Thursday, March 31, 2011

The best cruise ships on which to get married

    The luxury Lifestyle blog (the home of luxury Lifestyle) presents The best cruise ships on which to get married.

    If you’re planning a wedding on the high seas, some options are better than others, according to one cruise specialist.

    Miami-based cruise company Landry & Kling released its top ten ships for group events and business meetings this week, naming vessels from a variety of lines for the suitability of hosting a special event.

    The travel agency, which specializes in organizing large events at sea ranging from business meetings to theme cruises and reunions, picked ships with between 56 and 2,700 cabins, including the enormous Allure of the Seas.

    Many were chosen for the excellent range of on-board activities — Sea Dream II’s water sports marina platform, for instance, or fact-finding tours on board National Geographic Endeavor — although all offer superior service, state-of-the-art function space and private group dining, says Landry & Kling.

    Cruise lines are used to planning weddings, and many employ specific members of staff to assist with the details of such events, with larger vessels also offering chapels on board and services such as cake, flowers and music.

    However, the list of ships who have captains that can officiate ceremonies (a popular request) is more limited as there are considerable legal restrictions.

    According to popular cruise website CruiseCritic, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and Princess Cruises are among those with captains available to marry passengers.

    Top ten ships for events and meetings

    - SeaDream II (SeaDream Yacht Club)
    - Liberty of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
    - Celebrity Millennium (Celebrity Cruises)
    - Silver Spirit (Silversea Cruises)
    - Pride of America (Norwegian Cruise Line)
    - Seven Seas Navigator (Regent Seven Seas)
    - MSC Splendida (MSC Cruises)
    - Allure of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
    - Carnival Dream (Carnival Cruise Lines)
    - National Geographic Endeavor (Lindblad Expeditions)

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Porsche Panamera Turbo S revealed

    The luxury Lifestyle blog (the home of luxury Lifestyle) presents Porsche Panamera Turbo S revealed.

    Porsche has released details on its new high-power Panamera sedan, set to go on sale this summer.

    The new Panamera Turbo S provides a power boost to the Panamera Turbo’s engines, delivering 37 kW more with increased torque from the 4.8 liter, V8 engine, which has been treated to improved turbochargers and modified engine control.

    Using the Launch Control feature, it can manage 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and a top speed of 306 km/h, despite a fuel consumption similar to that of the Panamera Turbo — 11.3 l/100km using Michelin tires.

    Other features added include Dynamic Chassis Control to stabilize the vehicle and Torque Vectoring Plus, which applies a variable torque split to the rear wheel to improve traction and agility in variable driving situations.

    It is priced at $173,200 in the US and €167,076 in Germany. The model is set to be on show at the New York International Auto Show this April.

    Source: AFPrelaxnews

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World’s largest Rolls-Royce showroom unveiled

    The luxury Lifestyle blog (the home of luxury Lifestyle) presents World’s largest Rolls-Royce showroom unveiled.

    The world’s largest Rolls-Royce dealership has opened in Abu Dhabi as the luxury brand continues its expansion in the Middle East.

    Spanning a massive 9,687 square feet, the showroom includes just five Rolls-Royce cars, but also houses a coffee bar, “customer configuration lounge,” and is linked to a new on-site Rolls-Royce service facility.

    To mark the opening of the new facility, Rolls-Royce launched a Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Collection Phantom Drophead Coupé, which forms part of a collection of 100 highly bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantom models.

    The Middle East region continues to be an important driver in RR’ global growth, contributing over 15% of the company’s global sales in 2010.

    This makes the eigth Rolls-Royce dealership to be built in the Middle East, which is now home to nearly 10 percent of all of the brand’s 82 dealerships worldwide.

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Audemars Piguet Millenary Tour Auto 2011

    The luxury Lifestyle blog (the home of luxury Lifestyle) presents Audemars Piguet Millenary Tour Auto 2011.

    Serving as Official Timekeeper of the Tour Auto for the sixth year running, Audemars Piguet is launching a limited edition watch to commemorate the event.

    With its distinctly retro touch, the 2011 Audemars Piguet Millenary Tour Auto Chronograph masterfully captures the vintage spirit of the Tour Auto race.

    The new watch is available with a 47 mm case, fashioned from steel. Its back side is embossed with the Tour Auto logo.

    Housed in the case is a black dial, with its circular-grained surfaces reminding of the finish on certain historical cars.

    It is circled by a flange with a tachometric scale. The display features a three-hand layout. Moreover, it is equipped with silver-toned hour, minute and seconds counters. The date indication is arranged between 4 and 5 o’clock.

    The functions, provided by the new Audemars Piguet Millenary Tour Auto 2011 watch, are driven by an in-house manufactured automatic AP caliber 2385 movement.

    It operates at a frequency of 21,600 vibrations per hour and offers a 40-hour power reserve.

    The new Audemars Piguet watch is accompanied by a hand-sewn black leather strap with a lozenge-pattern stitching.

    The model is issued in a limited edition of 150 pieces and is delivered in a presentation box.

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Coming Attractions for April

    Posted By Kate

    It's April Fool's Day in the Lair! But we're not fooling around! We've got an absolutely fabulous line-up for you this month and you won't want to miss out on one single moment of fun, prizes and general raucous behavior! Here are some of the highlights:

    On April 2, Lair favourite, the fabulous Kate Walker, returns for another fun-filled visit to celebrate the release of her latest book, The Proud Wife, and to share some really great news about one of her 2010 releases.

    On April 3, Diana Orgain visits us for the first time to chat about the latest book in her Maternal Instincts mystery series, Formula for Murder. As a busy mother of three, she's got some great tips for aspiring writers who can't find the time to write.

    April 4 finds Kay Thomas back in the Lair, along with her newest Bulletproof book, Bulletproof Hearts, from Harlequin Intrigue.

    On April 6th, Jules Bennett will return to the lair to talk about her April Harlequin Desire release, Her Innocence, His Conquest.

    And on April 7, Cheryl Ann Smith talks to Donna about her journey to publication and shares an excerpt from her debut historical, School for Brides. RT Bookreviews says Smith “makes a dazzling entrance to the romance community with a charming, sexy, innovative tale that sparks the imagination.”

    Don't miss the fun on April 8! Joan hosts the wonderful Kristan Higgins AND the hero and heroine of her new Harlequin release My One and Only as they play 20 questions.

    On April 12, Jeanne interviews Maureen Batita from the popular blog, Romance Writers Revenge. She'll discuss her ebook, The Kraken's Mirror. Yo ho, yo ho!

    And on April 19, Dianna Love will join us in the lair to talk about keeping dreams alive, and why she's sponsoring a national art contest based on the book, Blood Trinity.

    On April 21, Patricia Rice returns to chat with Nancy about her first direct-to-electronic release, Evil Genius.

    On April 25, our favorite witch, Jennifer Lyon, visits to talk about her two new books in the electrifying Wing Slayer Hunter series, Night Magic and Sinful Magic.

    Kathleen O'Reilly returns to the Lair on April 26 to chat with Bandita Nancy about her new Blaze, Just Surrender.

    There will be a night of scandal and mayhem in the lair when the paparazzi crash the ball celebrating the launch of Midnight's Wild Passion, Anna Campbell’s latest historical romance from Avon. Mark your calendars for hijinks and giveaways on Wednesday, 27th April! You can read the blurb and an excerpt here:

    And Anna's holding a Midnight Madness contest on her website to celebrate the release of her latest historical romance MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION on Tuesday, 26th April. All you have to do is read the excerpt from MWP on her Books page and tell her what color Ranelaw’s hair is. Email your answer to The contest closes 30th April 2011. For more details, please visit

    One more April happening: The RT Book Lovers Convention comes to Los Angeles April 6-10. Are you going? What are you wearing? Tell us everything! And even if you're not going, we can pretend. What fabulous fantasy costume would you wear to the Fairy Ball? Source URL:
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Cats in zero gravity

Thursday giveaway!

    Today's giveaway is a BIG one! EmersonMade, the gorgeous fashion line from New Hampshire, is offering a $1000 shopping spree to one lucky winner! Eeks! They make beautiful clothes (including skirts and dresses and T-shirts) and accessories (like flower pins and gold coin necklaces). I'm in l-o-v-e with their jeans, and Toby wears their baby clothes! Their whole countryside life looks so dreamy and makes me want to move to a farm, wear a flower brooch and raise chickens. :)

    For a chance to win, visit EmersonMade's online shop (and consider signing up for their Facebook and twitter), and leave a comment below telling us your favorite pieces. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow. Good luck!

    Update: Blogger allows a maximum of 5,000 comments -- apologies to those who wanted to enter but arrived too late! Mai from Seattle is our lucky winner. Thank you so much! xoxoSource URL:
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Embroidered book covers

Fear the Amalgam Horde

    The BBC reports that the winner of this year’s Diagram Prize for oddest book title is….

    ….Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way. Written by by former dentist Michael Young, the book offers a guide on how to build an empire in the dentistry field.

    In his book, Young argues that despite the western world viewing the legendary warrior in negative terms, his warmongering tenacity is required to build a successful business.

    Its closest rival was 8th International Friction Stir Welding Symposium Proceedings, which details the development and application of friction stir welding at a German symposium last May.

    This year's other shortlisted titles were What Colour Is Your Dog?, The Italian's One-Night Love-Child, Myth of the Social Volcano and The Generosity of the Dead.

    Well there you have it… if Genghis Khan had the Golden Horde what do you call dentists that use is tactics? The Amalgam Horde?
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The Great Gagarin cover up

    Today’s Telegraph carried an article titled Soviet Union lied about 1961 Yuri Gagarin space mission

    Ach here comes the great “Gagarin space flight hoax,” I thought. Given that a lot of people do not believe that there was ever a Moon landing, why not deny the first manned space mission.

    Well it isn’t quite like that:

    Apparently Soviet officials and covered up the fact that he had landed more than 200 miles away from where they were expecting him… according to a new book.

    The book 108 Minutes That Changed the World apparently reveals revealed that scientists twice miscalculated where he would land which is why there was nobody there to meet him when he finally touched down some 500 miles south of Moscow.

    The Soviets also lied about the manner of his landing, claiming that he had touched down inside the capsule itself when in actual fact he landed separately via parachute. The reason they lied, said the book, was to skirt strict rules that would have prevented them from officially registering the flight as a world record.

    Is that it? It must be a slow news day…Source URL:
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mini Cooper

Colleen Gleason Launches New Vampire Series

    I'm happy to be hosting Colleen Gleason today to celebrate the release of The Vampire Voss, the first in her new vampire series. Not only have Colleen and I been friends since we both finaled in the Golden Heart in 2003, but I'm a big fan of her work as well.

    For those of us who are fans of your Gardella Vampire Chronicles, tell us how your new vampire series, the Regency Draculia, differs.

    Both series are set during Regency-era England, with the Gardellas around 1819-1820 and the new series during the Napoleonic War—specifically in 1804.

    The biggest differences are in the vampire mythology and also in the structure of the series. The Gardellas are really more of a historical urban fantasy series, following the life—and loves—of one heroine, Victoria Gardella. The books are really all about her as a sort of superhero (a vampire hunter) in a historical time period. There are no “good” vampires in the Gardellas, they aren’t ever the protagonists or heroes/heroines. The vampires are all evil, and meant to be slain.

    I took a different tack with the Regency Draculia. These books are definite vampire romances, with a spotlighted hero and heroine in each book and a happy ending for them at the end of each story. There are over-arching subplots and romances—a la Suzanne Brockmann and Eloisa James—but each book does end happily for the main couple.

    The mythology of my Draculia vampires is much different from that of the Gardellas as well, for in these books, there are vampires that run the gamut from being totally evil to being vampires with a conscience. The vampires in these books have basically sold their souls to Lucifer, and they are living their immortal lives with this knowledge—and with all of its benefits and repercussions.

    One of the things that make my vampires different is that each of them has an Asthenia--a specific weakness.

    Like the vampires of legend who recoil at the sight of silver, and who are weakened by its presence, each of my vampires have a similar “Achilles Heel”—in this case, I call it their Asthenia. And for each Dracule, it’s something different. For one, it could be sapphires. For another, it could be an oak tree. For another, it could be grass or horses or rosemary.

    After writing the Gardella series, you began writing post-apocalyptic stories as Joss Ware. What brought you back to vampires?

    I love to write historical novels (in fact, the Joss Ware series almost feels historical in some ways, due to the lack of infrastructure and limited technology in that world), and when it was suggested that I try my hand at a true vampire romance novel, set in the Regency, I jumped on it. I love that time period, and I’ve come to love my vampires too. ;-) After writing five books with all-evil vampires, it was a fun and interesting challenge to twist my brain a different way and to write about sexy, dark, compelling vampires.

    Why do you think vampire stories continue to ride a wave of popularity?

    I think there are several reasons, one of which is the aspect of escape. We—or many of us—read for escape, and what better place to escape than to a place where we know it’s not real...and where things are often much darker than they are in our own world.

    Another thing, however, that I think makes vampires popular is the environment in which they live: darkness, sensuality, forbiddenness (is that a word?)...all of that makes these characters intriguing and compelling. And there’s the sexual aspect—the penetration, the need, the angst and the reality of what is it like to live forever? Those are all fascinating, titillating aspects of vampire lore, and each author approaches them in a different way.

    As a reader, which authors of vampire stories do you enjoy most?

    Some of my favorites are Lara Adrian and Jeaniene Frost, but I confess that I don’t read very much in the way of paranormal romances...simply because I write them.

    I am a huge Buffy fan, however. ;-)

    Tell us a bit about the characters in The Vampire Voss, the first in your new series.

    Voss, the Viscount Dewhurst, has been a vampire for a hundred and fifty years. He agreed to sell his soul to Lucifer, and now he has everything he’s ever wanted: immortality, scads of money, imperturbable power, and all the women he can handle. If a man were to live forever with all the power and pleasure and money he ever wanted, I believe he would be just like Voss: Selfish, hedonistic, and, at some point, bored with it all.

    Everything is going along just fine—if not becoming a little routine after more than a century of pure hedonism with no negative consequences—until he meets Angelica Woodmore…who is the first woman he finds himself unable to enthrall and seduce.

    Angelica is one of three sisters (the eldest of whom is featured in the second book in the series, The Vampire Dimitri) who has a bit of the “Sight”, courtesy of their half-Gypsy grandmother. She becomes a pawn in a struggle between two factions of vampires (if I may....the “good” vampires versus the “bad” vampires).

    Because of who he is, Voss is studiously neutral in this struggle—playing both sides—because he wants to use Angelica’s powers for his own protection. And Angelica is terrified of vampires. can see where this is going. ;-)

    And then add in all of the aspects we love about Regency romance: the balls, the dance cards, the manners and repartee, the powerful, rakish viscounts and the bored, brooding earls...and you’ve got a good feel for the series.

    Also, there are two more books in the series, coming in early May and early June: In The Vampire Dimitri, we meet a tortured, brooding vampire who has come to strongly regret his bargain with Lucifer and who is trying, in vain, to break that bond. Too bad the woman he falls for is fascinated by his Draculean bent. And in The Vampire Narcise, we meet a damaged female vampire who believes that love isn’t for immortals—because nothing can last forever, especially for someone whose soul is not their own.

    Thanks so much for having me here! I’m going to give away a copy of the second book in the series, The Vampire Dimitri, to a commenter today.

    To enter to win, either ask me a relevant question about the series or writing, etc., and/or tell me...if you were a Dracule, what would your Asthenia be?
    Thanks, Colleen. Can't wait to start this new series. You know how anxious I was to get my hands on each new Gardella book.

    So, get to commenting, folks. :) There's a great new book up for grabs.Source URL:
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Wednesday giveaway!

    Today's giveaway is from Moop, the Pittsburgh studio that makes beautiful handmade bags for men, women and kids. Their bags are soft and roomy and perfect for adventures around town. I'm lucky enough to have their blue market bag, and their new waxed canvas collection and Very Useful Tote (both pictured above) are gorgeous. They're offering one lucky winner any bag from their shop--you get to choose!

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

    Update: Melissa Hall is our lucky winner. Thanks for playing.Source URL:
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A handy guide to creating the perfect cheese plate

    I may or may not be obsessed with cheese (are you, too?), so the fact that we live down the street from Murray's Cheese, the most amazing cheese shop that ever existed, is fabulous and a little dangerous. The shop is packed with incredible cheeses, meats, chocolates, breads and ice creams, and the cheesemongers are geniuses (and give samples!). Toby and I venture over there at least twice a week, and we're both fatter and happier for it.

    So, my darlings, I'm thrilled to present this handy guide to creating the perfect cheese plate! I met with Murray's head cheesemonger Sydney Willcox to discover her tried-and-true tips, and the lovely Jamie Beck took photos. Here goes...
    Overall pointers for putting together a cheese plate:
    * When you invite friends over, buy one ounce per person per cheese; and stick to five to six cheeses total.
    * Choose a fun variety of cheeses: different textures, countries, and all three milk types (goat, sheep, cow).
    * Serve all the cheeses on one big board. You want your guests to start with the mildest and work up to the strongest, so place the cheeses in "clock order"--12 o'clock being the mildest and 11 o'clock being the strongest.
    * Take the cheese out of the fridge at least an hour before serving. Cheese should be eaten at room temperature, when it's at its full flavor and texture.
    * Put out a few different knives. Goat and blue cheeses crumble if you use a regular knife, so cheese wires are the best thing to use--if you don't have one, you can use dental floss! Softer cheeses work best with a butter knife. Harder cheeses, like parmesan, are good with a triangle-shaped knife. Cut circular cheeses in wedges, like a pizza.
    * If you have leftovers, don't store the cheese in Saran Wrap, which will make the cheese sweat and leave a plastic-y taste. Cheese is living and needs to breathe, so wrap it in parchment or wax paper, and keep it in the most humid part of the fridge (usually the vegetable drawer).
    Six cheeses for the perfect basic cheese plate:
    (pictured clockwise from top)

    1. Cremont is a bloomy, rindy, mild cheese, which debuted last year in Vermont. (The name "cremont" is a mix of "cream" and "Vermont"!) The cheese has both cow and goat milk. Luscious, coats your tongue, fudge-y, cake-y.

    2. La Tur is the little black dress of cheeses! Everyone loves it. It's a mix of goat, sheep and cow--which is is pretty unusual. Flavorwise, you get a hint of all three animals--tang from the goat, lingering buttery fat from the sheep, milky sweetness from the cow. The texture feels almost whipped, like savory ice cream! At a party, this insanely popular Italian cheese will disappear first.

    3. Pyrenees Brebis. Every single person I've has ever met loves this sheep's milk cheese. It's a huge crowd-pleaser. A lot of flavor, but very harmonious. Nutty, salty, floral, semi-soft. From the southwest region of France, where there are huge herds of sheep.

    4. Cabot Clothbound Cheddar. Cabot makes lots of cheddars, but this is their artisanal (read: fancy!) line. What's cool about this cheese is that it's a partnership between Cabot and the Cellars at Jasper Hill--Cabot makes the cheese, which is then aged in the Cellars at Jasper Hill. There's actually a staff of guys (football-player size!) who flip these cheeses everyday, so they'll age evenly. The cheese is wrapped in cloth, which is a more English style of making cheese. Super strong cheddar; you get little crystals. You'll taste peanuts, caramel, earthy flavors. Eat from the inside out; then take the cloth off and then eat the rind--it almost takes like dirt, but it works so well with the other flavors. (P.S. It would make the best grilled cheese you'd ever have in your life.)

    5. Pleasant Ridge Reserve. Made with raw Jersey cow's milk in Wisconsin. Very fruity and smooth. The American Cheese Society just named it "Best in Show" for the third time (it's the only cheese to have been awarded Best in Show more than once!). You've gotta try it.

    6. Cambozola Black Label is a very, very delicate blue cheese. Just a tinge of that mineral flavor; very buttery with a bit of a cashew flavor. A great beginning cheese for people who think they might not like blue cheeses. (Once you put it on bread and add a grape, it will mellow out, if you’re feeling timid!) Blue cheeses and chocolate also go together really well--a great balance of salty and sweet.

    Pair cheeses with: Dried cherries, walnuts, marcona almonds (I love these!), fresh grapes, crackers and French bread.
    Yummy! Thank you so much, Sydney and Murray's! Have you tried any of these cheeses before? Do you have a different favorite cheese that you'd recommend? I'd love to hear...

    P.S. More cheese-y posts!

    (Photos by Jamie Beck for Cup of Jo)Source URL:
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The passing of a great

    There was a man who was perhaps responsible for more things being tightly glued to otherThings (and quite a lot of people glued to things too) than anyone else. That man was Harry Coover , who dies last Saturday aged 94.

    In 1942, while searching for materials to make clear plastic gun sights, Coover and his team at Eastman Kodak first worked with cyanoaryltates but rejected them. Nine years later, Coover was overseeing Kodak chemists investigating heat-resistant polymers for jet canopies when cyanoacrylates were once again tested. That time around, however, Coover recognized that he had discovered a unique adhesive. In 1958, the adhesive Super Glue was introduced for sale.

    Coover held 460 patents. In 2004, he was inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame. In 2010, Coover received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

    Dr Coover, we salute you

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Misa Ramirez Visits the Lair!

    posted by Jo Robertson

    Today we're fortunate to have writer Misa Ramirez, aka Melissa Bourbon, return to the Lair.

    Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. She is the marketing director at Entangled Publishing, is the author of the Lola Cruz Mystery series with St. Martin’s Minotaur, A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL, and is the co-author of The Tricked-out Toolbox with Turquoise Morning Press.

    Please give Misa a hearty welcome.

    Lucille Ball famously said, “If you need something done, ask a busy person.” I embody that quote and all that it means.

    Let me start with this background info: I’m a wife. I’m a mother of 5 kids, aged 8-18. I teach online classes. I teach at a local university. I’m on the board of my kids’ elementary school’s PTA. I’m creating the yearbook for that school. Just me, no help (how did that happen, anyway?). I run Books on the House ( I co-founded The Naked Hero ( I co-founded The Writer’s Guide to ePublishing ( I write. I’m the Marketing Director for Entangled Publishing. I’m sure there’s more, I just can’t think of it right now.

    The bottom line? Writing is my passion. I am a former middle school and high school teacher, and, as I said, I still teach online with Savvy Authors, RWA, and at Southern Methodist University’s Cape Creative Writing program. Teaching, I think, is in my blood and always will be. But slowly, my passion for writing has taken over a huge part of my life. It’s what I do. It’s become a large part of my self-identity, and I love every bit of it. Mostly, I love the actual process of writing.

    A Deadly Curse, my newest romantic suspense, is based on the Mexican legend of la Llorona. I love this book. A reader recently called it “chilling” and another said, “This is a creepy book, in the very best sense of the word...a fast-paced story with a surprise twist at the end that I, at least, didn't see coming. Highly recommended!”

    Here's the blurb on A Deadly Curse:

    Most people think the Spanish legend of la Llorona, a woman who killed her children to be with the man she loved, is just a story. High school teacher, Johanna Rios, knows the truth. A descendant of la Llorona’s one surviving child, Joanna’s mother fell victim to the curse, drowning as she tried to kill Johanna and her sister Carmen. When one of Johanna’s former students, dressed in a white peasant dress like the crying woman herself, turns up drowned in the San Julio River, Johanna’s world turns upside down.

    The curse is back.

    Single father Ray Vargas is filled with guilt. His daughter’s friend, a former student from the high school where he’s principal, is dead and he could have prevented it. When Johanna Rios, one of his teachers, reveals her obsession with la Llorona and thinks three more people will die, each one representing a different version of the crying woman’s story, he will do whatever it takes to stop the killings from happening.

    But with danger closing in and his own daughter at risk, Ray must join forces with Johanna to confront the legend, the curse, and the man behind the killings.

    The second book, A Deadly Sacrifice (chupacabras, ranchers, and a curandera, oh my!) will be out in April. I also have a new cozy mystery series with NAL. Pleating for Mercy debuts August 2nd.

    And I’m thrilled beyond belief that my Lola Cruz mystery series will continue--release date at the end of 2011. Woot!

    My writing fills my life. So why, then, did I take on the position of Marketing Director for Entangled Publishing, a boutique publisher filling the space between traditional publishing and self/indie/mass quantity ePublishers? Because in the process of writing and promoting my own books, marketing has become an offshoot passion, something I’m good at, and something I want to help other authors with.

    Finding a piece of the publishing industry that I really believe in has been a huge thrill, and I believe in Entangled Publishing, what they stand for, and how they do business. Throwing your book out there and crossing your fingers that it sprouts wings and flies is all well and good. It happens to a few fortunate people. It does not happen to most of us. We have to create our opportunities.

    This realization led me to create Books on the House, a site bringing books and readers together under one roof. Every week, readers give away copies of their books...for free. It also led me to co-author (with Tonya Kappes []) The Tricked-out Toolbox: Promotion and Marketing Tools Every Writer Needs

    This book is a practical guide to promotion and writing and chock full of ideas, tips, and resources to make the most of your time, energy, and marketing dollars. Because of these two endeavors, I was well-primed to take on the role of Marketing Director for Entangled. Entangled has a phenomenal management and editorial team, and the marketing department, led by me, is just one of the many elements which sets us apart. We are a boutique agency, part of which means we have a very strong focus on building relationships between the publicists and the authors they represent, leveraging each authors’ strengths, and gaining maximum exposure for each and every book.

    There’s no silver bullet to success. Mostly it’s hard work. And that’s on top of the hard work required when writing a book. Even with a stellar marketing department behind you (and I’m here to tell you that most publishers do not devote the time, energy, or money to promote each of its authors/books), it’s up to each author to do what he or she can to build a career and garner sales. In the day and age of e-books, independent digital publishers, bricks and mortar stores closing left and right (it was announced recently that Borders is closing 28 more stores), and the changing face of publishing, marketing and promotion have never been more important.

    Getting your book in front of readers is paramount, but how do you do that? Here are some intentional things you can do to market and promote your books (these are covered in detail in The Tricked-out Toolbox): • understand your PR personality • build an action plan • set goals • set a budget • brand yourself • have a professional and effective website • blog, grog, or otherwise having an online presence • understand theme and audience • participate in online groups, loops, and social networking • think about swag, book trailers, and other promo materials • network • set up opt-in mailing lists • use ethical bribes (or bartering) • have a press kit • advertise • set up blog tours • use contests and giveaways • decide if book signings are for you • create a sell sheet.

    Whew! That seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. Starting with goal setting is key. Once you know your strengths and what you hope to achieve, you can set about building your action plan. Once you have a solid action plan, you can begin to put that plan into effect. Start with what you know you can do and work within your comfort zone. As you’re able, stretch yourself by tackling a task outside that safe place. No matter where you are in your publishing journey, it’s never too early to start creating a brand and promoting yourself. What are you doing now to fill your promotion and marketing toolbox?

    I love the cover on Misa's book Pleating for Mercy. Here's a question for our readers: What makes you pick up a book.... the cover? The title? Author blurbs? And how do you feel about indie-pubbed books verses traditional NY pubbed books? Are you willing to take a chance on an indie-pubbed book?
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Bandita Booty!

    By Anna Sugden

    Sorry it's taken so long to get the winner posted for Julie James' visit. Blame the nasty sinus infection that's laid me low *grrr*.

    Anyway, without further ado, the random number generator has done its thing and selected ...

    Donna S!!

    Congratulations, Donna. Please send your snail mail details to me at and I'll ensure Julie gets A Lot Like Love out to you asap.Source URL:
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Rita Finalists Booty

    Thanks to all our wonderful friends who are Rita finalists this year! We appreciate you taking time to stop by and celebrate with us.

    And another YAY to our Golden Heart finalists VA and Nancy!!!

    We had a lovely prize package of several books from our Rita finalists, so Aunty fired up ye olde Random Number Generator and...


    Please send your snail mail addy to our elfreda ica email so we can pass it along and you can receive your booty/books.

    Thanks again to everyone who helped us celebrate.Source URL:
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Senator Chuckie Schumer Caught Lying about GOP

    "Always call them extremists!"
    Washington DC, Mar 29, 2011. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, was on a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning without realizing the reporters were already listening in.

    Schumer thought he was on a private line with four Democratic senators who were to talk with reporters about the current budget stalemate.

    But unknown to Schumer the reporters had joined the call early and were listening in.

    Before the scheduled conference call with reporters Schumer began to instruct his fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process, and how to slant the words to cast the GOP in an unfavorable light.

    Schumer instructed the group, made up of Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, Tom Carper, D-DE, Ben Cardin, D-MO, and Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, to tell reporters that:
    "the GOP is refusing to negotiate."
    He told the group to make sure they label the GOP spending cuts as "extreme."

    Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme.
    "I always use extreme," Schumer said. "That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week."
    This is a fairly common strategy used by the Democrats. They will always mischaracterize the GOP position, effectively creating a straw man they can denounce.

    They will label any Republican position as "extreme" as they wage a nonstop public relations war to encourage much more federal spending, which will impose a huge burden on our children and grandchildren.

    Here's a bit more of what he said about House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH:
    "The main thrust is basically that we want to negotiate and we want to come up with a compromise but the Tea Party is pulling Boehner too far over to the right and so far over that there is no more fruitful negotiations,"
    Schumer also instructed them to portray the GOP as the obstacle to a budget settlement, despite the Democrats being well known for crying bloody murder anytime the GOP suggests rational spending levels. Schumer said on the call:
    "The only way we can avoid a shutdown is for Boehner to come up with a reasonable compromise and not just listen to what the Tea Party wants."
    Another very common tactic is to portray the GOP as being held hostage by the Tea Party, and then to demonize the Tea Party for demanding fiscal responsibility. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, since the Tea Party has very little influence over most Republicans.

    "Next time TELL ME when they are listening in!"
    Actually, if Schumer was right about this, then the nation would be much better off.

    We really don't have much hope as long as both parties want to push for higher and higher debt.

    It's a real shame that the Tea Party doesn't yet have the clout to hold any politicians "hostage."

    Very often both parties want more spending, but only differ on how much to spend.

    Once Schumer was told by an aide that the reporters could hear every word he was saying he stopped speaking in mid sentence and went to his prepared speaking points.Source URL:
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