Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year's Eve

A new year is coming! A new year of possibilities is coming and I'm excited about it. :)

I have several resolutions this year, most of them are similar to last year's. LOL Here is my list!

1. Run more for exercise. Okay, think about running more. ;)
2. Clean out my office. (Will take a while)
3. Write two novellas next year.
4. Write two full-length novels next year.
5. Go see a new place I've never been to before with my family.
6. Complete my first iTunes application. (Yes, I'm that much of a nerd.)
7. Throw away fives things in my house and giveaway five things.
8. Do something for myself like a massage day. (Easy to forget as a mom.)
9. Spend more time studying Russian like I used to.
10. Schedule my time during the day to avoid getting distracted. (Oh, look shiny!)

As a way of saying thanks, I'd love to offer one of our readers a chance to win a copy of my latest eBook release, BITTEN BY DECEIT.

About Bitten By Deceit:

Alpha wolf Emma Parker is loyal to a fault, even if it means losing the love of her life when he’s ousted from the pack. She’s never stopped needing him, and when a black witch curses the pack, she wonders if she’ll even survive. It’s a poison of the blood, and with each bite, the virus spreads, leaving the infected rabid and under the control of an evil Alpha.

Kyle Benton is starting over. He’s a lone wolf, betrayed by the only woman he’s ever loved. Until Emma barges back into his life, as gorgeous and determined as ever. He’s hell bent on resisting her, or at least making her suffer. But she needs him in a way that touches him to his very soul. Now he has to determine how to set her free, and if he can, how he can ever let her go.

Want to take a quick trip to the desert? Check it out: Amazon |  B&N | Kobo  | Smashwords | iTunes
Add to your TBR List on Goodreads.

So, what are some of your New Year's Resolutions? What percentage of them do you think you change accomplish?

Leave a comment to be entered!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Last week, Gail Z. Martin ( tagged me in her blog as part of a chain of authors (or creative people) recommendations called The Next Big Thing.  Today it's my turn to reciprocate and pass the torch . . . well, at least it would be if it wasn't the Christmas season.

You see, I gathered my posse of authors to recommend to all of you and they all agreed to participate.  That is, until they realized the holidays were breathing down our necks.  The idea was that I answer Gail's questions here, then the five authors I recommend answer those same questions on their blogs.  I'll still mention their names (because they are, in fact, fabulous authors), but for now, all I've got is the questions and my answers to them.

And hey, I'm not even answering as Casey Daniels, but as my alter ego, Kylie Logan.  So here goes:

What is the working title of your next book?
It all depends on what you mean by "next book."  As Kylie Logan, I've got a book called "Panic Button" coming out on New Year's Eve.  Under that same name, I have a new series starting in June called the League of Literary Ladies.  The first book of that series is "Mayhem at the Orient Express."  I also have another new series starting next year.  The first book of the Chili Chick series is "Chili Con Carnage."

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I'll talk about "Panic Button"...The idea for the entire series arose out of the face that I love old buttons.  I'm not much of a collector and believe me, there are serious button collectors out there.  But I do find buttons fascinating.  They are often tiny pieces of art and the workmanship on many of them speaks to a time when people paid attention to even the little things in life and took pride in their work.  The idea for "Panic Button" came out of a sweet thing young girls did in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  They made charm strings.  The idea was to collect buttons, and tradition said you couldn't have two the same.  You'd string the buttons and people would bring you more buttons from vacations or give them as gifts.  Girls traded buttons, too.  The legend said when you had 1000 buttons, you'd meet your Prince Charming.

Since I write about old buttons, this was too good not to explore.  In "Panic Button," my heroine/detective, Josie, owns a button shop and a customer brings a charm string to be appraised.  Not only does the charm string have all 1000 buttons, the customer swears it's cursed!

What genre does your book fall under?
Cozy mystery

If you found yourself in an elevator with a movie director and had a chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?
Well, I'd remind the director that right now, cozy mysteries are hot, hot, hot.  Readers love the chance to get to know a cozy's cast of characters and follow their lives from book to book.  The added appeal of the Button Box mysteries includes a Chicago setting, a charming renovated brownstone that houses the Button Box shop, a plucky heroine, twisty plots and of course, all those wonderful buttons!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
As always with his series, I'm inspired by the history and legends that surround antique and vintage buttons.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
My schedule is packed.  I have about 3 months to write each of my books.

When is your book available?
"Panic Button" hits store shelves on New Year's Eve, December 31.

That's it for the interview.  Now for my recommendations.  Here are five friends who also happen to be five incredible authors.  If you haven't checked out their books, do yourself a favor and look them over!

Emilie Richards (womens fiction)
Mary Ellis (Amish romance)
Serena Miller (Amish romance)
Maureen Child (Harlequin Desires)
Shelley Costa (cozy mystery, a first book coming out in June!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Touching Tribute

Sometimes, the most touching gifts come from the most unexpected places.

At the end of October, I took part in an event in Pittsburgh called Women Read/Women Write, a book festival/discussion/reading extravaganza that features panels of women writers and many wonderful readers.  There was lots of good energy, and plenty of intriguing ideas and conversation.

One of the readers I met there was a woman named Nan who bought a copy of "Button Holed," the first book in the Button Box mystery series I write as Kylie Logan for her mom, Rose.  Rose, she told me, was 85 and she'd been a professional seamstress all her life.  If anyone would appreciate buttons, she knew it was Rose!

Just a couple days later, on November 3, Rose died, and just this week, her daughter sent me her buttons.

I am deeply touched, and proud to be the one chosen to keep this little bit of Rose's memory alive.  I know each time I see these buttons, I'll think of a woman I never met.  Rose, we obviously had a lot in common!  Though I am truly the world's worst sewer, I know a pretty button when I see one.  Thank you for the gift.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Strong, Smart and Under the Radar

Here’s to strong smart women. Especially those who fly under the radar.
Amateur sleuths, particularly women amateur sleuths, often don’t seem all that strong or all that smart at first blush. But they are, aren’t they? 

Whether they have ordinary jobs like small-town librarian, Ophelia Jensen, in Shirley Damsgaard’s Ophelia and Abby series. Or they’re preschool teachers like Lizzie Brown in Angie Fox’s hilarious Demon-Slayer novels. Or for that matter they may be like, pet therapist, Caro Lamont and pet boutique owner, Melinda Langston, in our Pampered Pets mystery series

Whatever their regular every day job…these women are strong. They are smart. They may seem ordinary, but they’re definitely not. 

We love writing (and reading) these seemingly ordinary women because they’re often underestimated. Whether their special powers are supernatural like Ophelia’s and Lizzie’s or part of their vocation like Caro’s and Mel’s, these ladies can take care of themselves and anyone else who needs it. 

Writing a strong heroine can be tricky. It’s a balancing act. You see a strong woman isn’t just a guy named Lance who’s been given some curves and renamed Linda.  A strong heroine is a multi-faceted person with feelings and flaws. She understands her weaknesses, learns from her mistakes and draws on her strengths to face what she needs to face. She’s loyal and fierce and believes in fighting the good fight not only for herself but for others who can’t fight. She may get knocked down, but she always gets up. 

Joss Wheldon, of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, says he writes strong women because of his mother who was a cool, sexy, funny, woman. And because of his father and step-father who prized wit and resolve above all things. 

We believe part of the fascination with strong, smart women who fly under the radar is that they are going along, leading ordinary lives, and suddenly they must rise to the occasion when faced with extraordinary circumstances. In our books, it’s almost always a murder. But the murder isn’t really the call to action for Caro and Mel. It’s the injustice. Someone is falsely accused. Someone is in danger. Someone has been wronged. 

And don’t we all hope that if we were placed in a situation that called for it we’d put on our big girl capes and perform extraordinary feats. 

So here’s to us -  the daughters, mothers, grandmothers, sisters and friends who fight the good fight. Even if sometimes we have to save the world between grocery shopping and endless meetings. 

Here’s to you - may your battles be small and your superpowers sufficient to the challenge before you.
Sparkle & Abbey

What are your thoughts? What makes a great strong female character for you?
Do you have a favorite strong, smart female character in a book or movie?
Please comment and get your name in the drawing for free books. We’ll be giving away some copies of Desperate Housedogs and Get Fluffy. Also, just an FYI, Get Fluffy is currently an Amazon Big Deal and being offered on Kindle for $1.99 until December 22.

Sparkle Abbey is the pseudonym of mystery authors Mary Lee Woods and Anita Carter who co-write the Pampered Pets Mystery Series featuring feuding former Texas beauty queen cousins Caro Lamont and Melinda Langston who are strong enough and smart enough to solve crimes that have stumped the police in posh pet-friendly community of Laguna Beach, California. 

Book One: Desperate Housedogs
Book Two: Get Fluffy
Book Three: Kitty Kitty Bang Bang (coming soon)
Book Four: Yip/Tuck (2013)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

No Knight Needed Winners & Other news!

 First of all, I want to announce that my slightly sassy Christmas novella, Jingle This! is free on Kindle through Monday, so hop on over and pick up your copy before it goes back to its regular price!

 More exciting news is that Fairytale Not Required, book two of the Ever After series, is now available for sale on all major etailers outlets!

Kisses that set her on fire. A tender smile that melts her heart. Promises of forever…. It's the fairytale that no woman can afford to believe in, especially not Astrid Monroe. Oh, she did once, long ago, but the scars etched on her heart remind her that the only one she can trust is herself. The flamboyant designer with the quick wit and spunky demeanor will never show the world how much she is struggling…until she meets Jason Sarantos, a man whose tormented past enables him to see the secrets she is trying to hide.

The connection between the two damaged souls is instant and electrifying, shredding the defenses Astrid had worked so carefully to erect, and tumbling her into a world of passion and vulnerability she can't control. Jason has moved to Maine to rebuild his life after the tragic death of his wife and youngest son, and Astrid's vibrant spirit ignites a searing fire in the single dad that he thought was long dead. Intense, soul-shattering passion explodes between the pair, threatening everything that they hold most dear. Is there a way to stop the fire before it consumes them both?

Check it out on Amazon, B&N, Kobo or ARe!


And now, for the winner! Thank you to everyone who entered the launch party contest for No Knight Needed. There were so many touching entries! The winner of a free copy of any book of mine is AprilR! Congratulations!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cross Promoting a Book Giveaway

There's a book giveaway going on over at:

and I thought you'd like to know about it.  All this month, you can stop by the Killer Characters blog.  Leave a comment, and be entered for a chance to win that day's book giveaway.

Today, Kylie Logan (that's me!) is talking about starting a new tradition--givng books as gifts for the New Year.  If you comment, you'll have a chance to win one of her (er . . . mine) Button Box mysteries.

Stop on over and leave a comment.  Good luck!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Naughty, yet Nice Weekend

Happy Monday, all!

Did everyone have a great weekend? I had a wonderful weekend. I got to attend the Naughty & Nice II, Fifty Shades of Naughty here in St. Louis. Check out the blog post from Barbara Vey about it on Publisher Weekly's Beyond Her Book. It was a huge crowd--over two hundred people getting books signed by Sylvia Day, Beth Kery, Jaci Burton, Cassandra Gold, Eliza Lloyd, Shiloh Walker, and Shayla Black. A huge list of wonderful authors. I had so much fun escaping from home--I mean having a girl's night out. There was food, a fun raffle for an iPad (my number was so close!), and plenty of great conversations with other authors and readers.

The fun news is that Kept came out last week on November 27th! Woo hoo! To celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of either Kept or Coveted. If you win, you get to pick which one. :D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 1, 2012

No Knight Needed release party & winners!

I'm so excited to announce the launch of my new sexy & emotional contemporary romance, No Knight Needed, Book One of the Ever After series. The second book in the series, Fairytale Not Required, will be out next week, in quick back-to-back releases. The third book, Prince Charming Can Wait, will be out in the first part of 2013.

The Ever After series is passionate, intense series about courageous women who struggling so hard to survive that they have long lost any dreams of fairtytales and happy endings, and yet they get them anyway, when their modern day knights waltz into their lives. This series is about how true magic comes from the heart and the soul, and no matter how tough things are, there is always hope, always love, always that dream that can come true. 

Bex 'N' Books says No Knight Needed is "a testament to Stephanie Rowe’s skill and talent, one that deserves applause… phenomenal... There was not a moment that I wasn’t completely engrossed in the novel, the story, the characters… The narrative and dialogue surrounding these ‘tender’ moments in particular were so beautifully crafted, poetic even… And of course on the flip side of the heart-wrenching events, was the amazing, witty humour…superbly developed." 

Here's the blurb for No Knight Needed: 

Broad shoulders silhouetted in the night. Strong arms anchoring her against a powerful chest. A modern-day knight in shining armor on a stormy mountainside… Who has time for that kind of fantasy? Not Clare Gray, that's for sure. The plucky single mom is a little too busy to dream about turbulent dark eyes brimming with intensity, and sensual kisses that ignite her soul. But when Boston business mogul Griffin Friese steps out of his black truck on the abandoned mountain road and helps Clare rescue her daughter from a deadly Maine storm, her well-ordered world implodes.

Suddenly, Clare finds herself having fantasies about tender loving and hot passion with the mysterious stranger with the rain-slicked jacket and the angel painted on the roof of his truck. The midnight encounter awakens yearnings in Clare that are far too dangerous to explore, but when she learns that her heroic knight is staying in town for a few days, he becomes a reality she can't deny. She's already barely surviving, so how can she risk her heart with a man who threatens everything she believes in?  

Interested? Here's a brief excerpt from No Knight Needed, when our intrepid single mom who has been raising her daughter alone for fifteen years, first meets the man who is going to change her life: 

Ducking her head against the raging storm, Clare hugged herself while she watched the huge black pickup truck turn its headlights onto the steep hillside. She was freezing, and her muscles wouldn't stop shaking. She was so worried about Katie, she could barely think, and she had no idea what this stranger was going to do. Something. Anything. Please.

The truck lurched toward the hill, and she realized suddenly that he was going to drive straight up the embankment in an attempt to go above the roots and around the fallen tree that was blocking the road. But that was crazy! The mountain was way too steep. He was going to flip his truck!

Memories assaulted her, visions of when her husband had died, and she screamed, racing toward him and waving her arms. "No, don't! Stop!"

But the truck plowed up the side of the hill, its wheels spewing mud as it fought for traction in the rain-soaked earth. She stopped, horror recoiling through her as the truck turned and skidded parallel across the hill, the left side of his truck reaching far too high up the slippery slope. Her stomach retched as she saw the truck tip further and further.

The truck was at such an extreme angle, she could see the roof now. A feathered angel was painted beneath the flood lights. An angel? What was a man like him doing with an angel on his truck?

The truck was almost vertical now. There was no way it could stay upright. It was going to flip. Crash into the tree. Careen across the road. Catapult off the cliff. He would die right in front of her. Oh, God, he would die.

But somehow, by a miracle that she couldn't comprehend, the truck kept struggling forward, all four wheels still gripping the earth.

The truck was above the roots now. Was he going to make it? Please let him make it—

The wheels slipped, and the truck dropped several yards down toward the roots. "No!" She took a useless, powerless step as the tires caught on the roots. The tires spun out in the mud, and the roots ripped across the side of the vehicle with a furious scream.

"Go," she shouted, clenching her firsts. "Go!"

He gunned the engine, and suddenly the tires caught. The truck leapt forward, careening sideways across the hill, skidding back and forth as the mud spewed. He made it past the tree, and then the truck plowed back down toward the road, sliding and rolling as he fought for control.

Clare held her hand over her mouth, terrified that at any moment one of his tires would catch on a root and he'd flip. "Please make it, please make it, please make it," she whispered over and over again.

The truck bounced high over a gully, and she gasped when it flew up so high she could see the undercarriage. Then somehow, someway, he wrested the truck back to four wheels, spun out into the road and stopped, its wipers pounding furiously against the rain as the floodlights poured hope into the night.

Oh, dear God. He'd made it. He hadn't died.

Clare gripped her chest against the tightness in her lungs. Her hands were shaking, her legs were weak. She needed to sit down. To recover.

But there was no time. The driver's door opened and out he stepped. Standing behind the range of his floodlights, he was silhouetted against the darkness, his shoulders so wide and dominating he looked like the dark earth itself had brought him to life.

Something inside her leapt with hope at the sight of him, at the sheer, raw strength of his body as he came toward her. This man, this stranger, he was enough. He could help her. Sudden tears burned in her eyes as she finally realized she didn't have to fight this battle by herself.

He held up his hand to tell her to stay, then he slogged over to the front of his truck. He hooked something to the winch, then headed over to the tree. The trunk came almost to his chest, but he locked his grip around a wet branch for leverage, and then vaulted over with effortless grace, landing in the mud with a splash. "Come here," he shouted over the wind.

Clare ran across the muck toward him, stumbling in the slippery footing. "You're crazy!" she shouted, shielding her eyes against the bright floodlights from his truck. But God, she'd never been so happy to see crazy in her life.

"Probably," he yelled back, flashing her a cheeky grin. His perfect white teeth seemed to light up his face, a cheerful confident smile that felt so incongruous in the raging storm and daunting circumstances.

But his cockiness eased her panic, and that was such a gift. It made her able to at least think rationally. She would take all the positive vibes she could get right now.

He held up a nylon harness that was hooked to the steel cord attached to his truck. "If the tree goes over, this will keep you from going over."

She wiped the rain out of her eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"We still have to get you over the tree, and I don't want you climbing it unprotected. Never thought I'd actually be using this stuff. I had it just out of habit." He dropped the harness over her head and began strapping her in with efficient, confident movements. His hands brushed her breasts as he buckled her in, but he didn't seem to notice.

She sure did.

It was the first time a man's hands had touched her breasts in about fifteen years, and it was an unexpected jolt. Something tightened in her belly. Desire? Attraction? An awareness of the fact she was a woman? Dear God, what was wrong with her? She didn't have time for that. Not tonight, and not in her life. But she couldn't take her gaze off his strong jaw and dark eyes as he focused intently on the harness he was strapping around her.

"I'm taking you across to my truck," he said, "and then we're going to get your daughter and the others."

"We are?" She couldn't stop the sudden flood of tears. "You're going to help me get them?"

He nodded as he snapped the final buckle. "Yeah. I gotta get into heaven somehow, and this might do it."

"Thank you!" She threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around him, clinging to her savior. She had no idea who he was, but he'd just successfully navigated a sheer mud cliff for her and her daughter, and she would so take that gift right now.

For an instant, he froze, and she felt his hard body start to pull away. Then suddenly, in a shift so subtle she didn't even see it happen, his body relaxed and his arms went around her, locking her down in an embrace so powerful she felt like the world had just stopped. She felt like the rain had ceased and the wind had quieted, buffeted aside by the strength and power of his body.

"It's going to be okay." His voice was low and reassuring in her ear, his lips brushing against her as he spoke. "She's going to be fine."

Crushed against this stranger's body, protected by his arms, soothed by the utter confidence in his voice, the terror that had been stalking her finally eased away. "Thank you," she whispered.

"You're welcome."

There was a hint of emotion in his voice, and she pulled back far enough to look at him. His eyes were dark, so dark she couldn't tell if they were brown or black, but she could see the torment in his expression. His jaw was angular, and his face was shadowed by the floodlights. He was a man with weight in his heart. She felt it right away. Instinctively, she laid a hand on his cheek. "You're a gift."

He flashed another smile, and for a split second, he put his hand over hers, holding it to his whiskered cheek as if she were some angel of mercy come to give him relief. Her throat thickened, and for a moment, everything else vanished. It was just them, drenched and cold on a windy mountain road, the only warmth was their hands, clasped together against his cheek.

His eyes darkened, then he cleared his throat suddenly and released her hand, jerking her back to the present. "Wait until you see whether I can pull it off," he said, his voice low and rough, sending chills of awareness rippling down her spine. "Then you can reevaluate that compliment." He tugged on the harness. "Ready?"

She gripped the cold nylon, suddenly nervous. Was she edgy because she was about to climb over a tree that could careen into the gully while she was on it, or was it due to intensity of the sudden heat between them? God, she hoped it was the first one. Being a wimp was so much less dangerous than noticing a man like him. "Aren't you wearing one?"

He quirked a smile at her, a jaunty grin that melted one more piece of her thundering heart. "I only have one, and ladies always get first dibs. Besides, I'm a good climber. If the tree takes me over, I'll find my way back up. Always do." He set his foot on a lower branch and patted his knee. "A one-of-a-kind step ladder. Hop up, Ms.—?" He paused, leaving the question hovering in the storm.

"Clare." She set her muddy boot on his knee, and she grimaced apologetically when the mud glopped all over his jeans. "Clare Gray." She grabbed a branch and looked at him. "And you are?"

"Griffin Friesé." He set his hand on her hip to steady her, his grip strong and solid. "Let's go save some kids, shall we?"

 Want to read more? Check out No Knight Needed on Amazon, B&N, Kobo or ARe

What dreams have you held onto, lost hope for, or seen come true? To win a copy of No Knight Needed (or any Stephanie Rowe book of your choice), enter a comment below. I will add another free book for every 20 entries, and if we get 100 entries, I will add a free pair of shoes (you get to pick out what you want!) from to help you run fast in pursuit of your dreams.So spread the word so we get 100 comments and I can give away a free pair of shoes!

And I have winners to announce from the Jingle This! releaese day contest. Yay! Because we had a lot of comments, I have four free books to give away: DW, Bookbunny68, Janice Hougland, and Tanya! If you're one of the winners, please email me and let me know which book you want and what format you want it in (some titles are not available in all formats).

Stay tuned for Fairytale Not Required (Book 2 of the Ever After series) coming out next week!

*Note: No Knight Needed was originally released under the title Dawn at Birch Crossing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How readers see the world

I dropped my kids off to school this morning and on the drive back, the trunk of the car in front of me popped open. Instead of braking or trying to avoid what kind of tools or other things that might come flying at my car, I sped up a little bit so that I could see if there were any bodies in the trunk. Which means either my safety instinct is way off, or I've read one too many mysteries. Call it creative curiosity.

But it got me thinking: do readers see the world differently? Is it normal to check for bodies? Or to look up at the full moon at night and wonder just what the werewolves might be doing? Am I the only one who gets a little nervous taking the dog out at night after watching The Walking Dead?

Oh, great. Now we have television to blame as well.

Still, I think this is one of the most creative periods for books and for television as well. There are so many choices, so many people writing and telling wonderful stories. I think it does change the way we see the world, for better or for worse.

And for the record, there was nothing in the back of that black Acura I saw this morning. But next time? You never know.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

Let me preface the below by stating I’m not exactly what you’d call a “good cook”. I do okay—haven’t poisoned anyone yet. (In my opinion that is—I don’t think it’s fair that my family counts the person who had the gall bladder attack after eating my raw apple cake!!) And truthfully, when my sons say “just like Mom made” they are probably referring to something that came out of a can or a box. However, I do put a little effort into the holidays and since today is Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share my aunt’s wild rice casserole recipe that I make every year. It is as follows:

1 cup wild rice
½ cup onion
½ cup chopped celery
8 oz. mushrooms
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (you can use cream of celery or cream of chicken instead. I use cream of celery.)
Water chestnuts
¼ cup butter

Soak wild rice 16 to 24 hours changing water frequently
Sauté onion, celery, and mushrooms in ¼ cup butter until tender
Add drained wild rice and continue to sauté for another 15 minutes
In a casserole dish, combine wild rice, onion, mushrooms, and celery with the 2 cans of soup and water chestnuts
Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes
Serves 6 to 8

This is a big family favorite so I usually make a double recipe. AND if there is any leftover, it’s great the next day warmed up in the microwave with a little bit of butter.

That’s it for now—again I hope you all have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!!!



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Plotter or Pantster?

After four intense days with my brainstorming group, I returned home last week and got down to business.  It was time to plot the fourth book in the Button Box mystery series.

And talk of plotting, of course, brings up that ever-important question writers always ask each other: are you a plotter or a pantster?

My understanding is that pantsters literally write by the seat of their pants.  As they write, the story reveals itself, and they go along for the ride.  I know people who write this way and they produce fine books.

I, however, am not one of them.

I am a plotter, and I just spent the last week proving it.  I write from a pretty complete outline and coming up with that outline is often painful and tedius.  I should know, I just spent 7 days doing it.

I start with bullet points of what's going to happen: Josie attends the show at the art gallery, Josie meets the suspects, Josie meets the victim, Josie finds the body.

The next time I sit down, I add to that: Josie attends the show at the art gallery in the old church.  It's being held there because the fancy gallery that was supposed to host the show . . .

I go on and on, and my pages are pretty much a running dialogue with myself.

Why would she do that?  I write.  And then I try to come up with answers to my own questions.

Eventually, I go back and get rid of all the dead-end ideas that took me nowhere.  And I break it all into chapters.  When I finally felt satisfied with my outline, I had 20-some pages to go on.  It's not everything, but it's a start that gives me a cushion.  I know where the story is going.  I know how it's going to get there.

I'm always asked if outlining robs the writing process of creativity.  Absolutely not!  Though I know what's going to happen in the story, I don't always know how it's going to happen.  For instance, I know that somewhere along the line, Josie's going to find a voodoo doll that's obviously meant to represent her.  Will it arrive in a package?  Mysteriously appear on her desk?  Be outside her apartment door?  I don't know yet.  I guess that part of my process makes me a pantster!

Of course all this doesn't mean I can't change my mind about things.  As I write, I remind myself that my chapters--and my ideas--are fluid.  But for now, I've got a nice map to follow.  Ah, the joys of being a plotter!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


After a fabulous week of thinking, plotting and laughing with my brainstorming group, I've just started outlining a new book, Button Box mystery #4.  So really, I could talk about process today, all the thinking and planning, the twisting and turning that goes in to creating a book.  We could talk plotters versus pantsters or the benefits of a story board.

Instead, I can't help myself...I feel the need to rant about shopping.

You see, I came out of my plotting cloud just enough last night to hear on the news that stores are now open on Thanksgiving.  You know, so all those early shoppers can get their fix.

And you know what?  I'm outraged!  Really?  Shopping on Thanksgiving?  Just the thought makes my skin crawl.  A day that should be devoted to family and friends and well, just staying home has been run over by greed.

I wonder how many of the retail executives will leave their homes and work the counters on Thanksgiving evening.  And I feel terribly sorry for the workers who are being forced to keep this schedule.

I guess the only thing we can do is make sure we stay home and stay away from the stores.  That would send a message and sadly, I think it's a message corporate America needs to hear loud and clear.

Done ranting now.  Back to plotting!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The great kindergarten forgery

The other day, my six-year-old son had a reading assignment. He's learning very simple books at school and brought one home for us to read together. Afterward, he had to get my signature to show that he'd done his work.

Only he figured it would be easier if he just played an extra game of Wii and forged my signature. He's busy, after all. Those monster truck racers will not reach the finish line on their own.

Normally, I oversee homework as soon as it comes out of his school bag, but I'd been distracted by the Immortally Embraced copyedits that had arrived right as we were getting home from school pick-up. Like a cobra, my son struck. Only there was a flaw in his plan...

I don't know if I'm proud or worried. Maybe a little of both.

Either way, I made him read the book before I signed it for real. My son has avoided a life of crime and (maybe) learned his lesson. I've learned mine. In the future, just call me eagle eye.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Girls Night Out!

First of all, I'd like to say a belated Happy Veteran's Day to those who have served in the United States military. Veteran's Day was observed yesterday in the US, but I think any day is appropriate to say thank you.

Just fourteen days until Kept comes out! Will you be in the St. Louis metro area this week? Angie Fox and I will be joining Patricia Rice at the Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library for the Girls Night Out event sponsored by the St. Charles County Library. Copies of Kept will be there. The details are below:

Romance and Wine with Angie Fox, Patricia Rice and Shawntelle Madison
Middendorf-Kredell Branch Library
2750 Highway K
O'Fallon, MO
November 15th, 2012 at 7pm

If you haven't entered Natalya's Holiday Hoarder Contest, be sure to check it out. I will be picking up goodies from this event for the hoarder pile. Signed books to be exact from Angie Fox and Patricia Rice. *rubs evil mustache*

Any fun plans for your week? It was so warm over the weekend here in St. Louis and now its cold again. I didn't expect the weather to last long. I was scrambling today to find coats and mittens for the kiddos. Is the weather cold in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Jingle This! release party & book giveaway!

It's not Christmas yet...but it's just around the corner! And what better way to celebrate Christmas with a holiday novella and a bunch of free books?

I am super excited to announce the release of my slightly sassy Christmas story, Jingle This! which gives new perspective on the Christmas holiday. It's a long novella, or a short novel, whichever you want to call it, and it's sexy, funny, and got a little bit of attitude...


Love. Diamonds. Mistletoe. And a one-on-one holiday assignment with a very sexy boss. Put it all together, and it's enough to ruin a girl's day.

Angie Miller has to write sizzling, evocative, heart-melting holiday stories about love, romance and diamonds for her company's newest client…an assignment that isn't so easy when she's just had her heart broken. When her first not-so-cheery story nearly gets her company fired, her boss Kyle Black makes it his personal mission to get Angie in the right mood to wax poetic about love and romance. The fact that there's three years' worth of unrequited sexual tension simmering between them? It just makes it all the more interesting when Kyle shows up in her office with his oh-so-broad shoulders, smoldering smile and…oh, yeah… his slightly autocratic ways… How is Angie supposed to find her muse again when Kyle keeps trying to have his way with her? Not "that" kind of way, but a girl can dream…

**Just as a heads up,  Jingle This! is a short novel that was originally published 2004 in mass market paperback by Dorchester Publishing as part of the holiday anthology Shop 'til Yule Drop. It has been substantially revised and expanded. It is approximately 180 pages in length.**

INTERESTED? WANT TO READ MORE? It's your lucky day! Here's a brief excerpt to get you all fired up for love, romance and mistletoe... Check it out right here:

Kyle tossed some bills into the Salvation Army bucket as they walked by, then he stopped. "I forgot. I need to get my mom a nightgown." He turned to go back to Macy's. "Come on."
Angie stopped "No way. I'm not risking my life for those crowds again."
He grinned, walked over to her, slung his arm around her neck to anchor her to his side, then started back into the store. "I'll protect you, my fair maiden."
Fair maiden? Okay, so being smashed up against Kyle might be sufficient justification to brave the crowds again. She sighed as she let him clear a path for them. What was she doing?
She was falling for him again, that's what she was doing.
She'd been so removed from him this week, trying hard to see him as an autocratic workaholic hated by the world. Yet it had taken only a few minutes of being out of the office and seeing his dimples to make her feet start tap dancing to songs of love.
No, not love.
No way would she love him.
"Okay, here we go." He stopped next to a rack of flannel nightgowns. "Navy blue. Size extra large. Perfect."
Angie grabbed his hand as he went for the item. "Not so fast."
He lifted his brow. "You don't like it? It's conservative, practical. Perfect for my mom."
"Is she married?"
He frowned. "Yeah, to her second husband. Why? I'm not getting him the nightgown." He grinned at his own joke.
"Well, maybe you should."
"He's not a cross-dresser. I don't think he'd want it."
"No, he wouldn't want the flannel one, I agree." Angie strolled over toward the other side of the lingerie section, where lace, silk and spaghetti straps were in abundance. "He might, however, enjoy something from here." She picked up a pale blue nightie with a lace bodice and held it up. "This is what you should get your mom." She turned to show it to him, only to find him still standing at the flannel nightgowns, a look of horror on his face.
She waved it at him, and he shook his head and turned back to the rack of flannel nightgowns and started pawing desperately through the red plaid.
Angie started to laugh. And to think this was the man who claimed to know all about romance, at least to the point of being a love muse. She waved the sexy nightie cheerfully so that the silk fluttered. "Hey. Just because she's your mom doesn't mean she doesn't like being sexy. And I'm sure your stepdad would appreciate a little heat in the bedroom just as much as you would."
"Stop it!" He backed up, stumbling over a bin of bikini underwear. "My mother is not wearing that."
Angie grinned as she walked across the store to where Kyle was hiding. "If I was in your bed, would you rather I was wearing this flannel nightgown—" She held up the item he'd thrust at her so mercilessly. "—or this sexy little number?" It really wasn't even that sexy. Demure, with a little bit of naughtiness mixed in.
Kyle's eyes went black. "You? I'd take you naked."
Electricity jolted through her and desire pooled in her belly. Not just desire. Raw, pulsating need and want. Uh, oh… Angie swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry. She had to stay focused. Nothing good could come of discussing her nakedness with Kyle. "Before you got me naked," she clarified. "As a male, would you prefer your woman to be in flannel or silk?"
His gaze was so intense she felt like he could see right through her clothes to the matching black lace panties and bra she'd put on this morning to try to get in the romance mood. "Silk." His voice was husky, deep, and sent chills down her spine.
She took a deep breath. "Well, then, that's what we should get for your mom. She's a woman like I am, and your stepdad is a man like you."
"I'm not thinking about my mom." But it wasn't a protest. It was an arrogant statement that said very clearly who he was thinking about.
She lifted her chin and took a step toward him. She knew she was playing with fire, but she couldn't stop herself. She didn't want to stop herself. "You couldn't even begin to imagine what I'd be like in your bed," she said, letting her voice go a little soft and throaty. "So don't bother guessing."
His hands snaked out and grabbed her waist, hauling her up against him before she could step away. "Tell me." His lips were hovering over hers, his breath mingling with hers. "Tell me what you'd be like in my bed, Angie."
She braced her hands on his arms, desire leaping through her at the feel of his muscles beneath her hands. Hard. Like steel. Raw, manly, steel. Oh, Lordy. She was in way over her head. Not that she could let him know it. She couldn't let him know that he could still get to her. "Words can't do it justice," she managed to say. "I'd have to show you."
His grip tightened on her hips, and his gaze went to her lips. "Then show me." His voice was husky and hoarse, as if he were being tormented by the vision of her naked in his bed.
Oh, God. Show him? Suddenly, the image of his bed flashed through her mind. Those tousled sheets. The mattress sinking beneath her weight as he set her on the bed… Heat flushed her skin and she let him pull her closer, so her belly was pressed against his. "Show you? I'd love to."
He sucked in his breath and he locked a hand behind the back of her neck, pulling her closer. Holy crap. He was going to kiss her! Right in the store in front of everyone!
No, no, no. She couldn't do this. She'd never recover. She set one hand on his chest, blocking him. "Sorry, but that's not going to happen." At the frustrated look in his eyes, she couldn’t help but add a little tease by trailing her finger over his lips. "I've already resolved that I wouldn't allow you to inspire me anymore."
"I'm not talking about inspiring anyone. I just want you. This has nothing to do with work." His fingers were stroking the back of her neck now, a sensual caress that was sending chills down her spine.
Oh, wow. Was this moment simply about them? About the heat burning up the air between them? Not about work or her stories? Did he want her the way she wanted him, pure and simple? Not that there was anything simple about the feelings racing through her.
No, no, no, she couldn't do this! She couldn’t get involved with him.
"I can't kiss you," she whispered. The finger she'd been trailing over his lips was suddenly in his mouth, caught in a suckling whirlwind of moist heat. "Um..."
"You're the one who brought it up." His voice was hoarse, tight, his tongue winding around her fingertip.
"Brought what up?" How could he speak with her fingers in his mouth? He must do that a lot—suck on women's fingers. An expert. Fierce jealousy roared through her at the idea of Kyle with other women. She had a sudden, burning need to claim him, to make him hers, to imprint herself onto him so no other woman would ever be able to compete with her in his mind.
Oh, damn. That wasn't good. She didn't want to be having possessive thoughts about Kyle!
"You. Me. My bed. Nakedness," he said, lowering his head until his mouth was a fraction of an inch from hers. "You brought it all up."
She could feel the warmth of his breath on her lips, the heat of his mouth, the intensity of his persona. Anticipation rushed through her, followed by an almost insatiable need, and she knew he was doing it on purpose. Seducing her without even kissing her. The man knew what he was doing.
She'd never been ravished by an expert lover before. With the stories Heidi told about Quinn's talents in the bedroom, Angie was well aware that she'd been missing out. Maybe that was why she couldn't write the romance stories for Swift. Because she hadn't truly experienced mind-numbing lovemaking.
Perhaps in the name of research...
Oh, no. What was she thinking? 

LIKE IT? Check it out at Amazon, B&N, Apple, or ARe
What was she thinking indeed? Seems to me that she was thinking that some men are just too hot to leave alone...  What's the craziest holiday moment you've ever had? Or your favorite thing about the holidays? Leave a comment and be entered to win a free copy of any of my books! I'll start off with three prizes, and for every fifteen entries I get, I'll add another prize. Contest runs thru next Friday, so spread the word and lets get some serious freebies going!