What Do You Think of Book Reading Challenges? *UPDATED*

I've seen some very cool and interesting book challenges over the past year and have a few ideas for one or two that I might like to host, but I wanted to get YOUR feedback and opinion on reading challenges.
  • Do you like Book Reading Challenges?
  • Have you ever participated in one?
  • If not, why not?
  • If so, what was the best part of doing it?
  • Would you be more interested in a year-long challenge, or smaller monthly or quarterly challenges?
I'd also love to hear any tips on what you think would make a Book Reading Challenge fun and even your ideas for what challenge topic you would be interested in.

Please share because I'd really love to know!

Cheeky Girl Sabrina

Many of you have asked what exactly I mean by a reading challenge so I thought I should give you some examples of what I was thinking about. Duh. I should have thought of that from the beginning.

Here are some possible ideas for a reading challenge:
  • New to You Romance Authors - Read x Books by Authors you've never read before
  • Ebook Reading Challenge - Challenge yourself to trying out ebooks and new small epublishers
  • Harlequin Challenge - Try out 1 book from every category line for 2011. This would not only challenge you to try various different sub-genres of romance, but for many it would be a challenge to give Harlequins a try.
 These were a few of my ideas...what do you think?

Monday Morning Cutess!

funny pictures - Best of both worlds.
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Happy Holidays & here's to hoping you all get great books or gift cards under your tree! Be safe and spend time with those you love.

CheekyGirl Sabrina

Show a Zombie Some Love with Guest Author Paige Tyler


Thanks so much for letting me guest blog today!

Readers often ask me how I come up with ideas for my books, so I thought I'd give you a little behind-the-scenes peek at how I came up with my new release, a paranormal erotic romance from Ellora's Cave called DEAD SEXY.

Before I say anything else though, isn't that cover too hot for words?! When the art department sent it to me, I probably gazed at it for a good ten minutes in mouth-drooling appreciation before I could email them back telling the artist it not only rocked, but totally fit the book. The hero is "Dead Sexy," after all!

Okay, back to the story and how I came up with it. First, to set the stage, I need to share a little something with you about myself. Well, about my hubby and me, actually. We love zombie movies, from the George Romero gems to Shaun of the Dead and everything in between, including "Walking Dead," the new series on AMC. You just can't go wrong with a movie full of walking dead people, can you? Well, if you've ever seen a zombie movie (or even you haven't), then you know the creatures aren't the heroes of the film. I mean, how can they be, right? They're all dead and decayed and downright unattractive, not to mention pretty damn scary. Which was why you can imagine my surprise when my hubby suggested I write an erotic romance about a zombie hero. I was like, you're kidding, right? What woman in her right mind would fall in love with a dead guy? No way could that possibly work, or so I thought.

Turns out, my hubby wasn't kidding. In fact, he started working up ideas for the story.

"The hero didn't have to be a zombie all the time," he told me. "Think outside the box - take a little literary license!"

Okay, I thought. I suppose I could be open minded.

My hubby told me that in his out-of-the-box world, the hunky hero got cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess and only turns into a zombie sometimes.

"I'm listening," I said.

"And when he does go zombie, he doesn't have to be like the kind in the movies," my hubby added. "Well, he has to look like one, you know all dead and stuff, but he doesn't have to be a mindless creature or attack humans or eat anything gross."

So, brains are completely out, thanks goodness!

"Think Jensen Ackles or Jared Padelecki, with a really, really, really dark tan - (yes, my hubby knows I've got a thing for the Supernatural hunks!) - well, maybe more gray and black than tan, but you get the idea."

I thought about that for a minute. "So, the hero's dead, but he's still sexy, is that what you're saying?"

"Exactly," he said, giving me a grin as my eyes lit up with understanding.

By that point, my hubby had pretty much sold me on the idea. Of course, I knew if I ran with it, I was going to have to sell it to a publisher, and I knew that could be tough since the hero is a zombie. But I ran with it anyway and ended up with a full-length novel. And it came out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself! I still had to find a publisher for it, though.

About this same time, It just so happens that several of my other books were in the process of being picked up by Ellora's Cave and I thought what the heck? Why not pitch it to my editor there and see what she thinks? So I did, and she told me to send it to her. She was interested to see how I handled the whole zombie-thing. Well, long story, short, she liked it. A lot! My zombie romance with it's dead-sexy hero had a home! I was thrilled and my hubby walked around for a week with a smug, "I-told-you-so" look on his face.

I've been getting the word out there about DEAD SEXY ever since I signed the contract for it and I'm thrilled with the interest from readers who can't wait to get their hands on it! I can't wait for them to read it, too!

Now that I've revealed the story behind the story, I thought I'd share the blurb and an excerpt just to whet your appetite for more!


Romance author Simone Kent thinks she might just have found the most perfect guy in all of New York City - in bed and out. But Drake Parrish is about as far from perfect as any man can get. Eight years ago, he was cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess to live part of his life as a zombie. Since then, he has lived like a recluse on New York’s Upper East Side, afraid to go out for fear he’ll suddenly turn into one of the walking dead.

The sex is the hottest either of them has ever experienced and Simone discovers just how naughty she can be with Drake, while he finds himself feeling things for her that he hasn’t felt in a very long time. When the Voodoo priestess learns of their relationship, however, she comes after him again. She is determined to make sure he won’t have a future with Simone, even if that means killing both him and the woman he loves.


As she led him up the steps to the second floor, Drake found himself wondering if she would ask him in. And wondering what he’d say if she did. When they came to a stop outside the door to her apartment, Simone turned to give him a smile.

"I had a great time tonight.”

“Me, too.”

She caught her bottom lip between her perfect white teeth and chewed on it thoughtfully as if unsure what she wanted to say next. It was probably an unconscious gesture, something she did whenever she was thinking, but to him, it was sexy as hell and all he could think about was kissing her.

Surely, one kiss couldn’t hurt. He desperately wanted to. He hadn’t kissed a woman in so long. It would be nice to see if he still remembered how.

Before he could stop himself, Drake tilted Simone’s face up to his and pressed his mouth to hers.

She tasted just as sweet and delicious as he thought she would. Her lips were soft and pliant under his as she kissed him back, her tongue eagerly seeking his out.

Drake groaned and slid his hand into her hair, deepening the kiss. Simone sighed into his mouth, running her hands up the front of his shirt to grasp his shoulders. The feel of her touch was like a tonic to his deprived soul and he let out another groan, deeper this time.

He ran his free hand up her side and around to her breast, cupping it through the soft material of her dress. He couldn’t stop himself and apparently, Simone didn’t want him to. She moaned and arched against him. He could feel the heat of her pussy through their clothes as she pressed up against his hard cock. Damn, she felt good.

Drake drew her bottom lip into his mouth and gently suckled on it before slowly kissing his way along the delicate curve of her jaw. Simone clutched his shoulders and tilted her head back. He eagerly trailed a path of hot kisses down her neck, then back up, his mouth finding hers again. Simone looped her arms around his neck, pulling him in even closer as their tongues met.

Down the hall, a door slammed, reminding him where they were.

Drake dragged his mouth away from hers, his breathing ragged as he tried to regain control. He had to get it together because he was about five seconds away from doing something really stupid. Like taking her to bed. “I should go.”

Her lips curved into a sexy, flirtatious smile. “Or you could stay.”

God, how he wanted to. But as much as he’d love to spend the rest of the night exploring every inch of her body, he couldn’t take the chance he might go zombie on her right in the middle of sex. Talk about coitus interruptus, And it had already been almost four days since he last turned, which meant he was already pushing his luck.

“You don’t know how much I want to,” he groaned. “But I can’t.”

Simone looked up at him with those big, blue eyes. “Why not?”

“Because I…” He hesitated, trying to come up with something that would sound believable. “I have a column due in the morning and I haven’t even started on it yet.” She knew all about deadlines, so she would understand that. Besides, he did have a column to write, it just wasn’t due until next week. “Rain check?”
She looked disappointed, but she smiled anyway. “Absolutely. How does coming over for dinner tomorrow night sound?”

It would be crazy to agree when he could be so close to having an episode, but he couldn’t say no. Not when she asked in that soft, sultry voice. “Sounds great.”

“Good. Be here at seven.”

“Seven it is.”

She pulled him down for another long, slow kiss on the mouth. “Don’t be late.”

His mouth twitched. “I won’t.” He bent his head to kiss her again, then groaned. “If I don’t go now, I’ll be here all night.”

Simone laughed. “Would that be such a bad thing?”

“Not to me, but my editor at Money Issues might not be too understanding when he doesn’t find my column sitting in his inbox tomorrow.”

She sighed. “Deadlines can be a real pain in the butt sometimes. Okay, go home and write your column. I’ll cuddle up with a bowl of ice cream instead.”

He chuckled. “Sounds better than taking a cold shower, which is what I’m going to be doing when I get home.” He closed his mouth over hers once more. “See you tomorrow night, beautiful.”

Resisting the urge to pull her into his arms again, Drake turned and walked down the hallway toward the stairwell. At the top of the steps, he glanced over his shoulder to see Simone standing where he’d left her, a sexy curve to her lips.

It took every ounce of strength he possessed not to go back and pin her against the door for one more long, lingering kiss. God, what he wouldn’t give to spend the night with her. Man, it was going to take more than a cold shower to get her out of his head.

Hope you enjoyed the excerpt and that you can't wait to read more! You can get DEAD SEXY from Ellora's Cave at http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-8917-50-dead-sexy.aspx

You can also check out the trailer here!

If you decide to pick up DEAD SEXY, let me know how you like it!


The Dreaded Plot Question with Guest Author Rebecca York

The Dreaded Plot Question with Rebecca York

One of the questions that comes up over and over in writers’ discussions is, “Do you plot first? Or do you just sit down and write?”

Of course, there’s not one right way to work. Each writer has to figure out what works best for her.

I have trained myself to write fast. My basic fiction method is to come up with an idea. I write a short synopsis (which I use to sell the book to an editor). I then work on fleshing out the synopsis--adding more plot details and more background about the characters. At some point, I usually stop and write two or three chapters. When I write the chapters, I get to know the characters better. Then I go back and work on the synopsis/narrative outline again. When I have the suspense plot and the emotional arc of the story worked out, I start writing the book--and write as fast as I can. When I come up with ideas that were better than the ones in the synopsis, I use them instead of the previous ideas.

With DAY OF THE DRAGON, I had a head start. I’d introduced the hero, dragon-shifter Ramsey Gallagher, in DRAGON MOON. He was a secondary character, but I fell in love with him and wanted to give him his own story. So when I started DAY OF THE DRAGON, I already knew him very well. Even so, those first three chapters were more difficult than usual. Ramsey had been through a terrible experience that had changed him in fundamental ways. My problem was dealing with his new weaknesses and still making him an appealing hero.

I used to take a long time writing a book, then a long time editing and polishing it. I've found that I can shorten the writing process considerably, but I still need to edit extensively.

I found out years ago that not doing a synopsis was a waste of time for me because it meant that I'd have to do a lot of rewriting. It's easier to change a 20-page synopsis than it is to rewrite a 300-page book.

I never have everything nailed down. My synopsis might say--and then they escape from the psychotic killer. When I get to that part of the book, I have to stop and think about how they do it.

In DAY OF THE DRAGON, I knew I wanted Ramsey and archaeologist Madison Dartmoor to go to several interesting locations. Where bad guys would try to kill them while they were falling in love and Ramsey was worrying about how Madison would react when she discovered his terrible secret.

They end up at the site of an ancient tomb in Peru. But I had no idea where that would be until I visited the country. Of course it was tempting to use Machu Picchu because it’s such a breathtaking site. But a lot of tourists go there, which wouldn’t have given Ramsey and Madison much privacy while they were making love and dodging bullets. After touring several locations, I decided to use Colca Canyon because it’s off the beaten path.

Ramsey and Madison have their main adventure in that dry desert where condors with ten-foot wingspans glide on the canyon thermals early in the morning. I didn’t even know a bird could have those giant wings until I visited the area. And I certainly didn’t know that a colca is a hole that ancient Indians dug in the side of a cliff as a burial or storage chamber.

I use both in DAY OF THE DRAGON. Also the nosebleed I got from the high altitude. And the poverty of the little towns we drove through with our guide, the bumpy roads, the colorful Indian costumes and the hotel where we stayed in Arequipa, the second largest city in Peru and the starting point for a trip to Colca Canyon.

With every book, I try to get as much of the plot down as I can before I start. But I always leave myself open for the interesting details that I’ll never know until I start researching.

And I love it when I come up with plot twists that leap out at me when I’m in the middle of the book. Even with an outline, writing for me is like slow reading. I’m getting it onto the screen so I’ll find out what really happened.

When you read, what aspects of the book do you enjoy most? Plot? Character? Setting? Or a combination of all the elements?

Read Chapter One of DAY OF THE DRAGON here.

A FREE Christmas Story Download!

Author Emily March has a FREE Christmas story download that introduces her new Eternity Springs, Colorado town - the setting of her new series.

From Emily:
"I loved the Callahans sense of humor, their strong sense of family, and their deep love for one another and the women in their lives. I've carried those same values to Eternity Springs. So, pour a glass of eggnog and cuddle up with A CALLAHAN CAROL. May it bring that special warmth of Christmas Spirit into your hearts this holiday season."

Click on the image below to head over to the page for the FREE download.

Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

Check Out The Fool's Gold Holiday Wishes Magazine

In one of the most creative and fun promos I've seen, author Susan Mallery has created an awesome holiday edition of a magazine centered around her newest series Fool's Gold. Not only is her Fool's Gold website one of the smartest and best ways I've ever come across an author connecting with readers (and getting them REALLY into a series), I always find that Susan is ahead of the pack with social media and online marketing so that she is constantly touching base and connecting with her readers.
That's why I was happy to share her Fool's Gold Holiday Wishes Magazine with you. You'll find cute articles about characters, fun ads for both Fool's Gold and real romance websites as well as fun drink and cookie recipes.

It's not too long, so take a minute for some holiday fun! Happy Holidays!

Apple iPad Affiliate Opportunity

So, this got passed along to me from a friend and as far as I can tell it's legit. Seems like this company really understands online and social media! So, if you are interested check it out. :)

No More Rack just launched a a 48 hour promo where if you "refer" 400 friends, they will send you an ipad by Christmas. The lowest prize you can get is a shuffle for only 35 friends.

How does it work? Sign up here http://www.nomorerack.com/?cr=74557 (affiliate link)

You'll get a free $10 credit to spend on whatever you want. There are Women's Buffalo Jeans (re $99) right now for only $20. Shipping is a flat rate of $2 so you can get them for only $12 shipped with your credit.

Anyway, getting back to the iPad. Go to the "invite friends" tab to get your referral link and post it to your blog. Your "friends" only need to enter an email address to sign up. That's it! They will get a $10 credit and you'll be 1 referral closer to an iPad for Christmas!

Here are the details:
When you hit your friend target, email us with your shipping address and the Apple products you qualify for at apple@nomorerack.com. We will have your Apple products delivered to your doorstep before Christmas!

There's no limit on the number of Apple products you can earn, so refer all the friends you like!

You can substitute an item for the equivalent of another in quantity. For example, if you refer 100 friends you can choose between an iPod Nano or 3 iPod Shuffles!

Act fast! Only friends referred between December 14th noon EST and December 16th noon EST (48 hours) will count towards this promotion!

- Friend registration must be a valid email address and cannot be fraudulently generated.
- If your friends were fraudulently generated, you will be disqualified from this promotion.
- No duplicated email addresses are allowed.
- Registered users cannot register again with a different email address.
- Only friends who register between December 14th noon EST and December 16th noon EST (48 hours) count towards this promotion.

And The Winners Are...

I'm back! The best part of my being back? That I get to pull the winners of all the great prizes we had while I was gone. Thank you again to all the fabulous authors who stopped by while I was out and kept the blog chugging along. You Rock!

So on to the winners!

The Winner of Lipstick on His Collar by Inez Kelly is Linda!

The winner of their choice of a backlist book from Cari Quinn is Sheree!

The winner of their choice of one of Loucinda McGary's books, The Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice, or The Wild Irish Sea, is Stella (Ex Libris)!

Lastly, the winner of a copy of both Lords of Passion and Mistress by Midnight is Danielle Gorman!

I will send out emails to everyone including details if you are being giving a choice between books on some of the giveaways. You can also reach me at cheekyreads @ gmail.com

Congrats and Happy Reading to All!

Welcome Guest Author Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe! Comment to Win!

Thanks so much to Sabrina for having me here on my never-ending promo journey. :) It seems like I just did all this, and I guess I did—the two of me (Maggie Robinson and Margaret Rowe) had books come out in May and June. Maggie’s fortunate enough to have a novella in Lords of Passion out now, and Mistress by Midnight releases December 28! Margaret has to wait until March 1, when Any Wicked Thing comes out. Whew! Craziness.

But completely lovely craziness for someone who is a typing class drop-out and suffers from carpal tunnel. I wonder how many words I’ve mis-typed in the seven years I’ve been writing, LOL. Turns out I should have listened to my father, even if he did think that women could only be teachers, nurses or secretaries. But I snuck out of the adult ed night typing class I enrolled in with my then-boyfriend to kiss in his Karmann Ghia convertible. I was a hopeless romantic even back then.

The role of women in society has changed a whole lot from my adult ed days, and even more so from the late Regency period I write about. As a woman of a certain age, I have trouble relating to the innocent ingĂ©nue making her debut, so most of my heroines have “a past,” or want to acquire one. Prudence Thorne from “Not Quite a Courtesan” in Brava’s Lords of Passion has been happily widowed and wants to see what all the fuss is about after witnessing the passion of her cousin’s new marriage. The dashing, disreputable hero Darius Shaw finds Pru to be a quick study who even teaches him a thing or two. Laurette Vincent in Mistress by Midnight knows what passion is and has tried to avoid it, but hero Desmond Ryland, Marquess of Conover, has other ideas and breaks every rule to get her back into his bed.

I’ve discovered a recurring theme for my books—mature heroines who’ve been hurt but discover “there’s still a little chicken left on that bone.” Craig Morgan’s country song may be 21st century, but it works pretty well for my 19th century characters.

Here’s my favorite verse:

“But it ain’t over until you say it is.
Don’t pour out your Coca-Cola if it’s still got a little bit of fizz,
Little bit of juke left in that jive,
Little bit of honey left in that hive,
There might not be a lot of roll left in that stone,
Still a little chicken left on that bone.”

Now in case you think I’m writing about absolutely ancient, decrepit people, most of my characters tend to be in their thirties—which was definitely middle-aged in 1820. Thirty sounds pretty young, but the likelihood of having all your teeth back then was not a given. But since I write romance, all my heroes have gorgeous teeth and fresh breath, LOL.

You’re never too old for love if you open yourself up to the possibilities. Hopelessly romantic still? You bet! Does it matter how young/old or virginal/experienced the heroines are in the books you read? I’m giving away a signed copy of both Lords of Passion (Pru, 29) and Mistress by Midnight (Laurette, 29) to one random commenter!

Confessions of a Snoopy Writer - Welcome Guest Author Loucinda McGary & Comment to Win!

By Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

My mother was a wonderful woman with many fine qualities, but heaven knows, she loved to snoop! Not in a malicious way, she just loved to know all the little details about everyone around her.

All through junior high and high school my sister and I would catch her listening in to our telephone conversations, or going through our notebooks for possible notes our friends had passed to us during class. (You know those folded scraps of paper passed stealthily hand-to-hand right under the teacher's nose.) But most unforgivable of all to my teenage mind, my mother opened every piece of mail that arrived at our house. No matter who it was addressed to, she opened it and read it first. ACK!!!

My sister claimed not to mind. HUH?!?! I think she just liked the extra attention. I was mortified beyond belief, mostly because Mom would openly admit to her snooping and ASK about things she'd read or heard! Oh the horrors! Oh the teen angst!

Looking back on it now, my mom's snooping was pretty harmless. And I'm sure she would tell you she was just trying to be a responsible parent, which was also true. But I think it went beyond that. She genuinely liked to know. I think snooping was one of the things that made my mom an avid reader.

Reading about characters is a kind of snooping. We readers are privy to their thoughts, actions, and motivations. Sometimes we get to find out things (or figure things out) before they do!

Needless to say, this little apple didn't fall far from the tree. Yup, I love to snoop too, but I like to think I'm a bit more covert than my mother was, at least when it comes to friends and family. Not necessarily while reading. I've been known to mutter at the characters even while I'm deeply engrossed in reading. On occasion, I've even shouted out, "I KNEW IT!" when a plot twist happened just the way I suspected.

As for my writing, one of the things I love most about it is knowing all the little details of my characters lives. Even if those thoughts, feelings, experiences never quite make it onto the printed page, I still feel more competent to tell their stories just by knowing all about them. I've even been guilty of rubbing my hands together in gleeful anticipation because I know what's about to happen and I know how my poor characters are going to react.

Yes, yes, I know. We writers are a weird lot. But it's so much fun! Besides, snooping on my characters keeps me out of trouble with my friends and family members who would much rather I not do my snooping about them.

What about you? Do you like to snoop? Ever been caught? Or do you snoop openly like my mother used to do?

I’ll give away an autographed copy of one of my novels (The Wild Sight, The Treasures of Venice, or The Wild Irish Sea) to one commenter. Winner’s choice!

Loucinda McGary (Aunty Cindy of the Romance Bandits) writes romantic suspense in exotic settings with a hint of the paranormal. She currently has three books available from Sourcebooks Casablanca. Learn more about her and her books at http://www.loucindamcgary.com/

Were you Naughty or Nice this year? Welcome Guest Author Cari Quinn & Enter to Win!

Thank you to Sabrina for allowing me to blog here today!

Want to win a book? Contests are always fun, plus it's almost my birthday (yes, I'm one of those with the dreaded close-to-Christmas birthdays.) So what better time to offer a chance to win a present if you comment?

Since it's the holiday season and whether or not you celebrate - or if you celebrate - there is always one thing that makes this time of year more fun. Well, more than one, but for the purposes of this blog post I'm talking about curling up and reading a book. Whether you read on an e-reader or prefer the feel of paper in your hands, it's such a wonderful feeling to curl up in a snuggly blanket while you're getting lost in someone else's world. Since I write erotic romance, my choice is, of course, a story along the hotter end of the spectrum. Why not warm up one of the most economical ways there is? And c'mon, for those of us who write or read erotic romance, we all know we like those vicarious thrills. Sometimes they trigger memories of our own pasts or help us fantasize about what we might like to experience in the future. Sometimes they're just fun. ;)

So in the vein of our "naughty" holiday season, I'm wondering what YOU'VE done this year to put you on Santa's list. Were you naughty or nice this year? One random commenter who shares their naughtiest or nicest moment this year will win an ebook copy from my backlist, winner's choice. And if you're like me and don't have any especially naughty or nice moments, what would you do to try to impress Santa? Get as imaginative as you'd like. Santa appreciates creativity (and so do I!)

Before you go, here's the blurb from my latest Ellora's Cave release, Personal Research. There's an excerpt here: http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-8648-50-personal-research.aspx if you're interested.

Briefs are Elena Thomas’s life, whether they’re legal at her day job or on the men in the erotic novels she writes. She’s just fine with saving her imagination for her books until temptation appears in the form of Nunzio, the smokin’-hot office IT guy. When he discovers one of her scorching books shooting out of the printer, Elena’s not sure if he wants her because she’s inventive or because he thinks she’s desperate. That doesn’t stop her from taking advantage of his “services”.

On her desk. On the copier. And, oh yeah—in her boss’s chair.

Nunzio’s shocked to learn Elena’s wall-hugging persona hides a wildcat of a woman with delicious fantasies and an enticing wit. She’s exactly what he’s been looking for in an adventurous lover—and girlfriend. He knows she enjoys their sexual research. Now he just has to convince her that sizzling sex is only the first chapter of their blazing-hot romance.

Now go forth and comment! I'll pick a winner in a few days. Happy holidays!

Visit Cari at http://www.cariquinn.com/