Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, Y'all

Tried to embed this, but it didn't work. So here's the link:

Merry Christmas from the Family

But on a serious note, there's real meaning in Christmas for people like me, who are Christians. It's a beautiful story of love, forgiveness and redemption. So here's a classic video of the late, great Mahalia Jackson singing "Sweet Little Jesus Boy."

Sweet Little Jesus Boy

Have a wonderful, meaningful Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Secret Identity - now with a cover!

I've been a bit out of pocket for the last three weeks, dealing with a bad case of cellulitis in my left leg. I'm still not back at my day job (though I'm working it from home), and I've been doing a lot of extracurricular napping to regain my energy. All that to say, I've been a complete slug at the whole blogging/social media thing.

But I do have something to share: the cover of my March 2012 book, Secret Identity! Wanna see it?
I'm pretty pleased with the cover. The hero and heroine look about how I pictured them, and the cave they're in is mostly right (though there's entirely too much light coming through the entrance).

I really love this heroine. She's tough, prickly, wounded and dangerous. I hope y'all love her, too.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Much to be thankful for

In a bad economy, with wars still going on and much to worry about, I'm glad we have a day like Thanksgiving to remind us that we also have much to be thankful for.

I'm thankful to be alive, on this pretty November morning, with my family safe and sound and surrounding me with love and support.

I'm thankful to have not one job but two in this troubled economy, and an income that allows us to live in comfort and a certain level of security. I'm glad that I live in a country where I'm free to live life on the terms I choose and pray that it may ever be so.

I'm thankful for every single reader who bought one of my books this year, who bookmarked my website in their "favorites," who took the time to read one of my blog posts or to drop me a line on Facebook or retweet me on Twitter.

I'm thankful for my fellow writers who share so generously with their knowledge, their support, their passion and their endless supply of humor.

I'm thankful for the people who frequent the fandoms in which I dabble, whose intensity and passion for fictional things makes it possible for people like me (and actors, directors, musicians and other writers) to ply our trades in the first place.

I'm thankful most of all to the God who created us and the free will he gave us that challenges us, daily, to do the right thing out of choice rather than coersion.

I hope you all have a happy, blessed Thanksgiving Day, even if this isn't YOUR Thanksgiving Day. Thank you for dropping by to read what I have to say.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Interview with Aimée Thurlo

I interviewed fellow Intrigue author and Ella Clah mysteries author Aimée Thurlo on the Intrigue Author's blog today.

Check it out.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

They're heeeeere....

I've been waiting for all three books to go up on Amazon before posting this: the opening trilogy of my Harlequin Intrigue Cooper Security miniseries is now available for pre-order on amazon.com.

Secret Identity (Harlequin Intrigue Series)

Very bad people want former CIA agent Amanda Caldwell dead, and her best chance of escaping an assassination attempt alive may be trusting the one man she hoped she'd never see again. Her secret, sizzling affair with Rick Cooper ended abruptly, but some old flames are harder to extinguish than others....

Secret Hideout (Harlequin Intrigue Series)

When former FBI agent Isabel Cooper is ambushed in a motel, injected with a hallucinogen and dragged from her room, it's all she can do to keep her wits long enough to elude her captors. So when she runs headlong into Ben Scanlon--her very dead partner--she blames it on the drugs, especially when the man she's been mourning for six months pulls her into a hot, shattering kiss. But when she later wakes in a cabin to find her "late" partner is very much alive, Isabel wonders if the partner she knew--and thought she might love--is someone she can even trust.

Secret Agenda

Megan Cooper Randall thought her husband died a hero in battle. The last thing she expected to hear is that he was assassinated by someone in his own government. If the information had come from almost anyone else, she wouldn't have given it a second thought. But the man who's arrived on her doorstep with the stunning information is Evan Pike, the Pentagon lawyer who had made her husband's life, and those of his fellow soldiers, a living hell of red tape and crippling rules of engagement. What motive would he have to lie? And what is he risking to tell such a dangerous truth?

They'll be out March, April and May of 2012, but you can go ahead and pre-order them now if you want to. Really, go ahead. What could it hurt?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving without Stress - Guest Blog by Julie Johnstone

I've invited my Southern Magic chaptermate Julie Johnstone to guest blog today. Julie has a novella in the Regency Christmas Summons Collection I, available in ebook. She also has prizes up for grabs, so be sure to give her some comment love!


First of all, a huge thank you to Paula for having me on her fabulous blog!

Now, I know you all are laughing at my title! I can hear you all the way over here! I too was a non-believer of having Thanksgiving for twelve people at my house without stress until I followed a few simple steps.

Before I tell you all my greasy turkey secrets, you need to know what led me down this path of stuffing enlightenment. Being the type A, dream big, holiday nostalgic nut that I am, every year for the past five years I have envisioned the perfect Thanksgiving dinner at my house. I have enthusiastically invited my mother, in-laws and siblings to our house. Then I spend several weeks before Thanksgiving dreaming of serving the juiciest turkey, the moistest stuffing, and the richest Bourbon Bread Pudding, to name a few of the dishes.

Every year, I get up at the crack of dawn to get Thanksgiving dinner started, and I slave all day long to make sure everyone has the perfect meal. At the end of the day, after many trials and tribulations, I am exhausted, have barely spoken to any of my relatives, and have yelled at my children at least eight times, and snapped like a pit bull at my husband to the point that he refuses to come into the kitchen.

Needless to say, I have managed to produce a Martha Stewart like Thanksgiving for those I love, but never enjoyed the experience until last year. I did a little research, followed a few simple steps and had a glorious Thanksgiving that I actually enjoyed. If you are like I was and bend over backwards to present a fabulous spread that just about drives you into the loony bin, I want you to take a deep breath, trust in your fellow type-A hostess, and follow my advice.

1. Make a plan – Make a guest list and then plan your menu at least two weeks in advance. Make a shopping list and then two weeks before T day check that you have the required spices, kitchen tools and yes, enough chairs to seat all the lucky people you’ve invited.

2. Shop one week before Thanksgiving. If you wait, you will be fighting someone for the last bag of pecans or the 40 pound turkey you just have to have.

3. Make some of your dishes ahead. Do not create a menu chalked full of dishes that must be made on Thanksgiving Day. If you do have several dishes you have to make that day, distribute them evenly between the stove, oven and microwave.

4. Avoid the ‘new’ unless you taste to see if it’s true. In other words, if you are making anything new, using new kitchen equipment or even serving an unfamiliar wine, have a test run. How hard is that? If you need me to test run your wine, just call me!

5. Manage your munchkins! My kids love to be underfoot. I have learned to stock new DVD’s just for T day. Also, my four year old loves to “cook.” I now let him bake cookies and decorate them on my island away from the major preparations.

6. Don’t feel you must provide an overabundance of appetizers. Keep it simple! Your guests will thank you, and if they don’t their waists will!

7. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to defrost the turkey. I learned the hard way that three days is not always enough!

8. Everything doesn’t have to be homemade! Shh!!! I didn’t say that. Add your own special flair, put it on a great piece of china and voila—a grand creation.

9. Plan something to do after the eating is over. Here are some ideas: games, movies, decorating the Christmas tree!

10. Have fun! Don’t stay in the kitchen the whole day!

Now that I have conquered Thanksgiving stress, I’m going to work on mastering Christmas Mayhem!

As a Regency romance writer, thinking of the holidays got me to contemplating if the women of the ton were ever stressed to present a perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Somehow, I doubt their worries compared to mine, as most of the ton had a legion of household servants. However, having all those servants always seems to free up my characters to get into some sort of mayhem.

And there’s no better mayhem than the chaos between rakes and the women who love them. If you’re looking for a way to escape the noise of your house on Thanksgiving try downloading the new anthology I’m part of, A Regency Christmas Summons. You can find my story, The Gift of Seduction, along with Ava Stone’s and Aileen Fish’s in, A Summons From Yorkshire.

Careful though, once you start to read the books you won’t want to stop, and you may very well find yourself locked in your bedroom and ignoring your guests until you have finished all four of the books in the anthology! Here’s a sneak peak at my story:
________________________________________________________
Charlotte opened the door, her stomach tensing as Salisbury breezed into the room, resplendent in navy blue formal dress. He was a beautiful man, with his russet locks and piercing green eyes, and she should be ecstatic he wanted her. Instead, a mild queasiness filled her.

“Lottie.” He closed the door behind him and drew her into his arms. She forced herself not to turn her head to the side when he pressed his lips to hers. A small, irrepressible shutter ran through her body. “You’re nervous?” he asked, stroking a hand over her hair.

She nodded.

“But it’s not your first time?”

But it was her first time with a man she didn’t love. Drew had been her first, her only. Laying with him, his exquisite feather-light fingers down her chest, over her stomach, between her—she squeezed her eyes shut.

“Lottie, come sit,” Salisbury said, taking her hand and leading her to the settee. She followed him and sat while making an effort to compose herself.

“I’ve something for you, dear heart.”

“Thank you, Salisbury,” she said reaching for the glittering diamond ring he held between his index finger and thumb. She fought the tide of disappointment that wailed within her. She had imagined this moment a thousand times, but it had always been Drew sitting on the other side, and their future had been bright with the promise of love. Foolish, stupid girl. That sort of love only existed in the fairy tales her mother had read to her as a child.

“You’ve kept your part of our bargain perfectly,” she murmured. She reached for the tie of her dressing robe, but her shaking hands made undoing the knot impossible. “I’m sorry,” she whispered, willing herself to go through with her plan. She wanted to lay with Salisbury. She wanted to replace the memory of Drew with another man, the man who would be her husband. Why did her heart beat so hard it echoed through her entire body and set her teeth to chattering? She clenched down against the noise.

Salisbury’s hands settled over her fumbling fingers. “Your skin is like ice.”

She smiled faintly. What a ninny she was being. “The room’s cold.”
He shook his head. “It’s hot, if you ask me.”

Yes, well, she hadn’t asked. Just like a man to give an answer a woman didn’t want. Charlotte shrugged. “Nerves, I suppose.”

Salisbury gently cupped her face. “You will forget whoever he was.”

Charlotte wasn’t sure if that was a command or a promise. Either way, she needed to nod. “Perhaps, we should begin, there’s not much time before they’ll call me to stage.”

“I’ve been thinking, we should wait until we are properly wed.”

“Oh, yes,” Charlotte blurted, feeling as if the hounds of hell had just been called off her heels. “That’s a sound idea.”

Salisbury offered a cynical smile. “Your enthusiasm for the delay wounds my inflated pride.”

Charlotte’s heart dropped to her bare feet. What to say? She scrambled for the right words, but a loud knocking and a harsh, clipped, “curtain’s going up in five,” saved her from having to respond.

“That’s my cue,” she said, rushing to put on her slippers and her costume. “We’ll talk later?”

Salisbury stood and opened the door for her. “No need. Tomorrow we’ll be wed. Whatever’s there’s to say, we’ve a lifetime to do it.”

A lifetime? Why did it sound like a death sentence? Charlotte took a deep breath and plastered a smile on her frozen face. She was good enough to marry into the ton, and to be good enough, she needed to shove her silly girlhood fantasies into the darkest recesses of her mind where they could damn well stay gathering cobwebs.

“I’m looking forward to forever,” she lied. Determined to make a grand exit, she lifted her chin and turned away to walk elegantly, like the duchess she would be, down the bustling corridor. Her foot caught in the long hem of her gown, causing her to careen forward with a yelp of dismay. She threw her arms out to catch herself, but instead of a jarring hit, a strong pair of hands slipped under her arms then proceeded to draw her up into a circle of heat and steel.

Her heart jumped in a way it had not jumped in almost a year.

Joy surged through her.

Maybe she was not dead inside, after all.

She glanced up to thank her savior and stared in numb silence into aqua blue eyes, surrounded by long sooty lashes set in the face of a dark devil.

“Release me at once,” she hissed at Drew, as the heat of longing and desire danced up her body, flushed her chest, and singed her face.

The hounds of hell indeed.

Satan was holding her in his arms, and she was not about to be dragged back down into the pits of hell, otherwise known as love.
__________________________________________________________

Now back to Turkey time! Do you have any tricks for making T Day stress free?

***Everyone who leaves a comment today with an email address will be entered into the Regency Christmas Summons Prize Extravaganza. We're giving away a Kindle and many more prizes.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Julie Johnstone
Romance where the Aristocracy Dances on the Edge of Danger and Desire
A Regency Christmas Summons ~November 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Salt and Pepper

My friend and fellow Intrigue author, Aimée Thurlo, stops by Spinsters and Lunatics today with a guest blog post. She and her husband also write a mystery series featuring Navajo detective Ella Clah. To visit their website for more information about their books, click here.

Please give Aimée a warm welcome and be sure to leave her comments!

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At the Chez Thurlo, I’m the slob and David’s the neat freak. He claims he’s just organized, I say compulsive. Think of the Odd Couple and you’ll be right. He’s Felix and I’m definitely Oscar. This, of course, has a definite impact on our lives as co-authors.

Like many other writers, David and I work to complete a number of pages daily, as opposed to working regular office hours. We’re pretty good about staying on target even with our divergent styles, but one thing never fails - the closer a deadline gets, the crazier our lives become. If anything is going to go wrong, it’s practically guaranteed that it’ll happen then.

I can vividly remember one incident that specifically illustrates this and the differences between David and me. David and I have separate offices and different responsibilities at home. This is how we manage to keep from driving each other nuts. Many months ago, I was working on a real tight deadline for an article I’d promised to write for a local newspaper. The computer had crashed the night before, but no worries, I had my printout and was ready to put it into snail mail. Problem was, I was also working on a book at the time and I’d totally run out of room on my desk. Not wanting to leave the pages on one of my copious stacks, I balanced the printout carefully atop the waste basket beside my chair and left the room.

David came in, and you guessed it. It was trash day, so out went the pages. Mind you, it should have been on my desk, but since I was going to mail the article later that morning, I didn’t want to get it mixed up with my current draft of Chapter Four of our new novel.

After my panic subsided, I eventually managed to reconstruct most of the article from memory and get it delivered on time, but I think I aged twenty years that morning.

I should now explain that one of my individual quirks is that, after first draft, I work almost exclusively on paper. At the end of the day, I then enter all my penciled in changes, sometimes scribbled in multi-colored inks to make it easier to follow, into my trusty laptop.

Naturally, my partner has a different system and writing routine. David, who teaches science part time, is the most orderly human being on this planet. Everything is in its place. He edits on screen, and even files folders alphabetically instead of by first, last, or company name! Sure, I have order in my office too, but you need a good memory and a trained eye to find a document, or, as David sometimes suggests, the ability and/or heavy equipment to take a core sample.

Every time David comes into my office he trips over a dog, a dog bed, or a pair of shoes. Oh, yes, my office does resemble a kennel/shoe store/closet. Perfection. Everything I love, except for chocolate, is close at hand, and maybe that’s why I consider my office ‘cozy’. David likes to think of his workspace as, well, an office. Whatever.

It’s clear that our methods of working and our styles are vastly different, but when we write, at least we manage to do so with one voice. That’s partly because we’ve been married for forty-one years, and despite our personalities, or maybe because of them, we fit into each other like two pieces of a puzzle. We complete each other’s....paragraphs.

Take one of my all time favorite Harlequin Intrigues, Winter Hawk’s Legend, as an example. It’s a landmark book for us since it our 30th for Harlequin. What makes this book special is that it’s about family, and how love can grow unassailable even between two people who ostensibly have nothing in common. I live that every day, so a piece of my heart went into that book.

And not coincidentally, that family thread continues on with our October release. Black Thunder, our newest Ella Clah mystery, features a unique heroine who is devoted to her immediate family, her clan, and her tribe. Her love of police work is rooted in the Navajo concept of harmony. To walk in beauty, the goal of a good Navajo, all the components of life have to be in balance. Evil requires good to keep it in check, so, to Ella Clah, police work is a way of restoring harmony for her tribe and her family. Like most of us, she fulfills a variety of roles in her day to day life.

I hope you’ll get the chance to pick up both of these special books and give them a read. If you do, share your thoughts with us. We’d love to hear from you.


Monday, October 03, 2011

On sale this week...

A SOLDIER NEVER BREAKS HIS PROMISE....

Agent Harlan McClain has his target in sight. But he’s not pulling the trigger. Instead his assignment is providing Stacy Giordano—the governor’s aide—with security. An easy job for a former marine sniper. And yet, the guarded single mother’s beauty and devotion to her exceptional child soon have Harlan reshuffling his priorities. In the dead of night, in her bed, he promises to keep her and her son from harm. But when an unexpected crisis arises, Harlan is suddenly torn between keeping his word, and taking out a killer.…

Available in book stores starting October 4th. If you intend to buy the book, please buy it the first week if possible. Harlequin Intrigues don't stay on the shelves that long, and if you buy the first week, you might spike my sales enough to help me hit one of the bestseller lists! Wouldn't that be fun?

Okay, it would be fun for me, anyway. :)

Also, don't forget that I have three ebooks still available.


The first two are chock full of intrigue, romance and adventure. And my newest, MURDER IN LOVERS' LANE, is short but sweet, with a dollop of humor, oodles of romantic tension, a very hot kiss and a promise of even more Brody and Hannigan mysteries (and romance!) to come.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Writerspace Chat tonight

I'll be chatting on Writerspace tonight. I'll be giving away prizes and talking about my upcoming October Harlequin Intrigue and my new Cooper Security series in 2012. I'll also be talking about my newest ebook and answering questions about writing, SEC football, cats and anything else anybody wants to talk about. We always have a fun time chatting, and I can't wait for tonight.

It's at 9 pm Easter, 8 pm Central, 6 pm Pacific time at the Writerspace chatroom. Y'all come!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Murder on Lovers' Lane

Lee Brody is the magician, pulling vital connections in vexing crime cases out of thin air. Stella Hannigan is the logician, honing Brody's flights of fancy into solid, actionable leads they can follow to solve murders and get convictions. Together, they're the best homicide detective team the Weatherford Police Department has to offer.

But it'll take all their skill and know-how to solve their latest case. A serial killer murdering young couples in the city's most popular make-out spots sends the police partners deep into the mind of a sexual obsessive—and deeper into their own sexually tense relationship than either of them dreamed they would go....



BUY LINKS

As you can see, I've finally put up my self-published novella. There will be more Brody & Hannigan Mysteries in novella form coming in 2012. Eventually, I may write full-length Brody & Hannigan mysteries if there's enough interest in them.

Please go click the "Like" button on the book's Amazon.com page and also agree with the tags near the bottom of the page. Tell friends about the book and if you read it and like it, I would love some reviews on Amazon.com as well. No need to reiterate the book's whole plot—just say what you liked and give it a rating.

There's a reason I'm asking for reviews. Some of the bigger ebook recommendation sites won't even consider letting you promote your ebooks on their sites unless you have a certain number of positive reviews on your book. None of my ebooks (and frankly, not a whole lot of my Intrigues) qualify because I lack reviews. So if you have an Amazon.com account, please consider dropping a review for my books on their pages.

Word of mouth is the only real way to sell books these days unless you're one of the big names. So if you like my books, please consider tweeting about them, dropping a line on Facebook, liking them (and rating them) on Goodreads or telling friends face to face. I really appreciate it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Behind the Scenes blog on Intrigue Authors

My blog post today on the Intrigue Authors blog is about some of the behind the scene influences on my books. Ever wondered about something I wrote in one of my books? Wondering what gave me the idea?

Come ask about it!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11 - Ten Years Later

As it happened, today was my day to post on the Romance Magicians blog. It's also the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Therefore, my post there was about 9/11 and asks the question, "Where were you when the world stopped turning?"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Street Team or No Street Team?

There's a new kick in the writing circles geared toward self-promotion called "Street team." Basically, writers ask a group of fans to do simple things like pass out bookmarks and other promotional items to book stores, coffee shops, reading groups and friends. Buy their books the first week they're out to help boost them on the bestseller lists. Talk the books up to friends, family and even sometimes random strangers.

A few years ago, Jane at Dear Author wrote a cautionary post about forming street teams. I found the discussion in the comment section (pro an con) to be pretty enlightening.

Like any author, I need all the promotional help I can get, but I don't earn enough advance to pay for a publicist or do a lot of marketing and promotion. At the same time, it's against my nature to ask for my readers to put themselves out to help me.

However, there are things that I, as a fan of other authors, don't mind doing to help them out. So if you like my books and you don't mind doing any of these things, please feel free to help me out if you're so inclined.

1. Buy the book the first week it becomes available nationally.

eHarlequin puts our books out a month early, and while I like to think that people love my books so much they just can't wait, I would be more likely to make one of the big bestseller lists (mosly likely USA Today) if everyone waited until the debut week to buy the book. Making a list is a very good word-of-mouth tool.

2. Request the book at your local library.

This doesn't do a lot for sales, but it does get my name out there as a writer.

3. Go to Amazon.com and "like" my books, especially my ebooks. Also scroll down to the tags for the books and click the ones you agree with. This helps my books get attention, as it helps with their rankings.

4. If you liked the book, please leave a brief review on Amazon.com. Reviews are like telling a friend you liked a book. You don't have to go into a lot of detail. Even a simple "Loved this book, one of my must-read authors" will do. But be honest. Put it in your own words. Give the rating you think it deserves, even if it's not 5 stars. Readers looking for books sometimes pick the book with more reviews because they figure if that many other people are reading it and talking about it, it must be worth checking out.

5. If you frequent blogs like Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Dear Author or any of the bigger writing blogs, and there's a question like this one at Smart Bitches, asking for examples of books where the widowed hero/heroine truly loved their dead partners (rather than "I never knew it could be like this" moments where the past love is sort of disrespected), feel free to mention my books if you think they fit. (At least two of the Cooper Justice books would fit the bill. So would my first book).

The main thing is, do what you're comfortable with. If you're not comfortable with any of it, I'm perfectly content if all you do is buy my books.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

August Sale - Change of Plans

I was hoping that dropping the cost on Playing Dead in Dixie would lead to a decent surge in sales, and while I am selling a few more books, it's not enough to counteract the losses that come with lowering the price. I like to be honest with my readers, so the honest truth is, I don't think I can afford to keep the book at the 99¢ rate for the whole month.

But I am keeping it at 99¢ through Saturday, so if you haven't had a chance to buy it yet, you can still get it at the 99¢ price this week.

So what are you waiting for?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

August Sale

If you haven't picked up a copy of my new ebook, Playing Dead in Dixie, August is the time to do it, and tell your friends as well. I'm putting the book on sale for the month of August—99¢ a book. And this isn't a novella, folks. This is a 72,000 word romantic suspense, longer than an Intrigue.



Need a reminder as to what it's about?



Whistleblower Carly Sandano is in scalding hot water. While the FBI wants her to testify against her crooked boss, her boss just wants her dead. So when the bus she hops out of Atlantic City crashes, she fakes her death and heads south to Bangor, Georgia, to fulfill a fellow passenger's dying wish: deliver his casino winnings to his family. But she didn't figure on the dead man's friendly parents, who dish up heaping helpings of southern hospitality. Or how sexy she'd find the smoldering, suspicious chief of police, Wes Hollingsworth.



Before she knows it, the girl who never likes to stay in one place too long finds herself wondering how she's ever going to leave Georgia behind. But there's still a killer gunning for her, and the last thing she wants to do is bring bullets raining down on the sleepy little town...



Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ebooks for Everyone!

I recently bought my first ereader, a Nook Color. I was a little afraid of it at first (new technology!) but now that I have the hang of the thing, I really love it. It's sort of like a combination ereader/tablet notebook, with Internet browsing capability and apps that even allow you to read Word and Excel files on it, among other things. It costs a little more than the low end ereaders, but that touch screen tablet-style functionality is exactly what I was looking for, at a much lower price than an Android tablet or an iPad.

That said, I have been reading ebooks long before I got an ereader. I used Adobe Digital Editions, a free application that works on your PC. Unfortunately, it won't read Kindle books. But that's okay—Kindle also offers a free app for PC. (Kindle for Mac is more problematic—see below).

Which is getting me around to my point. As any of you who've read my blog in the last couple of months know, I recently self-published a couple of novels in ebook format only. Right now, I have no plans to make them available in print because the cost would be prohibitive, nullifying my reasons for choosing to self-publish in the first place. But that doesn't mean that those of you without an ereader can't buy them and read them.

There are at least two and a half good programs for computer that allow you to purchase, download and read books on your PC or Mac. Best of all, these programs also allow you to move those downloaded books to your new ereader if you buy one. (Well, in the case of Kindle, I believe you'll have had to downloaded the file as a Kindle first).

All the books I downloaded to my Adobe Digital Editions program on my computer are now safely on my Nook, readable (though in the case of some older .pdf files, not perfectly formatted).

So if you haven't yet bought an ereader (and maybe you're not sure you will), but you still want to buy ebooks that you can't buy in other formats—such as the Harlequin Treasury books now available in ebook only—you can do it. All you need is a computer and the free apps available.

Hey, I'll even help you out! Here are the links so you can check the programs out yourself:

Nook for PC

Nook for Mac

Kindle for PC

Kindle for iPad

Kindle for iPod Touch/iPhone

Adobe Digital Editions for PC or Mac

As you can see, if you own a Mac desktop machine or Macbook, you may have problems with Kindle unless you also have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. But the Nook for Mac option takes care of that, and the epub format offered by Barnes and Noble (Nook's parent company) is readable on other ereaders such as Kobo and Sony readers.

I'm not trying to proseletyze against paper books. I love paper books. I have shelves and shelves of them at home and one in my purse right now. But with so many authors putting their books out themselves in ebook format, controlling content as never before in ways that I believe readers would truly enjoy, I hate to see anyone missing out on the fun, especially when there are cheap, easy ways to get your hands on these stories.

Do you own an ereader? If not, have you tried software such as Kindle for PC or Adobe Digital Editions?

Monday, July 25, 2011

My Spreadsheet Method

At my chat last night on Writerspace, I mentioned my "writing process" included spreadsheets. More than one person requested to read more about the process, so I looked up an old post I had included on my website a while back and here I've updated it. Enjoy!


Several years ago, when I decided to get back into novel writing after a few years of hiatus while I pursued other projects, including screenwriting, I pulled out a half-finished manuscript I thought had potential and entered it in a handful of RWA Chapter writing contests. I figured I'd get some helpful feedback that would spur me into finally finishing the manuscript. It wasn't like I hadn't finished other manuscripts, after all; I had four complete manuscripts languishing, unloved and unwanted, in boxes on shelves in my office.

But then something wonderful—and terrible—happened. I finaled in most of the contests, and a couple of times, editors actually asked to see the full manuscript. Only, I didn't have a full manuscript.

Oops.

I was lucky. While I was waiting to hear from the contests, I'd pulled out another finished manuscript that I'd loved but couldn't sell (it made it to the senior editor of a line before ultimately being rejected). I gave that old manuscript a second look and decided I could make the changes the editor had mentioned in her rejection letter, even though she hadn't invited me to resubmit, and try it again. So by the time I got the editor requests on the unfinished manuscript, my revisions to the old manuscript were completed. I contacted one of the editors who'd asked for the unfinished manuscript, pulled a bait and switch and offered her the finished one while I was working on finishing the one she'd originally requested. Luckily, she said yes. I had bought myself some time.

It was almost a year before I finished the manuscript she'd originally requested. By that time, the editor had left the publishing house and I had to start from scratch. But the incident taught me a very valuable lesson about the importance of having a finished manuscript.

Note that I said "finished," not "polished." There's a difference. And that's where the Excel spreadsheet comes in. When I had three manuscripts out doing the contest rounds, getting requests and doing pretty well, I got a little greedy. I'd had an idea for a fourth manuscript that wouldn't let go of me. I decided I wanted to enter it in some contests with January deadlines. Just one problem: It was mid-October when I made this decision. How in the world was I going to finish an 80,000 word book (300 pages) in time to enter it into a contest with a January 15th deadline?

I'd heard about something called "Book in a Week"—an attempt to write as many pages as you could within a week, theoretically writing enough to actually finish the first draft of a book in that period of time. You give yourself permission to write utter dreck with the knowledge that you can fix a badly written page, but you can't fix a blank page.

I was skeptical that I'd be able to finish a whole book in a week, but my goal was to write as much as I could in that short period of time, just to get a jumpstart into the new book. I was right to be skeptical; working full time as I do, with family obligations as well, I managed to write only 80 pages or so in that first week. But eighty pages was a quarter of the way through my projected page count. If I did the same number of pages a week for three more weeks, I'd be finished with the first draft of my book.

I then wrote almost NOTHING for two weeks. In my defense. those two weeks happened to coincide with the U.S. presidential election, and being something of a political junkie, I was pretty much glued to the news channels and the internet opinion sites and blogs. But it jarred me out of my newfound writing habit. I was crashing and burning as a dedicated writer. I needed a plan. A motivation. Something that put my feet to the fire to get my 80 pages a week done.

That's when I decided to give myself a deadline and a way to keep track of my daily progress. I created an Excel Spreadsheet that kept track of the date, how many pages I projected to write that day, and how many cumulative pages I had by the end of that day. The spreadsheet looked something like this:















Not only did this give me something concrete to work with, as far as a daily schedule and an overall deadline was concerned, it gave me some flexibility. I figured out what my goal date was: the date when I wanted the first draft to be finished. I then figured out how many pages per day I'd have to do to meet that goal. I gave extra pages to the weekends, when I knew I could devote several hours at a time to writing, and lightened up the load on weekdays, when all I had was a couple of hours a night, tops, to devote to writing. If I wrote less one day, I added pages to other days or, if necessary, I could also add days to my deadline. (I never had to do this, however, and I suggest you do that only as a last resort. You need to get used to meeting a deadline no matter what it takes). If I wrote more pages in a day than I planned, I got to take pages off later days or—my favorite—delete entire days from my deadline.

Once I started using the Excel spreadsheet, my writing stayed on track. I finished my first draft a day ahead of schedule, and good thing, since the manuscript finaled in five of the seven contests I entered, and I received editor requests for fulls.

The method can also be adapted for revisions and edits; using the same formula, you can assign pages per day of line edits or galley edits to make sure you get your work back to your editor on time. Anything that has a deadline can work with this spreadsheet.

I've adapted the spreadsheet even further to incorporate the early stages of writing by creating a second sheet in the spreadsheet where I chart the chapter by chapter outline of my book so that I can keep track of what chapter will include what important story point or relationship escalation. It helps me focus my writing as I go so that I write more efficiently.

I've created an Excel Spreadsheet template you can use to create your own working spreadsheet. It's very easy to use if you have any knowledge of Excel at all; I've even plugged in the formulas that will help the spreadsheet automatically track your total pages, based on the number of pages you plug into the daily pages cell. You can download the Excel spreadsheet template here.

Now go. Write.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Writerspace Chat Tonight!

I'm very bad about letting people know about my chats on Writerspace, so I'm trying to be a little better with the self-promotion thing.

Tonight at 8 pm Central, 9 pm Eastern, I'll be chatting at the Writerspace Chat Room. Pick your name and come on in!

I'll be talking about my two new self-published books tonight. Ask anything you want about my venture. I'm not going to talk actual dollar figures, but I can talk about sales in general, plus why I decided to self-publish these books, what self-publishing I see myself doing in the future and even nuts and bolts stuff like where I get the images for the cover art for the books.

So if you ever had any questions about self-publishing you wanted to ask, drop by the chat and ask away. I'm new to it, but I'll share what I know. And, of course, I'll also answer questions about the books themselves. And I'll be giving away a $25 eGiftcard to a chatter drawn at random. So y'all come!



Saturday, July 02, 2011

Independent Publishing and My New Venture




In the past few months, authors have begun to discover that independent publishing, i.e. self-publishing, is a potentially viable choice, especially for authors who have already established themselves through the bigger publishing houses. There were some newbies, such as a Amanda Hocking, who managed to self-publish as a nobody and become a somebody through her efforts, but there are thousands and thousands more who have had only minor luck with their sales. Goodness knows, we writers have always been very wary of the various vanity publishers who end up taking your money and giving you very little in return.

But with the advent of Smashwords, Pubit and Kindle Digital Publishing, authors are discovering that they can put their original stories and novels online in ebook form and sell quite well, earning double or triple the royalties that they would earn from an established publishing company. The talented—and brave—Courtney Milan has had her self-published novella, Unlocked, make the NY Times bestseller list.

Now, there are definitely caveats. It's rare to get great sales right out of the box. And the more books you make available at one time, the better the results. Finally, the work itself has to be professionally written, edited and formatted for you to get the kind of word-of-mouth buzz you need to sell more. It also helps to be an already established author with a following.

I also think that you should at least try to publish with an established company, because Print on Demand (POD) is currently nowhere near as efficient and cost-effective a way to publish print books as the established publisher can offer. There's still the prestige of publishing with a big publisher, too, and the benefits of being part of RWA and other organizations that don't offer membership to self-published authors.

I'm going to continue writing for my publisher. I may well try to write larger books for another publisher as well. But that doesn't mean the perfectly good books I had languishing on my hard drive didn't deserve to see the light of day. They weren't picked up by my current publishing house, not because they weren't good books but because they contained elements that wouldn't work for the line I write for. That didn't mean there weren't readers who might want to read those books, however.

So middle of last month, I put the Code Name: WILLOW on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. No promotion at all. And in 13 days, I sold as many ebooks of Code Name: WILLOW as I sold of most of my Intrigue ebooks, and more than many.

Near the end of the month, I uploaded Playing Dead in Dixie to those publishers and, while sales have been slower to pick up, I've begun selling that book as well.

Just because they're ebooks, don't let that stop you from taking a look! You can download either Adobe Digital Editions or Kindle for PC (or Mac) to your computer and read on your computer. You can download on Iphone, Kindle, Nook or Kobo. On Smashwords, you can download one of a number of different formats.

If you're interested, please visit my website and take a look at the pages for these two new books. If you make a purchase, do me a favor—leave a review or a rating for the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, Borders, Books-a-Million or anywhere you have an account. If you blog, maybe think about giving me a short review. Or post about it on Twitter or Facebook.

Word of mouth is the best way to sell these books, and I can use all the help I can get from people who like my books. So thanks in advance!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Winner of the $75 eGiftcard is....

Jackie W!

Jackie, email me at paulagraves (at) charter (dot) net (no spaces) and tell me what ebookstore you'd prefer the giftcard from.

Congratulations! And thanks, everyone, for the comments!

Chickasaw County Captive wins the 2011 Daphne Award

Chickasaw County Captive, my February 2010 Intrigue, won its category in the 2011 Daphne du Maurier awards last night at the Romance Writers of America convention. This is the annual contest held by the Kiss of Death Romantic Mystery/Suspense chapter of the RWA, which is dedicated to romance authors writing in the romantic suspense/mystery subgenre.

My January 2010 Intrigue, Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming, was also a finalist. Other finalists in the category included Intrigue authors Julie Miller (Takedown) and B.J. Daniels (High Caliber Christmas). My fellow RITA finalist Gail Barrett was also up for the Daphne with her RITA finalist, Meltdown.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Revisiting the "Forbidden" series



Back in March of this year, Harlequin finally released my first book, Forbidden Territory, as an ebook, which means all of my books are now available for purchase again if you have an ereader or ebook software on your computer or smart phone.

I know I've picked up some new readers with the Cooper Justice series who may not be familiar with my first three books, so consider this your introduction...

About seventeen years ago, I had this idea about a young school teacher named Lily Browning who had psychic visions of very bad things. Unfortunately for her, no matter how she tried to stop these things from happening, they always ended in tragedy. So after a time, she decided that the visions were a curse, not a gift, and she fought against them. The struggle gave her terrible migraines, but the headaches were less painful than seeing horrible things she knew she couldn't stop.

But one day, she sees a vision of a terrified little girl. The vision comes on her so fast that she can't stop it--and it happens right as a jaded police detective with a tragic past comes into her classroom, asking questions about a child who's gone missing.

The book ended up being rejected a couple of times and I put it away. I switched from novel writing to screenwriting for a few years and had some nibbles but no breakthrough. Finally, in 2003, over eight years since I'd put aside that rejected manuscript, I brought it out again. Revisited it and realized it needed a massive rewrite. When that was done, I entered it in some contests and had very good luck, including a 2004 Golden Heart final. In 2005, I finalied in a contest and won, and the editor judge asked to see the full manuscript. In August, 2005, she bought the book, titled What the Heart Sees, and we changed the title to Forbidden Territory. It came out in June 2006.

I had already planned two more books, once for each of the heroine's sisters. It took months to write the second one. It came out in June 2007. Forbidden Temptation told the story of Lily Browning's sister Rose, who we met in the first book as a happy girl whose paranormal gift was the delightful ability to see what she called "true love veils." But when we meet her in her own book, we discover that a tragedy has twisted her gift into something much darker: now she sees "death veils"—visions that tell her how a person is going to die. Worse for her, a serial killer is at work in the neighborhood where she lives, and she sees his handiwork before he strikes. But can she convince the skeptical profiler investigating the case that her ability can help him stop the killer before another woman dies?

The final book, Forbidden Touch, catches up with Iris Browning, whose empathic gift allows her to draw pain and tension from people she touches, but at great physical cost to herself. Her desire to help others has left her nearly crippled, but when her vacation trip to the Caribbean goes horribly wrong when her friend goes missing, Iris has to draw on her dwindling strength to unravel the clues before it's too late for her friend. She draws the attention of a ne'er-do-well beach bum who's not what he seems. Can she trust his offer of help?

All three books are now available in ebook from most online ebook sellers. If you liked Cooper Justice, but you haven't read my first three books, why not give them a try?






Monday, June 06, 2011

Cooper Vengeance preview

When I started the Cooper Justice series almost two years ago, my main goal was to write about a big, boisterous family from north Alabama. A family of fishermen, outdoorsmen, soldiers and cops. I wanted to make John Deere caps as sexy as Stetsons.



I'm not sure I've accomplished that, but Cooper Justice did introduce a hard-working, hard-fighting, hard-loving group of men and women who call the south their home and have a natural affinity for the land they love so fiercely.


The final story of the Cooper Justice series features the eldest Cooper brother, J.D., whose life has been marked by tragedy—the unsolved murder of his wife Brenda. In Cooper Vengeance, available this month from Harlequin Intrigue, we finally get to the bottom of who killed his wife—but not before J.D. meets Natalie Becker, a woman whose own grief fuels the fire in her belly as she seeks to prove who killed her sister. J.D. believes the same killer is behind both murders, but Natalie thinks she knows exactly who killed her sister.


Can they pool their resources and work together, even if their theories don't mesh? And just how much will their simmering attraction to each other complicate the situation? Read Cooper Vengeance for the answer.


How about a sneak peek? Here's a short excerpt from the beginning of Cooper Vengeance:


###


Natalie Becker crouched beside the new headstone, her eyes dry but burning. Seeing the name etched into the marble marker—Carrie Becker Gray—only amplified the anger burning a hole in Natalie's chest.


You shouldn't bear his name for eternity, she thought.


She stood up, finally, glad for the shade of the ancient oak, with its outstretched limbs creating a Spanish-moss-draped-canopy for her sister's grave. July and August would be hotter, but June was nothing to laugh at here in Terrebonne, Alabama. Unless you were right on the river or the bay, there weren't enough cool breezes blowing up from the Gulf to temper the sweltering heat and humidity. Even the shade offered only moderate relief from the heat and no relief at all from the mosquitoes and flies.


She batted at a large green bottle fly buzzing around her, ducking her head to one side to avoid the insect's dive at her face. As she did, she caught movement in her peripheral vision.


She whipped her gaze in that direction, the fly forgotten. In the pit of her gut, she was certain she'd see Hamilton Gray standing there, watching her.


She was wrong. It wasn't Hamilton. Not even close.


The dark-haired stranger standing a few yards away was a giant of a man, six foot four or taller, towering over even the larger of the granite markers surrounding him. He had broad shoulders, a massive chest, narrow hips and muscular legs. And his short, military-style haircut only amplified the aura of strength and authority.


Soldier? Maybe a cop, although being a sheriff's deputy herself, she knew most of the lawmen in this area and he definitely wasn't one of them.


Out on the access road, a horn honked, making her jump. She turned her head toward the sound, laughing a little at herself for being so tightly strung.


When she looked back at the stranger, he was gone.


She scanned the graveyard until she spotted him walking briskly toward the other side of the cemetery. His long legs had covered a surprising amount of ground in the few seconds her attention had drifted toward the sound of the horn.


Who was he?


Stop it, she admonished herself silently. Stop seeing suspects everywhere you look. You know who killed your sister.



The stranger was probably just an out-of-towner, here to visit the grave of a friend or relative. Out of curiosity, she crossed to the spot where he'd stood just a few moments earlier, growing more sure with each step that she'd find the explanation for his presence etched into the nearest marker.


But when she reached the marker, it was an unlikely source of enlightenment. The gravestone marked the final resting place of Mary Beth Geddie, who'd died a week after birth nearly a hundred years earlier. Not exactly what she'd expected to find.


She gazed toward the edge of the cemetery, where she spotted the large man walking through the front gates and straight toward a large black truck parked at the curb.


Illegally parked, she thought. She could ticket him and see who he was and what he was up to.
Her feet were moving before she finished the thought, pounding over the sun-baked ground of the graveyard. But by the time she neared the gates, the black truck was out of sight.


She skidded to a stop and bent at the waist, breathing harder than she liked. She'd let her workouts go over the past two weeks while dealing with Carrie's death and the aftermath. Between the piles of food the good folks of Terrebonne had brought by before the funeral and the stress-eating opportunities that were part and parcel of dealing with her parents, Natalie had probably gained five pounds in the two weeks.


She had to get control of her life. Now.


She trudged back to her sister's grave, trying to feel something besides bitter anger and guilt. "I told you not to marry him," she said softly to the stone.


"I'm grateful she didn't listen," Hamilton Gray murmured, his voice equally soft.


Natalie whirled around to face her brother-in-law, who had stepped from behind the sheltering tree. Had he lain in wait for her? "What are you doing here?"


Hamilton's voice hardened in an instant. "Visiting my wife's grave." His eyes narrowed, giving his lean face a feral aspect. "The one I paid for, if you insist on becoming territorial."


You haven't paid yet, Natalie thought, seething at his tone. As if Carrie had been an object to cherish or discard at his whim.


"I know you think I had something to do with her murder, but I can assure you I did not. As can the authorities, as you well know." Hamilton's voice grew more conciliatory. "Natalie, I loved your sister. She loved me. I may not like to share my feelings with the world, but they exist nonetheless."


There it was. That convincing air of sincerity he threw on and off like an overcoat. It seemed to fool everyone she knew, including her father, who prided himself on judgment and his knack for reading people. But Darden Becker had one enormous blind spot—money. And if there was any family in South Alabama richer than the Beckers, it was the Grays.


###


Have you read all the Cooper Justice books yet? Have you read any of them? Do you have a favorite book from the series? A favorite character? A favorite scene?


Let's talk about the series in the comments. At the end of the month, I'll draw a winner to receive a $75 eGiftcard.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Man from Gossamer Ridge - Read an Excerpt

My May Intrigue was one of the most fun for me to write because both the hero and heroine, Gabe and Alicia, were wonderful people to play with. Gabe is a nice guy with a strong sense of duty and responsibility, and Alicia is bright and quirky, with a slightly nerdy streak. Despite the internal conflicts trying to keep them apart, they had instant and combustible chemistry, which made writing their romance a complete delight.


If you haven't picked up your copy, please do. I think you'll really enjoy their story. And to whet your appetite, here's a quick excerpt from the early part of the book:



_________________________________________




"You know what? Let's just think about something else for a little while." Gabe's gaze scanned the apartment. "Do you have a deck of cards?"


She furrowed her brow, trying to follow his swift change of subject. "Yeah, somewhere around here."


"Great!" He grinned up at her. "Find them and I'll teach you a fun new game."


She wasn't sure she trusted the wicked look in his eyes, but she was up for anything that would take her mind off the threat hanging over her head. She headed in search of cards.


"It's called Popsmack and it's very easy to play." Gabe dealt the deck of cards evenly between them.


"Popsmack?"


He grinned. "Long story. It's something my brother Jake and I made up on a rainy afternoon when the folks wouldn't let us out on the water. Because of the lightning."


"Yeah, I could see where being on the water during a lightning storm might not be wise."


He shot her a quick look, grinning. "Chicken."


"Is Jake older or younger?"


"Older. By ten minutes. And he never lets me forget it."


"Oh, twins. Identical or fraternal?"


"Fraternal, although we look enough alike that people who don't know us well get us mixed up."


She couldn't imagine mistaking anyone for Gabe Cooper. "Do you have that twin vibe thing people talk about?"


"I'm not sure I believe in that stuff, but I do seem to know when something's not right with Jake. And vice versa." Gabe dealt the last card and sat back. "Okay, here's how the game works. We lay out one card at a time. The person with the high card gets to ask the person with the low card any question they want. And the loser has to answer truthfully."


She saw danger written all over this game. But a different kind of danger than lurked outside her small apartment. A kind of danger that was so tempting, she could feel her blood singing at the prospect.


"Ready?" He asked.


She nodded, a nervous bubble rising in her throat.


He laid out a card. Jack of spades. Her heart gave a little dip, then began to race as she laid a six of clubs on the table between them. She looked up at him, waiting for his question with a mixture of dread and anticipation.


He met her gaze, silent for a long moment. His eyes glittered with wicked delight, as if he was contemplating just how naughty a question he could ask. By the time he finally spoke, her whole body was vibrating with tension.


"Why criminal psychology?"


She gave a small start of surprise, nearly overbalancing on her ottoman perch. She clutched the cushion to steady herself and wondered how to answer his unexpectedly serious question without baring parts of her soul she'd never shared with anyone.


She decided to go with part of the truth. "Rebellion."


"Against your parents? Or your brother?"


"I thought it was just one question per deal."


He smiled. "Fair enough." He laid down another card. Three of hearts.


She smiled back as she laid down a ten of clubs. "Have you ever been in love?"


"Right to the money question, huh? You women are so predictable."


"Trying to avoid the question?"


"No." He sighed, running his finger around the edge of the card he'd dealt. "I thought I was in love in high school. Mary Beth Traylor. Cutest majorette on the team. Really good with her hands."


Alicia groaned at the innuendo.


"No, seriously," Gabe said, although the gleam in his eyes was anything but sincere. "She was a runner up in the Miss Alabama pageant about ten years ago. Twirled a mean baton."


"So why didn't you marry Miss Almost Alabama?"


"She met a plastic surgeon who was mad about her. How could a country boy who spent his day catching fish compete with something like that?"


"You dumped her?"


"Entirely too high maintenance. I'd have gone broke from the hairspray bill alone."


Grinning, she laid down another card. "Oh, look. A queen."


He flipped over a card and grinned. "Oh, look. A king."


She eyed him suspiciously, not liking the way he was looking at her. "I'm not sure you don't have this deck stacked in your favor."


"Cheating at Popsmack is a hanging offense. I would never besmirch the honor of the game that way." He toyed with the card in front of him, a thoughtful look on his face. Finally, his gaze whipped up to meet hers, surprisingly serious. "Rebellion against whom?"


A sex question would have been less painful to answer, she thought, nudging her inadequate Queen of Diamonds toward the middle of the coffee table. "Both my parents and my brother, I guess. I was determined not to be like any of them."


She could see him itching to ask a follow-up question, but she thwarted him by setting her stack of cards on the table and getting up, walking over to look out the window. Night was falling fast, making her wonder if she and Gabe had made a mistake by sending Cissy off for food with dusk so close.


"I wonder what's taking Cissy so long?"


"It's been only ten minutes." Gabe's voice was so close she jumped. Turning, she found him standing right behind her, so close that her arm brushed against his hard-muscled abdomen when she turned.


He didn't move away, and the expression on his face suggested he had no intention of doing so. His eyes had turned a smoky blue that reminded her of the color of San Francisco Bay when a storm was brewing in the Pacific.


His head bent closer. "I'm going to kiss you now. If you want me to stop, say so now."


Her throat seemed to close, rebelling against the warning signals blaring from her brain.


She didn't want him to stop.


Gabe dipped his head lower, his lips brushing hers. The touch was light and undemanding. A taste, as if offering a sample to see if she wanted more. And she did.


Sliding her fingers into the crisp, dark hair at the back of his head, she drew him down to her, lips parting in invitation. Then his lips claimed hers, and the world spun out of control.


_____________________________________


(Just a caveat--this scene was clipped from the final draft manuscript and may not reflect minor edits made before printing).


The Man from Gossamer Ridge is available at bookstores, WalMart, some grocery stores and online. You can still find the previous book in the trilogy, Hitched and Hunted, online. And you can order the final book of the series, Cooper Vengeance, right now at eHarlequin and coming in June to bookstores.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Good interview on Writerspace

I recently did an interview with Logan Mosby with Writerspace, and I think she did a pretty good job of compiling my answers into a revealing interview.

So, if you'd like to know a little more about me, check it out.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Major Nanny Now Available for Preorder

My October book, Major Nanny, is now available for preorder on Amazon.com.

So hop to it!

Major Nanny is part of the Daddy Corps continuity, but it should work fine as a stand-alone, so feel free to buy it even if you're not reading the other books.

But I've gotta say, you should be reading the others, because the authors are some of Intrigue's best!

Here's the line-up:

April - GI Cowboy by Delores Fossen
May - Baby Bootcamp by Mallory Kane
June - Cowboy Brigade by Elle James
October - Major Nanny by Paula Graves
November - Camouflage Cowboy by Jan Hambright

There's also a book in December, but I don't know what the title is. I'll update when I get it.

I just finished the final edits on Major Nanny this weekend, and I've got to say, I really think y'all will enjoy it. There's plenty of action, romance and intrigue to go around.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Q & A with Jake and Mariah Cooper on Intrigue Blog

I posted a little Q & A with the hero and heroine of Hitched and Hunted, my book that's currently on the bookshelves. (Have you bought your copy yet? Let me know what you think of it!)

I try not to spoil the book too much, but hopefully the Q & A will give you a little extra insight into the characters and help you enjoy the story that much more.


Also, you can ask them some questions of your own, if you're interested in doing so. I'd love to have a few more comments on the post!

Monday, April 18, 2011

RT Book Reviews - 4 1/2 Star for Cooper Vengeance

RT Book Reviews gave Cooper Vengeance, my June Intrigue, 4/12 stars and a lovely review:

COOPER VENGEANCE (4.5) by Paula Graves: It’s been 12 years since his wife was raped and murdered, but J.D. Cooper hasn’t stopped investigating the cold case. When Deputy Natalie Becker’s sister is murdered in the same small town where his wife grew up, evidence leads him to believe he’s closing in on the killer. Natalie suspects her brother-in-law, but she’s willing to join forces with J.D. to get their man. After years of working alone, J.D. finds himself distracted by his partner — which turns dangerous when the murderer starts targeting her. The final installment of the Cold Case miniseries neatly ties up all the loose ends and delivers a shattering, blood-drenched conclusion.

Cooper Vengeance is the final book of the Cooper Justice series, and the final book of the miniseries Cooper Justice: Cold Case Investigation. And don't let the "blood-drenched" conclusion worry you—the right guys do the bleeding. ;)

It's possible, I suppose, that my new Cooper series, coming in 2012, may end up going under a variation of Cooper Justice, since the Cooper cousins are also deeply involved in matters of justice. So perhaps I've spoken too soon when I say the series is over. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Guest Blogging on Get Lost in a Story

The fine folks at Get Lost in a Story have interviewed me for their blog. You can find the post here. Drop by there and give me a little comment love!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Friday's Winner

And the winner of Friday's giveaway is.... :::drum roll::: Nas Dean! Email me (click the home button on this blog, then click the contact button on my website) and we'll get together on the prize and how I'll get it to you. And thanks you to everyone else who participated. Stay tuned---I'll be doing more giveaways over the next three months as I celebrate the publications of my Cooper Justice: Cold Case Investigation trilogy.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Blogging on the Writerspace Blog

Be sure to check out my blog post up now on the Writerspace blog. I'm talking about motives for marriage, which is especially significant to the hero and heroine of my April 2011 Intrigue, Hitched and Hunted. And don't forget, it you haven't picked up your copy of Hitched and Hunted yet, it should be available today anywhere you can purchase Intrigues. It's the first of three connected books that solve an over-arching mystery, so you don't want to miss a one of the books! It's also available online, of course, and if you shop at eHarlequin.com, you can pick up a copy of my May 2011 book, The Man from Gossamer Ridge, right now.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Want a preview of Hitched and Hunted?

My April Intrigue, Hitched and Hunted, hits the shelves tomorrow, so how about a preview? Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the book:

___________________________________________

Mariah Cooper had imagined her death a thousand times in the past four years, but never had she thought she'd be crouched in a motel room bathtub when it finally happened.

"It's going to be okay." Jake's calm voice barely rose above the wind gusts rattling the windows and howling around the corner eaves just outside the motel room. Across the tub, he locked his hands with hers, his blue eyes meeting hers with steady assurance. "Just another tornado warning, right?"

Mariah nodded. Having spent her whole life in tornado-prone areas, she'd responded to hundreds of tornado siren warnings with actions drummed into her head over the years—go to the basement or an interior room, put as many walls between you and the exterior as possible, get beneath something sturdy if possible. Right now, they were on the bottom floor of the two-story motel, and the bathroom was the only place in the room that didn't have an exterior window. The tub had a long steel handle set into the wall to hold on to if things got hairy.

But she couldn't remember ever hearing the wind howl so loudly or feeling the walls shake with each gust.

"It's close," she said, pressure rising in her ears.

Jake's gaze held hers. "It may not even touch down."

On the counter across from the tub, a battery-powered radio kept up a steady stream of chatter from a local station carrying wall-to-wall weather coverage from a television station out of Meridian, Mississippi. The meteorologist was warning people in the Buckley area to get to their places of safety immediately.

"I love you." The warmth of Jake's voice wrapped around Mariah's shivering body. She held his gaze, her heart sinking under the weight of the truth. Jake didn't really love her. He couldn't. He didn't know who she really was.

A crackling boom shook the motel room. The lights surged, then died, plunging the bathroom into utter blackness. Mariah gasped, her fingers tightening over his.

"A transformer blew. That's all." Jake shifted, turning her until she was cradled between his knees, her back against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her, his breath hot against her neck. "Just a few more minutes and it'll be over."

The roar of the wind rose. Cracks and thuds filled Mariah's ears, frighteningly close. Though she closed her eyes against the darkness, as if she could shut it out somehow, the blackness pursued her relentlessly, carried on a sea of destruction encroaching from somewhere outside.

She repeated Jake's promise in her head. A few more minutes and it'll be over. It'll be over. It'll be over.

Then, suddenly, it was. The roar of wind fell quickly before dying away altogether, replaced by a steady drumbeat of rain against the windows. Jake began to stir, but Mariah clutched his arms, holding him in place behind her in the tub. They sat quietly, listening to the radio. Only when the weatherman started talking about storm damage reports trickling in from Buckley did Mariah finally move.

"We should see if the truck and boat made it," she murmured, struggling to compose herself.

Jake muttered a soft oath. "Didn't think about the boat."

The power was still out, so Mariah had to feel her way out of the tub and into the main part of the motel room. She'd spotted candles and matches in the drawer of the bureau when she was putting away their clothes a couple of days earlier, so she made her way there and opened the drawer, groping inside until she felt the smooth, cool wax of a candle beneath her fingers. A little more searching garnered the small box of matches as well. She struck a match and touched the tip to the candle's wick. The candle sizzled to life, casting a warm, flickering glow across the motel room.

Mariah turned and found her husband gazing at her, his expression tense but confident.

"Told you we'd make it through." He brushed her arm with his fingertips as he passed her on the way to the front window. He moved the curtain aside and peered out through the rain-mottled windows. His back stiffening, he spoke in a raspy voice. "Good news is the truck and boat are still there. But the shopping strip next door is gone."

Her knees buckling, Mariah stumbled to the end of the bed and sat heavily, her heart pounding wildly. There had been fifteen stores in that strip center. They'd shopped at the drugstore there just that morning. And now it was gone?

She'd known it was a bad idea to come back to Buckley.



THE BAD WEATHER THE NIGHT before had bypassed Victor Logan for the most part. A few trees had fallen in the woods surrounding his house, a shanty of a place that was the most he could afford to rent with the little bit of money he'd had left after his legal fees. But he'd seen nothing but a little wind and rain where he lived, despite the tornado siren. And as his old box set television couldn't pick up any channels since the conversion to digital, he hadn't watched the morning news before gassing up his van and driving to town to look for work.

So it was with some surprise that he saw the utter devastation wrought across the small town of Buckley, Mississippi, in the early hours of the morning. Houses with roofs damaged or missing completely. Vehicles upside down, including an eighteen-wheeler wrapped around the concrete piling of an overpass, the trailer split in two, spilling its payload of fresh strawberries onto the roadway. Birds swarmed like winged piranhas, pecking bits of flesh from the berries until the roadside bled red with their juices.

Bodies of farm animals dotted the highway into Buckley, buzzards circling overhead. As he neared town, traffic slowed to a grind due to a roadblock on the highway ahead. The cops must be screening people to be sure they had legitimate business in the storm zone, he realized with a grimace.

He didn't want to talk to the cops, so he turned off as soon as he could, parking in front of a small diner. He'd eaten there a few times. Good food, low prices, and the staff mostly left you alone. Inside, he sat at the counter and ordered the breakfast special—eggs, sausage and a gravy biscuit.

Nearby, a half dozen fellow customers huddled around the diner's small television, murmuring in low tones of horror and concern. Victor could see part of the television screen between their bodies, enough that he got a good look at the devastation in downtown Buckley and on the south side, where the road toward Flint Creek Reservoir had taken a hard hit, wiping out a shopping strip center and several dozen residences.

Victor watched for a moment, his only emotion curiosity. The destruction might open up the job market for him. He was a good mechanic. He could also do construction work if necessary. He just needed someone to look past the black marks on his record. He was starting to get anxious—he'd never been a thief, and he didn't want to become one now just to keep his head above water. Theft was Marisol's crime, not his.

Treacherous bitch.

As he started to look away from the television screen, a face in the crowd behind the male reporter caught his eye. Dropping his fork, he walked closer to the television screen, edging another man out of the way to get a better look.

Marisol. As if his thoughts had conjured her up.

Four years later, she'd changed little, her hair still long and coal black, her eyes so light they looked like pools of silver against the dusky olive of her skin. She gazed straight into the camera, as if looking right at him, and his heart beat a thunderous cadence in his ears.

Her eyes widened and she looked away quickly, as if she'd seen him watching her through the television screen, and turned to speak to a tall, dark-haired man standing beside her. He put his arm around her shoulder and they walked out of the frame.

Victor stared at the screen, barely breathing. He forced himself to listen to the reporter's drivel. The talking head was near a residential subdivision the tornado had nearly wiped out. The people behind the guy were volunteers for the rescue and recovery efforts. More volunteers were needed.

Victor returned to the counter and wolfed down his breakfast. He was on the road within a few minutes.

He bypassed the main highway into Buckley, taking side roads that snaked through the forest and farmlands hemming in the town on all sides. A policeman flagged him down as he entered the affected area.

Victor willed himself to remain calm. He'd done his time. He'd gotten out on good behavior. Seeing his parole officer weekly, as required, and still looking for a job. Plus, he had skills the rescuers could use, didn't he?

He said as much to the policeman who rapped on the driver's side window of his van to ask what business he had in the area.

The cop eyed him a moment before giving a nod. He told him where to park the van and where to find the fire department officer who was coordinating volunteers.

Victor parked where directed and walked to the staging area, a pavilion tent set up in the middle of the road near the tornado strike zone. Inside, volunteers were taking names and handing out bottles of water to those who'd come to support the first responders.

Hers was the first face he saw.

Victor's heart jumped. Marisol was only a few feet away, bending to open another crate of water bottles. She pulled several bottles from the package and set them on a collapsible card table set up in the middle of the staging tent.

She was as beautiful as ever, though time had blessed her, at twenty-five, with a more womanly shape and a leaner, more mature face than she'd possessed at twenty-one. Her dark hair was twisted into a careless braid down her back, humidity giving it a hint of curl in the tendrils around her face. She smiled as she handed a volunteer a bottle, and Victor saw she'd fixed the upper left bicuspid she'd broken as a child.

The man he'd seen her with on TV was nowhere around.

Victor slipped from the tent, not yet ready to be seen. He needed to know why she was here. Was she still living in the Buckley area? Surely not. He'd looked for her in vain as soon as he got out of jail.

Who was the man she'd been with, who'd put his arm around her and led her away from the reporter? Her new lover?

Victor wasn't jealous—he'd never consider sullying himself with her. She'd been an intellectual passion, not an object of sexual desire.

But he hadn't plucked her out of filth to watch her whore her way around Mississippi, either. He hadn't schooled her in the classics, filled her formerly dull mind with the precisions of science and the exquisite mysteries of mathematics to watch her throw her knowledge away on frivolous, romantic dreams of marriage and maternity.

She was supposed to be a different sort of creature, dedicated to knowledge and beauty, not a slave to her baser drives and emotions.

Marisol Mendez had been a great disappointment to him.


Text Copyright © 2011 by Paula Graves. Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books.

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If Hitched and Hunted sounds interesting to you, please visit your nearest bookstore tomorrow or head online and purchase a copy! It's also available on Kindle and other ebook formats. I'd love to hear what you think of it after you've read it. If you click the links to the right on this blog, you'll be able to purchase not only Hitched and Hunted but also the second book in the trilogy, The Man from Gossamer Ridge, available right now from eHarlequin.com.

And how about a little contest to celebrate the release? In the comments, answer one of three questions for me:

1. Do you like books where the main couple are already involved?

2. Do you like books where the hero or heroine has a hidden identity?

3. Have you ever been through a natural disaster like a tornado, hurricane or earthquake? If so, can you tell us what it was like?

I'll pick a commenter from random to win a $25 eGiftcard from the online bookstore of your choosing.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Spring is Here—Let the Sneezing Commence

Beautiful weekend here in north central Alabama. How about some pictures? (Click on the photos for a larger version of the image)

Dogwoods are blooming in my side yard. So beautiful! Plus, it means the bluegills are on their beds—time to go fishing!


See our little fig tree in the side yard? You'd be surprised by how many figs the tree produces for its size. It cross pollinates with a larger tree that's kind of hidden behind it in this photo.


We recently had a lot of repair work done on our back deck, including the addition of this gate, which blocks passage down the steps to the yard. Our cats are indoor cats, but we wanted to be able to let them come out on the deck with us when we start container gardening there, or when we're just outside enjoying the day. You can see Tempe, our little black female cat, sitting by the gate. But we can't close it in, because that's how the dogs get from inside to the yard outside. Hence the gate. Open for dogs, closed for cats.




Here's another view of the deck repairs. We had the lattice added to make the area more contained than it was before, which will make it easier to keep the cats on the deck. Also, our handyman built us this bench that extends the width of the deck and down one side to the house. It'll be good for both sitting and for placing our container garden containers.

What about y'all? Has spring arrived where you are? What are your favorite signs of the new season? I love all the colors—green leaves, blooming azaleas, daffodils, dogwoods, redbuds, pear trees, magnolias, tulips. But I sure don't love the pollen, which makes me miserable all season.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Forbidden Territory Now Available as an Ebook

Finally, Harlequin has released my first Harlequin Intrigue, Forbidden Territory, as an ebook. You should be able to purchase the book in the ebook format of your choice. It's available right now on eHarlequin, Amazon.com, Mobipocket, Sony, Barnes and Noble and more.

Why is this a big deal this late in the game? Because now people can buy Forbidden Territory new--which means I can start earning royalties on it again. When it was out of print, any copy that people purchased was used and therefore didn't earn me any cash at all.

Also, for people who read exclusively on Kindle or Nook or Sony Reader, you can have the whole Forbidden trilogy for your connection instead of just the second and third books.

So, please, if you know anyone who likes my books and would like to have an ebook version of my first book, help me get the word out!

Friday, March 25, 2011

RITA Finalist, Baby!

I can't believe I haven't posted this already, but just in case you haven't heard it yet, I'm a RITA finalist!

Don't know what a RITA is? Well, it's the Academy Award for Romance writers. And yes, it really is an honor just to be nominated.

My book Case File: Canyon Creek, Wyoming is up for the RITA award for Series Romance: Suspense/Adventure, and I have to say, Intrigue represented really well this year in that category, with three finalists.

If you'd like to see the whole list of nominees, check out the list on the RWA website.

Writerspace Spring Fling!

Please join me and dozens of your favorite authors at the 2011 Spring Fling at Writerspace on Sunday, March 27th from 7 pm CT to 10 pm CT. Authors will be dropping in to chat all during the evening and we will be giving away hundreds of new books and other fantastic prizes—2 Kindles, autographed, hard-to-find, advance copies plus special treats like gift cards and more.

I myself will be giving away two prizes: a $25 gift certificate to Amazon.com to one winner, and a set of the first four Cooper Justice books to a second winner. (So the winner can get up to speed with my series just in time for April's debut of the final three Cooper Justice books!)

I hope to see you Sunday night! I'll be in the chat room, along with other writers, from 7 pm 'til 8 pm, and I'd love to see y'all there.

You don't have to be present to win, but you must be registered. To register, and for details on all participating authors and the prizes they're giving away, visit http://www.writerspace.com/springfling