Thursday, April 27, 2017

You Can’t Go Home Again…Unless You’re in a Romance Novel

I grew up in a small town, where the average temperature in the Summer is one-hundred-seven degrees. It’s hot, you guys. HOT.




Yeah, I spent most of my high school years, planning my escape from the heat. When the time came, I left for college and eventually moved on to cooler pastures (hey, Chicago). Then I proceeded to spent the next twenty years trying to get home. No matter where I am, I’m always planning a trip to Arizona. What can I say? I miss the heat.

So when I sat down to plot LOVE OVER LATTES (coming soon from The Wild Rose Press), the setting and theme for it were a very organic choice for me. I went back to the place I called home for four years, Tucson (Go Cats!). NANOWRIMO Day One came and I only knew two things about my story; I wanted it set in the Sonoran Desert and I wanted it to be about going home.




LOVE OVER LATTES is about a young mom who wants to make a home for her son. At first, she doesn’t really understand what that means, and in her obsession to give her son this one thing she believes is important, she goes through a series of less than ideal choices. Like accepting the help of a stranger, an intimidating-as-hell entrepreneur, who’s given up on the whole idea of home and family.





Since this is a get-to-know-the-author blog, I figured I should include some fun facts about me (*waves*):

Three things I’ve done in the name of book research:
1. Jumped off a 50-foot waterfall
2. Watched a lot of porn
3. Drank cases and cases of champagne

Three things I’m obsessed with (because I’m on a roll):
1. Customizable life planners
2. Romance
3. Netflix

Hey, you made it all the way to the bottom of the page. Thank you!

Your turn: Where’s the place you call home? Let me know in the comments below.

For your efforts, we’re giving away (4) $5 Amazon gift cards. Just click on the Facebook Rafflecopter link below and do the widgets in the thingy. Winners will be announced on Monday, May 8th, on my Facebook page before I email the Amazon claim codes. I put a lot of thought into this giveaway, guys. So, do the thing.

http://gvwy.io/edlyqjp

Happy Reading!

Diana Hicks
DianaHicksBooks.com

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Am I in Your Book?

When was the last time someone asked you, “Am I in your book?” It’s a reasonable question. Writers often use real people as models for characters in a novel. It’s a pretty good way to get back at the ex. The person who asks you the question might be excited about the possibility of being in the book, or she might be a little scared about how you describe the character modeled on her. It’s scary to think that you might be recognizable as the bitchy neighbor or the gossip down the street.

For the setting of my mystery/thriller novel Sacrificial Lam, I used the small college campus where I taught for many years. Word soon got out to my old colleagues—faculty and administration—and to the many alumni to whom I am connected on line. The question began to appear in my inbox—“Am I in your book?”
One morning I stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Pour Jon’s, and as I waited for my vanilla latte, inhaling the rich odor of dark beans being ground, I noticed the college chaplain sitting in a booth by the stairs. He waved and smiled. “I heard about your book,” he said. “Does it have an evil chaplain in it?” The book does not, in fact, have a chaplain in it at all, but I thought that’s an idea. So I said, “No, but he may show up in the next book in the series.” I couldn’t tell whether he was disappointed or gratified.
A couple of days later, the college choral director and chair of the Music Department responded to my Facebook promotion with, “Is there a creepy choral director in your book?” Again, the book does not, in fact, have a choral director at all, but again I thought not a bad idea. So I said, “No, but he may show up in the next book in the series.” I happen to know this choral director pretty well. We used to play golf together once a week. In his case I was pretty certain that he was both disappointed that he wasn’t in the novel and gratified that I would surely put him in the next one.

I did put a few of my old colleagues in the novel, not particularly well disguised, just for fun. One of them, a psychologist, read parts of an early draft to check its validity and give me ideas for types of disorders. But after talking to the chaplain and the choral director, I started imagining how I would respond to certain people when they popped the question.

What would I say if the college president saw me at the local Thai café and said, “Is there a diabolical college president in your novel?” Since I’m retired now and don’t have to worry about my job, I could say, “No, I was afraid you would sue the pants off me for defamation of character.” He was a lawyer in a previous life, Harvard Law School, in fact.

What if the CFO, the Chief Financial Officer, saw me at the bank, standing in line to make a deposit, and said, “Is there a conniving CFO in your novel?” I could say, “No, but for a price I can make you the hero of the next book in the series.” A ludicrous attempt to solicit a bribe, you might say, but worth a try.

I’m beginning to see the real value of the question, “Am I in your novel?” It could become the wellspring of concepts for future books. Or it could become a vehicle for revenge. And if I’m really lucky, it could be the goose that lays the golden egg. I can live with that.

Gary Guinn
Writer: Sacrificial Lam
 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Falling in love is a lot like icing the perfect cake

I love to bake and have since I graduated college and moved out, taking my mom’s old mixer with me. Growing up in an Italian household, everything was homemade. There wasn’t a boxed caked mix or slice and bake cookies in my house growing up. Ever. Over the past few months I’ve taken a few cake decorating classes with my teenage son, who aspires to own a bakery one day. I figured it would be fun for him to learn the correct way to do things, my kitchen wouldn’t get messy, and we’d get to eat the end product. A win-win for all involved!

So far, we’ve learned the perfect way to ice a cake (which involves lots of icing, practice, and patience), how to personalize party cakes, and piping techniques. In many ways, it’s a lot like learning how to be a writer and falling in love! There’s lots of trial and error. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!

Later this month we’re taking classes on cupcake decorating and how to decorate a cake (putting all the elements together). I’ve learned a few good tips, one of which is that bakers are perfectionists. I’ve also learned there’s a lot of improvising in baking, much like cooking. I’ve had to modify pretty much every baked good recipe since my son has multiple food allergies, one of which is to milk. Substituting soy or rice milk for cow’s milk can change the consistency of a recipe. Even using a dairy-free butter has its challenges. I’ve also been experimenting with vegan recipes with mixed results. But we’re having fun…and eating cake.

Taking these classes has given me a greater appreciation for what a full
-time baker goes through. I’ve bought more baking accessories the past few months than I’ve ever had. From multiple sized icing bags, to many icing tips, tip holder, couplers, turntable, cake circles, cake leveler (who knew?), proper icing colors, spatulas, and probably more.

What do you think?

The heroine from my contemporary romance, FOREVER IN MY HEART, is a pastry chef. Vicky owns a hot new bakery and café in Northeast Philadelphia and has cornered the market on baked goods. Now, I imagine if I baked hours a day six or seven days a week, it would all become super easy, but right now, it takes time to do things the right way. It was fun writing Vicky’s character because I got to channel my love of sweets into her bakery. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll open that bakery with my son. That would be my dream come true! I could bake in the early morning and then write. Now that I think about it, I better make sure we open a location near a gym!

***
EXCERPT:

She pulled at the same moment he did, which resulted in the top box flying off and landing with a plop on the concrete.
Time stood still, and he was about to let out a nervous laugh. That is, until he caught the shocked expression on her face quickly turning to pissed off and ready to boil over.
“Dammit. I told you I had them,” she yelled.
So much for trying to help.
After releasing his grasp, she stored the boxes in the trunk.
“I’m sorry. If you would have just let me—”
“Next time mind your own business,” she said, placing her hands on her hips.
When did she get those glorious hips? And how about the sexy gleam of anger in her eyes?
With the smartass comeback he’d been ready to fire back at her forgotten, he stopped to take in her attire. She’d curled her long brown hair, which ran down past her shoulders. The green sundress was cut low, revealing a magnificent pair of breasts. Clearly she hadn’t finished developing the summer before he enlisted. The dress hugged a slim waist, ending at the middle of her thigh.
Jamie’s heart thudded with lust. Disgusted by his pure male reaction to this gorgeous woman, he’d crossed his arms over his stomach and hoped he appeared cooler than he felt.
He reached down, picked up the fallen box, and handed it to her. “If I minded my own business, you’d be scraping up the contents of all these boxes off the cement instead of only one. So maybe you should show the teensiest bit of gratitude.”
She opened the lid to reveal cannolis, half of which were broken.
What was it with him and broken cannolis?

***
About Forever in My Heart:

Vicky DiFrancesco is ready to put the past behind her. After a humiliating divorce, she’s determined to make her new café a success. The last thing she needs is her first love around, reminding her of what they’d lost. But when her life is threatened, could he be the very man she needs?

Jamie DiSilva’s homecoming after retiring from the army isn’t the one he’d been hoping for. Now, he’s trying to start a home improvement business in a town settled on holding him accountable for the sins of his late brothers. Redeeming himself to the girl he never stopped loving and her family is difficult when his brothers’ secrets come back to haunt him.

Untangling themselves from the past means righting several wrongs and deciding if their love is meant to last forever.

From now through April 21st, Forever in My Heart is on sale for only $1.99! You can pick it up at:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/15L7L3x
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1zs7kSU
The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2nNZvJs
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1BmdBUc
iBookstore: http://bit.ly/1AGh4i6
Google Play: http://bit.ly/1xe0ZAH


Maria K. Alexander
Award-winning Contemporary Romance
http://mariakalexander.com



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Discover Arnold Greenberg


My two Wild Rose ebooks, Max and Rosie and Taking Chances explore the emotional complexity of adultery. In Max and Rosie, his wife, the love of his life, is dying of Alzheimer's and no longer recognizes him, and though he is falling in love with Robin, their live in nurse, he remains faithful until she dies. In Taking Chances, Catherine loves her husband, Martin but is no longer in love and yearns for the intensity she experiences in the romance books she devours. She accidentally meets Tom and finds herself swept off her feet by his passion for life. Breaking her marriage vow is the hardest thing she has ever done. She feels she is living a lie and has to take a chance and follow her heart.
Their stories are about choices and integrity. Was Max being foolish honoring his marriage vows when Rosie doesn't even know he's her husband? Was Catherine wrong to take a chance and leave a loveless marriage, break her husband's heart and seek happiness?
 
To read more

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Gentleman Refused to Move!

What beautiful aristocratic ward of the Duke of Althorn was seen in the company of Lord Claven, son of the viscount? The chandeliers in the ballroom flickered in waves on the decorated ceiling casting undulating shadows against the walls as he danced her through the French doors and on to the terrace. Out of sight, but not out of hearing, this reporter heard him say, “It’s such a crush in there. I thought you’d appreciate a breath of fresh air.”

Through my quizzing glass, I saw the gentleman, and I use the word lightly, place her back against the rock wall, and station himself in front of her, enclosing the woman in a vise-lock embrace. “You are breathtaking in candlelight.”

I overheard the lady in question protest in a loud voice. “What do you think you’re doing? Do you speak such words to every woman you lure away in the dark?” She pushed him back. Her sardonic laugh was one intended to insult, not inflame his untoward ardor.

“Most likely, it usually entices ladies to explore.”

“That’s probably the most honest admission you’ve made tonight. Don’t come closer. I warn you.”

Gentleman Bastard“Honesty only goes so far, when I want to do so much more. I know you have a fondness for that…bastard.” He hesitated.

“Don’t go there,” she cautioned the lord.

“We all know what Thorn is. He’s had the good fortune to have a high placed aristocrat accept him.”

Her words were loud and clear. “I warn you, Claven. I pack a wicked punch.”

“I know he’s trained you in horsemanship. Perhaps he has trained you in other areas too? Like kissing?”

I brought my monocle closer to see her face. Her lips moved quickly and apparently in anger. “I now prefer to return to the ball.” She attempted to move away.

“No,” he said. His voice was gruff to be sure.

“Kindly remove your body from my path.”

Horrors, the gentleman refused to move!

“You lured me here, my darling.” Now he pinned her against the wall.

I could see that she held her reticule between them.

“You have a vivid imagination.” She attempted to move again. “All right then,” and quicker than quick, she sent her fist to his cheek.

Caught unaware, he stumbled to the side, his hand upon his jaw.

gentlemanI then saw her walk by him with a grin. “Thank you.” The sound of her voice echoed a small triumph. “You can thank Thorn Wick, the duke’s son, for teaching me fisticuffs. Come near me again, and I’ll plaster your face against a wall.”

She exited in a rush and straightened her gown only to run into Mr. Wick. With a casual attitude, she said, “You did teach me the art of boxing. I merely employed that education to accomplish my purpose.”

And what did he answer?  “Indeed it appears you did. I’ll have to discipline him, I see.”

What has our Regency world come to when a lady is not safe with a lord?

Arthur Spectator, Senior reporter, Teatime Traveler

About the BookGentleman Bastard


After three years in England, Thorn Wick, the duke’s bastard son, perfectly flawed, still fights for acceptance in his father’s world as a renowned Argamak Turk  horse trainer. Just when he starts to believe in fairy tales, another obstacle looms to thwart his plans: on a dangerous mission to Barbados, Thorn is stunned when secrets are revealed about his mother. Will he exact revenge for the foul deed?

Alicia Montgomery, ward of the duke, is in love with Thorn. Strong willed and adventurous, she determines she can convince him to admit his feelings. But the reality of loving Thorn too much almost destroys her.

Can Alicia quell Thorn’s demons and prove love can pave the way to their happiness to fulfill their destiny?

A Regency Romance with an Element of Suspense

GentlemanAbout the Author


From a humble beginning in Newark, New Jersey, a short stay at a convent in Morristown, N.J. at the age of fourteen, Sandra Masters retired from a fantastic career for a play broadcasting company in Carlsbad, California, and settled in the rural foothills of the Sierras of Yosemite National Park with her husband, Ron, and two dogs, Silky and Sophie. She traded in the Board Rooms for the Ballrooms of the Regency Era and never looked back.

She wrote her first book at the age of thirteen and since then she’s always traveled with pen and notebook for her writing experiences. It’s been the journey of ten thousand miles with a few steps left to go. She deemed it a pleasure to leave the corporate world behind decades later.

Nothing she expected, but everything she desired. Her business card lists her occupation as Living The Dream.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Why This Title?

Why did I write my latest book, SEX, LIES, & THE SPACETIME PINCH? If I let you in on my original title, “Hug a Tree,” it might give you a clue. When that phrase was first bandied about, it stuck in my mind. One of the concerns high on my list is protecting our environment, and I was pleased to find places where I could inveigle that idea into my story.

Also cooking on a back burner was a comment made by a psychologist friend. He believed that the majority of ills leading to aggression and wars came about through sexual guilt. I pondered that notion for some time and one night, when I couldn’t fall asleep and passed the time dreaming up plots, the two ideas came together. What if a fantastic planet existed where sex in all its various forms, and as thrilling as sex can be, was available for everyone, totally without guilt?

And what if this “paradise” was threatened?

One more important element: I wanted romance––and a happy ending. All the major plot points danced in my head as I dreamed up a feisty heroine, an alpha male handsome hero, and a trip to outer space (loved adding a smidgen of science fiction, with its allure of danger and wild imagination). One love story didn’t seem enough; I needed different personalities reacting to my guilt-free-sex planet, so three other couples were added in lesser roles.

There you have it. Utopian erotica. A brand new settlement and a brand new lifestyle. And did I mention robots? Every good story has some comic relief (ask Shakespeare).

I hope you’ll have as much titillating fun reading SEX, LIES, & THE SPACETIME PINCH as I had writing it.
--Vee Bentley
veebentleypinch@gmail.com

Thursday, April 06, 2017

BONDING by Sharon Ervin


On one overly warm Sunday afternoon, I phoned and invited Molly and Quincy, two teen-aged granddaughters––cousins to each other––to go “alley walking” with me. These girls are intense, and keep to tight schedules even in the summer. Puzzled by my invitation, they agreed.

No cell phones allowed, except mine, which was off.

As we ambled along, talking and seeing all the interesting stuff one sees in back yards, Molly asked me to tell her “my plan for this walk.”

“No plan,” I said. “We’ll walk until we get tired, then we’ll turn toward home.”

She scowled. “I mean, what’s our schedule?”

“No schedule. No structure. No plan,” I said. “We’re just going to walk and talk and see stuff.”

Along the way, I pointed out the back of the large frame house where their great, great grandfather lived when he came to McAlester on horseback with one of his brothers. It was the beginning of the 20th Century.

“The house was called ‘The Batch,’” I said. “Joe Johnson was 21 years old, just a few years older than you are now. It was a rooming house for young, single men. He took his meals there. His brother John rode on, but your great, great granddaddy liked McAlester and decided to stay. With money his dad had given him, he began a wholesale grocery venture. He worked hard and did well. He married the daughter of a local doctor, and had a family. He was a Presbyterian. His wife had been the first infant baptized in the Episcopal church here. Joe was a mason, a charter member of the Elks club and the country club and several other civic and social organizations.”

The girls asked questions and drew mental pictures of their common ancestor and what his life was like, pictured him walking down this same alley behind this same house all those years ago.

An hour later, after we had marveled at swimming pools and bunny cages, even a bobcat in a coop, my son, Molly’s dad, stopped his car at an intersection. He had been looking for us.

“Anyone want a ride?” he asked, arching his eyebr

We were perspiring freely by then. None of the three of us responded. I was leaving it up to the girls.

“Actually, Dad,” Molly said finally, “I think I’ll stay with Nana, if you don’t mind.”

“How about if we all go have ice cream?” A tempting offer, indeed.

“Maybe later, Dad.”

Obviously taken aback, he looked at me. I shrugged.

“Dad, did you know about ‘The Batch’?” his daughter asked.

He nodded and grinned, enlightened, then regarded me again.
“You told them about their great, great grandfather, did you?”

It was my turn to grin. “Yes.”

He laughed remembering alley walking with his brother and sisters years before, and his dad, my husband, telling stories about generations of his family involved in the development of our hometown.

“I could leave the car here and go with you,” he offered.

Molly said sweetly, “No, thanks, Dad. We’ll catch up with you later.”

The girls and I walked a while longer before we turned toward home, sweating, relaxed, and closer than before. There were no electronics involved.

Read MEMORY, my newest romantic/suspense novel, in print or online at http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001jYBgN4_ak8cH5cCSYu8uj-

www.sharonervin.com