Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Ranger is Here!

Just in time for the New Year, THE RANGER hits the stores today! This is Arthur Campbell's story. Arthur was forced to leave the Highland Guard in book #1 (The Chief) and has been embedded in the English camp for a couple of years but is anxious to return to the fold. On his final mission for Bruce, however, he comes face to face with the one woman who can unmask him. As always I can't wait for you guys to tell me what you think.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

And the winners are . . .

The TWO winners of this week's contest are Lynn Murphy Earl and Helga Marie! Congratulations you guys! Email me your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders, along with the email address you would like me to send the gift certificate to, and I'll get it off to you ASAP.

Happy Holidays to you all. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment the past few weeks. I know it's a busy time. Only a few more days . . .

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Scent of a Man

Welcome to the last week of my giveaways leading up to the release of THE RANGER on December 28th. This week you have two times the chance to win. On Friday, I'll be using random.org to pick TWO winners from this week's comments. Each person will receive one $25 gift certificate from their choice of either Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders. Normal rules apply.

If you haven't seen the hilarious Old Spice commercial above, take a quick peek. It's a good starter for something that has been on my mind this past week. My husband bought some new aftershave lotion that had a pretty strong scent. It wasn't "bad" or anything, but it make me realize how much I don't like scents on men.

It's funny because I (like most romance authors) always write about how amazing my heroes smell (i.e. dark, spicy, wind, sea, forest, pine, sandalwood, myrtle, and the ubiquitous heather to name a few). It's kind of expected. Use the five senses we all hear in craft talks. But in reality I don't think I want to notice anything other than maybe the slight hint of soap. L'eau to Irish Spring, LOL.

I decided to go shopping for a new aftershave for my husband since he seems inclined to throw something on and couldn't find anything that I liked. To me they were all too strong and overpowering. You'll have to wait until after Christmas to hear what I decided to do. (He sometimes reads the blog).

What about you? Do you like scent on men? Do you have a favorite aftershave? Maybe I can be convinced . . .

Friday, December 17, 2010

And the winner is . . .

The winner of the $25 gift certificate for this week is [drumroll] Madhura! Congratulations!! Email me your choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Borders, along with the email address you would like me to send it to, and I'll get it off to you ASAP.

Thanks to everyone for commenting this week. Looking ahead to the FINAL week before THE RANGER, here's the hint: two times the fun. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two Week Countdown!

Two weeks from today THE RANGER hits the stores. To celebrate the release of the third book in my new Highland Guard series, one lucky commenter of this week's blog will receive a $25 gift certificate from your choice of Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Borders.

I will use random.org to pick the winner on Friday. The same rules as normal apply (only one comment per person will count, must reply with a valid email by Sunday Dec. 19th, etc.).

I thought I was in such good shape this week. I did a lot of my shopping early and had some great ideas for the rest. So how did I end up running around all day yesterday to try to get some packages in the mail? Sigh. I also have a birthday coming up on Friday (43, yikes!), so it's a busy week.

Have you done all of your holiday shopping? Anything special you want this year? I'm hoping Santa brings me a new ski jacket (hint, hint, Dave). Or maybe you're taking a fun trip?

Friday, December 10, 2010

And the winner is . . .

Marla at Stolen Bon Bons!!!! Just send me your snail mail address at the email on my website (here) by Sunday night, and I'll pop the early copy of THE RANGER in the mail to you. Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for the fabulous comments. You'll want to check back next week for another prize (hint: it might help with some of your holiday shopping :)).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Early Copy Alert!

One of the most exciting days in the publication process for me came last week when I opened a manilla envelope to find an early copy of THE RANGER. There's just something about pulling out that first copy and seeing it all bundled up in one beautiful package. I know I say this every time, but I really love this cover. Something about the soft greens and the horseman in the background (abs aren't too bad either, LOL).

Since THE RANGER is coming out right smack in the middle of the holiday break (Tuesday December 28th), I thought it might be fun to do a few special blog contests leading up to the release. So for the next few weeks I'll be posting a new contest at the beginning of the week and then choosing a winner on Friday. The first prize? You guessed it, an early copy of THE RANGER--signed if you want it.

Last night we brought home our Christmas tree, which the kids have pretty much taken over decorating. For my husband's and my first Christmas together, I bought the Reed and Barton annual Christmas bell ornament to mark the occasion. I liked it so much, I bought one the next year and a tradition was born. Some years I delayed a little too long and ended up having to hunt for the darn thing for days, but I've always managed to find one. Last night my daughter pointed out "we have too many bells," and I realized we have TWENTY of them! Wow. Hard to think we've been together that long.

So finding the annual Christmas bell has become one of our family traditions (along with baking Gingerbread Cookies :)). Have you started any new traditions in your family? What was your favorite holiday tradition growing up?

I'll pick a winner on Friday (using random.org) from the comments. Winners will have until Sunday to contact me with their email/snail mail addy. Only one comment will be counted from each person. All other typical rules apply. Can't wait for Arthur to find a good home!

Monday, November 29, 2010

The McCarty's European Vacation

We're not quite the Griswolds, but sometimes it feels close, LOL. Sorry for the radio silence around here, but I just got back from 10 rainless but cold days in London with the family. We had a great time, managing to fit in day trip's to York, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Warwick Castle.

I also toured Westminster Palace (better known as the Houses of Parliament) with my daughter. I've been to London 7 or 8 times, but it was the first time I'd managed to secure a ticket! The above photo is a plaque in the old Hall building (one of the two remaining buildings of the old medieval palace) marking where William Wallace stood trial! I had some serious shivers going.

Below are a couple photos of the Hall--it was truly magnificent. The most beautiful medieval hall I've ever seen. As Mel Brooks says, "It's good to be the King!"

As you can see they were getting ready to decorate the Christmas tree.

Every time I go to London my vow to live there some day gets a little stronger. I really regret not living there when I had a chance (i.e. before kids). I had an opportunity to do a semester abroad when I was at college, but I couldn't bear the idea of leaving all my friends. Sigh. Hindsight.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Anyone do any traveling? Have you ever wanted to live in a different country for a while?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Time Travel

I've always been fascinated with the idea of time travel. I think it probably stems from watching a couple movies when I was young (Somewhere in Time and Time after Time) and then--but of course--reading OUTLANDER in the early 90s. That book not only helped to foster my love of all things Scotland (particularly those strapping lads), but also started me on a quest for great time travel novels. One of my all time favorites is GREEN DARKNESS by Anya Seton. I still have a soft spot for Scottish historical time travels, I suppose they are technically the only "paranormal" books I regularly read. I took a break from romance reading in college and law school, but "rediscovered" my love of the genre thanks to Karen Marie Moning's early Highlander books. I also loved Michael Crichton's Timeline--both the book and the movie (hello Gerry).

I love the fantasy of thinking that I could actually go back in time and experience the history that I love reading about. If I could pick one time period to go back to, I think I would pick medieval Scotland (Braveheart/Robert the Bruce). I'd love to know what it was really like. But I'd only want to go back for a quick peek. I don't think I'd want to stay there too long. Life was pretty brutal, especially for women.

What about you . . . what time and place would you want to go to?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Sniffing Ski Season in the Air

With Saturday night's "fall back," it really feels like winter around here. Dark at 5 . . . yuck! Fittingly, it rained (poured actually) all day on Sunday and then today we had a nice cold snap. Was it only last Friday that I played golf?

I think I've mentioned before that I love golf. I've played off an on now for about 20 plus years, although with the exception of a few years early in my husband's baseball career (i.e. before children), I haven't really been able to play with enough regularity to get good. I'll have some great holes, and then some not so great ones. :) We've actually started to play quite a bit more the last year or two because our kids finally reached the point where they could play 18 holes decently. Talk about a whole new world opening up, a natural foursome!

With winter coming, golf will take a back seat to my other favorite activity: snow skiing. I've been skiing since I was five, and my kids have been on skis since they were 2. When my husband retired from baseball, he picked up the sport for the first time (which was hilarious (she says with an evil laugh)). Now the whole family can ski together. Unfortunately, we'll probably only get one big trip in this year because my son is going back for his second of three foot surgeries in January.

Golf and skiing are pretty much my main outdoor activities these days. One of the biggest changes for me over the past five years since I've sold is the pretty significant decrease in my physical activity. I had been playing quite a bit of tennis, worked out 3 times a week and walked most of the other days. Sadly, I haven't played tennis in a LONG time, I don't get out to walk, and I'm lucky to work out 2 days a week.

I should find the time to do more, but it doesn't seem to happen. My "goal" is to limit my writing time to school hours so I can be available when the kids get home. Taking time to up my activity level eats into those writing hours, and frankly it just seems to get harder and harder to get my butt out of the chair.

What do you guys like to do to keep active? Any fun sports that you are in to? Or, like me, do you find it hard enough to get all the other stuff done?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Better than Glee!

Sorry, Ing, I couldn't resist. :) This video has gone viral in SF. The cleverness of people on YouTube never ceases to amaze me. For those you wondering what my son's costume for Halloween is all about this video will give you an idea.

My mom found a picture of me as wonder woman so be on the look out for picture soon. :)

UPDATED: as promised here it is! I think I'm about 11, and that's my sister and brother with me. Hilarious, isn't it?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Trick or Treat!

Well I wanted to do this blog with plenty of "show and tell," but my Mom has been out of town and hasn't had a chance to go through the old pictures for me. So you'll just have to use your imagination . . .

With Halloween just around the corner, my kids are putting the final details on all their costumes. My daughter is going to be a Highland Dancer and my son is going to be Brian Wilson from the NLCS Champion Giants. If you guys don't know who he is, he's the guy with the black Bluto beard. :)

Since we're going to a Halloween party on Saturday night, I'm going to have to find something to dress up as, too. A couple years ago I dressed up as a "Scottish Soccer Hooligan." If you've ever seen the old SNL Mike Meyers skit, you know what I'm talking about.

When I was young, there were a few "standby" costumes that aren't so PC anymore. Anyone else remember dressing up as a Gypsy or a Hobo? Don't hear those much anymore, do you?

But I think my top three all time favorite Monica Halloween costumes are: Princess Leia when I was about 11, Wonder Woman when I was year or two older, and a Raiderette as a young teen. NOW don't you wish I had those pictures? LOL.

How about you...what were your favorite Halloween costumes when you were young?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So Whatcha Reading?

I finally decided to get with the rest of the world and read THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO when I was in Scotland. The traveling slowed me down for a while, but by time I hit around page 150 or so, I zoomed to the end. Really enjoyed it. I had a chance to watch the movie (foreign version) and it was great. Highly recommend, although be warned that there are some difficult parts to watch. If you've read the book, you know what I'm talking about. I'd be interested to hear what you guys thought, if you've read it.

I also just finished reading a book I picked up at conference that I really enjoyed: Margaret Mallory's KNIGHT OF DESIRE. I love a good medieval and this one certainly qualifies. I've heard great things about the rest of the "All the King's Men" series as well and look forward to reading the other two.

I just read the first few pages of Maya Bank's latest, THE DARKEST HOUR, and it's already sucked me in. That's on the agenda for tonight. Might have to go to be early :)

Other than that I've been dabbling in this and that. What about you guys? Anything you've loved lately? Anything you're really looking forward to? (Other than a certain book in December, of course!)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not Hero Material

I've been glued to the internet today, as I'm sure many of you have been, watching the amazing drama unfolding in Chile with the rescue of the 33 miners. Seeing that first guy emerge from the pod brought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine what an ordeal these men must have gone through.

But I also fixated on another part of the story--the six (thanks for the correct number B.E.) rescuers who agreed to go DOWN in the tunnel to help prepare the miners for their journey to the surface. My reaction was immediate and visceral--no way would I do that!

It made me think again about what sets heroes like firefighters, police officers, and soldiers apart. They do those things that the rest of us can't imagine doing. I can't think of many things more terrifying than descending thousands of feet into a mine shaft. Have I ever mentioned my biggest primal fear? You guessed it: being buried alive.

I guess that means I'm not hero material, LOL. What about you . . . would you go down in that tube?

Monday, October 04, 2010

I'm back!

And except for a bad case of jet lag and the inevitable cold (why do I ALWAYS get sick when I travel?), I had an absolutely fabulous time.

It's hard to explain how exciting it is to see some of the places that I feel like I've come to know in my novels. Walking on the same ground as Bruce and his men did over seven hundred years ago and knowing that it hasn't changed much is pretty powerful and at times very moving. The above picture is a good example of this. That's me and Veronica at the Bruce stone which overlooks the battle site of Glen Trool (which you read about in THE HAWK). It was one of the two rain days that we had, but the weather only seemed to add to the experience--note those fingers of mist on the hill behind us. Pretty evocative. Here's a photo detailing the inscription on the stone.

I'm so fortunate to have found the world's greatest traveling companion. Being able to share these moments with someone who totally gets it makes it even more special. A large part of our itinerary was devoted to the Bruce sites and places that I will be writing about in my novels, but we also visited some extreme coastlines and Aberdeen which focus in Veronica's upcoming YA Vampire series and her Clan MacAlpin Scottish historical series. We joke that she's the Isaac to my Julie MacCoy, because I love all the planning and she just goes with the flow.

When she mentioned that she wanted to see some dramatic coastlines I knew exactly where we had to go: Northern Scotland. Not only did we visit Dunnet Head (the most northerly point of the mainland), but we also visited Cape Wrath--the northwestern tip of the mainland and undoubtedly one of the most remote places you can travel in Britain. We were one of 2,500 people a year who take the ferry ride and then a 30 minute (at time terrifying) minibus drive over some of the most desolate countryside you will ever see to reach the lighthouse and cliffs of Cape Wrath. Surprisingly "wrath" doesn't refer to the fury of the wind and waves that strike the coastline, but is an old Viking word for turning point. The area is used by the British SAS (special forces) to train and is often closed to the public--for good reason as they drop bombs in the area! That's Veronica, our travel guide Fiona, and me on the cliffside.

It's hard to capture the beauty of the place--or the danger--but this picture of some absolutely crazy (aka stupid) young tourist gives you an idea. I seriously thought the girl was going to fall off the cliff. If I'd been her mother I would have wrung her neck.

Anyway, I'll be posting many more pics from the trip over the next couple months on my website and flckr pages so be on the look out! Hope you all had a nice couple of weeks. Once I recover, it will be time for me to hit the keyboard again. Good news: three more Highland Guard novels will be on the way!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

All My Bags are Packed . . . (cue John Denver)

It's not a great clip, but the song is one of my favorites. And, in this case, quite appropriate!

It will be quiet around here for a couple weeks while I'm in Scotland, but I'll have TONS of great pictures for you when I get back. I'm planning to visit many of the places in the first few Highland Guard books, so you'll be able to see some of the things you've read about. Most of you already know about these, but if you are new don't miss the "picture books" on my website where I try to highlight portions of the novels with pictures.


Friday, September 17, 2010

And the Winner is . . .

Mari M! Please contact me here with your snail mail addy to claim your prize. If I hear from you by Saturday, it will be ready to go in the mail next week. If not, it will have to wait until I get back. Congratulations!! I know you will enjoy Veronica's book.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Would you take this job?

Talk about a perfect set-up for a gothic novel! How would you like to live in a lighthouse on a tiny island in the San Francisco bay? I heard about the job posting in our local paper. You would be responsible for running the lighthouse and small inn on the island, as well as ferrying guests back and forth to the island. The pay is good: $60-100k a year, but you also need have a commercial boating license. The good news is that there is electricity and internet. Bad news is that water is dependent on rain. Any takers?

I've always loved lighthouses (and gothic novels), but I think even aside from the job responsibilities this would be too much for me. Although it could be romantic, I think the romance would wear off for me in a couple days and stir craziness would set in.

What about you . . . does this sound like paradise or a nightmare?

And speaking of paradise, in honor of my upcoming trip to Scotland with fellow romance author Veronica Wolff-appropriately dubbed Mommy Abandonment Tour #2--I will be giving away a copy of her latest release DEVIL'S HIGHLANDER. It's the first book in her new Clan MacAlpin series (kind of a Party of Five meets the Highlands--with claymores, LOL) that you guys are going to love. I loved the first book and am already looking forward to book #2. As a travel partner, I deserve an early copy don't you guys think?

I'll pick a winner from the commenters on Friday.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

USA Today and NYT!!!! (Think that's enough exclamations?)

Erik hit the bestseller lists today, debuting at #23 on the NYT and #58 on the USA Today. I'm absolutely THRILLED! A huge thank you to everyone who raced out to purchase the book the first week, I truly appreciate all the support. You guys are the best. I'll be toasting you tonight. :)

Monday, September 06, 2010

It Doesn't Get Much Better Than This

The hubster and I spent a relaxing labor day basking in the sun, drinking beer, and eater lobster sandwiches (delicious!) at the ballpark. As you can see, we had some pretty cool seats. They are literally right on the field--you can see how close Chone Figgins was--and come with all you can eat food and non-alcoholic drinks. Funny enough they had nothing to do with being a former player, but came though a business contact of Dave's. Wish we'd had seats like this when Dave played, LOL.

It was actually a busy weekend. Aside from the A's game today, we went to the Highland Games yesterday (always a blast) with fellow Scottish author Veronica Wolff and her family, and Saturday was the first Stanford tailgate--I mean football game--of the season. I was able to try out my new tailgating margarita machine, which, you'll be happy to know, performed beautifully.

True to form we are FINALLY getting some warm weather in NorCal. It's been pretty cold this summer, but it was gorgeous this weekend.

Anyone take in any games this weekend? Hit the beach? Do anything else fun? Labor Day always feels like the end of summer to me. Tomorrow it's back to reality. :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Erik is in the house!

No, not that Eric (didn't Alexander Skarsgard look yummy at the Emmy's last night, BTW?), but Erik MacSorley, my half-Viking, half-Gael seafarer hero of THE HAWK, the second book in my Highland Guard series, which hits stores today! (I told you August 31st would be here before you knew it. :))

I think I've mentioned before that I grew up watching a lot of old movies since my mom was an old movie buff. If you seen the list of "My Favorites" on my website, you know that Errol Flynn is my favorite old movie star. Well, Erik is somewhat my ode to Errol in his swashbuckling pirate movies (Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk). Hint: If you've seen any of those movies pay particular attention to the end of the first scene in Chapter One of The Hawk.

I'll be anxiously (and I mean anxiously) awaiting your reactions. Book release day is always a mix of excitement and nail biting for me as I wait for the "reviews" to start filtering through. But a HUGE thanks to B.E. for the great early first returns. :)

If you are new to the series or just want a quick refresher on what's happened, I'll be posting a new section on my website today called "All About the Highland Guard" that will catch you up. But BEWARE there are spoilers for THE HAWK in some of the sections.

I hope you are all enjoying the last days of summer. My kids go back to school on Wednesday, and I've been frantically running around trying to figure out how my son is going to navigate the thousands of stairs at middle school with two casts on his feet (corrective foot surgery). Boy, do I feel sympathy for those people who need accessibility full time. It's sad how we don't think about these things until they happen to us, isn't it?

So other than getting ready for school it's been pretty boring around casa McCarty. We've also been catching up on Glee (what a great show!) and watching True Blood, Top Chef, and Pillars of the Earth. We are also really enjoying the new show Rizzoli and Isles based on the Tess Gerritsen books--she's a favorite of mine. I've also been catching up on a little reading lately, including devouring MOCKINGJAY in one day last week. If any of you read it, I'd be intereseted to hear what you think.

Finally, I'm doing a couple of blogs this week. If you have time, come on over and check me out today at RomCon's blog and Friday at the Lovestruck Novice.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And Erik Goes To . . .

Congrats to B.E.!!! Send me your snail mail address and I'll get him in the mail ASAP. Thanks to everyone for posting. I hope to be able to write all the stories you guys are looking forward to!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hot Off the Presses!

One of my favorite days in the publishing process is opening the package that contains the freshly printed copy of my next book. Last week, it was THE HAWK, which will be in stores on August 31st (thanks to Doreen for pointing out a typo on my webpage about the release day, which will hopefully be corrected by time most of you read this).

I love the cover of this book, but wait until you see the colors. I think it's the best yet, and hopefully those vibrant purples and blues will really pop off those bookshelves.

So I want to share a little of the excitement with one of you. From now until Thursday night tell me which member of the Highland Guard you are most looking forward to reading about. (I won't be writing about all of them, but hope to write most.) A winner will be picked from the comments on Friday. As the last time, you must contact me by the following day (Saturday) or another name will be drawn so make sure to check back!

Congratulations to Diane W. and DiP (Anonymous)! You are the winners selected by random.org! Please email me by Monday with your snail mail addy. Thanks to everyone for voting on the poll. Looks like Rory has pulled away from the pack, after running neck and neck with Tor for most of the week. Guess those first loves die hard, LOL!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So Which Team Are you On?

This blog was inspired by an email I received from a reader who couldn't decide who was her favorite: Tor or Patrick? I thought I'd do a little poll and see who's the frontrunner. I chose the four guys who have garnered the most private votes from reader email, but feel free to post in the comments if you have a different choice.
Let me know WHO YOU PICKED in the comments and you will be eligible to win a set of books that I brought back from RWA giveaways. I think I have enough for TWO winners to get four books each (sorry, titles will be a mystery until you open the box :). I'll pick the winners on Sunday morning so get those votes in! Winners will have until Monday night to email my their email address or I'll choose another name.

Also: Make sure to check back next week as well, because I may have an early copy of THE HAWK to giveaway on my next blog . . .


Monday, August 02, 2010

(Christie Hunter, Therese Walsh, Barbara Samuel, Jami Alden, Anne Hearn, Veronica Wolff, moi, Sarah MacLean, Christie Ridgeway, Bella Andre)
Hanging with the gang at RWA 2010 Orlando

Well, I'm back from Disney World and exhausted but invigorated as always. The RWA national conference is a crazy, fun-filled week of publisher parties, dinners with editors and agents, booksignings, workshops and networking (most of which takes place at the bar). This year we had karaoke! My friend Jami and I also managed to hit EPCOT on Wednesday before the big literacy signing. Fun, but hot. 97 degrees and humid is like walking around in a bread oven.

RWA national conference is the one week where it really does feel glamorous to be a writer. This year you'll be happy to know that I managed to talk to Linda Howard without babbling like a fool (I think).

But to me, far and away the best part of conference is the chance to hang out with friends without interruptions (yes, I'm talking to you kids!). I feel so fortunate to have such a great group of friends. The group seems to be getting bigger each year, which even makes it more fun. A few years back, our friend and chapter mate Barbara Freethy introduced us to her long time buddies Christie Ridgeway, Barbara Samuel and Liz Bevarly (who unfortunately wasn't there this year). We have so much fun hanging out with them at RWA, picking their brains and learning from some of the best in the industry. Congratulations to Barbara Samuel who won yet another Rita (I think she has 5 or 6 and has been nominated over TWENTY--OMG--times).

A special call out and thanks to PJ for bringing some of her amazing chocolates that I shamelessly begged for. :)

When I get a chance to catch up I'll be posting an opportunity to win some of the extra books I brought back from conference. Hope you guys had a nice week and are gearing up for THE HAWK. Can't believe it will be four weeks tomorrow!

Many readers commented this year again on the covers. I know I've asked this before, but with three new ones to add to the collection, which one is your favorite?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Do You Write Like?

Want to know which famous writer you write like? Plug in a few paragraphs of your writing here and find out.

I read an article about this fun website in my local paper yesterday and had to try it out. Interestingly, I received pretty consistent results when I plugged in my fiction and nonfiction writing. I tried three different sections from my books and they all came back with Dan Brown. When I plugged in three different sections from my Author's Notes they came back with James Joyce. Apparently the site is the brainchild of a Russian software programmer and is based on word choice rather than style. There are only 50 authors to choose from, so the comparisons are limited. When I plugged in a couple paragraphs of Sir Walter Scott it also came back as James Joyce. Supposedly, it's going to get better as the programmer ads more books, etc.

So who do you write like? Any fun "time suck" website you've come across lately?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Treats from RomCon!
(With Melissa Mayhue and Amanda McCabe)

(With my brunette mafia buds: Jami Alden and Veronica Wolff)

This past weekend I flew to Denver to attend the first annual RomCon conference. I had a blast. Intended as a conference for readers, I think the organizers really did a terrific job. It was great to be able to interact in fun workshops with readers (my favorites: building an alpha hero, speed dating a new author, and the "scavenger hunt" with historical authors set up by Courtney Milan). Compared to RT which is similarly devoted to readers, RomCon felt more intimate, allowing for a lot more interactions with readers and authors.

I'm already looking forward to next year! Despite my carry-on only baggage, I did manage to bring back a few "treats," including a signed copy of Julia Quinn's THE DUKE (probably my favorite of her books), an unsigned copy of Julia Quinn's WHAT HAPPENS IN LONDON, a signed copy of Elizabeth Boyle's CONFESSION OF A LITTLE BLACK GOWN, and brought back from RT (I forgot to give away) an unsigned copy of Sarah MacLean's NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE.

One book per person. First person to comment wins the book of their choice. You must specify title, and make sure no one else has requested it before you post OR YOU LOSE YOUR PLACE IN LINE!!! You also must register an email so I have a way of getting a hold of you. Winners will be posted ASAP.

So have you ever attended a readers conference? Is this something that interests you?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer, Painting, In-laws, and THE END!

That about summarizes what I've been up to. We finally have some nice weather around here and are getting a chance to enjoy the summer. Our typical "June gloom" in Nor Cal was pretty bad this year. Now that I've typed "THE END" on THE RANGER (yahoo!), I'm hoping to get out on the golf course and to the pool a bit more often. We've been painting the exterior of our house (boy did it need it, but talk about a very unglamorous way to spend money) and getting ready for a visit from my in-laws on Friday. Hopefully they'll get out of Houston before the hurricane hits.

We have a very fun, schmaltzy and old fashioned 4th of July parade where I live so that will be fun on Sunday. Other than that, I'm just gearing up for RomCon at the end of next week.

No big summer plans for us, a trip to Disneyland in August is about it. I'm heading to Scotland again in the fall so saving up for that. What are you guys up to? Anyone I can live vicariously through?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A new take on the bard

One of my friends (& cps) passed this on. This guy is a riot. My favorite line is about the pleated pants. There are a couple of others (Romeo and Juliet & Hamlet) that are pretty funny, too.

Hope you are all having a good week. I went to the US Open last Sunday and had a blast--got to see Tiger, Phil, et al--but otherwise it's been the computer grindstone for me. :) The end, however, is in sight.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Amazon is too Fast!

I wanted to wait until my next website update in early July for the big reveal of my new cover for THE RANGER, but since it's already up on Amazon, I guess the "surprise" factor is gone. So here it is, what do you guys think?

I'm in love. Sigh. Once again the art department at Ballantine has outdone themselves. I feel like it is getting almost embarrassing how blessed I've been by the "Cover Gods." Not that I'm complaining, believe me!

A quick scroll down the page will probably tell you why I'm even more thrilled with this one than usual. Does this cover model look like Andy Whitfield or what?!?

Hope you all are having a good start to the summer. One more week of school for my kids, which, since I have a July 1st deadline looming, is a good thing.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Robin Hood Burnout?

Hope you guys had a great holiday weekend. Despite having to work for much of it, I managed to squeeze in a little golf and a couple of movies--one of which was the new Robin Hood movie starring Russell Crowe. Now, I have to admit I'm a Russell Crowe fangirl. I know he's a bit of a hothead and a guy's guy "bloke," but there's something about him (and he looks pretty snazzy in the costume--not quite as good as he did in Gladiator, but close :)).

The movie was MUCH better than I was expecting. The reviews I read were fairly lukewarm, saying it was dark and depressing, which I don't get. Compared to the Errol Flynn version maybe, but it's a really unfair comparison as they are completely different takes on the story. The Crowe version is gritty and has a real accurate feel. Of course, it helps that it's about a hundred years before the time period of my Highland Guard series so I'm totally lapping it up. The story itself was really intriguing, and the love story with Marion was exceptionally well done. I'd heard some negative things about her character being too serious, etc., but overall I thought she was great. I had one quibble with her character at the end (going back to what we talked about a few weeks ago with the attempt to make women into superheroes), but otherwise great.

I get the feeling that it's been a bit of a disappointment at the box office though, and I'm wondering whether people just aren't eager to see another remake? Have any of you seen it? Are you interested/not interested? Do you have a favorite version of the story? I love the old BBC series, but my sentimental favorite is the Errol Flynn/Olivia DeHaviland version. I just love him.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Random Question Alert

Although I'm loathe to say goodbye to the picture of Andy, I have a random question for you guys. It's another travel related one. My husband told me that I'm the odd duck who doesn't unpack when I travel. I just use my suitcase. He insisted that most people use the chest of drawers, etc.

I think I have a deep rooted fear of leaving something behind, probably the result of the time we were camping when I was a kid and we left our bathing suits. One of those stories my mom told us hundreds of times (probably to remind us not to forget something). See how it all comes back to Mom? LOL.

So do you guys unpack in hotel rooms? In vacation homes? When visiting friends?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hero or Heroine?

Do you read for the hero or for the heroine? No question, for me, it's all about the hero. Give me an awesome hero and I can forgive almost anything else. (This goes for TV shows, too, which gave me an excuse to put up another picture of Spartacus's Andy Whitfield--I'm stretching, I know).

For me the perfect book is a yummy hero that I fall in love with and a heroine who I can identify enough with that I can "see" myself in her place. In other words, I want to be able to step into her shoes for the duration of the book. I think that's one of the reason "kick-ass" heroines don't work for me--I can't really see myself like that.

Last night I stayed up until about 2 to finish Rachel Gibson's latest, NOTHING BUT TROUBLE. Loved it. Mark was one of my favorite heroes of the year. Right up there with my all time favorites: Nick Ward (Shannon McKenna's EXTREME DANGER), Cal Bonner (SEP's NOBODY'S BABY BUT MINE), Bobby Tom Denton (SEP's HEAVEN, TEXAS), Brodick Buchanan (Julie Garwood's RANSOM), Alec Kincaid (Julie Garwood's THE BRIDE), and John Medina (Linda Howard, ALL THE QUEEN'S MEN).

So what about you...are you a hero or heroine gal? (or Both?)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Quick Update...

Just in case you haven't checked www.monicamccarty.com in a while, you might want to pop on over and check it out. I might have a little "sneak peek" surprise for those of you waiting for THE HAWK. :)

Today is one of my favorite holidays. Happy Cinco De Mayo! I guess I like to stay true to my heritage since my other favorite holiday is St. Patrick's Day. (My mom is Mexican and my dad is Irish . . . go figure, LOL). Tonight it's margs and carnitas at the McCarty dinner table.

I think I mentioned that I received a slow cooker for Christmas this year, which has become my new best friend. One of the reasons is the amazingly easy and delicious carnitas recipe. It has become a family favorite. I can even threaten my kids with it, "No carnitas for you tonight if you don't . . . "

The full recipe is here, but basically it's a couple of pounds of cut up boneless country style pork ribs, oregano, onion and salt and pepper. That's it.

What's your favorite meal to do in the slow cooker? Any recipes to share?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Columbus, Ohio, Here I Come!

I'm off to the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention tomorrow morning to pick up my award (Highland Warrior won for Best Scottish Historical--it was supposed to be a secret but since the magazine is in the stores I figure it's okay) and to attend the massive bookfair on Saturday. I can't wait! It will be my first time to RT, and I'm really looking forward to it. Heard it's absolutely wild and crazy. Hopefully I'll have some good (and publishable, LOL) pictures to share when I get back.

If any of you are attending, please make sure to stop by on Saturday and say "hi."

I think it must be Murphy's Law that right before you are traveling you get hit with a massive (blank)storm of things that have to get done before you go. I've been running around like a proverbial chicken with its head cut off all day. So much for work. I had all these grand plans of picking out exactly what I was going to where, but now I'll basically be tossing stuff in a suitcase late tonight and hoping it looks good. Sigh.

Does traveling stress you out? Do you look forward to getting on the plane so you can relax? Any trips you're taking soon?

Sorry for the blurry picture, but the iphone doesn't do great in low light situations. That's what happens when you forget your camera! The ceremony was really nice and made even more special by the presence of Barbara Taylor Bradford! She was accepting a special lifetime/achievement award.

Friday, April 23, 2010

I love this!

A good buddy of mine, Karin Tabke, just posted this great blog over at Murder She Writes about some of the common misconceptions about writing and publishing.

I've received many emails along these same lines--especially regarding covers (running the full gamut from complaints about the hair color not lining up to asking me to do away with the torso covers). I'd also add that I don't get to pick the models, I don't get to meet the models and I don't get to go to the cover shoot. Bummer, I know.

Karin does a great job of pointing out some of the common misconceptions. Make sure to read the comments as well, there are some great points about choosing titles (author's have little control) and prices of books (author's have NO control). I've noticed the new trend on Amazon reviews to give authors one star reviews for kindle prices. I feel really bad for those authors. Many people don't take the time to read the reviews and just look at the overall stars.

I also appreciated the point about errors/typos. They happen. By time the manuscript is published I've read it literally dozens of times. My editor has read it. The copy editor has read it. Then two proofreaders have read it. Yet, they still sometimes slip by. As Allison points out, sometimes people have identified it and it just gets missed in production, and sometimes no one catches it. I don't see it after the proofreaders read it and sometimes they change things on their own. I've had one or two surprises (one of the reasons I don't like to read my books after they are published). For example, in The Chief dedication I had "Go Cardinal," referring to the Stanford Cardinal (the COLOR not the bird), it is not plural. The proofreader put an "s" on it. No big deal, but a BIG no-no to Stanford fans. I've already had one or two smart-a#$ comments. Sigh.

Did you guys know all this or learn something new?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Taxman Cometh . . .

The taxman taketh away. April 15th. My least favorite day is almost here. Anyone else depressed by the check they had to write? Is it just me or does it seem like a bigger percentage of our income is "taketh" every year? Sigh. From what I hear, I guess it's only going to get worse. And I know, living in CA doesn't help. Might be time to move to Texas . . . (no state income tax).

I took tax law many, many years ago (and my father was a corporate tax attorney), but our taxes got too complicated when my husband started playing baseball. We used to have to file 13 to 15 tax returns every year. A little known fact: you are supposed to pay taxes in a state when you work there--even if it's only for a day or two. Most people don't, but athletes and entertainers are easy targets. Even though he's been out of baseball for almost five years (hard to believe), we still have a preparer. I can't imagine trying to figure this stuff out myself (and I graduated from law school, LOL). I get a headache just going over them.

Okay, done with the grumbling. But I do have an urge to go toss some tea overboard somewhere.

Hope you guys all have your taxes ready to go and instead of writing a check are getting a nice big refund. I'll try to live vicariously. Anyone waiting until the last minute?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Spring Break!

The picture above is an ode to days gone by. In college (USC), we used to go to Mazatlan for Spring Break. Hard to believe it was over 20 years ago. Okay, now I really feel old. [As an aside: I remember going through Calexico and Mexicali on the train and have been watching the news of the earthquake closely. So glad to hear that the damage doesn't seem to be as bad as it could have been...scary.]

Alas, there is no rest for the weary at Casa McCarty. All spring break means nowadays is the kids are home for the week. Hope you guys are having more fun than I am, LOL. We'd hoped to go skiing, but looks like we'll be lucky to make it up for a day trip. How does life get so busy? (Answer: book deadlines!).

I am looking forward to my first book signing for THE CHIEF tonight at the Los Gatos Borders. It's the regular meeting for a local romance group and it's a great group of ladies. It's always really interesting to get a glimpse of what people are reading and enjoying. Borders has a number of romance reader groups like this one around the country who report back to Sue Grimshaw (Borders Romance Buyer) directly.

I've belonged to a couple of book groups over the years, but I always ended up getting annoyed by the selections--most of which I thought were a little along the "let's show how smart we are by reading a book that is supposed to be good for us." Slog-fest ensues.

But interestingly enough, I've been invited to talk to a number of neighborhood book groups. Though romances aren't usually the standard fare--most read Oprah type books--it's always ended up being a great experience. I think people love reading something different and are surprised that they aren't the "trash" that they've always assumed.

How about you . . . are you in a book club? Ever been in one? Good experience or bad?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I'm breaking out the bubbly over here. I just heard from my publisher and agents that THE CHIEF hit #24 on the New York Times list for the week of April 11th (it's done a few weeks out). I'm absolutely thrilled. Thanks to all of you who bought the book the first week and helped make it happen. What an exciting way to start the new series!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thank You!

For all of the wonderful comments and emails I have received the past week! I'm thrilled that so many of you seem to be enjoying THE CHIEF. It's been a crazy week, but I just wanted to remind you guys to put in your guesses for Andy Whitfield (so far we know it's not Tor, MacSorley, Campbell or MacGregor). I thought this one would be easy, LOL. Think intense eyes and a little scary...

Ing asked me a question recently about whether I would be putting up info on the team on my website. Eventually, I will have a "cheat sheet" of the guys and their specialties, but on my last website update I added a "Who's Who" in THE CHIEF page to my Special Features Section that you guys might find helpful.

I've also been asked quite a bit about who will be getting books. Since the answer to that question involves spoilers (and depends on how the books do!), I can't really answer. However, I will say that not all the guys will have books--there are a few twists and turns along the way!

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's here!

I'm thrilled to (finally) be able to say that the first book in my new Highland Guard series, THE CHIEF, is in the stores. I first had the idea for this series about 8 years ago, so it feels like I've been waiting a long time to see it on the shelves.

I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy--and, as always, let me know where you are seeing it. I love those grocery store/airport sightings. :)

Don't forget to chime in on who Andy Whitfield might serve as inspiration for. Here's a hint: he has a decent size "part" in The Chief, but he's not Tor.

UPDATE: Laurie who is a familiar face around here did an interview of me for her blog today. If you get a chance, pop on over and say "hi."

And here's a picture of that cute custom Sigg water bottle for the first person to figure out who was inspired by Andy Whitfield (it says "Are you reading the Highland Guard?"):

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy St. Patty's Day!

It's one of my favorite holidays of the year! May the luck of the Irish be with you today! We'll be celebrating tonight at a local pub where my daughter will be performing with her Irish Dancing troop. Hope you all have some fun plans.

I'm blogging over at Border's True Romance today, so pop on over and say "hi." Oh yea, there's giveaways, too. :)

Until then, here's my favorite Irish toast to help you celebrate tonight:

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Latest (Slightly Unhealthy) Obsession

Move over Gerry, there's a new sheriff in town and his name is Andy Whitfield (insert sigh here). The yummy Welsh born actor plays the lead role in Starz's new series: Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Even beyond the obvious beefcake eye-candy factor, it's a fantastic show. Both my husband and my current favorite on TV as a matter of fact, well above #2 Lost.

Here's a preview of the series:

Basically, if you liked the movie 300 or Gladiator this one is for you. I was able to get Starz for free for 12 weeks from my satellite service, so check your area, it's well worth it. I think you can watch the first couple of episodes online. If you don't love the first episode stick with it--the series really starts to pick up after that.

I know, I know, there is something pathetic about a 42 year old happily married mother of two acting like a teenager. My only excuse is I'm always looking for inspiration for my heroes. And you won't be surprised to know that Mr. Whitfield is definitely doing that.

With THE CHIEF coming out next tuesday (can you believe it!), I thought I'd let you guys see if you can guess what member of the Highland Guard is going to look an awful lot like a certain Welsh actor, LOL. The funny thing is my critique partner Jami Alden who also watches the show thought exactly the same thing. Here's a hint: it's not Tor MacLeod.

The first person who figures it out and posts it in the comment section will win a very cool, eco-friendly, custom "Highland Guard" Sigg water bottle. It's super cute--if I get a chance I'll post a picture.

Until then, who's your star crush?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Monica & Julia

Since watching the movie Julie & Julia, I've been wanting to try my hand at Boeuf Bourguignon, using Julia's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Although I've owned the cookbooks forever (I'm a huge Julia fan). I've never really followed a recipe--mostly using it as a guide. Her "Way to Cook" is my definitive basic cookbook. So with a long night of OSCAR watching ahead of me (see below), I thought it was a good time to try it.

What a project! The recipe itself isn't that difficult, but the side dishes (pearl onions, mushrooms, peas and noodles) didn't let me sit down for nearly the entire 4 hours. But it really was worth it. It turned out fantastic and more importantly delicious. My ten year old and thirteen year old must have said "this is so good" twenty times each. They're already talking about next time. I hate to break it to them, but this is NOT a regular meal, LOL. Next time I do make it though, I'm going to do potatoes instead of the noodles. The sauce was incredible and the noodles didn't sop it up as well as the potatoes would.

I used to be quite a cook, but after kids I just didn't have the time. My biggest experiment before this was to make my own sourdough using Nancy Silverton's La Brea Bakery cookbook. You basically grown your own starter from grapes. I kept it up for about two years, making everything from weekly sourdough bread to my own bagels and sourdough waffles, pancakes, etc. You can freeze the starter for a while, but I can't tell you how many bags of flour I went through in those two years!

Those were the days. I barely have time to get pasta on the table nowadays, LOL.

So what did you think of the OSCARs last night? Sandra Bullock looked amazing. Her dress is probably one of my all time favorites. Gorgeous.

I was fine with Hurt Locker winning, although hubby and I didn't *love* it was much as the critiques. Here's my take on the best picture nominees:

Hurt Locker: Very good, but IMO didn't quite live up to the hype. I've seen much better war movies.
Avatar: Haven't seen it. Sam Worthington is a hottie, not sure I want to see him all in blue. :)
Inglorious Basterds: Coming from Netflix as we speak
Up: The single best love story I've ever seen in 20 minutes. Seriously, beautiful. Highly recommend.
The Blind Side: Absolutely loved this movie. Heartwarming. Inspiring. Funny. I would have loved to see it win. :)
District Nine: Good, but another one of those that didn't quite live up to the hype for me. I can see why it was nominated though.
An Education: Didn't see. Not sure I will.
Precious: Ditto. Subject matter is way too depressing.
A Serious Man: Didn't see.
Up in the Air: Haven't seen, but definitely want to.

I think I got them all.

So lots of questions today: Cooking or OSCARs take your pick. Are you much of a cook? What's the most intimidating cooking project you've ever taken on? Did you watch the OSCARs? Favorite gown? Did your movie choice win?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New Cover Alert!

I was going to hold off on the grand unveiling until THE CHIEF hit stores, but since the cover is already up on Amazon, I figured I better not wait!

So . . . ta-da! Here it is, the cover for book #2 of the Highland Guard series, THE HAWK. The hero is Erik MacSorley, the best seafarer and swimmer in the Highlands (basically, he's my Navy SEAL). I'll be posting a blurb on my website soon.

I'm thrilled with how it turned out. Strapping lad in plaid, sword, cool lion rampant emblem, ship in the background . . . perfect!

But I do want to know how they keep coming up with different poses! LOL.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Fever

Are you guys as caught up as I am in the Olympics? I *love* the winter olympics--especially the skiing and skating. My favorite events are the moguls and ice-dancing, but really just about any skiing or skating event will have me glued to the TV. I was thrilled to see Bode get the bronze yesterday, and very exciting to see the women's moguls have two American finalists. I even turn into a snowboarding fan around the Olympics, LOL.

My one complaint: the delayed and extremely LATE coverage of the main events. I really don't get it. Why can't NBC start at 6 or 7 and end by 11. Last night the skating didn't end until midnight!

What about you...are you watching the Olympics? What are your favorite events? Are you a summer or winter fan?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Too Much Reality

Last night my husband and I were watching one of our guilty pleasure shows, the Millionaire Matchmaker. Patti just cracks me up. But I have to say last night's episode really bothered me.

Here's the summary, but you can get the gist from the video. Patti (the Matchmaker) brought a woman millionaire back from last season to try again. Shauna is a 42 year old (same age as me, BTW) millionaire business woman (I think she owns hair salons) who likes to date younger men. Cougar is a frequently used term on the show. I usually don't like the term, but Shauna fits. Patti tried to get her to date older guys last season, but Shauna of the too-much-botox wouldn't do it. She was back this season to allegedly give it a try after dating a younger guy who wanted her to pay for everything (shocking!). Personally, I don't get the younger guy thing. A couple of years on either side works for me--although I'd make an exception for Alexander Skaarsgard.

So in last night's episode Patti gives Shauna some older (and younger) guys to choose from. Shauna eventually picks a fifty plus year old guy who was INCREDIBLY good looking. Very rugged masculine type with chiseled face. My husband and I both thought he was way too good for the unappealing Shauna. The guy arrives at the hotel to pick her up for her date, after sending her a gorgeous dress (that she made fun of), and arriving in a limo to take her to Spago. What does Shauna do? She takes one look at him and goes running back into the hotel, screaming like a madwoman that she won't date someone who looks like her grandfather.

I was appalled. This is where reality TV really bothers me. I didn't need to see that. It was beyond cruel to the guy and utterly unwarranted. We were forced to watch the poor guy eat alone at Spago while he wondered what the heck had happened. It was VERY uncomfortable. Shauna would have been lucky to go out with this guy, I hope he finds someone wonderful soon. I guess I think the show went a little too far. Kind of like when the TV crews stick the camera in the face of some guy who just lost a big game and is really emotional. I don't need to see it.

If you can't watch the video the show shots are here.

I don't watch nearly as much reality TV as I used to, and I think this is why. Now that the newness of reality shows has worn off, the producers are looking for ways to push the envelope and don't seem to know where to draw the line.

So what about you. Do you still watch reality TV? Have you had an experience like mine where you get a little disgusted with the show for going too far?