Thursday, July 7, 2011

Newsletter -- July 2011

TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING has hit the shelves! I'm so excited to finally give Sophie Darshaw her happily ever after. And have you seen the beautiful cover? Sophie and Lindley are pretty special to me, and I hope readers love their story. Can I tempt you a bit?

Sophie Darshaw has earned her keep in Madame Eudora's brothel by sewing unique and intimate articles for Madame's particular clients. But Sophie dreams of a better life and embarks on a scheme to make herself respectable. She ends up privy to a murder plot and in possession of a mysterious locket that may hold the key to her father’s life—or death.

Lord Lindley lost his family when a plot by some Napoleon sympathizers went awry. It has been his life’s goal ever since to bring these men to justice. He’s been stalking one man in particular—Philip Darshaw. Lindley's determined to learn just how much of her father’s criminal past Sophie has been involved in. He'll stop at nothing to get what he wants from the secretive seamstress. Sophie's creative stitchery, however, might just unravel his plans.

And yet another Happily Ever After!
Several, actually. I'm honored to have a short story in a really fun anthology put together by Fiction Flurry, a group of writers from my own hometown. It's called Tales of Summer Romance and it's full of short little stories about--you guessed it--summer romance. It's available at Smashwords and a portion of the proceeds will go to a community-based charity. Here's the link if you'd like to check it out:

What's next?
PASSION AND PRETENSE will be my next release, scheduled for April, 2011. It follows the story of Lord Rastmoor's little sister, Penelope. She's grown up a bit, but still the same unconventional mischief-maker we came to love in DAMSEL IN DISGUISE. Originally this book was to be called PARAMOUR BY PRETENSE, but the marketing department asked me to come up with something a little sexier, so I did.

MISTRESS and DAMSEL are still out there making appearances at local booksellers. If you've missed MISTRESS BY MISTAKE or DAMSEL IN DISGUISE, check with your local bookstore, library, or look for them online at and the usual places.

RWA National Conference
I've been making some appearances, too! I just got back from the Romance Writers of America national conference where I participated in the annual booksigning to benefit literacy. Also, my publisher held a free booksigning open only to conference attendees. What a blast to sign books and give them out for free!

This year's conference was in exciting New York City. Wow, this was my first time in the Big Apple and I loved it! That place really doesn't sleep--and I don't think I did, either. But I came back all full of plans and ideas for what to write next so I'm raring to go. Even with all the changes in the industry, my agent and editor were very upbeat and excited.

While there, I was privileged to be a part of two Author Workshop Panels. With authors Courtney Milan, Kris Kennedy, Susan Sey and Tiffany Clare we discussed The Seven Deadly Sins of the First Book. Great insights for new authors! With Kit Wilkinson, Lynette Eason, and Christie Craig, we discussed Riding the Contest Wave; how to make writing contests work for you. Good stuff!

Upcoming Events
In August I'll be making several appearances here in Ohio. I'd love to see you if you can drop by!

Wednesday, Aug. 3, 12:00 - 3:00 pm
Guest Speaker, Cambridge Writers Group
Crossroads Library
63500 Byesville Road
Cambridge, OH

Saturday, Aug. 13, 2:00 - 4:00 pm
Booksigning (with author Donna MacMeans)
Barnes & Noble, Easton Town Center
4005 Townsfair Way
Columbus, OH 43219

Saturday, Aug. 20, 11:30 am - 1:00 pm
"World Building for Writers" Author Panel
Buckeye Library
6625 Wolff Road
Medina, OH 44256

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Teasing you with my Temptress!

I cannot believe how quickly June is zooming by! In less than three weeks my next book, TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING, will hit the shelves. Woo hoo! I'm so excited to introduce Sophie Darshaw to readers. At last!

Sophie is the poor, long lost cousin we heard about but never met in MISTRESS BY MISTAKE. In the opening chapters of DAMSEL IN DISGUISE she makes a brief appearance, but then mysteriously disappears. Finally now we can find out what the gal has been up to. And who she's been up to it with!

To tease you just a bit, here's a little excerpt:

“Lord Lindley, please,” she began, moving toward him, then stopping just out of arms reach. “You cannot take him. Not now.”
“You don’t know what he’s done, Miss Darshaw.”
“But I know what will happen if he does not see a doctor right away.”
“He’s wounded; nothing more. He’ll survive.”
“But the blood . . . please, have some compassion.”
She was so earnest it was all he could do to deny her. Her helpless, desperate eyes searched his. His resolve returned, however, as soon as he recalled another pair of helpless, desperate eyes that had begged him for rescue. Rescue he could not give. Those eyes had shut and never opened again and Lindley had finally caught the man responsible for it. Damn it, but Lindley couldn’t let himself be weak now. Four souls left in the cold ground of his family plot needed justice. They would get it.
“My compassion is buried with my family, back in Kent,” he informed her.
She must have recognized the icy reality of this on his face. She took a step backward, away from him. The glow from the lamp hanging near the doorway spilled out into the yard where they stood. The warm light played against the heavy shadows, making her eyes seem endlessly deep and her skin endlessly tempting. Emotion only allowed her to draw short, halting breaths. Her worn gown pulled against those unignorable curves. Hellfire, why couldn’t he forget just for these moments how beautiful the girl was?
“Maybe you can’t feel compassion, but surely you can feel something,” she said, swallowed, and gave the tiniest hint of a smile. “You are, after all, a man.”
Oh, he felt something, indeed. “My feelings are hardly your concern, Miss Darshaw. Go back inside and say farewell.”

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Let Your Flag Fly

Today is Flag Day here in the US. I had to go online and look it up when my daughter said, "Flag Day? What's that?"

Here's what I found. In 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a resolution adopting the flag. You know, the original Stars and Stripes with the stars in a circle instead of all jammed into off-set rows because they had a lot fewer states to recognize back then. But apparently Flag Day wasn't much of a big deal to most people.

It sounds like throughout the 1800's various towns and communities celebrated the anniversary of the flag's adoption in a variety of ways, but it sounds like it was kind of sporatic. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson was the first one to give it national attention by signing a proclamation that officially made today, June 14, Flag Day. It wasn't until August of 1949 that politicians gave it full attention by passing an Act of Congress to establish it.

But why? What's the big deal about a flag? I thought I'd better look that up, too.
I found some conflicting stuff. I found references to stars representing the 13 original colonies, but also representing the heavens and the Divine intervention that brought our nation into being, as well as the Divine call on the people themselves to be something special. The stripes can represent rays from the sun, beaming down on the land to produce prosperity and enlightenment, or they could have something to do with the Biblical reference to Christ's "stripes", or wounds that rescue us from sin. The red could be a nod to the bloodshed of war, and probably means victory through suffering or hardship while the white is likely purity and freedom. The blue represents the heavens, and maybe justice and perseverance.

Basically, everyone has some opinion as to what the flag stands for, and it's all pretty good stuff. None of the references I found indicated that blue stood for Greed or white meant Dirty Politics while red stripes remind us of our Trillion Dollar National Debt. No, that's not why we fly our flags.

We choose to see the American flag as something better. It is a symbol of our hopes and our dreams, not our failures and our shortcomings. We proudly fly our flags in honor of great men and women who have sacrificed and done noble things, not for those who cheat and steal. The flag stands for military personnel, civilians, lawmakers, homemakers, first responders, the elderly, and school children who all do their part to uphold freedom, equality, kindness, creativity, independence, excellence, and justice for all. Yes, that should be all of us. The flag represents what all of us could be.

So, now I can explain to my daughter what Flag Day is. It is a day we honor this simple piece of fabric as a symbol for some really big ideas. Some great ideas. Sure, maybe we screw up as a nation from time to time, but it doesn't mean we quit trying. Today is a good day to forgive ourselves for past failings and let ourselves think nobler thoughts for tomorrow.

We can do better. We can be better. We can live up to this symbol, this representation of some really awesome stuff. After all, it's our symbol. We made it. It's what we truly want to be.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Golden Hearts in Bloom

Ah, it's that season again. Last week RWA announced this year's crop of Golden Heart finalists. Gosh, what a flood of memories that brought back. Shall we wander down that lane again?

I almost didn't get the call telling me my manuscript (titled, at that time, MISTAKEN BY MOONLIGHT) had finaled in the 2008 Golden Heart. My family was literally walking out the door to head away for vacation. We had the suitcases loaded up, the bags of food for the long car ride packed, both kids were dragging the obligatory piles of games, stuffed animals, pillows and favorite blankies, and my husband was wrestling our two anxious dogs who were not looking forward to being dropped off at the kennel/doggy resort.

When the phone rang I stood in the doorway, debating whether to go answer it or to just let it roll over to the answering machine. After all, anyone I probably wanted to talk to already knew we were leaving town; this was most likely just a telemarketer. But by the fourth ring, my curiosity got the best of me and I put down my purse and my laptop case and the dog dishes and my husband's headache medication and ran to answer the phone.

Wow, was I glad that I did! I'm sure I was a blathering idiot. I know I said "Really?" about a hundred times. I hope I said "Thank you" at least once. I remembered feeling, in that moment, as if my life had changed.

As it turned out, I was right. From that day on it was a whirlwind of preparations to go to Nationals (my first!) and to get my manuscript ready for all the attention it was suddenly getting. I had to build a website, answer hundreds of emails, and begin to view my writing as more than just a hobby. I realized I'd somehow gotten into the big leagues and wasn't about to let this truly Golden opportunity pass me by. There would be parties and receptions and photo ops at National and I was determined not to miss any of it. I couldn't find a gown that was glitzy and glamorous enough for the big GH/RITA ceremony so I made one. There weren't enough hours in the day to meet with everyone I wanted to meet with at Nationals, so I skipped sleeping a couple days. As far as I was concerned, this was my one shot. It was terrifying, energizing, and blissful all at the same time.

That year I won the Golden Heart in my category. Two days later, I signed with a wonderful agent, and a few days after that we negotiated a two-book contract with Berkley Publishing. I guess they liked what they got because a few months later I signed another one.

I was asked to change my manuscript's title, but little else. In December, 2009, MISTRESS BY MISTAKE was released. DAMSEL IN DISGUISE followed it in the summer of 2010. My third book with Berkley, TEMPTRESS IN TRAINING, comes out this July and my fourth book is scheduled for April, 2012. Life has changed a lot since I answered that Golden Heart phone call. I'm glad our family vacation had to wait a couple minutes.

But the biggest lesson I've learned from my Golden Heart experience (and from my wonderful Pixie Chicks sisters who were also finalists that year) is that whether you final or don't, whether you take home a necklace or not, whether you sell right away or are eligible to enter again next year, life does go on after the Golden Heart. I could put my family vacation on hold for a little while to do a happy dance after that phone call, but eventually I had to come down from Cloud Nine and get in the minivan. I could go to National and dress like a princess, drink martinis and rub elbows with Who's Who, but at the end of the week I had to come home and catch up on laundry. And then, after all that, I still had to write. Even when I was tired, or uninspired, or too busy polishing my little heart-shaped necklace.

Golden Hearts and martinis with editors really and truly mean nothing unless we write. My advice to this year's finalists is to keep that in mind. Yes, by all means go to National if you can afford it. Enjoy the fun and the opportunities. Take advantage of everything you can, but don't lose sight of what's really important. Keep on living your life and being who you are and, most importantly, remember what that is. You are a Writer. And writers write.