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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Guest Blog: Karen McCullough: Five Things I Learned About Writing Novels from Barbara Mertz

In honor of Halloween, I’m re-reading the books that the late Barbara Mertz who wrote as Barbara Michaels. Mertz is one of my favorite authors of all time. As Barbara Michaels she wrote Gothic and romantic suspense, frequently with paranormal elements. She also wrote mysteries as Elizabeth Peters.

I’ve enjoyed the mysteries, but it’s the paranormal stories that really work for me. My favorites of Michaels’ stories usually have some paranormal elements. Those include AMMIE, COME HOME (possibly one of the scariest ghost stories ever!), WITCH, and WAIT FOR WHAT WILL COME. A couple of other favorites are seriously spooky, with only peripheral paranormal elements: INTO THE DARKNESS and PRINCE OF DARKNESS.

When I think about which authors were most influential on my own writing, she has to be near the top of the list. So I sat down and tried to figure out what I learned from reading her works. Here are the most important ones.

1. It’s okay for your heroine to have a brain and use it. In fact, it’s a good thing. Those sweet, helpless heroines of days gone by no longer resonate. Readers like myself want to root for women who can handle things themselves, or can at least share responsibilities for solving the mystery and extricating themselves from tight situations. They don’t need a man to think or act for them, though they appreciate one who knows how to be great partner.

2. Heroes don’t have to conform to the tall, dark and handsome mold. A Michaels or Peters hero might be short, blond, and good-looking (Peter Stewart, PRINCE OF DARKNESS), tall, dark, very thin, and possessed of a large nose (David Randall, THE CAMELOT CAPER), dark, scarred and surly (Riley, INTO THE DARKNESS) or have an unconventional profession (Michael in WAIT FOR WHAT WILL COME is a professional dancer; John Smythe of the Vicki Bliss mysteries is a thief). Some of them are middle-aged and balding (Jack, in WITCH). They’re all heroic in their own ways and it isn’t always what one might expect. Most of all, though, they’re always intelligent and interesting.

3. Characters are more interesting when they have something they’re passionate about, and even better when it’s something unusual like hand-crafted jewelry, exploring ancient Egyptian ruins, or rose gardens. I like stories that take me into a piece of the world I didn’t know about.

4. Leaven the story with humor. Michaels’ characters are often snarky as well as smart and when the going gets tough they’re very likely to crack a joke before they get going and crack the case. A little snippet of dialogue from the climax of INTO THE DARKNESS:
 “I’m sorry,” he gasped. “If I could use my hands--“

[The heroine Meg answers:] “Oh, shut up, Riley. I admire a man who can say he’s sorry, but you’re carrying it too far.”

And another from the climax of PRINCE OF DARKNESS:
[They need to distract the villain who has them in a very bad situation.]

“What are you going to do?” Hilary asked.

[Peter responds:] “What can I do? Sing, dance, do card tricks. Anything to attract attention.”

5. There’s always room for another great ghost story. AMMIE, COME HOME is one of the scariest ghost stories ever, but Michaels didn’t stop there. WITCH, THE WALKER IN SHADOWS, and several other, later books use different ghostly tropes to amazing effect. In some stories the ghostly aspects are the basis for the main plot, in others they’re secondary to it, but they always play an important part. She never just throws them in for the fun of it.

Karen McCullough is a web designer by profession, and the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, four grandchildren and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.

Blog: http://www.kmccullough/kblog

Librarian Jess O’Rourke already has her hands full with her father’s declining and health and the under-staffed, under-funded library she runs. A new preacher in town waging war on her books is just an annoyance at first, but an attractive mysterious stranger warns her that there’s more behind the reverend’s campaign than she can guess. The new preacher is a human possessed by a demon and he’s searching for an old grimoire that’s part of an uncatalogued collection of books stored in the library’s basement.

Gabriel Sutton has been the guardian of the book for a long time, a very long time, he claims, since that has been his penance for crimes he committed as a soldier during the Civil War. He convinces Jess that she needs to find the grimoire and use it to return the demon to where he belongs.

Their time gets short when the reverend realizes she’s searching for the book and resorts to desperate measures to either retrieve or destroy it.

Buy links
Kindle   Nook   Smashwords

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Top Thirteen Things You Should Know About Suzanne Rock

If you are a regular reader of author blogs, you've probably come across the "Thursday Thirteen." This is where a blogger takes a topic and lists thirteen things related to that topic. I've seen lists about everything from romantic movies to favorite foods to exotic vacation spots. Since I'm new to Romance Books 4 Us, and it's Thursday, I thought it would be fun to do this to tell people a little more about myself. (Okay, so it isn't Thursday, but it's CLOSE to a Thursday, and someone might be reading this on a Thursday, so let's just run with it. ;) )

So here you have it - my Thursday Thirteen on the topic "All About Suzanne."

1) I've been writing since 2009. My first published book, Spyder's Web, was published by Loose Id. It's a paranormal thriller where the heroine is known as the "Black Widow Serial Killer." Pretty cool, eh? I've since gotten the rights back and self published the story.

2) Since Spyder's Web, I've written almost thirty erotic romances, spanning four publishers. About half of these books are self-published. Many of these books have hit best seller lists and won awards.

3) I drink coffee--lots of it. My Keurig goes constantly from the moment I wake up until I'm done with my writing day. I *need* that first cup in the morning or I'm impossible to deal with the rest of the day.

4) I'm a huge football fan. HUGE. When my husband and I first got married, we lived within five miles of Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts. The year Tom Brady joined the Patriots, we thought it would be cool to become season ticket holders, so we paid the waiting list fee and got in line. Fast forward twelve years, two moves and two kids later, and we became season ticket holders! (Yeah, it was a long wait, but it was worth it. :) ) Every fall, you can catch us in the "cheap seats" cheering on the Patriots.

5) In addition to writing, I also teach online classes on the craft of writing and the publishing industry. I have written books on the craft of writing with Em Petrova as optional supplements to some of these classes.

6) In 2013 I wanted to try something different from erotic romance. My critique partner, Lauren Hawkeye, suggested that I try New Adult novels. Over the next two months, I wrote HOLLOW, a story about how a college student with the perfect life loses it all and rediscovers herself with the help of her fellow mental institution patients. The book was self published under the name Ava Conway and immediately started racing up the charts. One week later, an agent asked to represent me and that story. Then another agent became interested. To make a long story short, I am now represented by Deidre Knight at the Knight Agency. Hollow was pulled down, reworked, and will relaunch with Pocket Star in the summer of 2014. (Squee!)

7) My oldest daughter (8 yrs) has recently become interested in running. She drags me to her running club every Tuesday to time her mile run around the track. Her current time is 12 minutes, 20 seconds, but I know that she could shave a minute off that time if she didn't veer off the track to chase a squirrel. :p Sometimes I even run with her.

8) I'm a huge fan of the TV show Archer. My favorite character is Mallory. I love her sarcasm and wit. The person who does the voice of Archer comes from my home town, so I feel a little bit of a personal connection to the show.

9) I run a blog called "Romance on a Budget," where I talk about ways for writers to save time, money and sanity while writing. I also post excerpts of my books, give updates on various projects, and host guest blogs.

10) My best selling paranormal series is the Kyron Pack series, and my best selling contemporary series is the Ecstasy Spa series. If you are a new to me reader, I suggest starting with either of these series.

11) I've already mentioned that my favorite beverage is coffee. My favorite food is sushi. I LOVE seafood in general. That probably comes from growing up on the Maine coast and getting fresh seafood right off the dock. ;)

12) I used to be painfully shy and introverted. In high school, and took public speaking classes to overcome this. I'm much better today, but sometimes it's still hard for me to be in crowds and I tend to get rather quiet in large groups of people. I'm absolutely NOT a party person. At all. LOL.

13) For those who want to stay up to date with what's happening with my writing, I have a newsletter. For those who want to help spread the word about my books and be automatically entered for chances to win swag, books, and other cool stuff, I have a street team. You can sign up for one or both of these groups in the right side bar of my website.

Hmm, it seems that I have used up my thirteen items already. I guess that the rest shall remain a mystery--for now. :) Come back to this blog on the thirtieth of every month for more updates on my writing journey and to hear my random thoughts on life.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Riverboat Mysteries

My series of The Riverboat Mysteries started being re-released with new book covers the end of August starting with The Catalyst.  Addiction was released the end of September and now The Deceived has been released the 25th of October.  This series is about a family who owns riverboat gambling casinos in the Mid-West and the South. 


Dark revelations and secret love lead to personal resurrection.

Carolyn Madison didn't kill her husband but didn't mourn him either. The rapist deserved to die, or at least she thought so. Beneath a myriad of family secrets, Carolyn drags the skeletons out of the closet and in the arms of her true love, learns to love again.

Walt Tollhouse has pined for Carolyn since she was a shy seventeen-year-old. Little did he know Robert Dubois would steal her away, and then destroy the beautiful spirit he still loved? Beneath the guise of clean-up man, the martial arts instructor never pushes his battered love but gives her silent support she deserves.

Amazon, BarnesandNoble and several other on-line stores.


Two men are after the same woman but for very different reasons.
Dark-haired beauty, Jolene Dubois has a serious problem, and it's not just battling alcoholism. Late at night, she receives whispered calls. "Jolene, I want you. I'm coming for you." Shivers climb up her spine and ice flows in her veins. What does he want? Who is it? She must figure it out before she trusts the wrong person.

Jake Farrell, the handsome rogue is an operator with women, but is he hiding something dark and sinister under his cheery facade. The detective, Andy Martin, who investigated her father's murder, continues to ask her out. Les Voodré, an alcoholic she met at AA follows her everywhere, and Ron Keisler, her AA sponsor is always there when she needs him. Could her caller be one of these men?
To further complicate her life, she fights a host of addictions, alcoholism, smoking, gambling and sex. Jolene is determined to beat the alcohol and to stay out of the clutches of the fiend who phones her.

Amazon, BarnesandNoble and several other on-line stores.


The games they play can lead them to love or ruin.

Melanie Dubois detests her family’s casino business. The way this addiction destroys people has her on a tear of magnificent proportions. Then again, this young lady has been put through a train wreck of her own design. She distrusts everybody except for the people who are determined to use Melanie as a poster-child for zealots.

Mike Mercer has spent nearly a year in a deep cover mission for the FBI. The one fly in the ointment of completing his objective to take down a group of dangerous anti-gambling zealots is a fiery-tempered, blonde-haired woman named Melanie DuBois. Worse than that, she’s got a passion brewing just beneath the surface that’s an even deadlier attraction.

Fighting for your life is never easy when the odds are stacked against you.


My five day blog tour started yesterday, and for those who would like to win an ecopy of The Catalyst go to each blog and leave a comment.  It will give you five chances to win.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest Blog: Charlene Roberts: Writing the Sweet Regency Romance - What the (BLEEP) Was I Thinking?

I love trying different genres of writing—it gives me an idea of strengths and weaknesses. I discovered that one genre that works for me is historical, as I love reading about the past from different countries. England is still my favorite.

Recently, a publisher’s call for sweet Regency stories caught my interest, and I was excited in writing a novel. However, the reality was harder than I realized.

It’s always important to get your facts correct, and nothing is truer than Regency culture. It’s more than dress code, dances, carriages and living arrangements—the words have to be strictly correct as well. For instance, I didn’t know that contractions (I’m, We’ll, You’re) were forbidden in Regency language, along with the usual—no bad words used by ladies, no swearing by men in front of the ladies. Yet at the same time, Regency-correct words had to be used to create romantic tension.

The same rule applied for body language; ladies were supposed to be demure, soft-spoken, gentle creatures (I, for one, would not survive in this era!), but by using their bodies (hands, eyes, tilting their head, a smile), they can convey their interest to a potential marriage partner.

Oh yes, the ultimate goal of any young lady of standing—the suitable husband, and the myriad ways of catching one. These ladies were great schemers! And all was accomplished while keeping their noble honor intact.

I gotta say I admire Regency folks; they managed to get so much done with cultural limitations. And it limited me as well—for a gal who likes to write erotic romance, writing the sweet Regency romance was a serious mind-bender! Everything I'd used before to write my novels was shrunk into small box of strict Regency knowledge, and I have to say it was pretty difficult for me, but a great challenge.

Now, my observations are based on sweet Regency stories; for the daring noblemen and women who enjoy breaking the rules without getting caught, then we go beyond sweet into the sensual category, but that’s another story.


Charlene Roberts lives in Toronto, Canada. Her writing career started after helping a friend type her historical novel. When she became a member of her local writing group, she pursued her love of the written word until her first sale and hasn't looked back since.
She has worked as a Script Supervisor, Book Reviewer for Romantic Times, modelled and now works as an Administrative Assistant at a consulting company. However her love of creating stories for others to read and enjoy still remains her first and foremost passion. 

BLURB:Festive Persuasion
Blush sensuality level: This is a sweet romance (kisses only, no sexual content).

A false rumor about Lord Trevor Normandale’s tenuous connection to a murder circulates within the ton. He and his family have successfully defeated the lie, but at a cost; he has made the painful decision to relinquish any hope of pursuing Lady Sophia Weston, as Lord Trevor is afraid the lady will not look upon him favorably again.

Lady Sophia tolerates persistent visits from Lord Walter Talbot, yet she knows that her heart belongs to Lord Trevor, despite his stubborn honor to stay away.

During the Christmas season, Lady Sophia must show Lord Trevor—through gentle persuasion—that her feelings for him have not changed, and fight off Lord Walter, who will do anything to win her affections.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Things That Go Bump in the Night.

With Halloween so close, I decided to dedicate this post to Things that go bump in the night, and present an excerpt from my new release: Matrix Crystal Hunters.
With some illustrations done by me.

She drove up the side of the old riverbank. Rounding a corner, she found the remains of a road. Maya continued down the rough track until a large structure came into view.

The huge, stone building seemed ageless. It could have been built yesterday, but it was more likely to be more than a thousand years old. She parked her jeep nearby and walked the rest of the way on foot. The wind howled around the corners of the structure, making Maya suddenly feel more isolated than she was used to, and unusually for her, a little wary. She hugged her elbows and slowed her steps.

Locating a doorway, she entered and found a big empty space. The large structure had been constructed from nearly indestructible stone, so only the doors and roof were gone and, although long abandoned, it was surprisingly clean, except for rust-colored spots where some kind of machinery had once stood.

The superstitious Zeemen stayed away from such old buildings, considering them evil or sacred, depending on who you spoke to. An excellent place to set up camp.

Maya gathered up her supplies to set them inside the building. She put her tent up in a corner where the sun had already warmed the stones, so that the heat they were radiating would help to keep her warm during the cold desert night. She set up her tables, but left her instruments in their boxes on the floor. They were irreplaceable and she didn't want some wild animal knocking them down.

Taking a flashlight, Maya made a quick foray into the strip mine. The setting sun reflected off a few places, but her heart sank. If the matrix crystals were here, it would light up more than this. First thing tomorrow, I’ll have to go all the way down there.

She didn't relish the idea of the hike. The strip mine was deep and it would take her a while to reach the bottom, where hopefully a few of the crystals remained. Tiers, used as roads, went around the edges, leading down to the lowest section, but they were overgrown with trees and shrubs, and water pooled at the bottom of the mine. But that could be blocking her view of the refraction of the matrix crystals too.

Maya finished setting up her camp. She lit a small burner so she could warm up some noodles for dinner. Her stomach growled, reminding her that she had forgotten to eat lunch again.

She imagined how Momma Roosa would chastise her if she knew that. “Don’t you know, girl, food is the only fuel a body has to fill up on? How can you keep on going if you don’t eat?”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Maya stirred in the contents of her seasoning package. She saved what small amounts of Earth food she still had for trips out.
After her scanty dinner, Maya went to bed, hoping to get an early start in the morning. Sleep was a long time coming. The excitement of exploring a new site always kept her awake. But, just as she started to doze off, there was a scuffing sound, not unlike the noise made by someone’s shoe.

Maya jumped, opening her eyes wide in the darkness. Who could be way out here? She hadn't seen a soul all day.

Another scrape, but this one closer. Maya stiffened, her heart beating so loudly, she feared she wouldn't be able to hear anything else. Lifting her head, she held her breath, willing her heart to quiet down.


Maya relaxed. It must have been the wind blowing something around. Yeah, that’s it. She closed her eyes again. Sleep was close.
Then came the unmistakable sound of the tent’s zipper being drawn up, bringing her back to full wakefulness.
Who the hell is that?

Happy Halloween

If your interested in reading the rest of the story, here are the links to my book:


Janice Seagraves website:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

When Your Book Talks Back

Ebook, Print and Audio covers for Rose
If you don’t know already, the audiobook format is gaining in popularity. Why? Because more people are able to access ACX, Audible’s author-friendly version for indie books and books for which authors own their audio rights. Now authors can take charge of the audiobook process, producing their own product through Audible downloads.
Every day more and more people have devices capable of storing and playing back downloaded audio. Many of those devices are Apple products for those owners of the fab-favorite iPhone and other products like the iTouch, Nano, iPad and iPad mini. But even if you aren’t an Apple owner, Audible books can be downloaded to your computer and listened to there or transferred to an MP3 player. For Kindle Fire HD and HDX owners, many audiobooks are also available in Whisper Sync, meaning the audiobook is synced with the e-book and you can listen to it or stop and read exactly where the audiobook stopped.
When I wrote with a partner as Terry Campbell, we once has an audiobook produced through contract with a company called Books-in-Motion. However, we had no control over the narrator or production process. The book was okay, but if we’d been able to direct the narrator, it would have been far better.
Just the beginning of this month, I dipped my toe in the ACX water and have six books in varying stages of becoming reality. So far, I have found it amazingly simple. I was very fortunate that a wonderful narrator stepped forward and auditioned for my inspirational nonfiction book, In the Stillness. However, I found it was better for me to contact narrators for the rest and get those whom I thought were appropriate in tone and versatility of character voices to narrate the material.
Right now I have three books being produced by three separate narrators. The work has been phenomenal and I am excited. The gentleman producing Rose has an amazing voice and is also a well-established radio personality and voice-over teacher. The woman who is doing the nonfiction book has a great previous history with narration and is a singer and also works with a gospel band.  I entered the market at the right time. If you are a writer, don’t hesitate while good narrators are still less difficult to find using the 50/50 royalty option. I understand it is harder now than it was. Take the tiger by the tail.
Bobbye Terry writes mystery/suspense, romance, fantasies and dystopian fiction and also inspirational nonfiction. Nothing Ever Happens in Briny Bay, a compilation of the Briny Bay novellas, was released in print by Turquoise Morning Press during July. She just started a new mystery series, “As the River Runs” with the first book, The Widow James to debut from Black Opal Books in the next few months, For more about Bobbye, visit her at,  and

Friday, October 25, 2013

Interview of Etopia Press & Nancy Cassidy

Bio of Nancy Cassidy:
People often ask how I started in publishing. I actually began as an author. Twelve years ago, I joined the Romance Writers of America and the Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada, and began writing romance. Eventually, thanks to some wonderful editors, I learned what made a story work. I am now multi-published in erotic romance under a pen name. Recently I have also begun to write Young Adult (YA) and New Adult (NA) sci-fi under a second name.

In the spring of 2011 I began a year-long, distance internship with top New York literary agency, "The Bent Agency". I spent my time there as a romance specialist, reviewing queries and manuscripts. It’s a fascinating side of the publishing business!

In August 2011, I opened my own business and began freelance work, editing all genres of fiction, with the exception of picture books and middle grade fiction. In May 2012, I began to freelance edit for several small presses, something I only recently abandoned to focus on Etopia Press.

In July 2012 I joined the "Editors Association of Canada", and in August 2012 I became an acquisitions editor for Etopia Press. In February 2013 I made Senior Editor and in October 2013 I became Managing Editor of Romance at Etopia.

Q: Describe your job.
A: I am very happy in my new position as Managing Editor of Romance at Etopia Press. I work closely with the publisher to develop our romance and erotic romance lines, looking for the best books from new and established authors. I also manage the social media for the house (with a lot of help from my favorite members of the production team), work with the marketing team and oversee the editing quality of the books. I still keep my hand in editing, I have a bunch of wonderful authors that I look forward to working with on a regular basis. I’d never give that up!

Q: Finish this sentence: Romance is.......
A: A real part of life. At least we all want it to be. Because it is, we want to read about it. Sometimes in a sweet way, sometimes in a sexy way. What would life be without love or the hope for it? This is why romance as a genre outsells every other genre. And it isn’t only women reading it. Men dream of love too. This is why romance continues to be a growing market.

Q: Ebooks or print. Do you read both? If you read ebooks, what reader do you have?
A: I read both, avidly, although I admit that I have little time for free reading – I am often found late at night reading submissions. :)

Q: What do you consider the best way for an author to do promos?
A: The most successful promotional effort – write another book. New books drive old books. Your backlist is your friend. :)

Q: Conferences and conventions. Do you attend any and how do you decide which ones to go to?
A: I attend the Romantic Times (RT) conference every year to hear new authors’ ideas and to celebrate our current authors’ successes. There’s something about the energy at RT, the mix of writers, readers and industry professionals, that makes the conference a lot of fun. Plus of course RT picks the best places – in 2014 we’ll be in New Orleans! How fun is that?

Occasionally I attend other conferences as well, I’ve always been partial to the New Jersey Romance Writer’s conference. :)

Q: What’s the one most important thing a reader/author should know about your business?
A: Etopia Press is committed to making your book the best it can be. Our editorial team works hard and we communicate with marketing to give each book the right tone, cover and blurb. We are a growing press and our books speak to our history of taking time to do things right.

Q: What are your guidelines for a writer/author to submit a book/manuscript for a review or to sell?
A: Submission guidelines can be found here: but basically I am looking for quality romance in any subgenre and heat level with a minimum 15,000 word count. The key word is quality, take the time to revise please before submitting. The second key word is romance.

Q: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. Where do you appear?
A: Come and visit me on Facebook at or on Twitter at @EtopiaPress or @NancyRedPen

Samples of Books Available from Etopia Press:

YEOMAN'S CURSE - The Kirsoval Scourge Book Two

Some things lost are too dangerous to be found.

Some call her a pirate, but Destiny calls herself treasure hunter. When she and her lover Shane Richards happen upon a derelict Kirsoval harem slave ship, they chance a salvage operation that could be the bonanza of a lifetime...or a lifetime of horror. But when it comes to Kirsoval treasure, there may be no one better suited than Richards to face the dangers. His dark violet eyes are the only hint of the Kirsoval blood that flows through his veins-the very thing that might save them, or pit Destiny against the man she loves.

Buy Link:

TO GROWL OR TO GROAN - Hidden Lines Book Two

Her gift could save a missing girl.or destroy her relationship forever.

After receiving a troubling Tarot reading, Chloe just knows something big and bad is about to happen. Her ability to communicate with animals and shape-shifters is going awry, and her growing psychic abilities are beginning to scare her. Despite her unease, she won't let anything interrupt her trip to Scotland to spend the holidays with her shape-shifter boyfriend's family. Jorge is everything she's always wanted, and the fire between Chloe and the passionate panther-shifter burns hot. But meeting his family has her nerves in knots.

When Jorge's sister goes missing, Chloe's psychic abilities might be the only thing that can help them find her. But things don't go as planned, and with confusing psychic visions clouding her judgment, Chloe makes a mistake and an animal is injured. And Chloe fears she might hurt Jorge as well.

Buy Link:


Secrets, scandal, and passion.

Selina Rosewall had given up on love, but while helping her brother further his merchant fleet business, she meets Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen. Their attraction is mutual, but what James wants from the relationship goes further-much further-than Selina could have expected. And she learns that in the world of the Ton, scandal and deceit are commonplace.

For Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen, it's hard to say which is more dangerous: being a spy or being considered husband material by the Ladies of the Ton. With political machinations threatening to draw England into the violent wake of the French Revolution, the last thing James expected was to fall in love with Selina Rosewall, daughter of an untitled seafaring family.

But when James' investigation stirs up a hornet's nest, can he protect Selena from danger that threatens her very life?

Buy Link:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Top Ten Things I Love About Autumn


A few months ago someone on the RB4U loop asked this question: What’s your favorite time of year? My answer was summer. And it still is. But I do like autumn. The only problem with autumn is that winter follows. If we could only get rid of January, February and March. But wait, then we’d all be living in San Diego. If only. So here are the top ten things I like about autumn, in order of importance:

10.  The clear, crisp air that dispels the pollution from the nearby chemical plants.
9.  Crockpot stews and soups with warm crusty bread.
8.  I get to wear my new cowboy boots. (Picture and story to follow).
7.  No humidity which means my hair doesn’t fall flat like it does in the summer. Unlike so many of you, I have zilch curl and body to my hair, so while you all fight the frizzies, I fight the flatties.
6.  Good time to travel. With the kids in school, the tourist places aren’t as crowded.
5.  The new TV season. I’m a TV junkie. I study TV Guide’s Fall Preview issue every year and map out my viewing schedule.
4.  The beautiful autumn foliage that paints the trees in a colorful collage that brightens every day.
3.  Pumpkin. I love pumpkin. I make pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin squares, and pumpkin bread. I drink pumpkin coffee laced with pumpkin spice creamer and I slather my pumpkin English muffins with pumpkin butter. Pumpkin ice cream is a real treat that is only available in autumn. Yum, Trader Joe’s pumpkin ice cream. As soon as I hear TJ’s has this seasonal favorite, I run out and buy it. They sell out quickly. I have a great recipe for pumpkin gingersnap ice cream which I’ll share if anyone wants it.
2. My birthday is in the fall.


1.  Thanksgiving.

Now, about those cowboy boots. I bought them brand new, tags still on, this past May at a local resale shop. I haven’t had a chance to wear them yet. You might ask: What does an East Coast born and bred lady do with a pair of cowboy boots? Heck if I know, but they are so pretty. There’s a background story here. When I was thirteen, my family took a road trip to the West Coast. We stopped off in Fallon, Nevada, a one-horse town near Reno where my father was stationed at the naval air base during WW2. Yes, there was a naval station in the middle of the desert, still is. We were walking along the one main street in Fallon and passed a shop selling cowboy boots. In the window was a beautiful pair of supple-looking brown boots in my size. I begged my parents for those boots but they said no. I understand now why they said no, but I wanted the boots. So, fifty years later, I got my boots, and here they are.

Please tell me. What are your favorite things about autumn? What don’t you like about the season? And what the heck do I do with my blue cowboy boots?

And to get into the Christmas mood, here's the blurb from my latest release, A Groom for Christmas, a sensual romance that is like a Hallmark Christmas movie with some intense love scenes.
When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancé for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift.
New York jewelry designer Graceann Palmer has two days to find a fiancé to bring home to Pennsylvania for the holidays so her matchmaking mama will quit fixing her up with jerks. The Falcon, a motorcycle-riding, leather-clad former high school crush, helped her out once before. Maybe he'll do it again.
Jake Falco, man of many mysteries, is back in town on a mission—one the people of Spirit Lake most likely won't appreciate. When Graceann presents him with her crazy scheme, it gives him something he's always wanted—a chance to get to know Graceann. It also gives him the perfect opportunity to add fuel to his project of revenge.
But as Jake and Graceann grow closer, their engagement-of-convenience begins to feel like the real deal—until Jake’s secrets are revealed.
Can a relationship that began with lies and secrets bloom like a rare Christmas rose into happily-ever-after?


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Blog: Willa Blair: Why Stop in the Middle When You Can Finish?

No, no, no.  I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong.  I'm talking about your book. 

Why is a book so easy to start and so hard to continue once you get to chapter four?  This is a topic that comes up again and again among authors I know, from aspiring authors to the multi-published.  Everyone loves the beginning of their story.  The conflict is new, the possibilities are endless, and oh, that hero!  We do love a new book boyfriend, don't we? 

And then there's the finish.  No, no, not that.  Of the book.  The ending is clear.  The path to the ending is muddy, full of pitfalls, and confused with sidetracks that lead nowhere. 

Some of us write outlines.  They're great, but they don't stop us from spending hours perfecting the opening hook, introducing the hero and heroine, setting up the initial conflict, and polishing the first three chapters until they shine.  Then hitting the proverbial wall.  Is this sounding familiar to anybody?  Yes, of course.  You're all nodding. 

Here are a few tricks I've learned.  When I get stuck, I sometimes resort to the tried and true tactic of putting the book away.  It may go in a drawer for days, weeks or months until I can look at it with a fresh eye.   By then, I've thought long and hard and come up with a solution.  Or I've ignored it, let my subconscious work on it, and come up with a solution.  At least, that's the plan.

But that's chancy, and it wastes a lot of writing time. 

A better tactic is to move your hero and heroine to a new location (road trip!), or to introduce a new character who will add new
 complications to the plot, such as an old lover, a new villain (worse than the old villain), or another person who needs to be rescued.  That fresh element may do the trick.

An even better tactic is to skip ahead and write a scene that you know will be fun to write.  That scene may be a turning point in the book's central conflict, but I've found that a sex scene usually works.  Once you (ahem) get your juices flowing again, you can return to the scene that had you stumped and write it.  Or you may choose to delete it and adjust your plot to include some better idea you've had since you last left that scene.  Either way, you're forging ahead again.

From there, you'll be well on your way to reaching your goal and typing 'The End.'  And won't that feel great?

Willa Blair is the best-selling and award-winning author of Scottish romance with a paranormal twist, set in the 16th century Highlands, when the old ways, and old talents, still shaped events.

She always wished she had several psi talents, such as reading her husband’s mind, cleaning house by simply thinking about it, and flying. But alas, no. So she endows her historical romance characters with special talents and lives vicariously through them. She loves reading and writing romance novels set in the past, present and future.

Donal MacNabb is loyal to his adopted Lathan clan, yet he resents being a pawn in their treaty negotiations with the struggling MacKyries. The MacKyrie clan needs his skills as an arms master, but its Laird is bartering for more than Donal is prepared to give.

Ellie MacKyrie knows the Lathan treaty will help protect her clan from the neighbor determined to seize her holdings any way he can—including forcing her into marriage. But she has another reason to want the Lathan alliance. She has Seen the stubborn Donal MacNabb reaching for her in her dreams.

While Donal fights to save a clan in trouble, his desire for the MacKyrie Seer wars with his obligation to his Laird. Before she is forced into a marriage that will destroy her clan, Ellie must find the heart behind Donal’s gruff exterior and convince him he is the man of her dreams.

Highland Seer's official release date is 1 November.  Until then, it's on sale on Amazon for $2.99.  Buy link:
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The wolves are out again

October 25
Where? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ellora's Cave and all digital bookstore
Branded By Lust, the fourth book in the Night Seekers series

Logan Tanner is on a mission to track down the legendary Chupacabra. Part of Night Seekers, a group of former law enforcement members who’ve lost loved ones to the terrifying devil beast, Logan will stop at nothing to find and eliminate the threat. Until a complication arises—a sexy complication by the name of Rebecca Black, a recent addition to the team, equally determined to kill the monster wreaking havoc in the Montana wilderness.
Bound by purpose, neither Logan nor Rebecca are prepared for the red-hot chemistry between them, the lust that’s turning into love. But hunting the Chupacabra is dangerous work…perhaps a task too dangerous for their passion to endure.

Logan leaned back in the well-upholstered seat in the luxury jet, the expensive engines a muted hum in the background. He allowed himself a brief look at her, enjoying the image of her relaxed body.
I’m sending Rebecca with you.
Craig’s words still echoed in his head. It had taken every bit of discipline to keep his face blank and simply nod. Did he want her with him? Oh, fuck, yes. He wanted her in Montana with him. By his side. Next to him. In his bed.
Not on the assignment sheet, Tanner.
But he couldn’t ignore the fact that from the moment he’d met her when he and Sophia landed in Maine his cock had been sending him messages. And the more he worked with her, the more he got to know her, he realized it wasn’t just lust that was gripping him. Although that was certainly a big part of it. No, it was a lot more than that. He’d never believed you could make an instant emotional connection with someone. A person who filled a place inside you that you hadn’t even known was empty.  But then he’d met Rebecca and he knew deep inside himself that being alone with her in Montana would be a real challenge.
On the other hand, what if she felt the same way? He’d caught a look in her eyes once or twice, a certain smile, almost a silent message. Did she feel that same connection? That same electricity that fried every one of his nerves? Was he misinterpreting things because he wanted her so badly?
He watched her now, her eyes closed, catching a short nap after the whirlwind of preparations, racing for the helo and hauling ass so the jet could take off.  Her soft honey-colored hair curled about her face and fell to her shoulders. Thick lashes hid eyes that he knew were a brilliant emerald green and there was a tiny dimple at the left side of her sensuous mouth that winked when she smiled.
She’d removed her jacket before buckling herself into her seat and the dark green sweater she was wearing draped softly over full breasts that his hands itched to cradle in his palms. Her legs were stretched out, feet resting on the opposite seat, and he could see the line of her nicely rounded hips and slender legs beneath the soft wool slacks.
In Maine they’d been so busy with the killings he hadn’t had a chance to really pursue the situation with her. He’d hoped after they got back to Desolation Ranch and were debriefed he could take a couple of days of down time and fly back to Presque Isle. Look her up.
When Clint and Sophia had announced their plans to marry he realized Rebecca would be coming to Texas for at least a few days. Then Craig told them he’d invited her to join the team and the opportunity Logan had been looking for presented itself quickly. He hated the fact that another body had been added to the count. But he also was aware it was bound to happen until they found the master lair of the creature, the humans they were beginning to realize were behind it and completely eradicated everything. Until they did they’d be following its trail as they were doing now.
Tracking the beast was their number one objective. Since the killings in Maine the team had pulled out the maps of previous sites and studied them, coming to some conclusions about area and distance. He hoped this would help them when he got to Montana. With each killing site they gathered a little more information.
But even though this was a top priority he knew he couldn’t disregard his feelings for Rebecca. He had to be very careful because if he was misreading the signs he’d be stuck in a situation that would be uncomfortable for both of them. Business first, as always. But others on the team who’d been sent on assignment had managed to find their mates. He was hoping for the same thing for himself.
He shifted in his seat, the sudden constriction of his jeans against his cock and balls uncomfortable. If he didn’t get himself under control pretty soon he’d end up in the bathroom jacking off and how low class was that? Besides, as far as he was concerned this was about a lot more than sex. He’d have to bury the wolf and his animal instincts pretty deep to approach this properly.
Rebecca sighed in her sleep, her magnificent breasts rising and falling slightly as she did so and Logan had all he could do to keep from reaching over and caressing them. He wanted to span her waist with his hands and run them down the length of her legs.
Jesus, Tanner. Keep your mind on business.
He looked at his watch. At the speed of the new Gulfstream G650 he figured they’d be in Great Falls in another thirty minutes. Good. Maybe the frigid air would get his mind off his dick ­and Rebecca’s tempting body.
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