Posts tagged with: Kick Start

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!

Ripped From Real Life

People who know I write and know me in some other role—friend, co-worker, etc.—tend to believe that all my heroines are…well…me. I understand why they would think that, especially when my heroine appears to have quite a lot in common with me.

Kick StartFor instance, Linda (the heroine in Kick Start) has a lot in common with me. She’s from the same hometown I’m from. She shares my taste in music. She has kids of the same gender and relative ages of my own children. She lives in a town quite similar to the one I live in (or the way it was about 20 years ago). She attends a similar sort of church and her kids are involved in many of the same activities mine were at those ages. That’s not because Linda is me, however. That’s because I was using what I knew at the time I wrote the book. Poor Linda is actually not really much like me at all, though, once you scratch the surface. She married a good ole boy, while I would have none of that. She was a stay-at-home mom, whereas the very thought of such gave me the willies. I can see how people might think she is me, but I hope they see the differences between us.

I have been editing the next book in my Cross Springs series, Tiara Wars, this week. I noticed that the heroine of that book, Katie, also has a few things in common with me. Less of it is surface stuff, though. Superficially, Katie and I could not be more different. She was raised a politician’s daughter and a queen of the pageant circuit. She went to cotillion and always knows what to say and do in any social situation. Like I said, we could not be more different! And yet…when I got to the really meaty part of the story, the part where she has to come to grips with who and what she really is, I realized that Katie and I shared a deep and profound commonality. Deep down, Katie learns she enjoys being admired and she enjoys being in charge. She likes competition and she likes winning. That rang true to me when I wrote it and true when I read it this week. Katie and I are not alike, but she has aspects of me deep inside her.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00004]Which made me reflect that, in all honesty, ALL my characters have aspects of me. Or at least of someone I know really well. How could they not? In order to write a character, you really have to get inside her or his head. The only way I can see people is through the filter of my own experience. So, in essence, all characters are kind-of, sort-of, a little bit like me (or someone I know and love dearly). I also found that in writing male characters, I tend to give them aspects of my husband or father or brother or son. Again, we write what we know. Oh, and all those mean girls and awful neighbors and things? Yes, I know those people, too. 😀

So this week, my only profound thought has been that the old “write what you know” really is the best advice anyone can give a writer. Only sometimes, what you know is buried in layers of what seems like fun and what other people are like and what you just saw on TV last week or on vacation last year. Just know that whenever you are reading a really well-developed character wrestling with deep issues, there may just be a little bit of reality in there somewhere. Only the writer will ever know, though, which parts are real and which are the products of an incredibly overactive imagination.

JDRobbOne of my favorite games is guessing which heroine in  a romance author’s bibliography is most like her. I think Nora Roberts is probably more like Eve Dallas (in her J.D. Robb ‘In Death’ series) than any of her other heroines. So play my game with me. Tell me a favorite romance writer of yours and which of her heroines you think is most like her. Don’t be afraid to call out a Romance Bandit author, either. Everyone is fair game and it’s open season! 🙂 

Oh, and I meant to tell you that KICK START will be available as a print book very soon. So, one lucky commenter will get a print copy of KICK START!

Release Party! LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL, or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Londons-Last-True-ScoundrelBrown-220x361 (1)Hellooo Banditas and Buddies! I’m so pleased to announce that LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL is out and my unrepentant bad boy the Earl of Davenport is unleashed upon the public.

If you are a friend of mine on facebook, you might have noticed I’ve been posting quotes from this book periodically. You might be able to tell I had a LOT of fun writing the battle of the sexes interplay between my straitlaced, no nonsense heroine and my charming rogue. Here’s the blurb:


Physically reckless, irrepressibly roguish and poised on the brink of ruin, Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport, returns from the dead only to throw himself into dissipation. Until he meets his worst nightmare: a straitlaced former schoolteacher he can’t get out of his head. He resolves to seduce the delightful Miss Hilary deVere by fair means or foul. But when his past returns to endanger Hilary, he must protect her at all costs…


Dismissed from her post at a ladies’ academy because of prejudice against her uncouth family, Hilary will do anything to avoid going back to live with her loutish brothers. She longs for a London season to show the world a deVere can behave with utmost decorum and find a respectable husband. Everything about Lord Davenport appalls her but desperation makes strange bedfellows. To get to London, Hilary strikes a bargain with the devilish Davenport, confident that she’s immune to his charm. But as she discovers surprising depths beneath his rakish surface, this infamous scoundrel becomes more temptation than even the most proper lady can withstand…

You can read excerpts here.

PantsToday there’s a serious theme to our release party. We’re talking about pants.

Some of you may know that the hero on my cover (modeled by His Hotness, Paul Marron) couldn’t quite decide what colour pants to wear. At first he tried buff. Unfortunately, my publisher thought he looked like he was IN the buff and sent the cover back to the drawing board.

pants-daniel-craig-560Then they tried pale blue. Ahem. Let’s just say The Author didn’t think the colour accurately reflected her hero’s um, personality. Although I must say, if it works for Daniel Craig…

We ended with a good compromise in dark brown.

So in honour of my hero’s pants, and the most satisfying way he manages to fill them out, I asked the Banditas (many of whom are self-confessed “pantsers”) for pants quotes from their books. I was delighted with the response:

PantsThis is from Caren Crane’s KICK START, where the heroine, Linda, and her soon-to-be younger man love interest, Jack, have shown up for the first day of class and Linda is ruminating on apparel:

Today, he wore jeans with holes in both knees and a concert t-shirt from ten years ago. He looked a bit too old for such youthful fashion bravado. Of course, today I wore jeans older than my college-age son, and a tight pink t-shirt that didn’t quite meet my waistband, so I couldn’t throw stones.

And a tssssmokin’ excerpt from Joan Kayse’s BARBARIAN’S SOUL: They are confronting each other in the house’s bath. She’s in the water and he is coming in….

Bran gave no response, only watched her, his features blank save for those green eyes which glittered with a dark emotion she could not define. Her instinct to flee from danger flared hotter. Still holding her gaze, he lifted his left hand and pulled the string at his hip. The piece of linen dropped to the floor.

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena 2011; GalleryLove this fun offering from a contemporary romance our Donna MacMeans wrote as Donna Richards, IN A HEARTBEAT. Donna says, “my heroine, Angela, is walking her dog off-leash in a section of a woods that she thinks is empty. Her dog, Oreo, races again and she hears a human cry of alarm.

“What in the– Oreo!”

Angela’s foot caught in the low branch of a bush, propelling her forward, head first into a blur of flannel.

She landed face down in a strange man’s crotch.

“Don’t move!” A strained voice, forced and breathless, warned. Taut denim brushed the humiliating heat of her cheeks. She breathed the deep, musky scent of the man’s most intimate parts. Oreo would be proud, she thought with a shudder.

Antonia is certainly a take charge woman in this tidbit from Anna Campbell’s MIDNIGHT’S WILD PASSION: “Take off your trousers,” Antonia said in a voice harsh with control. She expected Ranelaw to object to her commands. But he immediately rose from the bed, tugging off his shoes with more haste than grace before shedding his trousers.

From Anna Sugden: “Here’s an excerpt from A PERFECT DISTRACTION. (Christina: Can’t wait for this book!) This is the first time our heroine, Maggie, sees Jake ‘Bad Boy’ Badoletti .

pants henry_cavillSquare-jawed and rugged, with piercing, ice-blue eyes and a crooked grin. He was clearly a warrior of the ice, but his broken nose and scars somehow added to his appeal and made him more intriguing. Unlike the hulking bodies of the thick-necks, Jake had the firm, solid lines of an athlete in peak condition. Lean, corded muscle shaped the snug-fitting black shirt and faded jeans. Exciting and enticing, he brimmed with charm and hints of danger.

From Nancy Northcott’s fabulous RENEGADE:

Suddenly conscious that she wore only bandages and his shirt, Val crouched beside Dare. His glance skimmed her bare legs, and the heat in it made her breath hitch.

He grinned despite the shivers he was probably trying to hide. “I like the new take on combat gear.”

“Your pants would’ve made the wrong fashion statement. Besides, I was in a hurry.”

Don’t forget to go out right now and buy Nancy’s new book, GUARDIAN!


He really ought to take his wet shirt off, she thought, then blushed as the desire rose in her to see those wondrously muscled shoulders again. This time, not covered in plaster dust. This time, slathered in golden licks of firelight.

His evening trousers were mostly dry. Of course, thinking of his trousers led to thinking of his buttocks, and the tester bed upstairs, and all that pink–

BanditBootyWhat about you? What sort of pants do you like best on a hero? Do you have a favourite part of a book or movie that involves pants or a wardrobe malfunction? (I’m thinking granny pants in Bridget Jones’ Diary) Who do you think fills out a pair of pants nicely? I’m giving away a signed copy of LONDON’S LAST TRUE SCOUNDREL to one lucky reader today!

Kick Start Winner!

Sorry it took me so long to post my winner from Monday, but it’s been a hectic week! The winner of a download of my debut novel Kick Start is….

BanditBootyCATHY P!!!

CathyP, just send me an e-mail at carencrane AT gmail DOT com and let me know what e-book format you prefer. Congratulations! 

Caren’s Birthday Book Launch Bash!

Hi, everyone. Joan usually blogs on the 13th of the month, but she let me take over the blog for today. Today is my birthday AND I am officially launching my debut published novel, Kick Start! Sven was up late preparing his traditional Swedish meatballs, vats of potato and pasta salad, delicate cucumber sandwiches on pumpernickel with fresh dill and a host of other savory options. On the sweet side we have cream puffs, triple-chocolate butter cookies and, of course, birthday cake!

sven_cropped-1Damon is behind the bar and Paolo is serving. I know Paolo’s a bit clumsy, but he’s so cute when he apologizes for spilling a mojito down one’s cleavage! Maybe this time he’ll keep all the drinks inside the glasses. We’ll have to see about that. (Damon did make sure the absinthe was locked up tight so Paolo won’t be slipping any of that into any glasses this time, either. Ahem!) Make yourselves at home, load up a plate and wrap your fingers around a frosty glass. It is time to party!


Now that everyone’s mouth is full and there’s a very tiny lull in the conversation, I’ll segue into the second part of today’s celebration. My debut book launch! I am very happy to announce that Kick Start is available in all e-book forms (links below) for your reading pleasure. Kick Start was the book that finaled in RWA’s 2006 Golden Heart contest—the one that brought us Romance Bandits together! Kick Start was not the first book I wrote. I think it was the fifth. (Believe it or not, I have forgotten some of my early books. I counted the other day and thought my total was 7, but I think it’s actually 9). I had done a lot of writing and learning about writing by the time I began Kick Start. I wrote it in 7 weeks in the summer of 2005, when I was laid off from work but still collecting severance pay. The book was fast, funny, easy and a pleasure from beginning to end.

Kick Start for Barnes and NobleFast forward to 2006, when it finaled in the Golden Heart. It had been edited quite a bit by then, but the story pretty much remained intact. It piqued interest at Harlequin, but they ultimately passed on it. By 2007, I had changed the location of my town from Georgia (where you can get a quickie divorce) to North Carolina (where you can’t, but which I knew much better). Changing the location changed the timeline of the story and lots of story elements and locations. By the time I finished revising it, I was kind of sick to death of it. I had moved on and written another book in the Cross Springs series and was working on the third.

RWA pictures 062And then Life Happened. My husband was once again laid off, I was working full-time and our darling back-to-back daughters were at that incredibly needful stage of high school. Keeping our family afloat and checking things off my To Do list were about all I could handle. For THREE YEARS. Last fall, the baby went to college. Long about September, my dear friend Deb Marlowe started poking me. She wanted to know when I was going to publish a book. You know, one of the 9 I had already written. I thought about it and learned about self-publishing…and then dawdled and dragged my feet. I kept pretending not to hear Deb’s increasingly sharp and pointed probes until she flung down the gauntlet as we celebrated her birthday at the beginning of March. It was time. Now, as we celebrate my birthday, I give Deb the credit for kick starting my publishing career. (That’s a picture of us at an RWA conference many years ago.) Here’s a blurb:

When life stalls right in the middle of the journey, sometimes all it needs is a Kick Start

Linda Dowling’s husband traded her in for a younger model, and she clung to the only life and home her kids knew. Easiest thing by far when her heart was broken and her small town was filled with folks who commonly mistook their neighbor’s concerns for their own. But even in Cross Springs, NC, time moves on and heals the most grievous of wounds. Linda shakes things up, goes back to school and—gasp!—starts to date a younger man.

Suddenly everyone in Cross Springs has something to say about her life—and Linda is faced with hard choices. She has tried for years to live up to the expectations of Cross Springs’ society, but now she is remembering the girl she used to be, back before motherhood and self-doubt robbed her of her self-esteem. Should she bow to comfortable roles and old expectations? Or should she give herself a Kick Start and pursue the kind of love she never thought she would find?

Here’s a link to the excerpt on my website. Actually, it’s the entire first chapter! Hopefully, you’ll be intrigued and entertained and want to read more. 😀 In case you do, here are some links where you can find the book in the e-format of your choice. It is also available on Amazon sites around the world. Or it should be. I haven’t quite figured out how to check all those things yet.

Treat Yo SelfAvailable for Kindle –

Available for Nook from Barnes & Noble –

Available at SmashWords –

As a special present from me to you, I would love to gift one commenter with a copy of Kick Start in the e-book format of your choice. To get in the drawing, please tell me what your ultimate birthday gift to yourself would be (if time, money and reality were not issues and you could Treat. Yo. Self! :D). I gave myself a published book, so anything goes!