Friday, February 25, 2011

Fun in a Bottle

Hat tip to John Scalzi, who posted the first video listed below on his own website. It led me on a You Tube crawl, where I came up with some other bottlelicious tunes.

So, enjoy!

Flight of the Bumblebees on bottles

Tetris theme on Bottles

Skater playing a tune on bottles

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor on a Bottle Organ

A really well-done edit of a guy playing Mozart on the bottles

And give it up for the St. Luke's Bottle Band, playing Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy!

Have you found any fun, offbeat You Tube videos you'd like to share? Put a link in the comments!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lovely review of Hitched and Hunted in RT Book Reviews!

HITCHED AND HUNTED (4 stars) by Paula Graves:

The steadily escalating tension, deft characterizations and an ongoing air of terror and secrets keep Graves’ Cooper family tales at the top of any must-read list. A fishing tournament wouldn’t seem like the place for a life-and-death escape, but between a tornado that tears a small Mississippi town in half and the deadly secrets she left behind years earlier, Mariah Cooper knows it’s only a matter of time before she and her new husband, Jake, must face her past, which she has gone to great lengths to keep hidden. When they are kidnapped, Mariah will do anything to keep Jake alive, including telling him her horrifying secrets. And as Jake comes to the stunned realization that he doesn’t really know his wife, he also discovers clues that could solve a cold case that nearly destroyed his family.

Reviewed by Pat Cooper

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine, Bloody Valentine - Updated with Winners

UPDATE: With just two commenters—EllenToo and Linda Henderson—, I'm going to give you both a $10 gift card! Just email me (click the "HOME" tab at the top of the blog to go to my website, and click "contact" to send your email) and let me know what ebookstore you'd like the gift card from.

Happy Valentine's Day! As you've probably discovered from reading my books (and, for that matter, my blog posts), I'm not actually much of a hearts and flowers kinda gal. I like my romance liberally smothered in action and suspsense. Well, for reading purposes, anyway.

So to celebrate Valentine's Day 2011, we're going to talk about romantic suspense!

I cut my teeth on romantic suspense as far back as my first introduction to the Trixie Belden books. Read a little bit about Jim Frayne's background and tell me he's not an Intrigue hero in the making. I dare ya! And intrepid but radically ordinary Trixie may have lacked Honey's wealth and good looks, but she was full of nerve and moxie, making her a quintessential Intrigue heroine in training.

Later, I discovered Victoria Holt's gothics, Mary Higgins Clark's women-in-jeopardy thrillers and the surprising moments of romance in the otherwise gritty Luis Mendoza police procedurals by Dell Shannon (aka Elizabeth Linington). By the time I discovered Harlequin Intrigue in my twenties, I knew I'd found the kinds of books I wanted to read.

And, eventually, write.

So I know a bit about romantic suspense.

Which leads me to today's Bloody Valentine Quiz. I'll answer the questions for myself, then in the comments y'all answer them for yourselves. If you don't have an answer for a question, skip it and answer one you can.

I'm going to select a winner at random from the comments to receive a $10 eGiftcard from the online bookseller of your choice.

So, here we go:

1. Name a favorite romantic suspense movie (With a happy ending for the romance)

Just one? Okay, the first one to come to mind is The Big Easy. Dennis Quaid in his prime, with a New Orleans accent and a southern swagger that makes me want to jump his bones? Oh, yeah. That's the good stuff. Great music in the soundtrack, too.

Other favorites include In the Line of Fire, Angel Eyes, and North by Northwest.

2. Name a favorite TV show that featured romantic suspense

Now, this I can do. Top all time? The X-Files. I know that technically, the show wasn't supposed to be a romance at all, but those darn kids just couldn't keep themselves from falling in love.

I love the show Castle, which is a sort of old-style romantic suspense, with more romance than you usually find in what is essentially a police procedural. Plus, the hero is a writer, and there's a lot of writer in-joke kind of stuff which I enjoy. I love Burn Notice, which features my favorite kind of romantic suspense pairing—two people who are utterly lethal and who don't want to be in love with each other for all kinds of reasons, but just can't help themselves. I even love Chuck, which is a comic take on romantic suspense and features a beta hero with an alpha heart.

3. Name some of your favorite romantic suspense authors

Oh, now this one could go on forever! I love Gayle Wilson, Dana Marton, Kerry Connor, Julie Miller—okay, just list all the Intrigue authors, because they're just so good. Single title faves include Allison Brennan, Brenda Novak and, believe it or not, Dean Koontz. (Just read his book Whispers and tell me that's not a compelling romantic suspense book).

4. Name a favorite romantic suspense "hook"

By hook, I mean set-up. Storyline. Element of the story that draws you in. Some of my favorite romantic suspense hooks include heroine with a tragic past, wounded hero, on the run (LOVE on the run), hero and heroine on opposite sides, cop heroes, cop heroines, high-octane thrillers that include global danger, military heroes...okay, really, I like almost any romantic suspense hook, but those are some of my favorites.

5. Name a favorite romantic suspense hero

Well, Remy McSwain from The Big Easy is a good start. He's actually a very bad boy, a cop who's on the take because his father was on the take before him, and everyone else he knows, loves and respects on the police force is just as corrupt. That's how it works in New Orleans, you see. But when a tough yet vulnerable lady D.A. gets sucked into his world during the investigation of a drug lord's murder, she makes him realize that corruption isn't just a harmless thing that everyone does—it has dangerous consequences for himself and the people he loves.

Another favorite romantic hero is yummy Cade Palmer in Dana Marton's book Tall, Dark and Lethal. He's sexy, focused and oh-so-capable, but I love the way the heroine, Bailey, gets under his skin and shows him a different side of himself. Can't speak highly enough of this Intrigue from 2008. Find a copy and then buy everything else you can find of Dana Marton's books.

6. Name a favorite romantic suspense heroine

Yeah, okay, she's a TV show character, but I love Kate Beckett on Castle. She's a stunningly beautiful woman who knows she's beautiful, which could be offputting. But she's also a little on the geeky side, awkward in her own skin at times, and a fascinating study in contradictions, a smart, capable and gutsy police detective who's also vulnerable and guarded with her somewhat fragile heart. I love a heroine who's both tough and vulnerable, and Kate Beckett is all that and more.

So, what about y'all? Want to take a stab at these questions? Don't forget there could be a giftcard in it for you!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's Official: I'm on Contract Again!

I teased this information a little bit on Facebook, but now it's for real: I'm under contract with Harlequin again, and boy is this one a doozy!

Six books, in a brand spanking (only, not really) new series. Tentatively called Cooper Security, the series revolved around three brothers and three sisters—cousins of the Cooper Justice clan of Coopers—who run a high-octane security agency. The first story, which is nearly written, features Rick Cooper, whom you'll meet near the end of my June 2011 book, Cooper Vengeance.

Rick used to work for MacLear, the disgraced security company that caused a whole boatload of trouble for Luke and Abby in 2010's One Tough Marine. Though Rick worked for the legitimate side of the company, he's found it hard to outrun the taint of MacLear. Now working at Cooper Security for his older brother Jesse, with whom Rick has a contentious relationship, Rick heads north to Tennessee on what he thinks will be a pretty average initial meeting with a client. But it turns into an explosive encounter with the woman he lost—but never forgot—and a life-or-death race for their lives.

Each of the Cooper cousins will have a story of his or her own. Here's the current schedule for their releases—all these titles are working titles and will probably change:

March 2012 - Ricochet Reunion (Rick Cooper)
April 2012 - Undercover Seduction (Isabel Cooper)
May 2012 - Cooper Conspiracy (Megan Cooper)
August 2012 - Nightshade Island (Shannon Cooper)
September 2012 - Cooper Under Siege (Wade Cooper)
October 2012 - Cooper Ransom (Jesse Cooper)

Yes, that's six books in one year. Which, I'm pretty sure, qualifies me as a masochist.

I also have an iron in the fire for a seventh book in 2012—a novella in a Christmas anthology set in Texas. I'll tell you more about that when it's under contract as well. (It's looking very good).

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Oh, look, a new Cooper!

And, wonder of wonders, they remembered that Gabe was Jake's twin. And I'll forgive him the angry scowl and the mountain in the background that totally doesn't show up in the book because technically, he is FROM Gossamer Ridge, even if he's not currently IN Gossamer Ridge...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

If You CAN Quit, Do It...

I hang out at the eHarlequin Submission Care forum a lot, even though I've been published for five years now. I spent a lot of time there before I sold, talking to people who were in the same boat I was, and I like to post there still, sharing what I've learned since selling and encouraging writers who've hit a rough patch.

But there's something I always say when someone gets discouraged and starts talking about quitting altogether.

I say, "If you can quit, do it."

Sounds like the very opposite of encouragement, doesn't it? But I consider it a pep talk.

If you can quit, then you're not a writer anyway, and you might as well just stop and go find what you love to do and give it your passion and your attention. Writing is a hard business. It can be a cruel business. If you're trying to do it and you're just not meant to do it, then it can be a crushing business.

It takes passion, determination, guts, confidence and discipline to be a successful writer. It takes a tough hide, a tender heart and an open mind, which can be hard to cultivate simultaneously. Some people just aren't cut out for it, and to continue beating your head against a wall that you're never going to knock down—that you were never meant to knock down—is a waste of time, talent and passion.

So if you can really put down the pen, cover the typewriter or shut off the computer, for goodness sake, do it! You're not meant to be a writer, and you're wasting time that you should be devoting to the things you are meant to do. Go find your passion and live a rich, fulfilled life.

But if you can't walk away, then realize you're in this for the long haul, and if you're having trouble breaking through, it's time to get serious about what you're doing wrong. It's time to catalog what you're doing right. It's time to examine your motives for writing—maybe your writing efforts are focused in the wrong direction. It's time to examine your attitudes toward criticism—are you taking other people's suggestions to heart? Are you taking them too much to heart? Have you found your voice?

I think every writer, even a successful published one, needs to stop once in a while and take stock of what you're doing. Sometimes you can get in a writing rut even when you're selling. Maybe you should try something new, just so you don't get hidebound. Or maybe you should push yourself to increase your output so that you can get your name out there more.

If you're an unpublished writer who's been trying to break in to the same line or publishing company for a long time, without success, examine your options. Maybe your voice is all wrong for the line you're targeting. Maybe you should consider trying a different line, even if it takes you a little out of your comfort zone.

For me, I was targeting Silhouette Intimate Moments (the line which will be known as Harlequin Romantic Suspense a little later this year). I spent several years trying to break in there, with no success. Even the book I finally sold, Forbidden Territory, was written with Silhouette Intimate Moments in mind. Fortunately, I lucked into an Intrigue editor who recognized that I had an Intrigue voice. In her first revision letter to me after she purchased my book, she showed me what it took to write for Intrigue, and in the process of fulfilling those expectations, I realized that I could write Intrigues, which I'd avoided out of fear that I couldn't come up with the complex plots the line requires.

So, if you can quit writing, do it. But if you can't, then shake things up a little and see if you can find a new way to approach your desire for publication.