How Did You Come Up With Your Story?

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My name is Rita and I write books about extraordinary women and the men they love. Yesterday Carina released my debut book, Under Fire, about a Coast Guard Helicopter pilot who works with an undercover DEA agent to find her brothers killer. I have a smokin’ hot cover to match my story. Life is good. I am beyond excited. Photobucket

When talking about my book the question I’m asked most often is how I came up with this story. My daddy was Coast Guard and most people think it was because of that. It wasn’t. Here’s the real scoop. I’d signed up for an Art class at the local Jr. college and was cruising other classes. A beginning romance writing class caught my eye. I can do that easy! It was an online class, even better. I signed up and right off the instructor asked everyone to give a brief summary of their plot. Huh? You need a plot? Hmm… maybe this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. Plot? Plot? Think.

I was watching the Kevin Costner movie The Guardian on HBO and a Coast Guard helicopter, a big silver and orange one, was circling the area.( I live in Florida near the beach.) Okay. Heroine is a helicopter pilot in the Coast Guard chasing the bad guys. From there the people living in my head took over, told me the story and here I am. The story grew and morphed with each writing concept I learned. The only thing that didn’t change was who my heroine is. I was stubborn and held on to everything about the character right down to her nickname, Jake. That’s right, Jake. Most pilots have nicknames so why shouldn’t she? My instructor and mentor said it wouldn’t fly. Pun intended. I kept it. My agent said it wouldn’t fly. I kept it. Did I mention I’m stubborn? I was not going to do it unless it came from an editor.

Well, it did. My lovely editor, Gina, very gently and with great skill told me why Jake had to go. And boom piff it was gone. There is another reason behind me keeping the name as long as possible. I would discuss the story ad nauseam with a friend. Her darling husband felt left out and wanted to read it. I said okay. He read maybe the first 50 pages. He loved Jake and the story. So much so, while at the bank one day he saw a women who looked like he envisioned Jake. He walked right up and proceeded to tell her about the book his friend had written and she looked just like the heroine and so on. His wife and I had a good giggle over that. I was quite touched that Jake had become so real to him and how excited he was to read the finished book.

He died before he could. Somehow holding on to the name as long as I could was honoring the faith he had in the story. Today she goes by her given name, Olivia, but I always think of her as Jake.

Under Fire is on sale now with Carina Press.  WARNING: Reading Under Fire will cause an intense need to read more books with strong heroines.

Visit me at my web home  http://ritahenuber.com

On facebook http://on.fb.me/o0pQxX

And twitter @rithhenuber

You tell us: Are you an end reader?

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This is one of my favorite reading questions to discuss, because sometimes the conversation gets so divisive. People seem to think it’s either okay or it’s not to flip to the end.

I’ve always been an occasional end reader. Not always, just sometimes. I find myself doing this most particularly outside the romance genre, when the end and my emotional satisfaction with the book are in question, and how it will end will decide whether I want to keep reading or not. Any time there’s a book where a heroine has two love interests, I always flip to the end to see who she ends up with. No, I don’t want that to be part of my journey, I want to know if I’m going to end up being disappointed in the choice. I also do this if I’m confused by who the hero is supposed to be. Sometimes it’s not always clear, even though maybe it’s supposed to be.

I also flip to the end when I’m feeling a bit ho-hum about a book, and I wonder if it’s worth my continued time investment to keep going. Flipping to the end to see how the climax and wrap-up plays out can help me decide. And hey, if I decide not to read any further, at least I know how it ends!

I will say that switching to reading digitally has made taking a peek at the end a bit harder. With a print book, it was always so easy to flip back and forth. Digital does make that a little more challenging. But I’m okay with that, as long as I can still peek to know that the book is going to deliver what I’m hoping for.

But you tell me, are you an end reader? Some of the time? All the time? Or do you think that reading the end will absolutely spoil a book for you, even if you’re not really enjoying how the story is progressing?

Photo Friday: Carina in Australia

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Last Sunday I was privileged to get to have lunch with some of the Australian Carina Press authors. It was a fantastic lunch and I had such a great time getting to know these ladies. I hope I get a chance to do it again in a few years! Thank you, ladies, for being so incredibly warm and welcoming and making my visit a smashing success for me!

From left to right: Rachael Johns, Shannon Curtis, Shona Husk, Fiona Lowe, Joan Kilby, Cathryn Brunet (in front of me) and Janni Nell

And a bonus picture…I’m sure you were expecting koalas (and I have pictures of plenty of those!) but these birds at the Featherdale Wildlife park just make me smile and I had to share. Aren’t they both adorable and cuddly looking while also looking crotchety and wise?

How I DIDN’T Defy Convention

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By Amy Wilkins, Harlequin Digital and Carina Press Acquisition Team

Sometimes a book comes to acquisition team that you just have to read – or, rather, Angela James says, “So Amy, you’re reading this.”

That’s what happened when Abby Niles’s book Defying Convention came up for a read. It’s about reporter Emma Portland who goes undercover at the 31st Annual GalaxyCon and meets a bestselling but highly secretive sci fi author Luke Evans.

So why did Angela tell me to read this book? Well, check out where I went on vacation last year…

Only the biggest “geek” convention in the world! Me + 125,000 geeks, checking out the things we love — like me and the Ghostbuster car:

It was the perfect preparation for reading Defying Convention (and of course, we acquired it). :)

Have you ever been to a convention, or would you like to some day? (tip: I would recommend starting with something smaller than Comic-Con, like I did. It was quite overwhelming at times!)

p.s. And just because Dana told me to when I was trying to think of a blog topic earlier…here’s a picture of Michael Fassbender:

“Multiple Mom!” (Or, “Why I Write Serial Killers…”)

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As anyone who has ever had anything to do with me has quickly learned, I have three children. My oldest is a 13 year old boy whose autism often serves as an obscuring veil, making it hard to tell if he has either brilliantly cutting sarcasm or if he’s growing into a man that feminists will hunt to the ground and beat like a dog, lol.

Such as when I was scrubbing his bathroom in 90 degree weather and he says, “Hey Mommy. You’re really sweaty. You should shower and rest after you make me something to eat.”

(Seriously. And yes, he’s still alive. He genuinely just has sentence structure issues. At least, that’s what I tell myself. Often.)

The other two kids are my four year old twin girls who, while not autistic, definitely have zero sense of self-preservation. “Trouble”—who must have been a spider monkey in a past life—is definitely the ring leader. She sees what she shouldn’t have, shouldn’t touch or shouldn’t do and does her darndest to make her sister get it, touch it, or do it for her. Then there’s “Shatner”, named for her penchant for epic drama and her belief that saying things in slow motion makes them mean more. This also makes her one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met. When she’s not hungry, anyway. Or sleepy. Or wanting something.

As you can imagine, people who know me well are not remotely shocked when I say I’ve taken to writing serial killer stories.

Having multiple kids is not unheard of, of course. Neither is being a “Multiple Mom”, which is a phrase commonly used for mothers of twins, triplets or—God help you—more. But being a multiple mom with multiple jobs is sort of a master class in mayhem. To get much done, you have to be determined…or find a way to channel all your sidetracks back to the same place. Allow me to demonstrate.

When you read a line from “Deceiving The Protector”, you see:

Tate pushed through the break in the brushes, his senses spread out, searching for a threat that didn’t seem to be anywhere near. The woods were silent. Even the small scurrying sound of insects and tiny creatures stilled. As if, like him, they sensed a predator.

A predator that wasn’t him.

When I read it, I remember:

Tate pushed through the break—

“Mommy?”

“Hmm?”

“Nothing.”

Tate pushed through the break—

“Mommy?”

“Hmmmm?”

“…….”

Tate pushed through the break—

“Mommy?”

“Hmmmmmmmm?”

“Look at me, Mommy.”

Tate pushed through the break in the bushes—

“Let me just finish this line, okay?”

“Okay.”

break in the bushes, his senses spread out—

“Mommy?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you done yet?”

“Nooooooootttt….yet…”

searching for a threat that didn’t seem to be anywhere near.

“What about now?”

“Yup, finished the line. What do you need?”

“Your computer’s beautiful, Mommy.”

“Um…okay. Is that it?”

“No. Can I have a snack?”

“What do you want?”

“Um…chicken.”

“And fries!” a second small voice pipes up.

“My tummy is kinda hungry, too,” a very deep voice adds from the stairs where I see a hopeful face peering over the rail.

Well, it was a nice five minutes of solid writing time. “Okay, lemme just save—”

*SLAM*

“Oh my God, what are you doing?”

Two suddenly contrite little faces, small fingers up just under their chins, acting like they haven’t done this before. “We’re helping, Mommy.”

“By slamming my computer shut?”

“Ummmmm…” Mind you, I do have complete conversations with them where their side is in perfect stereo. Computer smashes are always in stereo.

“Well, you’re not. What am I always telling you?”

The take a second to look at each other in silent conference. “Um, don’t kick sister?”

“No,” Though I do say that to Trouble quite a bit. “The other thing.”

Trouble tries again. “Don’t put my butt on her head?”

This is where I pulled in a deep breath.

“Nooooo.” Shatner lights up like a lightbulb of magical knowledge. “Mommy always says not to poke your nose, silwy!”

And this is when I rubbed the bridge of my nose to reduce the growing pressure.

“Can I get on my computer, Mommy?” comes the deep voice from on high again.

“Yes,” I say wearily.

“Seeeeeeeeee!” says Shatner, because she loves to be right.

“Not you, Him. I’m always telling you girls to stop trying to smash my computer.”

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.” Yup, back in stereo. (Come to think of it, that’s really not a good sign.)

“Yeah, Ohhhhhhhh.” I lift the lid to make sure the screen isn’t cracked. (It’s not.) A quick save and I leave the computer safely on the table, for about 35 minutes while cooking ensues. Children are now munching, tv is on, I return to my story.

The woods were silent.

Thank God!

Even the small scurrying sounds

Or gnawing, straw sucking and crunching…

of insects and tiny creatures stilled.

Well, my tiny creatures anyway. A deep breath and I’m back in the story.

As if, like him, they sensed a predator.

“Mommy?”

Don’t sigh. Don’t sigh. “Yes?”

“I love you, Mommy.”

I admit. I melt. “Aw honey, I love you, too.”

“Yeah,” Shatner jumps in. “Cause you’re super squishy, Mommy.”

So much for melting. “Yeah, yeah, go eat, kid. I suddenly need to beat up a bad guy with a shifter.”

“Okay!!” A couple of kisses and they’re back to Spongebob. So that’s it. That’s how I get inspired. What I’ll do when they’re civilized people, I have no idea, but until then, bring on the baddies, it’s getting close to dinnertime!

If you’ve got a crazy home life, chime in on the comments. :) I’m always looking other for Mom-vivors. ;)
Dee

If you’re curious about the book above, feel free to click on the cover or you can see the trailer for the book here:

About The Author:

Dee Tenorio has a few reality issues. After much therapy for the problem—if one can call being awakened in the night by visions of hot able-bodied men a problem—she has proved incurable. It turns out she enjoys tormenting herself by writing sizzling, steamy romances of various genres spanning paranormal mystery dramas, contemporaries and romantic comedies. Preferably starring the sexy, somewhat grumpy heroes described above and smart-mouthed heroines who have much better hair than she does.
The best part is, no more therapy bills!

Well, not for Dee, anyway. Her husband and kids, on the other hand…

If you would like to learn more about Dee and her work, please visit her website at www.deetenorio.com, her blog at www.deetenorio.com/Blog or come find her on Twitter: @DeeTenorio (All of these are good ways to follow the ongoing adventures of Trouble, Shatner and Bubba, lol)

Exploring the “Dark Edge of Honor”

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Mike and Sergei, in 'Dark Edge of Honor'Sergei Stolkov is a faithful officer, though his deepest desires go against the Doctrine. A captain with the invading Coalition forces, he believes that self-sacrifice is the most heroic act and his own needs are only valid if they serve the state.

Mike, an operative planted within Cirokko’s rebels, has been ordered to seduce Sergei and pry from him the Coalition’s military secrets. His mission is a success, but as he captures Sergei’s heart, Mike is tempted by his own charade and falls in love.

When the hostile natives of the planet Cirokko make their move, all seems lost. Can Mike and Sergei survive when the Coalition’s internal affairs division takes an interest in what happened in the dusty mountains of Zasidka Pass…?

The premise behind the romance in Dark Edge of Honor isn’t new—falling in love with an enemy soldier is one thing, as a civilian. It’s another entirely as a soldier. Exploring the dynamic of loyalties and ethics between two well-honed professionals takes the reader on an intense roller coaster ride of a journey. It gives the characters common ground and mutual understanding, but it also leaves the door wide open for tension and conflict. Never a dull moment, certainly.

Far from being “just” lovers, Sergei and Mike are seemingly up against impossible odds. Not only does their romance begin as seduction and mutual attraction – the mutual desire has to mature quickly to have any chance of survival against those who’d consider Sergei a traitor and execute Mike as an enemy infiltrator. But both men battle even bigger demons; their background, their lives, their whole past is on the line. Everything that defines them and everything they fought for.

This full-length military science fiction novel began its life in July of 2010 on the internet. Google Docs, to be precise. Rhi and Aleks did tandem writing sessions three to five days a week, churning out between three and five thousand words a session.
Rhi found it difficult to get inside Mike’s head, at first. His character was inspired by a number of various military personnel, none of which were known for their intimately engaging demeanors. She ended up writing a number of stream-of-conscious vignettes, digging around in his past, before things clicked into place. Those pieces are now available as free content on her website.

Aleks kept remembering all the rules of romance writing – and one of them is that the heroes need to have admirable qualities. Neither a spy nor a traitor is really “admirable”. They deceive people, often with disastrous consequences. In a military context, people die. Part of what Aleks wanted to explore was – under which circumstances is treason forgivable. Is love enough? Can suffering pay the debt? What are these things that define us as traitors or heroes?

That, really, is the “dark edge” in the idea of “honor”. Share the journey with Mike and Sergei. Get your copy here.

About the Authors:
Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London. Originally, he studied medieval history with a focus on military history, but he then moved to London, where he works as a financial journalist, dealing daily with the feudal lords of the modern age. His professor would be proud—or horrified—if he knew.
His genres range from horror, science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy to contemporary, thriller and historical erotic gay novels. In his spare time, he goes weight lifting, explores historical sites or meets other writers. He single-handedly sustains three London bookstores with his ever-changing research projects and interests. His current interests include bonsai, tailored suits, chess competitions, World War II, Afghan history, Roman emperors and Russian oligarchs. He loves traveling, action movies, spy novels and ponders taking up boxing.
Visit Aleksandr’s website at http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com and his blog at aleksandrvoinov.blogspot.com.

Rhianon Etzweiler spent her formative years seeped in military culture, and many of her writing inspirations bear that mark – with a definitive twist. Her main genres are science fiction and fantasy, but she enjoys spicing things up with a speculative mixture that sometimes defies an easy label.
Next to Elizabeth Moon and Meredith Ann Pierce, she still counts Jane’s Defense and Popular Science among her influences. “I read articles about cutting edge technology and science, and wondered what impact it would have on society and culture. How we would change, evolve as a species, as a result.”
Visit Rhianon’s website at http://www.rhianonetzweiler.com for links to her blogs and other content.

It Could Only Happen Here

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From Wonderland to Manderley, passing through Barsetshire and Casterbridge, I have spent many pleasurable hours in fictional places – so much so that, at times, they have seemed more real to me than the street outside. Whether they are pseudonyms for actual towns (I live down the road from ‘Casterbridge’ as it happens) or works of pure imagination, I am always fascinated by the landscape of drama. A really strong setting can act as a ghost character in the story, affecting the human players’ moods, influencing their decisions, obstructing or facilitating their happy ever after.

I was aiming for this when I created Goldsands, the fictitious English seaside resort where Erotic Amusements is set. My drifters, chancers, villains and anti-heroes inhabit a world I know very well, having spent most of my life by the sea. My childhood playground of sandcastles and ice-cream altered over time until it became a place for hedonistic excess of a more adult nature.

There’s a seedy, gritty sexiness to the faded seaside resort that I tried to capture in the story. Corruption lies beneath the golden surface, but kindness, courage and love can be found in the most unexpected places too. From the mysterious new girl in town to the smouldering leatherclad henchman of the local crime lord, from the carnival queen bitch to the overzealous local newspaper reporter, all are in thrall to the tacky glamour of their town.

I’d love to hear what your favourite fictional settings are – what makes them so memorable? While you’re thinking about that, here is some more information about Erotic Amusements.

[IMG]http://i1110.photobucket.com/albums/h453/JustineElyot/EroticAmusementsdraft1.jpg[/IMG]

In Goldsands, there are many amusements to be had for those willing to give in to their deepest desires…

The seaside resort town of Goldsands is a place of dreamers and transients who wash in and out like the tide. But its picture-postcard prettiness conceals some sinister realities. Coldhearted mogul Charles Cordwainer owns most of the local businesses, both legitimate and illicit, and more than a few of its residents.

Michelle, Cordwainer’s submissive: despite her loyalty, he plans to turn her over to another man. Flipp, the new girl in town: she has a dark past and a penchant for bondage. Rocky, Cordwainer’s right-hand man: a sexy biker with eyes for Flipp. Laura, Goldsands’s carnival queen: an über-bitch with her sights fixed on Rocky.

Secrets, betrayals, lovers all become intertwined—and when someone starts digging up the dirt on Cordwainer’s empire, nothing will ever be the same…

I always love to connect with new readers, so please do come and find me on Twitter, facebook or Goodreads.

Alternatively, you can have a dig around my website and find out about all the other books and stories I have out there – there are quite a few and most of them hot enough to melt plastic. If that’s your thing, come and dive in.

I’m very proud (and still rather flabbergasted, to be honest) to be releasing this book with Carina Press. I very nearly talked myself out of submitting it to the slush pile, I was so convinced it was too long a shot. You can imagine how far I leapt into the air when I got Angela’s email! The whole process from acceptance to publication has left me lost in admiration for the professionalism and dedication of the Carina crew. Special thanks go to my editor, the wonderful Lynne Anderson, for her keen eye, innate skill and unfailing humour. This has been a great ride – though not in the same way as Flipp’s, ahem, exciting rollercoaster experience with Rocky, but I’ll have to let your read about that for yourselves…

Erotic Amusements is available from the Carina Press website.

Reunited Lovers

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I’ve always loved the reunited lovers theme in romance, regardless of subgenre. The romance always starts off with tension because there had to be a reason these two lovers couldn’t make it the first time. Sometimes it’s something as simple as they were too young to know what they wanted in life. Or, the families of the couple tore them apart. Maybe time and distance proved to be too much. Secrets, lies or insecurities managed to cut through their relationship. One of the characters thought they were protecting the other by walking away … Whatever the reason, the couple once loved each other, or cared deeply for each other, and now they’re finally getting their second chance!

In the case of DEADLY OBSESSION Lilly and Braden were high school sweethearts but were torn apart because of secrets. Both went their separate ways and both ended up in law enforcement. After years in the military, Braden is now the sheriff of the fictional town of Hudson Bay and Lilly is an NSA agent suffering from PTSD.

Circumstances force them together and even though a decade has passed since they’ve seen each other, the attraction and tension between them is hotter than it was before. With a homicidal maniac taunting them at every turn, they’re fighting for their lives and a second chance at love.

What are some of your favorite reunited lovers’ stories? Feel free to share titles. Or if not that theme, what are some of your favorite themes in romance and why? One commenter will be selected to win a digital copy of Deadly Obsession. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this blog post on Friday, August 19 2011 with instructions how to contact me.

(Contest open to all readers, 18 years or older, who are legally allowed to participate in such a contest as allowed by their local laws. By participating in the contest, participants agree to be bound by the decision of the contest sponsor.)

Deadly Obsession now available:

The chilling words of a killer: This is just the beginning…

Ten years ago, Lilly Carmichael left town without an explanation, breaking Braden Donnelly’s heart. The death of her aunt has brought Lilly home–and face to face with memories she thought were long buried. Still getting over a traumatic incident from her work as an NSA agent, Lilly initially dismisses the face at her window as a figment of stress-induced paranoia.

Now the sheriff of Hudson Bay, Braden has spent the last year hunting a sadistic murderer. But his investigation is turned upside down when new evidence indicates that Lilly is the killer’s next target. Determined to protect the woman he’s never stopped loving, Braden must race against the clock to trap a dangerous psychopath—before it’s too late…

A little about me: I’ve been reading romance since I discovered my mom’s hidden stash at a young age and the addiction stayed with me into adulthood. I write dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense. Deadly Obsession is my most recent release from Carina Press. I also write for Harlequin Nocturne (Destined Mate, October 2011), and in early 2012 the first book in my paranormal series will release from NAL/Signet Eclipse. To learn more about me please visit my website, my blog, facebook or find me on twitter @katiereus.

You tell us: Should you always start with the first?

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I think I’m a pretty laid back person about a lot of things. I don’t freak out if the toilet seat gets left up (unless I happen to fall in, in the middle of the night), my house isn’t pin neat but is what I’d call…cluttered, and I don’t have to have every second of my day scheduled. But there is one thing I get a little obsessive about: reading a series from the first book.

I’m the type of reader who finds it incredible difficult to pick up a series mid-book. In fact, I’m often completely baffled when I read reviews that say things like “I’m new to this series, even though this is book 6, so I was a little bit lost but I still enjoyed the book.” Seriously, my skin starts itching if I can’t read the first book. And it’s particularly bad for me right now, with publishers working on digitizing backlists, because some have started with later books in the series, so I can’t get the first book in the series. For me, that means I can’t start the series. Because I must start with the first.

Now, before you think I’m completely insane, I will tell you that there have been a few series I’ve read out of order. But it’s always those where “series” is simply a bunch of standalone books set in the same world. No continuing story thread in the series. If a continuing story thread exists? I have to start at the beginning.

So, you tell us, do you think I’m crazy? (okay, don’t actually answer that) Should readers always start with the first book in a series? Do you feel you always have to start with the first book? Or do you think it’s okay to jump into a series mid-stream. Does it matter if there’s a continuity plot throughout the books, versus standalones set in the same world?

Here’s where I hope it’s revealed I’m not alone in my neurosis…

Photo Friday: Books in unexpected places

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This week, I’ve been spending my time in Melbourne, Australia. I was fortunate to be invited to the RWAustralia conference. This isn’t my first time here, I was also here once 3 years ago, but there’s so much to see and experience, I was thrilled to come back again. Melbourne has an incredible vibe to it, much different than any other big city I’ve been in. It’s a bit artsy, with a vibrant, fun subculture.

That’s seen not only in the different clubs, venues and entertainment available, but also as you walk through the city and experience the different shops. In two of those shops, I encountered books in a very unexpected place…changing room walls.