Monday, August 3, 2009

Chat with the authors of Real Men Last ALL Night

My guests today, are three special and talented ladies. Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, and Heidi Betts. I’ve read and enjoyed their books. Each write wonderful books but they also have written an anthology, along with Lora Leigh, Real Men Last All Night. The title made me laugh because it sounds like something said among women. The cover is oh-la-la.

I’ve never written an anthology, although I’ve read many. A couple of my favorites were when the authors wrote connected stories, shared characters, and related plots. Not all anthologies do that. Some are merely themes where the authors contribute a story.

I had the opportunity to chat with Lori, Chey and Heidi about their anthology and what we can expect from them in the future. Being the curious person I am, I had several questions, which they were gracious enough to answer. And we also get a peek at the covers of their next releases and a bit about the book.

  • Many don’t have a clue as to how anthologies comes about. Could you share a bit about the process? How you get the assignment. Do you get to choose the authors you work with? Or are you just assigned a theme to work with?

Lori: For “Real Men,” my story is a reissued story written long ago. St. Martin’s owns 2 novellas from me, and they can pretty much do whatever they want with them. My story is “Luring Lucy,” originally published in the “Hot and Bothered” anthology.

In most anthologies, though, even with new stories, the publisher is the one who decides the authors who will be involved. Each individual author is made a contract offer for the story she’ll contribute.

Heidi: There are some multi-author anthologies that have intertwined stories & plots, but in the case of REAL MEN LAST ALL NIGHT, it was simply a matter of the editor calling & inviting us all to participate. We were pretty much given free rein over our stories, too, being told only that they wanted very strong, Alpha heroes & super-sexy love scenes...but plot & setting & everything else was left to the individual author, as far as I know. I don't think authors are given a choice of who they're going to work with very often when it comes to anthologies, but in this instance I can honestly say that I couldn't have gotten any luckier if I *had* been able to hand-pick my antho-mates. :-D

Chey: Thank you for having me, Sia! In our case, we were just given a theme, which needed to be contemporary and erotic. Sometimes authors do work together in an anthology, but must of the time the publisher provides a theme and we each run with it.

Lori: In MOST cases, the authors do not work together on their stories. They’re simply given a theme – such as a holiday or season theme. Then each author writes her story individually and turns it into the publisher.

  • Each of you writes romance. I know a couple of you write in the para subgenre, like Chey and Lori. Is Real Men Last All Night, strictly contemporary romance?

Lori: My story is straight contemporary romance.

Heidi: Short answer? Yes. :-)

Chey: I now write suspense with romantic elements and urban fantasy with romantic elements. My urban fantasy is called the "Night Tracker" novels I do have a romantic suspense series also. In the past I wrote only urban paranormal romance and romantic suspense. My piece in RMLAN is romantic suspense, loosely tied to my suspense series, the "Lexi Steele" novels.

  • Did you know the Title of this anthology would be called Real Men Last All Night? What was the most fun part of writing this anthology?

Lori: Um... yeah. I was told early on what the title would be. Gotta say I’m not crazy about it. LOL. It’s too over the top for my tastes. That said, I’m honored to be in an anthology with the other talented authors. Since my story isn’t new, I can’t really speak on writing for the anthology – but I can say that, through the anthology, I got to know Heidi Betts better and I like her very, very much!

Heidi: Actually, it was originally supposed to be called "I Need a Real Man," but I like REAL MEN LAST ALL NIGHT much, much better, don't you? ;-)

Chey: The title changed a couple of times, but we knew what the theme was! The most fun for me was the two characters. The heroine, Willow, is one of my favorite heroines ever. She was so much fun to write, but truly just wrote herself. I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters, too.

Heidi: The thing that I enjoyed most about writing my novella for this anthology was being able to stretch my writing wings & step out of my comfort zone a bit. I've written passionate, sensual stories for Silhouette Desire & my "Chicks with Sticks" knitting trilogy for St. Martin's Press is very sexy, but also very *funny* it was nice to do something a bit more serious, to do a law enforcement hero with an edge, etc.

  • Each of you writes some pretty hot and sexy stories. How do you define sexy? Is it the way a person moves or acts, his eyes, the way he talks, or perhaps his humor?
Lori: For me, it’s the connection between the hero and heroine. It’s the attention they give to one another, the small things they notice and how they react to each other. The story can be explicit or not, but when that sexual chemistry is there, it’s there!
Heidi: I suspect that the definition of sexy is probably different for everyone. Personally, I find a guy who loves animals & babies pretty irresistible. A man who doesn't mind playing Mr. Fix-it so I don't have to call in reinforcements is nice. A good sense of humor is definitely a plus. And I never complain about strong biceps & rock hard abs. *g*
Chey: Sexy depends on the story and the characters. They have their own personalities and dynamics. I don't force the sex, it needs to come naturally and the way these two characters would come together.

  • I know each of you have a new book due out this month. Could you tell us a little bit about the premise and the characters? And when can I buy it?
Lori: For August, I have two new novellas in “OUT OF THE LIGHT, INTO THE SHADOW.” The idea is that Erin McCarthy and I each have written a straight contemporary romance novella (mine as Lori Foster) that ties in with a darker, edgier paranormal romance novella (mine as L.L.Foster.) Each story is a romance, but with different tones to show how we write in each style.

My two novellas are connected by siblings. The straight contemporary is Mercy Jardine’s story, and the darker paranormal is about her brother, Brax Jardine. Both are, imo, very sexy, but I hope they’re also fun and romantic. You can read excerpts or see video trailers at

Heidi: I am *very* excited about my August release, LOVES ME, LOVES ME KNOT. It's the second book in my "Chicks with Sticks" knitting romance trilogy & revisits the relationship between Gage Marshall & Jenna Langan from TANGLED UP IN LOVE.

Chey: THE SECOND BETRAYAL comes out Tuesday, August 4th.
As an undercover agent for the NSA’s Recovery Enforcement Division, Alexi Steele is no stranger to the ways and means of the country’s most notorious sex criminals. Still, she’s never seen anything quite like this. Girls from across the globe are being recruited for a modeling competition in New York City, only to end up as enslaved prostitutes. Now it’s up to Lexi and her partner—and lover—Nicholas Donovan to infiltrate the operation.

Finding the mastermind behind the sex trafficking is only one half of the challenge. The other is Nick. Even though she has always trusted him, Lexi can’t help but wonder whether he’s keeping something from her—a shocking secret from his past on the Special Forces unit. Meanwhile, time is running out for the victims…and Lexi may be forced to do the unthinkable to see that the job is done.

  • Finally, you’re all accomplished and well-read authors. What advice you would offer an aspiring author today?
Lori: First, write what you enjoy writing. Your enthusiasm will show through and win over readers. Trying to follow a trend that you aren’t into rarely works. Second, remember that this is a mega-harsh biz. No matter how good you might be or how hard you try, the variety of responses will vary, and will not always be favorable. There will be brutal reviews, snarky commentators, and candid readers. Don’t ever let it get to you too much. It’s all part and parcel of the industry and no one is immune to the criticism.

Heidi: This soon after National, I'm not sure I have any lucid advice to offer. I guess I would have to say that aspiring writers should be really sure they actually want a career in writing, because it's not nearly as glamorous on this side of things as it might seem. (It's a job, just like any other, with ups & downs & plenty of hard work. :-P) Aside from that, I recommend that people really study the genre they're interested in & hone their craft as much as possible.

Chey: Learn the craft by reading books on writing and attending workshops either online or in person and join writing groups relating to your genre. Read everything you can in the genre you want to write in. When writing your book, don't go back and self-edit, continue to write until you reach "the end"--you can't fix something that isn't written! There will be things you want to change on the way, but just notate them--I put notes to myself in the doc as I go and then I go back and fix or insert things when I'm done. Do something writing related every single day to get in the habit, no matter how small it is. It will get you into such a good habit of writing that it will become easier and easier. Most importantly, never give up on your dream.
  • Lori, I loved My Man Michael. When is your next single title romance out, and what’s it about?
BACK IN BLACK will hit stands in February 2010. It’s another SBC fighter book, this time about Drew Black. BC president Drew Black is as controversial as they come. But the hot-headed entrepreneur is a perfect match for his popular sports club venture: uncompromising and extreme. Maybe too extreme. With a reputation for saying what he thinks, Drew's been causing a lot of friction. That's why someone's been called in to clean up his image—before he does any permanent damage.

The lucky lady is Gillian Noode, a PR expert who's smoothed out the rough edges on many a man. But Drew is rougher than anyone she's ever met, and he refuses to change for any woman, for any reason. To make matters more complicated, Gillian's starting to like him raw. Now, opposites aren't only attracting, they're igniting. But in the rising heat, which one of them will end up on top?

Drew was a lot of fun to write – I hope readers enjoy his story!
  • Ladies, thank you so much for visiting with us, Over Coffee and answering questions. I appreciate the hard work you do and taking time out of your busy schedules to be here!


~Sia McKye~ said...

I want to give a warm welcome to Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, and Heidi Betts.

Ladies, there's plenty of coffee and homemade goodies, so help yourselves.

It's such a pleasure to have you all here.

Terrie said...

got my coffee handy and cheers for all three ladies on great interviews.. I already got Heidi's new book , will read soon. I am looking forward to read this new one by three ladies's book.

Lori Foster said...

Thank you, Sia! I'm drinking my coffee now (still)and munching on a Little Debbie's brownie. LOL

Terrie, hi! Nice to "see" you here.


Stacy~ said...

Welcome ladies. My first time here but I like this place :)

I'm really excited about this book because Luring Lucy is an all-time favorite, and it also gives me a chance to try new authors. I hope it does really well.

Lori, looking back, if you HAD to write this story again, would there be anything you would change?

Heidi Betts said...

Good morning, all, & thanks for having us, Sia! I'm not sure I'm awake yet (I need some of that coffee!), but I am at least vertical. :-p

And yay on picking up LOVES ME already, Terrie--thanks so much! I hope you enjoy it!

Lori Foster said...

Hey Stacy,
Thanks for dropping by. That particular story was one that wrote itself. I remember starting and finishing it within days. Sometimes that happens. The characters just come alive for me and they run me through the process.
Plot wise, I can't imagine any changes.
Quality of writing... well yeah, I always wish I could go through my reissues again. With each book I think I become a better writer, and there are always little things I see that I wish I could correct.

Hope that makes sense!


Judi Fennell said...

Good morning, ladies!

Heidi - next up on my TBR is Tangled Up in Love which you signed for me in DC. Can't wait! Love the premise!

And I love the premise of this anthology. Must head to the bookstore soon... When the heck am I going to have the time to write??! :)

Cheyenne McCray said...

Good morning, everyone! I just woke up at 6:30 (I'm in AZ) and I've been trying to pry my eyelids open. Staying up until one a.m. is too much for me anymore. LOL.

But the coffee and pastries here are doing the trick and I'm waking right up. Thank you for having us, Sia. And this cream cheese Danish is fabulous! What bakery do you go to?

Kat Sheridan said...

Good morning, all! Sia makes the *best* coffee and breakfast! Here's the thing I like about anthologies. I may know an author or two in them, and buy it for their works, but invariably I run into an author I've never read before and find myself with the happy occurence of finding a new author I love! Heidi, I'm sorry, I've never read your stuff, (Lori and Cheyenne, I have bunches of your stuff), but now I'm going to enjoy reading Heidi's stuff! YAY!

I especially appreciated the advice to aspiring authors (thanks for thinking of us, Sia, and asking that question!)Ladies, thank you for being so generous with that advice. I've found romance writers to be among the kindest of folks, always willing to reach out to us newbies! OK, grabbing a cream cheese danish to munch on while I go look for fun new stuff to read!

Cheyenne McCray said...

Thanks so much, Kat, for reading my books! :o) I agree with you that romance writers are so great about sharing experiences and advice!

Aren't the cream cheese danishes to die for? The coffee has the best flavor, too.

Lori Foster said...

Kat, I love it when readers say, "I love your stuff." LOL. It always sounds so funny to me. But I think you'll LOVE Heidi's stuff.

Always happy to answer questions!


Heidi Betts said...

Hey, Judi! It was great to meet you in D.C.--was that the best conf. ever, or what? *g*--& I certainly hope you enjoy TANGLED. You'll have ot let me know. ;-)

Kat~ That's why *I* like anthos, too! I've discovered bunches of wonderful new authors that way! And don't apologize for not having read me before...I'm just happy you'll be trying me out now thanks to my stellar luck at being linked with the stellar talents of Lori & Chey & Lora. Let me know what you think, okay? :-D

Cheyenne McCray said...

We're lucky to be in the anthology with you, too, Heidi!

Did anyone mention that Real Men Last All Night was on the New York Times bestseller list for 2 weeks? Cool, eh?

Tonya Kappes said...

Thank you Sia for having such wonderful authors. Not only are they excellant at their craft, they also give back to their community! I love this about authors and paying forward. Lori has been so wonderful visiting my blog and wonderful in person.(love her books too!) I love Heidi's 'chicks with sticks'-I am so excited for loves me, loves me knot. I write the women's fiction/chick lit. Heidi-do you think chick lit is dead? I know...I know...agents want to market it with a different title, but when you strip away all the layers-it's still chick lit.
I know Lori has a few anthologies or books out with several different authors. The question was the first one asked, but I don't feel like it got the answer I am looking for. I am an aspiring writer and wanted to know how an anthology is decided. Is it the author's editor? The author's themself putting together a proposal? Agents getting together?

Cheyenne McCray said...

Hi, Tonya.

Putting an anthology together can come about five ways that I know of: 1. The editor/publisher picks out authors they would like to be in an anthology and they ask the authors. 2. An agent comes up with an idea for an anthology and works to gather the authors she/he thinks would be good, then proposes it to a publisher or publishers; 3. A big author works with a publisher on putting together a huge anthology that she/he edits. The author may come up with the idea or the publisher. 4. An individual known for putting together anthologies asks an author like the one in #3. I've been asked for 2 of those so that's why I'm familiar with it. 5. A group of authors will get together and propose an anthology to their agent or editor. Usually bigger name authors with someone who can be a headliner.

Hope that helps!


~Sia McKye~ said...

g'morning ladies. I'm thinking a coffee IV this morning, lol!

I know I learned quite a bit chatting with the three of you.

Funny about your comment on reissues. As a reader I see the progress authors make from their first book to now. For example, there were a few of Nora Roberts I hadn't read and put out by harlequin. Stories were good, even then you could see her distinctive spark,but boy when you compared them to what she was writing now, you could see the growth.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff, ladies. And the new books look wonderful. Heidi, the cover fairy was really good to you. That cover art rocks!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Chey, I've also noticed that bigger authors will be headliners and that helps a newer author build a readerbase too. I noticed that with Christine Feehan with CW Wilson and Margarie Lui.

I guess #3 begs the question, can an established author actually request to do that with a debut author she's taken under her wing?

~Sia McKye~ said...

I've been trying to get back here for over an hour. My first cup of coffee is still in the cup and cold. I have several contractors here and I've had to supervise. Sheesh. They're working on the trees downed in the tornado and rebuilding my barn.

Heidi Betts said...

Thank you, make me blush. But I'm totally the more lucky one & I know it. And I was so super-excited when REAL MEN hit the NYT. I guess it's not often that anthologies, let alone trade-size anthologies, hit, so it was a *big deal*. Whoo-hoo!

Hi, Tonya! Just checked out your blog & I love the concept...esp. all those hero profiles at the top! LOL Thanks so much for the kind words about the "Chicks with Sticks," too. I'm with Lori--nothing I like better than hearing someone say "I love your books!" :-D

Officially, yes, I think chick lit is dead. Unofficially, I'm a totally glass-half-full kind of gal, so I never like to say anything is dead--it just evolves into something else. I think the way we're used to thinking about chick lit has changed & is still in the process of change. Can you still tell the same types of stories, just maybe in a different way? Hell, yes. It's all about the writing & *how* you put the story together.

As for anthologies, Chey's answers are great, so I won't elaborate on that. What I will say is not to worry about or focus on the idea of anthos at all until you're pubbed & are a bit more established. After that, the offers will come. You can always let your agent or editor know you're interested in participating in anthos, but until your name is already out there & you've built up a bit of a reputation, they won't put you into one because no one will know who the heck you are. LOL

Cheyenne McCray said...

I think it has to be a very big author. Like the first one I was in was edited by Kim Harrison. It was "Hotter than Hell." I don't know that I can announce the second one. I think in this case, the big author can ask who she wants. Kim edited all of our stories and had approval on them. It was a neat experience.

Cheyenne McCray said...

Oh, that response was for Sia on #3!

Heidi Betts said...

Hi, Sheila, how great to "see" you over here. Hope everything's going great for you! The cover gods have been *very* good to me lately; have you seen the cover for KNOCK ME FOR A LOOP yet? It's up at my website & blogs now & it is *fabulous!* (You know, if I do say so myself. :p)

Heidi Betts said...

I agree with Chey--I think it *can* happen, but it has to be a big author & I don't think it happens very often.

And, hey, I was in HOTTER THAN HELL, too! I keep forgetting we were in an antho together once before, Chey! :-P

Kat Sheridan said...

Lori, I'm a member of COFW (under another name) and I think I have everything you've written, long before I ever considered trying it myself. And Chey, you're an inspiration, too. Yeah, to make it official, I love your stuff!

Cheyenne McCray said...

Thanks so much, Kat! :-)

That's cool, Heidi that you were in HTH. I forget, too!

I have to run off to a cafe to get 5 hours of writing in before I take my son to his private taekwondo lesson, and my two sons and I have taekwondo class this evening. So I'll be in and out as much as I can. I have to leave the house to get away from distractions in order to the internet and email! LOL.

Talk with you later!


~Sia McKye~ said...

Chey, happy writing. I know all about distractions.

Lori, Kat and I will be taking in a conference in September with COFW. Who knows, we may get to say hi in person.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Heidi, I've been noticing chick lit has changed. Still sassy women, independent women, plots are still romance but with a slightly different twist. Not everyone wants to read romantic suspense or paras. I think the contemporary, fun feel of what I've read lately is a good read. I'm not too fond of first person POV, but many don't have that.

How are you seeing 'chick lit' changing?

Dana Fredsti said...

What a fun interview, Sia and ladies! Not to say that you, SIa, are not also a lady.

Lori, I really liked your advice. I write for a publisher that's come under a lot of controversy and the level of snark/downright nastiness has been amazing to me. And not in a good way. I also really agree with not trying to follow a trend because it's popular. I've twisted myself up in knots trying to do just that and finally walked away without anything to show for it other than a migraine.

Marcia James said...

I love the cover for Real Men Last All Night. I look forward to reading the anthology!
-- Marcia James

Lori Foster said...

Hey all,
I was babysitting for a bit, so couldn't check in.

Most anthologies are done when the publisher decides on a theme and a group of authors. Usually one headliner, and then 2 or 3 authors they'd like to have added exposure. The editor contacts the agents of the authors, and the agents give the terms to the authors.

After an author reaches a certain level, she can indeed request other authors. As long as it works for the publisher and doesn't violent any contract clauses, the publisher will usually agree.

On the benefit anthologies that I organize (where all the author and agent proceeds go to a charity of my choice) I do get to pick all the authors myself. However, even though it says that I'm an editor on the book, I do NOT edit anyone's work. I leave that to real editors. LOL. I'm a writer, and have no interest in editing.
I think that's only stated since I chose the authors.

Happy Monday all! busy, busy day for me! LOL


Gia Dawn said...

Hello, Ladies. Major congratulations on your new release. And the cover is yummy!!


Heidi Betts said...

Boy, I second Lori's comment on this being a busy, busy day. In addition to gearing up for the release of LOVES ME, LOVES ME KNOT ***tomorrow*** :-DDD I just got a call asking if I want to be involved in a new continuity series for Silhouette Desire. Yay! I love those things. And the fact that I'm going to have to squeeze it in between two other books I barely had time to get written...well, we're going to pretend that isn't an issue, okay?

Also, not sure I was supposed to talk about the offer yet, so please do the Mission: Impossible thing---read this, then immediately gouge your eyes out & pretend you didn't. (Hey, if it were a handwritten note, I'd ask you to eat it, but the internet makes that a little more difficult. ;-))

~Sia McKye~ said...

Heidi, just remember delete is your friend. That's what that little trash can is at the end of your comment and the date. But congrats!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lori, thanks for the plug on the daily bulletin. :-)

Lori Foster said...

Wow, my son came to visit, and he sounded bad, and my grandson sounded bad, so I accompanied both out. Adult doc put my son on a z-pak, and then the pediatrician put my grandson on a z-pak. Oy! I feel so bad for both of them.
Now hubby and I are playing with the grandson while my son takes his kitty to the vet. LOL. Waiting to hear on that.
It's been a chaotic day. I opened my file, looked at it, and didn't get to write a single word!

The highlight of the anthology for me was getting to know Heidi. She was wonderful to me at National conference (helping me figure out the lay of the hotel) and we enjoyed a nice meal together. I love meeting new people who I like!

Sia, I hope to be at the COFW con. Still configuring schedule on that one. LOL. But it'd be terrific to meet you in person.

Chey... one of these days!


Donna MacMeans said...

Just wanted to drop in and say Hi - esp. to Heidi whom I haven't seen in forever! I love the title - I think this one might jump off the shelf. Well done ladies!


~Sia McKye~ said...

Oh, your poor babies, Lori and it doesn't matter how old they get, they're still our babies.

We'll figure it out Lori.

Heidi Betts said...

Holy cow, Lori, what's going on over there at Casa del Foster? Must be something in the water or the way the stars are lining up, cuz this has turned out to be one majorly crazy day. Hope everyone's feeling better soon. And you know, if you need a pet-sitter... ;-)

You are *so* sweet, btw. Getting to know you better was the highlight of both my antho experience *&* Nationals, which makes it amazing that you feel the same. Weee, we're twinkies again. LOL Let's just say I hope we can do it again very, very soon!

Hi, Donna! Gosh, you're right it has been ages. I think I may have seen you briefly in passing at RWA, but it was one of those "you were going up the escalator & I was going down" sort of things, & never the twain shall meet. :-p Hope we do run into each other & get the chance to chat soon, tho!

Cheyenne McCray said...

Hey there,

Just got home a bit ago and I have some time before we have taekwondo tonight. I have a deadline of 8/15 and I need to work the next 12 days straight... I fell short of my goal today, but I know I can meet my goals from here on out. :-)

One of these days I'll get to meet you, Lori & Heidi! I've met with Lora a couple of times at RT. I'd love to meet the rest of you, too!


Lori Foster said...

Chey, you and Heidi BOTH need to come to the Get Together one of these years. I promise we'd make you boht feel special... cuz, like, you are special. :-)

Sia, you too! Everyone should attend. LOL. It's a great time.

I'm off to watch the tivo of Entourage. Luv that show!

Hugs to all and thanks for the great time today.


~Sia McKye~ said...

I'm doing RT, but your gathering is usually close to that. I keep a watch on things. It would be fun.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lori, if your editor/publisher needs a reader to do a review, I'm your girl! lol! That goes for the rest of you too. I love those ARC copies. Just sayin'

Cheyenne McCray said...

Sounds like fun, Lori. I've heard your event is the best!

Thanks for having us here today, Sia!