Thursday, April 24, 2008

Having my cake

Not RT. This was yesterday. It was my birthday and DH spoiled me. He took me out to a very nice oceanside restaurant where I had swordfish *YUM* and then we came home and he had a birthday cake waiting for me. He sent roses to work earlier this week, and gave me a very nice bracelet. The regular party is this weekend with friends.

I had a good birthday... got a massage, spent time at the beach writing, after which I realized I need a new Alpha Smart so I ordered the Neo, which Stacey Klemstein and I tried out at RT and really liked.

RT was great... and I think one big highlight for me was the news that Stacey has gotten an agent. YAY! It's always thrilling when friends and authors you know are very talented have great news to share.

I'm so glad I got to hook up with old friends again... and see people I seldom ever see during the year, Cindy Cruciger (who cracked me up with her shrimp fork joke about MJD) Renee Bernard, Linnea Sinclair, Stacey, and many others.

I did blog for RT, but they never ran my blog, for whatever reason. I had interviewed Ryan Gardener and his girlfriend Pamela. Pamela is very nice and very supportive of Ryan and was there to support him.

It was interesting visiting Lady Barrow's suite. Lovely view, but the pipes were sticking out of the wall where there should have been a wet bar, another reminder that the construction was not done.

For all the hassles with the hotel, I have to say the staff were extremely courteous and very accomodating, at least in my experience.

And having said that... I'll tell you this... I'm now sick. Some upper respiratory infection that has me wheezing and coughing. Thanks, Hilton Hotels, for all your mold and dust...

I'm going offline for a while to try to recover and to play catch up with the writing... maybe if I get very ambitious I'll actually make my goal of writing 5,000 words by Sunday... if I don't cough up a lung in the process, lol.

RT 2006?

I think this was RT 2006 as well, Chris Keeslar and Diane Stacy at the Dorchester Roaring 20's party. My editor in a zoot suit. Wonder if he ever wears it to work...

RT 2006

Here's a memory lane shot I tossed in... EC cover models from Daytona 2006. That was the RT where I drove... and brought my blender to have a rum runner party in the room. Good times.


At this RT, I made a point of going outside the dust and mold of the hotel to see a little of the city. I like Pittsburgh, what little I saw of it. These tulips and a red-breasted (orange-breasted?) robin were a treat for this former Jersey girl.

Fairy ball

Fairy ball, where knights in shining mesh kissed the hands of winged women...

Mark Johnson

Always a treat... great sense of humor. Sang a song about God during the cover model competition, which was pretty cool.

Mr. Romance being romantic

Chris Winters, Mr. Romance 2008, demonstrating how he is romantic during the Cover Model Competition.

Some of the authors who write for Silhouette Nocturne. It was fun having breakfast and meeting them. From left to right: Rhyannon Byrd, Patrice Michelle, Bonnie Vanak, Caridad Pineriro, and Vivi Anna.

More RT photos

RT senior reviewer Kathe Robin at the Fairy Ball. I think I must have burned her retinas with this photo.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Emily Bryan

Emily Bryan (Distracting the Duchess, Dorchester) was up on stage for the Mr. Romance contest and got her hand kissed by a judge who is a former Mr. Romance. Emily also had Ryan Gardener portray her hero from PLEASURING THE PIRATE, her upcoming release this summer.

How many authors can say they had their hand kissed by Mr. Romance?

More photos

Renee Bernard and Kathryn Falk at RT, at Renee and Robin Schone's Victorian hour. Robin couldn't be there due to a family emergency, but Renee did a fabulous job demonstrating the port and chocolate "shimmer." She and Robin gave away a pearl necklace that Renee is wearing.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Going home

Cover model contestants from RT 2008.

I have no tact, I had them say BOOBIES when I took this shot.

Bobbi Smith was doing a fundraiser for SOS, take your photo with the guys and make a donation. Bobbi... I can't say enough about her. She's very nice, warm, outgoing and just a good person.

There are a lot of good people in romanceland. Authors, readers, publishers, reviewers, etc. I met CL Wilson, who lives in my home state, and her mom. Readers Kitty and her daughter Nikki. Kitty is an artist who does beautiful paintings. Nikki writes poetry and we were trying to encourage her to write short stories. I met Isabo, who is just the greatest person.

There's a blur of names and faces right now my tired brain can't remember.

I do remember someone telling me that at the book fair when the lights went out, someone yelled. WHERE ARE THE MEN? (hiding in fear, I'd say) And someone told me she'd handed a book to Brenda Novak to sign and the lights went out and Brenda signed it by the light of her cell phone.

Gotta love the innovation at these conventions.

Getting up this a.m. was pure torture. My eyeballs felt glued shut. I had to pack. I went to bed at 1 and got up at 6. I managed to pack all, and eventually got downstairs.

In the lobby I saw my editor, and got to say goodbye to him. I told him I was afraid my suitcase would go over the weight limit.

He asked, "Why?"

I said, "I have an Ellora's Cave cover model in here."

I'm at the airport now, trying to wake up and make use of down time to upload and sort out photos because I know as soon as I get home it will be back in the home mode. I have to go to work at the day job tomorrow. Something amusing for me at this conference was talking to other authors and having them be stunned that I write for two houses and work FT. They said they don't know how I do it.

I don't, either.

RT 2008 was fun, tiring, and an interesting experience. I'm in a period now of introspection, trying to make decisions about the future. I was at Mona's booth at Club RT, the woman who sells gorgeous shawls and jewelry, and looking over the jewelry. I met Celeste Bradley, talked with her for about 5 minutes about jewelry. I bought a pair of turquoise earrings. Certain stones carry certain properties with them, and turquoise, which I love, is supposed to bring clarity and good fortune.

I'm not seeing either now, but there is always hope.

Though the booksigning for me yesterday was meh, and a disappointment, I'm glad I did it just to meet people who wanted to meet me. There weren't that many, but it was very gratifying to meet them. I appreciate every reader who takes a chance on my books.

And it's so validating as an author to hear a reader say, "thank you." I met one woman who told me she has horrid migraines and the books she reads help her though the pain.

The publishing world is like a roller coaster. Authors have ups and downs. You put out a book, cross your fingers and pray and hope it sells. Books you think are probably doing great sometimes end up not selling that well. Or you get really crappy reviews, and the book ends up doing well.

If I had to compare it to anything, it is a lot like modeling. Some get great gigs and do well, and have skyrocketing careers. Others get some bread and butter gigs, and others get one or two modeling jobs and they struggle.

If you're very lucky and very talented, you can make a real career out of being a romance author. So much of this business, and I heard it again and again at this conference, is luck and timing.

And if you're lucky, you do okay, and have the gratification of meeting readers who thank you for writing the books you love to write.

That is probably the best thing, for me at least, about being an author. I'm grateful for every reader who takes a chance on my books. I'll never be a "superstar" author, but I'm glad there are readers who like my books, and I'm glad I got to write the books I really love to write.

And having Jimmy portray the hero from THE SCORPION AND THE SEDUCER was a real highlight for me. I've never had a cover model portray my hero in the competition. And I've never been escorted into the competition and had a front row seat, as if I were someone special.

Now it's back to my darling hubby, whom I really miss, the dogs, the day job and reality. I'm glad I'm going home. RT is like an escape from reality in a way. You can go there and for a few days or the whole week, feel totally in another world with fairy balls, and cover models and authors and publishers and readers and booksellers.

And if you're really lucky, you have a lot of great memories to take back home with you. Or a cover model or two in your suitcase. :-)

Jimmy Gaskin and Kris, an Aussie bookseller. Kris was great, so much fun, very outgoing. She's one of the reasons I'm glad I went to this RT ... getting to meet people like Kris who just really enjoy themselves and life.

Chris and Barbara

Barbara Vey of Publisher's Weekly blog, and my Dorchester editor, Chris Keeslar. They both judged the competition last night.

From last night's cover model competition

Cindy Holby and Jade Lee onstage with the guys, the "men of steel."

I'm so glad I backed out of being up there, backed back into the ballroom very slowly. It was lots of fun watching from the audience, but I'd be sweating if I were up there.

Bertice Small, Jade Lee and Moi. I was so humbled to meet Bertrice, who is like, wow. Just awed.

Went to the Dorchester bookseller party,then the Dorchester party. Then downstairs and JC Wilder was playing "baseball bar" and cracking up Isobo, and Jennifer Dunne and myself. BATTERUP!!!

OMG, those ladies crack me up. I'm so glad I got to spend time with them.

Now off to bed to figure out how I can pack and get everything under 50 pounds for tomorrow's plane ride home.... oy.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jimmy Gaskin took second place!

Here he is playing Lord Thomas Claradon from THE SCORPION AND THE SEDUCER. It was pretty cool. The MC read the black blurb as Jimmy did his scene, and they showed my book cover onscreen as well. Yay!

It was pretty funny when Jade Lee's hero was onstage, she was sitting next to me and laughing and laughing as they read the back blurb.

The competition was a lot of fun. I was standing in line with two booksellers when Diane pulled me out because Dorchester had reserved seats right up front for our authors. So I went in and sat right behind the judge's table. And I got to meet BERTRICE SMALL! She was a judge... omg, it was so cool. I've corresponded with her and she had given me a quote for my book, THE TIGER AND THE TOMB, and wanted to meet her, but the booksigning was too crowded and I was too busy.

She told me, "I love your books."

OMG, what a great compliment! I have a photo of Jade, Bertrice and me I'll try to upload later.

The competition was not started yet when Bobbi Smith yanks me and Jade and Marjorie Liu outside and we're standing there and find out that they needed 10 women to be "extras" in the show with the contestants. Marjorie and I look at each other and shrink back and we're like "uh, uh, goodbye!" I'm much too shy and have stagefright to get on stage. So we sat back down and got lots of pictures instead, lol.

Now it's the Dorchester private party for booksellers. Lots of people are at the cover model reunion, where Adrian Paul is supposed to be, and yes he is here, I met a guy who rode down on the elevator with him. I just want to see him, even if it's from a distance. Sigh...

Mr. Romance 2008

Chris Winters!

Colby Hodge's guy who played her hero from her cover.

John DeSalvo

Here he is at the Book Fair, RT, posing with my first book, THE FALCON & THE DOVE, which just went back to print. John was the cover model.

I'm giving away this book, which he signed and I will sign as well, in a drawing to celebrate the release of THE SCORPION & THE SEDUCER, the sixth book in my Egyptian historical series.

Who turned off the lights?

Book Fair is OVER. My eyeballs are drier than the Sahara.

It was a lesson in making lemonade out of lemons.

The day started great with having breakfast with Patrice Michele, Caridad Pineiro, Vivi Anna, Rhyannon Byrd and Pam Palmer, my fellow Nocturne authors. We chatted about everything, and then took photos and went to get ready for the signing.

I get into the ballroom and I see authors whose names are so familiar to me, like JR Ward, and many others. I stopped to say hello to Leigh Greenwood, one of the few men here besides my editor who isn't a cover model.

I really wanted to stroll the aisles and do the squee! fangirl thing with authors like Mary Balough and Mary Jo Putney (sigh!) and Betrice Small, who had given me a great quote for my second book, THE TIGER & THE TOMB. But there was no time because...

There was a little problem with my books. (insert sarcastic note here)

I found out that THE SCORPION & THE SEDUCER, my brand new book... was there. BUT... for some reason, the bookseller refused to sell it because of something, I forget what.

I also had THE FALCON & THE DOVE, my very first book, that Dorchester went back into print on. Again, the bookseller could not sell it.

Instead I had The Sword & the Sheath and my Nocturne, The Empath, for sale.

I was pretty floored... and let me tell you... having Dorchester people like Diane Stacy, Erin, and Renee are three very good reasons I'm glad I write for them. They were so accomodating and helpful.

Diane told me it was up to me. I could give the books away or she could ship them back.

I told Diane I was going to give the books away. Do a BOGO. Buy Sword, or my Nocturne, get a free Falcon or Seducer.

And so that is what I did... and when I saw booksellers, I gave them a free book to give away in their store. I cross promoted. If someone bought a Nocturne, I gave them a free copy of Falcon and I told them I also write historicals. I have six books out in the Khamsin series, so maybe they might get hooked.

It was hugely disappointing to have my new book there and not be able to sell it, but I figured I was damn going to make lemons out of lemonade. And I'm glad I did. I met some very nice people, readers who wanted to meet me, which is always great, and I gave away free books.

This is a crazy business... and sometimes crazy things happen way beyond your control. So I try to make the best of them. Other authors sold out. I guess you might say I gave out, lol

And while the 3-hour book fair is going on, I see John DeSalvo across the aisle from me. I asked Erin and Diane for a favor.

And I have a photo of John holding a copy of The Falcon & the Dove, my very first book, and the one where he was the cover model. He signed the book.

I'm going to sign it as well and give it away in a drawing on my website or Fresh Fiction to one lucky reader.

Lemons out of lemonade.

At exactly 2 p.m. the lights went out. Literally. The entire ballroom of 300 or so authors went dark.

Everyone went OOOOOOOO!!!

I just laughed my ass off, and kept laughing and laughing. What a perfect exclamation point to the ending of this event.

Then everyone takes out their cell phones to see and some of us are waving them around like it's a rock concert. Too funny.

I'll post pictures if I get a better internet connection. Cover model competition is in an hour or so, and I definitely need to be there.

Cover model Jimmy Gaskin and me

Jimmy will be dressed as Lord Thomas Claradon from THE SCORPION AND THE SEDUCER at this afternoon's competition.

Fairy ball

YAY! I can post pix! This is Tawny Taylor at the Fairy Ball. Isn't she gorgeous? Tawny made this costume herself. Damn girl!


Just a quick post while my brain is trying to awaken.

Yesterday I had chocolate and port (YUM) at Renee Bernard's and Robin Schone's Victorian party. Robin wasn't there due to a family emergency, but Renee demonstrated the "shimmer" effect of port and chocolate. Shaved chocolate on tongue, sip port and let the chocolate melt and you get this "magic moment," Renee told us. "Port is a drink once reserved for men."

Wow. I'll never read another Regency again without knowing why all those men loved their port.

After I tried for two "shimmers" I went upstairs where they were having a baby shower for Isabo Kelly. Stacey Klemstein and Jade Lee was there, Robin Owens and Linnea Sinclair, Judy McCoy and Isabo, who is the nicest person, was opening these cute little baby gifts.

Some of us went to dinner, and after, the piano bar. I thought about wearing my badge I had made up that said, OLD TIRED HO, just point me toward the bar (it went with the RT Virgin badges I had made up as well) but decided against it.

As we're in the bar, talking and talking, Jennifer Dunne arrives and sits in the chair next to our circle. Linnea tells us, "Jennifer yeeps."

Ok. We hear a rumor Fabio has checked into the hotel. Someone joins us from the vampire ball upstairs and we're talking and she says something funny and all the sudden... Jennifer Dunne...


I think she shattered glass in the building next door. I have never heard anyone laugh like an air horn. It was hysterical. It reminded me of Daryl Hannah in SPLASH where she's the mermaid trying to tell Tom Hanks her name in her language.

The whole bar looked over at us.

More talk, Jennifer yeeps again. YEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OMG, I lost it. It was so damn funny.

Today I'm having breakfast with the Nocturne authors before the booksigning, which is at 10:30. Then after the booksigning is the cover model competition. I met Jimmy Gaskin, who will be modeling Lord Thomas Claradon from THE SCORPION AND THE SEDUCER, on the runway today. Jimmy is very sweet, cute and wanted to know if the costume he'd be wearing would fit the role. He's doing the scene when Thomas is riding through the desert and protecting Jasmine from the assassin stalking her.

I'll try to upload photos, but my connection has been funky here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cover models

This is Ryan Gardener, one of the cover model contestants for the competition at RT Saturday. I did a "drive by" interview with him today.

He told me, "I'm learning how to smile more."

I blogged about the interview for RT's blog. Will post when it is up.

My room on the 7th floor was so filled with cigarette smoke that I woke up wheezing and miserable. So I asked to change rooms.

They put me in a room filled with mold.

Went to the local store and bought Lysol. Sprayed the room and then went back down. On the way down, met a woman who told me, "My room stinks of smoke. They are hearing from me."

I told her, "Let me guess. You're in room 741." Yup.

Going to the fairy ball in a little bit... last night was the EC party. I'm so confused, lol.

Will post more later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

RT Pittsburgh

I'm here! Just wanted to upload a photo of me with two of my most favorite people in romanceland... Diane Stacy from Dorchester and Christine Feehan. Both very nice, fun and down-to-earth.

Rumor has it Obama Barak is coming to Pittsburgh and staying at the Hilton, one reason why so many people had to be moved to another hotel. Could be just a rumor.

then again, maybe I'll keep handy one of my RT virgin buttons to give to him.

Off to the EC fairy party now... wanting to see all the costumes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to pack for a Romantic Times Convention

Do not attempt this at home. May prove dangerous…

I told my husband I was taking the day off from work Tuesday to pack for the RT convention in Pittsburgh. He looked at me as he does when I tell him something truly nutty, like when I told him I always wanted to climb Mt. Everest, except I’m scared of heights.

DH: “Why do you need a whole day off to pack for a four-day convention?”
Me: “Because it’s RT. I’m an author and have to pack all this stuff I’m giving away.”
DH: “So you are going to pay this money to attend a convention to give away stuff and you need a whole day to pack it into a suitcase?”
Me: “Right. Glad you see my point.”

I took the day off, first indulging in a pedicure to mentally cleanse my mind for the Great Packing Event, known hereon as the GPE.

I got home, my toes all bright fire engine red, and started to pack. First, I made myself a rum runner. A rum runner is a tropical, Keys drink and I need fortification. I selected my conference clothes and laid them out on the bed.

Then I girded myself and set out to get the small red suitcase for the GPE. As a writer for an international charity, I've
visited poor countries from Haiti to Guyana, squeezing a week’s worth of clothing into a suitcase the size of a handbag. “You can do this, you can do this,” I silently chant as I drag out the sturdy red suitcase.

The dogs look at me with woebegone expressions. Dolce knows the Red Suitcase. I took out that red suitcase when I packed for the Dominican Republic three weeks ago. His little face takes on a mutinous expression.

As I drag the red suitcase to the bedroom, the dogs chase after me. “No, you are NOT leaving us again. Who will play with us?”

I put the red suitcase on the bed, and open it. Dolce puts his paws on the bed and looks at me. Pouts.

The small travel alarm clock I bought because I lost two other travel alarm clocks is broken. I proceed to throw into the suitcase my panties, socks, hose and flamingo pajamas. And realize, I Can’t Do This. Already the suitcase is full.

Wonder if I can just wear the flamingo PJ’s to all the events.

Drag red suitcase out to the living room to put it back into the garage. Realize Dolce has left me a “gift” on the living room rug. He sits there, wagging his tail and grinning. “This is what I think of your leaving,” the gift announces.

Clean up the “gift,”, wash the rug, go to garage and hunt down the Green Monster. This is a suitcase that could easily smuggle 10 small children in and out of the country. The color resembles nuclear puke. Easy to spot on a baggage carrousel because no one wants to admit they’d purchase something this tacky.

Drag Green Monster to the bedroom, nearly trip over the dogs who think that if I fall on my butt and break something, I can’t go.

Open Green Monster. Find the two missing travel alarm clocks.

Take a large swig of rum runner. Say a Hail Mary and proceed to throw in flamingo PJ’s, panties, socks, hose, and then items for the gift basket I’m giving away at Club RT and the silent auction items to raise money for charity. And the basket I need for giving away pens, bookmarks and cover flats for my new Dorchester Egyptian historical, The Scorpion & the Seducer.

Tiger jumps on bed and proceeds to lay in middle of conference clothing.

Put Tiger on the floor. Take another swig of rum runner. Exhausted, I decide to check email. See that my Nocturne editor has wished me a good trip and by the way, I’ll have your November Nocturne edits ready in early May and edits for your Nocturne Bite.

Take a giant swig of rum runner as I anticipate said edits.

Drag out all my conference clothing. Check the weather in Pittsburgh. Realize it will be 55 degrees at night. Shiver. Think about packing parka, decide that maybe I should fur line flamingo PJ’s and just wear those. Hunt through closet for a jacket.

Take conference clothes and realize the suitcase is already half full with stuff to give away. Sit on bed, take another swig of rum runner.

Admire red toenails.

Begin rolling up conference clothing. An old ex-Army pal told me this trick. “You can pack anything into anything if you roll clothing,” he assured me.

Try it, seriously doubt John has ever been to an RT convention.

Make a brave attempt again. Then realize I am packing last year’s conference clothes. What if they don’t fit? I did lose weight, about ½ a pound. Take off shorts, try on conference pants. Breathe sigh of relief. They fit.

Take off pants, roll and tuck into suitcase.

Realize I forgot to pack the VIRGIN and EX VIRGIN badges I made up for fun to give away. Fetch badges, pack, take another swig of rum runner.

Dolce barks. Mail is here! Start to go outside to get mail.

Realize I’m dressed only in a T-shirt and underwear. It’s south Florida, but not South Beach. Put shorts back on. Sort through mail, check email again, and steel myself to go back to packing.

Drag out the rolling fold-up travel bag for the promo stuff. Authors
Linnea Sinclair and Nancy Cohen told me, “You MUST buy one. It’s perfect for conferences!”

Stuff rolling bag and realize it is sagging to one side like a drunk person on a Saturday night bender.

Say a Hail Mary that someone will want all this stuff I am giving away.

Check email again. Spam folder has email about someone asking if my male member is too small.

Go back to bedroom and realize… I still have to pack hair dryer, cosmetics, contact lens solution, hairbrush, extra hose, nail polish in case extra hose run, bookmarks, extra basket to throw in extra stuff to give away, two toys for Heather Graham whose Slush Pile Players are visiting a children’s ward at a hospital Saturday, and more.

Sit down and start to compose letter to spammer who asked if my male member is too small. “Forget the penis,” I write. “If you can increase the size of my suitcase an extra ten inches and not have the airline charge me a trillion dollars for overweight baggage, I’ll pay you anything.”

Take another swig of rum runner, sit down to admire red toenails again. My flight leaves tomorrow and somehow, someway, I will pack everything into the Green Monster.

I am woman. I am strong. I can do this.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Free limo with virgin

This is Dolce with the duck I plan to put in my free basket giveaway next week at Club RT. I'm making up a beach bag filled with stuff like flip flops and suntan oil and a towel and other beach stuff, along with some of my books.

Problem is, the duck is not a silent duck. It quacks Freres Jacques.

How am I going to pack a Freres Jacques quacking duck into my suitcase? What if it starts quacking at a bad moment? Will the airline baggage handlers toss out my suitcase, in terror of a quaking duck?

I have tons of stuff to lug to RT. Bookmarks for THE SCORPION & THE SEDUCER.

Cover flats for THE SCORPION & THE SEDUCER. Pens advertising THE SCORPION & THE SEDUCER.

Can you tell that I'll be plugging my newest book?

It's been a crazy, crazy week. Between finally getting the FIL home and settled, and then getting ready for RT next week, doing a newsletter mailing for THE SCORPION AND THE SEDUCER, and this week I was at a two-day marketing seminar for the day job. We looked at advertising, graphics, everything.

At one point we were analyzing an ad for Virgin Atlantic airlines. The ad gave away a free limo ride.

I was so tired that I wrote in my notes, FREE LIMO WITH VIRGIN as I typed on the Alpha Smart.

Then I copied my notes to the other people in my department. Oy.

No writing done at all this week. It's been too hectic. Maybe tomorrow.

In the meantime, I saw over on Ferfe's blog that the temps in Pittsburgh are supposed to dip down to the 30's. WTH? I live in Florida. I do not do cold weather in spring.

I'd go out and buy a ski mask, except I think I may have enough trouble packing the quaking duck in my suitcase, let alone trying to explain packing a ski mask...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

This is so discouraging...

Food riots have started in Haiti. Actually started last week in the usually sleepy town of Les Cayes. Four people were killed in relation to that.

Now the people are protesting in the streets of PAP, burning tires, disrupting public transportation and the UN tanks and troops are called in to try to calm things down and keep order.

They have good reason to protest. They're hungry. Food prices have escalated 50% in the past year.

Fifty percent. Can you imagine living on $1 a day and your grocery bill rises 50%?

It's so discouraging to see this... It's a sad sad circle. Only a couple of months ago I was in Cite Soleil, walking the streets, visiting the people, and I've never seen it that quiet. I was so enthusiastic and happy because I thought, "Now we can finally get some work done here."

I met a little girl named Nelda, only 8, who had one cup of rice to share with her two siblings. Her mother was at the market, trying to earn money, so Nelda was the babysitter. Tears trickled down her cheeks as Nelda told me that when she sees her little brother and sister crying because they are hungry, she doesn't have any hope and she cries as well.

Can you imagine being eight years old, and instead of worrying about your Heelies getting worn down, or having a crush on the boy in your homeroom or making soccer practice, you are crying because your brother and sister are sobbing from hunger?

These kids, and there are hundreds of thousands in Haiti like Nelda, know the real, grinding pain of hunger. The kind that makes them drink salt water, gnaw on their fingers, do anything just to try to get rid of that clenching pain.

Now the people are rioting in the streets because they have no food. Small protests by Haiti's standard, only about 1,000, but still the burning tires and the violence (they are even attacking some journalists and photographers) are enough to bring things, once more, to a dead halt.

Next week I'll be at RT in Pittsburgh, signing books, meeting readers, booksellers, friends and plugging The Scorpion & the Seducer. RT is like another world for me, away from the reality of poverty and violence and rising food prices and struggling to help little girls like Nelda.

I'll be at RT, and there will be cover models and parties and friends.

In the meantime, Nelda is still in Cite Soleil, trapped by poverty, violence and the agony of hunger. When will she finally have hope?

When will Haiti finally get help?


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Interview with JENNIFER ASHLEY

RITA award winner and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Ashley's historical, HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER, is now out! Jennifer's book is the third in the Nvengaria series and features Egan from THE MAD, BAD DUKE.

Egan MacDonald was the one person Princess Zarabeth couldn’t read. Yet even without being able hear his thoughts, she knew he was the most honorable, infuriating, and deliciously handsome man she’d ever met. And now her life was in his hands. Chased out of her native country by bitter betrayal and a bevy of assassins, Zarabeth found refuge at the remote MacDonald castle and a haven in Egan’s embrace. She also found an ancient curse, a matchmaking nephew, a pair of debutantes eager to drag her protector to the altar, and dark secrets in Egan’s past. But even amid all the danger raged a desire too powerful to be denied...

I recently spent a few minutes asking Jennifer about her latest release (after drooling over the verra nice cover!)

1) Tell me about Highlander Ever After. Why a princess as a heroine?

Highlander Ever After is the story of Egan MacDonald and the young woman he loved and lost years ago. She can read minds--all but Egan's, which drives her nuts! She has to retreat to his remote Scottish castle for protection, and being in close quarters with Egan is a challenge. They still love each other, but now that love is forbidden. Zarabeth also discovers a darkness in Egan's past that he's desperately trying to keep from tearing him apart. Zarabeth is sort of a princess.

She's related to the royal family of Nvengaria, and her title is "princess," but she's not royal herself. In Nvengaria (my fictional Eastern European country), the sons and daughters of dukes were called dukes and duchesses (unlike in England where only the oldest male heir inherits the title), so you could be several times removed from the title and still be called "duke." Zarabeth's father, Prince Olaf, is tenth in line for the throne, and Zarabeth takes her "princess" title from him.

Why a foreign princess? I thought it would be fun. I like showing a different perspective of societal rules of the Regency era--not every country conducted itself like England. It's enjoyable to me to have someone not English (or Scottish in this case) confront the British culture. The reader gets to see a different perspective through their eyes. I love fish-out-of-water stories.

2) Egan was verra sexy in The Mad, Bad Duke. What's his most notable feature?

I think Egan's sexiness comes from his strength, both physical and emotional. He's of course a tall, hunky warrior, and looks terrific with a kilt wrapped around his brawny body. (Even better when it's nothing but the kilt!) He's also got a warm smile, a deep and gravely voice, and very curly brown hair that never stays put. I could go on about "notable features" but I'll keep it clean. The notable features all appear in the book. :-)

3) Is Egan as hot in the book as he is on the cover. All those yummy muscles! And the big sword

Yes, Egan is just as hot in the book as he is on the cover! He's a broad-shouldered, gorgeous Scotsman. This story takes place mostly in his run-down castle, and he dresses very casually because he's often out riding the land or helping his tenants. He cares very much for his land and people. The sword plays a significant part in the story, not one you'd think.

4) What do you like best about this book?

Oh gosh, that's a hard question! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story. I wanted to portray the realities of Scotland in 1820--this was just when Romanticism arrived to paint Scotland with a rosy-colored hue, but people's lives were often harsh. The Clearances were going full force: big landholders were evicting tenant farmers and replacing them with sheep, because wool made much more money than collecting rents from small farmers. The tenants had no money and nowhere to go, and and that's when so many either went to Glasgow and other cities to work in the factories or emigrated to America. Landholders that didn't convert to sheep struggled.

It was a hard time for many people. Scottish nationalism was also beginning to grow, as was tourism and the fads for all things Scottish. It was a very interesting time. Plus, writing about Egan was terrific. He was not a difficult hero to write at all--he seemed to be standing next to me the whole time, and I could picture him very clearly. I love when that happens. It doesn't always.

5) What is up next for Jennifer Ashley or your other writing selves? What can we eagerly anticipate?

Many, many things. The next big book for Jennifer Ashley is Immortals: The Redeeming, which is out in September 2008. It's already up for pre-sale on B&N and Amazon. After that I'm doing a new historical series and a new paranormal series which I'll post about on my site as things are more developed.

As for Allyson James: I'm currently working on the third book on the Dragon series (The Dragon Master), which will be out in November 2008. The response to the first two Dragon books was wonderful, for which I thank my dragon-loving readers! Also, Allyson James will have a novella in an anthology in August with the fabulous Robin Schone called Private Places, a collection of erotic, historical tales. Yum!

Check out Jennifer’s current and upcoming releases at her website

You can purchase HIGHLAND EVER AFTER here at Amazon or here at Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hump day hunk

I love this photo of Alain Delon, a famous French actor. Without the cigarette, he's a great model for the hero I'm writing now. Very intense, brooding and filled with inner torment.

I realized today that I am at 26,500 words and still need the 30,000 goal before I can enjoy North & South and DH told me he is working all tomorrow night. So... quality writing time. All alone, with the dogs snoozing, and I can't sleep anyway until he comes home so what else can I do?

Write. And then maybe I can reach the goal and finally treat myself. I need a treat. It's been a challenging week... stressful with the FIL being ill and now out of the hospital... but in rehab. One day at a time.

Which is one reason I'm not doing much promo this month for The Scorpion & the Seducer, which releases April 29. I am mailing a newsletter and hopefully will make RT in Pittsburgh, but that's it. I realized that the most precious asset I have is time, and there is only so much I can do to promo this book. I'm almost at a point where I'm thinking, "Enough." If people buy it, they buy it. If it tanks, it tanks.

You might say I'm adapting a Zen attitude toward my book. It clears the air for me to quit worrying about one item in my life and concentrate on the OTHER things I worry about, lol

The Lady & the Libertine has been a tough book to write so far, and I'm not sure why. Either the interruptions or the book itself, or maybe the characters keep shifting and changing. They're more complex than I originally intended. I did invent a new male character and a new Egyptian tribe in the context of the plot, and I'm curious to see how Kamil develops. He's a sheikh's son and the tribe raids other tribes in the ancient rite of "marriage capture," only it's done with the permission of the raidees. Kamil's tribe lacks marriagable women and he's a sheikh's son who needs to marry.

There's a moving scene in which he goes to choose Karida, the heroine in Lady & the Libertine and at the last minute, turns away, leaving her standing there with her hand outstretched. It's going to be a metaphor for other key moments in the book... her hand outstretched, always reaching for what she can't have, and then finally, grasping the one thing she finally realizes she can have and she does need.

Anyway, I'll see if I can make some progress on this book tomorrow night. It's very challenging to concentrate lately, but if I'm to make this deadline I have to keep up with my writing goals. Life always has interruptions and emergencies and a mini-crisis, but the writing must go on. All I can do is try.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Karen Kendall's newest series kicks off TODAY!

Fellow FRW chapter member KAREN KENDALL kicks off her new, dynamite NAL series today with TAKE ME IF YOU CAN. Great cover, huh?