Beguiling the Beauty, at Long Last

Phew.  Squee.  Omg.  I am both stupefied with excitement and oddly apprehensive, but mostly just pretty darn happy.

Which isn’t to say that I was unhappy when I didn’t have books out.  It was actually quite lovely to just work and never worry about sales, reception, and whatnot–a purer form of the creative life.  But I don’t write books only for myself so it is also very, very nice, once in a while, to have one out for public consumption.

I have an interview going on at Reader I Created Him.  AAR is giving away five copies of RAVISHING THE HEIRESS, my July release–you’ve until Thursday 11:59pm.  And if you, like me, enjoy such things as a swift kick to the rear, 🙂 then I also have a 3-chapter critique up for bid at Crits for Water–it will be up for 48 hours.

I am the keynote speaker at Connecticut Fiction Fest on May 12.  There is still time to register if you are interested.

For readers outside of North America, my first two books are now available for Kindle.  And will be available on other platforms as soon as we configure how to restrict sales on those platforms to outside of North America–possibly as early as next week.  For Private Arrangements, click here.  For Delicious, here.

I still have to proof NOT QUITE A HUSBAND and HIS AT NIGHT; those will have to wait until TEMPTING THE BRIDE is in tiptop shape.  Want to close out the trilogy on a proper high note so must work for it.

And on that, I hope you enjoy BEGUILING THE BEAUTY!

Beguiling the Beauty ARC Giveaway & Other Stuff

So I’ve just had a ARC giveaway over at Smart Bitches.  The good news is, it was really fun. The bad news is, the giveaway is now closed.  BUT, because I’m such a big softy, I’m having a consolation giveaway on my Facebook author page. Ha, you didn’t even know I had one of those, did you?  Most days I don’t either.  All this multiplicity of social media makes my head spin.  But since it is there, we might as well climb that mountain.  So head on over right now and post a comment in the giveaway announcement.  No need to say anything witty, you just can write, “Ima Reader wuz here” or “Want book” and that will count.  We’ll hold that open for 72 hours.

And if you don’t get lucky there, I’m giving away another copy on March 29 on author Ashley March’s blog.

Now onto Other Stuff.

1) AT YOUR PLEASURE is out next week.  Have you pre-ordered your copy yet?  If not, why not?

2) TEMPTING THE BRIDE has a cover and it’s a good one.

I love her face.  That is the perfect face for Helena, the heroine of the book, who will most definitely be glancing toward the hero with that look of challenge in her eyes.

I am on my knees in prayer that the book will be as good as the cover.  It is still being worked on and will prolly be worked on until Berkley comes to take the pages out of my cold, cramped hands to hand them to production.  That’s the thing about secondary characters in other books–they always seem so interesting.  And holy @#$%, the hero of TEMPTING THE BRIDE submits an illustrated erotic manuscript to Helena, a publisher, in book 2 of the trilogy–I’d call that interesting.  How to do it so that they don’t suddenly become boring in their own book?  The stress has very nearly wrecked my wrists.

(When I get stressed I play casual games, esp. the time management variety–the irony.  Those are hard on the wrists, even more so if you play them on a laptop.  There were a couple of weeks when I had radiating pain shooting up and down my wrists and forearms.  I even purchased some braces on Meredith’s advice.  But since then I’d come to my senses and uninstalled some of my favorite games and my wrists are back to being okay. Phew.)

(Isn’t that awful?  There are writers whose wrists are damaged by actual work.  And here I am, damaged by fun.)  🙂

3) And you thought 3 books out in a year is a lot.  Well, as it turns out, I am also part of an anthology featuring Courtney Milan and Carolyn Jewel titled MIDNIGHT SCANDALS.  We are self-pubbing it August of this year and the price point will prolly be something like $2.99.  Cheap thrills, folks, cheap thrills.  🙂

4) This does not really affect readers in North America much, but my books are not available for legitimate downloads in UK, ANZ, or other markets because Random House, which publishes my backlist, does not have world English rights and cannot offer them for sale outside of the U.S.  (They can export physical copies, but cannot directly sell digital copies on such platforms as Amazon.)

But I can.  And I will, very soon.  Working with my agency, we are in the process of making my books available on Kindle overseas (Amazon is the only one that lets me select the territories, so I don’t step on RH’s toes here in N.A.).  We’ve the covers.  I’ve already proofed PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS and DELICIOUS and will be proofing the other two shortly.

The overseas editions will actually be slightly improved over their domestic counterparts, as the RH ebooks didn’t have the proper accent marks for either books when foreign phrases were involved.  Also, all the occurrences of the word “madam” in DELICIOUS, used to address the character of the Dowager Duchess were changed to “madame”s–in both paper & e editions–after I had done my final proofing, without my knowledge, which quite frustrated me, as one simply do not go around calling an Englishwoman “madame” for no reason.  So now only the French cook will be addressed as madame.  Which probably matters to no one else, but really matters to me.

(And oeufs à la neige had been turned into something that made no sense at all in the e-edition, at least.  So that is also now correct.)

It was interesting to read PA, which I hadn’t read since I proofed it for publication.  I think my taste in prose has become more spare, at least in the simile/metaphor department.  There were times when I thought to myself, this is verging on florid, but I usually left the prose as written.  However there was one particular simile, something like “thoughts in his head streaked wildly like chickens at a weasel invasion” that stopped me cold.  As it was in the middle of a dead serious scene, I was like, yeah, time to wield the mighty delete button here.

I also corrected for a few Americanisms that I hadn’t known about then, a couple of minor research errors, some conversion-related punctuation errors and word breaks and that’s pretty much it.  Not sure about the exact dates they will be released into the wild, but I think definitely before the release of BEGUILING THE BEAUTY in May.

5) I will be speaking at quite a few RWA chapters this year, starting with a keynote gig at the Connecticut Fiction Fest in May, then on the the San Francisco Chapter in June, the National Conference in Anaheim in July, to which I’ll bring my new subtext workshop, the Orange County Chapter in August, North Texas Chapter in Forth Worth, TX and the Buns & Roses event in Richardson, TX both in October, and to round it out, a daylong gig at the West Houston Chapter in November.  Dates and whatnot are on the front page of my website.

6) Foreign Covers

There is no escaping them!  😀

First up, German re-release of Delicious.

Now, Indonesian Delicious.

I am happy any time there is food on a Delicious cover and here is food aplenty.

 

Happy New Year

I’d first published this post on January 10, only to discover as I was updating the sidebars that the excerpts that ‘d loaded to my website had disappeared during the server migration earlier that day–long story that began with a hacker attack on my host server right after the new year.  So I had to pull the post.  If it showed up at Goodreads or in your feed, my apologies.  I should have checked first whether the excerpts were still up, and failing that, I should have had back-ups that would enable me to quickly reload, so I didn’t have to wait until I had a three-hour window of time to recreate the pages.  Lesson learned.

Phew, am I glad to have the blog back.

You’d think, given how casually I neglect this blog, that I wouldn’t even notice if it went down for a week or ten days.  And you’d be right.  But ironically, the hacker attack on my host server that started the year happened to coincide with me turning in a couple of manuscripts and wanting to say a thing or two about them.

The folks at Janus Portal have been working around the clock.  Today they asked me to change my name server in my domain registry.  And finally the blog is back–and let’s hope it stays back.

You might have seen the cover for my July release, Ravishing the Heiress.  In case you haven’t yet, here it is, in all its purple glory.

I like the cover, but more significantly, I love the story.  When I started working on the trilogy, I was still bombed out from HIS AT NIGHT and didn’t know whether I had anything historical left in me.  I’m happy to report that working on the trilogy has totally rejuvenated me.

I think of the three books of the trilogy as the appetizer book, the main course book, and the dessert book.  Rest assured each of them function perfectly as stand-alones, but together they form a three-course spread.   The appetizer book and the dessert book are of course, slightly lighter in character.  But the main course book is as angsty as anything I’ve ever written–and answers the question I’ve been asking myself, namely, can I write a book in which the hero and the heroine are always nice to each other?  (Cuz you know how I love to have them rip each other apart.)  And the answer is yes, the leads can be absolutely lovely to each other and the story can still rip your–I mean, my–guts out.  As a result, RAVISHING THE HEIRESS currently holds the position of my personal favorite among not just the trilogy, but all my romances.

Your mileage, of course, will vary.  I’m just reporting mine. 🙂

Excerpts for both BEGUILING THE BEAUTY and RAVISHING THE HEIRESS are up at my website.

Now I must return to work on TEMPTING THE HEIRESS, which is due on February 1.  Happy New Year!

Covers Galore

Note: The blurb for Beguiling the Beauty has been fixed.

I keep cover pictures that I haven’t yet posted to all possible venues on my laptop desktop.  And for some reason, although every horizontal surface in my house is covered with stuff and I am usually blithely unaware of the clutter, I am very, very neat electronically.  I rarely allow my email inboxes to contain more than 15 entries, and once the number of covers on my electronic desktop reaches a certain critical mass, well, here comes a post.  🙂

Two years ago, I did a post here called Red Dress-Off.  The idea came about as Meredith and I each had a book with a red dress on the cover coming out around the same time.  Guess what?  I’ve another red dress cover, for Beguiling the Beauty.

Blurb:

When the Duke of Lexington meets the mysterious Baroness von Seidlitz-Hardenberg aboard a transatlantic ocean liner, he is fascinated. She is exactly what he has been searching for—a beautiful woman who interests and entices him. He falls hard and fast—and soon proposes marriage.

And then she disappears without a trace…

For in reality, the “baroness” is Venetia Easterbrook—a proper young widow who had her own vengeful reasons for instigating an affair with the duke. But the plan has backfired. Venetia has fallen in love with the man she despised—and there’s no telling what might happen when she is finally unmasked…


Meredith does not have a red-dress cover coming out in 2012.  What she does have, however, is just as synchronicitous.

I wish I could find a bigger picture for At Your Pleasure.  (Meredith has kindly provided a large pic.)  But as you can see, these covers are totally twins separated at birth.  If only one of them were leaning the other way–they’d make a perfect set to display on the wall.

Blurb:

Glittering court socialites and underworld cutpurses agree: Adrian Ferrers, Earl of Rivenham, is the most dangerous man in London. Rivenham will let nothing—not the deepening shadow of war; not the growing darkness within him—interfere with his ambition to restore his family to its former glory. But when tasked by the king to uncover a traitor, he discovers a conspiracy—and a woman whose courage awakens terrible temptations. To save her is to risk everything. To love her might cost his life.

 

Lady Sarah Percy knows that Rivenham is the devil in beautiful disguise—and that the dark attraction between them is as dangerous as the nightmare in which her family is trapped. But when war breaks out, she has no choice but to place her trust in her dearest enemy—and hope that love does not become the weapon that destroys them both…

 

Now a bunch of foreign covers.

First up, The Duke of Shadows in complex Chinese.  Is that not a gorgeous cover?  Somehow it escaped my detection during the Duran foreign covers omnibus hunt.  I can excuse myself for that oversight, since Meredith herself didn’t know this edition existed.  The title in Chinese is less The Duke of Shadows, but more The Duke of Illusions.

Vietnamese Private Arrangements. I am again labeled as a New York Times bestselling author. Well, if you say if often enough… 🙂 (Update: Finally got around to Google Translate.  The title in Vietnamese is Covenant of Destiny, which is totally awesome.  Might be my favorite title, foreign or domestic.)

French His at Night. Title translates to The One I’ve Been Waiting For, which I like very much.

And last, but not at all the least, comes Slovene Not Quite a Husband.  I’m not sure what’s going on with the hands, but once I realized that the dress was see through, I couldn’t pay attention to the hands at all.  Am I witnessing a miraculous piece of Brazilian waxing? 🙂

 

Meredith Duran Foreign Covers Omnibus Edition

The idea struck one morning.  I was on Meredith’s website, looking at her news.  She mentioned various foreign rights sales, and I was like, “But where are the covers?”

It’s not quite real until you have covers.

So I decided to hunt down as many of her covers as I can and post them here.

Let’s go with the French covers first.

Bound by Your Touch. French title: Last Hope

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Recipe Post: Light and Fluffy Pancakes

FYI/Reminder: All my ebooks are still on special promotion at $3.99 at AmazonBN.comKobo.comGoogle Books,Sony Reader Store, and Apple bookstore.

~~~~~~

This is not my own recipe.  It is from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition with 1,000 Recipes by the editors of America’s Test Kitchen and it is pretty darn perfect.

Here’s what you need.

2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

(What I often do is I take quadruple the above listed quantity of ingredients, stir them together in a big mixing bowl, and then store it in an airtight canister.

Like that.  Voila, homemade pancake mix.  Saves a lot of measuring down the road.)

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The RITA Speech

The what, you ask?  Oh, that.  But that was ages ago, you say.  Well, last year I wrote a post called “Summer Omnibus Update” in October.  Seasonality is not my best trait.  🙂

You can’t really see me but if you set your audio to maximum, you can hear the speech pretty well.

 

 

See, you don’t need to speak English all that well to write okay in it.  🙂  (A long time ago, Bettie Sharpe confessed that before she first heard me, she’d imagined I spoke with a smoky voice, kind of like an expat in a French cafe. Darn it. I think I should too.)

My gratitude goes to my RWA roommie Kristyne Raley, for taking the video and then transferring it to a USB stick for me.  (Btw, Kristyne, your USB stick is so fancy it took me a minute to realize it has two ends!  Hmm, did I just reveal again how much of a Luddite I am?)

Since we are it, a couple more foreign covers.  Up first, Slovene HIS AT NIGHT.  The cover model is awfully pretty, but I’d always pictured Elissande a bit fuller–both in the face and in the bosom.  🙂

And now, the upcoming German reissue of PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS.  From what I understand, Cora Verlag (Harlequin Germany) first distributes their titles to train stations and other such convenience spots.  And then later a book might get repackaged for the bookstores.  So here is the repackaging and I’m very excited to have my first leads-lying-down-together cover.

That’s all, folks.  For now.

An Interview with Bettie Sharpe

Guess who has a new novella out?  Bettie Sharpe, one of my favorite writers.  Bettie burst onto the scene in 2008, with Ember, a retelling of the Cinderella story. And what a retelling. The story was posted in ten weekly installments, and readers were counting the days until the next installment.

She publishes infrequently.  So a new release from her is always a cause for celebration.  I did a little interview with Bettie for my newsletter and thought I’d post it here also.

Cat’s Tale

Ember

Once upon a time there was a scheming, lying tart who cared for nothing but her own pleasures and her shoe collection.

Once the peerlessly beautiful Lady Catriona, consort to the king, Cat’s fortunes fall far when her aged husband dies. The king’s wizard turns her into a cat and tries to drown her in the mill pond. Fortunately Cat is a clever survivor and enlists the help of Julian, the miller’s youngest son, in her plan for revenge.

She originally sees Julian as a mere pawn for her plans to break her curse, but as they work together Cat comes to know and care for him. Even if the curse can be broken, can a good-hearted man love a woman who has been as vain and selfish as Cat?

A Few Answers from Bettie Sharpe

Bettie Sharpe Signature

Bettie Sharpe is a Los Angeles native with a fondness for hot weather, classic cars, and air so thick it sticks in your teeth. When she’s not busy attempting to metabolize smog into oxygen, she enjoys romance novels, action movies, comic books, video games, and every other entertainment product her teachers said would rot her brain. She loves to write almost as much as she loves to read. As a child, she dreamed of seeing her name in shiny gold cursive on the cover of a luridly titled paperback book.

Bettie and her husband share their house with two cats, numerous computers, and the possum in their palm tree.

Three out of the four stories I’ve read of yours (Ember, Cat’s Tale, and the retelling of The Little Mermaid in the upcoming Agony/Ecstasy Anthology) are reworked fairy tales. Holy-$%!# reworked fairy tales if I may add. What draws you to these classics?

Cat's Tale

I grew up reading the gory old versions of fairy tales, and was always kind of appalled at the Disney versions (even though I do adore some of the later Disney fairy tale movies like Beauty and the Beast and The Princess and the Frog). The cool thing about fairy tales is that these stories were told again and again as folk tales before they were codified in print, and every author who has ever told these tales aloud or in writing has put their own spin on them. It’s what you’re supposed to do with them. Also, it’s really fun to twist and
reshape familiar elements into something new or different.

Are there any fairy tales you look at and say, nope, not interested? If so, why not?

Like a Thief in the Night

Beauty and the Beast. It’s one of my favorite fairy tales, but there are already so many great retellings–Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Robin McKinley (twice!), and all of the many, many romance novels that use variations on the theme. There are already more than a dozen versions
of the tale that I adore. I’m not really sure I could bring anything new to it.

If I’d been asked to answer this question a year ago, I might also have said that I didn’t care for fairy tales that ended tragically, but then I wrote “Each Step Sublime,” my retelling of The Little Mermaid that will be part Jane Litte’s Agony/Ecstasy Anthology, and I had a blast giving those characters an appropriate happy ending. So I guess my main criteria for retelling a story is
just whether I think I can do anything different with it.

You are known for your bad-ass heroines–and when I say bad-ass, I mean BAD-ASS. Yet you in person are a complete lady from top to bottom. Where do your uncompromising heroines come from?

Agony/Ecstasy

Writers tend to be introspective and thinky. Sometimes it’s fun to get out of your own mind and step into the thoughts of someone completely different from you–someone with different morals, different values, different capabilities. While some of my characters’ traits are exaggerated versions of aspects of my own personality (Cat’s obsession with clothes and shoes springs to mind), other traits are the complete opposite.

Also, with the fairy tale retellings, the plot is predetermined. I have to create characters who would logically act and react to plot developments in ways that drive the plot to its proper ending.

I find your heroines exhilarating to read. Why do you suppose I–and other readers like me–get such a kick out of badass girls being badass?

Ember

Probably for the same reason I get a kick out of writing them–they’re fun! My favorite quote on the subject of badassery is from Neal Stephenson’s book, Snow Crash:

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer has to worry about trying to be the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken….Which is okay. Sometimes it’s all right just to be a little bad. To know your limitations. Make do with what you’ve got.

I like to read and write about badass heroines, but I don’t think I’d ever want to be one–it seems like a lot of effort. I follow the Hiro Protagonist Philosophy on Badassery– it’s good to be a little badass. In fact, it’s probably best. But seeing a true badass, or reading or writing about a really fun fictional badass, is always liberating.

Last, but not least, what are you working on now and when can we have the pleasuring of reading it?

I have plenty of projects, but the one I’ve been writing the most on is another fairy tale retelling based on a comparatively obscure story about a princess cursed with perfect ugliness. After the heroine of Cat’s Tale, who was beautiful and quite enamored of her own looks and the advantages they grant her, I thought it might be fun to write an ugly heroine. I can promise you now, she does not whine or wallow in self-pity.

I’m not sure when I’ll be finished, or even whether it will be another novella or –gasp!– a novel. It’s running a little long for a novella right now, and I’m nowhere near the end.

Be still my heart! Thank you, Bettie.

If you haven’t tried Bettie yet, you can read Ember free online at Bettie’s website or buy it for your e-reader for
only $0.99.  And then it’s only three bucks for Cat’s Tale!  What are you waiting for?

New York, New York

Caution: Long blog post coming up. Image-heavy too.  And I apologize in advance for my camera’s totally inaccurate time stamps.

1. Pre-Departure

Everywhere I look, I see authors with other artistic talents.  They can paint, draw, sew, knit, quilt, garden, graphic design, compose, play instruments, and whatnot.  I play casual games and have nothing to show for it.  (Well,  lots of good memories with the kidlets but His Hawtness and I debate on whether that constitute as quality time.   I say yes. *g*)

But ever since the shea butter episode, I’ve developed an obsession with hand-making beauty products.  Not for myself, but as promo items.  For RWA Orlando I did bath bombs.  Facial scrubs for New Jersey RWA’s conference and RT Los Angeles.  In between I also made solid lotion bars as belated Christmas presents.

By the beginning of the year I’d already decided to make lip butters for RWA.  I’d really, really hoped that by June I’d have a cover for the first book in my 2012 trilogy, but since the release is still 11 months out, no.  All the same, my enthusiasm remained undimmed.  I love giving away good swag.  I love doing repetitive chores, especially fresh from deadlines.

Here’s the lip butter chronicle, for Janine especially, starting with empty jars.

And now they are being filled. 

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Two Weeks To Go Before RWA Nationals

Where did the time go?  Granted, RWA hits a month earlier this year, but still, wow.  Time to start packing.

I’m happy to report that Book 1 & 2 of the new trilogy have both been delivered to my new editor at Berkley.  On time.  The books are not bad, by the standards of my first drafts.  But still, I’m already thinking of improvements, connections, and deeper layerings to add to them, when they come back from my editor.  Now onto the updates.

1) Three-Chapter Critique from Yours Truly

On the 13th of June my Crit for Water critique goes up for auction here.  If you need three chapters looked at, by all means bid.  It’s an excellent cause and I am a terrific critiquer.  (You didn’t expect me to say anything else on the eve of the auction, did you? :-P)

And Mary Baader Kaley at Not an Editor was kind enough to interview me about my approach to critiquing.  But basically, I’m a good fit for you if you really need your work looked at by a pair of fresh eyes and you actually want to know what’s not working.  I will tell you what’s working for me too, but I assume that you, like me, are more interested in what can be improved than what cannot be.

2) Don’t Judge a Girl by Her Face

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