Posts tagged with: anthology

Love in the Land of Lakes!


So you all know I’m from up north, right?  

Now, when I say “up north” I’m talking about that hardy, chilly stretch of the north-central U.S. bordering Canada.  Let’s say roughly Wyoming through Michigan.

Up north is where it snows October through March, & we take it in stride.  

Up north is where we have mosquitoes the size of bread plates, and people insult you by saying simply, “Well, that’s different.”



Up north, we’re at the very top of what folks on either coast refer to as “fly-over country.”  Because they prefer to just fly over it.  Nobody in their right mind would go there.  Because–did I mention?–snow.  Plus large mosquitoes and deadly subtle insults.

Me?  I love it here.  But I didn’t always.

WearingWarmCoatbyStuartMilesNow I was born and raised up north.  In Michigan, to be precise.  (The mitten state!)  But I knew I wasn’t made for winter.  My senior year in college cemented this conviction.  I remember the day itself–April 1, 1994.  I had just walked to class through a blinding snow storm, the kind with such fierce winds that you have to empty your pockets of snow upon arriving at your destination.  And as I was scooping snow from my coat pockets (I am not making this up), I said to myself, “That’s it.  I’m getting out of here.”

I graduated one month later & took the first job south of the Mason/Dixon line that came my way.  (Thank you, Houston Independent School District, for the opportunity.  I quite enjoyed Texas.) 

That said?  I lasted three years before I moved back up north. To Minnesota this time.  And I haven’t budged since. 

At this point, you may be questioning my sanity.  (Because, to recap:  snow, mosquitoes, insults.)  


But here’s the thing.  In exchange for snow, mosquitoes and “that’s different,” I got heat, bigger mosquitoes (!) and “bless your heart.”  Even exchange, that.  But I also got snakes (the large, poisonous kind) and alligators.  (Alligators!)  

In exchange for wind chill factors, fall colors and spring flowers, I got a rainy season.  And I discovered that I will happily take a few weeks of -50 windchill over three months of 37 degree rain any old time.

But it was the water that finally did it. 

at the cottage

I missed the lakes.  

I might’ve mentioned that I grew up in Michigan, also known as the Great Lakes State.  Fun fact?  You can’t go more than six miles in any direction in Michigan without hitting a body of water.  You’re never more than 85 miles from a Great Lake, either.  As a result, we Michiganders view time in & on the water as our birthright.

I spent my childhood summers at the family cottage, right near the tip of the mitten.  (I’m the little one in the photo, if you’re wondering.)  Days at the cottage were all about fishing, swimming & water skiing ourselves into exhaustion, then baking ourselves dry on hot wooden docks.  Nights were all about bonfires on beaches, storytelling under the stars, then bunking down in rickety screened-in porches where we slathered our peeling backs with Noxema and listened to loons laughing on the lake.  

Alligator GarNow, it must be said:  they do have lakes in Texas.  Of course they do.  But when we say “lake” up north, we mean deep, clear, cold water you can swim in.  When they say “lake” down south, they mean warm, shallow, muddy water full of crazy things I don’t want to swim with. (Alligator gar, anybody?  See photo.  See also:  yikes.) 

So I realized–finally–that up north is simply who I am.  It’s in my blood.  It was no mistake that I wound up making my forever home in Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. For me, home is always going to be the place where the trees are tall, the winters are white & the lakes are so clear you can see straight to the bottom.  

FINAL Kiss the Girl frontSo when my local RWA chapter decided to put together an anthology centered around falling in love in the Land of Lakes, I couldn’t resist.  I don’t often write short–it’s crazy painful for a long-winded girl like me–but if you read my summer release KISS THE GIRL, you know that my heroine Nixie is saddled with…let’s call it a difficult family situation. Specifically her aging sex-pot of a movie star mom.  Ah, Sloan.  The villainess everybody loves to hate.  Now Sloan ended up with a happy ending of her own, but because it happened largely off stage, even I didn’t know quite how Sloan bagged her man.  And I was curious. 

So I wrote it.  

Love in the Land of LakesIf you’d like to know exactly how that played out, check out UNWRAPPED, my contribution to LOVE IN THE LAND OF LAKES which is–of course–set proudly on the shores of Lake Superior.  

Click here for more, or just check out Susan’s website!

So tell me, is there a place in the world that particularly speaks to you? Do you live there, or just yearn for it?  What says home to you like nothing else?  Did you always know that, or did you have to move somewhere that didn’t have it before you realized how important it was?

One lucky commenter will win her own e-copy of LOVE IN THE LAND OF LAKES, so don’t be shy!  Share!

Images courtesy of  Mouse over for artist attribution.





A Holiday Anthology For Everyone!

I’m excited to host some old Romance Bandits friends here in the Lair. Some of you may recall a previous visit from the gorgeous Regan Black. Well, Regan is back with a great anthology she’s put together with three other fabulous writers! Joining Regan is my long-time friend Kimberly Hope, plus new friends V.R. Marks and Jay Keelan.

Guys, we adore anthologies here in the Lair and we also adore holiday stories. So a collection of holiday novellas is sure to delight Banditas and Buddies alike. What can you tell us about this promising collection?


Thanks, Caren, for having us here today.  Our holiday anthology, A Season for Romance, started as a bright idea over the phone one day when we were steadfastly avoiding work and a thousand miles separated us all. “Oooh. We should write a holiday anthology of short stories. We have plenty of time!” Things went downhill from there, kind of like this:


Kimberly Hope: I’m writing a Christmas story.


Jay Keelan: I’m writing a Christmas story, too.


Regan Black: {blushing} My story’s YA.


VR Marks: Mine’s a Thanksgiving story. Don’t give me any grief. You know we men are all about the food.


Kimberly: I’m writing a contemporary reunion story.


Jay: I’m writing a contemporary reunion story, too.


Regan: Mine’s a contemporary story. With a paranormal angle.


VR: No reunion. Sorry. But it is contemporary.


Are you sensing a pattern here? This is what happens when you throw four independent authors into one mix. Contemporary. Paranormal. Suspense. Multiple holidays. Yeah, our cover artist loves us. But there’s something in A Season for Romance for everyone.


All of the stories are set in small town North or South Carolina. Except Snow Covered Resolutions by Regan Black. That’s set in the Midwest.


So as release time closed in, we searched for any common ground beyond ‘contemporary’ and started shooting random interview questions back and forth via email. Here are the highlights:


Which Disney character would you be?

Kimberly: Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty (unless someone knows where to find the Hunstman from Once Upon a Time… then I’ll be whoever he wants me to be).  :-)


Jay: Rapunzel, because I have a frying pan and I’m not afraid to use it.


Regan:  Mulan because she can kick butt like my daring, adventurous heroines.


VR: The Genie from Aladdin. (short answer wins!)


What kind of pets “help” you write?


Kimberly: My Doberman keeps me at the keyboard, sometimes she even lets me type.


Jay: Like Kimberly, my dog keeps my toes warm after she steals my slippers.


Regan: Our two greyhounds usually let me write while they’re napping.


VR: Two cats. {crickets chirp in the silence} But they’re manly, Maine Coon cats.


“Common ground” might be a pipe dream in this anthology. Clearly, we’re all a little whacked. But the one thing that ties all our short stories together is that they’re all about discovering what matters most about heart and home.


So, it’s the holiday season. While you’re playing ’12 Days of Christmas’ on your iPod, we’re playing Sesame Street’s ‘Which One of These Things Is Not Like the Others?’ As illustrated here:


Kimberly: In my first sassy contemporary romance, The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé, Jessica’s Grandma Violet is the town matchmaker. In my Meddling with Mistletoe in the anthology, we see Violet’s first matchmaking attempt, involving Jessica’s parents and a wine cellar.

 Jay: In Finding the Focus, when Ethan Myers, an award-winning photographer who is short on inspiration, leaves his studio for the road, he never predicted he’d run into the one woman he had never forgotten.


VR: We meet Sheriff Cochran in my romantic suspense novel, The Thief, but we don’t learn exactly how he feels about Ruth Williams, the owner of the local diner, until her annual Thanksgiving feast in The Sheriff’s Proposal in the anthology.

Regan: In Snow-Covered Resolutions, it’s New Year’s Eve and all the Pixie Chicks from my previous YA novels have someone special to kiss at midnight – except Austin. In this season of resolutions will she stick to hers, or will the snow-covered magic of Hobbitville sweep her up in a whole new adventure?


In addition to the short stories, Kimberly Hope and VR Marks have both added the first chapters of the first books in these series to the anthology. And in the spirit of the season, we’re giving away one copy of the anthology and one of each full-length novel: A Season for Romance, Kimberly Hope’s The Heiress and Her Fake Fiancé, and VR Marks’s The Thief.

To enter, all you have to do is post a comment telling us which Disney character you’d be and why! Okay, Banditas and Buddies, which one will it be? I’m off to do some animated movie watching…I mean, research…


Be sure to come back to the Lair on December 13 when we kick off the annual 12 BANDITA DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! Prizes and recipes every day!! Roosters. Books. Starbucks goodies. Books. Dragons. Books. Cookies. Books. Godiva. You know you want the cookies, for sure, so come home to the Lair for the Holidays! Who knows, you might win something, and you’ll be guaranteed to have fun!! (Did we mention there might be books?)