Monday, September 30, 2013

Congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner!

Congratulations to the grand prize winner of the Kindle Fire 7" HD Tablet!!

 grburton @

Congratulations to Jeaniene Frost Winner!

Congratulations to the commenter fsteph55(at)yahoo(dot)com from Jeaniene Frost's interview. She has won one free e-format of her choice from Jeaniene's available books. Please contact me at carlaswafford @ to claim your prize in 30 days.



And the Winners Are...

Aaaand the winners of any two books from my Book List are....

(drum solo from Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight)

Tawnya Peltonen and Shadow! Yaay! Congratulation!! 

I'll email you two lovely ladies and you can tell me your pick! Happy reading!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Interview with Jeaniene Frost

When Jeaniene accepted Southern Magic’s invitation to be their keynote speaker, it gave me a good excuse to read a few of her books without feeling guilty for not writing on my own. Well, I’m on number nine and loving them. By the way, to help you keep up, she provides reading lists on her website. Click here

The woman is a writing powerhouse, and I’m so happy she made time to answer these questions.

When did you start writing fiction?

Right before I turned thirty. I’d wanted to be an author since I was twelve, but while I started a lot of stories, I never finished them. Then, with that milestone birthday looming, I realized I was either going to get serious about my dream, or give it up. I wasn’t ready to give it up, so I began writing with one goal in mind – finish a book. That book turned out to be my debut novel, Halfway to the Grave.

Loved the opening scene of that book! It blew me away.

Who influenced your writing the most? Why?

I can’t pick only one author. When I was twelve, I filched my mother’s copy of Skye O’Malley by Bertrice Small. That introduced me to the romance genre, which had a huge impact on my writing. In my later teens, I read Chances by Jackie Collins, which made me fall in love with the anti-hero archetype. The Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye taught me that books can be a teleportation device, because I felt like I was really there in the setting. Then Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series hooked me on first-person narratives, which is the style I am most comfortable with when writing.

That’s only a few out of countless authors who’ve had an impact on my writing. Every time I read something I love, I want to write a book that makes someone else equally happy, so other authors constantly challenge and inspire me.

Who are your top five authors to read?

So hard to narrow it down to just five! Melissa Marr, Ilona Andrews, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Kresley Cole, and Charlaine Harris are definite favorites, but I have a more complete list on my website here:

Describe where you are the most productive when you write.

In my office with the door shut, the internet off, and my music on. Lots of authors go to coffee shops or other public places to write, but distractions kill my productivity. I have a 12pm through 7pm “no phone calls” block for my family and friends, too. Otherwise, I’ve never finish a book.

What is your go-to book to read over and over again?

There are so many new books I want to read, and my time is limited, so I normally don’t re-read. The only book I’ve made a point to re-read is the Bible, but since that’s so lengthy, it takes me a while to get through it even once.

Tells us a little about your current book?

It’s called The Beautiful Ashes, and it’s the first book my New Adult paranormal romance series with Harlequin. I’ve had this story in my head for years, but due to various reasons, I never had a chance to tell it before now. I’m so excited to finally be able to share it with readers!

So looking forward to it!

Show us one small scene with your favorite dialogue from that book.

I’m only a few chapters into writing it, so this won’t be my favorite dialog for long, but here’s a snippet (subject to change since this is pre-edits). As a backdrop, my heroine has had the worst week ever. Her sister went missing, her parents were killed in a car crash, she’s been seeing strange things, and she just got thrown out of a police station. In other words, she’s in no mood to meet the hero, but because I am an evil author, that’s exactly what’s about to happen:

Excerpt from The Beautiful Ashes, releasing in September 2014:

By the time I returned to the motel, several days of sleeplessness felt like it finally caught up with me. I entered my room and dropped my purse as though it were a fifty pound anchor, then flicked on the light.
Everything in me stiffened. The couch should’ve been empty, but it wasn’t. A man with hair the color of dark honey sat there, his large frame taking up most of the space. I thought he was another hallucination until he spoke. Hallucinations had never spoken to me before.
“Hi,” he said, his deep voice tinged with an emotion I couldn’t name. “Sorry to tell you, but you’re about to have a really bad night.”
I should turn around, open the door, and run, preferably while screaming. That was the only logical response, but I stood there, somehow unafraid of my intruder. Great. My survival instincts must’ve secretly made a suicide pact.
“If you knew the day I’d had, you’d realize that whatever you had planned could only make it better,” I heard myself reply.
A grin cocked the side of his mouth. Whatever response he’d been expecting, it hadn’t been that. Hell, I’d surprised myself. Guess my vocal cords were in on the death wish, too.

[Clapping, clapping] I’m so excited! Thank you for sharing.
What do you believe makes a man sexy?

Honesty. Even the most ripped abs can’t make up for a liar, in my opinion. A close second to that is a sense of humor. Life is hard sometimes, and a man who can help you smile through the pain is one you want to hold on to.

Of course, both those qualities along with a ripped set of abs doesn’t hurt, either ;-).

Amen, sister!  Thank you so much for answering my questions.  Looking forward to seeing you in Birmingham on November 2.

I [Carla] will be giving away an e-format copy of any of Jeaniene's books. Winner's choice - USA or International.  Be sure to comment by September 30.

Now for the dry but necessary rules. More times that you comment, the more entries you'll have in the drawing. You must be in the U.S. to win as it will be mailed to you. (There will be other prizes during the month eligible for international commenters to win.) Be sure to check back here tomorrow for the announcement of the winner and instructions on how to receive the book. You must follow the instructions before September 30 to receive the book. Void after that date.

In the month of September, we’re celebrating our Romance Readers Luncheon by giving away books and other goodies, including the grand prize of a Kindle Fire HD 7" Tablet. To win the tablet, be sure to comment throughout the month. On September 30, we'll draw from everyone who commented (exception: Southern Magic members and international commenters are ineligible - sorry) and announce the grand prize winner.

If you wish to attend the luncheon, be sure to register and pay before October 27 at

When: November 2, 2013, Saturday, 11 a.m.

Where: Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham, AL (free parking)

Who: The keynote speaker is NYT bestselling author Jeaniene Frost! The welcome speaker is NYT bestselling author Christy Reece who also writes as Ella Grace.

Why: We’ll be giving away lots of free books, and you’ll have opportunities to take home a basket full or more. Plus you’ll have a wonderful lunch with a published author. The list of authors can be found at

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Love Bites...Good Song, Too...

When I was younger, I wrote in my diary about how Eugene Dudley looked at me across a dinner of hamburger patties and corn at our after school program. And when he aimed the ball directly toward me during our evening kickball game just so I could catch it. Not Tammy Taylor. Me. Never mind that my sister would pick the lock on said diary and write her own opinions of my observations, I knew he had feelings for me. Or in the eighth grade when Michael Myler stole my language arts workbook and drew pictures of penises and “NKOTB Sucks!” in it. Sigh. It was just his singular way of articulating his love for me. Or in college when Tony Oh-My-God-You-Look-Just-Like-the-Guy-From-Bone-Thugs-‘n-Harmony asked me to braid his hair, I read between the lines. He wanted me…maybe not after he had to jump out of my dorm room window when the hair-braiding session ran a little long, and he landed face first in the mud… But before that? Oh yeah, we were meant for each other.

With some distance—and a degree in Psychology—I can tell these were definitely cases of grand, all-consuming love…on my part. But for Eugene, Michael and Tony? Hmmm. Not so much. Ah the pains of unrequited love. But also the joys. It’s that heart-pounding euphoria when you catch just a glimpse of him or—dear God!—he smiles at you or give you a friendly shoulder bump. Is it any wonder this is one of my favorite tropes? I’ve used the friends-to-lovers trope in a couple of my books--Bargain with the Beast from Ellora's Cave Publishing and Secrets and Sins: Gabriel from Entangled Publishing. But those endings emulate how I would’ve written my own real-life experiences. There’s the joyous discovery of friendship evolving into love, and the startling revelation that a perfect half was there all along waiting to be completed. And oh yes! Lotsa hot sex! Can’t forget that…

So here’re some famous couples who’ve bitten the bitter fruit of love unreciprocated. Well actually it tastes more like chicken…

Charlie Brown and that Little Redhead Girl – Apparently the Lil’ Redhead Girl doesn’t appreciate a man with a ginormous, uh, brain. Charlie Brown should just give it up and get with Peppermint Patty. Althooough, me thinks there’s a tad bit of ambiguity there…

Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxane – Cyrano should’ve went for it. He might’ve found Roxane would’ve loved him for his soul like she did Christian at the end. Worst case scenario, she rejected him, and he could’ve bopped her in the head with his nose.

The Little Mermaid and the Prince – Don’t get me started. She saved the prince’s life, was his dedicated companion, danced for him because it lightened his heart, even though every step was like daggers stabbing her feet. She gave up her family and voice. And this ingrate went and married some other chick who just showed up? I would’ve knifed him, got my tail back and hooked up with the first merman I swam into. Hmm…I see a storyline in my future…

Jacob and Bella – Jacob loved Bella but she fell for Edward, the sensitive, I’ll-tear-that-headboard-up vampire. So instead of just hooking up with another werewolf he bonds himself to Bella and Edwards’s offspring…That’s just a little bit creepy, dude. It’s like he said, I’d rather have half of Bella than none of her. Thing is, the other half is Edward. So that’s like the weirdest ménage ever!

And last but not least…

Me and Vin Diesel – Although I wouldn’t really call this unrequited because Vin does love me, he just can’t afford to let the world know because of his situation and my situation… So it’s just best if we keep our relationship on the DL…

Oh shoot! I gotta go now. For some reason there’s a sheriff with a restraining order at my door… I wonder whatever for…

But wait, before I’m outta here, I’m giving away any book from my Booklist to 2 commentors! I’ll randomly choose 2 winners on September 30th from anyone who leaves a comment about your own crush who ignored you or your favorite fiction or real life unrequited love couple! I think it’s only fair since I spilled my guts about the heaping amount of rejection in my young—emphasis on young—life! So go on! Dish! 

Also, don’t forget that every comment gains you another entry toward the grand prize at the end of the Blog Blast. The KINDLE FIRE HD! *Whoooo* *Ahhhhh*

 And the reason behind this whole hullabaloo? The Southern Magic Reader’s Luncheon!! With keynote speaker—wait for it, waaaiit for it—Jeaniene Frost! Oh my Lamb, yes! The Jeaniene Frost! Oh crap I see another restraining order in my future that will require my table to be at least one hundred feet away from hers…


What? Southern Magic Reader’s Luncheon 
When?  November 2, 2012
Who? NYT Bestselling author Jeaniene Frost as the keynote speaker, and NYT Bestselling author Christy Reece as the welcome speaker
Where? The Harbert Center, 2019 4th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203
Doors open at 11 AM. Handicap accessible and Parking is Free (across from the center)
How much? TICKETS:  $31.50 for non-members, $25.50 for members of Southern Magic. Please fill out the form and pay via PAYPAL at

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bucket List

As writers we're constantly told to write what we know, but I'm gonna have to admit that idea doesn't thrill me. My life is boring and no one wants to relive my daily life...not even me. I much prefer the fantasy worlds I build in my head and I hope my readers do too. However, every once and awhile something amazing happens.

Today I'm on my way home from a trip I've been planning for over five years. I've been lucky enough to visit Italy, Scotland and the Caribbean before, but I've always dreamed of going to Ireland. It's the land of my ancestors and something about it has always called to me. and since I refuse to be the kind of person who always dreams and talks but later regrets that I never did, I decided to go.

In the last two weeks I've crossed more things off my bucket list than I thought possible - kissing the Blarney Stone, walking around Stonehenge and climbing the Eiffel Tower to name just a few. I laughed, was brought to tears by the greatness of the people who came before me and just reveled in the opportunity to share the experience with great friends.

When I finally get back to my computer (after the jet lag has worn off and my brain is functioning again) I'll have new and amazing experiences to draw from. Those details, places and experiences will definitely show up on a page somewhere - in a heroine who spent a month in Paris finding herself, a brash and charming Irish hero with dancing blue eyes and a greater appreciation for the history that surrounds us all. I'm so grateful I had the opportunity to live out one of my dreams! What's next to get checked off your bucket list?

Don't forget, one commenter today will win a signed set of my Sweetheart, South Carolina series and one lucky US commenter will win a Kindle Fire on September 30th.

And be sure to check out the Southern Magic Readers' Luncheon coming up Nov 2nd. I always love attending the event, but this year i have to confess I'll probably have a fan girl moment of my own when I meet Jeaniene Frost. Come and join the fun!

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Daydreams Come True!

Ever since I can remember, daydreaming has been part of who I am. I still recall, when I was fourteen years old, my mom caught me making out with my pillow. She gave me the most perplexed look imaginable, and asked (truly puzzled), “What are you doing?” She got a lot of “uhs” and “ums” as I tried to convince her how wonderful the new detergent smelled. To this day, I hope she never guessed that I was picturing a muscular hottie as I clutched that pillow.

But daydreams like this are the least notable among the literally thousands I’ve ever had.  I daydream ALL the time. Every day without fail! And when I say that many of my daydreams have shaped my life into what it is, I assure you, it’s no exaggeration. So after many years of successful daydreaming, the process has become an indispensable tool to set and attain my goals.

Now, I must clarify, when I say daydreaming I don’t mean the random thoughts that pop into everyone’s mind when stuck in traffic.

"Wow, look at that billboard. Powerball’s up to $53 million. Man, all the things I could do with that. Oooh, maybe I’ll buy a car like that one. Umph, I sure wouldn’t give a red cent to Uncle Bob. I wonder if he still sells dope. I can’t believe I actually bought some from him…"

No, that’s not what I’m talking about. Certainly, I still have random daydreams. I’m sure our minds wander in this fashion for a reason (i.e. to stay sane.) What I’m talking about is something more elaborate—something that, through the years, I’ve learned has power, something I like to call Focused Daydreaming and others—especially those in sports—may call visualization.
Focused Daydreaming is a detailed and driven exercise in which I like to play-act my deepest wishes. These daydreams are staged and acted out with painstaking accuracy. They have imaginary characters with names, people I hold conversations with, people who call me on my imaginary finger-phone and give me good news. They take place on the streets of cities I want to visit where I talk in languages I don’t even know. And in the end of each daydream, I get exactly what I want, though not until I’ve imagined all the steps needed to take me there.
You might think this is crazy, and maybe it is, but I tell you, many of my focused daydreams have actually come true.
When I was fifteen years old, I daydreamed of learning a foreign language. The whole idea was exciting to me. I thought it would be so cool to be able to travel and meet other people who were different from me. I imagined what it would take to learn a foreign language: teachers, classmates, even exams. I listened to foreign music—with lyrics that made no sense at all—and sang along, pretending I understood every single word. I had imaginary foreign friends who were awesome-cool and invited me to do fun things with them. In short, I psyched myself up so much that when the opportunity presented itself to enroll in a language school, I was primed and ready to take it. The opportunity didn’t pass me by as it would have if I hadn’t been ready.  I recognized it for what it was immediately, and I took it. No hesitation. Eighteen months later, I was fluent in another language.
Then there was that crazy period during high school when I daydreamed about going to college overseas. I imagined the awesome campus, the large auditorium classes, the dorms, the graduation, and the ear-splitting cries of students on game day. Everything! I swear I could practically smell all the yummy, tailgating food. Yep, once more I was psyched over the prospect. So I maintained good grades and kept practicing said foreign language. When destiny came knocking at my door, I was ready. To be honest, by that point, I was sure I had earned it. Hell, I even deserved it.
It is no surprise, that with all this daydreaming practice, I eventually turned to writing. I guess it’s just natural. I have to put all that imagination to good use, don’t you think? J So, it’s in this area where—of late—my daydreams have concentrated. Now, you can probably imagine how my daydreams go in that department.  It’s pretty much like this: I write an awesome book, I get an agent, I find a publisher, I sell millions, and I walk the red carpet! The works!
I’m not so crazy to think all of this will come true, however I know that if the opportunity parades itself in front of me, I will be more than ready to take it by the horns and wrestle it to the ground. I’m honing my skills; I’m learning the ropes; I’m connecting with my readers; I’m loving every minute of it! And—no doubt—I’m ready.
You may not think any of these accomplishments amount to much, but maybe you’ll think differently when you know that I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to loving, hard-working parents. I grew up in a 600 sq. ft. house, rode three buses to get to school, and counted, among my few prized possessions, a used Walkman (Man, I loved that thing!) and a pair of hand-me-down Kangaroo tennis shoes. My mother tongue is Spanish and remained the primary one until I was twenty. I earned a scholarship to go to language school when I was fifteen, and after two years of college in Honduras, I earned a Fulbright scholarship for entry into Louisiana State University where I graduated with honors. I taught myself how to write in English and published my debut novel this year. 
There is no doubt in my mind that daydreams played a huge part in letting me accomplish all of this, and they will continue to do so. To borrow from Michael Jordan: “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”
Daydreaming is my way of setting goals, plus it is fun. What is yours?
And, yes, I did marry a muscular hottie :)

*** Giveaways ***

Hey, everyone who participates and leaves a comment will be entered in 2 awesome giveaways. One for a Kindle Fire HD 7" Tablet which will be given away on September 30th among all those who participate.

Another for a eCopy of my New Adult contemporary novel “The GuysAre Props Club” and a $10 Amazon Gift Card which I will give away on September 28th. So don’t miss the chance to tell me about your daydreams ;) You can leave your twitter account or email address, and I'll contact you if you win!

*** Luncheon ***

As a member of Southern Magic, I’d also like to invite you to our Romance Readers Luncheon. You can learn about this wonderful event here: Our keynote speaker will be NYT bestselling author Jeaniene Frost! The welcome speaker is NYT bestselling author Christy Reece. Don’t miss it. It will be much fun. We’ll give away lots of free books, you’ll enjoy great food and will have the chance to meet published authors.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Letting Go is Hard to Do!

Letting Go

Letting go is hard for me. It always has been. I am all about the status quo. If it were up to me, football season and Christmas would last forever. My godchild, Precious Angel, would still be in tenth grade because that was the best year. (He was playing varsity sports and going to cotillion dances but he still needed me to drive around.) If I’d ever had one, I’d probably still be using a bag phone.
And if I love the status quo, Stephanie worships it.
So it’s no surprise that the thought leaving Merritt, Alabama, where the Gone South series is set, made us a little teary eyed. With the third book in the can and due out November 4 and the fourth (and last) one half written, the clock is ticking. I can see why some writers overstay their welcome in a series. First, sales and reviews are good and that’s heady. Second, we were lucky enough to be chosen to write a short story set in Merritt for an anthology, so we became just a little more immersed in the world. Third, readers are asking for Missy’s story.

Now, Missy doesn’t have a story. She is the happily married linchpin of a group of women friends who make up the heroines in the series. Missy is bossy, opinionated, and—more times than not—way off base. But she always shows up with her big heart and she will pick her friends up out of the dirt and wash them in her own tears. I can understand why a reader would want to hear more about her. Someone even suggested that we kill off her husband and write a second love story.

No. We are not killing off long suffering Harris Bragg.

Determined not to be that writer who produced book number 149 in a series because we couldn’t get a grip, Stephanie and I had already developed a new plan with our plotting partner the Fabulous Lynn Raye Harris. Four brothers. Lots of baggage. Lots of testosterone. Dangerous jobs. Yeah. We were excited.

Still. Hard. Then Stephanie found a way to make it a little easier. This summer at conference, she had been to a workshop where she got a germ of an idea. (Yeah, we go to workshops.)

Why not make our new heroes Missy Bragg’s cousins? The series is new and set in Tennessee, so it would definitely not be Gone South/Merritt centric, but we could check in with Missy every once in a while.

As a bonus, we were able to give our readers a little taste of the Beauford brothers in “Slugger Gone South”, our story in the baseball anthology, Take Me Out, due out October 28.

Sometimes the best way to let go is to hang on—just a little.

Are you sad when your book or series ends? Or are you just glad it’s over?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Misty the bloodhound and Can’t Help Falling in Love by Cheryl Harper

I’m one of those people: a true-blue dog person. I grew up in a house with beagles. I believe Jake was intended to be a hunting dog, but once I begged long and hard to move them into the house, JJ (or Jake Junior) and Pepper (because we discovered how I struggle to name things) became lap dogs. While I love most fuzzy creatures, I’m a sucker for dogs. As soon as I moved into my first apartment, I adopted a rescue from the local Humane Society. This was not what you’d call a wise decision at twenty-three, but for fourteen years Darcy was a blessing through some really tough times. And I still miss her, even though my current dog Jack, rescued from the middle of the road while he was carrying every pest known to man, is both comic relief and chief encourager. He refuses to accessorize like Misty.

Misty the bloodhound and her owner Willodean Jackson are what make the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel, the setting for Can’t Help Falling in Love, special. Sure, there’s some Elvis, but the two of them make the hotel a home for people who really need it. Undercover hotel heiress Randa Whitmore and tough-guy manager Tony Ortega don’t quite trust each other, but they both love Misty. Would you like to meet her?

Sam nodded as she waved and she stopped to absorb the lobby of the Rock'n'Rolla. It was green. Really, really green. And not like green paint or carpet. Green like the rainforest. Plants exploded along one wall of the lobby and she could hear the faint trickle of a waterfall. Heavy wood chairs were scattered around and the floors and walls were some kind of natural stone. What she could see of them. She could feel the cool stone through her shoes and she wanted to sigh with relief.
But she was distracted because right in the middle of the lobby floor was what appeared to be a dead dog. Well, not dead, but surely dead to the world. Every now and then the loose lips would twitch. Randa approached it carefully because while she loved dogs, she didn't really have much practical experience. Dogs didn't work with the all-white, all-designer, all-expensive Whitmore design aesthetic. Her mother had told her that often enough. Eventually, Randa had stopped asking.
Randa squatted and teetered on her four-inch heels for a minute before she reached out to pet the dog’s long, silky brown ears. Little green bows fluttered as the dog drowsily stretched and moved closer to her. She knew she was wearing a stupid grin, but the softness of his—no, her droopy ears—and the satisfied "hmph" she let out before she went back to sleep were reasons to smile. Randa didn't care who saw it.

For a chance to win Can’t Help Falling in Love, leave a comment to let me know about your favorite pet. And for more chances to win this book or Stuck on You, the first full-length story set at the Rock'n'Rolla hotel, visit for a list of other blog giveaways and information on the final Rock'n'Rolla Hotel book, Santa, Bring My Baby Back, coming in December.

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And  a link if needed:

The staff of Cheryl Harper’s Elvis-themed Rock’n'Rolla Hotel are back with a funny, fresh romance
that goes undercover—under the covers!

As a former Marine, hotel manager Tony Ortega has plenty of experience assessing threats, and the hotel’s newest guest, Randa Whitmore, is a code red. Tall, blonde, and with legs for miles, she may look like his every fantasy, but he knows she’s not really visiting for the famed Elvis Week. Though dangerously drawn to his new guest, Tony will do anything to protect his job . . . especially if it means sleeping with the enemy.

Business strategist Randa Whitmore never meant to be undercover in Memphis. In August. Sweating her expensive spa treatments away. But snagging another perfect hotel location for her father’s empire means using all the tricks in her designer arsenal. And even though the sexy, tattooed manager seems oblivious to her charms, Randa’s prepared to bring out the big guns—just so long as she can stay objective and out of Tony’s muscled arms. After all, it’s just business, right?

Whether she's writing, reading, or just checking the items off of her daily to-do list, Cheryl Harper loves her romance mixed with a little laughter. When she's not working, you will find her ignoring housework, cursing yard work, and spending way too much time with a television remote in her hand.

Twitter: @CherylHarperBks
Barnes and Noble:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Embracing My Dark Side

You might want to sit down. I have a shocking confession to make. I’m a Regency Romance writer who can’t seem to keep my Regency Romances light and fluffy. I start to write with a witty, romp-around-the ballroom plot in mind, and I end up with complex characters facing problems that force them to confront their past and overcome whatever is holding them back from revealing their souls, offering their hearts and falling in love.

After years of trying to force my voice and my plots to something lighter that it truly wasn’t, I got brave and accepted the fact I’m never going to be a wallpaper Regency writer. Not that there is a thing wrong with lighter Regencies, I’m just not the gal to deliver them.

I need conflict, angst, torturous emotions, turbulent times, and heart-wrenching sacrifices. Did I mention I also love to kill people? Who needs therapy when you’re a writer! I have to admit I was a bit scared to unleash my Regencies that contained mayhem, murder and mischievous heroines and heroes determined to do anything to get what they wanted.

In the critique group I dwell in and love, most of my partners write much lighter Regencies than I do, so I spent a long time fretting over what was wrong with my books. I can’t point to one moment of epiphany where I realized my voice was darker and I needed to accept and treasure it. I will say, I read several amazing, very successful Regency authors who wrote darker Regencies and I do believe finding these authors helped me to realize what was holding back my success was, well, me. I also had/have two particularly wonderful critique partners who pushed and prodded me to go with my gut and stay true to my story.

I’ve been thrilled beyond words that the Regency readers out there have accepted my stories with enthusiasm. I now know when I sit down to write my books that one―no matter what I think, something dark is always going to happen, and two―you can bet the bank that someone is going to die.
My favorite hero I’ve created to date is Gray Adlard from What A Rogue Wants. He’s a spy for King George III who is burdened with the guilt of having purposely rebelled against every wish his father had for him because Gray thought his father didn’t love him. The problem is that Gray doesn’t realize, until his father is dead, what drove his father to act the way he did. Gray’s determined to make amends to a ghost by being the best damned spy possible, even if it means tracking the woman he loves for treason.
Here is a little snippet from my guilt-laden hero’s point of view.

Gray didn’t know where he intended to go until he was halfway up the hill to the orchard where Edward had buried their parents. He stopped in front of the fresh graves, the dark dirt dusted with white snow. His lungs burned with each ragged inhalation of breath. He dropped to his knees in front of the graves, the snow instantly seeping through the wool of his trousers. After a moment, the lower half of his body was numb.
He wanted to be numb and forget his parents were dead. He’d not been close to Mother in years. His father never. The weight of his fault sunk him all the way to the ground. A violent trembling shook his body, and his teeth chattered, until he clamped his jaw shut. He’d missed the chance to tell his parents he was sorry for the pain and worry he’d caused them. He’d missed the chance to show his father that his trust had not been misplaced.
What could he do now? He let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, a white ring against the dark night. The thoughts he’d pushed away earlier when speaking with Edward came to the surface. He winced, reality setting in. He had to give up the one thing he had come to want more than anything in his life. Madelaine. He didn’t want to endanger her, and he could never turn his back on what his father had expected him to do. It seemed what he wanted and what life gave him would forever be at cross purposes. Leaning over, he lay his hand first on his mother’s cold headstone and then on his father’s. “I’ll make you proud.”

Being a lover of the dark and dangerous, it’s only natural that I stumbled across Jeaniene Frost and fell absolutely in love with her stories. You can’t ask for more complex, angst ridden characters than Bones and Cat! I’m so excited that Ms. Frost is the keynote speaker at my local RWA chapter, Southern Magic’s, annual Reader Luncheon.

To celebrate the Luncheon on November 2nd Southern Magic is giving away a Kindle HD Fire. Winner announced Sept 30. The more comments you leave throughout the month the better your chances of winning.
And I’m celebrating the luncheon by hosting a table there and by giving away a copy of my book What A Rogue Wants. The winner can pick between an ebook copy or a hard copy! Simply comment on this blog and leave your name and your email. Sorry, but I cannot mail books outside of the United States, but I will be more than happy to send the ebook anywhere your little old heart desires!
Find out about the luncheon here.

Location: The Harbert Center, 2019 4th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203

Doors open at 11 AM. Handicap accessible and Parking is Free (across from the center)

TICKETS: $31.50 for non-members, $25.50 for members of Southern Magic. Please fill out the form and pay via PAYPAL (click on the link here to find all of these:  Southern Magic Readers Luncheon) and remember to direct it to

Now go cuddle up with a twisting, turning Regency that sports a soul baring hero and heroine!

Julie Johnstone

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Does being Selfpublished feel like being a real writer?


I have to admit, it really does.  Especially when I received my Create Space Proof a few days ago.  It’s the strangest feeling in the world (a good strange) to see my story and characters in paperback.  Does it matter that there’s no publisher’s logo or Bestselling author blurb under my name.  Not a bit.  Feels real to me.

Even stranger than seeing the paperback or downloading my mobi file to my Kindle, is logging into KDP select and seeing that over twelve thousand people have downloaded my story.  Does it matter those downloads happen on the freebie days? Not a bit. Twelve thousand copies of my book are floating out there.  Maybe they’ll read them, maybe they won’t.
                    Gasp, what if they actually read it and…what if they don’t like it?
            You know what’s even stranger than seeing your story for sale on Amazon? Logging in and finding out people have not only read it they’ve reviewed it.  OMGH, reviews?  Oh, wait, they liked it.  They really liked it.  Oh, well, ok this person didn’t but they didn’t like one of my favorite books so no worries.  Oh wait three stars?  How dare they give my book only three stars? No wait, they said they liked my voice and can’t wait to see more from me.  I love those three stars!!!
            Ok, stop, I’m not supposed to read reviews.  Oh cool, look this girl hated it and she even uploaded an animated gif to demonstrate why. Visual aids? How cool is that? And she was one of the people I gave a free copy to review so that throws out the old chestnut about giving free copies to reviewers on Goodreads will get you five star reviews. 
            Seriously, the reviews have been a blast.  I’ve been overwhelmed (and a little suspicious) by all the praise  (I never believe it when anyone complements me) but also not upset by the negative reviews.  The negative reviews have actually been really helpful.  I knew going into this not everyone would like it. I didn't expect the negative reviews to be a good thing too. 
            Then there's social media.  I can't tell you how great it feels when you get a Tweet from a complete stranger telling you that they loved you book. That's about as real as it gets.
 So do I feel like a real writer? Absolutely. Now I have real readers (and a real editor, who is amazing).  And that is all kinds of awesome! (esp the animated gifs. I love that.)
So now the good stuff:
To celebrate the Luncheon on November 2nd where…gasp...Jeaniene Frost is speaking.  (I’m going to try very hard not to go all fangirl).  Southern Magic is giving away a Kindle HD Fire. Winner announced Sept 30.   The more comments you leave throughout the month the  better your chances of winning.
For my daily giveaway I'm offering a $15 gift card to Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Don’t forget the SouthernMagic Reader’s Luncheon on November 2, 2012
Jeaniene Frost is the keynote speaker but there are other wonderful authors speaking.  More info here.

Location: The Harbert Center, 2019 4th Ave. N., Birmingham, AL 35203
Doors open at 11 AM. Handicap accessible and Parking is Free (across from the center)

TICKETS:  $31.50 for non-members, $25.50 for members of Southern Magic. Please fill out the form and pay via PAYPAL (click on the link here to find all of these:  Southern Magic Readers Luncheon) and remember to direct it to

Hope to see you there!

 About Lexxi
Lexxi Callahan writes contemporary romance novels set in and around the New Orleans area. Book 1 in the Southern Style series was released in June 2013 and has been described as sweet yet smutty, which Lexxi thinks is awesome! Her Southern Style series has alpha heroes and intelligent heroines that learn quickly just how to keep them in line. While anything can happen in New Orleans, you probably won't find a vampire, shifter, or billionaire into BDSM in Lexxi's world but you will find chefs, self made business men, smoking hot cajuns, bikers (oh yeah, there will be bikers), musicians, rock stars and strait laced attorneys that need undoing. You can sign up for Lexxi's newsletter on her website Lexxi stays online so you can usually find her at @callahanlexxie or Lex Callahan on Facebook. She'd love to hear from you.