The Magic City

The Magic City

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Can't Fake This: Casey Crow

(This interview is being published simultaneously on this blog and the Romance Magicians blog.  Please leave any comments on the Romance Magicians blog). 

Tell us about Can’t Fake This.

Casey: CAN’T FAKE THIS started out on a whim. At the last minute, I decided to enter this 10,000 word contest. I’d written spicy mainstream, but this was my first dive into erotic waters. I didn’t win the contest, but after having what I thought was a good start, I added some more words and low and behold, this erotic became the first manuscript I sold. 

The story is about a divorcee ready to reenter the dating world. Anna Ryan is determined to be the best “product on the market,” which requires a lot more experience so she propositions sexy police officer Chase Harris to teach her how to make hot, passionate love as opposed to just having sex. He takes it a step further, instructing each lesson based on The Twelve Days of Christmas. 

I love that you incorporated the 12 Days of Christmas into this story! Is there a favorite "day" in  your story that you'd like to share?

Casey:  Chase gives Anna two Dove chocolate candies to symbolize Two Turtle Doves. This is my favorite day because it’s so different from the rest. It’s the only day they don’t make out.  Anna would definitely disagree with me, and in fact gets in a huff because Chase makes her talk when she wants much more than that!

What was the most challenging part?

Casey: By far the most difficult part was coming up with so many detailed sex scenes and making each one fresh and unique. It sounds funny saying that because really there are worse things to have to write about than sex, you know? But twelve days equates to a lot of stripping down, and there are only so many ways you can take off your clothes. LOL

Since CAN'T FAKE THIS is a holiday-themed story, I'm what time of the year did you write the story?  And if you wrote it in say June or March, how did you get yourself in the holiday spirit? 
Casey: I wish I had a better story, but I didn’t have to break out the Christmas CDs in the middle of July. I wrote the original 10,000 words (for the contest) for a few weeks in October so as luck would have it, it was late November, early December when I decided to add more to the story.  I do think writing CAN’T FAKE THIS added to my Christmas spirit. It’s such a fun story.   
Describe your writing process. 

Casey:  I’m a plotter for sure, but the outline is very vague so if my characters want to take a detour, I’m okay with that. I’m also linear. As for as my schedule goes, after taking the children to school, I go to the gym (because if it doesn't happen in the a.m., it's not going to happen) then write until it's time to return to "mom" mode. I usually squeeze in some time late at night, too.  

What is the best writing advice you received? 

Casey: I’ve been fortunate to have tremendous support, especially from my mentor, the fabulous RITA nominated Cynthia Eden, whom I bug all the time with questions. I’m pretty sure along my journey since joining RWA in 2009, Cynthia said, “Don’t give up.” Rejections are to be expected. Keep writing through them, and your writing will only get better.  
What is the worst writing advice you received? 

My writing is southern and sassy. Down-to-earth. I try to write like folks actually talk so those no-no’s you’ve heard about “was” and adverbs, I’ve learned to take in stride. You can’t let rules overrule your voice.

What are you currently reading?

On my nightstand this week is Tangled up in Love by Heidi Betts. 

You’ve long been a fan of romance novels. What prompted you to cross over to the writing side of things?

Casey:  In high school and college, I only read text books. I was a bit of a nerd. Okay, that's a lie. I was a huge nerd so I didn’t even get started on romance until I was twenty-five. Oddly enough, my mom, an avid reader of all romance genres first encouraged me to write. About the time I started thinking, “I could do this,” she said, “You can.” Thank goodness too, because I love it and turned the hobby turned into a career when I joined Romance Writers of America in 2009.

You spent some time in pageant life. What was that like?

Casey:  As a dancer and gymnast, I was on stage my whole life, but I began competing in pageants at fifteen to prepare for Jr. Miss (now Distinguished Young Woman). I’ve done everything from glitz to natural. I prefer youth development programs where talent is the primary focus. I’ve competed in the Miss America and Miss Universe systems. I have to say it was pretty cool being Miss University of Alabama, but my most memorable reign was Miss Motorsports, where I got to be a NASCAR spokesmodel and hang out with all the famous drivers. 

Pageants typically have a negative connotation, but the friendships, public speaking skills, and confidence I gained make me a firm believer in the many positive aspects they provide. My eight-year-old daughter now competes and likes the fact that she has more nationals titles than me. She has sung in Branson, MO and opened a concert for CMA artist Ashton Shepherd. None of that would have been possible without her pageant experience. As a pageant coach for over twenty years, and I still get such an adrenaline rush teaching modeling and interview to girls of all ages. It’s incredibly rewarding to see one’s self-confidence grow with each lesson. 

If you cook, do crafty stuff, or have a hobby, please share the details with readers.

Casey: I do cook and love crafts, but considering I’m about four years behind on scrapbooking, I don’t think it counts if it stays in a box under the bed. The one thing I truly do for just me is take a dance class. I used to own a dance studio so this is a great way for me to keep in shape and up-to-date for when I choreograph for my pageant students.  I’m in a class with a bunch of other teachers and former dance competitors. It’s not easy by any means. The best part is that we rock the house during recital time. Old ladies, apparently, still have it. 

Is there a genre you’d like to write? 

Casey: I’d love to write YA. Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of teenagers either as a dance instructor or pageant coach, and it fascinates me how they flip flop between still being kids and being incredibly mature.

Any upcoming conferences?

 Casey: I’m presenting my PITCH PERFECT workshop at Silken Sands, sponsored by the Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA, the sister chapter to Southern Magic. You can register at  and enjoy March 16-18 on Pensacola Beach! Plus, the So. Magic contest winners will be announced there! 

I’ll also be hanging out with the cover hotties at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in April in Chicago. I’ll present the same workshop and they have asked me to be a “Pitch Doctor” in the pitch room to help writers right before the pitch to editors and agents.  

What's next for Casey Crow? 

Casey:  Thanks for asking! I have two other manuscripts on submission right now with various agents and editors. HUSTLER’S DREAM is about a southern socialite pool shark who hustles the wrong guy, or is he? FEELS SO RIGHT is about a country music agent and her ex-boyfriend songwriter. I’m also half way finished with FAST DREAM, the sequel to HUSTLER’S DREAM, about a female NASCAR tire changer in love with the driver. 

I just signed with Siren Publishing for DANCE WITH A MILLIONAIRE, which features a ballerina. It will be out in e-book in March 2012 and print in July. This one, like my other works aside from CAN’T FAKE THIS, are spicy mainstream.

I swear they’re not autobiographical! But, I’m passionate about the things I enjoy, and they invariably make their way into my writing. My tagline is “Sexy, Sass & Southern” and all my heroines are just that.

Buy Kindle version on Amazon 
Buy all versions at Loose, Id
Visit Casey at 
See the CAN’T FAKE THIS book trailer 
Follow on Twitter @caseyecrow and Facebook Casey Crow 

Casey Crow is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Alabama with degrees in Business Management and Dance. She received her Master of Business Administration from the University of Mobile. Casey resides in south Alabama where she stays busy running her two young children to way too many activities. She also works as a dance choreographer, pageant coach of twenty years, professional emcee and model, and certified Miss America preliminary judge. In fact, she is a former Miss University of Alabama and NASCAR spokesmodel. She is addicted to CASTLE & REVENGE and works out constantly to compensate for her addiction to Barq's root beer. She enjoys playing pool, tennis & golf, but never has the time and is therefore, pitiful at all three. Casey writes erotic and spicy contemporary romances with the tagline “Sexy, Southern & Sassy.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Tis the Season (to be writing)

After a long hiatus from writing due to a booger of a trial, I was able to enjoy some holiday cheer at the Southern Magic (Birmingham RWA chapter) Christmas party. It was just what I needed to inspire a little BICHOK action!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

E-readers Killed My Gift List

Giving books as gifts used to be my thing. I loved finding a book for a friend or family member as a Christmas or birthday present that would introduce them to a new friend or world. I would spend the year trying to get signed books for a gift basket. It was my quest. My mission.

Then came the Kindle, the Nook, the iPad and the digital revolution. It swept me away. I'll knife you if you lay a finger on my Nook Color. All my books are in one place. No piles toppling off the nightstand. No lost paperbacks on trips. Everyone in my family is on board. You know the revolution is in full swing when my mother and mother-in-law both have e-readers.

But what can I get people for presents if they are going to electronic books? Gift cards? I can hear my grandmother tisk-tisking at that idea right now. It feels like cheating. Maybe I could wrap the card in a suggested reading list.

I can't be alone in this dilemma. How do you plan on adapting to the digital revolution when it comes to sharing your favorite authors and stories? 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Perfect Fit by Naima Simone

Check out this trailer for Naima Simone's A PERFECT FIT.  It looks fantastic.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Adventures with an International Flair: Jillian Chantal

Jillian Chantal is both a lawyer and a writer of romantic fiction (also, she's a super cool lady).   Most often she can be found either at her keyboard banging out words, working on a legal issue or just surfing the web and calling it research.  Her other guilty pleasure is her one-sided love affair with the actor Alan Rickman. She owns all his movies and would probably give away her cat for a chance to meet him (oh Snape, you handsome devil, you). 
Jillian is a member of the Gulf Coast RWA chapterHer third novel, Redemption for the Devil, was released by Desert Breeze Publishing in July 2011. She graciously agreed to sit down and tell us a little about it.


In Redemption for the Devil, your heroine Mary Margaret Kincade undergoes a dramatic career change before being blind-sided by a man who is the opposite of everything she thought she needed/wanted.  Tell us about her journey.

Peg’s journey is two part, really. One is a physical journey that starts with her accepting the fact that her father is lost at sea and probably never coming home. She decides to make a new life for herself as she can’t bear staying in Cork where her odious cousin has taken over the family business as well as the home she’s always known. She musters her courage and sets off on a voyage first to England and then across the ocean. 

The second part of her journey is a journey of emotion/growth as a person. Peg always thought she’d live in her hometown of Cork, but when she leaves the safety of her known environment, she has to accept lots of new people with different beliefs into her life. She makes friends with a girl from Southampton who is a Protestant and a bit of a wild child. Peg finds that she can love her friend anyway despite her own strict Catholic upbringing and her belief that pre-marital sex is not acceptable. Peg eventually finds that she has grown and changed in her own beliefs as well as her ability to accept people who are not the same as her and don’t necessarily have the same moral code as she does.

Your hero, Liam Cormac, a member of the Irish Republican Army, is torn between duty and his heart.  How does he handle struggling with this conflict?

I don’t want to give away any plot points but suffice it to say he has a lot of angst. He’s been beating himself up for years over an incident that happened when he was a teen that hardened his heart. This story is about that frozen heart. Not only is Peg’s dad lost in the Arctic ocean, she meets a man who’s heart is as hard and cold as an iceberg. Her journey ties into both these men and what she has learned from one and will learn from the other.

Your story is set in the 1920s.  What were some of the fun things you gleaned from your research that you worked into Redemption for the Devil?

I really didn’t do new research for this story other than to check dates and historical detail on buildings. I love this era of history and have Irish/English ancestry so I’ve always been interested in the facts and fashions of the time period. The story was quite easy to write since I had all this info already in my head. Seances were all the rage in the late 1800s and early 1900s so I really wanted to work that in. 

One funny thing I did was write the story with Liam as the  bartender and Peg as the lounge singer. They crossed the ocean and I’m writing merrily along, sometimes even humming. Then, the big moment: I’ll never forget my thought (and I won’t type it verbatim as it was not a nice word) when I pulled the Mauretania into port in New York City. It was along the lines of, “Oh, pickle juice, the Volstead Act. Now what?”

The Volstead Act is Prohibition- the Eighteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. DUH. No liquor sales by law. What was I going to do with a bartender and lounge singer? My knowledge of the era surfaced from my little pea brain and thus, I was not going to be embarrassed and hauled off by the historical police. I was gonna solve this issue, by golly and I did. I decided to send Peg to a speakeasy! Chicago! Gangsters!

I wiped my brow in relief and kept on going with the story.

Describe your writing process.   

Usually the first thing I get is the hero’s name. Then the idea of the basic story comes. I make a sound track of songs that I think relate to where I think the story is going. I’m a complete pantser and have written many manuscripts with a one sentence premise. 

Once I have the soundtrack, I immerse myself in the songs. I play them in the car and at my desk. Then I start to write. I usually get five to six chapters in and then the ending comes to me and I’ll write the last two chapters. Then I go back and weave it together in the middle. 

What is the best writing advice you received?

Don’t try to use someone else’s process. I did try to change my process twice when friends told me how they write. I was stymied and all the joy was sucked out of the process for me. I told my friend, Cynthia Eden, about the new process making me freeze up and have no creativity and she looked at me and said, “then stop.”

I looked at her, light dawning and said, “I can do that?” LOL!

What is the worst writing advice you received?

That whole rule about not using adverbs and gerunds. Sometimes, they have to be used. People talk that way and you have to use them in dialogue and sometimes even in the narrative. (Gasp) They are parts of the English language for a reason.

What are you currently reading?

I’m a reviewer for the Season for Romance and I’m reading an ARC of A Vampire Christmas Carol; Ebenezer Scrooge, Vampire Slayer. It’s pretty good. The author has a good grasp of Dickens’ voice.

Are there any writing conferences in 2012 that you would recommend, and why?

The Silken Sands Conference sponsored by the Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA is my chapter’s conference and I somehow got roped into, oops, I mean nominated for, chairman. We have an exciting line up of editors and agents as well as some cool workshops. And besides, who doesn’t love the beach? It’s in Pensacola and is March 16-18, 2012. Registration is open now.  Another reason to come is that the winners of your very own chapters’ contest will be announced at ours. FUN!

Thanks for having me Heather. It was fun even though you asked me some tough questions there at the beginning. I hope to see a bunch of you at the conference.

You can find Jillian at her websiteTwitter, and Facebook. Be sure to register for the Silken Sands Conference so you can meet her in person!

Enjoy this trailer for Redemption for the Devil. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

So I Married a Dalvahni Warrior

The weather may be cooling down, but the heat is ratcheting up in a new anthology from Angie Fox, Kathy Love and Lexi George.  I am pleased to have a guest interview with Lexi George, one of the three authors who contributed to the soon to be released So I Married a Demon Slayer.  Lexi's debut novel, Demon Hunting in Dixie, came out earlier this year and features the so-hot-they'll-make-your-teeth-sweat Dalvahni warriors.  We see the return of the Dalvahni in Lexi's story The Bride Wore Demon Dust.


           Tell me about your hero? I’ve always wanted to know more about demon slayers.

Rafe is a Dalvahni warrior, an emotionless, impassive race of inter-dimensional bounty hunters created to hunt down and capture rogue demons before they wreak havoc on other worlds.  The Dalvahni are matchless in battle, but a teensy bit lacking in the self-awareness department.  
As in totally clueless.  They feel battle rage and lust, but little else in the way of emotion.  
Oh, yeah, and the Dalvahni happen to be hot-tays, tall, broad-shouldered, heavily muscled and drop dead good looking.
Rafe Dalvahni is no exception, with his garnet red hair and piercing green eyes. He considers Brand, his fellow warrior, beneath contempt after Brand falls in love with a Southern girl.  The Dalvahni do not love.  Such a thing is unheard of.
Rafe regards Brand’s peculiar affliction as an anomaly among the Dalvahni, a freak occurrence that will never be repeated.  Certainly, nothing of the sort will ever happen to him.
And then he meets Bunny Raines, the Hannah, Alabama librarian, and Rafe Dalvahni super stud falls in love. It takes him a while to glom onto the fact thought.  Like I said, the dude is clueless.

Who is your heroine, and how is she dealing with her new hubby?

Bunny Nicole Raines is a small town librarian with a double stripper name.  (She will never forgive her parents for not naming her Emma or Jane.)  She meets Rafe Dalvahni one night when he saves her from a mugger, and falls completely and totally in love with the gorgeous Mr. Dalvahni. Everything is perfect, buttercups and roses, until after the wedding, when she finds out that her new husband is (a) not human; (b) an immortal demon slayer; (c) she was really attacked by a demon, not a mugger; and, (d) she is no longer human, because Rafe changed her when he saved her from certain death after the demon attack.
Bunny is not a happy camper.  To top it all off, she is pregnant, although she hasn’t told Rafe.  So, not only is she married to a stranger and no longer human, she’s pregnant with ET.  
How does she handle it?  Like most of us would, I suspect.  She runs, away from the wedding and away from Rafe.  He follows her, of course.  There’s a demon on her trail, although she doesn’t know it.

What was the inspiration for your novella?

Megan Records, my editor, asked me to participate in the anthology.  I was thrilled, especially when I found out that Angie Fox and Kathy Love had also been asked to participate, but I was a little nervous, too.  I’d never written a novella.  Megan told me the theme—So I Married A Demon Slayer— and left the rest up to me.  Since I already had my small-Southern-town-gets-invaded-by-demons-and-hunky-demon-hunters thing going with the first book, I decided to go with that.

How different was the process for writing your novella as opposed to one of your novels?

My process is pretty much the same every time:  organized chaos.  I’m a pantser with plotter envy. I figure out who my hero and heroine are going to be and come up with an idea for the story and start writing.  After I’ve written a few chapters and gotten to know my characters a little, I make a list of plot points and try to connect the dots.

What is your next project?
Right now I’m working on book three of the demon hunter series, DEMON HUNTING IN A DIVE BAR.  New characters and new story, so it’s going a little slow, but that’s typical for me.  

What are you reading now?
I am reading Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series and I’m reading SIZZLING SIXTEEN by Janet Evanovich.  Love me some Sookie and Stephanie!

Thanks to Lexi for agreeing to this interview.  Please leave a comment to win a copy of So I Married a Demon Slayer. You must live in the U.S. to win.  A winner will be announced in the comment thread on September 2, 2011.

You can follow Lexi on Twitter at @LexiGeorge12 or you can like her fan page on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Publicity: An Interview with Maryglenn McCombs

      Whether you are published or pre-published, book publicity is something you must be mindful of.  The amazing Maryglenn McCombs has graciously agreed to endure an interview with me in order to share some of her knowledge on the subject.  Maryglenn has actively been working in the book publishing industry for nearly 20 years.  She has served as a guest lecturer for publishing workshops, conferences and events, including serving as a panelist for the Southern Festival of Books. She is a member of the Publishers Association of the South (PAS) and Publishers Marketing Association (PMA). 

.       What are the reasons an author should consider using a publicist?

I think there are two main reasons authors should consider hiring a publicist. First, it makes a huge difference to have someone who is familiar with the media, understands the timing of when (and when not) to pitch a book, how to pitch a book, knows what reviewers and journalists are looking for, and knows the ins and outs of how to get a book reviewed, covered, or featured. Second, I think it would be extremely hard to try to promote my own book—assuming I had a book to promote. I would definitely want to hire a go-between to do the promoting for me. That isn’t to say that there aren’t a multitude of great authors who also happen to be great self-promoters, but I would definitely want to have someone doing that work on my behalf as opposed to trying to do it myself. I have reviewer contacts who’ve told me they prefer working with publicists and while they love hearing from authors, don’t necessarily want to be pitched by the authors themselves. Sometimes that can get a little tricky, I’m told.

            With social media becoming more and more prevalent, how have you seen your job as a publicist change?

Social media has definitely had an impact on my job. Journalists—especially those who have a social media presence—seem to be more accessible (and it doesn’t hurt to be able to know what they’re thinking, blogging, tweeting, or Facebook-ing about). Social media, in some ways, has exponentially increased the value and scope of good reviews. I encourage all of my authors to share good reviews and coverage via social media. Having an outstanding quote or review to share with your social network can be a wonderful way to get people excited about your book—and build momentum.

3       Is there a timeline that an author should consider when it comes to publicity and/or contacting a publicist, and if so, what is it?

In a perfect world, all authors would contact me about 6 months in advance of publication. In the real world, I’m happy to have a little advance notice (at least a month) but do occasionally take on books that are already released. Having lots of lead time can help, but there are ways to promote books past their release dates. In fact, I tend to tell authors that it is really never too late to promote a book. I recommend starting early, though—or at least that authors start thinking about PR early.

4       You have a reputation for “thinking outside the book” when it comes to publicizing your clients and their books.  What are some of your favorite things you have done to promote a client/book?

Thanks for asking that question. I have some good stories but my favorite has to be one that happened last December.  I’ve worked with mystery writer Don Bruns for years—I think we’ve done 7 or 8 books together now. I begged him for years to include my Old English Sheepdog, Garcia, as a character in one of his books. (On a sad note, I should mention that we lost our Sweet Garcia in June after 11 wonderful and glorious years.)
I finally wore Don down and he made Garcia a character in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, a mystery novel that came out last December.

I had heard through the grapevine that Rush Limbaugh was a proud Old English Sheepdog owner so I sent his dogs (Abby and Wellesley) a pitch letter from my dog, Garcia, telling them about the book and how great it would be if the dogs could convince their “dad” (Rush Limbaugh) to talk about the book –and Garcia, of course—on his show.

And he did!  So now I have the distinction of telling people that I was successful at getting my dog (and Don’s book) on the Rush Limbaugh Show. Don and I still get quite a chuckle over that story. Our phones rang off the hook for days…I had no idea just how many loyal Rush Limbaugh listeners there were!

5       In a challenging economy such as this one, each dollar counts.  For a pre-published author who has to decide between spending money on conferences, memberships in writing organizations, websites, etc., what advice do you have for the not-yet-published author in terms of where to direct their resources?

Conferences, conferences, conferences.  So valuable—and the networking opportunities alone far exceed the price of admission. I’m a big fan of genre-specific conferences and recommend them highly to both published authors and those looking to be published.

6       What book(s) are you  currently reading?

I am reading an incredible November mystery, Fever Dream by Dennis Palumbo (Poisoned Pen Press) which I’ll be representing. It is so good it is almost criminal that I get to call this “work." I am trying—trying—to convince myself to pick up The Art of Racing in the Rain but I’m not quite there—yet. In time!

Thank you so much, Heather; I appreciate the fun questions!

Maryglenn's website is