USA Today Best of 2012

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Due date, shmoo date.

14 years ago today, I was pissed.

And very large.

November 30th was my due date when I was pregnant with my daughter. The doctor and both midwives had been telling me for weeks they thought she'd arrive early--she'd dropped more than a month before and I was simply, massively, uncomfortable. But on D-day... nothing. The doctors were planning stress tests if I didn't deliver soon, but no significant contractions that Sunday.

My SIL was also due November 30th last year, with a girl. And guess what? No baby. (in fact, she delivered on the same date I did... which is a story for another day) So for any women out there who are prego and "due" today, I'm feelin' for ya. Really. Hang in there. :)

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review: Beneath the Surface

Beneath the Surface (available in print or ebook) is by one of the authors on my Lyrical Press editing roster, MJ Fredrick. I love the books I've edited for her, and I loved Midnight Sun, so I also bought this one, expecting I'd enjoy it.

And she didn't disappoint. The main characters are archaeologists--divorced archaeologists. Well, working on being divorced, as she has gone to his dig to make him sign the papers, because she's engaged and soon to be married.

Any romance reader knows where this is going. Yeah, there's still a flame burning, and it's quite hot. The pain between the H and h is very intense, very real, and made me root for them to patch things up. I loved all the sassy give and take between characters, as well as the "doctor" both H and h are emotionally attached to. And what would an archaeological dig be, without betrayal, thievery, and murder? The suspense kept me wondering up til the last few pages. (In fact, if I was that kind of mystery reader, I'd have been trying to guess how things would turn out. Sadly, I'm along for the ride in a mystery and never try to put the clues together--I'm a mystery "sheep".) Nicely done!

I will add, a couple of the scary underwater scenes made me feel totally claustrophobic, but that could be the author's skill or from my personal experience this summer, attempting SCUBA.

I'd rate Beneath the Surface a Nice Bang for Your Entertainment Buck. Well worth your time and money. Pass it on to someone who'll enjoy it and keep the author on your radar.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!

Next on the nightstand: Vision in White, Book 1 of the Bride Quartet,by Nora Roberts

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Latitude, part 2

In the spirit of the holiday, more things I'm grateful for:

  • Washing machines, dishwashers, and blow dryers.
  • Studded snow tires
  • Burt's Bees...everything, L'Oreal, and tweezers
  • My son has managed to learn to drive, sans accidents.
  • The sound of teenage boys totally cracking up. (Impossible to keep a straight face when you hear it.)
  • Our 2 pain-in-the-butt cats. No, seriously, Hercules is so sweet and patient, and Einstein is such an entertaining dumbass...they bring us a lot of joy.
  • Oxiclean and microfiber cleaning cloths
  • Black Ice car fresheners
  • Enrique Iglesias and George Strait
  • Mark Valley, Scott Caan, Bradley Cooper, George Clooney, and Irish accents
  • TMZ, 2 1/2 Men, and Raising Hope--for belly laughs.
  • The Mentalist and House--for entertaining manipulation
Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In the Gratitude Latitude

I've been inspired this month, by friends who post something they're grateful for, every day on Facebook, commercials on the radio, etc.

So. I can definitely name some things I'm grateful for (in no particular order of importance):

  • I'm grateful for my 2 goofy, healthy, well-behaved, smarty-pants teenagers and all the things they do to make me proud.
  • I'm grateful for my hard working, tenacious husband, who's managed to make his business a success and provide for us all, despite the tanked economy.
  • I'm grateful the aforementioned husband dogs me nightly to go walking with him, even when I piss and whine about the cold or being tired or how hard it is to lose weight or the wind or whatever myriad complaints I come up with.
  • I'm grateful for the 16 fantabulous authors currently on my roster, who trust me with their literary "babies".
  • I'm also grateful to Renee Rocco, for trusting me to help her run her "baby", Lyrical Press. Seems like I learn something every week at this job... ;)
  • I'm grateful for my job as a teacher stunt double, where I get to hang with the future grown-ups of the world...and I'm thankful at the end of each day at that job, that the kiddos are cool to me.
  • Every month when I get my royalty statements, I'm grateful for each and every reader who decides to buy one or more of my books, out of all the bajillions of novels out there.
  • I'm still grateful for my group of critique partners, who may all be many states or countries away, but can still brighten my day just by checking in or sharing a snarky thought. Many people scoff at the idea of internet friendships, but they really can be fulfilling.
  • I'm grateful for my forever writing companion, Red Bull. My winged beverage friend can't beta read or critique, but sure keeps me inspired and alert.
That'll do for today. More tomorrow...

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tidings of Fear

Another book from my editing roster released today, just in time for the holidays...and I really love this title.

Ericka Scott writes a wide range of genres, and excels at suspense/mystery. Tidings of Fear has a romantic thread, too (with a theme I love--second chances). She weaves a suspenseful story, leaving the reader guessing the outcome to the last minute--and not just whether the lead characters will have a romantic ending, but whether they'll survive the ordeal.

A bit of info:

A psychic, a skeptic, and a serial killer...

Psychic Lia Morgan sees portents all around her. Although estranged from her family, she joins the search for her missing sister. A simple case gets complicated fast when she discovers her sister's plethora of secrets includes a son.

Professor Jared Trimble's world has no room for paranormal mumbo-jumbo. When asked to consult on a case involving a series of crossword puzzles, he's conflicted. Is he a suspect, or an investigator?

While Lia uses her physic gift and follows signs a, Jared uses his wits and experience. When the two collide, passions flare and the final clue brings them both into the bull's-eye of a serial killer's target.

Jared put his hand on Lia’s shoulder. Its warmth seemed the only heat in the room.
The officer put his pen down and looked at her with narrowed eyes and a grim expression. She shivered.
“No, I’m sorry we haven’t had a chance to call you. Do you know where Sylvie’s partner Margaret is?”
Confused, Lia shook her head. “I tried to call her earlier.”
“Please call her again.”
“Sure.” Lia pulled her phone out and punched in Margaret’s phone number.
“Put it on speaker, please.” The officer snapped.
The call went straight to voice mail.
“Then it’s not only our calls she’s avoiding,” he murmured.
“We don’t understand.” Jared said. “Has there been a new lead?”
The officer’s expression darkened, and Lia felt her eyes well up with tears. Oh God, Sylvie was dead.
“Then, why--” Lia began.
“We have reason to believe your sister voluntarily disappeared with her son to avoid appearing in court.”
“She didn’t tell you?”
Lia pursed her lips. “I already told one of your officers that I haven’t had contact with my sister for seven years. Honestly, I didn’t even know she’d had a baby.”
“Well, seems the father of the child is suing for custody.”
“Custody?” Lia felt stupid echoing back the officer’s words, but she didn’t know what else to say. She’d assumed that the baby had been the result of in vitro fertilization, or whatever method of conception most gay couples used.
“Yes, she and Deion were to appear in order to obtain a DNA sample to prove Mr. Kyle Creswell’s paternity.”
Lia’s mind went numb.
“We suspect your sister disappeared voluntarily to avoid that event. It’s doubly suspicious that her partner is also missing.”
Lia swallowed, hard.
“You think this is a staged disappearance. A hoax?” Jared stated.
“Yes, we do.”
“Oh my,” was all Lia could say. Could Sylvie have simply run away, leaving everything--her house, car, business and valuables--behind? It didn’t seem like something her sister would do, but did she really know Sylvie anymore?
“We can no longer dedicate men and resources to investigating the disappearance. Unless new information comes in, we really have no choice but to close the case.”
“I see,” Lia said, her voice sounding small and unsure to her own ears.
“But what if she didn’t disappear voluntarily?” Jared asked.
The officer’s gaze softened a bit. “I’m sorry. I know this must be difficult for you, especially since you traveled all this way.”
Lia started to stand, but Jared’s hand held her down. He didn’t seem ready to admit defeat. “If we turn up something that indicates she didn’t disappear of her own accord--”
“Then, by all means, give us a call. But honestly, I don’t think that evidence exists.”
At that moment, the lights in the station flickered and went out.
The officer cursed. “Stay here, and I’ll go see if one of those damned reporters plugged too many cameras in out front and blew a fuse.”
Then, just as suddenly as they went out, the lights came back on. Lia’s eyes were drawn to the alarm clock sitting on the officer’s credenza. The time flashed on and off. The clock displayed all eights.
Lia shivered. She didn’t have an ounce of evidence to support her belief that Sylvie hadn’t disappeared voluntarily, she simply knew. If the police weren’t going to be out looking for her, that meant she had to find Sylvie.
As if reading her mind, Jared bent over, and murmured softly, “Don’t worry, we’ll find her.”
She wished she could be so sure.

Tidings of Fear is on sale at Lyrical Press all this week, for $3.15

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hiding out

...I accepted a subbing assignment at the high school today, and didn't manage to blog before leaving home.

Should be ready to post my review for How to Write Hot Sex, next week... some very informative articles in the anthology.

And with that I'm off, lunch is almost over and I'm having a fantastic day with "big kids". (They're almost like real people!)

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where the Private Things Are

I've noticed an alarming trend in social networking, and perhaps this topic has been covered in Twitter for Dummies or The Idiot's Guide to Facebook, but... way too many women are giving us way too much information. In fact, the term TMI may have been invented just because of this phenomenon.

Ladies. Girls. Women. Please do not "share" with the universe at large when you are... you know... whatever you want to call it--menstruating, having your period, on your cycle, being visited by Aunt Flo, Aunt Rose, or your "friend. Just don't.

To clarify, I'll provide a list of who wants to know when you are riding the cotton pony:

  • Nobody.
It might feel good to complain about your mood or cramps or whatever, but I can assure you--we don't want to know. Sorry, but that's your own private pain. The rest of us--even fellow women--Simply. Don't. Need. To know. (Not mention, once you put that "out there", men who follow you will categorically discount all complaints you have for the rest of the week.) Probably if you wouldn't stand up and shout this information to a stadiumful of your acquaintances and also strangers, you shouldn't tweet it, either.

If you've already transgressed and shared TMI, don't despair. Just make a vow, here and now, to reform. To cut back your Monthly Mense Messages to, say... Never Again.

You can do this. It should remain a private little secret among the shoppers on the feminine hygiene aisle: you, a couple of other women, the young embarrassed husband, and the guy with the combover and a Cosmo magazine in hand, who darts in to grab a bottle of Astroglide. See? Sometimes we don't want all the deets.

A bit of mystery is a good thing.

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Talkin Tuesday

I'm guest at author Rebecca Rose's blog today, doing what I do best... Talkin'. (about different hero types)

Autumn Piper
Got romance?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lending, Shmending--My take on the Amazon hooplah

It's been almost 2 weeks since Amazon unveiled its new Kindle Lending Library, and from the uproar among authors, you'd think they've already got plans to Occupy Amazon.

So, let me (briefly) recap what Amazon offers:

Anybody with a Kindle can lend their books to friends, but only for 14 days max. Not new. At least for several years. And I honestly have no problem with this feature. The cool thing about Kindles (from an author’s angle) is that Kindle owners can’t make a copy of a book file and send it out 557 times to whoever they want, or upload it to some file-sharing site. It’s between their Kindle and Amazon. Period. (and of course, that friend who can temporarily borrow it) Do I have a problem with a reader sharing the story she loves with another reader, thus doing my publicity for me, and spreading my fan base? Never. At least with Amazon, it’s a limited thing... PDFs, notsomuch.

Now, if you have Amazon Prime ($79 per year), you can A)watch movies/TV streaming B)Get free 2-day shipping all year on all purchases and 3)Borrow (for yourself) 1 book per month, like a library book. Amazon has “over 100,000 bestselling titles” available for this.

Now this is what's causing authors to twitch. My thoughts on the matter?

  • Yayy Amazon! I’ma get me a Kindle. (LOL) And one for dear daughter, too.
  • People can already check out damn near all books via ebook from their libraries anyway (and if your local library doesn’t have them or doesn’t have many, try your state library system, like for me the Denver Public library gives out cards to anybody with a Colorado license, and I can get ebooks there). And true, we authors do get a tiny stipend back from OverDrive when somebody checks out our book from the library, but...
  •  Hello? 100,000 bestsellers. Uh, yeah. I’ve never been in the top 100,000 on Amazon. (well, maybe once, but that was when I was buying copies of my books for a convention) They sell upward of 5 gajillion books. So the people who you’d think might possibly feel the crunch from lost sales because of this (best selling authors) most likely sell enough books that they will not, in fact, feel the crunch.
  • If by some chance my book ends up in the Amazon lending library and some lady wants to read it, I am SO for it. I’m betting she’ll like it, and tell other people she liked it, which means they might, in turn, buy it (and that reader who borrowed it just might write me a good review---which I am forever salivating for).
  • I’m betting most Kindle owners who opt into the program will use it to buy those pricey bestsellers (you know, the ones Big 6 pubs have decided to put astronomical prices on?) rather than waste their 1-per-month on a $5.50 or less title from Lyrical Press. Kindle owners are comprised mainly of voracious readers who see from the outset that they’ll save money on books in the longrun, because they buy so dang many.
  • And the bottom line is: Amazon did it because Amazon can. Our other option includes (and is limited to) NOT selling our books there, which—as somebody who has been published with other houses which did not sell my books through Amazon, I can attest to—is virtually shooting yourself in the foot, sales-wise. Amazon has been, and continues to be, our top-selling vendor, most of the time selling as many books as all our other vendors combined.
    Like it or lump it, but move on, already. If it was 30 years ago and your book was only available in print, readers could buy that hardback, read it, then lend it out to 20 of their closest friends and finally sell it on the yard sale for a quarter. That--and libraries--would've been your best means of spreading the word and growing a fanbase. And guess how many times you'd have earned a royalty? So get over yourself and get back to NaNoWriMo, already.

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy. Whining? Not so much.

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Review in

    I finished reading Something Borrowed. As I said before, it was different from the movie, and that's fine.

    I did like the main character, Rachel. Although... honestly, if I hadn't seen the movie and wasn't confident in a happy ending, I might've put the book down, about 100 pages from the end. She really was entirely too passive for too long. Not "too stupid to live" but at one point, she spends quite a while comparing herself to "those women"--the ones who spend years as the other woman, waiting and hoping that the cheating man they love will leave his wife and spend his life with her. Time and again she planned to give Dex an ultimatum, but then let him off the hook. Rachel also spent entirely too many years supporting her witchy, shallow best friend. So it's a little hard for me to relate to her. And the book went on for too long after what was basically the end of the story--without any further resolution, that I could tell. Like a couple of trailing chapters there should've been freebies on the author's website, rather than part of the actual book. Again, back to my original assessment, that if this book had hit an agent/editor ten years later, it never would've made it to publication. At least, not without some major revisions.

    Overall, I'd give Something Borrowed a: Borrow It. An okay read, but try to borrow it from a friend or library. This author will likely improve with experience, so remember him/her.

    Now, from the movie, it appeared the sequel, Something Blue, would feature Rachel and Darcy's friend Ethan. But there's an excerpt in the back of this book, written in 1st person, and the main character is Darcy (the witchy, shallow friend). I read the excerpt and tried really hard to want it, but in the end, her voice hadn't captured my attention. I don't like her enough to want to read her story. So, sadly, I think this is the end of me and this series.

    Next up, I'll be finishing How to Write Hot Sex, and then delving into MJ Fredrick's Beneath the Surface.

    Have a great weekend.

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy!

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Whatcha Readin' Wednesday

    After accidentally watching the movie last week, I decided I really must read Something Borrowed, by Emily Giffin.

    About halfway through, I'm pleasantly surprised. The movie deviated quite a bit, and that's okay in this case. Same basic premise, but that's about it. I do have to wonder if it would've made publication in today's market, though... this book is majorly introspection and flashback--of the first 100 pages, probably less than 25 were "current action". It's well written though, and Giffin does a nice job of making us sympathize with the heroine, Rachel--who is doing something we'd normally abhor--namely, her best friend's fiancee.

    Anyway. I should be ready for a full review on it next week.

    Am slacking so hard on the NaNo project.

    Happy humpday.

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy!

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    The Un-retchables.

    Remember how some guys you went to school with were so annoying/full of themselves/yucky in general, the thought of them as, well... guys made you want to make retching noises? But sometimes those guys grow into not-so-retchish men.

    Which is just what happens for the heroine in today's new release--and I love this premise. (I've gotta confess to be a bit biased, since I edited the story, but still...)

    The book's title is Rachel Dahlrumple (yeah, what a mouthful--imagine the hassles that poor chick got from yucko boys back in the day, right?). And in Rachel's case, the guy grew up to be a most unretchable cop.

    Her husband's death is just the beginning of her marital woes.

    Rachel's humiliation over the discovery of her late husband's affairs turns to fear when one of his mistresses sends her a poisoned bouquet. But finding the source of the killer flowers is only one step on her path to solving the mystery her husband left behind.

    Deputy Dan Weston is with Rachel when the bouquet arrives, and he's at her side as she deals with so many of the secrets that come to light after her husband's death. Dan has carried a torch for Rachel since puberty and he's not going to let her dead husband's vindictive girlfriends or his psychotic mother come between them now. But that means finding out who is sending snakes and poisoned posies before one kills Rachel.


    I looked up at Dan’s expression. All teasing gone. Cop mode.

    “I’m a simple person, Deputy Weston. Steady and calm. Boring. I don’t offend anyone, and no one gives me trouble. Unless you’re talking about Jose Delgado, who is three weeks late with the last book he checked out.”

    “I don’t think Jose wrote this.” Scowling, he turned the card so I could read it through the clear plastic.

    Black, block letters, innocuous enough, aside from the message. Ah, yes, the kicker.

    Let him go. We want to be together. Start divorce proceedings. Or better yet, end your pitiful life. Your choice. For now.

    Dan’s gaze was glued to my face, which first felt hot, then cold. My head swam and my breathing wheezed in and out, as ragged as my stuttering heartbeat.

    That bastard. The low down, scheming, rotten, lying, slimy, vile, despicable…

    “Care to revise your statement?”

    A few quick blinks brought the deputy back into focus, though I could feel the airways in my lungs constricting.

    “I know who’s going to die, and isn’t going to be me,” I whispered. “Chinese water torture is too good for him. Splinter those bamboo chopsticks--the minute he gets home, they’re going under his fingernails.” I’d learned a few things from my father’s stories of ’Nam. And of course, by reading about the war. After all, I was a librarian. I’d read nearly every book on the shelves. Maybe I’d do a search on torture techniques.

    The tanned face near mine blanched. “Easy going, ma’am.”

    Right. I wasn’t known for saying such things. I wasn’t known for saying much.

    “Well?” I demanded. My fragile world had just vaporized before my eyes and it was far too soon to see what might be left. If anything. The only future visible looked like a rapidly expanding black hole.

    Someone wanted me dead. But who? My husband? His girlfriend? Divorce loomed ahead like a huge gaping maw. I wanted to wail, gnash my teeth, and obliterate something, anything. Of course, I was Rachel the Mouse, so I did my best to hide the violent urges building inside. Rachel the Meek never, ever, let loose with her most primitive emotions. She hid them deep, keeping a calm, submissive, accepting face turned toward the world at large.

    “What would you do?”

    For the first time I could remember in our long history, Dan looked directly, and very deeply, into my eyes. The sympathy, sincerity, and concern on his face hit me. Already overwhelmed from too many emotions boiling in my heart and head, I had no defense or response for his reply, or the way he ever-so-lightly caressed my cheek with the back of his fingers.

    “Since I’m not the kind of idiot your husband is, Rachel, I wouldn’t be stupid enough to screw around on the most amazing woman anywhere. Were I the lucky one to have you, I wouldn’t leave you alone long enough for you to ever feel abandoned.”

    Aside from asthma and allergy, I was a healthy woman. I’d never, ever, once fainted in my life. But the shocks to my system that night hit too hard. A poisonous gift, a nasty note, knowledge I didn’t want of my husband’s cheating ways, and a gorgeous, younger man, telling me he considered me amazing… The zing I felt in my tummy from his touch did me in.

    Black waves engulfing me, limbs losing strength, I slowly collapsed, Dan catching me at the last moment of consciousness. Like any nineteenth-century heiress worth her crumpets and tea, I fainted right into his arms.

    Rachel Dahlrumple releases today, and is available wherever ebooks are sold, but will be 30% off this week at the Lyrical Press store.

    May your Monday be most livable.

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy!

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    Going places

    Today I'm the featured author for Friday Freebies giving away a copy of A Fireman for Christmas.

    Also, I posted the monthly Acquisitions list on the Lyrical Press Blog.

    Other than that, I'm putting my nose to the grindstone, trying to make something usable out of my very first manuscript. (and shrink it from 178k words to around 85k)

    Happy Friday.

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy!

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    Whatcha Readin' Wednesday

    I just finished Victoria Dahl's Lead Me On. It's 3rd in a series (trilogy? I didn't notice any more single women in the story who needed married off, except for a 91 year old granny, and I don't think we'd want to go there just yet) about Aspen and her fictional town of Tumble Creek. Incidentally, I have read the first book in the series, Talk Me Down, but somehow missed reading #2. (Harry Potter is the only series I've ever read in order. It's a syndrome I suffer from.)

    Anyway... Cute story. I love the bad-boy attraction factor (bad boys are made FOR good girls, right?). The characters' motivations are totally understandable--Jane has quite a past she's determined to keep under wraps, and Chase doesn't want her to know he's privvy to it. The characters themselves didn't resonate quite as much as those in Talk Me Down--seriously, I think of those characters often, especially Molly. But overall, I'd say Lead Me On is a Nice Bang for Your Entertainment Buck. Well worth your time and money, but probably not something you'll re-read. Pass it on to someone who’ll enjoy it and keep the author on your radar.

    Next on the Reader: How to Write Hot Sex: Tips from Multi-Published Erotic Romance Authors. So far I'm into the 3rd essay, and they've all been very good. (One of the authors I edit for--LK Below--is a contributor.)

    Happy reading!

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy!

    Tuesday, November 1, 2011

    Because I love these two...

    I love Booth and Brennan on Bones... and in anticipation (read: hype) of this week's season premiere, the Bones Powers That Be created a music video showing some great Booth & Brennan moments.

    And because this blog is about romance, after all...

    Piper Denna
    Romance is sexy!