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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Using My Notebook by Michele Zurlo



For the last month, I’ve been writing in a notebook. In the past, I’ve almost always defaulted to writing directly on my laptop. [Funny sidestory: I started writing because I won a laptop in a contest and it didn’t come with games. We didn’t have the internet at home in 2007 because I’m resistant to change, and so I started writing novels.]

My muse was flowing, but I my words rang hollow. I didn’t feel connected to my characters—characters I loved enough to launch a new series featuring them. One of my writer friends responded to a desperate FB post by recommending that I use a notebook. I’ve always had a writer’s notebook, but I used it for brainstorming, research, character descriptions, and plot notes. Once in a while, I would write out a page or two, but this was a sporadic effort, mostly due to lack of access to my laptop.

It’s well known to people who read research on the teaching of writing that our brains
function differently when we write on a computer versus a piece of paper. As one of those people, I shoved that knowledge to the back of my mind because it’s convenient to compose on a laptop. After all, I’m going to have to type it eventually, right? Why not skip right to that part?

I’ve realized a couple things this past month:
1.   Writing in a notebook is slower.
2.   Writing in a notebook is better.

I can type as fast as I think, but my writing is a tad bit slower—if I want to be able to read what I’ve written later. My handwriting gets worse the quicker I go. Being forced to slow down gives me time to really think about what I’m writing. It allows me time to connect with my characters and the words that create their story. The quality of my writing improves because I have more time to consider details, word choice, and phrasing. Each time I write, I go back a few paragraphs and make revisions. It’s somehow easier to find where I need a word or phrase to clarify and where I need to expand or deepen the level of detail.

Another thing writing in a notebook does is gets me through writer’s block. It takes me away from the distractions of the internet—the place where I look up an image of Mt. Rainier and find myself LOL-ing to the antics of a friend’s child on FB or getting bent out of shape because of an article that came up in my Twitter feed.

Maybe it won’t help me put out books faster—I may have to dial back my goal of putting out 3 this year to 2—but I’m hoping they’ll provide a satisfying reading experience.

Thanks for reading. Love, Michele

Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy National Tortilla Chip Day



Today, February 24, is National Tortilla Chip Day, a day to celebrate the crunchy snack loved by millions across the nation. Who doesn’t love tortilla chips?

The tortilla chip is most commonly served with salsa, chile con queso, guacamole, cheese dips or other dips. In my novella, Bad Luck Partners, in the Season of Promises Holiday Boxed Set, my characters Laney and Chance share tortilla chips, salsa, guac, and wine during a life-changing New Year’s Eve. Trust me, we’d all like a New Year’s Eve like theirs. 



I thought I’d do a little research into the history of the beloved chips. Corn tortillas are made from corn, vegetable oil, salt, and water. They can be made with white, blue, or red corn.

Like most people, I always figured tortilla chips were Mexican. Not so. The chips, typically made from corn tortillas that have been cut into wedges and then fried, were first mass-produced in Los Angeles in the late 1940’s. The story is that the triangle-shaped chips were made by Rebecca Webb Carranza as a way to use the misshapen tortillas that were rejected from the automated tortilla manufacturing machine she and her husband used at their Los Angeles deli and tortilla factory. (Wikipedia)

Carranza realized that once the discarded tortillas were cut into triangle shapes and fried, they became a popular snack. She then sold them for a dime a bag at the El Zarape Tortilla Factory. (Wikipedia)

Tortilla chips are often complimentary appetizers in Tex-Mex and Mexican restaurants in the U.S. and elsewhere. Their popularity outside of California saw a steady rise in the late 1970s when they began to compete with corn chips, the dipping chip of choice during the first three quarters of the 20th century. I remember when Fritos corn chips were popular in the 1960’s. I’d never heard of tortilla chips let alone tortillas. The first time I tasted tortilla chips, they were so exotic, as was all Tex-Mex and Mexican food. Now I love the chips and I love Mexican food. I even make a Mexican meal once a week. The United States is one of the main markets for tortilla chips. (Wikipedia)

Another popular dish made with tortilla chips is nachos. The dish was first created around 1943 by Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya. Nachos are tortilla chips served with melted or shredded cheese and often additional toppings are added, such as meat, salsa, refried beans, tomatoes, diced onion, lettuce, olives, jalapenos, guacamole and sour cream. Yum! Love nachos! (Wikipedia)



HOW TO OBSERVE

Go and get your favorite dip and enjoy some tortilla chips.  Use #NationalTortillaChipDay to post on social media.

And you can buy Season of Promises Holiday Boxed Set and read about how tortilla chips brought Laney and Chance together.

Bad Luck Partners

In Sin City, a couple, unlucky in love, gamble on each other. Win or lose?

Holidays have never brought Las Vegas hotel concierge Laney Sikora anything but bad luck in the romance department. The worst was her fiancé dumping her on Valentine’s Day. Via text. She’s determined to spend New Year's Eve alone with no romantic entanglements. But when her hunky new neighbor locks himself out of his apartment, she can’t leave him standing in the hallway. What's a girl to do?

 Las Vegas is just a pit stop for Chicago native and radio personality Chance Carlisle while he waits for his agent to land him something bigger in L.A. But in the meantime, he keeps bumping into—literally—his adorable, but accident-prone, neighbor. Their private New Year’s Eve celebration leads to a plan: they’ll become the Bad Luck Partners, dating only on holidays and special events, avoiding holiday heartbreaks and matchmaking mamas.

But Fate might have something else in mind for the klutzy cutie and the hotshot talk show host. Can their temporary partnership become a forever deal?
 




Visit me at www.caramarsi.com to read about all my books.






Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Who wouldn't love a hot Delta Force soldier?

Well, maybe not Kari Malone, who ran away from his five years ago without even telling him her name? Now Fate has thrown them together again. Can they make it work this time, especially with a stalker haunting her every move?
Blurb:
Had he found her again only to lose her to a stalker?
Slade Donovan and Kari Malone shared one anonymous night of hot sex. Five years later unexpected circumstances throw them together again and what’s between them burns hotter than ever. But as a member of Delta Force, Slade is wary of relationships, drawn to Kari on the one hand and hesitant on
the other.
Kari has her own demons, the stalker she moved to escape who seems to track her everywhere. As the unknown stalker ramps up his game, it will take the Delta Force team to rescue her, and the danger to show them both that what they have is electric, erotic and real.
Excerpt:
Shit, Donovan. Get it together. You aren’t twenty-five years old anymore.
He’d been with a lot of women, probably more than he wanted to admit. He might have unleashed his sexual needs with them, but never his emotions. But this woman? Even after that one night together he knew she could undo him.
He realized he knew nothing about her beyond the fact that he was obsessed with getting her into bed. He’d never before been interested in anything else with the women he bedded. He didn’t care what movies they liked or what books they read or if they liked chocolate or vanilla ice cream. So why was he so fixated on learning everything he could about Kari? That smacked of something long-term. He didn’t even know if he could sustain that.
Sure, he’d had that tiny little twinge that he might have been missing out on something. But that’s all it was—a twinge. So where did he go from here with Kari? To settle down you had to be able to handle a committed relationship. For too many years that relationship for him had been with the Army and Delta Force. Was he too old to change?
One thing was very clear to him. When he looked at Kari, the memory of the dirt and grime and cold of Afghanistan, the hot, dry desert of Iraq, the tension of the missions, the long years of battles faded away completely as if a healing shower had washed over him. Could he take a chance on something here, something longer than these ten days?
He’d been so busy standing there having a conversation with himself he hadn’t paid all that much attention to what Kari was doing, but now it registered. The three locks on the front door: a key lock, a dead bolt and a chain. And next to it on the wall a small white object that looked like an entry point alarm with a small button she pinched. She moved around the apartment, doing something with the sliding glass door that led out to a small balcony. Then she disappeared into what he assumed was the bedroom area and was back in seconds.
What the hell?









Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Water of Love

By Sharon Hamilton

I'm writing a novella to be included in a duet called the Trident Legacy with sister author Kathryn Leveque. We both have characters who are the sons of Poseidon, immortal half-breeds from the union of their powerful but bad boy father and one of his many liaisons over the centuries. Both our characters are, of course, Navy SEALs, and they are nearly as old as the oceans themselves that spawned them.

This is my first venture into the paranormal SEAL genre, something I've longed to do, but until now, hadn't found the right vehicle. Kathryn and I have been brainstorming and bouncing things off each other. It has been a fun collaboration.

So as I was getting into the feel and texture of the story, I came up with an image I call "The Water Of Love." Of course, I recalled the Dire Straits song Water of Love. This haunting melody and the words that match are what I'm listening to nearly 24/7 as I write this beautiful story.


I plan on a big sex scene between the hero and his heroine, who is a mortal woman and may not survive the mating. And yes, it will be water born. As in any truly beautiful love scene, the exchange of hearts and passions can be dangerous, but it is forever altering and life-changing, leaving the couple transformed by their union. I love the idea that he is part God, but grounded by a mother long dead. His heroine becomes part of the missing piece in his life.

I found these images that I've printed and hang all around my computer to inspire me, along with the music. Here's a blurb and our gorgeous cover. What do you think? Do you want to read about an underwater mating scene, a Water of Love story where both parties are forever changed, through the power of their love?

Order The Trident Legacy
Blurb:

We are brothers, the Sons of Poseidon, though our mothers have gone many eons ago. Given special powers, we are required to protect humanity from the dark forces of the universe that coalesce and then plunge back into the inky pit of evil only to rise up again to be defeated. 

My task is to blend in as a normal, common man. But I am not a common man. I bear the mark, and I have worn it proudly, although sometimes I find that calling more difficult than others. However, I’ve never run away from it nor deny the obligation of my birthright.

Oceans and worlds are fully accessible to me. There is only one thing that I am denied: a true love partner. I’ve loved many times, but never for evermore, only for the here and now.

It would be a lonely journey, without mother or family of my own, were it not for my brothers. But the preservation of mankind is a worthy calling, and one I shall do until the end of time, or the end of my time.

I have chosen for these next few years to live as a Navy SEAL, an elite warrior with an elite team of brothers not unlike the Sons of Poseidon. 

This is my story.


Our new venture releases 3/28/17. Can't wait for you to read it. Don't you think love and water mix nicely? 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

I'm late posting today, but it happens to be my birthday and I've had a busy, happy day. No, I won't tell you how old I am. Google says 108, and you believe Google, don't you? I'm lucky to be surrounded by friends and my children and to have wonderful memories of my husband. I feel constantly surrounded by love.

Here's an excerpt from Guilty Secrets. Adam is the one with secrets, and although he has rescued Corry from a cruel father he doesn't quite let down his guard. Corry knows their marriage cannot mean what she wants, unless Adam confides in her.

Here's a love scene between two people who still have to learn to trust each other and their love.


"He slipped into bed beside her, and taking one of her hands, placed it on his arousal and held it there.
“No matter how much I want you, I’ll not rush you tonight. I want you to get acquainted with how my body feels and differs from yours.”
He knew instantly he’d picked the right tactic for a girl of Corry’s intelligence and curiosity. She ran her hand over every bit of his thoroughly aroused member, while he clamped his lips together lest he groan and frighten her. It seemed so right to have her hands on him. He felt as if all his life he’d been waiting for this girl and her innocent exploration that was just the beginning of where he vowed to take her. Her touch was light, thanks be to God, or he’d have jerked her hand away and rolled her under him. Then she moved to his lower stomach, felt the hard flatness there, and traveled upward. When she reached his chest, she danced her fingers through the pelt of hair on his chest, lingering on his skin once or twice. When she began to explore his nipples, he knew he could stand no more.
“Enough, sweetheart, let me love you for a while.”
He flipped her on her back and rising over her, began his own explorations. Concentrating on what would give her the most pleasure, he caressed her breasts and kissed them at the same time. Her nipples peaked, and when he moved to them, kissing and sucking on them, he heard with welcome her small gasps of pleasure. If he could only stay the course, he was sure he’d reach his goal.
If, if, if...He wasn’t entirely sure he could go as slowly as he should.
Gradually, he moved his lips down her body, kissing her stomach and finally the thick curls between her legs. She put out a hand as if to stop him when he concentrated on that precious vee, but he gently put her hand aside. Feeling the moisture already gathered, he heaved his body upward and placed his engorged member at her entrance. This time there was no hesitation on her part, and he triumphantly inched into her welcoming warmth.
The whirlpool he’d been staving off caught him, and he began to move within her. At first she seemed hesitant. Then she caught the rhythm and moved with him, answering his thrusts with some of her own. With a deep sigh of satisfaction, he knew she would soon begin to feel the rapture he already felt. The power of their lovemaking was more turbulent that he’d expected, and it quickly pulled them both down. He put his hand between them to caress her and increase her pleasure, and it was not long until she gave a little cry and dissolved in a limp heap in his arms. With deep gratitude, he let himself climax.
He held her tightly until she stopped shuddering.
“Did you like that, my lady?” he could not resist murmuring as he kissed her hair.
“You know I did,” she sighed. “That was absolutely astonishing.”
“It was indeed,” he said, softly and solemnly."

Guilty Secrets is in print now, and be purchased at all the usual places. Amazon, Kobo, MuseItUp, etc.  Until next month, when I'll try to post a little sooner.....Jean


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cheap and #FreeBooks from Suz deMello

It's no mystery that writers, especially indie writers, are constantly creating new ways to find readers and convert them into fans of their books. One favorite way is to discount books for a short period of time, or maybe even offer a story or two or three for free.

This tactic works especially well with books or stories that are the first in a series. 

Viking in Tartan is the first in my six story Highland Vampires series. Three are short stories and three are full-length novels. Best if they're read in order, but each is a fine standalone.


Here's what the series is about:

Rumors have followed the chieftains of Clan Kilburn for centuries. Said to be descended from the Viking Berserkers, they were ferocious in battle, known for tearing off the heads of their enemies and drinking their blood.

The gossip is frightening, but the reality is even darker.

From the elegant mansions of Mayfair to the mist-shrouded Highlands, the Kilburn vampires hunt, swive and kill. None are immune to their dangerous allure.


Who are the women who would dare to love them?

About Viking in Tartan:

Medieval romance from the Highland Vampires series.

Scotland, Yule Eve, 1260. A Viking raider with mysterious powers brings change to little Clan Kilbirnie, especially to the chieftain’s daughter Rhona.

Find it here: 



I also offer two more short stories as freebies. 

Here they are:


Agent Kathie Belmont has long lusted after her boss, Ross Guerrero, but has never even flirted with him. Could he be the strong but tender Master she craves?

Ross wants Kathie in his life—on her knees. But the constraints of their jobs with an ultra-secret US security agency have come between them. Will their undercover roles as a sex slave and her Master bring them together...forever?

Get it here for free: 

This next story is a complete departure. It's the first story I wrote and my first (and only, alas) #1 bestseller on Amazon. When it came out, it was #1 in free parody and satire  :)




Here's what it's about:

Suz deMello flips the traditional Regency romance upside down and sideways in this gentle satire in which Marlene, the Earl of Maybegood, roughly woos gentleboy Georgie Longjohn on the eve of his first Season.

Find it here for free:

Hope you enjoy these stories and that you become a fan of my work!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day Quiz - Can You Answer These? by Marianne Stephens






In honor of Valentine's Day...a day of love and romance...here's a quiz for you! See how many you can answer! Answers are at bottom! HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
1. Who sent the oldest known Valentine around 1415?
Nicholas, Czar of Russia
Charles, Duke of Orleans
Napoleon, Emperor of France
2. St. Valentine is indeed the patron saint of love, but he has many other duties. He is also the patron saint of:
Actors
Bee keepers
Orphans
Vinegar makers
3. Who sold the first mass-produced valentines in the US?
Esther Howland
Julia Chauncy
Mary Joy



4. Before it became fashionable to give chocolates and flowers, what was the traditional gift given by a man to a woman on St. Valentine's Day?
A pair of gloves
A piece of jewelry
A hair ribbon
5. How many Valentines Day cards are sold each year?
50 million
500 million
1 billion
6. Which shape have Necco Sweetheart Conversation Hearts never been made in?
Horseshoe
Baseball
Star
Postcard
 7. Who is Cupid?
In Roman mythology, he is the son of Venus
In Greek mythology, he is the child of love
In Norse mythology, he is a winged child of Zeus
In Roman mythology, he is the king of other gods and goddesses




8. Where is Valentines Day not celebrated?
France
United Kingdom
Sweden
United States

9. When were the first commercial Valentines Day cards sold?
1545
1710
1840
1920

10. Who created the first box of Valentines Day candy?
Richard Cadbury, 1868
George Hershey, 1910
Martha and Melvin Mars, 1945
Phil Snickers, 1880

 
Quiz answers:
1. Charles
2. Bee keeper
3. Esther Howland
4. Gloves
5. 1 billion
6. Star
7. Roman Mythology, son of Venus
8. Sweden
9. 1840
10. Richard Cadbury

http://naughtyliterati.com

Photos: Flickr: Suchitra prints1, David Prior, toephotos, and mamjodh's photostreams.

Monday, February 13, 2017

You've Got to be Carefully Taught

Here's a flashback post from 5 years ago that seemed--particularly relevant today:

You’ve got to be taught
Before it’s too late,
Before you are six,
Or seven or eight,
To hate all the people
Your relatives hate.
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

From South Pacific. Possibly the single finest piece of wisdom to ever come from a Broadway musical.  Don’t know why I’m in such a snit today about prejudice, but there you go.  Oh wait. Might have something to do with the political brouhaha currently happening here in the US. (NOTE: This bit wasn't added recently and is part of the 2012 original essay) Blech. Politics. Full of things I get cranky about. Lying, self-aggrandizing demagogues, and money. All of my favorites. Frankly I don’t think any of ‘em are people I’d want to live next door to.  But if one moved in, I’d make the time to find out before I built the ten-foot fence. That’s the whole point of  being a rational adult.  Learning the facts before you make up your mind.  Not suiting up in bullet-proof vests and trying to shoot a person just because he’s running for office and you don’t like the color of his skin.

Of course, the political arena isn’t the only one where racial prejudice comes into play. Sad to say it’s alive and well, along with sexism, religious intolerance, homophobia, and other such bullshit.  I come from a very blue-collar suburban Detroit background. I’ve seen first hand prejudice going both ways. I remember, though just barely, the 1967 race riots. I remember my brother being shot at in the 70’s for being a non-union trucker.  I’ve been the first female in a particular job. I’ve faced enormous amounts of prejudice as a short, plus-sized woman. And just to make it fun, I live in a town where the KKK is alive and well, and the Michigan Militia (another group of supremacist nutjobs) keep all the bigots very well armed. Anyway you look at it, it’s all just stupid.

As a parent, I've to get these messages through to my (now-grown) kids.  Mostly, I think they get it.  My youngest did ask permission to miss a class once to attend the GLBT tolerance rally at his school.  And I let him. Just because I happen to live a very traditional lifestyle doesn’t mean I think everyone should. Everyone should live the life that fucking works for them. As long as it’s not directly harmful to others. Shooting people is harmful. Having a relationship with another consenting adult, or even multiple consenting adults is not. Neither is choosing to live alone.  And neither is practicing a religion—for the most part. Pray, chant, meditate, or contemplate your navel and it’s all fine with me. I draw the line when religion crosses over into abuse, as sevaeral of them sometimes do. Then I believe in freedom FROM religion as well.

As a writer this comes into play because I try to make my work reflect a variety of people and situations. Though most (yep—most, not all) of my stories are about monogamous heterosexual couples, their worlds are filled with folks of all shapes, colors, and persuasions. This is true even in my steampunk. Despite the fact that homosexuality was illegal in England in the 1850s, that doesn’t mean gay people didn’t exist. Therefore, there are some in the Gaslight Chronicles, loved and protected by their families or not. There are people of different races and religions, and yes, I’ve gotten flak because the women don’t always act like proper Victorian ladies should. Oh well, that’s the PUNK in steampunk.

People are people. In any group, you have the good, the bad, the clever and the ignorant.  I find it very odd that in a paranormal romance, where nobody thinks twice about whether a vampire and a werewolf can find love, they have to argue about the melanin content of someone’s skin, or what entity their parents prayed to.  Fortunately, my publishers don’t, and I think most of my readers are savvy enough to get past it as well. So I’ll continue on my merry way, coming up with new and different characters as I go.  And in real life, I’ll continue to encourage everyone I know to look at people as people, instead of seeing just the labels.


After all, you’ve got to be carefully taught.

***
Cindy Spencer Pape firmly believes in happily-ever-after. Multiple award-winning author of the best-selling Gaslight Chronicles, she has released almost sixty novels and stories, which blend fantasy, adventure, science fiction, suspense, history and romance.

Cindy lives in southeast Michigan with her family and three spoiled dogs. When not hard at work writing she can be found restoring her 1870 house, dressing up for steampunk parties and Renaissance fairs, or with her nose buried in a book.

Newsletter group: http://yhoo.it/ni7PHo  

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Some of the Best Romantic Novels and Movies of All Time




 Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and many people are wondering what to give their lover or romantic partner as a gift. 

Some gifts will be flamboyant and expensive, like jewelry, exotic cars and exclusive getaways. 

For most of us, a romantic evening at home with a special meal, including aphrodisiacs like oysters, some fine wine, and a classic romance movie to watch is more likely to happen. And, it can be sexy and memorable. 

To help you get in the mood, check out one of these classic romantic reads, then see if a movie on the second list appeals to you to share with your love.

There are tons of lists online, so I’ve gone with two pretty reputable lists. 

Readers Digest for the best books, and Vanity Fair for the best movies.


 According to Readers Digest, these are the 10 best romance novels of all time:

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough 1977

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte / Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte 1847

The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje 1992

True Believers by Nicholas Sparks 2005

The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles 1969

Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts 2002

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro 1989

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 1877

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon 1991

Follow the Stars Home by Luanne Rice 2000 

 
 According to Vanity Fair, 25 of the best love story movies of all time are below:

The Age of Innocence 1995

The Americanization of Emily 1964

Before Sunrise / Before Sunset / Before Midnight   1995 / 2004 / 2013

Brief Encounter 1945

Brokeback Mountain 2005

Carmen Jones 1954

Casablanca 1942

The English Patient 1996

Ghost 1990

Holiday 1938

I Know Where I’m Going! 1945

It Happened One Night 1934

Love Affair 1939

An Affair to Remember 1957

Love Story 1970

Notorious 1946

Now, Voyager 1942

An Officer and a Gentleman 1982

The Remains of the Day 1993

Roman Holiday 1953

Say Anything… 1989

Sense and Sensibility 1995

The Shop Around The Corner 1940

The Way We Were 1973

Working Girl 1988

What is your favorite romantic read and movie? 

The world needs love. Valentine’s Day reminds us to love one another.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all authors and readers!


GEMMA JULIANA


An eternal matchmaker, Gemma gets great joy from creating love stories where two hearts end up beating as one. She has traveled the world and enjoys adding the extra spice of international settings to her stories, which are set in many genres.
  
Gemma lives with her true love in a cozy Texas cottage along with their teen son and a crafty dog who rules them all. Her muse is nourished with the finest creativity fuels – chocolate and coffee. 

Gemma loves to hear from readers! Connect with her at:
www.gemmajuliana.com
https://twitter.com/gemma_juliana

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