Showing posts with label Harlequin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Harlequin. Show all posts

Friday, February 7, 2014

National Wear Red Day & New Covers!

Happy Friday and National Wear Red Day!

Yesterday, I wrote a post at the Harlequin Heartwarming Authors blog called:

Be a Heroine: Go Red for Women

It explains why Go Red for Women and National Wear Red Day are so important in spreading awareness and fighting heart disease in women...the #1 killer of women. I'm at risk. Are you? Love your heart and check out the post and all the links I included.

ALSO...(drum roll for cover fashion show)

As you all know, my debut, The Promise of Rain, released in North America on January 1st, 2014. Since Harlequin Heartwarming is a new line, up until now, its books have been available everywhere that sells digital/ebooks, but only available in print through Well...February 1st was the official UK/Australia release day and today, Feb. 7th, is release day for a test run of Harlequin Heartwarming in print overseas (UK)!!! Therefore, you can now buy the print version off Amazon UK. You'll notice the covers are slightly different depending on where you buy it, but here are the links (note: as I'm writing this, the Amazon UK site hasn't switched from pre-order on print but it should soon)...

Original cover (North America): 

Mills & Boon AUS:

Mills & Boon AUS duo in print with Amy Vastine's The Weather Girl:

Mills & Boon UK:

So what do you think of the cover variations? Which one do you like best? I've had readers telling me that they wish they could walk into a book store and buy a print copy. Do you gravitate towards ebooks or do you like the 'brick and mortar' book store experience?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Release schedule and more!

(Note: Links in the following schedule will be updated regularly as events go live.)

It's the last Monday in 2013! That means that, in just two days, The Promise of Rain releases and I'm starting to celebrate and spread New Year's wishes early. Today, I'm at my first blog stop over at Jennifer Shirk's Me, My Muse and I blog. Jennifer's 'place' quickly became one of my favorite when I first began blogging. She's so incredibly welcoming. It feels surreal to be over there as a guest author. Come visit!

And I have more blog stops and events coming up (and I promise you'll find out something new about me or The Promise of Rain at each one):

Tuesday, Dec 24 - Goodreads Giveaway (ended with 1234 entries - according to my email notice :)
Thursday, Dec 26 - The Heartwarming Authors (blog post and giveaway last week)
Monday, Dec 30 - Me, My Muse and I (guest post)
Wednesday, Jan 1st - New Year's and Release Day! - USA Today's HEA blog (Come discover what my 'Three Things' are!)
January - Debut author spotlight at (interview)
Sat-Fri, Jan 4-10 - Free Book Friday (interview and giveaway)
Sunday, Jan 5 - I'm on USAToday's HEA's list of 'Brrrrrilliant! Newer contemporaries to warm you up!'
Monday, Jan 6 - The Hot Pink Typewriter (interview and giveaway)
Friday, Jan 10 - Pebble In The Still Waters (interview)
Saturday, Jan 11 - Heartwarming Authors blog (interview)
Monday, Jan 13 - Under the Tiki Hut (guest post and giveaway)
Thursday, Jan 16 - The Heartwarming Authors blog game: Who's Who in Heartwarming?
Friday, Jan 17 - The Chocolate Box (guest post on the Harlequin Heartwarming line)
Friday, Jan 17 - Harlequin's So-You-Think-You-Can-Write SOLD! blog (guest post)
Friday, Jan 31 - The Pink Heart Society (guest post and giveaway)

Also coming in January:

USA Today's HEA blog - catch my interview with Harlequin author Barbara Wallace

And in February:

Look for the article on my life's journey to becoming a writer in Harlequin's Simply Books magazine!

USA Today's HEA blog - catch my interview with Harlequin author Melinda Curtis

I have some other stops and events in the works as well and I'll update the list soon. I'll also add links as I get them.

Wishing you all an extraordinary 2014!

(Note: Here for my Jan 1st Twitter Release Day $25 giftcard giveaway? Just follow me on Twitter, follow this blog and leave a PG-rated comment below stating your favorite wildlife critter or a New Year's resolution...and your contact info or Twitter handle. Winner picked and announced at 9pm Jan 1, 2014 EST)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Harlequin Community Open House, Giveaways and more!

I'm over at the Harlequin Community Open House (Day 4) today along with my fellow Heartwarming authors! Come join the fun and GIVEAWAYS. Win an ornament from a Heartwarming author: or win a Harlequin Heartwarming book: There are tons of other fun things going on with authors from Superromance, Special Edition and more!

Also, I'm FINALLY on TWITTER! I'll get follow me button up soon, but for those of you eager to celebrate my induction into modern times I'm at And don't laugh...I'm still getting used to using # and @ LOL.

And don't forget (or feel free to spread the word ;) Goodreads Giveaway for The Promise of Rain ends on Christmas Eve!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Cover Reveal and more!

It's here! The cover reveal for my debut Harlequin Heartwarming, The Promise of Rain (January 2014) is finally here!

 And every time I look at it I get all bubbly inside. I love everything about it. The brilliant team who put it together captured so many elements that are significant in the story, including the tree, the elephants in the background and the overall sense of family. Families torn apart by trauma and the struggle to rebuild those relationships is a prominent theme in The Promise of Rain, so it's perfect that the cover 'promises' and captures the sense of serenity, family and happily ever after that the characters almost miss out on. And those characters include 'heartwarming' little ones, like the baby elephant and the little girl, Pippa.

And what better way to celebrate a cover reveal than to ring in the fall with some romantic fun? Turns out, I'm a bit of a scarecrow matchmaker. Check out the scarecrow couple I conjured up as part of a Harlequin event. I promise you'll get a kick out of it ;). Check out my craftiness HERE (I'm the last one)!

See you around!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Projects and Posts

It is one blustery day in my area...a sure sign that November is around the bend. The Farmer's Almanac said we'd be in for a cold Halloween in the mid-Atlantic, and now I believe it. But I'm going to bundle up and brave the wind because I need to finish a Fall project that will be part of a fun week at starting October 28. Be on the lookout for a link to what I'm conjuring up!

Also, I'm now on Goodreads! I've added links in the right sidebar and on my website.

And today you can find me at The Heartwarming Authors Blog. I warn you, it's a sad post. Earlier this week, Millie, a little kitten abandoned at Harlequin's door and taken in by my editor, passed away. She was the cutest little thing, as you'll see in the pics.

She'll be missed by all.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

RWA Nationals 2013

RWA Nationals in Atlanta was AWESOME and, as always, I'm here to share pics! This was my fifth Nationals meeting and getting to wear that pink 'Sold' ribbon on my name tag was super cool. We all know romance writers are such warm and supportive souls, so there wasn't a hall or room I passed through where someone didn't see the ribbon and say congrats. Thanks to you all for making me feel so special :).

I had the chance to meet so many incredible people I couldn't possibly list everyone's name here. Actually, I feel guilty about that because I loved meeting every one of you (you know who you are) but in the rush to get these pics up for everyone to enjoy, I'm mortified that I might forget to mention I'm mostly going to stick with who is in the pics...but know that every hello and every minute of chatting with each of you was special to me and I won't forget any of it.

First of all, I felt like I was on cloud nine the entire meeting, so I'll start with a photo I took from my plane window on the way to Atlanta. The photo doesn't do justice to the incredible storm we flew over.
I stayed at the conference hotel, The Marriot Marquis, and every elevator boasted book covers. I'm kicking myself for not getting a picture of the elevator with chapter mate and historical author Michelle Willingham's latest cover (hers are always incredible) and so many other authors, but another absolutely gorgeous one is fellow Harlequin Heartwarming author, Tara Randel's cover for Orange Blossom Brides.

One of the first people I met in person (we'd met on the Harl. forums) was Harlequin forum moderator, and total sweetie, Danica. She just sold to Harlequin Love Inspired so we both got to wear 'Sold' ribbons :).
I had a incredible view from my 44th floor room window, but as you can see in the second pic, there was a storm brewing...

One that yours truly got caught in, along with best buddies Superromance authors Kimberly Van Meter (she's taking the pic) and Jeannie Watt (left), writer Jamie Steinman and me. We wore those disposable rain ponchos (bags) as we ventured through the city, got up close and personal with MARTA (a transit system adventure), and got lost in the rain. Given the chuckles and head turns we earned, I think we sort of stood out...especially when something like five cars in a row drove through a flooding gutter along the road and sent tidal waves of water all over us. Don't let the bags fool jeans in the pic are soaking wet. However, given the heat and humidity, we all got a nice sauna spa treatment in that plastic LOL. We had the best time and laughed to tears on that adventure ;).

I also had the chance to see my friend Superromance author Cathryn Parry, who is such a sweet and genuine person. She not only gave a great workshop with author Dani Collins, but also won a Bookseller's Best Award for The Long Way Home! Congrats, Cathryn!
And for those of you who hang out at, you know how lovely Jayne Hoogenberk is online and what a beautiful and inviting community she manages. Well, you should meet her in person. She's an incredible hostess who clearly loves Harlequin and its authors...and she always looks so classy and elegant...even in pj's (but I didn't get her pic at the Harleqin PJ Party, so you'll have to trust me on that).
Jayne Hoogenberk and me
But I did get some PJ party pics!

H. Love Inspired author Barbara Phinney sporting party accessories
Harlequin Romance authors Donna Alward and Shirley Jump. Two fantastic and fun ladies.
Me and Donna. You know how with some people it feels as if you've known each other since elementary school? :)
Okay, now let me give you a little back story on the next pj party pic. My dear friend Jeannie Wattt runs marathons and recently ran with a team all dressed in pink tutu's...even the guys. They called themselves the Tutu Twains ;). Anyway, those of us who hang at the Harlequin Superromance forum dared her to show up to the PJ party in said tutu...and not only did she do it...she won a cool Canada mug as a PJ prize :). And I was shocked when I got a mug too for being one of the forums newest authors! 

Jeannie Watt in her tutu
Danica wearing her awesome 'I brought the awesome. What did you bring?' t-shirt (LOL)...and moi.

I also had the chance to meet online friend Superromance author Kris Fletcher. Kris is such a cool person!

And fellow Heartwarmer (what I like to call we Harlequin Heartwarming authors ;) Karen Rock...I can't remember who snuck the bunny ears in that one lol.

And the most special reunion of the trip...Jeannie, my editor Victoria Curran and me (below). Without Jeannie and Victoria, I wouldn't have a book coming out in January! All Harlequin editors are top notch in the industry, but I believe Victoria is truly gifted at what she does. Her remarkable insight, understanding and the time she took to nurture and guide me as a writer (even when I was a newbie several years ago) made all the difference. I'm a lucky gal!
Superromance author Jeannie Watt, Senior Editor Harlequin Heartwarming Victoria Curran, and me
Me, Jeannie Steinman and dear friend, Superromance author and owner of Blue Otter Editing, Amy Knupp
And another with Amy, Victoria and Jeannie below. (I'm skirting captions because blogger isn't cooperating)

Thank you Jayne, Danica and Sarah (sorry I missed getting a pic with you) for hosting such a great party!

On Thursday I attended the Harlequin Heartwarming Open House with Jeannie...the same open house she took me to last year when I pitched the story that ended up selling. It was a surreal moment, having come full circle to the same event that landed me a contract. And I think I blushed to death as Victoria Curran told my story to all the writers in the room. Fingers crossed for all of this year's pitchers!

On Friday, Heartwarming editors Victoria Curran and Kathryn Lye were beyond generous when they took all the Heartwarming authors at Nationals to a divine dinner before the famous Harlequin Party. Heartwarmer Cynthia Reese couldn't make it and was missed, but pictured from left front to back are: Cindi Myers, Jennifer Snow, me, and Melinda Curtis...then right front to back are: Tara Randel, Victoria Curran, Kathryn Lye and Karen Rock.

We then burned off all those calories by dancing at the Harlequin Party. Let me tell you, it was my first time and it was the BEST party ever!!! and Jeannie...

Me and Harlequin American author Megan Kelly. If you read my interview with her, you'll remember that Megan was the author who reached out at my very first Nationals meeting in DC and met me for dinner just to answer questions and make me feel welcome. I'll never forget!

Me and Amy Knupp...

There were so many other author friends I wish I'd taken pictures with, but it was such a busy meeting I didn't have the chance.

Saturday night was the Golden Heart and RITA Awards Ceremony and I have to say congratulations to all the finalists and winners! The photo below was taken right after the ceremony. Victoria Curran and me...

And of course I have to share what I put together for the Goody Room (for those who haven't been, it's a room full of author promotional material and swag gifts for the taking). I had pens and business cards made with the title and release date of my upcoming debut book, The Promise of Rain, and since the heroine in the book rescues baby elephants orphaned by poachers, each pen came with a little baby elephant :).

Those are all my pics folks. Like I said before, I met so many people from the Harlequin team and forums and wish I'd taken more pics, but I will say that they were all phenomenal people. Everyone was incredibly kind and welcomed me with open arms into the Harlequin family. Thank you all.

And I got to meet dear online friends who have found success with other publishers or self-publishing and again it was so great to get to chat in person. The support and friendship among writers at RWA Nationals is palpable. It's truly an incredible experience just to be there surrounded by all that positive energy and knowledge.

The workshops and luncheon speakers were great. If anyone is planning to buy lectures (I think you can get them individually through RWA...there's probably a link at the main site...shout out if you can't figure it out), I think hearing Michael Hauge at least once in your life is a must. I go listen to him every single time. There was also a great lecture on taxes, finances and the writer with Diane Kelly, Laura Alford and Donna MacMeans. Gosh....and so many more! Too many to list!

Thank you to RWA for masterminding such an incredible gathering for the networking, education and support of romance writers. Thank you to everyone who was so kind to me. Thank you to everyone at Harlequin...literally everone...for making me feel like a princess and welcoming me to the family. Thank you to Victoria for caring so much. Thank you to all my writer friends for being you.

I can't wait until next year! San Antonio guys! Start saving :). And to any readers out there, remember that the Literacy Autographing is open to the public and an awesome way to meet your favorite authors!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Interview with Harlequin Romance Author Donna Alward

This interview was originally posted at USAToday's Happy Ever After blog on October 30, 2012
I'll admit that I grew up associating cowboys and ranchers with the American Wild West, most likely because of popular Hollywood movies, but not anymore. Award-winning Harlequin Romance author Donna Alward has brought international fame to the rugged Canadian cowboy and rancher. Ever since her debut romance, Hired by the Cowboy, won the Bookseller's Best Award for Best Traditional Romance in 2008, Donna hasn't stopped garnering recognition and awards for her heartwarming and poignant stories. Her 2011 Harlequin Romance,How A Cowboy Stole Her Heart, finaled in the 2012 RITA, Bookseller's Best and National Reader's Choice Awards, plus it won the 2012 Colorado Award of Excellence and the 2011 Cataromance Reviewers Choice Award. Whew! See what I mean? With her latest release, Sleigh Ride with the Rancher, Donna has once again outdone herself.
Rula: Hi, Donna! I must say that Sleigh Ride with the Rancher is a beautifully written, visually stunning and deeply touching holiday story. I love that it's part of a Holiday Miracles trilogy written about three sisters who've grown apart and the trials that bring them together. Book one, Snowbound in the Earl's Castle, was written by Fiona Harper, book two is your Sleigh Ride with the Rancher and book three will be Mistletoe Kisses with the Billionaire by Shirley Jump. In what way does your friendship with Fiona and Shirley parallel your three sister heroines, and has working together made your relationship grow in any way into more of a sisterhood?
Donna: That's a great question! Though I don't think there's much rivalry between us. We were great friends before writing the trilogy and we still are, lol. Plus, we always celebrate each other's successes. It's a beautiful thing.
There are definitely some parallels between the sisters and the three of us, though. For instance, I love the fact that Fi is so often a voice of reason. An example: I'd confided in Fi about a grudge I'd been holding for too long and how I felt badly about it. She was so logical and made such complete sense about the situation that I was able to let the bitterness go (which is a very good thing). Her character, Faith, is a bit of a peacemaker, I think. Now she avoids the family to keep from being caught in the conflict. Shirley's character, Grace, is worldly and cosmopolitan, but she can't quite escape her "down home" roots, which makes going home for a small-town Christmas celebration both uncomfortable for her and absolutely perfect. If you've met Shirley, you know she's got a fantastic sense of style. She's also one of the most down-to-earth, friendliest people I know.
And as far as my character, Hope – well, she's a perfectionist. A bit type A and controlling. Hmmm … sounds familiar. She also has a heart of gold and can be hurt more easily than most people realize. I see myself that way, too.
Rula: Sleigh Ride with the Rancher deals with both physical and emotional scars, as well as the quest for perfection. Your hero and ranch owner, Blake Nelson, has a visible scar that reminds your heroine, photographer Hope McKinnon, of a painful loss she suffered. They have definite obstacles on the road to happy ever after, much like the special-needs kids Blake works with. When it comes to teaching children to cope in life, do you think it's more important to build an individual's confidence, build societal tolerance ... or both?
Donna: I think they go hand in hand, really. I try to teach my girls that they need to respect others, but they also need to respect themselves. I try to instill messages that they can succeed at anything and yet don't have to be perfect, either. There's such a pressure in school-age kids – especially when you start hitting junior high and high school – to BELONG. What we teach the girls is that if someone is a good person inside, it doesn't matter what they look like, the color of their skin, religion, disability. … Good people are good people. And when they struggle with peer groups, etc., I make sure they know that there is one place they ALWAYS belong, and that's in our family.
Rula: You're such a great mom. In your book, hero Blake runs an equine therapy ranch. During your research, what fact about equine therapy amazed you the most? Are you a rider or do you stick with love from your Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever? :)
Donna: I wasn't surprised about the emotional connection, because as an animal lover I know how amazing it is to connect with a pet and just feel … better. It made sense that kids would respond to horses in a beneficial way and also learn responsibility by caring for the animals, etc. What really surprised me was the clinical aspect of it, which is why I chose a cerebral palsy patient as a central character. The physical benefits of riding are huge. Core strength, muscle tone, balance … all crucial and helpful to my character Cate – as well as the emotional benefits she enjoys. Like feeling like a normal child, having fun, being accepted.
I haven't gone horseback riding in a long time, though I used to love it. But I'm definitely soaking up the love from our Duck Toller, Dreamer, and our kitty, Boo.
Rula: I have two words, Donna. Maple syrup. Blake is known to make some fine French toast, as lucky Hope can attest to. I've heard you mention how much you love Canadian maple syrup cookies (yum!), but what's the strangest thing you've ever eaten maple syrup with?
Donna: I don't pour it on my eggs, but if I'm having pancakes with a side of scrambled eggs, I confess I like it when some of the syrup runs down the plate and gives them a bit of extra sweetness. I don't know as I've eaten it on anything truly strange, but I have some fave ways to have it in addition to breakfast. I have a recipe for maple ribs, which is delish and if you do it in a roaster, the meat falls right off the bone. My stepdad got me into putting maple syrup on buttered biscuits (or scones), and one time I made cornbread and put maple syrup on it and it was GORGEOUS. There's also maple salmon …
Rula: Mmmm. That all sounds so good. I can't think of the holidays without thinking of sweet things ... and decorating a Christmas tree is one of them. Blake and Hope put up a tree together and it's a moment where they open their hearts to one another. What's your favorite holiday ornament (or ornament theme) and what's the story behind it?
Donna: One of the things we do every Christmas is get the girls a personalized ornament. They each have their own box of special ornaments now and I realized last year that when they leave the nest in a few years our Christmas tree is going to be very bare! But then when they put up their own tree, they will have a box full of Christmas memories waiting for them, which I think is awesome. I have NO idea what I'll get them this year, but I guarantee they'll be looking for it in their stockings.

Rula: That's such a great idea. Well, you know your readers will want more after Sleigh Ride with the Rancher. Your wonderful Cadence Creek Cowboys series started with The Last Real Cowboy and The Rebel Rancher. Tell us about your next Cadence Creek Cowboy book, coming out in March, because I'm dying to know what your cowboy will do when he finds A Little Cowgirl on his Doorstep.
Donna: I came up with the idea of Callum Shepard after I got hooked on watching Hell on Wheels. Anson Mount plays the lead character, Cullen Bohannon, and he's gruff, he's got shaggy hair, and he's pretty emotionally wounded. I just had the idea of someone looking like that opening the door to find a prim and proper woman standing on his porch claiming that he's a daddy. Avery is baby Nell's aunt, and she and Callum met once. He looks nothing like the man she met a year ago. She's in a bit of a tough position. She grew up not knowing her dad and feels very strongly about Callum knowing the truth, and yet all she really wants is to be able to raise Nell as her own. And Callum is a tough nut to crack. He's my favorite kind of hero: tough on the outside with a marshmallow center. : )
Rula: That's why I love your heroes! Sleigh Ride with the Rancher really put me in the mood for the holidays, and I can't wait for A Little Cowgirl on his Doorstep. Thanks so much for hanging out at Happy Ever After, Donna! Wishing you and everyone else an HEA.
BLURB: A week before Christmas, city girl Hope McKinnon finds herself snowbound with rugged rancher and all round do-gooder Blake Nelson. What is it about this handsome, generous man that has her blood boiling and her pulse racing?
Blake knows his ranch is the last place that Hope wants to be, but somehow her presence feels so right! Hope is the first woman guarded Blake has wanted to be around for a long time. Her visit may be temporary, but he has one more night to convince her to stay….

ALSO CHECK OUT: Donna's latest book from her First Responders series at Samhain Publishing...
Into The Fire (Book 3, First Responders) - Releasing November 13, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday HEA!

I haven't done a Therapeutic Thursday post in awhile, but I think birthdays fall into the happy, feel-good category so here it is...Happy 1 year birthday to Joyce Lamb and her extraordinarily successful USAToday Happy Ever After blog!

USAToday online just underwent a face lift, so you'll have to check out the HEA blog's new look. In fact, my latest HEA interview with Harlequin author Rebecca Winter's posted this past Tuesday, October 2nd. You can check it out here, then click on the Happy Ever After header, or here, to see today's interviews and reviews (I'll bait you with one I saw with a really hot cover model and an interview that's up with Hank Phillippi Ryan).

Also, I'm juggling a few things on the home front, including patio construction  (I'm sure the foreman loves how OCD I am :P), a long weekend (Happy Thanksgiving Day to my Canadian friends on Monday...and Columbus Day here), a kid birthday (we have 3 b-days in the house this month if you include my puppy turning 1) and out-of-town guests, so you may not see a Monday post from me next week (and possibly the week after).

Once again, Happy Birthday HEA! Hope you enjoy the interviews.

Monday, July 30, 2012

RWA Nationals 2012

I'm back from Anaheim! I got in late and didn't sleep until 1:00 AM, but I'm still buzzing with adrenaline and residual caffeine (yep, I think the Starbucks staff were starting to worry about the lady who kept ordering triple shots of espresso...blame it on the time difference and lack of sleep). This was my fourth Nationals and it was phenomenal. I'll start by congratulating all the Golden Heart and RITA finalists and winners! I'll let you read the list of winners at the RWA website, but I will note a significant win...Carina Press author Fiona Lowe took home a RITA for contemporary single title. That's a huge milestone, not only for Fiona, but for Harlequin's Carina Press and e-publishing in general.

Don't click that keyboard yet! I have pictures, links and info coming up.

Let's start with Harlequin. If you hang at Harlequin's online community and ever go to a Nationals meeting, you have to attend the Harlequin PJ party. It's fun, relaxing and you get to meet all your harlequin online friends in person. Oh, and there are always fabulous party favors :). Check out the vintage Harlequin romance mug we all got this year. I'm drinking tea out of it right now.

Thank you to Jayne at Harlequin and anyone else involved in organizing the party! If I try to mention everyone I met, I know I'll forget someone, so let me just say that the entire Harlequin community (staff, published and unpublished writers alike) rock! These are truly wonderful, warm and supportive people.
Superromance authors Kathy Altman, Linda Style and me
Super sweet Kathy Altman and me at the PJ party
As for information I jotted down at the Spotlight on Harlequin Series session...

Updates have been made to their writing guidelines that include the latest word count changes, new series and more. I'll note a few things here, but take a minute (after this post :) to check out their new writing guidelines. Medicals are now being included in the Home and Hearth group, whereas Superromance, with it's 85k word count, is getting categorized as 'romance with more'. New lines include Kiss, a 50k flirty line coming out in Feb 2013 and Heartwarming, a 70-75k wholesome (yet with the complexity of a Supers) line looking to shift from reprints to new authors starting July 2013. Also, Harlequin Digital First is a new digital line that differs from Carina Press in that it's encompasses series books that carry the Harlequin brand. There are a few other new lines, and yet another to be announced in the next few weeks (if I understood correctly) so check out the guidelines link above!

The next Harlequin SYTYCW contest will be global and is set to launch on September 17, 2012. This time, the initial voting will be public.

And now for the RWA Literacy Autographing. It was amazing! I was having so much fun catching up with friends and meeting chapter members that I didn't get pictures of all of them (still kicking myself). But here are a few...
Superromance author Cathryn Parry and me
YA author Janice Hardy. My son loooves her books and I'd promised him an autograph.
Kathy Altman with her debut Superromance
Me and the always lovely Harlequin Desire author Olivia Gates
The very sweet Nas Dean from Romance Book Paradise and me. 
My dear friend Superromance author  Jeannie Watt  (I think you've figured out who I am at this point ;).  
The workshops were fabulous too. Even those of us who made it to Nationals couldn't make it into every workshop, but most are recorded. Here's the link to Bill Stephens Productions if you're interested in ordering a recording. Ruby Slippered Sisters Liz Tally and Darynda Jones did one on voice development that I heard writers raving about in the hall. I was at the PRO retreat and missed it, so I'm planning to order it along with many other workshops. I did make it to Michael Hague's talk. You have to listen to this man at least once in your writing career. I went to his talk last year as well, but I figured round two would help his words sink in deeper. You can check out his links in my left colum and catch up on some of his wisdom. A few other great workshops I attended were Margie Lawson's on openings and Debra Dixon's on conflict. Again, too many great workshops to list, but you can buy the recordings.

Robyn Carr's awards luncheon speech was very inspiring and the GH/RITA awards ceremony emceed by Victoria Alexander was both funny and romance movie nostalgic. And the ever elegant and gracious J.D. Robb earned a laugh when she accepted her RITA and said that Nora would be jealous :)

Me and Kathy Altman at the awards ceremony
I wish I had more pics from the ceremony. I wish I could list the names of every writer I connected in friendship with, but I don't want to hit the sack at 1:00 AM again, fry out blogger, or succumb to another triple shot espresso. Withdrawal's a b...big pain :)

I'll end by saying that being surrounded by so many talented, warm and inclusive writers, editors, agents and publishers is an extraordinary, almost surreal experience. I found myself enveloped with encouragement, enthusiasm, understanding, friendship, wisdom, knowledge and so much more. In fact, I left feeling so motivated and inspired that I used the two hours I had before my flight home to write. I sat at my gate, whipped out the Alpha Smart, glanced left and right to make sure no one was reading my draft work, and went at it. So inspired was I, that I never heard them announce boarding for my flight. Luckily, I glanced up in deep thought and snapped quickly back to reality when I realized what was happening, LOL. Anyway, I'm home now and ready for another year of writing.

Happy writing and reading to all.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Interview with Harlequin Medical Romance author Wendy S. Marcus

Good Morning everyone! Looks like Groundhog Phil saw his shadow and we're in for six more weeks of winter. What better excuse to curl up on a sofa with a romance novel? Well, grab a mug of hot chocolate (with extra marshmallows) and help me welcome Harlequin Medical Romance author Wendy S. Marcus. Never mind Phil's shadow and the extra six weeks of cold, Wendy's books will keep you warm all winter.

Hi Rula! Thank you so much for having me at your blog today. You sure did your research! Great questions!

Thanks, Wendy. It's all in the great answers, so on with the interview :)

1. Many authors worry about suffering from second book syndrome, but it’s safe to say you're in the clear. After your first book in the Madrin Memorial Hospital series, When One Night Isn't Enough, garnered a 4 star RT Book Review, I'd call your second book, Once A Good Girl, success on steroids! It recently earned 4.5 stars from RT Book Reviews and an extraordinary write-up including this..."The story challenges the guidelines of a Harlequin Medical Romance in an excellent way....readers will not be able to resist the rising tension that builds to a crescendo." Wow! Congratulations, Wendy! For many writers, especially those trying to break into category romance, pushing the envelope is a terrifying notion. One where a writer is never quite sure if they've struck a balance between being original and venturing too far outside the box. Along these lines, what advice can you give writers hoping to break into the category market?

Thank you for your kind words! Success on steroids…. I like it! I think the most important thing for a new writer is writing with your own, unique voice and style while staying within the requirements of the category line you want to write for ie. word count, heat level, and for certain lines technical elements such as medical elements for medical romance. Harlequin and Mills and Boon have excellent guidelines and help for new writers on their websites.

2. I'm amazed by how many romance writers (myself included) have/had left brained careers. Sometimes our left brained colleagues don't understand the switch in gears, but I'm a firm believer that one life/one career is an archaic idea and, much like brainstorming a story, our later choices can be better fits. I also believe that no career or experience is wasted. Think of it as hard core research ;). You earned both a nursing degree and a master's in health care administration...and may I add a doctorate in motherhood? All mom's deserve that one :). In writing for Harlequin Medical, you've formed a natural bridge for your experience. However, having seen the nitty gritty details of health care, do you ever struggle to find romantic inspiration in it all? Have your past colleagues read your books and given you 'feedback'?

For me, writing medical romance is actually quite difficult. As a nurse, I have to be very careful not to get too technical or realistic in some scenes. If I use too much medical speak or expose too much gore, I will pull the reader out of a scene. And that’s the last thing I want to do. To find romantic inspiration I must focus on my characters and their emotional responses to the medical situations they are faced with and the staff they work with as opposed to focusing on the medical conditions and treatments themselves. And with regard to past colleagues reading my books, I have heard from a few who said they liked them.

3. While we're on the topic of new careers, tell us your Call story that started it all!

Well, I entered a medical romance pitch contest back in 2010 just like the one Harlequin is running now.Find information here: I was one of five winners, along with fellow medical romance author Scarlet Wilson, and I was assigned my wonderful editor Flo Nicoll who agreed to work with me to see if I could turn my manuscript into a saleable medical romance novel. And it took A LOT of work! But after six long months of revisions, during which I basically re-wrote my manuscript…twice, I received ‘The Call’ in October 2010. First my then agent called with the news that Mills and Boon wanted to make me an offer. Then Flo called me from England! I don’t remember one word of the conversation. Luckily she sent me a summary e-mail afterwards!

4. I love your book covers and the way they focus on your heroines. I have to say that the model on the US cover of Once A Good Girl looks like Julia Ormond...and her expression says it all. Although many Harlequin books end up with overseas editions, for Medicals it's part of the routine. For every book you have out, there are multiple release dates and different covers. Has that posed any marketing challenges for you? Any advice for streamlining marketing in a situation like that?

Now that you mention it, I agree! The model on the U.S. cover does look like Julia Ormond! And as much as I like my Mills and Boon book covers, I would love a really steamy sexy cover. One day! As far as multiple covers and release dates, it does get a bit tricky. But if you look at the Books page on my website:, I display the book covers for all my English language books with links for purchase. I’m thinking about adding an international page for my French and other language translations.

To give you an idea how release dates work, my current book, Once a Good Girl…, went out to UK medical romance subscription holders in October, up on the Mills and Boon UK website in November, on store shelves in UK and Mills and Boon Aus website in December, store shelves in Aus/NZ and in U.S. in January, and on Amazon and Barnes and Noble U.S. in February. That’s a lot of promo time! I dealt with this by scheduling promo for January, when my books were either available for purchase or pre-order in all markets.

5. Book 3 in your Madrin Memorial Hospital series, A Nurse's Not So Secret Scandal, comes out this spring (April 2012 UK/May 2012 US-AUS-NZ). It's the last in this series, but you recently completed your fourth book. Any hints? Different hospital? Different town? Your fans want to know!

My fourth and fifth books are a two story continuity that will come out as a 2in1 in the UK, involving two nurses who are twins. I just sent my revisions on #4 to my editor and I haven’t yet started work on #5, but I have plenty of ideas percolating! Book #4 centers around Jaci who works as a community health nurse and women’s crisis center advocate.

6. Now don't take this the wrong way, but you're one funny person :) I love your sense of humor, and humor is definitely the magic pill to get through motherhood and life's general ups and downs. The title for one of the blogs you take part in, ,  made me laugh. Does writing with kids underfoot get any easier as they get older, or do the challenges and distractions just change? What was one of your funniest and/or most embarrassing experiences as a mother, nurse or writer?

Thank you for mentioning 4badmommies! It’s a project near and dear to my heart. Our mission is to create a safe, compassionate place where moms can share their failures as well as their successes. Because sometimes we may feel like bad mommies; it doesn't mean we are.

I’ve been working from my home office for over fifteen years. It pains me to say that when my children were little, they watched a lot of television on the days I didn’t send them to daycare. And during those times, when I heard little feet pitter pattering in my direction while I was on an important call with an attorney or doctor, I have been known to place the call on hold and scream like a crazy woman, “Unless you’re choking or bleeding you’d better not come into my office right now!” I must point out, that worked a lot better when they were little. Now they come into my office whenever they please, because for teenagers, their problems are always more important than what I’m doing! Regardless of the challenges I faced working full time and raising three children, I’m proud to say I wound up with three great, well adjusted, respectful (most of the time) children! Oh, and I’m sure my husband played some small part in that, too!

7. To add to your honors, you were chosen to be the Mills and Boon New Voices Contest author mentor of 2011. Let's pretend you're mentoring every unpublished writer out there. Other than not quitting, what's the single most important advice you could give us?

Don’t write the first thing that comes to mind. Or the second.They are usually overused or cliché. Make your writing fresh and unique. (I can’t take credit for this. It’s something I read when I was a new writer myself. And boy am I glad I did!)

8. And now for some fun. What's your favorite deadline crunch time snack, and do you have any quirky writing rituals?

As a new writer I gave myself incentives for meeting my daily word counts. Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate with Almonds Nuggets. YUM! Unfortunately, since publication they’ve become a daily treat regardless of my word count. I rationalize this by telling myself dark chocolate and almonds are good for me! As far as quirky rituals, when I am deep in the zone and the words are flowing and I’m getting down to the wire on a deadline, I wake up, roll out of bed and go straight to the computer. I work on and off all day and night. And I don’t shower. Granted, I can only do this when I don’t have a reason to leave the house. And regardless, three days without a shower is my limit!

9. Coffee or tea? Beach or mountains? Denim, leather, or sweats?

I prefer decaf coffee with a shot of Baileys. I love listening to the waves at the beach. I’m most comfortable in sweats, but I usually wear denim, and I like my men in leather! (Don’t tell my husband!)

And now I’ll throw a question out to you visitors. Which of my book covers is your favorite? You can find them on my website: on my Books Page and my Coming Soon Page. While you’re there check out the excerpts. If you see something you like, click on the purchase links.

GIVEAWAY: One of today’s commenters will win a 2in1 UK copy of Once a Good Girl… which includes a complete novel by Alison Roberts. The winner will be announced here this Thursday, February 13th.

BLURB: Once A Good Girl

Prim Victoria Forley’s perfect life changed forever the night she slept with Kyle Karlinsky, baddest boy in town. These days, single mum and uber-perfectionist nurse Victoria has goals that nothing – not even Kyle’s shocking reappearance! – can derail. But behind Victoria’s oh-so-frosty exterior is a heat that only Kyle can unleash… maybe it’s the right time to be with the wrong guy after all?

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Upcoming deadlines

This will be short and sweet, since it's that time of year when I know everyone is scrambling around to get things done. Our neighbors have their Christmas lights up, so I guess the holidays have officially begun :)

Is anyone entering the Golden Heart this year? The deadline for entry forms and fees is tomorrow, so get a move on it! Manuscripts have to be sent in by December 2nd. Check out RWA's website for rules and exact times.

If you missed Harlequin's free online conference last week, they have archived transcripts of all the chats, podcasts, webinars and more at and at under The Write Stuff forums. Those archives hold a lot of valuable information straight from the editors at harlequin, so it's worth taking some time to check it out. They're hosting what I'd call their contest of the year. Submit your full manuscript by December 15 and if yours is picked, the prize is a book contract! Check out the details on their website.

And what bigger deadline is there than Thanksgiving? I love Thanksgiving, but I can't believe it's less than 2 weeks away! Is it my imagination or does it seem like deadlines pile up around the holidays?

What are your plans for contests and/or the holidays?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Interview with Harlequin American Author Megan Kelly

I'm so excited to have Harlequin American author Megan Kelly here today! Last week, I mentioned that Megan did something I'll never forget. I'm ready to tell all. Don't worry, Megan. Your character is safe here.

It was 2009, just before the Romance Writers of America's national meeting in D.C. I'd left a comment after one of Megan's blog posts about pre-meeting nerves. I'd never been to any writer's meeting, let alone Nationals. I was so new to the writing world that my comment was 'anonymous'. This was long before my blogging days ;). Well, Megan reached out. She commented back, inviting me to contact her through email and offering to meet up, have dinner, and introduce me to one of her unpublished chaptermates (another one of the sweetest people I've ever met, btw). Let me tell you, 'knowing' someone before heading to the meeting made all the difference. Megan was so generous about answering my questions at dinner, and (thinking back) as 'newbie' as I must have sounded, she made me feel like I belonged there. Thank you, Megan. I'll never forget your kindess and generosity.

And now I should hush up and let Megan get a word in here! I can't keep all her wisdom to myself, so read on. Megan's also doing a giveaway, so don't forget to leave a comment or question.

1. Congratulations on your latest release, Stand-in Mom! Ever since I got to know Ginger in The Fake Fiancee, I've been hoping she'd get her own happily ever after. I love her spunky, daring, yet caring, personality. Of course, it does land her in a...hmmm...somewhat awkward situation. A teacher coming face-to-face with her one-night-fling, who ends up being the single-parent of a student. Yikes! Love it ;). When coming up with proposals, does your editor ever hint at which secondary characters in previous books she'd like to see in the spotlight, or is it all up to you (and perhaps fan feedback)?

Thanks for having me, Rula. I'm pleased you liked Ginger enough to want her story. The short answer is "no." My editor doesn't suggest secondary characters or even book ideas. While writing The Fake Fiancee, I wanted my heroine to have someone to talk to, and she needed someone to watch her kids while she romanced the hero, lol. So Ginger appeared, and while typing, I found out she was trying to have a child, and considered babysitting practice. I thought "okay, cool" and dismissed it as being convenient for my heroine. Then poor Ginger had problems conceiving, and by the end of the book I was distraught over her! I had to write her an HEA. But I'd love suggestions from my editor. She's a super-nice person and incredibly savvy.

2. I recently read an article on libraries loaning ebooks. It talked a little about logistics, such as 'eloan' expiration etc... I remember when libraries switched over from card catalogues to computers. That had me confused and panicked enough at the time, LOL! E-readers are becoming 'a way of life' for many. Given your experience with libraries and bookstores, what do you think of ebook library loaning and how it affects writers and the publishing industry?

I don't understand why a book would "expire," and that's something I've been studying too. From a practical pov, paper books do go out of circulation due to wear, so they have a limited shelf life. An ebook would only go out of circulation if it wasn't readable any longer due to technical replacements, such as my library no longer buying audio books on cassette. It still circulates cassettes, but now purchases only mp3, audio as Playaways and CDs--and I noticed they are buying fewer CDs now. From an author's point of view, I'm thrilled with the idea that my backlist is available to people who are just finding me. My books from 2008 are out of print and only available through a few places, such as used book venues. The books on my library's shelf are looking worn (which tickles me as it means people are checking them out). But they won't be useable forever. As long as the e-versions are updated for the technology, I don't see the downside. The publishing houses are concerned about how many times an ebook has been circulated and they are trying to put a limit on loans so libraries would have to continue to buy a license to circulate them. That's my understanding of it. It comes down to money for the publishers. Which isn't a bad thing, don't get me wrong. If they have money, they can buy mss. :)

3. You've presented many workshops over the past couple of years, including presentations at RWA Nationals. I know for a fact that you're a very generous person, and workshops are great ways to give back to the writing community. What prompted you to do your first writing workshop? Is it something you'd recommend to other published authors? Any antidotes to stage fright?

Oh gosh. Thanks for the compliment. But I'm not doing anything others aren't. As to... Presenting. Just the word makes me shudder. I'm not a natural speaker, but I am a natural teacher. If I know something, I'm eager to share it and help someone else. I don't understand *not* doing that. The problem is I can't do it one-on-one as effectively as I can do it by presenting a workshop. The RWA National workshops are recorded (shudder) so I can reach even more people than those in the workshop room. I'd much rather sit over dinner and answer questions or explain concepts, believe me.

Standing in front of a crowd always makes me nervous. I don't have an antidote to stage fright, but I do have a suggestion--find a friend. The first workshops I presented were with an author who is a teacher by profession. Which means she's comfortable speaking in front of a group, re-explaining things succinctly, and answering questions. We had books debut at the same time, then had nothing in print, but we had to keep our names "out there." A workshop accomplished that and placated my need to give back. I've been presenting solo this year and it's terrifying, but giving back to the community is just that important to me. I didn't get here alone. I am still absorbing the knowledge of others, so it just feels right to help anyone who stands still long enough to listen. lol As you can see, I don't give short answers. :)

4. Your first book, Marrying the Boss, came out in April of 2008. We'd love to hear about the time leading up to (and including) your Call.

You are sweet! I love telling my CALL story, but I can't tell you all about the time leading up to the sale--it was thirteen years! In short, I've wanted to write for Harlequin since I was in high school. I had to figure out what to do for money though, lol, and didn't write more seriously until after my kids were born. Nothing I'd show anyone, anyway. Only my mom and my husband knew I planned to do this, but I don't think either realized how much work it was or how persistent I would be. I went through a six year block where there *weren't* people in my head talking to me and I tried to write anyway. It was dreadful. When the characters came back, I realized how empty my head was without them. :D Marrying the Boss was originally two brothers fighting over the same woman. When I pitched it, the editor suggested they fight over the company instead. I played with the idea, dropped a brother, and this very strong woman appeared, not as a pawn but as a force in her own right. I didn't believe it would sell, so when Harlequin American Romance put out a call for submissions for their revamped line back in 2007, I submitted my first three chapters--all I had of the book. For the synopsis, I guessed what might happen at the end. :) A short month and a half later, I got a letter asking for the complete. I set myself a deadline and wrote like crazy, sent some of it to my critique partner, polished and out it went. In six weeks, I went from page 72 to The End to an envelope.

Five months later, on a Thursday afternoon, I emerged from my office to see the light blinking on my answering machine. I had missed THE CALL! I don't have a phone in my office so it won't interrupt my writing, and the washing machine in the next room must have drowned out the ringing of our home phone. When I called back, I got the senior editor's machine. Heart racing, I called my husband on my cell phone while I stared at my landline, willing it to ring. He was very excited and as supportive as he always is. The phone rang. Toronto was experiencing a blizzard and the Harlequin offices were closing, but Kathleen called me, just in case they were closed on Friday also. She didn't want me to wait all weekend, wondering. To this day, I have nightmares imagining that weekend. Having spent 13 years preparing for this CALL (aka, being rejected), I knew what to expect from an offer, and I wrote down everything she said. That night, we had my mother-in-law over for dinner for her birthday, so we already had cake in the house. lol It was an incredible moment.

5. Apart from not quitting, what's the one thing you did as a writer that you feel played a critical role in helping you achieve your goal of publication?

Not quitting is the hardest and most critical step, of course. Second to continuing to write, I also continued to learn. I asked for feedback from my CP, my crit group, and contests. Then, even more importantly, I listened and used that feedback. I see so many writers enter contests but then ignore the advice given. But I figured out what I was doing wrong, where I could improve, and I tried to put those lessons in my work. I also read other writers, in romance, mainstream, and mystery/suspense/thrillers. I don't break down a book as to what is being done right, but good writing seeps in. I can also justify reading as research this way, and I do love to read! And I attend workshops, always staying open to new ideas, old ideas I've rejected before, or old ideas I haven't been successful with, such as plotting. Churchill said "Never ever ever give up." I'd add, Never stop learning.

6. You've done quite a few book signings. With four books under your belt, what would you say is your favorite marketing tool? Which one, in your opinion, has the best pay off?

Eeks. Marketing. It's hard to figure what works. The average person has to see an image/hear a catchphrase or name, etc, SEVEN times before it sticks. I need to spend my time writing. So I'm currently studying how to best manage my online time and where to spend it. With series romance, I have a time pressure factor as well. My book is only on the shelf for four weeks (less in some stores). For a few months, the print version can be special ordered, then it's out of print. Forever. All my books are available in e-format, which is wonderful, but the *push* comes the first weeks of that one release month.

As for social media, I'm on FaceBook, but I know I could use it more effectively. Since only my "friends" see my posts, I'm preaching to the choir. On FB, I should be going to pages and commenting so their friends see my posts, but that's incredibly time consuming. Same with Twitter, although that's a more fluid environment. I was on there this morning, clicked on a new person's page, and while reading her three line bio, 19 more tweets were posted. 19 in less than a minute. My feeling there is time is so limited for my tweet to be on someone's home page that it's not effective. The other person has to be on Twitter *at that moment* to see me. I received an email that someone saw me active and said hi, but when I went back to Twitter, I couldn't find a message from her. How crazy is that?

I gave away copies of Stand-In Mom and The Marriage Solution on GoodReads this year before their release dates. That alerted *readers* to each book's release date. I want to reach people interested in series romance, and many GoodReads members added my books to their To Be Read lists. I will continue this. I also post book reviews, but that's because I like to read and share reviews more than a publicity thing.

When I do workshops at conferences, I try to put something in the giveaway room. I'm always looking for ideas. This year, I not only had my stars and strips folding fans, but I made Romance Trading Cards. They're the "new hot thing." They're fun and different.

7. I'm a visual person, and book covers really draw my eye. I love the cover of The Marriage Solution. Those two kids are adorable! I'm also dying to see the rest of Tara's wedding dress. The cover of Stand-in Mom won me over too. I can't turn away from a cover with a cuddly dog or pup. Any advice or pointers on helping publishers get your covers right?

Are you trying to get me in trouble? lol Okay, I have to admit, I love those two covers. I've been very lucky. This is a two prong question. The first answer is the cover may never be exact (Horace the dog in Stand-In Mom is black, not brown and white, for example, and in The Marriage Solution, Tara gets married in a pink dress). But the important thing is the *feel* of the cover, not the details. Yes, I'd love if the cover exactly matched the picture in my head, but that's unlikely to happen. The cover is about selling the book, so I leave it to the Art Department. Now, the second part of the answer is about the cover design process. At Harlequin, authors fill out an art fact sheet describing two scenes for the cover, including color, styles, props, etc. I asked for a dog on the cover, a black Newfie puppy. I suggested the scene at the pet store where they adopt Horace and described their clothes in the scene, hair color, etc. The Art Department turned that suggestion into an incredibly beautiful cover. Do Ginger and Scott and his daughter at any time in the book sit on the porch with Horace? No. Do I care? No. Because the sense of family and the attraction between the couple shine through. The models are gorgeous, the daughter adorable, the dog priceless. I love, love, love this cover. So my advice would be to give the Art Dept a good scene idea with plenty of details, and then don't sweat it when it comes out a little differently.

8. Since getting published, what's the biggest lesson or 'insider info' you've learned that you wish someone had warned told you about?

Wow. In my head, I thought I knew a lot of this stuff due to those 13 years of "preparation." I listened to/read other writers, so I knew about the publicity pressure, the sales pressure, the sophomore slump (difficulty writing/selling the second book), the cost of advertising, how unpublished friends can turn on you, how established writers may still not accept you, etc. It made being published sound like a horrible place. :) So while I thought I was prepared, the reality of it was staggering. I pushed myself to sell my second book before my first came out. I sent the proposal too soon, according to my editor, but she bought it, based on my first book. Sophomore slump (my biggest fear)--averted. My non-writing and unpublished friends are angels, so I didn't experience any of those problems. I figure established or not, other writers accept me or don't, based on me, not my selling a book, so I didn't worry about that one.

The pressure is the one I battle. I don't promote the way I should. I don't feel comfortable suggesting people buy my book, even though I believe in each one and I totally love Stand-In Mom and am so proud of it. I don't write fast--until the end, when I write like a demon--but I don't sell a new book often enough to grow a readership. I don't want to worry about my numbers as compared to other authors I'm relased with that month. I prefer to know if people are *liking* it after they buy it. I'm gratified that Stand-In Mom has been getting such lovely reviews because that means those people enjoyed my efforts.

My advice is listen and learn. Be prepared for all these things and more. But don't let any of it discourage you. Once you understand this is all a part of being an author, it's more manageable if it happens.

And learn to revise! Learn how to take suggestions and utilize them. Learn where to stand firm on your vision of your work.

9. And now for a little insider info on you :)... What's your favorite deadline crunch-time snack? Any other writing vices or odd habits?

On deadline, I live off M&Ms. And Coke Zero, preferably Vanilla if I can find it. Anything chocolate is welcome, but M&Ms keep my hands clean. :) I write at night, mostly because I'm a night owl and that's when I'm more creative, but also because I started writing seriously (to sell) when my kids were toddlers. I'd put them and my husband to bed and write until the wee hours. On deadline, I've been known to write until the kids go to school, then I drop on the bed for the six hours they're gone. Of course, on work days, I couldn't do that, but weekends and non-work days, yes. Do NOT follow this example. Be a sensible person!

10. Log cabin or beach house (both with electricity, LOL)? Coffee, tea or soda? Paper or ebook?

Log cabin, but definitely with electricity and a/c. I love the mountains (in case you're birthday shopping, lol). Coke Vanilla Zero is a staple, as I mentioned. I also drink Coke Zero or plain Diet Coke in a pinch. And anything chocolate--have I mentioned that yet? lol--but I really prefer milk chocolate. I love to curl up with a book, and paper is my first choice, mostly because it's what I'm used to. It takes a little more planning to read an ebook (is my reader/laptop charged? did I download it?) whereas I can just pick up the book laying in plain sight. However, I have read several books in e-format and have more on my laptop to read. I've played with a few different devices but haven't committed to buying one yet. It's only a matter of time and money until I do. There are too many e-books out there not in print that I want to read.

Thanks so much for being here, Megan! It was great to see you again at Nationals this year. Your smile and kindness are contagious :)

GIVEAWAY: Megan is giving away a copy of one of her books AND Romance Trading Cards! Just leave a comment or question and your name will be entered in the drawing. The winner will be posted here this Thursday, September 15th. Don't miss out! Romance Trading Cards are the latest, greatest fan fun...keepsake pictures and data on your favorite characters. I have one of the adorable Newfoundland puppy, Horace, in Stand-In Mom ;)

BLURB: Stand-In Mom, September 2011

He's Got A Lot To Learn

Scott Matthews had no idea Ginger Winchester was a teacher when they first met—he didn't even know her last name. That didn't stop them from sharing a night of passion. Scott hoped he'd see Ginger again—just not in his daughter's new classroom! Yet, somewhere under that frumpy sweater and chalk dust is the sultry redhead who's been haunting his dreams.

Smart, sensitive and nurturing, Ginger is everything Scott wants. But when Ginger discovers she resembles his first wife, she fears stepping in as a replacement mom. She wants a family, but not this way. She's happy to offer tips on handling rambunctious kids, and even helps the Matthews family adopt a big, lovable puppy. But when it comes to handing over her heart, Scott must prove to her that she's more than just a stand–in—she's the one.
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