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Monday, February 26, 2007

It's the simple things...

...that you go back to, when the rest gets to be too much.

Our weekend here's been about rebuilding. My dh came down with a touch of my flu that thankfully didn't take hold too strongly. So, we stuck close to home and caught up on a lot of little things and got ready to push hard through the week. Played with the cats, played with our son, watched the beautiful weather outside the window that neither of us had the energy to go out and enjoy.

And it was good.

Recharging with the simple things, being proud of whatever you can do and not expecting more than the moment... We don't have the play in our day-to-day grind to get to that place very often. For me, being down for the count with the flu seems to be what it takes sometimes to slow me down enought to just sit and see.

Well, I'm going to be more intentional about the "seeing" this year. I need to be. So many great things are ahead. My writing and travel schedule should be the most fun I've had yet. But it will be too easy to let being busy and on deadline and tired take over, if the little the simple things aren't my focus.

I know what I want to accomplish this year--personal goals that have nothing to do with my job or what the world expects. Do you?

Those goals are what I'll remember each morning, as the sun begins to slant through the blinds in my office windows. And just before bed at night, even if I've been too busy to take a breath the rest of the day, those goals and what I've done to take me closer to accomplishing them will be what I spend my last few minutes focusing on.

The simple stuff... Focus on it, be proud of how you chase it and know it's what feeds you most. Accomplish the simple, and the rest will follow. The rest is usually stuff you have very little control over, anyway.

Besides, string enough simple together, and you'll find something pretty spectacular to be proud of before you know it.

Have a great Monday!!!

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Keep Marching... Looking forward to more fun... and more prizes

Stomach flu had descended in my house. I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that grade-school aged children are a conduit for all things viral, and it's mom's turn to pay up.

But, the worst seems to have past. What an amazing thing to say, actually. When you're in the thick of anything challenging, it can seem like the stress of now is all you'll ever be able to see. But we always manage to march on... to the next stressful thing ;o) And the next bit of fun, too. So, today, i'm looking foward as I pack up the last of our The Perfect Daughter launch party prizes (everyone should have their goodies by the end of next week at the latest--I'm already hearing from the first shipments winners).

I start travelling in March--with good writing friends that have become my travelling buddies, to meet wonderful new friends. Spring is bursting at the seams around here, which means my son gets to spend more time on the tennis courts, even if I can't right now because work is consuming all my spare time. Watching him learn and grow is a blast!! We have tickets to see Nickleback and then Billy Joel in concert over the next few weeks (or is it Billey Joel and then Nickleback???)--anyway, two wonderful extremes of my eclectic music tastes. I'm a girl who LOVES extremes, so watch out!!! There are new books to work on, exciting new things happening at Georgia Romance Writers... all good stuff. So, a few days of the stomach flu's not so bad. At least not now, that I think I'm going to make it after all (picture me twirling and throwing my hat in the air like MTM ;o)

Plus, it's given me time to pull together this picture.

What a cute bear and Liz Claiborn purse!!! I'll give the Made-for-St. Patrick's-Day set away to one of my blog buddies (randomely drawn) who posts a comment between now and next Friday. I also have plans to give away a matching set to one of my fans who've signed up to receive my newsletter, so if I don't have your email address in my website address book, send it to me... More to come on that soon.

But for now, enjoy your weekend, and smile as you think of the wonderful things blooming in your life as spring approaches. It won't all be green and lovely, but more good stuff's always coming. Roll with the punches, get through the work and whatever else is standing in your way, and always keep your eyes looking forward.

You'll like what you see ;o)

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

When it's golden outside, breathe deeply

The weather has turned golden in Atlanta. Our windows are open, the birds are singing like it's Spring outside, and even some of the fruit trees have burst into bloom. Did I mention the highs were in the low thirties less than a week ago? I know we'll deep-freeze again one of these days. But today is the type of day best spent outside, breathing in the gentle breeze and letting everything inside loosen up just a little.

Some days, we have no choice but to focus on the colder things in life. The things we must cover up and protect ourselves from to survive. Weather patterns we have to prepare for, so we're ready to deal with whatever might happen. When we're gifted with a golden day, it can be tempting to let it pass us by, because we're so wrapped up in getting ready for the next time the temperature dips.

But you have to breathe in the golden light when you have it, my friends. For just a momoent, stop all that hard work you do so well, and take in the beauty of what's right there in front of you. Yes, it's good to be prepared. Hard work is how we get where we need to go next. But sometimes, you need to take in now, and realize how wonderful what you have already is.

Another glimmer of gold in my week??? I heard yesterday that I'm a double finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence--both The Runaway Daughter and The Prodigal's Return are moving on to the final round!!!


Okay, enough listening to the trees rustling in the wind. Back to work for me. But look! Isn't the sunset gorgeous!!!

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Job Well Done...

You just never know, do you, how something's going to turn out? Even when you've done your best and given it everything you've got, it's hard to see the payout.

Taking care of your loved ones, being there for your friends, being responsible to your job and other committments. It's easy to never quite be sure you've done enough. To never quite feel good enough. And you've got to let all that pass you by and keep the faith, so you can keep doing what you need to be doing day in and day out, for yourself and the ones you love. You've got to have faith that staying on the path you've chosen will get you and those you care about where you need to be in the long-run, even when you can't see beyond one more day of working hard and not being sure you're making a difference.

Then, every once in a while, you're given a glimpse of the job well done you just might be doing as you stumble through your day. That happens for me, when a new story or idea hits the right cord with my editor, or when I hear from a reader who tells me how much my latest book has touched her.

Both happend late last week. My editor LOVES Legally Yours (though the title's changing to I don't know what). They've given me the go ahead for the Atlanta's Heros series, too, and hopefully I'll sell the two new proposals to them soon (including Remember Me, which you've read pieces of). Then over the weekend I heard from a reader with personal experience with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which both the internal and external plots of The Perfect Daughter are wrapped around--hearing that my story touched her and has given her hope means more than I can say. Its one of the core reasons why I write.

So, it's a good day, in the midst of worrying if the current book is going to sell well, or the April one, or if I can get the next book written, and how my growing career is going to change my world as I try to give my family what they need, too.

There's still a lot of unknowns, but what I know today is that I'm moving in the right direction. My work is building the future I long to be a part of. My faith is not unfounded.

I hope you find the encouragement and affirmation you need this week to keep doing the jobs in your life, and to know that you're doing well. No matter how crazy things get, if you're doing your best and you're focused on the prize, you're hard work will not go unrewarded.

Have faith. And if you ever need to borrow a little more, look me up. I'm always willing to share some of mine with a friend who needs a little help believing. I want all of you to be there when your next moment comes--when you get that pat on the back that tells you, "Job well done..."

Never stop fighting, my friends!!!

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Weekend got away from me!!!

Saturday was all-day GRW business--I "presidented" quite nicely, thank you, but missed posting Friday's winners and hanging with my buds out here.

Then Sunday was a total wash of family things. Good thing I like doing the wash, huh???

But we do have winners to announce!!! Thanks, everyone, for being so patient. I'll post later in the day with a fun new prize that I'll award to one of this week's commenters (something to get us in the mood for St. Patrick's Day ;o)

Until then, congrats to all the winners, super special thanks to everyone who came out to party last week, and (((HUGS))) to everyone who made the trip to buy their very own copy of The Perfect Daughter. Be sure to drop me an email to let me know what you think of the story. I'm already hearing from fans, and that's one of my very favorite things in the whole world!

Friday's Winners:

The small red Nine West bag goes to--Pat, who posted at 11:14

The larger Nine West bag goes to--Linda, who posted at 1:44

The pink tweed travel set goes to--Lis, who postes at 7:23

Email me your snail mail address, ladies!!!

I got a batch of prizes out from the first of the week. Am packing up the rest now and should have everything shipped out by the end of the week.

Enjoy, everyone!!!

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Going out with a bang!!!

It's our final day to party!!! Thanks, everyone, for keeping me and my new Superromance company this week. We had a blast on romancebytheblog and out on Noveltalk last night. And all the support and high-fives on my ST idea mean the world to me. I'm dying to make that happen now.

It's amazing to hear how many twins or twin family members there are in our little group. Nice to know I'm not the only one intrigued by the unusual bond that twins share ;o) Exploring that's going to be a treat!!!

Can't hang long today, because my son has an all-afternoon event at his school. But I'll be back later this evening to catch up, so make sure you're rocking the blog while I steal a few hours away. Those of you who are local, I'll be signing The Perfect Daughter at the B&N at the Forum in Norcross tomorrow from 2:00 - 4:00. Hope I see a few of you there!!!

As for topic of the day--I want to hear what else in your lives you think would make a great story!!! What wacky, emotional or historical thing from your life is just dying to be out there for the world to enjoy?

Up for grabs today, two Nine West bags... An awesome shoulder bag, and a smaller one. Both Valentine's red. You'll love them. Plus, I have this great set of Pink Tweed cosmetic travel cases. Sooo cute!!!

I'll start. I'm intrigued by psychic phenomenon, because I've expereinced a taste of it myself from time-to-time. Instinct, intuition, call it what you will, but I believe in the power of the mind to see and sense things we don't focus on in the day-to-day. Where do the right words come from when we're helping a friend through something? Where does that flash originate--the one that tells you to take a second look to make sure there's no on-coming traffic, only to save you from being hit by someone flying through a red light?

One of my "huh!" quirks? When I'm under stress, electromagnetic things all around me go nuts. Our wifi at home craps out...just for me...works for everyone else. I walk into a store and the cash registers go down. Can't scan a credit card. Gas tanks stop working. Once, the batteries all my watches died at the same time. Something goes on the fritz when my mind's all a-tumble. You can bet you'll see that in a book one day ;o)

What's your quirk!! Let's go out with a bang, celebrating the wackiness that makes us such a fun group, lol!!!

Blog winner from yesterday--the great silver/black Nine West bag...

Diane--who posted at 7:53... You' re getting something lovely in the mail soon!!! Email me your snail mail addie, my friend.

Keep coming back over the next few weeks as we plan our April party--plus I'm always giving things away out here. Have a few cool St. Patrick's Day prizes up my sleeve for you guys!!!

And here's one final taste The Perfect Daughter... I'm fast-forwarding a few scenes again. I thought those of you who've read the last two daughter books would enjoying seeing Carrinne again.

Now, go get your own copy and see how it turns out!!!


Matt had another inch of scotch left in his bottle, and no interest whatsoever in dragging himself out of his chair to answer the doorbell.

But the thing clearly wasn't going to stop ringing if he didn't move. Whoever it was had gotten someone to buzz him in downstairs, totally ignoring the fact that Matt hadn't bothered to.
Whoever it was had better damn well--

"Get away from the door!" he shouted, throwing back another shot of liquor, straight from the bottle.

He didn't want to see another damn person. Didn't want to think about another damn thing.

Thinking only opened the door for feeling, and feeling was at the top of his didn't-want-to list tonight.

He'd been off the job for two weeks. Paid leave, while Internal Affairs investigated, sounded better than being suspended. But it didn't feel any less like screwing up. And nothing felt worse than letting people down--his partner, his captain, Maggie...

"I'm as stubborn as my daughter, Detective Lebretti," a female with a smoky, southern-tinged voice announced. "Don't waste both our time waiting for me to give up and go away."

Only a moron would face his ex's mother drunk off his ass.

The doorbell jingled again.

Either a moron, or a man with binge headache one jingle away from imploding.

He shoved himself to unsteady feet. After making it to the door, he worked the deadbolts, double-vision creating a fuzzy mess of the locks and chains until he blinked everything back to normal. Leaning a hand against the wall, he opened up to the blonde spitfire who'd raised the only woman who'd been able to hold her own against him for longer than a few months.

"Mrs. Rivers, what can I do for you?"

She took in his less-than-sober state, then breezed into the apartment and rounded on him.

"To start with, you can make some coffee and drink enough of it to be able to focus on what I've come to say."

"I've got plenty to drink right here." He gave Carrinne his best scotch-bottle salute and returned to his chair. "You're welcome to join me. Glasses are in the kitchen."

She was the granddaughter of bona fide southern aristocrat, he'd heard--though not from Maggie. They'd never talked about their families beyond whatever was going on in the here and now. Luckily, in Matt's case that meant there was absolutely nothing to say, beyond the fact that his grandparents had stopped being a part of his life years before they'd both died. Of Maggie, he knew that her dad and the uncle she'd left behind in Georgia were the best cops on the face of the earth, her mother was the strongest, smartest business woman in Manhattan, and Maggie worked her ass off hoping to make them all proud. Friends had filled in the gaps a bit, revealing that Carrinne came from money somewhere down south, even though grit and determination had won her the life she'd made since arriving in New York as a pregnant teen.

Matt could easily believe the woman's pedigree at the moment, the way Carrinne gazed down her nose at the trashed apartment he'd recently shared with her daughter. Not to mention his next chug from the bottle. Then she grabbed the scotch and daintily helped herself to a good shot and a half.

Her grin as he reclaimed his booze said she knew she'd shocked him. Satisfied, she settled her petite self on top of the coffee table that matched the couch and love seat he and Maggie picked out together.

"They look like home," Maggie had assured him in the midst of their day-long excursion into furniture shopping--synonymous in most men's vocabulary with the third circle of hell. "They look like us."

So the bright red, slip-covered piles of padding had come home with them, and he'd pretended to like how they were too big for their tiny living area. What cop didn’t want to maneuver through a blood-colored obstacle course on his way to bed at night, or when he stumbled to the kitchen for coffee in the morning. The damn things were an eye-sore.

But since Maggie had left, he'd slept on them every night. Lying in their bed had been an exercise in torture. The hours dragged by, his body on fire as memories of making love kicked insomnia into his own personal, erotic hell.

"Detective?" Carrinne held her hand out for the scotch. Quirked an eyebrow when he hesitated.

He shoved the bottle at her.

"When you're done, feel free to let yourself out." He waved in the direction of the door, but ended up motioning toward the bathroom instead.

Lord, he was drunk.

"Not a chance, Detective. I was dealing with my own Tall, Dark and Brooding man when you were still trying to figure out whether or not girls have cooties. Do your worst. I'll still be here. Resistance is futile."

Hearing one of Maggie's pet sci-fi phrases come out of her mother's mouth got the better of him. His snort burned through the pounding in his head. Rubbing the heels of his hands over his eyes, he resigned himself to enduring whatever the woman had come to say. Whatever it took to get his bottle back and his ex's mother out of his apartment, so he could finish drinking himself into the oblivion he was hoping would make thinking completely impossible.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Help me write a kicking thriller!!! Oh and more release party prizes and winners

Thanks for making Luv Day (as Michelle Buonfiglio from romancebytheblog.com calls it) special yesterday. And thanks for heading over there to keep me company as I guest blogged. Check back over there today to see who won yesterday's special prizes...you just might see a familiar face or two ;o)

Yesterday's winner here is, of course, listed below. Here's the silver/black Nine West shoulder bag that everyone's been drooling over--that's our blog prize today!!! It's the sister of the tote I'm giving away in my website contest.

Here's a pic of another great XOXO purse set that I'll be giving away during my 9:00 p.m. Noveltalk.com chat. Don't miss your chance to win.

Okay--we're going to get off the love stuff today and talk excitement and thrills of another kind. February is my month to, amidst the promotion of The Perfect Daughter and pulling together a pitch for my 2008 Mother's Day anthology, to get serious about the paranormal suspense/thriller series I've had on the back burner for quite a while. They will be mainstream stories with romantic elements, but the action and adventure and dynamics between the twin sisters who will be my heroines will lead.

To gear up, I've been watching fast-paced dramas on TV like The Unit (well, I'm watching Season 1 DVDs) and so forth, and I'm reading things like Elizabeth Lowell's Always Time to Die). I want relationships (family dynamics) to drive the book along with the action, and Elizabeth Lowell does relationships better than anyone I know. I'm really enjoying her mainstream voice.

I can't reveal too much about my story line until I get a go ahead from my agent that she think's the chapters I'm working on will be sellable. But from a high-level, I can tell you my paranormal elements will be pyschic, and my twin sisters are tortured by a shared destiny and family secrets that have driven the "bad" sister seemingly insane and are scaring the "good" twin into believing she's next. Meanwhile... people they care about are dying, and before long people they mearly come into contact with are at risk--innocents that don't deserve to die because the sisters won't embrace their joined destinies...

So, today's a bit of a reserch/fact-finding party. What do you love about what I just wrote? What doesn't work for you? What's your favorite kind of thriller? I want the family bond and dynamics so strong in these stories that I can write further into the series. I have so many ideas!!! What kind of "community" hooks have grabbed you in books and the movies/tv you watch outside of the romance genre? That's what i'm loving about The Unit--the community bond between the families locked together in the special forces community. I'm going for a flavor of that. Tell me what you like, my friends. Help me write something you'll never want to put down, even when you're done.

As a reward, I'm fast-forwarding a few scenes in The Perfect Daughter to take us to where Matt has gone since we last saw him... Things are going well for him at all, I'm afraid... I'd forgotten how wonderful the pacing is in this story. I promise, you won't be disappointed ;o)

Oh! Can't forget yesterday's winner!!! The new owner of the gorgeous pink Guess evening purse is... Beth, who posted at 5:25... send me your snail mail addie, Beth. That amazing bag needs a new mommy ;o)

Excerpt away!!!


"Lebretti!" Someone shouted over the thud of Matt's fist striking flesh and bone. "Turn him loose, Detective.

Captain Sanders.

A second's hesitation gave the half-conscious gangster kicking and cursing beneath Matt enough time to drive his fist into the ribs Matt had bruised taking him down.

"Come on!" Matt snarled in Flores' face. "Is that all you got?"

Screw Sanders.

Screw them all.

Matt's next punch shattered Flores' jaw. The drug-peddling, gun-smuggling weasel groaned, his eyes rolling back. Then the bastard had the nerve to pass out.

"Wake up!" Matt struck again, not carrying where the blows landed. "Wake up, you coward."

The piece of shit had been holed up in a rancid corner of the alley for over an hour, his semi-automatic raining a random arc of death at Matt's men. When the bullets ran out, Matt had charged from their secure perimeter.

Flores was his.

"Enough!" A set of hands grabbed Matt's swinging arm.

A brawny forearm wrapped around his neck, cutting off air and yanking him away from the gangster's battered body.

"Get the paramedics over here," Sanders barked into his com unit. He glowered down to where two uniformed officers held Matt pinned to the filthy pavement. "And get Lebretti's ass into the back of a squad car."

"No!" Matt swallowed the vile mixture of adrenaline and rage. The blood on his face, his hands, slowly registered, along with the ramifications of what he'd done. "I'm fine."

Sanders shook his head, his expression disgusted--not by a punk like Flores getting beat-down, but by the career one of his lead detectives had just thrown away in as public a way as possible.

"You're suspended," he said. "Get checked out by the EMTs, then get your butt back to the station. I want your badge and weapon on my desk."

The officers turned him loose, leaving him sprawled in the muck as they hustled back to their assigned duties. The scene crawled with cops and medical personnel. Thanks to Matt's contacts and endless nights on stake-out, they'd finally brought down the local MS leadership. At least until tomorrow, when a new set of soulless criminals took their place. But instead of congratulating Matt for his part, officers and detectives avoided eye contact, intentionally not passing too close, as if being a burn-out was contagious.

Just a week ago, Sanders had all but ordered Matt to take time off. Matt had been walking a razors' edge since the funeral, dealing with the punks his team hauled in, one armed robbery and drive-by at a time, then spending every off hour tracking the MS 13s. But downtime hadn't been an option. Being away from the job, the hunt, hadn't been possible. Having hours full of nothing but thinking about what he hadn't been able to do, for Bill or for Maggie, wasn't going to happen.

Getting Flores had been the only thing he could focus on and not hurt. The only thing he could still do a damn thing about.

Except now that he'd brought the man down, there was no Bill to help him dig his ass out of the trouble he'd just signed up for. And there was no Maggie waiting for him at home, making him feel clean and new just because she was there...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day--Love, Excerpts and Field Trip Prizes!!!

Love, like books and every other favorite thing we can't live without in our secret heart of hearts, means different things to different people. But one day a year, we're all looking inward and outward and giving love it's due--whatever part of our life we let it touch.

I'm up late/early a lot as a writer. Like this morning. Couldn't sleep, so why not let my mind spin one more story while the rest of the world is snoozing away in shadows and peace. My company while I dream? Breakfast and Tiffany's is in the DVD. It's the kind of emotionally honest love story that gets me every time, the way I hope my books and this blog catch you every now and then. Brushing up against the parts of love that talk to you where your deepest heart listens, all wrapped up in a story that makes you laugh and cry and smile fondly. When you walk away from a story like BAT, you feel a part of your own truth a little more deeply. You hold the love in your life just a littel closer. Here's hoping The Perfect Daughter leaves you with just a touch of the same thing this February;o)

That's what I want this Valentine's Day to be for all of us--a touchstone to remind us of the light that love brings to us every time we let it in. So tell us...what will love mean to you today? Quirky, funny, sexy, family...we want to hear it all.

Where is your heart on this day of feeling things deeply? Whether you're married, dating, single...doesn't matter. Your heart is what's key--that and how you share it with the world. Writing is one of my greatest outlets. Being there for my family and friends is another. Listening. Trying to understand. Not leaving a single person I care about feeling alone when they need a comforting touch the most.

You, my online friends, have become part of my heart. You're my Valentine every day you take a minute to share a comment or a high-five or a giggle. So, let's rock the blog today with your stories of love and Valentine's fun!!!

What's going to make this day special for you?

Scroll down for new winners from yesterday, along with the next scene from The Perfect Daughter, which should be in stores all over the country today!!!

Today's blog prize here? --The trendy pink Guess evening bag. Over on Romancebytheblog.blogspot.com, I'm guestblogging all day, and also giving away the white XOXO Heart Bag with Matching Wallet. So slip over there sometime today and comment with the Bellas for your chance to win. RBTB is always a blast of a party!!!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow--that amazing black/silver Nine West bag will be up for grabs, and we'll be gearing up for my Noveltalk.com chat tomorrow night at 9:00. Oh, of course there'll be another excerpt to read!

Yesterday's randomly drawn winners from our comments:

Principessa, the $5 Borders Gift Certificate is yours

Sharon, you'll receive the cosmetic bag set

and CrystalG, you'll receive the red XOXO heart bag

Email me your snailmail addresses, ladies!!!

Only one last thing to share with my Valentines... Hope you enjoy more of Matt and Maggie's story!!! Here's the fourth scene from The Perfect Daughter--


"We got 'em," Callihan said as he loaded the last of their suspects into the back of one of the responding squad cars.

"Not all of them." Matt stalked away, the night's humidity gluing his shirt to his skin.

They'd cornered six gang members at the crack house. All of them sporting variations of the number 13 tattooed on their forearms, branding them members of La Mara Salvatrucha, MS 13--a criminal haven for Latino immigrants nationwide. But none of them had been Luis Flores, the bastard who'd led the ambush two weeks ago.

Luis was going down. Whatever it took, however many basement dives they had to raid, the ex-con's ass belonged to Matt.

Whatever it took.

Including being there an hour after the raid, instead of back at the apartment talking Maggie into to staying.

It was better if she got out now, he kept telling himself. She'd have ended up hating him for what he couldn't walk away from. For caring about her, but not enough to change how he did his job.

It's like you won't quit until you've made up for what happened to Bill, even if you have to self-destruct to do it.

Her warning heckled him as he reached the unmarked car anyone with half a brain could tell was department-issued. He had grown overly possessive of the details of the MS 13 cases, micromanaging when he should have been delegating, haunting the precinct on off-duty hours hoping for a lead and an excuse to head back out on the street.

He dug out his cell phone. Maybe Maggie was still at the apartment, packing her things. Maybe she'd calmed down enough to talk.

And maybe you've hurt her enough, Lebretti.

He was no one's idea of a romantic hero. You had to have experienced that kind of all-consuming love, before you could give it away to someone else. And the only thing he'd ever felt any kind of lasting attachment to was the job. Certainly not to the emotionless, barely civil grandparents who'd raised him out of obligation. After his coked-out mother OD one final time, his grandparents had sprung him from going into the system as an orphan. He'd give them credit for integrity, if little else. They'd fulfilled their responsibility to him. They'd fed him, beat him when he skipped school, threatened to kick him out the one and only time he'd tried drugs himself.
But love? They hadn't had it in them. Not for him.

Maybe it was genetic. Maybe it wasn't his fault that he hadn't been able to give Maggie enough of whatever she needed.

Damn it.

He speed-dialed their number. The machine picked up, and Maggie's funny greeting washed over him, saying that she hoped he, or whoever else was calling, had a good day.

How was he supposed to do that, now that she was gone?

She'd be with her parents tonight, or with one of her friends. He could find her and try to get her back. Smooth talk himself into another few days. A week or two. But Maggie clearly wanted out now.

Finally, he had the power to give her exactly what she needed.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Winners, excerpts, and dish on your favorite authors

Way to rock the party our first day out, my friends!!! It's amazing, to hear what everyone loves and collects and notices in the world. That's what makes each of us so unique. Interesting. Perfect, just the way we are.

That's what Valentine's Day means to me--finding that special part of the person you love, and celebrating it for a day. It doesn't have to be hearts and flowers and candy (though that's always a nice touch, I have to add, because sometimes I husband peeks in at the party, and I wouldn't want him to get the wrong idea ;o). But, honestly, as long as what you do on "the day of love" is about your special someone, and you spend time focusing on that one special thing you love most about him/her, you'll make that somone you love feel cherished for it--and THAT'S what it's all about.

That's what our love for books is about, too, I think. Drilling down until you find that one unique thing that makes it different from all the others. Why the voices of some authors have to be re-read over an over, and we can't seem to stop--these artists are giving us something that sets them apart from their wonderful and equally talented peers, and we fall in love with it every time.

Clearly, we're a bevy of booklovers out here, so let's celebrate Valentine's Eve by chatting up those authors we collect and save and reread (those of us who do) over and over.

So, today's party topic--who owns your keeper shelf. I mean, you have every single book they've ever written and when the books fall apart, you go hunting for another copy to replace them? For me, it's Linda Howard, Elizabeth Lowel, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Debra Dixon... all emotional storytelling geniuses. They could rewrite the phone book and make you feel it deep inside, lol!!!

We're celebrating storytelling today, ladies. Angsty, light and funny, sexy, steamy, hot hot hot, suspenseful, chilling...and the list goes on and on. What's your fix, and who delivers it best. Share, so we can go try out each other's must-haves and find something new to enjoy the next time the reading bug bites.

There's a new excerpt from The Perfect Daughter below, as well as yeterday's winners. And of course, the pictures I've sprinkled throughout are today's purse prizes. The XOXO bag with red hearts and a great set of travel makeup cases. And, I'm throwing in another $5 Borders gift certificate. Leave a comment today for your chance to win.

Tomorrow's our first field trip to Romance By the Blog, where I'll be their guest "Valentine's" blogger. Check in here for the link and a peak at the amazing purse that'll be up for grabs over there.

Yesterday's winners:

Kim W--the $5 Border's Gift Certificate is yours

Shannon--the white guess evening bag will be coming to you

ThatBrunette--you get the gold Guess set, including the mattching wallet

Congrats, ladies--email me your current mailing addresses!!!

Here's the new excerpt from The Perfect Daughter!!! Enjoy, and chat about books with us today ;o)
Chapter Two

Matt's hands caressed Maggie's skin. She swallowed his growl, returning the roughness she'd never wanted with anyone else. Her nails scraped. Her teeth nipped at supple muscles. Their bodies came together one last shuddering time.

Minutes later, their breathing still out of control, he rolled until she was straddling his waist, their chests touching, her brown hair curling madly around her face as she leaned in for another kiss. He palmed her bottom, his fingers long enough to trace downward until she wiggled and collapsed with a purr of contentment. His arms wrapped her in a hard-edged cocoon she never wanted to leave, so she cuddled closer and held on to both the moment and the man that she was fighting so desperately to keep.

"That was amazing." He tucked her head against his shoulder.

Her heart skipped at his lazy sigh, the way it always did when something felt this right. Then he kissed her temple so tenderly, the impulse to run attacked without warning.

"You're amaz--" he started to say.

"You should go. You're going to be late." She struggled away. Drew the sheet around her as she sat. Wiped at her eyes and cursed under her breath.

Get a grip!

"We have a few more minutes." He curled her back into his arms, then scowled when she shied out of reach. Rolling to his feet, muscles rippling, he yanked on his jeans. "One minute, you're dragging me back to bed, Maggie. The next you're shoving me out the door. Make up your mind."

The task force had a lead on the Latino gang members who'd ambushed Matt and Bill two weeks ago. They were tightening the net tonight. Forcing a confrontation that could turn deadly.

And she'd deliberately delayed Matt getting to the station for his midnight call.

"I..." She swallowed instead of finishing, not trusting herself.

I needed to hold you, so I wouldn't think about where you're going...or what could happen...

A masculine sigh yanked her from her thoughts. She looked up in time to see Matt's frown soften.

Why couldn't he have just stayed pissed and stormed away, until she was ready to handle him again?

"It's okay to be worried." He crouched beside the bed and took her hand.

Not a good sign.

He was an amazing lover. A tough man with a huge heart to match every other larger-than-life part of him. But tender and understanding gestures weren't his thing. Neither was looking at her as if she might shatter to pieces.

"I'm fine." At least she would be, if she could manage just a little more space between them.

But Matt held fast.

"You're not fine."

"Let me go."

"Not until we talk," he insisted, as if heart-to-heart chats were something they indulged in every day. "You can't keep doing this. I can't keep doing it. I thought you understood the risks that I have to take."

"I do understand." Too well. But understanding and dealing with the danger he put himself in for his job, where two different things.

The woman he'd first met had been able to handle anything, and Matt understandably wanted that kick-ass, confident Maggie back.

He wasn't the only one.

"You say, 'I love you,' when I walk out the door--" He sounded almost angry now. Sad, but angry. "--like you may never get another chance."

"I say I love you because that's how I feel. Since when is that a crime?"

"Since you make it impossible for me to do my job without worrying about how it's going to affect you!" His fists clenched against his thighs. "You've always known what I do. What I am."

"Yes," she agreed simply.

He stood between total strangers and the harm most people never knew surrounded them. But Maggie knew. She'd survived her teenage brush with drugs and the violence of that world, during the few years she'd lived in Oakwood before college. But her best friend, Claire, hadn't. Her sheriff's deputy uncle had protected Maggie, but she'd seen with her own eyes the kind of risks officers took to do their jobs. Risks that got cops, even specially trained ones like Matt, killed. And she--

"Maggie?" Matt smoothed a hand through the messy hair that made her look even younger than she was. "It's time to talk about what's bothering you."

"What's bothering me?" Talking like this bothered her.

Everyone wanted to know what was wrong--her parents, the friends she hardly ever saw anymore, the doctor no one knew she'd visited, her professors and her boss at work. But talking, remembering... It only made things worse.

"What about you?" she demanded. "You want to talk? Let's talk about the way you're obsessed with going after that gang that took Bill out, putting yourself more and more at risk with every assignment. It's like you won't quit until you've made up for what happened, even if you have to self-destruct to do it."

Compassion drained from his ice-blue eyes.

"I'm doing my job."

"Is that what you call being on the streets or in the station twenty hours a day since the funeral?" She was working herself up to sounding bitchy, but how else was she supposed to sound, when something precious was dying right before her eyes? "You only come back here to change clothes, grab a shower and maybe fit in a quickie, if I'm available. You're not eating. You're not sleeping. Half the time, you look ready to kill someone, or get yourself killed in the process. Why don't we take a few minutes to discuss that?"

"So you'll have even more reason to worry about me and wonder what's going to happen while I'm at work!" He stalked to the tiny closet they shared and dragged on a t-shirt--completing the uniform that, along with his longer-than-regulation hair and beard stubble, helped him blend into the inner-city environment he fought so hard to control. "You haven't been able to handle hearing about my cases for months, Maggie. Now you're so messed up about Bill, you've even got your mother asking me to help."

"My mother!"

Her concerned lover was gone when Matt returned to the bed. Calm, unflappable Detective
Lebretti gazed down at her now.

"She pulled me aside at Bill's wake. She wanted me to find some way to get you to talk about what's wrong, because she sure as hell can't."

"My mother has no business--"

"She's worried about you. We all are. You're--"

"I'm tired." Tired of herself. Tired of everyone worrying. Most of all, she was tired of denying that this broken thing she and Matt had become was entirely her fault. "I'm--"

"You're a mess, and you won't let anyone help you." The pain in his voice almost sent her back into his arms.

Where you'll only hurt him more.

Disgusted, she headed for the closet, wrapping the sheet around her and wiping her eyes to be certain not a single tear fell. When Matt reached for her arm, she jerked away.

Didn't he get it?

He couldn't help her. No one could--with the messed-up love she felt for him, or the mess she'd made of graduate school and the summer teaching internship she was no longer handling any better than anything else.

The only person who could help her was herself, a truth she'd hid from long enough. She came from a family of fearless survivors. It was time she started acting like it again.


"I... I'm okay." She forced her brain to function as she slipped into the first thing she found to wear. "It's okay."

It felt good, actually, to be pulling her suitcase from the shelf and filling it with whatever she'd need for that night. To be doing something besides delaying the inevitable.

"What... You're leaving?" Matt hovered behind her, his warmth and concern taunting her with dreams that were never going to happen for them. Lord, the man knew how to twist the knife. "I don't want you to leave. For God's sake, don't go tonight. Wait until--"

"Tonight...tomorrow, what's the difference?" They were over. They'd been over for months. She'd simply been too much of a coward to accept it.

The impulse to kiss away his shock sent her back to the closet for more of her things.

When you'd give anything to stick things out for one more night, just so you can hurt your guy all over again tomorrow, it's time to kick yourself to the curb.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Party!!! You don't have to GUESS where the fun is this week!!!

Party all Valentine's week, ya'll!!! Today through Friday. Hearts and friends and fun and prizes, and I'll be excerpting The Perfect Daughter (my February release from Superromance) for those of you who haven't read any of it yet. At one of our Blog Release Parties, and you never know what could happen!!!

Why do I give purseses away, so many people have asked. Because purses are one of the many things I'm in love with on this planet, as are my faithful fans. So what better way to be sure that a new book's release is one of my favorite weeks of the year, than to give away lots of fun bags and other goodies to my blog buddies!!!

Just leave a comment each day, to be eligible for each day's drawing. Yes, that means you'll need to come back tomorrow and leave another comment, but we'll be having so much fun, you wont' mind. Promise.

Today's prizes--well, getting to hang with your friends, for one thing ;o) . But I'm also throwing in a $5 Borders gift certificate, and two lucky winners will receive one of my trendy GUESS purses--the Gold Mine purse and matching wallet or another stylish White party purse I picked up at the same time.

So come out and share a little of yourself. We don't bite. Promise!!!

There will be more prizes and excerpts and fun pitures and stuff here every day, and those of you who feel like travelling a bit, there will be field trips throughout the week, with more chances to win!!!

Today's topic--tell us what one of your favorite things is. You already know purses are mine. Really, I buy something special with each new contract. Those who've hung out here enough know that usually means either a purse or a piece of fine art. I'm nuts about collecting what other artists see in the world--visual art, music, textiles, you name it. When it comes to paitings, I'm more of a motion and emotion girl. I want a picture to make me feel something. Tell me a story. For instance, here's the fine art giclee reproduction hanging across from desk--from Itallian artist Pino Daeni. The title is White Rhapsody, and my husband bought it for me when I signed my first contract. Says he thinks she looks like me. The motion and subtle variations send my imagiation soaring every time I need a little inspiration.

Of course, ladies, when we need some inspiration, it doesn't take a master artist to get us in the mood--photography is another love of mine. Yours, too, I'm betting. To my guy blog friends, I'll make sure to include something fun for you to look at throughout the week, too ;o) But, ladies, doesn't this guy's expression and georgous eyes make your mind go to romantic places we all need to escape to from time to time?

So, what's one of your favorite things? What's something you're always recognized for having with you or doing or enjoying, that's just a little left of center? I'm an artist. Far from the normal human being, and I'm starting to like that a bit more with every year that goes by. So share your quriky self with me and everyone else. Let us get to know you a bit better.
And while you do, here's an excerpt from The Perfect Daughter. I'm hearing from fans all over the country that early copies are in bookstores and WallMarts and grocery stores everywhere. Hope you find one near you!!!

Chapter One

"Stop hovering, Mom." Maggie Rivers barely glanced at the woman who'd joined her beside an ornate stained glass window.

She'd been independent for years. Since she was a teenager, her parents had supported her from a distance while trusting her to make her own choices. But today, Carrinne Wilmington-Rivers was displaying a talent for up-close-and-personal hand wringing.

"I'm fine," Maggie insisted, when her entire body was a throbbing migraine waiting to happen. "Please go sit with Dad."

Her father was somewhere amidst the crowd of Class-A-dressed officers who'd filled the enormous Manhattan cathedral. But her mother had abandoned their perfectly good seats to offer the kind of public support that could only mean disaster. The kind of lean on me, when you're not strong display Maggie refused to let NYPD Detective Matt Lebretti see her needing.

Matt and the other pallbearers would be carrying the flag-draped coffin into the church any minute. Then he'd join her near the front. She had a funeral service to get through for a man she barely knew. A man whose death was entirely too personal for both her and Matt. No way was she indulging in a heart-to-heart with her mother. It was already impossible not to picture everyone being there for Matt, instead of his partner.

He and Bill had been standing only a few feet away from each other when Bill went down.

"I know how hard this must be for you." Her mother squeezed Maggie's shoulder. "If you needed anything--"

"I need to focus on Matt right now."

Through the cathedral's open doors, she could see him waiting on the steps for the hearse to arrive. Her heart caught at the rigid set of his classic Italian features. He was determined to be okay, too, no matter how responsible he felt for Bill Donavan's death.

"It's not like this is the first funeral I've ever been to." She shrugged off her mother's touch and the echoes of everything she'd fought to leave behind.

"Matt's clearly worried about you." Her mom blinked at Maggie's wordless glare to shut up, please. "Letting yourself lean on people while you deal with something like this isn't the end of the world, Honey."

Something like this.

A sea of blue.

That's what her dad had said a NYPD funeral would look like. His description hadn't begun to prepare her for the reality.

When she'd started NYU five years ago, he'd transferred from being the sheriff of small-town Oakwood, GA, to a captain's position in one of New York's outlying boroughs. His county-funded job mostly involved enforcing civil laws and warrants, unlike the city officers who dealt with the bulk of the day-to-day violence and street crime. Still, he and his deputies had attended every department funeral in the last five years. They all turned out--NYPD, New Jersey officers, sheriffs, port authority cops. They showed up in force to honor the ultimate sacrifice an officer could make.

Maggie glanced to where Bill's grieving widow and mother were holding each other in the front pew. Women who'd given a hero their heart, never believing this could happen. Not really. Not to them.

No one ever did.

"I'll be fine," she assured her mother.

Carrinne walked away in silence. Her expression assured Maggie that she wasn't fooling anyone.

Okay, maybe fine wasn't the right word for standing alone in a church teaming with grieving people. But at least she'd earned a few moments of silence, free of her family wondering what had been going on since her trip down to Georgia last summer.

Her return to the tiny town of Oakwood for her great-grandfather, Oliver's, funeral had unearthed memories she'd thought were buried forever. Now, her past had a stranglehold on the life she'd worked so hard for, feeding her fear of losing Matt and the compulsion to run from everything.

As if sensing she needed it, Matt smiled solemnly from his post at the door.

It hurt like hell, but she made herself smile back.
"You guys ready?" Tommy Callihan asked. Word had just come over the radio. The hearse was a couple of blocks away.

"Hell no," Matt bit out as he turned away from the church.

He wasn't ready for any of it.

It was too dark to be such a hot, July morning. Grey-tinged clouds rolled drearily by, threatening rain. Staring at them should have been depressing. Instead, it was a relief.

Anything was better than focusing on the flood of dark blue surrounding him as he waited for the body of his friend to arrive. Or turning around again to find Maggie still watching from inside.

"Oh, my God! I'm so sorry," she'd said three days ago, when he'd told her about the shooting.

She'd clung to him, asking if there was anything she could do, for him or the Donovan family. When he'd left for work the next morning, she'd bravely battled the first tears he'd ever seen in her expressive, brown eyes. Then when he'd come back that night and every night since, she'd clung some more. And he'd let her.

He'd needed Maggie's warm, toned body in his arms, just as much as she'd needed him. Just for a day or two, he'd told himself. Just until he could close his eyes and not see Bill bleeding out while Matt was powerless to do anything but pray for a medical miracle that hadn't come.

But two days had come and gone, then three. And the haunted look in Maggie's eyes hadn't disappeared. A look that was about more than just one dead police officer.

She'd said she was fine. She'd been saying it for nearly a year, ever since they'd moved in together and things had started to change.

She'd been a force to reckon with when they'd first started dating. Fearless. Magnificent. Then last summer she'd started calling his cell three and four times a day. They'd argued about it, when they never argued, and she'd finally stopped. Next, his long hours and late nights had started to irritate her. This from a woman mired in a grueling schedule of teaching by day, and masters-level courses in education at NYU several nights a week. Then Bill had been killed, and Matt had caught tears in her eyes every time he'd left her since. And that's when he'd finally understood.

Maggie wasn't irritated. She was scared. Spooked by the unrelenting danger he faced as a lead detective on Manhattan's gang task force.

Damn it!

He had a friend to bury. A job to do. A flood of internal red tape drowning him after the shooting.

But what was he spending every waking moment worrying about? Holding on to the woman who'd knocked him on his ass when he'd first caught sight of her--at the Central Park softball game she'd come to watch her dad pitch. At twenty-five, she'd been almost too young for him.

But she hadn't seemed the least bit impressed by his bad-boy muscles, or the rough-edged charm that most women responded to. Her first irreverent comeback to one of his smoother pickup lines had lured him back for round two. Before the game was over, he'd talked her into going for a beer after, and he hadn't looked at another woman since.

Sun glinted off the windows of the hearse as it turned the corner and crept to a stop at the curb.

He, Callihan and the other officers headed down the marble steps, his mind replaying the image of Bill's widow and his mother crying at the front of the cathedral, powerless to stop what was happening. Just as they'd been powerless every day Bill had left to do what he'd sworn to do for the people of this city.

The same job Matt couldn't turn his back on, not even for Maggie. Not even when it felt like he was wasting his time more often than not these days.

There would always be more crime and violence, more too-young gang hoods joining the party, than he'd every be able to stop. But he did the job better than just about anyone on the force. And that had always been enough. Making whatever difference he could had kept him going, no matter the cost.

Now, the tab included his partner's life. And if Matt didn't do something soon, his relationship with Maggie might join the growing list of casualties.

No, he wasn't ready for any of this.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Feel it all--even when you have to reach for it

Okay. Great news just came today, and... I'm yawning!!! Someone pinch me, so I'll wake up. Maybe it's deadline let-down, but, I mean, if I can't get excited about the Mother's Day short story collection I was telling you about being with LORI HANDLEAND, what's wrong with me!!!

: ) Isn't that the most amazing thing you've ever heard? I know she's got some fans out here, because we've raved about her before. Sigh... Have no idea what we'll be writing about yet, but Lori's one of my all-time favorite authors. I couldn't be more thrilled. But still, I'm yawning...

Actually thought about not posting tonight. Then I took myself in hand and gave myself a bit of my own advice--fake it until you make it. Sure I'm exhausted and I've been on deadline for going on three years. Sure promoting a new book--two in two months, even--is a lot of work. Sure thinking up new story ideas when Super hasn't bought my new proposals yet is something I hadn't scheduled into my month. But, come on!!! Cry me a river, girlfriend. This is your dream your living!!! Catch a clue and party ;o)

Thought you'd enjoy a bitty glimpse into a writer's neuroses. Because, really, we're all the same. We work hard, try to be good for our famly and loved ones, try to live a life we can be proud of... and wouldn't you know it, just as things start to fall into place, there's still more work to be done. Sometimes, so much work you're tempted to complain, or worse, to miss the good stuff you've fought so hard for.

Even when you have to reach for it a little more than you should, enjoy every new surprise and success--even when it means more work, when all you want to do is rest and party with your friends ;o)

So, partying it is!!! I've got some great new prize pics to share, along with my "I get to write something with Lori Handeland" news. It's time for some Valentine's red. Some of these goodies will be given away during our "field trips" next week--to see where you'll be going to chase down these awesome goodies, check yesterday's post.

Woohooo!!!! Can you feel me partying tonight??? Hope you have something wonderful to celebrate, too. You deserve it, each and every one of you.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Lots of Field Trips next week!!!

Next week's party will be a chance to keep in a touch AND a chance to get away!!!

For example, Romance B(u)y the Blog's Michelle Buonfiglio picked me to be her Valentine ;o) I'll be guest bloggin over there on the 14th, and of course will have a great prize to give away. It's a great blog you'll want to go back to again and again. Then on the 15th, I'll be chatting on Noveltalk.com--and you know our chats are always a blast. So, we'll do partying here, there and everywhere, lol!!!

Lots of questions are coming in again about my purse collection. Yes, I have quite a few. And yes, the rumor's true. I treat myself to something new with each new contract. This time around, Issabella Fiore is still wowing me, so I picked something in winter White that I can wear with my funkiest sweaters and boots. I know I do lots of most of the time, but playing a white bag against my vibrant wardrobe is a neat switch. People stop and ask me about my new "baby" all the time.

We need more prize teasers out here, too. Guess bags are always a favorite. How 'bout this one? Tiny, yes, but pink and perfect for a romantic dinner or dancing out late with the girls. And for all my guy fans, the woman in your life will love getting this one in the mail.

I just finished my President's Column for the GRW newsletter (The Galley). Tried to tie in a lot of what we talk about out here. I included the draft below. It's written for writers, but the theme is universal. Let me know what you think!

More news and party plans tomorrow ;o)
Love Is In The Air

Love is in the air... Cherubs and Cupid and Valentines and Roses...

February is one of my favorite months. I'm mad about the color red, and it's everywhere. Hearts and sweet nothings may seem cliché to some, but they make me smile every time. And there's never an better time to be proud of the work we do as writers and dreamers of romance.
Spinning tales of people loving each other, caring about each other's lives, fighting for what's important to someone they care about--whatever "type" of romance you write, you're giving the reader a piece of your heart with every word. Your creativity. Your own unique journey. Your faith in what's true within all of us.

If you ask me, the world needs more warriors of the heart. Dreamers who believe that love can heal, that laughter will get you through to the dawn, and that holding someone close is the best medicine of all. My challenge to you this Valentine's Day--be proud of what you write. Dig deeper with every story. Make your view of love richer and deeper, then be brave enough to share it with the world.

When love is in the air, it's the perfect time to look beyond the business and the competition and the drive to get ahead that our careers thrive on. Take this chance to step back, recharge and remember what it's all built on. We're wordsmith's, and whether we write suspense or drama or comedy or erotica, our hearts are reflected in every word. Nurture that heart this month. Cherish the ones you love. Experience every vibration of love you can.

Then get back to work and share what you cherish most with the rest of us!!!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!!!!!

Okay, I know it's closer to Ground Hog's Day...but that's my Monday Surprise--

Harlequin called late last week to ask if I'd be one of three authors they've picked to do a collection of short stories for Mother's Day 2008. What a great theme, and a wonderful feeling to be chosen for something so fun. All I know for now is that it'll be released by Superromance. More news to come, as soon as I hear the rest. This on top of the new proposals they're considering...sigh... I'm feeling like a bit of a princess right now...

Of course, you can always be a princess for a day. Lay back, rest your head on your softest pillow. Close your eyes and dream of what you want most. Let yourself smile, and really feel how special the moment is--how perfect you are, just because you're there, doing the what you do best.

Next to Snow White (which was stitched on the back of all my shirts for my husband's fraternity, for which I was a little sister--yes, I was a greek, please don't hold it against me), my favorite Disney character has to be Grumpy. He's not bad, he's just very misunderstood and needed love more than any of the other dwarfs. Snow White knew that, of course, because with the heart of a princess, she saw past his bluster and loved him for who he was.

In my mind, that's all it takes to be a good princess, or a good mother, or a good friend. See through the grumpy stuff and reach for what makes the person you love unique and special. Make sure they cherish what's uniquely theirs as much as you do. Then you'll be smiling into you pillow at night...

Maybe my Mother's Day short story will have a tie to Snow White... Maybe there's a grumpy out there who needs lots of mothering to help him shine... Sound like fun to anyone???

We need another prize teaser, too. How bout this Nine West shoulder bag? It's a sister of the new Website Contest bag. Check out my contest page for the other. You'll love them both!!!

Off to catch some of the princess sleep for myself. Thanks for all the "welcome backs." It's great to hear from everyone. Next week's going to be a blast.

Check back tomorrow--updates to come on other fun events I'm participating in throughout the month ;o)

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Great News!!!!

Coming out of the dark...that's what coming off a deadline feels like. You know what I mean. You've been at the point, when you've accomplished something major but you're just not sure you can celebrate yet...because all you can think about is being able to see the light again.

Here's abstract artist Isa Levy's interpretation of coming out of the dark. Pretty much how I'm feeling right now--lots of color, lots of confusion, lots of anticipation, lots of hope for an amazing month to balance out all the hard work. A wish that will totally come true as you guys help me party on!!! It's the month of romance, the month of love. Once again we have a book to celebrate, and there's no stopping us.

Plus--I have soooo much good news to report. Will be sharing a little each day, as we count down to our VALENTINE'S LAUNCH PARTY FOR THE PERFECT DAUGHTER. Make sure you mark the dates on your calendar--Feb. 12th - 16th.

You'll want to come out and play every day, leave comments and hang out in case you win a fab prize like...this Guess "Golden Mine" evening bag and matching wallet. Gold-toned leather, gold signature accents...just dying to go with you to your next night out!!!

Sigh--oh!! Today's good news. Don't let me forget, my friends. We have to have good news every day this week, to balance out the stress. So, if I run out, I'm going to be pumpin you for yours ;o)

My first nugget of good news--Romantic Times Magazine got in touch to ask me to write an article to spotlight my April All-American Father in their Clubhouse (fan) section--a very cool invitation. Lovely way to chat with readers and hopefully build some interest in what is offically one of my favorite books. I'm including the short piece below. Let me know what you think.

I'll have a newsletter out early this week, with all the updated, but I'll also be sprinkling the good news out here--signings, chats, booksales, appearances, parties, you name it. I'm also uploading the new website contest prize. Anyone who leaves a comment between now and the end of my April party for All-American Father will be in the running, so check back often, enjoy, let us know how you're doing, and you could be the winner!!! You're going to LOVE the new bag ;o) In fact, there will be tons of new website updates throughout the week, so by Friday you'll have lots to see.

Enough teasers for now. Here's the Romantic Times article--hopefully it will make folks want to pick up the book ;o)

Single parents + kids = A romance that sweeps you off your feet!
Don't believe me?

In All-American Father, book three of Harlequin Superromance's Singles...With Kids series, it's a single father in the hot seat. Picture me rubbing my hands in malevolent glee. Take a hard-working single parent running smack into love when least expected, drill for the warmth hidden beneath every hero's capable strength, and what you get is the kind of contemporary romance I love to write!

Derrick Cavenaugh is an ex-football star and a successful San Francisco attorney. He's got it all. Too bad his rebellious twelve-year-old daughter is convinced that having it all isn't for her--it's not even for him. Leslie's sassy vulnerability kicks the story into a higher gear. Watch out! She steals each scene she's in, and she'll steal your heart while she's at it.

And speaking of hearts, Leslie drags a complete stranger into her family problems. Bailey Greenwood turns Derrick's controlled world inside out, including his post-divorce determination to be done with relationships. Staying focused on helping Leslie will save them from unwanted heartache, these two decide.

Don't they realize they're in a romance novel? He-he. Like I'd let them walk--sprint--away from their happily ever after!

The entire Singles...With Kids series is full of fun, emotion and passion. Make sure to catch all five books.

Come hear more about all the Harlequin/Silhouette lines at our two-hour Friday spotlight at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Houston! We've got it all--hot and sexy, emotion and adventure, Nocturne, NASCAR... And we'll be giving away great prizes to several lucky attendees!!!

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