Monthly Archives: July 2013

What Readers Want

Barbara Vey -- July 31st, 2013

heart

I’m often asked what readers want.  When I question them I get, “A good book,” “Great characters I can identify with,” “Consistency in the story,” “A great escape,” “Authors to be nice when they meet me or at the very least polite.”  This last one really gets me because it seem like such a common sense kind of thing.  Just be nice.

But the other thing readers want is to meet authors.  They absolutely go gaga over it.  When I started my Reader Appreciation Luncheon a few years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I thought people would be interested, but would they be willing to spend money to have lunch with authors?

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The biggest surprise was in the emails I received from readers before the event.  “What do I wear to meet an author?”  “Can I talk to the author?”  “Will the author sign my book?”  Again, these things seem like common sense to me, but I have to remember I’ve been around it a while.  It’s brand spanking new to many of these readers.  We just don’t get a ton of authors visiting Milwaukee, especially all at one time.

My next luncheon isn’t until April 26, 2014, but I kept getting emails asking when tickets will go on sale.  Well, the website went live at midnight.  Since that time Debbie Macomber, Darynda Jones and Dianna Love’s tables have sold out.  There’s only one seat left to sit with Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  But there are over 40 other authors to choose from including Sylvia Day, Eileen Dreyer, Eloisa James, Gena Showalter, Elizabeth Hoyt, Sharon Sala and so many others you’ll just have to check the website.

The other assumption I had was that readers would only come from Milwaukee.  Wrong.  They come from almost every state, including Alaska.  Lots from Canada and I’ve even had readers from the UK and Australia.  What this tells me is that readers are willing to travel great distances for the chance to get up close and personal with their favorite authors.

I also had to remember that not everyone is online.  So I’ll travel to libraries, senior centers, food stores and anywhere they’ll let me put out the fliers.  I don’t want any reader left out.

In November I’ll be attending the Southern Magic Luncheon and in June the Heart of Dixie Luncheon.  These events were my inspiration and only prove that readers are thirsty for this kind of get together.

Do you have an event like this in your area?  Would you attend an author luncheon?  Who would you choose to sit with (can be any author, anywhere)?

Bottom Line:  “It’s all about the readers.”  I think I’ll stitch that in a pillow…well, maybe not me stitching, but I’ll have someone else do it.

 

Read a Romance Month

Barbara Vey -- July 29th, 2013

read

Ok, for me it’s usually read a romance daily, but Read a Romance Month is the brainchild of Bobbi Dumas.  Her Twitter accounts describes her as “Reader, Writer, Reviewer, Romance Advocate, NPR Contributor; Founder ~ Read-A-Romance Month.”

According to Bobbi, “Romance matters.  Romance novels amuse, entertain and allow us to escape into worlds of passion, intrigue, fantasy and Happily Ever Afters. They touch us, make us laugh and cry, and sometimes remind us that we are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for.  Yes, most romance readers like to imagine a gorgeous hero, but it’s never the hero’s good looks that win the girl or save the day.  It’s always the honor, courage or {insert quality here} of his emerging Best Self that succeeds.  Gone are the hand-wringing heroines who sit by and let life happen to them, grateful for the crumb of attention from the rich, handsome man who will save her.  Ladies in modern romance novels are taking their lives into their own hands, solving problems with resolve and wit. (Yes, occasionally you may see the shadow of that old story arc, but you can bet that even if the hero is swooping in to save his lady financially, she’ll be doing more than her part when she saves him psychologically or emotionally.)

At the end of the day, most romance novels represent the highest human aspirations -  they contain men and women fighting for their best possible lives, against difficult odds and with the universal demand that they CHANGE.  For the better.

Romance matters. In life and in books.

There are some great romances out there.  Beautifully written, with pitch perfect characterization and brilliant plots.

These books change lives.  They matter.

For the entire month of August, 93 authors will share why romance matters.  Readers are encouraged to join in the conversations and, as romance seems to do best, there will be prizes.  Yes, publishers and others have stepped up to offer books, e-readers and an iPad Mini.

Bobbi

Bottom Line:  Yes, that’s me on Day 13 with Jane Porter and Robyn Carr…no pressure.

Death By Chocolate at RWA

Barbara Vey -- July 26th, 2013

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With so much going on, you do have to make the tough choices at RWA.  Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t attend the Death by Chocolate party at RWA, but lucky for you Nancy Naigle did and is the Cub Reporter today.  Author Nancy Naigle (Wedding Cakes and Big Mistakes), lives on a 76 acre goat farm where she juggles a career as an Senior Vice President with a major financial institution with her love for writing. She spends every spare moment working on her next book in hope that her readers will find a little life balance in the pages of her stories, and fall in love with the characters and towns as much as she has.

KODB

 

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Hey y’all! Nancy Naigle here, back after a fun week in Hot-Lanta for the annual RWA Conference and excited to share some of the fun with you. I’m bringing you the update from one of my favorite parts of the week. The DEATH BY CHOCOLATE Party. Yeah! Seriously!

Each year the RWA Mystery/Romantic Suspense Chapter, also referred to as Kiss of Death, throws a bash that tempts the taste buds and brings the best in our genre to the forefront in the Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense Ceremony.

 

Look at this spread!
chocolate

Chocolate fondue for fruit and angel food cake, parfaits, an assortment of delectable cakes and concoctions and I think my favorite was the German chocolate…no wait, the chocolate cheesecake….no, maybe the fudgy fondue that was so amazing I wish I could have stolen the whole copper pot! I totally fell off the diet, but it was so worth it.

As we noshed on the yummies and chatted with old chapter sisters and made new friends it was fun to look around the room at all of the amazing books that our chapter has published over the past year. There were about six bulletin boards full of covers.  <insert book cover photo>

We had some giveaways, too! Cool Kiss of Death chapter tote bags filled with I swear 40lbs of stuff. Books, champagne, chocolate and more!!

swag.bag

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Then, it was time. The Award Ceremony for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense for Unpublished and then the Published authors.

UNPUBLISHED

Category/Series::                                           Susan Spaulding, Shielded Hearts

Historical::                                                       Deborah Uchida, In A Sea Of Change

Inspirational::                                                  Bethany Mcmanus, Raw Nerves

Paranormal/Time Travel/Fantasy::             Tina Gower, Identity

Single Title::                                                     Sharon Wray, Rogue’s Escape

Mainstream::                                                   Mary Ann Corrigan, The Art of Deceit

OVERALL DAPHNE Unpublished::                Sharon Wray

 

Joanna Campbell Slan

Joanna Campbell Slan

PUBLISHED 

 

Category/Series::                                           B.J. Daniels, Justice at Cardwell Ranch, Harlequin Intrigue

Historical::                                                       Joanna Campbell Slan, Death  of a Schoolgirl, Berkley Trade

Inspirational::                                                  Elizabeth Camden, Against the Tide, Bethany House

Paranormal/Time Travel/Fantasy::             Christa McHugh, A Soul For Trouble, Self-Published

Single Title::                                                     Cindy Gerard, Last Man Standing, Pocket Star

Mainstream::                                                   Sandy Parks, Repossessed

OVERALL DAPHNE Published::                                    B.J. Daniels

Congratulations to all the finalists for making this genre sparkle!  You can see the complete list of finalists here.

Hope to see all of you there next year in San Antonio.

Bottom Line:  “Women want love to be a novel, men a short story.” ~ Daphne du Maurier

Self-Publishing Packs ‘Em In At RWA

Barbara Vey -- July 24th, 2013

publish

At RWA in Atlanta, one of the hottest author tracts to follow was the Self-Publishing Tract.  This group of workshops, geared to authors thinking of publishing on their own, was standing room only.  Interest came from authors in all stages of their careers. 

This is feedback from several authors (both traditional and Indie published). The tract was developed by #1 NYT bestseller Barbara Freethy and loaded with top speakers.

Thoughts from New York Times bestseller Dianna Love:
honeymoon
As a hybrid author (I’m published by a New York publisher and I’ve self-published a new book series), I am always looking for ways to improve my craft and my business.  During this conference, I learned things from highly successful Indie authors in this tract that I can actually use for both my traditional publishing and my Indie published books. That’s due to the outstanding line up of speakers for this tract who shared their learning curve and insights.  In the packed standing-room-only room for #1 NYT bestseller Barbara Freethy and NYT bestselling phenom Bella Andre’s Top 10 Tips for Self-Publishing E-books workshop not a word was uttered until someone asked a question.  No one wanted to miss any information shared by the two dynamic speakers who were beyond generous with their knowledge and self-publishing experience.  There is too much information to share here, but rule #1 is “write, write, and write some more.” If content is king in developing a publishing strategy then a connected series is queen, and quality is the foundation for that empire.   One repeated mantra is that Self Publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Putting out one novella to “test” the SP market is like tossing a baited hook in one corner of a massive lake and assuming you’re going to land on the mother lode of fish the first time.   (I highly recommend getting this year’s conference recordings.)

During the Beyond the Basics in Self-Publishing: Audio, Foreign Translations, POD, and More workshop, bestselling authors Bella Andre and Tina Folsom shared what they did right and mistakes they’d made (sometimes very expensive) in their drive to expand their audiences with audio and translations.  Even though Tina’s native language is German and she has resources (friends and family in Germany) who can beta read or listen to her books, she still had to battle to end up with a top notch translation, but it can be done.  Bella explained how it’s important to do more than have the audio talent you choose to read a scene of your book, especially if you have more than one POV (point of view) and your books include sex.  She suggested that the final audition include a read of the male POV, female POV and a sex scene, because you may be surprised at how different these can sound even with an excellent reader.   Additionally, there were presentations by Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and Smashwords.  If I had to sum up all these workshops and chats in one sentence I’d say it was the most engaging, energetic and entertaining (at times) tract I’ve ever attended at RWA.

*Dianna’s latest Indie book is HONEYMOON TO DIE FOR and her next traditional release is RISE OF THE GRYPHON.

Thoughts from USA Today bestseller Adrienne Giordano:opposing_forces-190x300

As an author emerging from my sophomore year of being published, I’m in learning mode as it pertains to the business side of publishing. Whether you’re a traditionally published or indie published author, the self-publishing workshops at RWA (particularly ones given by authors) were outstanding this year.  In the Metadata, Keywords and Back Matter workshop given by Courtney Milan, she stressed the importance of information that comes after the book’s end (back matter).  She suggested looking for indie pubbed authors who are performing well and studying how they’ve handled their back matter (buy links, newsletter sign-up information, Twitter and Facebook links, etc.).

Courtney also discussed the importance of front matter (everything that comes before chapter one). She mentioned that with print books people browse through the review quotes in the front of the book to help them decide whether or not they will purchase the book. With digital books, people may have already purchased the book so the review quotes don’t necessarily need to be in the front. Eliminating the review quotes in the front will get the reader to the start of the book much sooner.

During Self-Publishing for the Professional Author, featuring Julia Coblentz (Barnes and Noble), Mark Coker (Smashwords), Jon Fine (Amazon), and Mark Lefebvre (Kobo), the panelists briefly discussed price points. Mark Coker referenced a Smashwords study that indicated more books will sell at a price point of $2.99 and $3.99 rather than $1.99. With all the talk about price points, I found this bit of information helpful. I think RWA’s self-publishing tract this year was filled with useful information that will help me with both my traditionally published books and my indie published books.

*Adrienne hit the USA Today list with her Indie publication and her latest traditional book release is OPPOSING FORCES.

Thoughts from Amazon bestseller Nancy Naigle:wedding

Here’s a little bit from my experience with the self-publishing track. I was not expecting to see such a strong self-publishing track at RWA, but it sure was a nice addition. I even overheard people saying that the workshops were more beneficial for their career than meeting with an editor or agent. That’s saying something! The track included information on everything from personal experiences to release schedules.

One of the last two sessions I attended on Saturday afternoon was THE NEW HYBRID AUTHOR with Steena Holmes, Lauren Hawkeye Jameson, and Deidre Knight. No different than our financial portfolios…keeping your investment spread across a diverse set of options always makes for a stronger platform. These gals have been there and done that with traditional and self-publishing and I left feeling good about the prospects for those of us choosing that path to own the flexibility of our cash flow and growing our readership with the different formats.

The last session I attended was a PAN (Published Author Network) session that wasn’t listed as a self-publishing one, but sure applied. GIVING TO GET: Creating Free Digital Content to Promote Your Print Book. The interesting thing about this panel was that with traditional publishers we don’t always have the ability to leverage free content or special sales to drive sales. Authors Victoria Alexander, Donna Kauffman and Sally Mackenzie shared some of the innovative ideas they’ve tried from baking cakes and engaging readers with recipes, capsule summaries of your books, and character interviews. Video seems to be an increasingly popular addition to social media as a way to reach readers.

*Nancy’s latest Indie book is OUT OF FOCUS and her current traditional release is WEDDING CAKE AND BIG MISTAKES.  

Thoughts from historical romance author Tracey Devlyn:Checkmate-My-Lord-Cover-Draft-Mar-2012b-1-182x300

A year ago, indie publishing was not even on my radar. I knew myself well enough to know that I needed a team to publish my books. Working a full-time day job didn’t leave enough hours in the day to write and manage all the rest. Well, the last few months have opened my eyes to just how accessible Indie publishing really is for authors now. I went to this year’s RWA conference with the mindset to learn everything I could about the other side of publishing. The new SP tract did not disappoint.

In the From Ground Zero to Best-selling Author in Two Years: the Indie Revolution workshop by New York Times bestselling author Liliana Hart, I learned Indie pubbed authors should kickstart their careers with five different products (short stories, novellas, novels, serials, box sets) + one in the hole. Publish your five items one month and then publish your “one in the hole” the following month. This strategy helps boost your rankings with vendors on 30-day cycles. Once you’ve jumpstarted your career, keep publishing product as often as possible. Ms. Hart strongly recommended to price your stories with a mindset of making a living and to remember that what we do has value. She said an author isn’t going to live off $.99 or $1.99 books. Use lower prices as a marketing tool only. Readers will buy books in the $4.99-$5.99 range.

Other words of wisdom:
Authors need social media to succeed. Some sites she suggested are: Twitter, Facebook, Kindleboards, Goodreads, Shelfari, Wattpad, Triberr, Amazon Author Central (complete as much as possible—for every country!), and Pinterest.
Newsletters — author’s best friend
Blogging — kinda over
Street Teams – her biggest sellers (super fans)
Best Paid Ads – Pixel of Ink, eReader News Today, BookBub

Everything Liliana Hart discussed in her workshop can be found in The Naked Truth About Self-Publishing .

Audio publication was a big topic in the Beyond the Basics in Self-Publishing: Audio, Foreign Translations, POD, and More by New York Times bestsellers Bella Andre and Tina Folsom. Ms. Andre believes audio books are the fastest growing segment in the business.

Audio books – very lucrative part of Ms. Andre’s business; finding the right narrator is key and the hardest part; make sure the sex scenes aren’t read in a super creepy way; audio book covers are designed separately because of their square shape; average cost is $250-350 per finished hours — most novels are 7-9 hours
Translation – German, French and Brazilian Portuguese are the biggest romance sellers.

In Courtney Milan’s Metadata, Keywords and Back Matter workshop, she recommended that indie pubbed authors use http://bookshow.me for Amazon worldwide redirect. Adding your book’s ASIN number to the back of the URL (http://bookshow.me/ASIN) will redirect readers to the appropriate Amazon website (UK, Canada, etc.) for their particular country. Use this feature on your website anywhere you have “Buy” links.

Kboards.com – where Ms. Milan learns a lot of her new and progressive approaches to Indie publishing
Book description – focus on adding “keywords” to your book’s description to help with Amazon searches
Using Bitly to shorten URLs – helps authors keep track of what social media and posts are attracting readers. Customize your Bitly URLs for each social media venue.

*Tracey is co-founder of the Lady Jane’s Salon in Naperville, IL (a division of the New York LJS) and her latest traditional release is the highly acclaimed CHECKMATE, MY LORD.

Bottom Line:  “I don’t believe there has ever been a better time to be a writer.” ~ Barbara Freethy

RWA Conference in Atlanta

Barbara Vey -- July 22nd, 2013
Close encounter of the best kind. Reader, Lynda, meeting 2 of her favorite authors Jill Shalvis and Kristin Higgins

Close encounter of the best kind. Reader, Lynda, meeting 2 of her favorite authors Jill Shalvis and Kristan Higgins

The RWA Conference in Atlanta was extremely successful according to those attending (and I totally agree).  From veterans to newbies, there was something for everyone.  I love watching the first timers when they come face to face with authors they’ve been reading and enjoying for years.  It’s something like shock, admiration, and that ultimate, “I can’t believe this is happening” moment.  One new author was sitting next to a New York Times bestselling author and chatting with her for quite a while before she realized who she was talking to.  Once the lightbulb came on, she was horrified that she didn’t recognize her immediately and then embarrassed, but ultimately the NYT author put her at ease and they all had a good laugh over it.  Really, how it anyone expected to know what every author looks like?  Thank goodness for name badges.

 

Many special interest groups of RWA get together during the conference and the Beau Monde group sent me a write up of their event.  According to Kristen Koster, “This past Wednesday, the Beau Monde chapter of the Romance Writers of America gathered for their annual mini conference in Atlanta. Eileen Dreyer opened the day with an entertaining speech. Morning workshops included such topics as A Hero’s Military History: Beyond Trafalgar and Waterloo, The Grand Tour, Doctor’s & Quacks in the Regency, and a panel on Historical Accuracy.

Katherine Ashe gave an inspiration lunchtime keynote before attendees enjoyed more workshops on The Regency Underworld and a tour through the thieves rookeries of London, a presentation on a young ladies repertoire in music, the Cultural Melting pot of Georgian England and a hands on workshop to learn how to play whist.

It was a full day indeed with high tea served in the afternoon, but that evening the ladies gathered for a soiree that included period dress, traditional English dances.”

Anne Barton, Valerie Bowman, Erin Knightly, Ashlyn Macnamara, and Sara Ramsey

Joysann reported on a well attended workshop. Living the Dream: How to Survive Your First Book Deal. These authors debuted in the last year or so, and they discovered how much more to authoring there is than writing a book. They made note of several things, and gave advice about others. One observation: That second book you’re writing now that the first is on its way? Plan on it taking several months longer to complete than the first did, what with edits on the first, working publicity on social media, blogs, and book signings, and the many things you didn’t have to contend with while writing the first. Sounds like a fair warning.

Even the elevators became part of the conference

I know I’m letting you know about things out of order, but there will be more coming throughout this week.  I definitely wanted to get in the names (and faces) of the Rita and Golden Heart winners today because they were shining stars at the RWA.

1rita

 

 

2rita3rita4rita5rita6rita8rita10rita

Bottom Line:  Congratulations to all the nominees, you are all worthy.

Romance Writers of America

Barbara Vey -- July 19th, 2013

I’m here at one of the largest conferences I go to.  Believe me, it is every romance reader’s dream come true to attend this event.  All the authors you love in one spot, especially at the Literacy Signing.  But, don’t let me get ahead of myself.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but use your imagination. Barbara Vey, Sarah Wendell, Sarah and Gwen Reyes

Wednesday I was honored to be asked to attend the Women’s Fiction Writers Conference as a panelist along with Sarah and Gwen Reyes of Fresh Fiction and Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.  We discussed what the readers want and expect of writers.  Obviously, this is a subject close to my heart.  We talked about mutual respect, connecting with the readers and developing relationships.  Some points brought up were while attending reader events, hang with the readers and not just with other authors.  Remember that to readers, authors are like rock stars.

The biggest event of the day is the Literacy Booksigning with all proceeds going to charity.  Hundreds of authors gather and room is huge.  But once the doors are opened and the long lines of readers (some who have been waiting hours come in), it is a cheerful chaos.

One way to get the reader’s attention

Linda Howard

Sarah Wendell asked readers questions about romance and will turn it into a video. I’m stealing this idea!

The Lee girls, Jade and Katy.

These tired readers told me they already owned all the books they bought, but wanted signed copies. Good for them!

Bottom Line:  Check back tomorrow for more updates.

WW Ladies Book Club

Barbara Vey -- July 17th, 2013

Travel Trip Atlanta Peachtree

I have arrived in Hot-Lanta for the Romance Writers of America Conference.  It’s in the same hotel that they have DragonCon, so I kind of know my way around.  It’s a huge place and along with the thousands of RWA members, there is also a Microsoft Conference and these guys look lost among so many women.  I’ve been inviting them all to the Literacy Booksigning tomorrow from 5:30-7:30.  There will be hundreds of authors signing, so if you live in the area, stop by.  Now, on to what the WW Ladies have been reading.

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joysann

joysann

A Shot of Sultry by Macy Beckett

Read by joysann

Bobbi Gallagher’s days as a TV producer in LA are shot unless she makes this reality show work: real life hot sexy country boys looking for love. She uses visiting her brother as an excuse to infiltrate Sultry Springs, Texas, but she didn’t expect to find his best friend to be the hottest man in town or to fall for him herself. Trey Lewis promised his buddy that he wouldn’t meddle with his baby sister, but some promises are so hard to keep.

I’m still laughing! Macy Beckett’s use of colorful and creative metaphors and humorous prose is only part of the touching, tickling romance that made this story so beguiling. When I read the first book, Sultry with a Twist, I knew this second one was going to charm me as well. Surrender to Sultry will be coming out any minute, and I know I’ll find that romance as sweet and entertaining.

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Joan

Joan

A Thousand Bones by P.J. Parrish

Read by Joan

As a rookie cop in Echo Bay, Michigan, Joe Frye was also the first female in the sheriff’s department. Two boys discover some bones in the woods, and what starts out as a few bones and a girl’s cross turns into more graves than Joe’s department can handle. While local law enforcement seeks help from the state police, Joe’s investigation brings her to the attention of the killer.

This story kept me intrigued as I observed what Joe had to go through, not only as a female cop in a man’s world in 1975, but all the leads that must be followed to solve a crime. The clues did not just fall in place as in some stories. Also I find it interesting that P.J. Parrish is the pseudonym for two sisters, Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols, who have written many books together. I found this book to be highly captivating and intense, just the way I like them.

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Tammy

Tammy

Damaged and Damaged 2 by H.M. Ward

Read by Tammy

The main characters, Sidney and Peter, seem to be destined to be together, but they each have a past that is holding them back. And it’s these secrets that neither is wanting to reveal. But one can feel the passion and chemistry between the two of them, if they can just trust each other enough to give what the other needs. Unfortunately, that haunted past keeps rearing its ugly head.

Both books were quick reads because I couldn’t put either down. I could sympathize with the characters and needed to find out if closure was going to happen for either of the them. The books are mainly romance, but also hit upon a bit of suspense and humor. The author put a great twist at the end of Book One, so be prepared to definitely read Book Two. Two thumbs up for these terrific New Adult books!

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joysann

joysann

Heart of Iron by Bec McMaster

Read by joysann

Though she chose to leave her siblings and the dark, perilous underside of London for the bright and pleasure-filled world of the blue-bloods, Lena Todd is finding the vampire aristocracy even more treacherous and cruel. She had longed for this sophisticated life, but her decision was largely determined by her need to avoid her growing concern and affection for the taciturn and enigmatic Will Carver, a powerful and dangerous werewulfen known as The Beast. But she’s endangered by her secret alliance with an underground movement, and Will is the first to support her and come to her aid.

Bec McMaster is writing a fascinating, inventive steampunk series. I’ve been very intrigued by this and the first book in the series, as well as the e-novella that falls between them. The characters are likable and sympathetic, and I want to see where their stories go. Visually descriptive, I can almost “see” the world created here.

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Heidi

Heidi

A Very Exclusive Engagement by Andrea LaurenceAVEE_small

Read by Heidi

Liam Crowe wants to get through the latest boardroom meeting on the plans he has of new ownership of the network he took over, even with the daggers shooting from Francesca Orr’s beautiful eyes through the meeting. As they become stuck in an elevator after the meeting, the sparks soon fly. They both want to keep what happened in the elevator to themselves, but now Liam must ask Francesca for help again, as his fiancée.

The chemistry between Liam and Francesca started in chapter 1, and got hotter throughout the book. I got a kick of how much Francesca struggled with being a fake fiancee and trying to cover true feelings. This book was definitely more steamy than a hot summer night!!

 

joysann

joysann

c37200The Zillionaire Vampire Cowboy’s Secret Werewolf Babies by The Nine Naughty Novelists

Read by joysann

When wealthy vampire ranch owner Rock Fangsworthy resolves to buy out the local winery, he discovers the beautiful lost love of his life has returned to Bloodsuck, Texas, to run the old family vineyard. Buffi Van Pelt did not come alone, but has two of the cutest babies that Rock has ever seen. Buffi’s dilemma is whether to spill the beans about the pups’ paternity after all this time.

The title alone was worth the 99 cents I spent on this parody, and the accompanying warning was a bonus. Every wonderfully awful paranormal romance cliché and pun is used somewhere in these chapters, and it cracked me up. I know these authors had a wonderful time working together to write this delightfully silly thing: Juniper Bell, Meg Benjamin, Kate Davies, PG Forte, Kinsey W Holley, Kelly Jamieson, Skylar Kade, Erin Nicholas and Sydney Somers.

Bottom Line:  Did you know…There are more than 65 streets with the word Peachtree in Atlanta.

ThrillerFest 2013

Barbara Vey -- July 16th, 2013
Sheila Clover English

Sheila Clover English

Sheila Clover English attended Thrillerfest in New York and is our Cub Reporter today.  She is an author and CEO of Circle of Seven Productions.

This year ThrillerFest was packed with authors on every level of the career ladder you can imagine, and even some readers. As a matter of fact this year they had something called FanFest where authors could invite their readers to come hang out with them!  It was a huge success and I’m hoping they do it again next year.

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Anne Rice

Anne Rice

Anne Rice is the 2013 ThrillerMaster and giving her that award was R.L. Stine who is an amazing speaker.  As Ms. Rice was speaking she noted how touching it was to see these top selling authors working so hard to help new authors and how impressed she is with the way everyone supports each other.  She said she’d always wanted to feel accepted by her peers and that the award was one of the highlights of her career. As she said it, her voice cracked and I was surprised at the emotion there, the sincerity. She is an amazing author and an amazing person.  She said she plans on coming next year too!

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R.L. Stine and Sheila English

R.L. Stine and Sheila English

Highlights for me included a talk given by Steve Berry about POV that was truly some of the best craft advice I’ve ever gotten.  Another great workshop was with Alexandra Sokoloff who talked about the rhythm of writing and Gayle Lynds who talked about how to create great characters.  Oh! And I got great advice from John Sandford’s panel on techniques and ideas to burnish your text!

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Brad Meltzer and daughter

Brad Meltzer and daughter

I walked around the room at parties, still feeling that sense of awe that I am surrounded by so many talented authors, even though I’ve attended ThrillerFest for many years.  It never gets old.  I turn around and there’s Brad Meltzer walking by, smiling, then

Heather Graham comes up and give me a hug, Allison Brennan asks me how I’m doing. Joseph Finder (who I call “Gentleman Joe” because of an experience I had with him during an RT event. Great guy!!) signed the book I had secretly carried with me during the entire event waiting to run into him and he even wrote “So good to see you again” and I was so fan girly I am hoping I didn’t  totally embarrass myself.  Probably did. But, Joe’s too nice to tell anyone.

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Before the awards were given out they gave a moment of silence to Vince Flynn who, sadly, passed away this year. Looking at his picture I was stuck by how young he was.  I met him once years ago and will always remember that.

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Thrillerfest Award Winners
BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL-Brian Freeman – SPILLED BLOOD (SilverOak)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL-Sean Doolittle – LAKE COUNTRY (Bantam)
BEST FIRST NOVEL-Matthew Quirk – THE 500 (Reagan Arthur Books)
BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL-CJ Lyons – BLIND FAITH (Minotaur Books)
BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL-Dan Krokos – FALSE MEMORY (Hyperion Books CH)
BEST SHORT STORY-John Rector – “Lost Things” (Thomas & Mercer)

Bottom Line:  By the time you read this I’ll be in Atlanta at RWA, say hi if you see me!

Outlander to Premiere on Starz: Who Would You Cast?

Barbara Vey -- July 11th, 2013

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Diana Gabaldon’s extremely popular Outlander series is set to have16 episodes on Starz in 2014.  Filming will begin in September in Scotland.  I want to go and report on it live.  Since that probably won’t happen, I’m as excited as any fan of the series to see who will be cast as Jamie and Claire.

How popular is this series?  In every survey I’ve ever seen, Jamie and Claire have been in the top 5 most romantic couples.  While Diana readily admits it’s not a “romance” in the definition of the genre, the romance of Claire and Jamie is undeniable.  Since the series is ongoing, not every book ends “Happily ever after” but knowing there’s another book coming does soften the blow.

 

The biggest problem in going from book to movie (other than the screenplay) is casting the right actors for the parts.  This has proven disastrous in some movies.  One For the Money by Janet Evanovich made a definite wrong turn with Katherine Heigl as Stephanie Plum.  Everyone knows Stephanie is a train wreck and Heigl couldn’t pull it off.  She’s just too prissy for me.  Now I know everyone had trouble with Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher.  He was a little height challenged for the part.  Personally, I liked the movie as a movie, but Tom Cruise was not Jack Reacher to me.  The same was true of Mercury Rising.  The boy was supposed to be 14, but the actor was much younger.  And Melanie Griffith in Shining Through was wrong on so many levels.

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samoutlander

Sam Heughan

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It has been officially announced that Sam Heughan ( a real life Scot) has been cast as Jamie Fraser.  While he may not be known to many Americans, Diana Gabaldon has said, “Oh. My. God. That man is a Scot to the bone and Jamie Fraser to the heart. Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters.”  Sounds good to me, but I wouldn’t have minded seeing Chris Hemsworth in another movie.

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Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson

Claire is still unknown.  Remember, in the first book Jamie is 22 and Claire, 28.  I think Scarlett Johansson could carry it off.  I also like Rachel Weize and Amy Adams even though they are a little old for the part.  Preferably an unknown British actress might be best.

I just want it to be a good movie.  One that I’ll want to watch more than once.  I always try to keep an open mind because I’ve learned that I am not an expert at casting, but I know what I like in movies and when they represent a beloved book, they better hit the nail on the head.

Who do you like for the parts?  Does it matter to you?

Bottom Line:  Today is Free Slurppee Day at 7-Elevens!

 

Historicals Have it All

Barbara Vey -- July 9th, 2013

I do love my historicals.  There’s just something magical about the Regency period that lets me close my eyes and see the crush of the balls, the magnificent dresses, the allure of the titled few who’s lives aren’t as idyllic as they pretend to be.  So, yes, lately I’ve been on an historical bender and loving itl

First up is What the Bride Wore by Jade Lee from her Bridal Favor Series.  Grant Benton, future Earl of Crowe, is a screw up.  He seems to be following in his father’s footsteps when a bet goes bad and he accidentally burns down a barn.  Trying to recoup his family finances he turns to trade (a no-no if you’re part of the aristocracy).  In the course of business, he comes across Lady Irene Knopp, who is a Regency type wedding planner.  His finances restored, Grant is ready to move on, but unforeseen things have happened in the years he’s been gone.  Lady Irene has her own secrets, but when danger calls, these two find themselves coming together to learn what really is important in life.

I have been hooked on this series from the beginning.  The women working to make the little bridal shop work under trying circumstances are brave and never give up all the while hiding their own secrets.  As a bonus, there is a novella about Grant’s brother, Winning a Bride.  I read them out of order, but enjoyed them just as much.  This series is high on secrets, redemption and the ultimate blazing love story.  Romantics rejoice!

 

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On a special note, while writing this series Jade Lee found herself living the bridal dream when her daughter, Sheri, announced her engagement.  Here’s a photo of Sheri in a more modern bridal shop trying on dresses.  Congratulations Sheri and Mom of the Bride, Jade!

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Next up was True Spies by Shana Galen.  Winn is a brilliant spy and has managed to keep this from his wife of 14 years, Elinor.  But Winn’s long absences have Elinor becoming lonely.  When she meets a handsome spy, Elinor has visions of adventure and excitement.  But things are never what they seem and having her husband find out wasn’t part of the plan.

This follow up to Lord and Lady Spy takes the same path.  The story runs along the lines of the movie True Lies, but set in Regency times, which makes it all the more fun.  I delighted in making the comparisons and trying to figure out how the next scenes would play out.  It’s imaginative, playful, adventurous and just plain fun, fun, fun!  Poor Shana, I’ll be hounding her to find out what is next because I know it’s a book I’ll read the day I get it.  Keep ‘em coming!

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Listening to books on my iPhone has become addictive, so I was thrilled to find one of my favorite historical series could be downloaded from the library.  If you haven’t read Amanda Quick’s Tobias March/Lavinia Lake series, you are missing a terrific story.  These characters have woven themselves into my heart and I don’t want to let them go.  I know it was a trilogy, but I long for more and listening to the stories added an extra dimension to those I already felt I knew.

The series starts with Slightly Shady where Lavinia meets Tobias in her antique shop while he’s chasing a murderer.  He’s says he’s a spy, but she’s always doubtful.  In future books, the two become reluctant partners as private inquiry agents where murder, mayhem and trying to find a romantic rendevous become everyday occurrences.  First book I’ve read where currants become a key part.  Enchanting, charming, with plenty of mystery thrown in, I know this series is on my reread list.

Bottom Line:  Moving on to some contemporary stuff where I’m sure there will still be love, romance and the occasional murder.

GiveawaysfreeStuff

From Susan Hanniford Crowley Nights of Passion Blog will be having their multi-author giveaways from July 7-14. Some of the authors are Melanie Meadors, Jeannie Moon, Tawny Weber, Susan Hanniford Crowley, Leia Shaw, Barbara Wallace, Toni Kelly, Rebecca Royce, Gerri Brousseau, Marian Lanouette, Kevin Symmons, and Misty Evans.  For details, visit Nights of Passion Blog.