Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coming Attractions--2010 enters with fireworks!

    by KJ Howe

    Happy 2010 everyone!!! To kick off this auspicious year, let’s indulge in fireworks, streamers, horns, champagne, and a chock-full schedule of phenomenal authors. Get your day-timers ready as you don’t want to miss any of our exciting guests:

    On January 4, Elizabeth Naughton will be visiting the lair. She will be talking with Trish (and everyone in Bandita-land) about the third in her Stolen series, Stolen Seduction.

    On Tuesday, 5th January, brilliant debut author Courtney Milan is Anna Campbell's guest. She'll be talking about her wonderful romance PROOF BY SEDUCTION!

    On January 6, Lair regular Barbara Monajem steps up to the plate for a chat that'll include her Harlequin Undone, Notorious Eliza.

    On Thursday, 7th January, Anna Campbell hosts fantastic historical writer Beverley Kendall who will be discussing her debut book SINFUL SURRENDER.

    On Jan. 8, Trish is hosting Helen Scott Taylor, whose second novel, The Phoenix Charm, comes out in January. It's a story filled with fairies, water nymphs, and other magical creatures.

    On Jan. 9, Trish is hosting MJ Fredrick, whose latest romantic adventure, Breaking Daylight, will be out from Samhain on Jan. 5. It's a story of a sexy Special Forces hero and a beautiful woman whose been held prisoner by a drug lord, and their life-and-death trek through a South American jungle.

    On January 12, RITA winner Catherine Mann joins us with Renegade, the third novel in her action-packed Dark Ops series from Berkley Sensation.

    On January 13, Kensington Author Carrie Lofty visits The Lair to discuss her new historical release Scoundrel's Kiss.

    On January 19, Misa Ramirez will be guesting with JoMama. She'll be talking about her second book in her Lola Cruz series, Hasta la Vista, Lola!

    On January 21, author and writing teacher Mary Buckham joins us to discuss creativity.

    On January 26, Blaze author Kathleen O'Reilly joins us with RT Top Pick and great New Year's story Midnight Resolutions.

    On January 29, bestselling author NYT Bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson will be hosted by Suz!!!

    There we have it…although I’m sure there’ll be a few other surprises thrown in to spice up our intro to 2010. Happy New Years from all the Banditas!!! I have the pleasure of giving away the first prize of 2010, a $10 (to celebrate the year!) gift certificate from Barnes and Noble. All you have to do is tell us what New Years resolution you won’t make because you know you won’t keep it. The most entertaining answer wins!

    Now, we also want to celebrate big moments for the Banditas—one of our lovely of our Australian contingent, Anna Campbell, has just received the gorgeous Australian edition of CAPTIVE OF SIN. It's a lovely trade paperback that isn’t available overseas so she thought she'd share the joy. TWO people can choose which of Anna's four books they’d like to receive in the bigger version so the prize is a signed copy of either CLAIMING THE COURTESAN, UNTOUCHED, TEMPT THE DEVIL or CAPTIVE OF SIN. All you have to do is email Anna on with the title of her June 2010 release. You might find the answer in January’s Latest News. For more information, please visit Anna's contest page: URL:
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Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Things At Which I Suck

    by Susan Sey

    Brace yourselves. This could be a long list.

    Oh, fine. It's New Year's Eve. You probably have somewhere fabulous to be. I'll give you the abridged version. I need to be snoozing on the couch by 9 p.m. anyway.

    Top Three Things At Which I Am Not Very Good:

    1. Sales.
    2. Synopses
    3. Salads

    (Sidenote: I never realized all the stuff I'm bad at started with an S. Huh. At least my awfulness is alliterative

    I'll take them in reverse order

    Salads: Yeah, it's embarassing but I can't made a salad. I think it's because I used to be a vegetarian. (FYI for all those steakhouses out there? You can take a pile of wilted iceberg lettuce, drown it in ranch dressing and call it dinner, but that doesn't make it so.) I suffered through enough of those iceberg disasters to have developed a knee-jerk aversion to the very concept of salad-as-dinner, & sadly cannot to this day make a proper salad. My heart just isn't in it. So if you ever invite me to a potluck, please understand. I'm not bringing salad, & if you force me into it, you'll be disappointed. Sorry.

    Synopses: I can't write short to save my life. My hat is off to all you category writers out there because you ladies know how to tell a tight story. It's like poetry, where every word is perfectly chosen & pulls its weight. This is a skill I dearly wish I had but even my emails run into the hundreds of words. My grocery lists span two pages because I editorialize. ("Yellow onions. Sweet if you can find them. Not the white ones. Too strong! Not purple--funny color...") It's just that--okay, I'm cutting myself off because at this point, I'm only demonstrating the problem

    Sales: My dad is a sales guy. He can talk to anybody. He can sell anything. He loves this work & he's wonderful at it. Apparently this isn't a hereditary talent because I get hives when I have to call the babysitter. (In case you were wondering, she's a thirteen year old girl, and I want to give her money. How hard could it be? But it's still calling up somebody who might have to tell me no, however kindly. It's torturous and I hate it.)

    So here's my problem: I have a book coming out this summer. It's my first one & I'm deliriously happy about it. Or I would be if I didn't have to sell the damn thing.

    Self-promotion. Another S word at which I suck.

    There' s a lot of pressure on debut authors these days. In addition to writing a great book, you also have to have a great website. It should have fresh content all the time & offer lots of extra ways for readers to connect with you & your characters.

    You should blog. A lot. Everywhere. You should be witty and warm and find ways to gently promote your work without coming off as a user who only dropped in to plug her book

    You should do book signings and hold launch parties--things that involve walking into book stores, asking to speak (gulp) with the manager (who you don't know from adam,) and convincing him/her that you have enough friends & family to justify ordering a few copies of your book.

    You will be required to print up bookmarks, postcards and a slew of adorable, charming, book-inspired tchotchkes (I'm drawing a complete blank on that one, by the way). They'll need to be distributed to any breathing person you might encounter for at least six months prior to your release date.

    You'll need to make up a press packet, then call up a bunch of print journalists (gulp), radio announcers (gulp), and TV journalists (GULP) to see if they want to interview you. This is a) calling strangers and b) asking them to participate in your discomfort. The classic double whammy. Ouch.

    Oh, & you'll definitely want to purchase some incredibly expensive ad space in each of half a dozen magazines.

    And if you don't do even one of these things?


    {pant, pant}

    Okay, so maybe it's not that bad. Is it? Oh, lord, I feel a panic attack coming on. Is that a hive? Right there? On my neck? Oh god. I feel faint. Somebody hold me.

    Clearly, I need help here. Besides writing a darn good book, what do you like to see an author do? Is it the blogging? The signings? The website? The ads? Is it accessibility? Is it a sparkling personality? And what turns you OFF? Is there anything an author could do (or fail to do) that would make you turn up your nose and toss their book (no matter how good) into the garbage disposal?

    p.s. Oh crap. I forgot to mention my title, my release date or my publisher. Sheesh. I told you I was bad at this. Okay, take two. Ready?

    Look for Money Honey by Susan Sey in July of 2010 from Berkley Sensation!

    Whew. How'd I do?Source URL:
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The Shining

    On Monday evening, Alex convinced me that it was a good idea for us to turn off all the lights and watch The Shining. Needless to say, I totally freaked out and had to check under the bed before going to sleep that night (seriously) (I'm 30). So, yesterday, Alex showed me this hilarious spoof trailer from 2006, which makes the movie look like a romantic comedy. I was dying laughing. Now that's more my speed.

    Do you like scary movies?Source URL:
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Home Inspiration: Frame Walls

    We're slowly but surely starting to put together a nursery (exciting!). I love the idea of having a frame wall, so the baby can look up from its crib and see all its loved ones smiling down on him or her. So, I think we're going to roll up our sleeves and make one! Here are two photos I'm using for inspiration. xo

    (Top photo by Todd Selby; bottom photo by Annie Schlechter/Domino)Source URL:
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Shepherds Returned to Their Flocks

    by Jo Robertson

    I’m not particularly religious, but I've spent a number of years studying various religions and the King James Bible as literature.

    Luke records the miracle of the birth of the Baby and includes the account of the shepherds. You know the story – the long trek to Bethlehem to be taxed, the no-room-in-the-inn scenario, the cave and the manger, the angels and the shepherds.

    Because angels with wings and holy seraphim seem more metaphoric than literal to me, I always found what those shepherds did after visiting the manger more interesting than their actually getting there.

    Ah, thos
    e shepherds! How I loved the them.

    Since the concept of a shepherd and his or her flock has universal application, I was intrigued by what the shepherds did afterwards.

    They returned to their flocks, Luke says.

    And although they told the glorious news and sang praises for God’s gift, they returned to their flocks.


    They didn’t rush out and build a holy tabernacle. They didn’t write up the story and publish it in the Bethlehem Daily Journal. Nor did th
    ey try to sell their sheep and get a higher fee for them because they’d actually witnessed the babe in the manger.

    Instead the shepherds returned to their flocks.

    They went about the daily business of herding sheep. Sheep are rather dim-witted creatures. They need a shepherd to tend them, guide them, watch over them.

    Let me extend the analogy.

    If we’re all shepherds like those ancient commoners, what or who represents our “flocks”?

    That’s fairly simple.

    Teachers teach students.

    Parents parent children, and often pets.

    Writers write books.

    Presidents preside over governments.

    Grandparents – ah yes, they simply spoil those same children or pets.

    Readers read books.

    And so it goes.

    I've been to the Grotto at Bethlehem, an unassuming sight, but I’m not particularly concerned whether the shepherds visited a real hillside cave and found a new-born child two thousand years ago, or whether it’s a beautifu
    l metaphor.

    What I care about is the message.

    The shepherds returned to their flocks.

    Thinking about those shepherds gives me new resolve to return to my “flock,” whether it’s my family, my career, my church, my hobbies. Or in my case at this juncture in my life – dedication to my writing.

    We’re about to herald a new year – a whole new decade! How cool is that? The thought of an entire decade stretching out before me unblemished by my stupid mistakes is really intriguing. I want to rush out and write something on those pristine years! I want to slough off the old and begin anew!

    What about you, readers? What would you like to focus your energies on? What would you like to rededicate yourself to? If you are the shepherd in your life, what’s the “flock” you’re returning to? What commitments will you make, what renewed purpose?
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J. Crew tees

Rainy wedding

Modern wreath

Lindsay Lohan has a new boyfriend


    God, do we have to do this after time? “Lindsay is definitely starting to turn to him when things get bad.” Because they’ve been dating for what? A week? And Adam Senn has already become a bit player in Lindsay’s drama. Yeah, I bet he lasts.

    By the way, Dina Lohan wants everyone to know that after Lindsay’s whirlwind trip to India - in which she took credit for saving the lives of 40 children and was called out for her lies - Lindsay is now “a changed woman.” Dina told Page Six that Lindsay was “humbled and moved” by the trip and that “Lindsay definitely wants to give more back. We are now planning a trip to help the children of Guatemala — which will be filmed by Oprah’s network.” For f-ck’s sake. Not Central America! That’s where the drugs come from!


    Just hours after the hearing - it was reported that Dina is demanding $40,000 in child support, while Michael claimed Sunday that it’s only $15,000 - spies say Lindsay showed up at her sister Ali’s 16th birthday party at Abe & Arthur’s with Senn, whom we reported she was dating on Dec. 10.

    And while her, err, doting parents can’t agree on much, they both seem to think that Adam is a winner.

    “Dina really likes him,” the source says. “She thinks he is ‘good for her.’”

    Michael wasn’t on the guest list for Ali’s fete, but he too seemed pleased with Adam when asked about Linds’ new man Sunday.


    “If he’s a good guy and he has no addictions, and he’s a good influence on her, then God bless him. It’s a good thing,” he told us.

    And although Michael says he would have liked to meet the former “City” star at the party, he admits he’s not shocked he wasn’t invited. “I’m not surprised I wasn’t welcome at Ali’s dinner,” he says. “In light of what’s going on between Dina and I, and being so public with the things I’ve said in regards to Lindsay’s well-being, I can understand how Lindsay and the kids would be upset and not want me there.”

    Indeed, Lindsay has publicly dismissed her dead-beat-dad, but an insider claims that his absence is still hard on the troubled starlet.

    “Everything that’s gone on between Lindsay and her dad has really taken a toll on her,” the source confides, adding that “Adam is the one really positive thing going on in her life.”

    The snitch also claims that Senn and Lohan were texting and calling each other over the holiday weekend - and are certainly acting more serious than “just friends,” which LiLo has claimed via her Twitter page.

    [gallery_main-1108_lindsay_lohan_shopping_02.jpg]Source URL:
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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Timeless Sandy Blair

    Suz: MAC DUFF'S SECRET is the third time travel romance you've written. What is it about time travel romances that you like?

    Sandy: The possibility-the fantasy--of time travel fascinates me and I often find myself wondering how I'd react if thrown back or forward in time.

    Would I-or a particular character--be intimidated by the lack of modern conveniences or become inventive in an effort to reestablish creature comforts? (I.e. try to make toilet paper.) Would I be brave enough to confront injustice or those displaying prejudices we now find appalling? If my hero knew from a modern perspective that something terrible was about to happen would he dare try to change history, knowing there'd be a domino effect, that everything-good and bad--from that point forward would also change? If throw forward in time how would I cope with learning everyone I held dear had died in some horrible fashion? These are the things I find myself thinking about when staring at the ceiling at 3:00AM.

    Suz: Are there any unique challenges to time travel romances?

    Sandy: Yes. The first challenge is crafting a fresh situation in which the possibility of time-travel is in some way believable. (Standing stones and fairy rings have been done repeatedly.)

    The second challenge depends on where the protagonist (s) is heading-whether back in time, forward to the present, or into the future. The author may have to "world build" or do in-depth research into a particular time period (s) and in some cases, do both.

    The last hurdle is making a protagonist's reactions to a "new reality" ring true for the reader, which often requires some soul searching on the author's part.

    Suz: MAC DUFF'S SECRET is also your second novella. I think you do these very well. What do you like about writing for anthologies? And what do you see as the unique challenges to writing them?

    Sandy: Thank you for the compliment. To be truthful I must admit to having an ambivalent relationship with anthologies. I love getting "the call." There's no rejection. The editor has come to me. Yahoo! Better yet, I don't have to come up with a High Concept. The editor has given it to me. Yahoo x 2! Riding high on these thoughts, I always say, "Yes! I'd love to do a novella for this anthology."

    The minute I hang up the phone that's when the hate part-the panic--kicks in. My mind starts screeching, "They only want how many pages?!? How can anyone write a story worth reading using so few words? You can't even say hello in under 50, you idiot! And you promised to deliver in 90 days?! What were you thinking? What?!"

    A few glasses of wine later I've usually settled down, have a Universal theme and "What if?" scenario in mind, am ready to bounce these off my trusty Cp (Bless you!) and get down to the hard work of making these characters empathetic/believable. And somehow it all comes together on time.

    Suz: So, give us a quick peek at MAC DUFF'S SECRET without giving away too much, since it is a novella.

    Sandy: Would love to.

    "How bad could it be?" That's all Sarah Colbert thought when she agreed to chaperone her private school's sixth grade field trip through Edinburgh. She's about to find out when she and her students find themselves trapped in a Highland glen that time forgot with a battle-scarred warrior they'll never forget.

    Suz: Are you working on anything new that we can look forward to reading?

    Sandy: I currently working on three novels; two light-hearted Scotland-set historical Romances and my first historical (biographical) fiction, which is generating loads of personal angst and anticipation. After that, who knows? I may start working on the Gothic Romance I've had simmering on the back burner for two years. (He's a dark and brooding sort of way. ) weigh in readers...Do you like time travels? What is your favorite part of them? And do you like big anthology books like the Mamoth books?

    Sandy will be giving away a copy of her anthology MAC DUFF'S SECERET in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF TIME TRAVEL ROMANCES to one lucky commentor.
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Sex & the City 2 Trailer

Jenny's birth story

Country house

    Welcome back! Hope you had a wonderful holiday. We just got back from sunny California, and now I'm daydreaming about warm balmy days. Take a look at this couple's rad country house in upstate New York (what a dream!)...

    You can play ping-pong with a pup...

    ...stop to smell the wildflowers...

    ...swim in the backyard... whisky on wooden beams...

    ...and make your own pickles and jam (yum).

    And, when asked what surprised them most about country life, they answered, "Secret waterfalls and bears." Awesome!

    (Photos by Todd Selby)Source URL:
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