Sunday, December 30, 2012

Yearly Round Up



It's the end of the year, so instead of the usual monthly round up, I thought I'd do something a little different.

Enjoy!



Friday, December 28, 2012

Foodie Friday



From Juniper Bell

The heroine of my latest release, Dana Arthur of The Receptionist series, isn’t much of a cook. But she’s a whiz with a takeout menu. In fact, the first scene of Book 3, UNLEASHING THE RECEPTIONIST, involves a very interesting delivery from a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Since I’m a big fan of Chinese food, here’s one of my favorite recipes, along with a snippet from that infamous scene. Enjoy!

SESAME NOODLES

Ingredients for peanut dressing

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes

Ingredients for noodle salad

3/4 lb dried linguine or spaghetti
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 zucchini, cut into slivers
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Make the dressing:

Purée all ingredients in a blender for about 2 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl.

Make the salad:

Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.

Add pasta, scallions, bell peppers, zucchini and sesame seeds to the dressing and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

EXCERPT FROM UNLEASHING THE RECEPTIONIST

Someone knocked on the door. Simon quickly put me behind him. “Who is it,” called Ethan, warily.

“Great Wok delivery.” It was a girl. It must be Belinda, the tall, cute waitress with the nose ring. We’d gotten to know her a little, the Great Wok of China being our favorite neighborhood hole in the wall. She worked nights so she could go to auditions in Manhattan during the day.
“Just leave it on the desk out there.” She didn’t answer.

“Did she leave?” Simon whispered. Another knock.

“Mr. Cowell? Can I come in? Please, sir?”

I peered from behind Simon’s back as Ethan’s ice-blue gaze flew to meet Simon’s. We all knew the meaning of that pleading little “sir”. She was on to us. And she wanted in. Silently, we tossed the question around between us. Simon nodded. I nodded, curious as always to see what they would do, and trusting them completely.

Finally, Ethan, always the Senior Partner, answered. “You may enter. Leave the food outside for now.”

“Yes, sir.” We heard bustling, then the door opened and Belinda walked in, her eyes huge and bright. I’d always liked her—we’d bonded over the nose ring her mean boss detested but she refused to remove. I kept expecting her to be fired, but I guess wannabe actresses moonlighting as hot delivery girls are hard to come by.

“Thanks for letting me come in,” she said in a rush. “You won’t regret it. I promise to be good and do whatever you want.”

“Don’t you have to get back to work?” Simon asked. Trust him to worry about her work obligations.

“This is my last delivery. I already clocked out. Everyone will figure I went home after this. Please. I think about you guys all the time. All of you.”

All of us? Was she including me in that statement? Still lurking behind Simon, I eyed her. She had the kind of tall, boyish figure you see in department- store catalogues, but her look was pure punk goddess, with purple streaks in her hair and a silver ribbon choker with a skull medallion at her throat.

“Where’s Dana?”

“Why?” Ethan asked instantly. “Nothing happens here without Dana.”

“That’s why I asked. Dana rocks.”

“Glad you think so.” Ethan cast me an amused look. “She’s hiding behind
Simon. She’s not usually one to be shy, but you caught us in the middle of something.”

I made a little face at him. He wasn’t the one with a belt tied around his nipples and his blouse flopping open.

“I did?” Belinda’s voice vibrated with a furtive kind of thrill that made me wonder how many nights she’d lain awake wondering about us. Simon, Ethan
and I have a special bond that’s hard to explain to other people. “What sort of something? Can I play too?”




Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thursday 13: It's Winter!

From snuggling in front of a fire to catching rays on the beach, some activities just scream "wintertime."
  1. Kinsey Holley: Sleeping with the windows open when it's cool enough (like today!!!)
  2. Juniper Bell: Stepping off the plane in Hawaii, then continually checking the temperature back in Alaska.
  3. Skylar Kade: snuggling under the double-thick comforter on the bed.
  4. Meg Benjamin: Sitting inside, warm and comfy, and knowing you don't have to go out in the snow and sub-zero temps.
  5. Erin Nicholas: Staying inside in front of the fireplace with movies and my kids.
  6. Kate Davies: Drinking hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps in front of the fireplace with a good book!
  7.  Kelly Jamieson: Reading by the fireplace. Or skating.
  8. Meg Benjamin: Walking around the neighborhood at night after a heavy snowfall--it's gorgeous.
  9. PG Forte: Mulled wine instead of room temperature wine? I don't do winter. Ooh! Hawaii. That's a good winter activity.
  10. Skylar Kade: In Southern California, we don't really have snow... so my fave winter activity is sunbathing! (don't hate me!)
  11. Sydney Somers: Sliding with my family until I can't feel my fingers or toes and then heading inside for hot chocolate with marshmallows.
  12. The Naughty Nine: getting ready for the next Romantic Times conference.
  13. The Naughty Nine: This winter, we're excited to launch our Next Big Thing! Stay tuned to learn more ;)
What is your favorite winter season activity?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas with the Herd


Happy Holidays!
So I've mentioned before that Master Chef and I have five kids between us (10, 8, 6, 4, 3.5) and a lot of the time when we go out as a family and pile in or out of the van, people seem to think it's like the clowns in a circus car--how many are in there? So you can imagine how chaotic we were expecting Christmas morning to be this year when all five of them were together.
Now to put this in perspective, they were so wired Christmas Eve that anyone who stopped by might have thought we made them snort powdered sugar. If three weren't tearing around the house like they were auditioning for Rudolph's Reindeer Games, then the other two were. And that was between them alternately blasting parts of the Polar Express from the TV, asking for the hundredth time when other people were coming over (because yes, apparently the seven of us wasn't enough we had to have another ten people over) and just trying to see who could be the loudest (every parent's favorite game, right?). 
So you can imagine that while we were excited to see the looks on their faces when they opened their presents, we were equally nervous that Christmas morning might go flying off the rails faster than they could toss aside boring old clothes so cleverly disguised in all that wrapping paper.
Turns out we couldn't have been more wrong. Those pumped-up, Santa-loving hellions of the night before were happy, sweet, appreciative and so excited for each other all we could do was smile. And be secretly grateful we have another 365 days to go before the chaos starts all over again.
How was your Christmas? Calm or chaotic? :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Five Most Exciting Events on Christmas Day

Of course I'm excited to open my presents and all of that, but there's SO much more going on tomorrow!
  1. Natasha Moore's "Silken Canvas" releases!
  2. Watching Phin open his gifts: I've been taking sneaky notes all year when he mentions wanting something, so this Christmas is going to be REALLY successful. +2 to Skylar!
  3. Video conferencing with my family across the country so we can "see" each other for the holiday.
  4. Les Miserables--I'm already stocking up on tissues.
  5.  The Snowmen--yes, The Doctor is BACK!
  6.  
     Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas fun

This is thanks to Kim B!!!

Featuring Erin, Meg, Juniper, Sydney and Kelly...







Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Friday, December 21, 2012

First Line Friday!



“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”  —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

"Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." – J.K. Rolwing, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (1997)


Welcome to
First Line Friday!


Here's how it works:

We'll post the first lines from three books, some written by us, some by author friends.

Then you will all be asked to vote for your favorite, without knowing who wrote it or what book it comes from-- until Saturday!

On Saturday, the lines along with their book cover, blurb and author will be listed so you can check them out! 

ALL voters, no matter who you choose or which line wins, will be entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift certificate.

Easy and fun, for all of us!  We hope you'll play along!

And now, here's First Line Friday!

The lines:

1.  Flames licked higher and higher across muscles glistening with sweat and dancing with precision movements.
  
2.  On a typical workday, if I’m chained to my desk it’s with silk cords and for one purpose only—because it leads to screaming orgasms for me and my two delectable bosses, Simon and Ethan. 
  
3.  Need slammed into Brogan Wilder like a two-by-four to the gut.




Okay... make your choice!  List your favorite by number or by quoting the line in the comments!  All votes up until midnight will be counted.  And don't forget to check back tomorrow to see who wrote which line and how to check out the rest of the books!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

HOT DWARFS



Don't know how many of our readers are Tolkien nerds, like me and Erin Nicholas (I bet Kate and Sky are too - can't remember.)

As I mentioned on Twitter the other day, I could still, even before going to see The Hobbit on Saturday and not having read the book in more than 20 years, name every dwarf. This isn't bragging; this is confessing. I'm a big ol geek.

When I first read that Richard Armitage had been cast as Thorin Oakenshield, dispossessed King Under The Mountain who leads 12 dwarfs and 1 reluctant Hobbit to reclaim his kingdom from a dragon, I thought 1) He's 6'2!! How are they going to DO that? and 2) Oh my God, am I going to be lusting after Thorin Oakenshield? That feels wrong, y'all. Just so, so wrong.

When the first photos from the set leaked out--way before the film was finished but with all the actors in full makeup--I was kind of relieved. The publicity shot of Richard/Thorin made him look like a Klingon, and I do not lust after Klingons (NTTAWTT):
Doesn't look like Thorin, son of Thrain. Looks more like...Thorg, son of Thraug, or something....
I knew I'd see the movie the weekend it came out - I'm a Tokien nerd and an Armitage lover. I just figured when the movie came out, I'd be lusting through the latex, if you know what I mean.

So it opened last Friday, and I went to see it for my birthday, and...well, as a a blog I just discovered put it, there's a lot of Hot Dwarf Cognitive Dissonance going on up in here. Like, I know I'm not supposed to be thinking about how well Thorin probably wields that mighty pickaxe but damned if I can help it.  As one commenter there said, "HOLY FUCKING SHIT, THORIN GODDAMNED OAKENSHIELD."

Yes. Yes, indeed.

Richard contemplates the Thorin Leggo figure. "Oh look -  tiny little Leggo chest hairs!"

"Oh, yeah, I'll mine you baby. I'll mine you real good."

Ok, this one's kind of goofy looking. But I like the beard.

The same commenter asked if she was the only one who found Armitage hotter as a dwarf and I said - no. I guarantee you, no, and this was no accident on Jackson's part, neither, sister. They made him dark and hairy and hot on purpose. Rightly or wrongly, ever since FOTR was filmed, they wanted to draw the chicks as well as the men. Rightly or wrongly, people always assume the male geeks outnumber the girl geeks, so they made Aragorn hot and Legolas pretty (and no, I'm not forgetting Figwit, but that one was a total accident.)

I'm sure when it came time to cast The Hobbit, with no big studly elf or human characters to cast, they figured they'd make some hot dwarves.

Cause no, Thorin's not the only one.  There's Kili:

You think only Aragorn can smolder? Nay, madam!

AND I've got better hair than the Heir to Isildur!

And his twin brother Fili:
Like Gosling, only with leather!











Maybe even prettier than Gosling. Hard to tell with the mustache braids.
I know there's some dirty, dirty LOTR fanfiction out there. I've never wanted to read it. Until now.Paging Kelly Jamieson. Rule of Four?




I'm completely unfamiliar with Dan O'Gorman, who plays Fili (the blond.) I don't know Aidan Turner, who plays Kili, either, but apparently he starred in a BBC costume drama about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who are my favorite artists, so I'll be watching that on Amazon this weekend.

Several of the commenters on the blog I linked above agreed with me - these guys were definitely chosen in part for eye candy appeal. Now, Armitage is a fine actor, and they did a great job making him into a believable dwarf - but they couldn't hide the hot, and I don't think they wanted to.

As for Kili and Fili, more than one blog, including The Mary Sue, has noted great potential for Middle Earth's first boy band. (Seriously - Peter Jackson's got quite the eye for battle scenes with Heroic Hair Blowing in the Breeze.)

If you're a Tolkien fan, read the Mary Sue post - Jackson's gonna sex it (or at least romance it) up like he did in LOTR. I'm not complaining.

Meanwhile, I leave you with a GIF I shamelessly copied from Zoe Archer's wonderful tumblr site. (And she got it from madelinelime.)















Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Guest Blogger Dana Marie Bell - Plot Bunnies



I hate plot bunnies.

No. Seriously. They suck big hairy donkey balls. (That was my reaction the first time I saw them, too. Oh! Mocha flavored!)

I just had to get the bug to write avenging angels, hunting evil in the darkness of the night and keeping us safe from the things that go bump in the night. Do you have any idea how many series I’m working on right now? There’s the Halle Shifters, Gray Court, True Destiny, Maggie’s Grove, Poconos Pack and Heart’s Desire. So the last thing I needed was yet another series plot bunny making me nuts, and this one? Is insane making. The research into angelic powers alone took me to sites I hadn’t looked at since my D&D days, when I was driving my gaming group crazy with fireball-farting insects the size of Buicks.

(Wait. I think it was Dusty who did that. But I am so totally stealing that idea! Maggie’s Grove needs fireball farting insects. Excuse me while I go make a note…)

Anyway. You all know me. I can’t take a story and make it, like, a stand-alone title. It goes against my personal Geneva Convention or something. Soon I have to sit down and write all the back-up stories that start rolling around in my head. For instance, I’ve already started the second Nephilim book, about Seth’s friend Dante and Abby’s friend Beth. I’ve got the working title, The Fire Within, but that will more than likely change before it gets published. And I’ve got all their friends to write about, too, and a Big Bad who’s going to start making an appearance, and…

And I think need a bigger bunny hutch.

Here’s an excerpt from All For You, book 1 of The Nephilim, coming December 24 from Carina Press:

The Nephilim Book 1

Genre: Paranormal Romance

ISBN: 978-14268-9484-8

Release Date: December 24, 2012

Someone—or something—is stalking Abby Marcheson. Luckily, she has her brother’s hunky friend Seth to keep her safe. Abby falls easily into her protected life, with Seth constantly by her side, and when he asks her out on a date, she’s eager to accept.

But Seth is much more than he seems. A Nephilim, a son of Angels with wings of his own, Seth is bound to spend his life hunting the Shemyaza, evil descendants of Angels. He’s kept his wings hidden from Abby in order not to frighten her, but as her stalker becomes bolder, Seth begins to suspect that a Shem has Abby in its sights…

As their flirtation escalates into full-blown passion, Seth is torn. Should he reveal his true nature to the beautiful, trusting Abby? Will she accept him, wings and all, or will Abby flee her guardian angel and fall prey to the sinister force that wishes her harm?

Warning: This book contains explicit sex and graphic language.


Abby’s windows were open. The aroma of burritos wafted out to him, his stomach immediately growling.

As good as those burritos smelled, and God, they smelled amazing, she shouldn’t have had her windows open. She didn’t know that she was being targeted. She had no reason to believe she should stay behind locked doors and closed windows.

Damn it. He was so fucking tired. But he’d promised Bill, his closest human friend, that he would watch over the man’s baby sister when she moved two doors down from him.

He sighed. So far, he was doing a bang-up job of it.

Not. He headed for his own town house. He was too tired tonight to keep an eye on Abby. He’d contact one of his brothers, have him watch while Seth slept. Micah would do it, if only because Seth would then owe him one.

He managed to get into his town house without falling flat on his face. He did wind up crawling up the stairs and into his bedroom. Kicking off his shoes, he crawled onto the bed and pulled his cell phone from his pocket.

“Hey, Seth. Need me to guard your girl for you?” Micah’s deep, serene voice flowed over him. If anyone could keep Abby safe, it was Micah.

Seth smiled. “I’d appreciate it, thanks.”

“No problem. Rough night?”

“Yeah. Damien’s intel panned out. The son of a bitch was hired to find Abby.” Without Damien’s unique abilities, Seth wouldn’t even have known she was in trouble until it was too late. The name Marcheson had shown up on one of Damien’s computer-generated alarms. When he realized it was the little sister of Bill Marcheson, Dante’s coworker and Seth’s friend, he’d immediately contacted Seth.

Someone had done a thorough search on her, using paths open only to the Shem and the Nephilim, dark magics and light, mixed with modern technology that no human could have performed. If Damien hadn’t found the traces of the search, hadn’t insisted on hunting down the Shem who’d initiated it, they might have already lost her to a Shem’s hunger.

Seth didn’t even want to think about that. There was something sweet and innocent about Abby, something that hadn’t dimmed as she went from gawky teenager to pretty, shy woman. Seth would hate to see that light of hers go out, snuffed by a Shem bastard.

Gabriel had agreed to allow Seth, as a friend of the family, to officially guard Abby while the rest of the Neph did what they did best.

Hunt Shemyaza.

“Shit. I’m on my way.”

“Stay safe, my brother.” Seth’s hands were beginning to shake. Fuck the pizza. He was going to sleep. He’d hit Waffle House in the morning or something.

“Stay safe, my brother.” Micah hung up, probably already on his way. An Angelus like Seth, Micah would fly to her home, invisible, and guard her until morning.

But Seth found sleep elusive. The Shem they’d killed tonight hadn’t known why he’d been hired. He hadn’t known anything other than someone was after her, that someone might want more than her blood. Now Gabriel wanted them at the mansion. The leader of the Nephilim was making it official.

Sweet little Abby Marcheson was on a Shem’s hit list, and not one of them knew why.


Happy Holidays, everyone!


Dana Marie Bell has lived mostly in the Northeast with a brief stint on the island of St. Croix. She lives with her husband, their two maniacal children, an evil ice-cream stealing cat and a bull terrier that thinks it’s a Pekinese. She also suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis (http://www.arthritis.org/disease-center.php?disease_id=2), a rare inflammatory arthritis, and can be seen tooling around in her mobility scooter or leaning on her favorite cane. You can learn more about Dana at www.danamariebell.com.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Reading Christmas

There are a lot of ways you can get into the spirit of the season at this time of year. Music helps. Decorations are great. Christmas lights, eggnog, trimmed trees—all of them can sort of ease you into things. But for me, books are one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit. I’m a sucker for Christmas books.

When I as a kid, it was A Christmas Carol, which really scared the crap out of me, ironic since I’m now writing ghost stories myself. As a teenager, I discovered Ngaio Marsh’s Tied Up In Tinsel. It has a wonderful description of a fancy Christmas celebration at an English manor house. Of course, it’s a mystery rather than a romance, so there’s not a lot of canoodling going on (although Inspector Alleyn does briefly get it on with his wife), but it was still a book that made me start feeling Christmasy.

These days, I’ve got a wide selection of books I can use to get that holiday spirit going since romance writers seem particularly fond of Christmas settings. I find I gravitate first to historicals, maybe because of that early Dickens influence. Stephanie Laurens’s The Promise In a Kiss is set in eighteenth century London and France, and the descriptions of decorations and parties are particularly lush. Eloisa James’s An Affair Before Christmas once got me through a thoroughly ghastly night snowbound in Wichita (the turnpike had closed down) and kept me from losing my Christmas spirit altogether. Mary Balogh has lots of Christmas books, including Christmas Belle, which combines both a Christmas plot and a secret baby plot—how much more romantic can you get? Barbara Metzger also has lots of Christmas historicals, and there are lots of Christmas regency anthologies.

There are lots of contemporary Christmas books too, of course, like the Santa Baby anthology with Jennifer Crusie, Lori Foster and Carly Phillips. Another that stands out in my mind is Robyn Carr’s Virgin River Christmas, which got me through another snowy trip, this time through Nebraska.

There are also paranormal Christmas books, like A Clockwork Christmas by Jenny Schwartz, J.K. Coi, PG Forte and Stacy Gail. PG has another Christmas book out this year from Loose Id, Finders Keepers.

And speaking of PG's new books, other Naughties have Christmas books too. Skylar Kade has Christmas Packages. Kelly Jamieson has All I Want For Christmas. And Kate Davies has Home For Christmas. The closest I come is Be My Baby which ends on Christmas, but to be honest Thanksgiving gets more time than Christmas in  that book.

For this year’s journey to Iowa, I’m splitting my Christmas reading between historical and contemporary. I’m packing Grace Burrowes’s Lady Sophia’s Christmas Wish, the historical (I’ve already finished her Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight). But I’m also taking Lisa Kleypas’s Christmas Eve At Friday Harbor, to cover the contemporary end of things.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed lots of Christmas books, and they’ve made my holidays a lot happier, in some cases saving me from holiday meltdowns that wouldn’t have been a good idea at all. Thanks all you romance writers who’ve come through for me! Maybe one of these days I’ll come up with a Christmas book of my own.

So what about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas book, maybe one you reread every year or so just to get you in the right mood? Give me some more recommendations, y’all!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Cover Reveal!

Four of the Naughties are excited to share more about their group project... including the gorgeous covers!!!

You're all invited to the wedding of the season in Promise Harbor, Massachusetts.  But don't worry-- it won't require a plane ticket.  You can join the party from your own couch! 

The festivities start on March 19th and go through April 30th!  That's right-- four books, four authors, one wedding... well, kind of!


Jilted, book one, by Kelly Jamieson  (March 19th)


Bolted, book two, by Meg Benjamin (April 2nd)


Busted, book three, by Sydney Somers (April 16th)


Hitched, book four, by Erin Nicholas (April 30th)  
 



Be sure to Save the Date!  
This is one wedding you won't want to miss!





Friday, December 14, 2012

Foodie Friday: Holiday Parties



From Nine Naughty Novelists Erin Nicholas

It’s all about the KISSING!

There are many wonderful things about this time of year but, for me, one of the best is the tradition of mistletoe… because where there is mistletoe there is kissing!

In honor of this sweet tradition, I thought I’d share a couple of kissing recipes! :)

1. One hot guy
2. One shot (each) of peppermint breath spray
3. One sprig of mistletoe
4. Mix and enjoy!

Or there’s this kind of kissing recipe as well!

THE CHOCOLATE KISS

1 oz crème de cacao, white
1 oz. Frangelico
1 oz. vodka
1 Hershey’s kiss chocolate

Directions

Pour liquid ingredients into shaker filled with ice, shake, strain into Martini glass. Drop in Hershy's kiss and serve. (For added flair, ahead of time dip rims of chilled martini glasses into melted bittersweet chocolate and chill until set.)
And maybe even more festive this time of year:

PEPPERMINT KISSES

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated  ugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 to 8 drops red food coloring
36 chocolate kisses

Directions

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extracts. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Divide dough in half; tint one portion red. Divide each into four portions. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Shape each portion into a 9-in. log. Place one red log next to one white log; twist gently to create one swirled roll. Roll gently until roll becomes one log. Repeat with remaining dough.
Cut each log into nine slices; roll each into a ball. Place 1 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly with a glass.
Bake at 350° for 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Press chocolate kisses into the center of warm cookies. Remove to wire racks to cool. Yield: 3 dozen.

JUST A KISS

She’s unforgettable… and that’s exactly what got him into trouble the first time.

As a paramedic in the busiest ER in the city, Kevin Campbell knows there’s no such thing as a typical night—but this one definitely has them all beat.

His dad’s been stabbed with a fork, his mom’s been in a fight, and it’s all because of a younger half-brother he never knew existed. And if that’s not enough, everyone seems to agree that Kevin should take the boy in for the six months during his mom’s rehab. Oh, and the annulment he thought he got fourteen years ago? Never went through.

It’s really too bad he gave up drinking and swearing.

Eve Donnelly is shocked to see Kevin again, but not surprised they’re still married. After all, she was the one who refused to sign the annulment papers. Now that she’s got Kevin back in her life, nothing else matters. Not even her past fourteen less-than-virtuous years. In fact, the truth about her life without Kevin isn’t even worth bringing up. She hopes.

When Eve offers to help Kevin with his younger brother, a sweet, devout preacher’s daughter seems like an answered prayer. Besides, things can’t get more complicated. Can they?

Warning: Contains a bad boy gone good, a good girl who knows all about being bad, and lots of hot, sweet, so-this-is-how-married-couples-do-it sex.

 READ MORE HERE!


From Guest Author Mari Carr

Happy Holidays!

It’s hard to find anything wrong with a season that includes presents, days off from work and basically offers an “eat with wild abandon” get-out-of-jail-free card. My recipe for Party Rolls has become a “special event” staple. Let me put it this way…when I’m going to a party, having friends over for New Years, or there’s a big hockey game on, this is the one thing EVERYONE demands I make. Lucky for me (the world’s worst cook), they’re easy to prepare. I’ll warn you now—there is nothing LOW FAT about these suckers. But it’s the holidays! So go for it.

Oh…and I’d like to give a shout-out to my friend, Ann, who shared the recipe with me many, many moons ago.

PARTY ROLLS

1 pkg. small rolls
1 pkg. sliced boiled ham
1 pkg. Swiss cheese

Cut ham and cheese into squares to fit the size of the rolls. Split the rolls and add the ham and cheese. Place filled rolls in a small baking dish.

Combine:

1 stick melted butter
½ tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbsp. chopped onion
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 ½ tbsp. yellow mustard

Pour over rolls. Set aside until moisture is absorbed. Cover and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. And then eat, eat, eat.

December is especially nice for me this year because in addition to spending it with my family and friends, I have a very special story release as well.

Fix you came out this week.

FIX YOU
Second Chances, Book 1

After too many years of secretly loving her best friend, Zoey realizes she’s been shortchanging herself. It’s time to take action. This New Year’s Eve heralds the year she’s going to tell Rob the truth. Even if he is on the road, reaching for musical stardom with his band.

Her plan is derailed when she discovers a lump in her breast—and it’s not “nothing to worry about”. How can she ask Rob to take a chance on love when her future is so uncertain?

READ MORE HERE!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday 13: Essential Writing Tools


All of us have our own writing styles, but when it comes down to putting pen to paper (or words to screen) we rely on a pretty reliable set of writing tools:
  1. Erin Nicholas: I have to have my Scentsy pot and a different scent for every book. 
  2. Kate Davies: The Write or Die app helps me get out of edit mode and into "get it all on the page" mode. 
  3. Kelly Jamieson: Synonym Finder
  4. Meg Benjamin: My MacBook Air
  5. PG Forte: Laptop, pen and paper (cause they're always there)
  6. Skylar Kade: yWriter, an open-source writing software that has never steered me wrong! 
  7. Juniper Bell: My laptop is about it. Microsoft Word.
  8. Sydney Somers: Scrivener! Plot, organize and write all in one program.
  9. Erin Nicholas: At some point in every book, a spiral notebook with the spiral on top not the side :) and a pink (of course) gel pen. Yes, I'm serious. Okay, purple pens work too :)
  10. PG Forte and Juniper Bell: Google!
  11. Skylar Kade: Pilot G2 Pro pens (they write sooo smoothly) and a spiral notebook.
  12. Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest for commiserating, brainstorming, and author promotion.
  13. The Nine Naughty Novelists Yahoo group--this is where all the fun behind-the-scenes work for the Nine happens. Yes, it is essential to writing!
What do you have to have when you write?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Tree Travails


Ever since our kids were little, getting a Christmas tree has been a big deal. We would meet my in-laws at a tree farm halfway between our towns, spend the morning tromping through the rows of evergreens looking for the perfect tree, and head back to their house for lunch and setting up their tree. Then we’d take ours home. It was a full day adventure, and something we’d look forward to every year.

This year, however, we moved to a new town an hour or so further away, and the joint tree hunt just wasn’t practical. But we still needed a tree. So last Sunday, the DH and I piled the two younger kids in the truck and set off on a tree buying adventure.

The first challenge? Finding a tree farm. Though we lived in this area years ago, we weren’t familiar with the current state of the local Christmas tree industry. A quick perusal of the internet found one not too far away, so we took the long, winding, backroads trek to the address on the website.

On first glance, it looked promising. There was a huge barn with tables of hot beverages and treats for after the tree hunt, a big carriage with bales of hay to sit on pulled by two draft horses in jingle bell tack, friendly proprietors offering suggestions for types of trees and saws to cut them down.

We jumped on the horse-drawn carriage and headed out into the tree farm, the driver singing Christmas carols and letting the kids ride on the front bench with him. About five minutes into the drive, he pulled the horses to a stop and announced we were in the Noble fir section, “on both sides of the trail here”. We could find a tree, cut it down, and he’d be back in fifteen minutes to pick us up again.

Off he went, bells jingling, and we looked around. It was a bare, empty field, ringed by old-growth evergreens, in both directions. There were no actual Christmas trees to be found.

“We’ve been marooned,” GPS announced, as we tromped over the hill. Ahead, there were clumps of trees here and there, no rhyme or reason to the set up, and none of them looked anything like the kind of tree we’d want to take home and decorate.

Where were the rows of trees, all about the same height? Where was the selection, the options? Where were the actual Christmas trees?

Frustrated, we decided not to wait for our ride to come back, and instead trudged back through the empty, blackberry-vine-choked fields to the barn. The proprietor had mentioned earlier that there was a field of Grand Pines on the other side of the farm, so we gave it one last shot.

All the trees were about waist-high.

I returned the saw, we piled back in the truck, and drove into town for lunch at the local grocery store/deli.

There were pre-cut trees outside the entrance. After lunch, we checked them out, found the perfect tree, bought it, and tossed it in the back of the truck. It took all of ten minutes.

It may not have been the fun, family-time activity we’d grown used to, but sometimes you just have to roll with it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Guest Blogger Elisabeth Roseland - Tis the Season

’Tis the season. 

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Winter Solstice, Yule, Festivus—whatever you celebrate, now’s the time to party it up. There are many great things about this time of year. There are the decorations that add a little special something to our homes. There’s the food (oh, the FOOD) that overflows our plates and fills our stomachs to the point where all we’re good for is grunting in front of the tv while wearing elastic waistband pants. There’s the coming together of family and friends, whether to laugh and enjoy everyone’s company or to complain how Aunt Edna brought her hard-as-a-brick rum cake *again* and how the family still hates the guy Cousin Andrea married five years ago even though he seems to make her happy. 

But one of the best things about this time of the year? The gifts.
I enjoy giving people gifts. To watch their faces light up is the best feeling in the world. I’m one of those people who will remember in September that you said that you wanted to read the new best seller that everyone’s talking about, and then I’ll get that for you for Christmas. But to be honest, since I love to shop (hey, I said I was being honest here), I love this season because I can use it as an excuse to buy a nice gift…for myself. Because you know what? I don’t really need an iPad, but hey IT’S CHRISTMAS, AND I TOTALLY DESERVE IT. 

’Tis the season. 

In ADVERTISING FOR LOVE, book one of my Ebony Nights series, Greg uses the money he makes as an escort to buy a nice gift for himself—a culinary school education. Ever since he was a boy, he wanted to be a chef, but life got in the way. After graduating from college, losing his job as an investment banker, and becoming an escort for Ebony Nights, an all-male escort company, he decided that for his 30th birthday he was finally going to do something he always wanted to do. So in between seeing clients, he sautéed, pureed, and fricasseed his way to a culinary degree. 

But with the economy on shaky ground, is now the time to quit his lucrative job of heating up women’s nights? And is the passion that burns between Greg and his client Aisha real enough to convince her to take a chance on a man who has stoked the fires of half of the women in Chicago? 

ADVERTISING FOR LOVE releases today--December 11. 

Blurb
In the kitchen, in a tux—and out of it—he’s got the skills to crank up the heat.

Ebony Nights, Book 1

When Aisha Anderson hires a professional escort for her company’s gala, it’s not because she can’t get a date. Her fast-track career at Hansen Advertising doesn’t give her the time—and it’s the only way to avoid dancing with her creepy, inappropriate co-worker.

To her delight, Greg Williams plays the role of charming, attentive gentleman so well, she could almost believe the sparks between them are real. When he takes her home and demonstrates—with considerable sexual skill—that the heat is not her imagination, she can’t say no to his request for her number in lieu of payment.

Their hot night continues into a warm breakfast at Greg’s favorite back-street diner, where Aisha feels something she hasn’t felt for a long time. Part of a couple. 

Later, though, when she runs into a former client of his who seems eager to compare notes on his erotic bag of tricks, the sizzle begins to cool in shadows of doubt. Long-term could be a stretch for a man who’s dated half the women in Chicago.

Especially when there’s the possibility that demand for his services could take him away right when she needs him most… 

Product Warnings
This book contains a sexy black man with mad culinary skills, an ad exec with a hunger for something well-cut and lean, and an escort service that knows how to satisfy every woman’s appetites. 

ADVERTISING FOR LOVE is available at Samhain, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble

Elisabeth Roseland spends her days dreaming up ways to throw sexy heroes and strong heroines together. Her characters explore the wonderful, agonizing, joyful, heartbreaking and complicated human experiences that are sex and love. She also hopes to inspire readers to grab the nearest consenting adult and do something fun. She lives in Chicago with her very own Happily Ever After. 

Check out her website: www.elisabethroseland.com
Connect on Twitter: @E_Roseland
Find her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EbonyNights



Monday, December 10, 2012

Menage for the Holidays


 Detective Aldo Nash could almost hear his brain humming as it worked to categorize the myriad scents tingeing the cool night air: cedar and sea spray, dry asphalt, cooling car engine, and most potent of all, the warm, aroused flesh of the man Aldo had pinned beneath him.

Aldo slid practiced hands over the slim, partially clad form, and the man moaned softly in response, his whole body writhing instinctively closer as he arched into Aldo’s touch. Aldo pulled in another heady lungful and smiled in contentment. On nights like these, he purely loved his job.

Those are the opening lines of  Finders Keepers, my alternative world, sci-fi menage releasing this week from Loose Id. I know sci-fi and menage are probably not the first words that spring to mind when most people think Holiday Story, but that's how I like to describe the book that came to me in a dream.

I mean that literally, by the way. I woke up one morning with the entire premise clear in my head--including the characters' names, the first three chapters and the title. I didn't know how it would end, exactly, other than in the very vaguest of ways. It was a romance. I was pretty sure that meant it would have to have an HEA. With three characters, however, getting everybody there took a little more work than I's expected. To get to their happy-ever-after all three of them will have to admit to and overcome their feelings of guilt and grief, jealousy and despair, love and anger and loss.


While I tend to find each new release just as exciting as the first, I'm especially excited about this one. I hope you'll enjoy it too.



Sometimes finding what you want is the easy part.  

Caleb is a bionic soldier with little-to-no memory of his past. He's seeking the truth about himself and those missing memories.

Aldo's an undercover cop who just might have the answers to Caleb's questions. But if Caleb's the man Aldo thinks he is, how can he let him get away a second time?

Then there's Sally; she's an ER physician who used to be married to Aldo's late partner, Davis. Sally's not dealing with widowhood very well. In fact, it's getting harder, every day, just to find a reason to keep getting out of bed. If the truth about the men's shared past comes to light, she could lose them both. Along with her last, best reason to go on living.

This holiday season, chance will bring them together and give them an opportunity to help one another find what they each want most. But every gift comes with a price. And keeping what they've found once they've found it? Yeah, that's gonna be the hard part. 








Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas memories



 I like to start my shopping early but hiding presents for that long is a challenge. When my kids were smaller, there were a few years where I left all the presents in the trunk of my car. I'd go out at lunch time and buy things, but then I had to pick the kids up after work, and it was so hard to sneak things into the house because they were always with me! By December 24, I was driving around with a trunk full of loot. Even though I used to worry about my car getting stolen with all the gifts in it, or getting rear-ended and all the gifts damaged, I did it anyway. Then as the kids got older, there was the chance they'd open the trunk and see everything, especially when they started driving and borrowing my car. They weren't suspicious at all when I'd give them the keys and say, "Okay, but don't look in the trunk!" As if that would stop them.

I remember the year when I was a kid that I found all the Christmas presents hidden on a high shelf in the hall closet. Somehow I managed to find a time when my parents weren't around. I climbed on a chair and got those presents down and I peeked at every one of them. I was so excited and happy to know I was getting everything I wanted for Christmas! But on Christmas morning when I unwrapped all those presents already knowing what they were…it wasn't so much fun. I had to fake happiness so my parents wouldn't know I'd peeked, and it was horrible. I never did that again.

349/365 Present snooping
Now I hide presents in the house (I'm not saying where, in case any curious people are reading this). But my memory isn't as good as it used to be and since I start shopping early, I often forget where I hid things. There has been more than one Christmas morning when the presents are all opened and I'm looking around and saying "Oh dear. We seem to be missing something. Where the hell did I put it?" And there have been times I've found those hidden presents in July.

One year when my husband and I were first married, we were opening gifts first with his family and then with my family. My husband had bought me two gifts - one to open at each place. When I started unwrapping the present in front of his parents and his older brothers and their wives, I heard my husband mutter, "Oh shit." I looked up at him just as I pulled out a slinky little ivory lace teddie and held it up for everyone to see. "Wrong gift," he said, face red, as the rest of his family roared with laughter. His family is pretty straight-laced, and mine is…not J so he thought it would be better to open the sexy lingerie in front of my family…oops!
White Stretch Lace Halter Teddy with Heart Cut OutThere have been some really difficult Christmases too. My father passed away when I was 18, on December 15. That was not a merry Christmas for us. To be honest, I don't remember very much about it - I think my memory has deliberately blocked out those awful memories.


Then there was the year my son was born - December 10. You'd think that would be a joyous occasion, but he was born 12 weeks premature. He weighed 3 pounds and couldn't breathe on his own and had every health problem a preemie can have. He spent Christmas in the NICU hooked up to machines and tubes. Christmas day was the first time I got to hold him, sitting in a rocking chair with a tiny oxygen mask held to his face.

The next Christmas was the year my husband lost his job. He'd been planning to start his own business for a long time, and that was really just the push he needed to do it, but being unemployed just before Christmas isn't great. But after the last year when my son was born and we were all worried about whether he'd even survive, being without a job really didn't seem like the end of the world when we were all together and healthy - and that's what really matters at Christmas.

Share some of your fav Christmas memories!