Thursday, January 31, 2008

Amy Andrews Gives the Banditas a Checkup!

    by Anna Campbell

    Amy, welcome to the Banditas, although you’re hardly a stranger to the lair. We came to romances through a similar path – a relative that absolutely devoured Mills & Boons. What do you think appealed to your teenage self about those books? Has that changed over the years?

    Thanks, Anna, for the welcome and having me along. I love the Bandita blog – such a great group of writers. What do they call a gathering of writers BTW? A gaggle? A clutch? A throng? Anyway...I digress. I guess I’m a bit nervous being on the other side of the blog *g*

    So where was I? Right, yes, my mother. I started reading my mum’s romance novels at about the age of 11 or 12. She loved Charlotte Lamb and Penny Jordan. She thought I was a little too young to be reading them and thinking back now, I don’t blame her - man, those ladies wrote hawt! But I guess I was just preparing her for when I picked up PUBERTY BLUES at 13 *g* Of course my mother instilled in me the joy of reading full stop. Like many romance readers she was/is a voracious reader and reads across genres.

    I think what appealed to me then was the whole teenage romantic notion of falling in love, of finding that one special person and all is right with the world. And, if I’m to be perfectly honest, reading the sex was quite titillating….er, educational. I think now I’m older and have lived a bit, the HEA isn’t the be all and end all for me and because it’s a romance novel I know the H and H are going to get that. Now what appeals to me is reading about the beginning. The rush of attraction, of two people having that insane can’t-get-enough-of-you chemistry that we all have at the start of a relationship before life and kids and work and leaving the toilet seat up drives us all mad. The zing. The sizzle. The dance. It’s not the sex – it’s the anticipation, the I-must-be-with-this-person imperative. I love it when an author nails this.

    Can you tell us about your journey to publication?

    AKA the long and winding road? *g* Three things inspired me to first put pen to paper. Temporary unemployment, minus zero temperatures, needing to keep occupied without getting off my electric blanket. My first ms was written in 10 days – a chapter a day. Yes, yes, I know - talk about ignorance being bliss! Naturally, it was rejected. But it’s amazing what rejection does for the soul. From that point on I became a writer. My goal – publication. To be perfectly honest I never thought I’d make it but I became determined to find out everything I could about the craft. I joined RWA. I joined a crit group. I attended workshops and conferences. I read How To books and even entered a comp. And gradually I honed my craft. I really do think that the majority of writers serve an apprenticeship. Yes, you hear about the lucky ones who get an acceptance on their first ever ms but, by and large, most serve time in the unpubbed wilderness. It took me 12 years. Of course, I wasn’t very prolific in that time – kids, work (that actually paid me) and life got in the way and I mainly just dabbled. When I think back on it, I get really cranky with myself. I think if I’d shown a little more dedication I could have been published earlier. But then, I’m a huge believer that things in life happen for a reason. So, 12 years it was.

    You write wonderful Medical Romances published through London by Mills & Boon. I noticed their first romances were hospital stories so it’s a perennial genre and doctor and nurse stories are still terrifically popular. What is the appeal of this genre?

    Maybe back when they were first published it was every girl’s dream (and her mother’s) to marry a doctor. At the very core of the doctor hero is a strongly Alpha personality - successful, single-minded and a little arrogant - and all the appeal that has for generations of romance readers. But in their hearts they are also deeply compassionate men. As for nurses, we have been romanticized since Flo Nightingale was coined the Lady of the Lamp, despite the very unromantic nature of our work. A series of wars has helped to nurture this image of us as ministering angels. Of course today the hero is just as likely to be a nurse and the heroine the doctor. Medical romance covers a broad range of health professionals from surgeons to social workers, physios to physicians, paramedics to police medical officers, vets to zoologists.

    Television had helped to keep this sub-genre alive particularly well. Who can resist House’s blue, blue eyes or McDreamy’s unshaven sexiness or, my all time favourite, intense, brooding Dr. Doug? And then there’s the sassy smart-mouthed nurses who are more than their equals and aren’t afraid to put the patient first above all else. When you have two such compassionate, committed professionals and have the emotional roller coaster of their work as a backdrop, the relationship is going to be intense and very, very emotional.

    You work as a nurse. Does that help or hinder when you write your books?*g*
    Well, if I’ve just come off three nights, it definitely hinders *g* No, seriously, as far as research goes, it’s fabulous. I’m a bit of a lazy researcher (yes, Anna, just like punctuation) so I try to stick with situations, illnesses, emergency scenarios I know really well or can at least access a person at work who’ll know. I’ve just written a conjoined twins separation story as part one of a trilogy about 3 sisters and there was a lot of research involved in that trying to portray the separation correctly (thank God for the www). It was even more of a challenge to do it without bogging the chapter down with too much medical detail which can be a tricky balance confronting all the medical authors. I also think, hope, being a nurse lends a certain authenticity to my writing. I have this dream, this goal I’ve been working towards, where I get to give up nursing and write full time but really, deep down, I know I would miss nursing terribly. I think I got really lucky in life. I found not one, but two jobs that I absolutely love.

    I’ve just been lucky enough to read your wonderful February release FOUND: A FATHER FOR HER CHILD. And by the way, if visitors click on the cover, they can order it from Amazon. What a wonderful emotional read. I loved that it’s so firmly grounded in reality but still manages to be so passionate and romantic. Could you tell the Banditas about your new story?

    I actually got the idea for Carrie and Charlie’s story from the relationship between Cuddy and House on HOUSE. The fiery female administrator there as the brake on the arrogant doctor. Keeping him in line. Ruling the roost. Not that Charlie’s arrogant, in fact Charlie is yummy! A good guy who just wants to be left alone to keep doing the good work he’s doing. Carrie is more like the Cuddy character - uptight and very fond of pin-stripes. I just love that dynamic – where the heroine is calling the shots.

    Carrie has a daughter, a black mark against her name and an ex who deserted her at the worst possible moment in her life. Charlie has an ex, a med royalty bloodline his father won’t let him forget and a terminal disease hanging over his head. They’re so not what either of them need. Which made it half the fun! One of the things I love most about the book is the setting. I tend to write about issues, (which makes my ed a bit nuts from time to time) and this one’s no different. It’s set in a neighbourhood drop-in clinic and tackles a lot of issues around community medicine in inner city areas. I like the grittiness of the setting. In fact, gritty settings is one of the best parts about writing for the line.

    What are you working on now?

    I’m about to start my 16th medical. It involves a heroine who used to be a model but was stung by a box jelly fish while on location leaving her torso terribly disfigured. So she retrains as a lab assistant working in marine stinger research and hides behind her white coat and her microscope. Her boss, who she’s only ever talked to by phone, and who has this amazingly, incredibly sexy voice insists she join him at a symposium on a tropical island to present a paper she’d been working on. She discovers he’s been the victim of an accident too, damaging his larynx, but instead of hiding his scars, he flaunts them.

    He’s going to teach her that beauty is more than skin deep and she’s going to teach him that being a one-woman man is infinitely more rewarding than a jack-the-lad with a chip on his shoulder. At least I think that’s what’s gonna happen…. Its still stewing.
    Amy, do you have any plans to write outside the Medical line?

    I have a project in the wind that's out at a few places at the moment. It's a romantic comedy and in a lot of ways, the book of my heart. It's certainly the one closest to my real "voice" and I've had some very good feedback. I'm forever being asked to tone down the humour in my medicals - I guess a nurse's sense of humour can be a little off :-) - and I find this a little frustrating. So hopefully I can expand into this genre and have the best of both worlds.

    Amy has just the medicine for visitors to the lair! One lucky commenter will win a signed copy of her new release FOUND: A FATHER FOR HER CHILD which believe me is a wonderful read. She has two questions for us to ponder today - what's your favorite medical TV show and why and/or what term WOULD you use for a group of romance writers? You can find out more about Amy and read excerpts of her books at her website and she's a regular blogger on Harlequin Medical Romance Authors.Source URL:
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Happy 29th Birthday!

Bathing Beauties

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Meet Terri Brisbin … and her sexy Highlanders!

    by Anna Sugden

    I’m delighted to welcome my good friend, two-time RITA nominee Terri Brisbin - and her Highlanders - to the Lair!

    Terri has been writing romance fiction since 1995 and has had 16 historical and time-travel romances published by Berkley-Jove and Harlequin Historicals. When not living the glamorous life of a romance author in the southern NJ suburbs, Terri spends her time being a wife to one, mom to three boys as well as a dental hygienist to hundreds. Active in several RWA local chapters, Terri currently serves on the Board of Directors of Romance Writers of America.

    And, on a personal note, I’d like to add that Terri is a great champion and supporter of her fellow romance writers - she keeps us motivated through the best and worst of times!

    To find out more about Terri or her fabulous books, please visit her website:

    Welcome Terri

    Anna, thanks for that warm welcome and the invitation to visit with the elfreda ica and readers.

    I know we have a number of visitors to the blog who LOVE Scotsmen … a few Banditas too *grin*. Would you introduce us to your Highlanders?

    This trilogy of stories (and there may a fourth at some point) is all about the wonderful MacLerie men – Connor, the laird, had the first book (TAMING THE HIGHLANDER), now Rurik, his loyal friend and cousin is featured in this new book, SURRENDER TO THE HIGHLANDER, and the clan tanist and negotiator, Duncan, will be featured in an August release (POSSESSED BY THE HIGHLANDER). They are all very interesting and have their flaws and strengths – Connor has a terrible reputation as a wife-killer and does not like to be questioned, Rurik is half-Scots/half-Norse and is a true prodigal son who wants more, and Duncan places honor and his clan above everything else in his life. Don’t they sound like men in need of a good woman?

    Tough heroes need strong heroines. How did you choose the heroines for these three tough men?

    Well! A long time ago, a wonderful author (Delia Parr) suggested during a workshop that in order to create strong conflict you should give the hero the absolutely worst kind of woman for him. So Connor, who still carries the terrible secrets of his first wife’s death, is forced to marry someone who is protecting her own secrets. Rurik, who loves women and who loves to do two things in life (both start with “F” and one is fight!) has a heroine who is a nun! (Well, he thinks she is a nun!) Duncan, who lives by his honor, is forced to marry a woman who has none...or so he thinks!

    It must be fun researching these books. I know you love to travel. Have you got some interesting tales of your quest for things Scottish?

    I have had the chance to travel to Scotland twice and have visited many of the places I write about. On my first trip there in 2002, Sue-Ellen Welfonder took me to Dunstaffnage Castle and I had the chance to stand on the battlements and look out over the Firth of Lorne. This turned into a scene I wrote for THE MAID OF LORNE. Also, eerily, it was also there that I found what looked to be the archway through time I described in my very first romance, A LOVE THROUGH TIME. The strange thing is that I’d never seen pictures of this castle until my visit but it all felt familiar.....

    I am going back to Scotland in the spring and can’t wait to visit some places I haven’t seen yet – Stirling Castle, more of Edinburgh, and a side trip to the Highlands.

    Unfortunately, my other Scottish quest – to meet Gerard Butler – has not been successful...but I’m still trying!

    As lovely as your Highlanders are, you write about Englishmen too (YAY!). And a fascinating time period. Can you tell us a bit about some of the other books you’ve written?

    Sigh..... I also love medieval England. I’ve written 4 novels and 2 novellas that are all set in the late 1190’s and early 1200’s and involve the Plantagenet dynasty – Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and their sons Richard and John. And talk about different, non-traditional heroines! those stories feature women who were very different from most noble-women of their time—one is the king’s mistress, one is pregnant with another man’s child, one has been held hostage and pretends to not remember all that happened, one is the village harlot, one almost died and has amnesia, and one is on the run after refusing her parents’ choice of a husband.

    Next up will be a trilogy set during the Norman invasion in 1066 and I can’t wait to write those! I plan on visiting some of those sites on my spring trip, too.

    If you were to travel back in time to one of your favourite time periods, which would it be and what would you miss most about life in 2008?

    I think I would love to visit Elizabethan England and see her up close. Elizabeth defied all the odds countless times and became one of England’s strongest rulers. She took a nearly-bankrupted, religiously-divided, politically-threatened kingdom and brought it back from the brink of disaster to make it a world superpower. You gotta’ like a woman who can do that!

    Toilet paper! Email! Telephones! On a more mundane and practical level – I would miss medicines and hot water and a good bed and so many other things. I am definitely getting old and crotchety and need my comforts!

    Over to the rest of you. Terri would love to answer any questions you have about her books and research trips. And we’d both like to know which time period you’d travel back to, as well as what you would miss most.

    Terri will be giving away prizes to two lucky visitors. She’ll pick up something special on her upcoming trip to Scotland for two winners and they’ll get their choice of any of her available backlist books.
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How to Hook Bandit Booty?

    Well, you need to leave a comment, of course!

    And our latest winner is....... Meredith!

    Congrats! Aunty's handy dandy random number generator says that YOU are the lucky commenter who will receive an autographed copy of Tina Ferraro's newest release How To Hook A Hottie! Please send your snail mail info to Aunty Cindy at cindymm18 AT gmail DOT com so that we can get Tina's wonderful new book out to you.

    If you didn't win this prize, do not despair! We have LOTS of guest bloggers waiting in the wings with more great books and other prizes to give away. But you must leave a comment to win.Source URL:
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Swimsuit Love

Celebs without makeup

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cover Story

    by Donna MacMeans

    I’m in love… I just received my cover for my second book, The Trouble with Moonlight. It won't be released until June, but just having the cover makes it real. A good cover, I think, is the first step to making a sale. If the cover is intriguing, I'll pick it up, check the back, and decide whether to purchase. I don't always read a few pages inside, especially if I'm familiar with the author. But with a new author - sometimes, but not always.

    There's all sorts of covers. Sometimes they're sexy. Check out these from fellow Banditas.

    Gotta love those abs! Yum!

    Gotta love the seduction!

    Sometimes the cover tells a story, like this one from Christine Wells.

    And sometimes they are just plain gorgeous.(Okay, I'm biased.)

    However, back to The Trouble with Moonlight. There is a slight error in the cover depiction. This is the story of a Victorian heroine who turns invisible in moonlight. She can't help it, it just happens. And it's just her skin, not her clothes. So to be technically correct, with that full moon shining up there over her shoulder, she should be invisible. The beautiful blue ball gown should be standing there up by its lonesome.

    I suppose with the period crinolines and corsetry, that's entirely possible, but it wouldn't necessarily make for a sexy or a seductive cover - so I appreciate having the heroine visible. What would really be cool is one of those holographic covers where she would be visable if you look at her one way, then move the cover and she disappears ;-) But I'd have to be a bit further up the food chain for such an expensive cover.

    My question for you: What influences your decision to buy a book?

    Is it the back cover blurb? A story set in a particular era or exotic setting? Is it the first page? How far do you read? What do you look for? Do you thumb through the book looking for specific scenes? Is the length a factor? Are you miffed when the cover doesn't match the story? Or do you roll with the punches?

    Of course there's Bandit booty to be had for a lucky commentor. I'm offering a signed copy of The Education of Mrs. Brimley, and a signed cover flat of The Trouble with Moonlight.

    And don't forget to skip on over to RomanceNovel.TV where fellow Banditas KJ Howe and I are talking about extreme research - with extreme prizes offered as well :-)
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I love this room.

Hook it up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Tina Ferraro -- "Hooked" on YA

    interviewed by Aunty Cindy

    A few months ago, my good buddy and red-hot YA author Tina Ferraro was kind enough to be one of our first guest bloggers here in the Lair. Well, it's a brand new year, Tina has a brand new book on the shelves NOW, and we are tickled PINK that she has come back for another guest blogger stint!

    AC: Welcome back to the Lair, Tina!

    Tina: Thanks, AC and all you Banditas for inviting me. I'm happy to be back!

    AC: Please tell us about your latest YA release, How To Hook A Hottie. Where did you get the idea and other inspirations for writing YA?

    Tina: Whereas in my previous book, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, I had an a-ha moment where the idea struck, How to Hook a Hottie happened through the course of several drafts. It wasn’t until a few pivotal characters started to breathe life that the story took off.

    Here’s the plot:

    Kate DelVecchio plans to be a millionaire before she's 20. When she agrees to go to a sports banquet with a hotshot baseball player, she stumbles upon a possible cash cow. The rest of the school is amazed that the no-nonsense Kate could hook such a hottie, and one by one approach her for help hooking their own. She doesn't know anything about getting guys, but for $100.00 a pop, she's more than willing to try, including inventing a 6-step-plan on How to Hook a Hottie. And how could that possibly backfire?

    AC: How was this book a different writing experience from your first, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress?

    Tina: The main character, Kate, is basically doing her time in high school, feels like she’s on the road to greater things. The heroines of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, as well as my next book, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, are fixated on their present lives, wanting to make the most of them and their high school experiences. I was definitely more the latter--very social and more about my friends than my grades--so writing Kate was a stretch for me. I often had to pull back and analyze my instincts versus what Kate would naturally do, which was not so much of a problem with the other two books.

    AC: Any advice to the As Yet Unpublished or Not Yet Published writers here in the Lair? Like things you wish you'd known before your first book came out? Or before your second book came out?

    Tina: My advice is to keep doing exactly this--networking. Reading and commenting on writers’ blogs, participating on writing loops and in critique groups, maybe entering contests. I believe that networking was a huge contributor in me getting an agent, making my first sale, and these days, keeping me “in the game.”

    AC: With the rave reviews both your books have received, Aunty is sure you'll be "in the game" for a good long time. What new and exciting things are on the horizon for you?

    Tina: In the spring of 2009, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys will be released. It’s about a 16 year-old girl who doesn’t get promoted to Varsity soccer with her teammates, and the crazy-but-just-might-work scheme that she concocts to get her coach’s attention, which includes kissing the prom king at the sports’ fair kissing booth. But first she needs to find out everything she can about kissing, and that help comes in the most unlikely of sources--the freshman guy across the street. But will maintaining this secret alliance with a froshie actually become more important than making Varsity?

    Right now I’m working on another contracted book, the title of which is still in negotiations, which will involve, among other things, a summer fling. The main character has some of Kate’s seriousness, but some of the playfulness of my other heroines, too, and I’m hopeful that together she and I can pull off this new book!

    AC: The ABC's of Kissing Boys sounds like another fun read! And with your talent and abilities, Aunty has no doubt you'll pull off the next book and continue to delight readers for years to come.

    Readers, to keep up with all the latest on Tina and her books be sure to check out her website:
    She also blogs with six other YA authors at Books, Boys and Buzz.

    Now Tina and AC have a question for YOU. Tina's girl-entrepreneur extraordinaire, Kate develops and sells a how-to plan for hooking hotties. What kind of how-to book or plan would YOU like to have? Don't be shy, you know anything goes here in the Lair.

    One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Tina's new release, How To Hook a Hottie
    . Good luck to all!Source URL:
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Cassondra's Bandit Booty!

    Okay, for everyone who's been so patient with me, here, finally , are my winners for not only December, but January blogs. I DO truly apologize. Unexpected 12-hour days at work, almost every day this month, is my lame excuse.

    I'm including an extra little bit for each of you because you've had to wait.

    The winner of the elfreda ica coffee mug from the December blog, "Oh the FLAME of it" is.......mshellion!

    The winner of the $5 B&N gift card from the January blog, "Last Chicken Roosting," is....... Maureen!

    Drop me an email at Cassondra (underscore) M AT Mindspring Dot Com and I'll get your stuff in the mail immediately. (Put elfreda ica Booty in the subject line so I'll recognize it as good email. ) THANKS EVERYONE!Source URL:
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Flashback: 1930's Berlin

Sunday, January 27, 2008


    by Suzanne Welsh

    Have you ever read a book and just loved it so much you gave your copy to every person you knew so they could read it too? Well, I used to do that. In fact, I did it so much, I was my own lending library! But then I started writing, hanging out with other writers and learning about the business of publishing from my published author friends.

    Guess what I learned? While passing around a book might flatter the author and give our friends a good read, it does little to help the author's sales numbers. Why should we as readers care about the author's sales? Because, unless they're a household name with a regular spot on the NYT bestseller list, each author's next contract depends on the percentage of sale-through their last book had. In other words, if they had a print-run of 30,000 books, they needed to sell a large percentage of those books to get offered another contract. Each time we give that brand new book we just read to someone else whom we know would just love it, we've taken a sale away from that author.

    So what do we do? We want to get that author's book to as many people who read as we can. We want to make sure that author has lots of sales so she/he can give us more great stories to read. The answer is simple. Word of mouth.

    I no longer hand out my copies of books to people. I show them the cover, give them my glowing verbal review, tell them where they can buy the book. Sometimes I buy them a copy and mail them off. Whenever my critique partner, Sandy Blair, has a new book out, I buy five copies. One for me to read, one for my mom, one for each of my girls and one for my two aunts, (they live in the same house so they share). Recently, Sandy's newest book, A Highlander For Christmas, came out and I was actually a character in the book! Needless to say, I not only bought my five copies, but challenged everyone I work with to buy the book and try to find me. It's been great fun having them not only tell me how much they loved her book, but that "Yep, I found you!"

    Last year at National, Anna Campbell's Claiming The Courtesan had just come out a few months before. I'd read it before going to the conference, so when she was in the Avon signing, I took the time to stand a few feet off and recommend to everyone who came in that they needed to get a copy from her. These books didn't give Anna sales, but they did give her lots of new fans, whom are happily reading Untouched and salivating for her next regency noir!

    I got Julie Garwood's newest book, Shadow Music, for Christmas. I read it over four days, (stretching it out because I knew it would be a while before I got another new book by her). I loved the story. Have recommended it to everyone on my e-mail list who reads. And today I went to and ordered another copy to send to my mom. She'll love it and it repays her for that copy of Julie's book,The Gift, that I "borrowed" years ago and never returned. It also helps my favorite author's sales numbers! Because I want to read more of her books for years to come.

    So here's my list of books I'd like you to buy:
    Untouched by Anna Campell
    Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
    Warrior by Kinley MacGregor
    Hot Wheels And High Heels by Jane Graves
    The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritson
    Does She Dare by Tawny Weber
    Just Wicked Enough by Lorraine Heath **the perfect romance novel**
    Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
    A Highlander For Christmas by Sandy Blair **let me know if you find me!**
    The Education of Mrs. Brimley by Donna MacMeans
    Scandal's Daughter by Christine Wells
    Texas Princess by Jodi Thomas
    Touch Of Texas by Tracy Garrett
    Every Night I'm Yours by Christie Kelley

    If you could give me a book to read to hook me on an author, new or established, what one would it be? Who would you buy books for to hook them on reading romances?
    One lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of A Highlander For Christmas!
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