Sunday, August 31, 2008

Alpha Males - The Debate Escalates

In my previous post, I asked if women really wanted alpha males. The subject brought on some interesting discussion on both this blog and on my MySpace blog at One male writer, Pandem, brought up an interesting question. He agreed to let me quote him.

“Beautiful post! I want to see more discussion on this topic! Alpha males are great for fantasy, but in reality, they don't always work out so well, as I gather you, Tina, can attest. I've also been told that women tend to go for the "bad boys" in the hopes that they will be the "special one" that changes him or that they can make him into something different, and more often than not, it's just the women that get hurt. Are romance novelists helping women have false expectations about alpha males? It's something to think about. . .
Personally, I have no idea whether I am an alpha male or a beta male; that's something I leave up to other people to worry about. One story I'm working on now is about a woman having to choose between a tough-guy alpha male and the sweet, sensitive beta male. . .with an interesting twist. . .I'll let you know how it comes out Thanks for the thought-provoking write, Tina!”
The Wild Rose Press

Pandem can’t be the only person to ponder this question, and I know when I should get more info before making a decision, so I consulted writers from the AZ chapters of RWA. They fell on both sides of the fence.

“I think your male writer is absolutely right. In my personal experience with bad boys, they can’t be tamed and don’t want to be tamed. They enjoy who they are because it’s fun. Mind you, my point of reference is young bad boys because I learned early to give them up. They’re usually Mr. Right Now, not Mr. Right. That being said, I think you can still write a strong hero and just cut out some of the testosterone, i.e. the Alpha Beta male. Or make the negative issues part of the plot. Have something happen that makes them rethink their whole view of life, maybe a ‘this isn’t working for me anymore’ moment. Just some thoughts…”

Julie Ellis

“Bad boys are NOT alpha males! They are the bottom rung, not the top. They are bad because they have self-esteem issues and are searching for power in inappropriate ways.

Alpha males are confident, self-sufficient, capable. Their self-esteem is so good, it's over the top. They don't "need" anyone. Richard Gere in "Pretty Woman" is the quintessential example. Or Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire."

The reason those movies were so popular is, again, because there was a "chink" that let the women in. Do real-life alpha males have "chinks"? Some do; some deny it.

Are romance writers doing women a disservice by presenting a false hope? No. It's fiction; escapism; it's not real, and women know it.

The counter-question is: does Playboy do men a disservice by presenting unnatural images? No. It's fiction; escapism; it's not real, and men know it.
But we all like to escape now and again! “

Kris :)

"Norway is the new Scotland"
Missouri Territory 1819 -
A betraying husband,the father of her child, a convenient fiancé.
One woman, three very different men.
Life is about choices.

I sincerely hope our readers know our novels are fantasies. My favorite movie right now is Mama Mia and I didn’t leave the theater thinking a man from my past would ever walk in the door and marry me without even a long discussion first. LOL

Whether or not bad boys are alpha is a matter of opinion. I think they can be. At this point we may be debating semantics. In any case, the bottom line, in my opinion, is women want a good man and men want a good woman, whether it is in a book, a movie, or real life.

Next week’s question will be, “Should Men Read Romance Novels to Learn More About Women?” Email me your opinion at suspensebytina @ (no spaces) and you may be quoted on next week’s blog post.

Happy reading,

Friday, August 29, 2008

Interview with Brenda Joyce

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Brenda Joyce . It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called DARK EMBRACE. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Everyone fears the shadows of the night. No one likes walking down a deserted street after the sun goes down, not in 2008—and not in 1508. Of course, we think we’re being silly to start at every little sound we hear—when we know nothing is lying in wait for us out there in the dark. And violence and crime is on the upswing because our society has broken down—and not for any other reason….right?

Welcome to the world of the Masters of Time.

The Masters of Time are Highland warriors sworn to protect Innocence through the ages. They do not choose their destiny—it is chosen for them. The Masters are medieval men to the core—savage in war, ruthless in outlook, totally sexist in nature, and impossibly powerful—after all, they are descended from the old Celtic gods. And one of their greatest powers is the power to leap through time…

And then along comes a very modern and independent woman…

Dark Embrace is the third book in this series. Aidan of Awe has fallen. He is furious with the gods, has forsaken his vows, and now, he walks alone and wars alone, lusting for power and revenge. He is a Highlander without a clan, but the evil that destroyed his son is now trying to destroy him…

Brianna Rose fights evil from the safety of her laptop on the basement of CDA, a government agency. She met Aidan once briefly, when he was a Master, and has had a mad crush on him ever since. Which is fine with her—a crush is really safe. Because Brie is a computer geek with no interest in a real relationship. But, she is a Rose, and the Rose women have been fighting evil with their gifts for generations. And then once night she wakes up consumed with Aidan’s pain—in spite of the gulf of centuries which separate them. And she knows he is in danger. Now, she will do anything to find him—and redeem him.

Dark Embrace is a story of fury, desperation, love and revenge—and redemption. It is also Book One of the Rose Trilogy.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have been published for 20 years, and I switch genres periodically to stay fresh and creative. But medieval men are my favorite heroes—the more alpha, the better, as far as I am concerned. Now, I get to write the most powerful heroes I have ever done—medieval Highlanders with god given powers and a mandate to save the world! To make matters even better, the romantic conflict when the hero meets his soul mate is amazing—medieval macho man meets strong modern women—and do the sparks fly. The collision of expectations, values and cultures is off the charts. I am having a blast writing about the Masters of Time.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

We meet Aidan in Dark Seduction and again in Dark Rival. He is Malcolm of Dunroch’s half-brother. It was a no-brainer to know that eventually I’d do his story. And his father is a demon who raped his mother—obviously this would torture him and be a fundamental aspect of his character’s journey. In Dark Embrace, he believes he is meant to be evil—neither man nor deamhan, just some evil being in between—a half-deamhan.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

It depends on the current work. I love Highlanders, A History of the Scottish Clans, by Fitzroy Maclean, because it is short and concise and colorful, but for detail, Scotland, The Story of a nation, by Magnus Magnusson, is unrivaled.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Aidan was hard to do. He is my first anti-hero, and when I was done, I said, never again. But I will absolutely do more heroes as dark! And Brie is a departure for me. She is a shy computer geek. But she rises to the occasion and really grows into a strong, tough woman in Dark Embrace. I do not have any single favorite hero—but to name a few, Rolfe in The Conqueror, Liam in The Game, and Royce in Dark Rival. My favorite heroines are Katherine (The Game) and Allie (Dark Rival.)

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

My characters come to me several years before I write their stories, unfocused, unformed, an image in my head, letting me know that they are in the wings demanding a story, sooner or later. Then they start to shape up. I will envision a dark, tortured hero who has fallen, like Aidan. And once I have the major theme that will propel character, (the cross he bears) I sit down and think it out while I am in the proposal stage of my plot outline. Character development and plot development go hand in hand.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

The first two romance authors I ever read were Rosemary Rogers and Johanna Lindsey. The greatest novels I’ve ever read were Tai-Pan by James Clavell and Gone with the Wind. I think I’d add Skye O’Malley by Beatrice Small. So my inspiration was a hodge-podge.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

My websites:, and, in that order. And the book trailers for the Masters of Time, which can be seen at

What do we have to look forward next?

January 2009 -- The Prize reissue.

March 2009 -- Dark Victory, The Rose Trilogy continues

Thanks, Brenda!

To celebrate her book release, Brenda is offering a wonderful Masters Of Time Starter Pak which includes: Signed copy of Dark Seduction, Signed copy of Dark Rival, MOT Mousepad, Dark Embrace Computer Cloth, Dark Rival Flashlight, Bookmarks and postcards to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be checking in today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio: Brenda Joyce is the bestselling author of fourty-one novels and five novellas. She has won many awards, and her debut novel, Innocent Fire, won a Best Western Romance award. She has also won the highly coveted Best Historical Romance award for Splendor and Two Lifetime Achievement Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews. There are over 14 million copies of her novels in print and she is published in over a dozen foreign countries.

A native New Yorker, she now lives in southern Arizona with her son, dogs, and her Arabian and half-Arabian reining horses. Brenda divides her time between her twin passions—writing powerful love stories and competing with her horses at regional and national levels. For more information about Brenda and her upcoming novels, please visit her Web sites:, and

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"Sex Between The Pages: Understanding & Writing Sexual Tension"

September 2-29, 2008
"Sex Between The Pages: Understanding & Writing Sexual Tension"
by Mary Buckham
Registration $30 at

How do you write great sexual tension? That’s the question Mary Buckham posed to Linda Howard, Stella Cameron, Susan Andersen, Nancy Warren and more romance writers who write great sexual tension from sweet to spicy hot. In her workshop, Mary combines these lessons from real-writers with practical understanding of the 12 Stages of Intimacy (based on Desmond Morris' works) and more recent findings by scientists on the amazing role biology plays in mate attraction and selection -- findings that can be directly incorporated in our creation of powerful sexual tension.

So if you want to learn how to increase the sexual tension in your work, don’t miss this opportunity.

Topics include:
* Sex versus Intimacy
* Using conflict to increase sexual tension
* The importance of details
* How to portray body language
* Maximizing biological differences between the sexes
* Analyzing those who write sexual tension well
* Exercises for your work in progress

Mary Buckham’s debut Romantic Suspense novel, THE MAKEOVER MISSION, was a Silhouette Intimate Moments release. Her second novel, INVISIBLE RECRUIT, was a May 2006 Silhouette Bombshell. A former magazine editor, she has written hundreds of free-lance articles and a non-fiction book. Currently she is a national writing-workshop presenter, both online and at conferences. Visit or for more information about the release of her Break Into Fiction™ book coming June 2009.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Make It Happen: Harnessing Your Inner Power to Break In (or Back In) the World of Publishing

Make It Happen: Harnessing Your Inner Power to Break In (or Back In) the World of Publishing
A Four-Week Online Workshop
Dates: September 1-30, 2008
Fee: $30
Deadline for payment: August 28, 2008
Go to for more information

By Christie Craig and Faye Hughes

Do you ever think it will never happen—that you’ll never reach your dream of getting “the call”, of really seeing your book on the bookshelves? Perhaps, you’ve made it in, but it’s been years since you’ve seen a new contract. If so, you’re not alone. Career slumps are a part of the business. But if you think there’s nothing you can do to make it happen, you’re wrong! Christie Craig and Faye Hughes, co-authors of the upcoming The Everything Guide to Writing Romance Novels and firm believers in the power to “Make It Happen” in their lives and careers, have developed a system that writers can use to reclaim their inner power, maximize their creative potential and turn those rejections into offers. In their four-week online workshop, they combine solid career advice and easy-to-duplicate techniques with humor, motivation and hope for authors who are beginning to wonder if giving up isn’t the best option for them.

With Craig’s twelve-year dry spell between her first romance novel and the sale of four books in one day, and Hughes’ nine-year period between her seven award-winning romance novels (two of which were optioned for TV movies) to the launching of her viable non-fiction career, these two ladies own the market in perseverance. In fact, senior romance buyer Sue Grimshaw of Borders Group, credits Craig’s perseverance with Borders’ decision to increase their initial order and placement of her December, 2007 Dorchester title. (It paid off, too! After landing on Bookscan’s Top Romance Buys list for its first two weeks of release, Christie’s book went out of stock, prompting Dorchester to order an immediate second printing.)

So, can their philosophy of Make It Happen really work for you? Absolutely! All it takes is a belief in yourself and a willingness to go for your dream. After all, both Craig and Hughes have had their share of “No’s”, from editors, agents and critique partners, but still soldiered on . . . and proved their critics wrong every time. Now it’s your turn.
Lecture Topics for Make It Happen
1. Self-Evaluation and following your own path.
2. Thinking outside the box.
3. Retaking Control. (Stop trying to control the things you can’t, and focus on the things you can do. )
4. Set the stage for success. (Because, ultimately, the only thing you can control is your response to adversity.)
5. Take Baby Steps. (Do one little thing every day to make it happen.)
6. ind a team partner.
7. Ignore the Fear
8. Know the difference between being driven and being obsessed. (Knowing when you’re running on empty and when it’s time to refill your soul with some TLC.)

PRESENTERS:Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher who is happily married to her prince charming. Her short non-fiction has appeared in several of the CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL series, as well as in many national magazines. She recently achieved one of her dreams when she broke back into the fiction market after a long hiatus by selling four romance novels in one day. Her latest novel is DIVORCED, DESPERATE AND DELICIOUS from Dorchester LoveSpell.

Faye Hughes is the award-winning author of seven highly-acclaimed novels of romantic fiction published by Bantam, Zebra and Meteor. Single, she is still searching for her own prince after having kissed enough frogs to populate every pond in her home state of Mississippi. Two of her romance novels have been optioned for television movies, and she is crossing her fingers that a new sale is imminent.

Together, they are the co-authors of The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel (Adams Media, September, 2008) and are popular presenters of humor-filled workshops about writing, romance and life in the south. Their joint website,, will be launching in early 2008.

Fee: $30Deadline for payment: August 28, 2008
For more information go to:

Monday, August 25, 2008

We have a winner!

Congratulations to DAUN ANN, the winner of an autographed copy of Kathryne Kennedy's DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT!

Please send an email to: with Winner in the subject line, and your mailing address in the body (your info will be kept confidential).

Thank you to all those that stopped by and commented on my interview. It was lots of fun!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do Women Really Want Alpha Males?

Do Women Really Want Alpha Males?

When I think of strong alphas, I picture Conan the Barbarian. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt to prove I survived it. As I grow older and wiser (I hope), I picture the perfect hero as a nice, intelligent man, who is respected by others. He isn’t afraid to love the heroine and actually communicates his feelings. I also don’t care if he’s ever seen the inside of a gym. If a Navy Seal was flexing his muscles in one corner and a cute computer geek was smiling at me from another corner, I would choose the man paying attention to ME. LOL

This changing viewpoint has created a problem in my writing. In the first drafts of Liquid Hypnosis, the hero was more beta than alpha. I received some negative feedback. I keep hearing women want to read about alpha males. Luckily, I fixed my hero with minor changes, but I’m struggling with this next one. I have to fall in love with him if I’m going to write the romantic subplot convincingly.

Once again, I turned to romance readers and writers to find out how alpha he really needs to be. I also began to wonder if the romance novel alpha male was just a fantasy?

I love Kris’s answer.

“In real life, it seems that alpha males are so focused on their own agendas that they struggle with relationships. Obviously, they marry. Multiple times. Think Donald Trump!The beauty of our alpha heroes is that they are vulnerable somehow. And that lets us "in" and we are able to complete them. THAT is the best fantasy of all: the big strong warrior who cannot win all without me by his side.”
Kris Tualla
Desert Rose Chapter of
Romance Writers of America

“I personally love Roarke. In fact, he is the reason I read the JD Robb books. I tend to think of him as all Alpha. He'll do anything for Eve, even kill. And has. To me, that screams Alpha. He's very attentive of her, very sweet to her, and very in tune to her feelings. I believe that's a strong Alpha - one who can kick ass, take names, and still know how to love his heroine. In regard to Suz's Seals. Sam Starrett is as Alpha as you can get, but he falls to pieces when it comes to Alyssa. Same as with all the other ones. They are hard-asses, until they meet the woman of their dreams.
In case you haven't figured it out - I LOVE Alpha males. I come from a line of law enforcement, so the men in my family were Alphas.”

“Alpha males with big guns make my day.
--Don't know if you can use this, Tina, but it's true. Lol”

Melanie Atkins
Chilling Suspense…Steamy Romance

“I actually don't care for males who are too alpha. I like enlightened alphas or alphas with heart, but I think I like to have betas too. It's good to have a man in a romance that
can be counted on in standing up against a villain or bad circumstances, but it's also nice to think of them being able to relax together, after the end of the story, with the heroine not having to worry about repeatedly bumping heads with him over some issues. So both alphas and betas can be successful or annoying, depending on how you write them.”
Desert Rose Chapter of RWA

Thanks, ladies.
After reading the posts here and on my writing loops, I realized I like an Alpha/Beta mix. I want a man who will stand up for himself, especially with me, but not a guy who acts like Conan. Now I have direction for my poor hero who is only a shell of a man right now. I guess I better get back to the keyboard and bring him to life.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Interview with Kathryne Kennedy

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Kathryne Kennedy. It’s a pleasure having an interview with one of our own members here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT is the second book in the RELICS OF MERLIN series (although since the relics connect them it easily stands alone). Jasmina is an earl’s daughter who cast a simple illusion of herself, unaware that the jewel in her possession was one of Merlin’s relics…and the spell took on a life of its own. Sterling is a were-stallion who meets Jasmina’s illusion and marries her. When he finds out the truth and meets the real Lady Jasmina life starts to get very complicated for both of them.

DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

All the books in the RELICS OF MERLIN series have some form of ‘enchant’ in the title, and since Jasmina made a twin of herself….

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I have always loved fantasy and romance, and anything Victorian. I just combined all of my favorite things.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I tried my hand at writing a Victorian historical romance, and the entire time I was writing it I kept saying “What if?” (I just couldn’t turn off the fantasy lover in me). It always seemed unfair that males inherited the titles and land, so wouldn’t it be wonderful if women had power? Not in strength of arms, but with magic. So, regardless of sex, the child who had inherited the magical power would be heir. And of course, those with more magical abilities would hold the highest title…so the world of Merlin’s Relics was born.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

The book that I turn to the most whenever I have a question is WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW by Daniel Pool. For DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT, I used INSIDE THE VICTORIAN HOME by Judith Flanders to develop the mind-set of not only Jasmina, but also her father and mother as well.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Since my favorite characters are always in the book I’m currently writing, I would have to say Sir Nicodemus Wulfson and Lady Philomena Radcliff, my hero and heroine in ENCHANTING THE BEAST. I love Nico’s wolfish nature and Phil’s practicality. And since Phil is an older woman, I think I can identify with her very well.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

Yes, I create character sheets, with inner and outer motivation, their goals and inner secrets, childhood experiences and how it may affect their personality, and of course, their physical descriptions. I haven’t done an interview yet, although I think it would be lots of fun. I do try to model my character’s opinions and views from the research I do in the time period. My shape-shifters are always influenced by their were-natures.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

All of the above (although I’m a terrible artist). I created maps of my alternate Victorian London to keep track of changes to name places (Pall Mall became Pall Mage, Belgrave Square became Gargoyle Square, and I added the Hall of Mages next to Buckingham Palace, for example) because with the influence of magic, the city would develop differently. I also have a ‘map’ of a Victorian mansion, with the type of furniture for each room listed (In England, the first floor of a home is the ground floor, and the first floor is called the second, which is often confusing to my American mind :}). I also have a chart with hereditary titles, how each peer is addressed, and their level of magic. I keep a dictionary of my own words, because I often make them up; and a chart of the relics, when they were discovered, what type of jewel and spell (if known).

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

I already mentioned the difference in housing above. I was surprised to discover such early use of water closets, especially one that used dirt to absorb the refuse (called an earth closet). Since neither of them was widely used until later in the century, I usually refrain from mentioning them.

I’m currently compiling a list of Victorian slang that I hope to post here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy soon. I think the most surprising thing I discovered with that (although maybe I shouldn’t have been) was the sheer volume of slang that referred to a woman’s private parts. I should also mention that ‘bloody’ was really considered a very vulgar word in Victorian times, but it’s used so widely today as mild British slang that I use it in my books to capture the flavor of the country. Some of the slang terms I’ve discovered would just be too bizarre for today’s reader, and would just be confusing.

As far as dress modes go, in the time period for ENCHANTING THE BEAST, I discovered an alternate fashion from the corsets and enormous hoops popular in the time period. Since my heroine was a bit of a rebel, she adopted this ‘artistic’ style of dress.

Victorians were known for their prudery. And yet the bustle developed because men admired the sway of a woman’s backside. And isn’t it interesting that although women were clothed head to toe, their bosoms were usually on display, and they had slits in their drawers?

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I would have to say that my biggest inspiration is my mom, who is a published romance novelist. She taught me that it was not an impossible dream; I just had to work hard.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I have many, but one that I don’t see utilized enough is, a social networking site. You can learn more from my own profile:
But I tell you what, I’ll write a more in-depth article about what it is and how to use it for my next blog entry here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy.:}

What do we have to look forward to next?

I’m currently writing ENCHANTING THE BEAST, about a Victorian ghost-hunter who’s hired to solve the mystery of a were-wolf’s haunted castle. It’s scheduled for release in 2009.

Thanks, Kathryne!

To celebrate her book release, Kathryne is offering a free autographed copy of DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT to one lucky commenter on today's blog. Please make sure we have an e-mail address to contact you if you win. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio. Kathryne Kennedy is a multi-published author of magical romances. She currently has a new series with Dorchester Publishing called the RELICS OF MERLIN. The first book, ENCHANTING THE LADY, was released January 2008 to wonderful reviews. Subsequent books are DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT and ENCHANTING THE BEAST. She lives in Arizona with her husband, son, and two very tiny Chihuahuas.

Check out author’s website at

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Making Myths Real

Making Myths Real

By Eden Robins

What so interesting about a werewolf in Guess jeans or a vampire in a Vera Wang dress? Or how about an elf riding a Harley or a gargoyle who enjoys an ice cold Bud Light after work?

Relativity, of course.

Give me a preternatural creature with a good case of the everyday blues, falling in love or just sick and tired of the daily grind and I’ll give you a story folks are interested in.

I don’t pretend to know the highs and lows of the literary market, but I can tell you what I’ve learned so far in writing paranormals and urban fantasies.

Readers like familiar.

Readers like relating to characters.

Readers like that moment when they recognize something about a character that they know or understand very well based on their own life experiences. And I know as an avid reader myself how much I appreciate that connectivity. I also know I want my fantasy characters to have fantasy characteristics and larger than life stories. Yet on the same note, I really want to be able to climb into the heads of the hero or heroine and, well, understand them.

That’s one of the things I like so much about Stephen King’s books. People always asked me why I admire his work. Do I like horror, blood and gore that much? Nope, actually I don’t. Though a little horror, blood and gore does add a bit of something to my tales that I can’t resist, that isn’t why I enjoy reading Mr. King’s work.

Rather, it’s his ability to present his characters in such a way that no matter the horror of the setting, situation or story I feel like I’m inside his character’s head every step of the way. Granted I often go there kicking and screaming in fear, but nevertheless I’m there. And as I go, each and every time I’m able to find some kind of connection to that character that may not have endeared him, her or it to me, but still I’m able to detect and hone in on a bit of “humanness” to them that I can relate to. That connection can be love, like, hate, repulsion or deep seated fear, but still and always, it’s a connection.

For that, I’m eternally grateful to Stephen King.

He taught me a valuable lesson.

No matter who my characters are, it’s important to make them relatable.

I need to make my myths real.

I need to create characters in such a way that readers can crawl inside their heads and find something to hold on to as they take the sometimes wild ride my stories go on. No matter what they are, no matter the myth surrounding them, it’s my goal to produce a kind of “relativity” in my characters that can’t be denied. I strive to form these larger than life heroes and heroines in such a way that the everyday is still a part of them.

In my soon to be released urban fantasy, ILLUMINATION, the third book in my AFTER SUNDOWN series, my hero is a gargoyle and my heroine a witch. Oh, and I also throw in some vamps, an elf, a fairy, a goblin and of course a siren of the sea.

Siren of the sea?

Yep. You betcha. Right out of Greek mythology, I have an honest to goodness-hypnotizing-voice-that-draws-men-closer Siren of the Sea. So, what about her? So she’s a siren, so what? Well, get this, she may be a siren of the sea, but she also has endless man problems. Weird huh? I mean you have a voice that hypnotizes men, has them following you around like puppy dogs and makes them basically want to be your love slave. How can you have man problems? Well, think of it this way. How does she know why a man likes her? Do they like her for her or do they like her just because of her siren’s voice? And how does she know? I mean, how does she really know for sure?

In addition to that, she works as an informant for Sundown Security, an agency filled with hunky alpha males and, well, you can begin to see the problem. Do they like her for her, do they like her just because of her voice, or do they like her because she gets them the information they need?

So now, suddenly this mythological creature is no longer just a mythological being. Now she has become so much more. This larger than life fantasy has become relatable. She’s become a woman, with a woman’s hopes, dreams and fears. I can definitely relate to that. I hope my readers can too.

And you know what? I LOVED constructing her for this series! So much so, that I might just have to give her her very own story. You see, she and a certain, uh, sexy fairy have sparks shooting strong and bright between them. Of course, she’s asking herself over and over again in a million different ways that all important question.


But that is another story…

EDEN ROBINS hears voices in her head. Her characters' voices, that is. She loves creating new worlds and complex characters that always seem to find their way into one sticky predicament or another. She enjoys helping them get untangled from these situations, only to find themselves entangled in love affairs that will last for all time.
With the success of her futuristic Tomorrow trilogy and After Sundown urban fantasy series, Eden is firmly entrenched in the world of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. Please visit Eden at or send her an e-mail at

© Copyright Eden Robins

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How Do You Get Out Of A Writing Funk?

The first couple of weeks I head back to my second grade classroom I put my writing aside.
Frankly, I’m too exhausted to even think straight after the day is over. Getting back into the groove of keeping over twenty adorable eight-year-olds on task, mentally and physically engaged at their appropriate and individual ability levels, while staying out of trouble is tiring work. I equate it to going from 0 to 100 miles an hour and maintaining that speed for 7 hours straight. Plus another 1-3 hours of descending speed to get ready for the next day.

Thinking about going back to work on my manuscript soon prompted me to ask a few writing friends what they do to get back to the story after a writing funk.
Here’s what they had to say.

“I go to a coffee house and don't allow myself to leave for at least an hour. I'm not allowed to do *anything* but write--on anything I want. No Internet, no newspapers, no books, no chatting. I put on headphones to block out all other sounds. If you can't afford a laptop, take a notebook and pencil. If coffee houses aren't your thing, go to the library. The point is to get away from all distractions, imprison yourself in the chair, and let creativity germinate."
Jennifer AshleyBook: Immortals: The Redeeming (Sept. 2008)

“Hey Tina – my tried and tested trick is to set a timer for 30 minutes and sit down and write.
My brain knows it only has to perform for 30 minutes. It forgets about having to write a whole book, thousands of words, please editors, agents, readers, reviewers... and just write for 30 minutes. At the end of the 30 minutes, I can either get up and make a cup of tea, do something else, and then try for another half an hour, or I can just keep on going! Most times, I just keep on going. I’ve never known this method not to work!”
Anna Louise Lucia
RUN AMONG THORNS – OUT NOW from Medallion Press!
In a crisis moment of her life, Jenny Waring did something exceptional.
She killed three armed men.
“Excellent... an all-round compelling escape.” 4 ½ stars, Romantic Times

“Hi Tina,
One of the things that can get me motivated is to visit Barnes and Noble, get a Mocha Frappe, and get into the atmosphere of coffee, chocolate, and books on a shelf. It makes me want to grab my laptop and churn out a best-seller.”

“Sometimes I read but mostly I force my butt in the chair and write, even if it's crap.”

JADED, RT Top Pick! Pocket, Out Now!

“Tina, when I'm in a writing funk, I go for a change of scenery. I pack up my laptop and run to one of my favorite coffee shops. It always seems to do the trick.”
Melanie Atkins

Friday, August 15, 2008

Interview with Emily Bryan

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Emily Bryan. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Thanks, Kim. Chocolate and free advice is impossible to pass up!

I understand you have a new release out called Pleasuring the Pirate. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

My newest release is the fast-paced tale of Gabriel Drake, a prodigal pirate. He earns a royal pardon for his wicked ways and returns to take up his former life as the son of a gentleman. Instead he finds his father and older brother dead, the castle overrun by his orphaned nieces and everyone taking orders from Jacquelyn Wren, the courtesan’s daughter who’s been acting as chatelaine. She grooms him for a well-moneyed match, but Gabriel’s eye is drawn to Jacquelyn instead. And everyone knows, what a pirate wants, a pirate takes.

Pleasuring the Pirate is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My previous title Distracting the Duchess is a funny, sexy romp. By keeping the same pattern (XXXing the XXX) I hope readers will realize Pleasuring the Pirate is following the same comedic, sexy vein. And my next book is Vexing the Viscount (March 2009). But I think I’ve about tapped out this pattern. Diddling the Duke is just too silly.
What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love historical romance. When I read, I want to be swept away to another time and place and if I can have a laugh (and maybe a tear or two) mixed up with my love story so much the better.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

My stories always start with the characters, who they are, where they’ve been, what they want and how I can keep them from getting it. Writers are required to be a little sadistic in that respect. Nothing can come easily for our literary children.

The idea for Gabriel Drake came when I read about a real pirate who started out as an honest seaman and was pressed into service on the pirate ship when his naval vessel was taken. Gabriel is a 2nd son who went to sea and was trained as a navigator. When pirates sink his ship, he is given a choice—turn to piracy or claim a watery grave. He decides to live and makes quite a splash as the Cornish Dragon, but when he rescues the king’s cousin and earns a pardon, he wants to return home. I’m fascinated by stories of redemption and restoration and even though the father he wanted to make peace with is dead, Gabriel finds acceptance in the love of a woman. Of course, this is the same woman who tried to kill him when she first laid eyes on him, but that’s what makes the story interesting.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

Timelines of History is indispensable. It hits all the highpoints of each year and gives me jumping off points for more in depth research elsewhere. I also use Bulfinches’ Age of Fable. Myths are always a source of inspiration for me. I make use of original source material (journals, letters from the time period) where ever I can. Librarians have been known to cringe when they see me coming.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I enjoyed writing Jacquelyn Wren. She deals with several inner conflicts. Her mother, the famous courtesan, saw to it she was educated like a lady, but without the pedigree to accompany her education, Jacquelyn couldn’t take her place in society. She longs to be a lady more than anything, yet she fights against her birthright—the passionate nature she inherited from her mother. Coming to terms with all the facets of herself is a difficult journey for Jacquelyn.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing?

My goodness, that sounds well organized. Of course, I don’t do anything like that. Mostly, I listen. My characters begin whispering to me of their hopes, their dreams. In short order, I recognize their voices, the conversation begins and I start writing them. They’re quick to tell me if I get it wrong.

How does your research affect your character development?

People are products of their age. We are defined by our education, status, expectations, beliefs, friends and family. I need to know how people in the age I write about thought about themselves and their world. If my character deviates from the societal norm, I have to explain and motivate their actions in order to make them believable.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

One of the most unusual tidbits about ladies clothing in the Georgian period is that they wore no underwear. At all. The only thing under those broad skirts was the wire and horsehair panniers and the stockings that were gartered at the knees. And since the skirt was held out by the hoops, nothing would touch the bare skin. It would feel like running around naked from the waist down. No wonder the Georgian Era had such a naughty reputation.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I’m inspired by the Gothics of Victoria Holt, the epic romantic stories of MM Kaye, the magic and beauty of language of Mary Stewart. I admire several authors who are writing now—Jo Beverley, Madeline Hunter, Jennifer Ashley, Shana Abe, CL Wilson, Joy Nash and Marjorie Liu.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

It’s hard to know since I have no way to quantify how effective something is. I do a wide variety of things. I speak for conferences. Next week I’m heading to Seattle to give a workshop for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. I do a limited amount of print advertising—Romance Sells, a small RWR ad, and I’ve been able to get a couple articles published in RT. I print bookmarks to give to booksellers and readers. I visit bookstores and sign stock. I maintain a website ( ) and blog ( ) , a MySpace ( ), Facebook ( ), and a handful of other social networks. I’m on several email loops. I attend the Romantic Times Convention and RWA Nationals.

Of all the things I do, I believe my web presence has helped me connect with readers most effectively. When I attend the national conferences, I meet lots of friends I’ve made online. It makes the conference so much more pleasant because, like many authors, I’m a tad introverted.

What do we have to look forward next?

After PLEASURING THE PIRATE at the end of this month, VEXING THE VISCOUNT will be out March 2009. And my editor and agent are negotiating a holiday anthology for October 2009.
I do have a couple other things in the hopper—a romantic suspense and a paranormal. Visit to read an excerpt and enter my contest. Aspiring writers will enjoy my Writers Corner. I’ve recently added several pages of content just for them. While you’re there, check out Em Recommends. I interview other authors and share books I’ve read. Enjoy!

Thanks so much for the chance to visit with your readers here at MuchCheaperThanTherapy. I had a great time.

Thanks, Emily!

To celebrate her book release, Emily is offering a free book of Distracting the Duchess to one lucky commenter on today's blog. Please make sure to leave your e-mail address so we have a way to contact you if you win. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio. Award-winning author Emily Bryan learned much of what she knows about writing from singing. A classically trained soprano, she gleaned the elements of storytelling while performing operatic roles. She and her husband have lived in nine different states, but she now makes her home in the heart of New England.

Check out author’s website at

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Writing Back Cover Blurbs That Sell"

September 8-19, 2008
"Writing Back Cover Blurbs That Sell"
by Theresa MeyersRegistration
$50 at

Prerequisite: Must have a complete manuscript

Research has shown that after looking at the cover, the next thing potential readers look at is the back of your book. Lose them on the back cover, and you could lose a possible sale! But how do you craft a selling back cover blurb, and what elements matter most?

In this course you’ll find out:
* The elements of a selling back cover blurb
* How to structure three different types of back cover blurbs
* Buzz words that get people to buy
* Common mistakes authors make
* How to craft a blurb that’ll help you sell more

By day Theresa Meyers is president of Blue Moon Communications, a top public relations agency best know for securing placement for two of the seven picks of the Kelly Ripa Book Club. But by night she writes fiction. A member of RWA since 1993, she’s been a finalist in the American Title contest and is currently at work on her next novel. You can find her blogging online at and

Monday, August 11, 2008

One Minute of Magical Romance

I’ve just posted the book video for DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT! Take a peek at it on my website: or

With the release of DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT just around the corner, I’m doing interviews and mini-contests. I have an interview up already at:
Emily Bryan is a fellow Dorchester author who writes fabulous Victorian historicals. We are also running a joint contest! Here are the details:

Answer these two questions:

1. What is the release date of Emily Bryan's new book PLEASURING THE PIRATE? Hint: Click on her book cover here:
2. What is the name of Sterling's brother in DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT? Hint: Read the excerpt here:

Email your answers to: with K&E Contest in the subject line. A winner will be randomly chosen from those entries with correct answers. Contest ends on 9-1-08. Entering the contest automatically signs you up for both Kathryne's & Emily's newsletter. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. This contest is subject to all federal, state, and local laws and regulations.

And mark your calendars for August 22nd for my interview here at Much Cheaper Than Therapy. Stop by and leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win an autographed copy of DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT.

I have another interview scheduled with
for mid-August, and those lovely ladies are giving away a garnet bracelet to celebrate! I’ll be announcing it on my blog when it’s posted.

And remember, my website contest for the garnet necklace will end August 26th, so if you’ve posted my blurb anywhere, email me to let me know.

And just in case I haven’t included enough links ;}, here’s a few more for some lovely reviews that DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT was given recently:

Double Enchantment is the second in Kathryne Kennedy's Relics of Merlin series. This tale is equally as engaging and refreshing as the first. Jasmina and her eccentric family make for such fun reading that you will keep turning the pages to see what will happen next. Sterling is an excellent hero, dashing strong and protective of Jasmina. He also allows her the time to work through the feelings raised by her twin. Double Enchantment and the Relics of Merlin series are sure to make it to our keeper shelves, catapulting Kathryne Kennedy to our must buy list.

Double Enchantment is a wonderfully fun romance where magic is a part of everyday life in the Regency era. The triangle between Sterling, Jasmina, and her clone is crafted in a pleasing way with each woman being well suited for him in a different manner. Kathryne Kennedy's 'Relics of Merlin' world is an enjoyable place to spend some quality time. Just keep an eye out for gnomes.

The second Relics of Merlin alternate history saga (see ENCHANTING THE LADY) is a fabulous romantic Victorian fantasy with a clever twist in which the love triangle is complicated by his falling in love with the shadow twin and then the original twin. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jasmina casts her spell and never slows down as she and Sterling seek her doppelganger, his sister, the relic and lucidity to their convoluted DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT relationship.

My Best Wishes,

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Neurotic Writer and Code Breaking

Welcome to another episode of THE NEUROTIC WRITER.

Therapist: “How was your week?”

Suzie Writer: “Busy, busy. I’ve been working on developing my brand”

Therapist: “Your what?”

Suzie Writer: “My brand. It’s what singles you out from other writers. What makes you different. Dan Brown inspired me. He wrote The Da Vinci Code. That’s his brand. Breaking codes.”

Therapist: “I thought you wrote romantic suspense novels.”

Suzie Writer: “I do, but I can put codes into my novels and my contests. You know how you can play the Beetles’ White Album backwards, it says, ‘Paul is dead?’ I’m going to write a whole novel frontward and backward. Readers will get two books in one. But first, I put a code into my contest blurb for my website. I have it with me.” She removes a folded piece of paper from her purse.

Therapist: “Explain this code. I’m not following you.”

Suzie Writer: “When I advertise my contests on my website, I’m going to include a clue to the identity of the real killers in my books. In this code, if you pay attention to every third word you’ll know the killer’s name. Listen.” She holds up the paper and reads, “Come to my contest. No butler allowed. You did enter. Leave it now.”

Therapist: “I see. The Butler Did It. But do you think anyone will understand the original message you post?”

Suzie Writer: “My readers won’t care if it’s confusing because it’s a code. Get it?” She smiles smugly. “It took me three months to come up with that one. Now I just have to work on writing the book so you can read it forward for one story and backward for another.”

Therapist: “Three months huh? How long do you think it will take you to write the whole book frontward and backward?”

Suzie Writer: Frowns, then bites lip. “Thirty years.”

Friday, August 8, 2008

Interview with Natale Stenzel

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Natale Stenzel. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Did you say chocolate? And plentiful? Sounds like my kind of place.
(We aim to please. KW)

I understand you have a new release out called The Druid Made Me Do It. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Actually, The Druid Made Me Do It is the second book in a series of funny paranormal romances. The first book, Pandora’s Box, was released in February, and Druid basically takes up where Pandora ends, with a new romantic couple and conflict but some of the same cast and mythologies.

Here’s the back cover copy:


Dark, powerful, sexy Kane. He has many names, but in truth he is Robin Goodfellow, the one-time favored son of Oberon, King of Faerie. For centuries, he's worked his magic, seducing and pleasuring women as befits his puca nature. But Kane made one big mistake -- punishing his brother for a crime he did not commit.

Oh yeah, he also left Dr. Janelle Corrington after the most amazing night of her life. Their lovemaking was brief, intense . . . and a one-night stand. While she'd established what she thought was a soul connection that could occur only once in any lifetime, he was simply having sex. Why else would he have disappeared without a word? That's why the Druid Council's punishment for Kane's other crime is so delicious: for him to be Janelle's ward, to make amends to all he harmed, to take responsibility for his actions. Finally, Kane would have to take things seriously. And only true love would be rewarded.

The Druid Made Me Do It is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
I’m normally terrible at titles and rarely get to keep them, but this one was mine. As for its origins . . . deep in the dark and weirdo recesses of my subconscious. In other words, I have no idea, which really stinks because I could use another good title or two right about now. Figures, huh? I do love to play with words and irony, though. Writerly toys, I guess you’d say.

What made you decide to write in this genre?
I’ve been obsessed with paranormal romance for several years now – dark, light, funny, tragic, suspenseful, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, faeries, witches, gods, you name it. I’ve always been curious about the unexplainable and fascinated by mythology. I was only too excited to see the genre explode like it has. Why funny paranormal? I think funny is just a natural fit for me, always has been. My first four published books were romantic comedies and, while I enjoyed writing them, I really loved challenging myself by adding the paranormal element to the mix. It just expanded the realm of story possibility such that my only limits are defined by my ability to coax the reader to believe the unbelievable. Challenging, exciting, intriguing, satisfying.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
As I mentioned, The Druid Made Me Do It is the logical sequel to Pandora’s Box, so I guess I should go back to the origin for the series itself. I’d like to say I was overseas on a wild and wicked adventure and am simply relaying things to you in an autobiographical manner, but in reality, I was just surfing the Internet. Given that I’m drawn to stories of the wild and weird and wonderful, even while skimming the news, I found this piece about the Circle of Avebury. It’s a stone circle, much like the better known Stonehenge, but bigger, older and less preserved or researched. One thing historians do know -- which completely fascinated me -- was that many of the stones had been deliberately shattered into smaller pieces, which were then used in local construction. Just think about that for a moment. Imagine having a piece of Stonehenge cemented into the foundation of your home. The possibilities . . . how could I resist?

The rest of the story sort of fell into place based on my own interests. I loved Shakespeare and was especially fond of the incorrigible Puck character in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Puck happens to be the bard’s vision of a shape-shifting character from mythology called a puca (which can be spelled a gazillion different ways). Lucky for me, the details of this myth are a bit sketchy so I brazenly created some on my own and twisted existing ones for my own purposes. Arrogant, huh? But lots of fun.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?
I do a lot of surfing and skimming, but I seem to come back to a few: Encyclopedia Mythica (, Mythography (, Edith Wharton’s Mythology and several others. I like to cross-reference everything so I can get different perspectives and slant them toward my own purposes, though.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
Other than the hero and heroine, you mean? Honestly – and I swear this isn’t a PC answer – I love all of them for different reasons. Obviously, I’m completely in love with my main characters or I could never have made the romance work. They’re both complex people with senses of humor and noble streaks (whether they admit it or not). I also love High Druid Phil for many reasons that become even clearer in my March 2009 release, which I just finished writing. He’s quirky, smart, unexpected. Oh, and the faeries. Titania’s so wonderfully bad; Oberon manages to be arrogant, vain and still loveable; oh, and Breena. I adore Breena. Kane’s faerie sister is so utterly full of mischief and unexpected wisdom. She loves nothing better than to disarm, unless it’s to help those she loves in spite of herself. I guess I didn’t leave anyone out? It was just so hard to choose . . .

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?
Oh, I wish I could do that. Do you know how much simpler my life would be if I could sit down and actually plan my characters? No, I have to go into the story and meet them as they already are, gradually get to know them as you might a real person. Any attempt to mold them into what works best for me fails every time. It’s so frustrating. Writing a story, for me, is like walking into a movie where I can see and feel and think, with and as, these characters, but I swear they simply are who they are and open up to me only when they feel like it. Once I know them a little, though, I can sometimes sit down and interview them at the keyboard. That helps. If they’re willing.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?
Once again, you mistake me for somebody organized and logical. A plotter. Unfortunately for me, I’m really a pantser who’s been dragged kicking and screaming into a world that requires plotting in order to sell. Anything I note down is after I’ve written about it, and only as a reminder in case I need the details later. The world, much like the characters, already exists. I just have to be patient and see the details as they are, not as I would like them to be. It’s insane and frustrating.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Too many to name. I’m a lifelong fan of romance, from the time I was checking out every Georgette Heyer, Victoria Holt and Phyllis Whitney I could find in the library as an early teen. From there, I discovered (usually via my mother’s ‘secret’ bookshelf) romance favorites like Julie Garwood and Kathleen Woodiwiss (I now have all of her books in paperback and hardcover). I have nearly every book Nora Roberts has written. I love Jayne Ann Krentz (in all of her personae), Christine Feehan, MaryJanice Davidson, Lori Foster, Jennifer Crusie, Sherrilyn Kennyon, Katie MacAlister, Lynsay Sands, Nina Bangs . . . somebody stop me.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
I’ll admit promotion is not my favorite aspect of this industry. I tend to focus most of my efforts online, in the various social networking and library cataloguing sites. I do guest blogs like this one and my group blog (Deadline Hellions), myspace (come friend me, please!, a newsletter (you can subscribe via my website at I also really love doing stock signings. It’s mostly stress free and casual – a lot of the benefits of booksignings but without the social challenges introverts have a hard time facing. Booksellers are fabulous and love having authors come sign stock, at least in my experience.

What do we have to look forward to next?
As I mentioned earlier, The Druid Made Me Do It is the second book in a series of funny paranormal romances. Pandora’s Box, released in February, was the first. The third book, called Between a Rock and a Heart Place, is scheduled for release in March 2009.

Thanks, Natale!

To celebrate the release of The Druid Made Me Do It, Natale is offering a free copy of Pandora’s Box, the first book in her series of funny paranormal romances, to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (Please make sure we have a way to contact you if you win) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Natale Stenzel endured your average childhood with two brothers to annoy and parents to baffle. She attended the University of Missouri-Columbia, earning bachelor's degrees in English literature and magazine journalism. At this logical point in time, she decided that being a reporter or technical writer did not appeal to her in the least. But she tried.

She moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, did some business and technical-type writing, married her adorable engineering geek, then quit the tech writing job to churn out babies. At home full time and uncomfortable in June Cleaver mode, she tried her hand at book-length fiction.
She spent several years shooting in the dark, writing her heart out only to face rejection after rejection. Then, after a move to lovely central Virginia, she sold her first book in July 2002 at a Romance Writers of America conference in Denver, Colorado (Forget Prince Charming, Harlequin Flipside, November 2003). In total, she published four romantic comedies with Harlequin Flipside.

Her fifth book, Pandora’s Box (released in February 2008) is the first in a series of funny paranormal romances to be published by Dorchester for its Love Spell line. So far, she’s written and sold two sequels: The Druid Made Me Do It (just released this month) and Between a Rock and a Heart Place (due out in March 2009).

Check out author’s website at .


Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Saturday September 6, 2008

Whether you are unpublished, self-published, published with a small press, or with a large publisher, most of the promotion work nowadays falls to the author. Mistakes in that field can be costly. Selecting the smartest ways to promote may seem like an overwhelming task. But worry no more. Learn a hundred easy ways to insure maximum exposure for little or no money. Most opportunities for promotion and publicity are free. Do you know how to get into radio? Television? Newspapers? What constitutes an effective website? What goes into a press kit? How to make the most of what you already have? and grow a reader’s base, even before your book is published?
Come and find out how easy it can be.
Small group allows personal attention for each participant.
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$70 including breakfast and lunch. Early bird registration before August 10 : $60.00
Worth every penny. Credit cards accepted through Paypal.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Interview with Susan Meier

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Susan Meier. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! is actually the fifth book in an author generated continuity series. I was lucky to work with Shirley Jump, Melissa James, Myrna MacKenzie, Linda Goodnight and Melissa McClone on this one! At the time we began creating the series, we were former Silhouette Romance authors who had decided to see what we could come up with to entertain ourselves and also to showcase that we were fairly gifted girls! With so many great minds at work, LOL, we ended up with a great series idea and the editors loved it!
The series tells the stories of the romances of six women who work in a wedding planning business, Wedding Belles…owned by a wise “older” Southern woman Belle.

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! tells the story of the group’s accountant, Audra. The year before Audra had been left at the altar by a playboy, so when a slip-up in the records occurs, and they can’t afford to create the wedding they had promised their assistant, Audra makes a special “deal” with multi-millionaire playboy Dominic Minelli. He’ll pay for their assistant’s wedding, if she’ll work at nights for him, caring for his baby until he can hire a nanny.

She’s absolutely positive his playboy status will be enough for her to resist him, but she soon discovers there’s more to the man than that choreographed exterior.

It’s a rich, detailed story that’s sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, about two people who are afraid to trust, finally finding the real person of their dreams, but painfully aware that sometimes the best of intentions can lead to read pain.

Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I didn’t. LOL. My editor did. My title was Suddenly a Daddy, but in retrospect my title (though good…LOL) didn’t fit the book as well as Suzy’s does!

What made you decide to write in this genre?

This genre chose me. My first two books were an Intrigue and a Desire and though I was right on the money with those two stories, the editors told me that my next effort, STAND-IN MOM was a traditional romance and the Silhouette Romance line actually fit my voice better. So we put STAND-IN MOM in Silhouette Romance and from that point forward Traditional Romance became my book of choice.

My voice fits, my stories fit…I feel as if I found my place. LOL

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

For years I studied every book and went to very workshop on plotting and honest to goodness tried to become a plotter…because plotters always know what they are doing and I love the feeling of knowing what I’m doing.

But this year I gave up and admitted I’m a pantser. LOL. Not that I don’t use all the great stuff I learned in the plotting workshops … I do! I even teach a lot of great plotting tricks in the workshops I give online and for RWA chapter conferences. Because you don’t have to be a plotter to use the tricks of the trade. Pantsers can use them too!

I’m actually doing a workshop CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED for the OCC chapter in September. There are a lot of FANTASTIC plotting tips in there. Tips you can use if you’re a plotter or a pantser!

But it seems that no matter how hard I try to pin down a story before I begin writing a book, once the characters get moving they start changing the script! And the outline.

So, I pants…but with a bit of control. I only let myself go 50 pages into the book, before I go back to the beginning and make sure everything fits and works…then write I another fifty pages…and go back to the beginning to make sure everything fits…then another fifty…You get the picture!
(I sure do. Maybe there's a name just for us. KW)

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I did minimal research. Most of it on Boston. In my past life, I worked with accountants and lawyers and also worked for numerous “companies” in my illustrious career as a Kelly Girl (thinly disguised writing research…learning as much as I could about as much as I could…LOL).
But when I hit a problem in a story, I’m afraid I have to admit that I don’t run to books as much as I do the internet. You can search for something like “best real estate in Boston” and in seconds discover the best place to “set” a wedding planners business! The Internet is my research venue of choice!

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

As I mentioned before, this book as part of a continuity series created by six former Silhouette Romance authors. Shirley Jump, Melissa James, Myrna MacKenzie, Linda Goodnight and Melissa McClone.

We simply fell in love with the idea of putting so much “wedding” stuff into six stories. When I was writing my book, even though my heroine is the group’s accountant, I loved writing the opening scene which takes place in the Wedding Belle’s offices, where there’s always a bride trying on a flowing gown and bridesmaids being fitted in colorful dresses, and the scent of wedding cake and flowers!

Now, wouldn’t that be a dream job!

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I loved Audra because she was a contradiction, but also because she didn’t know what she really wanted from life. And isn’t that true of all of us?

I identified with her, but also I believe most readers will too. Her journey of self-discovery gives us all hope that someday our lives will make sense.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

I typically come up with a very troubled character first…either the hero or the heroine.
Normally, that inspiration comes from something I see in real life…a husband who loses his wife, a woman who gets pregnant and her boyfriend dumps her, a very smart character who doesn’t have any common sense…And then I create the worst possible partner…a character totally opposite (J) of the person they should ever marry…and make the two incredibly sexually attracted and stuck in a bad situation that forces them to deal with each other long enough to fall in love.

I don’t create sheets…Though I do write out a lot of each characters’ “history” because I believe we find the best quirks and conflicts in our characters’ pasts. So when I start writing page 1, I have a lot of fodder for scenes and for the characters to rub each other the wrong way!

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Authors who inspired me? In the beginning of my career Nora Roberts inspired me greatly. After I got over my amazement at her accomplishments, I realized that if she could do what she did…I could at least write a book or two a year.

But later on others inspired me. I’m in awe of the wonderful category writers who can take complex issues and tell them in the succinct, yet poetic way, necessary for a focused romance.
I think category romance gets a bum deal these days. Everybody’s interested in single title. Few would-be authors even read category…Yet, we tell emotionally intense stories in a very short amount of pages. If an author truly wants to learn how to be succinct and poetic…category should be what he or she is reading.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I advertise locally. There are only a few hundred thousand people in my county, yet if I get the word out on time lots and lots of them dive for my books. I think I appeal to the people I live with because I’m one of them. I’m writing for myself when I write, so it only stands to reason that the people I share a county with would also share my reading tastes. LOL

So my best advice to the published authors reading this is…Don’t forget the readers in your own back yard!

What do we have to look forward next?

I have an utterly adorable Christmas Book coming out in December. Her Baby's First Christmas. It’s a heartbreaker, but it’s also so funny that readers will probably find themselves simultaneously laughing and crying.

I don’t often say one of my books is better than another because I typically love all my books equally and I don’t want to slight any of them by bragging on another, but Her Baby's First Christmas is the kind of story that will get readers in the mood for a really great Christmas…Because all Christmases are supposed to be great.

In the same way, Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! will get readers in the mood to celebrate a wedding – or maybe just appreciate their own good marriage! Glimpses of wedding cake and bridal gowns throughout the book will remind readers of their own weddings, or their kids’ weddings or their sisters’ weddings…
Sigh. Doesn’t remembering your favorite wedding make you feel wonderful? LOL

Thanks, Susan!
To celebrate her book release, Millionaire Dad, Nanny Needed! Susan is offering a free copy of Her Pregnancy Surprise to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please make sure we have a way to contact you if you win) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Susan Meier is the author of over 30 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, The Kindness of Strangers. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Reviewer's Choice Awards.

Her 2007 release, Her Pregnancy Surprise, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. The Millionaire’s Nanny and Her Baby’s First Christmas are her 2008 releases.

Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Plot Points, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article, “How To Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets. Susan has also given workshops on and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters.

One of eleven children, Susan was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and continues to live there with her husband, three children and two very personable cats. Susan is an avid, but terrible golfer, and a woman who desperately wants to lean to cook without having to involve the fire department. Her 2008 goals include getting involved with blogging -- she but hopes no one is holding his or her breath waiting for that, losing fifteen pounds -- don't hold your breath on that one either -- and figuring out the financing for an oceanfront condo in Virginia Beach. She swears she will wear Number 30 sunblock and never subject anyone to the sight of her in a bikini! (Unless asked -- and paid…handsomely.)

Upcoming online workshops include CAN THIS MANUSCRIPT BE SAVED for the Orange County California RWA chapter.

I’ll be presenting a 2-hour craft workshops…LET CONFLICT TELL YOUR STORY FOR YOU…at the New Jersey RWA chapter conference in October. Check their newsletter for details!

Check out author’s website at Buy