it was weird that I felt so close to people I’ve never met—and many of them, I imagine, I never will. Then he started playing poker online and I think he’s made a few virtual friends of his own.

I’m old enough to have been an adult for a while Before The Internet – and life After The Internet is a lot better. I mean, the world is no less messed up than it was back then, but it’s no worse either, and now we have this marvelous means of instant communication that will one day, if it isn’t already, be considered as revolutionary and world-altering as the telephone and the automobile. In fact, I think I’m going to dedicate the steampunk novella I’m writing for the Carina submissions call (hoping Angie James favors me a second time) to the Internet, which has put history, geography, science, maps, historical photographs, and other peoples’ fantastic artistic imaginations available to me at a keystroke.

The Naughties will be joining the Smutketeers for a Hollywood casting-themed reading of sexy books (I think – I need to check my notes again). We’ll drink wine. And I imagine we’ll make a few writers’ sessions as well.

I think I’m most looking forward to meeting readers – people who’ve read our stuff, and people who want to. So if you’re there, come find us. We’ll be wearing boas and making a lot of noise.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dear RT Roomie

I can’t believe in less than TWO WEEKS  we’ll be at RT! I’m so excited (and nervous as hell) about going to RT this year. It’s going to be amazing to meet the other Naughty Nine (boo that Kate and Sydney won’t be there, but they’ll be posting “Home Alone” updates from all of us!).

For my RT roomie, I thought I would share some things you need to know about me while we are sharing a hotel room at the convention:
1. I am terrified of flying. At this point, I'm not entirely convinced that I will make it there without the plane crashing. I may kiss the ground when I arrive in LA. And I will be searching out any leftover booze on Sunday morning when I have to leave.

2. I am not a morning person. If you talk to me, I will hear you but I probably won't answer. Please don't think I'm being rude, but it's nearly impossible for me to form coherent thoughts let alone verbalize them until I've been up a couple of hours and have had a few cups of coffee.

3.  On the other hand, I'm not exactly a night person either. I used to be, but years of getting up at 6:00 AM to go to work have resulted in me calling it a day at about 10:00 pm. However, in the adrenaline rush of the convention and parties, and perhaps with some extra caffeine, I may be able to stay up later—maybe till 11:00. :-)

4.  I am high maintenance. This means I will hog closet space, bathroom space and bathroom time. I will bring way too many clothes and shoes that I won't wear, and will take up space with my makeup, lotions, potions and hair care products. I apologize in advance! It might be a good idea for us to have a bathroom schedule to ensure fairness and no hard feelings.

4. I am a shy, reserved introvert. I can do a pretty good job of acting like an extrovert, but it exhausts me. If I have to go back to the room alone to curl up in a little ball, once again I'm not being rude, I just need to reenergize with some alone time.

Okay, this is tongue in cheek but somewhat true! I'm so excited about RT and I really hope to meet as many people as possible, especially all my "on-line" friends—fellow authors, readers, industry professionals, anyone who wants to say hey! Love to meet you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Throwing Caution To The Wind

I have a confession to make.

I'm a planner.

I have a hard time doing things on the spur of the moment. I like to weigh the pros and cons, look at all the angles, find my way through a decision by taking the time to really consider it. I like having everything planned out in advance.

But somehow, last week I ended up buying a last-minute plane ticket to an event I wasn't even thinking about the day before.

In the space of about 24 hours, I went from "Oh, doesn't that sound like fun, wish I could..." to "Well, why the hell not?"

So by this time next week, I'll be finishing packing for a two-day trip to California to watch a pilot for a new TV show being filmed. I don't know if the show will get picked up by the network; I don't know if the script even includes the actor I'm hoping to see perform. I do know that I'll meet friends from all across the US who are going to be there for the same reason, and I know we'll have a fantastic time whatever happens.

I don't see this becoming a habit; I'm too invested in planning things out to throw caution to the wind like this on a regular basis. But once in a while?

All I can say is, "why the hell not?"

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Guest Blogger Jody Wallace - Career Stagnation

Career stagnation -- who doesn't dread it? (Rhetorical answer to rhetorical question: people w/out careers) This can happen when you've never managed to get anywhere; or you've gotten somewhere and gotten stuck; or you've gotten somewhere, had a setback, and now feel like you're starting over...unsuccessfully.

The other day my horoscope said I should try new things if I wanted to see a change in my life. (Want a cleaner house? How about cleaning it!) With a writing career this can be good advice or bad advice, depending. If you maintain the same efforts--provided you're making sufficient effort—you may be two weeks from an agent, a publishing deal, a best-seller. You may be already doing exactly what you need to do to get where you want to go, and changing your strategy could ruin a good thing that just hasn't panned out yet. It cannot be said enough times: publishing isn't a career for the impatient. (A better career for the impatient is probably firefighter or ER doctor. Then you're HAPPY when there's nothing to do.)

On the other hand, what's the definition of insanity that's been attributed to everyone from Einstein to Ben Franklin? "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So you've been at this for years, chasing the dream, working your tail off, sacrificing family time and me-time and money and you've gotten exactly...bupkis (I always thought that was buttkiss, but it's not, it's bupkis, which means goat poop in Yiddish). Are you insane? (Another rhetorical are not insane.) Do you want this to define you as well? (Yet another rherotical question...and I should probably can it with the rhetorical questions at this point, don't you think? AHHH! Not another one! I can't believe I asked a rhetorical question when I was advising myself to quit asking rhetorical questions.) So when things stop moving and grooving, isn't it smart to push and kick them from a different angle? (I'm thinking heavy object.) Or tempt them with something besides a carrot? (Now I'm thinking mule.) Or maybe even grease the rails? (Now I'm thinking bribes.)

It's a tough decision. There are only 24 hours in the day, and a certain proportion of those must be devoted to things like sleeping, eating and taking care of one's body. (Unavoidable, no matter what people say.) If you neglect your health, not only will your hours in the day be limited by illness after a while, but your years of life might wind up limited as well. The remaining hours get divvied between jobs, family, household, and whatever else you've got going on. Assuming you've got your time filled and not frittered (Fritters, btw, are not goat droppings but are deliciously deep fried food items, so what fritters have to do with wasting time, I don't know), anything you add to your plate, when trying something new career-wise, might mean something else gets pushed off your plate. (Like housecleaning. Boo! Who needs fresh sheets on the bed every day or a floor clean enough to eat off of? No, don't look at me like that, that's not a rhetorical question. Seriously, who does need a floor that clean?)

That balance will be unique to you (housecleaning? no housecleaning?), so if you decide to shake things up, make sure you take your own life and career into account. Don't try to follow another writer's path simply because he or she appears to be in a place you think would suit you quite well, thank you very much.

Not even if that place has maid service.

Jody Wallace

So much cyberspace, so little time! /

PS Thanks to my horoscope and, I admit it, some impatience, I am shaking things a little these days by releasing backlist and short fic myself. So far I've got a little ditty called "Cooley's Panther" on Smashwords (, Kindle ( and B&N ( ). The only thing that's fallen off my plate with the added responsibilities is housecleaning. Oh, wait...that was already off my plate, and my plate is the last clean one in the house. How about you?

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Land of Ice

It’s been a while since I shared some Alaskan craziness, but I just had a major dose on a weekend visit to Fairbanks and thought I’d share the fun.

First up, the World Ice Art Championships. In Fairbanks, the ponds freeze into ice of unusual clarity. Huge blocks of this ice are fork-lifted into the fairgrounds, where ice artists from around the world carve intricate, elaborately detailed sculptures out of them. My camera isn’t very good, so I can’t claim credit for these photos. Hopefully they give you a taste.

It's amazing the things you can make out of ice. A sauna, for instance, fully heated by a wood stove. Inside, you can relax and admire the surreally beautiful patterns embedded in the ice walls.

The ice slides are a total blast. I have to admit the whole experience was enhanced by the flask of Bushmills we passed around.

The next night we watched the “super-moon” while soaking in Rock Lake at Chena Hot Springs.

Here’s my stepdaughter demonstrating what happens to your hair at the hot springs when your head is at 20 below and your body’s in 105 degree water. Ice mascara, anyone?

I don’t have any pictures of the “super-moon”, but it was so spectacular here in Alaska, a majestic burnt-orange disk rising over the hills. I hope it was equally gorgeous where you live. As we drove home from Chena Hot Springs, the moon lit up one half the sky, Northern Lights danced across the other.

We got home at five in the morning, stoked the wood stove in our cabin and watched the moonlight filter through the birch trees.

The next day was Spring Equinox, which is a major event here in Alaska. From here on out, we get more and more light each day, until the darkness is nearly gone, dusk fades into dawn, and we won’t see the moon again until September.

Okay, that’s my report from the Land of Ice. Aren’t you glad I live here, so you don’t have to?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Athlete romance heroes - yay or nay?

I’ve read the advice that romance writers should never write about heroes who are athletes. But I’ve broken rules before, and writing a romance with a hockey player hero was something I always wanted to do. So I did it!

Why shouldn’t we use athletes as heroes? I actually don’t know the reason behind it other than I always thought it was maybe because they were “overused” and people got tired of them. But actually, I haven’t read many romances where the hero is a professional athlete. Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes about great football players. One of my favourite Sandra Brown books, Play Dirty, is about a (former) NFL quarterback - OMG I loved Griff. I’ve read a few books about hockey players - a couple of Harlequins and a Rachel Gibson book. Erin McCarthy writes some great stories about NASCAR racers and Jill Shalvis has written about baseball players.

Today is release day for my book Breakaway, which features a professional hockey player hero. Lest you think that hockey players are big and ugly and have no teeth, behold:

Zach Parise (Can I just say a hockey player in a suit is sooooo hot)

Henrik Lundqvist

Jose Theodore

Mike Camalleri

Maxime Lapierre

Patrick Sharp

But of course, it’s not looks that make a hero, although big muscles and a sexy smile do help! Qualities of determination, passion, loyalty, dedication, sacrifice and courage are important for heroes too. And don’t professional athletes have all those? In Breakaway, Jase is a man who grew up with a lot of struggles that made him determined to succeed. He’s loyal to his team, dedicated to his sport and passionate about hockey. He’s brave enough to fight when he needs to, but smart enough to step away when fighting isn’t right. He’s not perfect—he’s afraid of commitment and responsibility outside the rink (at least, at first) and he’s a fun loving guy rather than serious. But a hero is also someone who’s brave enough to face his flaws and fears and who is willing to grow.

In Breakaway, Remi’s best friend isn’t thrilled that Remi is getting involved with a professional athlete. She’s thinking about the athletes who've been in the news lately—men who cheat on their wives. Men who are accused of rape or "sexting". Men who get drunk and crash their cars. Men who take performance enhancing drugs. Some of the qualities that make them so successful—single-minded determination and ambition —can also turn selfish. And when an athlete becomes a “star”, when he becomes wealthy, able to do whatever he wants, buy whatever he wants, maybe that can change him. Maybe he feels privileged, entitled, above the law.

Jase is successful and he has reporters and puck bunnies stalking him, and he’s definitely wealthy, but at his core he remains profoundly grateful for the talent he’s been given and determined to make the best of that by working hard at his profession. Yes, it’s a game, but even fun-loving Jase knows it’s a business and it’s serious. And when the chips are down—oh, sorry wrong game metaphor. How about, when the puck is dropped, Jase mans up and takes responsibility for his actions.

Any other athlete romance heroes you’ve fallen in love with?

For an excerpt from Breakaway visit my blog.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Release of Anything You Want-- and a Giveaway!

That might be the most boring blog post title ever but... it's descriptive :)

Anything You Want was released on Tuesday (March 15th). This is my fifth book and I've come to the conclusion that release days are never boring! It's like your birthday-- people saying nice things about you, having little parties for you, giving you "gifts" (trust me-- compliments and nice reviews about my work are considered gifts!). There's virtual confetti all over my keyboard and I'm smiling all day!

I'm glad to have this book out for another reason-- it's a relief! This book gave me some fits, I'll tell you. In fact, for awhile I referred to it as "this f*&%-ing book". The main reason was that it's got a love triangle in it. But it wasn't supposed to. It didn't start out that way. But... well... it happened anyway. And now in retrospect it makes sense. This is the way the story was supposed to go. And, okay, it was kind of fun getting there once I realized why it was giving me trouble!

So, here's a little peek for you... and a giveaway!

Suppose the solution to all your problems is the one thing you never wanted…

It figures the one time Sabrina Cassidy is determined to do the responsible thing, karma kicks in. After four years on the road chasing her musical dream, she’s stranded six hours from home with no money, a ruined credit history—and morning sickness.

Out of options, she swallows her legendary independent streak and calls the only person who won’t hang up on her. Luke, the man she left behind.

Marc Sterling’s first instinct is to protect his business partner and best friend from another broken heart. That means letting her think she’s talking to Luke, then finding a way to send her in the opposite direction.

When he shows up at her hotel room, there’s something in the air beside their customary insults. Sure, her rebellious attitude, smart mouth—and purple panties—still drive him crazy, but now it’s a different kind of crazy. The kind that has him driving her home instead of to the nearest airport.

And when Luke offers to solve all her problems if she’ll only say “I do”, Marc realizes he’s just crazy enough—about her—to forget whose heart he wanted to protect.

Warning: Contains two people who don’t like each other very much, a Toyota that can’t quite handle the road trip home, and a spontaneous proposal. Or two. Or three. And foreplay with—what else—pie filling.


“How about a Long Slow One?”

Sabrina snapped out of her thoughts as someone ordered a final drink before they closed. It was one of her own concoctions. She was having fun with that at least. She shoved the letter under the edge of the blender and reached for a glass.

“A Long Slow One?” The deep voice tumbled down her spine like a staircase, goose bumps rippling out and down her limbs. Marc had come behind the bar when she wasn’t looking.

“Want one?” she asked, turning to face him.

She loved—loved, loved, loved—the sexual innuendos and teasing between them. It seemed constant. There was a current between them whenever they were in close proximity and neither of them shied away from it.

Which was stupid, but apparently unavoidable.

“I’d be crazy to say no to that wouldn’t I?”

He gave her the grin that always made her think Take me now.

“Definitely,” she said with a smile. “But you should know that the Hard and Fast is another option.”

“Now we’re talking’.” He moved in as if to simply pass behind her but his chest brushed her upper back and his hand slid across her hip and right butt cheek as he did. “What’s in it?”

“The most important ingredient is cinnamon schnapps.”

The next millisecond she realized what she’d admitted. Marc chewed cinnamon gum. All the time. His kisses were always cinnamon flavored and yes, that had come to mind as she invented the drink. And its name.

“I love cinnamon,” he said gruffly. “The Hard and Fast sounds good to me.”

She turned to face him, wanting to see his eyes as she said, “I personally like it better than the Long Slow One.”

“Should I say that doesn’t surprise me or act like I haven’t thought about how you like…your drinks?”

Breathing. That was what she was forgetting.

She sucked in a long breath. “I’m not sure what you should say.”

“Doesn’t matter what I say,” he said, his voice low. “I still wonder about it.”

“Now you know.”

“I won’t forget, either.”

God, what was she doing? She wasn’t even flirting with the man who’d proposed, but she was basically telling his best friend exactly how she’d like him to take her.

The urge to kiss him was nearly overpowering. “You have to stop.”

“Stop what?”

“Being so…all of this.”

“Sexy?” he suggested with a grin. “Hot? Hard to resist?”

She rolled her eyes, but couldn’t stop her smile. “Yes. All of it.”

“You think I’m hard to resist?” He sounded surprised.

“Isn’t that obvious?”

His smile changed from cocky to something much warmer. Her entire body felt it.

“It’s really, really fun, isn’t it?” he asked.

It really, really was. But she couldn’t shake the weirdness of it. This was Marc after all. Marc who had come to Wyoming to keep her away from Luke…

And that was what was bugging her.

“You’re very attentive for a guy who doesn’t like me much.”

“Until a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t like you at all.”

“Thanks for clarifying. And for making my point.”

“You’re wondering why I’m suddenly so…”

“Attentive is the word I’m most comfortable with.”

He chuckled. “Okay, you’re wondering why I’m suddenly so attentive.”

She wasn’t sure she wanted the answer to her next question. “Because you don’t want me with Luke?”

He crossed his arms and leaned his hip against the back counter. “I don’t want you with Luke.”

“Are you trying to make him look bad?” She regretted it as soon as she’d said it.

He looked very interested in that. “What does that mean?”

She shook her head. “Never mind. Forget it.”

She started to move past him, but he caught her arm and pulled her around to face him.

“I’m making him look bad?”

“You’re not trying?”

“Dammit, Sabrina.” He hadn’t let go of her yet and he pulled her closer. He sounded intent rather than annoyed. “Tell me how I’m making him look bad.”

“You’re making me want you more than I want him.”

He looked pleased and turned-on in equal parts. Then he frowned. “You want him?”

“I’d be stupid not to.”

Something flared in Marc’s eyes. Jealousy? Possessiveness? That was wishful thinking. She shook it off.

He stroked his hand up and down her arm, watching the movement. Then he looked into her eyes.
“Has he asked you again?”

“To marry him?”

Marc clenched his jaw before saying tightly, “Yeah.”

“No. He’s just been sweet. And attentive. He’s always bringing me stuff—flowers and muffins and
tea—and asking how I am. He bought me a rocking chair.”

Marc rolled his eyes. “Of course he did.”

“What do you mean?”

“He doesn’t get it.”

“Get what?”

“What he should be doing to win you over.”

“What should he be doing?” She was very interested in Marc’s opinion on this.

He moved in a little closer. “He should be telling you that you are the sexiest thing he’s ever seen. That he passes by as close to you as possible whenever he can just to smell your hair. That when you laugh it makes him want to French kiss you up against the wall. He should buy you something you’d really appreciate—like cinnamon massage lotion. That he could lick off, slowly and thoroughly, after rubbing it all over your body.”

She swallowed hard. “I don’t think you’re supposed to eat lotion.”

“Edible massage lotion is made to be eaten.”

At the word eaten she had to press her inner thighs together. Damn.

He gave her a lazy, sexy smile and continued to hold her arm, but his eyes went to something over her shoulder.

She glanced back and saw Luke heading for them from across the room.

Luke. The guy who’d given her the rocking chair. The rocking chair she was going to use for the baby. Should pregnant women really be getting edible massages anyway?

“Maybe the best way to keep you away from him is to marry you myself,” Marc muttered.

She swung to face him, shock vibrating through her bones. Uh, oh. That shouldn’t be so scary. Or tempting. It should be funny. Because the idea of Marc proposing to her was ridiculous.

“Yeah, right.” She tried, really tried, to sound flippant.

“Why not?” He was studying her. “What does he have that I don’t? I have my own business—the same one, incidentally. I live in a great little town—the same one, incidentally. I have a wonderful family who loves you—the same one, incidentally.” He shrugged. “Seems like the only thing that makes me different from Luke is that you want me.”

She closed her eyes and shook her head. This was beyond ridiculous. This was…torture.

“People have affairs all the time,” she said.

“You’d rather have an affair with me after you marry Luke?”

Her eyes flew open. She couldn’t believe how wound up she felt. Like she’d taken a shot of caffeine straight to her heart. “I meant marrying you doesn’t ensure I’ll leave Luke alone.”

Marc moved in, filling the space around her completely. She couldn’t look away from his dark green eyes, hot and swirling with emotion. “I promise you that if you were in my bed every night, there’s absolutely no way you would want to—or have the energy to—mess around with anyone else.”

Oh, God, she believed him.

She swallowed, closed her eyes to tear her from his gaze, took a deep breath. “It would kill Luke if we were together.”

She felt Marc’s hand fall away from her. She opened her eyes and saw the pained look on his face.

“Yeah, I know,” he said quietly.

Buy it here!

Giveaway! Just leave a comment: how you feel about love triangles, a question for me or about the book, your favorite kind of pie... whatever! All comments will be entered into a drawing for a copy of the book! I'll draw on Saturday morning!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Guest Blogger M.J. Fredrick - Road Trips

I love a road trip. Some mornings when I’m driving to work, I wonder what would happen if I just kept heading down the highway instead of taking that exit. I love the open road, I love seeing new things, things you can’t see from the air. It’s nice to not have to go through security, and to have more room to spread out. I love the camaraderie of being with my husband and son. My husband always makes it special, stopping for snacks and for lunch. They’re always better if we’re not trying to meet an impossible deadline. So it makes sense I would want to send my characters on road trips.
It’s a fun way to isolate them, to have them on their own against the world, to be able to concentrate on the growth of the relationship, pushing them closer every chance I get.
Even though Road Signs is a straight contemporary romance, I’ve seen the theme in my other books as well—my hero and heroine in Hot Shot are trekking down a mountain after being separated from the fire crew, my hero and heroine in Don’t Look Back are crossing Africa on their own after being separated from their team. In Sunrise Over Texas, the hero and heroine are crossing the wilds of Texas to the safety of civilization.
In Road Signs, I wanted to give two best friends the push they needed to turn from friends to lovers, and what better impetus than a road trip on Thanksgiving weekend, when they can’t get a flight or a room at a decent hotel and have to share, while money’s running out, the kinds of things that can make or break a relationship. It was fun throwing things at Cam and Willow to see what would make them stick together.
Do you like road trips or would you rather just get to your destination? Do you enjoy road trip stories? Best friend stories? What draws you to them?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Procrastination Control?

I was going to write a post about procrastination, but I decided to do it later...

But really, this has been the biggest hurdle to overcome when I transitioned from a traditional day job to working at home. it's so tempting to read or watch TV or nap...hell, even cleaning looks more appealing than that blank page.

Let's be honest--you're not "working from home" if you don't get real work done. All (even though saying "most" might have less inherent generalizing, I'll stick with "all") writers who want to be published also want to be taken seriously. I know I want my friends and family to see writing as a career path, not a hobby.

And that means I've got to put in the time. Buckle down, get my butt in the chair, hands on the keyboard (BICHOK) and put in hours similar to a traditional workday. Do I write for six hours a day? No (not yet). But I do spend at least that long writing, reading (craft and fiction), editing, and social networking. For the latter, I put myself on a timer for 30 minutes, and only as a reward for getting the other chunks done. Checking my e-mail can only be done in this "break" time. After trying endless methods for keeping myself from procrastinating, I've finally developed a few key elements that keep me going every morning.

1. Set long-term goals
Write them down and refer to them often. Make them reasonable but not necessarily easy. These are the things you're working toward, like making enough money to go to a conference or buy an iPad 2. My goals (1-, 3-, and 12-month) are in a spreadsheet I look at ever day (along with my daily tasks, below). Sometimes, making yourself publicly accountable is good, too. Have friends know your goals and support you in reaching them. Post on Facebook or twitter or 43 Things but don't just keep them inside your head. Make them come to life on the page.

2. Set daily tasks
I have a spreadsheet (yes, another one) for all the things I need to do in a given day or week. If I get it done, I put an "x" or the details, like the number of words I wrote in a given WIP. If I don't, I put a "0." But here's the important part for me: If I fail on one day, that's fine. I put the info from past days in a pale gray font so I can't really see it, but I can refer to it if I want to see my progress. It's like dieting--"they" say when you write down what you eat, it helps with your accountability, which often leads to weight loss. But if you obsess over those calories, you'll do yourself more harm than good. My daily tasks range from writing to my morning pages (from The Artist's Way) to reading craft books to exercising (see below).

3. Get out of the chair
Yes, this seems counter to BICHOK, but when you ache after a day of work, it's just going to contribute to your workplace anxiety. When doing what you love becomes tainted by backache or joint stiffness or eye fatigue, you're not going to love it as much. Period. Unless you're a masochist, in which case keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming post ;) I know, you have too much to do to take a break but trust me on this--every hour or so, take a five minute break. Stretch, walk a lap around the house, hell, just stand up and touch your toes, but move. You'll be far more efficient the next hour...and the one after that, and after that...

4. Keep up to date in your field
See what other writers are writing, bloggers are saying, graphic designers, creating. Not only will you see what's already been done, you'll learn from others in your arena, and not just the professionals. This is not about checking out the competition. It's about being a voracious learner. It's about reminding yourself why you chose a tough-ass path as a freelance worker. Pick up the books written by experts on how to do...anything in your field. And that author who puts out X books a year? You know her, the one you'd kill to be? Read her books, her blog, her grocery list...find the passion and dedication in her words.

5. Remind yourself why you love what you do
If you're a visual person, slap up pictures of the things or people that inspire you. I'm a wordie, so I have signs hanging in my office that say "believe in love"and "all because two people fell in love" and "Once in awhile, in an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale." Put your favorite book on your shelf as a reminder. Mine sit next to my NaNoWriMo WINNER certificate. This also relates to what Julia Cameron (yes, The Artist's Way Again) calls "refilling the well." Creating is hard work. It's draining, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise because even if you love writing beyond belief you're putting something of yourself onto the page (although I hope you're not bleeding onto the keyboard, literally or figuratively). You've got to spark your creativity every now and then. Be re-inspired. Movies, museums, nature walks, whatever floats your boat and ices your cake. And yes, you can call it work.

Tag, you're it!: What is your task mistress? Does she carry a bullwhip or nudge you with a twitchy little bunny nose? What strategies worked--and failed--for you?