Sherry Thomas is here! (And a giveaway)

**Please note: the giveaway is now closed.  Winner will be announced shortly.

As promised, I’ve got a another giveaway this week. . . .

I’m delighted to welcome Sherry Thomas today!

Sherry and I met last year at the RWA conference in D.C. and got a chance to hang out at the RT Convention in Columbus this past April–and I have to tell you, she is a riot.  And I’m such a fun of her writing–she writes fabulously angst-y, emotionally complex historical romances.  I read Delicious last year after meeting Sherry and loved it.  So when I saw her newest release, His At Night, available in the RT goody room I immediately snatched up a copy and devoured it as soon as I got home from the conference.   Here’s a little more about the book:

Elissande Edgerton is a desperate woman, a virtual prisoner in the home of her tyrannical uncle. Only through marriage can she claim the freedom she craves. But how to catch the perfect man?

Lord Vere is used to baiting irresistible traps. As a secret agent for the government, he’s tracked down some of the most devious criminals in London, all the while maintaining his cover as one of Society’s most harmless—and idiotic—bachelors. But nothing can prepare him for the scandal of being ensnared by Elissande.

Forced into a marriage of convenience, Elissande and Vere are each about to discover they’re not the only one with a hidden agenda. With seduction their only weapon against each other—and a dark secret from the past endangering both their lives—can they learn to trust each other even as they surrender to a passion that won’t be denied?

* * *

So without further ado, here’s Sherry to tell us more about His At Night and her writing process:

Q. When did you first realize you wanted to write, and how did you get started?

I wrote bits and pieces of—what else?—love scenes throughout college, but never really thought about a whole book because I didn’t know where the stories would go beyond their opening love scenes.  (They were kind of awesome, by the way, full of old romance chestnuts mixed with the most overdone sci-fi clichés.  If you want a virgin courtesan whose clothes split apart along electromagnetic lines embedded in the fabric, I’m your gal.)

Then I read a bad romance when I had the least patience for bad romances, threw the book across the room, and declared to my husband that I could do better.  Wise man that he was—and is–he said nothing as I spent the next eight years not getting published.

Q. What is it about writing romance that appeals to you?

You mean besides virgin courtesans whose clothes split apart along electromagnetic lines embedded in the fabric?  : )

I like creating characters and testing them in all kinds of trying situations.  I like fiddling with words.  I love the community of readers and writers.

Once upon a time I heard about this survey on what women would most like to be and romance writers came in second, right after goddess.  So really, it’s all good.

Q. What do you do on those writing days when you’re stressed, worn out, or distracted?


I eat, I goof, I play computer games and surf the interwebs endlessly.  What can I say?  I have the worst self-control ever.  When distractions appear, I wave the white flag without shame or hesitation.  So I can only be thankful that I’m not stressed or fatigued all the time!

Q. What can you tell us about your current release?


His at Night is my attempt at light fare.  The premise is that of a gentleman spy who pretends to be an idiot, which lends itself to all kinds of comical situations.  And then he is trapped in marriage by the one young woman he wants to avoid above all, so now he’s totally screwed–and the fun really begins.

Q. Can you share a brief excerpt from the book?


I’m sending this tidbit because it made my husband laugh out loud.


“But do you know what the most important aspect of judging a dairy cow is?”

“No, I‘m sure I don‘t, my lord,” she said, stabbing her knife into the muffin on her plate.

“Mammary development, Miss Edgerton, worth a whopping thirty-five percent of the overall score. The udder must be very large and very flexible. The teats must be of a nice size and evenly placed. Milk veins, extensive; milk wells, capacious.”

He was no longer looking at her face but at her chest. “I don‘t believe I‘ve viewed a dairy cow quite the same since. Now when I see cows, instead of just saying to myself, ‘Oh, look, cows,‘ I study their udders and teats for their conformity to the principles of animal husbandry—and for the sheer enjoyableness of studying udders and teats, of course.”

Q.  Fun questions: What are you watching on TV these days? (Or what are you reading?)


Not so fun answer: We don’t watch TV in our house.  Not for any noble reasons, but because when our Senior Kidlet was a tot, he would be so enthralled by the TV that we couldn’t budge him to do anything else.  So one day we made the decision to just turn off the TV.  It wasn’t a permanent decision, but as we weren’t following any particular shows on TV at that particular moment in time, we didn’t really miss it.

This, however, doesn’t mean we never watch any TV shows.  If we hear enough about it, we’ll get around to it.  I watched the first three seasons of House on DVD, the fourth season kinda lost me though.  We recently finished the whole series of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica—loved it so much!  And within the last two weeks we zoomed through the first two seasons of Lost.

And Mad Men and Glee, someday.

The most recent book I finished is an apocalyptical YA called Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  I got it after Senior Kidlet requested it, but then I got totally into it.  And finished it in front of my shower, naked, because I’d stripped for my wash, but couldn’t put the book down.

Q. What are you listening to on your Ipod?


Hanging head in shame: I don’t have an Ipod.  And you probably guessed it: my cell phone doesn’t do anything except making phone calls.  I’m so amazingly low-tech sometimes it takes my breath away.  : )

Q. What is your biggest weakness (shoes, purses, chocolate, etc.)?


Hmm, first you have me doubt my fitness for modern life, now you have me doubt my chromosomes: I have very few pairs of shoes, hardly any purses, and don’t generally keep chocolates at home—although I will gladly eat them elsewhere!

As a person, I don’t have any consistent weakness, i.e., nothing my husband can point to and commiserate with his friends about—if he were the kind of man to complain his wife before others, which he most definitely is not.  Thank goodness for the strong, silent type.  : )

What I do have are fits and bursts of situational madness.  There was a time when I lugged in tons of clothes from White House Black Market.  Their clothes fit me so well, but ultimately I can’t live on just two colors.  Not long ago I’d buy huge containers of roasted pepper hummus and bags of pita chips from Costco, and then just sit down and demolish it all—until I realize the havoc that much hummus and pita chips wreaked on my butt.  And then from time to time there would be casual games that get me so addicted I have to delete them from my computer, because I can’t get anything else done.

I really miss scarfing down a tub of hummus at a go.

Q. Complete this sentence: One fun thing about me that people might not know is……


From everything I’ve said so far—no TV, no music, no nothing–it might seem to folks that I’m completely disconnected from pop culture.  But that is the furthest thing from the truth.  I learn everything I need to know from celebrity gossip blogs.  I know the stars of movies, TV, music, and even sports. I know who has slept with whom and who hates whom, who’s popular, who is cheap, who is genuinely nice, and who is completely fake.

And of course I know the latest situation in the Jolie-Pitt household!

* * *

Thanks for joining us, Sherry!  For all of you, Sherry has generously offered to give away a copy of His At Night to one lucky person who leaves a comment or question below.  The giveaway will remain open until 10pm CST on Friday, July 2nd.  More information about Sherry and her books can be found at her website.

Good luck and happy reading!

Marie Force is here–with a giveaway!

**Please note: the giveaway is now closed. Winner will be announced shortly.

I’m so thrilled to welcome author Marie Force today!  Marie and I met at RWA San Francisco–we happened to be in the cab line together after the RITA awards and shared a cab back to our hotel.  We got to talking about how we both wrote contemporary romances–this was before either of us was published–and I’d been looking forward to reading her books ever since.

Today, Marie is here to talk about her new book, Fatal Affair, a romantic suspense that just released yesterday and is available from Carina Press.

I was lucky to get my hands on an early copy of Fatal Affair and really enjoyed it!  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, while I’m working away at the revisions for A Lot Like Love, it was nice to have a book like this to sink into at the end of the day.

So without further ado, here’s Marie to tell us more about the book and her writing process:

Thanks for having me today, Julie!

Q. When did you first realize you wanted to write, and how did you get started?

A.  I’ve always been a writer. I knew very early on that I wanted to write for a living and was directed to journalism school by my high school English teacher. Since graduating from college (in, ahem, 1988), I’ve always worked as a writer of some sort, including a stint as a newspaper reporter. Today, I’m the communications director for a national membership organization similar to RWA. The fiction writing came a little later. I always said I was going to write a book, but in the early 2000s, I had two small kids, a husband in the Navy who was constantly deployed, a full-time job I did (and continue to do) from home, and, at that time, two dogs. It was all I could do to function, let alone write. Someday kept getting pushed further into the future. Then my mother got sick, and it became quite urgent for me to do more than talk about writing a book. She got to read the first four chapters of my first book before she passed away in August of 2004. I’ll always be grateful that she got to read that much. Since then, my writing “career” has really blossomed. I like to think she had something to do with that.

Q.  What is it about writing romance that appeals to you?

A.  I love the HEA: the guaranteed happily ever after. No matter what we put our hero and heroine through, the readers know their story will end happily. To me, that’s the best part of the romance “formula,” if you will, and it’s the reason I read and write romance.

Q.  What do you do on those writing days when you’re stressed, worn out, or distracted?

A.  I am always all of the above! LOL! Since I have a full-time job and have to fit my writing in around work and two very busy kids, who will be 15 and 12 this year, my writing time is my de-stress time. I write in the midst of chaos, right in the living room with kids and dogs running through and the TV on. I’ve discovered it’s all about the chaos for me. When I get into a quiet hotel room for a work trip, absolutely no writing gets done.

Q.  What can you tell us about your current release?

A.  Fatal Affair, out yesterday from Carina Press, is the start of the Fatal Series, which features a Washington, D.C. Police detective and her love interest, a U.S. Senator. I have lots of adventures planned for Sam and Nick. Their story will continue later this year in Fatal Justice, the second book in the series. Here’s a brief rundown on the story:

On the morning of the most important vote of Senator John O’Connor’s career he is late—again. His best friend and chief of staff, Nick Cappuano sets off to O’Connor’s apartment expecting to roust him from bed and hoping he is alone. But what Nick finds is that O’Connor, the handsome, amiable Senator from Virginia, has been brutally murdered, and Nick’s world comes crashing down around him. Complicating the disaster, the detective assigned to the case is none other than Sam Holland, Nick’s one-night stand from six years earlier, the woman who broke his heart and haunts his dreams. With six years worth of unfinished business hanging between them and more than a few scores to settle personally and professionally, Nick and Sam set out to find the senator’s killer while trying—and failing—to resist the overwhelming attraction between them that seems to have only grown over the years.

It soon becomes clear that the senator’s past holds secrets that not only led to his death but now endanger Nick and Sam as well. Working together to find a killer and to rediscover the love they thought they lost long ago, they must put the past behind them and build a future that offers a world of new opportunities for both of them—including an offer from the Virginia Democrats for Nick to finish the last year of John’s term.

Q.   Can you share a brief excerpt from the book?

“Why haven’t you ever gotten married?” Sam asked Nick.

“I don’t know. Just never happened.”

“Surely there had to have been someone you might’ve married.”

“There was this one girl…”

“What happened?”

“She never returned my calls.”

Shocked and speechless, Sam stared at him.

“You asked.”

Tearing her eyes off him, she accelerated through the last intersection before the turn for the public safety parking lot. “Don’t say that to me,” she snapped. “You don’t mean that.”

“Yes, I do.”

Q.  Fun questions:  What are you watching on TV these days?  What are you reading?

A.  I’m engrossed in my not-so-secret shame: The Bachelorette. It’s also Red Sox season, and I watch most of their games. Otherwise, not much T.V. watching gets done this time of year. I just read a fun book called Something About You, which I loved! And I devoured Christy Reece’s heart-pounding new romantic suspense, Last Chance, over the weekend. I’ve also been reading a lot of historicals this year (and I’m secretly writing one…) I guess it’s not a secret anymore!

Q.  What are you listening to on your Ipod?

A.  Lately, I’m addicted to the various versions of Jeff Buckley’s song Hallelujah. My current favorite is the k.d. lang version from the Winter Olympics opening ceremony. If you haven’t heard it, make sure to download it. It’s amazing! My new laptop came with a free iPod Touch, so I’m looking forward to upgrading from my first generation Nano. My daughter will have to teach me how to use the Touch since I had trouble turning it on!

Q.  What is your biggest weakness (shoes, purses, chocolate, etc.)?

A.  Chocolate. Hands down. Although I do so love my Coach purses. 🙂

Q.  Complete this sentence: One fun thing about me that people might not know is……

A.  For a brief shining moment recently, my teenaged daughter declared that her mom was the It was a proud moment in the midst of teenager mayhem. Sadly, however, my status was revoked a mere 12 hours later for some infraction or another. You have to take the accolades where you can get them!


A-ha!  Another person addicted to The Bachelorette. . . it’s my guilty secret, too. 🙂  Thanks for joining us, Marie!  And for all of you, one lucky person who leaves a comment or question below will receive a copy (e-book) of Fatal Affair.  The giveaway will remain open until 10pm CST on Friday, June 25th.  More information about Marie Force and her books can be found at her website.

Good luck!

Your Questions Answered, Part 2

I hope everyone is having a lovely Memorial Day weekend!

Now, on to more of your questions. . . (in case you missed Part 1, I’m answering questions readers posed to me in an earlier blog):

Q.  While the sexual tension between the H&H in “Practice Makes Perfect” and “Something About You” is certainly equal in it’s intensity, the later and most recent book is more sexually explicit. Did you find the more graphic love scenes more difficult to write?

A.  Yes and no.  Because there was a suspense subplot to Something About You, it felt right for the love scenes to be more intense and descriptive.  But I did drink wine while writing those scenes.  : )

Q.  In Practice Makes Perfect, was the socioeconomic differences between the upbringing of the hero and heroine planned out or was it something that just developed?

A.  That was planned.  On the outside, I wanted Payton and J.D. to seem like polar opposites.  But once they start to get to know each other, they realize they have a lot more in common than they’d originally thought.

Q.  In Something About You, I often wondered how the trial turned out…if Jack got his vindication?

A.  Actually, the Martino case continues in my next book, A Lot Like Love.  That book centers around an undercover investigation into a wealthy nightclub and restaurant owner who is laundering money for Martino.  Both Cameron and Jack have supporting roles in the story.

Q.  I just want to know ii it’s based on real events…
and if you’ll have a movie adaptation of your novels, what director would you prefer?

A.  The idea for Practice Makes Perfect is very loosely based on my experience working at my former firm.  There was a male associate in my group who was the same year as me, and because my group had never before made two associates partner in the same year, I often wondered what would happen when he and I came up for consideration.  From there, my overactive imagination ran wild.

As for what director I would prefer in the movie adaptation of my novels. . . my answer is the one who is most likely to get the film made. : )

Q.  How would you rate your books? PG, PG 13? R? X?

A.  I would say that Just the Sexiest Man Alive and Practice Makes Perfect are PG-13, and Something About You is R-rated.

There are a few remaining questions, which I’ll get to next week. On a different note, I just finished Dark Lover (book 1 in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series), which I enjoyed.  Now I’m curious about Zsadist’s story–oh, and Darius.  Luckily I already own the next two books in the series.  : )

I just started my book club book, The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard.  A mystery set in a small town in Kansas, but that’s all I really know so far.

How about the rest of you?  What are you reading?

Your Questions Answered

I noticed that several of you had questions for me about Something About You and Practice Makes Perfect in my previous blog about reading guides/discussion questions.  So I thought I’d go ahead and answer a few of those:

Q. I was wondering what inspired you to include more sex in Something About You?

A. Lots of wine.  Just kidding.  (Well, sort of.)  Something About You was steamier than my first two books because it felt like the right thing to do.  By adding a suspense subplot, there was a little more “grit” to the book, and the higher sensuality seemed a better fit for that.  Plus, there was such a build up of sexual tension between Cameron and Jack, I thought readers might kill me if I didn’t show the culmination of that.  : )

Q.  Do your characters take over – meaning have a mind of their own and if so, do they take you to a very surprising journey?

A.  Yes and no.  Sometimes I set out to write a certain scene and I write and rewrite and rewrite it again and it just doesn’t work, and usually that’s because I’m trying to get the characters to do something that would be, no pun intended, out of character.  And what also happens is that, as I get into the book, the characters will become so vivid in my mind that I can “hear” their voices and the back-and-forth dialogue really begins to flow.  I don’t know that I’ve ever been completely surprised by any character’s actions, though.

Q.  I am curious as to how your ‘past life’ as a lawyer pushed your books ahead and have you had to do more research as you write new books?

A.  Being a lawyer has certainly been a plus in writing lawyer heroines, I can say that.  : )  Although I did have to do more research for Something About You, since I was a civil litigator and Cameron is a criminal prosecutor.  So I emailed a friend who is an Assistant U.S. Attorney for help.  I suspect he thought that I was going to have all these sexy, thought-provoking questions about his job and then instead I asked him things like, “How many people do you share a secretary with?”  “When you meet with FBI agents, do you meet at your office or theirs?”  I knew the big-picture aspects of the job, I just needed help with the details.

With respect to Book 4, the upcoming A Lot Like Love, I had to do a lot of research.  Neither the heroine nor the hero is a lawyer–imagine that!  The heroine owns a wine store, so I shadowed the owner of my local wine shop for a day, I took a wine appreciation course (not exactly a hardship), and I read a couple books on wine.  Plus I took a trip to Napa Valley last year, and I was able to draw on that experience.

Q.  While writing the one book, did you start to get ideas for the next book and if so, are you able you write more than one book at a time?

A.  Not with my first three books.  Those were written entirely as stand-alone books, without any cross over in the characters.  But with A Lot Like Love, not only do I bring back characters from Something About You, but a supporting character in ALLL will be the hero in Book 5.  So when writing A Lot Like Love, yes–I definitely began to get ideas for the next book, because I already know who the hero will be.   That being said, I don’t actually write more than one book at a time.  I get very entrenched in the book I’m writing and need to focus only on that.

There were more questions, and I’ll get to those next time.  I think I like this Q&A idea!  So if you have questions you’d like answered in a future blog, feel free to post them below.

On an entirely different note, I started the first book in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and I’m enjoying it so far. For those of you who have read the BDB books–and I know there are many of you–what did you think?  (No spoilers please!)

Happy reading!