Posts tagged with: Caren Crane

Caren’s Double Book Launch Blowout!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]I hope no one got their hopes up at that title. Really. I am the worst party hostess in the history of partying AND also terribly lazy. So, this won’t be like one of Tawny’s lovely book launch parties, where there are 12 kinds of appetizers and Pablo is circulating with both white and red wine. BUT, it is a serious celebration of the launch of my two newest books, TIARA WARS and (albeit belatedly) BABY STEPS.

Settle in and help yourself to whatever you can find. I told Sven to set out bowls of Fritos and French onion dip and to have platters of cookies and a sundae bar. Oh, and alcohol. I have no idea what he has done with those orders, which likely sent him straight to the medicine cabinet for anti-anxiety meds. Anyway, let’s talk about the books.

Baby Steps large coverBABY STEPS is the second novel in my Cross Springs series. In it, our hardworking, career-oriented heroine, Connie Burns, has decided to have a baby. And she’s about to turn 39. And she has lupus. Everyone, including her husband, thinks this is a terrible idea. But Connie is a force of nature, as anyone who read KICK START or CROSS SPRINGS IN BLOOM knows. She will not be denied. Happily, her husband Tim knows her inside and out and understands exactly how to…er…sway Connie to his way of thinking. (I hate to use the word manipulate – so many negative connotations!) Connie agrees to proceed with the plans to foster a child, which they had set aside when she was diagnosed with lupus. Once the foster-parent wheels are set in motion, Connie’s world is turned completely upside down. And you get to read about the fallout! It’s great stuff, I promise. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll laugh some more!

If you completely missed the publication of this book in late June, that’s because I basically did NOTHING to promote it. I didn’t even have a launch party here! So I decided to let Connie horn in on Katie’s launch party for TIARA WARS. Fortunately, the two are BFFs now, so Katie won’t mind.

Kick StartKatie Warren is the heroine of my third Cross Springs novel, TIARA WARSThose who read KICK START may be surprised at Katie’s transformation from interfering busybody in the first novel to sympathetic, soul-searching heroine in the third. It’s been a long, tough journey for Katie. It’s tough to feel much sympathy for someone who was basically born with a silver spoon in her mouth and who has been showered with attention, awards and admiration her entire life, but poor Katie has been through some stuff when TIARA WARS opens.

A year previously, Katie learned her husband Larry had had an extra-marital affair. Before she could even get the truth from him about the affair, he had a massive coronary and died. To say she is conflicted is mild, indeed. But Connie, Cross Springs and good old circumstances force Katie to shake off her stupor of grief and disbelief and work toward getting some closure on her marriage and Larry’s untimely death. It also leaves her no choice but to decide who she was, who she is and who she wants to be. Poor Katie!

Cross Springs In Bloom coverIn both these books, I put the heroines through some serious soul-searching and emotional turbulence. But I also packed in the crazy people of Cross Springs, some really funny scenes, and the sort of “this could really happen” stuff that is too rarely seen in fiction. Connie and Katie’s stories are not unique. We all know women who have had a midlife crisis, changed their minds about strongly-held choices, dealt with grief and handled the gobsmacking wallop of marital betrayal. Connie and Katie are you and me, our sisters, our moms, our friends and co-workers. What makes them special is how their pain speaks to ours. And what makes it fun to read is that their traumas, like ours, are only one facet of their very full lives.

So have Pablo pour you another drink, grab some Fritos and cookies, and let’s have a lovely chat here at the (VERY CASUAL) party in the Lair today!

BanditBootyTo break the conversational ice (while Sven whips up more French onion dip and has a small nervous breakdown), tell me about someone you know who is like Connie (career-focused, goal-oriented, loyal and a super-fun aunt!) or Katie (a natural leader, the queen bee and a serious people-pleaser). Has anything changed this person’s mind or attitude? Have you changed yours when life got crazy? I’ll share some of my own stories today, as well. I’ll also give away an e-book copy (format of your choice) of BABY STEPS and also one of TIARA WARS (one each) to two lucky commenters!

Outlandishly Mad For ‘Outlander’

Everyone here knows two things about me:

1. I am cheap, cheap, cheap.

2. I am slow, slow, slow.

OutlanderAdd these together and it seems pretty unlikely that I would have been watching the new TV series Outlander on the Starz network, since that is a paid network on cable TV and the show is NEW. I don’t have cable TV. I certainly don’t have Starz. I do, however, have friends with Starz!!

Yes, I have been watching Outlander. Way back in the olden days (that’s 1991, kids), I was a member of the Doubleday Book Of the Month club. The way it worked, they picked a book as their “book of the month” and if you didn’t tell them you didn’t want it, it showed up in the mail. Usually, it was such a pain in the tail to return it, you ended up keeping it. And reading it. And, sometimes, loving it. That’s what happened to me in 1991. I forgot to return my card one month and in the mail came Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander. I was reading romance again at this point, which was why I joined the BOTM club in the first place. But I didn’t read time travel romance. Never had, never wanted to. I read the flap on Outlander…and put it aside. For months.

outlander-original-cover-jacket-by-diana-gabaldonThen one day, I ran out of things to read. It must have been a slow weekend day when my son was outside playing and I was finished doing housework. I picked up Outlander and began to read. And read. And read. I devoured it. I also waited impatiently for the publication of Gabaldon’s next installment, Dragonfly In Amber, which came out in 1992. Even though it was a rather dark book, what joy! Then I got married. And had a baby. And waited VERY impatiently until Voyager came out in 1994, while I was pregnant with yet another baby. Then, dearest friends, I waited until 1997 for Drums Of Autumn. And so on and so forth.

Sam-HeughanAll this time, I collected friends who were also huge fans of the Outlander series. We would try, from time to time, to imagine who they would cast as Jamie and Claire. Claire was fairly easy. But Jamie? Forget about it. Where would they find a 6-foot 4-inch red-headed Scottish actor to play Jamie? Um…in Scotland, apparently. Because Starz found the perfect Jamie. Okay, he’s not quite tall enough, in my opinion, but as my youngest says, “He’s beautiful!” Yes, with an exclamation point. Matter of fact, she wanted me to blog about Outlander and I told her I thought I might have done that before. She came up with a tagline: Jamie is so beautiful, you have to post about him twice. True. So there you have it, from the mouths of babes. Oh, yeah, and that chick who plays Claire is great, too.

Diana Gabaldon as Iona MacTavishHonestly, they are doing a fabulous job with the story so far. Not everything from the book is there and a few rather salient things (like meeting Roger as a child) are missing. Some things are sort of mashed together and some rewritten a bit. But all in all, it’s really a wonderful production. And here is a still of Diana Gabaldon in a cameo in Episode 4. I love that she is working so closely with the production crew!

outlander_keyart_1200_article_story_largeI’ll admit, I am currently re-reading Outlander. And I will, no doubt, re-read all the books in the series. Diana Gabaldon is a masterful writer. She created a world full of people I cared about and wanted to visit with time and again. That hasn’t changed. What has is that I now have a great picture of what Craigh Na Dun and Cranesmuir and Castle Leoch look like. And Black Jack Randall, too. (grrrr) I will keep popping over to my friend’s house to watch Outlander, even though I am dead cheap and generally slow. I won’t be slow on this one, y’all. I will be watching it unfold week by impatient week!

Have you indulged in Outlander in book or TV show form? If you’ve done both, which do you prefer? If you haven’t ever been exposed, what has stopped you? I recommend everyone give the show a try, at least, when it’s available to you. And what is better than men in kilts?!?

September Fun in the Lair!

I don’t know about all of you, but I can’t believe it’s September already. Before you know it, shops will be stocking up for Christmas! At least those of you in North America have Halloween and Thanksgiving to keep those retailers occupied. Here in England, we’ve seen tinsel and twinkling lights as early as the beginning of October. *shakes head*

 

A SEAL's Fantasy coverAnyway, the weather may be cooling in the northern hemisphere, as summer fades into fall, but here in the Lair, the fun is heating up – rather like the weather for our friends Down Under! As usual, we have a month packed with great Bandita books and lots of fabulous guests. I can hear my TBR mountain groaning already!

Duke very low resTawny Weber’s latest Sexy SEAL hits the shelves this month with A SEAL’s Fantasy.  The title really says it all.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]Also, don’t forget Caren Crane’s Tiara Wars (launch party coming on September 21!) and Anna Campbell’s What a Duke Dares.

 

DamasoWe kick off the month in style tomorrow, with the return of a Lair favourite,  as the lovely Annie West stops by to talk about her latest book, Damaso Claims his Heir. Damaso garnered a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews and it’s a doozy of a read so check it out.

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Donna will be interviewing Caroline Warfield about her debut historical novel, Dangeorous Works, on Sept 4.

TSWL

On September 5th, debut author Patience Griffin makes her first visit to the Bandit Lair with her book To Scotland With Love, the first in her Quilts & Kilts series.

 

More fun on Sept 7th, when Nancy and Trish report on this year’s Dragon*Con adventures.

 

Duke low res*Launch party alert* On 10th September, the fabulous Anna Campbell  is holding one of the lair’s infamous launch parties to send her What a Duke Dares, book 3 in her Sons of Sin series, into the world with a bang. Swing by for a glass of ducal champagne and giveaways!

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On Sept 12th, Barbara Lohr joins Donna to talk about her new release, Her Favorite Honeymoon. Barbara will be comparing a warmly familiar setting such as a small town series to a pulse-speeding read in faraway places or times, and asking which you prefer.

 

Vexing_The_Viscount_(eBook)A familiar and beloved face returns to the Lair on Sept 16th, as Christie Kelley joins Nancy to talk about her latest releases, Vexing the Viscount.

 

On Sept 17 Trish hosts Pam Mantovani to discuss The Cowboy on her Doorstep, her debut novel. 

 

CowboyInTheMakingFrontCover-2-2

 

More cowboys on September 18th, when Julie Benson returns to chat with Suz about her latest Harlequin American book, A Cowboy In The Making!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out this month’s Bandita contests!

Anna Campbell’s RT Book Reviews Top Pick, What a Duke Dares, is out in the UK at the end of October so she’s celebrating this momentous occasion by having a cup of tea and giving two entrants in her current website contest a chance to win a signed print edition of the beautiful Mills and Boon edition of the book. To enter just email her on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) with the names of the other full-length novels in the Sons of Sin series. There are two of them and you might find the answer here. The contest closes 31st October, 2014, and entry is open internationally.

Tawny’s giving away a free digital compilation of Hot Kisses to anyone joining her newsletter this month. To join and get your copy, just click here.

Do you have anything special that you’re looking forward to this September?

By the way, don’t forget you can buy most of these books quickly and easily by clicking on the covers!

The Perfect Kiss Payoff

These days, there is a lot of explicit sex on offer. You can watch guarded versions on network TV or incredibly explicit versions on cable TV. It is available in movies and even in books. It makes me shake my head in wonder at the sort of romance novels I started out reading. The payoff in those? A single, perfect kiss.

Barbara Cartland coverI cut my romance baby teeth on dozens of Barbara Cartland’s Regency romances. These slender volumes invariably featured beautiful, but impoverished, heroines with heart-shaped faces. The heroes were tall, dark, very rich noblemen who somehow managed to see past the heroine’s shabby clothes and unfashionable chapeau to the natural grace and beauty underneath. At the end of these sweeping, sweet romances, the hero and heroine shared a glorious, much-anticipated kiss. Generally, this followed after the declaration of love and proposal of marriage.

 

Game-of-Thrones-sex-3This notion of waiting an entire book for a single kiss is hopelessly old-fashioned these days. With shows like Game Of Thrones and Masters Of Sex (both excellent, by the way) showing us people getting busy every which way, who would waste their time reading 150 pages to get to that incredibly sweet first kiss?

North and South kiss

 

I still find myself, though, enjoying the build-up. Even in books where the hero and heroine are definitely headed toward the boudoir, I love the sexual tension. The awareness. The breathless anticipation of the will they, won’t they? We can pretty much guarantee, these days, that the hero and heroine will definitely do a lot more than kissing. But waiting for that first kiss is something I still really enjoy. (And yes, that IS Richard Armitage and that fabulous kiss on the train from North and South!

 

gustav-klimt-the-kissI’m not sure if my enjoyment of the anticipation is because of all those Barbara Cartland novels or because I simply love falling in love right along with the heroine. My “new love” days are long gone and so far in the past now they are difficult to recall sometimes. But when I read a great romance novel and find myself longing for the first kiss along with the heroine, I get to fall in love all over again.

Do you enjoy the build-up to the first kiss in a romance? Have you ever read a romance where a kiss was the ultimate romantic payoff? And do you require a fully-consummated romance or do you think the heat of the romance depends on the couple and their story? I can’t wait to find out!

Flummoxed By Fashion

denim horrorI recently received a catalog from a favorite women’s retailer. It was their offerings for fall and, I’ll admit, I usually love to see what they are pushing for the upcoming season. I have, over the years, spent thousands of dollars on clothes with this retailer. I have bought many things (including envy-inspiring jackets, Joan!) at this store. I depend on them to have fun casual clothes and also clothes I can wear to work and to writing conferences where I want to present a professional appearance.

craft suppliesApparently, when the designers were working on the fall collection, they got together and smoked a whole lot of recreational drugs first. Then they took huge bags of clothes gathered from thrift stores all over the world, dating mostly from the 1980′s but also from the early 90′s. They dumped the clothes in a huge pile, got out their Fiskars, and cut pieces and parts from random items, then sewed them together in a hodgepodge manner and broke out the sequins, gemstones, fringe and hot glue guns. The result? A fall collection of fashions so baffling that I am still moaning and shaking my head.

lace bomber1. A lace bomber jacket – I love a bomber (or aviator) jacket more than anyone. I own a gorgeous brown leather one I bought in 1991 that I still get compliments on every time I wear it. The one in this collection, however, is made of navy blue polyester lace. Yes, lace, with big old air holes across its entire surface. It also has a big silver zipper up the front and wide elastic bands at the cuff and bottom. What is the point of a “jacket” made of lace, first of all, and who would be tempted to wear such a concoction? And where would you wear it?!?

sequinned denim vest2. Sequined, acid-washed denim vest - I have had denim, lots of denim in my lifetime. I spent all of the 80′s and the early 90′s in acid-washed denim and, I’ll admit, I loved it. I had jeans, jackets, miniskirts. I never owned a denim vest, but if I had found a really cute one, I would have worn it. I have worn embroidered and decorated denim in moderation. I have never worn sequinned denim. Denim = casual. Sequins = formal. What do you get when you combine the two? A hot mess, in my opinion! This vest also has seams that run along the breastline (pretty common for denim), except this one has a zipper on the left seam. Yes, a zipper. Why add a zipper? I have no clue. Denim! Sequins! Useless zipper!

shiny sweat pants3. Shiny sweat pants - Now, they don’t call these “sweat pants.” They call them a “Soft Matte Shine Pant,” which means nothing. They are baggy, have those awkward front pockets that are located near the side leg seam and have a wide band of elastic gathering the ankles. But they are shiny and a grey/silver color. They are also paired with the lace bomber jacket and a t-shirt awash in silver studs. And strappy silver stilettos. These are sweat pants, friends, but apparently they are dressy sweat pants. Honestly, I have no idea what these would be suitable for. They don’t look great even on the super-skinny model, so I can only imagine how they would look at the grocery store or block party on a normal woman who could lose a few pounds. WHY?

pinstripe jacket4. Pinstripe boyfriend jacket with bejeweled cuffs - Okay, this is actually a terrific-looking jacket, except that it has three-quarter length sleeves, which I despise. Long, clean lines, sharply cut lapels and it comes at least mid-thigh on a tall woman. But…they took the cuffs on those unfortunate three-quarter length sleeves and they embellished them with “stones.” Yes, those fake gemstones in varying sizes. They are all clear (thank goodness), but still. The entire cuff, all the way around. Plus, this jacket says it is machine washable. Have you ever washed anything bedazzled with fake gemstones? Invariably, a percentage ends up popping off, never to be retrieved or reglued. This jacket needed no embellishment. It would only work on someone tall and thin, in any case, but without the fake gemstones I would have been tempted. Not now. Why embellish something that needs no embellishment? And again, where would you wear it? Too casual for formal, too formal for casual. I am baffled. And guess what? I searched their website for this jacket? Nowhere to be found! (gimme a suspenseful “meow-meow-meow…”)

shimmer jeggingsI won’t even begin a diatribe on shimmer jeggings, although those are in this catalog too. Along with a very loosely-crocheted mid-thigh sweater shawl with feathery bits hanging, inexplicably, from the hem. And black polyester skinny pants with a three-inch zipper at the ankle.

Perhaps they thought to appeal to a younger demographic? Or that women don’t actually need to dress professionally anymore? I have no idea. But whatever they passed out at the committee meeting where this line was approved, I want some. It must be gooood stuff. I can only hope that, for spring, they lay off the peyote and create something I could actually consider purchasing and wearing.

So…have you witnessed any unfortunate fashion trends lately? Been converted to something you thought you despised (like shimmer jeggings)? Been unable to find a favorite you’ve searched for because no one makes it anymore? Please share your fashion adventures! I’ll be over here searching for that pinstripe jacket. Maybe I could pry off all the fake gemstones…

There’s Got To Be a Morning After…

country-breakfast-specialAnd if you think this blog post is about hangovers, you are CORRECT! You win a large, very cold glass of water and two regular aspirin, followed by a breakfast of scrambled eggs, biscuits, hashbrowns and bacon (my favorite hangover cure). Actually, I prefer country ham, but you can’t always get that at your local greasy spoon. Oh, and you really need a side of grits to soak up the alcohol in your stomach, if you can get them.

family, vacation and conference 2008 050So, why the focus on hangovers today? Well, lest we forget, SOME Banditas (and Buddies) spent last night at RWA’s RITA and Golden Heart Awards ceremony. This is, invariably, followed by far too many parties and drinks at various bars. Lots of talking, laughing, consumption of alcohol and sugary desserts, all following several DAYS of way too much talking, laughing and consumption of alcohol and sugary desserts. It makes for a VERY rude awakening on Sunday, as any of us who have attended an RWA conference can tell you. So, today, let’s dish about the “morning after.” (And yes, that is the GR having a bit of wine at conference in the photo!)

AA034183Some of my most memorable morning after memories happened in my first two years of college. I had lots and lots and way too much fun my first two years of college. I drank more in those two years than I probably have in the rest of my life, danced more than I have any time since then and kissed more frogs than any respectable princess would own up to. Man, did I have a great time! (Not that I would recommend that to anyone else, mind you.)

article_hangoverAll that to say, I have had my share of hangovers in my lifetime. Nothing ever makes them easier to face. I think, though, if you’ve abused your body with too little sleep and too much booze, your throat hurts from talking/laughing and your feet still ache from dancing in high heels all night, you deserve a really great breakfast. Or whatever else might make you feel vaguely human. Your choice!

coffee cureSo what’s your favorite hangover breakfast? Or are you a black coffee and aspirin devotee? Kale smoothie or other vitamin cure, anyone? Or are you a teetotaler who has never share the agony of the morning after blues? Dish ‘em up, ’cause we’ve got some people lounging around the Lair who could use some advice!

A Kurt-trospective Journey

Friday was Independence Day here in the USA. We generally don’t do much to celebrate besides take in a fireworks display if the kids are around. This year, no kids. This year, I decided to take the day off and indulge myself. I spent the entire day feasting my eyes on my main man. The man my husband rather resembles and after whom I have pined since I was a little girl. That man, as many of you know, is my beloved Kurt Russell.

8th Annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards Ceremony - ArrivalsKurt isn’t for everyone and neither is his filmography. I readily admit that I completely missed his “Disney kid actor” days. I didn’t see any of his child movies, not even The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. And I don’t recall seeing him on reruns of High Chapparal, Gunsmorke or Gilligan’s Island, either. But I vividly recall the Kurt of the 80s and 90s. THAT was my Kurt. Even into this millennium, Kurt has gotten to me. Here were my retrospective movies, along with some helpful (or harmful) critiques, in the order I watched them:

bigtrouble_4001. Big Trouble In Little China – Kurt has a very macho, swaggery style when he’s hamming it up. He never played that character bigger or better than as Jack Burton in 1986′s Big Trouble In Little China. This movie has San Francisco’s China Town, lots of martial arts, Chinese black magic, kidnapping, prostitution, human trafficking, and lots of Chinese hells. There are even a couple of very paranormalish monsters, in grand 80s tradition. AND it also stars Kim Cattrall, in what was probably her greatest role before she became Samantha on Sex and the City. Great stuff!

2. The Best of Times - This movie (also 1986) is a big, corny satire with tons of heart. It also stars Robin Williams, who got to do all the things he does best in this film. My darling Kurt plays Reno Hightower, who was a promising local football hero until that fateful game against Bakersfield in 1972. The one Robin Williams lost for the town and the one he is trying to get Reno to play again. Extra fun!

kurt-and-goldie-overboard3. Overboard – I’ll admit I am not a huge fan of Kurt’s main squeeze (of the last 30 years), Goldie Hawn. But Goldie was great in this underrated comic gem from 1987. It has a premise that’s hard to defend – man claims rich woman with amnesia is his wife and takes her home to help with his 4 sons and pay off money she owes him – but it’s a really cute, fun movie in any case. Plus, she was an incredibly unlikable horror at the beginning of the movie and a wonderful, loving person at the end. Aw!

4. Captain Ron – Okay, here’s where I got my movies way out of order. I thought this one must have preceded the next two, so I watched it after Overboard, which was chronologically very wrong. This one came out in 1992, but you can only sort-of tell that it’s no longer the 80s, given the hair and fashions of the times. Also stars Martin Short (a hit or miss with me) and Mary Kay Place (whom I adore!). This is one of those madcap caper type movies that is enjoyable once in a blue moon. I’ve had my fill for now.

1746-25. Tango & Cash – This film from 1989 is just something that seriously should never have happened. The plot was ludicrous (two LA police detectives are framed for drug dealing and thrown into prison, from whence they plot an escape) and the dialogue was atrocious. The worst thing was, Sylvester Stallone (Tango) co-starred and was supposed to the the smart one! Which they accomplished by making him wear eyeglasses. What?!? I have no idea who thought that was a great idea. Fun, but only to make fun of. Even seeing their naked butts in the prison shower scene didn’t make this okay.

backdraft6. BackdraftThis 1991 film is probably the best movie Kurt has made so far. It is a heart-wrenching tale of love, fire and loss. Kurt is firefighter Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey, whose little brother Brian (William Baldwin) has just joined the force and is assigned to the station where he’s lieutenant. It’s a great movie about brothers, family and the love that so many firefighters and arsonists share for fire. Great stuff.

episodes_movie7. Stargate – This is my personal favorite of Kurt’s films. Well, it’s tied with #1 on my list, but I think it’s my favorite right now. I adore this science fiction/speculative fiction tale of humans re-establishing contact with the aliens who visited us thousands of years ago. When they figure out the goal was to use humans as slaves to mine a valuable mineral on a planet on the far side of the solar system, things get ugly for Kurt’s Colonel Jack O’Neil, who was suicidal before being called back to active duty for this mission due to the accidental shooting death of his young son. It also stars a young and very cute James Spader as the translator for the ancient Greek heiroglyphs. If you don’t recall how cute James was back in the day, you need to watch this movie!

I don’t regret spending tLis_forever_kurt_russellhe entirety of my July 4th with Kurt. I got to see him fight for truth, justice and the American way, all the way from Chinatown to outer space. And seriously, before he started showing his age (and the ravages of years of smoking) like he does these days, he was the most gorgeous thing ever!

So tell me, who do you love enough that you would spend an entire day watching SEVEN of his/her movies? I’d love to know your favorite of your favorite’s movies AND their biggest dud. TANGO & CASH. I’m just saying…

An Interview with Caren Crane!

Caren, here, to interview…er…myself. For your pleasure, of course! Here are some scintillating facts about me that you can use to amuse yourself. Especially if you see me in a bar somewhere, say, at a conference or convention! If I’ve had enough of my favorite beverages, I will gladly cop to any of the following:

So, Caren, tell us. What drink does Sven bring you when you’re hiding in the cave?
First of all, Caren, I never hide in the cave, I simply use it as a handy retreat from the cold, cruel world. That said, before noon, Sven brings coffee and water. After noon, it’s all vodka tonics with two olives. And water. Always water.

Water…riiight. And, when you’re not in your cave, where in the Lair do you hang out the most?
Please, everyone knows if I’m not in my cave, then I’m in the library, of course! (Never believe Anna C. if she says I hang out in the kitchen. That is a lie. A lie, I say!!) It’s a little-known fact that I worked at the library at my college. I would have preferred shelving books, but they put me on the circulation desk. It was a really fun job and I got to make the “closing” announcements. I got some odd looks after some of my announcements, which were always designed to amuse me, naturally.

Naturally. So, Caren, let’s dish. What’s the hardest thing about writing? What’s the most rewarding?
The hardest thing about writing is sitting down and actually doing it. It’s much more fun to think about writing and talk about writing and write about writing than it is to actually write. Writing is hard! The most rewarding thing is someone posting or e-mailing that they loved my book or it touched them in some way. I love that!

You would. I’m sure our readers are just LONGING to know (as if it isn’t perfectly obvious from all your books), who do you enjoy writing more — hero or heroine?
I always greatly prefer heroines. Women are far more interesting than men, always. Men are such simple creatures, with fewer layers than women. Women are intricately-woven personalities. Very complex people with complex relationships. Men have little tolerance for complexity in relationships. They like things simple. I find simple simply boring. Women are fun to write!
I know you often get distracted when researching. Squirrel! What is the most interesting fact or research you have discovered so far?
That’s an easy one. I have no idea what I was researching, but at some point I found out there is a closed mine in Austria where they have converted the mine rails into a sort of roller-coaster, thrill ride. I want to go so badly!!I just have to convince my husband this is an opportunity that is not to be missed!
And, although you claim not to hang out in the kitchen, what’s your favourite Lair snack?
My favorite Lair snack is dark-chocolate-covered espresso beans. They should be banned in all countries! They somehow keep finding their way into my mouth, somehow, though I don’t recall putting them there. I adore them! They should be outlawed!

Lastly, what do you keep in your writing cave to inspire you?
I have two framed prints of the artwork from the cover of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong and Dragonsinger. Elizabeth Malczynski was the artist and her work is spectacular. It fueled my imagination as a teenager and still does today! I find her art endlessly inspirational, even though I don’t write fantasy. She’s just that good!

Thus ends our terribly entertaining and enlightening interview with Caren Crane. Caren is shooshing off to update her (badly outdated) website to reflect the June 26 release of her second Cross Springs novel, BABY STEPS. The third Cross Springs novel will be out in late July. No telling when those updates will hit the website! :P

Remember Romance?

Here is a common complaint I hear from women who do not read romance novels: real life just isn’t like that. It’s sad but true that life does not always work out with a happy ending. And yet, sometimes it does. I even know romance writers who are not enjoying a happy-ever-after with their first loves. Some are divorced or widowed. Some have never married. Some are on their second, or third, or fourth marriages. So why would these women want to write about Happy Endings?

love swansI am an optimist by nature. I’ll admit that I enjoy the occasional murderous thriller and, when the mood hits, a dark and unhappy tale. Mostly, though, I like my stories upbeat and humorous, where everyone gets their just desserts in the end. A good romantic book or movie gives me that. When I transitioned from writing straight romance to women’s fiction, the heavy romantic story line was the first thing I dropped. But romance still figures in all my books. It kept getting stronger in each one, as a matter of fact. The hardest book I ever tried to write – and am still trying to finish! – features a married couple with no romance thread at all. Sorry to all the married people (like me!), but after a couple decades of marriage, romance isn’t on top of the agenda. There is still PLENTY going on, but it isn’t too romantic. :D

baby-boomer-couple-at-dinnerBut even if real-life romance doesn’t stay front and center decade after decade, we still enjoy it. I once planned a romantic dinner with my husband on a rare night when we were without children. The waiter figured, wrongly, it must be our anniversary. Which made me realize that we only expect romance a couple of times a year, like on an anniversary or St. Valentine’s Day. Aren’t we selling ourselves short? Shouldn’t we expect romance to surprise us any old time, even if we’re in a committed relationship? Couldn’t any day be as romantic as Valentine’s Day? And if we expected more romance – planned for it, even – might we not find our lives a little sweeter, a bit happier or, at the very least, different?

What do you think? Is romance a requirement or is it just occasional icing on the cake of your life? If you haven’t found your Happy Ending yet, do you expect to someday?

My Love Affair With Time Travel

My name is Caren and I’m a time-travel addict. I heard the murmurs of, “Hi, Caren!” coming from you guys, so don’t be shy if you’re an addict, too. I’ve been reflecting on my love affair with time travel romances lately for a couple of reasons. Really good reasons. Even hunky reasons!

Jamie and ClaireIn case you’ve been living under a large and marketing-impervious rock, you’ve probably heard that Diana Gabaldon’s fabulous Outlander is finally coming to the screen! Of course, it’s the small screen and it’s only on the Starz network, but still. It’s coming to our homes! I fell in love with Outlander when it first came out in hardcover. As a recently-graduated-from-college single mom in 1991, I didn’t buy hardcover books. BUT, I joined the Book Of the Month Club. Some of you may have done that, too. I forgot to send back my postcard or something one month and, before I knew it, Outlander showed up in my mailbox.

outlander-original-cover-jacket-by-diana-gabaldonIt sat around for a few weeks…and then I got bored enough to pick it up. I kind of hated the cover, which featured an ormolu clock whose glass face is in the act of shattering. It made me roll my eyes. But once I cracked the cover and started the tale of Jamie Fraser and Claire Beauchamp, I was HOOKED. I read the novels assiduously until about the sixth one, which came out about the time my life got really complicated and I no longer had time to devote to Clan Fraser. I took a hiatus from time travel romance, but it wasn’t a conscious decision.

Last week, a good friend from church asked me if I had read the books. Duh! She then asked if I wanted to come to her series premiere party. Double duh! She had very expensive invitations made to her premiere party that look like wedding invitations. They are printed with the Fraser plaid on back. Swoon! So yes, August 9th is a highly anticipated date by many time travel romance fans!

dd_everything_200x316Then, another interesting thing happened. My friend Dee Davis, who is one of my Red Door Reads buddies, posted a link yesterday to a collection of six time travel romances for 99 cents! WHAT?!? Yes, I snapped it right up. You should, too! As I clicked the evil “Buy now with 1-Click” button, I reflected that all signs seem to be pointing me toward time travel romance once again. My deep, dark secret is, when I first started writing romance, my very first manuscript was a time travel romance. No one was writing those in 2001! I managed to final in Georgia Romance Writers’ prestigious Maggie contest with that one, but was bested by…Sandy Blair! How could I be upset at being bested by the novel that became her first published time travel romance? :D

Have you had a love affair with time travel romance? If so, what books were your gateway drug? If not, what keeps you from indulging? And if you had the chance to travel back in time to be with the super-hot love of your life (Jamie Fraser), would you go? Why or why not? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s time travel experiences! :D

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