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Monday, April 23, 2007

RT, Here I come--Winners, Winners, Winners

You know what happened yesterday, right? Got to packing for RT and lost all track of time.

Should I take the corset AND the Bebe top with the plunging neckline? Do I really need two cowboy hats to choose from for the Cowboy/Valentines ball? What about these shoes, honey--do they say sexy or "take me, I'm available"?????

Okay, that's the dream version of trying to fit all my promotional stuff, books for a panel I'm captaining, my work clothes, and, yes, my fun clothes into our SUV and still leave space for my two friends who are riding to Houston with me. Plus, I'm taking work (RWA, GRW and Harlequin projects, plus my ST proposal). And, of course, I waited to the last minute--didn't really have a choice this year, but last-minute packing is nasty even when it's necessary.

Good news: I'll be collecting lots of cool stuff and books for my blog friends, as well as pictures. This year I'm really going to try to upload some shots from the conference, so keep checking in all week.

Better news: I have the last of our Blog Party winners--

Yoga Girl goes to Belinda!!!

And the great green Coack "scribble" wristlette, your new home is with Sandra M. !!!

I think I'm two behind in my $5 Borders gift certificate giveaway from my website addressbook. I'll post those either tonight or tomorrow, so there are still more winners to come.

Best news of all: All-American Father is selling wondefully well. Thanks, all the fans and readers out there, for giving it a try and loving it!!

Brenda Novak's auction starts on the 1st--I'm sponsoring a Coach boutique you're going to love bidding in. Plus, after I announce the winner of my current website contest (for the trendy Nine West bag you've been drooling over for months), I'm putting a fabulous Coach shoulder bag up for grabs--will draw for a winner in July.

So, keep posting comments in the blog to stay eligible. We love lurkers, but commenting is what puts you in the running for cool prizes. If blogger is being nasty and you can't post, just email me your comment and I'll make sure your name goes in the grab bag.

Gotta finish the packing and start the driving, my friends.

Will check back in later tonight!!!

Thanks for the great launch party week ;o)

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Friday, April 20, 2007

The Big Finish!!!

Posting so late, so I'm giving everyone until Sunday morning to get their comments in for the final drawing. Besides, I'm out doing GRW stuff all day tomorrow. It's not like I'll be up for much more than checking in to see how everyone's doing once I get home tomorrow night.

Wow!!! I'm glad everyone enjoyed Derrick's scene. Of course, I'll have to give you one with Bailey now--she's fabulous, too. That's below, along with the final prizes--as promised, the final Coach Scribble wristlette is included. Keep in mind that next week, I'll start showing you the Coach goodies that will be auctioned off on Brenda Novak's JDRF site...GREAT stuff! Plus, my new website prize will be a Coach bag. So keep coming back for more info!

As for the last party topic, tell us what you just HAVE to do at lest once in your life. What don't you want out of this until you've accomplished? Even with all the good stuff you've had, what's the top-shelf dream you've been hiding away, a little afraid to drag out, because then you'd have to do something about it.

Me? I want a year off to experience the world. Go wherever I want. Do whatever I want. Just me and the man I love and a whole world to explore. No holding us back. No limits. Just do it and worry about the rest of life later. I want to be free, really free, and know I made the most of my chance. Of course, when it's all said and done, this homebody will be dying to come home to her own back yard and revel in the familiar...after all, there's no place like home, and nothing better after a long trip than a soft, comfy landing into what you left behind and have missed terribly (no matter how much fun you had while you were away ;o)

Okay, prizes from yesterday (woo-hoo to the ladies who won goodies at the Noveltalk chat, too):

Cas2ajs (cheryl), who posted at 6:10 pm, the Coach Umbrella is yours!!! And

The XOXO shoulder bag goes to RobynL, who posted at 12:50 am.

Send me your current snail mail addresses, ladies. I'm away on business for a week, so look for all this week's prizes to go out as soon as I return...might even have some RT goodies to stuff in the boxes ;o)

Final prizes, you ask? Here the are!!

Yoga Girl needs a good home. She promises to bring peace and calm to your travel make up regimine ;o) Her belly button cracks me up for some reason. The artist had a good time sticthing her onto the bag, me thinks.

And here's the final Coach Scribble wristlette--this one in a great green. I can't WAIT to hear how much fun someone has wearing it out!

And, as promised, one final All-American Father excerpt--Bailey's fallen for Derrick by now, but she's got a passle of problems of her own to deal with. Like the IRS audit that might bankrupt her grandmother's bed and breakfast, not to mention that the B&B is currently falling down around them. And, oh--a surprise visitor (Derrick's ex) who's not thrilled with Derrick's interest in making Bailey a part of his and his daughter's lives, is about to add even more trouble to her daily agenda ;o) Enjoy!!!


"What now!" Bailey ranted at just before nine the following morning.

The second floor suit's shower was backed up, and their newlyweds' toilet had overflowed before breakfast. Setting aside the plunger with a growl, wiping her hands on her overalls as she left the shower to drown in it's own contrariness, she checked her watch and stomped downstairs in response to the front desk buzzer.

A calligraphy festooned note beside the device invited visitors to press it to speak to the staff. Without exception, people ignored both note and buzzer, except when Bailey was the only staff available, as was the case today.

Leave it to the IRS auditor to come the morning that Grams had gone in for an emergency root canal. And he was forty-five minutes early, to boot.

Correction, she was forty-five minutes early.

When Bailey reached the bottom of the stairs, a smartly dress woman was waiting less than patiently in the foyer. And she was still buzzing.

From the looks of her designer everything, right down to the hair color and highlights that could only be achieved after grueling hours at the spa, civil servants were doing pretty well for themselves these days. Then she turned at the sound of Bailey's approach. And instead of an IRS auditor, Bailey found herself staring open-mouthed at a Western High School homecoming queen, in all her grown-up glory.

"Amanda!" She checked her watch again. "What are you doing here?" The hint of horror in her voice made her wince. "I mean, Derrick mentioned you were coming for the game, but it's so early in the morning. And, well, I don't usually dress like this...well, actually I do..." She wiped at the wet patches running down her front, then smoothed her bangs back and flipped her ponytail, silently coveting the other woman's neatly coifed curls. "I don't always look like a drowned rat."

Stop it!

Stop talking like a clueless freshman, groveling at the feet of the most popular girl in the senior class.

Clearing her throat, she extended her hand.

"What brings you to The Gables?"

The question was as close to polite chitchat as Bailey could manage.

Amanda had contributed more than her share to Leslie's heartache and Derrick's out-of-control home life. And the woman's appearance at the inn, her glance of dismay at her less-than-glamorous surroundings, was already getting on Bailey's last nerve. The sooner they got this over with, the better.

"Why, I'm here for a room. One with a private bath, of course."

Okay, so much for better.

"I thought you'd be--"

"Staying with my family?" If Amanda's megawatt smile stretched any wider, she'd be nothing but gums. "Derrick thought it would be best that I not disrupt the girls' routine?"

"So he sent you right on over, did he?"

"Actually, no. He mentioned that you were baby sitting Leslie in the afternoons, I must admit I was intrigued. Your name sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place you. The alumni Website included a link to this old place, and I just couldn't resist, once I saw how quaint it was. And you're so close to Derrick's, it's like it was meant to be."

"What a small world."

Bailey mentally decoded.

She was a nobody in high school. Her run-down B&B was convenient, because it was two blocks from Amanda's ex and their girls. But that didn't change the fact that Bailey was still a nobody, and Amanda was here to make sure she didn't forget it.

She stepped behind the desk.

"Let me see what we have available on such short notice. It's going to be a very busy weekend, I'm afraid."

It wasn't a complete lie. They were expecting quite a few guests, thanks to the homecoming festivities and the add she'd paid to sponsor on the alumni Website. Still, there were several rooms available, not that Amanda needed to know that.

"We only have one suite left. Unfortunately, its plumbing is currently on strike, and I haven't quite beat the shower into submission. But if I can't show it whose boss by tonight, I promise I'll call in a plumber. The original second-floor bathroom in the hall is perfectly lovely, though. You could use that in the mean time."

"Share a bathroom." Someone who'd been asked to strip naked and run through the halls couldn't have looked more shocked. "What kind of hotel is this?"

"A turn of the century Victorian, that doesn't take kindly to me rooting around in its pipes. I'm sorry I can't offer anything more accommodating." Bailey paused .When lightening didn't strike, she took it as permission to proceed. "But I can understand what you mean, about wanting to be as close as possible to your girls. If I were in your shoes, I'd do just about anything to have as much time with them as I could get."

"Yes, I miss them terribly." Amanda's eyes narrowed, but not her smile. "The room sounds lovely. Do you have someone who can take up my bags?"

She motioned to the two suitcases left just inside the door--for a three-day weekend.

"That would be me."

An idiot, who'd shamed the last woman on earth she wanted under her roof, into treating her like the hired help. All because she was feeling ridiculously jealous of someone she barely remembered. A woman Derrick had divorced over a year ago.

"As soon as I take an imprint of your credit card," she added. "I'll show you right up."

Amanda pulled a Gucci wallet from her Gucci purse, and removed a platinum card from its nest of friends.

"Um, we don't take American Express," Bailey said.

"Of course you don't." Amanda's empty laugh was the same put-down it had been when they were kids.

And let the good times roll!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Chatting tonight--you don't want to miss it!!

Hop on over to NovelTalk tonight--that's where the best party will be. 9:00, Internet-willing. We always have a blast.

They're cutting down trees in my back yard. It's amazing how you can get attached to the little green things. I mean, it's better that they not grow into power lines. I get it. But I love watching the leaves rustle in the breeze. The colors changing in the fall and the beautiful buds and blooms every spring. Watching them go is another kind of change--and change is good, right?

Never my strong suit--accepting what has to go and staying open to what will fill the void left behind. And I've been so blessed over the years, with the good things always waiting for me to see them for what they are. I guess that's why my characters struggle with the same issue so often. A girl needs as much affirmation as she can get ;o)

I've pulled a great scene from All-American Father for you today. If you don't have your copy yet, go out and grab one either on eHarlquin or at your local store--I'm down to just a few copies on amazon...it's lovely to be sold out. In this scene, the hero, an ex-college all-american football star, has hit rock bottom as a single father and is talking with a group of other single parents (all women, tee-hee) about the hole he's sunk into...only to realize he hasn't failed as much as he's forgotten that the one thing he can control is how he starts over. I LOVE this single parents series... it's great for us all to be reminded that the real power is in doing the best we can and never forgetting that that's always going to be enough--as long as we keep the people we love close and fight together.

Sigh...see, I'm feeling better about the trees already ;o)

Tell us what wondeful things have come into you life, because of changes that challenged you to look beyond now and grab for tomorrow!!!

I have prizes to give away and new goodies to tease you with.

First, the prizes:

Two days of $5 Borders Gift certificates go to friends in my address book--

Alice Anderson and Heather Hughs, you're my newsletter winners!!!

And for yesterday's blog party prizes--

Anne, who posted at 5:26 pm, the Golf Girl makeup case and bath goodies are yours, and

Linda H (readingissomuchfun), who posted at 12:32 pm, the Coach keychain is yours!!!

And a few more lovely things to brighten someone's spring day, before we get to the AAF excerpt...

This great Coach umbrella got lots of oohs and ahhhs when I first showed it off out here. Can't wait for it to find someone fun to hang out with ;o)

And one more XOXO shoulder bag, because giving away one just wasn't enough ;o)

Okay, here's a look at how Derrick Cavenaugh finally accepts the change in his life...tell us your story...
Weddings and sister switches and back-to-school meetings with teachers...

The three women at the cozy bistro table seemed to Derrick to be as close as sisters.

Margo Evans and Nora Clark he'd met once before, the time he'd stopped by hunting for Bailey. It sounded like Nora had not too long ago rolled off a stint at impersonating her sister, and she was now engaged to another local, ex-sports personality, skier Eric Morgan. And all another woman, Rosie Dewitt, could talk about was the local political scene.

The non-stop mom chatter he'd expected was a no-show.

So was Bailey, who'd bailed on her shift just a few minutes before he'd arrived.

"Derrick, I heard you made it to the Western homecoming game the other night," Nora said, all eyes swinging toward him as she spoke. "People were wondering when they'd get to see more of you."

"Yeah, it's been a crazy year." Not only did he barely know anyone at the table, he barely knew anyone in town. "The girls and I haven't had much of a chance to enjoy the city."

"That's right," Margo said. "You only moved here your junior and senior year of high school."

"For football, yeah."

"So, you're kind of starting over, figuring out what San Francisco has to offer."

"Sort of." Except he seldom saw the outside of his office building during daylight hours. That kind of put a damper on figuring out much of anything that didn't involve work.

Everyone nodded silently.

Waited for him to say more.

Sipped their coffee.

"I should probably go." He started to stand. Margo's hand covered his, her concerned expression inviting him to sit back down.

"I realize how uncomfortable this must be for you," she said. "But Selena's mentioned how hard you're trying to make things work for you and your girls. Is there something we can do to help?"

"I'm sorry that I barged in on your evening," was his non-response. Everyone had been more than friendly, but... "I think this was a bad idea."

"Social coma," Rosie said.

The other women nodded in agreement.

"What?" he asked.

"What you get sucked into," Nora explained. "When you first become a single parent and have to do everything by yourself. It's like the rest of the world has to cease to exist for a while, just so you can survive. Then one day, you poke your head back out of your own problems, and you realize that years have gone by without you even noticing. It's like coming out of some kind of coma."

"You've been drowning alone for so long," Margo agreed, "you forget there's a whole bunch of us out here going through the exact same thing. Once you've been there, you start noticing the signals."

He was giving off signals?

"Don't feel too bad, we've all done it," Rosie assured him. "Well, everyone but Selena. But she's like Superwoman. Nothing gets to her."

And he was a successful, driven man.

Nothing was supposed to get to him, either.

Except, drowning was exactly the right word. Work, his ex, his girls, the feelings for Bailey he couldn't stop, but had totally bungled... Life had sucked him under, and he was pulling everyone he cared about down with him.

He sounded like a teaser for the next Oprah show.

"If there was a single-parent play book," Margo said, after several minutes had ticked by. "Feeling completely ill-equipped for the job would be the first chapter, or section, or whatever...."

And that's when it finally struck him, how hard these women were trying to reach him on a guy level.

"The first pattern," he chuckled. "Play books are all about patterns that you practice over and over again, until you know them by heart. Then when you're in a game, you piece the patterns together into plays, depending on what the other team's doing."

He had everyone's attention, but not the kind of female attention he usually attracted. He wasn't a local celebrity to these women. He was another struggling parent they wanted to get to know and understand, and maybe even help.

He was a friend.

"So, being a single parent is like football?" Now that, he could get into.

"You mean like there's one major problem after another hurtling at you, while all you care about is making it down the field?" Nora seemed to be the analytical one of the bunch. She contemplated her analogy, her eyes losing focus for a second. "Sounds about right."

"The touchdowns can be a whole lot of fun, though." Margo's eyes sparkled. Her latest end-zone, according to Selena, had been her surprise wedding last month to her not-so-silent business partner, Robert.

"I like the victory dancing, when you've survived another school year," Rosie chimed in. "Or the first time you manage not to burn breakfast while you pack lunch, answer last-minute homework questions, and finish your boss' latest must-have project, all before the sun's come up. Too bad single parents don't get cheerleaders."

Derrick grunted.

Cheerleaders he could live the rest of his life without.

All he wanted was to make one damn decision that didn't cost the people he cared about more than it helped them.

He sized up the women trying so hard to make him feel welcome, after he'd basically blown their group off for months.

Throw the ball, DC. How many times had his dad said that, when Derrick first started playing football? Nothing's ever going to happen for your team, if you're too afraid to throw the ball.

"So when you've lost the game..." He clenched hands on top of the table. "And, I mean you've had your ass handed to you, and had to be carried off the field... What do you do then?"

He expected pity when he finally looked up. The same shock he himself felt, given how completely he'd failed at anything that really mattered.

Instead, there were more nods of understanding.

Nora even shrugged.

"I usually make myself a cup of hot chocolate," she said. "Get a good night's sleep, and start over the next day."

Not the omniscient answer he'd been hoping for from a table full of experts.

"So what you're saying is..."

"Get used to screwing up." Rosiesmiled. "And welcome to the club."

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

RT Conference Dreams...

Sorry for the late post--thanks everyone for the great discussion!!!

I have a Georgia Romance Writers chapter meeting and a Board meeting this weekend, plus, I'm swamped with last-minute plans for next week's Romantic Times conference ;o) Which means I'll come back with tons of fun pictuers of hunky guys and lots of goodies to share.

This is going to have to be fast for now--gotta get my son to his tennis practice before the storms roll in here. I'll come back out later and hang in the comments, though, so don't give up on me tonight ;o)

Question of the day--if you had a hunky cover model to hang with for a week, what would you do with him, he-he. And for our guy friends out here, what would you do with her ;o) This is fantasy folks, so no deferring to your significant other. What's your dream "hunka burning love" get away with your dream hero/heroine??? My answer...you're going to have to check out the comments later ;o)

Yesterday's winners--

Sandra M, who posted anon at 8:00 am, the Coach wristlette is yours.

Robynl, who posted at 12:38 am, you get the XOXO purse.

Send me your current mailing addresses, ladies.

Sorry if you've had trouble posting. I don't know what's going on with Blogger. If you just can't get through, send me an email and I'll include you in the drawing that way.

Also, I'll award yesterday's $5 gift certificate to somone in my addressbook later tonight. Tomorrow, another excerpt PLUS I'll be chatting tomorrow night on NovelTalk (more great conversation and chances to win). See you there!!

Today's prizes, you ask???

How about this cute "Golf Girl" makeup case (promise, it'll be full of fun bath goodies).

And another Coach "smiley" keychain. I wish I had one for everyone!!!

Tomorrow, we'll do the Coach umbrella, and save the last fashion "Scribble" wristlette for Friday.

Good luck everyone!!!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Even when you lose, you win--as long as you keep playing

That's the kind of parties we have here in Anna-land.

So, on this day when the news if filled with so much to be scared of (I can't talk about it it's upset me so much, so, please, let's just focus on the party and remember that every day is a gift to be lived to its fullest), we're going to hide out online and talk about what we love most about romance. Hope you made it by Romance By The Blog yesterday--it was a great day, and as Jennifer Crusie said about lovers of "those books"... yay us!!!

For me, the escape of a good romance novel is one of the true blessings in this world. No matter the trials and difficulties our favorite heros and heroine's face, things will always end well. Of course, for this author that's a challenge to see just how much I can put them through before they get their happily ever after. But the safe landing, the promise that all can be overcome (even my dreamed up drama), is always there. Hope is always there. All will be well, no matter what. What an amazing world to be able to build and share. I'm honored every time I reach "the end" and every time a readers share their joy as they join in the journey. Through all the ups and downs and the losses, these stories will be there for us as a reminder of what can be, no matter what.

So, what's your favorite thing about romance novels? What keeps you coming back?

We have winners from yesterday, but even those who don't get a prize have another goody to enjoy--another excerpt (this time from my upcoming October Because of a Boy). Plus another chance to win. It's all below. It's all good. Thats what I keep telling myself, as I avoid the TV today. There's still good in the world, you just sometimes have to work extra hard to see it.

Yesterday's winners:

The Coach Keychain goes to... Sue a., who posted at 6:25 pm

The XOXO purse and wallet set goes to... Rin, who posted anon at 1:04 pm

And my website addressbook prize ($5 Borders gift certificate) goes to... Staci Maniaci (who I will contact via email, if she's not joining us for the party this week.

Today's prizes (for your chance to win, leave a comment, even if you have to do it anonymously and just leave your name within the comment...I'll figure it out ;o) --

How about the blue Coach scribble wristlette:

And look at this great XOXO shoulder bag...just found it in my prize closet. Totally forgot I'd picked it up. Is it perfect for Spring or what?

And, of course, I'll be giving away another $5 Borders Gift Certificate to a randomly drawn fan in my address book.

As for Lissa and Martin, I left them hanging both yesterday and at the end of The Perfect Daughter. Let's fast-forward to the first scene they have together in Because of A Boy (out in October, so you'll have to wait for their AMAZING shower scene ;o). They're still secondary characters in this story, but their romance is an amazing thing to watch. Martin's moved to Atlanta, his estranged sister (the heroine of BOAB) is insisting on being a part of his life again. He's resigned to that now, but what he doesn't expect is for Lissa to follow him to town, too, to do some insisting of her own...

Enjoy today's excerpt!!!
"There's a woman out front asking for you," David Weller stepped into the Academy's bathroom long enough to relay the message, then ducked back out.

Martin finished washing his hands.

He was actually looking forward to seeing his sister tomorrow night. But he'd counted on having another day to process their unexpected reunion.

He straightened to his full height, grabbed his crutch and pushed into the hallway. Walked as normally as possible, his head high, his right leg dead weight but moving with him. His hip was still screaming from last night's slip and slide, but he'd be damned if he'd let Katie see it.

His sister and their mother's pasta he was welcoming back into his life. There was no place for her pity.

Only, it was tiny fireball of a blonde waiting in the academy's reception area.

The woman he'd let himself believe he could ove was picking at the wilting ends of the fern no one at the academy seemed to care about--so Martin had been sneaking it water between classes, or late at night, after everyone else had left and he couldn't stand to go home.

Lissa loved plants.

She'd bought him several for his hospital and rehab rooms. He'd found a way to keep them alive, somehow, those first few months after the shooting. He'd left most everything but his parent's antiques behind when he moved away, except each plant had found it's way into the moving van. One for every room of his tiny apartment, and then some.

Now he couldn't pass a fern without thinking about her. Stopping to touch it, to check if it was getting enough water.

His crutch creaked as he stepped forward. Lissa looked up, the beauty of her smile fading when he didn't return it.

"It's good to see you." She fiddled with a pinched-off piece of fern.

"Why are you doing this?" He glanced to where Weller was manning the reception desk, then motioned Lissa toward the couch no one ever used.

She sat. He walked to a nearby table and settled on its edge, his uncooperative leg stretched before him, the crutch draped across his lap. He usually kept the damn thing as far out of site as possible. But it was important that neither of them forgot it was there, or what it represented.

"I told you I'd come," Lissa explained.

"Your life is back in Oakwood." He could smell the citrus of her shampoo. The subtle fragrance that always lingered on his clothes after he held her. "Being here is a waste of both our time."
Lissa set the piece of fern aside.

"For someone who gave me the full court press for as long as you did, you're awfully sure we can't weather our first problem."

"Problem?" The hurt in her voice tempt him to reach for her. He locked his hands together in his lap. "I have to retrofit my apartment to keep from killing myself doing things I shouldn't have to think about doing. I'm fighting to get my mobility back, Lissa, but it may never happen."

"Fighting? Is that what you call ranting at your physical therapist, pushing so hard you're messing with the progress you've already made?" Her chin rose. "Sounds like a temper tantrum to me."

"We may not be able to make love. Ever." He didn't bother looking around to see if Weller was listening. "We might never have a normal relationship."

The reality of knowing he couldn't get hard, not even with the most beautiful woman in the world sitting within arm's length... He could accept all the rest, but never loving Lissa again...

"Martin--" Shock stole the rest of her sentence.

"Is that what you came up here to get a piece of?" he demanded. "You want to take a cripple back home with you, because it's easier than dealing with a real man after your divorce."

"I'm sorry to interrupt," a voice intruded from the building's entrance.

Both Martin and Lissa jumped. Lissa pushed to her feet, losing her balance briefly before righting herself.

Fury rolled through Martin. Not at the interruption, but at what he'd just said.

Damn it!

Lissa's ex had screwed her over for his secretary, but she'd rallied and rebuilt her life. She was the strongest, bravest woman Martin had ever met, and he'd just called her a user and a coward.

"I was leaving, anyway," she whispered, her head down. But at the door, she turned back. "Be as much of a bastard as you like, Martin Rhodes. Hurt yourself. Hurt me while you're at it. But the only way you're going to get rid of me is by listening to the physical therapist, then we'll see if we can handle where that leaves us. Until then, I'm going to be an in-your-face reminder of everything you're throwing away."

Martin rose slowly to his feet, but not to try to stop her from leaving. His crutch crashed to the floor, his focus riveted on the way his body had tightened in response to the vision Lissa made in a full-on fury.

Her cheeks flushed, her temper flashing. Blond hair curled maddeningly around her heart-shaped face. She'd looked just as disheveled the one time they'd come close to making love. And his body was reacting now, exactly the same way it had then.

He was hard as rock. Straining against the fly of his pants, friction and shock causing him to grit his teeth against the urge to adjust himself in the middle of the reception area.

Good Lord!

When he said nothing, Lissa's shoulders slumped.

"See you around, tough guy." With a glance at Creighton, she turned on the heels of her sexy black boots and walked out.

Martin stepped to follow, stumbling over his crutch, cursing when he had to sit to pick up the infernal thing.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Partying with Excerpts--What More Could You Ask For???

This week is all about celebrating the release of All-American Father... Or is it???

This week's all about the launch party giveaways, some would say.

It's all about YOU, I'd argue. My loyal online buddies--these celebrations are my way of saying thank you for always being here to share the ups and downs of this writer's life ;o)

And yes, there have been a lot of ups late. All-American Father's numbers are strong out of the gate, and I've reveived some amazing reviews--check out my Reviews Page (http://annawrites.com/reviews.shtml) to take a peak. Plus The Prodigal's Return just won it's first award, and The Runaway Daughter is a Holt Medallion finalist. But there's always the future to look to--and that's what I'm wanting to share with you this. What's coming up--what do I intend to make you wait months to get more of, he-he ;o) ?

Seriously, my gift to you today, my thank you, is an excerpt from the end of The Perfect Daughter--setting up Lissa and Martin's story, which is a strong subplot in my upcoming October release, Because of a Boy (the beginning of my Atlanta Heroes series.) Then later in the week, I'll share a peak of what these amazing characters are doing in BOAB.

Oh--and there are the party prizes, too ;o) Everyone leave a comment (about All-American Father if you already have a copy, about when you're going to buy it (lol!), about your lovely spring day, about whatever you chose). It's the first day of the party, so let's settle in and get ready for some fun (if you'd like to read an interesting discussion, check out today's Romance By the Blog (http://www.romancebytheblog.blogspot.com/)--I posting over there, too). But be sure to leave a comment back over here, so you'll be in the drawing for today's winners.

Here's today's purse prize, because you knew there

would be one. It's the last of my XOXO purses from the February paty. Isn't it amazing!!!

Plus, let's give away one of these great Coach keychains--I've received several emails from folks already, begging for one!!

And, as promised, I'll be giving away a $5 Borders gift certificate a day to one lucky fan who's in my address book--email me your email address if you never have, so you can be part of that drawing, and so you will receive newsletters and updated about future parties, book releases, and chances to win cool things ;o)

Here's Lissa and Martin's excerpt from my Feb. The Perfect Daughter.

Up until now, they've been a sweet couple slowly falling in love, but of, course, I couldn't let that last forever...stay tuned for more...enjoy!!!


How could such a large, vibrant force of a man look as small as Martin did in his hospital bed?

Lissa scooted the one chair in the room closer and sat. Maggie was hovering somewhere by the door, but Lissa had eyes only for Martin.

He was so still. The kind of still demanded by the narcotics he'd been pumped full of. He'd be awake soon, the ICU nurse had assured her with a smile and an encouraging pat. As if that would solve everything.

Lord, what did she say when he woke up?

His hand moved, and she quickly covered his fingers with her own. His grip tightened, squeezing in that reassuring way of his. A happy laugh escaped, a watery one, as she rested her head on the mattress beside his arm.

"You... You crawling in here with me?" he mumbled, the back of his fingers stroking the hair that had spilled over them.

Sitting up, she found his eyes still closed, but his heart-breaker smile firmly in place. Then he shifted in the bed, and the smile faded.

"Martin." She gripped at the fingers that were slipping away. Bit her lip against the denial that welled up when he didn't have the strength to fight her. "You're under heavy sedation. It's important that you lie still."

"I..." One final tug freed his hand. He ran hesitant fingers down his side until he reached his hip.

"I can't feel my..."

"The doctor says there's a good chance the lack of sensation's only temporary."

It wasn't a bald face lie. At the worst, it was a well-intentioned exaggeration. Anyone, especially an athletic, independent, ruthlessly physical man, was entitled to a few juicy exaggerations to get through something like this.

And Martin was getting through this. She refused to accept anything less.

"What happened?" His voice was that of a stranger's now. Cold and distant, as if he were pulling in on himself. Away from her. His eyes squinted open. "Tony was down, and--"

"Tony's okay." She soothed her palm over his arm. The heat of his skin, the sifting muscles beneath, were exactly the reassurance she needed to keep talking. To help Martin hold on, until the surgery was done and they had more information. "They're admitting him for the night, but it sounds like more of a precaution than anything else. Sheriff Lewis said you went in to cover. If it weren't for you--"

"What happened to me," Martin bit out. His chest was rising and falling at an alarming, too-fast pace. "Why can't I move my legs."

"You...were shot." She refused to look away. She refused to fall apart.

"Wh... Where?"

"In the back." Her voice broke, but she ignored it. "Twice."

Panic flared in his now-alert eyes. Anger and denial. Then he turned he head until he was looking away.

"They'll operate as soon as you're ready." He'd stopped trying to dislodge her grip, but the distance kept growing between them as he stared at the wall. "They have to retrieve one of the bullets they couldn't get out earlier. The doctor was saying you should be good as new after that."

Martini's head whipped back toward her. His eyes narrowed, calling her a liar.

"They're not sure if surgery will fix my legs, are they?" he lashed out. "What is the doctor going to say then? Sorry officer, you're life is over?"

"Your life isn't over, Martin. And I--"

"You what!" he demanded. "You're going to keep coming around then? Getting your kicks sitting by the cripple's beside and telling him everything's going to be peaches and cream when you don't know dick? Is that what you were looking for in your next man, Lissa? Maybe you could even change my bed pan from time to time!"

"Martin, I know you're upset--"

"Upset!" He let loose a vile curse. "Upset?"

"Just try and rest. You need to heal, so they can take care of your back. You're sister will be here soon, and--"

"Damn it, I don't need my sister. I haven't talked with the woman since my parents died. And I damn well don't need you holding my hand! I need to feel my damn legs."

"I know." He was angry at his injuries, not at her. He was acting just like her girls did when they were hurt, focusing his pain outward so he didn't have to deal with it. Shoving her bruised feelings aside, she called up the no-nonsense tone that always cut through Callie and Meagan's crap. "But whether you want me here or not, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not leaving you to go through this alone, I don't care how good an excuse
you have for wallowing in self pity."

"Self pity?" He rewarded her with the kind of hard stare she suspected had backed down hardened criminals. "Damn, woman. A few hours ago, I was pulling your clothes off and trying to drag you into my shower. Now, you're telling me I might never be able to walk on my own again, let alone...anything else. This isn't self pity, this is the back-end of hell. You don't want any part of it. And I'll be damned if I want a woman around whose number one job is to feel sorry for me. Get the hell out."

"Martin, I love you, and I--"

"You barely know me."

"That's not true. We may not have made love yet, but--

"No, we haven't. And now we never will."

"But the doctor said--"

"Screw the doctor." Martin's toneless curse was that of a man giving up.

"Martin, please--"

"Get out!" He turned his head away again, dismissing her as if she'd never been there. As if she she'd only imagined him, just a few hours ago, offering her a place in his heart.

Her throat squeezed shut. Rising from the chair so fast it fell backwards, spinning toward the door, she burst into the hallway, only to skid to a halt beside Maggie, who'd clearly heard every word.

"You're not going to let him get away with that bull shit, are you?" Maggie demanded.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

I'm a big tease...

Keep reading, and you'll see why. I have lots of fun planned for our launch party this week--can't help myself with All-American Father already on the shelves and doing well!!!

The Coach goodies I'll be giving away every day (see below) are not just for next week's fun--they're to tempt you to come out to Brenda Novak's online JDRF auction (www.brendanovak.com), which starts May 1st. I'm hostessing a Coach boutique you won't want to miss. And it's a really great cause. So, get excited and get read to bid!!!

The other daily prizes (wont' show those to you until the party start--nah) are things I know will be fan favorites, because "treating" you is as much fun as teasing.

Just like I've been teasing everyone with excerpts from upcoming books. You LOVED what you've already read of All-American Father. I promise the book won't disapppoint. I'll have new reviews to share throughout the week, plus excerpts of more upcoming stories.

For example, distraught readers have emailed to say they were not going to be happy if I left Lissa and Martin hanging forever (their story arc in my Feb. The Pefect Daughter took an abrupt turn toward the unexpected, and then was left hanging in the epilogue). As if I'd leave two of my favorite characters without their resolution...

Guess who has a strong secondary story AND romance in my October Because of a Boy? ;o) Yep, I'm teasing again, but I'll be excerpting some of Martin and Lissa's upcoming scenes...then, of course, I'll make you wait until the fall for the rest, he-he.

Okay, that's a taste. You're going to have to come hang for the party--starting tomorrow--for more. Until then, take a look at the drool-worthy Coach goodies I'll be giving away to randomly-drawn commenters this week. Then after the party, I'll start spotlighting the great things I've donated to Brenda's auction. Don't miss a bit--come back every day!!!

These spring-colored wristlettes are great as wallets, or as a clutch on a quick trip to anywhere or a fun dinner out. These are more casual than the leather ones I'm giving away for the auction, but you'll love them--promise!!

How about a Coach signature umbrella for April/May showers???

And these cutie-pie keycains in shiny Coach yellow and white leather (I have three)--I'm dying to keep one, but you get them all (plus I tossed a handful to Brenda to give away as bonus prizes for bidders who bid the most on certain days of the auction).

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Two little froggies, hopping your way

Just a quick post, with the winners of my last two March froggies!!! All you have to do to be eligible for one of my random drawings is leave a comment.

More prize and contest news to come in tonight's newsletter...keep an eye out, those of you who are in my address book. If your not, send me a quick email with your contact information to be in the know ;o)

Last weeks' winners...

Anne, who commented at 11:20 pm in the April 3rd post


Shannon, who commented at 2:46 pm in the April 1st post.

Ladies, confirm your mailing addresses for me, and your froggie will be on its way tomorrow.

Get ready for a rocking release party next week!!!


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Springtime in the Park

Or so the marketing department promised, when my family and I decided to veer int Hershey Pennsylvania on our way home from New York--to partake of a taste of the AMAZING Hershey Park. Tons of coasters and other rides, even a zoo to roam through. What better way to round out my son's Spring Break week? We even enticed my husband's cousin to join us. She and her husband and kids followed us down from their place in Queens.

Guaranteed fun to be had by all...

Except the marketing department forgot to clear things through Mother Nature...

You can probably guess (if you've seen any weather forcast this week, anywhere up and down the East coast)--it was more a Winter Wonderland in the Park for us. That's right, it SNOWED on our Spring Break finale--SNOWED!!!

I have to say, an amusement park experience is all together a different thing, when it looks like the staff dragged out snow machines to spice things up. Flurries blowing all around us while we waited in line (can you blieve it, the place was rocking, and there were lines for most of the rides...while it was SNOWING!!!). Wind whipping and chapping our lips and cheeks (instead of the sun burning us to crisps) while we screamed our way down the coasters. Hot chocolate instead of ice cream was the treat of choice (for everyone, except my son, who was determined to have his chocolate scoop with sprinkles ;o)

That's the thing about my husband and his family--one of the things I love the most. Even when the weather took a turn for the arctic (the temps were in the 70s just the week before, when I hit NY for a conference, then in the 20s with the windchill by the time we hit Hershey), there was no serious discussion about calling the trip off. I mean, when were we going to get another chance at hitting an amuzement park in a snow storm???

Left up to me, a nice outlet mall excursion sounded a whole lot more comfortable. But what's giving up a little comfort for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something crazy with really good people you only get to see a couple of times a year? So we bundled up (like we were off to ski), determined to make the best of it--and we had a blast, in an "I can't feel my feet and hands" sort of way. Then we headed back to the hotel and warmed everyone up in the heated pool, followed by a couple of bottles of wine from our favorite Pennsylvania winery once the kids were in bed.

Would I do it again any time soon? My wind-burned cheeks say no. But I can check one more "that would never happen" thing off my list.

Have a great "bunny" day, everyone. We'll be snuggled up in our beds tonight and loving the fact that we're back home in warmer climates.

I'll post randomly-drawn winners from recent commenters for the last of my March "froggies" tomorrow.

Newsletter with lots of fun updates in it going out on Monday!!!


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Change is good--with a touch of terror to keep you on your toes ;o)

Having two books out in three months is enough to get a girl's heart rate jumping ;o)

Plus, there's the contracting of the 2008 books, the promotion, the travelling, the family stuff--you mean the kid really wants to do something for Spring Break??? And the husband isn't planning to spend the next two months in town, so I can get myself together and start the storytelling thing again??? What gives!!!

Here's the thing--change is the one constant I've learned to depend on in business. Never relax to the point that you're not looking for the next unexpected change that will toss things on their ear. The rest of life's pretty much like that, too. I know my family loves me. I know which friends I can turn to, no matter what. Beyond that, I'm better off expecting to be surprised by the rest, then I work like the dickens to make sure I'm ready for whatever comes.

Some of my favorite things in nature whole-heartedly agree with the whole, "live in the moment" approach. The ocean, for example...its waves are never-ceasing, but there'll never be two alike. So what!!! The tide keeps doing its job, leaving the details to figure themselves out.

Autum leaves...never got to see them as a child, now I can't stop staring every fall when the trees begin to shine and show off their deeper colors. The beauty doesn't last, and you neve know which trees will be the most spectacular, but each one does its best. And you can be sure that even though the visual glory is fleeting, much hard work is being done within, so that the spring and then another fall will always be on its way--even when winter-bare limbs are all we see for months on end.

And then there's the art I search for everywhere I go. Not nature, you say? All art is derived from the organic, I'd argue. The changing beyond our control, all around us every day, has driven artists to stop and record snapshots of their feelings from the dawn of time. Not that the world won't change a soon as they put pen or paint or notes to paper. But for just one moment, they were moved to show us a glimpse of what we'll never see again, because the moment will always pass, leaving us nothing but memories and the promise of even more splendor to come if we're patient and keep our eyes on the future.

So, what does that have to do with our little world here in blog-land? Well, changes have come and gone, and here we still are...fewer of my friends can leave comments since Blogger changed over to Google...I can't have an address book on my site without being spammed into early dementia...but we're still going strong. There will always be launch parties and giveaways and fun out here, and the website giveaway is going strong...but that doesn't mean we won't have to cotinue to change things up a bit as we go.

So, more details in my upcoming newsletter (have to be in my website adress book to receive it, so if you've never sent me your email addie, be sure to get in touch through my site), but in short--I'll be doing even more to make sure that all my Internet faithful get to share in the fun this month, as we have another launch party.

In addition to the daily blog giveaway the week of the party (mid-April, but I don't have my calendar in front of me, so I can't give you exact dates), I'll be giving away a $5 Borders gift certificate to one friend a day--randomly drawing a name from my address book. And over the next few months, I'll start giving away a $5 certificate a month the same way--a special reward for friends who can't or don't do the blog thing. Of course, the cool prizes will still be plentiful out here, but I don't anyone to feel left out.

So, I'm off to enjoy the last of my vacation, and the amazing way spring is changing the world around me. Look for the newsletter, with dates and more details. Get me your email address if you haven't already. Then we'll hook back up later in the month and have an online blast!!!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Long Way Home

Sorry, folks--been at a conference for a week, and before that, there were all the things that have to be done before leaving for a week-long conference. Feed the plants, water the cats--or whichever way makes since in your world ;o) Volunteer in my son's school, cover things at home while my husband travelled...the list goes on. Blogging was on the list, but...well, let's just say that life decided I wasn't going to be a list person for the last little while...

But fear not...Harlequin's on the ball, so All-American Father will be on the shelves in just a few short weeks, which means we have a launch party to rock!!! I'll be doing at leats one chat and lots more, too. Look for a newsletter later this week with all the details...

And remember my July '06 book, The Prodigal's Return? And remember that I was a double-finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence for it and my other '06 release, The Runaway Daughter? Well, THE PRODIGAL'S RETURN WON!!!! I'm so excited--Gayle Wilson is one of my absolute favorite authors and people...what a great honor.

So, I'm working my way back home and back to the writing part of my job. Will be posting regularly this week as we gear up for our party. Leave comments, and I have one or two more froggies to share with a few lucky friends. Everyone who won a few weeks back should have their prizes by now. Email me if yours hasn't arrived yet.

It's great to be back online. April rules!!!! Let's make the most of it ;o)