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Winners, winners and more winners!

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Thank you all for stopping by during the 31 Days of Books Giveaway! It’s Day 32 now, and I have to stop writing blogs and start working on those revisions my editor is waiting for. <G>

Here are the winners:

Winner of Day 31 drawing: Alina K. Field.

Three winners of the Grand Finale drawing:


Debra Yates

Julie Whiteley

I will be contacting all four winners to find out their choice of book, and the three Grand Finale winners also receive a gift card to either Starbucks or Amazon, their preference. Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you all so much for visiting and chatting with me! 🙂

Day 29 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: What’s The Most Romantic Gesture You’ve Ever Heard About?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Congratulations to Juli Temple, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Juli to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

Today’s question (you can apply it to books, TV/movies, or real life): What is the most romantic thing you have ever heard one person doing for another?

For me, it was when my husband (then brand new boyfriend) moved across the country to be with me. He lived on one coast and I lived on the other. We met through work and had a long distance relationship for several months before we realized that stolen weekends weren’t going to cut it, that we had to live in each other’s daily (in the same state!) in order to give this thing a chance. He made sacrifices and left everything he’d ever known because he had faith that we would make it. Here we are ten years later, happily married (and living back on his coast).

My sister told me a story about how her then boyfriend (now husband) secretly took a broken bracelet she adored to the jeweler and had it repaired for her birthday. She loved that more than if he had given her something new.

I also love the part in the movie French Kiss when Meg Ryan’s character Kate sets up the elaborate pretense for Kevin Kline’s Luc that she sold the diamonds for him, and the inspector tells him what she really did.

What about you? What romantic gesture has touched you the most? Comment to be included in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Day 28 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – Romance Heroines: The Good, The Bad and The TSTL

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Congratulations to bn100, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing bn100 to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

Let’s talk heroines: the good, the bad and the TSTL (Too Stupid To Live).

Heroines are hard for me. Even though I’m female, I identify more with the heroes in my books than the heroines. But there are a few heroines (in books, TV or movies) that I can always get behind. The ones who try hard to do the right thing.

Some of the good heroines:

  1. Eve Dallas from the J.D. Robb books
  2. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the series, not the movie)
  3. Judith Hampton from Julie Garwood’s The Secret
  4. Maggie Concannon from Born In Fire by Nora Roberts
  5. Aislinn from The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss

Good heroines do what needs to be done, no matter what it costs them. They are women you admire.

Bad heroines are the ones who are too concerned with themselves to truly share in the love story you’re reading. They are unsympathetic people who you actively dislike and would never hang out with if they were real, the ones who make you wonder what the hero sees in them. (No examples here because I’ve purged them from my memory. Bleh!)

And TSTL? There are dozens of those. These are the heroines whose decisions make no sense. They run out into gunfire after the hero tells them to stay put. They go down in the basement with no light on when they know a serial killer is on the loose. They think they can handle everything, only to fall on their butts (or trip over a tree root running through the forest in their nightclothes in the middle of the night). They’re the ones who believe the Jealous Other Woman’s lame story that the hero really loves her, at which point they run away to nurse their broken hearts. Or quit their jobs because the hero is the boss. Or shoot themselves in the foot in some other dramatic, emotional way. They’re the ones who make you throw the book against the wall.

What are your thoughts on romance heroines? Who are your favorites? Comment to be included in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Day 26 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: Are You a Coffee Drinker Or A Tea Drinker?

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Congratulations to Stephani, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Stephani to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

Today’s debate: coffee or tea?

I am a tea person. I honestly dislike the taste of coffee, though I love the smell. I started drinking tea for a couple of reasons: 1.) To have something to drink when the coffee drinkers were drinking coffee after a dinner and 2.) I’m Irish.

What does being Irish have to do with it? I never realized this until I wrote a workshop about building characters and the traditions passed down through the generations, but one of the reasons I drink tea with milk and sweetener is because that’s how my dad drank it. And where did he pick up that habit? From his parents, who were from—you guessed it—Ireland.

I drink black teas. No herbal for me, though I will occasionally drink chamomile if I have an upset stomach (learned that one from a pediatrician years ago). I will also drink the chamomile straight up, no milk or sugar. The poor chamomile gets lost with that stuff in it. But black teas? They’re fairly strong, sometimes bitter and need the help from milk and sweetener. Note I said milk, not cream. Anyone ever try drinking creamer in tea? It completely masks the taste of the tea, and you find yourself drinking hot creamer. Bleh.

Here in America, we are a coffee society. I will order tea at a restaurant, and I will ask for milk. They bring me creamer. I ask again for milk (as I remove the lemon and honey from my saucer). They look at me funny, but they eventually come back with a small glass of milk. It’s exhausting. However, if you drink coffee, they bring all the fixings, exactly as you would wish.

Now a few years ago, my husband and I went to Ireland. When I went to a restaurant, I ordered tea. That’s it, just tea. Not only did they bring me a big, silver pot of brewed tea (just as they would serve coffee in America), they brought milk and sweetener without me having to ask. My people!

One other fun thing about Ireland: my husband ordered coffee one day and asked for cream. The wait staff looked perplexed, but they eventually brought him some. Apparently one drinks coffee with milk as well.

Now, I’m not dissing coffee. I’m just saying I’m a tea drinker living in a coffee drinking country. My husband occasionally drinks coffee, as does my older son. My younger son has drifted into Tea Land with me. His favorite? Irish Breakfast. <G>

My husband and I went to Hawaii a couple of years ago. We stayed on The Big Island (as West coasters refer to the island of Hawaii), specifically Kona. Of course we found ourselves at a Kona coffee plantation, where my husband tried a blend of coffee referred to as Peaberry. Our tour guide recommended we try the Peaberry without anything in it. Then, if we still wanted to add something after the first taste, we should do so.

My husband tried the Peaberry black, and he was amazed at the flavor. Normally coffee beans grow two to a cherry, flat against each other two halves inside a peanut. But once in a while, the cherry only produces one mutant bean, and this apparently produces a sweeter and less bitter coffee. Because processing the Peaberry is so labor intensive (picking out the mutant beans by hand), it is very expensive, even there in Hawaii. A pound of it cost around $35! We brought some home to my son (just a little package, around $8), and he loved it, too.

So, my name is Deb and I am a tea drinker. My current favorite is English Breakfast and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee blend, which a friend brought back for me from England.

What about you? Are you a coffee person or a tea person? What’s your favorite? Comment to be included in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Day 24 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: What Are Your Pet Peeves About Romance Novels?

Friday, January 24th, 2014

There were no comments yesterday, so no winners today.

This time I wanted to talk about pet peeves when it comes to books. I know you love romance novels just like I do, but what are your pet peeves about them? You know, those things that get under your skin and make you throw the book across the room?

I have a few:

  1. Amnesia. As soon as I see that word, I put down the book.
  2. Stupid heroine. I simply cannot stand a heroine who does things that make no sense. In movies, it is the girl walking in the woods at night in her nightgown or going down into the basement without turning on the light. I shout at the TV. Why is this woman not taking precautions, especially if she knows there is a monster/vampire/psycho killer on the loose? The same things happen in books. The hero tells you to STAY PUT, heroine, because he’s trying to save you from the evil agent/psycho killer/former-best-friend-turned-enemy! So why do you think it’s okay to run out to the car at right this moment? Seriously?
  3. HEA that is too easy. If the hero and heroine are madly in love by the middle of the book, it’s really hard to get that tension back. (I just read one like this.)
  4. Words used incorrectly or spelled incorrectly. Multiple people have looked at the book before it is ever released into the wild. How is it that you think she “lead” them on a wild goose chase? (Should be ‘led’.) Where was the copyeditor on that one?
  5. Wandering body parts. This drives me nuts. His hands slid down her back. (Do they have an owner or are they working independently? I would prefer He slid his hands down her back.) His eyes smiled. (Eyes don’t have lips). He rolled his eyes towards her. (Sounds like a painful bowling game to me!)

What about you? What are your pet peeves when it comes to books? Those who comment will be included in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Day 22 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: The Candy of Your Childhood

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Congratulations to Lisa, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Lisa to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

The other day at work, they brought around a cart of treats for the employees. (It’s a busy time of year right now, and they do this for morale.) Everyone got to pick what they wanted from the cart, and I took a Charleston Chew.



Out here on the west coast, a lot of people at the office had never heard of a Charleston Chew. But when I was a kid on the east coast, my dad would sometimes bring those home for us. He was a steamfitter in New York City and would pick up candy at the train station on his way home from work. Charleston Chew was one of his favorites. A Charleston Chew is a long, nougat candy bar (vanilla, chocolate or strawberry) covered in chocolate. My dad taught us to put them in the freezer. Then when it’s frozen, you whack it on the kitchen counter to break it up into smaller pieces and eat it that way.

I brought a Charleston Chew home from work last week and did just that. 🙂

He also sometimes came home with Swedish fish or my favorite, gummi raspberries and blackberries. You can still find both in bulk candy shops all over the country, and Haribo puts out the gummi raspberries, available in stores. They’re still a favorite.

What about you? What candies did you love in your childhood? Do they still make that candy, or is it hard to find? Those who comment today will be put in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Day 21 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: Let’s talk Sherlock!

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Congratulations to Jules Clemmer, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Jules to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

Are you familiar with the British TV show Sherlock? This version of the iconic detective’s adventures has taken Sherlock Holmes and updated him to a young, 21st century sociopath who thrives on being famous and brilliant. Sherlock is played by the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness), with his partner John Watson played by the wonderful Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug). It should also be noted that Cumberbatch voices Smaug the dragon in the Hobbit movies. In addition, he narrates audio books, including a Sherlock Holmes novel!

I could write a book on how compelling this TV show is. Each season consists of three 90-minute episodes, each one based on a famous Sherlock Holmes case. Seasons 1 and 2 are available on Netflix and DVD. Season 3 started on Sunday night in the U.S. after a 2-year hiatus. Why two years? Because Cumberbatch and Freeman were out of the country filming the above mentioned movies during that time.

The writing is amazing, and the dialogue truly impressive. Cumberbatch’s Sherlock is infuriating and brilliant and sexy all at the same time. (Though that might just be me. I can’t resist intelligent men, especially when they come with cheekbones that could cut glass!) And Freeman’s John Watson is more than a sidekick. He’s a solid character in his own right, an army doctor who recently came home from war in the Middle East, wounded and weary after seeing too much. Somehow these two black sheep forge a deep, meaningful partnership solving cases.

So far my favorite episode was A Scandal in Belgravia, which featured Irene Adler, played by Lara Pulver. This was the first time we ever saw Sherlock distracted by a woman, and Irene definitely challenged him, both intellectually and physically. I totally bought her as the one woman in the world who could capture and hold the elusive Sherlock’s interest.

Season two ended on a cliffhanger that had the fans speculating different scenarios on what had really happened. As a result, people were glued to their TV sets here in the U.S. for the big reveal in the first episode of season 3, The Empty Hearse. I have to say, my favorite scene in that episode was when Mycroft and Sherlock were exchanging quips while playing a board game. It sounds so simple, but the writer nerd in me stood up and sang “Amen!” at the deft brilliance of that scene, both in the writing and the acting. It should be noted that the actor who plays Mycroft Holmes, Mark Gatiss, is one of the co-creators of the show.

Have you seen Sherlock? Are you caught up? What did you think of Sunday night’s episode? (If you haven’t seen it, I hear the PBS website allows you to stream it.) Those who comment today will be put in a drawing to win a paperback title from my backlist!

Day 19 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: What Do You Procrastinate About Doing?

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Congratulations to Janie McGaugh, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Janie to arrange delivery of her choice of book. This is Janie’s second win, so she’ll be put in our Hall of Fame.

I’ve decided to add something to my giveaway. The last post of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway is January 31. On February 1, I will not only pick the name of the winner from those who commented on the January 31 blog post, but I will be doing a special drawing from everyone who ever commented on the blog, including the Hall of Famers. Three winners will be eligible to win both a book and a $15 gift card! I’m looking forward to that one. 🙂

Now I’d like to move on to today’s subject: procrastination.

I have revisions sitting on my desk for my upcoming paranormal, Heart of Stone. It’s the second in my new Atlantis trilogy. Today I have to get going on these or else they won’t get in on time. I’ve had the manuscript printed out and sitting on my desk (the better to edit it) for over a week. Several times I’ve come into my office and sat in my chair with the intention to get going, but something has come up each time to stop me. I can’t help but wonder if that is a valid excuse, or if I am procrastinating.

It’s been said that procrastination comes from that part of our brain that tries to protect us from bad things. Humans are usually motivated by either the pursuit of pleasure or the avoidance of pain. Pleasure can be anything from those candies you love to the satisfaction of a job well done. Pain can be physical, but it can also be emotional.

I know that when I dive into this book, my emotions will be engaged in the story. That’s the good thing. The author putting emotion on the page is what makes the books you love to read so compelling. The painful part comes when I’m deep into the story and I get interrupted by some outside force—a knock on the door, the phone ringing, a text message making my cell phone chime. I get ripped out of the story, and it hurts. I believe my procrastination is coming from that—the avoidance of that pain.

The only way to get around procrastination is to consider what happens if you don’t do what you are procrastinating about. Basically, a greater evil.

Let’s say you’re procrastinating about paying the bills. You know money will be tight this month, and you don’t want to deal with it because it makes you stressed to face that reality. You keep putting it off until tomorrow…then the tomorrow after that, and the one after that. You are temporarily putting off that pain you don’t want to feel.

But let’s take it a step further. What happens if you don’t pay the bills? You start getting hate mail from your creditors, your utilities get turned off, and you get evicted because you didn’t pay the rent. Isn’t that worse than the sinking feelings you get when you have to face that checkbook where the math just isn’t adding up in your favor?

If you think about that outcome, suddenly facing those bills doesn’t seem so bad.

In my case, if I put off working on my revisions, the manuscript will go in late, my editor will not be happy with me, and the publication of the book may be delayed. It’s the second of a trilogy, and the first book, Prodigal Son, came out this past October. Heart of Stone is already coming out exactly a year later than the first one, so the release date getting pushed even further out is bad news for sure. You’re a reader. You know that when you get hooked on a series, you want those books coming out as closely together as possible.

What about you? What do you procrastinate about, and how can you get past whatever is holding you back? What’s the worst case scenario? Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!

Day 16 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: Let’s Talk About Book Prices!

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Congratulations to Janie McGaugh, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Janie to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

Today I thought we could talk about book prices. It’s no secret that the price of paper books has gone up considerably over the past ten or twenty years. I remember being able to go into a bookstore with $20 and walk out with four or five paperbacks. Now that same $20 will get you two or three. It just doesn’t stretch that far anymore.

The increased price of paperbacks has a lot to do with things like the price of paper. Every book is allocated a certain number of pages by the publisher for cost purposes. Writers have to write something of a certain length to be published by a certain publisher or particular line. If your book is too short, you have to add pages. If your book is too long, you have to cut things.

Add in the skyrocketing price of gas in the past few years. Publishers have to ship the books somewhere, and that is costing more. They have to store the books in warehouses, and that costs more. Editors and cover artists have to eat and pay rent, so throw in some cost of living raises. Where are publishers going to get that money? From the cover price of a book. If something costs more to produce, the price to the consumer rises as well.

Enter digital publishing. When producing an ebook, the cost is much less. You don’t have to pay for paper, shipping or storage, but you do still have to pay for the people who edit and format the text and those who create covers for the books. Still, you are usually handing out less money to produce the ebook than its paper counterpart. As a result, the price of the ebook may well be less than the price of the paper one. For example, my book Prodigal Son has a cover price of $14.99 for the trade paperback. (Trade paperbacks are the bigger books. The smaller paperbacks are called mass market paperbacks.) Today on Amazon, the price for the paper book is on sale for $12.17, but the Kindle version is only $8.89.

That’s if a writer is going through a traditional publisher. There are many electronic publishers out there these days. Often these publishers only produce digital books, with the option to add a paper release if sales demand it. Electronic publishers have less overhead (shipping, storage, paper costs) so they are able to price their books less expensively. For instance, the normal cover price of a new digital release from Samhain Publishing is often in the $4.50 to $5.50 range. This means my $20 will once again allow me to buy at least four titles from them.

Enter the independently published author. This is an author who can use the tools available today to publish her own work herself, without involving a third party publisher. Indie authors still need to cover the costs of publishing a book: hiring editors and copyeditors, hiring an artist to design the cover, and paying whatever fees necessary to get her book into the correct formats for all the electronic devices out there. As a result, the author determines the price of the book. In the other models, traditional and electronic publishers determine the price of the book. The author has no control over it.

The plus side for the reader is that an indie author can price her book considerably lower than even electronic publishers because they have less overhead. These days $2.99 seems to be the sweet spot for full price of an independently published ebook. Often you will see the price dip as low as $0.99 or even free as a special promotion. This may be done if this is a new author trying to draw in readers or maybe the first book in a series.

The minus side is that some indie authors don’t go through the editing and copyediting that needs to be done, so the quality of the book may suffer. Not all of them, just a small percentage. I want to make that clear. There are plenty of indie authors who have taken all the steps to turn out a quality product and have done quite well. Debra Holland comes to mind. Also Barbara Freethy, Beth Yarnall, Shannon Donnelly, Susan Squires and Cate Rowan. Some authors have been discovered by traditional publishers after becoming successful indie authors. Some have even made bestseller lists.

Now at cover prices like $.099 to $2.99, my $20 goes even further than before. Digital publishing has changed the book marketplace forever, and independent publishing even more so. But there are still readers who prefer paper to digital, and that’s okay. I don’t think the prices of traditional paperbacks will be dropping anytime soon due to costs beyond the publisher’s control, but there are many wonderful stories out there in digital format, whether produced by a publisher or independently by the author.

I should also point out that many indie authors choose publish this way, so it’s not a case of not cutting it in the traditionally published world. Some authors were award winning, list making, traditionally published authors who stepped out of that world to become award winning, list making, independently published authors. Why would anyone do this? Because publishing their own work gives them more control over how the work is produced. It also, because they are taking all the financial risk, makes it more lucrative than a contract with a traditional publisher. It is entirely a personal choice, and these authors are careful to make sure the quality of their independent work matches anything a publishing house could do.

My goal here was to give you an insight into why books are priced the way they are. I know I’ve been reading more digital these days if only to get more titles for my money. What about you? Have you taken the plunge into digital reading? Have you discovered new authors that way? Tell me your thoughts. Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!

Day 15 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: Goal Check–How Are You Doing With Your Goals?

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Congratulations to Alisha Woods, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Alisha to arrange delivery of her choice of book.

We talked about setting goals at the beginning of the month, and now we’re halfway through January already. I wanted to touch base with you all and see how you’re doing with your goals. Have you been able to make some progress in getting where you want to go?

I’ve had a slower start than I anticipated. My family’s been sick, and whenever that happens, I’m too busy running to manage my own tasks, never mind start anything new. However, I have taken some small actions to start my journey.

I’ve pulled out the materials for my eating plan, and I’ve started eating better quality foods, even if I’m not following the program completely yet. Today I’m listening to the motivational CD that comes with the kit. That’s all I can manage until everyone gets well again, and that’s okay. It’s something. It’s a start.

My revisions arrived for my second paranormal. I haven’t started my edits/rewrites yet. I’m thinking about how I want to approach things. This is my writing process. I’m a percolator. I have to let the ideas simmer in my mind for a while until they’re done. Then I hit the ground running. Again, I’ve taken small steps: I talked to my editor on the phone about the changes, and I printed out the manuscript. It’s sitting right here on my desk, and I already have an idea about how to tweak the beginning. It’s movement in the right direction.

What about you? Have you had a chance to take any action, no matter how small, towards your goals? Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!