Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look!

Monday, January 30, 2012

GUEST BLOG: C.H. ADMIRAND

How Did An East Coast Girl Get Hooked on Cowboys? Well, why don’t you pull up a chair while I brew you a cup of tea—this might take awhile…

It all started when I was just a kid—most obsessions begin either early in one’s life or due to a traumatic/major event in one’s life. Mine began one wintry Saturday morning. My dad loved to watch cartoons with us. It used to make my mom nuts—there was no getting us out of the living room and away from the TV if Dad was in there with us. His favorite cartoons were Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote, but there were Westerns on TV, too! Dad got me hooked on the Roy Rogers Show and John Wayne movies. To me these heroes were larger than life, did what was right, and seldom stopped to ask questions. Take charge men who weren’t afraid to use their fists to do the talking when the bad guys weren’t listening. Life was definitely simpler back then.

I started reading the TV schedule to see if there would be any cowboy movies on one of the daily movie channels: The Million Dollar Movie (Channel 9) or The 4:30 Movie (Channel 7). And before you ask, yes we had remotes back then—I was usually the closest to the TV, so I was the remote. When asked, I’d get up and change the channel. :-)

My dad was born in a little village outside of Denver, Colorado, a place called Louviers. It was a DuPont town, most of the residents worked for DuPont. Whenever he spoke about growing up out West, my imagination was right there with him, sneaking out his bedroom window when his mom (my Gram) would close her eyes in the middle of the day, and running hell-bent-for-leather across the open prairie. He had a souvenir that he picked up and my grandparents had stuffed for him—a Horned Toad—I don’t remember if it was alive at the time. As a kid I was fascinated by it—even though the stuffing was starting to come out and a leg or two threatened to fall off.

So when I was in high school and our folks decided we’d be driving cross-country to California, stopping off in Colorado to see where Dad was born—I couldn’t wait! To this day that will always be my favorite family vacation. I’m not sure my sisters or brother would agree, but to me it was paradise; seeing the Alamo in the pouring rain, tucked in alongside huge buildings, left a lasting impression. I have no idea why I thought it would be standing all alone out in the middle of nowhere—that must have been the Hollywood image in my brain—because I was also hoping to see Davy Crocket (played by Fess Parker…not the John Wayne version) standing guard. A wild imagination has never been a problem for me. LOL!

I loved the beauty of the West: skies so blue it actually hurt your eyes, air so hot we got sunburned at 5:00 in the afternoon while visiting the Sonora Desert Museum—yeah the Tarantula and Scorpion scared the you-know-what out of me! The colors of the Painted Desert were warm and inviting, while the Grand Canyon was amazingly austere—so huge and so deep. I’m not a fan of heights. The Petrified Forest was another highlight for me. So much of the desert appealed to me, I’m not sure if I could live there, but I’d love to go back.

All of the sights, sounds, and experiences just added to the allure of the American cowboy and his way of life for me. I’m still a sucker for a man with broad shoulders and working-man hands. A man who isn’t afraid to pit his strength and stubbornness against nature and come out on top! Oh and just FYI, in a battle against Aliens…Cowboys always win—they know how to fight dirty when it counts!

Thanks for inviting me today. If you want to read more about my books or me, stop by my website at www.chadmirand.com or follow me on Facebook - www.facebook.com/CHAdmirand and Twitter- www.twitter.com/CHAdmirand.

DYLAN BY C.H. ADMIRAND – IN STORES JANUARY 2012
There was nothing he couldn’t tame…
Dylan Garahan might be an old hand at lassoing fillies, but one night at the Lucky Star club, and he ends up wrapping his rope around someone that even his formidable strength can’t tame. She’s wily and beautiful… and she’s his new boss. Dylan’s had his heart broken bfore, but even an honest cowpoke has to wrestle with temptation…
Until he got his lasso around her…
Ronnie DelVecchio might be fresh off the bus from New Jersey, but she’s a hard-edged businesswoman and has had her fill of men she can’t trust—although she might consider getting off her high horse for that big handsome rancher with a Texas drawl.
About the Author:
C.H. Admirand was born in Aiken, South Carolina. She has published 9 bestselling novels for the library market. Her Secret Life of Cowboy series, published by Sourcebooks Casablanca includes Tyler (available now), Dylan (in stores January 2012) and Jesse (in stores July 2012). She lives with her husband, who is the inspiration for all of her heroes’ very best traits, in northern New Jersey. For more information, please visit www.CHAdmiarand.com or follow her on twitter, @chadmirand.

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for one of two copies of Dylan. US and Canada residents only please.

Friday, January 27, 2012

GUEST BLOG: DANIELLE THORNE

What I Learned From a Hobbit

Part of being a good writer is being a reader, and I don't often get the chance to indulge in reading for pleasure these days. It's ironic, since books have been my biggest inspiration in life. Recently, I sat down for almost three days and indulged myself in a Lord of the Rings marathon. As much as I would have liked to have time to actually sit down and read the books (and I plan to with my ten year old who let me read The Hobbit to him last year), I did get a lot out of the movie and took some time to reflect on the beauty of Tolkien's imagination and the wisdom in his messages.

Every time I write a story, whether it's a romance or some far flung adventure, I am conscious of the messages that I send out with my characters. While I'm certainly no genius at integrating life changing morals into epic tales, I am fully aware of the impact of what my stories say. It's my hope that with my sea adventures, the reverence I have of the oceans comes through the pages. With Historicals, I strive to bring the beauty and innocence of the past to life. So many lessons behind us have been forgotten. Maybe in his own way, that's what Tolkien was trying to do, too.

Here are ten things that I have learned from the hobbits of the Shire:

Life was meant to be an adventure.
Never, never, never quit.
Faith will always find a way.
There is no greater gift than a loyal friend.
Power is a heavy burden to those who are true, and a weapon for the wicked.
No one is flawless.
To die with a friend, is to go in peace.
Trees have feelings, too.
To choose not to act, is to fail what is right.
There is no place like home…

I know there are more messages, all more profound, in the story of Frodo and his ring that I haven't even begun to unravel. I wish I'd taken the time to jot down my thoughts as I watched the films, but that they still linger on my mind is proof of the profound influence a good book can have. I wish each of you a wonderful new year full of books (and epic film interpretations) that bring inspiration, wisdom, happiness -- and yes, adventure.

Danielle Thorne
Author of Historical and Contemporary Romantic Adventures
www.DanielleThorne.com
Follow my blog! http://www.thebalancedwriter.blogspot.com
About the Author: Danielle Thorne is the author of sweet romantic adventure books, both historical and contemporary. She currently writes from south of Atlanta, Georgia. Besides contract editing and writing full time, Danielle has four sons with her husband, Rob. Together they enjoy travel and the outdoors.

Backlist
THE PRIVATEER (Desert Breeze Publishing)
BY HEART AND COMPASS (Desert Breeze Publishing)
JOSETTE (Whimsical Publications)
TURTLE SOUP (Smashwords)
SOUTHERN GIRL, YANKEE ROOTS (Willow Moon Publishing)
Coming Soon: DEATH CHEATER, February 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KAT DUNCAN

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Please click on the banner for a complete list of tour stop. Kat will be awarding a gift basket worth over $15 of Irish items to one randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada only please).
Please tell us a little about yourself...

I'm a creation extremist and avid explorer of knowledge. I value creativity, am a non-conformist and a die-hard do-it-yourselfer. When I turn my attention to a topic, I explore it thoroughly, turning over every convention, questioning and examining in a Socratic way until I understand. And then I seek out ways to share what I’ve learned with others. I have a variety of interests and friends who often fall into factions that can’t seem to understand one another except that they all have a common friend in me. I’m a naturally optimistic person and have trouble understanding human emotions of greed and anger. I believe that negative emotions like these are due to some underlying fear that, once confronted, can be overcome.

Please tell us a little about your book....

Stalked by a killer bent on stealing her laboratory notebook, scientist Molly Augur is desperate to figure out who she can and cannot trust. With the help of co-researcher Bill Banely, she uses DNA technology she invented to prove she can release hidden ancestral memories. In the brain synapses of her mind she finds one person who may know the truth - her long dead ancestor, Mailsi, whose life memories have been recorded in the depths of Molly’s genes.

Ancient passions and betrayals come alive and collide with the present when Molly discovers philanthropist Dr. Philman, with a secret billion dollar need for the technology only she possesses could be the one after her notebook. And Bill, whose wandering heart she has finally won, is working for Philman. In the face of limitless money, what is the value of Bill’s love? Or the value of her life? The answers lie deep within the synapses of her mind.

What inspired you to pen this particular novel?

I had one of those "what if" moments when I thought about all the as yet unidentified genes in DNA and what knowledge they might hold. Scientists speculate that all of those genes that are now inactive were at one time actively being used. I wondered what they were used for and whether unlocking them would reconnect us with our ancestors and their memories. Synapse explores some interesting possibilities for our own DNA to help us understand who we truly are. It also shows us that no matter what we learn about the past, it is our own choices right now that create our future.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer in high school when I wrote a poem that was read aloud to the class. Before that I hadn't really written anything that was delivered to an audience. When the class commented positively on the poem and asked me questions to explore its meanings, writing suddenly had a whole new aspect for me: entertaining readers. I was hooked.

How do you keep your story flowing?

With action. For me the most engaging stories have lots of things happening. By that I don't mean violent fights, car chases and thrilling roller coaster rides. I want the characters to be doing something, not sitting around thinking. Even when Molly and Bill are thinking about what's happened to them, or trying to figure out what to do next, they are busy doing things.

Do you ever run into writer's block, and if so, what do you do to get past it?

I've only once run into writer's block and I turned to my part time writing partner for help. I was having trouble finishing a manuscript set in medieval Scotland. I just got stuck about a third of the way through. No problem, I just shifted my attention to other projects thinking the words would come when they were ready. But they didn't and many months went by before I could face that manuscript. After he wrote a synopsis of the story in modern terms, I was able to push through and see what I needed to write. So if you are stuck with writer's block don't suffer in silence, ask for help!

What is your writing process like? Do you have any quirks, or must-haves to write?

No quirks or must-haves, but I'm fickle, so I need to have several projects going at once. I might be brainstorming one story, drafting another, editing a third, polishing a forth, etc. I write medieval historicals as well as romantic suspense, so I can flip time-frames as well as writing tasks and that keeps my brain and my writing fresh.

Where do you hope your books/writing will be in the future?

I'm interested in some mainstream topics right now, such as politics and economics. I'm also into cross genres, in fact, Synapse is a bit of sci-fi a bit of romance and a bit of suspense all rolled into one. I'd also love to get back to my fantasy novel series. It's a sweeping classic fairies, dragons, elves and sorcerers story and should be a lot of fun to share.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I hope they will be whisked away to a different world for a little while and come away with a new way of looking at things.

What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer." –Barbara Kingsolver

What is one piece of advice you would give to new and aspiring writers?

Be selfish. Don't carve out little bits of spare time to write. Let writing take over your life. You won't regret it. If you really have the desire to write, your family and friends will understand. And do take the time to learn the craft, you may be born with talent, but craft will make your books stand out.

Are you currently working on any new projects? What can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on a contemporary romance novella, a mainstream political novel about the origins of the US Constitution, as well as another medieval historical.

Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me today. It's been a pleasure having you and I wish you much success in the future.
About the Author: Kat Duncan is a creation extremist who is doing her best to identify human creativity and free it from captivity, one student at a time. As a young child, Kat once tried to confess the telling of her stories to her parish priest because she thought they fit the definition the nuns gave for telling a lie. With her lies fully sanctioned and blessed by church authorities, Kat has been telling her lies ever since and writing stories to entertain and enlighten. After a successful career as a software engineer, Kat decided she needed something different to do. She's now a tutor of adolescents with special needs.
Find the Author Online:
Web: http://www.katduncan.net
Blog: http://www.katduncan.net/writeabout
Twitter: @write_about
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/writeabout

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KETA DIABLO

This is a stop of the Virtual Blog Tour. Please leave a comment to be entered into the drawing for a download of the winner's choice of any of Keta's books, excluding Dark Night of the Moon.
About Dark Night of the Moon:
Dark Night of the Moon is the second book in the series and the sequel to Holding on to Heaven.

Creed Gatlin flees to Arizona intent on eradicating the haunting memories of his brother’s wife. Brand Gatlin, presumed dead, resurfaces after a long absence and with his re-emergence, the destinies of those he loves is altered forever.

In a land rife with war and danger, Sage must travel to the village of her husband’s People. There, she is reunited with Crooked Back, the ancient healer. On the long trek back to Full Circle, devious plots are underfoot and peril lurks around every corner for Sage, Lauren and Peter Pa.

Dark Night of the Moon will take you on an unforgettable journey of war, violence, overwhelming grief, and finally, love.

* * *


Hello everyone,

Thanks so much for stopping by today for my blog tour! I'm really excited about the release of Dark Night of the Moon. Did you know the novel is a wolf shapeshifter? Why do you think we're so fascinated by shapeshifting -- the ability of man (woman) to turn into animals? I'm really intrigued with wolf-shifters and bird-shifters, though not entirely there yet on rodent shifters and bear shifters. I suppose there's an audience for everything though –lol.

The wolf in Dark Night of the Moon is a gray wolf. In wolf form he’s called Wa-kan-man-nee or Walking Spirit. I spent considerable time learning about this species and dug up some interesting facts you might enjoy. The gray wolf (Canis lupus) is also known as the Arctic wolf, common wolf, Mexican wolf, Plains wolf, timber wolf, and Tundra wolf. At one time, they were the world's most widely distributed mammal, but they've become extinct now in much of Western Europe, Mexico and the US. Their packs have been reduced by almost one-third over the years because we've been led to believe they prey on livestock and humans. In actuality, it's very rare for humans to be attacked by a wolf.

More intriguing facts about the gray wolf:

* Genetic studies confirm the gray wolf is the ancestor of a domestic dog
* They wear their prey down by chasing them until they tire and then attack
* They’re capable of running at speeds of 35-38 miles an hour and can continue at that pace for 20 minutes.
* Their stomachs can hold up to 20 pounds of food and 8 quarts of water (Wow! we're talking serious eating here)
* Mated pairs stay together for life unless one dies (then it's "I'm moving on” time)

* Their sense of smell is weak, but their hearing is very keen. They can hear leaves falling from quite a distance.
* Their jaws are extremely powerful. They kill by biting large chunks of flesh from their prey thereby producing massive blood loss
* Wolves howl to either assemble the pack or to sound the alarm
If you read Dark Night of the Moon, I thought it would be interesting to know about the gray wolf while you turn the pages. I hope you enjoy the book, and wish everyone much luck in the contest! Don't forget to leave your e-mail address in the comment section below in case you win. The blog host will be selecting a winner when the tour is over. Winner will be sent an e-mail and announced on this blog.

Don't forget to leave a short review on Amazon if you read the book, and I'd love for you to follow my blog so you know about all future releases: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com.

Have a great week everyone,
http://www.twitter.com/ketadiablo
About the Author::
Keta is a multi-published author of paranormal and historical romance and gay fiction. In 2009, her erotic romance Decadent Deceptions was a finalist in the RWA Molly contest. In 2010, Keta's entry Phoenix Rising finaled in the Scarlet Boa contest and in 2011 Keta's acclaimed paranormal shifter, Where The Rain is Made, was nominated by Authors After Dark for a Bookie Award and by Deep In The Heart of Romance for Best Romance of the Year.

Many of her books, including her gay fiction series CROSSROADS, have won numerous awards: Top Reviewer's Pick, Recommended Read and Best Book of the Month.

If you'd like to know more about Keta and her latest releases, she haunts the Net here:

Keta's Keep Blog, http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ketadiablo
Facebook Fan page: http://www.facebook.com/KetaDiablo.Author
Gay Fiction Blog: http://thestuffofmythandmen.blogspot.com

Friday, January 20, 2012

SPECIAL GIVEAWAY POST!!!

Randomly, Long and Short Reviews will have a special post on one of their blogs... and it's all about giving things away. Today, anyone who comments on this post will be entered into a drawing for a $5 Amazon GC. Also, all the comments will count double towards our monthly prize of a $50 GC. All you have to do is answer the following question: Who is your favorite author?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GUEST BLOG: ELISABETH NAUGHTON

I’m so excited to be here at the Long & Short Reviews today!

Long before I was romance writer—or reader—I was a Soap addict. Not all Soap Operas, mind you, just one: Days Of Our Lives. It was a sick obsession. So sick, in fact, in college I used to schedule my classes around the show. I gave up Soap Operas about the time I found my first romance novel, but every once in a while, in the middle of the day, I’ll flip on the TV and watch for a few seconds. And whenever I do, I always find myself remembering just what it was about those Soaps that hooked me at an early age: the emotional angst, the mystery and suspense, the action and sexy characters. All the things I love in my romance novels today.

One of my favorite Soap story lines was the amnesia plot. When the hero woke up not knowing who he was. This storyline sucked me in every time because I couldn’t wait to see if he’d ever get his memory back. How would his family react to seeing him alive? Would he fall in love with the same woman? Would he be the same or different? I remember spending hours in front of the TV waiting to find out if John Black really was Roman Brady on Days of Our Lives. And when the answer wasn’t what I wanted, I made up my own alternate ending. (This should have been my first clue I was destined for a career as a writer, but, alas, it took several years for me to clue in.)

There’s something both romantic and mysterious about a character who can’t remember who they once were, and that fascination obviously rings true because shows like Once Upon A Time and movies like Unknown are employing the same amnesia plot lines today. Amnesia story lines can—and have been—worked into any genre, from paranormals to contemporaries to thrillers. So long as the amnesia element creates questions, readers (and viewers) can’t wait to find the answers. They keep reading (and watching), which is why writers (Soap Opera writers and mainstream writers) keep on writing them.

My latest release, WAIT FOR ME, is a contemporary romantic suspense with an amnesia twist.

A woman without a past…

After a tragic accident left her with no memory, Kate Alexander struggled to fit in with a husband and world that didn’t feel right. She’s had no reason to question what friends and family have told her, not until her husband is suddenly killed and she finds a photo of a young girl in his office. A girl who can’t be anyone but a daughter Kate didn’t know she had.

A man desperate for a reason to live…

Ryan Harrison lost his wife in a plane crash five years ago. To cope with the pain of her loss, he dedicated himself to his job and to raising their daughter. Now a successful pharmaceutical executive, Ryan has everything a man could want—money, fame and power—but he’d give it all up in a heartbeat for just one more day with the woman he still loves.

Two lives about to converge.

As Kate begins to dig into a past she doesn’t remember, evidence leads her to San Francisco and puts her on the path toward Ryan, a man who sees in her the woman he loved and lost. Kate feels a draw to Ryan, one she can’t explain, but is that feeling enough to convince her this is where she’s supposed to be? As Ryan and Kate search for answers, they uncover lies long buried, a passion hotter than either expected and a danger that threatens…even now…when the second chance they’ve both been searching for is finally within reach.

“Full of twists and turns, lies and deception, and the ultimate revenge, WAIT FOR ME is a great romantic suspense read.” —Night Owl Reviews, Top Pick
Are you a fan of amnesia stories? What do you like about them? I’m giving away a copy of WAIT FOR ME to one lucky winner today so leave me a comment to be entered in the drawing!

***


A former junior high science teacher, Elisabeth Naughton traded in her red pen and test tube set for a laptop and research books. She now writes sexy romantic adventure and paranormal novels full time from her home in western Oregon where she lives with her husband and three children. Her work has been nominated for numerous awards including the prestigious RITA® awards by Romance Writers of America, the Australian Romance Reader Awards, The Golden Leaf and the Golden Heart. When not writing, Elisabeth can be found running, hanging out at the ballpark or dreaming up new and exciting adventures. Visit her at www.ElisabethNaughton.com to learn more about her and her books.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

GUEST BLOG: VICTORIA CONNELLY

Tell us about the experience of seeing your first book turned into a movie.

It was an amazing experience! My first book – Flights of Angels – was published in Germany - although it’s now available as an ebook worldwide – and my husband and I flew out to Berlin to see it being filmed. We got to meet the actors and even got to be extras in the film which was incredibly exciting, and the finished product was so lovely. My story is about a young widow who has a group of tiny guardian angels to take care of her and the way they’d filmed the angels was so cute and funny. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.

What led you into writing Austen-related fiction?

I wanted to explore what it was like to be a Jane Austen addict in the modern world. A lot of Austen-related fiction deals with fans who suddenly spiral back in time to Regency England but I hadn’t read anything about modern-day fans other than The Jane Austen Book Club. I’m an Austen fan myself and I wanted to talk to other fans and find out why her books are still so popular 200 years after their first publication.

I’d also been visiting lots of beautiful Jane Austen locations: Chawton in Hampshire, Lyme Regis in Dorset and the gorgeous Georgian city of Bath. They inspired me to write about them and I thought they’d be great settings for my trilogy. It was also a fabulous excuse to read all the books again and watch all the film adaptations – in the name of work, you understand!

What's your favorite part(s) about living in London? Least favorite things about it?

Actually, I’ve just left London for rural Suffolk and I’m much happier in the countryside! I lived in London for eleven years and it was great to be able to attend publishers’ parties and meet all my writer friends. I also adored the fabulous museums and art galleries but I found living there very noisy. There are just so many people all the time and we didn’t have enough space either. We now have a lovely big garden for our hens and dog (with plans to get more of each!) and I can see fields full of horses from my study window! I’m much happier here – you can’t help but be inspired by the beauty and I hope to write many more novels here.

Victoria Connelly grew up in Norfolk before attending Worcester University where she studied English Literature. After graduating, she worked her way through a number of jobs before becoming a teacher in North Yorkshire. In 2000, she got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and moved to London.

Although having had articles and short stories published, it was only when Flights of Angels was published that Victoria was able to realize the dream of becoming a professional writer. Bought in a bidding war between five publishers and released as Unter deinem Stern in Germany, the novel was made into a film for television by award-winning Ziegler Film. Her second novel, The Unmasking of Elena Montella (Wenn es dich gibt), was published in 2007 and her third, Three Graces (Wohin mit der Liebe), was published in 2009.

Her first novel to be published in the UK – Molly’s Millions – came out in 2009. She is currently working on a trilogy about Jane Austen addicts. The first, A Weekend with Mr. Darcy, was published in the UK by Avon, HarperCollins, and was published in the US by Sourcebooks in July 2011. The second in the trilogy, The Perfect Hero, was published in the UK in April 2011 and will be published in the US as Dreaming of Mr. Darcy. The third book, Mr. Darcy Forever, will be published in the US in April 2012.

Her next book to be published in the UK will be The Runaway Actress – a romantic comedy about a movie star who swaps Hollywood for the Highlands.

Victoria’s three fantasy rom coms, previously published in Germany, are now available in English on Kindle and other ebook formats.

She lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a springer spaniel and ex-battery hens.

Friday, January 13, 2012

GUEST BLOG: DONNA DEL ORO

THE FUN AND CHALLENGE OF ON-SITE RESEARCH
Is there a correlation between a novel’s verisimilitude and the on-site research that the author does to make the story come alive? You bet there is. Having boots on the ground, so to speak, affords a writer the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere of a place: The sights, sounds, smells, micro-weather changes, and the flow of traffic and people. In essence, the local color and vagaries.

Not to mention, being on-site inspires a lot of ideas for plot and characterization. In June of 2009, my sister and I took a 12-day Globus motorcoach tour that began in London and took in southwest England, Wales, Cornwall, the Republic of Ireland and eventually parts of Scotland. As the motorcoach, full of passengersd from all over the English-speaking world, toured from country to country, our escort guide regaled us with the history, economics, politics and local lore of the area. In addition to learning a lot, we tasted the various fares, tipped a few pints of the local ales and beers, and realized the unique qualities of each region. From the beauty of Cornish farms to the Welsh red-dragon flag, each area bespoke its own quaint history.

This trip was strictly a vacation but before long, ideas for a spy mystery-thriller began spouting like a fountain of muses. Imagine, I thought to myself, an FBI agent recruited by MI-5 to go undercover and investigate an elderly, naturalized American grandmother, suspected of war crimes during World War II. I knew my World War II history, knew that the Republic of Ireland was neutral during the war and that German U-boats sometimes surfaced in the Irish Sea, occasionally dropped off Nazi spies, and even stopped to share some pints of ale with the local Irish. I also knew that the Allied countries of the war had never stopped hunting for Nazi war criminals, and that some of those very Nazis had immigrated to the U.S. under false identities.

Imagine that an elderly woman and her granddaughter could be passengers on a similar motorcoach tour, visiting the grandmother’s home country of Ireland one last time. What if the grandmother, due to coincidences of name and origin, is suspected of being a ruthless Nazi spy, never caught by the Allies, and who allegedly has spent the past sixty-five years of her life in a cocoon of lies?

What if the handsome, single FBI agent, Jake Bernstein—a Jewish-American whose German-born grandfather had narrowly escaped the death camps—finds himself attracted to the suspect’s beautiful granddaughter, Meg? To what extent is Jake tempted to compromise his investigation because of his budding relationship with Meg? Yet, by-the-book Bernstein considers himself fair-minded, and wouldn’t let anything or anyone interfere with an objective investigation. What if the clever, cagey grandmother stays one step ahead of Jake’s investigation? How does she manage that?

Thus was born my first spy thriller, A BODYGUARD OF LIES. The sights and smells I experienced made their way, of course, into the story. In fact, the very personal experiences I had during that tour evoked so many plot points and scenes that my notebook was smoking at the end of each day. First-hand experiences, nearly not as exciting as the story I envisioned, were sometimes not enough. In certain chapters, for example, such as Cardiff, Killarney and the Irish Stud Farm, I supplemented first-hand experiences with city maps and tourist brochures.

In capturing the dialect of the local people, however, on-site experience was vital. I doubt the local jaunty cart driver realized that I was capturing nearly word-for-word his little, humorous spiel. Yep, his schtick showed up in my novel and still makes me laugh when I read it. Had I not walked the streets of Killarney, I would never have known that two Saint Mary churches were located near each other. One was a Catholic cathedral and the other was a small, Episcopalian church. That distinction played an important role in my story and helped to convince Jake Bernstein that Mary McCoy Snider wasn’t who she claimed to be. I kept filling my notebooks as the plot and characters crystallized in my mind, each little detail of local life inspiring another plot point or character quirk.

Our later visit to Hannover, Germany to visit our good German friends, the Sandrocks and their daughter, Steffi, resulted in the chapters set in Berlin and Hannover. Learning that Hannover, in northern Germany, was 90% destroyed by Allied bombs during WW II helped me to add nuances of sympathy and depth to otherwise stock neo-Nazi characters. The Engesohde cemetery in Hannover became the site of the story’s shattering climax. I could not have written those scenes without walking the very steps taken by Meg and her grandmother.

Researching the history online or in books, for me, is never enough. For me, the story and characters come alive more believable—and more enjoyably as a writer—when I can travel in my characters’ footsteps. See what they see, hear what they hear, and so on. I know that my stories benefit greatly from going the extra mile.

About the Author: Donna Del Oro spent her childhood in two places, Silicon Valley, CA and the countryside of East Texas, as her father tried several job opportunities. Finally settling in Silicon Valley, she grew up in a bilingual, bi-cultural world--Spanish on her mother's side and English on her father's. Comfortable in both worlds, she decided upon retiring from teaching to write about her Hispanic side. Four women's fiction books resulted and a series about professional singers, their careers and love lives. Retired and devoting much of her abundant free time to exercise, writing, singing and her grandson, Donna has finally reached a point in life that totally satisfies her. Life is good and she has no complaints, just a lot of gratitude for her many blessings.

Find Donna online at:
www.DonnaDelOro.com

Lady Justice has a long memory as FBI analyst Jake Bernstein investigates a suspected Nazi spy wanted for war crimes. A BODYGUARD OF LIES is a riveting blend of romantic thriller, mystery and WWII espionage. A Jewish-American FBI analyst, Jake Bernstein, is recruited by MI-5 to go undercover and investigate a naturalized American grandmother. The elderly woman is suspected by MI-5 of being a notorious Nazi spy wanted for war crimes. Jake Bernstein runs into a series of complications: This spy knows a secret that could endanger the British royal family; his attraction to the old woman’s beautiful granddaughter; an Irish, neo-Nazi group tries to kill him; and all the while, a clever, cagey old woman stands in the way of justice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

GUEST BLOG and GIVEAWAY: LINDA ENGMAN

You Can Never Have Too Much Romance
by
Linda Engman


* Flowers, Moonlight, Hearts, Roses, Champagne, Paris, Candlelight, Diamonds...Romance.
You can never have too much romance. That’s the tag line for my website and, on my website’s Welcome page, I state most women would agree. But on a daily basis do we actually receive flowers, go to Paris, open velvet boxes containing diamonds, or drink Champagne? I think it’s safe to say most of us don’t. Maybe that’s why romance books are the leading seller of fiction today; instant romance. And we ladies don’t have to wait for a special occasion or a holiday or for our guy to remember an anniversary date—to be romanced.

I can’t think of anything more fun to write about than falling in love. Taking two characters and having them fall for each other through the course of a story is the ultimate for me. I also love to have my hero and heroine travel a very romantic path together in order to find true love with each other. This leads to lots of fun twists and turns. In my first book I’ve Got You, auto mechanic Josh Craig seemingly doesn’t have a chance with attorney Amber Bradley—until they find common interests and grow together as a couple. In Falling For You, attorney Heather Grant and hockey star Cooper Gerhardt definitely are not looking for love—but somehow they manage to fall for each other in a unlikely romantic way and at the same time find what has been missing in their lives. In Manhattan Holiday, my romance novel just released in December, the love story between legal assistant April Sutton and developer Roman Vasquez is all believing in love at first sight—and trusting yourself, and the one you fall in love with. Pretty romantic if you ask me.

So if you need a daily dose of romance in between those special occasions or anniversary’s...pick up a romance novel, snuggle in a comfy chair, and fall in love. Enjoy!

Leave a comment to be included in a drawing for a PDF of Manhattan Holiday, as well as to be included in our monthly drawing. Please be sure you also leave your email address.

About the Author: Linda Engman loves to write contemporary romances about falling for someone when you least expect it. Her novels are set in small hometowns and other times in fast-paced big cities, and always sexy and romantic. When she's not writing she loves shopping for cute heels, playing tennis, spending time with her family, and lives in northwest Wisconsin on a lake with her husband, two teenagers, and two dogs.

Visit Linda's website/blog at www.LindaEngman.com.

MANHATTAN HOLIDAY-Get Ready For a Very Romantic Holiday

Recently jilted, legal assistant April Sutton is ready to find a way to forget her ex-fianc√© and the heartache she’s been carrying around snowy Manhattan. With the New Year holiday approaching she’s determined to restart her life. Never in her wildest dreams does she expect a last minute marriage to dynamic Roman Vasquez, along with a sultry weekend trip and a romantic dream wedding, to do the trick.

In order to meet the New Year’s Eve deadline of his grandfather’s will, successful developer Roman Vasquez will do whatever it takes. Even if it means giving up his bachelor status and convincing an unwilling April Sutton to tie the knot. Although he finds all it takes to persuade her is—one kiss, a contract, and the wedding of her dreams.

Will Roman and April keep it all business...or let the magic of the holiday season, along with meddling friends, family, and hidden feelings turn their temporary whirlwind marriage into everlasting love?

Friday, January 6, 2012

GUEST BLOG: AVERY FLYNN

The Ideas Cramming My Brain
By
Avery Flynn

Where does inspiration come from? Everywhere.

A DRY CREEK BED is Beth and Hank’s love story at heart, but the mystery surrounding them involves the trifecta of villainous motivations: revenge, land and greed.

First, let me set it up a bit for you.

In A DRY CREEK BED, readers discover Beth Martinez still mourning the deaths of the grandparents who raised her after her parents died in a car accident. Beth has seen her share of tragedy, including having the dream of starting her own family ripped away from her. Though quietly in love with Hank for years, she knows they’ll never be together. Hank, now the Dry Creek County sheriff and divorced from his first wife who lied to him about her desire to have children, wants a family, something Beth can never have and can’t give him. Despite their mutual desire for each other and Hank’s determination to pursue her, she manages to keep him at a distance.

All Beth has left of her family is the home built by her grandfather. So when a mysterious developer makes an offer on the property, she refuses. Soon she’s receiving threats and can no longer hide what’s happening from Hank. Forced together by circumstances, it becomes harder and harder for them to rein in their passion. Suddenly, the stakes go higher. Coercion turns into murder and it’s up to Beth and Hank to uncover who wants the land and why—before they both end up dead.

I have to go back to one of my favorites, Gone With the Wind, for the first nugget of inspiration for A DRY CREEK BED. In it, Scarlett’s dad tells her it’s all about land and in Nebraska that’s true, too. My stepfather recently sold his farm and it was heartbreaking for him. He thought he’d be farming it until he dropped in the hayfield. That got me thinking about the importance of land and how it can tie families together. The question that popped into my head was: what if the land is the only tie you have left to your family; what would you do if someone tried to take it away?

From that developed the villain of A DRY CREEK BED, a mystery developer pushing people off their land. Beth is the only person standing between the developer and millions in profits. Verbal threats morph into vandalism which morphs into physical violence. It’s up to Hank and Beth to uncover decades-old secrets, revealing that all is not what it seems in their rural Nebraska home.

Inspiration strikes all the time and I have far more ideas rolling around my brain than I’ve had time to write - thank God for the little notebooks I carry everywhere. These ideas slow roast in my noggin for a few weeks, months, and years until their time comes. Usually I know it’s time when the characters start popping up in my dreams. Then I know I have to get my butt in the seat and my fingers on the keyboard.

About the Author: Romantic suspense novelist Avery Flynn’s first Dry Creek novel, Up a Dry Creek, was published in 2011. Her latest, A DRY CREEK BED, has just been released by Evernight Publishing.

Born and raised in western Nebraska, the setting of her fictional town of Dry Creek, she now lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. There she continues to write and work at her day job while enjoying her own happily ever after with her husband, three children and two dogs. She dreams of one day having a floor-to-ceiling library, à la Beauty and the Beast, and is working to perfect the coffee IV drip. She is delighted to have her first two books published and to be hard at work on High and Dry Creek, her third Dry Creek novel.

Find Avery on the web at www.AveryFlynn.com or www.EvernightPublishing.com.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

GUEST BLOG: BERENGARIA BROWN

Writing Regency Romances
by
Berengaria Brown


I’ve written several Regency romances. I adore Georgette Heyer and love the Regency era so it was natural for me to try writing a few romances set then myself. But it’s a lot of work, checking all the facts, and making sure characters don’t act like twenty-first century people. Women had basically no rights back then, so life was very different. But, none-the-less, women managed to make their dreams come true. They just used different methods from how we might do things today.

A well-born woman couldn’t just leave home, get a job in an industry that interested her, rent an apartment, and live alone. None of those steps was possible. She had to be chaperoned 24/7, preferably by an older male family member, although an older married female would do. She couldn’t rent property, or open a bank account, or work in most areas. Governessing or being a companion was about the limit of the options open to her. This means plots need to be built around the conventions of the day.

Every time I finish writing a Regency story I say, “It’s too much work. Never again.” And yet…

The third and final book in my Regency series about the Arnott family, Virgins No More will be out in January.

Book 1: The Vicar’s Virgin

The Reverend Mr. Ridley needs a wife so he focuses his attentions on Georgina Arnott, a sensible, intelligent, yet attractive woman.

On their wedding night he’s relieved to discover she enjoys the pleasures of the bed, and, after a slow start, their evenings are full of passion and joy for both of them.

Unfortunately, when she takes an interest in his parish, it seems to involve filling his house with noisy people tramping muddy boots through the hallways, and filling his kitchen with dirty children.

He loves his wife. But can this marriage work?

Book 2: Almost a Virgin

Theodora has loved John Smith ever since she was a little girl. But he’s very wealthy and she is only a vicar’s daughter and sister.

John had been waiting for Theodora to grow up. When he kisses Theodora in the garden at the ball, lust roars through him and he takes her there in the garden, fully dressed, only a few yards away from a hundred people. She’s warm and more than willing in his arms, and it’s not until the deed is done that he realizes he’s just dishonored his best friend’s sister.

Theodora doesn’t regret what she’s done. She enjoyed it and wants more of him. Even though he’s only marrying her because he dishonored her, she doesn’t care. She’ll make him so happy in bed and in his home he’ll stay with her even though he may never love her.

Book 3: A Promising Virgin

Zethan, Earl of Mitcham, decides that the stunningly beautiful Miss Sapphira Arnott will make him the perfect wife. It’s only when she declines his oh-so-flattering offer, that he realizes how rude and arrogant he’d been, and how much he loves her. The only solution is to woo her properly.

Meanwhile Simeon Arnott is in love with Miss Anne Smith. But she’s incredibly rich and he’s a mere Baronet. Fortunately her brother and she herself accept his proposal and they have an extremely successful wedding night. Their ball, however, was almost less than successful thanks to the “help” of the three youngest Arnotts and their plans to go one better than a recent much-talked-about society event.

Will Sapphira trust Zethan? And what other disasters will the children get involved in?

About the Author: Berengaria is a multi-published author of erotic romance: contemporary, paranormal (ghosts, vampires, fairies and werewolves) and Regency-set historical. She loves to read all different kinds of romance so that is what she writes: one man/one woman; two women; two men; two men/one woman; three men, two women/one man…. Whatever the characters need for their very hot happily-ever-after, Berengaria makes sure they get it.

Find Berengaria online at:
http://berengariasblog.blogspot.com/
http://berengariabrown.webs.com/

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

GUEST BLOG: KAT MARTIN


How Hot is Too Hot?

by Kat Martin



In the years I’ve been writing, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about sex. Is it hard to write a sex scene? Where did you LEARN that stuff? (To which my husband just grins). Unlike some authors, I like writing sex scenes. I like the challenge of making each one different and using the scene to move the story forward, or at least the romantic element of the story.

Which means each scene needs to be in the right place in the book, and the tone of the scene must fit where the couple is in their relationship. Some scenes, I’ve discovered, need to be softer than others. For some I need to ratchet up the heat. For example, hot tempers make for a hot sex scene. Passion and anger get interchanged and the characters get carried away.

If it looks as if they are going to lose each other, if something is tearing them apart, the word choices would be more poignant, the setting might include a storm, or a violent sea, something external that gives the reader a sense of what is happening inside them.

And the characters in some books are just hotter than others. Their sex drive is stronger. Which may sound crazy but makes a certain odd sense. A school teacher desperate to find her lost child would not be thinking of sex morning, noon, and night. She has other more important priorities.

In HOT RAIN, the characters, Jake Dawson and Allie Parker are extremely sexual people. Since Jake is an undercover agent but Allie believes he is one of the murdering drug dealers holding her prisoner, the tension between them runs high. Being onboard a yacht headed for Mexico, they’re thrown into close quarters, making the sexual heat also run high.

I loved writing HOT RAIN because it has a great deal of humor. Jake has had nothing but bad luck with blondes and now he is hot for another one. He’s sure Allie Parker is a scatterbrain, but eventually discovers she’s a whole lot smarter than he thought. It’s high action adventure and the heat is cranked high, too.


If you haven’t read HOT RAIN, it’s available with a gorgeous new cover and also out in e-book format. I hope you’ll watch for it and that you enjoy.

Warmest wishes,

Kat

Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a Kindle version of HOT RAIN.