Friday, December 28, 2007

Romantic Times 2007 Reviewers' Choice Award Nominees

Romantic Times magazine has announced their 2007 Reviewers' Choice Award Nominees

From the website: "Reviewers' Choice Awards honor the best books of the year. The winners and nominees are selected by our staff of over 50 reviewers representing the readers' voice in the women's fiction industry."

Winners will be presented at the ROMANTIC TIMES AWARDS LUNCHEON on Friday, April 18, 2008.

Congratulations to our 17 nominees!!


Stephanie Rowe
Warner Forever (May 2007)


Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central (November 2007)


Andrea Pickens
Warner Forever (June 2007)


Julie Anne Long
Warner Forever (May 2007)


Amanda Scott
Warner Forever (February 2007)

Paula Quinn
Forever (December 2007)


Elizabeth Hoyt
Warner Forever (April 2007)


Megan Crane
5 Spot (June 2007)

Caprice Crane
5 Spot (August 2007)


Marcia Muller
Warner (July 2007)


Samantha Graves
Warner Forever (April 2007)


Shannon K. Butcher
Warner (February 2007)


Karen Rose
Grand Central (September 2007)


Jacqueline Carey
Warner (June 2007)


Carrie Vaughn
Warner (April 2007)

Jennifer Rardin
Orbit (October 2007)

Lilith Saintcrow
Orbit (November 2007)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Aftermath

I was going to talk about something…and then I noticed the Gerald Butler pictures and completely forgot. Oh yeah, the aftermath.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, especially those with children, you know of what I speak. The house is a disaster because we have all this new stuff that doesn't have a place yet. I keep hearing the thump-thump-thump of a new CD coming from somewhere upstairs. My refrigerator is near bursting with cookies and leftovers and junk food I never usually buy. The bills are piled, unopened in the corner because neither my husband or I have the courage to look at them yet. My teenagers have become vampires who sleep in until noon and play the new Wii until 3 AM. My cat is too exhausted to attack the tree anymore. I have no idea what day it is because I have this week off. I keep debating whether or not to keep the outside Christmas lights on anymore. Is there etiquette for that? And I'm going through serious UPS man withdrawal.

The aftermath. I feel like a deer in the head lights – "I know I should move off the road, but … I can't ... remember …. how …"

Anyway, I hope everyone is slowly but surely recovering from their Christmas hangover and getting geared up for New Year's. All the best to you and yours for 2008.

Samantha Graves

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Insane? You talkin' to ME?????

I do adore the Christmas holiday season. It's the only time of year I can tolerate shopping (believe it or not, there are women on this planet who abhor shopping). But when I get to look for those gifts that will tell my special people just how special they are ... well, it becomes so much less painful -- one could almost say, pleasurable.

HOWEVER, this year I combined the holiday with a December 15 book deadline. And yes, I agreed to this deadline willingly, there was no gun to my head (although now I do realize I was suffering from some sort of Superwoman dementia). Naturally, this book gave me much more trouble during its gestational period and the labor of delivery was exceedingly painful. I'm sure if this deadline had been sometime in the winter doldrums of February and March in Indiana, it would have been an easy-breezy delivery of the most perfect peice of work I've ever written. But like all things worthwhile, this one required some suffering. Time will tell if SEEING RED grows up to be every writer's dream child, outperforming all of my other books -- of if she'll go out there and tear up the world, perhaps ending up on the cover of a tabloid. As with all mother's of new offspring, I'm hoping for the best.

And believe me, I've learned my lesson. I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN.

P.S. Thanks to all of the other authors who posted the yummy photos to soothe my sould as I struggled through this process. (Especially those of my current favorite, Gerard Butler!!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our readers from the authors at Grand Central Cafe. You'll never know how much you mean to us. Without you, our books would not exist. You are appreciated. May your stockings be filled with gifts and your hearts be filled with love!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

All I Want for Christmas is Gerard Butler by Megan

As this is more or less my Blogger Christmas Card this year, I thought I'd post it here too. I think the visual delights outweigh my lack of originality, especially this close to Christmas...

I'm dreaming of a Gerard Butler Christmas, people.

And you know you are too.

Out there fighting for parking places in the malls.

Leaping over small children in line for Santa Claus as you race for that sale at Macy's.

Battling your own financial panic and social ennui as you choose between glossy un-necessities at the Sharper Image and the failsafe baked goods you'd need a free afternoon (or five) to prepare...

Think of Gerard, and be still.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Reading Habits

I was in Walgreens yesterday, picking up a few things. Naturally, I wandered down the magazine/book aisle.
I usually don't buy books in the drug store, or in the grocery store, or anywhere else other than a bookstore. They simply don't have a great selection (at least those around me don't). However, this time around, there on the shelf, was one of James Patterson's books that I was pretty sure I hadn't read yet.

Like I said, I was pretty sure. I've been known to buy a book, only to get it home and discover that I've already read it, or that it's stitting in the TBR pile. The solution to never buying a book twice, of course, is to carry around a rather thick notebook that lists everything I've ever read. I don't think I want to attempt to make such a list -- though it's kind of interesting and fun to watch books accumulate on my Shelfari shelf. Or I could always check to make sure I'm buying a book that's been released in the past couple of months. That way I'd never buy a duplicate of something I read months or even years ago.
But then I'm sure I'd miss out on some great reads. Like the Alex Cross books. I've read most of them, but not all.
And as you may have guessed, I'm reading the series out of order. This doesn't bother me a bit. However, I know people who insist on reading series books in order, who will collect them and put them aside until they have every one before reading any of them.
What do you do with series books? Do you read them as you buy them, or hoard them away for a reading fest when you've collected them all?
Wishing everyone a blessed, joyous Christmas, and a healthy, prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's a Wonderful (Sappy) Life

It happens every holiday season, usually in the midst of the most hectic day of decorating or baking or some other stressful-but-somehow-necessary yuletide preparation. Sometimes I'm dragging tangled Christmas lights through the house, looking for the extension cord. Other times I'm frantically searching for just two more pieces of tape to finish wrapping the last gift so I don't have to resort to the BandAids I've been eyeing in the medicine cabinet.

Someone is flipping through the channels on the TV, and there it is again . . . "It's a Wonderful Life."

I roll my eyes. I must have seen it a dozen times. It's sappy and corny and doesn't even try to be subtle about the MORAL LESSON. And it's in black and white, for heaven's sake.

I mean to pass by. I've got Christmas cards to address, and those cookies for the neighbors aren't going to bake themselves.

I WILL pass by. Right after this funny caught-in-the-bushes-with-no-clothes scene. And George singing "Buffalo Gals" with Mary. And of course, I can't miss that great honeymoon dinner in the dilapidated house in the pouring rain.

After that, I naturally have to see the BLACK MOMENT when Uncle Billy loses the cash that Bailey Building and Loan owes the bank and George realizes he's "worth more dead than alive."

It would be irresponsible to leave off there. I don't want to completely destroy my holiday mood, after all. So I sit through a few more scenes of George in his alternate universe . . . where Mary is a spinster, his brother Harry is dead, and the town has become a den of sin.

Being a romance writer, I'm just not satisfied without a happy ending, so I need to keep watching until George reaches his turning point and finds redemption.

By then, the movie's practically over, so I might as well finish it. The details all come back to me . . . Zuzu's petals, the loose knob at the bottom of the stairs, the loyal townspeople crowding into George's house. No, those aren't tears welling in my eyes as they sing "Auld Lang Syne." Okay, maybe they are. And I find my lips moving along with "every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."

Sigh . . .

The oven has been preheating for three hours, the cards are still unaddressed, and the tree is still bare. But I think I've finally found my Christmas spirit.

So is anyone else a hopeless addict when it comes to "It's a Wonderful Life"?

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007
DANGER'S KISS - Flirting with trouble May 2008

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why Diana Broke Down and Bought a PlayStation by Diana Holquist

Yes, I did it. I bought my son a PlayStation 2. (Don't tell!) Me, the lover of books and hater of electronics. Me, the woman who didn't even have a TV two years ago.

Why did I break down? One word: water. To point: the glass of water my children spilled on my laptop while using it to play computer games. Everyone (including the laptop) survived, but it was dicey for a few days there.

In our little corner of suburbia, everyone has gaming systems. Some families have several. My son said all he wanted for the holidays was a gaming system. He'd even settle, he said, for the lowly Game Cube, whatever the heck that is. He said it while drinking a glass of water. A very full glass of water...

So after a dreary half-hour at a decidedly low-energy Borders filled with folks wandering aimlessly, picking up $23 hardcovers with little enthusiasm and putting them back down, my daughter and I went to GameStop. The place was packed. The folks waiting at the counter were practically salivating for their turn. When I asked the man behind the counter about a used system, the whole store joyously joined the discussion. New or used? Xbox or Playstation? Wiiiiii.......

This was where it was at, I realized. All the cool kids were here. And not just the kids. Hip grandmas were buying Hunt and Kill 27. Cute pony-tailed girls were snatching up Death and Mayhem 3,321. Black, white, Asian, Hispanic. Even two Orthodox Jews, their Tzitzis peeking out under their parkas, were perusing the decidedly unorthodox offerings. This place was rocking!

Are books as over as the lowly Game Cube? The excitement in this place was palpable. There was such fever, such passion. By the time I left, I even wanted the stupid thing. Not that I'll ever touch it. No way. I'm sticking with books--and not the electronic kind, either!

Well, maybe I'll try it just once....

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Wishful Thinking

I don’t know about you, but I’m easy when it comes to presents. Family and friends know I love books. Lush romances, lavish coffee table picture tomes, adventure travel, erudite histories . . . doesn’t matter, I read them all.

This weekend, as I was boxing up the latest overflow from my book shelves, I got thinking . . . if I could choose one REALLY special edition—some rare, valuable literary treasure for my own library—what would it be?

One of the first things that comes to mind is the original manuscript of Jane Eyre that I saw on display at the British Library. It was written in sepia ink, the perfectly spaced copperplate script unmarred by a single cross-out. (That was almost as impressive as the prose. How did she manage to write such a pristine page?!? I shudder to think of what my paper would look . . . thank god for computers.) Also on display was Jane Austen’s laptop writing desk, a cute little varnished wood thing. Talk about inspiration! Actually, my first choice would be the manuscript of Pride And Prejudice. Somehow, I doubt it is for sale.

But many notable books are. Just out of curiosity, I skimmed through some recent copies of The New York Times Book Review, where several notable rare book dealers list what they have available. Here are some of the offerings I found:

Virginia Woolf
, A Room of One’s Own, 1929
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” (I couldn’t resist showing my husband this one!)
Signed limited first edition,one of only 493 signed by Woolf in her characteristic purple ink. An exceptionally fine copy. $3600.

Arthur Rackham, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, 1906
Deluxe signed limited edition., containing 50 stunning color plates. “The glimpses Rackham provides of stylized London reality effectively set off the fairy tale life that exists in unsuspected conjunction with it, and he captures the lovliness of the Gardens themselves with masterly skills.” $15,000.

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1883
Scarce first editio, first state, of Stevenson’s classic. A lovely copy, in the original cloth. $26,000.

Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books, 1884-85
First edition of Kipling’s beloved Jungle Books, two illustrated volumes in lovely original cloth gilt. $6,000.

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, 1843
First edition with hand-colored illustrations by John Leech, the only one of Dickens’ first edition to contain hand-colored illustrations. Beautifully bound in morocco-gilt. $12,500.

Kay Thompson/Hilary Knight, Eloise in Paris, 1957
First edition, inscribed by Knight. $1850

Dr. Seuss, The Cat In The Hat, 1957
“I can hold up these books and the fish on the rake . . .” First edition in the scarce original dust jacket. $9500.

Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven and Other Poems, 1845
“Once upon a midnight dreary . . .” First edition of “the most important volume of poetry that had been issued up to that time in America.: $20,000.

Okay, so if you could choose any rare book to receive as a Christmas present, what would it be?

Happy Holidays,
Andrea Pickens

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Elizabeth is FREEEEEEEE!


That is the semi-hysterical laughter of an author who has turned in her manuscript ON TIME but only by the skin of her teeth.


The manuscript in question is TO SEDUCE A SINNER and will be out in November 2008, by which time I'll probably be sweating bullets over some other manuscript. Sheesh. Meanwhile, my first contemporary, HOT, under the pen name, Julia Harper is out in January--one month away. And, hey! guess what? COSMO is excerpting part of HOT (a sex scene, natch)in its January issue. This brings back fond memories of lying in bed in my college dorm room reading aloud the horoscope and the sex advice column.

Anyhoodles, I'm done. DONE! DONE! DONE! with my manuscript, so I'm off to spend Quality Time with my family (Mom who?) today.

See ya!
Elizabeth Hoyt
Julia Harper

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


No, I'm not talking about saving the cheerleader (though I could. Is that a fascinating show or what?). I'm talking about coming up with and visualizing a hero for my books--especially now that I'm writing for young adults (see ).

I have to ask myself: Is what seems attractive to me as er, well, une femme d'un certain age the same as what might be attractive to the girls who will be reading my books next year? I guess it doesn't matter, because hey, it's my imagination, right? So, here for your reading pleasure are the contemporary stars who inspired my teenage heroes. Because here on this blog, we can cast whoever we want for our books.

So, for It's All About Us, I cast Jared Padalecki, who plays Sam Winchester in The CW's Supernatural, as Kaz Griffin, the boy next door:

Playing against him, as the heroine's rascally boyfriend Callum McCloud (who doesn't deserve her), I have Taylor Kitsch from Friday Night Lights:

And finally, even though he doesn't have a character to play, I still want him on the set. So Jensen Ackles, who plays Dean Winchester on Supernatural, gets to walk on as many times as he wants:

Sigh. I love my job. Truly.

Shelley B., now hanging out at

Monday, November 26, 2007

It's all about the food, baby.

Don't look now, but the holidays are upon us and so is the great food. Whoever put all these holidays one after the other owned a weight-loss clinic.

Anyway, I figured I'd share my favorite cookie recipe with you all. I'll see if I can get our other authors to share theirs too!

Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine (not butter)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 bag chocolate chunks
1 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 325F.
Beat margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Mix in flour, baking powder and salt.
Stir in chocolate chunks and walnuts.
Shape dough into 2 (14x1 1/2 inch) slightly-flattened logs.
Place 2 inches apart on a greased and floured cookie sheet.
Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned.
Place on a cutting board and cool 5 minutes.
Using serrated knife, cut each log into diagonal slices about 3/4 inch thick.
Place slices upright on a cookie sheet 1/2 inch apart.
Bake 10 minutes or until slightly dry.
Cool on Wire racks.

Happy holidays!
Samantha Graves

Friday, November 23, 2007

Seen Any Good Movies Lately

Hey, I want to get a good discussion going about movies. I love the movies. I still adore going to the theatre, snuggling up next to my sweetie in the dark, sharing a bag of fattening, overpriced popcorn and being entertained while the story unfolds.

Unfortunately life has intervened lately. Family stuff. You know the bad family stuff. Emergency, take-precedent-over-normal-life-routine stuff. It's been one of the rolling snowball kind of years where things seem to pick up speed as they go from bad to worse.

I've missed my movies. I've put them on the back burner by necessity, but now I realize if I want to hang onto my sanity in the midst of these dark days I need some small measure of creature pleasures, stolen in bits and pieces when I can.

So has anyone seen any good movies? At the theatre? Or DVD? I did manage to see Ratouille and I loved it. That's what made me wish for more great escapes.

Help me out here, folks. I'm famished for my movie fixes.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Sexiest Men - Shari's Version!

Okay, now that you young ones are drooling over the People nominees, I'm presenting my own nominations. Yes, these men are a bit older. And I'd bet that a few of them have been nominated for the People honor in the past.

I narrowed my selections down from a dozen. It was tough, but somebody had to do it. Here they are, in no particular favorite's order.

Robert Redford -- Still very watchable and drool-worthy in my opinion.

Tom Brokaw - I still miss him.

Kevin Kostner - Those eyes. OMG, those eyes!

Rutger Hauer - I fell in love with him watching Ladyhawke.

Sean Connery - Nobody does it better.

Those are my Top Picks. Maybe I should suggest to the AARP magazine that those of us of a certain age would love to see a Sexiest Man Alive contest of our own! Wonder how far I'd get with that! LOL!!!

You are hereby invited to make your own nominations in the comment section. Bet we could come up with quite a list.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Matt Damon is People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Is He Yours? by Diana Holquist

Well, there it is. Matt Damon, People magazine 2007 Sexiest Man Alive.

When I saw it, my heart sank. And I HATE to write "my heart sank" for two reasons.

One, I'm a romance writer, so I HATE cliches like sinking hearts.

Two, I adore Matt Damon, but I was pulling so hard for my man Beckham and for all those CRAZY, fun, funny Gerard Butler fans who I've met these last few weeks as they voted (and voted and voted) in the Sexiest Man Alive poll.

Over 1200 votes in. Mr. Butler's the big winner with my poll, Gerry Army. (Watch out for these guys; they're serious.)

Anyway, on with the show, I suppose. But why do I feel so sad?

Was I won over by the Gerry fans who are SO passionate about their man? Was it deeper: a sadness for myself facing the reality that it's tough out there and our babies can't always win? I should be happy, in a way, because this proves that novels are infinitely better than magazines, as we can read a novel and imagine whomever we please as the hero. Matt. Brad. Gerry. David....

Ah, David....

Oh. Sorry. Got distracted.

Anyway, I have no answers. Don't know. I'll have to head out and get the issue.

Anyone read it yet? What do you all think? Damon? Hmmm...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yorkshire Blogging

“How do you research your stories?”

Writing medievals, that's a question I get a lot. Since I'm sequestered behind my desktop computer most of the time, my answer is invariably books and Google. True, sometimes I emerge from my cave to attend Scottish festivals and Renaissance fairs, where I chat with re-enactors, who provide me with great practical details for my historical writing.

But the best research of all is travel. Once in a while, I'm treated to a really wonderful hands-on experience and actually have the opportunity to visit the places I write about—okay, maybe not the 12th century, but a reasonable facsimile. This month, I've stowed away on the band's bus for my husband's two-week concert tour of Britain!

Today we're in the well-preserved medieval village of York, or Jorvik, as it was known by the Vikings who settled here in the Dark Ages. It's possible to circle almost the entire town by ambling along the stone wall-walk that surrounds it, gazing inward across the maze of cobbled streets and peering out the arrow slits for invading armies. The imposing cathedral of Yorkminster rises in the midst of the city, and the gleaming towers of York Castle sit atop a grassy mound nearby.

But the most charming and evocative area of York for me is the Shambles. The Shambles refers to a quaint district where two- and three-story medieval shops lean over the almost impassably narrow roads. Wandering down the rocky lanes with their hidden passageways and twisting alleys, it's easy to hear the cries of medieval craftsmen hawking their wares from the lath-and-plaster smell the heady scent of ale and peat-smoke wafting from the imagine the sly nudge of a wench with a dagger cutting one's purse and dashing down the lane through the crush of cloaked passersby, a handsome lawman striding past in determined pursuit.

See what I mean? Travel is the best research, not for the dry historical facts, but for the impressions and flavors and memories that seem to resonate from the very stones. It's true “inspiration,” which means literally “breathing in.” When I travel, I can inhale the atmosphere of times past and bring it home with me to breathe life into my stories. Interesting...“Inspiration” also happens to be the name of the tour bus!

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007
DANGER'S KISS - May 2008

Friday, November 02, 2007

Do Romance Readers Like a Different Sort of Man? by Diana Holquist

When you write a book called Sexiest Man Alive you spend more time than most thinking about what makes a man sexy. But now, with the People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue just days away (November 16th!), I’m doing more than thinking. I’m polling.

So far, with almost 800 votes counted, who do romance readers think should be People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive 2007..?

Hint: “…eat hearty…for tonight…we dine…IN HELL!!!”

Or should that be in Hades, all you history buffs?

Yes, Gerard Butler, the shirtless Spartan from 300 is so far ahead in the poll, it’s, well, it’s as if he has an army behind him.

But here's the really interesting thing: The usual suspects—Clooney, Pitt, Depp, Damon—they hardly show at all.

Which is making me wonder, do romance fans like a different sort of man from most of the female population? What do you think sets romance fans apart in their appraisal of sexy men? Who do you think should be People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive?

There’s still time to vote in this unofficial, yet very scientific poll.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Elizabeth Answers Her Mail!

A suggestion has been made that I spend entirely too much time on this blog obsessed with beefcake and that I will use the thinnest excuse possible to post pics of sexy guys. To which I reply, "Pshaw! I merely study the male form the better to write Insightful, Deeply Sensitive books about Love."

Which brings me to today's mail:

Dear Ms. Hoyt,
I've noticed that you often describe your heroes as having deep, gravelly, or otherwise very sexy voices. I wonder if you might give me an example of actors that, in your opinion, have sexy voices.
An Insightful And Deeply Sensitive Reader

Glad you asked, AIADSR! I often take note of actors who have an especially beautiful voice. For example, recently I was watching the second season of ROME, which frankly is just a tad depressing, what with the murders, rape, and not much male nudity, and I noticed how lovely Kevin McKidd's voice is. Note: because sound is hard to post on blogs, I have been forced to post Kevin's pic. Those of you tired of male pulchritude will simply have to avert your eyes.

There. Wasn't that bracing?

Then there is Paul Blackthorne, who plays the title character in THE DRESDEN FILES which, apparently, has been cancelled. DRESDEN FILES Producers take note: had you simply found reason to take off Mr. Blackthorne's shirt, I feel sure you would still be employed today.

Sometimes a male actor's voice can be so appealing that it steals the show, so to speak. I found this to be the case with Liev Schreiber when he had a secondary part in LEOPOLD AND KATE, a movie that had a multitude of problems, not least among them, Meg Ryan's hair.

Finally, I come to perhaps the most perfect male voice of all, a voice so deep, so gravelly, so utterly sexy women have been known to be reduced to puddles of lust when he reads from the vacuum cleaner manual:


Friday, October 26, 2007

Winners of ONCE SMITTEN arc

Pam and Lila won the drawing for the ARCs. E-mail me your address at to claim you book. Congratulations ladies. Thanks to everyone who participated.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Now THAT'S scary

I'm not much of a fan of Halloween. I can't even tell you why. I like kids, I like candy, I like dressing up. I just don't like Halloween.

And it's not because it scares me. There are things in every day life that scare me far more. Here are just a few:

Getting audited by the IRS

Am I the only one with that on the top of the list? I think not.

Getting stuck in an elevator

Has this ever happened to me? No. But I've had enough weird elevator dreams to worry about it. Don't ask.

Getting stuck in an elevator with my mother in law

I love my MIL. I just don't want to get stuck in an elevator with her.

Having my favorite bra discontinued

If you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Running out of coffee

This is on the list because I just did. So you can imagine what kind of mood I’m in right now. Actually, I think this is my family's top fear, not mine.

Mom stuff

Where are the kids? Are they safe? Are they healthy? Are they staying off drugs? You know. Mom stuff.

No one will like my book

Yes, I'm a writer and I'm tough. But this one scares me far more than you can imagine. Far more than Halloween, in fact. Probably should move this near the top of the list.

Okay, I'm off to buy coffee. Have a safe and happy Halloween for those of you who love it. Me? I'm just sticking with kids and candy and dressing up.

Samantha Graves

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Book Giveaway!

Hey gang,

I'm giving away an advance reading copy of my next book for Grand Central Publishing. It's the second book in my Wedding Veil Wishes series.

The best thing about writing a series is that you get to visit old friends again and again. Starting ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY was like coming home after a long journey as I reconnected with characters from my WEDDING VEIL WISHES series.

I just loved getting to know impulsive, but generous-to-the-bone, wedding videographer, Tish Gallagher better. Boy, did she have some surprises in store for me.

She didn’t make things easy for me either, when, in order to pay her credit card bills, she wishes on a magic veil and her greatest wish comes true in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime job—filming the first daughter’s wedding. Clearly, Tish had no idea how much presidential research was involved or she didn’t care that I’d be burning the midnight oil trying to find out what the inside of Air Force One looked like. Or how the Secret Service operated. Characters can be so selfish, no sympathy for us poor authors.

But hehe! I got even with her. Because Tish gets a big surprise when she finds out the President’s daughter is marrying the ex-husband she never stopped loving, Secret Service Agent Shane Tremont. And finances won’t let her walk away from the job, no matter how much she might want to.

Problem is, although he’s about to walk down the aisle with the President’s daughter, Shane still loves Tish too!

I was half-way through the book when I figured out why these two—who are so obviously meant for each other—broke up in the first place. What I discovered had me shedding a tear or two. So fair warning, you might need a hanky for this one because when you wish on the wedding veil, it’s not the wish you think you want that comes true. It’s the secret wish of your heart.

If you'd like to be entered in a drawing for the book, just post here and I'll draw two names on Friday!


Reaping the Rewards

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of sitting alone day after day with only your computer and your imaginary friends for company, you don't have any idea how much the little things count. I mean, I've been slogging through my current work in progress for months. I'm so far from finishing that I could sit in a corner and cry.

But then I received the artwork for the cover for the book I just finished and, ta-da! I'm energized. I'm invigorated. I actually think there's a remote possibility that I'll get my current book done by its deadline.

Amazing what one little jpeg file can do.

I'm totally thrilled with this cover. This is my first romantic suspense (all of my previous books have been considered women's fiction with a dash of mystery or suspense) and this cover captures the book perfectly. PITCH BLACK won't be released until June, but I'm so excited it feels like I'm waiting for Christmas.

Now, while I'm still on my new-cover high, I'd better get back to work!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Sometimes one must suffer in order to experience bliss.

Last Saturday, along with trusty navigator Victoria Hinshaw, I braved Chicago traffic in order to take a seminar at the Newberry Library.

The seminar was worth every teeth-gnashing, brake-wearing moment on the freeway.

For those who aren't familiar with this renowned facility, the Newberry is a non-circulating research library, focusing on the humanities. One must be seated in one of the reading rooms in order to get one's hands on the books. One can actually get one's unworthy bare hands on an illuminated medieval manuscript.

Those who've read THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE will recognize the Newberry as the place where Henry DeTamble works when he's not time traveling.

After a short presentation on the history of the library, we took a tour. The guide showed us the reading rooms, explained how to request materials from the librarians, and then took us back into the stacks. Oh, bliss. Oh, rapture! Oh, now I know why I didn't become a librarian. I'd get my butt fired for hiding away in a corner with some new treasure I'd found.

Then came lunch in a Thai restaurant before heading back to the reading room to try out our new skills. Yes, everything worked just the way we were told, and I was soon immersed in old books and maps. The afternoon buzzed by way too quickly.

I know I'm going back, but next time I may take the train.
I have a friend who proposes that every day one should take a risk. Do something that makes you a bit uncomfortable. Driving through Chicago makes me Very Uncomfortable! But I do it on occassion if the pay off is worth it. What was the last thing you did that you were a little afraid to do but were glad you did it?
Shari Anton

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Dose of Reality

Normally I'm not a big fan of reality shows. They're not "real," for one thing. If they were, they'd be far more boring. But my daughter has inadvertently gotten me hooked on "Beauty & The Geek."

You see, she's going to be in the prom episode next week (I TOLD you they weren't real), but since we weren't sure which show she was in until now, I've been watching the thing for two weeks.

Have you seen it? The Beauties seem to have the collective IQ of a gnat (one of them couldn't properly identify the location of the ear lobe), and the Geeks are more awkward than a herd of giraffes on skates.

Nonetheless, I patiently sat through the melodramatic introductions of the players and the painful pairing off that reminded me all too well of being chosen last for the basketball team. I watched the inane challenges of knowledge and social graces as the couples attempted to mold their partners into more centered human beings.

And you know what?It worked.

Some of the Geeks began to emerge from their shells to test drive their inner suave. Some of the Beauties started to develop a respect for intelligence. The forced fraternization actually DID result in better understanding between the two factions.


When you think about it, I guess that's how we write romances. You lock the hero and heroine in a room and let them explore their similarities and differences. Contrast and compare. Voila! Happy ending.

Do you suppose we could achieve world peace like that?

If you want to catch a glimpse of my daughter (who is both a Beauty AND a Geek), watch the show this Tuesday night on the WB (just don't blink).

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Who Will Be the Sexiest Man Alive for 2007? by Diana Holquist

Ah, fall. Time to turn our thoughts to school lunches. Radiant foliage. And, most importantly, People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive for 2007.

Yes, the issue comes out November 19th and since I've given a bit of thought to what makes a man sexy (yeah, I wrote a whole book about it), I thought I'd put in my early prediction.


Remember, you heard it here first:

My husband.

(Hi honey!)

My second choice?

David Beckham.

There really isn't much more to say, is there?

I know, I know, "bench it like Beckham" and "worst team in the league" and all that.

But this isn't really about soccer, now is it?

What do you think? Who should be the sexiest man alive for 2007?

check out my website for excerpts, reviews and more!
And if you're thinking about picking up a copy of Sexiest Man Alive (in stores THIS WEEK!), please be careful. We've been hearing all sorts of reports of disturbances. One store caught this unfortunate scene on videotape:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Georgie Lee won!

Georgie Lee,

You won the ARC of ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY. To claim your prize, just send me your mailing address to

Thanks so much to everyone who participated!


Monday, September 24, 2007

What's the Deal With Adultry?/Book Giveaway

Okay, I'm a writing teacher. I teach online a new class every month at called Romance Writing Secrets. These students supposedly love romance and claim to read, read, read it. And yet, every single class there are a handful of students who turn in assigments where the hero and heroine are cheating on their spouses with each other.

Argghhhhh! Each and every class I have to lecture them that adultry isn't sexy and you know what? They disagree with me. These people are supposed to be romance readers. I can count on one hand the number of romance novels I've read where the hero or heroine committed adultry. Actually, just one. Sandra Brown's Texas Lucky. But well, she's Sandra Brown and she handled it really, really well.

So is it just me? Am I a prude? Is there really something sexy about adutry? Because honestly all I can see is hurt and pain and suffering. I can't see anything sexy about it all. My personal take on adultry is if the marriage ain't working, either go for counseling or get out of it. Don't screw around. That's petty and hurtful. But once again, that's JMHO.

What about you? Do you think adultry in romance is somehow thrilling? Is the allure of the taboo worth the pain affairs cause? Is adultry ever acceptable? Would you read a romance where there's adultry? Can you think of a romance were the hero or heroine committed adultry and it was handled well?

I need help coming up with ammunition against the hero or heroine of a romance committing adultry. But I also want to know if you think. Am I small minded and off base on this? I don't want to be out of touch if this is a trend. Although I seriously hope this hasn't become acceptable behavior.

Anyway, I'm interested in hearing what you have to say. To thank you for your help, I'm giving away an ARC of my next book from Grand Central, ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY. Weigh in by Thursday Sept. 27 for a chance to win.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Congratulations to Karen Rose!!!

Karen Rose's latest romantic suspense novel DIE FOR ME has hit the New York Times printed bestseller's list at #20!!!

Congratulations Karen!!! Woo hoo!! All of your fellow Grand Central Publishing authors are raising a glass for you! Cheers to a wonderful book and continued success!!!

Check out Karen's chilling book trailer for this exciting bestselling book!

Learn more about Karen and her books at!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What's in a Name?

The hard labor is over. It was touch and go for a while, but at last my book has been born. A nice, healthy 450-page tome with one man, one woman, and a happy ending.

Now if I could only come up with a name for my new baby. Something better than "Contractual Obligation #4."

You would think that someone who could write an 85,000-word novel could come up with two or three more words to slap onto the cover, but it's not as easy as it sounds.

I've had seven books published, and not one of them bears a name I chose. Title selection is obviously not my strong point. And believe me, I'm not one of those people who would name a baby Apple or Moon Unit.

I suppose part of the problem is it's hard to be objective about one's own writing. I'm not sure if my books are darkly dramatic or lightheartedly funny. To me, they're both. I just write what I like. But I'm sure my publisher has some clear ideas about how they want to market my books.

My last three books were dubbed "Lady Danger," "Captive Heart," and "Knight's Prize." I like those titles. Okay, so "Knight's Prize" had neither a knight nor a prize, but no one seemed to mind, and it sounds so deliciously medieval.

The perfect title would encapsulate romance and adventure and drama and humor, wrapping it all in a swirling cloak of chivalry. Now, try doing that in under 25 words. Oh, and make sure it hasn't been used by another author in the last decade.

Of course, as soon as I start brainstorming with my family, everyone gets silly. Since my hero is a lawman who presides over the gallows, and my heroine is a scam artist, I come up with "Lord of Penance." My husband hears "Lord of the Pants," which starts up a rousing rendition of "Riverdance." "Master of Shackles" is too kinky-sounding, so my son suggests "The Fluffy, Pretty, Nice Lady Story." When my daughter offers up "The Neck-Snapper's Bride," I inform them I no longer need their help.

For a minute, I even resort to the Romance Novel Title Generator online. Don't bother, unless you want your next book to be called, "The Well-Becoiffed Werewolf" or "The Bedevilled Thighs."

I like "Sleight of Heart." So does my editor. It's romantic and suggests the heroine's profession. It doesn't sound strictly medieval, but I'm not sure how important that is, since the cover art will reflect the setting. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be aren't crazy about it. I'm at wit's end. Hmmm..."At Wit's End."

Sigh. "Contractual Obligation #4" is looking better and better all the time...

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Join the Slacker Club

Or perhaps I should call us Slackers Anonymous?

Hello, my name is Susan and I'm a Slacker. There. I've said it.

I openly admit to letting the duties of daily life slip by while I indulge in a novel that makes me feel way better than cooking or clean clothes ever did. I DO sit at my computer and polish my fingernails instead of writing. I munch Cheetos instead of exercising. I elect to sweep up the dog hair when it reaches levels that threaten our health, instead of routinely brushing the dog. I sit on the swing in my back yard and listen to the crickets when I should be unloading the dishwasher. I have to put in twenty hour days as my book deadline approaches because I wanted to spend more time thinking about my story than writing it.

But to be perfectly honest, I don't really think I want to do anything about it. I like being a Slacker. (Ooh, so Slackers Anonymous probably wouldn't be the best choice after all.) Since my children are grown and my husband should be able to take care of himself, none of my slackerness affects anyone but me.

That said, I'm going to try to eliminate my one slacker-activity that might affect other people. I started this new policy a few weeks ago, and so far, I'm sticking with it. I, the self-admitted Slacker that I am, will not use drive through windows. I will not sit in the ninety degree heat letting my car engine run, burning up gas and polluting the air to get my Diet Coke. I will not clog up the line at the drive-thru pharmacy when there are mothers with sick children needing to pick up medicine. I will actually locate a parking place (which are normally within fifty feet of the door I need to enter) and drag my lazy self out of the car and walk inside.

The results have been surprising, really. Not only do I feel better, I sometimes make it in and out before the guy who was ahead of me in the drive up line at Starbucks even gets to order his coffee. I admit it. I'm feeling pretty smug as I leave with my latte.

Now don't get me wrong. I intend to stick with the rest of my Slacker ways ... at least for now.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Summer reading . . . and beyond by Andrea Pickens

Though summer doesn’t officially end until the middle of September, this past weekend traditionally marks the end of the season. I always find it strange how talk of reading seems to fade along with the suntans. The hype of “beach books” and “summer reads” only happens in for three months . . .as if we don’t turn the pages in other months.

I’m not a big one for roasting in the sun anymore, so sitting in the sand isn’t my idea of how to enjoy a book. I’d much rather curl up in front of a cozy fire. I also find the shorter days of winter also are more conducive to reading than summertime, maybe because as a child I would read late into the night with book and flashlight hidden under the covers. But that said, I don’t find that the seasons affect my reading habits at all. I read rain or shine, hot or cold, light or dark.

So I’m wondering: does anyone else have a favorite season for reading? Does anyone NOT read during certain times of the year? And does the season affect your choice of subjects

Monday, September 03, 2007

Vampire Romances, Serpent Princes, and the Sexiest Man Alive by Diana Holquist

There's been an interesting discussion on the Grand Central author's loop about whether or not there really are serpents in Elizabeth Hoyt's Serpent Prince. The answer is, more or less, no. If you've ever read any of Elizabeth's Prince books (and if you haven't, you should go out and read one of them immediately...), a fairy tale accompanies the main story as chapter headers and this fairy tale just happens to concern a man who can change himself into a serpent.

In other words, don't be afraid--even if you are afraid of serpents. It'll be okay.

Now me, I'm mostly afraid of vampires. But since vampire romances are the hottest thing since, well, The Serpent Prince, every so often I try to read one. I started with a Maggie Shayne classic. Big mistake. SCARY. The dude, the hero, was frightening. Or was it just that I'm a big, huge-o wimp? It's okay, you can tell me.

So, I went straight to Mary Janice Davidson. These are light, funny vampire romances. (Light, funny vampire romances--read that sentence slowly...) But still, I was grossed out. There was all this biting and blood kinda just, you know, casually in the background. Why can't I get past this? Because as Maggie Shayne is a great suspense writer, Mary Janice Davidson is FUNNY. Yet still, I couldn't read the things.

My new release (one month away...!!!!), Sexiest Man Alive, is about a woman who is afraid of sexy men. She can't go near them. So when she finds out that a Gypsy prophecy says her One True Love is People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive, she's in big trouble. She has to overcome her fear. She has to risk everything to find out if this man is the man for her.

So, I guess I should go for it too.

What vamp romance should I read? I just tried Bite Me by Lyndsay Sands and had to stop after the heroine is covered, crusted even, in blood for the first 50 pages. Ewwwww.....!!!!!!

I'm afraid. Very, very afraid.