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Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Valquez Bride by Melanie Milburne

The Valquez Bride

by Melanie Milburne

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Winner, Author Edie Ramer and Three Book Giveaways!


The winner of Annie West's Spotlight from last week is LYDIA. Congratulations! If you contact her at annie@annie-west.com with your postal address she'll organise to send the book to you.            

And without further delay, I'd like to introduce you to today's author...
Today, we have Author Edie Ramer, whom I met through a mutual aquaintance and decided to introduce to you all. Her writing journey to publication is inspiring!

Nas, thank you for having me at your place to talk about my writer’s journey. It’s been a long one, with highs and lows. Sometimes it’s been a roller coaster. Other times a train standing still.

I started writing 20 years ago. I had a promising beginning, soon selling short stories to well-known short-story mystery magazines. I also wrote nonfiction and sold greeting card verses. But my goal—my dream—was to sell my books.

People say now that it was easy to sell back then, but publishing has never been easy. I’ve had agents along the way, four of them. I’ve also finaled and won writing contests. I’ve had close calls, where my book was under consideration and passed around to other editors. Agents have referred me to other agents. But that elusive sale to a NY pub just never came.

A few weeks ago, Connie Brockway wrote a great post about her decision to self-publish original work instead of going with a traditional publisher. She said “Over the last couple years, as print publishers have been facing numerous financial crises, it has felt like they’ve become less likely to buy a book that doesn’t fit snugly within the parameters of last month’s success and since last month’s success was dictated by the previous month’s success (and so forth and so on) there hasn’t been a whole lot of room left in which to play.’

That’s how I’ve felt. I write books that don’t fit parameters. There’s a quirk to my writing, and there’s a quirk to my characters.

Self-publishing was never on my horizon. I had friends who did it, and I hoped they’d do well, but I knew it wasn’t for me.

About a year and a half ago, I started writing the Industry News column for the RWA-WF group, which forced me to read the articles and blogs about the business. J.A. Konrath’s blogs were all about his e-book sales and experiences, and how well he was doing in it. So I knew times were changing and it was possible to make money self-publishing. But not for me. I remember posting a link on one of my Industry News post, adding that it would be something that would work for already published writers, because their name was known.

Then last April, Konrath posted an interview with Karen McQuestion. Karen is a Kindle bestselling author who had sales in magazines (like me!) but no book sales.

There went my excuse to not self-publish. About this time, Zoe Winters, a friend who’d been self-publishing in ebooks for a year and a half, started doing very well. Again, that took away any excuse I might have.

I was in the middle of writing a book and had some other things going on, so didn’t self-publish Cattitude until late in August of 2010. I got terrific reviews soon after. (I credit reviewers reading the debut book of an indie author to a good blurb and to the fact that they love cats. lol)

Despite the great reviews, my sales crept along in the beginning. I’ve since uploaded two more paranormal romances, Dead People and Dragon Blues, and one short story. In January, I was excited when I sold 500 books. For the month of March, I sold 1500 books.

I’m super happy that so many people are buying my books. Dead People, the first book of my Haunted Hearts series, is in the Kindle top 10 in the Ghosts and Gothics categories, which is very cool. I’m still not making a living wage, but I’m closer to it. And this is just the beginning! I’m writing the second book of my Haunted House series, my best seller. I’m hoping to have it online in two months. After that, I have other plans, other books to write and revise.

I’ve learned a lot during the last twenty years, met many fantastic writers, and reviewers, and readers. My goal is to make every book better than the last.

If anyone has any questions about self-publishing, feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer them. And I'll also be giving away an ecopy of my books to three lucky commenters!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Meet Harlequin Presents Author Annie West and a Giveaway!

Today I’m honored to be hosting Harlequin Presents Author Annie West. 
Annie, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
Thanks for inviting me, Nas. It’s lovely to be here! I’m imagining sunny skies, crystal water and white sand instead of the drizzly rain I’ve got today.
Yes, I do have white sandy beach, sun and surf here. And it's like this all year around! Commiserations on your drizzly rain.  To kick off I asked Annie her views :
 On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I started my first manuscript in about 1996 and my first book was published in 2000. However, it was a small press which then closed due to distribution problems.  I sold my first book to Harlequin in 2005 and I’ve been writing for them ever since. I love it!
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
All sort of things. Books I’ve read, films, TV programs, radio interviews, conversations people I meet, even traveling to new places. That’s the wonderful thing about delving into your imagination – you draw on so many things.
What do you love most about being a writer?
I adore it when the characters become so real they have conversations in my head and I have to race to get their words down. Sometimes it feels as if their story is progressing all by itself (rare but wonderful!). My other favorite time is when readers contact me because they enjoyed a story of mine – particularly if they enjoyed an aspect of the book I did too. Oh, and being able to start work in my PJs is terrific – except when I forget the time and answer the door midmorning and realise I still haven’t got changed.
What do you like least about being a writer?
Days when getting the story down is like pulling teeth, or when I have to get revisions done in a hurry (they often seem to coincide with holidays and family celebrations). If I don’t get the job done, no one else is going to come in and finish it for me.
Where were you five years before?
Same as now. But five years before that I was wearing a suit and advising on government policy.
Wow!...and then you turned to fiction?
Where do you envision yourself five years from now?
I’d love to say having a writing retreat somewhere wonderful while I wrote a book – pick a place: a cottage in Scotland, an island in Greece, an apartment in Paris, the Great Barrier Reef. Chances are I’ll be sitting here looking out over my garden, day dreaming about a tormented pair of lovers.
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
The settings for all my books are places I’ve enjoyed. Often I have to cut some of the descriptive detail in the final version but having a good feel for the location really helps me in writing the story. One of my favorites would be my fictional alpine kingdom where “Protected by the Prince” and “Prince of Scandal” is set. It’s based on a few places I’ve visited and others I’ve read about. Whenever I sat down to write those stories I had a lovely feeling of entering that world of castles, quaint market towns, wooded mountains, snowy chalets and so on. Sometimes I could even smell the mulled wine and the hot chocolate! I loved the mix of real places that held great memories and the chance to let my imagination loose on the royal fantasy.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
Argh! That’s too hard! Possibly either my first sheikh story “The Sheikh’s Ransomed Bride” or one of my two “Prince” books.
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
I think that if you really want to kick-start a career, you need to treat it like one, rather than as a hobby. There’s nothing wrong with writing solely for your enjoyment but if you want a career you need to focus on more than just the fun of it. Write even on the days you’d rather be doing other things. Set yourself achievable goals and stick at them. Focus on finding out where your voice and your talent best belong so you can target that type of writing. Finish a book and then start another one because the best way to improve your writing is to keep at it. It can be hard getting there, but it’s a terrific career!

On Romance...
 
What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
Possible the BBC TV adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth. Not technically a movie but a program I’ve watched again and again and still love.
What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
A surprise trip away with just my husband to celebrate a significant anniversary. As we usually celebrate just with a special home-cooked meal, the flight to another city and four days sightseeing at leisure was tremendous.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
My husband is particularly good at this! The occasional surprise (like tickets to a concert) or even just time together on the weekend over coffee – just the two of us. Remembering to step off the treadmill of day to day responsibilities and take time to talk together is important.
What tip would you give your readers to make their lives more romantic?
Remembering not to take your lover for granted makes all the difference.
Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
Two places come to mind instantly: a starry night in Egypt looking over exotic ruins and the edge of the desert; and watching the sun dip down over the sea on a Santorini clifftop.

All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. I’ve always been a reader. I’ve loved romance since my teens and finally just had to try my hand at it. I still love nothing better than to read a great romance.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
I’d love to be multilingual. I know a bit of German and even less Greek but it would be terrific to be fluent in another language (or three).
Who is someone you admire and why?
My parents. I want to be like them when I grow up. Seriously! They care about other people, they take an interest, they have humour and respect for each other and appreciate the good things they have.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
Honesty/integrity.
What is the one thing you've always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
Parasailing or hang-gliding.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’ve always wanted to be an archaeologist and I’d love to give that a go. Of course I’d like to be on a dig with a gorgeous, hunky male archaeologist with eyes that crinkle when he laughs, broad shoulders and a quick wit.  I’m sure there’d be some adventure thrown in.
To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
Definitely read as much as you can in the genre you want to write.  You need to feel at home there.
Write and keep writing because you can fix a poorly written page but a blank page won’t get you anywhere.
Occasionally read your dialogue out loud. You’ll soon hear if it’s stilted or not flowing.
One enormously important tip and so hard to do – don’t send off your story as soon as it’s finished! Put it aside and write something else. Come back to your story later (weeks later for preference) when it’s no longer so familiar to you. You’ll have a far better perspective for picking up problems in the pace and elsewhere.
Finally, I’d say don’t rush your ending. We spend a lot of time perfecting the opening of our story but sometimes forget that in a romance the ending is the payoff for the reader who stayed with us through all the emotional turmoil of the story. They want to believe that the happy ever after you’ve painted really does work. I’ve put an article about that on my website which gives a bit more detail on that.
NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK….
Can I be greedy and mention two? My two royal romance stories, both with a touch of Cinderella but definitely updated to today.
“Protected by the Prince” which is also "Passion, Purity and a Prince"has a hero “Like Prince Charming’s far more experienced and infinitely more dangerous older brother.” Alaric is a charmer, adept at hiding his dark past, until he clashes with a prim archivist who’s uncovered a secret that threatens to disrupt the country and the coronation. Tamsin is far more than she first appears and soon Alaric finds his world and his plans turned upside down. He goes to desperate lengths trying to control the situation…
“Prince of Scandal” is a marriage of convenience story, except in this case it’s pure inconvenience. Raul is furious that an archaic law forces him to marry, especially when he discovers the ‘lost’ princess he has to marry is a mud-spattered farmer who says precisely what she thinks and won’t quietly do what’s expected. Luisa is determined not to be taken over like some chattel in marriage, despite her instant attraction for Raul.

They’re both intense, passionate romances with a touch of the fairytale, balanced by real contemporary characters.
“Protected by the Prince” was a February North American release and “Prince of Scandal” is on sale mid April in the UK and August in North America. There are excerpts from both on my website: http://www.annie-west.com
Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Annie, it's been a hoot having you here.
Nas, the interview has been fun. Thanks for having me visit. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the visitors to your site!
The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Annie has generously donated a copy of PROTECTED BY THE PRINCE to one lucky person. If the winner already has Alaric and Luisa’s story, she’ll provide an early copy of PRINCE OF SCANDAL instead.
All you have to do is “LIKE” her Facebook page and leave a comment or question for Annie and you'll go into the draw for this book.}

Monday, April 11, 2011

Harlequin Super Romance Author Debra Salonen and a Giveaway!

Debra, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
Thank you, Nas. It was so kind of you to invite me...or wait, did I beg you to let me join the fun? ;-) Either way, it’s a pleasure to be here.

On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
Do my first scribbles on the underside of my mother’s coffee table count? It feels as though I’ve always written. From my attempt to write a screenplay for Flipper (I pictured myself playing the tragic heroine who fell for the gorgeous older brother) to a blatant James Bond rip-off, I wrote often and not very well. But I never gave up, and once I decided to get serious about submitting my work, I took classes, joined critique groups and read every How-to book on the market. My very first submission got me an agent, but no publishing contract. Ten years later, my second submission--without an agent--got me a book deal.
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
I wish I understood the creative process better. (What I really wish is I knew how to bottle it up and have some on hand for those less-than-creative times.) But one thing I do know is never underestimate the power of curiosity. Some of my favorite stories started with: What if...
What do you love most about being a writer?
The dress code. In my office, every day is casual Friday.
What do you like least about being a writer?
The hours. Some of my best ideas flood into my brain the minute my head hits the pillow. One book, FINDING THEIR SON, started when I closed my eyes and a voice said, “I’ll tell you something about me you don’t know. There’s an old Black woman who lives in my head.” Well, how could I resist that? I was out of bed and upstairs at my desk within seconds.
Where were you five years before?
I have no idea.
Where do you envision yourself five years from now?
Same answer. Alas, I’m a pant-ster, not a plotter.
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
I love the Black Hills of South Dakota, and I was thrilled to set nine books there, but my current WIP is set in San Francisco. I was ready for some urban thrills.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
That’s like asking which of my children I love best. They are all equal but different. For sheer guts and bravado, I love BACK IN KANSAS. For taking a huge leap of faith, I love WONDERS NEVER CEASE. For a good cry, I love HER HUSBAND, HER BABIES. For pure fun, I love BABY BY CONTRACT.  Because I wrote it while my beloved sister was dying, I cherish UNTIL HE MET RACHEL.  And the list goes on... ;-)

On Romance...
Describe the ultimate romantic meal.
~My hubby and I can turn cheese and crackers into a romantic meal...with the right wine. ;-)

What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
~The Princess Bride.

What is your all-time favorite romantic song or composition?
~Annie’s song by John Denver is one we played at our wedding and still regard as “our” song.

What is the most romantic gesture or gift you have received?
~On our way to the airport before flying to Cancun for our 25th anniversary, we stopped at a jewelry store and he bought me the diamond ring we couldn’t afford when we first got engaged. It had to be sized, but that was okay because it was waiting for us when we flew home a week later.

How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
~Getaways--we travel together and use the time to talk, really talk, about everything and anything.

What tip would you give your readers to make their lives more romantic?
~Make time for each other. Plan a Date-Night and have fun!

Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
~Bermuda

All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
~Yes.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
~Dance. You can always spot a dancer, and I always admire their fluid grace.

Who is someone you admire and why?
~My daughter. She’s a talented artist, a wonderful mother and a true friend to many, and despite having kissed her fair share of toads, she hasn’t given up looking for Prince Charming.

Do you have a good luck charm or superstition?
~no

What quality do you most admire in a man?
~kindness

What is the one thing you've always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try?
~hypnosis

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
~a teacher

What quote or personal saying do you live by? Who said it?
~I am open and receptive and good things come to me.
            It’s my personal meditation that I made up and say every day.

To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
1.               Read what you want to write. It’s the best way to pick up the tone and flow of the genre.
2.               Write something every day--a blog, a journal, a scene, a chapter, an interview...
3.               Interview your characters. You could use some of the questions Nas posed to me. Find out what makes them tick and don’t settle for the easy answers (like “no”, “hypnosis”, “a teacher”).
4.               Hold fast to the knowledge that writing is a journey--some parts of it are arduous and exhausting, some are pure joy. If you love to write, then never give up, keep your head--and heart--in the game.

NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK….

RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS is the second-to-last title in my “Spotlight on Sentinel Pass” series. It’s working title was: The Wrong Twin.
Jessie Bouchard is a successful stunt woman who has sacrificed a great deal--even arriving too late to her dying mother’s bedside--for her craft and career. She’s chosen an “extreme” lifestyle of physical challenges and relentless travel as a way to avoid those sticky, unpleasant emotional tangles she witnessed in her mother’s life. The bumper sticker on her car reads: “White, picket fences make good kindling.”

Prodigal son Cade Garrity returns to his Black Hills roots knowing exactly what he wants--to build a safe, nurturing home for his daughter. A life that includes his estranged father, Buck, and his half-sister, Kat.  Would Cade be open to finding a mate? Absolutely. But his late wife chose her career over her family. He won’t go down that road again--even for someone like Jessie, who tempts him to make a short-term exception to his rules. His truck sports a bumper sticker that says: “Family First.” But after he meets Jessie, he thinks about changing it to: “Love Happens.”

They are two people who have no business falling love, but, of course, that’s exactly what they do.

         

Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Debra, it's been a hoot having you here.
The pleasure was all mine, Nas. Namaste.

The goodness doesn't end there though, folks. Debra has generously donated a copy of RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS -- or any backlist title that she has copies of, along with a cover flat of her May 2010 release UNTIL HE MET RACHEL, which was named Best Superromance of 2010--to one lucky person.
All you have to do is “Like” her Facebook page Debra Salonen, Author and leave a comment or question for Debra and you'll go into the drawing for this book.

And she likes hearing from readers, so you can check out her website and there are some cool contests on her Blog.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Anna Hackett and "One Night With The Wolf" Giveaway!

Today we're going to meet and chat with Anna Hackett, an engineer by day, a writer by night!
Anna, thanks for agreeing to do this interview. It's great to have you here!
Thanks for having me, Nas.  Wonderful to be visiting!
On Writing and Reading…
So, when did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published?
I’ve been writing for the last few years but before that I’d always been an avid reader (and romance has always been my favorite genre!)  About a year and a half after I started writing I sold my first paranormal short story to Harlequin Nocturne Bites.  My fifth Bites came out last month.
I bet all that juggling of jobs, relationships and commitments gives you plenty of fodder for your books. What sparks your creativity?
Anything can spark my creativity – a great book or movie, an intriguing “what if” question, a beautiful location and most often a fascinating myth or legend.  I love ancient history and have found plenty of inspiration in myths for my paranormal stories.
What do you love most about being a writer?
The chance to create my own fascinating characters and worlds.
What do you like least about being a writer?
Well, I’m an extrovert (not so common for a writer) so sometimes writing can be a lonely pursuit.  That’s why I love visiting blogs like yours and being a part of writing blogs like LoveCats DownUnder where I get to hang with other fabulous Harlequin authors.
Do you have a favorite locale or setting for your novels? What is it and why is it your favorite?
I don’t have a particular favorite locale but what I do like is to find exotic locations – to escape somewhere different.  My Bites have been set in Hungary, a Mediterranean island, Rome, Las Vegas and Montana.
Which of the books you have written is your favorite?
It’s impossible to have a favorite!!  That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child.  I guess my latest is always the most recent in my mind so I’ll say One Night with the Wolf which released last month.
What is your favorite recent title by another author?
I absolutely love Nalini Singh and really enjoyed her last Guild Hunter book, Archangel's Consort.
What one specific piece of advice would you give a would-be writer trying to kick-start a career?
Sit down and write.  Doing online courses, going to conferences and reading craft books are good but don’t get lost in it all.  Writing is where you’ll learn the most and is the most important thing a writer can do.
On Romance...
What is your all-time favorite romantic movie?
Pride and Prejudice (the remake with Keira Knightly).  I love that movie.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
Never take anything for granted.  Hubby and I always make sure we tell each other how much we appreciate the things we do for each…big and small.
Where is the most romantic place you’ve ever traveled?
A private island on the Great Barrier Reef – sun, sand and privacy.  It was beautiful.
All About her...
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Nope.  I’ve always been a reader.  The writing bug just hit out of the blue one day.
Besides writing, what other talent would you most like to have?
Hmm, superpowers?  Seriously, I can’t sing a single note and wish I could.
Who is someone you admire and why?
Nora Roberts.  She’s a great author.  I admire her ability to weave captivating stories and characters, and her discipline to her work.
What quality do you most admire in a man?
Good cooking skills (-:  My hubby is a fab cook and the kitchen is his domain.

To finish up, do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you'd like to share with unpublished authors?
·        Read lots of books in the genre you want to write, then sit your butt in your chair and write. 
·        Look for some good online courses – they are cheap and can be really beneficial.  I teach an online course called Short Story, Big Impact and love sharing my short story writing tips with other writers.
·        Good critique partners are worth their weight in gold – I have two CPs I met online (waving hi to Em and Rach!) and couldn’t live without them.
NOW TELL US ABOUT YOUR BOOK….
One Night with the Wolf is my latest Nocturne Bites – it features a headstrong werewolf heroine looking for one night of pleasure before she must marry an aging alpha and the one man who is forbidden to her…the tough, sexy hero, Christian.  Here’s the blurb:
Werewolf Jade Thorne needs a man—a young, virile man to give her love and pleasure. As a rare female alpha, she must keep her pack safe by pledging herself in marriage to an aging leader from a rival pack. Until then, she wants to experience the raging passion of a wolf in his prime. She even has an ideal lover at hand: her Second, Christian Tallant.

But Christian is a wolf who will demand to dominate her body, mind and soul. Now Jade must decide if she can afford to submit to his desire—and if one night with the wolf will really be enough....
Thanks for sharing your insights about writing and some fun facts about your life, Anna, it's been a hoot having you here.
Thanks again for having me, Nas.
 You can visit Anna's website and check out more of her books. Visit her blog. And check out her Online Courses here!
Please drop in and LIKE her on Facebook. But, the goodies doesn't end here, Anna has a giveaway of ONE NIGHT WITH THE WOLF for one lucky commenter!
Here is  my review of One Night with the Wolf:
One Night with the Wolf is a sensual story of a very alpha heroine wolf, widow of the pack alpha years her senior, needing a hot, passionate man for one night before she takes another old alpha as a mate the next day. And her second, the enforcer, himself an alpha, is in conflict with himself over his desire for her. Even when they are intimate she tries out her alpha voice on him! ONE NIGHT WITH THE WOLF is a hot and sensual book, but it's not an erotica. The writing is beautiful.

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Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dare She Date Again? by Amy Ruttan

Dare She Date Again?

by Amy Ruttan

Giveaway ends October 30, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

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