Wife for Hire – Interview and Giveaway with Christine Bell!

August 22nd, 2012

Fabulous guest on the Sisters today – the beauteous Christine Bell and her wonderful debut release for Entangled Indulgence. She has the BEST giveaway so make sure to comment!

Hello Sassy Sisters, and thanks for having me today! In hopes of us having some fun, I asked my friend Jen to interview me so that she could ask some questions that would be a little nosier and less PC than a more standard interview. Here’s the results! And stick around for a super cool contest to celebrate the release of my Entangled Indulgence romance, Wife for Hire!

What’s the worst thing you ever had to do for money?

Blerg. I have no idea. I’ve waitressed and bartended at some not so great restaurants, but I never minded it so much. Oh! I got one! When I was 21 I up and drove cross country to San Diego with my two male friends and $400 in my pocket. We got a one-room apartment in Ocean Beach and would take turns sleeping on the floor (because two of us could fit on the bed at any one time). Anyhoo, when finances got short (and by short, I mean ramen noodles were too rich for our blood), we started selling stuff at the pawn shop. I sold the ring my mother had gotten me for my sixteenth birthday for like forty bucks. I ended up going back home a month later. I really wish I had it back now.

If you could sleep with any historical figure, who would you choose?

Oooooh, I LOVE this questions. *rubs hands together* Wowww, wait, is Liam Neeson a historical figure? No? He’s pretty old. Still no? Fine. Then I’ll say Doc Holliday (pre-consumption, obviously). The Val Kilmer version. Cuz he’s my huckleberry.

Favorite superhero?

Spiderman. I used to pretend to be him when I was a kid, shooting off webs from my wrists, all *peow peow*. Excellent times.

Favorite villain in a book or movie?

OMG, this is my favorite subject EVER. I shouldn’t even start. *turns away, but turns back, drawn like a moth to…another (really sexy) moth* SEVERUS SNAPE. Although, I do love me some Doctor Horrible (Joss Whedon directs Neil Patrick Harris FTW) But Severus Snape for sure. I’d like to go on record as saying I knew Snape was good the WHOLE time. I take unimaginable pleasure in rubbing it in my husbands’ and four sons’ faces on a regular basis. I called it from BOOK ONE and never stopped calling it, despite them pooh-poohing my theory. *leaps onto soapbox* I would further assert that Snape is not only better than Dumbledork, he is the BEST character in that series, bar none, and a hero who gave his life for the woman he loved. I went to the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando with the family last year on vacation and am the proud owner of a Severus Snape wand, as well as a Slytherin House green and white scarf, which I wear every day, weather permitting. *steps gingerly off soapbox*

Wait, so you’d like him as both as a Professor and as a lover?

Without question. In fact, Alan Rickman is number two on my free-pass list (between lyrical genius and rapper, Common, and Ellen Degeneres). Don’t make me google images to prove just how sexy he can be in a waistcoat.

If you could choose an actress to play you in a movie, who would it be?

Okay, so let’s see. I LOVE me some Sandra Bullock, and she’s so funny, I feel like that’s the way to go. But I *sort* of resemble a Ashley Judd(‘s chubby, less attractive sister). Meh, if I get to pick, I’m going Sandy all day. It’s my fantasy, right?

Tell us about your new release for Entangled Publishing, Wife for Hire, and what you love most about your hero and heroine?

Well, I probably shouldn’t say this, but *looks around furtively*, the heroine of this book, Lindy Knight, is my favorite heroine of all time. Don’t tell my other heroines that, though. They’re a prickly bunch and just in case the characters in my books go full-out Toy Story on me one day, I don’t want to end up trussed up like a pig while they poke me with sticks or something.

The thing about Lindy is that she is probably the nicest heroine I’ve ever written but under the fluffy exterior, she actually the toughest. Her parents died when she was young and she is sort of the family caretaker now. She’s funny and flawed and neurotic, but also very brave and has such a great outlook on life. I feel like I could hang out with her and have a beer.

As for Owen (let’s pronounce it the way he does, ladies: Ooh-un *dreamy sigh*), he’s a hunk. Irish billionaire, determined to stay single because true love that lasts is a fairy tale. And then he meets Lindy. I love this story, I swear.

Here’s the blurb from Wife for Hire. To celebrate the release of my new Entangled Indulgence, I’m offering to indulge YOU guys so stick around to comment!

He needs a wife for three weeks…
Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.
Lindy Knight is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.
It seems easy enough until the first time a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?

Thanks for having me, Sassy’s! And readers, stick around to comment, because, to celebrate the release of my new Entangled Indulgence, I’m offering to indulge YOU! One commenter on this post will win a $10 Barnes & Noble or Amazon gift card, so she (or he!) can buy a couple (or, if you buy from the Entangled Indulgence line, a few because they’re only $2.99!) new books.

AND I’m also running a Let Me Indulge You contest. If Wife for Hire gets onto the Amazon OR Barnes & Noble top 500 list by September 18th, I will be giving away a $250 gift card to the salon or spa of one lucky winner’s choice. Sign into Rafflecopter below and every comment from my blog tour will be counted as an entry. Follow my whole blog tour? EACH comment = another entry! Extra entries will also be given for tweeting or posting the link to the book on your Facebook page:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So now to you, blog readers! Do tell. What’s your favorite indulgence?
http://www.entangledpublishing.com/wife-for-hire/

For the love of John

August 16th, 2012

There I was happily browsing the net (serious hero research) when I realised how many diverse people share the same name. Since romance heroes need a name that’s theirs without fail, the sort of name that defines them right off the bat and gives you an insight into the sort of person they are (or will be) this sharing concept is damned annoying!

Or is it? Some names are very common, but when you look at the people who have a particular name they’re very different. Intriguingly different ;-)

Today I’ve chosen to turn the spotlight on John, and just look what I’ve come up with!

John Cusack, Jonathan Lapaglia, John Abraham, John Butler, John Mayer,

 

 

also… John Cleese, Jon Favreau, John Hannah, and (of course) Johnny Depp. Did I forget anyone? Do tell ;-)

 

Go All the Way – An eclectic mix of pondering brought to you by RWA

August 7th, 2012

I was at conference last week, as you all know, and I came away from it thinking about so many things that I decided to just go ahead and do a mismatched post about all the things I’m pondering. It’s eclectic, though, actually, I think there might be a unifying theme…whatever you do, wherever you go…go all the way. Now, buckle up and embrace the random.

Random thought #1: I have a tendency to pull my punches, I know I’ve mentioned this before. But I get very nervous when I start thinking “Oh, maybe my heroes conflict is this!” and it’s something dark and potentially iffy. I start worrying, is it too far? Is he still likable?

This is usually the point where I pull my punch. Where I got into a safer place because what I’m REALLY thinking seems a little too…insane. And my editor always calls me on it. Because what I’m doing is dishonest. It’s not true to the character, it’s me worrying about taking a chance.

I have to say, thanks to faithful CPs, I managed to push myself this time. I was nervous writing the conflict for my latest hero (The Ice Man) because it was…bad. He was bad. He had his reasons, and some might call them honorable on a skewed moral plane, but ultimately, he was into some shady stuff. This time though, I just decided I didn’t care if I had to rewrite the whole thing, because it was worth taking the risk. And the risk paid off.

I often find, and I think I’ve said this a few times, but it takes me time to learn my own lessons, that the risk ultimately wasn’t AS risky as I thought. But I think it feels exposing sometimes to bare yourself and write something so TRUE about your characters, because maybe it reveals something of us? I’m not really sure. All I know is sometimes it’s scary, but you have to go all the way anyway.

Random thought #2: You need to own your own joy. I find it’s very easy to give the power of your happiness over to other people. An agent, an editor, a publisher, a reviewer, sales figures…whatever it might be. Those things are important and it’s easy to see why things not going your way with them would bum you out. And I’m not saying you can’ t feel unhappiness, but to a certain extent, if you want to be in this business, you have to learn to give yourself power over your feelings, and not so many other people. Otherwise it’s like a roller coaster you can’t get off with other people and outside factors dictating how you feel about what you do in the privacy of your office every day. There is so much out of our control, but we can write. We can still try to shut out the outside influences and embrace the JOY of it. Because there is joy in writing, and it’s a wonderful job if you can get it.

Don’t be afraid to be happy. That sounds weird but I feel like people are very negative about their own work sometimes as a way of trying to cushion any blows they might receive. I do this too. I try to stay detached from books I’m not sure will sell. But it makes the writing of them SO MUCH HARDER! And to be honest it doesn’t make a setback hurt less, not in the end. It’s worth it to do whatever you have to in order to preserve the joy you find in working on a project. Because if writing is your job, your forever job, then being unhappy while doing it is just going to be…miserable.

Random though #3: Reach for the stars – whatever that means to you. We all have goals. We all have dreams. There’s nothing wrong with aiming really high. There’s nothing wrong with making choices that might make other people scratch their heads. This business is personal, your goals are personal. They’re about you and what you want out of your career. They aren’t about other people, or what choices they might have made. It’s find to take advice and seek advice, I’m not saying not to. But everyone has an opinion, and while it might be perfectly valid for them, it may not be for you.

We don’t need to be in separate camps. We’re all writers, more than that, we’re all business people who have a specific model for our personal career trajectory. It will not be the same as everyone else’s. It doesn’t make you, or them, wrong.

Above all, don’t let fear hold you back from any of the above. Go all out, do it with joy, while reaching for the stars. :)

 

Robyn’s Quick Quirky Quiz – Olympic edition

July 26th, 2012

Looking for an easy way to get into the spirit of the Olympics? Answer the following questions and feel free to laugh at the other comments as well.

1. Fill in the blank: I’d win GOLD if (       ) was an Olympic sport.

2. If I could have a backstage pass to hang out with the athletes from one Olympic sport (before and after their event) I’d choose…?

3. My favourite romance hero would a) rock at pole vaulting b) run a mean 100 metre sprint c) dive like a champion d) use his considerable skills to impress me in some other way.

4. You’ve been given the task of writing a book where both the hero and heroine are Olympic athletes. Summarise the story for us in (about) SIX words using the following format:

-his sport and the country he’s from

-her sport and the country she’s from

-their greatest challenge

-one unusual inclusion in their training regime.

 

5. The Olypics are being held in a city near you, and the men’s swim team need you to take them out for a spin. (ahem, to do the touristy thing in public) Where are you going to take them?

 

Hope you’re all caught up in the excitement of the Olympics now. Can’t wait to read your answers ;-)

 

~ Robyn

Happy Release Day and Giveaway – Robyn Thomas and His Unexpected Family

July 22nd, 2012

Hey everyone, the Sassies are hugely proud and excited to welcome you to the release party for Robyn’s debut book from Entangled Publishing’s Indulgence line – His Unexpected Family!  Hoo is on bar duty and he can do at least four drinks at once since he has eight arms (he’s blue and he’s an octopus for those of you who don’t know) so let him know your tipple.

Anyway, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see a sister’s first book. This one is extra special for me because I joined the Sassies after Robyn had sent it out so I never got to read it. Which means I shall be reading this as a reader, not as a CP. Plus the hero is a mountain climber and I LOVE mountain climbers!  It’s also special because, having shared Robyn’s publication journey for a couple of years now, I know how hard  this woman has worked and how much perseverance it’s taken to get to this point. Getting published is not an easy road but Robyn kept at it and did it with far more grace and optimism than I ever managed. :-)

So put your hands together folks for the wonderful Robyn.  Here are the details of Ren and Cole’s story (plus gorgeous cover!):

Sometimes you have to take the leap… again.

Newly widowed with a new baby, Ren Jamieson is putting her life back together after her thrill-seeking husband’s death. But when she’s called to show a high-end property to a prospective client–a commission she desperately needs–she meets a man who makes her pulse pound like nothing she’s ever known…

Cole Matthews is more than he seems. Real estate is only part of the reason he’s in Australia–the other is to see Ren, and make amends somehow for the life lost. The last thing Cole expects is a woman whose humor, sweetness, and sexiness give him a rush greater than any he’s ever experienced…

Torn between her growing feelings for Cole and the risks of loving yet another adventurer, Ren will have to choose between keeping her feet on the ground… and taking the most dangerous leap of her life.

We have two copies of Robyn’s book to give away so grab a drink from Hoo, leave a comment and settle in to help us celebrate!

xxJackie

And the winners of the draw are Caroline and Julia!! Congrats guys, you get to take Cole home to bed for free!  Email robynthomasromance at gmail dot com for your prize!

 

 

Balancing Internal and External in Category

July 17th, 2012

Ahem…so…I wrote this article today and it turned out that wasn’t exactly what I was supposed to do. I’ll be taking part in a discussion on harlequin from July 23-27 for their book in three months course, and this is the topic I’ll be involved in! So here’s a little primer on balancing the internal conflict with the external plot:

I have to laugh when people say that writing category romance seems ‘easy’ because the books are so short. I try not to laugh in front of the people, because that’s rude, but it does make me laugh. The challenge of category romance is to deliver a read that’s as emotionally satisfying as a 100K words novel, and to do it in 50K.

A huge part of doing that successfully, is the find the balance between the external plot and conflict, and the romantic plot and internal conflict.

Now, different categories have a different ratio of internal to external. If you’re writing an Intrigue, a more complex external plot is essential to delivering on the promise of that line.

A line like Presents is based on the promise of delivering intense emotion, and in order to accomplish that in the tight word count, you need a tighter focus on the hero and heroine, and on the internal conflict.

The external conflict is typically what bring the hero and heroine together. The heroine wants her father’s business, but her father has sold it to the hero. The only way for her to get her hands on it again is to marry the hero. That external problem is what got her into the hero’s office to propose marriage, it’s the thing that will hold them together through the book.

The internal conflict is what keeps them apart. In a category romance the internal conflict is essential to building a relationship betwen the reader and the characters. A strong internal conflict, one that is based on real issues, will make us root for your hero and heroine to overcome it, and fine happiness and love.

Big misunderstandings, conflicts based on half-heard conversations or easily cleared up lies, can quickly just become a frustration. An abbreviated word count does NOT mean going light on the conflict, or choosing one that’s easily resolved.

Some lines, like Harlequin Romantic Suspense, run a bit longer (70-75K) and the line allows for more external. I asked HRS author Natalie Charles how she finds the balane in a line that clearly requires more from the external plot. Natalie said, “I try to use external suspense to drive internal conflict.”

Which, I think is fabulous advice to matter what you’re trying to write. To use the two different strands of conflict to advance each other.

Presents is one of the shorter lines, at 50K, and the balance between internal and external is heavily weighted toward the internal.

With my Presents, I tend to open with the external, since it’s what the entire set-up hinges on. Then as I go forward, the external starts to fall back and the internal conflict comes forward. I like to make sure the black moment is triggered by the internal conflict, and not external forces. This reinforces the fact that it was the internal keeping them apart all the time, and that the issue was real and an impediment to their happiness. (Ex: his mommy didn’t hug him and now he doesn’t trust emotion. But please not that. Something better than that.)

I have some quick tips for you on minding the internal/external balance in your MS. (This is like the pirate code. More like guidelines. There are times when drinking rum and twisting the ‘rules’ is the best option!)

1. Read the books in the line you’re aiming for. Get a sense for how established authors balance the two. Make an effort ot define which parts of the conflict are related to the external plot and which come from within the characters and effect the romance and happily ever after.

2. In the shorter categories you don’t need a subplot or a secondary story. You’ll just make your life hard.

3. Secondary characters will also make your life hard. Don’t fall back on using secondaries to resolve your hero and heroine’s problems. In category it typically works best to keep your h and H on the page together actively resolving issues between the two of them.

4. Keep your hero and heorine together, make sure you’re always advancing the romance. Even if it’s a scene focused on external plot, it should have an effect on the romantic relationship. Words are tight, and the romance needs to be the focus of the book because…it’s a romance!

5. The external plot should serve the romance, not the other way around. This goes along the lines of what Natalie said. Your characters and their romance are the most important thing. Don’t let them get lost in a plot, or in a haze of secondary characters, no matter how brilliant or entertaining. :)

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments!

 

Abbi to Magic Mike – Where’s the Beefy Hair?

July 13th, 2012

AKA Abbi’s Magic Mike Mash-up

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen Magic Mike and I won’t until at least late next week.

 

I have to say the Magic Mike phenomenon really confuses me. I understand watching men undress is really sexy and I can’t wait to see that aspect of the movie.

But, Matthew McConaughey? Seriously?

 

 

And Tatum Channing?

Nope. Not a chance. Where’s the hair, gentlemen?

 

Sorry, they don’t do it for me. And my dissatisfaction got me to thinking: Who would do it for me? I mean who would I think would be really hot doing a striptease?

It wasn’t easy to answer, that’s for sure. I mean, even my ‘go- to’ guys don’t appeal in a strip.

David Hewlett and Joe Flanigan

 

Chris Pine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zachary Quinto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry guys.

What about this mash-up/duo doing the Full Monty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Hardy and Jamie Bamber are really close. Yes a little bit of hair and masculinity does Abbi good.

It took me awhile to find that perfect who could bring a smile to my face if he showed up at my door in a bow tie ready to do a private dance for me.

He’s got the body hair I love and he knows how to get the girls . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

TED, I’m waiting for your personal strip-tease. :-)

Any votes on who else might be hot in a strip tease?

 

Abbi :-)

Robyn’s 2nd Quick Quirky Quiz

July 8th, 2012

Five nice and easy questions. *rethinks the nice, keeps the easy

There are no wrong answers! Just pop your first or silliest thoughts into a comment next to the numbers they relate to.

1. Sex or money? (You have two seconds to choose between a sexy guy and a billionaire… starting now!)

2. For whatever reason there are no beds available in your entire manuscript… name two alternatives

3. Your pet hate when it comes to endings

4. *confession :-) My heroes have been known to say “actually.” What would your hero NEVER say?

5. Best pairing of actors (male/female) EVER! Or… who you’d most like to see paired up.

 

That’s all. Quick and easy,

 

~ Robyn

Peek of the Week- sexy Santa

July 4th, 2012

I’m taking a quick break from trying to finish this dratted first draft (the one that keeps growing like a triffid and will NOT follow the nice neat outline I mapped out for it!) to bring you this week’s Peek.

Even though it’s July, there may be a touch of Christmas about it.

My hero, Nick, based on British soap actor Kevin Sacre, is an ex-child star, working as guest Santa in a London department store for a lark.

So here he is. I think he’s kinda cute, and so does my heroine!


Photo from TV Throng

Even though he doesn’t actually take his clothes off in the story (it’s a Sweet), here’s the obligatory shirtless shot, with a little more chest hair than we’re used to.


Photo from Famtic

Gotta love that grin!


Photo from ATG Tickets

And here’s Santa! Oops, my bad, somehow he took his shirt off again! His New Year’s Resolution is to go to the gym. But right now he has far more interesting things to do, like giving bah-humbug store accountant Cara the best Christmas of her life, and finding things get far more complicated than a few fun dates, especially when kisses under the mistletoe get involved.


Photo from Now magazine

Who’s your current hero inspiration?
Autumn

Manuscript Monogamy – is it for you?

July 3rd, 2012

If manuscripts were men then I’d say one ought to be enough – the right one, obviously :-) But since manuscripts are a sign of your creative processes being hard at work, I say the more the merrier.

Manuscripts are interchangeable – you can’t cheat on yourself with another of your own creations!

It can be difficult to set aside a project you’re emotionally attched to, and invested in, in order to concentrate on something else, but there are times when you’ll need to. Writing one manuscript whilst editing another and plotting a third will be necessary some days! (or someday…)

Minimising downtime becomes a necessity when you have a lot of projects on your plate. Trial and error is a necessary part of every new system, but there will inevitably be decisions to be made. If listening to a particular song is enough to centre you then you’re in luck… play it and write! If it takes longer then you’ll probably want to minimise how often you swap projects, and utilise pre-writing time to get your mind into your ms. Any time you spend re-reading, setting the scene, plotting with your hands on the keyboard, making coffee, listening to music etc is not going to add to your word count – at least not in the short term.

So here are some time-cheats you might like to try: plot whilst doing housework, listen to your ms soundtrack in the car, jot down the closing sentence – or email it to yourself – so you know what you’ll write next before your writing session starts.  If you must read over what you last wrote then do it while your tea brews, or improvise and glance at a printout while you queue up somewhere. Stealing time can be oddly satisfying and I thoroughly recommend it!

If you need to concentrate on one project but are drawn to another then reward yourself with a set time on the “bonus” one. Some kind of system where you write for two hours and edit another ms for one might be just the ticket. Mix it up, and see what you’re happiest and most productive with!!

Happy writing, one thing or many, and please share your time-cheats and juggling systems.

~ Robyn