Saturday, December 19, 2009

Merry Christmas! (in Gaelic)

Just a quick note to wish everyone a very Happy Holidays. I'm still burning the midnight oil, but am happy to report that the end is in sight. I'm off for some last minute Christmas shopping today, more cookies tonight, and then addressing Christmas cards tomorrow, so it's a busy weekend.

"See" you in the new year!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Holiday Traditions

Last weekend I took a day off from deadlines and spent most of Sunday making a gingerbread house with my ten year old daughter. Alas, ours didn't turn out quite as well as the one above, but for only our second time it wasn't too bad. We celebrate Christmas, so Sunday was also tree trimming day.

I think I mentioned last year that the past few years have been somewhat "bah humbug" for me when it comes to the holidays. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think it's mostly the stress of trying to buy gifts, go to party's and kid's winter shows, decorate the house, get out Christmas cards, and oh yea, work. Well this year it really hit me just how fast time is going by. My kids, as the cliche goes, are growing up fast. Knowing that "Santa" won't always be here, I decided to make a concerted effort this year to be in a better Christmas mood--thus, the gingerbread house.

But a gingerbread house is really a new take on my favorite holiday tradition: making gingerbread cookies. This tradition started probably about the time I was my daughter's age (when my mom pulled out the old Betty Crocker cookbook) and has continued virtually uninterrupted to this day.

I'm not much of a desert eater, but I LOVE these cookies and can't really imagine a Christmas without them. I know there are some of you out there thinking: gingerbread cookies are okay, but not my favorite. I beg to change your mind. Here is the recipe, give it a shot and become a believer. :)

A couple of pointers: I try not to use extra flour and roll between plastic, baking on parchment until they are still slightly sticky on bottom and soft indent on top. You must decorate with royal icing, and they last forever stored in tins.

So what's your favorite holiday tradition?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Sadly, I'm back!

This was the view from our lanai. Is there any wonder that I didn't want to leave? Sigh. We had one of the best vacations ever, but after a week in paradise it's hard to adjust to "real" life. Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving. I think I put a crimp in that diet total of mine and am hesitant to step back on the scale!

We're all pretty exhausted but are going to rally for the last Stanford home game of the season today (v. Notre Dame). It's a bit of a let down, however, after last week's horrible loss in the big game to Cal. I was glad I wasn't here.

I planned to catch up on my reading while I was gone, but barely managed to crack a book. I did manage, however, to read through book #2, The Hawk, which is about 3/4+ complete. I have a January 1st deadline which means December is going to be crazy.

Make sure to check my website after Dec. 1st--I'll be posting a "sneak peak" excerpt from The Chief.

Also, I just got some fabulous new bookmarks for the new series. If you want one, send me an email with your snail mail addy in the next week or so, and I'll pop one in the mail.

Are you ready for December? Not me, I think it's going to be a crazy month. I have no idea how I'm going to finish a book and get all my shopping done. As always, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to get my parents.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Favorite Thanksgiving Food

Okay, so admittedly, dungeness crab probably isn't on the top of your traditional Thanksgiving meal list, but it is on mine. I live in the San Francisco bay area and the dungeness crab season just happens to hit full throttle right around Turkey day. Since I was little, there have been many Thanksgivings where my dad has gone across the bridge to Fisherman's warf and picked up fresh crab for us to enjoy at lunch on Thanksgiving. It's followed by a typical Thanksgiving dinner, but the crab has always been the best part for me. Only in California, right? LOL.

But seriously, when I was trying to come up with my favorite Thanksgiving food it was either crab or brussel sprouts. I'm a weirdo, I know. It drives my family (i.e. husband) crazy that I don't love Thanksgiving dinner. I could seriously do with just the crab and sourdough bread.

So what about you...
Do you have a favorite thing you cook/like to eat for Thanksgiving? (Traditional or untraditional?) What's your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me
  1. I was a Star Wars maniac. I've seen the original film over 100 times. I used to have a mad crush on Mark Hamill (including pictures of him in my school locker). Apparently I never outgrew this "trekkie" type of personality quirk because I did the same thing with Lord of the Rings (including midnight showings to all three movies).
  2. I don't like casseroles. "Cream of [fill in the blank]" makes me want to . . . enough said. This amuses one of my CPs greatly. She's always threatening to invite me over to dinner for casserole night.
  3. I played piano for almost 10 years and danced ballet for over 12 years. I was only passably talented at both.
  4. I was a huge Elvis fan. I still remember the day my Dad came home and told me he'd died, I was crushed. I've seen every movie, read tons of books, own most of his music, and visited Graceland. Oh yea, I'm the same age as Lisa Marie, too. :)
  5. I've lived in (at least) 9 different states and the District of Columbia: California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Kansas, Massachusetts, and Minnesota.
Yes, I took this idea from a tabloid magazine.

What about you. . . want to tell me one thing I don't know about you?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Can you believe the holiday season is almost upon us? We've been planning an island vacation over Thanksgiving for months, I can't believe it's almost here. I thought I'd do a little mini-update on some of my recent blogs.

  1. Are you a Sparrow or an Apple? I forgot to mention the other recent trend towards crazy spellings. My husband and I have been watching the world series (shocking!) and I noticed the spelling of one of the guys: "Jayson." Now tell me, what is wrong with Jason? LOL.

  2. I'm So Excited I Need to Share: If you didn't win a cover flat you can now read the back of the book blurb here.

  1. When it Rains it Pours: You are not going to believe this. Last week our water heater went out! Turns out it needed a new heating element. I am not asking what else could go wrong, because I don't want to know!

  2. Back to School . . . Only two more tailgates left. Sigh. I wish football season was longer. Although after 'SCs loss last weekend, I may need a break.

  3. Looking for Something to Read: I re-read a few of Susan Elizabeth's books YET AGAIN. I never re-read books so this is something of a rarity for me. I was still struggling to find something to read and decided to go back to some of my old favorites. I picked up a Nelson Demille that I hadn't read and fell in love with him all over again. Such a great writer.

  4. Monica's Scary Movie: I still haven't been back to a theater. Seriously. I may have developed a phobia.

  5. The Freshman Twenty at Forty: Well it's taken me over three months, but I've lost almost 15 pounds! I must admit, I'm pretty proud of myself. It wasn't easy. I used a meal replacement service for the first three weeks that really helped. Let's hope I can keep it off!

So what have you been up to, lately? I'm plugging away on book #2, not looking forward to a January 1st deadline. Ugh.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Are you a Sparrow or an Apple?

Above is a clip from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes called "The Seven," when George tells some friends that they should name their new baby "Soda" or "Seven" (after Mickey Mantle). I bet they never imagined that they tongue-in-cheek roasting of the trend toward "unusual" (for lack of a better word) baby names was only just beginning. I think I'd rather be named Seven than Sparrow, LOL.

Picking names isn't easy--even for characters. I get to cheat a little because most of the time my characters are based on "real" historical figures. But this also creates some challenges. In medieval/Stewart Scotland if you want to stay true to the period the choices are, shall we say, extremely limited. I've just about exhausted them all. Seriously. I've had: Rory, Alex, Lachlan, Jamie, Patrick, and Duncan for heroes, and numerous Callums, Colins, etc, for secondary characters. Women's names are just as difficult. I'm going to be repeating a couple in the next series (Lachlan and Alex).

What if you could pick your name, what would it be? I'm not a big Monica fan (especially after the Clinton thing). I'd probably choose something traditional like Katherine and go by Katie.

Monday, October 19, 2009


The winners are:
Diane W.

And what the heck, PJ and Natalie, you guys too. :)

Please send your snail mail addy to the email on my website!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I'm So Excited, I need to Share!

I just received my coverflats for THE CHIEF and they are amazing. Ballantine really outdid themselves--the cover is absolutely gorgeous. This is definitely my favorite yet. (Ing, if you are reading this, yes, I think it is even better than Rory's arm, LOL).

A coverflat is basically the front and back cover without the book inside. Unlike the JPEG above, it's got the fancy embossed metallic writing, the matte finish, a subtle plaid on the spine and back, and a book blurb (not yet posted, BTW).

So as a reward for the faithful, I want to give some of these babies away.

I will send ONE signed coverflat to each of the first FIVE eligible commenters who comment on this blog. To be eligible you must have commented on at least of of my three previous blogs (Oct. 3, Sept. 26 or Sept. 15). It would be helpful if you indicate which blog in your response (so I can check it faster). Once I post the winners, you will need to send your snail mail addy to the email on my website.

Can't wait for you guys to see these in the stores!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


We lived in a condo for a number of years before our kids were born, and right now that is sounding really good. I've had a couple of bad homeowner weeks. We have a little family joke around here about how I sometimes wish I were married to Norm Abraham (above) or Bob Villa. My hubby might be able to hit a baseball out of the park, but let's just say (nicely) handyman he is not. His motto: if it can't be fixed with a hammer, it can't be fixed. Seriously. Isn't there some law out there that guys are supposed to be good at this stuff? In my book: A man who knows how to use tools = uber sexy.

Especially right now.

People always say bad things come in threes...not. Try five. The past couple of weeks we have had: an electrical wire burn in our attic causing one circuit to go out, a cracked pipe in the kitchen sink, a cracked sprinkler pipe, a broken sprinkler pipe (different one) that leaked into the basement, and a broken clothes dryer that needed to be replaced. I should have married a plumber.

What I've learned: I do not handle this kind of stress well. I just hope I get a break for a while.

So what about you...what's your worst housing nightmare? Are you lucky enough to have someone handy in your life? Can I have their number? :)

P.S. I'm in RT this month. If you don't subscribe you can see it here.

Also, author Kelly L Stone recently interviewed me for her second book for aspiring writers. The book is called Thinking Write: The Secret to Freeing Your Creative Mind, and it's about how to use the power of your subconscious mind to maximize your creative output and attain all of your writing aspirations. I'm looking forward to reading how my comments came out. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Back to School, Football, Tailgating, the World Series and Halloween: It Doesn't Get Much Better Than That!

Just a few of the reasons I LOVE the fall. Today marks the first day of Stanford Football Tailgating for the McCarty family (we missed the first game last weekend), and we can't wait. IMO Stanford has one of the best tailgating experiences around. It's called "The Farm" but it's actually more like the woods--plenty of space to park beneath the giant trees and set up chairs, tables, whatever. Mom and Dad listen to music and drink a few adult beverages while the kids run around in the trees and toss the football around. Usually we have friends stop by which makes it even better. My two CPs Bella Andre and Jami Alden both went to Stanford undergrad so we've tried to make it a time to get the families together. A few friends from Law School are still around, too. I grew up tailgating with my family at Raiders games so maybe it's in the blood. :)

We've been Stanford Football season ticket holders for the past few years, and it has become one (if not the) favorite thing we do together as a family. September and October are probably the best weather months in California. Clear warm days and cold crisp nights--perfect! I have dreams each year about doing something more lavish with the food, but it's usually chips, dips, sandwiches, burritos or sushi and plenty of Coors Light. I do want one of those Margherita machines though . . .

So what about you . . . are you a tailgater? What is your favorite time of year? Do you have a favorite thing you do together as a family?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Other than a last minute, late summer trip to Tahoe this summer, we pretty much stayed put. But this weekend we'll be taking a little "mini-break" and heading down to the world's happiest place, a.k.a. Disneyland.

If you'd told me before I had kids that I'd be going to Disneyland multiple times a year, I would have said, "You're nuts!" Sigh, what a difference a couple of little ones can make. We've been taking the kids to Disneyland since they were toddlers (my daughter was only 6 months!)--mostly because we were down there so much when my hubby was playing baseball. He mostly played for American League teams and Anaheim is a quick trip form Nor Cal. Most of the past 10 years we've been annual passholders. Not sure whether I should be proud of that or not? :)

The kids are ride fans so Disneyland (where you can go back and forth between the parks easily) is more enjoyable for them than Disneyworld (where everything is spread out). Both kids love the "thrill" rides: California Screamer, Grizzly Run, and Tower of Terror. I like those, too, but I think my favorite is Soarin' Over California.

As a funny aside: I'm deep into book #2 now with my "SEAL"/seafarer and I can't even tell you how many times I've wanted to use the rollercoaster analogy for all those wild rides on the boat, LOL.

So what about you...have a favorite amusement park? Ever been to Disney? Do you like roller-coasters?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Looking for Something to Read . . .

With the kids back at school (insert Monica doing a jig here), I'm looking to reward myself with a little reading time. Something that has seriously been lacking in the past few months.

I was pretty parsimonious this year at conference, and I've already managed to read through most of the books I picked up. I also did a little book clean out recently. I think my TBR pile is the lowest it's been in years. In part it's because I've started putting aside books that I'm not enjoying. It used to be that I read through the entire book no matter what. But my reading time is so limited nowadays, I've become much more cutthroat.

There are a couple of books I'm really looking forward to at the end of the month (new Lisa Kleypas and Liz Carlyle anyone?), but do you have any recommendations to tide me over until then? How about new authors?

I read historical (of course), suspense, and some contemporary (SEP, Rachel Gibson, Jennie Crusie, Christie Ridgeway... stuff like that). I don't read paranormal usually unless it's time travel.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again!

This has to be my all-time favorite commercial. I think I will have to make it a traditional post, LOL. I've seen it a hundred times and it STILL cracks me up.

My kids go back to school on Wednesday, although we actually have a "walk-through" at the middle school tomorrow. I can't believe summer is almost over. We didn't do much this year. Other than my trip to Washington DC, we took a short family vacation to Lake Tahoe last week. Tahoe is about three hours away and is definitely my "comfort" retreat. I've been going there most of my life and there is just something so relaxing about the place--winter for skiing and summer for the beach. Can't beat that.

Yesterday we finally got around to taking the kids to Alcatraz. (My husband and I made a run for the dock, but unfortunately the kids caught up with us :)). I've been many times--mostly when I was a kid--but it's one of those things that everyone who visits here does, but locals often never get around to. It's funny how you can live in a major tourist area and never take advantage of the wonderful things in your own backyard. I've got a list a mile long that I've never gotten around to showing the kids: Golden Gate Park, SF Zoo, Fort Point, Haight-Ashbury, Giant Redwoods, Gold Country, Monterey Bay Aquarium . . . I could go on. Yet, they've seen the Tower of London. Ironic, isn't it? LOL.

What about you have a "comfort" vacation spot? Any tourist attractions in your own backyard you haven't visited?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Jane already has a copy of Barbara's new book so she has graciously offered to have me choose another winner...

TARA, email me with your snail mail addy!

Thanks again to everyone for all the great comments.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The winners (as chosen by my ten year old birthday girl) are:

Natalie for UNLEASHED and

Thanks to everyone for commenting. Natalie and Jane, send your "snail mail" addy to the email on my website. Give me a week or so to get them in the mail...

I will have a sporadic internet connection next week, so it will be quiet around here. Happy end of summer to everyone. I can't believe my kids go back to school in 10 days!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Get those comments in . . .

Head's up: I'll be picking the winners from my last blog on Sunday!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Guest Blogging and Two Books to Give Away

I'll be guest blogging at the Lovestruck novice tomorrow (Friday, August 7th). I met Sarah at a speaking engagement I did for the RWA Yosemite chapter. It's a relatively new chapter and I was blown away by the enthusiasm of the group--including Sarah who is writing Regencies and hoping for the call. They had so much energy, I know good things will be coming from this chapter.

It's probably the last blog I'll do for a while so try to pop on over and say "hi." I'm jumping into book #2 of the series with a tight deadline so promo will be limited over the next few months.

Also, I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of my CP Jami Alden's next book, UNLEASHED, as well as a copy of brainstorming buddy Barbara Freethy's latest, SUDDENLY ONE SUMMER. Both are signed. NOTE: as UNLEASHED in an ARC it has a plain pink cover. If you like Shannon McKenna, you'll want to give Jami a try--very sexy, romantic suspense. Barbara has written across many genres, but her latest is one of the leaders of the new wave of "small town" oriented books--like Robyn Carr. SOS is the first book in her Angel's Bay series.

I'll pick two winners (one for each book) over the next week or so from anyone who comments. You must have a valid email for me to be able to contact you for your snail mail.

So here's my question. In my never ending quest to figure out the most productive use of promo time, I'm wondering what you like. A personal blog? A group blog? FACEBOOK? Twitter? Are guest blogs something you enjoy reading? In other words, how do you like to "connect" with your favorite authors?

UPDATE: oops, I forgot about the "grand-daddy" of them all, bulletin boards. My friend and fellow author Veronica Wolff has one and we've talked about joining forces for a while now. Is that a format you like?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Kicking off the HIGHLAND GUARD

I posted my next cover in my website update yesterday in case you missed it. So what do you think? Nice abs, huh?

THE CHIEF is the first book in my new series and features Tor MacLeod--team leader and swordsman extraordinaire. (Fun fact: He's also Rory from HIGHLANDER UNTAMED's great grandfather six times over!)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Monica's Scary Movie
(or: You Will Never Wear Flip-flops to a Movie Again!)

How's this for a horror story. Last night hubby took me to see the new Harry Potter at one of those classic old theaters in our neighborhood (one I've been going to for most of my life). It's become a little run-down over the years, but it's got all the gilding, red velvet seats, organist at some shows, etc.

Anyway, about ten minutes from the end of the movie, I hear something shuffling. I look down and see--I kid you not--a huge rat. It was about 6-8 inches long (not counting the tail). To say I was freaked out was an understatement. I think my poor hubby thought he was going to have to carry me out of there. Serious "damsel-in-distress" moment. This is one of those reasons why I married a big strong guy!

The worst part was that when I told the manager, he (and the other two employees standing there) had absolutely blank expressions on their faces (i.e. no shock). He was very blase and said he was "sorry." I got the feeling that (a) he wasn't surprised and (b) he wasn't that concerned. After I went on for a while, he finally said he was going to call the exterminator "right now" (at 8:30 pm?). Needless to say, I won't be going back.

I'm still freaking out. A dark theater, bare ankles, scary movie and a rodent DO NOT MIX.

Anything icky like this ever happen to you? What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back from Conference!
(With blog friends Natalie and "Natalie's Mom," aka Lyne, LOL, at the Literacy Signing)

D.C. was a blast, but I'm paying for it now.  I'm still trying to dig out, and (sigh!) it's almost the weekend.  But it was great--definitely worth the time and cost involved.  Not only did my friend Veronica and I score an AMAZING suite for the cost of a single (a long story--see pics below), I wined and dined with my friends, other authors, and my editor and agent.  

It's hard to qualify the conference experience--or put a finger on exactly what makes it "worth it."  There are so many intangibles--whether it's an elevator ride with a famous author (SEP...eek!), networking with the bigwigs at the publisher, listening to industry workshops, or meeting the kindle guy at Amazon and having him ask me what I'd change (how cool is that?).

I had too many highlights to regale you with them all, but I want to thank all of you who came up and introduced yourselves.  I mentioned to PJ that we might have to do a coffee next year, so stay posted!

I'm trying to decide what movie to see this weekend.  Have any of you seen the new HP yet? Gerard Butler's new movie also comes out tomorrow, so that might be hard to resist...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Romantic Comedies

My hubby and I went to see Sandra Bullock's new movie THE PROPOSAL last night.  Once a month we have "Kids night Out" at our gym, which gives us just enough time to catch a movie.  We'd already seen most of what was out last night, so I got my way for the "chick flick."  We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed it.  

I love romantic comedies and am always searching for good ones on NETFLIX.  My favs?  Off the top of my head OVERBOARD, SWEET HOME ALABAMA, CLUELESS,  and BRIDGETT JONES DIARY.  But I know I'm forgetting some of my favs.

I'm on my way to Washington DC for the Romance Writers of America's annual conference so if I'm quiet, you'll know why.  

What is your favorite Romantic Comedy?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My New Series!

Many of you have been writing to ask what's next.  I've just posted information about my new HIGHLAND GUARD series on my website, so make sure to check it out.  I'm going back a few hundred years to the time of Robert the Bruce, but you'll get a chance to see many of the familiar clans I've written about before, including the MacLeods, MacDonalds, Campbells, Lamonts, MacGregors, Gordons, and MacLeans.

I just turned in the first book today, and I am super excited about it.  It's called "The Chief" and the hero is Tor MacLeod.  I hope to be posting a blurb soon.

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Freshman Twenty at Forty

Like most college freshmen, I packed on a few pounds when I went away to school.  For undergrad I went to USC (University of Southern California--Tommy Trojan above) and not only did it have excellent food, it also had a valadine (sp?) program.  Basically, a charge card for food tied to the tuition bill.  Once I got over the novelty of being able to eat whatever and whenever I wanted, I dropped most of those pounds.  Not all, but most. 

Other than for the times I was pregnant, freshman year was probably the biggest weight gain I've ever had.  

Until now.  

Flash forward twenty (cough, cough...or twenty plus) years and I am no longer that svelte eighteen year old, but a forty-one year old mother of two who seems to be adding weight every week.  I'm exaggerating, but it seems like the moment I hit 40 everything changed.  I've always worked out and eaten relatively healthy (my big weakness being burritos and cheese), but all of the sudden it caught up to me.  Granted with all my recent tight deadlines I've had too much butt in the chair time, but these pounds don't want to come off!

Calories in, calories out, should be simple.  Then why is it so HARD.

I thought I'd throw it to you guys and see if anyone has any diets that have worked for them.  Atkins is a little too scary for me.  Life without carbs?  Ick.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Who Knew?

Captain Kirk had such a hot father, LOL.  I finally had a chance to see the new Star Trek movie last weekend and LOVED it.  Haven't enjoyed a movie that much in a long time.  The first five minutes (featuring George T. Kirk, James Kirk's father) was brilliant.  There are plenty of fun homages to the TV show, but you don't need to be a Trekie to enjoy this movie.  Hope some of you have had a chance to check it out.   

I think I must be having a "blond" week because my other fascination this week has been TRUE BLOOD, the HBO series based on the Sookie Stakhouse novels.  Hubbster and I are catching up on the first season thanks to NETFLIX and we're loving it.  After reading the first book, I thought I would be a diehard Bill fan, but the actor who plays Eric really grew on me.  Actually he stood up out of his chair and I got a look at the tall, well-muscled bod (sickeningly shallow, I know).  I think I have the inspiration for the "viking" looking hero in book #2 of my new series, LOL.  How funny is this...he was rumored to be picked for the lead role in Kenneth Brannagh's upcoming "THOR," but instead the role went to . . . yep, the guy above who plays George Kirk.

With my deadline for the first book in my new series looming, I might be a little quiet for a while.  That, and the monsters are getting out of school.  Any TRUE BLOOD or STAR TREK fans out there?  

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Slump Buster

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately.  Every now and then I realize I'm not enjoying books that I know I should be.  Not sure why it happens.  Reading fatigue?  Working too hard?  Sameness?  Probably a combination, but it is really frustrating.  

So to use a baseball saying, I now have a "slump buster":  Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  Excuse me while I gush and have a fangirl moment, but is there anyone more talented in romance today?  The woman is absolutely brilliant at characterization and writes some of the best dialogue around (Julia Quinn is my other favorite for dialogue).  I decided to re-read HEAVEN, TEXAS last night and I loved it just as much the second time around.  I pretty much read it in one sitting, staying up until 2 am to finish.  It's amazing how she can take what should be an unlikeable character and make him appealing.  Bobby Tom Denton is arrogant, selfish, vain, and utterly yummy.   On tonight's reading menu:  NOBODY'S BABY BUT MINE (another re-read).

The funny thing is that I'm more of a historical reader, but SEP has definitely broadened my spectrum to contemporaries.  (Another really fun contemporary author is Christy Ridgeway--highly recommend).   Julie Garwood is another good Slump Buster for me.  

So do you have any authors that you know you can always go to for a good read?  
Reader E-Mail:  Lilly I'm not ignoring you!

I hate when this happens, but every now and then I'll get a lovely email from a reader and when I try to reply it bounces.  Usually it's with AOL.  I tried to send from two different email accounts, but no dice.  

I try to answer all my emails, so if you don't hear from me after a couple of weeks try again and make sure you have the correct email in the "from" box.  Also, make sure there isn't anything too generic in the "re" category.   Things like "thanks" or "for monica" or "n/a" often get caught by the spam filter.  Mentioning the title of the book or series is always good. 

So if Lilly is out there, thank you for your note!  You asked a great question and I thought I'd post the response here in case others are puzzled.  In the Author's note for OUTLAW I mentioned that I would have a link to MacGregor's testament.  Lilly looked for it and couldn't find it.  For good reason.  It hasn't been posted yet.  So sorry!  Because I have so much info in my SPECIAL FEATURES section it is necessary for me to stream it out (to give me time to put it together).  Up next (posted Monday) is the extended author's note for WARRIOR.  OUTLAW's will be posted in July (hopefully).  Until then, here is the link.  You have to scroll down to the appendix at the end.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dark Knights Anyone?

Hope you guys have a great Memorial Day. I'm getting close to crunch time with my book, so it was work most of the weekend for me.  On Wednesday I'll be blogging with a Golden Heart finalist buddy of mine TJ Bennett.  Her books, THE PROMISE and THE LEGACY, have earned great reviews on AAR.  I'll be talking about Dark Knights (and Patrick MacGregor), so pop on over if you get a chance.

Any fun plans for summer?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Precocious Little Readers?

I'm blogging over at Mamawriters today about my daughter and her precocious reading tendencies.  Pop on over and let me know what you think is an appropriate age to start reading romance and how I'm going to keep her away from my books until then!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Clinch Cover

I was reading a book on the romance genre recently, and there was a funny section on clinch covers.  You know, those covers everyone loves to hate, depicting a man and woman caught up a steamy embrace.  (Sorry, couldn't resist one of Joanna Lindsey's old covers--she has some amazing ones).

As a long time reader of romance, my feelings towards clinch covers have evolved.  When I was younger, I used to be embarrassed by them--probably because if someone saw me reading one it made me feel a little naughty, LOL.  Now that I'm an author, I'm more in the "acceptance for those things we cannot change" camp.  I think maybe more than any other type of cover they immediately signal to the reader what she's going to get (usually a sexy historical romance).  And more importantly, they sell!

So how do you feel about clinch covers?  Do you hate them and wish they'd disappear?  Do you love them?  Or are you kind of ambivalent?  

Friday, May 01, 2009

Just a Quick Note . . . 

I'm blogging over at Jennifer's Random Musings today.  Stop by and say "hi" when you are surfing around today.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Hot off the Presses!


My friend, CP, and fellow RT cover girl Bella Andre's new HOT SHOTS series kicked off today with the release of WILD HEAT.  If you like sexy firefighters, lots of emotional intensity, and a touch of suspense you are going to love this book.  If you're at the bookstore I hope you'll give it a look.  

So what are you guys reading right now? I'm in a bit of a rut myself--nothing's grabbing me right now (wish I had Bella's book to read :)).  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Break--Not So Much

In the old days, I used to do things like go to Mazatlan for Spring Break.  But funny thing happens when you have school age kids.  All of the sudden those "holidays" I used to look forward to so much become a hassle.  These are the days that I wish I had an office to go to.  It's not that I don't love my kids, but negotiating squabbles all day long while trying to write a love scene can prove something of a challenge.  My son is now in middle school and has unfortunately outgrown the school child care so I'm stuck with trying to figure out things to keep them busy AND still try to get some work done.  Easier said than done.  Sigh.  Only six more days to go and back to school!

On a completely different subject, I thought you guys would enjoy a funny little exchange I had with my husband recently.  We were following the story of the American captain being held by the Somali pirates and I said, "Why don't they just send him some SEAL snipers and get rid of these guys."  My husband gave me a skeptical look and said, it would be too difficult (or something to that effect).  How vindicated was I when a few days later they did exactly that.  Everyone was quite amused when I mentioned, "See what you can learn from reading romance!"  LOL.  But wasn't that an amazing story?  

Have a great week...If I'm a little quite you'll know why.  (My kids have probably strung me up like a pinata).


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Just a Quick Note...

Today I'm blogging over at magical musings today (Thursday).  It's a post about first loves that I had the idea for after a recent post I did here.  If you have time, stop by and check it out.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

More Bubbly!

I've come down from the chandelier long enough to share my good news (but then it's right back up for more swinging!).  My editor called yesterday afternoon to let me know that HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL debuted on the New York Times extended list at #23!  It also hit the USA Today (#92) so I had the double whammy.  I'm absolutely thrilled.  Thanks to all of you who rushed out and bought the book--I truly appreciate your support.

My hubby took us out to celebrate last night, but I think we'll be doing something fun this weekend, too.  What about you guys...any fun weekend plans?  My kids aren't on Spring Break until the week after Easter, but it feels like we must be the only ones.  

Sunday, March 29, 2009

All Six Strapping Lads on Display at Barnes and Noble

Thanks to Allison Brennan and Toni Causey for the very cool picture. :)  It still feels very surreal to me to have six books out in less than two years.  Talk about going from zero to 60 in under a minute, LOL.  

Seeing all the books like that got me a little reflective about my own writing--not that I can ever really "see" it objectively.  If there's one thing I've really learned since becoming published--I can never guess what readers are going to respond to!  

But I do think certain "themes" have emerged.  Clearly I love tall, good-looking, muscle-bound alpha heroes, mostly because (1) that's what I like to read--hey, it's part of the fantasy (for me at least) (2) the setting really demands it--you had to be pretty darn tough to survive in these times.  They all have honorable cores, although the "line in the sand" might be a little different for each of them.  (My CPs Jami Alden and Bella Andre and I will be doing a workshop at RWA this year on Alpha Heroes, BTW, if you're planning on going.)  If they happen to resemble Clive Owen in King Arthur, Eric Bana in Troy, Gerard Butler in 300 (minus the beard) and Viggo in Lord of the Rings, it's a coincidence.

My heroines, I hope, are also products of their time.  They have what I like to call "quiet strength" (they have to be able to tame these formidable warriors after all) and are smart, though they might start out a little sheltered and naive.  I tend not to do the "super-hero, kick-butt heroines"--because I can't see myself like that, but never say never, right?

Not surprisingly, I LOVE the Romeo and Juliet "Star-Cross'd Lovers" theme--but since I write Scottish that's probably a truism, LOL.  Feuding clans...need I say more?  Actually, I think in one of my author's notes that R&J was a bit of Tudor propaganda. Queen Elizabeth was very aware of the Scottish feuding clan/border situation and Shakespeare's play--thought to be written in the 1590s--certainly picks up on the dangers. 

A couple other favorite themes:  revenge and justice.  

HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL is the first "reunion" story I've done, which is surprising since that is one of my favorites to read.  Reunion stories have all kind of built in tension that I love--you have these two people who loved each other, but are separated and then thrust back together.  In Highland Scoundrel, Jeannie and Duncan fall in love when they are very young and are torn apart by war and betrayal.  When they come back together, they are older and "wiser," but all those raw feelings bubble to the surface and bring back all those hot emotions.  

Reunion stories tap into one of the reasons I like to read romance in the first place--what my friend Jami and I call the "high school emotions," where everything is raw, emotional, very dramatic and very important.  When I read a romance, I want to remember how it felt to be in love when I didn't have two kids, dishes, laundry and bills to worry about.  I want to feel that no matter how calm, cool and collected they might be on the outside when it comes to this other person they lose it.  

Most reunions stories (Highland Scoundrel included) also tap into the first love fantasy.  To me there's just something about the idea of a first love so strong that it can weather all kind of storms.  It also taps into the fantasy of "what if?"  What if you could go back to your first love...would it still be the same?  It's the same thing that makes people google old boyfriends, LOL.

So enough self-analysis.  I've told you mine, what are some of your favorite themes or story-types in romance?  Do you have a secret love for a good boss/secretary?  Secret baby?    

Monday, March 23, 2009

Number 3 is in the Stores!

I hope I'm not exhausting you guys with all these trips to the store the past couple of months, LOL.  Today's release of HIGHLAND SCOUNDREL will be the last one for a while--promise.  Hope you guys enjoy Duncan and Jeannie's story!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Okay, today is actually "The Ides of March," but I'm getting into the spirit a little early.  St. Patrick's Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I'm part Irish which probably explains some of it (I'm also part Mexican and not surprisingly one of my other favorites is Cinco De Mayo), but I guess I'm a sucker for low pressure holidays that center around bars, LOL.

My nine year old daughter has been involved in Irish Dancing for a couple of years, making it an even bigger day in our family because of her shows--there seems to always be a call for Irish Dancers around St. Patrick's day.  I just love it and watch her enviously.  I danced ballet for over ten years, and was pretty bummed when at five she told me flatly that ballet was "boring" and she didn't want to do it, but I got over it quickly.  Compared to Irish Dancing can't say I blame her. :)

I poked around on you tube for a while to find a really fun Michael Flatley clip that includes a little bit of everything: soft shoe, a Michael solo, a duo and the whole troop at the end (isn't their timing is AMAZING).  Hope you enjoy it. :)  

So do you celebrate St. Patrick's day?  Did you dance when you were younger?  

P.S. HIGHLAND WARRIOR is up for the book of the month on a fun romance blog called Jennifer's Random Musings.  You can vote for it in the poll on the right column.  

Monday, March 09, 2009

Man vs. Wild Highlander Style

I could have also titled this blog: Inspiration strikes in the strangest places.   A few years ago when we were up in Tahoe snowed in, I discovered a new show on the Discovery Channel called, "Man vs. Wild."  Since then it has turned into something of a cult hit, but we were definitely early followers. :)  

If you haven't seen it, it's a reality show featuring Bear Grylls, a former British SAS (special forces) guy, who gets dropped off in the "wild" and has to find his way out, giving plenty of survival tricks along the way.  He also eats some pretty disgusting things--bugs, snakes, spiders, you name it.  One of the more memorable: squeezing water from Elephant dung.  Yuck.  It's a great show, our whole family loves it.  

But what does it have to do with Highlanders?  Well, it was in an episode where Bear goes to the Cairngorm Mountains in the Highlands (link to part of the episode here--squeamish alert!) that inspiration for HIGHLAND OUTLAW struck.  Bear mentioned how tough the Highlanders must have been, living in brutal conditions, etc. and it seemed to me that he HAD to be talking about the MacGregors.  

I hope you've had a chance to read HO, but if you haven't--without giving too much away--that toughness really became the core of the hero Patrick MacGregor.  There's also a section in the story where he has to put all his survival skills to work.

Are you a Discovery Channel or Man Vs. Wild fan?  Any good "cult" shows you recommend?  (I'm also a HUGE fan of the "new" but soon-to-be-over Battlestar Gallactica). 

Thursday, March 05, 2009


A huge thank you to everyone who bought the book last week and helped to propel HIGHLAND OUTLAW onto the USA Today Bestseller list this week.  I've been cracking open the champagne, and I thought I'd share it with you . . . so a big cyber-toast from me!  I truly appreciate all of your support.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

Can it be . . .

Release Day again?  

Yep, that "long" wait of a month is over and HIGHLAND OUTLAW, book #2 in the Campbell trilogy, is now in the stores.  

I know many of you have been eager for Lizzie's story, and this is it.  If you haven't had a chance to pick up HIGHLAND WARRIOR you can kill two birds with one trip and go for the "doubleshot" weekend, LOL. (Although each book does stand alone).

I think this is my favorite cover of the three.  I really wanted something with a bow and arrow and I LOVE what Ballantine came up with.  The Robin Hood allusion actually plays a part in the book, although if you've read HIGHLAND WARRIOR you'll know that it only goes so far.

So what is your favorite of my six covers (both the MacLeod and Campbell trilogies)?

Just a quick note...

I'm blogging over at Everybody Needs a Little Romance today and if you haven't had a chance to pick up a copy of HIGHLAND WARRIOR you'll want to make sure to stop by.  Keri is giving away TWO copies to commenters today.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Household Projects

I'm just starting a new book and what that means in the McCarty household is that it's clean out time.  There's just something about starting a new book that gets me motivated to tackle the projects that have been staring at me in the face since my last book was over.  (And for purposes of full disclosure, some of them have been staring at me for a couple of books.)  Why in between or at the start of a new book?  I think it's because I don't have a deadline looming so I don't feel guilty spending my "free" time not writing.

Yesterday we did the closet purge.  With two GROWING (and I do mean growing) kids, they go through clothes like you wouldn't believe.  My son in particular.  It seems like half his closet was too small.    

My husband dreads this time because he knows it isn't going to be pleasant.  I go on a mini-rampage and drag him in for the ride.  In the past three weeks I've: organized the last two years worth of pictures, gone through all the kids art projects to figure out what to save, organized my books for storage, made a memory book with my daughter for a trip we took a year and a half ago, cleaned out the garage, got our tax info together and cleaned out the corresponding files, gone through my research files, and (here's the biggie) FINALLY got the earthquake preparedness kit we've been meaning to put together done.

I live in the San Francisco bay area very close to a major fault line that the experts say is due for "the big one."  Lovely.  We have an old house and although it's been retrofitted, if the big one hits it probably won't be pretty.  

So how can I have lived here for almost nine years and not have at least a basic earthquake kit?  Good question.  To some extent I think those of us who live in CA do the head in the sand thing.  The "maybe if I don't acknowledge it" it won't happen kind of thing.  But it's also a big undertaking to get something like this together.  You can buy pre-packaged kits, but they are at least a couple hundred dollars a person.  Putting one together is much cheaper, but takes time.   We have tons of water and some food, clothes, radios, lanterns, first aid kits, etc.  We also had to figure out when and how to store all this stuff.  

But it's done and I feel like an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  In general I feel so much better when all these projects are done.  It's amazing how freeing it feels not to see the box of pictures against the wall, or the bag of clothes for the earthquake kit in the corner, or the overstuffed file cabinet.  One of my cp's (Bella Andre) does a Feng Shui class for writers and I'm a full believer--de-cluttering your environment really relaxes me.  

So what about you?  Do you go through mini-rampages like I do?  Any big projects staring you in the face?  Do you hate clutter or does it really not bother you? 

P.S. I'm blogging over at Fresh Fiction today, so if you aren't gone for the holiday pop over and say "hi."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Economy Got you Down?

Head to Target where you can find WARRIOR at 25% off, LOL.  I swear I still get so excited when I see my book at grocery stores, airports, drugstores, etc.  So I hope you'll indulge my little "squee!"  Maybe one day I'll stop being such a dork. . . or maybe not.

Also, I'll be blogging over at Romance Novel TV on Tuesday.  Please stop by and say "hi," they have a great group over there!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

"Picture Book" Sneak Peek

Rothesay Castle, Isle of Bute

If you've had a chance to pick up HIGHLAND WARRIOR, you'll want to check out this sneak peek slideshow of Rothesay Castle--one of the places featured in the novel.  The dank hole is the "pit prison."  I don't get claustrophobic, but let's just say I was happy to get out of there.

If you're new to my novels or haven't had a chance to explore my website, in the Special Features section I do a "Picture Book" for each novel (kind of like an illustrated version with photos and references to the text).  

I'll be posting the Picture Book for WARRIOR at the end of the month, but until then, enjoy!  Sigh, it gets me misty-eyed just looking at the pictures.  What an amazing trip it was.  

P.S. I'm blogging over at Yankee Romance Writers today and Karin Tabke's blog tomorrow, if you get a chance to pop on over and say "hi."  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Campbells Are Here!

I'm thrilled to announce that HIGHLAND WARRIOR, the first book in my new back-to-back trilogy is now in stores.  It's a big day in the bookstores with tons of great romances being released, so I hope you'll check it out.  I love hearing sightings, so if you are out-and-about and see it, let me know where.  

P.S. I'm being interviewed over at TGTBTU today for their very first DUCK CHAT so pop on over and say "hi."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A special Opportunity for Readers of my Blog!

I'm raring up for the release of HIGHLAND WARRIOR next Tuesday and want to give one of you an opportunity to be the "first on the block" to read it, LOL.  I'll pick one name from the comments on this blog between now and Wednesday the 22nd at midnight PST to receive a hot-off-the-presses signed copy of Highland Warrior. 

So here's what I'm wondering...

I was talking to one of my CPs the other day and we were trying to figure out what it is that draws readers to Scottish romance.  Is it the history?  The gorgeous setting?  The Alpha/warrior heroes?  Or something else?

I was thinking about some of my favorite Scottish authors and I realized I pick up different authors for different reasons.  One of my all time favorites is Kathleen Givens--I love her for the history.  But I also loved Karen Marie Moning's Highlander series and that is definitely because of the sexy, Alpha heroes.  

What Scottish authors do you read (if any) and what draws you to their stories?   


Friday, January 09, 2009


That's what RT called us and I think it totally fits.  In case you missed it in my most recent website update, I'm on the cover of RT this month with my two critique partners Jami Alden and Bella Andre.  I'm often asked about critique groups and what makes them work, and the accompanying article gives a little insight into how we've done that.  Hope you'll look for it at Borders (I'm not sure if B&N still carries it?).  I was also thrilled that HIGHLAND WARRIOR received a TOP PICK!  

So this is the point where I start getting nervous excited about my book coming out. Of course, it feels like everyone and their mother has a new book coming out that day, LOL.  I suppose the good news is that people will be in the bookstores!  I'll never forget that my first book came out the same day as the last Harry Potter.  

I'll be making a b-line on the 27th for the new Susan Elizabeth Phillips.  What books are you guys looking forward to?