Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Why or why not?

Hey, gang! Hope you're having a good week.

I check in over at the discussion boards almost every day (it's a good way to spend my lunch--no turning on the TV or my time management schedule is doomed!). And on the site this year, is sponsoring something called the 10,000 book challenge, in which teams of readers have pledged to read 10,000 books (not necessarily all Harlequins, and certainly not all new/current releases) over the course of 2007. Last year they had individual pledges from readers to read 100 books and it was a smashing success. They encourage those readers to then blog about the books they've read. (I'm sharing the details in case anyone is interested in checking out reader opinions on a huge range of books)

As I skimmed through some of those blogs (no way could I read them all! How cool that there are so many intelligent, energized super readers out there!), an interesting discussion I came across was on how one reader can read a book and say wow, it's a keeper--and recommend it to a friend--and that same friend can read the very same book and just say okay. And vice versa.

So what is it that makes a book become a keeper for you? What makes it a classic for one person, but only a pleasant diversion or even a pet peeve for someone else?

Of course, there are personal tastes involved. Some readers like lots of steam or more realistic violence and are hard to shock, while others prefer a tamer read. Some like more mystery with their suspense, while others lean toward the thriller end of things. Some are into feel-good comedies; others prefer emotional angst. But assuming that a friend knows your general taste in books, what makes the difference between wow and ho-hum for you?

Is it your particular mood at the time you're reading the book? Have you read so many books that it's hard to surprise you anymore? Is it the characterizations? The tone of the writing? Are there certain topics/storylines that make you squirm?

I, for example, love JANE EYRE. It's my favorite classic romance. I love the strong heroine who overcomes adversity and winds up with a stronger spirit and the ability to not settle for less than happiness in the end. Look at what I write--I, of course, love a dark, tortured, brooding hero (who, incidentally, is smart enough to know a real woman when he sees her--whether she's plain or not, he sees her spirit and intelligence and falls in love despite himself) like Edward Rochester. But others think it's a snoozer. I suppose what draws me to that book are the characterizations, the passion hidden beneath the mores of the time period, and the tone/atmosphere of the setting.

So...what makes a book really memorable for you?

Stay warm!
(We're having more snow and ice and COLD! here in Nebraska)

Julie Miller

Monday, January 29, 2007

Movie Monday!

Sorry I'm a late blogger today but I was up late watching the SAG awards last night. (No, I didn't win one for my middle-aged belly ). I'm so excited that Little Miss Sunshine won best ensemble cast! What a special and wonderful movie.

Are you excited about the Oscars? I am! You have just under four weeks to see the movies and choose your favorites. I'm leaning toward The Queen but I haven't seen The Departed or Babel yet. However, I convinced my son to get a job at a movie theatre so I can see free movies! Which movie are you hoping will win Best Picture?

Pat White

The American Temp and the British Inspector, Harlequin Intrigue

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brains, Blogs and Buns :-)

Mallory Kane here:
Julie talked yesterday about brains, particularly authors' brains. Interesting subject and one that I ponder fairly regularly. I have always been a 'pantser.' But in trying to write 3 books a year for Intrigue I came to realize I didn't have the luxury of allowing the book to meander around until I figured out what the story was. I envy those writers whose brains allow them to 'pants' without wasting a lot of time. These days I use my synopsis to guide my story.
I do a lot of what I call plotting while I'm writing my synopsis. Those writers who are true plotters would not be impressed with what I'm referring to as plot. Sometimes all I have at certain points in my synopsis is the equivalent of "they do some stuff, and then..." but the inciting events and the stakes-raisers that I come up with help me to solidify the story in my brain so I can stay on track.
The second part of my subject was blogs. I'm really enjoying this method of blogging -- thanks Pat White! I work well with a schedule, so Thursdays are great for me. And once-weekly blogging is helping me ease into the habit. I'm not sure I'll ever be one of those people who can share news and thoughts and ideas every single day. But I am definitely liking this.
BUNS: Is this the cooking portion of the show? No. I was going for alliteration in the title of my post, and since Julie was talking about plotters and pantsers (those who write 'by the seat of their pants'), I added the word Buns as a colorful synonym. It's an important concept for me-- planting these buns in a chair and writing. I find that after about 2 hours of writing I'm ready to get up and run errands or play with my paper crafts or watch HGTV or Law & Order--anything other than writing for another two hours. I'm trying to train my buns to stay in the chair (actually on the couch with pillows and my laptop) longer.
The book I'm working on is a lot of fun, and that does help the 'restless buns' situation. I call it HEATHERS meets Jessica Fletcher.
The story is about FBI agent Laurel Gillespie, who reluctantly returns to her home town for her 10th high school reunion and discovers that a suicide that happened on her graduation night may have been murder. The rude clique of Cool Girls that made a lot of kids' lives miserable in high school (including hers) are under suspicion until one of their own is murdered.
Then suddenly, Laurel is the target and she must work with the Chief of Police in Dusty Springs, to find the murderer without getting herself killed. Cade Dupree is not only Police Chief, he's also the guy she had a major crush on in high school. Now to her dismay, she finds that all those feelings are still there. As they are forced closer and closer together because of the danger stalking Laurel, she has to admit that her crush has turned into love.
This book, tentatively titled MALICIOUS INTENT, is scheduled for mid-2008.
This week is a big week for my parents. Both their birthdays are this week. My mother's on the 23rd and my father's on the 26th. They are 85 and 87. Isn't that amazing? I feel so fortunate to still have them around and so thankful they're still in good health and enjoying life!
Until next time...

Mallory Kane

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Attack of the Twin Brains

Okay, so I'm a fan of 1950's sci-fi movies. Actually, my hubby is, but after almost 20 years of marriage, I've learned to become one, too. Some of the old black and white sci-fi's we take quite seriously, but there are a few... In the Mystery Science Theater tradition, we get together with friends a couple of times a year and have what we call "Stupid Movie Night" where we watch a couple of oldies and add our own comments or just get a honk out of pre space-age thinking about taking off your helmet to see if you can breathe the atmosphere on the moon, or some low-budget special effects--like an actor tripping over the carpet and knocking over a tombstone in what's supposed to be a cemetery. We love 'em!

Actually, what I wanted to talk about today was how my brain works (scary!). Right now, I'm working on a book that isn't an Intrigue, and like I've discovered in the past, it really taps into a different part of my brain than what I use when writing my Intrigues. I find that when I'm writing an Intrigue, it's a very intellectual experience for me--the depth of emotion is there in every book I write, I think, at least, it is for me--but when I write for Blaze or a paranormal like I'm working on now, I find it's more of an instinctive journey. Like my Intrigues, I spend a good deal of time thinking through my characters and getting to know them and their backstory, conflicts and goals. But, perhaps it's because of the complex mystery elements that I usually put into my Intrigues, I spend more brain energy thinking about details like clues, red herrings, turning points, juxtaposing conflicts, etc. when I'm writing romantic suspense.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm still pretty much a pantser, no matter what I'm writing. I have scenes or plot points like guide posts in my head. I know I want to include those 4 or 5 things in my story, but I have no idea how I'm getting from point A to point B, etc. But with my Intrigues, I believe I stew over things more. Maybe I edit more as I go along, fine-tuning things. But with a Blaze or paranormal, I really just kind of trust my gut and see where the story will take me.

So, depending on what type of story I'm writing, I find it to be a very different experience. I think that's a good thing, creatively--my brain and creative energies don't get quite so worn out. I love switching up the creative process--it keeps it fresh.

Maybe it's similar to reading tastes. I have to be in the right mood or frame of mind to get into a certain type of book. Usually, I'm in a romantic suspense frame of mind. But sometimes, I'm looking for something else--steam, magic, simplicity, straight mystery, action adventure, non-fiction, a classic, etc.--that's probably appealing to a different part of my brain.

Do other writers and readers have this same dichotomy? Do your brains work differently, depending on what you're writing or reading?

Happy Reading,
Julie Miller

Monday, January 22, 2007

E-Mail Arrest?

I was sending my mom an e-mail about my current book, "The American Temp and the British Inspector" and got a little self-concsious about the e-mail title: "You Know The Killer." Now, I'm thinking, "Hmmm, if someone see this, or if the FBI is watching or Big Brother or..." Whatever. I sent it anyway and so far no one has come knocking (except the neighbor kids to bring back my wandering dog.)

I was acutally throwing out a challenge to mom because in movies, books, whatever, she's always able to figure out the bad guy way before you're supposed to. It used to make me nuts! Then I realized I do the same thing and my 16-year-old is always yelling at me to knock it off. (Sorry, Jeff!)

"The American Temp and the British Inspector" is a new venture for me since it is a more of a mystery than my other books and you are introduced to the killer fairly early in the book. If you're like me and like to figure out these kinds of puzzles, I hope you enjoy Max and Cassie's story.

Tuesday is Academy Award announcements. I'm rooting for THE QUEEN. How about you?

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Weekend is Here

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's Friday. In my case, it's the start of chaos in my household. From the moment my kids walk in the door from school and scream "Mom, we're home!" my weekend begins. And truthfully? I can't wait.
I'm not an extroverted person (in fact, this is my first attempt at blogging—a definitive step out of my comfort zone). I prefer to stay in the background--lurking is the term I hear most often--and adjust to most situations slowly. Some of my good friends would say that my adjustment process can sometimes take years. And the sad part is, they wouldn't be wrong.
Except for the weekend chaos with my family. Go figure. From last minute schedule changes to the drop-in friends and out of control pets, it's all good. Just the thought of what's to come, makes me smile.
So I guess I'm saying, whether your weekend is quiet or hectic, or even a little of both, I hope it's a good one for you!
I have a feeling mine will be...

Best Always,

Donna Young

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday's my favorite day!

Mallory Kane here:

How great that I get to blog on Thursday, my favorite day of the week. I'm not completely sure why. It just seems to me that better things happen on Thursday than any other day. I love the TV shows that come on Thursday night. I love the idea that Wednesday is over and it's almost the weekend. Lately I love Thursday because I go to yoga on Thursday. Okay I go on Tuesday and Wednesday too, but for some reason the Thursday class is more relaxing and more invigorating. I come home ready to spend hours writing.

Speaking of writing, January is an exciting month for me. I have a new book out -- Six-Gun Investigation. It's the first book in a three book series featuring 3 brothers who are Texas Rangers, and who must work together to find the truth about a murder that will either condemn or exonerate their father. The series is The Silver Star of Texas.

My hero, Zane McKinney, is the oldest brother. In February, Delores Fossen's book, Trace Evidence in Tarrant County, is the story of the middle brother Sloan. Then in March, Rita Herron's Justice for a Ranger features Cole, the youngest McKinney brother. We had a blast writing these books.

As a tie-in to Six-Gun Investigation, I have a weekly serial on eHarlequin that features a minor character from the Silver Star of Texas trilogy. Luis Enrique Spinoza, a deputy sheriff in Justice Texas, has to help his ex-fiancee prove she didn't murder her boss in The Wrong Side of the Law, available now as a free read on

I can't wait for my May book. Juror No. 7 is a special book for me. I really love the hero and heroine, and their story. You can find more information about Juror No. 7 on my website,

As soon as I get back from my yoga class, my husband and I are off to spend a couple of days at Peal River Resort. He loves to play poker, and I'm looking forward to writing on my laptop in the luxurious quiet of the hotel room.

Thanks for visiting the Intrigue authors blog. I hope you all enjoy your Thursday. When we get to our hotel I'll check in again.

Have a great Thursday!
Mallory Kane

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What's happening in Julie Miller Land...

Hey, gang--

If it's Wednesday, it must be my turn to blog--at least through January. ;) Thanks again for stopping by our new blog. And don't forget to enter the book giveaway contest (just follow the link to the Intrigue Authors website). Lots of authors have donated books to celebrate the rejuvenation and re-launch of the Intrigue Authors blog. As cold and icy as it has been here in Nebraska, curling up with a basket of good books sounds like a great way to spend the day to me! Good luck to everyone who enters!

Today, I just thought I'd talk a little bit about some of the projects I'm working on. I just finished a killer back-to-back deadline (over the holidays, no less! What was I thinking when I scheduled that one?) for a two-book mini-series from Intrigue called The Precinct: Vice Squad. Those books, UP AGAINST THE WALL and NINE-MONTH PROTECTOR, will be released in August and September of this year. The mini-series features Precinct faves (according to some delightful fan letters and emails) Seth Cartwright and Cooper Bellamy--partners working a dangerous undercover investigation into organized crime in Kansas City. Their respective heroines are investigative reporter Rebecca Page (who's looking for the truth behind her father's unsolved murder) and Sarah Cartwright--Seth's twin sister. Sarah has seen something the bad guys wish she hadn't and they want to silence her (those darn bad guys!). But more importantly, she's carrying a secret that sets one villain against the other--and with Sarah caught in the middle, the only thing keeping her alive may be the dogged protection of her brother's partner--Cooper Bellamy. And yes, for you Precinct fans--I'll explain why Coop is bald!!

Right now I'm working on my 30th book! 30th? Whew! I know there are other authors out there with higher numbers, but that number kind of takes me aback. Who knew shy ol' me had that many words running around inside my head? The best thing is that even though I'm on #30, there's no shortage of future story ideas tantalizing my brain. #30 will actually be a story for Harlequin Blaze--another military-themed romance with plenty of steam, action and danger. For those of you who keep up with my Blazes as well as my Intrigues, this one features Marine Corps captain Zachariah Clark (Clarksie).

Of course, I have to say that 2007 includes my current release--BEAST IN THE TOWER. What fun it was to write this one. I love when my editor says--do something different, just let your imagination go. It's very freeing creatively. So, there aren't any Kansas City cops in this one. But there's a billionaire scientist who secludes himself in his penthouse lab. And a spunky diner owner 30 floors below who's determined to save her teenage brother and the dangerous neighborhood where she's taken over the family diner after their parents' death. And, of course, there are some very bad guys trying to steal the hero's secret formulas and make millions for themselves. When the heroine gets between the bad guys and the hero, danger mounts. Will the BEAST OF THE TOWER come down and save the day? Or will the crusading heroine have to save him as well? I hope you'll enjoy this modern BEAUTY & THE BEAST tale.

Well, I'd better get back to work. Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Reading,
Julie Miller

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Enter the Special Intrigue Authors Contest

To celebrate the formation of this new blog, the Intrigue Authors are running a special contest at their website. The winner can get a large selection of autographed Intrigue novels.

The winner will be selected on Valentine's Day so don't wait! To enter, go to

Let's talk about being sexy!

Happy Tuesday!

I wanted to pop in and say ‘hi’, and talk a little bit about a topic that’s partly about Valentine’s Day (which is less than a month away, for the closet and not-so-closet romantics among us) and partly about my January release, UNDER THE MICROSCOPE.

In UTM, drug developer Raine Montgomery becomes a suspect and a target when her newest drug, Thriller, turns lethal. Convinced she and Thriller are both being framed, Raine turns to her ex-flame, medical investigator Max Vasek, for help.

The connection to feeling sexy? Thriller is a female sex-enhancement drug.

The idea for UTM came from a researcher friend who was one of the top dogs in the search for the female Viagra. She once told me it’d probably be impossible to create a reliable female sex enhancement drug because the female response is far more mental than physical, and it’s very individualized. It has less to do with blood flow to any particular body part, and more to do with how we’re feeling about ourselves, and our partners. Granted, that can apply to both men and women, but I think it’s more common in women, don’t you?

As I was writing UTM, it made me think about feeling sexy, and how (for me, at least) it’s connected to feeling good about myself, and feeling. . . powerful, I guess. But how much of that is cause, and how much is effect? Do I feel sexy because I feel powerful and good about myself, or do I feel powerful and good about myself because of sex? I didn’t have an answer for that, which made me think about how the women who used Thriller might change because of the drug, and how that might threaten some people. . . maybe even enough to commit murder.

So anyways. . . what makes you feel sexy? What makes you feel good about yourself? Are they the same things? Different? Anyone have a cool tip for a hot night? [And please keep it PG-rated if you wouldn’t mind, just so we don’t scare anyone off by getting too Blaze-ish on the Intrigue board .]

Monday, January 15, 2007

Armed and Dangerous!

For a few days last November I was armed and dangerous. Why? Because I attended an amazing two day Firearms and Fiction workshop sponsored by the Second Amendment Foundation. (That's me at right, firing a machine gun - woo-hoo!) What the experience taught me (besides the fact that yes, if threatened I *would* pull the trigger) is that working outside your comfort zone is very important. It stretches us, teaches us, and helps us evolve. I challenge you to try something completely out of your comfort zone this month and report back. I'd love to hear about your adventures!

This afternoon I took an adventure to China. Well, sort of. :-) I went to see "The Painted Veil" with Edward Norton and Naomi Watts. This movie filled my heart. The scenery was breathtaking, the story fabulous, but most importantly, the acting was amazing. Edward Norton has to be one of the most talented actors of our time.

Okay, must do my chores so I can be ready to watch The Golden Globes. Who are you rooting for this year?



P.S. -- Don't forget to check back for news about our Intrigue Blog contest. The winner will receive at least a dozen autographed books from our authors!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Book Trailer

Since my first MIRA is coming out in March, I've been doing a lot of research on self-promotion, and I'm wondering how effective book trailers are. Do you like them? Are they just a trend that have about run their course, or are they here to stay and do they make a difference? I've got one on my site and it's running at Barnes and Noble. I get lots of comments on it (creepy and scary), but I'm not sure that it will translate to sales. Any thoughts?

Amanda Stevens

Happy New Year! from Julie Miller

Happy New Year, everyone! This is great to see the Intrigue Authors blog back up and running. Thanks to Pat White and Patricia Rosemoor for all the work they've done on the Intrigue blog.

Well, I'm having a "Beastly" new year. That's double entendre, of course--my January 07 release from Intrigue is BEAST IN THE TOWER. It's a modern-day Beauty & the Beast tale--urban and Gothic-y--complete with a spunky beauty who runs a diner on the ground level of a Kansas City skyscraper--and a reclusive billionaire "mad scientist" who lives in the penthouse 30 stories above her and works in his secret lab. I had a lot of fun with this one. Throughout the time I was writing it, I kept thinking back to the classic Beast fairy tale. One of my all-time favorites. I've already gotten one delightful reader comment via email re my hero, Dr. Damon Sinclair--"I love a tortured, sexy hero like Damon. He's like Dr. Frankenstein--but hot! And that twist at the end--wow! I never saw that one coming."

What can I say. I'm blushing.

The double entendre is that I've spent about a week recovering from a cold/bronchitis, that was probably brought on by fatigue, due in part to the holidays, but mostly because I've been push-push-pushing on a fast pair of deadlines. I've got a 2 book mini-series coming out later this year--The Precinct: Vice Squad. Back-to-back releases means back-to-back deadlines. And I'm pooped! But what a lot of fun to plot those out. And the heroes in each book--Seth Cartwright and Cooper Bellamy--partners working on a dangerous undercover investigation into the mob--practically wrote themselves. Their personalities were so real to me, that I let them lead me through a lot of both stories .

Well, no rest for the weary, as they say (maybe I've caught some of Delores' jet lag?). I'm starting a new project this week and better get back to work.

It was fun to stop by and say hi. See you soon!

Julie Miller


I'm just back from a trip to London, and all I can say is JET LAG. I love seeing the sights and doing new things, but I wish it were easier to get from point A to point B. Twenty-one hours of traveling on the return trip was a little too much, and now I'm paying for it with a foggy head and an achy back. Still, I'm glad I went.

The highlights:

--The Cleopatra exhibit at the British Museum. I've been watching Rome on HBO and have a renewed interest in Cleo. What an amazing woman. She'd make a great model for an Intrigue heroine. Or villain. hehehe

--Tea at the Coal Hole Pub. This was definitely not the Ritz or Harrods, but it was FUN.

--The historic pub tour. Apparently, Dickens and Shakespeare drank just about everywhere. Makes me wonder when they managed to do any writing. ;) Some of the pubs were downright creepy, and I got some new ideas for Intrigues.

--Watching the pigeon chasers in Trafalgar Square. These guys make $150,000 a year just to rid the square of pigeons. Can you imagine applying for a job like that? What kind of experience would you need? I used to chase squirrels from my bird feeders--does that count?

So, did you do any holiday traveling, or do you have vacation plans in your near future?


Delores Fossen

The McKenna Legacy

After all too long, I'm writing the next installment of The McKenna Legacy. This is Aileen's story and she's decided she wants to work in the same area as her half brother Donovan -- in wolf recovery. The very first day she arrives at Wolf Creek, she meets Rhys Lindgren, a mysterious man who seems closer to the wolves than any human should be. Aileen is working on her thesis Can Wolves and Man Co-Exist in a Modern World? and interviewing the townspeople for their experiences and opinions. What do you think? Any opinions on bringing the wolf population back in our northern states?

Patricia Rosemoor

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A New Year -- New Goals?

Greetings and Happy New Year!

Okay, you're thinking, what do two sexy Brits have to do with setting goals? A girl can dream, can't she? Just kidding! I've posted these handsome hunks to pique your interest about my new Intrigue series. But more on that later. (Stop drooling...come on, stop it!)

I'm starting off this year's blogging adventure with some free advice (you know what they say about free advice ) on setting goals.

Let’s start with BE REALISTIC.

There’s a difference between aiming high and shooting yourself in the foot. You know what I mean. We’re told on one hand to reach for the stars, yet on the other hand, if you make your goal too unattainable (I probably shouldn’t count on giving my Oscar acceptance speech this year ;-) you paralyze yourself before you take that first step.

What do you want? No, what do you really want? To play more? Weigh less? Have more fun? Yeah, I like that one!

A few tips when setting goals:
1. Focus on a small goal. What can you do today? Just one thing? Eat half the piece of chocolate cake instead of the whole piece? (A sadist, I know.) But eating half the piece will make a difference over time. (May I suggest saving the other half for breakfast?)

2. Try not to get distracted (the cat's stuck in the Christmas tree, the dogs got into the granola bar drawer, the UPS driver dropped off a late Christmas gift, Edward Norton is on The View...ah...). Make a list of smaller goals for the day and check them off to give yourself a sense of accomplishment.

3. Always reward yourself and learn from your experience. (Chocolate is the perfect reward and don’t let anyone tell you different!) If you don’t make a goal, don't beat yourself up about it. Just keep plugging away. Tomorrow is a fresh start!

Anyone want to set goals for January? Come on, I dare ya'.
I'm thrilled to announce that one of last year' goals is now in print. The first in my Blackwell Group series, The American Temp and the British Inspector, was released January 9th. Ah, those sexy, British heroes. ::: sigh ::: Hence the fab photos at the top of my post. Who are some of your favorites?


Pat White