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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Life of A Multitasker!


I forgot how hectic working outside of the house is. I mean as a single parent, multitasking came easy. Book keeper, laundress, therapist, nurse, nurturer, housekeeper, conflict-solver, and so much more. But add on Being all of those, a fiance, outside of the house worker and an author and Whoooooo. I'm a friggin basket case!

I love the insanity, and thrive well in the Chaos. Even if I'm a tad bit late. I have an entire new list of characteristics to use with main ones for both heroes and heroines!

I have a new process.

At work I.....

Check and file email into folders.

I answer what I can and toss the rest.

I write for 45 mintues at lunch and email my editors with questions I have.

When I get home :P

I make dinner and spend time with the family and when their bed time hits, I gather what I want to write before bed or in the morning at work.

On the weekends. I have one day to just write and the other day for the kids and housecleaning!

The kids take turns making dinner so that I can have some extra time.

The best part is. More money means more vaction and author conventions!

How do you juggle it all? I want to know!

Have a great one!

~Hales
www.mahalialevey.com
www.mahalia2010.wordpress.com
www.twitter.com/hales3000

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Do You Use Pet Peeves In Your Stories?

Good Morning,

I have a pet peeve that just makes me crazy, and I'm definitely going to use it in a book sometime.  People have forgotten how to drive, or they just don't care if they follow the rules.

When turning left drivers turn wide and go into the far lane instead of the lane nearest them so the person turning right on the opposite side of the road has to wait for them.

The thing that annoys me most these days is when a driver doesn't use his/her blinker.  Or, they turn their signal on and it flashes once or twice before they cut in front of you.  Sometimes, I am beside them and can't see their signal until they speed up and get a couple of feet ahead of me.  It really irritates me if there wasn't anyone behind me and they could've stayed in the rear.  What's the big deal getting ahead of one car?

In some ways, I can understand road rage.  No one likes to get cut off or have someone barge in front of them especially when they have to stop to let them in.  It's time to have driver's education back in the schools.

What's your pet peeve and have you used it in a story?

Sandy AKA Sandra K. Marshall, Author of mystery romances

Her digital books, The Catalyst, Addiction and The Deceived can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, All Romance eBooks, Smashwords, Coffee Time Romance and many other places.

See you next month.
http://www.skaymarshall.com
http://www.sandramarshallblog.blogspot.com
http://www.eirelander-publishing.com

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview of Cover Model Charles Paz

I first had the pleasure of getting to know Charles Paz almost two years ago when I featured him as the Wake-Me-Up Wednesday spotlight at my blog, Past The Print. Charles was the first romance cover model that I interviewed and I will never forget how personable he was, or how gracious he'd been to answer all my questions.

Between coaching youth soccer and owing his own photography studio, Charles has taken time out of his busy schedule - again - to answer another round of interrogations and be with his romance fans.


So, please make welcome...the endearing, the talented, and the oh-so-sexy Charles Paz.



Q. How did you first get into modeling?
A. I’ve always been overweight. I love food. What can I say? Lol. I decided I was tired of being the FAT GUY of the group so I decided to do a Body Building show. In 16 weeks I lost over 90lbs. strict diet and lots of cardio. Was it fun? NO WAY!! Hahaha. But I was happy with my looks and wanted more. Decided to get some pictures taken of me and all my hardwork. Next thing you know, one shoot led to another, which led to another, which led to oppurtunities. Guess I wasn’t the only one who liked what they saw.

Q. What do you like most about being a cover model?
A. THE ATTENTION!! Hahaha. No in all honestly, what I love most is the proof that I have achieved something not too many people can do. Being a ‘Cover Model’ is a testament to all my hard work and sacrifice that I have done to get to where I am today. Its always nice to look back and see the accomplishments I have in my life.

Q.What is the most difficult aspect of the modeling world for you?
A. Lol. The Modeling world. The ‘Industry’. When I say ‘Industry’, I also mean the world of Romance with their publishers, authors, etc etc. I honestly don’t focus on any of those things as much anymore. Ive grown to realize that either they want ya or they don’t. It seems like the Industry want to recycle the same looks for their covers over and over and over. Yes, Ive been on a few covers myself, but it gets very old and stale seeing the same face on EVERYTHING. Its even sadder when the cover model doesn’t represent the character for the author AT ALL! I think the hardest thing is the favoritisim. I could pull off many looks from a cowboy to a cave man, but its funny to see these people try to make a one dimensional model try to pull off something out of their league because they are selling ‘a name’. Im pretty sure though that next year, ill be ‘Changing the Game’ a lil bit.


Q. Tell us about The Fifth element and how it came to be.
A. The week before I went to Florida for the MR ROMANCE competition, I was actually flown out to VEGAS as part of a Meet/greet and studio shootout. Guest model of course. Lol. I met A LOT of AMAZING PEOPLE in Vegas. Doin shoots till 4 in the morning. Lol. It was great. Day of the studio shoot, the Man in charge of putting it together, Mike Lee, handed me a camera and said “Here, lets see what you can do.”

Now mind you, I've never held a DSLR before. Ive always been a disposable/ point and shoot kinda guy shooting family events and just friends. Never a model.

So, I pose the model and take a shot, look at it, adjust the light and settings and the model, take another shot and then showed him. He was so impressed that he had to show all the other photographers that was there.

If you look at the shots Ive done as a Model and the shots I have done as a photographer, you will see a similar style within everything. You see hints here and there. BUT, I must go on record and say that if it wasn’t for MIKE LEE, ‘Fifth Element’ would never have happened. And I will always be honored to call him my Friend.

As far as the name ‘Fifth Element’, well heres the story… My ‘Charles David Photography’ is what I use when I doing photography with families, kids, portraits. Ya know, the clean cookie cutter stuff. But I've read that some photographers go by an Alias, much like Authors do, to hide their identity. Plus, I cant really advertise a picture of a 99% naked model on the same page I have Family protraits on right? Lol.

I was thinkin of a name and that movie ‘The Fifth Element’ came on. In one scene, the guy was askin who she was and she points to herself and says ‘Fifth element… Supreme Being’. And that’s when it hit me. 5TH ELEMENT. A model/photographer hybrid, or what I like to call A MOTOG, is the perfect combo. Someone who knows what its like to be infront of the camera is perfect for giving direction behind the camera as well.

Q. What do you prefer… being behind the camera or in the cameras sights?
A. I honestly have not been a model for quite sometime. Ive been workin behind the camera for quite some time now. Ive shot the models but now focusing more on Body Builders and even couples. You can see the connection these couples have. Im very good at capturing the realness and simpleness of these shots. I don’t over photoshop, nor make people fake. I keep them real. Which is why I think people like my photography a lot. I don’t make fake people like most photographers do. I love being behind the camera and makin HAWTNESS, But don’t be surprised if you see a return of Mr.Romance in the future.

Q. With all the directions you’ve taken in your career, is there one job you’ve thought about trying but havent attempted?
A. Father. Ya, Ya ,Ya… I know. Corny, but it is somethin that has been on my mind as of late. Havin my mom pressure me to have grandbabies for her is pursuading as well. Lol.

I'm a Great uncle. I love ‘MY KIDS, and by that I mean all my Nieces and nephews, but everyone says I would make a Great Dad. Im not getting younger, and although I can probably be 67 and still be able to have a kid, id rather do it now and soon. God has a plan, so my future is in his hands.

Q. You’re a former “Mr.Romance 2009”. Tell us about your competition. What was the atmosphere among all the contestants?
A. Lol.Wow. You makin me think WAY back now. Wasn’t I just sayin Im getting old? Hahaha. None of us guys knew what we were getting ourselves into. We were all nervous. The guys were cool. Didn’t take us long to figure out what we had to do. Walk around. Look pretty. Mingle. It was pretty Awesome.

I was comin off a very hard time in my life so I just looked at it as a vacation while having fun with all these wonderfull people. I was being MYSELF. No sugar coating. No butt kissing. It was just me enjoying Life and living it to the fullest. And apparently, the readers and publishers saw something in me because I won not only the CoverModel Award but also the Peoples Choice. I can honestly say it was one of the best weeks I have ever had, and also something I needed in my life.

Q. You have a wonderfull and long resume of your fabulous career. What will be added to your next list of accomplishments?
A. I won the Novice Heavywieght class at the 2010 NPC SACRAMENTO BODYBUILDING Competition.That is one thing I am very proud of. I don’t think the ‘Industry’ knew about that, but just throwin it out there.

Something else they don’t know about, and that I have accomplished, is that I Coach Youth Soccer. U-8 girls to be exact. Our Fall team, CHARLIES ANGELS, just went UNDEFEATED! Im very proud of my Angels. I love having the chance to make a difference in the lives of our youth. I have been focusing on A LOT more than myself as of late. I didn’t do any shows or even any modeling in 2010. I focused all my time towards other projects and doing things that will make people better. Donating my time and volunteering as a coach is just an example of that. I also want to get back into modeling and possibly on some more book covers. My next show will be in March and Im hoping that I will be able to go to the next RT which is in Chicago. Show off my work as well as myself to publishers and get back into the industry.

And since it’s a romance blog, we have some more personal questions we’d like to ask you on the subject of romance... 


Q.When it comes to finding that special someone, What is the one thing you look for in a woman?
A. Lol. Good question. And to be honest, I don’t have the slightest idea at all. God is Great, Beer is good, and WOMEN ARE CRAZY. Hahaha. I think the best way to put it is that I would rather feel WANTED than NEEDED. They need to be secure with the fact that I want them and in return, need to reassure me that I am the one for them. Make time for me, because when I am with someone, my world revolves around them. I do believe though that they way a woman represents herself or displays herself is what makes them ugly. There’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Also, just being loud, rude and disrespectful in general shows how much a woman respects herself. I’ve been seeing it A LOT lately on facebook. Makes me shake my head sometimes. The quickest way to turn me or any guy off is to come off like that.

Q. What part of the female body grabs most of your attention?
A. The face of course. Eyes and lips to be exact. If the eyes are looking and the lips are smiling, then that says everything. Lol. I don’t discriminate body types either. Big, small, short, tall. All women are beautiful in their own way physically.

Q. What would you say to a woman if you wanted to let her know you were interested?
A. More Than Words….. If I have a connection with someone, ill know it between the conversation we have and how it is going. Im not blunt, but I will flirt a lil and if I’m feeling an attraction, than I don’t hold back. It may be bad, But I’m not afraid to lay all my cards out on the table and show my hand. I don’t play games, and If I want someone, I go for it. If a Female can’t get the hint at that point and keep up with the convo, then there would be nothing there. Just a physical attraction and Im beyond that by now. lol

Q. And since some of us just celebrated Thanksgiving, what holiday food Item do you enjoy the most?
A. LEFTOVERS!!! Hahaha. Who doesn’t like that right? Everything is good. You just can’t single out one item. Anything my Mom makes is my fave. The Macaroni salad. The Green Bean casserole. Biscuits. Do I just have to keep it with holiday foods? Lol.

As far as one item, I’d have to say Pumpkin Pie. Think about it. All the food you eat on Thanksgiving or even during the Holidays is food you can eat all the time. BUT, When Thanksgiving comes, Pumpkin Pie fills the shelves and they are delicious. I can eat a whole Costco sized pie by myself. I love food and I love life. What can I say?

Places to find Charles Paz:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Anna-Bella the Fickle-Muse by Janice Seagraves


Anna-Bella the Fickle-Muse
by Janice Seagraves


     There are muses that inspire music and there are muses for poetry and writing.
   
  And then there is my muse. *Sigh*

     Let me tell you about my muse. She used to get me in trouble at school. “Hey Janice,” she’d whisper during 3rd grade class. “You see those sparrows over there.”

     I’d look out the window at the sparrows chirping in the trees. “Yeah?”
     “What do you think it would be like to played tag with them?” Suddenly I had wings to chase the birds around.

     “Janice,” the teacher yelled. “Are you daydreaming again?”

     “No,” I lied, ducking my head.

     I loved arts and crafts, it occupied a lot of my free time. I could easily envision how the finished project was going to look, but it surprised me when other people couldn’t do the same.

     When I was asked what’s going on in the picture? I told a story. I didn’t mean to, but the story was there in the drawing. I kind of wondered why no one else saw it but me. At age twenty I dabbled a bit with writing, but soon returned to my pen and ink drawings then later woodcrafts.

     It wasn’t till a little over ten years ago that I finally followed the calling of my muse and started to write seriously for publication.

     My muse finally told me her name, Anna-Bella. She’s about the size of a Barbie doll and wears very feminine clothes. She first showed up when I was the age to play with Barbie, which may account for her looking the way she does.

     Often she’s not there when I need her. Sometimes I’d get lucky and she’ll show up, give me part of the story as a dream or a movie like flash. Which could be a paragraph, or page, or if she’s feeling really generous a whole chapter.

     Anna-Bella would say, “Okay, got it?” Then my fickle muse would disappear for a while, and I’d have to figure out what happened next—on my own.

     The worst time is Christmas, she’d disappear completely. I’ll call and call, but I get nothing from her, not even a shred of an idea. Then she’ll show up drunk on eggnog. “Oh sorry.” She’d hick-up. “I was watching Christmas tree lights. They’re cool. You ought to watch them sometime.”

     “Yeah, I use to think they were cool too, when I was nine. What about this story we’re working on?” I’d thump a finger on the keyboard.

     “Tomorrow, I’m heading to bed.”

     Disheartened, I’d sigh and shake my head.

     Last Christmas I had enough. I had the second round of edits to do on Windswept Shores, which is my first book. I thought she’d be as excited, too. After all she had inspired me to write it.

     But she just yawned. “Yeah-yeah, I knew we’d get one sooner or later. Edits? Not my department sweetie.” She wondered off doing God knows what. Stare at Christmas lights again, I suppose.

     Then she came home drunk on eggnog, singing silly little Christmas tunes in a high squeaky voice.

     “Where the hell have you been?” I snarled at her. “We have edits to do, missy.” Looking her up and down, I yelled, “Just what are you wearing? What’s with the candy stripped dress and stockings, and red shoes with the curly toes?” I narrowed my eyes. “Did you mug an elf?”

     Then she pantomimed locking her lips and throwing away the key.

     “Okay, that’s it.” I tossed her sorry little butt in a birdcage then hung it by my desk. “Now help me out here.”

     Saying nothing, she stuck her legs through the bars to rock it like a swing, and then stuck her tongue at me.

     Grrr. Those were some very hard edits to get through too.

     It wasn’t until recently I finally let her out, but I made her promise not to run off again. She’s sitting on my shoulder right now, still wearing the elf costume and smelling like a stinky little bird.

     For a treat we went out to the mall. We took my daughter to Hot Topic and bought her a jacket. Then my daughter remembered she needed a dress for high school graduation, we found the best dress . . .

     Wait a minute . . . where did you get those elbow length, lace up gloves? I know I saw some at Hot Topic. You didn’t—?

     The little muse shop? But there’s no such thing. Anna-Bella what did you do!

     Anna-Bella smugly produced a frilly dress and changed right there in front of me. The material is roses with a black back ground, she also has black stocking and Mary-Jane’s to complete the outfit. She says, 

“I’m tired of the elf costume.” Anna-Bella kicks it off my desk.

     Well, no duh. You’ve been wearing it for months. Picking it up, I throw the smelly barbie doll sized clothes into the garbage.

     She made herself comfortable on my shoulder. “Tell the nice people about our book.”

     What? I have to go to work—now?

     She nods, and then pulls my ear.

     Ouch, what did I do to deserve a muse like you?

   Just in time for winter reading:


    From Pink Petal Books: Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves (and Anna-Bella).
http://pinkpetalbooks.com/Windswept-Shores-Janice-Seagraves.html
Windswept Shores by Janice Seagraves


Windswept Shores Blurb:

The sole survivor of a plane crash, Megan is alone on a deserted island in the Bahamas until she finds a nearly-drowned man washed up on shore. Another survivor, this time from a boat wreck. With only meager survival skills between them, will they survive and can they find love?
Excerpt Windswept Shores:
If she had to spend one more day on this godforsaken island, she'd go stark raving mad. The thought spurred Megan into rolling a large log with one foot then the other, until it was near the bonfire. "God, this thing is heavy." With a grunt, she lifted one end until it teetered upright then gave it a shove. It landed in the fire, embers swirling in the air.
Breathing hard, she flicked a glance at the teal-colored sea. She'd thought a vacation to the Bahamas would be the perfect getaway, would be a solution to the problems she and Jonathan had faced. She'd been wrong—dead wrong. Tears of grief filled her eyes. The never-ending crash of the waves on the beach and the cries of the seagulls seemed to mock her with the reminder she was utterly alone.
She'd felt like a tiny speck of sand last night when a violent storm had swept across the island. It had made a mess of her meager campsite, which had taken all morning to fix, and had demolished her seaweed SOS sign. She'll have to recreate her SOS. Sighing, Megan trudged toward a pile of kelp. As she got closer, she saw a figure wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt. Her stomach lurched.
      Oh, God, it’s another body washed up from the plane wreck. That would be number twelve. As always, she couldn't help but wonder if the next one would be Jonathan. He hadn’t been wearing jeans on the plane, so she knew she’d been spared seeing his corpse this time. Thank God. She approached the body with dread. Tightening her resolve, she knelt. Suddenly the "dead body" coughed and rolled over. With a scream, Megan jumped back. She clutched her chest and pressed a shaking hand to her mouth.
He’s alive!
       Biting her lip, she stared down at the still-breathing man. His drenched t-shirt molded against his broad shoulders and well developed upper body. Short, golden brown hair stuck out in all directions.
Megan, get control of yourself. Don’t wet your pants the first time you finally see a living person. She got on her knees, plucked the seaweed from him and wiped the sand from his face. His day-old whiskers scratched her palm. Reddened skin stretched across both cheekbones and over the bridge of his nose. Her thumb caressed his parched full bottom lip.
She patted the side of his face. “Hey, are you okay?” That’s a dumb question. He isn’t okay.
“Hmm?” Gray eyes fluttered open. He stared at her a long moment, frowning slightly. “G’day.”
“Hello there.” She hated the sound of her voice. It sounded rusty, unused.
Abruptly he rolled away from her to heave onto the sand, making a loud, ugly retching noise.
He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then looked at her. “Sorry, mate, I swallowed too much sea.” His gaze went over her shoulder in the direction of the bonfire which crackled and popped not far from them. “Mite big for a barbie.”
Sitting back on her heels with her hands folded in her lap, Megan followed his gaze, then back to him. “My signal fire.”
“Signal for what?”
“Help.”
His accent intrigued her. Was he English or Australian?
“G’darn,” he looked around, “where the bloody hell am I?”
“Don’t know. There’s no one here to ask.” Megan shrugged helplessly, but couldn’t contain her curiosity. “Are you from England?”
“Naw,” he rubbed his eyes, “I hail from Sydney, but my port of call these days is Fort Lauderdale.” He blinked up at her. “You?”
Ah, he’s an Aussie. “I’m Megan Lorry, from Anaheim, California,” she said, barely loud enough to be heard above the sounds of the surf and the roar from the fire. “Are you a survivor of Air Bahamas flight 227, too?”
“G’day, Megz,” he answered, struggling to sit-up. “Sorry, I’m not from your plane.”
Megan slipped an arm around him lifting his back off the sand. Turning his head to her hair, he took in a couple of short breaths. Megan pulled back staring at him. “What the—did you just sniff me?”
“Ya smell too good not to.” He grinned, causing his cheeks to dimple. “Name’s Seth Dawson.” Leaning back on one arm, he stretched out his hand to her. She clasped it as if it was just a friendly greeting between strangers back home. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Guest Blog: Laurie Ryan & Lavada Dee: Chores Can Be Romantic...Can't They?

Things have sure been hopping here at Romance Books R Us and I’d like to thank Marianne and the rest of the group for having me here.

One of my beta-readers made a comment that has me thinking about romantic gestures. She’d picked out a particular scene in my new story, Healing Love, that she called an “ahhhhh” moment. It made me go back and read that scene again. My heroine is upset---VERY upset. She runs out into the bitter cold with nothing but hospital scrubs on. Ducking into a library to warm up, she ends up spending hours there. As she prepares to return, the guy at the main desk hands her the hero’s coat. He’d tracked her down, deduced her need to be alone, but left his coat for her to use when she was ready.

That really is a romantic gesture, isn’t it? I didn’t originally think of it in that light. It’s different from when a couple first meets. At that point, when first getting to know each other, the acts that warm our hearts are phone calls, or a man opening a woman’s car door, or flowers.

The part we don’t generally get to address in romance novels is how these gestures morph over time. As a relationship progresses, the things we consider romantic aren’t as easy to decipher. My husband and I have been married for 22 years. Since a solid chunk of my time is now devoted to the business of writing, I’ve noticed he’s been picking up more and more of what have typically been “my” chores. He empties the dishwasher, takes care of the cat box, and a lot of other little things that free me up to write. That’s the most amazing kind of support and I think it’s a gesture of his love for me. I call these things romantic gestures and I appreciate him every single day for making them.

Do you think chores can be considered a romantic gesture? What kind of gestures do you like to write about…or see in your daily life? What’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever seen, either in a movie, a book, or real life? I’d love to hear your stories.

BIO:
Healing Love, due out December 1st, is part of a two-story holiday anthology Laurie us doing with author Lavada Dee. Both multi-published authors, Laurie Ryan and Lavada Dee lead parallel lives in the Pacific Northwest. They decided they must have been sisters in a prior life because there are too many similarities between them, from children named the same, to calling or emailing each other at the same time. Even these stories, written separately, ended up with the same primary theme—family.

Magic, The Gift of Love
A two-story anthology, including:

Priceless Love by Lavada Dee
“For Richer, For Poorer.”

Taylor Hamilton, dissatisfied with a life designed by her parents, attends a friend’s fall wedding and finds small town life agrees with her. The problem is, her wealth doesn’t agree with the man she falls for. Is their love strong enough to find a bridge of trust where money isn’t an issue?

Healing Love by Laurie Ryan
“In Sickness and in Health.”

Nicole Milbourne’s single-minded focus on a medical research career is thrown for a loop when charismatic Dr. Damien Reed shows her there’s more to life than studying diseases. Will an unexpected Christmas fill Nicole’s lonely heart and show her the healing power of love?

For more information and buy links:
http://lavadadee.com
http://www.laurieryanauthor.com/index.html

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another Thanksgiving Post




It’s my turn to blog on Thanksgiving Day. So, you all know today’s topic. But before I list the things I’m thankful for, I want all of you to take a deep breath. Today can be stressful, especially if you’re the one doing the cooking. Slow down, calm down and enjoy the day. Take a short walk to relax and clear your head. Things will work out. The food will be delicious, and hopefully the company more so. Determine to take all the good things this day offers and reject anything negative. Have fun.

Thanksgiving is the time when we as a nation stop and reflect on all we have, and I don’t mean material goods. If you’re like me, you spend more time whining about what you don’t have than what you do have. If you’re lucky, you’re not like me and you spend every day thanking God for the good things he’s given you. I do thank God every day, but it’s an effort. Whining comes more naturally to me. I’m determined to change my attitude.

Today especially, I will focus solely on thanks. Here’s my list:

My family’s good health, probably the most important thing any of us can have. My husband and son are the loves of my life, and I thank God every day for giving them to me. I may argue with my husband, I may worry about my son and wish he’d settle down and find a good woman. But through it all, we love each other and we’re there for each other.

I’m thankful for the roof over our heads and the food on our table. I pray for those fellow Americans who are suffering - those out of work, without enough food for their families, no shelter. Please keep them in your prayers today.

I’m thankful my grandparents (all four of them) left Italy to begin a new life in the United States early in the twentieth century. They left behind lives of hardship to give their descendants a chance at a better life. The Italy of today is far different from the Italy of my grandparents. My Italian relatives now live very much like we Americans. But the United States afforded me and my siblings and cousins opportunities we wouldn’t have had anywhere else. Thank you, Grandparents.

I’m thankful I get to do something I love – write romance stories. And I’m doubly thankful for those readers who buy my books. Thank you, readers.

What are you thankful for today?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Interview of Author Cat Shaffer

Today I'm pleased to present an interview of romance author Cat Shaffer.

Latest book: Bittersweet
Buy Link:  http://www.turquoisemorningpress.com

BIO:
Cat Shaffer is a native Buckeye who saw the light and moved to Kentucky over 20 years ago. Able to say “Louisville” like a native, she adores living in the land of beautiful horses and fast women...no, wait, it goes the other way around! Away from the keyboard, she's a mother and grandmother, a Red Cross volunteer, and leads her church choir. She lives with a big Sheltie and a gray tabby who keep her humble by reminding her of her place as their servant. She can be contacted at: catshaffer@windstream.net or P.O. Box 63, Greenup KY 41144.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: The first thing I did when I learned I’d sold a book was call my mother. I’m pretty sure she thought she’d never live to see the day, so she was very excited for me. Then I called my kids, who said all the appropriate things, and then it was off to my favorite coffee shop for a frothy, heavily-caffeinated beverage to celebrate!

Q: What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
A: The easiest part of any book for me is the relationship part – where we see the characters interacting with one another. Whether it’s the hero or heroine or, as in Bittersweet, the hero and his sister, I can “see” them with each other as I write. I think this may be because I’ve always been fascinated with people and conversations around me, and it’s fulfilling to make things happen in my books.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: The hardest part for me is the winding up the story. I can’t help it; I love the worlds I create and want to continue to inhabit them. Writing the ending is always hard for me, even though I know I’ll come to love the next story every bit as much.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: I must confess, one of my favorite characters in Bittersweet is the hero’s sister. Caroline is 16, teetering at the edge of womanhood, with a natural tendency to keep working at it until she finds a way to get what she wants. Hmmm…sounds like me at that age!

Q: Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
A: I’m lucky enough to have a room for my whole office and I tend to hole up in it with snacks and sweet tea to keep me going until the muse flees or some wonderful distracting show comes on TV. I keep a hidden stash of smoked almonds, snack bags of chips and the candy of the season (jelly beans at Easter, candy corn at Halloween, etc.) within easy reach. Meals and food are part of every book I’ve written; maybe that has something to do with my always reading as I eat.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: When I’m not writing, I’m very involved in my community as my church choir director and in organizations such as the Lions and Eastern Star. I’ve lived most of my life in small towns, where volunteering really does mean helping your neighbor. It’s very satisfying to know that I’m contributing in some small way to make someone else’s life better.


Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
http://www.catshaffer.com/
check out my books at http://www.turquoisemorningpress.com
My cat blogs about her life and being Cat Shaffer’s cat at tabbytalles.blogspot.com

BLURB:
Coulter Bancroft returns from battle seeking the peace of his family farm. Instead he finds chaos: his stepmother dead, his father dying and his fiancée married to another man. His pain reaches a new level when he learns his father’s will demands a legitimate heir by Coulter’s 30th birthday to keep his inheritance—and guardianship of his teenage half-sister.

Amelia Strong has her own secrets to keep. When Coulter takes her in after she collapses in front of his horse, bruised, sick and frail, Amelia can’t imagine that within a few weeks, she’ll offer to marry him and give him that heir if he will divorce her and set her up to begin a new life after the child is born.

What neither of them realizes is that Amelia’s beloved, listed among the war’s casualties, is actually alive and going mad. When he spots Coulter and Amelia in Cincinnati on their honeymoon and begins to stalk the Bancroft family, the result is a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse game that can only end in death.

EXCERPT:
The fierce October wind slashed through the thin cotton of the woman’s dress as she stumbled across the rough ground, her swollen and bloody feet too numb to feel the cold mud between her toes. Each inhalation of the frosty air tore at her tortured lungs; each exhalation brought new pain from a broken rib.

It seemed hours since she’d jumped from the rattletrap wagon. Thousands of miles since she’d begun her run for freedom. She longed to rest for one tiny moment. Or risk looking back over her shoulder to see how many men followed. If any man followed. Yet she knew even a split-second’s hesitation could mean the difference between safety and capture.

She gasped as an errant root smashed against her ankle, sending her to her knees. With the last of her strength, she forced herself up and onward. She didn’t know where she was headed; she no longer cared. As she struggled toward the brightness that must surely signal a break in this endless forest, the gray clouds above her loosened and rain began to fall. In seconds the drizzle began to sheet, turning the leaf-covered ground beneath her into a morass of mud and dying vegetation.

She heard the thunder of hooves as she finally reached the light at the edge of the woods. Her soul cried out, for this surely was the angel of death stampeding toward her, swooping down to take her away. She fell to her knees in surrender, caring not whether she was transported to heaven or hell, only that she be freed from the torment awaiting her if she was captured.

***

The storm matched his mood. Coulter rode hard until he caught a movement at the edge of the woods. Cursing into the wind, he pulled hard on Midnight’s reins as a woman stumbled out in front of him, falling onto the muddy trail and into unconsciousness. “Whoa, Midnight! Stop, boy!”

Coulter fought to keep from trampling her, his heart in his throat as the big stallion reared up, halting inches from the silent heap collapsed in the middle of the road. Coulter swung down as the horse’s front hooves touched the ground, and ran to what looked like nothing more than a pile of old clothing. He knelt in the mud, oblivious to the cold rain pouring down his worn hat and across his shoulders. His breath caught at the sight of the young woman.

Damn, he could have killed her. Had Midnight been a few steps further along the dirt road, or his pace a little quicker, the horse would have smashed the life out of her. Coulter gathered the fragile body into his arms and set the woman on Midnight’s back. He swung up behind her, shook the reins and raced for home. He rode as if the devil pursued, holding his burden close with one arm. The woman stayed silent except for an occasional moan, her head lolling against his broad chest. Fear traveled alongside as an unseen companion; Coulter’s heart caught in his chest every time her shallow breathing slowed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Have you ever made a bargain?


The Bargain is one of the first books I wrote when I finally got my act together and started writing romance fiction. I love the story so much that I hated to reach the end. My older daughter was my beta reader and she called me when she finished and said, “Mom, I actually cried at the end. I love this.”
But my skills were still raw and unpolished and the book needed a lot of work. Over time, as other books sold and great editors worked with me I went back again and again to this book, wanting to make it the very best. It’s a timeless love story, not new but told with a new twist and I still love reading it myself.
Lately reviewers are finding it again and the reviews have been fantastic. Whipped Cream Reviews had this to say: This lovely and absorbing tale is both a vividly erotic steaming-hot read and a sentimental tear jerker. Ms. Holt writes sex scenes that scorch the ink off the pages.”
I hope if you haven’t read this book already you’ll find it at your favorite bookstore, online or bricks and mortar. It’s out in both print and ebook.
One lucky person today will win a copy of this book. Everyone else will be eligible to receive a set of my Romance Trading Cards. Be sure to leave a comment. And take time to read Tara and Cole’s story.
Tara McKee‘s life came to a crashing halt the night her husband was killed in a carjacking and she lost their unborn child. Now she channels all her energy into her job as assistant to Cole Cassidy, sexy CEO of Alamo Construction. Cole’s own life is a mess. A shotgun marriage based on a lie and the fiery death of his wife on the highway have left him with a child to raise that’s a constant reminder of his first wife’s lies and deceit. Both of them have written marriage out of their future.
But Cole desperately needs someone to mother the child and take charge of his personal life. When he proposes a marriage of convenience to Tara, who still yearns for motherhood, she shocks herself by accepting. And so these two people, carrying a van load of emotional baggage, begin to build a life together under almost impossible circumstances. Conflict builds over the child, whom Tara falls in love with at once and Cole ignores.
Beneath the daily conflict, love unexpectedly begins to grow. But at the moment they dare to explore their feelings, anger over the child erupts and the night turns into a disaster that nearly destroys the marriage. Slowly, bit by bit, they begin to re build their relationship, carefully nurturing these new feelings. But it takes another near-tragedy before they can finally get past the hurdles to complete happiness and truly become a family.
Excerpt:
 “Thank you.” She pushed away the remains of her coffee, suddenly losing her taste for the sweet drink and took a deep breath. “This is very nice, your compliments are wonderful, the dinner was great and I’m enjoying the evening. But I have no idea what’s on your mind. What’s going on here, Cole? What’s so important you had to ask me to dinner?”
Cole swallowed the last of his coffee and set his cup down with careful precision.
“You’re right. It’s time I got to it.”
Tara waited, forcing herself to sit quietly, even while her pulse began to accelerate. Something was definitely up, and something about Cole’s attitude unnerved her.
He cleared his throat again. “I know that you lost a child when your husband was killed, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am.”
How the hell did he know that? It was carefully guarded information. I wanted a child, but not Mike’s. Not something I can tell a stranger.
“What I wondered…that is, I wanted to know…” He shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “If the opportunity to have a child were presented to you, would you take it? Would it interest you?”
Tara stared at him. Now, she was really confused. What did this have to do with work?
She blinked. “Excuse me?”
The air between them was suddenly so thick a saw couldn’t have cut it.
Tara dropped her napkin on the table and pushed back her chair back. “I think I’d like to go home now.”
“Wait, please.” Cole reached across the table and placed his hand on her arm. “I’m doing this badly. Just hear me out, okay?”
She nodded but withdrew her arm, the heat of his hand searing her skin through the silk fabric of her blouse.
“You know I have a two-month-old infant,” he began. “I haven’t done very well with her since Maggie’s death. The circumstances are somewhat difficult.”
“Difficult?”
What could be so difficult about raising a child? she wondered. Not to mention the fact she had a hard time imagining this sexy as sin man with a child to begin with.
“My fault, nobody else’s,” he continued. “I can’t seem find a housekeeper, and my situation’s desperate.”
Tara frowned. “Did you want me to check out some agencies? Really, Cole, you didn’t have to take me to dinner to ask me that. I’d be happy to help.”
Cole shook his head. “No, that’s not it at all. I know people who’ve had really serious problems hiring through an agency. I don’t really trust strangers, and I don’t think I’d be comfortable having one live in my house. It hasn’t worked so far.”
“Cole, please. Enough. Just get to the point here.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t usually botch things this badly. Okay, here’s the deal.” He took a deep breath and exhaled. “Tara, I’m asking you to marry me.”
Tara stared at Cole, speechless. If he’d asked her to take off her clothes, she couldn’t have been more shocked. Of all the things she might have expected, this wasn’t even on the radar. Cold liquid dripping on her skirt startled her, and she realized she’d knocked over her water glass.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking Dawn: Part One

Yes, I am one of the Twilight fanatics who just HAD to see Breaking Dawn. For a year, I had been looking so forward to this movie and the night had finally arrived this past Saturday evening.

Accompanied by about fifteen other Edward/Jacob fans, we began our night eating at the Claddagh and having a few drinks before the start of the show. I, of course, had my usual Irish Coffee, while chatting it up with some of my best friends about what we were anticipating from the movie. Most of us were excited about the honeymoon scene, but were not quite sure if the director would follow the book or blaze their own trail.

To my delight, the movie showed more than what I expected. When it came to Bella and Edward's honeymoon rendezvous, the book never went into detail about the amazing first night together as husband and wife. Being a YA romance, I could certainly understand why, only allowing us - as readers - to get a glimpse of the aftermath the next morning with pillow feathers floating about, a chunk of the headboard bitten, and the room torn asunder. However, the movie didn't have as much discretion, allowing us to be present during that special intimate affair. I was tickled pink.

But one of my favorite moments (in both the book and the movie, since being a mother myself,) was when Edward could finally hear the thoughts of the baby, finding that connection he so direly needed. For most of the time (after he'd been shocked by the revelation of her unexpected pregnancy), he could only think of the baby as a demon, something evil that was killing his delicate human wife. He resented the baby for what it was doing to her, and couldn't see it the way Bella saw it - an innocent life and a miracle.

In one special scene, Edward stopped what he was doing and placed his hand upon his wife's rounded belly. You could feel the excitement as he listened and foretold of how happy the baby was and how the baby loved his parents' voices. At that endearing moment, when he bowed his head in utter joy and put his face to Bella's stomach, he became the protective father who accepted the child as part of his family and not something that would tear them apart.

My heart leapt for joy, even though I knew it was coming. I've always been on team Edward, swooning countless times over his beautiful smile. But the smile he gave, when he recognized his own child's thoughts, was better than all the smiles from the past put together.

So, what was your favorite parts of the movie and/or book? Did you like the cinematic version of the Ms. Meyer's work or were you disappointed with their efforts to represent Part I of the final chapter of the Twilight Saga?

Places to find Renee Vincent:



Sunday, November 20, 2011

Interview of Author Jaxx Steele

Today I'm happy to present an interview of romance author Jaxx Steele.

Latest Book: Freed from Fear
Buy Link: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=181&category_id=95&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1

BIO:
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but I escaped and I now live in Terre Haute, Indiana. My dream is to buy a house near the beach and write all day and make enough money to live off. I spend most of my time working a nine to five and traveling, when I can, to new and wondrous places that I can incorporate in my stories (or that will at least spark ideas for me). I do have love in my life thanks to my life partner, Hou, and our cat, Judo, who graciously lets us live with him in what he thinks is his house. So, all in all, I have a full and happy life.

Q: What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
A: LOL I had someone else read the email to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Q: What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
A: The hardest part was reliving the emotions I had during 911. The feelings associated with non-closure at the loss of a loved one is hard to live with. It’s a daily struggle.

Q: Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
A: Frank is. I modeled him after a friend of mine who is no longer with us.

Q: If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your hero? Tell us about your hero.
A: I think Healing the Beast Within would make a great movie. I would star Idris Elba as Keith Turner because I he is the same physical type.

Keith is cursed for a crime he didn’t commit and lives in basic relationship seclusion. He’s a great guy with all the modern day mental and physical benefits going for him, but he is afraid to reach out because he has this ‘nocturnal ailment’ if you will. With the success of Twilight and movies like that, Beast would look great on screen.

Q: Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
A: Absolutely not! When I put pen to paper (so to speak) I have a clear visual on what the main character looks like. I keep the visual constant as I write so I can ‘see’ mannerisms and facial quirks as I go.

Q: What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
A: Don’t laugh, but I watch musicals. You know stuff like Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Moulin Rough and even some Disney stuff. I love the over the top musical numbers. I would prefer live, but I can get into the DVD too.

Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all!
My publishers are:
Red Rose Publishing
Phaze
Muse it Hot
Silver Publishing
Dreamspinners Press
http://www.jaxxsteele.blogspot.com
http://www.jaxxsteele.com
Facebook fan page: Jaxxsteele
Twitter: Jaxxsteele

BLURB:
Leaving New York was the hardest thing Dana Scott had to do. Although 911 had taken the love of his life leaving him alone everything he had left was there. Time had eased the pain in his heart, but he had decided not to take another lover.
Francisco de la Fuenta was a charming, charismatic, social butterfly that men and women loved to be around. He had everything a man of his caliber could want, a great social life, his own business and true friends. What he didn't have, he didn't know he wanted until Dana Scott entered his life.

EXCERPT: WARNING - ADULT LANGUAGE
“Have you ordered yet?”

“Just coffee and a dessert.”

Frank waved a hand in the air to flag down a waitress. “I know we said we were coming for dinner, but I’ve been snacking all day going from meeting to meeting.

"I’m not really hungry, but if you want to order something we could—”

“No, no, this is fine. We don’t have to stay to eat. We’ll have dinner here another time. We can just go for a walk or something when we leave here if that’s okay.”

“Yeah, that’ll work. Do you always order dessert before dinner?”

Dana’s face was suddenly tinged with a soft red as he looked around conspiratorially. Cupping his face and leaned forward over the table and lowered his voice.

“I try to fit desserts in whenever I eat. It’s a weakness of mine.”

"Ahh."

Frank watched him sip the coffee again. His eyes intently followed the china cup as it rose to his mouth. His gaze was locked on Dana’s luscious pink lips. They pursed then gripped the side of the cup. His Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed. It was an involuntary and innocent action, but Frank found it surprisingly sexy. Dana placed the cup on the table and licked his lips. The move made Frank smile.

The waitress appeared at the table. She placed a chocolate éclair before Dana and took Frank’s drink order before leaving again. The pastry was pleasing to the eye. Light and flaky crust, swirls of chocolate from tip to tip, a spattering of chocolate shavings and light brown crème oozing from both openings.

Frank thought it looked eatable, but Dana’s reaction to the food was different. Undeniable excitement flickered in his eyes. Dana wasted no time in removing the fork from the delicate white saucer it rested upon and picking up the dessert with his hand. The moan that escaped him after his first bite sounded almost sexual. Frank’s eyes widened.

If eating makes that noise come from him I wonder what he sounds like when he’s about to come.

Frank continued to watch him eat. Dana’s eyes closed slowly as he licked the decadent crème from his upper lip. The sweet filling rose from top opening of the pastry when Dana applied pressure to its middle. His mouth opened wide to engulf the entire dessert to his finger tips dragging his lips slowly up the length to pinch off the flow of ooze at the end. Another deep moan escaped him when he swallowed flipping the éclair over. Next, Dana flicked his tongue out to lick away what came out of the bottom cavity. Before turning it upright again, Dana dug his tongue into the hole and sucked at it making sure no more would escape. Frank was enthralled. The sight made his dick throb with need. It was almost pornographic the way Dana nibbled and licked at the dessert.

Geez! I have to make it a point to have dessert and coffee with this man again. Fuck dinner!

Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to thank you guys for having me. I look forward to meeting new readers and friends as well as spread the word on gay erotic romance.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My Name Is Louisa Judy Lavyrle Nora Mary...

...and I'm an author.


*Apologies for posting this late; I had to be up early for a signing and literally forgot it was my day to post!  Enjoy:)

My all-time favorite author is Louisa May Alcott. My copy of Little Women has been read so many times, the cover is completely gone, and there is duct tape on the spine. I think the first illustration, copywrite page, and other 'cover' pages are missing.

I checked out her biography so many times in the library, my name was the only one on the checkout card, in my childish, 4th-grade handwriting.

My entire library of LMA books is mismatched. Every time I'd find one I didn't have at a garage sale, I'd buy it. Some collector is probably furious with me for buying only Eight Cousins instead of the entire set. But that was before I learned the value of keeping a matched set together! (And yes...I'm slightly irritated with my high school self too...)

Anyway...I wanted Meg's wisdom; Jo's ability to write; Beth's musical talent; and Amy's name. Later I would also envy Amy marrying Laurie Lawrence! But I digress.

In the 6th grade, I was introduced to Judy Blume. She took ordinary, flawed girls and showed how other issues besides boyfriend or popularity problems could be dealt with effectively. In fact, when I began writing, I patterned book #3 of my AU series after her controversial First Love book, which chronicled a HS senior losing her virginity.

When I finished the 6th grade, my mom let me read Kathleen Woodiwiss' The Flame and the Flower. I was instantly hooked on romance. But I don't care to write historicals; too much research. I did, however, fall in love with the Civil War era, and was soon allowed to watch all of Gone With The Wind. I was always sent to bed after the war was over, but stayed awake to listen to the rest. I always wondered what the big deal was about the staircase scene; I'd gotten up during Rhett and Scarlett's 'fight' and Mom discovered me in the hallway as Rhett carried Scarlett up the stairs.

In college, I read my first Danielle Steele book, but soon discovered I didn't like the guilt the heroines always felt. After college, a friend introduced me to Lavryle Spencer, and I instantly fell in love. Separate Beds. Hummingbird. The Hellion. Three of my favorites of hers, as well as Family Blessings. When she retired, I thought, 'I can take her place!' I had three books under my belt at that time, and was working on completing #4.

During the same period, my mom gave me my first Nora Roberts book, Montana Sky. I now own many Nora books, and my favorites include the Key Trilogy and the Sister Trilogy (Megan, Kate, and Laura).

And among the erotica authors? Too many to count. I started an erotica on the sly after reading Mary Winter's Water Lust. I still haven't finished it; I wrote it in longhand and in private, as I blushed every time I used certain words. And as I continued to read other authors' work, I continued to write and worked up the nerve to submit some of it. All because a certain author dared me to challenge myself, to see if I could keep the heat level up. And promptly 'borrowed' my idea, but the stories are in no way the same, so I'm not upset. Initially, yes. But I got over it.

So there you have it. Influenced by many, but my voice is my own. Maybe someday there will be someone saying, 'Thanks Kenzie, for inspiring me'??

Thank you Louisa, Judy, Lavryle, Nora, and Mary! And to Brynn, Bron, Kelly, Anny, etc for furthering the 'corruption', ha ha! Seriously, if any of my books get to be half as beloved as yours, I'll be thrilled!

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