Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I don't know which to read first

Today would be the perfect day to call in sick so you can curl up with not one but TWO new books from top-notch (and personal favorites!) authors Christy Reece and Elisabeth Naughton.

First, Christy: Sweet Justice kicks off a new trilogy. Thank God each book comes out bam-bam-bam (and I don't mean in a Flintstones kind of way) rather than making us wait six months to a year for each new installment.

From Christy's Web site: Honor Stone is a young, idealistic FBI agent when her path collides with Seth Cavanaugh. For a girl who has never walked on the wild side, the dark and dangerous Seth is a temptation she can’t refuse. But then Seth walks out the door and out of her life. Five years later, Honor is an operative with the elite Last Chance Rescue organization and Seth is a desperate ex-cop searching for his missing niece—one of many young women who have mysteriously vanished from college campuses. Going undercover, Honor will attract the maniacal cult leader behind the kidnappings and find a way to work with Seth—while steering clear of the passion and need that’s just one touch away from explosion. Seth knows he had all the right reasons for the wrong he did five years ago. And from the moment he sees her—and takes her in his arms again—this former undercover man will risk everything for one more chance with Honor.

Publisher's Weekly clearly loved it: "Bestseller Reece (Second Chance) kicks off a romantic suspense trilogy with this gripping read featuring members of the Last Chance Rescue organization. Reece nicely balances steamy encounters with the slow unraveling of clues that lead to a chilling pattern of missing girls. A truly frightening, twisted villain and an action-packed finale make this one a page-turner." Yeehaw! (The "yeehaw!" is mine, not PW's, just FYI.)

And if a new Christy Reece book weren't exciting enough, Elisabeth Naughton has a new paranormal romance!

From Elisabeth's Web site: DEMETRIUS—He’s the hulking, brooding warrior his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length. Isadora is missing. The words pound through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius did all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she’s gone—kidnapped. To get her back, he’ll have to go to the black place in his soul he’s always shunned. As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought. And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.

Ohhhh, chills! Publisher's Weekly obviously has excellent taste in books, because its reviewer loved this one, too: "Naturalistic, snappy dialogue, endlessly twisting plots within plots, a cast of complex and eminently likeable characters, and a romance as hot as it is complicated make this an entertaining and smoldering read."

You can find out more about Christy at www.christyreece.com and Elisabeth at www.elisabethnaughton.com.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go call my boss. I'm feeling a little under the weather.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marie Force is one busy author

Hi! Marie Force, one of my favorite-of-all-time authors, has yet another e-book out! I can't keep up.

Today's release is book three in her Fatal series. Which is kinda appropriate to me, cuz if I keep missing all this sleep to read her books, it might kill me. Oh, OK, I'm being melodramatic. That's what I do. But enough about me. Here's the scoop on Fatal Consequences:

The murder of two members of the Capitol Cleaning Service might’ve been just another homicide investigation—that is If one of them hadn’t been romantically involved with a married senator from Arizona. Lt. Sam Holland and her team are plunged into another complex case that at first seems open and shut. But as Sam tugs on the threads of the investigation she uncovers a deep, dark Washington secret that threatens the careers of some of the government’s highest-ranking officials. Racing to catch a killer before he can strike again, Sam and her fiancé, U.S. Senator Nick Cappuano, attempt to plan a wedding while her colleague Detective Tommy “Gonzo” Gonzales faces life-changing news.

You can get it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/qLh4XJ
And B&N: http://bit.ly/nM9NAo

And you can find Marie online at http://www.mariesullivanforce.com

Now I'm off to get some of my own writing done now that Marie's productivity has shamed me into turning off the TV.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What I did on my summer weekend

What do Avatar, Twelve Monkeys and Juno have in common? I’ll give you a minute …

Giving up already? OK, here goes: I lounged on my sofa on Saturday and watched all three movies back to back while I was being majorly lazy. Yeah, I know you had no hope of guessing, but it was fun to make you try. Don’t ask me why I picked those three – except that my DVR was telling me it had only 19% remaining capacity, and Avatar is a long-ass, capacity-hogging movie.

First, I watched Juno. I’m hanging my head in writerly shame for not having seen this movie way sooner. I mean, it came out in 2007. But now that I’ve seen it, I can say it was worth the wait. The dialogue and actors were amazing – and I loved that Juno’s stepmom was not a hateful bitch. How refreshing!

I also created a non-hateful-bitch stepmom for my heroine in Cold Midnight and was proud of myself for being super non-cliché. Juno writer Diablo Cody got there first (and won an Oscar), but I wasn’t far behind. I’m sure there are plenty of books and movies out there with rad stepmoms. I just don’t remember them. Wait. Rad? How old am I anyway?!?!

Next, I watched Twelve Monkeys from 1995. “Why?” you may ask. Three reasons: 1) Bruce Willis, 2) Brad Pitt and 3) A good friend told me it was pretty good. I remember catching glimpses of it a long time ago when my dad was watching it on DVD, but I didn’t pay much attention. It looked like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Blade Runner. Not my idea of a good time then. But I’m older now (remember when I used the word “rad”?) and better able to appreciate movies about crazy people. See, Brucie’s a time traveler sent from the future to stop a virus from wiping out the human race. But when he arrives in the past, he ends up looking like, well, a nutjob. Brad Pitt is there, too, also looking like a nutjob. Amazing how well these two actors portrayed insane characters who weren’t actually insane. At least in Brucie’s case. Brad really was looney tunes – but in a good way. Brad just wanted to free the animals, not end the world as his co-characters assumed.

At any rate, I was entertained, if a little lost at times. And it turns out that what I perceived as a terrible, sad ending was actually quite hopeful. I didn’t figure this out until a friend explained it to me. I’m going to say I didn’t catch the hopeful note at the end cuz I was distracted by Brad’s freakishly rolling left eye. But it could just be that I have the attention span of a bored cat.

Last, I watched Avatar. At nearly three hours long, it freed up lots of space on my DVR when I deleted it. Bottom line: I liked it. I wasn’t crazy about it. I don’t want to watch it again. But I liked it. As everyone knows, the special effects are rad. I totally bought that the Na’vi people exist and that a paraplegic Marine could have his consciousness inserted into a Na’vi avatar so he could fall in love and save the world. Well, the world of Pandora, anyway.

Lots of cliches in this one. White guy puts it all on the line to save people of color. Dad’s not happy his daughter has fallen for the enemy. Misguided military guy blows shit up to gain control of lucrative resources. So while I was entertained, I felt as if I’d seen a lot of it before -- just not looking so damn cool.

It was derivative all over the place: Gee, there’s Romeo and Juliet. And Dances With Wolves. And The Wizard of Oz. Oh, look, it’s How to Train Your Dragon! And whenever Sigourney Weaver was on screen, I kept expecting an alien to come out of the ventilation system. I could already hear her screaming, “Get away from her, you bitch!” But, hey, that might have more to do with the fact that Avatar writer James Cameron also wrote Aliens, which I hadn't remembered until just now. Funny how the brain works.

So, did you watch any movies this weekend? Recommendations?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

New e-book by Marie Force!

I've been waiting for this one! Ready for Love by Marie Force is finally available everywhere e-books are sold. Woo hooooooo!!! (And it's only $2.99.) Ready for Love is the third book in Marie's McCarthys of Gansett Island Series

This one sounds WAY darker than the others, with the heroine struggling to recover from losing her husband and kids. Yikes. That's got to be an emotional roller coaster -- and in the capable hands of Marie, I know it will be escapism at its best.  

Here's a quickie description of Ready for Love:
For four of the best summers of his young life, Luke Harris was in love with Sydney Donovan, a wealthy seasonal visitor to Gansett Island. Then Sydney went off to college and never came back. She married another man and had two children while Luke remained on the island, working at McCarthy's Gansett Marina and wondering what had gone wrong between him and the only woman he ever loved. Fifteen months after Sydney suffers the tragic loss of her husband and children, she's returned to Gansett to figure out what's next, and that may very well be a rekindled love affair with the one man from her past she’s never forgotten. But is she ready for a second chance at love?

You can find Ready for Love at:
Barnes & Noble
All Romance Ebooks

And you can find Marie online at http://www.mariesullivanforce.com/

Have you read any of Marie's books? I have a tough time putting them down. Which is not good when you need your beauty rest!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Horn tooting

Hi! True Vision has won some awards lately, so of course I have to share. I'm even going to do a bulleted list! Whee!!!

  • The Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in single title romantic suspense from the Kiss of Death chapter of Romance Writers of America. The other finalists were: Risk No Secrets by Cindy Gerard, Unforgiven by Laura Griffin, White Heat by Brenda Novak and Cover of Darkness by Kaylea Cross.
  • The Holt Medallion for Best Book by a Virginia Author from Virginia Romance Writers. The other finalists: Chivalrous Captain, Rebel Mistress by Diane Gaston, "Hearts Untamed" in Bitten by Cupid by Pamela Palmer, Rapture Untamed by Pamela Palmer and The Perfect Blend by Trish Perry.
  • An Award of Merit in romantic suspense from Virginia Romance Writers. The other finalists: Broken Angels by Anne Hope (winner), Cavanaugh Reunion by Marie Ferrarella, Killer Heat by Brenda Novak and Cold Sight by Leslie Parrish.
  • Finalist in The Readers' Crown by RomCon and sponsored by Borders Books. The other finalists: Risk No Secrets by Cindy Gerard (winner, tie), White Heat by Brenda Novak (winner, tie), Body Heat by Brenda Novak and Naked Edge by Pamela Clare. 
So ... yay me. Yep, that's feel awkward, but there you go. :) But I gotta tell you, I'm thrilled to be in such fantastic company!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New release worth checking out!

You guys, you gotta check out The Look of Love by Bella Andre. It's the first book in a fun, sexy, and emotional contemporary romance series about the Sullivan family (six hot brothers and their twin sisters). Did I mention six HOT brothers? SIX of them! I can't wait to read this.

Carly Phillips called THE LOOK OF LOVE, "an emotionally compelling, thoroughly sexy, lovely read. I can't wait for more brothers!"  Barbara Freethy said, "THE LOOK OF LOVE is the perfect combination of sexy heat and tender heart. This character driven romance has brains, brawn and the perfect bad boy to launch a whole family's worth of fun." And according to the fabulous Marie Force, "THE LOOK OF LOVE is pure sensual fun! I couldn't read fast enough. I loved everything about Chase and Chloe's story. I'm hooked on the Sullivans!" With endorsements like that, how could you resist?

A successful photographer who travels the world and has his pick of beautiful women, Chase Sullivan thinks life is great just as it is – until he finds Chloe and her totaled car in a ditch on the side of the road in Napa Valley. She's utterly lovely, both inside and out, and he's soon willing to move mountains to love - and protect - her. But will she let him? Unfortunately, a wrecked car is not the worst thing to happen to Chloe that day. The bruise on her cheek can attest to that. She's vowed never to make the mistake of trusting a man again. Surely, the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of a rain storm is too good to be true. Or is he? Because with every loving look Chase gives her - and every sinfully sweet caress - as the attraction between them sparks and sizzles, she can't help but wonder if she's met the only exception. Although Chase didn't realize his life was going to change forever in an instant, amazingly, he isn't the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he's gearing up for a different fight altogether...for Chloe's heart.

I hope you get a chance to check it out -- and let me know what you think! 
THE LOOK OF LOVE is available as an e-book here:
Smashwords (all digital formats / international readers): http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/66687 
All Romance Ebooks: http://tinyurl.com/5vezxm4 
Apple iBookstore and paperback coming soon!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Interview with favorite author Elisabeth Naughton!

One of my favorite things about being an author is talking with other authors about their books. Today I'm thrilled to talk with Elisabeth Naughton! Her latest release, a story in the romantic suspense anthology BODYGUARDS IN BED (love that title!), just came out. I'm thinking you won't want to miss it, cuz, you know, it's about bodyguards. In bed. : ) But before we get to talking about that, let's talk about some other fun stuff. And if you leave a comment here, you could win your choice of one of Elisabeth's books: BODYGUARDS IN BED or MARKED or ENTWINED. 

Welcome, Elisabeth!

Joyce: What's the funniest e-mail or note you've gotten from a reader? What about the most touching? 
Elisabeth: The funniest email was from a reader who said she was going to stomp her foot and act like a five year old having a temper tantrum because she just couldn’t wait for the release of TEMPTED. Because I switched publishers there’s more than a year gap between books 2 and 3 in the Eternal Guardians series, and while that couldn’t be helped, this email from a fan who just can’t wait both made me laugh and smile. Romance fans are the best fans in the world!

The most touching was from a reader who told me reading my books helped them get through cancer treatments. That brought tears to my eyes.

Joyce: If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why? 

Elisabeth: Invisibility. Would love to sneak around and hear what people are saying when they think no one’s listening.

Are there any rejections or naysayers from the past that make you think "neener neener boo boo" now that you're a rousing success? What did they say and did that make you more determined to prove them wrong? (Feel free to change or omit names to protect the guilty.)

Elisabeth: Yes. I once had an editor reject a book because she called it “immature writing”. When that book--STOLEN FURY--double finaled in the RITAs in 2010, I have to admit to having a moment of neener-neener boo-boo.

The point of this is that editors are just as fickle as readers, and their choices of which manuscripts to publish are as varied as readers' opinions. What one editor doesn’t like, another falls in love with. So if you’re a writer, don’t get discouraged, just keep on submitting.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one man, one book and one kind of food (other than your significant other, one of my books : ) and chocolate), what would you choose? 

Elisabeth: Since my husband already knows about this crush (and I can’t pick the hubby...LOL) I’ll admit to having a thing for Paul Walker. Sometimes I watch Into The Blue just to see him in swim trunks. *swoon* (And since he’s my age that doesn’t make me a cougar, right? RIGHT?). The book is easy too…Perfect by Judith McNaught. My all-time favorite romance. As for food though…hm…now that is much harder to answer. If we were stranded on a deserted island we could probably find all the fish and fruit we’d need to survive, but as for splurge food I’d probably have to go with an endless supply of Ruby beer from McMenamins. (Beer’s its own food group, isn’t it?)

Do you have a favorite among your own books? What about it makes it your favorite?

Elisabeth: That’s a hard question because EVERY book I write is my favorite when I’m finished with it. (The book I’m writing is always my LEAST favorite.) As far as special books go…STOLEN FURY holds a special place in my heart because it was my first published book and it was a double RITA nominated book. In my Eternal Guardians series though, TEMPTED is a personal favorite because I absolutely fell in love with Demetrius while writing it (and it’s my “next up” book so it’s in the front of my mind). But overall, I love all my characters and all my books. I have to, otherwise I wouldn’t write them.

What’s your sign? For instance, mine is Yield. Or, when I was particularly annoyed with my boyfriend, Do Not Enter. (Did I just say that?!?)
LOL. LOVE your signs! Hm…mine would have to be…Proceed with Caution. You just never know what kind of mood I’m going to be in.

What question have you been burning to answer that no one has asked you? (And please answer it!)

Elisabeth: How do you stay so sane? (The answer would be wine…lots and lots of wine.)

Have you ever done anything odd or gotten into trouble while doing research? For instance, an author friend (Susan Vaughan -- ask her!) was escorted out of a Smithsonian museum after she started drilling a security guard about the museum's security protocols. 

Elisabeth: Moi? Nevah. *wink*

When I was writing STOLEN SEDUCTION I needed to figure out how I could kill someone and not make it look like murder. I asked my pharmaceutical sales hubby but all the ideas he gave me were long-acting ways to kill someone and I needed something quick. He finally said he’d ask a doctor friend of his whom he calls on for work. So he sent the doctor an email, explaining that his wife was an author and needed to figure out how to kill someone and not make it look like murder. The doctor emailed back, 3 words: GET A LAWYER.

To this day I still laugh about that.

The other funny moment was when I was in Reno with friends for Superbowl weekend. We were all in the casino, sitting at the blackjack table, having fun. Granted, I’d spilled my drink a few times (I tend toward the klutz end of the spectrum in real life), but the security guard didn’t find it funny in the least when I started peppering him with questions about casino jail. When I asked if I could go there and see what it was like (for purely research reasons, of course), my girlfriend noticed he was ready to take me there for real for being so obnoxious and pulled me out of the casino before I got into trouble. I’m still interested in seeing casino jail though… 

Please tell us about your new release!
I love talking about new releases! My latest release is BODYGUARDS IN BED, a romantic suspense anthology featuring yours truly, Lucy Monroe and Jamie Denton, which hit store shelves on May 31st. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Sometimes you have to go beyond the call of duty…

There’s just one cardinal rule when it comes to being a bodyguard: no matter how tempting it may be, never, ever get romantically involved with the person you’re supposed to be protecting. But as these sensual novellas prove, even the most important rules are made to be broken–again and again and again. Join acclaimed authors Lucy Monroe, Jamie Denton, and Elisabeth Naughton as they open the files on an undercover operative who finds a sexy surprise under his covers, a hot case involving mixed messages and mistaken identities, and a mission impossible protecting a provocative beauty who lives to love dangerously.

Yeah, it’s a hard job, but someone’s gotta do it.

And a little about my novella in the book: Acapulco Heat:

Sun, sand, skin and plenty of sex. That’s the name of the game in beautiful Acapulco.

Bodyguard Finn Tierney’s new gig in the sultry city is nothing short of perfect. Too bad he can’t stand it. Hired to protect supermodel Lauren Kauffman during her very public, very sexy cosmetic shoot on the beach, Finn’s itching for a serious assignment and the chance to get away from the hot bod who’s set her sights set on him. Their mutual attraction has been brewing for some time, but he’s got no use for the super wealthy, isn’t about to become another diva’s boy toy. His no-fun-at-work motto might get him booted out of her bed, but when danger strikes, she won’t be able to shake him. And when he discovers things aren’t what they seem and that she’s more than a pretty face and smokin’ body, all bets are off. Lauren Kauffman’s about to take Finn for a ride he never saw coming. And there’s no telling who will survive.

You can read more here: http://www.elisabethnaughton.com/books/bodyguards-in-bed/

My NEXT single title release is the third book in my Eternal Guardians Series – TEMPTED – which hits store shelves September 6, 2011:

DEMETRIUS—He’s the hulking, brooding warrior his fellow Guardians avoid. Too dark. Too damaged. And given his heritage, he knows it’s best to keep everyone at arm’s length.

Isadora is missing. The words pounded through his head like a frantic drumbeat. For her own protection, Demetrius had done all he could to avoid the fragile princess, his soul mate. And now she was gone—kidnapped. To get her back, he’ll have to go to the black place in his soul he’s always shunned. As daemons ravage the human realm and his loyalty to the Guardians is put to the ultimate test, Demetrius realizes that Isadora is stronger than anyone thought. And finally letting her into his heart may be the only way to save them both.

I’m really excited for TEMPTED to reach readers. Like I said above, I absolutely fell in love with Demetrius while writing this book and I hope readers love him just as much. To read more (and an excerpt!) visit: http://www.elisabethnaughton.com/books/tempted/

Where can we find you online?
Elisabeth: All over!
Website: www.elisabethnaughton.com 
Blog: www.elisabethnaughton.com/blog 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elisabeth.naughton1 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/ElisNaughton 
Casablanca Authors: http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/

And don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win your choice of one of Elisabeth's books: BODYGUARDS IN BED or MARKED or ENTWINED.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview with best-selling author Pamela Clare!

Today I'm excited to introduce you to best-selling author Pamela Clare. Her romantic historical and suspense novels make me want to strive to be a better writer. Pamela's latest, Breaking Point, was released to rave reviews last week. Perfect timing, too, cuz it stars a Navy SEALs hero. As we all know, Navy SEALs are the heroes who finally took out public enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden. 

Without further ado, here's my interview with Pamela ... and please leave a comment for a chance to win Pamela's awesome Breaking Point!
Q: What kind of Navy SEALs research did you do for Breaking Point?
Pamela: I’m a very visual and auditory person, so I watched countless documentaries on SEAL training, and I watched them over and over again, trying to digest the way of thinking, the vocabulary and so on. It helps that I have a relative who is a SEAL and who served in Afghanistan, where Zach McBride, my hero, served. When I asked if he would mind helping me out, he said, “Ask me whatever you want. If I can’t answer it, there are 300 other guys here who might be able to do it.” The idea of 300 SEALs was really appealing. Obviously, my relative — I’m being deliberately vague here — couldn’t answer questions about specific missions or other classified things, but in terms of the experience and routine of being a SEAL, all of that was available to me.

When I watched the videos, it was important for me to watch not only what was going on in the foreground, but also what was happening in the background where people probably didn’t know they were on camera. Things SEALs said or SEAL instructors said helped grow Zach’s character and his responses in my mind.

Q: Which came first: journalism or romance writing? Do the two ever intersect? 
Pamela: Journalism came first. But I entered journalism (at the tender age of 20) because I knew I wanted to write novels one day, and I thought that being a journalist would give me lots of practice writing on deadline. And it most certainly did. What I didn’t know is that it would also offer me a wealth of story ideas. Not only do the two careers intersect in my life, they collide.
I went into investigative journalism, which is really its own thing, and that exposed me to a range of experiences most people, including journalists, just don’t have. I’ve had death threats, two stalkers and had a gun held on me twice. I’ve seen dead people, human brains splattered on a wall... Because of all that, it was my agent’s idea that I write romantic suspense. I started with historicals, but she encouraged me to put my day job to use fueling a romantic suspense series. That’s where the I-Team series came from.

Q: I hear from a lot of my journalist friends that they'd like to write fiction. Why do you think so many journalists want to be novelists? 
Pamela: A lot of journalists love the written word, and I think it’s natural for people who love language, who love words, to want to write something more than articles about the latest city council meeting. Plus, one poll I saw claimed that some 80 percent of Americans believe they have a novel inside them that they’d like to write. So perhaps there’s something about being a novelist that just appeals to everyone. When I’m up late trying hard to finish a book on deadline and I haven’t slept for two days, I wonder what that appeal is.  

Q: What's the funniest e-mail or note you've ever gotten from a reader? What about most touching?
Pamela: I recently read a review in which a reader said she wanted to divorce her husband and marry me. She wasn’t serious, of course; she was just expressing her love of the I-Team series, which she had pretty much devoured in a couple of weeks. That was pretty funny. Most of the emails I get are very touching, heartfelt messages, but one that has stayed with me for years came from a 9/11 survivor — she had been in the shadow of the North Tower when it collapsed — who said that my stories helped her cope with her post-traumatic stress syndrome. But periodically authors get messages from someone who just lost a family member or who’s dealing with a serious illness who picked up our books, read them and felt their burden lightened. Those messages never fail to choke me up.

Q: Are there any rejections or naysayers from the past that make you think "neener neener boo boo" now that you're a rousing success? What did they say and did that make you more determined to prove them wrong? (Feel free to change or omit names to protect the guilty.)
Pamela: The first book I wrote was the first book I published, so I have had a really blessed path in publishing. However, there were lots of people who told me that I needed to write more market-conscious books, rather than books that dealt with issues and time periods that aren’t popular. The I-Team series deals with a team of investigative journalists who get into all manner of trouble (most of it based on things I’ve reported on). My Kenleigh-Blakewell Family trilogy and my MacKinnon’s Rangers series are set in pre-Revolutionary Colonial America, not Regency England. And none of my books involves anything paranormal. But I wanted to write what I wanted to write, so despite being rejected by most publishing houses when my agent tried to sell that first historical, I’ve found or created a little niche for myself. Ten books of “unpopular” times/topics kind of calls into doubt the idea that they’re really all that unpopular.

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be? 
Pamela: To transport myself anywhere in the world by simply thinking of that place. Then I could visit my sister in Sweden and my friends in Europe and my two sons any time I chose. Bam! I’d be there.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one man, one book and one kind of food (other than chocolate), what would you choose? 
Pamela: Wow, that would be rough! And you’ve excluded chocolate! Hmmm... Well, the man would have to be Viggo Mortensen, I think. He’s smart, sexy, multilingual (I speak Danish; so does he). As for the book, I would probably take The Lord of the Rings. It was published in a single volume at one point, so that’s one book. Either that or something by Charles Dickens. And food... If there’s nothing else to eat on the island, that’s a survival question. But I’ll take it to mean there are bananas and coconuts and greens and monkeys to eat... And I would take ice cream. I love ice cream.

Q: What's your favorite way to procrastinate? 
Pamela: Internet. Someone take it away from me, please!

Q: Do you have a favorite among your own books? (Come on, you know you have one.)
Pamela: Ride the Fire is the most wrenching book I’ve written for me and a deeply personal book, too. When I finished it, I was utterly and completely destroyed. It carries great meaning for me. Unlawful Contact was very special to me because it focused on all my years of prison reporting (and included an element of the HEA that I later turned into reality in Colorado when I got a bill passed that bans the shackling of jail and prison inmates during labor and childbirth). Surrender, too, means a lot to me, because I love that setting so desperately. And then there’s Hard Evidence and Julian Darcangelo. I don’t really have to explain that one to anyone who’s read the book. 

Q: How do you prepare to write your awesome love scenes? A glass of wine? A particular movie or book? Sexy music? Gazing upon the cover of one of your books?
Pamela: I have a playlist of songs that I’m always updating that have a sexy or romantic. Actually, I have two lists — a down-and-dirty sex playlist and a sweet-romantic playlist. The former includes things like Nine Inch Nails’ Closer and Madonna’s Justify My Love, while the former might include Julio Iglesias and other softer, more romantic songs. I think writing love scenes is hard work — they’re the toughest part of the books to write. All the jokes people make about that — "How do you do your research?" — really don’t reflect the fact that writing sex is like writing any other part of a novel. I don’t want the language to be repetitive from book to book, yet how many ways are there to describe an orgasm? And though I want the scenes to be fresh, there’s nothing in the world of sex than humans haven’t explored. So the scenes have to focus on the emotion between the hero and heroine, because the rest of it is just motion and mechanics.

Q: Please tell us about your books, including your latest, Breaking Point (can't WAIT to read it!). 
Pamela: Breaking Point is the fifth book in the I-Team series. It is written to stand alone so those who are new to the series won’t feel lost when reading it. However, it does contain little gems and fun moments for people who’ve read all the I-Team books. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

While investigating border violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Denver journalist Natalie Benoit is caught in a bloody ambush and taken captive. Alone in the hands of ruthless killers, she will need every ounce of courage she possesses to survive.

Betrayed by another operative, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride, a former Navy SEAL, has endured a week of torture and interrogation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Ready to give his life if he must, he remains unbroken—until he hears the cries of an American woman.

Although Natalie is only a voice in the darkness of their shared prison, her plight brings renewed strength to Zach’s battered body. With her help, he overpowers their captors, and they flee through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun.

But past loss and tragedy leave both of them reluctant to follow their hearts, even when the passion between them reaches its breaking point. Faced with feelings neither expected, they fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both…

Breaking Point
is my most action-packed story to date, but I try very hard not to lose the romance thread. The I-Team stories typically appeal to readers who want romantic suspense. 

I’m very proud of the story and the work that went in to re-creating the world of border violence, and I’ve loved sharing it with readers so far.

Thanks so much, Joyce, for having me as a guest on your blog.

Thank YOU, Pamela for being here (and being such an inspiring writer!). You can find out more about Pamela at her website, pamelaclare.com, and read her blog here.

Don't forget: One lucky commenter will win a copy of Breaking Point. (Be sure to leave your e-mail address.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Another favorite author's release!

Yes, I'm blessed with many writer friends who ROCK! Yesterday, Virna De Paul's Chosen By Blood hit store shelves. Seems I've been waiting for this release forever! I met Virna at a writers retreat in Maine, and I knew immediately that she was going places -- and she hadn't yet sold a book to a publisher. But you know how sometimes you just know? Or maybe I'm psychic. Happens. At any rate, she was soon publishing like crazy.

Here's the skinny on Chosen By Blood:

Five years after the Second Civil War ends, humans and otherborn— humanlike creatures with superhuman DNA—still struggle for peace. To ensure the continued rights of both, the FBI forms a Para-Ops team with a unique set of skills.

Leader of an Otherborn clan, half-breed vampire Knox Devereaux would do anything to find a cure for the anti-vamp vaccine slowly starving his people into extinction. When the FBI contacts him about leading a team of hand-selected Others on a mission to reclaim the stolen antidote, Knox accepts. His new assignment places him in direct contact with Special Agent Felicia Locke, the beautiful human he’s craved since their very first meeting.

Virna has gotten some spectacular writerly endorsements (not surprised!):

"Incredibly well-written, different, and hot." -NYT Bestselling Author Larissa Ione

“Virna DePaul is amazing! Chosen by Blood is a unique, hot, spellbinding treat for all paranormal romance fans. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!” --NYT Bestselling Author Lori Foster

"A gripping tale! In CHOSEN BY BLOOD, Virna DePaul creates the perfect blend of danger, intrigue and romance. You won’t be able to put this book down." --NYT Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

“You won’t want to miss this one!” —Karin Tabke

“Sexy, suspenseful.” —Eileen Rendahl

The best blurby word, in my humble opinion, is "different." Oh, and "hot," of course, but you already knew that. I'm kinda predictable that way. :) But I digress. "Different" is a fantastic word to describe this book, cuz Virna dares to break some of the romance "rules." That's the mark of a great writer!

Check out Virna's awesome website here. You can follow her on Twitter here. And Like her on Facebook here. I swear you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New book by a favorite author!

Pamela Clare's Breaking Point is out today! I'm soooooo psyched! And not just because the cover has been distracting me all day. Can you say HOT? (Fanning self.)

Breaking Point is the fifth in a series about some very hot(!) heroes but can be read all by itself -- and it received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Jealous! Oh, and it's HOT. In case I didn't mention that earlier.

Like me, Pamela has a dual life as a romantic suspense author and as a journalist -- except she's won awards in her newspaper career.

Here's a quick teaser about her book: While investigating border violence in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Denver journalist Natalie Benoit is caught in a bloody ambush and taken captive. Alone in the hands of ruthless killers, she will need every ounce of courage she possesses to survive.

Betrayed by another operative, Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal Zach McBride, a former Navy SEAL, has endured a week of torture and interrogation at the hands of a bloodthirsty Mexican drug cartel. Ready to give his life if he must, he remains unbroken—until he hears the cries of an American woman.

Although Natalie is only a voice in the darkness of their shared prison, her plight brings renewed strength to Zach’s battered body. With her help, he overpowers their captors, and they flee through the desert toward the border, the attraction between them flaring hotter than the Sonoran sun.

But past loss and tragedy leave both of them reluctant to follow their hearts, even when the passion between them reaches its breaking point. Faced with feelings neither expected, they fight to stay ahead of the danger that hunts them as forces more powerful than they can imagine conspire to destroy them both …

Click here to check out an excerpt of Breaking Point. And be prepared to go from that to your nearest bookstore. Might as well find your keys and get your shoes on right now. :) Did I mention that it's HOT? (Just checking.)

You can find out about Pamela's other awesome books at her website, here. You can follow her on Twitter, too: And Like her on Facebook.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The true colors of Dexter

I've just finished watching the first season of Dexter. Holy cow, I was riveted. One of the things I love most about the show is the theme of nature vs. nurture. You know the theory, right? Some people believe that how a person is raised, or nurtured, determines who they become as an adult. Others believe a person becomes who they are because that's the way they were born -- that's their nature.

(If you haven't seen the first season of Dexter and plan to watch it, please be aware that there are MAJOR spoilers ahead. Turn back now!)

For the entire first season of Dexter, another serial killer plays a game with our hero. The so-called Ice Truck Killer taunts Dexter with clues about who he is (and about who Dexter is, though Dexter doesn't realize that). Dexter is fascinated by the Ice Truck Killer and enjoys the game. It's a puzzle for him to solve. There's an underlying theme about blood -- Dexter is a forensics specialist of some sort who works with blood and the Ice Truck Killer drains the blood of his victims. You find out the significance of that at the end of the season: The Ice Truck Killer is the brother Dexter hasn't seen, or remembered, since he was 3, when they witnessed their mother's horrific slaughter then spent three days trapped in a cargo container in her pool of blood. Hence, the focus on blood -- they're literally blood brothers.

What's so incredibly cool about the nature vs. nurture theme of this storyline is this: Yes, Dexter is a serial killer. But he kills only people who are also killers. He was raised by his adoptive father who recognized Dexter's "nature" and helped him to deal with it in a way that has both protected Dexter from discovery and forced him to have standards for who and why he kills. So Dexter's "nature" is to kill, but his father "nurtured" him to develop the way he kills.

Dexter's brother, Brian, on the other hand, had no such "father" to nurture him. His nature is to kill, like Dexter's, but Brian has become a serial killer with no qualms about killing innocent people -- probably like most serial killers. Because, you know, I know so many.

The game between Dexter and Brian reaches its climax when Brian kidnaps Dexter's half-sister (who Brian has also wooed into being his lover) and wants Dexter to help him kill her. Now, Dexter is a sociopath, so technically he's not supposed to feel any emotions. But he has to make a choice: kill his sister, who's kind of annoyed him lately with all her demands that he open up to her emotionally, or kill his newly discovered brother, who totally understands who Dexter is and why. 

But Dexter can't bring himself to kill his half-sister, because, as he says, "I’m fond of her." Brian has no problem with killing her, even though he's developed their relationship all the way up to a marriage proposal. So while Dexter is technically a sociopath, he still feels affection for his sister -- because of his nurturing upbringing by his father. Brian had no such nurturing upbringing. So when Dexter makes the choice -- his sister, who doesn't have any idea who he really is, or his brother, the only person alive who does know who he is and understands him -- it's devastating. But nurture wins over nature.

Another reason this theme speaks to me is that I explore it in my new release, True Colors. In that, the villain, Butch Magee, is "trained" from a young age by another serial killer. Butch already had serial killer tendencies, what with dismembering small animals as a kid and such. So his "nature" is already established when the serial killer kidnaps him and starts the training. The heroine, Alex, has the psychic ability to "flash" back on another person's most traumatic episodes, which she experiences and feels as if they actually happened to her. When she gets kidnapped by Butch, she starts flashing on all the things that happened to him as he grew up with his kidnapper, the things that "trained" him to be a serial killer. When Alex escapes, she worries that she's somehow damaged, because she experienced the same things Butch did, and at a very accelerated pace. But the hero, Logan, points out that being a killer is not her nature and the way she was raised, or nurtured, will prevent her from losing her sense of right and wrong.  

It was an interesting theme to explore, so I was especially thrilled when the same theme popped up in Dexter. Now if I could just get Showtime to make a series based on my True trilogy!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I set my books to music

I love music. I mean, LOVE it. When I was in third grade, I played the violin. Apparently, I was pretty good at it, cuz after only a few months of getting lessons as part of a group, I started receiving them one-on-one from the violin teacher, Ms. Kuchenmeister. I swear I'm not making that up. That was her name. And she WAS kinda kooky. I mean that totally affectionately. 

So anyway, after giving up the violin -- cuz, you know, I was expected to practice. Ew. -- I promptly fell in love with Tommy Roe's greatest hits album. It was Mom's before I claimed it. I would play that puppy over and over. (Fun fact: In True Vision, heroine Charlie sings my favorite Tommy Roe song, Sweet Pea, in her head to center herself when her psychic ability gets out of hand.) Next, I fell for David Cassidy and the Partridge Family, replaying the single I Think I Love You full blast on my Fisher-Price turntable until I'm sure my dad wanted to cram himself into a corner, cover his ears and just rock.  

My love of music snowballed from there. I won't bore you with how many days' worth of music I have stored in my iTunes (29.9), but I will get to the point: Given my love of music, it's fitting that when I write a book, I usually pick a certain kind of music or even a particular artist to listen to while I write. My choice varies by book, and I think of the music I've chosen as the "soundtrack" of that book. 

Some of my "soundtracks":
  • True Vision: Minnie Driver's album Everything I've Got in My Pocket. Minnie Driver, the actress, you say? Yep. She has a beautiful voice. Smooth and mellow, and her music is very non-intrusive. That’s not to say it’s boring. Boring music works for me only when I’m trying to sleep, and that’s not good when there’s a book deadline. I recently downloaded Driver’s latest record, but I haven’t listened to it much yet. I'm thinking my subconscious is keeping me away from it in case it ends up serving as the soundtrack for my next book.
  • True Colors: The soundtrack of the second season of Battlestar Galactica (the remade version, not the one from the '80s). The music, by the amazing Bear McCreary (love that name!), was the perfect backdrop for the dark, haunting mood of True Colors. I listened to it repeatedly but never got tired of it, because the music became a part of the story. When I hear it now, my brain immediately slips into True Colors mode. Which isn’t a great mode to be in, cuz True Colors is pretty dark. Sort of like Battlestar Galactica!
  • True Calling: My music choices for this one, the third in the True trilogy (to be released in December), were more eclectic. I listened to selections from the movie soundtracks of The Fountain, Crash and Up. I also listened to Battlestar Galactica again, as well as mellow piano music by David Lanz and Suzanne Ciani (kinda New Age-y -- very pretty) and, believe it or not, a song or two from Cirque du Soleil. I'm not sure why my choices were more eclectic. Maybe because the hero, Mac, is somewhat of a goof at times, so he keeps the dark plot a bit lighter than the plot in True Colors, so that led to mixing in lighter fare instead of sticking with the moody BSG.
  • Cold Midnight: This one was easy: Sarah McLachlan all the way. Why? Angst. Lots and lots and lots of angst. No one does angst better than Sarah McLachlan, in my opinion.
So … what about you? If you had to pick a soundtrack, say, for your life right now, what would it be?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another recommendation scores: How to Train Your Dragon

Over the holidays, I watched How to Train Your Dragon, another recommendation by a good friend. Man, my friends have good taste! 

How to Train Your Dragon is an animated adventure starring Hiccup, who lives in a village of dragon-hating Vikings. His goal in life ... well, not his goal in life, but his family’s goal for his life, is for him to become a dragon slayer as fierce as his father. Thing is, while Hiccup desperately wants to slay dragons, to please his father and to fit in, he doesn’t really have the stomach for it. He’s more the cerebral type.

One night, he manages to take down the Holy Grail of dragons: a night fury. No one has ever seen a night fury up close, let alone brought one down. Hiccup is beside himself with excitement ... until he finds the incapacitated dragon and can’t bring himself to finish it off. Instead, he frees the dragon from its bonds. He returns the next day to see the dragon trying to fly, but it can’t, because his tail was injured when Hiccup captured him. Hiccup returns again, bearing food for the dragon. What follows is the development of an endearing friendship between Hiccup and the dragon, affectionately named Toothless.

Toothless is so darn cute he reminds me of my equally cute cat, Allie. Naturally, I couldn’t get a pic of her making the face Toothless is making at above, but I swear on a stack of Fancy Feast that she’s made that exact same expression more than once. But I digress. 

I won’t spoil you any more than I already have on How to Train Your Dragon, but suffice to say the tale’s (tail’s!) a good one. It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. It’ll make you write a blog post about it.

So, hey, what’s your favorite animated movie? I’m also partial to Up. I love the song that plays when the house first takes flight with all the balloons -- it’s good music to write to.

Monday, January 3, 2011

I'm in love with a sociopath

Through the magic of Netflix and Apple TV, I’ve finally gotten to watch Dexter, the critically acclaimed Showtime series (it’s won Emmys!) about a lovable serial killer. I was skeptical. A lovable serial killer? Kittens are lovable. Puppies are lovable. My nieces and nephews and great-nieces are lovable. But a serial killer? Friends I respect no matter what goofy things they recommend insisted I would like this show. So I gave it a try.

Let me say first: I love my Apple TV! Dexter streams so seamlessly through Netflix onto my high-def Vizio that I catch myself admiring the picture instead of paying attention to what I’m watching. It makes me so very happy. 

On to Dexter: I’m only four or so episodes in, and my friends were right: I love it. Michael C. Hall, who I thought would in my mind forever be David Fisher of Six Feet Under, is a totally different person as Dexter Morgan. Which makes sense. I mean, the guy’s an actor, after all. But still. I loved Hall as David Fisher. He was the kind, thoughtful brother who balanced the whiny, narcissistic Nate, played by Peter Krause. It still irks me that Six Feet Under killed off David’s gorgeous partner, Keith, in the series finale. And no matter how many times I watch Brothers & Sisters, Rachel Griffiths will always be the self-destructive Brenda to me. The day Sarah Walker has sex with a stranger in a department store, I won’t be surprised. But I digress. Happens.

Back to Dexter: The storytelling in this show is rich with details. Only four eps in, and I already know how Dexter became a serial killer and how long he’s struggled to hide the fact that he’s a sociopath. It’s interesting, to me anyway, that all the things he does to “pretend” he’s normal are the things that endear him to me. He says and does the right things to put his emotionally damaged girlfriend at ease. He dotes on her kids. He looks out for his sister. And he’s helping the police track another serial killer. It’s a game to him, but he’s still helping. 

What I love most about Dexter: The people he tortures and kills are bad, bad people. The innocent appear to be safe with him. In one of the early eps, for instance, his girlfriend, Rita, has a problem with her super bitchy neighbor, who’s not taking very good care of the dog her ex left behind. She’s not starving it or anything. She just leaves it in the back yard, where it cries and whines a lot. Dexter tries to get the neighbor to take the dog inside, because the crying is upsetting Rita’s kids and interrupting their sleep. The cranky neighbor blows him off. She also blows off Rita, leveling a cruel jab or two at her, too. As I was watching, I kept thinking, “Dexter needs to kill that bitch.” And I kinda worried about what might happen to the dog. But Dexter does nothing to either one -- because even though the neighbor is a cold-hearted witch, she’s innocent. Turns out, I was the one who wanted her dead, not Dexter. And I’m not a sociopath. (I swear!)  

I’m looking forward to how this series plays out. I expect good things. And I expect Dexter will keep playing with my morals and emotions. Sounds good to me!

Anybody else watching Dexter? Or maybe you discovered a great TV show or movie that you at first thought wouldn't appeal to you?