Here’s how you can tell when I’m being sarcastic:

Simple. I’m awake.

*insert rimshot here*

I write two kinds of humor. There’s the really quirky stuff where you know you’re getting into right from the first page, like this:

Sold As Is by Holley Trent

Or like this:

Back to Storafalt by Holley Trent

(The first sentence of the story is about condoms, FFS.)

And then there are the books where the humor is stealthy. You may not know I’m telling a joke until sentences, pages, or even chapters later.

Like in this book:
Seeing Red by Holley Trent cover

or this one:
Colleen's Choice by Holley Trent

The tough thing about sarcasm is that not all readers can detect it. Some of that is due to the vagaries of book editing and formatting. I’m fond of using italics to indicate emphasis so that you can guess when a character is being snarky, but sometimes those get nuked during the production process.

There’s a big difference between:

Did he really just go there?


Did he really just go there?


Did he really just go there?

I’ve been told on more than one occasion to try to minimize my italics use, so I do try to find other ways to express emphasis and urgency.

Occasionally, snark is the character’s personality. (Meg in Seeing Red, I’m looking at you.) Sometimes she can seem really bossy and bitchy, but in my head–she doesn’t sound that way. There’s no edge to her voice, even when her words are pointed.

I try hard to make all my characters relatable and accessible, but sometimes, they’re just not to some readers. They’re too different–too hard to peg. The readers may interpret them as not caring or not being fully invested in the romance. That bums me out.

Deadpan humor is part and parcel of my style. Does it work for romance?

I spend a lot of time doubting it.

Try as I might to write characters readers will instantly connect with, some characters are going to come across as having a limited portfolio of emotions because of their snark, their sharp edges. They may seem like they don’t react enough, when in fact, they’re internalizing everything and storing it up for later. That’s how some real people behave.

I’m one of them.

If you can’t detect written sarcasm, or if you don’t understand the people who use it, then you might not be able to tell that a character is indeed feeling something, and they may be feeling it so, so keenly it’ll break your heart for them. They don’t have to be overtly nasty to be sarcastic. Sometimes, their punchline is a single word spoken in a devastated whisper.

Every three months or so, I think about changing my style and trying to write straight. No stealthy innuendo. No sarcasm. No running gags (there’s one in Seeing Red, but you probably won’t get the full ha-ha unless you read Saint and Scholar and Calculated Exposure). Most of the time, I can be talked out of any drastic style changes, but I have noticed that with each book, I pull out more and more of the funk before they even reach my editors.

While I want every reader to relate to all of my lead characters, I also have to write the books that are genuine for me. I’m sure lots of readers think my heroines are bitchy. Yup. I know. Occasionally, I take that kind of feedback personally because my heroines tend to be like me. Ronnie. Colleen. Meg. Marcia. And I’m not bitchy (my husband probably agrees).

I don’t know what this’ll mean for the books I have yet to write. My paranormals are always going to be unapologetically snarky because I cut my teeth on urban fantasy before turning to romance. My contemporary romances, though…

…we’ll see.


Seeing Red is on virtual tour!

For the next two weeks, I’ll be splashing my big Russian and his convenient wife around Romancelandia.
Seeing Red Tasty Book Tours
Naturally, there’s prizes to be won:

1) One person will win e-book copies of the first two Hearts & Minds books – Saint and Scholar and Calculated Exposure.

2) One person will win his or her choice of two other backlist e-books.

3) One person will win a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble e-giftcard.

4) One person will win a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble e-giftcard.

It’s a review tour, so check out what what folks are saying about Seeing Red. The book officially releases 6/16. You can preorder it and have it in your e-reader at midnight next Monday, or add it to your Goodreads To Be Read (to be “Red”? heh heh) list.

Here’s the tour line-up.

(Please show my hostesses some luv!)

June 9th- Hot Guys In Books <>

(Stop 2) Toots Book Review <>

(Stop 3) Book Gossip <>

June 10th- Twin Sisters Rockin Book Reviews <>

June 11th- In Between the Lines <>

(Stop 2) The Many Faces of Romance <>

(Stop 3) Redheads Review it Better <>

June 12th- Crazy Four Books <>

June 13th- Book Freak <>

(Stop 2) Worth Reading It? <>

June 16th- Miriam Smith- Written Love <>

(Stop 2) Guardian’s Hangout <>

(Stop 3) Words of Wisdom from a Scarf Princess <>

June 17th- Books Like Breathing <>

June 18th- Snarky Mom Reads… <>

June 19th-  Booklover Sue <>

June 20th- Brit Nanny Reads <>

(Stop 2) Books and Fandom <>


It’s a double covergasm… (Contest closed)

The random winners have been notified! I’ll post their names after they’ve checked in.

…for a double release! To celebrate, I’m going to give away e-book copies of both stories. More about that in a bit. Let’s talk about this hop!

Covergasm blog giveaway hopYep. This one is ALL about the covers. The ones that just make you gasp and go..oh my, I NEED this book. Now! Those that are truly…covergasm-worthy. Stop by each blog to check out their favorites! There will be a giveaway at each stop plus a grand prize giveaway of an Amazon Gift Card! Happy Hopping!

I’ve got two releases tomorrow (I love/hate it when that happens) and they’ve got some pretty sassy covers. Here’s the first one for my contemporary romance novella, Back to Storafalt:
Back to Storafalt by Holley Trent
It’s a sexy, QUIRKY, second-chance romance. And by sexy, I mean they-get-it-on-on-the-first-page. And by quirky, I mean I make silly jokes about Lutherans and old people (sometimes both at once).

It’s a stand-alone, but is set in the same world as my novel Teaching the Cowboy. It’s got a small-town (Wyoming) setting, and all the kooky secondary characters you’d expect.

And here’s the other. (Man-tit alert!)
O for Two by Holley Trent
O for Two is a mmf ménage erotic romance novella and part of the multi-author Den of Sin series. 27,000 words and 4 1/2 sex scenes. I sweated while writing every single one of them. Keeping up with all those hands and … other things … is a grueling job.

Okay! Now that I’ve teased you with them, I’ll give two folks the chance to win a copy of either. Here’s what you have to do to enter: leave a comment on this post telling me what you’ve read this week. I’m nosy like that. I’ll pick the winners on Friday, June 12.

Don’t forget to visit the other stops in the hop, and use the widget to enter the grand prize for that big-ass Amazon gift card.


The eagle has landed.

Okay. That’s overly dramatic. How about, “The arc has resolved!”

Ashley's Allegiance by Robyn NeeleyThe last book in the Emerald Springs Legacy released today. Remember that series? The small town romance continuity set in Washington State (specifically, the Skagit Valley)?

I wrote the second book in it. This series feels like it’s been forever in the making, but it actually hasn’t been all that long! That’s one of the wonders of digital-first publishing. You don’t have to wait 18 months to two years for a book to launch. We started plotting out this series in spring 2013, we wrote the books over the summer (turned them in one month apart), and they released one at a time starting this past February.

Each book has a self-contained romance, but there’s also a background arc that links the five books together. There’s a lot of external conflict in this series. And maybe a little sex. Just a little. *clears throat*

You don’t have to read them in order, but I strongly recommend it.

Colleen's Choice by Holley TrentAnd can I give you a teeny tiny spoiler? The hero of Ashley’s Allegiance is Colleen Sanders’s brother Jacob, and he’s an absolute hoot (a hot, broody hoot). He and Colleen are alike in a lot of ways. Colleen actually shows up in a few scenes of AA, so if you missed her and her no-nonsense mouth, you can get your fix.

Ashley’s Allegiance is available at these places today (so far):

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo

Check out the links to all the other stories on my ESL page and stop by the ESL Facebook fan page. We may be giving stuff away today. No promises. *whistles innocently*


Last week to win really frickin’ cool stuff.

Contest closed! Winners will be verified and contacted soon. Check for newer posts to see if you’re a winner.
* * *

Our joint giveaway is winding down! Remember, you can enter daily through 5/31 if you’re a tweeter. Amazon/Barnes & Noble/All Romance eBooks gift certificates ($75 and $50) are up for grabs as well as a paperback set and some backlist e-books. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. Good luck!
May 5 Crimson Romance release celebration
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Please, sister, can you spare some votes?

A couple of my series are up for Best IR/Multicultural Series in the Swirl Awards. There’s Shrew & Company and my multi-author Den of Sin series.

If you’ve enjoyed books from either, please consider tossing a vote my way.

I can’t promise you diamonds in return, but I can wink affectionately in your general direction!

And while I’ve got your attention, the next set of Den of Sin novellas (including my O for Two) will be out soon. We’re going to launch all three at once, and we can’t announce the precise date just yet. DoS new release newsletter subscribers will be amongst the first to learn they’re available. Sign up here.


The incubus John charms a few more readers

ADemoninLoveSOGcoverGreat news! I found out on Friday that A Demon in Waiting – the first book in my Sons of Gulielmus series – is a RomCon Readers’ Crown Finalist!

That’s pretty darn exciting, because the Readers’ Crown’s criteria requires that eight romance lover read and rate a book. There aren’t too many contests that use that sort of vetting, so excuse me a few moments while I strut.

. . .

I’m back now. I’d love to win a trophy, but I’m just happy to be in the running. I see a lot of familiar names on the finalist list, and I’ve learned not to hold my breath. My author buddies are pretty damn talented. And that’s why they’re my buddies. ;)

Unfortunately, I won’t be at RomCon in June because I’ll be in New Mexico ogling petroglyphs and hunting for cheap turquoise. If I had a superhero power, it’d probably be the ability to be more than one place at a time.


Where’d the fairy tale go?

The fates don't play fair.

You probably didn’t notice, but Last of the Season – my short freebie with the cursed motel owner and the big fucking fairy prince has been slowly retreating from third-party vendor sites. For the moment, it’s still available on my website as a PDF, but in case you stumbled onto it on Goodreads or something and wondered how to get it, right now that’s the only way. I only left that version up because LotS is being judged for the Swirl Awards.

Why am I muffling it?

Well…I’m doing…something. I can’t say much in specifics right now, but I can say this much:

This fall, I’m releasing a story I’ve been sitting on for a very long time, and Last of the Season ties into that world. Last of the Season actually ties into a couple of worlds, which you’ll see next year when the Sons of Gulielmus series spins off.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “WTF, Holley?” Well, that wouldn’t be unusual, because I thrive on WTFery. Still, you know how Dana Marie Bell’s Poconos Pack and Halle Shifters are two series that constantly reference each other (and share characters)? Well, this’ll work sort of the same way. (If you haven’t read those series, then you should start now. They’re sexy and really funny.)

At the end of that big fall book, you’ll find out what the hell happened to Heath before he got to The Hearth. Once that one’s out, I’ll release Heath and Simone’s novel-length story. I’ve got a title for it, but won’t share it just yet.

I would highly recommend you sign up for my paranormal romance new release newsletter. Subscribers will be the first to find out what the secret project is and when it’s launching.

All right. I need to go finish torturing that creole incubus.


Novel Engagement

Romance Writers of America has developed a romance book discovery app that’ll launch this month.

If you like reading certain subgenres and tropes, you can use this tool to discover stories that fit them.

The books in the database are all by subscribed RWA members, so you won’t find every book in it like Goodreads. What you will find are guaranteed to be romances, and perhaps by new-to-you authors.

Personally, I’ll be trawling the “strong heroine” tag. Love me some difficult heroines (we all know that “strong” is generally just a nice way of saying “pain in the ass”).

You can sign up to get notified of it’s launch riiiiiiight here. If you download it, be sure to come back and tell me what you think!


Moving sucks eggs.

moving boxYou know, the last time we moved, it was with the aid of the relocation company that hauled our asses from North Carolina to Colorado. They packed up our house in NC, put most of our junk in storage until we found a long-term rental in CO, and once we’d found a rental house, they delivered our junk from storage. They did all the heavy lifting.

Now, we’re buying a house in Colorado (did I not talk about that? Well, we’re buying a house because we’re going to be here a few more years, and paying someone else’s mortgage [via rent] isn’t our idea of a good time). We’re moving across town–not even ten minutes from here counting stop lights–so we’re not going to pack up everything in the rental house all neatly and tidily.

No. We’re going to toss clothes and linens into big trash bags and reuse the same few boxes again and again for the other stuff. We’re going to dump things into open storage totes and cram them into the back of the Outback.

We close on the 23rd, and our lease ends the 31st. That gives us two full weekends to move and get the rental house “broom clean.” We’ll probably rent a small U-Haul to schlep things. But…we’ll need help with heavy items like our king mattresses and heavy furniture (my husband has a metal desk that weighs as much as my first car). I need to look into hiring a crew of in-town movers because I’m well past the age where being the short person helping move a three-seater sofa is something my body will easily bounce back from.

Oh, and the kids. Someone needs to supervise them while all this chaos ensues. I’m thinking about flying my niece out for four days so she can corral them while the major upheaval happens.

I just hope the settling-in process takes days instead of weeks. I’m on a deadline (that seems tighter by the day) and have a novella release on 6/6. Doing promo via smartphone 4G doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time.

Ugh. I’d better figure out where my new go-to liquor store is.