Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Adios, August!

Yipee! My least favorite month of the year is over! In fact, I think we should outlaw August and instead have two Octobers (my favorite month).

To celebrate the end of August, I'm giving away a copy of Michael Lee West's Gone With A Handsomer Man. I was cleaning out my closet and found an extra copy I'd bought to give away that I had forgotten about. I love Michael Lee's voice. It's been a long time since a writer charmed me the way she does. If you'd like a copy of Gone With A Handsomer Man just post here. I'll draw the winner tomorrow.

Ahh, another eleven months August free. What about you? What month do you hate most? Which one is your favorite?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Autumn Dreams

I don't know about you, but autumn can't come soon enough for me. It's my favorite time of year, probably because it's such a welcome relief from the intense Texas summer heat. Still over a 100 degrees around here, but I'm having autumn dreams.

I love being able to wear sweaters again. Thick and warm and soft.

There's the sound of football. Clashing cleats and smacking chest pads. The grunts of defensive lineman. The cheer of the crowd. The referee's whistle.

There's the State Fair with carnival rides and midways. Games of chance and blue ribbon crafts.

There's fall harvest. Crunchy pecans in their cracking jackets.

And bright orange pumpkins just waiting to be turned into Jack-o-lanterns or pumpkin pie.

And let's talk about all the cold weather food we can eat again. Spicy chili and homemade cornbread.

Candied apples crisp and sticky sweet.

Apple pies with perfectly flaky crust.

And hot apple cider.

Don't forget hearty pot roast.

To my husband, fall means hunting season.

And smoky campfires.

To kids and moms it means back to school.

The sights and smells and tastes and sounds and textures of autumn. Ahhh. Autumn makes me think warm and safe and cozy and home and hearth.

What does autumn mean to you?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Winner of How to Write Like a Dick

Phyllis, you won the drawing for an ebook copy of Colleen's book. To claim your prize, email me @

How to Write a Dick

Today, we have a guest blogger. Welcome writer and private investigator, Colleen Collins. If you have any PI specifc questions, throw them Colleen's way. I'll be drawing a name from the commentors to win an ebook copy of How to Write a Dick.

From Romance to Surveillance or How Harlequin Made Me Into a Private Eye

By Colleen Collins, co-author of How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths 

Kindle: Nook:

Once upon a time, I wrote romance novels.

I sold my first book, a romantic comedy titled Right Chest, Wrong Name, in 1996 to Harlequin’s Love & Laughter series. The following year, I sold them my second book, Right Chapel, Wrong Couple. Then the series closed.

But all was not lost. My editor informed me the Love & Laughter series was morphing into another series called Duets, which packaged two romantic comedy books into one. Cool! I wrote six books for the Duets series. Then the series closed.

I’ll spare you, dear reader, a lot of meshugas (craziness) about the writing life and the rollercoaster world of book publishing and sum up the next eight years with these words: the next two series I wrote for closed as well.

The day the fourth series closed was also the day my boyfriend learned that due to his company downsizing, his job was cut.

Standing in the backyard, staring into each other’s eyes, I uttered the words that would shape our future.“Let’s start a private investigations business.”

Harlequin was, in a roundabout way, forcing me into a life of crime. Investigating crime, that is. But this idea wasn’t my acting out some unfulfilled Emma Peel in The Avengers fantasy. I actually had a logical, practical reason. For months I’d been telling my boyfriend -- a legal researcher and former trial attorney who’d trained many private investigators -- that he’d make a dynamite legal investigator. After all, he had the expertise and contacts, and now he had plenty of time on his hands, too.

On the other hand, I needed to learn the PI biz from the gumshoes up.

Over the following months, I immersed myself learning about private investigations. I took a course taught by a well-respected PI. I read books on various aspects of investigations, from how to conduct background checks to conducting surveillances. The two of us attended private investigators’ conferences where we networked with other PIs, tested investigative equipment and attended workshops. My boyfriend mentored me on the finer aspects of conducting interviews, researching public records, interpreting civil and criminal court files, skip tracing, due diligence and other background searches and more.

Fortunately, we live in one of the five states that do not require PIs to be licensed, so when the cases started rolling in, we started working them.

Certain investigative tasks come more easily to me because of my writing career. For example, I find it easy to conduct long, stationary surveillances – a talent undoubtedly honed from sitting at the computer for hours, staring into nothingness as I imagine plots and characters. Lawyers and others associated with the justice system often need to find lost/missing people, a task that requires pulling together threads of people’s lives through research, interviews, databases and logic.

For me, piecing together a person’s history, personality and traits is similar to building a character from an idea to a three-dimensional entity.

Just as I dug for information as a writer, I learned to dig for information as a private investigator. Sometimes this digging means getting down and dirty in people’s trash. I’ve dug through, picked apart and photographed more debris from people’s lives than a Hollywood gossip columnist rummaging through celebrity dreck. If you want to learn about people, check out the refuse of their lives!

At the start of our PI business, writer pals would sometimes call with questions about their stories. Soon other writers began contacting us. This led to our teaching online classes and presenting workshops at writers’ conferences. Then we started a blog (Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes) geared to writers developing sleuth characters and stories. Eventually, we co-authored How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths.

A few years ago, my boyfriend and I eloped. Just because the girl segued from romance writing to private investigating doesn’t mean she’s cut the romance out of her PI life.I suppose I have Harlequin to thank for that, too.

Colleen Collins co-owns Highlands Investigations & Legal Services, Inc. in Denver, Colorado. She and her sleuth-husband’s non-fiction book How to Write a Dick: a Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths is available on:

Kindle: Nook:

Got any questions for Colleen about PIs? She's got some doozy stories about the life of a PI. Comment here and you'll be in the drawing to win a copy of How to Write a Dick.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Do You Believe in Psychic Phenomena?

I'm taking a class in parapsychology for my masters degree. It's an exploration of psychic phenomena. In the class, you have to take a stance, either believer or skeptic and then write a paper supporting your opinion. I thought it might be fun to ask my readers if they were believers or skeptics. If you believe, which elements of psi do you believe in?


What about psychics?


Precognitive dreams?

A Parallel Universe?

Extra Sensory Perception?

Past lives?

Mental Telepathy?

Me? As a writer, I've experienced some weird instances where I write about something and then it happens, but I prefer to think of that as some kind of deeply creative soup. I'm actually on the fence about the whole psi thing, leaning more toward skeptic than believer, but there's a part of me that loves to think, what if?

Do you believe in some psi but not others? For instance I'm more likely to believe in ESP, than ghosts. You know, when you think of someone and they call? Or you visualize a parking spot and boom, there is is. I love the idea of past lives, but don't really believe in it.

If you're s skeptic, does part of you really want to believe in something beyond your five senses? Or are you bone deep scientific and require indesputable proof before you believe?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't Mess With Texas!

My dear friend, Christi Craig, has had quite a week. Her new book, Don't Mess with Texas, came out on Tuesday.

She also found herself in an unexpected bit of hot water from the Texas Department of Transportation.

Obviously, Christi can't talk about this, but I sure can crow about my friend's wonderful book. I loved the novel when I read it in manuscript form and I stand by my cover quote about Christi's exciting new series.

"Hold onto your Stetsons...A thrill-ride of hunky heroes, hilarious high jinks, and heartwarming romance."

I'm putting my money where my mouth is. From now through Saturday night, if you buy a copy of Christi's book, I'll send you a free autographed copy of one of my books. You can chose from one of the books below.

1)The Welcome Home Garden Club (Avon)
2)The First Love Cookie Club (Avon)
3)The True Love Quilting Club (Avon)
4)By Inviation Only (Harlequin Blaze)
5)High Stakes Seduction (Harlequin Blaze)
6)Sweet Surrender (Harlequin Blaze)

Or, if you'd like to get on a waiting list for one of my three upcoming ebook novellas (out in November and December) from Avon Impulse in the continuation of the Twilight, Texas series, you can do that too.

Honor system here, folks. Just buy Christi's book and email me @ before midnight on Saturday night and I'll send you the book of your choice. Hurry. Offer ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on Sat. August 27th.

Offer open only to residents of the US and Canada.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cactus Cake

So the clone has been busy in the kitchen again, making up a recipe for cactus cake for the third book in my Jubilee, Texas series. I don't know what I'd do without her help. Here's the recipe she created for my pastry chef heroine, Lissette Moncrief.

Cactus Cake
1/3 cup
1 3/4 cups
1 1/3 cups
3 tsp
1/2 tsp
1/2 cup
1/2 tsp
1/2 cup
Soft butter
Brown sugar
Baking powder
Grated nutmeg
peeled and chopped prickly pear cactus


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour pan. Put ingredients in a bowl and beat all together for three minutes, pour into pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.

So what's your favorite baked goods? Breads? Cakes? Pies? Cookies? Me, I'm a cookie girl. Chocolate Chips hands down favorite. But, hey, I didn't have to cook it and that cactus cakes tastes really good. Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Claim Your Free Book!

                    Happy Release Week to Rita Henuber

Yesterday, one of my most talented student's debut novel was released from Carina Press in ebook form. I had the pleasure of seeing this book go from raw first draft to accomplished published novel. I feel like a proud auntie. To help Rita celebrate the release of her book Under Fire, I'm having a special giveaway.

Coast Guard helicopter pilot Olivia Carver is on a very personal mission. Her twin brother, an undercover officer, was murdered by a drug cartel and she won't stop until she finds the man responsible for his death.

In the course of her own investigation, Olivia meets informant Rico Cortes. He's mysterious and sexy and despite her reservations, the two share a night of passion. But Rico turns out to be more than a one-night stand. He's a DEA agent, deep undercover in Miami's drug world, and possibly the one man who can help Olivia find the justice she seeks.

When Rico realizes his cover is blown, he isn't sure whether it was someone in the cartel or an inside agent. Olivia is the only one he can trust and together they venture on a dangerous, rogue mission to infiltrate a drug lord's inner circle…with Olivia as bait.

Buy the Kindle version @

Here's the giveaway. If you buy a copy of Rita's ebook, I'll send you a copy of one of my following books, your pick.

1)The Welcome Home Garden Club
2)The First Love Cookie Club (mass market or trade size, your choice)
3)By Invitation Only (my latest Blaze.)

This is on the honor system, so if you've bought Rita's book, just email me at to claim your free novel.

Happy reading!

Monday, August 22, 2011

What's On Your Desk?

What do you keep on your desk? Besides the usual things like computers, Ipad, office supplies, books and manuscripts in progress, I have on my desk...

Noise cancelling headphones.

Red, heart-shaped beads I got on a trip to New Orleans.

Family photos.

My writing and running trophies. (Bit of ego, I know)

A miniature pink cowboy hat.

What about you? What personal items do you have on your desk?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just for Fun


I ran across this somewhere and thought it was fun to share. Now, I didn't use this when I was picking my pen name. Lori Wilde was bestowed upon me by Birgit Davis-Todd from Harlequin. My real first name is Laurie, but apparently Laurie is too old-fashioned. "Lori," I was told, "is hipper."

Then I learned that Lori was one of the top 5 names of playboy playmates, so how could I argue with that for hipness? (I still like Laurie better, but even my husband calls me Lori now.)

Anyway, here's how to pick your romance novelist pen name. For your first name, take the name of your first pet. Mine was gray dachsund named Smokey.

For the last name take the name of the street where you lived when you were born. For me, that was Vine Street.

So instead of Lori Wilde, I would be Smokey Vine. Hmm, that sounds like a Rastafarian name to me. LOL. Maybe I should send Birgit a thank you letter for Lori Wilde.

(I also heard another version of this where you pick your maternal grandmother's first name and the street you live on now. In that case, I'd be Glenna Valley. Lori Wilde is still winning.)

So how about you? Given either perimeter, what would be your romance novelist pen name?