August Winners

31 08 2009

Without further ado, the winners of the August Giveaway by random drawing are:

Christine Colombus……$10.00 Barnes & Noble giftcard

Mary Ricksen…….If You Dare

Judy Cox……….Improper Wife

ALee Drake……..Hers to Command

Congratulations to all our winners! I’ll be in contact with you soon to get your mailing addresses.

Be sure to check back next week on The Write Direction for a new contest!


Wish for the Moon, coming Sept 18–available for pre-order now!!

What Inspires You?

3 08 2009
Sometimes the best view is from high above

Sometimes the best view is from high above

As I wind down the current novel I’m working on—Moonlight Madness, a time travel set in 17th century England—I’m hunting for my next project and looking for inspiration. Which brings me to the question for our blog theme this month: what inspires you?

I made a list of the most common places writers find inspiration (in no particular order):

  1. writing groups: RWA, local chapters, critique groups
  2. reading
  3. browsing bookstore/library shelves
  4. travel, road trips
  5. new experiences (jobs, careers)
  6. observation/people-watching
  7. the news
  8. music
  9. poetry/quotes
  10. celebrities
  11. movies/tv
  12. antique stores/flea markets
  13. museums
  14. parks/gardens/nature
  15. family/spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend

In writing a 90,000-100,000, I’ve found all of the above can be useful sources of inspiration!

My favorite kick-in-the-writer’s butt—Travel

This week I’m relaxing on one of my favorite beaches. My family has vacationed in South Carolina almost every year since the early 80’s and it never fails to plant the seeds of a new story in my mind.

The history of Low Country attracts me to this area in the strongest way. First, it’s in my blood. My father’s Welsh/Scot/Irish family settled in South Carolina in the early 1700’s. Second, this is the same area where pirates once roamed, where the Civil War was fought, and it’s the setting for a plethora of great literature including the eerie true story, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and Poe’s The Gold Bug.

After I meditate beneath one of the ancient Spanish Moss-covered oaks or on the balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, I’ll be blessed with another story to take back home with me. Travel definitely inspires my writing—the settings in particular. I can almost hear the characters’ voices in my head as I listen to the waves on the shore.

Finding island history inside a lighthouse

Finding island history inside a lighthouse

Is there anyplace that makes you want to write? Do you feature places you’ve visited in your stories? If so, where?

This month I’m giving away a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some books from my shelf “to inspire you.” Comment on one post this August and you’ll be entered to win in a drawing to be held at the end of the month. Good luck and be inspired!

The July Winners Are…

1 08 2009

Wow, July went by so fast!  I can’t believe it’s August already…it will be fall before we know it.  🙂  But the good news about time flying is that I have the winners for the July contest.  We didn’t have many commenters this month, so guess what…  You all win.  I just threw another book into the mix because I hated to leave one of you out.  I added A Coal Miner’s Wife by Marin Thomas, a Harlequin American Romance.  Then I randomly drew to see who won which books.

Lainey Bancroft — A Coal Miner’s Wife

Mary Ricksen — The Playboy’s Ruthless Payback

Afshan N — A Kiss to Remember

Heather — A Firefighter in the Family

Julie Robinson — Make me Yours

I e-mailed you all privately to get address details for your prizes.  If you don’t receive an e-mail from me, then comment on this post and we’ll figure out the glitch.  Thanks for reading The Write Direction and congratulations on your new-to-you books!

When I Fell in Love…

28 07 2009

011213_1221_0017_lsls_thumbI’m one of those writers (probably the only one who can say this actually) who didn’t always like to read. I know, I know…you can start breathing again. Actually, I didn’t truly discover my love of reading until I met the man I love. (And yes, I grant you permission to roll your eyes and say, “How cheesy!”) In fact, I used to tease my now hubby for reading so much. Then one day, he got me back. He gave me a book I couldn’t put down…

It was book one in the Left Behind series. From then it was the Harry Potter Series and so many other books that I can’t remember them all. I read across all genres, trying to find my true reading passion…until one day, I stumbled across an innocent-looking book that changed how I will forever read one author. The book was Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, and I was six months pregnant…

Now, I’m sure anyone who has read the book probably knows where this post is headed right now, and for anyone who doesn’t…*MASSIVE SPOILER WARNINGS AHEAD*…

My sister gave me the book and just raved about how wonderful this “romance author” was and what a wonderful story this was. Now, in her defense, I did enjoy the book…UNTIL THE HERO DIED! I was devastated. It might as well have been my husband that died for all the distinction my emotions seemed to take.

For 40 minutes after I finished reading I was still WEEPING. For the next 2 weeks, every time I thought about the book, I cried. It was TERRIBLE! I was even mad at my husband for days because he let me read the darned thing in the first place! He knew how it ended! He’d seen the movie. (Don’t ask why HE’D seen the movie because I don’t know, lol.) To this day, when I pick up a new Nicholas Sparks book, I have to read the end, just to see if anyone died so I can prepare myself, lol.

Now you know my crazy story, what about you? Got any crazy stories involving books? You know we want to know! 🙂 Even more, you know you want to share…


July Contest Update

27 07 2009

Ooops…  I promised to add a new book for the contest each week, and then what happened?  I forgot all about it.  🙂  Better late than never, right?  so here are the three additional titles I’m purging from my shelves.  On Saturday, August 1, I’ll randomly draw the names of three commenters and post the winners.  Then the winners can e-mail me to receive their prizes.

You already know about Make Me Yours.  The other three books I’m giving away are:

A kiss to rememberA Kiss to Remember by Kimberly Van Meter, a Harlequin Super Romance

Firefighter in the FamilyA Firefighter in the Family by Trish Milburn, a Harlequin American Romance

Playboy's Ruthless PaybackPlayboy’s Ruthless Payback, a Silhouette Desire

Comment on any July posts to be entered to win.  In fact, comment on this one…give me a list of your favorite books.

Good luck!


6 07 2009

book hug

Hello, my name is Estelle and I’m a bibliophile.

Now, all you fellow bookworms out there say, “Hello, Estelle.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a bibliophile as a lover or collector of books. I think “love” might be putting it mildly. For me, it’s more of an obsession.

Years ago (in my former life as an English teacher) I went to a workshop on teaching writing, and the attendees were given the classic paragraph assignment: Describe your bedroom.

The fact that this is a silly assignment for either students or teachers aside, I had a sort of revelation while completing it. I started with the bookshelves—two six foot shelves, and two smaller three foot shelves on either side of the bed, all brimming. Then I moved on to the piles of books on the floor—the mini towers that the cat constantly knocks over. Last, I described the heaps of books on the empty side of my double bed (I was—and still am—single). Yes, I sleep with my books. I realized there was probably something Freudian (and therefore disturbing) in the fact that my bed companion was (and still is) a pile of books. Then the timer went off, ending the exercise, and I happily quit thinking about it.

I do love books though. I love to look at them, smell them, hold them. It’s a comfort to have a book in my hand. If I have extra cash, I want to spend it on books. If I have time to kill in town, I want to spend it at the bookstore. A dream vacation for me would be to travel across the country visiting all the unique and hole-in-the-wall bookstores I could find. Unfortunately, it would be a short vacation because I’d spend all my money after the first few stops.

My biggest pet peeves are book related, too. I don’t dog-ear. Ever. I don’t crack open spines. Chills go down my own spine when I see someone do that. I consider it an accomplishment for the book to look pristine and unread when I’m finished with it. I also have issues with price stickers. If there’s a sticker plastered on the book, I have to remove it as soon as I’m out of the store before the heat can seal it on forever. It’s one of those things that shouldn’t matter, but it does—I want the stickers removed. And if you wait too long to take it off, the residue is there forever and even Goo-Gone won’t truly take care of the problem. I told you—it’s an obsession.

My to-be-read pile resembles a small mountain, and it has a little bit of everything in it—I’ll give you a glimpse.

At the top is Lisa Kleypas’s Smooth Talking Stranger. I recently read Sugar Daddy and Blue Eyed Devil by her and LOVED them. I picked up A Hint of Wicked by fellow Romance Diva, Jennifer Haymore the other day. On the spicier side, I recently discovered Bella Andre’s erotic romances and have Red Hot Reunion in the stack. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Prodigal Summer are there—The Poisonwood Bible was the best piece of literary fiction I’ve read in ages. The Chosen by Chaim Potok is there because a friend recommended it. Amanda Quick’s The Perfect Poison is there because I’m addicted to the Arcane Society books. Toward the end of the month when Suzanne Brockmann’s newest Troubleshooters book comes out, it will go to the top of the pile, although I may have to fight my mother for who gets it first. I have Donald Maas’s The Fire in Fiction in there too. And tons more. I never get ahead of the stack. I wouldn’t want to. Where’s the fun in that?

When people ask me what my favorite book is, I usually can’t give just one answer. I love so many of them. I have lists of favorites on my website, and I have a Shelfari shelf of what I’m currently reading on my blog, but I’m constantly reading new books and gaining new favorites.

It’s so hard to stay committed to just one. (Don’t get all Freudian with that.)

It turns out that I get to pick the theme for July here at The Write Direction, so I hereby officially declare it In Love with Books Month.

Let’s celebrate with a CONTEST! I’ll take a few romance books off my shelves to make room for new ones. I’m gritting my teeth at the thought of parting with them, but it’s a little easier when I know they’re going to someone who will love them like I do. Only bibliophiles need apply.

If you’re a true book lover, then comment on this post and tell me about your love of books. Which are your favorites? What’s in your to be read pile?

Then come back to The Write Direction throughout the month of July and comment on other July posts. At the end of the month, I’ll randomly select four commenters who will each get a new (new to you–and in good condition, though maybe not pristine because some of these may have found their way to me via the used book store) book to love.

I’ll post an additional book for the contest each week.  The first one is Make Me Yours by Betina Krahn.

Make Me Yours

Sun Worship

22 06 2009

The Coppertone Kids Grow Up


Yesterday, June 21, was celebrated around the world as the Longest Day of the Year, or summer solstice. Since the beginning of recorded human history, people have worshipped the sun on this day. Modern-day Druids still trek to Stonehenge in England to welcome the sun in a festival. The Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Celts were just a few of the cultures who revered the sun, creating myths about solar deities. Gods and goddesses became the central characters in stories explaining the natural phenomena of the season. These deities were idolized in statues and paintings.


If you’re not visiting Stonehenge or you aren’t a practicing Druid, chances are you probably worship the sun anyway. Like cultures of ancient times, today’s families gather during the summer for an event known as the family reunion, grilling food outdoors and sharing memories while the daylight stretches late into the evening. Hey, the energy you’re saving is helping the environment! We still celebrate the sun today through idol worship. We gather together on the shores of lakes and beaches, stretched long across beach towels in supplication to the almighty orb in the sky. And the deities? Just think about the last time you gave that tan guy at the beach a second look. Or maybe you paid for a month of tanning bed visits. Afraid of getting skin cancer? I doubt I’m the only girl who doesn’t care if I look like an Oompa Lompa–I’m slathering on the self-tanner when I go to the beach to sun worship next month. With my latest tattoo and snow-white stomach I’m looking a little too much like Amy Winehouse right now. I know I’ll feel more like a sun goddess when I have nice mocha-colored skin. And ya never know, a sun god might give me a second look when I’m sunkissed.

Sun God

Sun God

The traditional flower for the month of June is the rose. In honor of this most lovely of flowers, I’m adding the book Night’s Rose to the beach bag.  The fabulous fairy tale retelling is just perfect for time spent poolside, at the beach, or even in the lawn chair.  Everytime you comment this month, you get a chance to win our goody bag full of summertime treats. Enjoy!

Nights Rose

Night's Rose

Sandra Jones is the author of Wish for the Moon, a time travel romance set in medieval Wales coming this September from The Wild Rose Press.

Who Doesn’t Love a Cowboy Hero?

1 06 2009

Cowboy Up

Here at The Write Direction, we’re celebrating June as Summer Fun Month.  I kicked off my summer with a trip to the rodeo.  And it was fun–beautiful horses, cute kids on ponies, Dandies riding in figure eights, ridiculous clown jokes, and of course, lots of eye candy in cowboy hats.

There’s just something about a cowboy that’s sexy. The ruggedness, the Wranglers, the boots, the swagger–and they do swagger, even when they’re limping out of the arena after being thrown head first off a bucking bronc. And I’m not the only one thinking come-hither thoughts about cowboys.

Cowboy heroes are a staple in romance novels (especially categories), so lots of readers out there melt at the idea of a hard working, hand-calloused, Stetson-wearing alpha male.  I’ve been advised by several writerly sources, both published with Harlequin and pursuing publication with Harlequin, that cowboy heroes are the way to go if you want a request (and hopefully a contract). I think they’re probably right.

Don’t get me wrong–throwing in a cowboy won’t make up for poor writing or weak plot lines or substandard characterization or any other writer’s pitfall. But if a writer already has an affinity for cowboys, then working a story around a tried and true character type with high marketability can’t be a bad idea.

I was in Walmart over the weekend, perusing the Harlequin section. I counted how many of the covers featured cowboys. Five. And they crossed three different lines–Blaze, Desire, and Silhouette Special Edition. Also keep in mind that it’s the very end of the month, so I was primarily looking at the May leftovers before the June books fill the shelves.  And…I’ll go ahead and admit it.  This wasn’t the first time I’ve counted cowboy covers.  Frankly, five is a low number. I’ve seen a lot more than that in the past.

I have two works in progress that feature cowboy heroes–a romantic suspense and a small town contemporary. My trip to the rodeo provided some great inspiration. I’ve got to write down my sensory details before I forget the experience.

What about you?  Does your heart melt over a cowboy?  Do you have a favorite romance novel featuring a cowboy hero?  Do you have a link to worksafe cowboy eye candy?  Throw your western themed thoughts at me via a comment and you’ll be entered to win our June contest prize!

Speaking of contest prizes…

Our June Summer Fun contest prize is a beach bag filled with all kinds of summer goodies!  As we add new posts throughout the month, we’ll be adding prizes to the bag.  Then, at the end of the month, one lucky commenter will win it all.  Stop back throughout the month and comment on additional June blog posts to increase your chances to win.  We’ll randomly draw for a winner at the end of the month.

This week, I’m contributing a fun summer read…and wouldn’t you know it?  It has a cowboy cover! The first item in the tote bag is The Texas Twins by Tina Leonard. I haven’t read it yet…it’s a June release, but Harlequin American is one of my favorite lines.  And it’s awfully hard to resist a cover with TWO cowboys.

The Texas Twins by Tina Leonard

And the Winner is…

12 05 2009

And the winner is…

But before I get to that, I’d like to thank everyone who stopped by today and helped me celebrate tomorrow’s release a little early. Your comments helped brighten my day! And to help brighten your day, I have a totally unplanned gift…

When I was performing my extra-complicated procedure for determining the contest winner (i.e. pulling a name from a hat, lol) two names got stuck together. So to revise my introductory statement, the winners are:

Nancy Gilliland & Sherry.

Congratulations, ladies! I’ll be emailing each of you shortly to find out which digital format your prefer.

Again, thank you all for stopping by!

His Final Seduction Excerpt 4

12 05 2009

***The same content warning goes for this section. Some may find language contained in the following excerpt offensive. You have been warned!***

So much for 7, huh? Did I mention I had kids? Actually, the kids can’t be blamed for this. I had 8 o’clock in my mind, lol. 

Remember, the deadline for posting comments is 10 p.m. Central Time. The winner will be posted at approximately 10:15.  Please check back then. I’ll need to know what email address to send your eBook to!

Anyway, this scene, IMHO, is worth the wait. It’s my absolute favorite scene in the entire book. This is where our hero and heroine “meet” for the first time. They had a “moment” in the lobby earlier, but it was an across-the-room kind of thing. This is where she’s hit with the full force of his incubus powers. (remember the blurb and the contract he signed?) Although it isn’t shown in this excerpt, this sets the scene for Damien’s transformation during the story. It’s the moment that changes everything for our sexy hero…


 The man she’d seen earlier—the one who’d set off a slideshow of X-rated pictures in her mind—relaxed against the doorframe, one foot crossed over the other. He was gripping a laptop-sized box. White linen pants encased his legs and tanned skin peeked through his unbuttoned shirt, revealing a chiseled chest and a sprinkling of dark hair. A restraint tied wet, jet-black locks at the nape of his neck, and a smile hot enough to heat the entire southern hemisphere decorated his face.

Sydney leaned against the door to alleviate some of the pressure from her suddenly shaking knees. “M-may I help y-you?”

“I sure hope so.” He thrust the box toward her. “My name is Damien Blake. I’m the owner of Club Carnal.”


And just like it had happened in the lobby, a wave of lust annihilated her senses. Her grip on the door tightened and her legs started to buckle. It took every ounce of willpower she possessed to resist the impulse to rip off his linen pants, throw him down in the middle of the hallway and ride his cock until she screamed.

Whoa. She shook her head, sucked in a deep breath. Where the hell did that thought come from?

“W-what’s that?” She pointed to the box he held toward her and, unable to control her shaking hands, grabbed the container and quickly pulled it to her chest.

His smile grew. So did the fire nipping at her clit. “A gift.”

God, even his deep voice seduced her sanity into relaxing its rigid control and, as his gaze skimmed over her body, an elixir of heat under her flesh erupted into a boiling frenzy.

“Mind if I come in?”

“N-no,” she lied, taking an unsteady step to the side.

As he walked past, his shoulder brushed hers. A potent cocktail of sun and sex teased her nose, and she shook her head, tried to beat back the sudden rush of hormones his accidental touch unleashed.

“I hope your accommodations are to your liking, Ms. James.”

“They’re perfect.” She turned as slowly as possible, needing the time to soothe her frenzied wits. “Is there something wrong, Mr. Blake?”

“Wrong?” His face split into another dazzling smile. “No, nothing’s wrong. And please, call me Damien.”

“Okay.” She crossed her arms and clutched the box against her breasts. Was it the Caribbean heat or something more potent stirring her senses to new heights? Never before had a man’s simple presence caused such a fierce reaction in her body. “Is there something I can help you with then?”

“As a matter of fact, there is.”

He planted his hands on his waist and the edges of his unbuttoned shirt split apart, revealing even more tanned, toned skin. Like a toddler ogling a cookie jar, her gaze caressed every muscular rise and fall. The thought of tracing each of those defined lines with her tongue scattered gasoline on the simmering fire in her loins.

“I was hoping you’d join me for dinner, Ms. James.”

Her brow shot up. A strange, gorgeous man—the owner of an entire island—wanted to take her to dinner? Seems more than people’s clothes were off down here.

“The chefs have a wonderful lineup this evening,” he tempted her further.

“Dinner? Me?”

“Yes.” His laughter fanned the flames of lust. “What do you say?

“I, uh…”

She scrubbed a palm over the side of her neck. How was she supposed to think about anything when her clit burned with the intensity of an out-of-control wildfire?

Shit, none of her reactions made sense. Before, she’d never accept gifts or agree to dinner with someone she’d met less than five minutes earlier, but as carnal thoughts tripped up the logic centers of her brain, the words just came out.

“Sure. I guess.”

“Wonderful.” He pointed to the package clutched to her chest. “While there’s no dress code per se, I took the liberty of bringing you a little something for the occasion.”

“You brought me…clothes?” Confusion wrinkled her brow and she looked at the box. He didn’t even know her, and he was bringing her gifts? Something wasn’t just off, it was alternate-universe off.

“Yes.” He lifted his right hand and stroked his middle finger down the side of her neck. Her eyes drifted shut. “It’s just something to accentuate the beauty of your body.” His other hand settled on her waist, drew her closer. “The contours of your curves. The brilliance of your breasts.”

On the verge of going supernova from his boldness, Sydney went limp and the box fell to the tiled floor. The only thing keeping her from joining it were the masculine arms that banded her.

“I’ve got you, Sydney.”

He sure did.

Rational thought dissolved. Her hands inched up his muscular forearms. The heat of his skin kick-started a chain reaction of lust cascading through her blood, boiling the fluid with fantasies and desires long denied.

“Who are you?” she whispered, losing herself in the sensual fantasy he spun with a single touch.

“Whoever you want me to be…”

He slipped the strap of her tank from her left shoulder and tugged the thin cotton until he exposed her breast to his hungry gaze. A thick spell of erotic mojo dampened reality, and the thought to stop him, to demand an explanation, never occurred to her.

He lowered his head and his tongue found the rigid peak of her nipple. Mindless to anything but physical gratification, she gripped him with tense expectation, completely absorbed by his sudden seduction.