Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Giveaway and Q&As with Jane Graves author of 'Heartstrings and Diamond Rings' and Christie Craig author of 'Don't Mess with Texas' (Closed)

Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves

He's the man of her dreams. . .
In a world full of frogs, Alison Carter is determined to find her prince. Maybe her dating past is more Titanic than Love Boat, but she's seen enough happy marriages to know that true love is possible. No matter what, she won't give up on happily-ever-after. If she can't find Mr. Right, she'll simply hire someone who can.

She just doesn't know it yet
When Brandon Scott inherits a successful matchmaking business, he thinks his prayers have been answered. Set up a few lonely ladies, collect the fee, how hard can it be? No one needs to know he's not really a professional matchmaker--especially not his first client, the beautiful, spirited Alison. Soon he's falling for her--and her dreams of kids and carpools. But Alison is getting close to figuring out his secret, and if she learns he's deceived her too, she'll walk right out the door, taking Brandon's heart with her. To read an excerpt Click Here

Don't Mess With Texas by Christie Craig
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.
Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .
OpenBook - Read an Excerpt
 Q&A with Jane Graves

Lisarenee: I know many things can inspire an author such as news stories, things they've overheard, etc. What inspired this particular book?  Was it just one thing or a set that sparked the initial idea?

Jane: After creating the character of Alison Carter, Heather Montgomery's best friend in Tall Tales and Wedding Veils, I knew one day I'd be writing her story. She's a funny, self-deprecating person who, in spite of the challenges she faces in the romance department, is still an eternal optimist, which makes her the kind of character readers might enjoy spending three or four hundred pages with. 
So then I had to start thinking about how she'd find her Mr. Right, since it had always been such a challenge for her. Just as Alison might, I brainstormed all the avenues—speed dating, blind dates, Internet dating—asking myself if there was a story there. And then I thought about matchmaking. My first inclination was to make the matchmaker a woman, but if there's anything I've learned as a writer, it's that I should never go with my first inclination. Then I thought, what if her matchmaker was the hero? There are all kinds of stories out there about women who are matchmakers for men, but I don't know that I've ever seen those roles reversed. So I came up with a plausible reason why a man might take on that profession and made that the premise for Heartstrings and Diamond Rings.

Lisarenee: What do feel are the most important traits for the male love interest to have in a romance novel, and how do you incorporate them into your books?

Jane: I think the single most important trait a hero should have is to be ultimately good at heart. Now, that can be masked in a number of different ways. He can be a bad boy who doesn't trust anyone. He can be a multimillionaire corporate kingpin who has no time for romance. He can be a man who's been burned by women before and refuses to take another chance on love. But in the end, they can either maintain the status quo, or they can accept the pain and fear they know they'll experience when all those protective layers are pulled away. By allowing their vulnerable hearts to be revealed, they've finally made themselves worth of the heroine's love.

Lisarenee: Besides the two main characters having a great chemistry going on between them and a great story line, what other elements do you feel are important to creating a good romance?

Jane: First of all, I believe there's a difference between a good romance and a good romance novel. In real life, we avoid conflict from the beginning. We look for compatibility. A shared view of life. We want the road to be smooth and the sun to shine as we skip down the path to true love.
In contrast, a romance novel is filled with rocky roads and rainstorms. The early chapters of every book I've ever written were filled with conflict. As an author, it's my job to put two people together who seemingly are all wrong for each other, whether by personality, circumstance, or point of view. Then I have to peel away their layers to show that in spite of outward appearances, at heart they're compatible. In fact, there's no person on earth more suited for one than the other. They just don't know it yet. I throw obstacles at them and make then rise to the challenge before I even consider giving them their happily ever after.
So, to answer your question, to create a good romance, I fill the lives of the hero and heroine with character‑revealing conflict they have to overcome. That way, by the time they reach their happy ending, readers will feel as if they've earned it.

Lisarenee: What are some of the most rewarding things about being an author?

Jane: I can work in my jammies. I get wonderful emails from readers who tell me they love what I create. I travel to conferences where I get to spend days on end talking about my favorite subject—writing romance. I've met other authors from all over the world whom I count as some of my best friends today. And best of all, I get to make a living doing the thing I love the most.

Lisarenee:  What is the best thing a fan can do to express how much they loved one of your books? 

Jane: I love getting emails, and appreciate it so much when a reader takes the time to write to me. But if a reader truly wants to express how much she loves one of my books, she won't stop there. She'll also tell her friends. Her relatives. Her hairdresser. The clerk at the grocery store. The manager of the bookstore where she bought the book. Facebook friends. Twitter followers. Readers have no idea the power they have to influence the kinds of books that end up on the shelves. If you like a book, shout it out!

If you've ever watched America's Got Talent, you know that judge Howie Mandel is always telling people to never assume that a fabulous act will get through to the next round. "You have to VOTE," he tells them, "or this is the last time you'll see them!" Readers can do the same in their own way, by spreading the word about a book they love so sales will increase and that author's publisher will be moved to buy even more of her books.
Readers, you have the power. Spread the word! 

Lisarenee: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions.
A note from Jane Graves:
Plano, Texas is a perfect setting for my series because it's an exercise in contrast, just as my characters are. In West Plano, people live in McMansions, drive Lexus SUVs, drink a lot of Starbucks coffee, and play a lot of golf. West Plano is upper-class Texas living with a sprinkle of glitter and a swimming pool in every backyard. East Plano used to be home only to blue collar folks who live in fifty-year-old tract homes with pickup trucks out front. Then the light rail came through and connected Plano to downtown Dallas, and the old downtown area was revitalized with trendy condos, restaurants, and bars. East Plano is middle-class Texas living with a touch of urban cool.
Alison Carter from HEARTSTRINGS AND DIAMOND RINGS owns a condo in downtown Plano, while the hero of that book, Brandon Scott, lives in a Victorian house on the edge of downtown he inherited from his grandmother. Because of its diversity, Plano, Texas gives me a great opportunity to show who my characters are by where they choose to live.  

 Q&A with Christie Craig

Lisarenee:  I know many things can inspire an author such as news stories, things they've overheard, etc. What inspired this particular book?  Was it just one thing or a set that sparked the initial idea?

Christie: Oh, great question. When I was just starting to think about a new proposal, I knew I wanted to write another trilogy similar to the Divorced & Desperate series I did at Dorchester, but about three men rather than three women. I had an idea to write about three PIs who were all ex-cops. I sort of pitched the idea to my agent, and her reply was . . . “You need a bigger hook.”

I think I told her something along the lines of…”Im not a hooker. Im a writer.” But that night I was watching the news about some cop being investigated and thats when the idea hitWhat if my cops didnt just stop being cops, but were framed for a crime, were found guilty, and even went to jail before they were exonerated? They wouldnt be just PIs, they would sort of be justice seekers for others. When I emailed her the idea, she called me and said something along the lines of, “I knew you were a hooker.”

Lisarenee: What do you feel are the most important traits for the male love interest to have in a romance novel, and how do you incorporate them into your books?

Christie: Hmm. Well, my heroes have to be able to laugh at themselves and at the crazy world we live in,because my books aregonna be filled with crazy things. I love heroes who are a tad alpha male, but go just below the skin and you see their vulnerability. All my heroes have a few scars that make them cautious about falling in love because theres nothing like a vulnerable man to make a woman determined to show him that love is the only way. My heroes always have a secret or two, because every woman longs to be the one hell finally share his secrets with. They have a flaw that they are willing to correct for the right woman, and they have a flaw that the right woman will have to learn to live with because she loves him. My heroes are like real people in that they arent perfect, but darn if they arent close.

Lisarenee: Humor seems to be common in your books. Do you find that is an important thing to incorporate in a romance novel?

Christie: Definitely. I mean, if a character shows up without a sense of humor, I boot him out, or turn him into a villain. Im a firm believer that falling in love should be fun. Whats more, I think the road to love should be filled with heart-swelling, feel-good laughter. I know romance stories have to pull on the heartstrings and in my books youll find plenty of serious emotion. Youll even find a suspense thread that might initiate a few heart palpitations of fear.

I know readers should worry and wonder if these two characters will overcome the conflicts and lets face it, overcoming those conflicts isnt always funny. But if theres not a heck of lot of laughter somewhere down that road these characters have journeyed, why would they want to work out the problems to get to their Happily Ever After? I offer my readers a chance to laugh, to rekindle the joy that falling in love instills in us mere mortals.

Lisarenee: You wrote 'Wild, Wicked & Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You’re in a Romance Novel with Faye Hughes . I must confess I haven't read it yet. Can you share with us what a couple of your favorite ways to love like you're in a romance novel are?

Christie: Oh, absolutely. We had a blast writing Wild, Wicked and Wanton. The book really looks at all the internal problems that fictional heroines face and overcome in a romance novel. Funny thing is, these problems are the same ones women face in real life relationships. We covered everything from finding the right man to bad sex and how to deal with heartbreak.

The first chapter in the book: Keepers and Creepers: Heroines Recognize the DifferenceEventually, is about being cautious of the men you let in your life. Two tips I really liked in that chapter are:
  1. If hes keeping a secret, its a safe bet it wont be anything good. (For example, in a romance novel, hes probably a vampire; in real life, hes probably married.)
  2. Dont confuse a mistake with a character flaw. (For example, everyone makes mistakes, but things like cheating on his first wife may be more of a character flaw that hell repeat with his second wife.)
In Chapter Five, Seduction and Sex 101: Why Romance Heroines Never Have to Fake an Orgasm, two of my favorite tips are:
  1. Sex is a team sport. (Meaning both parties should be active participants.)
  2. Focus on the most sensitive erogenous zoneyour head. (Because being in the right frame of mind is essential for reaching the O.)
Lisarenee: What are some of the most rewarding things about being an author?"

Christie: Oh, goodness. How many things would you like? I could on and on about these.
  1. Staying in my pajamas all day. (Seriously, bras are optional when youre a writer.)
  2. Getting paid to sit around and fantasize all day. (And the fantasies can range from romantic interludes to killing people.)
  3. Having a legit reason for the voices I hear in my head. (Instead of thinking Im crazy, everybody just thinks Im talented.)
  4. Being able to call all sorts of things research, from a road trip to fried pickles. I mean, if I want to try it, all I have to say is . . . “But sweetheart, its research for my book.” (Seriously, Ive gotten good wine, even better chocolate, and some nice very romantic vacations by using that line.)

Christie: Thank you so much for having me here. I had a blast! I hope you enjoy Dont Mess With Texas.
Lisarenee: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions.
Christie Craig presents: 15 Things you’ll learn from Don’t Mess With Texas that might surprise you
  1. Never, ever feed a dog broccoli.
  1. You might be surprised how the weight of a dead body in the trunk of your car can go unnoticed.
  1. Don’t ever joke about killing your ex . . . in front of witnesses.
  1. In the right situation, vomiting on someone can endear them to you.
  1. When a good-looking detective steals your underwear, he may not be a pervert; he could just be looking for blood splatter evidence.
  1. Some men think hospital gowns are sexy, especially when a breeze comes by and a detective already stole your underwear.
  1. When your grandmother is getting more action than you are, something’s not right with that picture.
  1. Bed bugs are nasty little creatures but they can come in handy when trying to get someone to fall back in love with you.
  1. In the right set of circumstances, morphine can be an aphrodisiac.
  1. The consumption of five cupcakes when your heart is hurting is not always a bad thing.
  1. The way a couple shares an ice cream cone tell the viewing public if they’re sharing bodily fluids.
  1. Nothing can bring all the unresolved issues to the surface in a romance more than finding a naked woman in your boyfriend’s bedroom.
  1. The journey to fall in love isn’t all sweetness and light; it can also have its darker moments where you hurt like hell but it’s still a journey that makes life worth living.
  1. Love can make you laugh so hard you pee in your pants, but it can also make you feel like as though a pit bull just used your heart as a chew toy.
  1. Things really are hotter in Texas.

    Jane & Christie,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and answering our questions.


    Giveaway is now closed.
    Winners are: 
    Mandy, Winnie, & Lisa Kay

    I’m giving away 3 sets of 2 books. The books included in each set are:
    1.  Heartstrings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves  
    2.  Don't Mess With Texas by Christie Craig

    Rules to be eligible for giveaway:
    1. Only residents of the US or Canada are eligible. 
    2. Please leave either your email address or a link to your Goodreads profile so I may get in contact with you to get your mailing address. No P.O. Boxes, please. If uncomfortable about giving out such information on my blog, please feel free to email me your information at
    3. Become a follower of my blog, if you aren't already.

    Winners will be randomly chosen. Books will be sent directly from publisher. Giveaway ends September 25th,  midnight eastern time. Winners will be posted on my blog and notified by email or message posted to them via Goodreads. Winners will have 48 hours to respond before another winner will be selected. Good Luck!


  1. Lisarenee,

    Thanks so much for having us here today. Great questions!


  2. Christie, Thanks so much for stopping by and for answering my questions. I loved your book. It was the first book of yours I've read, but it definitely won't be the last.

    So, this is the first book of the series? Will the series be entitled 'Don't Mess with Texas?"

  3. Hi Lisarenee,

    Thank you so much. I love writing stories with humor and heart. The series is titled, Hotter in Texas. The next book is Blame it on Texas--scheduled for Sept. 2012. The next one is Texas Hold "Em,--not yet scheduled.

  4. Hey, y'all! Just dropped by to say hi. Thanks, Lisarenee, for hosting us!

  5. Jane, Thanks for stopping by. Loved your book. I don't know if you'll drop in again, but as I'm ever the optimistic sort I thought I'd ask another question. Am I correct in assuming that you are a big 'I Love Lucy' fan?

  6. Yes! I love "I Love Lucy." When my daughter was young, every time it came on, we competed to see who could name the episode first. "It's the one where she puts on the Superman suit and gets stuck on the ledge!" "It's the one where she rides the lawnmower through the Holland Tunnel!" Now, just how familiar did both of us have to be with every episode to be able to do that?

    So when I had to name my heroine's three cats, I thought, why not Ricky, Lucy, and Ethel? Of course, as she said in the book, if she adopts one more, it had better be a boy. A girl cat named Fred would be really odd.

  7. I notice both authors list being able to sit around in their pj's as an advantage to being an author. I don't blame them for that, I love my comfy pj's, too. These books look really good. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. mbreakfield...yep, it's great to be able to work in my jammies. One tiny drawback--when the FedEx guy comes to the door and sees me looking like I just rolled out of bed. In romance novels, the heroines usually look gorgeous in the morning. I, on the other hand, look like Godzilla on a bad hair day. I'm lucky the poor guy doesn't run away screaming.

  9. Mbreakfield,

    Years ago, when my son was young I took him to mother's day out, wearing my old sweats and hubby's t-shirt. I heard several other moms talking behind me.

    "That's her. It's can't be her. She's doesn't look like a romance writer."

    I laughed. If only they knew that I'd dressed up rather nice, they should see me when I don't have to leave the house at all. LOL.


  10. Thanks, Lisarenee! I need some humor in my reading right now. Both of these look like they fit the bill.

  11. I'm a Texan living in another state. It looks like I could get a nice dose of some Texas life from these books. Funny how I'm only nostalgic now that I'm gone. :-)

  12. These are great interview questions for readers like me who are new to Ms. Graves and Ms. Craig. Both books sound like fun reads and are definitely on my radar now. I like how the hero is the matchmaker in Heartstrings and Diamond Rings and would love to see how that unfolds. I also already love the humour from what I can see will be a big part of Don't Mess With Texas! :)

    Thank you for the chance to win these!



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