Thursday, December 31, 2009

Marry Me, Conveniently

One of the first romances I ever read was a marriage of convenience story. It was MARRY IN HASTE by Jane Aiken Hodge. It's been a long time since I've read it, so I remember only snippets, but the one thing I do remember is that it fueled my love of marriage of convenience stories. So much to enjoy about a good marriage of convenience story--the forced proximity, the pretend intimacy that leads to real intimacy, the reluctance to admit it when you've fallen in love with your husband or wife, because doing so breaks the contract you made...

But there's a flipside. It's darned hard to write a good marriage of convenience story in a contemporary setting. It's an old-fashioned concept, easier to sell in periods of history where marriage was more of a contract and less of a love match to begin with.

I've often toyed with the idea of writing a marriage of convenience story in an Intrigue, but so far, I haven't been able to figure out a way to make it work. There are so many other options for people these days besides marriage to solve problems that weren't as easily solved back in the 18th and 19th centuries, for example. A good lawyer could probably get around an unreasonable stipulation in a will, for instance. Or a person could afford to opt out of the will altogether, choosing his freedom over money or property.

So it got me to wondering--do people still love marriage of convenience stories? Can they be written convincingly in contemporary romances? And if you love them, do you have any favorites you'd like to tell us about? And were any of those favorites also contemporary romances?

P. S. - Linda Henderson, Donna Kaufman and Crystal-Rain Love, I still haven't received your mailing address information so I can send you the books you won during the Blog Days of Christmas. Thanks!

(Crossposted at the eHarlequin Intrigue Authors blog).

Monday, December 28, 2009

4 1/2 Stars - "...a conclusion you won't soon forget."

I didn't want to interrupt the Blog Days of Christmas with this news, but I got a great review from Romantic Times for my February book, CHICKASAW COUNTY CAPTIVE. 4 1/2 stars and the following:

County prosecutor Sam Cooper doesn't know who's trying to kidnap his daughter. Detective Kristen Tandy has to fight her own demons to protect the little girl from a specter out of her father's past. Could it be Sam's ex-wife, who suddenly has a very political reason for getting her child back, or the drug-lord father of a man Sam sent to prison? What Sam does know is that his daughter trusts Kristen, and the detective will do anything to keep her safe from a madman. Peppered with multiple suspects, glaring tragedy and searing passion, this first-rate book has a conclusion you won't soon forget.

I'm thrilled, needless to say.

By the way, be sure to check yesterday's winners post. I still need mailing information from some of you, including Chambers, who responded on the blog but didn't email me a mailing address to send the book.

I have several people to send books or gift cards to, and I'm going to try to get them all out in the next week or so.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Final Blog Days of Christmas Winners

Congratulations to the final set of Blog Days of Christmas prize winners!

Marianne Arkins wins Julie Miller's December Intrigue BEAUTY AND THE BADGE. Kea wins Rita Herron's December Intrigue HIS SECRET CHRISTMAS BABY.

And as a freebie thank you, so that everybody who commented at some point this week wins something, Valerie Oakleaf, Margaret, Martha Lawson, Lelia, Dyeve, Angela, Naima Simone, Crystal-Rain Love, Debbie Kaufman and Chambers 35 will all receive an autographed back copy of one of my books, either FORBIDDEN TOUCH or COWBOY ALIBI. If I can find your email addresses through your blog profiles or other sources, I'll try to email you myself. Otherwise, please email me with your snail mail information so I can send the book to you. My email address is paulagraves@charter.net.

Thanks again for participating in Blog Days of Christmas. You all made it a lot of fun for me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thank You All.

I want to thank everyone who has been so supportive of my Blog Days of Christmas blog blitz. I've noted in previous blogs that I'm not a natural blogger, mostly for the same reason I'm not prone to journaling. I just don't like to talk about myself that much. Self promotion is difficult for me, but I've come to realize that my books won't get read if I don't get the word out somehow.

I do love hearing from my readers and fellow writers, however. I enjoy getting to know y'all through the comments, and I hope you'll keep coming back throughout next year. I plan to blog a little more regularly next year, because I've enjoyed this blog blitz a lot and I feel like I've made a few new cyberfriends this way. I'd also love for you to tell me in the comments of this post what kind of blog posts you'd like to see more of. Writing tips? A day in the life of a writer? Cat stories? Links to silly You Tube videos? I'd love to know what you're looking for in the blogs you read, so I'll know better how to provide the right kind of content.

Tomorrow, I'll post the final list of winners of the blog blitz, so check back for the results. And if you're on Facebook or Twitter, why don't you friend me or follow me? I'm pagraves on Twitter. I'm Paula Graves on Facebook, and there's a link to my Facebook fan page right here on my blog.

And while I'm being all self-promoty, don't forget you can order CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK, WYOMING right now on eHarlequin. It will be available on Kindle on 1/1/10 and will be available in bookstores and online at other book stores on 1/12/10. Romantic Times BookReview gave CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK, WYOMING 4 stars, calling it "terrifyingly intense."

CHICKASAW COUNTY CAPTIVE goes on sale on eHarlequin on 1/1/10 and is available elsewhere on 2/9/10. It should be available 2/1/10 on Kindle. I just learned that Romantic Times gave CHICKASAW COUNTY CAPTIVE 4 1/2 stars! "Peppered with multiple suspects, glaring tragedy and searing passion, this first-rate book has a conclusion you won't soon forget. "

Finally, if you read these two books and love them, be sure to mark your calendars for August and September 2010, when the next two Cooper Justice books become available from Harlequin Intrigue. ONE TOUGH MARINE will be out in August and BACHELOR SHERIFF in September. And remember, if you like my writing, tell a couple of romance-reading friends about my books and direct them here to my blog or to my website. Word of mouth is the best kind of advertising. (Plus, they can go to my website for a free read and see for themselves if they like my writing).

Thanks again, everyone! You've made the Blog Days of Christmas a lot of fun for me! Please check back--I have guest blogs and also some Writerspace chats coming up, and I'll be posting the information about them here as well as on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to You and Yours


Luke 2: 4 - 14

(4) So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (5) He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. (6) While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, (7) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

(8) And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. (9) An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (10) But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (11) Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (12) This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

(13) Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, (14) "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

I wish the wonderful blessings of this day on you and yours. Have a very merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"You'll Shoot Your Eye Out!"

I'm recycling this post from 2007 because nothing has changed. A CHRISTMAS STORY is still my favorite movie, and the things I love about it, listed below, are the same today as they were two years ago. So read and enjoy, and then tell me all about your favorite Christmas movies in the comments.

If forced to choose my favorite Christmas movie of all time, I think I'd really have to go with A CHRISTMAS STORY. .

One of the cable stations--TNT? TBS?--marathons it every Christmas, and I usually watch it at least twice over the course of the day. There's just so much to love about its insanity-Ralphie's bunny suit:

Flick's tongue on the flagpole:

Ralphie's visit with Santa:

The Leg Lamp:

And do not miss the Chinese restaurant carolers singing Deck the Halls.



Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Carol of the (Hand)Bells.

A while back, before my knee and back problems made standing for long periods of time too excruciating to bear, I was a member of my church handbell choir. It was a lot of fun and at times, quite challenging. It's rather like being one (or, really, two, since you usually play at least two bells at a time) of the keys on a piano keyboard, and for music to happen, every key has to do their job just right or it all falls apart.

Anyway, when it works well, it can be beautiful to listen to and also fun to watch. So, here are a few handbell performances of Christmas music that I enjoyed listening to on You Tube.

Sleigh Ride



Carol of the Bells



Nutcracker Suite on handbells



God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen



And this one has nothing to do with Christmas, but dude. It's Stairway to Heaven on handbells. I couldn't leave it out in all good conscience.



How about you? Have you ever played in a handbell choir? Any fun You Tube handbell links you want to share? Comment and you could win a copy of Rita Herron's HIS SECRET CHRISTMAS BABY.

Also, I'm blogging today over at the Intrigue Author's Blog at eHarlequin. Please drop by--it's all about the kisses.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

December Intrigue Spotlight

His Secret Christmas Baby by Rita Herron

Investigator Derrick McKinney's quiet bachelor life was shattered when the son he just learned existed was abducted right out from under the watchful eye of his beautiful guardian. And although she was left unconscious and heartbroken, someone feared Brianna Honeycutt saw more than she claimed, placing her life in danger. Working together, Derrick now had to push aside the long-buried attraction he'd always felt for Brianna. More determined than ever to end this nightmare and put a smile back on Brianna's face, Derrick vowed he'd stop at nothing to bring his baby home in time for Christmas….

Monday, December 21, 2009

Recycled Christmas Tree

And by recycled, I mean this blog post. I posted the same thing in 2007, but I'm bringing it back for an encore because it's still funny and we still talk about it in my family.

My late father used to pinch a penny until it screamed, and then pinch it some more. So when it came to Christmas trees, there was no fun little trip to the Christmas tree lot or farm to be had. And back when I was younger, artificial trees weren't so much in vogue as they are now.

So one Christmas, when I was about 15, my father and my younger brother went out looking for a Christmas tree. What they came back with is the stuff of family legend.

I really have no idea what kind of tree it was. It wasn't a Douglas fir or anything like that. It also wasn't a typical southern long leaf pine sapling, if the needles were anything to go by. And speaking of its foliage, it was, to be generous, sparse.

The tree was about six feet tall, and very, very skinny. There was no gently sloping line from a narrow tip to a full bottom. It was the Olive Oyl of Christmas trees, one thin silhouette from bottom to top, with a handful of sharp, jutting branches like a dozen skinny arms. It managed to stay upright until we hung the first ball. Clearly, the tree was incapable of standing by itself. So my mother, ever practical and ingenious—and well aware that my father would under no circumstances admit that the tree he brought home was anything less that what it should be—decided that we could temporarily sew the top of the tree to the top of the draperies standing right behind it. The thread would keep the tree upright as we applied the decorations.

With the tree fortified, we finished decorating it. Of course, we used about half the decorations we would usually use, and no combination of decorations--more garland than balls, more balls than garland--made it look any less anorexic. But it was a Christmas tree, and there were presents under it on Christmas. And we had something to talk about for years.

Which we did on a regular basis, for the pitiful little Christmas tree had one particular feature that added to the longevity of its memory, long after the pitiful sapling was hauled away in the January garbage. It was quite a shedder, dropping needles at an alarming rate. And the needles were as sharp as sewing needles, stabbing into bare toes and feet like heat-seeking missiles. We vacuumed, hand picked needles out, vaccuumed some more, and yet for YEARS afterwards, some unsuspecting bare foot would happen upon a needle in the carpet and the owner would cry out, "Damned Christmas Tree!"

(originally posted December 21, 2007)

Do you have any Christmas tree stories? Comment and you could win a copy of Julie Miller's BEAUTY AND THE BADGE.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This week's Winners

Another week of the Blog Blitz is over, and here are the prize winners for this week:

Linda Henderson wins a copy of Debra Webb's December Intrigue, FIRST NIGHT.

Sherry James wins a copy of Dani Sinclair's December Intrigue, POLICE PROTECTOR.

Jemi Fraser wins a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card. You can use it online at barnesandnoble.com if you don't have a store up in your neck of the woods.

Congratulations, all! Jemi, I have your contact information, but Linda and Sherry, please email me your snail mail information so I can send your prizes to you.

Now, a couple more notes of interest...One, I'm a fairly regular poster over on the eHarlequin Intrigue Authors blog, along with a lot of other great Intrigue authors, including some of the authors whose books I've featured this month, like Julie Miller. Other Intrigue bloggers include the fabulous Dana Marton, Mallory Kane, B. J. Daniels, la grande dame of Intrigues, the beautiful Rebecca York, Patricia Rosemoor, Carol Ericson, Kerry Connor, Tracy Montoya--I think the whole Intrigue crew is just a wonderful bunch of authors, and the more I get to know them, the more I'm proud to be one of their number. I know everybody's crazy busy, especially these days, but if you're an Intrigue fan and you haven't checked out the blog, you're missing out.

And some upcoming dates of note for me over the next few weeks:

DECEMBER

12/23/09 - Blog on Intrigue Authors Blog


JANUARY

1/1/10 - Chickasaw County Captive available for purchase on eHarlequin

1/8/10 - Blog on Intrigue Authors Blog

1/12/10 - CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK, WYOMING available at most major booksellers

1/13/10 - Blog on Intrigue Authors Blog

1/15/10 - Blog on Romance Junkies

1/22/10 - Blog on Intrigue Authors Blog

1/31/10 - Blog on Running with Quills


FEBRUARY

2/3/10 - Blog on Riding with the Top Down blog

2/5/10 - Blog on Intrigue Authors Blog

2/9/10 - CHICKASAW COUNTY CAPTIVE available at most major booksellers

2/13/10 - Blog on Pink Heart Society Blog

2/19/10 - Blog on Intrigue Authors Blog

2/27/10 - Author panel at Southern Magic meeting

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blue Christmas

I know red, green and gold are the traditional Christmas colors, but I'm a sucker for anything blue. Blue trees, blue ornaments on a silver tree, blue ornaments on a green tree—if it's blue, I'm for it.

My family is not quite as enamored of blue as I am, alas, so it's hard to get much as much blue on the family tree as I would like.

I also love blue on my Christmas cards and Christmas wrapping paper.

Do you like have a particular color scheme you like to play with for Christmas? Metallics? Are you a green fiend? Or maybe it's a particular item that fuels your obsession, like Santas, stars or Nativity scenes.

Confess your Christmas fetish right here in the comments and you could win a $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.

And if you haven't commented on the other threads where prizes are being given away, it's not too late. I won't be drawing winners on any of them until late this evening. So get to posting--you could still be a winner!

Friday, December 18, 2009

December Intrigue Spotlight

Beauty and the Badge by Julie Miller

When girl next door Beth Rogers pounded on Detective Kevin Grove's door in the middle of the night, she awakened not only the cop, but also the die-hard protector. His spunky neighbor had uncovered scandalous secrets about a murder and someone was threatening to silence her…permanently.

After one heartbreak too many, Kevin was ready to call it quits. With his brawn and tough-guy looks, no woman had been able to see the caring soul that lurked beneath. But with one look into Beth's frightened eyes, the true-blue hero couldn't turn her away. Now, with every step leading them closer to danger, the safest place was in each other's arms.

About Julie Miller.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Back when I was a kid...

I wrote earlier about how much I loved Christmas morning as a kid. Most of the reason, of course, was that I couldn't wait to unwrap all those presents I'd been anticipating.

So today, I'm going to share some of my favorite toys of Christmas past.



Although I went tomboy in my pre-teens, when I was a very little girl, I was obsessed with dolls. I loved them, especially the ones that were more "real." I didn't like the hard plastic dolls. Give me the soft rubber skin of Baby Tender Love. I still remember how I lit up when I realized Baby Tender Love had soft nylon "skin" that almost felt like a real live baby. I started badgering my parents to get me one for Christmas, and I suffered great angst waiting to find out if they would actually do it. When I found Baby Tenderlove lying under the tree, I was ecstatic.



Technically, this was actually my brother's Christmas gift, but it didn't take long for me to commandeer Joe for my own purposes. You see, Barbie needed a boyfriend. And Ken? Kent wasn't gettin' it done. My Barbie had it bad for G.I. Joe with Kung Fu Grip. He was hairy, scarred and carried a big gun.
Clearly, I was prepping to write for Intrigue even back then.





They had me at "You can even pick up pictures..."



Misty of Chincoteague doll

This was during my horse phase. I loved the book Misty of Chincoteague and absolutely had to have the figurine. After all, Barbie and G.I. Joe needed transportation, and Joe categorically refused to ride in the pink Corvette.
So, what about you? What were some of your favorite Christmas gifts when you were a kid? Tell us in the comments and I'll draw for someone to win a copy of Dani Sinclair's December Intrigue, Police Protector!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 5 "If I had a Million Dollars" Christmas Wishes


Let's think about our Top Five "If I had a million dollars" Christmas wishes.

Now, here are the ground rules.

1. We know a million dollars doesn't get us as far as it used to, so you won't be able to buy your own 747 jet or anything like that. However, do use your entire million on each of the five--we're going for conspicuous consumption here.

2. Second, be relatively honest. Saying you'd give it all to charity? Unless you're Mother Theresa, nobody's buyin' that. So for our purposes, nobody is in need of charity. This is fantasy.

3. Third, this is a tax free zone and investment free zone. Don't try to figure out how much Uncle Sam would get. It's not like he's using the money wisely these days anyway. And investments and savings make for a boring blog. (I know--my first stab at this involved a lot of savings accounts and IRAs and put me right to sleep. This isn't real life, remember? In this game, we're going to pretend that we're debt free and have every basic need attended to.

4. Keep it clean. If you're going to spend it on making Gerard Butler your sex slave for a month, please don't go into any graphic details, okay?

Now, here's my top five list, in no particular order:

1. I'd travel the world for as long as the money held out. I'd love to go to the British Isles, to Australia, to all fifty United States (I've been to a few, but there are plenty I'd like to see). I'd visit a friend who lives in Zimbabwe, (because if we're dealing in fantasy, we're going to pretend it's a safe place to visit). And I'd visit the region of Patagonia, in southern Argentina, because it sounds like a fascinating place.

2. I'd buy a house or build a house with the biggest bathroom ever. I've never lived in a house with a big bathroom. Ever. I see marble floors, an enormous clawfoot tub, a separate shower, enough floor space that you could hold a cotillion there...

3. I'd take a few years off from my day job and write full time. With a million dollars, I could pay the bills while I wrote. I figure on a million, I could write full time for about ten years and still take care of my family. That would be heaven. (I know this kind of violates rule #3 I set above, but writing full time is a major wish of mine that circumstances won't allow for at the moment).

4. I'd pay for the trapping and spaying/neutering of as many stray feral cats in my area as possible. There are so many wild cats out there having kittens that either grow up to exacerbate the stray problem or end up as road kill. I've rescued numerous of these feral offspring over the years, but I'm just one person and I can't possibly keep up. So if I could put even a little dent in the feral cat population in my area, it would be a million well spent. (Does that violate rule 2 a little? I'm not sure I care. I love cats, and I really might use the money this way, if I had it).

5. I'd spend it on books, DVDs and CDs. The entire Dean Koontz collection. All of Dick Francis's books. I'd grab all of Jayne Ann Krentz's backlist I haven't read. I'd give Christina Dodd and Teresa Medeiros books a try, because they're both hilarious on Twitter. I'd buy full Seasons of my favorite shows, past and present--Scarecrow and Mrs. King, which I hear is finally coming out on DVD. All the seasons of Homicide: Life on the Street. Every Jane Austen adaptation available. All the great classic books I haven't read. (In this fantasy, we're going to pretend I have a huge house with a ginormous library and a big media room with lots of storage space).

So that's it. My million is spent, five times over. Now it's your turn. What would YOU do with a million dollars?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two of my favorite Christmas videos

I was going to do a Top 5 Funniest Christmas videos, but I couldn't really find five that I thought were THAT funny. So I'm just going to share a couple I love.

First up, Robert Earl Keene's "Merry Christmas From the Family." I think this one is probably a little funnier if you're from the South and don't exactly fit into the whole Junior League social set (like me)...



And one of my all time favorites--the infamous Straight No Chaser version of The 12 Days of Christmas. Hang in there past the 3rd verse. You won't regret it.



Do you have any fun or funny Christmas music videos? Share them in the comments, and I'll pick a commenter to win Debra Webb's December Intrigue, First Night!

Monday, December 14, 2009

December Intrigue Spotlight

Police Protector by Dani Sinclair

Finding three children locked in a saferoom wasn't how Lucan O'Shay planned to spend the holidays. Taking the children and their feisty aunt into his home…well, if that's what it took to serve and protect, that's what he would do. Never mind that the aunt, Kyra Wolfstead, was making him crazy. But someone was trying to kill her and take the children. Not on Lucan's watch.

It would take all of Lucan's expertise and self-control to give Kyra and the kids a safe Christmas under his own personal house arrest. But what scared this tough Irish cop the most was his growing hope that this sentence was for life….

About Dani Sinclair.

Edited because I had the wrong book cover and title. Oops! This blogging every day thing? STRESSFUL. Especially for an anti-social curmudgeon like me!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winners so far, plus a new chance to win

Three contests, three winners!

My email address is linked on my website. Click on the "Contact" link and send me an email with your mailing address, and I'll send y'all your prizes.

First up--the winner of Carla Cassidy's December Intrigue, Scene of the Crime: Bridgewater, Texas is Misty Wright!

The winner of the $10 Barnes and Noble gift card is Louisa Cornell!

And the winner of Cassie Miles' December Intrigue, Secluded with the Cowboy, is Kea.

Congratulations and send me your information so I can get your prizes out to you.

Now, in celebration of the Crimson Tide's Mark Ingram winning the first ever Heisman Trophy for the University of Alabama, leave a comment on this post telling me who you were rooting for in the Heisman race (or tell me you weren't rooting for anyone at all), and I'll draw a winner from the commenters for another $10 Barnes and Noble gift card.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Traditions: Handel's Messiah

For me, it's just not Christmas until I've listened to at least some of Handel's Messiah.

Everyone knows the Hallelujah Chorus, of course, but I have other favorites:

Glory to God:



For Unto Us a Child is Born:



Ev'ry Valley Shall Be Exalted:



And, yeah, okay, it just wouldn't be Christmas without the Hallelujah Chorus:



One of my favorite live performances was at Samford University, my alma mater, several years ago. The University Chorale, the A Cappella Choir and a group of alumni who'd been in the various university choirs joined together to present Messiah. It was enthralling.

Enjoy the music!

Friday, December 11, 2009

December Intrigue Spotlight

First Night by Debra Webb

As far as Christmas packages went, Brandon Thomas was one tall drink of water. And at the moment he was in over his too-handsome head. He'd showed up at the Colby offices covered in blood and desperate for help unraveling a mystery of murder. Luckily for Brandon, Merri Walters was a determined investigator not about to let an innocent bystander get railroaded—especially so close to Christmas.

With careful coaxing, Merri learned that Brandon unknowingly possessed information high-level people wanted to keep secret. Now, the only challenge was keeping Brandon at arm's length in order to make sure they both stayed alive to see the New Year.

About Debra Webb.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Traditional Christmas Songs

I love Christmas carols and Christmas songs. But as I've mentioned before, I'm not an entirely traditional type of person, even at Christmas. I like things, well, weird and different.

So I think for this year's Top 5 Favorite Traditional Christmas Carols, I'm going to pick traditional songs done in a not-so-traditional way.

So, in no particular order....

1. Silent Night



I've never seen this version of Silent Night before I started searching YouTube for examples of the carol. But I like it! The visuals are freaky, the guys look like the guys who live down the street and keep crazy hours. And pitbulls. Yet the song itself has a sweet, melancholy air that's appropriate for a song about the quiet arrival of a savior who was ultimately born to die.

2. God Rest You Merry Gentlemen



I love this version, by Barenaked Ladies, featuring Sarah McLachlan. It's a quirky Canadian take on an old English carol. The perky rhythm picks up on the hopeful lyrics, while Sarah Lachlan's haunting voice underscores the hint of melancholy in the minor key of the carol. Sorry the song cuts off abruptly at the end in the video.

3. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel



This particular version is performed by Enya, whose voice gives this old Christmas song a hint of skin-tingling mysticism. Appropriate, since the song's lyrics are taken from the Old Testament prophecy regarding the advent of the Messiah.

4. Carol of the Bells



Dude, it's the ukelele. And it's pretty amazing. John King plays the stew out of what looks like a kid's toy on one of the hardest songs in the Christmas repertoire.

5. O Come All Ye Faithful



I picked this particular version because I think the euphonium is a beautiful instrument. It's kin to the baritone horn, which was one of the two instruments I played in my high school band.

There are so many versions of this carol out there, including one by Twisted Sister that I almost linked to, but the video was just too strange for me. Yes, there's such a thing as too strange for me.

So, of the traditional carols out there, which are your favorites?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Holiday Foods

I've blogged before about my Weight Watchers journey, haven't I? Why yes, yes I have. (By the way, I've lost 115 pounds since last February).

So you can say I'm a fan of food.

And there's just something about Christmas food, isn't there? Some of it isn't even that good (coughfruitcakecough), but still, it flies off the grocery store shelves anyway.

So, in no particular order, here are my Top 5 Favorite Christmas Foods:

1. Candy Canes

You're no longer limited to the old red and white peppermint sticks. Now, candymakers offer the holiday staple in all sorts of flavors and colors. Yum.

2. Swiss Colony's Cheese Spreads
Back when I was still eating this kind of food, one of my favorite times of year was when someone would send a Swiss Colony basket full of these delicious flavored cheese spreads. Smoked Cheddar was a personal favorite.
3. Cornbread Dressing


Cornbread, onions, celery, sage, eggs, chicken broth and bits of turkey, baked to a golden brown. What's not to love?
4. Hickory Farms Gift Baskets


Summer Sausage! Smoked Gouda! Little Jelly Jars! It's a smorgasbord of holiday cheer.
5. Danish Butter Cookies


Even the crappy brands are worth a nibble. But the Royal Dansk brand? Yum, yum, yum.
That's a weird set of holiday foods, isn't it? But there you have it. Those are my favorites.
What are yours? Leave your list in the comments, and I'll draw from the list of commenters for a copy of Secluded with the Cowboy by Cassie Miles.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

December Intrigue Spotlight

Secluded with the Cowboy by Cassie Miles

Colorado rancher Dylan Carlisle had eagerly awaited the safe return of his kidnapped wife. But now that Nicole was finally back home, it seemed the tension that existed before her abduction was still between them. Except now she was being more secretive than ever. Before long, Dylan discovered someone still tracked Nicole's every move, preventing her from moving past her recent trauma and sharing his joys of the holiday season. As Nicole began to let down her guard and trust her husband's protective embrace, Dylan finally felt hopeful about their previously unsettled future. Until she dropped the ultimate bombshell on him and he realized just how much he had to lose.

About Cassie Miles.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A Day that Will Live in Infamy

It's been over 50 years now since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the survivors of the attack are gone now, so it's up to the rest of us to remember for them.

Here's a good overview of what happened, from a Navy History site.

This site offers some first person recollections of the day.

Pearl Harbor Casualty List.

You can always depend on National Geographic for a good multimedia retrospective.

And while we're remembering the fallen heroes of World War II, let's not forget the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines still out there in the field, risking their lives for this country. If you're in the mood for giving this holiday season, here are a few good military-related charities:

http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

http://soldiersangels.org/

http://soldiersangels.org/project-valour-it.html

http://www.fisherhouse.org/

http://www.semperfifund.org/

http://anysoldier.com/

http://spiritofamerica.net/

If you're a veteran or a member of the U.S. Military reading this blog, thank you for your service.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

We Interrupt the Christmas Blogging...

Sorry for the non-Christmas post, but I just had to say this.

ROLL TIDE!

Although, did Tim Tebow have to cry so prettily and make me feel sorry for him?

For more on the details of game, be sure to check out al.com. And congratulations to Greg McElroy for an outstanding game behind center. He really came into his own in the SEC Championship game, and the best thing is, he's back for 2010!

Love this quote from Alabama coach Nick Saban, since I believe it can apply to almost any endeavor in life, whether it's playing football or becoming a writer:

"We told the players a story (Friday) about Sugar Ray Leonard, who actually said, 'The first time I fought in a championship fight, I lost. But the thing I remember about the second time I fought for the championship and won was I had an unrelenting, not-to-be-denied, intangible attitude, and I was going to have to do it for 15 rounds and go toe-to-toe, and that's what made me win.'

"I think there are a lot of examples out there today of the way our players competed and played in the game that showed that kind of resiliency, and that's what it takes to be a champion."

Now, back to your regularly scheduled Christmas...

Saturday, December 05, 2009

I'm Dreaming (Futilely) of a White Christmas, plus contest

As I was writing this blog post ahead of time, about a week ago, I had no idea that, ironically, this post would fall on the first snow of this season. It wasn't much; we have a very pretty dusting of snow on the ground and the trees outside. But snow is snow, and for what it's worth, there's some of the cold white stuff on the ground outside. But will there be a white Christmas here?

Unlikely.

I know I'm going to lose you northerners with this one, but here's the bittersweet truth about Christmas in the South: it almost never snows. In fact, the only reason I included the word "almost" is that I suppose it's remotely possible that somewhere, in some hilly hamlet of the South, it might have snowed on Christmas once in the last fifty years. But as a rule? Nope. No snow on Christmas if you live in the deep South.

Contrary to what today's weather situation might suggest, we rarely get snow at all. There's today's dusting. And we had about a half an inch here in central Alabama earlier this year; I even blogged about it. But there have been many years where we didn't see a flake. But snow is generally localized--you might get a band of heavy rain that hits just when the temperatures are low enough to produce snow, but it's never widespread, it's extremely rare, and it usually melts within hours.

Down here in the South, we get ragged a lot about not being able to cope with snow. Whole cities shut down even with an inch or so of the white stuff. But in our defense, snow of any significance is so rare that trying to prepare the city for dealing with snow would be cost-inefficient. Why buy snow tires or snow chains when you almost never get snow? Why purchase and maintain snow plows when there's never any snow to plow? And how on earth could a Southerner hone his snow driving skills when he can go years without seeing a single flake?

One of these days, maybe, if I live long enough, I'll see it snow on Christmas here in Alabama.

I'm just not holding my breath.

Does it snow for Christmas where you live ? Do you have any White Christmas stories? Share them with the rest of us.I'm going to randomly choose one commenter on this blog post to win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card, so get to posting!


UPDATED:

Here's what our dusting looked like this morning:

If you're wondering what that tangle of vines is there in the bottom of the photo, that's what's left of last summer's tomato plants, left to go fallow over the winter. You can see a small orangish ball at the bottom right—that's a marigold bloom covered with a crust of snow.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Like a Kid on Christmas

When I was a kid, I approached Christmas like a general at war: I planned covert reconnaissance, engaged in psy-ops, even struck strategic alliances with my siblings to make sure that Christmas met our expectations. It was all about the gifts, baby.

I knew that opening presents before the whole family was awake was forbidden, but patience was never one of my strong suits. As soon as I woke on Christmas morning, and there was even a hint of morning light on the horizon, I'd sneak out of my bedroom and into the living room for a peek.

Oh, the new-toy smell of Christmas mornings! As a kid, there was nothing more glorious and magical than to enter the room that had, the night before, been just another living room and find a wondrous bounty of toys and gifts arrayed under the tree. My family was strictly lower middle-class, at best, but my parents always found away to make sure my brother and sister and I had a magical Christmas.

Later, as I grew older and gained a more mature understanding of the holiday, I came to find more joy in the true spiritual meaning of the holiday than in finding presents under the tree. But I've never forgotten the excitement of tiptoeing into the living room and fidning that Baby Tender Love or those brand new Trixie Belden books waiting under the tree for me that cold, dark Christmas pre-dawn.

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories from childhood?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Top 5 Most Interesting U.S. Christmas Traditions, Plus Contest

I think I've blogged before about how non-traditional my family is about Christmas, despite being religious and conservative. I think it's really that we're pretty no-fuss people, and celebrations get so elaborate and complicated.

But I do enjoy hearing about other people's traditions. So I did a little research about Christmas traditions in the United States, just to see what other Americans were doing for the Christmas season.

So without further delay, my Top 5 Most Interesting Christmas Traditions in America, in no particular order:

1. Las Posadas - New Mexico and Arizona



This 9-day celebration (Dec. 16th through Christmas Eve) commemorates the Biblical journey Mary and Joseph made to Bethlehem, and their search for a place to stay. The event includes a candle-lit procession and a colorful pageant that usually features the children of the town, and culminates in a big feast on Christmas Eve.

More information on Las Posadas can be found here, here and here.

3. Reveillon - New Orleans

Reveillon, or "awakening" in French, was a Creole custom, borrowed from their French ancestors. After a day of religious fasting on Christmas Eve, the Creoles would come home from Midnight Mass and enjoy an elaborate feast to break the fast. The feast would go on through the night, ending in the early morning hours.

Though it's not celebrated the same way today, since not as many people observe religious fasts, many local New Orleans restaurants still offer Reveillon dinners during the Christmas season.
More here.

4. Christmas Luau - Hawaii

Mele Kalikimaka! The greeting is actually a Hawaiianization of the English "Merry Christmas," which the natives apparently had trouble pronouncing when Christian missionaries introduced the tradition to the islands back in the 1800s.

While most of Hawaii's Christmas Traditions were introduced by the Christian missionaries who arrived there in the 1800s, there was a New Year's festival already celebrated there by the natives, called Makahiki. When the holiday was Christianized to include Christmas, many of the food traditions of the holiday became part of the Hawaiian Christmas tradition.

5. The Mummers Parade - New Year's Day - Philadelphia



Though technically, this is a New Year's Day tradition, it comes out of a Swedish tradition of "Second Day Christmas," featuring post-Christmas visits to friends. The custom expanded to include New Year's Day as well, including a noisy and colorful parade to welcome the new year. There's a good history of the celebration here.

For Philadelphia, the Mummers Parade is as significant and distinctive as Mardi Gras is to New Orleans.

So, how about y'all? What are some of your favorite holiday traditions, here in the US or wherever you live? Please post all about them in the comments and share a little Christmas spirit with the rest of us. Or, if you celebrate a different holiday, like Hannukah, around this time of year, tell us about those traditions as well.

Need the pot sweetened a little bit? I'm going to select one lucky commenter to win a copy of Carla Cassidy's Scene of the Crime: Bridgewater, Texas, which I featured on yesterday's blog post.

So get to commenting!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

December Intrigue Spotlight

Scene of the Crime: Bridgewater, Texas by Carla Cassidy

When Sheriff Matt Buchanan discovers FBI profiler Jenna Taylor snooping around his crime scene, he isn't pleased. The last thing he needs is the FBI meddling. But Jenna is determined to find her best friend's murderer, and she won't be bullied out of town. Then the madman strikes again. His calling card? A red rose.

Realizing they're dealing with a serial killer, Matt accepts Jenna's help. But when Jenna becomes the madman's target, the danger—and their unrelenting attraction—is imminent. Will Jenna find safety in Matt's arms—or will the next rose she receives be her last?

About Carla Cassidy.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Welcome to the Blog Days of Christmas

For twenty-five days straight (I hope!), I plan to blog about Christmas traditions, songs, foods and memories. I'm also going to highlight the six fabulous Harlequin Intrigues available this month and tell you a little about the stories and the authors.

From time to time, I'll post a "Five" list--such as "Five Cheesiest Christmas songs," "Five favorite Christmas foods," and "Five favorite Christmas movies." I hope you'll chime in with your favorites as well.

Also I'll be giving away prizes, including Amazon.com gift certificates, free books, Barnes and Noble gift cards and more!

So please, join me for the Blog Days of Christmas, and be sure to tell your friends!

Plus, don't forget that today's the day that CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK, WYOMING goes on sale at eHarlequin.com. Order your copy today!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Brand Spanking New Website Design

Yeah, I know. I change my website entirely too often. It's the graphic designer in me--never satisfied with the status quo.

Anyway, I've changed up my website pretty drastically. Completely new graphics and colors, plus I've added some pages that needed to be added.

And I wanted a brand new look to my website for when I start my Blog Days of Christmas blog-a-thon tomorrow.

Be sure to visit the blog tomorrow as I start what I hope will be (if I remember to blog every day) 25 straight days of blogging. And I'm going to be giving away prizes, folks, so bookmark this page and check back daily in December.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Free Fic Friday - The Final Edition

Well, kids, this is it. The final installment of Code Name: WILLOW. Our heroes have been through a lot to get to the big finale. Don't forget to come back here and tell me what you thought of the book.

Also, I'm going to be overhauling my website on December 1st, but never fear. I'm going to include a link to Code Name: WILLOW on that site, too. I'll probably just include the full .pdf file for download, but it's not going away. So if you know anyone who loves romantic suspense and wouldn't say no to a free download, feel free to send them to my website for the download.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

2009 has been a rough year in a lot of ways, but I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a loving family, two good jobs, and friends I love. I'm living my lifelong dream of writing for publication, and I have two new kittens who are utterly adorable.

Mac
Cody

Here's hoping you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 16 is up


We're rolling toward the end, folks. Chapter 16 of Code Name: WILLOW is up! And oh my, things are getting hairy for our heroes!

Don't forget to check back here and tell me what you thought of the chapter!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"terrifyingly intense..."

Great 4-star review for CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK, WYOMING, my January 2010 Harlequin Intrigue, from Pat Cooper at Romantic Times Book Reviews:


Riley Patterson has been an obsessed and solitary man since his wife was murdered three years before. Hannah Cooper was an Alabama fishing guide enjoying a vacation in the Wyoming wilderness when she was attacked -- probably by the same man who killed Riley's wife. Thrown together, this pair bonds as Hannah struggles to remember clues that will bring her attacker -- and the murderer of at least a half-dozen other women -- to justice. Maybe she can also free Riley of his overwhelming guilt. A battered, nearly broken man, a feisty, self-reliant woman and a sickly evil marauder are only three of the great elements of this terrifyingly intense tale.

Want to get a copy early? It'll be available December 1st online at eHarlequin.com. On December 1st, click on the Harlequin Intrigue link, then select "January 2010." Buy several--you can give them as Christmas gifts!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 15 is up

Sooooo sorry for how late this notification is. The file has actually been up since this morning, so I hope y'all thought to look for it today.

Anyway, Chapter 15 is up. I hope y'all enjoy it!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 14 is up

Here's Chapter 14 of Code Name: WILLOW. You're about to find out what's really going on in the Big Easy, and it happens pretty quickly, so don't blink or you'll miss something important!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Chickasaw County Captive Cover


New book covers are always a crapshoot. At Harlequin, we don't have a lot of control over what goes on the cover, despite filling out fairly elaborate Art Fact Sheets.

But on this one, I think the artist did a pretty good job. Pay particular attention to the hairstyle on the hero--it has hints of "high and tight," which is appropriate, given that the hero is a retired Marine.

It's also my first "kid on the cover" cover. Hope it does well with the kid-loving readers.

But, as usual, there's something on the front that makes me scratch my head. I actually think the cobwebby attic in the background is way cool, but I really don't remember any such place appearing anywhere in my book.

Oh well.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Good grief, Bama

I'm getting too old to watch Alabama football, apparently.

It was somehow easier to deal with when they were losing all the time instead of winning. Is that crazy?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 12 is up

Content warning--Naughty Marguerite shows up in this one big time. Naughty Jack, too. If you're under 17, don't read this without parental permission.

Here you go.

Friday, October 16, 2009

FREE FIC FRIDAY - Chapter 11

Chapter 11 of Code Name: WILLOW is up. Whole lot happening in this chapter, so enjoy!

And by the way, if you haven't seen it yet, here's the cover of my January book.


It's my first book cover without a hot hero on it. Will it crash and burn? Or will people be intrigued by the bleak, rustic picture and on-the-nose title and want to read more?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Free Fic Friday

New chapter of Code Name: WILLOW is up. I think it's chapter 10.

Sorry it's so late getting up—kitten adoption has intervened. I've got two 5-week old kittens I've had to deal with unexpectedly. Only one of them is eating solid food, so my morning was spent getting kitten formula all over me and a little bitty red tabby.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 9

Chapter 9 of Code Name: WILLOW is up. Things are heating up for our heroes, in more ways than one.

If you're reading Free Friday Fic, please tell your friends about the story. It's never too late to start reading, and I'd love for more people to enjoy the story.

Finally, mark your calendars for August and September, 2010. That looks like the publication months for my third and fourth Cooper Justice books. And, of course, your calendars are already marked for January and February, when my debut Cooper Justice books come out, right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

FREE FIC FRIDAY - Chapter 8

Head over to my website for the next installment of CODE NAME: WILLOW, then come back here and tell me what you think. Good, bad, silly, whatever--I want to hear it.

And this week, I'll draw two names at random from the comments and the winners will get a free autographed book from my backlist.

So what are you waiting for? Go! Read! Then come back and comment for your chance at a free book.
And while you're reading, be sure to check out my blog post on the eHarlequin Intrigue Authors blog as well. The topic: our favorite types of heroes. Yum.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blog post in eHarlequin

I've had Internet woes all weekend, so I didn't get to let y'all know about my post on eHarlequin's Intrigue Authors Blog.

Here's a little hint about the topic:






Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11/2001

Each year, I struggle for a meaningful way to honor the memories of the people who died on 9/11/2001 in the attacks on the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and Flight 93.

Today, I discovered Project 2996, which apparently has been going on for a few years now, and I never knew. I think it's a fitting, beautiful and timely reminder of not just what was lost but who was lost on 9/11. I hope you'll take some time today to read the various tributes to the people behind the numbers.

h/t Ed Morrissey

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 6

It's Free Fic Friday again! Chapter 6 of CODE NAME: WILLOW is up.

This week, I'd like those of you who are reading the story to do me a favor--please tell your reading friends about Free Fic Friday. One of the reasons I decided to make CODE NAME: WILLOW available for free is that I don't have any books out in 2009. I have new books coming (I'm hoping as many as three books out next year), but I'm a fairly new author and an absence from the bookshelves of over a year doesn't do much to help build my readership.

So if you're reading CODE NAME: WILLOW and enjoying it, please tell someone else about it!

Friday, September 04, 2009

FREE FIC FRIDAY - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 of Code Name: WILLOW is up!

Lots happening in this chapter--blink and you'll miss something.

Today's bling for commenting: I'll pay your way (up to $25) to a Reader's Luncheon of your choice. (Birmingham's Southern Magic is holding a great one in the fall, with the delightfully subversive Anne Stuart as our keynote speaker). So if you comment and you have a Reader's Luncheon in mind, be sure to mention it in your comment.

Now, get to reading!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Sold again!

I can't believe I forgot to blog about this!

I sold two more books to Harlequin Intrigue, both in the Cooper Justice series!

I don't have final titles or even publication dates yet, but I've agreed to the terms and I'm hoping that at least one of the two new books will come out in 2010. The first book, working title RUNNING FOR COVER, features Cooper brother Luke, a former Marine Intel officer whose secretive past is about to catch up with him big time, including the son he never knew he had and the woman he never stopped loving.

And the second book, working title BULLETPROOF BACHELOR, features Aaron Cooper, a Chickasaw County Sheriff's Dept. investigator looking into a suspicious fire that damaged the home of one of his high school classmates, formerly nerdy brainiac Melissa, a lawyer whose pro bono work with battered women may have put her in a killer's crosshairs. Aaron barely knew her name in high school, even though she nursed a secret crush on him. But this time around, it's Aaron who's all hot and bothered, while Melissa has plenty of good reasons to resist the charms of the youngest Cooper son.

I'll update you with real titles and publication dates as soon as I know them.

Friday, August 28, 2009

FREE FICTION FRIDAY

Chapter 4 of Code Name: WILLOW is up.

If you commented last week, be sure to check the comments section for a note about who wins the free books from last week's contest. (Little hint--all of you!). Just follow the directions in my last comment and your free book will be on the way.

This week, alas, I don't have a prize to give away, but I still love to hear your comments as you read. And if you made a comment last week, be sure to check the comments later today--I'll be addressing some of what y'all talked about.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh, Hey...There's the Other One...

Chickasaw County Captive is now listed on amazon.com. Along with Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming, that's two of my books you can now pre-order.

Too bad they won't be out in time for Christmas gift-giving...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Free Fic Friday - Chapter 3

You know the drill by now. But this week, I'm sweetening the pot with a little contest. Somewhere in Chapter 3 of Code Name: WILLOW, I reveal how long it's been since Maggie's seen her father. How long is it? The first person to post the correct answer here wins a free $20 amazon.com gift certificate.

Now go read! Then come back and comment!

Update: Because I still want y'all to have reason to revisit this thread even after the $20 Gift Certificate is gone, I'll sweeten the pot a little here. I'd like for those of you reading to comment on what you've liked, what you haven't liked, what themes you see, what characters intrigue you—because I'm a feedback addict. And by the end of this weekend—10 pm central time on Sunday evening—I'm going to draw two names randomly from the commenters on this thread. The winners get signed copies of any one of my backlist books I still have available. (I think Forbidden Territory may be out of stock, even here, though, just to warn you).

So, come on, folks. Show me a little comment love!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Well, Would You Look at That...

Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming is up on Amazon for pre-order. Order early, order often!

Here's a blurb to whet your appetite:

On the trail of the killer who murdered his wife, Wyoming cop Riley Patterson finally has the break he's been waiting for—a survivor. But while Hannah Cooper can't remember anything about her attacker, her attacker remembers her. After a second attempt on her life, Riley offers himself as Hannah's personal bodyguard. But will his growing attraction to Hannah put his case in jeopardy, especially if his best chance to catch a killer puts her directly in the crosshairs?

I actually read the whole novel, beginning to end, last week while doing my final edit of the book before it goes to press. I'm not one who enjoys re-reading my books once I've turned them in to the editor, but I have to say, I found myself sucked right into Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming again. I think it's the tormented, grieving hero who pulled me into the story. It was satisfying to see him come to life again over the course of the story as he found more to live for that just revenge and his wife's memory.

I hope y'all enjoy the story as much as I did!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Free Fiction Friday - Chapter Two

Chapter Two of Code Name: WILLOW is up on my website! Go read, then come back here to talk about it.

If you missed reading Chapter One, no fear. It's still up. Each chapter stays up once it goes up so that anybody coming to the story late can easily catch up.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Free Fiction Fridays are Here!

Visit my website to read the first chapter of CODE NAME: WILLOW, a full-length romantic suspense novel I'm offering, a chapter at a time, on my website every Friday through November.

Here's a little blurb to get you started:

When a former First Daughter's in trouble, there's only one man to go to for help. Too bad Maggie Stone swore she'd never turn to Secret Service Agent Jack Bennett again...

Yeah, kinda vague. But you'll figure out pretty quickly what's going on. Just go read the chapter.

Then come back here and talk about it! And you can be honest; I'm not sensitive. I love to hear feedback, good, bad or ugly.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shout Out Time

Time for one of my favorite kinds of posts: the shout out! This time, it's a big shout-out to my Southern Magic chaptermate, Naima Simone, for her first sale to Ellora's Cave!

Her book, Sweet Ultimatum, is tentatively scheduled for publication later this year. Visit Naima's website: http://www.naimasimone.com/ for more information.

Way to go, Naima!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oh, Yum

Davidoff's Cool Water cologne for men has inked a new deal with Josh Holloway of LOST, ensuring that we get a few more lovely shots of Josh and his pretty, pretty self gracing the pages of magazines in the foreseeable future.

Be sure to click the link because there are nice, big, oh-so-yummy pictures besides this one.
Josh Holloway's character on LOST, James "Sawyer" Ford (more recently known as Jim LeFleur in his 1970s life), is an interesting, complex guy. A family tragedy (his parents' murder/suicide) turned into a boy's quest to find the con man who tempted his mother away and led to his father's homicidal act. But in the process, James became "Sawyer," the conman he wanted to destroy.
Manipulative, larcenous and driven by a thirst for revenge and his own self-loathing hidden behind the veneer of ruthless disdain for anyone else, the Sawyer who crashlanded with the others on the island was a sarcastic, selfish and disruptive force of nature. His schemes to preserve his own life and comfort at the expense of everybody else turned him into a villain early in the series. But as we learned more about his background through his flashbacks, and more about his inner life through his occasional moments of connections with the other survivors, we began to witness a gradual but significant change in the character. I would go so far as to say that in this past season, Sawyer became a true hero.
It'll be interesting to see if his heroism was purely a circumstance of the bizarre situation they were in or if maybe he can sustain the growth for the final season of LOST.
On a personal note, I used Josh Holloway as the inspiration for the character Maddox Heller in my third book, FORBIDDEN TOUCH. Clearly, as you can see from the book cover photo, the art department did not take my description of Maddox as having sandy blond shoulder-length hair into consideration at all.
Oh well, can't complain too much. The FORBIDDEN TOUCH cover is still one of my favorites. It's my first (and so far, only) cover with the heroine on it, and what's funny is, though they got the hero completely wrong, despite my detailed descriptions of him, they got the heroine, Iris Browning, perfectly right, even though I barely gave them anything to go on, since I hadn't really "cast" her with an actress or a model as I had with Maddox.
Don't forget, even though Forbidden Touch has been off most bookshelves for a while, you can still buy it as an ebook at Harlequin online.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Not Your Grandma's Bodice Ripper Anymore

Interesting article on the social stigma of reading/writing romance and how the genre is making breakthroughs in some surprising places. (h/t Wayne Jordan)

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Accidental Potatoes

Have I mentioned that we have a small worm farm? My mother, my niece and I love to fish with live bait for shellcrackers and bluegills, among other things, and red worms are the go-to bait for these feisty little sunfish. However, we found that often, when we were done fishing, we had as much as a whole box of worms left over.

A box of worms can cost as much as a dollar or more, so it seemed a waste to just pour them out in the ground once we were finished fishing, and we knew they didn't thrive in the small cardboard boxes, so I decided to look up worm farming on the internet to see if it was something we could do at home.

Sure enough it's very easy to raise your own redworms. You just need good soil, a large container, a sunny but temperate area to put your container of soil and worms, and table scraps like potato peels, fruit peels and cores (don't use citrus--it makes the soil too acid), and other vegetable scraps like the woody ends of asparagus or the wilted outer leaves of lettuce or cabbage.

So we started our worm farm, adding new additions to the gene pool for a while when we'd have leftover worms from fishing. And now, we have a big flat plastic container full of worms and dirt.

You need to change out the dirt now and then, but that's also a plus, really, because the worm castings in the old dirt are a fantastic natural fertilizer for plants. We changed the dirt early in the spring and then used the discarded dirt to use in planting our vegetables for the summer. Yeah, there were a few red worms left in the old dirt; hard to get them all. But that's good, too, because redworms do the same thing in the plants that they do in soil naturally--eat the leaves that fall off and excrete a natural fertilizer.

What we found, to our surprise, however, was that there was something else in the soil besides the worms and their castings. There was apparently a piece of red potato with an eye still in it, because one of our planters that we hadn't planted anything in yet suddenly began sprouting a potato plant. It's big, lush and responding beautifully to nothing but occasional watering. A couple of weeks ago, it bloomed, and today, I harvested the first four baby red potatoes from the accidental potato plant. We're going to have them either for lunch or dinner.

We're thinking about planting potatoes on purpose next year. They seem to thrive in our climate and being in the container rather than the ground doesn't seem to faze them.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Forbidden Territory

My first book, FORBIDDEN TERRITORY, is very hard to find new online, and y'all know how I feel about buying new if you can.

Powell's Books has one available. First come, first served!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What is Patience Smith Really Like?

The lovely folks at Pink Fuzzy Slippers Writers give you a chance to find out with their interview with the Silhouette Romantic Suspense senior editor.

I love my editor and writing for Intrigue, but this interview really tempts me to pitch a few things Patience's way, just so I could work with her.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If you were stranded on a deserted island...

(Crossposted from the Intrigue Authors blog and the eHarlequin Intrigue Authors Blog)

We're doing our spring cleaning at home a little late in the season, in order to turn a basement den into a small apartment for my sister. Unfortunately for me, the basement den is where I've stored about half my books, so now I have to find room for them upstairs. Except, if there were room upstairs for the books, they'd have already been up here. So you know what that means: it's time to cull.

Culling out books is hard for me. I'm a collector by nature, and many of these books I've had since childhood. But as I go through the books, I'm finding that many books that once meant a lot to me I can now get rid of without much pain.

Writing books have been some of the more obvious casualties, now that I'm published and know more about what it takes to be a writer. The books that were once so valuable to me for their information and support are now headed to charity or the local library in hopes that they educate and inspire other aspiring writers still reaching for the brass ring of publication. Also gone are the piles of romances and other novels I bought over the years as I tried to find my niche as a writer. Not all of them, of course; the ones that spoke to me, that helped me find my genre and my voice, stay on my shelves in an honored place.

I have books I bought as reference material for a specific novel that I'm now getting rid of because the novel is written, or the reference book turned out to be useless. I have books that I'm getting rid of because they're literally falling apart at the seams or they duplicate, in some way, other books I have. (I have a large Shakespeare compendium I bought in college that's in wonderful shape; what's the point in holding onto those little paperback versions of specific plays?)

The classics stay, even if I didn't enjoy them, because I have nieces in grammar school who aren't too far from needing those books for their studies. I have books that I seldom read but keep for sentimental reasons, like the books written by a writer friend who passed away tragically early from cancer. I kept my college textbooks forever, but I'm finally letting some of them go--Algebra, Trigonometry--while I hold onto others--Zoology, Spanish, all my English textbooks--because I think they might be useful to me yet. Who knows when I might write about a hunky biologist and a sassy English professor who end up on the run in South America? (...jotting that idea down in the idea file...)

I've often played along with the old game, "If you were stranded on a deserted island, what's the one book you'd want to have with you?" It's fun to speculate. It's not so much fun, however, to have to reduce your book collection by nearly half. I can attest to that personally.

However, I do think I could probably come up with a list of five books I'd have to have with me: The Bible, Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF SHAKESPEARE, THE STAND by Stephen King and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. (But I sure would miss ROBERT FROST'S POEMS, PERSUASION, JANE EYRE, the Harry Potter books and THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN).

So, what about you? If you had to trim your book collection drastically, what would go? What would stay? Or is this a subject too horrifying to contemplate?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Introducing...Cooper Justice

Coming from Harlequin Intrigue in 2010:
COOPER JUSTICE
The Coopers of Chickasaw County, Alabama believe in truth, justice and family. They also want to believe that love can last forever—but danger has a way of finding each of them at the worst possible moment...
CASE FILE: CANYON CREEK, WYOMING
January 2010

On the trail of the killer who murdered his wife, Wyoming cop Riley Patterson finally has the break in the case he's been waiting for—a real, live survivor. But while pretty tourist Hannah Cooper can't remember anything about her attacker, he remembers her. After a second attempt on Hannah's life, Rileyoffers himself as her personal bodyguard. But will his growing attraction to Hannah put his case in jeopardy, especially if his best chance to catch a killer puts Hannah directly in the crosshairs?


CHICKASAW COUNTY CAPTIVE
February 2010

Someone is targeting Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Sam Cooper— and using his family to do it. After an attempted kidnapping leaves Sam's four-year-old daughter Maddy traumatized and his teenaged niece in a coma, Sam knows he needs help protecting his family and finding out who's behind the attack. But is a young, female police detective with a notoriously tragic past really the person for the job?