I’m over on Christine Young’s blog today doing a writing interview. Stop by!
Tag Archives: contemporary romance books
Talk about a summer treat! Strawberries, a fab new writer-friend, and new release all rolled into one! Today I’ve got one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs, Margaret Ann Spence, visiting with me and she has a brand new book that released TODAY, titled LIPSTICK ON THE STRAWBERRY. What a fabulous, fun title!! Read on and find out about this lovely writer, then stick around for a little sweet, strawberry goodness as she gives you an excerpt from the book.
Margaret, The Writer
- What drives you to write? Can’t help myself, I’m afraid. If I don’t put words on paper every day I feel weird.
- What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why? Everyone wants to love and be loved. I like my romance a little more textured, so I write stories about women with “romantic elements.” That’s what RWA calls women’s fiction.
- What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why? I love contemporary and historical. The characters have to develop and change in relation to what’s happening to them and to the world around them.
- What’s your writing schedule? Do you write every day? I’m a morning person. Caffeine is needed to jump-start the brain cells. After I read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way, I realized “morning pages” do really work. That is, grab a cuppa and write longhand in an exercise book for half an hour. Seems to free up something.
- Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. Separate room? In the kitchen? At the dining room table? Well, given my response above, you may not be surprised to learn I am writing this on my laptop propped up on pillows in bed. You will not ever receive a photograph of this. However, later in the day I will sit on the couch or a comfy armchair. With a laptop you can write anywhere. I do make an exception of airplanes. Travel is so uncomfortable today I can’t write on a plane. But the most productive authors do take advantage of that otherwise wasted time.
- Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnel vision? I get fairly focused but don’t like distractions. Then again, my kids are grown and it is blessedly quiet around here most of the time.
- Do you listen to music while you write, and if so, what kind? If not, why not? No. I don’t listen to music because I do find it distracting. What calms me is a peaceful view out the window of my garden.
- How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current WIP? My WIP – at an early stage- involves a botanist, an animal rights activist, and a medical researcher. It’s amazing what scientists are learning about genes – that plants and animals share so many and yet there’s so much diversity. As a gardener, I’m fascinated by new research that seems to indicate that plants communicate with one another. So I started to think, if animal rights activists believe eating meat is wrong, why is eating plants better? Of course everything eats everything else. The questions started to spin around in my head, and I thought of a conflict between the characters and started to plot it out.
- Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why? In the case of the WIP, I had the core of the plot based on an idea. But in my debut novel, Lipstick on the Strawberry, published by The Wild Rose Press July 5th, the character came first. This character was in conflict with her family, particularly her father. Family life is full of conflict. I think in order to achieve independence a young person must strike out positions that are different from her parents’. But in a strict, respectable, and religious family, how can a daughter break convention without causing a rift? Shaming shadows a person, thwarting relationships until it is really confronted. That’s partly what I wanted to explore. Then I added food, for fun. My heroine is a caterer. Food is sensuous and messy and delicious, and a contrast to the cerebral. Plus, I made my heroine English because I wanted to play with the perception that British food is terrible and to show it can be good. So, to the title: Photographers do weird things to make food more visually appetizing. They spritz a cake with hairspray, decorate a pie with shaving cream, and swipe a pale strawberry with lipstick to make it glisten. When I learned that, I knew I had my book title. My caterer, Camilla, always felt unable to live up to her family’s expectations. She finds that beneath the veneer of respectability lie imperfection and secrets.
- What 3 words describe you, the writer? Writing: Helps me think. In more than three words, this means, I often don’t know what I think till I write it down.
Margaret, The Person
- Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing. I love to travel, and when I was young did a lot of crazy things that were more foolish than brave. One time, in a youth hostel, a girl asked for volunteers to help smuggle her cousin out of East Germany. I put my hand up, only to have it smartly smacked down by my friend Gail who had more sense than I did.
- Who was your first love and what age were you? I was eighteen and rebellious. My boyfriend and I would not have worked long term.
- If you could relive one day, which one would it be? Think GROUNDHOG DAY, the movie for this one – you’ll have to live it over and over and…. That’s a really great question. When I was in my twenties and living in London I signed up for a Peace Corps type of organization, thinking I must improve on my partying lifestyle. I didn’t hear for months and then got a notice informing me to bring lots of mosquito repellant because I’d be sent to help build a road for the people of Lapland. To be honest, I had to look up where Lapland was. It is in the Arctic Circle. I imagined myself up there, battling mosquitos while doing hard labor for a pittance and unable to return. I turned down this “job” offer. I sometimes think, what if I had gone up there? Could I have done some good? Or would I have been a victim of my own naivite?
- Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? For what? Why do they have them on at all? On the other hand, I love little guys in diapers, too.
- If you had to give up one necessary-can’t-live-without-it beauty item, what would it be? My lipstick! I have dark hair and pale lips make me look ghostly.
- What three words describes you, the person? Love babies, books and bright colors. (not exactly three words, I know.)
- If you could sing a song with Jimmy Fallon, what would it be? I’ll have to stay up late enough to watch Jimmy Fallon. But I understand he talks about his kids a lot so we should sing Father and Daughter by Paul Simon.
- If you could hang out with any literary character from any book penned at any time line, who would it by, why, and what would you do together?As a kid I loved Little Women. Because she had the same name and was also the oldest of four siblings, I totally identified with Meg. Of course the conventional thing was to love Jo because she was the brave one who dared to be different. But there it is, I was Meg. As it happens, one of my own children lives in Concord, Massachusetts, and I’ve visited the Orchard House, the home of Louisa May Alcott. So I’ve often imagined living there, picking apples, playing the spinet, even sitting up there in that tiny upstairs space where Louisa did her writing. We’d sit up there and chat about writing. Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy all represent bits of Louisa May Alcott. Her characters are really alive to me.
I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
- Favorite sound Children’s laughter.
- Least favorite sound Ring tone on a cell phone in a theater.
- Best song every written Lady in Red by Eric Clapton. Sexiest song ever!
- Worst song ever written By December 23, Jingle Bells is the last song I want to hear.
- Favorite actor and actress Actor: Ethan Hawke. Actress: Meryl Streep without question, followed by Cate Blanchette. Ever notice how male actors often just play themselves, over and over, while these two actresses blend themselves into the characters they’re playing, like chameleons. Maybe because women are trained to hide their true feelings?
- Who would you want to be for 1 day and why? (It can be anyone living or dead) At the moment I am enthralled with Emma Stone’s performance in La La Land. So I guess I’d like to be her the day she realized she’d nailed the tap dancing.
- What turns you on? Someone with a sense of humor.
- What turns you off? Someone who takes him or herself too seriously.
- Give me the worst 5 words ever heard on a first date ( here’s mine: “Is that your real hair?”) “I hate when people are late.” Not only does it put the recipient of those words on the defensive – did I keep you waiting? – but it indicates a mean and judgmental person. Should have feigned a headache immediately.
- What’s your version of a perfect day? Planning, cooking and eating a wonderful dinner with friends, preferably on a patio with a water view. With or without the view however, there’s sheer sensual pleasure in setting a beautiful table, gathering and arranging colorful flowers from the garden, the sound of music selected by the music maestro of the house, my husband, the delicious waft of dinner from the kitchen, the hugs when the friends are greeted, the evening getting off to a great start.
Estranged from her English family, Camilla Fetherwell now lives in the United States and owns a successful catering business. Returning home for her father’s funeral, she reunites with her first love, Billy, whom she hasn’t seen since her father broke up their teenage romance.
Billy seems eager to resume their love affair. But after one blissful night together, things take a turn. Camilla suspects her father may have led a secret life, and when Billy reveals something he, too, has discovered, her apprehension grows. Billy holds her heart, but their relationship might be tainted by what her father hid. A reunion seems impossible.
Her life feels as splattered as her catering apron. As she watches her food stylist make a strawberry look luscious with a swipe of lipstick, Camilla wonders if a gloss has been put over a family secret? Can she and Billy survive what’s underneath?
My fingers searched the back of the drawer and felt something glossy. I pulled, and saw in my hand a colored photograph of a woman who looked to be about the age I was now. She had hair the color of fallen leaves. Only the woman’s shoulders were visible below the head. Her blue and green scarf reflected the color of her laughing eyes. In the background was the blurred green of a field. I flicked the photo over. The penciled initials N.B. were the only notation.
A cold prickle ran down my back as I stared at it.
I tucked the photo into my pocket. How peculiar was it to find this woman’s image stuffed in the back of a drawer? Daddy had gone to pains to hide the picture.
In one hand, I lifted the plastic bags of trash, picked up the passport in the other, and went to find Tilda.
“Would you mind if I went home and rested?” I asked. “I feel a headache coming on.”
“Yes, of course. What did you find in there? Oh, good, Daddy’s passport. I’d like to keep that. How thoughtful of you. Anything else of interest?”
I turned so Tilda couldn’t see and fingered the pocketed photo. The letters N.B. intrigued me. Was this just the acronym to remind our father of something important? Or did it mean something else?
“No,” I said and hurried toward the door.
Margaret Ann Spence was born in Australia and has made the United States home for many years. In Lipstick on the Strawberry, she takes as backdrops Boston, Massachusetts and Cambridge, England, cities she’s lived in and loved. Lipstick won First Place, Romantic Elements Category, in the 2015 Beacon Contest, sponsored by the First Coast Romance Writers.
You can find Margaret here:
Peggy here: Margaret, thanks so much for joining me today. Your book – and you! – sound fabulous! Much luck and keep writing.
Sometimes I seriously wonder why God put the desire to write inside my heart. Some days, like today, I question the logic of what I’m trying to accomplish with writing.
Is it a test, to see if I can be dedicated to an end product?
Is it supposed to get me motivated to live a better life? Be a better person? Practice better faith?
Should I be feeling frustrated, incompetent, and inadequate? Are these emotions necessary for me to experience in order to get to the finish line, literally, and write the end?
Or is it all about the journey, the roadmap, the ups and downs that will eventually get me there?
Whatever the reason I have the desire to write ingrained in my soul, there are days like today, when the words won’t come, the dialogue is cliched, and the syntax is unrecognizable as English, that I question WHY.
Why am I doing this to myself?
Why am I making myself crazy and heart-sick?
Why am I wasting my time chasing a dream to commercial success that appears all but delusional from my perspective?
Just at that moment I’m ready to chuck my laptop out the window I remember the real reason I write. It’s not for commercial success. It’s not because I like seeing my name emblazoned across a book jacket ( although that is nice!). It’s not because I’m so conceited I want to jump up and scream “Look at me! I can write” just for the attention.
No. I write because all these stories swimming around in my head are begging to be set free. I write because I love to. I simply, uncategorically, love to. There is nothing else in the world that gives me such joy and pleasure as penning a perfect line of dialogue or a description that gets heads nodding in recognition when they read it.
So. Please excuse my subtle rant. I’m off to write now.
I’ll be chatting about My Candy Hearts Book, 3 WISHES
Valentine’s Day is chocolatier Chloe San Valentino’s favorite day of the year. Not only is it the busiest day in her candy shop, Caramelle de Chloe, but it’s also her birthday. Chloe’s got a birthday wish list for the perfect man she pulls out every year: he’d fall in love with her in a heartbeat, he’d be someone who cares about people, and he’d have one blue eye and one green eye, just like her. So far, Chloe’s fantasy man hasn’t materialized, despite the matchmaking efforts of her big, close-knit Italian family. But this year for her big 3-0 birthday, she just might get her three wishes.
At about five minutes of ten I was almost ready to turn the Closed sign on the door when it opened. I heard Janie’s breath hitch and turned from where I was sweeping up. Staying open late is always a risk, with the thought thieves will invade at the end of the day.
If the guy standing at the door glancing around the shop was a thief, then Dio mio, I wanted to be robbed.
About six foot, his hair was the color of a deer’s pelt, with autumnal golds and browns shot together in a glorious patchwork that grazed the collar of his jacket and curled a little at the ends. He wore a faded brown bomber jacket over a shirt I couldn’t see, but he had shoulders almost as wide as my doorway. A pair of well-worn jeans covered his mile long legs, and the fabric on the stress points at his knees was practically white.
“We’re about to close,” I heard myself say. “Can I help you?”
It was at that moment he looked over at me.
His face could have been sculpted by Da Vinci or Michelangelo. A broad, smooth, forehead housed naturally arched eyebrows I knew some of my gay guy friends would have paid a fortune to have on their own faces. His cheeks were carved from marble, high, smooth and deep. And his mouth, mother-of-God, his mouth. Full, thick beautiful lips sat perfectly over a chin with a dent you could shove a button into and have it stay put.
“Sorry,” he said, those fabulous lips pulling up a little shyly at the corners. “I got stuck at work and couldn’t get here until now. I’ll be quick. Promise.”
So here’s the thing: the guy was gorgeous. But even if he’d looked like a frog with raw antipasto smothering his face, I would have dropped to my knees when he opened his mouth. Warm honey, a shot of raw whiskey, and a little hot puff of smoke wafted from his mouth like a fine and rare brandy being decanted.
The Candy Hearts books are all on sale until Feb. 14 at The Wild Rose Press
When I’m not chatting on line you can find me here:
SO, every year, the HOUSTON BAY AREA RWA Chapter hosts a Book cover contest titled, you got it! JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER.
This year, two of my current titles, A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS and THE VOICES OF ANGELS are among the entries for the Contemporary Romance category. Both covers were designed by uber talent Rae Monet and I’d reallyreallyreally appreciate your vote! I’ve enclosed the link above. I’m on page 2 in the contemporary category – just scroll down once you’re there.
When I’m not being shameless, you can find me here:
I love a good interview with a great author; getting to know them better, finding out what makes their writing come to life. This is like nectar of the Gods for me! Recently, I did an interview with one of my all time favorite authors AND PEOPLE(!) Lorelei Confer.
If you haven’t met her yet or read her books, you have no idea what you are missing. This woman is a powerhouse – in person and on the page! She writes romantic suspense ( one of my favorite sub-genres to enjoy by a blazing fire at midnight!). Read all about her first, then enjoy a little snippet of her newest release, SECRETS AND DECEPTIONS
Donna, The Writer:
- What drives you to write? The stories in my head I just need to get out.
- What genre(s) of Romance do your write, and why? I write romantic suspense. It is the genre I prefer to read along with some thrillers from Harlan Coben and Andrew Gross. I love the sweet love story but like the conflict to be suspenseful and use fear as a real emotion; live or die situations.
- What genre(s) of Romance do you read, and why? See above
- What’s your writing schedule? I usually write everyday but not on a daily schedule. Sometimes its early in the morning, and other times late afternoon. My stories, plot and characters mull around in my head for days, weeks or months sometimes before I actually take the time to put them down on paper. Once a week I skip a day to mentor other writers who need help with plotting or characterization.
- Give us a glimpse of the surroundings where you write. I write in the living room sitting on the end of the couch, which automatically reclines. To the left is a wall of windows with a fantastic view. Sometimes, while writing I find myself daydreaming about my story and it helps me get into the scene, into the characters head and into the environment. Makes it so much more realistic.
- Are you the kind of writer who needs total quiet to compose, or are you able to filter out the typical sounds of the day and use your tunnelvision? I do like it quiet when I write at home but have no problem writing at Panera Bread or Crispers or Starbucks. I’ve even taken advantage of the opportunity to glance around and use some of the body language and facial expressions from others around me.
- Do you listen to music while you write? Not at home but I do enjoy music when I’m out writing at a different place, i.e. Panera Bread. I prefer country music and enjoy the lyrics of a love gone wrong or a how much a broken heart hurts, and what one does to forget a bad relationship.
- How did you come up with the plotline/idea for your current work? I began this series, Saddle Creek, with the idea of four young men graduating high school together and going off on their own; each going their own way but remaining loyal to one another regardless of which direction they are led. This book, Secrets and Deceptions, is the third in the series and this young man can’t keep or find a job he likes so decides to enlist in the military. He leaves the love of his life, his high school sweetheart, and ends up being gone over four years. When he returns, of course, his friends’ lives have changed and his high school sweetheart is with another man. The story unfolds with plot twists and turns and sexy, speechless confrontations. As they both try to determine if there have been too many years apart, two many secrets, and too many deceptions.
- Which comes first for you – character or plot? And why? Plot comes first, then character development. Once that happens they, the characters, drive by them.
- What 3 words describes you, the writer? Sincere. Caring. Loyal.
Donna, The Lovely Person:
- Tell us one unusual thing about yourself – not related to writing! I love scrapbooking. I get to tell many stories through pictures and I love genealogy. I like to know the history behind the story of my ancestors.
- Who was your first love and what age were you? My husband, knight in shining armor, my high school sweetheart, and my first love. We met at school and I asked him to my eighth grade dance, (not sure how old I was) my dad dropped me off and we danced and held hands. He kissed my cheek before the last dance was over and I never forgot. Summer arrived and he worked, bought a car and we lost touch. In eleventh grade I asked his sister how he was doing and that night he called and we talked for hours. He asked me out on a date. I wasn’t sure about going since it had been a couple years but he was persistent and picked me up after school the next day. We’ve been together ever since, made it through the Viet Nam war, raised two boys, have grandchildren, and have traveled many highways together,
- If you could relive one day, which one would it be? ….Our wedding day. We eloped in between his two tours of duty in Viet Nam and it was like it ‘could be our last time together’ and extremely emotional and memorable.
- Do you like a guy in boxers, briefs, or commando? Commando, of course!
- What three words describes you, the person? Loving, sympathetic, truthful
I love the Actor’s Studio show on Bravo, so this is my version of it:
Favorite sound Doorbell
- Least favorite sound car horn
- Best song every written Lay, Lady, Lay by Bob Dylan
- Worst song ever written Don’t Worry, Be Happy (too monotonous)
- Favorite actor and actress Antonio Banderas and Ann Margaret
- What turns you on? Great visits and talks with friends
- What turns you off? Loud crowds
- What’s your version of a perfect day? Sleeping late, morning sex, lazy breakfast, reading and quiet time.
Read that last answer again, folks. Le sigh!.
Here’s a sneak peak at her newest release, SECRETS and DECEPTIONS
When Avri Lawrence’s high school sweetheart leaves her to enlist in the military, she nurses a broken heart. When Dillon returns four years later, their attraction to each other is stronger than ever, but life’s experiences has changed them. When her life is threatened she’s not sure he’ll come to her rescue or like what he finds. She has secrets and she’s not ready to share.
Dillon Davidson wants to advance in his military career but didn’t plan on having to kill so many people to do so. On a Special Opps mission he’s captured and tortured for eighteen long months. After his escape, he ends his four-year career in deception. He wants to start over with his soul mate, Avri in Saddle Creek, Wyoming.
But are there too many years of separation, too many secrets, and too many memories between them for them to overcome?
Dillon skimmed his fingers lazily over the soft supple skin of Avri’s naked thigh. The lingering fragrance of sex filled his nostrils. They only had tonight, he’d be leaving in the morning, and he couldn’t get enough of her. His heart still pounded with desire, he wanted, needed to make love to her over and over again. He wanted to run his fingers over every inch of her, all night long, wanted to fill his memory with the scent of her, remember every smooth curve, every sweet hollow of her body.
Her body quivered against his, her breath hitched and she gulped back a sob. He pulled her against his chest, whispering in her ear, “It’s going to be all right,” before kissing her neck. His throat constricted. “We’ve talked about this…remember? We’ve planned this for six months.” His voice cracked slightly. “W-we need to look forward now. When I come back, I’ll be able to get a job, a good one doing something I like. Everything will be fine.”
He blinked the dampness in his eyes away several times as he ran his fingers through her hair memorizing the softness of her wavy auburn curls, the contours of her body, and the way she fit so perfectly against him. For a moment overcome with emotion, he couldn’t speak, couldn’t console her, hell…he couldn’t console himself.
The neon light from Rosie’s Diner downstairs cast a reddish glow in her small apartment. He’d always remember this time with her–the overwhelming pleasure, the contentment–and then the painful realization hit him again, like a bomb. He had to leave her in the morning. They had tonight, a few more precious hours together that he’d never forget, before he had to leave her. Her sob split the silence; he cupped her head and caressed her cheeks and jawline, wiping away the tears with his thumbs.
She was special to him, always had been. It was as if she’d been made just for him, fulfilling all his wants and needs. She was his closest confidante, his best friend, the woman he loved, would always love…his soul mate.
“How am I going to go on without you?” Avri whispered, her voice trembling. “You mean so much to me. You’re important to my life. You are my life.”
“You won’t have time to miss me.” Dillon tried to smile. “You’re going to finish law school and study your ass off to pass the bar.” His heart dropped in his chest and his throat burned with the thought. Not being at her side for those major events in her life…well, the thought broke his heart. Leaving her was killing him. It was harder than he ever imagined it would be when he enlisted in the military.
“I’ll wait for you, I swear. And I’ll write to you every day, but you have to promise me one thing, Dillon.” She sputtered and hiccupped trying to speak. Her sadness echoed in the small space.
He hesitated. “What’s that?” Apprehension rolled through him sticking in his chest, making it hard for him to breathe. “Promise you’ll come back to me. Promise?” she pleaded.
How could he make such a promise when he didn’t know if he would come back dead or alive or damaged? “I’m not sure where I’m going or how long I’ll be gone. You know how I feel about you. I will if I can. You know that, don’t you?”
He searched for her bright green eyes in the dimness, but she’d glanced away. Pulling her closer, he left no space between their two bodies. Placing a finger beneath her chin, he turned her face toward his and bent to brush her lips. As soon as their lips touched, the kiss went from gentle to desperate. He plundered her mouth, sucking on her lips, invading her mouth with his tongue. He couldn’t get enough of her, her taste, her touch, her feel, or her scent. He ingrained them in his memory. A lasting memory; one he’d never forget.
As soon as he ended the kiss she clutched at his chest, sobbing hysterically. He held her in his arms until she fell asleep, shuddering occasionally. Finally, she quieted.
He lay beside her, too anxious to sleep. Savoring the warmth and soft skin against his, he listened to her breathing, waiting for it to even out, an indication she’d fallen asleep.
An hour or so later, he glanced at the lighted dial of his watch. It was time to go. Time to leave her.
He’d miss the Wyoming way of life, the ranch, his buddies, the horses, the small town of Saddle Creek…mostly though he’d miss her. She was the love of his life. The reason he’d enlisted in the military in the first place—to make something of himself, learn a trade and be able to hold down a job, and make her proud of him. Now he had to let her go or he wouldn’t be strong enough to walk away later. He’d signed up, and he had to honor his commitment.
Dillon carefully moved away from her, slipped out of her bed, allowed himself one last, loving look at her, but had to stifle a gasp. Moonlight blanketed Avri in an ethereal light streaming over her auburn tresses splayed across her pillow, enhancing the light freckles on her tiny tipped-up nose. The moistness of her plump lips gave him an irresistible urge to kiss her good-bye, just once more. But he didn’t dare.
Grabbing a scrap of paper and an envelope from her small desk, he wrote a note, stuffed it into the envelope and placed it on his pillow where she’d be sure to find it.
Avri rolled onto her side, but didn’t wake. He took a step toward her, longing to rob her lips the way he had most of the night. He sought control and stopped. Together their uninhibited sex was the best he’d ever had, but then perhaps it was because of how he felt about her.
Lorelei lives on a peninsula on the mid west coast of Florida with her husband, 1 cat, and AJ, a long haired Chihuahua.
She wrote her first story in the fourth grade in the form of a play, which actually was produced by the teacher for parents and students. She continued writing and majored in English in College. She practices everyday to improve her craft.
She loves reading almost as much as writing and has filled her book shelves with her favorites, i.e. Harlan Colban, Eliza March, Johanna Lindsey, Roxanne St. Claire, Terri Garey, B.H. Daniels, and Bobbi Smith just to mention a few, as well as all the classics.
She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), TARA (Tampa Area Romance Authors), PRO, Kiss of Death, Lethal Ladies, and CSI (Crime Scene Investigations), just to mention a few.
Visit Lorelei here: www.loreleiconfer.com
Here are the other books available from the SADDLE CREEK SERIES
Rustlers and Romance
Today, I’m introducing you t0 3 more Candy Hearts authors, Tanya Henson, Erin Bevan, and Anita Kidesu and their Candy Hearts stories: PICK ME, TEXT ME and SURPRISE ME. And don’t forget to enter THE WILD ROSE PRESS RAFFLECOPTER for a chance to win a KINDLE FIRE. Details below.
PICK ME (Tanya Hanson)
Volunteering at a horse rescue has helped heal schoolteacher Kelsey Hunter after her celebrity ex’s betrayal. Life in the rural California community suits her better than the bling of Hollywood. When she seeks help for a classroom project, she’s thrown into the sphere of a down-to-earth organic farmer and horseman who could really steal her heart…
Landry Mills, successful mega-spokesmodel for a famed Westernwear line, returns to his hometown to regroup and reconsider signing the next contract. Meeting Kelsey explodes feelings in him he wants to make real. But finding out a fancy director’s son recently crushed her spirit has him take things slow. What will Kelsey do when she finds out he’s a celebrity in his own right? He might not be able to bear it…
Landry stalked to the house and banged the screen door behind him. His furrowed brow stared back at him from his sister’s hallway mirror. A long, long time since any woman had said no to being with him. He didn’t much like the feeling.
Truth was, most times he did the refusing. Holding off pop stars seeking Americana photo-ops, keeping at bay minor European royalty in pursuit of a Wild West cowboy. Or the current divorced/separated/estranged Housewife of Somewhere Stupid wanting to appear wholesome.
He grumbled. And coffee wasn’t even a date.
On his way to the kitchen, he passed a credenza crowded with framed pictures. All the right family ones, but far too many of him.
From inside Amy’s fridge, he grabbed a bottle of cold water, held it against his hot face, then slammed the appliance door. Grunted, wondered at his pique. Maybe because he had decided to come home. To stay this time. Maybe try to find what Amy and Declan had had. Something real.
Even though it hadn’t lasted long enough for his sister. Iraq…There was something different about Kelsey Hunter. Something real about a hard-working woman in tight jeans helping out critters. He took a long swig, remembered. Stretchy pink tank top damp in the right places. Righteous dirt underneath her fingernails. Cinnamon freckles sprinkled across her nose, bright eyes, and brunette hair just a tad lighter than dark-roast coffee mixed with cream. All delicious.
“My goodness, big brother, what’s the deal?” Amy interrupted, trudging in from the living room. She reached for her car keys from a basket on the granite counter. Joy flitted across her face even now. The old house’s kitchen renovation had been his gift to her two Christmases ago. Sometimes his shoulder still felt the damp tears of her gratitude.
For a flash, he glanced out the window up into the hills. He couldn’t see the construction site from here, but he knew exactly where it was. Winsome Hill, the eco-friendly house he was building for himself. Amy had great taste all her own. Her choices for the place had been spot on. Just the right touch of woman for a bachelor pad.
And not so much to threaten another woman.
“You look like you’ve gone and lost your best friend,” she said.
Landry grumbled. He hadn’t had any real friends for far too long. Just hangers-on. Sycophants. An “entourage” of butt-kissers eager for handouts.
TEXT ME (Erin Bevan)
When Erika’s ex becomes her boss less than a year after dumping her by text, she gets desperate to find a date to the corporate Valentine’s dance so he doesn’t suspect she still has feelings for him. Though not a fan of texting for the obvious reason, she doesn’t have much choice but to tap the keypad in order to gain the attention of the only viable candidate from the classified ads.
Grayson made the mistake of listening to his brother a year ago and has regretted what he did to Erika ever since. But his brother’s next suggestion just might be his salvation when he takes out an ad for a Valentine’s date…and Erika answers.
Using a pseudo name and keeping contact to text messages only, Grayson’s plans to make Erika fall back in love with him appears to be working…until the date of the dance draws near, and she pushes a meeting—face to face.
She sank deeper into the couch. What was she going to do? She couldn’t show up alone to the company dance. Not with the chance of Grayson being there. No way.
“Maybe go to another speed dating session?” She grabbed a tissue off the coffee table and wiped the excess slime from her fingers.
“My hairdresser’s single. You want me to ask him?”
“Your hairdresser’s gay. I don’t think he’d be interested in me.”
“Really?” Megan gave her a funny stare.
“Really.” Erika snorted. “Have you not seen the picture of him and his ex-partner at his station?”
“That was his partner?” Her friend’s mouth gapped open. “I thought it was his brother.”
She shook her head. Her friend was one of the smartest people she knew, but common sense eluded the girl.
Megan popped more hearts in her mouth. “That explains so much now,” she mumbled around the candy. “No wonder my hair always looks good.”
“Yes, it does.” Erika sipped her wine.
Her friend swallowed. “Well, I’m sorry, honey. I don’t know any single guys. If I did, I’d try to date them myself.”
“That’s okay.” She sighed and slumped back onto the sofa.
“Is Grayson single?”
“I don’t know. Why are you asking?” She narrowed her gaze. “You want to date him?”
“No.” Her friend said “no” as if it was the most obvious answer in the world. “I’m thinking about you. You wouldn’t go back out with Grayson again, would you? Please say no.” Megan’s shoulders sagged.
Go back out with Grayson. She never thought she’d be given another chance. Would she go back out with him after the way he treated her? Of course not. She deserved better, despite how wonderful he had been.
“I don’t think so. He really hurt me. I can’t give him that privilege again.”
“Good for you.” Her roommate perked up and patted her on the back. “Stay strong. You’ll find someone.”
“You’re right. I’m going to have a date for that corporate Valentine’s dance, even if I have to search the classifieds.”
“Surely, it won’t come to that.” Megan held up her glass for a toast.
Erika clinked hers with her friend’s. “Yeah, surely.”
Her roommate sat her glass down on the table and reached for more hearts.
“Here, give me one of those.”
“I love reading the little sayings.” Megan passed her a heart and tossed her dark hair behind her shoulder. “What’s yours say?”
She flipped over the candy to see the phrase. Bright pink letters stared back at her. Oh, you can’t be serious. “‘Text me’. Seriously?”
Megan burst out laughing.
“You would find that funny.” Erika popped the heart in her mouth and obliterated the little saying she had grown to hate so much.
About Erin Bevan
Erin Bevan is a wife and mother of three. An avid reader, one day she decided to try her luck in writing stories of her own, and the idea paid off. She spends her days deep in the heart of Texas, fighting mosquitoes, cleaning dirty faces, and writing when the kids nap. If it’s a really good day, she even finds time to brush her hair.
Surprise Me ( Anita Kidesu)
Josie and Carson Sandberg are on the cusp of being empty-nesters. With a cross-country move and Carson’s busy work schedule, there hasn’t been much time to connect. When gifted with a romantic getaway and challenge that says “Surprise Me,” the two embark on a trip that reveals secret desires and more. But sometimes a fantasy is better left undiscovered.
“Follow you home?” he asked, calculating in his mind how long it would take before he could get her in bed.
“I have a better idea.”
“I can’t wait to go home to make love. Let’s go parking.”
Carson swallowed around the lump in his throat. “Parking? That’s for kids. We haven’t gone parking since…”
She chucked him under his chin. “I know. Since high school. But, surprise, I want to go parking.” She tugged on his earlobe. “Fumble in the dark. Sex in the back seat. Steam up the windows.”
Grabbing her hand, he headed for the parking lot. His cock pulsed to the beat of his pounding heart. If this was her idea of how to begin their Surprise Me week, then they were off to a good start. “Whose vehicle?”
From the time she was a teenager, Anita would sneak her mother’s romances and read them until all hours of the night. She never thought about creating one herself, but fell into it with a few friends. On an over-long road trip, they started talking about their favorite authors and why they like their books. To kill time, they started making up their own characters and plot.
From that point on, Anita had story ideas and characters filling her head. Finally, to shut them up, (or so she thought), she started writing them down, surprised at how erotic her characters turned out to be.
Now, in between being a pharmacist, taking care of her two cats, and spending time with her family and friends, she writes. Her stories are about love and romance on the edge.
Her first book, South Seas Seduction, an erotica with The Wild Rose Press, was released in March of this year.
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As a writer, I can put my characters anywhere in the world I’d like to see them. I can take them to exotic tropical locales, heart-stopping mountainsides, even underwater to a coral reef. Of course, I can also leave them at home and just have them wish and pine to be taken elsewhere.
One of the underlying themes in all my books is that there really is – as Dorothy asserted – no place like home. We’re comfortable there; it’s familiar; for most of us, safe. Home is where that proverbial heart is and many characters never leave the comfy confines of the places they grew up in. Some of the best stories I’ve ever read concern characters who were born, lived and died in the same place. And they were happy. I love to write coming-home stories because I feel as Dorothy did. Surrounded by the people who love you best, homecoming stories have a special place in my heart.
But isn’t it kind of great to have wanderlust? To dream about being shipwrecked on a tropical island, or snowbound on a majestic mountainside? Of course, since I write romance stories, it would have to be the hero and heroine who are snowbound and shipwrecked, because, where’s the fun if it’s just one character? Unfamiliar territory brings with it all sorts of plot lines, character growth and development, and of course the ability to bring two people together who might never have met otherwise. Agatha Christie was famous for taking her characters and dropping them all over the world.
What if your H/H were running from a band of thieves in a Moroccan souk?
Or trying to escape from a group of militant terrorists in the African jungle?
You have the power to put your characters anywhere you want them to be, whether it’s in a small town in the middle of America or the largest city in the world. Like your kids, they go where you take them. And like your kids they complain, moan about almost everything, but ultimately come to the conclusion that the trip was worthwhile and fun.
So, where in the world have your characters gone? Let’s discuss….
Okay, so book 3 in the MacQuire Women, FIRST IMPRESSIONS, is in final production right now and I’m hoping it will be released in September, since it’s a fall themed book. This is the cover.
But I digress.
It isn’t enough just to write the story any longer. Along with the story a writer must also pen the dreaded SYNOPSIS and (gulp!) the official BOOK BLURB. The synopsis is a detailed (or not) outline of the plot of the book. For most authors, writing a synopsis is tantamount to being tossed into the ninth circle of hell for all eternity. And that’s not an exaggeration. The blurb is that little mini description the publisher places on the back of the book or for hardcover books, on the inside jacket cover. It’s supposed to be the tease that lures the reader into wanting to purchase and read your book.
Until I had my first book published I never knew the author was responsible for writing this. You’d think it would be easy. Just sum-up the book’s main theme, right?
It’s about as easy as putting together a car from scratch without directions, diagrams, or pictures. Or any outside help, mechanical or human.
First of all there are word count restrictions of between 100 and 150, maximum. I am a verbose writer. And by verbose I mean I write A LOT of words. The task of paring down the storyline into what amounts to about 10-15 sentences is torture. Add that you must hit the high points of the story, identify the hero and heroine, describe them and the conflict resounding around their relationship ever coming to fruition, PLUS make it sound exciting and buy-worthy, well…this is why I’m sweating right now as I write this piece. Writing a blurb gives me more indigestion than Crispy Crème donuts – and I had to have my gall bladder removed after eating just one of those suckers. I really did.
But I digress. Again.
Back to the blurb. I have been told by manymanymany people in the publishing realm that a blurb can make or break a sale. Pressure, much? When I wrote my first one for SKATER’S WALTZ I thought I really did a great job. I was proud of it and the hours it took to do, so I sent it in and just knew it was perfect.
Not so much.
It took three back and forth trials between me and the burb committee (yes, there is one, and it is made up of WONDERFUL and SMART PEOPLE!) before the blurb was deemed publishing-worthy.
For THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, I took everything I learned from the first blurb debacle and did my best not to make the same mistakes. I must have done something right this time because it only came back to me once.
For book 3, FIRST IMPRESSIONS, I let myself get cocky and knew – knew! – there was no way the blurb I wrote was coming back this time.
It took two tries, but I think they did a fabulous job guiding me in the right direction. Read for yourselves, this is the official blurb:
Family Practice Doctor Clarissa Rogers’ first impression of Padric Cleary is biased and based on gossip. The handsome, charming veterinarian is considered a serial dater and commitment-phobic by his family and most of the town. Relationship shy, Clarissa refuses to lose her heart to a man who can’t pledge himself to her forever.
Pat Cleary, despite his reputation, is actually looking for The One. When he does give his heart away, he wants it to be for life. With his parent’s marriage as his guidebook, he wants a woman who will be his equal and soul mate in every way.
Can Pat convince everyone – including Clarissa – she’s the only woman for him?
I truly can not wait until the book is released. It’s my favorite so far – and I know every writer says that when they’ve got something new coming out, but this one really is. Pat and Clarissa’s story was an absolute pleasure to write and I’m thrilled I get to share it.
I’m currently editing the 4th book, The Voices of Angels, and I am putting off the blurb until I absolutely need to submit it. Trying to come up with something that will wow the reader is much too exhausting right now. Better I write the story down and get that good and right. Then and only then will I tackle the blurb.
I’ll also have to make sure I have a couple bottles of Rolaids handy as well when I do.
Think about your favorite fictional first kiss. That’s right – not your own, but two characters in a book you were reading, where you just thought this was the best kiss ever. EVER. It had passion, tenderness, desire; it made your heart beat faster, your hands shake a little and your insides get all swirly, and boy-oh-boy did you wish you could be kissed like that in real life.
Okay, so you’ve got the image of the kiss in your mind. How did the author make you feel so good about that kiss? What language did she use? What words? Where they descriptive? Sexy? Raunchy? Was the emotion of the kiss put on display? What about the characters who were kissing- did the author show you their feelings, emotions, internal thoughts when it was happening?
Was there a buildup to the kiss? Tension and suspense around it happening – or not? Anticipation isn’t only a Carly Simon song; it’s a tried and true way of a writer getting you sucked into the characters and what’s going to happen to them.
Personally, I’ve always liked fictional kisses that took a long time coming. The buildup, the expectation, the hope for it to come about is what makes a first kiss so special to me.
Here’s the first kiss between Moira and Quentin from my new book There’s No Place Like Home, Book 2 in the MacQuire women. It uses the buildup and the expectation I mentioned, but the added bonus is the surprise that fills Moira’s mind about the kiss:
Her first and last coherent thought was her best friend was going to kiss her goodnight. After a heartbeat, she forgot the best friend part and knew down to her toes friendship had nothing to do with this.
His lips slid across her mouth, soft and gentle, testing, tasting. Moira’s mind went blank as she succumbed to the sensation of them, hot and hard, pressing against hers in a kiss like none he’d ever given her before. Slowly, he traced her bottom lip with the tip of his tongue, silently asking her to open for him. When she did, he entered her mouth and began to explore, each movement becoming more demanding, more insistent. Moira fell against him, fisting his jacket lapels to steady herself. When she felt his heartbeat pounding under her hands, she grew lightheaded with need. Quentin framed her face with his fingertips, softly tugging down on her chin, changing the angle of the kiss.
She’d been kissed before, but never, never with such all consuming need and longing. She heard a deep moan and was shocked to realize the sound had escaped from her. One of Quentin’s hands left her face to slide down her back. When he pushed against her backside and molded her body to his, Moira’s stomach jumped. This time, though, it wasn’t with the painful contractions she’d come to expect, but with a heart-stopping craving.
A craving for him.
She unfurled her hands from his jacket and, without thought, wound them upwards, weaving them over his shirt collar and up through his hair. She grabbed onto the ends, pulled his head down closer, and held on fast.
All aspect of time was lost. Nothing mattered but the delicious feel of his strong hands caressing her back and the taste of him as his tongue mated with hers.
This couldn’t be happening. It had to be a dream.
But no dream had ever made her want like this, feel like this. When he skimmed his lips across her jaw and down her throat, stopping to take her lobe into his mouth, Moira knew this wasn’t a dream.
They’ve been best friends forever, but everything changes the moment Quentin makes his true feelings known to her in that kiss.
I’ve got a new novella coming out for Valentine’s Day 2016 and the first kiss in this one – 3 Wishes – is told from the first person’s viewpoint of the heroine, Chloe. Here’s a little of what’s going on in her head when she’s kissed for the first time by the hero – a guy she knows nothing about – including his name.
…And, holy Mother of God, what a kiss. My toes curled, my thighs wobbled, and my girlie parts went zing. If I was never kissed by another man for the rest of my life, I would have died a happy little Italian girl right then and there.
You can read all about Chloe next year ( Now, that’s an anticipation tease isn’t it?)
So, back to your favorite fictional kiss. What book was it, who were the characters, and why was it your fav? Let’s discuss…