Share our Passion

Guest Post

Fiction: Tattooed Dedication

As early as I can remember, I have been obsessed with books and reading.  I give credit for my love of reading to my mother, who would sit up and read Dr. Seuss and Minnie Mouse books to me when I couldn’t sleep.  Evidently, I ended up memorizing some of the books and just flipping pages at random times trying to convince her that I could read! When I got to University I realized that reading and writing was all I wanted to do with my life.  This is when I discovered the song Fiction by the Lucksmiths (YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuTM2f1PgQc&list=PLAm8JOTdz76UavcPYJKiwAsEtQjzICXG2) The lyrics spoke to me immediately and I knew this was the perfect way for me to always remember [...]

Why Do We Love Billionaires? Let Me Count the Ways

There are lots of great tropes in romance, but there’s something extra fun about a story featuring a billionaire. Their wealth affords so many luxuries, and can drive so much conflict, they’re a great character archetype to read and write. So with that in mind, I thought this would be a great time to explore the… Top Five Reasons Romance Readers Love Billionaire Heroes 5. Billionaires Have All the Toys What good is being a billionaire if you don’t have a mansion, yacht, helipad and copter to go with it, along the latest sleek and sexy car? Being a billionaire means the world is your department store and the sticker price doesn’t matter. Want a race horse? Done. Need a [...]

California Dreamin’: My Cowboy Hero

Never mind that I was born and raised on the East Coast: cowboys are my weakness. When I was growing up, if you wanted to see a man who spent his days and nights in the saddle the way I longed to, then you watched western series and movies on TV. I fell in love repeatedly. My first cowboy love was Clint Eastwood in the show Rawhide, a love that was reinforced by the spaghetti westerns he made with director Sergio Leone (For a Fistful of Dollars, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly; For a Few Dollars More). Since I was a kid, my love took an interesting form: I didn’t just want to be the impossibly cool cowboy, [...]

FiveThings I Learned by Appearing On SAY YES TO THE DRESS

Last year was a year of several firsts for me but one that really stands out is my appearance on the reality TV show, Say Yes to the Dress, Atlanta. For the complete story of exactly how I came to be on the show, check out Barbara Vey’s Beyond Her Book Blog, here. Today, I’m sharing  the story of what I learned by agreeing to tape an episode of the show. 1.  When they cast you for the show, the producers send you a big list of dos and don’ts including what to expect. One was don’t wear white or houndstooth. Certain colors and prints aren’t great for the small screen and white and houndstooth are at the top of the [...]

Inside #RT14 – A Taste of New Orleans – Pralines Recipe

  We like our romances sweet, and our pralines sweeter! At Mardi Gras Carnivale Random House sponsored the pralines table, and we couldn’t have enough of the delicacy–they’re so delicious that we wanted to share the sweetness with our readers, courtesy of the New Orleans School of Cooking! If you’re in town for the convention and need a taste of New Orleans, you have to stop by–it’s one of the must-see foodie stops in the city, featuring cooking classes with hometown chefs and a general store chock-full of ingredients that are special to the area. For readers who can’t make it to NOLA, Gretchen Erickson of The New Orleans School of Cooking shared her knowledge of pralines and the perfect recipe [...]

Spring Clean Your Beauty Bag

Remember when you decided boysenberry lipstick was your true color? Then wore it once. There was also that time you declared turquoise to be the best eye shadow for summer—and never applied it past the 4th of July? It happens all the time. We try new shades, colors, and creams—some work, some don’t, and yet they all make a home in our beauty bag. Just like ridding your closet of old clothes, cleaning your makeup bag is necessary and therapeutic.   Quarterly Cleaning “Cleaning out your bag every season is the way to go,” says Emily Aznavourian, makeup artist and owner of Cheekadee Makeup Artists. “As far as purging specific products, it depends. The general rule is that if it [...]

Group Sex: The Art of the Erotic Romance Anthology

Writing is usually a solitary endeavor. Just you, your computer and those people in your head who won’t shut up. Some days, those people are good to you. Some days, you want to pull your hair out trying to get them to talk. And then when you send your finished baby out into the world, all that pressure for success rests squarely on your shoulders. But wait, there’s another option: Rope your friends into writing an anthology! Now, you have three other people to share the crazy with you. And that’s how ONE NIGHT ONLY… came to be. I have to say, the idea wasn’t really mine. In November 2012, Olivia Cunning invited me to an original anthology with her, [...]

Scandal, Society & Historical Romance

I was inspired to write my debut historical romance after a visit to the splendid Morris-Jumel Mansion, located in New York City’s Washington Heights. Imagine an estate from Alabama or Georgia, complete with solid white columns and lush gardens, dropped onto the island of Manhattan, and you’ll get a good idea of the place. Startling, to say the least. But even stranger than the existence of the house was the story of the woman who lived there through the 1800s. Eliza Jumel was born into poverty in Providence, Rhode Island as the daughter of a prostitute, and used her beauty and wit to become the richest woman in New York City by the time of her death in 1865, at [...]

Of Monsters and Men

When I ended the Dark Warrior series after 14.5 books that included six books in the Dark Sword series, I still wasn’t ready to let go of the world I created. Luckily, my publisher asked me to spin off the DW series and the Dragon Kings were born! I wanted to call the series Dragon Kings, because, well, that’s what they are, but because it’s a spin off series, they wanted to stay with the “Dark” theme, which is where the Dark Kings series name came from. If you’ve read any of the Dark Sword or Dark Warrior books, you know I love Scotland. There’s just something about a guy in a kilt with that brogue that does it to [...]

Regency Romps and Valerie Bowman’s Odd Inspiration

I have a confession to make. My latest novel, The Unexpected Duchess, (which comes out today!) was inspired by my intense desire to break up with my friend’s boyfriend for her. Okay, okay. So it was actually more than one friend. The fact is that right around the time I was thinking up a brand new Regency romance series, I had two different friends whose boyfriends were acting like colossal jerks. On more than one occasion I’d say to either of my friends, “Just give me the phone and I’ll break up with him for you!” Of course, my friends never took me up on my offer. Hmm. Seems it was much easier for me, with no emotional involvement, to [...]

Paranormal Inspiration: Katana Collins on Chasing the Muse

Muses. They come in all forms, huh? Anything from that first warm day after a long winter to the hunky guy in plastic glasses reading across from you on the subway. We’ve all got them. And we all crave more. For myself, and probably a lot of authors out there, a huge source of inspiration is other authors and novels. After all, Stephen King said it best in On Writing: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” So, on the eve of completing my first ever trilogy, I wanted to offer a nod to the top five paranormal authors and/or books that inspired me as a writer. Laurell K. Hamilton [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

Loving on the Edge: My Passion for Romantic Suspense

I don’t live on the edge doing truly scary things, the kind of things equated with living on the edge. I do not skydive or snowboard. I don’t climb rock walls or drive race cars. Living on the edge for me is taking on a new writing challenge or speaking in public. What exhilarates me is pretty simple, as simple as experiencing a dramatic thunderstorm from my back porch, or working with a homeless cat to get it accustomed to me and therefore adoptable by a compassionate person. But when it comes to my characters it’s a different story. I put them into dangerous situations, ones that could end their lives. Being kidnapped, shot at, and knocked unconscious is just [...]

Get Educated About MMA – Sidney Halston’s Got the Scoop!

Sidney Halston is our resident MMA expert and will explain to us why these guys make great heroes. I told her all she needed to do was show us the pictures but she’s an over-achiever. Enjoy her post below and look for AGAINST THE CAGE, on sale May 27, 2014. The girls guide to Mixed Martial Arts (yeah, that’s what MMA stand for). Some things we should know about MMA fighters…. Their world revolves around fighting. It’s not a hobby; it is their life; their obsession. So, when the fighters in the Worth the Fight series meet their perfect woman, she immediately gets wrapped up in this world of passion, obsession, and fury. MMA fighters are inherently bad-boy alpha-males, usually [...]

Remembering Your First Time: Gateway Romances

Do you remember your first time? That first taste of love conflict, and lust in textual form, often right under your parents’ very noses? What I’m asking is: do you remember your first romance novel? If you’re anything like me, maybe you don’t. I went through books like a moth in a trunk, consuming everything in my path. But in my word-hungry ravaging of any library I could gain entry to, there are a few books that stand out in my memory. The ones I read again and again in pre-adolescent wonder, hoping that one day I’d find a love as sweet or tender or fiery hot as the ones between the flaking pages in my hands. Fifteen, by Beverly [...]

Romance and Mystery: The Perfect Couple

As reader, I feel there are two components to a great plot—mystery and romance. And as a writer, I find it darn near impossible not to include both of those elements in my stories. It’s a little like that old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercial, I get either mystery mixed up into my romances or romances mixed up into my mysteries. I blame this on some of my favorite pre-teen series Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and Cherry Ames. There was always thread of romance running through the Trixie Belden, Cherry Ames, and Nancy Drew books as those girl sleuths solved the mysteries. Would Trixie and Jim Frayne end up together? How about Nancy and Ned Nickerson? Would Cherry Ames marry [...]

Winner Announced: The Apocalypse, Demons, and Portals, Oh My! + Giveaway!

Stories abound these days that include the apocalypse; either the hero and heroine avert it, survive it, or in some cases, cause it. That theme has been one which has fascinated us since the dawning of civilization, we have wondered how our story would end. I admit that I have always been quite captivated with end of the world scenarios. There are a ton of books and movies which examine how society and people would function; The Hunger Games, The Walking Dead, and Revolution are prime examples. At its heart, each of these stories removes all human artifice and brings what is truly important to the forefront. I like the issues that are examined. If the world ended, does society [...]

Character Creation in a Nutshell

Making up people is probably my favorite part of writing fiction. And when I say making up people, I don’t mean names and physical traits. I actually loathe those parts and will literally get stuck while writing a proposal for a new project because I don’t have a name for my MC. Then I’ll run out to Chipotle for some comfort food, look at the name tag of the first burrito engineer I see: Jim. That works for me. But Jim what? Jim Chicken? Jim Guacamole? Jim Steak? Jim Stakeman. Done. And physical traits. If there’s nothing in the plot that might require a certain look or feature, then the creation process will go something like this: okay, I did [...]

Winter? Schminter! That’s What Maggie McGinnis Has to Say About That

I used to love winter. Loved skating on the neighbor’s pond, loved trekking for miles on cross-country skis, and loved flying like a maniac down barely-groomed mountain trails. It was exhilarating! Fun! Death-defying at times (mostly because we lived in an area where the concept of hunting season was just a suggestion, and we wore a lot of dark coats and hand-knit white mittens). Wait. Mom? Could I speak to you about those mittens, please? My love of winter went into a long fade as ticket prices skyrocketed and snowfall amounts declined. And somewhere along the line, I gained this fear thing that was totally unfamiliar. I could break something, I realized. Like … me. And then where would we [...]

Not Your Mother’s Romantic Suspense

Where did the romantic suspense market go? That’s a question I get a lot from readers. There was a time when it seemed like every contemporary romance novel was a romantic suspense story. But recently? Not so much. I have a theory about it (ask anyone who knows me: I have theories about everything). This theory revolves around a number of the originating authors of the romantic suspense form retiring or reducing their writing schedules in the early 2000’s.  It was just about time for a new crop of suspense writers to come along and refresh the pool when three things happened simultaneously: First, a wave of mega-hit paranormal books had swept the marketplace and movie theaters. New writers’ imaginations [...]