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When I wrote the Willow Park Romance series, I no longer needed to know how many miles a bullock cart could travel in one day or who occupied the English throne. Having written mainly medieval historical before this, contemporary romance brought a whole new set of challenges. The settings and everyday details of contemporary were familiar. The challenge lay in writing stories modern women could relate to. For the reader to feel as if they knew the heroine.
I joined that boisterous male chorus chanting: “Who can understand women?”
It took me back to when I was still at university. A very good friend of mine wrote her thesis for her Italian Literature honors degree on the romance novel. These were the days when we used to drive down to the second-hand bookstore, load up on romance novels by the grocery bag, then hide them under our beds from our literary snob mothers. Secret night binge reading with ice cream and cheap wine commenced.
Back to the thesis. Phlée (a nickname, don’t ask) shocked and intrigued her literary professors with her subject matter. Writing the entire thing in Italian, Phlée used the romance novel as a mirror for the emancipation of women. Her argument was that as women’s role in society changed, this was reflected in romance novels. The idea has stuck with me, and some twenty-something years later, it made me want to reflect the lives of the women I knew in the books I wrote.
When I first got hooked on the novels of the late Dame Barbara Cartland, the heroines were all shy, definitely virginal, much younger than the hero, and if they worked, it was ‘gentle’ occupation—nanny, companion, housekeeper. The hero was often ‘greying’ at the temples, very wealthy, domineering and would swoop in and rescue her from her ‘fate’.
So, let’s jump forward to where we are now. As women have entered all parts of the workplace, so have their heroines. As women have demanded to be treated as equals, so have their heroines. We have heroines earning more money than their hero, women competing and often winning in contests of strength, skill, and will. And gasp women taking control of their sexuality.
The heroes have had a similar metamorphosis from rigid, controlling cartoon cutouts, to heroes with real flaws, wicked senses of humor, and despite all their alpha blustering, a warm gooey center that draws the reader in. Read More
Slap her silly, but she was done! Annabelle McKenzie strode down the wooden sidewalk on her way to the bank. Done with raising chickens, feeding cows and goats, and shoveling manure. She wanted to go with her sisters to hunt for bad men. She wanted to be a bounty hunter.
Deep in thought about how she would explain to her sisters how she craved adventure and longed for excitement, she rounded the corner to enter the bank and slammed into the hard chest muscles of a large dark-haired man. The scent of soap and campfire spiraled straight to her center.
This was a manly man, and Lord knew, they were scarce in Zenith, Texas. Where had this specimen come from?
His hat was pulled low over his face, and he grabbed her by the arms, halting her progress. Her head fit just below his chin. She looked up at his strong, rugged jaw and serious face.
Long black lashes blinked over emerald eyes as he gripped her arms. “Slow down,” he said in a deep husky drawl. He kept his head down, barely looking at her. “There’s still plenty of cash left in the bank.”
What a condescending, egotistical, handsome renegade. Not an “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me”, but rather a crass remark about the money in the bank. “Maybe you should watch where you’re going.”
She tilted her head and stared into his handsome rugged features. There was something about him that seemed familiar, yet she couldn’t place him. Somewhere she’d seen his face. She gazed at him. “You’re tall enough you should be able to see a woman coming.”
He nodded, and she gawked at the way his shirt fit his strong shoulders and muscled arms. His lips were full and tempting, made for kissing.
“You’re right, ma’am. I should see a small package like you, barreling around a blind corner. Maybe I need to replace my spectacles with a pair that can see through walls,” he said, releasing her arms. Read More
Q: What is the overarching theme of A Love Like Ours?
Finding hope. The hero of the novel, Jake Porter, is a former Marine who now works as a Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. It’s been eight years since Jake returned home from his final tour in Iraq, and he’s still struggling with PTSD. A Love Like Ours is about rediscovering hope that once was lost.
Q: What motivated you to write about a hero who’s a military veteran?
I’m extremely grateful to our veterans for their service. I cast Jake as my hero because I was moved by news stories I’ve seen and read throughout the years about service men and women who were injured overseas and returned to the States with physical injuries and/or disorders like PTSD.
I’m particularly excited about the release of A Love Like Ours because I’ll be giving a portion of my earnings on the novel’s first two weeks of sales to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, a wonderful organization that provides therapy for both physical and mental health conditions.
Q: It sounds like the book deals with some serious topics. How would you describe its overall tone?
While A Love Like Ours does deal with some serious topics, I’d describe the story’s tone as optimistic, heartwarming, humorous, modern, and romantic. Jake’s a brooding hero, so I made sure to match him with a spunky, upbeat heroine. Read More
A long while ago, I was stuck in a creative black hole. Writing sucked, I had no new ideas, my career was over, I was fat and pimply and blah blah blah. In a fit of despair, I decided that I would go back to physical exercise to help myself out. Guess what I did.
A. Bought a treaddesk (desk perched over a walking treadmill) and walked the equivalent of three times around the earth.
B. Bought an elliptical machine (halfway between a treadmill and a stair stepper. You step in an ellipse.) Then I ate a cheesecake because I couldn’t handle walking in an ellipse.
C. Started jogging and set myself on fire from my thighs rubbing together.
D. Went back to racquetball and signed up for the US Open.
Answer: D. Yes, I play a lot of racquetball and I’m pretty good at it. In fact, a long time ago I was a pro racquetball player. I thought I’d reclaim my old glory by competing again in my age division. But for those who guessed one of the others, I do have a treaddesk. In fact, I’m walking and writing on it now. And I’m only a little bloody from falling off it. My husband bought the elliptical which he uses while watching the news. I eat cheesecake while watching him. And jogging? That’s just crazy talk!
How did it go?
A. I won, got onto the US Racquetball team, and am now buried in gold medals!
B. I was laughed off the court and had to hide in shame.
C. I watched a man have a heart attack on the court and decided some things aren’t worth the risk. Even racquetball glory.
D. I was doing fine until my knees blew in my second-to-last match.
Answer: D. I won a few matches (yeah), but each day was harder and harder as my knees started locking up. Good thing there were two Ace cold packs given to every player in the welcome bag. Sadly, no amount of ibuprofen or ice could have saved me by day 4. My knees had swollen up too much. I did not watch a man have a heart attack. Gah! Hopefully this has never, ever happened on the court. Read More
I have always been a reader AND a writer. I started writing when I was about 8, but I didn’t finish a book until I was 17.
I tend to “binge” anything I like to do. So I will go through long periods of JUST writing, where I don’t even think about any books but my own.
Or get frustrated with myself because I “missed out” reading a new release from one of my fave authors because I just had to finish the book I was writing. (Which in most cases, I really DID have to finish writing that book.)
Reading has always been the same for me. When I am having a streak, I can read 4-5 books a week. If I like an author, I often get all their books and read them back to back. I need to catch up. Of course, that means I usually have a huge book hangover, especially if I’m reading series. Because there’s no helping “the wait” for the next book in the series.
It’s harder for me to read AND write at the same time, but I find it makes me happier when I do. When I do one and not the other, I MISS the other. And I find when I don’t write it’s worse than when I don’t read. I get grumpy.
So what works best for me is writing daily, then making myself see the reading as a “reward” for the work I got done. Sometimes it works fabulously. Read More
He teased at the seam of her mouth with the tip of his tongue and she brazenly parted her lips to give him entrance. He swept inside, taking possession and teasing her with the need for more at the same time.
He kept the caress of his tongue light, barely there.
She pressed up against him, wanting more contact, but he dropped one hand to her hip and held her in place.
Frustration overrode pleasure and she pulled away from the kiss. “Why are you teasing me?”
“You want more, wildcat?”
He dropped both hands away from her and stepped back, his expression firm. “Eat the lunch I make you.”
“You want me to eat?” She didn’t understand.
“That’s the deal, Kitty. You eat and I’ll rock your world.” Read More
Jason is the kind of man that makes women drool as they pour over the latest tabloids to find out what he’s up to. In “Julia’s Star” the lifestyles of the rich and famous meet small-town girl. In case you’re wondering, culture shock sets in as the two work to find a way to meld their two worlds into one satisfying whole. Thankfully, Jason MacKenzie, is a man of many layers – sex appeal by the boat load, money and fame galore but also a soft spot for a sexy widow and her three amazing children who live in rural California. Instead of me extoling his virtues, let’s let Jason answer some of our questions in his own words:
Age: 38 – old enough to have learned the hard way it’s a bad idea to hook up with a woman who is not right for me.
Physical Description: A woman’s pirate-fantasy come to life. Think Errol Flynn only better looking, my face more chiseled and hot, six-pack abs – so far women haven’t had any complaints about my appearance.
People’s First Impression of You: Playboy all the way and out of their league – but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Guys want to be me and women throw themselves at me. I’m just a man who puts his pants on one leg at a time like everyone else.
Likes: I love my job, can’t wait for the next great script, spending time with my family – even my quirky Mom who can’t understand why I’m not married and giving her grandchildren – and yes someday I’d like to give her those grandkids. Oh, and before I forget, I love the fact that I can pick and choose my parts now that I’m considered a ‘somebody.’ Read More
Valan Eirikson’s death is imminent unless he finds a compatible female to cool the mating fever that plagues the Zarronian warriors and is burning out of control in his body.
Lia ad-San’s sire agreed to trade her to a Wrothian warrior she despises. Before she can escape she’s abducted by a fierce Zarronian warrior. Unaware that her sire caused the deaths of the Zarronian females, including Valan’s mother and twin sister, she reveals her identity and demands to be freed
Enraged to be bonded to the daughter of his most hated enemy, Valan treats Lia as a prisoner rather than a beloved bondmate. When his warriors learn her identity they demand she be punished for her sire’s war crimes.
I was born at the birthplace of time. I have no clear memory of my beginning only that I was and I am. I am a soulless one. My kind have no soul thus feel no emotion. Not hate not love nor even heat or cold. But we do have a driving need to feel.
I seek above all else this compulsion to fill that void deep inside where a soul should reside with emotion. For when I do, for a brief moment, I can feel what another does. I travel the earth searching for depression, my emotion of choice. With but a kiss I drain depression from unsuspecting humans. But I do not kill them or harm them in any way.
There is no need.
However, some soulless choose to feed off other types of energies, such as fear, even death and in other less benign ways. They kill those they feed from. I am not one such. But there are humans who are aware of our existence and they hunt us…all of my kind.
Not differentiating from those who kill and those who don’t. And they know how to destroy us.
So while I sate my blinding hunger it is never quite satisfied…until Samuel. The leader of those who hunt my kind. For the first time in my consciousness I feel when I am with him, my own emotions not just stolen from him. So I cannot stay away. Even when it means his death or my own. Read More
You became a writer by accident. Could you talk a bit about that?
I had never thought about becoming a writer until I met my future husband, L.J. Martin, who had written an historical western novel I loved. I was helping him work on the editing, not his strong suit--grammar, spelling, the basics. The more I dabbled, the more I thought maybe I could write a book. I had always had a lot of stories in my head and I also read a lot. The next thing I knew, I was writing my own novel. Magnificent Passage was my first book. Since then I have written more than sixty novels.
Which of your characters would you like to meet in person? Why?
One I would definitely want to meet is Rafe Brodie, the hero of my new book, AGAINST THE TIDE. Rafe is smart, rugged, and savvy. Plus he is gorgeous! Another of my favorite characters is Chance McLain from The Secret, a hunky Montana cowboy. I think you can guess the reason I’d like to meet him (grin). I like my heroine Olivia Chandler, also in TIDE. She’s one of the smartest women I’ve written. Liv really has her stuff together.
What is the one thing about you that people would be most surprised to know?
I’m a hermit. Unless we are traveling I pretty much stay home and write. Read More
RomCon® 2015- Romance Fan Convention
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