Friday, April 30, 2010

Lots of Awesomeness on Tap for May

    April showers bring May flowers...and tons of fantastic fun here in the Bandit Lair. Here's a sneak peek at what's coming up this month.

    May 3 -- The wonderful and talented Jo Davis returns to the Lair. Be sure to have your fans handy because she's got a new firefighter book out, Line of Fire. And the guy on the cover is mighty purty.

    May 4 -- It's time for another Bandita Launch Party! This time, we're celebrating the release of Christine Wells' Sweetest Little Sin. Isn't that cover simply divine?

    May 5 -- Tawny hosts fellow Harlequin Blaze author Samantha Hunter. Samantha's new release, Make Your Move, has a posh bakery owner who makes aphrodisiac cookies as a heroine and her naughty professor type business partner who just might be a wolf in geek's clothing. Oh, sounds delicious!

    May 6 -- Nancy hosts Gerri Russell, who'll be discussing the timeless allure of knights. I know the knight on the front of her latest cover is definitely alluring and, um, muscular. :)

    May 7 -- Kate is hosting New York Times best-selling author Susan Mallery. Her Chasing Perfect, the first in the Fool's Gold series, is out this month from HQN.

    May 8 -- Happy Birthday to us! We'll be raising the roof to celebrate the Lair's third birthday. Aunty Cindy has a special post from the Bandita Buddies planned that you won't want to miss.

    May 19 -- Kathleen O'Reilly will be visiting the Lair to talk about summer love. Ah, summer love. And I like that tag line at the bottom of the cover...Some nights are made to be naughty.

    May 20 -- Hey, we've already had two parties this month. Let's have another. It's Launch Party time for Beth Andrews' Do You Take This Cop? from Harlequin Superromance.

    May 27 -- We're Launch Party crazy this month! Before May gives way to June, let's have one final bash for Anna Campbell's My Reckless Surrender, her latest historical release from Avon. Lots of giveaways and mayhem featuring cabana boys! Anna is starting the celebrations early -- hic -- after getting a Top Pick and a wonderful review from Romantic Times so who knows what state she'll be in by the end of the month?

    To celebrate the release some more, Anna is giving away five copies of My Reckless Surrender (with that gorgeous, sensual, yellow cover) on her website. Just e-mail her at and tell her where and when My Reckless Surrender is set. Clue -- you might find out in the excerpt on her Books page. The contest closes May 31, and you can get more details on the Contest page of her site.

    May 29 -- I turn 40! Wah!!! I will need commiserations and assurances that I don't look 40.Source URL:
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Margo's Winner!

    Thanks, everyone, for a great day in the lair on Thursday! Margo has chosen her winner and it's:


    Eva, you've won your choice of either WILD or TAKEN BY THE LAIRD. Congratulations! Please email Margo on margomaguire @ (no spaces) with your snail mail details and she'll get your book off to you!Source URL:
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Have a fun weekend!

Picnic club

    Every summer, I daydream about having a ton of picnics, but end up having fewer than I'd like. So, wouldn't it be fun to start a Summer Picnic Club? I've been thinking of inviting friends to meet at different parks around town every other Saturday. Everyone would bring their own blanket, plus a snack to share, and Alex and I would also bring frisbees and a bubble machine (and the baby!). It would be so much fun to have a recurring outdoorsy event to look forward to.

    P.S. Refinery 29 posted a picnic guide today. I think it's a sign. :)

    (Photos of our wedding brunch picnic by Max Wanger)Source URL:
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Sammy the Seagull

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Deep Fried and Delicious

    by Jo Robertson

    Okay, here’s the thing. I just lost ten pounds on Weight Watchers, and I’m feeling a tad smug and a bit self-righteous.

    Almost wanna do the Nanna, Nanna Dance.

    So I've been thinking of healthy foods even as I crave all kinds of sweets and fried goodies.

    Last weekend the city of Stockton, California, held its annual Asparagus Festival. Since I live in the luscious San Joaquin Valley with its rich agricultural bounties, we have a lot of festivals: the Strawberry Festival (a favorite of mine), the Garlic Festival (I kid you not), and the Asparagus Festival among them.

    I watched the news about the Asparagus Festival on television, learned it was touted by Sunset Magazine as the best festival ever.

    Jeopardy even had a question about it:

    "Stockton, California, doesn't have a festival for Britney Spears, but it does for one of these green spears." Would you have guessed correctly?

    The TV segment showed thousands of volunteers dipping this beautiful, lovely asparagus into a batter and then deep frying it. Now I love asparagus. Cold or hot, it’s a delicious and healthy vegetable.

    But deep-fried? OMG! I admit it’s probably very tasty, but why take a lovely, good-for-you veggie and make it unhealthy?

    Now I can see deep-fried Twinkies. They’re unhealthy from the get go, so why not? But veggies deep-fried.

    That’s just plain evil.

    While surfing the Net I found other deep fried anomalies.

    Like Deep Fried Pickles. And Deep Fried Coke.

    I was really interested in that one (momentarily forgetting all about Weight Watchers) because I figured I could substitute Pepsi for the Coke, right? There's no sugar in the batter -- they figure the can of coke has enough -- but the final fried ball is rolled in cinnamon and dusted with powdered sugar, then drizzled with -- yep, you guessed it -- Coke syrup!

    What about you? Come across any unusual foods (with or without the deep frying)? What’s your favorite unhealthy snack? Okay, and in the name of national health, what’s your fave HEALTHY snack?

    What does this have to do with writing, you say? I changed a recent Advanced Placement Language question to fit our romance readers.

    "Write about a novel in which a food or banquet scene plays an important role in the book."

    The AP folks intended the students to write about the banquet scene in Hamlet or the one in Macbeth where Banquo's ghost appears, but I tweaked the question to fit our romance readers.

    Can you think of a food or banquet scene from a romance novel that plays an important part in the book?
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Thursday Giveaway!

    Today's giveaway is from Moop, a Pittsburgh studio that makes beautiful handmade bags. They're offering one lucky winner the bag of her choice. These soft and wonderful bags are perfect for adventures around town. And check out their two new designs--the Small Messenger and a collection of 100% organic bags.

    For a chance to win, please visit Moop and leave a comment below with your favorite bag style. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck. xo

    Update: Lauren W. is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing.Source URL:
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Margo Maguire Makes Mayhem!

    by Anna Campbell

    It's my great pleasure to welcome back to the lair a wonderful fellow Avon historical writer Margo Maguire.
    Margo's going to be talking about her great new release THE ROGUE PRINCE. Romantic Times called THE ROGUE PRINCE "a love story that reaches the heart with its inherent tenderness and pure romance."

    Margo has just revamped her website so check it out for news and excerpts and contests! Sign up for her newsletter and you go in the drawing to win a signed copy of THE ROGUE PRINCE!

    Welcome back to the Bandita lair, Margo. Your latest Avon release is THE ROGUE PRINCE which sounds absolutely delicious. Lovely cover, by the way! Can you tell us about this book?

    That’s exactly what I’d call it – delicious – a tale you can sink your teeth into! To a large extent, it’s the hero’s conflicts that drive this story. Tom Thorne is a tortured young man who was transported at a young age to a penal colony for a crime he didn’t commit. He lives through the brutal years of his imprisonment by planning his revenge against the two young noblemen who set him up. When he comes into a vast fortune, he’s able to execute those plans. Tom comes home to England as the “Prince of Sabedoria,” with the intention of destroying his two accusers and their families, just as he and his own family were destroyed.

    The heroine is Maggie Danvers, Lady Blackmore, an innocent bystander who is intimately connected to the two young scoundrels who falsely accused Tom. She’s the widow of one and step-sister of the other, but when she meets Tom, she doesn’t know him as anyone but the amazingly potent foreign prince. Maggie is a young, naïve mother of two little children, and when she learns how badly her husband and brother have duped her over the years, she decides to embark upon an affair of her own – with the prince who seems so interested in her. Little does she know that she plays a huge part in Tom’s schemes for vengeance.

    What were the inspirations behind this story? It seems to me to have a touch of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO about it? Or is that purely coincidental?

    Ahhh… funny you should ask! Yes, I’ve always loved THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO (the book as well as the movie), and wished there was more romance (of course!)and I always wished it wasn’t quite so dark. And that the imprisonment part wasn’t quite so long, and that Edmond’s father didn’t die before he got out of the Chateau d’If … er, you get the idea, right? So THE ROGUE PRINCE begins a few years after Tom’s imprisonment, within days of his arrival in England. And the heroine has a character arc of her own – her late husband was her step-brother’s flunky who had no real talents of his own, which directly caused the downfall of the Blackmore estate.

    It’s up to Maggie to try to salvage the estate for her little son, the heir. She must learn and grow …

    I’ve noticed a bit of a trend toward royal heroes lately (Harlequins are awash with princes and kings!). What do you think is the appeal of a royal story?

    I think it’s part of the fantasy, or the fairy tale, if you will. The characters are larger than life. I made Thomas so wealthy, his bank statement would make Bill Gates envious. With Tom’s money, any physical thing is within his reach. But there are emotional hurtles to overcome, and as we read about this kind of guy, we want to see him grow and risk it all because of a higher purpose.

    What’s coming up next for Margo Maguire?

    I’m working on a novel that will be out in March 2011, called SEDUCTION OF THE GOVERNESS. The heroine is a young woman who learns she was adopted by the straitlaced couple she always thought of as her true parents. My hero is a wounded Waterloo officer – a youngest son who never expected to inherit his father’s earldom and the guardianship of his little niece. The two are total misfits who come together in his old, ancestral hall in the Lake District, and find themselves facing a perilous situation.

    Can you give us a glimpse into your writing day?

    A good day or a bad day?

    We’ll go with the good… I used to walk my dogs 2-3 miles every morning to get some exercise while I cleared my head for a day of writing, but when I injured my knee I had to stop. So my current routine is to ride my stationary bike for 40 minutes and then lift weights for another 15. I grab a quick shower after that, and I’m usually at my laptop by 8 am. I go through email and take care of other business for an hour or so, then get down to the creative stuff. I rehash yesterday’s writing – making corrections as I read. Then I get on with it, pushing the story forward (I’m a totally linear writer). After a couple of hours, I get restless, so I have some lunch, then pack up my laptop and head for my home away from home – Starbuck’s. I’m there practically every afternoon, so they know me well – and take great care of me! My Starbuck's “co-workers” are very protective of their resident author.

    Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

    I am the worst possible person to answer this question, and I’ll tell you why at the end of my sage counsel, but don’t read my punch line until you check out my three points …

    The first thing I think an aspiring writer should do is to read like mad. Read everything, but especially the genre you think you want to write. I believe osmosis has a lot to do with how we learn to write. As you read, you get an unconscious “feel” for the genre and it will come out in your own settings, characters and voice.

    Next, decide whether you want to write popular, saleable fiction. If you do, you have to see what kinds of books the current market supports, and not get hung up on a story that will only appeal to a limited audience. (Like certain Indie films – they get produced, and might be really good for what they are, but only 37 people go to see them).

    Third, try not to let “experts” tell you how to do it. You have to learn your own process and follow it, and not get bogged down or discouraged because you think you’re doing it “wrong.”

    And now for the punch line (and you’ll probably want to punch me!): I sold the first book I ever wrote, in 10 days from the moment I put the manuscript into the mailbox until I got “the call.” I never had to go through the uncertainty that most writers experience, never understood what it was like to receive a bunch of rejection letters. That came later, lol, when I was submitting proposals to my editors for subsequent books. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I hadn’t sold that first book, I’d have said, “Oh, well, I tried. I love my nursing career, and so that’s what I’ll be doing until they pry my white duty shoes from my cold, stiff feet!” Honestly, I was so naïve, I didn’t know how fortunate I was, not until I found out about RWA and all the active online author groups out there.

    Wow, I'm guessing you have a few people gunning for you when you share that tidbit! Congratulations! Now, Margo, is there anything you want to ask our Bandits and Buddies?

    I wonder what you think is the best writing advice you ever got. Did you hear your best advice at a conference workshop? Read it in a writing craft book? Or was it something one of your writing buddies said that just happened to resonate? Inquiring minds want to know!

    Margo is offering one lucky commenter their choice from her backlist books WILD or TAKEN BY THE LAIRD (I'm rather taken by that cover, personally!). So get commenting, people, and good luck! Source URL:
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Wednesday Giveaway!

    Today's giveaway is from Babette, a jewelry shop run by a British designer. She's offering a pair of these beautiful zen hoops. The hammered gold hoops display rare vintage silver metal beads from the World War II era. Isn't that amazing? These earrings would look gorgeous while drinking wine in a restaurant's garden this summer...or anytime really. :)

    For a chance to win, please visit Babette's shop and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck!

    Update: Catherine is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing.Source URL:
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Birthday cupcakes

Aria Pro II SB-800

    Here is a nice rarity sent in by fellow Aria fan Tyler - it's an SB-800. This is a unique bass because it is like an SB-1000 in every way except for one: it is a bolt-on, not neck-through. It has all the other features of an SB-1000 (active circuit, 6 position tone selector, brass bridge and nut, etc). I believe the Aria SB-600 was the bolt-on version of the SB-700, but neither the 600 or 800 models lasted very long for some reason. There is even an SB-800 ad that I had not seen before! You can check out a few more pics here. In addition, there are some more excellent pictures taken by Dave at Click here to see more details of this bass such as the 6 bolt (including two hidden under the neck plate!) system. The Aria advertisement for this model can be seen at URL:
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The End

    by Suzanne
    Here in the Lair, we often talk about the beginning of books and movies. How they grab us and suck us in, keep us turning pages or on the edges of our seats, wanting to know what's going to happen next.

    The Bourne Identity was one of these books for me. I couldn't read it fast enough. It also sucked me into Robert Ludlum's world of espionage and suspense. After reading the Bourne Identity, I raided my local bookstore and read his whole back list and following books, each one more page-turning than the last. (I also discovered for my own sanity, it was best to not read more than two of his books in a weekend or I'd think my phone was tapped and people were chasing me!) While the movie was barely recognizable as the original book, Matt Damon's portrayal of Jason Bourne fit my mental image of how the character would look and act.

    Another book where the beginning drew me in from page one was Sherrilyn Kenyon's Night Pleasures. It might surprise y'all, but I'm not really into vampire love stories. What grabbed me was the heroine in peril waking up to find herself chained to this big imposing man, who acts like a vampire, you know all I'll-die-if-I'm-out-in-the-sun, has fangs and appears to be imortal, but he wasn't a vampire. Instead he was a hunter, a Dark Hunter, one she'll need to keep her safe. Add to that Kenyon's unique premise that vampires were actually cursed children of the Greek god, Apollo and I was hooked! Involving the Greek mythology and really BIG men, yep, couldn't turn the pages fast enough!

    For movies, Speed, was the same for me. Suck me in, make want to know what's happening to these courageous bomb experts. Who wants to blow them up, etc. Add a ticking clock er bus and Sandra Bullock? Yep, I'm staying through to the end. Another movie for me was Pirates of the Carribean. How could you not love a movie with that kind of fantasy beginning of pirates and Black Jack Sparrow? It made you root for the characters from the start all the way to the end. (ah, but we're not at the end yet!)

    Sometimes, in the Lair, we talk about the characters, themselves. Those we loved from the moment they stepped onto the pages or onto the big screen. Those that make us wish we were the heroine or hero, falling in love, kicking butt, or solving the mystery. Okay, in the lair we mostly talk about the sexy heroes, but let me give you some of my favorites of both sexes.

    Kate and Luc from French Kiss are two of my favorite movie characters. At the beginning of the movie there's the neurotic romantic who despite her fear of flying bravely climbs aboard a plane bound across the Atlantic to get her true love. Except, we find out her true love is nothing but a soundrel, while the scoundrel, Luc--good hearted jewel thief who wants to buy a vinyeard near his home, seated next to her, irritating the snot out of her all the way to France, well, I'd hate to give away the ending, so let's just say he's hero worthy.

    Rhett and Scarlet. From her first utterance of fiddle-dee-dee, she didn't come across as a kind, loving heroine. No, she wasn't loveable, but she was strong. Her world and family was changing, and only the strong were going to survive. THAT is what he loved about her. And him? Was he a Southern gentleman? Uh, no. A Privateer. A man who would make a profit from the war, eventually takes a side and joins the war, but his love of her made him loveable. (We'll talk about their ending later.)

    Gabriel and Johanna from Julie Garwood's Saving Grace (yeah, like y'all didn't see this one coming). If you haven't taken the time in the past 3 years to read this book, as much as I've raved about it, I'm about to spoil the beginning for you. The heroine is informed her husband has been killed and she rushes to the chapel.

    Not to pray for his soul, but to thank God. Now, don't you want to know more?

    The hero is a bastard, literally. His father and his clan disowned him, until the time came for someone to lead the father's clan after his death. In the meantime, the hero has formed his own clan with ragtag outcasts from other clans. So what's he supposed to do? He tried to lead both clans side by side, because that's what an honorable man does. Then an Englishman brings his half sister for the hero to marry, to keep her out of the reach of the king of England. He marries her without question. She agrees to the marriage only after she hears his name, Gabriel, the patron saint and protector of women and children.

    Sigh...You really have to read this book!

    So, what haven't we talked about when it comes to books?

    Yep, the beginning may hook you or your reader or your editor, but it's the ending that sells the next book. At least that's a saying heard often repeated from one RWA member to another.

    We all know the ending of Gone With The Wind. Rhett storms out, swearing, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Scarlett watches him disappear into the mist and says, "Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day." It may not be the HEA we all wanted, but the prospect of a future is there in her determination and I'd like to think she finally learned what love truly is about and will win back her man.

    In French Kiss, Kate has saved Luc's bacon and is once again aboard a plane to fly home. Luc has learned how she tricked him, but knows she did it out of love. He slips into the seat next to her and says, "I want you..." She says, "You want me?" and he says, with love and unshed tears in his eyes, "I want you, that is all." Sigh. That is a HEA I could go for every time.

    In the end of the first Pirates movie, Elizabeth and Will are in love and they take the chance to rescue their friend, Black Jack Sparrow. He's a loveable scoundrel and we really don't want to see him die. We also want to see more of his antics on the high seas!
    At the end of the Bourne Identity, (the book version), Jason learns the truth about who he is and how he came to be a trained assassin. He cleans out Treadstone's bad members and gets the girl. And it made every page turning scene worthwhile.

    I want endings that make me sigh. Make me know my journey with the characters has been worth my effort. I want the mystery solved, the bad guys dead or in prison, the HEA for my heros and heroines, or at least the promise of a HEA.

    So, endings are important. They are so important to me, I even write THE END when I finish a book. Another writer acquaintance asked me why? I said, why not? It's an accomplishment. The story has been told, it may need tweaking or editing, but the ending has been written.

    And a few weeks ago I posted the last chapter of REFUGE on my online blogsite, Everytime I've read it, I get tears in my eyes and that sense of Ahhhhhhhhh. I hope my readers did, too. If you haven't read it, take a chance, but go to the sidebar and start at the beginning. I'd love to hear if the HEA worked for you!

    So, tell me, what books or movies gave you that Ahhhhhhhh moment? Which ones made you cry or laugh? Which ones did you hate?
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Musk for girls

    One of my guy friends used to wear Kiehl's Musk 1921, which is the greatest scent. Luckily, it also works on ladies (deep, rich, tomboy-ish, awesome), so I've been trying it out myself. I have to say, I'm really into it. The sexy scent pairs well with T-shirts and jeans, and you won't be able to stop sniffing your wrist.

    What type of perfume do you wear, my lovelies?Source URL:
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What will the baby look like?

    Now that I'm almost eight months pregnant, I've been thinking so much about what our baby will look like. It's so crazy to feel him kicking all the time and feel like I already know him, but still have no idea how to envision his little face. So, I've been looking through some of my and Alex's childhood photos, since he'll probably look like a combination of the two of us, right? (Blond hair with a big head, methinks?) Ahh, I CANNOT WAIT to finally see his teeny face and hold him in my arms!!!
    My twin sister Lucy and me (I'm on the right side in all the photos)...
    And Alex as a little dude. (Isn't he funny in that straw hat and red shorts?:)Source URL:
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