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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Get to know Author Valerie Ullmer today on @RomanceBooks4Us #RB4U @valerieullmer


Welcome to Romance Books 4 Us, a place for all romance and all genres. We’re very happy to have you here with us today. First, tell us a little bit about yourself…

Please tell us a little about yourself...I live in Denver, Colorado and have been a writer since 2010, but I self-published my first book in 2016.  I have a very supportive husband who allows me to stay at home and do what I love.  But when he’s not at home to spitball ideas with, I bounce ideas off of my black lab mix, Maddie, as she stares as me as though I’m stupid with eyebrow raises and deep sighs.  She doesn’t really help with my story ideas, but she makes me laugh.

What or who initially inspired you to become a writer?  Every book I’ve ever read inspired me.  I devoured books as soon as I truly started reading novels, around my senior year in high school, and I haven’t stopped.  Each novel, each word, has inspired me.


Do real life events find their way into your stories?  Not particularly.  I mainly put in phrases that I or someone I know might use, or a particular personality quirk that I like, but no true events have become part of my stories.

Do you find yourself going back to the same inspiration for each story or is it always something different?  It’s always something different.  There are so many people and events that influence my inspiration that they are never the same.

When do you write?  Early morning? During the day sometime or all day?  After the kids go to bed?  My husband and I don’t have kids, and since my husband works all day, I write when I feel like it during the day.  I have to say that I’m most productive early in the morning.  By afternoon, I’m flagging and my brain screeches to a halt.  I do love to read at night though, it helps me relax.

Is there any other genre that you would love to try writing?  If so, what is it?  I’m curious about writing mysteries, but I don’t think I would be able to plot such a twisty-turny story that would capture readers attentions, but you never know.  It could be in my future.  I never thought I would write gay romance, but I find that I’m loving it.

Do you have a special place you like to do your writing? Such as an office, a spare room, the dining room table, your couch?  I have to write at my desk in the living room with the TV off and music playing softly in the background.  If I move to my couch, I find myself surfing the net, which I get lost in and forget what I’m doing.  So the desk or nothing.

As a reader, what types of genres do you enjoy? And do you think they influence the genre/genres you write in?  I read mostly romance, but lately, I’ve only been reading M/M or gay romance.  I find that the situations are completely new for me and I love most of the ones I’ve read.

What is your favorite method of writing...as in laptop, desktop, iPad or the old-fashioned pencil and paper?  And do you plot out your story or go with the flow of your muse?  My favorite is with pen and paper.  I outline my entire story, plot points and everything, before I type it into Scrivener.  Since most of my story is fleshed out with my outline, it makes my story easier to write when I get to my computer.

Share your favorites:
Favorite color –It changes between blue and green, depending on my mood
Favorite dessert/snack –cupcakes
Favorite Season –Fall
Favorite sad song –Fix You by Coldplay
Favorite Romantic movie –When Harry Met Sally…
Favorite Actor –Robert Downey, Jr.
Favorite Actress –Jessica Chastain
Favorite way to relax –Reading

What is your ideal romantic vacation?  Exploring anywhere with history as long as my husband is with me.

Where can our readers find you
Email:  valerie@valerieullmer.com
Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/valerieullmer
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/valerieullmer.author
Website/blog:  http://www.valerieullmer.com
Amazon author page:  https://www.amazon.com/Valerie-Ullmer/e/B01FSWMI9A
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15293708.Valerie_Ullmer
Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/authors/valerie-ullmer

Is there an upcoming or current release you would like to share with us today and where can we find it?



My story, Fall for You, a New Adult M/M Romance, is featured in the All You Need is Love Romance Collection.

Ethan Sutton had come to the stunning revelation that he’d fallen in love with his best friend, Sebastian Young.  Although friends since childhood, Ethan vowed to keep his feelings for Sebastian under wraps and live the rest of his life with this one secret between them rather than risk a lifelong connection and never see him again.  But when they move into their own apartment at the start of their third year of college, can Ethan keep his feelings from showing when they live so close together?

Sebastian Young had an epiphany about Ethan at the end of last year and arranged for the shared apartment he’d found over the summer to be closer to Ethan and see if a relationship could develop between them.  But as they settle into their lives in a new place with such close quarters, ex-girlfriends, nosy downstairs neighbors, and Sebastian’s own doubts, their relationship could be in jeopardy before it even begins.
Can two best friends admit their feelings and fall in love?

Buy Links:   

Saturday, February 17, 2018

More Wise Sayings from Famous Women

More quotes from Great Women, since you all seem to like when I post these.  I like them too, so here's some more. Then I think I might run out, but maybe not.

1.  "I gain strength and confidence by every experience in which I must stop and look fear in the face...I  say to myself, I've lived through this and can take the next thing that comes along......We must do the things we think we cannot do."    Eleanor Roosevelt

2.  "I never notice what has been done. I only see what remains to be done."  Madame Curie

3.  "Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.  I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead."   Louisa May Alcott


4.  "Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it ca be recalled and perhaps remedied."   Pearl S. Buck

5.  "Don't be humble, you're not that great."   Golda Meir

6.   "From birth to age 18  a girl needs good parents, from 18 to 35 she needs good looks, from 35 to 55 she needs a good personality, and from 55 on she needs cash."   Sophie Tucker

7.   "Perhaps one has  to be very old before one learns how to be amused rather than shocked."    Pearl S. Buck

8.   "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood."
      Madame Curie

9.  "After the verb 'to love'. 'to help' is the most beautiful verb in the world."    Berta Von Suttner

10.  "Character contributes to beauty.  It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful."   Jacqueline Bisset

Once again guys, please tell me your favorite.  As usual, it will be hard to pick. I already know mine.  

On my favorite guys, you might like him too.  He's in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all the usual places.

 

 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

A Fortune to Win: A Romance Miniseries by Suz deMello (#romance #miniseries)


Drug addicts Harvey, Lord Darlingside, and his supermodel wife, Mara, died by drowning in the Trevi Fountain while on a heroin binge. In a previous rare moment of sobriety, Harvey created a trust for their three children with a peculiar stipulation designed to ensure none would go his way: each must demonstrate maturity by making a substantial non-monetary contribution to others.

A Fortune To Win is the story of the Darlingside heirs' journey to love and their legacies.

Will Alice break through her emotional shell to find love?

Can supermodel Sophie survive repeated attacks from someone who seems bent upon her death?

Alcoholic Peter is accused of murder...can he get his head out of the bottle long enough to beat the charge and maintain his freedom?

PLUS A SPECIAL HISTORICAL PREQUEL!

Here's a snippet to pique your interest...from Peter's Story:


Prologue


LORD DARLINGSIDE AND WIFE MARA FOUND DEAD

DRUG OVERDOSE SUSPECTED

[ROME] The jetsetting couple known as ‘Marvey,’ Harvey Fortune, Lord Darlingside and his supermodel wife Mara Tove, were found at three a.m. today (local time) drowned in the historic Trevi Fountain. An autopsy is planned, which many fear will confirm the initial assumption that the couple’s known heroin addiction caused their deaths. Reportedly, used syringes were found on the fountain’s marble balustrade… They leave three adult children: Peter, age 26, the new Earl Darlingside; daughter Alice, 23, a teacher; Sophia, 19, a model.

one week later

CONTENTS OF ‘MARVEY’ WILL REVEALED

LONDON] …Though the Fortune family solicitor, Rabbie White of White, Cheshire and Queen (Lincolns Inn Fields) remains closemouthed, an unidentified source close to the family states that the Fortune fortune, encompassing a manor house in Kent, a mansion in Hampstead, and invested monies totaling some 50 million pounds, will be divided between ‘Marvey’s’ children. However, the ‘Marvey’ trust requires the heirs make a substantial non-monetary contribution to society. Whether each child’s acts are sufficient to inherit is a decision left solely to White’s discretion. Apparently Lord and Lady Darlingside wanted to ensure that their progeny did not follow the same dangerous path they trod…

...eighteen months later...



Chapter One


One cool, bright summer morning, Peter Fortune, Earl Darlingside, awakened in a big, four-poster bed covered with a fluffy white duvet with a woman beside him. She was dead.

Until that moment, he’d been doing quite well, thank you very much, considering that he’d spent the night before drinking Remy Martin Black Pearl with a number of equally dissolute young noblemen and getting drunk as, well, drunk as lords. He should have had a throbbing head, unclear eyesight and a belly that pitched like bloody hell, but he felt great. And, given that he’d won rather than lost betting on billiards was another point in favor of the day.

Which was, he remembered blearily, Monday, perhaps? Or maybe Tuesday. Did it matter?

The window was open to the Hampstead sunshine and also admitted birdsong. Every once in a while he heard the sound of a distant siren, reminding him of...of…?

Oh yes, the dead girl.

Melanie.

He supposed he ought to call 9-9-9 and get an ambulance, though judging by her total lack of movement and warmth, the authorities would get to her too late. Far too late.

He rolled to the side, reaching for the bedside table where his mobile reposed. Something jabbed his arse, and he threw back the sheet to find a used syringe. A needlestick from an addict’s rig. Oh, shite, I’m fucked. He grabbed the thing and flung it across the room, then called for help.

*****

She’d been called Foxy Roxy for as long as she could remember, but she hadn’t embraced the nickname until her fifteenth birthday. That day she’d visited a charity shop with friends. One had spotted an old fox stole on a mannequin and bought it for Roxanne Fox as a gift. She’d worn that fox pelt around her neck on cool days until it had fallen apart, then bought another and then another. Only from the charity shops, though—she wouldn’t be directly responsible for the death of an innocent animal. Later she’d found a source for high-quality fakes, which fit her vegan habits far better.

This morning, she was nibbling a gluten-free currant scone slathered with soya cream cheese whilst enjoying her second flat white of the day (made with soya of course), reading a fairly interesting case file about a fellow who had been recorded by the many CCTVs roundabout London. Unfortunately for the client, he’d been taped with his zip open whilst fondling an impressive erection. Even less fortunately, the Crown was not amenable to letting the incident go by even though he claimed he’d been “pissed legless.”

Roxanne’s secretary stuck her head into the open doorway, her eyes round. “That prat Darlingside has gotten himself arrested again.”

“Oh, happy day.” Roxy wiped her mouth with a hanky. “What is it this time? Dead drunk? Car crash?”

“No, it’s more serious. Unless someone’s having a go at us.”

“Not chundering onto some poor copper’s shoes?” That had been a memorable case.

“No, murder.”

Roxy sat up straighter. She’d been White, Cheshire and Queen’s criminal defense specialist for four years, having left the Crown Prosecution Service to pursue more lucrative options. At WCQ, she’d had the opportunity to sample a more varied menu of cases than she’d expected. Along with the anticipated tax avoidance schemes and family squabbles regarding bequests—which occasionally devolved into wine-throwing and fistfights—a prominent client occasionally committed the odd sexual peccadillo, like the fellow diddling his dong in Notting Hill.

And then there was Peter Fortune, the Earl of Darlingside, who seemed intent upon imitating his parents’ strikingly self-destructive ways.

Bless him—he’d brought her a case she could really sink her teeth into. “Where’s he being held?”

Like what you read? GET IT HERE:







Wednesday, February 14, 2018

VALENTINE"S DAY QUIZ by Marianne Stephens



 

                        Valentine's Day Quiz - Can You Answer These?


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

 Lovers, love, and romance...all the elements romance authors use to create books for readers!

http://www.mariannestephens.net






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

Photos: Flickr: mamjodh and Aunt Owwee's  photostreams.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

Saturday, February 10, 2018

THE VALENTINE HEART SHAPE


Posted by Author R. Ann Siracusa

VALENTINE’S DAY COMETH
When wandering through the greeting card section looking for the perfect card to give your loved one for Valentine’s Day, have you ever wondered about the origin of the traditional heart shape associated with love … and, therefore, Valentine’s Day?
The heart shape itself has been around forever. It appears in the cave-wall drawings of cro-magnon hunters, as far back as the ice age. Also, the shape itself is frequently seen in nature, so the question isn’t where the shape came from, but how it became the symbol of love and Valentine’s Day.
    Ivy Leaf             
                      
THE ORIGIN OF VALENTINE’S DAY
The origins of Saint Valentine's day are rooted in the ancient Romans and their fertility festival of Lupercalia on the Ides of February (the fifteenth day), dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.

It was a sensuous affair where young women put their names in a big pot and young men simply drew out a name. According to Glenn Church's 2008 article, "The man did not need to ask for a date, plan a Dinner setting or a movie. Just draw a name and off to fornicate."



The rites of Lupercalia survived until the fifth century AD when Pope Gelasius I saw fit to outlaw the pagan festival and superimposed a religious day honoring Saint Valentine.
The Pope’s action did, indeed, tone down the festivities but, according to scholar Noel Lenski at the University of Colorado, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”
Ah-ha! So the connection to love (fertility rites, anyway) wasn’t related to St. Valentine, but the pagan festival his name day superseded. Or was it?
WHO WAS SAINT VALENTINE?
Actually, no one knows for sure, but historians agree there was nothing romantic in any of the histories of the three early-Christian martyrs (Saints) named Valentine. To complicate things, two of the Saint Valentines were executed on February 14 but in different years of the third century.                              Saint Valentine of Rome
However, Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned by the Emperor Claudius II allegedly for ministering to Christians and performing wedding ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden by the emperor to marry.

Apparently, records of these events, if there were any, have been destroyed and references to the Saint and his legend come in documents written much later than the third century. It is true, however, that Valentine of Rome was executed by the emperor between 269 and 273 (references vary), and is most likely the Saint Valentine being honored.
Whether or not the legends are true, who knows?                               
THE SHAPE OF VALENTINES TO COME
Getting back to the point, when did the heart shape become identified with love. I went in search of the real answer which, of course, doesn't exist … or at least no one agrees on the subject, but there are a number of intriguing theories.
Dionysus and the Leopard’s Spots
Chronologically speaking, the first theory is the heart shape originated as the symbol of Dionysus, Greek god of grapes, wine, and debauchery, and champion of sexual orgies. The god and the Cult of Dionysus are depicted among Mycenaean artifacts the end of the Bronze Age (1600-1100 BC).
By the seventh century BC, Dionysus was well established in the beliefs of the time. His symbols include the bull, serpent, and tiger, as well as grapes, wine, and ivy. He is often depicted riding a leopard, wearing a leopard skin, and carrying the thyrsus -- a long stick or wand topped with a pinecone -- and wearing an ivy crown.
   
There is a clear connection between the god Dionysus and sexuality, but where does the heart shape come in?
In my opinion, this theory is a real stretch. Supposedly, the god’s favorite leopard skin had a spot which was the exact shape of a heart. I’m going to cross this one off the books. If anything, it was the crown of ivy he wore that associated him with the heart shape.

The Abortive Qualities of Silphium
At about the same time, the seventh century BC, the city-state of Cyrene (a Greek, and later Roman) city near present-day Shahhat, Lybia was known to trade in the rare, and now extinct, plant silphium.                                            Surviving relative of the silphium plant
                      
Silphium was a well-known herb widely use in the Mediterranean area for spicing food. It grew only along the Libyan coast where the climate is now considerably drier. It was also widely used as an abortive agent for women. The day after sex, the woman would eat the silphium plant or its seeds and usually abort. And guess what? Its seeds were shaped like hearts.
The plant was commemorated on Cyrene coins, such as the ones shown below, because of its economic importance to the city- state. It's quite plausible the shape of the seed pod became related to sexuality and love because of this major use as an abortive.
                          
 

The Real Shape of the Human Heart
We move to the third century BC for the next theory. The Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) wrote that the human heart was the center of all human emotions. It is certainly one of the major body parts which sends visceral signals regarding our feelings and moods. If you've ever been in love, or heartbroken, you know you definitely feel it in your heart. That could support the connection between the heart and passion.              

   
       The real human heart           The not-so-real heart
A couple of centuries later, Claudius Galenus (known as Galen of Pergamon), a noted Greek physician, surgeon, and philosopher, wrote texts about many areas of medicine. These included anatomical reports and drawings based mainly on dissection of monkeys and pigs, which remained unchallenged until 1543 and served as the mainstay of medieval medicine.
Scholars such as Pierre Vinken, author of an entire book on the shape of the heart early in the twentieth century, suggests the symbolic heart shape might have originated in the writings of Galen and Aristotle.
Le Roman de la Poire: The Romance of the Pear
Fast forward to the middle ages. The first verifiable association of the heart shape as a symbol of romantic love occurred in 1250 in a French romance (Le Roman de la Poire: The Romance of the Pear) written by Thibaut.


The manuscript was illustrated and in the drawing below “The kneeling man is an allegory of Doux Regard [or sweet gaze] handing the damsel the lover’s heart. This is the earliest known depiction of the human heart in a metaphorical context signifying romantic love, which over the next two centuries would give rise to the now-familiar heart symbol.”
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_de_la_poire


Similarity to Lady Parts
Ah, yes. We can't forget this one. The final theory is that the heart shape depicts the female body, specifically the buttocks, breasts, vulva, back, and possibly the female pelvis. That certainly relates to sexuality.
Also, author and editor Amy Cunningham suggest that because the females give birth to life could be another tie between the heart shape and love.

    Buttocks       heart shaped baby bump        Oh, my!

   
Knowing men, this connection probably had an early beginning. I doubt it took as long as medieval times to notice the similarity. Of course, the use of an arrowhead to pierce a heart has "strong male overtones".
AND THAT, VIRGINIA, IS WHY VALENTINES ARE SHAPED LIKE HEARTS.
Resources
http://voices.yahoo.com/origins-valentines-day-heart-symbol-849689.html http://www.kingdombaptist.org/the-origin-of-valentines-day-and-the-heart-symbol/ http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/recycled/2007/02/the_shape_of_my_heart.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/what-is-the-origin-of-the-heart-symbol www.iep.utm.edu/galen/
https://www.thehairpin.com/2012/02/possible-origins-of-the-heart-shape/ http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/recycled/2007/02/the_shape_of_my_heart.html http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/1586252/posts
https://www.romancefromtheheart.com/articles/general/history-of-heart-shape.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galen http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Dionysos.html http://scribol.com/anthropology-and-history/history/the-changing-symbolism-of-the-heart-shape-through-the-ages/ https://www.quora.com/Where-did-the-heart-symbol-(%E2%99%A5)-originate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silphium











             
           







 

 






                







                                 













Friday, February 9, 2018

Audiobooks... What Are Your Choices? #RB4U #melissa_keir


Audio-books... What Are Your Choices?


Welcome to another monthly visit from me, with information you can use and silliness for all. This month, I want to talk about Audio-books and share with you my own experiences with turning two of my books into an Audio-book.

I'd heard that Audio-books was the new frontier of publishing and that the market for Audio-books would continue to grow in the coming years, much as the early e-book market took off. 


I started with my research. I learned about ACX with Audible who was a division of Amazon as one route. With ACX, you can put your book out there and ask narrators to audition. You then have options where you pay the narrator or you can share the royalties with the narrator. ACX will put your book up on a variety of sites but they do pay a bonus for sales through Amazon. 



One day I received an email from Findaway Voices which works with Draft2Digital about their Audio-book program. It sounded pretty easy to do and so I gave it a try. After filling out the form, I received an email with some narrators to choose from. I listened to them and saw their prices. There was a bit of sticker shock. With $100-$200 an hour, it could cost upwards of $500-$1000 for narration, but unlike with ACX, there wouldn't be any sharing of royalties. 



Findaway puts their books up at a variety of sites including Amazon so no worries there. I found them to be very helpful and easy to get a hold of, especially when you have questions!

All in all, it was a good experience. I have two books up in audio-Chalkboard Romance and The Heartsong Cowboy. 



Chalkboard Romance

Lauren Walsh, a divorcee and elementary teacher, wanted to feel sexy again, after her ex tossed her aside for a younger woman. Her teaching partner and best friend encouraged her to sign up for The Playhouse--a renowned dating agency.

Mac Thomas remained trapped in a marriage to a money grubbing socialite. Forced to stay away from his young son, Mac lost the ability to trust. After the death of his wife, he returned to care for his son but his sister wants more for him. She sets him up with The Playhouse.

Passion ignites but Mac’s a parent of one of Lauren’s students. A teacher and a parent dating could cost Lauren her job and her chance at happiness. Will Mac be able to convince the school and Lauren, that love is the most important thing?




The Heartsong Cowboy

Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl?

Angela French blames herself for her daughter’s lack of voice. Determined to do anything to correct the situation, she seeks out Jake Kyncade, the owner of The Heartsong Ranch.

Jake Kyncade hides his own sorrows behind his no-nonsense demeanor. Helping children becomes one way to correct his past. Using equine therapy, he sets out to make a difference.

Can Jake help Angela’s dreams come true or will Jake’s past bring more heartache? Will love save them all?







Do you enjoy Audio-books? Have you created an Audio-book? I'd love to hear from you.  I have some free download codes for The Heartsong Cowboy if anyone would like to listen to it. Just let me know your email address in your comment. :)



Until next month...

Hugs,











Melissa Keir
www.melissakeir.com



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