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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Touching Readers and Building Community

I have some exciting news. Recently, I've been thinking about how best to serve my readers and thier needs. The result has been the formation of my first reader's group. Here, readers get to be on the front lines, helping me pick character names, telling me what they prefer in a hero (tattoos - yes or no?) and chat with each other about my books. This is been incredibly exciting and rejuvinating for me. These lovely ladies have kept me going, even on days when I felt like crawling back under the covers and hiding. (I know some of you writers know what I'm talking about.) In exchange for their help, I offer up gift cards, swag, and other great prizes from my author griends. Some day, it's my hope to meet each of these wonderful ladies in person.

As a reader, I got to meet one of my favorite authors once -- Terry Brooks. I remember standing in the long line and having no idea what I was going to say to him when I finally reach the front. I had read all of his books, many more than once. In the end, I told him that his books were the reason I had become an avid reader (They were. I started reading the Shanara Series in fourth grade). He told me that it was the highest compliment a reader could give an author. Back then, I had no idea how powerful my words had been. Now, decades later, I can see the conversation from his point of view and understand his comment much better.

Are you a reader who has met an author? Tell me about the experience  in the comments below. If you're an author, tell me about one of the most memorable times you got to meet one of your fans. I'd love to hear from you!

NOW UP FOR PREORDER: A brand new erotic eserial described as a modern-day, erotic Downton Abbey.

Leo Perconti's  life is spinning out of control. As head of his family’s hotel conglomerate, it’s his job to save his family from bankruptcy. At the center of his turmoil is Karin Norell, a quiet, alluring intern who compliments his dominating personality and lets him feel in control once more.

As Karin explores her passion her feelings for Leo deepen. Unfortunately, Karin and Leo come from  different worlds, and when the two worlds collide, the cost can be devastating. As the service staff at The Palazzo rise up against the Perconti family, both Leo and Karin are faced with losing what each of them holds most dear. Together they must learn that true power comes from vulnerability and trust that can only happen when you let your insecurities go.

Preorder Part One Here: Amazon,  Barnes and Noble

Monday, September 29, 2014

Travel In The Fifties

Author, Sandra K. Marshall worked for an airline before she became a published author.   

She's going to tell you about traveling by air in the 50's even though she didn't fly for the first time until 1962; the year she graduated from high school.  Before that she traveled vicariously by reading books set in different locations, and she wanted to visit all of those places.

All of her published books have been set in the state of Missouri where she lives now.  Some day she'll write stories set in the exotic countries she's visited.

Back in the 50s, flying was magical and marvelous. Air travel exploded into its Golden Age, and airplane trips weren't just a means of getting to your vacation -- they were a vacation in themselves. Passengers dressed in their finest to fly. They lined up for group photos before boarding. Riding an airplane made them feel like a movie star because it pretty much took the salary of a movie star to do so.  But not everything was so rosy. If you took a flight in the 1950s...  Turbulence could snap your neck.

Early commercial planes were powered with pistons, not jet engines. As a result, they were loud, vibrated fiercely, bumped like crazy in turbulence and were grounded often due to weather (things got smoother after the first commercial jet debuted in 1952). In the 50s, pressurized airplane cabins were relatively new to the scene. And a non-stop flight? Not likely -- getting across the country could require multiple layovers.

You had insane amounts of legroom.  
Coach seats had three to six inches more legroom than they do today -- 1950s economy class looked more like business class does now. And first class was clearly about as spacious as a modern hotel room.

Your flight attendant wore a girdle and had a weight limit.

Flying was an over-the-top luxury experience, and leggy, chatty "hostesses" were part of the show. Some airline's required hostesses wear high heels at all times -- only after takeoff could she switch to flatter shoes. Hair had to be short enough so as not to touch her collar. A flight attendant manual mandated that stewardesses be single, stay under 125 pounds, and maintain "high moral standards" during employment.

You paid up to five percent of your salary for a ticket.

In the 50s, a flight from Chicago to Phoenix cost $138 round-trip -- that's $1,168 when adjusted for today's inflation. A one-way to Rome would set you back more than $3,000 in today's dollars.

Lobster counted as airplane food.

These were coach meals.
With commercial plane travel a new market, airlines struggled to one-up each other by offering the fanciest meals. One vintage ad lists TWA's "full meal" to be served in-flight: soup, meat, salad, vegetables and dessert. Real glassware and roast beef were typical sights.

Smoking was totally acceptable... and for much longer than you'd think.  (this is the one thing I wouldn't like).

During the 1950s, smoking (of cigarettes, pipes and cigars) was totally acceptable in the air, but strangely not in the terminal (they were afraid cigarettes might ignite the fuel fumes). "Confusion and resentment" ran rampant when a law prohibited smoking on short domestic flights decades later, in 1988. It wasn't until 2000 that a law mandated all flights to and from the U.S. be smoke-free.

You were handed a postcard as you boarded.

Flying was so utterly rare that passengers felt compelled to document every moment on postcards with pictures of the plane or in-flight meal, to show their less lucky loved ones what the newfangled experience was like.

"The tradition at the time was that you would use your in-flight time to write people you knew on the ground, describing your flight," historian Guillaume de Syon explained.

You drank (LOTS) for free.  (We did this in the 60's and 70's, too.)

Alcohol was another popular form of in-flight entertainment: passengers were served as much free alcohol as they could drink, and it was not uncommon to come off a flight totally hammered.

Of course, the free boozing tapered off as air travel became less of a luxury industry and more of a commercial one. But in those early Golden Days, people just poured themselves scotch after scotch.

You didn't show ID.

Even as late as 1970, passengers made it onto planes without ID of any sort -- a quick look-over from security did the trick. Showing up at the airport 30 minutes before your flight was totally fine, and well-wishers could walk right up to your gate where you boarded via stairs, not jet bridge. Passenger screenings wouldn't become mandatory until 1973.

Baggage claim was even more excruciating than it is now.

In the early 50s, you'd wait for a skycap to organize everyone's luggage on a counter. One by one, passengers pointed to their suitcases, paid him a tip and collected their bags. Thank heavens for the first conveyor belts!

A lot of this information came from Geoff Alcock's article - Flying Used to be Magical & Marvelous...  Okay, folks, Mr. Alcock may think flying in the fifties was fantastic, but I think flying in the sixties was really luxurious.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Guest Blog: Adrienne deWolfe: Fall in Love with the Wedding Prayer from SEDUCED BY AN ANGEL

When my characters fall in love, I fall in love. That’s the beauty of writing a Romance!

Usually in my novels, my characters get married off-scene. But I felt like I “owed” it to Sera in Seduced By An Angel (Book 3, Velvet Lies) to let my readers celebrate her marriage. After all, Sera waited for 13 years after the publication of His Wicked Dream for me to “get around” to finding her the right lover.

Or as Sera likes to describe the outlaw, Jesse Quaid: “A dashing stranger who is worthy to be kissed!”

The relationship of Sera and Jesse has to survive all kinds of trials, including a life-threatening flood, a treacherous love triangle, and a murderous bounty hunter. I didn’t actually set out to write a wedding ceremony into the book, but the idea started to grow on me-- especially after the outlaw, William “Cass” Cassidy (Jesse’s best friend, who tries to seduce Sera) leaves Kentucky for his own romantic adventure (which you’ll get to read in Devil in Texas.)

My inspiration for Sera and Jesse’s vow-sharing came from the traditional Cherokee Wedding Prayer. In the novel, Sera is a preacher’s daughter, and her true love, Jesse, is part Cherokee.

Needless to say, lots of complications revolved around such a union in Kentucky in 1882! Thanks to the closed minds of that era, I decided to make Sera and Jesse sneak off to get married, creating their own, private ceremony at Ywahoo Falls, in present-day Daniel Boone National Forest.

Ywahoo Falls is a sacred Cherokee burial ground, and Sera (who is clairvoyant) can see the ghosts of hundreds of Cherokee squaws and school children frolicking in the water. Other than Mother Earth and Father Sky – and my readers, of course! – no one else is invited to witness the wedding vows that Sera and Jesse share.

The Cherokees follow a matrilineal custom, which means that a groom leaves his Clan to marry into his wife’s. The mothers of the bride and groom are extremely important to the traditional ceremony. Since no humans were invited to Sera’s and Jesse’s ceremony, I had to get creative! I won’t be giving away any spoilers here, but let’s just say that Sera and Jess have a VERY interesting wedding processional!

I tried to make other parts of the Cherokee Wedding Ceremony authentic: Sera and Jesse burn 7 types of wood in their wedding bonfire to represent the seven Cherokee Clans; they each dress in Native American attire; they hand-make gifts to exchange with each other at the ceremony; and they hide themselves away in a special place, which Jesse adorns with furs and blankets for his bride’s romantic wedding feast.

I know it sounds sappy coming from the author, but . . . every time I read this scene, I get tears!

Sera’s and Jesse’s Native American ceremony celebrates love and life, and the interconnectedness of all living things. I want to thank Marianne for sharing the Wedding Prayer from Seduced By An Angel on the Romance Books '4' Us blog. May it inspire you to give and receive love today in new and profoundly beautiful ways!

Wedding Prayer
Seduced By An Angel (Book 3, Velvet Lies Series)

Great Spirit, hear our prayer.
Before Father Sky and Mother Earth,
And all the wonders of the world,
We offer our deepest gratitude for Your guidance,
For the day that You helped us find each other,
For the moment when You reunited our Spirits,
And for this sacred morning now,
When we pledge our lives in love.
We ask that Father Sky embrace us,
That we may always know His wisdom
as we walk the Good Red Road.
We ask that Mother Earth nurture us,
That our union may always know plentitude and peace.
We ask that Sacred Fire warm our hearts,
And keep our love-flame burning bright.
We ask that Sacred Water purify us,
That we may always honor each other’s Truth.
We ask that Sacred Wind breeze us through the storms,
Refreshed and renewed in the commitment to our love.
Great Spirit, we pray that we may live
In harmony with your creations:
With our Cousins who are Feathered, Furred, and Finned,
With the Stone People and the Green Brothers,
And with all the Powers, both seen and unseen,
That orchestrate this world.
Great Spirit, we ask for Your blessing,
That we may find happiness with each passing season;
That our love may deepen with each rising sun and star;
And that we may always know Your truest guidance
As we walk each day as husband and wife.
Great Spirit, before You
And all the majesty that You have created,
We seal these marriage vows.

Adrienne deWolfe is a #1 bestselling author of action-packed Historical Romance novels, where feisty Heroines buck the conventions and true Heroes must be wickedly funny. Currently, she is writing Devil in Texas, the first book in her new Romantic Suspense series, The Gunslinger and the Redheaded Sleuth. For sneak peeks of her sassy ladies and sizzling rogues, visit

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Purchase Adrienne deWolfe’s Books:
Velvet Lies Series
Wild Texas Nights Series
The Secrets to Getting Your Romance Novel Published (Series)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Finally Autumn by Janice Seagraves

September 23rd was the first day of fall. Yay!

Photo owned by Janice Seagraves and taken by her daughter

I’m so tired of the heat in Central California. Yesterday and today it has become cool, finally. In the seventies, but that’s down right chilly for us.

Last night, I actually shivered and today my knuckles are stinging a bit. Although the stinging has more to do with the clouds in the sky and first heavy dew than the coolness. For the first time in months, I feel moisture in the air. My eyes have been so dry, it’ll be nice not to have to put drops in.

Not a lot of fall color in California. We’re known more for our lovely spring display than anything else.

But, ah, autumn.

I have been so looking forward to this. The smell of fallen leaves, the cooler temperatures, finally being able to wear my long sleeve shirts and pants. I can take walks again without overheating. Make soup on a cold day, bake chicken, lasagna, enchilada pie, and cinnamon rolls and cinnamon toast. Using the burning pit in the front of my house and making s’mores.

Photo owned and taken by Janice Seagraves

I’m looking forward to the first rain of the season. Weather, how I love you. Come to me clouds, rain down on me. I dare ya.

What is your favorite thing about autumn?

SyFy Romance. Excerpt, Matrix Crystal Hunters - Just after a rain:
Walking over, she tried not to smile. He gave her a leg up into the saddle. Sitting on the big animal, she could feel every bruise and muscle strain from the day before.
Maya nodded, biting her lip. “I can feel my butt bones. They’re sore.”
“I can only promise you that it will get better with time.” He rechecked the straps for the stirrups, making sure they were the right length for her and set her feet in them. “All right. You’re all set.” He led Brawley over to the two snags. Untying their leads, he handed them to Maya, who ran the rope around the high saddle horn. “Here you go. Same as yesterday, allow me and Zareth take the lead, then follow us.”
He looked up at her, a slight frown troubling his handsome features. “I never asked, but what does okay mean? You seem to say it all the time.”
She tried to think of an equivalent in his language. “It means the same as all right or yes. Or you can use it to say everything is fine.”
“Oh, I see. Hmm, okay.” He grinned like a little boy.
She laughed. “There, you got it.”
“Okay.” He walked over to Zareth. “You okay, you big, nasty beast?” His mount snapped at him, but Vach jumped out of the way in time. “Guess not.”
He got on his sherakey, kicking him into a canter. When Vach got far enough ahead, Maya leaned forward in the saddle, the leather creaking loudly. Brawley took his cue to start trudging up the path after his master.
The trail seemed to go on forever. Puddles reflected the dark gray sky. The air had a fresh-scrubbed smell, which contrasted with the earthy scent of the damp ground.
Several hours later, Maya checked her watch. Twelve o’clock. Which could mean it was closer to ten, since the Zeeman day had twenty-two hours and her watch used Earth’s twenty-four hour cycle. A hooded Zeeman stood not far off, staring at her. She stared back, wondering if it was a herder. But where was his flock?
Several more Zeeman-shaped figures were standing in a group, not far away, but their cloaks didn’t appear to be being stirred by the fretful wind. Maybe they weren’t Zeemen at all. Statues of some sort?
Later, she spotted one ahead of her, near the road. As she rode closer, she saw that it was a stone pillar of some kind. Zeeman-shaped, but much larger, maybe ten to twelve feet in height. She looked it up and down, trying to find carvings or letterings, but there were none.
She turned over the possibilities in her mind, finally coming to the conclusion that these must be the roots of long dead trees and bushes encased in limestone jackets. A few miles down the road, more of these pillars filled the landscape. The standing stones seemed to be watching her, from out on the flat plane. A shiver went down Maya’s back. Creepy.
Vach waited for her at the next rest stop. His nasty sherakey had been tied up at the far side, with a bush to chew on. Brawley made his way into the clearing, and Vach held his arms up, so he could help Maya dismount. She pulled a leg over the huge saddle horn and slid off into his arms.

Vach caught her, laughing. “Got you.”
US, Kindle:
UK, Kindle: http:1380662336//
US, Trade paperback:
UK, Trade paperback:


Matrix Crystal Hunters is now on Smashwords:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Halloween - Bringing my Muse to Life

I LOVE the time around Halloween. The world around me is growing crisper and more colorful, the sweet smell of cut grass is augmented by the spicy scent of burning leaves, and magic thrums on the air as the days grow cooler and night birds dip and swirl in a last ditch effort to feed before settling down for a long Winter.

During this time of year my muse often gets inspired to write sexy, dark paranormal fiction. It happened to me again this year. I really wanted to write a vampire story to release this Halloween season but I wanted to do something different. Something I don't think anybody else has done. At least not that I'm aware of. So I created my Sangui, royal vampires from a distant planet who are forced to escape to Earth when their planet is destroyed by a plague. I'm so excited to be able to share this fun, new take on the vampire romance.

Here's a little taste of my soon to be released novella, Sangui: Alphas of the Blood:

He’s an elite vampire from a distant planet…an Alpha of the Blood. But he’s no match for one spunky and opinionated Earth woman!

The Alphas of the Blood are an elite, alien race of vampires. They escaped a devastated planet that was overrun with plague-infected beasts and came to Earth for a chance at a new life…a new beginning. The change is bitter-sweet for Zeenon Akba, who lost much of his family in the plague wars and fears his only brother might have carried the infection to Earth with him. But when Zee stumbles upon a pretty human female being stalked by an infected, he’s determined to help her, even if it means killing his own brother. Aware of their many differences and his need to find a blood slave for his mate, Zee doesn’t intend to lose his heart to pretty and spunky Brooke Carlin. So why can’t he get her out of his mind?


“Are you her husband?”

Zee stared at the woman dressed in loose, brightly colored garb that was covered in small cur and other furry creatures, unsure how to respond. He thought a husband was like a mate, only less permanent. “I haven’t determined that yet.” He went on quickly when the woman frowned. “I am considering it, but she has not indicated a preference.”

Far from clearing things up, Zee realized he was making it worse when the woman’s scowl deepened. Though he didn’t know the correct response, he had to assume there was a reason she was asking. He figured it was important, somehow, that he be a husband.

He sighed. “I am her mate…erm…husband, yes.”

The woman’s frown wobbled and then cleared. “I’ll need her full name, date of birth, residence, and a health history." She handed him several sheets of paper clipped to a board. “Do you have insurance?”

Zee frowned. He barely knew the luscious human’s name and that was only because she’d managed to murmur it to one of the med techs as she was wheeled away. “Insurance?”

The woman lifted a thin, blonde eyebrow. “No insurance?” She expelled a breath as though Zee had somehow let her down and shoved a different board with different paper toward him. “Okay, just sign right here.”

She was very judgmental for a woman covered in mongrel cur.

Zee took the slim writing object and scrawled his customary Z on the page where she’d indicated. Unfortunately it was in Sanguinese and probably looked a lot like the gibberish on the walls in the warehouse district looked to Zee. To distract the intrusive female he asked, “I’d like to see her.”

The woman gave him a smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “As soon as you give me the information I need you can see her.”

Zee nodded and reached out, placing his fingers over the spot between her neck and shoulders and pinching. The woman’s eyes rolled up in her head and she slumped over in her chair. Zee caught her head before it slammed into the countertop, lowering it gently. “I apologize.”

He turned away, smiling at the woman and small child approaching the counter. “She is very tired, it appears.”

The young mother glanced at the slumped figure and frowned. Zee strolled toward the double, swinging doors through which the lovely Brooke had been wheeled. He would find her himself. Her delightful scent was etched forever in his memory.

Alongside the intoxicating taste of her lips.

Book Page:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Guest Blog: Em Petrova: Inside The Boot Knockers Ranch

I’m a reality show junkie. If it’s on, chances are I’ll tune in at least once. Ink Master, Project Runway, American Idol. And The Voice.

The Voice is one of my favorite shows and it isn’t because of the talent. Nope, I watch for the judges. Adam, Blake and Usher Mmm Mmm Mmm. Anyone agree with me?

Watching them push their buttons to fight over a singer, arguing to get that artist on their team…it ignited an idea for me. The Boot Knockers Ranch series was born.

These cowboys are authentic. They know how to handle animals and work hard to keep the ranch beautiful and running smoothly. The upside of so much hard work is chiseled, tanned bodies. The Boot Knockers need these bodies to woo the ladies, because they’re also sex therapists.

Women come from all over the country and pay a fee to stay a week on the ranch. They can enjoy massage, hot tubs, and two swimming pools. But they’d probably rather partake of the semi-naked corn-hole tournament, the weekly BDSM munch or rip through mud holes on the back of an ATV while clinging to a mostly naked cowboy. And don’t forget the final rodeo every week.

There’s an epidemic going on at the BKR though Cowboys are falling victim to lady guests and even each other. Excerpt of BODY LANGUAGE, now available from Samhain:

The Boot Knockers Ranch, Book 2
If there’s one thing that Damian Vince can do well, it’s read women. With his trademark wink and sexy drawl, he’s the most wanted cowboy on the Boot Knockers Ranch, a spa where sexually challenged women come to get charmed out of their uptight panties.

He’s also the ranch’s bad boy—he hates to admit he’s had his mug-shot taken more than once. But now he’s on the right path, ranching and fulfilling women’s desires.

Prim grade-school teacher Ruthie Johansson prays Damian will be able to fix her strict upbringing that’s left her leery of men and intercourse, though her body aches for both. Once she sets eyes on the muscular, auburn-haired Damian, she throbs only for him.

As they get skin to skin, her instinct touches something Damian’s been struggling to hide from his fellow Boot Knockers. A secret he’s spent a lifetime keeping buried beneath bar brawls and a bad attitude. But with Ruthie’s gentle coaxing, he just might give overcoming it another try—as long as they do their homework in bed.

Warning: Contains a bad boy with a vulnerable underside, a squeaky clean woman who wants to get dirty, and a secret shame only love and compassion can heal. Prepare to drool while he parses her sentences…one sexy verb at a time.


BUY PUSHIN' BUTTONS book 1 of The Boot Knockers Ranch

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Em Petrova
~hardworking heroes—in bed and out~
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