JA Konrath's - Rusty Nail

In my previous thrillers, WHISKEY SOUR and BLOODY MARY, Jack Daniels has faced some pretty terrifying characters. For RUSTY NAIL I wanted to give her the ultimate villain to square off against--someone who would make the previous bad guys look like choir boys.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided the fun thing to do was to have Jack chase a whole family of psychos, and they would incorporate some traits from various real-life murderers, including Albert Fish, John Wayne Gacy, H.H. Holmes, Eileen Wuornos, and Ed Gein. Psycho families can be traced back to the Sawney Bean clan of the seventeeth century, who murdered and ate (yum!) travellers in the Scottish countryside. While I avoided anything graphic (I'm not a fan of gory scenes in books) the depicitons of their crimes are left tot he reader's imagination, which makes them even scarier.

Of course, at its heart, the book is very funny, with a lot of laughs.

I wanted RUSTY NAIL to be a trip through the haunted house; you scream, you giggle, and you finish with your heart pounding in your chest and a smile on your face. There are creepy disclosures, major twists, funny scenes, big surprises, and (hopefully) a major surprise when you figure out the killer's true identity.

RUSTY NAIL was a lot of fun to write, and I think it's my best so far. It hits the shelves July 5th.


Visit JA Konrath at http://www.jakonrath.com/


The Idea Boutique is open

Get your Idea Boutique merchandise now! These products will occassionally be given away in drawings, too. Check back later for more info.


Susan Kearney - THE QUEST

When I wrote THE QUEST, I knew I wanted Kirek for the hero. I'd introduced him in THE CHALLENGE as a baby with extraordinary mental powers. In THE DARE readers saw Kirek as a 4-year-old Oracle. And in THE ULTIMATUM, Kirek served as a sex slave, not an easy task for a Rystani Warrior. So THE QUEST would be Kirek's story and for this wonderfully complex character, I needed two things---a plot that would do him justice and a woman who might not.
Kirek's mission-- to destroy the Federation's deadliest enemies---makes him question his moral and ethical values. He's a warrior who believes in peace, a warrior who doesn't like to kill. A warrior who must defeat the Federation's greatest enemy or billions will die.And oh does he need help. Captain Angel Taylor's going after the biggest salvage haul of her career. Fiercely independent, she joins up with Kirek, but she has her own plans---and they don't include him.
However, Kirek has a way of getting to a woman. Together Angel and Kirek cross the galaxy and you can join them on THE QUEST by watching their booktrailer at www.susankearney.com . I decided to try a booktrailer so readers would get a visual synopsis of the book and I was so pleased at the way this turned out. The spaceships is cool, the hero is yummy and after watching the booktrailer for just thirty seconds readers can get a feel for the book. Instead of reading about the story, you can see it.My publisher Tor came up with a fabulous cover and I'm so excited about this book. And even if you've never read a Susan Kearney book, you can start with THE QUEST and feel like part of the crew. As a kid I read Heinlein and Clark and I dreamed of what it would be like to actually go into space, visit other planets and see other cultures. And now I can do that---in my imagination. And I'm inviting you to come along with me on THE QUEST where the men are bold and the women more than hold their own.
After reading my books, readers frequently ask me how I thought up the "suit," which is technology left by an ancient race that allows my characters to go into space or underwater without special equipment. The suit is run by psi power and it clothes, washes and keeps out viruses and bacteria as well as translates language. Why did I create the suit? It started because I really don't like to describe clothing and it just evolved into part of my Universe.I often wish I had a suit of my own. And several readers have written to ask me where they could buy one. Sorry. So far the suit is strictly from my imagination. However if you read THE QUEST, you too can imagine having one of your own. But even better you can have my best hero yet. Kirek is fun-loving and has a genius IQ and of course he has a Warrior's body, too.
If you'd like to meet him, please go to www.susankearney.com or pick up Susan Kearney's THE QUEST


More authors to post soon!

I have a few more authors in the coming soon menu on the left.

Look for Deborah MacGillivray to post July 13.

Carly Phillips to post August 2.

Elizabeth Sinclair to post August 4.

Sandy Blair to post October 25.


Kathleen Eagle and Karen Fenech to post in November.


Coming up

Don't forget, this Wednesday, Susan Kearney will be posting about the Spark that ignited THE QUEST.

And on the 30th, JA Konrath will be the guest blogger here at The Idea Boutique!



During a chat at a book signing last weekend, I received some shocking insight as to where I get my ideas. A reader asked, “So how long have you been channeling?”

Okay, so she took me by surprise, but I do tend to get scenes, settings and plots from dreams, and during that drifty time before sleeping or waking. Ideas come in hoards in antique shops and used bookstores, sparks I have to write down. I also get flashes at historical tourist spots. Maybe I am channeling. But I also get my ideas from people-watching, while driving, showering, floating in a pool, listening. Heck, I take my muse wherever I can get it.

Talk about channeling, the first of my witch series came to me in Salem Massachusetts inspired by a shop called The Kitchen Witch. Suddenly I thought that a Salem TV Cooking show starring a woman who couldn’t cook would be fun. Mind you, I’d never written a contemporary, but that was how I became an accidental witch-writer. My Favorite Witch, the sequel, fit like a glove into a previously inspired idea for a consortium of Newport Mansions that support a boys’ home.

I often get my hero or heroine fully formed then I have to find his or her nemesis. Logan, the reformed bad boy became the perfect match for the sassy, sexy Melody Seabright in The Kitchen Witch. Logan knew the minute he saw Melody that she was the kind of woman who could knock him back on his bad-boy ass.

Melody’s friend Kira needed a strong man with a big but hidden heart in My Favorite Witch. Enter Jason the NHL Hockey player, on leave for an injured knee, who has a soft spot for the boys’ home and would do anything for the grandmother who raised him . . . even work with a spell-casting, penis-withering witch.

Scoundrel in Disguise started in a used bookstore with a title: Puppets through Sussex. Here, I have a 19th century puppeteer play matchmaker to the children he watched grow up. I paired him with an idea born on an autumn drive. The matchmaker knows that Jade badly needs a new man of affairs and Marcus needs a place to stay in Sussex, so Marcus applies for the job. Their real goals are more complicated and known only to them. Marcus needs to investigate the accidents keeping his crippled brother’s railroad from going through, or hundreds of families will lose their living. Jade needs to stop the railroad, or she’ll lose her home for battered women and the women and children in her care will be homeless. Along the way Jade discovers that all men aren’t created equal; some of them might be good.
Scoundrel in Disguise, Kitchen Witch, and My Favorite Witch are on sale now at your favorite bookstore. Look for The Scot, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in bookstores Dec 2006.


In August....

Look for author Carly Phillips to post on her upcoming release, CROSS MY HEART, August 2 at The Idea Boutique.


June Contributors

Still to come in the last half of June:

Annette Blair (22nd), Susan Kearney (28th) & JA Konrath (30th)



Sometimes ideas come to me – boom – fully formed. Sometimes I get a seedling – just a character or a situation -- and have to water and grow it to “see” the rest of the story. That’s what happened with Enslave Me Sweetly. I had to do a lot of watering.

When I first sat down to write Enslave Me Sweetly, I decided to write about a new heroine (not Mia Snow from the first alien huntress book, Awaken Me Darkly) because I had a germ of an idea about alien slavers and Mia was too busy searching for Halflings to solve this case. So Eden Black, alien assassin, was born. Here's a secret: Originally I envisioned this new heroine paired with the ultra sexy Dallas (Mia’s partner) from Awaken Me Darkly.

I had absolutely no trouble writing the opening of that book. I did, however, have many problems when the two main characters finally met in chapter three (I think it was). There was no chemistry for them or for me and I began to dread writing the book. But I was determined.

Still. I let my editor know what was going on and she suggested I try a new hero. I dragged my feet a little on that because in my mind, I still thought I could force Eden and Dallas to click. But I told my editor, “I’ll think about it.”

And I did. That night I lay in bed, wondering what type of man could make the proud, determined Eden sit up and take notice. Very clearly, a rough male voice said in my mind, “Uh, I could.” Enter Lucius Adaire, a hard-ass slayer who found the idea of a female assassin “amusing”.

You know what? Eden did sit up and took notice. Immediately. They sparred all night long and I wrote as much as I could – it was hard to keep up – down. All of it made it into the book. To be honest, it was some of the best dialogue I’d ever written.

The story flowed smoothly from that point on, pretty much writing itself. Maybe one day I’ll post those few chapters I wrote with Eden and Dallas. But maybe not. Lucius might kill me. He's her man, not Dallas.

Nowadays I’m very careful not to force my ideas onto the characters, but to let them lead to me wherever they want to go. Makes my life a whole lot easier.
Coming soon from Gena: (July 2006) Oh My Goth! & Mysteria. (September 2006) Playing With Fire


Sabrina Jeffries - To Pleasure a Prince

For me, there's never ONE idea for a book. It's more like throwing pieces of junk silver into a crucible, melting them down, sifting out the dross, and then pouring what's left into a mold. I take a piece that interests me here, combine it with something there, and then voila, jewelry! (And occasionally ugly jewelry, but then I have to start over).

In other words, To Pleasure a Prince was composed in parts. I honestly don't remember where I got the idea for the part about Guy 1 letting Guy 2 court his sister if Guy 2 would let Guy 1 do the same. I'm sure something sparked it, but whatever it was has vanished into the mists of time (getting old does that to you).

But other parts of it I remember very well. First of all, there was the whole Royal Brotherhood thing, which was sparked by a royal bastard character in Dangerous to Love by Rexanne Becnel (my critique partner). I always wanted her to write the royal bastard's story, and she never did. So when I started thinking about having half-brothers connected by one mother with different fathers, lightning struck and suddenly I combined the two ideas into a series idea for bastard half-brothers of the Prince of Wales. Once I hit upon THAT, I combined it with the idea I'd already had for the Guy 1/Guy 2 story.

Then I started doing research on the Prince of Wales. And that's when I stumbled across the info that sparked the part about Draker's parents' relationship. I learned that a few of Prinny's mistresses had husbands who just stood by while he carried on with their wives. So I asked myself how a child of that mess would react, especially if the child happened to LIKE the guy who was acting as his father. Who would he side with? How would he feel about Prinny (his real father)? How would he feel about his mother?

And that's how I developed Draker as the outcast bastard of the bunch (royal bastards generally had it pretty good, so an outcast was not as obvious as you'd think).

THAT led to the last part, Regina's dyslexia. For purposes of conflict, I figured I'd pair Draker with the perfect society woman. But I didn't want her to be too perfect or why would she bother with him? So I decided to give her a secret handicap that made her feel vulnerable around him while at the same time helped her sympathize with his situation as an outcast. Once I decided that, it just remained for me to decide what her handicap should be. It had to be something that she could keep secret, something that no one knew much about at the time but that readers would recognize from a description. Voila, dyslexia.

So there you go. A lot of pieces/parts, and a very winding road to a plot and characters for a book. Aren't you sorry you asked?



Up Coming


Sabrina Jeffries will be posting on June 9

and Silhouette Desire author Bronwyn Jameson will be posting on August 8

Be sure to visit us then.



RESTORE MY HEART - Medallion Press, March 2007

Several ideas converged to produce the brainstorm that became Restore My Heart. Being a tomboy, I always showed more interest in the combustible engine than any of my girlfriends. While they read magazines about lip gloss and nail polish, I read my dad’s latest copy of Popular Mechanics. The idea of an auto mechanic heroine wasn’t new to me, but the movie My Cousin Vinny, reinforced it. Loved that scene where Marisa Tomei shot down the General Motors expert in the courtroom!

Forgive the automotive analogy, but that was the spark of the story idea. I knew I wanted my heroine to know a lot more about cars than the hero. I also knew she’d be a diamond-in-the-rough, a lovely woman beneath the grease and brake fluid. I knew her name was Sally (inspired by Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally) and that she drives a 1964½ Mustang, the one with the 260 V-8 engine. But I didn’t know the story yet.

I love mysteries, though. Love to read ‘em, love to write ‘em. So I needed a set-up for my heroine to do some amateur sleuthing. But what? While attending an old car convention with my husband in 1999, I got my first glimpse of two classics that are now my favorites (along with the Ford Mustang): the Graham Paige and the Kaiser Darrin. I’ll save the Graham Paige for another book, but for Restore My Heart the rare Kaiser Darrin was perfect. Would it be valuable enough to make someone kill for it?

OK, research time. Speaking at a conference I attended, novelist Lisa Gardner said she researches first, then her plots come out of the research. It proved true for me with Restore My Heart. I consulted with Art Griffin, who not only judges car shows for the Antique Automobile Association but also the Kaiser-Fraser Owners Club International. He gave me several real-life scenarios for fraud and crime in the world of collectible cars. But if I tell you about them here, you won’t read my book. J Needless to say, his input gave me lots of plot ideas!

Although my research was far from over, I had my mystery idea and my heroine. Now I needed to match her up with a challenging hero. Joe Desalvo knows the investment world so well that he’s being promoted to vice president in his firm. His snappy clothes and polish make him
the perfect foil for grease monkey Sally, especially considering he’s clueless about cars. His father’s death is the vehicle (Sorry!) that brings the two together as an unlikely pair of sleuths. He’s GQ model-material, she’s at home with a torque wrench. Can these two find common ground and fall in love? Hey, it’s a romance! What do you think?

Spark, compression, ignition, and I was rolling! I enjoyed writing Restore My Heart because, in a way, I was a kid again playing with cars. Maybe that’s the secret to its sale. Yes, it’s a murder mystery, but I had a lot of fun with it. I hope you do, too.

Visit Cheryl's blog at http://cherylnorman.blogspot.com


Jolie Mathis on THE SEA KING

My ideas are almost always inspired by artwork and music. In the case of THE SEA KING, the first creative flash appeared while viewing Gustav Klimt’s THE KISS (with Clannad’s haunting I WILL FIND YOU playing in the background!). What intrigued me was how Klimt portrayed the man’s immense size, power and masculinity, but at the same time, shared a clandestine glimpse with the viewer into his one vulnerability: the woman he loved.

Despite being much smaller than him in size, she exerts an power of her own. Not a threatening power, per se, but one that makes her equal to him. He clearly treasures her, and she finds bliss in his touch. There’s a very sensual passion between them, but the connection goes so much deeper than that. At least in my interpretation. I found the complexity of their emotions, beautiful.

And so, inspired by this, I began to create a story where two people were brought together under cruel circumstances, and where a deep bond was forged between them that had nothing to do with flirtation or sexual attraction, but rather survival. Despite their size, they are peers, and when they part from one another, it is with a deep, abiding respect.

And then I brought them back together, a few years later, into a situation where despite their soul-deep bond, and their newly discovered attraction toward one other -- they could never find happiness. Because despite the beauty of THE KISS, there’s something that reads bittersweet to me, as if this time together just might be their last. My hero, Kol, is doomed to die. How would such a man treasure his soul mate, if he discovered her only as his time in this life grew short?

Jolie Mathis’s debut novel, THE SEA KING, will be a June 6th Berkley Sensation release. To learn more about her, visit www.joliemathis.com