Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thanks, everyone, for the awesome title suggestions. I've bundled them up and sent them off to my editor at Harlequin American Romance. Hopefully, she'll choose one of your ideas for the title of my June release. I'll keep you posted!

In the meantime, the random number generator spit out the names of two lucky people who will win copies of The Officer's Girl and The Daddy Catch.

Those names are....drum roll, please....Marian Griffin and Karna Bodman. So, Marian and Karna, if you'll get in touch with me, please, I'll put those books in the mail to you.
Congratulations to our lucky winners and, again, thanks for pitching in with some great title suggestions

Monday, October 10, 2011

I Need A Title

Remember those “How I spent my summer” essays we had to write in grade school? If I had to turn one in today, it would consist of only one word: writing. With a deadline looming for my third Harlequin American, I spent July and August in a writing marathon with the extremely talented Roxanne St. Claire, author of the popular Guardian Angelino and Bullet Catcher series; Kristen Painter, whose awesome Blood Rights, hit store shelves this month; and one of Siren Bookstrand’s best-selling authors, Lara Santiago. With all that talent in one room, we had to be successful, didn’t we? And we were, each of us meeting tight deadlines in a summer of writing, writing, writing.

Now that Book Three is in the hands of my editor, it’s title time, and I’m afraid my creative well has run dry. So, I’m turning to you for help. Can you help me name my latest Harlequin American Romance? Here’s a little blurb about the story to get you started:

His childhood sweetheart is the last person single dad Mitch Goodwin expects to see when he walks into family court determined to retain custody of his four-year-old daughter. But the prosecuting attorney’s carefully structured world quickly crumples. Following a playground mishap, a bad-tempered judge permits the doting father only supervised visitation with his child…under the wary gaze of former rodeo star Amanda Markette, the one woman whose trust Mitch fears he’ll never win.

Having spent her formative years on the professional rodeo circuit, Amanda dreams of a home without wheels and a husband who makes family his first priority. That man is definitely not career-driven Mitch Goodwin, rumored to become the county’s next District Attorney. The lanky teen she fell in love with one long-ago summer has grown into a devilishly handsome man, but his demanding job has already cost him one marriage, and Amanda vows to keep her distance.

So, there you have it. Ideas, please?

Just keep in mind that Harlequin American titles are usually short—3 or 4 words, tops. And it’s strictly first-come, first-served. If two people suggest the same title, the first one to show up in the comments section of this blog gets the credit.

I haven’t submitted any ideas to my publisher yet, but these title suggestions have already been made:

His Rodeo Surprise
Rodeo Reunion
His Rodeo Girl
Dude Ranch Reunion
Lassoing His Rodeo Girl
Rodeo Star Reunion
Rodeo Daughter Reunion
A Rodeo Star for Hailey
Custody Courtship
The Prosecutor’s Pride
Cowgirl Princess

Of course, I don’t get the final say—that’s up to the editorial staff. But if your suggestion passes muster and Harlequin chooses it as the title of this book, I’ll send you an autographed copy of the book when it’s released next June.

As an added plus, all the names of those who comment on this blog with title suggestions for this new book between October 10th and October 15th, 2011 will go into a random drawing. I’ll pull two names out of the proverbial hat (aka random number generator). Those two winners will each receive one autographed copy of my current Harlequin American’s: The Officer’s Girl and The Daddy Catch. Shipping addresses must be US or Canadian only.

Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America addresses only. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Friday, September 16, 2011

How I Spent My Summer

Summer in the Duncan household usually means vacation and time to put the boat in the water. But not this year when news of a two-book contract with Harlequin American Romance arrived in early July. Since my publisher wants both books for 2012 releases, I spent most of the summer writing, writing, writing. And now, RODEO DAUGHTER, the first of those two books, is in my editor's hands.

You're sure to love Mitch and Amanda's reunion story. He's a driven prosecuting attorney, a single dad with a mercurial four-year-old. She's a former barrel racing champion who never got over her teen-age crush on the boy she met at rodeo camp. What happens when these two meet again? Mitch's carefully structured world crumples, that's what. Especially when, following a playground mishap, a family court judge permits this doting father only supervised visitation...under the distrustful gaze of the woman he ditched at the end of rodeo camp.

RODEO DAUGHTER should hit store shelves next June. Before that, it'll need a new title and, hopefully, you'll help me find a great one. Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Terrific Contest!

This terrific contest has resulted in many requests for manuscripts from top editors and agents, and quite a few sales. Enter today!

***Permission to forward granted and encouraged***

The 2011 Launching A Star Contest Ends August 25th!!

Don’t miss out on the chance to get great feedback on your manuscript and
the opportunity to get your manuscript before great editors and agents!! For
more information go to and click on the contest
links on our website.

It’s easy to enter - Just the first twenty-five pages of your manuscript –
no synopsis! --sent electronically in one of the following eight categories
– including women’s fiction! Entry deadline is Midnight Eastern Daylight
Time, August 25, 2011.


Single Title: Editor –Emilia Pisani/Simon &
Schuster Gallery Books

(Including WF) Agent-Sara Megabow/Nelson Literary

General Paranormal: Editor-Meredith Giordan/Berkley Jove

Agent-Marlene Stringer/The
Stringer Agency

Futuristic/Fantasy: Editor-Leah

Agent-Ethan Ellenberg/Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency

Historical: Editor-Amanda Bergeron/Harper
Collins Publishers

Agent-Laura Bradford/The
Bradford Literary Agency

Series Contemporary: Editor-Susan Litman/Harlequin Special Edition

Agent-Roberta Brown/Brown
Literary Agency

Romantic Suspense: Editor-Holly Blanck/St. Martin’s Press

Agent-Chelsea Gilmore/Maria
Carvainis Agency

Inspirational: Editor-Natalie Hanemann/Thomas

Agent-Suzie Townsend/Fine
Print Agency

Young Adult: Editor-Kristin Daly Rens/Harper

Agent-Becca Stumpf/The
Prospect Agency

Friday, June 24, 2011

Diane Burke's Double Identity

Hey, if you're reading this, you're in the wrong place. You should be at Everybody Needs A Little Romance where PRO Liaison Cyndi D'Alba has posted a terrific review of my good friend Diane Burke's latest release, DOUBLE IDENTITY.

Swing by

Leave a comment.

There's a prize drawing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

If It's Tuesday, Where Am I?

I'm at Behind The Book, of course at Where my good friend Maggie Jaimeson is asking all kinds of questions about THE DADDY CATCH.

Drop by and ask your own questions. Or just stop in to say, "Hello." I'll be there all day.

Simply cut/paste this link into your web browser:

Monday, June 13, 2011

If it's Monday, I'm at Harlequin

No, not actually in the building. Or rather, one of the buildings. There are many.

But today, my post is up at the Harlequin blog where I'm talking about fly fishing and romance. It's a winning combination.

I'd love to have you stop by. Leave a comment if you'd like.

Copy/paste the following link into your web browser:

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Blogging We Will Go...

Today, I'm talking about the Awful, Terrible, Crazy camping trip that made my kids vow they'd never camp again and led hubby to abandon bait fishing in favor of fly rods. LOL

Swing by Everybody Needs A Little Romance ( and share your experiences with the great outdoors. Have a laugh. Or just leave a comment so I'm not lonely.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Daddy Catch Kick-Off

If it's Release Day, there must be a book signing, right? Roxanne St. Claire, one of my all-time favorite people, along with upcoming new author Linda Wright and I celebrated the release of THE DADDY CATCH by selling quite a few books at the Barnes & Noble in W Melbourne, FL last night.

It was great to greet fans like Dave (who always shows up with a list!), see old friends (Joyce, I was so glad to see you!), meet new ones (Hi, Mary!) and visit with family (I have the BEST sister!).

A special thanks to Kaori Suzuki-Fischer, RWA's Book Seller of the Year, who arranged the signing, and to all the Barnes & Noble staff, but especially Steve and Ron and Allie, who made sure every detail was perfect.

Most of all, thanks to good friends like Lara Santiago (l) and Rachel Hauck (r). Each gifted authors, their encouragement and support saw me through years of rejection. It sure is fun to celebrate with you today!

This Saturday, June 11th, I'll be signing copies of THE DADDY CATCH from 1-3 PM at The Fly Fisherman in Titusville. Stop on by. There'll be loads of fun activities, including fly tying demonstrations and a terrific display of boats. You might even pick up a book or two.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It's Release Day!

Today THE DADDY CATCH officially hits the shelves in book stores. To celebrate, I've sent all the workmen home. For the first time in for-evah, no jack hammers, no nail guns, no "Oh, fiddle-de-sticks!" ringing out through the house when someone hammers their thumb instead of a nail. Instead, there's peace and quiet at my house.

It reminds me of a calm day on the water. Like the ones Jess and Dan experience in THE DADDY CATCH. Dan Hamilton is a foster care success story whose wildest dreams are within reach when he's asked to join in building a medical center on Florida's east coast. Widowed Jessica Cofer wants little more than to help her young son grow into an honest man and preserve the natural beauty of Phelps Cove.

But when Dan costs her little boy the catch of a lifetime, Jess seriously considers stranding the interloper in the Cove where mosquitoes will carry him off… if the panthers don't get him first.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Very First Book Trailer!

Just in time for its June 7th release, THE DADDY CATCH has recieved a couple of very nice reviews. Romantic Times gave it 4 1/2 stars, calling the book "a charming romance with a solid plot." Bruce Harang, who reviews books for the Federation of Fly Fishers, said THE DADDY CATCH is "a well-written novel set against a backdrop of fly fishing and guiding," and he was impressed with the way I handled the details. (Thanks, Bruce. Coming from you, that's high praise indeed.)

Last week, Long and Short Reviews awarded THE DADDY CATCH 4 1/2 books, saying this Harlequin American was "romance with a heart...with engaging scenes that grab the empathy and imagination of the reader." And, thanks to a slew of people who voted for it, LASR even featured THE DADDY CATCH as their Book of the Week. Along with the nifty pink button I get to display for that award, LASR created a book trailer especially for The Daddy Catch. Take a peek and let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My mother passed on in 2003, days after her 84th birthday. This week, I stumbled on a history of sorts I'd written about her life. Mother's Day seemed like the right time to share her story.

It is winter in Central Florida. The Chinese ting is almost naked. Only a handful of stubborn brown leaves cling to its bare gray branches. Outside, Old Sol warms the clean, crisp bite of early mornings; by mid-day, a light sweater feels just right. Inside, the house is toasty warm, but Mom is cold. These days, she is always cold.

Doctors describe her health as fragile. She laughs. Fragile. The word evokes the image of fine china or the porcelain dolls arrayed in Victorian splendor. Neither image fits my mom. About the only thing she has in common with the decked-out dolls she collects is her size. At an even five feet, Mom has bulled her way through life.

They don’t make dolls that look like sturdy Irish peasant stock. Or ones that bear the rippled scars of the decades-old scalding that put ten-year-old Marion in the hospital – under heat lamps no less – for three months. (Today, we know better than to put heat on a burn, but in 1929 it was the standard of care.) It took amazing strength to survive that ordeal. And to endure it alone. Fresh off the boat, Mama’s Mama worked as a maid and came to the hospital once a week. On Sunday. After mass. Alone and in pain, my mom survived that hospital stay. She says the experience made her stronger.

Her father, a veteran of World War I, suffered shell shock. There were no drugs, no therapies for post-traumatic stress back then. Nor did the Church condone divorce. Mama’s mama did the only thing she could – she fled, taking her six children to safety. And when mom’s father found them and again punched holes in the walls and imagined himself a sniper taking aim at the enemy – his children – they moved again. And again.

College was never an option for my mother. Neither was a job. As a teen, she worked the lunch counter for the Union News. The day she made manager at Southie (South Boston) was cause for celebration. With her brothers away at the second war to end all wars, she treated her mother and sister to a rare meal in a real restaurant. She looked up to see her sister’s current beau enter with a tall, rangy sailor in tow.

“That’s the man I’m going to marry,” my mother whispered to her mother. And despite their differences, he was.

Rhuday was a farm boy, Alabama born and bred. He sent his city wife ‘home’ during the war to stay with his Mama. On a farm sixty miles from the closest Catholic church. On a farm with an outhouse and no running water. She says laughter got her through those days as she trekked outside to do her business. She bathed in a tin tub on Saturdays. She attended the Baptist church on Sundays – and got kicked out of the Catholic one for her efforts. She spent two years trying to lift the spirits of her sisters-in-law and toiling beside her mother-in-law. She wrote daily letters to her brand-new husband. And she prayed. When the war ended and he returned unscathed, she waited a week before she moved him back to the city.

They bought a house with money she had hoarded during his years away at sea. Dad got a job with Boston Gas and, to make ends meet, they rented out the upstairs. After seven barren years, Mom gave birth to a daughter – me – and nearly died in the process. Two years after that my sister arrived, albeit this time by a planned C-section. Things were looking up until, just before Christmas in 1955, the boys upstairs played with lighter fluid. They burned the house down. My parents lost everything. Everything but that which was most important—their lives, their daughters. Soon after, they moved to Florida where, Rhuday promised, opportunities were greater.

And for him, a machinist who valued education but had none, they were. Expansion at Patrick AFB and the Cape created a vacuum that sucked people into Florida. For the men, steady jobs meant security, the chance for a better life, but little change in their daily lives. They still left home before sunrise carrying lunch in a steel box and coffee in a Stanley thermos. They still came home around sundown. There were still lawns to mow, cars to maintain, houses to paint. For them, life was pretty much the same as in the city.

For the women, it was different. In the mid-50’s, Brevard County had little but fear to offer a young wife and mother. With slight warning, blue skies became hurricanes that struck while the men pulled down overtime. The only things thicker than the clouds of dust that rose from the dirt roads were the swarms of mosquitoes. Palmetto bugs, spiders and alligators ignored the brand new housing developments and refused to go elsewhere. A boy fishing at Clearlake died when he mistook baby water moccasins for worms and used them as bait.

But at least there were no outhouses. My mom could still laugh. And she was not alone.

Squared off, cement block houses surrounded hers. Each held a family as new and raw to Florida as her own. She sought solace in the company of other wives, and they in hers. Our house became a gathering spot where laughter flowed more often than tears. Along with other big city transplants, events were planned. Lonely, stultifying drives through sixty miles of scrub pine and palmetto to the closest grocery store became grand shopping excursions that mandated lunch at Ronnie’s. Where corned beef didn’t come from a can, and vinegar – not mayonnaise – moistened the slaw. Backyard cookouts and progressive dinners took the place of Cocoa’s non-existent restaurants. The nearest movie theater was in Orlando, and it was expensive. The beach was closer, and it was free. Like air-conditioning, nightclubs and dinner theaters were years in the future. Girls-night-out became Bingo Club (a group that has since out-lived its founders).

Laugher and her friends saw Mom through long hospital stays and Rhuday’s violent migraines. Thyroid cancer bent her knees in prayer as she asked God to let her live long enough to raise her girls.

He did, but life was never easy. Mom’s prayers became her mantra the week Neil Armstrong first walked on the moon and a heart attack took forty-eight year old Rhuday. Dreams of college for their girls wavered. Mom would not let them die. She found strength and a job that let her do what she did best – raise children. She taught herself to drive. She refused to let us feel sorry for ourselves. She pushed everyone, including herself, to do better. She managed a nursery until her first charges began pulling up to the gate with their own children. After that, her focus shifted to grandchildren, and she brought her own brand of stability to my family as we moved from California to Virginia to Florida.

Today, Mom’s health is fragile. She is anything but. She’ll hopes to turn eighty-four next month. Some days, we think she might. Some days, the prospect dims. In the meantime, we find humor where we can.

Her nails are a source of pride though she hates having them done. Even more so now when little things sap her strength. Today is nail day. I remove the old polish. She takes a nap. I file her nails. She takes another nap. By evening, the final coat of polish is still wet when she begins to squirm.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“I have to go to the bathroom, but I don’t to mess up my nails,” comes the answer.

“If there’s a choice, I’d rather re-paint your nails,” I say dryly.

She makes a beeline for the bathroom.

My eyes glisten, but we still laugh because that--and prayer--get us past the rough spots.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching Up On My Reading List

I was too busy writing last year to read as much as I wanted. Which is a shame because there are soooo many good books! I’m trying to make up for that this year. Just in case you’re curious as to what I’ve been reading, here’s a list of what I’ve read so far in 2011. I’ve starred (*) the books that were favorites.

Bring on the Night by Jeri Smith-Ready
Dining with Joy* by Rachel Hauck
Double Identity* by Diane Burke
Edge of Sight* by Roxanne St. Claire
Faithful by Janet Fox
Hachet* by Gary Paulsen
How to Bake a Perfect Life* by Barbara O’Neal
How to Knit a Love Song by Rachel Herron
Maid for the Single Dad* by Susan Meier
Murder of a Wedding Belle by Denise Swanson
My Favorite Cowboy by Shelley Galloway
Lost by Joy Fielding
Ride the Fire by Jo Davis
Rodeo Daddy by Marin Thomas
Shiver of Fear* by Roxanne St. Claire
Sing You Home* by Jodi Picoult
Softly and Tenderly* by Sara Evans
Still Life by Joy Fielding
The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan
The Perfect Dish* by Kristen Painter
The Wild Zone by Joy Fielding
Water for Elephants* by Sara Gruen
Web of Lies by Jennifer Estep

Whew! And that doesn't contest entries or the occasional magazine article. No wonder I've been accused of always having my face in a book.

What’s next???

Face of Danger by Roxanne St. Claire the minute it downloads to my Nook.

And then?

Maybe some women’s fiction. Last year, I read all the finalist entries in the “Novels with Romantic Elements” category for RWA’s top writing award, the Rita. I enjoyed them so much, I might do the same thing again this year.

Monday, April 11, 2011

With Edge of Sight, the award-winning Roxanne St. Claire once again delivers on her promise to give the reader a heart-thumping page turner. Hunky, strong, proficient heros are Roxanne's forte, and Zach Angelino definitely follows the pattern. But more than ever before, the author provides insight into what actually makes Zack tick which, in turn, makes him more alive and super appealing. A great story from opening scene to closing line, Edge of Sight kicks off a new series and leaves the reader breathlessly waiting for the next Guardian Angelino book.

With every new book, Roxanne St. Claire raises the standard in Romantic Suspense and, with Shiver of Fear, she’s done it again. A hero who comes so alive the pages actually crackle with sexual tension. A beautiful widow who hides her secrets behind a shell of utter perfection. An adoptee’s search for birth parents. Bio-terrorism. Intrigue. Flying bullets. All set against the amazing backdrop of Ireland’s massive cemeteries, ancient churches and cobblestone streets. Wow!
This one goes on the Keeper Shelf alongside Edge of Sight while I wait, rather impatiently, for the third book in this series, Face of Danger.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Of RITA Books and Other Reading

For romance authors, receiving a RITA award is akin to getting the movie industry's Oscar. And this is RITA season. Throughout the world, authors who are published in romance have received a box of books to evaluate in this year's RITA contest. My own stack is seven novels high and, with just over a month to read and evaluate them, I'm buried in books.

But this week, I took a break from RITA reading to focus on Softly And Tenderly, the second in the Songbird series written by country music star Sara Evans and RITA finalist Rachel Hauck. And what a nice break it was!

A couple of years have passed since the ending of The Sweet By and By, in which Jade and Max discovered their love for one another. But, as in real life, all is not perfect in their world. Secrets hide beneath Whisper Hollow’s quiet fa├žade. As Jade worries that her barrenness might be a punishment for past mistakes, those secrets bubble to the surface. Max’s demons threaten their future when his own past and present struggles are revealed. His parents’ seemingly perfect marriage falters. Jade’s mom, Beryl, approaches the end of her fight against leukemia. And through it all, Jade struggles in her role as the glue that holds everything together.

Sara and Rachel have done an amazing job of “keeping it real” in this poignant next installment in Jade and Max’s journey. I’m a huge fan of romance novels, but every once in a while I hunger for something beyond that happily-ever-after moment. In Softly and Tenderly, I found what I was looking for. The authors delivered a story that touched my heart, made me glad for a handy box of tissues, and kept me rooting for the main characters all the way through.

And the ending of Softly and Tenderly left me with only one question—how soon can I read the next book in the Songbird series, Love Lifted Me?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Barbara O'Neal's "How To Bake A Perfect Life"

With “How To Bake A Perfect Life,” Barbara O’Neal once again shows why the Romance Writers of America awarded her their top prize for novels with romantic elements in 2010. And, in my opinion, she’s baked her own slice of perfection in this book. Yummy recipes and sensual descriptions of bread making and baking will satisfy the cravings of an ardent foodie. Those who want a story about family rifts and healing will find it in Ramona’s dealings with her strong, restaurant-owning clan. Lost love and teenage angst play against a hearty dose of war’s realism.

The creation of a book, much like the making of a loaf of bread, requires the careful combination and layering of many aspects—plot, structure, characterization, voice. “How To Bake A Perfect Life” takes all those elements and adds a dash of the unknown, a willingness to take a chance by focusing the story on an older heroine. There’s a lot going on, but somehow Ms. O’Neal simply makes it work, and the result is one of the best books I’ve read in ages.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Starting off the New Year with Some Magic

Happy New Year!

I started off the New Year by endulging myself with one of my fav activities. No, not eating. Reading. But I have to admit, the book I chose did have something to do with food. And it was a treat to read "The Perfect Dish" by Kristen Painter.

Food, fashion and romance--this book delivers on all three counts. The author even folds in a little bit of magic, just in case someone wants more than a hunky Texan who hand-delivers spicy chocolates and has FTD on speed-dial. As for me, Chef Kelly was yummy enough, but I savored the way his love for Meredith grew out of an honest desire to help his grief-stricken sister. Yes, magic is in the air--and elsewhere--but "The Perfect Dish" offers more than a great love story. Vivid word pictures, witty dialogue and a very engaging cast of characters keep the pages turning until, all too soon, it's time to look forward to Kristen's next great book. This is definitely an author who has earned a spot on my must-buy list.

So, that's the first book I read for 2011. I'm hoping to read many, many more. I hope you'll check back from time to time to see what I'm reading. And maybe to suggest a book or two from your own collection.