Friday, March 02, 2007


In A Small-Town Girl, two beagles cause all kinds of trouble. Unfortunately, I have first-hand experience with this! So, in honor of my March release, here’s my personal beagle story.

I’m not a great entertainer, but I am a pretty organized hostess. I enjoy having people over, and I do enjoy that crazy, hectic excitement that comes just hours before everyone is supposed to arrive.
Unfortunately, my hostessing claim to fame is not on the many dinner parties that have been successful, but instead on the Dinner Party That Almost Wasn’t. I blame all of this on our beagle.
We have the sweetest beagle in the world. Her name is Phoebe, and she’s now 11 years old. Basically, all she really does is sleep. Her other main activity is eating…and that’s when one evening everything went wrong.
It all started when my husband, a salesman, was given an account to try to sell. After two years of hard work, he and his team were very close to getting a decision. Six people flew into Cincinnati to prepare and ultimately give the final presentation. After months of meeting in hotels, my husband and I thought it would be great to have everyone over at our house for dinner. It was a piece of cake for me to plan. I ordered a beautiful Honey Baked Ham and made a whole bunch of side dishes. The afternoon that everyone was due to arrive, I set the table, bought flowers, made sure I had drinks and coffee…even made a cake. I waited until the very last moment to get out of my sweats and put on a dress.
Well, when I got back downstairs, two things happened: the phone rang,--my husband, saying they were five minutes away, and I noticed Phoebe lying on the ground. Beside her was my ham. Yep, my beagle somehow found supernatural powers, jumped up on the table and pulled the whole 9 pound ham to the ground. She’d managed to eat a big chunk of it, too.
Oh no!
Panic set in. I had the vice president of my husband’s company due any minute! I had a giant ham mark on my white tablecloth from where the ham had been dragged off the plate and pulled down to the floor. Phoebe also wasn’t doing too well, either. She was looking a little green…obviously no ham was intended for such beagle consumption.
Hastily, I did the only thing I could…I picked up the ham, rinsed it off, lopped off the corner that looked attacked, and put it back on the plate. I found a pretty cloth napkin and hastily covered the grease spot on my linen tablecloth. I tossed the beagle outside just as the garage door opened.
After serving drinks and appetizers, everyone sat down. As everyone ate, Phoebe circled the table, just like a shark. I glared at her and tried to pretend she didn’t look seriously like she was about to, well…divest herself of the ham.
Finally, when the rest of the table was busy talking, Tom said, “Shelley, what’s wrong?”
“The dog ate half the ham,” I whispered.
Unfortunately…there’d been a break in the conversation. Everyone heard. “What?” someone asked.
I could feel my husband’s horrified glare as I tried to laugh it off. As confidently as possible, I relayed how we were all eating Phoebe’s leftovers--just as everyone was staring at their now empty plates. Almost in unison, eight forks hit the table.
And the beagle’s stomach started to gurgle.
Oh no!
Well, before I knew it, everyone left the house in a rush and I was left alone with a sick dog.
But still, there’s more!
Of course, my son needed a poster board for a school project, so I loaded my son in the front seat, beagle in the back, and ran to Walgreens. By this time it was dark. We left the beagle in the car, got the posterboard, got home and cleaned up.
The next morning, my husband woke up late, took the car, drove to the big meeting, gave his presentation, then offered to the drive the VP to the airport…where they both discovered that the beagle had uh, gotten rid of the ham in the backseat while I’d been at Walgreens. I’d been too busy with my son to notice, and my husband had been too worried about the big meeting to notice.
Needless to say, the VP wasn’t impressed.
That’s the last time I’ve offered to give a dinner party. In fact, the last time someone came in town for a meeting, Tom offered to take them to a very nice restaurant. Far away from beagles!

Generation Me

Did anyone see the news coverage citing that kids who grew up in the 1980's are "more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors"? Evidently teachers and parents are to blame for going overboard with phrases like "You're special." And supposedly "studies show that these kids already know their special." The article went on to say "this trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society."

Hmm…that got me wondering if the trend might be harmful to the romance book industry. Seriously, what kind of reading material will Generation Me select as they grow older? More specifically, will Generation Me women even want to read the kind of romance novels I write?

I ponder these things because a sense of community plays an important role in the Harlequin American Romance line. Our characters' lives revolve around neighbors, friends and family. Many of the books contain story lines where the hero and heroine's goals are to help others first, themselves last. I'm worried a story like that might not appeal to a Generation Me reader.

Maybe I'm concerned for nothing. Generation Me won’t be exempt from aging. Eventually, many of them will marry and have families and along the way discover that life doesn’t revolve around them. Years down the road, the American Romance line might very well see a surge in readership. I just hope I'm still putting out books then--sheesh!

Any thoughts regarding the reading preferences of Generation Me?


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Getting Our Names Out

When I sold my first book some 25 years ago, authors lived in a different world. No Internet. No blogs. No e-mail letters to readers. If we arranged our own publicity, it consisted of participating in a few booksignings and mailing press releases to newspapers in our home towns.

Today, there are classes and seminars devoted to teaching authors how to get their names out. We send copies of our books to websites for review, participate in chats and blogs like this one, and, of course, maintain websites (you can find mine at We struggle to master concepts like viral marketing and virtual book tour.

Publishers have come to expect this from authors. What a mixed blessing! I love the chance to communicate directly with readers, but sometimes it’s hard to find the time.

Now, thanks to all this technology, I’m trying something new. In May, Triskelion Publishing ( will issue my first e-book, a paranormal romantic suspense called Touch Me in the Dark. It’s a sexy Gothic with a murder mystery, a ghost and a brooding, sensual hero. I’m learning the publicity ropes all over again, looking into e-book sites and chats and loops. It’s enough to make an author dizzy.

With four books coming out this year, I’ve even dared to take a shot at the Holy Grail of authors by pitching a story to Oprah. My mother, Sylvia Hyman, an internationally renowned ceramic sculptor, will turn 90 in September and has three major shows scheduled this year, including one in South Korea. I suggested a segment about mother-and-daughter creative artists and how we’ve encouraged and inspired each other throughout our long careers.

I’ll let you know how this venture turns out! In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy my trilogy for Harlequin American about police officers finding love and parenthood in a small town. It started with February’s The Doctor’s Little Secret, continues with May’s Daddy Protector and concludes in September with Twin Surprise.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Vocabulary Brought to You by...

Hi, I'm Tanya Michaels and my first American Trouble in Tennessee will be out this July. I have a long history with Harlequin--not only have I written over a dozen books for them, I've been reading Harlequins since...well, since probably before I should have been *g*

I've loved romance novels since I was young and learned a lot about different careers and different countries, people in different life situations than I've faced (or would want to...particularly when those situations involve suspense plots or getting trapped in blizzards). Reading Harlequin Historicals set during the Regency period led to curiosity that prompted my degree in History with a focus on Great Britain. And because I often read above my grade level, I had a superior vocabulary. Not that I could always pronounce the words in my great vocabulary.

See, the problem with picking words up through context is not having anyone to go over the pronounciation with you (especially when it's an old-fashioned word most people stopped using around 1900).

I have a friend with a similar reading history who told her mom at a young age that she thought it would be quite romantic to be married in a gaze-beau, because as far as she knew that was how you said gazebo. And my mother and sister who work professionally with dogs had quite a laugh at my mangling of Papillon (don't even talk to me about Bichon Frise--come on, if you'd never heard of the breed before, wouldn't you think Bitchin' Fries was perfectly logical?) At least with the Harry Potter movies, they helped me out and made's how I finally figured out Hermione.

So I thank all the authors over the years who have contributed to my knowledge of words! I'm incredibly grateful that I have a job where I get to use my love of words every single day...without having to say them out loud.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Thanks, Buddy

Buddy, the musical about Buddy Holly, is in Seattle. The other night my husband and I went, along with his cousin and wife. Buddy Holly was a bit before my time, but I’ve always loved his music. The show was fabulous! People of all ages were there, and everyone was rockin’ out to the music, which comes as no surprise. Few can resist the lure of Buddy Holly’s music.

The rhythm and the tune and the lyrics get under your skin and into your soul and before you know it, you’re boppin’ in your seat and maybe singing along. You might even belt out the tunes in the shower. Why is that? Because Holly taps universal themes within us. We are rhythmic creatures: our heartbeat and our breathing and the systems within our bodies all create continual rhythms within us. The themes in Holly’s music, love, loneliness, heartache, are themes we all can relate to because we, too, have experienced these things. Did I mention that this stuff is universal?

A good book is much like that—timeless, with a story that gets under your skin and into your soul. You may not physically dance with a book, but your mind does that dance, whether it be slow, fast, or in-between. You think about the characters and the story even when it’s over, and you may go back and read it again. Because it is on your keeper shelf.

As authors, we’d all like to write books like that. I know I do. Buddy has taught me that the things bubbling in my head and touching my heart are probably not so different from what every woman thinks and dreams about—family, love, happiness. My challenge is to connect with the reader the way Buddy connected with anyone listening to him.

Ann Roth
It Happened One Wedding, April, 2007
Another Life, April, 2007