Thoughts on a New Unit & Authors Behaving Badly

Army Life

I reported to my new unit this week. It wasn’t a major move or anything, I just walked upstairs to the new battalion. But it’s interesting because my mental shift hasn’t occurred yet and it really needs to. Us is not my new unit. Them is my old unit, not the other way around. We had a change of command and it turns out the new battalion commander and I served in First Cav back in 03-04. Not sure if him remembering me is a good thing or not because, well, instead of being a mouthy captain, I was a mouthy staff sergeant. But he seemed nice enough about it so we shall see.

As I move into my new unit and prep to take command again, it’s dawned on me that I really miss being a commander. Not just that, but I miss my folks from my old company. They weren’t just my subordinates. They were my team and they really were a hell of a good team. My first sergeant put up with so so much from me, my XO knew how to figure out what he could stall on because I’d forget and how to keep up with what was going to piss me off versus what he could tell me later. My ops sergeant, hell, she was a young sergeant going on First Sergeant. She was pure awesomeness in so may ways, but the most important was her honesty. I could count on her to give me a no bullshit assessment and when you’re a commander, you sometimes wonder if people are just blowing smoke up your ass because, well, you’re their boss.

I miss my old team too because I knew who I could trust, who I had to watch and who I could count on. It was familiar. Now, moving upstairs, I have a new team I’m moving into. The biggest thing I have to do is not compare them to my first team. They will be a different team. There will be different things that are good and different things that will frustrate me but it will still be my team. I told the other commanders in my new unit that I’m looking forward to being a commander again. One of them looked at me like I was crazy and asked why?

Why do I enjoy command? Because I get to make a difference. I get to say I can help you with that. Or I get to say you don’t get to be a Soldier any more. The minute I start believing I can’t make a difference, it’s time to hang it up. So on that note, I am looking forward to this again.

Authors Behaving Badly

In the writing world, it seems that 2012 really is the year of the apocalypse. There have been several major dustups about reviews, googling one’s self, authors gaming the review system, reviewers attacking authors.

I’ve joked with several authors that I can’t wait to be an episode of authors behaving badly because hey, there’s no such thing as bad press, right? Well, not exactly. I do think there’s bad press in these cases and here’s why: depending on what’s been said and no, I do not lump all episodes of authors coming out and talking about reviewers or whatever into the same boat, it leaves a thought in the back of my mind about the author. Most of the reviewers, I won’t remember. I may remember the specific review but I won’t remember in 6 months (probably either one but that’s a whole nother issue).

So there’s a couple of things that come to mind about the whole thing. First, remember what Nora Roberts said at RWA 10 during the keynote luncheon and I’m paraphrasing badly here: “Get over it. Reader A is going to love your book for the same reason Reader B is going to want to burn it”. And second, Laura Kinsale wrote a great post about reader reaction getting into an author’s head. The point she made was that writing is first and foremost, the author putting a story on paper. Yes, each reader will take something different from the book but at the end of the day, the author must write what she feels the story needs.

I can relate to this. For the last few months since Because of You came out, I haven’t been able to get reader comments out of my head. So I’ve made a conscious effort to stay off Goodreads, Amazon and BN review sections. If you’ve liked my book, thank you so so much for reading it and for telling people that you liked it. And if you didn’t like it, I’m so sorry it missed the mark for you but thank you for reading it and giving it a shot and for telling people that, too. Honestly, I’m grateful that people are even reading it. I’m grateful for having had a book that people read. That doesn’t mean that a couple of negative reviews haven’t stuck in my head, but not for the reason people might think. One review said holy crap this author repeats herself enough. We get it.

Why would that one stick in my head? Well, because I *do* have a problem with repetition. So I’ve got to work on that as a writer. I can’t fix anything about Because of You now. All I can do I keep this in my head as I get ready to revise my next book.

Authors, ask yourself, why are you googling reviews and reading them? What do you get from that? If it ends up pissing you off and causing you to obsess about why the review was wrong, unfair, unjust, lies, whatever, maybe there’s a better use of your energy? Are you looking for ways to improve your writing? Maybe there’s something to that then but you’re going to get such a vast overload of information, you might be better off finding a good critique partner.

That’s the wrap up for this week. Don’t forget that you can still enter to win a copy of a hard copy ARC of Because of You at Goodreads.
You can also enter the Romance at Random Reader Rally and leave comments all over the place to win lots of free books!

And Back To You is up for preorder!

Welcome to the Romance at Random Reader Rally

So I’m taking part in the Romance at Random Reader Rally. Between now and January 31, I’ll be giving away ecopies of Because of You, one copy each week. Leave a comment to win and make sure you check out the main page over at Romance at Random to see other participating blogs as well as a chance to enter the Grand Prize Drawing!

As an added bonus, at the end of the month, I’ll give a $25 gift card to either Barnes and Noble or Amazon to one lucky commenter!

Click on the link below to be part of Romance At Random’s random 5 book giveaway drawing – then, comment in our post to be eligible for the Grand Prize drawing! Winner of the Grand Prize drawing will be randomly chosen from the comments in this post (ebook for International readers thru Net Galley, all Net Galley terms & restrictions apply; ebook (Net Galley) or print for US readers)

Enter below for a chance at the Grand Prize!

Win a Hard Copy ARC of BECAUSE OF YOU

Okay so I totally sent out teaser pictures a few weeks ago and have been working through the details of a giveaway for a few of the hard copies of Because of You.

Well, that day is here. I’ve got a Goodreads giveaway up and running for 5 ARCs of Because of You. I hope you’ll spread the word and enter to win. Oh and these are not the only 5 copies out there. There will be more chances to win in the coming weeks so stay tuned!!

Click here for the Goodreads link to enter to win!

The Year End Wrap Up + Giveaway!


So this year has been somewhat amazing, all things considered. Starting with the coolest news first, my husband came home from Iraq on Christmas Eve and was interviewed by Angela Brown from the Associated Press. You can read the variations of the article on




Washington Post

And others. Angela was great to talk with and it was super cool for our families to be able to see us all together again on the news.

A chapter in my Army career came to a close as I passed the guidon to my replacement as the company commander. While it was incredibly sad for me to say goodbye to my soldiers, so many of them have kept in touch, sometimes it feels like I’m still part of the Viper family. And they’re in excellent hands across the board. I’ve been selected for a second command and will be taking that guidon some time in February 2012 where the fun of company command will continue.

On The Writing Front

My young adult novel took 3rd in the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Comptetition, which was pretty cool all the way around.

I signed my first book contract and released my debut novel, all within a span of 6 months.

Because of You launched a couple of things, the least of which was my novelist career (hopefully). You can read the press release from Ballantine Bantam Dell here announcing the first Loveswept ebook original release. Because of You not only launched the return of Loveswept original ebooks, it was my first book. During the first two weeks of its release, it crept as high as #27 on the Barnes and Noble ebook Top 100. Not for romance. For ALL Ebooks. That was pretty freaking awesome in my world.

I gave away 3 Kindles and 3 Nooks this year as promo for BECAUSE OF YOU. I hope the winners have truly enjoyed them and if I haven’t heard from you, please email me so I can get your prize in the mail!

By the numbers, Because of You has been added to 258 lists on Goodreads and has 4.5 stars from 22 reviews. 14 reviews on Amazon 4.5 stars.  Thank you so so much for everyone who has read Because of You, told a friend or left a review. None of this would have happened without readers and friends pulling for the little book that could.

Because of You also received an amazing outpouring of support from superstars in the romance world and you can read all of the amazing quotes here. I can only hope that in some way, I can ever repay the support I received.

The best book I read all year (other than the Hunger Games series) was Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade. Dmitri and Honor’s was an absolutely incredible story that moved me and ultimately sticks with me months after I read it. You don’t have to read the series in order to read this book: READ IT!

Looking Forward

2012 is going to be another crazy year. I’ve got two books due to my editor, who has the patience of a saint with my busy army life. As I mentioned above, I’m taking command again in February and learning how to be a wife again to a husband who is not immediately heading back out the door for deployment (we hope).

Sadly, 2012 may also be our last year at Fort Hood as my prospects for broadening assignments are being looked at by echelons above reality. The thoughts of leaving the home I’ve shared with my husband, that has seen major changes, two kids, multiple pets…it’s sad. But I’m going to enjoy 2012 and every thing that it brings and not dwell on the far out future that I can’t actually control.

I’m going to attempt to go to RT and RWA conferences but probably will have to choose between one or the other. I’ve entered the RITA, so wish me luck on that front. I’m competing in the single title category so I probably don’t have a snowball’s chance in, well, you know. But hey, a girl’s got to have a dream.

BACK TO YOU will release in September, followed by Until There Was You around Christmas. There were some changes made based on characterization and market timing so for those who are anxiously awaiting Trent’s story, you’ll have to wait a little longer for his Christmas novella. And BACK TO YOU will now feature Claire Montoya and Evan Loehr dealing with a

There will be more publicity for Because of You in the coming months. Thanks to everyone who has votes, shared and supported BECAUSE OF YOU in 2011!


That’s the year end wrap up! Tell me, what are you looking forward to in 2012? I’ll give away at $25 gift card to one lucky commenter.

Home Coming


It is the end of the day. All I have to do now is go to sleep and wake up and we’ll be rushing to Fort Hood to pick up my husband from his 4th and final homecoming from Iraq.

I have no idea where the day went. We went grocery shopping first thing this morning. Did laundry. Cleaned. Organized. Shaved. Colored my hair. Mani/pedi last night so I won’t have dragon claws. Cleaned again. I lost count how many times I cleaned my kitchen. I give up. Made mouse cookies. Cleaned kitchen again. Put groceries away (This took most of the day). Redid the Christmas tree b/c the damn cats have been tearing at the low hanging ornaments.

It’s now the end of the day and I’m finally taking a minute to myself (somewhat: my children are drawing on the white board behind me). There may still be alc

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since I marched across that parade field myself. I’ve stood in the stands twice before. The music is pumping. Kids are alternating between crying and screaming and fidgeting because most of us get there an hour early at least. Then the waiting. Waiting. Waiting for the music to start. Waiting for the buses to pull up in front of the parade field, their doors facing away so we can’t see the troopers debarking. They form up behind the buses and the families are all chanting Move that bus. The stands shake from the noise. Your voice is hoarse from yelling.

And then they move the buses. The formation moves in step across the field. You can hear the commands from the sergeant major or the first sergeant leading them. The guest speaker, whoever it is, keeps his or her remarks to less than a minute, knowing no one wants to hear what he’s got to say. Then the invocation. And finally the word everyone, soldiers and families alike are waiting for: DISMISSED.

And it’s utter and complete chaos. Families swarm the field. The formation disperses as soldiers scan the crowd for kids who have grown up in the year they’ve been gone. For wives who’ve had babies or colored their hair or put on make up for the first time since he left. For the husbands who have gotten a hair cut or put on a nice shirt or maybe, came straight from work and so blend in with everyone else in uniform.

Then you see him. He looks taller. Tired from traveling for two days. He hasn’t shaved. But a slow smile spreads across his face. And that first kiss is magic, pure magic. If the kids are there, they get to him first, jumping into his arms with cries of Daddy Daddy.

It’s only a moment, but it’s the moment you waited for a year or more for. For some of us, it’s the moment we’ve been waiting almost a decade for: the last homecoming. It’s all the more precious.

In honor of my husband redeploying (hopefully) I’m posting an unedited, unrevised excerpt from the next book in my Coming Home series: Evan and Claire’s story Until There Was You. Evan hasn’t seen Claire in three months, since she redeployed before him and he didn’t expect that she’d meet him on the field. But I wanted to share because it captures the feeling of being someone walking across that field as opposed to waiting in the stands.

I hope you enjoy it.

And to all of our troops who are finally coming home, welcome home.


Excerpt from Until There Was You

Three Months Later, Fort Hood


Let go of me.


I’m not kidding, Loehr. You don’t have the right to touch me.

There was something off, some strain Evan had never heard in all the years he’d known Claire. But he didn’t release her. She looked about to collapse, like she was running on adrenaline and morphine all rolled into a nice drug coctail.

Claire didn’t do drugs. She also didn’t do sympathy.

But he still wasn’t letting her go.

Evan stared out the window of the bus as it moved to the parade field in front of the First Cavalry Division headquarters. The stands were filled with families, music pumped wildly across the field. Chants of move that bus reverberated through the night air.

His chest tightened as he waited for his troops to pile off the bus. He grinned as one of his platoon sergeants, Reza Iaconelli shuffled past.

“You look like a man with a plan,” Evan said.

“Oh there’s a plan all right.” His dark eyes glittered in the false illumination from the bus. “It involves Steel Reserve and a box of trojans.”

Evan rolled his eyes. “Just don’t go to jail this time.”

Reza grunted. “You’re never going to stop bringing that up, are you?”

“Not as long as we’re both still alive and kicking.”

Reza shook his head and shuffled past. Evan looked over the field toward the waiting stands. There was no reason to think she’d be there. He’d had no contact. Not an email. Not a phone call. Hell, he’d checked her Facebook. Not a single update.

It was like Claire Montoya had redeployed from Iraq three months earlier and had fallen off the face of the earth. He tried not to be bitter. It wasn’t like they were friends. Hell, half the time they were barely able to be in the same room together.

But something about that night in Iraq stuck with him. He wished he could blame it on his underemployed cock but he hadn’t even thought about sex. Not that sex with Claire wouldn’t be off the scale explosive.

He scrubbed his hand over his face. Shit, he was a mess. He’d been deployed for a year. His dick hadn’t fallen off but it might as well be AWOL if he was thinking about Claire Montoya in any manner that didn’t involve a gag.

He stepped off the bus into the crisp Fort Hood night. The music pumped into his soul. He shifted his backpack onto both shoulders and fell into the rear of the formation. No sense in getting trampled by the wives and kids and dogs that would be stampeding the field once the commander released the formation.

“You okay, sir?”

Evan glanced over at his first sergeant, Decker Story.

“Yeah. Your daughters here to pick you up tonight?”

Story’s hard eyes softened immediately. “Yeah. Though I’m terrified of riding with Lizzie driving.”

Evan laughed and clapped Story on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine, gramps.”

“Shut the hell up,” Story growled. “Guess it’s time.”

Evan shifted his pack and adjusted his coming home special occasion ball cap that he was pretty sure was going to give the sergeant major fits and hoped like hell that someone had gotten his message to come pick him up tonight. He really didn’t feel like calling a cab to some shitty hotel off post. But hey, whatever. Any hotel in Killeen beat the hell out of the giant bays and hard cots he’d just spent the last year sleeping on.

The formation moved out sharply, marching across Cooper field. The music died but the screaming went on and on and on. Evan smiled. He couldn’t help it. He might not have anyone in those stands who gave two shits about him but he felt welcomed and home just the same.

A little girl broke away from her mother toddling across the field as fast as her little legs could carry her. Evan didn’t need to turn around to know she knew exactly where she was heading.

“Hi, baby.” A soft voice behind him, a father’s words choked with emotion.

Evan bowed his head as the chaplain did the invocation. And then…chaos erupted. The field swarmed with wives and mothers, husbands and fathers, teenage daughters and newborn babies. Evan dodged at least a dozen baby strollers and even more pregnant wives. Midtour babies. He smiled and made his way to the edge of the field, searching for Shane or Trent or heaven forbid, Carponti. Anyone who could give his sorry ass a ride to a hotel until he found a place to rent.

He planned on holing up with beer and pizza and cable tv. He wasn’t leaving the hotel room. Days, maybe more. He grinned and shifted his assault pack again. Who was he kidding? He’d be out at one of the sports bars before midnight tonight. He needed to be around people. To feel the press of bodies against him as he drank and laughed and felt human again.

The wind picked up, gusting across the field and Evan suppressed a shiver. Should have packed his damn jacket. He stuffed his hands in his pants, knowing he was going to get his ass handed to him if he was caught and not really caring at the moment.

“You look like you want to escape.”

Evan stiffened as the voice that haunted him slid across his skin like hot cream. He swallowed and turned.


He didn’t move for a long moment as he tried to come to grips with the thousand fractured emotions inside him. Anger. Hate. Rage.

Once upon a time, those had been the emotions tagged when he thought of Claire Montoya.

Now? Now there was something else. Something dark and twisted up with more than the blood they’d spilled together in combat.

And damn his traitorous soul to hell, he could not hate her. Not any more.

The wind shifted and she adjusted her patrol cap. Her hair was pulled severely back beneath it, reminding him of how she’d looked downrange earlier that year.

“Look, Loehr, you can stand there and look like a sex offender all night or you can grab your crap and I’ll give you a lift. Your call but y—“

Her bun was soft and smooth beneath his palm as he snaked his hand around her neck. He drew her closer, until she was nose to nose with him, until he could see the tiny flecks of gold in her kelp green eyes. Her mouth opened with a rush of breathe against his lips. “Stop talking.”

He didn’t kiss her. He came close but when her hand came up to his chest, he stopped. Beneath his touch, she stiffened. “Let go.”

And damn him, he did.



The Official Blog Tour for Because of You

So remember a few weeks ago when I was wondering how one coordinated a blog tour for a book launch? I was somewhat confused about where the process began, what I should be doing to promote my book and what I was going to screw up.

Twitter came to the rescue once again and a few folks who you’ll see below came to the rescue and offered up some spots to help promo my debut novel Because of You.

Not only do I have those amazing blogs lined up, I’ve got a blog post just about every day for a month, starting the week after next. And I’m triple booked for release day, which it just dawned on me was Veterans Day this year, which is somewhat appropriate, I guess, because Shane and Carponti and all the guys in Because of You are inspired by the guys around me that I serve with every single day.

So if you’re interested in checking out where I’ll be through the month of October and November, here’s the list so far. I’m trying to figure out how to put the links up on the sidebar of my blog, so I’ll get to that one of these days (probably after I fail the GRE but I digress).

I’m really, really excited about this. I love reading author blogs especially when they’re talking about something different. So luckily, some of these dates are interviews and other dates are me rambling on about various and sundry topics (seriously, give me some ideas about what you’re curious about, otherwise, you’re going to hear about my cats).

There’s more to follow but here’s the list so far!
10/24 – Pink Heart Society
11/2 – Riding With The Top Down
11/4 – The Book Pushers Debut Author Feature
11/5 – Shiloh Walker’s Blog
11/7- Kate Davies
11/9 – RT – Morgan Doremus
11/13 – Interview on Romance At Random
11/14- USA Today’s-Happily Ever After Blog
11/14 – Fresh Fiction
11/14 – Plot Monkeys
11/15 – Mindy Klasky’s Blog
11/16 – The Bookpushers
11/17 – Vauxhall Vixens
11/20 – Read React Review
11/22 – Murder She Writes
11/25 – Ex Libiris

Guest Author Carly Phillips

Today, I’m honored to have Carly Phillips here to celebrate the release of her latest novel Serendipity. She’s the New York Times Bestselling author of over 30 romance novels with contemporary characters and plotlines that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. Carly is a stay at home mom of 2 daughters (now almost old enough to read her books!), one soft coated wheaten terrier and a brand new Havanese puppy. She’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers.

Please join me in welcoming Carly to the site and if you haven’t checked out Serendipity, you’re missing out!

A Whole New World

Twitter changed my life. It’s amazing to me. 140 characters. So easy. So hard. It took me a very long time to comprehend how Twitter worked. I didn’t understand the @ any more than I understood the # sign. I mean Hashtag? What’s a Hashtag? Well, I’m definitely not here to give a Twitter lesson, so if you don’t know, let’s say I’m going to tell you all the reasons why you want to find out.

Twitter has broadened my world. As a writer, I live in my head. I stare at the computer screen, I write. I have email to link me to writer friends who don’t live nearby. There’s Facebook but that isn’t as immediate or as personal, at least for me. So when I started out on Twitter, I didn’t think it would be the thing that introduced me to new people. But it did! Thanks to Twitter, I “met”other writers whose names I knew, but who I never interacted with before. I even spent most of the RWA Conference meeting up with new Twitter friends in person, getting to know them better, and truly appreciating what Twitter has brought into my life.

Twitter has helped my writing! Writers on Twitter like to do something called “Sprint”. It’s writing in 30 minute increments without distraction, then checking in with each other and reporting word count. This has upped my productivity. Hah! And I bet you thought Twitter was a complete time suck that prevents you from getting work done. Wrong!

Twitter has led me to new books and authors! When I don’t know who or what to read next, I can ask people on Twitter what romances they’re reading and get an immediate answer, check out the books for myself and download them on my Kindle in seconds! I’ve delved into new genres, checked out new authors, and really expanded my reading horizons. It’s awesome!

Twitter lets me help promote authors I genuinely like. I can Retweet their posts, offer congratulations, or mention a book I loved, and as a result I’m introducing MY followers to new authors! Isn’t that fantastic?

Twitter brings me closer with my readers! I’ve been in contact with readers who I’ve then met at conferences, met readers via our mutual interest in ABC soap operas, shared books, etc.

Twitter introduced me to Jessica, who graciously invited me here to promote my new release, SERENDIPITY, a small town contemporary romance out now! For more information on SERENDIPITY, visit my website at

So have I convinced you yet? Do you Tweet? I highly recommend it!

More information on Carly can be found at her website:

Around the web you can also find Carly at:

Guest Author Laura Griffin + Giveaway!

Today it’s my great pleasure to welcome back a good friend of mine who also happens to be one of my favorite authors. Laura Griffin is back, celebrating the release of her latest suspense novel SNAPPED. Laura’s giving away an autographed copy of SNAPPED today along with a 20$ gift card to B&N to one lucky winner. To add to the fun, I’m going to throw in Laura’s entire backlist, just because I love her books!

The other day I was chatting with Jess about the writer’s life and how it can change, seemingly overnight. I remember attending my first RWA conference in Dallas and meeting many authors I admire, and feeling a bit star-struck (not to mention intimidated!) by it all.

Fast-forward seven years, and so many things have changed. Writing fiction has gone from being my dream job to a very real occupation. I count myself lucky that I’m writing full time, unlike so many other authors I know who are juggling other demanding professions as well (Jess, I’m talking to you! No idea how you do it, but I’m in awe!)

Some things are harder now–such as tighter deadlines, higher editorial expectations, carving out time to participate in social media when what I’d really like to be doing is watching re-runs of “Man vs. Wild” or “Top Chef.” But there are a few things that are easier now, and one of those is research.

When I sit down to write, I love to have sharp, vivid details at my fingertips to make the story come to life. Where do I get these? Oftentimes, from research. If I’m writing about a place I’ve never been or about a character whose job is unfamiliar to me, I like to interview someone who can give me a behind-the-scenes glimpse of that aspect of my story.

With SNAPPED, for example, I interviewed a long list of people. The book opens with a sniper scene on a college campus and my hero is a member of the SWAT team called in to confront the shooter. Having never stormed a building and taken down an armed assailant, I decided to talk to a SWAT team member to understand what this is like. Let me tell you, those guys have a stressful job!

To get details about my heroine, who gets caught in the crossfire of this terrifying event, I needed to look no further than my mother. She was an eye-witness to Charles Whitman’s deadly rampage on the University of Texas campus back in 1966. Growing up, I heard about this event often. When we’d visit UT for football weekends, my mom would show me where she was standing when the shooting broke out. The day I began the book, SNAPPED, I trekked around the campus and tried to get myself in the mindset of the characters. Then I went to the student union with my laptop and sat down to write chapter one.

I feel a very personal connection to this story, and I hope readers will enjoy it.

Thanks for inviting me on the blog today, Jess. Happy reading, everyone!

Blog Tour? Where Do I Even Start?

Okay, need some advice for a newbie author. I suppose at some point I need to start a blog tour schedule. The problem is, how do I even begin? Is it something I just go around to my favorite blogs and ask someone if I can have a date on the calendar? Or is this something my publisher starts?

I honestly have no idea how to do this but I do know that I’m probably already behind the power curve if I’m less than 90 days until my book comes out and I don’t have anything scheduled yet, right?

What does a blog tour look like? How do you schedule it? And who do you contact?

Anyone with information, I’d appreciate advice, guidance and direction!