Tag Archives: romance

life according to romance

Harlequin, the grande dame of romance, has compiled the below analysis of the world according to them, based on what they released in 2011. I found it pretty funny, and so true. Oh, not true as far as real life, but true as far as what people perceive romance novels to be about, and for good reason I guess, thanks to classic Harlequin tropes being published daily.

It made me look closer at my own releases over the past year and I guess I’m right up there with Harlequin in some areas, but very different in others. The majority of my releases were about cowboys, just as theirs were. Where we part ways is the millionaires and the babies. I tend to write the working class man–firemen and soldiers (which both were low on the Harlequin totem pole). Even my cowboys aren’t land tycoons or oil barons, but rather struggling bull riders trying to earn a living. Yes, I’ll admit it, I did write one secret baby, but one out of dozens of books I released isn’t so bad, and far lower than Harlequin’s stats.

Reality or not, it’s an interesting, fun study.

Enjoy!

Cat

Source: Harlequin.com

sexy dieting?

I know being on a diet doesn’t sound sexy at all, but let me try to sway your opinion.

First, and most obvious, I know I will personally feel a lot more sexy once I take off these 10 pounds of winter/holiday weight I somehow mysteriously put on. Jeans that are snug to cup the booty are one thing, but jeans that are too snug because you gained weight are quite another. So there’s that, but there’s also this…when I’m on a serious diet I actually eat well. It sounds very strange but it’s true. When I’m not on a diet, I don’t take care of myself. I’ll eat last night’s dinner leftovers of spicy fried Chinese dumplings for breakfast while I’m checking my emails. For lunch I’ve been known to eat a handful of nuts, also while at the computer working. But when I’m consciously on a diet trying to lose weight, I eat like a princess. I food shop. I cook. I sit at a table. I plan menus. I make homemade soup and eat green salads with tasty and creative homemade dressings. Total turnaround.

Yes, being on a diet is a lot more work, and more money, and more time, with shopping for the fresh ingredients rather than scouring the old cans in the closet looking for whatever is the least amount of work. But eating right, and on a plate at a table, almost makes me feel like I’m out at a restaurant, out on a date.

That’s why I’m not too worried that as of March 1st, I am part of Romance Biggest Winners 2. It’s a weight loss competition comprised of romance readers and authors placed on teams to support each other to lose whatever amount of weight they want/need to over the next 6 months. Some of the girls are blogging their experience and I thought I might pop in here with an update or a recipe once in awhile. It’s a nice concept to have us band together in teams, since both reading and writing can be very solitary occupations.

Today, I’d thought I’d include the instructions for my new favorite quick healthy food, Arugula Salad. When I used to try to eat Arugula as if it was regular lettuce, I hated it. It tasted a bit like grass clippings when I tried to use it instead of Romaine Hearts in a salad with dressing. Then I saw a recipe on ABC’s The Chew for Arugula and tried it, and it made all the difference in the world.

Maybe the strong flavor of the Arugula needs the tartness and the acidity of the lemons. I don’t know, but my mouth waters just thinking about this salad. Give it a try. It’s so green and fresh tasting, I feel healthier just from eating it.

ARUGULA SALAD

Put a generous couple of handfuls of fresh Arugula in a bowl. Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons good quality Olive Oil. Squeeze in the fresh juice of one half a lemon. Sprinkle with coarse salt (Kosher or Sea Salt, I hate using fine salt on food) and fresh ground pepper. If I have grape tomatoes I’ll add a handful of those. That’s it. Perfect with a steak, or a crab cake for a light lunch or dinner.

Enjoy!

Cat

of seals and men

It seems like you couldn’t turn on the TV or read a newspaper the week after Bin Laden’s demise without hearing the words Navy SEALs or SEAL Team 6. There are reports of romance publishers bracing for an onslaught of submissions featuring SEAL heroes. I’m sure authors who make a living writing SEALs (Suzanne Brockmann, Lora Leigh, etc) have seen a boost in sales.

I’ve even noticed in my own books, every review I’ve received lately for my military romance series has called the guys SEALs. I’m grateful for every review and reader comment but I do want to clarify, my heros are not SEALs. Okay, correction–one out of the dozen or so military story heroes I’ve written is a Navy SEAL, but that’s because I based that on an actual MSNBC article I read about the military using SEALs to recruit exceptional civilians for SpecOps.

Anyway, back to my guys–I conceived Task Force Zeta and the Red, Hot & Blue series when the real life Task Force 145 took out al Zarqawi back in 2006. Just like with SEAL Team 6 recently, for the first time Task Force 145, who normally worked in shadows, was in the press. Though not a lot was revealed, there was enough for me to form a series of books around the concept. The real special task force, formed post 9/11 in 2003, recruited the best of the best culled from such groups as Delta Force, Rangers, British SAS and yes, the Navy’s SEALS.

Task Force 145 was the model for my heroes–a group of disparate men from different branches of service working together for a common often impossible to attain goal.

The accomplishment of SEAL Team 6 cannot be denied, but they are one group of men among many doing incredible things, from the boots on the ground to the BlackOps we’ll likely never hear about. We need to remember that.

So by all means talk about the guys in my books. Call them heroes, call them sexy, but please, don’t call them SEALs

the price of fun

I had Easter dinner with the fam last Sunday, thankfully not at my house, but from parents to a full compliment of in-laws as well as nieces and nephew, they were all present and accounted for. The evening proved particularly pleasant in part thanks to my brother-in-law who is a liquor distributor and came armed with some kick ass wine, including a $60 bottle of Shiraz that was smooth and rich with undertones of chocolate and higher than normal alcohol content. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

He and I were talking and he reported liquor sales in the NY Metro area are booming. My sales are too, I reported. Like quadruple from last year. Which is when I decided when the economy is this bad, perhaps people are turning to booze and porn. Hell, it makes sense.

Of course there are other factors for the boom in my sales–eReader technology and pricing finally meeting the demands of the consumer making eReaders a hugely popular gift item last Christmas season. But I’m sure there’s more. One is the need for escape. Now more than ever people need a bit of fantasy in their lives, and romance novels provide that. Second is price. For as little as $2.99 I sell novel-length eBooks. For less than the price of a Starbucks Latte (with no calories), for less than a gallon of gasoline (and a lot more fun) and for FAR less than a movie out at the theater, a $2.99 eBook will provide the buyer with hours, maybe even days, of enjoyment–not to mention an escape from reality which is priceless.

Booze and porn–the cure for the recession? You be the judge.

Cat

i’m baaaack… #rt11

…from the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention (RT for short to those in the industry) held last week at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, California and I am, as usual, amazed and exhausted. This is probably the most infamous of all the many annual conventions. Though this year seemed far tamer than the past it was still memorable in so many ways.

I’m exhausted because the days start early and continue on into the wee hours of the night. Amazed because…well let me see if I can consolidate it for you into edible bites of info.

Here are the top 5 things I love most about RT~

1) The people– they come from all over the world, even from as far as Australia, just for this convention. Some save all year to be there because I can tell you with airfare, hotel, convention fee, meals & other assorted expenses, it ain’t cheap. They are readers, writers, book sellers, publishers, agents, reviewers and book bloggers but they are all there because they love romance books. AND in this age of Twitter, my favorite thing to do (what I’m doing now as I write this in fact) is watch the #RT11 Twitter hashtag stream of the event to see what everyone else is saying about it. I’ll admit I was ‘tweeting while intoxicated’ during the Mr. Romance contest, and ‘tweeting in anger’ during one session when I didn’t agree with the speaker. LOL Too bad, unlike Vegas, what happens at RT doesn’t stay at RT–not with Facebook, cell phone cameras and Twitter around.

2) The costumes/parties- Yes, it’s a pain to pack for this convention because there’s at least 1 themed costume party per day and I’m not talking just a mask. Some people have costumes worthy of an Academy Award. Some make them. Some buy them. All are creative and amazing. This year we had the Bollywood party (with a India theme where I got a henna tattoo on my hand, after which I had tattoo remorse), a Steampunk party, a Venetian Faery Ball (where I donned a ball gown, mask and wings) and a Vampire/Zombie party. The parties are huge and fun and alway memorable, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a ‘it’s such a trainwreck you can’t look away’ kind of way. In any event, you don’t forget them easily.

3) The sessions- I believe you should never stop learning. I don’t care how many books you have published or how long you’ve been in the biz, things are always changing. You can learn a lot from other authors, publishers, editors, and industry professionals. Some of the big themes this year for the sessions were Self Pubbing, EBooks/Digital trends, the Young Adult (YA) book market, Author Marketing/Branding AND because we were steps from Hollywood, ScreenWriting and adapting books for TV/Movies. Then there were the sessions that made you say “huh?”. Male thriller writer Barry Eisler teaching how to write sex scenes was one I’m sorry I missed (I think).

4) The swag– I flew JetBlue knowing I’d be checking a suitcase and they offer ‘1 bag flies free’. I went out to LA with it full of Cat Johnson giveaways, and I came home with it (and a 2nd carryon) full of things I’d gathered. Free books, cover model calendars, and then the author branded items such as personal lubricant, candy, pens, notepads, playing cards, buttons. What I saw but didn’t pick up, though I regret it now, were condom lollipops (I still have some left from last convention) and a wooden ruler that read “Spank Me”. I was being a minimalist and conserving suitcase space. This year Romance Trading Cards were the big thing and everyone (from readers to bloggers) was collecting them like boys collect baseball cards.

5) Mr. Romance-Ah yes, what would RT be without the male cover models and the Mr Romance contest, that one blogger affectionately refers to as a mangeant because it is in  essence a beauty pageant for men. They dress up in suits, they dress up in costumes, they undress and show us their abs and they answer meaningful questions ala Miss America (and you all know how well those usually go). This year I chose to  attend with my friends, and a bag filled with smuggled in champagne bottles. You’ll be happy to know that when the models raised their shirts to show us their abs, no one heard our 2nd bottle pop! I have to say this was the best contest ever, but then again, I may not be the best judge.

So there you have it, RT 2011 in a nutshell. Will I go next year? Who knows? Every year I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the convention for oh so many reasons. But I have to say I wouldn’t trade the memories or the great people I met this year for anything in the world.

inspiration…

Where does inspiration come from? I can’t speak for others who need inspiration for their work, such as artists or chefs, but I can speak for myself as a writer and for me inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere.

Case in point–my first contracted romance novel way back in 2006 started out as a short story written for a competition and was inspired by my laptop crapping out. Yes, you read correctly, Opposites Attract was inspired by two days of my pulling my hair out while trying to fix my fairly new laptop myself while trying to convince the company’s tech support on the other side of the world that I was not an idiot and the machine truly was broken. Finally I got a guy on the tech support night shift who didn’t want to deal with me and agreed I could box up the laptop and ship it to Tennessee for repair. Less than 48 hours later I had my laptop back and fixed, and in my glee I imagined my knight in shining armor, the computer geek who’d ridden to my rescue and saved me and my laptop. Being a romance writer, my geek was of course incredibly hot in a Clark Kent/Superman kind of way. His glasses would make him sexy and alluring–a male version of the sexy female librarian men fantasize about. My computer nerd would be overlooked by most women, as nice guys so often are as females flock to drool over the bad boys.

And so Bradley Morgan, head geek at Geeks-R-Us, was born. That short story expanded and ended up being published as part of a trilogy of stories that was my first erotic romance (I say erotic romance with a tongue in cheek now, since compared to my recent releases featuring threesomes, this first book falls more in the ‘sweet’ category). Trilogy No. 102: Opposites Attract went out of print when Linden Bay was acquired by Samhain Publishing, but never fear, thanks to the new trend in authors self-publishing their out-of-print backlists and vendors such as ARe, Amazon and BN making it easy for us to do, Opposites Attract is back out in digital format with a shiny new cover because really, 2 computers later, I’m still a little in love with that mystery geek in TN who saved my first laptop.

Opposites Attract

A Trilogy by Cat Johnson

TAKING A LEAP

Bradley Morgan is the quintessential computer geek and nice guy, through and through. The only problem is that in his opinion, nice guys almost always finish last when it comes to hot women like his sexy co-worker Alyssa Jones. But things change after Alyssa finds her boyfriend cheating. Suddenly, nice guys like Brad don’t look so bad. So when Brad agrees to ghostwrite the sex scenes for a romance novel as a favor for desperate client Maria White and asks for Alyssa’s help after hours, she agrees wholeheartedly and things really start to heat up. Brad and Alyssa learn you should never judge a book by its cover and that sometimes love requires a leap of faith.

LIGHT MY FIRE

Amy Gerald’s life is filled with whirlwind romance. Unfortunately, it’s all on the pages of the romance novels she publishes. That is until she volunteers to cat-sit for her friend Maria White and meets Troy O’Donnell, the hunky fireman who lives next door. The problem is, this commitment-phobic consummate bachelor is far more willing to run into a burning building than allow love into his life. Troy will grasp at any excuse, even the ridiculous assumption that Amy is a lesbian, just to avoid his growing feelings for her. Amid a comedy of errors and misunderstandings, which includes Troy’s first hilarious visit to a gay bar, Amy manages to light Troy’s fire, but can she also conquer his fears?

SECOND TIME AROUND

Antonio Sanchez thought that at 32 his life was all mapped out—wife, kids, career—until some major bumps in the road radically alter his course and send him careening right into the path of newly divorced Maddie Morgan. After being thrust back into single life, Antonio moves back in with his old-fashioned parents and has to learn to juggle being a part-time dad to his kids, his job at the firehouse and his role as Best Man for his newly engaged best friend Troy, all in addition to facing his unquenchable desire for Maddie. Throw in a slew of matchmaking friends and relatives, led by Maria whose apartment appears to be the Bermuda Triangle for floundering lovers and Antonio and Maddie discover just how complicated things can get. Can the pair prove that love really is better the second time around?

This book has been previously published. It has been edited for rerelease.

Available for download at

ARe

BN for Nook

Coming in the next few days to :

Amazon for Kindle

to each his (or her) own

What are you doing for Valentines Day? Romantic dinner? Flowers? Lingerie? Then you’re probably among the majority. I, however, rarely do what’s expected. I wanted something totally different for Valentines Day and I’m happy to say I got it.

I wanted to take a roadtrip from NY to NC to watch the professional bull rider I just started sponsoring compete in the NBR Finals. Guess what? I got my wish. The hubby and I made the decision Tuesday night and Friday morning, predawn, loaded SUV and all, we headed south and kept going until we hit Raleigh, NC and the Hunt Horse Center.

Did we stay at a 4 star hotel? Nope. I found one for $59 a night with free breakfast and WiFi. Did we eat dinner out at fancy restaurants? Nope. We  fell in love with the drive-in burger joint, Cook Out, across the street where they made the best damn burger, hush puppies, onion rings and shakes we’ve ever eaten so that we went there each night after the rodeo to eat. Did I dress up in nice lingerie? Nope. Didn’t even bring a dress. Jeans and cowboy boots were the uniform of the weekend, for both of us.

Did I have the best time of my life? Hell yeah! To each his (or her) own, I suppose.

Happy Valentines Day to everyone!

Cat

when the frost is on the pumpkin…

goardsI love autumn in the North East. I find something very romantic about this season more than any other. Perhaps it’s the cool crisp temperatures that make it the perfect time for snuggling in front of a crackling fire with the one you love. Around here the air conditioner comes out of the bedroom window and the flannel sheets and down comforter go on the bed.

There is likely to be a pot of something hot and aromatic bubbling on the stove for dinner by the time the sun sets, which is pretty damn early this time of year, especially once the time changes. But that’s okay too, because who can feel guilty putting on comfy pajamas by 5PM if it’s already pitch dark outside? Certainly not me. Add a glass of wine and a warm fuzzy throw big enough for two, a nice fire and a stack of wood enough to last the night, and you’ve got the makings for the perfect evening in front of the television.candle

I know there are songs written about springtime and something to be said for winter and summer, but in my book (and I am sort of an expert on this topic being a romance writer and all), autumn is the season for romance. Even our dinners with friends seem cozier. Perhaps it’s the comfort food on the menu…

What do you all think?

stranger than fiction

My life as a romance writer can get pretty strange. I realize that and freely admit it. I mean, I have a file on my computer named “porn star research”. You don’t get much weirder than that. But last night when the girls and I all gathered for dinner, certain things were revealed and I realized that life is far stranger than fiction.

I suppose I’ve always known this to some limited extent. I’ve actually watered down some true life stories for my books because the truth was too hard to believe. Just the other night I took one look at the name of a new bull rider on the pro circuit, Stormy Wing, and said to my husband, “If I named a character that I’d get killed with criticism, but it’s this kid’s real name”.

You see the dilemma when life is so strange no one would believe it if I were to write it in a book. However, I can write it here and perhaps have someone believe me that it is the absolute, God’s honest truth.

So what was the strangeness that assaulted me last night? It was the current state of the online dating scene. My friend has decided to make online dating a second job, or at least that’s what it seems like because it takes as much time and effort as a job, and some of the men she’s encountered are real pieces of work. For instance the one with the foot fetish. To his credit he did ask her during live date one (the one and only date) if a man with a foot fetish would disturb her. She asked the same question I did when she told me… what exactly does having a foot fetish entail? I was picturing toe sucking and cringing at the fact that it’s been far too long since I’ve had a pedicure, but apparently this man enjoys his (time for some purple prose here to keep the censors at bay) ‘nether region pleasured’ by feet. I kid you not.

In another area of the net, for people who don’t want to shell out the cash for the more well known and well advertised dating sites like the foot man above did, there is Craig’s List. Apparently you can find not only used furnishings on there but also men, women, and transvestites in the Personals section. I learned some new terminology. Apparently on Craig’s List in the Casual Encounters section, “car dates” are a perfectly common thing. (I believe they are using the term ‘date’ quite loosely there.) Fair warning, keep the kids far away from that site, my eyes are still burning from some of the images I saw.

Truth truly is stranger than fiction and in the internet age, dating is, sadly, stranger still.

Cat

the new black

As with trends in cuisine and fashion, the book world too is ever changing. The problem with trends is this, the moment you jump on board with one, the market has already moved on to something new. For instance, all those authors and publishers who attempted to jump on the vampire trend after the overwhelming success of Twilight were most likely too late. The market, now flooded with vamp books, moved to (believe it or not) zombie books. Yeah, I know, that sounds crazy but just google the 2009 Best Seller Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and you’ll see I speak the truth. So now there are zombie anthologies popping up all over and guess what? The trend has moved to steam punk. The release of Android Karenina (a robot steam punk rewrite of the classic Anna Karenina) is proof of that. But of course, by the time authors and publishers try to follow suit, the market will have shifted once again.

So I guess the trick is to either be a soothsayer and know what the next trend will be, 0r write in a genre that is always popular. I write romance. I get a lot of flack for writing romance, but you know what? Romance sells. During the great recession of 2009, romance sales increased. It was even on the news as people who belittle the genre for not being ‘important literature’ had to admit there is a place in this world for good old fashioned mindless entertainment. When people are losing their jobs and their homes, why wouldn’t they want something to take their mind off reality for a few hours. And with movie theater tickets creeping steadily upward (not to mention the price of the popcorn and soda which should be considered extortion), a good old paperback is looking more and more like a bargain.

So yes I have to put up with the critics who say I write trash and laugh at me. I laugh all the way to the bank with my royalty checks because I write what sells. Does that make me a sell out? No, it makes me smart. Besides I wouldn’t do it no matter how well it sold if I didn’t love my job.

One of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received was when one of the executives of a major production company called me “very commercial”. I did ask the person the comment was made to if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He told me it was a very good thing and I agree.

Until next time.

Cat