Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sultry Southern Summers

by Adriana Anders

With the blazing heat of summer still lingering and the humidity wrapped around us like a damp beach towel, I can’t help but think about the second book in my Blank Canvas series—By Her Touch. It’s a moody, emotional read, set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. When we meet our hero and heroine, they’re in the midst of a midsummer heat wave. Have you ever experienced one of those in the South? If you have, you’ll know that you’ve got two choices. Escape it by heading for cooler climes or embrace it with some of these sultry southern summer pursuits. They may not help you beat the heat, but they might get you to forget it.
  • Slow times with good friends on porches. Ever notice how people down south can spend hours just watching the world go by? There’s a reason for that: they know better than wasting valuable energy trying to move.

  • Sittin’ and Sippin’ Mint Juleps, Sweet Tea, Bourbon or Sour Mash. It’s just a matter of taste what poison you choose. 

  • Catchin’ light. There’s nothing like waiting out those early evening hours (beverage in hand) just waiting for lightning bugs (fireflies to many folks) to show. It’s that slow, sweet crawl into nighttime that makes mid-summer so special. 

  • Watching sweaty hot men at work and at play. Shirtless carpenters roofing a house, big bearded men throwing a football under a blue sky, men in the vineyards (yes they grow a lot of grapes in the foothills of Virginia) with work-busted hands, farming the red clay.

  • Late night skinny-dipping down at the creek (nekkid crick swimmin’, if you’re from around here).  Invite the neighborhood boys along and call it a party. 

  • Bluegrass on a blanket. How do you know your picnic’s in the south? It’s the tunes that’ll tell you. If the grass is blue, you’ve probably crossed the Mason-Dixon line, where the banjo is king and vocal harmonies take you to heaven. 

  • Gettin’ sweaty between the sheets. When the festivities end for the night, but it’s too hot to sleep, there’s always a way to keep busy with your man.

What are your favorite hot-weather activities? How about sultry summer reads? 

Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small non-profits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children, and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, emotional love stories of her heart.
Visit Adriana:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Musical Inspiration

Music has always played an important role in my life as it has for many people. If books are my refuge then music is my foundation. So when I sat down to write my first novel I was told over and over to use what I knew and since I know marketing and music I chose to write about marketing set against a backdrop of heavy metal and rockabilly. My taste in music is fairly eclectic…I like a little of everything (except country, the only country I like is Sam Hunt and the Mavericks, but that’s another story).

For me, music is a family affair. In my teens and early 20s, I spent a lot of time seeing bands: punk, rockabilly, ska, rock, metal, you name it. Before kids, my husband and I spent a lot of time in blues clubs and going to festivals. Once our children started developing their own interest in music we expanded our musical road trips to include Taylor Swift, EDM, death metal (I still shudder a little when someone mentions the Black Dahlia Murder), Imelda May, George Ezra, Purity Ring. Anyway, you get the point.

When I write I often need to block out the real world while I dive into my pretend world with my pretend people and their pretend problems. The music I listen to helps create a type of magic that allows me to tap into that special well of creativity we all have buried deep inside. Below are the first 20 songs on the playlist for my debut Beautiful Crazy (out November 1). For the complete list and play links to Spotify and Google Play Music playlists, check out my website at

  1. Light a Way by Volbeat
  2. Big Bad Handsome Man by Imelda May
  3. World in Flames by In this Moment
  4. Alias by In Flames
  5. Collapse Zeds by Dead (Feat. Memorecks)
  6. What's Mine Is Yours by Sleater-Kinney
  7. Sound of a Revolution by Sonic Boom Six
  8. Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley
  9. 11:11 by Rodrigo y Gabriella
  10. The Bleeding by Five Finger Death Punch
  11. Dear God by Avenged Sevenfold
  12. Into the Ocean by Blue October
  13. Lullaby for a Sadist by Korn
  14. The Outlaw Torn by Metallica
  15. Top Yourself by The Raconteurs
  16. Grow Old With You by Matthew Mayfield
  17. Over and Over by Tim McGraw and Nelly
  18. Moondance by Van Morrison
  19. Last Rockers by Vice Squad
  20. She by The Misfits
I’d love to hear what music does for you or what kind of music you can’t live without.

If you're interested in winning a free ARC or receiving excerpts for Beautiful Crazy or my other upcoming novels, please sign up for my newsletter on my website.

She’s a rocker with attitude and ink…
He’s a sexy suit who gets what he wants

Kevan Landry is trying to keep her life on track and her brother in rehab. If her fledgling marketing firm can sign the hot new band, Manix Curse, it will make a world of difference. Mason Dillon heads the most successful music PR firm in Portland. He’s desperate to breathe new life into the company by signing Manix Curse.

The last thing either one needs is a one-night stand with a smoldering stranger…

The stakes are high when a battle for the band—in the bedroom and the boardroom—becomes a battle of the heart. But if these two can set aside their differences, they may find they’re the right mix of sexy savvy to conquer both their worlds.

Pre-order Beautiful Crazy:

About Kasey:
Award-winning author Kasey Lane writes sexy romances featuring music, hot guys with ink, kick ass women, and always a happily ever after. A California transplant, she lives with her high school crush turned husband, two smart, but devilish kids, two dumb-as-rocks Papillons, and a bunch of bossy chickens in the lush Oregon forest. Visit her website where you'll find her swearing too much and talking about the San Jose Sharks, tattoos, and Jack White.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My WTF Job

Be sure to check out the Coffee Mug Pre-Order Offer at the end of the post!

It started at the interview…

I interviewed for a job at small gift shop in my town. I enjoyed going into this shop because they had unique items that I couldn’t find anywhere else. One day I noticed they had a help wanted sign up. So of course I applied! I had just graduated with my BA in psychology and had decided to take a year off before returning to grad school.

During the interview the owner of business told me that I’d be working only twenty hours a week—twenty-five max. She told me she needed someone to learn how to make the unique, one-of-a-kind gift baskets that the store was known for. I told her that I was more than willing to learn. That sounded fun!

On my first day of work, the owner told me to go upstairs with one of the employees so she could teach me how to make gift baskets. So I spent a few hours learning the basics of gift baskets. You wouldn’t think they were complicated, but they actually kinda were. Or maybe they were just super-picky.

The next day when I went in to work, the owner called me into her office. “I didn’t hire you to make gift baskets. You need to be down here on the floor working at all times.”


I was so dumbfounded I was speechless. She told me in the interview she wanted me to learn how to make gift baskets, and she was the one who told me to go up there and learn how to make the gift baskets.

I decided to stay the hell away from gift baskets.

A few weeks later the owner called me into her office again and told me she was very disappointed that I hadn’t learned how to make gift baskets. That gift baskets were an essential element to my job and she thought I understood that from the interview.


Another of my job duties was to price the new merchandise that came in to the shop. I was told to take the price that was paid by the shop, multiply by 2.5 and then round up to the nearest .99 cents. So I did. It wasn’t hard. After all I was a college graduate.

One day the owner wandered around the shop picking up some of the new merchandise that I’d
priced a few days before. She looked at a price and called me over. “Why did you put this price on here?”

“It’s 2.5 times the price, rounded up to the nearest .99 cents.”

“Well, you can just look at this and see that it’s worth more than the price you have on it. I want you to raise the price by six dollars.”


She went through the store telling me the new prices she wanted on ALL the merchandise. I had to reprice the entire store! Just when I finished a new shipment came in. I went to her with a new item we’d gotten in. “2.5 times rounded up to the nearest .99 cents is this price. What would you like me to put on this?”

“That price.”

Okay. So I priced all those items and went to her with a new item. “Here is 2.5 times the price, rounded up to the nearest .99 cents. What price do you want me to put on this?

“Uh. That price.”

I finish pricing all those items and went back to her with a new item and the same question. “2.5 times the price, rounded up to the nearest .99 cents is this. What do you want me to put on here?”

“I don’t understand why you can’t get it. You price everything at 2.5 times the price and round up to the nearest .99 cents. This isn’t hard. You are a college graduate.”


I confess, when a situation hits me out of left field, I’m not a think-on-my-feet kind of girl. I was absolutely dumbfounded at her statement. She’d just made me reprice the entire store two days previous, because she didn’t like the 2.5 times rounded up to the nearest .99 cent price.

The holidays were approaching and my hours in the store jumped from twenty a week to fifty a week for a month. Most days I opened and closed the store. I worked fifty hours a week, while she and her friends only came in a few hours a day. And it wasn’t like I was sitting around when they weren’t there. I had to check in all the new items, display all of it, keep the food and drink station stocked and pretty, check out customers, sweep, dust, clean the bathrooms.

The owner called me into her office. “I’m disappointed that you’re aren’t contributing enough to the business.”


She said I wasn’t contributing enough?!


I’d never walked off a job before and I never have since, but that day I think I was close to a limit: the throat-punch her or leave limit. I left. Walked out and never came back. And never gave that store my business ever again.

My only glee came from knowing that the owner and her friends were actually going to have to show up and do all my work since I wasn’t there.

What about you?

Have you ever had a WTF job?

Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for more than three hundred pages.

Cursed with a terrible gift
Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn’t have to question you—he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night—the voice of a woman begging him to save her.
A gift that threatens to engulf them...
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except…there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Sail Like a Viking (by Asa Maria Bradley)

One of the best things about being a writer is that your all consuming interests are called research instead of obsessions. While writing my Viking Warriors series, I can bury my nose in books about Norse mythology and nobody can fault me for not working. It's so awesome!

Most of my research comes from books and the internet, but during a visit to my parents' house a few years ago, I took a side trip to the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum in Denmark. The museum houses five original Viking ships from the 11th century. These ships were used in a blockade in a natural channel close to Skuldelev, which is 20 km north of Roskilde, the Viking age capital of Denmark. During the scrimmage, the ships were purposely sunk. In 1962, they were excavated in thousands of pieces. An unbelievable feat of underwater archaeology. Each piece of timber had to be conserved and then painstakingly puzzled together to recreate the ships. Each ship is a different type and together they give a unique insight into Viking shipbuilding techniques and skills.

Skuldelev Ship 3: The Coastal Trader

In addition to the ships and a myriad of exhibitions on Viking culture and customs, the museum has a boatyard where you can watch craftsmen reconstruct prehistoric boats in full scale, using only the tools available at the time. They'll even let you try out the tools. And then they sail the ships across the Roskilde Fjord! And you can go with them!

School and books taught me what outstanding strategists, navigators, and craftsmen the Vikings were, but it’s a whole other thing to see how something is actually done. The extreme precision involved in building a waterproof vessel is mind boggling. Imagine fitting plank by plank together without glue or nails. And the teamwork necessary to sail the ships is amazing. One miscalculated pull on an oar or a rope, and the whole exposed vessel could flip over in open ocean.

After hours of pestering the builders with questions and watching the sailors navigate their authentic vessels across the bay, I visited the museum shop, which is a goldmine of research material. It wasn’t until I remembered my return flight’s weight limit that I was able to drag myself out of the store.

If you ever have a chance, join one of the 120 000 people who visit the museum yearly. Here are my two very special guides: my nephew Eric and my niece Ellen, Viking and Valkyrie in training.

Swedish Conquerors of the Sea
Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology. She arrived in the US as a high school exchange student, which is when her ongoing addiction to ranch dressing and crime TV series started. Asa currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Her debut novel, VIKING WARRIOR RISING, was a double RITA finalist and RT Book Reviews gave VIKING WARRIOR REBEL 4.5 stars and Top Pick! status. Visit Asa at and @AsaMariaBradley

Friday, August 19, 2016

Goodbye, Summer

Summer is over in the Galen household. In your part of the world, you might be stretching the season to Labor Day or it might have started weeks ago. My daughter starts first grade this year. All summer she has wanted nothing more than for school to start again. When I blog about the end of summer in 5 years, we’ll see if she still feels that way. One can hope!

Last year I asked a friend’s daughter how she felt about beginning middle school. She said, “Nervexcited.” That’s a great description of how I always felt before a new school year and how I feel before a book release.

This year I don’t have any more new books releasing. My next new release isn’t until 2017. It’s been so strange to have such a long gap between book releases. It’s also been nice to have a little bit of the pressure of looming deadlines off my shoulders. I still have deadlines, but there’s a little space between them this year. This isn’t to say I’m not a little nervexcited about the books coming out in 2017. I’ve had more time to think about them and mull them over, and that’s more time to feel both nervous and excited about their releases.

Is there anything you feel nervous and/or excited about?

Happy End of Summer!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Before Facial Cream and Mascara by Linda Broday

What did women use before facial cream, mascara, lipstick, eyeliner? You might be surprised. Or not.

Women who crossed this great land by her husband’s side have never gotten due recognition. Men took the glory for taming the American Frontier. Yet, the women endured far more and with less complaint. Often, they arrived at their destination looking haggard, their faces burnt to the color of hazelnut by the sun, their hair cut short. Whatever her looks, she had endurance and she had courage. Sometimes she was wilder than the land she helped tame.

I’m so in awe of these women who braved the elements, the harsh landscape and even death at times. They’re the spirit that lives inside each of my heroines.

Once women arrived at their destination, they set to work to reverse the ravages of the trip. They had few beautifiers to work with though. Gunpowder was easier to come by than face powder. Most petticoat pioneers reached for ingredients in their kitchens.

Sour milk or buttermilk were applied at night as skin bleaches. Complexion salves were made of white wax, spermaceti—a substance they used to make candles, and sweet oil scented with homemade rose or lavender water.

Honey was an old reliable cosmetic used by frontier women for everything from softening the teats of their milk cows to making beauty soap. A slight dusting of corn starch concealed a shiny nose. An entire weather-beaten face was moisturized under a coating of flour paste then washed. 

Beet juice or berries in season was widely used for lips and applied lightly to cheeks. They also pinched their cheeks to bring blood to the surface. A piece of burnt ember lined the eyes, although most didn’t use this because of the painted ladies who did. They did not want to be compared to working girls. No ma’am.

A popular homemade shampoo was made of a blend of castor oil and pure whiskey scented with lavender.

To cover gray hair, women touched up strands with sage tea, henna, or boiled walnut shells. For curls, they had a straight iron rod that they heated in a kerosene lamp chimney.

Women loved their baths but such were very hard to come by. When they did, they added rose petals or a bit of rosewater before stepping in. Most soaps were made from lye, but resourceful women added honey, flowers or juice from plants to make it sweet-smelling and cut the abrasiveness.

Strong lavender bud tea applied to chapped lips made them smooth and moist. Wanted your breasts larger? There was a cream for it back then. Of course, it didn’t work, but the less endowed women tried it anyway.

I’m sure there were lots more. Women were ingenious back then, especially if she was plain. No one wanted to be ugly. Through it all, we survived. I’m sure a lot of those women would’ve loved the cosmetics and beauty products today.

If you'd lived back then, do you think you’d have tried any of these? I know I would’ve covered my gray however I could. I don’t like looking old.

It's getting closer to the October 4 release day! TO LOVE A TEXAS RANGER is available for preorder now. 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Fun, Fast Read by Terri L. Austin

Looking for a fun beach read? Try His to Keep, the last installment in the Beauty and the Brit series.

Iain wasn't just rough around the edges-he was uncivilized, despite all the elegant trappings and expensive suits. And Brynn wanted more of it. She wanted Iain in full-on barbarian mode.
She wanted to be taken.
Filthy rich British bad boy Iain Chapman made a name for himself as a ruthless businessman, but if he can secure an investment from Vegas powerhouse Trevor Blake, Iain could take his business to the next level. Solution? Hire beautifully timid corporate trainer-and Trevor's sister-in-law-Brynn Campbell and seduce his way to success.
Brynn's everything Iain is not: kind, delicate, decent. But she's also got a taste for something a little beastly, and it doesn't take long for Iain to break through her every inhibition. Brynn was supposed to be his pawn, but as Iain gets closer to his goal, he begins to realize he's not ready to let her go, not now, not ever-even if it costs him everything.

The first time he’d laid eyes on her had been at an evening garden party, a benefit for her family’s cancer foundation. He’d paid a fortune for a ticket in hopes of meeting Trevor. While wandering through the garden, Iain had spotted Brynn, and he’d been struck immobile. It wasn’t just her beauty or that delicate, graceful quality that captured his attention. No, it was the way she held herself apart from the crowd and observed everyone around her, as if, despite being who she was—the sister-in-law of the wealthiest man in Vegas—she didn’t quite feel comfortable in her posh surroundings. It had reminded him, uncomfortably, of himself.
And he hadn’t been able to look away.
He’d watched her for the better part of an hour. Though she tried to hide in plain sight, Iain couldn’t take his eyes off her. He saw her clearly, so why couldn’t anyone else? And when he’d begun to approach her, she’d turned on her heel and flitted away, into Trevor’s monstrously large house. Trevor had also disappeared before Iain could introduce himself. Nevertheless, he’d stayed until the end of the party, hoping to catch another glimpse of Brynn, without any luck. She’d stuck in his head ever since, though he couldn’t for the life of him say why. Now he was finally going to meet her properly.
About bloody time, too. All it took was an elaborate ruse and several thousand dollars to draw her out of her hidey-hole.
Not that this was about Brynn, he told himself. He had a goal. He was going to stay focused on that goal— she was just a bloody bonus.
“It feels wrong,” Marc said, “using this girl to get to her relatives. Seedy, yeah?”
“It’s called networking. No different than glad- handing at a cocktail party or going to a charity dinner in order to meet serious players. It’s just business. You know we’ve tried every other avenue. Blake’s lawyer won’t return our calls. I even tried to play up the expat angle with him, but I couldn’t get a meeting. Trevor Blake is a bloody fortress.”
Marc stopped treading over the hand-loomed rug. “While I’m not convinced that this is our best solution, the course she’s teaching might actually do you some good. Your leadership skills are a bit lacking, aren’t they?”
Iain paused, the cup midway to his lips. “What the bloody hell are you on about?” Iain was leadership personified. He had the portfolio and bank balance to prove it. “There’s nothing wrong with the way I lead, mate. I get results.”
“You do,” Marc agreed. “But you also hack off a lot of people. And those you don’t offend are scared shitless of you.”
“Good.” He didn’t give a damn if people feared him, as long as they did their jobs properly. This wasn’t a popularity contest. No one got a prize for congeniality. “If they don’t like working here, they’re free to quit.”
“Which explains our high turnover rate. You could stand to be a little nicer to people. Wouldn’t kill you none, would it?”
 “My gran used to say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
“That’s daft. Why would I want to catch flies?”

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