Archive for the Category »Guest Posts/Interviews «

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My personal favourites have ranged from novels written by Enid Blyton to auto-biographies. These can get interesting and the novels are just the kind of things that gives us readers the kick that gets our adrenaline rushing! As we get good novels to read sometimes few games that we play brings back us to the real world.


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Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of a daughter and a spoiled cat and lives in Houston, Texas, where she is working on her next regency romance series.
LLW: Thanks for coming to Laugh Love Write Shana, it’s an absolute pleasure to have you… to get right to the point, how did you come up with the premise for The Rogue Pirate’s Bride?

SG:Thank you so much for having me!

The Rogue Pirate’s Bride is the third in a series about three brothers who are separated as children during the French Revolution. As I was writing the first and second books, I didn’t really know what had happened to Bastien, but when I read the manuscripts over, I noticed I had mentioned how he liked to play a pirate called Captain Cutlass when he was a boy. I decided he ran off and became a pirate. I’d always wanted to write a pirate hero.

LLW: I love knowing how authors envision their characters because everyone’s imagination is so very different, so, if The Rogue Pirate’s Bride gained a movie deal, who would you cast in the character roles?

SG:First of all, The Rogue Pirate’s Bride has not been auctioned for a movie, so if anyone reading this would like to make an offer, I’m all ears!

I think Henry Cavill would make a great Bastien. In The Tudors, he really has the look of Bastien—roguish and charming. Ewa da Cruz is an actress and the model on the cover of my last book, Lord and Lady Spy. I think she looks a lot like I envisioned Raeven. I’d want to cast William Moseley in the role of Raeven’s friend Percy. Moseley was Peter in the Narnia movies. Finally, I’d pick Jim Carter, who plays Mr. Carson in Downton Abbey, as Raeven’s father, Admiral Russell.

  <—- Henry Cavill (very nice choice indeed)

            Ewa De Cruz (cropped from Lord and Lady Spy book cover)—–>

LLW: Thinking about my favorite scene in The Rogue Pirate’s Bride was very difficult because there are so many great ones to choose from, maybe Raeven’s first escape from Bastien perhaps, or their first fight sequence, or gosh! I don’t know…what is your favorite scene?

SG:My favorite scene is when Raeven has sneaked on board Bastien’s ship in an effort to steal her sword back from him (that’s her story, anyway). She’s caught and Bastien tells her this is her last chance to get what she really came for (i.e. a night with him), and she says she’d rather kill him. So he basically says, “Go ahead.” It turned into a very sexy, fun scene. I loved writing Raeven’s inner turmoil in that scene.

LLW: I know the French Revolution is your favorite historical era and have done much research for your novels, did you have to research anything special for The Rogue Pirate’s Bride?

SG: Oh, yes. I had to research a lot about ships and sailing. The book actually takes place in 1802, so I didn’t need to know hardly anything about the French Revolution, which is too bad because I know a lot! But I pretty much knew nothing about naval warfare. Fortunately, my dad is a sailor and offered to help me make sense of all the books and research materials.

LLW: The 1st book in your new series The Fallen Ladies will be released in September 2012, can you tell us about When You Give a Duke a Diamond?

SG:Wow! You did your research! When You Give a Duke a Diamond is the first in a series of books about three glamorous courtesans in Regency London who get mixed up with some very dangerous diamonds and some equally dangerous men. In this first book, Juliet, the courtesan nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance, witnesses the murder of the fiancée of the powerful Duke of Pelham. She realizes she’s the killer’s next target, and she and Pelham have to work together to protect her and find the murderer.

LLW: In your opinion, what do you think makes a good story?

SG:I like all kinds of books, but the best ones are those where the reader can really connect with the hero and/or heroine. The reader is thinking, “I’ve felt like that” or “I wish I would say something like that.” Many of us read to imagine ourselves as someone else, maybe living in another place or era, and we want that sense of escapism. A good book let’s us step into another person’s shoes for a little while.

LLW: When you are writing a book, do you still read other books? And if so, do you stay away from your genre?

SG: I am always trying to find time to read because there are so many authors whose work I love, and many of my friends are authors. I do try and stay away from historical romance when I’m writing, but since it seems I’m always working on a new book, I do sometimes read an historical while I’m working on a new book. The Rogue Pirate’s Bride is my eleventh book, so I’m a lot less worried about being influenced by another author’s voice now than I was when I had only written a few historical romances.

LLW: What do you think is the most important thing an aspiring writer should know when it comes to writing or getting published?

SG: In the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.”

LLW: To get to know you a little better, I have som fun flash questions for you to answer. Don’t think about the answers, just tell us what first comes to mind.

  • As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
    SG: an opera singer
  • What was the last movie you saw?
    SG: Crazy, Stupid Love
  • Biggest TV addiction?
    SG: Downton Abbey
  • Guilty Pleasure?
    SG: Sleeping
  • Fruits or veggies?
    SG: Fruits
  • Favorite childhood toy?
    SG: Star Wars action figures
  • What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?
    SG: Brussels sprouts
  • What’s your karaoke song of choice?
    SG: Never done karaoke, but I’d probably pick something by Sheryl Crow or Jewel.

Thank you so much taking the time to answer these questions here at Laugh Love Write. Write On!


Revenge should be sweet, but it may cost him everything…
Out to avenge the death of his mentor, Bastien discovers himself astonishingly out of his depth when confronted with a beautiful, daring young woman who is out for his blood…

Forgiveness is unthinkable, but may be her only hope…
British Admiral’s daughter Raeven Russell believes Bastien responsible for her fiancé’s death. But once the fiery beauty crosses swords with Bastien, she’s not so sure she really wants him to change his wicked ways…
Enter for your chance to win a free copy of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride by Shana Galen

The amazingly generous Danielle at Sourcebooks Inc. is giving away one copies of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride to two lucky winners. USA/Canada only. To enter all you have to do is fill out this form and comment on this post with your answer to the following question… Who is your favorite kind of hero? (Do you fall for those nerdy guys with an incredible physique, alpha males with a dominating streak, or maybe it’s those bloodsucking vampires who get you all hot and bothered) Contest ends February 20.

Read my review of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride…here.




Four-time RITA® Award nominee and Golden Heart® Award winner Stephanie Rowe is the nationally bestselling author of more than twenty books. Stephanie writes romance (paranormal, contemporary and suspense), teen fiction, middle grade fiction and inspirational non-fiction. For more details, visit or visit me on Facebook or on Twitter at StephanieRowe2.

For the second time, Laugh Love Write is honored to have the talented author with us, so First things first. Your January 2012 release; Hold Me if You Can, tell us about it and how the story came about?

 Stephanie Rowe: In HOLD ME IF YOU CAN, book three of the Soulfire series, Nigel Aquarian is the only warrior who’s entirely at peace with his softer side. Give him a sketch pad and some markers, and he’s happy. But those that giveth; taketh away, and Nigel suddenly finds that his art has become deadly to those he loves. Without his art, Nigel has no outlet for his darker side. He has to find a way to regain control before he kills everyone he loves, and the only woman who can help him is Natalie Fleming, a passionate woman with a talent for chocolate, demons and maybe, just maybe, his salvation. If, of course, they don’t kill each other first.


When I started writing the Soulfire series, my goal was to take the traditional and twist it into unexpected directions. I wanted to surprise the reader by creating a powerful, sexy story about the triumph of love in the most unusual of circumstances. Of course, I wanted the men to be badass immortal warriors who had been sufficiently tortured to make it impossible for them to trust, to connect or to bond (except with the woman who was meant for them, and their loyal team of warriors). Who wouldn’t want that kind of man in her books?

 But I also wanted these guys to be more complex and unexpected than your typical tortured warriors. I wanted to turn the traditional paranormal hero on its head, so I wanted to give these guys an unexpectedly soft side that torments them as much as it gives them peace. I did that by having them spend a few centuries being tortured in the Den of Womanly Pursuits by Death’s grandma. While in the Den, the men of the Soulfire series were forced to tap into their softer sides. It’s to their great dismay and embarrassment that they have become addicted to their delicate pastimes for their sanity (literally), and they try their best to do their cross-stitching, knitting and other such skills in private, or when appropriately covered in the remnants of a man-battle. I wanted to show that a man can be a bad ass warrior, and still tap into his gentle nature without losing that which makes him so powerful and appealing.

 The whole series is based on that kind of approach: I wanted to take the expected and twist it on its head. Like the main villain in TOUCH IF YOU DARE is Cupid, who normally you’d think would be a good guy. The book is full of satirical twists on the paranormal romance norm, not just with the warriors, but in many different ways. I had a lot of fun creating it, and readers seem to enjoy it as well.

 I, personally like to see how authors envision their characters, so if Hold Me if You can gained a movie deal, who would you cast for the characters?

Stephanie Rowe:  Hugh Jackman for Nigel, because, well, Hugh is Hugh. For Natalie, I would say Kate Blanchett because of her intensity and her smile.

 (Hugh Jackman on the left and Cate Blanchett on the right…in case you didn’t know)



In a previous interview, you said Nigel of Hold Me if You Can was the hardest character for you to write. How do you feel about that now and has there ever been something you wanted to change?

Stehpanie Rowe: First off, let me just say that I love Nigel. I love how hard he fights to be the man he wants to be, and when his art is stolen from him, I love his courage and determination in finding another way to control the monster he carries within. I love how he cherishes Natalie, how he helps her in her own battle. I think he’s a great dichotomy of the deadly tortured warrior who can still be a total softie (and be damn proud of it!). Nigel is a total bad ass who can decimate the bad guys within seconds, but in his heart, he likes nothing more than to tap into his artistic side and pour all his inner tenderness into paints of those he loves. He’s the man who will write you poetry at the same time he’s slaying demons for you, and he’ll turn love making into the most beautiful experience ever, because he’s not afraid to tap into the side of him that is about beauty, love and harmony and to shower his woman with all that tenderness.

Nigel was a challenge to write, however, because in the first two books, he was very peaceful and serene, and he seemed to not have any inner conflicts. I had to really dig deep to find his secrets, and to portray them in a way that was consistent with how he had appeared in the first two books. He was a challenge, because he is the most complex of the characters so far, and I really wanted to do him justice. I love how he turned out, and I wouldn’t change it at all!

What do you think makes a good story?

Stephanie Rowe:  The emotions of the characters. I honestly believe that is the core of every good story. If a reader is sucked into the soul of the characters, if their struggles and travails and triumphs become emotionally compelling to the reader, then the reader is invested and will be caught up in the story no matter what the plot or setting or journey is. We live with our hearts every day, even when we try to be tough and pretend we don’t, so when a character awakens our hearts, that’s when the story comes to life.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

Stephanie Rowe: If so, what do you do about it? I used to have big problems with writer’s block, often resulting in extensive re-working of books (it was not uncommon for me to stop at page 300 and start over in a total rewrite because I’d gone off track). I believe that most writer’s block occurs because the author has gone off in the wrong direction. To clear the writer’s block, the author needs to back up and figure out where they went wrong. I wound up having to do that so much that I decided I needed to rework my system and get a better game plan and analysis system, which means I now do extensive pre-planning. I decided there had to be a more efficient process for getting the book to work, so I embarked on a three year long journey to learn as much as I could about how other authors plotted and revised their books. I read books, attended workshops and sought out advice wherever I could. I took all the information and techniques, sifted through them, and then put together an extensive set of plotting documents that takes me from first idea to finished book. It’s worked really well for me for five books, so I’m happy. It takes longer before I get to actually start writing the book, but it is so much more efficient!

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Stephanie Rowe: For synopsis writing, my bible is the synopsis workshop on Lisa Gardner’s website, I use it for every synopsis I write. For storytelling, I use a combination of the book Save the Cat (The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need) by Blake Snyder, “The Hero’s Journey” lecture on Mary Buckham’s website (for sale for about $20—every lecture on her website is brilliant. Get it). And the last critical item is Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Deb Dixon, which is the number one most important book to start with for beginning writers.

Do you have any tips for authors seeking to get published?

Stephanie Rowe: My usual advice is to write a lot, start new books instead of revising old ones to death, join RWA and go to conferences to learn about writing. And, of course, continuing to read. But with the advent of self-publishing, I would add a caveat of DON’T SELF PUBLISH TOO SOON. I wrote 18 books before I sold my first book. Had self-publishing been an option back then, I’m sure I would have put up lots of those books, and it would have been a mistake. Why? Because the books weren’t good enough. Recently, I decided to self-publish some of those old books, but when I went back to look at them, I realized that I would have had to completely rewrite them from scratch because they weren’t high enough quality to put up. The truth is that we often think we are ready to be published when we aren’t. Enter contests. Query agents. Write another book. And another. Eventually, when you start doing well in contests, and when you start getting good responses from agents, that will be a sign that you’re writing well enough that maybe it’s time for you to self-publish successfully. Until you can do well in those contests and get good responses from submissions, don’t put your book up on Amazon. Putting up books that aren’t ready will hurt you more than waiting a year will. Be patient. The opportunities aren’t going away. They are simply getting better.

 Christian’s the last of the four main warriors in the Soulfire series, so correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m assuming his book is next, can you tell us about it?

Stephanie Rowe: Yes, you’re right! Christian’s story is up next in SEIZE WITH YOUR KISS, which is scheduled for July 2012. Christian has been battling a huge burden that he hasn’t been able to share with his team, and it finally all comes crashing down around him. Like his teammates, Christian is a survivor and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means tracking down the one woman who could destroy him forever… or bring him back. I’m also happy to report that Death will finally get a girlfriend, one who is exactly what he needs, even if he doesn’t quite think so…

What comes after that for you? Will there be more to the Soulfire series or can we expect something entirely different?

Stephanie Rowe: There are definitely more books coming in the Soulfire series. Look for Pascale’s story in early 2012. You’ll get to know him a little better in Christian’s story, and you’ll be dying for his story by the end! As for other projects that are coming up, I have quite a busy 2012 scheduled! First up is the ebook release of my Alaska Heat romantic suspense series, which was originally published in paperback in 2009.

 ICE came out last week, and CHILL will be out in mid-February. Mid-march is the launch of my new dark, sexy paranormal series Order of the Blade, and there will be three books in that series out this spring. Summer will see the release of book four of the Soulfire series, SEIZE WITH YOUR KISS, and in the fall will be a new book from my Immortally Sexy paranormal romance series. There will be one more book in late 2012, but it’s still undecided about which series it will be. Late 2012 will also showcase two more teen books that are re-releases of books that were published a few years ago. So, lots of exciting things!

Thank you so much taking the time to answer these questions and visit us here at Laugh Love Write again. Write On!

For a review of Hold Me if You Can; Click Here.

For a review of Touch if You Dare; Click Here.

For a review of Kiss at Your Own Risk; Click Here.

Four-time RITA Award nominee and Golden Heart Award winner Stephanie Rowe is a national bestselling author of paranormal romance, and has written more than twenty-five novels. Stephanie has charmed reviewers with her unique blend of humor and otherworldly magic. She lives outside Boston, Massachusetts, where she is working on Book 3 in the Soulfire Series, Hold Me If You Can (January 2011).

Thanks for coming to Laugh Love Write today. To get to know you better, I figured we could do a round of quick flash questions, don’t forget to answer the first thing that comes to your mind.

What was the first romance novel you remember reading?
SR: It’s OK if You Don’t Love Me. I have no idea who the author was.
What is something you will never do again?
SR: I will never ignore it when my gut tells me something. Or at least, I will try.
What is the most unusual thing that has ever happened to you?
SR: Honestly, I can’t think of anything that’s unusual enough to qualify for this question!
What is your favorite word and why?
SR: Plethora. I don’t know why. I just love saying it. It rolls so nicely off the tongue.
If you could trade places with one person for a day, who would it be & why?
SR: Kim Clijsters, the professional tennis player. She has achieved all the success in the world professionally, and she has a great home life and family. She has always inspired me with her positive attitude, no matter what is going on in her life, and I admire that so much. I would love to feel what it’s like to be her.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
SR: Well, when I was a teenager, I was pretty sure I was going to be a psychiatrist. I was the one who all my friends came to when they were upset and wanted advice. I loved delving into the whys of what made people tick. I never went that route, but I feel like that same attraction to the inner workings of the human spirit carries through into my writing, as I delve into the depths of my character’s souls.
What was the last movie you saw?
SR: Pirates of the Caribbean IV. I love Captain Jack Sparrow!
Biggest TV addiction?
SR: Dancing with the Stars. I stumbled upon it accidentally with my daughter one night, and we both became addicted. I think I love it for three reasons: (1) I love the dancing (2) it is inspiring to watch the contestants dig deep to reach levels they didn’t think they could manage (3) I love the romance between the man and the woman while they are dancing.
Guilty Pleasure?
SR: Chocolate chip cookie dough.
Fruits or veggies?
SR: Fruit all the way! I actually eat a lot of veggies too, but I eat them out of duty. I eat the fruit because I LOVE it.
Favorite childhood toy?
SR: My model horses. I had a stable and I made blankets for them and spent hours and hours with them. No riders. No people. Just the horses.
Finish this sentence: Writing is like…
SR: …a gift of beauty that resonates all the way through my spirit.

Now, getting right into things, can you tell us how the story for Touch If You Dare came about?
SR:  My goal with the Soulfire series was to create a story that took the paranormal genre and twisted it into new, unpredictable directions. I wanted to surprise the reader, by creating a powerful, sexy story about the triumph of love in the most unusual of circumstances. For example, the dark, alpha tortured hero is deliciously yummy, but I wanted to do something more. I wanted to give these guys an unexpectedly soft side that torments them as much as it gives them peace. Each warrior in this series has his own special talent, one that he’s embarrassingly addicted to for his mental well-being, be it knitting, cross-stitching or flower arranging. I wanted to show that a man can be a bad ass warrior, and still tap into his gentle nature without losing that which makes him so powerful and appealing.

In Touch If You Dare, Jarvis Swain is an immortal warrior with a talent for French braiding, who is also the Guardian of Hate.  He’s on the fast track toward succumbing to the hate in an explosion that will be not-so-good for the world at large. His only chance to save the world? Get some love from his wayward brother, Cupid, who is more interested in his new future as a Death’s premiere assassin than love. Jarvis’s only chance? Teaming up with Reina Fleming, Death’s tender-hearted assistant, who will either bring him to his knees or save him forever.

 If Touch If You Dare gained a movie deal, which actors would you cast in the character roles?
SR:  Hugh Jackman for Jarvis. He can be so dark and sexy, but with a soft side beneath. For the heroine, it would have to be Drew Barrymore, because no matter how tough she tries to be, you always see that gentle heart of hers.

 In Touch If You Dare there are a couple of sexual scenes, do you find those hard to write?
SR: Back when I first started writing, I wasn’t comfortable with the love scenes. Now, I love them, because now, when I write them, I put myself into my character’s souls, and I feel what that moment means to them. And then, it becomes beautiful and poignant and an important moment that needs to be shared.

 I heard the Soulfire series will continue in January 2012 with Nigel’s story, Hold Me If  You Can. Can you tell us about it?
SR: Nigel Aquarian is the only warrior who is entirely at peace with his softer side. Give him a sketch pad and some markers, and he’s happy. But those that giveth taketh away, and Nigel suddenly finds that his art has become deadly to those he loves. Without his art, Nigel has no outlet for his darker side. He has to find a way to regain control before he kills everyone he loves, and the only woman who can help him is Natalie Fleming, a passionate woman with a talent for chocolate, demons and maybe, just maybe, his salvation. If, of course, they don’t kill each other first.

Which of the books in the Soulfire series was the easiest/hardest to write?
SR:  Touch If You Dare was definitely the hardest for me to write. I was going through a really difficult time in my life personally, and I had a really hard time believing in the words that I was writing. I kept doubting myself and starting over. In the end, however, I feel like the book came out great. Sometimes, it’s from the darkest places that light can shine the brightest.  The easiest for me to write was the first book in the series, Kiss at Your Own Risk. I think that was easy because I had no agenda with that book. It was the first one in the series, so I could do anything I wanted and just play. That freedom allowed me to create without judgment or pressure, and so the words flowed effortlessly.

 Out of the characters in the Soulfire series, which one would you say is/was the hardest to write and why?
SR: I think the hero of the third book, Hold Me If You Can, was the toughest for me to write. His situation was complex, and it was a challenge to convey his issues the way I wanted to. But he was such a lovely hero that I feel like his beauty shines forth in the end.

What sorts of things do you research for your novel, and what was the weirdest thing you found while searching?
SR: I do some research up front, during the brainstorming process, and I also do research along the way, when I encounter something new. There are so many different aspects to research: it may be researching the geography of the setting, it may be learning about weapons, or how fire works, what time the sun sets, or researching the impact of traumatic life events on real people. The topic of my research affects what resources I turn to.

 I read once that you put in a lot of planning before beginning a book, can you walk us through that process?
SR: About six years ago, after I’d endured three books in a row that required extensive rewriting both during the writing process and after I turned them into my editor, I decided that I need to develop a better strategy for getting the book right the first time through. I then dedicated the next four years to attending every workshop & lecture I could find on plotting and pre-work. I took the ideas that I liked, and I began to create assorted brainstorming documents for myself. I now have a set of eight or so different documents. I start with the first one, and as I work through that, it gives me ideas for the next one, which then builds to the next one and so on. By the time I’m done, my characters are vibrating with life, and I have a really solid chart of significant plot events, and I’m ready to start writing.

What do you read while writing and does it influence or interfere with your own writing?
SR: When I’m preparing to brainstorm a new book, I will read a bunch in that genre. I find that helps my mind settle into the direction I want to go. Once the brainstorming gains momentum and the story starts claiming a life of its own, I stop reading in that genre so that the story can go its own way and not be influenced into a certain direction by the other books. Then I usually switch to historical romances b/c that’s my favorite to read, and I never write it, so it’s my escape. I also find that historical romances are often the most romantic stories, so by reading them, I keep that feel of romance and love in my heart as I write my own stories.

 And last but not least, is there anything else you would like your writers to know about your or the books you write?
SR: I just want to say thank you to all the readers who have supported my books over the years. There’s nothing I love more than hearing from a reader about how one of my books has touched their heart.

Thank you so much taking the time to answer these questions here at Laugh Love Write. Write On!


He’s just about the hottest warrior she’s ever seen…
Reina Fleming really appreciates a man who’s on a mission—especially when he’s a badass warrior doing his best to impress her. And Jarvis is charmed by the way Reina’s magic touch can soothe his dark side.

But when Jarvis’s attention puts her job, her home, and her family in danger, Reina has to decide whether love is worth the price…

Enter the nonstop, action-packed world of Stephanie Rowe’s love stories—you’ll never think of the manly arts in the same way again.

Enter for your chance to win a free copy of Touch if You Dare by Stephanie Rowe

The always wonderful Danielle at Sourcebooks Inc. is giving away one copy of Touch if You Dare to two lucky winners. USA/Canada only. To enter all you have to do is fill out this form and comment on this post with your answer to the following question…Who is your favorite supernatural entity? Contest ends August 10.

Today we have with us the talented author of nearly 100 books, including 80 contemporary novels and more than a dozen non-fiction books. More than 35 million copies of her romance novels have been published by Harlequin. A 6 time RITA finalist, she has also received two Reviewer’s Choice awards from RT Book Reviews, and was the 2003 recipient of the Johnson Brigham Award. She is the author of On Writing Romance, published in January 2007 by Writers Digest Books. Leigh also teaches romance writing on the Internet at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Ottumwa, Iowa, where she is working on her third book from Sourcebooks, The Wedding Affair, which will be in stores in September. Her first book with Sourcebooks Inc. Publishing House sold to rave reviews, The Mistress’ House and is followed by Just One Season in London.

Let’s get right in to the questions about your newest book. Just One Season in London was just released. Can you tell us what scene in the book is your favorite?
LM: One of my favorites is near the end of the story when Sophie hijacks her brother’s horse, tears her dress so she can ride astride, and takes off across the park in pursuit of the man who she simply can’t let get away. I loved writing that scene, largely because it parallels an earlier scene where they even say some of the same things to each other. And because Sophie is something of a renegade – she’s young enough not to think about the consequences.

I have to say, the novel was wonderfully written to add some suspense to the final pairing up of the characters. I wasn’t sure who was getting a HEA or who they were getting it with. How did you come up with the plot for Just One Season in London?
LM: I started writing with the basic idea of a mother, son, and daughter who are all trying to marry money – not to make life easier for themselves, but to take care of the other two. It’s the element of sacrifice which made this story so satisfying for me. I knew pretty much how Miranda’s story would end – though some of the details surprised me – and I was fairly certain of Rye’s happy ending. But I didn’t know who Sophie would end up with until I was about halfway through writing the book.

How much research did you have to undertake to make this historical romance novel?
LM: I think I’ve been researching the Regency period forever, first by reading novels set in the Regency period and then by absorbing all the non-fiction resources I could find. I usually have a reference book nearby and in odd moments I open it at random just to refresh my memory, because a writer never knows what detail she’ll want to use. Among the specific materials I obtained for this book was an illustrated guide to London at that time, so I could see what Grosvenor Square actually looked like. Also period maps, to visualize how different sites related to each other geographically and what the characters would see as they looked out windows or rode in carriages.

Tell us about your process of writing Just One Season in London, any outlines or plans?
LM: This book includes 66 separate scenes and four distinct points of view – so to keep each of the individual stories flowing, I kept a list of the scenes. For each scene I had a short tag line which included the POV character’s name, so I could glance at the list and know exactly how long it had been since I had used a particular point of view or advanced that specific romance.

If Just One Season in London gained a movie deal, which actors would you cast in the character roles?
LM: I’m absolutely terrible at the game of choosing actors – would any of your readers like to make suggestions? – but I would like to see Maggie Smith as Lady Stone. She could play both the cynical and romantic sides of that character with panache.

Your next book The Wedding Affair is coming out in September of this year, can you tell us about it?
LM: The Duke of Somervale’s sister is getting married at his country estate, and half of England is invited. But most of the guests have other things – not the wedding – on their minds. Wife-of-convenience Penelope Townsend is hoping to use the trip to the duke’s estate to seduce her husband into a real marriage… Vicar’s daughter Kate Blakely is desperate for a job that will let her escape the village… and poverty-stricken widow Olivia Reyne will stop at nothing to secure her daughter’s future, even if that means pretending to adore the duke – while the duke himself is dodging the covey of bridesmaids who are stalking him.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
LM: I’ve been a writer since I was very small – there is some perfectly dreadful poetry in my baby book. My degree is in journalism, because I wanted to make my living as a writer. Fortunately for me, I was able to do that by writing fiction instead.

What do you think makes a good story?
LM: To draw me in, a good read has to have interesting characters – people I would like to be friends with – facing intriguing problems with style and grace and humor.

Do you draw inspiration from reading other books, from family, or other sources?
LM: I’ve built entire books on a random comment someone made to me over lunch. I’ve used incidents that have happened to my friends (though, luckily for my friends, the incidents are usually much worse in the book than in real life). The most useful single source for me is newspapers, where there are stories about people facing odd or unusual problems. That serves as a takeoff point to ask, “What if this happened next?” or “What if he did this instead of that?”

What have you discovered is the most challenging part of writing?
LM: Actually putting the rear in the chair day after day and producing pages, when I sometimes don’t feel like it, or when the story feels as if it’s not going anywhere. Writing a book is a BIG project, and at the beginning it feels as if it will never be done no matter how many hours I sit there, so taking a walk is a much more inviting alternative.

What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
LM: Other than a wastebasket (or the electronic equivalent), not much. I often use Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die website ( when I’m writing a first draft, because facing consequences keeps me writing instead of second-guessing and editing and picking at flaws. That gets a lot of words on paper in a hurry, and then I can edit and polish and make them good.

Finish this sentence, Writing is like…
LM: Writing a book is like moving a train. Starting up from a dead stop and pulling out of the station takes a huge amount of energy, but it’s exciting to begin a new journey (or a new book). Then once the train is rolling and up to speed, the momentum carries it along and it’s actually hard to stop until you reach your destination – and write The End.

And last but not least, is there anything else you would like readers to know about you or the books you write?
LM: I love writing triple stories – three heroes, three heroines, three romances melded into one book. And I’d love to hear what readers think of that approach!


A family that courts together…
Viscount Ryecroft has a beautiful sister he needs to marry off… if only he had the money for her Season in London.

His family is in financial ruins, and his mother is willing to do anything to help her children, including sell herself to the highest bidder…

Finds passion on their own…
Sophie Ryecroft will sacrifice love to marry for the good of her family… but instead finds passion and solace in an attractive alternative.

With so much riding on their one and only Season in London, Rye, Sophie, and Miranda can’t help but get hopelessly entangled with all the wrong people…

Celebrated author Leigh Michaels effortlessly weaves three tales of unexpected romance with surprising twists you won’t soon forget.

Enter for your chance to win a free copy of Just One Season in London by Leigh Michaels

The always wonderful Danielle at Sourcebooks Inc. is giving away one copy of Just One Season in London to two lucky winners. USA/Canada only. To enter all you have to do is fill out this form and comment on this post with your answer to the following question…Who is your favorite historical man? Contest ends August 5.

And be sure to check out the other current give aways on the far right column.

Today, I am pleased to welcome award-winning author Catherine Mann to Laugh Love Write. For those of you who don’t know, Catherine Mann writes romantic suspense novels with heartstopping men-in-uniform from branches of our Armed Services. Out now, is the first book in her new Elite Forces series, Cover Me. Two-time USA Today bestselling author Catherine Mann’s military romances have sold over 2 million copies and also been on the WaldenBooks bestsellers list. She has won the RITA, Bookseller’s Best Award, and finaled for RT Reviewer’s Choice, the Maggie, and the RITA (five times.) Her husband is an Air Force Colonel and they live near Pensacola, FL.So sit back and re/introduce yourself to this amazing woman.

LLW: Thanks for coming to Laugh Love Write Catherine, it is an honor indeed… to get right to the point, I read that you gained inspiration for the setting of Cover Me from a magazine, how do you usually come up with your stories?

Catherine Mann: Thank you for inviting me to hang out here today!  I’m thrilled to visit with folks on your blog.  In answer to your question, for me, stories can be found everywhere – magazines, news, real life, even just a flash of something that starts my imagination going.  I have more ideas for books than I have time to write!

LLW: I read in a long-ago interview of yours that you have visuals/pictures of your characters before/as you write them, who did you visualize for the characters of Cover Me?

Catherine Mann: In the cover art information I sent to my publisher for Cover Me, I included a photo of a bare chested Collin Farrell for the hero Wade Rocha, and a pensive photo of Olivia Wilde for the heroine Sunny Foster.

**For your viewing pleasure, I added a picture of both Colin Farrell and Olivia Wilde**

LLW: Now I know my favorite scene in Cover Me, if I had to choose, is a certain helicopter ride scene involving a sneeze, I laughed so hard…what would you say is your favorite scene?

Catherine Mann: Ahhh!  Great question!  I sat on the edge of my seat, feet bouncing with energy as I wrote the scene where Wade chases Sunny through the snow, they fall into a crevice in the ice tangled up together, begin kissing explosively – and then see a dead body frozen in the ice.

LLW: I am sure it helps to have an airman has a husband, but did you have to do any other special research for Cover Me or any of your previous novels?

Catherine Mann: My chiropractor is a former pararescueman and he has been awesome about sharing amazing stories from his days on active duty.  I’ve also interviewed people my husband works with.  I recall one time in particular when I was working on Anything, Anywhere, Anytime I had a secondary character who’s an Army Ranger.  My husband immediately chimed in that he worked with a former Ranger medic who’d swapped to the Air Force.  We invited the guy to supper and in exchange for his stories, the lieutenant got to watch my then lieutenant colonel husband do the dishes. By the way, Anything, Anywhere, Anytime and a number of my extensive military romantic suspense backlist have been re-issued in ebook form.  For more information on those, check out the books page on my website:

LLW: The 2nd book in the Elite Forces series, Hot Zone is expected out December 2011, can you tell us about it?

Catherine Mann: Here’s an early draft of the back cover copy!  “For Pararescueman Master Sergeant Hugh Franco, it’s all about saving other people’s lives. Then he moves on. But when he pulls beautiful Amelia Bailey and her adopted nephew from the rubble of a catastrophic earthquake, he finds himself entangled in their lives in ways he could never have imagined… Amelia’s trip to the Bahamas to help with an international adoption has been no vacation, but the hardest part is yet to come. As Amelia and Hugh are pulled unawares into a deadly smuggling scheme, simmering beneath their growing need to protect each other is a compelling attraction they’re both determined to deny!”

Catherine Mann on Writing

LLW: In your opinion, what do you think makes a good story?

Catherine Mann: Characters! Characters!!  Characters!!!  I believe a keeper shelf story hinges on a relatable hero and heroine that we care about.  And as for the villain, he/she needs to be multidimensional with motivations of his/her own, twisted though they may be.  The more complex the villain, the scarier the threat.

LLW: When you are writing a book, do you still read other books? And if so, do you stay away from your genre?

Catherine Mann: I read from all genres, all the time.  I have my Kindle loaded and my bedside table stacked with paperbacks and hardbacks.  Although, you’re right, I do tend to save the Harlequin Desires and military romances for when I’m between projects.  Recently, I’ve read The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, Love You More by Lisa Gardner, Faithful Place by Tana French, Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros. Other romance authors I enjoy, Olivia Gates, Joanne Rock, Jules Bennett, Day LeClaire, Suzanne Brockmann, Cindy Gerard, Lori Foster, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love…my list could go on and on!

LLW: Having a Marine as a dad, I certainly take away something special from your books, but What do you want readers to take away from your stories?

Catherine Mann: I want readers to envision a human face for our men and women who serve in uniform.  I hope that readers will see the vast missions and sacrifices made by service members and their families.  And most of all, I hope readers will lose themselves in the stories and savor the read as I have done with so many books by my favorite authors.

Catherine Mann gets Personal

LLW: To get to know you a little better, I have som fun flash questions for you to answer. Don’t think about the answers, just tell us what first comes to mind.

  • As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? A teacher and a writer.
  • What was the last movie you saw? Sunshine Cleaning (on Netflix.)  I love movies but just don’t have the time to go to the theater.  So I often keep the TV running while I’m writing.  I’m a HUGE Netflix fan!  I’m always on the lookout for a new movie or series to watch.  I periodically ask folks on Facebook for recommendations.
  • Biggest TV addiction? I adore Law and Order: SVU.  I’m heartbroken to hear that Elliot Stabler/Christopher Meloni is leaving the show.
  • Guilty Pleasure? Cinnamon red hots.  I know every place in town that sells them.
  • Fruits or veggies? I’m a picky, picky eater and there are a lot of foods I really don’t care for.  If I have to choose though, I would generally say I like more fruits than veggies.
  • Favorite childhood toy? An easel chalkboard and my swing set.
  • What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten? Peas.  I despise them.  Lima beans too.  Ick.  Any kind of beans really.  (Childish, I know.)
  • What’s your karaoke song of choice? LOL!  So funny you should ask!  We just had a 4th of July neighborhood picnic and I sang “Wild Thing.”
  • If they made a movie of your life, who would play you? I have a Master’s Degree in theater.  Can I play myself?

Again, thanks so much for coming to Laugh Love Write, I can’t wait for Hot Zone.


It should have been a simple mission…
Pararescuman Wade Rocha fast ropes from the back of a helicopter into a blizzard to save a climber stranded on an Aleutian Island, but Sunny Foster insists she can take care of herself just fine…

But when it comes to passion, nothing is ever simple…
With the snowstorm kicking into overdrive, Sunny and Wade hunker down in a cave and barely resist the urge to keep each other warm… until they discover the frozen remains of a horrific crime…

Unable to trust the local police force, Sunny and Wade investigate, while their irresistible passion for each other gets them more and more dangerously entangled…

Enter for your chance to win a free copy of Cover Me by Catherine Mann

The always wonderful Danielle at Sourcebooks Inc. is giving away one copy of Cover Me to two lucky winners. USA/Canada only. To enter all you have to do is fill out this form and comment on this post with your answer to the following question…Who is your favorite man-in-uniform?



Also click on the following blog tour button to enter for your chance to win a copy of your choice from the Sea Witch Voyages by Helen Hollick.

Phillipa Ashley is the author of Dating Mr. December, the hit novel that inspired the Lifetime Movie; 12 Men of Christmas starring Kristin Chenoweth. Not only is that awesome in and of itself, but that was only her first novel! Now the multi-published author is winning over fans in more than one country and we can only hope the fantastic author keeps on writing. Today, she takes the time to visit LLW and give fellow writers some pointers on bringing characters to life.

“Cardboard Cutouts vs. Captivating Characters”

by Phillipa Ashley

I’d love to be able to give a simple answer to how to create captivating characters. I hope my characters aren’t cardboard. They certainly feel real while I’m writing them. Every writer works  differently but here are my top tips.
1. Give your characters a history
The reader needs to feel she’s been let into the middle of a real life. You can do this by creating a strong, vivid back story for your characters. That doesn’t mean introducing a hero or heroine with tons of back-story but it does mean you have to know what has made your H and h the people they are. What has shaped their feelings, emotions and attitudes? If you know what has happened to them before they appear on the page, you’ll be able to make them the rounded, real people  from the start.
2. Get to know your characters inside out.
You’ll need to know your characters inside out to make them fully fleshed people. This may not happen – and usually won’t – until the end of a first draft at least. I’m not a big fan of writing character charts and plans before I start a book. I prefer to write myself into the characters, knowing some scenes won’t make the final version. I just start writing and see how they develop as I go along. That’s part of the fun, seeing how they turn out.
3. Don’t try and fit a character into a mould
Listen to your own instincts and forget those heroes and heroine you adore in your favourite author’s novels (however wonderful his or her books are.)  Focus on creating people who live and breathe in your imagination. It’s your take on what how they’d act that will make your characters unique. And if your characters want to do something different to what you’d planned, then let them!
4. Make your characters suffer
Raise the stakes for them, make them confront their past hurts and face their deepest fears. Giving characters big challenges is a lot of fun and also helps you to uncover deeper layers of personality. For instance, I love writing flawed, angsty heroes who get things wrong, and at times don’t act heroically at all. Guilt is an emotion that fascinates me and I love exploring it.
I also like heroines who aren’t always ‘strong’ and smiling in adversity. I don’t know about you, but I get upset, angry, irrational and unreasonable sometimes when I’m hurt of afraid or sad. I think that a heroine should be like that. Not perfect, not even close to perfect but real.
Hope that helps!

Thanks so much Phillipa. We, writers always appreciate help where we can get it and I am honored to have you on Laugh Love Write.

A little about Phillipa Ashley’s new book Wish You Were Here


Published by Sourcebooks
ISBN: 978-1402241444
Paperback: June 1, 2011
Jack Thornfield, new CEO, is shocked to see his long lost love, Beth Allen’s resume come across his desk. After 8 years apart they have a second chance at happiness in this romantic story about love and secrets.

Matt Dunn is the witty and always entertaining author of The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook, a book that in no little way, let women into the always confusing minds of men. Finally! Matt Dunn has written about life, love, and relationships for the Times, Guardian, The Sun, and a number of magazines, including Company, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, and Scarlet. Now, he writes fictional, yet so true, novels that entertain and captivate readers. So, without further adieu, I introduce Matt Dunn…

Character Emotions

by Matt Dunn

Character emotions may seem a strange thing for a man to be writing about. After all – we’re guys, right? We don’t have emotions. Or if we do, we certainly don’t show them.

And neither – or so I thought – did I. When I first started out as an author, I simply wanted to write comedies. Romantic comedies, sure, but the emphasis was going to be on the humour. None of this introspective, soul-searching, heart-rending, touchy-feely soppy stuff. Mainly because as a man, if I didn’t know how to talk about it, then I wasn’t sure I knew how to write it.

What I did know, though, was how to be honest. Honesty is something I’ve always tried to achieve in my writing, so what I did was simply write about how I felt, or rather, what I felt – or might feel – about the situations my characters found themselves in. And I tried to do the best job I could.

Even so, when The Ex-Boyfriend’s Handbook was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel Of The Year award, no-one was more surprised than me. Well, no-one apart from my girlfriend, perhaps, who greeted the news with ‘Romantic?! You?!’ followed by a peal of laughter that took a long time to die down.

What didn’t die down, though, was the number of emails I received, mostly from women, thanking me for ‘explaining’ the mystery that was their boyfriend’s – or in many cases, their ex-boyfriend’s – behaviour. The two main characters in the books, Ed (the low self-esteem, uncertain how women work but general nice guy) and Dan (the good-looking, confident, thinks-he-knows-it-all lady-killer) apparently – between them, at least – seemed to conspire to give, through their two opposing viewpoints, a pretty realistic picture of what it is we men think and feel about some of the major relationship issues we’re bound to encounter in life.

For a while, I wondered whether I’d been too honest. Maybe given the game away. Would there be groups of angry men chasing me down the street with torches for spilling all our secrets? Fortunately not – the male reaction seemed to be that I’d helped them to laugh at themselves, and even, in some cases, to make sense of their own emotions.

Interestingly, unexpectedly, a lot of people wrote to me asking what happened next, and strangely, many of them seemed rather interested in Dan – in both senses of the word. And that’s how Ex-Girlfriends United was born. When it came to writing it, the focus was on just what it is us guys do in relationships that really annoys you women. And while some of Dan’s behaviour was perhaps a little extreme, it was a useful exercise to look at just why some of this stuff was annoying, and why we’d do it in the first place. And while not all of it was drawn from personal experience, I certainly had to do some soul-searching myself!

It’s easier, I think, as a novelist, to write about character emotions when you’re writing in the first person – you just tell it as you see it. It’s also easier if you’ve experienced the situations that you’re writing about: Memory is a wonderful thing, and applying that to scenarios you’ve engineered on the page to produce a heartfelt response can actually be a theraputic process.

Maybe it’s easier as a reader too, to connect with the characters, especially if you feel like you’re inside the head of the protagonist, so you see things through their eyes, feel what they feel in real-time, and understand their thoughts as they give ‘voice’ to them. As to which if them is most like me, or rather, am I either of them – a question I’m often asked – I’d have to say I fall somewhere in the middle!