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 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

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Man from Gossamer Ridge - 4 1/2 Stars from RT

RT Book Reviews gives The Man from Gossamer Ridge 4 1/2 Stars and this lovely review:

THE MAN FROM GOSSAMER RIDGE (4.5) by Paula Graves: Professor Alicia Solano’s doctoral dissertation on serial killers may have unearthed clues to the deaths of dozens of women over more than two decades. Now, one of her subjects might be studying her and she might not survive to get her degree. Though the murderer is dead, Gabe Cooper has never gotten over the guilt he bears because of his sister-in-law Brenda’s death. If the 21-year-old kid he’d been had only been on time, she might still be alive. Alicia, however, is sure the man who killed Brenda is working again, this time in the college town where Gabe’s niece lives. The Cooper clan bands together when things get dangerous, and the suspense and psychological terror has escalated to an all-time high.

The Man from Gossamer Ridge is the second book in the Cooper Justice: Cold Case Investigation series. The first book, Hitched and Hunted, comes out in bookstores in April 2011, although it's available online now at—just click through the link. And of course, both books, as well as the June book, Cooper Vengeance, are the final three books of the Cooper Justice series.

The Man from Gossamer Ridge will be available on eHarlequin on April 1st. No fooling. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Be Prepared, Redux

Back in 2005, not long after Hurricane Katrina, I made a blog post about disaster preparedness. Given the tragic events of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, this isn't a bad time to pull that piece back out and update it a little. So here you go.

Disasters, natural and man-made, are always a looming possibility. So now is as good a time as any to start preparing yourself and your family to survive a disaster.

First—you need a survivor's mindset. The core of this mindset is knowing that you are responsible for your own survival. Know that if the hurricane hits or the earthquake strikes or another terrorist attack takes place, YOU are your own first responder. For situations that you can predict, like a hurricane, get out of the way. Inconvenience versus death—I know which one I'd choose. But some disasters can't be predicted, and that's why it's important to be prepared ahead of time. The government is a large, unwieldy bureaucracy, even on the local level. And no government entity can be fully prepared for every eventuality. Nor can you expect their priorities to be your priorities. That's why it's ultimately up to you to take care of yourself and the people around you.

Expect to be on your own for at least the first five days of a disaster, and prepare for it. Stockpile non-perishable food and water in water-proof containers. If you can keep the food lightweight (foil packets instead of cans, for instance), do so. Keep a large plastic jar of peanut butter on hand--it's a great source of nutrition, isn't particularly expensive and keeps well. Buy tuna in foil packets. Buy cereal bars. Buy instant oatmeal--it can be mixed with a small amount of water to make a hearty breakfast. Have some plastic bowls and cups on hand. Plastic utensils. And plenty of bottled water—a gallon per day per person is the recommended amount.

Have a couple of changes of clothing available. Hygiene isn't your primary focus in matters like these, but as the flooding in New Orleans showed, you don't know what condition your clothes will be in when you reach safety. If you have a change of clothing where you can reach it, you're ahead of the game.

Stockpile at least five days worth of your prescription medications. Also, have a first aid kit with the basic supplies, plus extra pain reliever, anti-biotic ointment or cream, sunscreen, bug repellent and any hygiene items you may need.

Have some basic tools available—manual can opener, bottle opener, hammer, duct tape, plastic sheeting, matches or a lighter, candles, flashlights, etc. You know the drill, and if you don't, there are plenty of places to find a good working list.

Learn first aid and CPR. Keep your car in good working condition and full of gas if you can. Keep your cell phone charged up. Buy an extra charger and keep it with your disaster supplies. Be sure you have a car charger as well. Have an evacuation plan—do you have relatives or friends who can take you in? Have a plan for your pets—check with motels in the area to which you plan to evacuate to find out if they'll allow pets. Some do. Most don't. After Katrina, it seems like some of the public shelters are relaxing rules about pets. Check into what's available in your area. Or, if you evacuate ahead of time, you can find a veterinarian in the place to which you plan to evacuate who can board the animals for a few days until the crisis is over. Be sure you have enough carriers for all your animals. Stockpile some pet food along with your food in case you have to shelter in place together.

If you evacuate ahead of time, be sure to take copies of important records, such as birth certificates, social security cards, drivers' licenses, prescriptions, insurance, etc. You'll need those numbers if something happens to your home or property. Go ahead and make copies now and keep them in a zip lock bag or something similarly waterproof and easy to carry.

Everyone in the family should have a contact number to call in case you get separated. One of my contact numbers for my family is a friend who lives in New Jersey, several states away. She can act as our clearing house so we can let each other know we got out safely and where we are.

Finally, be a good neighbor. If you know that a neighbor or friend doesn't have a car, for instance, or has health problems, see if you can help your neighbor or friend get to safety while you're getting to safety yourself. Help that neighbor or friend stockpile his or her own disaster kit—pick up some extra peanut butter or an extra pouch of tuna when you go to the grocery store, an extra six-pack of bottled water.

And not to go all Mad Max on you, it's not a bad idea to be prepared to defend yourself and your neighbors from people who will try to take advantage of the crisis. I don't personally own a weapon, but I'm all for personal firearm ownership if you're responsible, careful and well-trained. A group of neighbors banding together with just a few personal weapons among them can keep a whole neighborhood safe from criminals.

I haven't covered everything you'll need for everything that might happen—it's impossible to prepare perfectly for any eventuality. But if you'll do the basics and, most importantly, if you'll maintain a survivor state of mind, you'll have a good chance of being the one still standing when the dust settles.

For more information, here are places to look:

A good disaster preparedness forum

A plethora of disaster-preparedness posts and links

I hope none of us ever have to use our disastser preparedness kits. But it doesn't hurt to be ready, just in case.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Oh, the pretty! It shines!

The cover for Cooper Vengeance is here! Aint he purty?

It's also available for pre-order on, don't forget. Don't you want him—er—one?
You know you do.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist!

Great news! One Tough Marine, my Harlequin Intrigue from August 2010, has made the finals of the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest, in the Romantic Suspense category!

This is my first contest final since becoming published. I've entered the Ritas for three years, and the Daphne's and the Gayle Wilson contest twice, but this is my first final. and since it's probably my favorite book of the Cooper Justice series so far, I'm doubly pleased.

The list of finalists should be up on the Southern Magic website in a few days. Be sure to check out the list of great writers who made the finals with me!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Finish the Darn Book Blog Series

Last month, I started a series on the Romance Magicians Blog called "Finish the Darn Book." I know that not everyone who reads this blog is also a writer, but several of you are. And what I'm planning to do over the course of this year with these blog posts is to help walk people through the process of writing a book from start to finish.

The first post of the series is here: Finish the Darn Book. The next post is here: Finish the Darn Book: Where to Start?

The first post is an overview about what obstacles can keep us from finishing that book we've been determined to write for years. The second book tackles the first problem we can face: where to start the story. It's not as easy as you may think.

So, if you're a writer, I hope you'll join me at the Romance Magicians blog today and join the fun.