Elisabeth Barrett's Blog
December 9, 2014
Elisabeth Barrett: I���m thrilled to welcome Grace Conley, Addison James, and Gayle Parness to my blog today. They are three authors in the Candy Cane Kisses and Enchanted Embraces box set, which contains ten (count them!) holiday romances that range from paranormal to contemporary to new adult. Thanks for joining me, ladies, and of course the first thing I want to hear about are the books. Spill!
Grace Conley: Here���s the premise for Christmas Weekend: A Heart���s Delight Short Story: San Francisco cop Joe Maggiano runs into his long-lost flame on Christmas Eve ��� during a terrible fire! Will he and Gwyn be able to re-kindle their love over the course of a holiday weekend in charming Heart���s Delight, California?
Addison James: My contribution to our anthology is a story called The Holiday Fixer. It���s based on the holiday classic film, The Shop Around the Corner where two coworkers who despise each other in real life are unknowingly falling in love through anonymous letters. In my story, they meet anonymously on the online dating site they both work for called Coupling. She is the head of product development for the site and he is an outside internet security expert sent to protect the site from hackers. Sparks fly!
Gayle Parness: My story, Winter Solstice Wishes, begins and ends around a ���murdered��� Christmas tree. Elle, a lovely fae lady, has been a guest in Sasha���s home for six months, recovering from her mistreatment at the Faerie Court. Sasha, a sexy vampire, has fallen head over heels for Elle, but because of his troubled past doesn���t feel worthy of her. But it���s the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, and the woodland fae have invited Elle and Sasha to celebrate with them. Perhaps this night will work its magic on two lonely, battered souls, helping them connect and find love.
Elisabeth: I love the fact that all of these books are written by NorCal authors. Are your books set in NorCal, too?
Grace: Absolutely! ��In fact, what is currently known as the Silicon Valley used to be called “The Valley of Heart’s Delight,” back in the old days when the region was made up mostly of orchards and vineyards, rather than techno-googleplexes. Heart’s Delight, California is a fictional small town based on aspects of Los Gatos, Morgan Hill, and Santa Cruz. The first stories focus around the lives and loves of a tightly-knit family of vintners who are trying to build the next Napa.
Addison: I have one other book set in Northern California, also set in Silicon Valley called Pop-Tarts and Texting. I like cute geeks so Silicon Valley inspires me! My other books take place in other places I���ve lived: such as Boston, Edinburgh and Vermont.
Gayle: Winter Solstice Wishes is set in and around Crescent City, California, which is about as far NorCal as you can get. California offers up such a wide range of geographical locales, providing a wonderful palate for a writer seeking a good setting for their story.
Elisabeth: Where do you get your ideas?
Grace: I think all writers played spy a lot as kids. ��I love observing other people and listening to them talk. ��This might be through formal means, like interviewing a fireman, or informal, like eavesdropping on people in line to buy their morning coffee!
Addison: I usually get my ideas from real life. I hear a story, read something in the news and think, what if this happened instead of that, and what if��� Kind of like that movie, Sliding Doors where the Gwyneth Paltrow character���s life changes based on whether or not she catches the subway train. I think, what if x,y or z happened instead of a, b and c, and write about it.
In this case, however, since there was a time crunch for the anthology, I took a plot from a classic film!
Gayle: I cheated. Both of my characters are supporting characters in my Rogues Shifter Series. Sasha, who���s been in all seven books, is one of my reader���s favorites so I thought I���d give him a girl to love. Elle made her first appearance in book seven. Both of them already had detailed backstories and were living in the same house, so it wasn���t too difficult.
Elisabeth: I know that this is Grace���s first published work, which is amazing! How did you decide to make your first piece a collaborative one?
Grace: I wanted to test out what people would think of the town of Heart���s Delight and its citizens, but the idea of indie publishing a short story all by its lonesome seemed silly���and a bit daunting!
I thought it would be so much fun — both for the authors and the readers — to get together a group of terrific Northern California writers and put out a holiday romance bundle. ��I wrote notes to several author friends, and voila! ��People can try out ten cool Contemporary and Paranormal writers for less than a buck.
The book is really a holiday card to our readers, written from the heart.
Elisabeth: Addison and Gayle, you two were both successfully indie published prior to this collaboration. Want to weigh in on the decision to do the box set? Was it more or less challenging than publishing solo?
Addison: I wanted to be part of the box set for a couple reasons. One is that although I���ve been published through small ebook publishers, I felt like I was missing something. Marketing, promotions, just in general how to sell a book is new to me. Also, writing is very solitary. I like being part of a team and that aspect of this really appealed to me.
Gayle: I almost bowed out. The fall was a busy time for me. I had a book already on pre-order, scheduled to release Dec. 19th that I hadn���t finished, let alone sent off to be edited. But after thinking it over, I decided I couldn���t pass up this opportunity for several reasons:
Many of my Silicon Valley Romance Writers of America pals were doing the anthology and I love working with them.
It gave me an opportunity to delve more deeply into two favorite characters��� lives. ��I also got to spice things up a little since my regular series is a young adult series. Winter Solstice Wishes is not YA.
The other authors involved were also top-notch and understood the importance of having a strong social media presence. I knew I could learn a lot from them.
And yes, it was more challenging in some ways than dealing with my own books where I answer to no one. (lol) ��I���m one of those���Marketing? Sorry, too busy writing���kind of authors. ��Social media posting, uploading, sharing, liking, and following had not been a daily activity for me in the past. Now I feel a bit more savvy in that department, and that���s not a bad thing in this connected world.
Elisabeth: What���s next in the pipeline for all of you?
Grace: More fun, sexy stories about the men and women of Heart’s Delight, California — I’ve been working on two back-to-back full-length novels. ��I write alpha heroes with a sense of humor — the hero often ends up with egg on his face, preferably a whole carton of them lobbed by his heroine! ��Hmm, now I���m thinking of writing a food fight scene…anyway, friend me on Facebook to hear more news about upcoming releases!
Addison: I am editing ��a women���s fiction novel tentatively titled Second Chances about a woman who reunites with an old flame, and editing another one set in Silicon Valley about a four women in a book club, and their lives and loves.
Gayle: My new ebook, Breaking Out, Triad Series Book 1, is available for preorder and officially releases December 19th. ��Woot! ��It���s the story of a young male with a strong magical bloodline trying to survive in a dangerous paranormal world. You���ll be able to find it at all the normal vendors.
Elisabeth: Grace, Addison, and Gayle–thanks so much for joining me today! Candy Cane Kisses and Enchanted Embraces is available through early January, and you can find the book at all major e-tailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Apple, and Kobo
And here���s where you can find the authors!
GIVEAWAY: I���m giving away 2 copies of the��anthology to two lucky commenters below who ���like��� the box set on Facebook here, and answer this question in the comments section: Are you a candy cane purist (peppermint only), or will you accept a substitute (spearmint, cherry, etc.)? Contest ends December 11 at 9pm PST!
October 7, 2014
New Year’s in Napa (West Coast Holiday Book 2) is out today! It’s a sweet, sexy, holiday story you won’t want to miss! Workaholic scientist Amanda Aligheri has a new year’s resolution: go to Napa, relax, and achieve some balance. The problem? There’s no chance to soul-search while tempting-as-sin winemaker Liam Flynn is around. Will one romantic, wintery week in Napa be enough for Liam to convince Mandy he’s the one for her, or when the new year comes will she forget about her resolution and return to Silicon Valley—and her research—without him? This e-book is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo for only 99 cents!!
April 14, 2014
I have a very special post today. Jules Barnard, an all-around awesome woman and a fellow Roguer, asked me to help with the cover reveal for Blue Crush, the second book in her Blue Series which releases on June 3rd. Jules writes new adult fiction, and this series is set in Tahoe (yay!). I don’t get to do these too often, and even less frequently for a friend, so I’m quite excited. Without further ado, here is the cover:
And Jules has been kind enough to provide the back cover copy:
Blue Crush (Blue Series, Book #2)
On the cusp of a humiliating breakup from the safe, conservative boyfriend, who ended up betraying her, Genevieve Tierney moves to Lake Tahoe with her best friend after college to lick her romantic wounds. Earning cash at one of Lake Tahoe’s lucrative casinos before grad school in the fall and keeping a safe distance from cheating jerks seems like a good plan, until she meets the one guy tempting enough to drag her back down.
Lewis Sallee is six and a half feet of perfectly sculpted mountain man, who captures Gen’s attention from the moment he walks in the door. Her play-it-safe approach to relationships flies out the window as Lewis’s presence awakens a sex drive she never knew she had. Lewis is in a complicated relationship with one of the most beautiful women Gen has ever seen, and despite all logical reasons to stay away—and she’s a logic devotee—Gen can’t seem to control her body’s attraction to him.
Feeling like a magnet for the worst sort of guys, Gen’s desperate to win the battle for self-control around Lewis and put the sleazy casino men pestering her in their place. To boost her confidence, Gen steps out of her comfort zone and signs up for the Alpine Mudder, a gritty endurance race. But as she prepares for one of the biggest physical challenges of her life, her emotional strength is pushed to its limits when she needs Lewis’s help to train. He tests her willpower and has her fighting her body’s attraction—with her mind and heart not far behind.
Jules Barnard is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended UC Davis, whose college landscape often finds its way into her New Adult novels. She has a Master’s degree and spent many an hour running statistical analysis, until she realized her favorite part of the job was writing reports. She decided to cut out the math and add in some hot guys, and so began her career as a novelist.
Jules is a Northern California native living on the coast with her husband and two children. She has no impulse control around cupcakes and credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.
And because this is a special post, I’m giving away a special book — one digital copy of the first in Jules Barnard’s Blue series, Deep Blue. To enter, just leave a comment letting me know what you think about the cover, and you’ll be entered to win. The contest is open to everyone and ends Thursday, April 17 at 9pm Pacific.
April 7, 2014
I took an (inadvertent) two-week hiatus from blogging to get my head together with respect to my current WIP. It’s still not there completely, but I’m getting closer. The book takes place in Napa, so visiting helped a lot. My friend Spence (of Tahoe trip fame) is always up for a road trip, so last week, I dragged her north to do some research. Another friend joined us for part of the time, and let me tell you, it was a huge treat to be up in Napa with two of my besties. We left Silicon Valley after I dropped off the Barrett pack at school, and it only took us an hour and a half to make our way up to Napa. It was like a different world. Relaxed. Low-key. Low stress, too. The weather was beautiful, and the vineyard-covered hillsides were breathtaking. But don’t let me tell you. Let me show you.
First, we stopped at the Oxbow Public Market. It seemed like a mini version of San Francisco’s Ferry Building with all the artisanal food stalls (cheese, bread, chocolate, pastries, etc. inside). We ate here twice, and both times I really enjoyed it.
The exterior of the Oxbow Market. Yummy food inside.
We stopped at Hess Winery and toured the art gallery. There we found this flaming Underwood typewriter. My friends encouraged me to take a picture with it (“Get closer,” they said, but I was a little afraid to, given that it was totally en fuego).
How I sometimes feel while writing.
We were able to see Napa at its best during this season. Unfortunately, the manuscript I’m working on takes place in winter-time, but I got what I needed from some friendly locals.
The cheese selections at the local grocers were outrageously comprehensive. People love their cheese. And their wine, of course. :)
Nom nom nom.
Last but not least, Spence and I toured Jarvis Wines, which had a secret underground cave. I took this picture surreptitiously, since I’m pretty sure photos weren’t allowed on the tour. Spence is in the background, looking suitably mysterious.
It was good to get away from SV for at least a little while, and it was even better to get my much-needed research done. Now, onward with the writing!!
This week I’m giving away a copy of Midnight Secrets by Ella Grace, a romantic suspense story I really enjoyed. To enter, just leave me a comment letting me know if you’ve ever been to Napa and what you loved about it. If you haven’t been to Napa, no worries! Tell me what you love about Napa Valley wine. If you don’t drink wine, just tell me something funny. :) Contest ends Thursday, April 10 at 9pm Pacific. U.S. only, please.
And for those of you who read to the end, this is my 100th blog post! Yay!
March 17, 2014
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really watch television (except Masterpiece Mystery because I am obsessed with all things British and detective-y), but Mr. B got me into watching this odd little show on Crackle called Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. It stars Jerry Seinfeld, who is famous for creating Seinfeld, which has been described as “a show about nothing.” Well, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (hereinafter CICGC) really is about nothing. Seinfeld shows up in a classic car (which he often tries to match to the personality of his guest) and takes a famous comedian out to coffee. Sometimes they don’t drink coffee (Jay Leno). Sometimes they go to, say, Coney Island and eat hot dogs (Todd Barry). Sometimes they go to a diner and eat giant amounts of diner food (Sarah Silverman), and sometimes they go to a famous bakery and eat cronuts (Tina Fey).
I’m not a huge comedy fan. I like real-life humor, but not fake, manufactured laughs. In fact, the one comedy show Mr. B dragged me to, I sat there stone-faced almost the entire performance. I also didn’t laugh at The Jerk, allegedly one of the funniest movies ever, except for the scene where Steve Martin takes his neighbor’s dog to cover up his privates as he’s racing outside naked after his girlfriend just left him. That was a funny scene.
And CICGC isn’t really that funny, per se. It’s very real-life. Like what you’d talk about when you go out with your friends. It’s not rip-roaringly hilarious. It’s poignant sometimes. And real. But that poignancy and realness makes something extraordinary. I feel like I’m getting a peek (just a small peek) inside these real people’s lives. Some use it as a place to vent or do a bit. But sometimes they drop their guards and just treat Seinfeld like a friend (many are real-life close friends), and that’s when it gets good. Just two pals shooting the breeze. It’s real life, seen through a lens of a camera and in a (usually) fancy car, so we’ll say it’s a version of real life.
I think the reason I like this show so much is because what Seinfeld does in CICGC is exactly what I try to do with my characters. It’s not real, but it’s a version of real life that could be, hopefully coupled with a bit of situational humor. Because real life isn’t ha-ha funny, but it’s funny. It’s crazy. It’s insane, when you think about it. I want readers to resonate with my heroine because that same thing happened to them that one time. Or their sister acted just like that. It’s realistic, but it’s not real. It’s a story. It’s escapism. And if you’re looking at it the right way, sometimes it can be hilarious.
Which brings me to this week’s giveaway. There are few people who do this kind of storytelling as well as Kristan Higgins. I have a copy of The Best Man to give away. Tell me one of your favorite funny scenes from a book you love, and you’ll be entered to win. U.S. only, please. Contest ends on Thursday, March 20th at 9pm Pacific.
March 9, 2014
Starting a new book always feels a little weird to me. There’s so much to hash out, so much to think about, and I’m often torn between plotting and just writing. I spent a week-and-change plotting and jotting down ideas for the novella I’m working on, and starting tomorrow, I’m going to be back on a pretty strict schedule until I finish. I’m excited to get back into the (writing) swing of things, even though it’s only been just over a week since I was in full-on writing mode. So, yay!
In life-news, I recently re-watched the 1996 Kate Beckinsale version of Emma, which I like fairly well. I don’t often have time to watch TV or movies or really anything, since I have a pretty full schedule, but when I do get a few free moments, I typically go for what Mr. B affectionately refers to as “wigmen” shows, since many of the characters wear wigs. Anyway, I like this version of Emma because Mark Strong is so severe as Mr. Knightley, and the age difference is pretty believable. I felt that difference less in the 2009 Romola Garai version, with Jonny Lee Miller (she was great and I liked his acting, but I felt he wasn’t forbidding enough). At any rate, I actually like Kate Beckinsale as an actress, and I thought this version was rich and credible. I like both versions much better than Gwyneth Paltrow’s 1996 version. They’re a little less glossy, but that adds to their charm. For those of who who’ve seen these movies, feel free to weigh in? Which do you like, and why? And for those of you who don’t watch “wigmen” stuff, what other movies do you compare/contrast?
And for this week’s giveaway, and sort of in keeping with the theme, I have two books (not versions) in one: Midnight Special by Tawny Weber, which also contains Coming on Strong. Leave a comment, and one winner will be chosen at random. U.S. only, please. Contest ends Thursday, March 13th at 9pm Pacific.
p.s. Blaze of Winter is still on sale!
March 2, 2014
So Blaze of Winter is still on sale for 99 cents (grab it while it’s hot), and I have news. Last week, I told you I really, really, really wanted to get that Connecticut contemporary manuscript finished, to the point of saying it will happen. Guess what? It did.
I finished it up early–Wednesday!–and promptly sent it to my awesome agent to see what she thinks. Fingers crossed she loves it as much as I do.
I spent the latter part of the week brainstorming for my next book, and writing down everything I could think of to make this book gel, but it just . . . wasn’t. I had the heroine (Mandy, from Christmas in Tahoe), but nothing else. It was making me nuts, until I kind of wrote off Friday and just dealt with life and the kids and other stuff.
Then, when Mr. B and I were talking about the (failed) brainstorming, he inadvertently gave me a gem of an idea that I think might *just* be the hook for this book. He didn’t even realize he’d done it until I started jumping around and raced for my laptop. We’ll see how it develops. I’m having dinner on Wednesday with two of my best pals, who are fabulous sounding boards for this kind of stuff, and if it passes their tests, we’re a go!
So this week’s giveaway question deals exactly with what I experienced this weekend: Have you ever had someone say something in passing that gave you an awesome idea? Drop a comment below and I’ll send you a paperback copy of Sabrina Jeffries’s What the Duke Desires . . . ’cause it’s still winter and it’s fun to curl up with a great historical when it’s freezing outside! U.S. only, please. Contest ends Thursday, March 6th at 9pm Pacific.
February 23, 2014
Hey, all. Long time no blog. I’ve been crazy life-busy over the last two weeks, with work, spring break for my oldest, visits from relatives, and doing a lot of solo parenting (Mr. B has had a lot of work lately). This weekend I was supermom. Seriously. Super. Mom. Here’s a partial list of what the kids and I did:
*made banana-chocolate-chip muffins
*visited the SF Zoo
*hiked and sketched the tidepools at the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
*rode bikes for hours
*went grocery shopping
*practiced telling time
*read tons of books
*went on a bug hunt (no bugs were harmed)
*built awesome Lego stuff
It’s tough making all three of the kids happy, but I did my best. And I really wore them out. On both days I had them solo, they fell asleep as soon as their little heads touched their clean pillowcases (I also did 7 loads of laundry. And made homemade meatballs.). Mmm . . . I keep saying supermom, but really I should just say crazy.
Unsurprisingly, the kids aren’t the only ones who are worn out, but mama can’t take a break because I need to edit the first book in my Connecticut contemporary series, which needs some tweaking before it goes to my agent. This tweaking will happen this week since all three kids are in school and I only have one relative visiting. See what I did there? I put it in bold so it will happen. There. I did it again.
I’ll check in with you next Monday to let you know how it all turns out.
I’m really anxious to finish up this book, not just because people are waiting for it, but because there are other things I am chomping at the bit to write, and I want to get this off my desk before I start on something new. I wonder, do most people work on lots of different projects at once, or do they work on one at a time? In life, I juggle many things and don’t mind working on tons at once, but with writing, I like just one project. Strange, huh?
Anyhow, a giveaway is in order. This week, it’s a signed copy of Rachel Gibson’s Rescue Me. Let me know what will happen for you this week in the comments and you’ll be entered to win. It’s a paperback, so US only, please. Contest ends Thursday, February 27, at 9pm Pacific.
Also, Blaze of Winter, featuring the fabulous Theo Grayson, is on sale for two weeks for 99 cents. Please pass the word along!!
February 3, 2014
So the big news this weekend for me wasn’t that the Superbowl was an utter blowout (congrats, Seattle), but that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and there will be six more weeks of winter. I love Punxsutawney Phil, and I *love* the movie Groundhog Day. Seriously, I love it. It’s by turns dark and uplifting, moral and amoral, and Bill Murray just nails the role of the beleaguered weatherman who must relive the same day over and over and over again–Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, Pa., to be precise. For those of you who have seen the movie, my favorite scene is the montage where he’s trying to woo Andie MacDowell’s character and trying to walk the fine line between interested and creepy (given that he knows everything about her by the time the twentieth day rolls around).
Anyhow, I LOVE Groundhog Day, but I have mixed feelings about winter. Especially winter in California. See, we’re in the middle of a drought here (apparently on track to be the worst one in 500 years!), and I know this summer is going to be just awful, but right now, in the early days of February, it’s 70 degrees and sunny. We ride bikes and go on hikes every weekend. We play in the park. We draw with chalk on the sidewalks and wear short-sleeved shirts. It’s wonderful, and yet I feel guilty. Guilty because the polar vortex is gripping the rest of the nation, and everyone is buried in snow and the wind chill makes New York City feel like it’s -30 degrees and it’s not really fair that here it’s so beautiful outside right now with the chirping birds and the sun shining and the trees blooming.
I know I don’t control the weather, but I feel guilty anyway. (Why is it that we can feel guilty about something over which we have no control?)
So to assuage my guilt, I’m doing a giveaway. Tell me what you feel guilty about for no reason at all, and I’ll choose one random commenter to win Toni Blake’s Holly Lane, which is chock-full of snow and blizzards and wintery scenes. U.S. only, please, and you must be signed up for my newsletter to win. Contest ends Thursday, February 6 at 9pm Pacific.
January 27, 2014
The winners are bn100, Kimberly Dawn, and mamawj99. Your books are winging their way through the interwebs as I write! Thanks again for joining me!
Today, I am super excited to announce that you can now have a Grayson brother for every season in one package! That’s right! Seb, Theo, Cole and Val are all in one four-book bundle, because the Star Harbor Four-Book Bundle set, including Deep Autumn Heat, Blaze of Winter, Long Simmering Spring, and Slow Summer Burn is officially on sale as of today! It’s selling for $8.99 (a steal, given that each book alone is typically $2.99), but you can get it at Google Play and Amazon for even cheaper at $7.69 (an even bigger steal!). This is the perfect chance for you to introduce your friends to the Graysons of Star Harbor!
We’re doing something a little different today. Typically, Monday giveaways run until Thursday evening, but this giveaway is only 12 hours long! In honor of the fact that Long Simmering Spring is still on sale for 99 cents, I’m going to give away three digital copies of the book! Like I said, the contest ends today, so sign up for my newsletter here and be quick with your comments because it will wrap up tonight at 9pm and books will be sent immediately. Please use the email you want the book sent to (won’t be made public) and your reader of choice (will be made public). International entries okay, since it’s all digital!