Monday, December 5, 2011

A (Sort OF) Love Letter To The Editor Of A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS—Angela James

Releases December 5th!

Dear Angela,

Well, we made it.  It’s almost release-day for your special project—the steampunk Christmas anthology you and the Carina Press staff entitled A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS! 
In case you haven’t already noticed, I’m new to the scene of publishing.  Pfft, who am I kidding?  I’m so new I squeak.  I’ve had two other releases before my novella with you—A CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET—but since they both happened in the last ninety days or so, I’m still learning the ropes. *cough*GinormousUnderstatement*cough*

One of those ropes had to do with Twitter.  I’d been told by one of my editors at Samhain Publishing that I needed to be on Twitter to be a presence online, so I dutifully made up an account on March 1st of this year.  On March 6th, someone retweeted your call for submissions for a holiday Steampunk project, and I immediately had an idea for a story.  I didn’t know anything about you or Carina Press; I just liked the subject.  I didn’t have a long time to get things together, since the deadline was May 15th, but when the characters Cornelia Peabody and Roderick Coddington pushed their way to the fore, I knew the story was going to be all right.  And when I had 15K written in the first week, I REALLY knew it was going to be all right. 

When a story pushes its bossy way out like that, it’s always a fun ride.
I was done with CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET by the time May rolled around.  I even had time to send it off to a beta reader for that all-important feedback.  Twice I read the manuscript aloud, until I felt the character of Cornelia so keenly I actually perfected her faint Irish lilt, and I could see impassioned fire hidden beneath the professorial veneer in Roderick’s vengeful eyes.
But as the deadline inched closer, I weenied out.  I just couldn’t make myself send it to you.
Did you know I teach figure skating?  As part of that job I was also a gold-level judge in ISI.  I’ve sat on countless competition panels, doing the job I had spent a lifetime perfecting, so that in turn, the people I judged could be made better (you see where I’m going with this?).  The thing about judging a group of ten to fifteen skaters is basic mathematics—three will see the podium.  The others won’t.  And someone will know that terrible pain of coming in dead last.  I know this sounds cold, so please don’t misunderstand.  It wasn’t that I hated them, or that it was anything personal, and you can bet in my heart of hearts I wanted everyone to come out a winner.  But in every competition I have ever judged, there are those whose efforts don't deserve to see the podium.   That doesn't mean they'll never see it.  There’s always another day, as they say, and that’s something I find myself reminding my broken-hearted students when they (inevitably) produce a bad performance.  There’s always another competition down the road, another shot at the podium.  As long as you keep entering, keep trying, there is no failure.

My Dirty Birdies! I'm the dork
in the glasses. :)
Eventually I realized how stupid I was being by not hitting the Send button.  On May 13th, my birthday, I gave myself the present of courage and sent off CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET.  I did it with the hope that it would podium, but full of understanding if it didn’t.  After all, as you have been trained to be on a judges’ panel of a different type, it’s your job and your duty to make sure the world you love—the publishing world—gets the best efforts from its creative engine, the writers.  And hey, let's face that really big, ugly fact that no one likes to talk about--no matter how awesome it feels to get that podium spot, I don’t know of any writer who would want a project out there that isn’t worthy of an acceptance, if only because one bad novel can sever a thousand reader relationships. 

So this ends my (sort of) love letter to not just you, Angela, but to all editors who sit in their own kind of judge's seat, filled with the hope of being dazzled, and the determination to say no when they're not.  We writers certainly don’t podium on every attempt, but you remind us—there’s always tomorrow.

Speaking of which… it’s tomorrow.  Happy release day, Angela. :)   Love, Stacy

CRIME WAVE IN A CORSET  is available at:


Carina Press:

Barnes and Noble:


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let's Shine That Spotlight On The Fabulous JK Coi, Author Of FAR FROM BROKEN!


FAR FROM BROKEN  by JK Coi was the first novella from A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS that I had the opportunity to read, and as I’ve told just about anyone who will listen to me, it had me crying from the third page.  My antho sister, JK (who also writes dark fantasy for YA under the name Chloe Jacobs for Entangled Publishing) has that rare gift of being able to dig straight down into the raw, agonizing heart of a story to wrench forth the deepest, most private—and totally relatable—human emotions.  Most writers attempt to do this, but compared to JK’s unbelievable writing style and talent, they only scratch the surface (and I include myself in that regard).

In our tight-knit anthology family, JK is our efficient, never-frazzled dynamo who gets by on maybe 5-6 hours of sleep a night (as far as I can tell).  Someone will come up with an idea, and before you know it, this amazing Energizer Bunny has found a way to make it happen!  While juggling the roles of wife, mother, working a full-time job, PLUS sewing up a fabulous two-book deal with Entangled Publishing as Chloe Jacobs AND getting ready to promote her novella CAGED in the Agony/Ecstasy erotica anthology, she was making up our Romance Trading Cards for A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS.  I’ve now become secretly convinced that she is, in fact, Wonder Woman (but don’t tell anyone, shhhh).

RTC back
RTC front

 (Don't ask me why I can't make these bigger; I just sorta can't *sigh*)


The Lovely JK Coi <3
FAR FROM BROKEN took me two whole days to get over—I simply couldn’t stand the thought of reading anything else, or for that matter, writing anything else.  I needed to absorb the magnificent emotional rollercoaster ride on which JK had taken me.  The story starts from the point of view of Jasper, the hero, and his grinding desperation and soul-deep pain is palpable.  I was almost sick with loss by the second page.  Then Jasper’s anguish, and the tortured screaming of his beloved Callie, brought me to tears.  I couldn’t stand it.  Yet I couldn’t stand to put it down.  So rarely do you have the black moment start out right from the first chapter, but it was NECESSARY.  Right from the beginning, the reader needed to take each and every agonizing step with Callie and Jasper back into the light, so that by the end of the book, you are literally cheering their multi-faceted victory, and believing that love really can conquer ANYTHING.

The HEA that awaits readers at the end of FAR FROM BROKEN will be one of the most satisfying you’ll ever read.  I'm not kidding, y'all.  EVER.  I guarantee you’ll need a couple of days to recover the way I did, but trust me—you’ll enjoy every second of it.  Romance simply doesn’t get any better than this!

Now really, how can you NOT take a look at the blurb from JK Coi’s FAR FROM BROKEN?

Soldier. Spymaster. Husband.

Colonel Jasper Carlisle was defined by his work until he met his wife. When the prima ballerina swept into his life with her affection, bright laughter and graceful movements, he knew that she was the reason for his existence, and that their love would be forever.

But their world is shattered when Callie is kidnapped and brutally tortured by the foes Jasper has been hunting. Mechanical parts have replaced her legs, her hand, her eye...and possibly her heart. Though she survived, her anger at Jasper consumes her, while Jasper's guilt drives him from the woman he loves. He longs for the chance to show her their love can withstand anything...including her new clockwork parts.

As the holiday season approaches, Jasper realizes he must fight not just for his wife's love and forgiveness...but also her life, as his enemy once again attempts to tear them apart.

27,000 words

Available at:
Carina Press:
Barnes and Noble:

So there you have it, the inside look at three amazing, talented, generous women whom I have come to know and love.  Jenny Schwartz, PG Forte and JK Coi will always be my anthology sisters, no matter how far afield we go.  We’ve become each other’s cheerleaders, crit partners and sounding boards, and I am so thankful we were all brought together for this project, known as A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS.

Tomorrow, be prepared for me to get a little gushy over our editor, Angela James of Carina Press.

Releases Monday, December 5th!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Spotlight on PG Forte (and that Rhymes with Foreplay)!

Believe it or not, how to correctly say PG Forte's surname was my first official introduction to my antho sister.  The moment I popped over to her website, clicked on her blog and saw the "Rhymes with Foreplay" banner, I knew I had found a kindred spirit. :D

If you look at her Amazon Author's Page, you realize just how incredibly talented this woman is.  Steampunk, fantasy, paranormal, M/M, erotica, series romance... there's nothing she can't do!  My current main goal in life is to meet with PG in person so I can 1.) get her autograph, and 2.) buy her lunch and persuade her to let me pick her brain for a couple of hours.  I'm telling y'all, this woman might not know everything, but it's close enough for me. 

One last thing I love about PG... she's not.  PG, I mean.  As in, rated-PG.  She belongs to a group of outstanding, red-hot romance writers called The Nine Naughty Novelists.  PG doesn't know this (because I've never told her), but long before we both wound up working together on Carina's Press's A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS, I had stumbled my way onto the Nine Naughty Novelists' website (I mean, c'mon... with a name like that, you would have taken a peek too, right? :D).  At that time, the nine authors were having a ball posting round-robin chapters on a romance trope-filled spoof called THE ZILLIONAIRE VAMPIRE COWBOY'S SECRET WEREWOLF BABIES.  As I snort-laughed my way through it, I never imagined that I was destined to meet up with none other than one of those amazing authors. *fangirl sigh*

Okay, enough gushing, it's time to get to the good stuff!  And let me tell you, THIS WINTER HEART (available December 5th from Carina Press) is sooooooooo good.  Everyone has different tastes, of course, and I love all the novellas in A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS.  That being said, PG's novella is MY kind of romance.  Like all the others, I read it in one sitting.  Unlike all the others, I was cussing out the hero, Dario, right out of the gate.  Damn, that stubborn man pushed all my buttons from the get-go!  But that's okay, because in my opinion, that's the best possible sign there is.  Feeling passionate about characters means that this story will live on in my memory long after other, less weighty stories have faded away. 

By PG Forte
Releases December 5th!
THIS WINTER HEART still hasn't faded for me, thanks to the sexy, stubborn Dario.  Without spoiling things too much, Dario is frozen emotionally at the beginning of the story, to the point where he seems almost inhuman to his estranged wife, Ophelia, and their son.  This apparent lack of human compassion Dario initially displays is the ingenious twist that PG pulls here, because... well, things aren't what they seem with Ophelia.  I'd love to talk more about what defines humanity and the soul's ability to love unconditionally, but then I'd be giving the game away.  Just do me a favor -- go read THIS WINTER HEART.  Then we'll talk about the brilliance of PG Forte, who turns established ideas of the human heart upside down, and proves beyond all doubt that love is the ultimate power when it comes to defining who we are.

Intrigued yet?  You should be, so read on!


Santa Fe, The Republic of New Texacali, 1870

Eight years ago, Ophelia Leonides's husband cast her off when he discovered she was not the woman he thought she was. Now destitute after the death of her father, Ophelia is forced to turn to Dario for help raising the child she never told him about.

Dario is furious that Ophelia has returned, and refuses to believe Arthur is his son—after all, he thought his wife was barren. But to avoid gossip, he agrees to let them spend the holidays at his villa. While he cannot resist the desire he still feels for Ophelia, Dario despises himself for being hopelessly in love with a woman who can never love him back.

But Dario is wrong: Ophelia's emotions are all too human, and she was brokenhearted when he rejected her. Unsure if she can trust the man she desperately loves, she fears for her life, her freedom and her son if anyone else learns of her true nature...

30,000 words

Available at:


Carina Press:

Barnes and Noble:


Tomorrow, I review the novella that took me TWO FREAKING DAYS to recover from -- JK Coi's FAR FROM BROKEN!

Releases December 5th!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It’s Time To Unveil A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS’S Amazing Jenny Schwartz!

WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL Releases Dec. 5th!

I'm shining the spotlight on my anthology sisters, PG Forte, JK Coi and Jenny Schwartz, three incredibly talented writers who have been published in a myriad of subgenres in the romance field.  First up: Jenny Schwartz!

When I first found out I had been accepted by Carina Press to be a part of A CLOCKWORK CHRISTMAS, the first thing I did… well, the first thing I did was almost faint.  Heh.  Then when my head cleared, the next thing I did was think, “I wonder who else made it in?”  It wasn’t long before our editor, Angela James, was “introducing” us via email.  Jenny Schwartz, JK Coi, PG Forte and I hit it off so much that even after our steampunk project is officially launched and over with, we’ve decided we’re going to stick together and be critique partners for each other.  There are no words to describe how grateful I am to be included in a project with these multi-published authors.  Just about everything I now know about the book business, I’ve learned from them.

I’ve got to give the nod to Jenny Schwartz for getting the ball rolling on us coming together as a team.  She was the one who sent out the email that basically said, “We only have three months before our release day on December 5th, what are we going to do?”  Jenny has focused us on the art of promo as well as encouraging me to team-think, so it’s Jenny I'm focusing on first.

Jenny Schwartz, Author/Amazing Person
Jenny Schwartz, the author of WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL, is a fabulously inventive writer whose narrative “voice” drew me into her world from the first page.  This sweet, romantic steampunk story involves a strong-minded heroine (Esme) who would have fit in nicely with the women of my own family, a suffragette who knows more about the ways of the world than most men.  I cheered Esme on right away, but what kept me reading through to the end (in one sitting, no less) was the mystery surrounding the yummy hero, Jed Reeve.  There’s just something that doesn’t quite add up with this apparent scoundrel, and it was a twist at the end that made me chuckle.

For more of WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL, read on:
All suffragette Esme Smith wants is a man. A scoundrel to be precise. Someone who can be persuaded to represent her political views at men-only clubs. As the daughter of the richest man in Australia, Esme can afford to make it worth the right man's while.
Fresh off the boat, American inventor Jed Reeve is intrigued by Esme's proposal, but even more interested in the beauty herself. Amused that she takes him for a man who lives by his wits, he accepts the job—made easier by the fact that he already shares her ideals. Soon, he finds himself caught up in political intrigue, kidnapping and blackmail, and trying to convince his employer he's more than just a scoundrel...
26,000 words

Wanna know where to pick up WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL, releasing December 5th?  Of course you do!
Carina Press:


Tomorrow, look for a sneak peek at PG Forte and THIS WINTER HEART!