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Starting Over: Julie Cross Talks New Beginnings

New beginnings. As in starting over. New job, new school, new relationship, new home or  new town…no matter what type of new beginning you’re about to experience, the change can feel both overwhelming and exciting. On one hand, you’re back at the ground level and have to rebuild. And on the other hand, you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself, choose a new path, or make a change based on what you’ve learned in past experiences. This is exactly what Isabel Jenkins, the main character in my New Adult debut novel Third Degree, does. Izzy is a former child prodigy, went to college at twelve years old, medical school at sixteen and is on her way to being a surgeon. [...]

It’s the Little Things That Make a Hero

While camping with another couple last summer, the subject of my first book, ACCIDENTAL COWGIRL, came up. My friend D is an avid reader, armed with a Kindle even at the campground, but her hubby G is more of a movie buff. When he started joking good-naturedly about my book and its genre, I was ready to handle it the same way so many of us romance writers do – with tolerance and good humor. He’s never actually read a romance novel, after all. Then, however, he started in on Decker, my hero. Now, I’m fairly attached to Decker, having created him and all. And he is rather perfect, despite his fixable flaws. Picking on me was one thing. Picking [...]

Lover’s Day is Today! Happy LD to You!

Seriously, how big of a score is landing the blog post for Lover’s Day?! YAY!! And it’s mine, all mine!!!! So a brief confession from me. When I first heard about Lover’s Day, I was all with the side-eye toward the greeting card and chocolate candy companies, wondering how one went about the creation of a new holiday. Not that I was knocking it—Anything that celebrates lovers gets my vote!! But it sounded a smidge made up. Obviously I don’t get out enough, because this is a holiday with deep roots. Just not necessarily in my neck of the woods. In Barcelona, Spain though? Oh yes, they’ve been celebrating Lover’s day on April 23, since 1714 to honor Miguel de [...]

When Story-Tropes Collide: Best-Friends-To-Lovers Meets Brother’s-Best-Friend + Giveaway

When I first set out to write Just One Night, I figured it would be the easiest of the Stiletto series to get on paper. For starters, it’s the third book in a series, so I had plenty of time to get to know my characters while writing the first two stories. I also was thinking it would be easier because it was a friends-to-lovers story. I thought that since Riley and Sam had known each other for a decade, I’d be able to skip their “getting to know you” phase and get straight to the good stuff. But I was only partially correct. While it’s true that the Stiletto girls were pretty much having full conversations in my head [...]

Romantic Rivalry? Or Slut-Shaming?

The romance genre is for women, about women, by women. I know when I open the first page that I can leave the troubles of gender inequality behind and settle in for an uplifting story full of positive lady affirmations. Girl power and healthy body images. Strong heroines. Men who sweep women off their feet, treat them like queens and fantasize about all-night cunnilingus. Chicken Soup For the Vagina. No? Okay, I guess I can’t count on any of that. I don’t think it’s possible to take gender dynamics out of the equation when you’re writing about men and women. Many romance readers enjoy a dominating hero who takes control of everything. That’s fine with me. Get it, girl. I [...]

Clock Chimes, Cow Bells, and Alpenhorns—Sounds of Spring in Switzerland + $50 Giveaway!

When someone asks, “Guess where we’re going?” do you get tired of the guessing game after about the fourth try? Yep, me too. Just tell me already! “Switzerland,” my husband said after one such game. When he broke that news, my mouth dropped open wide, watering for Swiss chocolate. He’d been tapped to give a keynote address that landed us in Switzerland in the spring! We arrived in the old city of Lucerne, the sheer age of the place giving it a romantic and mysterious vibe. Fourteenth-century rampart walls rose high on the hillsides, still standing guard, impervious to time. And the Swiss are serious about time. Take the chiming of the hour in Lucerne. Clocks far and wide ring [...]

Starting Over: Excerpt of THEN AND ALWAYS

To celebrate the start of spring, we’ll be featuring a series of posts all about making a fresh start. This post is an excerpt of THEN AND ALWAYS by Dani Atkins, a novel about getting a second chance at life.  My first life ended at 10:37 P.M. on a rainy December night, on a deserted street beside the old church. My second life began some thirty- six hours later, when I woke up to the acrid aroma of a hospital ward, with a large head wound and a life about which I had absolutely no recollection. I was surrounded by friends and family, and that should have made it better. But it didn’t, as one of them had been dead [...]

The Art of a Pitch Perfect Book Cover

In the Great Distribution of Skills, the art muse forgot me.  I’m barely capable of drawing stick figures.  Nevertheless, I love studying cover art for books, determining what works and what doesn’t and how specific covers convey concrete information about a book’s contents. A couple of years ago, as I prepared to launch my first self-published book, my number one task was finding a cover artist.  I was fortunate to discover Reece Notley, an incredibly talented artist and designer who gets the function of book covers.  Reece and I have worked together on several trilogies and stand-alone novels, and I am always in awe of her talent. But last year, I threw Reece a curveball.  (Yes, when you write the [...]

WINNERS Announced! Release Day! Forbidden: The Soulkeepers + Giveaway!

I can’t believe this day has finally arrived! It’s a walking on air kind of day never to be repeated. There is only one debut novel for a writer, and I’m so happy that mine is Forbidden, a story very close to my heart. Several years ago when I first began writing Forbidden, I had no idea that the paranormal genre was so popular. Big surprise on me! But what got me even more was the never-ending interest in the particular theme of Angels. (So it’s not just me :D) There are few things that have captured and sustained my imagination more than Angels. When we’re little, Angels are often seen as that soft idea hovering around our peripheral beliefs. [...]

WINNERS Announced – My Prince Charming is in New Zealand!! + Giveaway

A little bit of England has come to NZ. Prince William, his wife Kate, and their son Prince George are touring New Zealand, as part of their tour Down Under, and they have won over the media, the people they have met, and those of us watching from a distance. The country is buzzing with excitement with people lining the streets to catch a glimpse, or to be lucky enough to talk with William or Kate, and of course see baby George. Everyone is trying to decide whom he looks like. The Prince last came to New Zealand when he was a baby, and now he’s back, all grown up, with a baby and wife of his own! Princess Diana, [...]

Finding the Love (and Laughs!) In Tax Day

It’s that time of year again. April 15th is here and all of us are thinking about our taxes. While paying money to Uncle Sam might not bring a laugh to your lips, I’d bet IRS Special Agent Tara Holloway would. She’s the star of my hilarious romantic mystery series, and is such a fantastic sharpshooter that she’s known as the Annie Oakley of the IRS. Of course, she’s also got a good-looking guy – or two! – in the mix. All work and no play, after all… What is it that makes the combination of romance and comedy so popular? I have several theories. The first is that love makes us feel scared and vulnerable. We are both intensely [...]

April in Paris

So, I’ve been living in Paris for about seven months now, and I thought I had more or less gotten used to being here, but then something happened. Flowers started to bloom at the tail end of February. Then the grass got greener. All the rain we get here suddenly started to seem like a good thing because we could finally see some immediate results. Then, leaves started to come out on the trees. It’s SPRING! Before moving here, my husband and I had been going back and forth between Paris and DC twice a year for a few years, but neither of us had ever been here in April before. April in Paris. The phrase rings all kinds of [...]

Starting Over: Virna DePaul on Moving Forward

Keep On Keeping On… One of the things I love most about romance is the fact characters “transition” throughout the story.  They start off in their ordinary worlds, rarely aware that because of their flawed beliefs, something has to change in order for them to be truly happy. The greatest challenge for a romance writer is delivering the expected HEA (happy ever after) at the end of the story while at various points in the story making the reader fear it might not actually happen.  In other words, we make our characters work very hard to deserve true love.  They are tested time and again—whether it’s by having to solve a crime, dealing with a family crisis, or, as in [...]

Ella Quinn’s Recipe for Love and Dumplings

In my latest release, Desiring Lady Caro, there is a lot of food. After all, one must eat, and when you are confined to a coach while fleeing an insane marquis, food is a nice diversion. There is a lot of chocolate in this book, as well other regional specialties, most of them I’ve been fortunate enough to sample during my own travels. Caro and Huntley begin in Venice. The whole Veneto region is famous for its rice, particularly risotto. If you hang a left at Verona, and head toward the Austrian border, the food gradually becomes more a bit heavier. There is wonderful ravioli, then the further north you go, and the food becomes a tasty mix of Austrian [...]

Do You Love Game of Thrones as Much as Stacey Kennedy?

I am a Game of Thrones junkie. Why? I honestly have no idea. I’m a romance author, which means I’m a big believer in having a happily-ever-after. Truthfully, any movies or TV shows that don’t end on a happy note leave me incredibly grumpy. I need that moment when I know that no matter what the characters have gone through that in the end they are happy. Now for anyone who has watched Game of Thrones, you’ll know that we haven’t seen a happily-ever-after in the series yet. Even as I watch the show I keep gasping in horror when someone dies or something horrible happens to one of the characters. And that seems to happen in every single episode, [...]

Opal Carew talks HIS TO POSSESS

Today I’m excited to talk to bestselling Opal Carew, one of my favorite erotica authors who this year celebrates her twentieth year of publication.  HIS  TO POSSESS,  first published as a six-part e- serial, tells the intoxicating tale of a woman torn between a dominant billionaire and a tattooed, bad boy rock musician and is now available for the first time as a complete book.   LB:  For readers who are new to your work, how long have you been publishing novels, and what was your first book? OC: I started out writing short stories and novellas, and was published in 1994. My very first published novella was actually fantasy and not romance! I published a couple of short stories with [...]

Starting Over: Debbie Macomber on Life’s Rough Patches

To celebrate the start of spring, we’ll be featuring a series of posts all about making a fresh start. Our first feature comes from “the queen of women’s fiction” herself, Debbie Macomber. Enjoy. In Starting Now you’ll meet Libby Morgan, who is becoming reacquainted with knitting after being laid off from a high-pressure job at a law firm. My husband Wayne and I are familiar with what it is like to go through a long stretch of unemployment, and to have to start over again from scratch. The year our daughter Jenny Adele was born, Wayne, who worked as a construction electrician, was out of work nearly nine months. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, he made good use of the time [...]

Win a copy of THEN AND ALWAYS by Dani Adkins!

For fans of One Day, What Alice Forgot, and the hit film Sliding Doors, comes an absorbing and surprising debut novel about a young woman who, after an accident, gets a second chance at life . . . just not in one she remembers. Rachel Wiltshire has everything she’s ever wanted: a close group of friends, a handsome boyfriend, and acceptance to the journalism program at her top-choice college. But one fateful evening, tragedy tears her world apart. Five years later, Rachel returns home for the first time to celebrate her best friend’s wedding. Still coping with her grief, she can’t stop thinking about the bright future she almost had, if only that one night had gone differently. But when [...]

Who’s Your Favorite Disney Hero or Heroine?

I watched Frozen for the first time this week. I’m not much of a movie watcher because I work and I write and I have three kids, two dogs and one husband. Well, you get the point. Movies are way down the list on my to-do list. But my daughter (who will be exiting her teenage years in a few months) was so excited that Frozen was finally out in video that she insisted we watch it. And I have to say I was as hooked as everyone else. Disney did it again with this wonderful movie of two sisters. In fact, I’m watching it for the second time this week as I write this. Disney has a way of [...]

Women’s History Month: Catherine The Great

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’ve asked our authors to write about the strong women their books focus on. This week, Eva Stachniak, author of Empress of the Night, a book about Catherine the Great of Russia, gives us a peek at the Queen’s story.   Creating fiction around a historical figure, especially a powerful woman monarch, is a vivid reminder that such women were blazing new trails, not just in politics. They were pushing the boundaries of our understanding of gender roles and the mysteries of the human heart.   As I prepared to write Empress of the Night I often reflected on Catherine’s love affairs. In spite of what had frequently been said about her, Catherine the [...]

Gender Lines and Household Chores – Is there a divide?

In our house, we have guy-jobs and gal-jobs … and a squishy area of in-between ones that might be called the whoever-finally-gives-in-and-does-it jobs. At Chez McGinnis, man-jobs include furniture-moving, spider-squashing, and fire. Sometimes I’m called in to help with the furniture, but only if McTool-Guy absolutely positively can’t do it himself. For some reason he thinks it’s easier to heave-ho gigantic objects around the house without my assistance, but I’m sure it has nothing to do with my dismal upper body strength … or my complete lack of spatial skills. The spider business used to be rather straightforward. I’d spot it, squawk, and he’d suck it up with the vacuum cleaner. Then we had children. And suddenly spiders became Living [...]

A Recipe for Romance

I grew up in the South, and it’s a lot about cooking.  In fact, in my new contemporary romance, Sweet Talk Me, my characters live in a fictitious seaside village near Charleston, South Carolina, called Biscuit Creek. It seemed apropos because biscuits are a way of life here. We eat ‘em for breakfast. They go great as a side with fried chicken  or pork chops at lunch or dinner. And of course, you can have a biscuit with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. I’m not a big biscuit maker. I’ve made them, and I even have a go-to recipe, but it’s no easy task. It takes time and practice, a lot of gentle handling, and even intuition. How much [...]

E.L. James Writing Again??

This Saturday, E.L. James posted a picture to her Instagram that got fans talking. The caption was: “It’s been awhile..” Could she be writing again?!! Marie Claire shared James’s thoughts from an Entertainment Weekly interview: “…she did reveal to Entertainment Weekly at the end of last year that she’s already completed a new, unrelated project.” What do you think?

WEEKLY GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a copy of STARTING NOW!

This week we’re giving away 10 copies of Starting Now by Debbie Macomber. Debbie Macomber returns to Seattle’s beloved Blossom Street in this heartfelt tale of friendship, renewal, and discovering what’s truly important in life. As always, you can head over to Romance at Random’s Giveaway Tab, for any giveaway details you might need, and we’ll remind you every day during this week to enter via Facebook and on Twitter. Follow us now so you won’t miss out!

Behind the Scenes with Sue Grimshaw: Winter is My Wonderland

Hi everyone! I’m hoping your winter has been as fabulous as mine. Buzzing around on social media as often as I do I realized many people are not winter enthusiasts. Guaranteed we’ve had way more snow than previous years and the temperatures have been colder than cold — I’ll even go as far as to confess below zero is not my favorite degree either. But, you have to admit, the white glistening snow, untouched and dancing on the trees is a sight to behold. My husband and I take a ski vacation to Colorado every year to enjoy the sport and the scenery. Riding a chairlift or gondola above the trees gives you an inner peace, a tranquility that is [...]

For the Love of Ladies

A brief note of introduction: I had the great fortune of sitting on an erotic romance panel with award-winning author Kate McMurray last month. She had valuable insights into the current state of gay romances, and I asked her to share some of that with us here. One issue that was discussed was while there is a mainstream embracing of m/m romance, there hasn’t been a huge breakout yet for authors of f/f stories. Kate has some suggestions to help get that ball rolling. — Logan Belle I am a fan of all manner of romance, and that includes books in all sorts of niches. Lesbian romance—or f/f, for female/female—hasn’t caught on the same way that gay male (m/m) romance has, [...]

Elizabeth Maxwell on HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Happily Ever After by Elizabeth Maxwell is a rare find: A book that not only has a fabulous premise, but also lives up to it every step of the way. Here’s the gist: an erotic novelist meets the fictional hero of her most recent book in real life, and must decide whether she wants to get him back between the pages—or between her sheets. At forty-six, Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an eleven-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors, and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she [...]

When the Ending is Just The Beginning

The end. Or is it? It’s always hard to say good-bye to characters that you’ve come to love, especially when you’ve been with them for three books over four years of your life.  So writing the final installment of my Ashes trilogy was kind of hard. But I did it. I gave each of them a farewell befitting their story and left all with a sense of hope, except for one  character, who dies.  Not telling you who, you will just have to read the book to find out. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was flipping through a catalog. It was the Sundance clothing catalog; of which I am a big fan of dreaming over and [...]

How The Autumn Review was Born

Please join me in welcoming our blog guest The Autumn Review. A fast growing site that delivers honest reviews – enjoy! I fell in love with reading when I was a child. I loved all the magical places the stories would take me. It’s been no different for me as an adult. A few years ago, I met anauthor who suggested I begin writing reviews and create a blog. So in the fall of 2011, The Autumn Review was born. Before I even started blogging, I was reading about a book per day. I’m a stay at home mom, so I have the flexibility to be able to read throughout the day. Once the blog took off, I was able [...]

Women’s History Month: Mozart’s Muse

This piece, in a series of posts highlighting women in history, comes from Vivien Shotwell, author of Vienna Nocturne, a fictionalized account of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and soprano Anna Storace, his muse. In reading about Mozart, and studying his letters, and listening to his operas, it’s hard not to come away with an impression of his great respect and love for women. Although he lived in a time when women had little freedom, and were often poorly educated, he had a warm relationship with his mother and with his brilliant older sister, Nannerl. Nannerl in her own right was an extraordinarily gifted pianist, but she was not allowed, by her father or by society– so at least is my impression — [...]