Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Diary: Leap Day Giveaways and Other Musings

Happy Leap Day everyone! Since this day only comes around every four years, we have to take the time to celebrate in high style. My most faithful readers know there's a connection to Leap Day in Everyone Loves a Hero. In honor of Cole and Olivia and the leap they take together, I'll be giving away TWO copies of Everyone Loves a Hero here on the blog. To be entered to win, tell me about a time you took a leap of faith and how it changed your life. YOU MUST include your email address to be entered into the drawing and ONLY entries posted to the comments section of this post will be considered. The contest ends at 5 p.m. tomorrow, March 1, and winners will be posted tomorrow night. Leap away!

I'm also offering a giveaway copy of Maid for Love today on my friend Pamela Clare's blog where we are celebrating Pamela's "12th" birthday. She is a very accomplished 12-year-old, and if you haven't read her I-Team books, you are sooooo missing out. I'm very much looking forward to diving into her historicals once I finish the final book that I'm judging for the RITAs (the romance writing equivalent of the Oscar). I got a great batch of books this year that really held my attention, but I'm looking forward to digging back into my TBR pile! At Pamela's blog, some of my other writing friends are offering giveaways as well: Julie James, Bella Andre, Joyce Lamb and Joan Swan. Come comment about your favorite birthday memory to be entered into the drawings for seven different books!

In other news, this week I set a goal of getting the new Fatal Book, Fatal Attack, to 25,000 words by Friday. This morning, I hit 20,000, so it's looking good for making the goal for the week. Perhaps I will even exceed it. I made it back to the gym this morning after being off with the kids last week. I always love being there, but I hate getting myself there. It's a mental hurdle I'm working to get past as I keep the gym front and center on the schedule. Another interesting thing I noticed yesterday is that when I was working two full-time jobs, I took a heartburn pill almost every day. I can't remember the last time I took one. Interesting what stress does to a body!

My other big news is that my daughter is now a licensed driver. I've had many people tell me you haven't really experienced parenthood at its finest until you kids start driving. I'm happy for her that she passed the first time around and that she will have some increased independence, but I am also worried, too. People drive like maniacs around here. I'm not worried about her. I'm worried about them. So, to all the crazy drivers who live near me, keep away from my kid please. She's a very good kid, and I want her to be safe always. Sigh...

Today I'll be Skyping into my reader friend Karen Lawson's book club to talk about Marking Time. We did Treading Water last month and had a great time, so today we're doing book 2. I'm always happy to join the book club chats and with Skype I can be there "in person." If you'd like me to join your book club meeting, send me an email to get on the schedule.

Lastly, who did you like among the guys last night on American Idol? I liked Phillip Phillips the best. How about you? And what did you think of the Parenthood finale? I love that show SO much it's not even funny! One thing I have to say is WHOA, DREW! Who knew you had that in you, my shy friend? Did you watch? What did you think? Can't believe we have to wait six months for more of the Bravermans.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dear Diary: Back to Work, NYC, WIPs and The Oscars

Ahhhh, what's that I hear? The sound of silence? Well, not entirely... The kids are back to school after 10 days off, but Brandy and Louie are having their first morning wrestle and the guy is here to take the doors off the rooms in my house. The doors are the final frontier in the recent home renovation project. For nearly 10 years, we've lived in a house that has all different doors on all different rooms. I scratch my head wondering when that was ever in style. Umm, never? We've been saying we were going to do this job for ages and now, it's ON. So one final week (I hope) of disruption in the house before things really get back to normal.

Over the vacation, I took my kids to NYC for a few days. (Photo to the left was taken at the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The building under construction to the right of the Empire State Building is the new World Trade Center tower.) We got very lucky with balmy weather that made walking around the city much more pleasant than it would normally be this time of year. The kids ice skated at Rockefeller Plaza, we went to the top of 30 Rock and my daughter got to see Jimmy Fallon practice his monologue. Funny story about the monologue... They were giving away tickets in the NBC Experience store, so we grabbed three and of course never looked at them. When Emily heard she was going to meet Jimmy Fallon (one of her favorite comedians), she had to go back to the hotel to shower and change. I thought that was really cute. She was like a giddy little kid, and I haven't seen her like that in a long time. We get back to NBC and we're told by a self-important security guard that Jake can't go in because he isn't 17. "Well," he mutters under his breath, "she isn't either." Okay, shut up now, please! Emily has always looked much older than she is, even though she won't be 17 until July. No one would argue if you said she was 20 or older. Jake, on the other hand, won't look 17 when he IS 17.

What was funny about the whole incident was that he was far more indignant about the crack to his age than he was about not getting to see Jimmy Fallon. So here I am in NYC with a major dilemma: do I let my kid go off by herself to see one of her favorite comedians or do we scuttle the whole thing? She was very good about it and said if Jake can't go in, I won't go either. Another mom standing in line with her two girls spoke up and offered to take Emily with them. She needed two more tickets to get her group in, so we gave her our tickets and she took custody of Emily, which was very comforting. I did tell her, "If you steal her, you deserve her, and she's VERY expensive to have around." The other mom, who was there with two teenage girls of her own, thought that was funny. I think she can relate! Of course it all worked out fine, and Emily actually exchanged words with Jimmy Fallon, which is the highlight of her life thus far. The other mom waited with her until we were reunited which was really great of her. While Emily was in the show, Jake said he would've been really bummed if she'd had to miss it because of him. There's hope for him yet, but he did tell me he "needed" a Coke to get him past the disappointment. Such an operator! One of my friends pointed out that letting Emily go off by herself in NYC was a good "dry run" for 18 months from now when I might be leaving her there for college. Sniff... I don't like to think about that!

Speaking of college, while we were in NYC, we toured NYU for Emily. I can sooooo see her there. Sigh... It's four hours by car from here, but a quick one-hour flight. She would have some amazing opportunities as an NYU student. Now we'll have to see about getting her in. I think it's great that she is seeing these schools now and realizing what she needs to do grade-wise for the rest of her junior year to make it happen. We also went to see the 911 Memorial. After living through that searing day, I wasn't all that keen on going to the memorial, but both kids really wanted to see it. In the end, I was glad I went. I think the memorial is beautiful and fitting and so incredibly sad. Have you seen the memorial? If so, what did you think? If not, would you want to?

Not much work got done while we were in NY, but over the weekend I wrote the first two chapters of McCarthy book 6, Season for Love. I needed to get the first chapter done so I can include it in the back of Hoping for Love. Season will feature Owen and Laura with snippets of stories for all the earlier couples as winter sets in on Gansett. It will show our island friends over the holidays with a wedding thrown in and possibly an engagement. Book 5, Hoping for Love, is off to the proofreader for a last look before it goes live in March. This week, I'll also be showing off the cover of Hoping for Love at the McCarthys of Gansett Island Reader Group on Facebook, so make sure you join the group for the first look at Evan and Grace's cover and to be the first to hear the release date.

This week, I'm back to work on Fatal Attack. Time to kick that book into high gear! I've also been chipping away at Duchess by Deception in my "spare" time. If you're keeping score at home, yes, that's three books currently in various stages in three different genres: contemporary, romantic suspense and historical. And you wonder why I worry about my head exploding?!

Finally, what did you think of the Oscars? I thought the show itself was a major SNORE. I hate all the stupid "bits" and the acrobats and other junk that sucks up time I'd rather see given to the winners so they aren't played off five seconds after they get on stage. Billy Crystal was just okay, in my opinion. Robert Downey Jr. was hilarious and should be next year's host. I was disappointed that my fellow Rhode Island native Viola Davis didn't win, but I love Meryl Streep, and as always, she was classy and perfect. (LOVED Collin Firth's Mama Mia comments. I don't know about you, but I could listen to him read the phone book. He's adorable!) I loved Meryl's dress, too. Normally, she's somewhat of a fashion disaster, but last night, she was spot on. Angelina, please keep your leg in your dress. We really don't care. I swear. Brad, love that you're sporting "The Rachel" these days. Nice tip of the hat to Jenn. The only nominated movie I saw was "The Descendants." I had soooo many issues with that movie and the plot (they're going to hunt down the mother's lover while she is DYING in the hospital? Really?), but I had no issue with two hours of George Clooney on the screen. Dreamy. I was thrilled to see Christopher Plummer win as well as Octavia Spencer. I'm looking forward to seeing "The Help." What did you think of the Oscars? Have you seen any of the movies? Which one is must-see?

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dear Diary: School Vacation Week

The kids are home this week, which clearly changes the writing dynamic. One of them sleeps until noon and the other is up earlier, but he's good about entertaining himself when I'm working. So I'm trying to get some writing done in the AM and then hang with them (as much as teenagers wish to "hang" with their mother) in the afternoons. Tomorrow, we're heading to NYC for a few days for college tours at NYU and Fordham for my daughter, the artsy-theater-musical type. While we're there, we also plan to tour the 911 memorial, which both my kids wanted to do, and go skating at Rockefeller Center, which my hockey-playing boy wants to do. He also asked if we could score some tickets to a Knicks game so he could see their new sensation Jeremy Lin play. I laughed. Hard. As if! I'd like to see Wicked while we're there if we can fit that in. We'll see! My husband HATES NYC, so it's a great time to go with just the kids since he is working this week.

Some of you have asked how our new dog Louie (also known as Screwy Louie when he is being crazy and just LOUIS when he's misbehaving) is fitting in. Well, it's like he's always been here. He fits in perfectly with all of us. He and Brandy get along great. They love to wrestle and play and then they collapse for a nap before starting the whole process over again. We have an invisible fence in our yard, which is the only kind of fence we could possibly have since our yard is really weird. The invisible fence gives them the full run of the place, and Louie is now fully trained on the fence and knows his limits. It makes life a lot easier when we can send them out to play in the yard when they are getting too wild inside. Brandy really seems to like him, but even she has her limits. On the first night we let him sleep outside the crate, it was like she told him, "I don't mind having you around here, but don't get any ideas about sleeping with us." That first night, he got in bed with Jake and has slept there every night since. Jake loves having Louie snuggled up to him. He says, "Let's go to bed, Louie," and off they go. The only bad part is when Louie uses Jake's belly as a springboard when he bounds out of bed in the morning. Ooof! He's a cute little dude, and already love him.

Next on my mind is the season finale of Downton Abbey. WHOA! Did you see it? That last five minutes made my foolish heart go pitter patter. My friend and fellow Downton addict, Julie, sent me this link to a blog that deconstructs each episode. It's pretty comical reading and the author is, like me, a HUGE fan of Maggie Smith's dowager countess, who in my humble opinion, steals every scene she is in. I agree with the blog's critique of some of the second season's bigger failings, but even with the glitches (Robert's "thing" with the maid? UGH!), it's still riveting TV. I've even got Dan watching it, and he agrees that Maggie Smith is hysterical.

On the writing front, I made great progress on Duchess by Deception this weekend. It's coming right along. I'll be spending more time on that today along with Fatal Attack, which is also continuing along. There won't be much writing getting done while we're in NYC, so I'll hit it hard again next weekend.

I'll be back on Saturday to report in on our trip. Wish me well! Three days in NYC with two teenagers! Pray for my sanity! :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dear Diary: Observations from the Book Store and on the Loss of Whitney

For the first time in a very long time, I stepped foot into my local Barnes & Noble and found it to be a very different place than it was the last time I was there. In November of 2010 I made the leap to e-reading and have never looked back. This has fundamentally changed my relationship with my local bookstore. To be honest, e-reading has ended that relationship. I no longer have a reason to be somewhere I used to spend a tremendous amount of time. The loss of that relationship saddens me. However, as one who has tried to embrace new technology, I have to admit that I adore e-reading. I adore the easy access to books, the ability to have what I want when I want it (that applies to all things--not just books, LOL) and I love being able to read in the dark of night without bothering my husband--too much anyway.

I noticed that the romance section, still stashed way in the back of the store, has shrunk dramatically to two sides of a small aisle. It seems only the biggest names in the genre are featured there, with few exceptions. The new release paperback display that used to be in the front of the store is now stashed way  in the back. My kids asked why we had to walk past toys and other gadgets to get to the books. I told them because so many people aren't reading print books anymore. They were insulted on my behalf that my print books weren't featured in my home book store. I told them not to be because my readers are finding me in the e-bookstore where my books will never go out of print. Despite the move to e-reading and the fact that they have e-readers, both my kids bought print books yesterday. My older one, who is 16, told me she's not ready to completely abandon print books. I think I might be, however. I'm reading print books for a published author contest right now, and I find them to be hard on my eyes now that I've become accustomed to e-reading.

Where do you stand on the print vs. ebook debate? Have you made the leap? If so, do you have trouble going back to paperbacks when need be?

In other news, thank you to Carrie at Seductive Musings for listing Everyone Loves a Hero as one of her favorite books of 2011. In her note to me, she said, "I thought it was such a wonderful story and it was one of my absolute favorite reads from 2011."

Today, I'm watching Whitney's funeral on TV. As one who came of age in the late 80s/early 90s, hers was the voice of my generation. I remember singing her songs into my hairbrush with my dorm-mates in college. We loved her so much, and we were quite convinced our singing was every bit as good as hers. Of course no one's singing was ever quite like Whitney's. My daughter made a comment questioning just how big a star Whitney really was. We told her she couldn't begin to conceive of what a huge star Whitney was in her day. While the last years of her life were filled with struggles, I hope she'll be remembered for her amazing, singular talent and her generosity to a generation of female singers who owe so much of their success to the path she paved. UPDATE: Kevin Costner's eulogy wrecked me, but watching Whitney's casket carried out of the church of her childhood with her soaring voice providing the final word made me sob. It's all too sad.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dear Diary: The Beautiful Thing About Ebooks

There are so many beautiful things about e-books. They are easily accessible, user friendly and never go out of print. They are available on a moment's notice and fit neatly on groovy devices we take with us everywhere we go. From the author's point of view, they are also easily updated, which is what I spent this morning doing. I updated the entire McCarthy series and created new files for the various retailers. I redid the Author's Note in each book to account for the fact that there will soon be five books in the series, and I updated the About the Author pages, as well as the reviews and list of available books to include new ones. It was a good "housekeeping" job that needed to be done. I'll also be refreshing the book descriptions on the various retail sites to include reviews, testimonials and a listing of the other books in the series. While all of this takes time and effort, I'm thrilled to be able to do it myself.

Speaking of housekeeping, I've just done a slight overhaul to my website. I've added a "Connect" button that lists all the ways readers can connect with me, from this blog to the reader groups on Facebook to Twitter and beyond. I've added a "Reviews" link to keep all my reviews in one central place, and we added a tab for the Treading Water Trilogy. The website is always a work in progress, so if there's anything you'd like to see there that I've missed, just let me know. On the back end, my lovely web guy Dan helped me to set up a sidebar feature that will allow me to make a single update to the sidebar that will then show up on every page. That might seem like a small thing, but as the site grows, it's a huge time saver to be able to hit every page with one update. It's the little things that make my life easier!

On the writing front, I hit 12,000 words on Fatal Attack yesterday. It was one of those perfect days when everything is firing on all cylinders. That book is off to a great start and the hardest part—the set up—is done now. I got to write a really fun Sam and Nick at home scene last night that I loved. I so enjoying hanging out with them. At this point they feel like old friends, and I know them so well that writing them gets easier all the time. The hardest part of the Fatal books is always the police investigation portion. I like where that part of Fatal Attack is heading. While at the gym yesterday (let there be no wasted time), I figured out the nuts and bolts of what will be the book after Attack, Fatal Mistake. That one is going to have a sports theme to it, and I'm looking forward to writing that. I'm also plugging away on my historical, Duchess by Deception, and thinking about the opening chapter of Season for Love, book 6 in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series. I'll need to do that opening chapter soon so I can include it in the back of book 5, Hoping for Love, when that's released in March. So, there's a lot going on inside my poor tired brain, but it's all good and I'm having so much fun!

The new dog Louie seems to be settling in well. It's amazing how fast he and Brandy have worked out things like whose bowl is whose, who is allowed on what portion of the sofa, who I belong to (BRANDY, if you ask her, and LOUIE, if you ask him) and various other pack details. I posted a video of them playing tug of war with one of their toys last night. They sound like cute little one-horsepower motors! Since we're still training Louie on the invisible fence, we're not letting him run free in the yard yet, so we have to walk him out to his rope on the tree (hopefully, for just another day or two). One thing I have noticed about him is for a skinny little 39-pound dude, he is FREAKISHLY strong. Yesterday, I was bringing him in, lost my balance and ended up face down on the cement porch with skinned knees and a bruised elbow. I imagine it was quite a sight for any passing motorists! I managed to hang on to him as I recovered my senses, but it was a lesson to make sure I'm being careful where he's concerned. He's small but scrappy! I also discovered today, much to Dan's dismay, that Louie is a digger. Brandy went through a fierce digging phase that has only recently ended. Poor Dan...he fights a losing battle with the grass and the digging dogs are not good for growing grass. I see a lecture from Dad in poor Louie's future... I wonder if he will listen?

Song I can't get out of my head: still Set Fire to the Rain by Adele. Day five.... My family is going to shoot me any minute.

Who I love on American Idol: Phillip Phillips. My daughter predicts he will win. What do you say?

Looking forward to: More Idol as well as Grey's and Private Practice tonight

Hope you're having a great day!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dear Diary: Much to Report

Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day! Ours was very nice with flowers and candy and a nice dinner with the kids. We talked about going out but the idea of dealing with crowds and slow service wasn't appealing. Maybe we'll go out tonight instead. I'm all for any plan that involves me NOT cooking!

One of the members of my Fatal Series Readers Group wondered what Sam and Nick were doing for Valentine's Day. So I penned a little story that features Sam taking the lead on romance's biggest day. Yes, you read that right! SAM is taking the lead for once. If you'd like to find out whether or not she pulled it off, join the group and click on the "Docs" tab at the top. I also just revealed the name of the book that will follow Fatal Attack to the group! I spent my gym time today pondering the murder mystery for the next book, and wondering if there's something wrong with me because I get a charge out of thinking up new ways to kill people. Hmmm.... Lots of fun stuff coming up for Sam and Nick! I'd like to know if the 2500-word Valentine's Day story counts toward my word count for yesterday. The husband says no. I say yes. LOL! I made some good progress on FATAL ATTACK yesterday, and I like the direction this one is taking.

On the McCarthy front, the copy editor reported in last night that book 5, HOPING FOR LOVE, is her favorite one yet. Yay! She said, "Well, I think I said the last book was the best one yet, but I was wrong, because THIS ONE is the best one yet! OMG, love, love, loved it." Thank you Linda Ingmanson! Linda does a great job editing my self-published books, and I love working with her.

I'm pleased and excited that TRUE NORTH is now available in print. I'm working on getting all of my self-published books available in print, so watch for the McCarthys in print, coming soon! Will post the links here and on my website when I have them.

A couple of updates from yesterday: Thanks to my Facebook friends, I figured out why the iPhone wasn't ringing. I'm now intimate with my mute switch. Who knew? Thanks to everyone who helped! I'm getting the hang of it, and I know I will like it. Eventually. On the home front, Louie is settling in nicely and Brandy seems to be getting used to her new "brother." They love to wrestle and chase each other around the house. He's fit right in like he's always been here, which is great. Dan had a feeling about him, and I have to say he was right! (Don't tell him I said that though.... LOL)

I want to talk a little bit today about pre-orders and why some of my books aren't available for pre-order and others are. The simple truth is that Amazon and other retailers don't yet offer pre-order capability to self-published authors. I really hope that will change before too much longer. This means the new McCarthy book won't be available for pre-order, but will go on sale on the designated release day in March (still to be determined) and not before. I wish this wasn't how it worked, and I've talked to Amazon about changing the policy, but no movement yet. The Fatal Series books are published by a division of Harlequin. Since traditional publishers are the only ones who can do pre-orders, that is why the Fatal books have been available for pre-order when the others are not. I hope that sheds some light on the behind the scenes situation. I know this is frustrating for a lot of readers. Believe me, it's frustrating for me too because I answer a LOT of questions about this issue! Here's hoping there will be a change in this policy before too much longer!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear Diary: Dogs and Phones and Chaos, Oh My!

Wrangled the blog back from Brandy's clutches....

Chaos seems to be the word of the year around here. First it was the home renovations. Now it's the new dog. We've decided to call him Louie, which is close to his shelter name of Luigi, but a little more to our liking. He's a very good boy, but he and Brandy love to wrestle. Right next to me. While I'm trying to write. That doesn't make for the most conducive environment for concentrating. I'm getting used to them, but it's going to take a few weeks to get into a routine that includes the new boy in the house. Brandy is exhausted without all her usual nap time during the day. They usually crash and burn right around the time that Dad gets home from work. Last night he commented on what good dogs they were. I said it was because the holy terrors wore themselves out playing all day. Here's a photo that shows Louie's face a little better:

He's a cute boy. He's SUPER skinny (we are going to fatten him up) but strong as an OX. I tried to take the two of them for a walk today, and when they nearly pulled me over the second time, I had to give up. They make me feel like a 90-pound weakling!

Speaking of weaklings, I haven't made it to the gym yet this week, but I'll be there tomorrow to meet the trainer. Good thing I have two standing dates with her each week.

I finally broke down and bought an iPhone this weekend. Yesterday, I spent 10 minutes figuring out how to make a phone call on it. I like the phone, for the most part, but it's like anything new. It takes some getting used to. I'd like to figure out why it doesn't ring when I get a phone call. That is even baffling my daughter, the iPhone queen.

Yesterday was my big TV appearance on a local morning show, The Rhode Show, which features goings on in and around Rhode Island. The big news of the day, other than Whitney Houston's passing, was the PowerBall winner being a Rhode Islander. We're still waiting to hear who the lucky winner is. We know the ticket was bought in Newport, which is two towns over from me. Anyway, my spot was about romance novels and how they make for a good gift for your Valentine. You can watch it here. The show was really fun to do, but of course I look at myself on TV and all I see is 100 pounds of FACE. I hate my fat face. I always have. My brother said I only looked a little bit like Chris Farley. Thanks, bro. That made me laugh!

I've been working all day today on Fatal Attack, the next book in the Fatal Series. I'm enjoying being back with Sam and Nick again and immersing them in another mystery. I'm closing in on 10,000 words, and will keep you posted on my progress.

Miscellaneous items:
Song I can't get out of my head: Set Fire to the Rain by (who else?) Adele. Did you see her interview on 60 Minutes? If not, well worth viewing online. She's someone I'd love to hang out with. She seems very "real" and down to earth despite her fame. And she swears! I already love her!

Downton Abbey: Did you watch the two-hour show on Sunday? I'm not at all pleased with Lord Grantham after that episode. I'm not digging the second season quite as much as the first. A lot of it seems rushed for some reason. I dunno...

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? We're making dinner with the kids and staying in. I think of VD in restaurants the same way I do NY Eve: amateur hour. Too crazy for me! I am so romantic, huh? Dan got me a dozen red roses and some chocolate, and I have silly little gifts for him and the kids. Hard to believe that this time last year we were wrapping up the voting for Sam & Nick's wedding. Time flies! Whatever you're doing today, I hope it's fun!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dear Diary: Brandy Has Her Say

It's me, Brandy. Don't tell my mom that I took over her blog, but I have some major news to report. I've been tricked. I wouldn't have thought my Mom and Dad would be so devious, but it just goes to show that you never really know people, even when you sleep between them every night. Here's what happened....

They took me to this place that any fool would know is a dog pound. I'm a few years removed from the shelter life myself, but I know a shelter when I see one. Of course my first thought was about my overwhelming taste for socks. Had they had enough of rescuing their socks from my clutches? Were they turning me back in for bad behavior? And what kind of life could I expect as a non-reformed sock felon once I was back behind bars. Word on the street is that the inmates are hard on sock-nappers. I'll admit it. I was scared. There were so many smells and noises and critters. My senses were on overload. They took us into a back room. My mom, dad, sister and brother were all there, which gave me some hope. My brother would never let them turn me in for sock-napping. He loves my antics and often encourages me to be naughty. We're BFFs. I felt safe with him by my side. My sister, on the other hand, she'd turn me over in a New York minute. I kept an eye on her...

One of the shelter ladies brought a guy in on a leash. I guess he isn't what anyone would consider hideous, but he's certainly not as cute as me. He has floppy black ears and a black face, but his body looks like it was stolen from one of those big dogs who say MOO instead of WOOF. You know the ones I mean? Anyhow, so they expected me to actually PLAY with this guy, but who can be bothered? I had naps to take and socks to steal at home (weekends are great for socks because that's when they do most of the laundry). I just wanted to be back in Mom's car with my head out the window, listening to tunes on the way home. So I did what any nervous future convict would do. I ignored the guy. Mom and Dad seemed kinda disappointed. I couldn't figure out why. Here I am keeping an eye on Mom while Dad plays with the MOO dude.

The next day, Dad took me back again. Just me and him this time. No one there to look out for me except Dad, and he's been pretty firm with me on what we're calling the whole "sock issue." Rut roh... They made me play with the MOO dog AGAIN. Sniff. Whatever. I'm still not interested in him. I think I was pretty clear on the matter.

Well, you won't believe what happened yesterday! They brought the MOO dude HOME TO MY HOUSE! They walked him around MY yard and brought him into MY turf. Inside, he thought it was just fine to get up on MY sofa and sleep in MY new king-sized bed that Mom and Dad just bought for me. Harumph! Who does he think he is? Last night, he started getting frisky with me, so I showed him who's boss. We played chase around the house and then we wrestled. He's not BAD to wrestle with, but there was no doubt that I won. I pinned his skinny rump to the rug in two seconds flat. He plays a little dirty, but I can be dirty too when need be. He'd better keep his face out of MY bowl, or things are gonna get ugly around here. I'm not sure how long he's planning to stick around (I heard some horrible talk between Mom and Dad about "Brandy needing a playmate." WHAT? Brandy needs more treats, more belly rubs and more running time with Dad. Brandy does not need a playmate!) Speaking of running, Dad took me and the MOO dog on a four-mile run yesterday. Dad and I usually go further than that, but he said we had to take it easy on the new guy. Sheesh! The insults just keep on coming!

The ultimate insult was when the new dude (they called him Luigi at the pound, but there's talk of changing his name to Louie, which is a dumb name if you ask me) got all snuggly with my mom. Everyone who is anyone around here knows she is MINE. My brother and sister even know better than to get too close to her when I'm around. Mine, mine, MINE. She said the MOO dude is "snuggly." What the heck does that mean? Snuggly. Ugh. He'd better watch himself. That's all I got to say. Here he is making himself right at home... The nerve of some people's children. Mom says she will try to get a better picture of his "cute" (meaning not hideous) face today. They'll be taking him back any day now. I'm sure of it. Until then, I've got to go wrestle him into submission again. Show him who's boss around here.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dear Diary: I Might Be a Valley Girl

The whirlwind that is launch week continues with lots of fun and excitement surrounding FATAL FLAW! Thanks to everyone who has written to tell me you've enjoyed the latest installment of Sam and Nick's adventures. One of the comments I've heard a few times is that series are supposed to go downhill after book 3, which was news to me. LOL! Readers have told me the Fatal Series is getting better, and they can't wait for the next one. Of course I love hearing that and will continue to do my best to make sure we're heading uphill rather than down. Thanks to my Nook readers for putting FATAL FLAW in the Barnes & Noble Top 100! That's quite a thrill!

Fatal Series readers might be interested in hearing my interview with RT Book Reviews in which I talk about Sam and Nick and what makes them special to me. Like most people, I hate to watch myself on video because I always think, Do I really sound like an overgrown Valley Girl? Apparently so! I'll be on TV in the Providence, RI, area on Monday, talking about romance in advance of Valentine's Day. I'll post the link to that interview when I have it. I'm going to do my best not to sound like a Valley Girl this time. Like... Oh my GOD! :-)

McCarthy Series Readers may want to join the fun at the McCarthys of Gansett Island Readers Group on Facebook where this week the girls are casting the guys for the imaginary movies they are going to make of the books. If you have some thoughts about who could play Mac, Joe, Luke, Grant, Evan, Adam or Big Mac, come on over and join in the fun! Speaking of the McCarthys, Evan's book, HOPING FOR LOVE, is heading to the copy editor today! I can't wait to get it ship-shape and out to you in March. More to come on a release date when I have it.

I had a really great time yesterday with my friend Karen Lawson's book club in Defiance, Ohio. Thanks to the magic of Skype, I was able to join in their chat about TREADING WATER, which was really exciting. You all know how much that book means to me, and to be able to debate the issues in the book with readers was such a thrill. Thank you Karen and the ladies of Defiance. I think I'd like to live in a town with that name. Do you think it comes with an attitude to match its name? Maybe I need to set a book there. Hmm... If you'd like to Skype me into your book club, let me know! I'd love to come. It's so much fun to talk about my books with readers!

I've really fallen off the gym wagon this week (and last). I somehow managed to hurt my foot, and I've been trying to stay off it. Dan has diagnosed me with a stress fracture. I'm really hoping that isn't the case as I imagine the fun my brother and cousins would have teasing me about my foot being under such STRESS that my bones are breaking! Let's face it, they could have a field day with that one!

Well, I am off to finish a re-read of FATAL FLAW to refresh my memory and get myself in the right frame of mind to dive back into FATAL ATTACK! Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dear Diary: The Cheese Whiz Effect

Someone was asking me today if I'm keeping busy with my new job. Umm, yes. Yes, I am. In fact, I have no idea where the days are going. Time is flying by as if I stepped into a machine that puts life on overdrive. You know that January was full of home renovations that took way too much of my time and brain space. This month, it's all the details of incorporating my business and establishing new bank accounts and various other details that involve phone calls from the lawyer, the accountant and the bank.

Today, I actually used a Cheese Whiz analogy to describe the way my writing life has exploded to fill the available time. You know how the whiz is compressed into the can but explodes the minute you let it out? That's what's happened to me since I left my job to write full time. The new "job" (that still never really feels like a job) has exploded to fill the available space, and I love everything about it!

Thanks to everyone who gave Fatal Flaw such a great release day! I so appreciate all the lovely emails and comments about the book. Once I get Hoping for Love off to the copy editor, I'll be back to Sam and Nick and their latest adventure in Fatal Attack. All the chatter on the Fatal Flaw Readers Group has me jonesing to get back to that world for another visit. If you've finished the book and want to join the chat, just click on the link. We'd love to have you!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dear Diary: Launch Day and Other News!

Happy Launch Day for FATAL FLAW, book 4 in the Fatal Series! Sam and Nick are back with a whole new adventure.

Back from their honeymoon, Senator Nick Cappuano and D.C. Police Lieutenant Sam Holland are ready for some normalcy after the whirlwind of their wedding, but someone has other plans for them. When Sam discovers wedding cards containing thinly veiled death threats, she's not sure if she or Nick is the target.

Already on edge, Sam and her team start investigating a series of baffling murders. The victims are well-liked with no known enemies, and the murders are carried out in a clean and efficient manner. Unable to find a clear motive for the deaths, she feels like she's chasing her tail.

With no obvious connection between the victims, Sam soon suspects that she may be the ultimate prize in the killer's clever game. When the danger starts to hit a little too close to home, she has two goals: find the elusive murderer and manage to live long enough to enjoy her happily ever after.

Read an excerpt!

Get it at:
Nook/Barnes & Noble
Carina Press
All Romance E-books

Audio Book

I'm really excited to get this one out to readers. I finished it back in July, and it's been hard to keep quiet about everything that happens in this new book. When you're done reading, join the reader chat at Fatal Flaw Readers Group on Facebook. But don't join the group until you're done reading since we'll be spilling spoilers over there.

My lovely beta readers, Ronlyn and Kara, who love to tease me about everything they can think of, reminded me last night about some of the off-color names I had for Fatal Flaw during the writing. I can't repeat any of them here, but suffice to say this book put me through the paces. For the first time in 20 books, I rewrote the entire first chapter when I was three-quarters of the way through. Something just wasn't working, so Ronlyn, Kara and I put our heads together and discovered the story had a... wait for it.... FATAL FLAW! LOL! Once we figured that out and I redid the first chapter, it was smooth sailing to THE END. I learned a lot writing this particular book, and I think it'll be easier to write future Fatal books knowing what I do now. Let's hope so anyway!

In other news from this weekend, HOPING FOR LOVE, book 5 in the McCarthys of Gansett Island Series, is now finished! I love the way Evan and Grace's story came together. It was so fun to write Evan as he resisted the overwhelming feelings he had for Grace until he could no longer deny that his life as a single guy is O-V-E-R. It couldn't have happened to a better man, and Grace is a lucky girl to have one of the McCarthy brothers madly in love with her! I had planned to write Tiffany's book next, but over the weekend I decided I might do a "winter on Gansett" book before I get to Tiff. I'm toying with the name SEASON FOR LOVE for this one. Let me ask you this: How do you feel about reading a Christmas-related story when it's not Christmas on the calendar? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that!

For my fellow New England Patriots fans out there, I have one word for us all: OUCH. That one hurt. They didn't look like our usual Patriots last night with the receivers missing more than they caught. While there is always next year, I plan to lick my wounds for a few more days anyway! How about you?

News on my latest addiction: Downton Abbey. If you aren't watching this show, you're missing out on some great TV. I realized this weekend that Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) is the same guy who didn't recognize Julia Roberts' character Anna as a huge movie star in Notting Hill. Loved that scene! Today I found season 2 of Downton online and started watching the two-hour season premier. After an hour, I had to LITERALLY drag myself away and get to work. It's that good. Do you watch it?

Well, back to work promoting FATAL FLAW and proofing HOPING FOR LOVE. I'm also planning to do some work this week on my historical romance in the making: DUCHESS BY DECEPTION. Did I tell you my agent LOVED the first half? Now I just need to finish it up, and I can't wait to get to that as well as the next Fatal book, FATAL ATTACK. Busy, busy!  Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Dear Diary: HTJB, Inc. & A Giveaway

February 2, 2012 is a day that will go down in infamy in my life as an author for it was the day that my company was founded: HTJB, Inc. went on the official books with the Rhode Island Secretary of State yesterday! HTJB stands for: House That Jack Built. Read the full story behind the company name here. This is one of those things I used to dream about way back when, long after I finished Jack's book, Treading Water. I'd say, if I ever form a company around my books, it will be HTJB. I can check off that item on the to-do list. HTJB is a reality, and I'm so excited!

I'm also excited about the launch on Monday of Fatal Flaw, book 4 in the Fatal Series. In honor of the upcoming release and the formation of my new company, I thought it would be fun to post a new excerpt today and offer a giveaway copy of the book to one lucky commenter. What I'd like to know is this: What is your all-time favorite Sam & Nick moment? Please include your email address with your comment! I'll use a random calculator to pick a winner tomorrow morning. 

Without further ado, here's a glimpse at Flaw:

The front door swung open. “Hey, babe,” Nick said. “You coming in?”
Celia had promised to call if she needed help, so Sam tore her eyes off the house down the street and let her husband usher her into their home, a renovated double-sized townhouse he’d bought so she could be near her dad and work. Of course its Capitol Hill location put him in close proximity to his office too.
“What’s the matter?” he asked, taking her coat and hanging it in the closet when Sam would’ve tossed it over the sofa. Why hang it when she’d need it again in the morning?
“I think my dad is sick. He’s all congested and wheezy sounding, and he has a fever.”
“What did Celia say?”
“She’s on it, but I’m worried about pneumonia.”
“And what’s this?” Nick asked, gesturing to the garbage bag full of wedding cards that sat on the floor next to her.
“More well wishes that went to Dad’s house—at least I hope they’re well wishes.”
Nick kissed her forehead and then her lips. “My poor wife’s first day back to work was far more stressful than it should’ve been, wasn’t it?”
She nodded. “And now this with my dad. Maybe I should go back over there. Just in case.”
“If that’s what you want to do, I’ll go with you. We can sleep over there tonight.”
“Really? You wouldn’t mind?”
“I’d rather have you there where you can be near him than watch you wear out a path in the carpet over here worrying about him.”
Sam hadn’t realized she’d been pacing as they talked. She stopped and looped her fingers together, filled with nervous energy. “Sorry. Anything with him totally freaks me out. We’ve been so lucky to get two pretty good years since the shooting. All that time we’ve known how precarious his health is now. A simple cold is anything but for him.”
Nick came to her and put his arms around her. He unclipped her long hair and combed his fingers through her curls. Breathing in the scent of Nick, the scent of home, Sam closed her eyes and rested her head against his chest. At times like this, she could no longer remember what it had been like to live without him.
“Sometimes I feel guilty because I’m so grateful he survived the shooting even if I hate the way he has to live now,” she said.
“I think he’s come to terms with it. In his own way.”
“Yeah, but it still sucks.” What really sucked was the case remained unsolved more than two years later, despite ongoing effort by Sam and all of Skip’s former colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department. “I’m beginning to give up on ever solving his case.”
“You will.”
Sam drew back to look up at him. “You sound awfully sure of that.”
“I’m awfully sure of you.” Keeping his eyes firmly on hers, he lowered his head and captured her mouth.
Sam linked her hands around his neck and teased him with her tongue, making him groan.
“This was the longest day,” he said. “I spent most of it missing you and daydreaming about Bora Bora.”
She kept her lips close to his. “Me too.”
His hands found their way to her bottom and squeezed. “How soon until we can go back?”
Sam laughed. “Not soon enough.”
He surprised her when he suddenly lifted her and arranged her legs around his waist. “No reason we can’t relive some of the magic right here at home.”
“Is that so?”
“Mmm-hmm.” His kisses became more urgent as he lowered them to the sofa. “I feel like I’m going through withdrawal or something.”
“Just think,” she said, running her fingers through his hair, “we get to stay on this drug for the rest of our lives.”
“Do you promise the same number of daily doses I received in Bora Bora?”
Sam laughed and brought him down for more of those heated kisses he was doling out.
“So that’s a ‘yes’?”
“You’re rather persistent this evening, Senator.”
His hands were busy divesting them of clothes. “I’m rather horny too.”
Normally, he was the epitome of finesse, but tonight he was all about urgency. The moment they were both naked, he surged into her and dropped his head to her chest. “God, I needed this.”
She loved watching his legendary control waver and then break as he took fierce possession of her. Sweat dampened his back and brow. Sam gave herself over to him, loving him more than she’d ever imagined possible.
“Babe,” he whispered. “Can’t…” He moaned and tightened his hold on her.
“It’s okay.” She ran her hands down his back and clutched his backside, which seemed to send him careening completely out of control.
His face was tight with tension as he came hard. His fingers gripped her arm and shoulder so tightly she suspected there would be bruises, not that she cared.
“Sorry,” he said, breathing hard.
“For what?” She brushed the damp hair off his brow.
“You didn’t come.”
“You can make it up to me next time.”
“And I will. I promise.” He ran his hand down her arm and linked their fingers. “I wish we’d never had to leave Bora Bora.”
“Is that so?”
“They were the best days of my life. I could’ve stayed there with you forever.”
“You would’ve missed work and your friends and your life here after a while.”
“I had everything I needed right there with me.”
“You would’ve gotten fat and lazy and slovenly.”
He chuckled and brushed his lips over the side of her breast, sending a shiver of sensation rippling through her. “We found a good way to burn off calories.”
“We certainly did.”
“More than anything, I liked having you all to myself.”
“You’ll have me all to yourself every night.”
“Not the same. Not nearly enough.”
Sam placed her free hand on his face, urging him to look at her. “What’s this all about?”
Hesitating, he looked away for a moment before he brought his gaze back to meet hers. “Having you all to myself showed me how little time together we get at home.”
“It’ll be better now that we’re officially living together.”
“It won’t be better. We’ll always be competing against a million other demands for time to ourselves.”
“True, but as long as we make our relationship the top priority we’ll work it out.”
“I told Christina today that from now on I’m only giving two nights a week and one weekend day to the campaign.”
“Can you do that?”
“I have a sixty-five-point lead over my Republican opponent, so I’m willing to risk it.”
“Is that an unusually high lead?”
“I guess so,” he said modestly. “We got a nice bump out of the wedding.”
“Glad to be of assistance.”
That sexy grin of his made her go weak in the knees even when she wasn’t lying naked in his arms. “Anyway, since we’ve got a pretty solid lead, I don’t see the need to spend so much time campaigning. Especially,” he added, kissing her, “when I have so many other things I’d rather be doing.”
“You won’t get any argument from me.”
“I had a feeling you might approve.” He propped his chin on her chest. “So do you want to go over to your dad’s?”
Sam thought about that for a minute. “Celia said she’d call if anything changes, so I guess we can stay here.”
“Want some help going through the cards?”
“Sure. The faster I get that done, the faster I can go to bed.”
“Why do you think I offered to help?”
“And here I thought your offer was entirely unselfish.”
“Oh no, babe. Not entirely.”

Copyright 2012. Marie Sullivan Force. All rights reserved.

Go forth and comment on your favorite Sam & Nick moment! Remember--to be entered into the drawing--you MUST list your favorite Sam & Nick moment HERE ON THE BLOG, not on Facebook, and you must list your email address. Thanks!

Have a great weekend and GO PATS!!!!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dear Diary: The Sound of Silence

Ahhhhh, it's done! The big carpet/tile upstairs/downstairs disaster is finally finished and no one will be coming to bang around in my house today. I am soooo glad we did it, but I'm even more glad it's over. It looks fantastic, and we are very happy with the outcome. Working in a "war zone" of renovation and repair is not conducive to creativity, that's for sure. We have one final frontier to face and that is the replacing of the doors on all the rooms. We think the guy who lived here before us went to a door yard sale because they are all different. That has bugged me for more than nine years, so we're finally doing something about it. And then we will REALLY be done!

Sorry to miss a day of the diary yesterday. I was at a funeral in the morning for one of my dad's cousins, who died over the weekend. He is in Florida, so my brother and I went as his representatives. Ironically, Mary ended up being buried about 100 yards from our mother, which should please both ladies as they were great pals in life. I like to imagine my mother up there welcoming Mary, and saying something to the effect of, "Glad to see you! We could use a spark plug like you around here!" And I like to think of Mary telling my mom, "You won't believe what Marie is up to these days!" since my mom didn't live to see any of the great stuff that has happened with my books. (Although I like to believe she knows all about it and is helping to make it happen.)

I had to laugh the other night when our governor delivered the state of the state message (verdict: it's not good), and the local news never mentioned the governor's name until 11:10 because they were too busy with Super Bowl coverage. As always, in Rhode Island, our priorities are straight!

Today it is back to work on HOPING FOR LOVE and lunch with my childhood best friend. Looking forward to both! Another bit of good news: my agent really loved the "half a historical" I submitted to her. She is a lover of all things historical, so to have struck a chord with her feels like a big accomplishment. I'm excited to get back to work on that book and finish it up. It's a whole new genre for me, and I'm loving the grand experiment. I hope you will too when you get to read it!

Have a great day!