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Friday, February 15, 2019

Kat Martin

Today we welcome the fabulous Kat Martn 
With her brand new release, THE CONSPIRACY
I always think it's great to get the background on a story so thanks, Kat for providing this.

Researching Columbia
Sometimes what you think is going to be a great idea for a novel turns out to be a whole lot of work!  That’s what happens when you realize the idea you are now in the middle of isn’t going to work the way you thought it would.
In THE CONSPIRACY, I got the idea for a book that started in Texas, moved to the Caribbean, and ended up in Venezuela.  With all the trouble country is having, I thought it would be a great setting for a Romantic Thriller.  
Unfortunately, after I was well into the book and started doing the necessary research for that segment of the story, I realized the geography I needed and the rural setting didn’t exist in Venezuela.  I
I spent days digging around in South America, looking for a rainforest that could be reasonably reached from the Caribbean island of Aruba.  Nothing worked.  
Finally, I realized there actually was spot that exactly fit the image in my head.  (This happens to writers all the time.  No one knows why.) The spot was in Colombia, a place I had no desire to write about, but fit the story exactly.  
So I went to work researching a remote area of Columbia accessible from Aruba.  
Chase Garrett, the hero of THE CONSPIRACY, with the help of Harper Winston, the woman who hires him to find her missing brother, wind up in extreme danger in the  Columbian tropical forest.  It’s a very unusual place that required hours of research, but in the end, it was worth it.
I had my work cut out for me, finding which animals, reptiles, and birds lived in the area.  Reading about the customs of the indigenous tribes, and the politic.  Rebel armies inhabit the forest and they don’t like intruders.  
The research made THE CONSPIRACY one of the most challenging books I’ve written, but hopefully its one of my most interesting.  I hope you’ll look for THE CONPIRACY, the first of my Maximum Security series, and that you enjoy.  Until next time, very best wishes and happy reading, Kat    

And now a taste of the book
Chase watched the willowy blonde walk out of his office.  With her sleek pale blond hair, delicate features, and perfect complexion, she wasn't just pretty, she was lovely in the extreme.  He clamped down on a thread of sexual heat as she disappeared from view. 
It surprised him.  He remembered hearing talk at the country club before she moved to Houston.  Rumor had it Harper Winston was an ice queen.  Her ex-boyfriend made jokes about taking a dead fish to bed.  Aside from being slightly irritated on her behalf as a former friend of her brother's, he hadn't paid much attention.  
Seeing her today, he wondered.  The woman who had come into his office to help her brother was passionately determined, willing to put herself in danger to find the brother she obviously loved.
He couldn't help but admire her.  And it made him doubt what her ex and the country club crowd had said.  All that fire had come from somewhere deep inside.  Maybe it just took the right man to stir the flames.
The thought didn't sit well.  The pull of attraction he had felt last night had only grown stronger today, reminding him of the first time he had seen her all those years ago. 
She'd just turned sixteen that day.  He'd gone with her brother to her birthday party, he and Michael, both twenty one, had just graduated from Yale.  He'd thought she looked like an angel. 
Unfortunately, an angel who was his best friend's sister, way too young and completely out of his reach.  
Over the years he and Michael had gone their separate ways, Chase ending up in law enforcement, a life-long passion, Michael sliding deeper and deeper into drugs and alcohol--thanks to his no-good father.
Knox Winston was a gangster in expensively tailored business clothes.  His ruthless, shady dealings had made him obscenely rich, but at a tremendous cost. His wife had committed suicide. His son had overdosed more than once. 
How the man had escaped prosecution for so many years was something Chase could not comprehend.
After his friendship with Michael had ended, Chase had stayed away from the family and until this morning, had every intention of keeping it that way.  Now a pair of big blue eyes clouded with worry and memories of a man he had once loved like a brother were dragging him back into the fold.
Chase silently cursed.  Grabbing his navy blazer off the back of the chair, he shrugged it on over his jeans and shirt and walked out into the open area the guys called the bullpen. 
Nine oak desks arranged in rows of three were occupied by the independent contractors who worked at Maximum Security. Antique farming tools hung on the walls, along with framed photos of the ranch Chase owned with Reese and Brandon out in the Texas Hill Country.  
"Mindy, I need you to cancel my appointments for the next three days.  I may be gone longer.  If I am, I'll call and let you know."
"I'll take care of it, boss."  Mindy was a temp who had been working at The Max less than three weeks, replacing a long-time employee who had retired to spend time with her grandkids.  
Mindy was good.  He was thinking of bringing her aboard full time.  
"If a problem comes up, go to Bran or Jase. They should be able to handle it."  
Turning, he walked over to his youngest brother, who had just gotten off the phone.  Bran was a PI who specialized in person protection, law enforcement being a tradition on their mother's side of the family.  The Devlins, including Chase's grandfather, great grandfather, and a handful of uncles, had all worked as cops, FBI, or been career military men.  
His younger brothers were two very different people, Bran a former special ops soldier turned bodyguard, Reese the extremely successful businessman who ran Garrett Resources, the Texas-based oil company founded by their great-grandfather.  Both brothers had blue-eyes, but Reese's hair was black, Bran's dark brown.  Both were an inch taller than Chase's six-foot-two-inch frame.  

"Something's come up," Chase said to Bran.  "I'm leaving the country for a few days, maybe longer.  I need you to keep an eye on things while I'm gone."
"No problem.  What's up?"
"Missing person's case.  Michael Winston's disappeared.  His sister needs help finding him."
Bran grunted.  "Probably off drunk somewhere or loaded on drugs."
"According to Harper, he's turned his life around. Been clean five years."
Bran sat up a little straighter.  "Well that's good to hear.  He used to be a great guy before he went haywire."
"For his sister's sake, I hope he hasn't fallen off the wagon."
One of Bran's dark eyebrows went up.  "His sister?  I thought I recognized the luscious little blonde who was in here earlier. Seems to me you had a yen for her way back when."
"She was Michael's sister and way too young. Plus she's a Winston.  That family's nothing but trouble."
"So why'd you take the case?"
"Moment of weakness, I guess.  Or maybe for old time's sake.  Worst of it is Harper's going with me."
Brandon laughed.  "Jeez, big brother, you must have a masochistic streak."
He sighed just thinking about the hours he would be spending with the tempting little blonde. 

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Meet Kat Martin
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of
California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Her last novel, BEYOND CONTROL, hit both big lists … NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST as well as the USA TODAY BEST-SELLING BOOKS LIST. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love or Romance? by Marianne Stephens

                                             HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
 The words Romance and Love seem to be interchanged for each other in "naming" books...but for me, they're two different types of stories.

I classify romance as the struggle to find love; that rocky road to happiness...with a happily-ever-after ending. Love stories can also be about falling in love; rocky road to get there...but can entail details not fit for romance stories.

Romance stories don't include married couples and cheating on your spouse. Somehow, people consider adultery "justifiable" and call having an affair a "love" event. Huh? Or, the hero or heroine have multiple partners throughout their coupled journey to "find" true love with each other. Sorry, I just don't get it!

I'm not talking about menage romances, which seem to have a big following. I'm talking about sneaking around and having sex with someone else, other than your "loved one/ones"...the main characters in the story.

Movies/Books to consider:
"The Bridges of Madison Country". Why would anyone consider this a romantic story/movie? Since when does a married woman having an affair become acceptable and turn into something other than what it disregard for marriage vows and spouse. Okay. Maybe it's a "love" story, but I find nothing romantic or fun about it.

"Titanic": Great romantic scenes and the hero sacrifices himself to save the heroine. But, unhappy ending...a love story.

"Brokeback Mountain": Adultery. Doesn't matter if he cheats on his wife with another's still cheating. Love story.

"Gone With the Wind": I wanted to strangle Scarlett throughout the book/movie. Nothing heroine-like, only selfish attitude. Rhett was a hero for finally leaving her. Love story, not romance.

"Casa Blanca": Oldie but goodie. Tear-jerker, unhappy ending. Love story.

"While You Were Sleeping". I love this movie. This is a romance. No one is married, and even though the heroine is faking an engagement to one brother who's lost his memory, she fights her attraction to the second brother...her true romance partner. And he fights the same attraction. Only after the truth is blurted out at the almost wedding do the hero and heroine face the truth and are free to love each other.

"Dirty Dancing": budding relationship, separation and sadness, but happy ending. Romance.

"Pretty Woman": magnetic pull of mutual attraction, rocky road leading to black moment, happy ending. Romance.

"Emma", "Pride and Prejudice", and the list goes on. Happy endings. No adultery. Romance stories.

The books we write as romance authors need that happily-ever-after to satisfy readers. I want it in a book I read and my books present it to readers. The outcome of any book or movie classifies it as romance or love story...and I see a definite dividing line between the two.

My opinions...and I bet others think differently. So, what about you? How do you differentiate between a Romance and Love story or movie?
Photos: Flickr:AuntOwwee, Emily792872, and toephoto photostreams

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Be Mine

I've heard Valentine's Day called a "Hallmark Holiday," by someone who assumed the celebration was a modern invention, mainly meant to sell greeting cards. In fact, it's much older. How old, we don't really know. There are theories.

The early Christian churches recognized at least three martyred saints called Valentinus or some variant of the name. None of those were particularly romantic in nature, but may have been put on Saint's Day calendar, giving us the name. Another theory is that the Chur
ch at this time slipped Saint Valentine's Day in as a way to stop the Romans from celebrating the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which involved naked young men, sacrificed goats, and other mating and fertility rites. Despite the obvious seasonal and thematic overlap, there's no actual historical evidence for this as a direct predecessor.

The earliest written reference to the romantic holiday come from the 14th century, when Chaucer wrote a poem called Parlement of Foules. (This is about FOWLS, or birds, not FOOLS in modern English) "For this was on seynt Volantynys day. Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.” Apparently bird-mating season brought about similar behavior in humans. In 1415, a French nobleman imprisoned in the Tower of London wrote to his wife in France, calling her his "very gentle Valentine." Even Shakespeare brings it up, when Ophelia calls herself Hamelet's CalentineObviously by this point in time, the holiday was well and truly entrenched, without a greeting card in sight.

The Victorians, of course, were into all things sentimental. Before cards were the big seller, there were flowers, of course, and other holdovers from romance past, such as locks of hair and love tokens. Love tokens were coins, often silver, that had been modified by carving in of initials, wearing off mint marks, and sometimes drilling holes so they could be worn on chains or ribbons. In Victorian times, hair locks were often made into elaborate artwork or even jewelry. For a new lover, though, tucking a small snippet of hair in a locket might be enough of a symbol.

Less expensive printing and mailing brought about the rise of the Valentine card, at first a single sheet that could then be folded and addressed without a separate envelope. No longer did you have to write some love-poetry, you could buy it ready-made on a colorful backdrop. Amercan card companies followed suit. Chocolates, long the preserve of the very wealthy, also became mass-produced in this era and ran advertizing campaigns linking them with Valentines as an appropriate romantic gift. At the higher end of the price spectrum, jewelers went even further, selling the very best gems to the very best (or at least richest) lovers. Today, in the developed world it is a massive marketing and merchandising season.

Other kinds of love and affection also get some attention, especially among a younger audience. My first grade granddaughter is bringing them for her class, while I have fond memories of Valentine stuffed animals from my father, and a snitched treasure from the big candy heart he brought my mom. I hope that whomever you love brings you a special Valentine, whether it's diamonds or a kiss, a hand-drawn card or warm hug. Love, in all its forms, is worth the celebration.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Roses For Valentine's Day

Posted by Author R. Ann Siracusa

So, it’s Sunday, February 10, and you haven’t bought your special women a Valentine’s Day gift yet? Well, don’t worry. There’s always chocolates.
She loves chocolate, but she’ll say I’m sabotaging her diet.
What about champagne?
Same problem.
Diamond earrings?
Whoa. I don’t want to get too serious too fast. I’m not ready for that.
Let’s see. Ladies love getting flowers. You can always pick up roses at Costco.
Or can you? I guess you can, but here are a few things to know in advance.
Those days of picking up a gift at random are gone, Romeo. That’s one of the problems with the internet. There’s too much information out there. Today’s modern woman is probably going to know – of find out – the meaning of each of the flowers you might give her. She’ll know what each color means. Plus, you have to be cautious of how many of the flowers are in the bouquet – the number is symbolic too. And she’ll probably expect you to know also.
Sorry. Nothing is easy. Plus, I heard on the news that if you haven’t already ordered flowers, it may be too late to get what you want. If not, the florist may recommend some other types of flowers instead of roses. I doubt florists have allowed the "meaning" of any flower to be negative, but it might symbolize something you don't want to say. These alternatives are popular in 2019.
Anthurium - Symbolizes hospitality. It is also used to indicate happiness and abundance.
CarnationSymbolizes ride and beauty. A red carnation symbolizes love, pride and admiration; a pink carnation symbolizes the love of a woman or a mother; a purple carnation symbolizes capriciousness; a yellow carnation symbolizes disdain, rejection or disappointment; while a white carnation symbolizes innocence and pure love. A striped carnation conveys refusal.
Chrysanthemum - Symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life. A red chrysanthemum conveys love; a white chrysanthemum symbolizes truth and loyal love while a yellow chrysanthemum symbolizes slighted love. And … if you’re in a European country, this flower symbolizes death and is only used for funerals. Just ‘sayin’.
Daisy - Symbolizes innocence and purity. It conveys loyal and love. Gerbera Daisy specifically conveys cheerfulness.

Lilac - Symbolizes youthful innocence and confidence. White lilac symbolizes humility and innocence, field lilac symbolizes charity while purple lilac symbolizes first love.
Lily - Symbolizes purity and refined beauty. White lily symbolizes modesty and virginity, orange lily symbolizes passion, yellow lily symbolizes gaiety while Lily of the Valley symbolizes sweetness and purity of heart.
Orchid - Symbolizes exotic beauty, refinement, thoughtfulness and mature charm. It also symbolizes proud and glorious femininity.

Rose - Symbolizes love in all its various forms, but the specific symbolism varies based on color, variety and number. 

Tulip - Signifies a declaration of love, fame, and perfect love.

Maybe you’ll luck out and find a florist with all varieties of roses. After all, roses are best for Valentine’s Day. But what color?
Red – Symbolizes love and desire.
Yellow – Symbolizes joy, friendship, the promise of a new beginning.
White – Symbolizes purity, innocence, reverence, a new beginning, a fresh start.
Pink rose – Symbolizes grace, happiness, gentleness.
Lavender rose – Symbolizes love at first sight. I am enchanted by you
Orange rose - Symbolizes desire and enthusiasm.
Coral or Peach rose – Symbolizes friendship, modesty, sympathy.
Deep, dark crimson or Black rose – Symbolizes mourning.
Blue Rose - Symbolizes an unattainable dream.

You’re getting close but not off the hook yet. If roses are your choice you have to pay attention to what that means as well.
A single rose – Signifies a great compliment; it represents ‘love at first sight’ and is often given to the ladies during the first date. It shows a definite romantic interest.
Three roses – Express contentment from being with the other person. This bouquet is often reserved for couples with some mileage behind their backs.
Five roses - Being given five roses is the moment most women dream about. They symbolize true love. So, if you are on the receiving end of this gift, pinch yourself, it is really happening.
Six rosesShows the person on the giving end that you want to take the relationship to the next level. This bouquet confesses unrevealed tinges of love and passion.
Ten roses -Symbolizes two lovers meant for each other; a perfect love.
Twelve roses – A dozen roses symbolize wholeness; the desire of the gift-giver to spend their whole life with their beloved. It’s equivalent to a marriage proposal.
Fifteen roses – Symbolizes a feeling of regret one might harbor following an argument with their special someone.
Twenty roses – Signifies that your love it sincere. Throw in another, making it twenty-one and you get the mind-disarming message of eternal and unconditional love – a genuine gesture of appreciation for the other person.

If this is all too complicated, maybe you should try the diamond earrings.

Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue

Sources: ck-

Saturday, February 9, 2019

And The Oscar Goes To... #RB4U #Movies

And The Oscar Goes To...

Are you a movie fan? Each week, I go to a movie and then review it on the local radio station. Throughout the year, I see some amazing movies and some real duds. (I also eat a great deal of popcorn!) 

On February 24th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will present a gold trophy to the best of the best for 2018. This year is the 91st presentation of the Oscars. Can you believe they have been around for so long?

Whether you love movies or not, the Oscars is a sight to behold from the gorgeous gowns to the musical numbers. This year there won't be a host which hasn't happened in thirty years.

There are some amazing movies and actors up for awards this year. Here's the complete list of nominations:

I've seen many of the pictures up for best picture and have my own thoughts on what movies and actors will win. 

For best picture: The Favorite
Best Actor: Rami Malek
Best Actress: Glenn Close
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali
Best Supporting Actress: Regina King
Best Director: Spike Lee

You can check out my reviews of the movies I've seen on my website under Melissa's Morning After Movie Reviews. Or you can listen to my reviews on WHMI (I'm live on Monday mornings at 8:40 am).

It's fun to see if my guesses are correct. Do you have your own predictions? Which of the movies have you seen? Do you agree with the nominations? Were there any movies which were missing?

Schoolteacher, Melanie Whitman’s dating life is in shambles when her boyfriend and former boss dumps her. Her best friend arranges for Master Draikoh San, matchmaker extraordinaire, to provide her with a night to remember.

Breakout star of the third season of the reality TV show Laguna Nights Cole Hayes was burned by the limelight and started a family. After a messy divorce and looking to move back into the dating scene, he agrees to a one-night stand.

Can Cole and Melanie create a relationship that will last a lifetime, or will their one-night stand crash in the waves of Laguna Beach?

Available in ebook and print.
Until next month,


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