Thursday, January 31, 2013

Crazy Thing Called Love... Best for last?

I’m not going to say Crazy Thing Called Love is the best of the Crooked Creek Series, but it’s definitely one of the best three… I know I can’t help it. I love them all so much.
With this series coming to an end we all started to think about other things that have come to an end. Something things that made us happy and some things that made us sad. In honor of Molly who loves lists I’ll go with my top five happy endings and my top my five sad endings.


1.      Series finale of Mash. I was maybe only 10 but even I understood that this was a major thing. As a writer I can appreciate the impact of the war on Hawkeye, why he couldn’t say goodbye and why those rocks were his only way to communicate.

2.      The Epilogue of Harry Potter. I knew she had written it years prior as a way to get her to end of the story. It was completely cheesy but I appreciated having those pages tucked away somewhere for years getting her to the end of this story.

3.      Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins breaking up. In Hollywood nothing is given when it comes to marriage but I thought these guys were real deal forever. I think they were the  beginning of the end for me. So by the time I got to Rhea Perlman and Danny Devito I was immune.

4.      Mockingjay. This was sad for me because I just didn’t love how she ended this series. I felt like Katniss didn’t embrace what she was supposed to be become. Hunger Games will always be one of my favorite books. For me it ends there.

5.      Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series. I loved this series of brothers and sisters and have them all on my keeper shelf. But for some reason I just haven’t been able to move beyond them with other Quinn books. So I will always treasure this series.


1.      My favorite happy ending is always the one I write. If I’m not getting teary eyed as I type the words The End then there is a problem with the book.

2.      West Wing series finale. While I had issues with the show after Aaron Sorkin left and I think it took them way too long to get Josh and Donna together, in the end they did get Josh and Donna together and the show ended with them living together hopefully happily ever after.

3.      The Deathly Hallows. While the epilogue made me sad and nostalgic because I knew it was the end, I was really happy how she ended, but more importantly that she ended it. So many series, books television and movies would be better served with an actual ending. Rather than just going on and on until people eventually give up.

4.      Friends series finale. This show ended exactly when it should have. It was still on top but definitely winding down. With them I really felt as if a major part of my life had ended too. Their ending was all about transitioning to another part of their lives as adults. Which let’s face it, happens all the time.

5.      This one was easy… Crazy Thing Called Love. I loved finally getting to Billy’s story and he did not disappoint. My favorite thing about this series ending, is that I know Molly’s hard at work on the next one. And if the first book in that series is any indication it’s going to be another “wild” ride.

What about your favorite ending? Worst ending?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is Celebrity Love always Crazy?

I'm so excited that, Crazy Thing Called Love, the final book in Molly's fabulous Crooked Creek series is out!

This is such a great book, (even if Billy's face doesn't have a scar on the cover), and one of the many questions it poses to the reader is whether or not fame and love can mix.

It seems like there are so few celebrity couples who make it, and it's not hard to understand the extra stress that comes down on these pairs.

For Billy and Maddy, Molly's couple in CRAZY THING CALLED LOVE, they met and feel in love as kids and when he got his shot at the big time (via hockey) they got married (way too young) and she supported him and let his career take center stage.

But that meant she never got to grow up and be her own person and have the spotlight shine on her, at all...

So, after they split, it's not really that difficult to imagine how or why she ended up in show business. Question is... When they meet again many years later, and both are in the public eye... can they figure out a way to fix their very private relationship?

Love it. And of course, as is true in all of Molly's books, there are about a gazillion other things going on too. So great.

Who are your favorite celebrity couples? Who are you rooting for?

I vote for Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck.

So cute. And (touch wood) they seem so solid.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Brushes with Greatness

In honor of Molly's release of Crazy Thing Called Love, I'm going to blog about celebrities today. In particular, I'm going to blog about my own brushes with celebrities.

First of all, there's my cousin Justin Halpern. You know, the kid who started the Sh!t My Dad Says Twitter feed and went on to have more Twitter followers than Barack Obama and to have his book be on the New York Times Bestseller List for well over 16 weeks.

Now I've had plenty of brushes with Justin. He's my cousin, after all. I remember fondly when he was 3 and tried to pee down the handmade wooden flute my sister had given me as a birthday present. I also fondly remember playing a game of chase with him that ended with me putting my butt through a plate glass window. More recently, Justin and his wife stopped by and we all had dinner at my house. At the end of the evening, we were getting my mother back into her new minivan with the slick new wheelchair ramp. We didn't have much practice with it and damn near drove her off the side of the ramp. Have you seen the end of Waking Ned Devine? Seriously. It was nearly that bad. I turned, horrified, to Justin and whispered, "we're going to kill her." He put his arms around me, gave me a big hug and told me I was doing great and that my sisters and I were the best daughters he'd ever seen. It was just what I needed to hear at that moment.

My second favorite brush with greatness would be the time I accidentally hit Dave Eggers in the crotch. It was the first year I'd been invited to be part of Authors on the Move. Eggers was the Keynote speaker. Authors on the Move is truly Sacramento's premier literary event. It's a big fundraiser for the library and, to be honest, it is a crazy amount of fun. It was the end of the evening and I was walking to my car with another author and talking about what a great time I'd had and swung my arm back hard to illustrate some point and managed to basically punch Mr. Eggers right in the weiner. He was very gracious, but man, did he hightail it to his car after that!

I also nearly knocked Nora Roberts over in my haste to get to Eileen Dreyer and tell her how much I loved her books.

Okay. Those are my brushes with celebrities. What are yours?

Monday, January 28, 2013

WINNERS of the Happy Endings Blog Hop!

Thanks everyone who entered the contest and decided to follow us - we appreciate it! We've got some great stuff coming up including a BOOKS WE LOVE week over Valentine's Day, with interviews and giveaways with some of OUR favorite authors. Be such to check back in with us.

And our winners for the blog hop -

Winner of the Gift card to a book retailer of your choice! Jeannie Baker-Platt
Winners of a a whack of books Brandy Boone and Jennifer Spence Mill-Irving



Hello to all our new followers! The winners of the Happy ending Blog hop will be announced later today (once Maureen comes home from visiting family, she's the only one who speaks rafflecopter)!

On Tuesday Crazy Thing Called Love is released! The third and final book in my Crooked Creek series. A few months ago when Stephanie's fantastic One Final Step was released she said - It's the best thing she'd ever done. And I know the common refrain from authors is that they love their books like children and could never pick of favorite - and mostly that's true. But sometimes a book comes a long that kicks my butt.(I'm looking at you Wild Child). And sometimes a book comes along like a gift - Crazy Thing Called Love was a gift. Mostly, my hero Billy Wilkins, with all his torture and all his pain finally outmatched by his desire to be love and be loved, was a gift.

This is my favorite book.

I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.

I'm also running a very fun CRAZY LITTLE THINGS contest on my facebook page.

What about you, fellow authors? Are some books gifts and others problem children?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy Endings Blog Hop

Cue Beavis and Butthead laughter...

Happy endings romance giveaway hop


So the idea is to share a happy ending in your life. But I don't feel like I've had all that many "endings". Do you? I feel like I'm still in the middle of so much and really, it's just too soon to tell. The two best happy endings I can think of are my pregnancies. Two healthy children, the beauty of epidurals. Win/win. With my son my water broke at a book signing. That was spectacular. And at the hospital, they gave me an epidural and I was so relaxed I watched some of the winter Olympics - Brody Miller, to be exact. And then when it came time to push it was over and done in 45 minutes. I felt like a rock star. Lucy's birth was a bit more nerve-wracking, mostly because we'd been told she was going to be over ten pounds and I didn't want to feel any part of that. But the epidural wasn't working, so they kept pushing more pain meds. (I would pass out between contractions and then when the pain started I would wake up like a Bear coming out of hibernation, YELLING at everyone and then the pain would subside and I would apologize and pass out). But then Lucy's heart rate slowed down and the doctor had to give me a stern talking to about pushing. It was all very surreal but in the end, I had a beautiful, not nearly ten pound baby girl. So those are my two happy endings.!

The Happy Endings Giveaway Hop was organized by Reading Romances!

So this is what you win, if you share your happy ending in the comments - a whack of Drunk Writer Talk Books and A 15 dollar gift card to the online book retailer of your choice. And lots of other options to enter! 
One winner of the gift card and two winners of the whack of books:
Open to US and Canada:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 18, 2013

Finding a way into a story

I watched Dredd recently. (I do love schlocky thrillers) and it was way better than I expected and a pretty simple story.

Anyone who remembers that terrible Judge Dredd movie with Sylvester Stallone knows how badly the violent comic can be mismanaged into something so terribly, terribly wrong.

But Dredd is a relatively small movie, which got half decent reviews, all of which mentioned the over the top violence (so please don't watch if you're squeamish)

What I liked about it was it over performed to my expectations, the story was simple, but straightforward and the performances were half decent. And they made smart story telling decisions. For those of you that are not familiar with Judge Dredd, he's one of a small group of police/judges in a futuristic America, sort of a sheriff, with the authority to both determine and undertake sentencing of lawbreakers on the spot.

So the movie introduces a new world, and a new system of policing and they do this, by using the rookie judge  to explain it all, without really having the so you know Bob conversation. And it allows the movie to keep the Judge Dredd character mysterious, so much so we never see him without his helmet on, so we never see his full face. It's a clever move, because it keeps the aura of unpredictability to his character, but also can make him larger than life, because we see him through another's eyes.

so we have the rookie who is the the hero and struggling through an impossible situation and we have Dredd who is also heroic, but in a different way. One character is rooted very much in her vulnerability and one who appears invulnerable. And then the story gets to play with twisting that around. Seriously clever.

And the villain is a woman really well played by Lena Headly, so all in all a really good, gorey thriller.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Big Finish

See now as a romance writer, that title could totally have different meanings. Unfortunately, the one in which I’m referring to isn’t going to be that much fun. This weekend I’ve dedicated myself to the task of finishing my book. We’re talking three days – I had to take a day off -  three chapters PLUS putting the damn thing altogether to see if makes sense.
I’m dreading it. Because I know my back is going to hurt for sitting and typing so long. My brain is going to hurt when I re-read the thing back to me and I curse at how stupid I was in Chapter Four and how I didn’t even know what I was doing in Chapter Nine.
Of course I’m looking forward to it too. Because I will know the satisfaction of typing The End on another completed book. Because I will no longer have that feeling of dread that I should probably be writing instead of reading a book I was looking forward to.
This isn’t my first rodeo… (I’ve been using that expression a lot and I’ve never even been to a rodeo so that’s kind of weird.) and the truth is I really really hope it won’t be my last.
Because as much as I’m dreading this weekend and as hard as this book has been, there is another one to write. I can see it out there on the horizon and it calls to me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Stories Based on Truth

Eileen's post yesterday got me thinking about a few "based on a true story" movies I've seen recently.

In the last couple of weeks, I have seen Lincoln, The Impossible and Hyde Park on Hudson, all based on true stories. And I'm dying to see Zero Dark Thirty, regardless of the waterboarding. (Even if it worked, and I'm not saying that I necessarily believe that it did. That doesn't make it right in my eyes... But that's not what this post is about.)

Lincoln was great. Daniel Day Lewis. Wow. I've never met Lincoln (I know, weird, right?) but I truly believed that Day Lewis was him. Who knows if the accent was right, but it was consistent and constant and not affected or false, and it made me see Lincoln and not DDL or any other character he's played. Who knows if Lincoln loved and doted on his youngest son that much, but the father son bond and the absolute love he had for his son was palpable and believable... Who knows exactly what he said to his wife when they were alone, but I found their relationship touching too. And the one with his older son...  (And not to go all Anne Hathaway, but you've got to admire Sally Field for fighting so hard to get this part, even though she's much older than DDL and movies always tend to cast younger women with older men, not the other way around... Sally Field continues to fight and break barriers in Hollywood.)

A very interesting film. And I'd like to think that all the details about the politics and the compromises and who Tommy Lee Jones was sleeping with were accurate. But I don't know. And I'm not compelled to start researching to find out. I believed this movie. And learned a lot.

Then The Impossible. Wow. This is a really great film, if hard to watch in places. Naomi Watts does pain really well. And she suffers through a lot of pain... But this movie was a really amazing way to humanize and personalize what was the greatest natural disaster of our times. We all saw the photos of what happened in Thailand, but it was so far away and this film made it all so real and close to home...

In a few places near the end, I almost let my inner skeptic come out. I started thinking, how could they possibly know that this happened? How could they know he walked past there right then? But then at the climax of the story a few minutes later, I realized it just didn't matter how accurate some of these tiny details were. They were dramatic and heart breaking and created so much emotion and suspense and tension in a story that otherwise might lack tension... The audience goes into the movie knowing (or at least being 99% sure) about how it's going to end. But like Apollo 13 and other movies where you know the ending before it starts, the filmmakers and screenwriters used these details to create a lot of suspense.

But is it based on facts?  Well, they show a photo of the real family at the end. Who are Spanish. I think? Definitely not British. But I forgive the filmmakers because, um, Ewan McGreggor. I forgive any change to the facts that lets him be cast in a film. And really, this family is standing in for every family, every tourist who was in Thailand when the tsunami struck.

Hyde Park on Hudson. I also enjoyed this movie, but not quite so much as the others. I'd heard very mixed things about it and, well, it is a tad dull. Maybe because it came out so soon after The King's Speech, and because of Bill Murray and the trailers... we expect the movie to be mostly about Roosevelt and the King. And mostly a political film about how the US initially avoided, then eventually joined WWII.

But it's not really about that or about them. It's about Daisy, played by Laura Linney. And she's portrayed as a fairly dull and naive spinster. And I think because her character is dull, the film is dull. The hardest thing to believe for me was why FDR was attracted to her. I suspect that for him, it was less about her or sexual attraction, and more about his assuming she'd keep quiet, because she was his cousin and wouldn't hurt him or reveal any of his secrets, even if it all went bad...

There are a few scenes in the film which aren't in Daisy's POV. But the overall story is hers. In a nutshell, it's a coming of age story, but about a 30-something woman. (And not a docu-drama about the King's pre WWII visit to the USA, as the trailers would have you believe.)
And I call it a coming of age story, because Daisy has a very "teenager" character arc. (Powerful older man (quarterback) pays you some attention. But he has a wife (girlfriend). But he has what seems to be an open and not sexual relationship with his wife (we're just together because she's head cheerleader and it would look bad if we broke up) and you're so flattered and having sex for the first time in your life and he makes you feel important when you never thought you'd ever be important. You express your opinions. You meet interesting people. The King and Queen of England! (the football team and cheerleaders). Then you find out he's cheating on you as well as with you. You find out you're not so special. And... more would be spoilerish. Suffice it to say that the ending was kind of deflating and where it breaks off from where you'd expect a coming of age story might go. I guess I could/should admire them for not making it a more hollywood ending...

If it were a high school YA, coming of age, she would have realized her own self-worth, moved away and had a life. But it was another time.

No one knew Daisy's story or had proof of her relationship with FDR until she died in her late nineties and her journals and letters were discovered under her bed.

Hmm.. On second thought, maybe that is a bit of a high school ending.

So, is it factual? At best, the only truth it can possibly show is the "truth" that Daisy wrote in her letters and her impressions of events would be biased. But it was interesting and the performances were good. I especially enjoyed Bill Murray and Olivia Wilde as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. I also liked the portrayal of King George VI, even though he was different than Colin Firth's version. I did, however, not like the Queen Elizabeth shown in this film. Who knows what she was really like, but I grew up loving the Queen Mother and much prefer the supportive and funny version of her that Helena Bonham Carter played in The King's Speech to the uptight and shrill version in this film.

Has anyone else seen any of these?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Downton Abbey vs. Hysteria: How important is accuracy to you?

I've fallen crazy in love with Downton Abbey. Love it. Love it. Love it. It has totally broken down the walls I had keeping me away from period pieces. I adore the costumes and the set and the actors and the dialogue (oh! the dialogue!). I also adore that sometimes as I"m watching I google things like the Battle of Somme or the Battle of Amiens or Spanish flu and it turns out that what they're showing is pretty darn representative.

My walls were so lowered by the fabulousness of Downton Abbey that I decided to watch Hysteria. It was really funny and a tiny bit salacious and I'm hoping that I, at some point, remember to yell out "tallyho!" at an opportune moment. When I looked it up to see how accurate it was, however, I was sorely disappointed. Bits and pieces of it are accurate. Granville invented the vibrator, but not for the purpose that we all think of it being for. "Vulvar massage" was a treatment for hysteria. I don't think Granville ever did it or worked with a Dr. Dalrymple who probably didn't even have two daughters.

The movie was still funny and kind of cute, but it's ruined for me now because it's all made up. Downton Abbey is all made up, but I still love it. I know the difference is that one purports to show actual events and that the other is a story set in another time. My sister, on the other hand, couldn't have cared less about the lack of historical (or hysterical) accuracy in the Hysteria movie. It made her laugh. The story was cute and it didn't bother her one bit that it wasn't the ACTUAL story.

So how about you? How accurate do your need those historical stories to be? Is it enough that the clothing and the speech is right? Or do you need all of it to be correct?

Golden Globes - Girl's Night OUT!

Or maybe I should take a line from Adele and say Mom's night out - because there were a lot of mom's (including Adele, who managed to upset that crappy song from Les Mis in a well-deserved win)taking home some serious hardware last night.

Jodi Foster looked amazing. And about half of her speech was amazing, the other half felt like I was listening in on a conversation already underway and I wasn't entirely sure what was going on. Was she coming out? Was she not coming out because she wanted her privacy? Was her soul-sister ex, there and this was some kind of farewell tour? Has she retired? I haven't loved all of Foster's choices, but she's undoubtedly a brave trailblazer. And her message to her her mom had me in tears.

Man, I want to love Anne Hathaway. I do. I want to hug her and stroke her cap of shiny hair and share a loaf of bread with her in the shade. And for half the night I loved her - that speech to Sally Field about type casting - YES! WOW! Smart and endearing and just plain COOL. Go Anne! And then stepping up to the mic for the Les Mis win to thank her manager? GAH! Forget it Anne, I'm keeping my loaf of bread and hair stroking for someone who will appreciate it - like Lena Dunham.

I have to say that watching Lena Dunham awkwardly walk to the stage in her high heels and fancy dress made me love her all the more. The way her hands shook and her voice cracked and she was just barely keeping her shit together...I loved it. I loved it for the very same reason I love her show - it's real and honest with all of the awkwardness that comes with something so unpolished.

And Tina and Amy - amazing. Were they the best hosts, ever? I don't know. But they were better than Gervais. Tina and Amy managed to be funny and smart and silly. They took shots at themselves, a couple at the audience, but it wasn't that caustic humor that we had for three years from Gervais. And for my money Amy's red dress - my favorite dress of the night. She's got great boobs.

The Golden Globes is losing it's joy for me. I liked it when the drunk winners got up there and said something shocking or sentimental. I liked it when people cried and made me cry. Now, every one is thinking their team. Who cares? I don't. Thank your mom, your grandmother, out your teacher. Talk about art and feeling like an outsider. (like Lena Dunham did. I should say I feel like this is a very realistic girl crush, I've got a chance.)

The Golden Globes needs a little more heart to go with last night's Girl Power. So? What did you think?

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Adult

It's a term I've heard a lot over the past six months and to be honest, didn't really understand what it is until recently and I'm still not entirely sure I fully get it. (Reading one would help, but I would love a recommendation before I step into new adult)

New Adult bridges the gap between YA and Adult, where the protagonist is in her early twenties, and experiencing her first serious, mature love, and heartbreak. It's YA contemporary taken out of high school and into college, or experiences such as a summer trip through Europe.

A lot of the ones I've seen have been self-published, but they seem to be doing really well. At first I didn't understand, it's basically romance. The average age of the historical romance heroine is probably close to the same age, but contemporary romance has an older heroine, most are in their late twenties and early thirties, and at a completely different life stage.

And these readers must be hungry to read about heroines their own age, or a little older, stepping into an experience that is on the horizon for the reader.

Part of my reluctance to start reading New Adult is my love of YA is in the big, adventurous stories, Hunger Games, Divergence, Scorpio Races, where the stakes are huge and stories are fast paced and exciting and New Adult seems to be on the other scale, where the stories are intimate and the stakes are internal.

So any recommendations out there? Anyone else eager to start reading New Adult, or do we think it's a brief trend, sort of like the younger sister to Chick Lit?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What's old is new again - the Alpha-Ahole

Molly and I were recently having a conversion about some trends we’re seeing in romance recently. Certainly we’re seeing explosions in self-publishing success where authors are now receiving big time traditional publishing contracts, hitting lists etc.
I’ve read a number of these breakout authors and while I still have my issues with content and copy editing, I do get why these books are attracting readers.

Now it took me a while, I will admit. I was so focused on what I considered to be flaws that I forgot what can be inherently compelling to readers. Especially women reading romance for that fantasy/escape element.

The absolute, dominant, no messing with, very large, very handsome, well hung (let’s face it, it’s true) Alpha-Ahole. Now, he’s been featured pretty dominantly in paranormal. There I think we gave him a pass because he was literally a monster. Or a vampire, werewolf, dragon etc.
But now he’s made his way into straight contemporary. Who is this man? This man will make you sign a contract saying he can do anything he wants to you in bed. This man will have conversations with you by lifting your skirt to your hips, carrying you to a desk and laying you flat on it while he explains that it’s his world and you are just living in it.

This man is an absolute dick to the heroine for basically ninety percent of the story until he figures out she is his one true love. This man is good in bed, if a little crude. He usually likes to talk dirty. This man has no softness, unless it’s for animals or children (certainly not the heroine). Yet, this man is protective to the ultimate extreme. Don’t come home ten minutes late unless you want to get yelled at for making him worry. Don’t drive a car that gets a flat tire, (or do) because he’s probably going to buy you a new really expensive car (because most likely he’s a billionaire too) with run flat tires.
Now you may be thinking I’m only talking about recent books featuring the Alpha-Ahole, but that’s when I figured it out. When I started looking at the qualities of the men in these books, and let’s face these books are all about the men, I remembered so many things from my past.

I knew this guy. Elizabeth Lowell perfected him in her late 80’s Silhouette Desire books. Linda Howard made a career for herself featuring this guy. Diana Palmer’s ranchers and businessmen – could those guys be any meaner to those twenty year old virgins they were always abusing?

I knew this Alpha-Ahole and I loved him. The meaner the better. Hello Judith McNaught, Double Standards anyone? Linda Howard’s Sarah’s Child? I mean these guys were A-HOLES. But I still remember them.

But then right about that same time something happened. This other author – you might know her – her name is Nora Roberts – she was also writing books at that time. And her men were strong, and smart, but they also tended to be funny and fairly laid back. And she featured women. Strong women, smart women, broken women. Woman who didn’t take “stuff” from anyone. Women who could kick butt. Women who had careers. Women who could solve crimes. I fell in love with those books too.
So I guess there is no real moral to this story. Other than as I saw all these major deals I started to worry where I (and my heroines) would fit in. Could romance only support the Alpha-Ahole and the placeholder heroine leaving the meatier – I don’t mean fat here -  heroines by the wayside? The answer: no. There always has been and there always will be a place for both.

But I do wonder if there isn’t some sort of deep psychological twist happening here. That as women statistically are becoming more independent, wealthier, staying single longer, not marrying again after divore, etc. that our Alpha’s need to be even MORE Alpha. Not just hot, but the hottest. Not just rich, but the richest. Not just dominating, but completely and utterly controlling.
In real life most women I know wouldn’t walk but would RUN from this man. But romance isn’t real life and there is no shame in liking what you like. We just have to hope that all this testosterone is sometimes countered with books about incredible women. Because I want to read her story too.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Winner of Back to The Good Fortune Diner

Rashada and Sarah! You're it. I'll be contacting you shortly!!

Monday, January 07, 2013

Interview With Vicki Essex - Author of Back To The Good Fortune Diner and Smart Bitch Sarah's January Book Club Selection

Oh man - talk about great timing! Not only do we have a fantastic interview with Vicki Essex whose Jan book Back to the Good Fortune Diner is Smart Bitch Sarah's January Book Club selection - but she is giving away three copies - digital or print to one lucky commenter. The winners will be selected on Wednesday - just include your email address on your comment.

How have you adjusted to the longer Superromance word count? was it a tough learning process? Or are you better with a longer word count?

At first, I was worried. An extra 20,000 words was a lot of writing. But then I discovered the magic of secondary plots. In the case of Back to the Good Fortune Diner, I got to approach the conflicts my main characters, Tiffany and Chris, faced from a different angle through Tiffany’s brother, Daniel. I actually enjoy secondary plots for that reason. You can explore different aspects of a theme through other characters’ perspectives. Or you can further complicate the main plot with more involved external pressures. It was challenging and a little scary to have to write 25% more, but that’s probably just because there’s so much more you can say in that space.

You have a bi-racial couple in this book! Was that something you've wanted to include in your romances? Did your editor embrace it?

I was set on writing a character of Chinese descent when I started writing. Being Chinese Canadian myself, it was hard to find romances featuring characters with my background. I was hesitant at first—I wasn’t sure it would sell. The simple fact is, you don’t see a lot of diversity in romances. But the more I explored Tiffany’s characterization, the more I realized there was nothing about her experiences that wasn’t like anyone else’s. Many of us grow up with parental disapproval, a sense of not belonging. The thing that made this story “the same, but different” was that Tiffany had the additional challenge of growing up as a minority in a small town in America, and that’s something she has to come to grips with.

After we worked on it together, my editor fully embraced my story. The important thing to understand about a good romance—and particularly, Harlequin Superromance books—is that root of the romantic conflict has to be embedded in the characterization. Back to the Good Fortune Diner does delve into the challenges of interracial relationships, but the main conflict deals with Tiffany’s absolute belief that moving back to the city is vital to her success, while Chris’s life is on the farm. The romantic conflict is tied to who the hero and heroine are, rather than what they are. This was important in building the story because interracial relationships aren’t as taboo as they were twenty or thirty years ago. Race does still play a factor, of course, and it was important that I touched on that, as well.

How much have you learned between your first book and your second book?

Craft wise, I learned a lot. Victoria Curran, who was my editor for my first book, Her Son’s Hero, taught me a lot about simplifying, resisting the urge to explain, showing and not telling. Megan Long, my editor for Back to the Good Fortune Diner, really helped me grasp the idea that story happens when choices lead to unexpected consequences.

What's next?

I’m working on another book featuring mixed martial arts, based in the same world as Her Son’s Hero. It stars Kyle Peters, a wrestling and MMA coach, training a female MMA fighter bent on going pro against the wishes of her family. I’m hoping to go back to Everville at some point, as well—there are a lot of stories to tell in a growing, evolving community.

Vicki’s giving away three copies of her latest book, Back to the Good Fortune Diner. Leave a comment below and she’ll randomly draw a winner of a hard copy or ebook version of her book.

Vicki Essex is an author for Harlequin Superromance. Back to the Good Fortune Diner is her second book. For more information, visit You can also find her on Facebook at and on Twitter @vickiessex.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Even more resolutions

I'm always conflicted on resolutions. I start them so gung ho in January and by March, I'm back to my old habits.

But I guess putting them in print helps to ensure I actually follow through, so here goes

1) Read more in various genres. I want to read more great books, all great books. I got caught up in a YA warp this past year and need to break from that and find women's fiction, and mysteries and urban fantasy.

2) More focused - I get distracted so easily. A shiny light, a loud noise, and my head is elsewhere and I don't finish my goals for the day. This year, I will be focused and finish the projects I start.

3) Exercise and eat well - It is a new years resolution after all... and I know personally exercising helps me clear stress and helps me focus and makes me feel better at the end of the day.

4) Regain the joy and excitement - I remember at a time, when reading a great book made me so excited to talk about it, and understand what makes it great, and incorporate that into my own work. I got a little jaded this past year and I'd like to reverse that and find the joy again.

That's it.  I'm trying not to create resolutions I won't keep and stuff like drink less, or cut sugar from my diet, are probably not going to happen.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Resolutions/2013 List Continued...

Since Maureen started hers yesterday I figured I would follow up with mine. I like doing resolutions or just in general Things To Do List for 2013. I didn’t do a list in 2012 and now I can’t go back and check off all the things I did do. Which believe it or not has given me a lot of satisfaction in the past even if I only check 5 of the 10 things I wanted to accomplish. I never feel guilty about the things I didn't do, just happy with the the things I did.

To Do For 2013

1.      Finish current book (which is 6 weeks late) FAST.

2.      Finish my next contracted book (which the first 3 chapters are now officially 3 days late) FASTER.

3.      Start my 1920, never going to sell historical mystery romance – because truly I’m a glutton for punishment.

4.      Do what Molly says… this is pretty much for everything in general – but in particular sign up for Writer’s Space.

5.      Attend a Writers Retreat (say when and where guys!)

6.      Lose Weight – I know so boring – but so necessary this year in particular. My digital scale is an unforgiving bitch, but I trust her.

7.      Drink Less, Write more. My thought process is that if I’m not having wine at night, I’ll be more likely to get up early to write in the morning. (See Fast and Faster above) Day 1 so far was a failure. But I’m hopeful.

8.      Buy a new house… I know crazy. Like you have this nice little list going with all the usual things and then BAM! I throw this on. I just feel like I’m ready for something new. Some new space. Some new change. Something that will throw my life into upheaval  - why I have this need I have no idea, but it’s there. We’ll see.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2013 -- The Year of Awesome

I don't remember when I've started out a calendar year so full of hope. And I'm not sure why.

I'm under a lot of personal stress right now. Things actually aren't going all that well in most areas of my life. Plus, I came down with a horrible New Year's cold that has me knocked off my feet at a time when I have A LOT TO DO.

But... I feel hopeful. I feel like the 365 days (okay 363 1/2 days) stretched ahead of me are full of opportunities and possibilities. For me and for my friends.

I stopped making resolutions years ago, but I think this year I'm going to try.

Here I go:

1. Eat better (For me, a lot of this is eat out less often, which will also help with the financial woes).

2. Stretch every day (Yes, I want to exercise more in general, but I'm such a tight ball of pain and stress right now and I know that, as painful and uncomfortable as stretching is in my current condition, I always feel better after I do it.)

3. Stay on the sunny side. (This one will be hard for me. As positive as I feel today, I know myself. I get blue. But I have a few ideas and strategies in mind to keep the brightness alight.)

4. Don't second guess as much. (Okay, now I'm starting to sound as if my plan for 2013 is to entirely change my personality. LOL. But I think what I mean is, especially in terms of my writing, that I just want to go for it, again. Like I did in the early days when I believed all of my ideas were awesome and marketable and worth reading. Having been hit on the head by the sledge hammer that is publishing, a few too many times, I've started to assume my ideas suck, or are derivative or boring, before I even start them--and that seriously saps all the fun out of writing.)

5. Write more proposals. (This is related to the one above. Back in the day, I could write, say 35-50 pages of something new in a week, maybe two. They'd be a mess, but they'd be done. And sometimes it's hard to get the feel of a story or a character or figure out whether an idea has legs by brainstorming ideas with friends or writing notes and outlines. Sometimes you just need to start. And it's not a failure if it's something I never finish. I think that's the key. I have a fairly lengthy list of ideas. I want to turn several those "ideas" and combinations and permutations of those ideas, into 50 page starts and use those beginnings to figure out which ones might be worth finishing. And not put this HUGE PRESSURE on which idea to tackle first. It's just 35-50 pages, for frack's sake!)

I do feel hopeful about this year. I think, one way or another, 2013 is going to be a year of change for me.

Change is scary. But at least I feel sure that a year from now my world won't look the same to me as it looks right now.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!!

Wishing you the very best for 2013. May we all have health, happiness and prosperity. To begin the new year with a smile, I give you a picture of my critique partner as he edits my latest manuscript:

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