Friday, February 29, 2008

Linda Sole and the Stud

Sometimes at the Diaries we like to step back and allow someone else’s voice to be heard. This marks the first of our almost guest interviews. Guest interview, you say? Yes but don’t expect a big name, or even a little name you may have heard of. We saved that for our interviewee.

The Diaries is proud to welcome a woman who is a virtual Charlie’s Angels of authors wrapped into one hot package. Whether you know her as Anne Herries, Linda Sole, or Anne Ireland, one fact is set in stone, her books will drive you to the edge of passion and beyond. Which begs the question, why did she agree to this guest chat?

Out of the way, Jmo. Because she knew I was the doing the probing questions!

Now that I’ve got the lightweights out of the room, allow me to introduce myself. This is the one, the only, the hotter than Tarzan in a see-through loin cloth, Stud Lee Monkey. Before we move on to my sweetums, uh I mean Linda, let me hit you with my bonefides. Not only am I the author and star of Mis-Staked: A Comedy of Vampiric Proportions coming to you soon from the fabulous people at Champagne Books, but I am also the only chimpanzee with a pending Green Card wedding with the woman you’re about to meet. Let England try to keep me out now!

TMD: Sit down, Linda. Don’t be afraid, I told you no funny business til after the ceremony.

Linda: Oh, Studs! Ever since I read all that fantastic work you've been doing I have been dying to meet you. (Bats eyelids) I know why JMO tries to keep you hidden. You have a wonderful body.

TMD: Why don’t you tell us a little about those marvelous books of yours, while Jmo gets you a nice cup of tea?

Linda: Yes please. (Jmo leaves the room) Anything to get him out of the room so that we can be alone! (Studs looks nervous) You really want to know about the books? Oh well, all right, I suppose I can wait for a little longer. (sighs) My hero!

I started off writing for Mills & Boon. You know them on your side of the pond as Harlequin Historicals. Well, I wrote such a fantastic unforgettable manuscript that they lost it, couldn't recall receiving it. (Studs looks suitably shocked). I can't understand it either, but maybe it was for the best. Anyway, the next book was published by Robert Hale, a hardback publisher in England. It was called The Witch Child/Lynne Granville, and I started with the ending and then wrote the rest. Set in the English Civil War, it was about a woman who did whatever she had to do to protect her family, and that included sleeping with the enemy.

After writing three more books for Hale I sent another, very nervously, to M&B and they took it. I wrote another eleven for M&B at that time. I was then head hunted by an agent to do mainstream. My first book for Century was Lovers & Sinners back in 1990. It was very different to the books I had been writing and they called it successful. Unfortunately, it didn't quite get into the top ten. I wrote two more for Century, but the others didn't sell quite as well. I think maybe I was trying too hard, and the fourth book was dropped. However, after a brief flirtation with Piatkus (Studs, stop making eyes at me! I can't think when you do that!) I sold Flame Child to Severn House and I have been happily working with them ever since. I also went back to M&B and have now had getting on for forty books published with M& B. They go all over the place and are translated into several languages. Recently, I have been flirting with ebooks, but the jury is out on that one.

Stud: Oh, boy, some tea pronto and none of that crud you serve to the regular people. I want the good stuff.

Linda: (Jmo enters with the tea just in time! What are you up to Studs? Never mind, perhaps you had better not say.)

TMD: Your books cover all the romance genres. Is there a particular genre you enjoy writing?

Linda: I have always loved romance of all kinds. I am a very romantic lady. I love historical because you can leave reality behind for a while and let your mind fly. I think authors who do fantasy are terrific and I find them fun to read, even if all sorts of dire things are happening to the heroine. All good stuff, chopping heads off and carrying off reluctant maidens to ravish them! (Keep calm, Studs. Just remember Jmo is serving the tea).

Stud: No, give her the cup not me. Sorry luv, but good help is so hard to find.

Linda: I know – with your intellect it must be awfully difficult to find staff of the right calibre.

Stud: You know it, babe.

TMD: Like many authors, you do both print and ebook. How do you feel the two sides of the industry complement each other?

Linda: I am pretty new to ebooks and maybe not as well known in that format as in print. I do believe that they are going to be big in the future, though I think we need other ways of selling them other than download. Kindle seems to be a good idea, easier because it is just wired to your reader. However, it should be available in stores so that people don't have to use a computer. I feel if sales are going to go through the roof, there will need to be a method that means you can pick up an ebook with your coffee. I like the principle of the thing, because you don't have to cut down trees and you can store so many books in a small place. We shall have to see what the future brings.

TMD: You write under a few different nom de plumes. Why the different names? I just want to make sure whose name is going to be on the marriage certificate. I don’t want to be marrying Sybil Jr.

Linda: I wanted to use my own name for M&B but they didn't like it so I came up with Anne Herries. Anne is a favourite name and Herries came from the Rogue Herries books by Walpole. When I started mainstream, I was allowed to use my own name. I have used Emma Quincey. Piatkus came up with that one, because it suited the books I was writing for them, and they wanted to do one Linda Sole and one EQ a year. These days they often publish two of the same author in the same year, but at the time print publishers felt you couldn't do that many – not if they were any good. When I came to ebooks I started writing something different. Some of them were slightly erotic and I used different names because I thought it best to keep them separate. However, for the books I am doing for Red Rose Publishing at the moment I am using my own name again.

TMD: A lot of authors have specific regimes they follow when they sit down to writing. Are you a plot first, characters first or a seat of your pants writer? To throw in a double whammy, how much research do you put into books?

Linda: I am usually plot first and then characters. I normally find that the heroines are fairly easy to bring to life, but it is the hero who gives the spark to a romance. Once I have him set in my mind I often go back and start the book again with a scene from him. At least, that is what I do for romance. When writing crime or sagas it is a bit different. In the Sarah Beaufort Mysteries, it is Sarah who leads the story, though I often begin with a crime. Sagas are very much heroine led. The male leads are probably not truly heroes.

As far as research goes, it depends on the book. Regency is a period I love so I only need to do a bit for those as a rule. Sagas will normally need far more, and crime needs a certain amount – dates and whether or not they could pick up fingerprints in the time period, that kind of thing. What I don't do is read loads of stuff because I tried that and started writing a historical list rather than a story. So, just as much as I need.

TMD: Speaking of characters. Who comes first, the hero or the heroine? And which do you feel closer to?

Linda: Although the hero is crucial in romance, I nearly always begin with the heroine, though, as I said earlier, I go back and do a piece from the hero because I think that is often what catches the reader's imagination. In a saga I feel closer to the heroine. In romance I have to make the relationship spark so I suppose I need to get inside my hero's head to do that. (I said head Studs!)

TMD: A lot of authors develop a very devoted fan base. How important is the relationship between you and your readers?

Linda: I am developing a very rewarding relationship with readers through the Internet. Writing has been good to me so I run regular competitions to give something back. I get quite a few nice emails and I have had some letters. When I get a letter though the post I always send a book. It is good to know that people enjoy what you write. (You have to know that, Studs! I am sure you get a lot of groupies!)

TMD: Jmo cover your ears! Now, my dear, a question solely for my benefit. What do you like your macho chimps to wear, boxers or thongs?

Linda: Oh, I think thongs in your case Studs. With a physique like that who needs clothes?

TMD: Not that you’ll ever have this problem with me, but what is the most frustrating aspect of being an author?

Linda: Rejections with no explanations or just rejections in general. Especially if I thought the book was okay.

TMD: A lot of authors live or die by reviews. How much impact do you really think reviews have on readers when they’re looking at prospective purchases?

Linda: Good reviews make you feel good, bad ones either make you spitting mad (recommended) or make you want to curl up and die. I think some people take notice but not everyone. If it is a professional magazine used by publishers and the trade it can do a lot of good. A starred review in Booklist can mean that your sales to the libraries shoot up and your publisher has to reprint.

TMD: Before we bring this to a close and we head off to the Hilton for some pre-honeymoon hi-jinks, would you let all our readers know what the future has to hold for you? Also let everyone know where they can find out about you on the web.

Linda: I have just finished a dreaded revision for M&B. It is one of a Regency trilogy and I have another in house being read. I have the third to do soon. I also have the third in the Upstairs,Downstairs, trilogy for Severn House. The first two have been well received so I want to make a good job of that, and I may write another mystery later this year. However, I have a special project on the go. It is a book for mainstream. An agent /friend has been nagging me to have another go. I wrote just over a hundred pages and sent her and she thinks it has more promise than anything else she has read recently. It is a matter of a lot of work and fingers crossed so we shall just have to wait and see. In the meantime I have those contracts to finish. I have one book out with an ebook company that I am waiting for results on, but I really want to try and write this special book.

TMD: Linda thanks for joining us today. I am sorry Jmo kept spilling tea on you but what to you expect from Homo Sapiens. Now let’s get going. I’m renting this room by the hour.

Linda: Oh, Studs, I think I should tell you that I am married. No, Studs, don't cry. I hate to see a grown monkey cry and I do love you, really I do. Imagine the scene in one of those romantic films. Brief Encounter! It is the forbidden love: she has to return to her husband and leave the love of her life. She sobs and walks into the sunset, music playing. Don't you just love it? Studs…where are you going? Hey, Studs, wait for me…Stud: Mommie!!!!!!

TMD: As our guest interviewer runs sobbing off into the sunset, we would like to thank both Linda and Stud for joining us today. We promise next time to screen our hired guns or at least keep them hopped up on Prozac til the thing’s over.

Monday, February 25, 2008

We Read What We Write: Ten Second Reviews

I'm sure the big question bugging y'all is what the heck do we read when we aren't writing and chatting and generally living life.

Okay, so you may be too busy to comtemplate such burning questions, however, we're going to tell you anyway. And maybe, just maybe, I can slow down this obsession of mine just a little. If my husband ever finds out how much I read he may disown me. My brand new bookcases are already groaning with books from my past and the many new additions I've made to the collection in the last year or so.

So here goes. Sitting in the just read pile beside MorganO's chair you will find:

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn. My first JQ book and I loved it. A fun read. I believe in fun, so this is a very high compliment from me.

First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. I adore SEP and this book was no exception. I stayed up all night to finish it.

Just Imagine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. A fabulous look at the Reconstruction period following the Civil War. Have I mentioned I love SEP? I'm saving the football books for next August to read again.

The Other Woman by Brenda Novak. Book #7 of her Dundee Idaho series, I liked it as much as the first one I read (A Husband of Her Own). Interestingly enough, the only book I haven't read in the series was the first one (A Baby of Her Own). I still need to find it. Good thing we have a used book store with an extensive HQ section. I just discovered there's a book #8. Oh honeyyyy...

Unexpected by Lori Foster. Another author I personally just discovered. I'm hooked on Lori Foster and enjoyed this little break from her SBC series and the Wild/Winston Brothers. All good choices.

Lip Service by Lori Foster and Julie Elizabeth Leto. A nice collaberation but not Lori's finest work. Still, both stories were enjoyable.

That Camden Summer by LaVyrle Spencer. In this past year I've rediscovered LaVryle. She's one of those authors you just have to read. Very detailed with her historical facts, I prefer her historicals to her contemporaries, but that doesn't mean her contemps are bad.

You've Got Male by Elizabeth Bevarly. I MUST get more of her books. Loved it. Computer geeks and ubersecret spies, what's not to love? I can truly identify with a woman who works in her jammies.

And last but not least, in my hands as I edit and type, Got Your Number by Stephanie Bond. I picked this one up based on how much I loved her book Whole Lotta Trouble. I'm not that far into it, but already I can tell it will be just as good.

Now that's a whole lotta books in the past week or so. Why? Well, when I can't sleep because my cold keeps me from breathing, the books take me away and I forget all about feeling crummy. Not even movies will take me away like just settling down to read. Later, when the cold is gone, I won't read so much, but for now the books work better than Dayquil for keeping me going. That and my box of Puffs.

So what has Jmo been reading?
Well you know me. I’ve been neck deep in comedies. Strangely enough all of them are vampires.

First up:

The Accidental Vampire by Lynsay Sands:

This is the one series I can’t wait to read with each new book. Sands take on vamps is original and her comedic timing is spot on.

Evi Black isn’t a vampire by choice. She doesn’t even know how she became one. She just knows her trip to Mexico got her more than Montezuma’s Revenge to show for her troubles. When her best friend puts an ad in the personals looking for her a mate, the trouble really starts. Victor Argeneau shows up along with other vamps willing to take a chance on finding true love. Now Victor has to somehow discover the secret of Evi’s transformation and win her heart before someone kills her.

By the end of the book I couldn’t wait for the next. This series has been fantastic since book 1 and this installment was no exception.

And lucky I only had to wait a couple weeks for

Vampires are Forever, Book 8.

I must say this one I’ve been waiting for. Thomas Argeneau is the perfect example of what a vampire shouldn’t be. He isn’t dark and brooding. If anything, he’s the life of the party. When his cousins entrust finding their wayward mother to him, no one is more surprised than him. Inez Urso works for the Argeneau family and isn’t happy when her boss calls and tells her, she has to baby-sit Thomas while he searches for their mother. The surprises keep coming when Thomas discovers Inez is the lifemate he’s been looking for. Now, he must try to keep her alive as the man responsible for his aunt’s disappearance decides Inez is too close to finding the missing Marguerite Argeneau.

This book kept me on the edge of my seat. the only problem I had with it was the last page left me hanging and drooling for the next book. Marguerite’s story!

And the last on my just read list

The Undead Next Door by Kerrelyn Sparks

I fell in love with the first book in this series, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire. This series just keeps getting better.

In this volume we finally get the story of Jean-Luc Escharpe, vampire, swordsman, coven leader, fashion designer. Heather Westfield has always wanted to become a fashion designer but a bad marriage kept her dreams just that dreams. Meeting Jean Luc gave her a chance at making them come true until a killer from Jean’s past comes back with murder on his mind, hers. Now, Jean must battle his mortal enemy and his own heart, as falling in love is the last thing he wants and the very thing he needs.

This book was fast paced and drew me in from the get-go. Sparks brings her characters to live with such vibrancy you can’t help but fall in love with them.

Well those are my books for this week. I hope you all take the time to check them out. If not I’m coming to your house and sucking your blood. Blah! Blah!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Review: Boomerang Love by Melissa Lopez

Boomerang Love by Melissa Lopez
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Red Hots!
ISBN: 1-59998-857-7
Length: Short story
Price: 2.50
Publication Date: January 8, 2008

Take a walkabout on the wild side.

Book one: The Thorn Brothers

When you toss a boomerang, you know it will come back. But all bets are off when it’s a lover you’ve let go.

Cohen Thorn and Hayleigh Davenport shared one night of wild sex neither of them can forget, then went their separate ways half a world apart. But now Hayleigh’s back in Australia for one more weekend of passion. If she can’t get this Outback rancher out of her system once and for all, she’ll at least have memories to last a lifetime.

They’ve only got three days to steam up Sydney and the Outback, but in the place known as Never-Never, anything can happen. Soon they realize there’s a powerful force drawing them together.

Is it simple lust, or lasting love?


Jmo: Let me start by saying, I loved the premise for this book. I mean who wouldn't love the idea of waiting a year to see the one person who could be the love of your life after one night of passion.

MorganO: Man, to wait a whole year, that would have killed me. I'm too impatient.

Jmo: Me too, but for the right person, I'd wait a year, or at least max out a credit card to go after them.

MorganO: I've done that, max out the credit card, I mean. Personally, I would have done that on the telephone, especially to Australia. But seriously, I kept waiting for her to introduce the “result” of that first meeting. I was glad it didn't happen, but I really kept waiting for that reference to, “I have something to show you...let me get it from my hotel room.”

J Morgan: I know you kept expecting her to show up with a joey with his eyes.

MorganO: What tipped me off (or tripped me up) to that was Cohen thinking Hayleigh had gained weight and rounded out a little. Easy enough to assume it was from pregnancy, especially since that little bouncing bundle would have only been 3 months at the time. However, it would have changed the entire tone and diminished the story.

J Morgan: Ms. Lopez really got you inside the Cohen's mind. You could really tell he had been thinking about nothing but Hayleigh since that fateful night. And she had obviously had him on hers. You can see they wanted to enjoy every moment of the time they had together. I'm still wiping the sweat off the screen from all the enjoying.

MorganO: The elder brother adds a nice touch of reality cynicism to balance out the hope… who will be right? Adds a nice tension.

J Morgan: But I liked the way Ms. Lopez showed, that in spite of the cynicism, his family wanted nothing more than for him to be happy. Just like her mother wanted Hayleigh to find that thing she'd been missing in her life.

MorganO: Even half a world away.

Jmo: So how would you sum this up?

MorganO: Short, lots of sex, but a sweet story underlying. As with many shorts, I was dissatisfied because I want more. More details, more exploration, more back story, more conflict... just... more. Shorts leave little time for the emotions to be deeply explored, especially when it results in HEA. This isn’t a problem when the short is intended to be just sex. With the HEA, there was so much riding on this visit, I think the author could have really done the story more justice by stretching out the anticipation. However, I'm very glad she didn't go for the unexpected bundle of joy angle.

J Morgan: I'm with you there, I got into the characters but wanted more of them. I know shorts don't leave you much time to develop characters the way they deserve. Ms. Lopez did a good job of showing Cohen and Hayleigh's emotional need to connect with each other on a level other than sex, but I would have liked to have seen a better balance between the heat and the story, which isn't always easy to do with a confined story.

MorganO: Exactly, however, within the constraints of length she did a fine job.

J Morgan: She did. I would gladly take a trip down under with her again.

MorganO: Overall, based on the genre and the intention of a short, I give this one a 4.

J Morgan: You took the number right out of my mouth. 4 stouts it is.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine's Day Thought

Today marks the 10th Valentine’s Day I’ve spent with my loving wife Jenn. A milestone because she hasn’t killed me yet. I couldn’t let this day go by without telling her how much she’s meant to me. I know I don’t always remember the little things, but hope I’ve been there when she’s really needed me. Our life has seen both its fair share of joy and sadness. Through it all we’ve faced life’s little speed bumps together.

In fact this blog exists indirectly because of her. I don’t think I would have become a writer if not for her teaching me that happily ever after is more than an ending, it’s the start of a life—mainly our life together. So, before I get all weepy, I’d like to share a poem with you.

Jenn this is for you.

The shadow of yesterday’s heart

haunts me still

with the memories

of the wasted days

before she held my heart

in the passion of her mocha eyes.

Of when I knew

of mysteries born in lust,

yet never conceived

I could experience

the miracle of love,

until she touched

the soul born dead,

withering without her.

Could that I forsake the solitude

of those shallow days.

Yet then, I would belittle the joy

It took a lifetime to embrace

and promises forever

within the taste of her kiss.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Interview with Melissa Lopez

After a long delay, The Morgan Diaries is proud to present our first interview of 2008. If computers will stop crashing and Captain Trips will leave us alone, we promise it will be the first of many. So, who do we have on tap for you?

None other than noted author Melissa Lopez. Melissa is a multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave, and Samhain Publishing. Her books run the gambit of genres from hot paranormals to sizzling contemporaries. We were pleased to get the chance to sit down with this author who has overcame so much to become one of the bright stars in the Epublishing world.

TMD: Melissa thanks for joining us today.

ML: Hey, thank you both so much for having me.

TMD: Can you tell us a little about your new release Boomerang Love?

ML: Oh yes, I’m so excited to have Boomerang Love alive for others. Boomerang Love is a contemporary romance set in one of the most exotic places in the world. Australia. This link will take you to a blurb, excerpt and trailer.

TMD: What inspired you to write a book in the Land Down Under? Can you? Can you hear the thunder? Shut Jmo! I thought you promised no singing if I bought you that 80s Super Hits CD.

ML: LOL I recognize the music. Ever since watching "Crocodile Dundee” an Australian comedy set in the Australian Outback I’ve been fascinated by the country.

The actual concept inspiration for Boomerang Love sprang from the relationship of my youngest son’s favorite hero and his wife. Steve and Terri Irwin.

One day I listened as the couple shared their “love at first sight” tale. The couple married within a few short months of meeting one another.

Almost immediately my muse asked me…what if a heroine left, instead of staying? Would she return? Did she dare? What about the hero? Would he be able to work her out of his system? The plot to Boomerang Love fell into place as I drafted a short premise up.

TMD: As with a lot of writers, we just can’t get to all the places we’d love to write about. Though JMo has considered UPSing himself to a few. How do you prepare to write a book where the setting is someplace you’ve never been?

ML: Oh, I do as much research as I can. This always includes a stop at the library. I read. I watch specials on locations. Magazines. I watch movies. I make live contacts with people in the know. Do web searches. And so much more…

TMD: If you had to pick which movie set in Australia is your Favorite? We’re taking Quigley Down Under, so you can’t have it. Morgan O has dibs on Alan Rickman and Jmo has stalking privileges on Laura San Giacomo.

ML: What was the movie Tom Selleck starred in? I loved that movie.

TMD: You’ve written across genres a lot in your career. To you, which is the easiest for you to write? Or more fun to write?

ML: I wouldn’t say one genre is easier to write than another. Or one more fun to write over the other. My muse is always fluttering about. I genuinely enjoy writing all my genres.

TMD: Being the hard hitting investigative reporters we are, we took a peek around your website. Hope you don’t mind, but Morgan O is nosey. After seeing the page for Netherworld: Dark Sentinel, the Morgans must say we are quite excited by what we saw. It’s a bit early, but could you tell our readers a little about this fantastic looking title?

ML: Thank you! I’m glad you’re excited. I sure am! Netherworld is a parallel world about the after life. Netherworld is a very dark edgy series. Personally, I feel its urban fantasy. Demons. Hunters. Ghosts. But in each story I provide a new HEA so it’s considered dark paranormal.
I’m creating a series site to hopefully grow as the series does. The site goes live in early March before Dark Sentinel’s release.
Right now, you can visit the Dark Prince on MySpace at

TMD: When you first start writing, who comes into your head first, the hero or the heroine? And which do you find yourself growing closer to as the book develops?

ML: 95% of the time the hero appears first. And in general I tend to write heavy male POV.

TMD: As a writer, what is the hardest part of writing? The characters, the plot or that last push to bring it all together. Jmo believes it to be the wait for hearing back on a submission.

ML: All the waiting we have to do can be trying. We wait for everything. Edits. Covers. Reviews. To hear from readers on their opinions. And Jmo is right. Waiting on submissions can be especially difficult.

TMD: Time for our probing question of the interview. Don’t hide your eyes Ms. Lopez. You had to know it was coming. If you could eat chocolate covered strawberries and whip cream off any HAWT Australian male, who would it have to be? Remember Alan Rickman is already taken and Morgan O has a gat strapped to her inside leg if you get any funny ideas.

ML: Russell Crowe. *Blush* I have a thing for the bad boys.

TMD: Before you go, please let our readers know about all the fantastic things they have to look forward to from the mind of Melissa Lopez and her many split personalities? And where they can get up date news about you?

ML: Right now, I’ve got Riptide Love and True Blue Love lined up for my Thorns. And I’ve got four more stories plotted out for my Netherworld series. I’ve also got a big project with my agent that she’s shopping around.

My co-authorships are busy as well. Melany Logen is celebrating the release of Ingram’s Charm. She’s also got an up coming March release called Bold Bride. And under Marissa Alwin Heart on His Sleeve our 07 Valentine’s release will be released in print. The Candy Cravings anthology will be released this Valentine’s Day.

Please stop my website and check things out. I love visitors! Thanks again for having me!
Melissa Lopez
JOURNEYS OF LOVE every woman needs to take.