APRIL GUESTS - HIGHLIGHTING CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
4-19 Kate Curran - Contemporary Romance: FALLING FOR YOU...AGAIN

NEWS
May 5 DARK OBSESSION by Terri Molina: Romantic Suspense with Mexican Mystical elements
May 6 DARING MISS DANVERS by Vivenne Lorret: Regency Romance

Thursday, April 24, 2014

VACATIONS - HISTORICAL - MARGARET TANNER


MARGARET TANNER’S FAVOURITE VACATION
I have to say I don’t really have a favourite place for a vacation, anywhere is good for me as long as there is plenty of sun, and I am waited on hand and foot, and have lots of yummy food.

Because I write historical romance, vacations are usually the honeymoon for my hero and heroine, but not always.

In my latest release, Allison’s War, which starts a few months before the commencement of the Great War (1914 – 1918), the vacations are a little different.

The first one belongs to the villain of the piece, Phillip Ashfield, an aristocratic young Englishman, the second one is Allison’s honeymoon, and the third one is Allison’s desperate journey to find her son after Phillip kidnaps him.

PHILLIP
Phillip Ashfield uncrossed his cramped legs and stood up to reach into the overhead luggage compartment. What an imposition, having to manhandle his own luggage.

“Good God, man, when you’re in the colonies you have to look after yourself.” He remembered the advice he’d received from Tony, one of his friends from Eton. How true, the Godforsaken bloody backwater.

If his father hadn’t been so ill, he would have refused point blank to come out to Australia. Had his mother not been so distraught about the old man, he would have ignored her entreaties to visit relatives at the back of beyond.

God, it was hot. The temptation to loosen his collar became almost unendurable. He wore the latest summer fashion for 1914, a three-piece suit with a shaped coat that had a vent down the back. His linen, as always, was the finest money could buy. Neither one helped keep him cool in these temperatures.

TOMMY AND ALLISON
The zoo proved to be much larger than Allison expected. The monkeys and giraffes were her favorites. Tommy insisted they have a ride on the elephant, and as the animal swayed along, they got a wonderful view.

“This is fun,” he said, squeezing her hand. “I like hearing you laugh; it’s such a happy sound.”

“I never knew we could have such an exciting time. Such places we’ve seen! I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s not a dream,” she said.

His teasing smile faded, and his blue eyes burned fiercely. “I’ll never forget, either.”

The bears lumbered around in a concrete pit, and Tommy leaned so far over the edge she worried about him falling in. He laughed loudly at this fear, and several people turned to look at them.

“Tommy, shh, people are staring.”

“I’ll give them something to really talk about.” Quick as a flash he pulled her close and kissed her, and she felt hot all over.

“Well, really, how could a young woman cheapen herself so?” A prim matron with two school-aged children complained to her male companion. “Those young larrikins think they can do what they like, just because they’re in the army.”

Allison’s embarrassment gave way to anger. “I happen to like my husband kissing me. At least he’s man enough to fight for his country.”

ALLISON
At the railway station, Allison spoke to the stationmaster and told him about Paul being taken by an English relative, and he promised to make arrangements about seeing to the livestock on the farm.

What a dreadful journey. She wanted to scream at the train to go faster, and by the time they pulled into Spencer Street station her hands shook and her head ached. A young man helped her off with Daphne’s pram, and then she found herself alone on a platform swarming with people.

The last time she’d stood here was with Tommy, as Jim bid them farewell. She hadn’t known it at the time, but she would never see her brother again. She shivered in the Melbourne dusk, and it wasn’t from cold. Dear God, why wasn’t one of them spared to help? Why did both of them have to die? She closed her eyes, and the noise of busy people was blocked out, replaced by the muffled sounds of marching feet, as ghostly battalions passed by on their way to immortality.

It was too late to find Phillip now; they had to get somewhere to stay, first. The only place she could think of was the hotel where Tommy had taken her for their honeymoon. It was dark when they reached the hotel, and by the light thrown out from the street lamps, it appeared the same as it had in 1914.

ALLISON’S WAR (PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AS WILD OATS) – BLURB

In 1916, on the French battlefields, a dying soldier’s confession has the power to ruin the woman he loves.
Meanwhile, on the home front, Allison Waverley has to battle shame, loss and betrayal. Can she overcome the dark secrets in her past and find happiness, or will it always elude her?


 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Building a Romance Bundle

by M.L. Buchman

I had a very exciting opportunity recently, I got to curate my first book bundle. I thought I'd talk about the experience.

Book Bundles are hot! They are cropping up everywhere. I have one myself of my three holiday Night Stalkers short novels: Night Stalkers Holiday Bundle. They're hitting the New York Times lists. (not mine yet, but others certainly are.)

It can be a way to entice readers with a reduced price like my NS Bundle. Or it can be a loss leader for a group of authors at a very low risk price. This of course means that it is most effective when you have a number of other books that can benefit from acquiring new readers. This bundle is a loss leader. It isn't about making money, it's about getting our stories out to new readers who will be interested in our other works.

I've had the pleasure of participating in a Christmas romance bundle last fall at Storybundle.com. It was a great experience, but I wanted to do something new and different this time. So, rather than starting with a theme, I started with some of my very favorite romance storytellers and then tried to think about how I could tie them together.

Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly with such a great collection of writers, the idea came together fairly quickly: "Romance: Past, Present & Paranormal." As soon as I had the idea put together, I approached Jason the owner of Storybundle. He has created a very interesting site.

It allows:
  • the reader to set the price. Above a certain minimum ($3 for this bundle), they receive the main set of books. Above  $10 they receive the bonus books as well at a cost of about a dollar each.
  • the reader can then directly receive the e-books downloaded in MOBI (Kindle) or EPUB (almost everyone else on the planet) formats.
Jason was thrilled at the idea. So, I approached the authors I had chosen. And received equally enthusiastic, YESs. (YESes?)

We put together a marketing campaign, because one of the real keys to a book bundle's success is the overlapping of networking methods and approaches. One commands a power blog, another a street team, another works listservs (loops, whatever you want to call them). We each bring our network to the bundle and hopefully find new audiences with our powerful storytelling.

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am by the final line-up we were able to put together. Some of these authors you will probably know, others you'd know their books if not their names (they'd be hard to miss with over a hundred titles out), and still others you may never have heard of.

Let me just say that these authors are all ones that I don't read just one book of, I read many.

Available from Storybundle.com April 30th to May 21st. So, be sure to save this post and grab these wonderful books as soon as you can!


Be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://www.mlbuchman.com to keep up with new release announcements.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MY FIRST BLOG HOP by Sarah Raplee

I want thank my sister, Diana McCollum, for inviting me to my first Blog Hop. (It’s about the writing process.) I’d also like to give her a shout out at www.dianamccollum.weebly.com .

Diana is one of the authors of LOVE & MAGICK: Mystical Stories of Romance from Windtree Press.

What am I working on? 

                 I’ve set aside my paranormal romantic suspense novel, Blindsight, which isn’t due to my editor until summer, to write a pair of short stories—one due out in July at Free Reads from the Genre-istas (& friends), and one that I’m submitting for inclusion in a Valentine’s anthology from Windtree Press.

                So far, I only have a title and a hero for my Valentine’s anthology story. A Portent of Peacocks is a YA romance that takes place ten years after the events in Blindsight. My hero, Jake, was only seven when he used his psychic Talent to help free himself and the other prisoners from a drug lord’s camp for enslaved psychics. But life on the outside has not been easy for him.

His foster mother died in the escape. Jake still misses her terribly. His biological parents are afraid of him and his older foster brother is leaving on assignment with the FBI. Plus, there’s this new girl at school. She’s locked down, sarcastic, even scary when she wants to be—she’s an Illusionist—and none of his friends want anything to do with her. But something about her makes Jake seek her out, no matter how many times she cuts him off at the knees and twists him up inside.

This story is going to be so much fun to write!

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

                Writing instructor Alicia Raisley told me I write dark comedy. I think she meant I don’t shy away from dark truths, but my voice is humorous and breezy, which keeps readers reading through the tough parts.

                I also like to push the boundaries a little as a writer. My heroine in Blindsight lost her sight in a car accident, but her blindness has nothing to do with her psychic Talent. It just makes life more difficult for her in many ways. My heroine in another book is an ex-con who was rightly convicted of trying to kill a man with a manure shovel. Contrary to what the so-called experts told me, I was able to make her a character my critique partners loved. I’m confident my readers will love her, too.

                And last, but not least, dogs play a role in almost every story I write, although when I started writing I thought I was a cat person. Go figure!

Why do I write what I do? 

                I write to entertain and uplift my readers, to restore their faith in happy endings and give them hope.

How does my writing process work?
            Wait. There’s a process?

Seriously, I spend time on what I call pre-writing before beginning a first draft. This includes figuring out my characters’ goals, motivations, and conflicts; mapping out the story spine (inciting incident, turning points, ending.) I plot using four-act structure, and it’s easier when I have a TP to write each act toward. I also do obvious research during this time, such as researching the setting or a character issue, like survivor’s guilt.

I’ve learned to knock my internal editor out for the duration of my first draft. I need to go full-bore from start to finish. Once I have the rough draft in hand, I wake her up and get to work. I sketch out what I’ve got on a story board and then to story edits. This is also when I do a book collage.
SARAH & FRECKLES


The second draft is about adding description and sensory detail, and deepening the emotion.

Then I polish before sending the story to my wonderful editor, Kelly Schaube.

The next step is incorporating Kelly’s edits.

Then I send the story to my Beta readers.

I tweak the story if needed, and finally reach THE END of the process.

This has Blog Hop has been fun! Thanks for inviting me, Sis.  


Monday, April 21, 2014

Lost in London


My favorite vacation wasn’t quite a vacation at all. It was part of a 1994 class trip—a study trip—during my university education. The group of us who went were supposed to be studying 18th century London history and literature. I can’t say I learned much about either while I was in London, though I had studied both thoroughly before we left. Once we arrived, however, the city awed and seduced me, and I had trouble focusing on anything other than absorbing as much of it as I could.

A typical colorful row of flats
in Camden Town, London.
With my classmates, I lived in a student housing flat in Camden Town. It’s a funky, colorful northwest borough of London, and it made for a quick Tube ride into central London. Less than half an hour after arriving at Euston Station and then settling into our Camden flat to put our bags down, a group of us jumped on the Tube and headed straight into the heart of the city. We ate jacket potatoes (a.k.a baked potatoes) with exotic (to us) toppings like sweetcorn and tuna in a restaurant that overlooked Leicester Square. I was instantly and completely in love.

There is a palpable energy to London. The city has more personality than any I've ever visited, and it was a character that appealed to me on every level—I loved it history, its busyness, its colors and all its uniquely quintessential aspects, from Big Ben to the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the red double-decker buses that seemed to be everywhere. I loved the smells, the accents, and the variety of Londoners.

Every single day, my classmates and I would venture out to explore London. We’d pick a different area each day. We visited Westminster Abbey, took a boat trip down the Thames, toured around Bloomsbury on a red double-decker bus, shopped in Knightsbridge, ate Turkish food on Baker Street, climbed to the top of dome of St. Paul’s, and the very best day was the one when we got lost.


Big Ben, shining bright on a London evening.
I was out with one of my classmates and we’d done some shopping, including a browse around Harrod’s. Rather than jumping back on the Tube, we decided to wander a bit and soon realized we had no real idea of where we were. We eventually discovered we were in Chelsea, a pretty residential area of London. I don’t remember seeing a single window box that wasn’t graced by flowers. Bold red geraniums seemed to dominate and they made a lovely contrast with the bright blue English Heritage plaques that adorned several buildings, indicating they had once been the home of a famous Briton.

Pere Biart Reading in the Garden
(1890) by Belgian Impressionist
Henry Van de Velde.
Another fortuitous day we ducked into a building not far from Savile Row in Mayfair, trying to escape the heat on a scorching hot summer day. We were surprised to find ourselves in a small art gallery. They were featuring an exhibition celebrating Belgian Impression, and we ended up spending much longer than intended soaking up the beautiful art. This painting by Henry Van de Velde, Pere Biart Reading in the Garden (1890), made an enormous impression on me. A poster from the exhibition featuring this painting is one of my prized mementos from my first visit to London.


Years later, I was lucky enough to live in London for a bit. Living in a place is a different experience than visiting as a tourist. As a young tourist, I had been free to spend my days wandering London from dawn to dusk. As a resident, I worked all day as a cover teacher (what we’d call a substitute) in various schools around London and didn’t venture far from the southern borough where I lived for weekend outings. My love for London deepened as a resident, but nothing can compare to the initial flush of excitement I felt during my first visit. Twenty years later, I still miss London fiercely, and I can’t wait to visit again. For now, I visit in my fiction, using London as a backdrop for my historical romance stories, like my debut novella, Scandalous Wager.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Contemporary Romance Chose Me by Author Kate Curran

KATE CURRAN
I originally started writing time travel historicals. At about that same time, I started reading authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown.

Suddenly, contemporary romance chose me.

The stories that speak to me have deep emotional issues beyond the romance.  I love writing stories that are more than just about falling in love, but also secondary stories about building stronger relationships with family and friends.

In my first book, Only for You, my hero and his father have been estranged for nine years, and the hero returns home when he learns his father is seriously ill.  So alongside the romance is a story about a father and son rebuilding their relationship.

With my second book, Falling for You…Again, I took on the challenge of a couple surviving the death of a child.  The book opens two years after their daughter died in a boat accident, and their marriage is hanging by a thread.  I wanted to show that couples can survive a tragedy and embrace each other and life again. 

My current work in progress, Leave Me Breathless, deals with domestic violence. Even with as heavy a topic as this one, there is a lot of fun and laughs, and I think really lovable, memorable characters.

With every book, I strive to give my readers a few tears, some laughs, romance and an ending that warms the heart. 



Friday, April 18, 2014

Holidays past and future

Hello, I'm Pippa Jay, author of SciFi and the supernatural. Right now I'm drowning in edits for three separate books, and the idea of a holiday is *very* appealing! >.<

Holidays these days tend to be very child-orientated to keep my three monsters entertained. They're mostly beach related. I've never really been a sun, sea and sand person - I burn far too easily with my pale skin - but there's something quite relaxing about sitting by the sea and listening to the waves rush in and out...even when drowned out by excited screams and the odd shrieks of sibling rivalry. :P


It's hard to pick a favourite holiday. Before the days of little monsters, two holidays stick in my mind. The out-of-the-ordinary visit to Taiwan to stay with a friend who was working out there was probably the most striking. It's also an experience that I've used as a basis for how someone might feel when arriving on an alien planet for the first time - the contrast in culture and surroundings was that sharp for me. But the best? I think that was my trip to Sweden with my husband and his parents. We had this little log cabin quite literally in the middle of nowhere, with private woodland and our own lake. The quiet and solitude were amazing. No traffic. Very few birds. If you wanted to write something post apocalyptic about being the only human being left alive, it was the perfect setting for inspiration. I loved it. We went canoeing and fishing on the lake. I saw my first red squirrel, a firecrest, and a Camberwell Beauty butterfly. Some people might find the silence and isolation creepy, but I adored it to the point where I even considered moving there. I'm not great with languages, though, so I'm not sure it would have worked out. But I'd love to go back again.

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to our yearly holiday booked for the end of May. This time we're having a week in a house styled to look like an African hut, up on a cliff top setting by, yes, a beach. I'm hoping for dry weather. The beach is huge, and the dunes between us and the sea are a haven for butterflies. And hopefully by then, all my edits will be done!


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vacation Memories


So we’re talking vacations this month. It’s a bit premature since most vacations happen in the summer. 
I never really took vacations until after I was married and had kids and my husband retired from the Coast Guard and found another job, because we just couldn’t afford to. Our first family vacation was 2002. A trip to Florida. My nieces Heather and Sierra joined us, along with Sierra’s brother Nik. We went to both Disneyworld and Universal studios and had a blast! The kids were all at the perfect age to enjoy the rides and shows.  As much fun as that was though, I think my most memorable vacation was the one I took in 1975, with my whole family. It was the first and only vacation I can remember us taking and the last because a few months later my mom passed away.  I can still remember when she came to tell us we were taking a trip. She just walked in the room while we were watching TV and said, “We’re going on a trip, so pack some clothes and get some sleep. We’re leaving very early in the morning.”  Yeah, it was a spur of the moment thing. I think my aunt and uncle talked her into it, they came with us.

So we all piled into our Suburban…seven kids aged nine to seventeen, a two year old toddler and three adults and took a road trip south along the Texas gulf coastline. I remember we made stops in Alice, Kingsville, Corpus Christie and Brownsville….visiting with family mostly. Then we took a trip across the border to Mexico to do some shopping.  I don’t remember which town it was, there are a few you can cross into that welcome tourists.  Along the river on the Mexico side, you’ll see children of all ages begging for money and scrambling like ants for the measly coins people toss down to them. Once you cross the river via the international bridge and you’re accosted by merchants trying to sell you everything from candies to clothing to wall hangings. Even children, some as young as five, will try to sell you packets of gum.  The streets are lined with stores and the sidewalks are crowded with carts filled with leather belts, handbags, jewelry,  everything you can think of. And, occasionally you’ll pass a store and your senses are filled with the spicy aroma of Mexican food.  I don’t remember if anyone bought anything, although I’m sure we did.  But, you have to be careful who you turn down because if it’s the wrong person, you could end up cursed. I saw a woman give my mother a dirty look when she told her no and a couple of months later mom got sick. (Superstitious much?)

I’ve made a few trips back to Mexico over the years and not much has changed.  The children are still begging for loose change, merchants are still trying to make deals, and you won’t find better Mexican food. Of course, I avoid eye-contact, for obvious reasons. Hah

A few years back, while I was working on my book Dark Obsession (available May 5th), my aunt, cousin and I took a trip back down the Rio Grande Valley (the gulf coastline) so I could get some visuals. Dark Obsession takes place in the valley….almost all of my stories do, actually.  I got some great stories from my aunt’s in-laws as well as some great scenery to use in the story.  

Anyway, speaking of Dark Obsession, the book is being re-released May 5th. I hope you’ll pick up a copy and help spread the word. =)

Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt for your reading pleasure.

 

DARK OBSESSION

A chance encounter seals the fate of a reclusive farmer and a mysterious woman who's on the run from a man who will stop at nothing to control her--including murder.

Ray Chavez  doesn’t believe in visions or omens or the mysticism of his Mexican/Indian heritage. When he’s awakened by the spirit of this great-grandmother with a message that something is coming, Ray passes it off as a bad dream. But he may just reconsider his position when he finds Lexie Solis stranded on the edge of town, in search of a new life. Ray feels an instant attraction, as well as a connection, to the skittish young woman, and he pursues a relationship with her. But what Lexie doesn’t tell Ray or his family, is that she is on the run from an abusive ex-boyfriend and he may be more powerful than even she wants to believe. When Lexie is assaulted by an unseen force, they learn that the man she is hiding from is a master of the dark arts and his obsession with Lexie goes beyond his need to control her; he wants to possess her soul as well. As their past lives parallel, Lexie’s only hope for salvation is in Ray’s hands. But can he accept his destiny in time to save the woman he loves? 

Excerpt:

Sylvia dropped onto the kitchen chair and scowled at her brother. She’d rushed straight from work after her grandmother called and told her about their new visitor. She couldn’t help but wonder if it were the same visitor her cards had been warning her about for the past week and even after she voiced this concern Ray still had the nerve to patronize her.

She’s not some stray puppy you picked up from the side of the road, Ray,” she said. I’m just saying you don’t know anything about her.”

Ray leaned against the counter, crossing his legs at the ankles, and sent her a crooked grin. Damn. And I was really looking forward to teaching her a few tricks.”

Stop thinking with your glands and think with your head, Big Brother,” Sylvia snapped.

I’ve been thinking with my glands since I was fourteen. It’s a hard habit to break.”

Sylvia curled her lip at him and turned to her grandmother for support. She had sensed a mal puesta in the young woman and performed a limpia to heal her. It was a ritual they often worked for the families in town who came to see them about their curses. The inflicted would lie on a small cot and her grandmother would wave an egg over them, chanting a series of novenas.

She did this same cleansing on the young woman in Ray’s old bedroom. When she finished she took the egg and cracked it into a glass of salt water. The egg sizzled and cooked, curling its way to the surface like a snake trying to escape the flames of hell.

 Look for this and other works at my website: www.terrimolina.com