Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Michaelmas Harvest (+ Book Giveaway)

Michaelmas Daisies
As a writer of historical romances—most set in Victorian England—I find I have to pay close attention to the calendar. Not just the modern American calendar with which I’ve grown up, but the British calendar too: all the rituals, traditions, and observances that are part of their culture and heritage.  So, in that spirit, Happy Michaelmas!

One of the annual quarter days, Michaelmas is observed on September 29 and marks the end of the harvest and the start of the year’s accounting. It also marks the onset of autumn, the beginning of the fall terms at British schools and universities, and the opening of the law courts.

Blackberry Pie (Devilishly Good?)
According to custom, special foods are eaten at Michaelmas, like bannocks and “stubble goose.” And a Michaelmas pie is often made from the last blackberries of the season, which are not picked thereafter, owing to the legend of the devil cursing the fruit after St. Michael expelled him from heaven and he landed in a bramble bush!

I would like to share my own Michaelmas harvest, in the form of a now completed series, which started almost four years ago with Waltz with a Stranger and continued with its sequel, A Song at Twilight. Since then, I’ve written two novellas set in the same universe, involving several of the same characters.

The most recent, A Scandal in Newport, was released just last month. A light-hearted romp with a whisper of intrigue, A Scandal in Newport features Thomas Sheridan and Amy Newbold, the secondary couple from Waltz with a Stranger, who find romance and danger when they travel to Newport, Rhode Island—playground of the American aristocracy—for the summer season.

The Heiress Series (# 1.5)
Kindle  Nook  iBooks  Kobo  Google
In honor of the new release, A Wedding in Cornwall—written last year—has been given a new cover. Although I liked the original landscape cover, a more unified look seemed desirable now that The Heiress Series is complete. (Plus, I was a sucker for the romantic image of a woman gazing out to sea…)
The Heiress Series (# 2.5)
Kindle  Nook  iBooks  Kobo  Google
Finally, I collected both novellas in The Heiress Brides, a paperback edition especially for lovers of print books!
Wrapping up this series was deeply satisfying, but also slightly bittersweet. Much has changed since I first began it, and I hope that I have grown both as a writer and a person in the intervening years. I’m also not closing the door entirely on the characters: some may well get their own stories down the road. In the meantime, I have a whole roster of projects on which I hope to get started… once I catch my breath!

Have you started or finished any project this summer? What is your personal “harvest”? 

Comment by midnight, October 2, PST, for a chance to win a signed copy of The Heiress Brides. Please leave your email address so I can contact the winner.

Pamela Sherwood

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

To Find a Viking Treasure by Gina Conkle

I'm pleased to share To Find a Viking Treasure, the second installment in my Viking romance Norse series. 

Viking romance was my first published sub-genre. Book one in this series, Norse Jewel, is also the first romance I ever wrote. Originally a single title length, I was asked to cut the story down to what's called category length. To my regret, I did. Aren't mistakes the best teachers?

Over time, I reworked the chopped parts from Norse Jewel and revamped the series. The result turned into an expanded world, including six books and one short story. Here's a taste of To Find a Viking Treasure.

 I call this excerpt “I’m good at taking what doesn’t belong to me”  

“I’m not a highborn woman to sit aside and do nothing,” she said, planting a hand on her hip. “I can help. You know I can.”
Sestra tried for her usual brazenness, but sleepy-eyed and draped in his bulky fur she was no more ferocious than a kitten. She stood her ground, red curls falling free around her mud-smeared face. He stood squarely before her, breathing scents of fresh water and clean earth from her skin, good smells to a man who preferred forests to longhouses and women doused with scented oils.
In a moment of weakness, he tucked the fur’s open ends over her breasts. “It pleases me to take care of you.”
Sestra’s lips parted and starlight showed an entrancing indent on her bottom lip. How easily his mouth had fit there. It could again. If he kissed her, he’d test the tiny dip with his thumb, gently stroking her lip and the tantalizing freckle at the corner of her mouth. He’d not rush; he’d savor every part.
“All this time I thought you couldn’t wait to be free of me,” she said, her honest brown eyes searching him.
His pulse quickened, spreading molten heat through his chest, landing hot and hard between his legs. Sestra embodied Odin’s test, the one woman he had no business touching, yet his hands rubbed the fur over her nipples as if he had every right to her. And by the cadence of her breath, a tender flame kindled Sestra’s flesh hidden under layers of fur and wool.
If he didn’t take control of his impulses, he’d steal more than a kiss.
With a slow growl, he let go and slid the bag off his shoulder. “If you want to help me, take this and wait by the pine tree.”
She took the humble leather pouch. “What is it?”
“All my worldly possessions.” His voice was raw and mocking in the dark.
Sestra tested the weight easily with one hand, her cinnamon brows furrowing. “How is it a warrior of your stature and experience has so little?” Her gaze touched Jormungand’s hilt over his shoulder. “Yet you possess the finest of swords.”
“Maybe I stole it?”
“Maybe you did,” she said softly. “By strength alone you can take what you want.”
Challenge lit her eyes. The flame-haired thrall dared him to spill another truth about himself. Why did she want to pry open his deepest places?
“I’m good at taking what doesn’t belong to me.”
Sestra’s mouth curled in a tolerant smile when he glowered at her breasts swelling under his sleeping pelt. Fur lay flat where his hands had pressed the pelt.
She touched his arm and he nearly jumped out of his skin, the pressure of her hand palpable against his leather arm brace. “You’re good at a great many things, raiding, scouting, rescuing a woman dangling from a cliff.”
“But never enough to keep a woman.”
A thick red curl blew across her mouth. “I’ve never known you to want one.”
Behind him, water tapped the narrow shoreline, the rhythm of time and tides, a gentle going in and pulling out. Were the gods taking turns testing him? He was sure the wind carried Freyja’s seductive laughter. The goddess could laugh all she wanted. His will would be stronger.

Amazon   ~   BN   ~   Kobo   ~   iBooks   ~   GooglePlay

Survival’s in his blood…

Rough-souled Brandr’s ready for a new life far from Uppsala, but the Viking has a final task —protect the Frankish slave, Sestra. Her life's full of hardship…until she learns the location of a treasure. With war coming, stealing the enemy's riches will save lives, but only one man can defend her —the fierce Viking scout, Brandr.

The two have always traded taunts, now they must share trust. Passions flare as secrets unfold on the treasure hunt, leading to a shocking sacrifice.

I’m Gina Conkle, and I write Viking and Georgian romance, which makes for interesting characters in my head. I grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, I love books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now I live in Michigan with my favorite alpha male, Brian, and our two sons where I’m known to occasionally garden and cook. Living in snow gives me the perfect excuse to get lost in reading and writing.

Connect with me on my website or sign up for Free Reads via my newsletter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Support Your #FavAuthor! Save Your Computer by Not #IllegallyDownloadingBooks! Why? Read on...By @kathrynekennedy


     “Aw, crud no.” The wizard banged his hand on his keyboard and then frantically clicked around with his mouse checking all his spell files: Text documents of magic words, pictures of runes, spreadsheets of magical creature species. He looked through his entire computer and almost all his data was ruined and hacked. Files missing and damaged.
     “What happened?” He muttered.
      His Internet browser was still open from the night before. Looking at that, he realized what had happened. He downloaded pirated enchantment data for school. When he downloaded it he thought, “What's one stolen spell gonna cost me?”
     But apparently whoever uploaded the data for the enchantment file, hid a virus inside. All the magically formed programs and files loaded into the mystic gems on his hard drive (wizards favored gems over disks and other data storage means) had all been ruined. And maybe even some of his spells had been stolen from him.
      A creepy voice then filled the room, “Youuuuu...I'veeeee comeee tooo tormmeennnttt youuuu forrr the ressssttt of yourrrr dayyyssss...” 
     The wizard put his hand to his head and moaned. He knew that was a ghost. The illegal enchantment he downloaded was not only a virus, but a curse, which also gave him a ghost haunting his computer. 
     Maybe he should have just downloaded the enchantment legally.
Posted with permission from Langdon's Flash Fictions

Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Autumn?

We've had a post or two about fall being upon us, and although the equinox occurred last Thursday, the only evidence of the change of season is the prevalence of mums and pumpkins. I haven't bought a pumpkin yet, but I did get some fall flower arrangements and draped a lighted garland of leaves over the doorway where I normally put the Christmas lights. I planted asters and iris and made curried pumpkin soup from last year's frozen pumpkin. The flowers are lovely and the soup was delicious, but nothing I've done has brought on the cooler weather. I'm remembering last winter when someone posted (probably on Facebook) that it was too hot to wear her Christmas sweater and she didn't have any Christmas capris. Neither do I, and I'm hoping this winter won't be a repeat of the last one.

Speaking of Christmas, I bought something the other day that I've been asking Santa to bring me for nearly thirty years. I'd already gotten that sporty red car every driver ought to own at least once in their lifetime, but that's not what I'm talking about. You see, the one thing I always said I would buy first if I ever won the lottery is a tractor.

My neighbor will mow my pasture for a reasonable price, but she's a busy farmer, and she's lucky to get the job done once a year. So, after 27 years of living on this farm, my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and get a tractor of our own. I'd always planned to add an equipment shed on the side of the barn if I ever bought a tractor, so back in March, I called a local contractor. Getting him out here to take a look at the barn took a while, but he finally came. He just never called me back with an estimate. Weeks went by, and I called someone else. The second guy came out, gave me a fair estimate, and said he could get to it in about two weeks.

As I recall, that was in April. I called him back in mid-May, and of course, the constant rain had put him behind. He said he'd get started after Memorial Day. Labor Day has now come and gone, and I still haven't heard a word, so I said, "Screw it. The horses will just have to share the barn." I ordered aisle guards to keep the horses from messing with the equipment, and my husband and I went shopping.

A friend had recommended a Kubota, and after looking at them and comparing prices, last Wednesday, I went back to the dealer and bought one, along with a front loader, a mower, and a grader blade. They're supposed to be delivered this week, which means I'll finally be able to mow my own pasture, grade my own driveway, and plow any snow that gets in the way.

Someone told me that all the persimmon seeds look like spoons this year, which is supposed to mean we'll get a lot of snow. For once, I'm okay with that because this time, I'll be ready.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Giveaways All Around

by Shana Galen

Right now I'm in Spokane, Washington at the Historical Romance Retreat. I hope to bring back lots of books and swag that I'll pass on to my readers, of course!

But why wait? You can enter to win books and other goodies right now!

First of all, check out the giveaway on my website. I have one every month. This month win an Outlander tote bag (see front and back images), a copy of Earls Just Want to Have Fun, and a poster for Sophie Jordan's next historical.

After you enter to win those goodies, check out the Fall Into Historical Romance giveaway. Win signed books and swag from some of the hottest names in historical romance (and me too!).

I hope to see some of you at the retreat. I'll share pictures on my next blog!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How Can I Write Christmas when it’s 97 Degrees out???

Horde of arctic wolves in a zoo
Okay, White Wolf Christmas is not up for preorder yet, but will soon be. I’ll post when it is.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is available for preorder. They’re working on the cover now.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place
April 2017
Kobo: Coming
iBooks: Coming
VeryJaguaryChristmas_select (2)
tiger eyes closed (1280x853).jpg vignetteTiger says he doesn’t even want to hear about another cat shifter story that is about a big cat other than him. I took this picture of the tiger at the San Diego Zoo. Isn’t he beautiful?
A Very Jaguar Christmas is coming in October.

christmas wolf tree1 (800x665)
It’s hard, but this is often how it works. It’s freezing out, I’m writing about the jungle heat. It’s steaming out and I’m writing about a blizzard. So how do I get in the mood?  Believe me, I really don’t feel in the mood to watch Christmas stories right now, or listen to Christmas music.

But, I began making Christmas trailers for the two books coming out this year. First, A Silver Wolf Christmas for the Oct 6 release, and then for Alphas Unwrapped, Dec 1 release. Finding music and Christmas pictures for them, diving into the Christmas stories helped. Then having the Christmas party for A Silver Wolf Christmas did too. I watched Arctic Blast a while back when it was soooo hot, I think it is called, campy movie, but it’s cold. There are others like it where people are running around in the frigid cold and they work well for giving the visuals to help create a cold snowy environment in my mind.

But wait! These are jaguar shifters. It gets cold in Texas, but not that snowy. And if we have snow, it’s in the new year, February, later.  It’s ruining my whole Christmas mood. NOT to mention that it’s 97 degrees this weekend, even though we are near the end of September. Did anyone mention to the weather god that it is nearly fall now? Please turn off the heat. And while you’re at it, we desperately need some rain. Max fell into a foot-deep crack in the earth yesterday when I took him walking in the front yard.

Jaguars lived in the southern states bordering Mexico–Texas, Arizona, NM, California. No longer, but at one time, they did. So my jaguar shifters live in Texas. And they go on vacations to South America and other locations where jaguars still run free, though who knows how long that will last as people still illegally hunt them for sport.

So, here is my dilemma. I want a Christmas card Christmas for them. Without it, it just doesn’t seem like Christmas. Even though for most of my life, I’ve had to go north to see snow if I want the Christmas card experience with snow. Florida, Texas, California, no snow at Christmas. When we lived in Florida, we had an aluminum tree and colorful wheel of lights. It was really pretty, but Florida just didn’t seem Christmassy enough to warrant a green tree.

That had me revising my trip plans–for my jaguars. They have to go north to see a white Christmas. Have to. Now I’m in the mood for Christmas.
9781492621805-300 (2)
A Very Jaguar Christmas (Book 5)
 Have a great one!!!
Terry Spear
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
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