Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Club: Crush on You by Christie Ridgway

By: Mary Grzesik with inspiration from Aly Hackett & Ronlyn Howe (I’m making them honorary Italians LOL.)

I LOVED this book. I loved the sisters and their relationships with each other. Alessandra, Stephania and Guiliana (their nicknames are Allie, Stevie & Jules) are trying to save their family winery. Tanti Baci, which means ‘many kisses’ in Italian, has been in their family for generations. They decide to make it an ‘all in one’ place for weddings rather than sell out to the Bennett boys/men who own the winery next door. I have to confess to an affinity for these girls and their family. I am Italian descent and Christie really captures the funny, crazy love that the family can smother you with and she shows it to the max without getting stereotypical. I smiled through so much of this book.

Allie is called the Nun of Napa, her hubby- to- be died on their wedding day (5 years before) and it seems the town thinks she will always be single. Enter Penn Bennett who is a hot shot TV personality with a home renovation show and has come home to relax for a bit and visit his half brothers…those neighboring Bennett men. Of course the sparks fly when they meet.

"And congratulations to you,” he said, not disguising the edge to his voice. Her gaze narrowed, a quick contraction of her eyelids before her expression turned guileless again. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He leaned closer, and spoke in a near whisper. “They don’t know what hit ’em.”

“What?” She had the innocent thing down pat, and he hardened himself against it.

“That little break in your voice,” he said. “The single tear—brilliant. We’ll have to see about a booking on Inside the Actors Studio.”

The Kate Winslet wanna-be didn’t answer. With a little flounce, and another spit of gravel, she turned and headed back up the lane, her sisters once again following. As Newton and company started pulling equipment from the bed of the Ford, he and Liam were left looking after the three Baci women.


“I mean, surely . . .” It was just two guys, so he plowed forward. “C’mon. The body. That mouth. I’d like to—”

“Stop,” Liam said. “Stop right there.”

Something shot through Penn—disappointment? Nah, he wasn’t really interested in the youngest Baci sister, so it made no difference to him that his half brother had a prior claim. “Sorry, I didn’t know you and she have a thing.”

“We don’t. No one does, not with Alessandra. And you won’t be messing with her, either. Not with the Nun of Napa.”

Penn offers to help out with the renovations and even though Allie has reservations, she’s desperate to get the work done. I mean, did Penn have to be so able? And hot. And capable. And hot. And…well, you get the picture. Neither of them are willing to start a relationship. She is the Nun of Napa after all. And he is a happy bachelor with a full life in LA. I mentioned the sparks before, right? There’s no way they can escape.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was the secondary romance between their friend Clare and Allie’s cousin Gil. Clare is set to be the first bride of the Baci Wedding Cottage...any wonder how that’s going to turn out? ;-)

There is also some pretty hot chemistry between Jules & Liam Bennett that we’ll finally get to read about when the third book, Can’t Hurry Love, releases next week.

After our typical Italian meal, which is more about socializing then eating, we always end our meal with espresso coffee, fruits and Baci chocolates. I tried to find a recipe on-line but it’s copyrighted. Maybe it’s a cop-out but that’s my recipe for dessert. My mom always gives us a box of Baci’s for special occasions. She always has some on the table after dinner along with the fruit & espresso coffee. Each Baci chocolate comes wrapped in a love note written in different languages. There are quotes and proverbs. Sometimes we check the love note before we’ve eaten the chocolate. I guess it’s the equivalent of the Chinese fortune cookie LOL.

Some examples:

"To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with."

“Laughter makes you young. Love makes you beautiful.”

Sometimes they’re corny & don’t translate well but we always get a kick out of them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Next Up on Book Club: Crush on You by Christie Ridgeway

She made knitting sexy.

Now she's taking on a dilapidated winery, three sisters, and the bad boys next door.

The Baci sisters are on a mission to save the winery that's been in their family for generations-by transforming it into the perfect wedding destination. If only Alessandra Baci-affectionately known as the "Nun of Napa"-didn't need the help of tempting neighbor and business rival Penn Bennett.

Thursday, June 30! See you there!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Club: Lie With Me, Stephanie Tyler

By: Ronlyn Howe and Kara Conrad

When plotting revenge against a man who has blackmailed you into service for years, what would be your plan? I can pretty much guarantee it would not be to find the man’s daughter and fall head over heels in love with her. In the case of Cameron Moore that certainly wasn’t part of his plan:

"Are you trying to set me up with her? Because I don't think I'm really dating material right now." (This is said right after he ditches his motorcycle over a cliff, kills a man, and then runs up a mountain, only to have his friend show him a photograph of Skylar).

I admit to being a Cam girl right from the moment he landed in my nook, bright and early on release day…twice. I mentioned that to Stephanie via twitter and she says that Cam must have really wanted to spend time with me. I’ll certainly take that explanation.

My co-host, Kara, is a die-hard Jake girl. In fact, it’s because of her forcing Jake on me a couple years ago that I finally started reading Stephanie religiously. But even Kara really liked Cam…and yeah, Skylar, Dylan, Riley and the gang too. The secondary characters and story lines in LIE WITH ME weave a complete and tightly knit world that is both amazing and terrifying.

Cameron and Dylan hatch a plan to break Gabriel Creighton’s hold over Cam by kidnapping his daughter Skylar and using her in something of a reverse blackmail threat. And, in the words of Dylan, be willing to kill her if it gets to that. Cameron sets out to set himself free and finds Skylar in a secluded cabin in a snowstorm. She’s nothing like he thought she’d be and everything he ever imagined he could want. Including the fact that she’s not impressed with him and doesn’t have any trouble telling him so.

“Your personality blows.” How could he NOT fall in love with her?

Meanwhile Dylan goes hunting down Riley, the one person he knows has a file on Gabriel. The one person he had given his heart to…before she shot him. Yeah, that’s got to suck. And to throw yet another monkey wrench into an already messy pile of wrenches; Gabriel Creighton has been kidnapped by Dead Man’s Hand (DMH), a homegrown terrorist organization run by one truly crazy guy who decides that the perfect way to break Gabriel is to kidnap Skylar and torture her in front of dear old dad.
This book has it all: Romance, Suspense, witty dialogue, in depth characters…I could go on and on. I want to thank Stephanie for stopping by today to chat with us about the amazing Shadow Force guys (I’m sure we can convince her to talk about her other guys as well) as well as offer a giveaway for us.

Go to Sonic. Order a Rt. 44 Coke with extra ice.

(Marie says: I love Kara Conrad. I'd like to marry her, except who would cook for us? Oh, and then there's that pesky issue that we're both already married. Sigh.)

African Peanut Stew (yeah, I know it’s not very summery, but I was looking for something with an African inspiration to offer up)
Use chicken legs, thighs or wings for this recipe. They have more flavor and will hold up better with the flavors of the stew than breast meat.
• 2-3 pounds chicken legs, thighs and/or wings
• 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced
• A 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
• 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
• 2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
• 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
• 1 quart chicken stock
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 1 cup roasted peanuts
• 1 Tbsp ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
• Salt and black pepper
• 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don't crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.
- Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.
- Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding more if needed. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the chicken meat easily falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are tender.
- Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot. Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot.
- Adjust the seasonings for salt and cayenne, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand—the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve by itself, or with simple steamed rice.

Serve over rice or quinoa.


Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
15 miniature chocolate-covered peanut butter cup candies, coarsely chopped
36 caramels (from 14-oz bag), unwrapped
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup peanuts
1 container (1 lb) Betty Crocker® Rich & Creamy milk chocolate frosting
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

1. 1Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in candies. Press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until light golden brown.
2. 2Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, heat caramels and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Stir in peanut butter. Heat to boiling. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in 1/2 cup peanuts. Spread over warm cookie base. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
3. 3Spread frosting evenly over filling. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until chilled. For bars, cut 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Next Up on Book Club: Lie With Me by Stephanie Tyler

Forced together by fate, bound together by desire

Framed for a double murder, Delta Force operative Cameron Moore is given a new lease on life by the CIA—provided he pays them back by doing their black ops dirty work. But now Cam is ready to renegotiate the deal, and he thinks he’s found the perfect bargaining chip: Skylar Slavin, bestselling author of espionage thrillers and the daughter of the CIA man who saved Cam from a prison sentence.

Skylar has been living in anonymity, never suspecting that someone so dangerous—and so desirable—would plunge her into a world as treacherous as one of her spy novels. But how can Cam go through with his plan to kidnap Skylar when just the sight of her sets off an explosive attraction he’s never experienced before? And when Skylar falls prey to an even more perilous threat, this special ops soldier must call upon all his combat skills to protect the one person who can help him win his freedom—and the only woman he’s ever loved.

See you on Thursday, June 23, for a discussion of this book!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Club: Angel's Rest by Emily March

By: Alyson Hackett
Gabriel Callahan has lost everything that mattered. All he wants is solitude on an isolated mountain estate. Instead, he gets a neighbor. Vibrant, no-nonsense Nic Sullivan is Eternity Springs’ veterinarian, and she has an uncanny plan to lure this talented architect back to the world of the living. First with a dog, next with a renovation project, and, finally, with a night of passion that ends with a surprise.

Now a man still raw from tragedy must face the biggest struggle of his heart. Can he forgive himself and believe in the power of second chances? Dare he trust in the promise of a future and a brand-new family here in Eternity Springs?

Love me some tortured hero! And Emily March’s Angel’s Rest certainly delivers on that!

Gabe Callahan has suffered a tragedy in his life that would knock anyone to their knees—the loss of a spouse and child. He has secluded himself at an estate up in the mountains and has decided that life just isn’t worth living anymore.

OK let me just tell you that the first few pages of this book knocked me to my knees! You felt Gabe’s pain and wanted to just make things better for him. His suffering and agony just came alive and right off the page!

Gabe’s savior comes in the very odd form of a goofy looking boxer. This boxer—Archibald, Tiger or Clarence depending on who you ask—eventually leads Gabe to the person and community that will bring him back to life.

The addition of the boxer is really great! He adds some heartwarming scenes but also makes you laugh because of his attachment to Gabe despite Gabe’s obvious reluctance to even acknowledge that the dog exists.

Nic Sullivan has her own demons that haunt her due to a failed marriage. She doesn’t have much faith in men and their ability to be monogamous. From the moment that Gabe brings the boxer in for care, Nic is intrigued with Gabe but also determined to make Gabe and the boxer a match no matter how reluctant Gabe is.

Nic cracked me up! She is so blunt and plain spoken that it is very refreshing. She doesn’t hold much back and I think that honesty is certainly part of what intrigues Gabe.

Adding to this is Celeste Blessing and her idea of opening a spa/retreat in order to boost the economy and essentially save the town of Eternity Springs! There is something special about Celeste that is never really identified but her character definitely has some woo-woo going on! LOL!

Angel’s Rest is a fantastic contemporary romance! It breaks your heart and makes you ache but it also makes you laugh and fall in love right along with the characters. Those that enjoy Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, will find themselves enjoying Angel’s Rest as well. Eternity Springs is a welcoming little town with fantastic characters and a little bit of mystery that will keep you guessing.

Since the Bristlecone Café has famous brownies, I thought I would include a brownie recipe for everyone to try!

4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate or ¾ cup cocoa and 3 Tbls oil

3/4 cup butter

2 cups white sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Microwave chocolate and butter in large bowl at HIGH for 2 minutes or until butter is melted.

Stir until chocolate is melted.

Stir in sugar.

Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Stir in flour and nuts.

Spread in greased 13 x 9 inch pan.

Bake for 25-35 minutes (depending on your pan)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Next Up on Book Club: Angel's Rest by Emily March

Gabriel Callahan has lost everything that mattered. All he wants is solitude on an isolated mountain estate. Instead, he gets a neighbor. Vibrant, no-nonsense Nic Sullivan is Eternity Springs’ veterinarian, and she has an uncanny plan to lure this talented architect back to the world of the living. First with a dog, next with a renovation project, and, finally, with a night of passion that ends with a surprise.

Now a man still raw from tragedy must face the biggest struggle of his heart. Can he forgive himself and believe in the power of second chances? Dare he trust in the promise of a future and a brand-new family here in Eternity Springs?

See you Thursday, June 16, for a discussion about this book!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Self-Publishing Tips for the Uninitiated

I've been reading a lot lately on the published author loops about people paying BIG bucks to have their books formatted for self-publishing on Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. I've now posted five books with a sixth on the way later this month, so I thought I'd share a few lessons learned to help out those who are just venturing into this new territory. I'm not certainly not claiming to be any kind of expert at this. I've been to the school of trial and error. But since I've had no complaints from readers on the formatting of my books, I take that as good sign! I hope this information will save my fellow authors some money. Please watch out for people who are looking to profit by charging outrageous fees for this service. If I can do it, you can too!

First of all, don't panic. It's easier than you think. Here are a few critical steps to start with:

1. Set your paragraph indents to 0.33". To do that in Word, select all your text, go to Format - Paragraph. Under "Special" choose "First line" and then put 0.33 in the dialogue box. This will also indent your chapter headings. You can undo the chapter heading formatting by backspacing (at least on a Mac you can).

2. Only after you have completed step one, remove all your tabs. Do this by using the Find and Replace function in word. Find: ^t and Replace: leave blank. Replace all. I'm going to say this in all caps so there's no chance you can miss it: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SET THE PARAGRAPH INDENTS BEFORE YOU REMOVE THE TABS. If you do these two steps in the wrong order, you may lose all your paragraph indents.

3. Insert page breaks at the end of every chapter and after your front matter (title page, copyright statement, etc.). To do this in Word, go to Insert - Break - Page Break. This is critical as it will ensure that your chapters flow smoothly in the ebook.

4. Another thing you can do to make your text flow smoothly is remove all those pesky second spaces after periods. To do that, again use the Find and Replace function. Find: hit the space bar twice. Replace: hit the space bar once. Replace all. Repeat until you have 0 replacements.

Front matter/copyright statement
You must include a copyright statement with each book. While most traditionally published ebooks have these statements in the back of the book, I've found the upload process goes more smoothly *especially with Smashwords* when the copyright statement is placed at the beginning of the book. Here's the statement I adapt for all my books:

Book Name
My Name
Published by My Name
Copyright YEAR. My Name.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to (INSERT COMPANY) and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at

All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.

I do a different version for each e-retailer so the name of the company is correct for each one. For Smashwords, use this boilerplate at the beginning:

Book Name
Published by Your Name
Copyright YEAR. Your Name.
Cover by XXXX
Smashwords Edition

You need "Smashwords Edition" there or the Smashwords meat grinder won't accept your MS. Another important thing to remember with Smashwords is that your manuscript must be in "Final" format. To determine whether yours is FINAL, in Word, go to View - Toolbars - Reviewing. On the far left side of the Reviewing Toolbar, you will see a box that contains the status of your manuscript. It may say Final Showing Markup, Original Showing Markup, Final, etc. Make sure you accept all your changes, turn OFF the track changes function and set your manuscript to FINAL. I have found that it's easier to keep the file OPEN as I upload the FINAL version to Smashwords. For some reason it reverts to SHOWING FINAL MARKUP after I close the document. Why? I have no idea! Another interesting thing I learned recently about Smashwords has to do with including excerpts for future books in the back of the current book. If "Chapter 1" appears twice in your book, it sends the meat grinder into fits and your book may be rejected. So, eliminate the Chapter 1 heading on the excerpt to avoid this issue.

Helpful hint for Smashwords: You'll need an ISBN to be included in Smashwords' premium catalog. You want your book to be in the catalog to gain distribution to iBooks and Sony. Smashwords offers free ISBNs, but I chose to buy my own so I can take them with me if I decide not to publish with Smashwords any longer. Bowker sells ISBN numbers. I bought a package of 10 ISBNs for $250 because I knew I would use them all eventually. If you don't think you'll need that many, you can pay as you go. It's a bit of a chore to fill out the online ISBN form, but well worth the time to make sure you have an ISBN that you can use anywhere you need it.

Helpful hint for Amazon: Save your final file as an "Web Page: HTM" file. Do this in Word by clicking on Save As, in the pull down screen for FORMAT you will find Web Page HTM as an option. Amazon has advised me that saving in this format eliminates a lot of uploading issues. It worked perfectly when I tried it whereas the .doc format was problematic.

Another helpful hint for Amazon: Once your book is showing up online, go to Author Central and log in. If you don't have an Author Central account, you'll want to get one. (For one thing, we now have access to Bookscan numbers through Author Central for print books.) Once you're logged in, click on "Books" and under there you can "add" the new book so it appears on your Author Page. This is critical to boosting sales. If readers are looking for more of your work, that's where they're going to look. Once you've identified the book as one of yours, it can take a day or two to show up on your page.

Final word of caution: be careful forking out money to people and/or companies who are looking to take you for a ride. There's a whole cottage industry cropping up around self-publishing and e-books. Make sure you aren't paying for something you could easily do yourself.

I'm happy to answer any questions, so feel free to fire away!

Book Club: 10 Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

By: Alison Peterson

Hi Everyone!

Let me start by saying I love Julia Quinn’s books! I first read her Bridgerton series and have since read several of her other books and really enjoyed them. Julia doesn’t disappoint with 10 Things I Love About You. Julia is traveling today, but if possible she’ll try to stop in and say hi.

Annabel Winslow is the eldest of daughter of a country gentleman who has traveled to London to marry a wealthy lord to help support her family and send her siblings to school. Annabel fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it has gained the attention of old Lord Newbury. If Annabel has the guts to marry the creepy Earl of Newbury all of her family’s money problems will be solved, but she’ll also be married to a man old enough to be her father. Newbury is after Annabel because “she is so fertile the birds sing when she draws near” and he desperately wants and heir to keep his nephew from inheriting.

Sebastian Grey, Lord Newbury’s nephew, is handsome, quick witted and has quite the way with the ladies. He’s invited to all the best parties, but no one is sure what to do about him. On one hand if his uncle dies without heir he could inherit a wealthy earldom, but on the other if he doesn’t inherit he will just be another untitled gentleman. However; there is much more to Sebastian than just a handsome face and pretty words, he has a secret identity as a writer of gothic novels, which grew from his struggles dealing with fighting in the war.

Annabel and Sebastian meet when she trips and falls on Sebastian who is waiting in a nearby field for a romantic rendezvous. Their meeting begins with a conversation about sunrises and traveling. After hearing about all the places Sebastian has traveled Annabel begins to think about her future with Lord Newbury the places she will never go and things she won’t experience. To make a memory and possibly experience a little passion Annabel asks Sebastian to kiss her. The kiss becomes everything Annabel imagined a kiss could be. At the end of the interlude comes to Sebastian introduces himself, but Annabel keeps her identity a secret. She doesn’t want the man she just kissed to know she is the woman his uncle intends to marry.

During their next meeting, Annabel is introduced to Sebastian as Miss Winslow and he’s invited to join Louisa and Annabel at the opera later that night. Scandal ensues at the opera, when Sebastian and Annabel are seen talking and sitting closely throughout the first act. Sebastian learns Annabel’s true identity later that night when he is attacked by his uncle and warned away from Annabel. Unfortunately, both men stop showing an interest after the incident at the opera and Annabel is faced with ruin.

To save Annabel’s reputation Sebastian begins a fake courtship with her. One of my favorite scenes in the book occurs at the beginning of their “courtship”, when Sebastian comes to call on Annabel with his cousin’s wife. Annabel’s grandmother Lady Vickers makes some inappropriate advances toward Sebastian. Sebastian’s and Annabel’s reactions had me laughing out loud. Eventually, everything comes to a head when Sebastian, Annabel, and Lord Newbury all attend a house party in the country.

I really enjoyed this book! I really felt for Annabel as she struggled with adjusting to the hidden meanings behind the ton’s interactions and whether or not to marry for money. I loved that Annabel was not a silly heroine; she was smart and level headed. Sebastian’s reactions to the other character’s opinions of his books had me smiling throughout the book. I loved how in sync Annabel and Sebastian’s thoughts were; it really made me feel like they had a real connection. This was a great fun read and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

I only have one recipe for you ladies this week; however it’s one of my favorites!

Oreo Cookie Dessert
1 lb package of Oreos crushed
6 eggs beaten separately
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and 1 cup sugar then add well beaten egg yolks. Beat well. Add vanilla. Beat egg whites with the other cup of sugar until firm, like for a meringue. Blend egg whites into butter and egg yolk mixture.
Cover bottom of 13 X 9 glass pan with 1/2 of crushed cookies spread mixture over cookies and place rest of cookies on top of the mixture. Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Celebrating Carina Press's One-Year Anniversary

In celebration of our one year anniversary, I asked as many of our Harlequin team members and Carina Press freelance editors as possible to write a short blog post, talking about what the past year or so has been like for them, working on Carina Press. I deliberately didn't provide any direction other than that, because I wanted to see what people came up with, in the spirit of Carina's 1st anniversary. I was so pleased when I saw what they'd all come up with, and had to say (and some of these posts made me just a little teary)! I hope you enjoy the post, and look for your opportunity to win a Carina Press book at the bottom of this post. ~Angela James

Denise Nielsen is a freelance editor for Carina Press. You can follow her on Twitter.
When friends or family hear that I get to read books for a living, the response is always the same: first, a laugh, because anyone who knows me well has seen the way in which I devour books; and second, at least from other book lovers, outright envy. Among non-writers though, there seems to be little understanding of what an editor actually does. Many of them think I spend my days reading, with the occasional fix of spelling and grammar errors, and they don’t understand of the depth of the work that goes into getting a book ready for publication.

It’s the depth of that work that I love. Working with authors to hone and polish their stories and get them into shape for publication is the most rewarding thing about editing. It’s always a fine balance to ensure the author’s unique voice—which is of course what sold the book to us in the first place—is maintained, even while we suggest changes to words, sentence structure, and scenes to make a story clearer, tighter, stronger. Sometimes, this is the most frustrating part of editing too. Sometimes sentences just don’t seem to work no matter how we rearrange them, and we spend a great deal of time cussing and pulling our hair out.

Actually, that isn’t true because at Carina, we have an amazing support team. Even though my fellow editors and I live in different places—I’m in Canada—we talk regularly. Our virtual water cooler is a place where we can always go to get advice, to talk out a difficulty, ask a question, or even just to rant about something that isn’t working. This connection means that even working at my desk on my farmhouse in Ontario, I can reach out and ask a question, and have an answer (or a bunch of them) often within minutes. The Carina team is exactly that: a team. And I love that.

For me, the biggest challenge I have faced in the past year has been time management. I am good at it. At least I thought I was. But juggling the reading of new manuscripts, making recommendations, and editing new acquisitions taught me that learning to pace myself in very important. I am a fast reader, so it is easy for me to read (and then recommend) lots of books quickly. But having a pile to edit all at the same time is not so easy. Editing should not be rushed.

It’s your fault though, dear writers. You keep sending us so many amazing stories, and we are so excited to read them all. The best thing about working for Carina is seeing all the incredible stories that cross our desks. They are imaginative and powerful, and keep me reading deep into the night sometimes. So perhaps my envious friends and family have a point after all. I do spend many of my days reading. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To celebrate Carina's one year anniversary of publishing books, we're giving away some prizes. Today, on each of the nineteen blogs our team members are featured on, we're giving away a download of a Carina Press book to one random winner (that's nineteen total winners!) All you need to do to be entered to win is comment on this post. You can enter to win on all nineteen posts. In addition, on the Carina Press blog, we're giving away a grand prize of a Kobo ereader and 12 Carina Press books of the winner's choice. Visit the Carina Press blog to enter to win, and to see links to all 19 of today's blog posts.

And a sincere thank you from all of us, to our readers and authors, for making Carina Press's first year a success!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Next Up on Book Club: 10 Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn

Ten Things You Should Know About This Book

1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.

2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.

3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.

4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.

5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.

6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.

7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to

10. Happily. Ever. After.

Looking forward to Book Club on June 9 when we will talk about 10 Things I Love About You! See you there!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book Club: Against the Wind by Kat Martin

They were known as the "no-account Raines boys" but they've grown into successful, honorable men and everything they have, they've fought for tooth and nail. Now each of the three brothers has one last obstacle to overcome to claim what's eluding them: love.

Secrets don't stay buried long in cattle country. Sarah Allen, the beautiful girl who humiliated Jackson Raines in high school, is back in town. Not so long ago, she couldn't wait to leave Wind Canyon, Wyoming, in her dust. But, recently widowed, she has nowhere else to go and finds herself on Jackson's ranch. And despite everything, Jackson's finding himself reluctant to get rid of her.

Sarah brings her own kind of trouble, and he can't resist trouble. Enemies of her dead husband show up making threats, thinking she has something they're owed. They're not taking no for an answer, but what they will take is the one thing she has left—her daughter. Jackson's the only one who might be able to save little Holly and bring her home.

By: Hope Frost
I will be the first to admit, I hadn't read Kat Martin until this series was brought to my attention by a book buddy. Since everyone knows I am all kinds of in love with cowboys, Annie thought I should look at this new series, and after I read the first one, I not only pre-ordered the other 2 but started systematically devouring Kat's backlist as well. I hope you will all help me in welcoming Kat with us here today. She will be popping in to say hello and answer any questions you might have for her....PLUS she will be giving away one of her books as well.

On to the Raines boys....Against The Wind is a great mix of classic down home detective work, and cowboy ranching-meets-old-flame-who-broke-his-heart but needs a new start. It has been a long road for Sarah during her marriage she was beaten inside and out. She fears now that her husband is finally gone for good that his enemies will never leave her alone. She retreats to her home town and from the first time she needs help with a flat tire, Jackson is there to help. Through many twists and turns and life threatening scenarios, Jackson forgives Sarah for how she humiliated him so many years ago and falls hopelessly in love with her and for Sarah's 6 year old daughter, Holly. Jackson is determined to have them in his life for the rest of his life and Sarah is determined not to let her past mess up Jackson's life.

I really enjoyed this story. The relationships were believable (I loved Jackson)and I found myself tensing up when there was trouble. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I truly couldn't wait until Gabe's story, Against the Fire.

Favorite Quote: "You can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, you know?" Sarah grinned more broadly than he had ever seen her. "I'll take that as a compliment." (Sarah refusing to wait at the hotel when a meeting is set with an informant)

Kat has provided one of her favorite dishes for you to try, and I have given you Texas Caviar since we are talking about the cowboy hunks this week. When I asked my hubby what recipe I should submit this week, he said Rocky Mountain Oysters cause he has a really good recipe (or so he says), but I decided to spare you all from that one, so if you want the recipe, let me know and I will message it to you!!

From Kat Martin:


An Oldie but Goodie

Something new is happening for me this month....the re-issue of an old western romance, one of earliest novels, TIN ANGEL. What makes it different is that this is the only book my husband (a western author of more than 25 books) and I ever wrote together.

In the story, when her father dies, beautiful and strong-willed Jessica Taggart, born and raised in Boston, travels all the way to San Francisco to help manage the Tin Angel, the business willed to her by her late father. There she meets the ruggedly handsome, arrogant and domineering Jake Weston, her father’s partner and now Jessie’s, a man hell-bent on proving she can’t handle the job and determined to force her to sell him her share of the Tin Angel.

Not the restaurant Jessie believes when she leaves Boston, but the most notorious whore house on the Barbary Coast.

I had such fun writing this book, a story they called at the time, A Moonlighting set in the West, after the Bruce Willis, Cybil Shepard TV show. Having never collaborated on a book, we decided that Larry would write Jake’s point of view, and I would write Jessie’s. Jake starts by writing a series of letters to Jessie, telling her not to come West, that he will buy her out and send her the money. Jessie writs back, telling him in no uncertain terms that she is leaving Boston on the next train to California.

Neither of us knew how the other would respond to the pages we were handed. We just rolled with the punches and had a heckuva lot of fun as we worked.

The story ended up being very different from what I usually write and since it’s a sexy romance, way, way different from what my husband usually writes.

It’s only available in print from Amazon, but it has a fabulous new cover, and it’s available in all e-book formats.
It you’re ready to read something just for fun, I hope you’ll give TIN ANGEL a try. And we both hope you enjoy it. Very best wishes, Kat and L.J. Martin

1 6 1/2 ounce can of crab
1/4 cup grated onion
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup real mayonnaise (light mayo won’t do)
1 can of artichokes in water (chopped well)
1 tsp curry powder
1 French Baguette
In mixing bowl, place mayonnaise, onion, and curry. Stir. Fold in chopped artichokes, crabmeat, and parmesan cheese. Place in dish and heat in microwave for 60 seconds or in a 350 degree oven till cheese melts and mixture is beginning to bubble.
Cut baguette into 1/4 inch slices and serve.
This dip works well using only artichokes or only crab meat. It is also great with Tostitos.

1 15-oz can black eye peas, drained
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
1 11-oz can shoe peg corn
1 4-oz can diced jalapeno
1 2-oz jar diced pimentos
1 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped red onion or sweet pepper
1/2 cup olive or canola oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup white sugar

Combine vinegar and sugar in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Set sauce in fridge to cool. Combine all other ingredients. Add cooled sauce and mix well. Cover and chill for 24 hours. Drain. Serve with tortilla chips.