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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Prizes for Everyone!!! Or at least until I run out ;o)

See, there's this thing about getting organized and caught up... The Universe has a way of saying, "Oh Yeah????"

GRW (Georgia Romance Writers) and family have been my reality the last week or so. Both very important to me, even if I miss my blogging. Even if I have to put equally important things on hold. Balance... I'm learning the healing reality of it, and how little a writer gets of it by default. You have to create your own.

So, I've gone back to my yoga and pilates, and we've bought a new bed (heaven), and I'm caught up on the tons of things I've had to put off for so long, and my son's finished with his first year of middle school (complete with a spot on the District Honor Band, achademic awards, four honors classed lined up for next year, and a true passion for tennis that will see him through three back-to-back camps this summer). A school year well lived, and one of my proudest accomplishments--that my son's happy and balanced in his own intelligence and creativity. They're our future, our children. Our legacy. I'm grateful that my son's a daily gift to remind me of that promise.

And I've just returned from a Memorial Day weekend emersed in Native American culture (part of my heritage)--and I've fallen in love wint Zuni fetish carvings (small masterpieces carved from gems and precisous stone by Zuni artisans) and the work of a Zuni jewelry artist, Effie Calavaza (http://www.taostrading.com/eshox_pages/effie.html). Seems snake medicine is what I find myself drawn to, and this great lady is the best of the best at creating and healing through her art. I hope to meet her some day. I've included a few pics of her work to give you a little taste...

It was a magical weekend of drum music and native singing and dancing. I bought a wooden flute with the perfect earthy tone, and met some wonderfully inspiring artists. The festival is a "pow wow" I've attended before, and there are several more throughout the year. I won't miss a single one. And I really need to delve into my family history and figure out my Cherokee roots. But that's for another day.

I've been remiss in prizes, and that can go on no longer ;o) So, in addition to the prizes in the last post, pictures of the rest of my Snow White treasures follow. I'll give them all way to commenters by the end of the week--so speak up!--while we celebrate the success of Mother's of the Year--and my "Snow White" themed novella, Baby Steps.

In the mean time:

Snow White and Grumpy go to...Travelor, who posted at 3:14 in the May 13th post.

And the green Grumpy T-shirt...to Annie, who posted at 3:58 in the May 8th post.

Did anyone catch the Mothers and Daughters article in this month's Romantic Times? I received a call from an editor at RT a few months back, who'd heard about my foster care story and was intrigued. Baby Steps was spotlighted prominantly, and the message I hope every reader takes away that motherhood is about giving and caring and loving unconditionally, and helping a child find his own confidence and purpose in life... I've had wonderful feedback on it. The unexpected blessings are the best, don't you think?

Remind me to tell you about my LifeTime TV interview next, 'kay ;o) Oh, and to give you another excerpt of Weekend Meltdown...

Until then, enjoy drooling over more Snow White prizes, chatting about the spritual zaniness of yours truly ;o), and looking forward to my To Protect the Child Blog release party which will begin on June 17th!!!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Winter Meltdown Excerpt and another Hunky Guy Pic

Hope everyone had a GREAT Mother's Day.

We disappeared up into the mountains, slept in a B&B beside a water fall (it was a working Grist Mill), and hung out all day Sunday (my husband, son and I), being a family in the sunshine and fresh air (and of course the flea markets and antique places along the way ;o) It was heaven. Perfect!!

Then we came back and celebrated my husband's birthday yesterday. And my son winning awards at his 6th Grade Honors ceremony. Let me just say, I'm such a proud mommy.

As promised, I'm including a excerpt of my VERY early Winter Meltdown draft (just received revision notes from my New York editors), to tease you ;o) You're going to love this one, my friends--due on shelves next January! Let me know what you think of this tiny taste, LOL!

Also, check out what another gifted artist I've also gotten to know through the Romantic Times conference, Maida Reyes from Crossing Realms, (http://crossingrealms.com/) did turning one of Steve's and my late-night shots into a sample book cover.

Don't she and Rose (http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?
) make a great team! And of course, Steve ( http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=301715902 ).

The Crossing Realms site is under reconstruction, so keep checking back to see more of her Maida's fabulous work. She's a true talent, and as she comes up with more samples from my little experimental walk through the publishing world beyond writing my books, I'll be sure to share!

You can check back to the May 5th post (http://annadestefano.blogspot.com/2008/05/gorgeous-gus-gorgeous-guys-everyone.html ) and see how much work was done on ME (my jeans and T-shirt are gone, I have makeup on now, and it's not so obvious that I work out 4 or 5 times a week, LOL!), and how amazing Steve looked right from the start ;o)

So, just one more glimpse for my faithful readers into the work that goes into getting our books and covers out on the shelves for you to enjoy. Without all these creative artists making us visually appealing and relevant, no one would pick up our books. Maida, Rose and Steve--you rock!!!

Enjoy the Winter Meltdown draft excerpt--more to come ;o).

Remember, all comments go in the running for Snow White and Grumpy and the Grumpy T-shirt giveaway. New prizes with the next post, too, and we'll keep it going through the end of the month. If you haven't bought your copy of Mothers of the Year yet, it's still available in some stores and on Amazon (see the link to the right) and eHarlequin.com. I'm hearing RAVES from readers--it'll make you laugh and cry!!!

Then, keep an eye out for my To Protect the Child release party in June!!!

Winter Meltdown

"Chloe played with Prada. That's a fierce outfit you're almost wearing. Very, Shut your mouth, I'm not and uptight lawyer freaked out about being the main draw at the party of the season!"

"It's not a party," Felicia Gallo corrected her best friend, over the rim of the champagne flute Willard had kept filled with Cristal during their winding drive from the airport. "It's a—"

"It's a freaking dream weekend, girlfriend." His discriminating eye catalogued one of the many designer outfits her last-minute shopping spree had produced. "And you're going to take advantage of every second of it."

"What do you care?"

Felicia hadn't cuddled up with champagne in ages. When would she have found the time? She'd forgotten the warm, golden glow of it. The expensive bubbles that effervesced into her thoughts, making it more trouble than it was worth to obsess too much about anything.

"As long as you get to swap lip gloss secrets with Maddy Lov," she snarked, "you'll be the talk of every Diva in Manhattan."

"You're the only diva I care about this weekend, my dear." Willard caught her tugging at the fur-trimmed neckline of the purple snow suit that fit her like a second skin. His eye-roll of frustration admonished some of the champagne's golden magic. "You agreed to take some chances again. Let me catch you slinking back into your shell, and mama's going to slap your hand—or some other part of your anatomy."

The threat came with an affectionate wink.

Felicia laughed.

Laughing with Willard always called to the creative, exuberant parts of her. The parts she covered up with Channel suits and St. John dresses, even though she secretly loved Cloe and Roberto Cavalli.

Willard was tall and pretty-boy-meets-gym thin. An outlandish risk-taker in both business and expressing his personal style. Unabashed about relishing the success he'd willed into reality. Midwest born and bred, he owned three of the top restaurants in New York. He traded on his connections to power players from industries as varied as entertainment and sports, as a child swapped baseball cards. Effortless should have been Willard's drag name—then again, his current moniker, Vivid, wasn't far off the mark.

"To fun." She raised her glass in a toast that the wine kept her from questioning.

"To my goddess friend embracing her fabulous self." Willard clinked and drank. "And, to you propositioning the first gorgeous hunk of man you see."

She sputtered at the challenging arch of his eyebrow.

"No more dares." She sighed when Willard emptied the rest of the bottle into her class. "Dares and booze are what got me into this mess in the first place."

Her gay husband, as Felicia's friends affectionately referred to Willard, chucked her under the chin with his forefinger.

"You're confusing being drunk," he said, "with hiding behind your brains and daddy's legal empire for five years."

"Six." She stared at her empty glass.

Six years already?

"That's right. The asshole with the teeny, tiny penis was your big mistake of 2003."

"And 2002. And 2001." She raised her champagne flute in an empty salute to Phillip Rhalston Bowen IV, a man of sizable ego and ambition. And equally sizable genitalia, no matter the rationalizations she'd needed to survive their breakup. "Hell, we'll just call him my big mistake of the millennium."

"Nonsense." Willard popped the cork on more Cristal and poured for both of them. "You have much better mistakes in you. This weekend for instance. You agreed—"

"No holding back," she recited. "I know."

The mantra had been her talisman for weeks. Without it, she'd have called off the first vacation she'd planned since nixing her engagement to the asshole with the teeny, tiny penis. It had gotten her and all her new clothes into her father's Towncar and to the airport. Then on the plane, when she'd almost bailed on Willard in the Crown Room.

Too bad it wasn't silencing the second-guessing now.

"Hiding's not for you, darling," Willard insisted. "What a waste of that mind and refined sass of yours."

"You couldn't care less about my sass. If it weren't for Maddy Lov, you—"

"Hiding's beneath you." Willard's glibness evaporated. He set his drink aside. "It's definitely beneath me, and we're supposed to be attached at the hip for this romantic getaway in the snow. It's time to live the exciting, lust-filled life a successful woman like you deserves—and a successful man like me."

"And what kind of woman would that be?"



Stylishly unapproachable? A force to be reckoned with in the boardroom? Or lonely as hell—every night she crawled into her king sized bed alone, aching for a man's hardness next to her?
Willard took her glass.

"A woman who should be blasting out of her comfort zone," he said. "Not tiptoeing around inside it, following all your stupid rules and locking your heart away. Screw how badly no-nads took you for granted. "

Felicia watched the Colorado scenery whiz by. The complimentary limo that had retrieved them from the airport had been steadily climbing toward the their resort ski destination ever since. The quiet, isolating snow that covered the world outside her window called to Felicia, not the excitement that supposedly lay ahead.

Had Phillip simply been taking her for granted, when she'd caught him sampling the leggy brunette who manned the coat check at Willard's East Village Italian trattoria, Viva!? Or had Felicia just not been enough to keep his attention?

You're a tiger in the boardroom, Fe, he'd said. But sometimes a man needs more...

"Kick that shell to the curb this weekend, gorgeous." Willard motioned over her shoulder. They were pulling up to Winter Pass Lodge. "Remember, you're going after the first hunk you set eyes on. I'll accept nothing less from you than a total weekend meltdown..."

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Free Online Story, Winner, More Giveaways, Snow White and Grumpy!!!

I know, That's too much for a blog post title--but for those just cruising by, I didn't want you to miss out on anything. So, stop and hang for a few minutes while I take us through it.

I WAS going to excerpt Baby Steps some today (my novella in Mothers of the Year, out now from Superromance), but... It's I have something better to share, and if you go to my website (annawrites.com) and scroll down just a smidge and click Read an Excerpt below the Mothers of the Year cover, the first chapter's there for you.

In it's place out here, click on this link


to access "The Sheriff's Wife" -- a FREE Daily Read I did for Harlequin when my first "Daughter" book came out in 2004. The sheriff/hero in this twenty-segment online short story is a minor character in The Unknown Daughter, and he has a critical role in the last of that series, The Perfect Daughter (the entire out-of-print Daughter series is avialable via Amazon's used bookstore network, if you want to check it out). I'm soooo excited they have it up on eHarlequin again!!!

Also, if you're into the newer technology, in addition to each of my Superromances now being avialable in ebook format (Kindle, from Amazon, and also on eHarlequin--(http://ebooks.eharlequin.com/5D72FABA-85AC-4975-B89C-73065EB2BB2D/10/126/en/SearchResultsImprint.htm?SearchID=9747261&SortBy=date), in
2003 I participated in something called a Writing Round Robin contest Harlequin used to sponser. I didn't realize they were making these avaialable electronically, too, but I just found the one I "won" a chapter for. check it out:


Even if you don't partake of the electronic medium, you have to admit this is pretty cool ;o)

My randomly-drawn Snow White winner from the May 1st through May 5th post comments??? Jennifer Yates, who commented at 3:45 for the May the May 1st post. Keep leaving comments--I'll draw again, and the more times you name's in there the better chance you have to win. Two prizes up for grabs this time:

One randomly-drawn commenter for this or my next post will receive a plush set of Snow White AND Grumpy ;o)

Another... This great XL Grumpy T-shirt!!!

Okay, one final pic of Steve and Me... One of my favorites, because it looks like I might actually be posing for a yummy book cover (except what's going on with my hair, and my manly yoga hands and forearm...relax your hand, Anna!!!).

Thanks to everyone who commented on the last post, where I exposed just how little I know about what I was doing ;o) Someone mentioned actually interviewing Stelve--I think that's a GREAT idea! Maybe I could do a series of interviews with some of the great guys I've met in the business.

So, there 'tis. More stuff than one blog entry (certainly on title) should hold, but I'm a busy girl. We're all busy. No one has time to waste spreading content out, right?

Come back tomorrow--I'll give you a tasty, hot bite of my Winter Meltdown (the hot, hot, hot novella I'm writing for a Harlequin Single Title anthology release due to land in stores in Jan.). Plus, more RT photos (of model and author friends I met there). More winners... More prizes...

Now go read that free online story, if you didn't when it came out years ago...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Gorgeous gus, Gorgeous Guys, Everyone LOVES Gorgeous guys...

I know you've been waiting for more pics from the Romantic Times conference. Manly, gorgeous guy pics like this

and this.

But I did one better this year, than just buying a great new digital camera that was so tiny I could take it with me everwhere... I conducted a little modelling experiment, because I wanted to know what these amazing men's lives were really like at one of these reader events. How hard could it be, right, to smile and have your picture taken... Kind of like, how hard could it be to write one of those romance novels... Yeah... Let's just say it was an eye-opening experience ;o)

First, let me introduce my partner's in crime. Really good friends.

First the photographer who agreed to snap another photo session, in the midst of a week of non-stop work for her. Rose, the "R" in A&R photography (her partner's her sexy husband Anthony ;o), who's responsible for such fabulous pics as this one of the 2008 Mr. Romance Winner, Chrish Winters!

Check Rose and Anthony out at: http://www.myspace.com/a_n_r_photography !!!

Chris is a great guy--one of the contestants I posed with in last year's contest. But, since he was so busy becoming this year's Mr. Romance (yay, Chris!!!), I was lucky that there was another friend to step and take his place.

A friend like Steve Rossi:


I got to know Steve last year, when we realized our birthdays were close together--after talking for hours and wondering why it felt so natural. He's a successful business man, a wonderful friend, and takes pictures that should be all over book covers (rest assured, I'll be sharing that sentiment and Rose's pictures with some Harlequin/Silhouette editors I know well!).

So, that brings us up to speed with the final night of RT. Where everyone was exhausted (especially the people in the photoshoot) but still willing to give my little experiment a go. After all, how hard could it be???

Well first of all, some people (Steve) are blessed with bone structure that comes across like visual gold through the lense of a camera, while others (me) have the kind of moble features they can't control, resutling in something close to a perpetual grimace instead of the hundreds of other more appealing expressions that are available. That's right, yours truly seemed incapable of smiling...I couldn't remember how to smil! Shine the camera on me for anything but a candid, and I freeze.

It wasn't like public speaking (duh!) or even posing with the guys in last year's Mr. Romance Contest. All that was about motion, and I had something to wrap my head around besides the fact that my picture was being taking. Somewhere for my thoughts to go. I mean, I knew I didn't like to have my picture taken. Not really. But this was Rose. Steve. Great people doing everything they could to help me relax my mouth, my hands, my eyes...anything.

And that's when I got it, after looking at one digital proof after another. How much WORK goes into understanding your angles, and how your features look in each expression. And how much imagination it takes to fall in to a photographer's instructions and act like you're not posing at all.

I mean, look at Steve. He believes every pose he's making. He's coaching me and trying to put me at ease and work with Rose, even though the both of them were as tired as I was (and, btw, I have no makeup on in these photos...not that Steve does, either, but could I be any paler???). We changed locations eventually and got away from the crowd milling around outside the ballroom and the last night's dancing and revelling. And in a quite corner, with my other friend Patrice Michelle cheering me on, I finally started to let go of my ego and anxiety and just trust the process. Actually, the poses got easier, too, because Rose and Steve finally got the positions and proportions working better with my limitations as a VERY novice model (and when I say model, what I mean is hahahahaha).

Getting my body involved (leaning against a wall, one leg up and braced, my back arched), was challenging after a few minutes (or five or ten), and I hold yoga poses like nobody's business! And I didn't want to ruin the frame or disappoint Rose or Steve. Of course all that emotion went to work on the last of my energy reserves and made things even harder...

Models are masters of their bodies, not just how their bodies come across on film. The poses are often awkward-feeling, even though they're perfect for the lense, and when the photographer says, "hold that"...you hold...even if you don't think you can any longer. Notice, class, that Steve's body and face and features (and especially his eyes and that wicked-looking mouth) are always spot on in every shot. I learned as time went on, and he was still coaching to the very last photo, but just before every shutter snap, he turned back into a model and knew exactly what he was doing with his amazong assets ;o)

Did I mention the imagination he and Rose put into every frame... I love me some of that! Like I said, models and photographers are masters of their imagiantions, or they'd never be able to tell a story with their faces and body positioning and lighting and camera angles. And Rose and Steve are two of the bests around!

It was amazing to see Steve turn it on and off. He was my buddy one minute, laughing and trying to get me to losen up... and a H-O-T cover model the next... Always encouraging and supportive. Never frustrated with the novice. But never out of his element or off his game. Maybe if I did this for the next four years (about how long I've been writing fiction professionally), I might figure it out. But, then we'd always come back to genetics. And what can I say. Look at his cheekbones and his jawline and everything else about that amazing face and body and creative mind... The next time you're at one of these events, ladies, respect these guys while you're drooling over them. They're working harder than you know!

Me learning to relax and pose aside, it's crystal clear who belongs on the book covers and whose job it should be to write the stories inside ;o)

And getting back the photographer. No one could be more supportive or talanted than Rose. Just look at what she finally got out of me--and, no, I never figured out how to smile right, but Rose knew how to work aroud that. Don't forget, this was late the last night of the conference, after she'd spent the day shooting real models for her business? You go, girl. It's definitely clear who belongs behind the camera shooting hunky guys like Steve!!! She tells her own story, doesn't she ladies, one we'd all kill to be part of!

So, I learned that I dont' know how to smile on cue;o) And that my anxiety in front of the camera comes across crystal clear. I learned to trust my partner and photographer, and finally to fall into the shots (a little, at least) the way I fall into my characters when I write. I mean, who wouldn't smile in Steve's arms. Really!!! What was I thinking!

What do you think of my little experiment?

Remember, I'll be drawing for our first Snow White winner soon. Leave a comment (scroll back to the previous post for details). And come back next time for more great RT shots and an excerpt from Baby Steps (my Mother's of the Year novella). The excerpts are up on my website (annawrites.com) for those of you who can't wait, but I'll include some of the good stuff out here, have no dobut ;o)

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Snow White and Grumpy Giveaways!!!

You've heard so much about my novella, Baby Steps, right? Well, it's on shelves now as part of Superromances Mother's of the Year anthology. Do you remember me crowing about it when I was writing the little gem? I'll excerpt it over the next few days (and maybe even give you a peak at my single title anthology that's coming out in January).

But first, Snow White and Grumpy...one of my favorite fairytale paradyms...how Grumpy's not bad, he's just misunderstood and needs unconditional love (enter Snow White) to find his true heart. And how a reborn Grumpy is the dwarf that leads the charge against the witch at the fairytale's black moment, then leads the prince back to give our heroine true love's waking kiss...

Sigh... it was so much fun to write a contemporary version for Mother's Day. My story is about foster care and what a true mother is and how helping somone else through their troubles can lead you to your own light. And of course about true love ;o)

To celebrate, I went to the local Disney Store Outlet (you heard me right...there's an outlet near me!!!) and cleaned them out of Snow White and Grumpy Goodies I'll be giving away to blog commenters (I'll randomly draw names, same as I do during my blog parties, since I wasn't able to hostess one this time around) and to friends who attend my May 17th signing after GRW's chapter meeting (another drawing).

My first giveaway, of course, has to be Snow White herself ;o) I have some Grumpies, too, for later, and her horse from the movie. Alas, they didn't have the prince to add to the collection, but I did score some T-shirts, so stay tuned. Keep leaving comments, I'll pick a winner every other post from all who've left a comment since the last drawing (including everyone who's already commented in the last week).

Brenda Novak's auction is going gangbusters already. Here's my page again--


One of my favorite items that's still a steal is this Isabella Fiore leather clutch--in black florettes. Yep. those are leather medallions and flowers stitched to a bag that will go as great for evening as it does with jeans and your favorite strappy heels. It's a classic.

Head over and bid on mine or any of the other great items folks have donated. It's a GREAT cause. Those of us with blood sugar issues thank you ;o)

As for my new blog/website giveaway...here's a sneak peek for all my buddies out here. I'll be drawing July 31st for this beauty, after both my April/May and June/July releases are out. Then will have another to drawing for a different purse in October, to cap off my September release excitement.

Guess what I found at my Saks outlet (yes, I live near some AMAZING outlet stores ;o).


I can't believe they had this cute mini purse on super-super sale!!! But it'll belong to one of my blog faithful soon, so I'm most grateful...

I'll have the website contest page updated soon, but you get first dibs, so comment away, my friends. The more you chatter with one another, the better your chances to win the random drawing ;o)

Later, 'taters!

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Winners, Winners, Everyone LOVES Winners

Okay, a brief newsletter's going out later today, sending everyone here to see

This--My April/May anthology release with Lori Handeland and Rebecca Winters, Mother's of the Year, which is still on shelves--this is my Snow White and Grumpy story, guys!!! Baby Steps. I'm so thrilled with the way it turned out ;o) I'm already getting great feedback, and we received 4 1/2 stars from RT:

"This trio of charming stories...is heartwarming and well written. All three authors are masters of their craft..."

You can still find it in stores and on Amazon at:


And This--My June release--Book II in Atlanta Heroes--To Protect the Child, which I promoted like the dickens at the Romantic Times conference (more pics of hunky guys to come ;o) and just received a 4 1/2 stars Top Pick from Romantic Times:

"...a nonstop thriller full of action and excitement. Alexa and Robert's relationshop is hot... Readers won't want to put this one down."

You can pre-order it on Amazon (already selling like hotcakes out there) at :


Or, if you can't wait 'til June, you can buy it now on eHarlequin.com, at


Eharlequin's spotlighting it as part of a special "hero" promotion, too:


Then there are my purse winner...from last Summer (one more chance for that winner to claim his prize). I never heard from Jack M.!!! Or maybe he emailed, and I my spam filter lost it in the midst of the last six months of writing instanity, lol! Anyway, Jack... I'm dying to send this Signature Suede Coach Tote your (and your lovely wife's) way!

And my blog purse winner from last Winter (finally announcing her, so I can do new prizes ;o) -- Pat L., who posted on October 1st!!! Congrats!!! This amazing designer Isabella Fiore bag is yours!!!

Email me guys at anna(at)annawrites.com (replace the (at) with "@").

Of course that means we need a new blog prize for commenters to win...

I'll be updating my website contest page (http://annawrites.com/contests.shtml) later today, so stay tuned...

Also, even though I was too busy for a Mothers of the Year release party, you know come June I'll be there partying for To Protect the Child!!! I'll have the dates up soon!

Until then, speaking of Coach and Isabella Fiore (my new favorite purse designer), May first is the official beginning of Brenda Novak's online auction (http://brendanovak.auctionanything.com/) .

My page:


is full of amazing things I hope everyone heads over and bids on.

Things like this...an Isabella Fiore wallet that's to-die for... Isn't the seahourse the cutest thing you've ever seen???

and this.... A Coach double-handled fabric with leather trim travel comsmetic tote...

There's so much more I'll be spotlighting out here this month...And, yes, of course I saved some goodies to give away just to blog visitors!

So, until tomorrow, here's a pic of yours truely with hunky Romantic Times Mr. Romance '06 to hold you over, once you're done drooling over all the great books and bags, LOL!

Thanks for coming back out to join the fun,


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