Borders True Romance (and a Giveaway)

Hey everyone!  So you may have heard–ahem–that Something About You won the Readers Crown Award for Best Long Contemporary.  Whoo-hoo!  As part of that, today I’m over at the Borders True Romance blog, offering up a behind-the-scenes look at the inspiration behind the story.  (And if you haven’t heard the story, it’s a good one.)  For extra fun, I’m giving away three copies of the book.  Drop by if you get a chance!

P.S. I also drop a teeny, tiny hint about my next book About That Night.  Like, a blink-and-you-missed-it, micro nugget.  But it’s something. : )

One more thing: if you’re in the Denver area, or plan to attend this year’s RomCon, I’ll be at the convention August 6-7th.  You can find out more about the convention here.

Back from RomCon and thoughts on “perfect” heroines (warning: a small rant)

I’m back from RomCon!  Although I came back pretty darn exhausted, I had a wonderful time.  It’s always so much fun to catch up with readers, bloggers, and other authors. Like others have mentioned, there were some kinks in the system that hopefully will be smoothed out next year, but the overall vibe at the conference was fun and casual, and everyone I met was extremely friendly. Others have gone into detail summarizing the conference, so I thought I’d simply mention a few highlights/interesting moments from my personal experience.

–Yep, the setup of the book signing was odd.  Authors didn’t have books at their tables, instead readers needed to purchase them in a separate room.  Which meant, in some cases, that readers didn’t know which authors were inside and available to sign books.  A funny moment:  one reader stopped at my table, looking surprised, and said, “You are here!  Someone in the line said that Julie James wasn’t here because she’s sick.”  Then she paused and said, “Oh, well.  I bought Cindy Gerard’s book instead.”  And walked away.   (By the way, I had a lot of fun telling Cindy Gerard that story.)

–At the signing, I sat between Tara Janzen and Elizabeth Hoyt–not bad company to be in.  And I have to share this, which really made my day:  while talking, Tara and I  discovered that we’re both Starbucks junkies, and we lamented the fact that there was no Starbucks within walking distance of the hotel.  Tara, however, had discovered one a few miles away, and at the end of the signing, she drew me a map so I could find it.  I checked my watch and noted that, sadly, I wouldn’t have time to get there and back because I was scheduled for back-to-back panels for the remainder of the afternoon.

Five minutes later, I was in the room for the Mingle with Contemporary Authors panel when Tara sneaks in, comes over to my table, and says she’d decided to make a run for Starbucks and wanted to know what she could get me.  When she insisted I give her my order, I blurted out my standard: “Tall Mocha Light Frappucino.”  Tara blinked, then smiled and said, “I’m on it.”  And fifteen minutes later, she came back into the room (during the panel) and hand-delivered me the drink I’d been craving for two days.  How sweet is that?  I was really touched by Tara’s thoughtfulness–after spending two hours with her at the signing, and talking to her afterward, I have to say that she’s one of the friendliest, most engaging authors I’ve met.  And now I’m dying to read her books–they have these crazy/cool romantic suspense covers that remind me of Janet Evanovich and I want to buy one today. Any suggestions on which one I should start with?

–I mentioned the Mingle with Contemporary Authors panel. . . I also did a panel with three other authors on The Perfect Heroine, which was very interesting.  Author Catherine Anderson led the panel, and she asked readers several questions about their heroine preferences: whether they liked attractive heroines, heroines who were sexually confident, heroines who slept with a guy on the first date, older heroines, etc.  My view, which I expressed during the panel, is that it all comes down to execution and the development of the character.  If done right, an author should make me be able to identity with any “type” of heroine.

In reflecting more after the panel, I thought of two examples of this (sure, these involve male characters, but stick with me for a moment):  First, Richard Gere’s character in Pretty Woman. The guy is a multi-millionaire, a workaholic, reserved and controlling, power-hungry, and is used to having people bend to his will… not necessarily someone the average person would identify with.  But five minutes into the movie, we see his flaw: he can’t drive a stick-shift car.  All that money and power doesn’t mean anything when he gets lost in his Lotus on the streets of Los Angeles and has to be rescued by our heroine.  That set-up instantly makes him seem more “normal.”  Another classic example is Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark: the guy appears nearly super-human and unflappable in the opening sequence of the movie until we learn. . . he’s afraid of snakes!  Not a complete tough guy after all–instantly, he’s more likable.

A question I ask myself is why things should be any different with heroines.  After all, heroines are just characters, like heroes–shouldn’t the same standards apply?  Meaning, shouldn’t we be able to have a multi-millionaire, power-hungry workaholic heroine yet still find ways to identify with her?  I say yes!  Here’s the problem: I think writers don’t always give those heroines a chance to be likable.  I have a feeling that if the Pretty Woman scene had been written with a woman in the Richard Gere millionaire role, the character would be portrayed as being far more cold and unapproachable when the hero walked up to the Lotus to rescue her.  Because in Hollywood (and, I think literature sometimes), too often a “strong” woman equals, well, b*tch.  Remember the recent romantic comedy, The Proposal, with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds?  Exactly my point.  And the scene with the snake in the plane in Raiders of the Lost Ark that instantly humanizes Indiana Jones?  Did we see any sort of similar softening/character insight-type scene in the Lara Croft movies?  Nope.  Heaven forbid we’re given a chance to actually like our kick-ass heroine-types.  Too often, at least from what I see, there is a deficiency in strong, well-rounded, heroines who can be tough yet also have a softer side.  And of course it can be done.  Two words: Princess Leia.  Or two more words: Ripley from Aliens.  (Okay, that was three words.)

Whew!  Enough of that rant, especially on a Monday morning.  For those of you who are thinking, “Listen, Ms. Soapbox, I just wanted to hear about the darn conference,” let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

–Certainly another highlight of the conference was that I got to meet and hang out with Nalini Singh.  I’m a BIG fan of her books and thus had to restrain myself from not asking thousands of questions about both her Psy/Changeling and Guild Hunter series.  I limited myself to mere hundreds of questions instead. : )  So here’s me and Nalini, who is every bit as fabulous in person as her books:

Man, that photo makes me look about six months pregnant. Oh. Wait.

–I scored a copy of Courtney Milan’s book, Proof By Seduction, at the conference and already started it on the plane ride home.  Confession time: it was on the chair next to mine as a giveaway during one of the dinners, and when the guy sitting next to me–yes, a guy, as in Some Random Dude in a suit who didn’t appear to be with anyone at the conference–wasn’t looking, I swapped my book with his.  Hey, I’ve heard great things about Courtney’s book; I was willing to play a little dirty when I saw it sitting right within my grasp.  And if you’re reading this, Some Random Dude, sorry–all is fair in love and romance novels.

So there you have it.  As with all these types of conferences, at the end of the day what makes them work (or not work) is the people you meet, and in that alone it was truly an A+ weekend.

Now, on an entirely different note. . . tomorrow I’ll be running a SUPER fun giveaway, one that I’m doing with author Beth Kery and bloggers Stacy at Stacy’s Place on Earth and Lea at Closetwriter.  There will be multiple opportunities to win prizes, and it’ll be a little different from the standard giveaway.  But awesome.  So be sure to come back tomorrow to check that out…

Where I’ve Been and Where I’ll Be (at RomCon)

Just got back last night from a family vacation–Mr. James got a short “furlough” from the Big Case he’s working on and we decided to treat the Little Guy to some fun.  Any guesses where we went?  Here’s a hint:

Ah, Disney World with a three year-old. . . there’s no experience quite like it.  Yes, the Little Guy had his moments–what three year-old doesn’t?–but we had a fantastic time.  Although I would like to have a word with the Disney “imagineers” about one thing–do we really need a gift shop stocked with TOYS after every ride??  Help a parent out here, guys.  : )

Later this week, I’m off to Denver for RomCon.  For those of you attending the conference, I thought I’d post the schedule of places you can find me:

Saturday, July 10th: 12 PM Book Fair–Open to the Public

Saturday, July 10th: 2:30 PM Mix and Mingle with Contemporary Romance Authors, including Autumn Piper, Catherine Anderson, Cathy Maxwell, Deb Werksman, Elizabeth Hoyt, Jeanne C. Stein, Jodi Thomas, Julie James, Lori Wilde, Meg Benjamin, Susan Crandall, Susan Donovan & Leanne Banks

Saturday, July 10th: 3:30 PM The Perfect Heroine: What makes a heroine a woman you can identify with? Do you prefer them to be perfect, slender, gorgeous, and supremely self-confident? Or do you prefer them to have some flaws and feel self-conscious in some situations. Sexually active or more discerning? Financially successful or struggling in an ordinary job to make ends meet? Sexy underwear or plain? What types of heroines appeal to you? Come share your thoughts with Catherine Anderson, Cathy Maxwell, J L Wilson, Julie James, Sally MacKenzie, Susan Donovan.

Sunday, July 11th: 9 AM Speed Date a New Author–Session 3 Have a flash visit with your favorite authors or new-to-you authors and decide for yourself if you’d like to check out their books.  Some of the authors participating are Amanda McCabe, Cindi Myers, Deeanne Gist, Jeaniene Frost, Julie James, Karen Jones, Lavinia Kent, Lori Foster, Meagan Hatfield, Melissa Mayhue, Sally MacKenzie, Tara Janzen, and Terri Garey.

Of course, I’ll be around throughout the conference, attending panels/workshops, the awards ceremony (psst–Practice Makes Perfect was nominated for Best Contemporary) and other events, but those are the places you can find me for sure.

Hope to see some of you there!

Practice Makes Perfect–Readers’ Crown finalist!

I’m back from the RT Convention–and realized I took no pictures!  I even have a camera on my phone.  Sheesh.  I had a great time hanging out with authors, bloggers, and readers, and am proud to say that I watched my first Mr. Romance competition. (The part where the Mr. Romance contenders act out scenes from different romance novels is priceless.)

I participated in a lively Save the Contemporary panel with fellow authors Louisa Edwards and Victoria Dahl, and bloggers Jane (Dear Author) and Sarah (Smart Bitches, Trashy Books).  It was fascinating to learn what readers like/don’t like in the contemporary subgenre and debated whether people like to see bare-chested men on contemporary covers, prefer small towns to big city settings, and all sorts of interesting topics.  (Feel free to chime in on either topic–or your own– below.)

On another note. . . on Friday I received some great news: Practice Makes Perfect was chosen as one of the finalists in the Long Contemporary category of the Readers’ Crown awards!  (The Readers’ Crown are the awards connected to the Borders RomCon convention.)  How exciting!!  I’m honored my book is included in such esteemed company.  Looks like I might be headed to Denver in July for the convention.

Here’s the list of all the Readers’ Crown nominees:

Best First

Anne Marsh  ~ The Hunt ~ Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Time Travel

Margaret Mallory ~ Knight of Desire  ~ Long Historical

Mary Sullivan ~ No Ordinary Cowboy  ~ Short Contemporary

Susan Gee Heino ~ Mistress by Mistake ~ Long Historical

Vanessa Kelly  ~ Mastering the Marquess ~ Long Historical


Joey W. Hill  ~ Beloved Vampire

Livia Dare  ~ In the Flesh

Maya Banks ~ Into the Lair

Maya Banks  ~ Sweet Persuasion

Sunny ~ Mona Lisa Darkening

Long Contemporary

Carly Phillips ~ Lucky Break

Erin McCarthy ~ Hard and Fast

Jill Shalvis ~ Double Play

Julie James ~ Practice Makes Perfect

Susan Mallery ~ Sunset Bay

Long Historical

Anna Campbell  ~  Captive of Sin

Deeanne Gist  ~ A Bride in the Bargain

Elizabeth Hoyt ~ To Desire a Devil

Jennifer Ashley ~ The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie

Jodi Thomas ~ The Lone Texan

Long Romantic Suspense

Bella Andre  ~  Wild Heat

Catherine Mann  ~ Defender

Cindy Gerard ~ Whisper No Lies

Julia Harper ~ For the Love of Pete

Susan Crandall  ~ Seeing Red


Courtney Milan  ~ This Wicked Gift in The Heart of Christmas anthology

Emily Bryan   ~  My Lady Below Stairs in A Christmas Ball anthology

Erin McCarthy  ~  Undead Man’s Hand in Out of the Light, Into the Shadows anthology

Jade Lee  ~ Weekend Tigress in the Winter Heat anthology

Sophia Nash ~ Catch of the Century in the Four Dukes and Devil anthology


Carolyn Jewel  ~  My Forbidden Desire

Jory Strong  ~  Ghostland

Keena Kincaid  ~  Ties That Bind

Shannon K. Butcher ~ Burning Alive

Shannon K. Butcher  ~ Finding the Lost


Anne Marsh  ~ The Hunt

Jess Granger  ~ Beyond the Rain

Melissa Mayhue   ~  A Highlander of Her Own

Sandra Hill   ~  Viking Heat

Veronica Wolff  ~  Lord of the Highlands

Short Contemporary

Abby Gaines  ~  Her So-Called Fiance

Abby Gaines  ~  The Groom Came Back

Holly Jacobs ~ Unexpected Gifts

Linda Warren  ~ The Sheriff of Horseshoe, Texas

Mary Sullivan  ~  No Ordinary Cowboy

Short Historical

Blythe Gifford  ~  In the Master’s Bed

Bronwyn Scott  ~ The Viscount Claims His Bride

Robyn DeHart  ~  Seduce Me

Terri Brisbin  ~  A Storm of Passion

Terri Brisbin   ~  The Conqueror’s Lady

Short Romantic Suspense

Carol Snow   ~  Here Today, Gone to Maui

Delores Fossen ~  Christmas Guardian

Kay Thomas  ~  Better Than Bulletproof

K.M. Daughters  ~   Beyond the Code of Conduct

Sheri Whitefeather  ~ Protecting Their Baby

Urban Fantasy with Romantic Elements

Anya Bast  ~  Witch Fury

Jenna Maclaine ~  Bound by Sin

Julie Kenner   ~  Tainted

Lori Devoti   ~  Amazon Ink

S. J. Day    ~   Eve of Darkness