12 Days of Christmas Goodie Bag Giveaway!

12 Days of Christmas…Great Reads and Freebies!

I cry at the drop of a hat. As Christmas approaches I’ll lose it over the Marine Corps Toys for Tots commercial, welcome home videos in which troops are reunited with their families, movies with happy, or sad, or hopeful endings, or anything that reminds me of the beauty and goodness in the world. I complement this sensitive side with a distinctly low-brow sense of humor. You know the “Eighteen crotch hits in twenty-three seconds” montages on America’s Funniest Home Videos? Those slay me. Stone cold dead.

This mix might explain why Bad Santa is my favorite holiday movie. There are two kinds of people in the world: people who love Bad Santa and people who wish they could sue Billy Bob Thornton for the two hours of their lives they wasted on the movie and will never get back. I own the former category. I love that movie. I love it for the perfectly written, scathingly delivered lines like, “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m three-feet-f-ing-tall!” I love the boxing ring scene. I love John Ritter in a really brilliant, expectation-busting performance as an uptight store manager (his last performance before his death).

But what I really love is the unsentimental way the movie reminds us that Christmas miracles come to foul-mouthed, alcoholic, law-breaking, perverse thieves as well as the George Baileys of the world. Willy Stokes, the main character, lacks a conscience, a functioning moral compass, or any other redeeming quality. He spends thirty days working as a department store Santa so he can crack the store’s safe on Christmas Eve and steal enough money to drink his way through the next eleven months. But when a fat kid and a pretty waitress come into his life, they accept him unconditionally, caring about him for exactly who he is and where he is in life. Simple, honest affection slowly changes Willy. If I had to describe his character arc, I’d say he goes from “alcoholic degenerate” to “functioning human being”.

Now that’s a Christmas miracle I can get behind.

In keeping with the idea that good things come to those who least expect them, I’ll mention that Thea Moretti, the heroine of my holiday release BREATH ON EMBERS, also gets a miracle. Hers comes in the form of a FDNY firefighter who uses every sexy weapon in his considerable arsenal to coax her through darkness, into the light.

So…yes or no to Bad Santa? Comment between now and November 26 for a chance to win a BREATH ON EMBERS goodie bag including Starbucks, iTunes, shortbread, and more!

Hot in Handcuffs Blog Hop!

AKA: In Which Anne Explains How She Came To Write Liberating Lacey…

[ETA: The contest is now closed, and the winner is Rahab M! Thanks to all who entered!]

(If you don’t care about how Lacey came to be, I’m gifting either one Kindle version of Liberating Lacey or a paperback version to one person who comments. US residents only, please. Thanks for stopping by!)

A few years ago when I was just starting out as a writer I read an erotic romance by a really well-known author. The hero was a cop, the heroine was a shy young thing coming into her sexual own. There was emotional conflict, there was sex, there was growth, there was a scene where the heroine asks the hero to use his handcuffs on her. Pretty standard erorom stuff, right? Except the handcuffs scene lasted all of TWO PARAGRAPHS and I was freakin’ pissed.

I mean, I felt short-changed.

Because, for the love of all that’s right and holy and erotic, don’t flinch. If you’re going to go there, you should GO THERE, and you should hang out. Get the lay of the land. Take a bunch of notes. Maybe draw some sketches. All for the purpose of sending the rest of us a really detailed, explicit travelogue. It’s just kind. Polite. Like holding the door open for the next person, or offering the bread basket to your neighbor at the dinner table. It’s what your mom raised you to do, and you should do.

That author had a different story to tell, but something about the cop/handcuffs thing getting tossed into the story, almost an afterthought, caught my attention. What if everything they did, everything in the story built to that really compelling night? And what if that night was really explicitly described? How would going deep into the emotions affect the story that came before, and what happened after?

That’s how my first erotic romance novel was born.

Around the time I started writing the story, I learned Ellora’s Cave was actively seeking older woman/younger man stories (in the very initial pages of Lacey, Hunter was actually older than she was). I don’t find age to be a very interesting conflict so I mixed it up; Hunter was not only younger than Lacey, she was completely out of his league. We see that fairly frequently in “wrong side of the tracks” backstories, but usually the bad-boy-teenager has grown up to be Filthy Rich. Hunter isn’t. He’s a pretty average guy. Respectable upbringing. Decent job. Loves his dad. Hates downtime. Knows who he is, what he does, and what he has to offer.

Protects a secret that tells him no matter how much he offers, he isn’t enough for Lacey.

When I started writing that book I always knew the most important scene in the book would be that “hot in handcuffs” scene. I always knew she’d ask him to do it, and I knew it would be the demise of everything they’d built up to that point. With as much as they had going against them, a kinky role play wasn’t going to provide the foundation for a long-term relationship.

Because sometimes handcuffs aren’t enough, but being loved for who you are always is.

Let’s see…other interesting facts about Lacey. The finished book came in at 82K words, which is a bit short for a single title romance, but respectable. The book I sold to Ellora’s Cave was 31K, comprised of the initial scene at bar/parking lot, the restaurant scene where she asks him to role play a bad cop, the role play, a really horribly written breakup scene, and the reunion. That’s it. EC bought the book, and then my editor, God bless her and her children’s children, let me take the time I wanted to revise it. I started in September with the promise she’d have it by 10/1, then by 10/15, then by Halloween, then Thanksgiving. I finally delivered on Christmas Eve. I extensively revised every word of the 31K I’d submitted, and added everything else. The scene in the park with the Ultimate Frisbee game. The night at the Metropolitan Club, and its aftermath. The botched dinner date. Lacey’s mom walking in on Hunter. Whole Foods. Sweet Dreams. The scene in the rain. Even the ending was different.

And speaking of endings, I frequently get emails asking for more of Hunter and Lacey. Occasionally they kick around in my brain a little, little flashes from people I know and love. Mental postcards. They’re not done with me yet…just don’t hold your breath. 😉

Thanks for stopping by the Hot in Handcuffs blog hop. For the giveaway you can comment or tweet me @annecalhoun with Hot in Handcuffs in the tweet. Hop on over to the next blog, and thanks for stopping by!

 

In Which Anne Gives Up Sugar

…for a very brief time.

Let’s start over.

Hi. I’m Anne and I’m a sugar addict.

While I say that somewhat tongue-in-cheek, like all joking there’s an element of truth to the humor. I won’t say chocolate runs my life, but I will admit to cravings that pop up at the same time every day. The line between “dessert is one of the food groups” and addiction is thinning, rapidly. I’m also curious to test the assertions that avoiding sugar evens out the daily highs and lows, and improves sleep. So this is both a fast, and a not-quite-double-blind-controlled-study. Just one woman, and her demons, with a fridge full of raw cookie dough (thanks, Mr. C. for playing The Adversary for the next two weeks).

How am I doing so far, on Day 4? I’m a cranky bitch. Thanks for asking. I’m also a little dismayed at how badly I crave a treat after lunch, or a mid-afternoon treat, or dessert after dinner. But what I learned yesterday is that what I attributed to a post-chocolate-covered-grahams crash is actually a post-lots-of-time-with-people crash. (A good friend calls this an “interactive hangover”.) Maybe higher levels of sugar in my blood makes it harder for me to discern what’s good for me and what isn’t.

Because challenges are more fun with rewards at the end, it’s also a giveaway!

My goal is to fast from sugar until my birthday, which is just a couple of weeks away. I started the fast on Monday, August 26 ; other commitments kept me from blogging about it until now but I’m going public with the challenge. Post on any of the blog updates about The Torturous Sugar Fast of 2012 and you’re automatically entered to win your choice from my backlist. Tell me about your favorite desserts. Say something encouraging, or supportive, or even “you are CRAZY, not that I’m judging” and you’re in.

What’s in this for me? If I get through three weeks without sugar, I’ve promised myself I can make our family birthday cake, which is a triple-layer chocolate cake with whipped cream between the layers and chocolate icing. Made from scratch. I counted up the calories in this cake and stopped when I got to 10,000. It’s a towering mass of sugar-sweet delicious, and a great way to celebrate turning…well…older than I am. I might lapse into a sugar coma after three weeks without, but I’ll take that risk.

Stay tuned for daily updates. Let’s hope the cranky bitch is replaced by someone of beatific serenity, or I might end up celebrating my birthday alone. 😉

And the winners are…

Laura, Chris Bails, and @NancyHolland5 from the twitter side of the contest! Please email me your addresses and I’ll mail your copies today in the hopes they arrive for a great long weekend of reading. anne at annecalhoun dot com, with the usual substitutes 😉

Thanks for entering!

Mira Lyn Kelly Giveaway!

Labor Day weekend’s coming up, which means you need extra reading material. Lucky for you I’ve got books to give away! Never Stay Past Midnight is Mira Lyn Kelly’s latest Harlequin Presents Extra release and it’s AWESOME. I love Mira Lyn’s voice, so fresh and sharp, with a great twist on the typical Presents storyline and characters. See below…

Never Stay Past Midnight (Harlequin Presents Extra)

 

“You are so wrong for me.”

Levi had to agree—he was. He was leaving Chicago in a few short weeks. He didn’t do commitment—ever. But everything about this night, this girl, was so good. So right. Until at 11:59 p.m. she got out of his bed, got dressed and left!

What had he done? Things had hardly started and she was off! Yet he was bored with simpering women he couldn’t get rid of. Elise was a breath of fresh air. How was he going to find her…and get her back in his bed—for the whole night this time? It seemed Mr. Levi-and-Leave-Them might have found the one woman to leave him begging for more.…

Jane at Dear Author gave this book a B+ review.  I’ve got 3 copies to give away. Just post a comment and you’re entered, or you can enter on Twitter with the #miralynrocks hashtag. Contest ends tonight after I take Small Boy to Tae Kwon Do, so somewhere in the 9-ish range? I’ll post winners late tonight or tomorrow, so check back!

 

Guest Post: Beth Kery “Because” + Giveaway

The Serial Novel, Another Reader Choice

by Beth Kery

When I was first asked by Berkley to write a serial novel, I was a bit dubious. Wouldn’t people be upset that they weren’t offered the book all at once? As I began the intensive, unique process of writing this book, however, I realized that the serialization process doesn’t limit readers’ choice. It increases it.

Because You Are Mine is one novel—Francesca and Ian’s steamy, addictive romance. Each “Part” consists of two hefty chapters and releases every Tuesday starting July 31st for 8 weeks.

People have busy lives. There are those who will appreciate the idea of consuming a book like they would a television episode. I like the idea of the element of time being more controlled, so that the ‘episode’ can be talked about simultaneously, using social media and other pathways, giving the romance community and readers something immediate to share.  I know I’m often telling my husband that I can’t ‘commit to a movie’ at the moment, but how about a television show? I think some people feel the same way about a novella or serial versus a full novel.

The nice thing about it is, voracious readers who consume an entire novel in hours aren’t left out of this experience, by any means. People demand availability of choices in this day and age, and this publishing model offers that. For readers who insist they must have the book all at once, there’s always the option of waiting until the book is fully out and available. There was a lot of behind the scene work that went on to get this book to the public so quickly. For my part, I worked my butt off, although it was totally a blast to be so submersed in the writing/editing process. Keep in mind, if Because You Are Mine had been done under the traditional publishing model, readers wouldn’t put eyes to it until next winter, at the earliest, probably not until spring of 2013. The publisher allotted a huge amount of energy and resources to make these extra choices possible to readers.

But aside from the unique release of the book, it’s Francesca and Ian’s story that I’m so excited about. I like to describe it as a little bit Cinderella, Pretty Woman and Fifty Shades of Grey, and a lot Beth Kery. I hope you’ll take the journey with Ian and Francesca in whatever way you choose, and have as much fun reading this sexy romance as I had writing it.

Thank you for having me here!

Beth

Readers: you can find more about Beth and her best-selling, hot books at her website:

www.BethKery.com

Follow these links to the first two installments of the Because series. Part two is out today!

Because You Are Mine Part I: Because You Tempt Me

http://www.amazon.com/Because-You-Mine-Part-ebook/dp/B008JHXOKY/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

Because You Are Mine Part II: Because I Could Not Resist

http://www.amazon.com/Because-You-Mine-Part-ebook/dp/B008JHXUTO/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

Beth’s gifting a copy of the first installment Because You Are Mine to one lucky person who comments!