Monday, December 27, 2010
DEADLINE - JANUARY 15, 2011
2011 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
The Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, sponsored by RWA chapter Southern Magic, was conceived in honor of multi-RITA Winner Gayle Wilson to award excellence in published romance fiction. The contest is judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and/or librarians. The winners of each category are awarded a bookmark engraved with the author’s name and the book’s title. Winners will also be included in a full-page RWR advertisement.
Eligibility: Entries must be received by January 15, 2011. Novels and novellas must have a copyright and first printing date of 2010, no matter the format. Books are eligible to enter as long as they are published by a non-vanity, non-subsidy publisher. Ebooks may be entered as long as they are in print format—in perfect or case binding, and printed on both sides of the page by the publisher with the copyright page.
For the purposes of this contest, Southern Magic uses the definition of "non-vanity, non-subsidy" as defined by Romance Writers of America: "Subsidy" or "Vanity" publishing means the production of books in which the author participates in the costs of production or distribution in any manner, including assessment of fees or other costs for editing and/or distribution. This definition includes publishing programs that withhold or seek full or partial payment or reimbursement of publication or distribution costs before paying royalties, including payment of paper, printing, binding, production, sales or marketing costs; publishing programs whose authors exclusively promote and/or sell their own books; and publishers whose business model and methods of publishing are primarily directed toward sales to the author, his/her relatives and associates." If you have any questions about eligibility, please contact the contest coordinator.
Entry fee: $30 first book; $25 subsequent books.
Author must provide three copies of the entered book, which will not be returned. Finalists will be notified in March 2011. All finalists receive a certificate. Winners receive an engraved bookmark and inclusion in a full-page RWR ad. Authors may enter more than one novel; however, the same novel may not be entered in multiple categories. If a category does not receive at least 5 entries, the category will be canceled, and the entrants’ books and entry fees will be returned.
Categories for entry:
Contemporary (Single Title and Series)
Romantic Suspense (Single Title and Series)
Inspirational (Single Title and Series)
Paranormal/Fantasy/ Futuristic/Time Travel
Novella (20,000 – 40,000 Words)
Judging: All entries are judged by avid readers of romance, booksellers, and/or librarians. The top two scores are added to form the final score. The lowest score is dropped. Ties are broken using the dropped low score. After the dropped low score is used, if there is still a tie for first place, authors will be asked to send two additional copies of the book to break the tie. Failure of the author to supply these copies in a timely manner will result in forfeiture of the win.
Books are given to the judges as a “thank you” for judging. They are not returned. Scores and finalist placement are not revealed. Score sheets are not returned. The decision of the judges is final.
PLEASE NOTE: We would like to make this contest electronic this year (as much as we can for a published contest). Entered books will go to an address different than the PO address listed below. The address (for books) will be sent later in an “Entry Confirmation” email.
Make checks payable to Southern Magic, or send entry fee by PayPal. When sending by PayPal, send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please type the category of your entry in the comment section of PayPal.
Send electronic entry forms (preferred method) to:
Callie James at GWContest@southernmagic.org
Send paper entry forms (NO BOOKS) and checks to:
Southern Magic Contest Coordinator
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence
PO Box 261
McCalla, AL 35111-0261
Sunday, December 26, 2010
After melting off and not snowing a while yesterday afternoon, it apparently snowed more overnight, giving us about a half inch of snow accumulation, enough to turn the ground mostly white. It's still snowing quite a bit this morning, although it looks like the sun is trying hard to shine through the breaking clouds.
Here are a few pics I took this morning.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
And it's snowing.
Isn't that a sign of the apocalypse?
It's snowing really hard, but the ground is still above freezing at the moment so not much is sticking. However, if the snow showers keep it up this way, that'll change and we might get as much as an inch on the ground.
Check back every once in a while. If it starts to stick here, I'll update with photos.
Friday, December 24, 2010
So since I plan to be all about Christmas with the family tomorrow, I'd like to take the opportunity today to wish all my readers a very merry Christmas. When I was complaining about feeling a little Grinchy this year on another blog, a commenter suggested I should read some verses from the Christmas story in the Bible. It's a good suggestion every Christmas, so I'll share my personal favorite passage from the story:
Luke 2: 8-14
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 that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, 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 heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."
I love that Jesus came to earth as a vulnerable human baby, not an other-wordly conquerer, and the message of his birth was revealed not to kings but to shepherds working their ordinary jobs in the fields. God loves us all and reaches out to us where we are. That's a wonderful message any time of the year, isn't it?
Thank you, all of you, for reading my blog and supporting me this past year. I hope to have new, fun stuff to write about next year as well, with four new books coming out and other proposals in the works for 2012.
God bless all of you and have a wonderful Christmas!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Ladies, please email me (my email is listed in my Blogger profile) with your preference of prizes. If you choose the autographed book, I'll need your snail mail addy.
What's my Christmasy blog message for today? Well, today, I'll attend my office Christmas party, which at the ad agency I work for consists of bringing in lunch, chatting about something besides print deadlines and media buys, and going home right after lunch. Yay! No chance for anyone to get naked and make YouTube history, thank goodness.
Then, I may go with my mom to do some last minute Christmas shopping, or I may be a good girl and buckle down on trying to finish the book I'm writing at the moment, which is due Jan 15th. Fortunately, I'm only about a chapter and a half from the end of the story, so I'm hopeful that I can finish by Christmas Eve and not have to work on Christmas at all. I'm hoping to also sneak in a little aunt time with my nieces and some serious cat cuddling.
So, what do the rest of y'all have planned for the next few days?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
But that doesn't mean I can't give stuff way, does it?
I'm going to pick three winners at random from the comments, and you'll get your choice of A) $10 eGiftcard from the online bookseller of your choosing: B) your choice of any book on eHarlequin, including Mira and HQN books, which I'll order and send to your address or C) a copy of any of my books, up to and including my August and September 2010 books, autographed and personalized by me.
You will not hurt my feelings if you don't choose my books. I'm going to assume you either already own them or you love me as an author enough to want to buy them yourself so I'll make the royalties. Right? Right?
And just so you don't have to comment at random, let's see if I can come up with a Christmas related question to discuss in the comments...hmm...
How about, "How old were you when you began to doubt the existence of Santa Claus? And what made you doubt the jolly old soul existed?"
And if you still believe in Santa...well, you can make your case in the comments as well. :)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Despite my recent descent into Grinchiness, Christmas is still my favorite day of the year, for all sorts of reasons. Primarily because of what it symbolizes to Christians like me, but also because it's a day to remember that loving each other matters and that giving is as much a blessing as receiving.
So, now that I have that bit of sappiness out of the way, let's get this party started!
I was thinking about some of the suggestions y'all gave me in the blog the other day, and one that stuck out for me was "most memorable Christmas gift."
I wish I had a poignant, dramatic answer for that question, but I really don't. When I was growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money, so while we never lacked for gifts, I wasn't likely to find a Trans-Am under the tree or anything. So I can't remember any big impact-making gift. Also, most of my most notable gifts came when I was a child, and I can't remember a lot from my childhood unless something triggers the memory.
I remember getting a little nursing uniform when I was about ten or eleven because at that time, I wanted to be a nurse when I grew up. I got dolls out the wazoo--I loved dolls back then, even though now, I don't have many maternal instincts--so I remember a few of those, including my first Baby Tenderlove and the year I got a "toddler" doll.
And speaking of triggered memories, that reminds me of a non-Christmas story from my childhood. My sister, my friend Woni and I were having a sleepover downstairs in the basement of the home where we lived when I was growing up. Also at the time, my sister and I had a pair of life-sized little girl dolls that were, roughly, about the size of my three-year-old brother, Dennis.
Anyway, the basement was nearly windowless and very dark at night, and we were about seven or eight years old at the time, a prime age to freak ourselves out completely. We had "gone to bed" at the time, which in sleepover language means, we were in bed but we were too giggly and excited to actually sleep, so we were talking. But Woni decided she needed to go to the bathroom, which was upstairs. So as she was heading upstairs to the bathroom, I heard her falter to a stop and say, in this freaked-out voice, "Dennis? Is that you?"
Suddenly, there was this big thump and Woni screamed her head off. One of us, either my sister or I, got up and turned on the lights to find Woni on the floor, wrestling with one of those big dolls. Apparently, she'd run into the doll in the dark, felt its hair and size and thought my little brother had sneaked down stairs to see what we were doing. When it fell on top of her, she thought she was under attack!
So, I guess that big two-year-old doll was my most memorable Christmas present, although it took a few months to reach its full memorability potential. ;)
Now it's your turn? Do you have a memorable Christmas gift, good or bad? Tell us all about it!
Saturday, December 18, 2010
I just read the line edits on this book, and I have to admit, I really love this book. I have a very soft spot for a hero who's loved someone deeply and lost her to tragedy or, worse, violence. I started the Cooper Justice series with just such a hero, and I ended this particular series with a hero going through something similar, although J.D. Cooper is a very different guy from Riley Patterson.
I think I've given him a worthy heroine. I'm dying to hear what y'all think.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
But since I've started a blog post, might as well keep going. So here's a little this and that...
Item One: My Blogging Schedule
I'll be blogging at the Intrigue Authors blog tomorrow, and I have no idea what I'm going to blog about. I haven't done a cat update in a while---maybe I'll cat blog, if I can get the cats to settle down tonight and let me take some decent photos. But really, I wouldn't depend on that. The last time I tried to take photos of the cats, they call came out looking like this:
I'll also be blogging at Romance Magicians on December 28th, if you're out of your Christmas food coma by then. And I'll be giving away books. Maybe even more books than just my own. You never know--you'll have to drop by and find out.
Item Two: My Writing
Just heard from my editor that she's turned in my edits for Cooper Vengeance, the final book in the Cooper Justice series, which will be on sale in June 2011. So except for the final galley edits (what we call Author Alterations at Harlequin), the Cooper Justice series is officially done.
Well, sort of. Have I yet mentioned that my next book proposal is for a Cooper Justice sequel, featuring cousins of the original Gossamer Ridge family? I'm pitching the series as Cooper Justice: Cooper Security. Yeah, a little wordy, but I think it works. The three brothers and three sisters all work for Cooper Security, an investigation and security firm run by the eldest of the Cooper cousins, Jesse.
The details aren't firmed up--after all, I haven't even pitched it yet--but I'm hoping to have more information soon after the first of the year.
Item Three: Santapalooza
You may have noticed that I'm a bit scattered and ditzy this month. It's the combination of trying to finish a book due 1/15/11, trying to get my edits done on two of the three books coming out in the spring of 2011, trying to invent and write a proposal for new books for 2012, and trying to get a 28-page catalog designed and composed at my day job, which is due this week, and not all of the outside vendor pages have come in yet. Eeek!
And that doesn't even factor in Christmas activities.
So I could use a little help from y'all--and all it requires is a little thought. Just answer this question: For Santapalooza, I would like to see Paula write about ________________.
I mean, I've done the favorite Christmas carols thing (although I wouldn't mind doing it again, because I'm opinionated and love to tell you what I think is good or not). I've done the Christmas traditions thing. I've done blogs on my favorite Christmas movies, like A Christmas Story, which I love beyond all sanity.
So this year, I'd like to know what y'all are interested in discussing. Think of it as an interactive blog experience. Or something like that.
And the first two people to post an answer in the comments get a $10 eGiftcard from the online bookstore of your choice.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
But if you're not like me, and you're still looking for gifts for the romance readers on your list, I have to recommend eHarlequin. Even if you're not buying one of my books, I still recommend it. I shop online with eHarlequin all the time, and not for ebooks, although those are available, too.
Need some good reasons?
1) I'll get it over with up front: if you click on the book cover links you see at the right on my blog (not the Amazon.com ones but the others), you not only get my books at eHarlequin's low prices, but I earn a little commission on the sales. So please, if you're thinking about buying my books online, buy them either through this blog or my home page to help me out. Also, the ebooks link and the "free shipping" text link right below it (farther down the right hand side bar) are also what are called affiliate links. So if you want to shop at eHarlequin and help a poor writer out, you can click through and purchase through those links and I'll get commission.
2) Now that the icky business part is out of the way, did I mention that eHarlequin offers lower prices than most retailers or online bookstores? They do. Prices are usualy around 50¢ to a dollar less than anywhere else, outside of used books. (And used books earn the author exactly zip, so if you can buy new, please buy new and help an author out). Plus, Harlequin has cool promotional authors, such as the free shipping I mentioned (link to the right) and other deals, like slashed prices on select books and Free Books on Fridays.
3) If you buy from eHarlequin, you know you're buying new, and that the authors whose works you love so much are getting paid for giving you so much enjoyment. (Okay, this post is starting to sound a little money-grubbing, isn't it?)
4) If you shop at eHarlequin, you might also hang around to read all the cool forums and blogs available on eHarlequin. Make some friends among a bunch of avid readers and friendly, helpful writers who hang out there as well.
5) eHarlequin offers a huge variety of books for sale, including eBooks, which means that almost anyone you know can find something to love there. Mira offers thrillers and women's fiction as well as romantic suspense, historicals and contemporary romance. You can find fantasy/science fiction/speculative fiction from Luna and both of the single title imprints (HQN and Mira). You can find all the great series romance people love. You can also find sexy paranormals and sexy romances and wonderful inspirational romances, romantic suspense and historicals.
So, if you're looking for just the right thing for a reader on your gift list, you could do a whole lot worse than shopping at eHarlequin.
Saturday, December 04, 2010
I'm actually reading the final galley edits of this book, and I have to say, I'm really enjoying it. I don't always say that about my books—usually by the time I'm at the galley stage (the final time I get to look at the book before it goes to print), I'm heartily sick of a book. But this one has such fun characters, and the romance starts percolating right off the bat, which is not true of all my books.
It's the second book in the Cooper Justice: Cold Case Investigation trilogy, and it features Cooper brother Gabe, a bass fisherman/fishing guide and part-time sheriff's deputy who has a very personal stake in the investigation of his sister-in-law Brenda's murder. When his niece Cissy calls him to come visit her at college, he ends up drawn into a serial killer investigation that may have everything to do with what happened to his sister-in-law twelve years earlier. One of Cissy's college instructors, Alicia Solano, is convinced Brenda's murder was one of several murders committed by the same killer, a murder spree spanning over a decade. And Alicia is willing to put her own life on the line to prove her theory. Will Gabe, as hungry as he is for answers, let her risk her life for the truth?
I hope y'all love The Man from Gossamer Ridge as much as I do. Hey, I have an idea! Preorder the book and find out yourself! :) Just click on the link to the right.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
However, m usual Grinchiness as a blogger runs smack dab into cyber-Whoville around this time of year, and I do feel compelled to blog more in the month of December about Christmas. However, since I'm on deadline, I can't promise I'll be posting every day. I am, however, going to post more this month. And there's no telling what the topic might be or whether or not it actually has a bloody thing to do with Christmas.
However, I'll promise you this: Santapalooza is coming! December 20th - 24th, I'll be posting all sorts of Christmas related things every day, with chances to win prizes included! Why, I believe my heart has grown three sizes just thinking about it! ;)
Tell your friends to watch for Santapalooza. If don't follow my blog, click the little "follow" button and you can get email reminders on the days I blog so you don't miss a thing, including chances to win great prizes! (And as you know, I don't blog a lot, so you're not exactly going to be bombarded with emails from me).
Talk to y'all soon!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I finally took some pictures of an event! I know y'all are probably shocked. I mostly took pictures of other authors, but since they're a lovely bunch, I figure that's fine with y'all.
Lynn Raye Harris (L) and Kimberly Lang (R), both Harlequin Presents authors (and Kimberly also writes for Presents Extra, I believe). Kim, I'm sorry that I caught you talking with your hands, but, well, I didn't have all day to take a picture. ;)
Lynn always makes us other authors look like schlubs. She has the best fashion sense and she always looks fabulous. Plus, I gave her no warning before I snapped this photo, and look at her gorgeous, smiling pose.
Louise Vaughn Gambrell, author of Red Angels.
The delightful Melanie Dickerson, whose first book, The Healer's Apprentice, came out early this fall. Melanie kept me company a couple of months ago at a booksigning in Huntsville. She's a lovely person and you should check out her book.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
So, of course, if you're in the mood to get a little early shopping out of the way, have at it.
Want to know a little about the book?
Well, it starts with a tornado. And then things really start falling apart for the hero and heroine, who happen to be already married. That's right, I wrote a romance where the hero and heroine are already a couple. Because apparently I love to torture myself as much as I torture my characters.
It's also the first book in a miniseries within the Cooper Justice series—Cooper Justice: Cold Case Investigation. Here's a little banner I created to promote the three-book miniseries, coming April, May and June 2011:
Ready to pre-order yet? You know you are...
Sunday, October 24, 2010
I do have a reason for my extra slackiness. I was sick for almost two weeks with a rather painful case of cellulitis. The good news is, I didn't have to be hospitalized; I caught it early and treated it quickly with antibiotics. The bad news is, it hit right as my day job exploded into chaos due to a Christmas online catalog that turned into a print catalog as well, and all of which I alone could work on because nobody else at my office really knows how to make the files happen. So even though I could only spend a few hours a day at my office (after being out of the office completely for nearly a week, due to being nauseated and headachy the first week of the illness), I still had to work a full day just to get things done. I brought home all the files to work on here on my home computer; fortunately, a few months ago I had bought the necessary software to work at home if I ever needed to.
So anyway, I've been working wall to wall on the day job project, as well as finishing up the final Cooper Justice book. ::sniffle:: And tomorrow, I have to hit the ground running on my inline continuity book that's due 1/15/11.
All that to say, sorry I've been such a blogging slug, and here are the contest winners for the Bachelor Sheriff book launch: Nancy Ison and Amanda Gardner! Please click on the "home" button at the top of this blog, which will take you to my website. Then click on "contact" to email me with your email addresses so I can send you the eGiftcards.
And thank you, everyone who commented. I may not seem grateful (being as how I avoided the blog for a month and all), but I really am.
Let's see, what else do I have to tell y'all? Well, The Long and the Short of It Reviews gave the first three books in the Cooper Justice series some very nice reviews. I don't know if they're still on the website anymore, but the reviewer was kind enough to post the reviews on Amazon, so you can read them there:
Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming: http://www.amazon.com/Case-File-Wyoming-Harlequin-Intrigue/dp/0373694504
Chickasaw County Captive: http://www.amazon.com/Chickasaw-County-Captive-Harlequin-Intrigue/dp/0373694563/ref=pd_sim_b_1
One Tough Marine: http://www.amazon.com/One-Tough-Marine-Harlequin-Intrigue/dp/0373694911/ref=pd_sim_b_6
Whew. Sorry to just regurgitate everything I've been sitting on all at once, but hopefully, I'll be a little bit more frequent with my blog posts now that I'm just about through with the day job project.
Well, at least until it's time to start work on the direct mail catalog that drops in February...
Friday, September 24, 2010
I also recently got a very nice review of my September 2008 book Cowboy Alibi from The Long and the Short of It Reviews. My favorite blurb from the review? "Paula Graves is one of my favorite romantic suspense authors because she consistently writes a thrilling, sexy, solid book." Aww, shucks. ::blush::
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
So drop by and tell us--were you cool in school? Or was nerd the word?
(Did I really just write that lame rhyme? Told you I was a nerd).
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Monday, September 06, 2010
Do you have a thing for good guys who don't always walk the straight and narrow but usually end up doing the right thing? Drop by and discuss it with the rest of us.
Sunday, September 05, 2010
The heroine, Melissa Draper, was a high school classmate of Aaron's. But if you're thinking high school sweethearts reunited, um, well, no. Melissa may have nursed a secret crush on Mr. Popular, but Aaron's memories of Melissa are a little hazier.
Funny that it turns out the girl he barely remembers from high school is quickly becoming the girl he can't get out of his head...
Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here's an excerpt from the beginning of the book, just to whet your appetites:
Jasper's low whine jarred Melissa Draper awake. Blinking to clear the sleep from her eyes, she peered into the inky gloom at the foot of her bed, where the Beagle-mix puppy usually slept. But Jasper wasn't there.Ready to pick up your copy of Bachelor Sheriff? You don't have to wait for it to
Her heart quickening, she sat upright. "Jasper?"
She kicked off the bedcovers and shivered, surprised to find the room had grown frigidly cold during the night. From the doorway, Jasper whimpered softly.
Melissa turned on the bedside lamp. Nothing happened. The digital alarm clock on her bedside table was also dark.
The power must be out. That explained the cold.
Outages weren't unusual where Melissa lived. Fallen tree limbs, lightning strikes—any number of events could cause a break in her power supply. She'd bought a gasoline generator last year for that very reason.
She kept a flashlight in the bedside table drawer. She found it and turned it on. A beam of light sliced the darkness, bouncing off a light haze.
Then the acrid smell of smoke hit her nose.
"Come, Jasper." She grabbed her robe and entered the narrow hallway. The puppy kept pace as she headed for the stairs.
As the smell of burning wood and plastic assaulted her in a bitter cloud, her heart rate soared. Now she could hear the faint shriek of the smoke detector going off downstairs.
Her house was on fire.
The hallway smoke detector went off right over her head, making her jump. Leaning against the wall, her hand over her galloping heart, she tried to think what to do next.
The phone in her room depended on electricity, but her cell phone usually worked, even this far out of town. It was in her purse downstairs. She had to get to it.
Gagging on the acrid haze, she crouched low and hurried to the top of the stairs. She paused there, peering down the steep stairs, her head swimming. She hated heights, even in full daylight when she could see each step down. With the bottom floor barely visible through the smoky haze, the dizzy sensation was that much worse.
Clinging to the rail all the way down, she reached the first floor unscathed. The smoke seemed to be coming from the back of the house, near the kitchen. Had she left the stove on?
She dropped to her knees, crawling through the thickening smoke toward her purse on the foyer table. Purse in hand, she groped her way to the door, reached up and twisted the dead bolt.
She tugged at the dead bolt again, but the lock didn't turn.
Beside her Jasper started to bark wildly, startling her. "It's okay, buddy, we're going to be okay." She could get out through the windows, breaking one if it didn't open.
First, she had to stay calm and think, while she still had time. What could she save before the fire consumed it?
Her pro bono files were in a metal file cabinet down the hall, but there were copies of those on disks in a safe-deposit box at the bank, plus digital copies of vital records on her laptop as well. The work files in the cabinet were just copies of files stored at the law office. There were some photos she didn't want to lose, but she wouldn't risk her life going back upstairs for them. Clothes, food and appliances could be replaced by the insurance check. All she had to save were her purse, her notebook computer and her dog.
She swung the long strap of her purse over her neck and grabbed the attaché case containing her notebook computer. "Let's go, Jasper."
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted movement outside. Turning her head, she saw what might have been a shadowy figure disappear past the far window facing the front porch.
She froze for a second, until a popping sound coming from the kitchen spurred her into action again. She dug her phone from her purse and dialed 911, reaching out to calm her frantic dog. "Jasper, shh…"
A female voice answered. "Chickasaw County 911."
"This is Melissa Draper. I live on Tuckahaw Road, south of the bridge. My house is on fire." Reaching up, she tried the door again. The lock wouldn't budge. "I'm also having trouble getting out of the house."
After a brief pause, the woman replied, "We've got units on the way. Is there a first floor window you can open?"
Melissa peered up at the windows that looked out on the porch. The memory of the mysterious shadow gave her a moment's pause. Had someone set the fire deliberately? Maybe cut the power to the house?
Was he outside, waiting for her?
She'd have to take the risk.
She pushed to her feet. "I'm putting the phone in the pocket of my robe. Just a minute." She swept the window drapes aside. Moonlight washed the front porch outside with cold blue light, dimmed by a light haze from the fire at the back of her house. From her vantage point, she saw nothing and no one moving outside.
She unlocked the window and tugged at the sash. Decades of old paint put up a fight, but she finally heard a soft crack over the wail of the smoke alarm, and the window rattled open. She unlatched the screen and pushed it onto the porch. It fell with a soft clatter.
"Come on, Jasper." She picked up the trembling dog and lowered him out the window onto the porch. Pulling up the hem of her robe, she crawled out the window in a hurry, hauling her purse and attaché over the sill with her. She landed with an awkward thump on the porch beside her frantic, barking puppy.
"We're out," she said into her cell phone, her gaze sweeping the front lawn for any sign of intruders. All she saw was winter-browned grass spreading twenty yards square, hemmed by woods on both sides and the narrow lane in front.
"You need to get away from the house. Head to a neighbor's house if it's too cold to wait outside," the 911 operator suggested.
Melissa's Volkswagen GTI sat in the driveway, a safe distance from the house. She and Jasper could wait there.
On her way to the porch steps, she paused by the door. Shining her flashlight on the dead bolt, she caught her breath when she spotted a small stick wedged into the keyhole. That's why she hadn't been able to unlock the front door.
Had someone put the stick there on purpose?
In the distance, wailing sirens broke the silence of the dark night. Melissa kept moving, clicking her fingers at Jasper and hoping he was unnerved enough by their current ordeal to follow her rather than haring off in all directions the way he usually did when he was off his leash. To her relief, he stayed close, hopping right into the car when she opened the door.
The car's interior was frigidly cold, making her wish that she'd considered her warm winter coat one of the necessary things to save from the fire. She doubted the cold engine would generate enough heat to make a difference before the firemen arrived, so she didn't risk it, huddling close to Jasper, grateful, for once, to have his warm puppy breath in her face.
A column of thick black smoke roiled from the back of her house. No flames visible yet, but a faint glow tinted the rising smoke and she tried not to think too hard about what parts of her house might be burning to the ground while she waited for the firemen to arrive.
She checked the car door locks one more time. Someone had stuck that twig in the dead bolt. Might have been a prank, but what if it wasn't? If Jasper hadn't started whining when he did, she might not have awakened until fire had engulfed the entire house. The time wasted trying to open the sabotaged door could have been the difference between living and dying.
But who would have done such a thing?
show up in your bookstore. Click the link to the right and buy your copy from
eHarlequin right now.
(Full disclosure--I receive a commission for any sales resulting from the click-through).
Text Copyright © 2010 by Paula Graves. Cover Art Copyright © 2010 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. © and ™ are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.
Monday, August 30, 2010
Thanks for commenting!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Like last time, I'll be giving away a $10 eGift Card to a commenter at random--you can choose your favorite online book store and I'll buy you a gift card!
Want a little hint of what you'll find at the Intrigue Blog? Well, how about this cryptic answer:
A: I knew what they'd choose. They'd take their chances. And any one of them could end up dead.
What was the question? Click the link above and find out!
Monday, August 16, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
By the way, due to my very bad scheduling, I'm also featured in a Q & A on Mysteries and Margaritas today, so if you want to drop by and hear my answers to Kari's great questions, you know how to click the link.
Now back to the book launch!
One Tough Marine is my seventh book from Harlequin Intrigue, but it's the first one to ever deal with subject matter I once swore I'd never touch as an author.
That's right, I'm talking about secret babies.
I've never really understood the appeal of secret baby stories. I know a lot of readers must love them, because a lot of books are built around that popular hook. But I always have trouble with the motivations involved.
Why would the heroine keep something so important from the child's father? I mean, I could see why she would if the father was an abusive creep or a crime lord or something. More power to her for lying her head off. But she's invariably lying to the guy who's going to be the hero of our book. How are we supposed to root for a woman who'd keep that kind of secret from the hero?
So you can imagine my surprise when I was plotting One Tough Marine and realized that the heroine's young son belonged to the hero. See, when I first started conceiving of the story, I thought the baby was the son of the heroine's late husband, and the hero would be protecting her and the little boy because he was the late husband's best friend.
But almost as soon as I got into the meat of the story, I realized the little boy had to be the hero's son. It raised all the stakes exponentially, complicated both the internal and external conflicts, and just all around made for a better story.
But once I committed to the secret baby story, I had to work really, really hard to motivate my heroine—and hero—in ways that allowed both characters to remain honorable and rootable. To generate sympathy for the heroine, I had to give her a very good reason to keep the secret. And then, for the hero, I had to provide a sympathetic reason to have deliberately made the heroine believe he would be an unreliable or indifferent father. Whew! That was a tough assignment.
I'll be interested in seeing if people think I've accomplished the task—not just people who love secret baby stories but also people who don't.
I'll be drawing four--that's right, four--winners from the comments to receive copies of your choice of any 2 back list books I still have available (including my January and February Intrigues, the first two books in the Cooper Justice saga)--or a $10 eGift card or certificate from the online bookstore of your choice.
So get to talking! Are you a fan of a secret baby story? If so, what makes them appealing to you? And if you're a secret baby story skeptic, like I was (and mostly still am), what would a writer have to do to convince you to go along with her secret baby story?
I realized a $5 gift card wouldn't cover shipping for even one book, so I've upped the total to $10. And you get two back list books if you go that route. So even bigger prizes! Tell your friends. Tweet about it. Drop a line on Facebook. Let's get this party started!
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Anyway, I blogged a Q & A with Abby Chandler, the heroine of my August book One Tough Marine. (Click the link to the side if you haven't ordered your copy yet!)
Click the link above and ask Abby your questions! I'll be drawing the name of a commenter to win a $10 gift certificate to the online bookstore of your choice (as long as they offer eGiftcards or certificates).
Friday, August 06, 2010
I'm giving away a prize to a random commenter, so join the conversation! Click on the link above and leave your comments. We're talking about what kind of romance heroes rev our engines. So to speak. :)
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
8/6/10 - Writerspace Blog
Update: My topic is U.S. Marines. Mmmm.
8/10/10 - One Tough Marine in stores
8/10/10 - Launch Party on Spinsters & Lunatics
Be sure to show up for this one. I'll be giving away prizes, answering all your questions about the upcoming books (well, except spoilery ones) and discussing what's in store for the final (sob!) three Cooper Justice books if you're interested in hearing about those.
8/11/10 - Petit Fours and Hot Tamales
8/15/10 - Romance Magicians Blog
8/16/10 - Pink Heart Society Blog
8/18/10 - Intrigue Authors Blog
8/20/10 - Tawny Weber's Blog
Just turned this one in, so I know what it's about. It's called Quick Six, and it's a set of either/or questions. Sort of like "Paper or plastic?" only more fun. And at the end, I ask YOU to answer an either/or question. Commenters automatically qualify to win a couple of my backlist books, so if you're missing any, this could be a good time to comment, as I'll let you pick your choice of my backlist.
8/26/10 - Intrigue Authors Blog
Sunday, August 01, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Every week when I come back to work on Monday, the spam filter of my office email is usually chock full of spammy goodness. Occasionally, the subject headers make me giggle. So I thought I'd share them with you.
I'm skipping all the overt Viagra spam, because, well...Viagra. Now, on to the rest...
"Life is too short to waste it thoughtlessly."
You're right. ::delete::
"was a loud bang and a dreadful shriek, and then all was still"
Oh, low blow. That's catnip to a suspense writer...must be strong... ::delete::
"57% off. Famous Watches."
Famous? What did those watches do to become famous? Is it tabloid famous or real famous? Eh, I have a $20 watch I love. When it wears out, I'll get another $20 watch exactly like it. ::delete::
C U L8tr. ::delete::
"Give your partner a one-way ticket to ecstasy-land."
One way? ONE WAY? That'd be unwieldy... ::delete:::
"66% off High-end Watches"
Better deal than the famous ones, I guess. But is famous better than high-end? Eh, $20 watch I love. ::delete::
"Earn more for a superior life. adamite agronomics albuminolysis"
Step slowly back from the dictionary and nobody gets hurt... ::delete::
"Your Amazon.com Order"
Came about a week ago. Thanks. ::delete::
So, there's Spam Watch for today. Did anybody get any interesting spam over the weekend?
Thursday, July 22, 2010
PITCH, PILE, OR PUBLIC: THREE PATHS TO PUBLICATION
Dates: September 13-27*, 2010
Instructors: Kira Sinclair, Kimberly Lang, & Lynn Raye Harris
Sponsored by: Heart of Dixie, RWA
Register at: http://www.heartofdixie.org/
There is no one path to publication; no one way to get an editor or agent’s attention. In this workshop, three authors draw on their own experiences to prepare you for success on the three most common paths to an editor or agent’s desk.
The Pitch: Kira Sinclair’s pitch led to a request, then a sale. Kira will go over the basics of how to craft a short, informative pitch designed to showcase your book’s best bits and leave the agent or editor requesting more. Kira now writes for Harlequin Blaze.
The Pile: Kimberly Lang is a slush pile success story. Since your query letter is the first thing an editor or agent reads, it needs to be the very best it can be. We’ll build on what we learned from Kira’s pitch lessons to build a query letter that encourages the editor or agent to read on. Kimberly is a USA Today bestselling author for Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Modern Heat.
The Public: Lynn Raye Harris got an editor’s – and the public’s – attention in a big way when she won the Harlequin-sponsored Instant Seduction contest. Lynn will share her tips on how to make your first chapters pack the punch needed to get judges, editors, agents (and eventually readers!) wanting to see what happens next. Lynn is a USA Today bestselling author for Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon Modern.
Class format includes lectures and Q&A. Some students may have the opportunity to have their pitches and/or query letters critiqued by the instructors for the benefit of the participants.
For more information contact email@example.com
*Please note the change in dates from the earlier post. I was given the wrong dates before.
*Please note the change in dates from the earlier post. I was given the wrong dates before.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 05, 2010
Nevertheless, I did have a few things I needed to accomplish before I went back to work. (Lots of new pages on the book-in-progress come to mind). But I made sure to give myself plenty of down time, too.
So here's what I did on my vacation, in no particular order:
- Wrote 72 pages on book 2 of the current 3-book contract
- Rewrote synopsis for same book to take into consideration changes made in the actual manuscript.
- Made corrections to first three chapters based on critique partner's edits to get it ready to go to my editor by 7/15.
- Wrote two blog posts (including this one)
- Scheduled two future guest blog posts and a guest post for an online writer's conference.
- Edited and updated my website.
- Attended my local writing chapter's special program featuring Carina Press editor Angela James (and won a historical novel as a doorprize, which I quickly traded for a contemporary because I generally prefer them to historicals).
- Rewrote synopsis for book 1 of current 3-book contract to match actual events of the story, which diverged* significantly from original selling synopsis (I didn't include it with the manuscript I sent in on the due date).
- Wrote Cast of Characters and dedication for book 1 as well.
- Caught up on some of my favorite blogs.
- Read some articles in this month's Romance Writers Report.
- Read about half of Under Orders by Dick Francis (read it before, but it's as good the second time).
- Have become convinced that Mina, the half-Siamese kitten is actually a male. Renamed him Miko. Will ask the vet to be sure on the next visit. Cat may develop identity problem before it's all over.
- Much snuggling. Much, much snuggling.
- Did I mention the snuggling?
- Cleaned litter box several times. Cats grateful.
- Had barbecue take out for birthday. Yum.
- Watched multiple Psych and Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes on DVD with younger niece.
- Hung with Mom. Napped a lot. Both excellent occupations.
- Fielded two calls and a couple of emails from work. Not bad for such a long span of time away from the office.
- Watched School of Rock—subversive and hilarious movie.
- Watched lots of court shows with mom. Am horrified.
- Watched series finale ep of Angel on early morning TNT. Wept when Wesley died needlessly and cursed Joss Whedon and Tim Minear.
- Watched second episode of Memphis Beat on TNT. Not as poignant as first episode but funnier overall. But also missed Justified (as it aired in same time slot on FX during regular season).
- Watched season (mid-season?) finale of In Plain Sight. Hated the ending.
- Watched predictable Lifetime movie. Is the husband ever NOT the bad guy? Wished fervently that Harlequin and Lifetime would pair up to produce Intrigues as movies.
- Wore sloppy clothes all week. Loved it.
(*Thanks to the lovely Rebecca York for catching my mental lapse in using converged when I clearly meant diverged. Vacation brain!)
Friday, July 02, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Which reminds me, mark your calendars for July 1st. That's when you can get your own copy of One Tough Marine from eHarlequin.com.
(Or you can pre-order the book right now from amazon.com—just click on the link to the right).
Want to know a little more about the book? Here's the back cover blurb:
Threatened by masked men making an impossible demand of her, Abby Chandler runs to Luke Cooper for help. She knows it’s been three years since he vanished after their blazing one-night stand…and that she might be forced to reveal the secret that he’s her little boy’s father.
Abby has no idea that the former Marine has also been keeping a painful secret—that his disappearance was the only way to keep her alive. Luke knows Abby came to him for protection, but earning her trust isn’t going to be easy. Nor will keeping his hands off her. But admitting their once-forbidden attraction still exists could be risky.
Come on. You know you want to read it...
Monday, June 14, 2010
I'm a little confused by the torn knee in his jeans. Um, he's a sheriff's investigator, not a punk... But I did think he looks like a former football player, which Aaron is, and he's quite yummy.
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
Three! Congratulations Pamela Keener for guessing right first!
I know it's not a big total, but my niece Ashlee decided to make this weekend a big Paula/Ashlee bonding weekend. We watched the whole first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on DVD, so that ate into a lot of my reading time.
I finished the book I mentioned in the update, plus Once a Cowboy by Linda Warren (Harlequin Romance) and The Baby's Guardian by Delores Fossen (Harlequin Intrigue).
Pamela, I'll email you to discuss the prize options. Thanks, everyone else, for playing along. I'll be having a lot more contests in coming months, as I have two books coming out in August and September. :)
Monday, May 31, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Here are the parameters: I work full time today and tomorrow (and I didn't bring a book with me today to read on my lunch hour, darn it), but I'm off Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I have 7 pages a day to write each day, Saturday through Monday, but 7 pages don't take me a full day to write. And most of the books I'll read this weekend are probably going to be Intrigues, so we're talking short-ish books.
Got the details? Start guessing!
The first person to post the correct (eventual) number in the comments wins your choice of an autographed copy of any of my back list books I still have (I think I have at least one copy of all of them except my first book, although some of the copies may be large print), or a $5 gift certificate to any online retailer (bookseller or otherwise) who sells gift certificates online. (Because I'm lazy that way) :)
I'll check back in on Monday night to let you know the number and who won. And if you have any book recommendations, Intrigues or otherwise, share them with the peeps!
One book finished. A while back, I downloaded several of the free e-books Harlequin offered to celebrate their 60th anniversary (the books are still available for download in .pdf format here). I read one of them, Married by Mistake by Abby Gaines. Sweet, funny, charming book. A marriage of convenience book done in an innovative and mostly believable way. If you like your romances sweetly spicy with plenty of charm, this is a good one.
Now to pick the next book to read...
Friday, May 14, 2010
Also, while I've got y'all here, let me put in another plug for online bookstore reviews. Any little buzz helps for an author, and amazon.com reviews or barnesandnoble.com reviews (or Borders or Books-a-Million or...you get the picture) help create that buzz.
So if you've read any of my books and loved them, please take a minute to write a quick review on one of the online book store sites. If you didn't love them, no sweat. (Although, feel free not to post those! :) )
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
I sold the last three Cooper Justice books to Harlequin Intrigue!
They'll be out in April, May and June 2011, back to back—my first back to back trilogy. At least the wait between books won't be as long as my Forbidden trilogy. That makes a total of 12 books for me, all Intrigues. Whew—I'm getting tired just thinking about it!
Anyway, here are the basics for the final three Cooper Justice books (Note—all titles are working titles and unlikely to stick around):
Book One: Married to Danger
Hero: Jake Cooper
Heroine: Mariah Cooper, his wife
Short Synopsis: Seven years ago, Mariah cooper was Marisol Mendez, a former juvenile delinquent and petty grifter just one failed con game away from a prison sentence—until a man named Victor Logan took her under his wing and gave her hope for a new life. But every chance to change the future comes with a price. Mariah's price is coming face to face with Victor Logan in the middle of a storm-ravaged community, four years after she'd helped put him in jail for a hit-and-run killing. All the lies she's told her husband Jake come crashing down around her when Victor seeks his vengeance. Now Jake and Mariah are running for their lives, relentlessly pursued by a killer who Mariah fears was responsible for the murder of a Cooper family member years earlier. Husband and wife are forced to depend utterly on each other at a time when the truth about Mariah has driven them farther apart than ever before.
Book Two: Fully Engaged
Hero: Gabe Cooper
Heroine: Alicia Solano
Short Synopsis: For the last twelve years of his life, Gabe Cooper has asked himself the same question every day: what if I'd gotten there in time? He'd missed the chance to stop his sister-in-law Brenda's brutal murder by thirty inexcusable minutes, time he'd spent drinking beer and playing pool with his buddies instead of keeping his promise to pick up Brenda from work. Though police now believe the man responsible is dead, Gabe can't forgive himself and move on. So when his niece Cissy calls him with news about a new spate of co-ed murders that matches the M.O. of her own mother's murder, Gabe can't say no to her invitation to visit. But when he meets Cissy's friend, Alicia Solano, and learns that it's Alicia who's convinced Cissy that the dead murderer had an accomplice who's very much alive, is Gabe willing to shatter the whole family's sense of closure about Brenda's murder based on a grad student's wild speculation, no matter how persuasive--and attractive--she is?
Book Three: Courting the Devil
Hero: J. D. Cooper
Heroine: Natalie Becker
Short Synopsis: It's not just the law of averages that convinces Natalie Becker her sister Carrie died at the hands of her playboy husband, Hamilton Gray. Newlywed Carrie had recently confided to Natalie that she thought Hamilton might be having an affair--he kept strange hours and didn't seem that interested in sex now that they were married. But proving murder, in a town where the Grays are even wealthier and more privileged a family than her own, may be the hardest thing Natalie's ever tried to do. And the last complication she needs is a tall, stubborn ex-Navy mechanic named J.D. Cooper who has his own crazy idea about who killed her sister: the same person who murdered J. D.'s wife twelve years ago.
As you can tell, all three stories are tightly connected, with the unsolved murder of Brenda Cooper playing a part in all three. The villains, too, have a twisted, complex connection to each other that I hope will play out in a fascinating way.
So, be looking for Cooper Justice: Cold Case, coming to Harlequin Intrigue in April 2011!
Monday, May 03, 2010
A couple of years ago, I realized I just couldn't remember things as well as I used to when I was younger. Whether it's advancing age or an expanding daily agenda, I couldn't say. Maybe a combination of both. But whatever's behind it, I have learned that I need to write important things down if I want to remember them. At first, I got a pocket calendar to keep my schedule, but I bought it in the middle of 2009 and it was a 2010 calendar. Of course, well before 2010 rolled around, I'd lost the pocket calendar and couldn't find it. Not that it would have made that much difference. I've never been good at keeping calendars.
Then my niece got a Palm Centro phone. Touch screen, comes with all kinds of fun little apps, including a detailed daily calendar. Wow! I was hooked. I rarely use my own cell phone, so my primary requirements until that point were compact size and a cheap minute plan. But when Paula met the Centro, it was love at first sight. So the first chance I had to change phone plans, I got myself a Centro, and the two of us have never looked back.
So, I know you're waiting for the habit-forming part of this little tale. See, I'm a habit former. I settle quickly into routines, usually bad ones. Eating too much, staying up too late, getting addicted to free online games, watching the same TV shows, sitting on the same end of the same couch at the same time every day--you get the picture. But it occurred to me that the same habit-forming nature just might be used for good as well. I could form a habit of keeping a calendar and using it to keep my busy life from spinning out of control.
So I made a concerted effort to get in the habit of keeping a calendar. And once I was in that habit, I found myself wanting to use the calendar more than I was already. More, more, more, that's my motto! Since I had a blog book tour coming up in conjunction with the publication of my January and February books, I started keeping my blog schedule on my phone. Then my monthly RWA chapter meetings. And finally, I started logging my daily pages on my calendar app, to remind me to write every day.
So, we come to my point. We're creatures of habit. We find comfort in the familiar, as long as it's also easy. But the same patterns of behavior that make us eat pizza every Friday night or get hooked on Chuck every Monday night can also help us get into the habit of writing two or three pages every day, or blogging every week. It's a little harder to form, perhaps, but the beauty of a good habit is, it's just as compelling as a bad one, once you've formed it. And it tends to feed into other good habits. Blogging once a week becomes addictive, and you find yourself challenged to blog twice a week. Checking off that three pages a day, day in and day out, makes you wonder how much more you could do if you wrote four pages a day instead. You get your head into a more organized place where your daily schedule is concerned, suddenly, you're becoming more organized in other ways as well.
So how about you? Are you a habit-former? Are there any bad habits you'd like to get rid of or good habits you'd like to pick up? Have you formed a good habit that you'd like to brag about? Tell us all about them!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
He reminds me of Timothy Olyphant, formerly of Deadwood fame and now Raylan Givens on the new FX series Justified.
So, now, doesn't that make you want to go ahead and pre-order a copy or three from Amazon.com?
You know you do...
I love the lake in the background, by the way. So much of the Cooper Justice series has to do with the Cooper family, who've made their living on Gossamer Lake for years. Nice to finally have a lake picture on the cover.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
But fictional worlds are made up of more than soil and sky, governmental entities and fantastical creatures. They're made up of people, relationships, power-struggles and alliances, too. And that's true of contemporary, "real world" fiction as well. The stories we love as readers—and love to write as writers—create worlds of connections and conflicts that seem as real to us as the world in which we live.
My first three novels for Harlequin Intrigue, FORBIDDEN TERRITORY, FORBIDDEN TEMPTATION and FORBIDDEN TOUCH, took place in a contemporary world where paranormal gifts were a reality. The three Browning sisters, Lily, Rose and Iris, each had a special gift that put her in danger--and thrust her into contact with the man who would become the love of her life. These characters had histories, connections and conflicts that fleshed out the present-day world of their stories.
Though I'm personally skeptical of the paranormal, I tried hard to make the three sisters and their gifts seem utterly grounded in reality. They struggled with their abilities, with scorn and disbelief. They suffered painful consequences for using the paranormal abilities they'd been given. Had I given them gifts that always worked smoothly and didn't have negative aspects, I don't think the world I created in those books would have seemed believable. The real world is full of obstacles, a rollercoaster ride of gains and losses, joys and sorrows. For fictional worlds to seem real, they must share those same aspects.
So, how about you? Do you like interconnected books? What about series works for you, and what doesn't work? Do tell!