Saturday, June 29, 2013


Hello all!

As the title of my blog says, Summer is officially here!  I am a Canuck and this weekend is our long weekend.  On July 1st, we celebrate Canada day and all things Canadian.

I thought I'd share a bunch of stuff that I love about my country.

1.  Hockey. It is our national sport and I  LOVE it...and I also love the hockey men!  They play tough and clean up real nice!  Just have a gander at Henrik Lundqvist, goalie for the Rangers!

2. Beer.  Sorry guys but our beer is stronger, has more kick to it and well, really, really, good on a hot summer day.

3. We're funny.  We've got some funny dudes... Martin Short! And we also lay claim to Jim Carrey. 

4. We're hot..... 

5. We're sexy....

6. We're musical....

We are Canadian!! WOOT!

To celebrate this awesome day in my world, I'm going to award one commentator a copy of the first book in my Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series, THE SUMMER HE CAME HOME.

All you have to do it tell me one thing about Canada that surprised you...either something you learned or never knew...or if you're Canadian, what is the one thing that makes you most proud!!!

Have a safe and happy weekend everyone!


Friday, June 28, 2013

"There Are Places I Remember, All My Life . . ." by Pamela Sherwood

For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.

--e. e. cummings, "maggie and milly and molly and may"

When I was a kid, the family summer vacation consisted of a week or so in Yosemite National Park, a place especially dear to my father. On the day of departure, we'd rise super-early, around 4 or 5 a.m., and be on the road after a hasty breakfast, hoping to avoid the worst extremes of heat in Bakersfield and Fresno as well as reach our final destination by late afternoon.  Most of the time, we succeeded in both objectives, though there were some years when it was a close-run thing (car trouble was usually the culprit there.)

Half Dome at Sunset, photo by David Iliff
I remember those vacations fondly: the towering redwoods, the white cascade of the Bridal Veil waterfall, the majestic rise of Half-Dome mountain, purplish-grey in the twilight, brooding over the valley.  Mornings strolling through the woods and campsites, afternoons lazing in the luxurious reading rooms of the Ahwahnee Hotel, evenings riding the double decker buses that traveled from one end of the park to another.  Yosemite is an undeniably beautiful place, ideal for vacationing families, adventurous hikers and mountaineers, and even solitary nature lovers. It's well worth putting up with the mosquitoes, which descend in hungry profusion the moment you set foot in the woods, and even the occasional bear to spend some time there.

Pismo Beach and Pier
Times and tastes change, though, and for the last 20 years or so, we've been vacationing on the Central Coast--the Pismo Beach/San Luis Obispo/Morro Bay area, which has also become dear to our hearts. Maybe even dearer, in my case. My father loved the mountains, but my passion is for the sea: constantly in motion, ever-changing and never-changing, gentle and turbulent by turns. It should come as no surprise that many of my characters share that passion. Aurelia, in Waltz with a Stranger, finds the love of her life and the home of her heart on the north coast of Cornwall, and Sophie, the heroine of A Song at Twilight, is a Cornish native, whose favorite place is the north shore, where she can sit for hours, just watching the tide come in. My favorite activity at Pismo is to walk barefoot along the beach, just at the water's edge, listening to the boom of the surf as I spin my latest plots and wonder how to make things still more complicated for my characters. I pause often to admire the bounding waves, all green-shot blue, crowned with swirling foam--and on occasion, to chase my hat, which the wind usually manages to snatch off my head at least once per trip, sometimes sending it straight into the water (where it is retrieved with either laughter or profanity, depending on my mood at the time!)

No bookstore is complete without a watch-cat!
There are other attractions to the area as well: bookstores, both new and secondhand (I stopped in at the San Luis Obispo Barnes & Noble and signed the lone copy of Waltz with a Stranger that they currently had in stock), and several distinctive and unusual shops (I remember a place specializing in beautiful blown glass sculptures, including one that looks like Hokusai's famous illustration of The Great Wave off Kanagawa.)

And of course, there are restaurants where you can find the most delicious golden-brown fish and chips (Hofbrau in Morro Bay) and the creamiest clam chowder (Splash Cafe in Pismo Beach, which has won the Annual Chowder Cook-Off in multiple years).  
 The Dinner Rush at Splash Cafe

Or, if you're seeking atmosphere as well as sustenance, check out the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, where you can get a good breakfast and a good laugh--at the over-the-top predominantly pink decor. Not even the restrooms emerged unscathed: the ladies' room boasts a chandelier and red leather upholstery, the men's stone sinks and a tiled urinal. According to my sister, one of the men's rooms used to contain a waterwheel--a piece of subliminal messaging, perhaps?--although it appears to have been removed in recent years.
She's only a girl on a gilded swing ...

My favorite kitschy Madonna Inn touch is the Victorian doll on the swing, who hangs from the ceiling amid the clusters of artificial wisteria. Sometimes a blonde, sometimes a brunette, she rocks serenely back and forth, her dress changing with the seasons. This time around, she wore bright scarlet, making her impossible to miss among the white and lavender flowers.

But ultimately, it's the sea I always come back to, whether I'm wading ankle-deep in its bracingly cold waters or simply gazing at it from the clifftop path behind our hotel and letting my thoughts drift in and out with the tide. It's the sea that calms and excites me by turns, that lulls me into tranquility and reawakens my creativity. The place where I feel my happiest, most productive self--and the place I can't wait to return to, every summer.
Shell Beach, a clifftop view
Do you have a place like that? Is it the mountains, the sea, or somewhere else entirely that calls to you?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

RomCon at Colorado Springs

One of my wolf packs is from Colorado, Silver Town, a makeshift place partly based on the quaint silver mining town of Telluride where I've skied before. For RomCon, I visited Colorado Springs.

I'd wished I'd seen the wolf reserve one hour from there while I was there!

Unfortunately, fires were raging in parts of the area. So I managed to take a picture of the mountains in the morning. By afternoon and evening, the smoke is like a thick fog. Two people have died in the fires so they're treating it as homicide. Over a hundred houses destroyed.

The wildlife and acres of trees are being lost. No one knows if they're being set on purpose or if it's carelessness or an act of nature. It's devastating for everyone no matter the reasons for the fires.

They said the mountains are normally crystal clear, but with the haze of smoke, this is how it looks even in the morning at its best.
 Here are the Colorado City Skies at sunset--I thought the clouds meant rainclouds and maybe they'd get some relief. But they're clouds of smoke. I found it difficult to breathe at night with all the smoke in the hotel rooms and throughout the area.

 Not only do people lose their homes, but animals living in the wilderness do as well. It's a terrible loss to all. And the air we all breathe is being fouled as well.

I saw this when I was packing up and thought it ironic. Could barely breathe at night it was so smoky.

On the flight back, I'd totally forgotten that night was super to be when the supermoon was visible. But I looked out at the sky and there it was. 9:15 at night over Texas.

I think the lady across the aisle from me on the plane thought I was nuts, but I had to capture a picture of the supermoon--a full moon that is closest to earth once in about every 14 cycles of the full moon.

August 10, 2014, I need to have my camera ready for the next one, but I doubt I'll catch one in flight like that again!

The wolves are having a howling good time. Not that wolves actually howl more at a full moon. My wolves always have a howling good time. :)

Aren't the supermoon shots beautiful!

Texas night sky--9:15 at night, supermoon in distance while flying overhead.

Happy Thursday!

Did you get a chance to see the supermoon on Sunday?

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

By: Julie Ann Walker

Biker Songs
(aka: Where I Seek My Muse)

For those of you who've read my books, you know music plays a large part in my life.  I reference it often in the Black Knights Inc. series.  I quote it in my novels - when I'm legally allowed.  And I rely on it to inspire my muse.  So I'm often asked, "What songs do you listen to while you write?"  The answer?  ALL THE SONGS!  I'm an equal-opportunity listener.  Rock, Pop, Alternative, Country, Bluegrass, Blues, Classical, Jazz… You name it; I listen to it.  But when I'm trying to get in the mood to write, I have a "go-to" playlist that inevitably helps me channel those badass biker boys.  Today, I'm sharing it with you.  Enjoy!  I know I always do.  ;-)    

Born to be Wild - Steppenwolf

Long Lonesome Highway - Michael Parks

Midnight Rider - The Allman Brothers

Slow Ride - Foghat

Wanted Dead or Alive - Bon Jovi

Bad to the Bone - George Thorogood

Against the Wind - Bob Seger

Unknown Legend - Neil Young

On the Road Again - Canned Heat

Ballad of Easy Rider - The Byrds

And I leave you with four words: Rock on! Ride on!

Julie Ann Walker is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc. romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics. She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into submission. Look for the first four books in her fast-paced series: Hell On Wheels (August 2012) In Rides Trouble (September 2012) Rev It Up (October 2012) and Thrill Ride (April 2013). For more information, please visit or follow her on Facebook and/or Twitter @JAWalkerAuthor.

To Purchase Thrill Ride

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thunder, Lightning, Forest Fires and a Tornado

I'll admit that I do spin tales of fiction, but there is no way I could possibly make this up.

The clan and I recently returned from a family vacation in Colorado Springs, CO. For those of you who have never seen this beautiful state, place it on your bucket list!
As our flight traveled from Denver to Colorado Springs, we saw the raging forest fire below that destroyed thousands of acres in the Black Forest. Yep, you guessed it. The fires were in Colorado Springs.

Being from Pennsylvania, this type of natural behavior is not something that we're readily accustomed to and frankly, we were more than a little nervous. We said a silent prayer the fire wouldn't impact our vacation and it didn't, but our hearts certainly went out to the five hundred families who lost their homes. We were somewhat surprised that Colorado natives continued to go about their business as if the fires were a common occurrence. I guess they were. I suppose California natives act the same way about earthquakes.

Our travels took us to Garden of the Gods in which the name spoke for itself.

We also chuckled when we spotted the sign below since the signs in PA normally mention to clean up after your pet. lol

We took the cog train up to the very top of Pikes Peak. Yep, all 14,115 feet above sea level. They even sold oxygen at the train station.

That night, when we arrived back at the hotel, one of the hotel staff had asked me what we did that day. I told her that we had a great time taking the cog train up to Pikes Peak and a strange look crossed her face. She said, "Oh, please tell me your train was not the one that got struck by lightning today."
Thankfully, the Roberts family had managed to avoid the fires and did not get struck by lightning.
On another day, we traveled to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and we still hadn't had any rain. The sun was shining, there was a cool breeze in the air, a great day for visiting the zoo.
Yeah, well, let me tell you that mountain weather is totally unpredictable. Within minutes, rain, thunder, and it poured buckets! At least we saw most of the zoo.
We were stuck under a small roof for over a half an hour, but we were so thankful because we knew the rain would help the Colorado firefighters. As soon as the rain had quit pelting us, we made a mad dash to the car. Imagine our surprise when a huge crowd stood at the entrance to the zoo for tickets in the rain. I turned to my husband and asked him if they were nuts. We get in the car, I back out, and guess what folks? You got it. The clouds parted, the rain stopped, and the sun was blinding. Grrr...
During our vacation, I even managed to swing by two Barnes and Noble bookstores and both stores were sold out of X Marks the Scot. Woot! So I signed stock of Temptation in a Kilt. I found myself in the romance section in both stores and turned out the covers of my Sourcebooks sisters and "rearranged" them in a prime location.
When we arrived back at the hotel that night, we found out a tornado touched down at the Denver airport. Seriously. I didn't think Colorado was that dangerous.
The highlight of our vacation had to be the wolves. Yep, you heard me right. Wolves. Did you hear me, Terry Spear? My daughter has been forever fascinated with all-things wolves. Imagine her surprise when her awesome mother paid for her to get her picture taken with a wolf pup.
Through thunder, lightning, forest fires and a tornado, emerged a wonderful family vacation that I know we will always hold dear.
What about you? What is the best family vacation you have ever taken?
Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as "one of the most promising debut authors across the genres" and was also a 2012 Reviewers Choice nominee for Best First Historical for TEMPATION IN A KILT.
X MARKS THE SCOT (Bad Boys of the Highlands #2) was awarded a TOP PICK from Night Owl Reviews, and TO WED A WICKED HIGHLANDER (Bad Boys of the Highlands #3) is scheduled for release September 3, 2013. The first of Victoria's new Royal Rebellion series is scheduled for release fall 2014.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

It's a MUTANT ARC giveaway!

By Macy Beckett

Happy Saturday, fellow romance lovers! I'm Macy Beckett, author of the Sultry Springs series, and I'm here today to offer you a once-in-a-lifetime collector's item: a mutant ARC of my third book, SURRENDER TO SULTRY.

What's a mutant ARC? I'm glad you asked!

It's an advance copy that left the printer looking a little...well, let's say "special." The book was accidentally cut into the shape of a coffin--wide at the top, narrow at the bottom--instead of rectangular. Additionally, the cover image (which has changed since the ARC was printed) is noticibly crooked.

Here's a picture of how SURRENDER TO SULTRY will look on bookstore shelves:

Pretty in Pink!

And here's a picture of the mutant ARC:

A face only a mother could love.

Trust me when I say photos don't do the mutant ARC justice. You'll have to hold it in your hands to appreciate it's...uniqueness. And not to worry--the text is cropped too closely at the bottom of each page, but it's still readable. (Barely.)

Want to be the ONLY PERSON IN THE WORLD to own this beauty? Then enter the easy-peasy rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open internationally. Best of luck!

PS: You can also enter a Goodreads giveaway here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Macy Beckett writes hot and humorous romance set in Sultry Springs, Texas: where first loves find second chances. Her debut novel, SULTRY WITH A TWIST, released in October, and book two, A SHOT OF SULTRY, is now available in stores and online. A third Sultry Springs novel will release in August. Additionally, Macy writes young adult science fiction under the name Melissa Landers. Her debut, ALIENATED, is coming in February, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion. You can learn more about her books—for adults and teens—on her website.

Friday, June 21, 2013

One Road Town

I was just thinking about this today for some reason, I've lived a lot of my life in one-road towns.

When I was a little kid in Lexington Massachusetts, our street went on forever (it was just a mile long according to Google Maps, but I swear, it went on for-ev-er!). My girlfriend (I fell in love with an older woman, I was five, she was six -any wonder that I write romance) lived way far away, about 3/4 of a mile on the same street. It was the only road I knew or cared about.

When I was six, we moved to a town that was literally a crossroads (had to leave my first love behind -though we are still in touch despite the decades [really no surprise that I write romance]). Cow towns in upstate New York are often defined by where two roads meet. I moved around a lot for a while, but one-road towns kept cropping up. Kingston, Washington (where I met and married the love of my life) has only one thru-street.(on which the one a big ferry boat poops out cars on every forty-five minutes shutting the town down until they're through). Then we moved to an island that had several roads, but only the one way on and off the island.

Now I live on the Oregon Coast where Highway 101 is the only north-south road for over a thousand miles along the coast. All people, all commerce, touch that one road to do anything. The post office, the super market, a always touch the one road that connects you to all others.

A one-road town is different from cities or even two-road towns. Walk the one road and you miss nothing. Almost all of the stores are there. Friends are along the streets, places familiar to return to and new ones to discover fresh. There is an easy familiarity quickly born of the one road and the connection that provides.

For me a book has always been a one-road town.

The obvious layer of the metaphor is the main road of the story, the little side streets that break off and the new ones that join. It's not just the chance to explore those adventures, both main street and side.

But it is the next aspect of it that I so enjoy. It's wandering down that thru-street on foot, slowing down enough to see the little surprises, to spend the time with the characters in their place and their story. It's that chance to sort of know the neighbors that I have found in so few cities and so many one-road towns. That's what I so enjoy in writing and in my many one-road home towns.

And the layer beyond that? For me, the one-road town is the place where you can nod hello to someone you don't know without them assuming you want something from them. Even in the modern, one-road town, there's a humanity too often lost. That piece is what I go looking for in every one of my stories.

my latest one-road-town romance

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Steam Punk Time.....

That’s right, it’s time for more Steam Punk romance. I always get a little giddy as one of my books nears its release date. It’s almost like a rediscovery because I worked on the book so many months ago. But it’s coming closer now, A Captain and a Corset, released on June 4.

I get a lot of people asking what Steam Punk is. In a nutshell, it’s Victorian science fiction. The roots of this sub-gene go back to 20,000 leagues Under the Sea. One of my personal favorites is ‘The league of Extraordinary Gentlemen’. I love writing historical and Steam Punk allows me to play, just a bit with that magical element of ‘What if…’.

I think the element I enjoy most is evening the playing field between men and women. Let’s face it, our sisters from eras gone by had fewer rights. When I created the Illuminists, I wanted to give those Victorian gals a chance to have equality and all the beautiful bustle gowns. Just my way of pleasing both my inner little girl princess…got to have the dress….and my adult, taking life on…big girl queen.

A Captain and a Corset will be book two in my Steam Punk saga. You can pick up the first book, A Lady can Never be too Curious right now.


Mary Wine


But then again, it was Bion. Nothing about her pleased him.

“If your glasses were in the correct place, you would not have alarmed other members of the crew,”   he admonished.

“We are not aboard one of your ships, Captain, and I certainly will not be taking advice from you on how I keep myself in my bedroom.” She rose up on her knees, the need to face him head-on burning through any protest her common sense might have made.

“And I am not dressed, sir!”

“I’ve seen you in less.”

Her eyes widened, the deep tone of his voice setting off a ripple of excitement racing along her skin. Her mouth dropped open and satisfaction flickered in his dark eyes, the remains of her composure shredded.

Bion Donkova had fast reflexes, but today she was faster. Her hand connected with his face, delivering a slap that resounded loudly in the morning air.

She expected him to be furious; instead, the man growled. The sound sent her back, the sheer maleness of it making her shiver. Challenge appeared in his eyes and his lips curved up into an arrogant smirk. For a moment, he looked very much like a pirate, the sort of man accustomed to being ruthless in the pursuit of what he craved.

He gripped the footrail of her bed and leaned forward.

“But if you can’t tolerate the threat to your modesty, feel free to cry out. I’m sure Guardian Lawley will be happy to rescue you before you fall victim to a fit of vapors.”

Her temper boiled. If it were possible for steam to rise from her ears, it would have. But her pride refused to let his challenge pass. With a soft hiss, she forced herself to release the bedding and climb out of bed.

The urge to tug her chemise up to cover more of her breasts was also squelched as she lifted her chin and shot him a scorching look.

“I can handle your gutter behavior quite well. Look as you will. All that proves is how much you deserve my contempt.”

She intended to walk past him, but he captured her wrist, his larger hand closing all the way around her limb. It wasn’t the first time he’d manhandled her, but for some reason she was acutely aware of how much strength he had today. Tension curled through her belly, teasing her with a flicker of heat she’d never experienced before. It was dark and tempting and almost irresistible. Almost.

“Release me.”

He chuckled, amusement still flickering in his eyes. His grip tightened a mere fraction, almost as if he might disregard her demand.

Pirate… ruthless and without boundaries. Why had she never realized just what sort of nature he had hidden beneath his formal exterior and endless lectures about duty?

She was trembling, the realization of which cut through her outrage like a rapier. Something in his gaze made it look as if he was reading her thoughts, which was impossible. But she felt it nonetheless.

He pulled her closer, until they were mere inches apart. “I do believe I might just enjoy your attempts to handle my gutter behavior, Miss Stevenson.”

His voice was low and edged with warning. What flared up in the depths of his dark eyes made her shiver. He felt it, that telltale reaction through his grip on her wrist. He smoothed his thumb across the tender skin of her inner wrist before lifting her hand and boldly pressing a kiss against the same spot.

     It was nothing like the kiss Jonathon Saddler had given her. This was scorching hot and it stole her breath. Her heart began to race, feeling as if it were straining to break free of her chest. Every bit of self-control she had seemed to be slipping through her fingers like sand, leaving her without anything to hold on to.

   With a savage jerk, she twisted her wrist, angling to break his grip at the weakest spot, as she’d learn in her Asian fighting classes. He straightened instantly, his larger body adopting a polished fighting stance to prove he knew far more about the Eastern arts than she did. Something lit his eyes, but she shied away from taking a closer look at it. A warning rose up from her mind, telling her to beware of learning more about this side of his nature. Or her reaction to it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Second quarter blues

Not all parts of a book a created equal. Some fly off the fingers, other bits have to be dragged out or coaxed with chocolate and bribes.

And not all tricky bits are the same for all people.

First page fear (or the horror of the blank document) doesn’t bother me as I plot and I know the start. I know the turning points. That pivotal bit in the middle is no drama, the black moment holds no terrors and I love the rush to the end.

I get stuck in the second quarter. That bit that happens sometime after the story has started and the characters have met and the stage has been set and before the big thing in the middle.

Something has to happen for 20,000 words in there….

This is the bit of the story where I also get the wobbles (my characters suck, this story is awful. What was I thinking there’s not enough to make a novel!).

I get the second quarter blues on every story regardless of length. You’d think in a 30,000 word novella it wouldn’t be a drama, but it is.

I have however discovered one way to keep me focused (and surprisingly there is no chocolate involved). That second quarter is where the character get to know each other. It’s the romance building bit of the book so that when that big thing in the middle happens they can get through it.

Yeah, that might be obvious to some people but it’s taken me a few books and revisions to learn that. 

So now as I’m writing that second quarter, while I still wonder what am I doing and how this will ever work, I’m thinking about how the characters are getting closer and why they are falling in love.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Spinning into a New World by Sara Humphreys

When writing a series, I think one of the most challenging things is to keep it fresh. There are several series I've read that I thoroughly enjoyed, but after awhile the books can seem repetitive. So what's an author to do? I want to stay engaged with my readers and give them something fresh. However, there's still the desire to give them a hint of familiarity. 

Then it hit me...a spin off series! Why not introduce new characters and a new layer to the Amoveo world and then give these characters their own series? So that's exactly what I've done.

In UNDONE, the fourth Amoveo Legend novel, readers get to meet my vampires in NYC. Olivia Hollingsworth is a three century old vampire who owns a nightclub called The Coven. She runs the joint out of an old church in Greenwich Village and is also the head of an all female vampire coven.  Readers will get a peek at Olivia and her sexy little coven in UNDONE but then my vamps will be getting their own series---Dead in the City. 

There will be five books in the vamp series, with each of the girls in the coven getting their own story. The first book, Tall, Dark, and Vampire will be out August 6th and tells Olivia's love story. The Dead in the City series is grittier than my Amoveo novels but readers will still see some familiar faces throughout. For example, in Vampire Trouble (DIC #2) readers are going to see how Boris and Lilian (UNDENIED) are doing as they lend a hand to the vamps. As a reader, I love it when authors intertwine their series so I can see how characters from past stories are doing. 

I'll be honest, I knew my vampires were going to be in the Amoveo series at some point but not all of my characters are planned. When I was writing UNDONE, a new character showed up and completely changed the game. I had no idea that Asmodeus existed until I was writing Pete and Marianna's story but about half way through the book...there he was. 

However, he didn't go away after UNDONE was completed. Nope. He hung around and told me that if anyone deserved their own story it was him. Well, he is the Demon of Lust so the guy clearly isn't lacking confidence. 

Hence a second spin off was born. Princes of Hell is a series I'm self-publishing and each book will be released in "episodes" Essentially, it's a serialized novel. Part One of ASMODEUS: Demon of Lust will be released at the end of this month. 

If you'd like to be notified when it's released, please sign up for my newsletter.

I can't wait to take readers to these new worlds and I can only imagine where my characters will take us next.

Dream on....