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Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Resolutions, Anyone?


The end of December is an exciting time as it heralds in a new year full of possibilities. 2012 means new books to read, new releases to look forward to and new books to write.

Thank goodness for New Year’s Resolutions to keep me on track.

This afternoon I had a houseful of nephews in addition to my own two girls so, to maintain the surprisingly protracted peace through artful means, I decided to survey the assorted crew.

After explaining to four children aged two, six, seven and ten that New Year’s Resolutions are the goals that are important to them in the coming year, I got a variety of responses.

My ten-year-old daughter’s major New Year’s Resolution was predictable: find an agent.

She’s an aspiring novelist with a completed horse-racing novella about a mare’s rivalry with her stable mate as they compete for the Breeder’s Cup Classic and the friendship between their grumpy 64-year-old horse trainer, Henry, and a 17-year-old male apprentice. An unusual story for a ten-year-old girl (who’s just been shortlisted for UK short story competition, adds her mother proudly). Anyway, unknown to me, Sophie has already queried a number of agents she found on the internet.

The fact that the following resolutions are those of a seven-year-old boy is not surprising:

Eat More Chocolate Every Day, and;
Get better at playing Poptropica, Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters.

It was my six-year-old daughter’s resolutions that made me revise mine. The normally fiery, hundred-mile-an-hour, ‘too loud’ little Lillie gazed up at me with her big blue eyes and told me without hesitation that she had three resolutions, and they were as follows, in her own words:

“Practising the flute.” (Since Lillie does not own a flute and has never had flute lessons this is obviously a big hint to mummy.)
“Eat more vegetables.” (This was pretty amazing coming from someone who has to be bribed with chocolate or threatened with a termination of her Moshi Monsters subscription to eat anything other than broccoli.)

And finally:
“Spending more time with Mummy.” (A heart-melting moment, I’m not ashamed to admit.)

My sisters tell me that Miss Six is my punishment for having been equally as wild (and, in my case, apparently, heartless) as a child but post-natal hormones changed all that. Watching the news is always a weepy affair and I embarrass my children horribly when I start sobbing at the Telstra ads.

Pre-children, my idea of torture was to be seated anywhere near one on a long flight but since having my own I’m happy to entertain other people’s, as long as I can give them back.

Children – and teary reunions -  also feature in many of my stories, including Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly, which releases today as an e-book after earlier hardcover and Large Print editions. It has the following premise:

Falsely branded an adulteress by her late husband, Lady Olivia finds love with the man whose birthright she unwittingly usurped in order to safeguard the future of her son.

So what’s the wildest, most out-of-character, or unusual New Year’s Resolution you’ve heard, either from your own children or a friend? I’d love to hear.

And a Happy New Year to Everyone!

Beverley Eikli writes Regency Romantic Intrigues about beleaguered heroines trapped by convention in a man’s world (and worthy heroes who come to the rescue to thwart a dastardly villain or two). She also writes erotic Regency Romances as Beverley Oakley. You can read more about her books at www.beverleyeikli.com or www.beverleyoakley.com.   

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

It's a sale!

You might have gotten an e-reader for Christmas this year, or maybe you already have an e-reader and you're looking for books to keep filling it with.

(I got my first e-reader with the 2nd generation Kindle. It was still $299 at the time, so I'm really pleased with how much less expensive they are now.)

This year, my hubby gave me a Kindle 3G Wi-Fi Touch to replace the older model, and I'm thrilled with it. I already have an iPad, which allows me to read books from any store instead of proprietary books only, and I really appreciate that. The iPad is great for nighttime when Hubby is trying to sleep and I want to keep reading.

But it's too heavy to always carry everywhere, so I wanted a new, lighter Kindle. I stuck with Kindle only because I have a Kindle library already, but it could have just as easily been the Nook if I had more of those books than I do.

In playing with my new Kindle, I discovered that a couple of my books have sale prices right now, so here they are. First up, in the UK, you can get PRINCE VORONOV'S VIRGIN for the unbelievable price of 99p!

If you are in the US, you can get BEHIND THE PALACE WALLS (the North American title for PVV) for only $2.00!

And if you are a Kindle Prime member, you can read THE PRINCE'S ROYAL CONCUBINE for free!

I checked on Nook, but there are currently no discounts. Up until yesterday, in fact, both B&N and Amazon were selling another of my books for $2.70 - but that ended overnight. Not that I knew it was ending, but I checked as I was writing this post and the price was back to normal.


‘Kiss me,’ he growled… ‘And make it believable.’

Alone and scared on the dark streets of Moscow, staid, bespectacled Paige Barnes has no choice but to comply with the handsome stranger’s command…

Little does Paige know she’s been rescued by Alexei Voronov—a Russian prince and her boss’s deadliest rival. Now he has Paige unexpectedly in his sights, Alexei is prepared to play emotional Russian roulette to keep her close and discover her true motives. But in his splendid gilded palace his game of chance spins out of control and passion takes over…

It’s only when she’s back home that Paige realises she’s pregnant with the Prince’s baby…


For the writers amongst us, I recommend this book by PEN/Faulkner Award winner Ann Patchett for inspiration. It's only 99 cents and is a short read.

Some other books on sale that I've enjoyed are Jane Porter's THE SULTAN'S BOUGHT BRIDE for $2.93, THE STOLEN BRIDE by Abby Green for $1.40, and THE UNCLAIMED BABY by Melanie Milburne for $2.55!

Those are some awesome prices, y'all! I hope you'll give one or more of these books a try. :)

Any recommendations to share? Did you get an e-reader this year? Which one? How do you like it? And do you still intend to read paper books? (I do! I still buy them as well!)

Lynn Raye Harris is a USA Today bestselling author who writes glamorous, sexy romance for Harlequin Presents. You can learn more about Lynn and her books at http://www.lynnrayeharris.com/. You can also follow Lynn on Twitter @LynnRayeHarris or visit her author page on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLynnRayeHarris

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Price of e-Books: How Much Is Too Much?




The digital age has arrived, and like music and movies before them, books are now available in electronic format. Many readers have strong opinions one way or the other about the ongoing e-craze. For instance, some people adore having books available at the click of a button, while others enjoy the scent and feel of paper in their hands and don’t mind going out to a store to buy it. But one of the biggest questions out there still being argued is price. How much is too much for an e-book?

In the beginning, I was one of the slow believers. I figured I would get an electronic reader eventually, but which one? I wanted to take my time to decide how I wanted to read my books. Then my family took the decision out of my hands, and I got a Kindle for my birthday.

I was hooked. Being able to finish reading one book of a series, then getting the next one with a simple point-and-click, really satisfied my sense of instant gratification. Plus, I noticed that e-books often tended to be less expensive than their paper counterparts. This was a win for me; I remember a time not long ago where you could walk into a bookstore, spend around $20 and walk out with about four books. But over the years as prices increased, I was walking out with only three books for that same twenty. Then two books. But now with e-books, I can often get those four books for $20 again, just like in the good old days.

I recently re-released one of my older titles, ONCE A MISTRESS, via an e-publisher. The book, first printed in 1999 and long out of print, now gets new life in digital form. This is cool for me, seeing a beloved title back out in the market. In addition, the current publisher, Samhain Publishing, priced the book accordingly for an older title available only as an e-book—less than $4.

So I’m wondering, how do you feel about electronic books versus print copies? And if you like e-books, what price point would make you hesitate to click that Buy button?

Debra

Friday, December 23, 2011

How to scare your husband 101 - Rachael Johns



Sometimes I scare my husband in the night. I’ll wake up (often about an hour after I’ve gone to bed) absolutely terrified. My heart is pounding, I can be sweating and I’m completely convinced something terrible is happening or about to happen. I sometimes threaten DH or am dead-set convinced that he is out to get me.  The next morning I can recall something happened but while it’s actually happening I’m on another planet.

My hubby jokes that one day I’ll kill him in my sleep and use night terrors as my defence in court. Honestly, Your Honour, I didn’t know what I was doing.

But all jokes aside, I suffer from night terrors that vary in intensity and they are not fun. They disturb not only my own sleep but also my husband’s. They freak me out and sometimes have me questioning my mental health. My night terrors occurred on and off in my teens but stopped again until I had kids. I think maybe the severe sleep disturbances they caused me (I had three BAD sleepers) somehow got my brain into the habit of waking up.

A few years ago, I started thinking about what would happen if someone had been suffering severe night terrors continually for years. I thought about how hard it would be for them to sleep (actually stay the night) with someone for the first time. And that led me to thinking about a hero with night terrors.

When I first created Cameron McCormac from One Perfect Night, all I knew was that he was a man who suffered bad night terrors and because of them he never stayed the night with a woman. From here, I asked the usual why questions and started to make him three-dimensional.

I knew I’d need to write a very special heroine who would have the healing power for him to trust himself to stay the night with her and maybe even ease his affliction.
So I guess in a roundabout way, One Perfect Night is a very personal book to me. It came from personal experience and I twisted that inspiration into a story. Maybe that’s one reason I should be thankful for my night time burden.

Since we’re talking sleep, I thought I’d leave you with some fun sleep facts, I’ve found:
  • ·         1 out of 4 married couples sleep in separate beds.
  • ·         12 % of people dream only in black and white.
  • ·         People who don’t dream generally have personality disorders.
  • ·         3% of adults suffer from sleep terrors.
  • ·         You’ll die from sleep deprivation before food deprivation.
  • ·         Within five minutes of waking up 50% of your dream is forgotten. Within 10 minutes, it’s 90%.
  • ·         Men feel sleepy after sex because of the exercise, orgasms are reached when you let go of "all fear and anxiety" -this relaxes the body.
There are probably more stories to be found in those few facts above. Does anyone else suffer from night terrors?

Book Blurb of ONE PERFECT NIGHT:
Peppa Grant’s fellow employees may call their new CEO Mr. McSexy, but she’s also heard that he’s aloof and distant. Cameron McCormac certainly seems cold toward Christmas when she meets him at the company’s annual party…but he’s also the sexiest man Peppa has ever seen. And when he offers to forgive the damage she accidentally caused to his expensive car in exchange for accompanying him to his family’s holiday get-together, she agrees.
Cameron needs a date to the family party to get his matchmaking relatives off his back. Their chemistry is instant and undeniable, leading to an incredible one-night stand. But Peppa wants love and family, while Cameron’s only interested in temporary pleasure. When their relationship takes an unexpectedly serious turn, will he run the other way—or will he give love a second chance?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ho Ho Ho...Some Great Book Suggestions for Holiday Reading by Jenny Gardiner

Author Ellen Meister, a member of the Girlfriends Book Club Blog to which I belong, assembled this collection of book recommendations for the holidays. Hope you'll find something here of interest!



LOVE FINDS YOU IN NEW ORLEANS by Christa Allan

Set to release in February of 2012 and available now for pre-order, this 1840s historical relates the story of a woman whose grandparents must consider whether to stop keeping secrets and reveal the truth they’ve known—a truth that will make the difference between a life of obligation and a life of choice.Unlocking the past could open the door to a new future, but is the present worth the cost? Introduced in the novel is the custom of plaƧage, known as "left-handed marriages" among those forbidden legally to be together.

Who would like this book? Readers of historical fiction and Southern fiction.

For more information visit http://christaallan.com/





SAFE HARBOR by Judith Arnold

Childhood pals Kip and Shelley spent their summers on Block Island, swimming, biking, discovering the world together. Then real life intruded, bringing tragedy and heartache. Years later, they both wind up back on Block Island. Can the island's rugged beauty and their loving friendship heal their wounds? An award-winning novel when it was first released, SAFE HARBOR is available to as a reissued e-book to a new generation of readers.

Who would like this book? SAFE HARBOR is the perfect book for lovers of romance fiction.

For more information visit www.juditharnold.com





LITTLE WOMEN AND ME by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

A contemporary teen finds herself literally sucked into the Louisa May Alcott novel Little Women and discovers she must change a major plot point in order to get back out again. "...a consistently entertaining read that delivers a genuinely original heroine and frequently hilarious satire." ~ Kirkus Reviews

Who would like this book? LITTLE WOMEN AND ME will appeal to adult fans of Little Women and girls ages 12 and up.

For more information visit http://laurenbaratzlogsted.com/






THE BLUE HOUSE DOG by Deborah Blumenthal

Love heals the heart is the message of this heartwarming picture book about a boy who saves a homeless dog and vice versa. Cody had his own dog once, but his painful loss is buried deeper than the feeding dish he hides away in his closet. All that changes when he comes upon a four-footed friend needier than he is -- a sad, lost dog from a mysterious blue house and both learn to trust and love again.

Based on a true story.

Who would like this book? Dog lovers of all ages.

For more information visit http://deborahblumenthal.com





MOTHERS AND OTHER LIARS by Amy Bourret

How far will a mother go to save her child? Ten years ago, Ruby Leander was a drifting nineteen-year-old who made a split-second decision at an Oklahoma rest stop. Fast forward nine years: Ruby and her daughter Lark live in New Mexico. Lark is a precocious, animal loving imp, and Ruby has built a family for them with a wonderful community of friends and her boyfriend of three years. Life is good. Until the day Ruby reads a magazine article about parents searching for an infant kidnapped by car-jackers. Then Ruby faces a choice no mother should have to make. A choice that will change both her and Lark's lives forever.

Who would like this book? Anyone, especially book clubs who like a good moral debate, will like this smart, haunting, and gorgeously written debut novel that propels a whip-smart plot that will keep you thinking.

For more information visit www.amybourret.com






A SUMMER IN EUROPE by Marilyn Brant

It’s not where you go, it’s what you take back with you… On her 30th birthday, Gwendolyn Reese receives an unexpected present from her widowed Aunt Bea: a grand European tour in the company of Bea's Sudoku-and-Mahjongg Club. Gwen initially approaches her first trip abroad as if it's the homework she assigns her students, diligently checking monuments off her must-see list. But amid the gorgeous bougainvillea of southern Italy, something changes. She begins to live in the moment—skipping down stone staircases in Capri, racing through the Louvre and taste-testing pastries, wine and gelato. Reveling in every new experience—especially her attraction to a charismatic British physics professor—Gwen discovers the ancient wonders around her are nothing compared to the renaissance unfolding within...

Who would like this book? Romantics and lovers of travel fiction who might enjoy a grand journey of self awakening amidst the classic architecture and stunning vistas of Europe.

For more information visit http://www.marilynbrant.com






CHILDREN OF THE WATERS by Carleen Brice

Still reeling from divorce, Trish Taylor is in the midst of salvaging the remnants of her life when she uncovers a shocking secret: her sister is alive. After years of drawing on the strength of her ancestors, Billie Cousins is shocked to discover that she was adopted. Though Trish longs to connect with her long-lost sister, Billie's feelings of betrayal are waters too deep to cross. But when both women are forced to confront their demons, they begin to realize that each may have what the other needs.

Who would like this book? This is a contemporary story between two women who discover they are sisters. Great for fans of smart, moving women's fiction. Women in interracial relationships or with mixed-race children will especially like it.

For more information visit www.carleenbrice.com





AN APPETITE FOR MURDER by Lucy Burdette

Aspiring food critic Hayley Snow follows the man of her dreams to Key
West, FL. Instead of landing the job of her dreams as a food critic,
she lands in the police blotter, the main suspect in her now-ex's new
girlfriend's murder.

Who would like this book? Fans of Diane Mott Davidson's cozy culinary
mysteries will enjoy this book.

For more information visit http://lucyburdette.com/buy-the-books/





SLIM TO NONE by Jenny Gardiner

Abbie Jennings is Manhattan's top food critic until her expanding waistline makes staying incognito at restaurants impossible. Her cover blown on Page Six of the New York Post, her editor has no choice but to bench her—and suggest she use the time off to bench-press her way back to anonymity. Abbie’s life has been built around her career, and therefore around celebrating food. Forced to drop the pounds if she wants her primo gig back, Abbie must peel back the layers of her past and confront the fears that have led to her current life.

Who would like this book? SLIM TO NONE is the perfect book for anyone who's ever gone on a diet (or believes they should).

For more information visit www.jennygardiner.net





MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER by Cindy Jones

A young woman who has squeezed herself into undersized relationships all her life hopes to realize her dream of living in a novel when she is invited to participate in a Jane Austen literary festival in England. She jumps at the chance to reinvent herself, imagining escape into Austen’s fictional world where bookish women are heroines. There, in the rich, promising world of Mansfield Park, Lily finds people whose longing to live in a novel equals her own. But real-life problems have a way of following you wherever you go and unless Lily can change her ways, she will share the fate of so many of Jane Austen’s characters who repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

Who would like this book? MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER is a fast-paced, romantic, and humorous book that will appeal to book lovers, especially those who can't get enough Jane Austen.

For more information visit www.cindysjones.com



ALL THE NUMBERS by Judy Merrill Larsen

An arresting, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful first novel. A recently divorced mother of two boys, Ellen Banks is just learning to make her way through the uncharted territory of single parenthood when the unthinkable happens. Determined to seek justice, and to mend the deep wounds in her family, Ellen must first heal herself, finding a way out of a grief that soon turns to defiance. This is an unforgettable journey of power and emotion, poignantly depicting a woman as she reckons with her own vulnerability and finds in the wisdom of motherhood, the redemptive grace to begin again.

Who would like this book? ALL THE NUMBERS is great for discussion so it's perfect for anyone in a book club or who just wants characters you'll argue with, worry about, and hope they make the right choices (and yes, I love connecting with book clubs!).

For more information visit http://www.judymerrilllarsen.com/





LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Susan McBride

Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future.

Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter. Now she must put her mother’s house in order—and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished fifty years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts . . . and mend them.

Who would like this book? The story of the Little Black Dress weaves together bits of history, mystery, magic, and family, so I hope it appeals to readers who love women's fiction in the vein of Kate Morton and Sarah Addison Allen.

For more information visit http://SusanMcBride.com





THE OTHER LIFE by Ellen Meister

"A resonant story about the importance of mothers, both having one and being one ... making for a riveting tale of love and choices." - BookPage

Quinn Braverman has a perfect life, with a loving husband, an adorable son, and another baby on the way.

Quinn also has an ominous secret: she knows there's a portal to another life, one in which she made totally different life choices. But she's never been tempted to switch lives ... until a shocking turn of events pushes her to cross over, and she discovers the one person she thought she'd lost forever. Her mother.

But Quinn can't have both lives. Soon, she must decide which she really wants—the one she has ... or the other life.

Who would like this book? Anyone interested in the beautiful, heartbreaking and complicated relationships between mothers and daughters.

For more information visit ellenmeister.com





MOMFRIENDS by Ariella Papa

Momfriends is a story of three vastly different people who meet through motherhood and become friends through womanhood.

Ruth is almost at the end of her rope with her new baby when a knock on her door changes everything. Claudia's life is all about rules. Everything is going perfectly until a flirtation with colleague makes her throw out her rule book.

And Kirsten is an artist and a dreamer. What she discovers late one night confirms that her life is not everything she dreamed. Momfriends is about how people roll with lives they can’t control. And whether they choose to swim with the current or against it, it’s about the realization that everyone needs someone to throw out a life preserver once in a while.

Who would like this book? Momfriends makes the perfect gift for your best friend, the new mom in the neighborhood or the mom you'd like to invite over. It's an ebook so it's even easier to read and multi-task.


For more information visit ariellapapa.com







DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD by Saralee Rosenberg

In Mindy's yoga-obsessed, thirty-is-the-new-wife neighborhood, every day is a battle between Dunkin' Donuts, her jaws-of-life jeans, and Beth Diamond, the self-absorbed sancti-mommy next door who looks sixteen from the back. So much for sharing the chores, the stores, and the occasional mischief to rival Wisteria Lane.

It's another day, another dilemma until Beth's marriage becomes fodder on Facebook. Suddenly the Ivy League blonde needs to be “friended,” and Mindy is the last mom standing. Together they take on hormones and hunger, family feuds and fidelity, and a harrowing journey that spills the truth about an unplanned pregnancy and a seventy-year-old miracle that altered their fates forever.

Dear Neighbor, Drop Dead is a hilarious, stirring romp over fences and defenses that begs the question, what did you do to deserve living next door to a crazy woman? Sometimes it's worth finding out.

Who would like this book? DEAR NEIGHBOR, DROP DEAD is perfect for anyone who loves to discover friendship in surprising places ... while laughing out loud on every page.

For more information visit saraleerosenberg.com




MIMOSAS, MISCHIEF, AND MURDER by Sara Rosett

Charm, Southern sass, and suspense abound in the sixth delightful cozy mystery.” –FreshFiction.com

Super-organized Ellie thinks she’s prepared for everything when she and her family set off for an extended visit with her southern in- laws in Alabama, but the one thing she hasn’t planned for is cold-blooded murder. When the patriarch of the family passes away under suspicious circumstances, the quirky Avery family closes ranks and Ellie can't help looking for motives among the mourners.

Publisher’s Weekly called it “winning” and described it this way: “A rumor of hidden money, secret letters from a famous recluse, a fire, a threatening message, and a crazed gunman add to the cozy mischief.”

Who would like this book? Fans of mysteries and southern fiction will enjoy Mimosas, Mischief, and Murder.

For more information visit http://sararosett.com





BEAUTIFUL DISASTER by Laura Spinella

As a college student in Athens, Georgia, Mia Wells meets Flynn, an enigmatic stranger who pushes every boundary she knows. Their relationship is intense, passionate and, for Mia, life-changing, making it all the more painful when he vanishes. After finding the wherewithal to move on with her life and pursue her goals, Mia eventually marries. Twelve years later, Flynn mysteriously resurfaces, gravely injured. Mia is terrified that he will die, awestruck at the prospect of his survival. Flynn’s return ignites a powerful tale, a story that is greater than honor or friendship or the passing of time. More than a romance, this 2011 Penguin release was recently named Best First Book in the NJRWA Golden Leaf contest.

Who would like this book? BEAUTIFUL DISASTER is women’s fiction with a heavy thread of romance, making it the perfect book for readers who like relationship fiction that includes a thought provoking love story.

For more information visit lauraspinella.net






LOVE IN TRANSLATION by Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysteries, Celeste Duncan, 33, is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. There she stumbles head first down the rabbit hole into a weird, wonderful world where nothing is quite as it seems.

Not knowing Japanese, Celeste finds a friend in her English-speaking homestay brother, Takuya, and comes to depend on him for help. As they cross the country following a trail after Celeste's family, she discovers she's developing "more-than-sisterly" feelings for him. But with a nosy homestay mother scheming to reunite Takuya with his old girlfriend, and her search growing dimmer, will Celeste find what she’s looking for in Japan?

Who would like this book? Love in Translation will appeal to armchair travelers who love a good love story!

For more information visit: http://www.WendyTokunaga.com

Most of the these books are available at your favorite bookstore. To buy online, visit the author's page for ordering links.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

MELT with me - by Natalie Anderson

Antarctica has always fascinated me. I live in Christchurch - where both New Zealand and the US have Antarctic programs based and I often see the big planes being loaded up to go down to the ice. There are frequently stories in the local paper about flights resuming after winter, interesting visitors to the bases and so on.  

Then, a couple of years ago, I read an article that made me sit up and laugh. It reported the number of condoms being shipped down to one of the bases - to last them the year. 16,500 condoms?! For a base that had a winter population of about 130 people?! Not bad!!!

A Hagglund (All Terrain Vehicle) used in an
Antarctic Experience tour
 in Christchurch, New Zealand
And that was a couple of years ago, so I'm guessing the number has gone up since ;)

(And okay, the visitor numbers drastically increase in the summer season). 

Then there were whispers of a girl-on-girl jelly wrestling event (apparently the organiser got sent back North after that) and with events like the mid-winter ice plunge, and the naked run around the South Pole and the 300 club and the fact that they advise you to bring some fancy and/or formal dress with you?! Well, you begin to get the impression that it's not all microscopes and penguin monitoring! 

And it's that aspect of life on the ice that really got me thinking about a story. It's such an artificial environment - the residents (a combination of scientists and support crew) all live in small bases perched on the edge of the ice. There are no kids, or pets, or particularly old people. There's either eternal sunshine or nothing but night... so what do those people do for a few laughs or to keep the mood light when they're working so hard and for such long hours? 

The kind of person who's compelled to go exploring or helping out in such hostile environment is a fascination too. Why do they go? What is it that calls to them? I love to think it's an unbelievable sense of adventure and desire to do something worthwhile...

It was this mix of thought that helped form the idea for my new novella, MELT. I wanted to write a romantic story that celebrated that fascinating environment, with a worthy hero and heroine who were all iced up themselves and needed to find each other...

MELT is released today(!!!) and you can grab a copy now via Entangled, Amazon, and you can get more info from my website.



When two frozen hearts collide…

Emma Reed closed her heart to love years ago after a lifetime spent getting kicked around foster homes and bad relationships. Now she's on a mission to prove she deserves her recent award to paint a mural for a research base in Antarctica. Nothing and no one is going to get in her way.

After months working in recovery zones around the world, Hunter Wilson planned to escape everything this holiday season by rebuilding a lab at the Kiwi Research Base. Alone. No to family, no to fun. It’s isolation not intimacy he’s aching for. But when he sees the determined artist, that ache becomes an urge – after all, shouldn’t someone show her what two people can do with twenty-four hours of brilliant
sunlight?

In the coldest place on earth, even the most frozen hearts can melt.



Wishing you all the very best for a safe and happy festive season!!!


~Natalie

Monday, December 19, 2011

10 Things I love about Bandit Creek Books



Thank you Lee, for inviting me to blog. I just have to talk about this cool new project I’ve been a small part of--Bandit Creek Books. I’d like to tell you everything that’s exciting and different about it but that would make my blog too long. Here’s my top ten:

1.       Ingenuity--I love creative new ideas. One day a bunch of the members of the Calgary RWA were chatting after a workshop. Self-publishing and e-books were changing the industry. This creates risks for authors, but also opens opportunities. One of our members (who shall be nameless, but she’s awesome and has the energy of a million sparkling Christmas lights) said, “You know, we could create a series of our own. Invent a town and a back story and a bunch of interesting characters and see what happens! “ And you know what? Our crazy executive went for it.
2.       Everything Happens in Bandit Creek --This is the tag line for the series and it’s true... novellas are released twice a month, and anything goes. You’ll find historicals, paranormals, sweet romances, mysteries, erotica,  horror--our chapter members are doing it all. The lack of rules and restrictions is just so freeing and exciting!
3.       Come One, Come All--This project was opened to every member of the chapter, whether they were previously published, or not, and no matter which genre they wanted to write in. All that was asked and expected was that they meet their deadlines, cause when you’re putting out a new novella every 15 days, well, those deadlines sneak up fast!
4.       Carla Roma--This is the enigmatic editor of the Bandit Creek novels. She interviews every author about their upcoming book, and the stories are amazing. All the interviews are posted on the Bandit Creek Books website and provide wonderful context for the stories.
5.       The Maps--one of our talented members created two maps for Bandit Creek--one historical and one present day. It’s fun to have the maps to refer to when reading one of the Bandit Creek stories. Puts everything into perspective!
6.       The Legend of Lost Lake--The town of Bandit Creek is nestled deep in the Rocky Mountains of Montana.  A mining town, in 1911 a flood caused the entire town to flood and Lost Lake was created. Lots of mysteries of treasure and intrigue exist around Lost Lake...
7.       The stories are presented with “heat levels” from 1 (sweet) to 5 (blow your brains out sexy) so readers know what they’re getting into before they buy.
8.       The stories are great! I’ve read most of them so far and really enjoyed them. It’s exciting to see what a group of writers can accomplish when they pull together.
9.       The stories aren’t too long, so they don’t require a huge time commitment. They’re fast-paced, as well...before you know it you’ve reached the end and you’re waiting for the next installment.
10.   The chapter asked me to participate! Although I wasn’t at the meeting where this idea was initially brainstormed, I was invited to partake, with the result that my story, The Gift, will be available on December 15. I opted to write a heartwarming Christmas Tale about the Bandit Creek librarian and her boyfriend, a local rancher and part-time deputy.

So that’s it--my top ten on Bandit Creek! If you’ve tried any of the stories, let me know what you think about them! Also,  to celebrate release of The Gift, I’m running a scavenger hunt contest  (http://www.cjcarmichael.com/contest.php) on my website, with a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift certificate.  Come and play!

Wishing you Joy!
C.J. Carmichael

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why now?


The book I am working on is going really well - which should be a good thing, yes?

The trouble is, I simply don’t have the time I need to concentrate fully on it. My Muse always does this – arrives at a time when it is impossible to write.

She used to arrive Monday to Friday about fifteen minutes before 3pm, which was the time that I had to go and pick up the kids from school. The words would have just started flowing and then my phone alarm would go off. Now that we live closer to school and they can walk home at 3pm I am playing on Twitter and checking my emails, still impatiently waiting for words to arrive.

Now, with Christmas just around the corner and one of the children’s birthdays too and just so much that needs to be done that isn’t writing related - ideas are pinging in and words are begging to be typed. I know that if I had a clear week, if I could just hide myself away with my computer, then this book would be sitting on my editors desk, perhaps even early for once!!!  Well, that’s not going to happen.

I’m sure I’m not the only one with this type of problem - what is Christmas and the lead up to it taking you away from?

And, if you’re happy to be taken away for a little while, leave a comment! I have two hardback versions of my latest book A Shameful Consequence (not out in the USA for Presents till February – so it will be the gorgeous UK cover) which I’ll sign and send out to the names that are drawn.

Happy Holidays
Carol Marinelli x

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Without Pierogi? For shame!


Food is synonymous with the holidays. What would Thanksgiving be without turkey? The Fourth of July without burgers and dogs? Christmas without pierogi?

If that last one threw you for a loop, chances are you don’t come from a big Polish family that enjoys its traditions. Perhaps the most important is Wigilia, which literally translates to vigil. It’s a meatless Christmas Eve meal eaten after the sun goes down where the family breaks oplatki (holy bread) and exchanges wishes for good health, long life and prosperity. Wigilia has lots of courses. We always make sure to eat at least seven different foods. I think the most important component of the meal is pierogi, which are basically Polish dumplings.

I’m part Czech, too. In The Christmas Gift, my current release from Superromance, my heroine’s grandmother prepares a traditional Czech meal of fish soup, fried carp, potato salad and other favorites on Christmas Eve. Not a pierogi in sight.

That wouldn’t happen at my house -- and I’m not referring to the kind of pierogi found in the freezer section of the grocery store. It’s a point of pride that I make mine from scratch. I’m not above dishing out some good-natured ribbing to my dad, who hasn’t made them himself in a while. I call it my annual I’m Making Pierogi and You’re Not phone call.

Truth be told, however, making pierogi is hard. I’m also not very good at it. After I mix my dough, I coat my flat surface and rolling pin in so much flour it looks like my counter has turned white. Even then, the dough still sticks to everything. I’m not much better at cutting out the dough, filling it with my special potato and cream cheese mixture and sealing the edges with a fork. My pierogis are either too fat or too big. Sometimes when I boil them, the guts fall out. What’s more, the process takes me hours even when I make the filling the night before. Another confession: I leave out a key ingredient when I fry them. I use butter, garlic and parsley but not onions, which I can’t abide.

So why do I make pierogi year after year without fail? For one, they taste awfully good in spite of how inexact my process is. My son absolutely adores them. But that’s not why I do it. I make pierogi because for that narrow window of time when I’m in the kitchen with Christmas music playing in the background, I feel close to the grandparents I’ve loved and lost. What better reason could there be to carry on a tradition?

I’ll include the recipe I got from my mom but it’s bare bones:
For dough, mix 2 2/3 cups flour, 2 eggs and 1/2 pint sour cream. Coat flat surface with flour and roll dough flat. Fill with mashed potato mixture. (I use six potatoes, cream cheese, a little bit of milk, butter and bullion to taste. You can use other fillings, too). Form into dumplings and use prongs of fork to seal edges. Boil for ten minutes. Let air dry. Fry in butter, garlic and parsley. Okay, you can use onions if you must.

It occurs to me that maybe making pierogi is so difficult because the recipe’s a big vague. Regardless, I’m interested in what your food traditions are this holiday season? I’ll give a copy of The Christmas Gift, my current release from Harlequin Superromance, to a poster chosen at random.

Darlene Gardner is the author of more than thirty books ranging from emotionally charged family dramas to romantic comedies. She’s currently writing for Harlequin Superromance and self publishing eBooks from her backlist. Her current release is The Christmas Gift from Superromance. Visit Darlene on the web at www.darlenegardner.com

Friday, December 16, 2011

Life's Too Short For Holiday Stress - Lisa Dale


The holidays are upon us. And there seems to be an amazing phenomenon that happens in my house only in December.

I can spend three hours cleaning the house, going from room to room, shuffling misplaced things, ferrying dishes to the sink, corralling wayward books, etc... And the moment I think "I'm done" and I look around, it's as if the Cosmic Magician snapped his fingers and BOOM! Somehow, the house is a disaster again!

It's swift as the transformation that happens when you go to bed on a clear night and you wake up to a foot of snow.

I don't know about you, but I'm in up to my eyeballs. The tree is up (finally) but the presents under it "wrapped" in plastic bags.

The phone rings off the hook (literally off the hook, which means I have to run around lifting pillows and pulling out chairs to see where I left it!).

I also have a new book coming out in two weeks! Talk about crazy busy! (Note to self: Next time publisher says "release date around Christmas time" say "can we reschedule?") It's exciting--I can't wait to share it!--but it's also demanding of a lot of time.

I got a great bit of advice when I got married--I wish I could remember who gave it to me--that applies to the holidays.

"Breathe. Or you'll miss it."

I repeat this mantra all the time. Busyness is a good thing, if you remember to notice that joy that underlies all of the busyness. I for one want to remember. To take time and notice. To pause and savor the blur of life in December.

Wishing you all much happiness and deep breathing,

Lisa Dale

P.S. I'm hosting a contest for you to win a $50 Barnes and Noble gift card. Details here! http://bit.ly/vW0hN6.

P.P.S. Today, on my blog: Ugly Christmas Trees You Have To See To Believe. Comment and enter to win my December LOVE TO READERS prize.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tips for Surviving Holiday Eating

I adore the holiday period -- the music, the sights and the food and drink. However my waist line does not. There are so many parties and so much good food to eat that one of my New Year's Resolutions is inevitably to lose weight. I then spend January and beyond trying to shift the weight.
This year is different. This year I shifted the weight plus and am utterly determined not to put it back on again. So I have been investigating a few tips on how to survive the holiday period without gaining ten pounds or more. In case they are of any use to anyone, I thought I'd share them.

1. Before going to a party, make sure you have done some sort of exercise for the day. Exercise also helps to reduce stress levels.
2. Decide what you are going to eat and what you are not going to. This is particularly important if it is a buffet. If you are going out to a restuarant, investigate and see if the menu is listed online.
3. Eat something before you go so that your blood sugar remains stable and you are less tempted. Remember Scarlet O'Hara's Mammy always had her girls eat before parties, the same thing applies here. Make sure you are well hydrated. People often confused thirst and hungar.
4. Focus on the people rather than on the food table. Stand on the other side of the room.
5. Wave trays on by. If pressed, say you just had  something. (You did, you ate before you arrived!)
6. If you do indulge, don't beat yourself up. Guilt tends to lead to more stress and more over eating. Eat what you crave and that's it. Move away from the temptation.
7. Do not be a paid up member of the Clean Plate Club. Leave something.
8. Seconds are not obligatory. Eat slowly and chew. Allow your stomach time to tell your brain that it is full.

Michelle Styles writes warm, witty, and intimate historical romance for Harlequin Historical. Her next book His Unsuitable Countess will be published in August 2012 in both the US and the UK. You can read more about her books on www.michellestyles.co.uk

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New York! New York! : : Anne McAllister

New York City Skyline In the interests of research, I went to New York City a week and a half ago.

I am gearing up to write a Christmas-in-New-York book for a story that’s been brewing in my head for a good long time. But it’s been a far longer time since I had actually spent time in New York before the holidays.  So I thought a refresher  course of a few days in the city was in order.  That these few days happened to coincide with Hugh Jackman’s one-man Broadway show was fortuitous indeed.

So . . . I went. I refreshed. I experienced lots of good stuff that gave me ideas for my book. Sights, sounds, smells, tastes.  And Hugh. Definitely Hugh.

And I’ve come home with plenty of memories.  But one thing that stands out – besides Hugh – is how incredibly nice and thoughtful and pleasant everyone was.

cab From the taxi driver who drove us into the city from LaGuardia and who wrestled a very heavy suitcase up a flight of stairs (unasked and already tipped, so he didn’t need to) to the one who drove us back to the airport six days later, but who asked us before we got in the cab if we were in a hurry because, if we didn’t mind, he had to go a few blocks out of our way to drop off a camera to someone who’d left it in his cab, every person we had contact with was pretty much unstereotypically delightful.

Now, I’m not a big believer in the ‘brusque, sarcastic, can’t be bothered New Yorker” stereotype in the first place. But at this time of year, when people are normally more frazzled and harried than usual, it was a delight it was to run into so many people who were trees thoughtful and generous. Whether it was squashing more closely together on the subway  to offer us a place to sit or digging through their billfold in Macy’s to provide a coupon for a discount on a sweater, or offering tips on shopping when they were sharing our table at a fast food restaurant, New Yorkers were unfailingly kind and almost, dare I say, unhurried. 

They were great.

I think I promised last month to say where we went and what we did while we were there.  So here’s the recap.

We walked all over and absorbed sights, smells, sounds. The Christmas trees on the corners were lovely and fragrant, and we delighted in seeing them wheeled in shopping carts to nearby brownstones. We did wonder, though, who was going to lug them up the four flights of stairs.

We went to the Frick Museum which I love because it’s small enough that my feet don’t hurt by the time I’m done wandering through it, and the collection is small enough that I can actually remember paintings. They don’t all blend together in some artistic brain blur.  We went to the planetarium and saw the Journey to the Stars program.  Pretty impressive.  I liked it a lot, even china-town-new-yorkif I came away with a stiff neck!

We ambled through the Natural History Museum, spend a bit of time in the New-York Historical Society, spent an evening in Chinatown (great soup dumplings!) and wandered past the big department stores to ogle the lavish animated Christmas windows.

We went to the Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side, and shopped at one of the very best Museum stores I’ve had the pleasure to visit.  We crossed Delancey and sipped tea at the Starbucks and watched the rain pour down outside. Then we walked through it across Manhattan and caught a bus back up to the Upper West Side. 

macys We went to Macy’s.  We rode the escalators up and up and up. Then down, and felt sorry for the employees whose job was to stand there and say to everyone who descended, “Watch your step.”  But it was personal, and appreciated, where those recordings at the end of moving sidewalks in airports are somehow not quite so personal – or appreciated.

And we saw Hugh.

Hugh-Jackman-Broadway If you want more about Hugh, you’ll have to go over to the Pink Heart Society blog and scroll back to Monday where I wrote the Male on Monday piece this week. 

Suffice to say, we had a good time otherwise, I got a lot of research done, but if I had gone looking for a hero, well, that one afternoon would have done the trick.

All in all, a great trip. Thank you New York. Thank you, New Yorkers. 

I love your city. I feel like it’s my city, too. It definitely will be my city as I finish the book I am working on now and get going on the Christmas one to come.

Hugh was glad to be back on Broadway.  I am just so glad to be back in the city itself!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's Present Time

Tawny Weber
EDITED TO POST WINNER: Laney4, your name was drawn as the winner of an autographed copy of SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE. If you'll email me with your shipping info, I'll get that right out to you :-) Congratulations, and thank you to everyone for sharing your best and worst gifts with me!

In my latest Harlequin Blaze release, SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE, patriarch Tobias Black sees the homecoming of his oldest son as the best Christmas gift he could have. Now, he’s a wily kind of guy, so he did arrange Caleb’s homecoming himself. But as usual, no matter how carefully we plan, sometimes gifts don’t turn out quite the way we hope. For Tobias, it turns out that his son is quite possibly there to arrest him. Now that would quickly shift the gift of having Caleb back in his life from his best to his worst list. Now Pandora? She’s having such a wonderful holiday season, she’s afraid to jinx it by asking Santa for anything else. But when the sexiest, most intense bad boy she’s ever seen walks into her store, she figures the best gifts are the ones that come as a surprise.

So this got me thinking. For the most part, my husband is wonderful at choosing gifts. Except for that sweater he gave me the first year we were married. It’s blue. It’s clunky. It’s decorated with snowflakes. It’s... Well, let’s just call it unfortunate. Or maybe that’s what we should call me the couple of times I wore it. Isn’t that the sweet thing about those first years of marriage? We wear the ugliest things out of loving obligation. If he gave me that sweater now, I’d be asking for the exchange receipt. And knowing my husband, he’d laugh and hand it over. I think that’s just one more reason to love the guy!

And speaking of exchanges... Over the years I’ve been to a lot of holiday parties that include gift exchanges. You know the ones, everyone brings a themed gift or something within a certain price limit. Often, the gifts are thoughtful and welcome. And then there are the ones that aren’t. Not thoughtful, and definitely not welcome. And the thing is, these exchanges are usually optional. So knowing how cringe-worthy the gifts might be, you’d think I’d opt out. But no, I’m a glutton for pressies. I love ‘em. Even the questionable ones. :-D

Best gift exchange pressies:
• A box of Sees chocolates
• Santa Claus is Coming to Town dvd
• Hand painted ornaments

Worst gift exchange pressies:
• A small box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans (exchange $ limit: $20)
• Holiday themed cheese spreaders, used and poorly washed
• A cracked compact mirror (who gets the bad luck on that?)

In the end of SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE, Pandora definitely ended up with a gift she never wants to exchange. Love, holiday style, with that sexy bad boy is the best thing Santa—or Tobias—has ever brought her. And I think Tobias decided that having Caleb home was a pretty great gift. So great that he went right to work on his New Year’s gift... Bringing his daughter Maya home, too.

So how about you? What are your best and worst holiday exchange gifts? Tell me about them in the comments section to be added to a drawing for an autographed copy of SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE!

Tawny Weber has been writing sassy, sexy stories for Harlequin Blaze since her first book hit the shelves in 2007. When not obsessing over deadlines, she’s shopping for cute shoes, scrapbooking or hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. Come by and visit her on the web at www.tawnyweber.com

In December of 2011 Tawny launched her Undercover Ops series with SEX, LIES AND MISTLETOE. The second book in the series, SEX, LIES & MIDNIGHT is on shelves in January 2012, quickly followed in February by SEX, LIES & VALENTINES. Be sure to follow Tawny on her Holiday Survival Tour as she celebrates these three books with contests, giveaways and lots of fun. You can read the first chapter of SEX, LIES & MISTLETOE on her website, all you have to do is join the Reader LoveFest!