Posts tagged with: Kandy Shepherd

Foanna’s 2014 Best Romance Winner

1BanditBootyThanks to everyone who swung by to recommend the books they enjoyed in 2014. I’m delighted now to announce the winner of my giveaway:

JANE!

Jane, congratulations! You’ve won your choice of Annie West‘s REBEL’S BARGAIN, Kandy Shepherd‘s THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT, or THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE by Vanessa Barneveld (ebook only).

Please email me on anna @ annacampbell.info (no spaces) and let me know which book you’d like and your snail mail if you’re choosing either Annie’s or Kandy’s book or the format (Kindle or whatever) if you’d like Vanessa’s. If you need help choosing, I’ve given a short precis of each book in yesterday’s post: http://romancebandits.com/foannas-2014-reading-roundup-part-1/

Happy reading!

Foanna’s 2014 Reading Roundup – Part 1

rr 1Happy new year, Banditas and Bandita Buddies! I hope 2015 is fantastic for you.

That’s enough of the looking ahead. Let’s look back to 2014 and some great books.

I thought I’d devote my spots on the Romance Bandits for January and February to listing some of the wonderful reads I found last year. After all, we all love recommendations for our towering TBR piles, don’t we?

Today, I’m going to talk about romances. Next month, I’m going to talk about books that aren’t romances (or at least not primarily – I find my favorite books nearly always include some sort of romantic plot, even if only as a subsidiary). You’ll notice that I’ve steered clear of books by my tremendously talented Bandit sisters – if I included theirs, we’d be here all year!

rr 2I blogged a couple of months ago about how I was on a major Nora Roberts kick. That looks like it might continue this year. Of the many Noras I read in 2014, my favorite is THE WITNESS, her story of a super-intelligent, high achieving teenager who finally kicks over the traces and rebels, only to be forced into a living nightmare when she witnesses a mafia killing. The woman grows up, always on the run, always smart enough to stay alive – but what happens when she falls in love with the local police chief? Is it time to stop running and finally face her enemies?

This one has two wonderful central characters (I love Abigail’s dorky but smart take on life), a lovely romance and some seriously good suspense. If you haven’t read it yet, I suggest you grab it now! For a peek at some of the other Nora books I read this year, here’s my blog on the subject: http://romancebandits.com/im-in-the-mood-for-love-and-nora/

rr 3The next book, THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd, is by a friend of mine. It just happens that some of my favorite reads last year are by people I know – they’re all well worth picking up! Summer is simply gorgeous, a lovely story about two damaged people who were in love as teenagers and reconnect after life hasn’t been kind to either of them. It’s a story about bad timing turning into forever after. I laughed and cried in this one – and you’ll fall in love with the town of Dolphin Bay where the book is set. You can read an interview with Kandy here: http://romancebandits.com/kandy-shepherd/

The next sooper-dooper read for you is THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE, the debut novel by Vanessa Barneveld, another friend of mine.

rr 5This YA is a beautiful story about coming to accept who you are and finding the right person and learning that life is a mixture of happy and sad. It’s also a darn good ghostly mystery story as heroine Keira struggles to answer the questions surrounding the death of high school hero Jimmy and in the process realizes that she’s always loved his older brother Dan. Even if you’re not usually a YA fan, give this one a go. You won’t be disappointed. You can see where Vanessa visited the lair and gave us the lowdown on her book here: http://romancebandits.com/vanessa-barneveld/

With my next recommendation, I’m cheating slightly as it’s a series of six, M.C. Beaton/Marion Chesney’s The Travelling Matchmaker books. These are trad Regencies full of wit and romance and classic period touches like duels and highwaymen and marriages of convenience.

rr 4When housekeeper Hannah Pym unexpectedly receives a bequest from her late employer, she determines to seek the adventure that her quiet life in domestic service has so far prevented. She sets out on various stagecoaches and meets danger and excitement and young lovers and a chance to discover talents she never knew she possessed. These books are such fun – definitely a series to put a smile on your face. Here’s a link to a more detailed review of the six books that I did on the Romance Dish: http://www.theromancedish.com/2014/06/regency-charmers.html

My next choice from 2014 is a corker of a steamy reunion story from lair favorite Annie West. For some reason, I couldn’t link this one through the cover, but here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00J2ZVDSM?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creativeASIN=B00J2ZVDSM&linkCode=xm2&tag=romanbandi-20

rr 6I love all Annie’s stories but this one really hit it out of the ballpark for me. Orsino Chatsfield and his estranged wife Poppy have so much passion between them that when they come together in a glamorous French chateau, they set the Loire Valley aflame! This is part of the Harlequin Chatsfield continuity but you can read the story as a stand-alone. Give it a go – these characters are unforgettable. Here’s a link to where Annie visited the lair to talk about this book: http://romancebandits.com/annie-west-6/

My last favorite book of the year is one I read in December. Who doesn’t like a Christmas charmer? Mary Jo Putney‘s collection of four Regency novellas plus a contemporary, CHRISTMAS REVELS, is uber charming. All the stories are great, but my particular favorite is The Christmas Cuckoo where a capable young woman who believes she’s on the shelf collects the wrong man from the local inn and takes him home for a family Christmas. A lovely story about life delivering some gorgeous surprises just when you think your chances have run out. And you’ll fall in love with Jack Howard just like Meg does.

So that’s my romance round-up. I’ve got a mixture of women’s fiction and mysteries and nonfiction coming next month so make sure you check in.

In the meantime, what were your favorite romances of 2014? I’m always looking for recommendations.

1BanditBootyAnd because I love to share my friends’ books, I’ll give one commenter today their choice from THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT by Kandy Shepherd, REBEL’S BARGAIN by Annie West, or THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE by Vanessa Barneveld. The prize is available internationally. Good luck! 

Kandy Shepherd’s Winners!

BanditBootyThanks so much to everyone for giving Kandy Shepherd such a lovely welcome when she visited yesterday to talk about THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT. Kandy very generously offered three copies of her book as prizes to those who commented and I’m delighted now to announce the winners:

PATTY L.

FEDORA

CATHY P.

Congratulations, girls. You’ll love this one. Can you please contact Kandy on Kandy @ Kandyshepherd.com (no spaces) with details of your snail mail addresses and she’ll get your prizes out to you. Happy reading!

 

Kandy Shepherd’s Unforgettable Summer

Kandy 4I’m so delighted today to bring to the lair my good friend, the lovely Kandy Shepherd.

Kandy and I have shared a long writing journey together. When I plucked up the courage to join my very first writing group, Kandy was a member. I was immediately impressed both with the wonderful stories she wrote and also with her great work ethic. I still am!

Way back in the late 1990s when we met (yes, we ARE going back that far), Kandy was targeting Harlequin Mills and Boon as her preferred publishers. Many years and much writing success later, she’s now released her very first Harlequin Romance THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT.

THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT is gaining some wonderful reviews, including a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews, who said, “Shepherd’s love story is heartfelt and has the potential to reach the hearts of lovers across the globe. The main characters are perfect as a pair and the setting of New South Wales is described so beautifully, readers will almost feel the sand between their toes.”

 Here’s the blurb:

It started with a summer kiss… 

Kandy 3Sandy Adams is on her way to an interview, but when she sees a signpost for Dolphin Bay she decides to take a detour down memory lane…. 

Ben Morgan has had his share of heartache. But when a ghost from his youth catches his eye memories of their last summer together come flooding back. 

Everything has changed in the past twelve years, and still they’re right back where they started, facing a second chance they deserve…together.

You can find out more about Kandy and her books on her website: http://kandyshepherd.com/

Kandy, welcome to the Bandita lair! Congratulations on the release of THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT, your first romance with Harlequin. I’m so excited about this book. Can you tell us about this story?

Thank you, Anna, it’s wonderful to be back in the lair with the wonderful Banditas! I’m particularly excited to be talking about this story with you because you were there (when we both lived in the same city!) when I first thought of the story and wrote the initial chapters. It got put aside while I worked on other books but the characters of Sandy Adam and Ben Morgan in THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT never let go and I always wanted to finish their story.

Kandy 1THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT is a very emotional, deeply romantic story of rekindled love between Sandy and Ben who first fell in love as teenagers. Twelve years go by between their first youthful kiss and the first time they kiss when they meet again. A lot has happened in the interim and Ben, in particular, is scarred—both physically and emotionally. Old hurts, betrayals, misunderstandings and deeply-entrenched barriers guarding their hearts mean these two really have to work for their happy-ever-after ending! I thoroughly enjoyed getting them there. In Romance shorthand, I call it my Beauty and the Beast Reunion Story!

Lovely! I always wanted to see how that story panned out. What were the inspirations behind this book?

Have you ever found yourself wondering about your first love—your lost love—maybe from many years ago? What would it be like to meet him or her again? Would you do things differently if you got a second chance? Would the old spark still be there?

I give Sandy and Ben just that opportunity when they meet up again in the coastal town of Dolphin Bay—the place where they first fell in love on summer vacation. Dolphin Bay is a fictional town but it is inspired by one of my favourite parts of Australia, the south coast of New South Wales about four hours drive from Sydney. There you’ll find quaint towns, beautiful pristine beaches and unspoiled bushland. I have spent many idyllic holidays there and hope to spend more in the future. Sun, surf, white sand, blue skies, freedom—it’s the perfect setting for both Sandy and Ben’s fleeting, youthful romance—and perhaps a more mature love that can last a lifetime.

Kandy 2(Little did I know as I was writing the setting I loved that it fell into the new genre of “coastal romance”!)

What is coming up for Kandy Shepherd?

I’m delighted there will be a return to Dolphin Bay in July 2014 with the release of my second book for Harlequin Mills & Boon, THE TYCOON AND THE WEDDING PLANNER. We meet Kate Parker as a secondary character in THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT and the second book is her story of finding love when she least expects it. It’s another emotional, romantic story that I really loved writing.

You’ve had such an interesting writing career. I’d love you to share your writing journey with us.

Like you, Anna, I always wanted to be a writer—and I was always attracted to romance. I had my first short stories published in women’s magazines when I was age twenty-one. Then I got distracted by a wonderful career in magazines, in both Australia and the UK. But the dream to write fiction never went away and I kept on writing in the time I could squeeze in between work and family commitments. Eventually I was published by Berkley Sensation with my two award-winning romantic comedies LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD and HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. Then I got intrigued by the brave new world of self-publishing and, to my surprise and delight, my sensual romance THE CASTAWAY BRIDE became an Amazon best seller.

kandy 5Way back when I was very first trying to get published, I targeted Harlequin Mills & Boon in London—as many aspiring Australian romance writers did. That dream never went away and I was thrilled when THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT was accepted for the Harlequin Romance line.

Right now I’m concentrating on writing for Harlequin, which I am really enjoying. But I see myself as a “hybrid” writer balancing a career with traditionally published stories and self-published ones.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Persevere, persevere, persevere! Writing with the aim of publication isn’t for the faint-hearted or thin-skinned. Find critique partners you respect and trust—that has been very important for me. That said, you also need to have faith in your own voice and unique ideas. Keep alive the joy of writing—we write because we love it and should never lose sight of that!

Feel-good contemporary romance is definitely the soupe du jour with readers. Have you any thoughts on the rise and rise of this particular element of the romance genre?

I think readers being able to easily recognise and identify with characters, situations and settings has a lot to do with the appeal of contemporary romance. The people seem real, are relevant to everyday life and the settings are familiar.

BanditBootyKandy, do you have a question for the Bandits and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation going?

I love reunion romances and the idea of second chance at love. I also enjoy books set near the water, there’s something so appealing about a coastal or harbor setting. What about you—do you enjoy reunion romance? Do you ever wonder what would happen if you met up with someone from your past? Do you enjoy coastal settings? I have three signed copies of THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT (international) to give away to people leaving a comment.

Wow, that’s very generous, Kandy. Thank you. Get commenting, people!

 

Kandy’s Winners!

Thanks, everyone, for a fabulous day in the lair talking pets and contemporary romance with Kandy Shepherd. Congratulations to our winners:

SHEREE won a signed copy of Kandy’s latest romance HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS!

Johanna won the lovely LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD T-shirt!

Congratulations to you both. Please email Kandy on kandy@kandyshepherd.com with your snail mail details and she’ll get your prizes off to you.

Kandy to Make Us Smile!

by Anna Campbell

It’s my great pleasure to bring back to the lair witty and wonderful Aussie contemporary romance author Kandy Shepherd. Kandy is carving quite a niche for herself in the market with her romantic comedies featuring gorgeous heroes, heroines…and dogs!

Kandy’s latest release is HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS (great title, huh?). Here’s the blurb:

Love, Unleashed.
Former model Serena Oakley will take puppy play-dates over glamorous parties any day, which is one reason why she’s swapped her stilettos for Birkenstocks – and opened Paws-A-While, an upscale doggy day care and spa in San Francisco. When a ruggedly handsome client walks through her doors, clutching a purse-sized Yorki-poo and only barely convincing when it comes to canine credentials, instinct tells her to be wary – despite her instant attraction to him.


Undercover investigator Nick Whalen has followed a series of identity frauds to Serena and is determined to dig up the secrets he’s certain she is hiding. Despite their mutual distrust, Nick and Serena find themselves bonding over an injured, orphaned dog with a serious junk food habit. And soon they’re arousing more than just suspicions.

Nick begins to wonder if one gorgeous, possibly criminal woman and one sad-eyed mutt could show him what he’s been missing out on all his life, while Serena longs to let down her guard. But when Serena’s safety is threatened – and their future together put in jeopardy – the pair must trust in love and loyalty to thwart a danger that’s circling too close to home.

HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is currently available at a really great price on Amazon ($3.89!) – just click on the cover in this blog and it takes you straight there.

For more information on Kandy and her wonderful books, please check out her website.

ANNA: Kandy, welcome back to the lair! The cabana boys have been barking with excitement at the news of your visit! Congratulations on the release of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. By the way, that’s another great title! Can you tell us about this story?

KANDY: Thanks so much, Anna, for having me here, do hope you can keep those cabana boys on the leash until after the interview!

It’s a fun title isn’t it? HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS is a tale of romance, mystery and dogs.

Serena Oakley owns an upscale doggy day care and spa in San Francisco and is suspicious of her hunky new client with his purse-sized Yorki-poo. Serena is right to be wary as Nick Whalen is an undercover PI investigating an identity fraud, and Serena is his prime suspect.

But when Serena’s safety is threatened they have to trust in each other enough to thwart the danger.

Serena is the best friend of the heroine of my first novel LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD.


To help her best friend Maddy out on her magazine, Serena posed semi-nude in a bathtub of chocolate and the photos ended up as an ad campaign. I liked writing Serena and kept thinking about her after I typed “The End”. I wondered how that kind of publicity would affect her. Then when I was visiting San Francisco, I drove past a new doggy day care center. What a great job for a dog nut like Serena! What if I wrote Serena her own book where she had given up modeling and owned her own upscale doggy day-care? And what if I created a gorgeous hero who was scathing about the idea of pooch pampering? I fell totally in love with former FBI agent Nick Whalen when I was writing him. I had an image of James Bond actor Daniel Craig in mind when I first created Nick but, as is the way with fictional characters, he soon developed into his own individual person.

There’s a cast of quirky canine supporting characters too, of course. The “hero” dog is a very big, very sad rescue dog named Mack. Brutus the millionaire mutt from LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD also “guest stars”.(BTW, Anna, important as my doggy characters are, I never lose sight of the fact that they are secondary characters in my stories. I’m careful that they don’t distract from the developing romance between the hero and the heroine. But the reactions of the human characters to the animals can give great insight into the human’s personality—I have a lot of fun with that!)

ANNA: Yes, you always include such wonderful animal characters in your stories. Will you tell us a little bit about the real-life pets that inspired the four-legged participants in HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS?

KANDY: I’ve had dogs and cats since I was a small child. As a writer, I’m a “people watcher” but I’m also an animal watcher and have borrowed aspects from many of the dogs I’ve met over the years to help create my fictional canines. The kernel of Mack came from my friend Melinda’s dog Mate who lives in far northern California. Mate is a large, friendly mixed-breed dog who thinks he’s still a tiny puppy. Seeing this outsized animal trying to snuggle onto her lap is quite a laugh-out-loud sight! (I borrowed that sight for a scene with Serena.)

Mack grew further in my imagination after Melinda and I took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Ashland, Oregon for the annual Shakespeare Festival. In a gift shop we encountered the most enormous black dog I have ever seen. This gentle giant was sweet natured and graciously allowed my friend and I to pet him. But I noticed other people in the store skirt around him, obviously nervous. That got me thinking further about a dog with a lot to give that maybe no-one wanted.

A few favorite dogs have been “borrowed” for supporting roles in BARK including a beautiful, very old golden lab named Freya who belonged to historical author Isolde Martyn. Coco, the miniature black poodle, is a canine character in both my books.

After the first book was written, I met Lily my new neighbor’s poodle and knew I had met the real-life Coco so Lily became an influence on how I wrote Coco in BARK.

ANNA: We hosted you in the lair last year when your brilliant debut LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD hit the stands. As someone who’s been published now for around eighteen months, I wondered if there was anything you wished you’d known before you sold that you definitely know now.

KANDY: I think being published gives you a greater confidence when you write. Knowing people—total strangers, not your friends and family!—read your books and love them enough to write to you and tell you, gives you a boost of faith in your own ability that I certainly struggled with as an unpublished writer.

ANNA: What else has been happening in Kandy Shepherd’s world since we last hosted you in July 2009?

KANDY: Visits to the Romance Writers of America conference in Washington DC and Orlando were very exciting and gave me an opportunity to meet many of the Banditas and visitors to the Lair face to face—that was a real thrill!

Organizing the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference with author Cathleen Ross in August this year was a major commitment but a wonderful experience. As an organizer you get to schmooze with the guest editors, agents and authors—how good is that!

ANNA: Not so long ago, the word around Romancelandia was that the contemporary was dead. Since then I’ve noticed a real upsurge in contemporaries. Yours, of course, but also books from great writers like Robyn Carr, Kristan Higgins and Victoria Dahl. What do you think makes for the longstanding appeal of the contemporary romance?

KANDY: While I love historicals—especially yours of course!—my bookshelves are also packed with contemporary romance and women’s fiction. I wonder if the appeal of the contemporary is that they are more a reflection of real life and readers can identify with the characters and the settings. Those wonderful authors you mention write warm-hearted stories with characters who face current dilemmas and win through. My readers tell me they enjoy a laugh and an escape into something not too heavy. Of course the best of contemporaries have the potential to stand the test of time so well, they become historicals. Look at Jane Austen!

ANNA: Hey, thanks for that lovely compliment! What’s coming up next for you?

KANDY: I’m working on a third, linked book with a “doggy focus” featuring one of the characters from HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS and hope to have some good news to share soon.

ANNA: Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

KANDY: Be sure to nurture your own “voice” and be true to your own vision.

That said, try not to fall in love with your own words. Be prepared to slash, rewrite and hone until your work is as good as it can be. Find critique partners you respect and be prepared to listen to them, while at the same time retaining confidence in your own voice.

Anna, I would love to give away some prizes to Bandits readers. While I love dogs, I also have cats, horses and even miniature bulls who I adore. I’m constantly amazed at how different their personalities are.

Do you know a dog (or cat, or any other animal) with a memorable personality?

Please leave a comment for a chance to win one of two prizes—a signed copy of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS and a LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD T-shirt.

Thanks, Kandy, lovely answers and they’re great prizes! Good luck, everyone!

Coming Attractions for November!


by Anna Campbell

Wow, November is rockin’ in the lair! We’ve shipped in extra cabana boys to cope with the extra strain on the bar!

We’ve got guests and giveaways galore and not one, but TWO infamous launch parties (yeah, you can see why we need extra staff!).

And don’t forget, if you click on any of the covers, you go straight to Amazon!

First cab off the rank (such an elegant cab – clearly a Jaguar!) is fabulous historical romance author Sarah MacLean who will be my guest on Tuesday, 2nd November.

Sarah burst onto the historical romance scene this year with her fantabulous NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE. She’s visiting us to talk about her November book TEN WAYS TO BE ADORED WHEN LANDING A LORD. Love the titles, Sarah!

Sarah is a load of fun (and she’s doing a giveaway) so don’t miss her visit.

On November 3rd, Jessica Andersen returns as the newest installment in the Nightkeepers saga launches. BLOOD SPELLS is Patience and Brandt’s story. In their honor, Jessica will discuss “After the HEA” with us. She may also have a Big Surprise for us.



On 4th November, Caridad Pineiro visits the Banditas to celebrate the publication of her 25th release – STRONGER THAN SIN from Grand Central Publishing. This is the second in Caridad’s Sin series. We like a bit of sin in the lair so that should be huge fun!



On Friday, 5th November, a dear friend of mine Emily May (who also writes brilliant fantasy romance as Emily Gee) will be here to talk about her latest Regency romance, THE UNMASKING OF A LADY. Emily is coming to the lair all the way from New Zealand and she’ll be talking about her two identities and giving away a signed copy of her book.


On 9th November, Nancy will host Julie Kenner/J.K. Beck in the lair. Julie is here to talk about her latest series of vampire romances, WHEN BLOOD CALLS, WHEN PLEASURE RULES and especially her latest release WHEN WICKED CRAVES. Sounds like something the Banditas and their Buddies can get their teeth into! Oh, I do love the chance for a good meaty vampire joke!

On November 11th we have the lovely Donna Grant talking to us about her fabulous, pulse-pounding paranormal Scottish historical Dark Sword series. Her latest release is WICKED HIGHLANDER – ooh, I can see myself being wicked with him!


Aussie contemporary romance author Kandy Shepherd returns to the lair on Tuesday, 16th November, to talk about her wonderful new book HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. People who loved LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD will adore this story about an FBI agent who gets involved unwillingly in a doggy daycare center. Kandy will be doing a giveaway!

On the 20th November, we have the first of our Bandita launches for the month. RITA winner and one of my favorite authors Beth Andrews lets her latest release A MARINE FOR CHRISTMAS loose in the lair. Swing by for mayhem and margaritas.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s a wonderful life…?

Growing up in her perfect sister’s shadow wasn’t easy. Especially because JC Montgomery had been in love with Liz’s boyfriend for as long as she could remember. Brady Sheppard, a a guy who thought of her as only the kid sister. But that all changed when Liz married somebody else and Brady ended up in bed with JC! It was like a dream come true.


Except now JC’s pregnant. And Brady’s a wounded marine, so it’s going to be difficult for him to get down on one knee and tell her she’s his reason for living…But he will. Because she still believes in Santa Claus.

For 21st November we have a delicious treat for all you historical lovers. Delightful debut author Kieran Kramer is chatting with us about her Impossible Bachelor series. WHEN HARRY MET MOLLY, the first instalment in the series, hits the shelves this month.


To finish the month (11/30), we have another fabulous Bandita release to celebrate (oh, my poor aching cabana boys!). Tawny Weber‘s novella A BABE IN TOYLAND is out from Blaze in an anthology called IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE MISTLETOE… (Yeah, right!).

Here’s the blurb:

They’re going to have a hot, hot Christmas…

The weather outside might be frightful—
but the Cole sisters are indulging in
something quite delightful…

Rita Mae Cole and Tyler Ramsey hail from feuding
families. Be together? Impossible. But the incredible
sex between them says otherwise….


After the huge success of my last contest where I gave away a pile of signed books, I’m doing it all again in my latest website contest. The question is really easy. Other than English, please name three languages in which my books are available. You might just find the answer on this page of my website. I’ll choose TWO winners at random and those lucky entrants will receive signed copies of:

MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by Anna Campbell
DARK AND DEADLY by Jeanne Adams
NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE by Sarah MacLean
THE WICKED MARQUIS by Miranda Neville
PROOF BY SEDUCTION by Courtney Milan
Either WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON or THE DUKE AND I by Julia Quinn

Good luck! The contest closes 30th November, 2010. Email your answers to anna@annacampbell.info For more information, please visit my contest page.

Kandy Shepherd’s Winner!

Thanks for everyone who made my friend Kandy Shepherd’s visit to the lair yesterday such a hoot. Or perhaps I should say a woof! Kandy was blown away by her welcome.

It’s now my great pleasure to announce the winner of the signed copy of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD:

Jessica Scott!

Congratulations, Jessica! You’ll love this book. Please email Kandy on kandy@kandyshepherd.com with your snail mail details and she’ll send your prize.

Debut Author Kandy Shepherd in the Lair!

by Anna Campbell

I’m utterly delighted to introduce one of my dearest friends, Kandy Shepherd, to the lair. Kandy and I met through the Turramurra Romance Writers’ Group in Sydney many years ago and I’ve never ceased to be in awe of her talent, her work ethic and her wonderful sense of humor.

LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD, her debut romantic comedy from Berkley, hits the shelves on 7th July. LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is a sparkling tale of a millionaire mutt and the two lovely people he brings together to find true love. You’ll absolutely adore it!

You can find out more about Kandy and her books at her website:

http://www.kandyshepherd.com/

Kandy, huge congratulations on the release of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. Can you tell us about this story?

Hi, Anna. Thank you for inviting me to the lair. Set in San Francisco, LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD is a humorous romance about Brutus, a little mutt who inherits a big fortune, and the people he brings together – quirky chef Maddy Cartwright who, much to her surprise, is appointed guardian of the mutt and his millions, and ambitious lawyer Tom O’Brien who suspects her of being a gold digger. You’ve read the book, Anna, and said it reminds you of those screwball romantic comedy movies of the 1930s and 40s. I take that as a big compliment. The book was such fun to write.

Oh, it’s definitely got a touch of that Capra magic, Kandy. Your writing journey is so inspiring and spells persistence, persistence, persistence. Can you please tell us about your road to publication?

I had beginner’s luck when the first short story I ever submitted was accepted and published in a teen magazine. Several more short stories were published in women’s magazines but then I got a rejection and gave up. The writer’s ego is notoriously fragile and I took that as a sign that I didn’t have a future as a writer.

Luckily, I had another love to follow – working first as a journalist and then an editor on women’s magazines. A fantastic career followed. But that creative urge never went away. I realized that although I loved every minute of my magazine life, the need to write was like an addiction and it wouldn’t be satisfied with non-fiction feature stories. I started to write again in the time I could snatch between the “day job” and the joys and duties of family life (that was mainly very late at night). More short stories were published, which gave my confidence a real boost, and then a category length romance with a now-defunct Australian publisher. Then nothing for several years except rejection after rejection.

There was a lot of soul searching where I wondered if I was wasting my time. But I honestly don’t think a story-teller can give up, even when it would be so much easier to do so. And I was lucky to have my good romance writer friends – including you! – who would not let me stop submitting.

Hey, we knew that you were something special, my friend! Here in the lair, we love call stories. Can you give us yours?

I could not get an agent interested in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD so I bravely sent it off myself to Berkley (you know what they say about the odds of being picked up from the “slush pile” of a major New York publisher). Nearly 18 months later I got “the call” (well, it was actually an email). I had been away for the weekend. On Sunday evening when I got home I checked my email. There was an email from Allison Brandau at Berkley making me an offer of publication. I was jumping around the room with my teenage daughter, so excited I was scarcely coherent. However, when Allison called in the morning I managed to have a sensible conversation with her!

LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD features a couple of really strong animal personalities (no, not just the bad guy Jerome), especially Brutus the Millionaire Mutt. Can you tell us about your own animal companions?

I adore animals and they sneak their way into everything I write. Currently we have in the family one dog, three cats, four horses, nine hens and two miniature bulls who are the cutest things. Visit the pet gallery on my website to “meet” them all. Until last week I had four cats but I lost my darling Kira after eighteen years and am still devastated. She always sat on my lap when I wrote and I miss her terribly. I had a lot of fun writing Brutus who has characteristics of many dogs I have known over the years. He is a purely fictional dog but I borrowed his name from my neighbor’s dog, a feisty little terrier. My dream dog is a border collie but up until now we haven’t had the room for such an energetic breed.

Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Kira, Kandy. We love our animal companions so much, don’t we?

Maddy, the heroine, is a wannabe TV chef and food plays a major part in the story. What are some of your favorite recipes?
I plead guilty to a very sweet tooth. Although I have many savory dishes in my repertoire I love baking the most – cakes, cookies, pies, muffins. I am putting the recipes featured in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD on my website. Maddy’s Triple Chocolate Brownie is a real favorite in my family and the recipe is on the website now. (Don’t even think about the calorie count!) If you’re going to be at the RWA convention in Washington DC please visit me at the literacy signing – I’ll be giving away samples of those totally decadent treats!

If you have a dog, check out the recipe for Brutus’s favorite pupcakes. In the book, Maddy makes healthy gourmet treats for dogs. Of course I, as the author, had to create the recipe to put on the website! The pupcakes were a real hit with the dogs who “taste tested” them for me.

You run a critique service for writers with Harlequin author Cathleen Ross. (Queries to Kandy at kandy@kandyshepherd.com)
I’d be really interested to know some common problems in manuscripts you receive.

I spoke to Cathleen and we agreed that the most common problem we see is lack of strong, believable conflict, enough to keep a hero and heroine apart for the length of a book. We see that over and over again. Another problem we encounter is viewpoint. Some people have trouble making it clear which character’s head they are in. But didn’t we all have problems of some kind or another when we were starting out? I cringe when I think of some of my early efforts!

Thanks, Kandy. That’s really interesting. What’s next for Kandy Shepherd, author extraordinaire?

I am working on my next book for Berkley. Its working title is HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS and it takes up the story of Serena, Maddy’s best friend in LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD. I have created a wonderful hero for Serena in this book and am really enjoying writing their story. Brutus, the millionaire mutt, makes a reappearance in this book along with some other endearing canine characters.

Kandy, I can’t wait for HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. By the way, I adore your titles! Is there anything you’d like to ask the Banditas and Bandita Buddies to get the conversation rolling?

Brutus is as important a character in my novel as the humans. I love books or movies with animals in them. A book with a dog or cat on the cover is an automatic buy! (I bought SAVE THE CAT for the cover, not even realizing what kind of (invaluable!) book it was. My favorite movie when I was a kid was OLD YELLER, “the best doggone dog in the west”. I still remember the intense grief I felt the first time I saw it, but that didn’t stop me watching OLD YELLER every time it came on TV.

Is there an animal character who sticks in your mind, from a book, movie, TV show?

Kandy has very generously offered a signed copy of LOVE IS A FOUR-LEGGED WORD to one lucky commenter today. Good luck!