Monday, January 26, 2009

Contest Winner and Trailers

Current Read: Distracting the Duchess by Emily Bryan

Thanks to all of you who joined Elaine and I for a chat! I have the T-shirt winner in hand...



E-mail me at with your snail mail address and I'll get it to Elaine so that you can get that T-shirt on and start snapping photos! :0)

Here are a couple book trailers to enjoy as this Monday draws to a close:

Friday, January 23, 2009

Author Feature: Elaine Levine

Please welcome today's featured author, Elaine Levine!

Congratulations on your debut novel Rachel and the Hired Gun, Elaine! Tell us a little about how the novel came about.

Hi, Tiffany! It’s an exciting time. The novel came about....slowly. I started working on it in '92 or '93 and quickly realized how little I knew about the the West. The only solution, of course, was to move west and immerse myself in the culture, much to my poor husband's consternation! We packed up the kids, then in grade school, and moved from the Washington, D.C. area to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Man, did I love it right away. When we got to Cheyenne, the population sign read “50,000”. Not a week later, I kid you not, it read “50,004”. We still laugh about that. Unfortunately, a couple years after we moved, I had to put writing behind me and get serious about contributing to my family's finances. In retrospect, I think I quit writing just when I was getting good at it.

I studied software application development and soon was on my way in a new career. Over the years, I picked my writing up and put it down. I was never able to balance family, work and writing. In 2006, my son got married and settled down and my daughter joined the Coast Guard. My husband and I were suddenly alone, responsible only for ourselves. In the quiet of our empty home, the dream to be a published author made itself heard again.

I picked up the old story that had driven us west, polished it once again, and entered it into the 2007 RWA Golden Heart competition. It was a total shot in the dark. To my surprise, it not only finaled, but it won its category in the competition--Best Long Historical.

I pitched it to Kate Duffy at that conference. In November, she called me up and asked for some changes. She also did the most amazing thing. She suggested a plot change she wanted me to make, then she edited two chapters and asked that I carry those types of changes through the rest of the story. I did it and she bought it February of 2008.

I love your publishing story and laughed out loud about the population sign (my husband and children have learned to ignore my outburst)! :0) Rachel and the Hired Gun is the first book in your "Men of Defiance" series. Can you tell us more about where the series is headed?

This series is about several Civil War veterans who settle in the same rough frontier town in a part of the Dakota Territory that later becomes Wyoming.

The two stories after Rachel and the Hired Gun happen during the same summer. The sheriff, whom we met very briefly in the first book, becomes increasingly troublesome. He’s stirring up a range war to deflect notice from his attempts to intercept payrolls and supplies being sent up to the logging camps in the Medicine Bow Mountains.

In the second book, tentatively titled, Audrey and the Virginian, Sager’s friend, Julian McCaid comes out to Defiance to deal with the range war that is heating up at his ranch--and to find the woman whose pale green eyes have haunted him since they met a year earlier.

Devious as the sheriff is, he doesn’t scruple at using Audrey Sheridan for his own purposes. He forces her to keep Julian occupied for a period of time when that first gold shipment comes through town. When Julian realizes Audrey isn’t the innocent he believed her to be, he knows nothing but her complete surrender will purge her from his soul.

In the third book, tentatively titled, Leah and the Avenger, Sager and Julian’s friend, Jace Gage, has been hired to clear the sheriff and his gang out of Defiance. Unfortunately for Jace, his attention snags on a violence hating tomboy named Leah Morgan...

Oooh, I can't wait! How do you prepare to write? On a daily basis and/or over time?

I don’t seem to do the same thing twice when it comes to writing. I’m finding that while I’m not a plotter, I’m not exactly a panzter either. (For those of you unfamiliar with those terms: a plotter is typically someone who plans out their stories ahead of time; a panzter is someone who is more likely to "fly by the seat of their pants" when writing) I like to know where my story’s going, and I want to be sure that I don’t have any lulls in the pacing. I do a lot of research up front to understand the world I’m creating. Then, for a long time (months), I just listen to my characters. I put them in different situations as I learn who they are and what issues they are facing. These are mental exercises not written ones. Some of those situations stick and become scenes in my story, some (most) get discarded. When I feel I know the characters inside and out, then I sit and write. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m working on Leah and the Avenger now. Hopefully it will be the fastest story to write yet!

I hope so, too. I can't wait to read them! :0) Where do you find inspiration?

Bruce Springsteen. The man is a god. I love his lyrics. He can capture the truth of someone’s story in a single stanza. That’s not easy to do. I’ve listened to the same 6 CDs in my car for over a year. My husband won’t even get in the car until I turn off the stereo!

I have such respect for songwriters. Like you said, they can do what takes us pages and pages in just a few minutes! What are you reading right now?

Sophia Nash’s The Kiss. And I’m loving it!

I'll have to add that one to my TBR pile. Create a picture of your writing environment for us...A desk? Always the same place?

I have my own little office in my basement, with stacks of books and things all around the room. I have a big blackboard that I use for story boarding. I prefer to write in the same place. It’s a bit of a mental trigger to me that when I’m in that room, I better be focused.

What is something that you are never without?

I’m generally never without underwear. I think.

Hehehe...Did you make any New Year's resolutions? If so, care to share?

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about my resolutions. I always resolve to do whatever it is that most important to me at the time. And I NEVER do it. So this year, I’m trying out a bit of reverse psychology...I’m not going to make a resolution. I know what I want to achieve, but I’m keeping it a secret--and I’m not calling it a resolution! Maybe that way it will happen!

Hmm, I like that thinking - I've all ready blown my resolutions (which happens every year). Anything else you'd like to add???

Just that it’s an honor to be a guest on your blog! Thank you for having me here today!

Thank you for being here. It's been a thrill, and I absolutely loved Rachel and the Hired Gun! I didn't read westerns...until now. You, Rachel, and Sager have made a western romance lover out of me!

Elaine is doing something very creative for her contest. I love this idea! Check it out:



To celebrate her new book, Elaine is giving away a T-shirt with her book cover on it to a reader who leaves a comment. If the drawing winner sends Elaine a digital picture of herself wearing the tee that Elaine can post on her MySpace, she’ll receive an autographed copy of RACHEL AND THE HIRED GUN!

And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to the Colorado Romance Writers free newsletter for news of Elaine’s activities and those of all the published authors at Colorado Romance Writers! Here’s the link:

Check out Elaine’s website ( for excerpts, clips and book goodies!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Upcoming Features

Wanted to let you know that this week's word wizard feature will be on Friday...ooohh, it's a good one so be sure and stop by!

And don't forget we're smack dab in the middle of "Blind Date with a Book"!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I've Been Tagged!

Current Read: Addicted to Love by Lori Wilde

I've been tagged by my friend and colleague Viola Estrella over at Colorado Vixens!

Rules are simple; Link to the person who has tagged you. Write down six things that make you happy. Post the rules, tag six others and let them know you did it. Then tell the person when your entry is complete.

Six Things That Make Me Happy...

1. A good book (duh!)

2. A nice, hot bath (with a good book)

3. My family and friends

4. The ocean (yeah, I'm into water)

5. Stolen know those snippets when time stands still

6. Writing...creating stories, worlds, characters

Now I'm going to tag:

Renee Knowles over at Authors and Books

Donnell Bell over at Five Scribes

Chiron O'Keefe at Write Soul

Lindsay Townsend

Skhye Moncrief

Lynda Hilburn over at Paranormality

Friday, January 16, 2009

Contest Winner and Friday Fiction

Congratulations to...


You are the lucky winner this week! Send me your snail mail address at and I'll get it to Taylor so she can get your book to you!

Here are a couple links to some Friday Fiction to get your weekend started off right. Today is "Cabot" day on AH. :0)

Here's a fun concept from Meg Cabot and a "friend" of hers...

Her Royal Highness Mia Thermopolis, Crown Princess of Genovia–whose published “Diaries” have been a #1 bestselling sensation–now graces the world with her first novel of danger, desire, and timeless romance…with an introduction from Meg Cabot!

Click here to learn more!

If you love inspirational romance check this out...

A new series from author Amanda Cabot.
Socialite Sarah Dobbs never thought she’d be a mail-order bride. But, then, she never thought she’d be destitute, shunned and her young sister’s only hope for a normal life. Drawn to Texas by the poetic letters she calls her paper roses, Sarah believes her secrets will be safe there. But the town is deeply divided and harbors its own secrets, including the identity of the person who murdered Sarah’s fiancĂ©. There’s no one she can trust, not Clay Canfield, and certainly not God. He’s abandoned her.
Talented physician Clay Canfield has only one desire: to find the man who murdered his brother and exact vengeance. He’ll never marry again, especially not a woman burdened with a child. As for faith, that’s not for him, any more than it is for Sarah.
But God has plans for Sarah and Clay, plans that challenge everything they hold dear.
Learn more here.
Have a wonderful weekend. See you next week!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Author Feature: Taylor Nash

Please welcome today's Word Wizard, Taylor Nash!

Tell us about your debut novel Uncharted Depths.

Uncharted Depths is a contemporary romantic suspense that takes the characters from their Midwestern hometown to a tropical island as they search for the truth about a murder Braden was convicted of committing. Events and personalities collide in a tense dance, as the story unravels a conspiracy.

Why did you choose romantic suspense?

As you've heard, write what you like to read. As a young girl, I read every Nancy Drew book (does that tell my age?).

I've read them, too. You're not alone! :0)

I loved mysteries. As I became of age, I started reading romance novels. When I found books that combined both, I was hooked and that's what I've been reading ever since.

Were there any aspects of Uncharted Depths you struggled with?
I guess if I were to pick one thing, it was probably getting the characters to be true to form. What I mean is the characters' internal and external conflicts have to have goals and motivations to be strong characters. If the readers don't care about the characters, you're not going to keep your reader interested and turning the pages.

What about writing Uncharted Depths was easy? If anything - LOL!

The setting for Uncharted Depths was easy to describe. The novel starts in the Midwest and takes you on a journey to Alabama and a tropical island. My husband and I visited Gulf Shores/Orange Beach many times and when I decided to write this novel, I knew that would be the location. It's beautiful, so it made it easy to describe the incredible, tropical setting.

What are you reading right now?

I'm reading Sandra Brown's White Hot. She's an incredibly gifted author.

Did you make any New Year's resolutions?

Yes - top on the list is the same every year - lose weight (yeah right!). Writing - my goal is to publish one book a year, but I need to take more time for myself to maintain good health and a strong mental attitude. That means more travel to golf destinations, a trip to Maui in October, and as many short trips as I can work in for promotions and, of course, lots of time with my new granddaughter who is five months old. I'm SOOOO engrossed in my next novel, The Apparition, I have trouble putting it down and taking time for myself. You can read the first chapter on my website, and you'll see why.

Wonderful! Thanks for being here, Taylor.

One copy of Uncharted Depths is up for grabs so let us know what's on your mind!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Introducing...A New Feature

Welcome to the first in a new series of features here on Armchair Heroines! It's time to meet a reader...

Please welcome Angela, an Armchair Heroiones everyday heroine! And I don't mean "everyday" as in ordinary but as in a heroine who goes about her daily business taking care of herself and others and fighting her battles quietly, in an unassuming yet indispensable way. Let's hear it for everyday heroines and heroes. :0)

And now, heeeeere's Angela!

Tell us a little about how you came to be a booklover.

I started reading late. I was nine years old, my youngest sister is a speed reader and could read a book in 30 mins. She was reading The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. I picked up one of her books off the book shelves in the living room and started to read it (to this day I still read Enid Blyton books).

You had some added hurdles to cross as a reader. Can you share a little about those and how you overcame them?

Well I've always been a slow learner and when Iwas 36/37 I decided to go to open university. This is a university that lets you study at home and classes once a month. I told them that I was slow at learning and that my son had dyspraxia.

What is Dyspraxia? Dyspraxia is generally recognised to be an impairment or immaturity of the organisation of movement. Associated with this may be problems of language, perception and thought. Other names for dyspraxic include Clumsy Child Syndrome; Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD); Minimal Brain Dysfunction: Motor learning Difficulty; and Pereceptuo-motor Dysfunction.

What causes Dyspraxia? For the majority of those with the condition, there is no known cause. Current research suggests that it is due to an immaturity of neurone development in the brain rather than to brain damage. People with dyspraxia have no clinical neurological abnormality to explain their condition.

But there is no test for an adult so they had me tested for dyslexia which is in the same family. It turned out that I had both. The difference is now I have a programme called Read and Write Gold which reads the text for me. It highlights the words as I read along side it. It's like a whole new world and what I'm reading makes sense now. I no longer skip over words that I don't know or that are dancing. I still can't take telephone numbers over the phone as I tend to mix the numbers up but I am working on that.

If you'd like to learn more about Read and Write Gold click on it above. If you'd like more information about dyspraxia or dyslexia visit the Learning Disabilities Association of America here.

Thanks for sharing that, Angela. Talking about your struggles may help others!

Can you tell us three titles that are on your "keeper" shelf?

In print books they are: Yhe Ysabel Kid. This is the first of many in The Floating Outfit series by J. T. Edson. These are cowboy books.

The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton

And last but not least is On the Run by Judith Rochelle. This is a special book as all proceeds go to charity. The book is about domestic violence.

What's your favorite way to enjoy a book? With a cup of tea? On a covered porch during a rainstorm?...

My fav way is to settle down on my adjustable bed and have my laptop on and read an ebook with the help of my programme. I can have it read to me or I can read along side it. It has 4 voices but I prefer Daniel (this is the name of one of my sons) and a cup of coffee at side of me.
What are you reading right now?

In print books: I'm reading Alien Overnight by Robin L. Rotham.
Ebook: I'm rereading Witch's Brew by Tabitha Shay.

If you could tell your favorite authors one thing what would it be?

I wish that their books were longer. I never want them to end.
Wonderful, Angela! Thank you for being here today. Stop by and say "hi" to us if you have the chance.

Today also kicks off a month-long contest at Armchair Heroines. "Blind Date with a Book" is a chance for you to win and try out a surprise book. Anyone who comments over the next month will be entered into the drawing. I've wrapped five romance novels of various genres in brown paper (hence the "blind date" part). Winners will be drawn randomly on Valentine's Day, of course, from the commenters over the past month. You receive an entry for every time you comment, but you can only win once. Good luck!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Happy 2009!

Current Read: Accidentally Yours by Susan Mallery

Welcome back, ladies...and we have any male readers? I certainly hope so! What better way to unlock some of the secrets of a woman's heart than through a romance novel?

Happy 2009 to all of you!

Do you make New Year's resolutions? I do. In fact, New Years reminds me of the first day of school when I was younger. I tingled with anticipation and the promise of a clean slate. Back then it was a new school year to learn new things, meet new people and maybe even do a little more homework - be...not better, but challenged. Could I grow, expand? And so now as an adult I get that same effervescent expectation when the new year rolls around. Everything feels fresh and I commit to expanding and growing. That includes happenings here at Armchair Heroines! Next week we'll start out 2009's Wednesday's Word Wizards with a brand-new line up of stellar authors. You'll also get to meet one of Armchair Heroines' readers. I'll be giving you the specifics on "Blind Date with a Book" too. Tons of fun and hours of reading pleasure await you as we kick off 2009 with a page-turning bonanza!

So, back to the New Year's resolution thing...I prefer to call them goals. After too many days of getting up from the desk chair with a stiff back, I decided that one of the best things I could do to grow and expand as a reader and a writer is to take care of my body. Yep! It's 3-4 days a week on the treadmill for me...You know what I discovered? Audiobooks are a great incentive toward that particular goal. I've also committed to making time for my writing while balancing the other important parts of my life like family. I'm making time for the things I want to do by skimming away things I don't - like clutter. It's super-fling boogie at my house. Check out for more information about decluttering and getting your frannie in gear so that you have time for those meaningful pursuits.

What goals or resolutions did you make for 2009? I'd love to hear. After all, we're all in this together!

Looking forward to a jam-packed year of reading enjoyment with you!