Sunday, March 31, 2013

Earlybird Launch Party & giveaway: BITE ME, YOUR GRACE



Since the day I began taking writing seriously, I've daydreamed about the release of my debut novel. Now it's happening for real.

It is nothing like I imagined. It is so much more.

It is more BUSY than I imagined. Promotion, preparations for my first ever signing, emails with my fabulous publicist, interviews and blog posts for my virtual tour.... WOW!

It is more EXCITING than I imagined. Preliminary reviews from prominent critics and book bloggers have been pouring in. People on Goodreads are adding MY book to their lists. Friends, family and acquaintances are cheering me on with sincerity that brings me to happy tears.

It is more SURREAL than I imagined. Holy wow! I have a book coming out! It has a gorgeous cover, I got to hold it in my hand. Posters and bookmarks, dude! People are reading it! R.L. Stine tweeted about it! (He was amused by the title.) Authors I admire, old and new favorites, are offering encouragement and support! I'm still afraid I'm dreaming.

It is not THE BOOK I imagined. BITE ME, YOUR GRACE was my third novel and I'd been on the verge of trunking it when Sourcebooks offered me a contract. But that's another story. :)

It is ONLY THE BEGINNING. As I face the release of my first book, I am working on edits for book 2, finishing the rough draft of book 3, and brainstorming subsequent works. This is my career. This is my future.

And I've never been happier.

In the midst of this joyful chaos, I will take time to celebrate and you are all invited. Without readers, this wouldn't have been possible.

BITE ME, YOUR GRACE releases April 2nd, but one person who comments will win a copy today! (Leave your email so I can notify you.)



England's "vampire craze" causes much vexation for the Lord Vampire of London, Ian Ashton. To save his reputation, Ian enlists aspiring authoress Angelica Winthrop without realizing she has hidden plans of her own.

Angelica Winthrop's life goal is to ruin her reputation, avoid marriage, and become a gothic authoress like her idol, Mary Shelley. To find inspiration for her new story, she breaks into the home of Ian Ashton, Duke of Burnrath, not knowing she will be coming up against the Lord Vampire of London. Romance sparks and reputations are at stake. But who knows the real difference between fact and fiction?



Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reader Events - Are you going by C.H. Admirand

So many reader events to choose from during the year--from the insanely busy mega-conventions to the quiet and intimate smaller venues. Here are just a few...I'm looking forward to attending the following events this year.

I've already received my mega-book order for RT, so be sure to arrive early before the books and giveaways are all gone. If you're going, please look for me! I love chatting with readers :)







Barbara Vey’s 2nd Annual Reader Appreciation Luncheon
April 27th, 2013 10am-3pm Crown Plaza Hotel, 6401 South 13th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53221.  I’m delighted to have been asked to sponsor a table…and am planning the goodies right now :) Here’s the link http://barbaraveyreaders.com/

 

 

RT Book Lover's Convention 5/1-5/5/13 ~Sheraton City @ Crowne Center, Kansas City, MO. Here's the link: https://www.rtconvention.com/register Some of the things I'll be doing during RT:

  • Pre-convention: I'll be at the Kansas City Public Library on Monday at the "Romance Comes to Kansas City" reception and author panel  

  • Hosted Author @ the Cowboy Corral     

  • Hosted Author @ the Afternoon Delight Bookseller & Librarian Luncheon
  • Panelist on the Graphic Novel Panel 

    Signing at the Graphic & EBook Expo and Mega-Book Fair

     

Authors After Dark 8/15-18/13 Savannah, GA. I'm one of the authors hosting the Elemental Masque--we're Earth Elementals :) Here's the link: http://www.authorsafterdark.org/


 

 

 Lora Leigh’s RAW 2013 Registration is Open. September 19-22, 2013 Clarion Hotel, Hagerstown, MD Check out the lineup of authors attending here http://www.llraw.com/ and new registration fee…$100 (hotel and travel not included). I’m looking forward to attending for the third year in a row. Lora Leigh is a gracious hostess and a fabulous author, we’d love to have you join in the fun!

 

 

 

In June, book two in my small town series, will release: ONE DAY IN APPLE GROVE--Cait and Jack's story, so I'll definitely be signing it at AAD in Savannah in August and Lora Leigh's RAW in September :)


Back to deadline with edits for book 3: Welcome Back to Apple Grove...nose to the grindstone, tweaking....due Monday :)

Happy Reading!
C.H.


Friday, March 29, 2013

No Pirate Life for Me and a Giveaway by Sara Humphreys

Up until a couple of years ago, if someone said the word "pirate" I would automatically think of super-hot Johnny Depp. I don't care if he has funky teeth, he's dishy.
However, since I've had the good fortune to be a published author, there's a far less sexy kind of pirate out there---the eBook pirate.  This is when someone takes an eBook and posts it on a "file sharing" site so that others can download it for free.

Not cool.

It's not the same as passing a friend the paperback you just enjoyed. When you hand someone an actual book they are the only person reading it.  Don't get me wrong. All of us authors love it when you share your excitement about our books, that's how things catch on.

However, when someone posts an eBook on one of these pirate sites, anyone on the planet with internet access can download it. This translates to thousands upon thousands of dollars stolen from every author and publisher.

So not cool.

The good news is that most readers don't do this. I love my readers and I don't think I can ever thank them enough for their continued support. My only request is that they don't download any of my books,  or any other author's books, from sites like this.

All Romance Ebooks has created a petition to stop eBook piracy. I signed it and hope you will too! Please feel free to share it with your friends as well.

I also posted a video about all this stuff as well, and even though my hair is totally out of control and I strongly resemble Medusa, you are welcome to share that too.


To thank my super fab readers for their support, I'm giving away a signed set of Amoveo books. Unleashed, Untouched, Untamed and an arc of Undone.

To be entered simply comment here or share this video on your Facebook page and  tag my FB author page in the post. Contest ends March 31st at 11:59pm. I'll post the winner on April 1st.



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Conference Season Is Coming...

by Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior



It’s that time of year, folks!  Conference season is practically upon us.  My colleague Deb Werksman is heading to the Pike’s Peak conference in Colorado in a few weeks, and that same weekend I’ll at the Washington Romance Writers Retreat, which I’m super excited about.  A few short weeks after that we’ll have the team in Kansas City for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention.  And, of course, we’ll also be at the nationalRWA conference in July.  Whew!

We’re starting to work on presentations now, and I want to know what YOU want to know.  This is your chance: ask me anything in the comment section below.  I'll be responding for the next week.

Look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Visit to the Rainforest! Moody Gardens Style!



Have you ever tried to grow orchids? They're gorgeous, but I haven't had any success with growing them in the house.  But just think how these beautiful flowers grow everywhere in the rainforest!  25,000-30,000 varieties. :)


 Some are truly fragrant. Think of how it would be, winding your way through the rainforest and seeing these growing in the trees wild.



 Solid? Speckled? :)

You know what waterfalls are for, right??? :)

Don't you love when something fun reminds you of something fun every time you see it? Like a waterfall in a particular rainforest jungle? :)

So I just had to get a picture of it, so I could envision, well...jungle cats beneath the waterfall. Ah...those were the days.
If you read Savage Hunger--you know what I mean--beyond the jungle are orchids and parrots and monkeys and Maya Anderson serving as a jaguar guard while you and Connor are... Well behind the waterfall...it's left up to your imagination.

 Wouldn't you love to  have a good feather day any day? No muss or fuss with feather styles. No dying the feathers. Just look like this no matter the weather?

 These monkeys roam free in Moody Gardens rainforest. So if they swing overhead, don't look up!
 
This is what you'll find in the real Amazon rainforest too--monkeys, colorful parrots, orchids and other colorful birds and flowers, and a jaguar or two!!!
Coming August 2013!
 
 

And I'm currently working on Jaguar Heat! Third book in the big sexy cat series! :)

 
I couldn't get any takers to go with me to the Amazon to do some research, so Moody Gardens rainforest was the next best thing!!! :)
 
 
What do you all think? Have you envisioned what it would be like under that waterfall with Connor yet??? Made him purr?
 
Have a super Wednesday! It's the magical hump day! And all yours!
 
Terry Spear
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"
www.terryspear.com
 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Pick Your Fictional Boyfriend


by Samantha Grace

I might as well face it; I’m addicted to love. (Thank you, Robert Palmer, for helping me to see the truth about myself.) It’s true, though. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with love. I wasn’t even in school yet when I became glued to the TV watching The Dating Game. And The Newlywed Game? OMG!!! It was my favorite. Later there was The Love Connection and my most recent obsession is The Bachelor/Bachelorette.

Yes, I’ll proudly say I’m a fan of these shows, because ultimately I WANT everyone to have their HEA. I figure finding that perfect person can happen anyplace, so why not a show? It doesn’t mean I think the set-up is magical, but it makes a great story when it works out. I think I might have been a matchmaker in a previous life. How perfect that I became a romance writer, right?

The other things I enjoy are those quizzes you find in magazines. Love quizzes are the best! So, I decided to mash together two of my favorite things—matchmaking & quizzes—for today’s blog. Hence, I present…(drum roll, please)

HOW TO PICK YOUR FICTIONAL BOYFRIEND:

Choose the letter that best fits. Count the number of As, Bs, Cs, and Ds you answered. Then see below to see which Beau Monde Bachelor would make the perfect fictional boyfriend for you!

Your idea of a romantic date includes:
       a. A pleasurable ride in a carriage (wink, wink)
       b. A moonlit stroll in the gardens
       c. A dinner cruise, every night for several weeks
       d. A day of fishing topped off with a picnic and a swim

Your favorite expression of affection is:
a. Your love calling you by a pet name
b. Gifts! Anything sparkly will do
c. A playful swat on the rump
d. Flowers and a sweet note

You would have most in common with a man who:
a. Shows interest in horses
b. Engages in charity work
c. Loves the ocean
d. Enjoys travel

Your ideal man is:
a. Witty, good natured, and quite the lover
b. Loveable and scorching hot
c. A bad boy who likes to be in control
d. An adventurer in all things

Flaw that would bother you the least:
a. History of being a lady’s man
b. Your man being a bit of a klutz, but smooth on the dance floor and other places it counts
c. Overbearing and stubborn
d. Rarely takes things seriously, even when he should

You would most appreciate a man who would:
a. Be good at teasing you out of a bad mood
b. Make efforts to win over your best friend
c. Be nice to your family
d. Accept you for who you are

You would be most likely to fall in love with a man who:
a. Changes his ways because he loves you
b. Has never doubted his love for you
c. Would risk his life to keep you and your family safe
d. Would stand by your side no matter what

If you chose mostly…

A – Lord Andrew Forest, the hero from Miss Hillary Schools a Scoundrel, is your perfect match. He's a disreputable rake with no intentions of settling for one woman, but a good lady with just the right wit and bravery to call him on his bad behavior could be all it takes to make this scoundrel want to reform. 

B – Jake Hillary, the hero from Lady Amelia’s Mess and a Half, is your type of man. He's like the Superman/Clark Kent of regency. He’s the dependable guy you may not have noticed, except for the fact he’s sexy as hell. Kind, honest, and honorable, he’s looking to be some lucky lady’s superhero, and in return, she can save him from a life without love.

C – Daniel Hillary, the hero from Miss Lavigne’s Little White Lie, is the lover boy meant for you. A rakish ship captain with a painful past, he hides behind his sexy smiles and lewd suggestions. But the right lady can unlock his secrets and convince him that he’s worthy of love.

D – Luke Forest, the hero from Lady Vivian Defies a Duke, is the duke for you. He's a man at the top, at least he would be if an accident from his past didn’t make him unsuited to lead his family. His adventurous spirit has been steering him to lands afar. Perhaps all it would take is a lady who understands him to point him back in the right direction. 







If you would like to begin your fictional romance today, leave a comment telling me which bachelor is for you and an email address. I’ll choose a winner to receive a book from the series, reader’s choice. Open internationally. (Lady Vivian Defies a Duke won't be released until May 2013, but I have an advanced reader copy I’d be willing to share.) 

PS – YOUR BACHELOR CHOICE DOESN'T HAVE TO MATCH THE BOOK YOU WOULD LIKE TO WIN! 

Wishing you all a happily-ever-after in real life! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dave Grohl on Voice, by Tamara Hogan

Dave and me, hanging @ The
Experience Music Project, Seattle
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a massive Dave Grohl fangirl. (Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana, and created Foo Fighters.)  So when I heard Dave was keynoting South By Southwest 2013, I blocked out an hour on my day job's Outlook calendar so I could watch the webcast uninterrupted.

Dave didn't disappoint. In an f-bomb-laden, highly personal speech, and sporting ridiculously sexy reading glasses, Dave brought us along on his personal journey, one in which he was inspired by punk music, protected his independence, and developed and nurtured his individual voice.

Voice. It's an aspect of art that musicians and writers share. It's a tone, or a worldview, that makes a piece of work - or a body of work - belong uniquely to its creator.   

"There is no right or wrong, there is only your voice. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it's (expletive) gone."

"Am I the best drummer in the world? Certainly not. Am I the best singer/songwriter? Not even in this (expletive) room. But I have been left alone to find my voice."

"I am the musician, and I come first." These words, spoken with such assurance, shrilled into my very bones.

I am the writer, and I come first. Sometimes, on days when I feel like the tiny cog whose furious spinning keeps the other, larger cogs moving, it can be easy to forget that. Without a manuscript - a good manuscript - the whole machine grinds to a halt.

I could quote from this keynote for hours, but I think I'll just let the man speak for himself. Here's Dave, being all hot 'n wise 'n awesome. The video is 49:32, and the language is NSFW, unless you're a telecommuter like me, and can listen to whatever you damn well please. ;-)


Are there lessons that we as writers can learn from musicians, and publishing learn from the music industry? If so, what do you think those lessons are? 

Is there a writer whose voice you adore? Which book do you recommend I read to get a taste?   

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Ode to Spring, by Cheryl Brooks

Seems like a lot of us have been writing about Spring here on the Casablanca blog, but I'm beginning to think we aren't going to have one, mainly because we had Spring last Fall.

Remember when the rains finally came and the weather stayed warm into December, and then suddenly, it was winter? That's my prediction for this Spring/Summer season. One day, we'll be wearing our winter coats, and the next, we'll be in shorts. It all evens out eventually. Maybe not the way we want it to, but then, we've never had much control over Mother Nature, unless you want to count global warming, which is more pervasive than the day to day stuff.

I've already had my book release for the year, so I don't have anything to pimp, but I'm still getting reviews of Wildcat, most of which have been favorable. Next up is a self-pubbed contemporary erotic romance trilogy, and I hope to have the first one up by the end of April. I know a lot of people who've been able to quit their day jobs because of self-publishing royalties. Me, I did it backwards, quitting the night job before making my fortune as an author. Might be the worst mistake of my life or it could turn out to be the best. Only time will tell.

I only have one more book under contract with Sourcebooks. After the release of Rascal, I'll probably be leaving the Casablanca blog, which is sad because I'm one of the few originals left. I'm sure I'll miss all of you, but I'm not gone yet, and you never know what the future will bring.

We might even have Spring this year.

PS Here's a hunk for you, Amelia. *;) winking The rest of you can close your eyes.



Friday, March 22, 2013

The Cutting Room Floor

My critique partner says, "Don't throw away a scene. You never know when it might be useful." Well, for my latest book, Flirting Under a Full Moon (coming April 2,) a lot of scenes were taken out...but not thrown away. It looks like this one might be useful as a blog!

This is the scene where werewolf Nick meets vampire Anthony.

Anthony ran to the altercation as quickly as humanly possible. Until he knew what kind of creatures of the night these three were, showing his vampiric speed could be dangerous, since paranormals were still in the closet, at least in this part of the world.

He reached them just in time. The big guy clenched his fists and shook as if ready to let loose on the other two. He looked as if he could tear them to shreds with his bare hands, if he wanted to. The street light glinted off metal blades in the other guys’ hands.

Anthony forced his way between them. “Hold on,” he said in a commanding tone.

“I’ve got this,” the big guy said.

“It seems to me you could use some assistance.”

The big blond, broad-shouldered man sniffed the air. “I smell death.”

The fight seemed to drain out of the smaller two and they stepped back, staring at them.

This was too easy.

 Anthony knew his appearance could be intimidating. His black clothing made his pale face appear stark. Still, that was no reason to be feared. He did kind of look like the stereotypical vampire. Longish, shaggy dark hair. Gray steely eyes. He imagined his piercing gaze and intensity was what the humans were reacting to.

Then he realized his fangs had descended. Oops.

“Let’s get out of here,” one of the young men said.

The other one didn’t need to be convinced. He turned on his heel and ran. Anthony appeared in front of them and snagged their gazes.

“You will not remember seeing me tonight. You will forget about the confrontation with the other man. Now return to your homes and get a good night’s sleep.”

He watched as they rounded the corner and disappeared from sight.

The big man eyed him warily.

Anthony gave him a sardonic smile. “What? You’re not going to run away and make me mesmerize you too?”

The guy let out a booming laugh. “Since when do werewolves run away from vamps?”

“I see. Since when do werewolves get involved in scuffles with humans?”    

“When the werewolf is recognized as the off duty cop who arrested their gang brother earlier this week.”

“Ah.”

After briefly sizing up the other guy, Anthony extended the hand of friendship. He didn’t know if the wolf would accept it or not, but he had no beef with him. “I’m Anthony Cross.” To his surprise, the wolf shook his hand without hesitation.

“Nick Wolfensen.”

“Pleased to meet you, Officer Wolfensen.”

“Just call me Nick, when I’m not in uniform.”

Anthony nodded. “Fine. Nick then.”

“I didn’t realize vamps were in this part of the city. It’s pretty popular with tourists and the locals are kind of…”

“Snooty?” Anthony supplied.

Nick laughed. “Yeah. That’s one word for it. I was going to say exclusive. They don’t like unsavory elements mucking up their high end area. And if one of them goes missing, believe me, it’s noticed.”

“I see. So, do you live around here?”

The werewolf leaned back and scrutinized him. “Why do you want to know?”

“I guess werewolves aren’t considered unsavory?”

Nick laughed again. “Naw, we just blend in better—as long as the moon isn’t full. The vamps have a nest near the airport. I’m guessing you’re new in town or you’d probably know that.”

“I’m not interested in nesting with other vampires. Group mentality brings nothing but trouble.”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

“But you wolves run in packs. Are you saying that you don’t have one?”

Nick’s expression clouded and he appeared on guard again. “My pack is…in transition.”
 
 

So why was this scene cut? Well, because it took place five years before the beginning of our story. It really wasn't necessary to the story's enjoyment. We know Nick and Anthony became good friends. It doesn't really matter how or when. Fortunately, by cutting it (and a few others) we were able to get to the action sooner and introduce our heroine right away.

Now, the book starts like this:



Over the din of clinking ice and lively con

versation, the entire bar heard waitress Brandee Hanson wail, "Dumped in a text message? Really?"


Suddenly the place quieted. Heat crept up her neck, and she dropped her BlackBerry into her apron pocket. She was about to slink off to the ladies’ room when Sadie Maven, the owner’s eccentric aunt, waved her over to the booth she regularly occupied.

"Have a seat, dear. Let me do a quick reading for you—on the house." Sadie was already shuffling her tarot cards.

Brandee slumped onto the opposite bench and set down her tray.

"I had a premonition about you just now." Sadie winked. "It might make you feel better."

Brandee sighed. "I’m all for feeling better. Just don’t talk about my love life. I’ve sworn off men."

"Since when?"

"Since just now."

Sadie spread the cards across the table. "Pick one."

Brandee pulled one card from the middle and turned it over. On it was a picture of a couple entwined in a passionate embrace, and the text beneath proclaimed:


The Lovers.


"Ah. I was right. You’ll meet your true love soon. In fact, he could be the next man to walk through that door."
Psychic Sadie nodded toward Boston Uncommon’s Charles Street entrance.

Brandee gazed at the door expectantly. It swung open and a tall, blond, broad-shouldered hunk of a man breezed in.
Oh no. It couldn’t be.


"One-Night Nick? Are you kidding me?" She burst out laughing.


Sadie shrugged one shoulder. "You never know…"

Brandee picked up her tray and returned to work, still chuckling and shaking her head.

"What put that smile on your face, beautiful? Besides seeing me, of course." Nick Wolfensen grabbed a stool and sat on it backward. Even with the stool’s height, his big feet hit the floor. His powerful thighs bulged under his blue jeans. That wasn’t the only bulge she thought she saw.

Brandee knew her regulars and Nick was a good tipper. She’d play nice, even though Sadie’s omen sat uncomfortably in the back of her mind. "Just something Sadie said. I think I’ve served her one too many White Russians."

"Well, you haven’t served me at all, girl. I’m parched."

I hope you'll pick up a copy of Flirting Under a Full Moon if you don't win one of the many copies going out during my big blog tour. You can check my news blog for the schedule of where I'll be.
http://ashlynchase.blogspot.com/
The madness starts in late March and goes through the entire month of April. How do you feel about blog tours?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Y'all Are Invited by Grace Burrowes

When somebody explained to me that introverts recharge their emotional and even physical batteries in solitude, I wasn't even school age, but my reaction was, "THAT'S ME!" Growing up in a family of nine, solitude was at a premium, and having the house to myself--even having a room to myself--was a rare and delicious treat.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring All Winter

by Olivia Cunning

When I moved to Texas last July, I knew that my winters wouldn't really be winters anymore--not by a Midwesterner's standards. Last winter, I still lived in Nebraska and this is the kind of thing I dealt with for several long, depressing months.


I remember using this thingie a lot. Ugh! I hate this thingie.


Driving was an icy, slick nightmare for three months. I had to dress in layers. I was always, always cold. And as someone who suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I would spend months trapped indoors feeling, well, sad. I even owned one of those fancy blue lights and sat in front of it for half an hour a day. It helped. A little. But it didn't do anything for my constant state of cold.

I hate winter. I never understood the appeal of snow. To me, snow means a lot of back-breaking shoveling and dangerous driving conditions. Apparently, some people think it's pretty. It does cover the ugly dead landscape of winter. I'll give it that.

Each winter, I get at least one really horrible cold. And most winters, I get two. I never really thought about why we call them colds. I guess because they are more common in the winter, when it is cold. (Aren't you amazed by my powers of perception?) I didn't get a cold this year. Not even a slight one. This is particularly unusual because I'm in a new environment, which means I'm not immune to the germs here. Usually when I move to a new state, I get sick more often than usual. Apparently, the salty, humid air kicks germ-arse. Rock on, salty sea air!

I soon discovered that I love taking walks on the beach in JANUARY. And instead of stomping snow off my boots before I enter the house, I'm stomping off the sand from my shoes. It's the most awesome thing EVAH! This is photo of Galveston's Pleasure Pier. Sounds a lot more risque than it is! And I didn't visit it this winter, though I could have. It was open on weekends. I did walk under it regularly on my beach strolls, however.


When I told my Midwestern friends and family that I'd had enough of winter and I was moving south, they told me how much I'd miss winter. They said wise things like, "Christmas doesn't feel like Christmas unless it's cold." So I went home to visit my family in the Midwest for Christmas. And guess what? It snowed as soon as I arrived. Seriously. I hadn't been there an hour when it started snowing. Everyone was like, "Hooray, a white Christmas! Aren't you glad you got to see snow this winter?" No! It reminded me why I hate winter. I was so glad to get back to Texas. I do miss my Midwestern friends and family (greatest people on Earth, in my opinion), but I do not miss winter. At all. I keep trying to lure them south. I think they're were starting to take a shine to the idea after they received twelve inches of snow a few weeks ago and then another twelve inches only days later. How you liking that pretty white stuff now? I texted my sister from my lounge chair on the beach. I accompanied the text with a picture of the surf. Yes, I'm evil.

There is one small thing that I do miss about winter. I can't look forward to spring. I remember how excited I would get when the freaking snow finally melted and the first spring flowers emerged from the cold ground. Tulips. Daffodils. Crocus. Hyacinth. I loved seeing their bright blooms rising above the dead foliage of winter. And the grass would turn green. The trees would start to leaf out. It was the best time of the year. Life reemerging after the cold, still death of the winter months.


So for about ten minutes, I was a bit depressed that I wasn't in Midwest enjoying the vibrant spring flowers and then I realized, I'd had spring all winter long. The flowers never stopped blooming here. There are a few very confused deciduous trees that lost their leaves for a couple of months, but the landscape was green all winter long. And the palm trees are as pretty as ever.

So the verdict is in. I love having spring all winter. Two seasons--spring and hotter than hell summer--work just fine for me, thank you very much. Those wise friends and family who warned me about how I'd regret the lack of winter were just plain wrong. Sorry, folks. I love you, but not your climate. I now think they gave that advice because they have no idea how great it is to not freeze your tushie off for four months a year. How fabulous it feels to never touch an ice scraper or a snow shovel. How wonderful it is to take a walk in January in the sunshine without a parka, hat, gloves, and scarf. Though Texans wear parkas when it's 45 degrees out. Funniest thing I've ever seen. So no, I really don't mind being woken by seagulls at seven a.m. Having spring all winter is swell.

So how was your winter? Mine rocked! It was one Hot Ticket. (I had to get my plug in there somehow.)