Friday, December 19, 2008

Contest winners!

Thanks, ladies, for all of the wonderful holiday-themed romance titles. *Sigh* It's a good thing I asked for book buying gift cards for Christmas. You all have added another tower to my to-be-read pile! :0)

Armchair Heroines has been up and running now for almost eight months, and I'm so excited and honored to have so many returning readers and commenters. As a special thank you I'm changing the contest rules...

Today, everyone who commented wins!

Just send me an e-mail at with your snail mail address. If there are any romance genres you absolutely love or hate, please include that with your e-mail. I'll do my best to honor your requests but I can't make any guarantees!

I won't be posting until after the new year so happy holidays and see you in 2009!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Surprise Contest!

My friend Joanne Sundell was scheduled to be our word wizard for today. Unfortunately, her computer got fried in a power outage this weekend. Joanne will spend some time with us after the new year.

So, instead I'm going to my packed-to-the-gills bookshelves and pulling five random titles to give away. It's a poor replacement for talking with Joanne indeed, but what can I do?! I have a wide variety of romance novels on my shelf so what the winners will receive is anyone's guess. I've got single title and category, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, contemporary...and the list goes on. Many of these titles are signed by the author and have been previously read - but still in good shape. This is an excellent opportunity to perhaps try something new and find a new favorite author.

In order to be entered in the contest just post a comment with your favorite winter or holiday themed romance novel. I'll chose five random winners and post their names on Friday!

Good luck!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Contest Winner



Send me an e-mail with your snail mail address and I'll get it to Francesca.

Thanks to everyone who commented and a huge thanks to Francesca Prescott for joining us this week!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Author Interview: Francesca Prescott

Current Read: Sweet Spot by Susan Mallery

Please welcome today's featured author, Francesca Prescott!

Welcome to Armchair Heroines, Francesca! Tell us about your debut release, “Mucho Caliente!”

Hello, Tiffany! Thank you so much for having me on Armchair Heroines. “Mucho Caliente!” is an effervescent, shamelessly romantic, feel-good comedy about a recently divorced, thirty-seven year old woman who falls in love with a world-famous Latino pop star. Take “How Stella got her Groove Back”, add a touch of “Notting Hill”, a pinch of “Shirley Valentine,” a backdrop and atmosphere reminiscent of “Mamma Mia – The Movie” and you’ll have an idea of its funky flavor! It is a colorful, vivid, giggle of a book, set on the island of Ibiza, Spain. It is a story about daring to believe in yourself and to have faith in other people when you’ve been burned. It is about attempting to take control of your life even though you’re terrified of making mistakes, and about taking chances while remaining true to yourself. It is about the angst of falling in love with a (very famous!) younger man. But it’s also about the wonderful friendships between women that are often laced with a touch of rivalry. I’m also very pleased to report that “Mucho Caliente!” is currently ranked Number One on BookStrand’s Mainstream Bestselling E-book chart. It is available in print from as well as Barnes and It’s an uplifting, entertaining read; perfect for the holiday season!
Are there things about your characters to which you could easily relate? Things to which you had difficulty relating?

Well, this morning I can definitely relate to Gemma being attracted to starting a new life in Ibiza, if only for climatic reasons. It’s arctic outside! As much as I love living here, I could do without the long, cold, grey winters we get in Switzerland. I’ve always had a thing for islands in the sun; the book I’m working on now is also largely set on an island; a Greek one this time. I’d love to wake up to a bright blue sky a little more often, and the sea on my doorstep would certainly be a big plus. Can you imagine being able to spend most of the year in flip-fops? Or barefoot? Heaven!

Seriously now, when Gemma decides to start her life afresh, one aspect of her journey I can really relate to is her desire to become financially independent. I’m not sure she had to go so far as to dismiss her husband’s divorce settlement; she’s certainly a brave girl! I admire the fact that, despite her insecurities, Gemma goes as far as to risk losing Latino superstar Emilio Caliente because of her determination to stand on her own two feet. She knows that self-respect is the foundation of any lasting relationship and I agree with her wholeheartedly.

I also think the way in which Gemma interacts with her girlfriends, Celeste and Laura, is similar to the way I behave with some of my closest girlfriends. While writing the book, I enjoyed delving into that unique, heartwarming “girlie” camaraderie. It seems to me that women are far more spontaneously supportive towards one another than men. And although we meet new people, make new friends all the time, few friendships truly last a lifetime, weathering separations and misunderstandings, withstanding the vast spectrum of unpleasant emotions that creep up on us despite our best intentions. Like anybody else, Gemma isn’t immune to being zapped by the ugly stick. She struggles with insecurities that sometimes translate into jealousy and selfishness, but at least she’s aware of it.

A character I can’t relate to at all? Emilio’s manager! She is one nasty piece of work! Bad to the bone!

What are you working on now?
I’m rewriting a romantic saga, “Turn Left at the Ocean”, which is set in England, California, Sicily and the island of Ithaca in Greece. It’s about a multicultural family struggling to transcend life’s tougher curve balls through love and hard work, as well as by focusing on the silver lining that life invariably has hidden somewhere up its sleeve. It’s a big-hearted, optimistic story, and writing it has been a humbling, emotional experience. I’m also letting loose by writing short, humorous pieces for various webzines and blogs, as well as sketching out a sequel to “Mucho Caliente!”. 2008 has been breathlessly busy, yet I’ve found the publishing process extremely stimulating. I’ve learnt a lot, met loads of interesting new people, pushed my creative boundaries, gained in confidence and generally had a lot of fun.

Congratulations! Do you do anything in particular to prepare for writing? Light candles, listen to specific music, wear a favorite piece of clothing?

I tend to burn a lot of incense. I love the strong, pungent smell of an Indian incense called Nag Champa. On days when my creative juices are particularly bunged up, sometimes all it takes is a whiff of Nag Champa to get them flowing again. There have been desperate days when the entire neighborhood has reeked of Nag Champa! Unfortunately, I’ve recently been told that it’s not very healthy, so I’m trying to cut down. I also tend to drink way too much coffee.

Music has always played an important role in my writing routine; what I play depends on what I’m working on. For example, when I was writing “Mucho Caliente!” I spent days on end listening to electro-lounge type compilations, to Flamenco, and to mainstream Latino artists such as Ricky Martin, Alejandro Sanz and Enrique Iglesias.

For “Turn Left at the Ocean,” if I’m involved in a scene set in California, I’ll listen to tracks from The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Sarah Lachlan, Alison Krauss or Keith Urban. For island scenes, I’ll get into a Greek groove by playing musicians such as Giorgos Dalaras and Angelique Ioanatos. It’s like…musical teleportation! As for a favorite piece of clothing, I love to wrap myself in a seriously threadbare, off-white, old cashmere shawl. It’s my creative security blanket and I don’t know what I’ll do when it falls apart.

I love the visual your answer creates: you in a smoky, incense-filled room, wrapped in your loved shawl, drinking coffee and jamming out! :0) Is there a book or author on your bookshelf you keep returning to? Why?

You should see the state of my dictionaries! Other than those, the books I return to tend to be “how-to” books, or books offering some sort of comfort or “spiritual” guidance. In moments of great creative insecurity, I’ve often picked up Julia Cameron’s books: The Artists Way, The Vein of Gold, or Walking in this World. I find them blissfully comforting. I also love all the little quotes Julia Cameron adds to the sidebars of her pages, such as this gem from Victor Hugo: “A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil”. Isn’t that beautiful?

When it comes to fiction, there are definitely authors I’ll seek out time and again: Anita Shreve for her lyrical talent, Bill Bryson for his comic genius, Elizabeth Berg for the depth of her characters.

If you had to choose a soundtrack for your life, what would it be?

Oh dear…I love this question and could spend hours compiling one of those box set CD collections! My childhood was an oddball mix of The Beatles, The Everly Brothers, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, as well as classical composers such as Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Léo Délibes. I did ballet as a child, spending loads of time prancing around the living room in a homemade tutu and pink slippers. My adolescence was a mix of Abba, Supertramp, The Eagles, Blondie, Chicago, Fleetwood Mac, Roxy Music, Elton John, Bread (the ultimate make-out music!), Jackson Browne, KC and the Sunshine Band, Gerry Rafferty, The Police. My early twenties were a little pseudo-tortured: part of me wanted to be dark, edgy and mysterious in the spirit of bands like The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen. Meanwhile, my shiny, happy side loved bouncing around to Madonna, Michael Jackson, Banarama, A Flock of Seagulls and…Kajagoogoo! By my mid-twenties I was big on Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel, Terence Trent D’Arby and George Michael. During my thirties, I got into Bryan Adams, Phil Collins (who lives in a village nearby!), Backstreet Boys, Take That and Ricky Martin. Nowadays, my I-Tunes library features a giant medley of all of the above, and much, much more! Right now, as I type, Ricky Martin is singing one of his great Spanish hits, Vuelve. Do I have a soft spot for him? Hmmm! Gosh, I hope I haven’t rambled too much! Mention music and I get carried away…

Absolutely not - rambling is encouraged here! I love music, too. Why do you think I asked that question!? :0)

I’ve really enjoyed this interview, Tiffany. Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity. I sincerely hope that the person who wins a print copy of “Mucho Caliente!” will enjoy reading it. There is a lot more information about me on my website at Please don’t hesitate to contact me with feedback and any further questions.

May your lives be filled with peace, love, light and… laughter!

xx Francesca

So, you heard her, gals! One lucky commenter wins a copy of "Mucho Caliente!". Check out Francesca's website (she's also a "rock star", did you know?). Also Mucho just got a great review! You can check it out here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Contest Winner

A huge thank you to Lisa Pietsch for joining us last week!

And the winner of a copy of her book, The Path to Freedom, is...


Robyn, I think I have your e-mail address so I'll get The Path to Freedom zipping its way to you in the e-waves.

Please join me Wednesday as I chat with Francesca Prescott author of Mucho Caliente!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Feature Author: Lisa Pietsch

Current Read: The Booktalker's Bible by Chapple Langemack

Please welcome today's word wizard, Lisa Pietsch!

First of all, tell me how to properly pronounce your name. :0)

My name is pronounced “peach”, just like the fuzzy fruit :0)

Thanks! Tell us about your debut novel, The Path to Freedom.

Sarah Stevens is a washed- up military cop whose life is a shambles until she is offered a position on an inter-agency anti-terrorism task force by the CIA. The thirty-year-old, overweight, down-on-her-luck Stevens goes to a secret training camp where she is transformed into a sexy and deadly agent whose mission is to find and stop, by any means possible, the financiers of terrorism against the United States and its allies. Although she goes into it thinking that it is just a job, Sarah soon discovers that this is a new life loaded with adventure, including the handsome Vince Hennessee, her team leader, and unimaginable danger in the form of Hassan, the man she has to destroy. The Path to Freedom is available in electronic formats through Sapphire Blue Publishing ( and many other eBook outlets like All Romance Ebooks, Mobipocket and

Just as a side note, enough people have showed an interest in going to “The Camp” so I think I’ll be opening one in the desert outside Las Vegas within the next few years.

Oh, I am so there! :0) I'm guessing your background contributed a great deal to the book. Can you tell us more about that?

My background had lots to do with how I came to write this book. I spent eight years in the U.S.A.F Security Forces, trained as a Hostage/Crisis Negotiator with the FBI and did a few security details with MI-5. Working with the FBI, British military and the British intelligence services was great fun and really got me interested in the wider world of spies and espionage. After leaving the military, I never lost my interest in these things and read as much non-fiction about it as possible. Writing this book, and the books that will follow it, gives me a great opportunity to put all my research to work. The ironic thing here is that my husband works in the Air Force intelligence community but can’t tell me a thing about his job!

What a bummer. I'm sure he'd be an amazing resource! What led you to make the switch to writing?

I was pregnant with my first child and really wanted a part-time job I could do at home. I started doing some freelance writing and began writing The Path to Freedom just for fun. As it happens, I enjoyed writing novels much more than I did the freelancing. When I found Sapphire Blue Publishing and realized people actually wanted to read what I was writing, I decided to make the switch from non-fiction to all fiction.

What are you working on now?

I just finished a rough draft for a spinoff from The Path to Freedom called No Quarter. Sarah Stevens, the heroine from The Path to Freedom, trained at The Camp with Tracey Ballantine. No Quarter is the story of Tracey Ballantine’s first mission which takes her to Dubai and gets her tangled up with some very wealthy and very bad Russians. I’m also midway through the rough draft for the second Sarah Stevens story. Both storylines work together so readers can either read each character’s stories as a series or read them all together. (I have about seven stories planned for Sarah Stevens and at least three for Tracey Ballantine.) Lastly, I’m working on a much longer story which I hope to have released in paperback. It is about one woman’s rise to the top of the Russian “Mafiya” food chain in the 1990’s. It is a modern Woman of Substance with a very Russian twist.

Those all sound intriguing. How has your attitude about writing and being published changed since your release in September (if at all)?

The real awakening for any author is when they sign that first contract. Since I’ve been working with the Editors at Sapphire Blue Publishing, I’ve come to understand the business of writing much better. Tina Gerow ( has been a wonderful mentor and really helped me to create a realistic writing career plan. Knowing what I know now, I want to write even more!

I think I'd better have a chat with Tina. :0) A random question for you: What is something you are never without?

I am never without lipstick. Seriously. I could be a total wreck but if I leave the house, I will at least slap on some lipstick. I’m also sure to carry something I can write on (either a notebook or PDA) just in case inspiration strikes while I’m on the move. I’ve written entire chapters in waiting rooms! One time I thought I’d travel light and left the notebook and PDA at home. I ended up leaving myself about five voicemails as I dictated story ideas that came to me. I learned my lesson that day!

That's hilarious! I keep telling my husband I want one of those "yak-backs" so that I can record my ongoing, internal brainstorming. :0) Thanks again for joining us today, Lisa! Anything else you'd like to add?

I’m a MySpace junkie. My page is There you’ll find a trailer (short movie) about The Path to Freedom, the soundtrack to The Path to Freedom and updates on books I’m currently working on. I blog regularly at This blog is totally fun because I do a weekly feature on “Hot Guys with Guns” every Friday. What can I say? It is a guilty pleasure of mine. Thank you so much for having me! I love reading Armchair Heroines :0)

You're so sweet! I'm glad you enjoy our humble, virtual hang-out. "Hot Guys with Guns" - that's a smokin' hot double entrendre if I've ever heard one. :0)

Let us know what's on your mind - Lisa gave me a copy of The Path to Freedom to give to one lucky AH commenter. Good luck!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Contest Winner

I'm pleased to announce that...


is our lucky winner this week - actually last week...well, you know what I mean! :0)

Last week was a busy one and I appreciate seeing some familiar faces. A very special 'thank you' goes out to Diane Wylie for her time and generous contribution of a book for our contest.

As we begin counting down to Christmas at my house, things are going to get a little crazy! But don't despair, I have a stellar line-up of Word Wizards here at Armchair Heroines. This week I'll be chatting with Lisa Pietsch, author of The Path to Freedom. Next week I'll be welcoming Mucho Caliente! author, Francesca Prescott. Finally, on the 17th, I'll be hosting a local gal and fellow Colorado Romance Writers member, Joanne Sundell. She has a new book out this month titled The Parlor House Daughter. It's getting rave reviews!

Monday Movie Magic and Friday Fiction may be a bit sporadic (as they have been the past few weeks) as holiday revelry kicks into high gear around here, but check in when you can. You never know what surprises might pop up.

Along that vein, I'm busy scheduling word wizards for January and planning a very special month of surprises in February. So sit back, put your feet up, relax and read - blogs, novels, short stories - you're an Armchair Heroine and you deserve it! :0)

See you Wednesday!