Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall Lineup

    by Christie Kelley

    Fall is here, which means World Series, cool temperatures and spooky things. But in the Lair, we have launch parties, guests galore and of course, hot cabana boys!

    Since we all love a party, let's start with our launch parties for the month! Mark your calendar for October 8th when Beth Andrews will be bringing out the drinks and the boys for her release, His Secret Agenda. You know wild things will happen that day.

    Not to be outdone, on October 27th, Anna Campbell will be celebrating her release, Captive of Sin. Who knows what wild things Anna will have for us that day.

    Just when you thought it couldn't get any better than two launch parties in a month...I bring you our guests for the month.

    On Friday, 2nd October, Harlequin Historicals author Michelle Willingham will be Anna Campbell's guest in the Lair. Michelle writes passionate, action-packed romance set in medieval Ireland and is about to launch her first Victorian trilogy. She's giving away her two latest two books so make sure you swing by!

    October 5th, Ellen Dugan joins us in the Lair. She'll be talking about writing paranormal and how to get things right!

    On October 6, Claudia Dain will be guesting with Nancy Northcott and discussing what inspires writers, among other things. She will also be celebrating the mass market reissue of The Courtesan's Secret, the second amazing installment her scintillating Courtesan Chronicles. No chance to chat with The Incomparable Claudia Dain is to be missed!

    On October 9, the vivacious Deb Marlowe will be visiting the Lair with Caren Crane. We will be among the first to hear about the American release of her Harlequin Historical, Her Cinderella Season. Make sure you stop by to hear how Miss Lily Beecham gets herself invited to a Society ball and what sort of naughtiness ensues!

    On October 11th, Lair favorite Denise Rossetti returns to chat about her upcoming release, Thief Of Light, the second in her hot fantasy series, The Four-Sided Pentacle.

    Join us on October 12 when Sarah arrives to chat about her debut, Renegade. Sarah will be along to entertain us with tales of her Renegades.

    October 16, Laura Anne Gilman makes her first appearance in the Lair to celebrate the release of Flesh and Fire, the first volume in the Vineart Wars fantasy series.

    October 19, Patricia Rice returns to chat about Mystic Warrior, the concluding volume in her Mystic Isle paranormal series.

    On October 20th, author Samantha Hunter will be here to talk about getting Caught In The Act, her latest release for Harlequin Blaze and part of the Dressed To Thrill miniseries!

    October 21, Jacquie D'Alessandro makes her Lair debut with her Blaze Historical, Touch Me.

    Join us on October 22nd when Kate Walker will be in the Lair. Kate Walker has been writing for Harlequin Presents since 1984. In that time she has over 54 novels published in over thirty-five countries and total sales amount to over twelve million copies of her books. Kate Walker is also the author of the award-winning 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance. Kate will be here to celebrate the launch of her latest book from Harlequin Presents, Kept For Her Baby.

    October 26, Berta Platas, better known in the Lair as half of Gillian Summers, will make her first solo appearance. She'll discuss how life, love and winning the lottery mesh for the heroine of Lucky Chica.

    Last but certainly not least, on October 28th, we welcome back NY Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath to the Lair.

    Finally, our Bandita Contests for the month:

    Anna Campbell is offering readers a chance to win Captive of Sin! By the time this contest comes to a close, Captive of Sin will be available from a bookseller near you. To celebrate this portentous moment in the history of the world (or at least in the history of Anna Campbell), she’s giving away not one, not two, not three, but FOUR signed copies of the book to people who enter this contest.This question is really easy. All you have to do is tell her the name of Gideon’s house and where in England it is situated. Just a hint – you might find the answer in the excerpt from Captive of Sin on her Books page:

    Just email Anna on and she’ll draw at random from the correct responses. The contest closes 31st October, 2009.

    For more information, please check out Anna’s contest page:

    So what do you think? Sounds like a great month, doesn't it? What guest can't you wait for? Or maybe you're waiting for the launch parties, like me!

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Wednesday Giveaway!

Dappled forest

Wedding kiss


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Prepare to be...Seduced By Shadows

    Interview by Kirsten Scott

    Hey Banditas and Bandita Buddies -- I am thrilled to welcome a fantastic debut author who is certain to be on the NY Times list before you can blink an eye. Her name is Jessa Slade, and she's a local chapter mate of mine from the Rose City Romance Writers! So...onto the interview!

    KIRSTEN: Hey Jessa, welcome to the elfreda ica! I am thrilled to introduce you to all the BBs (Bandita Buddies) and my fellow Banditas -- and keep your eyes out for Sven the masseuse -- he can really ease that writer's cramp. Oh, and one of the cabana boys will be along shortly with your drink. What would you like?

    JESSA: I’m not ashamed to say I prefer girlie drinks: Sweet and frothy. (The secret of girlie drinks is, of course, most of them deliver a stiletto-heel kick that’ll leave your head buzzing, which is why men can’t drink them.) Since my story is set in the chill of Chicago in November, I’ll take a girlie coffee drink, a BFK. That’s Bailey’s, Frangelico and Kahlua. In a fine establishment like this (i.e. surrounded by romance writers and readers) I’m sure you don’t mind if I switch out the coffee for hot cocoa. And get a swirl of whipped cream on top. Plus a few chocolate sprinkles. Ah yes, now we can get started.

    KIRSTEN: Lovely! I’ll have one of those myself! Cabana boy – fetch us two BFKs! Now, tell us all about your fabulous debut, Seduced by Shadows.

    JESSA: SEDUCED BY SHADOWS is the first in a new urban fantasy romance series, The Marked Souls, from Signet Eclipse, out October 6 (finally!). Repentant demons, seeking to earn their redemption, possess vulnerable souls to wage an unending battle against the forces of evil in our world. These teshuva demons and their talyan men think they’ve seen everything in their immortal lives… until the first female warrior arrives.

    From the back cover:

    The war between good and evil has raged for millennia, but now evil is winning and the Marked Souls are caught in the middle.

    After an accident left her near death, Sera Littlejohn is struggling to piece together her life. But when a violet-eyed stranger reveals a supernatural battle veiled in the shadows, Sera is tempted to the edge of madness by a dangerous desire.

    Ferris Archer takes Sera under his wing now that she is talyan, possessed by a repentant demon with hellish powers. Archer and his league of warriors have long risked their demon-shattered souls to stop darker spirits from wreaking havoc, but they've never fought beside a female talya before -- and never in all his centuries has Archer found a woman who captivates him like Sera.

    With the balance shifting between good and evil, passion and possession, Sera and Archer must defy the darkness and dare to embrace a love that will mark them forever.

    KIRSTEN: Wow (hushed silence). That sounds intense.

    JESSA: The monsters are on the intense side, and the hero and heroine have a few shadows in their pasts, but who doesn’t have darkness, monsters, and shadows on their heels, right? And I’ve always loved that saying: Only when it’s dark do we finally see the on-rushing headlights of our doom. No, wait, that’s not the saying. The saying is: Only when it’s dark do we see the stars. We only learn our true character under pressure, which the dark side provides in spades.

    KIRSTEN: You've built an incredibly detailed world for your books. How do you go about the writing process? What comes first -- world-building, plot, or characters? Or a mix of all three? And where did you come up with all those cool words you've coined? Did you dream up a whole new language, like Tolkien?

    JESSA: Ooh, you referenced me and Tolkien in the same paragraph! Fangirl shriek moment! I can only dream of some day writing with Tolkien’s vibrant complexity (and scoring Peter Jackson as director for the movie!) and—since I’m dreaming—Frank Herbert’s vivid depth. I re-read THE HOBBIT and DUNE regularly, and every time, I’m blown away by the worlds they’ve created and the characters that move through their stories. (Although both stories need more heroines, agreed?)

    I, tragically, am a hack. I stole my words from mythologies and religions around the world. At least I’m an unbiased thief. The reason why I borrowed so widely is I’m fascinated with the way every culture attempts to explain good and evil. From the Brothers Grimm to Mao’s little book, from the earliest Babylonian creation tales to the latest Joss Whedon, we’re constantly parsing good from evil. From a scientific angle, you could say it must be hard-wired into our brain to seek to understand why bad things happen to good people and why good people do bad things. But from a more liberal arts perspective, you have to wonder WHY we need to understand. Could it be BECAUSE evil truly exists, and not in some metaphoric sense either, but in a very literal sense? But what if good and evil can’t be separated out so neatly? What if we’re all good AND evil?

    From that question—If we all have a bit of evil in us, does that make us evil?—was born the Marked Souls.

    KIRSTEN: Jessa, I want to read this book more with every word you speak! Now, putting aside these questions of good and evil, let’s get down to details: I know a lot of our readers love a bad-boy. Can you tell us about your hero, Archer? He's enough to make a girl's spine tingle...

    JESSA: Oh, yes, spine. That’s what’s tingling ;) Ferris Archer is a bad boy by necessity, not by choice. He was raised a farmer’s son, and he had a simple plan laid out for him: Sunlight, growing things, a walk down the lane with some quiet girl. But life—and death, and good and evil, and fate, and love—targeted him for something more.

    Archer cultivates his bad boy qualities—the sharp edges in his personality and his blade, more than a touch of danger, not to mention the black trench coat—to hide his regret at forgetting something so dear to him as the scent of honeysuckle. Sera, the heroine, brings that back but also forces him to remember things he’d rather stayed forgotten, like, oh, his humanity. Oops.

    My favorite, decidedly non-PC parts of a bad boy work well in a Marked Soul. All that arrogance and violence are harnessed for the power of good. Well, and for the heroine, of course :) She better be ready for the responsibility of handling his, er, weapon.

    KIRSTEN: So now that we’re all panting to read this book can you tell about your path to publication? Was this the first story you’ve written?

    JESSA: Oh, thanks for making me choke on my BFK! Sold my first story. Snork. Almost a hundred rejections over more than ten years on nearly a million final draft words. The math isn’t exact (Damn it, Jim, I’m a writer, not a mathematician) but if you round to the nearest heartache, that’s how long it took me to get here. Never let it be said I took the easy way to anything. At least the slow and steady pace gave me an ulcer… I mean, gave me a chance not only to learn the craft of writing but to discover more about the business and the mindset of being an author. Still, I think I’d advocate the overnight success route if you have the opportunity.

    KIRSTEN: Any advice for your fellow writers, now that you've hit the big time?

    JESSA: Well, I’m still small-time, but I think I could give you the advice that the big boys and girls would: Keep writing. With every failure and every success, keep writing. You are a writer when you are writing. Let everything else fall by the wayside when you set that blinking cursor to blank page and write.

    Will it be easy? Never has been for me. But whatever. Keep writing. I consider writing a painful chore, slogging away at the keyboard, day after day. But in the striving, I do see something I guess I’d call sublime. There’s a sacred calling in the telling of story.

    KIRSTEN: What beautiful words – a real inspiration. Thanks so much for being here today.

    JESSA: Thank YOU for inviting me! I’ll be stopping back throughout the day, so if anybody has any questions or wants to debate fantasy casting for Bilbo Baggins in the remaking of The Hobbit, ask away!

    Please, feel free to pepper Jessa with questions, offer your suggestions for recasting The Hobbit, or even add your philosophical musings -- is there good and bad in everything? Is that why we love those bad boy heros so much -- because we can't help but want to redeem them?

    Jessa will be giving away a copy of her debut, SEDUCED BY SHADOWS to one lucky commentor, so get cracking!!
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Santorini hotel: Astra Apartments

    Dear readers, many of you commented yesterday that you'd love to go to Santorini (rightly so!), so I wanted to pass on a hotel recommendation.

    Santorini has quite a few villages, all with their own personalities. Oia is famously picturesque and touristy; Fira is packed with bars and clubs, and the quieter Imerovigli is perched on a cliff top between the two.

    We decided to stay in Imerovigli and were so glad we did. The sunsets were breathtaking, and the village was more peaceful and less chaotic that the others. At night, you can walk along a coastal footpath to the Imerovigli Taverna, sit outside overlooking the sea. (Confession: We went to that same taverna four nights in a row, which I know is against Vacation Rules, but we couldn't help it!)

    Our hotel was Astra Apartments (which we booked through the amazing site Mr. & Mrs. Smith; it's totally addictive). I would recommend it hands down, a thousand percent. The owners are warm and gracious, the rooms are romantic and modern (with a giant his-and-hers shower!), breakfast is served in your room, and you can sit at the pool with a glass of wine in hand and watch the sunset. Amazing.

    Anyway, just wanted to pass that along, in case any of you are planning trips! xoxo
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Round glasses

Candle wallpaper

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Enemy

    by Susan Sey
    When I was in high school, I was an avid athlete. Not gifted, sadly--no sports scholarships for me, much to my father's chagrin--but I was an enthusiastic joiner nonetheless. I loved being part of a team. Loved the routine of practice, the high of competition & the comfort of sharing a loss (or, on rarer occasions, celebrating a win) with comrades.

    When I graduated from high school & moved on to college, there wasn't really an avenue for me to continue playing sports. I went to a Big Ten school and didn't have the talent (or the size) to qualify for any of their sports programs. There was the intramural sports option, I guess, but it was expensive, and I was a shy kid. I didn't know nearly enough people to put together a team, & hadn't the first clue how to wangle my way onto an existing one.

    So like a lot of young adults, I stopped playing sports. I graduated, traveled, got married, graduated again, had babies. I didn't have time to miss it for several years there. But recently I got an invitation I couldn't refuse.


    Yep, kickball. Like third graders play. On the play ground. With a red rubber bouncy ball. My husband and I were invited to join a summer kickball league for adults, & we accepted. I thought, sure. I'll play. It's kickball, right? It's ridiculous. Too ridiculous to be taken seriously. It'll be a fun way to get to know other post-sporty people & enjoy the summer.

    And then I played. And it was fun. It is fun. Kicking the crap out of one of those red rubber balls is just as satisfying as it always was. But I was startled to find it was more than just fun. It was also surprisingly...cathartic.

    Because team sports provide something far more important than exercise & camaraderie. They provide an outlet. For what, you ask? For all the aggression & anger produced by dealing with normal life. Life is so often frustrating & unwieldy & disappointing. Sometimes I swear people (cashiers, my children, other drivers) thwart me just for the heck of it.

    But I, unlike my two year old, am not allowed to pitch a fit in the produce aisle & get it out of my system. No, I have to shove it aside, smile through my teeth & make nice anyway, because that's what grownups do.

    The exception to this, I've discovered, is sports.

    Not that we allow or condone poor sportsmanship. We don't cheat or yell, hurt one another or behave at all unpleasantly on the field. But for the space of one hour, we are free to hate the people on the other team.

    Okay, hate is too strong a word. But for the space of that game, those people are the enemy. The other. It's us against them & we get to try like hell to beat them silly. It's harmless, it's all in fun but it's also deeply satisfying. To be part of an US that's united in an effort to conquer THEM. It speaks to a deeply rooted human drive to belong & to triumph, I think. A drive that's often out of place in a modern world where battles are fought via keyboards & soundbites.

    Kickball gave me an outlet to indulge that primal urge without suffering any real world consequences, & it's been good for me. I'm happier, more relaxed, & aside from barking my shin during an accidental slide into second, pretty healthy, too. I'm already dreading the end of the season because it means another long, dark winter full of things that want to thwart me (balky car engines, slick highways, children who resist mittens) with no social appropriate outlet for my anger.

    Thank god we've been asked to join the dodgeball team.

    So how about you? Did you ever give up something you loved, only to rediscover it later in life? When it comes to sports, are you a player or a fan? Or are sports just not your thing, & you have other ways to deal with life's little frustrations? Let's hear about them! Source URL:
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