Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Releases winner!

Okay, let me try this again because I had a space in our email address in the previous posts! I apologize for any inconvenience!

The random winner of a book from my prize stash is:

Rebekah E. (comment #10)

Congratulations, Rebekah! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "New Releases winner" as the subject and I'll get your book in the mail. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience, Rebekah!

Coming Attractions!

Well, it’s the last month of the year and we are closing out 2011 (can you believe it’s nearly that time??) in a very big way! We have several terrific guest authors along with our usual reviews, blogs, and prizes. We hope you’ll stop by often to join in the fun!

Grab a pen and paper as Andrea brings you her list of December books in her New Releases blog on Friday, December 2nd.

The always hot and sassy Tawny Weber joins us on Monday, December 5th to dish about the first book of her new back-to-back-to-back trilogy, Sex, Lies and Mistletoe.

Be sure to stop by on Tuesday, December 6th when we share a plethora of great holiday dessert and cookie recipes. Yummy!

On Thursday, December 8th, Make Your Reservations to see which books we are looking forward to in January!

Trish Milburn brings us the latest and greatest YA and Teen news in this month’s Teen Menu on Saturday, December 10th. Perhaps she’ll have another update on the new Hunger Games movie.

Harlequin author RaeAnne Thayne, author of Blackberry Summer and the newly released Christmas in Cold Creek joins us on Monday, December 12th.

On Tuesday, December 13th, we honor Harlequin Desire author Sandra Hyatt, who passed away in August. Join us as Sandra’s writing friends and her daughter blog about some of Sandra’s favorite things.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Teresa Medeiros visits with us on Wednesday, December 14th. Her latest, The Pleasure of Your Kiss, releases December 27th.

Don’t forget to grab a fan before you stop by on Thursday, December 15th as Buffie brings us her latest Hot Dish. Let’s see if she can top November’s Hot Dish!

On Saturday, December 17th, we bring you some books to curl up with this winter in our monthly Stock Up Saturday reviews.

The lovely Anna Campbell brings us a Second Helping of a book you may have missed when she blogs on Saturday, December 24th.

Debut historical author Cecilia Grant is interviewed by PJ on Wednesday, December 28th. Her upcoming book, A Lady Awakened, is receiving some great buzz!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Special -- Connie Brockway

We are beyond exciting to welcome New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and RITA award winner, Connie Brockway to The Romance Dish! I've been a fan of Connie's for years, starting with her historicals and happily moving along with her when she started writing contemporaries. And of course, following her life on Squawk Radio. I mourned deeply when Squawk went off the air, and I was in good, albeit sad company. Well, color me happy when I learned she would write a sequel to her wildly popular historical, As You Desire (I wasn't alone in my joy). Connie announced she was "going rogue" and self-publishing, but a timely blog caught the eye of the folks at Amazon, and they decided to make Connie's newest book the launch for their new line, Montlake Romance. The Other Guy's Bride has been garnering rave reviews, including mine (check it out here). Please give a warm welcome to our friend, Connie.

Thanks for dishing with us today, Connie. I've been a big fan of your for years, starting with your historicals and moving to your contemporaries. And now you've made the move to self-publishing. What made you decide to do that?

Hey, Gannon! I decided to self-publish after being offered a contract that didn't have anything in it that I wanted: better e-book rates, some pricing control over e-books, and a decent advance. But most important, I wasn't going to be able to write books I'd been promising my readers for years, those being sequels to AS YOU DESIRE and ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT.

But while I had decided to self-publish, it didn't turn out that way and I'm not self-publishing now. Instead, I'm the launch author for Amazon's newest publishing venture, Montlake Romances. How'd that happen?

After I decided to self-publish I wrote a blog about the decision and my reasons for "going rogue." A few days later Amazon contacted me and asked whether would be interested in being their launch author. They offered me all the things I had wanted in the contact with my traditional publisher plus they were very excited, in fact insistent, that I write the sort of books of my heart --which in this case is THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE.

Additionally, being published by Amazon put to bed all my fears about *my* self-publishing, namely where was I going to find a stellar editor, who was going to do the copy edits (and you know, Gannon, how very,very important it is for me in particular to have someone with a sharp eye for typos looking over my work!) and where would I find a great cover artist.

Plus, I would have the backing of the great Amazon team behind me. I said yes.

As You Desire
, was published in 1997, and now you're finally publishing a sequel, of sorts---much to the delight of your many fans! Did your publisher in the past not support a sequel or did it take you this long to decide that you wanted to write this story?

The publisher who owns the rights to AS YOU DESIRE and ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT was not interested in my doing sequels to either--though ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT is more the middle of a trilogy begun in PROMISE ME HEAVEN and concludes with Giles Strand's story. I had asked them several times during those periods when I was free from other contractual obligations if they would care to see a proposal and was always told "no." Of course, and perfectly reasonably, other publishers were not interested in pushing the backlist at another house, so they, too, always declined.

It was always my intention to do these books and when I made that initial decision to "go rogue" it was with a the vague notion that regardless of how much or little success I had self-publishing, i would at least do these two books. I'm so pleased I finally am able to do so and I hope everyone who has wanted a follow-up to Harry and Dizzy's story in AS YOU DESIRE thinks the wait was worth it.

I can assure you that the follow-up to Harry and Dizzy's story was more than worth the wait. I fell in love with Jim and Ginesse. Their banter reminded me of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, and Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. So much fun! So what's up next for you?

I have so many ideas, and so many choices now. As I've done for, oh, say ten years, I'm trying to find the perfect ending to the trilogy started with PROMISE ME HEAVEN and continued in ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT. in other words, Giles, Lord Strand's story. I haven't done something really dark and edgy in a long time. There's a reason for this; it's really hard work for me. Something will have had to twist Giles in the interim period between ATTN and his story, something real and extreme. I've never been interested in heroes who are simply angry. Or indulging in a pity party. I'm interested in the sort darkness that a hero struggles against and not always successfully. And the heroine has to match that paradigm-- no healing angels who by virtue of their, well, virtue just absorb the darkness straight out of the hero--sort of like hair bleach.

I'm also playing around with doing a classic western romance, not western Americana. And again, not a gentle tale. Something Clint Eastwood might have starred in. Im thinking it would be a kick to set in 1900, rather than the more expected post civil war era. Or a late Victorian, possibly Edwardian English mystery with gothic overtones and a huge dollop of Oscar Wilde type sophistication… See what I mean? The possibilities suddenly seem endless!

I'm always fascinated by the different methods writers use for completing their books. What's a typical writing day like in the life of Connie Brockway? Are you a plotter or a pantser? How long does it typically take you to complete a book?

What method? I wish to high heaven I *had* method. Life would be so much easier. I start wherever the initial idea takes hold and then I work chronologically. I have tried writing out of sequence and it only creates an enormous mess for me. Many, many, man times I end up cutting the first 2-3 chapters entirely because I realize I've written backstory.. I suppose it has the benefit of letting me really know the characters before I begin their story. Do I sound convincing? I didn't think so.

Every book has it's own path. I love that. It sounds so writerly and it has the added of being true. Both AS YOU DESIRE and THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE each took under six months to write.ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT took a year and some weeks. Those are both ends of my spectrum. Perhaps one of the reasons I like being under contract is because it *makes* me works. I am a dab hand at not-working. AN even dabber hand at writing down a couple paragraphs or chapters of "Brilliant Possibilities" a whole community of which reside in my bottom desk drawer with another neighborhood on my back-up drive. I love starting a book. I love thinking about a book. Not so much the middle of writing a book and by the time I've finished I have no idea if I've done well or not.

There are many of us who still mourn the closing of Squawk Radio, and the community that we all had, like a big, eccentric family. Do you ever miss it?

Certain aspects of it, yes. Sharing our friendship online expanded that friendship to include dozens of people. It felt like a big Hen Party ( wha-wha!) and it introduced our individual voices to a huge number of people without *feeling* like promotion. So, sure, I miss sniping at Christina or Terri. But it was a huge, huge time commitment for every single one of us and after two years, ultimately we felt that our time was better spent writing books rather than blogs. I can promise you I don't miss the rest of the Squawkers. We still babble and e-mail merrily away behind the scenes. And I still snipe at Christina and Terri.

Connie, it's been so much fun chatting with you. Now it's your turn to ask our "Dishettes" a question or two.

So, Gannon. Since you brought it up, I want to ask your readers to weigh in and weigh in heavily on the following questions (yes, I'm taking two because…well, because…)

1 - IN writing Giles Strand's story, how dark should I go?

2 - BESIDES the U.K. (and that includes England, Ireland, Scotland) when and where would you like to see me set a book? WAIT!! BONUS POINTS--if the book is NOT set between 1800-1895 you can include a U.K. setting!

Thanks so much for having me, you guys! I hope you enjoy reading THE OTHER GUY'S BRIDE as much as I did writing it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What are you reading?

Curious minds want to know! What are you reading right now? Would you recommend it? What book have you read recently that we simply MUST READ? What will you be reading next? Tell us!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Last Call for New Releases winner!


The random winner of a book from my prize stash is:

Rebekah E. (comment #10)

Congratulations, Rebekah! Please send your full name and address to theromancedishATgmailDOTcom with "New Releases winner" as the subject and I'll get your book in the mail. If not claimed by 9 PM EST Tuesday (November 29, 2011), I'll draw another name!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Taking a Break

Okay, we're not really fishing.  More like shopping, baking, working and decorating for Christmas.  Gannon, Andrea and Buffie are spending time with their families this holiday weekend and PJ is working dawn to dusk at her department store job (this is the biggest shopping weekend of the year in the States) so the Dishes are taking a couple days off from the blog.  But don't despair!  We'll be back Monday for another great week, including a visit on Tuesday from Connie Brockway.  

See you then!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Amelia Peabody for President!

by Anna Campbell

In September on Second Helping when I was talking about the marvelous SOULLESS by Gail Carriger, I mentioned how Alexia Tarabotti and Lord Maccon reminded me of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson from CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK by Elizabeth Peters. You can find the SOULLESS review here: I thought it might be fun to visit the dangerous, dramatic, romantic Egypt of Amelia and Emerson today.

Although CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK is billed as an Amelia Peabody mystery, I'd firmly put this book in the romance camp. There is much mayhem and derring do but the main thrust of the story is the funny, awkward, touching relationship that develops between two clever, prickly, self-willed people who long ago decided romantic love will never be part of their lives.

Here's the opening:

When I first set eyes on Evelyn Barton-Forbes she was walking the streets of Rome--

(I am informed, by the self-appointed Critic who reads over my shoulder as I write, that I have already committed an error. If those seemingly simple Enlgish words do indeed imply that which I am told they imply to the vulgar, I must in justice to Evelyn find other phrasing.)

In justice to myself, however, I must insist that Evelyn was doing precisely what I have said she was doing, but with no ulterior purpose in mind. Indeed, the poor girl had no purpose and no means of carrying it ouf it she had. Our meeting was fortuitous, but fortunate. I had, as I have always had, purpose enough for two.

You immediately know that you're reading a book written in the high Victorian style (Reader, I married him!). You can also tell that you're in for a lot of fun - and that's true as well. One of the great pleasures of this book is the sly humor.

Purpose enough for two describes bluestocking spinster Amelia Peabody to a T. She's a lovable monster who inherits a fortune from her vicar father and sets out to see the world on her own terms. She's self-willed, self-confident, pushy, but kind-hearted, generous and often perceptive When she crosses swords with shaggy, cranky archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson who until now has only been interested in women dead for 3,000 years, unexpected sparks fly. It's a joy watching these two clever people maneuver around each other and then find themselves maneuvered into a lifelong passion.

The story is a bit silly but that's part of the fun too. When Amelia rescues ruined and forsaken runaway heiress Evelyn Barton-Forbes from a curious Italian crowd at the Forum in Rome and decides to employ her as a companion on her voyage to Egypt, little does she know the adventures in store. Passion, cads and bounders, danger, cobras, stalking mummies, native superstitions and more await our intrepid heroine before she gets her happy ending.

As befits a story published in 1975, this book falls into the old-fashioned romance category. There's no explicit sex and the passion is mostly constrained behind stiff upper lips. Which makes it surprisingly powerful when it does escape! But the story is clever and witty and packed with incident and as I said, the romance is great fun. Not only that, but Evelyn finds romance too so you get two love stories for the price of one. What more could a budding Egyptologist want?

I've always had a very soft spot for books set in the late 19th century in Egypt. Two of my all-time favorite romances are AS YOU DESIRE by Connie Brockway and MR. IMPOSSIBLE by Loretta Chase. This one forms an honorable third in that glorious list. Seriously, if you want a couple of hours of sheer enjoyment, pick up CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK.

Do you like playing in exotic climes when you read romances? Do you like intellectual heroes? Who's your favorite feisty heroine? Have you ever been chased by a mummy (the bandaged not the maternal kind)? Did you manage to escape?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review -- The Other Guy's Bride

The Other Guy's Bride
By Connie Brockway
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: November 22, 2011

For many years---fourteen to be exact---Connie Brockway fans have been begging for a sequel to As You Desire, the story of Harry and Dizzy. Well, fans, the time has come, and it was worth the wait!

Ginesse "Ginny" Braxton is traveling from England to Egypt, a country she knows like the back of her hand thanks to being the daughter of famous Egyptologist, Harry Braxton. But Ginesse longs to make a name for herself, not just ride on the coattails of her famous family. She also wants to prove she's not the jinx and magnet for trouble that everyone says she is, and she's found the perfect way; she thinks she has found the location of the lost city of Zerzura. Of course, she needs to find someone to lead her across the desert, and Ginesse knows full well that no one will want to accompany the Braxton chit. Fate presents a situation that she cannot resist; a young woman, Mildred Whimpelhall, who is a passenger on the ship with Ginesse is on her way to meet her fiance, Colonel Lord Pomfrey. Mildred is so seasick that she decides to get off the ship in Italy and continue her journey to Egypt by rail. Ginesse kindly makes Mildred's arrangements for her, but unbeknownst to the trusting Mildred, Ginesse decides to assume her identity and travel to Fort Gordon, which is within thirty miles of Zerzura. It was all too perfect. Ginesse should have known better.

James "Jim" Owen is a tough adventurer who owes a debt to Colonel Lord Pomfrey, so he agrees to accompany Pomfrey's fiancee across the desert to Fort Gordon. Not what Jim considers high on his list of ways to have a good time, but a debt is a debt. After all, Jim has been in many a dangerous situation, so providing escort to a meek and mild English miss should be a walk in the park. Once he meets Mildred Whimpelhall----aka known as Ginesse Braxton---, that notion goes straight out the window. She is anything, but meek. In fact, she talks nonstop and is a veritable magnet for trouble. But the biggest problem for Jim is his attraction to her. She frustrates and fascinates him, and no matter how many times he tells himself that she belongs to another man, thereby making her off limits, he just can't resist her.

"Colonel Lord Pomfrey. You never use his given name." he was looking down into her upturned face, moonlight carving his into hard angles and cold planes.

"Of course I know it," she said, trying to sound convincing because in truth she did not remember Pomfrey's Christian name.

"Because if you were mine, I would want you to say it, even when I was not there." He was so close she felt his warm breath sluice over her lips, so close she could see the way his lashes tangled at the corners, so close she could see flecks of sand at the base of his throat. His gaze had turned smoky and brilliant all at once, with an intensity she'd never seen before. It made the breath catch in her throat and her heart race.

Fool that she was, even though she intuited that danger roved very near and that she ought to keep very still and very silent, she could not keep from whispering, "Why?"

"Because every time you said my name, it would touch your lips." His voice lost its hard edge, grew as dark and smoky as his gaze. "Like a kiss."

The Other Guy's Bride is a rollicking romance, a turn-of-the-century adventure with a high spirited, mismatched hero and heroine with secrets aplenty. Their banter is reminiscent of some of my favorite movie pairs: John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, and Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Throw in a little Indiana Jones, and it all adds up to a can't miss good time. Connie Brockway has a deft hand with humor, and I laughed out loud more times than I could count. There is an equal amount of soul stirring tenderness and heart pounding sensuality. All of the elements for a winning romance. I cannot recommend The Other Guy's Bride highly enough! For those who do not have a Kindle, don't despair. It will be released in trade paperback on December 22nd. Just in time for the holidays. *g*

~ Gannon

*** Connie will be blogging with us next Tuesday, Nov. 29th!***

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review -- THE SINNER

The Sinner
Return of the Highlanders, Book 2
by Margaret Mallory
Publisher: Grand Central
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Four fearless warriors return to the Highlands to claim their lands and legacies. But all their trials on the battlefield can’t prepare them for their greatest challenge yet: winning the hearts of four willful Scottish beauties.

After walking away from a horrible marriage to a philandering man, Glynis MacNeil is resolute in her decision to never marry again and she will do anything possible to thwart her father’s matchmaking schemes. So when two warriors from another clan arrive at her father’s home, Glynis puts her latest plan into action. With the help of her maid, she transforms herself from a beautiful young woman to a woman with oozing pot marks all over her face.

Alex MacDonald is one fierce warrior. While he is known for his battle skills, it is his reputation between the sheets that gets people talking. Growing up with parents who fought constantly, Alex is determined never to wed. And why should he since a different woman every night satisfies his needs. When Alex and his friend Duncan arrive at the McNeil castle, Alex is shocked to be introduced to a woman with horrible pot marks on her face. Upon closer inspection, Alex immediately realizes the pot marks which seem to be oozing down her face are actually a disguise. Quite amused by such drastic measures, Alex beings a conversation with this unique woman.

“I’d do anything for my clan but wed,” Glynis said.

“Since we are of one mind on that,” Alex said, “we can be friends, aye?”

She looked over her should at him. “Do ye mean it?”

“Usually I become friends with women after I bed them,” he said. “But I’ll make an exception for ye.”

And thus a friendship between the two forms. In another attempt to get away from her matchmaking father, Glynis coaxes Alex into taking her along on his travels to Edinburgh where family from her mother’s side lives. During the days of travel, friendship swiftly gives way to the chemistry of white, hot passion. The sparks between the two could set all of Scotland on fire! Passionate nights (and a few days) sear a permanent place in each other’s heart.

With every stroke of his strong hands, he wiped away another bad memory of Magnus touching her. She wanted him to replace every ounce of unpleasantness and humiliation with pleasure and joy. Oh, God, how she wanted him. She wrapped her legs around Alex’s hips, urging him forward.

“I don’t want to rush this time,” he said against her ear. “I’m going to make certain ye don’t forget me too soon, Glynis MacNeil.”

Not likely.

While in Edinburgh, Alex discovers he is the father to a small girl. Hoping to provide his daughter with a calm, quiet childhood unlike his own, Alex practically begs Glynis to be his wife and mother to his daughter. Thinking she would never have a child of her own, Glynis finally accepts Alex’s proposal as her only way of becoming a mother, but secretly she hopes that his philandering ways are a thing of the past and that his heart would belong to her. Having endured humiliation by her first husband, all Glynis wants is to be loved and desired above all women by her husband. Through trials and a misunderstanding, Alex comes to the realization that one true love is so much better than a different woman every night.

Her eyes closed as his mouth met hers. For a long, long time, he just kissed her, not as a step to something else, but as if he wanted to do it forever. His fingers slid into her hair and supported her head as their tongues moved against each other in deep kisses.

Glynis felt adrift and breathless as he kissed her cheeks, her eyelids, her hair.

“Cronaim tgum,” he said. I missed you.

Since reading and reviewing Margaret Mallory’s debut novel, KNIGHT OF DESIRE, I have been singing her praises. And as much as I loved her medieval series, All the King’s Men, I must say that I believe Ms. Mallory has found her calling in writing Highlanders. The first book in this series, THE GUARDIAN, was a fabulous story and Ms. Mallory has kept the writing bar high with this latest offering. THE SINNER is a novel overflowing with everything you expect from a Highlander novel – fierce passion, male arrogance, and female determination. But THE SINNER offers so much more – a real friendship between husband and wife, the gentle interactions between a father and daughter, and the sweetness of true love.

While you could read this novel as a standalone book, I would highly recommend that you read the series in order as it will enrich your reading experience.

~ Buffie

Monday, November 21, 2011

Today's Special -- Joan Swan

Everyone know that The Romance Dish loves, loves, LOVES debut authors. There something special about being with an author from her very first published book. And we Dishes love to support, encourage and promote debut authors. Today we welcome debut author Joan Swan. Joan's debut book, FEVER, will be out on February 28, 2012. Joan tells us a little bit about the journey of a debut author and also interviews New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak. Please give a warm welcome to Joan Swan.

Building an author network is one of my favorite topics on the tour for so many reasons, but it all boils down to this: without them, I wouldn’t be here.

We all have support networks in our lives. If you’re not an author, but a reader, all these concepts still apply, and we’re giving away 2 copies of the first book in Brenda Novak’s newest series The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside! Simply leave a comment to enter. Open international.

Anyone who has traveled this road, attempted to travel this road, watched anyone travel this road or listened to enough of us bitch about traveling this road knows it’s got a few divots. Times a few divots by a few years and those of us who’ve been on it long enough are missing a few vertebrae. Authors help authors fill in those rough spots so they don’t jar our teeth loose. I’ve been on this road for a decade now. If it weren’t for the wonderful friends I’ve developed in this business I’d either be wearing premature dentures, or I’d have jumped on the freeway years back.

If I’d have known from the beginning how powerful friends could be in this business – both personally and professionally – I would have started building friendships from day one. Luckily, I figured it out a couple of years before I sold. And between then and now, each and every author I’ve met has either aided me or taught me something.

Here is my best advice to writers related to building their network:

Start Early - The earlier, the better. Even if you’re just starting out, it’s not too soon to meet people and make connections. That said, let me stress this: don’t force relationships. Tense or uncomfortable relationships will only drain you when you need energy the most. Stay open, keep the idea in mind and friendships with occur naturally. Writers are friendly people who gravitate toward others who understand their unique need to create.

Remember, cream floats to the top. Solid, trusted relationships are not built overnight. Traveling this road with someone builds a bond that will see you through the rough times, be there to celebrate your achievements and aid you when you need it most.

Branch out - Keep an open mind when developing relationships. Screenwriters, teachers, attorneys, physicians…you’d be surprised how many people have always wanted to write, and who may be writing in private on the side. If they’re not writing, they would probably be thrilled to help an author, because living vicariously is the next best thing.

  • Genre

    Socialize outside your genre. You’d be surprised how many people may tell you they read romance, but love to pick up the latest YA when their kid goes to bed. And something I learned a very long time ago that still holds true—good writing crosses all genre; writing craft can be shared equally throughout fiction and is one element that brings all fiction writers together. Craft is a fabulous way to meet and build friendships outside your main writing genre.

  • Media

    Today’s writers have amazing social tools at their fingertips. There is absolutely no reason every writer can’t be out there meeting both writers and readers. With so many options, there are several alternative for every personality types, from the shyest introvert to the boldest extrovert. You don’t have to do them all, in fact, I don’t recommend it. I suggest trying a few out, finding what suits your personality and build from there. The information available through these channels is limitless. The support amazing. I would be lost without my blog buddies and my Twitterverse. I’m still on the fence about Facebook – but it’s a must for others. Everyone is different – find what works for you.

Give - This may lean toward personality or personal preference. I will readily admit that giving is part of my genetic makeup and I would give regardless of what I received in return. It’s not always a good thing. I can and often do hinder myself when I can’t balance this characteristic. But what I gain on the flip side is beyond expectations. In a practical sense, if you help someone and that person helps you in return, you are leveraging resources and getting ahead simultaneously. In a theoretical sense, like attracts like, so by giving you create a spirit of generosity toward yourself and the universe gives back.

Giving can be generosity in any form: information, aid, financial support, emotional support, camaraderie, friendship, promotional help…the list goes on. And giving can benefit more than one person at a time – it’s called a win-win, and the more you look for those winning opportunities, the more they appear.

Here are just a few ways my network of author friends have benefited me over the years:

My author friends have brought me:

The blurbs for my debut novel.
A heartfelt thank you to Larissa Ione, Stephanie Tyler, Elisabeth Naughton and Bonnie Hearn Hill.

  • This fabulous Tour: Journey of a Debut Author. Deep appreciation to the wonderful Lauren Dane, Kat Martin, Pamela Palmer, Suzanne Brockmann, Carly Phillips, Brenda Novak, Sharon Sala, Cindy Gerard, Christina Dodd, Marjorie Liu, Anne Stuart and Lara Adrian and my blog tour coordinator Ashley March!

  • Joint Reader Meet & Greet Conference Ops: Thanks to uber-authors for including me: Cynthia Eden, Caridad PeƱiero, Lisa Renee Jones, Donna Grant and Elisabeth Naughton.

  • Conference Workshop Panel Ops

  • Multiple joint promotional ops

  • Book review swap ops

  • Cross promotional ops

  • Group blog tour ops

  • Shared print ad ops

  • Emotional support, professional advice, friendship of more fantabulous authors than I could name.

Here are some of the locations I found best for connecting with other writers:

  • Craft courses

  • Conferences

  • Book Signings

  • Critique Groups

  • Writing Organizations

  • Online (as noted above)

This topic feels very appropriate for my guest today, Brenda Novak. Brenda is well known for her longtime generous effort to the search for a cure for Diabetes. She is, of course, also a New York Times Bestseller, with more than 35 books written and over 3 million copies sold. She is also a two-time RITA nominee. You can find Brenda at her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Her most recent series, The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside 6/11, In Seconds 8/11, and In Close 10/11 are all available now and we’ll be giving away 2 copies of Inside today! Serendipitously, her own debut novel, Of Nobel Birth, is currently one sale in e-format.

Now, Brenda will give us her take on developing an author network.

Brenda, did you have an author network of friends before your publication?

Brenda: No. None. Those friends I did have looked down on romance and considered me a "sell out." I remember my "best friend" coming to my first book signing. Not only did she not buy the book--she wouldn't even touch it.

How did you develop your author support network? Where did you find them?

Brenda: I joined RWA, which I didn't know existed until after I'd finished my first book and was ready to start marketing it. Then someone who worked for a non-fiction publishing house in Sacramento mentioned the organization and suggested I attend the annual conference. I owe that person a lot because I credit RWA with providing all the tools I needed in order to get published.

How did you and your author network support each other early in your careers?

Brenda: At first, we critiqued for each other, shared hotel rooms at conferences, celebrated our successes as a group. Sharing information is key in this business, so there was that, too.

How has your support network changes as your career has grown?

Brenda: I've been lucky enough to have a lot of the writing community support my efforts to raise money for diabetes research and consider them all family. I think joining forces in this way has really enhanced my life (more than just my career). I'm not sure the network has changed significantly in other ways. It's sort of like writers join with their own "graduating" class. I'm still friends with those who were trying to break in when I was and we still give support and share information.

How has your friendship with other authors benefited your career?

Brenda: This is huge. It makes what I do so much more fun. I would never want to be an island. I enjoy going to speak at conferences because it puts me in touch with a whole new group of like-minded people, people who love to talk books and writing as much as I do.

What would you suggest new authors do to develop their own network?

Brenda: I think it's imperative to join a writing organization and to get and stay active in it. I think a new writer should also get a web page and start gathering a mailing list.

Have you found social media or conferences more advantageous to developing a supportive author network?

Brenda: Conferences have been a lot more effective for me. There's just no way to replace that one-on-one contact and face time.

If you’re a writer, share one of your favorite ways to build your network of friends.
If you're a reader, tell us about one of the helpful networks in your life and how you keep it going.

All comments enter you to win 1 of 2 copies of the first book in Brenda Novak’s newest series The Bulletproof Trilogy, Inside! Open Internationally.


Joan Swan is a triple RWA® Golden Heart finalist, and a double Kiss of Death Daphne Du Maurier finalist. She writes sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist, and her first novel with Kensington Brava debuts April, 2012. Currently, she works as a sonographer at a one of the top ten medical facilities in the nation, and lives in magnificent wine country on the central coast of California with her husband and two daughters. You can find Joan on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stock Up Saturday Reviews

Highlander For The Holidays
Highlander Series, Book 8
By Janet Chapman
Publisher: Jove
Release Date: October 25, 2011

I’m a sucker for Christmas stories, any book with Highlander in the title or a cute dog on the cover. Janet Chapman’s Highlander For The Holidays has all three, which makes it irresistible to me. Score!!

Jessie Pringle decides to move to the little town of Pine Creek, Maine to put her the nightmare of the past four years behind her. A vicious attack took the life of her husband and scarred Jessie physically and emotionally, and she wants nothing more than to start fresh, and hopefully escape the flashbacks that continue to plague her. Her one hundred-pound Rottweiler service dog, Toby, is ultra sensitive to her when a flashback is imminent, so he can lead her to a “safe place”. Spending her first night in town with her friend, Merissa, at Pete’s Bar and Grill seems like the perfect way for Jessie to get the lay of the land, see what the locals are like. One local, Ian MacKeage, catches her eye and vice versa. After spending some time with him on the dance floor, Jessie is smitten with the tall, sexy, green-eyed man. But she’s far from sure that any man, even Ian, will be able to accept her scars, both inside and out.

Ian notices Jessie the moment she walks in the door of Pete’s. In fact, the attraction is so immediate, it takes Ian aback, because he can’t remember the last time a woman had that effect on him. Ian is taken with Jessie’s beauty, but he also notices a bit of a wild woman underneath all of that poise, and that is something he wants to uncover. Jessie definitely responds to his kisses, but Ian feels her fear and uncertainty at taking their relationship further. Her scars don’t bother him; he has more than a few of his own. Still they both need to heal their pasts if they are ever to have a future together. But with a little magical help from a kind, but meddlesome hermit----Roger AuClair de Keage, Ian’s Scottish ancestor---and faith in each other, Jessie and Ian are destined for a happily-ever-after, and a very merry Christmas. Here’s some sage advice Roger gives Jessie:

“Healing one’s self is nearly impossible---and far less rewarding---compared to the magic that’s created when two souls combine their strengths and heal together.”

Janet Chapman’s Highlander series is still going strong with this eighth book. Don’t despair if you haven’t read them all; I’ve only read a few myself. It isn’t necessary to read them in order, although I keep telling myself I’m going to glom them all---more yummy Highlander goodness to savor. *g* Ian is one sexy alpha hero, but sensitive in all the right ways. Jessie has been through hell and back, and she is still sassy enough to keep Ian on his toes. Her loyal canine, Toby adds so much fun to the story---if only he could talk! And of course, the mysterious Roger gives this Christmas tale a dash of magic that makes it close to perfect. If you’re looking for a holiday story that will make you laugh, cry, and believe in magic, Highlander For The Holidays is the perfect gift to give yourself.

~ Gannon


Kiss It Better
by Linda Kage
Publisher: Whispers Publishing
Release Date: August 19, 2011

A PAST TO PLAGUE HIM...When his sister is attacked, memories of his miserable childhood assault Reed Walker and interfere with his perfectly structured life. To add to the chaos, just when dating becomes the last thing on Reed’s mind, Sophia Eschell, the very woman he’s been dreaming about for the past three years, noses her way into his life.

AND A WOMAN TO HEAL HIM...After hooking up with too many troubled men, Sophia is determined to find a normal, average guy sans baggage. She turns her attention to Reed, only to discover he has more issues than anyone. But if he can learn to open up to her, can she honestly reject him or will she kiss it all better?

Reed Walker is the quintessential accountant – clean cut, clothes neatly pressed, and standing a little on the outside of any social circle. While he thoroughly enjoys his occupation, the only important things in his life are his younger sister and his best friend. When Reed receives the call that his sister has been brutally attacked, he feels as if his peaceful life has been shattered. As he helps his sister physically recover and begin the mental healing process, memories of a horrible childhood come back to haunt him. Reaching for any safety line he can find, Reed grabs hold of the rope of friendship (and a little more) offered by coworker Sophia Eschell.

Sophia Eschell has a terrible track record with men. She seems to find the guy with too much baggage and not enough guts to face it. Having always thought Reed Walker was a handsome man, Sophia decides it is time to let Reed know she is interested in him. But just as she begins to drop some pretty significant hints, Reed’s world falls apart and Sophia once again finds herself dealing with a lot of baggage. However, this time Sophia believes the reward at the end will be so worth it.

This story is one that will pull at every string in your heart, but also gift you with a laugh and a smile. My heart ached for Reed as he dealt with his sister’s tragedy and the memories of his own awful ordeal as a child. Watching Sophia coax a smile or a laugh from Reed made me sigh. If you are looking for a great story about overcoming obstacles and finding love, then this one is just for you.

~ Buffie


The Next Always
Inn BoonsBoro—Book 1
By Nora Roberts
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Beckett Montgomery and his brothers, Owen and Ryder, own Montgomery Family Contractors and have taken on the monumental task of restoring the centuries-old inn located in their beloved hometown to its former glory...and then some. They, along with their mother, intend to make each room state-of-the-art without neglecting the historic significance and ambiance. They view it as a labor of love, as does the rest of the close-knit community. Beckett knows everyone around town, but no one gets him tongue-tied like Clare Brewster.

Clare came back to Boonsboro over five years ago after her husband was killed in Iraq, leaving her with two young sons and another on the way. Coming home gave Clare the time to grieve and the ability to surround her boys and herself with family and friends. It also allowed her to realize her long-time dream of opening a bookstore. She is thrilled that the Montgomery brothers are renovating the inn, which is located across the square from Turn The Page. When Beckett gives her a tour inside the half-finished inn, they share a heated kiss. The encounter leaves her breathless and feeling things she hasn’t felt in a very long time.

The Next Always is the first in Nora Roberts’s new contemporary trilogy based upon the historic Inn BoonsBoro and surrounding shops in Boonsboro, Maryland. The inn is so vital to the story; it’s almost like a character itself. The place had been there for over two centuries... And somehow it was changing everything.

I absolutely adored Beckett Montgomery. He’s compassionate and a total nurturer and I thought it was incredibly sweet how self-conscious he was around Clare at the beginning. I was so glad that Clare wasn’t afraid to fall for him—too many times I read where a hero or heroine’s past holds them back. She sees and appreciates how good Beckett is for her and her boys. And the scenes between Beckett and the boys are priceless! This story has a touch of a paranormal element to it that some might find far-fetched, but I accepted it because of the thread that ran throughout the story. The Next Always is a wonderful start to the Inn BoonsBoro series and I look forward to Owen’s and Ryder’s stories in the near future. I’ve never been to Boonsboro, Maryland, but after reading this story and learning about the town and the inn, I am ready to book a trip!


Friday, November 18, 2011

A Trio of Heartwarming Holiday Happiness

I always look forward to reading new holiday romances and revisiting favorites from years past but now that I've returned to work (retail, no less!), I know that time will be at a premium this year.  You can imagine how delighted I was to learn that three of my favorite authors were releasing new Christmas themed novellas in digital format; three delicious, heartwarming stories that can easily be read over morning coffee, evening hot chocolate or in between those never-ending holiday errands.  And at their current prices of less than $1.00 they're the perfect "Merry Christmas to Me" gift! 

Thank you, Santa!  And thank you, Tessa, Emily and Eloisa!

Once Upon a Winter's Eve: A Spindle Cove Novella
By Tessa Dare
Publisher:  Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Release Date:  November 15, 2011

It's the night of the officer's ball in Spindle Cove and Violet Winterbottom is where she can usually be found at a ball; in the corner.  She's gained a fair amount of confidence since arriving in Spindle Cove - a haven for young ladies who for a variety of reasons are society misfits - following The Disappointment a year past but her parents have called her home and tomorrow she leaves for London where she faces the possibility of seeing him, the boy next door, the man she's always loved, the man who, one year ago, broke her heart by giving her reason to hope then leaving the country without even saying "good-bye."

She's on the verge of leaving the ball when a bedraggled and obviously wounded man staggers into the ballroom, mumbling in a foreign language, and collapses at Violet's feet.  Who is he?  A spy?  A smuggler?  An enemy of England or someone more familiar?  All Violet knows about this stranger who intrigues her is that she's the only person at the ball who can understand the language he's speaking and he's desperate to keep her by his side.

One night.  That's all she has to discover his secrets.  Will it be enough to erase the painful memory of The Disappointment and give her the courage to once more open her heart to love? 

Tessa Dare returns to Spindle Cove, the setting of her current historical series, for this charming, frequently humorous and sensual holiday tale that will warm your heart on a cold winter's eve and leave you counting the days until your next visit to this delightful seaside village. 

The first book in the Spindle Cove series, A Night to Surrender was released in August and the next book, A Week to be Wicked will be released March 27, 2012.  That's 130 days.  In case you were wondering. ::grin::

Mistletoe Mine:  An Eternity Springs Novella
By Emily March
Publisher:  Ballantine
Release Date:  November 21, 2011

Only one thing is casting a shadow on Molly Stapleton's upcoming marriage: the fact that her beloved parents haven't spoken for the past three years.  Can a destination wedding in Eternity Springs, Colorado and a little help from her new Eternity Springs friends bring about the Christmas miracle she most wants?

Torn apart by a tragic family betrayal, Emma and Jared Stapleton have lived separate lives for the past three years.  Now, with the wedding of their only child on the horizon, they will come face to face for the first time since the day when they hurled painful words at one another and Emma stormed off their ranch, never to return.  Will their daughter's not-so-subtle matchmaking and the magic of the holiday season open this stubborn, emotionally wounded couple's eyes to the fact that where love still resides there is always hope?  And, if they finally set aside their pride and truly communicate with one another, will the gift their hearts most desire finally be theirs?

Emily March's small mountain town of Eternity Springs has quickly become one of my favorite fictional places to visit.  Each story, whether full-length or shorter novella, is character driven, deeply emotional and finely woven with March's strong threads of hope, love and friendship.  If you haven't visited Eternity Springs yet, why not take a trip this holiday season with "Mistletoe Mine?"

Lover's Leap, the next book in March's Eternity Springs series will be released December 27th.  Two trips to Eternity Springs this holiday season make me one very happy reader!

Winning the Wallflower
By Eloisa James
Publisher:  Avon Impulse
Release Date:  December 6, 2011

Cyrus has a plan:  become wealthy, buy an estate, marry a member of the ton, restore his family's reputation in society and, at all costs, avoid the scandal his parents created when his titled mother eloped with the family solicitor.  Choosing perpetual wallflower, Lucy Towerton at first sight, Cyrus secures her father's approval of the match then goes about his business, paying his fiancee less attention than he would a stranger on the street.
When Lucy, who is much more than the wallflower persona she presents, inherits a fortune from her aunt, she becomes an instant heiress and Lucy's snobbish mother insists she break the engagement and set her sights higher.  Lucy does break it off but not for those reasons.  Having finally gained confidence in herself, and the attentions of other men of the ton, Lucy realizes that she deserves more than to be a number on a gentleman's "plan." Though she desires Cyrus, she really doesn't know him but she knows herself well enough to understand that she cannot spend her life with a man who doesn't desire her above all else.  Lucy wants love and she's willing to fight to get it.  What Cyrus slowly discovers, once he no longer has her, is that what he wants is Lucy but she won't make it easy for him.  If he wants to win her, he'll have to work for it because Lucy won't give herself to a man who doesn't know her completely and who can't open himself completely to her.  
Like exquisitely packaged gourmet chocolates, James reveals each layer of Lucy and Cyrus's personalties at a leisurely pace,  serving them to the reader at the appropriate time.  Light and fluffy, dark and sensual, intriguing and complex; each delicious piece offers a deeper look into the hearts of our hero and heroine, allowing the reader - and even the characters themselves - to finally, completely uncover the real person behind the public veneer. 

I loved this couple!  They made me laugh, sigh, groan, laugh some more and cheer them on from beginning to end. James's signature wit, well-drawn characters and sensual romance make this holiday tale one to treasure.  And, as an added bonus, the epilogue is one of the most entertaining I've read in ages.  I highly recommend "Winning the Wallflower."

The next book from Eloisa James, The Duke is Mine, will be released December 27th.   I've read it and I think it's one of the best books she's written.  (Watch for my review in December)  It also features one of my favorite heroines ever, Olivia Lytton, an irrepressible young lady who is introduced to readers in "Winning the Wallflower." 


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Today's Special - - Lori Wilde

It's our pleasure to welcome New York Times bestselling author, Lori Wilde back to The Romance Dish!  I've been a fan of Lori's books since back when she was writing romantic comedy for Harlequin Duets and Gannon and I have both been enjoying her new Twilight, Texas contemporary series.  You can read reviews of Lori's books posted at The Romance Dish here:  The First Love Cookie Club, The True Love Quilting Club (guest review) and The Welcome Home Garden Club.  Click here to read Gannon and Lori's interview from April, 2011.  Please welcome Lori as she joins us today to talk about those special Christmas stories we all love and her Christmas present to her readers: three new ebook Christmas novellas from Twilight, Texas! 

Ah Christmas! Who doesn’t love a great Christmas story? When Avon asked me if I wanted to write three ebook novellas set during the Christmas holidays, based on my successful Twilight, Texas series, I jumped at the chance. Writing The Christmas Cookie Chronicles was such fun!

There’s just something magical about Christmas stories that speak to us all. From A Christmas Carol to The Night Before Christmas to The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, tales of forgiveness and redemption, hope and miracles stir something in everyone. This time of year, everything takes on a merrier glow.

I love Christmas movies too. From Miracle on 34th Street to It’s a Wonderful Life. These evergreen classics warm our hearts year after year. One of my family traditions is to hold a tree decorating party. We drink hot chocolate, put up the tree, string popcorn garlands and bake cookies. Afterwards we curl up on the couch to watch A Christmas Story. Yes, my favorite holiday movie of all time is a comedy. I can’t imagine a Christmas without Ralphie and his Red Rider b.b. gun. It’s such a perfect holiday movie.

And we can’t forget Christmas music. Here’s my pick of the top ten Christmas Songs

1)White Christmas (I love the do-whop sound of The Drifters version)
2) Blue Christmas by Elvis
3) Happy Christmas by John and Yoko
4) Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt
5) Silver Bells by Johnny Mathis
6) Please Come Home For Christmas by the Eagles
7) Rocking Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
8) Pachelbel Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian Orchestra
9) Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
10) Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms

What about you? What are your favorite Christmas books, movies or songs? Do you have a special holiday tradition?

Nov. 15, 2011 
Avon Impulse

Come join a meeting of the First Love Cookie Club!  

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.”

Carrie MacGregor doesn’t believe this—not one bit. She might be a “paid up” member of the Cookie Club and the local Sweethearts Knitting Club, but she’s not about to give in to the forced ho-ho-ho of the season. And why? Mark Leland. When he left town he broke Carrie’s heart. Now, the local-guy-made good is back, hosting the reality show “Fact or Fantasy.”

Fact: Mark broke her heart. Fantasy: her friends think they’ll be getting back together. But could the magic of a Twilight, Texas Christmas make Carrie’s secret dreams come true?

November 29, 2011
Avon Impulse

Come join a meeting of the First Love Cookie Club!

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.” 

It’s Christmas time at the Horny Toad Tavern, located in the heart of Twilight, TX. Elvis is on the jukebox, the lights twinkle outside…and inside, Raylene Pringle is wondering if it’s going to be another “Blue Christmas” without her true love, Earl.

But things are about to change—because ‘tis the season for unexpected romance and a surprise mother/daughter reunion…reminding Raylene that you should never disbelieve the legend of the kismet cookies!

December 20, 2011
Avon Impulse

Come join a meeting of the First Love Cookie Club!

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.” 

Everyone in Twilight, TX knows that Christine Noble can mix up the most delectable concoctions and turn them into amazing Christmas cookies. And the whole town also knows she can’t seem to find the ingredients for finding true love. Then through the doors of her shops strides Eli Borden—the man she still thinks of as “the best kisser ever.”

To her surprise, Eli asks her on a date…and to her greater surprise she accepts. Maybe it’s the mistletoe, or the season, or even the cookies…but suddenly something magical happens. But the dreams that Christine thought she’d given up on are suddenly coming true—and it all begins with another kiss from Eli.


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Guest Review - - The Bastard

The Bastard
Brenda Novak
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: November 1, 2011


Brenda Novak is best known for her bestselling romantic suspense titles, but some longtime fans will remember her first book, the historical romance Of Noble Birth (Harper Torch, 1999). Circumstances took Novak’s career in a different direction, and the historical romances she had planned to follow her first one were never published. But the digital revolution in publishing has allowed her not only to rerelease Of Noble Birth but also to publish the book that was meant to follow it, The Bastard.

Jeannette Boucher is quite young, but she is old enough to understand that her arranged marriage to the very wealthy Baron St. Ives, forty years her senior, will be the salvation of her family, French aristocrats now destitute in the wake of the Revolution. With the ceremony behind her, Jeannette is waiting for her husband to consummate the marriage when her younger brother brings her word that her ancient, impotent husband is so desperate for an heir that he has invited several of his peers to share the bridal bed with his new bride. Horrified, Jeannette escapes into the night, intending to flee to London and find sanctuary with an English cousin. Sheltering from the rain in a pub frequented by sailors, she learns their ship will sail to London before it sets out to sea. Pleased with the promise of a mere two-day journey, Jeannette disguises herself as a ragamuffin boy and persuades a ship’s officer to accept her as a new recruit.

The officer is Lieutenant Crawford Treynor, the bastard offspring of an aristocratic English lady and a man not her husband. Given to an abusive farmer to raise, Treynor ran away at fourteen after a particularly brutal beating and joined the Royal Navy. He has worked himself up to his present rank through initiative and effort and is determined to one day command his own ship. Protecting Jeannette jeopardizes all he has worked to attain, but his honor—and his heart will allow him no other choice.

This is a high-adventure tale, romantic in a fashion rarely seen in today’s romances. In style, its similarities to Of Noble Birth are strong, but the strengths that have made Novak’s romantic suspense popular are also present: her gift for creating compelling characters, her attention to detail, and the mix of action and relationship development. Both Jeannette and Treynor are strong, distinctive characters. Jeannette, despite her youth, is no passive miss waiting to be rescued, but neither is she a contemporary woman in period costume. She initiates action, she possesses courage and persistence, but her vulnerabilities are those of a woman alone in an age when men held most of the power.

Treynor’s ambition is fueled by his pride and his drive to overcome the stigma of his birth, but his achievements are no less admirable for that. His anger at his mother’s treatment of him as a child and at her refusal to answer his questions rings true. The respect he earns from those under his command affirms his strength and leadership. The details of life on an English ship add authenticity. If all the loose ends are tied rather too neatly in the end, that’s a small flaw, one that readers who like their HEAs to be inclusive and unambiguous may find quite satisfactory.

Reading The Bastard was an interesting experience. I liked seeing the seeds of a talent that has developed beautifully, but I ended it knowing that I prefer Novak’s romantic suspense and contemporary romances. It was too reminiscent of the books that drove me from bestselling romance at a time when many readers were becoming hooked on it. Readers who remember that period more fondly than I or younger readers with more of a taste for swashbuckling will likely embrace Brenda Novak, historical romance writer, with delight. As for me, In Close (Bulletproof Book 3) is on my TBR shelf, and I’m eager to read it.