Saturday, May 03, 2008

Almost Real

It all started out innocently enough. My husband Tom and I were in our small group at church and taking part in a discussion about workdays. It turned out that quite a few of us worked from home, and while weighing the pros and cons of this, a few people mentioned feeling isolated. Someone asked how I felt-after all, I’m home by myself most every day since my husband travels and my kids are in school.

Before actually thinking about how it would sound I said, “Well, see, I spend most of my days writing. And by the time I’m about 50 or 60 pages into a book, I really feel like I know all my characters. So, I’m rarely by myself-I’m with a whole group of people who I really like because, well, I made them up.”

Dead silence. Warily, I looked to Tom who shook his head slightly. It was the same kind of look he gives me when I have food or something on my chin.


Suddenly, I realized what I'd just said. Not only do I make up people and pretend they’re real, but I um, actually prefer their company to most others.

No doubt about it, I sounded weird.

That conversation got me thinking about characters so great that you wish you did actually know them. I read Debbie Macomber’s Twenty Wishes this week and cried while reading the last ten pages. I loved those women! (Come on, Debbie…you don’t need to sleep! Write what happens next! :)

As for my books, one of my favorite characters is Claire Grant. She’s the heroine of The Mommy Bride, and was a secondary character in Simple Gifts. I’ve been with her through homelessness, pneumonia, her first interviews, and now…falling in love. She made a lot of days in my basement seem like the absolutely BEST place to be in the world. I’m going to miss Claire.

Until I get busy with another Harlequin, I think I’m going to concentrate on real, live people for a bit. Wish me luck. : )
Anyone else have a character in a book or movie that they’ve really liked?

PS. If you have time, take a visit to Brenda Novak's website. She's hosting an amazing auction! All the proceeds go to help research for children's diabetes! I have a set of books up for auction there...all five of my Harlequin Americans! There's also books by other American authors, and even meetings with Harlequin editors!


Friday, May 02, 2008

Contest winner!!!

The April winner of our monthly contest drawing is..... Christa. Way to go! Please contact Michele Dunaway, Megan Kelly and Linda Warren via their websites to collect your free, autographed books.

And remember, every time you comment you are automatically registered to win. Tell your friends!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Welcome home

An author can’t help using her own life in her books. That’s a scary thought, considering that among my 80 novels are murder mysteries, a fantasy novel and even one horror tale dredged from the darkest corners of my usually sunny psyche. Of course, there are also romances set in Regency England, so maybe I was a friend of Jane Austen’s in another life.

If you’d like to visit my present neighborhood, you can do so starting this month, when my hometown of Brea, California provides the setting for my latest Harlequin American trilogy. The books begin with The Family Next Door and continue in August with Baby in Waiting. In January 2009, Million-Dollar Nanny concludes the trilogy.

Of course, fiction isn’t the same as real life – it’s much more organized (usually) and doesn’t leave loose ends. So I created the fictionalized development of Harmony Circle, a neighborhood populated by personalities I hope will keep you entertained.

In each book, a hero and heroine resolve their own issues. In The Family Next Door, widow Diane Bittner is distressed to discover that her handsome new neighbor, Josh Lorenz, was the holdout juror in the murder trial of her husband’s killer. Although he honestly believed the man to be innocent, she’s convinced Josh let a guilty man go free. But how can she resist when their preteen daughters begin making plans to bring the two of them together?

A subplot running through the three books concerns a small cottage that’s part of Harmony Circle’s history. When an heiress and her fiancĂ© propose to tear it down and build a mansion, some residents see the plan as a disaster. Then an unexpected twist changes everyone’s perspective.

I hope you’ll enjoy your visit to Harmony Circle. There’s nothing like making new friends in a kind-hearted neighborhood!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rachel's last recipe

It’s been a month of fun! If you’ve made the rounds, you found the third of Rachel’s recipes, for brownies, on my agent’s blog. If not, go here

For the last recipe, I’m going to give you an egg-less cupcake recipe that I use. There are no eggs in these and they are quick and easy to make. This recipe comes directly from Hershey, my all-time favorite company as they make chocolate, my diet staple. I make these and don’t even frost them. You can using the brownie frosting recipe (on my agent’s blog) but I like them just dusted with powdered sugar or left plain.

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt.
1 cup water
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 375. Line muffin cups (2 ½ inches in diameter) with paper baking cups (I have also used silicon baking cups and had them stand alone on a cookie sheet). In medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla, beat with a metal whisk just until batter is smooth and ingredients are well blended. Do not over whisk. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost as desired.

And for one last really awesome cookbook that I couldn’t live without, find the Hershey’s 100th Anniversary: 100 Years of Hershey Favorites at

So that’s it! I hope you have fun this month baking with Rachel and that you enjoyed both The Marriage Recipe and the romance. I don’t have any more Harlequin American novels out until January 2009, but don’t forget my two NASCAR books. Out of Line debuts in June. Check out my blog for a cover that's simply steaming. You may have to scroll a bit, but he's worth it.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Deadline Brain

Yesterday I turned in my completed manuscript to my Harlequin editor. The sprint to the deadline is always exhausting, but deadlines do something to my brain, too. I call it "deadline brain," and it causes me to have conversations like this:

Me: "Hon, I'm going to the store to buy some ...
Husband: "Some what?"
Me: "Some ... you know, the white stuff that comes out of a cow?"
Husband: "You mean milk."
Me: "Right, that's it! Milk."
Husband: "Okay."

The husband doesn't even blink anymore when I can't come up with the simplest words or remember something he just told me. Chances are, after the above conversation, I'll get to the store and buy a basketful of stuff ... and forget the milk.

Sometimes I'll catch myself just standing stock still, staring at a wall in a complete daze, and I'll wonder how long I've been standing there. Also part of this syndrome is a complete lack of interest in writing (and possibly the conviction that I'll never write another book, that I'm going to do something else now like weave baskets).

Fortunately, the condition of Deadline Brain passes in a day or two. A couple of nights sleeping long and hard usually helps. Gradually, a few creative thoughts will slip into my conscious mind, flashes of a new character or snippets of conversation, or something will stir a memory that will get me to thinking, "What if?" Then I'm off to the races again.

But not today. Today I'm lucky to get a blog post!

* * *

Writing News: My June Harlequin American, RELUCTANT PARTNERS, got a 4-1/2 stars TOP PICK from Romantic Times!

If you haven't yet entered my contest, you still have a couple of days. Visit, and click on the contest button. I'm giving away my January book, GOOD HUSBAND MATERIAL, and a few other goodies as well.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spring - where are you?

Spring has NOT sprung in the Pacific Northwest. While most of the nation has been enjoying sunny skies and shorts wearing weather, the webfoot residents of the PNW have had 2 - yep, you heard right - 2 days without something nasty falling from the sky. One minute it might be snow, and then before you can turn around it's raining. Ah, don't forget about the hail. Ay, yi, yi, yi, yi! Our heating bills look like it's winter, we're running the gas insert and our coats have not been put away for the season. Did I mention we dipped below freezing almost every night in April?

Enough of the griping. Yesterday was beautiful. It was sunny (sort of) and sixty. People broke out the motorcycles and bicycles. They donned shorts and sandals. Picnic baskets came out of hiding. The golden orb was in the sky, birds were frolicking and folks throughout the land were celebrating. And guess what? It was sucker spring.

But hope springs eternal (no pun intended). When you folks around the nation are sweltering we'll be having enjoying sunny and seventy. And with the number of writers we have in this area, I'm convinced there's something about the weather that makes us creative - or is that crazy?

Back to watching the rain and finishing the revisions on my May 1 deadline.

Ann DeFee