Happy Book Birthday to me!

Facebook reminded me that two years ago, Bad Traveler debuted. While it never hit the Bad-Traveler300x450Amazon top 100, I’m amazed how often Bad Traveler appears as a category top 50 seller. I love that readers keep discovering Bad Traveler. Seriously, you readers make me happy.

bookbirthdayswagYou know what else makes me happy? Swag. Who doesn’t love free stuff, especially books, pens, coasters and more? To celebrate my book birthday, I have a Rafflecopter.  My giveaway will include these items, plus whatever else I can fit in the box for domestic shipping (P.S. – this is open to US residents only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to bake a birthday cake. Any suggestions which type?

First Friday Five Lessons from #RWA16

Last month I attended the Romance Writers of America annual conference. Since embarking on my writing career, this is the third time I have been able to attend. The 2016 conference marked my first visit to beautiful San Diego, CA. I wish I could go more often, both to San Diego and to the conference. In the meantime, here are five lessons I learned.

  1. Romance authors are wonderful people. We are smart, funny, hard-working, determined, curious, gracious and generous.

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins

    Fantastic keynote speaker Beverly Jenkins

  2. Always wear comfortable shoes, especially when volunteering as I did during the Readers for Life Literacy Signing. You never know when you will need to race through the building to lend a hand to one of those wonderful authors.

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio

    Helping at Readers for Life: with author Camille Di Maio

  3. Be ready with the one line elevator pitch ANYTIME. I am on cloud 9 that my dream publishing house requested a full manuscript based on a one minute interaction.
  4. Small mental shifts in how one approaches the business of writing can be powerful. Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan shared ways to make promotion a more playful rather than dreaded part of of being an author. When Mary Burton quipped “It’s not concrete, folks, it’s words,” I found the idea liberating.
  5. Last, but not least, I learned I once again picked up too much amazing swag and too many books. This is small sample. RWA16swagThe books are in another room. I can’t keep it all. Over the next few months, I’ll draw names from my newsletter subscribers and send out some goodies. I even have a few things that I can ship overseas. If you aren’t subscribed, sign up here.

Flash #Sale on Bad Traveler

If you haven’t had a chance to pick up Bad Traveler, now is perfect time. Decadent Publishing is having a flash sale this weekend and Bad Traveler is one of five titles just $.99 at Amazon and All Romance Ebooks!

badtravelersale Read what one Amazon 5 star reviewer calls “Just perfect for curling up after a long day to enjoy yourself in a book.”

 

With half the country under a heat advisory, may as well stay inside and read this weekend.

Be sure to check out the other Decadent titles part of this 99 Cent promotion

Island Pleasures by KT Grant

Blue Moon over Bliss Lake by Cate Masters

Burning Love by Cassandra Carr

Cabin Fever by Stephanie Williams

Happy Reading!

Talking with Nancy Holland

Today I have my fellow Midwest Fiction Writer and contemporary romance author Nancy Holland on the blog. Rather than the usual questions, Nancy stopped by to share some of what she learned at the Romance Writers of America conference held earlier this month in beautiful San Diego. Take it away, Nancy

Three Things I Learned at RWA 2016

Thing One — Beverly Jenkins is the best!

I was able to go to two of the talks by romance legend Beverly Jenkins and both were amazing. She spoke at the Golden Network Retreat (GNR) on Wednesday about creating vibrant characters, and the first thing she said was that characters aren’t characters — they’re people. Light bulb! Then she went over a very helpful list of things that make your characters the people they are:  their inner and outer influences, their physical attributes, the things that symbolize their personalities (such as their homes or clothing), and their setting. She also had wise things to say about how plot is what lets your characters discover who they really are. Needless to say, she was also wildly inspiring in the bargain.

Beverly Jenkins also gave the keynote speech at the Thursday lunch, where she talked about the history of romance and specifically the role of African-American authors and stories in that history. Once again she was awesome and inspiring, especially for those of us who follow her on social media and know the challenges she’s faced lately. And the best part was everyone got a free book and cool Beverly Jenkins notepad!

Thing Two — Branding can be fun (no, really)

Damon Suede and Heidi Cullinan also spoke at the TGN Retreat (they did a workshop for the PAN retreat, but I had another obligation at that time). Damon and Heidi walked (well, more trotted) us through some fun exercises to help determine what our brand is and, amazingly, mine was pretty much what I already thought.  They also shared some great information about how to use your brand in promotions and marketing.  I strongly recommend checking out their website, http://www.your-A-game.com.

Courtney Milan and Alisha Rai did a workshop on how to identify the audience for your books, how to use that information in designing covers, etc., and how to connect with your audience on social media. The session was too short to cover everything they wanted to, but they gave a lot of helpful suggestions that dovetailed nicely with what Damon and Heidi had to say. Thanks to these workshops, I may just have this branding thing down. Sort of. Maybe.

Thing Three — Hanging out by the pool is totally part of the conference

Since the AC in the meeting rooms was set on “arctic,” I left one session early to sit out in the sun by the pool. On the way out the door I met an author with a charming British accent, and we fell to talking (as one does). She looked vaguely familiar, but it took a while before we exchanged names. Turns out she was Stella Cameron, one of my late mother’s favorite romantic suspense authors. We had a lovely chat about anything and everything (as one does), including her personalized recommendations of places to stay when my husband and I go to England next year.

The take-away? Always take time to make new friends at RWA — you might meet someone like Stella Cameron or, as two of my fellow Harper Impulse authors did, end up having lunch with the real-life Rita for whom the Rita Awards are named!

***

Found-OSBLola here, hopping in to add that Beverly Jenkins is amazing. She is a master of research and character and hope. Nancy learned some new promo tricks, but in her note above she was too humble to mention her latest book, Found: One Secret Baby which came out days before we left for the conference.

I make no guarantees regarding the cost and how long the discount will last, but I picked up my copy for the unbelievably low cost of $.49.

LA lawyer Rosalie Walker will do whatever it takes to protect her adopted son. She promised his mother before she died that she’d look after him and keep him safe from his paternal family. So when delectable Morgan Danby walks into her office in search of his nephew, she must keep the baby in her care a secret—even if one look from Morgan makes her want to share everything with him…

As a favour to his step-mother— the woman who actually raised him, unlike his real mother who abandoned him as a child—successful businessman, Morgan is searching for the son of his incarcerated step-brother. He can tell Rosalie is hiding something and the temptation to seduce her for her secret is strong, but will he be able to handle the consequences once all is revealed…?

Found: One Secret Baby is available at Amazon and Barnes&Noble 

 

First Friday: Inventions I love

I missed the First Friday in July because I was traveling to Jamaica and there is nothing like travel to make you appreciate the little things in life. Here are five modern inventions I love and don’t want to live without.

  1. Air Conditioning. Pools are a good way to cool off, but air conditioning is better and it doesn’t make your skin all pruney.
  2. Rolling suitcases. Two wheels are good, four are better, especially when they can pivot in any direction.
  3. Sunscreen. Sunburns are painful. Sunscreen lets those of us who’ve been called “Casper the friendly ghost” get outside and enjoy fun activities like ocean kayaking, water slides and a bobsled ride in the rain forest.
  4. WiFi.
  5. I was going to say airplanes, but then a friend shared this post, so number 5 is the Epipen.

sunset photoJamaica was beautiful. Beaches Ocho Rios offered my family delicious food, terrific hospitality and no end of activities. I still haven’t figured out how to upload the underwater photos I took when I went snorkeling for the first time, so this photo of a sunset will have to suffice.

I’m headed off to the Romance Writers of America next week. If you’re in San Diego on Wednesday, July 13th, I hope to see you at the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing. I won’t be signing, but I will be at the check-out so stop by and say hi. I may even have goodies.

 

First Friday 5: #Summer Fun Unplugged

summer is coming

For many of us, summer means vacation and extra family time since the kids are out of school. In my house, this means hanging out with friends and being outside until past sunset. But sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate. For those times we are stuck indoors, we break out the games.  Here are five fun and portable games that are great to play inside or outside, at home, at the cabin or in a hotel.  And yes, these will work for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere too.

  1. Perpetual Commotion. This reminds me of the card game Nertz, which I grew up with, but could never quite explain to my husband and his family. It’s organized chaos. Although the box says ages 12 and up, my 8 yr old loves it. There are even instructions on how to make the game more equitable for younger players. It all makes sense once you’ve seen it in action, so here’s the official video.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88XOzNEfxZI
  2.  Spot It!  We have a lot of Blue Orange games in my house, but none travel more than Spot It.  This matching game has multiple ways to play and many thematic variations (NHL, Frozen, Camping & more). You don’t need much space to play it and the container is pretty small, so we often take it with us when traveling. If you see me on the floor in the airport, stop by, say hi, and I’ll deal you in.
  3. Feed The Kitty by Gamewright – This is a variation of the classic dice game LCR (Left Center Right), but way cuter because you try to get all the mice instead of poker chips. When we travel, we take the dice and mice and leave the bowl at home, but the rest of the time, we use the bowl. Part of our fun comes from making stories about the mice and what they are up to, as well as smack talk.  This is another quick paced game and great for filling in those little gaps of time while you are say, waiting for one person to get ready so you can head out to the park.
  4. Scrabble. Scrabble comes in many forms. We have at least three non-electronic versions, including a travel one that folds up to be the size of a hardback book only much lighter. For my kids, it helps keep them engaged with words and spelling. I get to think about words too, and my husband gets to correct all of our spelling mistakes. In spite of that, we still have fun.
  5. Moose in the House by Gamewright. Because Moose in the House is a card game, it’s portable but you need some space to play. The winner is the one with fewest moose in residence at the end of the game. We love to make bad moose puns and offer up false flattery as to why the moose picked one person’s bathtub over the other. We always end up in giggles, which makes this simple game a winner.
    I’ll save board games for another time, because some of the best don’t fit easily into a suitcase. Since I’m always looking for suggestions, what are your favorite travel games?

Talking with Kristina Knight

Kristina Knight stopped by to tackle the tough questions and share a look at her latest contemporary romance, What the Heiress Wants. Her playlist is perfect reading music.

9781440595776whatheiressWhat inspired you to write What the Heiress Wants?What the Heiress Wants is the second in my Billionaire Cowboys trilogy, and all three books were inspired by Las Vegas. I love Las Vegas, and RadioMan and I try to go every couple of years. I had this idea about three brothers who were gamblers, but not in the casinos…and Jase, Connor and Gage took the books from there.

What types of books do you enjoy reading? What is on your nightstand? – I read all kinds of things. Right now I’ve got Nora Roberts’ Obsession on my nightstand, along with an autobiography of Rick Springfield, and Every Time We Say Goodbye by Liz Flaherty.

Tell me about your favorite place to write.  What makes it special? – I think I’m going to have a new favorite this summer – the swing in our backyard. We just picked it out a couple of weeks ago and I just can’t get enough of it. So me, the iPad and a long afternoon to write sounds heavenly.

Do you listen to music when you write?  If so, what? – I do! And it depends on where I am in the writing process. Drafting calls for light jazz or classical music, after the draft is in I figure out a playlist (they’re usually quite eclectic!) that fits the books – I’ll have songs that remind me of the hero, the heroine, the major story arcs…My playlist for What the Heiress wants had 20 songs and they ranged from 80s hair bands to Dierks Bentley and back around to Smokey Robinson.

Dessert time!  Give me your “either—or” answers

  • Chocolate, fruit or other? – Can I get chocolate with fruit? I could really go for some chocolate covered strawberries right now
  • Warm or cold? – Warm! Flip flop weather for the win!!
  • Buttercream or fondant? – ….hmmm…I’m gonna say neither. Whipped icing is my fave!
  • Cookies or brownies? – brownies, with a little powdered sugar sprinkled over the top
  • With nuts or without? – without. I like my nuts to be solo. And that sounds a little dirtier than I intended. An occupational hazard of writing romance.

9781440595776whatheiress

The Billionaire Cowboys trilogy by best-selling author Kristina Knight continues with What the Heiress Wants.

Denver publishing heiress Miranda Clayton craves more from life than society parties and shopping sprees, but her tycoon father refuses to take her seriously. Her solution? Beat him at his own game by going to work for his top competitor, Connor Reeves, in Las Vegas.

Connor isn’t fooled by Miranda’s new plan for a second. He knows exactly who she is; what he doesn’t know is why she’s pulling him into her games. After their first meeting, Connor knows what he wants – Miranda in his bed! But the more he’s around his new vice president, the more he wants something deeper than a short-term fling. The question is does the lady want Connor – or his business?

 

What the Heiress Wants is available now at Amazon, B&N, iBooks and Crimson Romance

bachelorThe first book in the series, What the Bachelor Gets is on sale the week of May 23rd for less than a dollar.

Once upon a time, Kristina Knight spent her days running from car crash to fire to meetings with local police–no, she wasn’t a troublemaker, she was a journalist. Her career took her all over the United States, writing about everything from a serial killer’s capture to the National Finals Rodeo. Along the way, she found her very own Knight in Shining Cowboy Boots and an abiding love for romance novels. And just like the characters from her favorite books, she’s living her own happily ever after.

Kristina writes sassy contemporary romance novels; her books have appeared on Kindle Best Seller Lists. She loves hearing from readers, so drop her a line!

Author Links:

Website: http://www.kristinaknightauthor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kristinaknightromanceauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/authorkristina

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/authorkristina/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5827833.Kristina_Knight

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+KristinaKnightAuthor/posts

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kristina-Knight/e/B0081LO6DM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

First Friday 5 lessons of #Motherhood

Being a parent has taught me myriad lessons. For one thing, I learned I needed to apologize to my mother as in this post from the past. In honor of Mother’s Day, here are five other lessons motherhood has taught me.

  1. Humility. Kids are terrific at pointing out all your flaws. If I misspeak, I will be corrected. If I come home after a work-out or a long bike ride, my kiddos will point out how bad I stink. If dinner is not delicious and merely okay, I will know. Forget tough to please reviewers, my harshest critics are tied to my daily life.
  2. The mundane can be amazing. I never thought much about drawers until my daughter was 3 months old and I laid her on the bathmat while I got ready for the day. I pulled open the drawer to get out my hair brush. The action was nothing to me until I noticed how big her eyes grew. She had never seen a drawer in motion before and her little mind was blown. Since then, I’ve tried to be more appreciative of small moments. Wonder is a state of mind.
  3. Bananas are tasty. I did not eat them until I had to set a good example to my children.
  4. Listen and ask questions before giving advice. Respect what they have to say, and they will respect what you have to teach them, unless it is a mispronunciation in which case, see #1.
  5. Nothing beats a snuggle and a book. At the end of a long day, I love to sit with each child and talk books. At first, I read picture books, then we moved on to new challenges. My son and I read the classics. He decides if the language is too tricky for him to read half or not. We stop and talk about ideas, word meaning and make predictions. Sometimes my daughter listens in. More often she and I snuggle and she tells me about what she is reading at the moment. Because it’s a comforting ritual for all of us, we turn to it when not feeling well or simply having a rough day. Of course, if you read this, chances are high you are already a book lover and know exactly what I mean.

Summer of Love Book #Giveaway

I had so much fun being part of the Summer of Love Book Giveaway last year, that I’m doing it again this year. 2 grand prize winners will receive 16 paper books! Other winners will receive paper books and there are daily prizes to be had. The contest opened May 1st and closes to entries May 7th and your chances of winning are high. Over 20 authors are participating. For full details and to enter, click the pic!

summeroflove2016

Spotlight on Galen Rose

Today my spotlight shines on Galen Rose and her contemporary romance, A Place to Rest my Heart. For a limited time, you can pick up this delightful book for less than a dollar.

no crimson PTRMH imageSean Muldoon knows trouble when he sees it, and he sees it in Laney Murphy the minute she passes out in his arms. He thinks she’s a con artist, and she thinks he’s just like everyone else, arrogant and judgmental.

Much to Sean’s dismay his family is determined to help Laney and he just doesn’t understand why. That is until he gets to know her and realize under her tough exterior beats a heart of gold.

 

Want a sample before you buy? Read on for an excerpt from Galen Rose’s A Place to Rest my Heart.

“Move, Ace. You’re in my way.”

“Sweetheart, I haven’t even begun to be in your way.” He leaned against the doorway, arms crossed. “I will not allow you to hurt Tommy or Molly, so why don’t you pack up your schemes and dreams and hit the road. You won’t get a penny from them. I’ll see to that.”

I have never been known for having an even temper but I’ve worked hard to keep it under control, but not this time.

“Look, asshole, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. You’re delusional if you think I have any intention of taking a dime from Tommy that I haven’t earned. I pay my way!”

“Sure you do. I ran your fingerprints, darlin’, right off your juice glass from this morning. You’ve got a nice background there, Laney. Pandering? Breaking and entering? Those are great ways to pay your way, huh? You got a scam to bilk Tommy, but you might as well hit the road running, babe,” He smiled, acting quite pleased with himself. “Tommy and Molly all too often fall for the sob story and feel sorry for the strays that come along.”

I felt that to my core. Stray? Felt sorry for me? The last thing I needed was anyone’s pity.

But right at the moment the only thing I felt was the need to strike back at Sean. “Stray, huh? “Weren’t you a stray too? They feel sorry for you then? Take you in on pity?” I saw his jaw tighten and knew I’d scored.

“Leave now and I won’t tell them your plans to take them for a ride,” he growled.

“My plans? You’re so sure about my plans, huh? Wow, you sure are smart, Sean Michael Muldoon. You ran my fingerprints and so now you know my whole life story in one fell swoop? Look, you arrogant ass, you have no idea what my life has been like and a couple of knocks on a police sheet only tells you what your narrow-minded brain wants to hear. But for your parents’ sake, I’ll go and save you the trouble of making a fool out of yourself.”

I tossed the case of champagne at him. He let out a curse, as he lunged to catch the box and I shoved him hard when I went through the doorway. I heard him hit the shelves, rattling bottles and swearing a blue streak. I heard the case of champagne hit the floor with a thud and the sound of breaking glass.

I know I could have done worse and to this day I still have no idea why I didn’t kick him in the nuts, or flat out deck him. I should have done something other than leave. I wanted to do anything other than leave, but I couldn’t bear having to own up to some of the missteps I had made long ago.
A Place to Rest my Heart is available now at Amazon 

About the author: Galen Rose lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is an avid cook, gardener and traveler. Over the years, she has repaired bikes, been a telephone solicitor, a day care aide, managed the order department of a family law publishing firm and for nine years ran her own on-line Celtic jewelry and gifts store. Oh, and you can add in wife and stay-at-home-mom too. A Jill of many trades but not one true color for her parachute, until the day she really sat down to write and kept on writing and hasn’t stopped.