Saturday, May 16, 2009

Heroes--The Nerdy Kind

What's not to like about a Nerd Hero?

When I think of a Romantic Nerd I think of a man who wears Clark Kent glasses, a pocket protector, has keen, intelligent eyes. A man who looks a lady in the eye when she speaks and actually listens to what she says. A Nerd is a man who's constantly thinking--even in a crisis he'll stop and think before reacting. These intelligent guys treat the loves of their life with care and will risk embarrassment to win her trust and affection. If a woman can catch a Nerd's attention long enough to pull them away from their current obsession she'll discover that when a Nerd focuses on her, all that High IQ and depth of feeling is hers for the taking. And Nerds excell in the bedroom because they approach making love like a science experiment--they don’t quit until they get it right!

In Book 3 of my Cartwright Siblings series, Samantha's Cowboy (Aug 2009), my heroine falls for a Nerd. He's even got a Nerdy name--Wade. I had a lot of fun creating Wade. Like a true Nerd he's not absorbed with his own looks and could care less about Samantha's shortcomings--he loves her just the way she is. And Wade's a sexy cowboy Nerd! See the book cover here

But Nerds are not perfect--what hero is? Nerds tend to believe they have the right answer to every problem. They don't like to admit they've made a mistake and when they do, they want to fix the blunder before anyone finds out they're only human--and that causes bigger problems. However, the word Defeat is not in the Nerd dictionary.

Anyone care to fess up and admit they've fallen for a Nerd before or maybe you married one!

Marin Thomas
A Cowboy's Promise (June 2009)
Samantha's Cowboy (August 2009)
A Cowboy Christmas (December 2009)

Friday, May 15, 2009


This is my very first time to blog with the Harlequin American Authors. I'm so thrilled to be here and to be a part of this talented group of writers.

When suggested that I attempt the topic of alpha males and why women love them, I found myself at a bit of a loss. I love them. I’m told by my critique partners that my heroes are 100% alpha. But I discovered that even though I’m a writer, I have a difficult time putting into words what makes a guy alpha. So I did what any intelligent 21st century person does; Googled Alpha Male.
In searching site after site, there were obvious recurring themes.
Alpha dog - Leader of the pack - The alpha dog is the dog to which other members of the pack are submissive. Alpha dog is often used in both domesticated breeds of dogs and in wild wolf societies to express the leadership characteristics of the dog to which all other dogs defer. The dominant male—ie the one with the most physical prowess and strength—wins the right to breed with the females in the pack. This primal instinct ensures that the species will continue. Read this last sentence very carefully. Talk about goal and motivation.
Alpha dogs exude confidence, maintaining control through body position, facial expression, and the occasional nip or snarl at beta members of the pack. I laughed out loud at this last comment, realizing that my heroes do on occasion snarl at other males. Whodathunkit?
The human alpha male is a natural leader. He responds aggressively to attempts by others to overthrow or outshine him. My alpha heroes may achieve dominance by more subtle means than say a physical fight, but if challenged, they aren’t afraid to fight for their position of power.
In some social settings, alpha males may be judged not so much by aggression, but by their ability to attract the most beautiful women as mates. To this end the alpha male is often taller than average, has a muscular build, and handsome features. In today’s society, he often also possesses a high socioeconomic status.
In high school settings, generally the alpha male leads the pack. He’s typically muscle-bound, sometimes the “jock,” while beta males tend to be less assured around females and may participate in less “male” activities. I dated a few of both types and enjoyed the nuances of each. But in keeping with the statistics, found the alphas more intriguing. My father was an alpha. I’ve been married to an alpha over 30 years.
This one last comment pretty much sums up my feelings about Alphas. “Alpha roles should be defined in humans as leaders that promote communal succession (thrive, grow and prosper) that harmonize environmentally with our ecology.” This goes right along with the Alpha dog analogy. Alpha’s are not only physically strong enough to survive, but also posses superior intelligence in order to keep the rest of their pack safe and ensure that they survive and prosper. Now who would have ever thought of an Alpha as a nurturer? Tough yes, a macho approach, sure, but a nurturer/caretaker just the same.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm a Book Junkie!

Yep, I’ll admit it – I love books, always have and always will. This love affair started about the time I learned about Dick and Jane running around with Spot and Puff. It progressed from there to reading every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on. Then I segued to the Little House on the Prairie stories. Imagine my astonishment – and remember I grew up in South Texas and had never seen a snowflake until I went to college – that it was possible to get stranded by a blizzard. Who’d a thunk it?

Books open new horizons, they’re a cheap vacation, sometimes they’re a respite from reality and they can be a great upper for the psyche. In high school I was a library assistant, and it probably isn’t much of a stretch to say I read the entire fiction section – mysteries, thrillers, romance and literary – you name it and I devoured it. I read Gone with the Wind three times by the time I was fifteen. Personally, I wanted to smack Scarlett up side the head. I mean really, she preferred that wussy Ashley over macho Rhett. What a dolt!

One of my all-time favorite books – it’s old but not quite as antique as GWTW – is Leon Uris’s Exodus. It’s an epic portrayal of post WWII Europe and the creation of modern Israel. And in that vein I’m also a great fan of Ken Follett, especially Lie Down With Lions. Good old Ken is a romance writer at heart, not that he’d ever admit it. Set in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, this book is a spy thriller intertwined with a fairly hot romance.

Fast forward to present day. I own every one of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books. I particularly like Grandma Mazer, and Joe Morelli – whew, is it getting hot in here?

There are quite a few RWA authors that I buy without even reading the back cover, and they span the spectrum from funny, to sweet to thrillers. In the mystery realm I’ve discovered a new author named Andrew Gross. He co-wrote with James Patterson but has gone off on his own. He has that Hitchcock twist down pat. And the newest addition to my “keep” pile is Sara Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. What a feel good book!

So whether you’re planning to sit on a beach or chill out in a hammock, grab a good book and enjoy.

BTW, what are some of your favorites?

Ann DeFee
The Man She Married, HAR, Feb. 2009
Top Gun Dad, HAR, Oct. 2009

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Joining the digital revolution

I have recently discovered Facebook. I’ve been on it since 2006, when my daughter made me a page. But I never did anything with said page. That changed this week, when I finally got my yahoo email working again and my Facebook password changed. Suddenly, I was online.

Then I had decisions to make. Exactly what type of a page did I want? As writers, we put ourselves out there all the time, such as through our websites and blogging. I have followers on twitter that I don’t know; people who read about what I’m doing that day. I read over 150 emails a day in regards to my job and writing. So I decided to keep my Facebook page invite only and my profile private.

I figured it just made sense. When I looked at who had friend requests waiting for me, I discovered it was friends and former students and a few writer buddies. Then I looked at to whom I was sending friend invites. This could be my window to all those people whom I never seem to get a chance to talk as much as I’d like because life is so busy. I’m either teaching, writing or being a mom. While I love picking up the phone and hearing someone’s voice, there aren’t very many extra minutes in the day, and my friends are equally as busy. Now I can read my wall.

I’ve already reconnected with my best friends from high school who I get to see every so often and who send me all those fun emails. I miss them, and dedicated my March book to them. I’ve found former students. I haven’t befriended my prom date or ex boyfriends since that seems creepy, although my daughter tells me it’s quite common. As to making another Facebook page for my books and fans—that’s something to think about for another day.
So I’m in the modern world, but keeping it close. If you want to follow me, catch me on Or keep reading my posts right here on this blog twice a month or visit me on the forums at eharlequin. That’s me out there. Facebook’s me “in there”, my tiny window into what once was my world, and I’m liking it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Household Cleaning Tip

I know very few women who enjoy housework. We all love the smell of a clean house and the look of a clean house--but the actual cleaning…ugh! Some of us may be fortunate to have a cleaning lady or service spruce up our homes but for those who don't--like Moi--each month we'll post a household cleaning tip from one of our American Romance authors. We hope you'll find these bits of advice helpful. And we encourage you to share your cleaning secrets and shortcuts with the rest of us!

Household Cleaning Tip from Trish Milburn

1. Break tasks down into 15-minute segments, and set a kitchen timer to keep track. This helps keep housecleaning from seeming overwhelming, and if you're a writer it gets you up from your computer for those 15 minutes every hour. The housework gets done, and you get a physical and mental break from your work.

2. Save painting interiors for a pleasant day when you can open the windows. This keeps the fumes from bothering you as you paint and lets them escape the indoors so you don't have to sleep with that paint smell.

Heartbreak River
(as Tricia Mills), Razorbill (4/09)
Her Very Own Family, Harlequin American (5/09)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Interview: Cindi Myers

How did you make your first sale?

I was a Golden Heart finalist in 1997 (Short Historical). At the reception for finalists, an editor with Berkley asked me what I was working on. I knew she had already rejected the finalist manuscript, so I pitched a book I had just started. Set in post-Civil war Texas, it had a quilting theme. As it happened, Berkley was just beginning a new line of Quilting Romances, so the
editor asked to see "whatever I had." I sent the first three chapters and a synopsis when I returned home from the conference in August.

In October, my husband and I took a vacation to Washington DC We arrived home after midnight on October 10. My answering machine light was blinking. The message was from the editor -- she wanted to buy my book! Needless to say, I didn't sleep that night.

Patchwork Hearts was published in 1999 under my maiden name, Cynthia Sterling. I wrote 7 historicals under that name before turning to contemporary romance, writing as Cindi Myers

Tell us about your book.

The Man Most Likely is the third in a series of connected books I'm writing for Harlequin American, set in the ski resort town of Crested Butte, Colorado. I love this book because the heroine, Angela, is working hard to accept herself just as she is. She's a size 16 and determined to stop trying to fit into a mold of how everyone else thinks she should look and make the most of what she has. She's an amateur actress and owns her own business - a chocolate shop called the Chocolate Moose. When she meets the hero, Bryan, she doesn't know what to think of him. He's drop-dead gorgeous and has a reputation as a slacker -- a snowboarder who works odd jobs and spends his time playing. But Bryan is trying to get his life on track. He's working as Assistant Manager of a resort hotel and is putting his slacker days behind him. Bryan is blown away by his attraction to Angela; she's not the gorgeous model type he's used to dating. But he's ready to settle down and decides Angela is worth pursuing, if only he can persuade her his feelings for her are real and true.

If you could be lazy for an entire day what would you do?

Read! I'd work my way through my TBR pile.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I'm an avid skier and try to get out on the snow as much as possible in winter. In summer, my husband and I like to hike and camp with our two dogs. I love to knit and cook. And for the past two years I've been studying Middle Eastern Belly Dance. I belong to a troupe that dances at local festivals and benefits. It's a blast!

What is your writing routine?

I have had different routines over the years. Late last year I listed to a workshop by Eric Maisel on being productive and he recommended writing first thing in the morning, before all the intrusions of the day distracted from creative thought. So beginning in January, I started a new routine that's been working really well for me.

My husband leaves for work about 6:30 every morning. He makes me a cup of tea and brings it to me and wakes me up to kiss me good-bye. I keep my Alpha Smart by the bed and write on it until 8 o'clock or so. Then I get up and start the rest of my day. I transfer the pages from the Alpha Smart to my laptop in the afternoon and often write additional pages. But even if life
throws me a curve and I do nothing else the rest of the day, I at least have written something that morning. I have found I can write between 6 and 8 pages in that hour and a half in the morning.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

I think the hardest part is battling the little voice in my head that says it's not good enough. I try hard not to listen to it, but it is a struggle.

How long have you been writing?

I always wanted to be a writer. When I was 8 or 9 I read the Little House books by Laura Ingals Wilder and told my mom I wanted to write books like that. In college I began writing a column for our local weekly newspaper and after I graduated (with a degree in economics) instead of going to work for a bank, I accepted the offer of a job with the newspaper. I covered city and
county government and wrote a weekly column and features. When I left that job I freelanced for magazines for a number of years, fulltime and part time. I sold the occasional short story. I wrote two very long, unsold historical novels. Finally, I landed an agent and she suggested I try
romance. I had never read romance before, so I asked a girlfriend who was a fan to recommend some books. I read a big stack of them and was hooked! After that I wrote eight complete manuscripts that didn't sell, before I finally sold that proposal to Berkley.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

I teach writing and so many of my students expect success to come quickly and easily. Writing is hard work and no matter how long you've been writing, there is always room for improvement. I learn ways every year to improve my writing. So number one is to be prepared to work hard and never stop trying to improve. Number two is to be patient -- the wheels of publishing turn
slowly and it can take time to get the attention of agents or publishers or to find a home for your work.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I'm currently working on my 42nd contracted novel. Some I love more than others, but asking me to choose a favorite is like asking a mother to name her favorite child. Sometimes, it depends on the day of the week.