Sunday, December 31, 2006

Of beginnings and authors

“How do you start a book?”

That’s a question I’m frequently asked, or such variations as: “Do you just sit down at the computer and start writing?” Another related inquiry that authors hear a lot is “Where do you get your ideas?”

Once, after I’d given a talk, a woman approached and explained, “I dreamed an idea for a book, but when I wrote it down, it only took a page and a half. Then what do you do – just stretch it?”

While every author works differently, I can state the following about myself:
1) I never just sit at the computer and start a novel, cold.
2) Neither could I plan out a whole book from start to finish. For me, stories grow organically on a framework.
3) I get ideas from all sorts of things or from nothing at all, but that’s the easy part.
4) Developing and shaping those ideas into a novel is incredibly hard work.

Generally, I start with a germ of an idea, maybe a plot twist or a character. For the trilogy that Harlequin American is publishing this year (The Doctor’s Little Secret, February; Daddy Protector, May; Twin Surprise, September), I began with two notions. The first concerned police officers who survive life-threatening events, gain new perspectives and decide to become fathers (whether by birth or adoption).

Second, I envisioned a young woman whose plans to become a teacher had been derailed by a serious auto accident that left her with long-term injuries. With the help of her two closest friends, she’s finally getting back on track at the age of thirty.

As I jotted notes and interwove the ideas, one of the friends became a cousin who’s the ex-wife of a lieutenant. The other best friend turned out to be policewoman. Gradually storylines emerged and converged.

I considered various ways to involve children. An unexpected pregnancy. A hoped-for adoption. And a relinquished infant who, at the age of five, suddenly becomes available again.

Next came the long but engrossing process of exploring the characters and working out the major plot points. At last, I was ready to envision the opening scene of the first book, which still left a lot of events and twists for me to experience as I wrote.

Other authors work differently. Some are “pantsers” – seat-of-the-pants writers. Others diagram intensively.

As for the lady who asked about stretching her dream, I advised her to find a published novel with a similar storyline and study it to see how the story took shape. I never found out whether she followed my advice. I’ve always wondered how she started her book – or if she did. If you’re writing one, I hope you’ll find the method that works best for you.

Happy New Year, and may 2007 get off to a productive start for us all!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Me time

As we wind down 2006, I've been taking a little time for me. My daughters left on Tuesday for a holiday visit with their father, freeing me up to do, well, nothing if I wanted.

Their visit came at an ideal time because I've been sick since before Christmas, fighting off a virus that has left me totally congested and unable to breath clearly despite medicine. As time marches on, I'm finally on the upswing. The antibiotics wiped out the infection before it began, but unfortunately the virus itself simply has to run its course, and that means 10 days.

So I have to admit to having lazed around watching television. I've caught movies, watched specials, and just whiled away--which is something I usually never do. I'm a to-do list type of person, never resting until the last thing is checked off.

I'm off work this week, and whenever I felt better, I sat down at my computer and did some writing. I'd take breaks, and then watch TV. In fact, I was awake, idly lounging around, when the news broke in about both Gerald Ford and Saddam Hussein. I watched CNN. I caught up on lot of things I didn't know, watched an episode of Numbers that I really liked. All these things will filter into my works in progress in little, subconscious ways.

As for writing, I got the entire first draft of Picture Perfect (due March 1) done. I'll edit it over the next few days. I'm also working on another (rejected) manuscript, changing it around to take it in what might be a new direction for me. I hit my goal of what I wanted to get done. I've also used this me time to do some introspection about what I want to do for 2007. So often I don't take the time to really sit and think. I don't let myself while away. I'm on such a life treadmill that I push myself too hard and too fast and forget to refill my creative well. In fact, think about it. I'm sick on a week when I'm off work and can take the time to simply rest up--isn't it nice how my body knows when to slot everything in?

On the eharlequin boards, people are celebrating as they get their Great American Romance contest entries in the mail and I lift my glass of orange juice to them in salute. It's a great accomplishment to finish something and put it out there for someone else to read. I wish them all the best and good luck. I also wish them some me time. Now that it's in, take a little break. Allow yourself some well earned rest. Reflect on all the positives. Celebrate the successes. You are a writer and you deserve it. Refill that creative well.

See in you 2007.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

So I'm a little unconventional!

One of my goals is to learn how to cook. I try to pick out at least one new recipe each week to try. Sometimes they're good, sometimes they flop. But I learn something with each experiment, whether it succeeds or not.

Take Christmas dinner. For Thanksgiving I'd done turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. So for Christmas, I decided I wanted to break with tradition altogether. I love Mexican food, so I picked out some festive-sounding recipes including mango flan for dessert.

Small problem: I could not find any mangos at the store. Not fresh, not jarred, not canned, not freeze-dried. No mangos. So I had to make a substitution. Since it was Christmas, I used canned sweet potatoes. (Are you gagging yet?)

Then I had to caramelize sugar. (Did I mention I'm not a great cook?) I had no idea what I was doing, and I ended up with brown rock candy. When I mixed everything together, it was a really ugly mess. So I pushed everything through a strainer, shoved it in the oven, and hoped for the best.

It took forever to get done. I was scared to cut into it. It was orange. Bright orange custard.

But, oh, was it good! No one could get enough of it. It was the hit of the dinner. (By contrast, we had trouble choking down the enchiladas.) My husband and I fought over the last square.

I bet you're waiting for me to relate this back to writing. I'm getting there!

I approach writing much as I do cooking. I don't like writing the same old thing, just like I don't want to fix turkey and dressing more than once a year. Been there, done that. So I tend to make ... substitutions. I have characters with odd occupations. I sometimes have bizarre plots and out-of-the-ordinary settings. Yams instead of mangos.

Sometimes--in fact, a lot of times--my odd ideas don't work out. But, like with cooking a recipe that flops, I always learn something useful. And when one of my unconventional ideas works out, when something that sounded crazy going in actually turns into a good story, it's the most exciting thing in the world for me. I feel like I'm charting new territory, giving readers a little something different. A lot of people prefer plain ol' custard. But thankfully there are readers out there who would love to try yam flan!

Until next time, thanks for visiting!

Kara Lennox

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's almost 2007

I imagine everyone is worn out today. I hope you’re feeling the good kind of tired—happy that you and your loved ones created wonderful memories. Relieved that at last! you can take a breath, let down, and relax.

Don’t relax too much, though. It’s time to make those New Year’s resolutions. Or not. Truth is, I don’t make those anymore, mainly because I always break them. Sadly, often within a few days. What works better for me is to make my resolutions year-round.

Here are a few of mine, made awhile back, and in no particular order:

To continue to improve my writing skills so that I write better and better stories for my wonderful readers.

To take good care of my body and my brain so that I can stick around a long time. This means exercising daily and mostly eating sensibly, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and engaging in sometimes-deep conversations.

To welcome each day with joy and a sense of adventure. Life is short and unpredictable, and I don’t want to miss a single moment.

To embrace old friends and make new ones. As that old song goes, one is silver and the other gold.

Some of these are harder to keep than others, but so far, so good!

I wish everyone resolutions they can keep.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Harlequin American Romance Authors

Harlequin American Romance Authors

Countdown to Christmas
I'm going to try blogging again. Earlier the system didn't seem to like my password attempt. I doubt anyone is going to be out here reading blogs today with last minute shopping, wrapping, cooking. Some of us still have to put in computer time on projects. I'm currently working on an eharlequin daily serial. It won't be out until March, but I have an end of January deadline. I can't complain. I love writing. I also love reading. I hope everyone receives a lot of books in their Christmas stocking---or under the tree.
How many people open gifts on Christmas Eve, and how many on Christmas Day? It's been split in our family for as long as I can remember. My husband has one sister's family who does gifts on Christmas Eve and the other on Christmas morning. When all of us used to get together with our families, we alternated years. Myself, I like the Eve with all of the tree lights and all. Both of my girls chose to celebrate in the A.M. because they say Santa arrives during the midnight hours.
Either way works for me, really. So happy holidays to all.
Roz Denny Fox

Friday, December 22, 2006

Crunch Time

I’d be the first to tell you I have a lot of faults. I’ve never been able to balance a check book. I have a hard time staying awake past 10:30. I’ve been known to blow off party invitations because I’d rather be reading a book. But of all the things I am, I’ve never been one to procrastinate.

One day a week I work at a card shop. It’s my fun job. I get out of my basement office, talk to real people instead of made up ones, and sell all kinds of cute things. On most days, I really enjoy visiting with the customers. By and large they're always pleasant and fun. But yesterday was different…it was filled with all of the Christmas procrastinators, and what a frantic, wild-eyed bunch they were! People were combing the aisles like bandits in old westerns looking for holiday cards. And help. Oh my gosh--they needed a lot of help.

Those harried customers wondered where all of the pretty wrapping paper was, where the dated ornaments were…where the holiday specials were displayed. They raced in, their sweaters and coats all wet from the rain, darted around the displays, tapped their feet when they had to wait in line and quickly pushed their credit cards my way. My job was to help them as fast as possible, listen to their complaints, and smile. By four o’clock, I was getting pretty tired of being glared at! I was really missing my made up characters, as a matter of fact.

I’m not usually a procrastinator writer. I write steadily…five or ten pages a day, depending on my deadlines. Unfortunately, with my latest deadline, I’ve been pushed into unfamiliar procrastinator writer territory. I’ve found myself glaring at the keyboard, wondering why I hadn’t written more earlier this month. Wishing I could write faster. Wondering how the calendar could have snuck up on me like it did. Suddenly, I feel sorry for procrastinators!

I guess we all have our moments! Happy Holidays to everyone, whether you’re ready or not! Think of me on December 26 at 8:00 a.m. I’ll be helping all those eager early bird shoppers, anxious to get a good deal. Chances are, I’ll probably be wishing they wanted to put off things for another day or two. Or at least until I’ve had another couple of cups of coffee.


Shelley Galloway

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Permission to say no

The holidays are upon us. I'm finishing my second to last day of teaching before winter break, which starts this Friday.

I have set a goal for the holidays: giving myself permission to say no.

I'm going to start by saying no to buying those extra presents that will destroy my budget. No, I'm not being scrooge, but rather you know those last minute impulse gifts that you really don't need--you've already bought the perfect gifts and think that they aren't enough. They are.

I'm going to say no to all eating more than I should. If my goal is to slim down, I have to practice my resolutions now, not starting Jan. 1. I'm also watching my favorite movies while I walk on the treadmill, saying no to being a couch potato.

I'm going to say no to things that sap my writing time. I'm on deadline, and the week after Christmas I'm going to do three 12-hour days Monday-Wednesday to kick a lot of my November 2007 American out. I'm leaving my calendar blank and rewarding myself by doing fun things on Thursday and Friday. Thus, I'm also saying no to crowds, doing my returns a little later in the week.

The holidays are draining, and I'm usually sapped by the end of them. This time, I'm saying no to stress (somehow) and I'm going to enjoy them. That means catering a dinner (hello Honeybaked Ham) rather than cooking. I like to cook, but the goal is to see everyone, not have me over a hot stove. Catering will give me time to do what is most important, spending time with those I love. I'm saying a big yes to that.

Michele

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Count your blessings

The past week has been as rough one for Seattleites. On Thursday, December 14, a ferocious wind and rain storm rocked the area, destroying transformers, pushing down huge trees, and snapping power lines. For a while an estimated 1.5 million were without power. By lat Tuesday the number had decreased to 200,000—still far too many. Streets are without stoplights, some gas stations are closed, and in certain parts of town, grocery stores are giving away perishable food. It’s been cold here, too, making matters even worse.

We were lucky—only lost our power for 14 hours. For those of you snug and warm in your homes, count your blessings!

Speaking of counting your blessings, Winter Solstice is almost upon us (December 21). This year my husband and I have decided to usher out the shortest day of the year with a party, complete with a blazing fire, roasted chestnuts, lots of food and drink, and good friends. What could be better? If all goes well, we plan to make this an annual tradition.

There is one more wonderful piece of news. A few days ago I sold two more novels to Harlequin American. Hooray! Both stories take place on fictitious Halo Island, that is loosely (very loosely) based on San Juan and Lopez Islands, which are part of the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.

If anyone reading this would like to share their good news here, I’d love to read about it.

For now, whether you celebrate Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza and/or something else, I wish you warmth, love and joy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

UNEXPECTED CHRISTMAS GIFTS

It’s that time of the year. Oh, yes it is. Time to think of gifts to give your loved ones and friends. I firmly believe it is better to give than to receive. I love giving gifts especially if its something I know the person really wants. On the other hand, I sometimes feel uncomfortable receiving gifts especially if its something I would never buy for myself—like a pair of Mickey Mouse slippers with a head that actually bobs up and down. But I smile and remember it is the thought that counts.

Then there are the gifts that come out of blue that mean so much. I have a friend who works in a doctor’s office. She called to say she’d ordered ten copies of my latest book to give to the ladies in her office and her daughter's teachers. Those kind of gifts, to borrow a phrase, are priceless.

And I found out this week that The Christmas Cradle—a Nov 2004 American is now out in the United Kingdom. I received two emails this week. That was a really nice gift. I was able to tell the ladies about Once A Cowboy, a spin off of The Christmas Cradle, that comes out in Feb.

Sometimes the best gift is not a gift, but an act of kindness. I’m wishing all of you a special act of kindness this holiday season.
Linda Warren

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What Are You Wishing For?

This time of year, it's natural to think about things we'd like, whether they're gifts for ourselves or special wishes for others.

Sometimes we get our hearts' desires, don't we?

And sometimes we get more than we bargained for!

One year as a child, my greatest wish was for a big-girl bicycle. To my joy, on Christmas morning, I found Santa had left that two-wheeler under the tree. It took me several days--not to mention, numerous bruises and two skinned knees--before I could truly appreciate the gift.

In COURT ME, COWBOY, my November book, my heroine has to learn a lesson before she can appreciate her present, too.

Marissa is touched when Gabe gives her a package all wrapped up in fancy paper and ribbon. After she opens the box, she's a little...surprised by what she discovers inside. It's not the most romantic item for a man to give to the wife he's supposedly courting. After some thought, though, Marissa realizes the importance behind Gabe's gift: he took the time to think about her and what she might really enjoy. And there's no better present than that!

Whatever you're hoping for this holiday season, I have several wishes for you: health and happiness in the year ahead, many wonderful books to read, and every one of your heart's desires.

All my best to you,

Barbara

~~~~~~

Barbara White Daille

The small, round, gray, heavy rock….

Have you ever read a book where the author has strung several adjectives together to describe something as simple as a rock?

As a writer I'm always searching for ways to move readers to tears, laughter, fear or even anger--and one way I attempt to do this, is through Description. How I use words to depict character, setting and emotion can be the difference between a good book and a memorable book.

I often argue (with myself, my husband, the dogs, whoever will listen) over the right word. I make my living putting words down on paper but some days I leave my desk feeling gutted, defeated and totally inept at my job. Suddenly something as simple as describing the heroine's eyes…. turns into an hour in front of the computer screen hacking out phrases like …her sea-foam eyes, her blinking indigo-orbs, or other such dribble. But writers are human and once in a while I raise my white flag and type …Her big blue eyes….

Having admitted that, I will say that when I revise my manuscripts I try to pay close attention to sensory detail. If used properly, the reader will be able to imagine the shape, color, smell, size or texture of the person, place or thing I'm describing. Keep in mind that memorable description rarely details how something looks--purple, large, long, heavy etc.

I've been guilty of using lovely, old and young (sometimes there's just no other word that works.) But I attempt to use them sparingly because adjectives such as old and young don’t play to our senses. Words like scratchy, kinky, sticky, sand-covered help the reader experience the object. Good description creates the illusion of reality. Sensory details that soak into the reader's consciousness will encourage them to become more emotionally involved in the story. And we all know that the key to a good romance is… EMOTION!

So, how would you describe a small, round, gray, heavy rock???

Happy writing and reading!

Marin Thomas

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Gift lists made easy

One thing you rarely have to worry about when you’re an author is what to give people for gifts. That is, assuming you’ve had one or more books published that year and you haven’t already sent them copies. (It must be enscribed somewhere that your relatives never actually buy your books themselves!)

Of course, authors don’t get unlimited free copies of our books. And some of us have large families. But at least it’s a start on the stocking-stuffer list.

For the long term, I try to retain about twenty copies of each of my books, although my earlier ones (I was first published nearly twenty-five years ago) run far short of that. The problem is that I’ve sold more than seventy books. Do the math. Even considering that most of them are paperbacks, that’s a lot of storage space! They fill up the cabinets in my office and part of my older son’s closet. He’s away at college most of the year, so maybe he hasn’t noticed, although recently he’s been making noises about needing space to store his old textbooks.

Then there are the foreign editions. These are fun to receive and to show off. The covers can be quite unusual, and as for the languages, my books have been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Dutch, Polish, German, Japanese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Hungarian, Czech, Portugese and Turkish. Maybe a few others.

Some of those, my mother passes along to her international friends in the ceramics community (she’s a ceramic sculptor – to see her work, Google Sylvia Hyman, or check out my website, www.jacquelinediamond.com). I’ve given a few to friends who speak foreign languages, but mostly I save them, and they do tend to pile up. In fact, they occupy three drawers of a small chest in my bedroom.

These are the problems a writer dreams of having, of course!

International attention is really exciting to me, since I used to live in Italy. I was thrilled when a friend reported seeing one of my books at Heathrow Airport in London. And once I was interviewed via email for a website in Argentina that specializes in books about sheiks and sultans (the interviewer was kind enough to translate my answers into Spanish). In case you haven’t stumbled across this subgenre, sheik books are popular among category romance readers, although the Harlequin American line has become more realistic and isn’t currently featuring them.

What’s a useful gift for an author? How about bookshelves – and maybe an extra room to put them in! Better yet, keep buying our books, because who else are we writing them for?

Hope you receive your heart’s desire for Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever holiday you celebrate!

Poor Santa's Under Attack!!!!

Ahhh . . . Don't you just love this time of year? Deadline's looming, teen son's shooting Nerf dart's at Santa's Village, hot water heater busted, cookies burning, brakes going out on the car. AAGGHH!!!!

Actually, now that I've turned in my latest book, I can't wait to let the holidays commence!!! We're starting off this Friday night with the Holly Ball--my kids' high school's version of winter prom. Tonight, we pick up tuxes, and last night, Daughter and I spent getting her fingers, toes and eyebrows done. Friday night, a big crew is stopping by our house for a light meal and pics, then we're off to the big dance.

Daughter's freshman class prez, so I've been informed that I'm required to work. Do I get a fun job, like making sure no one's dirty dancing?? Nooooo. I'm stuck in the coat room!!!! Here in Tulsa, it's supposed to be sixty-five today and Friday. How many coats do you think I'm going to get? Hmm . . . At least I'll have time to catch up on my reading!!!

Our whole family is seriously looking forward to Christmas this year for a very special reason--drum roll, please!! Any of you who used to read my blog before I vanished, may have wondered why I vanished. Well, here's my official reason . . . I had a baby!!!!! He's 6'-1", has a full head of blond hair, a few scraggly whiskers he's quite proud of, and a full set of teeth!! Needless to say, the labor was rough!! LOL!!!

Okay, now for the true version. We've known this boy for years, known he had a rough home life, but we didn't know the true extant. In early September, he asked our son if he could stay with us for a week or two, as his mom had been evicted. We said, of course. Making a long, sad, sad story short, I used to tease him when he first came that I was keeping him forever--and a judge just made it official!!! I've been an angsty mess while waiting for our court date. What this boy has been through makes me all kind of crazy, and worry that he might have to return to that kind of life has pretty much consumed me.

Anyway, from here on out, we're hoping for a happily ever after--except for poor, Santa back at his village!!! I've heard nasty rumors that Son #1 is planning a late night Nerf football attack!!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Welcome

Hi,

We'd like to welcome those dropping by from the very fun chat on eharlequin tonight. It was great chatting with you. Our schedule to the right is starting in January, but be sure to drop by often as we are always posting and making subtle changes to the blog to make it better.

We're glad you're reading and interested in Harelquin American Romance. Feel free to leave us comments, and while your at it, visit some of our individual author sites!

Happy reading,

Michele, on behalf of all the authors here

Monday, December 11, 2006

Entering the Harlequin American contest?

A reader asked for tips for writers entering Harlequin’s Great American Romance Contest (see Michele Dunaway’s blog below. At her request, I’d like to add a few things about writing a novel suitable for this imprint.

The Harlequin American line is currently emphasizing realistic stories set in real towns. While the tone can range from humorous to highly emotional, that means the editors don’t want to see fairy-tale themes (foreign princes, sheiks) or paranormal elements, although these may have been acceptable in the past.

They do like stories with appealing secondary characters, although these shouldn’t overshadow the romance. As you know if you’ve read my Downhome Doctors series, I weave in storylines that strengthen and develop the main conflict between the hero and heroine. So rather than isolating them, as you might in an Intrigue, you’re showing them in a setting that involves children, other family members and/or friends.

Sometimes supporting characters end up becoming the heroes or heroines of their own books later on. I wouldn’t worry too much about that with your first book, though.

Popular plot devices such as babies, pregnancies and marriages/engagements of convenience still work but you have to give them a fresh twist. For example, in my February ’07 release, The Doctor’s Little Secret, the hero gets a chance to reclaim the little girl he once agreed to give up for adoption but needs a pretend fiancĂ©e. The twist comes in the woman he nominates for the role: the no-nonsense policewoman who nearly arrested him by mistake. Of course, I had to find a way to make the situation believable!

Good luck to all of you who enter. One of these days I hope you'll be joining our ranks and blogging here, too!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What Makes a Good Hero?

My husband and I had a Harry Potter mini-marathon today. We rented Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire and watched them straight through. Since we are both writers, we tried to figure out what makes Harry such an appealing hero. And we decided the rules must be different in children's stories than adult novels, because Harry breaks a lot of the rules for a good hero.

First and foremost, he's not very pro-active. He tries to keep a low profile and not make waves, and he's just buffeted along by events. I remember a Harlequin editor once telling me that romance heroes must make waves! They have to initiate action. They have to be leaders. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione is the one who figures everything out in the end and drags Harry along on the time-travel adventure. If I recall, Harry did absolutely nothing but watch.

Second, Harry doesn't have control of his emotions, especially his temper. He has unchecked fits of rage. He inflated his aunt and let her float into the stratosphere, then wasn't even sorry. A good Harlequin hero, on the other hand, always takes responsibility for his actions.

Third, Harry is hopeless with females. He can't even get a date for the dance. When he finally asks a girl he doesn't like just so he'll have a date, he doesn't treat her very nicely. A Harlequin hero would behave more honorably.

And yet, I love Harry and I'm rooting for him. It's partly because life has been so unfair to him. He's the ultimate underdog, always out-gunned and pushed to face the most hideous evil. He's not an Alpha male, that's for sure. But then, I'm not a big fan of Alpha males. (Anyone who's read my books can figure that out!)

So what do you think? Could Harry grow up to be a Harlequin Hero? Or does his nature preclude a future in category romance?

Great American Romance Contest

Harlequin Enterprises is holding a Great American Romance Contest. (More details at www.eharlequin.com)

I don't know much about it, but a reader has asked us the following: "Do any of you Harlequin authors have words of advice or hints/tips for those of us getting ready to enter the Great American Romance contest?"

I guess my biggest piece of advice would be to make sure that you have an American romance. Many times when I read contest entries targeted toward my line, I can tell that the entrant really doesn't have a grasp of "home, hearth, and family." For example, our heroes are not alpha males like you would find in a Harlequin Presents. No matter how well your story is written, a wrong hero will knock you out of the ball park.

Same goes for sensuality level. While Americans can have a range, these books do not have a focus on heat and passion of say, Blaze. Sex is not about having sex for pleasure so much as it is really developing a connection--if that makes sense. Harlequin American Romance editors have been known to tone down anything seen as too overboard--so make sure your heroine isn't salivating over your hero too much.

I've asked the other authors to pop in here as well.

Michele

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tis the season for sales

My friend Julie called me today to tell me that Wal-mart in Union, MO, only had two of my books left on the shelves--meaning I'd sold eight out of 10 in a store I usually only sell half. I was thrilled.

Every time a book gets into the stores I worry about it. The books that I think will do really well sometimes don't. Case in point, Legally Tender, my January 06 American, didn't sell as well as predicted. Maybe it was January, when everyone is broke from holiday spending and making those resolutions to cut back. Maybe it was because it was of the cover. I know I read one blog where the woman loved the book, but she bought it only after someone recommended it to her. She blogged that she hated the title, and had it not been recommended, she never would have bought the book--just because of the title.

So The Wedding Secret is out there now. I can't fix anything about it and I am already writing my November 2007 American. But a book is like a baby, once it's born, you can't send it back if it's not what you expected. However, I love this book. It's one of my favorites. So I hope everyone will love my baby just as much as I do. I hope they'll spare a few Christmas dollars to pick up a little romantic escape. Until the January Americans arrive, I nervously check stores, Amazon numbers and pray. You'd think that after 13 times I'd stop worrying. But I won't.

So I'm like the stores holding their breath on sales numbers. Only time will tell. And come April, when Nine Months' Notice hits the stands, the butterflies and nerves will take flight again. I guess it's all part of the process.

Michele

Thursday, December 07, 2006

What season is it, anyway?

It may be December to you, but what month is it for a novelist?
Weird question, right? But time plays strange tricks when you’re writing a book that might take place during an entirely different season – or in another climate.
Embarrassing problem for us Southern Californians: We forget that people in other places have to wear coats in the winter. Of course, sometimes the problem is subtler than that. I once described a heroine in Austin, Texas taking a sweater along on a summer night in case she got cold. My cousins who live in steamy Austin found that extremely funny.
In case you’ve never been to the LA-Orange County area, it’s a semi-desert climate where temperatures can drop as much as 40 degrees. We hardly ever have hot nights.
The time shift can be tough on readers, too. I’ve had books come out in entirely the wrong season. While it may be pleasant to huddle in front of the fire and read about sunny summer weather, I’m sure it’s disconcerting to hear sleigh bells in July. Of course, our friends in Australia and New Zealand are probably used to that!
I’m actually a little surprised to realize that my February release, The Doctor’s Little Secret, is – get this – set in February. That’s a rarity, believe me.
The editors at Harlequin have my sympathy. It must be tough to schedule four books a month, planning well in advance. Sometimes a book that’s slated for a particular month gets delayed, and another has to be moved up to fill the slot. I’m sure they try to take the seasons into account, but they don’t have magic wands.
Of course, in writing a trilogy like the one that starts in February, I have to think ahead about the months and how they’ll affect the storylines. The second book, Daddy Protector, which comes out in May, takes place during June and July. The third, Twin Surprise [September release],starts in October and ends on New Year’s Eve.
Wait! They’re actually coming out at the right times of the year, or as close as humanly possible.
Maybe those editors ARE superwomen.
In any event, if you’re shivering right now, hope you’ve at least got a good book to read in front of the fire. And some chestnuts or marshmallows roasting. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 04, 2006

HELLO

Hi everyone,
Just checking in, too. A Harlequin American blog—that’s exciting and I’m happy to be a part of it.
I have an American, Once A Cowboy, coming out in February. There’s a real sexy cowboy on the cover. I’ve never had a cover quite like this one and I’m anxious to see how readers will like it.
Right now I’m trying to finish a book, Christmas shop and decorate. There isn’t enough hours in my day.
Take care, Linda Warren

My Name is Shelley and I'm a Wrestling Parent

Right now I feel like I'm two people. By day, I'm Shelley Galloway, Harlequin American Author. I spend my days writing as much as I can, cleaning up the house, running errands...pretty much doing all the things I thought and hoped I'd be doing back when I was young and dreaming about growing up. I do 'girlie' things, too. I get my nails done. I needlepoint. I really like the Hallmark channel.
I also have become a high school wrestling fan.
Yep, my fifteen year old is a high school wrestler. I now spend my evenings worrying about pins and headlocks, ringworm and 'alpha weight'. Sweaty gymnasiums suddenly don't smell too bad to me. I've got a year's supply of Selsen Blue and Lysol in my bathroom. And, I found myself standing up and cheering next to my husband when my kid won a really tough match that involved blood!
Never in a million years would I have thought I'd be excited about these things.
I guess that's why life is so good, huh? Thank goodness we get to do things we'd never thought we'd ever do. Like cheer for a certain sweaty boy who's now taller than me.
And spend my days thinking of another story to tell.

Shelley

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A newbie happy to be here!


Hello, everyone.

This is my first experience posting my own blog entry, so I hope I'm doing this correctly!

I'm thrilled that Harlequin American Romance Authors now have their very own blog.

A little background info about this brand-new author:

I made my first sale a year ago, to Harlequin American, and my first two books came out recently.

THE SHERIFF'S SON was a September 2006 release, and--to both my surprise and joy--it hit the Waldenbooks Series Romance Bestseller list. All due to its adorable cover, for sure! If you haven't seen it, check it out at my website: www.barbarawhitedaille.com

The second book, COURT ME, COWBOY, is a November release and out now. I'm so computer-clueless I can't even call myself technically challenged--but if I've done this correctly, you should see the cover above.

Both books are set in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, a small community where everyone knows everyone else's business--and most don't mind sticking their noses into it, too! All in a good cause, of course.

THE SHERIFF'S SON is about childhood sweethearts who were torn apart and are now reunited. Not such a good thing for my heroine, who is about to lose control of her wayward seven-year-old son, her beloved business, and her deepest, darkest secret.

COURT ME, COWBOY is the story of a couple whose whirlwind relationship resulted in a marriage destined for failure. Then they discover they're pregnant.... Compromise might be an option--if they can survive the courtship they never had first time around.

As you might imagine, I've been living in a wonderful daze for the past three months!

Now it's time to come down out of the clouds, get caught up on my Harlequin American reading, and drop by here often to see what's happening.

Hope you enjoy our new blog!

All the best,

Barbara

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cops, kids and a new trilogy

I’m delighted to participate in the new blog for Harlequin American Romance authors. I’ve been writing for the line for more than twenty years and love the stories that combine family, romance and a touch of humor.

My last series – the five book s of Downhome Doctors – focused on a small Tennessee town in desperate need of physicians. My latest trilogy, which begins in February with The Doctor’s Little Secret, has a pediatrician hero (as you might guess from the title!) and a policewoman heroine.

The three books in the trilogy focus on police officers and the women and children in their lives. Plus there’s a subplot about old and new scandals in the police department in a fictional California town called Villazon. The second and third books will be Daddy Protector, in May, and Twin Surprise, in September.

Years ago, when I wrote for a newspaper called the Orange Coast Daily Pilot and later for The Associated Press in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time around police departments. It was fascinating to hear the stories and points of view expressed by the officers. In addition, a friend of mine who works for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department reads my manuscripts and helps keep me accurate.

Funny note: Recently when I served on a jury (in a lawsuit over a traffic case), the judge asked if any of us had law enforcement connections, presumably to make sure we didn’t know anyone who would be testifying. I explained the situation, since in a sense I do have such a connection. The judge (a woman) and many of the potential jurors were delighted to meet an author, so hopefully some of them are reading this blog!

I look forward to hearing your reactions to my new trilogy. You can read more at my website, www.jacquelinediamond.com.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Hello from Victoria

Hi. I just joined the HAR loop and the blogger community. I don't know much about blogging - I've been listening to Karen/Kara talk about it and generally avoiding it because I can see how it could get time consuming, and frankly, I don't need another time-killer because I'm really good at creating multiple projects and just goofing off on my own! However, I'm glad to be here.

I'm working on a new series set in fictional Brody's Crossing, Texas. The first book, Temporarily Texan, is finished and will be out in July 2007. I'm working on the second book right now about an avante garde hairdresser named Scarlett who gets stuck in Texas on her way to California and the small town lawyer who confronts her about bad hair potential lawsuits. I just finished a series of seven HAR books set in Ranger Springs, Texas (Hill Country.) In my other life, I've written historical, paranormal and short contemporary romance for other publishers.

I'm also a new grandmother (6 month old Lilly) and work part-time at our business managing the financial aspects of the company with the help of my assistant. I'm from Kentucky originally, but married a Texan and ended up here because -- well, that's what Texans do. They return to Texas ASAP. Didn't know that! I thought I was going to live in Colorado forever.

I won't be online much next week because I'm having some minor eye surgery on Tuesday. Nothing serious, but I didn't want anyone to think I was ignoring the blog, although I'm rather bad about remembering to log on and do things. Maybe Karen can remind me. TTY later.

My projects


Happy December 1! I live in St. Louis and we got hit with 2-3 inches of freezing rain and then some snow on top of that. So basically everything is shut down.

I talked with my agent today, firming up my new 3-book deal for Harlequin American. In November 2007, I'll have 2 books out, one with the NASCAR driver (this isn't an American) and then a book I must finish by March 1, tentatively titled Picture Perfect. That will be out the same month and deals with a globe-trotting photojournalist who falls in love with his next door neighbor, a girl who has never even been out of her town.

Out right now in stores, though, is The Wedding Secret, my December release and the second book in my American Beauties continuity series. Romantic Times just gave me 4 stars, so I'm thrilled.

Here's the teaser: After landing a plum position at the hottest talk show in the country, Cecile Duletsky is ready for just about anything. Anything but a complicated relationship, that is. When she meets gorgeous Luke Shaw at her sister's wedding, though, Cecile feels a powerful attraction. What would it hurt to spend one fabulous night with him? Whatever Luke wants, Luke gets. After Cecile disappears from his bed, Luke's not entirely sure how to react. But that's before he shows up for work and meets Cecile--his new employee--in the boardroom. Just being her boss isn't enough…and he's determined to make sure the next time he walks down the aisle, Cecile's on his arm.

Michele

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hello!

Like everyone else I'm checking in. It's great to have a blog for Harlequin American authors.

The ice that virtually has shut down Seattle since Monday is at last melting. We live on a hill and I'm awfully glad. Means I don't have to put on boots and trek a mile to get to the grocery store. On the other hand, I'll be able to tell people, "Back in aught six I had to walk a mile through ice and snow to reach civilization." LOL

I'll be back later with more.

Writing Projects

Hi Kara, your firefighter series sounds wonderful. What woman can resist a firefighter hero!

I'm in the middle of my McKade Brothers series. Aaron Under Construction came out Aug 2006. (Takes place in a hispanic Barrio of Los Angeles) Nelson in Command hits the shelves Jan 07 (Small Illinois dairy farm) and Ryan's Renovation (Neighborhood in Queens NYC) comes out Aug 07. Before Ryan's book I've got a short story included in the *Summer Lovin'* American Anthology called The Preacher's Daughter out June 07 (fictitious town in the Colorado mountains). Next up is a series which takes place in the Kentucky Appalachian Mountains. The books center around a Scotch-Irish clan whose ancestors settled the area in the 1700's. I'm having a great time researching the area, customs and people. Someday I hope to travel there!

Happy Reading!
Marin
www.marinthomas.com

trying to get the hang of this

Okay, I signed in and signed up to blog. This is a trial run. It sounds like fun. Hope to see everyone from HAR here on the blog, and readers, too. Roz

Just staying hello ...

Hi, there, and thanks to Michele Dunaway for setting up our blog!

I thought it might be fun if we all mentioned what we're working on, what releases we have coming out, or what plans we have for the holidays.

Me, I have a firefighter series coming out in January, February and March of 2007. I had a particularly good time researching the books (hanging out at fire stations with hunky guys). So watch for FIREHOUSE 59. The first book is THE FAMILY RESCUE. (You can see the cover if you look at my profile.)

I'm working on another book now, about a wilderness outfitter who inherits ten million dollars--but doesn't want it. Of course the heroine is the one trying to give him the money. It's a contest of wills between the guy from the Texas Hill Country and the girl from New York. I don't have a title yet.

No big plans for the holidays, probably just a quiet time with a few family members. But the pressure is on from the neighborhood. I have to decorate my house. There is a contest for the block with the best decorations, and the winners get a block party next summer, paid for by the neighborhood association. We won last year, and now we have a reputation to uphold.

Cheers,
Kara

Monday, November 27, 2006

Coming soon

Coming soon,

The blog for Harlequin American authors