(The following is an article I did for a now-defunct magazine. It now appears a bit dated because it was written in 1998, but still viable, I think.)

Is there any horror movie fan alive today who doesn’t know the basic theme of the mummy movie? For that rare individual, I’ll sum it up here: in ancient Egypt, boy loves girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to revive girl and is buried alive for his trouble. Several millennia later, boy (now mummy) is resurrected and tries to reclaim reincarnated girl who is saved by present day lover/fiance/husband, and mummy is reduced to a dust-bunny. This is the usual pattern. There may be a few movies which have a different story frame, but the basic theme is always the same: a being striving for reincarnation and immortality with a loved one.

How can anyone be afraid of a mummy?” I was asked. “All he can do is lumber around, dragging one leg! If he tripped, he’d topple over and be as helpless as a turtle on its back!” True, perhaps, but anyone unlucky enough to get within reach of those grasping fingers was definitely a goner, and is there anything more chilling (or frightening) than a thing that comes slowly, steadily, inexorably onward, never stopping or even slowing down its progress in spite of bullets, bombs, and grenades?--a creature seemingly indestructible who, no matter how many times it appears to be destroyed, still recovers and continues once more toward its assigned goal? There’s also something incredibly sad--and mysterious--about those bandage-wrapped bodies, preserved for all eternity, silently waiting in their cold, stone tombs, or in a sealed glass museum case, for their souls--their Kas--to return to reunite with them....

That was the feeling I had when I went to the King Tut Exhibit in L.A a couple of years ago. Being a Tut-ophile from the word "GO"--or before that, even--and owning several books on the most famous Pharoah ever, I felt this tremendous sadness that he had died so young, before ever realizing whatever potential he might have had, leaving an even younger wife, and an empire which was destined to be returned to its previous polytheism by the man who is now believed to be his grandfather. Speculate on what Tutankhamun might have done had he lived past the age of seventeen. Think about the fact that the only thing this deceased young man is famous for is having died!

But I digress, as they say (and they say that a lot!) Today, I'm writing about mummy movies, not actual mummies, so kindly go back and quickly re-read the first two paragraphs. I'll wait.

Finished? That was quick! Now, that should get us into the proper spirit! All Set? Good! Let’s start with the Granddaddy of ‘em all: Universal’s 1932 thriller, THE MUMMY. With a few strains of Tschaikovsky’s Swan Lake and an explanation about the Egyptian Scroll of Life, we’re off! EGYPT, 1927: Sir Joseph Whemple (Arthur Byron) and Dr. Muller (Edward Van Sloan, he of Dr. Van Helsing, DRACULA fame), members of the British Museum’s Field Expedition, uncover a mysterious box containing an even more mysterious scroll, and an unmarked casket, its occupant showing signs of having been buried alive. Disobeying Dr. Muller and translating the scroll, an assistant goes stark raving mad, while mummy and scroll vanish. Cut to SECOND EXPEDITION, 1932: Sir Joseph, his son, Frank (David Manners), and Dr. Muller are at it again; this time, they find the tomb of Ankhesenamun, daughter of Amenophis IV, with the help of Egyptian Ardath Bey (Boris Karloff) who mysteriously appears with a relic from the tomb and shows them exactly where to dig! Egad, sir! Frank meets Helen Grovesnor (Zita Johann), who has been displaying odd behavior, such as trying to break into the Museum of Antiquities at night. Ardath Bey awakens dormant memories in Helen. In his home, she gazes into a mysterious pool and see the tragedy that unfolded thousands of years before: Imhotep (also Karloff) loved Ankhesenamun but they were forbidden to marry because she was a priestess of Isis. When Ankhesenamun died, Imhotep stole the Scroll of Life in order to revive her but was discovered, and condemned to be buried alive, along with the scroll. When the assistant at Sir Joseph’s earlier dig translated the scroll, he aaccidentally resurrected Imhotep, who now poses as Ardath Bey. Helen is the incarnation of his beloved. In the nights that follow, Ankhesenamun’s mummy is stolen from the museum, Helen’s guarddog is killed, and Sir Joseph dies under odd circumstances. Threatening to kill Frank, Ardath Bey forces Helen to accompany him to a chamber where he plans to perform a ceremony which will restore Ankhesenamun to him. Briefly possessed by the Princess’s spirit, Helen submits until Frank and Dr. Muller break in. She prays to a statue of Isis for help, and the goddess points her ankh at Ardath Bey, reducing him to the crumbling dust he really is, freeing Helen from the curse and sending her into Frank’s arms. Though the dialogue is stilted and formal by today’s standards, everyone had an upper class British accent, and the soundtrack has that oddly muffled quality that a good many movies of the 30's seem to possess, THE MUMMY holds up well, the desert sequences having an authenticity that makes one wonder if they were actually documentary footage, and the costumes and frescoes in the ancient sequences are realistically detailed. (An interesting sidelight is that Amenophis IV, Ankhesenamun, and Imhotep were actual people: Imhotep is credited with being the achitect who drew the plans for the Great Pyramid, Amenophis IV became the monotheistic heretic Ikhnaten, who is alternately believed to be either the half-brother or father of Tutankhamun, and Ankhesenamun, Amenophis' daughter, was the wife of Tutankhamun.)

THE MUMMY was received enthusiastically by viewers and, with the earlier profitable acceptance of DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN, Universal was encouraged to produce another mummy film: THE MUMMY’S HAND (1940), which introduced ill-fated lovers Kharis and Ananka to the movie-going world. The story was basically the same, only this time, Kharis (‘30's cowboy actor, Tom Tyler) is kept in stasis by a group of priests who brew sacred tana leaves to revive him whenever Ananka’s tomb is threatened. This time, the heroes are two Americans archaeologists stranded in Cairo, Steve Banning (Dick Foran) and Babe Jensen (Wallace Ford). There’s more action, the dialogue’s snappier and more natural, with plenty of quips and (now dated) slang, the characters more brash and happy-go-lucky (this was, after all, just prior to World War II, and as everyone knows, Americans of that time period were confident, devil-may-care, and always got the girl!) Unable to get funding for excavation of an unknown tomb, Steve and Babe, a glib, inverterate conman, meet Marta Solvani (Peggy Moran) and her father (Cecil Kellaway), a traveling magician from Brooklyn (!), and soon are up to their boottops in mummies and nefarious high priests. They pool their resources to open the tomb but high priest Andoheb (George Zucco) unleashes Kharis to stop it. Kharis menaces the girl and is immolated during a fight within the tomb when a fire is started. Mummy goes up in smoke (watch the dust fly from the wrappings when Kharis and Steve fight!), high priest is killed, Steve gets Marta, and Ananka and her treasures are shipped to the U.S., with Babe making a few wisecracks to bring the film to a laughing close, all formulaic but entertaining.

THE MUMMY’S HAND was followed in quick succession by The MUMMY’S TOMB (1942), THE MUMMY’S GHOST (1944), and THE MUMMY’S CURSE (1944), and by that time, the Mummy was probably cursing a-plenty!. Though each story added some new element, otherwise they were almost identical, only the names of the actors changing: Kharis (Lon Chaney), his guardian high priest(John Carradine, Turhan Bey, Martin Kosleck, Peter Coe) who usually gets killed by Kharis when he decides he wants the girl for himself, the current incarnation of Ananka (Elyse Knox,Virginia Christine, Ramsay Ames), and the hero (John Hubbard, Robert Lowery, Dennis Moore). With THE MUMMY’S TOMB, the locale switches from Egypt to the U.S--to the town where Ananka and her treasures were sent. This sequel was a little unusual in that it immediately killed off the cast from the original film: Marta is already dead when the story opens, Steve and Babe are dispatched soon after by the marauding Kharis, as is Steve’s sister, leaving his son to fight the mummy alone, which he does--and successfully--in proper hero-fashion, until the next sequel. (I have been told that the 1993 video of this movie omits the scene where actress Mary Gordon is murdered, but have not viewed this actual version myself--I've seen the dastardly deed.)

The main difference in THE MUMMY’S GHOST is that this is the one time that Kharis actually gets the girl! After the required mayhem and terrorization by Kharis, she carried into a swamp. As they get farther and father away from civilization, she begins to transform into Ananka, only to perish when Kharis sinks into the quicksand . In THE MUMMY’S CURSE, set twenty-five years later, Kharis finds himself in the Louisiana bayou (utilizing the set left over from SON OF DRACULA, perhaps?) where he does his usual amount of mayhem before once more being dispatched.

After this, Kharis was silent for a while, content to lie in his sarcophagus and rest until disturbed (as Klaris) by ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE MUMMY, in 1955, a film critics have panned mercilessly. It is so bad, the legend goes, that the actor playing the Mummy asked to be left out of the credits! Nevertheless, I liked it, but what do I know?--I was only thirteen at the time! Besides, I thought that anything Abbott and Costello did was hilarious!

Once again, the Mummy was allowed to rest, and then, a new film company burst upon the scene, the British filmmaking scene, that is. Hammer Films set about re-making the classics and re-furbishing their monsters, and good ol’ Kharis was included--in 1959, THE MUMMY, with Christopher Lee as Kharis, Peter Cushing as John, and Yvonne Furneaux as Ananka. This time around, it is the hero who has the limp, a result of refusing to have a broken leg properly tended because he didn’t want to miss the opening of the Princess’ tomb! Most of the action takes place on a murky, misty English estate--with the majority of Hammer’s “repertory company” included as cast--and Kharis once again meets a watery “death” in a local bog. This was the first film in color; it was well-acted, atmospheric and as “goosebumpy” and violent as all the other Hammer Films. This was followed a few years later by CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964), which involved not Kharis, but twin Princes of Egypt, one of whom murders the other and is then sentenced to immortality until he is slain by his victim. Terence Morgan, Ronald Howard (not Opie, but the son of the late actor Leslie Howard), Jeanne Roland, and Fred Clark (as a PT Barnum-like entrepeneur who wants to take the mummy to the States) star.

BRAM STOKER’S THE MUMMY (1997) is a straight-to-video film (A-Pix Entertainment) adapted from Stoker’s novel “The Jewel of the Seven Stars”, which had been remade twice previously as BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1971) and THE AWAKENING (1980) (neither seen by this writer), and features more familiar faces. This one opens in August, 1947, then jumps to the present in Marin County, California. Abel Trelawny (Lloyd Bochner) is stricken in his home by unknown forces after he receives half of a mysterious clay tablet in the mail. His daughter, Margaret (Amy Locane), asks ex-lover and art historian, Robert Wyatt (Eric Lutes) for help. When Wyatt arrives at the Trelawny estate, he finds the usual strange goings-on: Abel has left unusual but specific orders about what is to be done if he is injured, people are attacked inside locked rooms, blood seeps out of air ducts, the servants desert en masse, and the head of security, Daws (Mark Lindsay-Chapman). hints that Margaret is behind it all. Something is buried under a ton of sand in the basement; it disinters itself and lurks behinds a set of bedsprings, dispatching two servants who poke around with a little blackmail in mind. Wyatt enlists the help of his friend Bryce Renard (Richard Karns, trying to rid himself of his “flannel man” HOME IMPROVEMENT image by playing a museum curator and ardent but good-natured womanizer) but Bryce is electrocuted when lightning strikes the phone booth he is in as he desperately tries to warn Wyatt of danger. Finding John Corbeck(Louis Gossett, Jr.), Abel’s partner in his archaeological digs, he brings him to the mansion and there, the pieces finally fall into place. Corbeck explains that he and Abel found the tomb of Queen Tera, of whom legend stated that she was murdered by her priests because she was too popular with the people. In reality, Tera arranged to cheat death and the priests by having her personal physicians mummify her, burying the “Jewel of the Seven Stars” with her. When the seven stars are in alignment and certain rituals are performed, Tera will come back to life with the aid of the jewel. Over the years, Corbeck and Abel dismantled Tera’s tomb and its contents, shipping them piece-by-piece to his home, where they were reassembled. Insisting Margaret be present, Corbeck opens the tomb, the stars align, and they unwrap the mummy revealing a living woman inside the bandages. Corbeck goes insane and is killed by Tera, who then melds with Margaret. In the last scene, Wyatt and Margaret are leaving on their honeymoon when Margaret gives the Jewel of the Seven Stars to her father as a going-away present. The story ends with Wyatt, alone in a hotel room with his new wife, suddenly realizing that Margaret and Tera have become one.

Of the three Mummy films produced within the past two years, RUSSELL MULCAHY’S TALE OF THE MUMMY (also known as TALOS THE MUMMY) (Dimension Home Video, 1998), is more like a police thriller than a horror story. Fast-moving, it starts quickly, and has an ending with a twist (and several more in between).

SCENE: Egypt (of course), 1948. Sir Richard Turkel (Christopher Lee, on the other side of the bandages for a change) and his expedition open the tomb of Talos, a heretical Greek exile, ignoring the Usual and Customary warnings and curses. (One wonders what would happen if they did heed them! Well, for one thing, we wouldn't have much of a movie!) A brisk wind is released, and Something Else, which quickly dispatches the three archaeologists in an unusual but gruesome manner but not before Sir Richard manages to detonate a load of TNT and re-seal the tomb. NEXT SCENE: 1999, same place, same tomb, different Turkel. Sir Richard’s granddaughter, Sam (Louise Lombard), reopens the tomb. Their environmentally-safe equipment notwithstanding, her fiance dies while recovering a medallion hanging from a ledge and others, particularly Bradley Contese (Sean Pertwee), are affected by varying forms of hysteria. SWITCH TO: London, seven months later. All that remains of Talos--his funeral wrappings--is displayed in situ in his open stone sarcophagus. Now, the action really starts! Blackout, broken windows, guard killed, mummy wrappings disappear. Dead man’s eyes are missing. Other deaths occur, including a visiting U.S. Senator and a Seeing-Eye dog. Sam and the expedition’s doctor, Claire Mulrooney (Lysette Anthony as a Hillary Clinton lookalike--Attention, Studio Heads: if you ever do a movie about the Clintons, look up this lady!) offer to help. By this time, Brad is Off the Deep End, shaving his head and tattooing it with sacred symbols. With the aid of psychic Edith Butrose (Shelley DuVall) he tries to prevent one death and gets himself arrested. At the station house, he and the interrogating officer are killed. The investigating officer (Jason Scott Lee), an Asian-American named Riley (!) assigned to the U.S. Embassy, learns Talos’ history: tired of the Dirty Doings and Debauchery in the palace, Pharaoh sent his men to dispatch his son-in-law, but Talos’ followers beat him to it. They kill their Master and devour his major organs (eyes, lungs, etc.) to keep them safe until he can rise again and reclaim them! When the tomb was opened, Talos’ spirit escaped. With the major alignment of three planets (just about to happen--what a coincidence!) if Talos can find his organs, he will live again. Those who were killed (even the dog?) are the reincarnations of his original murderers. Sam, they believe, is the reincarnation of Talos’ wife, Nefriana, who ate his heart (ugh!). When she is kidnapped, a search through an abandoned building reveals who’s who and what’s what. Influenced by Talos, Professor Marcus (Michael Lerner) kills Edith. Dr. Mulrooney then kills the Professor when he manages to throw off Talos’ spell. When Riley arrives, though he and Sam have fallen in love (this movie is only 100 minutes long, so that kind of relationship happens fast!), he shoots her in the heart to damage it so it will be of no use to Talos. Then he learns the Awful Truth: It isn’t Sam who is Nefriana’s reincarnation, but Riley himself! Talos kills Riley, the doctor does a little cardiac surgery and his heart is inserted into the mummy’s body, just as the planets slip into alignment. Watching Talos become fully human, Dr. Mulrooney uses her cell phone to call the police and confess to the murders. As she is led away, a laughing lunatic, Riley/Talos makes his way into the modern world.

The use of just the mummy wrappings instead of a total body is a novel but eerie effect. This is one monster who doesn’t stumble about! At first, looking like nothing more than a handful of ragged strips, they scuttle around like a cloth spider (and everybody knows how scary spiders are!)--across ceilings, under doors, inside walls, and through floors, wrapping themselves around victims, enveloping automobiles, forming into a fist to smash a windshield. As each organ is reclaimed, they gain shape, becoming more manlike with each death. There is more suggestion of gore and violence than is actually shown but this only adds to the suspense.

Released to movie theatres in 1999, Universal’s latest version of THE MUMMY was a special effects extravaganza and a thoroughly enjoyable fun. Think “INDIANA JONES MEETS THE MUMMY”! Rick O’Connell, an American adventurer (Brendan Fraser) rescued from an Egyptian jail, and Evelyn (Rachel Weicz) an English librarian living in Cairo, along with her inept Egyptologist brother Jonathan (John Hannah), set out to find a lost city. They succeed, but bring back more than they bargained for. The formula is still there, but the way it is presented is engrossing and exciting. This mummy (Arnold Vosloo) is no staggering hulk but is mobile, intelligent, cunning, and--yes, admit it!--sexy! If it weren’t for his nasty habit of reverting to his actual crumbly self on occasion, and killing people in such unpleasant ways, one would be tempted to choose him over the hero. The flashback scenes showing Imhotep’s crimes (he and Anck-Su-Namun kill the Pharoah, then she commits suicide, confident that he will revive her but before he can, he is arrested and buried alive), as well as the episodes in the tomb when Anck-Su-Namun is finally resuscitated, are filled with so many special effects that one barely knows which to watch! It’s a fast-paced adventure, that doesn’t slow down a moment, from the first attack by the desert tribesmen who protect the lost city to the final confrontation in the tomb itself.

Two sequels to this film, THE MUMMY RETURNS and THE SCORPION KING, followed. If seen in the correct order, THE SCORPION KING should be seen first. Staring The Rock, it's the tale of the first Pharoah (who, according to the History Channel, actually existed) and his life a la Conan the Barbarian before he became king. In THE MUMMY RETURNS, which occurs some years after the first movie, Rick and Evelyn have married and have a precocious son who's as devious as his uncle Jonathan, and as adventurous as his father. Evelyn is discovered to have been the Pharoah's daughter and Anck-Su-Namun's enemy and gets to fight her both in ancient Egypt and when she's reincarnated. More revivied Egyptian soldiers, chases through pyramids and across deserts, the guardian tribesmen reappear, and Imhotep's arch-enemy and nemesis, the Scorpion King, also brought back through magic, rises to save the day!

Well, that’s it: end of guided tour through Mummyland! (I’ve heard rumors of a straight-to-video THE NEW ADVENTURES OF LAUREL & HARDY which spoofs the mummy movies, but have no other details yet.)

Hope this little excursion was interesting and not a dry and dusty (excuse the pun!) trip!

(NOTE: The films in this survey are those with which the author has a personal acquaintance. Undoubtedly others exist, both in the U.S., and elsewhere, but those will be excluded because they have not been reviewed by this writer and she therefore has no knowledge of them.)

The Virginia Romance Writers will be at Barnes & Noble #2029

11640 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA, 23233

Saturday, February 9, 4:00 PM

Meet the Virginia Romance Writers!

Mary Burton
Donna Dalton
Jenny Gardiner
Shara Lanel
Sammie Jo Moresca
Sherry Morris
Sapphire Phelan
Monti Sikes
Natale Stenzel

Interview- Merline Lovelace

Posted by Misc. Muse | 10:17 AM | 7 comments »

Merline Lovelace is retired Lt. Col. from the Air Force. She was stationed many places included Viet Nam. She was commander of the Women's Squadron at Eglin AFB, FL - that is where I met her. I remember her as outgoing personality and energy. After she retired from the Air Force, she chose to have a writing career. She is married, her husband is also a retired Lt. Col. They live in Oklahoma.


When and why did you begin writing?

I've always been an avid reader. I worked part-time in libraries all through high school and college. At one point, I thought about becoming a librarian. Then I toyed with the idea of opening a bookshop -- kinda like a chocaholic opening a candy store.

When I retired from the Air Force in 1991, tho, the idea of working out of my own home, setting my own hours, and NOT being responsible for payroll or personnel was toooooo tempting to resist. So I decided to try my hand at writing books instead of selling them.

I knew I'd made the right choice the first time it snowed. There I was in my sweats, sipping hot chocolate and lost in a fantasy world with my characters while the rest of the working world slipped and slid down the hill on the slick roads!

What inspired you to write your first book?

I love history and had once walked along Hadrian's Wall in northern England on a cold, misty April morning. I didn't know then I'd become an author, but when I decided to write, I thought that would be a perfect setting for a historical novel that featured a Roman centurion and a fiery Celtic queen. I loved being able to combine my insights as an officer and leader with that fantastic setting.

The title of that book was ALENA. It was still circulating to editors and agents when I wrote a couple of contemporary romantic suspense novels that again drew on my military experiences. They sold first, and ALENA soon followed.

How many books have you written?

I'm working on number 71 now and still having a ball! My husband and I love to travel, so I'm always researching historical sites or exotic settings. I've got at least another 70 books swirling around in my head

Tell us your latest news.

I'm particularly excited about two new projects. I'm doing a series called HOLIDAYS ABROAD for Silhouette Desire that debuts in November 2008. I'm having a blast setting sizzling romances in some of the wonderful places I've visited over the years.

I'm also excited about a time-travel series I'm doing with my fellow RomVets. RomVets is a group of romance authors who have also served on active duty in the military. Lindsay McKenna and I proposed a series of time-travels to Silhouette Nocturne and are thrilled that we're getting to do the first four books with fellow vets PC Cast and Cindy Dees.

What is your daily writing routine?

I'm a morning person, so I'm up with the sun and write until mid-afternoon. Later, if I'm on deadline. Somewhere in there I'll take a short break for a power bar and a work-out on the treadmill.

Between books, I try to take several weeks to a month off to travel and recharge my batteries. That's when I get ideas for new books, whip up proposals, and zing them off to agent and editors.

Who and what has influenced your writing?

Without question, my military background is the single biggest influence on my writing. My heroines tend to reflect my personality -- they're adventurous and eager to travel to exotic places.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about his/her work?

I got hooked on Georgette Heyer 'way back in college. I've read all her books so many times the pages are falling out of my copies. I *love* her incredible characterization -- the hero and heroines come alive in every book.

Among present day authors, Nora Roberts is also a master when it comes to crafting really great characters. I especially enjoy Eve Dallas and the hunky Roark.

Since I write plot-driven action books I have to really work at the characterization. Heyer and Roberts have helped me immensely in that area.

Any advice for other writers?

Finish the current masterpiece-in-progress, zing off a bunch of queries, and get to work on the next! I know too many aspiring authors who polish the life out of their stories by trying to make them letter perfect. Can't be done. And you'll never sell if you don't get your work out there. I had dozens of queries floating around when I sold my first book.

Plus, you learn with every book. I certainly did. So just write, write, write!

Skybus is a newer airline that offers the first 10 seats available on each plane for $10.00. (Yes, $10.00.)

Currently, their hubs are located in Columbus, Ohio, and Greensboro, North Carolina. The airline flies direct to many cities across the U.S.

Check out their website at skybus.com, and sign up for their email updates.

Happy flying!

Dress for the Job and More?

Posted by Mary Marvella | 4:44 PM | 8 comments »

I've read articles and attended workshops that advise us to dress for the job we want. Since some multi-published authors and people who work from home work in their sweats and /or pajamas, maybe we can use something else to help us pretend to be what we want or to have what we want.

I do recommend changing into clothes that mean it's time to write or work, even if you put on cleaner sweats. You can still be comfortable. Even combing hair and adding a touch of lip gloss can make a woman feel more ready to face the world.

I'm stealing parts of this from a workshop I attended at RWA National in Dallas last summer.

Why not do the positive things published authors and other professionals do?

Professionals sign contracts and we do want to do that! Why not compose contracts for the sales we want to make? You could fill in the blanks for the dream contract you want or you could sign that contract with yourself. Look at that contract and think about how much you want to replace it with a real one!

Professionals get paid! We can pay ourselves. Yes we can! Write yourself checks, even of you print them yourself. Sign them with the name of the publisher you want. ( Not to be cashed, of course) Pay yourself with things you want that make you feel better. You could make coupons and certificates for things you want. BUT you must pay yourself for working.

Make up book covers for the books you want to sell and display them. Yes, put the titles and your pen name and your dream publisher. If you are good with graphics be as fancy as you want.

People who aren't writers might create awards they want!

Give yourself realistic deadlines, because professionals in any field work on deadlines.

Make a schedule, even a loose one. I'm not into schedules but I really need to set time for writing on new things, editing old things and just plain old writing for fun.

Spend time with people who do what you do. People in industry spend time with people in that industry in professional situations. We can do that with chapter meetings, conferences, critique groups, and on line. (I spend way too much time on the last one, but it helps keep me up on trends and in touch with professionals I might not otherwise meet in person.

We can socialize with others in our field, see the above. Each of these can allow us to socialize with people who understand our challenges and successes.

Professionals research and we must do that! Professional magazines, Writer's Digest and Romance Writers Report, provide tons of information about the industry.

What can you suggest?

Quote for the Day

Posted by Nightingale | 4:03 PM | 1 comments »

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.

Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

Nope. It's called Rouladen. And it's delicious. One of those wonderful stews that takes what appears to be a contrary list of ingredients and somehow, with a little time, manages to become something wonderful. My Austrian grandmother used to make it. She was one of those cooks who made everything without a recipe, so a couple decades ago my aunt stood over her, night after night, for months, at the stove, writing down everything she did. The recipe I'm giving you is the one from my grandmother's “cookbook”-- a binder of Xeroxed pages that every household in the family has squirreled away in their kitchen. The only difference is I’ve added a little chicken broth instead of the traditional Depression era water.

I made a huge vat of it over Christmas for a family dinner—enough for 12 hungry adults because I wanted leftovers -- and the eight of us, with eight different dietary preferences, nearly licked the platter clean. Even my sister, who isn't much for beef, chowed down. It’s that good. Some cooks make it rolled (hence the name, "rouladen") with sour kraut and bacon inside, but I don't like it that way. I make the unrolled version with just the pickles. (Which, I admit, I don't actually eat. I end up with a pile on my plate. But the sauce! Yum!)

So, here it is. Roulanden.

1-1/2 lbs beef round or London broil cut in ¼ inch thick strips. Most butchers will cut it for you. If you’re in a neighborhood where there are German residents, they'll know what rouladen is. If not, tell them you're making brigole (sp?), the Italian stew.
1 regular old yellow onion cut in strips or diced. Whatever. About a half cup.
Dijon mustard
Dill pickles—not kosher or anything fancy. Just your cheap, supermarket brand dills.
No salt added chicken broth. Or low salt if you can’t find the former. Or a mixture of beef and chicken broth. Do not add all beef broth or it will taste as if it came from a can. Ick.
Token amounts of vegetable oil, pepper, flour.

What to do: Pat the meat dry with paper towels, brush with Dijon mustard on one side and sprinkle on a little black pepper. Brown meat on both sides in a little vegetable oil. Remove. Brown onions. Deglaze pan (scrape up brown bits) with a couple cups of broth.

At this stage, you can either dump everything into casserole and throw into a 325 oven. Or put the beef back in the pan, plop on a lid and leave simmering on low on the stove top. After 45 minutes or so, slice the pickles in quarters—3 or 4 pickles depending on size—you should have a good handful or two. Add to sauce. Continue cooking for another30-45 minutes or until beef is tender.
Serve with rice or dumplings. Green beans and carrots go well with this. The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled (As I did recently. I browned up a beef bone and threw it in for flavoring. Hey, it was a dinner party. You go the extra mile.)


--Liz Jasper.

Liz Jasper is the author of the 2008 EPPIE Award nominated cozy vampire mystery, UNDERDEAD. http://www.lizjasper.com/.


Posted by Sandra Cox | 12:41 PM | 8 comments »

Eternally Yours Contest

Posted by Sandra Cox | 12:34 PM | | 3 comments »

Eternally Yours Contest
What could you spend an eternity doing? What is your passion? Your hunger? Your deepest desire? Each day beginning February 5 and running through February 14 one of the ten authors will complete the line, "My darling I could spend eternity…" on either their blog or website. Collect all ten answers and e-mail them to anny@annycook.com with Eternally Yours in the subject line to win some hot, romantic books. There will be three lucky Valentine winners.
The prizes –1st prize--5 books
2nd prize--3 books
3rd prize--2 books
Entries must be in by February 16 at midnight EST. All books and prize winners will be drawn randomly.
Elyssa Edwards Mating Stone
Mona Risk To Love a Hero
Brynn Paulin Tribute for the Goddess
N.J. Walters Seduction of Shamus O'Rourke
Amarinda Jones Shades of Gray
Sandra Cox Silverhills
Bronwyn Green Mystic Circle
Cindy Spencer Pape Stone and Earth
Anny Cook Honeysuckle
Kelly Kirch Time for Love

The ramrod absently smoothed his mustache. Something wasn’t right. The boy was hiding something. He could smell it. And the last thing he needed was trouble on this drive.

Cookie glanced at the foreman’s set face and the boy’s belligerent one and interjected hastily, “You know, Mr. Wade, I could sure use some help.”

The foreman’s eyes bore into the youth. The boy stared back, his thumbs hooked in his belt. The silence stretched between them, broken only by the lapping river and the monotonous croaking of a bullfrog on its banks.

He’s one of the handsomest men I’ve ever seen, Alexandria thought irrelevantly. The man was well over six foot with wide shoulders and a hard-muscled body that his shirt and chaps did little to disguise. His face alone would send a spinster’s heart aflutter, with thick tawny hair and cool green eyes. A mustache accented his thin lips.

Finally, Brandon said, “What’s your name, kid?”

Alexandria paused for a heartbeat then extended her hand and gave him her childhood nickname. “Alex, Alex O’Malley.”

The foreman gripped it, his hand engulfing hers. If Wade noticed the brief hesitation, he kept it to himself. “Those hands are a bit on the small side, soft too. But I guess as long as they can hold a rope, they’ll do. Pay is thirty-five dollars a month.”

Hi Fuzzy readers,

(Yes, I’ll come up with a better salutation ASAP), happy Friday! If your weather’s anywhere near as rotten as it is in California right now (and by rotten I mean it is raining here, so the rest of you should have your ears perking right about now) you’ll want to spend a good chunk of the weekend curled up with a good book. Like Lady Iona’s Rebellion by Dorothy McFalls, who I'm delighted to have with us today. Dorothy is giving away a magnet to one of the people who leave a comment, so leave one and check back tomorrow to see if you've won!

1) Dorothy, Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Lady Iona's

Lady Iona's Rebellion is a Regency-set romance set in Bath, England. It was published by Cerridwen Press in June 2007 and is currently available in ebook format. Hopefully, a print version will be released near the end of this year.

Lady Iona was a secondary characters from a previous book that simply wouldn't leave me alone until her story was told. At first, I thought she was a quiet, innocent heroines, the kind that often graces the pages of Regency romances. However, once I got into the meat of the manuscript, Iona kidnapped my plot and proved she wasn't content to sit on the sidelines and let the men in her life make the decisions for her. Indeed, she turned Out to be a sensual young lady with a sharp mind and she wasn't afraid to Use it! My poor hero, Lord Nathan Wynter, didn't know what kind of trouble He was getting himself into when he decided to set his cap for Lady Iona with the hopes of making her his wife.

The story begins when Lady Iona's father pressures her into accepting a husband of his choosing. Desperate to avoid a marriage she doesn't want, Lady Iona seeks out the notorious rake, Lord Nathan Wynter, for his help in learning how to standup for herself.

However, while Iona is seeking adventure, Lord Nathan is doing his honest best to reform his ways in order to repair his reputation and his disastrous relationship with his family. Winning the very proper Lady Iona for a wife would go a long way to achieving that end. Yet, the more he tries to protect Lady Iona from running head-long into disgrace, the more he grows to admire her daring spirit and unpredictable antics. Instead of returning her to the obedient world to which she was raised, he encourages her blossoming passions. Such a move is surely going to lead them both to ruin. But for love he is willing to risk everything.

Lady Iona's Rebellion was a fantastic book to write. It's one of those books, with a wonderfully twisty plot, that kept this writer on her toes. I kept writing myself into corners and had the darndest time writing myself out of them! And I've been tickled with the glowing reviews it's received so far, including a rating of a Perfect 10! from Romance Reviews Today. Not only that, Coffee Time Romance declared that the book "sizzles."

2) What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

Multipublished author, Carolyn Davidson, who writes Western romances For Harlequin shared with me a piece of advice a novelist had given her when she was just starting out. She told me, "Only one short sentence. It was offered to me as a guarantee, and I believed it because it made sense to me. It still does. 'If you want to be a writer, you have to write. Not just when the mood hits you, but on a regular basis.'"

I have learned over the years how true that is! Write and the rest will come. You didn't sell that last manuscript? Keep writing. It will come.

3) How did you get started as a writer?

From my earliest memories, I have wanted to be a fiction writer. But because of unsupportive English teachers in secondary school, I didn't have much confidence in my writing ability by the time I entered college. And I had other passions, too. As a result, my background is wildlife biology and environmental urban planning. Still, I wrote for my own enjoyment. Simply enjoying the stories forming in my head, never sharing them with anyone else. It wasn't until I was facing my 31th birthday that I decided it was time I followed my dream. I immediately set to work on a manuscript with my sights set on publication. Five finished manuscripts later, my dream was finally realized when I sold my debut Regency romance to Signet. And the rest, as they say, is history.

4) What’s the view from your desk as you write?

Words. Words. And more words.

Oh, that's not the answer you were expecting? You should have. I'm a writer. I stare at words most of the day. And, more often than not, I delete them.

Gracious, you mean when I look up from my work-in-progress? I see. Hmm...let me take a second to look around me. Well, to the left of my desk is the Atlantic Ocean and to the right is the salt marsh. I'm extremely lucky to live on a barrier island in South Carolina. It's not much more than a narrow spit of sand, but I love it here.

And yet, I take the natural scenery around me for granted. What I usually ever see for hours on end (that is, when I'm not staring at the words on my page) is the white wall behind the computer screen. Or sometimes, on those exceptional days, the top of my desk as I beat my head against it. Writing doesn't always come easy for me. I often feel as if I'm fighting to pull out each and every word from my wandering brain. I've taken to setting a timer and writing as fast as I can without thought to story or words lately,just to get something down on the page for me to revise. I usually set the timer for 15 minutes and try to write without stop until the buzzer bizzes.Then, slightly nervous about what I've done yet excited since I've actually accomplished something, I take a break and take my puppy out with me into the garden.

5) It’s Friday, thank goodness. What’s your perfect weekend?

I'm afraid I'm perfectly boring most of the time, especially on the
weekend.My perfect weekend is spent lounging in bed with my husband while reading or watching old movies on TV. And because we don't want to move from the warm nest of our bed's covers, we call out for delivery. Our favorite is to order from the local deli, The Dolphin Deli, for mouth-watering Panini sandwiches. Now that's the life!

Thank you, Liz for this interview. It was fun to do!

Thanks for being here at the Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers, Dorothy! : ) For those of you who want to read this wonderful book, here are some links:

Dorothy's Website: http://www.dorothymcfalls.com/
Dorothy's Myspace Page: www.myspace.com/dorothymcfalls.
Lady Iona's Rebellion Cerridwen Press Page:

By Mona Risk

My book is for sale at Cerridwen Press.

How am I feeling? Excited and happy? Yes, but…anxious, nervous, freaking, a whole gamut of emotions I never expected to feel.

So how am I welcoming my first book? I am talking about it non stop. To whoever wants to hear me, read me, blog me…

And I am doing my best to promote it.

I sent an article about TO LOVE A HERO to RWA secretary who liked it so much, she asked me if she could use it in her local chapter newsletter. She also interviewed me. I don’t know when the interview will appear. I also sent it to my local FRW chapter newsletter.

Last week, THE week the book was due, I blogged on four different blogs.

Here in Fort Lauderdale my friends organized a party to celebrate my book. Forty people gathered at a local restaurant on Monday night, including my husband, daughter, son-in-law and my mother.

My friends displayed a big poster of my book cover and St. Basil the landmark of Moscow beside it on an easel.

They have ordered a cake shaped like an open book. On the left page, they wrote: “Congratulations Mona.” On the right page: “You are our hero.”
So incredibly sweet.

I was high all night and I autographed the book cover for my friends. The next best thing to signing my book. How I wish my book was a printed one I could hold in my hands.

Incidentally, my birthday was January 19. So TO LOVE A HERO release was my birthday gift.

Sometimes funny things happen.

On January 18, I was invited to my school reunion. The invitation came by e-mail with a list of at least fifty alumni on copy. I apologized for not being able to attend and announced the release of my first book. Many answered, promising to buy it. Including my home teacher from 6th grade, Sister Claude who wanted to read my book, saying I was her best student in essay. I was thrilled and…horrified. Sister Claude reading my sizzling romance. I answered saying I would be honored if she read my book but could she please skip Chapter Six. Shshhh… it’s my first love scene.

Through my novel, I lived again my fantastic trips to Belarus. My story highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and gallant Belarussian officers who sing, toast with vodka and make a woman feel like a goddess.

I had a lot of fun writing this book and I hope you will discover a new country and
interesting culture while reading TO LOVE A HERO.

TO LOVE A HERO can be purchased at Cerridwen Press.

Everyone has a favorite coffee mug. I'm sure one's choice says something about a person, or at least about the day they're having. When I was in college, my favorite mug during a semester with a particularly nasty 8am math class (Modern Abstract Algebra--shudder!) had a lovely pastoral Christmas scene. A gift from a friend. Nothing remarkable about the way it looked, as it was winter. But when you lifted it up, it jangled out a Christmas tune. Loudly.

Professor: "There is an element e such that for all a in R--"

Liz's coffee mug: "Oh! The weather outside is frightful..."

Liz: (Muffled)"Crap."

Professor: "A times e equals e times a--"

What Liz Hears: "Blah blah blah blah"

Liz: (internal) "Must...have...caffeine"

Liz's coffee mug: "But the fire is so delightful--"

Liz: (Muffled) "Crap!"

Professor turns from board and sweeps baleful glance over classroom. Liz has yet to have a sip of coffee...

Professor: (writing on board) "Equals a, then the--"

Liz's coffee mug: "And since we've no place to goooo"

Professor: "Mizz Jasper, would you please turn off your coffee mug? Some of us are trying to learn."

Liz: "Sorry, professor."

Liz's brain: "Caffeine! Caffeine! Now! Now! NOW!"

Liz's mug: "Let it snooooowwww."

Liz: "Crap! I mean...Whoops! Sorry, professor. I thought if I covered the bottom it wouldn't--Sorry. Won't happen again."

Liz: (internal) sigh!

Professor: "Blah, blah, blah, Q.E.D."

Thankfully, for all concerned, as my coffee always went cold in that mug, it was only a matter of time that I drowsily stuck it in the microwave to reheat and fried the music chip.

So what's on my desk now? Well, we have roofers overhead. From the sound of it, a hundred 400 lb linebackers with oversized power tools, nails the size of baseball bats and cement boots. It is a morning for my Shakespearean slurs mug. Lots to choose from, but my eye keeps going to " Canker-blossom" and "Roast meat for worms."

A writer must always keep herself surrounded by things that inspire.

Liz Jasper writes murder mysteries, even when there are no roofers overhead. (Good gad what are they using now? The hammer of Thor?) Her EPPIE award nominated paranormal mystery, UNDERDEAD is available at http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419909344. Or, you can visit her website at http://www.lizjasper.com/. Or friend her at myspace www.myspace.com/underdeadauthor, where she blogs as character Jo Gartner. Now, stop reading this and go do something useful like vote for Helen at the romantic times website. (Link below, with her post yesterday.)

I'm delighted to announce my Paranormal Romance THE MAGIC KNOT has reached the fourth round of the American Title contest. There are now only four people left in contention. I would love your vote to give me a place in the final two. Please check out the Romantic Times website to see the four passages of dialogue in this round and vote.

As a taster of THE MAGIC KNOT, this is the first page.

Chapter One

Roughly translated, the slogan on Niall O’Connor’s family crest read: “We need all the help the gods can give us.”

Not that he wanted help from anyone, gods or otherwise. He’d learned early on to look out for himself. Unfortunately, every now and then he had no choice.

So here he was—cap in hand metaphorically speaking—on his way to ask for a favor from druid, Tristan Jago. Which unfortunately entailed getting past Tristan’s sidekick, a vampiric nightstalker with attitude problems called Nightshade.

Niall rode his motorcycle up the narrow drive to Tristan’s rambling granite manor house, stopped on the circle of gravel outside the front door, and cut the engine.

Trevelion Manor sat alone on top of the rocky Cornish cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. In the distance, purple storm clouds billowed across gunmetal-gray sea. A portent of trouble if ever he’d seen one. It looked like the gods definitely weren’t smiling on him today.

As he kicked down his bike stand, the front door opened. Nightshade stepped out of the shadowy interior, folded his arms over his glistening oiled pecs, and spread his wings to block entry. Quashing a sigh, Niall pulled off his helmet and rested it on the bike’s seat.

Niall flexed his hands to check the position of the two crystal knives strapped to his wrists. If he could avoid fighting Nightshade, he would. Not that he thought he’d lose. Quite the contrary, he was sure he’d win. But he’d fought enough hand-to-hand to last a lifetime. Now peace and quiet was all he desired.

“It’s a pleasure to see you, Irish!” Nightshade hooked his thumbs in the loops of his jeans and grinned, his teeth white against ebony skin. “I’ve a hankering for a taste of Tuatha Dé Danaan with a seasoning of leprechaun.”

Find out more about Helen Scott Taylor!

As a writer, I love movies.

Recently, I found a not-so-new video rental service called Redbox.

These video rentals are located in the lobbies of many supermarkets, some restaurant chains, etc. They are automated, and DVD rentals cost $1.00 per night. (Yes, one night only.) You can keep the movie longer if you choose, for an additional $1.00 per night.

If you'd like to purchase a movie, several titles are usually available for $7.00.

Type redbox.com to see a list of redboxes available in your area.

And, for a free rental, type DVDONME as a code. This is a limited time offer for your first rental.


Internet Affective Disorder

By Sherry Morris

I used to be addicted to email. I loved all of my Yahoo Groups. The Bee Gees, Perry Mason and General Hospital fan loops. Romance Writing loops. Homemaking loops. And personal emails from epals I met online, family and friends.

I checked my messages a gazillion times a day. I was always typing witty responses, and congratulations and perk up posts, I always tried to make everyone feel positive, because they are worth it. My family had to wait in line for the computer and for Mom.

Something weird came over me around September. I lost interest in the Internet. I'd only check my messages three times a day, and more often than not, I'd read and not reply. Even to personal messages that deserved replies. I'd get to them, in a day or few or week or a month or so. Then I'd have to come up with some sort of explanation/excuse as to why I so rudely delayed responding to my beloved pals.

In with my New Year's resolutions, I actually scheduled a day each week for each group. I figured I could reply and contribute and boost up everyone that needed it at least that often.

Guess what? That lasted one day. I really have lost interest in the Internet and I don't know why. I had so much fun when I was in the thick of the World Wide Web. Nothing happened to turn me away, no flames, no embarrassing faux pas on my part (that I'm aware of).

It is now a chore to go through my messages. I'd much rather spend time with my kids, hubby, dog, bird and DVR. But the thing is, I really do need to reconnect and network, because I'm an author and because I don't have any neighborhood pals. But I'm bizarrely not interested.

Has this ever happened to you?

Click on the Book Covers to Read Excerpts of my Smoldering Romances:

Book Cover Hundred Dollar Bill by Sherry Morris

Hundred Dollar Bill is an Historical Romance

Book Cover Dying to Love Him by Sherry Morris

Dying to Love Him is a Dark Comedy Paranormal Romance

Book Cover Immaculate Deception by Sherry Morris

Immaculate Deception, a paranormal romance, is a Romantic Times Magazine Reviewers’ Choice Nominee!

Image of Christina's Fear by Sherry Morris

Christina’s Fear, a women's fiction short, is a FREE eBook!

Book Cover Diet Another Day by Sammie Jo Moresca

Diet Another Day, an erotic romantic comedy, was the #7 Top Seller at Phaze during 2007!

Book Cover Type Dirty to Me by Sammie Jo Moresca

Type Dirty To Me is an Erotic Historical Romance

Smolder , a steamy contemporary romance, was the #1 Top Seller at All Romance eBooks!

Book Cover Coming Together For the Cure 2007 Edition

Coming Together for the Cure , a multi-author romance anthology, is a Romantic Times Magazine Top Pick and a 2008 EPPIE Finalist!

A Winter Sweet

Posted by Toni V.S. | 1:56 PM | , , | 5 comments »

Back in the Golden Days when I had friends and family to care for, I did a lot of baking. Every weekend, I was in the kitchen for hours, baking cakes and cookies, and occasionally pies. (Not many pies. I'll be the first to admit that pie crust and I have a long-running feud to see who can go to pieces first!) At Christmastide, I shone, displaying my repertoire of cookies, all of which never existed for very long. Digging into Ye Olde Booke of Recypes, I'd like to offer one of my favorites.

Pecan Puffs

3/4 C light brown sugar lightly packed
2 egg whites'2 C broken pecan pieces, uncooked
pinch of salt

Beat egg whites until stiff. Blend with sugar thoroughly. Add pecan pieces. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 250 until pecans are toasted or dough is firm. Bool before removing from sheet.

Sorry the cooking directions are so vague. Just remember that this is a recipe that was originated before all our fabulous electronic cooking appliances were invented--and enjoy!

"ST. AGNES’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:"

Thus begins the exquisite poem by John Keats about the meeting of two lovers. The basis of this poem is the superstitious belief that a maiden would see her future husband if she performed a certain ritual on the Eve of Saint Agnes, the twentieth of January. When I was in high school my English teacher read the whole of this poem to the class, clutching the volume of verse to her chest at once point and lifting her eyes heavenward in a rapturous sigh. "Just listen to the beauty of these words, " she said. And I did, smitten by the sumptuous sensual imagery, and it has a happy ending which is always richly satisfying.

One of my favorite passages:

"Her vespers done,
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled..."

Contributed by Beth Trissel, a big Keats fan

With us today is Mandy and Denise from Rogues and Romance. If you have questions or want a review please leave them a comment. They'll be happy to get back to you.

Welcome, ladies! Thanks for joining us. We've got some questions for you.

When was the inception of Rogues and Romance? Is it a new review site or has it been around awhile?

Mandy: Rogues and Romance is just a baby! We actually went live September 9th, and have done almost 50 reviews for Rogues and Romance.

What drew you to reviewing?

Mandy: For one thing, I am totally addicted to romances! But what really let me know I wanted to review was when I joined a Yahoo book group. I discovered I enjoyed telling other readers about books I loved almost as much as reading those books. It is so wonderful to review a book and later on have someone let me know that they read the book because of my review- and loved it as much as I did! Also, it’s pretty hard to beat getting sent books to read before anyone else!

Dee: I was drawn to reviewing because I absolutely love to read. Also, as a full-time college student, it was a way for me to get my hands on some free material, because after awhile, my book spending was getting to be a bit ridiculous, lol! I also have a lot of fun, and love, love, love the fantastic books I've had the opportunity to read, and all of the authors have been absolutely amazing.

How does the reviewing process work?

Mandy: When we receive a request, we decide who will review it, and we each work on our list of requests in order. Except when we receive a request for a book that does not have a review yet or is a story for an upcoming holiday, then we try to put priority on those stories.

My personal process is pretty simple really. After I finish the book, most of the time what I want to say is already in my head. There are a lot of times where I jump up out of bed at 3a.m. after I’ve finished a book because I HAVE to get it down. I find the hardest part is actually the summary. You definitely don’t want to give up any more details than the author would like, but at the same time, you want the reader to understand that the book is about- without being too close to the book blurb. What I do is paste the book blurb at the top of a blank document so I know where the author doesn’t mind me going, and type away.

Dee: I'm sure it's different for every reviewer. For me, I really like to sit down and crank one out all at once. I like to read the book in one sitting, then get right on my review. I take into account what others want to see in reviews they read, and also what is going to catch someone's eye.

What does your site have to offer authors and readers?

Dee: When it comes to authors, I think we offer new and lesser known authors the opportunity to put themselves out there. I know Mandy would agree, that we've met a ton of fabulous authors through Rogues and Romance, and every single one of them has definitely deserved the opportunity to be reviewed. I also think we give authors who want us to review them a lot of free reign with what other opportunities they can take part of on our site. They can request an interview, guest blog, contest, etc. We also try our hardest, when authors have a new release, to get our review to them on or before the release date. As for our readers, I think we make our site fun and enjoyable. We don't rate the books on a love/hate scale, and I think the way we write up our reviews lets the readers decide whether or not they would be interested. So far, our interviews and guest blogs with authors have (in my opinion), also been enjoyable, as far as reading them goes. We've had some fun contests, and links to contests, which every reader goes nuts for, lol! So, we definitely have a lot to offer both our readers and authors.

If an author would like a review at Rogues and Romance, how do they submit and where do they send it?

Mandy: Of course the author can always email us before sending their request if they have any questions, but since we review every request we get- all genres, lengths, formats, and heat ratings, a query is not necessary. Unless it is print, of course- then you will need an address. For eBooks, an author can just introduce themselves and send the file(s) to our email:

denise+mandy (at) roguesandromance (dot) com

We always email the author or publisher back as soon as we receive the files and let them know. We usually write a little author intro separate from the review, so be sure and tell us anything you would like us to know. Are you a new author? Is this book a new genre for you? Is it the first book in a series?

As a reader, what is your favorite genre? If romance, is there a specific romance genre, such as erotica, paranormal, or regency you are drawn too?

Mandy: I am usually drawn to romance and erotic romance stories that stray from our reality- paranormal, historical, fantasy and time-travel all hold a special place in my heart. However, the great thing about reviewing is that you end up reading genres and books you wouldn’t normally pick up, and end up finding new favorites. I never thought I would like anything except paranormal and historical, but after giving great genres like contemporary and romantic suspense a chance through reviewing, I find that those genres are stacking up in my personal TBR list.

Dee: I absolutely love paranormal romance. It is definitely, hands down, my favorite genre, but after starting Rogues and Romance with Mandy, I am definitely reading a little bit of everything, and loving all of it.

Not all reviewers accept all books. Can you tell us what these decisions are based on and can you give us any tips on how to get our books reviewed?

Mandy: It’s all a matter of reviewer preference. Denise and I enjoy the variety of all the different romance and erotic romance genres, and never reject requests, as long as there are romantic elements in the story.

The key is to know your review sites. Some review sites only review new releases, some only certain lengths, and of course, some only certain genres. Almost always the decision to reject a book for review is based on sexual content. There are review sites exclusively for erotic romance, or sweet romances, or both- so the best thing to do is to find the right match(es) for your books. Also, take advantage of the smaller review sites, as they generally don’t have the high volume of requests that larger sites do.

To get reviews from larger sites, it’s all about the book blurb, because that is all the reviewer gets to see besides the author and publisher’s name, genre, and sexual content. If a reviewer at a larger site has done a fabulous job on a review for you in the past, why not ask for them again? If you have a book that is already released without a single review, don’t be afraid to communicate that to the review coordinator. Dee Gentle, the coordinator at the respected ParanormalRomance.org is a wonderful woman who always lets the reviewers know when a book doesn’t have a review yet, or if the author has never been reviewed by PNR before. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Denise: Mandy and I both love reading romance in general, but when it comes to more specified sub-genres, our tastes start to vary. So, with romance as our "main genre" per say, we didn't really feel we needed to limit it too much after that. Also, with keeping specifically to romance, I think that probably helps Mandy and I because we like that genre, and we'll be able to review romances more efficiently because we have an interest in it, as a whole.

As for any tips I may have. I personally found out about reviewing through various reading groups on Yahoo!, and from there got involved Paranormal Romance, Romantic Times, and met Mandy to start Rogues and Romance. So, I think a lot of it, is word of mouth, on where to find reviewers, because that's how it worked for me.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Mandy: I just wanted to say thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to spread the word about R&R; we really enjoyed your questions! I hope that we’ve shed a little light on the review process so aspiring reviewers will jump right in, and that authors will have a little advice on getting reviews for their books!

Denise: It seems like all the bases were covered! Fantastic questions. :-) I know I've said it previously, but I absolutely love reviewing, and I have loved every minute of having Rogues and Romance with Mandy. :-)

Posted by Liz Jasper | 1:59 PM | 6 comments »

Hi everyone! Today we're delighted to have Romance Author Eilis Flynn with us. Who is so nice she won't at all mock my inability to post her characature at the end where I wanted it to go. I'll just have to bow my head in shame...and drown my sorrows in her book. : )

1) Eilis, can you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Sure! In INTRODUCING SONIKA, I ask the question "If you had the power to save the world, what would make you give it up?" Trained by her parents to use her abilities to fight criminals, Sonya Penn gave it all up after her parents were killed by their archenemy, Gentlemen Geoffrey, turning away from what would have been her life as a superheroine. And yet, when she finds herself drawn to scientist John Arlen, his thirst for revenge against the criminal who murdered his father forces her to confront her choices. She could let herself fall in love with this man, who has secrets he seems unwilling to reveal to her. Or she could finally take up the mission her parents intended her to pursue even if it means his death or hers.

2) What’s the best writing advice you ever received?

What, besides "Never quit writing" or "Write what you know"? Probably "Listen to your writing." In other words, listen to your voice. Don’t force your writing into a pattern you think is cool. Your natural writing style is cool enough.

3) How did you get started as a writer?

Believe it or not, an essay contest in fifth grade called "Freedom under the law." I explained that freedom under the law was like my cat. If my cat was good, it got to do anything it wanted. But if it didn’t, it was scolded. With that superlative logic, I won first place. Emboldened by that success, I wrote my first play which, believe it or not, later became the basis of my first novel, THE SLEEPER AWAKES, which is available from Cerridwen Press. (It’s always good to keep old stuff around ...)

4) What’s the view from your desk as you write?

I have two windows, both of which are too high for me to see anything out of. Actually, one window I can see the side of the house next door. See? I have to have an imagination, because there’s nothing else to look at!

5) It’s Friday, thank goodness. What’s your perfect weekend?

One I can spend my time at home writing!

6) What makes you think you know how to write a romance?

I love happily ever after endings. I love reading about interpersonal relationships and I love people stories!

7) If you were a book, what would you be?

Gone with the Wind.

A little more about Eilis...
Ms. Flynn, whose real name is Elizabeth (an excellent name! No bias here.), writes as Eilis Flynn. Eilis is a longtime member of the Greater Seattle chapter of Romance Writers of America, a veteran of the Wall Street wars, has been a professional journalist, was a scholar, and even wrote comic books. She lives in a quiet neighborhood with her all-suffering husband and cranky cats.
Check out her website at
http://www.eilisflynn.com/. Check out INTRODUCING SONIKA at http://www.cerridwenpress.com/productpage.asp?ISBN=9781419914225.

Amazon/Penguin Putnam were taking entries until they received 5,000. The day they hit their limit was the day I finished my rewrite, ready to submit. I was bummed because I'd put another project on hold to go over Cardinal. Later, I received an email that a slot had opened up and was un-bummed then fuming and razzle-frazzling, I spent hours trying to get the site to accept my entry.

In order to make the next cut (as we say in the horse showing world), I need good reviews and good ratings—as many as possible. The judges will make their decision based upon the “quality and quantity” of the reviews for each semi-finalist.

CARDINAL DESIRES won the Georgia Romance Writers’ Magnolia Award (Maggie) and I thought I was on my way. Unfortunately ten years later, and many rewrites, I’m again hoping!

I’m a member of the Houston Symphony League. (I know you’re thinking “Where did that come from”—bear with me.) Several times a year, the volunteers bring food for the musicians after rehearsal. And right there in front of God and the entire orchestra, I announced that I was a semi-finalist and asked (begged) for their votes. (I bet Hilary doesn’t get stage fright.)

I would be most grateful if you would follow the link below, read the excerpt, rate it (1-5 stars) and leave a review. Of course, if you don’t like it, I’d rather you didn’t review!

If you’re a member of a writing group, please pass this link along to them—and your friends, relatives, casual acquaintances, people you’ve read about in the news, people you meet on the street…asking for a review for CARDINAL DESIRES.

An short excerpt follows. If the link included doesn’t work, please go to my web site lindanightingale.com to the links page.

Thanks for your time because for most of us Time is a scarce commodity.


EXCERPT from Cardinal Desires:

“Listen. Listen to what I say.” The stranger’s voice was like the deep throbbing of a cello, commanding attention, weaving enchantment. “Three days ago, you called me from sleep. I couldn’t rest until I found you. I believe what I shall tell you is important--or shall become important to you in the future. You may be skeptical, but listen.”
“I am listening, but why do you hide? Show me your face.” Dr. Katy McCaully spoke to the silhouette of a man standing at the screen door.
He was tall and slim, that she could tell even in the darkness, but she couldn't see his features. Whether he was young or old, hideous to behold or handsome, these were mysteries like why he’d appeared on her doorstep in a remote mountain cabin and why he hid in shadow.
“I'm a psychiatrist.” Mystery had stirred the romantic, enticed the professional. “Bound by an oath. Whatever you say bears the seal of the confessional. I’m a doctor. If you’re scarred or deformed, I won’t judge you.”
“I'm not scarred or deformed." He laughed softly. "Not physically at least.”
Could he possibly be as beautiful as his voice or had loneliness finally caught her on this far-flung night? She didn’t realize she’d sighed until he asked, "Are you so sad?"
"I'm not sad at all.” Defiance edged her voice.
He'd come at first dark. Mountain folk didn't lock their doors. Southern drawls and genuine friendliness had lulled Katy into the same habit. When the knock sounded--without thinking, other than hoping that Miss Winters had brought a pecan pie--she'd opened the door.
A long black obelisk, a darker shadow against the fledgling night, her visitor had spoken with the guileless candor of a child. "Why did you call me?"
Charmed by his voice, she smiled. "Sorry, there must be some mistake. I didn’t call--"
"Yes," he said with conviction. “You’re the one I’m looking for.”
"Looking for me? Why? Has something happened?” She dreaded being summoned back to London, her holiday chopped short. “Who are you?”
Evening moaned its final chilly breath. The porch light had burned out the night she arrived at the cabin. She’d forgotten to replace the bulb.
“I’m not from Scotland Yard.” He seemed to be learning the words as he uttered them.
A dull shock passed through her. No one in Highlands, North Carolina, knew her from Adam’s house cat. None of the locals would have any reason to associate her with The Yard. When she shopped the quaint town streets, she was merely another tourist.
“The porch light’s burned out, but there’s a little light yet, if you face west,” she’d said.
“Not the light.” A tense pause. “I don’t want you to see me. You mustn’t in fact.”
She flicked the lock on the screen door. “I didn’t call you. Please go.” When he made no move to obey, she edged closer to the portable phone. “Before I call the police.”
"Don't be afraid. I didn't come all this way to harm you." An old pine board creaked mournfully as he retreated a step. "I'll stay out here. You’re safe behind your locked door.”
The night yawned, stretched, grew even more still. If he meant her harm, she’d be dead long before blue lights shattered the mountain quiet. She struggled to be afraid, but she wasn’t. She knew the difference between fear and excitement. The one debilitated while the other scintillated. She felt intensely, almost obliquely alive, yet the poignancy in his voice lulled her into a sort of pleasant lethargy.
“All right then,” she heard herself say, “I’ll listen.”