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Monday, September 30, 2013

Trick or Treat isn't just for kids anymore!

Welcome to Romance Books 4 Us everyone. I'm your tour guide for the day, Nicole Morgan and as some of you may have noticed I drop by with a new post on the first of every month and either ramble like a fool or amaze you with my intellect. LOL. Okay, yes that last one was a stretch, but...I've got you smiling now, don't I? Now that you're good and loosened up, go ahead and kick your shoes off, sit back, relax and enjoy!
Trick or Treat isn't just for kids anymore! 
With Halloween just around the corner, I wanted to touch on the fun and more adult side of this yearly tradition we all know as Trick or Treat. We all know what Trick or Treat is usually associated with, but rarely do we use our grown up imaginations to use this simple concept to our advantage. We all love romance books, right? So, why wouldn't we want to do everything we can to add a little spark into our every day lives? 

For those of you who know me, I make no secret about the fact that I'm in a relationship and will soon be marrying my prince charming. However, what many don't know about me is my Martha Stewart side. Not in the "I'm going to start wearing button down shirts, cardigans and stop fixing my hair" kind of way, LOL but in the "I can be super creative" kind of way. I love taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. And what better way to do that, but to take something as simple as Trick or Treat and turn it into an adult game sure to spice up your love life and open up your mind to new ideas! 

I know, you're all sitting around eagerly wanting to know how you can do this, so allow me to explain. First what you need is an ordinary jar or container. 

Next what you'll need is a pad of paper. Nothing fancy, just any old pad of paper. So far, it's pretty easy, right? Well, just wait...

Then the next and most important ingredient is your imaginationPut the container somewhere in your bedroom - out of sight from prying younger eyes - then whenever you and your significant other has a romantic little thought, no matter how tame or how naughty it may be, write them down. Fold up the piece of paper and write whether its a trick or a treat on the outside before placing it in the jar. 
What's the difference between a trick or a treat? Well the answer to that lies within your own imagination as there are no limits to this fun little game. The only limits are those that you give yourself. But, an easy way to explain it is, a trick is something that you've never done before but are curious to try. this may also involve anything from a new restaurant or something as risque as a new position. ;-) But then there's the treat. This is something you've done, you love, but you cannot wait to do it again. Again, this could be something very simple, or as inventive as your mind may be. It's one of those wonderful little treats! ;-) 
So go on and have yourself a little fun! It only takes a few simple items, but you'll be glad you tried it! The only thing that stands in front of you enjoying an adult Halloween is yourself! :-) 

Nicole Morgan is an author of erotic romance novels, which more often than not have a suspenseful back story. Erotic romance mixed with good old-fashioned whodunit. While she's written everything from contemporary to paranormal her leading men will more than likely be wearing a uniform of some kind. From military to police officers, she has a love for writing about those who protect and serve. From her very first novel (which turned into a four book series) about Navy SEALs to her more recent releases you will be sure to find a few twists and turns you were not expecting.

She also has a recurring monthly column in Book & Trailer Showcase's eMagazine, and is a proud member of the Romance Books 4 Us Gold Authors. 

Find out more about Nicole and her books by visiting her websiteblogGoogle + PageTwitterFacebook and her Yahoo Group, Nicole’s Think Tank.

Until next month my lovies ~ Nicole 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Interview with New York Times Best Selling Author, Mary Jo Putney

Please welcome best selling author, Mary Jo Putney, I am interviewing her today.  We are so lucky to have this busy lady here. She's not only on the New York Times and USA Today best selling lists, but also on the Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly lists. 

I have to admit I didn't know the Wall Street Journal had a best selling list for books.  Any of you who have read Mary Jo's books are craving more information about her. I for one am eager to hear the answers to all the questions, Mary Jo.  

***For more information about Mary Jo Putney, visit her author page at

A New York Times bestselling author, Mary Jo Putney was born in Upstate New York with a reading addiction, a condition with no known cure.  Her entire writing career is an accidental byproduct of buying a computer for other purposes.  Most of her books contain history, romance, and cats.  Her current Lost Lords series include No Longer a Gentleman, May 2012, and Sometimes a Rogue, September 2013. October sees the release of the mass market edition of Mischief and Mistletoe, a Christmas anthology by the eight authors of the Word Wenches blog, and also an e-book Christmas novella anthology called Christmas Roses.  She has had ten RWA RITA nominations, two RITA wins, and in 2013 is the recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Q.  Mary Jo, I understand you have written over forty books since 1987.  Is it difficult to write so many books?

A. Like any other job, you have to keep showing up and doing the work, but once I started writing, I couldn’t imagine anything else I’d rather be doing.  That, plus the need to pay the mortgage and feed the cats, keeps me showing up.

Q.  I understand you have written in other genres besides historical.  Do you have a favorite genre?  Is there another genre you would like to write besides the ones you have tried?

A.  I’ve been lucky enough to be able to write most of the stories I want to write.  I love history, and relationships, and happy endings, so clearly I belong in romance!  I also love writing fantasy, and I’ve been able to do some of that as well.  Usually with history and always with romance. 

Q.  How many times have you been on the New York Times best seller list?  Or any list?

A. I have no idea.  Lists are lovely, but when a book comes out, I’m usually locked in mortal combat with the next book, so I don’t really keep track.

Q.  How do you come up with your story ideas? 

A.  It’s a mysterious process.  Sometimes I have a plot idea, like “how would a man survive ten years in a French dungeon, and what kind of woman could bring him back from the edge of madness?”  That was the premise for NO LONGER A GENTLEMAN.  Or maybe I have a character, and I need to find a story that will allow that character to grow and change.  Both hero and heroine of my new book, SOMETIMES A ROGUE, were iceberg characters—they’d showed up in previous Lost Lords books, but hadn’t revealed much about themselves.  So I needed an adventurous plot that would test them, and that was the beginning of their story.  Once I have a basic idea, the lizard brain gnaws away at it, adding layers and new characters and new research.

Q.  Do you have a set schedule for writing?

A.  The closer the deadline, the longer the hours of writing!

Q.  Is there any part of a novel hard for you to write?  I can't imagine you having a problem, but I'll ask.  lol

A.  For me, the hardest part is actually getting the right words down.  Ideas are easy—finding the best way to convey the story clearly and effectively is seriously hard work.

 Oh gosh, I certainly understand the difficulty of getting the right words.  I know what I want, but the word slips my mind. lol

Okay, it's time for some fun questions:

Q.  What did you want to be when you grew up at the ages of 6, 13 and 24?

A.  A cowgirl, an engineer, and an industrial designer, respectively.    I did become a practicing designer for years, but always in the back of my mind, in the impossible dream category, was the idea that it would be really cool to write novels.

Q.  What is your favorite color?

A. Burgundy.

Q.  What is your favorite movie?  And why?

A.  Sorry, but there is never just one favorite book, or movie, or author.  How can one compare Shakespeare in Love to Galaxy Quest to Legally Blonde?

LOL  You're definitely diverse. 
Q.  If you could be anyone in the world who would it be?  And why?

A. I’d like to be a novelist.  So I could tell stories. Oh, wait…


Q.  Do you have a bucket list of things to do when you have time?

A. Not really.  I love to travel and have been to lots of places, and hope to get to lots more, but I can be happy with different trips and experiences, so I go with what seems most reasonable at any given moment.  We just returned from a cruise on the Danube, and it was great, even though I’d originally wanted to cruise France, but those trips were sold out.

You can always cruise France next year, Mary Jo.  You'll know to buy those tickets early now.  Smile!  I like the Caribbean and many of my friends like the Mediterranean.
Mary Jo, would you please tell us about your latest book.  Is it your favorite?  Smile!  The author's I talk to say the one they just finished is there favorite or the one they're working on now is. 

  1. Sophie’s Choice!  I love them all.  But I do tend to be particularly fond of a book that I’ve finished and don’t have to worry about any more.
Sometimes a Rogue is half adventure story and half domestic drama.  It begins when the heroine, Sarah, is taking her very pregnant sister for a quiet drive.  When kidnappers show up looking for her sister, Sarah takes her place and is taken off to Ireland.  Luckily, Rob Carmichael, a Bow Street Runner, is after her almost immediately.  But rescuing Sarah is only the first step of their adventures!


Even the most proper young lady can yearn for adventure. But when the very well bred Miss Sarah Clarke-Townsend impulsively takes the place of her pregnant twin, it puts her own life at risk. If the kidnappers after her sister discover they’ve abducted Sarah instead, she will surely pay with her life…

Rob Carmichael survived his disastrous family by turning away from his heritage and becoming a formidable Bow Street Runner with a talent for rescuing damsels in distress. But Sarah is one damsel who is equal to anything.  Whether racing across Ireland with her roguish rescuer or throwing herself in his arms, she’s all Rob could ever want—and can never have.

Sometimes a Rogue Excerpt

Rob Carmichael, Bow Street runner and graduate of the Westerfield Academy for boys of “good birth and bad behavior,” is particularly good at finding damsels in distress.  Instead of a runaway heiress, he is sent to rescue Miss Sarah Clarke-Townsend, a petite and well-bred young lady who put her own life at risk to protect her pregnant twin sister.  Rob has followed the kidnappers to Ireland, and has found where Sarah is being held captive.

It was hours before the lights in the house were extinguished, but Rob had years of practice in patience.  The light rain stopped and the sky cleared, revealing a waxing moon that would provide light for another few hours to aid an escape. 
Eventually the house became dark, except for a small light on the ground floor level that appeared to be in the kitchen.  Since that might mean the captive was guarded, he’d enter through the front door rather than the one Bridget had suggested. 
He was good with locks, so the massive front door presented no great challenge.  He eased inside, scarcely breathing, then pulled the door almost shut so it would be ready for a quick escape.  As he studied his surroundings, he pulled his fighting stick from an inside pocket.  He’d acquired it in India, and it was shaped and knobbed to be held in one hand to add extra striking power in a fight. 
The house appeared to have a standard layout with stairs coming down the center and rooms on each side.  A sitting room was on the right, the dining room on the left.  Since Bridget had said the kitchen was behind the dining room, he moved between the table and sideboard to the door that should lead to the kitchen.
            Fighting stick in his left hand, he slowly opened the door—and froze when he was greeted by a raucous snore from inside. 
Not moving, he studied as much of the room as he could see.  The snoring man was seated on a bench by a long work table on the right, his head resting on his crossed arms.  Next to him was an empty whisky bottle and the lantern that lit the room.  The man seemed to be in a drunken sleep, so Rob decided not to retreat.  Not when he was so close to the abducted lady. 
            Silently he crossed the kitchen along the left side.  The snoring man didn’t stir when Rob passed less than six feet away. 
He reached the pantry door.  The key was in the lock, which saved him having to pick it.  The key made a slight scraping sound when he turned it. 
He held still, not even breathing, but the drunk snored on.  Praying the hinges wouldn’t squeal, he inched the door open and entered, closing it softly behind him.
A shaft of moonlight from the pantry’s high window illuminated most of the tiny room.  His first reaction was disappointment that the floor held only a clutter of sacks and boxes and broken crockery, not a sleeping captive. 
Something moved on a shelf to the left and a delicate face surrounded by a fluffy cloud of blond hair peered up at him.  Miss Sarah Clarke-Townsend looked like an adorable little golden chick.  Harmless and helpless and prey to the first fox or hawk that came along. 
Hoping she wouldn’t squeal or otherwise draw attention to them, he said in a barely inaudible voice, “Ashton sent me.  Shall we be on our way?”
            Her eyes widened like a startled kitten and she swung her feet to the floor.  “Yes!” Wrapping her ragged blanket firmly around her shoulders, she continued, “Lead on, sir!” 
            Though her voice was low, he held a finger to his lips to emphasize silence.  “There is a man sleeping in the kitchen.  We must leave very, very quietly.”
            She nodded and pulled her ragged blanket close around her.  When they got to the horses, he’d find her something warmer. 
He opened the door again and moved into the kitchen, beckoning for her to follow since the drunk was still snoring.  Silently she wafted behind him.
            They were halfway across the kitchen when disaster struck.  Something clattered to the floor and Miss Sarah gave a squeak of dismay.  As the drunk came awake with a growl, Rob saw that her trailing blanket had snagged a broom leaning against the wall and knocked it to the floor.
            The drunk’s eyes widened as he focused on them.  “The bitch is trying to escape!” he roared as he hauled himself from the table. 
            Two more heads appeared on the other side of the table.  Rob swore as he realized the men had been sleeping there out of sight.  Outnumbered three to one, Rob had only the advantage of being awake and alert.  As the two other men scrambled to their feet, Rob lunged for the drunk, who was closest.  “Run!” he barked at Miss Sarah. 
            Before the drunk could react, Rob slammed him in the temple with his fighting stick.  The man collapsed backward from the bench, sending his whiskey bottle flying to crash on the flagstone floor. 
Not pausing, Rob leaped over the table and attacked the closer of the two men,  a wiry fellow who was pulling a knife from the sheath at his waist.  Rob slugged him in the belly, then bashed the man’s head as he folded up, gasping. 
            As the wiry man collapsed, Rob swung to face the last opponent—and stopped cold when he saw the barrel of a pistol pointing at him.  As the third man cocked the weapon, he snarled in Irish, “I don’t know who you are, boyo, but say your prayers!”
            Rob was preparing to hurl himself back over the table in hopes of evading the shot when the air resonated with a deep, gong-like sound.  The armed man crumpled to the floor.  Behind him, smiling gleefully and holding a massive cast iron frying pan in both hands, was his helpless chick, looking absurdly pleased with herself. 
            Backlit by a lantern, Miss Sarah’s hair was a golden cloud shining like a halo around her exquisite face.  A crippling emotion he couldn’t name twisted inside him.  Yearning, perhaps, because in her beauty, joy, and innocence, she represented everything he’d ever loved and lost.
            The feeling passed in an instant because his job was to save her life, not wallow in his personal sorrows.  “Well done, princess.  Now it’s time we are on our way.”
            He would have preferred to bind and gag the three men, but reinforcements would arrive at any moment and he had no desire for a pitched battle.  He scooped up the dropped pistol and gestured toward the kitchen’s door to the outside. 
            “I couldn’t agree more!” she exclaimed as she darted toward their exit.
            A dozen steps brought him to the door.  He unlatched it and ushered her outside.  Once they were in the damp, chilly night air, he clasped her small hand.  “Now, princess, we run!”
Sometimes a Rogue sounds exciting, Mary Jo.  I can't wait to read it.  Thank you for being with us today.  We have enjoyed getting to know you. 

Thanks so much for having me, Sandy!

It's been my pleasure, Mary Jo.  Even though you've been sick, you have been an absolute delight to get to know. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Guest Blog: Sue Grimshaw, Editor, Random House:, flirt, New Adult, Coming of Age -- pffftttt, it's all romance to me . . .

***Sue Grimshaw is the Category Specialist & Editor at Large∙ Penguin | Random House Publishing Group | BBD - Loveswept, flirt.

Kristan Hoffman, whose novel Twenty-Somewhere, described the New Adult subgenre as:

[T]he transition from teen to adult doesn’t happen overnight . . . . There’s a period of time where adulthood feels like a new pair of shoes. The expectations of independence and self-sufficiency are still new, still being broken in. New Adults are the people who have just begun to walk in those shoes; New Adult fiction is about their blisters and aches. (as found in a recent post on Romance at
 Cute! And, it does depict what authors are writing and readers are reading . . . for the most part.

Some popular authors in this sub-genre include - Tammara Webber (Easy), Jamie McGuire (Beautiful Disaster), Colleen Hoover (Slammed), Abbi Glines (Fallen Too Far), and Cora Carmack (Losing It) - these ladies have carved the way for the rest of us --- to feel our way around and maybe even experiment a tad more in the genre --- because after all, this is a new subgenre and hey, we're readers, we don't always know what we're 'looking' for, we just know what we like - right?

So, who's to say a storyline that introduces readers to a soon-to-be college freshman who’s cashing in on her sweet reputation—and the unlikely guy who turns her life upside-down, isn't going to be a hit with readers - a story much like Cassie Mae's, FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI -


What about this standard coming of age question - What do you do when you’re head over heels for your best friend’s guy? The answer is in SWITCHED - 

But really, this is a new subgenre, why box ourselves into what the industry thinks we want to read?  Why can't we tell them what we want . . . I want different - not the same 'ole books that are being stuffed down my gullet - yes, I want angst, I want conflict, I want emotion, but I also want different stories -- I DON'T WANT my only options in books to be the same darn story retold fifty-thousand different times!

What about a New Adult spin on Pygmalion, also the inspiration for Pretty Woman, and gives the classic love story its edgiest twist yet?  Lauren Layne did this in her flirt debut, ISN'T SHE LOVELY --
Let me just say, you are going to friggin love this book!

And, what about Tracy Wolff's flirt debut in a back to back series set in Park City, Utah, where a hotshot snowboarder whose over-the-top tricks and reckless moves are thinly veiled attempts to turn his emotional suffering into physical harm. Can 'Z' try to let go of the past—and find a future with the new girl in town?  You'll have to read SHREDDED to find out. ; And don't miss book two, SHATTERED.

Subgenres typically offer selection, don't they?  Who is to say that paranormal new adult isn't something that readers will adore?  Hey, dystopian didn't hurt Suzanne Collins career . . . .

Lori Adams will debut in 2014, introducing flirt's first paranormal new adult, FORBIDDEN, the first in a connected series called THE SOULKEEPERS, a series that blends ancient legends and new myths with an enchanting mix of thrills, humor, and high drama.  Tell me this does not rock-your-socks?
"When Sophia St. James learns that she’ll be moving from Los Angeles to a podunk town somewhere in Connecticut for her senior year of high school, she isn’t expecting an otherworldly encounter. But there is more to Haven Hurst than meets the eye: it’s home to a family of Guardian Angels, and she is the only one who can see them in spirit form. Sophia soon realizes she wants to see much more of Michael, an irresistible yet volatile Guardian who seems drawn to her too.

As Michael battles his forbidden desire for the beautiful young newcomer, one of Hell’s most notorious Demon Knights arrives. Handsome and charismatic, Dante has come to claim the reincarnated soul of his lost lover trapped in Sophia. Cursed with the demon of Persuasion living inside him, Dante will use his seductive charms to lure Sophia into a dangerous game that ends with the kiss of death—unless Michael, who has captured Sophia’s heart, can now capture her soul."

But, let's not forget some of the authors that have brought us to this subgenre - one of my favorites is Monica Murphy . . . have you read:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Second Chance Boyfriend **On sale soon!  

Monica's books are heartfelt stories, that tell about second chances, forgiveness and redemption *sigh*
But wait!
Is that soooooooooooooo much different than the romances we're reading today?
I think not -- I challenge you all, stop back on November 23rd to debate this question as I introduce to you Loveswept and all of its angst!

Now, my question for today's discussion is, what is it about New Adult that you can't seem to get enough of? 
Comment now and earn a chance to be randomly chosen for a $15 EGC to the eTailer of your choice.  Happy Romance!


Friday, September 27, 2013

Self-Publishing by Janice Seagraves

Janice Seagraves

I started self-publishing after my first book, Windswept Shores, rights had been returned to me. I self-published through Amazon's createspace and kindle.

And... I’m about to do it again. I had signed on with a publisher, unfortunately the publisher decided to shut its doors, but very graciously gave me all the edits. The editor I was working with contacted me and offered me the last edits. 

And of course, I accepted.

I realize I've been very lucky, both my books are fully edited. And createspace walks you through the process. So does kindle select. There is also a cover editor. Windswept Shores cover was easy. The cover couple I bought from fotolia. The rest was just trying out different templates provided by the free cover creator until I found just the right one. 

Being an artist who has worked on the computer with a few art programs, I decided to also tackle the cover for Matrix Crystal Hunters, a SF romance set on another planet.

I bought a wonderful photo from fotolia of a handsome man who looked a lot like the hero in my story. 

And then I used photos from a trip to Three Rivers California for the background. The water at Three Rivers had been drained so they could work on the damn. The water ran through the old river bed that was still there at the bottom of the lake. Where I stood snapping photos had been roughly sixty feet of water. It looked like another world down there. 

I think the photos looks awesome behind the cover model.  
The two full moons are more recent. I took a walk a week ago down one of the almond orchard rows where I live and when I turned to walk back, I glanced into the clear blue sky and there was the moon. Full and in all it's glory. I hurried into the house and grabbed my camera.

It pays to have hobbies. J

Matrix Crystal Hunters, a science fiction romance, will be published in the first week of October, in both for the kindle and trade paperback. 

Have you self-published a book?

Have you made your own book covers?

Please tell me about your experience.


Janice Seagraves website: 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Building Castles in the Air

Ever heard the expression building castles in the air? Normally, it means that you're daydreaming about something wonderful that will never come true. Daydreams are, after all, a distraction to the reality in which we live—aren't they? You tell me. If we could never dream of a better life, would we work towards our future? Perhaps there is a great benefit to building castles in our minds.

Psychiatrists will have varying opinions, and don't even delve into what Freud would say. I have my own opinion of Freud. Most contemporary psychiatrists would probably tell you that daydreaming can be helpful for alleviating stress and awakening the creative side of your mind. Many people who are engaged in writing, painting, building, any kind of project creation, may first begin with a daydream of what that finished project can be. Then let it percolate. In the meantime, decompress.
Here is my suggestion to help with that process. Do something you haven’t done since you were a child. Lie down in the grass in your front yard and look at the sky. Is there a stream or river/lake nearby? Go to it and roll up your pant legs. Wade and splash in the water. Get wet! Pack a simple lunch and go outside somewhere isolated with a person you care about. One of the best lunches I ever had was on a motorcycle ride when we stopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway and ate on the side of the road in a grassy spot. The lunch was cheese, canned sardines on crackers with mustard and wine. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but it tasted great!
After you decompress, you will be able to create so much more. Additionally, you’ll feel more alive, or alive again and love life more.

One of my poems about Vision in my one of my inspirational releases, The Light Within, tells you that you can follow the trodden path of the daily grind or you can dream of those castles and set out to make them true:

Be true to your muse, and never let doubt,
Keep you trapped in and not acting it out.
Life is too short not to love what you do,
Chart your own course and sail it on through.

I personally feel like soaring through the sky is far more rewarding than sinking deep into a rut. Don’t you?
Bobbye Terry is an award-winning author of more than two dozen novels in the mystery/suspense, fantasy and dystopian fiction genres and five inspirational books in nonfiction. She also writes as Daryn Cross. Her latest novel is Nothing Ever Happens in Briny Bay and her most recent nonfiction release is In the Stillness. She looks up at the stars and wades in the water often,

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Interview of Author Venus Cahill

Today I'd like to present an interview of romance author Venus Cahill.

Latest Book: Cupcakes For My Birthday
Buy Link: Amazon

You can blame my parents for my love of reading and my personality! My first vivid memory is of my mother sitting me down on the potty with a book in my hands. Ever since then I will read anything available including extremely outdated magazines and shampoo bottles (rinse and repeat). As far as my personality, when you are named for an amatory Roman Goddess you can’t help but start reading Harlequin novels when your classmates are still reading Judy Blume.

When I was a teen my father used to yell at me to get outside in the fresh air and I would have to sneak a book down my pant-leg, which was no easy task seeing as I was (and still am) a supreme klutz who trips over her own feet at least twice a day.

I usually have a minimum of four books on the go at the same time. I read fiction and non-fiction anything I can get my hands on; I love kilted hotties, demons with hearts of gold, and shape shifting Alpha males. My favorite heroines are curvy gals, after all I find them easy to relate to. However my favorites are happily-ever-after romances.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: I told my mom. She has always been my biggest supporter. She is so proud of me, she tells the world that her daughter is an author. She got me a cake to celebrate and she continues to support me every day.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: I’m not sure if you can call it a hobby but I love watching old TV on DVD. I adore Murder she Wrote and Matlock and all those oldies. My family always joked that I was the only person under the age of 20 that watched JB Fletcher solve crimes every week.

Q: What is your favorite romance book that you’ve read?
A: I have so many favorite authors which include Ashlyn Chase, Cindy Spencer Pape, Lissa Matthews but one book that I have read over and over and over again is A Model Marriage by Jo Ann Ferguson. I’ve had the copy for so long that it is basically falling apart. It was the first romance I read where the heroine was a curvy gal and it just called to me.

Q: You’re on a remote island with a handsome man/beautiful woman (you choose which one), a computer, and a “mysterious” source of electricity to power your computer. What do you do?
A: Of course, I’d be writing. And the handsome man would provide me with inspiration and hopefully support and if conditions are too rough a way off the island. If conditions are like paradise he can make sure I am well taken care of.

Q: What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
A: I’d like to try Steampunk at some point. When I was younger I used to watch television with my father and I remember watching steampunk-type shows with him about time travelling-professors meeting up with dinosaurs and such. It would be a nice way to honour the time spent with him and perhaps he would then know what it is I write about.

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Blogs, Chats, or Twitter. Which do you like best and why?
A: I’m just getting the hang of twitter but I’m not so tech savvy so I’d have to say Facebook because where else can I connect with friends family and fans and still have the chance to play Candy Crush Saga – curses to whoever sent me that invite!

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!

Venus Cahill: ~Where the Curvy girl gets her man~!/venusbookluvr

Karen is a curvy girl who leads a rather staid life that is until she decides to get a tattoo on her birthday. Now she finds herself experiencing more excitement than she has ever had in her entire life. Hunter has been fantasizing about his new neighbour for months but he can’t tell if she’s just too shy or not interested. When she walks into his tattoo parlour he decides that it’s finally time to find out and to make his move. Can two people from different worlds come together and find true love?

Without warning, he swooped in and gave me a quick squeeze before going back to his food. “Cupcakes. Everybody deserves cupcakes for their birthday!”

I was torn. I wanted to tell him that today wasn’t actually my birthday, but I didn’t want to make him feel embarrassed over his sweet gesture, so I decided to settle in and enjoy the time I had with him. If it was possible, we had somehow gotten closer as the movie progressed. Hunter stretched his arm casually over the back of the sofa and around my shoulders. He’d shown a genuine interest in me. I found myself telling him how I’d moved here on a whim, looking for something different, but ended up living almost exactly as I had before, although now I had no family or close friends around. I found out he was as much of a workaholic as I, choosing to spend most of his time at the shop and only really working on his car as a hobby.

“I don’t tend to go out very often either. Don’t tell anyone but I’d much rather stay home and watch my sci-fi DVD collection. My brother Jesse, thinks I’m an old fuddy duddy, but I’m just not into the party scene. I’m two years older than he but he makes me feel like we’re more like two decades apart.”

Hunter’s eyes sparkled as he laughed, “I went to a club with him last week and I swear my ears are still ringing. It was so loud and I didn’t enjoy myself at all. All these women were screaming in my ear, trying to talk to me and yet I couldn’t hear a thing. How the heck are you supposed to meet someone when you can’t even talk to them?”

My first reaction was that he was obviously feeding me a line but he was so genuine about everything else, I didn’t know why he would lie about it. “I’m too shy to even approach someone at a club, even if I could bring myself to go. But you’re right, there is no way you can actually carry on a conversation with anyone with all the noise.” I felt the blush rise up my face and I smirked before continuing, “But I doubt most of the people going there are looking for a relationship, although I’m sure many of them get exactly what they are looking for. There had to have been a lot of beautiful women there willing to get to know you better.”

I was expecting him to joke about it but his gorgeous eyes were so serious, “I’m not going to lie, I could have definitely had company that night, had I wanted it. It’s not like I’m a priest, but I had someone else on my mind. In fact I’ve had someone else on my mind for about four months.”

“You really mean that don’t you?” I shouldn’t have been so surprised as I was practically cuddled into his side.

He frowned but then smiled, “You’re amazing! You are so sweet, so real and you really don’t play games. Your emotions are right there, displaying on your face, your beautiful face.” I fought the urge to pull away when he gently traced the freckles on my cheek, across the bridge of my nose and onto the next cheek. His fingers were slightly rough but his touch was so slight, it was almost reverent. I’d never felt so nervous in my whole life, I actually held my breath and forced myself to keep from breaking eye contact with him. My stomach fluttered and I hadn’t even realized I’d leaned forward. “I can read exactly how you are feeling in your eyes, so expressive, so beautiful.”

Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you so much for having me!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Girls' Series & Their Influence

How many of you were fans of girls’, or guys’, mystery series when you were teens? I’m talking about Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Cherry Ames, Trixie Belden, Vicki Barr, Connie Blair, The Dana Girls. I read them all, including The Hardy Boys, but my hands-down favorite was one you probably never heard of, Judy Bolton.
Nancy Drew was the most popular of the girls’ series. However, I always root for the underdog and I like to be contrary. So while most other girls were reading Nancy, I didn’t much like her, mainly because she was popular, wealthy, and self-assured. I discovered Judy Bolton, and fell in love with her and her friends. Judy, the daughter of a doctor, lived in a small town in upstate New York. Like Nancy, and the others in the girls’ and guys’ series, she solved mysteries.
I related to Judy because she wasn’t rich and perfect and beautiful like Nancy and she didn’t drive a cute roadster or have an adoring boyfriend. Judy had faults and she frequently made mistakes. While Judy Bolton wasn’t as well-known as Nancy Drew, Judy now has a cult following. A while back I belonged to a Judy Bolton Fans Yahoo loop. Many of the members make annual trips to the town in New York that was the model for Judy’s hometown. They even reenact scenes from some of her stories. I love the books but I wouldn’t go that far. I have almost a complete set of Judy books that I collected in the Fifties and early Sixties. Although Amazon now sells reissued Judy books, the originals are rare. Whenever I go to flea markets, I look for them. I find copies of all the other series, even Nancy Drew, but never any Judy Bolton.
Judy grew up during the course of the books, and when she was eighteen, she married a guy she’d known her whole life, Peter Dobbs. Peter was five years older, and a personification of truth, justice and the American way. He became an FBI agent, or G-man, as they were called back then. The romance between Judy and Peter started my love of romance and happy endings. I had a crush on Peter and wanted to marry a man just like him. The heroes and heroines in my books all have a little of Peter and Judy in them.

At the same time I was reading Judy Bolton, I devoured the YA historical romances of Elizabeth Howard. While her books were historicals, her heroines all had something in common with Judy: they were spirited and independent, and while not the most beautiful or the richest women, they weren’t afraid to go after what they wanted. I’m in the process now of buying my favorite Elizabeth Howard books from used online booksellers. The few I have so far are in honored places on my bookshelves.
Judy Bolton and Howard’s heroines greatly influenced the type books I write. My heroines may not be so astoundingly beautiful that they literally stop traffic, but they are beautiful in eyes of the men who love them. Of course, my heroes are always drop-dead gorgeous. No matter their looks, my heroines and heroes have faults and doubts, and things haven’t always come easy for them. I love to put my characters in dangerous situations or situations merely dangerous to their hearts and watch them fight for the happy endings they deserve. Just like Judy and Peter. And in the course of fighting for what they want, they grow and learn valuable lessons and open their hearts to the love they crave.
What about you writers out there—what books did you read that influenced what you write? The same for you readers—did the books you read as teens influence what you read today?

 My latest release is Love Potion, a short paranormal romance from Boroughs Publishing Group. Only 99 cents everywhere. Just in time for Halloween. 
For uptight veterinarian Nicole Caruso, a fortuneteller's prediction, a vial of gold liquid, a handsome man with secrets and some very strange happenings prove there's no escaping the magic of love.
Twitter: @caramarsi

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Interview of NY Times best selling author, Diana Gabaldon

Hello readers, writers and everyone else who has stumbled upon us today. It’s a special day here at Romance Books 4 Us because we have New York Times best-selling author, Diana Gabaldon visiting us. Get comfy, because Diana is about to share with us a little bit about her work, herself and some exciting things she has happening in her world. 

***For more information about Diana Gabaldon, visit her author page at
Thanks for stopping by today, Diana. I know the readers are Romance Books 4 Us have been eagerly awaiting this interview to learn more about you! 
Q: I read that in addition to your extensive degrees that you actually served as a university professor for over ten years. Did teaching young minds help mold you as a writer?
Well, no. I was a scientist. My degrees are all in the biological sciences (I have a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology) and I was primarily a research professor. I did teach classes fairly often, substituting for professors on sabbatical, or teaching hugely popular classes that needed more than one professor to accommodate the number of students—and I like teaching very much, but my being a university professor had nothing to do with my writing.
(I should modify that, maybe, by noting that any form of writing is good, in that it gives one confidence and skill, but beyond the basic nuts and bolts of sentence construction, grammar and punctuation—which I had by the fifth grade (I went to a Catholic parochial school)—the skills required to write fiction aren’t quite the same as the ones needed to write an elegantly coherent scientific paper.)
Q: Was it difficult to make the transition from educator to best-selling author?  Or was it a smooth transfer of roles?
Well, I’d been writing a novel while working at the university, so really, all I did was resign when my university contract came up for renewal, soon after I’d sold my first book and got a three-book contract with it.
As for the “best-selling” part, though…in all the recent kerfuffle about the new Starz tv series based on the books, that’s kind of come into stark perspective. As I told the lovely young Scottish actor who’ll be playing Jamie (Sam Heughan is his name), “for me, it was like boiling a frog—I started as a complete nobody and got semi-famous very slowly over the course of years. They’re gonna throw you in at the hot end.”
Q:  Is there anything you took from that experience to be help you to become the writer you are today?
Everything writers see, think, and experience influences their work. How could it not? Now, it's true that people do ask writers, "Where do you get your ideas?" and that writers--out of facetiousness or desperation--give answers like, "From the Sears catalog" (or "From," depending on the writer's vintage). But the truth is that writers get ideas from everything they see, hear, smell, touch, taste, think, feel, or do—including the books they read.
Naturally, one wants to develop a unique voice, but do kids learn to talk without ever being talked to? You have an individual voice, by virtue of being an individual. And your individuality is composed of your essential God-given spark of personality and of the sum total of the things you encounter in life. Now, whether each encounter is a bruising collision or a fruitful act of love…who knows? But all of it is grist to a writer's mill; so much should be obvious, if one reads at all widely.      
Q:  You’ve had dozens of releases throughout the years, but one series has truly taken on a life of its own. Your Outlander Series of books has delighted readers for years. With the first book in this series, aptly named Outlander as well, did you know then that it would become all that it has? Or did this take you by complete surprise?   
Err…possibly you’ve mistaken me for someone much more prolific. I haven’t had “dozens of releases” and in fact, I’ve only written the OUTLANDER series. Granted, I’m working on  my 14th book, but I’ve been a novelist for 23 years; not really blinding speed, I mean.
But to answer your  essential question, no, I didn’t. I wrote OUTLANDER for practice, in order to learn how to write a novel. I didn’t intend to show it to anyone, let alone try to publish it. But Things Happened, and…here we all are, much to my amazement, with (my agent tells me) 25 million books in print in 38 countries, and a cable-TV show (to be aired on the Starz channel and its licensees in various countries) about to begin filming in Scotland this September. Who expects that sort of stuff?!?
Just goes to show that if you keep working, eventually you get somewhere, I suppose.
Q: With the Outlander series, or any of your books, do you ever find it difficult to come up with new and exciting characters to draw us in? Or have you found a trick to keep things fresh and exciting?  
Heck, no. To both questions. I seldom (if ever) “come up” with characters, in the sense of deliberately constructing one. People just come along and talk to me…and I listen. I show up for work, and so do they.
As to tricks, really no. It’s just a combination of imagination and research. I’m not writing novels in any particular genre, so am not bound by the standard genre forms and expectations; I’m free to explore the lives and times of the characters, and follow the evolving shape of each story. As it is, while the series does deal with an ensemble of continuing characters, these people change with life and circumstance, and each book is unique in structure, tone, approach, and theme.
I don’t like to do things I’ve done before.
Q: Have you ever considered trying a new sub-genre? Are there any that interest you which you haven’t tried yet?
What is this word, sub-genre…? Given the name and focus of your blog,  I, um, kind of assume that you’re assuming that I write romance novels. I don’t—as anyone who does would gladly tell you. (I like romance novels, and I certainly read enough of them to know that’s not what I write.)
As I said above, I wrote OUTLANDER for practice. That being so, I wondered what might be the easiest sort of book to write—no point in making things hard. After a bit of thought, I decided that a historical novel might be the easiest thing to write for practice; I was a research professor; I knew my way around a library. It seemed (I thought) easier to look things up than to make them up…and if I turned out to have no imagination, I could steal things from the historical record. (This works really well, btw…)
But since it was for practice, when Claire Beauchamp Randall showed up on the third day (up ‘til then, all I had was a man in a kilt) and started making smart-ass modern remarks (and also took over and started telling the story herself), I said, “Hey, I’m not going to fight with you all the way through this book. No one’s ever going to see this; it doesn’t matter what bizarre thing I do—go ahead and be modern, I’ll figure out where you came from later.” So it’s all her fault that there’s time-travel in these books.
All that being so…I made no attempt whatever to make the book conform to any kind of genre; I used elements and literary devices from all the sorts of books I liked—and I like a lot of different kinds of books.
Consequently…the marketing people had a hell of a time trying to sell the book, twenty years ago, long before electronic book-selling loosened the descriptive requirements.
And in further consequence…the books have been nominated for several Rita Awards,* as well as the SFWA’s Nebula Awards,  a Quill Award for “science-fiction/fantasy/horror” (I actually won that one, beating out both George R.R. Martin and Stephen King), an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and the Corine International Prize for Fiction. I won that one, too, which was Very Cool, and got to go to Germany to accept it on Bavarian television, which was also very cool, though Somewhat Fraught… 

The theater where they held the award ceremony was a recently restored historic opera house, with the original wooden folding seats. I was elegantly attired in chiffon evening trousers and beaded tank, with a long silk coat with Oriental poppies on it over all—and two small electronic boxes clipped to my pants in back: one was a transmitter for the translation (as the proceedings were in German) and the other was the transmitter for my lavaliere mike. I was last on the program, and after squirming around on my seat for an hour, one of the boxes had worked loose and fallen down between the seat and its back--a fact I discovered when they called my name and I leapt up, only to discover that I was tethered to my seat by the box's wire. I succeeded--with frantic yanking--in getting the damn thing out of the seat (as the camera dollied in on me), but there was no way I was going to stand there in full view of Bavaria, stuffing it back into my pants. So I raced up onstage with it in my hand, hoping people would think it a small, chic evening bag of some kind.
Nobody seemed to notice (or were too polite to ask me what the heck?), and aside from the difficulty of juggling the box, a gigantic bouquet of Russian sunflowers (any one of which was the size of my head), and the prize--a limited edition porcelain figurine made by the Nymphenburg pottery and designed by Miuccia Prada--while facing an honest-to-goodness phalanx of flashbulbs, the evening worked out well.
*In re the Rita Awards…as I said, various of the books have been nominated several times, in various categories. In almost all cases, scores came back as either a 6 (“I wish I’d written this book myself”) or a 0 (“It doesn’t matter how good it is, it isn’t a romance”).   The only time I did win a Rita, it was for a category called “Best Book of the Year,” which—at that time—was not limited to the romance genre, and which was voted on by the membership, rather than by a panel of  judges.
Q: Out of all your books, is there one that still calls to you? Maybe one book that you wouldn’t mind picking up again, and maybe telling a new chapter to their already told tale?
Ahh…you haven’t actually read my books, have you? That’s perfectly fine, no requirement….
The OUTLANDER series (and the Lord John novels, which are not a separate series, but an integral part of the larger OUTLANDER series; also a number of novellas dealing with backstory, subsidiary characters and lacunae in the larger books) deals with the ongoing lives and times of a number of people; each book or novella contains new chapters to the existing tale—but it is essentially all one big story.
If there’s something I want to write, I write it; that’s about the size of it. 
Q: Your characters all seem to have one thing in common. They have incredible charisma. How do you keep your mind constantly flowing to come out with these characters which make us laugh and smile?
It’s called “work.”
Really. Some days, it “flows”—and some days, writing is like pushing rocks uphill…with your nose. You just show up, though, and do your best, and eventually, the characters start showing up, too.
Q: The word out on the cyber street is that Written In My Own Heart’s Blood is being released in March 2014. This will be the eighth book in the Outlander series. Can you share a small excerpt or teaser with us on this one?
Copyright 2013 Diana Gabaldon
          William had left the house like a thunderclap, and the place looked as though it had been struck by lightning.  I certainly felt like the survivor of a massive electrical storm; hairs and nerve endings all standing up straight on end, waving in agitation.
          Jenny Murray had entered the house on the heels of William’s departure, and while the sight of her was a lesser shock than any of the others so far, it still left me speechless.  I goggled at my erstwhile sister-in-law—though come to think, she still was my sister-in-law…because Jamie was alive.  Alive
He’d been in my arms not ten minutes before, and the memory of his touch flickered through me like lightning in a bottle.  I was dimly aware that I was smiling like a loon, despite massive destruction, horrific scenes, William’s distress—if you could call an explosion like that “distress”—Jamie’s danger, and a faint wonder as to what either Jenny or Mrs. Figg, Lord John’s cook and housekeeper, might be about to say.
          Mrs. Figg was smoothly spherical, gleamingly black, and inclined to glide silently up behind one like a menacing ball-bearing.
          "What's this?" she barked, manifesting herself suddenly behind Jenny.
          "Holy Mother of God!"  Jenny whirled, eyes round and hand pressed to her chest.  "Who in God's name are you?"
          "This is Mrs. Figg," I said, feeling a surreal urge to laugh, despite--or maybe because of--recent events.  "Lord John Grey's cook.  And Mrs. Figg, this is Mrs. Murray.  My,"
          "Your good-sister," Jenny said firmly.  She raised one black eyebrow.  "If ye'll have me, still?"  Her look was straight and open, and the urge to laugh changed abruptly into an equally strong urge to burst into tears.  Of all the unlikely sources of succor I could have imagined...  I took a deep breath and put out my hand.
          "I'll have you."  We hadn’t parted on good terms in Scotland, but I had loved her very much, once, and wasn’t about to pass up any opportunity to mend things.
          Her small firm fingers wove through mine, squeezed hard, and as simply as that, it was done.  No need for apologies or spoken forgiveness. She'd never had to wear the mask that Jamie did.  What she thought and felt was there in her eyes, those slanted blue cat-eyes she shared with her brother.   She knew the truth now, of what I was—and knew I loved—had always loved--her brother with all my heart and soul--despite the minor complications of my being presently married to someone else.
          She heaved a sigh, eyes closing for an instant, then opened them and smiled at me, mouth trembling only a little.
          "Well, fine and dandy," said Mrs. Figg, shortly.  She narrowed her eyes and rotated smoothly on her axis, taking in the panorama of destruction.  The railing at the top of the stair had been ripped off, and cracked banisters, dented walls, and bloody smudges marked the path of William's descent.  Shattered crystals from the chandelier littered the floor, glinting festively in the light that poured through the open front door, the door itself cracked through and hanging drunkenly from one hinge.
          "Merde on toast," Mrs. Figg murmured.  She turned abruptly to me, her small black-currant eyes still narrowed.  "Where's his lordship?"
          "Ah," I said.  This was going to be rather sticky, I saw.  While deeply disapproving of most people, Mrs. Figg was devoted to John.  She wasn't going to be at all pleased to hear that he'd been abducted by--
          "For that matter, where's my brother?" Jenny inquired, glancing round as though expecting Jamie to appear suddenly out from under the settee.
          "Oh," I said.  "Hm.  Well..."  Possibly worse than sticky.  Because...
          "And where's my Sweet William?" Mrs. Figg demanded, sniffing the air.  "He's been here; I smell that stinky cologne he puts on his linen."  She nudged a dislodged chunk of plaster disapprovingly with the toe of her shoe.
          I took another long, deep breath, and a tight grip on what remained of my sanity.
          Mrs. Figg," I said, "perhaps you would be so kind as to make us all a cup of tea?"
Q:  In June of this year your readers were treated with the fantastic news that Starz gave a green light for the Outlander series to hit the screen. As a reader and fan I know I am very excited to see it once it hits Starz network. With shooting just getting underway this month we can only imagine how exciting this may be for you. Can you tell us how you’re dealing with all of the excitement? Have you caught yourself jumping up and down on the bed? Or maybe occasionally giving yourself a pinch?
Well, my first reaction was extreme wariness. I’ve been through a number of option deals before. Now, an option essentially means that a production company offers you a modest amount of money for a period of time, during which they have the exclusive right to try to assemble the necessary (financing, a script, a director, etc.) to actually make a movie or television show.
If the option expires without that happening…you get it back. You can then extend the option period to the original production company (if you want to), sell it to someone else, or just decide you don’t want to do that right now. 
If the production company does succeed in putting together a deal (Very Long Odds, believe me)…the option contract provides for a set purchase price for the actual film rights. Once they’ve paid that, they’ve bought the film rights—and they own them forever.  And can, basically, do any damn thing they want to with them. Which means you want to be pretty dang careful who you deal with.
I must say, though, that I’ve been Amazed at our good luck in falling into the hands of Jim Kohlberg (the executive producer, who persevered for nearly four years, through several execrable movie scripts, before finally putting together the deal with Starz) and Ron D. Moore, the other executive producer and show-runner.  Ron and his associate, Maril Davis, came out to my house in Scottsdale and spent two days with me, talking over the books, the characters, the storylines, their ideas regarding adaptation, etc. I was more than impressed, and very heartened at their willingness to include me in the process.
That inclusion has continued; they’re remarkably kind about showing me things and asking my opinion (though they aren’t legally compelled to take my advice <g>). I’ve seen the pilot script—which, as I told them, was the only script I’ve seen based on my work that didn’t make me either turn white or burst into flames—and am thrilled with their casting choices (I’ve seen the audition tapes for the main characters, Jamie Fraser, Claire Randall, and Frank/Black Jack Randall, and they were Just Phenomenal).
The show begins filming in Scotland pretty soon, and with luck, will likely air sometime around next April.  Can’t wait!
Thank you so much for joining us today, Diana. I’m sure all the readers here will agree with me that we will be anxiously awaiting the Outlander series as it hits our television screens. While he might have to wait a year until it all comes together, we’ll have the March 2014 release of Written In My Own Heart’s Blood to tide us over until then.

BLURB for Written In My Own Heart’s Blood
The wait is nearly over—Claire and Jamie’s story continues in the next thrilling book in Diana Gabaldon’s multimillion bestselling Outlander series. Written in My Own Heart’s Blood follows Gabaldon’s characters through revolutionary Philadelphia and onto the battlefields, as Jamie makes a dramatic return to Claire’s side, a new army sweeps the city, and romance and violence brew. This enthralling adventure carries us through betrayal and redemption, death and danger, and through the perilous waves of a family’s loves and loyalties.
Readers, don’t forget to check out all Diana’s work by visiting her website. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

          Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as "the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting "Scrooge McDuck" comics."
          The adventure began in 1991 with the best-selling classic, OUTLANDER, and has continued through seven more New York Times-bestselling novels--DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, VOYAGER, DRUMS OF AUTUMN, THE FIERY CROSS, A BREATH OF SNOW AND ASHES, and AN ECHO IN THE BONE (plus THE EXILE, an OUTLANDER graphic novel), with twenty-five million copies in print worldwide.  She is presently working on the eighth novel in the series, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD. 
          The series is published in 38 countries and 34 languages, and includes a nonfiction (well, relatively) companion volume, THE OUTLANDISH COMPANION, which provides details on the settings, background, characters, research, and writing of the novels.  (A second volume of the COMPANION is in progress, which will cover Books 5-8 of the main series, plus the Lord John Grey novels and other novellas and short pieces.)

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