Friday, April 4, 2014

Win it before you can buy it!
I'm giving away 5 free ARCs for Frisky Business (my May 2014 romantic comedy)

There are a few things in my book contracts that baffle me.

Okay, that's a lie. Pretty much everything besides my name and the line that says "sign here" is a mystery to me, which is why I'm grateful to have an agent who makes sure I never scrawl my signature on a form pledging to donate my boobs to medical science upon the sale of Turkish rights for my first two novels.

Incidentally, in case you've ever wondered what the Turkish versions of Making Waves and Believe it or Not look like (and who hasn't?) here you go.


But this is actually not the point of this blog post. Wait, what was the point?

Right. The fact that I don't understand my book contracts. For instance, I know it says somewhere in there that they'll send me a whole big bunch (I think that's the correct terminology) of advance reading copies (ARCs, if you want to sound cool) for each of my books. Even so, I'm always a little mystified when they show up.

In case you've never seen an ARC, they pretty much look like real books. However, if you look closely, you'll see lingo that specifies they're not for resale and that they're intended for review purposes. If you look even more closely, you'll see typos scattered throughout the manuscript because I have the tendency not to notice things like that until the eleventh hour. It's something my editor finds utterly charming about me, and by "charming," I mean there's a strong possibility she'd like to punch me in the throat.


Nevertheless, I have a bunch of ARCs for my newest romantic comedy Frisky Business. They are currently covering up a hole I made in the desk when I knocked over a big penis-shaped candle. Now I haven't read my contract closely, but I suspect that's not how I'm supposed to use my ARCs. I should probably give them away, don't you think?

I have to tell you, I'm kind of excited about this book, which is releasing May 6 from Sourcebooks. Yesterday, Kirkus Reviews (one of the most reputable review publications in the book biz) posted a killer write-up on Frisky Business. Lookie here:


Kirkus Reviews
Swearing off rich men after a demoralizing breakup, Marley Cartman moves to Bend, Ore., for a brand-new start and immediately meets Will: jeans-clad, seemingly unemployed and...horrifyingly wealthy.
 The second Marley meets the scruffy animal shelter volunteer, it’s clear there’s an attraction, and when they wind up sharing a scorching kiss, she thinks there might be something worth pursuing…until the next day, when she discovers that "Will" is William Barclay V, a wealthy town benefactor and chairman of the board of the wildlife sanctuary where’s she’s just started working and which has a very strict policy against staff fraternizing with supervisors and board members. Besides, Will has major trust issues thanks to a disastrous marriage, and Marley has a few secrets that she knows will push his buttons. Forsaking the man who makes her toes curl, she embarks on a plan to date normal men with average bank accounts—with highly amusing results—until the moment Will’s and Marley's pasts collide to devastating effect. In this quirky comedy, up-and-coming romance author Fenske sets up impeccable internal and external conflict and sizzling sexual tension for a poignant love story between two engaging characters, then infuses it with witty dialogue and lively humor.

An appealing blend of lighthearted fun and emotional tenderness.


Doesn't that just warm the cockles of your heart? It warms mine, and I'm not even entirely sure where my cockles are.

Here's what I do know though: having a bunch of reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble can make or break a book for an author. It's particularly important to get those reviews up on release day or immediately thereafter (though not before, since those sites won't allow you to review a book that doesn't exist yet. Go figure).

Anyway, here's what I want to do: I've got five extra ARCs for Frisky Business. If you're willing to leave a review on Amazon or B&N on release day, tell me so in the comments. Bonus points if you're willing to do both. I'll draw five names on Monday, April 14, and will mail them out to you the next day.

Oh, and if you're too busy to hassle with all that but you still want the book, Frisky Business is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Probably some other places, too. I should check my contract, huh?

P.S. Sometimes Blogger decides to be an asshole and eat comments (particularly from people using smartphones). If that happens to you, feel free to email me at tawnafenske at yahoo dot com and I'll still count your entry.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

On dead pets, romance, and the upside of uncertainty

Saturday afternoon, we said goodbye to our 16-year-old cat, Ivy. She spent her final moments on earth rolling in a big pile of catnip, purring her big, drooly, toothless purr, and thrusting her butt at us for scratches.
Ivy is now raising hell in kitty heaven.

All things considered, that's how I'd like to enjoy my last living moments.

I've gone through the aging process with a lot of pets over the years. More than once, I've had to ask the tough question of whether it's time to say goodbye to a furry companion. More than once, some well-meaning acquaintance has given me a look of intense compassion and declared, "you'll know when it's time."

You know what? I haven't. Not usually, anyway. The last two times I've made the decision to bid farewell to an elderly pet, I questioned my choice up to the last minute. I think this is the kindest most merciful thing right now, but I'm really not sure.

While I've never regretted the decision, it's come with a lot more uncertainty than those friends insisted I'd feel.

There's a quote often attributed to Voltaire that says, "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd."

It reminds me of my early days when I began writing fiction and rushed into those first books with the zealous certainty of a horny ram let loose in a pasture of ewes in heat. As I made mistakes and learned from them, my pace slowed considerably. Now, with half-a-dozen published books under my belt, I can sometimes find myself paralyzed with uncertainty. What happens next? Does my heroine visit her grandmother or dance naked on the bar at a karaoke club? Or maybe she and grandma both dance naked on the bar?

While I occasionally annoy myself with all that second-guessing, it's empowering to know I've honed my craft enough to grasp the importance of small gestures, characterizations, and decisions. Those little details can be crucial to the big picture of a novel.

As a romance author, I'm a sucker for any book that explores love and marriage. As a slightly jaded divorcee engaged to an amazing man who's also a bit jaded by divorce, I'm a sucker for any book that explores those subjects beyond the level of two people who meet, boink, fall in love, and get married (not necessarily in that order).

On of my favorite books of all times is Elizabeth Gilbert's non-fiction title Committed. Here's the interesting thing about that book: if you search "Elizabeth Gilbert + Committed," you'll discover two versions. One is subtitled "A skeptic makes peace with marriage." The other, simply, "A love story." Same book, different marketing spin.

But in either case, there's a section where Elizabeth Gilbert describes the words spoken between a mother and daughter in the dressing room before the daughter's wedding. Gripped by a case of last minute jitters, the daughter asks her mother if all brides are this terrified before walking down the aisle. "No, dear," the mother replies. "Only the ones who are actually thinking."

Whether we're talking about the demise of my beloved pets, the path of my romantic comedy novels, or the plans for my upcoming nuptials (which, come to think of it, are three odd things to discuss in the same breath) I can say for certain that the only certain thing at all is that I'm quite uncertain most of the time.

But perhaps that's not a bad thing. Age and life experience and a whole lotta mistakes along the way have taught me a few things over the years. I won't always make the right decisions. I won't always know the best path to take. Sometimes I will screw up so abysmally that no amount of unscrewing, rescrewing, unscrewing, rescrewing, more screwing, harder screwing...wait, what was I saying?

Right. I'm going to screw up. That's one of the only things I'm certain of in life. At the risk of sounding like a pessimist, you're going to screw up, too. The upside of recognizing it is that we learn to move a bit more cautiously. We learn to work harder and smarter. We learn the value of balancing our uncertainty with the fervent desire to get it right. Though we know sometimes we won't succeed, we hope like hell we often will.

What areas of your life do you forge ahead with confidence and certainty? Which areas call for a bit less self-assurance? Has it changed as you've gotten older? Please share.

I'll be honoring Ivy's memory by rolling in catnip and waiting for someone to scratch my butt.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Are you where you're supposed to be right now?

The first thing I said when my gentleman friend proposed in September was "yes."

OK, technically it was "hell, yes," followed by a combination of shrieking, sobbing, and laughing that sounded like the bellow of a water buffalo dragged behind a tractor.

In any case, the second thing I said was, "I'm not wearing shoes for this wedding."

Beyond expressing my fondness for naked feet, it was my way of conveying my desire for a simple, no-frills ceremony. Lucky for me, he shared my vision, if not my abhorrence for footwear.

My engagement ring, one of many not-so-traditional
aspects of our upcoming wedding. 
A few weeks later, I made the mistake of venturing into a bridal shop. Despite my explanation that I sought a simple, short, non-froofy, non-traditional dress, the attendant proceeded to thrust a mountain of tulle and lace at me until I fled the shop in terror. "Wait!" she called, clinging to my leg and scrambling to drag me back inside. "At least take this free wedding planning guide so you know how to get ready for your big day."

I brought it home and tossed it on the counter, not giving it much thought until I found my gentleman friend skimming it a few days later.

"Did you see this suggested timeline for wedding tasks?" he asked.

"Not unless it's on a page with pictures of food or naked people."

He grinned. "With only eleven months to go, we should have already booked a caterer, hired a florist, gotten your hair and nails done, and packed for our honeymoon."

He might have been exaggerating, but not by much. Since this will be a tuxedo-free, florist-free, caterer-free affair with attendants who still have a bedtime, we weren't terribly alarmed by the industry-prescribed schedule. As the date of our September nuptials has drawn nearer, we've taken to reminding each other of pressing tasks.

"Nine months to go," I declared in December. "Shouldn't we go pick up my bridal bouquet?"

"Eight months left," he announced in January. "We should probably be on our way to the airport for the honeymoon."

"Seven months left," I said in February. "Where's that top tier of the wedding cake we're supposed to pull from the freezer on our first anniversary?"

While the humor of it amuses me, it also reminds me of a slightly less amusing aspect of the publishing world. In the ten or so years since I first tried my hand at writing fiction, not a month has gone buy that I haven't heard the niggling little voice in the back of my head. The writers among you will know that voice, though yours may be somewhat less prone to dirty talk than mine.

"You've been writing a long time," the voice will his in my ear. "You should have landed a book deal by now." 

"Three months until your novel comes out and you still don't have a marketing plan?"

"You've published half-a-dozen books. Shouldn't you have hit the New York Times bestseller list by now?"

The voice has dogged me for decades, and not just when it comes to my writing career. In nearly every aspect of my life, stress can send me stumbling down the coulda-shoulda-woulda path of self-doubt and unhealthy comparison.

"You should have a much bigger retirement account by now."

"You've been doing yoga six years and still can't do side-crow without toppling onto your neighbor's mat?"

"By this point in your career, shouldn't you have a team of nude cabana boys to refill your wine and massage your feet while you write?"

Fortunately, I've gotten better at locating the source of the voice and giving her a good, solid bitch-slap.

"I'm making my own path," I tell her. "I have my own rules, my own timelines, my own damn route to success and happiness."

It's a reminder I imagine most of us need from time to time when we find ourselves fretting about what should have happened in our lives by now. When the imaginary clock ticks frantically for whatever milestone we believe we've failed to achieve.

It's a constant struggle to silence the voice, whether I'm plotting a book or plotting my life.

Maybe not when planning a wedding, though.

"I'm glad we don't have to wear shoes for the wedding," announced my eight-year-old maid of honor and soon-to-be-step-daughter. "Are we going to wear underwear?"

"That depends," I said. "Are we going to be doing cartwheels?"

"Of course we are," she told me. "It's a wedding. Aren't you supposed to do cartwheels at weddings?"

Exactly.



Sunday, February 9, 2014

Five things I’ve learned in the last week

It’s been one week since Marine for Hire was released, and I’ve had seven days of unexpectedly high sales, toe-curlingly wonderful reviews, and important learning experiences. Not all of the lessons are related to writing, but they all make blood rush to tingly places in my body.
  • After six years of practicing yoga, I attempted a headstand without propping myself against a wall and discovered I’m able to do it. I’m not able to do it without flashing the entire class as my shirt flips over my face.
  • Despite knowing Amazon and Barnes & Noble update their sales stats only once an hour, I cannot stop myself from hitting “refresh” every three minutes to see if my ranking has changed. Incidentally, thank you to all of you who’ve kept this book selling steadily for the first week. I’ve never had a book rank this high in overall sales—in the low 40s among all paid books on Barnes & Noble and in the 130s on Amazon—and numbers continue to be strong after a week. It might have something to do with the 99-cent promo price, which is still going right now.
    Proof my doctor has a good sense of humor.
  • Two weeks is a long time for a romantic comedy author to abstain from amorous congress. When my ladybits doctor suggested a minor medical procedure, I failed to read the fine print requiring two weeks of post-surgery celibacy. I had little success with wheedling calls to my doctor’s office inquiring how hard and fast the rule was (the humorless receptionist’s response: “Very, VERY hard. And very fast.”) The fact that this two week period coincided with my editor’s command to pack my next book with as much sex as possible made this the longest 20,160 minutes of my life.
  • Reader reviews actually matter. A lot. Confession time: Before last week, I rarely hopped on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads to review a book I’d purchased. I certainly read reviews, but I always figured adding my two-cents didn’t make much difference. In the last week, I’ve learned how crucial those reviews are to the algorithms that determine whether a book pops up on someone’s Amazon screen as a suggested read, or fades into oblivion like a vibrator with a cracked battery case. If you’ve read Marine for Hire by now, I’ll love you forever if go here to Amazon or here to Barnes & Noble to leave a short review.
  • In the midst of snowpocalypse, seeing someone post about how many inches they got last night never stops being funny.

What lessons have you learned this week? Please share! 

And if you haven’t nabbed a copy of Marine for Hire during the 99-cent sale, do it now while I’m still cheap and easy. 

Oh, and I almost forgot—if you’re free tonight (that’s February 10) between 7-10 p.m. EST, stop by the Boys of Brazen Military Bash on Facebook. We’ll be giving away tons of prizes, plus authors Tessa Dare, Katee Robert, Diane Alberts and I will post hilarious videos of ourselves and our menfolk reading each other’s sex scenes. My gentleman friend may or may not appear shirtless in our video.
Join us Monday on Facebook for tons of great prizes, dirty talk, and hilarious videos.

Monday, February 3, 2014

I have a new book out today and holyfreakingcrap you guys, it's only 99-cents!

If you'd told me five years ago I'd write a military-themed romantic comedy that included a pair of infant twins, my childless-by-choice, non-militarily inclined brain would have short-circuited and I would have laughed 'til I fell on the floor.

Go here to nab it for just 99-cents!
If you'd told me that same book would generate the most positive pre-release buzz of any book I'd written to date, I would have piddled myself while I was down there on the floor. Then I would have tried to cover it up by pretending I rolled in spilled wine and you wouldn't have believed me because hello, of course I'd never be careless enough to spill wine, and then we would have forgotten what we were talking about entirely.

Which is the fact that HOLY CRAP, YOU GUYS, I HAVE A NEW BOOK OUT TODAY!

I know, I know...I haven't told you much about this one because my publisher asked me to avoid doing any promo until release day, which, in case I haven't made it clear OHMYGOD, TODAY IS RELEASE DAY!

The book is called Marine for Hire, and here's what it's about:

She thought she’d sworn off military men for good…
Sam Kercher is every inch a wickedly hot Marine. Tall. Sexy. Lethal. When his best friends call in a favor, Sam is forced to face an entirely new line of duty—playing nanny for their newly divorced sister and her squirming seven-month-old twin boys. If Sam can dissemble an M16 in his sleep, diaper duty should be a cakewalk…right?
Unfortunately, Operation Nanny isn’t quite that simple. Sheridan has sworn off overbearing military men, so Sam must protect her from her dirtbag ex without revealing just how much he has in common with her brothers. Or that he’s been ordered not to touch her. Ever. Problem is, Sheri’s one hell of a gorgeous woman, capable of making this hard-bodied Marine even harder. And Sam wants her bad.
Protect the girl. Care for the babies. Hide his identity. And keep his hands off. But even the most disciplined Marine has weaknesses...and Sheridan is one Sam might not be able to resist.

Wanna know the best part?

Well, the best part for me is that the book has been racking up all kinds of crazy-awesome reviews, particularly from readers who've never heard of me before because they weren't out there browsing for romantic comedy. But see, my publisher kinda tricked them with this one by not marketing it as comedy at all, but rather as a steamy military-themed romance (which it totally is) so readers are all, "hey, I like books with Marines and a few good rounds of bury-the-one-eyed-worm," and then they get into it and they're all, "woah, wait – this book can also make me snort wine out my nose?"

Which is totally my thing, right?

But back to what I was saying about the best part for you. See, my publisher made a strategic decision last week to offer Marine for Hire at an obscenely low price of just 99-cents for a very limited time starting on release day (did I mention that's TODAY?!!)

To nab the book for less than a buck, go here.

And  if you've managed to get your hands on one of the advance reading copies my publisher circulated these last few weeks, please, pretty please with red wine and salted caramel on top, stop by Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads and leave me a review.

In the meantime, how about we all roll around on the ground together in celebration? I'll bring the wine.

Monday, January 27, 2014

How squeezing my thighs, tightening my buns, and getting sweaty makes me a better author

Like everyone else on the planet, I made a new year's resolution that involved exercise. The fact that I made the resolution while devouring a platter of bacon-wrapped water chestnuts and guzzling my fourth glass of red wine means I'm a bit fuzzy on the details of my plan, but that hasn't stopped me from pursuing it.

Here's the thing I've learned about exercise in nearly 40 years on this planet: I suck at it.

Yoga on a standup paddleboard with my dog.
Three forms of fitness in one (plus it was book
research for Eat, Play, Lust.)
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fairly active person. I walk my dog every day, and I love hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and standup paddleboarding as forms of entertainment. I tend to lose interest when something seems like exercise instead of entertainment.

But with a wedding and a 40th birthday on the horizon this year, now seems like a good time to get more serious about fitness.

My current plan looks like something devised by a gym teacher with severe ADD.

Monday is the yoga class I've attended religiously for almost six years. It is the only thing in my exercise routine I am remotely good at.

Tuesday I tell myself I'll ride the stationary bike in my office before dinner. Then I get hungry and decide that if I'm extra-vigorous in chopping vegetables and tenderizing chicken, that counts as a form of physical fitness.

Wednesday is my Barre class, a female-focused mix of pilates, ballet, and weight lifting that's a helluva lot harder than it looks. It holds my attention because the instructor says things like, "Feel that deep in your booty!" or "Everyone grab your balls now!" and I get an extra ab workout by trying (and failing) to stifle my laughter.

Thursday is my Zumba class, which I love because I get to pretend I have mad-sexy stripper moves until I catch sight of myself in the mirror and realize I look like a drunk homeless person caught in a lawn sprinkler.

Bending my elbow counts as exercise, right?
Friday through Sunday I make an effort to drag my gentleman friend snowshoeing or hiking two or three times. We generally make it out of the house once, but I'm pretty sure we get fitness credit for finding alternate ways to work up a sweat.

That's my routine in a nutshell. Besides appealing to my short attention span, there's something about it that resonates with my author self.

The yoga forces me to slow the hell down, breathe, focus, and strengthen my core. It reminds me of those times I find myself anchored to my desk by writer's block and a deadline, convinced I can't possibly spare 30 minutes to walk the dog. The second I leash the beast and set foot outside, the fog in my head clears and I untangle the plot knot I spent all morning chewing at.

The flexibility I allow myself on Tuesdays reminds me that I function best when I don't try to force things. If I have energy to burn, I peddle. If I'm hungry, I make food. As an author, I've learned that if a scene isn't flowing, it's OK to turn my attention to a different scene, or to use my time editing previous chapters or doing research.

Wednesday's Barre class reminds me of the value of laughter, and that sometimes the simplest phrases and tiniest sprinklings of emotion can be the most powerful.

Thursday's Zumba class reminds me to be humble. After nearly a year of doing it, I am, without question, the least coordinated student in class. My classmates sometimes glance at me as though uncertain if they're witnessing a seizure that warrants medical attention. At times I become so baffled by the dance steps that I settle for jumping up and down and waving my arms to keep my heart-rate elevated. But I do it with a smile on my face, and I keep coming back because I know it's good for me to do something so far outside my comfort zone. It reminds me as an author to push myself beyond my perceived limits, and not to hold myself back because I'm afraid of looking like an idiot.

Sometimes, I get the best results by embracing my inner idiot.

Are you with me in setting goals related to writing or fitness this year? How's it going for you? Please share in the comments!

Oh, and if you'd like to learn from my moments of idiocy as a writer, it's not too late to sign up for the South Coast Writers' Conference in Gold Beach, Oregon February 14-15 where I'll be teaching two 90-minute workshops titled, "The top mistakes new authors make (and how to avoid them!)"

Here's the summary (and here's a link to learn more and to register):

The top mistakes new authors make (and how to avoid them!) by Tawna Fenske
It's easy to screw up when you’re getting started as an author. Just ask Tawna Fenske—she’s done it plenty! She's also learned a few things from years of judging contests, critiquing manuscripts, building a career in marketing & PR, and stumbling a few times in her own journey as a published author of romantic comedy. From writing craft to social media, learn the top landmines for newbie writers—and how you can leap gracefully over them.

Monday, December 30, 2013

What's in store for 2014? Holy @#$%, a lot of stuff!

Conversation in my kitchen this morning:

GENTLEMAN FRIEND: So I emailed the office last night about how I wasn't feeling great and might work from home for a couple days.

ME: Yeah?

HIM: Apparently there's a really bad flu going around. It starts with fatigue and sore throat and a fever.

ME: So . . . pretty much all the symptoms you have?

HIM: Uh-huh.

ME: Based on the fact that we are a newly-engaged couple with mistletoe hanging from the ceiling in every room of the house and a strong lock on the bedroom door, is there any chance I won't be getting the flu?

That's a rhetorical question. I think odds are good I'll be kicking off 2014 with my face over a pot of steaming mentholated water, which is probably not the worst way I've rung in the new year.

No matter, my spirits are pretty high going into 2014. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I'm starting the new year with a brand new website. The fabulous LuLish Design created it for me, and I'm so in love with it I want to drag it under the pool table and give it a hand job. It has a lot of cool features like an amazing new design, cool pics taken by my gentleman friend, an Author FAQ, a Personal FAQ, a fun new About Me page, an amazing roundup of all my books, and much more. Go check it out at tawnafenske.com
    Go visit my new website at tawnafenske.com
  • In 2014, Entangled Publishing will launch my new series under the Brazen imprint. You may recall, Entangled is the publisher that released my short novella Eat, Play, Lust in August (which is still for sale here for just 99-cents!) All three of my new books slated for publication with the Brazen line in 2014 will feature my usual brand of quirky romantic comedy, but with steamier, more plentiful sex scenes and a word count that's closer to 55,000 (as opposed to my Sourcebooks rom-coms weighing in around 90,000 words). Each story is centered around one sibling in a staunchly military family (Sheridan Patton-Price, MacArthur Patton, and Grant Patton). Watch here for news on the first book in the series, Marine for Hire, which will be released in the first part of 2014.
  • In May 2014, Sourcebooks will release the third romantic comedy in my three-book deal, Frisky Business. It's already up for pre-order at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and I'm madly in love with the cover they've created for me. Here's a quickie blurb about it:
    She's looking for something bigger than his bank account...

    Marley Cartman is fed up with arrogant rich guys who treat her like garbage, so she vows to only date men with modest paychecks and a little dirt under their nails. Her new boss, William Barclay, is exactly the kind of man she's trying to avoid: an eccentric millionaire with duct-taped shoes and an unexplained vendetta against her. But as Will and Marley butt heads over grumpy badgers and phallic artifacts, they discover that sometimes the opposite of what you want is exactly what you need.
  • Apart from my author life, 2014 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for me personally as well. I'm scheduled to teach two sessions at the South Beach Writers' Conference in Gold Beach, Oregon February 14-15. Here's the skinny on the workshop I'm teaching for both sessions:
The top mistakes new authors make (and how to avoid them!) It's easy to screw up when you’re getting started as an author. Just ask Tawna Fenske—she’s done it plenty! She's also learned a few things from years of judging contests, critiquing manuscripts, building a career in marketing & PR, and stumbling a few times in her own journey as a published author of romantic comedy. From writing craft to social media, learn the top landmines for newbie writers—and how you can leap gracefully over them.
  • What else is happening in 2014? I'm pretty sure there's something more, but I can't quite put a finger on it. (Cue light bulb popping on above romantic comedy author's head as "put a finger on it" triggers thoughts of gentleman friend).
    The site of our Sept. 2014 wedding.
    We'll be wearing a lot less clothing.
    Yep, that's right – my gentleman friend and I will be getting hitched September 6. Don't expect a lot of gushy posts about color schemes and crudités. My maid of honor is my eight-year-old stepdaughter-to-be, and she and I have both declared we will not, under any circumstances, wear shoes for the wedding. Or the reception. Or pretty much anytime in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. My dog will be the ring bearer. There will be lots and lots of wine involved. Lots.

I think that about sums it up for my plans in 2014. What does the coming year hold for you? Please share!

I'm going to go work on getting the flu.

Monday, December 16, 2013

When you sleep with strangers, they give you cool stuff

It's been more than two years since I fell into bed with someone I'd never met, but I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

I might feel embarrassed I were the only one still clinging to the memories, but I know she still thinks about it, too.

Part of me wishes this were as torrid as it sounds, but alas, that's not the case. I'm referring to July 2011 when I shared not only a hotel room, but a hotel bed with author Jeffe Kennedy as a way to cut expenses during the national conference for Romance Writers of America. Though we met in person mere minutes before crawling under the covers together, we've been online writing pals for years.
I enjoyed a romantic carriage ride with Jeffe
(center) following our first night in bed together.

And since pals like to promote each other's work, allow me to tell you Jeffe's books are fabulous. If you like your erotica with generous helpings of fantasy and BDSM, go pick up one of her books right now.

Since Jeffe is such a generous and thoughtful bedmate, she's giving it to you good all week long. Right now, she's doing a promotion centered around the Twelve Days of Christmas, offering cool giveaways for each day of the contest.

Because it sounded deliciously naughty, I asked to have my turn on the day the nine ladies are dancing. Head on over to Jeffe's blog today and find out how you can win a signed copy of my second romantic comedy, Believe it or Not.

Um, I'm signing it, not Jeffe. Though I'm sure she'd sign it too, if you wanted.

Be sure to check  her blog throughout the promotion, since she's giving away tons of other great prizes, including a grand prize partridge in a pear tree pendant worth $100. 

Tell her I said she's great in bed, OK?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why you can't take a romantic comedy author anywhere (including a bookstore)


The good folks at Paulina Springs Bookstore invited me to participate in an event called Indies First in which respected authors spend November 30 promoting their favorite titles by playing bookseller for the day at independent bookstores nationwide.

I looked around for a respected author, and then tried to remember the difference between respected and respectable and disreputable, and then decided they all meant the same thing.

"Count me in," I said, and gave them a list of a dozen books and authors to have on-hand for me to peddle.

I arrived at the bookstore just before noon and posed for photos like a respectable author.

Hooray for independent bookstores!

Then I got to work setting up my display of books. I was excited to talk about my favorite titles, and promote all aspects of romance, comedy, and everything in between.

Doing some well-deserved pimping for my critique partner, Linda Grimes, and her awesome book In a Fix and the orangutan-centric follow-up, Quick Fix.

Right off the bat, I noticed two important things. The first is the bane of existence for all busty women forced to wear sticky name-tags. Within five minutes, the tag curls up like a dead bug and refuses to stay put no matter how many attempts you make at smoothing it out so you look like a respectable person.

Damn you, sticky name-tag and your curly edges.

And then you realize you don't look very respectable repeatedly rubbing your hand over your boob in an effort to straighten the name-tag.

The second thing I noticed is that my station was smack-dab in the middle of the children's section.


 Coupled with the aforementioned name-tag issue, this meant I found myself spending the better part of an afternoon groping my boob while surrounded by kids and their understandably leery parents.

As if it weren't weird enough to put an author of risque romantic comedy in the kids' aisle, my vantage-point staring straight out from that section gave me a clear view of the self-help shelves.

Right in my line of sight for the entire afternoon was this title:


Is it just me, or does that title just leap out at you?

So now we have an oversexed romantic comedy author staring out from the children's aisle at a book about learning to want more sex. Does anyone see a problem here?

Naturally, my mind began to wander...


I can't be the only one who thinks this sounds deliciously filthy.


Is it just me, or does this look like the setup for a deranged animal orgy?

I'm not saying I do or don't own an adult video with one of these titles. Okay, maybe that is what I'm saying. Suffice it to say, it was alarming to glance up and see these titles shouting at me like urgent commands.
Is it okay to buy touch and feel stroller cards if I don't own an infant?


In the end, the event was fairly successful. As is often the case when I do author events in bookstores, I probably spent more acquiring new books than I did selling my own. Isn't that what it's all about?

Well, that and patting the bunny.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving away my recipe for salmon chowder, a signed copy of Believe it or Not, and the secret behind page 99

If you've ever acquired a copy of Believe it or Not from me – either in a contest, at a book signing, or by breaking into my home and stealing one – there was a bookmark stuffed inside.

You probably didn't notice it, nor did you make note of what page it was on, but I did.

That's because every copy of my sophomore romantic comedy that passes through my hands gets a little extra love on page 99. It's the start of a scene that always makes me smile because of the story behind it.

Back in the spring of 2011, there was a lot happening in my life. I was preparing for the release of my first romantic comedy, Making Waves, while doing editorial revisions on the book slated for release six months after that,  Believe it or Not.

I was also spending time with a handsome, kind, smart, funny gentleman with whom I'd been acquainted for many years, but had never known particularly well until I asked him to mentor me through a difficult divorce.

While the divorce mentoring was helpful, I had an ulterior motive in spending time with him. I sincerely wished to jump his bones, so I hatched an evil plan to seduce him using the best tools in my arsenal: food, alcohol, and cleavage.

I invited him to join me on a beer-related outing for my day job, followed by dinner at my house. I wore a low-cut sweater and prepared my famous salmon chowder. As we sat on the sofa chatting afterward, I edged closer and closer, eventually tucking my bare feet under his leg under the pretense of warming them. With the touch barrier broken, he offered up a foot massage that evolved into a calf massage that evolved into . . . well, I'll stop the story there to preserve some semblance of mystery.

Simmering salmon chowder with aphrodisiac powers.
Of course, if I wanted to preserve the mystery, I wouldn't have used that experience as the basis for a romantic scene in Believe it or Not that begins on page 99. When my editor asked me to add a couple more sexy scenes to the book just a few weeks after that fateful evening on the couch, I decided to pay homage by having Drew and Violet engage in a little sofa leg massage flirtation of their own. I won't claim the scene is a blow-by-blow (ha!) account of what happened that evening, but things seem to have worked out nicely for all of us in the 32 months since then. I'm not sure when Drew and Violet's wedding will be, but ours is next September.

While I'd like to extoll the seductive powers of my legs and cleavage, I'm pretty sure the salmon chowder deserves most of the credit. In case you need to seduce someone (or, yanno, just put a nutritious and tasty meal on the table) here's my recipe:

Tawna's Salmon Chowder
  • 4-5 slices of bacon
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I use skim)
  • 1 small can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 4-5 small red potatoes, cubed
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 salmon filets 
  • A small amount of milk for poaching salmon (maybe 1/3 cup)
  • Dill to taste (I use tons)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon in your soup pot until crisp. Remove it and let it cool before crumbling it and setting it aside. In the bacon grease remaining in your soup pot, saute the onions until soft and golden brown. Add the carrots and saute a few more minutes to blend flavors. Add corn, potatoes, and chicken broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, sprinkle your salmon filets with salt and pepper and put them in a pot with a little milk. If you have some scraps of onion and carrot left over, sprinkle them on the salmon as well to lend a little flavor. Cover tightly with a lid and poach for a 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 more minutes before removing from the liquid, tossing the carrots/onion, and flaking the salmon with a fork. Set aside.

Dinner is served!
Return to your soup pot and give it a good stir. Add both the evaporated milk and the regular milk and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Slowly add the salmon and bacon and simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, and dill and serve hot with sourdough bread and a good white wine or rosé.

***

Since I'm in a giving sorta mood with the story and the recipe and all, how about I give away a signed copy of f Believe it or Not , too?

Leave a comment describing your best seduction meal. Recipes or links are helpful, but just a description of the dish will suffice. I'll pick a winner next Monday.

Cheers!

UPDATE: I've had several readers report they're unable to leave comments when they attempt it from a mobile device. I'm working to figure out a long-term solution, but in the meantime, you should be able to comment from a desktop computer or by selecting the web version of my blog (not the mobile version) from your mobile device.