A Deadly Future

Posted in Contests, Romance on January 22nd, 2011 by guest


Robin K. is the winner!

Robin, please email me: contact AT carrielofty DOT com. Select one of Ann’s available solo works (here: and one of mine (here: I’ll send you your selections to the address you provide. Congratulations!

Thanks to Cindy for inviting me here, and to everyone for stopping by!


Hi, everyone! Carrie Lofty here. Thanks so much to Cynthia for inviting me to stop by today! Her holiday celebrations are almost as much fun as her books are to read.

I’m also in good company. Like Lisa Renee Jones from yesterday’s post, I also have five books coming out in 2011. Hard to believe! The Regency-era Portrait of Seduction will be released in May from Carina Press, and in November I begin a new Victorian series from Pocket, which kicks off with His Vows to Keep. All very lovely and historical.

But not very deadly. I think only one villain bites in between the two books.

With Ellen Connor however…that’s where the deadly fun really starts.

Ellen Connor is the pseudonym I share with my friend Ann Aguirre. In late 2008 we decided to give co-writing a try, when Ann had an idea for an apocalyptic romance. Vicious monster dogs. Shapeshifters. End-of-the-world horrors. Oh, and amazingly hot sex between our tough chick, Jenna, and her ex-military partner, Mason. Thus Nightfall was born, the first of our “Dark Age Dawning” trilogy from Berkley.

Writing it was a blast. We wrote for ourselves, just enjoying the freedom of tackling a project without any expectations. We didn’t even know if we could work together long-term! But the deeper we climbed into our apocalyptic world, the more fun we had. And the more bodies piled up.

It was quite the change for me. My medieval romances had a slightly higher body count–you know, all those random guards that have to be fought when escaping a castle–but this was entirely different. We had to figure out how to kill evil monsters using WD-40. We had to decide how people would go about eating while trapped in a bunker with no electricity. And as a bonus, we even managed a way to make having sex in a Home Depot ultra hot. Doubters! Fear not! It is very possible!

What I learned is that there are just as many difficulties in writing a fictional world as there are in recreating an historical setting. (I’d never done this before, so the process was surprising.) When we had a question about what was happening, I couldn’t consult a book or find a primary source. Nope. Just…make it up? Really? The answers to all of our deadly, nasty, drooling, shapeshifting problems were all in our brains. Sometimes two brains gave us a problem-solving edge. Sometimes we had two very different ideas about how the story should proceed.

So needless to say, it was unlike any writing experience either of us had ever had. We successfully recreated the magic formula when we tackled Midnight this past summer, and we’re hip-deep in Daybreak right this moment. The trio hits the shelves in June, September and December. Here’s a little taste of Nightfall:

From out of the enveloping darkness, Jenna caught the faint baying of distant hounds. Only they didn’t sound like any dogs she’d ever heard. Their howls echoed with an unwholesome wetness, as if they keened through blood. Her heart skipped a beat, and the cold cut through her jacket like icy knives.

The second scariest part? Mason was about the most harmless thing in the woods.

“We have to get back to the cabin.” He tugged her hand. “You’re not ready for a fight.”

“Will I be?”

He leveled a steady look on her, his confidence and secrets almost hidden in the near dark. “Yes.”

Jenna had no time to think about that, stumbling as he pulled her back toward the cabin. She hunched into her jacket, feeling naked and undone. They sounded closer now. She smelled them too, a noxious stench that reminded her of graveyards. In her mind’s eye, she could almost see them, hideous skeletal things with flesh barely clinging to bone.

But that was crazy. They were just dogs, some strays that had gone feral.

Shadows flashed in her peripheral vision. She put on more speed, the feeling of life or death hitting her hard. The threat was intuitive, on a soul-deep level, and kicked her flight response into high gear. Dry, brittle branches whipped her face as they ran. They felt like bony fingers clawing at her skin, and she swallowed a scream.

I want to wake up now. Time to wake up. The only reply to her desperation came in the form of Mason’s warm fingers twined with hers.

Are you a fan of apocalyptic romances? Does the idea of a happy ending even at the end of the world work for you as a romance? Leave a comment or question and I’ll give one random winner a book from my backlist and one from Ann’s. Your choice. Good luck!

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NaNaWriMo – again!

Posted in Contests, Latest News on November 15th, 2010 by guest

Hi, everyone! Today it is my pleasure to welcome my Brava Writing With The Stars mentee, Dale Mayer, back to my blog. I’d like to congratulate Dale on advancing to the second round of the competition. Way to go, Dale!  And, don’t forget–you can vote now. The second round of voting focuses on the heroes and heroines.

Thank you for being here, Dale!  And good luck in the rest of the contest!


Thanks to Cynthia for inviting me to join you here again today.  It’s always a pleasure, particularly as we’re discussing one of my favourite events – NaNoWriMo!

I see the Internet is abuzz with both good and bad comments about this annual Write a Book in a Month event and although, I’m not big on controversy I am big on doing what works for you.

NaNo works for me.

Why?  For many reasons.  Let me explain.  NaNo for me is a challenge – not against everyone else, but against the amount of work I set FOR myself.  I’m a fast typist and a fast writer (no they are not the same thing) and I love to see what I can do.  I’ve done NaNo for several years and I’ve won the challenge each time.  That’s not the point.  The point is that I set the goal and I reached the goal.  Finished.

Regardless of how you view NaNo, it does create a lot of enthusiasm and ‘get up and go’ energy.  What you do with that energy is up to you.

Two years ago, I finished my 50,000 words a little early and continued to add to my novel.  Last year though, I blew through a barrier I hadn’t even known existed until I butted up against it.  I wrote a complete first draft of 93,600 words.  I was amazed at how the book went down on paper.  I was an all out pantzer with only the characters’ names and occupations and a two sentence blurb in my head as to who and what was going to happen.  Yes, it took several drafts this last year to pull it into shape and yes, there is one final one to go.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth doing.  As a matter of fact, that manuscript has turned out phenomenally well.

My reasons for participating two years ago were to finish in decent shape at the end of the month.  Done.  Last year I wanted to stretch and see what I could do.  Done – and now I understand the limits I had placed on my own abilities.  This year, well it’s not like I can sit back and not try to repeat last year’s success – right?  So I set a daily word count of 3,000 for 30 days to make 90,000 again.  As of today I haven’t missed hitting that mark.  If fact, I’m just over 46,000 at the halfway mark.  So all’s good right?

Except for two things.  This year I went into the NaNo process with some story architecture behind me, compliments of Larry Brooks and his very helpful website.  I’m still learning but the adaptations had made it easier for me to hit the high points in the story and whip past them to the next major point.  Is this making it easier to do NaNo – No.  Will it give me a cleaner first draft when I’m done?  I hope so.  According to Larry it will, so I’m willing to go on a little trust here.

The second thing I have changed this year and I don’t know how successful I’m going to be with this addition to my work load, is I am printing off what I have written during the week and am redlining all of it over the weekend and inputting the changes as I move forward.  This might seem unnecessary at this stage, for me however, it helps to keep the various threads running through the story.  Then if I drop one, I can catch it and fix it right away and it helps me to keep my characters in…well… in character!  I’m not naive enough to think this changes the story from a first draft to a finished draft because if doesn’t.  What it does do is help me make as a clean and as accurate a first draft as I can.

That’s what I mean about challenging myself.  The choices I make that are right for me are not the same choices that are right for you.  They aren’t supposed to be.

Don’t kid yourself.  Finishing your NaNo novel does not put you up on the NY Times bestsellers list!  However, it does make you a winner in so many ways!

For me it works!  How about you.  Do you NaNo?  Do you enjoy it?  Hate it?  Are you participating this year and if you are – how are you doing?  Are you on track?  Or are you so far behind you’re considering quitting?  Or have you blown the competition away and have started your second book?  Yeah, I’m kidding on the last one! Or do you stay as far away from us nutcases during this time as you can?

Dale Mayer
Writing for the Stars Finalist – Round 2 and counting!

Dale can be found on Twitter at: or you can follow her on Facebook.

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Recipe for Halloween Fun: The Poisoned Appletini

Posted in Contests, Romance on October 20th, 2010 by guest

Update: Marilyn’s winner is…Sue Brandes! Congrats, Sue!!

It’s such a thrill to get to be part of Cynthia’s Halloween Blog Party today! Thanks so much for letting me join in ;). Because I’m a guest, I wanted to bring along a treat for the party’s host (*waving to Cynthia*) and all her friends…so I brought the drinks! Let me explain why I chose these…

In my new October book, Friday Mornings at Nine, three friends get together weekly for coffee and conversation. They discuss their marriages, their jobs, their lives — just like a lot of suburban moms do. But, one fall morning, after one of the women admits to getting emails from her college ex-boyfriend, they also begin to wonder if they married the right man…which leads to much drama, some humor and a lot of relationship complications.

One of the story’s major turning points takes place at an adults-only Halloween party. (Because, hey, what better backdrop is there for games of romantic pretense, right?) There are costumes, of course. Spooky music. And snacks. Because there’s a fairy-tale theme running throughout the story, too, I had a lot of fun getting to name the foods served at the party: Three Bloody Pigs in a Blanket, Jack and the Bean-Dip, Golden Goose Deviled Eggs and, of course, Poisoned Appletinis!

So, I’m here to raise my glass to all of you Halloween revelers today and share my version (and a couple of variations) of the recipe with you, just in case you’d like to make it for your grown-up friends in the real world while the costumed kidlets are chomping on their candy!

Poisoned Appletini (Marilyn’s pink version):
2 parts vodka
1 part apple schnapps
1 part Cointreau
1 part apple cider
Directions: rim a chilled martini glass with apple-flavored sugar rimmer; mix all the other ingredients with ice; shake and strain into the glass; garnish with a slice of apple.

You can also make it GREEN by substituting the 1 part Cointreau above for 1 part Midori melon liqueur and the 1 part apple cider above with a good squeeze of lime juice.

OR you can go a completely different way with it and make Caramel Appletinis using only 2 parts Bacardi Big Apple Rum and 2 parts butterscotch schnapps and an apple slice garnish.

Sound good? I hope so. What are some of your favorite Halloween snacks? Are you a candy person? (I’ll confess to an Almond Joy addiction.) Popcorn balls? Hot stews or warm cinnamon ciders? Anything with pumpkin? I’d love to hear your faves and will give away one copy of Friday Mornings at Nine (after midnight EST tonight!) to a commenter on today’s post.

Thanks, again, for having me visit, Cynthia, and wishing you all a fabulously frightening Halloweeeeeen!!

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Paranormal Party–Psychic Time

Posted in Contests, Romance on October 12th, 2010 by guest

Hi, everyone! Today it is my pleasure to have my Brava Writing With the Stars mentee, Dale Mayer, as my blog party guest!  Dale has written a fabulous (dark, sexy, and exciting!) story for the Brava contest.  Welcome to the party, Dale!!  Hope you enjoy your stay.


Thanks to Cynthia for putting me on her guest list for the Halloween party. What a great place to hang out!

My most recent romantic suspense titles all have a form of psychic ability in them as I continue to feed my fascination with all things paranormal. But what starts this kind of interest? In my case, it was a very strange spooky occurrence that happened a long time ago. What better place to share this spooky take than on a Halloween blog!

At eighteen I was sharing a house with a roommate while I worked at saving enough money to go to college and taking requisite courses for entrance.

This one evening I was working on my homework at the kitchen table on the second floor of this large empty house. There was a large kitchen window overlooking the empty field and the table sat in front of it. I sat so I was staring out the window. It was close to eleven at night. Because it was late at night and I had a light on in the kitchen, the window was a dark black space which showed nothing of the outside world.

I glanced up from my work to see a man walking inside the door. He was in his late twenties, with a lock of brown hair falling across his forehead. Dressed in jeans and a green plaid shirt, he was rolling back the cuff of the sleeve on his left arm. See the details are still so clear, even though it happened decades ago.

My reaction? I freaked. I bounced back from the chair and spun around. The same kitchen stove and cupboards were there. I spun around to look out the window but the man had gone. The things to remember here are:

• I was on the second floor.
• The front door was downstairs and was locked.
• I was staring into a window out at nothing – there were no other houses in front of me.
• The other side of the kitchen is what should have been in the reflection – there’s no door that can be seen from anywhere close to that window.
• The house was empty except for me at the time.

Alone, I was terrified because I thought someone had come inside my house. Rationally, I knew it couldn’t be possible, but I couldn’t convince myself. I searched the house, shaking and panicked, forcing myself to check closets, under beds etc.

Still shaking I called my mother and told her. She went really quiet by the time I was done. She said I should go and visit her next the day. At least she calmed me down and I could get back to work – in my own bedroom with the door locked until my roommate came home.

The next day, I went to my mother’s house after work. She waited for a few minutes, then pulled a picture out of the book she was reading and handed it over to me. I stared at it in shock. “This is him. This is the man that I saw in the window last night.” And it was – right down to the green plaid shirt and the man in the picture rolling the cuff back on his arm – left arm no less. I dropped the picture and asked her, “Who is he?”

The sad smile she gave me almost broke my heart, but it’s what she said that stunned me. “He’s your father.”

The same father who’d died over sixteen years earlier.

True story I swear. The overwrought imagination of young woman? Maybe. A visit from a father, long dead? Who knows? But I’ve been fascinated ever since!

What about you? Anyone else have a weird experience like that? What drives you to write about the paranormal?  Share your stories with me, and one commenter will win an early copy of Cynthia’s ETERNAL FLAME.

Dale Mayer is multipubbed in non-fiction, and writes both adult and young adult fiction focusing on taut psychological suspense with romance and paranormal elements. She’s currently a finalist in Brava’s Writing for the Stars contest! Voting opened yesterday on October 11th and goes to the 24th.  Come out and join the fun!

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October is the Month of . . .

Posted in Contests, Romance on October 5th, 2010 by guest

Update: The winner is…Kate N. (Yzhabella)! Congrats!

Thanks so much to Cynthia for inviting me to her Halloween blog party.

What does October symbolize to you? I was thinking about that the other day because I have a brand new release and it’s . . . can you guess? A Christmas anthology – The Naughty List. Okay, I love this because I’m in a book with Cynthia Eden and Donna Kauffman! But, hmm, Christmas stories, coming out at the beginning of October? That’s just a little too early for me (actually, it’s about 2 months too early for me!)

For me, October means a lot of things, and Christmas isn’t one of them. LOL. It’s the month when I can no longer fool myself that it’s still summer. The red and gold autumn leaves and the chill in the air won’t let me forget it’s autumn. I’m Canadian, so it’s also the month of Thanksgiving. (We Canadians are so much more sensible about that. We get a long weekend in October, and we get to eat turkey in October then again in December, rather than twice right in a row.)

Of course October is also the month that ends with Halloween. When I was a kid I so looked forward to that special evening. I’m not so much a spooks and goblins girl, but I did love planning a costume and, for one evening of the year, transforming myself into someone else. (Cowgirl was one of my favorites.) It was so much fun joining up with another family for fireworks – and yes, I’m old enough that we had fireworks and even firecrackers. I wasn’t so keen on the things that went bang, but I loved sparklers. Fairy wands!! And of course it was so terrific to be out after dark, trick-or-treating around the neighborhood and collecting sacks of candy.

But for me, the very best part was what happened after those bags were full. I always trick-or-treated with my best friend Anne, and afterwards we’d lug all our loot to the kitchen of one of our houses and empty our bags on the table. Then we’d share. Because, you know, sometimes different things go into each bag and neither of us wanted to come out better than the other. Aw, isn’t that sweet? I can’t believe what nice little girls we were. And then, of course, she liked some treats better than I did, and vice versa, so we’d swap those off. (I still, to this day, don’t understand the point of milk chocolate. I’m sorry, but if you want chocolate, eat the real stuff – the rich, super-dark, exotic, orgasmic . . . Oops, off on a tangent there. Excuse me a minute while I go grab a slice of a Terry’s dark chocolate orange . . .)

So, anyhow, after childhood experiences like those, is it any wonder that, when I began to write fiction, friendship was one of the themes I just had to write about?

What’s your favorite memory of Halloween – be it spooky or sweet? I’ll do a random draw and one person who comments will win a copy of The Naughty List, with a bookplate autographed by Cynthia, Donna, and me. (And, if you’re like me and have trouble thinking about Xmas before Halloween, then don’t even open the package when it arrives, just save it to put under your Xmas tree.)

Susan Lyons/Susan Fox

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