Tag Archives: Book Talk

Guest Author & A Giveaway: Vivian Arend

Hello again, friends! Can you believe it’s November already? O_o I can’t really… and yet here it is, with another monthly “Guest Author & A Giveaway” feature! As you can see, this month’s special guest is Vivian Arend! She’s here sharing a fun post about writerly stuff and her journey, and sharing a bit about her new books!

Also-  because of this post… well you know I normally don’t interject in posts – but I couldn’t resist here!

Writing has been a whirlwind for me. Since the first day until now when I think of writing I think of three main things.

1) Friends.

I started writing on a dare. Well, not true. I started because I had a friend who had challenged herself to participate in the Nanowrimo event—30 days to write 50K words [National Novel Writing Month]—and she’d decided she needed backup. She enticed me with the idea of weekly get-togethers with the rest of the crazies in our area who were trying it, Location? The local coffee shop that had the best treats and coffee anywhere. SOLD! I, of course, said I would love to hold her hand (drink coffee) and encourage her (eat brownies) in her adventure (not take care of my children for a few hours).

So for a month I wallowed in supporting and giving to my buddy. And a strange thing happened. I wrote not only on the weekends, but during the week. I started to enjoy visiting with these characters, and by the time the month was over, I had not only finished the book while encouraging my friend to do the same, I’d fallen in love with writing.

After that start, the friends continued. As critique partners, as cheer leaders as I submitted and sold more stories. All through the excitement, my writing world has been filled with friends.

2) Learning

The learning curve on any new job can be a bitch (can I say that word here?) [isn’t she so cute for asking, you guys? ;-)] And even though I was having fun (see point #3) this was a new job for me. I was spending hours a day writing. And then promoting. Researching, and filling in forms. OH THE FORMS!!! For a person who had never held a 9-5 before, this was craziness to the nth degree, and I loved every minute of it. Every time I turned around there was something new to learn. Setting up an Amazon author page. Making a book trailer. Sending in an ad for a print book. Planning and revising and edits…oh, funny story.

I had never used track changes before I got my first set of edits from my Samhain editor of awesomeness, Anne Scott. She explained that I had to leave it on and do XYZ…and I learned. Well, we were on our 11th book together before she realized that I didn’t know about the ‘next’ button to FIND the additions/comments she’d made. I was scrolling through by hand. Yeah, two years after starting I finally got that step right. And THEN, I did edits with a different editor at Samhain, and Jennifer asked me why I wasn’t accepting the inserts she’d done, like the million commas that I seem to miss every story. OH! There’s a button for me to do that as well? Yeah, I’m still learning…

3) Fun

The bottom line is that entire trip has been a trip. From me deciding spur of the moment to write a book for the anthology call at Samhain, having no idea what a cover letter should look like, to seeing the first cover art. To attending my first conference and having someone (OH LORDY, I LOVE YOU, WOMAN) say- “Yeah, Vivian. I know you! You wrote that book about the deaf werewolf!”

Heart stopping, cheek to cheek grinning fun. Writing great lines in a book. Opening the box of author copies of my first print book…I can go on and on and on. Because that’s what ends up motivating me. The letter from a reader who said I made them laugh out loud. The fellow author who blows me kisses on twitter. My daughter announcing she’s proud of me. (Thanks darling, and no, you still can’t read my books.)


So here I come to the point of having published over 20 books. This month my sixteenth ebook with Samhain releases—and it’s a special special occasion for all those three reasons all over again.

Rocky Mountain Heat was written with the help and encouragement of friends. It was friends/readers who liked it enough the first time out of the chute that I approached Samhain to see if they’d like to take over the series. I had to learn about reversion of rights, and removing books from sales sites. I had to figure out how to revise and expand a book by over 20K words and still keep the flow and the feel. And I had fun while I was doing it.

That’s how it should be. How I hope it always will be.

Vivian Arend: Website | Blog | Twitter

Release information for the upcoming SIX PACK RANCH books
Book 1: Rocky Mountain Heat: November 15.
Book 2: Rocky Mountain Haven: January 10, 2012
Book 3: Rocky Mountain Desire: March 13, 2012


Rocky Mountain Heat
Six Pack Ranch, Book 1

He’s the one who taught her to ride. Now all he wants is to ride her.

Blake Coleman is old enough to know that acting on impulse causes nothing but a heap of trouble. But when trouble’s a western-hat-wearing blonde with slim legs that go on forever, what’s a man to do? Wanting the sweet girl next door is just wrong. The responsible thing to do is keep his hands off.

Jaxi has other plans for Blake’s hands, and his heart. She may have once considered him a big brother, but that was a long time ago. She’s all grown up now and ready to convince him that she’s perfect for him. Except he can’t seem to see past the big “don’t touch” sign that’s apparently still hanging around her neck.

When Jaxi ends up living right under Blake’s nose, the undeniable heat between them slides off simmer and leaps up to barn-burning levels. However, a few of the younger six-pack Colemans have decided Jaxi’s brand of trouble is worth risking a few busted bones.

That is, if Blake’s finally ready to let go the reins and fight for what he wants…

Warning: Sexy cowboys seducing and being seduced in trucks, pool halls and barns. Droolworthy country charm, a little double-teaming, a few secrets and a whole lot of brothers to look forward to. Anyone wanna go for a ride?

First Chapter: Excerpt

What’d you think? Have you ever read anything by Ms. Arend before? Are you an author? If not, would you ever consider being one? Are you trying now? Got any questions for Vivian Arend? What do you think the “author journey” would be like?

And of course, as it’s the monthly feature, there’s a giveaway. Vivian Arend is crazy generous and is giving away four books today. Three e-books (electronic), and one print copy of Turn It On. Winner’s choice of Ms. Arend’s backlist for the ebooks. So – let me know if you want to be in the drawing for the print book, or one of the ebooks when you answer the questions. 😀 Winners will be drawn on Saturday.


Remember when I gave y’all dangerous free reign to ask me anything? I’m actually a bit surprised, and grateful at the same time. 😉 Nobody asked me anything scandalous or embarrassing. Whew!

Well, this time I used randomizer.org*, and the winners of that giveaway are Liz and JoAnne! Liz – please send me your email, and we’ll work out an ebook for you to get. JoAnne, you are to email me your address please so your prize is sent out to you. Isn’t that fortuitous? It worked out perfectly for two winners and two formats! You can use the form at the top of the blog, and please do get back to me by Thursday, October 27 at the latest. Thanks!

Now – curiosity again re: the ARCs etc – what genre do you like? And… who would be able to commit to writing a review? I don’t think I’ll do a mass effort – at least not at this point – but I could very well likely hook up at least a few people with various books…

*With the randomizer.org thing … everyone who commented on that post left something of substance or was interactive, so I was more than happy to leave it to the internet gods of random. However, I definitely reserve the right to only consider/draw names from people who leave “real” comments now and in the future. Just an FYI – I’ve mentioned/imposed it as of a week or two ago. 🙂 [Not that most of you who are reading this will even have to “worry” about that. Just… venting my spleen a bit I suppose.]

National Make a Difference Day!

That’s today! So… I guess I started my “making a difference” thing a bit early. 😉 Otherwise? Today? I puttered around with my dad. Does keeping family peace etc count as doing good/making a difference? 😉 Maybe not doing that would’ve made a bad difference…

I can’t promise I’ll stop harping on issues… but do let me know if it ever gets annoying or I should slow it down a bit. Apparently I’ve already offended some people… so… whatever. Can’t win ’em all, of course, but I never want to be a nuisance, you know?

My Sadeyes don’t have a game today – it’s our bye week so I’m not glued to the tv. Did a lot of cooking – maybe I’ll share the recipe for one or two. Do you guys like sweet/savory food? I actually don’t, which made today interesting…

How’s everyone doing? Did you know it was Make a Difference Day here in the States? Did you do anything to help make a difference?

And! What books are all of you looking forward to? I want to know – would any of you ever be interested in writing a review for me if you got an ARC of a book? Of course it’d have to be reviewed in a timely manner… but hey – you’d get an ARC! I’d love to know if this is something I should consider pursuing. Thanks!

Special Guest: Eli!

Today, we have the super sweet Eli guesting with us! If you visit Ali’s blog ever, you might have seen some posts from Eli. They’re cousins – I got to meet Eli (through Ali) at RomCon in 2010. She’s here talking … what else – books! And she’s offering up a gift card to one lucky commenter, so please, make her feel welcome!

First off, I’d like to thank Limecello for inviting me to be a guest on her blog!  It’s been a while since I’ve even blogged or wrote anything, so bear with me, lol.  I’ll try my best not to ramble on and on and get to out of subject.
 So recently, I’ve been in a big reading slump.  I haven’t been able to read much of anything because when I have tried, I usually end up falling asleep or I just cannot concentrate.  Sure I get some reading done, but nowhere what I’d like to (it’s usually just a couple pages at a time).   Even though I have tried and tried, I still continue to read the same way, even if I know I’m still in my slump.
Whenever I get ready to read I always make sure of two things.  One is that I’m comfortable, which usually is either in my bed or on the sofa, and two I make sure that there is no noise.  To me, noise is only a distraction and I’m easily distracted.  It’s almost impossible for me to pay attention to what I’m reading even if it’s just music that is in the background.  Also it helps if I’m alone…  although it’s not a requirement.    Unless it’s in a library, I find it very hard to read in public places.  One exception would be actually being able to read at Starbucks.  I know that Starbucks can be loud with all the people in there and all the music and can be super distracting but I don’t know what it is. Maybe is the smell of coffee in there that soothes and drowns out all the activity that happens in there,  lol.    Recently I’ve thought about changing it up.  Instead of reading in the confines of my room in my very comfortable bed or in my very comfy sofa, I want to read in a less comfortable place.  Ohhh…  and I have notice though, that in the restroom I am able to read bit more.  Too bad I can’t just stay in the restroom for hours at a time, lol.  Well I probably could…. Hehe.
So do how do you read?  I know some people that just have to have a glass of wine while they read or they c an only read right before going to bed.  It’s interesting to think that people have their preferences; meanwhile you have others that just don’t care.  They can read wherever and whenever, lol.  I really wish I was one of those people! 🙂
If you comment below by answering the question “How do you read,” you will be entered for a chance to win a book from the Book Depository of your choice (up to a $10 value).   And yes, this is open to our International friends.  🙂

Reading, Category Romances, and Chatter

I need to start taking notes or drafting posts before they go live. Obviously I’m pre? post? scheduling this; as in, putting the publishing time as something earlier than when I physically typed it up. Ah, the magic of the internet.

I actually had some substantial things to discuss today, and had wanted to write a review. But I’m not in a review-writing mindset. I have however, actually been reading. You have no idea how exciting this is! I’ve read at least 52 books this year! Pathetic when compared to my “post slump” reading, but… I’m excited! October especially has been kind. I raved about a Helen Brooks category romance I read online, and have been glomming her back list since.

I’m a category romance reader. I always have been, and I see nothing wrong with it. I know a number of other discriminating and well-respected (as well as well-known) romance readers who enjoy them as well. I also know that category romances are looked down upon. The whole “yes, I read romances, but at least I don’t read those romances. You know, the trashy Harlequin ones.” I’m quite fond of the Desire, Blaze, and Presents line. Helen Brooks in fact writes for the Presents line and I think she’s fast becoming one of my favorite category authors. She’s up there in the ranks of Anne McAllister, and India Grey.

What’ve I been reading? A Boss in a Million. The Billionaire’s Marriage Mission. The Parisian Playboy. The Italian Tycoon’s Bride. And I’ve started The Greek Tycoon’s Bride but set it aside to mix things up a bit. No, I don’t love the titles. In fact that’s one thing I often rail against. The covers… on that I’m torn. They’re so clinch. A bit hokey, but so branded. In a way you have to respect that, even as you groan looking through them.

You can have too much of a good thing, though, because after reading four+ books by the same author in a row… you notice things. Of course, I don’t mind many of the tropes. But, the heroes just seem so very even keel to me. So actually, after I read A Boss in a Million I actually read two novels by Anya Bast back to back. Jeweled and Jaded. Both are most excellent. (Pst, Jeweled is only $6 right now – go buy it!) Lately, I read a few Jasmine Haynes shorts. I’m… going to be less effusive about those books, sadly. I’m disappointed as well. I did like her newest full length novel more, but but I’m wondering where the “series” is going. (The first is Past Midnight – I do plan on reviewing it… but we know how that goes.)

I’m contemplating jumping back into more novels, but then again I’m just not sure. I’ve always taken to watching psychological thrillers again, obviously because I hate myself… and even some horrors. Nothing too too bad, but the whole “American Horror Story” ads got my attention. And I don’t even watch horrors! I’m a total pansy. Can’t read them either. I think because I keep thinking “the makers of Glee made this show too! What?!”

I love category romances though because they pack such a punch. They seem to get shorter and shorter (though hopefully that’s changing? At least in some of the lines?) – but you know there’s going to be a happy ending. The heroes are tycoons and otherwise incredibly, intimidatingly successful. But what I love, is that the Presents titles that I read, at least, have equally impressive women. They might not have the power jobs and shatter glass ceilings, but they’re kind, generous, resourceful, smart, practical, and bring these men to their knees. There’s something powerful about that too.

And the emotional aspect of a couple working though a myriad of issues to form a lasting bond and relationship. I like that the category romance puts that at the forefront. It’s a romance, straight up, end of story.


So what do you love about reading romances? Have you found what I’m talking about in category romances? Ever give one a try? Believe me – I’m picky about what books I read. I wouldn’t say “oh just jump in” for any of the lines. In fact I have strong opinions of where to start and what to read. I’m always happy to discuss and offer opinions. (You’re not surprised, she said dryly.) In fact I can happily recommend any of the Helen Brooks titles I mentioned.

And, if you love category romances, or would like to give one a try, remember to enter the Olivia Gates giveaway where you can win the backlist book of your choice. *NB I’m done with the contest whore-type answer. I want substance, so to enter you must answer my questions. I know, I’m such a picky bitch.

Megan Hart and Olivia Gates? Winner(s)? Giveaways?

Well, anyway, yes, both Megan Hart and Olivia Gates have and are doing giveaways at my blog. And um, they both write for Harlequin?

So remember Megan’s guest post and silly interview from Tuesday? Her winner is June M.! June, please email me by Thursday October 13 (using the contact form above) with your address so we can get you your prize!

Now? A massive giveaway from the fabulous Olivia Gates! I have thirteen of her books to give away! Originally it was the winner’s choice of her back list. That might still be the case, but I don’t want to presume. Olivia will clarify – she’s totally swamped right now – her computer died and she lost everything on it, poor thing. There are thirteen books up to grab, because thirteen of these people didn’t claim their prizes. Olivia being the amazingly kind and generous person she is said she still wants to give them away, so all of you have the chance to benefit!

So – thirteen winners is a big deal, yeah? Consequently I have to ask something good. How about… in all seriousness – do you read category romances? Why or why not? And if yes, which line(s) do you like most and who are your favorite authors? If no… what romance tropes are your favorites?

Heh. I was tempted to make you all tell me how smart and pretty I am. 😛 But you know… liars go to hell and all, so … :X can’t have that on my conscience.

Anyway, ready, set, GO! (Oh, and if anything changes – or if I have anything to clarify with Olivia’s giveaway I’ll write it in the comments.)

*ETA: It’ll depend on responses etc, number, content, all that good stuff. I can give away 13 of Olivia Gates’s books now… or hold on to them. Or make this contest go on longer. We’ll see. That’s the lovely thing about having my own blog. I can’t win anything… but I do at least get to set the rules. 🙂

Sandi’s Post: Slumps?

I wonder how many people out there have suffered from the dreaded reading slump.  I know it’s not something that readers like to think about let alone even encounter!  I have been in a reading slump that has come and gone all of 2011.

I recently suffered some computer issues that unfortunately made me lose my list of reads for 2011, but I promise it wasn’t a long list!  I know that there were some excellent reads on it because I read all of the new Virgin River Series books by Robyn Carr, and all of the new Chesapeake Shores books from Sherryl Woods.   I’m also sure that there was a book or two that I didn’t enjoy as much, but without the actual list I have no memory!

Fortunately August brought me a slew of great reading, and I think I can say I’m out of the slump, and won’t be going back.  However, I do know that one should never say never!

Now, I wonder how many of you actually suffer from a reading slump periodically.  What do you do to get yourself through the worst of it?  How often might you find yourself in a slump?

Super Awesome Special Guest: SHANNON MCKENNA!

Uh… so you can tell I’m kinda excited about this, yes? I had the chance to meet Shannon this past June in NYC and it was definitely a highlight of my trip. When I found out she was going to be there, and Joy had her on our schedule, and then found out I’d be arriving later and would miss her I sent Joy numerous emails in all caps with lots of punctuation asking for a re-schedule. Which actually didn’t work out either because of the hotel+NYPD fiasco… but everything else and goodness prevailed because we got to hang out with her twice. Whee!

On Blood and Fire

Hello, and thank you so much, Lime, for inviting me onto your site to hold forth about my book!

I’m so excited about this one. It’s very dear to my heart, since it was a book that took me completely by surprise. Bruno just sprang out of nowhere in the first chapter of Fade to Midnight. At first, I didn’t consider him as a hero. He didn’t behave like a classic McKenna hero. He talked too much, he was too bouncy, he was a clown, he was hot tempered, on a hair- trigger, etc. etc. The kind of guy who would be a good foil for a studly and stoic McKenna hero. Like, say, Kev.

But when I was done with Kev’s book, and everything was all sewed up, Bruno swaggered on up, and cockily demanded his own story. He was cute enough for hero material, he assured me. He had the muscles, the dimples, the brains, the charisma, the sexual ability. He could kick ass as well as any flipping McCloud. Hell, he was a direct descendant of one of the biggest Italian mafia crime clans on the eastern seaboard, even though he was raised by tight-assed old Uncle Tony, who went straight decades before. Bruno wanted to flatten his own bad guys, damn it. He wanted to prove himself. He wanted his own sexy heroine, his own happily ever after.

Give it to me now. That’s what he said. He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. And Blood and Fire came into being.

I’m only half kidding. I am grateful to be bullied by my characters about all the gritty details, the timelines, the plot points. It’s that much less agonizing decision making that I have to engage in! Bruno made the hard decisions before I even started writing. All I had to do was take what he gave me, and build a book with it.

The heart of the story is a memory of Bruno’s recounted in Fade to Midnight. Bruno is in the hospital, staring down at Kev’s unconscious body. He remembers when he was twelve, right after he’d come to live with gruff old Uncle Tony at the diner in Portland, right after his mother’s violent death at the hands of her boyfriend Rudy, the ruthless mafia goon. Rudy and two of his thugs had come to the diner while Bruno was there with Kev, ostensibly to kidnap and silence Bruno before he could testify at Rudy’s trial. But when Bruno is attacked, the speechless and brain damaged and apparently harmless Kev suddenly transformed into a crazy fighting machine. He flattens the three bad guys in seconds, whap, bam, saving Bruno’s life, and earning his devotion forever. And then there was that bit about Rudy ripping Bruno’s mother’s gold necklace, his last keepsake of her, off his throat. What was that about? I didn’t have a clue. I just wrote the thing. Whatever.

I almost cut that scene, because I was so shockingly over word count at the time for Fade to Midnight. It was fully twice as long as the manuscript was supposed to be. I was madly cutting everything that did not obviously advance the plot. And this did not. It revealed character, of course, but not a principle character. It was advancing the plot of another book! Bruno’s book!

That was the seed that took root and grew into Bruno’s story. It went all these crazy places that I never expected before it was through. To the end of writing it, I continued to be surprised as  hell by the things that were happening. It was fun. When it wasn’t hell on earth. Oh, shut up, Shannon. I promised myself I would not whine about how hard and scary writing is. Nobody wants to hear it. Besides, I did this to myself, by deciding not to become a librarian or a computer programmer or a teacher. I made my bed, now I’ll just type in it.

Another good thing about Blood and Fire is that it gave me an opportunity to finish something important that I had begun in Fade to Midnight–the reunion of Kev with is long-lost brothers. A scene fraught with danger. All that pent up emotion, grief and anger and guilt. A minefield, and in FADE TO MIDNIGHT, there was no time or space to either let the bombs explode or carefully defuse them, one by one. The characters were too busy getting blown up and shot at and torched and shot up with needles full of junk or assailed by mind-controlling zombie masters. Stuff like that. No down time for involved, emotionally charged conversations, explanations, ‘issues.’ It was very painful, leaving those beloved McCloud boys like that, all in limbo with each other, still as tense and confused as hell and tied in knots by their unresolved feelings. I considered writing the scene that would resolve it, and then I abandoned the idea. Too easy, I thought. Too soon. Not those guys. They’re not like that. They’re armored with titanium, emotionally speaking. They’re rigidly controlled, they’re tragically, terminally macho. I make no apologies for them. They’re just plain difficult. Ask any of their heroines. Raised and homeschooled in the deep wilderness by a paranoid schizophrenic nutcase survivalist sniper whose mottos were “lack of vigilance will get you killed” and “do the hard thing.” That big tender moment was just going to have to wait. I wouldn’t write it until I felt it. Because I know these guys.

But I cannot even tell you how much flak I caught for that decision! Most of the readers who reviewed or wrote me were just perplexed and disappointed that I left those big issues unresolved, but many others were genuinely angry and felt cheated. I felt bad that they felt bad, but I also chose to take the intensity as a kind of back-handed compliment (might as well, don’t you think?) If a reader cares enough to actually get mad at me for not doing right by a character that she cares about, a character who she believes deserves better, then I am definitely doing something right. Not everything, maybe . . . but something!

But I will announce to you right now that in Blood and Fire, they get their moment! And it is so quintessentially McCloud. Right down to the pouring rain, the open grave, the mud, the ice, the moldering skeletons . . . and I’ll stop it right now. Don’t want to spoil.

So to all of you who were left feeling unsatisfied, it was not for lack of caring about the characters on my part! Far from it. It’s because I care too much to railroad them into something important before it could happen naturally, in a way that I could believe in.

I really get excited when the story jerks me around and has its way with me—is that kinky? Should I worry? Oh, never mind. Forget I asked.

Anyhow, I’m blathering on, because Lime indulgently did not impose a word count, which is a dangerous thing to do with me! So I’ll close this with another resounding “thank you” to Lime for sharing space on her lovely blog for my rambling discourse, and to any of you who are kind enough to read this. I hope you enjoy Blood and Fire if it finds its way into your hands.

Happy reading to all this fall—I hope everyone gets lucky with lots of delicious books, and I wish you all scads of the endless enjoyments and riches that only books can bring.

Because Shannon lives overseas, shipping would be a nightmare – but don’t you worry! I’ve coordinated with the terrific Kensington offices, and we’re going to have three lucky winners! Up for grabs are two copies of Fade to Midnight and one lucky person will get the upcoming release Blood and Fire. Let me tell you, I’m crazy jealous. I didn’t get a Blood and Fire ARC in NYC. And I didn’t bother hunting one down because I only read digitally now, but if I had gotten on there I could have gotten it signed! By Shannon! Ahhh. Anyway, Blood and Fire will be out and about on September 27, 2011. You needed to know that. [Oh and yes I know other than the first two the book covers aren’t at all in order of publication. But that’s how I wanted them.]

Random Guest: Ashley March

Today we have author Ashley March sharing a fun post with us. She’s got it all covered, so there’s no real other introduction for me to make. 🙂

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Read My New Book

The truth is, we’ve all seen this type of blog post done by romance authors before. It’s the reverse psychology gimmick turned cute to try to convince you that you really DO want to buy and read my new book. I would hope you wouldn’t I would stoop to such a level. But if I were REALLY trying to trick you into buying my new Victorian historical, Romancing the Countess, I would at least attempt to butter you up first before playing the gimmick card.

I might show you cute pictures of my daughters to make you feel sympathetic toward me. Like these.

You might want to buy my book afterward, if not because they’re so darn cute, then because you feel bad for me when the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and the toddler starts getting up at the ungodly hour of four o’clock each morning. You might think that reading Romancing the Countess would make me happy. And you’d be right. 😉

Or, you might be like my fellow author Tiffany Reisz and be frightened of children. If that’s the case, then I would offer you a picture of Richard Armitage because, if you’ve seen BBC’s North and South, you’ve already got the hots for him and you’d be forever grateful to me for perking up your day with RA.


And if you haven’t seen North and South, then I would probably try to gain your favor instead by showing you a picture of Gerard Butler (yes, I’m a historical romance writer with novels set in England. I have a thing for British guys, and you should, too).


Once I buttered you up with the proposed pictures, THEN I would roll out the gimmick, such as the following five reasons why you shouldn’t read my new book, Romancing the Countess:

5) You only like to read romances where the hero and heroine fall instantly in love or lust. Romances where the hero and heroine instead fall in love gradually over the course of the novel and build a deep and lasting relationship just aren’t your thing.

4) If a romance novel features a hero and/or heroine who’s had a spouse in the past, then you only like it when the hero and/or heroine didn’t like their spouse. Or the previous spouse was abusive. Or it turns out that the hero and/or heroine thought they loved their spouses but then realize later on that they were just in lust. If that’s true, then you don’t want to read Romancing the Countess, because both the hero and the heroine truly did love their spouses.

3) You think death is too serious a topic for a romance novel. Well, Romancing the Countess is about an earl and his best friend’s wife who are drawn together after their spouses—who were having an affair—died in a carriage accident. Yup, they died. The book has death in it. Of course, it also has love and some really hot sexual tension, but if the topic of death—and yes, adultery, too—bothers you, then you might want to skip over this book.

2) You don’t like getting emotionally connected to the hero and heroine. You don’t like angsty books. You don’t like that feeling of your chest compressing so tightly that your heart physically HURTS for the hero and heroine because it makes you uncomfortable. And when you get uncomfortable, you reach for the antacids. And a lot of antacids taken over a short period of time can get expensive. Well, maybe not that expensive, but please be warned that if you do decide to read Romancing the Countess, there’s a possibility that you might hurt for the hero and heroine. And there’s even a possibility that you might cry.

1) And the number one reason? Well, to be honest I could give you probably twenty more reasons for why you shouldn’t buy this book if I were going to pull such a gimmick. But instead I’m going to give you the one that I know would keep me from buying Romancing the Countess. When you have a mountain of books in your TBR pile, it’s difficult to take a chance on a new author, and yes, this is only my second romance novel. Even more than that, who’s ever heard of a widow and widower getting together after the deaths of their cheating spouses? It’s just not done—it doesn’t fit into any single romance trope I can think of. So if you don’t like taking chances on fairly new authors and you also don’t like trying out romances that have never been done before, then this book definitely isn’t one you want to read.

Now, if I were to continue such a gimmick and try to actually get you to read Romancing the Countess, I would tell you that you can read the first chapter excerpt on my website here and see if it intrigues or disgusts you: www.ashleymarch.com/romancing-the-countess.

But instead, because I’ve still retained quite a bit of dignity after changing countless dirty diapers over the past two years, I’m not going to pull this gimmick. Instead, I’m going to tell you about something I started earlier this week on my website. It’s a fun new reader-interactive experiment where readers get to help me write a novella. Over the next 10 weeks, you can vote for how you want each chapter to develop, and then get to read the chapter based upon your vote the following week. At the end of the experiment (which hopefully you’ll will find as much fun as I believe it will be!), I plan to edit the novella and self-publish it. The idea behind this is for it to act as a preface to a new project of mine I plan to start in 2012 called Romance with Heart.

So even if you don’t read Romancing the Countess because you don’t want to be immersed in a terrific love story 😉 I hope you’ll still join me for my reader-interactive novella experiment.

And now I’d love to hear what you really do think! Is there anything mentioned above that would make you not want to buy a similar romance novel? What hot buttons do you have that would make you absolutely refuse to buy a certain book?

One random commenter will win a copy of Romancing the Countess (open internationally)! Which I hope you truly do enjoy. Also, find out how to win the Romancing the Countess Book Tour Grand Prize of 50+ romance novels by visiting www.ashleymarch.com! 

*Ashley had me [sadly] remove the images of Richard Armitage, and Gerard Butler, because she discovered she was hotlinking them, and had no other ones. Anyone else, feel free to step up here. 😉

Guest Author & A Giveaway: Larissa Ione

Today we have one of my most favorite people visiting with us – Larissa Ione! I think Larissa is all kinds of awesome, but shh – don’t tell her. It’ll go to her head. And then she’ll be all mean and insulting. 😀 Actually, no, Larissa is super nice and has a great sense of humor. You might have noticed we totally like needling each other as well. Between the two of us, it actually is joking and friendly. The fact that we can do that only makes her more fun. >.> Maybe. I keep forgetting I shouldn’t be nice to her. 😛

Larissa is also swamped so instead of her coming up with a creative post to entertain all of you, she opted for the interview feature in my GA&AG series. More fool her. 😉

Which “place” would you most like to go to? Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, Africa, or South America? Why? Ooh, tough one! I’d love to visit pretty much any of them, but ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and China would be my first choices. If I have to pick just one…Egypt, I guess. Or Greece. Gah…I don’t know! I’ve been to Greece and absolutely fell in love with it. Egypt would be fascinating, though. Okay, let’s go with Greece. Because it’s gorgeous, I love the food, and the ancient architecture is amazing. I’d love to see it when it was new.

Which fairy tale would you most like to be in? Least? Why? Which character would you want to be? (You can change the tale if you want… if so, how?) Um…I guess Little Red Riding Hood. I’d be the wolf. A werewolf. Who eats bad guys. I have no doubt grandma was a bad guy…

Did you ever imagine your stuffed animals might come to life as a child? Or that they had their own adventures? Can’t say that I did. I grew up on a farm, so I had lots and lots and LOTS of real animals to play and go on adventures with. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was writing about animals having adventures!

Who is your favorite artist? [painter/scuptor, singer/composer, dancer/choreographer?] George Strait. I love almost everything he does. Plus, he’s just a good guy.

What was your favorite book as a child? The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste is on your bathroom counter right now? I have a Sonicare electric toothbrush and Crest cinnamon toothpaste. I hate mint, so I always go for the other flavors. LOVE cinnamon.

What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you in school? What about your adult life? I honestly can’t narrow any of this down. I have done so many stupid things in my life, and for some reason, stupid things just happen to me even when I don’t do them, that there have been a lot of embarrassing moments. In my adult life, a big one sticks out, though — I was 21, standing in line to get into a nightclub, and my drunk friend fell. As she was falling, she grabbed my dress — which was strapless. She tugged it down to my waist…and naturally, I wasn’t wearing a bra. Yeah…that was a bit humiliating.

If you had to become a bear, which type would you choose? Gummy. (OMG hahah I love that answer!) What? Not an option? Fine then…grizzly. If you’re going to be a bear, might as well go big!

What would you put in your ideal candy bar? What’s your favorite candy bar in existence? Along those lines, what’s your favorite dessert? What about the *best* dessert you’ve ever had? My ideal candy bar would be milk chocolate with caramel and marshmallow inside. YUM. Love marshmallow and caramel. I’d say my favorite candy bars are probably Marathon bars (just chocolate and caramel,) and when I’m in the mood Reece’s Peanut Butter cups. They used to have my VERY fave…Reece’s PB cups with caramel. OMG, I loved those. I think they stopped making them because I can’t find them anymore. Favorite dessert? Honestly, I’m not a dessert person. Okay, I love cupcakes, but for the most part, desserts just don’t get me going. I have to really be in the right mood. I will say that when that mood strikes, I LOVE Edwards Key Lime Pie. Holy cow, that’s the best key lime pie ever. So rich and creamy…insanely good for a store-bought frozen pie! (I asked Larissa what her favorite/ideal snack would be then since she’s not so into sweets… and she said something with cheese. Melted cheese. Fitting considering where she lives…)

What is the super power you would most like to have? Least like to have? I think I’d like to fly. Would be cool to get around easily and fast. What would I least like to have? X-ray vision. Because seriously, when would you use it, unless you were a doctor or something?

Would you shave your head for $50,000.00? If yes, would you do it for a lesser amount/what’s your minimum? If no, how much would it take for you to go bald? And then… would you do anything with your hair? I’d do it for 50K. Minimum would probably be 10K. I’d give my hair to charity, though I think it’s too short for the requirements.

Who do you think would be the ultimate deadliest warrior match up? Godzilla vs. Gamera! Oh, wait…that’s been done. I dunno, but I’m seriously looking forward to the episode of zombies vs. vampires!!!

What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?  I write romance…but I hate weddings. Seriously. They make no sense to me. All that stress, and then spending all that money…mostly on other people. I’d rather spend it on a luxury honeymoon. One of my characters in the Lords of Deliverance series, Regan, has my same attitude about them. 🙂

What’s your favorite word in the English language? What about your favorite word in any language? Amok! I love amok. Amok, amok, amok! Favorite word in any language? Whatever that language’s word for cheese is!

If you could wake up and become a world class athlete in any sport tomorrow, which would you choose and why? Well, I’m really not a sports person. At all. I LOVE the winter Olympics, but that’s about as sporty as a I get. And the one competitive sport I’d like to do — horse jumping — well, the horse is really the athlete, you know? Though I wouldn’t mind being a world class martial artist. Yeah, let’s go with that! (I have to admit, Larissa in a MMA match is definitely something I’d pay to see…)

Larissa’s giving away a tote bag & swag – so what crazy questions do you want to ask her? I say we open it up to anything, but of course questions about her books are welcome too! So get to commenting!