Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Peace of Mind

As an old year draws to a close and we look forward to new beginnings, we often find ourselves searching for something that will bring us peace of mind.

I've adopted a mantra that over the years has brought me exactly that. It’s been around for hundreds of years. It’s simple, easy to remember and effective.

It is one of the most famous lines in Catholic theological writing and is one of the best-known phrases of medieval literature. Julian of Norwich claimed God himself had bestowed it upon her.

Here it is:

"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

I know. You’re sceptical, right?

Let me tell you about Julian of Norwich. She was an English anchoress who lived from about 1342 until about 1416. She is regarded as one of the most important Christian mystics. Anchorites were religious hermits who often spent their lives in contemplative prayer in tiny cells built onto existing churches. Very little is known about Julian's life. Her personal name is unknown and the name "Julian" simply derives from the fact that her cell was built onto the wall of the church of St Julian in Norwich.
St. Julian's


She may have been from a privileged family that lived in Norwich, or nearby. Norwich was at the time the second largest city in England. Plague epidemics were rampant during the 14th century and, according to some scholars, Julian may have become an anchoress whilst still unmarried or, having lost her family in the Plague, as a widow. Becoming an anchoress may have served as a way to quarantine her from the rest of the population.

There is debate as to whether Julian was a nun in a nearby convent or even a laywoman. When she was 30 and living at home, Julian suffered from a severe illness. Whilst apparently on her deathbed, she had a series of intense visions of Jesus Christ, which ended by the time she recovered from her illness on 13 May 1373.

Julian wrote about her visions immediately after they had happened in a version of the Revelations of Divine Love now known as the Short Text. This narrative of 25 chapters is about 11,000 words long. It is believed to be the earliest surviving book written in the English language by a woman.

Twenty to thirty years later, perhaps in the early 1390s, Julian began to write a theological exploration of the meaning of the visions, known as The Long Text, which consists of 86 chapters and about 63,500 words. This work seems to have gone through many revisions before it was finished, perhaps in the first or even second decade of the fifteenth century.

Julian became well known throughout England as a spiritual authority. The English mystic Margery Kempe, who was the author of the first known autobiography written in England, mentioned going to Norwich to speak with her in around 1414.

Julian of Norwich lived in a time of turmoil, but her theology was optimistic and spoke of God's love in terms of joy and compassion, as opposed to law and duty. For Julian, suffering was not a punishment that God inflicted, as was the common understanding. She believed that God loved everyone and wanted to save them all.

Popular theology, confirmed in people’s minds by the Black Death and a series of peasant revolts, asserted that God punished the wicked. Julian suggested a more merciful theology, which some say leaned towards universal salvation. Although Julian's views were not typical, the authorities did not challenge her theology because of her status as an anchoress. A lack of references to her work during her own time may indicate that the religious authorities did not count her worthy of refuting, since she was a woman.

Her theology was unique in three aspects: her view of sin; her belief that God is all-loving and without wrath; and her view of Christ as mother. According to Julian, God is both our mother and our father. Feminist theology in our own times has developed along similar lines. The harmony Julian suggests between the motherly and fatherly qualities of Christ has greatly influenced feminist theology.

Julian saw no anger in God. Her belief in God as mother was controversial. Julian believed that the mother's role was the truest of all jobs on earth.

For me Julian’s mantra is a positive and simple way to reaffirm that even in times of stress and trouble, all shall be well.
I wish you peace as we journey into 2014.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Promoting My Competition: Are You On My List?

About a year ago, I embarked on a program on my blog to interview other authors in the romance genre. The idea was that my guests would share the wealth of their experiences as writers. I looked at it as an opportunity to get to know fellow authors and learn from them.
Many might consider this as promoting my competition, and they'd be right. That's one of the things I love about belonging to the writing community: not only do we promote each other incidentally with advice, information, reviews, tweets, FB announcements and the like, we actively help each other succeed.


A perfect example is the LoveHistoricals website I've recently had the good fortune to become part of. Thirteen historical romance authors have banded together to promote each other! Five of these writers are women who either blogged with me and/or I was a guest on their blog. I encourage you to read the stories written by these generous authors: Cynthia Woolf, Margery Scott, Sydney Jane Baily, Jill Hughey and Heather Boyd. At the end of this post is the complete list of the remainder of my guests since January 2013, with my thanks.

Cynthia Woolf: Fiery Bride.
After a disastrous marriage, Matchmaker Maggie vowed never to marry again. She will never give another man the power of life and death over her body and soul. Unfortunately, that doesn't keep her lonely heart from fantasizing about her newest client, Caleb Black. She made the mistake of starting a flirtatious correspondence with the clever devil, believing they would never meet. But when his new bride abandons her mid-way to Colorado to elope with another man, Maggie is forced to face the devastatingly handsome Caleb and explain. Now she'll have to stay long enough to make things right and find him a new wife. But Maggie better hang on to her vow with both hands, because Caleb has other plans for the fiery matchmaker...and a very seductive kiss.

Margery Scott: Emma's Wish
A man consumed with grief ...
Sam Jenkins still hasn't come to terms with his wife’s death, but he can't build his ranch in the Texas wilderness and care for three children alone. He has only one heart-breaking choice – send his children away until he can provide for them properly.

A woman desperate for a family ...
A tragic accident changed Emma Witherspoon’s life. Now, she has accepted the fact that she will never have a husband and children of her own, but that doesn't ease the ache in her heart.

A proposition ...
When Emma offers Sam a marriage of convenience, neither of them can foresee the changes that will make their lives – and their relationship – anything but ‘convenient’.


Buy links: Amazon Barnes&Noble Apple (iTunes) Kobo Smashwords

Sydney Jane Baily: An Inescapable Attraction

In a year of roaming the West, angel-faced, sharp-tongued Eliza encounters a world of card sharks and low-life gamesters, all the while trying to forget the searing brand of one man’s fiery kisses. In a dangerous game of high-stakes poker, she tangles with the wrong gambler and finds herself in a heap of trouble. With heartache haunting her relentlessly and a killer on her trail, she has no choice but to run.

Thaddeus Sanborn has always had a weakness for the girl he calls Ellie. Even though she cut him to the quick by getting engaged to his childhood friend, she’s the only female who’s ever kept his interest smoldering at a scorching level. When she steams unexpectedly into his carefree life, derailing his plans for getting rich, he’s stunned by the trouble that accompanies her. But he’ll do just about anything—even kill—to protect her.

Dangerous men, Indian trackers, and wanton women populate the landscape—while steam trains, swift horses, and a lively riverboat keep Eliza and Thaddeus on the move. Though they do their best to escape the peril that’s always merely a hoofbeat behind, they can never run away from their own Inescapable Attraction.
Purchase: http://amzn.com/B00H7LEUOM

Jill Hughey: Vain
A tailor’s abandoned daughter fashions a vain nobleman’s tunic, finding passion between the neckline and hem as misfortune forces her into his precarious aristocratic world. 
Links: Amazon http:// viewBook.at/Vain
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vain-jill-hughey/1114587598?ean=2940016262406
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id669474409
Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/Books/vain-evolution-series-3
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/284641

Heather Boyd: Miss George's Second Chance 

When desperately private writer Imogen George offered to marry neighbour Peter Watson it wasn't just to save a friend but to secure her own future. With her eyesight failing and no other prospects for marital bliss on the horizon, surely it wouldn't be too horrible to marry without the benefits of love. But then Peter gains a title a week before they’re set to wed and all of Imogen’s expectations change.

Peter once believed that marriage to Imogen would solve his financial problems. He didn't mind marrying for convenience and a large fortune when affection was within reach. Yet when he gains a title, an estate, and a fortune of his own the secretive writer releases him from their engagement so he might marry for love instead. Now he’s returned, unwed and unaware of changes in her life, should he do what is expected or listen to his heart instead?
APPLE 
Aus  https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/miss-georges-second-chance/id737406840?mt=11&uo=4
US  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/miss-georges-second-chance/id737406840?mt=11&uo=4
UK  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/miss-georges-second-chance/id737406840?mt=11&uo=4
Canada  https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/miss-georges-second-chance/id737406840?mt=11&uo=4
Amazon US  http://www.amazon.com/Georges-Second-Chance-Mayhem-Novella-ebook/dp/B00GMU6P7O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384309273&sr=1-1&keywords=B00GMU6P7O
UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Georges-Second-Chance-Mayhem-Novella-ebook/dp/B00GMU6P7O/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1384309273&sr=1-1&keywords=B00GMU6P7O
aRE  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-missgeorge039ssecondchanceamissmayhemnovella-1344504-160.html
Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/374755
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/miss-georges-second-chance-heather-boyd/1117341656?ean=2940045370844
Kobo  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/miss-george-s-second-chance

Here's the list of my remaining guests:
Virginia Henley
Danita Cahill
Victoria Pinder
Joan Reeves
Mary J. McCoy-Dressel
Sandy Loyd
Lois Winston
Ruth Glick (Rebecca York)
Judy Roth
Lily Rede
Jennifer Zane
Mary Raimes Curtis
Rose Anderson
Jill James
Janis Patterson
Pati Jager
Sharon Kleve
BC Brown
Leanne Tyler
Bonnie Edwards *
Florence Witkop
Melissa Keir
Berengaria Brown
Gemma Juliana
Shelley Bates *
Cara Marsi
Virginia Vail Kelly
Diane Burton
Dawn Marie Hamilton
E. Ayers
Jodie Esch *
Lynda Bailey
Jane Toombs
Pat Amsden *
Tina Donahue
Reggi Allder *
Mary Marvella
Melba Moon
Kate Hill
Mona Risk
Mimi Barbour *

*Fellow members of Vancouver Island Chapter RWA.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Napping: The Romance Writer’s Secret Weapon

If you want to be a successful writer you have to learn to nap. 
When we nap, we are resting our eyes while our imaginations soar. We can sort and sift, visualizing our hero and or heroine, creating scenarios for their story. 

Napping requires a prone position. We might drift off, just far enough to rescue our creative spirit from the chaos of everyday life. 

Where to nap? A bed is the obvious place, or in the living room recliner with the footrest up; a hammock is the best napping invention ever. 

How long should you nap? An hour is the optimum. That’s long enough to free your mind of the nagging demands of real life and set it free to solve the block you’ve encountered in your plot, or come up with an idea to transform a sagging middle into something the reader can’t put down. More than an hour and your family will start to worry. 

Comedian and writer Carrie Snow hit the nail on the head when she said, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed by a nap.” We can paraphrase her statement to apply to untying knots in our creative thought process. 

If you can’t nap, you can always daydream. What?! Weren't you told to quit daydreaming when you were a child? Like me you probably felt guilty for years when you lapsed into reverie. Instead, we should seek opportunities to daydream. Folding laundry, ironing, riding a bus, cleaning silverware: none of these require your mind to be in the present. You could be off exploring medieval castles, tracking down a vampire or riding the range with a handsome cowboy. One of my favorite places to daydream is walking along a deserted beach. 

Daydreams are fertile soil where creativity incubates. The Muse visits in reverie, even if the daydream has nothing to do with the project you’re working on. You know you've been daydreaming successfully when you’re suddenly jolted out of it! 

But we don’t just dream during the day, do we? Night-time dreams can be problem solvers too. I dream about my characters especially in the early hours of the morning, just before waking. I've "written" some of my best work then. Of course, sometimes I can’t remember the details when I wake up, but sooner or later, it sifts back into my consciousness and becomes an Aha! moment. 

Beethoven and Brahms used to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to write down scores. Thoreau kept a pencil and paper under his pillow. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote the poem Kubla Khan in his sleep and Robert Louis Stevenson worked out plot details of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I can almost guarantee that napping, daydreaming and nightscaping will resolve seemingly insoluble problems, even those that have nothing to do with writing. In The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco says, “A dream is a scripture.”

I wish you sweet dreams!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Help Choose a Book Title

Please welcome my friend and fellow RWA chapter member, Mimi Barbour. I owe Mimi a debt of gratitude for mentoring and encouraging me when I first started to write seriously.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest today Anna. It’s lovely to visit with someone who has the same goals and dreams.

I thought I’d share with you what’s happening in my life right now. I've just released “She’s Not You” which is this year’s Christmas story. Publishing a new book is always an exciting time for an author. For me, it’s a feeling of accomplishment that I love. I’ll admit it gives me a sweet rush that’s become addictive.

Is it the knowledge that I've finished something I started that’s so pleasurable? Heck - I don’t know. Could it be the story that’s existed in my head now has a happy ending?
Maybe…
At least now I can move on. Make room for the other characters who've been driving me batty, impatiently waiting on the sidelines and madly waving at me from time to time.
She’s Not You came to me in a the craziest way. Driving home from the nearest city one day, I listened to the radio and Elvis’s old song started to play. Since it was one of my favorites, the words rang in my head and wouldn't turn off.
I’m serious… It would not turn off!
I’m talking day after day I found myself singing the chorus until I was driven mad enough to go and look up the lyrics. When I read them, a thought popped into my head that those words told a sad yet beautiful story and POOF!! There went the next two months of my life.
Did I imagine that I could write one book, heck no. I’m now committed to writing a series - all based on the words to the King’s old recordings. His music brought people into the Rock and Roll age and gave hours of listening entertainment to millions of fans.
Myself, I crushed on the singer so his songs have always ranked as many of my old favorites. Therefore, bringing them to life in a book is a labor of love.
Since I haven’t chosen which song to use for the next book yet, I intend to set up a contest to let the readers help make that decision. The information for this contest will be posted on my website and Facebook page. So… if you’d like to be involved, please do come and either sign up for my newsletter on my website or follow me on Facebook. Soon, I will be writing a post and sending everyone linked with me the simple rules.

**The winner will not only choose the title by picking his/ her favorite song of Elvis’s, but the book will be dedicated to that person also.

Contacts:
Website: http://www.mimibarbour.com
Blog: http://mimibarbour.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mimi.barbour?ref=tn_tnmn
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MimiBarbour @MimiBarbour

Author of The Vicarage Bench Series, Angels with Attitude Series, and the Vegas Series, Mimi lives on the East coast of Vancouver Island and writes her paranormal romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. “If I can steal a booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I've done my job.”

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Ask For More

In this season of thanks for our abundance, we have plenty to be thankful for. This week in the homes of our American friends, pies will cool on racks and kitchens will be filled with the fragrances and aromas of anticipation.
Hearts will be glad as families reunite and share the celebration together. It’s not often we have the chance to enjoy complete contentment.
My husband and I have just undergone our annual physical checkups and are lucky to be hale and healthy. For that I am truly thankful. Declining health is a difficult taskmaster. In the developed world most of us have access to excellent medical care, but we cannot purchase good health.
So should we be content with what we have? Is it greedy to ask for more?
Hard on the heels of Thanksgiving comes the season of razzamatazz and for some a feeling of lack. There never seems to be enough money for the things we want for ourselves and our family members and friends.
Two years ago, I asked for more, even though I had plenty. I asked for the blessing of creative expression as I embarked on a new career as a writer. 
You know what they say. Ask and ye shall receive.
Spirit listened and I did receive. This week I am extremely thankful to have reached a milestone of 40,000 books sold in the last two years. 
Readers enjoy my books—exactly what I asked for.
In the coming weeks we can ask for our credit and debit cards to go through okay, or we can ask for blessings like good physical and mental health, energy, vitality, creativity. If you don’t get it, at least you tried!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Welcome Kate Hill


Hello Kate. Tell us about yourself.
I’m a forty-something vegetarian New Englander who loves to read, write, work out and watch horror and action movies.
I love connecting with readers, so I visit my publishers’ yahoo/chat groups as often as I can. Also I enjoy hosting special events at my site, such as my annual Halloween page. I have a blog, yahoo group and a website that’s regularly updated. I’m also on Twitter.
My latest series is Combustion, which is published by Changeling Press. It’s erotic science fiction that focuses on a group of aliens who are temporarily stranded on Earth. Trouble in Paradise is my first independently published story. It’s a traditional romantic adventure.
I wanted to write a traditional romance with a heroine who was a little unconventional for her time. Also I wanted to work on a story with a bit more of a buildup to the hero and heroine getting into bed than what I generally write for my current publishers.

Are you a plotter or a pantser, Kate?  
I guess I’m a bit of both, although I’m more of a plotter. Before I start writing, I like to know my characters pretty well and I also need to have a loose outline so I know where the story is going.

Are you traditionally published, self-published or both? 
Both. I write regularly for Changeling Press and I’ve also been published by Ellora’s Cave and New Concepts Publishing. They’ve been fantastic to work with. Trouble in Paradise is my first self-published book. I didn’t feel it would fit well with any of my publishers, so instead of submitting it I decided to publish it independently. Right now I’m revising a previously published story to re-release independently. It will probably be out toward the end of this year or early next year.
I’ve only had one book self-published so far, but I found it to be a lot of work and pretty stressful. With a publisher, you have a lot of help. You’re supplied with editors and cover art. The publisher oversees distribution of the book. Self-published authors are in charge of everything and it takes a lot of time and effort, but it has a tradeoff. You get to see the kind of story you want to write done exactly how you want it, from cover art to characterization. It took over a year of revisions before I felt Trouble in Paradise was in shape to be published.

How do you create sexual tension in your romances? For me it depends on the characters. For some, lust-at-first-sight works. Others take more time before they get together. In Trouble in Paradise, when Grace and RC first meet, she’s completely disgusted with him and with good reason. Once he cleans up his act, she finds him hard to resist.

Do you have any rejection stories to share? Tons!! Rejection just goes with the territory. One that stands out in my mind is a rejection letter that told me my character who was a college student acted too much like a college student. I’m still trying to figure that one out! I eventually sold the story, but I’m still amused by that particular criticism.

What is your writing routine like? I set aside a certain amount of time each day for writing, editing and promo. Since I love keeping calendars and charts, I use them to keep track of my time and drive my family crazy leaving them all over the house.

What are you reading now? Right now I’m reading Making Waves by Cathryn Fox and Jaci Burton.

We’d love a blurb and an excerpt from your latest book.

Trouble in Paradise by Kate Hill (Romantic Suspense) Available at
All Romance Ebooks
https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-troubleinparadise-1153845-152.html
Barnes & Noble
http://tinyurl.com/d2ok42u
Smashwords
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/302667

Before cell phones and reality TV, when women had big hair and men were all about action and adventure, a girl walks into a bar searching for a hero. She finds R. C. Benson, a soldier turned grave robber wallowing in past sins. With a marriage of convenience, a pet shark and a shady butler, Grace and R. C. have their work cut out for them, but that gives them the perfect chance to fall in love.

Excerpt:
“That was some night.” Grace slipped off her shoes once she and R. C. returned to their hotel room. “I can’t wait to get to bed.”
He rubbed his hands together. “Now you’re talking.”
Grace shot him a serious look and pointed in his face. “Remember this is not for real. If you think I’m having sex with you, you’re crazy.”
“Of course I’m crazy. I’ve gone along with this ridiculous idea of yours, haven’t I?”
“I mean it, Benson. You come near me and I’ll castrate you.”
He chuckled and winced at the same time. “Oh and you’d try, too.”
“You can count on it.”
“Well you can’t blame me for trying.” He hung his jacket next to the others in the closet and removed his tie. He unbuttoned his shirt, revealing the lean, hair-dusted chest she longed to caress.
“I’m changing in the bathroom,” she said.
“You like the right side of the bed or the left?”
She glanced over her shoulder, one hand on the bathroom door. “I said I’m not sleeping with you.”
“No. You said you’re not having sex with me. If you think I’m going to sleep on the floor, you’re the one who’s nuts.”
“Fine. I’ll sleep on the floor, seeing how you’re such a gentleman.”
“The bed is king size. You don’t even have to touch me.”
“Damn right about that.”
“Look.” He piled pillows down the center of the bed. “How’s that?”
She narrowed her eyes. The thought of sleeping on the floor wasn't appealing.
“When we get to the island, we’re going to have to share everything, so we might as well start now.”

http://www.kate-hill.com
http://www.twitter.com/katehillromance
http://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/katehill/info

Kate is giving away a pdf copy of her book to one lucky commenter.



Wednesday, 13 November 2013

6 Books for 99 cents!

I have joined forces with five other authors in publishing an anthology of romance stories that is now on sale for a limited time for only 99 cents. See details at the end of the blog.
One of my fellow anthologists is Mona Risk. She is my guest today talking about the book she contributed to the set, Neighbors and More.
Welcome, Mona.


Anna, thank you for inviting me to your beautiful blog and allowing me to present my romance novel, NEIGHBORS AND MORE, that is one of the ebooks bundled in THE ULTIMATE ROMANCE box set.

Where did the inspiration for this book come from? The dictionary defines neighbor as someone who lives near or stands next to another. In my book, the neighbor is any one of the people living in the four-hundred condos of the Blue Waves High Rise on the beach.

Ten years ago I moved from a house to an apartment in a multi-unit building. Downsizing and getting rid of numerous souvenirs was painful enough. Little did I know that living next to so many neighbors would involve losing part of the freedom I took for granted when I dwelt in a house.

My neighbors consist mainly of retirees who live all year round in their condos—and keep a pair of binoculars within reach to peek into their neighbors’ places, the pool area, or the beach terrace. In addition, you can count several snowbird couples who fly to Florida in winter, a few young working white collars who rent for a year or two to enjoy the proximity of the beach, and two or three families with a child. Our high rise is quite cosmopolitan, with South American, Russian, Canadian, French, Swedish, Greek condo owners,... A real Tower of Babel.


Soon enough I realized that the gorgeous and serene scenery surrounding us could hide many potential tempests. And I am not talking of the hurricanes or tropical storms only. Passions can simmer and sizzle when you live too close for comfort.

The real examples following astounded me and became inspiration. The woman on the fifth floor broke a stormy affair with her lover from the tenth; the old widower on the twentieth floor married the young divorcee from the third floor, and died three months later. The neighbor on the seventh floor got drunk and drowned in the hot spa. A lady from the tenth floor disappeared for several days and was found floating on the shore five miles away.

As you can see, life was not boring in a high rise. Actually it was too eventful for my taste. I changed building, and discovered a new set of stories. That is when I decided I absolutely had to write a romantic suspense set in a similar high rise.

Neighbors and More is a contemporary romance novel with elements of suspense and humor.
In the Blue Waves High Rise where so many neighbors live too close for comfort, Dante, the handsome Sicilian lawyer, and Alexa, the wealthy young divorcée, try to hide their idyllic romance. When a neighbor drowns in the Jacuzzi, life will forever change in the Blue Waves.

Excerpt:
Wandering to the wall-to-wall bay window, Alexa glanced at the children playing in the pool, the sunbathers lounging on the beach, and the magnificent view of myriad boats gliding on the ocean, on a glorious April afternoon. Too numb to be excited by sceneries she’d always favored, she locked her heart against sentimental regrets and strode to her bedroom where she’d already packed two suitcases.


Get a grip, girl. She needed space to be herself and breathe freely. She’d leave first thing tomorrow, while her nosy neighbors still slept. Would they call her a quitter and other malicious names as they’d called her mother? Maybe the beautiful Annabelle had gone through the same hell before running away with her lover.

Unable to stay a moment longer in her apartment, Alexa slipped on a bikini covered with shorts and a see-through top, ready to go for a last swim and a farewell walk on the beach. As she opened her door, she was caught in a bear hug and pushed back into her condo.

“Oh my God.” Alexa squealed. Her breath jammed in her throat as Dante Cantari kicked her apartment door closed behind them and squeezed her against his chest. “Dante…” A masculine scent mixed with a whiff of lemon enveloped her.

“Cara mia, you are even more beautiful than when I left. Bella... Bellissima.” The Italian hunk in swimming shorts and tank top held her at arm’s length, and offered her a wide grin that brightened her living room more than a noon sun.

Her gaze roamed over his raven black hair, curly and thick, and in need of a cut, a strand falling over his sapphire blue eyes. “I thought you weren’t coming back. I thought you moved somewhere else without telling me. I thought...” Oh dear, she was babbling nonsense. Still unable to believe he was here, holding her, she blinked, glad she hadn’t left in the morning.

“Oh Alexa, I’d never do such a thing. You’re more important to me than you think.”

What do you know? Her wish had come true after all. Right away. She almost giggled. “When did you get back from Sicily?” To make sure she wasn't dreaming, she stroked his chiseled jaw with her fingertips.

Mona's Bio:
From chemistry in the lab to chemistry between people.
To be honest, I never thought that hazardous waste analysis would lead me to write novels, but I grew up surrounded by books, thanks to my father who was a professor and a published author. When my Ph.D. and work in chemistry landed me contracts to refurbish laboratories abroad, I traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. To relax from my hectic schedule, I avidly read romance stories and mentally plotted my own novels. Eventually I left a scientific career to share with readers the many stories brewing in my head.

I write romantic suspense, medical romance, contemporary romances, and paranormal fantasy. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, my stories are set in the fascinating places I visited, from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles--or more simply in Ohio, Florida, Boston and Washington, DC.

My books have garnered: Top Picks; Outstanding Read; Sweetheart of the Week; Best Book of the Week at various reviewers, and won several awards, from Best Contemporary Romance of the Year at READERS FAVORITE with two Gold Medals, to EPPIE award finalist and Best Romance Novel of the Year at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll. More recently, my ebooks landed on the Amazon bestseller list for contemporary romance and medical romance and my name was posted in the list of The 100 most Popular Authors in Romance for several months.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. Meet the spirited heroines and the alpha heroes who share irresistible chemistry in stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat.

http://www.amazon.com/Mona-Risk/e/B002E1GCIM
www.monarisk.com

Thanks for being here, Mona.

THANK YOU for the opportunity to feature my book on your blog. Click here for the Box Set.

Monday, 11 November 2013

MY FATHER THE WARRIOR

I think about warriors a lot these days. It goes with the territory of being a writer of medieval romance. In the days of William the Conqueror, Henry Beauclerc and the Plantagenets, men had to be warriors, prepared to defend what was theirs.
I find myself driven to write the stories of these heroic men, who fought in horrendous battles - like my hero Ram de Montbryce, a hero of Hastings, in CONQUERING PASSION.
I love reading about them too. Who can forget the commanding Simon de Montfort in Virginia Henley's THE DRAGON AND THE JEWEL.

And I fell in love with Simon de Beresford, champion of King Stephen, in Julie Andresen's SIMON'S LADY.

Don't misunderstand. I LOVE a good Regency romance, and I too can swoon readily over Loretta Chase's Lord Dain, and Anne Stuart's Adrian Rohan (ar any of the Rohan's for that matter!) But give me a warrior over a rogue or a roue any day! 
It's a wonder England survived the Regency at all as a nation, with so many dissolute noblemen!

One reviewer has remarked that it was unacceptable and 'unheroic' for my 11th century Norman hero, Ram, to have a brief sexual liaison with a Saxon widow while he was betrothed to my heroine. She missed the point of the circumstances of post traumatic stress after the battle of Hastings! Seems the roguish Earls of the Regency cannot be heroes unless they've slept their way to the pages of a best seller!

But I digress! Back to the reason for this post. November 11th is REMEMBRANCE DAY here in Canada, and I'm thinking especially of my late father, a man who fought on the beaches of Normandy, almost 900 years after my hero Ram left there to fight for his Conqueror.

My William wasn't really a 'warrior', but he spent six years in the British Army. It changed his life...and mine. He often joked it made a man of him. News for you dad - you were already a man, a defender throughout your life of all you held dear. I've dedicated one of my novels to my dad. The dedication reads,


"For my father, William.
A Lancashire lad through and through, honest, loyal and true."

Miss you dad.





Here is a link to a poignant video to honour the fallen. Willie McBride by Celtic Thunder.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

MJ Flournoy is my guest

Welcome MJ Flournoy.
Good to be here, Anna.
I live in Georgia with my husband and one neurotic cat. I love reading romance novels, my love of writing grew organically from that love. It was the next logical step for me to move from reading romance to writing romance.  In my day job I teach middle school. I have been a special education teacher for twenty years. I currently co-teach language arts and math. Keeping up with thirteen year olds keeps me young.

I wish I could draw. I can’t, but I do admire those who can. One of these days I’m going to give watercolors a try. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

To promote my work I use Facebook, I have a blog where I feature excerpts and offer PDF copies as prizes. One lucky commenter today can win a pdf of A Matter of Trust. I use Twitter and I blog with other authors.


My current series is the NVC Series of which A Matter of Trust is the first book. NVC, New Ventures Consulting is a think-tank/covert ops group that fixes things. NVC’s operative have special abilities.

A Matter of Trust was one of those stories that came from real life. I saw a news story about a woman who help rescue a kidnapped child because she sensed something was off about the child’s situation. That story sparked my “what if” response and A Matter of Trust was born.

When a teacher with psychic abilities is framed for kidnapping she has to team up with an Ex-Navy SEAL with trust issues to save the child.

Writing conflict is the hardest for me, because I tend to make it too complicated! Then it takes me forever to figure out how to unpaint my way out of that corner. Guess that’s why I want to be an artist. I am definitely a pantser. I try not to do a detailed outline or synopsis before I write the story because I lose my enthusiasm once I know what is going to happen.

I am traditionally published. My publisher is Renaissance Ebooks, but I think the time is ripe for self publishing. I am seriously considering self-publishing in the near future.

I like to make my characters hyper-aware of their counterpart. Getting into the character's head using deep point of view helps to build the sexual tension. Allowing the reader to experience those thoughts and feelings make it a shared experience for the reader.

I have the best critique partner in the world. We work online a lot, but during the summer months we actually drive to meet and critique. My CP rescued me from the black hole of not writing and pulled me screaming back into the sunshine and I've been basking in it ever since! I’m answering these questions and this is due yesterday. I am a card carrying procrastinator, but my CP has me on the 12 step plan!

I have no rejection stories to share. Rejection depresses me, so I try to avoid discussing it. Just let’s say it’s been a long hard road.

My writing goes in fits and starts. Late nights, weekends and holidays are the most productive times for me. When I am blocked, I pout. Ask my CP, she’ll tell you. Once I quit pouting, the words flow.

I’m currently reading Donnell Bell’s Deadly Recall and writing this is keeping me away from it. That and trying to do NaNoWriMo.




Blurb:
A Matter of Trust is a romantic suspense with paranormal elements. I enjoyed writing this book because as they say, “it was ripped from the headlines.” The idea came after seeing a report of a woman who intervened and called the police when she saw a child she thought had been kidnapped. The woman literally saved a child’s life.
My character, Jolie is a teacher with psychic abilities. Using those abilities cost her dearly, but when a child is kidnapped, she has to team up with hot, sexy hero Mac Carlson to rescue the child. Mac is an ex-Navy SEAL and a loner. Can they learn to trust each other and work together to save the little girl?

Excerpt: (Note-Maniac speaks in Italics)

This is so not good, wake up, Mary Poppins, come on, we’re in deep birdie do-do here.

Jolie’s entire body seared with fire from the inside out. Every muscle, every tendon screamed in pain. She tried to move. She could barely breathe. Her throat refused to cooperate with her order to scream. For a moment she thought herself blind as well as immobile, but the soft texture of cloth against her cheek told her that whatever had been put over her head remained. Slowly her wits returned, if not control of her body. She remembered opening the door and stepping into darkness. Then? Nothing.

No, that’s not right. They drugged us. Didn't you feel that needle? Hurt like hell. Probably still does, but we can’t feel it with the effect of whatever the hell he gave us.

Jolie managed a groan deep in her throat. Or maybe just in her mind. My arm, my pain, not yours, she admonished the Maniac.

Not the time to quibble. I suppose I could go and leave you alone.

Don’t you dare. It would be just like you to leave me at a time like this. Why didn't you warn me? You can feel when a child is in danger, but can’t tell when I’m about to be abducted? What kind of guardian angel are you anyway?

Never claimed to be an angel. Besides, you know it doesn't work that way. We can’t help ourselves. Only others.

Well, if you ask me, it’s a stupid rule.

Not my rule.

Where are we? Jolie tried to move and found her limbs unresponsive.

Haven’t got the foggiest. Can’t see a damn thing with this bag over your head. The Maniac snickered at her little joke.

Now is so not the time to be funny.

Do something.

I can’t move, I've tried.

Crap, whatever he used still hasn't worn off.

Jolie’s attention caught on that one word. He? She willed her body to move but nothing happened.

Why don’t you do something? Jolie couldn’t feel her arms, much less move them. Why do I have to do it all?

Quiet, someone’s coming. Don’t let him know we’re awake.

Like I could. Panic surged within her when someone or something moved nearby. A subtle shift here, a sound there. Chills tingled down her spine. How many were there? What did they want with her? What were they going to do with her, do to her?

Fear choked her. Perspiration pooled in certain areas of her body. Armpits, upper lip, valley between her breasts, all damp. The scent of fear filled her nostrils. Her fear. Thick tangible, choking, debilitating fear. It ran through her veins like poison. Somewhere deep in her chest a small child-like whimper began, built pressure and forced its way between her clenched lips.

She would not be a wimp. She would not.

We’re not in any immediate danger, I would sense if evil were lurking.

Now you’re a freaking evil barometer. Jolie drew strength from the calmness of the Maniac’s voice.

Well, duh? How else do you think I know these things?

Well, why didn't you… Jolie stilled her thoughts. Never mind, listen they’re coming closer.

Slowly the paralysis relaxed. Jolie tried and found she could move her fingers. Maybe even her arms. She held her body tense, waiting, hoping for a chance. A chance to do what? She was a teacher, not a pugilist. Teachers weren't even allowed to paddle kids these days.

I am so screwed. Jolie realized she could move, but had no idea what to do with that new ability. Should have taken some sort of self-defense class instead of doubling up on reading instructions, Jolie grumbled. Slowly she moved her foot, testing for bindings. She could move her feet, her hands, and even lift her head, if she moved slowly. Apparently her abductors were so confident in the drug used to render her helpless they felt no need to bind her. Their mistake, she hoped.

Okay, we can use this to our advantage. Try moving an arm, see if you can push the damn cloth away from our eyes.

Biting back a retort at the Maniac’s order, Jolie slowly moved her arm, her fingers feeling for the edge of the cloth covering her face. By cautious inches, she pushed the material away from her face.

Shit.

Total darkness greeted her. Jolie groaned. So much for that.

She moved her hand back to her side, letting her fingers slide over the surface where she lay. It felt like silk, no, satin. Her hand fanned out, moving over the smooth, cool surface. When the fog gradually cleared from her befuddled brain, she took in more details. Softness beneath her. Satin smoothness, soft like a mattress. Jolie’s breath caught in her throat when she and the Maniac reached the same conclusion at the same time.

Not good. We’re in someone’s bed.

Total darkness surrounded her and yet she could feel someone watching her. Her senses were in hyper drive. Warning tingles ran along her spine. Someone was definitely nearby, watching her.

He’s here.

Links:
http://authormjflournoy.wordpress.com
https://www.facebook.com/authormj.flournoy
https://twitter.com/authormjflourno
http://www.pinterest.com/scarlet_georgia/favorite-authors-books/
http://www.amazon.com/MJ-FLOURNOY/e/B00FE1766Q/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1381210459&sr=8-1

Reminder that MJ is giving away a free PDF of A Matter of Trust. We need your email if you want to win.

Thanks for being my guest, MJ.



Saturday, 2 November 2013

Good for the Soul

On this All Souls Day I find myself reflecting on what’s good for my soul. All Souls is a solemn day set aside since the Middle Ages for beloveds who no longer laugh, cry, live. But it's also an opportunity to examine how we care for our own souls.
Artists and theologians through the ages have tried to define the essence of soul. In Care of the Soul, psychotherapist Thomas Moore tells us it's caring for everyday details that makes our soul feel welcome. "Tending the things around us and becoming sensitive to the importance of home, daily schedule, and maybe even the clothes we wear are ways of caring for the soul."

For me I think it’s the thing that sends a satisfied thrill through me when it’s pleased. This morning, for example, I got a five star review on Amazon for one of my books. Definitely good for a writer’s soul, especially when it’s a book that’s a departure from what I normally write.

Soul can be fickle. Sometimes a great cup of coffee soothes my soul; other times it could care less about coffee, good or otherwise.

Talking to my grandsons on Skype is good for my soul, except when they insist on putting their noses right up to the camera and distorting their faces.

Hosting a successful dinner party is soul-pleasing, especially when it’s over!

Can you share what’s good for your soul? I’ll be interested in your comments.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Welcome Mary Marvella

Mary is giving away a pdf copy of Protective Instincts to one lucky commenter. Email address needed to win.

Thanks for inviting me to join you today!
I am sitting watching Once Upon a Time because I believe. I grew up reading fairy-tales. When I taught 6th grade I had an extra assignment, to give a 3rd grade teacher a break by taking her kids for half an hour once a week. I had no training teaching kids of that age, but I did know how to make up stories, so once I had used up my store of kids' stories, I retold them, making up new endings and telling what happened next to the characters. 

For as long as I can remember I created stories in my head. I played house, climbed trees, and read everything. I made paper dolls and designed their clothes. I still like to color in coloring books and in stories.

After I retired from teaching I became a tutor. I teach at a variety of levels, including anything language arts and writing classes. I also edit books for Gilded Dragonfly Books and for freelance clients.

Protective Instincts began several incarnations ago, with a man who thought his teenage son had a crush on a sexy young teacher, only to find the teacher was a 30-something woman and sexy in a wholesome, woman-next-door way. He actually asked her out and then kissed her. That part went away with several drafts. Then I thought about what would happen if the woman became the target of a professional killer, the man who killed her husband. What if he planned all murders to be different? Since it was to be a romance, I needed a man who would protect her, but not a cop or a military type. The daddy from the original idea became a man with premonitions and a protective streak a mile wide. That book became Protective Instincts. http://www.amazon.com/Protective-Instincts-ebook/dp/B00EGE93CC/


An idea comes to me or characters appear and want to tell their stories. I started a book after my EX and I bought a house for my daughter to rent out while she attended college in Milledgeville, Georgia. The seller's daughter mentioned ghosts and named them for me while we were signing the papers. The story wrote itself in my head during the 2 1/2 hour ride home. Well, not the entire story, but I knew who the ghosts were and why they were in the house. They told me they were there to protect the heroine and they introduced me to the hero, the guy next door. From there the story wrote itself over months when I had to turn in pages to my critique group. That story became Haunting Refrain. (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057033GG)

I self -published 3 novels and 2 novellas before I contracted a book. I would advise anyone thinking of self publishing to get your book edited by a pro. Several of my clients ask me to edit books they Indie-published and got bad reviews because of grammar and punctuation.

How do you create sexual tension in your romances? 
It's always about the tease. Make your characters want each other and don't let them get what they want until they beg.

Do you have critique partners? Three of us met through Georgia Romance Writers and the 4th we met at a bookstore. She now belongs to GRW, too. I have one partner I met years ago and we work together and another one who asked me years ago to critique with her and a friend of hers.

I hate routines, but I write or edit when I'm not tutoring or making preparations to tutor. I try to troll Facebook and answer emails and read loops. I might write all night if I am on fire or an idea grabs me or if I don't have other obligations, like blogs to write or posts to upload to my blogs.

Thanks for being my guest, Mary. We’d love a blurb and an excerpt from your latest book.

Excerpt:
Sam was ready to climb through the phone line. Something was terribly wrong. He’d known it just before he woke in a cold sweat, his gut in pain. The memory of her frightened amethyst eyes haunted him. Why had he dreamed about her? Why had she seemed so upset? He’d speed-dialed Ms. Roberts’ number before he realized he’d picked up the phone beside the recliner where he’d fallen asleep. All Sean’s teachers’ numbers were programmed into the phone.

“I’m comin’ over.” Sam was out of the chair as quickly as his sleep-stiff body would allow.

“No! No, don’t come over here.”

“Something’s wrong. I know it is.” Still half asleep, Sam held the phone between his chin and his neck as he shoved his feet into the shoes he’d discarded before dozing off.

“Everything’s fine,” she had told him. Why would she lie? He knew she had, because his premonitions were never wrong.

“So, why didn’t you answer your phone?”

“I was half asleep. Do you know what time it is?”

“Yes, but I’m worried about you. I’ll be at your house in ten minutes,” Sam had his keys and wallet in his hands. “I’ll explain, but I really need to be sure you’re all right, please.”

He replaced the phone, then checked Sean’s room. Sean lay sprawled across his bed, blond hair mussed, his hand dangling off the edge. Grabbing a sheet of paper Sam scrawled, “Son, back soon. Don’t worry. Gone to check on a friend.”

Sam raced across town, hoping he didn't get stopped for speeding. The streets were deserted. Good fortune had put each light on green or flashing yellow. He didn't think he’d have stopped if there had been a red light. The eerie feelings weren't as strong as when he’d awakened, but they wouldn't go away.

Blurb:

They met because he had premonitions and she was in peril. But you will never believe why they fell in love.
After mourning the loss of her husband, Brit Roberts manages to pick up her life as a teacher for a rural Georgia High school. Things are fine until anonymous phone calls turn creepy and her life is endangered. It's not until Sam Samuels shows up to check on her that she finds a little peace.

www.MaryMarvella.com
www.pinkfuzzyslipperwriters.blogspot.com
Mary Marvella@mmarvellab
www.gildeddragonflybooks.wordpress.com





Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Welcome Reggi Allder

I'm delighted to welcome another member of my RWA chapter, Reggi Allder.
Hi Anna, I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for asking me.

As you know my romantic suspense Money Power and Poison is now available on Amazon. So I’m pretty excited. I love page turning, mystery, suspense, love stories and I’m an avid reader.

I’m married and have two kids. The youngest is at university. My husband is a great guy who’s supportive of my writing full time. I have two dogs, a pure bred poodle and a rescued mutt. They stay in my office with me while I write. They’re patient, though there are times when they give me that we-need-a-walk look and won’t take no for an answer, probably a good thing.

My second romantic suspense book Shattered Rules will be released soon. Unrest around the world triggered my inspiration for it. When I saw a report about the turmoil, I thought what if a woman was innocently involved in intrigue simply because she was naive? There’s lots of conflict and intrigue not to mention a handsome FBI agent.

My schedule starts early. I get up, dress and go straight into my office. I’m usually in the office between seven and eight in the morning. I’m lucky because my husband brings me coffee so I don’t even have to go downstairs. These days I keep that schedule on the weekend if my book is on a roll. I work until late afternoon. Sometimes I work after dinner.

I have two WIPs, a romantic suspense sequel to Money Power and Poison and another contemporary that follows the lives and events of people in a small town in the California foothills. It’s the second book in my Sierra Creek Series and follows characters in Her Country Heart.

I’m a pantser. I tried to plot when I first started writing. I had my first bout of writer’s block. Making lists and outlines and plotting every scene is a great idea but it just didn't work for me. I was lucky to find that out early. I stopped plotting and the writer’s block disappeared. Now I let ideas percolate. Feelings and plot twists come to me as I write. I do have a general idea of where the story will end up. Often I know the end of the book before I have a beginning. I don’t work backward. But when I begin the first chapter, even though I don’t have all the characters and the plot turns, I know how the book will end.

As an author of and romantic suspense and contemporary novels, I love nothing better than tales of love lost and then found or stories of heroes and heroines who discover love but wonder if they’ll live long enough to enjoy it.

My main characters cope with longings, secrets, lies and betrayals. They control their panic and manage their passion as each fight to discover a hidden strength. It’s a strain for them to remain motivated as the world offers temptations and puts them in untenable situations. Can they survive multiple ordeals and carry on to reach their goals and find true love?

In the contemporary novels my heroes and heroines search for love while struggling with the trials of day to day living, including the demands of family, finances and employment.

Here are links to my website and to my book on Amazon:
http://reggiallder.com
http://amzn.com/B00FTIWMOK
Blurb: Money Power and Poison When a billionaire is murdered, a woman fights to stay alive long enough to prove she’s innocent. An obsessed killer has plans to make her his next victim. A mystery from the past and lies from the present could help a reporter make sense of it all before it’s too late and the woman dies.
In idyllic Carmel, California, billionaire software developer Conner Harrison is poisoned at his fiftieth birthday party. Young business woman, Kathryn Carlyle is about to be charged with his murder. Why would the police think she’d murder a man she only met once? And why is someone trying to kill her? Out of her depth, she wants someone on her side.
Alpha male, TV reporter Holt Rand needs a scoop to revive his career. The exclusive on Harrison’s murder will put him back on top of the ratings game. Nothing and no one will stop him from getting to the truth. But when he meets Kathryn his life is changed forever.

Excerpt:
In the midnight gloom of a residential street in Carmel, California, business owner Kathryn Carlyle watched the city’s dim lights from the back seat of a speeding police car. She gasped for air as dread tightened her throat. This can’t be happening to me.

The catering van she drove to billionaire software developer Conner Harrison’s birthday party had been impounded by the police as evidence. She rubbed her throbbing temples to release the pain accumulated there.

Two blocks from her beachfront condo, she snatched a breath of air. “Please stop. I have to get out.”

The middle-aged officer guided the patrol car to the curb. “We’re not finished with you. Go, but don’t leave town.”

He’d probably been waiting all night to use that clichĂ©. Don’t leave town. She almost laughed, except nothing funny had happened tonight.

She exited the car and inhaled the sea breeze as it rustled her hair. It was such a welcome change from the stifling atmosphere that contaminated the police station where she’d spent the last few hours. How long before the man came back to arrest her?

Relieved to be in her safe neighborhood, she took a deeper breath, kicked off her black leather pumps and sat on a driftwood log overlooking the serene bay.

She swallowed as nausea swirled in her stomach. The fact that she hadn't eaten since breakfast didn’t help. Always nervous before an event, she’d planned to eat after Mr. Harrison’s party. Now he hovered near death. The thought of eating brought bile to the back of her throat. Why did the authorities think she poisoned a man she’d only met once?

A nightmare had snared her and was holding her in its grip. When Mr. Harrison died the charge against her would be murder in the first degree.

As the realization crept through her, she tensed. Two deep breaths calmed her, but didn't stop the headache forming over her right eye.

True she’d had the opportunity to poison him, but no motive. She only met him because he’d asked her to cater his birthday party. With his death, there was nothing to gain and a lot to lose, her reputation, her business, her life.

In the morning the police would sort out the truth of her innocence. Still, adrenaline caused her heart to race. She rubbed her temples and tried not to think anymore.

A gust of wind circled her. She shivered and folded her arms in front of her. Damn. Her suit jacket was still in the patrol car.

She stood and brushed the sand from the back of her skirt and picked up her high heels and shoulder bag. Time to go home, sleep was doubtful, still at least she’d put up her sore feet.

Leaves crunched somewhere in the shadows of the nearby trees, she squinted into the darkness but didn’t see anyone. Even so, fear gripped her.

She forced her swollen feet back into her pumps and walked quickly up the dimly lit street. The click of her heels echoed in the quiet night air. The desire to flee from an unknown danger increased the speed of her footsteps.

With the exception of a black truck parked at the curb, the street was empty. The pickup’s engine revved. The cab light came on and cast an eerie glow on the driver’s face. He smiled at her.

As she thought about waving to let him know the headlights were off, the vehicle drove straight at her. It jumped the curb, sideswiped her, sending her flying.

With a thud, she landed on the muddy front lawn of a neighboring condominium. The sound of the engine faded as the vehicle disappeared.

She lay motionless on the ground. Cold mud oozed into the fabric of her skirt. A twinge jabbed her and terror banged against her rib cage.

Overriding the sense of shock was her need to get home where she’d be safe. She grabbed the strap of her purse and attempted to stand. Pain shot through her hip and down her leg. She fell back into the mud.

A man dressed in black came out of the darkness and stood over her. Before she could cry out, he bent down and covered her mouth with his huge hand.

"Don't scream. You'll wake the whole neighborhood. I’m not going to hurt you." He helped her stand.

The streetlight lit his face and a lock of coffee brown hair fell over his furrowed brow. Five o'clock shadow covered his jaw and his full lips formed a grim line. Compassion shone in his obsidian eyes. It was incongruous to his hardened expression. He reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t think of a name.

"Your uncle sent me,” he said in a deep voice.

Blurb
Shattered Rules
Workaholic FBI agent Brick Larson loves his job. He doesn't need personal relationships. He’s been burned too many times. The last thing he wants is to get involved with the younger sister of his ex-fiance. But to defend the United States that’s exactly what he’ll do.
Kelly Shaw secretly loved Brick when she was a teenager and would have trusted him with her life then. But that was years ago. Neither are the same people they used to be. Can she trust him with her current secret?
Anna thanks again for having me.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Welcome Tina Donahue

Great to have you as my guest, Tina. Tell us about yourself. 
In addition to being a hopeless chocoholic, I’m an award-winning, bestselling novelist in erotic, paranormal, contemporary and historical romance for Samhain Publishing, Ellora’s Cave, and Kensington. I’m relieved to say that Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised my work (I've been known to get quite giddy when I get an awesome review). Three of my erotic romances (Adored, Lush Velvet Nights, and Deep, Dark, Delicious) were named finalists in the 2011 EPIC competition (yay!). The French review site, Blue Moon reviews, chose my erotic romance Sensual Stranger as their Book of the Year 2010 (erotic category) (double/triple/quadruple yay!!!). The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for Lush Velvet Nights, and two of my titles (The Yearning and Deep, Dark, Delicious) received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition (2011 and 2012) (to say I was relieved/giddy/flabbergasted is an understatement). Take Me Away and Adored both won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). I’m featured in the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market (a dream come true). In my pre-novel days, I was the editor of an award–winning Midwestern newspaper and worked in Story Direction for a Hollywood production company.

Wow! Impressive. Are you a full time writer or do you have a “day job”?
I have a day job, also know in the trade as an EDJ (evil day job). However, I do also write full time (before/after work and on weekends).

Do you have other talents? 
I have a talent for shopping.  Can usually spot a bargain a mile away.

What do you do to promote your work?
A better question might be – what don’t I do to promote my work? I do all that I can. I have a website/blog - http://www.tinadonahue.com/.
I’m also owner of Sweet n Sexy Divas -http://sweetnsexydivas.blogspot.com/ - where I showcase my work and that of other authors. I’m one of the resident members at Romance Books 4 Us - http://romancebooks4us.blogspot.com/. I visit other authors’ websites, The Romance Studio, and other locales to promo my new releases. Yes, I’m a promo addict and I’m not ashamed of it.

Tell us about your current series.
Just finished the cover art request for Stolen Desire, Book Four in my Outlawed Realm series for Samhain. It’s due to release March 11, 2014. Don’t have the cover art as yet. But here’s the blurb:

One touch is never enough.
Outlawed Realm, Book 4
Her freedom…her heart…depends on one man. A criminal to his realm.
Abducted from Seattle to E5—a hostile dimension of fire and ice—Paige has little choice except to trust a stranger who’s come to rescue her. A man like none she’s ever met. Potently masculine. His courage and honor remarkable. His past unknown and a shocking surprise.
Zekin was once one of E2’s ruling elite. Sentenced to E5 for his supposed crimes against the realm, Zekin and his men have taken over E5’s prison colony. Risking all, he rescues those brought to this dimension by the guards for their carnal pleasure.
In a stunning underwater world populated by strange creatures and liberated pleasure slaves, Paige experiences a sexual awakening within Zekin’s impassioned embrace. True intimacy neither of them has ever known. Their need becomes unquenchable.
Their future uncertain. From different realms, they must find a way to survive the dangers of E5’s harsh environment, the possibility of the guards’ attack and Paige’s eventual return to Seattle. A journey she will not—cannot—take without him.

Warning: Scorching hot sex and loads of aching tenderness between a drool-worthy hunk who’s determined to do the right thing and a woman who’s not about to give him up.

What inspired your latest book?
Stolen Desire takes place on the 5th dimension of Earth. In my Outlawed Realm series, I've explored the other dimensions, so it was natural that I’d finally get to the 5th one. J I actually created this other world while I was on a business flight to the home office for my EDJ. Most pleasant flight I've ever taken, because I was lost in this new world I was creating, along with the characters that would populate it.

What is most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? 
Emotions, hands down. Executing deep POV and emotional build is extremely difficult. I have absolutely no trouble with humor in my writing. In fact, my first books were romantic comedies. However, getting the angst the characters feel on the page, or the carnal hunger, their intense desire…wow. Sometimes there just doesn't seem to be enough words to convey what I’m feeling in my heart.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a plotter. I plot out everything fully before I write one word of the story. Most times, my outlines are longer than my novels. Plotting, to me, is like taking a road trip. If I want to get to New York City from Los Angeles, it’s easier if I use a map and a definite route, rather than hopping in my car, just taking off and hoping for the best.

Are you traditionally published, self-published or both?
Traditionally published.

How do you create sexual tension in your romances?
By keeping the characters out of each other’s arms for as long as I can, while also throwing in a lot of direct gazes, unexpected touches and quiet moments where the rest of the world seems to fade away for the hero/heroine. You know, those times when they’re aching to touch each other, share their heat, but something is in the way, forcing them to wait, increasing their passion, their intense desire to be together.

What is your writing routine like?
I write everyday of the year except for Christmas and New Year’s. I get up hours before I’m due in for my EDJ and write. I write after I work my EDJ. I write on the weekends.

What are you reading now?
Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale. Great book – awesome writer. I tend to read other genres (this one is sort of a crime/suspense), rather than romance. Keeps my writing fresh.

We’d love a blurb and an excerpt from your latest book.
That would be Deep Within Me, Book Two in The Prophecy series for Samhain.
Blurb:
Unrestrained desire…danger without end.
The Prophecy, Book 2
For one agonizing moment, Zeke Neekoma thought his most feared vision had come true. Liz was lifeless in his arms, murdered by her own clan for one traitorous act—loving him. Then her father’s healing touch brought her back.
She hasn't emerged from death unchanged. Now her healing gift leaves her drained, weak. Worse, Zeke is still tortured with visions of a woman covered in blood.
Liz aches for a future with Zeke, to always know the thrill of his body imprisoning hers with mindless pleasure. At her reanimation, she redoubles her determination to use her healing gifts to help his people—except Zeke refuses to allow her to use them.
But with her clan leader set to launch his next attack, Zeke and Jacob have no choice but to try to heal Liz with the same sensual force she used to save them. Yet it may not be enough to avert a merciless plan that will test Zeke’s humanity, risk Liz’s life—and threaten their timeless bond.
Excerpt:
Liz could feel Isabel’s glare and had to force herself not to glance over her shoulder at the woman. Once Zeke brought Liz past the last of the crowd, she murmured, “Where are we going?”
“My room.”
As he had during her first time in the stronghold, Zeke led Liz past a series of halls, each of them bullet-ridden now and filthy with blood. Earlier, they’d been filled with children playing games, watching TV. Liz’s stomach rolled. If Carreon’s men had harmed one of those innocents tonight…
At the awful thought, she squeezed Zeke’s hand.
He looked over. “What?”
“Were any of your people harmed?”
“Except for Jacob and Samuel, no.”
Samuel. He’d been guarding the outside door when Kele and Carreon’s men had arrived. One of those lieutenants had shot both of Samuel’s knees, leaving him in agony. Before Liz had left the stronghold, she’d healed him. Not to the extent that he was whole again. That would have taken time she hadn’t had in her determination to see Carreon dead. The last she’d seen of Samuel, he was sagged against one of the vehicles, shouting at her not to drive away.
“Wait,” Liz said.
“Why?” Zeke kept his pace, forcing her to follow.
“I didn't heal Samuel fully. I should—”
“Your father will take care of it.”
Was he joking? “He’s more tired than I am. He’s old, Zeke. I want him to rest, not tend to your men’s injuries when I can do it.”
“Samuel will be fine.”
They’d reached the stairway that led to the stronghold’s second level. Zeke directed Liz up those steps. The first time they’d done this, he’d taken her to his brother’s room where she’d pressed her body against Jacob’s, restoring him to full health. Unlike her father’s power that allowed him to heal the gravest injuries with a mere touch, Liz’s gift wasn’t as strong. When a man was near death, all of her had to touch him in order for her to push enough of her healing gift and life force inside.
It was only when the injury was relatively minor, like her father’s sprained ankle or even Samuel’s bloodied knees, that her touch alone would suffice.
A touch she hadn’t used since leaving Carreon’s stronghold.
When she and Zeke reached the landing, Liz asked, “Why don’t you want me to heal anyone?”
He went in the opposite direction of Jacob’s room, toward the end of the hall and a set of grand double doors. Constructed of a dark wood, possibly mahogany, they bore geometric designs—the same as those on the rugs gracing the walls—and had ornate silver handles. “Did I say that?”
No. But he kept keeping her from doing it. “I can heal Samuel’s knees without crawling all over him, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Zeke stopped at the double doors and regarded her, his emotions well concealed. “Good to know.”
Was he teasing her…or was he worried about something? Liz recalled his weird questions in the Jeep, his unease as he’d studied her as a physician might, looking for signs of what? Sickness? Physical decline? Death?
She stared at him.
He ignored her and opened one of the doors. “Go on.”
She backed into the room, noting its limestone walls, the same as those in Jacob’s, decorated with similar snake totems in vivid hues. However, this space was three times as large. She regarded the wide bed of a rustic construction, its design matching the nightstands and lamps. What tourists would pay thousands for in order to possess authentic Indian art and craftsmanship.
“What’s going on?” Liz asked, wanting to know what Zeke was thinking. What worried him about her.
He closed the door. Its spring lock clicked faintly. The moment he touched the limestone wall, it glowed as it had in Jacob’s bath and room, the rock a soft golden shade, lending a dreamy, cozy feel to this space.
The setting should have relaxed, then aroused Liz with what was surely coming.
Zeke’s silence precluded that.
More questions poured from her. “Why won’t you let me heal anyone? In the Jeep, why did you ask if I’d fallen asleep? Wait.” She interrupted herself even though he hadn't said anything. Liz shook her head. “You said I’d passed out. Why? And why did my father ask how I was feel—”
He stopped her with his kisses on each corner of her mouth, surprisingly tender and gentle, his arms wrapped protectively around her.
Unable to resist, Liz twined her arms around his neck and sagged into him. “Zeke—”
“No more questions,” he said with a sigh, his mouth on her ear, his body pressed close. “Not now. Just hold me. Please.”
His weary plea did more than any command. The love Liz heard in those few words touched her soul. Drawing him as close as she could, she nestled her face against his neck and suckled his skin.

Thanks for being here today, Tina.

*One commenter will receive one of Tina's backlist ebooks from this list:
Adored – RWA award-winning; EPIC 2011 Finalist; 4 Stars RT
Deep, Dark, Delicious – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Holt Medallion Award of Merit
Lush Velvet Nights – EPIC 2011 Finalist; Golden Nib Award
In His Arms – SIX 5 Star Reviews; 4 Stars RT
Sensual Stranger – 2010 Book of the Year (erotic); 4 Stars RT
The Yearning – Top Ten Bestseller
Take Me Away – #1 Pick, Miz Love Loves Books
Unending Desire – Best Book Rating LASR
SiNN – Nominated for Book of the Week LASR
Sinfully Wicked – Magnificent – Romancing the Book
Claiming Magique – Top Pick – NOR
Illicit Desire – Four Stars Romantic Times
Come Fill Me – Five Stars – Guilty Pleasures

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Welcome Pat Amsden


I am very pleased to welcome Pat to my blog. Not only is she a fellow member of my RWA chapter, she's also a good friend, and former critique partner.

Hi, Anna. Great to be here.

I'm a writer of romance and mystery who lives on the West Coast of Canada. I'm older than I care to admit and live with my son who's currently working on a two year college program in computers. Thank goodness because while I use computers constantly, both in my day job and for writing, I'm not a high tech person!

In my day job I work at our local hospital as a clerk. Many would think a position as clerk boring but on my 'Friday' this week I was in the middle of asking someone their address and accident details when a helicopter landed with a trauma patient, the printer wasn't printing where it was supposed to and someone interrupted to say he was having chest pain, could someone please help him. We did! The truth is I work with a team of health professionals who are highly trained, and do, on a regular basis, save lives. I'm lucky to be a part of it.

Currently I have two books out on Amazon. One is a romantic suspense with a twist of humor and is set in Vegas. The other is a cozy mystery set in Victoria, Canada with a heroine who is the owner of a chocolate shop and catering business. When someone dies holding one of her chocolates she has to solve the mystery.

Both have been well received going to the top 100 in their categories multiple times. Chocolate Worth Dying For has been in the top 100 for cozy mysteries and culinary cozies more often than out of it when I check. I'll admit that's been fairly often!

I'm working hard on a Christmas chocolate mystery and planning to do another romantic suspense with my Lost In Vegas characters. But releasing the first book has given me invaluable feed-back from customers who like my book. Particularly JT, the hero! He'll be back along with Kate. In fact I'm thinking of making them the 'Hart to Hart' of our generation solving crimes while living a glamorous live in Las Vegas and having an ongoing romance with each other!

I’d love to say I have a steady routine and stick to it. But the truth is I work a job that has shifts that start at six in the morning for the earliest while the latest starts at eleven in the evening and ends at seven in the morning. It’s also a department that goes twenty-four seven so Monday to Friday just doesn't exist in my world. I aim for an average of five hundred words a day but I’ll admit I don’t always reach it.

And then there’s the wonderful world of marketing. I’d love to think I could just put my book out there and have hundreds and thousands of avid fans just waiting to devour it. Such is not the case. I've arranged book blasts and one of my son's friends did a book trailer for Lost In Vegas. I thought it was great and I’m sure all of this has helped. I've also done Free Par-tay which for me has resulted in a lot of people downloading my books and trying them out. They don’t all love them but a lot do and I think something that gets books into readers’ hands is the best type of publicity there is.

I love five star reviews but not everyone is going to love your work. I've had reviews saying ‘why would a chocolate shop owner try to solve a murder.’ The person made good points and truthfully I don’t think she’s going to enjoy culinary cozies. Fortunately other people do.

I've also made mistakes. I had Lost In Vegas beta read and proofed as well as doing it myself. Critique partners gave feedback and writing instructors gave advice. Then when it was put up something happened in the formatting and from Chapter Five on it was showing commas every time there was an apostrophe. Down it came and changes were made but why it did that I don’t know. I changed a character’s name and missed it when it went through edits. Readers didn't. I took it down and fixed it quickly. In a fifty thousand word manuscript there were exactly three instances. Would it bother me? Yes. Did I change it? Yes.

Will I ever make another mistake? I’d almost guarantee it. It’s part of being human. It sometimes makes one long to be traditionally published with a huge marketing department behind you and large advances. It should be noted, however, that most of these books contains mistakes as well if you look for them. And even traditionally published authors are expected to maintain a web presence and market themselves these days.

There are good parts to that. There’s more contact and feedback than ever before between author and reader. As a writer having the opportunity to connect with readers who have read your work is priceless. Unfortunately there’s only so much time in the day and finding time to do it all can be – a challenge.

I love telling stories. Whether as an indie or traditionally published I consider myself fortunate to be part of this world.

Thanks for being my guest, Pat.
Pat's website
Excerpt:
That didn't mean she didn't notice city counselor, Keith, with his seeing eye dog, Murray, or Nikki Benshaw, columnist for the local gossip paper. Jewellery designer Sanje Gupte was posing for a picture, when photographer Will Reimer, got the shot of a life-time.
At that precise moment, developer, Ron Vandemeer, crashed through the upper balcony of an Olde Towne storefront onto the cobble stoned street in front of her, clutching his throat with one hand while foaming at the mouth. The other hand had a half-eaten chocolate. One of hers!
She let go of Tanya who reeled out of the way saying, “He doesn't look so good,” while Maxine loosened his shirt in a desperate attempt to make him feel better. But even as 911 was called and Dr. Matthews knelt down beside her, to help in any way he could, it was all too obvious Ron Vandemeer was on his last legs. Within minutes he was dead.
Watching as officers clad in white suits complete with white head gear that completely covered their head to avoid any possible contamination and clear plastic masks, inspired fear in the party guests who’d been told to remain in the small waiting area just before Olde Towne. They murmured amongst themselves.
Maxine stood to one side her arms crossed as her fingers dug into them shivering in horror at what had just happened. She watched as Ron’s body was put into a body bag and zipped up, the ambulance drivers wheeling it out on the stretcher.
Tracey Vandemeer’s high pitched wail filled the building and tore at her soul. A family friend led her to a side-room with the help of a police officer as the wails turned into sobbing. How could an evening that had started with such promise have gone so terribly wrong?
Party guests pointed in Maxine’s direction. People she’d grown up with, known her entire life, even if only by sight, now pointed at her and whispered. She heard the words poison and murder. It wasn't possible. She knew that.
She felt as if she was shrinking down, her heart collapsing in on itself as she watched all the food she’d made bagged up and taken away. As police officers dressed in HazMat suits carried out all her cooking supplies.
Heath joined her. “He probably died of a heart attack. Or maybe a brain aneurysm,” he said, giving her a weak smile. Six feet two, with spiked brown hair and a tattoo on his arm, he was fresh out of cooking school, full of enthusiasm and a zest for life.
She gave him a stricken look. “That’s still horrible.”
He sighed, looking her straight in the eyes. “You didn't cause this. There was nothing you could have done to prevent it.”
“I know,” she whispered, a tear sliding down her cheek. “But I can’t help feeling awful about…about,” she gestured towards Olde Towne, to all the party guests, “this!”
Before she had a chance to say anything more her sometimes boyfriend , detective Patrick Shannon from Victoria PD arrived with his partner.
“I know you’re not responsible for this,” he said, looking at her with those blue, blue eyes that had once so charmed her. “But we have to cover all our bases, dot all our T’s. We’re questioning everyone.”
“I understand,” she said bravely. She just wished it didn't feel as the eyes of everyone in the room followed her as he led her into a small room to interview her.
“We’ll be testing the chocolates and wine,” he said. “No choice really. And we've advised everyone that if they have any concerns about their health they need to get it checked out.”
She gave a small cry.
“It’s just precautionary,” he said, clearly uncomfortable. “I mean I know you would never,” His words were cut off as she gave a strangled cry.
“You know I wouldn't.” Just the thought she might have contributed in any way to the death of another made her sick to her stomach. She looked at him in horror.
He sighed. “Is there anything you did differently tonight? Did you have anything out on the counter while you were making the chocolates, something that might have…”
“You know I wouldn't be that careless,” she said angrily."My kitchen and equipment are spotless. And we all follow Food Safe precautions!”
“We have to examine all the possibilities,” he said evenly.
“I know,” she said brokenly.