Who's a crazy cat lady?

You are, Mel. 

You are, Mel. 

When I heard about the Crazy Cat Lady box set, I really wanted to be a part of it. After all, if there’s one thing that my books have in common—besides hockey, feisty heroines, and clinical sex scenes—it’s cats. There’s a cat in every single book and novella. In fact, once when my editor suggested that I remove a cat character, I explained that cats are my thing. So instead, I increased the role of the cat to make her important.

The Crazy Cat lady box set is filled with romances where cats play a major role. I’ve read and enjoyed all nine novellas. Some stories feature big cats like lions and panther shifters, while others feature domestic cats, usually in multiples. The romances range from sweet to sweaty.

My contribution is called Mr. November. It’s about Vancouver Vice tough guy, Marty Devonshire. We met Marty in The Tao of Hockey where he was the only player who offered genuine friendship to Eric Fairburn. Now it’s big Marty’s turn to fall, and he falls hard for petite Elaine Salang. They meet at a cat shelter where the Vice are shooting a charity calendar. But poor Marty, who’s not too experienced with women, blows his chance with Elaine. Luckily, his new teammates have his back and give him advice on how to win over women. The advice ranges from sensible to hilarious. And does all this advice work? Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

How many women have even seen the cat? Other than me

How many women have even seen the cat? Other than me

Other books in the box set are:

The Vet & the Geek by Sidney Bristol

When veterinarian Raul is reunited with his long lost cat he gets a lot more than he bargained for in Miranda, the curvy, sassy woman who can wipe the floor with his subpar gaming skills. But Miranda doesn’t know if Raul is flirting with her, or if he’s the stalker she’s lived in fear of for years. Is he the crazy cat guy of her dreams, or is he the man who wants her—dead or alive?

Cat Scratch Fever by L.C. Alleyne

Inspector Rafael Montigue detects the scent of a potential mate during a delegate meeting. Kristin Wallin is working undercover to bring down the Brazilian Minister’s drug ring. When terrorists attack, Rafe exposes his panther shifter identity in order to protect Kristin, but she surprises him with secrets of her own that make him look like an innocent kitty cat.

 Decker & Joy: A North Pole Unlimited Romance by Elle Rush

Jaded P.I. Decker Harkness must track down a missing Christmas prototype if he wants a shot at a corporate security contract. Sexy cat shelter manager Joy McCall needs help figuring out who broke into Kitten Caboodle and made off with her foster kittens. If they work together, everyone may get a happily-ever-after.

Cats in the Cradle by Jerri Drennen

Being accused of murder by red-haired beauty Beatrice Dailey, a woman known to be the crazy cat lady in the neighborhood, somehow kick-starts Sam Littman’s floundering career. Soon he finds himself writing her as the main character in his novel—but as fact & fiction start to blur, Sam & Beatrice tumble headfirst into something most unexpected.

Forgive Me by Lori Whyte

When a neighbor’s cat deposits a severed finger on Rachel Connor’s doorstep, the last thing she expects is that it’ll bring Grady Randall back into her life. He shattered her heart when they were teenagers, but she finds herself turning to him when a menacing stranger shows up at her door. Can their reunion & reignited attraction survive the night or will the murderer strike again?

Sanctuary by Sukie Chapin

When Indiana finds her life is in shambles & her exotic cat sanctuary on the verge of bankruptcy, her only hope rests in the capable hands of a tall, dark, & bearded stranger. Jake’s on the hunt for the only good thing left in his life, his lost lion Loki, but he never expected his search to lead him to beautiful, anguished Indy & her dilapidated refuge. As their attraction grows fiercer than the lions they love, Indy & Jake must decide if they can overcome old wounds & fears to find sanctuary in each other’s arms.

Mr. Hot Stuff by Abby Cheshire

After eight awful & all too memorable blind dates in a row, all Lily wants is to stay home with a good book & her five cats. But when her latest rescue cat Captain Kitt goes klepto & steals a set of keys that belong to the hunky fireman in the neighborhood – Lily may be closer to a perfect match than she ever imagined.

Dress Blues by Lisa Carlisle 

When Vivi Parker volunteers at a fundraiser for a cat shelter, she’s stunned to run into Jack Conroy, the one man she couldn’t have, but never forgot. While they served in the Marines, any relationship between them was off-limits. Years later in Boston, the rules have changed. But so have they.

This purrfect box set releases on October 11 and costs only 99¢. Bargoon! You can buy it on presale here: Amazon iBooks Nook Kobo


Friday Night Romance

Where's that recipe?

Today, my book is featured on Friday Night Romance. This site has one of the sexiest landing pages I’ve seen on a book blog. I’d like to imagine myself reading a book that way: dressed in a sequinned dress with an icy martini on a Persian rug. There’s undoubtedly a guy or multiple guys admiring me as I read, because I don’t put on those false eyelashes for nothing. Am I right?

The reality would be me, lying on the couch in yoga pants and a t-shirt, reading a book. I am being admired by a cat, who is actually wondering when I might feed him, or failing that, die so he can eat my corpse like that episode of C.S.I. I once saw.

Okay, enough morbid digressions. You may be wondering how I got my book on a sexy book blog. Especially one that usually reviews paranormal and fantasy romances.

Easy peasy, the blog is written by a woman named Kelly Matsuura. See the parallels to the heroine of Hockey Is My Boyfriend? Kelly first-name, Japanese last name? Coincidence? I think not. Kelly (the real person) jokingly thanked me for naming my heroine after her! Truth was I found Friday Night Romance ages ago, noticed the similarities and decided that when I finally published this book, I would approach her.

So although Kelly Matsuura does not read hockey romances, she does like multicultural heroines, and here we are. I confess that my heroine isn’t really that Japanese—much to the disappointment of Dave Vanderhauf. (That’s an in-joke. You have to read the book to get it. Chapter 35? Anyone? Anyone?)

So, promotional lesson learned: make sure your book heroine has a similar name to a cool blogger. Check out Friday Night Romance here.  

Launch Day!

Is that a rocket in your pocket?

Well, today is launch day for Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One, and so far it’s been fabulous, darlings! I just looked at the latest sales numbers and my book is already in the top 100 of sports fiction on Amazon. I’ve even made a sale on the brand new Kindle Unlimited. Woohoo, catnip for everyone. Well, everyone who’s sitting on my desk as I write this.

However, I got even better news late last night. From my personal research (aka obsessiveness) there are only a few book bloggers who review hockey books regularly, and the best one is Diane Subsits Lynch. Diane sincerely loves hockey and reads most of the hockey fiction that comes out. She was nice enough to feature How The Cookie Crumbles on her blog when it debuted. This time out, being slightly more organized, I was able to offer her an advance copy for review.

Earlier this week, I had expressed my nervousness about sending the new book out in the world. So imagine how I felt when Goodreads let me know that Diane was currently reading the book. Breathe in, breathe out.

But Diane loved the book! Her review completely blew me away. I’m trying to be cool, but this is actually my first review on a real book blog and I’m absolutely ecstatic. As an indie author, it’s more challenging to get publicity and this begins my launch on such a high note. Being a pro, Diane also cross-posts her review on 18 different platforms, including Goodreads and Amazon. Phew!

But why take my word for it? Check out the review on  Diane’s Book Blog here. And check back with her regularly for more hockey book reviews!

And most of all, thanks to all my readers for their support while I was endlessly editing and for making this launch day a big success.

Only One Sleep Left!

Whew, Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One will launch tomorrow. And just in time, since I have completely run out of questions to ask myself. So this is the last Q & A session. This is the last time I will ever interview myself—much to the relief of everyone, including me.

Q: When can I buy this book?
A: Well, I have uploaded it and Amazon says it will be available in 12 hours, which would be midnight tonight. So exactly on July 21st, which is the birthday of our heroine, Kelly Tanaka! Of course, the Zon is little unpredictable, so it could be live right now, or not until tomorrow morning. I will post the link when it's live.

Q: Who will like (y)our new book?
A: People who like to read about hockey and/or relationships, but like a dash of realism. Also any of my friends and family who want to remain so.

Q: How will you be celebrating the publication of your third book?
A: To celebrate I am going to be eating cake and possibly drinking something with fruit and tequila. Maybe I’ll replay a hockey game to get into the spirit. I can choose between the Olympics and a whole DVD of World Junior Hockey Championships I got on sale. Then, I’ll start editing Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two.

Q: Any last words, Mel?
A: Buy the book! You’ll enjoy it and you’ll be keeping me in cake.

Drive Me Crazy

Woot, only two days left until the launch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part Two.
I’m very excited, mainly because I can finally stop asking myself questions. People around me are starting to whisper and give me pitying glances. More than they do normally.

Q: So Mel, in a sentence, what is the book about?
A: This book is essentially about first love. That time of life when you search for meaning in every word or action. When just the touch of someone’s hand sends your body into overdrive. That crazy mix of hormones and emotion, where everything is so important and dramatic. 

Q: That was more than a sentence. You seem to be speeding down Memory Lane in a Ferrari.
A: Yes, and now I must go and take a cold shower. Speaking of cars, here’s another excerpt. Kelly is confiding in her most practical friend, Charmaine.  
Charmaine shook her head. “You’re asking the wrong person. I know nothing about relationships. I do know I could never go out with a guy like Phil.” 
“What does that mean, a guy like Phil?” 
“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to insult you.” Charmaine peered at me to make sure I wasn’t offended. “I only meant that I could never date him because he’s so out of my league.” 
“Why not? You’re cute and really smart. What more could a guy want?” 
She started to giggle nervously. “Phil is so good-looking and experienced with women. Dating Phil would be like learning to drive in a Ferrari—way too much car for a beginner.” 

April Showers... And Bathes As Well

....bring May flowers
This is part of a daily series of interviews leading up to the July 21st launch of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One, where I ask myself questions and then answer them. You don’t have to tell me, I know it’s weird. I’m looking forward to the actual book launch, where I’ll get to answer someone else’s questions.

Q: Well, our reading audience seemed to enjoy hearing about the hero of the book, page hits were way up. Except for the hero sandwich photo. I’m sure some other kind of ribs would have gone down better. Heh, heh.

A: I refuse to objectify men. Except in my writing.

Q: Let’s get back on track. Tell us more about Kelly’s best friend, April Lachance?

A: I have a beta reader named Daisy who adores April. She likes her sarcasm, her confidence, her great clothes, and the fact she gets to dole out advice to Kelly all the time. Daisy has a secret dream to be an advice columnist or a television judge. I think she identifies with April, big time. Daisy was quite offended when April said something slightly cruel to Kelly and made me take that part out of the book. Daisy seems to be bossy enough to be a judge. Good thing she doesn't read my blog.

What I like is the easiness of the relationship between April and Kelly. They’ve known each other since they were ten years old, and remained best friends the whole time.
I love my long-term girlfriends, the ones I too have known for years. We understand each other’s personalities so well and there’s no fooling each other or pretending to be something that we’re not. April knows Kelly’s idiosyncrasies and helps her when she wants help.

And the book has one of my favourite kind of scenes: a makeover! I love all kinds of makeovers—rooms, finances, gardens—but my fav is appearances. So that’s what I wrote in here. In fact, April fixes Kelly up in each book in the series! You’d think Kelly would get the hang of dressing herself, but apparently not. So if you too like that, here’s a little excerpt from Chapter Nine, Makeover Magic.

Back at her place, April sat me down at her dressing table. “Okay, makeup time.” 
“Really? I don’t want to wear a lot of makeup,” I protested. This date was turning into a way bigger deal than I thought. 
“Don’t worry, Kelly. After all these years, I know you.” April and I had been friends ever since I moved to North Van seven years ago. “Close your eyes.” 
I closed my eyes, felt April’s fingers near my eyes and then a sharp pain. 
“Ouch! What are you doing?” I asked. My eyes flew open, and she was holding a pair of zebra print tweezers with one of my hairs in them. 
“Do you know how long I’ve been wanting to clean up your eyebrows? You have nice brows, but when I take out a few stray hairs, it’s really going to open up your eyes.” 
“But it hurts,” I protested. My eyes were watering as she kept plucking. 
“Don’t be a baby. I’m sure getting slammed into the boards hurts more than having your eyebrows plucked.”

Hello Hero

What you get when you Google image search "hockey hero"

Q: Well Mel, yesterday’s post was kinda whiny. So today, let’s talk about something more exciting—sex! Tell us about the hero of Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One, Phil Davidson.

A: If you like guys who are tall, dark and good-looking with great bodies, you might find Phil attractive. Also, he has a soft side: he’s into music and likes to play guitar. And he's definitely vulnerable when it comes to anything around our lovely heroine, so awwww. Phil is packing heat, if that matters to you. But most importantly for Kelly, he’s athletic and good at hockey. They do all kinds of outdoor things together: hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, and swimming. 
It’s a match made in Vancouver. Really, around here all anyone wants to know on Monday is whether you went to Whistler in the winter or the beach in the summer.

Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One is about first love. Phil and Kelly have known each other since they were ten years old and they’ve always been good friends. As Phil has, er, matured, he’s become interested in Kelly in a whole new way. Apparently that’s a whole romance genre: the friends-into-lovers thing. But really, it makes a lot of sense, a person that you know and feel comfortable with is a good candidate for a relationship. Or maybe they set the bar for what your ideal may be.

I’ll let Phil explain it himself. When Phil was sixteen, he started looking at Kelly differently. Here’s an excerpt from the book, from Phil’s POV:

I could also pinpoint the day I started liking Kelly for real. 
It was a few months ago. For a while, I’d been noticing that she was developing physically, and I was changing too. 
One day, we went for a long kayak ride. It started raining on the way back, and we were getting chilled. After we put the kayak away, we ran up to the deck, and jumped in our hot tub to warm up. She didn’t have her bathing suit, so she stripped down to her sports tank and borrowed a pair of running shorts from me. 
“Holy doodle, this feels great.” Kelly sunk down into the water. “Really, it’s like everything good at once, we’re getting warm and the jets are massaging us.” 
She fully immersed herself for a moment. Then she brought her head up and made this noise, almost a moan, and I got a hard-on. 
Her eyes were closed, and I really looked at her.Lots of half-Asian girls are cute, but Kelly was all bright and energetic. When she talked, her whole face lit up. But now, when she was completely relaxed, she looked beautiful. Her face was kind of heart-shaped, with tanned skin, a few freckles, long eyelashes, and really full lips. And her body was hot, too. Kelly was strong; she went to the gym a lot, so she had great definition in her arms and legs. But she also had a tiny waist and this incredible ass. 
She opened her eyes and smiled at me. Luckily she had no clue what I was thinking, which was mainly how I’d like to jump her, right there and then. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post. And remember, Hockey Is My Boyfriend, Part One will be available for download on July 21st.

Party Girl

If nobody comes to my party, I'll eat these all by myself.
Today our Q & A is less breathless. There’s only one question: What kind of expectations do you have for Hockey Is My Boyfriend?

A: Augh. Such a tough question.

Each time you write a book, it’s like throwing a party. You do all the preparation: cleaning your place, buying drinks and food, cooking, decorating, etc. Then there’s this one moment before the party starts that you think, “Is anybody going to come?” Right now is that moment.

I feel pretty blessed with the sales of my first long novel, How The Cookie Crumbles. I knew very little about book marketing or promotion, so basically I put the book out there and crossed my fingers. Lots of great people found the book and let me know how much they enjoyed it. I took it for granted that many indie authors had good sales, but since then I’ve learnt that many sell less than a dozen books to non-family member.

As I’ve written before, I think my success is partly due to the fact that romance readers are avid readers who are able to size up books from the sample and don’t need a ton of hype. In addition, lots of readers—me included—just like hockey books.

Having said that, I don’t think that my books are typical. They are usually longer than most novels, and mix up humour, drama, and sex in a way that makes them a little harder to classify.

Hockey Is My Boyfriend is different in a few ways. In the first chapter, the heroine is only fifteen years old! I’m pretty sure that will turn off some readers right there. But it’s about first love, so I wanted to start at the beginning. Don’t worry, nothing statutory happens, and I fast-forward two years soon afterwards. 

The other way that HIMB is different is that it’s divided into three parts. Part One takes place in high school. Part Two takes place during Kelly’s third year at university. Part Three is when she graduates and starts working. So it’s a long story—surprise, surprise, I know.

So, while I’m extremely excited about the book (after all the rewriting and editing I’ve done, I should be!) I’m still getting the pre-party jitters. I worry that people sampling the beginning will write it off as some lame young adult novel. And I’m worried that people who think it’s a YA novels are going to freak out when they get to the sex scenes. 

But why worry? This book is for smart readers who are interested in relationships. And hockey. And I’m sure those people will find it.

What's New, Pussycat

get this stupid hat off me

Happy New Year, everyone! Hopefully your hockey teams are starting 2014 well, unlike mine, which began with losses and injuries. And speaking of bad news, I have bad news and good news, which would you like first?

The bad news is that Valley of Gold, the novella I said would be published for Christmas, is obviously not done. Well, actually it is done, but I’ve decided to add another novella to it before publishing. So, now I have to write the extra novella.

The good news is that I am editing my next long book right now, and it’s even longer than How The Cookie Crumbles. So long in fact, that it’s divided into two books. Don’t worry, the first book will have a proper ending. I hate those cliff-hanger books, they seem like a cash grab to me. Anyway, it’s already done, but I have to do some severe editing before it's ready to publish. Sigh. Editing always takes longer than I think. So I’m not even going to make a promised publication date, because I’m way too optimistic. Examples of my magical thinking: “Why yes, I can have that 50 page report done by tomorrow morning.” “Why yes, the Canucks are going to win the Stanley Cup!” “Why yes, I’m going to have my next book done by the end of January.”

The new books, which have no titles yet, are about Kelly Tanaka, a girl who plays hockey. Yup a girl, because we follow her from high school to university to the working world. It’s a sprawling epic that crosses generations, continents, and world wars. Naw, just kidding, it’s another hockey romance.

I’m excited because the first seven chapters in the first book have already been edited and finalized. So only 70 to go. Really. But in the meantime, here’s an excerpt for you. Let me set this up. Kelly is obsessed with hockey, she plays hockey and trains hard. In fact, she’s so focused on hockey, that she hasn’t had any interest in doing what normal 17 year-old girls do. Important things like shopping for clothes and dating. But a dare from Laura, the captain of her new hockey team, leads Kelly into a whole new world: guys.

In this excerpt, Kelly is going on a “fake date” with Nicklas Ericcson, a good-looking winger from the local rep hockey team. It’s not a real date, because in order to win her bet, Kelly had to beg and bribe Nicklas. One of his conditions was that the tomboyish Kelly get dressed up, since he has a reputation to maintain. So, in the previous chapter, April, Kelly’s best friend, orchestrated the obligatory chick-lit makeover scene, and voilá: a whole new Kelly. Just in time for the fake date.

After fixing me up, April even dropped me off at the movie theatre. She wanted to stay and have a look at Nicklas, but she had a date of her own. While I was waiting in the lobby, I saw two girls from my hockey team there. I figured they were spying on me, so I went over to chat.
“Sorry, Kelly. Laura did not believe you 100%, so she made us come. We were seeing the new Katie Holmes movie anyway. Don’t worry, we won’t follow you into the theatre or anything,” said one of them, a d-man named Hilary.
“You look really nice,” said the other girl, called Sara M. to distinguish her from the two other Saras on the team. “I like your top.”
I don’t think anyone had ever liked my top before, so April certainly knew what she was doing. The second sign that I looked different came when Nicklas walked right by me without noticing. To be exact, he checked me out but never got as high as my face so he didn’t recognize me.
“Hey Nicklas.”
“Kelly? Kelly! You clean up nicely.” He seemed surprised, and smiled.
“Nicklas, this is Sara and Hilary. They’re on my hockey team.”
“Hello,” both girls said at the same time. They had these goofy expressions on their faces. Nicklas seemed to have this weird effect on women.
“Ladies,” Nicklas nodded at them. Then he turned his megawatt smile on me. “Shall we get the tickets?”
I held them up. “Way ahead of you,” I replied. I kept looking at his lips. Seriously, I just wanted to kiss him again. What was wrong with me? This was charity on his part, and I had to be cool.
“Excuse us then,” he said to the girls, who were apparently stunned silent. He put his hand on the small of my back. Electricity again! I took a huge breath in, which caused him to focus on the V of my top.
“You sure look different, Kelly. You look—hot.”
“Um, thanks,” I replied with automatic politeness. Another first, no guy had ever called me hot before, unless I was actively sweating.
We sat down in the theatre. Nicklas started telling me about how his team was doing and who the best teams in his division were. As he was talking, he kept leaning towards me and getting really close. Once, he played with the fringe on my jacket, and his knuckles brushed my breast. I was torn between punching him and jumping him, so I pretended not to notice. Finally he paused and gave me this intense look.
“You know all the time we played hockey, I never knew you had a body like this underneath the equipment.”
“Well, I probably didn’t. I mean I was only 13 or 14 when we last played together.” Wow, could I have sounded any dumber if I tried?
He laughed. The movie was starting, so I was spared making any more stupid comments. As the previews began, he put his arm over the back of the seat. 
“What are you doing?” I asked. Really, I couldn’t stop my inner eleven-year-old from hijacking the date.
“I figure if your teammates are watching, we need to make things look good.”
“I don’t think they’re here. They were going to another movie.”
“You never know, Kelly.” And he pulled me in a little closer to him.
The movie was actually pretty good, in a cartoony way. There was a strong female star, so it wasn’t like a formulaic action flick. The only downer was that it was going to be continued, so the ending wasn’t very good. But honestly, I had been distracted by Nicklas the whole time. He was so close, his arm was touching me, and I could smell his masculine smell that was a combination of cologne, soap, and sweat. He seemed to be able to generate the whole electrical thing without even kissing me. I was feeling a little dazed when we finally got up to leave. It was a good thing that this date was almost over, ’cause I needed time to gather my wits.