October winners! A little late, but you each get a set of October Blaze books, which are in the mail as we speak! Winners are:

  • Elaine G
  • Tammy Yenalavitch
  • Liv

Thanks to everyone who entered. Keep an eye out for Kathleen’s blog next week for another chance to win.

I can’t believe how quickly this month (this season, this year!) has gone by. My October has been full of interesting sights and events (not to mention all the fun of the So You Think You Can Write contest, which has been busy and wonderful and is why I’m late posting on this blog!). Early in the month, my partner Graham and I went to Buffalo to tour one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpieces, the Darwin Martin house. If you’re an architecture buff and anywhere near the area, I highly recommend it!

20141001_135040

 

We visited our friends in Kitchener, a small city outside of Toronto, for their housewarming (they just bought their first house, and though it’s not quite as innovative as the one above, it’s still pretty exciting!), and later that evening we went to Nuit Blanche, an all-night city-wide conceptual art festival. Nuit Blanche can be….weird.

20141004_213958

 

But it can also be interactive! My favourite part of the night was a traditional printshop studio that was running demonstrations of how different kinds of prints were made, including lithographs and silkscreening. They also had a forced-perspective photo shoot set up. Here’s Graham the Giant and me….

unnamed

 

I also went for the first time to see Cirque du Soleil—a very Canadian experience that for some reason I’d never had before! This show, called Kurios, had a steampunk theme and was visually breathtaking. Cotton candy was eaten, as is customary at the circus….

             20141007_19551320141007_211332

 

So that’s what I’ve been up to! How about you? What have you been doing this autumn? Are you getting ready for Halloween? Share what your October’s been like in the comments below!

Comments 1 Comment »

Nowadays most actors, and authors too, use their real name. But sometimes an author will choose a pen name if she writes two (or more) different genres so the reader can distinguish between the genres.
For instance Jayne Ann Krentz writes hot contemporary Romances. But she also writes Historical Romance under the pen name Amanda Quick and she writes paranormal Romance under the pen name Jayne Castle. Jayne ann krentz
But is there any other reason to use a pen name? Particularly in Romance, would a name like GERTRUDE CHALUPNIK be a detriment?
When I first sold to the Silhouette Desire line, the powers that be at Harlequin Books let me keep my real name. But once I started writing for Blaze, they wanted me to change my first name. My editor said Juliet was too “romancy” and the Blaze line had a more urban, contemporary edge to it than the more traditionally dramatic Desire line. This seemed a somewhat reasonable explanation.
It got me to thinking about names and how important they are.
One of the best examples of this is Archibald Leach.Grant,_Cary You may have known him as Cary Grant. Suave, debonair, romantic…Archibald? Or how about Desperate Housewife–Clare Woodgate (Kim Cattrall), Singer–Clayton Grissom (Clay Aiken), Rapper–Artis Ivey Jr. (Coolio), Actor–Thomas Mapother VI (Tom Cruise), Magician—Erich Weiss (Harry Houdini), or filmmaker—Shelton Jackson Lee (Spike Lee).
With a lot of these celebrities, you can see at least a derivative of their birth name in their stage name, but what about British actress–Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg? She very purposely chose a specific name for the recognition it would bring her: Jane Seymour. The famous wife of King Henry VIII.
But what about authors? Why should we use a pen name?
In my opinion, the most famous woman author to use a pen name was the French novelist, George Sand. She was born Lady Amandine Aurore Lucille Dupin in 1804. She often dressed as a man, smoked cigars in public, and fought all her life for equality for women. She wanted her novels to be judged by a man’s standards, and they were. George Sands was a contemporary of Jane Austen, and supported herself by her writing just as Jane did, but George conducted numerous tumultuous love affairs throughout her life, including a passionate affair with Frédéric Chopin. I adore all of Jane Austen’s works. But I really admire the gutsy, progressive George Sands. Would she have been able to live the life she did if she’d published under the name Lady Aurora Dudevant? (her married name)
It used to be the norm for Harlequin to make their authors take pen names. As a matter of fact, until a few big name authors fought it and won over a decade ago, Harlequin owned an author’s name and if someone wanted to branch out to sell to another publisher, that author had to sell under a different name. Jayne Ann Krentz wrote Silhouette Desires as Stephanie James. But even with the relaxed standards, some authors still use a pen name. Like Eleanor Marie Robertson writes as…can you guess? I’ll reveal the author’s name at the end of the blog.
I’ve finally gotten used to Jillian Burns, but I never wanted the fuss of 2 different e-mails or Facebook pages, so those are both still under Juliet Burns
What about you? Does an author’s name matter to you if it’s hard to pronounce or sounds non-“Romancey”?

Ok, did you guess it yet? Eleanor Marie Robertson is Nora Roberts.

Comments 2 Comments »

Okay, true confession time: I’m a couple of days late with this blog post. But I hope you forgive me because I have a really, really good reason. I’m hard at work trying to finish the next book in the Art of Seduction series, Triple Time, so I can meet my deadline in just a couple of weeks.

This is the first time I’ve had to write on deadline, so it’s a new experience for me. I’m finding it a bit challenging, but I’m definitely learning how to balance work, writing and my family life. Sort of like trial by fire.

I’m also having a blast getting to know Gabe and Devin. If you’ve read the first book in the series, Triple Threat (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for LOL?), then you’ve met both uptight prosecutor Gabe Nelson and free-spirited bartender Devin Padilla. His sister, Holly, is the heroine in Triple Threat, and she’s Devin’s best friend. These two opposites don’t just attract – they combust. I can’t wait for you to meet them next June.

GabeI’m an author who’s definitely visual, so I always have photographic inspiration for my characters. For Holly and Nick in Triple Threat, it was Maggie Gyllenhaal and Joe Manganiello. For Gabe, it’s Eric Bana. When I was just starting to write Triple Time, my husband was sick (he’s fine now) and spending a lot of time on the couch watching sappy movies. One of them was The Time Traveler’s Wife, and when I saw Mr. Bana on screen I new immediately he was my Gabe, who I’ve always thought of as a combination of Michael J. Fox’s character in Family Ties and Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

DevinDevin was a bit more difficult to pin down. She’s not your typical Blaze heroine. She’s a bit rough around the edges: tough, street smart, tatted up and sporting multiple piercings. I was Googling tattoos when I found this picture and it was like I’d seen it before I conjured her. Perfect.

I know, I know, now you don’t want to wait until June to see the sparks fly between these two, do you? I wish you didn’t have to, either. But until then I’ll be sure to feed your need with teasers on my Facebook fan page, website and of course this blog. And you know what they say about what comes to those who wait, right?

Good things, readers. I wish you only good things.

Peace out,

Regina

Comments No Comments »

…because the Covington brother are coming in August 2015. Who are the Covington brothers? Well, this is Ty:

Blond Ty from Back XLG

Ty is the youngest of the Covington brothers, the three brothers who have totally different feelings about how best to save the family ranch. But Ty’s pretty dang smart for the youngest. Plus? He’s funny. And you all know how I love me some funny.

He’s hot, compassionate, highly driven to succeed and to be his own man outside the shadows his successful brothers set for themselves. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), Ty’s book is third in the series. I believe in giving us all something to look forward to.

The second story? Well, that’s all about Cade, the middle brother with a bit of a chip on his shoulder over having been left by the oldest brother to run the ranch. Cade had dreams and…I hate to give a good story away. Let’s just say when he’s trapped in the mountains with a travel reporter for New Mexico Magazine (thank you, flash flooding), he discovers that having stayed home all those years may pay dividends he never dreamed of. Readers, please meet Cade:

Ben-JGP_9482pm

 

And finally, there’s the first book. Elijah Covington gave up the family legacy to get out of the two stoplight town. What he gained versus what he lost never quite equalled out, and now that he’s home to probate his father’s estate? Things are heating up as all he left behind comes rushing to the forefront and forces him to reevaluate what matters most. I’d like to introduce you to Eli and his left-behind lover, veterinarian Reagan Matthews:

JGP_2640

The great news? It all kicks off in 2015. The bad news? It’s…um…August 2015. But watch both my personal blog and this fabulous Blaze blog in order to catch snippets and contests regarding the Covington brothers as each book is finished and we get closer and closer to the August release date! Because, my beloved readers, these men are hot, hard-bodied and huge-hearted. And the heat factor? Let’s just say I’m worried about starting a wildfire. :D

Until next time,
Kelli

 

Comments 13 Comments »

Greetings Blaze Babes!

I have a book out this month, Some Like it Hotter, which got a Top Pick from Romantic Times, yay (oops, maybe I already bragged about that last month?). It’s part of a 2-book series about a laid-back central Californian and her uptight Manhattan sister, both coffee shop owners, who switch lives. Right now I’m working on a daily serial linking the two books, which will be on eHarlequin.com on weekdays for four weeks starting December 29th. Busy times! But fun. It’s been a challenge writing 500-word chapters. I’m just getting going and . . . it’s over.

The second I tasted this month’s recipe I knew I had to put it up here: a single serving of cake microwaved in a mug. I guess it’s a common gimmick (I’m always the last to know!) but I think this one is unusual from what I’ve read in that the texture is quite cake-like, not gummy, plus it has oatmeal in it, which means it’s super-healthy, right? The version they had in our local paper was too sweet for me so here are some suggestions for those who adore sugar, but only so much.

– Try slightly sweetened peanut butter instead of Nutella
– Try adding a tablespoon of semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips
– Try replacing one of the tablespoons of flour with cocoa powder
– Try lightly sweetened cream cheese instead of Nutella and add chopped apple
– Try omitting cinnamon and adding a bit of lemon zest, maybe a few thawed berries

Have fun with this! Note: I haven’t tried all of the above they’re just ideas, so if they ruin it, you can be mad, but not sue me.

Oatmeal Nutella Mug Cake

Makes 1 mug cake

3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons rolled oats
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans, plus more to garnish
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
Pinch nutmeg, optional
1 tablespoon Nutella, or any chocolate-hazelnut spread, plus more to garnish

In a 12-ounce (or larger) mug, whisk together the milk, olive oil, and sugar. Whisk in the flour until smooth, then whisk in the oats, pecans, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and nutmeg, if using.

Dollop the Nutella on top and push in gently so it is partially submerged in the cake batter.

Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds, and then in 15-second bursts until the top looks dry and cooked and springs back when pressed with a finger. (Ours cooked fine in 1 minute)

Let stand at least 5 minutes before eating, as the cake and Nutella center will be quite hot. Top with additional Nutella if feeling indulgent! (Or heck, how about whipped or ice cream?)

See you all next month,

Isabel
www.IsabelSharpe.com

Comments No Comments »

I always thought people who put costumes on dogs were weirdos. Now I am one. It started with Gizmo, who is part Japanese Chin/Maltese and growls at everything. One Halloween someone gave us a devil costume for him, and it was a gateway drug. He loved it. Pranced around showing everyone, and growled when we tried to take it off of him. Our big dog at the time, Scoobie, was jealous. So we decorated a bandana and called it her “pretty” and she had to show every kid who knocked on our door.

Who knew?

Then Elvis, my tiny little Shih-tzu came into our lives. This girl hates bows in her hair, but she loves clothes. She was absolutely meant to be my dog. She has sweaters and coats, and a couple of superhero t-shirts. She loves them all. I think sometimes more because we keep her shaved, and she’s cold all the time. :) Most of the clothes are given to us by friends and family who think it’s hilarious to dress up dogs. But this Halloween I thought I’d buy Elvis a costume and I want you guys to help. There’s a mug shot of Elvis below so you can see her. And then comment below on which costume you think Elvis should wear this year. Elvis, Fairy, Peacock, Tricertops or Witch? Leave your comments below  Fairy Peacock Tricertops Witch

Elvis Mug Shot

Elvis Mug Shot

Comments 3 Comments »

By Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze

Oh, lucky me! Why, you ask? Well, as I sit here writing this blog I’m worried that by the time I get outside for my Sunday bike ride the sun may be too hot. Hahahaha! Yes, I live in Canada, and yes, it’s still hot outside. Yay! It may have been a cool summer, but now it’s extendo-summer—and I love it! What else do I love? Reading all four Blazes for the month and letting you know what fabulous reads are in store for you. Let’s keep the heat, and that summer feeling, going!

Oct 815 AnneFirst up, our Uniformly Hot! title this month, WICKED NIGHTS by New York Times bestselling author Anne Marsh. If you like sexy SEALs and a gorgeous California setting, this book is for you. Cal Brennan is a former rescue swimmer for the Navy. Because of a traumatic experience on his last mission he’s been, well, a little wary of getting back in the water. Then comes a dare—and a bet—from his childhood nemesis Piper Clark. The two of them are competing for a diving contract from a local cruise company, and winning it is a make-or-break situation for their competing businesses. But Piper’s dare has even higher stakes…winner takes all in bed, too! Anne is writing great books in this wicked trilogy, which includes WICKED SEXY (July 2014) and the upcoming WICKED SECRETS. She’s one to watch!

We’re delighted to have Isabel Sharpe in the Blaze line-up this month. SOME LIKE IT HOTTER is a duet, withOct 816 Isabel the second book, HER PERFECT INDULGENCE, coming out in February 2015. These two stories are connected by twin sisters who own coffee shops on different coasts. To keep life interesting, they decide to swap businesses and residences for one month. That means laid-back California girl Eva Meyer has her hands full trying to convince uptight New Yorker Ames Cooke that there’s more to life than work—and boy, she shows him! Isabel has written a truly funny story—fans of romantic comedy, here you go! But also there’s emotion and serious heat here. If you’re in a New York state of mind, pick up this book! And watch for the next one. I really enjoyed this read and I’m sure you will, too.

Oct 817 ErinNew York Times bestselling author Erin McCarthy returns with the second book in her naughty From Every Angle miniseries, CLOSE UP. This is a smokin’ hot reunion story! Sean and Kristine Maddock separated years ago…but never got divorced. Sean has spent a lot of time imagining their heated reunion—so it’s a shock to be served with divorce papers by his not-so-former wife! The new proposal? One wild, dirty weekend—just to clear out the cobwebs, so they say. Ha! Sean and Kristine rekindle the fire, but is it something that will last and truly bring them back together? Read to find out!

Oct 818 ReginaThe reviews are in for Regina Kyle, our newest Blaze author, and they’re fabulous! We’re thrilled to have found Regina, who was the winner of our 2013 Blaze Writing Challenge contest. She’s writing a four-book series for us called The Art of Seduction and I know you’re going to love this launch book, TRIPLE THREAT. Playwright Holly Nelson lusted after Nick Damone in high school, but Holly never imagined the now-famous Nick would want to star in her first Broadway production. Things definitely heat up between them, even as a series of accidents force a chain of events that could bring down the curtain on the whole production! Regina writes with the perfect blend of funny, smart and sexy. Pick up Regina’s book—you will love it!

I hope you get your hands on all four of our sizzling reads. Tell me what is your favorite cover this month and I’ll enter you in a draw to win one of three sets of October Blazes. Enjoy the heat!

Comments 11 Comments »

I first read Jane Eyre when I was about 12. The Bronte sisters and Jane Austen were a huge influence on me in my preteen and young teenage years. jane-eyre
But then, it seemed life got busy. I was in the choir and pep club in school, got a job, and a boyfriend. But after school, I found myself back at the library, reading what my mother read: Gothics. These wonderful novels shaped my writing today. Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels. I didn’t have as much time to read as I did back in those golden days of my youth, but I’d always been a fast reader, and once I’d devoured all of their novels, love of Gothics led to reading modern Mysteries like Sue Grafton, Elizabeth George, and Patricia Cornwell.
So, it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my third child at the dangerously advanced age of 37 and my doctor ordered me on bed rest that I found I had a lot of time on my hands again. I’d always read, but, I mean, I had LOTS of time to fill. So, I tried a Historical Murder Mystery by Amanda Quick, RAVISHED.Ravished
And I was hooked.
I went back to the library and got everything else by her. And when I couldn’t find anymore, I went back to that paperback rack in the library and lucked upon the most wonderful romance–still, to this day—I’ve ever read, FLOWERS FROM THE STORM. Of course, I then had to get everything written by Laura Kinsale. How to describe the transcendent quality of THE PRINCE OF MIDNIGHT, or THE SHADOW AND THE STAR? You just have to read them.
Then I discovered Mary Balogh, who is as prolific as she is unsurpassed in the Regency Romance. There’s just something about her characters, a…sense of humanity, a depth of emotion, and a profound understanding of love that permeates every book she writes.
And what list of the best of the best of Romance authors would be complete without the superlative Loretta Chase? The wit, the brilliance, the distinctiveness of her voice and her characters will amaze you. I started with LORD OF SCOUNDRELS
For contemporary Romances my absolute favorite authors might surprise you. All 3 have written category for Harlequin: Gayle Wilson, Jo Leigh, and Evelyn Vaughn. Evelyn, Jo and Gayle will keep me up all night reading, on the edge of my seat. Someday, I want to be them when I grow up.
There are many more authors on my keeper shelf, (Mary Jo Putney, Courtney Milan, Lisa Kleypas, Lorraine Heath and many, many more) and frankly I’ve avoided making this kind of list public until now for fear of insulting someone by leaving them out. But I think even those authors I just mentioned would agree with me, if you want to inspire a budding new writer to be the best damn writer she can be, have them read Kinsale, or Balogh, or Wilson, or Chase, or Leigh, or Vaughn. They are in a class all their own.

So, who are your favorite authors?

Comments 3 Comments »

Okay, I confess: I have not read Outlander. Or any of Diana Gabaldon’s other books in the series. I might. Some day. In the distant future. Right now I’m too swamped with promotion for Triple Threat (in stores now and available in e-book October 1!), getting my proposal for book three in on time (done!) and finishing up book two (not done – yikes!).jamie outlander

But after seeing numerous Facebook posts from my author friends who had read the books, I felt compelled to check out the new Starz TV series based on them when it premiered in August. Admittedly, a lot of my motivation was due to the extremely lovely Scotsman Sam Heughan, who plays swoonworthy Jamie Frasier (or James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser, if you prefer to call him by his full name). But once I started watching, I was completely and totally hooked, not just by his smouldering eyes, sexily mussed hair and washboard abs, but by fierce and feisty Claire and the chemistry between them, not to mention the cinematography and the lush settings of Scotland, where the series is filmed.

And it’s not just me who’s hooked. Even my husband’s watching. I guess there’s enough blood and gore for him (and I’m told there’s more to come for poor Jamie in particular). And my 16-year-old daughter is addicted, too. Yes, she joins in my appreciation for Mr. Heughan’s Jamie. But it’s more (or equally as much) that she wants to tune in each week to see what’s going to happen next. How will Claire escape Black Jack Randall’s clutches? Will she get back through the stones? Who will she choose: Jamie or her husband in 1940s post-war England, Frank Randall? (Seriously, woman., is there even a choice? Is anyone on Team Frank, except maybe Frank?)

We’ve enjoyed watching the weekly episodes as a family. In all honestly, there hasn’t been a show we’ve all enjoyed equally since Monk. And that went off the air in 2009.

And then came this week’s episode . . .

I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it. But it was the long-anticipated wedding episode, and suffice it to say it was steamy with a capital “S.” Not once. Not twice. But three times. It was like True Blood meets Highlander.

I know my daughter’s sixteen. I know she’s knows what sex is. But I could have done without watching it next to her on our living room sofa. (Interesting to note that when I watched it again later, by myself, the steamy scenes seemed a lot shorter. They were intermenably long when I watched with her.)

At this point, I can’t really tell her to stop watching the show. That would be like trying to put the horse back in the barn. She’s a young adult, and in less than two years she’ll be out of the house and on her own (except for the hefty college tuition her dad and I will be paying).

I guess it’s time to face the fact that my baby is a baby no longer. Thanks, Outlander, for giving me a big, fat reality slap to the face. But as long as you keep bringing me Jamie and his smouldering eyes and his sexy hair and those yummy arms, chest and abs, this sassanach will forgive you.

Comments Comments Off

STRIPPED DOWN is officially alive. That’s right, it’s out in the wild. So wild, in fact, I found it at Wal-Mart. On a Saturday. At 2:00 p.m. My friends, fighting those crowds is about as “wild” as my life gets these days. :)  But it’s out there, and I’m happier than a certain blue-jacket-wearing rabbit with open access to Farmer McGregor’s garden. That’s pretty happy, my friends.

 

And maybe (who am I kidding? No doubt!) it’s a stretch to put my first Blaze release in the same category as anything by Beatrix Potter, but here’s what I’ve learned: we’re both authors. That blurs a lot of lines I always considered hard lines between good and great.

What changed my mind? A conversation with a very good friend. This friend, who shall remain unnamed for privacy purposes, is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author many times over. She’s brilliant, charming, gracious and kind–all the things I decided I had to make priorities when I met her. She’s my hero in many ways, and my mentor in many more. I’ve always looked at her work and thought to myself, “I want to be that good. I want to write stories readers gobble up like hers.”

As the Fates would have it, my friend offered to read/critique my first cowboy Blaze, tentatively titled BLOWN AWAY. Her reponse? “My first thought on reading this was that I should just give up writing. I’ve always wanted to write like this, but I never will. As a reader, I knew there were words on the page, but I was too busy sensing and seeing everything you wrote about to consider the words. This is amazing, honey.”  She went on, but anything more will just make me sound like a jerk, and this? There’s a purpose to this.

After I was done weeping post-Skype call, and when the shakes finally settled down, something else dawned on me. I’ve always thought of writing in a ladder system, where you move one rung up or down based on a HUGE variety of factors. I know, I know. The idea was ridiculous. Keep in mind, though, that I don’t do math. At all. The extend of my intimate relationship with numbers runs to memorizing phone numbers. The. End. :D  So anyway, it hit me that she and I are both writers. We both have strengths. Conversely, we both have weaknesses. She works just as hard as I do to be brilliant. She’s been more successful in the brilliance department because she’s written many more books. BUT…I’m learning by continuing to write and continuing to read–read, read, read. I learn so much from seeing how a great story is put together by reading.

But here’s the other truth: I learn just as much from reader feedback. When a reader comes to me and says, “I loved your book, but I wish X had happened too,” I literally make notes. I learn from so many sources on how to improve.

This little revelation turned my ladder into a twisty slide that dumped all of us at the bottom of the sandbox in a giant, laughing heap. Because you know what? There is no ladder system. There’s learning, there’s (massive) effort, there’s appreciation, there’s writing what you love and there’s gratitude. That’s it. Mix those ingredients and the authors, and most of the readers, end up in the same puppy pile laughing and talking and enjoying each others’ company because we have those things in common.

So while STRIPPED DOWN is out in the wilds of McGregor’s garden chomping away on the carrots (I happen to LOVE raw carrots), my inner writer self is giddily at work on Eli and Reagan’s story, preparing to give you a better story every time as I live those five points: I learn; I exert (massive) effort; I appreciate every moment, reader, fellow writer and my editor (waves at Adrienne); I write what I love; I live with an attitude of gratitude. Beyond that? Well, the rest is just words.

I hope you get a chance to read STRIPPED DOWN and enjoy it. WOUND UP releases January 1 (December 16 for print books — thank you, Amazon, for the Christmas gift!). I really do have a serious book-boyfriend crush on the hero of this particular book, and I hope you will too.

Thank you so much for your amazing support and your awesome feedback. You guys rock!

Winners of the STRIPPED DOWN contest are: Marcy Shuler, Tammy Yenalavitch and Carol W. Congratulations! If you’ll send me your contact information through my website (www.kelliireland.com) and let me know if you want the digital book or the paperback, I’ll get those in the e/mail today!

Comments 6 Comments »

Cover Art Copyright @by Harlequin Enterprises Limited. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. BLAZE, HARLEQUIN and the JOEY design are trademarks of Harlequin Enterprises Limited, used with permission.
%d bloggers like this: