A Little Fantasy Come True Anyone?

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Well, let’s face it, we all read to escape a little. Or sometimes a lot, depending on the day. When I started writing The Best Mistake it was just for fun (yes, writing is the most delicious fun in the world. Give me a bathrobe, a cup of coffee, and a laptop. I am in heaven). The premise popped into my mind that IF a heroine had a secret (maybe even to her) attraction to someone other than her boyfriend whom she adores (uhm, don’t tell my husband, but yeah, there’s been a wayward thought or two now and then about a certain rock star who shall remain nameless) and she accidentally found herself in bed with this hunky guy, what would happen next?

Okay, she’s a nice girl (me too, pinky swear) but let’s face it, sexual attraction exists, it isn’t for just one person in our entire life usually, and it makes the world go around.

Uhm, I loved the idea of the conflict. So I did what was the most wicked thing I could imagine and I stuck my poor heroine in just that situation to see what she would do.

Soooo…dying to know (this is literary research…very highbrow). Ladies and gentlemen, on a purely hypothetical basis, what would YOU do? How would you react if your little fantasy was almost coming true? Go for it? Or be…good?

Can’t wait to hear your answers And I swear I won’t tell.

The Best Mistake now available: www.carinapress.com

You Tell Us: What are you reading right now?

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I feel like this is kind of a lame question in the You Tell Us series, but I’ll tell you two things: Today is actually a day off for me (it’s a holiday AND I just spent 7 days straight traveling for work/working) and I actually really love to hear what people are reading. I’m pretty endlessly fascinated by all of the different books that people who have a common thread (this common thread being anyone who reads the Carina Press blog) read. Also, I’m prone to looking up books that are mentioned and I’ve never failed to find something new to read from this type of discussion.

So…humor me and tell me what you’re reading. Don’t forget to tell us the book title and author. Let us know what you think of it. If you’re in between books, tell me what you just read. And hey, if you want to talk about how you came to end up reading the book, or who the publisher is (or if it’s self-published) I love that type of detail!

Beloved Books Of Youth

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By Jenny Bullough, Manager of Digital Content for Harlequin and Carina Press, Carina Press acquisitions team member, and book-loving mom

I had the best time shopping for Christmas gifts for my 7 year old daughter this year. She’s finally reading chapter books – devouring them, in fact, at an incredible rate – so I decided it was time to gift her with some of the books I loved at her age. My original copies had already been passed down to my younger sisters, so I got to shop for brand-new books for my little bookworm!

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun shopping for books. (Actually I can’t remember the last time I shopped for print books!) Each shelf brought back a flood of memories, of afternoons whiled away immersed in a book, of worlds visited, characters loved, stories read and reread and reread again. Little House on the Prairie. Tuck Everlasting. The Railway Children. Harriet the Spy. These books and others firmly entrenched my lifelong love of reading. I can’t wait to see those worlds open up for my daughter, and revisit them through her eyes! And I can’t wait to find out which books will become her beloved favorites to be read and reread.

Which made me wonder if there are other classics out there that I somehow missed. What are the favorite books that you remember from youth and childhood? What are the “must-read” classics that you’re passing on to your kids or younger relations? And what are the “new classics” that your kids are devouring?

Striker by KyAnn Waters

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Do you have a favorite sport? A favorite player? I do. I have a serious love for soccer…and soccer players. From MLS to our local neighborhood team, my family and I love soccer. Indoor is fast and aggressive and there is nothing better than a summer evening watching an MLS game. The crowds are loud and the excitement is addicting. And we haven’t even talked about those hard calves, long sinewy thighs, muscular arms, and corded abs. Forwards sprinting down the field, intricate footwork, scoring by the strikers and impossible saves by the keepers. Not sure what a striker, sweeper, stopper or keeper is? Here are the basics.

Striker – A team’s power scorer.

Forwards – Players who score goals – the power scorers are called Strikers

Midfielders – players between the forwards and the fullbacks

Stoppers – The stopper is good at stopping attacks. The stopper is strong and tough and helps defenders mark the opposing teams striker.

Fullbacks – defenders closest to their goal

Sweepers – Sweepers are aggressive defenders. The sweeper stops breakaways and “sweeps” the ball, clearing with long kicks.

Goalkeeper “keeper” – defends the goal

Now for the story. Hot soccer player meets up and coming sport’s writer and there is more than scoring on the field.


Sports writer Max Myers just discovered he lives next door to the hottest soccer player to hit the field. If he scores a coveted interview with the reclusive striker for the Denver Blaze, he could take himself from sports blogger to mainstream sports authority.

Riley Grayson has no interest in interviews or in outing his private life to the public. He wants to be known for the scoring he does on the field and not in the sack. But Max is a temptation he can’t resist. Taking a chance, Riley and Max discover they have more in common than passion for soccer and hot sex between the sheets.

Just as they begin to trust each other outside the bedroom, Max is put in a no-win situation: write an article about Riley exposing accusations of drug use, or risk destroying his own credibility. If he does, he’ll lose Riley. If he doesn’t, he’ll lose everything he’s worked hard to achieve.

Click here to read an excerpt

To Purchase Striker click here

Visit me at www.KyAnnWaters.com

on facebook at www.facebook.com/kyannwaters

or chat me up on www.groups.yahoo.com/group/eroticcravings

If you would like to win a copy of Striker, tell me about your favorite sport.

In Praise of Nerd Heroes

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Hi, I’m Zoë, and I’m a nerd lover.

Hi, Zoë.

As a romance reader, and romance author, I know I’m supposed to love the big, brooding, badass alpha hero.  He’s the guy who can do everything—lead an assault on a nest of vampires, single-handedly take down the drug cartel, defeat the spy ring while flawlessly dancing a waltz and making all the maidens weak with desire.  These heroes are larger than life, and yes, they definitely make a woman’s pulse speed up.

But give me a shy, smart guy, and watch me swoon.

There’s something so utterly charming, something that makes me all weak in the knees when a man who’s known for his brains suddenly loses his composure around the woman he fancies.  He doesn’t have the smooth moves, he doesn’t know the right words to say.  He may even stammer and blush.  He’s more comfortable thinking up complex equations than seducing, and that makes his awkward attempts at wooing all the more irresistible.

Of course, I’m also talking about a romance hero, so my favorite nerd heroes can also kick butt.  It wouldn’t quite work if the heroine had to keep bailing him out, would it?  So underneath his button-down shirt or uniform, you’re going to find a body that’s just as sexy and capable as his brains.  Oh, and you know that famous line from the film “Revenge of the Nerds?”  “All Jocks ever think about is sports, all [nerds] ever think about is sex.” Yeah, that’s definitely true.  Smart guy + sex = very attentive, creative lovemaking.

Lieutenant Nils Calder, the hero of CHAIN REACTION, is the top mind in the 8th Wing’s Engineering Corps.  (The other 8th Wing soldiers refer to Engineering as NerdWorks.)  He’s also the very last person Lieutenant Celene Jur wants accompanying her on her mission of vengeance.  But behind Nils’s quiet, nerdy exterior beats the heart of a true warrior.  All he has to do is survive the mission—and survive Celene.

Tell me some of your favorite nerd heroes!  I’ll pick a winner from one of the comments to receive a copy of CHAIN REACTION.


You can read an excerpt of CHAIN REACTION here.

Order: Carina, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook


Zoë is a RITA-award nominated romance author who loves kickass heroines and heroes who love kickass heroines.  Her books include the paranormal historical Hellraisers series and the acclaimed Blades of the Rose historical paranormal adventure series. she enjoys baking, tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ’80s.  She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, live in Los Angeles.

Website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr

Attack of the Snot Monkeys!

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The Canvas Thief by P. KirbyTwas the night before Monday, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring … except for my husband and me, as we were embroiled in a deep intellectual discussion.

“I can’t believe I have to go work tomorrow and I’m sick,” I whined. “You gave me a cold.”

“No, you gave me a cold,” he replied. Sneeze!

“Nuh-uh. You did.”

“No, you did…” And so it went. Sniffle, sneeze, blow nose, drop used tissue on the living room floor, because illness is fabulous reason to be utterly revolting. Our population of dust bunnies ran for cover as the new guys in town, slimy wadded-up tissues, took over the carpet and got kicked under the couch.

On television, a guy in a car commercial yelled at me about the Sale to End All Sales (didn’t they have one of those last week?). I tuned him out–an easy matter since my ears were partially clogged by the cold. That ad was replaced by another featuring sock monkeys selling something. I don’t know what because I was hissing at the TV like a cat.  Hsssss!

“Look, it’s your favorite,” said my husband. “Sock monkeys! You know you love ’em. I’m getting you one for your birthday.”

“Noo! No sock monkeys! We hates them, Precious. Hates them!” (Whaaat? I’m a geek. I can’t go more than a few hours without some geekish quote.)

Except, with my tuffy snose it came out, “No snot monkeys!”

My husband laughed. “Snot monkeys? What’s a snot monkey?”

“It’s…” My attention fell on the army of used tissues. “This.” I picked up a tissue, “This is a snot monkey.”

And henceforth, at Casa de Kirby, used tissues were known as snot monkeys, another addition to our odd family lexicon that includes birdles (birds) houndilete (greyhound), and junkacitos (chachkes), the latter two being strange Spanglish-esque inventions.

I bet every family has a similar collection of weird made-up-words. It’s like a unique culture and it’s part of what makes “family” synonymous with “home.” Home is where folks speak your language.

Benjamin, the hero in The Canvas Thief, longs for that sense of home. As a comic book character come to life, he is, so to speak, a kind of orphan. Sprung fully formed, as it were, from the pages of a book, he doesn’t even have childhood memories. As such he understands the value of family more than many. Unfortunately, he’s also overly impulsive, and his desperation to go “home” leads to his completely NOT-meet-cute moment with Maya, the heroine in The Canvas Thief.

The Canvas Thief is a love story, but it’s also the story of how Benjamin finally finds his way home. Which, I guess, is a roundabout way of saying … it’s a love story.

My question to you is: “What are some of your family’s ‘Snot monkeys?'”

A lifelong resident of the desert southwest, P. Kirby grew up in El Paso, Texas and is a graduate of New Mexico State University. After about a decade in the grownup workforce, she reached the point where promotion meant becoming management. *Shudder* She dropped out to become a cliché: a starving artist/writer. Home is a tiny house in the desert, shared with her long-suffering husband. She is co-owned by an Arabian horse and a neurotic greyhound. She has never owned, or been owned, by a cat. Please stop by and visit at her blog, and on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

It’s All About the Boots

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Amazon Heat is the product of a great friendship, a long car ride, and the general goofiness that accompanies us wherever we go.  On a car pool to the monthly Liberty States Fiction Writers meeting, we decided that the paranormal market needed an injection of fun. We all love vampires, but they’re all so dark and broody. What about fun stories? Stories more campy than melodramatic?

Ideas were tossed around, silliness ensued, and we finally settled on a kick-butt, Wonder Woman and Greek mythology inspired world in which to drop our heroine. We totally cherry picked the good stuff from the myths, like super strength and a military-like civilization. We tossed out the things that are too weird even for us, like the fact that the mythological Amazons sliced off their left breasts so their aim with a bow would be truer. Ouch, and ewww.

The entire story was outlined at a New Jersey diner, and Amazon Heat was born just a few, thoroughly enjoyable weeks later from a love of Wonder Woman and the Amazons of Greek mythology. Cause who doesn’t love a girl who can kick butt, in cool boots no less?

Who is your favorite kick-butt heroine? Why? And does she wear cool boots?

AMAZON HEAT released January 9th from Carina Press.

Two years ago, ethnobotanist Dr. Elizabeth DeMarco, driven by grief to find a cure for cancer, left her lover mid-proposal to accept a position on a research expedition to the Amazon Rainforest. Kidnapped by guerrillas, she was saved by warriors from the secret all-female civilization of the ancient Amazons. She has been kept prisoner since in the Amazon’s supernaturally hidden valley.

Despite Elizabeth’s rejection, anthropologist Logan Spencer never stopped searching for her.  While consulting on a mass grave uncovered in the remote Brazilian interior near the place Elizabeth was kidnapped, Logan falls from a cliff.  On the brink of death, he is collected by the Amazons and magically healed. When Logan wakes, the first person he sees is his beloved Elizabeth.  Unfortunately, their reunion is less than joyful. The mystical medicine is changing Logan.  But there’s no time to study the side-effects. The Amazons plan to steal Logan’s DNA, then kill him.  Logan and Elizabeth must escape before dawn or Logan is doomed.  Getting him out of the hidden valley won’t be easy.  The Amazon’s supernatural powers make the task all but impossible.

Amazon Heat is now available at Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble. Read an excerpt here.

Melinda Leigh is a mom, a dog lover, and a second degree black belt in kenpo karate. In addition to writing paranormal romance for Carina Press, she is also the author of She Can Run, a kindle bestselling romantic suspense released in November 2011 from Montlake Romance. Find out more Melinda: website / facebook / twitter

Rayna Vause is fascinated by the paranormal and she loves a good romance as well, which probably explains why these two elements perpetually crop up in her writing. When she takes off her writer hat she is a martial artist, video game lover, Disney enthusiast, and a Pop Tart aficionado.  Find out more about Rayna: website / facebook / twitter

Melinda and Rayna blog together at http://AttackingThePage.com

How a Book Was Born

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So, my second Carina release was this week and after pirates, I changed tack and went for Vikings.

I blame Deb. Because it’s all her fault, this one. There we were, knee deep in edits for my pirate book and she said ‘Have you ever thought about doing an historical? I think you’ve got the voice for it.’ She said this two days before I left for Norway, and between that comment and the sheer awesomeness of Norway, a book was born.

So a week after she’d said that, I was walking around Geirangerfjord and a character came to me. One who fit the landscape, which is stark and beautiful, silent and seemingly built for secrets. My character was as silent as the fjords, and had a secret too, and that was where the book started. By the waterfall in Geiranger.

Right here in fact:


Then, on our way out the fjord, my husband spotted this:


After that it snowballed and I ended up with a book…

A few fun facts about The Viking’s Sacrifice and how it came to be.

Whilst in Norway I bought the bronze Mjollnir that Einar wears in the book – it’s a copy of an original 9th century design.

Einar was originally named Hrolf – no, I don’t know why, the name just seemed to fit – until a beta reader commented that ‘When I try to pronounce it, it sounds like my cat sicking up a furball’. Cue name change.

Our guide for a trip to a glacier, the irrepressible Olaf, was the one who told me ‘Viking men had as many wives as they could afford. Or stand.’

And this is what we ended up with.


Viking raiders destroyed Wilda’s home. She witnessed the murder of her mother and would have been killed herself if it weren’t for the Viking boy Einar, who saved her from his ruthless brother. The blood and murder left Wilda cold and shorn of feeling.

Eight years later, the heathens return for Wilda. As a captive in the Viking village, she finds protection and silent comfort in the man who once gallantly saved her.

Einar has been cursed to silence by his brother. With the dark net of his brother’s power cast over their village, silence is a small price to pay for his family’s safety. But Einar is immediately drawn to Wilda, and the need to protect her from his brother awakens his Viking courage. Can Einar break his brother’s curse in time to save the village and the woman he loves?

The Viking’s Sacrifice is available now from Carina Press.

Julia Knight was born and lives in Sussex, UK. You can find her on twitter and facebook, or find out about all her books at her website.

We are women, hear us roar…

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Okay, I’m old. I retired in February from my day job of 30 years. And I was some kind of scared. I like quilting, I like cooking, I even like wearing aprons (because in addition to being old, I spill everything), and I love movies that were made in the middle of the last century. I was very afraid that once I didn’t go in to work every day, I would become Grandma Walton, right down to the thick stockings and the sensible shoes.

Yes. Scared.

But, in addition to being vaguely geriatric, I am a writer. Even better than that, I am a writer with a new book.

One of my very favorite parts of the romance novel industry is that it’s all about the empowerment of women. Grace becomes empowered right up the “hear me roar” point in ONE MORE SUMMER. If it wasn’t anyway, since it was the easiest-to-write and hardest-to-end story I’ve ever written, it truly became the book of my heart when she reached that place. I was right there with her, and I hope you will be, too.

In retrospect, it didn’t have one thing to do with how old she was, what color her roots were, or what she liked to do; it had to do with the courage to keep on walking forward no matter how much her feet hurt. And it had to do with becoming fearless when she faced life-changing experiences.

Did I mention that I’m old, that my life has changed incredibly in the last year, that I’m a lot like Grandma Walton? I am all those things, but I’m not scared. Not a bit.

Hear me roar.

I’d love to have you visit my website http://lizflaherty.com or http://wordwranglers.blogspot.com/ where I hang out with some of my best writer friends.
ONE MORE SUMMER is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other major online retailers.

Grace has taken care of her widowed father her entire adult life and the ornery old goat has finally died. She has no job, no skills and very little money, and has heard her father’s prediction that no decent man would ever want her so often she accepts it as fact.

But she does have a big old house on Lawyers Row in Peacock, Tennessee. She opens a rooming house and quickly gathers a motley crew of tenants: Promise, Grace’s best friend since kindergarten, who’s fighting cancer; Maxie, an aging soap opera actress who hasn’t lost her flair for the dramatic; Jonah, a sweet, gullible old man with a crush on Maxie.

And Dillon, Grace’s brother’s best friend, who stood her up on the night of her senior prom and has regretted it ever since. Dillon rents Grace’s guest house for the summer and hopes to make up for lost time and past hurts—but first, he’ll have to convince Grace that she’s worth loving…

Take a Liking to a Viking

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I grew up in New Jersey and moved to Iowa to attend college which is where I met my husband (in a strange but beside-the-point story). And while we’re busy living out our own happily-ever-after here in Iowa, part of me still considers New Jersey my home. New Jersey and Iowa are very different but the one thing they do have in common is that they’re two of the most maligned states in the Union. One is synonymous in people’s minds with pollution, crime families and reality TV. The other with corn, tractors and caucuses. And really those are the kinder generalizations. Now, it might be that I’m just hyper-aware of these things, in the same way that when you’re pregnant it seems like every other woman you see is pregnant too, but these two states get picked on a lot. And I love them both.

I set my new book Demon Crossings in Iowa and I’ve been fielding a lot of “why Iowa” questions. Considering some of the misperceptions floating around about my adopted state, I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain a little bit about the where and why of the setting. Demon Crossings is based on Norse mythology and I wanted to set the story somewhere in America with Scandinavian roots. We love to camp in the driftless area of Iowa (called that because it was not glacierized during the last glacial period). It’s a beautiful, hillier, more wooded corner of the state just west of the Mississippi. It was also settled by Norwegian immigrants who remain very proud of their heritage.

For the story, I wanted a small community bound by a shared heritage. I wanted someplace isolated enough to keep a secret. And I wanted a town that felt completely and utterly mundane even though its people were anything but normal. So…Iowa. Here are some pics to set the scene:

(Thank you MP Mitchell for permission to use these beautiful photos.)

This is the setting for Demon Crossings. Here’s the blurb:

Private investigator Grace tracks a kidnapped child to middle-of-nowhere Iowa. Encountering a strange creature she knows can’t be a local animal, she doesn’t need her psychic abilities to figure out the sleepy town is not what it seems. When she meets the intriguing Aiden, she’s plunged into a world of Norse gods and fire demons where the Wild Hunt still rides the night.

Aiden needs Grace’s help to cross the portal between worlds and rescue his daughter. Grace is unlike any woman he’s ever met. He’s drawn to her courage, distressed by her vulnerability and doubtful of her motives. But he knows that her visions are the key to defeating the enemy and bringing everyone home alive.

Grace wants a future with Aiden, even if it means she’ll never have a normal life. When a test run to the portal takes a terrifying turn, they must learn to finally trust each other or Aiden’s daughter, and their chance at love, will be lost forever…

If you’re interested in learning more about the parts of Norse mythology I used in the story, I’m running a series of posts about that on my blog here.

Thanks for letting me introduce you to the world of Demon Crossings. Hope you come visit!

And if you’d like to visit me

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So, seriously, tell me what it is about IA and NJ that makes them such easy targets. I know this is not all in my head.