Today's Post

Sorry folks. Today's post has been canceled.

But please come back September 1 (Friday) when Julie Leto will be our guest blogger.


Playing with Fire - Gena Showalter

Early one morning, someone asked me what I’d sell my soul for.
My reply: superpowers.
I mean, really. Who wouldn’t kill for superpowers? Later
that day, I was driving home from the bookstore and started thinking…always a dangerous thing. My mind began to race with questions. I’d sell my soul for superpowers, sure, but which one? What would I do with the power? What would happen to me? I mulled over all of that.
Finally I settled on power over the 4 elements (fire, water, earth, wind), I’d try to take over the world, of course, and when the world learned of my ability, the government
would probably want to take me down or use me.

That’s when the idea for PLAYING WITH FIRE was born: an ordinary, average woman develops unexpected superpowers. Two different para-agencies find out and race to capture her. She doesn’t want to take over the world, but she does want to survive it – which means she has to learn to use her powers
(without setting the world on fire). And so, her only hope for survival becomes sexy government agent Rome Masters – a man with many secrets of his own. Is he helping her, or does he plan to double-cross her?

I had so much fun writing this book and fell in love with each and every one of the characters. Of all my books, I think I’d like to live in this alternate world most. A world where paranormal secret societies do exist. A world where the X-Men-type characters aren’t just from comic books. A world where anything can happen, and everything usually does.

I tried to ground the book in as much reality as possible. How would an average person react to developing superpowers? How would the rest of the world react? I hope you'll join me on this fiery journey and find out!


Marjorie M. Liu

When I write, it is an unconscious exercise that requires a certain degree of conscious control. Or in other words, everything inside my brain - all the accumulated experiences of my life -are there for the picking, ripe and ready to go. With, admittedly, a certain degree of exaggeration. I do not, after all, know any shape-shifters or very handsome psychics. Not that it matters. The key to telling stories - as with everything in life - is the execution. And in the case of DARK DREAMERS, the writing of the novella was a very intense experience.

Before I wrote DARK DREAMERS I had been doing a lot of research on the immense problem of child trafficking for the international sex trade - a flourishing market that every year sees at least one million children sold for sexual purposes. And though I did not plan on writing this particular novella on that subject,when I sat down at my desk, that is what came out, in a burst of energy that was like a glove thrown down inside my head, beginning with the image of a child locked in a basement, with no one to help her, and not a single person aware that she was missing. Which happens to more children in this world than anyone cares to think about.

DARK DREAMERS almost wrote itself after that, and despite the fantastical characters - a disembodied gargoyle and a detective capable of seeing the future - the heart of the novella is that trapped little girl, and how no matter how powerless you might feel, there is always a way to stand up for yourself and others, even if by doing so you must make terrible sacrifices.


In August

August has been a busy month for me, so the scheduling here at The Idea Boutique isn't as tight as I'd like. But that doesn't mean I don't have great things in store this month!

On August 22 - Marjorie M Liu is coming

On August 29 - Gena Showalter will be back to talk about her upcoming release Playing with Fire

and on August 30 - Kelly Mcclymer will be joining us for the first time.


Sandra Schwab - Betrayal

BETRAYAL is the story of Georgina Crawley, who, years ago, fled from England and all she held dear. For the sake of her child, she now returns to confront the man whom she once loved more than life itself until lies and deceit tore her life and marriage apart. Where did I get the idea for BETRAYAL? I blame it all on Christina Dodd, a children's novel, and Italian churches striped like zebras.

Months ago I already knew that in all probability I wouldn't have a new book out in 2006, but still, I wanted to bring something new to my readers as well as say thank you for their support during my first year of published authordom. When I heard about podcasting earlier this year, this seemed to me the perfect vehicle for a thank-you gift to readers: wouldn't it be terribly exciting to do something like a serialized audio-book, which readers could download for free? But – which story should I take?

This is where Christina Dodd and IN MY WILDEST DREAMS comes in: I really liked the idea of paying homage to a favourite movie or novel, and the first novel that came to my mind was DAS DOPPELTE LOTTCHEN by Erich Kästner, one of my favourite children's novels (it has appeared on US screens as THE PARENT TRAP). It's the story of twin girls who were separated shortly after birth when their parents divorced, and who meet quite by accident in a summer camp several years later and decide to switch places. After many trials and tribulations, the crafty girls manage to unite their parents and bring their story to a happy ending. The novel, of course, focusses on the little girls, but wouldn't this also make a wonderful romance?

Now, since I write historicals I had to change the plot a little – after all, divorces in the early 19th century were even uglier than today, and divorced women normally didn't have access to their children. Furthermore, little girls were not sent to summer camps; instead young men were sent on the Grand Tour to admire the splendours of Italy. Years ago I visited Italy myself, and of all the Italian splendours I remember the cathedral of Siena most vividly: it's striped like a zebra! And – voilà – there was my first sentence: "Tuscany – where the summers are dry and hot and taste of herbs and olives and the heavy sweetness of dark wine; where the most famous artists of Europe have left their traces in old palaces and in churches striped like zebras."

Read an excerpt from BETRAYAL on my website (www.sandraschwab.com/BETRAYAL.htm) and come to my podcast (www.podchatter.libsyn.com) on 19 August to listen to the first episode.


Brenda Novak - Dead Silence

So many people ask me where I come up with the ideas behind my books. When I first started writing, I had ONE idea. It was THE idea--basically the theme behind OF NOBLE BIRTH, my first book--and I had no clue how writers came up with a second, third, fourth story. But then something happened. As I began to write daily, my mind started sifting information in a different way. I was constantly putting out feelers, listening, asking myself "what if?" I found that the well for ideas is actually very deep so long as I keep living a balanced life. If I stop doing the things I enjoy--reading, traveling, going out with friends, staying involved with my kids, my muse begins to wither. That's interesting, isn't it? It tells me that I have to keep feeding that little fountain of creativity inside myself or it will run dry.

I came up with the idea behind DEAD SILENCE while I was attending a national writing conference. I knew I wanted to do three connected books, and I wanted them to be full of pulse-pounding suspense and edge-of-your-seat drama. This was a calculated decision because romantic suspense was something I loved and was selling well. But how to create three connected books that were each riveting in their own right?

I started fleshing out the idea behind the trilogy by establishing the central conflict, which is how I usually build a book. I wanted the heroine to be hiding something that was so horrible it had affected her whole life--and the lives of her siblings. And I wanted it to impact her current situation as much as her past, so that the conflict would be real and easy to sustain throughout the novel. To do that, I put the body of her stepfather in the backyard, and I gave her a good reason for knowing what had happened to him and for hiding it.

From there I chose the setting. I wanted something moody and atmospheric--someplace in the backwoods that wasn't the least progressive. I went on a research trip and picked a nice spot, then created my own fictional town in Mississippi so that it could be whatever I wanted it to be. Then the characters started to people the town and to reveal themselves. I guess this process was a bit like, "If you build it, they will come." LOL I built the conflict and the town, and then the characters began to talk to me. One voice was louder than the others, more interesting. That was the voice of Clay Montgomery. After twenty-five books, he's my favorite character. I don't know that I've ever created a stronger, sexier more heroic protagonist. Grace, his sister, turned out to be a very worthy heroine in her own right. The heroine of the third book, Madeline, is the stepsister to Clay and Grace and has a whole new perspective on the missing Reverend Barker.

It was a fascinating trilogy to write. It was difficult because the plots were so large and intertwined, but definitely rewarding. Now I'm trying to come up with a good idea for my next suspense trilogy. I'm thinking Louisiana might make a nice setting...

DEAD SILENCE, ON SALE JULY 26TH!There's a body buried behind a Mississippi farmhouse...Visit www.brendanovak.com to download a coupon for $1.00 off the purchase of this book!



My August book, THE BOUGHT-AND-PAID-FOR-WIFE, is part of an editor-conceived continuity for Silhouette Desire, Secret Lives of Society Wives. This means I was given the story idea or premise, the setting, the characters, their conflict and shared backstory, their place within the larger scope of the series, and a short synopsis of how my book should play out.

This may sound as though the author brings nothing to a continuity, but that is not the case. There are still a lot of holes to fill in the brief synopsis and there is scope for author input into how the story will be told. So, here is what I plucked from my idea boutique for THE BOUGHT-AND-PAID-FOR WIFE...

The Secret Lives of Society Wives series is set in an uber-posh Connecticut community and I must say it was a ton of fun researching my heroine's home and creating detail for the society wedding celebrated at the exclusive Eastwick Country Club. I also needed a temporary home for my hero and invented the Hotel Marabella, setting for several key scenes, and also the charity benefit polo match.

But the biggest ingredient I brought to this book was my hero. Although Tristan Thorpe was born in Connecticut, he grew up and has lived all his adult life in Australia. He has the accent, he has the attitude, and to top it all off nicely I gave him a background as a former professional footballer. We're talking Australian football, a sport populated by tall, well-built, rugged, athletic men in short shorts and sleeveless jumpers (see picture.) There is a lot to like about Australian football, including those biceps. *g*

Aesthetics aside, I fell in love with the idea of an adolescent American lad ripped from the homeland and transplanted into a new country and a strange school community at a time when he is most vulnerable. Tristan would not only have strived to fit in and tackle the locals at their own sport, he'd have vowed be learn the game, to train and practice until he was the best.

Through his success--I imagined headlines of the American-born Australian-football legend--he gained acceptance and an entree into the business world. In my book he returns to his birthplace of Eastwick, Connecticut, as a self-made man. He returns to the home where he lived the first twelve years of his life and to all the memories that engenders...especially when he is bowled over by an unexpected and forbidden attraction for his father's widow.

Read an excerpt from The Bought-And-Paid-For Wife at my website and visit my blog later this week for a chance to win a copy in my HAPPY BLOGDAY giveaways.


Once Upon a Wedding Night - Sophie Jordan

The inspiration for ONCE UPON A WEDDING NIGHT is a bit sketchy for me. I had the idea for the book for so long, lurking in my mind for years before I wrote it, that I forget what first motivated the story's somewhat unconventional premise.

Hmmm, let me retrace the best I can …

I married shortly after college. In fact, the morning after returning home from my honeymoon, I reported to my first “real job” teaching 10th grade English. For the next three years I focused on work, on teaching literature to others, but in the back of my mind lingered a desire to write, to create books with stories and words that could leave their own unique impact. I taught a lot of tragic stories: Julius Caesar, Antigone, Elie Wiesel’s Night. This took its toll. Imagine reading passages of these works six times a day for five days a week. I wanted to write a story where a tragic figure actually got her happy ending -- the story of someone brought low who actually finds love, security and that oh-so-elusive happily ever after. Such figures pull at my heartstrings. I’m so much more gratified when a drop-dead sexy hero becomes irresistibly drawn to a heroine nearly broken by life … nearly but not quite. She’s heroine material, after all, because of the very fact that life has not succeeded in breaking her.

So, a premise for a novel gradually took shape. This premise focused on the plight of the heroine (as most of my books, I’ve learned, do). Meredith is all that is tragic – yet no Antigone to go “gentle into that good night”. Neglected and overlooked for most of her life by her father, her community, and later her husband, she meets all my necessary criteria for a sad figure. And by sad, I don’t mean someone weak and pathetic who sits around and bemoans her lot in life. Meredith, if you recall, is indomitable … even though I heap plenty of grief upon her. I widow her and leave her penniless with dependants -- an elderly father and a somewhat dotty aunt. Having suffered much, Meredith is a consummate survivor. With the help of her aunt, she invents a desperate scheme in the hopes of keeping her home.

I had to claw through my mind to come up with a hero that would be a suitable match for such a bold heroine. Although Nick was not in my head at the beginning, he turned out to be, in many ways, more tormented than Meredith. A bad-boy of London, this hero is too sexy for his own good and thoroughly opposed to loving any lady – the heroine, in particular … but I don’t want to give away too much of the story. If you want to learn more of Meredith’s desperate scheme, you’ll have to read ONCE UPON A WEDDING NIGHT! It is a rather unconventional regency-sey romance -- at least that's what it is being "touted" as. Also, check out my “physical” inspirations for Nick and Meredith on my Bookshelf page on my website: http://www.sophiejordan.net/.
I must say, Nick is quite yummy. While you’re also there, check out my physical “inspirations” for my next book, TOO WICKED TO TAME. More yumminess! Now I can distinctly recall the inspiration behind that book … perhaps in March I’ll confess those details.

Chat later!


Baptism in Fire - Elizabeth Sinclair

Okay, I confess . . . I was the little kid waving the flag and shouting at the firemen as they pranced by at every Memorial Day parade. But I had good reason. My dad, brothers and grandfather were among those brave men who walked into the face of danger at every fire, and I thought of them as my own personal heroes. I wanted to be one of them when I grew up.

Back then, a female firefighter was about as impossible as putting a man on the moon. But then, eventually, both came to be not only possible, but also accepted. However, by that time, I had come to my senses and realized that becoming a fireman was more than getting to ride on those snazzy red trucks and play with the Dalmatian mascot. It was a dangerous, sometimes fatal job.

Yup, I'm a coward, but I have the utmost respect for those who are not. So instead of becoming a fireman myself, I chose to write about them in the person of my heroine, Rachel Sutherland, and her friend, Samantha Ellis. So, F.I.S.T. (Fire Investigation Special Team) was born and out of that came my August Silhouette Intimate Moments, BAPTISM IN FIRE.

I have to also confess that going into writing this book, I thought I knew about firemen, but I had no idea how much I didn't know. Thanks to some wonderful firefighters who generously gave of their expertise, I learned intricacies such as referring to the platform on a tower truck as a "cherry picker" is NOT cool or that cleaning a fireman's helmet is an insult that relegates him to greenhorn status.

In fact, I learned so much, that I have more than enough for more F.I.S.T. books. So, keep an eye out for more flames, more action and more very brave women who fight the blaze and risk their lives for all of us every day.
(Also out from Elizabeth this month - Eye of the Dream)



Kassey from Florida.

Congrats to Kassey for winning Carly Phillips' giveaway!



I write two books a year, so the fact that I have a hardcover out in August is no surprise to my readers. Of course, I hope new people will find my book and enjoy it. To that end, I spent the last year thinking about what kind of stories I’m giving readers for their hard earned money. Carly Phillips writes SEXY FUN. I’ve worked hard to establish this branding in the minds and hearts of those who read and enjoy my work. But I put out two books a year. One hardcover, one paperback. What am I doing to help a reader justify spending more money on a Carly Phillips book?

This was my dilemma. This was at the heart (no pun intended!) of CROSS MY HEART, the story of three childhood friends who become one another’s family. I decided to challenge myself in the writing of this book. To that end, I feel that I dug emotionally deeper into the hearts and minds of my main characters, Tyler Benson (Ty) and Lacey Kinkaid (born Lilly Dumont). I also decided to explore the concept of what makes a family and in this case, family is born not of blood, but of childhood experience and a bond that couldn’t be broken.

So what is CROSS MY HEART about?
Lacey is a rags to riches story . . . sort of. Because Lacey's harboring a secret—she was born Lillian Dumont, and spent her childhood with a silver spoon in her mouth. Until the deaths of her wealthy parents and the evil schemes of an abusive uncle placed her in foster care, where she met Ty and her other best friend, Daniel Hunter. The three friends faked her death instead of allowing her to return to her uncle’s care. She never planned to reclaim to her former life or her abandoned identity—but when Ty (her childhood sweetheart) resurfaces and urges her to claim her rightful inheritance, she decides that maybe being the Dumont heiress wouldn't be so bad. Lacey's uncle doesn't see it that way, though—and he's willing to do anything to stop her. Now it's up to Ty to protect and see what the future holds for a past love.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Carly Phillips story without some light moments, brought to you courtesy of Digger the Dog, the canine star of CROSS MY HEART. Some of you may know by now, most Carly Phillips stories have an animal star. For example:

Under the Boardwalk – Spank the Capuchin monkey
Summer Lovin’ – Ima Pig
Cross My Heart – Digger the Dog
The Hot Zone Series – Noodle the Labradoodle

Yes, I love animals. And coming up in SEALED WITH A KISS, the SEQUEL to CROSS MY HEART, due out next summer (August 2007) is a mouthy macaw/parrot named Ollie. Ollie’s namesake is Colonel Oliver North. Maybe next year I’ll fill you in on his story. But for now, just know that SEALED WITH A KISS will bring you Hunter and Molly’s story, secondary characters in CROSS MY HEART. And like CROSS MY HEART, SEALED WITH A KISS also digs deep.

Digger the Dog happens to be a mutt who needed a home. Lacey found him digging in the garbage for food outside her NYC apartment and when nobody claimed her, Lacey took her in. Because I’m so excited to be here at THE IDEA BOUTIQUE, I am GIVING AWAY a DIGGER and a signed copy of the CARLY PHILLIPS book of the winner’s choice – winner chosen at random from everyone who posts here today.

If you’d like to read more about me, visit my newly designed website at: www.carlyphillips.com where I run a monthly contest, where you can sign up for my newsletter, and join my Fan Group where friends, readers and I gather to chat. And if you’re a blog lover, you can find me at http://www.plotmonkeys.com/.

Thanks for visiting me here!



Shared World Anthologies by Joy V Smith

With a shared world, your ideas are handed to you on a plate, more or less. When I was invited to join the Magistria (fantasy) series, I knew it was a world of sorcerers, which began with a goddess/star exploding into a multitude of pieces which scattered everywhere... The editor had a list of sorcerer types, and I picked plants. Yes! A plant mage!! I've written stories with sentient and genetically engineered plants. I love them! My first story--for Magistria: Realm of the Sorcerer--was Seedlings (plants and children). My second story--for Magistria: Shards of the Goddess--was Crystal Quest, which built on the first story.

For another shared world anthology, Tales from the Big Black (SF), again I had the background with all of space to work in... My story for Volume I (not yet published) is Cold New Planet; the second story (not yet finished) is Gridlock, which builds on the first story and focuses on the colonizing of the planet.


Joy V. Smith has been writing stories since she was a kid. Her stories have been published in print magazines, webzines, and anthologies; and her SF has been published in two audiobooks, including Sugar Time. Her recent non-fiction includes her book, Building a Cool House for Hot Times without Scorching the Pocketbook and an interview with Lyn McConchie. She lives in Florida on a registered backyard wildlife habitat with Xena the Warrior Puppy.