Archive for 2009

The holiday extravaganza continues

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

Two more signed books are up this time, both by the fantabulous Amanda McCabe

The Winter Queen

Cover of The Winter Queen by Amanda McCabe
Sent to Serve
As Queen Elizabeth’s lady-in-Waiting, innocent Lady Rosamund is unprepared for the temptations of Court. She is swept up in the festivities of the yuletide season and, as seduction perfumes the air, Rosamund is drawn to darkly enticing Anton Gustavson. . .

Seduced By A Master!
With the coming of the glittering Frost Fair, they are tangled in a web of forbidden desire and dangerous secrets. For in this time of desperate plots and intrigues, Anton is more than just a handsome suitor– he may have endangered the life of the woman he is learning to love . . .

Spirited Brides

This book includes two wonderful stories for your enjoyment! How could you possibly resist?

Cover of Spirited Brides by Amanda McCabeOne Touch of Magic
Sarah, Lady Iverson, is forging ahead with her late husband’s work by excavating an ancient Viking village on an estate owned by Miles Rutledge, who inherited the property from his uncle. Although dismayed that a dig is being performed on grounds best suited for crops, he’s intrigued by Sarah’s scholarly pursuits–and by a connection between them that promises wealth beyond any buried treasure.

A tour-de-force — Rakehell Reviews

A Loving Spirit
Visiting Royce Castle in the wilds of Cornwall delights Cassie Richards, for she’s always been intrigued by the stories of its ghosts–and by the enigmatic lord of the manor. Rational-minded Phillip, the Earl of Royce, has no time or patience for silly rumors of phantoms–or the attentions of attractive young ladies. But when Cassie arrives at his mother’s invitation, he’s hard put to deny an unexpected infatuation that might just bloom into love…with some spiritual guidance.

An engaging romp with a romance that’s sure to please — Romance Reviews Today

How to be in the running to win these two books

Easy! All you have to do is answer the following question before December 31 is over — here in California. Shortly after that I will choose a random winner. If you don’t leave me a way to contact you, you’ll have to commit to checking back after the 31st to see if you won. I reserve the right to choose another winner if previous winners fail to timely respond. Void where prohibited.

The Question

Which would you rather have, exquisite taste in fashion or an unerring sense of timing. Why?

Go.

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Winner of the 4 book giveaway!

Friday, December 25th, 2009

Randomly chosen winner is:

#14: Amanda

Amanda — you’ll need to email me with your snail mail address. If I don’t hear from you by next Friday (12.31) I’ll have to choose a different winner, so claim your books! Woot!

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Feeling a bit overwhelmed — in a good way

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Right. So In February, Berkley published my historical Scandal. And recently, Scandal was on three of Dear Author’s reviewer lists of top reads for 2009, including Jane’s. Indiscreet made a couple of those lists, too. I was really really flattered by that.

Today, Scandal was included on Dear Author’s list of Top 100 Romances. Not Top 100 for 2009. Top 100 ever. Take a look at the names and books on that list. I would hyperventilate if I were to meet some of those authors. Probably all of them. The way I did when I met Mary Balogh. She probably thinks I’m a total dork — Thankfully, I doubt she remembers me by name.

This is quite an emotional moment for me because Scandal was almost the book that wasn’t.

I am flattered beyond words that Scandal would show up on a list like that.

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Carolyn’s Holiday Extravaganza Continues With More!

Monday, December 21st, 2009

OK. Here’s the winnings. Also, All these books are signed by the author!

Cover It Happened One Night by Lisa Dale

Lisa Dale’s It Happened One Night

Sometimes Love Finds You When You Least Expect It
Lana Biel has always wanted to shake the dust of Vermont off her feet and see the world, one exotic country after another. But when a lighthearted spring fling changes her life forever, she turns tot he one man whose strong shoulders can lighten any burden: her best friend, Eli Ward.
Eli has always been there for Lana– after all, that’s what best friends do. But Lana isn’t the only one hiding something. Eli is keeping secrets of his own that threaten their relationship. Yet as summer turns to fall, new desires awaken between them, even as old fears tear them apart. Then, when another Vermont winter fills the valleys with snow, Eli and Lana are given the chance for an adventure greater than they ever dreamed possible. . . and a love that will last for all time.

Evenings at the Argentine Club by Julia Amante


Victor and Jaqueline Torres imagined moving to the U.S. would bring happiness and prosperity-instead they found a world of frustration. While Victor put long hours into his restaurant business, Jaqui devoted her life to her daughters, until they grew up and moved on. Even their eldest, Victoria, is torn trying to reconcile being the perfect Argentine daughter and an independent American woman. Antonio and Lucia Orteli face the same realities, especially when their only son Eric leaves their close-knit Argentine community in pursuit of his own dreams. When Eric unexpectedly shows up at the Argentine Club-the heart of the Argentine community in southern California-he starts a series of events that will bring these two families closer than ever. New relationships are formed and old ones are put to the test, as everyone must learn how to balance different cultures-and different dreams-without hurting those they love.

Seduce Me by Robyn DeHart, Legend Hunters Series: Book One

Cover of Seduce My by Robyn DeHartFielding Grey is a treasure seeker with a taste for danger and experienced women. His latest mission: wrest Pandora’s fabled box from a notorious criminal mastermind. Not in the job description: save an innocent damsel in distress.

A bookish miss, Esme Worthington has favored dusty tomes over society balls, and thrilling tales over flirtations. But when two scoundrels break into her home, she is thrust into a real-life adventure. Pursued and suddenly possessing the forbidden box, Esme can’t resist peeking inside. Under the spell of Pandora’s seductive curse, she’s soon offering herself to Fielding – body and soul. With her reluctant rescuer determined to resist her charms, can the two outwit an enemy who will stop at nothing to seize their precious prize?

Spine-tingling adventure and sexy secrets! Robyn DeHart’s vibrant characters sweep the reader into a clever and sensual romp that is not to be missed.
– Julia London, NYT Bestselling Author of Highland Scandal

SEDUCE ME is a rousing and rollicking romantic adventure! If you like THE MUMMY and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, you’ll love SEDUCE ME. Robyn DeHart proves that falling in love is the greatest adventure of all.
– Teresa Medeiros, NYT Bestselling Author of Some Like it Wild

Find out More

A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore

What happens when a lady desires not one man, but two?
Cover of A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore
CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE…
Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul… until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands-and his wife.
TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS…

Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game-where the stakes are not only love… but life and death.

… one of the best historical romances I have read this year.
– Fallen Angels Reviews

… delivers almost too thoroughly on its heart-tearing premise.
– Publisher’s Weekly

…an up-and-coming new writer who displays a skillful touch…
– New York Times bestselling author Shirlee Busbee

…a unique plot filled with powerful emotion and complex issues.
–Romantic Times

How to Win All These Books!

Leave a comment with an answer to this question:

Do you ever cry at movies? If yes, what’s the most recent movie that got you teary-eyed? No worries if the answer is no.

I’ll choose a random winner on 12/24, okay?

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A dilemma.

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Today I didn’t feel good, so I didn’t do (much) day job work on my work-from-home-day. (Not much of a sick day if you spend your waking hours checking email and doing work, which is what happened . . .) Anyway, when I woke up after going back to bed this morning, I still felt like crap so I started reading this book. A Romance. Because I do enjoy Romance a lot. And this was one I bought because it’s clear my historicals need to be lighter in tone if I’m to continue publishing them. And this one had the elements that have been under discussion.

This book started out well. The writing was rock solid. But the whole thing kind of took a left turn quickly and I soon realized that the very early signs of a conflict between logic and Authorial Need weren’t just minor issues I could overlook, but signs of a writer who was not in control of the internal logic of her story.

In the opening, the heroine is being kidnapped and she’s running through an internal monologue that has nothing to do with fear or worry. Nothing explained or hinted at why she wasn’t in fear for her life. Then later when she’s mostly naked, drugged and tied to a bed in a brothel, the hero comes in. And for the entire rest of the scene, despite being drugged, she is able to converse with him with absolutely no sign of mental impairment. She is witty and amusing!

I admit I kept thinking, but she’s been drugged! The bad guys wouldn’t send the Hero up to have his way with her if they didn’t know the drugs would have taken effect by then. They were experienced bad guys. It was obvious they’d done this sort of thing before.

But the hero was kind of cool and awesome and I kept thinking all of this would be explained somehow. It wasn’t. And this disconnect between logic and what the author needed to happen continued.

Characterizations were horrifically shallow. The characters all felt about two inches deep and I was fast loosing interest. I began to actively hate the hero and the heroine was giving me a sugar high. In a not so good way.

Then I had to take my son to tennis because Mom duty doesn’t stop just because you don’t feel good. So I sat in the car and read the book until finally, I’d had it. I tweeted that I hated the book I was reading. (Without identifying the book.) Then the hero did something so tremendously stupid and illogical that I tweeted about that, too.

Long story short, I ended up tweeting about the parts that struck me as lacking interior consistency; a plot that hinged on motivations that were thin as air or actions that made no sense. Sometimes the characters’ convictions changed from one chapter to the next without explanation.

And people were following along, asking questions or otherwise remarking. Many wanted to know what book it was. Because of this feedback, I actually finished a book I was planning to throw away unfinished.

At no time did I tweet the title or author of the book.

A lot of people asked what book I was reading. And therein lies my dilemma. To tell or not to tell?

I have to say that on a personal level, I don’t care to see someone pointing out perceived flaws in my books. Even when I realize Ohh, point! (Maybe even especially then.) As an author, I’ve have had my share of bad reviews. I’m pretty confident in saying every author gets them at some point, probably for every book. Few books are universally and unreservedly loved. You shrug and move on. You have to because the other way lies madness. Few books are universally loathed, by the way.

I read a lot of books. All kinds of books. And I often talk about them on this blog. If I read and did not like a non-Romance book, I have no problem saying so and identifying the book and author. I thought the Gargoyle, for example, was a breathtaking bit of writing yet so horrific in the details of the protagonist’s near fatal burning and recovery therefrom that I very nearly had to stop reading. I also thought (think) that the book’s heroine was an example of how male authors can fail to see the world from any point of view but that of their privileged gender. Their books suffer when that happens. And this heroine was, I felt, particularly stereotypical, cliche and shallow, which you’d think shouldn’t be tolerated in Literature. The heroine was nothing more than a male fantasy of female sacrifice on his behalf. I was, in fact, offended. But he’s still a brilliant writer and his was a debut. He can only get better and, one hopes, more mature in his portrayal of women.

So, see? I can say that because when you write a book, you’re inviting readers to respond. Some of us do respond in writing or on a blog or in other formats. Reader response and opinion, by the way, is not always sweetness and light.

I don’t do this with Romance novels I didn’t like. I blog happily about Romances I loved. There are a lot of them. Some of the finest, edgiest, funniest (you name it) writers today are writing Romance, only no one’s paying much attention because hey, it’s Romance. But if I don’t like a Romance or think it’s flawed or unfinishable, I don’t blog about it.

Why?

Because I know (or know of) a lot of these authors personally. I might well meet them at RWA one day or end up sharing a publisher with them. I have had wonderful conversations with authors who wrote a book I did not care for. I’m not a professional reviewer, rather, I’m their colleague, and it doesn’t feel right to me to blog a negative response to a colleague’s book.

I understand that opinions differ. There are people who loved books I didn’t and who hated books I’ve loved. I don’t usually hold difference of opinion against people. The more reasoned and thoughtful the analysis, the less I hold it against them. As for Amazon reviews, hey, readers are always entitled to their response to a book.

Authors are readers too, though. In fact, they’re some of the most die hard readers around. They read far more than average. Romance authors in particular read far more widely than most authors — in part because they’re not excluding Romance from their reading. Authors read with insight into the minutia of craft and that expertise can make for rich reviews and responses.

But I don’t want to hurt a colleague’s feelings and that’s why I don’t blog about Romances I didn’t like. It’s why I didn’t tweet the author or title of the book I didn’t like.

But should I? Should I have? That’s the dilemma.

If a non-author had done that (and Jane at Dear Author has, naming the book and author as well) that can only be a legitimate response of a reader to a book. Readers are entitled to say what they think no matter what platform they use to express that opinion. What is the difference, really, if the flaws or merits of a book are reported in a review or in a series of tweets? There isn’t one that I can see.

The distinction drawn has been between complimentary and not-complimentary remarks. It’s nonsense to say the line is different depending on format (blog, tweet, etc.) Let’s be up front and say people are getting all twisted about negative opinions. Makes sense. Girls especially are supposed to be nice. Those of us who are parents spend a lot of time explaining to kids why you have to care about other people’s feelings. But that doesn’t mean you don’t get to express an opinion, particularly when it’s invited. Publication is, de facto, an invitation to respond with one’s opinion.

I’ll have to write another post on the situation with Jane at Dear Author. RWA made a mistake, that’s all I’ll say right now.

Obviously, in my role as a reader, I had a strong response to the particular book I read today. The author in me was thinking about the how, why and how not, of what I felt were major flaws. The author’s book was out there in the public forum, I bought it with my own money and I am entitled to my response. The reader in me was pissed off that I’d paid good money for a plot with holes big enough to hold New York City. My opinion!

I also think Romance gets more than its share of criticism, often from people who’ve never read a Romance in their life.

What do you think?

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Winners of Half Dead

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Through the able assistance of Random.org:

3: Kinsey Holley

12: joder

2: Camille

I am sending emails to you if they were provided. (Watch your inbox and your spam folders!) or else email me with your name and complete mailing address so I can get your info to Zoe Archer.

Congrats!

Posting the next give away soon!

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Winner of Susan Crandall’s Pitch Black Plus surprise

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

With the assistance of Random.org, the winner is:

Commenter #17: Carol

I’ve emailed you, so if you see this watch your inbox (and your spam) or just email me with your mailing info.

Congrats!

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Geek Alert! Info forAuthors

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

I’m reading this really good book in which the heroine is all computer geeky, which is fun. The author, at one point, has her heroine visiting a facility described as cutting edge, technology-wise, including computers. The author then casually mentions that the employee workspace (not IT employees) has computers and servers sitting around.

Ka-Thunk!

That’s the sound of Carolyn falling (briefly) out of this otherwise extremely excellent book. I forgive the author because the rest is so good.

So I’m going to explain, at a very high level, about servers so you won’t make that mistake. If you need specifics, Google around for more targeted info. I have left out details so as not to be hopelessly confusing. Or befriend someone in your IT department.

Employee workspace with computers? You betcha. Gotta have that.

Employee workspace with servers sitting around? No. Sorry. In a corporate environment there would NEVER be a server anywhere but in the server room. (See slight exception below).

What’s a server room you ask? Oh, what’s a server? Well, it’s a computer. Doh.

Hmm. Maybe an analogy will help. This applies to medium to large companies, OK? Companies with an IT budget of more than $200,000K a year — or way way more.

Your desktop computer is a Toyota Corolla. A server is a Lamborghini.

A basic Windows PC costs <$1,000.

A basic server costs about $30,000 (If your needs are limited, otherwise, $100,000 wouldn’t be unusual.

A server room is a climate-controlled room dedicated to housing servers.

The server room should have controlled physical access so that only authorized people can get inside. Why? Because you don’t want your data or equipment walking out the door or worse.

Climate-controlled means it’s freaking cold in there. You need a coat if you’re going to be in there for very long.

Why? Because servers generate a lot of heat and hot servers shut down and your business ceases to function. Server rooms tend to be noisy. Often the AC is quite loud. The network guys will get paged if the server room temp gets too high (68 might be a warning level. 75 is reason to panic. at 8o, meltdown is immanent if not already happening.)

A lot of companies house certain servers in colocation facilities. These COLO facilities rent out server racks and provide some tech support, the climate control and the physical access control etc. You bring your own servers and put them in the racks yourself. Corporate IT personnel remotely administer the servers from wherever.

But many companies have at least some subset of servers on-site.

Servers do NOT have monitors. There might be a desk(s) in the server room with monitors and keyboards so you access the servers from there. Or, there might be a monitor/keyboard tray in the server rack that pulls out so you can pull up the monitor and access the servers in that rack.

This picture shows what looks to be a fairly modest sized server room. Over on the left there, toward the bottom, those 3 beige things are older severs. Note that they are labeled. The vertical thingees (there are 4 in each of the 3) to the right side of the beige servers are the hard drives. They come out — if one is broken, for example– and you can put a new drive in. To the bottom right, you can see two narrow black box thingees. They are also servers, but different ones. There’s another beige server underneath the two black ones.

Here’s an example of why you need physical access control (and also of how it can fail any way). Someone at a company once removed a server drive, replaced it with another drive and walked away with a copy of the corporate data. The multiple drives (depending) contain redundant data — they all have the same data. That way if one drive fails, your data is still up and running.

There are all different looks to servers and server rooms. Things can look all mismatched like this picture, or homogeneous. It depends on your budget, who you decided to buy from and what your needs are.

Server racks usually look like very tall cabinets. They usually have doors. You open the doors and see a stack of servers with blinking lights. They should also be labeled so you know which one is which in case you have to access the physical box (to add drives, memory or even (ack!) restart the box.)

The BACK of a server rack has ethernet cables that run from the network cards (most servers will have more than one network card) to a router or switch and usually from the router or switch to a patch panel. (Flying at a high level here!)

disorderly cablesThose cables can look like a spaghetti nightmare (in which case someone should be fired) Or they can be neat and orderly and tied down.

Here’s a flickr grouping of various server room photos if you’re curious about the variety.

But you can see that a server looks NOTHING like your desktop computer. You *could* configure a desktop computer as a server — but that’s not what you’d typically see in a corporate environment. Except in the room where IT personnel sit. Then you’d see workstations configured as servers for testing and development but, pray God, not production end-user equipments. Geeks like me play with those.

So, no high-falutin’ cutting edge company will have servers sitting around in an area open to non-IT personnel. Really. They generate heat and need to be kept cold. They wouldn’t sit flat on a desk. They’re made to be inserted into a rack. Would *you* want to be the one who accidentally knocks the $100,000 server off the table? Or watch it fall off the table during an earthquake? I don’t think so.

So, that’s it.

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Even More of Carolyn’s December Extravaganza

Monday, December 14th, 2009

I have 3 copies of Zoe Archer’s Half Past Dead

Cover of Half Past Dead by Zoe Archer
In this round, there are three books up for grabs AND you get two stories by two great authors.

Samuel Reed had no idea magic existed, until it almost destroyed him. Thirsting for vengeance against the enemy who made him something less than human, Sam returns to England and crosses paths with Cassandra Fielding. His best friend’s little sister has become a fearless woman on a dangerous mission of her own. And against all odds, she sees past what he’s become, and stirs a desire he thought he’d lost forever….

Two…novellas combine themes of love and zombies. Vintage horror, high adventure, and soul-aching romance blend in Archer’s compelling The Undying Heart, prequel to the upcoming Blades of the Rose trilogy…. Readers [will] love Archer’s powerful, polished tale.
– Publisher’s Weekly

Four Stars! These zombie stories stand out in a genre dominated by vampires. The two tales of lovers reunited feature strong, courageous women who won’t let zombies stand in the way of getting their man. Archer’s imaginative and unusual tale will have you cheering for the characters, while D’Arc delivers a creepy and pulse-pounding story of danger.
– Romantic Times

So, three of you will win a copy of this book. Awesomeness.

Here’s how to throw your hat in the ring:

Leave a comment (and a way to contact you) in which you answer one of the following Three Questions

Question 1

If you woke up one day and discovered you could do magic (NB: This does NOT make you god-like) would you:

  1. Quit your day job and schedule a long vacation to Paris
  2. Serve up some revenge. Ice cold
  3. Read the Manual you found on the foot of your bed, THEN serve up some revenge, arctic style
  4. Only use your powers for good
  5. Other.(Please explain)

Question 2

Speculate on why Yours Truly is so fixated on revenge.

Question 3

Look down. What’s on your feet? How come?

You have until Thursday December 17th to get your comment in.

Go.

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Reporting In Between Contests

Monday, December 14th, 2009

This is finals week at my son’s school, and I find I am riding herd on his studying, in between trying to write and doing absolutely no holiday shopping whatsoever. He thought his book report was due Wednesday but, it turns out, it’s not. It’s due tomorrow.

Anyway, I’m finishing up this side project that came up, after which I will have two weeks (hopefully) to do what will probably be a massive rewrite of My Beloved Assassin because, um, I want to be prepared when I get the editorial letter.

Tomorrow is my mother’s birthday so there will be a party. I’m making garlic bread. So that’s what’s up with me. I rarely think about holiday shopping until after her birthday and that’s why I’m never, ever prepared.

How’s about you guys?

Off to post the next contest! Check it out.

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