Monday, December 30, 2013

What's in store for 2014? Holy @#$%, a lot of stuff!

Conversation in my kitchen this morning:

GENTLEMAN FRIEND: So I emailed the office last night about how I wasn't feeling great and might work from home for a couple days.

ME: Yeah?

HIM: Apparently there's a really bad flu going around. It starts with fatigue and sore throat and a fever.

ME: So . . . pretty much all the symptoms you have?

HIM: Uh-huh.

ME: Based on the fact that we are a newly-engaged couple with mistletoe hanging from the ceiling in every room of the house and a strong lock on the bedroom door, is there any chance I won't be getting the flu?

That's a rhetorical question. I think odds are good I'll be kicking off 2014 with my face over a pot of steaming mentholated water, which is probably not the worst way I've rung in the new year.

No matter, my spirits are pretty high going into 2014. Here are a few reasons why:

  • I'm starting the new year with a brand new website. The fabulous LuLish Design created it for me, and I'm so in love with it I want to drag it under the pool table and give it a hand job. It has a lot of cool features like an amazing new design, cool pics taken by my gentleman friend, an Author FAQ, a Personal FAQ, a fun new About Me page, an amazing roundup of all my books, and much more. Go check it out at
    Go visit my new website at
  • In 2014, Entangled Publishing will launch my new series under the Brazen imprint. You may recall, Entangled is the publisher that released my short novella Eat, Play, Lust in August (which is still for sale here for just 99-cents!) All three of my new books slated for publication with the Brazen line in 2014 will feature my usual brand of quirky romantic comedy, but with steamier, more plentiful sex scenes and a word count that's closer to 55,000 (as opposed to my Sourcebooks rom-coms weighing in around 90,000 words). Each story is centered around one sibling in a staunchly military family (Sheridan Patton-Price, MacArthur Patton, and Grant Patton). Watch here for news on the first book in the series, Marine for Hire, which will be released in the first part of 2014.
  • In May 2014, Sourcebooks will release the third romantic comedy in my three-book deal, Frisky Business. It's already up for pre-order at Barnes & Noble and Amazon, and I'm madly in love with the cover they've created for me. Here's a quickie blurb about it:
    She's looking for something bigger than his bank account...

    Marley Cartman is fed up with arrogant rich guys who treat her like garbage, so she vows to only date men with modest paychecks and a little dirt under their nails. Her new boss, William Barclay, is exactly the kind of man she's trying to avoid: an eccentric millionaire with duct-taped shoes and an unexplained vendetta against her. But as Will and Marley butt heads over grumpy badgers and phallic artifacts, they discover that sometimes the opposite of what you want is exactly what you need.
  • Apart from my author life, 2014 is shaping up to be a pretty big year for me personally as well. I'm scheduled to teach two sessions at the South Beach Writers' Conference in Gold Beach, Oregon February 14-15. Here's the skinny on the workshop I'm teaching for both sessions:
The top mistakes new authors make (and how to avoid them!) It's easy to screw up when you’re getting started as an author. Just ask Tawna Fenske—she’s done it plenty! She's also learned a few things from years of judging contests, critiquing manuscripts, building a career in marketing & PR, and stumbling a few times in her own journey as a published author of romantic comedy. From writing craft to social media, learn the top landmines for newbie writers—and how you can leap gracefully over them.
  • What else is happening in 2014? I'm pretty sure there's something more, but I can't quite put a finger on it. (Cue light bulb popping on above romantic comedy author's head as "put a finger on it" triggers thoughts of gentleman friend).
    The site of our Sept. 2014 wedding.
    We'll be wearing a lot less clothing.
    Yep, that's right – my gentleman friend and I will be getting hitched September 6. Don't expect a lot of gushy posts about color schemes and crudités. My maid of honor is my eight-year-old stepdaughter-to-be, and she and I have both declared we will not, under any circumstances, wear shoes for the wedding. Or the reception. Or pretty much anytime in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. My dog will be the ring bearer. There will be lots and lots of wine involved. Lots.

I think that about sums it up for my plans in 2014. What does the coming year hold for you? Please share!

I'm going to go work on getting the flu.

Monday, December 16, 2013

When you sleep with strangers, they give you cool stuff

It's been more than two years since I fell into bed with someone I'd never met, but I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

I might feel embarrassed I were the only one still clinging to the memories, but I know she still thinks about it, too.

Part of me wishes this were as torrid as it sounds, but alas, that's not the case. I'm referring to July 2011 when I shared not only a hotel room, but a hotel bed with author Jeffe Kennedy as a way to cut expenses during the national conference for Romance Writers of America. Though we met in person mere minutes before crawling under the covers together, we've been online writing pals for years.
I enjoyed a romantic carriage ride with Jeffe
(center) following our first night in bed together.

And since pals like to promote each other's work, allow me to tell you Jeffe's books are fabulous. If you like your erotica with generous helpings of fantasy and BDSM, go pick up one of her books right now.

Since Jeffe is such a generous and thoughtful bedmate, she's giving it to you good all week long. Right now, she's doing a promotion centered around the Twelve Days of Christmas, offering cool giveaways for each day of the contest.

Because it sounded deliciously naughty, I asked to have my turn on the day the nine ladies are dancing. Head on over to Jeffe's blog today and find out how you can win a signed copy of my second romantic comedy, Believe it or Not.

Um, I'm signing it, not Jeffe. Though I'm sure she'd sign it too, if you wanted.

Be sure to check  her blog throughout the promotion, since she's giving away tons of other great prizes, including a grand prize partridge in a pear tree pendant worth $100. 

Tell her I said she's great in bed, OK?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why you can't take a romantic comedy author anywhere (including a bookstore)

The good folks at Paulina Springs Bookstore invited me to participate in an event called Indies First in which respected authors spend November 30 promoting their favorite titles by playing bookseller for the day at independent bookstores nationwide.

I looked around for a respected author, and then tried to remember the difference between respected and respectable and disreputable, and then decided they all meant the same thing.

"Count me in," I said, and gave them a list of a dozen books and authors to have on-hand for me to peddle.

I arrived at the bookstore just before noon and posed for photos like a respectable author.

Hooray for independent bookstores!

Then I got to work setting up my display of books. I was excited to talk about my favorite titles, and promote all aspects of romance, comedy, and everything in between.

Doing some well-deserved pimping for my critique partner, Linda Grimes, and her awesome book In a Fix and the orangutan-centric follow-up, Quick Fix.

Right off the bat, I noticed two important things. The first is the bane of existence for all busty women forced to wear sticky name-tags. Within five minutes, the tag curls up like a dead bug and refuses to stay put no matter how many attempts you make at smoothing it out so you look like a respectable person.

Damn you, sticky name-tag and your curly edges.

And then you realize you don't look very respectable repeatedly rubbing your hand over your boob in an effort to straighten the name-tag.

The second thing I noticed is that my station was smack-dab in the middle of the children's section.

 Coupled with the aforementioned name-tag issue, this meant I found myself spending the better part of an afternoon groping my boob while surrounded by kids and their understandably leery parents.

As if it weren't weird enough to put an author of risque romantic comedy in the kids' aisle, my vantage-point staring straight out from that section gave me a clear view of the self-help shelves.

Right in my line of sight for the entire afternoon was this title:

Is it just me, or does that title just leap out at you?

So now we have an oversexed romantic comedy author staring out from the children's aisle at a book about learning to want more sex. Does anyone see a problem here?

Naturally, my mind began to wander...

I can't be the only one who thinks this sounds deliciously filthy.

Is it just me, or does this look like the setup for a deranged animal orgy?

I'm not saying I do or don't own an adult video with one of these titles. Okay, maybe that is what I'm saying. Suffice it to say, it was alarming to glance up and see these titles shouting at me like urgent commands.
Is it okay to buy touch and feel stroller cards if I don't own an infant?

In the end, the event was fairly successful. As is often the case when I do author events in bookstores, I probably spent more acquiring new books than I did selling my own. Isn't that what it's all about?

Well, that and patting the bunny.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Giving away my recipe for salmon chowder, a signed copy of Believe it or Not, and the secret behind page 99

If you've ever acquired a copy of Believe it or Not from me – either in a contest, at a book signing, or by breaking into my home and stealing one – there was a bookmark stuffed inside.

You probably didn't notice it, nor did you make note of what page it was on, but I did.

That's because every copy of my sophomore romantic comedy that passes through my hands gets a little extra love on page 99. It's the start of a scene that always makes me smile because of the story behind it.

Back in the spring of 2011, there was a lot happening in my life. I was preparing for the release of my first romantic comedy, Making Waves, while doing editorial revisions on the book slated for release six months after that,  Believe it or Not.

I was also spending time with a handsome, kind, smart, funny gentleman with whom I'd been acquainted for many years, but had never known particularly well until I asked him to mentor me through a difficult divorce.

While the divorce mentoring was helpful, I had an ulterior motive in spending time with him. I sincerely wished to jump his bones, so I hatched an evil plan to seduce him using the best tools in my arsenal: food, alcohol, and cleavage.

I invited him to join me on a beer-related outing for my day job, followed by dinner at my house. I wore a low-cut sweater and prepared my famous salmon chowder. As we sat on the sofa chatting afterward, I edged closer and closer, eventually tucking my bare feet under his leg under the pretense of warming them. With the touch barrier broken, he offered up a foot massage that evolved into a calf massage that evolved into . . . well, I'll stop the story there to preserve some semblance of mystery.

Simmering salmon chowder with aphrodisiac powers.
Of course, if I wanted to preserve the mystery, I wouldn't have used that experience as the basis for a romantic scene in Believe it or Not that begins on page 99. When my editor asked me to add a couple more sexy scenes to the book just a few weeks after that fateful evening on the couch, I decided to pay homage by having Drew and Violet engage in a little sofa leg massage flirtation of their own. I won't claim the scene is a blow-by-blow (ha!) account of what happened that evening, but things seem to have worked out nicely for all of us in the 32 months since then. I'm not sure when Drew and Violet's wedding will be, but ours is next September.

While I'd like to extoll the seductive powers of my legs and cleavage, I'm pretty sure the salmon chowder deserves most of the credit. In case you need to seduce someone (or, yanno, just put a nutritious and tasty meal on the table) here's my recipe:

Tawna's Salmon Chowder
  • 4-5 slices of bacon
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk (I use skim)
  • 1 small can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 4-5 small red potatoes, cubed
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 salmon filets 
  • A small amount of milk for poaching salmon (maybe 1/3 cup)
  • Dill to taste (I use tons)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon in your soup pot until crisp. Remove it and let it cool before crumbling it and setting it aside. In the bacon grease remaining in your soup pot, saute the onions until soft and golden brown. Add the carrots and saute a few more minutes to blend flavors. Add corn, potatoes, and chicken broth and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, sprinkle your salmon filets with salt and pepper and put them in a pot with a little milk. If you have some scraps of onion and carrot left over, sprinkle them on the salmon as well to lend a little flavor. Cover tightly with a lid and poach for a 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 more minutes before removing from the liquid, tossing the carrots/onion, and flaking the salmon with a fork. Set aside.

Dinner is served!
Return to your soup pot and give it a good stir. Add both the evaporated milk and the regular milk and bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Slowly add the salmon and bacon and simmer for 10-15 minutes more. Season with salt, pepper, and dill and serve hot with sourdough bread and a good white wine or rosé.


Since I'm in a giving sorta mood with the story and the recipe and all, how about I give away a signed copy of f Believe it or Not , too?

Leave a comment describing your best seduction meal. Recipes or links are helpful, but just a description of the dish will suffice. I'll pick a winner next Monday.


UPDATE: I've had several readers report they're unable to leave comments when they attempt it from a mobile device. I'm working to figure out a long-term solution, but in the meantime, you should be able to comment from a desktop computer or by selecting the web version of my blog (not the mobile version) from your mobile device. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Why I'm grateful for water damage and a dead television

Saturday afternoon I was holed up in my downstairs office  browsing eBay   giggling at damnyouautocorrect   surfing porn  working tirelessly on my latest manuscript when I heard a loud crash.

"No! Oh no, no, NO!"

My gentleman friend's son's scream echoed somewhere above. Or was it outside? I jumped up, frantic. The dog skittered under my desk, and I considered joining her when I heard my gentleman friend yell.

"Get back! Get back now, go!"

My spleen lodged in my throat, and my skin went icy. I scrambled toward the door, my gut twisting in anguish. I knew what had happened. I knew it. One of our five cats, hit by a car in front of our house. It was bound to happen.

I ran for the stairs, shutting the dog in the office as I raced toward the sound of yelling. The horrified note in my gentleman friend's voice told me it was bad – really bad – probably one of our favorite cats. Maestro? Matt the Cat? Blue Cat?

I hit the landing below the second flight of stairs and collided with a 6'1" wall of frantic male. My gentleman friend pushed past me and ran for the kitchen.

I followed, swallowing hard. "Which cat? How bad? Is the vet still open?"

He  grabbed a giant mixing bowl and turned toward the sink. Why would he need a mixing bowl? Where was the cat? I looked around, tallying felines. There was Blue Cat in the dog bed. Was Maggie under the fern?

"The aquarium," my gentleman friend said, jolting me from my cat count. "The TV rolled off the bed and smashed the aquarium."

I blinked at him, regrouping. "Aquarium?"

"I set the TV on the bed to clean it and turned my back for a second and now there's water and glass everywhere. Kids, stay back."

Relief washed over me, flushing out the adrenaline that had flooded my system. I turned and took the stairs two at a time, skidding breathless into the room where the 10-gallon fish tank gushed water over a TV that lay sprawled on its back like a dead tortoise.

I smiled. It was true then. The cats were OK.

I sank to my knees and began hunting for fish. My gentleman friend dropped to the floor beside me, mixing bowl in hand. Together, we located the flopping fish and got them safely into water.

"Ohmygod," I breathed. "The cats are fine."

"What?" he asked distractedly. "Never mind. We need towels."

He ran for the linen closet and returned, dropping a bundle of towels on the bed behind us. Together, we mopped furiously at the water soaking the rug.

"Who do we know with a ShopVac?" I asked.

My gentleman friend was on his feet in an instant, dialing a friend as he ran outside to hunt for a neighbor who might have the desired appliance. He returned moments later, and we set to work slopping through the wetness, sucking and pressing and maneuvering around on all fours.

I giggled.

My gentleman friend shot me a worried look. "Are you OK?"

"If you wanted me wet and on my knees, all you had to do was ask."

He shook his head, probably assuming I was in shock. "I hope the carpet isn't ruined. I hope it's not leaking through the ceiling below. I hope – "

"All the cats are OK," I breathed, smiling wider. "I thought someone was dead, but they're all fine. All this – the carpet, the drywall, the aquarium, the TV – it's so much better than I thought it was going to be."

He blinked at me, then surveyed the overturned furniture, the sodden carpet, the shards of glass littering the floor. He turned back to me. "Not much."


He smiled. Then we both got back to work.

An hour later, we were both damp and bedraggled and exhausted as we knelt there on the floor catching our breath.

"It definitely wasn't the most fun we've had ending up like this," I said. "But it could be worse."

"At least now we have an excuse to take off these clothes."

"We need an excuse?"

The whole experience felt like such a metaphor for the sort of perspective I've found myself needing again and again and again along my writing journey. So often, a setback can feel like the worst thing in the world.

Ohmygod my editor trashed my last book!

Yeah? How fortunate to have an editor.

Dammit, I can't find an agent to represent me!

No? What a gift to be able to write a whole book.

I'm stuck in this plot hole and can't get out!

What an enormous blessing to have the education required to string sentences together on a computer that sits in a warm home with food in the refrigerator and loved ones in adjacent rooms.

I'm not saying the setbacks don't suck. I'm not saying I haven't freaked out a million times over situations that seemed abysmal in the moment. But most of the time, things that seem lousy feel a whole lot less lousy when compared with the lousiness that could have been.

Have you ever had an experience like that? Please share!

I'll be on my knees doing a bit of blowing. I wonder if this hair dryer has a higher setting?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Thanks for the photos of your panties

I'm often asked in interviews what sets me apart from other  authors. I usually fumble for an answer, not wanting to sound cocky or insane.

But thanks to Coliloquy, I have the perfect response:

I'm the only author whose readers cheerfully post photos of their underwear when asked.

While I'll admit that wasn't on my list of life goals when I set out to become an author, I'm proud of the accomplishment.

The "cutest panty thief" contest was part of the release celebration for The Great Panty Caper (my new choose-your-own-adventure novella with Coliloquy). You can buy the novella here, and read about the contest here.

You can't actually enter the contest, since it's over. But I have the great pleasure of announcing the winners right here, right now. Cue the drumroll?

Our first place winner of the $50 Victoria's Secret gift card is Pickle, submitted by @msjennishaw. "Not only did Pickle steak my panties," she noted, "but he hoarded them in his vacation home."

Congrats to Pickle and @msjennieshaw, winners of the $50 Victoria's Secret gift card.

Of course, there were a couple other entries that deserve an honorable mention. In the completely made-up categories of "youngest, cutest panty thief" and "scariest panty thief," we have P-man sumbmitted by @lisamrutherford and Grimlock submitted by @cosmochicklitan.

I'll leave it to you to figure out who's who.

P-man, six months old and already a ladies' man.

Oi, Grimlock....those are mine!

Huge congrats to all the winners, and thanks so much to everyone who entered the contest. I'd also like to thank the amazing Panty Caper street team for all your amazing efforts with blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and tattooing my book cover on your butt cheeks. Thanks, guys.

For those who haven't snagged a copy of The Great Panty Caper yet, you can buy it here for just $1.99. If you want to score a killer, limited-time-only deal on the whole Getting Dumped bundle (which includes Getting Dumped episodes 1 and 2, plus The Great Panty Caper) for just $8.99, go here.

Now go forth and fling your panties in celebration.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm having a party on Tuesday and you're all invited!

Saturday night, I sat down to draft a list of potential wedding guests. I took a slug of wine and tapped my pen against my teeth.

That's what I was aiming for, anyway. I actually stuck the pen up my nostril by accident, then tried to pretend I meant to do it.

"Do you think we should just invite all my blog followers, book readers, Facebook friends, and Twitter pals?" I asked my gentleman friend.

He eyed my pen suspiciously, then made a wise observation. "There might not be enough wine to go around."

I shuddered in horror and set the list aside for another time.

While we're still searching for a wedding venue capable of holding all of you and your respective parole officers, I can invite you to another party. The lovely folks at Coliloquy have arranged a Twitter party to celebrate the release of The Great Panty Caper. 

The party will take place from 10-11 p.m. EST (that's 7-8 p.m. for those of us on the Pacific coast) on Tuesday, October 15. We'll be chatting about everything from books to underwear to why the KoolAid packet says you shouldn't mix it in a metal container.

The Coliloquy crew will be giving away tons of cool prizes, so you won't want to miss that. (Hint: You'll have a better shot at correctly answering some of the trivia questions if you've already read The Great Panty Caper. You can find it here for Kindle, or here for Nook, or here for the iBookstore, or here for Kobo, or here for Android. It’s only $1.99, which is less than a three-pack of Trojan Magnum condoms and almost as fun).

Questions about the Twitter party? Post 'em here, tweet me at @tawnafenske, or post to hashtag #pantycaper. I hope to see you all there!

Who's bringing the wine?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Extra! Extra! Coliloquy makes me cheap & easy for a limited time!

I wouldn't ordinarily put up two blog posts in one week, but I just had to share this!

You know how I've written two interactive fiction titles for Coliloquy with the Getting Dumped series (sorta like a grownup choose-your-own-adventure)?

And you know how my new standalone novella, the Great Panty Caper just came out yesterday?

Well to celebrate release day, Coliloquy is doing a special, limited-time bundle at a killer price. See, normally you'd pay $4.99 for Getting Dumped episode one, and if you liked that and wanted to continue reading the story, you'd buy Getting Dumped episode two for another $4.99.

You could also pay $1.99 to read The Great Panty Caper, which is a standalone novella that's technically part of the series, but would make sense even if you've never read a word I've written.

OK, so forget all those prices I just told you, because right now, Coliloquy is selling ALL THREE OF THOSE THINGS in one kick-ass bundle for $8.99!

Here's the link (which will let you nab it for Kindle or Nook or iPad or whatever you happen to use. Except maybe Braille. I don't think we have that yet).

I'm pretty sure they aren't throwing in a bundle of Ginsu knives, so this is probably the best deal you'll ever see EVER for any of my books. I'm guessing it won't last long, so act fast.

And thanks so much to everyone who's been buying and reading so far. Love you guys!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Getting giddy for release day of “The Great Panty Caper.” And some other stuff.

“So I hear congratulations are in order!”

Those were the words of a business colleague I ran into on my lunch break last week.

Normally when someone congratulates me, I know what it’s for. It might be related to a successful media pitch I performed in my capacity as the PR manager for my city’s tourism bureau, or it might be a commentary on the impromptu striptease I performed on the bar the previous night. Either way, I know which it is.

But in this case, I had the good fortune of not knowing which wonderful life event prompted my colleague to congratulate me. Could it be:
The bridge where my gentleman friend
popped the question.

  • I got engaged. Yep, that’s right. My gentleman friend surprised me with a ring and a bended-knee proposal on a bridge in a park where we were strolling during a romantic getaway last weekend. I bawled. And I said yes. Duh. Though he will always be my gentleman friend, it looks like he’ll also be my fiancée, and (assuming he doesn’t run away screaming in the next 12 months) eventually my husband.
  • I have a new book coming out October 8—holycrapthatstomorrow. The Great Panty Caper is my latest release with Coliloquy, the awesome publisher of interactive fiction (sorta like a grownup version of choose-your-own-adventure). Technically, The Great Panty Caper is part of the Getting Dumped series, so you’ll recognize the characters and details if you’re a fan. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can still enjoy The Great Panty Caper since it’s a standalone novella that makes sense even if you’ve never read anything else I’ve written.
  • Early reviews for The Great Panty Caper have been rolling in quickly and making my head swell like an aroused flesh banana. Reviewers have written things like, “This book had me laughing out loud,” and “You will fall in love with the Shultz sisters.” Oh, and my favorite, “I read this book in one sitting. Then I immediately went back and read all the alternative versions. Then I had to go read one of Tawna Fenske's other books.” Music to an author’s ears!

With so many awesome things happening in my life, it’s understandable they’d blur together. I figured I might as well take advantage of that, and asked my gentleman friend if he’d like to tie the knot at the landfill (the setting for the first two Getting Dumped stories).
He hasn’t replied yet, but I’m sure that’s only because he’s so overcome with joy.

If you want to get your hands on The Great Panty Caper you can find it here for Kindle, or here for Nook, or here for the iBookstore, or here for Kobo, or here for Android. It’s only $1.99, which is less than a three-pack of Trojan Magnum condoms and almost as fun.

To follow the whole blog tour, here’s the lineup of friends, fans, street team members, and random strangers blogging about The Great Panty Caper:

Blue Cat, one of the stars of The Great Panty Caper.
Huuuuuuuge (like massive, Trojan Magnum sized) thanks to all those lovely folks for the wonderful buzz about  The Great Panty Caper. Seriously, guys, you’ve made this one of the most fun book releases I’ve ever had.

So back to the colleague who congratulated me.

I finally gave up guessing and inquired which accomplishment he was praising.

“I heard you fixed the popcorn maker in the break room,” he said. “I know how much you love that thing.”

Um, thanks?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Win an advance copy of The Great Panty Caper or a Victoria's Secret gift card for showing us your underwear (or, uh, someone who steals them)

Yesterday, I shared the brand new cover for my upcoming novella, The Great Panty Caper.

I also shared photos of my underwear.

OK, it was actually a photo of my cat wearing my underwear. That makes it totally legit.

In case you missed the post, here you go. It's worth checking out not just for the underwear pics, but for the inside scoop on how the folks at Coliloquy came up with my awesome new book cover (plus you'll get a chance to enter to win some awesome prizes).

Speaking of prizes, the Coliloquy team has a few more to give away.

In honor of  The Great Panty Caper, Coliloquy is holding The Cutest Panty Thief Photo Contest.

How to play
All you have to do is post to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or Pinterest using the hashtag #pantycaper and a photo of the cutest panty thief in your life. Maybe it's your dog or your toddler, or perhaps it's the pervy neighbor next door. We're not here to judge.

The Coliloquy folks are, though, and they're also here to give away prizes to winners. One lucky participant every single day (September 23 through October 4) will receive a free advance reading copy of The Great Panty Caper. All participants will be entered to win a $50 Victoria's Secret gift card. Winners will be announced October 7, and The Great Panty Caper will be released October 8.

Sounds fun, huh? Totally worth taking a photo of your underwear. For the record, you don't need to show your unmentionables. Only a photo of the thief is required, so get creative with this one.

Questions? Email or post your question in the comments here.

And for luck, here are a couple pics of my favorite panty thief:

Blue Cat models for the cover of The Great Panty Caper.

Work it, Blue Cat, work it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I put panties on my cat's head (and other things authors never imagine themselves saying)

There's a moment in every author's life when she finds herself staring blankly at the screen muttering, "I got nothin'."

I'm not talking about writer's block. I'm talking about the inevitable moment your publisher sends you a form requesting your ideas for cover art and you realize you have absolutely no idea what a visual representation of your work might look like.

I recently had a publisher ask what I didn't want on my cover, which proved to be a bit easier. I sent them a list that included, "Boogers, spaceships, Nazis, mushrooms, aliens, or Fabio."

I'm told this wasn't particularly helpful.

That's why I was so delighted by the process when the good folks at Coliloquy sat down to create a cover for my upcoming novella, The Great Panty Caper. Those of you who've read the first two episodes of Getting Dumped are already familiar with my quirky little romantic caper series starring two sleuthing sisters and a choose-your-own-adventure format (though if you haven't read the first two in the series, you'll be happy to know The Great Panty Caper is a standalone novella that doesn't require any knowledge of the first two episodes).

One of the sleuthing sisters has a large, cantankerous, blue-gray feline named Blue Cat. Because I'm lazy  unimaginative  fully committed to crafting realistic prose inspired by my own world views and life experiences, I also have a large, cantankerous, blue-gray feline named Blue Cat.

So when the Coliloquy folks began brainstorming cover art ideas in anticipation of my October 8 release date, they sent me the following request:

Could you please send us a photo of Blue Cat with panties on his head?

They helpfully provided sample images and tips for adorning my pet with underwear. It occurred to me this was the first time I had a legitimate business reason to send someone a photo of my kitty in a thong.

Blue Cat was not amused.

But the Coliloquy cover artist was inspired. And now I've been given official permission to share the fabulous cover art for my new novella, The Great Panty Caper. Drumroll, please?

I adore it! Somehow, the artist managed to perfectly capture the vibe of my offbeat little romantic caper about high fashion, sisterly love, weekend flings, a grouchy cat, vanishing underthings, a love triangle, and a landfill. I'm totally in love with it, as is Blue Cat.

Whaddya think? Are you as smitten with the cover as I am? Let's celebrate!

The Coliloquy team is giving away some super awesome prizes, including a couple Amazon gift cards and a prize package that includes the two previous Getting Dumped episodes plus brand new novella The Great Panty Caper.

Wanna win? Here you go:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why you shouldn't ask me to describe my own book

Several weeks ago, the good folks at Coliloquy asked me to submit a description for my novella they're releasing October 8. You may recall, Coliloquy is the publisher known for interactive fiction, which in the case of my Getting Dumped series, is sorta like a grown-up version of choose-your own adventure.

You would think the author of the series should be uniquely qualified to write a description of the latest release. You would think is the key part of that phrase, because I am abysmally bad at this. Blame it on the fact that I'm currently scrambling to keep up with scheduled releases at three different publishing houses (four novels and two novellas slated for release in a 12 month period, thankyouverymuch) or blame it on the fact that I suck at writing blurbs for my own books.

I'm inclined to think it's the latter.

In any case, this is what I turned in a few weeks ago:

Eager for a break following the drama GETTING DUMPED (which previous readers will remember fondly and new readers won’t miss), JJ and Lori head to Seattle for a fashion trade show. Their plans for a weekend of cocktails and sisterly bonding takes an unexpected turn when Lori discovers her panties missing from their hotel room. Determined to get to the bottom of it, the sisters set out to track down the thief with the help of some familiar friends and some wacky new acquaintances.

Not good. Not the worst thing I've ever written, but hardly what I want out there as the primary marketing copy for my next release.

Lucky for me, the Coliloquy team includes plenty of marketing-savvy folks who can string sentences together better than I can. On Friday afternoon, they sent me the following revised version of my blurb:

The Great Panty Caper 
JJ Shultz is torn between two hot men. So what’s a girl to do? Prolong the decision and escape to Seattle, of course! Especially when sister Lori invites her to a fashion trade show. 

But their plans for a weekend of cocktails and sisterly bonding go south when Lori’s panties disappear from their hotel room. It’s not just any pair of unmentionables – it’s Lori’s only prototype for a new product she’s almost ready to reveal. 

Determined to find Lori’s treasured trunks, the sisters set out to track down the thief, with the help of some friends at home, a few quirky new acquaintances, and a cat that can’t keep himself from shedding all over the evidence. 

What’s Cool from Coliloquy 
In The Great Panty Caper, Lori’s considering a weekend fling and you get to decide just how far she goes with tall, dark, and handsome. Dinner and flirting, or more? It’s up to you! In the meantime, JJ needs a little help figuring out which of her boyfriends to call for some sleuthing tips. Can she resist the urge to phone her hot English man? Or will the all-American hunk fulfill her needs?

The whole thing made me dance with joy, because it's so much better than what I'd written. It also made it clear they totally GET what this story is about and how to market it.

It got me thinking about whether authors are sometimes too close to their own stories to write good blurbs. Is that the case, or like I said – do I just suck at it?

Either way, here are a couple more examples of what I originally wrote for a couple of my stories, followed by the version the publisher developed:

For Eat, Play, Lust (my new novella with Entangled)

My version
Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a secret. It’s not a prison record or gang tattoo—it’s worse, at least in Cami’s opinion. 

Her lust for junk food puts her at odds with her health nut mother, not to mention her own goal to never again be the overweight girl she was in college. Still, Cami can’t shake her craving for sinful, mouthwatering wickedness in the form of…well, tater tots. Hey, a girl’s gotta have vices. 

When Cami meets Paul Hammond, her lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle. Paul is a gourmet chef with a crush on Cami and a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease. He’s looking to score some fitness tips, and maybe a date with his hot instructor. But is there any hope for something serious between a goofball with a golden skillet and a girl with a serious case of junk food lust? 

Or is serious the last thing they need?

Their version
Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a lifelong secret love of junk food. Not even an irresistible man can replace the mouthwatering wickedness of her favorite foods. 

Until, that is, Paul Hammond signs up for her class. He’s a gourmet chef looking to score some fitness tips, and a date with Cami. Suddenly Cami’s lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle. 

When this sinful chef and hot yoga teacher eat, play, and lust together, they just might bring their obsession to a new level.

For Believe it or Not  (my last romantic comedy with Sourcebooks) 

My version: 
It’s your typical “reluctant fake psychic” meets “jaded owner of a male strip club” love story. With a twist.
Violet McGinn doesn’t believe in psychic powers. That’s one thing she has in common with Drew Watson, the infuriatingly hot owner of the bar next door to Miss Moonbeam’s psychic studio. There’s just one problem – Miss Moonbeam is Violet’s mother. And for the next few weeks, Violet must fill mom’s shoes at the psychic studio.
Drew can’t figure out who’s nuttier – Miss Moonbeam, or her gorgeous daughter trying desperately to live the normal, straight-laced life mom never gave her. The one thing he knows for sure is that he doesn’t need another type-A female meddling with his life, career, or heart. So why can’t he get her out of his head?
Before Drew and Violet know what hit them, they discover that while normal may be nice, weird can be wonderful. Even worse, there just might be something to this psychic crap after all…

Their version: 
Do you believe in...accounting? 
Numbers never lie, so Violet McGinn found safe haven in the most boring profession she could find. Until her renowned psychic mother lands in the hospital and Violet has to run her business. Now you can have your taxes filed and your aura read, in one convenient location. 

Do you believe 
Drew Watson is the jaded owner of the local hot spot next door, and doesn't need a single thing except a good crowd to dance to what he's spinning on Saturday night. 

Do you believe 
The only thing Violet and Drew seem to have in common is that neither believes in that psychic hoo—hah. Except Drew seems to play exactly the right song at exactly the right time. And truth be told, it makes Violet's heart dance just a little ... 

Pretty different, huh? What do you think of the two versions? Am I the only person fascinated by the differences between how an author describes his/her work and how the publisher does it? Please share!

Monday, September 2, 2013

If I write what I know, I must know a lot of perverts

I was typing away last Monday night when I realized I needed to do some research.

"Hey, Honey?" I called to my gentleman friend.

"Yeah?" he hollered back from his station at the kitchen sink, where he was dutifully unstopping the garbage disposal.

"Can I borrow you a minute?"

"What for?"

"Well," I called, glancing back at the scene in my manuscript. "If I came up behind you braless and topless wearing high-heeled shoes, I need to know where my boobs would come into contact with your back. I'd also like you to describe the sensation."

There was a brief pause. Then he appeared in the office with  dishtowel slung over his shoulder and a big grin on his face. "I'm really glad you write romance and not science fiction."

I posted an abbreviated version of the conversation on Facebook, soliciting a few chuckles from readers. One person remarked that the research was only valid if my hero and heroine were precisely the same height as my gentleman friend and myself.

"There's a reason I've never written a particularly tall heroine," I replied.

Surprisingly, this was the first time it had dawned on me. Every heroine I've ever written has been a bit on the shrimpy side. I'm five-foot-three-and-a-half (don't you dare try to take away that half inch). My heroines have all ranged in height between five feet and five-five. Since there's a law that says you'll be thrown in prison if you write a hero who's under six feet tall, this works out fine with my six-one gentleman friend.

Clearly, I haven't strayed  far from the old adage to "write what you know."

I've been thinking about this a lot since the release of last week. One of the most common questions I'm getting from readers is whether standup paddle yoga is a real thing. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me that people would think I'd made up the sport, but I never considered that when I set out to write a heroine who teaches yoga on a standup paddleboard. It was just the quintessential activity to represent the uber-fit, uber-outdoorsy vibe in Bend, Oregon (the setting of the story, and not-so-coincidentally, the town where I've lived for 16 years and where I work part-time as the PR & Communications Manager for the tourism bureau).

So for those who are wondering, yes, it's real. And yes, I've done it. If you've never tried standup paddleboarding, it's actually much more stable than you think it would be. That photo there of me in wheel pose on the Deschutes River? That was only my second time on a paddleboard. It was my dog's first time, and she thought it was great fun to lick my face as the instructor (Kama, not to be confused with Eat, Play, Lust's heroine, Cami) offered suggestions for moving from one pose to another.

After that I probably went home and cooked either an elaborate gourmet meal, or tater tots. Or both. Also major elements of Eat, Play, Lust, in case you're wondering.

So, yeah, I guess I do tend to write what I know. For the record, I've never once fallen off a standup paddleboard. I suppose you could say I didn't fully research the scene in which Paul and Cami topple into the water together, but if it makes you feel any better, I can promise the other scenes were thoroughly researched.

Especially the one with the honey.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Miley Cyrus, foam fingers, and why you maybe shouldn't buy my books

By now, you've surely heard of Miley Cyrus's booty-shaking, tongue-lolling, foam-finger-flicking performance at the Video Music Awards.

Yes, I watched it. Yes, I kinda wanted to grab her tongue and yank it the way I do with my dog when she won't stop licking my ankle under the desk while I write. Yes, I really hope she washed that foam finger afterward.

But as a woman who makes a living writing and marketing somewhat risque romantic comedy, here are a few things I'm pondering:

  •  Why is every headline, every blog post, expressing horror and outrage over the performance of a 20-year-old woman while ignoring the 30-something man gyrating with her in a freakishly-tight suit and singing about the "Blurred Lines" between consensual and non-consensual sex?
  • Why do people so often insist someone has a responsibility to be a role model to the children? Aren't parents the only ones who signed up for that duty?
  • It may be true the young lady woke remorseful the next morning with the foam finger curled limply beside her and glitter stuck to the sheets like the herpes of the craft world. It's also possible she woke up smiling, spent a few minutes with her favorite battery-operated companion, and thought, "hot damn, everyone's buzzing about me now."

This last one is of particular interest to me, since it speaks to the marketing side of my brain (the part that's actually put a roof over my head for the last 15 years during periods I'm waiting nervously by the mailbox for my author royalty checks to show up).

A lot of you probably pal around with me on Facebook and Twitter. If you don't, you probably should, since I'm a lot more active there on a day-to-day basis than I am here with my weekly blogging.

On the surface, it might seem like my posts are a random hodge-podge of details about stealing batteries from my vibrator to use in my wireless mouse or asking my gentleman friend to let me rub my boobs on his back so I can accurately complete the scene I'm writing (both true stories, thankyouverymuch). Posts like that might seem silly, hyper-sexualized, or even downright embarrassing if you happened to give birth to me (hi, Mom!)

If those are adjectives you've used to describe my posts, I'm begging you – PLEASE DO NOT BUY MY BOOKS. Seriously.

What I'm doing with those posts is signaling you about the tone of my books and novellas. I write risque romantic comedy packed with innuendo, sex, and a certain brand of humor not everyone finds amusing. If that's not your thing, no hard feelings. Seriously, we can still be friends. We can even have pillow fights in our underwear if you like, and I promise not to grab your butt if you don't want me to.

I'm just happy we've figured this out up front instead of after you've purchased one of my stories, gasped in horror on page five, and proceeded to write a scathing review on Amazon or Goodreads. Isn't it better if everyone knows in advance what to expect so you can decide for yourself if that's your cup of tea?

I don't know if that's what Miley Cyrus was doing with her VMA performance – signaling fans that she's going a more racy direction with her career. Hell, maybe she really was just a misguided 20-year-old doing something silly and regrettable. It happens.

It also just-so-happens that yesterday was release day for my new novella, Eat, Play, Lust. So you know up front what you're getting, this is a short novella – only 14,000 words, compared with my normal romantic comedies that come in around 85,000. That's why it's priced at only 99-cents.

It's also pretty risque. That's why I'm pleased most of the early reviews use terms like "food porn," or describe the story's dynamic like this (thanks, MsRomanticReads!):

This couple had fantastic (culinary) chemistry, and I especially loved the hilarious dialogue between them. From the nervous word diarrhea filled with double entendres to the food geekery. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is looking for a light, sexy and fun read that will leave you with a smile on your face and an ache in your belly, either because you’re hungry or because of laugh cramps. You’re guaranteed both.

If that's your cup of tea, by all means – please go drop 99-cents on Eat, Play, Lust. If it isn't, no worries.

Just don't come near me with any foam fingers, okay?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lookie lookie! I'm sharing the cover for Eat, Play, Lust

Thanks so much to everyone who pre-ordered Eat, Play, Lust and offered birthday wishes in last week's post. My backside is still stinging pleasantly, so I appreciate those who stepped up to provide birthday spankings.

I threw all the entries into a hat, and then realized the hat was sweaty and gross, so I tossed them in a mixing bowl instead and drew a name. Then I had to wash the mixing bowl, because ew. Congratulations to Snarky Mom Reads (who earned herself a couple extra entries by tweeting and blogging and Facebooking and even posting a really cool early review of Eat, Play, Lust). Snarky Mom gets her choice between Making Waves or Believe it or Not.

Advance reading copies of Eat, Play, Lust have been circulating among reviewers, which always makes me nervous. I always swear I WILL NOT READ REVIEWS for any of my novels or novellas. Then I do it anyway, because I have no self-control (which, incidentally, is why I sometimes miss deadlines).

Luckily, the reviews popping up on Goodreads have been positive, which makes my heart swell bigger than a purple-headed yogurt slinger. I've had tons of people telling me they've pre-ordered the novella at Amazon or  Barnes and Noble, which is also pretty swell.

Wanna see the cover? I officially got permission to share, which makes me very happy, because you should always share things you love. Unless you happen to love herpes, in which case you should keep that to yourself.

So here's the cover:

Pretty cool, huh? In case you missed it last week, here's what the novella is about:

Cami Pressman is a yoga instructor with a lifelong secret love of junk food. Not even an irresistible man can replace the mouthwatering wickedness of her favorite foods.
Until, that is, Paul Hammond signs up for her class. He’s a gourmet chef looking to score some fitness tips, and a date with Cami. Suddenly Cami’s lust for junk food isn’t the only thing making her tingle.
When this sinful chef and hot yoga teacher eat, play, and lust together, they just might bring their obsession to a new level.

A few interesting tidbits about this novella:
  • I already shared the story of how this little novella was born from my agent's suggestion that I needed to rediscover the things that made me love writing. Part of that involved sitting down and thinking about other things I loved. On my list: gourmet cooking, yoga, sex, tater tots, innuendo, standup paddleboarding, kissing a man with facial hair, sunshine, and risqué humor. I smushed all those things together and voila! Eat, Play, Lust was born.
  • I've had a few people ask the difference between a novel and a novella. My normal romantic comedy novels are about 85,000 words, but this little story is only 14,000. It has all the elements of a regular novel like fully developed characters, plot arc, conflict, and resolution, but it's super short (one of the few occasions that's an asset, rather than a disappointment). Think of it like an appetizer – if you've never read one of my books before, you might be more apt to commit to a little 99-cent taster that only requires a few hours to read. If you like it, you might take a shot at one of my full-length books.
  • This book is dedicated in honor of my grandmother and my gentleman friend's mother, both of whom passed away after battling with Alzheimer's. (Sidenote: Fuck you, Alzheimer's). The story itself has nothing to do with Alzheimer's, but I'm donating a portion of the proceeds to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Research. Buy a copy for yourself, your friends, your loved ones, or your bikini waxer, and you're supporting a pretty good cause. Also, fuck you, Alzheimer's.
The novella is scheduled for release August 26, but you can pre-order at Amazon or  Barnes and Noble. Questions? Concerns? STD symptoms you'd like to discuss in hopes of getting a non-professional diagnosis? Please share!