Guest Blog: Robin Kaye

kaye_author-photo-2The book girl is happy to have Robin Kaye guest blogging today. I LOVE both Romeo, Romeo and Too Hot to Handle and cannot wait for Breakfast in Bed. Thank you, Robin!

*******************************************************************************

I’m Robin Kaye and I’m the author of three boos, Too Hot to Handle and Romeo, Romeo are available now and Breakfast in Bed will be released in December.

I’m thrilled with my career and with all the great reviews I’ve been getting about I’ve been getting about both books. It’s really a dream come true, but everything has a down side. For me, it’s gaining weight.

thth-cover-21I love to write and believe me, I feel as if I’ve spent the last few years of my life sitting in front of a computer. When I’m not working, I drive my ballerina daughter an hour and a half each way 4 or 5 days a week to her pre-professional dance school or I do the teaching part of home schooling her so that she can dance 30 hours a week. That doesn’t give me much time for exercise or anything else for that matter. Unfortunately, my lack of movement has had an effect  on my waistline. It also doesn’t help that while Twinkle Toes dance, I sit at my favorite Starbucks writing and drinking soy lattes. I’ve decided to change that – not the soy lattes, just the lack of movement. I need to get off my butt.

I’ve always been a little strange when it comes to how I work. For years, I’ve sat on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair. For me it’s all about not throwing out my back and taking special care of that slightly inflamed vertebra in my neck. It forces me to sit up straight which helps keep my back and neck from getting sore, it allows me to bounce around when I get bored. I’m told that sitting and bouncing helps to strengthen the core muscles – not that I’ve seen any evidence of that personally. But, I have found bouncing can be hazardous to my health if I’m not careful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost lost my balance, and come close to breaking something. For the sake of argument, let’s go with the strengthening of core muscles reason for sitting on an exercise ball instead of the fun of bouncing. It makes me sound so much more enlightened.treaddesk7-2

Last summer I was in the Chicago area, meeting with my publisher and visiting my cousins, one of whom happens to be a leading cardiologist. We were talking about my inability to lose weight and my cousin, the doctor told me about the treadmill desk. What an amazing idea! She said people were actually able to walk and work at the same time. Since people were originally nomadic, we were built to walk 8 to 10 hours a day at a slow pace, now we sit on our butts for 8 to 10 hours a day and then kill ourselves at the gym for an hour a few times a week. She told me that my genes have good memory and that the problem isn’t eating too much, it’s not moving enough. She explained that for people like me, working out for an hour at the gym isn’t going to cut it. Since that’s what I did for a few years, I know this to be true. I decided it made sense and I went out a bought a tread desk.

treaddesk2-2 It’s a treadmill with a platform built around it and the desk legs themselves are hydraulic so they can be raised to walking height or lowered to sitting height with the press of a button. I’ve been walking whenever I’m working at home and I’m able to comfortable walk 1.3 miles per hour while working. I try to get about 4 miles a day in at home before taking off with Twinkle toes. I’d like to say I’ve lost weight, but to tell you the truth, I’ve been too busy to even check the scale. I’ve decided that’s going to change. I’m making my revisions for Breakfast in Bed and once that’s finished, my plan is to see how many miles it takes to write a book. I’m going to keep track of my mileage on the 4th book in my Domestic Gods series and with any luck, lose some weight.

You can follow my journey on my website RobinKayeWrites.com. I think it would be a great way to keep me walking my way toward The End and my goal weight.

***********************************************************************

Thank you, Robin, for sharing with us. I totally want one of those desks! To order Robin’s book click on the following links:

Romeo, Romeo

Too Hot to Handle

Breakfast in Bed

Guest Blog: Laurie Brown

The book girl is excited to have Laurie Brown, the author of What Would Jane Austen Do?, guest blogging today on what it takes to be a writer. Thank you, Laurie, for giving us a peek into what it’s like for you.

*************************************************************

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon and yet here I am inside at my computer as usual. Why? Because weekends and evenings are my writing time. More authors than you might think still work full-time jobs and eke out computer time late at night or early in the morning, and on weekends.

When I first started writing I heard a speech by a multi-published author who asked, “How much do you want to be a writer? Enough to spend hours at the computer when you’re inspired to write? Enough to drive to writer’s meetings in bad weather? Good, you’re on your way.

“Now how much do you want to be a published writer? Are you willing to give up your favorite TV program, dinner with friends, and lazy weekends? Are you willing to ask your family and friends for understanding and help? Are you disciplined enough to write every day, to keep writing until you’ve reached a specific page goal? Even if you’re not feeling particularly inspired? (That’s why they invented re-writing.) Are you willing to stay at your computer even though your back hurts and your computer even though your back hurts and your fingers ache? I wanted it enough to give up Wednesday night bingo, to ask my husband and children to do more chores (and they agreed!), and I gave up Saturday morning coffee and shopping at the mall with friends (really hard to do). I made a writing schedule and I’ve stuck to it to this day. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights I write 3-5 pages. Saturday and Sunday I write 15-20 pages. One weekend off per month which can be split. Saturday last week, Sunday this week. (btw Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.)

When the writing is going well, I’m not even conscious of my fingers moving or words on the screen. The story just seems to flow as the action happens all around me. Eventually, I come back to reality and realize that hours have passed, I’m hungry, and I have to go to the bathroom when I read what I wrote, I don’t remember typing the individual words, and yet the feeling is kinda euphoric. The first time that happened to me, I thought I’d gone off the deep end. Then I found out it has a name, creative flow. Cool. Since that meant I wasn’t crazy, I wanted more. So I keep writing. Unfortunately, I can’t get into flow on a schedule. Writing isn’t always easy and staring at a blank screen is terrifying.

So why do I keep doing it? Because when I see the completed book and actually hold it in my hands, I know it’s worth whatever I had to go through to get there. That’s why so many authors compare writing a book to childbirth. The painful stuff seems to fade from memory as I reward my supportive family with plates of lasagna and other homemade favorites, and celebrate with friends I haven’t seen for awhile.

Okay, I confess I also make a trip to the bookstore to see my new book on the shelf. I still get a thrill from it. In my latest release What Would Jane Austen Do? a modern heroine goes back in time to 1814 to meet the real Jane Austen. Eleanor also attends a ball, prevents a duel, helps solve a mystery for two ghosts, and meets the sexy Regency rake, Lord Shermont.

And last week when I went to the bookstore in the mall with my shopping pals, there it was. On the shelf. My beautiful book. Chills I tell you. Absolutely worth whatever it takes.

Happy Reading,

Laurie Brown

********************************************************************

To find What Would Jane Austen Do? Click on one of the following links!

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Guest Blog: Amelia Grey

amelia-grey-photoJudging a Book By It’s Cover

by Amelia Grey

Was someone talking about covers? Oh, maybe it was me. As a devoted romance reader I freely admit that I have bought romances just because I LOVED the cover. I meant it when I said I was devoted. I know some of you are probably thinking that is silly, but I say, “Just call me Silly, ” because I have done it and will probably do it again. And yes, call me guilty again because I’ve kept books just because I loved the cover. See, I told you I was devoted.

As an author, I have shouted with joy over some of my covers because I’ve thought they were absolutely perfect for the book, and then there have been times I’ve winced in anguish over some of my covers. And guilty again, I have had many bouts of envy as well when I’ve seen covers that I absolutely coveted and wished I had been given. And there have been too many times to count when I have commiserated with author friends who were given covers from hell.

Through the years as a romance reader I have enjoyed the sweet-looking covers of the early Harlequins, the risque, bodice-ripper historical covers, and all the flowers and prop covers that were so popular a few years ago. Call me old fashioned, call me out of touch with the times, but I still love seeing the hero and heroine on the cover of romance books.9781402217678-21

The main focus of covers today seems to be the type of fabulous cover I have for my latest book A Duke To Die For. The kind where you only see half of the hero and heroine’s face! Years ago I thought that kind of cover would never appear on a book. But it has and it works. I think they are not only suggestive but also very intriguing.

But as a devoted romance reader, do I have a favorite cover of all time? All right, I was afraid you were going to ask me that. I could easily come up with a top ten list, but I’ll be kind and only give you two of my favorites. Take a look at Arnette Lamb’s Chieftain and Border Lord. YUM! And who could forget Elizabeth Kary’s inside cover for Love, Honor and Betray? Covers don’t get any hotter than that one. Now, I’d love to hear from some of you as to your favorites.

Guest Blog and Contest with Jeri Smith-Ready

The Making of a Character Quirk

by Jeri Smith-Ready

When we think of “quirky characters,” the first who come to mind are the secondary folks – the heroine’s best friend with a Doritos addiction, or the hero’s uncle who builds a shrine to his old bowling trophies.

The quirky characters are often the best-loved or best-remembered. They provide comic relief. They make the hero or heroine look well-balanced by comparison. They round out the cast and bring color to the created world.

Rarely do the hero or heroine possess many quirks. They’re supposed to be the “normal” ones, after all, the ones the readers can relate to. By definition, a quirk is a trait or idiosyncrasy unique to one person (or at least within that story).

Despite that, I decided to give my vampire hero, Shane McAllister, an odd little quirk. Or rather, an odd big quirk. See, he has a thing about the alphabet.

Wait, let me back up.

There’s an old Eastern European legend that says that vampires are what we would now call obsessive-compulsive. In Poland they used to say that to keep vamps away from your door, you should scatter rice grains on your walkway, and the vampire would stop to count them. (Is that where Jim Henson got his idea for the Count from Sesame Street, or was it just a play on the word “count”? Or both?)

The vampires of Wicked Game and Bad to the Bone are “stuck in time” – culturally and psychologically frozen in the era in which they were made. It makes them great DJs, because who better to deliver the music of a time better than someone who lived in it, who lives in it still?

But they sometimes have trouble living in the current wold, and that tension brings up some, er, odd traits. Each of the vampire DJs manifests a particular compulsive behavior. For Regina, the punk/Goth DJ, it’s counting, and for Shane, it’s sorting. It’s the only way for them to feel sane.

For instance, the moment Shane enters the bedroom of our heroine Ciara, he gets distracted by her out-of-order CDs. He sits on her floor and starts soring them, much to her dismay. But being a relatively young vampire, he retains enough normalcy to know how weird it seems:

(from Wicked Game)

“You think I’m crazy,” he says quietly, not looking at me

“No, I think you’re funny. But honestly, the joke is getting a little old.”

“I don’t blame you for not believing I’m a vampire.” The last word comes out stilted, the way someone might pronounce a foreign phrase. “It sounds insane.”

“Hey, I know: I’ll tie you to my bedpost until sunrise. If you burst into flames, it’ll prove you’re not kidding.”

He jerks his head toward me, and I swear for a moment I see genuine fear. Then he blinks and turns back to the CDs. “Give me a hand here?”

I sigh and slide off the bed. “Sure, what better way to spend a Friday night?”

“There’s four stacks.” He taps each one in turn. “A through G, H through N, O through T, and the rest.”

“Is that a statistical thing based on the probability of band names, so that the piles end up exactly even?”

He looks at me with awe. “No, but that’s a great idea.”

I take a handful and start sorting. “So what system is it? It can’t be the same number of letters, because four doesn’t go evenly into twenty-six.”

He hesitates. “It’s stupid.”

“Tell me.”

“No, you’ll laugh.”

“I promise I won’t.”

HE straightens out the CDs I just tossed onto the H-N pile so that their edges line up. “When I was a kid I had a magnetic play desk, Fisher-Price or some s*** like that. The letters were in four rows, in different colors. I still see the alphabet in my head that way.” He looks at me. “In case you had any doubt I was a freak.”

Later in the scene, Ciara takes things into her own hands.

I lean past him for more CDs. This time I brush against him on purpose, and not just my arm. I risk a glance at his face.

Shane looks at me, then at the CDs, then at me again, and so on. Something’s stuck. I keep watching him. The rhythm of his breath turns uneven.

“Let me help you choose.” I seize his shirt collar and pull him to kiss me.

Our mouths meet, and his shyness dissolves. His arms snap me tights against him like a trap. The combination of his hands, lips, and tongue sends an urgent heat rippling through me, obliterating all thoughts but “must have” and “now.”

So while Shane’s compulsion is pretty powerful, it’s not all-powerful. The struggle between his innate vampire nature and his feeling for Ciara are part of what make him “human,” sympathetic, and three-dimensional (at least I hope he comes across that way). Ciara makes it her personal quest to keep him planted in the present so that he never loses his humanity.

Who are some of your favorite quirky characters in books, TV, and movies? Are they usually supporting characters? What about main characters? Does having a quirk make a character more or less believable?

One lucky commenter will win their choice between a signed copy of Wicked Game and an Advance Review Copy of the sequel, Bad to the Bone (coming May 19).

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you, Jeri, for guest blogging today! The contest will run through Sunday at midnight. The winner will be announced on Monday. (If your comment doesn’t show up immediately don’t worry – I have to approve some and I’ll be on the road till after 4 today)

wicked-gamebad-to-the-bone

Guest Blog:Mary Margret Daughtridge

mary-margret-daughtridge-2Who’s the alpha-ist of them all?

by Mary Margret Daughtride

http://marymargretdaughtridge.com/

I love alpha heroes. Love ’em. Even the ones who make me so mad I want to give them a good, hard thump.

Unfortunately, my heroine of SEALed With a Promise, Emmi Caddington, PhD, has very little use for alpha males. She calls them jocks.

She’s a lowly biology instructor who has to teach the science for non-majors elective, Understanding Ecology. Even though most of her students aren’t there by choice, she tires hard to make it interesting and relevant.

But those jocks. Secure that their place in the universe has guaranteed them the top of the heap, they shove their well-muscled bodies through the classroom door, talking in too-loud voices. They’re oblivious to how they violate other students’ space.They’re not being deliberately rude. They think all the space is theirs – or at least that they get first pick.

First pick of all the girls too. To their way of thinking, a woman who isn’t beautiful is beneath contempt. She’s watched their lips curl with disdain for her plainness and heard the names they call her – while making lewd speculations about her.

They think, having put themselves out to show up, she should be honored that they have added to the luster of her class by attending. And she should show her appreciation by giving them a grade good enough to keep them playingsealed-with-a-promise_ whatever sport is underwriting their education.

As if.

Oh yes, she’s familiar with jocks.

True, Chief Petty Officer Caleb Dulaude isn’t a college athlete, he’s a member of a military unit with an animal name. But really. Miami Dolphins, Navy SEALs – what’s the difference? She knows the type. All of a sudden he’s turned on the charm? Hah! She’s learned the best way to deal with them is to let them know she’s in charge, and never give them an inch.

I think Emmie is a little harsh in her judgment, but her experience is limited – she’s basing her opinion of alphas on eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds.

But there’s no doubt that, despite being born to win, an alpha male has some serious shortcomings. An alpha’s greatest strength is his rock-steady self-assurance. Fundamentally believing only his opinion matters can also be his greatest weakness. Alphas can end up emotionally marooned, never realizing that they are alone in their world until it’s too late.

Emmie’s not completely wrong. SEALs are alpha males with remarkable athletic ability. What Emmie hasn’t reckoned with is that a jock with SEAL training becomes something else.

SEAL training is the ultimate school of hard knocks. Recruits are stripped of any belief that they are cock of the walk, and the world is their oyster. Everyday is hard, and there are no starts. SEAL training is so harsh partly because while ratcheting alpha traits like competitiveness and aggressiveness to the nth degree, the recruit is also being forced to learn to cooperate. Cooperation is not natural to an alpha and it doesn’t come easy.

SEALs must work together, so their training pounds in the notion that all must pay the price for anyone’s failure. Any carelessness or inattention that causes another’s injury is severely punished. They must learn to be aware of the other men and to care for their well-being as they do their own.

They wouldn’t put it this way but I’m going to: They’re not allowed to kill each other; their nature won’t let them submit; so there’s nothing left to do but love each other.

A SEAL can some on as the most alpha guy you ever saw. Every natural alpha quality has been honed to the nth degree and the biggest alpha weakness has been somewhat neutralized. He has become a sort of super-alpha.

He is smart. He is driven to accomplish his objective and nothing will stop him. He has sublime self-assurance, and he doesn’t think “the rules” apply to him. He can be extremely irritating – which, of course, he doesn’t care if he is. But he’s also able to listen. He can be tender, caring and sensitive.

That’s Caleb, all right. It’s true Emmie might never have appeared on Caleb’s radar if he hadn’t seen a way the extremely well-connected academic could help him get inside the perimeter of Senator Teague Calhoun – with whom Caleb has an old score to settle.

But he’s not planning to do her any harm. To his way of thinking, he’ll probably do her some good. No woman who dresses as she does is likely to be getting much masculine attention. She is on his radar now, and that means he responsible for her.

Emmie thinks she understands the kind of man he is. There’s only one problem. He keeps taking care of her. And listening to her. And treating her with respect. And making her life easier. To her, it’s all very confusing.

There are all kinds of alphas. Which ones make you mad? Which ones are irresistible to you?

Guest Blog: Cheryl Brooks!

author-photo1-2

Today we are lucky to have Cheryl Brooks guest blogging at the book girl! I am in love with her Cat Star Chronicles books, every time I read one it becomes my new favorite book. There is something about the way Ms. Brooks writes that captures my whole attention and doesn’t let go. I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Ms. Brooks for the guest blog and the wonderful books!

————————————————————————————————————————

What draws a reader to a specific book? The cover may catch your eye, but is it enough to hook you? Do you look for a specific author, or do you read the blurb on the back? Do you look for traditional romance, or paranormals? Historical, or contemporary?

I’ve been reading romance novels since I was ten years old and have always been an avid Regency fan. I’ve read every Georgette Heyer in print—many of them multiple times. I’ve read contemporaries and westerns, some chaste and some erotic, but the one thing I never found in my younger days was a science fiction romance.

That was a very long time ago. There are more of them now, and, I’m happy to say, at least three of them are mine. When the first of my Cat Star Chronicles series, Slave, was released, I’m sure a lot of people picked it up because of the cover. Some probably bought it not realizing what it was, and some liked it and some didn’t, but whatever your opinion, you can’t say it’s the same old romance novel.

The series follows the lives of six Zetithian men who were captured and sold into slavery at the end of the war that destroyed their planet. My most recent release, Rogue, continues the story begun by Slave and Warrior, and is the tale of two Zetithian brothers, Trag and Tychar. They have been the pampered pets of a Darconian queen for the past twenty years, and though their lives haven’t been hard, being the lone humanoid males on a planet populated by lizards hasn’t allowed them much in the way of sexual gratification. However, the progressive Queen Scalia has hired a human female, Kyra Aramis, to give piano lessons to her daughter.

Alone on a world filled with intelligent, but fearsome dinosaurs, Kyra is understandably nervous, and the discovery that she is not the only humanoid on the planet offers only a brief comfort. Tychar is assigned to be Kyra’s personal attendant, and though he and Trag are both irresistible, there are two of them, and worst of all, they are slaves to the Queen who has no intention of selling them. Just when things get interesting, rumors of unrest begin flying, and the peaceful planet of Darconia undergoes a major political upheaval, with the offworlders caught in the middle.

In the previous books in this series, Slave and Warrior, the heroes had both endured a life of harsh slavery. However, in Rogue, I took a different tack, giving them to an owner who not only treated them well, but cherished them for their beauty and individuality. The two brothers are similar in appearance, but Tychar is a charming rogue, brought up on his homeworld of Zetith, while his brother, Trag, is a restless renegade who was raised offworld by his uncle, the captain of a space freighter. I wanted to explore the different personalities in an effort to demonstrate that while all Zetithian males exude sexuality, there are still differences, and even when two of them are hers frogueor the taking, a girl can still make a choice.

Just as my heroes are different, so are my heroines. In Slave, Jacinth was a tough, savvy space trader who was never at a loss in difficult situations. Warrior’s heroine, Tisana, was a powerful witch with a sharp tongue and a dry wit. Kyra is a bit more timid, and the fact that she has decided to take a teaching post on a distant world surprises her friends and family alike. However, like all good heroines, she gets the chance to grow in strength as a person and as a woman in love.

What makes this genre so enjoyable is that there are no limits to where my imagination can go. I like fascinating new worlds, adorably sexy heroes, strong heroines, and supporting characters that are grumpy, funny, or just plain weird, so if you’re looking for something different, come on along. I’ll take you places you’ve never even dreamed of.