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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Susan Crandall


The question I’m most asked is, “Where do your ideas come from?” I always respond with something logical, something that doesn’t make me look like a crazy person. And my answer is partial truth. I do get my ideas from observing what’s going on around me, from newspapers and overheard conversations, from family experiences and observed relationships. But the whole truth is I have a secret relationship that spoon feeds me ideas, characters, conflicts and many a surprise ending that I’d never seen coming.

“Ah, ha!” you say. “I knew there was more to it than Susan was letting on.”

You’d be right. But there’s a reason for my partial truth. It’s very complicated to explain the muse and my relationship with her. She is a very delicate creature and requires an extraordinary amount of attention and wooing for me to remain in her good graces. She doesn’t like to be tired. She doesn’t like to be hungry. The sound of the phone ringing sends her off to hide in a closet (after which she won’t come out for hours because I was fickle and talked to someone else). She sneaks up on me in the middle of the night just to see if I’ll pay attention to her. And she never, never works when she has a headache.

Sometimes she whispers in my ear. Other time she clubs me on the head with a shovel. And every once in a while, she jumps out of nowhere in the dark and startles me breathless.

My dearest, my muse, must be nourished on a steady diet of movies, books, undivided attention, and silence

“No problem,” you say. “Who wouldn’t want to take her to the movies and read her wonderful novels?”

If only it were that easy. The problem arises when you can’t figure out what mood she’s in. Does she need a comedy? Is she hungry for drama? Would she rather go for a long walk instead? Believe me, she won’t give as much as a hint beforehand. It’s like dating a … a woman.

If all of the above don’t work, I have to ignore her completely. As with any fickle creature, she can’t stand it. Sooner or later she’s telling me what I need to know – usually at the most inopportune moments; when I’m on the lawn tractor far from the house without a notepad and pen; when I’m on a long drive by myself and have no one to tell, “Hey, remind me later….”; in the middle of a public function where I must remain engaged with real people. Truly, she’s quite a handful.

But as with any worthwhile relationship, I accommodate, I indulge, I persevere.

I hope you’ll read my latest release, SEEING RED, and let me know how you think my muse is doing. You can send me an email (susan@susancrandall.net), or stop by my message board at http://www.susancrandall.net/. It’s completely safe to speak the truth; the muse isn’t allowed to see either of these things. I may need to modify my wooing strategy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monica Burns Dangerous Giveaway

Monica Burns is an Ultimate Staff favorite here at TRRC. Some of us love our romance from the steamier side of page. Monica knows how to deliver, time and time again. We have enjoyed many of her erotic romances. I was ecstatic when Monica contacted me about a contest here at the blog. She has offered up her latest release, signed, to a lucky TRRCreading reader who gets my pleasure(scavenger) hunt right. It will be easy and painless, I guarantee.

Simply email the answers and or a picture of the requested item to :ultimate@theromancereadersconnection.com

Also, you must comment on this post letting us know what you think of the blog! Both actions are required of the winner!!!!

1. Who is the author that has an advertising for the third and final book in a series on the front page of TRRC's review site.

2. Who has the 187th Romantic Suspense review at TRRC?

3. A cover of Monica's THE ART OF PLEASURE.

4. Where will Monica be appearing on June 6, 2009?

5. A cover of Monica's Dangerous.

6. A quote from Monica's Victorian Closet -hint: it is somewhere at her website.

7. A depiction (drawing, painting, etc...) of Isis, the Egyptian Goddess.

8. How many Ultimate Romance reviews are currently posted at TRRC? I am aware this may be a fluid number, as the site admin ladies are constantly adding new ones, I will take the answer that fits the time frame you emailed me!

9. A nice pic of a hot guy - just to add to my collection. Make it as naughty or as clean as you like, just make him sexy!

I will post a PG version of the winning pic along with the winner of the contest on February 27, 2009.

If the winner is someone from outside the continental U.S., then they will receive a free e-version of this book.

Thank you all for joining me in my fun!!!!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Caridad Pineiro

Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you! It’s one of my favorite times of year, although the idea of a love for all time certainly takes on new meaning when you write about vampires. LOL!

There are lots of challenges to envisioning how two people will react to spending millennia together or in the case of the hero and heroine from FURY CALLS, the next novel in THE CALLING vampire series, how they will manage to put aside old grievances to have a happy ending.

I knew the relationship in FURY CALLS was going to be a difficult one since I first introduced the characters years ago in TEMPTATION CALLS. Blake, the hero, had accidentally turned Meghan, the heroine, into a vampire. Meghan has hated Blake ever since and yet, beneath all the fury of her hate, there lingered other emotions for Blake.

An interesting conflict, made even more interesting by the fact that Blake is not your typical hero. He’s a bad boy in some ways including dressing the role with lots of black leather and chains. But that bad boy exterior actually hides a gentle man who has had a lot of pain in his life and who is searching for love after centuries of being alone.

It only makes it harder for him that the one true love of his life is a woman who hates him for taking her life.

As a writer, I love imperfect heroes. They are so much more fun! There’s something about making heroes like Blake and Meghan rise above their fears and weaknesses to really do something special. I think readers truly enjoy that and even more, can identify with such characters because they, too, have had to overcome their fears and weaknesses in life.

I knew that when Blake and Meghan first came to life years ago that they deserved a full story that would explore all those conflicts. Even more importantly, I wanted to do a story that would let Blake shine as a hero because he is so wonderfully complex. It was truly enjoyable to see Blake rise to the occasion (and in more ways that one!)

Although FURY CALLS is a romance, there is lots of action because as a writer, and as a reader, I enjoy books with a solid suspense line. In FURY CALLS, the suspense revolves around an Asian vampire – a chiang shi – who has come to New York City to create problems for the resident vampires. When bodies start turning up, Blake, Meghan and the rest of their undead friends are going to have to find out what is wreaking havoc in their underworld.

I think the suspense elements in THE CALLING are what help readers who don’t normally enjoy vampire books cross over to the paranormal area. Likewise, those readers who are paranormal fans get a kick out of seeing real world suspense elements woven into otherworldly tales, especially in dark, edgy stories.

I want to thank TRRC for giving me an opportunity to tell you the story behind the story about FURY CALLS. Anyone who leaves a comment on this blog before midnight Friday, February 13th will be eligible to win a CALLING t-shirt, copy of DESIRE CALLS and SOLDIER’S SECRET CHILD. The winner will be chosen at random from all the blog comments.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Getting The Words Out - guest blog by Susan Wiggs

When my daughter was about eight years old, she asked me, "Where do all the words and paragraphs come from?"
I gave her the simple, magical answer: "They're all right here, up inside this pen."
She thought about this for a moment, then said, "I need to borrow that pen."
The pen doesn't look like anything special. It's kind of beat up now, a Sheaffer fountain pen I was given as an award. It’s engraved “Teacher of the Year, 1983.” It has a very fine tip, which works well with my cramped handwriting. I use Skrip cartridge ink because it dries instantly on the page. If you’re left-handed, you know why this is important. I’ve ruined many a sleeve, dragging it through wet ink. And for me, color is everything. My favorite ink color is peacock blue. When I was very young, I found some old papers of my mother’s from college, and she used this same color ink. So it must be in my blood.

But there’s tragic news for us lovers of Peacock Blue. Because, okay, they still make the ink and it still looks the more or less the same. But they changed the name to turquoise. What’s up with that? Peacock blue is evocative. It’s romantic. It means something. Turquoise is just a color.

I’m curious about the marketing decision that resulted in changing the name. I wish they’d checked with me first. Writing is hard enough without messing with our heads about the tools of our trade. From thehttp://www.pendemonium.com/ web site:

“In July of this year, Sheaffer announced that Skrip was being re-formulated and would be available in new colors….Sheaffer also took this opportunity to inform us that Skrip was now being manufactured in Slovenia! A mild panic set in amongst pen collecting Skrip fanatics… And just where is Slovenia? …. Favorite colors such as peacock blue went the way of the Skrip-Well. Gone are the transparent cartridges where you could easily see how much ink was left. In their place are just very slightly translucent cartridges that appear opaque at first glance. The new cartridges are the same color as the ink inside them….Prior to the recent changeover to Slovenian Skrip, the available colors were: Jet Black, Blue, Blue Black, Green, Red, Brown, Lavender, Gray, Kings Gold, Burgundy and Peacock Blue. Sheaffer discontinued Lavender, Gray and Burgundy entirely. They replaced, or perhaps better said, renamed Kings Gold to Gold and Peacock Blue to Turquoise. Both of these colors have changed; the new turquoise is still definitely turquoise, but darker than the old Peacock Blue.”

Okay, so that’s probably too much information, but I am down to my last cartridge of real peacock blue, courtesy of Barbara Bretton, one of my favorite authors and friends. Who knows how my next book will turn out? Will it be darker? More obscure? We’ll see–I have to start work on it tomorrow.

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, here’s a great quote. When THE MARCH by E.L. Doctorow won the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction, Doctorow said in his acceptance speech: “A book written in silence and read in silence goes from heart to heart and soul to soul as nothing else can.”

I’m just as particular about the paper as I am about the ink. I use only a Clairefontaine notebook–wire-bound, graph ruled and tabbed by color. The pastel-tinted paper is thick, with a silky writing surface, and putting the words down is a meditation and a pleasure for whole minutes at a time (I’m not one of those writers blessed with effortless first drafts). In French, the notebooks are called “velin veloute,” a reference to the smooth texture of the paper.
When I’m working on a book, I tend to drag this notebook around with me everywhere. When it’s not with me, I try to keep it in a safe place, like in the freezer. So if there’s a fire, it’ll survive.

The U.S. distributor put up a list of writers who use Clairefontaine notebooks, including yours truly, as well as the main character of Passing Through Paradise:
“Best selling author Susan Wiggs, in her...novel, Passing through Paradise, devised a heroine who uses Clairefontaine tablets and peacock-blue ink. This is no surprise, since the author herself always writes her first drafts with a special fountain pen, peacock-blue ink, and, yes, Clairefontaine notebooks.”

Author Anne Tyler once said that writing a book in longhand is like “knitting a book.” Maybe, but I don’t think that hard when I knit.

[Author bio:

Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on Bainbridge Island, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.

According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with "refreshingly honest emotion," and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is "one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." Booklist characterizes her books as "real and true and unforgettable." She is the recipient of three RITA (sm) awards and four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly for her books. Several of her books have been listed as top Booksense picks and optioned as feature films. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have made national bestseller lists, including the USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times lists.

The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. Her latest novels are Just Breathe and Fireside, both from Mira Books. Currently, Fireside is the #1 bestselling book on the New York Times list. Readers can learn more on the web at http://www.susanwiggs.com/ and on her lively blog at www.susanwiggs.wordpress.com.]

Monday, February 09, 2009

Guest Blogger: Kelli A. Wilkins

Love and Romance, Living Happily Ever After
By Kelli Wilkins
Amber Quill Press Author

Happy Valentine’s Day! On this day more than any other, love is in the air. Take a quick trip to the mall and you’ll see expressions of love and romance everywhere – lacy lingerie, “I love you” diamonds, red roses, pink hearts filled with chocolates…all that’s fine, but it’s not always realistic or practical. Where does such “perfect romance” leave the every day, “everything’s not always roses and sunshine” love? What about the rest of the year?

As an author of romances, I write stories based around characters who find each other, fall deeply in love, and live happily ever after – but not without going through some emotional ups and downs. Although my characters love each other, they have to face reality and learn a few lessons (about themselves, trust, and honesty) before they can live happily ever after.

For example, Princess Elara in A Most Unusual Princess has to open up and develop trust. In Dalton’s Temptation, Elara and Dalton learn important lessons about temptation and fidelity. Lord Adrik in The Dark Lord is moody and misunderstood, until an innocent girl teaches him how to love and trust again. All these trials and emotional hardships are realistic challenges that people face every day.

Sometimes love can be a surprise. In some of my stories, the characters aren’t looking for love – it’s the furthest thing from their minds – but there it is! Lauren in The Sexy Stranger quickly found herself falling for her ex-con “captor.” Claudette from The Pauper Prince had Prince Charming literally stroll into her dress shop, and Brian found his true love on a deserted beach in Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover. Although these relationships are uncommon, they’re about more than just meeting the right person and having a wild love life — the characters focus on commitment and being there for the other person, no matter what.

Many of my characters only find true love when they are willing to open their hearts and risk sharing their deepest emotions, darkest secrets, and intimate desires — and then discover that the other person loves them even more for it. (Julian and Annabelle from A Midsummer Night’s Delights are excellent examples of this.)

People read romances for many different reasons: for great storylines, to live vicariously through the characters they care about, and to know that whatever obstacles these lovers face, they’ll overcome them together.

However, in real life, not every relationship turns out the way we’d hoped. Promises aren’t kept, hearts become broken, egos get crushed, and sometimes people end up alone and looking for love all over again. That’s why I enjoy bringing unique and interesting characters together in my novels. Sometimes I never know where the story will take me – but I’m always sure of one thing – that my characters will end up together, forever. And that’s the way it should be.

Remember back in grade school when Valentine’s Day came around? Everyone got a Valentine! So today, take a few minutes to let someone (or everyone) special in your life (a lover, brother, sister, best friend, cousin, parent, grandparent, and especially your cat) know you care.

With love,
Author Bio: Kelli Wilkins has published seven romances with Amber Quill Press. Her paperback romance anthology, Naughty Nobles is being released in February. To learn more about Kelli and her writings, visit her website at: http://www.blogger.com/www.KelliWilkins.com

(I included these in case the links I embedded in the text don’t show up. They all link to the book purchase page on the Amber Quill site.)

A Midsummer Night’s Delights - http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/MidsummerNightsDelights.html

Confessions of a Vampire’s Lover: http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/ConfessionsVampiresLover.html

A Most Unusual Princess - http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/MostUnusualPrincess.html

The Dark Lord - http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/DarkLord.html

Dalton’s Temptation - http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/DaltonsTemptation.html

The Pauper Prince - http://amberquill.com/AmberHeat/PauperPrince.html

The Sexy Stranger - http://www.amberquill.com/AmberHeat/SexyStranger.html

Saturday, February 07, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Cat Adams (Cathy Clamp and C.T. Adams)

Hi everybody!

Thanks for inviting us to blog. I hope you’ll be glad you stopped by.

One of the things we’re asked about most often is how we manage co-author collaboration. It’s not easy! (LOL). While Cathy and I are the best of friends, we do occasionally have creative differences. And over the years we’ve found out that we have very different work styles.

When we first started out we tried writing alternate chapters.

It didn’t work.

Because, while Cathy plots everything out ahead of time and her characters da**ed well will do what they are supposed to. I don’t. I let me characters lead me through what winds up being the plot. So she would write a perfectly planned chapter and, figuring she knew exactly where I was going to take it, would plan out in her head where to go in her next go ‘round. Only to find that I hadn’t gone that direction at all. I didn’t mean to frustrate her. But it did. And I really couldn’t write her way.

So we tried something different.

We talk about the books, explore the characters personalities, discuss possible plot points and twists, relationships and subplots. Then we each begin a first draft of a separate book.

When the draft is done we each hand our draft off to the other for edits. And we each begin ripping into the other’s work, making changes, tagging things that we don’t think make sense, expanding some things, subtracting others. Then we hand it back. And the arguments discussions begin.

It works pretty well . . . with a few refinements.

There are some things in every single book we are never going to agree about. We could discuss it until doomsday, and neither of us would change our mind. (Not that either of us is strong willed or stubborn, LOL). So, when we hit one of those points the primary author gets the final decision. They can veto changes.

While the process we use wouldn’t work for everyone, we’ve found it DOES work for us. With the added bonus that we can each be working on different things, doubling our output. Since we each have separate strengths, the editing process inevitably strengthens the book. Too, having a co-author and business partner gives us the opportunity to have one person handling various business or family responsibilities while the other is writing. Because, let’s face it, family crises DO come up, and they’re never convenient.

For example: Today Cathy is in the throes of a deadline for the next Sazi book (March 1st). Galleys came in on the August release (Cold Moon Rising - another Sazi under C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp); we’ve got a February release that we’re doing promo for (Magic’s Design -- the first book under our new pen name, Cat Adams), and we’re in the process of updating our website. So, this weekend she is writing furiously while I’m here blogging, then moving on to editing the galleys and hopefully working on the website, before working on the draft that’s due May 1st for our brand new urban fantasy series.

See, it works . . . for us.

In my opinion, the biggest thing to keep in mind, in any collaborative writing venture, is that you respect the other person. That means you have to cage your ego and do the following: 1. Don’t ever dismiss their suggestions out of hand. You think about them. AND2. Keep a tight rein on your temper. AND 3. Be tactful and respectful when suggesting changes to the other person. After all, you’re both working for the same goal -- producing the best book you possibly can, so that the readers will be moved, thrilled, and put it on the "keeper shelf" with the rest of their most treasured reads.

Voila. That’s it. The secret recipe.

Happy writing.

C.T. Adams

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

GUEST BLOGGER: Diane Whiteside

Gardens of Flowers and Ideas

Hello there! Thanks for inviting me to join you at The Romance Readers’ Connection.

I’m currently huddled indoors by the fire, indulging in my favorite wintertime pastime: choosing plants for my garden. Okay, I’m thumbing through tiny pictures in catalogues and on websites, and the little darlings will be thinner than my thumb when they arrive around Easter. But one day, they’ll be big and strong and glorious, standing tall in my yard.

It’s rather similar to what I go through when I start a book. I usually know roughly who my hero and heroine are, plus when they live. (Think of that as being close to the dimension of my yard and what kind of sunshine it has.) After that, I start trying out different ideas to see which ones will work best into a plot – for the big overall conflict (like a tree in a garden), a smaller detail such as the treasure they’re hunting for (like a beautiful rose bush), and so on. If I’m very lucky, a bloom sprouts unexpectedly and thrills me to death.

Gardens are so special to me that I like to sneak them into my books whenever possible. In KISSES LIKE A DEVIL, my latest historical novel, my heroine is a university student who’s turned into a radical by how the steelworkers’ children are mistreated. She lives in a world of beautiful gardens overlooking a pristine mountain lake. But the children play on cobblestone back alleys amid overhanging stone buildings. And then there’s my hero, who’s William Donovan’s son. . . But you’ll have to read the book to find out more!

Today, my garden sleeps under a blanket of snow and ice. My catalogues offers plants that’ll be maybe six inches tall by a quarter of an inch wide when they show up in another two months – or about the size of a good idea. But my creativity is humming along and I’m sure I will be a very happy author and gardener in August, if I take care of my garden well.

What about you? Anybody else like to garden? Does it help you with any other part of your life? Or do you find that creativity in one area strengthens another?

Diane Whiteside

Monday, February 02, 2009


Greetings Romance Readers' Connection Fans!

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm JAMAICA LAYNE, a hot new rising star in the erotic romance market. I had the pleasure of meeting one of TRRC's administrators, Livia, at a book-signing for my latest print release, MARKET FOR LOVE last week in downtown Chicago. Livia invited me to do a post about my book and my writing career in general, and I'm honored to have the opportunity to share some information about myself with TRRC readers.

First of all, my current print release is MARKET FOR LOVE, a Virgin Cheek release that is available in bookstores everywhere, and available on Amazon by clicking here, or BN.com by clicking here. In keeping with the current economic downturn and stock market crash, MARKET FOR LOVE takes place in the high-pressure Chicago financial industry in the midst of---you guessed it----a major stock market crash. The novel opens with protagonist Miranda Johannson having a VERY bad day. The stock market crash has trashed her clients' investment portfolios, to the point that she has just lost eighty-seven million dollars of her clients' money. Humiliated and fearful she will lose her job, Miranda takes a coffee break and heads downstairs to her office building's coffee shop. While there she meets a handsome, mysterious stranger---and despite her strait-laced, conservative nature, Miranda finds herself sneaking off to have an impromptu tryst with this red-hot stranger. Little does she know that the mysterious stranger just bought the company she works for, and will soon become her new boss. The plot just gets thicker (and hotter) from there!

MARKET FOR LOVE is getting rave reviews. ROMANTIC TIMES just rated it 4 stars, and DIRTY GIRL REVIEWS gave it 5 stars, and also commented "once you read Jamaica Layne, she will be on your auto-buy list!" For a complete list of reviews, check out the "What Critics Are Saying" link on my webpage, http://www.jamaicalayne.com/.

In addition to my latest print release, I also write ebooks for new erotica epublisher Ravenous Romance. I currently have 4 books and 2 standalone short stories available at Ravenous, as well as several short stories included in their several currently available anthologies. For a complete list of all my available titles, check out the "My Books" link at http://www.jamaicalayne.com/. (Also be sure to check out "Taking Care of Business", a "lost scene" from MARKET FOR LOVE, which is for sale exclusively at Ravenous Romance!)

A little bit about me----"Jamaica Layne" is a pen name I use for my erotica. In my "other" writing life, I'm a playwright and journalist. My plays have been produced around the US as well as abroad, and I have also contributed journalism and commentary to numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Reader. I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband and son, and I write full-time. Back when I had day jobs, I worked as a journalist, healthcare policy analyst, technical writer, and financial journalist and editor. In fact, it was my days as a financial journalist/editor that inspired me to write MARKET FOR LOVE. My healthcare background comes into play in the VITAL SIGNS series, a five-book erotic medical romance series I'm writing for Ravenous (volume 1 is currently available). I also write time-travel and paranormal erotic romance (such as my Ravenous release KNIGHT MOVES), as well as some kinky S&M stuff (like my Ravenous release A CAPITOL AFFAIR). My own favorite erotic romance authors include Zane, Alison Tyler, Kathryn Harrison, Kate Pearce, and of course, old standbys like Anais Nin.

I will have a lot more new material releasing this year, so be sure to keep your eyes on my website http://www.jamaicalayne.com/ for all the latest news! And thanks so much to Livia and Thia for inviting me to participate on the site.
Remember to always keep things sexy!

"Circle Line" Produced by Mind the Gap Theatre, NYC, October 29-November 1, 2008
MARKET FOR LOVE (writing as "Jamaica Layne") Coming October 14, 2008 from Virgin Books.
KNIGHT MOVES and VITAL SIGNS (writing as "Jamaica Layne") Coming to RavenousRomance.com December 1, 2008
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS. Included in BEST AMERICAN SHORT PLAYS 2004-2005. Forthcoming in 2008 from Applause Books.Visit my blog: http://jillelainehughes.blogspot.com/