Monday, December 28, 2009

Whats your goal?

We here in the midwest are still digging out of a record-breaking blizzard much like what pounded the east coast last week, so beautiful coming down, but I felt so much better when my oldest son and his girlfriend made it home safely. We shipped out the 4-wheel drive and packed up the grannies with their jammies and had them stay with us for two days and while the blizzard raged around us, we were cozy and content inside. The power went out a couple of times , so was prepared on Saturday night as we'd just started a delayed holiday dinner and the lights went out. Christmas dinner by lantern light is admittedly kind of fun;)

Best Gift: Having everyone home safe & sound. The sound of laughter among them all.

Worst gift: there wasn't a single one!

We played games and of course the Xbox got a work  out among the male teens in the house;) But a great trivia game that my daughter gave her brother was great fun. Called "Smart Ass" it is found a B &N and "game" type stores. "Catch Phrase" and a game where you continue in a circle to roll doubles in dice and vy for a chance to open a present with oven mitts on was a hoot! Whoever gets it open, wins the gift-no teeth allowed!

I can hear snowblowers in the neighborhood this morning and the sun is shining brilliantly outside. Those voices that got squelched for a few days in the din of my family's laughter are beckoning to me to come back and tell their stories. Rome, London and a medieval castle all await my return.

It's been a year of blessings both professionally and personally , and I look forward to the year ahead with its promise of potential and possibility. I'm setting my goals and aside from the usual--pay attention to my health, go more green, be more thankful, be more gracious--I am setting other, more practical goals as well.

Do you follow the tradition of  goal-setting for the New Year?  If so, what types of goals have you thought of for yourself?

One of mine is to simplify my life --disburse and organize and experience some things that I've not tried before.

How about you?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

All I want for Christmas...

is to say thank you to all the cards and email well wishes for a happy holiday. Your kindness, joy for reading and support is such a blessing and one of the best gifts that keeps on giving all year long.;)

I hope to offer you even more fun and innovatove stories in the new year with Private Party (April 2010) The Master & the Muses (June 2010) and Torins' story--Forbidden Pleasures (September 2010).

To each of you, my wish for a healthy, happy holiday filled with all the peace and contentment each of you deserves.

May there be a little magic, a little wonder, and an awakening of your inner passion!

You are true gifts!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Jo Carol Jones, RTBOOKreviews Convention director

She's been called the "Texas elf," the "head buwannah", the "queen"--but whatever title you want to give this woman, she is a powerhouse of ideas, wisdom and energy. Jo Carol Jones knows the publishing industry and she knows how to throw a major convention--evidenced by the continued success of the RT BOOKreviews booklovers conventions! 

Coming up April 28-May2, 2010 in Columbus , Ohio is the 27th annual Booklovers extravaganza!  Starting out as the only convention of its kind on the northern continent-perhaps the world--RT has grown over the years, grooming new authors, informing aspiring authors and connecting in a casual, buut professional setting publishers, editors and agent with authors and authors with readers, booksellers and librarians.

I am amazed at her skills, priviledged to call her a friend and giddy that she decided to stop into the House of Muse kitchen to answer your questions about the RT BOOKreviews booklovers convention!
So much goes into the planning of this event and though attendees see you darting hither skither duruing the convention, few may really know Jo Carol--the woman. Let's start there...

Well, I can tell you a little bit about myself and the role I play at the RT BOOKLOVERS Convention. I have been the acting Convention Director for the last 5 years. In that role, I help plan the convention, coordinate events and sponsors. Work on registrations, website and a few extra jobs:)

The convention has a staff of volunteers, if you see staff you are seeing a volunteer, not a paid employee of RT. They have been the mainstay of the convention. I started 10 years ago as a volunteer in Registration and worked behind the scenes for the first 5 years. My professional job was a Training Resource Specialist (coordinated, planned events for employees, computer training and computer labs) it helped prepare me for the RT world. Some would say there is no prep for the RT Vortex.

There are two groups that help me put this event together. The Convention Staff is made up of volunteers whose professionals lives are much different 360 days out of the year. (yes I said 360 days, I drag them to the site 5 days prior and work them to the bone).

The RT Staff works though out the entire year helping me to plan, create and organize the convention from the website to the workshops, from the pre-con writer programs to the booksigings and workshops--and everything in -between.

Both sets of these volunteers help on site. We couldn't do it without either of these groups. If you come to the convention please give these folks your thanks.

You might ask what does the registration cover, it covers the hotel fees, meals, decorations, audio visual, publicity and many other things. We have parties every night, a kick off with Ellora's Cave Fantasy Party on Wednesday, Faery Court Costume Ball and Dinner on Thursday, Heather Graham and Helen Rosburg Vampire Ball and Dinner on Friday, and the famous Dorchester Party on Saturday. There are more mixers from morning until evening every day. I'm always amazed at the sponsors and the creative events that they pull together!! You can finda complete list of all social and professional events at our convention website-RT Convention
Often during the month of December, I get requests asking if gift certificates are available for the convention. Husbands wanting to give a special gift to their aspiring author wives, daughters wanting to bring their mother to meet her favorite author, or a friend who wants to help his or her friend’s, dream of getting published a bit more of a reality because of the fantastic networking opportunities available at this convention.

When I started going to the convention it was to meet some of my favorite authors, so when I took the reins as director I began to expand the convention agenda to offer a broader range of networking among authors and readers. We designed a “Reader’s Track” as well as a track custom-designed for aspiring authors, published authors, booksellers/librarians, and, of course, some of the best publishers, agents and editors in the industry.

The Romantic Times BOOKlovers Convention offers just that—an array of events-social and educational for attendees to learn what’s hot in the publishing industry, find out about emerging markets and technical achievements. This year, we’ve added more interactive events between authors and readers and two bookfairs, where readers can peruse all the best of the e-published industry, as well as the print and audio portions of the industry.

This convention which began as primarily a romance conference and the only one of its kind on the Northern Continent—still holds roots firmly in the belief of the romance genre, but in recent years we’ve expanded to include other popular genres, as well as the blended genres. Paranormal, Erotica, Mystery, Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Contemporary, Series, Steampunk, YA/Teen, Psychic Fiction, Multi-Cultural, Comics/Manga, Vampire—to name a few, and RT prides itself on keeping an eye on what it is that readers want.

One of the perks for all attendees is getting to meet new authors and learn about new genres, upcoming trends, and have the opportunity to ask questions, and make your voice heard. Publishers and authors are very generous with baskets giveaways in Club RT(over 125 baskets were given away last year in Club RT!) and the booksignings, as well as an array of free items that are given away in RT’s well-stocked promotional hallway. Thanks to publishers, I love hearing the complaints from attendees about how they are going to ship all their free books back home! (We do offer shipping services onsite as well!)
If you are interested in reading the deets on the RT Convention, set for April 28-May 2, 2010 in Columbus Ohio—including how you can register for one of the best and largest reader events in the country! Come experience the Romantic BOOKLovers convention, we’d love to have you!

I’d love to hear if you’ve attended RT or who you would like to meet at RT? What’s your favorite type of read? If you have any questions about the convention, I’d be happy to answer those for you.

Today as a special holiday gift, House of Muse is giving away a $100.00 discount on one 2010 RT registration to one lucky reader who leaves a comment!! Winner announced on Friday afternoon, December 18, 2009. **You must be registered by midnight, January 15, 2010 to receive the discount.**

Jo Carol
My thanks to Jo Carol for stopping by and if there are any questions you'd like to ask about the convention, Jo is here in a RARE one-on-one appearance to try to do just that!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday reading!

Disclaimer: I barely know this author, I rarely read this genre, but I know when a book pushes me to turn the pages, that it's a good read! I love Sokoloff's unique and fresh stories--defintely not the same ol', same ol'....(oh, btw...this is not my living room, but I would love it , if it were!!)

Continuing my journey into the Alexandra Sokoloff's psycho-thriller type books, I just finished her second book, THE PRICE. A brilliant piece of work, the premise being what if there was available the potential to save the life of a loved one from certain death?  To what lengths would we be willing to go to change the realistic outcome?

I love to read romance, but I have learned that there are a number of ways to say "I love you." What would a mother do for her dying child? What would a husband do for his suffering wife? Another psychological gem that twists and turns-pushing the reader to its startling conclusion!

Check out THE PRICE, by Alexander Sokoloff

My 2009 shortlist of great books I've read this year:
*in no particular order

The Club  - Sharon Page
The Virgins Secret  - Victoria Alexander
The Rogues Game- Renee Bernard
Vying the Viscount -Emily Bryan
The Harrowing-Alexander Sokoloff
Christmas Knight-Christina Skye *re-released in a duet this year! Yay!

And for those looking for a little something to add to that last minute gift--
Diary of Cozette
Winters Desire
are all still available!! If you'll send me an email , I"ll be happy to send you a personalized bookplate
and some info about my upcoming new book--THE MASTER & THE MUSES!

May you enjoy the warmth of a good read this holiday!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Blog contest at Fresh Fiction today only!!!

I'm blogging today and holding a contest to give away the new-first in a mini-series of Celtic Spice anthologies!! Check it out at Fresh Fiction blog!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bears repeating!

I'm sorry this pic has been on display before here at the manor, but honestly
it does "bare" repeating!

Lord CM demonstrates  a new form of "light bondage"...
Hope your holidays are merry and bright!!

The Lit Ladies

I actually read a book!

I actually took time to read a book, or How a book snagged me form the first page and I have the dark circles under my eyes to prove it...

It's no great surprise that I have eclectic tastes. In my music, reading, movies and even clothes;)

I know that you're supposed to read what you write, but quite often I am inspired by the variety, rather than reading more of what I want to write--for some reason it works in the opposite for me--expanding the possibilities--giving new meaning to the what if..the research materials will give me the details and facts , but it's by reading a variety of books, from research to fiction--that opens up my imagination.

Okay, so there's  a sneak peek into my head, like it or not;) But I do have a point...stay with me now...

This past week we had three snow days. Now, admittedly, that was for my kids, not me, but with kids at home, and the holidays around the corner, I found my sleeping pattern out of whack. To add to that, I picked up a book that I bought from an author I met first at RT a couple of years ago. Her second book, The Price looked intriguing and at RWA this past year I found her at the signing and picked up The Harrowing.

What would you call this? On the back cover, Kirkus reviews says, "Poltergeist Meets the Breakfast Club"
That's pretty close.

It was this book that kept me awake into the wee hours of the night. I finished it in one night. Now, I do happen to enjoy the psychological thriller type movie and frankly, I'd never read a psycho-thriller book--but the Harrowing will have you pushing through to see what will happen to a "discarded" group of college students left behind in an old, massive dorm that is harboring a deadly secret of its own.

The author, Alexandria Sokoloff, is also a screenwriter as well and it is clear in her wrting that not only are you reading a riveting story--you are experiencing it as well. If you like movies like The Sixth Sense, The Others, Premonition...then you are going to understand my praises of this gem of an author!

Highly Recommended:
The Harrowing
Alexander Sokoloff
St Martins Press
ISBN 13: 978-0-312-35749-8

I'm nearly finished with her second book, The Price--which is just as amazing! And this is a genre I've never read! Its in its second printing and if you pick it up you'll see why.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Dec.10 Kathy Francis

I'd like to ask you all to give a warm welcome today to a woman I am proud to call my friend. As you'll see when you read her story, I have actually known her longer than I've known my husband and as a result, the antics and obstacles we've been through are impossible in their entirety to name.

But none compare to the challenge of what I asked her to come by and share today. This story is an amazing one--of courage, faith and pure tenacity. If ever there is evidence of the true American spirit of not giving up--it is this one. And someday this story will be told in its entirety-I will see to that.

But for now, I want you to get to know Kathy and her beautiful daughter, Danielle a bit more.Their family not so different than anyone else, they went about their lives like all of us do--until the event that happened that would change their perspective and lives--and the lives of so many around them--forever.

Its a story that packs in more emotion from a family's challenge, a mother's heart--than I could ever begin to fictionalize--and it's all true.  As mom's/friends, we like to think we can "fix" anything that comes along in their lives--but sometimes faith becomes a freefalling experience, that no one can predict the outcome.

So grab your cup of coffee or tea, and gather around the table and visit with my friend, Kathy Francis...(*pic is Danielle and mom, Kathy)

Good morning Amanda! What a ride we’ve been on the last few days with our blizzard here in Iowa! At least I was able to get the tree up, bake a few cookies, spend a little time frosting them with my granddaughter Lily and enjoy some “forced” down time.

A good cup of coffee and some sharing with you my friend this morning sounds wonderful! I’ve been following your other guests the past few months and I must admit I feel a bit out of my element. I am honored Amanda that you thought my sharing with your readers would be worth reading.

You have known me longer than most people in my life and the plaque in my room that says “you’ll always be my best friend, you know too much” reminds me of the friendship we’ve shared for so many years. You’ve walked this journey with me the last few years and I am blessed to sit down this morning over a cup of coffee. You and I have shared many a morning cup of coffee and have solved quite a few problems on your front porch over coffee. So pour another cup and let’s reflect a little on life the past few years.

I was sharing my story the other day with a woman and she said the phrase I’ve heard so often, “you should write a book”. Well, that’s the plan, with a little help, one of these days I’ll share my story. Until then, let me just give you a small glimpse into my life and what has gone on the past few years. Maybe this holiday season something I share will give you hope and strength for something you may be going through.

I have three children, Nick who is 28 and Danielle who is 25 and TJ who is 21. Over the past few years my daughter Danielle is the one who has taken me to the places I thought I could never go and would go back and not go there if I could, but I can’t so here’s a glimpse of our journey with her brain cancer.

In August 2004 Danielle joined the US Army. What a moment that was, in August of 2005 standing in the gym holding her tight as she prepared to get on a bus that would take her to Iraq . She served her tour in Iraq for one year and returned home in August of 2006. During her tour there she was on a mission and was hit in the head with a steel plate. She received stitches and was back at work the next day or two. After that hit however, her headaches started and they would continue even after her return.

 By March of 2007 her headaches were out of control and after several MRI’s and testing’s a chordoma tumor was discovered. Her first brain surgery was a craniotomy in May of 2007, in San Antonio, Texas. A 12-hour surgery to tell us the news that was not good. They could not give us a good prognosis and sent us to Mayo clinic to a neurosurgeon that would suggest a 2nd surgery that would be more invasive this time.

The 2nd surgery in August of 2007 was again a 14-hour surgery with yet news at the end that her situation was grim. They could only get 50% of the tumor and didn’t give us much hope. That surgeon referred us to another doctor in Pittsburg who was doing cutting edge non-invasive brain surgeries through the sinus cavity.

Danielle had married in October of 2006. The marriage started with the odds against them as they married too soon after they both returned from Iraq. The stress of a new wife with a brain tumor and a baby on the way was too much for the marriage to survive. After the second surgery and before Lily was even born the marriage ended. She would face her journey with the support of her family and friends and she and her husband would go their separate ways.

We would wait for the surgery however, until after the birth of her baby. A baby who was given low odds of survival. There was even a moment when she was advised to possibly abort it, due to the stress of all her health issues and surgeries would cause the unborn baby. But she carried the baby to term. Lily would be born on the exact day she was supposed to on February 4th. She was born at Mayo Clinic with doctors prepared for the worst. She was beautiful and HEALTHY and has since that day been a joy in our lives. She has given her mommy strength to fight this cancer she has and to make it through times that continue to keep this mothers heart in awe.

Danielle's third surgery happened in March of 2008. Lily was 4 weeks old, we travelled to Pittsburg, our crew that consisted of her father and I, and my parents and little Lily. Those days seem far away now, but writing this brings back their memory so vividly. The news following another 14 hour surgery was different this time. They were able to tell us the MRI was clean, they had removed the entire tumor they could and would send her to Boston for a specialized radiation.

But for the first time in two years we were hearing there may be some hope.

We did make it to Boston. Danielle, Lily and I went and that is another story for another day. We endured 75 nights in a Marriott Residence Inn as she went every day for 12 weeks for her hour a day radiation. We shared tears, joys and so many memories together that trip.

A return a year later this September brought us more good news and that the cancer/tumor has not spread. We will return to Boston once a year for 5 years. Each year the odds are less in our favor, but for now we will accept what good news we can.

Fighting cancer as a family like this reminds me often of things that cancer cannot take away. The joys of preparing for a holiday season, baking cookies, decorating the house. Watching the eyes of a 2 year old as she sees and plays in her first snowfall. Having all our kids together for the first time in 9 years Those are the things that cancer cannot touch.

A few months ago a friend and I were talking and she mentioned that she could not imagine or fathom that she could possibly be able to handle something like this with her daughter. I told her that when you face situations like this you find the strength as a mother to do it no matter what it takes. Since that talk my friend’s daughter Adrianne who is 23 has been diagnosed with a brain tumor just two months before she was to be married. My friend is now facing all the emotions, dread and hope that I have over the last two years.

Her daughter's surgery is scheduled for this morning. So as you finish your coffee, raise your cups to Adrianne and her family and say a little prayer for her outcome and their journey.

Well, thanks Amanda for allowing me to share a little of the journey I am on. I still don’t know the direction it will take. But I do know as a family, with the support group we have, that we'll be able to face whatever challenges may come.

May this season bring you joy and peace as you reflect on your blessings, those you love and the journey you share together.
I'd like to thank Kathy for stopping in today and sharing  a glimspe of her story as a mother with a child facing a rare brain tumor. I have to say I have been inspired by this story, as many have, and continue to follow it, celebrating each day as a new blessing, with them.

If you have questions or know of someone going through a similar challenge in their lives, please feel free to share your story with us.

Next week (Dec. 17) Jo Carol Jones, director for the upcoming Romantic Times BOOKlovers convention will be my guest with a special insiders look at the April 2010 convention!
There will be no Thursday Coffee Talk scheduled for December 24.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Midwestern Snow storm

It's coming down they tell me at a rate of an inch an hour...which is why the prediction is for 8-12 inches by rush hour this evening!

Its absolutely gorgeous if you dont have to be out in it!

I wanted to invite all my readers over to the Lust in Time manor today to visit with our talented guest, Victoria Janssen! Her new release The Moonlight Mistress is in stores now and it looks fantastic!

Come on over and join us!

Also, be advised that with the impending blizzard warning for us on WED. I may not be online, depending on the power!

Take care all and stay warm!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk; Eden Robins author of Don't Go Back to Sleep!

I met Eden Robins first at a Romantic Times Booklovers convention a few years back when we heped co-host the launch of the first annual RT Faery Ball, since then I've gotten to know her quiet strength and her unlimited talent. I was so moved and inspired by what she came to share today and I thank her for sharing her courage in the face of some terribly difficult challenges. A more genuine person you will never meet and I wish her well on this new book, I think its going to do very well!

Without further adieu, please welcome Eden Robins to the warmth of the House of Muse kitchen. Pull up a chair and I'll pass around the coffee and danish while Eden shares what's been going on in her life.

Defying Gravity.

True, it’s the name of a wonderful song in the musical Wicked, but it’s also something else. It’s what I immediately thought about when Amanda asked me to blog about something that had personally affected me and my writing for her Thursday Coffee Talk blog.

Am I talking cosmetic surgery? No so much, although a transformation of sort has occurred in my life. Yet it’s been inside, not out, where the changes have all taken place. Just as the song from Wicked describes so aptly, I had come to point in my life some years back when I suddenly woke up, looked around and realized that it was time for a change. Not with the world (although that could be the topic of another blog), but within myself.

And as I woke up and cleared the sleep from my eyes, I started to see things clearly. Unfortunately what I saw wasn’t such a good thing. I came to the decision that I was tired of living a life that was only half me and half present. I was living by other people’s rules of how they thought I should be living, and came to the sudden, abrupt and unexpected realization that I didn’t want to accept that for myself or my life any longer.

So, I made a change. Several changes in fact. Some just affected me personally, while others affected those close to me. Separations, reunions and new meetings took place, as did fights, tears, laughter, pain, joy, love and dislike. I never wanted to hurt others by my actions, but I knew that my actions could do just that. I also knew that this was a path I had to take, whether or not I saw where it might end. That didn’t matter. What mattered was the need to take the journey.

As a result of my awakening my marriage ended, and unfortunately that event caused my children to go through some tough times. That was the hardest part for me to come to terms with. My job as a mom had always been to love and protect my children and keep them from hurt or harm. But what happens when I’m the one whose actions were hurting them? Some may condemn me as a bad parent, and believe me I’ve done that to myself more times than I can count. I lost some good friends and even my own family, parents and brothers for a while as well. They didn’t understand my choices and they really didn’t want to. They liked and had come to depend on the status quo my life had become. They didn’t want a change.

But I knew with a kind of desperation that was unshakable that a change was the only way. It was the only way, now that I had woken up, for me to really live my life authentically, fully as the adult woman I was meant to be. Sometimes the pressure of those around me made it difficult to follow through with the changes I needed to make in my life. In fact, it truly felt, at times, like I was defying gravity. But no matter how many times I tried to fly and fell to the ground, no matter how many times those around me tried to bring me down, I knew I had to get back up and try again. It wasn’t a choice. It was survival. Survival of my spirit.

I could have continued living a half life. Similar to the zombie fiction that’s so popular right now, I could have continued living a life of the walking dead, or at least the life of a sleepwalker, but I needed to make shift in my life, live and learn and truly be alive. The choice, despite my fears and doubts, was only mine to make.

That wake up call and the events that unfolded after that not only opened up a whole new chapter for me, it also broke open the sealed chapters of my past; the chapters that, up until that shift in my paradigm, had been sealed away because they had been too painful or frightening to remember. These memories bubbled to the surface and had to be addressed one by one, until I could once again look to the future.

I eventually found the courage to deal with these issues, come to terms with them as well as the people involved and move forward, but at the same time I also came to the conclusion that I had to document what I had learned. I had to record my self-discovery as life taught me its many lessons. These lessons, both good and bad, that would never have been learned had I stayed in the artificial bubble my life once was.

So in 2003, after having my second novel published, I sat down and wrote my first Monthly Garden essay. I wrote it and sent it out through the internet to anyone I knew. It was nothing more than a few of my thoughts about a specific life lesson I had learned. The response by friends and family was immediate. The support staggering. So the next month came, and I wrote another Monthly Garden essay. And the month after that another, and another and another. And as I continued, friends and family started forwarding my essays to people they knew. I received e-mails and letters from people I had never met, but who could at some level or another relate to my Monthly Garden essay.

The years passed, and as they did, my readership grew. And as it grew, I started writing more than just an essay. I started writing a letter to my new friends, letting them know what was going on in my life while also incorporating my essay into each newsletter. Over time my Monthly Garden Newsletter developed and started to reach many more people. Today that newsletter reaches out to over 15,000 friends all over the world.

That miracle could never have happened had I not suddenly woken up and decided it was time for a change. It was time to defy gravity. And a little over a year and a half ago, I realized it was time for another change. Not in me, this time, but in my Monthly Garden Essay. Friends and readers had made it clear they wanted something more from me. They wanted a collection of the Monthly Garden topics and lessons I had learned.

At first I didn’t see how to put these thoughts together, but eventually, after talking to many friends and mentors in my life, I realized that it was not only possible, but also made sense to put these essays into a book format. In this way, I could not only provide an essay, but also explain in more detail what life events had lead up to these epiphanies, and why it was so important for me to keep them in mind as I moved forward in my life.

My very first nonfiction book, Don’t Go Back to Sleep! was born from these conclusions. And as of its completion this year, I’m in the process of getting it published. What will happen with this new attempt at a nonfiction inspirational book? I don’t know where the path will end, but I do know I have to follow it. Will it be easy or hard? Probably both, in different ways. Will the people in my life agree with my choices or the things I wrote about? No necessarily, but it’s a choice I’ve already made. Writing this book has not only helped me clarify the direction my life has taken, but it’s also helped to free me from my past so I can move into the future. Completing Don’t Go Back to Sleep! has shown me that it’s time yet again to move forward, to try to defy gravity once more. And why not? What’s a few falls, scrapes and bruises if I can learn to fly?

Please wish me luck. And if you have a moment to check out a sneak peek of Don’t Go Back to Sleep! you’ll find it posted at You can also peruse my latest Monthly Garden essay and sign up for my Monthly Garden Newsletter on my website I’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact me at

Just Believe,

Eden Robins

My thanks to Eden for stopping in today and I invite you to check out her newsletter The Monthly Garden.


Monday, November 30, 2009

The Morning After

There may be a few of you who remember the song from that movie The Poesiden Adventure? Well it tracks pretty close to the Monday morning silence of a quiet house after four days of chatter, laughing, eating, cooking, running to the store...again, making up extra beds, and last but not leaset , taking advantage of the nice weather to put up that fresh evergreen roping that you bought from your nephews school fundraiser.

There's an eerie silence this morning as its just me and the critters in the house, and if I'm not mistaken, even they, too, are zonked out from the hubbub;)

Still, I wouldn't trade those precious moments for the world and for a few days, I slept like a log having all my chicks under one roof.

This morning, they are out there making a difference in their worlds-and I-- in mine.

I can return to focus on the two novellas and my next novel for Spice-The Dark Seduction of Miss Jane. A story of an American journalist who goes to Victorian London to make a name in the publishing world, and ends up being sedcued by the very darkness she seeks to expose.

More this week:
Thursdays Coffee Talk will feature author, good friend and sister fae (from the Romantic Times faery Ball) Eden Robins. You don't want to miss this one! Inspiring and honest, Eden shares the latest in her writing journey and her life.

Feel free to pick up the new widget for The Master & the Muses, if you like! The countdown has begun and I am very excited for this one!  Thomas Rodin, an eccentric, iconic, creative lover and artist, has few boundries when it comes to his passion. What would it take to tame such a man?

Each novella tells the story of three different women caught up in the reckless desire and unabashed romance of the Pre-Raphaelite era! Helen, Sara and Grace, all three would serve as his inspiration...and he would be their obsession...but only one would capture his heart.

Watch for more here and on my website for excerpts and the fascinating background of my research on this one!

Have a good Monday all!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Sabrina, webmistress of CHEEKY READS!

I met Sabrina at an RT convention and was immediately drawn to her genuine enthusiasum and smile.

When I found her again online at CHEEKYREADS , I could see that she runs her blog with the same sincerety and fun that exemplifies her persona!

Now I do have the coffeepot a perkin', but I have to be honest, this whole "peppermint mocha" thing Sabrina has going is looking mighty tempting!!  For those of you with Starbucks nearby, I suspect you already know what I'm referring to...for those of us out here in the rural heartland...well, we may have to settle for the bottled variety..*sob.

Noentheless, when its chilly outside and the weatherman even mentions the "S" word in a nearby state, its hard not to start thinking of the holidays! (never mind that most stores are already decked out--as it were--with boughs of holly!!)  And then there is that most famous parade of all--Macy's gearing up just around the corner in the states.

And yes, I admit, I have gone through one round of Yankee candle Christmas tree scent...I'm a sucker for pine trees (frasers to be precise)...but I digress...Reading Sabrina's blog today has sparked a new direction for me this year(I know, right? You'd think as an author I'd head straight for books!)

But her advise is not only timely, but smart as well--becasue a book is not only entertainment--but an investment!  So, I'm writing up my questions to ask Sabrina and hoping if we have any booksellers or former bookseller clerks in the crowd they will pipe up with their holiday gift ideas also!!

And so warm up your mugs of whatever is keeping you warm (they havent yet found a coffee brew to label, "man candy," have they?) relax with the fireplace to  keep your toes toasty and let's hear what Sabrina has to share with us today!

Hi everyone! Thank you so much to Amanda for having me here today.

I’ve got my peppermint mocha right here, a sure sign that it’s that time of year again, and I can’t wait to chat! For some, just the mention that the holidays are upon us will bring about groans of frustration. Most of the time those bad reactions are aimed at one thing…holiday shopping.

Well, this year there will be no groans coming from my direction and no last minute mall trip either. Why is that? Because I’ve discovered the ultimate save your sanity, holiday shopping idea – BUY BOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS.

I’m not joking. If you’ve never seriously considered the awesomeness that a bookstore can hold during the holidays then I’m here to help you out.

First off, book stores have such great ambiance. Ever been to a mall during the holidays only to feel more stressed out and confused about your gift selections than before you went? Take a peek into your local bookstore and you’ll hear cheerful holiday music playing, see festive holiday decorations and smell the aromas coming from the cafĂ©. It makes for one pretty awesome shopping experience.

I know what you’re thinking. “Well yeah, it’s got all that but there’s no way I can get most, or even all, of my shopping done in one place.”

Au Contraire, Mon Fraire!

Have a niece that loves Twilight? Most bookstores carry tons of Twilight items from cool bags to notebooks and everything in between. Even better? Check out the YA section and find her another paranormal series to sink her teeth in. Not only will you be crossing her off your holiday list, but you’ll be fostering a love of books that will last a lifetime.

(*Is your niece Kristina Cook/Astor, by chance?;))

What about that manly man in your life? Think he’s not a bookie? Has he always wanted to travel? Then a glossy travel guide or picture book of the places he dreams of going would be a great gift. Does he love beer? Trick question, I know. What about a Brew your own beer guide or microbrew connoisseur book? There are so many book themes that cross my mind – books on cigars, sports biographies, joke books, etc. Just think about it and I’m sure you’ll think of the perfect theme.

Have young children to buy for? What better gift than to introduce them to the classics you loved as a kid! What kid doesn’t love coloring and activity books? Most stores also carry very cool stuffed animals and toys that coincide with popular book series.

Your girlfriends will love you if you introduce them to a new-to-them romance author. Wouldn’t the holidays be a perfect time to pick out one book to buy for all your friends and invite them over to discuss it after the New Year? You’ll have jump started your very own book club with the coolest chicks you know and a book you’ve hand selected! It’s a gift that could keep on giving every month at book club meetings. Oh, and make sure the wine flows at your meetings, it’ll make the book discussions that much more fun!

See? You really could make a huge dent in your holiday shopping list with just one stop. What’s more, they’ll be personal gifts you’ve picked especially for your friends and family. You’ll be fostering a love of books and helping support your favorite bookstore! Oh, and one last plus – you’ll be supporting authors. It’s kind of like sending them a gift for the holidays too.

(* So true, so true! What an utterly mahvelous idea, darling!!;))  What? I was just agreeing...)

So, tell me who’s on your list this year that you think will be hard to buy for? I’ll be here all day to offer advice! I’ll be working on my own list as well and would love any suggestions you have.

I raise my mocha to toast to a happier holiday shopping experience.

Happy Holidays!
Sabrina @ CheekyReads
 Doesnt this look yummy?
Want more "yummy?"
To ring in the holiday shopping we're giving away a $10 Barnes & Noble gift card to one lucky commenter today!

Let's talk books!!  My thanks to Sabrina for stopping in today!

*Note: there will be no Thursday Coffee Talk on Thur. Nov. 25 so that we can all enjoy the holiday with family and friends. All the best of all you need this season! ~Love, Amanda

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First Italian Interview w/ Isn't it Romantic?

Join me at  ISN'T IT ROMANTIC?  today for my first ever Italian review site interview!! This a beautiful site dedicated to some of the best in romance covers! My thanks to Veronica at Isn't It Romantic and Harlequin Spice for making this possible!!

Bear with me as I navigate the time changes and translations, but in the spirit of giving which is internationally  understood, I will be giving away a copy of WINTERS DESIRE, so stop by for a visit!!



Monday, November 16, 2009

TCT Winner!!

Here it is Monday morning once again and I realize once more how fast life moves these days! I am sorely lagging behind in the giveaway department, but I promise to make up for it!!

Over the weekend, we helped move #1 daughter to a new place and I had no idea that a 28 yr old could manage to collect so much stuff (so too, her brothers questioned, but worked heroically and without a peep of complaint, bless them!) Al lis said and done in her "realm" and I came home to find our yard being cleaned of the debris left from the siding doctors. Bit by bit, my psyche is timidly welcoming the oncoming holiday season...and gathering my family and all the pest around us. How blessed we really are!

On top of that-my fav whether man, Bryan is predicting a bit of that "white stuff" this evening;))
Woohoo!!  But, I digress.... TCT winners:

Winner of Kristi's NASCAR book--Mary Ann DeBorde!!! Email me Mary at    and we'll get your book out to you!!

Emily Bryans winner to be announced!!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Nov. 12, 2009: Author, Emily Bryan!

Today I am delighted to have with us, author of fantastic historical romance, Emily Bryan! I met Emily at a Romantic Times Convention, after meeting her online and she is even more genuinely fun in person! Today she talks about her experience with a very real issue facing adolescents--bullying.

So come on in and pour you a steaming cuppa coffee or tea and visit here with my friend, Emily!

When Amanda asked me to share something unrelated to romance, but still relevant to women, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane. I have to admit most of my childhood memories are happy ones, but something happened when I was in 5th grade whose injustice still stings.

I was an early bloomer. I was minding my own business and all of a sudden these bumps started growing on my chest. I ballooned up to a 36B in only a few months. How I envied my friends their flat chests.

And unfortunately, I drew the interest of a couple squirrelly little boys in my class who started chasing me home from school, trying to grab my new breasts. I was too embarrassed to tell my parents, but I finally complained to my teacher.

The next day, I was called into the vice-principal’s office. He grilled me with questions, demanding to know what I’d been doing to make those boys behave that way. I honestly hadn’t done a thing except grow. I still had a child’s heart trapped in my quickly-becoming-a-woman’s body. I was mortified. I left his office blowing snot bubbles, hot tears streaming down my cheeks.

The authorities wouldn’t help me. I didn’t want to tell my folks. They weren’t dealing too well with my change either. It had taken plenty of pleading to convince them I needed a bra instead of looser tops. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

The next time those boys started after me, I didn’t run. I beaned them both with my metal lunch box in a place sure to make them forget all about being interested in my breasts. And they never bothered me again.

I have long since forgiven them. They were just hormones with feet and can’t be held to account for the insanity that is early male puberty.

But the vice-principal knew better. He made me feel ashamed of something over which I had no control. I can still feel my blood pressure rise every time I think about it. Young girls are bombarded with messages that scream out that they aren’t quite right, aren’t quite good enough. At a time when the adults in my life should have been helping me over the hurdle of my changing body, that educational professional seriously dropped the ball.

Fortunately, I’ve come to terms with the house of flesh in which I live and it’s just fine, thank you. How about you? Were there some times in your life when you overcame a problem and learned to feel good about yourself? Are there things you’re still working on?

Thanks for having me, Amanda. I’d like to invite your readers to enter my MERRY CHRISTMAS BALL CONTEST at .

I’m giving away a $100 B&N gift card on December 1st! I’d also love to give away a copy of A CHRISTMAS BALL, my newest release, to someone who leaves a comment here today!


What a lovely gift and just before the holidays to boot! Thank you for sharing this very sensitive experience with us, one I am sure most of us have felt at one time or another or know of someone who has.

Even though you were young, your resourcefulness shone even then;)  I love the lunchbox idea* These days, you probably could have filed an harrassement complaint. Though I'm not sure if that makes things better or worse for the student.  I'd love readers to weigh in on these questions presented.

Presently, at our high school we are dealing with an incident that reminds me of the mindset of your principal a bit--we're still awaiting a determination as to what is going to happen to thei administrator.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I'm giving away my books over at Romance in the Backseat this month!!

Just email me who you would like to give a book to !

I'll be choosing a winner soon so hurry!! Lots of good authors chatting about what this month and this theme means to them!!

Artist: Jeff Lagg

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk :Nov.5, author, Kristi Astor aka Kristina Cook

Welcome to the House of Muse kitchen, where the coffee(and hot water for tea) is always on and guests can come in through the back door to have a sit and catch up on whats going on in each other's lives.

Today I am really excited to have with us, the warm and talented author, Kristina Cook aka Kristi Astor.  Already a successful Kensington historical author before I met her, I am honored to call her my writing partner (with Charlotte Featherstone) in the mini-series Celtic Spice anthologies we concieved and wrote together.

But today, we're going to talk about overcoming obstacles. And Kristi's story is one of many I have come to know about, particularly in the writing world. We were just talking about this and had to wonder of the connection to this condition to writer's. I rarely hear of men with the same symptoms, but perhaps they too, exist.

Nonetheless, of those women that I know, who write and also deal with physical obstacles in order to do so, my admiration soars for their courage and tenacity--for their passion to tell a great story!

So, warm up your cups and gather around the table to hear how she spends a typical day in her "office."

"Survival Gear"

So….here I sit in my office, all bundled up in my sweats and thick socks and Ugg boots, my two space heaters roaring away to supplement the heat from my radiator. I clutch a hot mug of tea in my hands, and consider plugging in my heating pad to put in my chair, behind my back.

You’re probably thinking, “Wow, it must be really cold there!” No, it’s pretty much a typical crisp fall day here in the northeast, cool but not yet cold. Still, the heaters and warm clothes and everything else are pretty much my “survival gear”—the things I need in order to accomplish what I need to accomplish each day. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was only diagnosed last year, so it’s still pretty new to me. I’m still adjusting—still trying to learn my way around what feels like a total new body to me (and a traitorous one, at that!).

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease. No one knows what causes it, why your body’s immune system suddenly begins attacking your joints. But there’s more than the joint pain and stiffness—there’s also fatigue. I’ve gotten lucky; my joint damage is minimal. I pop two pills every morning now. Interestingly enough, my meds are actually anti-malaria drugs that turned out to treat RA symptoms, too—I feel like I should make use of that and take a trip to Africa or India or something! Before I started treatment, I was having really bad joint pain and swelling in my hands and wrists, and my feet would hurt after standing for a while, but no actual damage was done to the joints themselves. At least, not yet.

The medication has really helped with that, though I still get occasional swelling, and in the dead of winter have been known to wear fingerless gloves all day long (even eating out at restaurants!). But it’s the fatigue that really gets me, and the meds don’t help that at all. I could sleep all day, every day. Getting out of bed to get my kids off to school is a struggle. First, because I’m just exhausted all the time, but also because it takes a good hour or so in the morning before the stiffness goes away.

I’m only 40, but in the mornings I feel like an 80-year old. As soon as my husband leaves to take the kids to school, I climb back in my bed, one of the few places that I always feel warm and cozy and comfortable (the other place would be in a hot bath). Sometimes it’s a few more hours before I get up again. I sometimes fear that, if allowed, I’d stay there all day.

Not a good way to live a productive life—and certainly not a productive life as a writer! Thus, the warm clothes, the multiple heaters, the hot cups of tea, the heating pad in my chair. It helps some, my survival gear, but I know I’ll have to make more adjustments in my life before I can be as productive as I was before.

We all have our own “survival gear” to meet our own individual challenges as women, as moms, as writers, readers. For some people, it can be as simple as a cup of coffee every morning. Or plugging into an iPod. Some women have challenges that are much more serious than mine—I’ve known at least one writer who required an oxygen mask to sit at her desk and write.

I want to thank Kristi for stopping by today and sharing how she is able to press on through this obstacles in her life in order to write. We all have those hurdels-large or small-- that we have to manage in order to achieve our goals. If there is something to be learned here, its that there are those who understand what you're dealing with and will support you and that tenacity and courage is essential to achieving your goals.

Today , Kristi is giving away her recently released, NASCAR series book-FORCES OF NATURE to one lucky winner who comments today!  This book is especially important as Kristi was in the midst of writing it when she learned of her condition. As authors, we pour our beings into writing--and as such, I 've no doubt that this is an exceptional read!
What about you? What’s your daily “survival gear”?

(*I think mine is that first cuppa in the morning;)...Amanda)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Month of Thanks from Romance in the Backseat

This month I'm honored to be taking part in a special giveaway promotion that is rare--
what you win, you win for someone else...

Maybe a friend, who's out of work and hasn't been able to visit a bookstore for awhile, a struggling college student, maybe a secret pal at work--or someone you know that could use a lift from a random act of kindness. Its an awesome idea for the month of thanks!

I'll be joining other authors all month at Romance in the Backseat with my blog on what I am thankful for on November 10th. Come on by and tell me why or who you'd like to give a book to. Its a great idea , so lets spread the love around!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scavenger Hunt at LIT Blog!

Just a reminder that later today--sometime between now and 10 p.m. EST, we'll be posting the "Scavenger Hunt" questions on the LIT(Lust in Time) blog. The quickest commenters to get all the answers right will win the grand prizes (1st place: the necklace, 2nd place: the "The Aussie --Gods of FOOTBALL Naked for a Cause " calendar, and 3rd place: the CD)! So stay tuned....and keep checking back in!

Party time at the LIT Manor

We're having a 48 hour WINTERS DESIRE bash over at the manor!
Come join us for fun trivia about Winters Solstice , excerpts and prizes!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Samhain!!!

Traditionally, Samhain is celebrated with the gathering of a bonfire set high on a hill for all to see and be drawn to...well, today we have some CELTIC HEAT of a different kind....

in celebration of SAMHAIN, may you be safe, prosperous and may your passion always be aflame!

To the bad boys of Ireland
we give you our praise

for the pleasure you've given us
in our nights and our days...

For the heat that you spark,
with but a glint in your eye.

Can cause even the coldest of women to sigh.

Tis a gift , to be sure
this fever you bring-

as ancient as Samhain
with it's ritual kings.

Fierce runs the blood
in your veins for a fight

but fiercer still your passion
with your women--at night.

Tender your words when spoken in love
but your trust is gained through merit above

In celebration of Samhain
the ancient fires we keep,                      

in our hearts, you're the spark
of our fantasies deep!

Safe and Happy Samhain!


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Author, Caridad Pineiro!!!

Vivacious, genuine, smart, talented to boot--and a true delight--all of these describe my guest today at Coffee Talk!  Caridad Pineiro has a slew of backlist titles and a range in writing that would make your head spin! On top of that, she is a top-notch lawyer and a mom, mentor, and advocate all rolled into one.

No pressure. Ha! But she seems to handle it with ease and charm (I'm waiting for her how-to workshop!!)

 So come on in, pull up a comfy  chair and grab your cuppa! It's the week before Samhain(woooooo) and we've got Caridad Pineiro in the House!!

Let's talk about Vamps and Orbs, shall we?

My name is Caridad Pineiro and I have a confession to make. I’m a Buffy fanatic. Seems somehow appropriate for a paranormal writer. In my case, it’s actually the reason I’m a paranormal writer. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say, I’m a paranormal romantic suspense writer.

I started off writing contemporary romances, but inevitably found that I was always trying to put something dark in the stories, from a serial killer to an athlete trying to deal with a career-threatening injury.

And then came Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I actually discovered the television program by accident as I was channeling my absent husband and surfing through the television stations. As I flipped, I ran across a rather stunning young blonde and very handsome man doing a martial arts routine that slowly morphed into a very sexually tense scene. I was hooked!

I not only watched all of that season (number three), but managed to find recordings of seasons one and two. I watched, transfixed as Buffy battled both her inner demons and the real life ones on the screen. I laughed and I cried. I was amazed at how the writers had used the demons and Buffy’s battles to create metaphors to represent the issues faced by teenagers in high school. Universal issues with which I could still identify as an adult.

I realized from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer that in a paranormal world there were more ways in which I could explore the real nature of my characters and up the ante with respect to the personal demons they faced in the story. I also realized that adding a little suspense was the perfect combination to let me to really push the characters to their extremes and allow them to rise to the challenges of the story.

The other thing that Buffy taught me was to think ahead about where I wanted to take the stories. For example, at the end of season three as Faith, a rogue slayer, is battling Buffy, she says to Buffy “Miles to go - Little Ms. Muffet counting down from 7-3-0.” Didn’t mean much to anyone at the time except maybe Joss Whedon, but 730 days later in season five Buffy took a swan dive off a tower to save her sister and the world.

In other words, through all those seasons there was a bigger story arc at work that was going to lead the characters to that momentous event. Another important lesson learned. Every time I start a series I map out a larger story arc that will allow me to develop a series of stories that stand alone, but which also connect and form a multi-book story for readers to follow.

Buffy inspired me and set me on a new path with my writing. I guess that’s another lesson learned – never box yourself into a corner and always be willing to explore something different. You never know where it will take you.

I want to thank my dynamite friend, Caridad for stopping in today! I love chatting with her any chance I can get! And, even better, the woman is generous!! 

 So today...for the first person who can name the hero in SINS OF the FLESH--Caridad is sending out a T-shirt and book!! 
(* isn't that a killer cover?;)

Now, tis the season---and  I want to try to get Caridad to share a bit too, about and incident at a recent convention and apparently closer to home as well--just in time for Halloween. The strange occurance of "orbs!!"  Whether or not you happen to believe in supernatural things--you cannot deny even from an intellectual standpoint how interesting it is! 

Come on , lets coax her into telling us about those recent experiences and maybe some of yours!!!!


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caridad Pineiro this week at TCT!!!

Congrats to Jan who was our Coffee Talk winner last week with the multi-talented, Sheila Clover English! Your can read that article about Circle of Seven's amazing school program teaching kids the fun of reading still by scrolling to last weeks TCT!.....

This week we welcome the equally amazing Caridad Pineiro' to TCT!  What an genuinely talented woman who has every reason to have an ego the size of New Jersey, but is warm, witty and wonderful as they come!  Come by the kitchen and join us for a cuppa on Thursday, October 29 as she talks about her obsession with Buffy the Vampyre Slayer and her new book Sins of the Flesh!
Maybe we can get her to talk about the strange "orbs" she heard about at a recent writer's conference!!

See you Thursday!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

But by the moments.....

I have finished my first pass through of edits on The Master & The Muses.  I have a particular fondness of this story like no other book I've written. Perhaps it is the growth I've experienced while on the journey of research and creating the characters...or perhaps because it hits so close to home of my artistic side. (yes, I kept open containers of linseed and turpentine in my office as inspiration!)

I think it is secretly because I could identify with them in their quest to follow their gut, to color outside the box--as it were. With gratitude, something that my editors at Spice have so graciously encouraged.

Of course, as do all authors, I hope this book endears itself to readers as much as it has become special to me.

 It is based loosely on the antics of the real-life Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A group of twenty-something, like-minded rebellious artists who turned the English art world on its ear with their attitude and method of painting.

They were a rowdy group and often in trouble with the critics, caused all manner of trouble, but they perservered the naysayers and produced some of the most famous and timeless paintings that remain as brilliant today, as they were then.

Eccentric and scandelous, they were non-conventional and yet embraced all of nature as the center of their beliefs. Their work featured true colors, real, images, outspoken topics--rather than what was taught in the well-known art academies of the day.

And their social lives reflected as much of their quest for individuality, passion and beauty, as did their work.

I look forward to sharing THE MASTER & THE MUSES with you this coming June 2010. It features, Thomas Rodin, budding artist from Diary of Cozette and the stories of three of the women who posed for him, during the height of his art career.

They are his passion.
                       He is their obsession.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk: Sheila Clover English, CEO of COS Productions

Today on Coffee Talk, I am thrilled to have with us, CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, Sheila Clover English. COS was one of the pioneer multi-media companies to take book promotions and combine it with entertainment, giving readers amazing, creative visuals to books! In essence, bringing them to life before our very eyes!  COS, I'm proud to say, did the incredible booktrailer for my book-Tortured.

Here is a bit about Sheila before we get started. So grab your cuppa on this chilly, rainy morning and tap into this innovative media group and all the good stuff they are up to!! For those of you attending reader and author conventions, you can almost always find Sheila, her husband and crew showcasing some of their fabulous work and you're sure to recognize a number of your fav authors!

Sheila Clover English is the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions and Executive Producer of Reader’s Entertainment TV. She is a member of the Downloadable Media Association, the Internet Content Syndication Council and the Silver Telly Council.

Sheila is the Chair of the ITW Social Networking committee and guest blogger for Future Perfect Publishing. You can find out more about Sheila’s industry awards and accomplishments on IMDB -
Her company has been in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The New York Times and on NPR as well as featured in technology circles such as TubeMogul University, Ask the Experts and Fast Company.

Here's a warm-up as we settle in and listen to yet another innovative program that COS has created!

Reaching young readers in a way that is entertaining and enticing is a way to build tomorrow’s readers. That’s why the use of multimedia in a variety of venues has become increasingly important.

Children and young adults today are online. They are online for school work, jobs, news and entertainment. Often they are looking for something to do and they are picky about what they are willing to give their time to.

Video games are extremely popular with children and young adults as is online video. Young people are looking to be engaged either by doing something (games) or direct-entertainment (videos). So where do books fit in?

How do we remind them that books are entertainment?

Influence Not Authority
Why is it that a parent can recommend something to a child and the child will turn it down flat, but if their peers recommend the same thing they jump all over it?

Because influence will always win out over authority in the long run. We do what we are told to do because we have to. We do it begrudgingly. We do it until we don’t have to do it. But, when we are influenced by someone or something we want to do it.

Instead of a directive, try living by example. Kids want to feel exhilarated. They want to feel the emotions we know live inside a book. Tell them how a book made you feel. Relate it in an enthusiastic way. Then give them the book. Show them a book trailer. Send them to a cool website that promotes that book or author so they can decide for themselves.

Contact bloggers and give them a video to share. Give them talking points for discussions. Don’t make it a job for a blogger. Give them fun things to do or say so the blog can encourage participation. That’s what an influential blogger does. They get people to engage. Help them with that by giving them tools.

Elective Not Forced
Many schools force kids to read books at certain points in their educational career. There are books we can all discuss because in the 8th grade we were forced to read it. And though we might enjoy that book now, it was being forced to do something that we related to the physical action of reading.

Being forced to do something often breeds feelings of resentment. And if you like the teacher but not the lesson you blame the lesson, right? That’s exactly what happens. You need to blame someone or something for these bad feelings and often what gets blamed is the act of reading.

If you are forced to eat an apple every day will you learn to love apples, or when you no longer are forced to eat them, will you swear never to eat an apple again? You see how that works?

Smart schools are trying other methods to encourage kids to read. They have reading lists so young readers can feel they have some choices over what they will read. Some will reward the class by showing a movie after everyone reads the book, so there’s incentive connected with a positive feeling.

Entertainment Not Work
Remember when you were very young and story time was exciting? It was a reward or a comfort at the end of the day. Or when you’re on vacation and want to escape you would curl up with a good book and forget about work for a while.

Books need to be put in a positive light. They need to be presented as entertainment, not an assignment. Reading should be a reward.

COS Productions works with the University of Central Florida on something called Digital BookTalk. They have a program called UB The Director that allows kids to create their own book trailer. So, instead of a book report they get to do something fun with multimedia.

The Digital BookTalk program has been a huge success in both middle schools and high schools, though the program does target primarily middle school kids. The program is done either as an after-school program or as part of an English assignment. The books chosen come from a list given to the teacher by UCF and the UCF program teaches the teacher how to utilize technology to promote reading and comprehension.

The videos are currently shown on the UCF Digital BookTalk site, but will also be added to a new Young Reader’s TV site that will go live in 2010 as part of Reader’s Entertainment Group, the new umbrella company of Circle of Seven Productions.

Circle of Seven Productions and UCF found a natural synergy in their goals and objectives: Promote reading, build readers and show kids that books are an exciting form of entertainment.

The assignment isn’t having to read the book. The assignment is getting to make a book trailer. Reading becomes part of the process for a project kids consider to be fun. So now reading and fun have been put together in the minds of the kids.

The kids get together in teams and each team creates a trailer that everyone will review. Some of them vote for the best trailer, some of them play the trailers as part of a fun day in class. Books, reading and an assignment are now entertainment, not work.

You can find out more about Digital BookTalk at

Fun Not Commercial
Many schools, libraries and bookstores utilize multimedia to encourage reading, but whatever that multimedia is it needs to be fun-filled, engaging entertainment. Kids are busy these days and don’t want to waste their time watching commercials about your book. You need to give them something worth their time.

Book videos need to have entertainment value in them. They can’t just be a commercial. Commercials are fact, viral videos are entertainment. Facts are more like work, viral videos are more like fun.

I’m asked all the time whether or not a book trailer is a commercial. It is not. It has commercial elements in it, but it is not a commercial. Book trailers are meant to be entertainment. They have elements of adventure, fun or other enticements that influence through positive feelings and engagement.

Here’s an example. Evermore is a young adult novel with a target audience of tweens to twenties. This is more of a “Twilight” crowd and they are very interested in anything to do with the heroine, Ever.

You can see that on one site alone this video has over 75,000 views. More importantly though you can see how engaged the viewers are by the number of comments and ratings. This series hit the USA Today and NY Times bestseller lists with a #1 NY Times spot for author Alyson Noel.

This video became an influencer and a platform for other influencers. It is a little over one minute long and meant to be entertaining and enticing. It is not a standard commercial format, even though you see commercial elements such as the book cover and URL.

Another book trailer created to be more entertainment than commercial is Christine Feehan’s Turbulent Sea which is a music video. It has over 60,000 views on YouTube alone.

This has 50 ratings and over 50 comments. It went on to be #1 on the NY Times bestseller list.

The point is that videos created to be entertaining are more likely to be shared than one that is more commercial in nature.

Other multimedia that has been rising in popularity is online gaming for books. I’ve seen different game ideas, but essentially this allows people to play a game while using the book storyline or in the case of the book Isis, the illustrations are used for the game. You can see that at You can get your score and challenge your friends. The game has been played over 1 million times already.

The bottom line is that we need to promote reading in a positive and fun way before we can ever hope to promote individual books. You can’t sell something no one is interested in, so you need to create an interest. Starting with young readers, changing the way we present reading to them, is an investment in their education and in our industry.

So now we need YOUR we're asking you as readers to suggest innovative ways to encourage reading in middle school and/or high school age kids! One comment selected today will receive a prize packet from THURSDAY COFFEE TALK!

Tell us what your school has done to help this, or what steps you have implemented at home. Maybe your sharing an idea will help someone else and encouraging reading in our young people is vital to all of our futures!!

I'd like to thank Sheila for stopping by and sharing this new and yet another innovative idea to inspire reading! Thats' what COS is all about!

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