Saturday, June 06, 2009

It's Author News Day!

Contest Winner

CONGRATULATIONS MarcieR! You are our May winner. To receive your free autographed books please contact Lisa Childs and Linda Warren through their Web sites.

To enter our monthly contest simply leave a blog comment and your name will go into the drawing. Simple and painless. And FREE BOOKS.

So check back often and be sure to leave a comment. Good luck!


This month we’re sending a big, warm welcome to multi-published author Rebecca Winters! Her first American Romance—The Chief Ranger—is a June release.

This June eHarlequin is celebrating Harlequin American Romance and we thought, what would be better than having a virtual picnic—a scrapbook of memories, photos, recipes and your favorite things to do to commemorate America's birthday?

It's your turn! Give us your recipes, what you can't live without at your 4th of July picnic, your most requested item, traditional items on the table, tips for keeping away the bugs, your favorite spots and memories —we encourage pictures—and your favorite books to sit outside and read. Watch for some of your favorite authors—including an online read by Cathy Gillen Thacker—and discover new authors this month as we chatter while sitting on our virtual checkerboard blanket!
Congratulations to Ann Roth and Linda Warren. Ann’s THE PILOT’S WOMAN (American Romance, March 2008) and Linda’s TEXAS BLUFF (Superromance, February 2008) are finalists in the Holt Medallion Contest!


Ann Roth’s July release, A FATHER FOR JESSE, is a Romantic Times Top Pick and received a 4 ½ star review!

Mark Your Calendar

June 9—Harlequin American Romance release day! Four great new reads. Check out the covers in the sidebar.

June 23—Don't miss our June author interview with Cathy McDavid here on the blog.

June 25—This will be our next news day on the blog. Be sure to stop by to find out what’s “news” with the Harlequin American Romance Authors.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Location, location, location…. Setting is key to any story

We writers love to talk about our craft. This month’s topic is setting (aka atmosphere, background). The overall setting is the town or city where the story happens--including the little details that bring the place to life. On a smaller scale, setting is where each scene takes place. Setting plays a role in any story. In some, it becomes like a character. For example, in a story where characters must battle the elements in order to survive, whatever those elements are become so key that they are every bit as important as any character.

In American Romances the sense of community is all-important. The setting can augment that community feel. My American novels take place in small towns to underline the community element, but a writer can do the same in any big city. It’s all in how we present the atmosphere and background and the characters involved.

For my Halo Island series, I chose a small island with a big summer tourist business. I like the sense of separateness and intimacy created by the island. Some of my other story settings have been in fictitious towns on the Oregon Coast, in towns on the outskirts of Seattle, and in a fictitious Midwest town. Each is a unique atmosphere that in some way highlights or adds to the story.

Setting can have a huge impact on who the characters are and how they view life. Take a character, say the novel’s hero, born and raised in Big Sky country, where the population is limited and the terrain is vast and open. Now imagine the heroine born and raised in Manhattan, with its concrete and tall buildings, and the non-stop hordes of people.

How might these two view the world? Chances are, not at all the same way. Your Big Sky fella might be used to a slower tempo, thinking huge and speaking his mind. If he needs to get away, he might hike or take a long drive. Whereas Ms. Manhattan might be on espresso time, fast, fast, fast. Her world might be limited to the people in her apartment building or her work. Maybe she hides her thoughts in order to get ahead. When she needs a break, she shops or dashes into a coffee bar. The hero might quickly feel overwhelmed in the Big Apple, and the heroine would quite possibly freak out at the quiet and space in Montana.

I could go on and on about the differences created just by where a person is raised… but due to space constraints, I won’t.

But I would love to think about and discuss setting further. So please join in. What kinds of settings do you enjoy? What settings would you like to see in future novels?

A Father for Jesse
RT Top Pick! July, 2009

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Recipe of the month

This month's recipe, from Trish Milburn, looks absolutely scrumptious. Heck, with all that butter, cream cheese, sugar and chocolate, how could it be anything but? I don't know about you, but I'm going to buy what I need and whip up a batch this weekend!

Thanks, Trish.

Pistachio Fingers

1 cup sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 1/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
1 (3 3/4-ounce) package instant pistachio-flavored pudding and pie filling mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ounces (3 squares) semi-sweet chocolate or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

In a large bowl, beat sugar, margarine and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; beat well. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, and level off. In medium bowl, combine flour, pudding mix, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to cream cheese mixture; mix well. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour. After one hour, heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Wet hands to avoid dough sticking to hands. Shape teaspoonfuls of dough into 1 1/2-inch fingers. Place on cookie sheets. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool completely. In small saucepan, melt chocolate and shortening, stirring constantly until well blended. Drizzle small amount of chocolate over each cookie. Allow chocolate to set before storing. Yield: 8 1/2 dozen cookies.

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

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My Change of Setting

This month a lot of us are going to be blogging about the importance of setting to the Harlequin American line. I’d agree that it’s an integral part of our books. I love reading other author’s novels and getting transported to other places. Currently, I’m reading Cindi Myers’ latest, which takes place in Crested Butte, Colorado. What a fun escape from Cincinnati!

At the moment, I’m afraid I’m most consumed with my current setting-our new home. We moved last Friday, the day before my son graduated high school. Talk about poor timing! My mom and my mother-in-law were in town, parties were going on, and we were frantically doing our best to move two miles away. I was so worried we’d lose my son's cap and gown-I started carrying it everywhere with me. (yes, no matter what else would happen, my son would graduate!)

I’d love to say things went off without a hitch, but that would be lying. Phoebe the beagle learned to chew through every box that even smelled like food. Once we came home to a real mess. Somehow she discovered a box of spices and ate an entire bottle of chicken seasoning.

No, it didn’t suit her stomach.

The people who were moving into our old house were not especially nice or patient. They came early, complained to my son, and then complained about the carpet. (see earlier paragraph)

I didn't know how to tell them that she's done far worse things.

The movers accidentally broke the top to one of our tables. They’ll pay to have it repaired, which I didn’t dare complain about since Phoebe ate one of the guy's Big Macs from McDonalds…and then all the peppers on another’s Subway sandwich.

No, that didn’t suit her stomach either. I woke up during our first night in our new home to watch her uh…divest herself next to my bed.

Now things are a mess again. We’re getting wood floors installed…and having acres of white tile pulled up. Yesterday one of the workers was rushed to the emergency room for six stitches. I guess that tile is exceptionally sharp.

So, that’s our life right now. Exciting and hectic and dirty and pretty-we had deer in our new backyard yesterday!

And last but not least, my gorgeous son looked awesome in his cap and gown when he graduated on Saturday-So, as my kids would say…it’s all good.


Monday, June 01, 2009

Taking a chance on love

For an author, each book is an adventure. No matter how many we’ve written – and I’ve sold 84 in the past 25 years – each story begins fresh and takes on a life of its own.

For Harlequin American, I just finished writing the first book in my Safe Harbor Medical miniseries, due out in February 2010. (Before that, I’ll wrap up my Harmony Circle miniseries in September 2009 with Doctor Daddy). Although I’d written a brief synopsis before I started, I had no idea the hero and heroine would butt heads in such an interesting manner – for me, anyway – with tart dialogue and a few tears along the way to their happy ending.

But these days, it isn’t enough to be an author. Writers also have to publicize our books, such as by blogging. Plus, beginning this year, I took over updating my Web site, which is an adventure in itself. Thank goodness for the help of my former webmaster, Karen Fox, and my brother, Paul Hyman, a computer programmer who possesses unusual patience. Working on my site ( is an adventure in its own way.

Recently, I decided to start posting the first chapters of my books. After all, I like to look through a book before buying, and I figure my readers might feel the same way. So, as an experiment, I recently posted the first chapter of my January release, Million-Dollar Nanny, and put a link on my home page.

My adventures don’t stop there. Amazon is allowing authors to post their books for sale on the e-reader device Kindle. Why not try it? I own all rights to my contemporary Gothic suspense, Touch Me in the Dark, which has a checkered past.

It nearly sold to three different publishers but got nixed at the highest levels. Finally I contracted with the e-publisher Triskelion, which posted it for sale less than a month before going bankrupt. The upshot is that nobody got a chance to read it.

I priced Touch Me in the Dark at the bargain rate of $1.99, and I’ll be very curious to see if it finally finds an audience, at least among Kindle folks. If you’d like to read the first chapter for free, that’s posted on my Web site, too, with a link on the home page. I don’t have the link to Amazon yet, but I’ll post that when I get it.

If you check out either of the first chapters, let me know what you think, either by posting below or by emailing me at Are you more likely to buy a book if you can read the first chapter?