Saturday, December 05, 2009

Wildcard Weekend - Lyn Cote

This weekend have a visit with Love Inspired author Lyn Cote and find out about her Holiday book hitting the shelves next week!

My Christmas release debuts Tuesday December 8th! Her Patchwork Family, my Love Inspired Historical, is my second December book.

I do love to write about holidays in my romances. Holidays are evocative occasions. Of course not all holidays evoke memories and emotion. I have never really gotten jazzed about Arbor Day or President's Day.  But Valentine's Day, Easter Sunday, May Day (when my kids were little and we made May baskets to hang on our neighbors' door knobs!), Fourth of July ( I LUV FIREWORKS!), Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve-- YES! Christmas and then New Year's Day make up the grand finale of my latest romance.

Her Patchwork Family is the second in my Gabriel Sisters series. Each one is being released in December 2008-2010. My heroine is Felicity Gabriel. And here's more about her story:

"Christmas is for Families…And Felicity Gabriel intends to build a family right away! When she inherits a mansion in Illinois in 1867, she decides to turn it into a home for orphans. But her first charges test her resolve. One child is a thief, suspicious of her kindness. The other is the local judge's traumatized daughter. Broken by war, Judge Tyrone Hawkins is devastated when his little girl runs from him to Felicity. But Felicity's courage despite the town's scorn for her orphanage and her caring way with his daughter restore his lost faith. Now he wonders if they all can find the family they seek…just in time for Christmas."  

I loved writing this story and since it's perfect for gift-giving, Iwill be passing it out several to friends and relatives. If you'd like a chance to win a signed copy, drop by my blog .  Leave a comment and you'll be eligible for weekly drawings in December 2009. One winner per week.

I'm sure that if I asked, everyone could give me a holiday memory, some sad and some happy. Why don't you share a memory? A happy memory or meaningful one or a silly one. How about embarrassing???

Lyn's holiday release is Her Patchwork Family.  Pick it up starting Dec. 8 and visit Lyn at her site:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Must Watch Friday - Helen Brenna puts the Oh in Ohio

This Friday Helen Brenna returns with a lesser known treat:  The Oh in Ohio!

“Priscilla Chase (Parker Posey) seems to have everything going for her – the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect husband – except in bed, where sex has always left her a bit short of the finish line. When her husband unexpectedly leaves her to regain his manhood, Priscilla embarks on a wild journey that ultimately leads her to love in the most unlikely place … One woman’s story is about to climax …”

I know this movie was released a couple years ago, but I don’t remember seeing or hearing any info about it when it first came through theaters. So when I saw it on the shelf at Blockbuster I didn’t know what to expect. I rented it to watch with my twenty year old daughter when we were both at home having a sick day.

About five minutes into it, she turned to me and said, “I can’t believe I’m watching this with you!” That might have been half the fun of it for me!

As the back cover blurb explains, Parker Posey’s life ain’t all its cracked up to be. She’s a successful marketing exec who’s just received a promotion, but she can’t hold her yoga poses, if you know what I mean. Oh, all right, I’ll spell it out for you. She’s never (gasp!) had an orgasm.

Somewhere along the way, the movie states that 30 million women suffer from sexual dysfunction. I have no clue if there’s any truth to that statistic, but watching the main character’s attempts to rectify her situation are hilarious. Let’s just say she has a love affair with a certain vibrating mechanical object and, once she gets going, can’t seem to stop herself. I laughed in this movie the way my husband laughed in “There’s Something About Mary.”

Usually, I’m a big dialogue person, and it’s not that the dialogue is bad or anything, it just doesn’t seem as important as the body language and facial expressions. I’ve never seen a movie where so much is not said, yet everything is understood so perfectly. Which gets me to wonderful the acting.

Parker Posey is adorable in her role as Priscilla Chase, the main character, and Paul Rudd is flawless as her not entirely pathetic husband. Danny DeVito, as always, is a kick. Those three make the movie. The only disappointment is Mischa Barton. Her performance is nothing short of wooden, making her character seem unbelievable. Oh, but Heather Graham has a couple short scenes. She’s someone I’ve never really cared for, but this movie changed my opinion. Very funny stuff.

The ending is sweet, leaves a smile on your face, and brings home the point that being able to laugh with someone can make or break a relationship.

Has anyone else seen this movie? Was I just in the mood to laugh, or is it truly funny?

What’s your favorite mother/daughter movie?

Helen Brenna’s latest book, THEN COMES BABY, the third in her Mirabelle Island Superromance series, is out in December. This story revolves around Jamis Quinn, the recluse living on the northwest end of the island, a horror writer hiding from the world. When Natalie Steeger inherits her grandmother’s house next door to his cabin and opens a summer camp for disadvantaged kids, his peace is shattered. But will Natalie heal his heart?

A 4 ½ stars review from RT: “In this touching story about the power love has to heal all wounds, Brenna's characters have terrifically real depth and emotional appeal.”

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thursday Talktime: Christmas Favorites

Margaret Daley discusses favorite Christmas movies and books

I’m still amazed it’s Christmas again. Where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was taking down my decorations. Now I’m putting them up again.

This is the time of year I don’t mind it snowing. I love sitting in front of a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate. And add a great movie or book to the mix and I’m really content.

So what are some of the great Christmas movies? Every year we get new ones on television and in the movie theater, but so far nothing has quite spoken to me like The Christmas Story. I don’t usually watch many movies (or for that matter read books) a second and certainly not a third time. I have seen The Christmas Story many times. It’s become a tradition at our house to watch it or at least parts of it every year in December.

The scene where Ralphie sits on Santa’s lap is hilarious. His commentary on the whole visiting Santa was right on. I grew up in the 50’s (a decade after Ralphie) and the movie’s portrayal was so good. Thankfully I never had the experience Ralphie had with Santa.

How many of you have received a present from a friend or love one that you never want to see the light of day. The picture of Ralphie in his bunny suit, a gift from a relative, was priceless. We’ve all been there before—I’m glad though it wasn’t that bunny outfit.

Another favorite scene was when Ralphie’s dad received a prize he’d won and insisted on putting it on display in the front window for the whole world to see. I’m so glad my husband has better taste because an accident would happen to that lamp after he left for work.

There are other scenes I laughed out loud: the kid sticking his tongue to the frozen post, the dogs eating the turkey, the holiday meal spent in a Chinese restaurant. The movie is a classic.

So what Christmas movies have you enjoyed? Maybe see each year. I love some of the old ones, too. Like The Holiday Inn and White Christmas. Then there is The Miracle on 34th Street or The Christmas Vacation.

If a Christmas movie isn’t for you, what about a book with a Christmas theme? Every year we see them on the shelves from October to December. I know my publisher (Steeple Hill) puts out quite a few. What good Christmas book have you read this year or in the past?

I hope you’ll share what you’ve liked in the way of a holiday movie or book. And above all, I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a great New Year. Keep safe.
I enjoy writing holiday stories. I’ve done several over the past few years. This month I have one out from Love Inspired Suspense called Christmas Peril. It has two holiday novellas in it—one by me and the other by Debby Giusti.

Christmas Peril
December 2009 (anthology-2 in 1)

Christmas bells ring with danger in these suspenseful holiday stories.
Merry Mayhem by Margaret Daley
When single mom Annie Coleman unexpectedly arrives in Christmas, Oklahoma, police chief Caleb Jackson suspects she's hiding secrets. He'll be watching her closely. And his protection is just what Annie and her daughter need, as danger has followed them to their new home.
Yule Die by Debby Giusti
It's hardly a happy holiday for medical researcher Callie Evans…until she discovers her ailing patient is her long-lost brother. And he's being watched by undercover police officer Joe Petrecelli. When the trio is abducted by a cadre of bad guys, Joe and Callie will have to fight to keep her brother—and themselves—alive.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What Are You Reading Wednesday- Captive of Sin

Our columnist, Annie West, talks about what promises to be a favourite romance in her last blog of the year.

An early Merry Christmas everyone! I hope the holiday season brings you plenty of chances to acquire and read great books. In our house this is a time when we buy lots of wonderful books, fiction and non-fiction, serious and light-hearted, piles and piles of books we want to read...then give them away to other people! But the payoff comes later when we receive gifts prepared with love, including some fabulous reading.

This month I've opted to pick up a book a book that I've already read. Sort of. First I have to declare an interest. The author of CAPTIVE OF SIN is a friend of mine. Anna Campbell and I regularly read each other's work in draft stage and manage to keep each other sane when doubts surface about the direction of the plot or the way the characters are behaving. So reading the published CAPTIVE is an interesting experience. I have vivid memories of the rough version and now I've got the final product, a glossy thick paperback in my hands. This book delivers in spades on its early promise. I chose to blog about it as it's what I'm reading, but also because it's swept me along with its vibrancy and incredible emotion. I knew it would be great and I'm not disappointed.

I thought Pink Heart Society members might be interested in this story because, though it's a big historical romance novel, it's got a lot of elements we find in category. For instance, it hinges on a a marriage of convenience with great, compelling reasons for the wedding to take place. Personally I love marriage of convenience stories and am always looking for an excuse to write one. Also, there's a definite touch of exoticism. The story takes place in Britain including a honeymoon on Jersey but more importantly in a lovely rambling old mansion on the Cornish coast (and I want to visit that house!). Plus the hero's recent past in India is dark and intriguing and exotic. Also the emphasis is firmly on the two protagonists.

There's a tortured hero that I defy any romance reader not to love. He's honourable and strong and hates any sign of weakness in himself. He does his best to behave heroically in the worst of circumstances. Boy, has Gideon suffered! I can't tell you how without divulging too much but suffice to say that though he wants his new wife with a desperation that soaks the pages, he battles demons every time he thinks about her. Add to that he's definitely a strong alpha leader. He champions the weak, thinks nothing of putting himself in danger when its necessary and revels in action.

Charis too is a fascinating character and multi-dimensional. She's young and in many ways inexperienced. When she falls for Gideon it's a young girl's crush. But as the story progresses she develops a determination to have him for her own and to rescue him. She's revealed as the sort of heroine we love to barrack for - stoic and strong despite her own weaknesses.

The difference from category romance comes in the length of the book and the chance to flesh out the complexity of the plot, the backstory and secondary characters as well as the hero and heroine. But if you're looking for a longer romance to read, this is a beauty. Note that the cover gives you a clue to the level of sensuality in the book - very!

Have you recently read something a little different? A contemporary if you're a historical fan? A blockbuster or a biography if you're a dyed in the wool category reader? Do you like trying something new and if so what gems have you discovered? If not, what is it about your favourite read that keeps you coming back again and again?

To get the conversation started Annie is giving away a copy of her new US release BLACMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE to someone who comments.

Dual delight for Annie in December. This month she has two books on sale from the middle of the month. BLACKMAILED BRIDE, INEXPERIENCED WIFE, Harlequin Presents Extra, is on sale in North America (you can buy it here). FORGOTTEN MISTRESS, SECRET LOVE-CHILD, is a Mills and Boon Modern release in the UK (you can buy it here). To read about them, visit Annie's website for excerpts.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Tuesday Temptation: It's All About the Hero

Regency Author Julia Justiss says It’s All About The Hero. Always.

As a writer, I’m always interested in what pulls a reader into a book. The story line? An appealing heroine? A hunky hero? Maybe it’s a little of all three. But I’m convinced that what ties a reader to romance most strongly is the hero.

We all want to experience with the heroine that feeling of falling in love again, that wonderful, head-over-heels, nothing-else-in-world matters feeling. That giddy, sing the lyrics to your favorite song to strangers in the grocery line, kiss every baby and puppy you encounter, sunny blue sky day on a tropical beach happy. We want a hero who wins us over, one we can believe in, who is already worthy of the heroine’s love, or one who falls so hard he’s determined to convince her he can be.

Hal, hero of A MOST UNCONVENTIONAL MATCH, which is set to debut in the UK this month, seems to have resonated with many readers although he is considerably different from the “typical” romance hero. A man’s man, uncomfortable in drawing rooms and feminine company, Hal’s few words let his actions do the talking. Intelligent, curious, fiercely loyal to his friends, he forces himself to call on newly-widowed Elizabeth Lowery only because, as the sister-in-law of his best friend whose family is all abroad when her husband dies unexpectedly, he knows Nicky would expect him to offer her assistance in his stead. He’s hoping to complete this duty and speedily remove himself from the company of a woman who reminds him all too much of his beautiful, demanding society mother when he encounters her forlorn, grieving little son. Having lost his own father at an early age, he can’t just walk away. And so begins the dance of attraction between a woman whose character is much deeper than her lovely face and a man who is much more complex than his monosyllabic responses.

Readers—and writers—often form an image of their character’s appearance and are disconcerted if the cover image doesn’t match. I recently experienced this when Hal’s book came out in Italy. Hal (in the English version) is a tall, powerfully-built blond man. The Italian cover featured a handsome hero kneeling at the feet of the lovely heroine. Except…both characters are brunette. I mentioned my concern to the writer of an Italian blog who’d done an interview for the release. She checked with the Italian office, who assured her the references in the book to the characters had been adjusted describe them as brunette; dark-haired characters, the official explained, are more popular with Italian readers than blond ones.

Hmmm. I have to admit, it’s hard for me to imagine Hal (or Elizabeth) as blond.

What was my image of Hal as I was writing? Several famous faces came to mind. One, a young Charles Dance from The Raj Quartet (a side note; the now older Dance recently was knighted for his distinguished career on stage and in film.) Another is Matthew Magonahey, particularly in his earlier blond surfer mode.

So, what pulls you into a story? What does your ideal hero look like? Do you prefer your strong, silent type to be blond or dark-haired? Inquiring Minds Want to Know.
Longtime Regency Author Julia Justiss's has a UK debut of A Most Unconventional Match this month. Learn more about Julia at her website. Julia is one of the authors involved in upcoming 2010 major Historical Continuity --Silk & Scandal.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Male On Monday - Michael Wood

Please welcome Historicals author Carol Townend, with a MoM entry that goes beyond good looks...

Michael Wood is my Male on Monday, because he has long been one of my heroes. As we all know, to be a hero you have to be more than eye candy. A real hero must have an interesting mind; he should be someone with whom you can share common interests, and feel you would love to talk to, and talk to, and talk to...

This photograph of Michael Wood is taken from the back cover of his book: Domesday, A Search for the Roots of England. He is a little older now (he was born in 1948) but you can see that he doesn’t do at all badly in the eye candy stakes either.

History is Michael Wood’s passion. He writes and talks about it with such clarity and enthusiasm that one is carried away, right back to the past. He brings history to life, and his books and broadcasts are filled with insights about what life was really like for ordinary people as well as for kings and queens. He has a wide range, some of the subjects he has written and broadcasted about are:

The Dark Ages
Anglo-Saxon England
The Trojan War
Alexander the Great
Myths and Heroes
And more…

In this You Tube clip, Michael Wood discusses fourteenth century England. It is the year of the Great Plague.

And in this short interview he talks about the making of his documentary on the Trojan War, referring to it as ‘a mystery story and adventure’ in itself:

Recently on the Beeb,Michael Wood introduced Julian Glover’s inspired and passionate performance of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.

Reading Old English is something of a challenge (!!?), so in case anyone wants to read it in translation, Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf version is brilliant with the Anglo-Saxon sitting alongside his poetic modern English.

Carol’s latest book: Runaway Lady, Conquering Lord is out with Harlequin Historicals in the US, and with Mills & Boon in the UK. It is set in England and France shortly after the Norman Conquest, and tells the story of a fallen Saxon lady, and the Norman knight she is forced to appeal to for help.

Carol keeps trying to move on to the twelfth century, but the eleventh century seems to have her firmly in its grasp. She is currently working on a novel set in the Byzantine Empire.

Carol’s blog:

Her website is currently being revamped, but she hopes it will be updated very soon! This is the link: