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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Romance Trading Cards: Max Lunden

I did my first ever set of Romance Trading Cards, the adorable little tradeable, craveable, collectible cards that got written up in USA Today's article about the Romantic Times Convention.

And I adore them! It was so freaking fun to find the perfect image for each of the characters who have, so far, lived only in my brain and on the page, and to print them up for the whole world to see. I'm going to post them here and on my Facebook page, and I'll be giving them away at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City at the end of next month!

Here's the first. My hero, the wandering chef, Max Lunden--whose Zen poise will be tested like never before when he comes home from his world travels to help his family enter the biggest culinary competition in the U.S., and finds the team being run by tough, gorgeous, surprisingly vulnerable Jules Cavanaugh.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I'm back in New York! God, I love this town. And I especially love it when it's overrun with authors, booksellers, librarians, publishers, and various other people who adore books as much as I do. This week is the big BookExpo America convention, where the whole publishing world comes together at the Javits Center to get totally geeked about the books that are coming out this year. And for the first time ever, I'll be there! Really looking forward to walking around and seeing all the different booths and running into friends.

And if you're planning to be at BEA yourself, please come see me! I'll be signing the Market trilogy at the RWA booth today from 12:30 to 1:30...and I'll have my Romance Trading Cards to give out, to start introducing my new Rising Star Chef series to the world. I'd love to see you, and show you pictures of my hot, hot chef heroes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Book Addicts

I'm over at the fabulous Book Addicts site today, sharing the secrets of how I got started reading romance--and why it's the only thing I can imagine writing. Come on over and tell us your story! What do you love about romance novels? How did you get started reading them? And what keeps you coming back for more?

Friday, May 20, 2011


I've got so much fun stuff to share as things gear up for the release of TOO HOT TO TOUCH in August! For instance, I decided to get in on the Romance Trading Cards fun, and (of course) went a little overboard--I did a card for each member of the team in my new culinary competition trilogy, plus the subplot romance hero and heroine! I'll be sharing those with you soon, but first, the Big Reveal:

My new, gorgeous, hotter-than-a-red-hot-skillet cover for SOME LIKE IT HOT! This one won't be on sale until November 27th, but until then, feel free to stare at this guy and daydream. I've barely stopped looking at him since he first appeared in my inbox. And if he inspires you to pre-order the book, well, good. It's already up on Amazon, BN, Borders, and more!

Let the drooling begin...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Hero By Any Other Name

I had to name a new character over the weekend. He's not exactly the hero of this particular story I'm writing, although he is heroic--and who knows what his future might hold? So I wanted his name to be *good*, the kind of name that gives you a clue about the character and makes you want to know more about him, all at the same time.

Names are important. How could you not fall in love with a guy called Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain? Or Sam Starrett? Dean Robillard? Colton Lang? And let's not forget Adam Temple, Devon Sparks, and Wes Murphy. ; )

So what are some memorable hero names that stick out in your mind?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fall Forward

My husband and I were in Philly this past weekend for his graduation from his Penn masters program, and Denzel Washington was the speaker. Mr. Washington was very charming, self-deprecating and funny...but he also gave some great advice.

Rather than focusing on the nice, but somewhat unrealistic, rah-rah-you'll-take-the-world-by-storm attitude of most commencement speakers, Mr. Washington came right out with the truth: You will fail. Especially if you take risks, which you should, you will fail sometimes. In his words, if you never fail, you're not really trying. And in his wife's words, to get something you've never had, you've got to do something you've never done. So risk is good--but it doesn't guarantee success.

Accept that failure will occur. And accept that failure doesn't mean you quit.

I loved the sincerity of his speech, and his theme of persistence in the face of failure really resonated with me. Getting published can feel like that, getting shot down over and over, but as Mr. Washington also said (he was very quotable!) if you hang around the barbershop long enough, you're bound to get a haircut.

Keep at it. Be determined. Try new angles and push the limits of your own comfort and accept that it won't be easy.

The truth is, from where I started, getting published looked like the finished line. Having my books in print! And an agent and an editor and reviewers and real actual people who aren't my mom reading them. After that, what more could there be?

A lot, it turns out. As grateful as I am for every person whose hands and mind touch my books before they go to press, and every single reader who takes a chance and picks my book up, hoping to be moved and entertained, there's always more just over the horizon.

For instance, that next book. I was sure writing them would get easier as I figured out my process and refined my storytelling skills--but no. Not true. If anything, it feels harder now, six books in. Do you know how many times I've rewritten the first fifty pages of HOT UNDER PRESSURE, the third book in my upcoming Rising Star Chef trilogy? Well, I'm currently on the seventh version of the manuscript. And it's not over yet; I know there will be at least one more revision after my editor looks at it.

And that's ok. Those earlier versions were failures, in one sense of the word--but they weren't wasted effort. I learned something about my characters and their conflict with every iteration of the first few chapters. And that brought me to Mr. Washington's last big point: when you fail, don't fall back on anything--fall forward.

That's what revising is--falling forward into the next version of your book, knowing that it will be tighter, cleaner, more intense than the last version.

So thank you, Mr. Washington, for renewing my energy and getting me excited about what's ahead! And all of you out there, writers, readers, moms, students--don't be afraid to fail.

In the words of one of my favorite playwrights, Samuel Beckett:

Fail. Fail again. Fail better.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rainy Day Joy

We had huge storms this morning, lots of torrential rain--and boy, have we needed it. So I'm glad, even though Austin drivers are insane in the rain. Lots of slow, shocked driving by people staring up at the sky and wondering what the heck that wet stuff is.

In addition to filling our creeks and watering our greenery, the rain is good for other things. For instance, writing. A rainy day is a great day to hole up in my house with a cup of hot tea and while my laptop and I do sexy things to each other. I love to bake on rainy days (although I'm trying to resist--I can't afford to eat an entire batch of snickerdoodles by myself) and I love to read. But writing is my #1 rainy day activity (especially when I'm on deadline; funny how that works) so that's what I'm up to this afternoon.

How about you? How do you like to spend your rainy afternoons?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Rising Star Reader

So the big culinary competition in my new Hot series is called the Rising Star Chef competition--and I'm thinking of running a contest for my readers to launch the trilogy. Still looking for ideas, though! What do you think?

How far would you go for a brand new Kitchen-Aid Stand Mixer? (Not that red one, that's mine--but maybe a hot pink one, like I hear Williams Sonoma carries now...)

Would you send in your favorite recipe? Would you make a video of yourself cooking it? Would you take a picture of yourself with your favorite local chef?

What would you be willing to do for a contest like that?

Friday, May 6, 2011

ENCLAVE: The Giveaway

I'm giving away a copy of Ann Aguirre's stunningly intense, gritty post-apocalyptic young adult novel, ENCLAVE, today on my Facebook page. To reward the folks who've been fans of the page for a while, the giveaway is only open to people who are *already* following me. If that's you, run check it out!

And if it's not, take a look at this insanely gorgeous video trailer for the book, and think about buying your own copy of ENCLAVE. Seriously, you won't regret it. This book has everything: fast-paced action, crazy fight scenes, young love, and a kick-ass heroine!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Romance Around the Corner

Have y'all seen the Romance Around the Corner blog? They do a Waiting On Wednesday feature every week. It's a really cute idea, all about sharing opinions and info on upcoming romance releases that the blogger is excited about. And today, she featured me! Well, TOO HOT TO TOUCH. At least partly because of Hotty McHothot on the cover, there, if I'm reading between the lines correctly. ; ) She had some great things to say and I lapped up every word like it was a bowlful of slightly melty dulce de leche ice ream. Check it out!

And then tell me, other than THtT (obviously!), what books are you looking forward to? What have you already pre-ordered?

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