I have an agent!

Back in 2005, I sent my first agent query. Fast forward through hundreds of rejections and with book project #9, I finally landed an agent with my query for CHOIRBOYS otherwise known as #kinkyvirgin hero on twitter and facebook.

I’m delighted to announce that I signed with Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.

And hopefully, I’ll have more big things to announce SOON!

Hot Summer Romance Giveaway Hop: The Power of Epilogues

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Today I’m participating in the Hot Summer Romance Giveaway Hop with a whole host of other awesome writers. The grand prizes for the hop are a KINDLE FIRE and a $50 gift card! Each stop is also offering its own prize as well. (More on mine in a minute!)

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If you talk to romance readers long enough, you will discover two camps: pro and anti-epilogue. I am decidedly pro-epilogue. I like any glimpse at what happens after the happily-ever-after. In fact, I can tell how high up on my keeper shelf a book is by how much time I’ve spent imagining what happened AFTER the HEA moment. When characters feel so real, it’s easy to get lost in day dreams about babies and birthdays and new houses and jobs and family problems. It’s hard to say goodbye to beloved characters.

I also think it’s really easy to idealize the falling in love part–it’s what we see on the page over and over again, the hard work of getting to that HEA moment. Everything that comes after that HEA moment in the final chapter is supposed to be a reward.

Except when it isn’t. Real life doesn’t work like that. The HEA moment is really just the beginning. And that’s what’s always intrigued me the most about beloved fictional characters–imagining how their marriage would thrive no matter what. I don’t just daydream about babies who never cry and houses staffed by nannies and chefs with money trees in the front yard. No, I daydream about how characters deal with miscarriages and job crises and deaths of parents and major illness. I want to believe that my keeper-shelf couples can survive threats that de-rail other marriages.

In other words, I want to believe that a given couple can do the work of keeping their HEA going. When I saw that my editors at Ellora’s Cave were looking for more stories featuring married couples, I jumped at the chance because it was almost like getting to a write an epilogue. I asked myself, “What if a couple already had their HEA moment? Lust at first sight, dating fumbles, white dress, little house? How does that couple react when they realize that they’ve been taking their HEA a little bit for granted?”

And the result was Move Me–newly released from Ellora’s Cave

moveme_msr

Mark and Jill Evans have an enviable marriage—great kids, nice house and a loving relationship. But lately, Jill can’t escape the feeling that things have gotten a bit stale. Mark’s been working long hours and she misses the days when their bed was used for more than folding laundry.

When Mark reveals that he’s landed a big new client—and a chance to move the family to France for a year—Jill objects and sparks a passionate stand-off. Mark proposes a sexy bet to settle their disagreement about moving, and his wife can’t wait for the games to begin. The battleground is the bedroom, and it’s a no-holds-barred war to see who moves first.

 

Add to Goodreads Buy on AmazonBuy on ARe Buy on Ellora's CaveBuy for Nook

Each stop in the Giveaway hop will be handing out prizes, and since my new release Move Me is currently out on both Kindle and All Romance E-Books, I’ll gift TWO copies–just make sure you include an email in your comment and include your preferred format (Kindle or ARe). The hop ends on the 21st and I’ll pick winners then!

Are you pro-epilogue? Anti-epilogue? What fictional couple’s HEA would you most like to see more of? (I have wasted many a pleasant hour coming up with epilogues in my head for all of Suzanne Brockmann’s books!)

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

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Move Me is Out Now!

moveme_msrMy married couple erotic romance Move Me is out now!
Add to Goodreads Buy on AmazonBuy on ARe Buy on Ellora's CaveBuy for Nook
And it’s already gotten a great review from Books, Books, and More Books!

You can read a Chapter One excerpt here.

Move Me has a release date!

Yay! After a long wait, I’m so excited to share with you the cover for my next Ellora’s Cave release, Move MeI’m returning to Ashbury, this time for a story featuring Jill Evans, the best friend of Bree from Return to SenderMove Me will release July 10, but you can add it to your Goodreads to-read list now!

moveme_msrMark and Jill Evans have an enviable marriage—great kids, nice house and a loving relationship. But lately, Jill can’t escape the feeling that things have gotten a bit stale. Mark’s been working long hours and she misses the days when their bed was used for more than folding laundry.

When Mark reveals that he’s landed a big new client—and a chance to move the family to France for a year—Jill objects and sparks a passionate stand-off. Mark proposes a sexy bet to settle their disagreement about moving, and his wife can’t wait for the games to begin. The battleground is the bedroom, and it’s a no-holds-barred war to see who moves first.

Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream

It’s June in the Northwest which is like the best month EVER. The monsoon season is behind us, the sun is out, flowers are everywhere, farmer’s markets start to fill, and u-pick farms open their gates. We’re huge u-pick fans, and over the years, we’ve developed a lot of tricks. We love picking peaches because they are so easy–reach, pick, and not a lot of prep to freeze. Blueberries are idiot-proof: Pick, rinse, freeze. We also do a lot of cherries.

But there’s something about the first crop of the season: strawberries. They are hard to pick. Messy. Dirty. Back bent, knees in rocks. But there’s also something transcendental about re-communing with the earth this way, getting one’s hands dirty for the first time in months, children with red streaked faces, and the sublime pleasure of perfectly ripe fruit.

Tonight I made something new & ridiculously easy for anyone with access to a strawberry patch or a couple of cheap cartons on sale & with an ice cream freezer. We did it old school in a ice-packed one that we picked up from a yard sale. If you’re using an electric one that takes the bucket from the freezer, you might want to do a smaller batch.

Ingredients:

Roughly 8 cups of strawberries or 1 heaping quart basket. Less would work fine too.

1 can Coconut Cream (Trader Joe’s or other unsweetened brand)

2 cups coconut milk

4 egg yolks

3 tablespoons of Stevia (I use Sweet Leaf)or other sweetener to taste.

Pinch of sea salt

Set aside in the fridge 2 cups of sliced strawberries, sweeten if desired–ours were ridiculously sweeten so I just wafted the stevia bottle over.

In a blender, combine remaining strawberries (should fill blender about 2/3 full) & can of coconut cream, salt, and stevia.  Set aside.

On the stove, bring two cups of coconut milk just until it first bubbles–it doesn’t have to boil. Very, very, very slowly drip this into 4 beaten egg yolks. I used my stand mixer for this, but if you don’t care about raw eggs, you could totally skip the heating step. Dump in the blender mix. Mix well. Taste. Add more sweetener as desired.

Cool well in the fridge, then freeze according your manufacturer’s directions. We used the old-fashioned machine which is more forgiving–if you are using a newer model, you’ll want to chill the mixture at least several hours until really cold. I called it good after about an hour b/c I knew we had plenty of ice 🙂

When the ice cream is done, swirl in the reserved strawberries then set in the freezer to “ripen” for an hour or so, depending on how firm you like your ice cream.

My dream book boyfriend

So, the lovely Marie Sexton tagged my awesome critique partner, Daisy Harris, who tagged me for a fun game. The deal is, you describe your fantasy book boyfriend, and then name other authors and invite them to do the same. I don’t have a “type” precisely–I’m an equal opportunity man appreciator of everything from nerds to cowboys and beta heroes to alpha doms. But if I get to order one up . . .

Here are the questions:

Hair color and style: Right now, I have a blonde hero, a dark haired hero, and a bald-by-choice hero waiting in the wings. Clearly, I’m not too picky, but as I get older, bald-by-choice and closely cropped hair is really growing on me.

Eye color and facial features: I like a hard face. Manly jaw. Scars are awesome. Stubble is nice but so is fresh-from-the razor. The ability to grow scruff though? Necessary. On the right guy, I can totally dig an eyebrow ring or facial piercing, but most of the time I’m just looking for the right combination of rugged and sensitive. I like unusual eye colors like green and grey.

Height and body type: I’ve written heroes of a variety of heights and builds, but as a matter of personal taste I like tall men. Not like NBA player tall, but a nice 6’3″ & built man? Awesome. But I’ve also got a thing for average height men with solid bodies. I don’t need a lives-in-the-gym dude, but I do like a guy with some heft. And fuzz. I like men with a little body hair on them.

Visible age: I’m currently writing two heroes in their early 20s, so you know I like younger eye candy too, but as a matter of personal taste, I like older guys. I’m married to a guy 7 years older than me, and I’ve always had a soft spot for the May-Dec. dynamic. Bruce Willis & Hugh Laurie? Yes, please. 

Bangability? Kinky? Bi? Etc?: Adventurousness appreciated 😉 I like a dude who looks like he loves to get dirty, but who also looks like he’d make you breakfast the next day too. Ed Norton, step right this way. I love to write virgin heroes, but I’m thinking my dream book boyfriend has some experience to back up his enthusiasm.

Interests: Must read. I don’t care what–fiction, non-fiction, news, magazines, online zines, old-fashioned journals–but he’s got to be literate. If I can’t forward him random articles, he’s useless to me 🙂 Kindness, honesty, and a sense of humor are priceless. I give high bonus points for handyman abilities, but geeky skills are also great.

Human or Alien or Shifter?: Human. I’ll read others, but my book boyfriend is definitely human.

Paranormal skills: Ability to disappear during Downton? Ability to change baby diapers at the snap of a finger? Freakishly agile large hands?

Natural habitat: I like men with hands-on jobs. Carpentry shops, forests, firehouses, fixer-upper houses, military bases and hospitals are all prime gathering spots for my kind of men. But I’ll always have a soft spot for my computer geeks too.

Special skills: I tend to like my guys more human than superhero, but ability to fix things that break is great. Nothing sexier than a man who can strip . . . wallpaper. Or a guy with the endurance to chase toddlers AND keep you up all night.

And the obligatory Man Candy is John Quinlan, who I discovered via Cassandra Carr, and he has a lot of free stock images. And he pretty much fits my entire list, including reading:

Next up?

I hate tagging people! Daisy already got Brien Michaels and Cassandra Carr. I’ll tag Emma Lai, Erin Satie, and Edie Danford. And anyone else who wants to play! Please share!

Friday Reads: Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan

Dirty Laundry (Tucker Springs, #3)Dirty Laundry by Heidi Cullinan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am an angst whore. Nothing gets me to click buy faster than a hero with ISSUES. And two heroes with issues? I’d have bought this even if she wasn’t an auto-buy for me.

I was one of the fans clamoring for her to turn last year’s freebie with the same title into a full-length novel. I’ll be honest and admit I liked some things about the prior opening better–I think it’s really tough when you go back and edit something that’s already been read and loved, because inevitably the changes leave out a favorite line or beat. BUT, getting a full length book out of truly unforgettable heroes? Totally worth the trade-off. If you read the sample, keep in mind that this was originally a short story–the heroes do get busy quickly, because that was the tenor of the original, bu then the story deepens and becomes more complex and richer as they work their way forward from that hot connection to something real.

This book hit ALL of my personal loves:
1) Nerdy scientist hero who doesn’t look conventionally hot
2) Jacked up, super ripped cowboy hero who doesn’t fit cowboy mold
3) Smexy times in a truck
4) Mental health handled in a realistic, careful, sensitive way. Huge kudos to Cullinan for mentioning medication & therapy and for having characters sane enough to understand their potential benefits.
5)Toppy, dirty talking smexy times
6) BDSM handled in a really sensitive way. Seriously, this book is a great example of the safe-sane-consensual parts of BDSM and the thoughtful way that the heroes approached it was really ,really nice
7) So much sweetness. And caring. These are both genuinely caring heroes and the true affection they felt seemed really real.
8) No magic cure-all. As much as I love angst, I hate the tendency of books to try to wrap everything up in a neat bow and suddenly the heroes have no more issues and everything is cured. That’s not the case here, and I think ultimately the ending is so much stronger because of it.
9) Realistic and supportive secondary characters, including women. There’s the requisite evil ex, but there’s also a lot of neutral, complex secondary characters, including the couples from the first two books of this series.
10) Angst. Angst. Angst.

Riptide prices their books high, but this particular title is well-worth the price–I think I need a new category for my keeper shelf: worth the last $8 in my spending money.

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Friday Reads: Color of Grace by AM Arthur

Color of Grace (Cost of Repairs, #2)

If you want a nice, full-length m/m with angst heroes and emotional sexy times, this is the book for you:

Color of Grace by A.M. Arthur

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my new auto-buy author. I loved Cost of Repairs so much I pre-ordered this as soon as it came up. I really didn’t think she could top the angst-and-heat combo of Cost of Repairs, but she proved me beautifully wrong here. So. Much. Angst. And much of it is revealed slowly, and I don’t want to spoil that for you. I also appreciated how unique the heat was to these two heroes–so often love scenes fall into a certain pattern of acts that must be covered w/in a story and that’s not the case here at all–creative, inventive, and totally integral to the plot and character development. If you’re not reading AM Arthur, you need to. Fans of LA Witt, KA Mitchell, Marie Sexton, Ally Blue and others who deliver the angst-and-hot-smex combo will love her.

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Sold!

AnnabethComingSoonI just finalized the contract details with Ellora’s Cave and I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve sold my second book to them. Like Return to Sender, Move Me is set in the suburban town of Ashbury. It features Jill and Mark Evans who showed up in Return to Sender. I wanted to write a marriage-at-a-crossroads story with a lot of heat and heart–and without any discussion of cheating. I can’t wait to share an official blurb and cover with you soon! We’re hoping for a release some time this Spring.

P.S. The sinful cream puffs–and their surly baker–show up again in this book!

Must-Read Holiday Recommendation: Breath on Embers

Breath on EmbersBreath on Embers by Anne Calhoun

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

True Confession: I have boxes of books in the attic that only come out at Christmas. I broke my foot one fall and my mother sent me a large box of nothing but holiday romances b/c she knew I’d happily gorge on them. I LOVE holiday novellas–they’re usually short, sweet, and perfect for reading during hectic days.

Breath on Embers is nothing like the typical holiday novella and that’s its breathtaking beauty. It’s short at 40k words, but it’s not the typical sweet, conflict-lite, sex-lite, supporting cast heavy holiday romp. It’s sexy, edgy, and has so much angst.

I love second-chance-at-love stories almost as much as I love holiday stories. Thea is a young widow who deeply and completely loved her late husband–and I love that Calhoun didn’t have her change that. I hate second-chance stories where the hero(ine) is forced to realize that their love for their late spouse wasn’t nearly as perfect as what they find with their new love. But Calhoun doesn’t go there–Thea and Jesse absolutely had an enviable marriage and would have been happy together. A true HEA.

But now Jesse’s not here and Ronan is. And Ronan loves Thea too. There’s a moment in the book where he says he’s doing battle with her grief. And he is. And it’s gorgeous. He’s pretty much the perfect hero. With a glorious, imperfect heroine who’s not always worthy of him. Until the moment when she is.

This is a gem of a story. If you buy one holiday book this year, make it this one. I know that I often review author friends’ books and books I beta read–I don’t know this author. She was a new find for me. I bought the book in the Red Hot Holiday anthology b/c KA Mitchell is autobuy for me and the last several Carina Press anthologies have been worth it in terms of a good mix of holiday stories. This book absolutely blew me away. It’s lingered in a way few books of 2012 did for me. This is everything about why I write romance and why I often feel unequal to the task.

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