A Hellion in Her Bed

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Hellion in Her Bed is my latest read. It's the second book in Sabrina Jeffries' current Regency series, The Hellions of Halstead Hall.

Hellion's  heroine has the most original occupation I've seen in historical romance in quite a while.  Annabel Lake is a brew mistress trying to save her foundering family brewery. Enter gambler Lord Jarret Sharpe, who has agreed to run his own more successful family brewery for a year. Annabel seeks Jarret out because she wants the two breweries to go into business together.

When he balks, she proposes a card game. If she wins, he must help save her family’s business. But if he wins, she must spend a night in his bed. Mmmhmm. Sexy set up. 

Jeffries' fun and humorous writing style continues to sparkle in this latest book. Annabel is a memorable heroine you can root for. The romance satisfies and the Sharpes continue to be an emotionally-damaged family we care about.

If you're looking for an entertaining read, check out A Hellion in Her Bed.   

Romancing the Recession

Thursday, October 28, 2010

At the recent New Jersey Romance Writers' conference, moderator Terri Brisbin asked a panel of editors about the state of romance in these challenging economic times.

According to Kensington Assistant Editor Megan Records, romance is the only genre that's growing right now.

Leah Hultenschmidt, who recently joined Sourcebooks, says she was hired specifically for the romance line because the company wants more of the genre.

As Holly Blanck of St Martin's Press sees it, romance is holding steady while young adult is expanding.

The editors say ebooks sales are growing but the industry is still grappling with how to quantify those sales, which are difficult to pinpoint. However, most seem to agree that romance sells extremely well in ebook form.

They also pointed out that ebook sales don't count towards The New York Times bestseller list.  
If my good friend and conference roomie, Angela (right) is any indication, romance is doing just fine.

Here she is in our hotel room surrounded by her loot: freebies and a good number of books she purchased at the conference's Literacy Book Fair.

Doesn't she look like a cover model?

She definitely looks happy!

UPDATE: I''ve taken the plunge and developed an author website that I actually have to pay for! I hope you'll start visiting me there; that's where I'll be blogging from now on! Come along and have a look! Click here.

What an Editor Wants

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What do the following editors have in common?

Amanda Bergeron -- Avon/Harper Collins
Holly Blanck -- St Martin's Press
Stacy Boyd -- Silhouette Desire
Lia Brown -- Avalon
Leah Hultenschmidt -- Sourcebooks
Alex Logan -- Grand Central Publishing
Evette Porter -- Kimani, Kimani Tru/Harlequin
Megan Records -- Kensington Books
Patience Smith -- Harlequin/Silhouette

They all have pet peeves about what they do and don't want to see in a query or manuscript submission. This impressive group of publishing industry professionals was on an Editors Panel at the recent New Jersey Romance Writers conference.

Kensington's Megan Records hates poor research. She wants people who submit to her to know her name and how to spell it as well as what line they are targeting. Alex Logan at Grand Central does not want to see anything longer than 80,000 to 85,000 words.

Leah Hultenschmidt of Sourcebooks gets annoyed when people send a manuscript in chapter pieces. She wants to see the entire manuscript in one document.  Avon's Amanda Bergeron says writers should remember to make their query letters professional, because they represent your writing.

They all want to know about contests wins, other manuscripts or books, and anything else that tells them that you are looking at writing as a career and not a lark. The editors prefer that you use your name as your email address and not a family email address, which makes it more difficult for them to find your submission should they go back and look for it.

Oh, and as to whether you need an agent. The editors say they always look at things sent to them by agents first. A good reason to try to land an agent, wouldn't you say?

1st Place 'Put Your Heart in a Book' Contest

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yours truly with the one and only Madeline Hunter!
What an amazing weekend!

Not only did my manuscript, Seducing Charlotte, take first place in the New Jersey Romance Writers' Put Your Heart in a Book contest, but my other Regency romance, Compromising Willa, came in second.

It was my first writer's conference and I don't think I could have picked a better one.

Of course, winning helped!

Truthfully though, the workshops were run by big names in romance and each one I attended had real value. I'll blog about what I learned in the individual workshops in the coming days.

Me with the lovely Jessica Dickstein,
who ran the NJ RWA's
2010 PYHIAB contest. 
A major highlight of the weekend was meeting one of my favorite authors, Madeline Hunter, who served as a final judge in the competition.

 After attending her workshop, I ran into Madeline in the hotel lobby the following morning. She was incredibly generous, spending a good amount of time chatting with me about my work - especially the use of conflict and the value of strong, original openings in my manuscripts.

It was also a treat to speak to her about her books.

How often does a reader get to talk directly to the author about a book? I also had a chance to do so with Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas, both of whom gave workshops at the conference.

With my DC chapter mate
Marta Bliese, who won in
 the paranormal category.
There were plenty of editors and agents there. They were not so fearsome in the flesh! The industry professionals shared their pet peeves which I'll write more about soon.

The only downside to the weekend was learning far too late that my husband had set the GPS to avoid toll roads (from a previous trip). No problem - at first - since the directions I had googled were simple enough.

That is, until we overshot the exit on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Let's just say we took a scenic drive of New Jersey back roads while trying to find our way back to the conference!

Guesting on Another Blog Today

Friday, October 22, 2010

The talented author Mia Marlowe has been kind enough to showcase the finalists of the Writing with the Stars contest on her blog.

 I'm showcased today and there's another very short excerpt from Seducing Charlotte.

Check it out! And leave a comment if you'd like.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I just finished reading Mary Jo Putney's One Perfect Rose. And I found it to be...well...just about perfect.

When Stephen Kenyon, Duke of Ashburton, finds out he is dying, he sets off on a journey to come to terms with the devastating news. He hooks up with a traveling acting troop and falls in love with Rosalind, one of the players.

Putney's sensitive portrayal of Stephen's changing emotions is particularly complex, insightful and poignant. She expertly delves into his maelstrom of emotions: the desperation, fear, anger and, finally, some acceptance. Putney's excellent characterization also heightens the bittersweetness of Stephen's relationship with Rose since both of them know time is running out.

Of course, this is a romance novel so there is a happily ever after. The twist of how this happens is both surprising and satisfying. Putney leaves clues along the way but my theory as to what was really wrong with Stephen turned out to be completely wrong!

If you're looking for a particularly satisfying romantic read, I highly recommend One Perfect Rose.

Next up for me: Mary Wine's Highland Hellcat. It's the follow up to To Conquer a Highlander, which I first picked up after Mary was assigned to be my mentor in the Writing with the Stars contest.

Writing With the Stars

 For those who don't know, I am one of 10 finalists vying for the top prize in the contest: to be published by Kensington Brava!  In the first round, readers of RT Book Reviews vote for the Best First Paragraph and Last Line.

Click here to read all of the entries.

I hope you will consider voting for my entry, Seducing Charlotte. Be warned though, it's a little spicy! And, if you want to read more,  here's a sample of the FIRST CHAPTER.

There are only four days left to cast your vote in the first round. VOTING is quick and easy. You can click in, vote and be out in under a minute

I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hope to move into the next round but I can't get there without your help!

I truly appreciate your support!

So Long Silhouette, Harlequin Gets a Facelift

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Leading romance publisher Harlequin is making some changes.

One of those moves includes phasing out its well-known Silhouette line.The series will now be called Harlequin instead.

In a letter to its authors, the publisher says the move comes at the suggestion of a leading branding company.

Silhouette Nocturne was already renamed Harlequin Nocturne in June 2010. Special Edition, Romantic Suspense and Desire will debut with their new Harlequin brand in April.

The company believes stamping the Harlequin name on the series will strengthen the brand. Makes sense to me.

The Steeple Hill logo is also riding off into the sunset. It will be replaced by Love Inspired as the primary imprint for Harlequin's inspirational fiction line.

Read more about all of the Harlequin changes HERE.

What I'm Reading...

By the way, I just finished Liz Carlyle's latest offering, One Touch of Scandal.

It's an enjoyable read although I found it to be a slight departure from her previous novels.

The hero, Ruthveyn, belongs to a secret ancient society and possesses dark gifts that he grapples with. He falls for Grace Gauthier, a governess who might be guilty of killing her employer, who was also about to become her betrothed.

Next on my reading list is a throw-back: Mary Jo Putney's One Perfect Rose, which was re-released by Kensington in April 2010.  

And don't forget...

If you haven't already, please take a moment to vote in the Writing with the Stars contest. I am one of 10 finalists vying for the top prize: to be published by Kensington Brava!  In the first round, readers of RT Book Reviews vote for the Best First Paragraph and Last Line.

Click here to read all of the entries.

I hope you will consider voting for my entry, Seducing Charlotte. Be warned though, it's a little spicy! And, if you want to read more,  here's a sample of the FIRST CHAPTER.

VOTING is quick and easy. You can click in and out in under a minute. I promise.

Mary Wine, Mentor Extraodinaire

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My mentor for the Writing with the Stars contest is the extraordinary Mary Wine.

During Round One (Best First Paragraph and Last Line) - in her gentle but tenacious way - Mary urged me tighten up my writing and axed the passive verbs which took some of the oomph out of the entry. Her insight about certain descriptions and word choices editors don't want to see in a romance novel proved invaluable.  

Mary has also been wonderfully forthcoming in sharing her hands-on knowledge of how the publishing industry works. She generously answers all of the many questions I pepper her with. Not only is her unique insight  fascinating to hear, but it will no doubt help me on my road to publication.

As soon as I found out Mary was my mentor, I ran out and brought her book, To Conquer a Highlander, which takes place in 1437 Scotland. I loved it!

The story involves Laird Torin McLeren, who hopes to prevent war by kidnapping his enemy's daughter, Shannon. Of course, they fall in love and the historical tidbits sprinkled throughout make this a compelling read.

I'm anxious to read the next book in the series, Highland Hellcat, which focuses on Laird Connor Lindsey. Seeking a strong political alliance, Connor arranges to marry Diedre but when he discovers that she isn’t pure, he steals her sister, Brina, even though she is promised to the church.

Here's another teachable moment from Mary. I did not know third daughters in late 1430s Scotland were always promised to the church. These daughters knew their fate since childhood and were treated with extra care because of it. That makes the set up to Highland Hellcat all the more intriguing!

You can check out Mary's mentoring skills by reading the first paragraph and last line of  my historical Regency romance, Seducing Charlotte, by clicking HERE.

If you'd like to read more, I hope you'll consider VOTING for my entry in the Writing with the Stars contest. I promise it's very quick and easy. You can click in, vote and be done in under a minute.

If you enjoy the first paragraph, here's the FIRST CHAPTER.

2nd Place - Heart to Heart Contest

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

My manuscript, "Seducing Charlotte," just took second place in the 2010 Heart to Heart contest sponsored by the San Francisco Area Romance Writers of America. For a better look at the certificate, just click on the image.

By the way, I would highly recommend this contest because it was very well organized and coordinator Bettina Clairmont kept contestants informed as to the progress of the judging and of any delays. And the final judges were an impressive group of industry professionals.

In the historical category, they included Avon Editor Amanda Bergeron,  Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency and e-publisher Jessica Schulte, Carina Press. I placed second overall but Avon's Amanda Bergeron ranked my entry first. So that's pretty reaffirming!

"Seducing Charlotte" is also a finalist in Kensington Brava's Writing With the Stars contest. The grand prize is a publishing contract. Check it out and please consider VOTING for me! Click here now to read more.

If the first paragraph intrigues you, here's the FIRST CHAPTER. To learn more about the plots of both of my manuscripts, CLICK HERE.

Vote Now! 'Writing with the Stars' Contest Begins

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I ran out to my local Borders on Monday to get the latest copy of RT Book Reviews.

They didn't have it out on the floor but the gentleman behind the counter said he would check the unopened box of new magazines and there it was!

I quickly leafed through it until I found my picture and profile for the "Writing with the Stars" contest. I excitedly showed it to the salespeople and said, "That's me. I'm in the magazine!"

I know. How uncool. But there it is.

I can't help being incredibly excited to be a finalist in Kensington Brava and RT Book Reviews' "Writing with the Stars" contest. The winner lands a book contract.

Now that's cool.

After buying the magazine and checking out my picture and those of my talented fellow finalists, I dragged my 11-year-old over to the Romance section to show him some of the Kensington Brava books on the shelf.  From the look of wonderment on his face, I'd say that's the moment he really got it - what this competition is  all about. We took a minute to admire the beautiful trade paperbacks together before getting back on task and forging ahead to finish the day's errands.

Getting back to the contest,  here's the recap...

There are five rounds of competition. Readers of the RT Book Reviews website and magazine will vote for the winner online.

First round voting continues through October 24. The category is "Best First Paragraph and Last Sentence".

If you're intrigued by the first paragraph of my historical romance, "Seducing Charlotte," I've posted the entire FIRST CHAPTER online. Check it out!

If you'd like to see it as a published book, I hope you'll consider voting for me.

Writing With the Stars: Round One

Monday, October 11, 2010

The competition is officially under way!

For those of you who aren't familiar with the contest, here's a quick recap: I am one of 10 finalists in the "Writing With the Stars" contest sponsored by Kensington Brava and RT Book Reviews.

There are five rounds of competition. Readers of the RT Book Reviews website and magazine will vote for the winner online. The top prize is a book contract with Kensington.

First round voting opens today. The category is "Best First Paragraph and Best Last Sentence".

If you're intrigued by the first paragraph of my historical romance, "Seducing Charlotte," I've posted the entire first chapter online. Check it out! If you'd like to see it as a published book, I hope you'll consider voting for me.

Third Place 2010 Orange Rose Contest

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The results are in! I placed third in the 2010 Orange Rose contest for my manuscript "Seducing Charlotte."

Two acquiring editors were the final judges. The entry consisted of the first 50 pages of the manuscript.

The top ten finalists were selected by overall score, independent of category. Mine was the only historical on the list of finalists.

My sincere thanks to the Orange County Chapter of RWA - especially contest coordinator Lynn Nissen - for putting together such an organized, well-run contest.

Oh, and there's a cash prize of $50. Spa manicure/pedicure, here I come!

Sinful in Satin

Friday, October 8, 2010

I just finished reading Madeline Hunter's latest book, "Sinful in Satin," the third in her The Rarest Blooms series. I always savor Madeline Hunter's seamless prose - often pausing to reread lines simply because they are so beautifully crafted. (By the way, Hunter is another one of those "scholarly" romance writers. She holds a Ph.D. in Art History and teaches at the college level.)

Getting back to "Sinful in Satin," Celia is the daughter of a courtesan who's been groomed to take over the family business. However, she runs away before Mom can sell her daughter's services to the highest bidder. Years later, while trying to make a respectable life for herself, Celia falls for the enigmatic Jonathan. Luckily for him, Celia can finally put all those skills Mommy taught her to good use. Yep, it's pretty steamy.

The story moves along at a restrained pace, steadily building a mystery involving both Jonathan and Celia that is resolved in a satisfying conclusion. I didn't LOVE the last page but, who cares, by then I was already sold on the characters and the plot line.

While I enjoy all of Hunter's books, I think my favorite remains "Secrets of Surrender," which brings the son of a coal miner - who has done very well for himself - together with a lady whose reputation has been destroyed by a family scandal. The novel begins with him "buying" her at an auction. Need I say more?

Do you have a favorite Madeline Hunter book? Have you read "Sinful in Satin" yet?

By the way, Ms. Hunter is actually judging two of my finalist entries in the New Jersey Romance Writers 2010 "Put Your Heart in a Book" contest for unpublished writers. Both of my completed manuscripts, "Compromising Willa" and "Seducing Charlotte" are nominated in the historical category. The winners will be announced later this month.

When I picked up my first Madeline Hunter book a few years ago, I never dreamed that one day she would be reading my work!

The Promise

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I just finished reading Brenda Joyce's new book, "The Promise," the latest  in her intriguing de Warenne family dynasty. This is Alexi and Elysse's story. I always enjoy Joyce's books and this one is no exception. Do you have a favorite book in the series? I think mine is Rex and Blanche's story, "The Perfect Bride." What can I say? I guess I'm a sucker for damaged people - he's lost a leg and she suffers serious flashbacks from a childhood trauma.

I am also looking forward to the return of Joyce's Deadly series featuring amateur sleuth Francesa Cahill. Joyce wrote eight highly entertaining books in the series before she says her publisher asked her to put them aside. What a bummer for fans of the series who were looking forward to Francesca's long-awaited marriage to that hot Calder Hart. Theirs must be the longest engagement in romance novel history!

The latest Deadly book comes out in March 2011. According to Joyce, she'd like to write three more books in the series but that depends on how well the books sell. I, for one, can't wait to buy all three! If you haven't tried this series, you should. For more details on the new Deadly books, check out Joyce's letter on the subject. 

Next up for me is Madeline Hunter's latest offering, "Sinful in Satin," the third book in The Rarest Blooms series. Any Madeline Hunter book is a special treat.

That's the upside of a long bus commute into the city...plenty of time to read!