Friday, December 3, 2010

Morning Coffee Dates with Friends

My guest is award winning women's fiction author, Marilyn Brant. I love that she could visit on a Friday.

I like stories that deal with issues, concerns and worries that face me as a woman and those issues are different than when I was a young and barely twenty something. I also enjoy humor and the ability to laugh at both myself and situations I face. As I've grown up, I find girlfriends are all the more precious. I need that commonality of shared experiences, laughter, and grounding that true friends give you (and their opinions)--whether you want it or not, lol!

So, as you can imagine, I like Marilyn's books and really enjoyed her article. I hope you will too.

I'm thrilled to be back visiting Sia and everyone here today! I was lucky enough to be here the first time after the release of my debut novel, According to Jane, but I'm especially excited to visit again this fall...on a Friday...and to get to discuss the subject of friends and relationships with you all Over Coffee. It's particularly fun for me because my second novel, called Friday Mornings at Nine, is about three women friends who get together once a week (bet you can guess which day -- LOL) over coffee (!!) to talk about their relationships. So, this is one of those cool 'virtual life' meets 'real life' meets 'writing life' kinds of moments!

Anyway, one of the reasons I wrote this novel was to explore the idea of What-If relationships, even for women who might be (or seem to be) happy with their current ones. The three women in my story are 40-something suburban moms who have all been married for a decade or two. They think they know what their friends' marriages are like but, it turns out, they have a lot to learn -- not only about each other, but about their spouses and themselves. Complicating matters are three other men (not these women's husbands!) whom my main characters are becoming increasingly more aware of and, at times, attracted to... Bridget admires the warmth and cooking skill of her boss, a dentist in the office where she works. Tamara is noticing the divorced (younger) neighbor guy down the street who works from home. And Jennifer has been reconnecting with her college ex-boyfriend via text message and email because he'd contacted her about an upcoming reunion. All of them begin to wonder -- in light of their attraction to these other people -- if they made the right decision in marrying the man they did.

In real life, I also meet my friends for coffee once every week or so and we, too, discuss our families, jobs and lives. Over the years, one of the things I've noticed is that my friends not only help me sort through whatever ups and downs might be going on somewhere in my world, but they've frequently provided a sounding board for any What-If relationship scenarios that may come up, including: old flames who suddenly resurface via Facebook (!!) or that really handsome fitness trainer at the gym or my longstanding obsession with Ryan Reynolds and his REALLY great abs. (C'mon, who here doesn't have a bit of a celebrity crush on him?!)

For me, I've found that hearing what my friends have to say during our coffee dates is incredibly valuable because it reaffirms that -- most of the time, at least -- what I'm experiencing is something normal. And listening to my friends talk about whatever issues they might be wrestling with in their lives is just as helpful. I learn a lot from them about how to handle situations I haven't yet encountered myself, or I simply get to know more about my friends' lives and beliefs and passions, which is fascinating. During this time of year I'm especially thankful for them...for always being there when I need them, for helping me stay grounded/calm in the face of good or bad news, and for always making our outings such fun!

  • What about you? Do you have a group of friends you get together with regularly? If so, where do you like to meet and what do you most enjoy talking about with them?

I'll draw one name randomly from all of the commenters below (on late Sunday night, 12/5) and give away a signed copy of Friday Mornings at Nine and an individual serving of Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend to one winner. Happy Holidays, everyone!!


Every woman remembers her firsts: Her first kiss. Her first lover. And her first time contemplating an affair...

Each Friday morning at the Indigo Moon Café, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara meet to swap stories about marriage, kids and work. But one day, spurred by recent e-mails from her college ex, Jennifer poses questions they've never faced before. What if they all married the wrong man? What if they're living the wrong life? And what would happen if, just once, they gave in to temptation...

Soon each woman is second-guessing the choices she's made--and the ones she can unmake--as she becomes aware of new opportunities around every corner, from attentive colleagues and sexy neighbors to flirtatious past lovers. And as fantasies blur with real life, Jennifer, Bridget and Tamara begin to realize how little they know about each other, their marriages and themselves, and how much there is to gain--and lose--when you step outside the rules. EXCERPT

Marilyn is the award-winning women's fiction author of ACCORDING TO JANE (2009), FRIDAY MORNINGS AT NINE (2010) and her upcoming novel, A SUMMER IN EUROPE (November 29, 2011), all from Kensington Books.

She received her M.A. in educational psychology from Loyola University Chicago, dabbled in both fiction and art at Northwestern University, studied the works of Austen at Oxford University and is an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her debut novel featuring "Jane" won the Romance Writers of America's prestigious Golden Heart® Award.

Marilyn has traveled to 45 states and over 30 countries (so far -- she's not done yet!), but she now lives in the Chicago suburbs with her family. When she isn't rereading Jane's books or enjoying the latest releases by her writer friends, she's working on her next novel, eating chocolate indiscriminately and hiding from the laundry.
Brandt Flakes, Marilyn's Blog

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NOT the Same Old Wolf Tale!

My guest is para romance author, Terry Spear.

For those of you who may have been visiting another part of the galaxy the past couple of years, Terry writes a wonderfully crafted werewolf romance series.

I’ve enjoyed reading her stories. I’m fascinated by the differences of each book and especially her characters. Each book brings in new characters while putting the existing werewolf characters into situations, which show who and what they are. Another side of them, if you will and highlighting their strengths, weaknesses, and shows more of their personalities.

Wolf Fever is the same. We are reintroduced to several werewolves met in other stories. They’re familiar yet they aren’t because we see them in a different set of circumstances and different conflicts. There’s always something new to learn about them. Wolf Fever is one of Terry’s best character studies of the werewolf pack.

I was curious how she kept her stories fresh and her characters so real. Series can be difficult, in my opinion, because it is all too easy for the elements and dear characters one loves to be present but the story lacks oomph, becoming stale. The characters can easily lose their zest and fun and become just names speaking lines. I don’t know if this is because the writer is becoming bored with the world and characters, or they’ve boxed themselves in with the parameters of their world. I’ve observed this in several series I love. So not seeing this to be the case so far in Terry’s books, I asked her how she manages to keep hers fresh and characters fun.

Terry's used to me asking unusual questions and she was gracious in explaining how she manages it all.

For each new book I write, I try to give a whole new situation that isn’t like the other stories. Sometimes I come up with something in my research, but otherwise I try to create individuals who are very different from one another and some kind of a goal that’s different or the dynamics between a group of people that is unique.

In Wolf Fever, Carol Woods is considering how differently she sees some of the alpha males:

“She couldn’t help liking Ryan, despite his denial of her abilities. He had an easy but determined manner about him, not brusque like Darien or teasing like Jake or afraid to make waves like Tom. His determination was matched only by her own.”

What’s fun is comparing them and then at some future date, challenging this way they have of dealing with situations. Just a character detail like that can often give me ideas for a whole story.

Tom, for instance, is the peacemaker. He’s used to the pack leader, Darien, making the decisions and because Jake is the next oldest, when Darien isn’t available, Jake decides. So one of these days, I’m going to have to put him into a situation to challenge that.

Jake adamantly doesn’t believe in dream mating. So guess who’s the hero in the dream mating wolf tale, book number 8? In that book, I’ve moved him out of his comfort zone, and into the arms of a human woman that he falls for despite telling himself he can’t because she’s human. What makes it different from To Tempt the Wolf? In To Tempt the Wolf, Tessa is not exactly all human and Hunter’s trying to decide about turning her. But in Dreaming of the Wolf, the heroine is all human. But Jake doesn’t turn her like Hunter does Tessa, and…well, that’s the fun of the stories. Making each of them different.

Now, once our characters have certain characteristics, it means we can throw obstacles in their path and force them to change, to grow. But also, depending on who they’re with, they will act one way with one group of people and entirely differently with another. Yet, we have to keep them true to themselves in the story.

Another way that helps me to keep them fresh is to come up with a new area for the wolves to explore. Like in Maine (Legend of the White Wolf), or the Highlands (Heart of the Highland Hero) or the Grand Cayman Islands (Highland Wolf in Paradise). But also, by introducing Arctic wolves and werewolf hunters into the mix (Legend of the White Wolf). Or even a psychic (Wolf Fever, Destiny of the Wolf) or a ghost (Heart of the Highland Wolf) or an omega wolf (Seduced by the Wolf). By adding something different like that, it helps to make each story unique in another way.

Visiting Scotland and a wolf compound help me with visualizing the areas or animals better that I describe in my stories. I witnessed a bit of “fairy magic” while I was in Scotland and can’t wait to use it in a story! While watching the way a beta wolf was so beta at the wolf compound, it helps me to write about how one would act in real life. But of course, she was a captive wolf, so not exactly like a wild wolf, and my wolves are really werewolves, so not all wolf either.



She may be his destiny, but she's not his first choice…

Hospital nurse and newly turned red werewolf Carol Woods is being pressured by her pack leader to find a mate, but he's the only guy in the pack who remotely attracts her… Why is he playing so hard to get?

The fate of the pack rests on his shoulders…

Gray pack leader Ryan McKinley doesn't want anything to do with Carol unless she's willing to embrace her wolf nature—no matter how beautiful she is.

But when a virus infects the local lupus garou pack, Ryan realizes just how wrong he's been not to seize the moment with the woman he's come to love. And now, it may be too late…Excerpt (publishers site, scroll to the box, click excerpt tab)

With almost 56,000 copies sold, Terry Spear is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. She received her MBA from Monmouth University. An eclectic writer, she dabbles in the paranormal as well as writing historical and true-life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas.

For more information, please visit


Heart of the Wolf—FREE eBook from 12/7/2010-12/13/2010

· Heart of the Wolf

Terry Spear Backlist—eBooks ONLY 2.99 from 12/7/2010-12/13/2010

· Destiny of the Wolf
· To Tempt the Wolf
· Legend of the White Wolf

for more deals every week!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Happiness

My guest is Blaze romance author,Tawny Weber.

I had a chance to read about the Cole sisters in It Must Have Been the Mistletoe...: When She Was Naughty...\Cole for Christmas\A Babe in Toyland (by Kate Hoffmann, Rhonda Nelson, Tawny Weber.)  I love how each author presented the three sisters from a well-known musical family and each with different views of being part of such a family and each with different goals in life. They each meet up with a great Christmas gift and not all the men were bad boys but all were sexy as hell, from the Appalachian doctor (gotta love that rug), hot guy with the band (love how he plays scrabble), to the wicked Tyler who absolutely will not allow himself to fall for one of those Cole sisters, aka sexy TROUBLE.

Tawny’s story is Babe In Toyland. Rita Mae feels like a bit of an oddity in her family and is searching for her niche in life. She also has a social network I envy. She’s always had a bit of a thing for Tyler Ramsey but there was that situation with her sister…so scratch following up on that attraction. Coincidently, Tyler had the same issue with his brother and one of the Cole sisters. When the two come together it’s fun to watch how they try to stay loyal to family ties and sort through the preconceived notions and look for reasons to indulge in some hot sex.

I’ve read all of Tawny’s books. I look forward to each one because I’m always guaranteed a fun and satisfying read. Her characters are well crafted, smart, and sexy, her world is everyday situations with a zing.

A Tawny Weber book is filled with delicious flirtation and sexy fun and lots of laughter. And just as with good chocolate, resistance is futile.

Woot –we’re kicking off the holiday season. I’ll admit it, I’m a total sap for the this time of year. I love the decorations, the food (oh baby, the cookies and homemade candy!), the good will and the music. I’m a sucker for the feel-good movies, shaking prettily wrapped boxes and guessing what stuffed animal my little girl got me this year.

I have several holiday traditions I love to visit every year. One is baking. I’m an avid winter baker (I hate baking in the summer, btw). Because I love baking so much, the holidays are the perfect time because I can give away all those goodies instead of eating them myself *g*

I love making special holiday crafts, too. Some years I go all out and make ornaments, others a wreath or something pretty. This year I’m knitting snowmen (yes they look dorky and as I live in Northern California where we don’t get snow, they are oddly inappropriate. But darn it, they are cute!)

Another tradition I love is reading holiday books. There’s so much fun in adding to the joy of the season with a sprinkling of romance, isn’t there? I love it! So it was such a major thrill when I was invited to write a novella for the Harlequin Blaze Christmas anthology. Ironically, I wrote A BABE IN TOYLAND in the spring, listening to holiday tunes and burning an evergreen scented candle. Hopefully, though, I still captured that holiday joy that I love so much!

  • How about you? What are some of the holiday traditions you love? Do you curl up with holiday romances during the season?
It Must Have Been The Mistletoe 
The weather outside might be frightful—but the Cole sisters are indulging in something quite delightful...They're going to have a hot, hot Christmas...

Rita Mae Cole and Tyler Ramsey hail from feuding families. Be together? Impossible. But the incredible sex between them says otherwise…

“Dear Santa,
Thanks for the best present EVER!! I’ve crushed on Tyler Ramsey for so long and now he’s all mine for the drive home. If I promise to be really good, can I keep him a little longer?”

~~Rita Mae Cole Excerpt


Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course). In December 2010, her ninth Blaze, A BABE IN TOYLAND hits the bookshelves.

Come by and visit her on the web at: