Kristan Higgins

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Kristan Higgins is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been called "perfect entertainment for a girl's night in" (Booklist), "hilarious and heartfelt" (Romance Junkies) and "the best I've ever read" (Kristan's husband).

Kristan is the mother of two lovely children, the wife of a firefighter and the owner of a very naughty dog. She loves to eat out, watch movies and of course, read.

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Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 10.02.23 PMOne of the things that’s increasingly hard to do is find names for my characters. At first, it was so much fun! The names I might’ve used if I’d had more kids. Names I wished I’d had. Funky, interesting names. Literary names. You trip merrily through the book, choosing names out of the ether. “Sam? Great! Jonah? Love! Maggie? Of course!”

Then, around the fourth book, you realize you’ve already used certain names…your friends, your friends’ moms, kids from high school. Most of my books have around 50 named characters. Yep, just that fast, all the names on your list are gone.

The hero and heroine names are the hardest. Also, the mean people.

d25ca7c860b463f48031ba3a9192e60aYou can’t use your nieces or nephews’ names (you already did, naming the heroine’s nieces and nephews after yours, you clever thing!), your cousins’ name (ditto), your editor’s name, her husband’s name, your friend’s kid’s name. Maybe you find a great name, but it’s also the name of the kid who bullied you in middle school. Or you hate that name because it was the bully’s name, and you use it for the mean person in the book—ha!—and then have to find another bad-person name for all the other meanies to come. You think about using the name of the friend who hurt your feelings 20 years ago, but then you’re afraid she’ll know and you don’t want to give her the satisfaction.

You to go the Social Security Administration website and look up the most popular names of the year your character was born. You’ve used the first 67 names on the list, and the rest are horrible.

You go to Nameberry and see that Faustina, Zoyya and Borys are trending.You ask your readers for suggestions, and they all seem to suggest your son’s name or names you’ve already used. “How about Ian/Sam/Levi/Connor?” Used, used, used, used. “How about Callie/Maggie/Kate/Honor?” Used, used, used, used. “How about Liam/Tom/Jack/Nebucchanezar?” Used, used, used, hm.

e6f9e967646883d188f0e30071e785b7You fall in love with a name, only to realize that nine other characters in the book have names that start with the same letter. You love a name, but it’s hard to pronounce. It’s hard to spell. You don’t want readers struggling over it. You love a name, and then a celebrity names her kid the same thing (looking at you, Beyonce, and not you, Kimye). You love a name and your writer friends hate it (looking at you, Shana, Huntley, Shaunee, Jen, Karen).

You find THE PERFECT NAME and open a book and there it is, used by someone else (looking at you, Robyn, Sally, Sarah). You name a character after the actor you have a crush on. You then try that again, only to find the actors have the same first name (looking at you, Hardy & Hiddleston). You look for other actors as inspiration, but realize you can’t name a character Benedict without it being way too obvious you’re a little obsessed with Mr. Cumberbatch. Idris, ditto.

d58cfad6affba67fa2e35dc5ec430a51In the end, you pick a name that’s not so bad, that you haven’t used, that isn’t too weird, too hard to pronounce, too overused in your genre. And eventually, it starts to grow on you. By the time you’re done with the book, you’re kind of in love with that name. And you realize it’s a shame, because you can never use it again.

 Got any names that you really loved or hated as a character? Names that you couldn’t pronounce that really got in the way of reading a book? A name you couldn’t get past? Or, if you were (or are) writing a book, what would you name the hero and heroine?

Kristan Higgins

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Kristan Higgins is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been called "perfect entertainment for a girl's night in" (Booklist), "hilarious and heartfelt" (Romance Junkies) and "the best I've ever read" (Kristan's husband).

Kristan is the mother of two lovely children, the wife of a firefighter and the owner of a very naughty dog. She loves to eat out, watch movies and of course, read.

Kristan's Website


Social Media


Latest Books

DesireInTheArctic600Planning Ahead by Stacy Hoff

For those of who don’t know me (which is probably a lot of you since I’m a relatively new author) my “day job” is as a lawyer. I have two active boys. A husband who works a heck of a lot of hours. Parents I don’t get to see often enough. A local Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter I want to be active in. And I’m a regular blogger. I crank out new novels and short stories frequently, less than six months apart. By the way, I also take art classes every month. Scheduling everything I need to do in a day is absolutely no problem. I never mess up appointments or deadlines. Because I have super powers. Not.

Planning ahead is as easy and fun for me as mythology’s Sisyphus trying to move the bolder up the mountain, only to have that sucker roll back down. But I have learned a few techniques that help me get the enormous rock close to the pinnacle. My favorite is a big, blotter-sized, plan-by-the-month paper calendar. This tool helps me understand what events are coming up, so I can figure out by what day I need to start working. This planning tool may be old-fashioned, but since I was born in 1970 (and therefore, according to my kids, older than dirt) it suits me just fine.

What’s my second best technique? Asking my ten-year-old where he needs to be. That kid has this scheduling thing down. Much better than me, darn it. Not that I’ll ever admit it to him. (Okay, maybe when he’s fifty.)

DesireintheEverglades400Given the constant challenges I always face when planning ahead, it’s perhaps not a big surprise that I plunged headlong into writing my first published book, DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES, with nary a thought as to the future. I never dreamed there would be a sequel. At the time, I had been consumed with only one goal— getting one of my many manuscripts published. I had written a bunch of stories, all very different, trying to find one catchy enough to grab a publisher’s eye. Since I was trying out different sub-genres of romance, and writing in different styles, and different POV’s, seriously contemplating a sequel to any of them was as realistic as my suddenly sprouting wings.

It was only when DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES finally got published that I started playing around with the concept of a follow up book. Which character(s) would I (re)cast? I decided on the quirky best friend in EVERGLADES who had a snappy sense of humor, Ana Davis. Luckily, I had sufficiently developed Ana’s personality in the first book to give her a starring role in the second. Who knew?

Then I had to pick a locale as awe inspiring as Florida’s Everglades. Preferably a place I had actually visited so I could write realistically about it. The main reason I had set my first story in the Everglades was because my parents had taken me there when I was a teenager. Because the Everglades is the most dangerous place I’ve visited, I was sequel-stumped.

GatesofArcticUltimately, I chose to have my follow-up book take place in the Arctic Circle. Had I ever been to the Arctic? No. But I had traveled to Gros Morne National Park—a World Heritage site in Newfoundland, Canada. Gros Morne’s unique plant life and “tundra” landscape is very similar to the Arctic’s. Oddly, this similarity is caused by acidic soil more than the park’s Northern locale, since the acidity makes plant life a scarcity. The flora that does exist is undersized and lies low to the ground, just like in the Arctic. As a bonus prize, Gros Morne has a lot of the same wildlife found in Alaska. Black bear, lynx, caribou, arctic hare and moose.

I also had something else persuading me to select the Arctic—my fascination with Northern wilderness. I’ve been watching Alaskan reality television for years, including Railroad Alaska, Buying Alaska, Life Below Zero, The Last Alaskans, as well as all the cold-climate episodes of Survivorman and Bear Grylls I could get my hands on. (I am so fascinated by survival shows that the DESIRE books are premised on surviving the worst wilderness conditions in order to win a television show’s million-dollar prize.)

gatesofarcticMap2With the Arctic Circle as my general locale, it wasn’t too hard to pinpoint an exact spot. I chose the most remote park in the US, and the only one in the Arctic Circle, Gates of the Arctic National Park. It’s located at the foothills of the Brooks Mountain Range (if you’ve ever heard of it). It has no direct access. Visitors either need to fly in, or hike five miles from the nearest highway and then cross a raging river (not recommended by the US Park Department, by the way). There are no park accommodations of any kind. Very few people ever visit. Those that do, put their life in danger.

So Gates of the Arctic was perfect. Now all I had to do was write the bugger.

Some days I’m fortunate enough to find myself on top of things. On those days, I get my kids to their after-school activities on time. Dinner on the table before seven o’clock. My legal work all wrapped up at the office so I don’t need to take it home. My blog articles all scheduled and my manuscripts off to the publisher on time. Some days. On most days, however, my life happens by mere happenstance. I make the best of whatever situation I’m in, and try to re-structure enough events to make my family’s life viable. Just like I did when I wrote my sequel, DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC. 

Hmmmm, maybe I should change the word “sequel” to “serendipity.” 

Book blurb

Ana Davis has been given the promotion of the century—from secretary to television producer. But the new job is not without its problems.

The network will do anything for ratings. In the executive’s scramble to come out on top, they reveal Ana’s newest show—one she’s forced to star in herself. She’ll have to survive in the Arctic Circle for twelve days. If she wins, she’ll get the prize money she desperately needs. But the stakes are high, she could lose her very life. Good thing she’s been paired with expert survivalist William “Redd” Redding, a mysterious, solitary and very sexy man. Too bad she thinks he doesn’t even want to talk to her.

William “Redd” Redding is a former Special Ops Marine in need of cash to help a cause near and dear to his heart. What he’s not in need of, however, is Ana Davis—his clueless but captivating partner. It’s up to Redd to ensure the two of them survive in the most dangerous, hostile environment of all. But worse than snowstorms, predators, and a scarcity of food is an even greater danger—Ana. Resisting her, when he wants her more than anything, is his hardest challenge yet. How does he go about protecting her when his ultimate goal is to protect his heart?

Excerpt

“I’m not into surprises, Ana,” Redd said gruffly. “Not when our lives are on the line. Do you have any survival skills or don’t you? I’ve got to know exactly what I’m dealing with.”

“I-I’m sorry,” Ana stuttered, although she wasn’t sure what she was apologizing for. Her slow response, or for not being somebody better?

“Just level with me, okay?” he said again, gentler this time. “I won’t be mad. Panicked, maybe. But not mad. At least not mad at you.” He managed to give her a small smile. She wished to God it was sincere.

“All right, I’ll level. But I hope you won’t be too upset. I don’t have any survival skills at all.”

“None at all,” he repeated tonelessly.

“Well, no. I grew up in Brooklyn. The show wants me to say I’m from Manhattan but you said you want me to be honest.”

“Have you at least gone camping before?”

“Yes!”

“Great.” He exhaled hard, his expression showing relief. “How often do you go?”

“I’ve only been once, actually. But that still counts, right?”

“That depends,” he said, looking as if he had a sudden, severe headache.

“I went during summer camp, right after seventh grade. My whole bunk slept outside. It was fun. The counselors even let us roast a whole bag of marshmallows.”

She could have sworn she heard him swallow. It was almost as if he was choking on one of those marshmallows.

“Any hiking experience?” he asked weakly.

Be engaging, Ana. Don’t look so scared. Crack a joke or something. She managed a playful smile. “Close. I’ve told people to take a hike.”

He bit down on his lip. It looked like he was in pain. “Fishing?”

“No. The closest I’ve gotten to fishing is picking up jars of herring from the supermarket.” Taking one look at his ashen expression, she added, “I’m a fast learner though. If you teach me how to do these things, I’ll catch on quick. I even managed to learn a whole lot about wilderness survival before I came up here.”

“I think I need a beer,” he said, abruptly changing the topic.

“I can get you one, if you want.” Ana felt her face go hot.

When he stepped away, she put a hand on his shoulder, stopping him. “Look, I’m sorry I’m not what you wanted in a partner,” she said quietly. “I kinda got forced into this. With no notice for me to prepare.”

He swallowed again, seemingly making a determined effort to soften his countenance. “I’m sure you’ll do fine. Just do what I tell you, and we’ll get through this ordeal as best as we can.” His face was so scrunched up now he could have been a shar-pei puppy. “How’d they force you?”

“I’m their newest producer. I don’t have much track record yet, so . . .”

“That explains it.”

 

The two photos above, taken of Gates of the Arctic National Park, are property of the U.S. government and public domain.

 

WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS FOR STACY HOFF:

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorStacyHoff

Twitter: www.twitter.com/authorStacyHoff

Web: www.stacyhoff.com

Pinteret: https://www.pinterest.com/authorstacyhoff/

AMAZON LINK FOR DESIRE IN THE ARCTIC by Stacy Hoff:

AMAZON LINK FOR DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES by Stacy Hoff: 

AMAZON LINK FOR HOT SEDUCTION (box set contributors: Jamie K. Schmidt, Stacy Hoff, Holly Roberts, Theresa Hissong, Susan Griscom & Leia Shaw):

AMAZON LINK FOR SEASON OF LOVE (Box set with Stacy Hoff)

 

 

 

 

Kristan Higgins

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Kristan Higgins is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been called "perfect entertainment for a girl's night in" (Booklist), "hilarious and heartfelt" (Romance Junkies) and "the best I've ever read" (Kristan's husband).

Kristan is the mother of two lovely children, the wife of a firefighter and the owner of a very naughty dog. She loves to eat out, watch movies and of course, read.

Kristan's Website


Social Media


Latest Books

 caputoI’ll be honest: I forgot it was my day to blog and was sitting here last night when Jesse so kindly reminded me. Blerk! I had nothing! But…I was watching Long Island Medium, one of my guilty pleasures. (I think Theresa’s hair and nails deserve their own shows, by the way).

My dad died a long time ago, and my mom heard about a medium through her brother. So she figured what the heck, she’d give it a shot. The woman was only available by phone. I was immediately dubious—she got messages from beyond via AT&T? I can’t even get my friend in Vegas on AT&T. But Mom gave it a shot. The woman only knew her first name.

My mom is not a public person, and my dad died before the Internet was invented. So here’s what Sandy the Psychic had to say about my mother father.

My mom had three children. She guessed at our names and got them all wrong—but her guesses were our middle names.

She knew that my mom wore my dad’s wedding ring.

She knew that I’d had a tiny preemie, a son, whose name started with D. She knew I had him via c-section. She said my dad was so glad he was okay.

Sandy said my dad wanted to tell my brother “Congratulations”; my brother had just gotten engaged.

1872e3188eaca8de5d2c0b174dd00433She described a baby with curly red hair. My niece had red hair, but it’s not curly. Sandy was insistent. Shirley Temple ringlets, she said. Well, a year later, my sister had  another little redheaded girl, and her hair is curly. Ringlets. Shirley Temple style.

There was other stuff, just for my mom. Suffice it to say, she still smiles when we mention Sandy. (And no, I don’t have her number. I’m sorry.)

Do you believe in mediums or psychics? Have you ever talked to one? Leave a comment, and I’ll send one of you a copy of THE NEXT BEST THING, in which Lucy, our heroine, has a few instances of messages from the other side.

Kristan Higgins

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Kristan Higgins is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been called "perfect entertainment for a girl's night in" (Booklist), "hilarious and heartfelt" (Romance Junkies) and "the best I've ever read" (Kristan's husband).

Kristan is the mother of two lovely children, the wife of a firefighter and the owner of a very naughty dog. She loves to eat out, watch movies and of course, read.

Kristan's Website


Social Media


Latest Books

Bernadette, my heart wept for your story of spinach stew! Email me your address, and I’ll send you a copy of JUST ONE OF THE GUYS. 

Kristan Higgins

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Kristan Higgins is a New York Times bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. Her books have been called "perfect entertainment for a girl's night in" (Booklist), "hilarious and heartfelt" (Romance Junkies) and "the best I've ever read" (Kristan's husband).

Kristan is the mother of two lovely children, the wife of a firefighter and the owner of a very naughty dog. She loves to eat out, watch movies and of course, read.

Kristan's Website


Social Media


Latest Books

 ChasingMemories300Today we have Lucas Morgan with us, the hero from CHASING MEMORIES – Book 2 Forevermore Series. Welcome Lucas! Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

 

Hello and thank you for having me here today at the Jaunty Quills. My name is Lucas Morgan. I’m 30 years old, and an only child. I own the Acquati Hotel here in San Francisco and I’m in the process of developing another property in Miami.

 

Can you tell us a little about your book CHASING MEMORIES by Anna James?

 

Sure. Here is the cover blurb which tells about the story:

 

Lucas Morgan wants to know the cause of the hit-and-run accident that killed his grandmother, and he’s certain the truth is locked inside the head of India Leone—an interior designer apparently suffering an all-too-convenient case of amnesia.

 

Determined to either trip her up in a lie, or wait for her memories to return, Lucas offers India a job at one of the luxury hotel properties he’s developing. He never thought he’d wind up falling for the woman at the top of his suspect list.

 

India isn’t so sure herself how she ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Until her memories return, how can she possibly move on with her life? The police say she’s innocent, but too many questions linger.

 

Desperate to get away, she seizes Lucas’s offer, never expecting to fall in love with him. Or that he would be keeping secrets that could not only break her heart, but cost her her life.

 

Please tell us about India Leone, the heroine in CHASING MEMORIES.

India is smart and sexy as hell. A survivor who keeps going no matter what life throws at her. She has a heart of gold, and I admire her strength and fighting spirit.

 

When did you realize India was for you?

I fell for her almost from the start, but couldn’t admit it to myself. It took almost losing her to make me see the light.

 

What do you regard as the lowest depth of your misery?

When the murderer responsible for my grandmother’s death, went after India. I thought I was too late to save her and I’d never have the opportunity to tell her how much I loved her.

 

Can you share a scene in your book with us?

Absolutely!

 

Lucas pulled his cell phone from its holder, dialed 911 and reported the accident. He gathered his grandmother’s body in his arms and wept.

Evelyn, his beloved grandmother, dead. He’d never see her smiling face again, or taste one of her home-cooked meals or hear her pester him to stop his womanizing ways, settle down and give her some great-grandchildren to spoil. He’d never wrap her in his arms and give her a big bear hug again.

A loud creak pulled him from his misery. Laying Evelyn down on the ground, he took off his jacket and covered her as best he could, then moved toward the sound.

He hadn’t seen the Cadillac CTS, Grams’s car, sitting partway down the embankment when he’d arrived. His only focus had been saving her.

Another screech, and then a groan. A human groan. What the hell? Someone’s down there. And they were still alive. He ran back to his car and grabbed a flashlight from the glove box. Lucas made his way down to the vehicle, careful not to slip on the slick rocks and earth under his feet. Holy crap. What the hell had happened to cause the massive amount of damage to the CTS? The rear had been smashed in, the two tires on the driver’s side had gone flat and the front, left corner had crumpled all the way to the door, and that was what he could see from this vantage point. Was there even more?

A noise sounded again from inside the automobile. He forgot about the damage and continued edging his way down the muddy hill.

The vehicle balanced precariously on the edge of a boulder jutting up from the ground. A still form slumped against the driver’s seat. One wrong move could send the car tumbling down into the ravine below.

“Hey there, can you hear me?”

A soft whimper. He moved closer.

Twisted metal moaned and inched forward. The acrid stench of gasoline filled the air. Lucas froze. Damn it, how the hell was he going to rescue whoever was stuck inside?

When he reached the car, Lucas tried to ease the door open, not wanting to disturb the shaky balance of the CTS. It stuck. He tugged harder. The door sprang free, but the sudden movement made the car rock and slide forward. The woman inside screamed. He yanked her from the vehicle.

For one moment her eyes locked with his, then they fell back against the side of the hill together. The car tumbled end over end as it careened down the hill, smashing on the rocks below. The explosion rocked the ground and flames leapt high in the sky.

 

 

Where can readers get CHASING MEMORIES – Book 2 Forevermore series so we can find out how your story unfolds?

 

Trouble gets closer with every beat of their hearts…

 

 

 

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nec4bts

Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/zdfxfw8

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/p76q9m6

Samhain: http://tinyurl.com/ntd7nkz

Or check out Anna’s website: www.authorannajames.com

 

Can you tell us a little about Anna James?

 

 Anna James writes contemporary romance novels with strong, confident heroes and heroines who conquer life’s trials and find their happily ever after.   

 

She is a member of RWA, CTRWA , CORW and CR-RWA.

 

twitterprofilepic1Anna is married to a wonderful husband who spends countless hours picking up the slack around the house so she can pursue her dream of writing, is the proud mother of five fabulous children, and a big, loveable rescue dog the entire family adores.

 

Although she’s lived in several locations throughout her life she now calls Connecticut home. When not writing, reading, or plotting, she can be found spending time with family and friends.

 

Want to learn more about Anna and her books?

Sign up for her newsletter: http://annajamesromance.com/?page_id=1437

Visit her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annajames.author

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorannajames 

Email her at: authorannajames@yahoo.com

 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us today, Lucas?

Interested in winning a signed copy of CHASING MEMORIES?

Sign up for Anna’s newsletter here: http://annajamesromance.com/?page_id=1437 between now and February 13, 2016 (new subscribers only). She’ll do a random drawing on February 14, 2016 and choose a winner. US entrants only – sorry. Good Luck!

 

Thank you, Lucas, for sharing some of your story. Look for CHASING MEMORIES by Anna James and find out if Lucas and India can find their happy ever after.

 

 

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