Beginning January 1, 2013

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Friday, August 31, 2012



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jackie will be awarding gift baskets to two randomly drawn commenters which will include:

- a copy of the Untitled soundtrack

- a "I like Big Books and I cannot Lie" totebag

- Untitled themed or guitar shaped keychains

- $20 Amazon gift card.

I believe authors learn something from every character that they create. What I have learned from Aiden, the main character in Untitled, is something that I probably learned from my mother years ago. I just did not realize the importance of this sound piece of advice. The most likely scenario is that she told it to me as a teen and I conveniently ignored it because that is exactly what teenagers do.

However, it is probably the best advice in the world. That is “No is never the final answer” or “Don’t let the word NO ever be the final answer”. I don’t remember the exact wording, just the concept.

In Untitled, Aiden has incredible drive and a fierce determination to make his dreams come true. He does not let the word NO stop him. When people said no, he could not play blues music because of his background or that he should not love the person he loved, he pushed forward and ignored the naysayers.

As I was writing these types of situations for Aiden, I found myself admiring his determination and strength. It was something that I found that I was lacking an abundance of. As an author, determination plays a crucial role in your success. There are pitfalls and struggles, and rejection but it is imperative that you never give up.

While I hadn’t completely lost hope that I’d be a published author, I was running out of steam. The publishing industry is a tough play and I just happened to decide to pursue my dream of being an author during the Harry Potter, teenage vampire era. I’m a contemporary romance author and publishers just weren’t looking in that direction. There were times when I felt I was writing just because I wanted to finish Aiden’s story.

Aiden is a tough little cookie. He saw every door that was being slammed in his face, every NO like that person was missing out on the opportunity to be a part of something extraordinary. I adopted that same attitude.

Like I mentioned, I’m sure my mother taught me that at some point in my younger years but I had to see it for myself, and I saw it in Aiden Tyler, my favorite character of all the ones that I have ever created.

About the Author:
Jackie Chanel is a contemporary romance author and self proclaimed badass. Her writing career began in high school when she began writing short romance stories about her celebrity crushes. Her very first novel was penned while she was a high school senior in Youngstown, Ohio. She insists that no one will ever read it.

Jackie studied at Georgia State University and currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. When she’s not writing or daydreaming, she can often be found drooling over the latest Chanel shoes or reading on her Kindle with a cup of coffee in hand and a little Mayer or Hendrix in the background.

Her characters are a reflection of the people she has encountered along her writing journey and her books are often inspired by her favorite thing, music.

Find the author online at

Twitter Handle: @JackieChanel

Twitter Page:!/JackieChanel

Facebook: Author Jackie Chanel

Facebook Author Page:


For some, music is an escape from the every day norm.

For Aiden, it's his life's blood.

Already a star in his own mind & with the help of an unlikely partner, Aiden's escape from a life less ordinary begins with the blues and a guitar. Only he can determine where it ends.

Thursday, August 30, 2012



What inspired you to start writing?

I wanted a job where I could work from home and be with my children, work for myself, and do something I absolutely loved. Writing absolutely fit that bill and I’m extremely grateful that it worked out for me.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing “seriously” with the intent of publication since 2002 and I was first published in 2006.

What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?

Just not to give up. Expect rejection. Expect to hit the lowest of lows and don’t expect things to happen overnight. If you have a realistic view of the big picture, then you won’t experience as much letdown or disappointment.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I find if I’m not writing, it’s because I’m being lazy and because I don’t want to write. The cure is to make myself sit down and do it and plow on, no matter what. That method hasn’t failed me yet and I’ve never said to myself “I really WANT to be writing but I’m so blocked!” because if I really want to be writing, I find quite simply that I do.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good story telling, hands down.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I don’t develop them. They pretty much develop themselves and I figure it and them as I write.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

Depends. Sometimes plot. Sometimes characters.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell us about?

I just finished up Theirs to Keep which is the first book in a new trilogy called Tangled Hearts Trilogy. It’s set to release October 16th and as mentioned will be the first of three books that follow the same characters. I’m really excited about it. It’s a story that’s been haunting me for four years and only this year did I finally figure out how the story needed to be told.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Julie Garwood taught me everything I know about writing. She taught me to make every single character in the story count, no matter how little page time they get. Make them interesting, fully developed and three dimensional. I carry that over into all my stories, no matter what genre.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

Very, very painfully. I’m terrible at coming up with titles, so it’s not a fun process at all.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Honestly I’m not sure I consider myself a writer even now. I’m always surprised when I manage to create a story and I’m always afraid that I won’t be able to do it again.

Describe your writing space.

My writing space changes with my moods. I get tired of working in the same area all the time so I rotate around my house. Currently I’ve been working in my bedroom in my “nest” of pillows that I prop behind my back on the bed.

What is the hardest part about writing for you?

Having the discipline to sit down and write even when I don’t want to, don’t feel like it, or would just rather be doing something else.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

I write long hours and usually whenever I can grab the time. My best time to write is usually between 10pm and around 3am. That’s when I get the most done.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I love to travel and I also spend a lot of time at the ballpark with my daughter’s softball schedule.

What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your books?

That I can actually create an interesting, well developed story more than once!

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’m up close to 50, I believe, and a few of my favorites are The Darkest Hour, Shades of Gray, Sweet Addiction, Never Seduce a Scot, Stay With Me and Amber Eyes.

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I hear from my readers all the time via email, Facebook, Twitter etc. It runs the gambit!

If you had to do your journey to getting published all over again, what would you do differently?

Not a darn thing. I’m very zen about past mistakes and choices. If things hadn’t happened exactly as they had, I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m very happy and content with where I am presently.

About the Author:
Maya Banks is the USA Today and New York Times bestselling author of contemporary and historical romances. She lives in Texas with her husband and three children.

Find Maya online at

Rachel Kelly has traveled a long, hard road in her journey back to her husband, Ethan, and the Kelly family. Now, as she and Ethan are poised to move into their new home, safe behind the walls of the Kelly compound, Rachel wonders if she’ll finally be free of the ghosts that have haunted her for so long and if she’ll step into the sun after a past steeped in darkness.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012



A New Breed of Romantic Hero

Envisioning and writing about handsome men that readers will fall in love with is one of the perks of being a romantic suspense author. Most of my heroes have bulging muscles, handguns ready to fire, or a choice of deadly karate moves, but I occasionally get to create a hero who is more like the proverbial guy next door.

The male lead in my new romantic suspense, Deadly Memories, is special to me because he personifies a new breed of hero. Greg is a cyber-security specialist racing to stop an extortionist before he sells top-secret Department of Defense software to terrorists. He’s a man who relies on his brains and computer skills, not brawn. In fact, he’s disabled and confined to a wheelchair. He must outsmart, rather than physically subdue, the villain.

When I was writing the story, I imagined Greg as the hero of the future. The men and women who protect our computer systems are fighting as big a war as a soldier serving in Afghanistan, because our national enemies have made cyber-space the next frontier. Every day, foreign hackers scrutinize sensitive computer systems and databases probing for weaknesses. One big success could bring our country to its knees, and our only defense is a skilled computer specialist who prevents sneak attacks by making our vital systems bulletproof. Or a man like Greg, who tracks down and disarms the enemy.

Technology has changed the rules for survival of the fittest. Fighting a cyber war requires education and intelligence. And a man with both has a unique appeal. Especially when a woman wants to have children and recognizes he has a valuable skill that can help her protect and provide for her future family.

A hundred years ago, a man needed physical strength, or money, to fight his way to the top. I still appreciate a good-looking man with muscles and want my romantic leads to be fit. But we’re in an electronic age. Today, and in the future, a man who can tangle with a computer and win gets my vote for a hero.

What do you think? Can brains be as sexy as brawn, or do you prefer the traditional gun-toting, fist-swinging romantic suspense hero?

You can read my full bio and learn more about my books at my website: My new release, Deadly Memories, is available from The Wild Rose Press. Please stop by my blog,, to read more tidbits about my writing life.

About the Author:
Kathleen Mix writes stories with a thrilling mix of romance and suspense.

She took an indirect route to becoming an author. After her three sons started school, she returned to college and earned a B.S. in Computer Science and Engineering. Working as a software engineer, she consulted on applications ranging from submarine combat systems to biological research databases.

Weekends and vacations were always reserved for boating. And as an avid sailor and licensed charter boat captain, the itch to sail away into the sunset soon became too strong to resist. She and her husband moved aboard their sailboat and headed south. By the time they reached the Caribbean, they were hooked on a cruising life. Since then, Kathleen has spend many years roaming the U.S. coastline, exploring the Bahamas, and enjoying the tropical islands of the Caribbean and the coastal countries of South America.

She began her writing career with non-fiction sailing and travel articles. But she was sailing to exotic islands under starry skies and walking on the most beautiful, white-sand beaches in the world. She started imagining stories of romance and adventure and turned to writing romantic suspense.

When an extortionist threatens to compromise Trish Flaherty’s top-secret software project, only one cyber-security consultant has the expertise to identify the culprit in time to prevent a national disaster. The problem is, that one man is Greg Erickson, a former lover whose rush to judgement nine years ago changed the course of her life. Just thinking about him has unleashed a cache of painful memories, and the last thing she wants is his help.

To find the extortionist, Trish must work by Greg’s side. To save her heart, she must keep her distance. Because if she gives him a second chance to desert her, this time her heart won’t survive.

Greg has an agenda: he wants an explanation for recent events that have damaged the reputation of his consulting company. His new assignment could be the key. But Trish appears to be involved in the subterfuge, and the extortionist has killed to succeed. Can he listen to his heart and trust the lover who once betrayed him, discover the truth about the past, and disrupt a devious countdown before it climaxes in another murder?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012



I am so happy to present the second book in my Home series, Home By Nightfall. This time period of transition, 1918 and beyond, is such a rich source of historical events, I’d been thinking about it years before the first book, Home By Morning, was published. So many things occurred: war; the influenza pandemic; Prohibition; the 19th Amendment, which gave women the vote, etc. Innovation and technology jumped forward, changing the lives of many and yet for the most part, the US remained largely agrarian. Since small-town America is really my favorite setting, I can combine progress and tradition in my stories. For example, there might be a few automobiles in Powell Springs, the primary location of the Home series, but as in bigger cities, horses and wagons also share the streets.

Home By Nightfall opens two years after the end of World War I. Susannah Braddock, who was told that her husband had been killed in France, now receives another letter telling her that he’s been found by the Red Cross and is returning home. That should be wonderful news except for two major problems: his memory has been wiped clean by shell shock, and Susannah has remarried.

Tanner Grenfell is her husband of just two months, and he sees his new life suddenly crumbling around him and his nephews, boys who have come to think of Susannah as their mother.

For Riley Braddock, the people at the Braddock horse farm—the place where he grew up—are all strangers to him. He is not only burdened with trying to adjust to this alien place, he is also plagued with lingering and unpredictable flashbacks that return him to the battlefield.

How will all of these lives be healed again? Can they be healed? Susannah can have only one husband. Who will stay and who will not?

To win a download of Home by Nightfall, please leave a comment.

It wasn’t that Susannah hadn’t grieved over Riley. Oh, she had. She’d begun grieving the day he left for training. She’d paced the floor for eighteen months of darkness, worrying, unable to sleep a whole night through. If a shell, or a bullet, or poison gas hadn’t felled him, he might have been struck down by an invisible enemy—the Spanish influenza that was on the march around the globe. It had smothered Powell Springs with a ruthless grip, taking friends and neighbors. Some who had lived were even now invalids, frail representations of the people they’d once been.

Ultimately, word came of his death in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. Her worst fear had come to pass. Susannah had been worn out from the grieving—

Just then the boys tumbled into the kitchen, all coltish exuberance and hay-flecked energy, and headed straight for the dining room table. Tanner followed them.

“Hey, hey, hey! Hold up there, you two. Wash first.” He was firm with them, but never unfair, and Susannah knew they adored him. She also noticed that he’d made them take off their boots and leave them outside.

“Yessir,” Josh said, resigned.

“Aw…” Wade moaned. But they both went back out to the porch and crowded around the basin.

“There are chicken sandwiches and potato salad in there,” she told them, nodding toward the dining room. She stayed at the stove.

“Aren’t you comin’, Aunt Susannah?” Josh asked when he reappeared, his hands and face scrubbed pink from the flour-sack towel.

Her eyes darted to Tanner’s, then returned to the pot. “No, I’ve got a lot of work to do here in the kitchen. I’ll eat after you all go back out.” Her voice sounded falsely bright to her own ears, and she felt Tanner’s gaze on her. She couldn’t bring herself to look at him again. He might be a quiet man, but she’d come to realize that he didn’t miss much.

He passed behind her, letting his hand brush her elbow like the soft puff of a dandelion, then went to the dining room with the boys in tow.

Susannah sighed and wadded up the hem of her apron to carry the fruit-filled pot to the kitchen table. Just as she grasped its edges, a movement beyond the open side window caught her eye. She dropped her hands, leaving the pot on the burner, and stared.

Tanner walked back into the kitchen. “Hey, Susannah, have you got any mustard in the iceb—”

Her fingers tingled and she stood, transfixed, watching the approaching horse and rider.

He came closer. “What?” Then he followed her gaze. “Isn’t that Roy Ellison?”

Yes, it was. Rural free delivery was still not available in this part of the county, and the only time the post office brought mail to the farm was if the letter had been sent special delivery. In Susannah’s experience, special delivery was dreary kin of the telegram—no good news ever arrived with either of them. The last time Roy brought such a letter, it had announced the news of her mother’s death in Corbett. That had been during the influenza epidemic, and now she worried about what trouble might be coming to the Braddocks again in Ellison’s leather pouch.

Without replying, she pushed open the screen door and stepped out to the back porch to meet the gray-haired postman.

He waved at her and dismounted. “Howdy do, ma’am. I’ve got something here for you.” After tying the horse to the weathered gatepost, he rummaged around in his saddle bag and withdrew an envelope. “It just come in and I could see right off it was important, so I thought I’d better bring it.”

Susannah sensed Tanner standing at the door behind her. Roy Ellison held out the envelope to her, and after a moment of hesitation, she crossed the narrow porch and extended her hand to take it.

The postman lingered. “We don’t see much mail from the War Department now that things have settled down in Europe.” Plainly, he was hoping she’d open it while he was still there. But she only stared at the typewritten name—Mrs. Susannah Braddock.

Finally, she tucked the letter in her apron pocket. “Thank you, Mr. Ellison. It was kind of you to make the trip out here.” He dallied a few more moments, but when he realized he wasn’t going to learn anything, he went back to his horse.

Turning, she saw Tanner in the doorway, but sat down on the bench beside the wash basin instead of going inside. She waited until Mr. Ellison was back in the saddle and headed down the dusty road before she reached into her pocket for the envelope.

Susannah had been expecting this letter for a while. When Riley had been killed, she learned that his grave was a temporary one, and that large, formal cemeteries were being constructed in Europe for the war dead. She was to receive notice of his final resting place, and now here it was. Here was the news that would close, once and for all, a chapter of her life that she’d never expected to end so soon. Glancing across the pastures that surrounded the farm, she looked at the blades of grass flash silvery-green as they bowed in the warm September breeze. He would lie half a world away, so far from this place where he’d grown up, perhaps in a spot that resembled John McCrae’s poetic description.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses row on row

She tore open the flap with hands that trembled slightly, and unfolded a single sheet of paper.

Dear Mrs. Braddock…

Susannah felt her eyes grow wider with every word she read. She sat bolt upright and clapped a hand over her mouth. An inarticulate wail pushed its way up her chest and escaped from between her fingers. It was the only sound her pounding heart would let her voice. The blood pulsing in her head dimmed her hearing. She felt but didn’t hear the pounding of boots across the floor in the house and the slamming open of the screen door. She looked up to find herself surrounded by family, Tanner, Cole, Shaw, the boys. She could only stare at them.


“What the hell is all the caterwauling about?”

“What’s in that letter?”

“Why is she acting that way?”

She gazed at each face crowded in front of her. Her mouth moved and at first no words came out. At last she whispered the unthinkable. “It’s about Riley. Oh, dear heaven, it’s about Riley. He’s not dead. He’s coming home.”

About the Author:
Today, Alexis Harrington is one of Montlake Romance’s bestselling authors. Yet it was only six months ago that her first book with them, the electronic and print editions of her self-published novel, Home By Morning, was released. Now, HOME BY NIGHTFALL, her first Montlake Romance original novel, has just been published.

Alexis’s successful career includes writing thirteen novels over twenty years, most traditionally published. Eager to see her work widely available electronically, she began requesting publication rights back. She had no idea she was redefining her career. She republished all ten of her popular, northwest-set historical novels as e-books. Soon, she found she was not only reaching readers who hadn’t previously read her work, but also profiting from her backlist titles more than ever before. Not intimidated by being at the forefront of a sea change in publishing, she decided to self-publish her next original novel. That book, Home By Morning, came out in 2010. Within months she was tapped by Montlake Romance for publication rights to it as well as to her then work-in-progress, HOME BY NIGHTFALL.

Reader response has been gratifying and Alexis has embraced e-publishing, especially the freedom to write in time periods and in the genre she prefers, regardless of trends. “Not having specific earnings expectations, high overhead or other constraints large publishers face, I can profit from my writing past and present as I work toward my creative goals. Interestingly, I did better in 2011 than I had in ten busy years of print publishing.”

Her new book, HOME BY NIGHTFALL, shares the fictional setting, Powell Springs, Oregon, and several of the characters introduced in Home By Morning. Each book touches upon the Great War, now more commonly known as World War I. The first is set in 1918, just before the end of the war and at the start of the world wide influenza pandemic. HOME BY NIGHTFALL occurs just two years after peace has been declared. However, the war continues to take its toll in ways small and large, as the impact of those who will never return—as well as those who have—changes the world they left behind. Coincidentally, the on sale date of HOME BY NIGHTFALL fell just four days after the anniversary of the Treaty of Versaille, which officially ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers on June 29, 1919.

Alexis began writing in 1980 and has been entertaining readers since her first novel, Homeward Hearts, was published in 1994. Her love of the genre comes naturally. “I like the escapism of historicals, both in books and film” she says. “I miss LaVryle Spencer’s novels. She was my inspiration to start writing.” She adds, “Diana Gabaldon probably has one of the best historical voices and I love her work as well.”

Alexis has spun tales of characters and situations that include mail order brides, the Yukon Gold Rush, seafaring, ranching, and protagonists heading west. Most of her historical romance novels are set in her home state, Oregon, though she has ventured to other parts of the northwest and has followed characters as they emigrated to America from places such as Cork County, Ireland. It’s unlikely she’ll suddenly make a drastic change in venues for her stories as she truly enjoys writing about the place she knows best, her home near the Columbia River. “I still live within ten miles of my old high school,” she says.

Alexis says she maintains her career as a working novelist by following her muse and her instincts regarding her own and readers’ interests. She has had thirteen books published and notes that “among all the books I’ve written I’ve had just one foreign sale, and that was The Irish Bride, which was translated for Norway, where I understand it was a big hit.”

An animal lover, Alexis lives with a cat, a finch, two dogs (Great Pyrenees!), and three chickens—all of which like to gather in her small home office. Only the chickens are not allowed. She keeps crazy hours. “I’m just not a morning person. I like to be up late while the rest of the world is sleeping and quiet. No phones, faxes or other distractions. Just ‘the kids’ and me, candles burning and elevator music coming out of my CD player.” She makes jewelry and, thanks to the tutelage of her grandmother, is a fine needlepoint artist specializing in embroidery, thread crochet and sewing. She enjoys cooking—another gift from her grandmother—reading, entertaining friends, and decorating, and is a lover of all things Victorian. Animal welfare is very important to her and she belongs to the Oregon Humane Society and the ASPCA.

Alexis is currently at work on her next novel, also set in the Pacific Northwest .

Monday, August 27, 2012



I love romance novels. Love to read them, love to write them. While perusing my local mega bookstore/stationary store/gift center/kid’s playground/legal addictive stimulant dealer, I started to feel like I had read the same cover several times. It seems like some romance authors have adopted a formula to writing and then shared that formula on every blog and social networking site on the planet. In fact, the back of most romance covers could read like this:

Bricker (because all men in romance novels have names that sound like last names or dog names) is an ex- special forces operative (because no real romance man would be an accountant) who has lost hope in humanity. His time spent serving his country has left unseen scars on his soul (because PTSD is way sexier than the loss of a limb or a gunshot wound to the belly). Bricker is troubled by unseen demons (being haunted by the spawn of Satan is much cooler than having bad dreams and flashbacks). His life is turned upside down when he meets the beautiful (because romance women are all cast from the same mold as Angelina Jolie) Kevin (because all romance women have male names). Kevin is a successful attorney (because while all romance men barely passed their GED, romance women all went to Harvard on an academic scholarship) who has dedicated her entire life to her career (because all romance women are workaholic spinsters at the age of 24). When the client of a pro-bono murder case (because all romance men are demons and all romance women are saints) becomes obsessed with her, she must rely on Bricker to save her life (because romance women always put their lives in the hands of total strangers). Will their love be able to survive when things take a turn for the worst (because it can always get worse than being hunted by a homicidal maniac)?
So, what did I do when faced with the same basic story? I did what any self-respecting reader would do. I bought every single one and devoured them in less than a week. What can I say, I love romance even if I have read the same story hundreds of times. Going through the emotions of falling in love, or lust, never gets old. It is my drug and I will continue to use it until people stop writing it.

About the Author:
Katie Harper started writing when two people showed up in her head and wouldn't leave until she told their story. They had a party, invited a few friends over. Now she spends her days doing the bidding of imaginary people. She lives in a city made for sin on the edge of a desert with her daughter, no pets and enough lemon bundt cake to feed a refugee camp. She has recently released her first novel, Never Say Just, through Decadent Publishing.

Haunted by her past of murder for hire and skinning people alive to gather vital intelligence, Kat Boudreaux wants nothing more than to hide away in her sprawling mansion with the love of her life--her daughter. But then Private Gump and his band of Bubbas land on her doorstep. Her brother and his unit of misfit Marines insert themselves with the misguided need to protect her from someone hell-bent on vengeance.

For Shooter, it's love at first sight, though he wouldn't be caught dead admitting it. When Kat is nearly fatally injured while saving his life, he knows he's found the woman for him. Together, they fight side by side to get to the bottom of the threats. Kat's daughter is kidnapped and this ex-assassin mom reverts back to old habits to save her. Saving Kat and her daughter is easy; taming the shrew that is Hell Kat Boudreaux might mean losing his favorite appendage.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Win during our 5th anniversary party!

We're celebrating our 5th Anniversary with a huge party -- where you can win $100 Amazon GC, $50 Amazon GC, and hundreds of smaller prizes:  books, $5 Amazon GCs and more!

Anniversary Blog Fest: Jennifer Shirk


The Ultimate Beach Reading

Hi, all! Jennifer here.

Every summer I have high hopes of getting some writing done, but come about mid July, I finally give up. I know. I’m weak like that. But Hubby is his own business owner so he likes to take a lot of days off in the summer, which ultimately means I take off a lot of days in the summer. 

And where do we spend our time? AT THE BEACH!

About six blocks away. **cough cough**

So this is when I get caught up on all the reading I’ve been meaning to do all year. That includes finally having a chance to read THE HUNGER GAMES (See? I’m a little behind) and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ new book THE GREAT ESCAPE (didn’t start it yet, so no comments) and IN THE BAG by Kate Klise (really cute and the perfect beach read).

I have about fifteen more books to finish before school starts. Don’t judge me. I’m “refilling the well”, so to speak, so I don’t feel too guilty about not writing. And now…

I have the ultimate beach chair to lounge and read to my little heart’s content!

Check this out:

I saw this chair in a Frontgate catalogue and knew I HAD to have it. If you live at the beach and do a lot of reading, you need the ultimate beach chair. (Although, it’s more like a sofa) My friends call me “the queen” when they see me lounging on it. (But they’re jealous)

What I really like about it is that it’s LIGHT. It folds up nicely and has a shoulder strap. And because I don’t like a lot of sun on my face it has a handy little visor I can put it up to block out the sun and reduce the glare on my books. If that’s not the ultimate in beach reading, I’m not sure what is. 

How about you? Do you have a favorite beach or pool chair?

Do you find you read more or less books in the summer?

About the Author:
Jennifer Shirk has a bachelor degree in pharmacy-which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.

She writes sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Samhain Publishing, Avalon Books/Montlake Romance and soon to be Entangled Publishing.

She resides in a beach resort in NJ, and when she's not working on her tan or writing, she's taking care of her most treasured possessions: her husband, daughter, and four hermit crabs.

Find Jennifer online at






Sunnyva “Sunny” Fletcher is a firm believer in fairy tales. With the recent debt she’s acquired, the hope of something magical happening in her life is the only thing keeping her going. She needs a job fast. So when Sunny learns the sexy new vacationer in town is looking for a nanny, she starts to believe she just may have a fairy godmother after all!

Internet guru Sam Calloway is only in town for the summer and needs a nanny for his two small children. However, the beautiful and inexperienced Sunny is not exactly the kind of caregiver Sam has in mind. It doesn’t take long for Sunny’s tenderhearted and bubble-blowing ways to soon have the children—and Sam—enamored with her. She’s a dream come true. But after what Sam’s been through, he’s stopped believing in fairy tales long ago.

Sunny manages to work her way into Sam’s closed-off heart, but at the end of the summer, will the workaholic dad go back to his life in New York City, or will he decide his days are much sunnier here with Sunny?

Anniversary Blog Fest: Lisa Rayns


How did I spend my summer?

My summer has been a wonderful nightmare. I’ve been stretched to my limits with stress and bad luck but each time something good evolved and left me thankful for the chain of events.

It began at exactly four a.m. one night. My husband and two of my sons were out of town so it was just me and my youngest at home snuggled safely in our beds. Sound asleep. The doorbell rang, but it didn’t just ring once. It rang and rang like someone was holding the button down.

I panicked, of course. Who wouldn’t when the doorbell rings at 4 a.m.?

Jumping out of our beds, my son and I met in the kitchen. The dog started barking, the cats ran for cover, and my son and I stood frozen at the end of the hallway while the doorbell continued to resound through the house. We hugged each other and peeked around the corner toward the door.

It didn’t stop ringing.

Eventually, I gathered all the courage I could muster and crept to the door to peek out the window.

No one.

I opened the door.

No one.

It took five minutes for my heart to stop pounding, and still, an eerie feeling hung in the air.

Apparently, the battery had gone dead in my doorbell. Not a big deal, but it scared me half to death, which turned out to be a good thing. My creativity really kicked in after that. Story after story burst into my dreams, and I plotted two new novellas during the next two HOT weeks when my central air was out. Yes, that was more bad luck, but it gave me time to get more writing done.

I prefer to look at the positives, so that’s why I call my summer a wonderful nightmare. All it took was one crazy and frightening incident to spark my creative energies.

Read about my first release from The Wild Rose Press!

Three years ago, death blew out the candle in Alexis Hall’s life and left her devastated. Nothing could replace what she’d lost, not even the sexy stranger she awoke married to. Still, she finds it hard to ignore the dangerous sparks he triggers within her. She knows Bradley Cox took advantage of her. What she doesn’t know is he holds a secret that will change everything.

But Bradley isn’t her only concern. In a moment of desperation to somehow reclaim what she had lost, Alexis made an offer to a vampire––free blood. Her blood.

In a story of heartbreak and obsession, a simple ad changed Alexis' life forever and on one fateful night her dreams and her nightmares will collide. Can she trust Bradley? Or is he her worst mistake? Can she retract her offer to the vampire? Or will she fall under his deceptive spell?
About the Author:
I’m a small town girl from South Dakota. I gave up working with explosives to write paranormal romance novels so my occupation hasn’t changed much. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time with my family and two adorable Siamese cats.
Find Lisa online at

Anniversary Blog Fest: Margay Leah Justice


Summers of Old

I remember as a child thinking of summer as a passport to great adventures. Something wild and wonderful always seemed to happen during this time, making summer a magical time for me. I would look forward to it all year long and wonder what I would be doing this time. Would I be going to the Cape with my maternal grandmother or would our family be going to Virginia to stay with our paternal grandparents? Either way, I knew it was going to be good and I was going to make memories to last a lifetime.

The memories I have of these two places and the people who populated them are indelibly imprinted in my mind. When I think about my Cape adventures, I remember fun- filled days at the beach, going ‘clamming’ with my sister and selling our catch to a guy who owned a clam shack for 25 cents a clam. I remember bringing back a big carton of clams for my grandmother, who sat on a towel watching over us and looking like a movie star. I remember finding a ‘friend’ under our beach cabin and trying to coax it out with food, only to discover later that it wasn’t the cat we thought it was, but an albino skunk. And there were fun days at the park with my cousins, cookouts with the grownups, sleeping out on the screened-in porch and trying to listen in on the conversations the grownups were having while they thought we were asleep. I remember becoming such a part of the culture down there that I was able to go anywhere around town with my siblings and cousins and feel safe and as if we owned the place. It was a nice feeling.

I felt the same way about the county where my grandparents lived in the southwestern-most corner of Virginia, deep, deep into the mountains. I remember lazy days spent exploring the mountains, playing in the creek that ran through my grandparents’ property, being chased around by my uncle, visiting an endless supply of relatives. I remember always sitting down to a big meal three times a day (my grandmother did not approve of sandwiches), ‘helping’ in my grandmother’s gardens (she had a huge vegetable garden on one side of the side yard and an equally vast floral garden on the other), and just watching her prepare all these meals. It was fascinating for me to see someone as petite as my grandmother presenting such a commanding presence in her kitchen. Even the men didn’t bother her there! There are so many stories I could tell about my adventures there in Virginia – the good and the scary – but it would probably fill up a book!

Nowadays, I don’t get to go off on many adventures as the economy is bad and my budget doesn’t allow for it, but I will always have my memories of the wonderful times I used to have. I wonder if today’s generation can say the same.

About the Author:
Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Margay Leah Justice was fated to be a writer herself from a young age. But even before she knew that there was a name for what she was doing, she knew one thing: She had a deep and unconditional love for the written word. A love that would challenge her in times of need, abandon her in times of distress, and rediscover her in times of hope. Through her writing, Margay has learned to cope with every curve ball life has thrown her, including the challenges of single parenting, the harsh realities of living in a shelter, coping with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and the roller coaster ride of dealing with a child who suffers from bipolar disorder. But along the way she has rediscovered the amazing power of words.

Margay currently lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, two cats, and a myriad of characters who vie for her attention and demand that their own stories be told.

Find Margay online at

For more than a hundred and fifty years, the gray wolf has failed to roam the hills of Massachusetts, leading to the belief that they are extinct. But with a spattering of sightings across the Berkshires, the legend of the gray wolf comes to fruition. The product of that legend, Micah Sloane will go to great lengths to protect his kind from the threat of outsiders, who seek to exploit the legend for their own interests. One thing he didn’t count on, however, was finding his soul mate in the company of such men.

From the first time she predicted a stranger’s imminent death when she was little more than a child, Shiloh Beck knew she was different. Wishing to cultivate her gift, her parents made the fateful decision to enroll her in a private school for paranormally gifted children. Unbeknownst to them, the school was just a front for a research facility simply called the Institute, whose secret board members weaned gifted children from their families to exploit their gifts. Shiloh has spent the better part of her life trying to escape the Institute and reunite with the family she was told had abandoned her.

From their first meeting, Micah and Shiloh share a connection that goes beyond the normal to bond them in a way that love alone cannot. But before they can build a life together, they must deal with the fall-out when the legend of the wolves collides with the men behind the Institute.

Anniversary Blog Fest: Toni Noel


What I did during my summer vacation

Last summer we did Italy. This summer I had hand surgery. Not nearly as much fun.
I scheduled the much needed hand surgery for the last of May, which gave me a good two months without deadlines.

The surgeon relieved a repetitive stress injury by removing an arthritic bone at the base of my thumb, wrapped my hand and lower arm in a large bandage to keep the pin in my thumb from moving and sent me home the same day with a generous supply of pain killers and an ice bag.

The day he put my hand in a real cast my editor had emailed me to asked if she could move my February, 2013 release up to November, because she had a cancellation in her upcoming schedule. I said sure, although it meant Desert Breeze would be releasing two of my novels in November.

When I made the change on my calendar I realized my altered schedule meant I had two manuscripts due to my editor in four weeks, and me with a cast on my swollen left hand and still needing drugs.

I'd computed with one hand when I had the same surgery on my right thumb in 1993 and knew I could still work, just not efficiently. My cast made a habit of capitalizing words I hadn't intended and was responsible for numerous typos I had to edit, but I met my deadlines and completed final edits for my September release, Fairy Dusted during that time.

I soon discovered there were things I could do and things I couldn't do. I could type one handed. I couldn't tie my shoes. I couldn't smooth deodorant under my right arm.

I couldn't hook my bra and went braless for two months. To force the girls into D-cups was more than I could manage. Twice my husband completed the task so I could attend an RWA chapter meeting. The girls enjoyed their new-found freedom and any day I expect them to stage a bra burning. Not that I'd object. It takes far less time to dress not having to restrain and support them.

I couldn't squeeze the toothpaste, couldn't open some doors or brush the dog, had to stick with pants with elastic waists, and had trouble putting on my panties. I never could balance on one foot, and had always balanced with my left hand when donning underwear and slacks. Thanks to the surgery, I had to sit down to dress, and twice put my feet in the wrong holes and wound up wearing my underwear backwards all morning.

I couldn't drive. A published friend picked me up for meetings. When the cast-man removed the cast after 7 weeks and I tried to drive, my car wouldn't start and had to be towed. All three Volvo fuel pumps had taken a vacation, too.

Now I spend my days alternating ice and heat on my hand, going to therapy to control the swelling and teach my wrist to bend again, and booking blogs to promote my upcoming releases.

My hand will be fine, it's just a matter of time. Four long months. I didn't consider the lengthy rehab when I booked the surgery, my inability to play with my granddaughter with fingers that won't bend. It's hard to walk the dog or button a shirt one-handed, and almost impossible to be creative when my hand hurts.

I empathize with everyone who has lost the use of a hand.

You can follow Toni at:

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Anniversary Blog Fest: Mary Campisi


I grew up in a very small town in northwest Pennsylvania with two older brothers and a younger sister. There were no malls, no McDonalds, and one movie theater that closed in the summer to avoid competition with the drive-in. (One man owned both.) One thing this town did have was a wonderful library . . . about two miles away. I walked there at least once a week and fell in love with the characters and places I read about. Summer was my favorite time to escape in a book. I loved to read late at night when the entire house was asleep. It was just me and my characters as I stretched out on the bed and gulped down their story. Around 2:00 am or so, I crept downstairs and fixed a snack—cheese and crackers or peanut butter and crackers with a glass of milk. My parents never knew, which is a good thing since we weren’t supposed to eat in bed. I always got rid of the evidence (dishes and crumbs) long before morning.

When I read those books, I really got lost in the story, and now, when I’m writing my own stories, it’s still the very best place to me. Of course, in those days if I didn’t like the author’s ending, I re-worked it in my head until I did. Oh, how I wish I had recognized those writer tendencies pointing me toward my destiny. I didn’t, not for years….until one day…late in summer, I opened a moving box and discovered an old computer disk filled with 100 pages (single spaced) of a historical romance I’d started years before. From the very moment I popped that old disk into that ancient computer, I knew I had found my passion and I have never looked back.

About the Author:
Mary Campisi should have known she’d become a writer when at age thirteen she began changing the endings to all the books she read. It took several years and a number of jobs, including registered nurse, receptionist in a swanky hair salon, accounts payable clerk, and practice manager in an OB/GYN office, for her to rediscover writing. Enter a mouse-less computer, a floppy disk, and a dream large enough to fill a zip drive. The rest of the story lives on in every book she writes.

When she’s not working on her craft or following the lives of five young adult children, Mary’s digging in the dirt with her flowers and herbs, cooking, reading, walking her rescue lab mix, Cooper, or on the prefect day, riding off into the sunset with her very own “hero” husband, on his Electra Glide Classic aka Harley.

Mary has been published with Kensington, Carina Press, The Wild Rose Press, and Jocelyn Hollow Romance.

Find Mary online at






Anniversary Blog Fest: Angela Britnell



Some families have wonderful vacation memories of watching the sun set over the Grand Canyon or the time they saw the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace but my family's most lasting vacation memory revolves around humor. It only takes three words to make us fall around laughing all over again -- Banana Boat Ride.

For the uninitiated a banana boat is a large inflatable boat, shaped like a banana and colored bright yellow. It's big enough to seat half a dozen people and is towed behind a motor boat to give people a fun ride on the sea, close to the shore. That's the theory. In practice it can become an instrument of terror.

On holiday in Cornwall the resort where I stayed with my husband and three young sons was right on the beach. Of course someone spotted the banana boat rides being given around the bay and thought it would be a fun family thing to do together. I was talked into it -- you need to know I'm not a physically brave person at all -- and will admit it wasn't as bad as I'd expected. The problem came the next day. Once wasn't enough so the boys pleaded to do it again. I gave in, hoisted myself back onto the giant rubber object, held onto the handle in front of me and prepared for another ride.

Something was different that day and it didn't take long for fear to strike. The boat began to bounce like crazy and with my first scream came my laughing husband's observation that the waves were much rougher today. No kidding! I clung on until I lost all feeling in my hands -- convinced my life would end here in Pentewan Bay. I'd be flung off and they'd never find me -- all this raced through my head as I continued to scream. Of course my boys loved every minute, purposely bouncing to make it go higher and laughing fit to burst. Eventually we slowed down and the torture ended -- I thought.

It proved to be only the beginning of my agony. When I woke the next morning my thighs were in excruciating pain because I'd clamped them so hard against the boat in a desperate effort to stay on. I could barely walk and the sight of me limping along made my four heartless men crack up. They laughed on and off all day and fifteen years later it still only takes hearing those three dreaded words to set them off again.

So you can keep your more conventional vacation memories and I'll keep mine. My boys are all grown up now but those three magic words take me back to a special time - even if it is at my expense!

About the Author:
Angela grew up in England and joined the Royal Navy in order to meet her own tall, dark, handsome stranger, a US Naval Officer called Richard, while serving in Denmark. After multiple moves and having three sons she settled in Tennessee and has been trying to get used to the hot, humid summers ever since. A lifelong reader she did a creative class for fun and discovered a passion for writing. Her first novel Truth and Consequence was published in 2006 and she's also had short stories published in international magazines. She's had two contemporary romances published this year OPPOSITES ATTRACT and IT'S COMPLICATED and another due to be released in January 2013.

Find Angela online at

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Anniversary Blog Fest: Charmaine Gordon


A week at Cape May, NJ where I fell in love and reread two books
After a 3 hour drive, we--daughter, grandest granddaughter and I--arrived at the beautiful house within walking distance to the beach. The attractive white haired man, owner of the house, puttered around with a small mower and welcomed us. A flurry of activity as we scrambled for swim suits, beach gear and off to the beach. First the smell of the salt water, then the sound of waves crashing against the shore. A dream come true. Each year we make the trip piling up memories. No longer the big family but it’s okay. Now just three generations of women from me, the designated Granny, to my daughter and now her daughter, age 4 and a half. She’s in charge. Just ask her.

I settled in to reread my two last books, Reconstructing Charlie and the sequel, Sin of Omission, just released. Purpose, you might ask? I wanted to see if they held together and never had time before. Reading glasses in place, I slipped into the stories and time flew. Ah, they work and so well. My babies as I refer to my stories. Daughter called disturbing me to say it was time to leave the beach and go for dinner. The Grill at the ocean had great food and we were hungry.

Showering fast, we headed over and it was there I fell in love. After placing our orders, we wandered next door to look at displays and there he was. I tapped the glass container to indicate a frisky Hermit crab busy climbing up the side. A careful shopper, impulse buying has never been my habit but when I saw Playful—grandest named him—it was love at first sight. We purchased a cage complete with a little shell for fresh water and would you believe he needed another larger crab shell for him to grow into. How cute is that!!!

After a few days of activity Playful grew quiet and one morning we watched as he shed his shell and moved into the new one. Daughter and I cracked up with laughter while grandest cried and cried some more ‘til I finally explained it was similar to outgrowing a pair of shoes or. . . and she stopped crying.

So my love affair is not an erotic tale, but love is where you find it. If a small Hermit crab brings joy, that’s cool. And so is the handsome owner of the beach house who hung around all week mowing grass that didn’t need mowing. Hmm.!/CharJGordon

Anniversary Blog Fest: Susan Jaymes


Summertime Heat

This summer has been super-hot. Heat is normal for summer and it's hotter in some areas than others. Hundred degree temperatures is not normal for the state of Wisconsin. This summer there were too many days reaching the hundred degree mark. Hot and dry was the theme for July.

What does one do when it heats up? We live in air conditioning watching our flowers dry up and our grass turn to a drab brown except for the weeds. They thrive with heat for some reason. Has anyone figured out how they do that? I'm sure some scientist has. If they could figure out how to keep the temperatures comfortable year round, we'd all be grateful.

In the winter months, we envision ourselves sitting poolside with a fancy drink in our hand looking gorgeous in a stunning bikini with a golden tan. Hey it’s a vision in our heads. Our bodies are perfection in our bikinis.

Then spring arrives and we design beautiful flower gardens and plan for a bountiful fall harvest. We work hard on our spring projects hoping to finish early so we can enjoy a long summer. The days grow longer and the nights warmer. Then the heat comes.

This year by the end of June only the strong survived. The heat index reached to 120 more than once. The air too thick to almost breathe, kept us locked in doors with the air conditioners running non-stop. The easy summer days of our dreams, evaporated making us cranky.

I for one am not a winter fan. I don't like the cold, the wind or the snow. Why do I live in Wisconsin then? I married an ice fisherman. What was I thinking? That would be a different blog. Love does funny things to you.

However, for the first time I'm looking forward to winter. The white stuff doesn't sound too bad. A wind chill down to below zero almost sounds inviting. I'm envisioning myself snuggled up with a heavy blanket, comfy jogging pants, and a good romance book or a romantic comedy.

August is upon us now. Summer is almost done. My skin is still fairly white and my flowers are looking rather peaked. My grass is a unattractive shade of brown with healthy weeds scattered about. Even the trees are droopy. We've all had enough.

The heat of summer has taken on a whole new meaning this year. Mother Nature is a moody creature. However, I am thankful I only had to experience a scorching summer and not deadly tornadoes or wild fires like other states. There is always an upside to misery. Mine is looking forward to shorter days, rain and cooler weather.

How are you beating the crazy summer heat?

About the Author: Susan Jaymes has lived in Wisconsin her whole life. With three older brothers and too much time on her hands she fell in love with reading to take her away to faraway places. She dreamed of writing her own stories one day. When her two sons grew up and moved on in their own lives, she made her dream a reality. In her spare time she writes contemporary romances filled with emotional conflict and family drama. She enjoys time with her husband, her cats and a good drama.

Find Susan online at





Goodreads: httpwwwgoodreadscomsusan_jaymes

Buy Links:

Desert Breeze Publishing:


Barnes and Noble:

All Romance:

Anniversary Blog Fest: Beverly Wells


Hello and welcome to the Long and Short Reviews 5th Anniversary Blogfest and my very own blog about my amazing summer.

So much has happened since the mild winter in New York State faded earlier than expected. As May strolled in with blue skies, warm breezes, and bright sunshine I found my usual enthusiasm for planting flowers screaming to get started. I have what I call a walking-garden of pots and flowers along the back slope of our home, a medium size English garden to the side of the house, and a large slope where I’ve planted an abundance of lovely perennials. There’s also several small plantings around the property, plus several small gatherings of annual and perennials along various corners. After digging in the dirt, nourishing the soil, and sprucing up the beds I planted some new bushes, added a few more perennials and added spots of bright color with a multitude of annuals. The yard looked great! Of course in between all the playing in the dirt and slaving over the new plantings I did fit in revamping my upcoming book. That’s a given, even if my house cleaning went on the back shelf. And naturally I took the time to do some spring cleaning as well. You have to keep hubby happy as well as vacuum the dog hairs that seem to increase every second of each day.

I then took time out in May to improve and build on my writing career by traveling with my husband in tow to CT to spend two days at the CTRWA Fiction Fest. And it was well worth it learning how to hone my writing skills more, plus meeting some wonderful writers at the Fest and enjoyed the beautiful CT scenery. I also got to spend a day with my son’s mother-in-law and two lovely granddaughters in CT (my son and DOL were unfortunately away at the time).

June brought about a mad dash to start tagging for the Humane Society’s yard sale that would be on July 20th and 21st. I serve on the Board of Directors for the Shelter and let me tell you, it’s a working board. That means that not only do we handle business and board issues, but you’re expected to do fundraiser events as well. And there’s one or two every other week, so it keeps me hopping. This year was the second year that I was in charge of the yard sale. Hundreds of items started pouring in and continued until the day of the sale. Several times a week I’d spend at least 4 to 6 hours tagging and cramming the items into the shelter’s front sun porch or the main board room. I’m telling you the stuff filled every nook and cranny and got piled to 7 foot high. Other volunteers and members helped tagged which made it more fun, but it was mind-boggling and time-consuming to say the least. But the sale was a huge success. We made over $2000.00 and now the dogs and cats have propane to keep them warm during the cold months and food, etc., so I can say I’m happy it’s over, and we did a fine job. And I thank all those who made it possible with their time and/or their donations.

And yes, in between all this, I did more writing and research for upcoming books. But besides all that I’ve been doing local book signings for my debut historical romance Only When the Loon Sings. Since my heroine burned everything she first baked or cooked, I thought outside the box and did a number of them in bakeries, restaurants. What better place to do them? I did more in bookstores, art festivals, and wineries. You name it that’s where I did a signing. And they’ve been fantastic. I’ve had good responses from all and had a blast doing them.

Last, but not least, my son and his family, plus his best friends and their children came for a two week visit. Oh, we had so much fun. My two granddaughters and the other children took a sailing course at the yacht club—all passed with flying colors. They swam every minute of the day unless they were wake boarding or chowing down. It was a fun time for all. Now we have Florida friends visiting for a few days and that’s some more fun.

Oops, I forgot to mention that everyday Jamie (our rescued black lab mix) and I walk several miles every day on our lake road. He thoroughly enjoys meeting people and other doggie friends along the way and afterwards I get to eat chocolate since I got in my exercise. Well, hey, you like chocolate, don’t you? I crave it! It’s needed substance for any writer.

Thanks so much visiting and I hope you had an equally delightful summer as I did. LOL, Bev

About the Author:
Hello, and welcome to my Bio. It’s a different world for me lately as I’m a new author. It’s both exciting and scary for me. But hey, I’m game for adventure of any kind, so here I am. My debut historical romance Only When the Loon Sings through The Wild Rose Press was released in January. That’s the exciting part. The scary part is that I’m not computer savvy. I’m having to learn websites, facebook, twitter, blogs, goodreads, different review sites and all sorts of various promo for the ebook as well as the print book. YIKES! Yes, it is scary. I plow through internet as if I were dizzy and in a maze and don’t know which way is which. But I am learning—slowly--with help of many gracious authors, friends, and technical people. They’ve all had the patience of saints as they lead me along.

Let me tell you a little about myself. For many years I worked as a nurse with the majority being in homecare and clinics for Public Health. I’ve loved every minute of it. And yes, I used the computer for charting my nursing visits, etc, but never did much more than that. Though I’m now retired from Public Health, I still keep my hand into nursing by privately contracting with them to occasionally do their flu clinics. I also serve as a member of the Medical Reserve Corps for Homeland Security, heaven forbid if there should ever be another disaster like 911. Let’s hope we never have another such catastrophe

As a child I was always fascinated with Cinderella-type stories, but only read occasionally. Oh, I read the required books throughout school and college, but only what was required. Then I suffered a back injury that required surgery and a long recuperation. My friend loaned me numerous romance novels so I wouldn’t go stark raving mad. Well, I fell in love with each and every book I read. But then I read one that was a fantastic read until the very end. A very rushed end. I was so angry. I thought to myself—if she’d only added ten more pages I could’ve been satisfied. That’s when I decided to write one that wouldn’t leave my readers hanging. But I didn’t know the ropes back then. I was a nurse. What in heaven’s name was POV(Point of View)? And did the heroine and hero really have to meet by a certain page? Good grief! And why didn’t anyone ever tell me that a 895 page romance novel was way too long? I started from the very bottom of the ladder and work my way up to learn all these things when all I wanted to do was write a "good book." So I wrote to my favorite authors and asked how to go about learning what I obviously needed to know. I was told to join RWA and a local writing chapter. That was GOLD! Now I belong to Romance Writers of America, LCRW (my local chapter), and CTRWA(CT chapter.) It still took a long time to get it all straight and learn to tighten my prose, but here I am. Now I write historical romance, devour romance novels, garden, cook, swim, and enjoy family and friends. I also love Nascar, dogs and chocolate.

If you’d like to read my full bio, and/or more, please visit my website. I’m also on FB and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you.

Anniversary Blog Fest: Amanda Usen


How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It has actually been a backwards vacation for me! When the kids are in school, I write during the day, but when they are home…I bribe them! The first thing I did was print out calendars of the summer months and tape them to a poster board. Then the kids and I brainstormed all the fun things we love to do during the summer: blueberry picking, going to Fantasy Island, baking treats, visiting my family in Cincinnati, etc. By the time we were done, we had enough ideas for every day of summer! But I wrote at the top of the poster: Mom works until ten am.

It had to be done.

Everyone in the family knows I get a little squirrelly when I have deadlines and I don’t have time to work. Since my second culinary romance, Luscious, was coming out in July, I had to plan ahead. There were over a dozen stops on my blog tour to write, a Luscious release party at Arrowhead Spring Vineyards to plan, a Barnes & Noble book signing to survive and tons of stuff to pack for the Romance Writers of America Conference in Anaheim. I was freaking out, but I was determined to be fun mom, not crazy mom, this summer. Balance is my mantra! And my yoga intention. And my nemesis…

Next up is our Cincinnati visit. My oldest begged to go down to my father’s log cabin in Kentucky, so we’re planning a day trip across the river while we’re there. While the kids are running wild with their cousins, I’m going to hunker down with an entire pint of Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream. I dream about Graeter’s ice cream. I haven’t found its equal anywhere, and I try a lot of ice creams. Their chocolate chip flavors are unique. Eating them is like mining for chocolate gold. At any moment you might come up with a nugget the size of a bird’s egg – and it’s the good stuff. The chocolate melts in your mouth, even when your tongue is cold because you’ve already worked your way through half the pint. Usually I line up a smorgasbord of chip flavors: Mocha Chip, Peanut Butter Chip, Toffee Chip, Coconut Chip. Mom says they have a new Cherry Chip flavor, but I am set on the deep purple, sweet-tart-chocolate Black Raspberry. Mine! All mine! The kids will have to choose their own flavors. We’ll follow up the ice cream with a Skyline Chili cheese coney chaser – perhaps an unusual order of operations, but it’s important to have priorities.

Priorites. Balance. Ice cream. If you throw in Chardonnay and heirloom tomatoes, that sums up my summer vacation. Our calendar is covered with fun summer memories and the kids now know how to make their own breakfasts. A summer full of win that lends credence to my mothering motto: never underestimate the power of a well-thought-out bribe!

About the Author:Amanda Usen knows two things for certain: chocolate cheesecake is good for breakfast and a hot chef can steal your heart. Her husband stole hers the first day of class at the Culinary Institute of America. She married him after graduation in a lovely French Quarter restaurant in New Orleans, and they spent a few years enjoying the food and the fun in the Big Easy. Now they live in Western New York with their three children, one hamster, two guinea pigs, a tortoise and a new-to-them beagle. Amanda spends her days teaching pastry arts classes and her nights writing romance. If she isn’t baking or writing, she can usually be found chasing the kids around the yard with her very own luscious husband. If you want to chat about romance, writing or recipes, please visit her at where you can find recipes for many of the yummy dishes in her books. She can also be found on Facebook and Twitter!/AmandaUsen

Eat, play, love

Plain old ice cream just isn't going to cut it. To beat these blues, chef Olivia Marconi needs the good stuff: rich, creamy tiramisu gelato. And no place better to get it than Italy. But a fresh start is nearly impossible with Sean Kindred dogging her every move. She's been burned by his too-hot-to-handle antics before. Though there's no denying the man can still get her all fired up. Could a weeklong affair finally turn into something more lasting...or will it all go up in flames?