Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coming Right Up....

    by Susan Sey

    BREAKING NEWS: Last night, our own fabulous BETH ANDREWS won the RITA Award in the Best Contemporary Series Romance category for her wonderful book A Not-So-Perfect Past. Congratulations, Beth!!! You can check out all the winners at the RWA National website. PARTY IN THE LAIR!!!

    August! Welcome home, all you RWA goers! I know you miss all your writing friends like crazy, so here's a little something to cheer you up: A preview of August's fantastic features!

    August 3: Donna MacMeans will host Heather Webber who'll be talking about her casting decisions for her latest release Deeply, Desperately.

    August 5: Nancy interviews Avon debut author Katherine Ashe about her dynamite historical, Swept Away by a Kiss.

    August 6: One of the Lair's favourite visitors, Eloisa James, returns to talk about fairy tales, Cinderella and her eagerly awaited book, A Kiss at Midnight.
    August 16: Best selling author Brenda Novak will return to the Lair with JoMama to discuss her new trilogy and answer questions most asked by her fans.

    WHITE HEAT releases on July 27 and Brenda's throwing a fabulous cyber-party to celebrate. Visit for the deets. Her annual Auction fo Diabetes Research reached the one million mark this year!

    Also, Brenda's been nominated
    for a 2010 RITA for her ON A SNOWY CHRISTMAS. Congratulations! We're so fortunate to have her return to the Lair again!
    August 15: Trish Milburn's (or should I say Tricia Mills?) release party for her newest young adult novel, Winter Longing. Love Alaska? Love tales of first love? Books that twist your emotions like a dish cloth? This book has it all!

    August 19: Suzanne Ferrell brings Wendy Watson to chat with us about her second in the Murder A La Mode series, Scoop To Kill. Wendy and Suz will serve up some fun, mystery and maybe an ice cream or two in the hot summer fun!

    August 20: Tawny's release party

    August 27: Barbara Monjem returns to chat with Nancy about Tastes of Love and Evil, the second in her Bayou Gavotte paranormal romance series (which was also an unpubbed Maggie winner!)
    August 31: Grab a gladiator & a drink (not necessarily in that order) and get ready to get sinful as we celebrate Jeanne Adam's smokin' new release Deadly Little Sins!

    And warm up that lucky rabbit's foot, because we have contests, too!
    From Anna Campbell:

    Anna Campbell is giving away TWO Change of Season Reading Packs in her latest website contest. Each pack will include signed copies of MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by AnnaCampbell, SWEETEST LITTLE SIN by Christine WElls, IS MISTRESS FOR A MILLION by Trish Morey, THE GREEK'S CONVENIENT MISTRESS by Annie West, DARK DECEIVER by Pamela Palmer, and either DOES SHE DARE? or RISQUE BUSINESS by Tawny Weber. Just email Anna on and tell her one other book by each of these authors (the website links are on her contest page to make it easy) to go into the draw. For more information, please visit Anna's contest page.Source URL:
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A groaner of a linguistics joke

    A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

    A voice from the back of the room piped up, 'Yeah, right.Source URL:
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This week's avatar

Friday, July 30, 2010

The BIG Awards Ceremony!

    posted by elfreda ica

    Tonight's the night! Saturday night of RWA's National Conference is the BIG awards ceremony! This is the ceremony where romance writers honor their own with the Rita and Golden Heart awards, our industry's equivalent of the Oscars, Emmys, or Grammys.

    As you know, the Banditas were all finalists in the 2006 Golden Heart contest. That is where we "found" each other, and so this award has a very special place in all our hearts! In case you didn't know, the Golden Heart contest recognizes outstanding unpublished romance manuscripts in ten different categories. Up to 1200 entries are judged by members of RWA and are narrowed down to around 100 finalists. Editors from acquiring romance publishers judge the final round, and winners receive a beautiful pendant.

    This year, our Bandita KJ Howe is a finalist in the Contemporary Series Suspense/Adventure category. KJ is a fantastic writer and we are all pulling for her to be the BIG WINNER in her category tonight!

    Did you know the Rita award was named for RWA's first president Rita Clay Estrada? (Be sure to file that away for future trivia contests.) This award is for outstanding published romance novels and novellas and the contest has twelve categories. Once again, approximately 1200 entries are narrowed by judges to about 100 finalists. Winners receive a beautiful statuette much like an Oscar or Emmy.

    This year A Not-So-Perfect Past by our Bandita Beth Andrews is a Rita finalist in the Contemporary Series Romance category. So many of us Banditas and BBs LOVED Nina and Dillon's story and we will all be hoping that our Wonder-Beth will be the first Bandita to bring home the lovely Rita statue!

    There are many wonderful writers and books up for Golden Heart and Rita awards this year. By this time tomorrow, it will all be over and the winners will be announced. We'll get to see all the fabulous pictures and share the triumphs. But they are ALL WINNERS just to have been finalists!

    Awards are so much fun! We all deserve to win one once in awhile. For instance, Posh, Jo-Mama, and I, along with Lars, Marcus, Zach, and Paolo all deserve a "Holding-Down-The -Fort" award! What about you? What kind of award would you create and who would win it?Source URL:
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BEST wedding video

Have a happy weekend (+ Bachelorette finale on Monday!)

photo hunt - Public

Friday giveaway!

United States cheese boards

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Campouts and Sleepovers

    by Jo Robertson

    My daughter emailed me the other weekend with this note:

    Hey, do you wanna know what my kids are doing? Sleeping on the trampoline!! I remember how FUN that was as a kid. At OTHER people’s houses of course, since we never had one. It was so exciting!

    Their cousins are spending the night, for a total of five children, but kids these days have NO idea how to have a sleepover.

    Corinna, eleven, said, “Hey Mom. Did you charge the DVD player so we could watch movies?”

    I said, “Hell no!” Actually I didn’t say Hell but you get the idea.

    I told them they have no idea how to do a camp out. First, they need to get some flashlights and junk food. Then they start telling stories until someone is scared and wants to come in.

    This story got me thinking about sleepovers and campouts.

    What do you think? Along with 16mm projectors, eight tracks, and dial telephones, have kids lost the simple meaning of camping out and sleeping over at a friend’s?

    What’s your favorite campout memory?
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Bebe in the bath

and a bit of Mary Margaret O'Hara

More support bands I have seen = A II Z

Another Toadflax Brocade Moth pic

Toby's first giggle!



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meanwhile, Back at the Lair...

    posted by Aunty Cindy, Jo-Mama, and Posh

    'Twas the week of RWA National conference and the Lair felt eerily empty with that preternatural quiet that could mean nefarious plots were afoot...

    Or NOT.

    A lone figure descended a back staircase, headed for the kitchen, a full tray in his hands and a look of consternation on his handsome face.

    "Sorry, Lars," Paolo said, as he slid the tray of food onto the counter behind a beefy, Scandinavian hunk who was washing pots and pans, "Aunty Cindy turned thumbs down. She said your Swedish surprise is more of a shock, and not in a good way. According to her, the only one who will eat it is Ermingarde the Dragon."

    Lars gave a long suffering sigh. "Then why did you bring it back to the kitchen instead of taking it to the dragon's turret?"

    "Well, because... er, um, you know..." Red stained Paolo's high cheek bones, lending him an uncanny resemblance to Johnny Depp.

    He was interrupted by Marcus, in full gladitorial regalia, checking in from his security sweep. "You simply must get over your fear of that over-grown lizard, Paolo. Just because she singed your trousers that one time is no excuse. A little mano-a-mano wrestling match with her should do the trick."

    As the hapless Paolo choked over the thought of wrestling the dragon, Marcus and Lars exchanged knowing winks over his head.

    "I'll take it up there," Marcus conceded with a good-natured shove. "Zach is there right now, mucking out her weir and I'm sure he would welcome the help."

    "Zach got left behind too?" Paolo asked, clearly startled that the captain of the hockey hunks was not on vacation with the rest of the staff. "I mean, I understand why I was, since I'm the newest cabana boy, and I heard you gladiators used some kind of lottery system, but..."

    "He said something about taking one for the team," Marcus explained, when the beeping of Lars's phone interrupted him.

    "It's a text message from Sven," Lars exclaimed. "Bad enough that he left me a fifteen page color-coded flow chart about how to manage his kitchen, but he checks in every two hours." He peered at the screen then chuckled. "He sent a photo. Seems he and the gladiators went to the Magic Kingdom."

    Paolo and Marcus leaned in for a look.

    "What is that they are holding?" Marcus asked around guffaws.

    "Looks like mouse ears," replied an astounded Paolo. "With feathers? Did somebody finally pluck that confounded rooster?"

    "Boys!" Posh said sternly, striding into the kitchen sporting a fearsome scowl and snatching the phone from Lars. "It's no good looking at the pictures now. You'll just be even more sullen and sulky than you have been and you'll be even less use in the kitchen, though that's hard to imagine."

    Posh gazed at the downcast faces and her expression softened. "We're all completely bummed about being left behind. What we need to do is think of a distraction."

    "Distraction?" Paolo asked. "What could make us forget everyone even for a minute?"

    "I'm glad you asked," Jo Mama said in her most teacherly voice, entering from the hallway. "I've made up a plan."

    Posh arched an eyebrow. "Like a lesson plan?"

    "Oh, no!" Aunty Cindy huffed, descending the stairs in a swirling, embroidered dress she picked up on her jaunt to Turkey. (Posh had thought it was a wedding dress for a young woman, but Aunty would neither confirm nor deny.) "I have had quite enough learning for one lifetime, thank you very much. No more lesson plans, Jo Mama!"

    Jo held up her hand, commanding silence as all the best teachers do. She pulled a hitherto-unseen chalkboard from the butler's pantry. "Everyone calm down. I've studied our dilemma and, using ratiocination - "

    "Lord, there she goes with the big words again." Posh rolled her eyes in an alarming circle.

    " - Okay, then, using logic," she shot a sharp look at Posh, "I have discerned the only viable solution to our lack of entertainment - "

    "And aching loneliness," Aunty Cindy said, head buried deep in the fridge as she searched for anything edible. "Don't forget the loneliness!"

    "That, too," Jo sighed. "I actually thought there would be less drama with everyone gone," she muttered. "Maybe I should have taken a few days off myself."

    "Well don't keep us in suspense, Jo Mama," Posh said, pushing Aunty Cindy out of the fridge. "You tell us what the plan is and I'll whip us up some supper. Real supper, not that so-called Swedish surprise."

    She began pulling things out of the fridge and Aunty Cindy's eyes widened. "What are you making, Posh?"

    "Never you mind, missy. Just listen to Jo Mama and prepare to be dazzled."

    "As I was saying," Jo said, a hint of impatience coloring her normally professional delivery, "we need a plan that utilizes the resources we have available."

    "You mean them?" Aunty Cindy eyed the boys dubiously.

    "Us?" the guys asked, looking just as wary.

    "Not them," Posh said, chopping onions and potatoes while a large iron skillet heated on the stove. "Our beloved Bandita Buddies!"

    "Exactly," Jo beamed. "Our Buddies. Since we are temporarily without our resident bartenders, 14 of our storytellers and a passel of cabana boys, we need our precious Bandita Buddies to keep our spirits up."

    "Meanwhile," Aunty said, flinging her arms about in a (melo)dramatic fashion, "I will lead the boys to the shrine of Mary I had built in the first floor of the cellar. I was so inspired by the Higgins House, built where Mary lived when she was in Ephesus, that I had one built. I'm sure the boys and I can drum up some help from the Blessed Virgin..."

    Jo Mama rolled her eyes and Posh smirked. "If Aunty Cindy is the spiritual leader today, you KNOW we're in trouble!"

    So, Bandita Buddies, you are ON! We need you desperately. Please tell us about your favorite thing to do when you find yourself suddenly, inexplicably and definitively ALONE.

    Can't recall the last time that actually happened? Dream a little dream for us! Books? Bubble baths? Movies where you don't have to share your popcorn? What is your favorite alone-time pursuit? Or would you just like to come hang out with us and see what Posh is cooking? Do tell!
    Source URL:
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Toadflax Brocade Moth!

    Hi, I'm Calophasia lunula, or the Toadflax Brocade Moth. Jams O'Donnell's not wife found me in the front garden flitting among the flowers - not far from where the caterpillars of my species were found last month.

    I am rarely seen in England except at Dungeness and a few places on the South Coast. Romford is not where I am usually found. If there had not been yellow toadflax and valerian in the front garden i oould not be seen nowSource URL:
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The end is nigher than we thought

    Don’t worry about 2012, we won’t last that long if Maria Exley of Colorado Springs is to be believed.

    According the Colorado Springs Gazette she is convinced that the end of the world will come next year. So strong is her conviction that she’s paid $1,200 to buy advertising space on 10 Springs bus benches through October to get the word out. The ad says, “Save the Date! Return of Christ: May 21, 2011,”

    Exley got the idea for the ads from listening to Family Radio, a Christian broadcast hosted by controversial Christian leader Harold Camping. Camping predicts Christ will return on the date in Exley’s advertisement. Listeners in other states have also purchased outdoor ad space to proclaim the date.

    The ads are written and designed by the creators of, an Ohio-based web site devoted to reminding people of Christ’s return. “We hope it raises awareness and sends people to their Bible,” said Robert Dunham, spokesman for

    “Time is running out, but there is still time for salvation.”

    Well that’s me convinced. Henceforth I will abjure my sinful ways. No more frottage, felching or other foul fornication for me. No more strong liquor, swearing or sinful thoughts. From now on it’s prayer and penance all the way.... Ah fuck it I’ll stay damned!Source URL:
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Wednesday giveaway!

    Today's giveaway is from Habitat, a shoe boutique run by a husband and wife. Their selection is exquisitely curated, and they even carry our favorite French Bensimon sneakers! Although shoes are their focus, they also have some adorable clothes and accessories (I love this).

    They're offering one lucky reader a $100 gift certificate. For a chance to win, please visit Habitat and leave a comment below. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck! xo

    Update: Emma P. is our winner. Thanks for playing.Source URL:
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Fragment lights

A honey bee and echinops this time

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Great Website Tour

    by Suzanne

    As many of you know I recently sold my book The Surrender Of Lacy Morgan to Ellora's Cave. While waiting for the release date, I'm busy doing things like working on the next book and trying to form a web presence so people will have a place to find out about the book. (My yelling it from the mountain tops aside!)

    So I've hired a young IT web designer to develop a webpage for me. She's smart and has a background in both art and design, so I'm looking forward to collaborating with her on this. One of the things she's asked me to do is review other romance authors' websites and see what details I like or want in mine and what font I'd like to showcase in the title and page bullets.

    No problem. Right? I'm a woman and a romance reader. I won't mind shopping through the sites.

    Do you know how many romance sites there are?!?! I stopped counting at 1500! And I was like in the P's. But undaunted, I started clicking each and everyone open.

    Here's what I discovered:

    1) There are a multitude of genres and combinations of what authors can write if they choose more than one.

    2) Some authors like subtle colors, while others like deep, dark colors and still others choose rather wild, vibrant combinations. (My eyes are not happy with some of the neon color combos!)

    3) Some authors have highly professional looking home pages, while others look as if they were done at home with a template from the 80's. And others have fancy gizmos like flash movies and scrolling banners, hearts and flowers.

    4) Some work....some don't. Some just plain need to be removed because the host site is no longer in use and the reader can't access the author's webpage at all. (But that'a a whole other discussion.)

    So, since many of the Bandits are in Orlando for the National Romance Writer's conference, moi included, I thought I'd keep y'all busy with a little tour to see what sites I found that I thought "worked". Keep in mind the Bandits don't do snark, so no "didn't work" sites are listed...and there have to be 2000 or more sites all together, so I picked only a handful or two to share!

    First, let's get my definition of what a good website should do:


    So, here's my first example, and it's our Anna Campbell's:
    What I like about Anna's is the prominent cover of her newest book, in this case My Reckless Surrender. You don't have to look for what she's selling. She wants you to buy her newest book and features it. Also, the color and style of the site tells you it's historical but with a dark edgy feel. Anna writes Regency noir books. You know what you're getting when you look at this site.

    Here's my friend Jane Graves site:
    Can you tell what Jane writes from this home page? Yep, contemporary romances. The colors are bold and eye catching, Izzy her cat adds the element of fun you can find in Jane's books. Jane has her name and newest release, Black Ties and Lullabies prominently showcased. And her photo also gives you that friendly, fun and welcoming feel you get from her books. By the way, Jane's site was created and designed by Jane, herself. Not something I'd recommend for the average author to attempt, but Jane has mad computer skills so it works for her.

    Next up is our Bandita Joan Kayse:
    What is great about Joan's is the banner. Such nice eye candy! You know Joan writes about sexy Romans's and that her website and work are historicals. Since she's waiting for a very smart editor to snatch up her great Roman-era books, this site is important because it advertises Joan and her works to potential editors, agents and future fans!

    Here's my critique partner, Jo Davis' site:
    Jo currently has two sub genres of romance to advertise. Her website does that successfully. Her name is front and center. You can't miss the books either!  The newest firefighter story, Line Of Fire, is larger than the others, which are flashing slowly beside it. The two on the right are her erotic romantic suspenses, the latest, I Spy A Wicked Sin. And the side columns with the sexy men let you know you're in for a sexy good read should you click on the books and order them.

    **A side note here. Please note that while there are lots of great critical reviews for Jo's books, they're on the lower half of the page that you have to scroll down to get to. On my tour I noticed many authors putting these at the top or crowding them into the top sidesbars. Remember Suz's rule #1...SELL THE BOOK. The books should always be first! Rule #4 DON'T HURT MY EYES clutter hurts as much as neon!**

    Let's look at Bandita Susan Sey's new site:
    First thing you see is it's light and clean feeling. A contemporary font announces it's Susan's site. Her picture is cute and tells you she's fun. Her brand spanking new book, Money, Honey, is right there for the reader to see and who could resist not looking for what story this great cover holds? The critics' comments and reviews are in the lower part of the scroll, (see the above side note). Great job, Susan!

    Here's Geri Krotow's site:
    I don't personally know Geri and haven't YET read her books. But her site grabbed my attention and I think it really works for her. Why? See the colors and style of her banner? Now look at the colors of the SuperRomance book she has displayed. She took the colors from the book, muted them slightly and inverted them, mirror imaging what she's selling. Her name is very visible, as is her picture, and the font is contemporary. Great marketing. Does it work? I intend to buy this book just from the website!

    Bandita Trish Milburn addresses a double genre with her site:
    You know Trish writes both contemporary romance and YA romances. She chose to let the browsing reader know this by showing both her adult and YA inner selves on the front page. Her books, The Family Man and Winter Longing, the newest for each subgenre, are on the opening page, not at the top, but not too far down with the scroll! Trish lets her readers know what she's tweeting about in the side bar, but the look and feel of this isn't too cluttered and encourages all her readers to participate in both her subgenres!

    **another side note. Clutter. My daughters are artists and one of the things they learned in art classes and design classes was the importance of negative space on both the art piece and the viewer's eyes. You want to focus the viewer on the important parts...the author's name and the book to be purchased. Negative space will help with this. Watch the clutter, folks!**

    Diann Mills is another new author to me:
    Her site is unique and I think it works because of the theme. There's an oldfashioned map as the background. The personal pictures Diann uses suggests the theme of travel and adventure. Her opening letter and by line talk about adventure. And while her book covers are smaller than those I've shown you on other sites, they're visible at the bottom and it's fun to see them light up as you scroll across them. Think I'll be checking them out, too!

    Let's look at Bandita Jeanne Adams updated site:
    First, it's beautiful. The colors are bold, the images sexy and those big guns...well, can we say, BOOM any louder? This is romantic supense, and not much black, a color seen on lots of the suspense pages. Nice use of negative space, great showcase of her newest release, Deadly Little Secrets. Jeanne...A+!

    Here's a brand new Bandita site:
    Inara's debut release Delacroix Academey. The Candidates is a suspenseful YA paranormal book. Doesn't this opening page give you that feeling AND make you want to see what the book and series is all about? I'm betting many a young adult reader and probably their mother will, too! We Bandits can't wait for THIS book to hit the stands!

    Author Cathy McDavid's site: caught my eye.
    Cathy writes for Harlequin American. Her site says American in a big bold way! The colors are red, white and blue, but so are the Harlequin American books! She's got American symbols and sexy images in the banner pictures. Her name is very easy to find, and with a short scroll, there is her newest release. Great job, Cathy!

    **And yet another side note. Scrolls. Don't make me work. I might be a reader who is browsing for new books or authors during my 15 minute break at work. Don't make me have to scroll down the home page to find stuff. A home page shouldn't scroll much. No longer than one quick swipe of my finger on the mouse. I'm a big girl, I can click on the page buttons if I want to read all the other stuff you want on your site. And those pages can be longer. Rule #1 SELL THE BOOK.** (Can I get an "amen sister!" on these side notes, y'all?!?)

    Okay, I've shown you some of what I like. Now it's your turn!

    Take a look at the RWA list @
    and let me know who you think has a great site and why. Also, maybe you can help me. I'm looking for the following things to give as examples to my IT girl:

    1. Sexy, but not porno sexy
    2. Western, but no cows please
    3. Strong font.
    4. Great design or colors

    Please copy and paste your favorite URL's in the comments so I can take a look. Tell me why you like it. Why you think it works. What you think will work for me. No negative ones, please! Remember, Bandits don't do snark! 

    At this point, I'll take all the help I can get, even from that dang rooster!Source URL:
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