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Day 12 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: What Do You Do to Shake Off a Bad Mood?

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

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

I’m keeping the topic light today since revisions just arrived for the second book in my paranormal trilogy, HEART OF STONE, and I need to start working on them. I saw something on Facebook the other day that gave me the idea for this post, and as someone who often takes on more stress than she should, I’d really like to get your thoughts on what you do when you’re having a bad day.

I realized this week that I’ve been kind of cranky. I’m generally an optimistic person, so whenever my mood lingers in the black cloud area, I start looking for ways to get me out of that mindset. One thing I realized early on in adulthood is that I really need to read romances in order to hang onto my optimism. If I go long weeks without reading, I turn into Little Miss Crankypants. Isn’t it amazing how something so simple, something I love to do, keeps my spirits up?

When I’m stressed out and need to clear my thoughts, the other thing I do aside from reading is play computer games like Wedding Dash or Diner Dash or my newfound favorite, any of the Emily Delicious games.

And, of course, there is always chocolate.

What about you? What do you do when you’re in a bad mood? How do you shake it off so you can get on with your day?

Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!



Day 11 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: Historical Heroines–How Experienced Can/Should They Be?

Saturday, January 11th, 2014

Congratulations to Yati Hadi, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Yati to arrange delivery of her choice of book. Yati has won twice now, which puts her into the Hall of Fame with Raonaid and Kitty!

Well, you all had definite opinions as to whether or not a couple needed to talk marriage in order to reach Happily Ever After status in a romance novel. The next topic I’d like to bring up is Historical Heroines—How Experienced Can/Should They Be?

I’ve written thirteen historical romances. My first book, ONCE A MISTRESS, has your standard virginal heroine who’s fairly ignorant about sex. She’s the eighteen year old daughter of a wealthy businessman in 17th century Jamaica. With all the pirate types running around the island in 1680, naturally her father would keep her closely guarded at all times. This fits with the story. But I was thirty years old and married with two kids when I wrote the book, and I quickly realized it was going to be hard for me to write from that innocent perspective all the time. So I started looking for ways to make my heroines more experienced, but still believable for the time period.

My next book was a Western called DONOVAN’S BED. Sarah Calhoun had a scandal in her past. She had actually fallen in love and given herself to the wrong man (which later cost her more than she could ever imagine). So this heroine is a little sexually experienced, and the scandal is an integral part of the plot. It changes how people in her small, Wyoming town see her.

Then I wrote THE LAWMAN’S SURRENDER, the follow-up to DONOVAN’S BED. The heroine in this book is Sarah’s sister Susannah, the gorgeous singer who travels around the west performing for a living. Because of the places where Susannah hangs out, she’s no dummy when it comes to men and what they want, but she has never slept with one. So here we have a virginal heroine with knowledge but no firsthand experience.

I then switched to Regency England with A NECESSARY HUSBAND. I got around the experience/sexual knowledge thing by making the heroine a widow. Problem solved. Yet in the follow-up to that book, A NECESSARY BRIDE, my heroine was once more an inexperienced woman, but she was an American with a sailor for a brother, so she had some idea of how things worked.

I stuck in Regency England for a while. In THREE NIGHTS…, the book opens where the virginal heroine ends up trading her innocence to the hero for her father’s life. She’s another one who has seen the darker side of life (her father is a compulsive gambler), but has never experienced anything intimate—until she makes this bargain with our hero.

In JUST ONE TOUCH, I had the daughter of a duke who had been kidnapped and terrorized at age fifteen and had since lived her life cloistered away at her father’s estate, away from the world. While she was not raped, the men who took her made her very much aware of the baser side of their natures. When her father realizes he’s dying, he has to find a husband for our heroine to watch over her.

In TWO WEEKS WITH A STRANGER, my heroine is married to the hero, but it is a marriage of convenience, and she soon realizes she needs to seduce her husband to make him fall in love with her in order to have the relationship she craves.

As you can see, I’ve found different ways to give historical heroines different levels of sexual knowledge or experience to make them more realistic for me to write. But what do you think? Do you believe historical heroines should be ignorant/inexperienced when it comes to men? Or is it more fun when the heroine has some firsthand experience? Or maybe somewhere in the middle, like Susannah from THE LAWMAN’S SURRENDER?

Tell me what you think. Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!



Day 9 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – We’re talking Justified!

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

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

I thought I’d change up the pace. We’ve been talking books, but I want to switch to TV for a minute. Specifically the FX program, Justified.

For those who’ve never seen it, Justified is a show based on a short story by Elmore Leonard called Fire In The Hole. Leonard was directly involved in the creation of the TV series based on his characters, and the world lost a great talent when he died back in August 2013. (Guess we got back to books after all, huh?)

The hero of the show is U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, who is a throwback to the lawmen of the Old West, right down to the hat. He’s played to sexy, swaggering perfection by actor Timothy Olyphant. But Raylan isn’t perfect. The running gag in the first several episodes is that he keeps shooting people. The shootings are justified (wink, wink), but the frequency is still causing the Marshal service a bit of a headache. Raylan is smart and unafraid when dealing with the bad guys. It’s only his personal life where he becomes challenged.

Raylan comes from rural Kentucky, a place called Harlan County. He’s managed to escape to Miami, but at the end of the first episode, the Marshals assign him back to his home state as punishment, which is the worst thing that could happen to Raylan…but the best thing that could happen to the show. Raylan has history with the people in Harlan County. Everyone has known him his entire life, which adds a whole different level to his interactions with them in his role as U.S. Marshal. To add insult to injury, Raylan’s father Arlo is a well-known petty crook, and the two men do not see eye-to-eye on anything.

I have an ongoing debate on Twitter with authors Teresa Medeiros and Kierstan Krum as to which one of us can claim Raylan as her TV husband. <G>

Raylan’s nemesis is Boyd Crowder, a guy from a family of known criminals there in the ‘hollow.’ His family and Raylan’s go way back; in fact Raylan and Boyd even worked the mines together as young men. Performing such a dangerous job, they frequently had to watch each others’ backs in order to stay alive, and that relationship plays into their interactions years later whenever they’re on opposite sides of the law.

Boyd Crowder is a fascinating character, and Walton Goggins, who plays him, manages to finesse every nuance he can. Like Raylan, Boyd knows everyone in the area and is even related to some of them. Boyd Crowder is almost always the smartest man in the room, and you never know what he’s going to do. There are times he’s out to kill Raylan and other times when he teams up with him to defeat a common foe. Boyd never does anything without a darned good reason. And his romance with Ava, his brother’s widow, is touching and relatable. You find yourself cheering for Boyd to succeed, even though he’s supposed to be the bad guy.

That’s what makes Justified so compelling. Fantastic characters, great writing, wonderful actors. If you haven’t seen it, the first four seasons are out there for rental, purchase or streaming, and Season 5 just started on FX on Tuesday.

Whether you’ve seen it or not, feel free to join in the discussion. Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!



Day 8 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – Which Authors Are On Your Auto-buy List?

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

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

Yesterday we were chatting about glomming books, so today it only seems natural that we segue into an easy topic for every reader: Who are your favorite authors?

I said easy, but as every reader knows, it’s hard to name only one! When I’m asked this question, I have to refer to my auto-buy list. Who are the authors whose books I buy without even reading the back cover? Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb is one, right off the bat. She has been one of my favorites since I read her first book back in the early 80’s. Nora was the first author who made me start noticing who actually wrote the book I had so enjoyed. I remember being confused once because I didn’t get the same feeling from a book I had just finished, and then I realized that what I had just read was by a different author with the same last name. Nora Roberts became the first author on my auto-buy list.

Since then she has been joined by Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle, Marjorie M. Liu, Robin D. Owens, Susan Squires, Cate Rowan, Susan Meier, Jenna Kernan, Beth Yarnall, Shannon Donnelly and Mercedes Lackey. There are more, but those are the top tiers.

What about you? Who are the favorite authors on your auto-buy list? Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!



Day 7 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – Are You A Glommer?

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

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

To glom – 1. To catch or grab; 2. glom onto – to take hold or possession of

Glom is a slang word that readers use when they discover a new author. If they enjoy one of an author’s books, they may well go out and glom (buy) her entire backlist.

My name is Debra Mullins, and I am a glommer.

When I find an author that I love, the very first thing I do is go out and see what other books she has, especially if the book I read was somewhere in the middle of a series. Of course, I want the other books of that series so I can read them one after the other and find out what I’ve missed!

When I enjoy an author, I will often give copies of her books as gifts. I have a niece who loves to read, and she especially likes mysteries and romantic suspense. When I discovered Marie Force, I sent my niece the first four books of the Fatal series for her birthday (there were only four out at the time). One of the great things about ebooks is you can email them far distances in the blink of an eye. And once my niece gets into a series, she buys the rest of the books as fast as she can.

I hooked my sister on Robin D. Owens the same way. That’s right. I’m a book pusher. 🙂

There’s nothing more exciting than discovering a new author, unless it’s learning that said author also has a pile of backlist titles just waiting to be gobbled up by an eager reader such as yourself.

Are you guilty of glomming? What authors/series have you glommed as soon as you discovered them? Those who comment get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!



Day 6 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway: If I Had a Time Machine…

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Congratulations to  Raonaid Luckwell, who won yesterday’s drawing! I’ll be emailing Raonaid to arrange delivery of her choice of book. This is the second time Raonaid has won, which makes her the first inductee into the Hall of Fame!

Yesterday was a tough day. I had plans to write, but my husband got sick, and I ended up running around taking care of his household stuff as well as my own (taking down the Christmas tree, grocery shopping, getting dinner, etc.). This put a serious crimp in my plans to spend a quiet Sunday writing blogs and, oh yeah, maybe a book. 😛 I got the household stuff done, but my writing time shrank down considerably.

I made a random comment on Facebook about wishing I had a time machine or the DeLaurean from Back to the Future or a Time Turner like Hermione Granger did in the J.K. Rowling novels. Lots of people Liked it, and that got me thinking this might be a fun discussion on the blog today. So tell me, have you ever had days like that? What do you do when your carefully laid out schedule gets thrown out the window?

Share your time traveling dreams in the comments section and get entered in today’s drawing for a free paperback title from my backlist!



Day 5 of the 31 Days of Books Giveaway – Stories We Can’t Resist

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

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

Let’s talk about those stories you can’t resist. Whether it’s a certain romance novel trope like secret babies or marriages of convenience or a type of book or setting like paranormal or Scotland, we all have those books that we gravitate towards, the ones we can’t resist.

For me, I love secret identity stories. Think Superman or Zorro. I always find myself writing one a secret identity story every couple of books or so. I love the reveal moments, when the rest of the world is exposed to the character’s secret identity. The CW has a great show on now called Arrow, which is a take on the Green Arrow comic. Every time someone finds out that Oliver Queen is really the vigilante, I love it.

I also have some secret identities in a few of my books. I have El Moreno the pirate in ONCE A MISTRESS, Jack Donovan aka Blade the bounty hunter in DONOVAN’S BED and a highwayman who pops up in two of my Nevarton Chase series (TEMPTING A PROPER LADY and TOO WICKED TO LOVE). Book three of that series, which I am still writing, is about the highwayman and who he really is. So if you have a secret identity story, you’ve got me at hello. 🙂

I also love anything to do with Atlantis. In my most recent release, PRODIGAL SON, the first of a paranormal trilogy, the hero is a bounty hunter who has super powers he inherited from his ancestors in Atlantis. So I manage to do a secret identity with a side of Atlantis. 🙂

I love psychic abilities and mermaids as well. (My Atlantis characters all have psychic abilities.) But there are so few mermaid stories out there. Some good ones are THE LAST MERMAID by Shana Abé and the Water Lilies series by Deborah Smith (ALICE AT HEART is the first one). Marjorie M. Liu did a merman in her book SOUL SONG. Some day I will write a mermaid book of my own, but the right story hasn’t manifested in my brain yet.

What about you? What flavors of books do you love? As always, anyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing for a paperback book from my backlist!



Fourth Post in the 31 Day Book Giveaway: eBooks vs. Paper – What Do You Think?

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

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

Today I’d like to talk about how you like to read. Do you prefer eBook or paperback?

Lots of people I know adore holding a book in their hands. They love the smell of the paper. They swear they will never read electronically.

I used to be one of these people. Even though I work with computers in my day job, I was suspicious of e-readers. Because I loved holding the book in my hands. I loved the smell of the paper. I swore I would never read electronically. (Sound familiar?) I have shelves and shelves of books in my house, dating back over twenty years. Old favorites. Duplicates of some that had started to fall apart because I’d re-read them so much. A TBR pile that never seems to get smaller. I was a paperback reader.

Then one year my family got me a Kindle for my birthday, and that was it. Suddenly I had all my books right in my hand in one convenient device. Going on vacation? You don’t have to pack a bag of books anymore. Just bring your e-reader fully loaded! Takes up less space, and you don’t have to guess about what you might want to read next because you have all your books with you. (Downside: You do have to turn it off at take-off and landing, which is not true of a paper book.) Is it two in the morning and you just finished a book in a series and need the next one right now? Click a button and it pops on your e-reader in seconds. For those who love convenience and instant gratification, e-readers are for you.

Not to mention eBooks are the only way to access some amazing indie authors. Love paranormal/fantasy? I found Cate Rowan in the electronic world, and she is fabulous!

I also like eBooks because it saves trees and takes up less space in my house. What about you? Are you an electronic reader, a diehard paper reader or a mix of both?

Anyone who leaves a comment will be entered in a drawing for a paperback book from my backlist!



Third Post in the 31 Day Book Giveaway: Hero Names

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

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

I thought I’d take a break from the seriousness of goal setting and talk about something completely different. Today’s topic is Hero Names.

When creating a hero, an author needs to name the character correctly in order to get the right image for him. For instance, you’d have different first impressions of a hero named Kade vs. one named Oscar.

Different things have to be considered when naming your hero. In my case, I think about things like ethnicity, religious background and where he is from. These are all things that affect how people name their children. Also time period. Is this a historical hero, a contemporary hero or one from the future or another world entirely?

I once gave a hero the wrong name. The hero of DONOVAN’S BED, my first Western historical, was originally named Donovan Cain. This guy is the son of a saloon girl. He doesn’t know who his father is, and at age 16 he tracked down his mother’s killer and accidentally killed him. This is how he got into bounty hunting. When we meet Donovan, it’s fifteen years later, and he’s retired from bounty hunting to a small town where he’s trying to settle down and leave his past behind.

This is a guy who never had a real home, never learned a lot about manners and never really socialized with people. Yet every time he opened his mouth on the page, he sounded like he’d been raised in high society and gone to some fancy schools. This is when I realized I had the wrong name.

The name of the book is DONOVAN’S BED, and I wanted to keep that. So I changed his name to Jack Donovan.

Immediately I had a different character. I have no trouble believing that the guy with the simple name of Jack is someone who never had fancy schooling. The harsh J and K sounds in his name give you a sense of hardness that make you think this guy is tough, a guy who doesn’t require much in the way of material possessions. And that’s what I wanted. Though his first name is Jack, the other men call him Donovan. This was very common in the Old West.

In my book THREE NIGHTS, the hero Lucien’s mother was French. He was illegitimate, so he took her last name: DuFeron. Later, his father the duke recognized him as his son, but Lucien kept his mother’s name. I picked Lucien because this is a wicked hero, and it sounds like Lucifer. I picked DuFeron because, loosely translated, it means “made of iron” and gives you that fire and brimstone essence. Lucien hangs out with a guy named Dante in the book, and together they are called Hell’s Brethren.

In my recent paranormal, PRODIGAL SON, the hero’s last name is Montana. I decided that it is a variation of montaña, which is Spanish for ‘mountain’ and could be a place name. My hero is part Spanish and part Native American with ancestors from Atlantis. His first name is Rafe, because I wanted something wicked sounding. This brother is the wild child of the three Montana siblings.

One person who succeeds in using names most people wouldn’t consider heroic with remarkable success is Jayne Anne Krentz. Some of her heroes’ names are Baxter, Matthias, Harry, Joel, and Mack. I bet she could even make Oscar work. 🙂

What are your thoughts on hero names? Are some overused? Overlooked? Do some need to be retired? Comment and get your name in a drawing for a paperback book from my backlist!