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Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Thirteen Crummy Gifts

By M.L. Malcolm

“What is,” I asked one of my girlfriends at her recent birthday celebration, “the worst gift you’ve ever been given?”

She did not hesitate. “Golf clubs,” she answered.

“That doesn’t sound so bad.”

“But I don’t play golf. I hate golf. And this guy knew that.”

“What did you say?”

“I said thank you. But the next weekend I went to a used sporting goods store and sold the clubs. A few days later the guy who worked at the place called me and asked me out. I used the money from the clubs to buy the most expensive, sexiest dress I’d ever owned, and wow, was that one hot date. Needless to say, I dumped the golfer.”

One of the reasons I enjoy writing historical fiction is because I like doing the research. I’m curious. I was so intrigued by my friend’s story that I followed it up by asking a lot of women to tell me about the worst gift they’d ever received.

Almost without exception they answered immediately, as if expecting the question. The wounds caused by a lover’s badly chosen present can apparently last for a long time. So counting the above-mentioned golf clubs, here are the thirteen worst examples of true romantic ineptitude I uncovered during my informal survey, along with their often unintended consequences.

Terrible gift number two: the tacky treadmill. “From my first fiancé,” one woman sighed as she related her story. “I mean, why not just hang a ‘Needs Improvement’ sign around my neck? But I started using the darn thing. I lost fifteen pounds, felt great about myself, began to realize how often he put me down, and broke up with him. I still have the treadmill.”

Number three: the wretched rice cooker. “It was a mini rice cooker,” another girlfriend told me, “so that I wouldn’t waste rice. I got this on the Christmas I thought he was going to propose.” She also got the last laugh; she used the rice cooker to help her make a perfect Indian meal for the next man she was serious about. He was from India. Now they’re married.

Number four: the wrong rock. Gag gifts on Valentine’s Day proved to be a common theme. Perhaps these misguided gentlemen are trying to defuse what they perceive to be a tense issue, but such offerings almost always backfire. One such foolhardy fellow, who gave the young woman he’d been dating for years a huge rock—a massive, diamond-shaped crystal paperweight—found it imbedded in the hood of his car the next morning. “I thought it made a very attractive hood ornament,” the woman telling this story explained, “better that than planting it in the side of his head, which is where I was first tempted to put it.”

Number five: the redundant roadster. One woman received a BMW convertible from her adoring husband on her 50th birthday. I know what you’re thinking—how could that be a bad present? Well, she didn’t want it. He did. But he never drove it, because it was her car. So neither one of them drove it. Five years later they gave it to their son for his college graduation. He loved it. He also loved the look on the mechanic’s face when he brought it into the dealership to get checked out; the car was five years old and had fewer than 6,000 miles on the odometer.

Number six: olive oil. Really expensive olive oil. Dismayed at first, the recipient decided to use this unwanted offering to convert what she’d previously thought of as a rather tedious bedroom chore into something a little more…flavorful. It turned out to be a pretty nice present for both of them.

Crummy gift number seven: a book of pick-up lines. Funny? Maybe. Appropriate? Nope. This gal brought the book along with her on her next night out with the girls, wanting to vent and share her hurt feelings. They started reading the lines aloud to some of the men who were in the bar that evening. Good fun was had by all. Several phone numbers changed hands. The guy who’d given her the book never found out that, “Do you believe in love at first sight, or do I need to walk by again?” was the line that cost him his girlfriend.

Eight: the worst gift I ever received. That would be a belt that an old boyfriend gave me. This was not a pretty accessory. It was just a plain leather belt. However, like the lady who got the olive oil, I was able to come up with a more, shall we say creative use for this seemingly lackluster gift.

I used it as an extension on my dog’s leash.

Number nine: the misbehaving vibrator. “The vibrator wasn’t really a bad gift,” its recipient confided, “the problem occurred after my boyfriend and I broke up. I was moving to a different apartment in the same complex, and had gotten up the courage to ask a very cute neighbor to help me move some of my furniture. Well, when he and another guy friend lifted my bedroom dresser the vibrator somehow started up, banging against the wood like a pneumonic drill. They dropped the dresser so fast it put a dent in the floor that cost me part of my security deposit. I think I stammered something about an electric toothbrush. Talk about embarrassing.”

Number ten: the sneaky sweater. Often a bad gift is also a bad omen. “Once this guy gave me a sweater that looked a lot like something his mother would wear,” another woman told me. “Sure enough, the next time I went to his house for dinner, she was wearing the exact same sweater—only hers was a couple of sizes smaller—and she immediately asked me why I didn’t wear mine that night. I could not get out of that house, or that relationship, fast enough.”

Eleven: the telltale diamonds. A very good friend of mine once received a pair of really teeny, tiny diamond earrings from a man she’d been dating for several years. She knew he could afford something nicer; he just didn’t want to spend the money. Fed up, she left them on his bed the next morning with a note saying, “I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you this, but size matters.”

Twelve: the cop-out cactus. “I tried to give him some credit,” this woman explained. “I thought maybe by giving me this crappy little cactus he was trying to tell me that we would soon be going on a romantic trip to the desert, or something. Then I stopped for gas in his neighborhood and saw a shelf of them for sale in the corner by the restroom.” Ouch.

Worst gift number thirteen: re-gifted lingerie, in the wrong size.

That one’s pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it?

A graduate of Emory University and Harvard Law School, M.L. has won several awards for her fiction, including special recognition in the prestigious Lorian Hemingway International Short Story Competition, and a silver medal from ForeWord Magazine for Best Historical Fiction Book of the Year 2009. She has also amassed an impressive hat collection (and yes, she does wear them). Her novel, Heart of Deception, was just released by Harper Collins. You can find out more about M.L. and her work at

Heart of Deception tells the story of Leo Hoffman, a man of many contradictions. He is a Hungarian national with a French passport, a wealthy businessman with no visible means of support, and a devoted father who hasn’t seen his daughter in years. He is also a spy.

Recruited by the Allies to help lay the groundwork for their invasion of North Africa, Leo intends to do as little spying as possible; he just wants to earn his American citizenship, get to New York, and find his daughter, Maddy. But while Leo dodges death in France and Morocco, Maddy learns the truth behind her father’s mysterious past, and as she matures, this haunting knowledge compels Maddy down her own dangerous path of deception and discovery.

“Fascinating and deftly-written....The writing is exquisite, wrapping the reader in another time and place.”—Historical Novel Society Reviews

“Malcolm spins a mesmerizing tale of love, deceit, and betrayal as a father and daughter are torn apart by a world increasingly spinning out of control.”— Booklist

Monday, May 30, 2011


Show me a long weekend and I'll show you a do-it-yourself disaster zone. Sure, we all mean to sleep in, go on vacation, take a break, but somehow we're sucked into Home Depot and the results are disastrous -- or maybe that's just me? I have grand plans and absolutely no DIY skills. Do NOT let me hang wallpaper, although I can just about manage to strip it!

One of the joys of writing fiction is the effortless interior decorating. I outfit whole mansions without bruising a thumb or getting paint on my new t shirt. Most recently, I imagined the renovation of a ruined Crusader castle in Syria into a luxury hotel. Honestly, three wishes from a djinni are priceless! If only real life were that easy. I want to live in a five star hotel with linen sheets and silk draperies, splashing fountains and mosaic floors, and all with the fabulous backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea.

I made up my hotel, but since then I've gone looking at real life examples ... and oh my, breath-taking. This is Oia Castle, Santorini (by MySantorini,

Oia Castle Hotel in Oia

Researching Syria's history and ancient landscape for Three Wishes was pure delight.

When LSR gave me a guest spot on a long weekend, I just knew I had to share some of the home decorating tips, Syrian-style that I learned.

You won't find many Syrian-style guides, but you will find an abundance of Moroccan interior design books (such as Moroccan Style), and the similarities of colour, Mediterranean setting and Islamic cultural influences will set your imagination tingling.

Coloured glass lamps are an obvious starting point. Floor cushions and handwoven carpets. Room dividers or screens. Bold patterned pottery, lots of terracotta. I have to admit, I have a weakness for water fountains that incorporate an urn or olive oil jar -- tacky or chic? I love them. Perhaps it's because I live in a climate of long, hot, dry summers. Water is precious.

I like to conjure the sense of an ancient trading city, like Damascus, with its spices (scented candles are your friend, here!) and hidden courtyards, intrigue, romance and danger; the sense that you're inviting guests into a private world of comfort and luxury.

So, how about you, any DIY dreams -- or disasters -- you're willing to share?


She is the Bringer of Death

Cali, a djinni, has sworn to twist the wishes of humans so they die by their own greed and evil. Her latest master is arms dealer David Saqr, a man Cali believes deserves the fate she has in store for him. But this time she finds herself up against Andrew, David’s guardian angel.

 He is a Protector of Life

Andrew believes David can yet find redemption. He fights Cali for the man’s life, even as he tries to persuade her to give in to the sizzling attraction between them. He shows Cali another side of David, and invites her to trust again, to hope. But centuries of being enslaved have hardened Cali’s heart—it’s going to take all of Andrew’s love to convince her to open it and let him in.

from Carina Press


You can find Jenny at her website, on Twitter and Facebook and indulging her love of pretty pictures on Tumblr. She is the (sometimes) proud owner of a golden retriever whose ambition is to carpet the world in fur. Her favourite nonfiction book is London. A Biography by Peter Ackroyd.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Acidophilus Cupid and The History of Dangerous Romances, Scandals and Liaisons

Delle Jacobs

Several months ago while I was writing THE BOSS WORE RED for a Valentine anthology with my co-conspirator SamMarie Ashe, I came upon a little fellow named Acidophilus Cupid. Like others of his surname, Acid is in the Cupiding business, and tells me he is, in fact, the true instigator of the romances I have written, including my latest release, LADY WICKED.

Acid assures me that although my book is built on a scandal, it pales in comparison with contemporary scandals. He has been regaling me with The History of Dangerous Romances, Scandals and Liaisons, a book he plans to write. Of course, I am skeptical. Plenty of people intend to write a book someday, so I am skeptical. But even though he is a bit of a stuffed shirt, he takes his job as Cupid quite seriously. So I've asked him to tell you one of his favorite tales.

Good day, romance lovers. I really do wish Delle would improve on her introductory skills, don't you? Really, just because I take great pride in my occupation is no reason to call me a stuffed shirt. My family has been in the Cupiding business for hundreds of years and our work has been responsible for any number of changes in the course of history. We specialize in the most difficult and dangerous of affairs.

But we Cupids do not take credit for all things romantic. Humans can and do fall in love on their own, often scandalously. Our tale today is about William, Lord Hamilton, Emma, Lady Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Nelson. But let me tell you , Emma was no lady. It was all most aristocratic Englishmen could do to speak her name, let alone her title.

Emma is not to be entirely blamed for her perilous path through history. She was born a blacksmith's daughter, and grew up to be a tall, slightly plump, very beautiful woman who, one could say, made great use of her assets.

As our tale opens, she had been the mistress of Charles Greville for a number of years, but Greville wished to marry a woman who would not tolerate her husband's beautiful mistress. So Lord Greville arranged to ship Emma off Naples to his uncle, Lord Hamilton, in exchange for payment of debts. Greville neglected to tell Emma the details, and thought it all a marvelous lark. William fell madly in love with Emma. He was far from the only man to do so, so we can hardly blame him either. But it was a surprise to Greville when several years later, Emma married his uncle. A surprise to everyone, actually. Titled men did not marry blacksmith's daughters. Mistresses, maybe, but that class thing was really important then.

The truth was, William and Emma were genuinely fond of each other, and Emma provided marvelous entertainment for William's many house guests, including Horatio Nelson, the great hero of the Battle of the Nile. Emma was struck with admiration and awe, and, well, actually, so was William. Nelson was no ladies man- more the timid type, despite his great and brilliant heroics in battle, which had cost him an arm and one eye. Emma nursed him back to health, with William's blessing.

Somewhere along the line, a shift began, and Nelson and Emma fell in love, and William, now over 60, at least tolerated their affair. Nelson was also married, but had studiously avoided his wife almost since they had married. But divorce was very hard to obtain then, especially when the woman had an utterly spotless reputation. Not even his hero status could change that.

Back in England, the three lived openly together, scandalizing and fascinating the public. Emma's fame spread widely, and she was the fashionista of her day. And clearly, Emma and Nelson were in love, both with each other and their own fame. William, good old soul that he was, went along affably with it all. When he died in 1803, though, there still was no hope of Nelson's divorce.

Emma had lost her first child by Nelson, and was pregnant with the second when he was called back to war. No longer in good looks and obese, Emma was desperately lonely. She took to gambling and reckless spending, and soon had run through the small stipend William had left her. And then, in one of the most famous sea battles in history, Admiral Nelson executed a brilliant, dangerous plan that was successful, but cost him his life.

Sad to say, Emma, who had never married Nelson, was not even allowed to attend his funeral. The British government refused Nelson's last request that Emma be provided for. And although some friends came to her rescue, Emma spent a year in what amounted to a debtors' prison for her extravagance, and left for France to escape her creditors. She died in poverty in 1815. Her only living child, Horatia, never publicly acknowledged being Emma's daughter.

A sad tale, isn't it? Immoral and shocking, yes, especially for their day. Yet– people cannot live forever. And most are fortunate to have such happiness as this lady who was no lady, or the two men who might not have known love if it had not been for her.

In addition to being included in the weekly contest, one randomly drawn commenter on this post will also win a download of Delle's latest release Lady Wicked and one will win a pair of hand-crafted silver earrings, made by silversmith Tom Hakins.

Delle Jacobs

Thursday, May 26, 2011


All commenters on this guest blog are entered into a drawing for one of two copies of SEALed Forever; US and Canadian addresses only please. Make sure you include your email address either in your comment or your public profile.

If I’d never heard of myself, would I read my books?

The above question is one I’ve pondered over and over. Even though SEALed Forever, in its first week out, hit # 4 in sales at Barnes and Noble, I’m still a relative newbie. I burst upon the scene, so to speak, in 2008 with SEALed with a Kiss, my first novel.

A lot of people haven’t heard of me. I’m still not totally used to thinking of myself as an author. It’s not hard to put myself in their place.

I imagine myself wandering into the coffee scented environment of Barnes and Noble, the only non-specializing bookstore in my city, now that Borders has closed.

Barnes and Noble has been good to me, and anything that helps them thrive I’m in favor of, but you know, I miss the smell of books. What could be more exciting than inhaling the elixir of fresh ink and crisp, never-before-turned pages?

This particular day, I’m not looking for anything in particular. I’m just browsing, letting a cover or title catch my eye, reading the back matter, occasionally dipping into a few pages.

I’d like to tell you I don’t judge a book by its cover, but now that I’ve put some thought into why I pick up one book and not another, I’ve come to realize I do. A cover with lots of black or brown and orange makes me think the book is heavy on dark intrigue and light on character. I won’t like the book. Ditto dead body floating in a swimming pool. Ditto dripping blood. Unless the book is by an author I’m already a fan of, chances are I won’t even pick it up.

My eye falls on SEALed Forever. I’m not sure what “SEALed forever” means, exactly, but the pun makes me smile.

I confess right now, I can’t resist a pun. Honest and truly, I can’t see why some people find them groan-worthy. Someone has said that the pun is the lowest form of humor, but I’m telling you, that person never saw thirteen-year-old boys with a whoopee cushion.

But I’ve digressed. I’m supposed to be pretending that I never heard of me. Turns out, it’s harder than you might think.

I check out the author. Mary Margret Daughtridge. My gosh, what a name! Too long to get on one line—something I have a lot of sympathy for. I’ve been squeezing my name into too small boxes all my life. I shake my head. Romance writers often use a nom de plume. If ever one were called for, it’s here. On the other hand, nobody would make a name like that up, so I have to give her points for courage.

The cover? The current trend for naked, headless torsos doesn’t do much for me. Both as a reader and a writer, what I care about is character… But I also know the cover style is graphic shorthand for “hot read”—something I don’t object to at all.

I turn to the back matter. After all, no matter what’s on the front what I care about is the story. Hm. It’s about a SEAL( I like SEALs) working undercover, in a quandary—he’s found a baby. There’s a strong-sounding woman as the love interest (gotta have a strong hero. A strong heroine makes it even better.)

Here’s another thing I like. SEALed Forever doesn’t appear to be romantic suspense. SEALs are such made-to-order action heroes; it almost seems like a waste not to base the plot on danger and lots of action. It might be fun to read about one of these extraordinary men dealing with ordinary people—while the fact that he has all it takes to be a SEAL becomes part of the story’s context.

But you know what attracts me the most? The heroine isn’t the one who rescues the child. It’s the man.

I once saw a western I remember absolutely nothing about except the scene in which a band of horsemen ride up to a homestead where everyone has been massacred except for a baby too young to eat regular food. They look at it, wondering what to do. “It’ll die,” they say. “Maybe we should just put it out of its misery now.”

Don’t remember the rest of the scene. But as they return to their horses, one dusty, saddle worn, trail weary man mounts up with the baby in the crook of his arm.

All I can recall about the movie ends there, but if I’d written it, that’s where the story would begin. I’ve always wondered, what happened to the man and the baby? How many days was he on the trail with it? How did he feed it? And what did he do about diapers? Did he manage to keep it alive? Or did the prairie grass eventually wave over a tiny, nameless grave?

As you can see, the only part of the movie worth remembering was the man taking the baby, unprepared but willing to try to keep it alive.

Well, if SEALed Forever is about that, it’s for me.

Would I read it? Heck yeah. And I’d love Garth, the hard edged SEAL with the tender heart. I’d love Bronwyn the doctor, whose big move won’t work if she tries to leave pieces of herself behind. I’d love watching as love helps them open the door to their true selves. And I’d love finding out how the heck that baby came to arrive in the US hidden in a spy plane!

Yep. SEALed Forever is just my kind of book.

Now that that’s settled, what makes you take a chance on an author you never heard of?


He’s got a living, breathing dilemma…
In the midst of running an undercover CIA mission, Navy SEAL Lt. Garth Vale finds an abandoned baby, and his superiors sure don’t want to know about it. The only person who can help him is the beautiful new doctor in town, but she’s got another surprise for him…

She’s got a solution…at a price…
Dr. Bronwyn Whitescarver has left the frantic pace of big city ER medicine for a small town medical practice. Her bags aren’t even unpacked yet when gorgeous, intense Garth Vale shows up on her doorstep in the middle of the night with a sick baby…

But his story somehow doesn’t add up, and Bronwyn isn’t quite sure who she’s saving—the baby, or the man…

Mary Margret Daughtridge has been a grade school teacher, speech therapist, family educator, biofeedback therapist, and Transpersonal Hypnotherapist. She is a member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Romancing the Military Soul, and is a sought-after judge in writing contests. She resides in Greensboro, North Carolina. For more information, please visit and

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Alphas and Betas and Gammas, Oh My

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about alpha heroes versus beta heroes. Alphas, of course, are the testosterone-laden tough guys, frequently with backgrounds in some super secret military units, who can lift small cars with a single hand in order to change the heroine’s tire (all the while grumbling about women’s inability to understand auto mechanics). The beta hero is Mr. Sensitive, willing to listen to the heroine’s problems at work and maybe bring her a cup of soup and a foot rub.

Okay, I’m exaggerating here (wildly, of course), but to me that’s the problem with this sharp distinction. By dividing heroes into camps, we make it difficult for them to venture over those precise lines to create anything like a hybrid. This division doesn’t really allow for a tough guy who’s also willing to hear the heroine out, or a smart guy who can also save the heroine’s butt in a shoot-out. But personally, I find those heroes a lot more interesting than the alpha or the beta. So I give you…the gamma. The guy who has elements of both. Enter Tom Ames, my hero in Brand New Me.

Tom’s name comes from a song by Steve Earle called “Tom Ames’ Prayer”. Earle’s Tom Ames is an outlaw facing his final gun battle. My Tom Ames isn’t quite that extreme, but he’s a man with a slightly shady past and a flourishing bar, the Faro, located in Konigsburg, Texas. The Faro has a shady past too since it used to be a place you wouldn’t want to visit without a burly escort, but Tom has cleaned it up, plus adding music and a colorful group of employees.

Into this bar walks our heroine, Deirdre Brandenburg, who had a one-sentence mention in Wedding Bell Blues. She’s Docia Toleffson’s cousin and she needs a job. Tom’s looking for something to attract local customers, and Deirdre seems to be a good possibility. But of course, Tom’s just as attracted to her as the locals are. Many adventures ensue.

So here’s what sets Tom apart, at least in my mind. Nobody is going to question his alpha credentials. He’s a good guy to have around in a fight—perfectly willing to wade into a bunch of flailing bar patrons with a sawed-off pool cue and a determined look. He rescues Deirdre from some totally inept kidnappers through a combination of brains and brawn.

But he’s not just an alpha. He’s also willing to listen to her, to draw out her story and offer his sympathy. And he’s also willing to offer up his own story for her, to share in other words. And he’s a thoughtful, generous lover (the best part of “betaness” in my opinion).

Tom is a different kind of hero for me. I wanted a hero who had a dark side, but not someone as troubled as Erik Toleffson in Long Time Gone. I wanted a hero who hadn’t always been on the up-and-up, but who was an honorable guy deep down. I wanted a hero who was trying to make it in a tough job, but who had the skills and the will and the deep-down desire to make it happen. I wanted Tom Ames.

So consider this—is it really a choice between alphas and betas? Isn’t that like making women choose between beauty and brains? In the words of an old Guy Clark song, “Long as you’re handin’ it out, Lord, I’ll have a little of both.”

Here’s the blurb for Brand New Me:

If any man wants more than a dance with her, they’ll have to get past him…
Konigsberg, Texas, Book 5

Deirdre Brandenburg has an MBA and a dream to become the coffee supplier for Konigsburg’s growing restaurant industry. What she doesn’t have is money, courtesy of her billionaire father’s scheme to make her come home. All she needs is three months until her trust fund kicks in. Until then, she needs a job.

Hiring the new girl next door is a no-brainer for ex-gambler Tom Ames. He’s already succeeded in making his bar, The Faro, a growing tourist draw. Deirdre’s beauty will pull in the locals—particularly every red-blooded male in the Hill Country. As he watches her transform from tentative business wonk to confident, sassy barmaid, he realizes he wants first crack at her heart.

When Big John Brandenburg sends Deirdre’s ex-boyfriend to drag her home, the plan backfires, leaving Tom’s bar in shambles and Deirdre kidnapped by a band of loony Texas secessionists.

Things are looking pretty bleak—except the good people of Konigsburg have no intention of giving Deirdre up, either. Even if it takes every Faro employee, every last Toleffson, and one cranky iguana to give the honky-tonk lovebirds a chance at forever.

Warning: Contains dirty dancing, hot summer sex, a honky-tonk makeover, and one nippy iguana.

Meg Benjamin is the author of the Konigsburg series for Samhain Publishing. Book #3, Be My Baby, won a 2011 Epic Award for Contemporary Romance. Book #4, Long Time Gone, received the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Indie Press Romance. Book #5, Brand New Me, was a Long and Short Reviews Best Book. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly anyway).

Her Web site is You can follow her on Facebook ( and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


All commenters on this guest blog are entered into a drawing for one of two copies of Wickedly Charming; US and Canadian addresses only please. Make sure you include your email address either in your comment or your public profile.

My Secret Life
Kristine Grayson

The kind folks here at The Long and Short of It asked me for a guest blog. The topic? The top ten things people don’t know about me.

Now that’s a dangerous topic for a writer. Because I might tell you the truth and I might not. And who’s to say what the truth is?

In my life, I’ve been a detective—in 1990s Portland, Oregon, 1960s Memphis, and on the Moon. I’ve been a serial killer more than once. I’ve been a wreck diver—of lost spaceships, thank you very much. I’ve been a lawyer several times. I’ve conquered the world. I’ve built a multinational corporation, and I’ve been a rock star. I’ve been a prince, an evil stepmother, and many, many confused children.

You see, my characters are all me. Good and bad. Especially the bad. The bad scare me. I have no idea where that stuff comes from, and I really, really don’t want to examine it.

I write under a lot of different names—Kristine Grayson, Kris Nelscott, Kristine Dexter, Kris DeLake, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. I also write under some names I can’t (or won’t) confess to. And every character I make up—every single one—has a bit of me in it. Scary when it’s a serial killer. Rather cool when it’s the smartest woman on Earth.

So how do I do that? Honestly, I wish I knew. Some of it is pure imagination. Some of it comes from my reading. Some of it comes from my weird life experience.

Let’s go with the life experience first. I worked as the (world’s worst) secretary for a forensic psychologist. I met all kinds of deviants there—really. I gave a test to an illiterate guy accused (later convicted) of murder. We sat alone in a room, and he slipped out of his handcuffs so he could touch his pencil on two words he could read, “yes” and “no.” I debated whether or not to run screaming from the room, then decided the better part of valor was to do the test, and tell the guard that the guy could slip free.

I was a journalist so I interviewed everyone from famous actors to famous politicians to not-so-famous people caught up in events. Always, always I imagined what life had to be like for them, and often I asked just that question.

And I had a lot of trouble in my life—divorce, failed businesses—so I read a lot of imaginary worlds to keep my bad one at bay.

But most important for my romance writing career is this: I met my husband on a hot day in May in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We have been together ever since. Love at first sight—it exists, and I’ve experienced it. In fact, I’m still experiencing it.

I don’t know if that’s ten things. It might be more, it might be less, depending on how you count my imaginary life experience. But it’s all mine—and some of it is even more real than the things I actually did go through.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering: the Portland, Oregon detective appears in The Perfect Man, which I wrote under the name Kristine Dexter. The Memphis detective has an entire series (The Smokey Dalton series) that I write under the name Kris Nelscott. The detective on the Moon also has a series (The Retrieval Artist) and so does the wreck-diving woman (first book: Diving into the Wreck) written under my real name, Kristine Kathryn Rusch. (The Kathryn is there to honor my wonderful grandmother—another thing most people don’t know about me.) Under that name, I’ve conquered the world (The Fey Series), run a multinational corporation (Recovering Apollo 8), and been a rock star (The Death of Davy Moss). You’ll find a lot of confused children in Rusch stories as well.

The lawyers show up in all pen names, but the one you’ll get to know soon enough is Nora Barr, heroine of Utterly Charming, which Sourcebooks will reissue in October. She has her own Prince Charming—Sleeping Beauty’s. Believe me, all the princes charming are different. All have a bit of what would attract me which means that there’s probably more of my husband in them than he wants to admit.

Particularly in Charming in Wickedly Charming. Not that my husband is ever defeated, but he is charming, and he loves, loves, loves books, and he’s a fine writer.

So there you have it: My secret and not-so-secret identities. My real life and my imaginary life, which I often can’t tell apart. And all of the things I’ve made up, or at least, a few of them.

You can find out more about what I write on But if you only want to know about the Grayson books, check out

Because one more thing about me? I never realized that multiple identities meant multiple websites. I could spend all day updating and never ever do the writing at all any more. But I don’t.

Since writing is—and always will be—my first love.

Wait! Second love. Reading came first. Then reading led to writing, and writing led to my husband, and there it is: my life in a nutshell.

Thanks for asking.


He’s Given Up on Happily-Ever-After…
Cinderella’s Prince Charming is divorced and at a dead end. The new owner of a bookstore, Charming has given up on women, royalty, and anything that smacks of a future. That is until he meets up with Mellie…

But She Might Be the Key to Happily-Right-Now…
Mellie is sick and tired of stepmothers being misunderstood. Vampires have redeemed their reputation, why shouldn’t stepmothers do the same? Then she runs into the handsomest, most charming man she’s ever met and discovers she’s going about her mission all wrong…

It’s only natural that sparks fly and magic ensues when these two fairy tale refugees put their heads—and vulnerable hearts—together…

Before turning to romance writing, Kristine Grayson edited the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and ran Pulphouse Publishing (which won her a World Fantasy Award). She has won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and, under her real name, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, the prestigious Hugo award. She lives with her own Prince Charming, writer Dean Wesley Smith, in Portland, Oregon. Her next book from Sourcebooks Casablanca, Utterly Charming will be in stores in October 2011. For more information, please visit and

Monday, May 23, 2011


My latest release in print only is Moon of Ripening, a story of love that overcomes hardship and struggle, as well as racial barriers. Thunder Heart, a Lakota warrior, saves the lives of two white women during Red Cloud's war. In doing so, he endangers his people who could easily become the target of the soldiers or encounter the wrath of Red Cloud who considers all white people his enemy. Of course, in the end, love prevails, as it always does in a romance book, but it's the getting there that is the essence of the tale. I loved researching and writing this one in particular...but the next one will probably become my favorite, as each book emerges from the darkness and my sense of accomplishment grows. There will be four more books in the Lakota Moon series and I sincerely hope you enjoy them all.

When I began research for the Lakota Moon series I ran across a website that deals with donations for the people of Pine Ridge Reservation. Reading further, I discovered this place in the center of our country is one of the poorest places in the nation, and like a 3rd world country in some respects. It made me ashamed to be an American, for the first time in my life. I cannot imagine children who have no school supplies, people without winter coats, families who know hunger—not here in the USA.

I bookmarked the sites that pertained to this and kept up with the issues, eventually joining and contributing to their drives. Anyone who is interested in helping, may go to their site at:

While there have been innovations and changes recently that the Lakota have taken to improve their lives, such as small business development, there is a long road ahead and my hope is that others will see their efforts and be willing to assist.
The Lakota are a proud people and the only Native American Nation to withstand the onslaught of the pioneering whites. They drove the white man away, thanks to Red Cloud and Crazy Horse's leadership, and until the 'goons' in Washington broke the treaties and sent troupes in, they remained free on their lands.

My social conscience was stricken heavily by the horrible conditions these people live with and it boggles the brain to think of the money spent on foreign wars when we have so much need right here.

When you read my books—and I wish you will—you will hopefully glimpse the true people of the Nations. They are a treasure trove of wisdom and knowledge we've only begun to tap.

Diane Davis White
From the Heartland

I have a passion for writing, a love for history and an obsession with genealogy.

I grew up in Southern California, but now reside in the wide open spaces of the North Central Plains.

I love taking pictures of storms, sunsets, sunrises, trees and cloud formations.
They inspire me when I write, which I do mostly for the pleasure of it.

When someone tells me they like my stories, I am overjoyed!

My genres include Western Historical, Regency, occasionally contemporary romance, and a bit of whimsical fantasy.

You may contact me at

Friday, May 20, 2011


The second book in my Native American paranormal historical trilogy is Spirit of the Lake. This book as with the first one, Spirit of the Mountain, is set among the Nez Perce band famous for their leader Chief Joseph and who summered in Wallowa County where I grew up. The trilogy is set among the same band of Nez Perce or Nimiipuu as they call themselves with sibling spirits as main characters in each book.

In Spirit of the Lake, the heroine is pregnant. Learning all I could about Nez Perce customs and social living aspects centered around pregnancy and child birth back then took hours of reading books on the Nez Perce and gleaning the tidbits I found stuck in here and there. And emailing my Nez Perce contact with questions I couldn’t find in the books.

Pregnant women still did most of the chores right up until the moment they started labor. Some would have miscarriages from long periods of riding horses in the last months of pregnancy. This usually occurred during campaigns of fighting when the women and children were kept moving to stay ahead of the enemies attacking them.

If a woman was pregnant they believed her man would have bad luck hunting. She was also not allowed to see any part of a kill—blood, skinning. They feared if a pregnant woman saw this her child would be born deformed. They also didn't touch, view, or ridicule any deformed animals or humans, fearing it would cause their child the same misfortune. They didn't tie knots or do things symbolic of obstructing the birth.

A wide strip of buckskin was tied around their bellies. This was believed to protect the child. After the birth, this strip was burned or buried, giving the child a healthy, strong body. They did everything to keep the baby safe. The Nez Perce wanted to build a large, strong tribe.

This is just a miniscule picture of what I've learned and incorporated into Spirit of the Lake.

Blurb for Spirit of the Lake:

Two generations after his brother became mortal, Wewukiye, the lake spirit, prevents a Nimiipuu maiden from drowning and becomes caught up in her sorrow and her heart. Her tribe ignores Dove's shameful accusations—a White man took her body, leaving her pregnant, and he plans to take their land.Wewukiye vows to care for her until she gives birth, to help her prove the White man is deceitful and restore her place in her tribe.

As they travel on their quest for justice, Dove reveals spiritual abilities yet unknown in her people, ensnaring Wewukiye’s respect and awe. But can love between a mortal and a spirit grow without consequences?


Wewukiye tugged her hand, drawing her closer. His warm breath puffed against her ear.

"You need only think of me and you will have strength."

His soft silky voice floated through her body like a hot drink.

Dove swallowed the lump in her throat and asked, "When will I see you again?" The thought of sleeping on the hard ground next to the fire in Crazy One's dwelling didn't sound near as inviting as using his lap to rest her head.

The days and nights grew colder; to be wrapped in his arms would warm her through and through.

"You will find me at the meadow every day when the sun is directly overhead." He brushed his lips against her ear.

She closed her eyes, relishing the silky feel of his lips and the heat of his touch.

"Think of me," whispered through her head.

Dove opened her eyes. She stood alone. Her palm still warm from their clasped hands, her ear ringing with his whisper.

You can find it in print and ebook at The Wild Rose Press or at Amazon and Kindle.

This post is part of my blog tour. Leave a comment on as many of my guest blogs at you can and the person who travels with me the most will receive an autographed copy of Spirit of the Lake, a sweatshirt, and cowboy chocolate. To find all the places I’m visiting go to my blog: The contest runs from May 18th – May 29th covering thirteen blogs. I'll notify the winner on May 30th. In the event of a tie I will draw a name.

To read more about the spirit trilogy or my other books visit my website:

Judy and Marianne, thank you for having me here today.


Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently farm 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

Paty is a member of RWA, EPIC, and COWG. Wild Rose Press has published nine of her books. Perfectly Good Nanny, won the 2008 EPPIE for Best Contemporary Romance. She edited for an e-publisher for four and a half years and teaches workshops at conferences, writers meetings, and online.

You can learn more about her at her blog; her website; or on Facebook;!/paty.jager.

Sources: Nez Perce Women in Transition, 1877-1990- Caroline James; NeeMePoo – Allen P. Slickpoo Sr. and Deward E. Walker Jr.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


All commenters on this guest blog are entered into a drawing for one of two copies of The Legend of Michael; US and Canadian addresses only please. Make sure you include your email address either in your comment or your public profile.

Ten things people don’t know about me:

1. I have two grown sons. Matthew who is about to be 27 and Ronald who just turned 22. I had them both very young, and people just can’t believe I have grown kids.

2. When I was 28, my staffing agency I owed was listed on the Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of Top Growing Women-Owned Businesses at spot #7.

3. I did quite a lot of independent film. That was where my creative gene first took root, but with kids, pursuing that was difficult and I put it aside. Later, writing was where I found that creative outlet I had so desperately yearned for.

4. I’m allergic to fish. I never liked it anyway, but allergic, as in ER if I eat it.

5. My fiancé is 9 years younger than me. He didn’t tell me his age at first. He knew me even then – and I would have run for the hills. Looking back I remember how he dodged the question. We’ve been together 7 years.

6. We met in a bookstore. He loves books as much as I do. Barnes & Noble and Starbucks – we knew we were in love.

7. We hope to get married in Italy next year. That’s our dream!

8. I think most people that know me already know but…I could eat BAGS of chocolate in one sitting. BAGS. I’d regret it. I’d be sick. But I could easily do it.

9. I was born in Springfield, Illinois, moved to Texas when I was 3. Though most of my life has been in Texas I have lived in North Carolina, New York, and now Colorado. I’m looking forward to the RT Booklover’s Convention next year in Chicago to see my family.

10. I write paranormal but didn’t even think I LIKED vampires and paranormal stuff until I met my fiancé, who drug me to the dark side and showed me a world I had been missing.

Thank you for having me on the LAS blog today! To find out more about my latest book, The Legend of Michael, a futuristic romantic suspense, please visit: My website also has links to my Facebook pages link where I often post pictures and other fun stuff. I keep a list of tour and release information updated on my site as well. I am also on Twitter, @Lisareneejones.


He’s a Lethal Weapon…
One of an army of human soldiers injected with alien DNA, Michael is a legend within this new race, split between good and evil. Untamable, he has walked on the dark side and returned to the light. Feared and misunderstood, he leaves everything behind, including the one woman destined to be his mate.

He is her Enemy… And her Destiny…
Cassandra holds the key to Michael’s power, and his pain. With loyalties divided and against insurmountable odds, Cassandra’s heart propels her to Michael’s side—but can her love do anything but destroy him…

No ordinary woman can control a creature such as Michael, and only one thing is clear—the world will never be the same…

Award winning author Lisa Renee Jones has published more than fifteen novels in several different languages, spanning multiple genres of romance: contemporary, romantic suspense, dark paranormal and erotic fiction. Her awards include first place in the Romantic Times Aspiring Writers Contest. She currently lives in Colorado Springs, CO, where she is working on her next Zodius novel, The Storm that is Sterling, to be released in November 2011. For more information, please visit and

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Why I Use a Pen Name

When my book, Disturb the Universe, was released by Secret Cravings Romance on March 28th this year, the few people who knew I had written it asked why I had used a pen name. There are no scandalous secrets divulged, no embarrassing vulgarity, and certainly nothing libelous—I could have proudly used my name.

However, like almost everything I write, the book is based on real life experiences and there is every chance that a coincidental similarity may make a friend or relative uncomfortable. I’m southern to the core and have the deepest respect for privacy and dignity. I am offended by the ‘tell–all’ books written by the famous or notorious, where personal moments are splayed across the page to embarrass, sully, and disrupt.

My heritage is rich with scandalous relatives who married second cousins, bred with in-laws, flaunted unsavory cravings, lusted unsuitably, and lived licentiously. Whether drunk, insane, addicted, psychotic, or simply narcissistic, these warped characters are the compelling element of any story, the ones who simultaneously fascinate and repel.

My grandmother had eight brothers, none of whom ever held a steady job for more than six months at a stretch—yet all of whom lived like southern aristocracy. They gambled, ‘escorted’ ladies, married money, sponged off relatives, cheated creditors, and charmed their way through interesting lives. They were tall, well-spoken, handsome, irresistible rascals and cads in whose lives hundreds of good stories are to be found.

I am proud of the legions of decent, godly, productive ancestors who fashioned commendable lives going back to colonial days. But, I don’t really want to write about them—if I did, I would probably use my real name—or maybe not. Anonymity frees the writer from caution and enables one to write broadly and without restraint.

I grew up in south Georgia and lived in Atlanta and other cities, among the steel and stone towers of the financial world, where the thrill of the business deal was all important. Home is now with my husband on the Georgia coast. I love the sea air, view of the marsh, and constant warmth. My stories are about people I knew as a child—sometimes scandalous, always entertaining, tales of numerous errant relatives who passed before me. Abby Morris is my pen name. I hope the reader sees the ‘real’ me in the words I write.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


It is very exciting to be invited back to here for a visit with y’all. Excitement is still in the air over the debut book in my brand new western romance series, Spikes and Spurs. Love Drunk Cowboy, the first book in what has grown into a seven book series, hit the ground running a couple of weeks ago. It’s like we’ve been on a galloping horse going from one place to the next telling folks all about it! And we’re so glad for the opportunity to make a stop here to talk about the series.

Love Drunk Cowboy is what happens when a corporate executive climbing the success ladder at a break neck speed in power suits and high heel shoes inherits a watermelon farm in the tiny dusty town of Terral, Oklahoma, located right on the Red River. All Austin Lanier wanted to do was settle her Granny’s affairs, sell the watermelon farm and get back to her big city lifestyle. Until she found the watermelon wine and Rye O’Donnell!

Rye O’Donnell didn’t believe in that love at first sight hocus-pocus until he laid eyes on Austin. He gets bit by a massive dose of love drunk so bad that he doesn’t know straight up from backwards but she’s a city girl. She’d never fall for a rough rancher in scuffed up boots and a dusty old cowboy hat.

Austin didn’t count on Rye O’Donnell being so damn sexy and she sure didn’t count of him living right across the road. But his boots have spurs and hers have stilettos: can two people from two totally different worlds make it work?

Looking at the finished product in black and white, with that gorgeous cover, it’s difficult to believe there are moments when I’m writing that there could be hard parts in the job. Once it’s all finished and in print, it looks so easy.

But, alas, every book has those teenage moments when an author thinks it will never get finished (much like raising a teenage daughter). There are those days when everything flowed from brain to computer screen like satin sheets and then there were those days that felt like I was kicking dust with my cowboy boots and watching it settle without getting a thing done. I thought we’d talk a little about both today: the easy part of writing and the hard part. Writing is as different for each author as parenting skills but for me the hardest parts of writing are:

MONDAY MORNING! I write approximately five thousand words a day, five days a week. If all goes well that means Saturday and Sunday I spend time in my flower garden or with my family. Oh and there is those things called grocery shopping, killing dust bunnies from under the bed, etc. But come Monday morning, I’m out of sync. My brain is slow. Coffee doesn’t revive me. Where are these characters that I loved so much last Friday when I left them out on a shaky limb with a tornado on the horizon? Yep, I’d have to say Monday morning is a difficult part in the process of writing.

MIDDLE SLUMP! My reader has forsaken her favorite television show; she’s gagged the dust bunnies in her house; she’s even made her husband eat take-out for supper while she reads Love Drunk Cowboy. If she gets to the middle and suddenly it begins to slump I have a terrible fear that she’ll throw the book at the wall. Oh, no! Can’t disappoint my readers…so I have to build up to a big moment right in the middle (remember that shaky limb with a big tornado approaching) that tells her that the story isn’t going to let her down and I’m going to keep her on her toes to the end.

DISCIPLINE! And last there’s the discipline to keep my fanny in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. No matter how fantastic a book is in my head, my readers can never see the words unless I put them on paper. So that trip to the mall with my granddaughters has to be planned for Saturday, not Monday, even though my brain is slow on Monday morning!

But on the flip side there is the easy part of writing. My grandmother said that success is doing what you like. With that in mind I’m the most successful woman in the whole world because I love what I do from beginning idea even through the rewriting and rereading processes, I love it all.

I love it when an idea pops into my head like Austin in her high heeled shoes on the banks of the Red River and her intrigue when she finds Granny’s watermelon cellar. And the look on her face when she finds out Rye O’Donnell is not a seventy year old rancher in bibbed overalls, but a sexier-than-hell cowboy that takes her breath away.

Writing is easy when the whole book unfolds; somewhat like watching a Techni-color movie on the big screen. Right there it is, every scene in living color, every emotion written on the characters faces. I can smell the dust boiling up on the dirt road just like Austin can, can taste that first ripe watermelon like Rye does, can feel the sticky sweet juice between my fingers as Austin squeezes the best of the crop into juice for wine. Seeing it all so clearly makes the writing the story the easy part of an author’s job. It’s there, just waiting for the words to describe the scenes for my readers. And words, for a writer, are the easy part of writing. They are hanging in the air ready to be lassoed and put on the page.

If I put the hard parts and the easy parts of an author’s job on a balance scale, the easy part would outweigh the difficult parts, hands down, no contest!

I’ll be here all day. Talk to me! Ask questions. Make comments! Tell me what you think would be hardest and easiest parts to writing a cowboy romance.


She’s a Self-Made City Girl…

High-powered career woman Austin Lanier suddenly finds herself saddled with an inherited watermelon farm deep in the countryside. She’s determined to sell the farm, until her new, drop-dead sexy neighbor Rye O’Donnell shows up…

He’s as Intoxicating as Can Be…

Rancher Rye O’Donnell thinks he’s going to get a good deal on his dream property—until he meets the fiery new owner. Rye is knocked sideways when he realizes that not only is Granny Lanier’s city-slicker granddaughter a savvy businesswoman, she’s also sexy as hell…

Suddenly Rye is a whole lost less interested in real estate and a whole lot more focused on getting Austin to set aside her stiletto heels…

Carolyn Brown is an award-winning author who has published 36 bestselling romances for the library market. She now writes bestselling single title cowboy and country music mass market romances. Born in Texas and raised in southern Oklahoma, Carolyn and her husband now make their home in the town of Davis, Oklahoma. Carolyn’s next book, Red’s Hot Cowboy will be in stores in August 2011, followed by Darn Good Cowboy Christmas in October 2011. For more information, please visit and


Monday, May 16, 2011


Creating A Paranormal Realm
By Karen Michelle Nutt

Paranormal tales touch on themes ranging from horror, fantasy and science fiction, while keeping a darker gothic feel to the story. The characters may range from human to vampires, ghosts, werewolves, shifters, witches, demons and fallen angels. Even time travel, ghosts and aliens may fall under this genre. A paranormal tale is stepping into another world to enjoy the magic of legends—new and old.

If you’re creating a world from scratch, you’ll need rules for your preternatural beings to follow. Start by researching legends, folklores and mythologies, to help inspire your muse. For your paranormal world to work you’ll want to create a convincing mythology to go with it. You may take an old mythology and expand upon it or you may want to rewrite your own and only touch on some of the traditional lore. Either way is fine.

It’s a great idea to keep a journal of the world you created. This is especially helpful if you’re going to write a series. The rules in your world must be followed. You don’t have state all the rules on page one of your story. You can pace and reveal throughout the tale. The important thing is to be consistent.

Here are some examples to keep in mind for your character building:

Where did they come from?
Do they have powers?
Are they soul survivors of a species?
How have they learned to live among the humans?
What laws do they have?
Do they have an enemy that could destroy them?

Again, consistency is crucial. Establish the rules and stick with them. Building your paranormal world is the fun part. Keep it fresh and reveal your secrets gradually. It’ll give your characters a chance to grow and it will give the readers a reason to keep reading.

In my fallen angels series, the Fallen are the Nephilim, the offspring of the angels who came down to earth to observe humans. These angels, who came down to earth, were known as the Watchers or the Grigori. They broke the rules and taught humans their secrets. They took human women for their own and children were born from this union. For these transgressions, they were banished from heaven.

The Nephilim do not want to offend God further and have continued to watch the humans and record history. They can shift at will into their angelic side with wings and all, but on the human realm, they must blend in and take on their human form. They can interact with humans without interfering with their destinies. They are not allowed to have relationships with humans on any intimate level.

In the first book, Eli: Warriors for the Light, Eli breaks the rules and not only reveals his true self to a woman, he has fallen in love with her
Eli is to be sentenced for his crime, but he argues against the Elders of the Grigori that his love is true, that he’s found his soul mate. Since the Grigori believe they are soulless, they are intrigued by Eli’s claim. With Eli’s bold move, he’s opened up the possibility that the Nephilim are not the soulless creatures they once believed.

In Book Two: Lucca: Warriors for the Light, Lucca Marlowe has a dark past that threatens to destroy him. He’s banished for crimes against one of his fellow brethren. The elders bind his glamour and wings, casting him to the human realm. He’ll either learn to respect and embrace his human side or live out eternity trying.

Lucca does not live a mundane life. Angels and demons demand he do their bidding. His estranged father resurfaces after centuries of being absent and he’s brought a friend from Hell.

To make his life more complicated, he fears he found his soul mate in a human female. Only Juliet Romeo has a secret that will bring the wrath of Heaven down upon both their heads.

It’s a race against time to find out who will end up with his soul.

If you’re interested in finding out more about my otherworldly tales, please visit my website at:

For interviews, contests and all things book related, please come by my blog on Mondays for new updates.

I also frequent Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Thank you, Long and Short Reviews, for having me here today!

Karen Michelle Nutt is the author of paranormal romances, writing for Tease Publishing LLC, The Wild Rose Press, Highland Press, Victory Tales Press and RJV Publishing.

Time Travels have been her passion. She's always been intrigued with the possibility of being able to reach back in time and change the past. Common sense says influencing the past isn’t impossible, but she can’t help but wonder: What if she can?

Fallen Angels, vampires and shape shifters embrace her darker side where their worlds intertwine with ours.

She shares her life with a wonderful man, three lovely children and house full of pets. In her spare time, she reviews for Paranormal Reviews, a great place to find paranormal books and other genres. Her new passion is the wonders of Photoshop. Her header for her website and blog were her first projects. She's since created book covers for Victory Tales Press and Western Trail Blazers.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Historical Facts… A Balancing Act

As an avid reader of historical romance, the experience I crave when opening a new book is for the author to sweep me away into a bygone world. I long to see the horse drawn carriages rattling down a dusty road… hear the rustle of heavy petticoats… and be immersed in the life, emotions and trials of the characters within that time. As a historical romance author I strive to create that same effect for my readers. In short I want to sweep my readers away…

That being my goal, it goes without saying that I was thrilled after receiving this review for my debut novel Without Regret, My Love:

Jilted by her fiancé, Marissa is done with men until fate steps in and she finds that Craig Langston may be more man than she can resist.

Marissa is a high energy independent career woman of the 21st century who finds herself on a collision course with destiny when she is thrown 144 years into the past. Confederate Officer Dr. Craig Langston is an enticing man that any woman would long to fall in love with, and now Marissa is torn between rampant desire, for the man ignites her very soul, and a longing to return home.

Can she find it within herself to embrace a new life in the arms of her Confederate officer or will more sinister forces intervene before she can discover what may be the greatest love of all time?

—I was seriously impressed by Ms. Blue's ability to sweep me into the past with Marissa. All her angst, anxiety, and heart kept me rooting for her and Craig from page one. A beautiful story of love, hope, faith and knowing of the heart and certainly one that deserves a 'You Gotta Read". - Reviewed By: Brynna Curry,

One of the most difficult hurdles for historical authors is how to create this effect with every novel! A question that I have been asked (and asked myself) numerous times is—

“How much historical fact and detail is needed when the primary focus of a romance novel is the unfolding relationship between hero and heroine?”

Well, here are a few thoughts and techniques I have accumulated on the subject:

• In the romance genre, absolute historical accuracy is not a must because the love story and developing character relationship is core to the story (or so I’ve been told). However, inaccuracies can turn a reader off very quickly no matter how a plot cooks. On the same note bogging a reader in a historical monologue can have the same effect. The key to creating a vivid world without hindering the love story is… balance.

• Finding said balance can be tricky and the method I use goes something like this.

o Research the time period, country, politics, stigmas and lifestyle of your novel from who the president (or prime minister) is to what people commonly ate for breakfast or did for fun. This allows you to develop a true understanding of what your characters may experience, do, or feel! This in turn tunes you into what your characters will say or do in response to events within the story and place them in situations appropriate to the time. This allows for historical accuracy without a wealth of factual detail.

o Character dialogue is a great way to insert small historical facts. For example referring to Napoleon Bonaparte as “The French Menace” in a Regency England era novel. This is simple and fills out the historical costume of your story.

o Putting your characters in the midst of a historical event such as the bombing of Charleston, SC during the American Civil War can be a useful tool in not only adding to the effect of historical accuracy but in creating conflict for your story.
Now I turn the floor over to you! What keynotes and thoughts do you have for creating an accurate historical romance novel?

Thanks so much to LASR for having me to guest blog today. As always it is a pleasure!

Now Enjoy this excerpt from Without Regret, My Love.

Happy Reading,


They stood so close she could feel the heat resonating from his body, and tingles danced across her skin as he kissed the delicate skin at the corner of her mouth. Her lips felt warm, ready. “It’s true,” she whispered, closing her eyes as he kissed the other corner of her mouth. “There are times when I feel completely overwhelmed by life. I need a place like this.” She tilted her neck as he pressed his lips down the gentle slope of her throat. His fingers lightly ran up and down her spine until she shivered. “Thank you for sharing your special place with me.”
Lifting her into his arms, Craig gazed into the ebony pools of her eyes. “There is so much more I want to share with you,” he said. “You feel so good in my arms. No, you feel...perfect.”

To his delight, she breathed, “Kiss me,” and twined her fingers through his hair.
He did, keeping his touch soft, tender, inviting.

He felt her tremble.

Cradling her against him, he settled her back into the soft bed of tall grass, pressing his mouth more insistently against hers. Her lips were made of the most pliable velvet, and he drank in the sweetness of them. Her hair was smoother than silk and it tickled his face. Her skin was pale like fresh cream and he caressed it. Her eyes, oh those eyes, like warm liquid pools of the nighttime sky, they could pull him into oblivion if he wasn’t careful. He didn’t want to be careful. He just wanted Marissa…

Feel free visit me at I love to hear from readers and other authors. To learn more about Without Regret, My Love from Champagne books visit my website or

A registered nurse by night, Melissa battles the stresses of life and illness by enjoying uplifting tales of love and romance. A firm believer in true love united with an enduring fascination with history has prompted her pursuit of romance writing. She lives in beautiful Big Sky Country Montana with her husband and children.

Amazon Kindle:



Wednesday, May 11, 2011


It isn’t everyday that an author gets the notoriety of being a finalist in a big contest.  That’s just was Intimate Flames, my contemporary romance, did at the 2011 EPIC Awards.  It wasn’t the winner (congrats go to Meg Benjamin and Samhain Publishing, Ltd for that one)  but to have a work make it as far as Intimate Flames did gave me hope that someday my work would be recognized.  

That’s why we authors do what we do, I suppose--to get a message out to readers and to be able to say, “I wrote that.”  So, as I craft my next work and as I wait for an answer on my latest submission, I write.

I also run a blog.  At Fifty Authors from Fifty States, each week, you’ll find a variety of writing professionals giving a glimpse of their work your way.  Their talent is coupled with a look into where they live which makes my blog unique.  Some of the participants are offering contests so it’s an easy way to score some free loot if you just click on over—don’t forget the contest I’m also offering on the blog itself.  You’ll find that in the top bar. 

Running a blog takes a lot of time, so does my writing career with fashioning my next character, promoting, and editing-all that stuff that keeps my work in print.  I’ve also got a real job that I love and a family who has to do laundry and cook because I’m working on my next project.  I couldn’t do any of it without their cooperation—all those control freak juggling balls thrown up into the air as the saying goes.  I’m fortunate that they help so I can do things I love. 

And here’s a blurb from Intimate Flames:

Bradie Carpenter holds only memories of love lost. Armed with determination after Grant’s tragic death, Bradie ventures forward with their son. Without the exclusive Blain family name or the advantage of the family fortune and, diligent to overcome the obstacles of single parenthood, she sets a goal of a better life in the picturesque town of Union.

Andrew “Amen” Packard married too young with an unrealistic view of the future. After a turbulent divorce attributed to pressure from his firefighter career, Amen chooses his heated profession over affection for wife, family and friends.  Not until he meets Bradie does he rethink his decision to exclude love from his life.
Can Bradie discover that money doesn’t always extinguish love?

Will Amen allow a ready-made family near enough to bash towering walls of seclusion?
Is friendship and attraction enough to heal the lives of two souls charred from fate? 

Drive Thru is the second in my contemporary series involving the Packard family and there’s more to come. 

Currently, I’m working on a new-to-me genre.  I’m not even sure what to call this particular piece yet but I dreamt this story and it’s the first thing I ever wrote.  I’m revisiting the plot to integrate everything I’ve learned since I’ve been published. The idea is cool.  Two guys from a clandestine little village hidden from a city of corruption on a scouting mission find an injured woman and feel the need to help her.  The trouble is, she isn’t from their village and it’s forbidden to bring outsiders in.  
Post apocalyptic, fantasy, romance…who knows where it’ll end but it’s a trilogy. 

You can find out all about me and my work by clicking to my website or by visiting my publisher   My bio is listed at my website as is a current list of my works, events and just about everywhere you can pick up something I’ve written. 

A great big thanks to LASR for letting me post today.  LASR and Goddess Fish Promotions do such an amazing job promoting authors that the work from the collaborative effort of Marianne and Judy, and all those involved with these sites, needs to be mentioned.  Some great opportunities are available and worth looking into.  All you have to do is browse their sites.