Posts Tagged ‘contest’

Interview with Author Courney Milan – Plus a Contest

Monday, October 5th, 2009

The funny and fabulous Courtney Milan stops by today to talk about her debut, her attack cat, some future books and all manner of other things you’ll enjoy hearing about. She’ll be giving away some copies of the novella, so read through to the bottom to find out how you can come away with one for yourself.

Courtney Milan
This Wicked Gift in THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS, HQN, October 2009

The Interview

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Photo of Author Courtney Milan
I was born in a Russian gulag, and learned to read by scraping twigs against the….
Oh my God! Courtney, you too? Didn’t those twigs really–

Oh. Wait. You want me to tell the truth?
Well, only if it’s no trouble.

All righty then. I’ve held about nine or ten very different jobs, ranging from sales to graphic design to administration of a Linux cluster to animal training. Also, I’m a liar, so some of the things I say may not be 100% true.

Q: Why historical romance?

This one is easy: I can’t write contemporaries, because I know absolutely nothing about popular culture. Nada. Not a thing. This is not to say you need to be a pop culture maven to write contemporaries, but it’s just one of those little things I’ve learned: Never lie about subject matter to someone who knows more than you do. You’ll never fool them.

Q: Team Eric or Team Bill? Edward or Jacob? (If you answer Bill and Edward, I won’t hold it against you. Promise.) Why?

Um, who are Eric and Bill? (See above question.) As for Edward versus Jacob, that’s easy. Bella can keep Edward. She deserves him. 🙂

I will email you some references. Because I’m just generous that way.

Q: Did you train your cat to be an attack cat or did you just get lucky? Do you have a picture you can share?

The cat came pre-trained to attack. We were very lucky with this cat; we got him because a "friend" asked us to watch him over his vacation. Vacation ended and the "friend" never showed up to pick up his cat. Needless to say, we kept the cat and ditched the friend.
Good move. An attack cat is invaluable.
You can see a picture of him, prepared to attack my carefully-built fortress of author copies of my novellaPicture of Courtney Milan's attack cat and book fortress

Q: Are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between?

I’m definitely a plotter. And I plot by writing. The way it works is that in order to really get going on a story I need to know the beginning, the middle, and the end. That may sound like the whole story, but really, it’s about 30,000 words–there’s the part after the beginning but before the middle, and then the part before the middle but after the beginning and after the part after the part after the beginning…. trust me, it’s just as confusing inside my head. So I basically have three scenes in my head when I start writing. Everything else I figure out in writing.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the kind of stories you write?

Some people write stories about good people who have bad things happen to them. I write stories about good people who make bad mistakes. In some sense, I think my characters always bring the meat of the story upon themselves, by making choices that while often well-intentioned, are fatally flawed. This is not to say that my characters get into bad situations by their own stupidity–quite the opposite. In fact, if anything, I think that relying too much on intelligence and overthinking are more likely to get my characters in trouble than, say, foolish choices made without thought.

I like writing stories like that because I feel it really pushes my characters to grow emotionally, to discover things about themselves, to rediscover the notion of honor and to decide that they are worthy of respect and love. I really believe it’s hard to love another person if you don’t love yourself, and so it’s crucial that during the course of the story, my heroes and heroines learn to trust themselves as well as the people around them.

Q: I’m pimping you, Courtney. Tell me about your upcoming single title.

On January 1, 2010 (that’s a lot of 1’s!), my single title debut, PROOF BY SEDUCTION, is coming out. Proof by Seduction is the story of Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakely, an inveterate scientist who is stunned to find out that his cousin and heir has been visiting a fortune teller for advice. He decides to prove Madame Esmerelda is a fraud. But what he assumes will be a simple task becomes drawn out by a simpler occurrence: He sees her almost naked. And once he’s seen behind her disguise, he realizes that she is far more complex than a simple fraud. False as Madame Esmerelda’s predictions might be, the woman who plays Madame Esmerelda, Jenny Keeble, is more compelling than any of the fortunes she manufactures. And before he can understand what’s happening, he realizes that the way he feels about her can’t fit inside a scientific proposition.

To put it in visual terms:

My Usual Approach is Useless Here, Cartoon by xkcd


PROOF is also the story of Jenny Keeble, an illegitimate byblow who has never known her parents, and who’s struggled for respect all her life. She’s found a measure of that respect telling rich people what they want to hear. She has money, security, and people who look up to her. But when she meets Gareth, she begins to realize that all of that means nothing if she can’t respect herself.

That sounds so awesome. I can’t wait to read it.

Q: What else do you have for us to look forward to?
Cover of This Wicked Gift
Sometime in 2010, after PROOF BY SEDUCTION, the follow-up, TRIAL BY DESIRE, will be released. TRIAL BY DESIRE is the story of Ned Carhart, the cousin of the hero of PROOF BY SEDUCTION.

But before we even get there, sometime in late November/early December I’ll be posting a free read. You know how Harlequin Historicals sometimes have titles like, "Smashingly Drunk Lord, Feisty Maiden?" This will have a similar title. Completely similar. Except… totally different.

Smashingly Drunk Lord, Feisty Maiden was one of my fav reads of 2005.

Q: Can you provide a fun fact or two about your story?

Fun facts! Oh, man, whenever I hear "fun facts" my brain automatically translates that into "lies." What does that say about me? Nothing I haven’t already said, I suppose, but alliteration sounds so immediately hyperbolic that it gets me thinking about all kinds of things that are fun. And you know what else alliterates with "fun" and "fact"? Yeah, you got it. Fake. So I will tell you three fun facts about my novella, but one thing I say in this section will be completely fake.
We here at Writer’s Diary are all about really good lies. Lie on, Courtney. Lie on.

  • I named the hero of my novella after a famous football star.
  • I originally described this novella as Dickens’s A Christmas Carol meets, but it really ended up being more like The Damnation of Faust takes polite tea with, but then goes on its merry way to a happy ending.
  • Hidden inside this Christmas novella is a shocking truth: My novella almost never mentions Christmas. Hidden inside the lack of mention of Christmas in this novella is an even more shocking truth: Chapters of the novella parallel the libretto of Handel’s Messiah.

What’s the lie? Identify it in comments–and two people who correctly identify the lie will win a copy of my novella! (If nobody correctly identifies the lie, I will give out three copies at random.)

The Important Stuff

Read an Excerpt

Buy a copy of This Wicked Gift

And leave a comment. You could win big!


Interview With Author Marilyn Brant – CONTEST!

Monday, September 28th, 2009

This week I’m interviewing author Marilyn Brant, who’ll be giving away an ARC of According to Jane. Read through to the end for instructions about how to get your reticule in the ring for a chance to win!

About Marilyn Brant

Marilyn Brant is the award-winning women’s fiction author of ACCORDING TO JANE, the story of a modern woman who receives dating advice from the spirit of Jane Austen (October 2009), and her second forthcoming novel about three suburban moms who shake up their lives and their marriages (October 2010), both from Kensington Books.

As a former teacher, library staff member, freelance magazine writer and national book reviewer for Romantic Times, Marilyn has spent much of her life lost in literature. She received her M.A. in educational psychology from Loyola University Chicago, dabbled in both fiction and art at Northwestern University, studied the works of Austen at Oxford University and is an active member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Her debut novel won RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart Award© in 2007.

Marilyn lives in the northern Chicago suburbs with her family, but she also hangs out online at her blog "Brant Flakes." When she isn’t rereading Jane’s books or enjoying the latest releases by her writer friends, she’s working on her next novel, eating chocolate indiscriminately and hiding from the laundry.

Check out her website:

About the Book

Cover of According to Jane by Marilyn Brant In Marilyn Brant’s smart, wildly inventive debut, one woman in search of herself receives advice from the ultimate expert in matters of the heart. . . It begins one day in sophomore English class, just as Ellie Barnett’s teacher is assigning Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. From nowhere comes a quiet "tsk" of displeasure. The target: Sam Blaine, the cute bad boy who’s teasing Ellie mercilessly, just as he has since kindergarten. Entirely unbidden, as Jane might say, the author’s ghost has taken up residence in Ellie’s mind, and seems determined to stay there.

Jane’s wise and witty advice guides Ellie through the hell of adolescence and beyond, serving as the voice she trusts, usually far more than her own. Years and boyfriends come and go–sometimes a little too quickly, sometimes not nearly fast enough. But Jane’s counsel is constant, and on the subject of Sam, quite insistent. Stay away, Jane demands. He is your Mr. Wickham.

Still, everyone has something to learn about love–perhaps even Jane herself. And lately, the voice in Ellie’s head is being drowned out by another, urging her to look beyond everything she thought she knew and seek out her very own, very unexpected, happy ending. . .


A warm, witty and charmingly original story.
Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author

An engaging read for all who have been through the long, dark, dating wars, and still believe there’s sunshine, and a Mr. Darcy, at the end of the tunnel.
Cathy Lamb, author of Henry’s Sisters

This is a must-read for Austen lovers as well as for all who believe in the possibility of a happily-ever-after ending.
Holly Chamberlin, author of One Week In December

An October "Fresh Pick" from Fresh Fiction!!

Jane Austen fans will revel in this modern day unique twist on a classic, as well as learning interesting facts about Jane herself. There is just enough mystery of ‘why’ to keep you guessing, and the ending is thoroughly satisfying. This was a truly, irrevocably inspiring novel.
Kelly Moran, Bookpleasures (5 stars)

Just when you think Jane Austen could not appear in anything new, a refreshing reincarnation occurs as Marilyn Brant provides an engaging modern day take on the writer. Ellie is a terrific lead character as she adapts to the voice in her head while Sam is her nemesis…readers will thoroughly enjoy this fun contemporary romance that also provides insight into Jane Austen and her characters.
Harriet Klausner (4 stars)

According To Jane is a delight from beginning to end…a definite keeper that I can see myself returning to time and again, just for the happy pick me up feeling it gives me. I’m eagerly looking forward to Ms. Brant’s next book.
— Manic Readers (4.5 stars)

All I can say is, again without any spoilers is that Marilyn Brant you have a new super fan and I am singing your praises…5 STARS–LOVED IT! COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN.
Book Junkie (5 stars)

According to Jane is an intriguing, appealing story full of warmth and wit…a fast read, perfect for the busy woman and the author has a definite gift for keeping you turning those pages. This is a book you don’t want to miss if you’re a fan of Austen, romance, coming of age, women’s fiction, or if you’re just looking for a highly entertaining story from an author with superb style and fresh voice.
Working Girl Reviews (5 shoes/best book)

The Interview

Q: Tell us about your latest release and the inspiration behind it.
My debut novel, According to Jane, is the story of a modern woman who–for almost two decades–has the ghost of Jane Austen in her head giving her dating advice. I first read Pride & Prejudice as a high-school freshman. Like my heroine Ellie, I raced through the novel way ahead of the reading assignments. I loved both the story and Austen’s writing style immediately. Her books changed the way I perceived the behavior of everyone around me, and I spent the rest of freshman year trying to figure out which Austen character each of my friends and family members most resembled! Also like Ellie, I had a few (okay, a lot) of less-than-wonderful boyfriends, and I would have loved to have been given romantic advice from the author I most respected and the one who’d written one of my all-time favorite love stories.

Q: Any great fan/fan mail stories you care to share?
The book was just released on September 29th, so first impressions are still coming in, but I’ve gotten some truly wonderful emails from people who read the ARCs this summer. One of my favorites is from a woman who won a copy of the book in a contest and emailed me to say that she’d finished the book in a day and was on an emotional high from reading it. She added, "Sometimes I go through phase where I’m so blase about reading fiction and focus mainly on non-fiction (my usual staple), but once in a blue moon, a book grips me and makes me fall in love with fiction again. Thank you. A very grateful reader." I will always, always love that message!

Q: Which scene in your novel did you love writing? Why?
One scene I had a lot of fun with was the bar scene in the first chapter where my main character runs into her ex-high-school boyfriend for the first time in four years. It was a situation I had never experienced personally, but I could imagine the comical possibilities so clearly and feel and the frustration of my heroine as if I’d been the one standing there, facing the jerk and his latest girlfriend, while Jane Austen ranted about how "insufferable" he was.

Q: What were some of your favorite books as a kid?
In junior high and early high school, I loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, A Separate Peace by John Knowles, Love Story by Erich Segal, Illusions by Richard Bach and, of course, everything by Austen. When I was an elementary schooler, I also loved Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink, Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Key and all the Nancy Drew mysteries.

Q: Which ‘craft’ book has inspired or helped you the most throughout your writing career?
I’m a BIG fan of craft books, so I have more than one! I used Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT! almost religiously in the plotting of my past several books. I’m still very sad that he’s no longer with us. As far as a great reference guide, Robert McKee’s STORY is incredible. It has more information about writing craft than I can ever internalize. Also, whenever I need a more emotional pick-me-up, I grab the Ralph Keyes book THE COURAGE TO WRITE. I recommend it to everyone.

Q: If you could ask one author (in all of history) for one piece of advice, who would you ask and what you would want to know from them?
Oooh, getting to be like my main character here! If I could have asked Jane Austen for advice before I was married, it would have definitely revolved around which type of man was the right one for me. (She would intuitively know the answer, I’m sure.) However, even without Jane’s help, I was fortunate to find "my Darcy." J Now, I would ask her for her thoughts on the crafting of a perfect novel. What were the qualities she felt a great piece of fiction should possess? What was she consciously trying to achieve with her novels?

Q: Do you have a sample chapter posted?
Yes! On my website I have a segment of Chapter One available for anyone interested in reading. Also, if you go to the Amazon page for According to Jane there’s a "Search Inside This Book" feature, and people can read samples from scenes throughout the novel.

Q: What is your author fantasy?
I’m secretly, unrelentingly ambitious, even when I have no right to be. Of course I want to hit the NYT bestseller list and get a movie deal. Also, I’d like an Oprah invitation and a few RITAs. However, these are not quite enough to satisfy every daydream I’ve ever had. I’d greatly enjoy winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, a Tony and an Olympic gold medal (in both ice skating and gymnastics). The fact that I’m pathetic on skates and terrified of the uneven bars is, in no way, a deterrent from these unrealistic fantasies. My simple ability to imagine them, makes them almost real. Furthermore, I like shiny things (although I don’t like to dust them), so I hereby promise that if I win ANY heavy golden statuettes–ever–I will dust faithfully. Especially that Grammy award. Really.

Q: What’s next for you?
I get to visit a number of book clubs that chose my debut novel, According to Jane, as their monthly book pick–wildly fun!–while also starting the production/promotion process all over again for my next women’s fiction project. That second book is done, but we’re still working on finding the right title. It’s a modern fairytale about three suburban moms who shake up their marriages and their lives when one woman asks her friends a somewhat shocking question… That comes out in October 2010.

Q: Name 3-4 of your favorite musical artists/groups. Did you use any musical references in your novel? If so, do they play a significant role?
Oh, yes! I use an ’80s soundtrack through the entire novel and songs of that era play a pretty significant role in the story. "True" by Spandau Ballet, "Make Me Lose Control" by Eric Carmen, "I Want to Know What Love Is" by Foreigner and "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi are four of the biggies, but there are so many… I think high school is always a time in a person’s life where the music is especially memorable. What’s on the radio when we’re teens becomes the soundtrack of our youth, so the lyrics of those popular songs tend to take on heightened meaning and get all wrapped up with our burgeoning adulthood. The result of this combination can be delightfully melodramatic. ’80s music aside, I love the songwriting of Rob Thomas/Matchbox 20, Coldplay, Rascal Flatts, the Goo Goo Dolls, Keith Urban, Eagles and post-Eagles Don Henley, Jackson Browne and just about anything Andrew Lloyd Webber composes.

Q: What’s one piece of writing advice you’ve found valuable on your journey to publication?
Don’t follow trends just because you think it’ll be an easier sell. And write the books that fit your voice. If what you love writing happens to be a hot-selling genre, great. If your writing voice happens to be perfect for the genre you want to write in and love to read, that’s awesome, too. But–if not–write long and hard enough to find what DOES fit you and your style best. Because then, even if it takes longer to make that first sale than you expect, you’re writing the kinds of stories you most enjoy, and that passion has a way of working itself into the projects you’re creating.

Q: Did you have any input on the cover, and are you happy with the finished product?
I was asked for input on the cover by my editor, and I sent Kensington pages of possible scene ideas, plus a plot summary and descriptions of the main characters. In the end, I have no idea whether or not my notes were helpful, but the cover didn’t look anything like I’d imagined it–it looked far, far better! I couldn’t be more pleased with the way our cover designer, Kristine Mills-Noble, envisioned the look of the book. I’m really excited to see what she’ll come up with for my second novel.

Q: What do you think readers might be surprised to know about you?
This has absolutely nothing to do with writing (which is, perhaps, why it’ll be surprising), but I was a member of a touring dance group in college and spent six weeks dancing through Europe the summer I was 19. We performed at festivals in France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy, and I met some absolutely fascinating people. That experience solidified both my love of travel and my lifelong adoration of the jitterbug. It also greatly aided in my appreciation of European men…

Q: Where do you write? Describe your writing space – is it a cluttered mess or minimalist heaven?!
I write in my home office–a messy, absolutely cluttered place–I won’t deny it! There are stacks of paper and towers of books everywhere, but also a very nice window overlooking our backyard. Sometimes I’ll write at a local coffee shop (either with my laptop or, most often, just with pen and notebook paper), and that location has the advantage of endless cups of coffee and occasional snacks.

Q: What are you reading at the moment?
Some entertaining Austen-inspired fiction, like Beth Pattillo’s Jane Austen Ruined My Life, and the amazing Shaffer/Barrows novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Q: Are you a member of a writer’s group? If so, how has it helped your writing?
I’m a member of Chicago-North RWA, and it’s an incredibly strong critique chapter. Every month, three members have the opportunity to have up to 20 pages of their work critiqued by those attending the meetings (usually between 25-30 published/aspiring authors). The feedback is excellent, and it really helped me when I was a newbie to hear what more experienced writers were saying about some of my earlier work. Not only what confused them or what they thought was structurally unsound, but also what they felt were some of my writing strengths. That’s priceless insight when you’re just starting out. I can contrast this experience with semester-long university-level fiction workshops, which I personally didn’t find to be nearly as constructive. In my opinion, if a new writer ever finds herself surrounded by people whose main objective is to show off how clever they are or to alter a piece of writing in a way that messes with her author voice, she should sprint, not merely run, to the nearest exit. It worth hunting for a group that will help you build upon your writing talents while, at the same time, assisting you in strengthening your weaknesses.

Q: Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale (including the title and publisher)?
Aside from being on the newspaper and yearbook staff in high school and publishing some academic work in college, I didn’t take writing seriously until I was about 30. I was a stay-at-home mom with a baby and desperately in need of a creative outlet, so I began writing poems, essays on being a parent and educational articles for family magazines. I wrote my first book having never taken a creative-writing class or even having read a book on the craft of fiction. (The lack of craft is very evident when I reread chapters from that first book, btw! I don’t recommend this level of ignorance. . .) I got some feedback though–mostly negative–from a prominent literary agency, which led me to study fiction formally, delve into craft books and, eventually, go to my first writing conference. It was there that I heard about RWA. I joined, wrote three more unpublished manuscripts and, then, came up with the idea for According to Jane. My agent signed me on this book and submitted it to editors, but it needed to be significantly restructured before it sold. Nine months after it won the Golden Heart and was revised (again), it finally did sell–to John Scognamiglio at Kensington–on a sunny and surrealistic day in April 2008

Buy the Book

Title: According to Jane
Author: Marilyn Brant
Publisher: Kensington Books (trade paperback)
Price: $14.00 U.S./$16.95 Canada
Release Date: October 1, 2009 (on-shelf date: Sept. 29, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7582-3461-2
Pages: 288

Kensington’s page about the book

Buy from Amazon

How to get your chance to win an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of According to Jane

Leave a comment to this post in which you tell me what advice you wish you could get from Jane. Like, say, should I wear the pelisse or the spencer? Or maybe, does this carriage dress make me look fat?

If you don’t leave me a way to contact you if you win, then you must commit to checking back on our about Monday, October 5 to see if you’ve won.

Easy! Go forth and enter.


Interview with Author Carleen Brice

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I’m thrilled to be hosting author Carleen Brice today. Read through this post to find out how you might win a free signed copy of her book, Children of The Waters.

About Carleen Brice

Photo of Author Carleen BriceCarleen Brice’s debut novel, Orange Mint and Honey, was an Essence "Recommended Read" and a Target "Bookmarked Breakout Book." For this book, she won the 2009 First Novelist Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the 2008 Break Out Author Award at the African American Literary Awards Show. Orange Mint and Honey was optioned by Lifetime Movie Network.

Her second novel, Children of the Waters (One World/Ballantine), a book about race, love and family, just came out at the end of June. Booklist Online called it "a compelling read, difficult to put down." Essence says, "Brice has a new hit." You can read an excerpt at her website

She is at work on her third novel, Calling Every Good Wish Home, and she maintains the blogs White Readers Meet Black Authors ( and The Pajama Gardener (


Cover of Children of the Water by Carleen Brice

I was exhausted and singing the blues the hour I began Carleen Brice’s new novel, CHILDREN OF THE WATERS. Five hours later, I’d finished this fresh, free-rein novel about mothers’ secrets and children’s sorrows and was shouting ‘Hurray!’

–Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

In CHILDREN OF THE WATERS, Carleen Brice manages to explore the difficult, messy and unpleasant details of life with both humor and wisdom. The parallel journeys of sisters, Trish and Billie, will resonate with everyone and anyone who has questioned their identity and place in this world. Once again, Carleen Brice has crafted a thoroughly enjoyable novel that gets at the heart of the human experience.

— Lori Tharps, author of Kinky Gazpacho

CHILDREN OF THE WATERS (A One World Trade Paperback Original; On Sale: June 23, 2009) by Carleen Brice—author of the #1 Denver Post bestseller and Essence Book Club Pick Orange Mint and Honey—explores the connection between love and race, and what it really means to be family.

Brice’s compelling, eagerly anticipated new novel CHILDREN OF THE WATERS strikes deep emotional chords and poses the intriguing question: Can two strangers become sisters?

Trish Taylor’s white ancestry never got in the way of her love for her black ex-husband, or their mixed race son, Will. But when Trish’s marriage ends, she returns to her family’s Denver, Colorado home to find a sense of identity and connect to her past.

What she finds there shocks her to the very core: her mother and newborn sister were not killed in a car crash as she was told. In fact, her baby sister, Billie Cousins, is now a grown woman; her grandparents had put her up for adoption, unwilling to raise the child of a black man. Billie, who had no idea she was adopted, wants nothing to do with Trish until a tragedy in Billie’s own family forces her to lean on her surprisingly supportive and sympathetic sister. Together they unravel the age-old layers of secrets and resentments and navigate a path toward love, healing, and true reconciliation..

Essence wrote that Orange Mint and Honey "will have you hooked from page one" –and so will Brice’s latest.

By Carleen Brice
A One World Trade Paperback Original; On Sale: June 23, 2009
978-0-345-49907-3; $14.00; 224 pp

The interview

Tell me a little bit about the book
A: Still reeling from divorce and feeling estranged from her teenage son, Trish Taylor is in the midst of salvaging the remnants of her life when she uncovers a shocking secret: her sister is alive. For years Trish believed that her mother and infant sister had died in a car accident. But the truth is that her mother fatally overdosed and that Trish’s grandparents put the baby girl up for adoption because her father was black.

After years of drawing on the strength of her black ancestors, Billie Cousins is shocked to discover that she was adopted. Just as surprising, after finally overcoming a series of health struggles, she is pregnant–a dream come true for Billie but a nightmare for her sweetie, Nick, and for her mother, both determined to protect Billie from anything that may disrupt her well-being.

If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be? Alternatively (or both!) if your protagonist were to wake up one day with an intense craving for something, what would the craving be?
A: Billie would like the power to heal people. Trish would like to be able to talk with animals and understand what they say back.

Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why?
A: I don’t really have a villain in this story.

What do you consider the heart of your story? That is, what is the issue or emotion that propels things forward? Spill your guts on this one.
A: The heart of the story is the importance of family. What really makes people family. Is it blood? Is it history? Is it love, shared experienced? And what’s the definition of family. . . aren’t we all related if you go back far enough?

If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book,who gets the call?
A: Halle Berry as Billie. Idris Elba as her lover Nick. Jennifer Anniston as Trish.

Is there a scene you cut from the book that you kind of wish you could put back in?
A: Not with this one.

Do you have a sample chapter posted?
A: I’m an overachiever-posted the first 3 chapters!

Tell us why your editor is the best editor ever in the universe.
A: She’s a genuinely good person, and I really appreciate the fight she fights in-house for me.

For a chance to win a free, signed copy of Carleen’s book, Children of the Waters all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. If your profile doesn’t link to a valid email, PLEASE either include your email or commit to checking back on Tuesday, July 28 to see if you’re the winner.


Carolyn’s Critique Constest

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

If you happen to be working on a novel, or a short story for that matter, and would like some feedback, then this is the contest for you. I will critique your first chapter up to 15 pages for three winners.

Please Note: I am detail oriented, therefore I do pretty detailed critiques. I can’t help myself. I will not tell you your work is wonderful if I think it isn’t. What I will tell you is what I liked and what didn’t work for me and what I think you might need to work on. If your stuff rocks, I’ll tell you that, too. Please, do not enter this contest if you only want to hear good things or are thin skinned. DO enter this contest if you’re interested in my opinion. I’m not mean, but I will tell you what I think. Promise.

Also note that I read everything, therefore you needn’t think you shouldn’t enter if your work isn’t, say, a Romance. I have an MA in English, I am conversant with the classics. About the only thing I might have trouble critiquing is something written in the present tense. (Are you seeing what I mean about detail?)

Enter this contest by leaving a comment in this post with your name and maybe a good joke, anecdote or just the words Enter me in your Critique Contest (or something like that). It might be fun if you mentioned the genre of what you would like critiqued. I’m open to anything.

This contest will close end of February 28, 2009, Pacific Time. Three winners will be chosen at random.

I’ll contact the winners privately.

Ready, Set Go!


Interview with Brenda Janowitz

Monday, January 5th, 2009

There’s a book give away with this one, so read on for instructions for a chance to win a copy of Brenda’s book, Jack With a Twist.

Brenda Janowitz

Photo of author Brenda Janowitz A native New Yorker, Brenda Janowitz has had a flair for all things dramatic since she played the title role in her third grade production of Really Rosie. When asked by her grandmother if the experience made her want to be an actress when she grew up, Brenda responded, "An actress? No. A writer, maybe."

Brenda attended Cornell University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Human Service Studies, with a Concentration in Race and Discrimination. After graduating from Cornell, she attended Hofstra Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and won the Law Review Writing Competition. Upon graduation from Hofstra, she went to work for the law firm Kaye Scholer, LLP, where she was an associate in the Intellectual Property group, handling cases in the areas of trademark, anti-trust, internet, and false advertising. Brenda later left Kaye Scholer to pursue a federal clerkship with the Honorable Marilyn Dolan Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York.

Since her clerkship, Brenda has worked as a career counselor at two New York City law schools, where she published a number of articles on career related issues in publications such as the National Law Journal and the New York Law Journal. She currently lives in New York with her husband.

Brenda is the author of JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they don’t teach you in law school) and SCOT ON THE ROCKS (How I survived my ex-boyfriend’s wedding with my dignity ever so slightly intact), as well as the short story BASED ON A TRUE STORY. You can learn more about Brenda at and check out her blog at


Cover of Jack With a Twist by Brenda Janowitz
Planning a wedding can be a trying experience. . .

A little prewedding anxiety is normal for every bride, and Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller isn’t worried. She’s got the loving support of the world’s greatest guy, so planning her nuptials should be a piece of cake.

But that was yesterday.

Today, Brooke’s landed her first big case and has just discovered that the opposing attorney is none other than her fiancé, Jack. But that’s okay. These two professionals aren’t going to let a little courtroom sparring get their legal briefs in a bunch. . . Right? Wrong! Now Jack’s pulling every dirty trick in the law books, and Brooke’s starting to suspect that maybe he isn’t the man she thought he was. Warring with her fianc at work and at home, Brooke realizes that she’ll have to choose between the case of her life, or actually having a life.

The Interview

Tell me a little bit about the book

JACK WITH A TWIST (Engaging your adversary and other things they dont teach you in law school) is the story of Manhattan attorney Brooke Miller, who plans the wedding of her dreams, all while litigating the biggest case of her career. . . . which just so happens to be against her perfect fiancé. Hilarity ensues. Really. Marian Keyes called it "a funny, sweet romance" and Carole Matthews said it was "[a]nother fun-filled page-turner from Brenda." Ironically, I wrote JACK before even getting engaged myself!

If your protagonist were to wake up one day with a super power, what would that super power be?

Brooke would definitely want to read the minds of men. After all of the heartbreak shes been through, shed absolutely want to know

Would your villain (or antagonist) prefer to be Emperor Ming The Merciless or Darth Vader? Why?

My villain is a Southern Belle who really would have no clue who either of those guys are! But more importantly, she doesnt really think shes a villain at allshe thinks shes just one of the girls. Little does she know that everyone hates her. . . . Shes just the classic misunderstood bad guy (or girl, as the case may be).

But since Im a huge Star Wars lover, can I say that I, myself, would prefer to be Darth?! I live in New York City, so I often find myself wearing all black.

If you were in charge of casting the movie adaptation of your book, who gets the call?

What a fun question! Id love Drew Barrymore for Brooke, and Fran Drescher as her mom. For Jack, I could see a lot of my Hollywood crushes playing the part: Adam Sandler, Jack Black, or Paul Rudd would be perfect. (Yes, I like me a funny guy.)

Do you have a sample chapter posted?

I love free stuff, so I am all about the sample chapters! Ive got sample chapters of both of my novels here:

Speaking of Free Stuff!

All you have to do for a chance to win a copy of Brenda’s book is leave a comment by Monday, January 12. If you post anonymously, you’re going to have to either leave an email (a format of something AT is fine and should defeat email harvesters, though I can’t promise that) or remember to check back by Tuesday January 13 to see if you’re the winner.


Win all 7 Crimson City Books!!!!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Hey! Karen Mahoney is offering a chance to win all 7 Crimson City books! What are you waiting for? Go enter!. You have until January 4th 2009 to enter.

Make haste.


Wicked Cool Winner!!!

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Well, finally, I got all the little duckies in a row and picked a winner for my Wicked Cool contest.

Melissa Horn you are my wickedly cool winner. I’ve sent you an email, but if you see this instead, please email me your mailing address so I can get all your prizes off to you!


LOL Cat Contest Winner!

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Margaret is the winner! (Selected by my sister), Margaret send me your contact information so I can get your prize winging its way to you!

If I don’t hear from you by October 8th, I’ll have to select an alternate winner and that would be so sad.


Cute or What? LOL Cat Contest!!

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Today has been a strange day. My son is ill so I kept him home from his soccer game. I haven’t had a free, quiet Saturday in forever. I felt like it was a weekday and I was home from work. I came out into the kitchen this morning to see this:

Jake The Cat Sleeping in a VERY small space

There’s a LOL cat in there somewhere. So what the heck. Let’s have a contest. I have this awesome glass ring and a glass pendant thingee that I bought at Art in the Park. Best LOL title entry gets them, k? Put yours in the comments to this post. I’ll select a winner, say, September 30. Your odds of winning are good, there are only 6 of you regularly reading this blog. What is this cat thinking?

Speaking of contests, I have to wait on the Wicked Cool contest entries from Fresh Fiction before I can announce the winner and I think it takes them a month. Sorry for the delay. I will be announcing a winner as soon as I have those and have them processed, I promise.


Reminder! Contest!!!

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Today, August 31, is the last day to enter my Wicked Cool contest.

I’ve added more prizes, like a book about monsters, some cool magnets, a graphic novel and other wicked cool stuff. All you have to do is sign up for my newsletter and you’re in the running.

I’ll be choosing a winner tomorrow…