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5 Things with Katharine Ashe

Katharine Ashe is the award winning author of adventurous, bestselling Regency romances from Avon! But her newest novella, in the anthology At the Billionaire’s Wedding, is a romp in contemporary romance. Here, she shares with us five things you probably didn’t know about her.

1) Did you have a nickname growing up? “Katie, Katie, the Paper Cup Lady”. One day in 1st grade I was innocently sitting cross-legged on my fuzzy blue Cookie Monster mat at snack time, when my teacher asked me to pass out the paper cups for juice. Someone called me that name, and it stuck, swiftly morphing into “Katie, Katie, the Big Fat Lady”, and so on. I’m proud to say that (after decades of therapy) I have finally gotten over this trauma. But if I could remember which nasty kid made up the name, I’d hunt him down and…

2) Do you celebrate when you finish a book and what you do? I drink champagne and dance in my living room to really loud music.ATBW

3) Where do you go for inspiration when the creativity well is running a little dry? The romantic core of my creative imagination never runs dry; there are always couples in my imagination eager for me to tell their love stories. But when I’m pondering plot ideas, I go to history books. History is so rich and complex and astonishingly unreal. I’ve found my best — and often my most outrageous — plots in the pages of history books.

4) What is the very first romance novel that you read? Once More, Miranda by Jennifer Wilde (who was a man). Full of action and delicious sensuality, with a strong heroine and excellent hero, I fell in love with it. I remember little of it now, but thirty years ago it changed my life.

5) What are your top three favorite movies? Moonstruck, The Cutting Edge, and The Hunt for Red October. Romance, comedy, strong heroines, alpha heroes, fabulous acting, perfect settings, action, conflict, noble deeds, and heart-swelling happily ever afters. And, of course, they’re infinitely quotable.

Ronnie: “I’m a wolf? You run to the wolf in me, that don’t make you no lamb.”

Kate: “Toe pick!”

Ramius: “‘And the sea will grant each man new hope, as sleep doth dream of home.” Christopher Columbus.”

Ryan: “Welcome to the New World, sir.”
[cue the swelling Russian choir music]

Thanks for having me visit, Elizabeth!!

You can find Katharine on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

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Have You Met: Avon Addict Veronica Arellano

Welcome, Avon Addict Veronica Arellano. If you don’t know Veronica, the questions she answered below for us should get you started…

1) Where is the most beautiful/romantic place you’ve ever been?avonaddict Hands-down: Buzios, Brazil. It’s a tiny resort town made famous by Brigitte Bardot vacationing there in the 1960s. There’s even a saucy statue of her on the town’s main drag! The beaches are beautiful, the food is amazing, the music is lovely and I swear the sunsets are the most spectacular thing I’ve ever seen. As soon as my vacation was over, I was homesick for Buzious. I just felt at home and at peace there, which made it the most romantic place on earth.

GoodDebGuideToRuin2) Favorite name for a hero or heroine. DECLAN. I can’t get enough of that name. Sophie Jordan uses it for her hero in A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin, and it is so sexy.

3) What new to you authors are you crazy about? I have a total reader’s crush on Theresa Romain and Carolyn Jewel. They’re so different–Jewel’s writing is angsty and dark and Romain’s novels are fantastically witty and smart–but they both know how to write these great off-kilter heroes that I find really appealing.

4) What is the most embarrassing song/app on your ipod? The song has to be Gato Astronauta by !Fantastico! (That’s right, there are double Spanish language exclamation points in the band name). It’s about a cat astronaut who travels to outer space. In my defense, it’s a track off of a Spanish-language kid’s CD I picked up for my son!

5) Name three books on your keeper shelf and why.TessaDare

  • Romance: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
    It’s a total feel-good romance. No angst. No drama. Just two people falling in love on the road. I read it whenever I need a pick-me-up.
  • Fantasy: The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    The Mists of Avalon is a great feminist re-telling of the classic Arthurian legend. It’s a welcome respite from the off-handed misogyny that you often find in fantasy and sci-fi.
  • Epic: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    I am a huge sucker for epic family sagas, and this is one with a twist! The protagonist is an inter-sexed individual named Calliope/Cal, and through Cal’s amazing voice you’ll travel from Greece to Detroit to San Francisco.

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TBT: Brazen Angel

I don’t know how many people told me NOT to write Brazen Angel. An editor at a conference. More than one agent. Critic partners. Contest judges. Every single one of them said that any story set around the French Revolution wasn’t romantic, would never sell. One of my critique partners joked that it was the tale of springtime in Paris with Robespierre. Yeah, very funny.Robespierre

I wrote it anyway. And look what happened. It won the Dell Diamond Debut–which came with a publishing contract. It was nominated for two RITAs, Best First Book and Best Long Historical. It won for Best First Book. Brazen Angel, the book I wouldn’t have written if I had listened to everyone else, ending up being the story that launched my career. The one everyone told me not to waste my time on.

This is why you, if you believe in a story with all your heart, and you know it is THE story you have to tell, then you must tell it. Write it from the heart and tell it. I wrote this book on fire–the story would not leave me alone. I Had. To. Tell. It. And it was mine to tell. Brazen Angel

So is your story.

Now, 18 years later, I still write–every day because I can’t not write. And always, I stick to crafting the stories that intrigue me, the characters who won’t leave me alone, the plot that leaves me breathless.

Haven’t read my first book? You’ll find an excerpt from Brazen Angel here, or order your copy here.

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5 Things About Cynthia Sax

Cynthia Sax writes contemporary erotic romance for Avon Impulse, and came to the blog to share a few things about herself and her writing. Here are 5 things you might not know about Cynthia…Sinful Rewards 1

1) Where is the most beautiful/romantic place you’ve ever been? My favorite tropical paradise is Bali (the combination of beaches, art and the spiritual is wonderful). My favorite city is Istanbul (a combination of so many different cultures). The city I’d most like to live in is Chicago (the setting of Sinful Rewards).

2) How do you pick the names of your Heroes/Heroines? In Sinful Rewards, the heroine, Bee/Belinda is torn between Nicolas, a billionaire with a dark past and Hawke, a tattooed bad boy biker. As the men see two different sides of our heroine, I wanted them to call her by two different names. The man we believe is more casual calls her by the very formal Belinda. The man we believe is more formal calls her Bee. Yes, everyone in Sinful Rewards has secrets. (grins) Bee is also appropriate because she believes she’s always second best, the B choice.

3) Since romance authors always write about falling in love, when and how did you discover you were in love? I fell in love with my dear wonderful hubby at first sight. Yes, I didn’t believe in it either. I didn’t really believe in romantic love at all. I thought some people were lucky to feel passion for their friends. Then the hubby walked into a room and bam, both of us fell in love. I told a friend that very day that he was the man I’d marry. We’re from different races, different religions. He’s younger than I am. 20 plus years later, however, we remain very much in love.

4) Who are your must-buy authors? I love Shelly Bell, N.J. Walters, Laurann Dohner, Eve Langlais, Opal Carew, Naima Simone, all erotic romance. I LOVE the hot reads.

5) Print or ebook? eBook, definitely. I read, on average, one erotic romance a day (I speed read). Print would be a nightmare. I love being able to take thousands of books on vacation with me, being able to adjust the font size, being able to delete the stories I didn’t like.

You can find Cynthia at her website, on Facebook, her blog, Twitter, or sign up for her Release Day Newsletter here!

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8 Ways to Maximize Your Writing Time

If you are like me, your writing time is both precious and never long enough. So here are some of my methods to make sure you are getting the most pages out of your limited time.

1) Stop reading email, Tweets, Facebook, Instagram, et al. Okay, maybe that’s a little drastic, but how about printing out this little rule and stick it on your computer screen: Writing first, all the rest second. To make is easier, turn off all your alerts and anything that might nudge you to go take a peek. Stay on target.

2) Do as much pre-writing as possible. Take notes while you eat breakfast and lunch. Sketch out dialogue bits, scene ideas, setting descriptions. When you sit down to write, type these notes into your manuscript and they are usually enough to catapult you right into your story without too much hemming and hawing.stop-writing

3) Write from a well-thought out outline or synopsis. A roadmap of your story will get you from A to Z in the quickest route. You wouldn’t drive from Seattle to Dallas without good directions, so why write a novel without one?

4) Use a timer. When I get really behind or am on deadline, I use a kitchen timer. I set it for anywhere between five and twenty minutes and tell myself that I have that much time to write X amount of pages. That little ticking bomb really gets my fingers flying.

5) Turn off the internal editor. When I write my first draft, my only goal is to get the story down. If there are missing transitions, holes in the dialogue or in a scene, or a word, sentence or paragraph that just doesn’t sound quite right, all of that can be fixed when I do my revisions. Remember: Revising a manuscript is an entirely different process than writing the first draft.

6) Set a specific time each day and amount of time to write. Make this time sacred. You’ll find that as your daily writing time approaches, your imagination, thoughts and focus start moving toward your story automatically.

7) If you find yourself stuck and unable to think of anything, just write the dialogue for the scene. Or describe the scene. Anything related to that part of the book to keep your fingers moving. If you are really and truly stuck, go back to your synopsis and move to the next scene.

8 ) Give yourself a writing night out once a week. I get out of the house, away from the husband and kids, and go to Starbucks, where I review notes and plan my writing for the next week. Sometimes I use the time to review the pages I’ve written recently or just brainstorm. The change in scenery and the lack of interruptions give you some great time to concentrate and come away revitalized and refueled (literally) to get to work.

Good luck and remember: Keep Writing.

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