Wait, what’s hotter than a Blaze? Times Square in a heat wave, that’s what. The RWA National conference is over for another year and it was a scorcher. (Maybe not as hot as Texas last year…. But even the air con in the hotels wasn’t cutting it sometimes.) It was a pleasure to hang out with authors, sharing meals and stories, and dancing like fools at the Harlequin party. We had the times of our lives! (Those who were there until the end will know what I’m talking about.) But now I have a hankering to stay inside in front of the vent, which blows cool air on me as I read. Ahh, refreshing. If, like me, you’re looking for something great to read, check out this month’s books from Harlequin Blaze!

Aug 855 Vicki

A great moment at the Harlequin party at RWA was when New York Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson was celebrated for having written 100 books! Way to go, Vicki! What an incredible milestone. She is a dynamo, and a really lovely person besides. I always enjoy reading her stories, and ROLLING LIKE THUNDER was no exception. This is the third book in the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood series, and if you’ve read the first two you will definitely enjoy seeing how Finn O’Rourke, who moved to Seattle long ago and became a successful microbrewery owner, transforms back into a cowboy when he returns to the ranch where he grew up. He’s working closely with Chelsea Trask, who thought she had a thing for Finn before…but he’s definitely irresistible now! Treat yourself and read all of this ongoing miniseries.

 

Aug 856 KateLove the Quinns? THE MIGHTY QUINNS: DEVIN should be your #1 pick this month! Elodie Winchester came from everything—wealth, connections—everything that Devin Cassidy never had. Including her! But now Elodie is back in town and the roles are reversed—she’s dealing with the small bit of inheritance that she has left, and he is the chief of police. Dev wants her as much as ever, but in this town, name still means everything. And to protect Elodie, he’ll have to sacrifice his reputation, including his unexpected tie to the Quinn family. A must read for fans of the wonderful Kate Hoffmann.

Aug 857 KimberlyI’m so happy that Kimberly Van Meter is writing for Blaze. :) She also writes for Superromance and Romantic Suspense, and those books are great. But Kim turns up the heat for Blaze and this story is scorching! Coco Abelli needs protection and Rian Dalton (you met his brother Kane in Kim’s previous Blaze, THE HOTTEST TICKET IN TOWN) is not interested. Protecting a spoiled heiress to a designer shoe empire, and one with a reputation for hard partying and getting into trouble to boot? Yeah, no. But Coco does her best to seduce Rian…and he just can’t resist! Then someone tries to kill her and…well, things get hot and dangerous. I hope you enjoy SEX, LIES AND DESIGNER SHOES because it’s full of fun and sultry scenes!

Aug 858 KelliYou never forget your first cowboy…ain’t that the truth! Kelli Ireland is back with a brand new trilogy about hot cowboys—Wild Western Heat. In this first book in the series, high-powered attorney Eli Covington returns to New Mexico to help save the family ranch. He left this life, and the only woman he was never able to resist, behind, but now he’s face to face with both parts of his past. Reagan Matthews was furious with Eli for leaving her all those years ago, and yet she was never quite able to let him go. Their attraction is as incendiary as ever—and Eli is very good at stoking the flames! But Eli doesn’t belong in her world, and Reagan doesn’t belong in his. Until then, they’ll take their pleasure where they can. We hope you love A COWBOY RETURNS!

Enjoy the rest of your summer, hopefully by reading all four of our August Blazes. As always, I’d like for three of you to receive a set of August titles. Tell me what summer activities you’re up to this month and we’ll enter you in a draw to win. Enjoy the heat!

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We held a fabulously fun Scavenger Hunt at the Romance Writers of America Literacy Signing last week!  Grand prize was a year’s subscription to Blaze. Talk about awesome, right?

And the winner is: Julie Pitzel

Congratulations, Julie!!! If you haven’t already been contacted by ‘those with the power to ship the books‘ you will be soon 😉

And here’s the thing.  The Scavenger Hunt was so fun that we have to do it again. But this time, we’re doing it online, with a lot more authors and making it easier for everyone who follows us on the world wide web to join in for a chance at winning.

So stay tuned… details will be posted soon! 

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Day #1 at RWA

There are fewer things more rewarding in life than finding ‘your people’. I’m talking about those people who understand what drives you, what inspires you, who understand what makes you tick. For me that’s other writers and readers.

On Sunday I flew home from New York totally exhausted but utterly thrilled to have spent four days hanging out with my writer friends at the Romance Writers of America conference. This was my first time attending an RWA conference in the US – yep, I was an RWA virgin! (I’ve been to the Aussie conferences twice before, but this was on a whole other level! 2,500+ excited women in a single hotel…crazy town).

Luckily there were plenty of people around to make me feel welcome and show me the ropes. I roomed with fellow Blaze Babe, Regina Kyle, who was an absolute hoot! She’s the only person I know who can make a show tune out of putting together swag bags.

So as a wide-eyed first-time attendee, I soaked it all in. Here were my highlights:

Signing my books! This was also my first time doing a book signing and I had a blast. I managed to meet so many wonderful people during the two hours where the signing took place. It was amazing to meet the people I’ve only ever chatted to online and to meet new readers as well.

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Me & Taryn Taylor showing off our shoes at the Harlequin Ball


The Harlequin Black & White Ball:
Harlequin are an amazing publisher to write for and every year they throw a huge party for all their authors. This year it took place at the Waldorf Astoria…talk about a ‘pinch yourself’ moment! Not only was the venue spectacular, but the chance to meet all the other authors I’ve admired and read for so many years was so exciting. Even better, was watching the authors get called up for their milestone achievements: 25 books, 50 books, 100 books and beyond! I have a little ways to go before I make it into those ranks.

Star Spotting: Okay, I’ll be honest here…I had a few fangirl moments at the conference. Spying Bella Andre and Sylvia Day walking around the hotel, meeting my idols Megan Hart and Roni Loren at the publisher signing events, hearing keynotes from amazing writers like Julia Quinn and Baraba Freethy…I was like a kid in a candy store!11781698_1653450971535031_8243080136113423487_n

Free Books: I came home with ALL OF THE BOOKS. Seriously, my husband sat there in shock as I unpacked my suitcase. I couldn’t help myself! It’s an addiction, really.

Meeting People and Making Friends: It sounds so corny but it really is true. I chat to so many people on Facebook and Twitter, finally being able to put faces to the profile pictures is great! And really, the people are what make the romance writing community such a great place. I always had someone to chat to, a dinner or lunch buddy when I needed it, a friendly face in the (long) line waiting for the elevators. It such a welcoming group of people and I’m grateful to be part of it.

9780373798742 smallI could go on and on about all the perks of being at conference, but those are the highlights. I also managed to squeeze in a few days sightseeing with my husband before the conference, which was awesome (despite it being ridiculously hot!)

But now it’s back to business! That means butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. I’m working on the second book in my Blaze miniseries about a group of people working for a New York private security company. The first, A Dangerously Sexy Christmas, is out this November and here’s a look at the GORGEOUS cover!!

It’s exactly how I’d picture the hero, Max. Good work Harlequin cover team!

 

 

 

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We’re happy to give away three sets of July Blazes! This month’s winners:

  • Summer
  • Colleen
  • Jane

Check out Kathleen’s blog next week for a preview of August’s Blaze lineup and your next chance to win!

What could be better than a weekend in New York City? A weekend in New York City with the best authors on the planet! This year I attended my first RWA National conference, and let me tell you, it was a heck of a trip. If you’re a writer, you must make plans to go. From the breadth of topics covered in workshops and panels to the chance to meet your favourite authors, there’s something for everyone at RWA.

author signing board

Blaze kicked butt at the Harlequin signing! Check out our fabulous authors, who signed boxes of books for excited fans and for charity!

Brenda Novak Tawny Weber 1 Kira Sinclair Nancy Warren 1

Brenda Novak and Tawny Weber, who was sending her SEAL hero off to many a good home; Kira Sinclair and Nancy Warren had duelling sexy book covers!

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Vicki Lewis Thompson and Regina Kyle, with their 101st and 2nd Blaze books, respectively! We call these covers “abtastic.”

We had a meet and greet for Blaze authors and editors. For many who have been attending the conference for years, it’s a chance to catch up with old friends. For a first-timer like me, it was an opportunity to put faces to the names I’ve been emailing and chatting with on the phone for years!

Blaze team RWA

 

And then, of course, came the Harlequin party. You may or may not know, but this epic celebration of our excellent authors is the social event to attend! At the fabled Starlight Roof at the Waldorf-Astoria, we danced the night away, letting down our hair (and taking off our shoes!) with authors like Shana Gray (top) and Tawny Weber!

the starlight roof  me and Janine

 

Tawny party RWA

My favourite part of the evening came when our very own Vicki Lewis Thompson was honoured for writing her 100th book with us (A LAST CHANCE CHRISTMAS, which came out in December 2014). The room burst into rapturous and well-deserved applause!

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CEO Craig Swinwood, Vicki, and Executive VPs Loriana Sacilotto and Brent Lewis.

The next day I managed to sneak off to Broadway with Regina Kyle. Only appropriate, since her first manuscript caught my eye with its Broadway setting!

me and Regina post-Broadway

 

Have you ever been to a conference like the RWA Nationals? Are you more a cozy-at-home type? What’s your favourite way to engage with fellow readers?

 

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If you’re reading this, I’m probably in the air flying home from New York City, returning from attending the National Romance Writers conference. I’ll tell you all about my first trip to NYC next month, but today I wanted to talk about the trip I just returned from. A week long visit with my sister in Memphis.
For the last 20 years my mom and other sisters and I have spent a week every summer visiting with my oldest sister. We play cards, visit museums, and just enjoy each others company.TG Nat, Tommy, Mimi
Her house was built in the 70’s and she and her husband are very frugal. They don’t have internet or cable TV, or even regular cell phones. What they do have is beautiful trees, a hammock, and original everything in the house. Wood paneled walls, old-fashioned sink faucets, light fixtures, etc.
As an avid fan of HGTV shows like Fixer Upper, I’ve started looking at my house with an eye to updating. Kitchen counters and sinks and faucets, floors, light fixtures, window treatments. Not that I can afford it, but I like to dream.Thanksgiving cleanup So, I started really noticing my sister’s house while we were there last week. And as I looked at all the 70’s decor, I could only see…memories. Sweet, happy, family gatherings. Holidays shared, laughter, love, support, long talks into the night about everything from politics to King Tut to space aliens. Relationship discussions on child-rearing, girlfriend trouble and boyfriend trouble and everything in between.Thom, Juliet, Jake playing Rummy Royal Memphis
I may someday update my house, but I realized something last week at my sister’s: Getting modern new light fixtures or wood flooring will be exciting, but the most important thing about my house is knowing that all the people that live there or gather there think of it as a place where love is.

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Hello! Hope you guys are having a great summer. I have a heavy travel schedule ahead. First, I’m heading to L.A. for the other side of my life where I cover the fall television season. Sometime before I get there, I have to find time to watch 40 or so pilots of the new shows. :) After L.A. I’m home for about a week and then I head to New Zealand for the New Zealand Romance Writer’s conference. They’ve asked me to speak and I’m so stocked about it.

While I’m there… I plan to catch a Hobbit. :) No really. I need someone who likes to cook and clean around this place. I’ve done ZERO research. I just know it’s beautiful in NZ. And I know it’s a SUPER long flight. :) We’re staying in Auckland, but if you have some ideas on where we should travel/things we should see while we’re there, PLEASE share.

And later this fall I’ll be in Detroit, Atlanta, the Ozarks and places I can’t remember at the moment. But I hope you’ll come see me wherever I land. So tell me what you’re doing this summer. I want to know.

 

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I’m late with the July blog – whoops! Something about Canada Day falling on a Wednesday, followed by Independence Day and…ok, actually I went to a cottage (a cabin to some of you Americans) and relaxed my ass off and thought “I’ll write that blog later.” And so I did write it. Later. But here it is! Good news is that July is a FANTASTIC month in Harlequin Blaze, and all four books are sure to entertain you as you read by the pool / lake / air conditioner. I’m excited to tell you about them!

July Vicki 851New York Times bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson sets us up with the second book in her Thunder Mountain Brotherhood series, THUNDERSTRUCK. Damon Harrison is one sexy cowboy, who also has a business flipping houses. Now he’s back at the Thunder Mountain Ranch helping out his foster parents construct some new buildings. Luckily, he has some help from a carpenter named Phil. Turns out “Phil” is short for Philomena and the chemistry between them is a lightning bolt of lust! Damon isn’t a relationship kind of guy, and Phil…well, she wants it all. Together they have to agree to a temporary agreement of mutual satisfaction. And it is hot! Enjoy our cowboy read of the month. And definitely enjoy the gorgeous cover – cowboy, horse, dog. Nice.

July Kira 852Kira Sinclair is back with the second book in her SEALs of Fortune miniseries. Her heroes are former Navy SEALs who run a salvage diving business—brains, brawn and business all rolled into three incredible guys! Knox McLemore is focused on claiming a famous shipwreck and needs the help of Dr. Avery Walsh, nautical archeologist. Her icy persona grates on Knox, but also arouses him. He can’t get involved with a woman who seems to hate him…and is apparently also keeping dark secrets from him. Secrets that have to do with Knox’s rival in raising the Chimera. By helping Knox, will Avery just be hurting herself? Find out in Kira’s sexy story, IN TOO DEEP.

July Samantha 853HOT IN THE CITY might just be the perfect title for this summer, especially if you happen to be heading to this year’s RWA conference in New York. What a fabulous read this is! Super smart mathematician Della Clark just met the most gorgeous man on a plane. They hit it off, but when he leaves her at baggage claim without so much as a swap of cell numbers, she tries to forget Gabe Ross. Except that’s not his name, and the man ditched her on purpose. Turns out Della is part of an investigation by Homeland Security, for which “Gabe” works. Their relationship turns into a battle of wits…and of mathematical odds! Samantha Hunter always writes a super-hot story, and this one doesn’t disappoint.

July Nancy 854Love a romance that starts with a wedding? Love an enemies to lovers story? Then you will LOVE LOVE LOVE this next book. USA Today bestselling author Nancy Warren has written a book that captivated me from start to finish. And not just because of the fantastic California settings of Napa and San Francisco. Or the sneaky trick that gets Lauren Sanger and Jackson Monaghan (who reeeaaalllly don’t like each other) into bed. Or the glorious details of making stained glass (Lauren is a glass artist). Or…well, you really have to read BEST MAN…WITH BENEFITS, which is one of the best The Wrong Bed novels I’ve ever read!

I truly hope you enjoy all four of our July Blazes. As always, I’d like for three of you to receive a set of this month’s titles. Tell me which cover you like best (I really love hearing your opinions on this!) and we’ll enter you in a draw to win. Enjoy the summer heat!

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Sending out a big hello! I’m Shana Gray, a brand spanking new Blaze author. Yep, that’s me. After years of trying, I finally got The Call. Kathleen Scheibling did the deed while I was on the road and driving to my surgeon’s follow up appointment – second carpal tunnel surgery. And THAT’s a whole other story.

This story is so much more fun. I submitted a very hot novella to Kathleen, and was thrilled to find out she loved it. I can only hbeachope the readers do too. More Than A Fling is going to be released in December, alongside a story written by Leslie Kelly. Our book is titled A Taste of Paradise, and has a tropical setting. Mine is set in Hawaii and our hero and heroine get up to all sorts of smexy shenanigans. If you would like to get a flavour of my book, I have a Pinterest Board you might want to check out.

Shana Gray is my new author name. I was previously published under a different name and slowly retiring her. I hope you check out my website for more news and information. There is also a newsletter signup too, for times when there’s a little more to say.

I’ll be visiting this blog on the 7th of every month and will try and keep things interesting.

Is anyone going to RWA conference in a couple weeks? I’ll be there. If you are, give me a poke to say hi.

So, until next month … be safe and have an awesome summer.

All my SM particulars:

Twitter @shanagray_

Facebook

Website shanagray.com

Pinterest

Since I’m new…I thought I’d pop in my bio :)

Now writing under her new  name, she will be published with Loveswept/Random House and Harlequin Blaze. Shana is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

Shana’s passion is to enjoy life! She loves to travel and see the world, be with family, friends and experience the beauty that surrounds us. Much of her experiences find their way into her  books.  First published in 2010 as Cristal Ryder, Shana has written contemporary erotic romances for  Sybarite Seductions, Lyrical Press (now Kensington) and Ellora’s Cave. Her stories range from scorching quickie length to longer erotic romance novellas.

She splits her time between her house in a small Ontario town with her twentysomething son’s, four cats, two budgies and, as the world knows him, Meat Man’s house. It’s an adventurous challenge that she loves.

 

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Repartee. Defined, according to dictionary.com, as “a quick, witty reply”, “conversation full of such replies”, and “skill in making such replies.” In real life, I’m abysmal at all three. That’s what I love about books, television shows, movies, plays–characters might be facing the darkest of perils, but through it all, the dialogue sparkles.

As a socially-awkward introvert, I am enamoured with the idea of outwitting the I-wish-I-would-have-saids. I think it’s what made me start writing in the first place. I love that even if it takes me three days to suss out the perfect retort or the mot juste, in Storyland, my characters get the glory of saying the perfect thing in the perfect moment.

There’s a school of thought that when you write a cast of characters, you should strive to give each of them such a distinctive voice that you’d recognize the speaker even without a dialogue tag. And while I appreciate the premise, it’s a constant struggle for me. I think it’s because almost all of my favourite “can’t get enough of that dialogue” shows–Dawson’s Creek, Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Firefly, Community, Suits, to name but a few–are guilty of this cardinal sin.

Critics might pan this overly articulate chatter, but for me, “no one talks like that in real life” is the highest of compliments.

I, for one, don’t care if the dumbest kid in school sounds exactly like the honour student, or her mom, or an Ivy-League-educated lawyer, so long as they’re making me laugh.

Give me a snappy comeback…

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…a witty one-liner…

…some sexy banter…

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…or a sly reference, (with bonus points for a double entendre)…

…and I’m yours.

How do I know I love a movie, TV show, or book? I’m still quoting it long after the credits have rolled or the cover’s been closed.

So? What are your thoughts on dialogue? Do you like it fast, furious, and full of sarcasm, like me? Or does it bug you when the characters are indescipherable from one another? Got a favourite line to share or a recommendation for a show or book I shouldn’t miss? Leave it in the comments.

PS – Wishing a very happy 4th of July to all you proud Americans south of the border!

 

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Last year was a big year for me. My debut book came out with Harlequin, I rode the roller coaster ride that is the publishing industry, I quit my day job and I moved to the other side of the world.

Far, far, far away from my family.

This was really freaking hard. I’m half Italian and family is a BIG DEAL to me. We’re a small close-knit family and I’m used to visiting them often. All I can say is thank god for Skype!

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Little Sis and Me (and our matching glasses)

Last week my little sister (who’s 29, so not that little) came to visit with her lovely boyfriend. Now that I’ve been in Canada for ten months, it was so great to be able to see them in the flesh. Screen time is great when you’re only other option is email or Facebook, but being able to see her lovely face in person was the best!

Playing tour guide to my new home is great, because it means I get to explore things I might not have seen otherwise. One of the highlights was going to the Rippley’s Acquarium (which I highly recommend if you’re ever in Toronto) and seeing all the cool underwater life there…especially the sharks. I’m a total sucker for anything shark related.

I saw Little Sis and her BF off yesterday morning and now it’ll be a while before I get to see them again. It’s bittersweet. But I’ll continue to be grateful for all the amazing technology we now have at our fingertips, which helps families spread out across the globe to stay in touch.

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Doesn’t it make you want to go for a swim?

Family ends up being a theme in many of my books. I guess I like to explore different family dynamics and situations in my fiction, and look at how that affects the hero and heroine. Our families teach us so much about life, they influence the way we think about things, they shape our perception of relationships and—although their influence is not always positive—we would be different people if we didn’t have the families we grew up with.

At least, that’s my opinion anyway.

I’m getting so excited for the release of my first Blaze book in November. A DANGEROUSLY SEXY CHRISTMAS definitely has a family-themed thread along with a sprinkle of Christmas magic.

But in the meantime I’m heading to the Romance Writers of America conference in July!! Exciting times.

Are you going to RWA? I’ll be signing books at the “Readers for Life” Literacy Autographing on Wednesday, July 22, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the New York Marriott Marquis. More information here.

If you’re attending this year do come along and say hi! I’d love to meet the lovely readers of this blog in person.

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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.
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