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Saturday, April 30, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: MINGMEI YIP

Song of the Silk Road

The Chinese have many expressions about Spring. My favorite is “Crabapple sleeping in Spring” In fact, it has nothing to do with fruits, or flowers, but women.

The phrase means a beautiful woman sleeping seductively. And it’s Spring that makes all the difference, because, for the Chinese, Spring is the season for lust, for the stirring of love. A lot of Chinese women, especially courtesans in ancient China, feign sleep to seduce, as portrayed in my first novel Peach Blossom Pavilion, the story of the last Chinese geisha. Poets described geisha’s provocative posture as “crabapple sleeping in Spring.”
We love Spring because it is the season when we feel we can fall in love all over again.

In my new novel Song of the Silk Road, set not in ancient but in contemporary China, Lily Lin and Alex Luce met while traveling the Silk Road in Spring. Unlike the courtesans in old China, Lily did not feign sleep to seduce Alex. It happened by accident, when he spied her bathing nearly nude in the therapeutic hot spring at the site of the old imperial palace. Thinking she was safe from any prying eyes, Lily recreated the famous Concubine Yang’s seductive poses when she seduced the emperor a thousand years ago as they frolicking in the imperial bath. It was when Lily was raising her leg, twisting her waist, arching her back and imaging what it would be like to seduce an emperor that Alex happened passing by the pool and saw her half naked body.

Smitten by Lily, Alex traveled after her along the Silk Road, despite her attempts to evade him, fearing that he would find out about her huge inheritance of three million dollars. Lily had come to the Silk Road to carry out tasks that were specified for her to gain the inheritance. She had not even known her aunt existed until a few weeks earlier when she unexpectedly received a letter from a law firm announcing that the money was hers – but only if she traveled to China and retraced the same routes the aunt had taken, meeting the same people, and doing the same things her aunt had done. Then she would be a rich woman – if she survived.  

If you want to know whether Lily survived her harsh journey, got the huge interitance and what happened with her young lover, the answer is in Song of the Silk Road!

Here’s what Publisher’s Weekly had to say: “Yip's lively new novel manages to be at once modern and traditionalSurprising and often funny. Yip's (Peach Blossom Pavilion) modern heroine's quest is filled with unique companions, unforeseen dangers, unexpected joys, and bitter sorrows. Part epic, part coming-of-age story, part modern fairy tale

Mingmei’s new novel is Song of the Silk Road, (Kensington, April 2011). Her debut novel Peach Blossom Pavilion (Kensington, 2008), story of the last musician courtesan of China, has received numerous favorable reviews and is now in its fifth printing.

Her second novel is Petals from the Sky, (Kensington, 2010) a Buddhist love story, which Booklist describes as “a serious, engaging story of faith, devotion, and the commingling of cultures.”

Mingmei’s other work in English is Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories (Tuttle), of which she both wrote and illustrated. She is now working on her second children’s book.

In Hong Kong, Mingmei was a columnist for seven major newspapers. She has appeared on over sixty TV and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the US.

Visit Mingmei at:  http://www.mingmeiyip.com/










Friday, April 29, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: NATASHA DEEN

Spring Fancies

In spring, a young man’s fancy may turn to love, but mine turns to thawing dog poop.

Seriously.

I live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, home of the -45 winter days (plus -15 wind chills), and even in the cold weather, our furry ones need to be walked. Once spring comes, and the snow starts to melt, all that frozen poop from the parks start to thaw.  I love my boys, but those first few weeks, the slush, mud, and stinkiness is overwhelming.  They, on the other hand, love the smells.

And it always makes me wonder about the difference between the human and canine nose. What is it they smell in the earth and moss that I don’t?  Could thawing coyote feces be the equivalent of a fine wine or hold all the intoxicating aromas of a finely stewed gumbo?

I don’t know, but it catches my imagination, and their excitement is hard to resist.  Spring is exciting—from the first blade of grass poking through the dirt or the red tulips vying for sun amidst the melting snow, it’s hard not to get drunk on the warming sun, the sweet aroma carried on the wind.  And that blue sky.  If it wasn’t for all the work waiting for me at home, I’d be happy to just walk in the River Valley with the guys, waiting for the leaves to bloom and drowning in the bright blue heavens.

I guess, in retrospect, in spring my fancy does turn to love. Spring love. The joy of the first time I get to wear open-toed shoes, or pulling out my flirty dresses from the closet and setting aside the winter coats for next year.  And if I was truly honest, I suppose I’d admit to being just as excited as the boys at the smell of thawing doggy poop because it says that spring’s in the air and summer’s not far behind.

When I was little, there was only one thing I wanted to be: a superhero.  But there came a day when my dreams were broken, and that was the day I realized that being a klutz was not, in fact, a super power, and my super weakness for anything bright and shiny meant a magpie with self-control could easily defeat me in a battle of wills.  I turned to writing as a way to sharpen my mental super-hero skills. I don’t get to orbit the earth in a space station (and thank God, because I get sick on merry go round), but I do get to say things like: “Stand aside! This is a job for Writing Girl


Thursday, April 28, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: ANNA SMALL

Spring Is Here


Spring has always been my favorite season, especially since living in Florida for the last fifteen years. It's the end of the mild winter, whose only noticeable presence is a few weeks of sweater weather and the annoying hindrance of not being able to swim in the pool. It's also the end of the dry, dead-looking grass and trees in my yard. With the coming spring, bright green leaf buds sprout all over the trees, making my daily commute a little brighter. Wildflowers spread across the woods behind my house, and I've been hearing different song birds in the mornings. Spring means turning off the heat (yes, even in Florida, we occasionally have to switch off the a/c!) and throwing open the windows to let in some warm, pollen-filled air. It's the time of my little boy's birthday party, which is always around Memorial Day, which is the first party of the year that we throw. I love that first party, because it's only the beginning of all the wonderful spring and summer bbq's to come.

I like giving the house a good "spring cleaning" and it's also time to rearrange my desk and office. Get rid of the kids' toys and shoes under my desk - check. Empty the wastebaskets and sort my files - check. Take a fresh look at all the goals I tried to reach before the New Year, and reclassify them. Make the NY Times' Bestseller list? Hmm - better put that one at the bottom, and move "finish next work in progress" to the top. I'll scour the Romance Writer's Report for upcoming online workshops and classes and decide which ones I'd like to try. Or maybe this year will be my turn to give a class.

Historically, spring is a time of rebirth. New ideas, new life. It's celebrated in various ways around the world, and usually features lots of candy and ham dinners in my house. It signals a fresh start where we can thaw the cold of winter and look forward to the long, lazy days of summer that lie ahead. Time to read all the books we didn't get around to in the winter; time to write the books we love.

Anna Small wrote her first romance novel when she was 16. Her mother's only request was that it not contain any love scenes. Anna was sorry to disappoint her.

Several books and years later, Anna still enjoys writing steamy, emotionally charged romances in both contemporary and historical settings. When not writing, she likes to travel and spend time with her family and friends.

Anna grew up in California and England and now resides on Florida's Gulf Coast with her husband, Walter, and their two children. Sharing in the fun is a pair of fat cats who enjoy sleeping on her manuscripts and two Labs, who have literally eaten the house.

Anna is always happy to chat with readers. Find contact info and novel excerpts at her website, http://www.annasmallbooks.com/.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: KIMBERLEY TROUTTE

The Crowd Went Wild
By Kimberley Troutte

Ah, Spring.

Chlorine is in the air, my butt is stuck in a folding chair and my voice is hoarse from cheering.  I am a swim team mom.  You’ll find me on the pool deck in the afternoons rooting for the high school team.

The swimmers are amazing kids, all of them, but one is special. If you were to meet him, you’d see right away that there’s something different about Mikey.  In a booming voice, he’ll ask you the same question over and over no matter how many times you answer it. He twists his fingers in interesting ways and occasionally will flap his arms. He doesn’t understand personal space and might rip your hat off your head to make sure there’s hair underneath. Mikey is autistic.

Watching Mikey swim is an adventure. I wouldn’t compare him to a dolphin or a fish of any kind. He doesn’t glide through the water, he attacks it. Sometimes, during a race he gets confused and slows until the crowd yells, “Go! Go! Mikey, don’t stop!”

Last week, Mikey competed in a long distance freestyle swim. He was a lawn mower in the pool. It wasn’t pretty, but man, was he fast! After twenty grueling laps, his fingers touched the wall first and the crowd roared.

When Mikey realized what he had done, he lifted his arms out of the water and yelled, “I’m a winner! I’m a winner!”

My heart melted. How many times had he said that in his lifetime? How many times had it been true?

It made me think. We all want to win races of one sort or another. (Bestseller’s list anyone?)  But we also carry around heavy fears and massive doubts that sink us. It’s hard to swim with anchors tied around your waist. Mikey taught me to leave my fears on the blocks and dive in with everything I’ve got.

That’s the way to live. That’s the way to swim.

Kimberley Troutte (pronounced like the fish) lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, one dog, and three very large snakes. She has been a substitute teacher, caterer, financial analyst for a major defense contractor, real-estate broker, aerobics instructor, freelance writer and caregiver to creatures the kids/hubby/dog drag in.

She is the author of Catch Me in Castile and Soul Stealer (Samhain Publishing).



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: LINDA NIGHTINGALE


Spring is when I make my New Year resolutions.  Like spring cleaning, I try to abandon those practices or thoughts that have not worked.  This philosophy usually lasts as long as the spring cleaning.  But a friend of mine once told me that she would think about doing something then do the opposite of what she would have done in the past.  I’ve tried this but it really doesn’t work for me.  I guess I’m too cautious.  This spring I’ve resolved to get out more, not stay stuck to the computer writing.  I know I’ll break that resolution but it was a good thought.  I’ve also decided to exercise more.  Yeah right.


One of my favorite things about spring is daffodils.  I’m not a gardener like my friend and author Beth Trissel (Heavens no! In no time, I can make a fossil of any living plant), but I love the flowers.  Our car club hosts a bluebonnet drive each year into the Hill Country.  The fields look like seas of blue.

And my thoughts do turn to love.  Two new characters are whispering in my ear to write their story.  I don’t have a plot yet or any idea where to go with it, but I’m very intrigued by their love affair.  I’m not sure I can get away with it because the story parallels the Edward VIII/Wallis Simpson match.  This would be my first venture outside the paranormal.

Normally, I write about vampires, demons, fallen angels or I have been working on a story about centaurs.    Black Swan from The Wild Rose Press introduces my vampire characters and the mythos of their world.  When it was released, the story was Best of Week here at LASR.  I doubt that spring would be ideal for vampires, due to the longer days.  My vampires are light sensitive, but they are viral mutations not the Undead.

Please visit my web site for a free read, a vampire story called Vampyre Hunt.  http://www.lindanightingale.com.   Black Swan available at The Wild Rose Press.

Obviously, Spring is when I ramble.  Enjoy your Spring and Summer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: RENEE WILDES

Spring – A Time of Hope and Renewal


Hearing the honking of returning geese for the first time is the first sign of spring for me. Today’s my birthday, and for the first time right on top of Easter. What’s up w/that?

Family time with baseball starting up, figure skating winding down and the landscape changing from white to green. Kids play Frisbee while they dream of water parks. Also a time of hair – with 2 horses and a chow shedding out. Every bird within miles has a fiesta getting fluff to line their nests. Glad someone can use it! Abby saw her first squirrel, and her first bunny. Birds are moving into the trees by our house.

Soon our next door neighbor will be readying her plot for the new garden. We’re still trying to decide if our baby pine tree survived the winter indoors.

With everything coming out of hibernation and returning from their wintering grounds, it’s like the whole northern landscape comes to life. Still the risk of one last snowstorm, but the air is full of hope and promise. I hate the winter cold, driving on ice, not being able to see my horses. It’s amazing when “spring ahead” kicks in and I can still see the sun when I get out of work at 7 PM. Definite mood elevator.

Springtime for me means horse time – always astounds me they remember me. I’ve always had horses, and they are an integral part of my life and my books. Funny watching two woolly mammoths turn back into horses. I have 2 half-Arab mares and love riding through the woods. It relaxes me, out in the sun, with bird song and a fresh, still-cool breeze rustling through the branches that might still have buds or new pale-green leaves, depending. Hooves squelching through mud, my Sassy snorting and tossing her head when a squirrel cusses us out for coming too close. She still insists on jumping obstacles she could easily step over.

The hope and promise of a new season translates into writing. I’ve finished my galleys for Dust of Dreams and turned Riever’s Heart into my editor. Judging and critiquing obligations are finished. Time to focus on the next new story. Calling it God of Fyre Mountain, it’s Dax’s story. (Pryseis’ nephew from Dust of Dreams.) Dust of Dreams is all about hope and peace and tolerance – being at peace with yourself and the world. Dax is still learning that. Meeting Maili helps.
Dax is half dream faerie and half forest troll. Being neither, and yet both, is hard for him. I think it’s important everyone can just take a deep breath and love the skin they’re in, be comfortable with who and what they are. I think it’s the most important lesson to teach our kids – that it’s okay to just be themselves. And once they accept themselves, makes it that much easier to accept others. The first step to peace.

Spring is for renewal and hope. Gives the world a fresh start. Ongoing themes in my Guardians of Light series. Peace and tolerance and cooperation. Hope for a future without prejudice and fear and war. A gal can dream, can’t she? As a fantasy romance writer, that’s what I do best – good triumphs over evil, the girl always gets the guy and they lived happily ever after.

Just a matter of time before that happens in real life.
Spring keeps me hopeful.

Renee Wildes is an award-winning local Wausau writer. She grew up reading fantasy authors Terry Brooks and Mercedes Lackey and is a huge Joseph Campbell fan, so the minute she discovered romance novels it became inevitable that she would combine it all and write fantasy romance. Renee is a history buff, from medieval times back to ancient Greece, esp. Sparta. As a Navy brat and a cop’s kid, she gravitated to protector/guardian heroes and heroines. She’s had horses her whole life, so became the only vet tech in a family of nurses. It all comes together in her Guardians of Light series for Samhain Publishing – fantasy, action, romance, heroics and lots of critters!

Visit Renee At http://www.reneewildes.net/

Sunday, April 24, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: MICHELLE McADAM



Spring always seems to come slowly.
This year especially, after the long, hard winter experienced by so many of us in the north eastern United States, anticipation for the temperate winds and budding flowers of spring runs high. But it comes more slowly to some places than others. One such place where winter holds on tightly is the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence Seaway. This glacier-carved expanse of mighty river and jewel-like islands straddles the border between Canada and New York, offering tranquility to all who live or venture here. And while Mother Nature must be tenacious in her efforts to thaw the ice and coax the buds onto the hardy trees, she never fails to re-cover the islands in green and to return the water to a dazzling blue. This idyllic corner of the Earth offers up its treasures freely, and I am blessed to be one who has received these treasures. Whether standing in my mother’s garden among the riotous colors of spring blossoms or sitting on the smooth rocks along water’s edge experiencing the joyful return of thousands of Canada geese as they descend from the sky into the river, I feel the magic.  
It’s a quiet magic. Very old. Very powerful. Very pure.
To feel it, you must open your senses. Breathe. Absorb the strength of the water as it slips past you, adding its final touches to what the glaciers began so long ago. Bring a sweater to ward off the lingering chill, but don’t let the cold intimidate you. Once it gains a foothold, Spring is as mighty as the river itself.
And here, amidst the glory of awakenings, my story unfolds. What better place to fall in love – or, in this case, to find a love you thought you’d lost? I hope you enjoy Second Chance Summer.

Michelle McAdam writes soft, humorous contemporary romance with sassy, independent heroines and rugged but sensitive heroes. She's lucky enough to have fallen in love in one of nature's most beautiful places and wants to offer this experience to her readers. To learn more about Michelle and her books, visit http://www.michellemcadam.com/.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: ROBIN BAYNE

Spring Warm-Ups

Robin Bayne
Proverbs 3:5

My darling husband is a golfer and he really enjoys the game. I, however, find it extremely frustrating. Every spring I watch him practice, hitting range balls and then working on his short game at the putting green. I will even join him at that, just for fun. After all, it’s exercise, right?

I like to think of writing practice as exercise, too. I can put any words I like on paper, but no one has to see them. Like a golfer preparing for a big tournament, I can “putt” across the page and warm up before writing anything important. I can write a chapter and send it off to my critique partners, and they will let me know if I’ve made any huge mistakes.

But the real trials begin out on the course, once practice is over. Much like life, once you’re out in the real writing world things become tougher. There are no “mulligans,” or Do-overs, in real life. And there’s no practice at getting out of the toughest sand traps. Rejections and manuscript problems can be just like those sand traps; you chip and swing and still end up stuck, unable to move in any direction. Perspiring more all the time. There’s only one way out, and it starts with prayer. Ask God to guide you out of life’s sand traps, and do as He suggests. It may not actually help your golf game, but it will help with life’s trials and tribulations. It won’t hurt your writing, either.

Robin Bayne is the award-winning author of six novels and four novellas, along with a variety of short stories. She has contributed to collections including God’s Way for Teens, God’s Way for Fathers and Cup of Comfort Devotionals; and published articles in Writer’s Journal and Christian Communicator. She has given workshops at regional and online romance writing conferences and the Writer’s Digest World’s Largest Writing Workshop. She lives in Maryland with her husband of twenty years. Robin recently compiled a book of devotionals for writers titled “Words to Write By.” Visit her at http://www.robinbayne.com/.

Friday, April 22, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: AMIE LOUELLEN

A Lot Like Love

It’s rumored that Will Rogers—favorite son of Oklahoma—said (something to the effect of) If you don’t like the weather here, just stick around. It’ll change in a few minutes. Anyone who has ever been to The Sooner State knows this to be a fact.  Springtime can be particularly fickle—a lot like love.

First of all, Spring takes you by surprise. One day there’s snow and yuck, gray clouds and gloom. And then the next thing you know, the crocuses are peeking their fresh, green heads through the near frozen ground. Love does that. Once you’ve decided that it’s not going to come, or that it’s so far away you shouldn’t even dream about it, there it is. You walk into the coffee shop, grocery store, PTA meeting, whatever, and he’s there. That one man who’ll ultimately make your life…a disaster. A lot like Spring.

Now I mentioned the crocuses. Green starts to abound. Beautiful flowers, grass, buds on the trees. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, and it looks like heaven around every corner.  But all that can change in a heartbeat. Blue skies turn black and heavy with angry clouds. Rains falls, hail falls, and things get destroyed. A lot like love.

Love can do that. It can tear down your dreams and re-invent you in ways you never wanted to be re-invented. Love can make you question everything about yourself. It can make you jealous, crazy, and crazed. And just when you think it can’t get any worse…it does. A lot like Spring.

Oklahoma is particularly volatile in the Spring. We have twisters that tear through whatever’s in their path. They leave  people homeless, destitute, hopeless and generally sad. But the destruction that’s left makes a person remember what’s important. Is it the things in your house or the people who surround you? So what if your car’s on the top of your neighbor’s shed? You’re fine, your family’s fine. (And you’re insured, of course) What matters is that you have someone to hold and someone you can depend on. A lot like love.

But even love mellows. Smooths out until it’s like the crystal clear top of Ten Killer Lake—beautiful, blue, and calm. Love becomes aged and smooth, comfortable, dependable and smart. It becomes June, if you will.
Eventually Spring time levels off as well. The skies turn ugly less and less. The tulips give way to irises. We all plant impatiens and watch the birds nest in our patio plants. Capricious spring turns to steady summer. Flighty, unpredictable love turns to respectful, solid adoration. And all is right with the world…until the heat of August sets in. But that’s another blog...

Amie Louellen
Brodie's Bride  
Available 6/24/2011
from the Wild Rose Press
Amie Louellen loves nothing more than a good book.  Except for her family…and maybe homemade tacos…and shoes.  But reading and writing are definitely high on the list. When she's not creating quirky characters and happy endings she enjoys going to little league baseball games and boy scout meetings. Born and bred in Mississippi, Amie is a transplanted Southern Belle who now lives in Oklahoma with her deputy husband, their genius son, a spoiled cat, and one very hyper beagle.


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email  amielouellen@gmail.com




Thursday, April 21, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: ALISON HENDERSON

A Sweet Northern Spring

Spring comes slowly here in the northland.  While one of my sisters is harvesting kumquats in early March in Los Angeles, I’m sitting in my kitchen in Minnesota contemplating the 7-foot icicle dangling from my neighbors’ roof threatening to pierce their porch.  When April brings tulips and daffodils to my other sister’s garden in Kansas City, our grass is still lichen-gray, matted from the retreating mounds of snow, holding its breath for the magic of May.

The first signs of spring are the drips, slow at first then gurgling down the downspout outside my bedroom window.  But I don’t mind the noise.  It’s a reminder that winter is dissolving all around me.  First the roofs reappear, then the grass in the very center of the yard, away from the miniature mountains of snow we shoveled off the walk and driveway.  Early spring in the north is a time of recession. 

Then the real thaw begins, and every day brings a little more color.  People appear everywhere, some dressed incongruously in shorts.  Fifty degrees never felt so good.

I’m a gardener - a northern gardener – so I take great joy in the first signs of renewed life in the garden.  I’m always hesitant to remove the mulch from my roses, afraid one last fearsome freeze is just around the corner.  But when I do, I always find new shoots of life sprouting from the protected heart of the plant.  I don’t get flowers in May, (I can’t plant bulbs due to an ongoing battle with the bunnies) but the burgeoning flush of green is enough at first.  I know the flowers won’t be far behind.

One of the lessons of living in the north is perfecting the art of delayed gratification.  Every year the frustration with winter begins to burn in February; but we learn we can make it, we will make it, and spring will be all the sweeter when it finally arrives.  Happy Spring!

My current release, Harvest of Dreams, has a gorgeous cover dripping with apple blossoms to celebrate the promise of spring.  Please stop by my website at http://www.alisonhenderson.com/ to find out more about the heart-warming story.

Alison Henderson grew up in Kansas City on the edge of the prairie.  She went off to New York to study art history at Vassar College but never lost her admiration for the fortitude of the pioneers who settled the American West.  She began writing when her daughter entered pre-school and was quickly captivated by the creative process.

Although she has traveled the world from Japan to Tunisia, Alison has never strayed far from her Midwestern roots.  She and her husband are empty-nesters living in Minnesota, and their daughter is a graduate student in Chicago. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: NANA MALONE

Something New....

No, not the movie, although Simon Baker is very nice to look at. I’m talking about spring renewal.  You know that time of year we clean everything out and try and start fresh?

Every year I promise myself that I’ll be open to new experiences and take on new challenges. Now while I often jump into new challenges with gusto, those challenges often fall within my known world. Job, writing, photography. Probably like some of you, I’m not going out of my way to really push past my comfort zone. And why would I? It’s called a comfort zone for a reason, because it feels like those worn in house slippers we all refuse to throw away.

Those of you who know me personally know I love a schedule. I live and breathe by my to do lists and plotting maps. My poor husband who loves to try new things just because he’s curious, is always nudging me beyond my comfort zone and unfortunately I usually fight tooth and nail. Even a basic afternoon outing, I need to know where we’re going and who’s going to be there, so I can plan for every eventuality....and outfit. God knows you want to be wearing the right shoes for every adventure.

This past weekend, he challenged me to try something I’d never done before, sailing. And of course I bristled, because if it’s new, I don’t have an approved plan for it and all the possible things that could go wrong. As usual, he rolled his eyes and reminded me I couldn’t know I didn’t like it until I tried it. I hate when the man speaks truth. So last Saturday, we went sailing. Surprise, surprise, I had fun. A lot of fun.

What other fun have I been missing out on because I’ve over imbibed on that deadly cocktail of laziness and a need for control laced with a dollop of fear? I’m too stubborn to let a little cocktail like that get in my way of a rocking good time, so every month, twice a month, I’m going to try something new and not over plan everything to death. And so I stay honest, because God knows I love to be shamed into doing things, I’m going to post my latest adventures on the blog.

It’ll be great. I’ll finally try some things that have always looked like fun, but I’ve always brushed off. Now all I need to do is make a list of the things I’ve always wanted to try....

Wait a minute, did I just try and plan spontaneity?

Maybe I’m hopeless, but a girl really should make sure she has on the right shoes for every adventure.

Nana’s love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense she borrowed from her cousin on a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana at a precocious thirteen.  She’s been in love with kick butt heroines ever since.  With her overactive imagination, and channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters.
Waiting for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana, meantime works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as sassy and kick butt as she thinks she is.  Though, until that ninja job comes through, you’ll find her acting out scenes for hubby and puppy while catching up on her favorite reality television shows in sunny San Diego.

Her debut novel GAME, SET, MATCH is available from The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.






Tuesday, April 19, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: CINDY SPEERS


Spring.

Probably everyone associates Spring with new beginnings, and a lot of the posts you’ll be reading about will have that theme.  It’s inevitable…January might be the first of the year and when we make resolutions to be better at something, but when the weather turns warm, to me, it feels like a whole world of possibilities have just opened up.

(Me, I resolve every spring to actually keep the lawn cut.  And, like all good resolutions, it never works out.  There’s something in the grass or weeds that I’m allergic to, it gives me a poison-ivy like rash, and after the first couple of times of being miserable I decide I’d rather look alright in my bathing suit than itch.  Living in the boonies has it’s privileges, i.e. no one to complain when my yard takes on a “naturalized” look.)

For me, spring is flowers.  Open windows.  Sweeping the winter out.  I see Spring cleaning as a chance to get rid of the dust of winter and bring in the freshness of summer.  Starting off everything nice and neat and clean.

Spring is also about finally getting out and doing things.  Especially driving…my hobby of pretending to chop my friends into little bitty pieces (aka Historical Fencing) requires a lot of driving and even some camping, which, since I can’t be bothered to set up a tent for more than one night usually means sleeping in the car, but it also means evenings of sitting next to the campfire.  Spring is so much more quiet than summer, at night.  The nocturnal animals haven’t quite shaken off the silence of winter.  And it’s still cool, so you huddle closer to the fire.

It’s my favorite season, really…the trees draped in their pastel blossoms, the balmy air and freedom from heavy clothes, and the hope that this season will be filled with joy and adventure.

What does spring make you feel?  What do you look forward to?

From her post, you may gather that Cindy Lynn Speer has two hobbies:  swashbuckling and avoiding yard work.  But she is also the author of Unbalanced, The Chocolatier’s Wife, Blue Moon and the short story collection But Can You Let Him Go?.  You can find out more about her at her website, http://www.apenandfire.com/

Monday, April 18, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: KAREN MICHELLE NUTT

Spring Celebrations Through the Ages
By Karen Michelle Nutt

There are pagan and religious holidays associated with spring. The earliest reference to a spring celebration dates back to Babylon, 2400 BCE. The city of Ur’s celebration was dedicated to the moon and the spring equinox. On the spring equinox Zoroastrians celebrated, No Ruz, the new day or New Year. 

To the Celts, the equinoxes and the solstices were the holy times of transition, where nature and life cycles renew. Alban Eiler means ‘Light of the Earth.’ It was the first day of spring where day and night were equal. The spring equinox was celebrated before the Celtic tribes arrived in Ireland. There are ancient Irish equinox temples in Knowth. This is near Newgrange or ‘BrĂș na Boinne.’ Knowth has a 100-foot long passage that accepts the Sun on the morning of the Spring and the Autumn Equinox. In Longhcrew, ‘Cairn’ is an older stone cairn equinox temple. 

Easter is derived from Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon lunar goddess. Eostre’s feast day was held on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. On this day, the goddess was believed to mate with the solar god and a child would be born nine months later on Yule, the winter solstice on December 21st.

Eostre’s important symbols were the hare and the egg. The hare represented the full moon and fertility. The egg represented growth and possible new life. Even today these two symbols are popular with the modern Easter celebrations. 

Rabbits have long been associated with fertility and birth. There is a German legend where a poor woman had decorated colorful eggs for her children to find. As soon as the children found the hidden eggs, a large bunny was spotted hopping away. Some believe this is how the legend of the Easter Bunny was started. 

Interesting Facts About Spring and Easter Eggs:

If you were standing on the equator during either the vernal equinox or autumnal equinox, you would see the sun pass directly overhead, the only two times in the year when this happens. These two equinoxes is the only time the sun rises due east and sets due west.

In Spring, the Earth’s axis is tilted toward the sun, increasing the number of daylight hours. 

According to the Guinness Book of World Records the largest Easter egg ever made was over 25 feet high and made of chocolate and marshmallow. The egg weighed 8,968 lbs. 

The custom of giving eggs at Easter time has been traced back to Egyptians, Persians, Gauls, Greeks and Romans, to whom the egg was a symbol of life.


Blurb for Lucca: Warriors for the Light (Fallen Angels Novel, Book 2) 

Lucca Marlowe is half human, half angel, a Nephilim who abhors humans. Banished for crimes against one of his fellow brethren, the elders bind his glamour and wings, casting him to the human’s realm. He’ll either learn to respect his human side of existence or live out eternity trying.

Lucca does not live a mundane life. Angels and demons demand he do their bidding. His estrange 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 their heads.

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

About the Author:

Karen Michelle Nutt lives in California with her husband, three fascinating children, four dogs and three cats. Jack, her Chihuahua/Yorkshire terrier is her writing buddy and sits long hours with her at the computer.

Her Book, Lost in the Mist of Time, was nominated for New Books Review Spotlight Best Fantasy Book of the Year Award 2006. A Twist of Fate was a nominee for Best Time Travel P.E.A.R.L. Award for 2008. Creighton Manor won Honorable Mention P.E.A.R.L. Award 2009.

In her spare time, Ms. Nutt reviews books for PNR-Paranormal Romance Reviews. An avid reader of history, romance and the paranormal, she tends to combine all three in her writings.

Fallen Angels, Vampires and shape shifters embrace her darker side where their worlds intertwine with ours. She enjoys travel, old movies, books and the chance to weave a tale.
Visit the author at: http://www.kmnbooks.com/
Stop by her blog for Monday interviews, chats and contests at: http://kmnbooks.blogspot.com/



Sunday, April 17, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: MAGGI ANDERSEN

Hi everyone, I write historical romance set in England and the charming English countryside features often in my books.

Who better to describe an English spring than William Wordsworth?

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils,
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

After the death of winter, spring brings burgeoning life and new beginnings. In my Regency novel, Rules of Conduct, Viola has lost her memory. Her new life at the beautiful, Vale Park dressed in its spring finery, is filled with uncertainty and frustration as she falls deeply in love with her new benefactor. Even if Viola had not broken the strict, Regency rules of conduct, Hugh Beauchamp, the Duke of Vale is promised to another.
Blurb: Viola has broken all the rules of conduct. Members of the Ton, including the Prince of Wales, circle like wolves. If she is to become a mistress, will it be to the man she loves, the Duke of Vale, after he marries another?
Here are two short excerpts from Rules of Conduct, coming to print in April/May.

Later that morning, the girl set out with the Duke in his phaeton. They bowled along a lane cutting across the top of a hill, the valley spread out below them in a patchwork of green fields and white blossoming hedgerows, dotted here and there with the vibrant red of the dog rose.
In different circumstances I would enjoy this, she thought, but bouncing around in the open carriage made her head pound again, and she longed to crawl back into bed. She gritted her teeth and clung to the plain straw bonnet Mrs. Moodie had provided for the trip.
The Duke glanced her way. “All right there?”
“Yes, thank you, your grace. This is a fine phaeton. You drive it to the inch.”
“A good vehicle, I find. It suits me.”
“The Phaeton was named after an ancient Greek. The son of Helios, wasn’t it? He borrowed his father’s chariot and would’ve set heaven and earth on fire with his fearless driving, if Zeus hadn’t slain him with a thunderbolt.”
The Duke’s eyebrows rose as he said, “Then it’s to be hoped the skies remain clear for us today.”
She glanced up at the sapphire arch of sky strewn with wisps of cloud like cracked old china. “Perhaps you should slow down just a little,” she said. “Cum feriunt unum non unum fulmina terrent.”
“My word!” he cried, almost overcorrecting on a tight bend. Once the bend had been negotiated and road straightened out again, he looked at her, shaking his head. “Latin. Ovid, I believe. Wait a minute. ‘When the lightning strikes but one…not one only does it alarm.’ It seems you’ve been educated in the Classics. Why, what a mystery you are proving to be.”
She smiled faintly. “I am, am I not?”

Hugh and Viola stopped at the top of the hill and looked down on the tiny farmhouses, on the far side of the river. Fields of wheat formed kaleidoscope shapes in the shifting breeze.
Hugh pointed to an area of lush green pastureland. “It floods at least once every year, cutting off the only road in and out of the valley.”
They rode down the hill, reigning in when they reached the bottom.
It was a very different world on this side of the hill. Oaks and chestnuts stood alone in the cleared fields, their spreading branches a shelter for the spring lambs. Crossing a small bridge, they trotted their horses along the edge of the river. A group of children played on the banks, tossing stones into the fast flowing water. They stopped to watch as Viola and Hugh rode up.
The tallest, a barefooted, shaggy-headed boy, ran up to Hugh. “It’s the Dook, it’s the Dook!” he cried. The rest held back shyly.
Hugh dismounted, took a pile of sweetmeats from his pocket, and tossed them to him. “Share them,” he instructed.

Rules of Conduct is published by Awe-Struck Publishing.

Maggi Andersen

Bio: Maggi Andersen is an Australian author of Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense and Young Adult Novels. Maggi lives in the countryside outside Sydney with her husband and their demanding cat. Her novels can be found on Amazon.com and her website.
http://www.maggiandersenauthor.com

Saturday, April 16, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: LINDA LaROQUE

Texas Blooms in the Spring

Have you ever wanted to live in a different time period? Or at least visit and see if you’d like to live there? I have. I guess that’s why I enjoy writing time travels so much. So far, I’ve written five, two full length novels, My Heart Will Find Yours and Flames on the Sky available from The Wild Rose Press and two short stories, A Law of Her Own and Desires of the Heart with the Wild Rose Press.  My latest time travel is a novella, A Way Back, with Champagne Books. 

In my writing, I’ve visited 1880s Waco, Texas, 1000 AD Chaco Canyon, the Texas Panhandle in 1888, the United Kingdom in 1945, and the 1930s oil fields of Texas.  There are so many opportunities to explore in our past. And wow, uncharted territory in our future.

In A Way Back, Wellman and Amber arrive in the East Texas Town of Kilgore, Texas, in March, just in time for the bluebonnets and other wildflowers to bloom. If you’ve been to Texas, you know we Texans are proud of our wildflowers and many tour the countryside each spring to view nature’s paintings and compare it to those of years past. The floral display of blue, red, yellow, and white depends on the amount of rain received the previous fall, not in the spring, something I wasn’t aware of until just recently.  

Because it’s the state of Texas flower, it’s illegal to pick bluebonnets but seeds and seedlings are available at nurseries. People plant the flower in their yards and beds. When they’re in bloom, they’re mowed around until completely dead so the seeds will fall and increase the number of blooms next year.

My aunts, as young girls, all had their pictures taken sitting in a field of bluebonnets while holding a big bouquet. In those days they didn’t have color film, so the photographs were touched up with paints. They’re beautiful keepsakes.  

Imagine Wellman and Amber’s, the hero and heroine of A Way Back, first view of the bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, and Indian blankets. Then allow your imagination to see those beautiful fields of flowers rutted with tire tracks, dotted with oil field equipment, and a regal oil derrick reaching toward the clouds.  Can you still see the beauty there?

I feel another time travel story coming on. Maybe one set in a 1920s rural community in East Texas or the Texas Hill Country.

Happy Reading and Writing folks!



Linda LaRoque is a Texas girl, but the first time she got on a horse, it tossed her in the road dislocating her shoulder. Forty years later she got on another, but it was older, slower, and she was wiser. Plus, her students looked on and it was important to save face.

A retired teacher, she loves Texas, its flora, fauna, and its people. Her stories paint pictures of life, love, and learning set against the raw landscape of ranches and rural communities in Texas and the Southwest.

Linda lives near Waco, TX with her husband and dog Molly. Visit her at http://www.lindalaroque.com/

Friday, April 15, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: JUDE JOHNSON

Long Before the Equinox

That goofy groundhog never gets it right… Spring comes long before the equinox in the Sonoran Desert.  The brilliant, lime green shoots of new mesquite leaves, almost fluorescent against the deep brown-black bark, begin budding in February. Tiny nodules erupt on prickly pear pads, knuckles of “cactus roses” that will grow to pink buds and open as yellow flowers.

Spring explodes here in a way that astounds and astonishes. Colors are incredibly vivid, perhaps because everything else seems burnt and brown—but only for those who don’t know the subtle signs of life in a desert, such as the immigrant Evan Jones from Wales in my novel, Dragon & Hawk. Evan cannot believe a place that has so little moisture can be as beautiful as the gardens of his homeland. He’s amazed that palo verde trees, which have green bark and mere twiggy leaves, suddenly burst into yellow blooms as bright as daffodils. And the aromas—sweet and tart as lemon, fresh as green chlorophyll, spicy as cinnamon sage—all mix as a light perfume in the air. The desert floor blossoms into a multicolored carpet of blue lupine, red owl’s clover, and orange and gold poppies as vibrantly painted as a Van Gogh—but only for a short while. The colors fade as the sun’s heat grows ever more potent, and often by the official first day of spring the temperatures already approach the nineties.

It’s that little taste, that whiff of beauty which affirms that life does renew and revive in the desert, if a little earlier than everywhere else. Those who dwell here treasure and inhale and try to hold fast to the memory as summer cranks up her grill.

Jude Johnson
Author of DRAGON & HAWK
 due April 2011 from Champagne Books: http://www.champagnebooks.com/
Website: jude-johnson.com



Jude Johnson is a writer with a passion for historical research and details. The smell of parchment, old leather, and glue bindings makes her giddy. It is her attention to accuracy that infuses her stories with authenticity, letting the reader step into those dusty streets of Tombstone or onto the pitching deck of a frigate of Nelson's Navy. Granddaughter of a curandera, a Mexican healer who uses herbs, psychology and a little bit of mysticism, she incorporates a bit of family legend into her Dragon & Hawk series.

Jude loves adventure, action, romance, and fantasy to spirit her readers into a different time and place. She has studied the Welsh language—Cymraeg—enough to order beer, swear, order pancakes, and ask for the facilities. Trips to Britain to capture the cadence of the melodic Welsh accent and attitude allowed her to infuse her Welsh immigrant characters with realism. Jude also speaks fairly bad border Spanish.
Home is situated in the Catalina Foothills of northern Tucson, Arizona, near Pima Canyon and not too far from Sabino Canyon. Jude lives with her long-suffering husband and son, as well as two deranged cats.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SPRING IS BUSTIN' OUT ALL OVER: DONNA BOLK

Spring is nature's way of saying "Let's party!" – Robin Williams

What and where is the biggest party of them all? Easy. That would be The National Cherry Blossom Tree Festival. The festival is an annual two-week event in held in Washington DC. A celebration of springtime it also commemorates the gift of 3, 000 cherry trees presented in 1912 from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington. The festival events include, a parade, family day, a celebration of the Arts, fireworks, live music, great food, The Pink Tie Party, and more.

Okay, so now you're probably saying, Donna you gave me what and where, how about the when? Sad to say, you missed it. The 2011 festival ended on the 10th of April.    

But before you go thinking I'm a tease who would make this grand ice cream sundae with chocolate fudge, whipped cream, and a cherry on top, I'm happy to report the best is yet to come!

The Cherry Blossom Festival will celebrate its centennial anniversary of the gift of the trees in 2012. The event will run from March 20th through April 27th, 2012. Extended from its normal two-week time frame to five weeks, it promises to be a celebration that will be remembered for years to come.

I don't know about you, but I'm getting my camera ready, and packing my party sneakers, destination Washington DC, the Spring Party place to be!

Seeing as you have a bit of a wait for the 2012 celebration, I'd like to invite you to check out my latest release from The Wild Rose Press.

Getting It Right is the first story in the Class of '85 Reunion series from The Wild Rose Press. The characters in these stories were in their teens when they last walked the halls of Summerville High School. Now, in their forties, they are returning to Summerville for their twenty-five year class reunion. They bring with them the baggage from years gone by. Some are looking for answers, others peace, and still others are hoping for one more chance to claim the love that got away. 

 Excerpt from Getting It Right:

            "Kelly, I want you to stay away from that boy."
            She finished rinsing her cereal bowl and put it in the dish rack. "Daddy, that boy has a name, it's Tyler Jackson. And we're just friends." For now, she added silently.
            She turned, leaned against the sink and looked at her father. "I don't understand why you won't give him a chance."
            He lowered the paper he'd been reading. "For the same reason I wouldn't belly up to a snake and kiss it."
            "Tyler isn't a snake."
            "No, he's a troubled boy who drinks and smokes. And he's made fast company with Denny Riker and Sharon Monroe."
            "Is that all you've got on him?" She folded her arms and shrugged. "Why, I heard he dances with the devil on Saturday night, too. The two of them are just thick as thieves."


Getting It Right is award-winning author Donna L. Bolk's third release from the Wild Rose Press. Her previous titles include PACKAGE DEAL and SAVING CINDERELLA.

            She is a former book reviewer for Affaire de Coeur magazine and currently reviews for several online sites. She enjoys hearing from readers and invites you to visit her website: www.donnalbolk.com