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Monday, May 18, 2009:
Toni Blake: Getting "Reckless"
Happy Monday, everyone! I hope y'all had a fabulous weekend. Finally it seems like the weather is catching up and getting nice. How extraordinary to see the sun again :)

Today I have a special surprise - Miss Toni Blake, a favorite author of mine, has kindly taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions, and most especially to tell us about her upcoming release, "One Reckless Summer", which I read and enjoyed VERY much. She also gives us a little tidbit of information on what erotic romance author Lacey Alexander has in the works, which I'm very excited to hear about..
Without further ado, let's bring out Toni. And please be sure to stop by tomorrow, when I'll be having a random contest for a copy of this book, to be released on May 26th. I think fans of Toni's work are really going to enjoy this one.
S ~ Toni, thank you so much for stopping by. As you know, I've been a fan for years. What has been your most rewarding experience as a writer?

Toni: For me, it’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS when I meet or get an e-mail from a reader who really loved or was moved by one of my books. To me, at the core, writing has always been about connecting with other people, so to find out I’ve succeeded in touching someone with my stories is the ultimate reward!

S ~ How challenging is it to write as both Toni Blake and erotic romance author Lacey Alexander? How do you choose which persona to be from book to book?

Toni: It’s both challenging … and not. ; ) The hard part is keeping up with it all – two web sites, two sets of deadlines; two names in general is a lot to juggle.

But the writing part comes pretty easy for me. I don’t really choose which persona to be for each book – to me, there are huge differences between a Toni Blake book and a Lacey Alexander book and I approach them with entirely different methods of writing.

A Toni Blake book is focused on two people, one of whom is often a bad boy hero, who have a lot standing between them – and it’s very much about breaking down barriers, overcoming adversity, and about the heroine ultimately using the power of love to sort of “rescue” the hero from whatever made him such a bad boy in the first place. These books use a combination of emotion, angst, humor, passion, and everything in between to hopefully create a very “complete” feeling story. Toni Blake books also have much more complex plots, usually with a secondary story that ties closely with the primary one, and there are usually a lot of small threads and strings that must be tied up neatly in the end to pull it all together.

A Lacey book, conversely, focuses very firmly on sexual content and a sexual situation. From there, the characters and their conflicts grow, but the plot is less complex.

The main thing I feel the two types of books have in common is that they both have a lot of emotion in them. Whatever’s going on, I consider it my job to make sure the reader knows what the character is feeling while it’s happening.

S ~ What was the romance novel you remember reading? Did it convince you to keep reading them?

Toni: Jennifer Crusie’s MANHUNTING and GETTING RID OF BRADLEY – the original first editions. ; ) And yes, absolutely. A friend of mine suggested I should switch from writing literary fiction to romance. I’d never really read romance, so she shoved those books into my hand and promised me they weren’t what I expected. She was right – at that time, I had no idea romance could be so smart and sexy and funny. It literally changed my life because I immediately started reading and writing romance, and I’ve never looked back.

S ~ What's the most decadent thing you've done in the name of research? (i.e. gone to a spa, taken a luxurious vacation, etc)?

Toni: Well, I wouldn’t call it a luxurious vacation, but when I was writing IN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS, my best friend and I took a research trip to New Orleans. I’d been there several times before, but there were some very specific questions I needed answers to – and some things I wanted to experience rather than just read about, like floating along a bayou. We had a great time, and I also got all the answers I needed.

S ~ How do you think the industry has changed since you first became published? Is it easier or more difficult to find an audience?

Toni: Wow, great question. These days the book industry is struggling, right along with the rest of the economy, and competition is stiffer than ever. So I really do believe it’s more difficult to build an audience and get a foothold now. I’m still trying to do this after eleven years in the business. ; ) Particularly, I think these days it’s more challenging to get publishers to stick behind newer authors and give them a chance to grow, and I also think it has become more rare for a publisher to really put a lot of backing and support behind an author until he/she is a bestseller – and the flipside of that, of course, is that it’s hard to become a bestseller without that big backing and support. ; )

So … to anyone who picks up a copy of my new release, ONE RECKLESS SUMMER, you have my true and sincere appreciation! :)

S ~ How do you pamper yourself after spending weeks or months working to finish a book?

Toni: Hmm. Usually, I do something really wild and decadent like … read a book. ; ) Which might not sound that exciting, but lately my reading time is at a minimum, so getting a chance to read feels pretty fun. I also sometimes treat myself to a little shopping. And I allow myself to work on my quilting more – because I have bad shoulders, and usually, typing all day does them in. So in the short periods when I’m not typing all day, that’s a great time to punish them by quilting. ; )

S ~ What is the most valuable piece of advice you've gotten about writing?

Toni: Never give up. Because most people do. If you don’t, you’re already ahead of the odds.

S ~ How do you feel about promotion - what avenues do you think have been positive about getting the word out there about your books? Do you find any medium that has not really worked for you?

Toni: Another great question, Stacy! For the most part, I feel that in the world of “big publishing,” there’s not a lot authors can do to really tip the scales – it’s about things like getting great covers, getting great distribution, etc. But at the same time, I’m a believer that every sale counts and moves you toward your goals. The promotion I most enjoy is doing online stuff when I have the time – stuff like this interview, hanging out at my online readers group ( for anyone who’d like to join us!), doing occasional guest blogs, etc., and I do believe that things like this help. I personally believe I have picked up new readers – and friends – through MySpace. And I’ve shied away from things like buying print ads because they’re usually really expensive and I’m not sure they do any good. ; )

S ~ As Toni, you've recently completed an amazing story for the new and exciting Destiny series called "One Reckless Summer". What was the inspiration for this story? What else can we look forward to seeing in the rest of the series?

Toni: Ah – thank you, Stacy! :) As you know, I love me some alpha heroes, and I personally think Mick Brody is my ultimate alpha creation thus far. ; ) And I think this book is my personal fave of all I’ve written. The story actually began with a question: What would make a woman cross a dark lake in a canoe in the middle of the night? And then another question: What might she find on the other side in the woods? ; ) Actually, I answer this question in more detail – and you can see the woods that inspired the question – in this short video about the Destiny series:

As for future stories, most of the characters you’ll meet are introduced in ONE RECKLESS SUMMER. For example, in upcoming books, you’ll find a hot cop, a sexy fireman, another long-missing bad boy who returns home with some secrets – and, of course, all the women who can tame them. ; ) The girls in the series all congregate at Under the Covers, the local bookstore, and their banter about guys and love and life has been a lot of fun to write so far. By and large, the Destiny books are heartwarming and life-affirming but at the same time are super sexy and fun to read.

And while we’re talking about Destiny, here’s a lovely one minute video that totally captures the mood of the series:

S ~ What is Lacey up to these days? What can we look forward to seeing from her next? And when will her next book be released in print?

Toni: Lacey is as busy as ever. ; ) Her next book from Penguin comes out this November and is called WHAT SHE NEEDS. This is actually a slightly darker, edgier project for Lacey which I think fans will enjoy.
S ~ Okay let's talk about something else. How about....Guilty pleasures:

S ~ favorite beverage?

Toni: Classic Coke

S ~ Favorite vacation spot?

Toni: Oooh, I can’t decide. I have three faves so far in life: The Cinque Terre in Italy, the Canadian Rockies, and Hawaii. But for pure paradise/relaxation: Hawaii, from which I just returned a couple of weeks ago.

S ~ Favorite way to pamper yourself?

Toni: Shopping.

S ~ Favorite movie?

Toni: Too many to name, I’m afraid, so I won’t even get started.

S ~ Favorite hottie? Or favorite romance hero?

Toni: A certain Mr. Clooney comes to mind …

S ~ Which celebrity would you love to meet, and one you've enjoyed meeting?

Toni: Again, a certain Mr. Clooney comes to mind. :) I’ve been within five feet of him, but did not, alas, get to meet him.

I’d also love to meet Ellen. I’m a big fan, and I so admire her uplifting attitude and positive way of approaching life.

S ~ Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what type of music inspires those hot 'n sexy scenes?

Toni: Nope, I’m all about peace and quiet when I write – even though most of my Toni books do have “soundtracks” that run through the books, songs I use within the story to set the backdrop and mood for certain scenes.

S ~ Any last words, or information you care to share? Perhaps the latest on book #2 in the Destiny series?

Toni: First, thanks so much for such a great interview – this was fun! As for Book 2 in Destiny, I wish I had more to share. So far, no title is written in stone, but I expect the book to be out early next year and I hope readers will dig the Destiny series as much as I do. Thanks in advance to any and all who give ONE RECKLESS SUMMER a try – it’s a book I’m truly excited about and very proud of; I personally feel it’s my best work to date, so I hope people will check it out. And for an excerpt and more, readers can visit my website at !

S ~This was great, Toni! I learned a lot today. And Cincy is less than a month away - I can't wait to see you again :)

[Note: I don't know if Toni will get a chance to stop by today, but if you ask a question, I'll be sure to include it in the random entries for tomorrow's contest]

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  1. Hi, Toni! What a GREAT interview, Stacy!! As you know already, I'm a big fan of Toni's. Tempt Me Tonight being my all time favorite contemporary novel.

    I already have One Reckless Summer waiting not so patiently in my tbr!

  2. I love Toni writing. I did read One Reckless Summer and it is a great book. I had such a hard time doing my house work and job ecause I wanted to read it all the time. I cannot wait until the next in the series comes out!

  3. Stacy and Toni what a great interview!!!

    Toni I have a question, do you think that there are some reader events that focus too much on the writing side of things and leave out things focused solely on those there as readers? Are there some events you feel fit better with readers wanting to meet their heroes in writing?


  4. Good Morning Stacy and Toni!

    Awesome interview! I have "tempt me tonight", here waiting to be read and given all the wonderful things I've heard about it I know I will enjoy it.

    Wow, I've learned so much about you today Toni. Funny I didn't completely connect Lacy and Toni until reading Stacy's interview.

    Thank you so much.

    Warm Regards

  5. Hey ladies, good morning!

    First, I want to thank Stacy for interviewing me - doesn't she ask great questions! :)

    Tee - I'm THRILLED you enjoyed ONE RECKLESS SUMMER and I'm so pleased to hear you're looking forward to the next Destiny book!

    Barbara - hey, how are you?? Good to "see" you, and you know how much your love of TEMPT ME TONIGHT thrills me to my very soul.

    Wendy, thanks for visiting, and for the question! I actually don't attend all that many reader events - mainly only the Lori Foster Reader and Writer Get Together in Ohio each June (and coming up in just a few short weeks!) I can tell you that readers LOVE this event, though, because it's structured so that most of the time is devoted just to chatting and hanging out : ) Plus it's really economical, too. So I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance.

    I'm on my way out the door right now for a couple of appointements, but I'll definitely check back in later. : )

  6. I enjoyed reading the interview Stacy and Toni! Looking forward to seeing you both at Lori Foster's event.

  7. Hey Stacy and Toni!

    I'm pimping your contest over at my blog post haste!

    Great Giveaway by the way!


  8. Great interview Stacy.

    Toni I love your books and have several of them on my keeper shelf. Keep up the good writing as both Toni and Lacey. I will have to put One Reckless Summer on my wish list.

    As an on again, off again writer I appreciate your honesty about not quitting. I seem to be struggling with that. LOL

  9. I loved the interview! I haven't read One Reckless Summer yet but I cannot wait to read it. I love how you are in touch with your readers!


  10. Hey, Toni! I still owe you that Mr. Big picture with my hubby. I'm the worst, lol! Hopefully, I'll remeber to bring it to RWA ;)

    Stacy, I will post about the contest in the morning!! Can't wait.

  11. Great interview, ladies! I'm so excited for this book and to see Toni finally take on a series. Whenever we get together she's always letting slip these tantalizing tidbits of what's to come - and we are definitely in for some fun! :)

  12. I enjoyed reading the interview. I haven't read One Reckless Summer yet.
    I love your Lacy books.

  13. Hi Toni,
    I love your books. I just reread "Letters to a Secret Lover" this past weekend. Congrats on your upcoming release.

  14. Great interview Stacy and Toni!!

    Toni - I love you're books, as you know - I can hardly wait for your new release.

  15. Hello ladies, thanks for all the great comments! And sorry I was away for so long and am just now getting back online today!

    Thanks for all the lovely comments about my books - you guys are wonderful for saying such nice things :) And ONE RECKLESS SUMMER actually doesn't come out until next Tuesday, May 26 - the lovely ladies here who have already read it got advanced copies from my publisher by being reviewers. So I definitly appreciate you guys putting it on your reading/buying list and I wanted to let you know when it will officially hit the shelves : ) More to come in a moment :)

  16. Barbara - it will be so fun to meet you at RWA, so if you end up with the Mr. Big picture there, that will just be a perk :) I hope you can get it posted on the reader loop photos at some point - I think the ladies there will love it! (See, this is the kind of fun stuff we do at my reader group - ogle photos of hot men ; ) So please join us if you're seeing this and you're not already there:

    Stacy and Tee and Beth and anyone else here who'll be at the Lori Foster event, can't wait to see/meet you! :) And I just bought a new skirt to wear there, too, which makes it even MORE fun for me ; )

    Patty - the whole writing thing can be tough, especially in a very fickle market. If you love what you're doing/writing, my advice is to try to take as much joy in the process as possible, and just keep at it. And I wish you lots of luck!

    Val, nice to see you here, and thanks for that nice comment. The truth is - I lose a lot of time I should be working by chatting with reader friends, but I enjoy it too much not to do it ; ) I've been trying to cut down lately and work more, and the reader loop helps with that a LOT, because I can keep in touch with so many people in just one place :)

    Thanks again for dropping by to comment, ladies!

  17. Hi Toni!

    I saw a post at Barbara's about your interview here and wanted to drop by.....I'm new to you and really enjoyed your interview! I'm looking forward to getting and reading your books!!

  18. Hey Blanche - thanks so much for stopping by - and thanks in advance for trying my books! I really appreciat it and hope you'll enjoy them! : )

  19. Great interview! Must add One Reckless Summer to my every growing TBB list.

  20. Liza, thanks so much for adding ORS to your shopping list! Much appreciated!

  21. boy am I jealous of those having read it already. I can't wait to get my copy.

    Hi there toni

  22. Hey Judy - good to see you here! And thanks for looking forward to the book :)

    Gang, I'm signing off for the evening, but wanted to again say thanks for all the nice comments! Also, I neglected to thank Stacy before now for putting that nice picture of my man, George, in the interview : ) Nice touch, Stacy! And thanks again for the interview - this was fun!

  23. Sorry I'm late to the party. Great interview Stacy and Toni. I'm looking forward to reading One Reckless Summer. And as a Lacey Alexander fan I can't wait until November.

  24. Hi Toni! I remember discovering your books with RED DIARY! Loved that book and then too the Lacey books I read that didn't know they were yours. I have good tastes in books :)

    I'm excited about ONE RECKLESS SUMMER! What a fab interview and great questions and fun answers!

    Is WHAT SHE NEEDS as a darker read, a paranormal from you? A series? Love to hear more about it!

  25. One Recless Summer sounds great! If you could have one of your books made into a movie, what actors would you pick to play the hero and heroine?

  26. Excellent interview, Stacy and Toni! You always come up with the greatest questions, Stacy!

    I've loved each and every one of Toni's books and look forward to ONE RECKLESS SUMMER!

  27. congrats ont eh books
    love bikini diaries
    your writing is

    is there anything u won t write or havent written


  28. Superb interview, Stacy and Toni! Really informative and fun.

    I won't give up, Toni. I'll keep writing!

  29. Great interview Stacy. Very informative. I really enjoy Toni's work and am looking forward to One Reckless Summer.
    It has a georgous cover which I hope will attract more readers for you.

    Toni I have noticed this year that publishers seem to be doing less promotion of most books as a writer have you found that to be true and do you think it's an economic trend or for some other reason?

    The new Lacy Alexander book sounds really good. Can you tell us any more about the plot line?

    Looking forward to seeing both you and Stacy in a cocuple of weeks.

    BTW Toni love the picture in the lavender dress....very pretty.

  30. Hey, glad I checked back in, since I clearly signed off too early last night ; ) Thanks for all the great questions, and I'll try to cover them all pretty quickly.

    About WHAT SHE NEEDS, the next Lacey book, no it's not a paranormal, nor is it part of a series. It's really just a darker and more thorough sexual exploration than my previous Lacey books. The book is set at a "resort" where the hero's job is to help the heroine move past her sexual hang-ups, and he does so in some really extreme, envelope-pushing ways ; ) She's resistent to the idea and in denial about her sexual hang-ups, so there's a lot of sexual and emotional push/pull going on, and it became so complex that the book ended up being considerably longer than any other Lacey book I've written.

    kh - I can't say there's anything I DEFINITELY wouldn't write, but I'm generally not drawn to paranormal writing, unless the paranormal elements were fairly light. I'm not sure why - I loved stuff like that as a kid and even as a younger adult, but as of right now anyway, my creative tendancies just don't lean in that direction, even as popular as paranormal stuff is.

    Barbara - yes, I do think the economy is causing publishers to promote less, which is a bummer for all involved ; ) I've been fortunate that ONE RECKLESS SUMMER still got pretty much publisher support (especially with ARCs) because it's the beginning of a big series Avon hopes will help me "break out" as an author. But it may well be that my future books in the series *won't* have ARCs, which, again, is a major bummer. For instance, Stacy and several other folks here have gotten to read the book early and are kindly spreading the good word about it. Without those ARCs, that can't happen. The book business is in a bad place right now - so all we can do is, basically, buy books, spread the word about books we love, and hope it all turns around whenever the economy bounces back. But the business DOES seem to be going through big changes - and I won't lie, that scares me a little ; ) Oh, and thanks about the dress - that picture is from last year's RITA Awards night, when TEMPT ME TONIGHT was nominated - so I went all out, bought "the princess dress" and the whole nine yards :)

    Amy, sadly, I have no good answer on the actor question - I never do ; ) It's more like these people are so real in my head that I can't find anyone who embodies them in real life ; ) That said, at my reader group that I keep mentioning, I have posted pictures of guys who come *close* to capturing the look of the Destiny heroes, so I invite you to join us and check that out.

  31. Gang, in closing, thank you again for the marvelous support, and it does my writer's heart good to hear so many of you are adding ONE RECKLESS SUMMER to your shopping lists! A heartfelt thank you for that! :) And I hope you enjoy every page of it!

  32. I know I'm incredibly late (yesterday wasn't fun), but I just wanted to stop by and say HI Toni *waves* and to wish you all the best for the release of One Reckless Summer.

    For me, it’s ALWAYS, ALWAYS when I meet or get an e-mail from a reader who really loved or was moved by one of my books.I should email then because I just loved In Your Wildest Dreams. The issues the heroine had....blew me away.

  33. Loved the interview. And I'll be sure to look out for One Reckless Summer which sounds like a great books.

  34. Thank you for sharing with us. This is what I love about blogs, reading interviews with my favorite authors!

  35. Hi Toni,

    What is the one bad writing habit that you have?


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